Thursday, November 15, 2012

God's Story in my son Daniel's Life

This month, as I have been driving my three oldest back and forth to driver's education classes, I couldn't help but marvel at the work God has done in my oldest son's life. I remember so clearly the day he came home to us, I remember the days he left and then returned again. I remember the look in the psychologists eyes when he gave us what he believed was Daniel's future prognosis. I also remember the day the truth of Christ became real to him, and he made him Lord of his life. Each day, week, month, and year that has passed with him has been a miracle and a gift that God has given me to be a part of it.
That day no so long ago that Daniel came to us, as a frightened three year old, changed my life forever. He was dirty and scared. I remember bringing him into the house, and like every good foster mom, immediately giving him a bath and checking him for lice. As I spoke gently to this timid little boy, whom I was told spoke only Spanish, I could see the fear in his eyes. I spoke to him in my broken Spanish, and hoped it offered him comfort. As soon as the bath was over, I of course, offered him something to eat. He did not trust me, but fear of what might happen if he didn't eat made him pick up the snack and eat. After finishing the snack he placed himself in the corner of our small living room. He remained there the rest of the day, until we placed him in bed. The next day he spent the day again in that corner, day after day he stayed there. As he stood in that corner, he watched as we interacted around him. The children, TylerAnn (3), and Rachel (1), Adam (a special needs foster child who had been in our family for a couple years), and Lydia (Daniel's baby sister)played around him and even stopped to talk to him and try and included him. I cleaned and cared for the home and children, and would stop and talk and smile to him. I knew from being around foster children all my life, it was better to give him his time and space. Eventually, hoping he would start to feel safe and trusting. Finally after weeks, he started to interact with the girls and come out of the corner a little at a time. Once in a while, a light would show in his eyes and every so often something would make him smile and you would see the cutest dimple in his cheek. But then everything changed.
A strange thing happened the day we took Daniel and Lydia into our family. It was always our goal as foster parents to help parents and children reunite. We wanted to build up families. So we never planned to adopt the foster children we took into our homes. But, the day we took Daniel and Lydia into our home was different. When I got the call to take them in something deep inside me said, “make a life-time commitment to these two.” This was really weird and even more strange was I felt like accepting the placement even though I couldn't get a hold of Jeremy to ask him. Jeremy finally arrived home from work that evening, and the first words out of his mouth were, “where are the kids?” I looked at him with a look that said, “how did you know?” He said, “God told me we would get some kids today, and that we are to make a lifetime commitment to them.” As you can imagine, I was floored. To this day, I praise God for giving us such a clear word, because what happened next could have been so different for their future if God hadn't given us that word.
The court decided Daniel and Lydia should be moved to a fluent Spanish speaking home. Both their parents spoke Spanish as their primary language, and it was assumed that Daniel also spoke Spanish. Normally, in a situation like this we would send the children on with our love and prayers, and move on to the next children that God sent our way. But, for some strange reason, I felt I needed to tell the caseworker that when they needed to come back to us we would be ready for them. We got lots of calls for other children, but God said to hold the spot. After a couple months we receive a call, Daniel and Lydia need to be moved. This foster home abused and neglected them and the damage was evident. Daniel returns to his corner in the living room. We start all over.
Slowly, he begins to trust again. He begins to play with Tyler and Rachel again. Often, though when I am not looking the children near him are getting hurt, mysteriously. There isn't just fear in him now, there is anger too. He doesn't talk still, and it is clear he doesn't know Spanish or English at all. When people do speak to him in Spanish he becomes anxious and upset. We decided to not use Spanish at all, and ask all our friends and family to not speak to him in Spanish. Of course, as he goes for regular visits with his parents and relatives each week, he has a great deal of anxiety, and after each visit day, is a day of standing in the corner.
Then we get another call from the case worker. An aunt and uncle have requested to take the children in. So, Daniel and Lydia will be moved again the next day. I agree to take them to the aunt. I tell the aunt that if she needs any help with them at all she can call. I tell the caseworker when they need a home for them to call. A couple months pass, and I give birth to a baby boy, Brenden. Then the call comes, the aunt can't care for them any longer. Their needs are just too much for her to handle. My heart breaks for this aunt, because I can see she really wanted to care for these precious ones, and felt like a failure. But, she had three little ones of her own and they lived in a small apartment in a bad neighborhood. So, she was stuck inside with them all day, everyday. Lydia crying all day and all night, and Daniel standing in the corner scared. It was more than she could do. So, the Daniel and Lydia return to us again.
Visits with mom and dad continue often as well as visits with other extended family. These cause Daniel great anxiety and fear. Daniel's step dad (Lydia’s father) was very abusive man. He had been beating Daniel and his mom for all of Daniel's life. When Lydia was born he began beating her the very first day she was home from the hospital. But, when he would go to far with the abuse and the doctor was needed, Daniel was blamed for the broken bones that Lydia had. Daniel was told by these parents to tell the doctors and nurses that he hurt the baby. So, even though Daniel couldn't talk he did understand that according to his parents he was a “bad” boy that hurt babies. Yet, at the same time, these same parents told him at the end of each visit that he was responsible for his sister and to take care of her. He was very confused.
The parents make an astounding confession of all the abuse done to both Daniel and Lydia. This confession is done in an attempt to show the judge that they were sorry. But, instead of showing regret the dad made statements that made it clear that he believed it was his right and duty as a father to beat his wife and children. The judge finally makes the decision to terminate the parents rights. Daniel and Lydia are made wards of the state of Michigan. Daniel is now five years old. He still doesn't really talk much. He still spends lots of time in the corner. He still shows anger, distrust, fear, and anxiety. We take him to a therapist. After the first couple of sessions with Daniel, the therapist tells us that Daniel suffers from Post traumatic stress syndrome, reactive attachment disorder, and neurological damage. She suggests we go to a genetics doctor and have an MRI done. The look in that therapists eyes will always be forever in my mind. It was a look that said, you have a hopeless situation . We decide that to put Daniel through such tests and appointments would be terrifying to him. Hospitals scared him, due to the fact that that is where Lydia was always taken and that is where he was taken from his family and put into care. So, instead of taking the therapists advice we decided to trust God and just give Daniel all the love and security we could.
Unfortunately another aunt and uncle come into the picture, and want be considered for adoption. Daniel and Lydia have never met these relatives, but visits are started and they start seeing these strangers. The aunt requests to meet me, and writes me a long letter with lots of questions about the children. I hesitate to meet her, by this point my heart couldn't take anymore pain or loss for these kids. I ask my mom to go and meet the aunt for me, and to take a letter I wrote to her. In this letter, I encourage the aunt if she is seriously interested in giving Daniel and Lydia a good home to go online and research, post traumatic stress syndrome, shaken baby syndrome (Lydia), and reactive attachment disorder. I am not really sure what changed in the aunts mind, but after that visit they never saw the children or asked about them again. So, finally after three years we adopt Daniel and Lydia.
Daniel is six years old, and he is talking but not nearly at the level of the typical six year old. He teaches himself how to ride a bike in the backyard. He continues to hurt the other children, especially when no one is looking. We begin school work. It is clear that there is some kind of learning problem. But, we press on.
Daniel begins to trust us, the light returns to his eyes, the dimple comes out more and more. But, there are some serious communication problems, and development problems. But, we decided to just keep working with him and bonding with him. Finally, when he is twelve years old, we decided to have him see a psychologist and get the tests that were recommended when he was little. When we meet with the psychologist for the results of the tests, we are very nervous. We wonder if Daniel is going to be able to learn right and wrong, we wonder if Daniel is going to be able to be independent someday. We wonder if he is truly bonded and connected to us. So, we are so excited at the first words from the doctor, “Daniel is not depressed and he is bonded to his family.” We are thrilled. But, then the rest of the diagnosis comes. “Daniel has a genetic languages based learning disorder with additional neurological damage and autistic tendencies,” says the doctor. The doctor goes on to explain to us that the half of the brain that process communication of any kind is dull in Daniel and doesn't work. He goes on to say that this is probably common in his biological family, but that Daniels case is extreme (I realize that this is probably true of his biological mom too). In addition to this he has serious neurological damage probably due to neglect in the early years of life. Lastly, he let's us know that he doesn't want to label him with autism, but there are definitely signs of it. We are not sure what to make of all this. We are definitely impressed with the thoroughness of the testing, because they asked us very few questions but did get the results from working with Daniel that we knew were accurate. The positive information he gives us is that most people with Daniel disorder don't talk or read at all. The doctor actually asked us how we worked with Daniel, since he did talk and read. We of course knew it was a God thing. The doctor explained that Daniel probably only takes in 10% of what he hears, reads, and sees. This explained a lot. We now realized Daniel wasn't being defiant but truly did not understand what we were asking of him at times. We asked the doctor our big question,”Do you think Daniel can live independently someday?” I love the answer the doctor gave. He said he truly didn't know because Daniel had already exceeded the expectations given to someone with his diagnosis. He then encouraged me to continue to develop his communication skills, he said it would truly be a miracle if he could work up to a junior high level of reading and communication. The doctor suggested testing Daniel every couple of years to see how he is doing.
Well, it wasn't long after that first evaluation that it became evident that yes, Daniel is autistic. He has asperger's. If you have ever talked to Daniel for more than a minute, you can probably tell what his obsession is. Yep, Christian Rock Music. But, it hasn't always been Christian rock music. When he was in middle school he went through a short phase of being obsessed with the Presidents. But, then he became completely obsessed with sex and porn, and we were scared of what this meant for him and our families future. When we talked with the doctors and experts they said that once someone with asperger's has an obsession there is nothing you can do about it. I just didn't think that was true, and I remember him being obsessed with the presidents. I prayed about it and decided to get him help to deal with his confusion about sex (it was obvious he had been sexually abused, and that someone had mislead him). I also decided to help him find a healthy interest. So, I started buying him different things. Cars, models, tools, puzzles, music, games, dinosaurs, etc. Then one day it became clear he liked music. So, we started encouraging that interest. At the same time, we helped him work through his confusion about sex. We talked openly about it, and he admitted he didn't like how it controlled him, and it scared him. To help him feel safe, we put an alarm on his bedroom door at night, we locked him out of the computer, and we never let him go anywhere without his mom or dad. We did this for two years (it was difficult, but so worth the effort). During this time, he also went to therapy with a wonderful counselor. Over time his obsession did change completely to Christian Rock music. But, it wasn't til after he accepted Jesus as his personal savior that God helped release him from the bondage of sexual sin. That day will forever be in my mind too.
It was Good Friday, and I asked each of my children one on one to tell me what Good Friday meant to them. Daniel slowly explained in his unique way of conversing that Jesus died for his sins and then rose again to prove he was God. He told the complete story to me, I looked at him and asked him, “Do you believe that?” He said,”Yes.” So I asked him why he never asked Jesus to forgive his sins and be his savior. He didn't know. I said do you want to do that right now. He said yes, and we prayed right there. I have never had an experience like that before or since. But right as we prayed something heavy was lifted from that room and from Daniel. He and I both felt it. From that day forward, Daniel is truly a changed person.
He still struggles to connect and communicate with others. But, he is truly a miracle of God's Work. He is seventeen now, and last week he took his drives education exam and got the second highest score in his class (sister Rachel had the highest, and TylerAnn came in third after Daniel). I don't know what the future holds for him, but I am excited to see what God does. If you ever talk to Daniel I promise he will give you one of his bright eyed, dimpled grins that will make your week. God is good!

Links to learn more:

Daniel 10:12
Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them." (NIV)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly assignment sheet

Ok, so I had plans to write this really great blog today. But, since I did not get that done, I will share with you what I did get done.  In an effort to help my children that can't remember their weekly assignments even when I have them write them down, I put together a sheet for the next school week for them.  I thought I would share it here.  People ask me about our day, and our school studies, and it is hard to explain.  So, this may help a little.  This brief outline does not included a lot of the little kids activities, but it gives a list of the focus points for the week.  Please feel free to post questions and share it with others.  I will try and post a follow up, after the week is over of how it went with this little asignment sheet.

Week 3, October 22, 2012

Bible reading:

Duet. 9-12
Book of Joel
Psalms 23-33
Matt 8-10
1 Peter 1-3
read orally to elementary student at breakfast, upper grade students read on own and journal

Historical Focus and Biblical teaching:

Deuteronomy Study with Beth Moore ls. One Law of Love
(read ls. One article on pg. 6-11)
Wednesday evening as a family

dig in deep into Duet. during your independent Bible time.
(create maps and charts using internet, concordance, etc.)
independent work

Memory Focus:

Introduce Deuteronomy 6:1-9 during morning worship
(copy it in full into your binder and draw a picture or write a journal about it)
(Elem. Students copy verse 1 only and draw a picture)

Copy Work Focus:

Psalms 14-22
(take your time, do your best to get it in, but do not push too fast that you make mistakes)
copy time is from 9-10 am and 11 to noon, elementary students work with mom during this time

Focus on punctuation and capitalization. Remember it is poetry and therefore, doesn't always follow the regular punctuation and capitalization rules. Take time to read it out loud to yourself, and try and make it flow like poetry. Maybe read it to each other, pointing out to one another how to make it sound like poetry.
Independent work

Science Focus:

read lesson four of Zoology book 1: Flying creatures of the fifth day.
Independent work
Watch Moody Classics: Dust or Destiny
together in evening
(make notes in binder)

Missionary Focus:

Kisses from Katie read chapter 8
together at dinner
(do research on Uganda, map it, find out about it's population, look for recent articles about it in the news.)
Independent work

Math Focus:

Rounding, Basic Number Properties, and Number Baes intro.
Taught by Rachel afternoon Wed., Thurs., and Fri.

Music study:

HSMA Monday nights
private lessons Tues afternoon
practice time in afternoon daily

Additional Studies:

Hebrew: daily mom and Tyler 1 pm

Bible w/ dad study of Isaiah 53 Tues and Thurs. evenings

family Work out (P.E.) Tues and Thur evenings with Rachel

Independent work outs as assigned by Rachel

Good News Club prep and practice prep on Monday, practice on Tues,. Do on Weds afternoons

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jehovah Jirah (God my provider)

Today I heard this story of Elijah and how God was his provider.

 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” And the word of the LORD came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
 Then the word of the LORD came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.

(1 Kings 17:1-16 ESV)

I have heard this story many times and it is one of my favorites.  I was always amazed at how God provided daily oil and flour for Elijah, the widow, and her son for over three years.  But, today, I really focused on the fact that God provided for Elijah one day at a time.  This is a lesson the Lord has really been trying to teach me.  Last school year our family verse was:

Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This verse follows a list of things that we as humans tend to worry about.  Things like where we live, what we will eat, and what we will wear.  As a rule, I am not a worrier, but this past year moving to PA and then back to MI there were many times that I was distressed and struggled to place my trust  in the Lord.  Of course, the Lord was ever faithful to me.  If you have read my previous posts about our move to Pa and our time there you know God has been good to us, even when I didn't place my complete trust in Him.
Well, as we returned to MI this time, I wanted to not worry and to trust God to provide us a home.  So, I decided to only look at one day at a time.  To really trust Him for that day, and any future days he had for me.  I wasn't really sure how that should look.  I mean, I knew I wasn't going to find a new home unless I looked for one.  But, I also didn't want to push my own plans in finding a home.  So, we started getting the word out that we were looking for a place, and we started looking here and there and everywhere.  Doors started opening for us.  We looked at a handful of houses and none of them were quite a match, but as time went on we wondered if we would find a place that would be a good match.  Last week we looked at several houses, and each of them was a home we could make work.  But this one was a little small, and that one was a little pricey, and this one was a little far to drive, and so on.  But, we decided maybe we are going to have to settle for something.  We had four houses in the works and none of them was exactly what we wanted, but all of them would have worked. 
So, Friday I was waiting for call backs on them all, and I was praying and thinking and wondering which house it would be.  I just didn't feel like any of them was the right one because I had this feeling that we were going to rent from someone who needed a renter just as much as we need to rent (a similar situation to that which we found ourselves in in PA).  I also kept having this feeling that our rent was going to be lower than we budgeted for.  So, as I am praying and thinking I get an email from Jeremy.  He just happened to check to see if there was any new listings on Craigslist (there had not been anything new in days).  It was about noon, and there was a new posting at 11 of a house in Dansville  (perfectly located for us).  It looked perfect and the price a lot lower than we had seen for anything we looked at.  I called and immediately I knew that this was the one, and I could tell that the woman on the phone felt it too.  I got of the phone and called Jeremy and before the day was over we both knew, and the owners also knew that we had been blessed by God to find each other.  The owners needed to rent their home out right away, the last tenants had moved out and they needed to cover their expenses.  We of course, needed a place right away.  By Saturday morning we signed a contracted and got keys.  I have been laughing and giddy all day (if you know me I am not a laughy, giggle person).  But, I am just so amazed at God  and His timing. 
He has everything planned for us, and if we can trust him one day at a time He will give us the peace and joy that only comes from Him.  Today, God not only provided a home for us to live in here, but he also provided a great family ministry for us.  The kids and I are going to be doing Good News Club once a week as an after school program.  We are so excited to see God provided for us, and also for CEF and the children we will serve.
So, we are back Michigan and so excited to see what Jehovah-Jirah has for each day ahead.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Journey On

When the Israelites had been freed from their bondage in Egypt, and after wandering in the desert for forty years, it was time for God to take them into a new promised land. But, in those forty years of wandering in the dessert, the elders all died and the young who had lived their whole lives in the dessert were the ones left to go on this journey into the promised land. Moses spoke to Joshua, their new leader, and gave him all the instructions from the Lord for his chosen people. Because you see Moses couldn't go into the land with them. No, only the new generation would enter this new land. I can only imagine that these young men and woman must have had some uneasiness about what was ahead for them. They must have wondered how life would be once they stepped out in their journey to possess the promised land. I am sure they thought it was a wonderful blessing to be led by God, but I am also sure many had doubts and fears.
But God told them to be strong, courageous, and not discouraged or afraid because he would be with them wherever they went. As I reread this story, I was encouraged in my journey. This past year the Lord went with us to Pennsylvania and he remained their with us. Then after Jeremy resigned his position and we waited to see what the Lord had for us next, I wondered many things. Would he take us back to Decatur, IN to be near Jeremy's family? Would he move us to a whole new place to be apart of new opportunities? Would he take us back to Michigan, and would it be in the same area? Or would there be an opportunity for us to remain in Lancaster, PA? As we prayed, planned, and waited to see what was ahead. I became anxious and unsure. I became angry and discouraged. I became overwhelmed by it all. Then finally we had an answer. Jeremy would have his old job back in Jackson, MI. Jeremy said he was glad to go back, Jeremy seemed relieved and even excited. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be encouraging, I wanted to be submissive and supportive. But I WASN'T. I was mad, I was disappointed, I was selfish. Why? Because the whole time we were in Lancaster, even though life was very hard, I felt like we as a family had a vision and goal. The weeks were long and hard, often I was home with the kids Monday through Saturday with no other people ever visiting or connecting with us. But, we grew during these times, and Sunday's would dawn with great encouragement from the church people. Everyone at the church that I would come into contact with each week, in some way or another encouraged me. Even the children and the worship team singers would encourage me each week. So, why was I mad? I felt like everything I had been going through this last year was over. All the work the kids and I had done would be for nothing. I felt like the support I had from the church was being ripped away from me, just when we as a family were really starting to connect. I felt scared.
Why scared? Scared that if we would go back to Michigan, I would just fall back into our old habits. Could we take what we had learned from our time in Lancaster and apply it to our lives in Michigan? Would we be able to find a place to rent again? Would we just go back to the same life we were living before we left Michigan? I like this new confident husband. I like the leader he had become. I like the lifestyle in Lancaster. I liked that more people in our community lived a simple, conservative life. I liked not feeling like an odd ball.
Those Israelites must have felt like real odd balls, as they walked around the walls of Jericho. They must have wanted to trust God with all their hearts and want to step out in faith. And they did. They did as their leader, Joshua instructed them. They had to trust Joshua, and the way they did that was by trusting that their God to speak to Joshua. So, like those Israelites. I found myself in a place where I had to trust my husband, even when I wasn't sure, even when my feelings said differently. I found the only way I too could place my trust in my husband, my leader, was to place my full trust in God.
So, like the Israelites, who returned to their forefathers promised land, I know have returned to my homeland (so to speak). The Israelites where completely changed from their time in Egypt and the dessert. I too am completely changed from my time away.
So, even though I don't feel excited and overjoyed about my return. I do know that the Lord is in control and he leads us forward. I am not sure where exactly he has for us to call home yet. But, I know he will show Jeremy the best place for our family to continue to grow and serve the Lord with all our hearts, soul, and strength.
Today, as we look at a rental home in a new town. I trust God will make it clear if there is a place for us to serve and minister and grow here. I trust even if we make the wrong choice, God will do what he always does for those he loves. He will bring glory to himself and good to our lives. So, we journey on.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

footnote:  you can read this story in the Bible the book of Joshua.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A year of Growth

Many of our friends and family have been praying for us and I thought today would be a good day to share how your prayers are being answered. To some of our close friends and family the information in this blog will be a surprise (no it is not a baby or an adoption).

A year ago this month our family made the move from Lansing, Michigan to beautiful Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This was not a move that came out of the blue. No, for a couple years God had been working on our family preparing us for a change. We knew he was getting us ready for a big change, and we waited and anticipated it. An opportunity came for Jeremy to apply for a leadership position in the company he worked for, Alro Steel. He figured even if he didn't get the position that it would give him an opportunity to hear from those above him what he needed to do to prepare for such a role in the company. It was a long shot for him to get such a position. But, God had other plans and Jer was offered the job. We saw God clearly directing our path to move to Pennsylvania. So, we moved out in faith. God made an awesome thing happen in providing us with a home and a wonderful church family all in the same week. Jeremy had come to Pennsylvania to start his job and to find us a home. Each Sunday he would attend a different church to see if he could find a church family for us. Week after week he didn’t find us a home or a church. Then one Sunday he felt called to look across the river (he had been looking in York, where he works). So, he found a church online and liked the preaching he heard (a message by Pastor Jerry), and decided to try it out. He felt a peace right away and called me afterward to tell me he thought he found a church family. The very next day, he received a call from the pastor and they talked about our housing need. The pastor knew of an elder who need to rent out his home, and asked if he could give Jeremy's number to him, in a matter of minutes the elder called and made plans for looking at the house and the next thing you know we are moving in.

What a beautiful story right. Well, here is where the story takes a turn. Jeremy resigned from his position and has asked to be given an opportunity to stay with the company in a different role. For those of you who didn't know this, sorry for the shock. What does this mean? Well, this year has been the most difficult, amazing, challenging, awesome, maturing, bonding, maddening, joyous, frustrating, and miraculous in our nineteen years of marriage. So, I'll start at the beginning. When Jeremy decided to apply for the position of plant superintendent. We both new that it would be a major commitment, especially at first. We knew that this being a new plant it would take time, energy, and God for Jeremy to come in and bring in the Alro company mentality. He knew he would have to do a lot of traing, and give a ton of training to others. He knew he would need to be gone often. I knew it too. But, we prayed and sought God and felt it would be worth it. One reason being that Jer knew once he got his plant running the Alro way it would allow him a little more flexibility in the long run. So we made a one year commitment of him giving his full time and attention to the company. This was huge, because Jeremy's always been a keep work at work and home at home kind of guy. But, I was excited for him and he was excited to see how God would use him and grow him in this situation.

So, we went into it committed together. Thank God he gave us the wisdom to make that plan or I am not sure our marriage would have survived it. When the kids and I arrived in PA. I was suffering from baby blues (I had just given birth to baby Anna), and all the moving prep had put my back out again. So, I was feeling pretty poorly. To make matters worse the kids (who are very friendly and outgoing) couldn't find any friends or neighbors to connect with. We were all quickly becoming discouraged, but wanting to be an encouragement to Jeremy when he was able to be home. The problem was we never knew when he would be home.

He was working at least twelve hours a day six days a week. Sometimes working days and sometimes working nights. He was working to get the shop in order and to train others, and to learn his role. He was leaning hard on the Lord and learning to trust in Him in ways he never had to in the past. Jer has been blessed with the ability to learn quickly and to apply what he has learned effectively. Often in past jobs he has excelled with little effort. This was not the case in this new position. He love the challenge, he loved the need to depend on God, he loved growing and maturing in new areas. It was a whole new season of life, he had never experienced before. But, even though he loved it, he hated the sacrifice of his time with his family. He knew his first calling was to raise kids for God's kingdom. He didn't like that he never saw them, or me. But, he pressed on.

At the same time, the kids and I started a new school year in a state with home school laws. This was overwhelming to me. So, instead of first seeking the Lord and his plan (and not wanting to bother Jer) I made my own plans. This plan was lots of school curriculum and books that we hadn't used in the past. This plan was a complete failure. So, as the fall term started coming to an end I started praying and seeking Godly counsel from Jer and others. God called me back to the basics.

In all these trying times one amazing thing was going on. God was everywhere. The kids were seeking God on their own. The church (New Song Fellowship) was so full of great teaching and Godly wisdom from the pulpit, classes, children's programs, teen programs, small group, and evangelists (Jimmy DeYoung played a huge role in our decision to go back to the Bible basics), and retreats (both marriage and youth). In the absence of my home school peers from Michigan, I began seeking new peers. An unexpected thing happened in that I found those new peers online, not here in PA. These peers became huge influences in our families life. God was surrounding us and he was taking us on a journey that leads straight to him.

About six months into this new job, Jeremy starts praying and reading his Bible like he never has before. It is a change that holds him steady through the rough days at work. As he seeks God's will for him in his whole life, work, community, family, church, etc. He continues to hear the same message over and over. It is time for you to lead your family. You need to be a good manager of your home. You need to learn from this job situation that without good leadership there is no true success. True success is being completely in the will of the Lord. Even though he hears this message he isn't sure how God wants him to apply it. So, he continues to seek the Lord, work the long hours, and try and manage his home too.

I am amazed at him. I am so proud of all the hard work he is putting in and the desire he has to make sure he stays connected to me. We talk, we pray, we struggle, we press on.

We fall in love with New Song Fellowship, we start to love Lancaster and see ourselves and the kids staying long term. The kids start making friends and finding ministries to serve in. We begin making plans to get more involved.

Then Jeremy starts coming home exhausted and defeated. He starts realizing he can't on his own bring the Alro way to this plant, and he isn't sure he knows what to do to be an encouragement to his boss, his co-workers, and his employees. But, he get's excited to head off to a leadership training. He had continued to seek the Lord for direction, and had been spending extra time specifically asking God to show him what to do about his job situation. When he arrived at the leadership training he instantly began to be encouraged. He was reminded that he worked for a good company, and that they wanted to have their employees be successful. One of the speakers continued to say that it was alro's desire that their employees succeed and especially those in leadership. He went on to say that a true leader recognized the season of life he is in and adjusted to it. Furthermore, he said that alro didn't want their leaders to stay in a position that wasn't working for that season of life they were in. That they wanted to hear from their employees and help them succeed. Jer heard those words and a peace came over him. He went from that training and began praying fervently that God would give him the words to say and let the company know he needed to step down from his position. He called me on his drive home, and I began praying with him. After he got him, we prayed together. There was a peace that we knew was from God. Jer would let them know he wanted to step down, but stay with the company. We knew that in this decision he could be let go and/or we would have to move again. We knew that he could not stay in this plant if they accepted his resignation. Jer gave his notice that very week, serving his superiors a letter of intent. The Lord went before him, and the letter was accepted and the men spoke words of praise over him. They asked that he continue in his current position and not tell others what was going on while they sought his replacement and an opportunity for him in the company. This was on May 20th. Since that time we have had many trials as we wait for the company to make the next move.

Jeremy's job continues to demand a great deal from him, and this past month his grandmother (in Indiana) suffered a serious stroke that ended in taking her home to the Lord after a month of struggle. These along with other family life struggles continue to press on us, but we continue to place our trust in the Lord.

During this year God has been ever faithfully drawing us to himself, and growing us together as husband and wife, and as a family. Today, we were given the news that in two weeks they will be presenting Jeremy with an opportunity. And now to the reason for this lengthy blog. We need your prayers to continue.

Here are our requests:

Pray with us that:

Jeremy can continue to work in his continued position for as long as God needs him to, and that he will work to bring God alone glory.

When Alro makes their offer Jer will know without a doubt if he should take it.

If it is time for Jeremy to walk away from Alro, that there will be a clear direction that we should go in, and that God's peace would abound.

When it does come time to move (we know that no matter what this time in PA is over, it the one thing we both agree on) that it we will know where, that we will find housing, and that the kids will be able to make a smooth transition.

Praise God with us:

That he gave us this year, it has been so exciting and wonderful to see God in the lives of the people here. This area is so rich with God's presence and we are so glad to have experienced it.

Perseverance really does bring growth.

These verses have been our strength this year. We hope they will encourage you too.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

“(1)Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2)through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (3)Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; (4)perseverance, character; and character, hope. (5)And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” – Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

(22)Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. (23)Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. (24)Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! (25)Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (26)Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
(27)“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (28)If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! (29)And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. (30)For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. (31)But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. – Luke 12:22-31 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Mother's love that never ends

Additions made on 7/20/12

Got the call this morning that Jeremy's grandma finally went from this earth into the eternal presence of the Lord.  It has been a rough couple of weeks following her stroke, as her family has gently and lovingly cared for her.  Since we live so far away it has been hard for Jeremy and I to not be there to share in this tough time.  We are so grateful that we were able to go and take all the kids to visit her just at the right time.  Those first couple of days after the stroke she was able to communicate and respond to others.  It was a blessing to be able to go during those days, and be able to talk with her.  In the days to follow she began to slowly slip away.  It was so hard for us to get the reports each day of how she was doing.  But, as we recieved each report it helped us take time and remember her as she was.  Here are some of my memories of her.

I remember the first time I went to her house to celebrate Thanksgiving (when Jeremy and I were dating).  She had a full house of all her grandchildren and it was full of fun and silliness. I remember her scolding the boys not to make a mess in the basement like they had the year before, and them all laughing and joking about how gross it was (she just shook her head, in that way grandma's do her eyes saying boys will be boys).   I remember being amazed at how much work she did each holiday meal to make it special for her family.
I remember the many hours she spent helping to prepare for my wedding.  The gorgeous flower arrangements she made with love for us.  I remember the wonderful baby shower she held when our first born was expected.  Many other family celebrations she helped plan and prepare for.  She loved to be surrounded by her family.  Each of her children and grandchildren held a special place in her heart.  She knew each and everyone by name.  It always cracked me up when grandpa would mess up one of the kids names, she would correct him with that "oh Norm" voice she used only with him. 
I remember her trying to teach me to be crafty.  She invited me over and let me make a mess of the ornaments she was painting for Christmas.  She and grandpa every year made a special Christmas gift for every family.
I remember, most, the quiet one on one talks at the lake place.  It was during those visits that I could see not only her love for her family, but her love for God and others.  She liked to hear what was going on in my life and knew how to listen.  She often shared her own opinions on issues during these visits, but always in love.  She had wisdom to share and often encouraged me in whatever was going on in my life at the time. 
One of the things I will never forget about grandma is that no matter where we lived she made a point to come visit my home.  When we went to Iowa, she not only came to visit, but actually helped us move there.  Once we got there she helped set up and decorate the house.   Again when we moved to Michigan she made the trip to come to our house.  Then when we moved again to Pennsylvania she and grandpa made the long trip out.  This spoke words of love to me in so many ways.  
Another beautiful thing about this woman was her love for all her grandchildren, no matter how they came to join the family.  It did not matter if a child was born into the family or adopted into the family, in her eyes they were all the same and she poured her love on them all the same.
That last visit we had with her in the hospital will forever be in my memory of special times.  Even though she had suffered great damage to her brain, she fought with all her might to connect with each and every visitor that came into the room to see her.  I sat at the side of her bed as many visitors came and went.  As each one spoke to her, she fought to respond to them with love.  Especially the young great grandchildren.  As each person would speak to her and hold her hand, she would struggle to open her eyes and speak a word of love to them.  Even in her slurred speech you could her her love and encouragment as she said things just for them.  Young, Tanner, came to her and she told him what a special boy he was, such a great little ball player.  When my own girls came to her, she asked them to sing to her one more time, and told them what beautiful voices they had.  When my Daniel, my cook, came in, she talked to him about cooking a meal.  It went on and on for each of those who came in to see her, she had a word of love for them to comfort them in her time of suffering. 
The greatest testimony of her life is the love that her family poured back on her in those last days.  As soon as each of her loved ones heard she was in the hospital it was a regular flow of visitors to see her.  The outpouring of love for her was evident when we came to see her, as many other family members also came and went.  When it came time to move her home, there was no shortage of volunteers to stay with her and grandpa.  This love that her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have for her, is the same love that she gave to them returned back.  What a testimony of her life to have so many who cared for her in thos last days.
Her husband, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even one little great-great grandchild will miss her greatly.  As well, as many other extended family members and friends.  I hope that when the day the Lord calls me home, I will be remembered with so much love by so many.

Wanted to share a cute story about grandma shared from two of her grandson's point of view.  This is a story told from Matt DeRoo and Michael Wenger.

It was the night we always "pent the night" so after school we headed over to grandma's house.  On our way there we spotted some girls playing outside, and being boys we asked grandma if we could go out and play on the street over from her house.  Grandma said we could.  Well, we had been out a short time and the next thing we see grandma out taking a walk.  We asked her what she was doing, and she said, " Oh just taking a little walk."  We continued to play and then we saw grandma riding down the street on her bike.  We asked her what she was doing, and she said, "Oh just taking a bike ride."  Well, we kept playing and it started getting dark.  What do you know we see grandma coming down the road in the car.  This time she say,"she's just taking a drive,"  and we get in the car. 

The way these two men told the actual story was much funnier and cuter.  But, I wanted to add it here, just to show a side of grandma that I didn't share before. Since I didn't grow up knowing her as a child.  She was just that kind of woman she loved and protected the people and animals in her life.

If you would like to read more about Jeremy's family and grandparents, click here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Child like faith that leads to salvation

So I have been thinking on salvation as a young child? You know when a child between the ages of 3-8 prays and asks Jesus into their heart. I was one of those kind of kids. I remember at a young age asking my dad to pray with me so I could have Jesus in my heart. To be honest, I don't remember exactly how old I was or what I prayed that night. I do remember it was during revival services at the mission school where my parents worked. I know that I probably prayed about being a sinner and wanting Jesus to save me, but that is about all I can recall. Like myself, most of my children too have prayed similar prayers in these young years. Prayers of simple child like faith. Are these true prayers of salvation?

My question is since we as people can't truly understand in our human minds the concepts of relationships, death, and sacrifice until we have matured in our minds (which starts happening at puberty), can we truly understand salvation and the need for it? As I grew and developed into a young lady, I remember another time in my spiritual life when I felt called to make a commitment to God. This was at church camp when I was thirteen. This commitment wasn't just a desire to have Jesus be my savior and be able to go to heaven someday. No this was a new decision. A decision to serve and love the Lord with all of myself. This decision was made with more mental awareness of what Jesus had truly done for me, and with the understanding that I could truly have a personal relationship with God.

So, was I saved as a little girl when I prayed with my daddy, or was salvation really gained later when I truly understood the message of the Gospel?

As I have watched my own children go through this same process of praying the simple children's prayer of faith for salvation, and then later struggling through to find their own personal understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for them, I have wondered about this salvation assurance that is preached. Recently, I have watched my son Brenden go through this process. I can tell you about the day he prayed and asked Jesus into his heart as a little boy. But in the last year or so I have watched him as he has struggles to come to terms with what he truly believes about Jesus, God and the Bible. He is thirteen and going through those normal identity issues that all teens go through. He has to question and ponder whether he believes what his parents have taught him, or if there may be a different truth. It has truly been a joy to watch this process in him. He is like his father, and is a quiet thinker. He doesn't feel the need to shout out the answers and talk through everything. Instead, he quietly listens and learns, and watches and studies. In the last couple of months, I could see that it was all starting to line up in his heart and mind. That the TRUTH of God's Word was revealing itself to him and then it happened. At just the right time, he heard the call to make a commitment to the Lord and he stood and made that choice to make GOD the Lord of His life.

So, now was he truly saved as a little boy when he prayed that simple prayer of faith, or was it not until he wrestled through his Faith that he was saved.

Well, here is my thoughts. I believe he received the wonderful gift of forgiveness and eternal salvation at the moment he in faith believed and asked for it. Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God .Was that when he was a little boy, or a teen? I truly don't know because I can not see inside his heart. But what I do know is that God knows His children and he claims them to himself. Ephesians 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

As I read the story of Jacob in the Old Testament I see that he had a relationship with God even before he wrested with Him and found his faith in him. I also notice in this story that Jacob after wrestling with God has times when his faith is weak. But, God is ever faithful to Jacob. Genesis 27-29 So, I know that God seeks out His children and calls them to himself.

I also know that many would say that the prayer of salvation is the first step in our relationship with God, and that the act of sanctification starts in this second step of devoting our lives to Christ. But I have also seen (especially in people whom come to salvation as adults) this desire to make God the center of ones life as a direct result of salvation, immediately take place.

As I have pondered these things about salvation as a child, I have felt blessed to have been raised in a Godly home. I feel privileged to offer God's truth to my own children while they are young. Because the Truth was constantly available to me as a young girl, it was easy to grasp it and take hold of it. It allowed me to place my trust in God even as I went through those years of finding my own identity as a teen. It continues to be the foundation I stand on when doubt and insecurity come my way. You see I believe that true faith takes place daily, as we take up our cross daily. There is in this world always going to be things that come to distract us from God, and confuse us about what is true, but if we learn and follow His ways we can be assured of our eternal salvation. Luke 9:23-27 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder if someone is a Christian? Have you ever assumed a loved one knows the Truth of salvation? How can you be sure if someone you love and care about is truly eternity ready?

These are the thoughts that have been on my mind these last couple of days. You see my husband Jeremy's grandmother suffered a serious stroke this past week, and we went and spent time with her and Jeremy's grandfather. As I sit there in the hospital, I realized that I hadn't ever really talked about salvation with either of them. They both attend church every Sunday and are involved in their church. They are quiet committed family people. In fact, I would say that their family is everything to them. At least, from my perspective it appears that way. I have had some good meaningful conversations with them over the years, and I guess I just assumed that at some point before I met them they made a decision to be a Christian.

So, what if this assumption on my part is false? What if even though these two wonderful people whom I have grown to love since marrying their grandson never made a solid choice to accept the gift of salvation and eternal life with God? What are the right words to say in such a situation?

These are the many thoughts I have been pondering since I sat and visited with them in the hospital.

Here is the answers I am coming up with:

The first thing I realize is that many people call themselves Christians, so to ask if someone is a Christian is probably not going to get me the answer I am looking for. So maybe a better question is, “Can you tell me about the day you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior from your sins?” I realize that a true Christian is someone who has admitted they are a sinner and in need of a savior. A true Christian is someone who also realizes there is only ONE God and that Jesus is the only person who lived and died a sinless life. A true Christian realizes that Jesus is and was and always will be God. That he came to earth as a man and died for all sin, but to be forgiven a true Christian must accept this gift of salvation. A true Christian acknowledges that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death, and that because of this he is the only way to an eternal relationship with a Holy and Righteous God.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9-13

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Next I realize that it is better to risk offending a love one and asking them about being a Christian than it is to risk they are not. So often we worry about what others think, but isn't it better to worry about what God thinks. He tells us to reach the lost near and far, and who better to take to heaven with us than those we love here on earth.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The last thing I realized is I don't want anyone to have to wonder if I am heaven bound. I want to live my life in a way that everything I do says to others I know Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I want to be ever ready to share the Gospel Truth with everyone and anyone. I want to live a life that leaves no question that God is the center of who I am and hope to be.

Matthew 5:13-16
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Journey to Obedience

Journey to Obedience
(learning to live dependent on God)

Recently, several people have encouraged me to write out our family story.  My first thought was   who really wants to read our story. I have enjoyed reading so many other peoples interesting and exciting stories online and in books.  Mine is just so ordinary.  But, then my husband asked if I would write it out.  So, I am writing it for him.  It is just a story of two ordinary people trying to learn to live completely dependent on God, and His faithfulness even when they continue to fail.


As I wrote this story, I so enjoyed thinking of all the times God provided for our family in amazing ways.  I was reminded over and over, as I wrote, of how blessed we truly are, and how wonderful a gift each of my children are to me.  Many details are left out of this readers digest version of our family story, and I hope to slowly fill in these details with individual blogs (like chapters) later.  This short version focuses on God's faithfulness even in our lack of trust in Him.  I want to make it clear that this is OUR story, and it is not a message to others to choose what we have chose.  It is a message to choose to follow the LORD with all of your heart in whatever He is calling you to.   I hope you enjoy reading it, and that it is used by God to some how minister to someone.
Blessings, Katie

     When I was a young girl, my mom (a young Christian woman of simple faith in a mighty God), taught my sisters and I to pray for our future.  She said we should pray specifically for our future spouse, and she also prayed daily for that young unknown man.
Miles away, in Indiana, Jeremy was born to a young girl of seventeen.  This was a wonderful and amazing act of dependency on God.  Jeremy's mom found herself pregnant and scared as a high school girl.  She fell on her knees and prayed to God, and he came and comforted her and gave her the courage to trust in Him and to raise this child.  With the help of her parents she was able to begin the process of raising a wonderful son.  Soon, she met a young man and they married.  This man adopted Jeremy and made him his own.  This act of love would influence Jeremy's decision to adopt in the future.
As I began praying for my future spouse, I would pray for his protection and for his relationship with God.  I would pray God would prepare him to be my spouse, and I hoped with all hope that I would be able to marry right out of high school.  All I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother.  This was a dream that society seemed to think I should hold off on.  There was pressure all around to look at the future with college and career plans.  But my hope was to marry and serve the Lord.  Beyond that I wasn't sure what I wanted.
The summer before my senior year in high school my family moved.  We moved to a small town in Indiana where my dad would begin pastoring a small country church.  It is here, that I meet Jeremy for the first time.  Soon, we began dating and not long into our relationship, we began to talk about our future together.  We would go for walks and talk for hours about our plans together.  During these talks we often prayed, and soon we both realized that God was speaking to our hearts.  We both heard over and over from the Lord, that he wanted us to trust Him to number our children.  We were young and innocent, and had no idea what he was truly asking of us.  But, we thought we could do that.  I had visions of maybe six kids, Jeremy said maybe nine.  We also, both agreed God wanted us to foster other children and help other families (this was something I had been raised with, as my parents had fostered and adopted many children).  We were excited about our future and at our high school graduation in May of 1993, we got engaged, and were married that December.  In these first years of our marriage God gave us the verse Jeremiah 29:11 as our family verse.  "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."'
I secretly hoped and prayed God would give us a couple years before we started having children, and God did.  So, we spent the first two years of our marriage growing together as a couple, and then the day came when we were expecting our first child.  There was excitement and fear.  We were both attending Bible school at the time, and working at Wal Mart.  My fears abounded that we would not be able to care for a baby and do school.  But, the time came and baby Tyler Ann was born on April 28th, 1996.  Jeremy decided to step out of school and go to work full time, and I continued to work part time and attend school part time, and be a full time mom (baby Tyler went with me everywhere).  Surely, God did not mean for us to keep having children right then, and surely he wanted us to be better able to provided security for our children.  So, we decided to take the doctors advice and use birth control.  This was not a good choice, since, I suffer from hormonal imbalance, but the doctor seemed to think it was and doctors always know best.  So, birth control and contraceptives were bought and used, but amazingly even with these precautions we soon found ourselves expecting again.  Another easy and blessed pregnancy and delivery and another beautiful baby girl.  Rachel Elizabeth was born on September 28th, 1997,  and we were living in my parents basement at the time.  Yes, that's right, I said parents basement.  So, we knew for sure God does not want us to have anymore children in these circumstance.  So again we tried another birth control and more contraceptives to assure a good space between pregnancies.  Shortly after Rachel's birth, we moved into a home and began to foster children.  We were excited to share our home with other children and work with parents to reunite these families.  A few children came and went, and we felt blessed to have been able to care for and serve these families.  But, then one day, two children came into our lives, and from day one we knew God waned us to make a long term commitment to them.  Still with no plans to adopt any of our foster children, we cared for these two, Daniel and Lydia, and our hearts were broken as they came and went from our home into troubling situations.  As this was going on, we found ourselves pregnant again, even though we had taken great precautions to not be.  This time, we were blessed with a baby boy, Brenden Joseph on May 5th, 1999.  We realized that God is going to number our children and we needed to trust in him, and stop worrying about what others think or say.  So, even though we had made some poor financial decisions and were working to get out of massive debt, we decided not to take steps to stop another pregnancy. 
Daniel and Lydia continued to come and go from our care, and we realized that God was calling us to adopt them.  Truly overwhelmed by this idea, we stepped out in faith and began the process of adoption. This process was so much more painful than pregnancy and labor.  It was during this painful time of learning to trust on the Lord's timing, that he gave us a new verse. Romans 8:28" And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose."  As we moved forward with adoption, we soon gave birth to another baby girl, Rebekah Joy on September 28th, 2000.  Then at the end of that year Daniel Tiger(September 30th, 1995)and Lydia Lucinda(November 3rd, 1998)were officially adopted. 
Now, a full-time, stay at home mom of six under six(sometimes more if we have foster children) I find myself suffering from severe migraines and other health problems.  I have suffered with migraines since puberty due to the hormone imbalance, but these were much worse than any I had ever had.  They would come on so sudden and be so painful that I would literally fall to the floor in pain.  This was terrifying as they would happen and all the kids would be out in the backyard playing and I would be unable to move.  So off to the doctor I go, and it doesn't look good.  One doctor says my blood work reveals that my hormones are so off, that you would think I was pregnant with triples (I am not pregnant at all).  Another doctor says, it appears I have a tumor on my pituitary gland.  Both, agree that the best course of action is hormone therapy.  This means depo vera injections.  Being young and trusting in my doctors, we agree to this course of action.  I receive the first injection, with a warning that I could experience bleeding, spotting, or neither.  I bleed for a full three months.  I return to the doctors office, I report the bleeding, I am told this is normal and that it should correct itself after a few more injections, and that I need to do a full years course of injections to correct the hormone imbalance.  I get the next injection.  The head aches worsen, the bleeding continues, and I can't take care of my house and children at times because the pain is so severe.  Now, I return to the doctor, and again I am told that I just need to continue with the treatment and it will all work out in the end.  So, I get my third injection at this time.  I begin to get worse, my hormones are not balancing, my head aches are out of control, and the doctors are certain now that I must have a tumor.  I am scheduled for an MRI, and encouraged to continue with the injections.  I get one more injection.  Shortly, after this injection, I begin bleeding so heavily that Jeremy rushes me to the hospital.  This is when a  doctor comes and tells us that it appears I may have had a tubal pregnancy and lost the baby.  The doctor telling us this states that this is common with depovera.  NO one had told us this before we started the treatment.  We were devastated to think we could have killed our own child.  They got the bleeding slowed and I went home.  I then asked the women of my church to pray for me. In pride, I had not shared with anyone the struggle I was going through, for fear they would judge me. This is one of the areas I continue to struggle in, and God continues to teach me in.  After the women started praying, I began feeling better almost immediately, and the head aches come less and less.  When I went for the MRI and the next round of blood work everything was clear and normal. During this trial, I learned to depend on God and to trust His people.  It was a hard lesson and I continue today to struggle in it.
God gives us this verse during this season of our lives.  Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths." 
Life sort of settles into a routine of homeschooling, spending time at grandma's, and being involved in the church.  God blesses us and we are able to pay off all our debt in less than 2 years (over $28,000).  To this day, we are not sure how this was done, but God multiplied our income.  We buy our first home, and I become pregnant with our seventh child.  This is a difficult pregnancy as I become very mentally unstable.  I am extremely cruel to Jeremy and often times have terrible nightmares and fits of depression and anger.  By the end of the pregnancy I am suffering from sever insomnia and I am terrified I won't have the strength to deliver the baby.  But, on September 26th, 2003, I give birth to a baby boy, Jeremiah John, weighing 9 lbs. 13 oz.  I continue to struggle for several more months with depression and anxiety.  Jeremy decides maybe this is a sign we shouldn't have more children.  So, he schedules to have a vasectomy.  The doctor tries to talk him out of it, but Jeremy is not convinced and the surgery is scheduled.  Three times unusual circumstances interfere with the surgery, the doctor has to have emergency surgery, the hospital has a problem with the surgery room, and then the hospital has no recorded of Jeremy's scheduled appointment.  After the third conflict, Jeremy and I both realize that it is not to be done.  Soon, I become pregnant again, and it is the most beautiful, enjoyable pregnancy I have had. (note: all my pregnancy are extremely easy and without complication, even with Jeremiah's I was physically very healthy)  The day of delivery comes and it is the easiest labor and delivery thus far.  Joshua James is born on April 25th, 2005.  He brings us so much joy, and is a happy, easy going guy.  We are so grateful God brings him into our lives.
I continue to struggle with mans opinion of our choice to continue to have children and to raise them at home.  But, God blesses us and we move forward.  Each year of homeschooling is more fun than the year before.  I wonder if it is possible to be more blessed, and even wonder why God chose me for this great job of training these young ones.  I think back often to those days when Jeremy and I would walk and talk.  I remember God speaking to us that he wanted us to  raise up Kingdom Builders.  Often, feeling so unworthy of such a calling, I would pray and ask him to show me how to do such a task. 
He was ever faithful, even when I wasn't.  We continued to have the privilege to care for other children in our home, and to help other families.  It was amazing how God would bring people into our lives for us to minister to right in our own home.  We enjoyed ministering to single mom families, as well as, offering respite care for families of severely handicapped children.  Our children seemed to have a desire early on to care for others.  The day to day, could be hard at times, but God provided even when we didn't always trust him to.
Then in 2007, on May 10th, Zachery Caleb was born.  The boys began to out number the girls ,and it was evident in the house.  Rough and tumble boys everywhere.  It is at this point we hear God calling our family to adopt again.  The call is clear, and yet both Jeremy and I secretly feel overwhelmed by the thought.  We know God wants us to consider adopting a medically fragile child with limitations.  We are excited to use the experience he has given us to offer a home to a waiting child, but at the same point we wonder if we are truly up to the call.    Stepping out in faith we start the process and again it is a more painful process than pregnancy and delivery.  But, God in his sovereignty matches us up with a child who, we will find fits into our home perfectly.  As we fly out to California to adopt Davey (Robert David, March 6, 2003) I am full of emotions.  One moment, so excited to finally meet my son, and the next so overwhelmed and feeling so unworthy of the task of being his mother.  I question God the whole way there if he is sure this is right.  We arrive at the place to meet him and he gets out of the car, and in that moment I see him and I know without a doubt this is my son.  David had been in a wonderful foster home, and they had prepared him to meet us.  So, from day one he knew us as mom and dad and felt right at home.  I am always so grateful to the family that had him and helped him become ready to be in our home.  He continues to grow and develop in independence.  He is one of the happiest most content people you will ever meet.  God has truly blessed us with him.
On the plane ride home from picking up Davey, I realize that the sickness I am feeling is not just from the rough flight, but that it is morning sickness.  So, we brought David home at the beginning of the summer of 2008, and God blessed us again in February on the 5th, of 2009, with Stephen Michael.  The boys are truly outnumbering the girls.  Some days, I think they are running things and I am not.  But, God has truly blessed us to be able to continue to keep them all home and learn and grow in him together.  We start sensing that God is planning a change for our family, and we begin praying that he will prepare us all, and that we will be obedient to whatever is next.   He begins teaches me what true submission looks like, to Him and to Jeremy.  Jeremy decides to try for a new position with his company. 
God gives us a new verse:  Joshua 24:15 "As For Me And My House We Will Serve the Lord." 
We are all excited and nervous to see what the Lord will do.  Jeremy gets the position and we are on an adventure moving to Lancaster, PA.  But, it isn't that easy.  Jeremy heads out to start his new job in April 2011 and to find us a home.  I am pregnant again, and wait trusting in God's timing (or trying to be trusting).  It takes longer than we expected to find a home, and Jeremy has to come back to Michigan for the birth of baby girl, Christianna Hesed, on June 8th, 2011.  During this time of being separated and learning to truly trust in God and Jeremy, I grow greatly.   We are blessed with an opportunity to rent a house finally, and we see the Lord's hand's all over this provision.  We finally pack up the kids and move to Lancaster.
After arriving in Pennsylvania, I begin to suffer with feeling blue.  I am not sure if it is baby blues, anxiety over the move, or something else.  But, I find the homeschooling laws overwhelming and think I need to change the way I have been teaching.  I buy all kinds of books and materials and lay out a plan for the year.  It is a complete fail , or as the kids say, epic fail.  I can see my kids struggling ,I am struggling, and Jeremy is struggling.  I begin to pray and seek God, and Jeremy and the kids do too.  God reveals to me that he wants me to return to teaching the kids from His Word.  So, I get back to work on writing my own curriculum and find others who have done great work in this area, and seek their counsel.  God blesses me with new friends and great Biblical counsel through the church we are attending and through home school connections online.  This season of our lives is like none we have been in before it.  We are all challenged to grow into a deeper dependency on God. 
God gives us a new verse:  Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
This is our present season of life.  We do not yet know what is next for us.  But, we do know that God wants us to depend on him every moment of everyday.  We realize when he called us to be Kingdom Builders and to let Him number our children, that what he really wanted was to teach us to trust Him with everything.  Trust Him to provide physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally all that we need,  because we realize that we are nothing without Him.  As I write this, it is baby Anna's first birthday, and we look forward to celebrating today and many days to come her life and the lives of all our children.  But, whatever God holds for our future, we choose to seek to obey Him and trust Him.