Our Story

Our Story
We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands.
~ Kristi Larson ~

Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone, But still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, You didn't grow under my heart - but in it!
~ Fleur Conkling Heylinger ~
Adoption is not the call to have the perfect, rosy family. It is the CALL to Give LOVE, MERCY, and PATIENCE.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Giving with a Purpose

Christmas looks a little different for us this year - to be honest it has looked a little different for the last few years!  We never went out of control and overboard - but we were content in our materialism and were awfully close to being consumed with presents and stuff and all the hub-bub of keeping up with the Jones'.  A few years ago - as we walked through our adoption story - God opened our hearts and eyes to SO very much!  He showed us that there are SO many important things to be done in the world and that it can start right here - in our family.  We want to teach our children to focus on others and that Christmas is about LOVE.  That God LOVED us enough - when we didn't earn it or deserve it - HE became flesh and dwelt among us!  Christmas is about GIVING - God GAVE His only SON that we might LIVE!  It isn't about Santa and Stockings and Presents.  All of these are fun and exciting things and still bring joy to our family - but our focus and our purpose is to GIVE LOVE!

Teaching to Give with Love Can Start Close to Home - - For the last few years our kids have gotten to shop for each other for Christmas.  They love to pick things out for each other and they also love the one on one time with Mom or Dad that comes along with the shopping part of it.  On Christmas morning the kids are so much more invested in watching what everyone else gets because they can't wait to see them open the present from them.  When our family was smaller - they got to shop for both of their siblings.....now that our family is bigger - we draw names between the kids!  They have truly enjoyed the joy of giving and the surprise and anticipation of the season.

Teaching to Give with Love Can Reach the WORLD - - This year we are implementing a new way of giving.  On top of getting to spend a certain amount on each other, the kids get to spend the same amount gifting to someone in need.  We gave them a whole bunch of ideas of how they wanted to spend their money but in the end they got to choose how to give it.  I LOVED the conversation that circulated through the kids.  I heard things like...."It is so hard to choose - I want to help them all!"  "Which one do you think is the most important, mom??"  "I want to help as many people as I can - which one will help me do that?"  "I want to give Bibles, because without Jesus they would have nothing!"  "I want to give chickens because I want another little boy to be able to eat eggs too!!!(Any guesses on who that was!?)".....I was BLOWN away by the depth of love that the kids were showing.  They took it very seriously and had awesome reasons for the choices that they ended up choosing.  We also teamed up with our parents and my brother's family to make a difference in the world this Christmas!

Here is how our family is choosing to Give Love this Christmas:
~ We are providing 1500 meals for needy people in Burundi!
~ We are providing Bibles and Song Books to Kids!
~ We are providing 3 families with baby chicks!
~ We are providing a little girl with a Musical Lamb that sings Jesus Loves Me!
~ We are helping sponsor a missions team to travel and spread the Good News!
~ We are providing 5 chickens to families in need so they can have eggs to eat!
~ We are sponsoring a teacher in Haiti!
~ We are providing 650 vaccinations for children in rural villages!

Here are the organizations that helped us give love this year!
~ Child Care Ministries http://www.childcareministries.org/
~ Mission Aviation Fellowship https://maf.org/donate/giving-catalog/2013/all#.UqNxD_RDsuc
~ Samaritan's Purse http://www.samaritanspurse.org/gift-catalog/give/
* There are SO many great organizations out there - - these are just a few that we used!

Our family is learning to love through giving!  I hope you take time this Christmas season to think about what Christmas is all about and how you can make a difference this Christmas!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Precious Memories

I have been thinking a lot lately about this time of year - the leaves falling and the weather getting colder.  I have been reflecting on how different our lives looked this time last year - just barely having brought our boys home.  There were lots of precious times - and lots of hard times!  Looking back it is hard to believe how far we have come - with growing, and grieving, and becoming family!!  I am in awe how God orchestrated it all!

 I think my most favorite thing about this time of year - for this year - are the memories that the boys have!  I hear them say "Remember last year...." and "Oh yeah - I remember...." and "When we do that this year...."  I LOVE that they have a memory to draw from with holidays coming up and all the hustle and bustle that it brings.  To those outside of the adoption community - holidays are a nightmare for transitioning kiddos.  They truly do need structure and routine and calm and people and things around them that they are comfortable with and used to!  You take the holidays - on the go, out of routine, over-stimulating, with people and things around them that they are not used to.  They stress easily over things that they are unsure of....the holidays are a big mystery to kiddos from a different culture.  We had lots of meltdowns, shutdowns, tears, and stress over the holidays last year!

This year - the kids are looking forward to what is to come with hopeful anticipation!  They have a reference point in their memory of what to expect - sweet precious memories that help them feel connected.  We still deal with issues of the hustle and bustle and the over-stimulating behaviors that can come.....but OH MY - - we are SO much better off this year!

I LOVE my 'not so little family' and all that God has and is doing in and through us!  I am so proud of my children and the young people they are growing into!  I am excited to share this holiday season with kids excited about life, thankful for what they have, and grateful for the baby in the manger!  Can't wait for more PRECIOUS MEMORIES to be made this year!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Twins NO more!

With International adoption, a child's age is usually a little fuzzy.  With Ethiopia in general, birthdays are a little vague.  We know several families who realized once they got home that their children were actually older or younger than their paperwork stated.  With older child adoption you have to teach your children how old they are and when their birthday is - the birthday that someone at a desk picked for them at random.

When we got the boys home we had pretty good evidence that Isaiah's birth date was fairly accurate.  It became pretty apparent in those first few months, however, that Nahome's was not.  We had some pretty solid evidence pointing at a much younger age than his paperwork said.  Documentation that is hard to deny, when put up against some person sitting at a desk taking a shoot in the dark as to how old and when his birthday should be.  So we decided to see if we could use this evidence to move his birth date to a more appropriate age for him - developmentally, physically, maturity - it just made sense.

So - I'm writing to tell you that we received signed documentation from the judge that Nahome's new birth date has been approved.  The evidence led us to July and we chose the 7th day of the month - we liked that his birth date would be 7-7....God's number!  The kicker is that this change makes him five once again - instead of almost 7!  When we talked with Nahome about it he was a little confused....but once we told him he got to have FUN summer birthdays and he is the only kid probably anywhere that gets to have TWO six-year old birthday parties he was all smiles and giggles!!

So - we no longer have TWINS in the family - just a brother and sister who have grown so very close over the last year!  I am thankful for them and the joy they find in the little things of life!

Happy GOTCHA DAY - Bizuayehu ISAIAH!!

It seems like just yesterday that we fell in love with Isaiah in Ethiopia, but this last week we hit our ONE YEAR HOME mark!!!  A year ago I wrote THIS!  I was giddy with anticipation for our unexpected blessing to finally make it home and for our family to be together - on the same continent!  Josh traveled to Ethiopia alone and picked up Isaiah one year ago.  This year, on his gotcha day, Josh and Isaiah were spending some time together up hunting!  It has been a year full of blessings as Isaiah has joined our family and everyone has gotten used to the new normal!  I cannot believe how far we have come and cannot imagine my life without Isaiah in our family!  He seemed so quiet and timid when we first met him...

He quickly became part of the family!

He started his new adventure on his first airplane ride!

Isaiah has grown so much this year!  He is 3 1/2 inches taller and 16 pounds heavier than the scrawny little boy that walked into our lives a year ago!  His English is amazing and he has made HUGE gains in school!  We are so blessed by him and his heart for others!  We have had a lot of fun this last year....here are some pics to show the joy that he brings to our lives!

He made lifelong friends so very quickly!

He had a blast learning and participating in sports for the first time!

We spent a lot of time outdoors this summer!

Blessed beyond measure to be the family that God led us to be!!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Crazy Busy - Every Day Life

It used to be so easy to sit and write - maybe it was the fact that I only had 3 kids and now I have 5....maybe it was the fact that I was in the waiting and yearning to connect with anyone who would listen....maybe it was the fact that blogging kept my emotions in check and it truly was my therapy.  Now that we have our crazy busy life with five kids - I often think that I should blog.  I am always stuck with the same dilemma - what do I write about??  For almost two years along our adoption journey it was easy to pour my heart out in the wait.  To give updates and prayer requests.  But now - our life is just Crazy Busy Every Day Life.  Nothing special - nothing miraculous - it just is.  I always want my blogging to have a message or to touch someone somewhere - so I'm going to do my best to update you all about our crazy busy every day life while trying to share with you about what I have learned along the way.

* I have learned that parenting FIVE kids is CRAZY!  Lots of people say that after three it really isn't that hard to add more.  Well, I have to tell you that it has been a journey this last year getting used to all the adding - adding up more groceries, more laundry, more homework, more ER visits - it IS CRAZY!  But we've also got to add up more hugs, more giggles, more memories!

* I have learned that when you have FIVE kids - there will ALWAYS be someone MAD about something!  They may be ticked at you, another sibling, or just ticked at life in general!  And guess what - IT IS OKAY!!!!  It is NOT my job as mom to make everyone feel all warm and cozy inside all the time!  It is my job to raise up a few young men and a sweet little girl who can work through problems, who have conflict/resolution skills, who can handle disappointments, and who know what consequences for their actions feel like.

* I have learned that having FIVE kids is EXHAUSTING!  There is not a day that goes by that I feel energized at the end of the day - most days I am truly and deeply exhausted!  Some days it is just physical - and others it is emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually!  Being a mom is no easy feat and it is not for the faint of heart.  Don't get me wrong - it is ENTIRELY worth it - but it is exhausting!

* I have learned that parenting kids from Hard Places is Hard Stuff!  I have shed tears for and with broken little boys who do not know why or how life turned out the way it has.  I have been told hurtful things - emotions directed my way because that is the only way they know how to deal with the loss.  I have learned to hear the grief and hurt and not to take it to heart.  I have learned to show love and grace in the midst of the storm.

* I have learned that with heartache comes healing!  I have watched all FIVE of my children struggle to find their place in our family over this last year.  I have watched all five of them grieve how life used to be.  We walked through crazy months of bickering and fist fights - through tears and deep sighs.  As everyone found their place and God worked in our family, I got to watch my children discover new best friends.  I got to watch brothers bonding with brothers and littles giggling and playing!  I am amazed at the unity in my kids these days and I am reminded of how far we have come - and I'm thankful!

* I have learned that I am nothing on my own!  It takes a team to parent FIVE kiddos and I am SO very thankful for my husband!  Beyond that - I am SO very thankful for a loving Father who walks with me daily and gives me patience and love for those around me!  It is easy to get caught up in the day to day Crazy Busy Every Day life  - to try to lead and control and take care of things myself.  It is about this time that I fall flat on my face and God is always there to help me back up...reminding me that I am NOTHING apart from Him.

~ I have learned a lot over the last year as we have started our lives as a Family of SEVEN!  The biggest thing that I think I have learned is that life is not a destination...it is a journey!  There is NO ARRIVING....just carrying on!  And on THIS journey - the one we are CHOOSING to follow - we KNOW who is LEADING....we are THANKFUL for HIS leading!  We may be CRAZY BUSY in our Every Day Life but we will continue to FOLLOW HIS STEPS....will you?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy GOTCHA Day Nahome - One Year HOME!!

A year ago tonight I wrote this POST!!  It was a whirlwind of a day as we picked up Nahome from the orphanage, presented ourselves to the US embassy and finalized our adoption of him, met with Nahome's mom, reunited with Isaiah, and returned to our guest house with little man in hand to begin getting our lives together!  It feels like FOREVER ago since we walked through that door to our room with an overwhelmed and unsure little boy!

He was So little and fragile...but full of spunk and life!

His whole world was changing!

Our honeymoon period lasted only a couple days until the scared little boy made it known!  Those many families who were in Ethiopia probably remember the screaming and yelling resonating through the guest house and every restaurant that we went to.  A few days in as I held him on the steps of yet another restaurant as he cried and I cried as he threw another fit - screaming with his every being that he didn't understand what was happening to him - why his world was changing - and fearing what was to come - I rocked him and cried hoping to take the fear and uncertainty away!  The hard days only lasted about three weeks after getting home - they were HARD and TRYING but necessary for his healing - and after talking with LOTS of other adoptive mama's it was short lived!  Three weeks.....twenty-one days....of hard....of grieving....in the realm of eternity...in the scope of his lifetime....it was a blink of an eye!  Adoption is hard and messy - but SO worth it!  Adopting older kids can be scary and frightening of what trauma they will come with - - but it is oh SO worth it!
(Still cannot get over how little he was!)

Nahome has grown leaps and bounds - in mind and in spirit, in body and in heart!  He has gained EIGHT pounds and grown FIVE inches since arriving home one year ago!  He has grown two pant sizes and grown into a big boy bike!  His smile has developed from an unsure giggle to a true and heart felt joy.  He is love and joy and we are blessed and thankful to have spent the last year with him!  We look forward to SO many more years looking ahead!  Love you little man!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

~~The PLAN~~

For anyone that knows me, you know I am a control freak and a planner!  I like to have a plan so I know what is coming - so I can brace myself.  The unknown scares me - even with little things.  When I was growing up I had to know where we were going on vacation and not just the overall theme of the trip.  I NEEDED to know where we were stopping for lunch, how long we were staying there, when we would arrive, if the hotel had a pool, what kind of breakfast they served - the ridiculous list goes on and on.  In not so funny tones - my sweet angelic Jarod has the same OBNOXIOUS need for planning and knowledge of what is to come!  I have been driving him INSANE all summer planning day trips and not telling him where we are going.  I remind him that he doesn't need to worry about it - to trust me - to not stress - that everything will be okay and work out even if he cannot see what is to come!  Mind you this only works and I only find pleasure in it because I am the one that DOES know the plan....if my husband tried this on me I would be one UNHAPPY mama!

Does this need for control - stressed beyond measure of the unknown sound familiar??  If this hits close to home you are the one nodding your head while you are reading this....you are the one that can feel your chest tighten just thinking about someone trying to surprise you with a trip somewhere that you didn't know all the ins and outs of....you understand why I put the words "NEEDED to know" in all caps above!  If you struggle with this let me tell you a little secret - there IS a cure!!

The cure is exactly what I told Jarod all summer.....I remind him that he doesn't need to worry about it - to trust me - to not stress - that everything will be okay and work out even if he cannot see what is to come!  The cure comes from the One who DOES know what is to come - the One who loves us enough to surprise us even when we don't like the unknown - the One who wants us to trust Him and not stress - the One who wants us to believe that everything will be okay.  Now this may be easy for our minds to grasp.  We have been told our entire faith journey to trust in God and lean on Him, to not worry or fret because God is in control.  But to put it into action is another story, to tell your heart and mind and soul that God really is the plan.

For me the truth came through action and obedience during our adoption journey.  God stretched me and molded me into his liking and I am so thankful that He did.  It was NOT easy and still is not - but it is worth it.  When I got married I had a one year plan - and then a five year plan - and then a ten year plan.  When I had kids I had a 3 kid plan - and then a new sister plan - and then God had plans for brothers!  When we bought our house I never planned their would be SO many new additions to the fam - chickens, kittens, goats, and kids(the baby goat kind)!  When I started teaching I had a plan to settle in and now I'm in my 6th year teaching and my 6th grade level/curriculum change!  I think I might be DONE planning....

The thing I am beginning to realize is that I can plan all I want - but GOD will do what is best for us in the end no matter what the initial plan was!  You see sometimes our plans line up with God's but often His plan pushes us beyond what our plan is for ourselves!  It is our job to trust in His guidance even when we cannot see what is ahead.  So, what's the plan???

Many people, including my daughter, have asked us when we are going to jump back into the crazy adoption world and get that sister that started us down this whole crazy journey.  Well - to be honest - the plan WAS a TWO year plan!  Two years from bringing the boys home we would start the journey to add a little more pink around here.  We are almost ONE year in and I can honestly tell you that there is NO plan!  We trust that God will lead and guide our family if and when it is HIS time!  My hubby talks about what he thinks we should look into next time for our daughter (country, age, etc.)  I just smile and shake my head - our silly planning - remember what God did last time!!  We were requesting a little sister for Leah and she got two older brothers out of the deal!  God will do whatever He sees fit - which could be scary...but worth it!  SO - our plan is to enjoy our family while God continues to work in and through us!  We trust that God's plan is all that we need - even when we cannot see it!

I had lots of plan for the kids and I over the summer and I can tell you that we have had some of the BEST times just hanging out and enjoying being together!  It has been busy and crazy but it has been refreshing to my soul to get to know each of my kids on a deeper level!  I LOVE spending time with them and it has been neat to watch them grow and develop into children who are willing to follow God's plan for their lives.  Feeling blessed to walk this journey...

"We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps."
~ Proverbs 16:9 ~

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's Our Life...

I will be the first to admit that our life is crazy!  When you ask me how we are I try to be as honest as possible - I will often say we are "Good...busy" or maybe "Busy...tired".  I get a LOT of comments on how crazy we are and how people don't know how we do it!  People with awe in their voice tell me they admire me for what our life entails and say often that they couldn't do it.  BUT there is nothing miraculous about what we do - there is no recipe to success or magic App on the smart phone that helps us be in 3 places at once or an extra patience pill to help us through the hard days.  The reality is that when people say they don't know how we do it they are absolutely right - I don't know how we do it either!  I don't know how we did Indoor soccer, basketball, wrestling, outdoor soccer, and baseball for FIVE kids ALL within the last SIX months!  I don't know how we got the kids bathed, clothed, fed, and to school with homework in hand among our crazy schedule of extracurricular activities.  I am still not sure how we make it through the day without someone killing someone else - we've had a few attempts but at the end of the day we always seem to come out united.  I'm not sure how I keep my sanity when we are in the ER every other week with some new injury.  I am not sure how we have enough strength and energy in a day to guide and direct our children to make choices that they are proud of.  The only explanation I have is that we are not in charge (THANK GOODNESS) but GOD walks and guides and directs us each and every step.

I don't know HOW we do it - but you know what - I do know WHY we do it!  When people tell me they couldn't do it I don't believe them - I don't believe them because they WOULD do it.  They are your kids - you love them and care for them - you help guide them and protect them - you lose your temper with them and you model grace - you cheer for them on the sidelines and help them with their math.  You talk deep with them and you admire them for who they are becoming.  You play with them and belly laugh with them.  You teach them the fine art of camping and smore making!  Our life gets crazy because we have FIVE blessings to consume our lives but it does not make us heroic - it just makes us that much more blessed!

A year ago this week we were in Ethiopia meeting our boys for the first time.  It was our first time all together as a family of seven.  We have had a lot of amazing times this year but we have had a lot of hard times too!  There are days full of sunshine and happiness and there are days full of heartache and tears - and you know what - that is OKAY!  Everyone is still getting used to what family looks like and how OUR family dynamic works.  Everyone is still working on finding their place and where they belong.  The amazing thing is that they DO all belong!  They are OURS - all FIVE of them - and our life is more crazy because of it but It's OUR Life and we wouldn't have it any other way!

I hope when people look at my family they see our love for our kids.  I hope they see a family striving to love God and His people.  I hope when people see us they can see through the crazy to our hearts and lives - all of us walking hand-in-hand, side-by-side to grow and love together!  I hope people can see "what we are and what our hearts beat for!"

This is OUR LIFE and the World is WATCHING!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Love of a Mother

It is true what they say - you do not really know the deep and sensational love a mother has for her child until you have held your baby in your arms for the first time or felt them grow inside you as your belly grew beyond repair.  I remember the first time I felt Jarod kick and knew in that instant I would never be the same again.  I was sunk - falling deeply and madly in love with a little precious face that I had yet to lay eyes on.  I read about the sacrifice that God gave us when he gave us His only son - I got it in my head but never really grasped the depth in my heart.  I vividly remember watching The Passion of the Christ the Easter after Jarod was born - I was moved and heart broken.  I couldn't get the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach to go away - I was captivated not by Jesus or the disciples or the procession to the tomb - I was captivated by Mary!!  I watched Mary follow him through the city with tears in her eyes - she knew this day was coming from the very first time she felt him squirm inside of her - I wept as she mopped up his blood with rags when he had been beaten - I wept when she remembered back to when he was little and he fell and she ran to him and held him tight.  I didn't really get it - until you become a mother I don't think you do.

Three kids down and I thought I was becoming pretty good at this mom thing.  They stole my heart and I would do anything for them.  As we started down the adoption journey, I wondered where my kids were and what would bring them down the broken path of grief and loss that they would have to endure.  My heart was sunk - falling deeply and madly for a precious face that I had yet to lay eyes on.  The whole first year we were expecting to bring home a little girl and I wrote this blog post entry called Mama's Arms.  I had no idea that my prayers would be answered.  I prayed that my child would know the love of a mama!  That they would know what it felt like to be held and comforted - to feel their mama's heartbeat when she held them close.  I am SO very thankful that my boys both have mothers that LOVE them dearly!  They know how to love and be loved because of these amazing women.  Yet again - I came across another situation that you cannot prepare for - a heartache that you can try to rationalize in your head but can never fully understand the depth in your heart.  The heartache of a mother saying goodbye - the giving of her son to another - looking upon their faces for the last time.  I vividly remember the tears that streamed down my face when we had to say goodbye to the boys after our first trip to Ethiopia - Nahome was sobbing and Isaiah was close.  My heart was broken - even though I knew we'd be back within a few short weeks.  I remember even more vividly holding the hand of a young woman with tears streaming down both of our faces as she said goodbye to our son (now hers and mine)  for the last time - I remember vividly the pictures of tear stained faces as another mama held on to our son (now hers and mine) and tried to reassure him that she loved him and that it would all be okay.  It is an ache that never goes away....that will never be forgotten...

This past weekend was Mother's Day and I awoke with a lump in my throat and a sensitive heart.  I knew these women would be on my mind but I did not expect to be as emotional as I was. The craziness of our house played out as usual - the kids got up early and banged pots and pans around making me breakfast in bed - they traipsed into my room like a Thanksgiving Day parade with homemade cards and crafts they had made at school.  They smiled down at me with their toothy grins and twinkling eyes just soaking it all in.  They watched intently as I opened each and every card - full of anticipation of when I got to theirs.  With each card that I read the lump in my throat grew bigger and my heart began to ache for the mamas of our family who were not here - who were not getting breakfast in bed - or cut out crafts - or toothy grins and sticky kisses.  Each card spoke to my heart - not for myself but for her...

" If Moms were berries...I'd pick you."

"Happy Mother's Day - your the best mom."

"I thank God you are my mom."

"A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take."

...I think in a world that wasn't broken my boys would have picked to stay with the Mom they were meant to be with - the best mom for them - the one that wiped their first tear and calmed them when they were scared - I think in that world they would thank God for the mama who taught them how to pray and who cut their first curls.  And it is true - there is no one that can replace a mother's love.

I am thankful that my boys are home and safe and in my life - but not a day goes by that I don't think of the mamas on the other side of the world that will no longer get to look into Nahome's big brown eyes or gaze upon Isaiah's beaming smile.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about all that they are missing out on and wish so desperately that they could get a glimpse of the joy that comes from knowing my boys!  Not a day goes by that I don't pray for their safety and happiness - that they would be happy and joyful and above all else that we would get to see them again!  That my boys would be able to look into their eyes and hold them just as they once did.  I pray MORE THAN ANYTHING that these women would know LOVE - not a love that can be found on this world - but that they would know God's LOVE!  I pray one day to walk hand in hand with these women as we finish the race of this life and walk before our Savior in heaven!  I am thankful for all they have taught our boys and feel blessed to be carrying on for them - I feel that the baton has been passed and it is my job to guide and lead these boys for a while....with God's love and guidance.

We started a new Mother's Day tradition this year to honor and remember ALL of the mamas in our family. Another adoptive mama in my life had an amazing idea to plant a flower in honor of the birth moms that have become a part of our hearts.  The Calla Lilly is the national flower of Ethiopia and is absolutely beautiful.  So - we decided each year on Mother's Day we will have the boys help pick out and plant a Calla Lilly - we will pray for their moms and think of them whenever we see the beautiful blossoms.  Our lives are crazy busy so it took us a couple days after Mother's Day to get it planted and it wasn't quite the surreal experience that I had pictured in my mind - but they are beautiful - just like the mamas in our hearts!

"Children born to another mother call me 'Mom'.
The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me."
~ Jody Landers ~

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Moment Our Lives Were Changed....

Do you have those moments in your past that you didn't even know were coming?  You didn't count down the hours or mark off the days on the calendar?  You didn't know to be excited and anxious!  You simply woke up and went about your every day life, minding your own business, comfortable and content with where you were in life.  Then it happens - unexpected and unforeseen - a moment in time that will change your life forever!  Two YEARS ago today was this day - - it was a Sunday - - a day we were enjoying as a sweet and complete (Or so we thought) family living the American dream.  Three chips off the ole' block, the jobs we had always dreamed of, cute little house with a picket fence, and two dogs to round out the deal!  We were comfortable with our five year plans and our expectations for the future!  Then it happened - God broke through - - He was working on my husband for close to 18 months - - preparing him and nudging his heart!  Two years ago while I made dinner for my family my jaw hit the floor when my husband told me he thought we should look into adopting a little girl!  Sure we had talked about adopting - if we couldn't have kids - or if all we had were boys(LOL) - but now???  When everything was so set...and easy....and comfortable!?

I kicked and fought God for a few days but it did not take long for Him to change my heart from fear of the unknown to Passion and Expectancy for children I had never met - children I never even knew I needed!  My heart went from comfortable and content to passionate and hurting - our eyes were opened to a need...a world...that we never really knew existed before!  Sure, you see the commercials and you may even send a shoebox at Christmas...but we never really SAW the reality...the reality is we didn't want to see...we didn't want to see OUR PART in it all because it is scary and forces you to stand up and not just move idly along in our complacent lives.  My heart started aching for the least of these - God started molding and shaping us to trust Him in ALL aspects of our lives!  We went from telling GOD what we were willing to accept to accepting that GOD was in CONTROL!  We went from putting limits on God to telling God we were ALL IN - NO MATTER what that looked like!

The thing about following God and choosing to be ALL IN is that there is no going back!  The commercials of starving children become a reality when you meet them on the streets in a third world country and see the glimmer of hope in their eyes that has almost gone away.  When the kids with no shoes have a name and a favorite color!  There is no taking that passion back once God takes you down that road!  It is hard to sit at our all you can eat buffets surrounded by excess when the children that now call you "Mama" were once struggling to find food - in the not so distant past!

Our lives have changed over the last TWO years - our hearts have changed - our family has changed - our ideas and passions have changed - and we are SO VERY THANKFUL!  What good is being comfortable and content when there is SO much that God has to show you!?  What good is needing to be in control when you are missing out on the blessings that GOD has planned for you if you'd only be willing to be broken for His kingdom and trust in HIM to lead the way!?

Throughout our adoption our motto became "ALL IN - No matter what that looks like!"  Our expectations changed from what was safe and easy to what GOD had planned - knowing it probably wouldn't be safe or easy!  We realized as we went along if we made a prayerful decision and felt God leading us that was enough!  If it seemed insane and crazy and scary then it was probably where He was leading us!

We also learned that GOD loves us and knows that I am a detailed person!  He knew I would need confirmation and affirmation that He was in this!  I LOVED watching God work in our lives and work out ALL the details.  One of my most favorite things to do is look back and see how God cared about the LITTLE THINGS!  There were so many little things along the way that we can see God's hand and how He tied it all together - confirming that these boys were meant for our family!  Today - TWO years ago our lives changed without even expecting it.....TODAY - ONE year ago our lives also changed without EVER expecting it!!!  One year from first having that talk in the kitchen - trusting God enough and allowing Him to take us on this crazy ride - I looked into the eyes of my SON for the first time!!  I didn't know he was my son at the time - but GOD did!  I didn't know how he would change our lives - but GOD did!  I didn't know that MANY other families saw the same sweet face and wondered if he would be theirs!  I didn't know that the ache in my gut and the pounding of my heart would not go away until we got the call letting us know that he was ours!  He was NOT what we were expecting - but he was EXACTLY what God knew we needed!

Looking back I am SO thankful GOD used this sweet little boy - half a world away - to show us what it means to love....to have compassion....to have joy....to laugh....to see a glimpse into the world that God wants us to see....to see a glimpse into our role in it all - if we are only willing to get out of our own way!  SO thankful GOD is continuing to use this sweet little boy to teach us and show us more of His Heart!

If you want to read more about our adoption story and the journey our family has taken over the last two years you should read...

Where we started - HERE
Choosing to be ALL IN - HERE
About that day ONE year ago - HERE
How God is in the Details - HERE
How God used One little boy to Bring Another into our Hearts - HERE

~ With God's Love and Blessings ~
Krohn Family of Seven (and counting...)

Friday, March 22, 2013


I have not purposefully been neglecting all of you who follow our blog - I have FIVE kids you know and we have been SUPER busy!  I am going to do my best to fill you in on where we have been over the last month or so!!!

Back in February we kicked off BIRTHDAY SEASON!!!  Around here - four of the five kiddos' birthdays fall within 8 Weeks of each other...and the fifth one is only a couple months later!!

NOAH starts us out on FEBRUARY 9th!!!  He turned EIGHT this year and we got to celebrate up in the mountains with Family!  Noah is the life of the party and such a joy and blessing to be around!  He gets along with everyone and has such a sincere heart!

NAHOME was next with his birthday on FEBRUARY 21st!!!  He turned SIX this year and we got to enjoy celebrating with Nahome for his VERY FIRST BIRTHDAY!!!  Ethiopia doesn't celebrate birthdays or even really know when exactly they are.  We started the day with EGGS which he loves - followed it up after school with some yummy Ethiopian food  - and ended the day with a cake made by his big brothers!!!  There were plenty of presents involved too!!  I love this little boy and still can't believe we get the privilege of having his as our son!!!  Can't imagine my world without him!

Just a few short weeks later it was LEAH's turn!!!  On MARCH 16th she also turned SIX!!!!  Her brothers were very kind to share their colds with her so she spent the day with a fever!  We pumped her full of meds and spent the day at her brothers basketball and soccer games!!  We celebrated with family for lunch where she got to open her presents and blow out her candles!  She is such a sweetheart and I am thankful for her everyday!  She is the only girl I know who can hold her own with FOUR big brothers!!

Apart from birthdays we have been CRAZY BUSY with extracurricular activities for the older boys!!  For a while there we were in it SIX DAYS A WEEK!!!  Here is a RECAP!

Jarod and Isaiah completed their Hunter's Ed course and are officially hunting ready!!!  We are waiting a few short weeks for Jarod's birthday so they can both go get their licenses together!!  Daddy has been waiting for this day to come ever since he found out he was going to be a daddy! I think it was a pretty close tie between who was more excited about it - the boys or Dad!

Jarod started the winter out playing some Basketball and he rocked it!  Being a head taller than anyone and already wearing a size 9 shoe doesn't hurt the situation any!!  He is really starting to develop his skills and this basketball mama can't wait to watch him through the years ahead!

Isaiah was asked by Jarod's basketball coach to become an honorary member of the team!  He enjoyed hanging out with them all at practices and Jarod was excited to have him play with them for a couple games at the end of the season!  Isaiah scored 3 baskets during their last game of the season and he was SO incredibly excited!!

Isaiah and Noah decided to try out wrestling this year!  Neither of them had ever done it - with the exception of the living room of course - and they both picked it up fairly quickly!  Noah usually wins most of his meets and Isaiah has been rockin' it - I think he has only lost one and tied one - he has won all of the rest!  They are both having a lot of fun!

Not that our lives weren't busy enough with all the FUN activities above - then a couple weeks ago SOCCER started!!  All three of the big boys are playing!  Noah was excited to get back on the field - he played indoor soccer last year and loved it!!  Isaiah was SOOOOOO incredibly excited to play SOCCER and has been dreaming about playing on his own official team for years!!!  Jarod is along for the ride and is having a lot of fun learning the skills of the game!  They had their first games this week - - Jarod and Noah both scored 2 goals and Isaiah had a couple shots!  Fun Times!!

Life has been busy but I wouldn't have it any other way!!  I LOVE getting the opportunity to be mama to FIVE amazing kids and watching their joy as they experience life!!!  We are just starting our Spring Break, which is sure to have lots of FUN and probably not much of a BREAK!!  Can't imagine my life any other way!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Heartache to Hugs

Today is Valentine's Day....I spent my day loving on my kiddos, giving sloppy kisses, and reassuring "I Love You's".  They ate too much candy and got silly little cards of all shapes and sizes.  One year ago today, however, I vividly remember sulking through my day with an ache in the pit of my stomach.  Valentine's day has never been a super big deal for our family - we love each other every day!!!  Last year as this commercialism-filled day came and went my heart ACHED for my child that I had never met who was SO very far away!  I didn't know who God had planned for our family, but He did!  I wondered and worried all day where they were and if anyone was around to tell them they were loved.  Were they safe?  I remember praying that God would send someone into their lives to give them a hug and make them smile.  A mama's wish on Valentine's day!

As God unveiled our children to us, it became apparent why my heart ACHED for my kiddos last year on Valentine's Day!  Five days before Valentine's Day, Isaiah made his way to our agency's transition home to begin getting his paperwork ready to be adopted.  He thought when he got there he would be going home with a family right away.  After a few days he realized that he was in for a wait.  Then five short days later, on VALENTINE'S Day, Nahome made his way to our agency's home.  My boys were surrounded by new people and new faces.  They didn't ask to be there and didn't know how long they would stay.  After meeting our agency's staff when we were in Ethiopia, I can rest assured that someone gave my boys hugs last Valentine's Day.  I can rest assured that God knew what he was doing as I cried myself to sleep yearning for my kids!  I can rest assured that God brought my boys together to love on each other months before they became brothers.  I LOVE how God takes care of the details!

It is AMAZING how far they have come in a YEAR...

This Valentine's Day I got to give the hugs and tell my FIVE blessings how loved they are!  I also got to receive the hugs and have my heart filled to overflowing!  This is what Valentine's Day is all about!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


You can read all the books and prepare all you want but the day it actually happens can take you off guard.  They tell you people will look at you funny, that they will question your motives, that they will wonder why everyone in your family doesn't look like a cookie cutter image of you.  Our sweet little mixed family has stumped checkers at Walmart - you can see the mind reeling trying to figure out two five year olds, both calling me "Mommy", one with beautiful chocolate skin and one with flaming red curls!  Sweet little old ladies smile and tell me how beautiful my family is.

Others look questioningly, wondering why you would ever....adopt....become a biracial family....bring older kids into your home...you name it!  As I discussed Martin Luther King Jr. Day with my students last week I became very aware of how far our country has come.  The progress in equality and love for all people.  Society has come a long way - but the reality is there are still people who don't get it.  There are people who can't see past status...or circumstance...or skin...or birthplace...you name it!

The reality is that my family is different - we don't all look the same - we weren't all born in the same country or by the same people - we don't all have the same childhoods or memories!  The reality is that I am thankful for my amazing family - I have learned more from being a mother to FIVE very different blessings than I could have every imagined!  The reality is there are people that think stupid things - and will sometimes say them - direct them - at my family!  The reality is that the only opinion that matters is the One that created each and every one of us - in HIS IMAGE - that is what we have in common!!!!

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Weight of Responsibility

It starts out as a simple wish...a need to fill the ticking clock of motherhood...the desire to hold a piece of you in your arms...a yearning to love something more than you have every loved anyone else!!!  If you were like me, this simple wish QUICKLY progressed from a flutter in my heart to a positive on a pee stick...just six weeks after we tied the knot!  It was all dreamy in my simple (19 year old) mind!!!  It stays dreamy folks until about your third trimester when it hits you like a TON of bricks!!  You are having a BABY....like another life form that is solely relying on you...that you are responsible for...to bathe and feed and raise into a decent member of society!!  Then comes the whirlwind of infancy and all the sleepless nights that come with it.  There are no real deep thoughts going on - let's be serious - there is too much sleep deprivation and poo to think much beyond getting through the day (and don't forget the endless NIGHTs).  Well, if you were like me (I keep saying that but I'm pretty sure no one was as crazy as us - 3 kiddos by the time I was 24 - what were we thinking!!)...the sleep deprivation faded and the dream of another blissful baby takes over and before you know it you have gotten pregnant every other summer since being married and now have THREE beautiful spring blessings to be responsible for!!

I remember feeling overwhelmed at the responsibility of it all...the money....the clothes....the food....the diapers....the lack of sleep....the drool on my shoulder...a tantrum out in public....nap schedules....you mama's of littles know EXACTLY what I am talking about!

As I have watched my children (and family) grow over the last couple of years I am overwhelmed at how the responsibility of being Mom to these little blessings has shifted!  I have been in awe of who my children are and who they are becoming.  It has been so amazing to watch my kids grow into their own and get to know their hearts and desires.  But to be honest - the responsibility that comes with raising older kids scares the daylights out of me!  The worries that I had when my kids were little seems so carefree compared to the weight of raising young people....there is so much less control (I don't do well with giving up my control)!!!  The responsibility has shifted from taking care of their every need....to guiding them to take care of themselves (when did this happen??)!!!  It consists of watching your children walk through hard times and not being able to fix it...it consists of watching them interact in the world and hoping they will stay true to themselves....it consists of molding and guiding them to do what is right!  At some point it dawns on you that beyond all else - your children are becoming young people who will get to choose for themselves - they get to choose their friends, their career, their spouse, their beliefs....your say in things dwindles and you pray with all of your heart they get it!  You pray that they will get that we love them and want what's best for them....that they will get that GOD loves them and life is only life with HIM in it....you pray that they will love and respect others....you pray that you have shown them what it means to be a loving spouse and parent....you pray that they want to get it!

OKAY - some of you may think I'm getting ahead of myself (my kids aren't heading off to college anytime soon or anything)!!  Watching my kids begin to take more responsibility of themselves....slowly beginning to give over the reigns....watching as they begin to make choices for themselves....it has been eye opening and terrifying!  It has brought me to my knees more than once over the last few months!  Pleading for the souls of my children - realizing that I no longer will have control (realizing that I never have)....fallen broken before my Father knowing that this is exactly how He feels with us!  My heart hurts thinking about all that I want for my children - I cannot imagine what our Heavenly Father feels watching us live our lives on our standards, our agenda!  I pray daily for my growing children - that I would be the Mom they need me to be.  Knowing that this season of our lives is fleeting and will be gone before we know it - I pray daily that I will pour into my children...not just live life with them....but show them how to really live and WHO to really live for!  I am a miserable failure on my own - that has been proven over and over again!  I am reminded daily as I look into my children's eyes that I cannot do this on my own - I never was meant to.  I am reminded that my children are TOO important to just wing it and hope for the best...I NEED my redeeming Savior to walk with me....to walk with them....to help me show them HIS love!  We were never meant to carry the weight of responsibility on our own - it is with HIS grace that I give over my control and my worry and PRAY so very deeply that HE will watch over and keep my children!  That HE will guide them and protect them...that HE will show them what it means to truly live!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 - A year to REMEMBER

This is by far the FULLEST year we have ever had!!!  SO many memories and life changing experiences...SO many firsts and heart breaking-eye opening encounters with GOD!!  Here is my attempt at recapping our year!!

* STILL WAITING on our REFERRAL for a little SISTER!
* Passports for the Kids arrived after we decided to take them with us to AFRICA!!

* NOAH bug turned SEVEN!!!  Love HIM and his joy he brings!! We celebrated with a trip to the Aquarium!

* Nahome turned FIVE - even though we didn't even know him yet, GOD KNEW!
* BOTH of our boys made the trip from their orphanages to our agencies Transition Home to begin the paperwork process to be adopted.

* LEAH turned FIVE!!!  Such a sweetie among the chaos of brothers!!  We went to the Zoo and the Art Museum to Celebrate!

* God turned our world upside down and showed us HIS plan - We signed our REFERRAL!!!

* For a sweet little BOY whose eyes and smile stole our hearts!!

*JAROD turned NINE!!!  Can hardly believe my baby is growing into such a young man!  We went to Wahooz to celebrate!!

* We anxiously awaited our paperwork to be ready so we could travel to Ethiopia and meet our new little man!!
* We celebrated Easter for the last time as a family of FIVE!

~ MAY ~
* We celebrated our 10 year ANNIVERSARY...cannot believe it has been that long since we said "I DO"!!!  It was an anniversary to remember as we flew out ON our ANNIVERSARY on our adventure to meet our son!

* We became WORLD travelers - FOUR of us for the first time traveling Internationally!!
* We met our precious NAHOME and spent time together as a family of SIX!

~ June ~
* We PASSED court in ETHIOPIA officially making NAHOME our son!!
* We had to say goodbye to NAHOME...one of the hardest things we have ever done!

* God planted a seed in our hearts for another young man in need of a family!
* Bizuayehu didn't know it, and neither did we...but he had a birthday and turned 10!!

~ JULY ~
* We put on a 5K race to raise $$ to finish up the adoption!  We were blessed by all the friends and family who came out and supported us!

* GOD once again surprised us with HIS plan when HE threw open the doors and brought us another REFERRAL!!!  The boy who stole our heart with his love and kindness and his sweet smile!

* The day finally came....Mommy and Daddy headed across the ocean to go pick up Nahome (for good this time) and spend some more time with our newest member of the family, Bizuayehu!

~ AUGUST (It was a BUSY one!) ~
* GOTCHA DAY - We picked Nahome up and presented ourselves before the US Embassy in Ethiopia and made our adoption FINAL!!

* We flew to Nahome's birth city and visited his orphanage.  We spent time praying with and crying with Nahome's birth mom - a young woman so full of love for her son - a young woman who will forever be a part of our hearts!

* We were REUNITED with BOTH of our BOYS!!

* Bizuayehu chose "Isaiah" as his new American name!
* We were overjoyed to bring Nahome back with us, but once again had to say goodbye to one of our sons and leave him halfway around the world (Yet again, one of the hardest things we have ever done!)
* We passed court making Bizuayehu "Isaiah" Krohn officially our son!!

* Nahome arrived home and became a US Citizen!

* The rest of the kids started school (Leah - kindergarten, Noah - 2nd grade, and Jarod - 4th grade) while Mom, Dad and Nahome spent some time at home adjusting to our new life!

* Mommy and Daddy BOTH had birthdays!
* We went camping - NAHOME's first ever Camping Trip!

* Mommy and Nahome started school!

* We decided to BUY our FIRST HOME!!

* A world away, Isaiah saw his mom for the last time and said tearful goodbyes!  I wish we could have been there to wipe away his tears and meet the woman who raised such an amazing young man!  Another woman who will forever be a part of our family and will hold a special place in our hearts!

* The time was finally HERE....Daddy headed to ETHIOPIA to bring Isaiah home!!!
* Isaiah became a US Citizen and we were finally a family of SEVEN - and all in the same COUNTRY!

* Isaiah learned how to ride a bike (his first day home) and he started school!

* We took the kids to the ZOO - - both of the boys' first times in a zoo!

* We introduced the boys to the SUGAR RUSH that we American's call Halloween!

* We FINALLY closed on our new house and got the KEYS!!!

* We were extra thankful this THANKSGIVING...our first as a FAMILY of SEVEN!

* We celebrated CHRISTMAS with all the holiday traditions...

Decorating of Trees

Christmas Programs GALORE


And of COURSE some stockings and PRESENTS to go with it...

We started our year changed - on a journey to grow our family through God's grace and love!  We started the year as a family of five with hopes and aspirations of what the year would bring!  We started the year with a picture in our minds and hearts of what was to come!!  GOD sure surprised us along the way and FAR SURPASSED the blessings that we thought we would encounter in 2012!!  We started the year in a 3 bedroom house with 3 kiddos to fill it.....we end the year in a FIVE bedroom home with FIVE little blessings that fill our HEARTS to overflowing!!!  2012 will be a HARD year to TOP...but we serve a BIG God and HE is NOT done with us yet!!!  Stay tuned to see what CRAZY adventure HE has planned for us in 2013!!!

From our FAMILY to YOURS....May GOD bless you beyond measure and may HE grow your heart to LOVE HIM more!!  May HE take you OUT of your COMFORT zone to the place HE has planned for YOU!!  Trust Me - IT IS SO WORTH IT!