Monthly Archives: November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Our bellies are full, the dishes are done, and we are enjoying a quiet evening snuggled up on the couch while we watch White Christmas. It has been a wonderful day..a wonderful couple of days. On Tuesday night we went to bed with a blizzard blowing outside and when we woke up on Wednesday morning the world outside was a winter wonderland. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful backdrop and do our Christmas pictures for our Christmas cards.

Here is one of the photos we took…

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After finishing up our school work for the week we packed away the books and pencils until Monday and pulled out the mixing bowls and spoons. This was the first holiday since Toby and I married that we would not be traveling or spending it with extended family. As much as we were going to miss that special time with Toby’s family we were looking forward to the novelty of a holiday with just our own little family. Last week we sat down as a family and decided what we wanted to make for our Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone picked a favorite Thanksgiving dish that they would be in charge of making. We began our cooking on Wednesday afternoon. We put on Christmas music, pulled out aprons and got to work. It was a lot of fun. Everyone had the following assignments…

Tyler made the pumpkin pie.

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Gracie made the mashed potatoes.

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Rusty made the sweet potato casserole and Chex mix for us to munch on Thanksgiving day while we played board games.

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Molly made peanut butter pie and helped me make rolls. I took care of the remaining dishes.

On Thanksgiving morning we were able to sleep in a little later than usual. After putting the turkey in we decided to take advantage of the 7 inches of snow that had fallen outside for some fun in the snow. Our Thanksgiving day was filled with Christmas movies, playing board games and enjoying all the good  food that was prepared.

Snowball fight!

Snowball fight!

Toby armed with a frying pan for a shield. I love this man!

Toby armed with a frying pan for a shield. I love this man!

Rusty and Winnie

Rusty and Winnie

Molly...all bundled up!

Molly…all bundled up!

It was a wonderfully relaxing day. As I sit in my warm home with a full belly and my dear little family around me I feel like the richest woman on Earth.

I am blessed.

Counting the blessings.

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This weekend was a special one. It was a weekend that left us counting the many blessings in our lives. So often we take for granted the very things others are praying for this holiday season…food in our bellies, clean sheets on our beds, warm homes, clean water and the security of home and family. This month we began, as part of our evening routine, making blessing leaves. Each night beginning Nov 1st with the letter “A” we each wrote down a blessing in our lives that begins with that letter. The following evening we moved to the next letter of the alphabet and we then taped the finished leaves up on our bedroom door. It had been a joy watching our children count their blessings and reflect on the many good things God has given them.

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Blessing leaves

Earlier this week we received a call from our adoption agency asking us if we would be willing to do  respite care for another family over the weekend.  Respite care is a service our adoption agency offers to all of their foster/pre-adoptive families. For a family that is in need of a babysitter for a short amount of time they call on one of the other foster/adoptive families to step in and take the child for the week or weekend. Often it is used to give that family a much-needed break in hopes that if the family takes the weekend off to “recharge” their batteries they will then be able to continue on with the placement.  When we received the call asking us if we would be willing to take on a 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy for the weekend we hadn’t ever considered doing respite care before.  After discussing it as a family we all decided that it would be a fun thing to try and a wonderful way to bless another family in the process. After saying “yes” we then received more information on the kids. We found out that they were coming to us  not knowing that next week parental rights of their biological parents were going to be terminated and that after next week they would cease to have contact with them.  They also came to us having no idea that their foster family had just put in their 30 day notice and  would be moved out of the house they call “home” days before Christmas. We entered the weekend in prayer.  We prayed that everyone would be safe and comfortable while together, we prayed we would have wisdom in dealing with the issues that we were told these two children came with, but mostly we prayed that we would be a blessing and that their weekend here would be a respite not only for the foster family but for these two kids whose world was about to be turned upside down.

Friday morning we began to prepare for their visit. Molly was having the little girl sleep on her top bunk and Rusty was having the little boy sleep on his. They changed their sheets, picked out books to put beside the bed, and pulled out toys they thought the kids would enjoy.  After getting ready we headed out on a field trip to the ice skating rink. The kids had fun skating with their friends for two hours before we had to meet up with the foster family at Burger King to pick up our visitors.

Tyler skating with the boys.

Tyler skating with the boys.

Miss Grace

Miss Grace

Gracie and her best buddies.

Gracie and her best buddies.

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Molly and her buddy, Tatum.

Molly and her buddy, Tatum.

That night we picked up our visitors without incident. The foster mom had been concerned they would have a tough time going with us but they did great. They connected with the kids right away and when we arrived home they were eager to explore the house. Our weekend was spent playing at home on Saturday morning and going out in the afternoon. The kids loved the McDonald’s play house and all the animals. In the afternoon we went to the Olympic Fun Center where everyone enjoyed roller skating, rock climbing and laser tag. They stayed with us until Sunday night when we met the foster mom to drop them off. It was a wonderful weekend with some wonderful little visitors.

Tyler and his new friend

Tyler and his new friend

The kids exploring the fields..

The kids exploring the fields..

Our visitor enjoying the rock climbing wall.

Our visitor enjoying the rock climbing wall.

Stopping for frozen yogurt after a day of fun.

Stopping for frozen yogurt after a day of fun.

With Thanksgiving approaching this week I have found myself reflecting on all that I have to be thankful for and how many blessings I so often take for granted. One of those blessings that I became more aware of as we cared for these two little ones was the blessing of security. We so often take for granted the blessing of knowing that where we sleep tonight will be where we will sleep tomorrow, that the people we call family will still be our family next month, that the home we know and love will still be our home next year. That is a blessing that millions of children world-wide are denied. They live with the fear and uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. They go to bed not knowing how long they will call this place home or these people family. I recently read a book entitled, Adopting the Hurt Child, which profoundly affected me. In it the author attempts to illustrate to the reader the feelings of a child in the foster system. Here is his analogy:

“Imagine you are sitting in your livingroom on a warm summer evening. Your spouse is dozing peacefully on the sofa, having consumed one too many beers at dinner.  Your two children, who have spent all day bickering, are quietly playing with their favorite toys. You’re curled up with a good book, and your feeling is one of contentment. Perhaps this isn’t the perfect family, but they are yours, and you love them.

Suddenly there’s a knock at the door. You rise to open it. Standing there is a tall man you have never seen before. He gently takes you by the arm and ushers you into his car.  Before you can comprehend what has happened, he’s driving you away from your home.

Soon you stop in front of a beautiful house with a broad, manicured lawn. The man leads you inside, where he introduces you to the people there. They are warm and pleasant, and they smile sweetly at you. The man tells you that this is your new family.

Your new spouse doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. Your new children never argue and are well-behaved. They show you your new room, point out all your new belongings, and tell you to make yourself at home. All while they are smiling.

You look over your shoulder at the tall man, who’s smiling too. He assures you that this new family will love you forever. And all they expect in return is for  you to love them back.

You slowly look at your new surroundings. Your emotions are swirling out of control. You feel as though you are moving through a dream. This new family might be wonderful, they may be superior to your old family in every way- but they are not your family. You don’t even know them so how can you love them?”

I found this to be a powerful analogy. It gave me greater empathy for the fears, behaviors and struggles of all the innocents who have ended up in the system through no fault of their own. In made me realize the profound blessing of security…of home…of family. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for so many things. Forgive me Lord for the blessings I take for granted…those very things that so many others are praying for..

The prancing and pawing of eight tiny hoofs

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 Yesterday was a busy day. The morning began with the arrival of a psychologist at my door. He had been hired by the school to reevaluate Gracie for her IEP. We were told to expect the testing to take 2-3 hours.  While testing was taking place in the diningroom I made a valiant, yet failed effort, to do school with Tyler in the livingroom. With every “shhhh” and ” we need to be quiet” his volume seemed to rise. Taking advantage of the fact I couldn’t fully react since I had testing happening 10 feet away he quickly figured out the advantage he had and my day began to spin out of control. The testing ended up taking 4 hours rather than the expected 2-3 hours so in the midst of Gracie’s testing the piano teacher arrived for lessons. Molly began her lessons in the livingroom after I assured the piano teacher that the organ could in no way be louder or more distracting to Grace than her little brother had been all morning. My home quickly took on the sound and feel of Grand Central Station as Rusty tried to occupy Tyler in his room, Molly pounded out songs in the livingroom, Gracie had her IQ tested in the diningroom and Winnie raced from room to room slimming everyone as she desperately pleaded for attention. In the midst of the chaos I tried to get things ready for two visitors we have spending the weekend with us. Soon our piano lessons were done and Gracie’s evaluation was completed. We all collapsed in the livingroom to put our feet up for a minute before we began to prepare for our evening activities when…

“In a twinkling, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of eight tiny hoofs.”

We looked at each other in puzzlement. Toby wasn’t home…Tyler was accounted for…

So, who was on the roof?!

Molly’s eyes opened wide with realization.  “Goats!” she shouted as she raced out the door with the rest of us on her heels.

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Sure enough we looked up on the roof and Gracie and Molly’s goats were jumping and kicking up their heels with sheer joy. Our goats, who are frequent escape artists, had discovered a new place to play. They discovered that if they jumped up on the air conditioner at the back of the house they could then jump onto the roof.

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Tyler and I watched as the older kids raced to the back of the house to climb up and retrieve them. We watched as they climbed higher and became even more daring.

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The girls were  nervous wrecks as they tried to coax them off the roof, certain at any moment the goats would jump off the edge and break their necks..

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Molly was finally able to coax them over the gable and down the back side of the roof…

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It was then that I decided my life was more “Ringling Brother’s Circus” than “Grand Central Station.”

Wecome to my personal three ring circus…The Greatest Show on Earth. 😉

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You say “raised in a barn” like it’s a bad thing…

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I always found the comment, “You act like you were raised in a barn,” puzzling. It is spoken in criticism and yet when I consider all the good, pure, lovely, magical memories a barn evokes I can only assume that the saying was originally spoken by a city slicker that never had the opportunity to experience the magic of a barn. For my kids the thought of a barn evokes the memories of playing in the hay, milking goats, chasing chickens, and gathering eggs. For my children a barn represents work, family time, love and sweet memories and no place is that more true than the big red barn at the Homestead. This past Sunday we had the opportunity to drive out to my parents’ home and visit not only with them but with my sister’s family as well who were visiting from Michigan for the day. Where did most of the visiting take place?? In the barn, of course!!

Sunday was a gray day but luckily not too cold or rainy. As we left for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Mimi and Pop pop’s house the kids talked eagerly about getting to see their cousins. This visit was a rare treat. Typically we have a long stretch of time from early fall through spring when we don’t see our family from the north simply because traveling to Northern  Michigan in the winter months is challenging. 🙂 We only had one day with them, but we managed to fit a whole lot of playing, laughing, and visiting in those 8 short hours.

Soon after arriving and saying our “hellos” the kids were off to their favorite place at Mimi and Pop pop’s home…the barn. Mimi and Pop pop had just recently had their winter supply of hay for the animals delivered which meant lots of hay to climb and play on. Toby went out, at the request of the kids, to build a hay maze and tunnels for them to play in.

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Toby's building experience was put to use!

Toby’s building experience was put to use!

He even built tunnels to crawl through..

He even built tunnels to crawl through..

Once Toby was done rearranging the hay bales the kids were ready for a game of hide and seek. Tyler counted first…

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The majority of the day was spent hanging out in the barn. The adults visited while the kids jumped rope…

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Put on a show for the grown-ups…

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and enjoyed cousin bonding time!

The girls!

The girls!

Gracie and Noah

Gracie and Noah

We even had a birthday celebration for Sammy, who turns 3 this week, complete with decorations, cupcakes, and gifts. Guess what the theme was…a barnyard birthday party. 🙂

Sammy

Sammy

Gift time.

Gift time.

We did venture outside of the barn for a little while in the afternoon, when the sun peeked out, to visit with the animals.

Nate and Sammy

Nate and Sammy

Pop pop and George

Pop pop and George

Sammy taking George out for a spin :)

Sammy taking George out for a spin 🙂

I love this picture of my parents. It captures in a moment all that they are and all that I love about them. I love you Mom and Dad!

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It was a wonderful day at the Homestead, a wonderful day with family, and a wonderful day spent in a barn. I am grateful that my children have the opportunity to live a country life with the responsibility of caring for animals, the opportunity to learn how to work hard, and the chance to experience simple joys like playing in hay and chasing chickens.

So…Yes, my children were raised in a barn.

I’m so glad you could tell. 🙂

These kids act like they were raised in a barn!

These kids act like they were raised in a barn!

“Tie”d together in love

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It has been three years now since my father-in-law’s passing. It is hard to believe it has been that long. I remember that night vividly. It was October 30th and we had just spent the day at a local corn maze. We came home and got Gracie, Molly and Rusty dressed in their Halloween costumes and drove 45 minutes away to the hospital where Toby’s dad was being treated  so that Pop pop could see the kids’ costumes. When we arrived Mimi and Pop pop were there and had treats and little painted pumpkins waiting for them. We visited for a while and then as visiting hours drew to a close we prepared to leave. As we headed home Gracie suggested that we stop at Moe’s, a mexican restaurant, for dinner rather than driving home and eating there. Since it was late and everyone was tired and hungry we followed Gracie’s suggestion and pulled in to eat…

The other night as we were doing our family scripture study we were presented with the discussion question, “Has the Holy Spirit ever prompted you to do something that at the time seemed insignificant, only to discover later God’s hand in that prompting?” Gracie quickly answered that she had experienced God’s prompting in her life the night Pop pop died when she suggested we stop at Moe’s for dinner. Here is her story…

We could have easily continued driving home. That would have been the expected decision after a long, busy day but Gracie asked us to stop and we did. As we were sitting at dinner we received the call from Toby’s mom that something serious had happened and that Rich was being flown to Pittsburgh to a bigger hospital. We dropped everything and rushed back to the hospital. Because we had stopped for dinner we were only 15 minutes away as opposed to the 45 minutes away we would have been had we gone home. 30 minutes may not seem significant in the big scheme of things but it meant everything to a 12-year-old girl. It meant she was able, along with her siblings, to see her Pop pop one last time.  We rushed into the hall as they were taking him up to the helicopter. We had only moments in the hallway before he was taken away but those moments contained hugs, and words of loves, and final good-byes. For Gracie and the other two kids those moments made all the difference. They were able to let Pop pop know of their love for him…their great, great love… and it came as a result of a loving God and a simple craving for Mexican food. 🙂

Rich passed away the next day. It was a sorrowful day for many because his absence would be felt by so many. As a tribute to Rich’s life my mother-in-law began a project a few years ago…a tie quilt. She collected ties from the many men that were dear to Rich… the many who loved him and whose lives were touched by his and she created a quilt. She finished it up on the three-year anniversary of his death. Here is her beautiful quilt and her beautiful tribute…

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Here is Joy’s story in her words…

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When I consider the life that  Rich lived while here with us, it was one of humble goodness. He reached out, he loved unconditionally, he served and changed the lives of many. I have always loved the counsel, “You were born with the ability to change someone’s life, don’t ever waste it.”  Rich lived that philosophy daily. He lived, he loved, he changed the lives of many…just look at all those ties. 🙂

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Glass Blowing

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Last Friday we had the fun experience of attending a field trip to a local glass blowing center. The field trip started at noon so we used the morning to get some schoolwork done before we left. The drive to the glass blowing center took us about an hour. The drive was beautiful, although it was very hilly. By the time we arrived everyone was feeling a bit green even the boys who rarely get carsick. As we pulled into the town where the glass blowing center was located we passed the local post office. The kids couldn’t get over how little it was. They got such a kick out of it that they insisted we drive by it again to get a picture.

The mini post office!

The mini post office!

When we arrived the kids were pleased to see that many of their friends were attending. The center consisted of a demonstration room with a gift shop attached to it. In the gift shop there was a beautiful abundance of glasswares for sale…everything from jewelry to Christmas ornaments. The kids enjoyed looking around the shop with their friends.

Shopping with friends.

Shopping with friends.

Tyler discovered a vending machine that sold handmade marbles. He used his allowance and bought three containers of them.

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Rusty also bought a container of marbles with his money and Grace used her money from her face painting job a few weeks earlier to purchase a necklace and a set of earrings.

Gracie trying to decide..

Gracie trying to decide..

The earrings Gracie chose.

The earrings Gracie chose.

After letting the kids look around the shop for a while, the pizza arrived. As part of the outing the school provided pizza for the families. It was so nice and the pizza was delicious! Everyone had a good time visiting and eating before the actual glass blowing demonstration began.

The boys enjoying their pizza :)

The boys enjoying their pizza 🙂

After lunch everyone took a seat to watch the glass blowing demonstration. Welding glasses were handed out so that the kids could better see what was happening with the glass inside the flame.

Rusty in his welding glasses

Rusty in his welding glasses

The man doing the demonstration was wonderful. He not only was an amazing artist but was a wonderful teacher. The kids enjoyed his demonstration and he did a great job of answering their questions.

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The first thing he demonstrated was how to make a dolphin. In a matter of minutes this was his finished result..

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He then showed the kids how to blow glass and what could be done with the blown glass..

Here he is blowing the glass by inserting a rubber tube in the end of the glass tube.

Here he is blowing the glass by inserting a rubber tube in the end of the glass tube.

The glass ball he made was then transformed into a flower. After forming the flower he showed how you can add pure gold or silver to the glass to color it. By adding gold your glass turns pink and by adding silver it will turn yellow. He demonstrated this by taking a piece of silver coin and melting it onto the glass flower. The result was beautiful!

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A silver coated glass flower.

A silver coated glass flower.

It was a very neat outing. Gracie expressed that she thought it had been then best outing we had ever attended. When she heard that this man also offers classes she hinted that she would love that for a Christmas gift. The day was a hit with everyone..Tyler loved the excitement of watching the man play with a  blowtorch, Rusty enjoyed the science of glass blowing as the teacher explained what was happening on a molecular level, Molly loved the social aspect of the outing and Gracie and I loved the beauty and artistry of the work. There was something for everyone! 🙂

The families watching the demonstration.

The families watching the demonstration.

All in all it was a BEAUTIFUL day!

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A modern day miracle!

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Tyler's welcome sign for his siblings.

Tyler’s welcome sign for his siblings.

Tyler has experienced more than his share of brokenness in his short life here on Earth, far more brokenness than any 7 year-old boy should have to experience..a broken home, broken trust, broken relationships, and broken heart…but I have witnessed today the miracle of healing and the truth behind the quote, “Broken things can become beautiful things when you let God do the mending.” I had the privilege of watching God reach down from Heaven and touch some of the brokenness in Tyler’s life and mend it. I witnessed a miracle today…

This miracle didn’t happen overnight. It happened over the course of years. It happened in God’s time. It happened at exactly the right time. Four years ago Tyler and his four siblings were removed from their home and placed in the system. Tyler is the second to youngest with three older brothers and a younger sister. They were put into separate foster homes and slowly they were adopted, one by one. As each child was adopted the court ordered visits would end and they ceased to have contact with each other. When Tyler moved in with us he and his brother Brandon were the only ones not adopted so the two of them were the only two that still had monthly visits with each other. As we neared Tyler’s adoption day Brandon expressed to our social worker fears that he would never see Tyler again..fears that, like the other siblings, Tyler would disappear from his life forever. It was our desire to remain in contact but the foster system makes this difficult with all of the privacy laws. After adopting Tyler we didn’t have any contact information for Brandon so we began to pray for him instead. Daily I prayed for this lost brother, this child that the system had left behind and labeled “unadoptable.” I prayed that God would bring about a miracle not only for Brandon but for all the siblings. I prayed that He would heal the broken hearts and broken relationships brought about by abuse and that one day these siblings would be reunited. Well, God did provide a miracle and I had a front row seat as I watched it unfold.

It all began two weeks ago when God used a compassionate therapist to get the ball rolling. At a therapy appointment Brandon told his therapist that all he wanted for his birthday was to see his brother, Tyler, again. That heartfelt desire led to her tracking down my email and making contact. She asked if we would be open to a visit and I replied with an enthusiastic “YES!” This was the answer to my prayers. After setting up a day and time to meet we were ready for Brandon to come and visit, but God had other plans. You see I had been praying for Brandon and Tyler to reconnect but God had bigger plans. God was planning on bringing ALL the siblings together for the reunion of a lifetime. I didn’t realize it at the time but He was already laying the groundwork for this miracle. When God put the idea on my heart to track down the families of all the kids and bring them together all at once I questioned the logistics of how we would pull it off. Once again I was reminded of the truth that when you are doing God’s will there is no mountain He can’t move, no miracle He can’t perform, so I began by calling the number I had for Tyler’s brother Sean. The response I received from Sean’s mom was unbelievable. She shared that she had been praying for this for years and to just name the date and place and they would be there. From her I received the contact information for another sibling and the result just snowballed. Everyone responded with the same eagerness and gratitude for this miracle. As we got closer to the actual day we watched as God cleared schedules, blessed us with perfect weather for our visit, and even help one lost family find our home two hours after the party began. Nothing was going to stand in the way of this special day..

As we prepared for the visit I was concerned that Tyler might struggle with mixed feeling about seeing the siblings that he hasn’t seen in 3-4 years but he responded with enthusiasm, eagerly joining in with the party planning and helping to decide what we should serve for lunch. (He wanted to roast hot dogs on the fire and drink root beer) The night before the visit we were talking about how special it was that he would have all 3 brothers and his sister here at once. He corrected me, “No, I will have 4 brothers and 3 sisters,” as he included Grace, Molly and Rusty in the count. Yes, Tyler…you are right. 🙂

At 1:00 on Saturday we gathered around the fire and said a prayer. We prayed that God’s hand might continue to be on the day, that He might be present at this special event, and that He would heal that which was broken. A few minutes later our first guests arrived. It was Brandon. His foster mom had driven him and his two foster brothers two and a half hours to get to our home. For the last 10 minutes of the trip Brandon’s eyes were covered. He didn’t know where he was going, he only knew it was a birthday surprise. You can imagine the emotion when he opened his eyes and saw Tyler. He was then told that all his sibling were going to be there, some of whom he hadn’t seen in 3 1/2 years.  He fought back tears trying not to cry.

Brandon about to see his birthday surprise..

Brandon about to see his birthday surprise..

Tyler and Brandon ran off to jump on the trampoline and about 15 minutes later Sean’s mom pulled in. The two boys ran to greet Sean. You could tell everyone was a little nervous as they greeted each other but within minutes they were playing like they had never been separated.

Brandon, SEan and Tyler

Brandon, Sean and Tyler

The next family to arrive was Michael’s family. Micheal is the oldest brother and was the first to be adopted. We didn’t think Michael was going to be able to make it. We had received a call the night before telling us that a friend of theirs had died and they wouldn’t be able to make it, but God provided a way and at noon we received a call saying that they would be coming after all. It was so neat watching Michael with his younger brothers as he took on the role of nurturer and protector when someone got hurt. When Michael arrived the boys began playing football together as the parents sat around the fire and visited. It was wonderful visiting with everyone and we gained a lot of insight as we discussed the kids and their struggles/behaviors/strengths. I feel like I gained a new perspective as well as a lot of pertinent information on Tyler’s history as a result of talking to the other parents. As I visited with each Mom I felt such assuredness that each of these kids are exactly where they are meant to be and it wasn’t by chance that we each were brought to the child that we adopted. Each of their stories were amazing and a testimony of God’s love for these children.

Michael

Michael

Brothers playing football.

Brothers playing football.

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Roasting hotdogs.

Cheyanne was the last to arrive. Her poor mom jumped on the turnpike going the wrong direction and drove for a while before discovering her mistake. Luckily she made it before anyone left.

The brothers running to greet Cheyanne.

The brothers running to greet Cheyanne.

One of my primary goals for this visit, in addition to having everyone exchange contact information was to get photos of the kids together. None of the kids have pictures of each other. Tyler’s only picture of his siblings is one that his social worker had taken from a visit at  her office years ago. It is black and white and printed on computer paper. It isn’t a good picture but since it is the only one Tyler has of his siblings it sits framed in our livingroom. My goal was to get a lot of pictures of the kids, print out copies, and put them in  photo books to send to each sibling so they all have pictures of each other.

Tyler's only picture of his siblings.

Tyler’s only picture of his siblings.

These are some of the pictures that were taken..

Michael and Cheyanne

Michael and Cheyanne

Tyler and Cheyanne

Tyler and Cheyanne

Sean watching Tyler and Cheyanne hug..

Sean watching Tyler and Cheyanne hug..

Brandon and Sean

Brandon and Sean

I wish I had the words to adequately describe the emotions, feelings and spirit of the day but words like “incredible” and “amazing” cease to do it justice. It was… holy. The emotions I felt were comparable to Tyler’s adoption day. I was humbled as I watched God work. I saw him take the broken hope, the broken hearts, and broken relationships of these children and mend them. You can’t tell me there is no such thing as miracles because I witnessed one, as real as the parting of the Red Sea, in my own yard today.

“Our God is still a God of Miracles! There is NOTHING that is impossible for Him. Whatever your need is, come lay it at His feet…reach out in faith and touch the hem of His garment.”

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Together again!

Happy Halloween!

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Molly and Gracie's booth

Molly and Gracie’s booth

This past week has been full of all sorts of fun Halloween activities..Here is a quick overview of what we have been up to…

Last Saturday the girls were hired to work a booth at a local township’s fall festival. They were asked to run the face painting booth. The girls were thrilled and then they found out that they were even going to be paid which was just icing on the cake. They began preparing a few days before the event by deciding what pictures they wanted to offer as options and then made a poster displaying the choices. The day of the fair was windy and very cold but even the blustery fall day didn’t keep people away and the girls were steadily busy for the entire two hours.

Gracie doing her thing!

Gracie doing her thing!

Monday night, for family night, we carved pumpkins. Toby brought home Little Caesar’s Pizza for dinner and we had a pizza party while we carved. It was funny to see how each of the kids approached the carving of their pumpkins. Tyler jumped in right away with no plan and just started carving, Grace and Rusty knew what they wanted to do and began by first sketching their design on the pumpkins, and Molly, who didn’t know what she wanted to do, went to the internet for ideas and inspiration.

Tyler scooping out pumpkin guts :)

Tyler scooping out pumpkin guts 🙂

Molly looking for ideas..

Molly looking for ideas..

These were their finished creations…

Tyler's jack o lantern

Tyler’s jack o lantern

Gracie's Cinderella carriage with the prince and Cinderella kissing

Gracie’s Cinderella carriage with the prince and Cinderella kissing

Molly carved a big pumpkin eating a small pumpkin.

Molly carved a big pumpkin eating a small pumpkin.

Rusty, dressed as Steve, with his creeper pumpkin.

Rusty, dressed as Steve, with his creeper pumpkin.

On Wednesday we had our co-op Halloween party. The first three hours of co-op were our typical classes but then at noon the real fun began. For lunch there were walking tacos and other treats. After lunch the kids were broken into groups and rotated through different activities that were being run by the moms. There was a Halloween craft, a photo booth, games and Halloween bingo. The kids had a lot of fun and the moms who planned the party did a great job! The party ended with the kids trick or treating to the moms and getting a sack of loot to take home.

Rusty the ninja.

Rusty the ninja.

Molly the safari guide.

Molly the safari guide.

Miss Molly

Miss Molly

Gracie went as a Pop Art.

Gracie went as a Pop Art.

Miss Gracie

Miss Gracie

Tyler the dragon.

Tyler the dragon.

Walking tacos!

Walking tacos!

Molly and two of her best buddies.

Molly and two of her best buddies.

Tyler playing the donut game :)

Tyler playing the donut game 🙂

On Thursday night we had an early dinner and then the kids got ready to go trick or treating. The kids wore the same costumes that they had worn for the co-op party except Tyler who decided to wear Rusty’s old Scooby Doo costume. It was a rainy night for trick or treating but at least it wasn’t too cold. We trick or treated for two hours and then ended the night by visiting the local gas station where they hand out goody bags to the kids and free hot cocoa. Stopping for hot cocoa is a family tradition and the kids’ favorite part of trick or treating!

Ready for trick or treating.

Ready for trick or treating.

We we got home the kids dumped out their candy on the floor where they began the fun part of splitting and bartering the goods. It was another wonderful Halloween season 🙂

Decisions..decisions...

Decisions..decisions…

Happy Halloween!

The loot!

The loot!