Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Sweet Birthday Surprise for Levi Ryan!

I have a precious friend from FMSC who happens to be one of the luckiest (blessed) people I know...

She wins more contests than any other I know... And we were so blessed to be on the receiving end of one of her sweet WINS:)

Meet my friend Alyssa... We work every Monday together and not long ago when it was her birthday, I had 120 of our closest FMSC volunteer friends sing to her... I introduced her as one of the most generous people I know... I meant it...If there is a task, she willingly takes it on, and generously gives from her heart.  Whether it is cupcakes for my parties, games for my littles, or sweet birthday surprises...  She is always giving...

She knows how much Levi loves the CUBS so she entered a drawing at her local library for 4 tickets to a cubs game... She said people were buying up tons of tickets...

She bought her 1 ticket, said a prayer for Levi... and BAM!!! She was the winner:)

And then she told me she wanted to give the tickets to Levi for his birthday... I DIED!!! 


Here we are together with the amazing basket she created for Levi to give to him on his birthday... Did I mention she is incredibly talented and creative... Seriously, she is so artistically gifted... something I am not... so I love it!

One of the reasons Levi Ryan's  love for the cubs is so special to us, is that his biological dad Ryan was a CUBS lover.  He had Cystic Fibrosis and was even chosen to throw out the first pitch at a CUBS game when he was little... I couldn't wait to take Levi to a game... 



A big Happy Birthday to Levi as he was unwrapping all of the goodies in his basket, CUBS W car flags, chocolate, fan finger, T-shirt, and more:)  He was thrilled!


Last Sunday, game day FINALLY arrived.  Levi was able to pick who he was going to take with to the game. Unfortunately Greg had an injury the day before so Jojo got to take his spot, and Anna had never been to a game so she came too:) 

We battled the Chicago traffic to the free bus shuttle and made our way to Historic Wrigley Field!  What an atmosphere!  It is such a special place!


And what a game it was!  13-5 Cubbie win for the books! It was such a fun game to watch!  


Levi enjoying some cotton candy while Anna and Jojo were enjoying the game:) I seriously, loved watching them all have so much fun!  It was the perfect distraction and pick me up after a tearful goodbye to Caleb as he headed to OK for 6 weeks... 


One of the most precious parts of the day was seeing Levi as we found Ryan's brick outside Wrigley Field!  Ryan's mom had told me a rough area of where it was, and it was surprisingly easy to find!  I look forward to the day when Levi will understand more of who his bio dad was and how his life came into being. 

 I remember before we adopted Levi as an embryo, I was talking with a dear friend... She loves us deeply and walked closely with me through everything we had been through with the stillbirth of Samuel, the stillbirth of baby Joel (the baby we were going to adopt) 8 mos. later, and my miscarriage.  She sweetly said, "If you do get pregnant, no one would have to know this baby was adopted???"  

I immediately replied, "I couldn't do it. If a baby was conceived, how could I keep that miracle to myself?"  It would be a part of that child's story, and something that deserved to be told  


I still feel that way, and Sunday was another full circle moment for me...


It is like God smacks me over the head in these moments... "Do not miss the miracle of this moment Sara!!" 

This brick at Levi's feet with Ryan's birth and death date, was lovingly placed there by a family missing their son, brother, father, and husband...  Ryan...

And there Levi sits, with that same brick at his feet... This living breathing Levi Ryan... 

 His WHOLE life made possible by this sweet man, our donor mom, AND AN AMAZING GOD WHO IS SO FAITHFUL through it all! 

It seriously blows me away...

What a miracle and what a special day it was!

So friends, don't miss the miracle of the moments that God gives you as well...

 I pray all of our eyes are wide open so we can take in and appreciate all the sweet blessings God has for us to take hold of each day! 









Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trip south part 1

It has been a couple of weeks, more like a month, since we returned from our trip south... and yes I STILL HAVE BAGS TO UNPACK... 

Taking a crew like ours on a trip takes weeks of prepping and weeks to recover from... but we are always thankful we went... 

We are hopefully on the upswing after a week of sickness ( a little bit of stomach and a whole lot of fevers and coughing)  All the while, we had our 6 nieces and nephews here... Those poor kids... It probably wasn't the most fun week for them and I am praying that they don't all catch what we had :(   Not the welcome home I wanted to give my sister... They did get a lot of cousin time, but we weren't able to venture out a whole bunch... Thankful for family time none the less... And today, I am off the couch after my 103.3 fever yesterday and feel SOOOO much better, Thank God~

So even though I haven't even had a chance to post any holiday pictures...  (Blogging just hasn't been top on the priority list as I work on 2 kids with college applications/scholarships, homeschooling, working, church, MEND, trying to keep a large home running, babies, toddlers and everything in between...)  I wanted to get a chance to document our trip south...


After of course an almost an all nighter on my part trying to get everyone packed and the house sort of cleaned up, (because that is what always occurs before a trip around this house) we headed out with both vans to head towards Oklahoma!  We sold our old white van to a friend from our old church... It was fast and furious while there seeing lots of wonderful friends... 


Goodbye old white... you served us so well!  We brought home 4 kids in you!  (That is a CRAZY thought to me... half of our kids)


Most of the Tiews and Hintz kids... missing the oldest few... What a gift to see friends from 20 some years ago... They were in our very first small group as a married couple.  Lula is the best cook on the planet and the visiting was wonderful for us and the kids!  It was so sweet to be able to pick up right where you left off... And so sweet to see the kids do the same... Treasured friends... Such a gift!


Jojo and sweet Lilly... friends for life!


Anna had such a sweet bond with our neighbor in Oklahoma Miss Barbara... They used to sit on her back porch and visit daily and literally Anna cried knowing she would get to go see her on this trip... so so sweet!  I remember before Miss Barbara's house was sold to her, I would literally pray for the right person to buy it... and she was for JUST THE RIGHT PERSON.  Someone who could handle the noise of a lot of wild kids and wouldn't mind toys strewn everywhere:)  When we would return from vacation, she literally said that she had missed the noise... We miss her:) She was the gift of a perfect Oklahoma neighbor!


The kids of River Bend South... We were so grateful that kind neighbors agreed to open up their home for  a quick gathering of our old neighbors... I am one to ALWAYS get to know my neighbors, and we really had special  ones in OK... It was such a treat to visit and let the kids run around together... These friends have the most AMAZING yard full of fun things for kids... It was so sweet to watch the all explore together like old times... Another gift!


Sweet Host Shelley and dear friend Tricia... That Faust crew is ALWAYS so very gracious to allow the Hintz crew to barge right in, take over, eat them out of house and home, and in the midst of it all shower us with love and affection!  We are so grateful!  We were so blessed to hang out with these small group friends and catch up on all the details of life... so so needed!  Man, I miss my ladies lunches and times together... this was  another huge gift to my heart!


After Oklahoma, I headed to Dallas for the leadership Conference for MEND... The picture above is when we gathered at the closing at the Garden of Hope for Prayer and singing.  It was so special... the Leadership Conference was different in many ways than most years. It is the 20th Anniversary year for MEND and it was a blessing to my heart to see how this ministry, that HUGELY blessed me in my heartbreak, all began.  It is always a gift to be with those that truly understand and to share a mission to help others through their time of hurt.  Focusing on others needs always helps your own heart. 


While I was in Dallas, the kids and Greg shared a couple extra days with GRANDMA AND GRANDPA HINTZ in Houston... What a treat for them!  I joined them Sunday morning and we were so blessed to be able to celebrate Hope's 8th Birthday with Texas family... including GRANDPA and GRANDMA HINTZ, Aunt Moge and family, as well as Aunt Lisa, Uncle Dale, Maddie, and Megs.  It was a party Hope was so happy to enjoy! She even got her pick of cakes... strawberry with strawberry frosting!



We had delicious Texas Barbecue, played lots of games of old maid with Grandma and Grandpa Hintz, enjoyed sweet time visiting Great Granny, played yard games, and really cherished the time that we had together.  Louis was even able to make a special trip, on his own dime, to fly down to see his grandparents between his Feed My Starving Children Mobile pack events.  It was so nice to be together... a gift to our family heart! Unfortunately, we took this picture before Louis arrived... otherwise it had everyone in it:)



More friends like family!   Some of our first and dearest couple friends from when we were first married, the Stocktons.  So much talking and catching up... We share much in common with kids going to college for the first time this coming fall, homeschooling, and precious friendships... Mary is one I always go to, to glean from her knowledge and wisdom... She is a superstar homeschooling mom and never does ANYTHING halfway... I often wonder where she finds the energy or time... But she does it all with beauty, grace, and a loving and JOYFUL heart for her friends and the Lord... an inspiration to me for sure!  Sweet life long friends... a real gift!


And then we were off to Louisiana... part 2... 

Maybe by the time I get to posting that... I will have our bags unpacked... :)


Hello Chicago friends!!! 

Many friends don't know that MEND is completely run by volunteers. 

Many also don't realize that all of the support we provide to grieving families through hospital brochures, newsletters, flowers, cards, care bags, support groups etc. are all paid for through donations. 

Please consider attending our first MEND Chicagoland fundraiser, PAINTING WITH A PURPOSE. Our very own talented Joanna Koopman Eden will be our painting instructor for our Painting with a Purpose night. 

Snacks and drinks will be provided and you will have the opportunity to go home with a beautiful painting made by you:)

Please feel free to share on your personal pages of social media or with others who might like to support MEND. To RSVP comment here or email Saraann@mend.org

Thanks so much!! 


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sweet Jojo


This is one of my favorite pictures of Jojo and Greg from our time at the seminary...  Our sweet lil' toe head! 











Our steady Eddy, hard working, good natured, sometimes wild, kayak loving,  harmony singing, hilarious, smart Elijah Thomas! 

We can not believe that this young man is 12!  The days can be long... but the years fly by!  He is an absolute Joy to raise!  He is my helper, my go to... I know that he will willingly help with almost anything... and do it with a joyful heart!  He is the calm before the storm of the 4 littles... 

I always say that between 12 and 14 are the game changing years... and I know we are on the cusp of that with Jojo... 2 years down the road he is going to look totally different... 

But for now we treasure every single moment of life with Jojo as a part of it! THANKFUL, THANKFUL, THANKFUL is what I feel!  We prayed for a child and God answered with Jojo!  I am so thankful that God saw fit to give us this precious child and I pray that he continues to draw him closer to himself every day! May he be a mighty warrior for our Jesus! 



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…