Tuesday, February 21, 2017

And just like that... she is 8!


Anna and Hope June 2011... Awwww... where has the time gone?  

And just like that, our Hopie girl turned 8! 

            

HOPE: to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence... to expect... 

When we were waiting for a child after Samuel died... We were grieving with Hope... waiting with Hope... and Waiting for Hope!   We were expecting that if it was in His will, the Lord would add to our family through adoption and He answered with our Hopie girl!

She is full of spunk... and a whole lot more... Raising her has taught us a lot and taught us that there is so much about parenting that we don't know or understand...

She were able to spend her birthday with out of town relatives so that was especially fun for her!

We are so thankful that God chose us to be her family!  Adoption is such a gift and has changed our family in so many ways.  We are in awe of all that He has done for us and through Hope's life so far.

 Our prayer for her is that she will seek HIM always, that she will follow him closely and know that she is deeply loved by him and us... That she will always know her life has great value,she was created with a great life purpose, and that she will trust him with her future!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How did we get here so fast??




A few weeks back we took Caleb to visit the University that he hopes to attend... Concordia University in Wisconsin... Never in a million years would I have thought we would have any kids that would attend the college we met at... but here we are...

More importantly... HOW ON EARTH DO WE HAVE A CHILD THAT COULD LEAVE FOR COLLEGE IN THE FALL!   

I am totally heartbroken (that our time with him at home is coming to a close:( and...
TOTALLY thrilled and excited for him all at the same time.  We are super proud of him!

We are still waiting on financial aid numbers, but do 100% feel that this could be a great fit for Caleb.  He is currently working really hard taking 3 dual credit classes online through CUW right now so he is getting a good taste of what it will be like:) 

He met with the soccer coaches and hopes to be able to play for them just like his dad:) 

All in all, we would be thrilled with him being in a safe Christian environment and his very best friend just got accepted and we couldn't be more thrilled with the 2 of them taking this journey together! 

Most likely he has another really good friend, a couple seminary friends and His partner in crime, his cousin Callie, who will be there also!  I know they are going to have too much fun!  I am so excited  and happy for him... The time has passed entirely too quickly for this mama!



My sweet friend Katie lives nearby so were able to meet for a super brief visit just one day before her new little one arrived.  Katie and I met because her daughter Emily is probably hanging out with Samuel in Heaven. 

 Wow, what a full circle moment for us... I tearfully prayed for the safe arrival of her little man in the parking lot.  There is just something about these HUGE life events that are FULLY understood by one another because we both have lived through the loss of baby, that just can't be denied.  We rejoice that he is here safe and sound... and is downright precious!  We are thanking God for Jonah's safe arrival... something that is never taken for granted by us! 


Life is moving at mach speed... So I hope to be a little better about updating... mostly for my own families sake as in the years ahead they may like to look back upon their busy life growing up:)  




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

God's AMAZING provision ALWAYS!

Good Morning Friends!  I have the most amazing story of God's faithfulness! 

In this broken world it is SO good and SO IMPORTANT to recall the faithfulness of God through the little and BIG moments of life. 

Whether it is recalling…

The times that he walked us through challenging circumstances in each adoption journey…

Or the time he literally moved in my heart to contact a complete stranger, our embryo donor mom, with the strangest question of all… “Would you consider our family for your embryos?” And then came Levi… and some most precious relationships to my heart….

Or the time he literally moved a stranger’s family all the way from Sweden… because He knew it would be the family that we “needed” to help walk along side our broken hearts as we begun to heal after losing our sweet Samuel.

Or the time we arrived at our new home here to find the refrigerator stocked upon our past midnight arrival… Breakfast for 9 coming right up after we woke up exhausted after literally dodging tornadoes in the van and moving truck on the move up to Illinois

Time and time again I can recall His incredible faithfulness to protect and provide for us… and this past fall and Christmas has been no different…


The adoption journey is a stretch for most people… It is costly, both emotionally and financially… 

With each adoption we have opened that door saying, “ Yes Lord, we are willing to open our hearts and home to another precious child to love… Move if it is your will…”  And move He has…  At times I look back and am amazed at the fact that He multiplied our finances to allow us to adopt Hope, Isaiah, and do Levi’s embryo adoption all within 4 years… It should have been impossible on a pastor’s salary… But that is always when God moves…

And moving mountains is exactly what God has been doing behind the scenes as of late.  Let me explain our recent car situation… We have a big van that carries all of us, a small car that gets good gas mileage, and a vintage 1993 jeep that came to us at a steal of a price from church members that were moving.  (Caleb did recently purchase his own car that is up on blocks in the garage providing the perfect bonding opportunity for Greg and him as they work to fix it up)

This past fall, on my way to work I literally phoned a friend asking to borrow their moped… The car I was driving was making me deaf (muffler troubleJ) and almost had me asphyxiated by the time I got to work… It just so happened that our cars were having trouble all at the same time and we only had one working car… And with Greg’s job, me working very part time for FMSC, 2 teens with jobs, a busy houseful… it just wasn’t cutting it on a daily basis while Greg worked to get the cars repaired.  These friends were so very gracious to loan us a car till we had ours up and running again. 

We knew we had to do something because all of the cars were getting high in miles and replacing them all at the same time wouldn’t be feasible for us financially… So Greg began to look at different options for replacing our smaller vehicle… After a few months of looking we did find a good deal on a car with good gas mileage… We were so grateful that now we could have one newer very reliable car.

That brings me to the present… On the 23rd of December Greg, most of the kids and I, and a close friend went down to the city to give a Christmas party for about 30 kids at an inner city school.  We arrived home and right before dinner our head pastor called and asked that we all bundle up and meet him up by the front of church in 10 minutes.

We all got ready and headed up to church across the snowy parking lot… When we got up to church we were greeted by the head pastor’s family, a few more close friends, the church communications director, and a gal that works for a Lutheran Charity organization near by…

The kids were all asking what was up... and I told them I felt like there must be members coming to Christmas carol to us or something...

They had us all lined up by the door…

And up drove a brand new 2017 Ford Transit van…with a huge red bow on it...




There before us was a gift for our family from a very generous donor… a gift from Goda new van

 It has so many things on it that I would never think we would have in a car… It is beyond my wildest dream of what I would think we could ever own…

We were absolutely floored! It took Greg 5 minutes to pick his jaw up off the floor… I was in tears as well as a few of the kids…

I was just totally blown away… How could someone be so very generous?  Why would someone do this?  We are so undeserving of this amazing gift…

And just like that God knocks our socks off with His continued provision for us… And as usual, it isn’t just a van that works, but He goes above and beyond to give us so much more than we thought possible…

I spoke with the donor last week and the wife said, “We have been so blessed!  It is from God, our money is your money.”  And she meant it… She knows that their financial security is a gift from God and they wanted to share with us what really has come from HIM… Wow, it seriously reminds me of the early church where everyone shared what they had with those in need... That doesn't happen that often anymore... and most have a very different view of their own money certainly being their own... I was blown away by their amazing view on their finances, their kindness, and their tremendous generosity to us!!! 

So I share this not at all to boast about this gift, that couldn't be further from my heart... I share rather to encourage your hearts…

Don’t ever underestimate the power of God to do whatever it is that you need him to do… If you feel Him leading you to do something... GO FOR IT!  Take that leap of faith... I know HE will be faithful to you, just as I have seen his faithfulness time and time again.  

Early on January 1st, I was reflecting on all the ways He has taken care of us and all that He is to me… He has taken me from broken hearted and redeemed my shattered life... 

He is my healer, my comfort, my salvation, my rock, my daily provider. 

He will do the same for you…
Save you…
Comfort you…
Heal you…
Be your joy and rock…
And be your PROVIDER!!!

Things certainly don’t always come to pass as we would think or hope that they might.  His ways are certainly not our ways… but His ways are best for sure…

Rest in the promises of His love for you… and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He wants to take care of you… Never does He leave or forsake us… and so often He will blow us away with the amazing ways that He takes care of us in the best ways possible for us…

His way… 



Thursday, December 15, 2016

One of 2016's most unexpected gifts


I wouldn't have imagined at the beginning of 2016 that I would stumble upon one of the most unexpected blessings of 2016... and that it would be a part time job...  I just didn't really see it coming or expect it be such a gift to my heart...


I have rarely worked outside of our home for the past 19 years... That changed this past year as I accepted a part time pre-school teaching position at our churches school.  I LOVED it and Levi and Isaiah were able to come and be a part of my class...

But lets be honest... my own home is pretty full of little ones, and after getting Kaliyah it just felt right be give up that job...

I picked up a very part time job at Feed My Starving Children... FMSC...
Strangely enough, I pretty much took Louis' job after he moved from the site here in town to FMSC's mobilepack division... Funny thing taking over my son's job...



I am so thankful for my blood family, my church family... and this year the addition of my FMSC family... and that is truly what it is...

We pray together before the evening shifts... We have a common goal in mind, to feed God's kids hungry in body and spirit...

Seriously, every time I share a story of one of the kids we have fed, I can't help but picture my own kids...

Why are we so fortunate and blessed to live here and have all our needs taken care of... I can't imagine watching one of my own kids wither away... all because they don't have enough food to eat...  So hard...




So what is FMSC's answer... our meal packs... at $.22 a meal we are turning hunger into hope and all done by the hands of volunteers... Last year alone they packed 272 million meals!

This past weekend at our Hope Filled Holiday Mobilepack, right in our hometown, we packed over 1.4 million meals... It was amazing to be a part of...

God was moving and the volunteers came out despite the snowstorm that dumped somewhere between 7-12  inches of snow on our city...

Even Isaiah came to help... Turns out... he wasn't much help... But he sure was cute!


Nearly 200 of our St. Peter family came out to help us pack at the last session of the day! It was like my two worlds were colliding... and I loved it!  It is such a gift to serve alongside all of them! 
Here is the St. Peter group after the packing session!  Great looking bunch! 


FMSC is a non profit so it isn't like anyone works there for the big bucks... I am so impressed by the hearts of those I work with...  A big handful of site workers and volunteers came out to the mobilepack and gave of their time to help... They was a huge blessing during clean up as well! 

 They work and serve with us because they believe that when we all work together we can be the change that is so needed... Taking the eyes off of ourselves on onto those who REALLY need the help!

My sweet friend Gina at Hope Filled Holiday... 


The Mobile pack team for Hope Filled Holiday... Woot woot... we got the job done!  And we were all exhausted after 3 very long, but super amazing days!



Where else can you possibly come pack food with the Storm Troopers?


One of my friends from FMSC even took the time to make these amazingly delicious and beautifully decorated cupcakes with the FMSC logo on them for Lou's graduation party a couple of months ago. She is so talented... 



This kids expression says it ALL when he found out how many kids they fed for a year after their packing session... How precious is that?


All by the grace of God that this food gets packed, shipped out, and these kids get fed!  We believe in the power of prayer and every single box of food is prayed over after it is packed and before it is shipped!



I can't even fully explain it... I love mission work and often dream of just packing up the whole crew and heading to a far off land to serve... (Never would have said that 9 years ago!)  But it is almost like taking the mission field right here in our back yard... 


A friend from work laughed when I told her, coming in to work is like a vacation... Being a mom to 8 kids and all that entails... the cooking, cleaning, teaching, training of little ones can be overwhelming and exhausting... But even though working at FMSC can be very physical, it still fills me up!

I have seen it proven time and time again that God had specific reasons for me to get hired on at FMSC... He is so faithful to put us right where He needs us at the right time.  I am so thankful!  

So here we are... a 45 year old mom of 8 living kids hustling around filling ingredients, moving packed boxes, cleaning sinks and I couldn't be happier to do it! I have made some of the sweetest friendships... I get to interact with so many people that never would be a part of my everyday mom life.  

 There is something about being a part of something so much bigger than you.... all done to care for God's kids and for HIS glory! 





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Life

Currently Life is full of...

Beautiful tender moments..

Big brothers helping out...

Packing operation Christmas child boxes...


Concerts...

And more concerts... (LANY, need to breathe, and Mat Kearney were AMAZING!!!)

Special thanksgiving tea with sisters and daughters...

Huge bonfires and worship with loved ones...


And tired Black Friday shoppers...

Greg just returned from a week in Haiti and has spent the whole day sick in bed...

Honestly, I am a bit tired from a week alone with the 8 kids amidst traveling, school, and Christmas decorating... But yet, I am so thankful for the full days and the people and things that fill them up!
Every single day is a gift to have the chance to live... 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Another year closer to Heaven...

How do I adequately put into words what it feels like 8 whole years later...
Do I live constantly with this deep heartache I feel right now as I sit quietly alone at Starbucks at nearly 11pm?  Not at all... But am I feeling it now? 
Down to my very core...

But I thank God we don't grieve with out hope... 

I know it may seem odd or depressing to some that my heart still aches over the loss of my precious son 8 years later... 
But I am ok with it... On a daily basis, I barely have time to catch a breath...  So when the hurting hits, it is ok with me... Grieving is healthy and it is a process... 

I have learned it is a process that no one else can judge or tell you how to work through... 

This precious baby boy, my son Samuel, His life had value...
It still does... It ALWAYS will...



It really is hard not to think back to what was happening this time 8 years ago... 10-28-08 (I wrote this a couple of days ago now) 
It was my due date and he was moving like crazy late that night... 

and just like that it would be the last I felt of him...


I don't dwell often on the events that had to occur to bring his body forth... 
But on anniversary days... it is hard for me not to think about it... 

The birth... it was traumatic of course... I will never forget when it was time to push, just crying out that there was no way I could do it... I wasn't ready to really see him, lifeless... 

But the minute all 9 lbs. 2 oz. of him was born there wasn't a dry eye in the room... It was sort of an out of body experience for me... I could hear everyone sniffling... See the tears falling down their faces... Hear the silence from my baby... but  I was just in awe of how absolutely perfect and precious he was... I could not take my eyes off of him...

And so we spent 5 sacred precious hours with him before we handed him over to the nurse... a memory I will never forget... 


(Seriously, could Anna and Samuel be more sweet?)
There were tears... there still are...There was A LOT of passing him around... Not one of the kids hesitated to hold, hug, and kiss him... 

They loved him fully... Something I will cherish and never forget... They were prepared  for this baby boy... They were so excited for him to be born... and I thank God that it was a beautiful time for all of us to spend with Samuel.  How odd... the most difficult time... but yet one of the most beautiful of times...


Now... as I look at the these pictures, I can hardly believe how little my kids were when they experienced the loss of a brother... They look so small... Yet to handle something so big... 
My sweet family... 

I know we don't own the corner on grief or sorrow... There are many that go through much worse... But heartache is heartache... no matter what the cause...

And Life is life... no matter how tiny... 
And his life mattered then while I was carrying him, holding him still in my arms... and now as I remember the precious gift God gave us in Samuel... 


I remember thinking... That if I lived to 80 I would have to live 40+ years with out him here with me... 

Now I think... Wow... 8 whole years closer to seeing him again... Not a month closer... not a year closer...
8 WHOLE YEARS CLOSER TO HEAVEN!!!! 

I rejoice in that... Truly... 


I know my life here is precious... My family here is precious beyond belief...
But I know HEAVEN will be all that more amazing!

I rejoice that we will all have that time together... forever...


No more goodbyes... ever...


Samuel Mark,  I loved you from the minute I knew you existed... 
And I will love you till we meet again...

I wonder what kind of trouble you and Jojo would be getting into each day...

I often think about when Jesus was calling your name as He welcomed you home... 
samuel... Samuel....SAMUEL... SAMUEL... as you got closer...

And when you will call mine when I go home...
mom...Mom... MOM... MOM... 

Oh the joy that fills my heart as I think of Heaven...


I really don't know how people do it without faith in Jesus...
We have so much to look forward to... 

This life is not the end... It really is just the very tiniest of beginnings to eternity... 

To forever... to eternity... 
To forever praising our savior together...
To thankfulness in my heart for the beautiful gift that you are to our family...
To the grace of God in collecting ALL of our tears...
To no more goodbyes...
To making it 8 years closer to Heaven...
To our amazing creator who fashioned your precious body so perfectly... 
To the compassion He works in our hearts to reach out to love others in loss...
To a mother's great love that only grows deeper with time...

To HEAVEN...