Our Family Summer 2008

Our Family Summer 2008
Brandon, Stacy, Samantha Kailey & Trenton

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another One bites the dust.........

Those are the only words I can think of to describe another decade gone by.

I am still having a hard time saying good by to my thirties but I haven't much choice. But as I look back over the last ten years, it would take far more than two hands to count my many, many blessings.

Some of the most memorable have been the births of Kailey & Trenton. Sammy became a teenager (How did that happen?). Kailey started Kindergarten. Brandon & I celebrated our 10th & 15th wedding anniversaries. Brandon was called by God during a revival to leave his Corporate Career to become a minister. We packed up our family & moved to Kansas away from all family & friends. God blessed us with new friends. I have been a stay at home mom. I was blessed with a Wonderful opportunity to work at Saint Francis Children's Hospital PICU for 8 months right before we re-located to Kansas. I LOVED that job! God blessed me with my own daycare which grew far beyond what I ever would have imagined. I had the privilege of taking care of some incredible kids & made some amazing friends along the way. God called me back in to the role of Stay at Home Mom this year. I miss the kids a ton but LOVE the time I have with my own family. I have had the opportunity to volunteer at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Woodward  in some of my free time. I also have the AMAZING privilege of being a year round volunteer with Operation Christmas Child (a ministry so close to my heart). I pray that in the next decade God will open the door for me to be able to deliver Christmas boxes to those sweet children. This has always been a dream of mine. I have said goodbye to Brandon's grandma, My pee-paw & paw-paw who now reside in Heaven. I have also grieved three children who followed them there. I have had a few successes and many failures. I have had lots of happiness but also times of pain that were too terrible for words. But through it all God was always there! The last 10 years have flown by in a blink. I can't wait to see what God has in store for me in the next 10........

"So teach ME to number my days so that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When Love Takes You In...........

I remember it as though it were yesterday. I remember the hundreds of couples around us. I remember the smells. I remember the cool crisp Fall Air outside that morning. Saturday October 18, 2003. A Day to Remember for Couples, a one day event put on by Family Life (a scaled down version of a Weekend to Remember). This was our first marital retreat (if you have never been to a marriage retreat, I highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity if you ever have one). Brandon & I didn't have any real marital issues that we were aware of. When he had asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, I had requested we go to this and he had agreed. Sammy was 4 1/2 years old. She was still an only child & the center of our world. We decided a day to focus on our relationship as a couple might be in order. My in-laws gladly volunteered to take care of Sammy (the only grandchild). She wasn't spoiled at all! As we drove to Reunion Arena that morning, I had no idea what God had in store for us that day! The conference was excellent! They kept speaking of a HUGE surprise that had instore for us! The surprise was an appearance by Christian Artist Steven Curtis Chapman. Brandon & I are BIG fans so we were excited he was there to sing for us. He began to talk about adoption (he & Mary Beth had just adopted their first daughter from China (they later adopted 2 more)), he spoke of the millions of unwanted children in the world,then he showed the video of When Love takes you in....Tears were flowing down both Brandon & my faces. We had been praying for a baby for months. Sammy was praying & asking for a baby sister at least once a day. All of her closest friends had younger siblings at this point, so she didn't understand why she wasn't a BIG sister yet. Truth is...we didn't understand either. All of her friends parents, who were our friends were always saying...It's your turn...or When are ya'll going to have another one?? We were too broken hearted to share that we were trying, hopeful & praying. So we would laugh it off publicly while silently our hearts were broken. As the lyrics of the song played I could hear God calling us to adoption. It was as if Brandon & I were the only ones in that arena with God. I quietly said Yes, Lord, I will gladly take an unloved, unwanted child & show him or her love. To be honest, I really believed at that moment that Sammy would be our only biological child and at that moment I was ok with that. Brandon & I had long conversations with each other and with God in the months to come. We were both ready and willing to do whatever He called us to do. We both longed for more children whatever way God saw fit to bring them into our family. Those who know our family know that God was gracious to us and allowed us to conceive 5 more times. We have been so blessed! We have Kailey & Trenton on loan to us on earth (in addition to Sammy) and Trevor and 2 other sweet little gatekeepers waiting to greet us some day in Heaven (oh what a day that will be!). But always in the back of our minds has been that call to adopt. I don't believe that God removed that calling when he chose to bless us with 5 more biological children. He was just saying it will be in my time not yours. In the last 6 months he has been speaking to Brandon & I saying, It is time, It is time, over and over and over again. I think we must be slow learners. Our kids are so excited and have been praying too. They are all hoping for a brother younger than Trenton but we are all willing to accept whatever God has in store for us. We just keeping praying for that orphan out there who belongs in our family. We have so much love to give and can't wait to get him or her home. I realize that the journey ahead will not be an easy one. I have come to learn that God doesn't call us to easy! I also realize that God will be right here with us to see us through. I covet your prayers as we embrace God's calling.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Know It's ONLY a Number........BUT

Today is October 1st (where has the year gone?) and marks just 19 days until I hit another milestone in my life. The end of another decade. If I am honest, I will admit that I have been dreading this birthday for at least 2 years now. The funny thing is I spent my whole 38th year of life thinking I was 39. Brandon was always quick to correct me when I would say my age, we would argue about it for a second and then I would do some quick math and realize.....oh I am only 38. I would take a deep breath and then forget again by the next time I needed to know my age for something. So this year I really am 39 again! But the end of 39 is just days away. I have never really had a difficult time with any age so I don't know why 40 is so hard to swallow. Maybe it's because I know I will never be a mommy again (at least not by carrying a baby in my womb) but I don't think that is it. I really think I dealt with all of that last year. So maybe it's because in reality my life is probably about half over. In looking back over the first half I haven't accomplished much. I hope to accomplish so much more (for the Kingdom) in my next 40. I am not sure if that is even it though. Anyway, I was blessed to go to Wonderful Weekend for Women a couple of weeks ago. I was even more blessed by attending a Conference on International Adoption led by Melissa. She adopted a beautiful baby named Mercy out of Uganda. Sadly, Mercy's mama died giving birth to her and her dad was killed before she was born. Little Mercy came into this world an Orphan but now has a loving family and resides in Kansas. Melissa also shared about Child Birth in Uganda. The women have to provide their own supplies for childbirth or they are turned away by the hospital. The supplies cost $7.00 that isn't much to many Americans but in Uganda $7.00 represents one half of one months salary for a man. Yikes!!! God caught my attention, there must be something I can do. I can certainly afford to provide a few kits God. I came back to Protection and shared the story with our church and asked them about praying to provide kits. Many of them have joined me to provide kits. Then it hit me, let's turn my 40th birthday into a celebration. A celebration for those mamas in Uganda. Our $7 can mean the difference between life and death for those mamas and the babies they hope to deliver. Although, I still am not real excited about turning 40, I am excited about the opportunity to present Mercy for Mamas enough money to purchase at least 40 Mama Kits for my 40th Birthday. Please join me in the celebration and help prevent mamas from dying and leaving orphans behind. Uganda doesn't need anymore orphans.

"So teach ME to number my days so that I may gain a heart of wisdom" Psalm 90:12

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet Innocence

We started the day with a BIG breakfast (not really normal for us during the week) but it was a special day. We had scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, bisquits and Sammy made chocolate chip & blueberry mini muffins. Sakura ate a little of everything but went back for seconds on the chocolate chip muffins. The kids all played Super Mario on the Wii. Trenton loves playing Wii with Sakura. She just smiles & laughs everytime he speaks to her. We headed to the farm to check on the bunnies. Sakura petted the smallest one today. We laughed at the goats as they greeted us. The piglets were somewhere in the shade as it was quite hot out. We then headed back to town. We ate bow-tie pasta, corn & oranges for lunch. Sakura brought us each our own set of chopstixs. She tried to teach us how to use them. Sammy, Kailey & I did pretty good although we don't hold them correctly, we are able to eat. Trenton used stabbing as his method of choice. Sakura laughed & laughed. I think he had way more food on the floor then he did in his belly. After lunch we headed to the pool. Sakura has the most adorable swimsuit that I have ever seen. After seeing her swimsuit and the swimsuit on the other young lady from Japan I have decided Japanese teenage girls are wayyyyyy more modest than their American counterparts. I really like that! I noticed yesterday when she arrived that she had a lot of Winnie the Pooh items. She also loves Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck. There's just something about her love for them that speaks sweet innocence to me. Those are characters Sammy hasn't really made mention of since Kindergarten. Kailey too has replaced them with names like Justin Bieber & One Direction. We spent our evening at a dp/t-ball party at the pool. We had hot dogs & chips (no chopstix). When we returned home Allison, Addie & Joycelyn came over to meet our new friend. She shared her album with them and even some Japanese money. Sammy & Sakura spent some time playing outside with them. I must say that I am completely fascinated with her. I have never been out of the country so this is quite an experience for this small-town girl. Last night she would not admit to being tired, tonight when asked, she quickly said yes. I think we all are.

Favorite Memory of the Day: I LOVED watching so many kids at the pool welcome Sakura.

Monday, July 23, 2012

She's Here!

Meet Sakura

She made it this evening after a long road trip today. We had so much fun this evening just getting to know a little more about her. We had dinner in our home tonight. We had American food with a touch of Japanese mixed in. We had chicken strips, Japanese style white rice, Italian Green Beans w/onions followed by Pineapple. She tried everything and even cleaned her plate (which is more than I can say for my own children, they were too excited) She got really excited when we got out the Pocky (a Japanese snack we picked up at the grocery store). Then we took a drive out to a farm where we checked on some bunnies for some friends. She was grinning from ear to ear looking at the bunnies. We then showed her their pigs and all of the new piglets. I don't think she had ever seem a pig that close before. We then returned home where we played a high stakes game of UNO ATTACK. Kailey beat us all this round. She brought us all gifts so it was like Christmas morning around here. T really liked the Japanese candy she brought. I think he ate the whole bag! She brought us all chopstixs so we will give those a try tomorrow. We finished the evening by looking through a book that she made for us. She shared about her family, their home, her school, holidays they celebrate & their vacation last Summer. It was a true learning experience for me. In my last post I said we are growing, meaning by one in our family (for a time). But I know through this experience we will all be growing so much more! We have NEVER had any one in our home for more than a week (& that was family & a close friend). I was impressed by our 13 year old this evening by how she treated our guest with such poise & grace and how in spite of communication challenges she continued to make conversation with our new friend. I am looking forward to the weeks ahead and I plan to share as much as I can. Thanks for all of the prayers for safe travel and smooth transitions. God is so good!

Favorite Memory of today: The look on Sakura's face as the much taller Sammy was showing her around our home. Sakura kept looking up at Sam like she was a giant. It was classic!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

We are growing....

Our family is growing (for a few weeks) and we are so excited! We are hosting a young lady from Japan. She will arrive on Monday and she & Sammy will be sharing a room for 4 weeks. She will also be joining us for Super Summer Church camp as well as several other activities. Brandon has wanted to host for a few years now so after much prayer, here we go....

Prayers for safe travel and smooth transitions will be much appreciated.

Monday, May 21, 2012

So What Happened when God said No.

Last week I wrote about our Sunday School lesson about Hannah. I shared the verse from 1 Samuel 1:27 "I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of HIM." That verse has been on my mind all week long. What happens when God doesn't grant me what I ask for? I wish I had all of the answers but I mostly certainly do not. What I do know is my own life experience. In late Summer of 2009 I found out I was expecting our 4th child. While I knew Brandon and I had talked about having another baby this was NOT in our plans at that time. The timing just wasn't right in MY mind. For the first time in our married lives we were living without health insurance. In MY mind there was NO way we could afford a baby (big testimony of my faith...huh!) Sometimes.....well actually alot of times faith is hard for us planners. You want to know the WHOLE plan step by step. Then you can follow by Faith...hahaha. Right! You planners out there understand! Well, anyway this planner was completely caught off guard and this just wasn't in her plans. I was up night after night wondering God's plan. We checked with a couple of hospitals and found out it is OK to have a baby without health insurance. Did you know people do this all the time? Hospitals (and doctors) actually have payment plans. I hate to say this but in my sheltered, pampered little world.....I had NO idea. Once I knew it was going to be ok financially, I settled down a bit. However, I had already wasted weeks with worry. As life moved ahead we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and rang in the New Year. Once the new year rolled in I was ready to get ready for our precious baby. I wasn't due until June but I was ready. However, in just a few short days, on January 4th MY plans were changed again. God took Trevor home early that morning. I had no prior complications so again this planner's world was turned upside down. The planner in me was already planning in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. In between the pain of my contractions I focused on getting back home and getting on with life. I would get back home,  allow my body to heal, allow time for newly purchased health insurance (what a blessing God provided) to take effect and then I would quickly get pregnant again. We could still have a new baby in 2010 or early 2011 at the latest.....that was MY plan surely God would be agreeable to that....Right? HE ALWAYS gives ME just what I want....Right? The planner in me had NO idea how much my life was FOREVER changed that morning when Trevor was born in our home. The planner in me had NO idea how much of a roller coaster of emotions I would be on the next few months of life. The planner in me had NO idea that a HUGE part of who I am went to HEAVEN to be with JESUS that morning. But as I returned to real life the next day, I soon found out, that I would NEVER be the same! Many of you know the next parts of the story, if not you can check out past blog posts to get all of the details. But 2010 left me with two more babies in Heaven and alot of questions. I prayed and prayed that God would bless us with another child on earth. In Fall of 2011, on Halloween to be exact I had a hysterectomy after months of many health issues. It was in the weeks leading up to that, that I knew in my heart that God was not going to give me what I had asked for at least not in the way I had planned. Through the grace of God I was able to accept HIS answer. There are times when I don't understand and I know while I am on earth, I probably never will. But I know HE is faithful. I know HE loves me and I know HE knows the WHOLE plan and I can trust him completely. He may not always give me what I want but he has NEVER let me down. In the months leading up to the loss of Trevor, I had been praying and praying for God to draw me closer. It was the desire of my heart to be closer to HIM than I have ever been. I wanted to learn and to grow and to become more mature spiritually. I wanted so much more from my relationship with HIM. Guess what? In the months/years after the loss of Trevor I have had some of the closest times in my relationship with HIM. I have had the greatest desire to get to know HIM so much more. To learn as much about HIM as I can. My relationship with HIM is so much like my relationship with Brandon or anyone else on earth. In order to have a good relationship you have to invest time and energy into it. HE is always there with the desire to have fellowship with me. It's me who has to devote the time to spend with HIM. Trust me...it doesn't just happen because you teach Sunday School, are a deacon's wife or EVEN the wife of a Pastor. It comes through Time spent with him. Believe me I have tried the easy way and it just doesn't work. The past few years have taught me that things don't always go the way I want them to......And that's ok because God will ALWAYS see me through.

Still one of my favorite verses:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord." Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11