Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Flying Teddy Bears

"So, what did you do today?"

It's a perfectly innocent question.  Usually asked simply as a conversation starter.  No big deal.  However, I have allowed it to sneak under my skin lately - leaving me with a subconscious feeling of guilt.  And truly for no reason.

I have had the amazing privilege of being a stay-at-home Mom for 13 years.  I laugh thinking back on the adventures {or blunders!} in parenting our first-born, from learning how to swaddle {Yeah, I still can't make a "burrito"}, breastfeed {Um, ouch!?!}, put on a stinkin' onesie {Who knew you could put it on feet first??} to discovering the reason why you should ALWAYS strategically place the diaper over his little man parts during changes {Smile}

Onto our second who taught us why it's important to close the toilet lid {especially while the cleaner is still clinging to the sides} and that life is as fun as you make it.

The third is my mini-me {Stubborn as an ox} and has taught us that every object in life is a mountain that needs to be conquered!

Right down to our fourth who has reminded us that we humans learn by example {something I have to continually reminder her older siblings of} and that a tom-boy mama can still manage to give birth to a pink-loving, dancing Princess!

Thirteen years later I find myself a stay-at-home-alone Mom.  I sent my last baby {Yes, the sweet & sassy pink one} off to Kindergarten this Fall - all day, every day.  The first week was awesome!  I enjoyed drinking my hot coffee on the porch swing, with the birds singing and the sun shining, glorious book in hand.  I soaked in the quietness of the house as it no longer needed to fend off attacks from flying teddy bears, colorful crayons and speedy little feet.  I could take the time to actually think about what to make for dinner, followed by the time to prepare it!  I think that's where the guilt came.  After 13 years, I had time.  And I felt guilty, really guilty.  Until recently....

I love this time of year.  I love reflecting on things that we are thankful for, spending time with family, observing our traditions and making new ones!  This year, it became clear to me how important the little, everyday "traditions" are.  I'm not a super creative person.  I don't go all out with perfect decor, cookies, activities and events.  Not even close!  So, take my guilt and feeling slightly inadequate {Thanks, Pinterest!} {Smile} and bring on my kids.  As if they could read my mind, they started talking about all of our "traditions".  Things I didn't even consider and would have never classified as traditions!  They talked about the way they each have to be woken up in the morning - one is a simple touch, one requires some basketball-style bouncing, another tickle tortured and the other needs her love bucket filled to the brim with cuddles before she sets her feet on the floor.  Every morning each one requires a hug {Yes, even the 12 year old} before leaving for school.  My 12-going-on-13 year old son still loves that Mom gets up early with him and makes his daily PB&J before heading out to the bus.  There is an after-school tradition, a cleaning tradition, a bath time tradition, breakfast, lunch and dinner tradition, game night tradition, movie night tradition and don't forget the bedtime traditions!  We adults may call them routines, but to my kids, they are traditions - our traditions. 

After that conversation with my kids, my guilt disappeared.  They had unknowingly filled my heart to the brim and reminded me what a simple privilege it is to be their Mom {Smile}

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Brachial Stun

Once again I can see the questions marks flying around in the speech bubbles above your heads!  {Smile!}  My titles lately truly have been coming from my every day life.  And, yes, that means that my life is a little crazy and filled with oddities!

My husband has been away for training at the police academy and was home playing with our kids this weekend.  I'm not entirely sure how, but we got on the subject of defense tactics.  {Again, oddities perhaps unique to certain professions!}  We proceeded to watch YouTube videos showing a technique known as the brachial stun.  In short, it is a defensive move in which the aggressor delivers a blow to the side of the neck, hitting the nerves that regulate blood pressure, causing temporary loss of consciousness.  Your body then has to reset or start over before you can regain your senses.  Unfortunately, two weeks ago I got hit with a "metaphorical brachial stun".   Yet as funny as it may sound, it was an answer to prayer!  I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or very simply, an allergy to gluten. 

For the past five years, I have been searching for answers.  Every year, I would visit a new doctor, trying to find one that would actually listen.  I had many symptoms that alone didn't raise any flags, but together made quite the list!  The doctors made me feel like an idiot or a hypochondriac.  They told me I was getting old {Seriously, at 30?!?!}  Or that my hypoglycemia (chronic low blood sugar) was an "alcoholic's" syndrome {which I can guarantee you I am not!}  After five years, I felt like a fool and started to buy the line that I was an old, overweight hypochondriac.  However, when it was time for this year's annual check up, I decided to give it another shot.  New city, new clinic, new doctor.  Maybe the fresh start would yield better results!  Thank God, it did!  The doctor was amazing!  She listened intently, repeated my concerns and then put a plan into action.  After much testing and discussion, I had a diagnosis that made sense.  Even though the diagnosis sucks, I am so grateful to her! 

I have many friends who have experienced these same things, especially since turning 30...changes, symptoms, abnormalities.  Granted, it is normal for our bodies to change after hitting that "milestone", but Ladies, we know when something is off!  Don't give up!  Be your own advocate and keep fighting to get an answer. 

The Celiac diagnosis can be devastating.  It completely alters the way that you have to eat.  Thankfully, I had been wheat free since May, so the changes that I have to make aren't quite as drastic.  I have been 100% gluten free for 2 weeks and I feel awesome!  I have energy, strength and mental clarity {Thankfully just in time for the Holidays! :) }  I don't intend to turn this blog into a Celiac blog, since there are plenty of those to go around.  I simply wanted to share my story.  Thanks for listening!

Oh, and just for fun, here's one of the YouTube videos we watched.  Just promise me you won't try this at home!  {Wink and a Smile!}

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not Alone

Oh, boy.  I have been wrestling with myself all night over whether to blog or not to blog on this topic.  I tell you this because I believe VERY strongly in being open, honest and sharing our experiences with one another.  However, this is a sensitive subject.  I have many close friends who have walked this road and experienced things MUCH more difficult than I have.  It is because it is more common than I ever thought that I am going to write today.

My husband and I are extremely blessed to have four amazing kids.  They are strong, independent and individual.  Love them!  People often ask us if we are "done".  My reply is always a definite yes.  Sometimes I even say "Four is perfect.  I know that I don't want 5!".  Then I give myself a mental kick in the head.  Don't want 5?!?  We had 5. 

I always hate going to the doctor and filling out the questionnaire:  How many children do you have?  How many pregnancies?  How many live births?  Ugh.  My stomach always sinks.  And I know I'm not alone.  Or the inner debate that goes on in your head when someone asks you how many kids you have.  I've had this discussion with several friends.  To answer with the number of "alive" children is easiest, but leaves you with a little feeling of guilt.  However, to answer with the "real" number invites a discussion that the asking party was not prepared for!

Our story is pretty simple, pretty straight forward.  We had 3 healthy kids, healthy pregnancies, normal deliveries.  So, when Baby #4 was on the way, we wasted no time telling our happy news to the World.  {This is a decision that I do not regret, by the way!}  I was only 6 weeks along, but felt like I had no reason to worry.  Then came week 7.  My husband and kids left for Wednesday night activities and I stayed home, not feeling very well.  By the time they got home, I knew what was happening.  I could go into detail here, but I don't feel that is necessary.  By morning, the baby was gone.  We still had to go to the hospital, have an ultrasound and meet with our midwife.  It's one of those memories that I still see in slow motion.  It was the longest morning we have ever had. 

The following days were filled with surprise for me.  As we began telling people about our loss, we found that we were not alone.  I honestly did not know how many women {and men} have had to endure this journey.  It simply wasn't a topic of discussion until it had to be. 

Clearly, we healed and were soon expecting Baby #5, now known in our house as Squirt.  She is a joy and delight and I cannot imagine life without her!  But I have to admit that I have thoughts sometimes of Baby #4 and what he/she would have been.  We wouldn't have our Squirt today, would we?  I don't have an answer for that.  And I can't get lost in the land of "what-ifs".  All I can do is enjoy the sweet family that I have, love the little lost angel and help those who have shared in similar loss. 

This month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, which has prompted this post.  The statistic is that 1 in 4 women suffer a miscarraige or pregnancy and infant loss.  If you are one of the four, you are not alone.  If you would like more information or need help, please email me or click one of the links below:


Monday, September 24, 2012

It's a Woman's Prerogative

Well, I sat down last night to start writing.  I was feeling a need to vent, talk it out, give an update on life.  I'm going to leave my writing as it is for you to read, but I might decide to change course a bit at the end {Smile}

"I'm not really sure how to start this blog post.  It seems like since I started this "blogging journey" that my most popular posts are the ones where I am the most vulnerable.  So, I think that's where I'm going to go this evening...I'm in a very odd place.  I'm not sad or depressed.  I'm not stressed or anxious or worried.  I don't necessarily feel alone.  But I do feel kind of isolated.  My husband made a comment this weekend regarding our move.  He said that people have been asking him how our family has been doing since moving to Wisconsin.  His reply was that he thinks I am having the most difficulty.  At the time I was taken aback, but the more I've thought about it, I realize that he's right.  He made the point that I was completely immersed with getting everything ready and organized, making sure that our little family would make it through the transition as smoothly as possible.  However, I didn't take the time to prepare myself.  {Well, duh, isn't that what we Moms do?! {Smile}}  We arrived here just days before my husband's first day of work and the kids' first day of school.  We rushed to unpack and get settled and then they all went off on their new adventures and I sat alone in an empty house.  Hmmm....Don't get me wrong, we are venturing out, starting to meet people and we have found our new church.  But it takes time.  Time to get to know people, time for them to get to know you.  It takes time to build relationships and to develop trust.  This is the part of moving that I wasn't looking forward to.  And so it is in this lull that I currently sit.  Not quite sure what to do with myself.  However, deep down I know just that - that this is a lull.  There are friends to be made, community to be found.  And I'm excited and hopeful for what is ahead, I just need the patience to get there!"

So, not a whole lot has changed since last night - I'm still in that place.  However, I think that I lost focus for awhile.  I started looking to the immediate, the here, the now.  I lost sight of the fact that we came here with a purpose.  Not just for my husband, but for all of us.  I have a heart for missions, women, moms and music.  Right now I get to take a little respite, take some time and refocus on those things and what I can do with them here.  I get to walk around with eyes-wide-open and an expectant heart just waiting for the right doors to open.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Recombobulation Area

I can almost collectively hear you all saying "huh?" as you look at the title of this post.  It will make sense in a minute, I promise! 

If any of you have been to the Milwaukee airport, you may have seen the sign as you exit the security checkpoint....Recombobulation Area.  Buddy and I noticed it after one of our many recent visits to this particular airport.  We both cocked our heads to the side and started laughing - what a funny phrase!  It didn't strike me at the time, but it has repeatedly come to mind over the past two months.  I am now in my own personal Recombobulation Area.

Recombobulation:   1. Something being put back the way it was, or into proper working order;   2. Gathering one's thoughts or composure.

You may have noticed that I have not blogged in a really, really long time.  For those who know me, you know why.  But for those who are strangers, let me bring you into my world!  My family and I recently completed a huge move.  We have moved before, but always local, never having to change much {doctors, schools, church, friends, stores, favorite hangouts, whatever}.  This time was different.  We uprooted our kids and moved 6 hours east.  As a kid, my family made some big moves - Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Texas, back to North Dakota.  It would be a massive understatement to say that I have a new appreciation for my parents!  I could get into all of the minute details, but lets just say it is a lot of work - mentally, physically and emotionally - to pack up and move a family of 6.  I'm still in recovery. {Smile}

Our story is not a short one.  For as long as we have been married, we have been in a partial state of happy discombobulation.  We got married young, had a baby, lived with my in-laws for 2 1/2 years while my hubby went to school {the first time}, built two homes, had more babies, went through job changes, a bad ecomony, unemployment and my husband went through school again {while working full time!}.  It sounds rough, but through all of that, we always knew that God had us right where he wanted us.  Time and time again, He showed us who He is, His love, His mercy, His grace and above all, His indiscriminate favor.  We knew that if we just kept following His lead, we would land on our feet right where He wanted us.  I can now say that after 13 years, we have found that place.  My husband took a position in a field that will change our lives.  We have signed on, together, as a family.  His job is now our mission.  I love that!  I have no idea what the future holds, but I'm okay with that.  We are where we are supposed to be!

So, we now find ourselves in the "recombobulation" phase.  My husband is loving his new job.  Peanut has made many new friends and loves her teacher.  Bug seems to be doing fine.  Squirt {who just started Kindergarten!} can't get to school fast or often enough.  Buddy had a rough start, but is starting to settle in.  Me....yeah, maybe I'm the one still trying to "gather, compose, put into working order".   The house is unpacked and organized.  The kids are off to school.  And now it is time.  Time to find life here.  Uncover all of the new places to see, know, visit and love.  Time to find my place. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


There's been something stirring lately.  Actually, a little more than lately.  The past few months there have been small discussions, little drops of conversation and some mulling inside of my head.  I think that most of you know by now that I like to serve.  I love missions, mission trips, helping others.  We have always felt called in some unique way to live it out.  In my brain, I always thought that "calling" must be or would be overseas.  Parts of my heart live in Africa and Haiti.  I cannot wait to go back!  But then there is the stirring...

One of the conversations that happened a couple of months ago had to do with people's willingness to serve over oceans and across continents, but their unwillingness to serve their neighbor, their community.  Even worse, the unwillingness to serve those who scare us, who seem too rough-on-the-edges, dirty, {let's be really honest here...} but maybe those who seem "less than".  I'm guilty.  Guilty of being scared.  Guilty of using the excuse that I need to stay safe or keep my kids safe.  Guilty of being "busy". 

Not to say that you should drop your guard or not be street smart.  You should always be aware and be cautious.  But I've seen some things lately.  Paying it forward doesn't take much.  Look people in the eye when you say hello.  Give a truly warm smile when you ask how they are.  SEE them.  Everyone wants to be seen.  Everyone wants to be loved.  There are people right where we live who need to be touched.  What would happen if we all slowed down, just a little, to see, to smile, to ask? 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it's important to serve.  Overseas, at home, next door, down the street and "downtown".  Live it out, love it out.  You never know what your impact will be!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Purple Mountains

My family and I have been on vacation for almost 2 weeks!   We have never been away from home for that long and never over the 4th of July {which is our favorite holiday!}  I have to admit that I was a little concerned about spending the 4th away from all of our usual hot spots and all of our traditions, but our location proved to be an excellent place to celebrate the birthday of our beautiful country!  We started our westward trek by stopping at Devil's Tower, WY, climbing as high as we possibly could.  Then we ventured onward to Yellowstone National Park.  The sheer size is daunting, but the beauty is unsurpassed!  In thinking about how to blog and share just a little snippet of our travels, all that kept coming to mind was the lyrics to one of my favorite anthems.  And as I read through them, I realized that we don't normally hear all of them, so hopefully you can soak in the words and enjoy some of our pictures!

O beautiful, for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties,

Above the fruited plain!

America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee!
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet,
whose sterm impassioned stress,
A thoroughfare of freedom beat,
Across the wilderness!
America!  America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America!  America!
May God thy gold refine,
Til all success be nobleness,
And every gain devine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream,
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

And a few more just for fun!

Old Faithful!

The opening....

...and on the other side!


And now to fulfill our #1 July 4th tradition!

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Me Worry??

Wow!  It has been awhile since I've been on here!  Isn't it amazing how time flies?  Life in my house the past month has me feeling like I'm the Old Woman who lived in a shoe {Smile}  Okay, yes, I have "lots" of kids, but not that many!  And I do wonder what she felt like every day.  Trying to keep up with everyone's schedules, laundry, discipline, teaching, cleaning, feeding, all while living in a giant shoe!  {That image just makes me giggle!}

Anyways, what I wanted to say was that over the last month, in the midst of my crazy, busy life, I have become a worrier.  And I am NOT a worrier.  I have been worrying over the future, over the past, over the now.  Where are we going, what are we doing?  What about this, what about that?  Argh, it's so frustrating!  Normally, I am the quintessential glass half-full, God's-got-this, no-big-deal kinda girl.  I am not sure what has gotten into me! 

Well, like the Big Man Upstairs likes to do, He has been providing me with some great reminders and some really good words on this whole topic of Worry.  There's been random drops of wisdom from strangers who don't even know who I am or where my head is at!  Just a little nudge - God is in control,  He's got this.  A wise reminder - why would God take care of the big details and then leave the little ones?  Then Pastor Tom got up and spoke this past Sunday.  Of course it was one of those messages where I felt like he was talking right at me.  I just want to share a couple of the verses from that morning.  Maybe someone else out there is feeling a bit like me, worrying, fretting or even just questioning where you are at.  Be reminded that you aren't alone! 

Matthew 6:34:
          So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today's trouble is enough for today.

Phillipians 4:6-7:
          Don't fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petition and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. 

Phillipians 4:11-13
          I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Old Blue Eyes

My family and I are traveling this weekend, spending time in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The majority of our extended families live out East and it is so much fun to be able to come and spend time with them!

We spent yesterday afternoon with my husband's grandfather, who just the day before had turned 93! It's amazing to think of what he has witnessed in those 93 years, from 1919 to 2012. We always love to hear his stories of World War II, traveling through France, England, Germany, Poland and Russia and to hear his perspective of growing up as a farm boy in the Pennsylvania countryside. But this visit was different. He had his tales to tell and he is still so independent! However, he would forget who we were, why we were here and he couldn't quite understand why we would be here to visit him. It is so hard to watch our loved ones age! I'm not sure why God made it so that we go back out much the same way we came in. It became harder this time to have our usual conversations, so we found ourselves just sitting in his company, knowing he was just happy not to be alone. The hardest part was saying goodbye. He thanked us for the ride home from dinner, as though we were strangers who brought him home out of the goodness of our hearts. I wanted to hug him, but he wasn't too sure about me, so we shook hands instead. It's heart-wrenching, but it's okay. He may not remember me, but I know him. I know the man who was a husband of almost 70 years, a father of 5, a United States Army veteran, farmer, fisherman, hunter, grandfather of 4, great-grandfather of 7, with gentle, bright blue eyes that he gave to my daughter. We hold his memories, since they are now a part of our own. It is up to us to share his memories and his stories and be extra careful to listen for those that are yet to come.

Just visiting with Great Grandpa Joe

Those big, blue eyes!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Me, Myself and I

I am one of those Moms who loves to have my kids home for the summer.  I don't want them to be anywhere but at home with me!  However, I have to confess that the first 4 days of summer break have been hell on wheels {Smile}  Lets just say that my four lovely children have NOT been on their best behaviour!  Not to say that I didn't expect some trouble.  Squirt has had 9 months of Mama time all day, every day only to be thrust into constant contact with her 3 older siblings and the 3 big kids now have to hang with eachother all day too.  Some adjustments and a {mostly} family meeting were in order! 

My very smart Husband has been trying to get me to do allowances and chore charts for quite some time.  I, however, being the perfectionist that I am, would just prefer to do all of the laundry, dusting, cleaning, mopping, vaccuming, cooking, dishes, shopping, weeding, appointment-making, bed-making, communications, transportation, etc. because it is just so much easier and faster if me, myself and I take care of everything {Sigh}  Naturally, that isn't working out very well for me.  One person trying to take care of 6 people doesn't really work!  Not to mention the fact that I am robbing my children of the opportunity to learn responsibility, how to work hard and do a good job, plus financial and time management.  I really do want my kids to grow into healthy, hard-working adults!

So, we gathered in our living room this morning to have a little pow-wow.  The kids were all eager to make a plan of action and get organized.  I was more than a little surprised!  They came up with most of their own chores and how we should rotate and take turns.  Here's what we came up with....

Each child has their morning routine list and evening routine list.  Then comes the Responsibility Wheel.  Every Sunday night, we are going to rotate the wheel so that we mix it up and keep it interesting.  {Bonus:  the kids get to learn multiple skills!}

Now, the trick will be making it stick!  Just as much for me as for my kiddos!  {Wink, wink!}

Monday, June 4, 2012

Brick Walls and Batman

I haven't {and I'm still not} the greatest friend.  Perfection in this area?  Not even close!   I still think that I have more testosterone than the average woman {Smile}  I'm really bad about picking up a phone and calling.  I've become more huggable, but it still is not my first, natural instinct!  I tend to be a "fixer" rather than a listener.  None of these things make me a very good friend!

When I was a young teen, I learned some pretty hard lessons about girls and friendship.  {Didn't we all, Ladies?}  So many girls were horribly catty and cruel!  As a pastor's daughter, it was also terribly difficult to know who your true friends were.  Some girls just wanted to be friends because it made them appear more "Christian" or maybe it made it easier to keep their "sins" hidden - hanging out with the Pastor's Kid {Because everyone knows that we are more holy and have more favor with the Big Guy.  Wink, wink!}  As time went on, my walls began to climb higher and higher.  Before I graduated high school, the bricks had me surrounded on all four sides and were higher than I could possibly reach to climb out.  I stayed trapped within those walls for a very long time. 

Thankfully, I married a super-hero {That's right, my own personal Batman!}  He pushed me to step back out into the light, to reach out, to trust.  Very slowly, the walls came crumbling down and my soul was allowed to heal.  My hubby is my best friend, but he has consistently nudged me out into the big, scary world to make new friends and rekindle old.  I still have a long ways to go {that phone call thing might haunt me forever!}, but I am so thankful for the friends that I have been blessed with!  Old friends, new friends, unique friends, quirky friends, deep-thought friends, light-hearted friends, ones to cry with, ones to laugh with, ones to pray with, those friends who know who you are inside and out, up and down, good times and bad....I can't imagine my life without them!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Follow You

Stumbled upon this song today....

{Can you tell where my heart still is?}


Saturday, May 26, 2012


I'm sitting on the flight home from Port-au-Prince after an absolutely amazing week and trying to think of a way to write and express what we just experienced. I'm emotionally wrecked {in a great way!}, physically beat up and exhausted {seriously, I would insert a picture of my black and blue legs, but I'd like you to keep reading :) }

We {Husband and I} went into this trip knowing that it MAY be our last time into Haiti. It may be time to pass the torch as God takes us along other roads. So, I was really praying that things would have improved for this little country with such a huge personality, that will forever hold my heart in its hands. All I had to go on was the U.S. media reports of how bad things still are, stating that much of the aid has not been received and that much of the devastation remains. I can't tell you how joyful, giddy, crying-happy-tears elated I was to drive down the previously shattered, broken, beaten and battered roads of this very special city and instead find new buildings, revived businesses, clean, bustling streets, tent cities gone, smiling faces....this is where I start to cry. Their faces. You could see the joy that has begun to return! They are working, they are back to "normal", they are happy.

It was 4 days into this trip before I realized something... Husband and I have been here 4 times. Three times in 2010, within the first 6 months of the earthquake, and now 2 years later. However, we have a team with us who has never set foot here. What do they see? What is their perspective? Naturally, what they saw was a completely different view. They could still see the dirty streets, the tent cities that remain, the cracked and destroyed buildings that have yet to be removed or rebuilt. It was wonderful to be able to point out all of the changes and show them what has been restored, but they simply had to take our word. And there is still much work to be done.

However, as a team we were able to open a new chapter. Our project this week was to work alongside the missionaries and the Haitians to pour the foundation for a new school. As we gave our all, leaving all we had to give each day, the next generation sat mere feet from us as we worked side by side to physically and symbolically build a firm foundation for those little ones to learn, grow and go on to change their world. At the end of the week, our teams gathered round Pastor Nikolai Louis, the school director, to pray a blessing over him, the students - present and future - and over that building. It may only be a building, but it's impact will be far reaching and we are so thankful and humbled to have been a part of its beginning!

So, as I sit flying away from that beautiful island, I mourn the part of my heart that stayed behind, but I look to the future for us and for Haiti.

Last thing I wanted to share was our devotion from this morning:

"What have you been given? If you've received any encouragement from others, give some away. If you have food in your cupboards, give some away. If you've been offered a forgiveness you don't deserve (which, you have) offer forgiveness to someone who doesn't deserve it.  And how about the gifts and talents God has given you? Whether you work in the ministry or in the corporate world, whether you're raising children or caring for your elderly parents; all of these are sacred when done with Jesus in mind. Bloom where you're planted. Use the gifts God has given you for His glory. Live with passion, conviction, courage, and compassion. Sow seeds of faith. Embrace hope. Walk in love. Let everything you do, be done with Him in mind." ~Susie Larson

For pictures, click the link below:


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Few Random Thoughts

Well, I said that I would try to do better than past trips and blog more...man, that is so much easier said than done! We are working as hard as we can from 6 am until 2-3 pm. By the time 2 or 3 rolls around it is sweltering heat, we are covered head to toe in sweat, dirt, concrete, sand, all held together by multiple layers of reapplied sunscreen! We are dog tired, but energized by the progress that we have made. Tonight, after dinner, we went out to the street to watch the kids {and one of our team members} play soccer. It's amazing to see these kids run around, playing barefoot or maybe with just one shoe, kicking on a dirty, gravel roadway, but just happy and energetic. One of the best parts for me was that several of these kids, now 2 years older came over to say hello and they remembered me! They asked about my family and why it took me so long to return. THEY remembered ME. It floored me. One of the things we have been talking about this week is that they see us. They watch every move we make, what we say, what we do. They know we are there. And for the younger generation, they remember. We are here to serve them, we are here to love them. We are here because they matter.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Wow, am I tired! Today has been one of those gigantic, oversized days. I'm not sure if I can honestly say that I went to bed last night to begin with, but then was up at 3 am, at the airport by 4:15 and on the first flight of our journey by 6:30 am. We hit a few speed bumps and a major hurdle! {I'm not quite prepared to go into the "hurdle" - hoping it gets resolved first!} After a 2nd flight, landed with grand anticipation in a little country that holds my heart captive. Driving through the city, I had random waves of emotion from giddiness over the changes to sadness over the work that remains. We spent the evening making new friends and reminiscing with old ones. And my day is now ending with a bittersweet, joyful, sad piece of awesome news. {My amazing parents are now Senior Pastors in Dearborn Heights, MI}. So, in my physically, emotionally exhausted state, I just feel like sharing one thing.... Sometimes it feels like we have slammed into a huge brick wall. We know that we are doing the right thing. We know that we are on the right road. We've put our faith in His plans for us...so why isn't it easy? Why are there obstacles at every turn? Why does this have to happen now? To me? More often than not it's because you ARE on the right road, walking through the right door! Keep on fighting, keep on walking, keep on trusting. You may not see it now, but He's got you right where He wants you! That's my "deep" thought for tonight {smile!}

Monday, May 14, 2012

Add To The Beauty

6 Days to Haiti!  So, as my mind is consumed with preparing, reflecting and dreaming of what's to come, I would like to encourage you to listen to these words and ask yourself "What can I do to add to the beauty?"

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sunshine & Volcanos

Blogging.  Hmm, yeah.  I probably should have blogged on Monday or maybe Wednesday…well, here it is now Friday.  I’ve been putting it off all week!  I have things to say and then decide that I’m not really sure what to say, then I just don’t have time or I can’t pick a topic.  Ugh!  So, this morning I decided that I am just going to start write-talking.  So, we will see together what this ends up becoming! {Smile}

Well, I currently feel very scatter-brained.  We have a lot going on – busy kids, work, volunteering, obligations and Hubby and I leave for Haiti in 8 ½ days.  My house looks like a herd of elephants ran through it, I should really go and exercise and my kids don’t have school today, so we have added random children to our brood!  My 2 youngest, Squirt and Bug, have decided to pull every cushion off of our couches, pile them, along with the entire hoard of stuffed animals and every ounce of bedding, onto the extra-large sofa. 

So, I’ve decided to sit my bum down in this enormous mess with my nice, warm mug of coffee goodness and enjoy the day.  {On a couch currently without cushions!} I’m watching my son and his buddy wander through the yard with their be be guns, listening to my littlest ones talk about kangaroos, Squinkies and imaginary friends, our sweet dog, Annie, is splayed across my feet and the beautiful sunshine is pouring through the window. 

I am beyond blessed!  I know this fact, but it becomes so easy to forget.  As we’ve been preparing to lead our team back into Port-au-Prince, I’ve had this softly bubbling, quiet volcano of emotion underlying everything that I do.  I’ve been trying really hard to ignore it, bury it, pretend that it isn’t there, but we leave in a week, so it’s probably time to just let it out….

When I first returned home from Africa, it was really hard to re-adjust to “American” life.  Just driving down a safe, paved road would bring tears to my eyes.  Road signs, stop lights, gas stations, grocery stores, coffee shops, I cried inside TARGET!  Kids riding bikes, playing on big, safe playgrounds, TOYS!  Then sometimes I would get downright angry as I overheard conversations of others complaining, whining or even just being completely, naively ungrateful for the things that they have been given.  However, as happens when time passes, I began to forget.  I began to revert to the comfortable, unaware life that I was used to living.  It’s just so easy to walk through life not seeing the bounty, the excess, the simple comforts that most of the world does not get to enjoy.  The past few weeks, my eyes have been re-opened.  As I watch my kids play with the toys that overflow out of their oversized closets, buying a month’s worth of groceries for my family, taking a walk on a paved pathway, going to dinner in a gorgeous restaurant while being waited on hand and foot, having the ability to worship in freedom and in public in a beautiful, air-conditioned building…I am reminded and humbled by those who do not have the ability, the freedom or the possibility of even grasping those things that I so willingly take for granted.  So today, whether you have been witness to the things above or not, will you please take time to simply enjoy the little things, be thankful for your bounty, say a prayer for those in need and maybe even consider what you might do to make an impact?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Girls! Girls! Girls!

I am the lucky mother of three beautiful, sweet, sassy, stubborn, strong, dramatic, fun little girls. And one very patient, kind, gentle, smart boy! I found myself telling him a story last night….

When I was a young girl, I was stubborn and strong willed. {Okay, WAS may be inaccurate!} I don’t really remember what I was like when I was little, but I do certainly know that I was not a fun teenager! To put it bluntly, I put my poor mother through hell. So, I was laughing as I told Buddy that God is probably rolling with hearty laughter as He looks down at me as I attempt to mother my three beautiful little ladies!

To be honest, having a boy was easy. At first, I was scared to think of raising a boy, but I very quickly realized that what you see is what you get! When we found out that Peanut was a girl, I seriously freaked out. I called my Aunt, who in my opinion has raised 3 amazing young women, and peppered her with a million questions! Wise woman that she is, she very calmly put me at ease. However, as time has passed and my girls are beginning to turn into young women, I am starkly reminded why I was gripped with a sense of sheer terror! {Smile}

I had the amazing opportunity this past weekend to speak to some young ladies at our church. The topic was sex. Yep, that’s right! And they got to ask me questions – completely open, honest questions. In preparing for that day, I knew I needed to do some major research {and Prayer!} and that I had better know what to say! Let me tell you, Moms or Dads or whoever, nothing puts the fear of God into you like doing research on sex and today’s teens!! {We are going to leave that topic for another day!} All I could think about was my three sweet, innocent, but growing-up-too-fast little girls. And as fearful as I was, I remembered something really important. As hard as He may be laughing, He not only gave them to me, but He gave ME to THEM. He has a purpose and a plan for each of our kids that would be impossible without the “perfect” imperfect parents that we are. I know I’m sort of stating the obvious, but sometimes we just need to be reminded….God gave us our kids because we are the perfect Moms and Dads to fulfill the purposes and plans that He has for them! No one else could do your job better!

The sassy Squirt

Our daring, fearless Peanut

The always energetic Bug

Little man, Buddy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Can I Bring?

I love music.  I love to sing.  It just soothes my soul!  This song has been my theme song this week, so I just wanted to share!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kick It In the Shins!

FEAR.  That word has been tumbling around in my head for days.  I just can't shake it...so I'm going to delve into it. 

Fear is a huge motivator - sometimes good and sometimes bad.  Good, healthy fear keeps us from jumping rope on the edge of a cliff or eating glass!  Good fear shows our respect for our God, our elders, our leaders.  But bad fear wreaks havoc.  It lies and manipulates us into thinking we are less than we are.  It backs us into a corner and holds us captive.  Unfortunately, it has become a major factor in society today.  Think of how many things we do and don't do that are motivated by fear.  We've become "helicopter parents", afraid to let our kids explore, learn and test the world around them.  Fear seeps into the decisions we make about what we eat, drive, buy, where we go, what we do, even our major political parties have figured out that the best way to win is to strike fear into the hearts of the constituency!  Too often we are afraid to be real, open, honest and to allow people to see us for who we really are. 

Be honest, how much of what you do is motivated by fear?  More importantly, how much of what you DON'T do?  Too many times we shrink back because we fear that we aren't smart enough, strong enough, educated enough, pretty enough, talented enough, we aren't worthy of living out the dreams that God placed in our hearts.  I don't know about you, but I have some pretty big dreams buried deep inside!  They scare me!  How in the world could I ever accomplish those things?  I'm just a little stay-at-home Mom who barely went to college, I don't have a big career, I don't have a bunch of money, I'm not perfect!  You know what?  It's time to let the fear go.  It's time to give fear a swift kick in the shins and flee from it!

It's time to leave fear behind and run after your dreams, your visions, your heart!  Sometimes it starts out really small, taking one baby step at a time.  That's where I am.  Giving my fear to God, walking forward in obedience and taking tiny steps towards becoming the wife, mother, servant, woman of God that I can see standing at the end of the road smiling at me telling me to just keep walking forward in faith, in confidence and without fear.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It has to start somewhere....right?

So, as I was sitting on my bum on my nice, comfy couch, I started listing all of the excuses for not starting my blog.  I don't know where to begin, I don't know what to say, I'm not sure I have time, what if I say the wrong thing, it doesn't look right yet, I really have absolutely no idea what I am doing, blah, blah, blah!  Then it dawned on me - my true excuse - it isn't PERFECT.  Hmmm....yeah.  I love when you get a huge slap on the forehead from the Man Upstairs!  Let us back up for a moment...

I am a "recovering" perfectionist.  I had {have} this need for perfection.  I like my house clean, organized, everything in its place.  I like order in my life.  I like things and people to be on time.  I want my recipes to come out just right.  I really want to say and do the right thing.  Oh, and it would really make life so much easier if everyone else would just be perfect too! {Insert laughter!}

To make a long story short, I now have a husband and four kids.  That's probably enough said, right?  Perfection flew out the window a long time ago!  However, it has actually been a hard-fought battle and the war isn't over.  Why am I fighting against perfection you ask?  What's wrong with wanting to be perfect?  Well, let me lay it on the line....

There is no such thing as a perfect human being.  Yep, I said it.  Not me, not you, not your neighbor, not your spouse, not your friends, not your enemies, not your pastor, not his wife, not your kids, and certainly not my kids!  How can you worry, stress and fret over something that simply is not possible?  Now don't get me wrong, I believe more than anything that we should all strive to grow, to stretch, to become better people day by day.  We can never stop learning, growing and allowing ourselves to be shaped and molded into the people God has us to be.  But for me, my focus for too long was {is} on myself and perfection.  I was looking to the wrong place and I was looking for the wrong thing.  So, I'm slowly changing and I'm allowing you in on the journey....