Faith Journey, Large Family Happenings

Salvation Story of Daughter #3

Salvation Story of Daughter #3

As I was going through the thousands of pictures on my hard drive, I found this picture of my third daughter.  So, it got me to thinking that I would share the Salvation Story of Daughter #3.  First and foremost, here is a picture of my daughter.  This was taken at the exact moment she expressed to me her desire to know and follow her Lord and Savior, Jesus. This was the moment I knew things were real.

You could sense and feel her emotions. I could see her wheels turning and putting things together. Such a beautiful moment.

Salvation Story of Daughter #3

On October 16, 2015

Was when this picture was taken.  For some odd reason, no one was at home.  I’m not sure where everyone was but they were all gone and this was before Hunter came to live with us.

G was 14 years old.  When she was about 6, she was “saved” every year at every church or school they went too.  We first thought it was real and then realized that it was more for the attention than the true meaning.

After about the 3rd or 4th time (I mean, she had been baptized at least 2 times before this picture was taken)…we just thought she was too young to truly understand the meaning.  It would come, in time.  In God’s time, not our time.

Struggles

G had struggled since before she came to us at 6 years old.  There were lots of things going on in her life, that were completely out of her control.  She was too young to be heard and so she internalized, as most children do.

She did some very brave things that helped bring justice to some people.  She also kept herself alive and fed while also keeping her younger brother alive, fed, and safe.  There were other littles ones that she was responsible for, but that wasn’t around the clock like it was with her brother.

By the time she got to us, she had been through 2 other state homes and several non-state regulated homes.  It is a lot for a 6 yr old.  She knew how to work the system.  She knew how to behave (according to her birth mom) and she stretched the limit quite a bit.  The other placements just weren’t equipped to handle the things that she had to deal with, her diagnosis, and her behaviors.

I Guess We Though We Could

We were ready to bring her and her brother home and fight for them.  Teach them about the love of Jesus.  Give them consistency, love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, hot showers. age appropriate toys, teach them to use their imaginations, work on their nutrition and reverse anything we could.  It was not easy.

G stayed in survival mode for a long time.  We did all we knew how to do.  We took PS-Mapp classes, Care Plus Classes, Sexual Abuse classes, had a great R & C worker, and the kids had a great social worker.  They actively saw therapists and doctors.  We did medications, detoxifications, food changes, allergy testing, allergy shots.  We tried everything.

Things kept getting worse and worse.

Taking It Personally

I took her hate and disdain personally but it has been impressed on me that it wasn’t me that she hated.  She “hated” her birthmom and that just happened to spill out on me.  I absolutely did not encourage that at all. I let her express her emotions and then tried to help her understand.

She was angry, confused, hurt, sad, that her mom had made the choices that she did.  It was hard for her to match up her words with her actions.  Frankly, it was hard for me to explain to her.  I never spoke ill of her birth mom.  I have always told her that her mom loved her the way she knew how to love her.  That she did the best she could with what she was taught by her parents.

I can’t fix that.  I also can’t take her attacks against me personally.  The girl could run her mouth, get all up in my stuff, try to be bigger than what she was and by those actions of blatant hate, disrespect, and harming others.  Trauma. PTSD amongst other things.

Then One Day

She was mad about something.  We were toe to toe in the dining room.  My boy had gathered up the children into the back of the house because he was always afraid of what she would say or try to do and he wanted to protect his siblings from her.  My goal was to protect her from herself.

She walked up, with her arms crossed, and said that she feels darkness surrounding her, starting at her feet.  That the darkness was like a cloud and it was coming across her legs and that the more it moves up, the more power she has.  That she likes the darkness and she likes the power that she has and she can do anything to me or anyone else when the power overtakes her.

Scary, I know.

I Distinctly Remember

I was as calm as calm could be.  I just looked at her and said “satan, in the Name of Jesus, you have to leave.  You have no power over my daughter or my home.  Get thee behind me.”  I prayed out loud, over her.  I had my hands on her shoulders and I could feel the tension and the warmth of her shoulders.  As I continued to pray, she began to physically lighten up and the tension was being released and a calmness took over her.

As I looked in her eyes, they returned to her normal color and her voice had audibly changed.  I asked her what happens and she said that when she gets angry that the cloud swirls around her feet and she does like the power but it scares her.  I explained that seemed like it was demonic and that once I claimed Jesus over her, it had to leave.  It no longer had the power to invade her or my home.

We talked about the fruits of the spirit and that she said she didn’t have them and I agreed.  That was a scary moment.  I’m sure that is the moment that she, now, dwells on.

Yet, there was more to that time that I wish she would remember because I not only remember, I took a picture because it was such a spiritual moment for both of us.  Sacred.

Fruits of the Spirit

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

These were the things we started talking about over the course of several days leading up to the picture above.  We talked about what it “truly” meant to have Jesus live in your heart.  That when He moves in, the Holy Spirit takes over and deposits all those fruits into a person’s lives.  Now, granted they may be seeds or they could be full blown fruits, but we all have to start somewhere.  We all have to heed that still small Voice of the One who sustains us.

Hard to Understand

That was a hard concept for her.  So, at the time of the darkness, I asked her about each of those fruits and she vehemently denied having any of them.  She hated everyone, herself, her bioparents choices, school, all the things.

It is a hard concept when you have lived a hard life in the beginning.  Yet, a hard beginning does not dictate your middle or your end!  These fruits may not be there now, but God is waiting to give them to you.  Again, some will be planted seedlings, some will be tiny fruits, some so big they are falling off the trees, but you will have them.  That is a guarantee.

Back to that Night

As we were alone, we decided to go and eat out someone.  She wanted to go to Sirloin, which was about 30 minutes away.  I agreed because I let her choose.  That’s what a good mom does LOL.  They let their daughter choose the place to eat.

We drove in silence.  We ate in broken silence.  We headed home in somewhat silence until we saw an accident that yielded in a person’s death.  She had a hard time with that, as did I.  The questions poured out of her.  She asked why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  Why does He allow bad people to hurt kids?  Why her dad didn’t come for her?  Why her mom didn’t fight for her?  Why?  Why?  Why?

We had a long discussion about Freewill.

That was the Night

That I shared ALL of her birth story with her.  I have binders upon binders of information from every home, every person, every therapist, every diagnosis, every police report, everything. We poured over it.  I showed her many pictures and told her that I had been trying to contact her dad and biological sister to establish a relationship with them because it would be important to G.  I had also tried to locate her birthmom, but hadn’t had any luck.

I answered every question by looking through the paperwork and letting another person answer it.  Whether it was a judge, guardian ad litem, her birth parents, birth grandparents, foster parents, therapists, etc.  I didn’t just pick an answer out of the wind, I found it in black and white documentation and had her read it.  I just helped her understand wording.

It was a Hard Night

Yet, it yielded something unexpected.  Peace.  She physically had peace.  Her face softened up, her voice changed, she cried real tears, asked great questions about the goodness of God.  I was able to lead her to Scripture and have God answer those questions.  We researched, cried, and came to peace.

At that moment, she truly and completely asked the Lord to be her personal Savior.  It was so innocent and beautiful.  There were no accolades, no parties, no pats on the back, no baptisms, nothing like that.  Just me and her, in our home, together where the Holy Spirit was present.

I told her to look down at her shirt because I had just read it.  She put it on, originally, because she liked the color green.  She didn’t even read what was on it.  She looked down and the look of JOY, PEACE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, SELF-CONTROL, LOVE, GENTLENESS, not so much patience yet, FAITHFULNESS were permeating through her smile.

Her shirt reads SURRENDER!  She had just surrendered her life to Jesus and was bestowed the fruits of the spirit.  Most were growing fruits, a couple of seedlings, some were so big they were falling off the trees.  It was such a beautiful moment that was shared just between us.  I’m so thankful I took that picture.

Where is She Now

Well, just because we love Jesus and have Him in our hearts doesn’t always mean we continue to make the right choices.  We are still sinful people who are saved by grace (thank God).  We still make mistakes, do the wrong things, say the wrong things, fall into sin patterns, listen to a little bit too much of satan’s lies, and try to fit in with society.  That is a crutch we have all carried.

Does screwing up mean we have lost our salvation?

Oh heck no!

Does it mean we have lost the fruits of the spirit?

Nope, though they may need water to grow a bit more.

Once you truly ask Jesus into your heart, you are placed in the hands of Jesus THEN Jesus’ hands are placed in the hands of God.  There is nothing getting you out of those grips.  You are forever His.

Does it sadden Him?  Of course it does.  Yet it doesn’t stop Him from loving you.  He just wants you to do the right thing.  Be that city on a hill.  Be a testimony for Him.  Share your crappy beginnings and show people what the Lord has done for you.

Questioning Salvation

I did question her salvation based on her actions and her fruits when she was saved every year from 6 to 14.  It was literally a weekly or biweekly thing.  BUT that night changed everything.  I have NEVER questioned it since.  Not even with all the things that continued to happen and the struggles we had.  I never questioned it again.  I know she is His.  I know He lives in her.

I miss her.

I love her.

I believe in her.

She is enough.

She is brilliant.

She is beautiful.

She is capable.

She has been chosen by me to adopt her but more importantly by God through adoption by salvation.

She can do anything she sets her mind too.

Till I take my last breath, she will be my daughter.

My prayer is that she chooses to be a city on a hill and shines her light for the glory of God.  I pray that she remembers this night and holds it close to her heart because I hold it close to mine.

Some People

They know 20% of our story and that is being generous.  Maybe, I will clear up some other misconceptions over time.  I don’t know.  I wouldn’t do it without her permission.

For Now, we allow time to heal wounds. Pray for clarity, safety, wisdom, discernment, and forgiveness.

God is bigger.

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Christmas Baking with my Oak

Christmas Baking with my Oak

Here we are, getting ready for Christmas THIS WEEK!  Let’s not procrastinate.  So, here is my Christmas Baking with my Oak.  Every year, my Oak comes and bakes with me.  We have done this, faithfully, since I moved out when I was 20.  I am sure we have missed a year or so, but I honestly only remember 1 time that we missed.  So, we have been baking for 29 years.

Christmas Baking with my Oak

List of Goodness

We are baking Bobbie Hill’s Nuts & Bolts (yes please and thank you).  This takes the longest as they cook on low for about 2 hrs.  They are SO good and bring me so much joy (and swelling).  Mom always makes (and screws up at least 1 batch) of chocolate and peanut butter fudge.  Crack. I will be making Crack.  It is SO good.  I think we will do some White Trash, Bon Bons, maybe some Oreo balls.  I was going to do Haystacks but forgot to get the noodles.  I have a recipe for a quick chocolate/butterscotch fudge that I may do.  There are other things that we will make, but that is what is coming to my mind.

Delivering the Goodies

We were not able to give the teachers anything because Hunter had a doctor’s appointment that day.  I am going get some cute little containers, wrap up the goodies and deliver them to his teachers.  He will be excited to see them.

My kids eat a lot but we also give away a lot.  This year, I would like to give some to my new neighbors.  I have yet to meet 2 neighbors and I really need to do that.  I’m such a procrastinator.  Actually, not a procrastintor.  Moreso I just don’t want too. I’m really not that friendly and I have massive trust issues.  We have not had a good history with neighbors.  However, the family that we have met are super kind!

Preferences

I actually prefer that NONE of my family be here when we bake.  Selfishly, I just want some alone time with my mom.  However, my kids are out of school and Bart will be home for part of the day.  My bigs got wind that Jojo is coming and now they are making plans to “pop” by.

Seriously people.  I don’t want you here 🙂  Jojo LOVES it when they all show up.  She loves sneaking sweets to the kids when I turn my back.  All I hear are giggles and people scurrying around.  It makes my heart so happy.

These are memories that will forever be embedded in their minds.  I pray that the Lord allows me to bake with my kids (which will happen on Wednesday) and grandkids one day.  I want to pass this tradition on.

I am so excited!

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Christmas Happenings Ashley Style

Christmas Happenings Ashley Style

It is Christmas 2021 and here we are in the midst of Christmas Happenings Ashley Style.  Christmas is the time where we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  What a beautiful time to stop and reflect on what our Savior has done for us.

My Family

My family is so amazing, so complicated, and so beautiful.  Today, we got together, as we do the Saturday before every Christmas.  I so enjoy this time because we all come together and my sister was able to travel and be here.

There were several we were missing but the ones that were not there, were not forgotten.  They were missed terribly.  My parents have created a beautiful legacy that will live far beyond what I can even imagine.

Christmas Miracles

This Christmas was filled with peace, laughter, love, and miracles.  First and foremost, my daughter is expecting our first grandson in May.  Then, my uncle survived a procedure to put a stent in.  It has been a long journey and he has been in the hospital for 100+ days.  My brother in law does not have cancer in his bones!  The BEST thing is that…

Drum Roll

HUNTER IS IN REMISSION!!!!!!!!!

That is a post to come because my emotions simply too much for me to handle.  I am in awe of this journey we have been on and the fact that the Lord heard our prayers and did what He does best.  He did so IN HIS TIME not ours.

Pictures

This picture is the captures completely my parents love story.  It has been almost 60 years.  There have been lots of ups and downs along the way.  Mental, emotional, physical things have happened. There were a lot of years we didn’t think they would even stay married.

Yet God.

He saved my father.  Restored their love story.  My mother’s faith…guys…I can’t even.  That is, again, for another day because I’m not emotionally prepared to put those words to paper yet.  This.  This marriage is a beautiful miracle.

My Sisters

The love I have for these women is so pure and unconditional.  There have been fights, tears, hurts, miscommunications BUT there has ALWAYS been love, support, grace, mercy, forgiveness, stability.  At the end of the day, we have never left each other’s sides.  Let’s not forget our brother, who does NOT like to have his picture taken.  He is loved.

Grands and Greats

This is a fraction of the complete picture.  Due to kids who have to work or live far away, this is the bunch that was able to make it.  Not pictured:  Leigha and Nick; Morgan (and baby Iva); Amber, Sean, and Dalton; Paige; Aaron and Aiden; Joe; Alex, Kristin, Holt, and Ivy; Kelly and Graham; Maritess and Miqueas; Isaac and David; Jonathan and Sweet Sarah; Grayce.

Let’s see…gotta write this out.

Kids and Spouses:

Shane & Gayla

Joe & Kim

David & Tera

Bart & Brandi

Grandkids and Spouses

Heather & Chad

Leigha & Nick

Stephanie

Corey & Morgan

Paige

Aaron

Amber & Sean

Alex & Kristin

Kelly & Graham

Maritess

Jonathan & Sweet Sarah

Jonas

Isaac

Victoria & Ben

Alyssa & Arkie

Grayce

Noah

Daniel

Jude

TwoFer (Grandson and Great Grandson)

Hunter

Great Grandchildren

Iva Grace (Corey & Morgan)

Kaleigh & Jack (Paige)

Aiden (Aaron)

Dalton (Amber & Sean)

Holt & Ivy (Alex & Kristin)

Miqueas (Maritess)

Charleigh (Victoria & Ben)

Apollo (Alyssa & Arkie)

Now, that’s a legacy….the story continues.

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Happy Birthday Paige

Happy Birthday Paige

Happy Birthday Paige

My sweet girl.  Happy Birthday Paige.  Oh, how I miss you and your fire.  This picture warms my heart so completely.  That is a the smile of a sober young lady with so much life ahead of her.  Holding 2 of her 3 children.  Jackson was a year old and Hunter was freshly born.  This is the epitome of her life before addiction took back over.

Addiction is a horrible thing.  If you want to read more about how it has affected the lives of all, you can head over to my sister’s blog, Mom by Proxy and God’s Grace.  She eloquently states what it is like raising her grandchildren while her children are in the swirl of addiction and incarceration.

My Girl

She is feisty, loud, and bigger than life.  She has always been my little doll baby, yet her choices still make me scratch my head.  She certainly has my heart.  We have been through a lot.  I’ve had to do a lot of things in order to protect others.  I had to do so while looking into her beautiful brown eyes.

Her voice… “Aunt B, look at me and tell me I’m a bad mom.  Aunt B.  Look at me.”  I just wanted to wrap my arms around her because she is NOT a bad mom.  When she is sober, she is little miss Suzy homemaker.  She cooks, cleans, plays with, loves, and drove a mini van.  She did all of this while working tirelessly.

Addiction

Sadly, addication took over her life.  She was a shell of who she used to be and we were afraid that she would die.  Hard decisions had to be made.  Her strength, though, throughout it all was amazing.

She allowed us to raise her son.  She allowed us to adopt him.  She has thanked us for adopting him.  It is so impossibly hard yet I know this is the path that the Lord had for us and for him.  She gave him life, through birth.  Then, she laid her heart on the line and made the horrible decision to terminate her rights and allow us to raise him.  In essence, she gave him life twice.

Fierce Protector

Even now, she has protected him.  She protected him in court and is ready to rumble anytime I say I had a hard time with the school or a doctor.  Honestly, with his medical issues, she has been the one that said I will give or donate any and everything I have in order to help him.

A mother’s love personified.

Life Afterwards

I don’t know what life will look like when she comes home.  Our family dynamics are so weird.  We giggle and say that the kids will pit us against each other.  “Well, Mama Paige said I could do XYZ.”  Paige laughed and she was like little do they know, we have worked out every scenario and we are always on the same page.

My prayer is that she can remain sober and a huge part of her kids’ lives.  They need her and she needs them.  There are so many hurdles but all I can do is trust that the Lord has the best in mind for everyone.

For now, I simply love her completely, thank her for her sacrifice, pray for her safety, and prepare for her future.

Happy birthday sweet girl.  I love you.

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Fingers Foods and Decorating

Fingers Foods and Decorating

Fingers Foods and Decorating

I have NO idea why my picture is so tiny.  I can’t figure out how to make it bigger BUT it does have all of my kids and grandkids in it 🙂  (Minus my daughter….wish she was here to have fun with us).

It was such a wild and busy day.  Jude had basketball for half of the day.  I handled that and Bart did all the running with the other 2 boys.  There was Co-vid testing to be done, playdates, work, cleaning house, and some outside work.

Yet, today was the day that we were going to decorate the tree and eat!  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love that we all just come together to eat.  Feeding people is one of my favorite things.  Another favorite is having people over who may not have a place to go.  Loving on others, making new friends, Charleigh’s first Thanksgiving, warms my heart.

Now, onto Christmas.

Benjamin (the one with the glasses) has a serious love for Christmas.  The boy has plans for my house and next year, he will probably be in charge of decorating.  I’m feeling like my house will end up like the one in National Lampoon’s, but hey…it makes him happy, it makes me happy.

Once I got home from basketball, I started cooking.  The kids decided that they wanted finger foods.  Actually, Alyssa decided and because she is pregnant with Apollo, that is what we are having.

Bart did his sausage balls, we had chips and I made cheese dip, a crudite’ plate, cheese ball, a pot of potato soup, cinnamon roll sopapilla, apple pie type sopapilla, weiner winks, and crack dip.  They messed and gobbed throughout the evening.

Normally

Now, normally, we would be playing a Christmas movie but someone I know (Benjamin) wanted to watch football.  #notChristmasyatall  It’s all good.  I realized though that I am going to need a ladder in order to get pictures because my kids are huge.  The room is a bit smaller than my other living room (at our former house) so it was a bit more cramped.

However, it was full of joy, laughter, calmness, fun, and then there was Charleigh.  That baby.  That.  Baby.  She is freakingn glorious and BRILLIANT.  She can crawl, wave bye bye, and is just the funniest thing ever.  She is almost 9 mths old.  I cannot believe that she just entered this world 9 months ago.

Her first Christmas.

She is enthralled with the tree.  Grabbing at it, looking at the lights, letting it tickle her hands…I could eat her.  The kids didn’t leave until late and I love that.  I love that my kids love to be home.  I love that they feel safe, comfortable, loved, and at ease here.  Warms my heart.

The only thing that could have made it better was if ALL my kids could be here.  We sure did miss our daughter.  Her stocking will be hung by the fireplace with love.  One day, we will all be reunited and it will be a healing and glorious time.

Next year, we will have Apollo and Charleigh.  My cup overfloweth!

Merry Christmas!

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Tested by Fire

In today’s world, a couple who has been married for 27 years is a rarity. My wife, Brandi,  and I have been married for that long.  One thing I know is you don’t stay married for that length of time without going through fire. We have had our fair share of fire, for sure.

In the beginning of our marriage I was not a believer. That put a huge strain on us. The first 7 years of our marriage was pretty rough.  I was not following the Lord and leading like I’m supposed to.  On several occasions, we were on the verge of divorce.  But in 2001, I did surrender to Christ and things got better, not because of us but because of Him.
However, things weren’t all rainbows and unicorns after I was saved.  I had an addiction to pornography that started when I was in middle school.  Obviously, my wife was unaware but with any sin, light was shown upon the darkness.  Sadly, my addiction still continued after she found out and again our marriage suffered to the point of divorce.  But God saved me from my addiction and I have been delivered from it since.  He worked a miracle in me and saved our marriage.
But as always, life gets in the way of happiness.  Job, children, finances etc. were all distractions to our marriage.  Many hurts happened and we had grown apart.  It felt like we were spiraling towards separation again but again God intervened.  It was like he hit me over the head with a frying pan.  He showed me that I was too focused on self.  I fell on my face and gave it all to the Lord.  I decided that I would love, honor, serve and cherish my wife.  God made me realize I was not fulfilling my role as her husband.
Since that night, I have done my very best to live up to that decision.  And I would have to say, our marriage is on the mend.
Are we perfect people? No.
Will we always do or say the right thing? No.
Do we/I have the power to choose to love, honor and obey God and each other? Yes.
What I’m trying to get at here is that through it all, we have persevered.  Has it all been bad? Absolutely not.  We have more good years than bad.  We just dwell on the bad more, which is not the way it should be.
But truth be told, God put me and Brandi together for a purpose.  He did not make a mistake because He doesn’t make mistakes.  I have loved her from the beginning.  I have never stopped.  She will forever and always be the one I choose and the one chosen for me.  I love her more every single day and will love her for the rest of my life.  Love you, babe!

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Charleigh Mae

Charleigh Mae

I’m not sure there are enough words in the English language to convey how I feel about my granddaughter.

What is she…at 3 mths old?

  • Brilliant
  • Beautiful
  • Perfect
  • Squeals in proper context
  • Blows bubbles with her mouth like a pro
  • Track objects with her eyes.
  • Loves water
  • Smiles….her smile.
  • Loves her mama and coos for her daddy
  • She held her arm up today like “power to the people.”
  • Radiant
  • Poops when I rub her foot
  • Sleeps when I rock her and tell her stories.
  • Best baby EVER.

What I Need

I need a thousand more grandbabies.  Really, I do.  If one is this great, I might explode if there are more.  I am so grateful that my daughter and son-in-law let me come over often to just rock her.  I try to help around the house, but I get so darn distracted by her cuteness.

Those cheeks….those thighs….Her long cow eyelashes and her beautiful hazel eyes.  She is a perfect match between Bug and Ben.  Her hair seems red but it has a giant white patch on top of her head that appears to be sticking around.  Not sure what that is all about but I am digging it.

She Has Bonded Our Family

Seriously, we needed a win this year.  Just one good thing and luckily, we got two good things.  Alyssa got married and Victoria had Charleigh.  Oh, we had three good things happen… Sassy moved in with us and it has been great having her around.

There have also been some not great things but looking at my girls, it warms my heart.  Everyone (almost), girls and boys, are finding their niche and moving towards it.  I couldn’t be more proud than I am now.

Charleigh Mae

Charleigh Mae

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Our Story of Falling in Love and Adoption

Our Story of Falling in Love and Adoption

My husband and I met in the spring of 1993. We quickly fell for each other. I remember walking into the game room, where we both worked, one evening before school started. There were people lined up at the counter and I saw this man….in these faded blue jeans….with this butt…that made my heart pitter-patter. He was tall and eyes that were the color of the sky. He had a hat on, so I did not know what color his hair was and I noticed his bottom lip all stuck out because he was chewing tobacco. I fell in love and I did not even know his name. Swoon………….

The Kid Question

At any rate, that is the year we met. We were engaged by the fall of that same year and married in June 1994. When we were talking about our life, I asked him how many children he wanted. He stated that he wanted one, maybe two. I stated that I wanted four. I also told him of my desire to adopt and he was NOT for that, at all. He felt he could not love a child he did not see grow in me. I decided that I would let God deal with him on that and I was going to stay out of it.

Life Now

Fast forward 22 years later and we did not have one, two, or four kids. We were blessed with 6 children. We have three children who were born “under the heart” and 3 children who were adopted. We have adopted from our local foster care system and to add the icing of the cake of our family, we adopted from Africa. All of our children were “older” child adoptions. The Lord changed his heart in a mighty way.

Contentment

There was a day, back in October 2015, that I was in the bathroom and I was thinking to myself (and yes, I do speak to myself….and I answer myself). The prayer that was lifted up, that day, was one of thanksgiving. My heart has always yearned for my children, but we could not have anymore biologically, we could not from our local foster care system because our home was deemed “full”, and we could not adopt internationally because of finances.

We had had two, separate, opportunities to adopt privately, but the birthmothers made other choices and now those babies are with Jesus. There was nothing more to do. My quiver was full. We had 6 kids. Our oldest was in college, our second was finishing up her high school year, sprinkle in there some behaviorally challenged kids, and a hearing-impaired kid…oh, and homeschooling them all…and our life was complete.

God Laughs

While I was in that bathroom, that day, I uttered these words “Lord, I finally am content. I’m content with myself, my life, my family size, thank you for finally giving me that peace about being finished bringing children into our home.” I can imagine God, upon His heavenly throne, chuckling at my “contentment.” He was fixing to throw me a curveball the size of Montana. Almost immediately after my revelation, the phone rang. It was my oldest sister, Kim.

I was surprised at her phone call on a Saturday morning and instead of saying hello, I asked her what was wrong. She was panicked and straightforward. She and her husband, Joseph, were out of town and there was an emergency with two of her grandchildren. Her request was for me to get to where they are and keep them until she and Joseph came home.

Well, she did not have to ask me twice. My husband and I loaded up our kids and we drove separately, as to have enough room for everyone. We got to where the children were and there they stood, amongst complete chaos and sadness.

Damage Control

I plastered on my “it is going to be okay” face and I whisked them off to Bob Evans to eat. They were filthy and incredibly hungry. We made our way to the bathroom and I cleaned up their precious little faces. We sat to eat and boy did they eat. The rest of the weekend was much like my very own three-ring circus. There was some damage control, lots of hugs and kisses, snacks, movies, rocking, and soothing their weary little souls.

We made it to church without any incident on that Sunday. My sister came back into town that afternoon to pick up the beauties. Their world was fixing to shake and they needed that solid foundation of my sister and Joseph. Oh, do they love those kids…gracious.

Carnage

After they left, I looked around at the carnage of the house. There were toys strung from here to high heaven. Clothes, barbies, shoes, Polly pockets, animals, trains….anything and everything we could find made an appearance and it was spread all throughout my living room.

There were half-eaten sandwiches, purses, stickers galore. I plopped down on the couch with a sense of accomplishment. We all survived. I was pleased I could help in this hard time, but I was so glad that my sister took over.

At It Again

Again, contentment. Again, pleased with feelings of peace. Again, God laughed. Again, He rocked our world. Only a few weeks later, our family…..remember…Bart wanted one or two and I wanted four? Remember how we ended up with three biological kids….and then five….and then six…and then done?

Remember?

Well, we added our seventh child, 21 months (let that soak in…I had not had a toddler in 9 years and I am over 40, people!) sashayed into our home. He had beautiful curls, with these green eyes. He was nonverbal and loud. Holy moly he was loud. We took in my sister’s other grandson…her youngest grandbaby.

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Can I just say that I can sometimes overwhelm even myself?  Well, I do.  More times than not, I get myself into more things than I should.  So, now I’m in the middle of a Baby Shower, Bridal Shower, Birthdays, Bathrooms.  In between November and the end of March, and (of course) the holidays, there is a lot happening.  We have about 12 birthdays and anniversaries.  Then there is my first grandbaby that will make her appearance.  Now, we have to slap in a baby shower, bridal shower, and a 5-day hospital stay and you have my life in a nutshell.  All birthdays went very well.

Baby Shower

With that being said, a baby shower is a must.  Due to covid restrictions, we did a virtual baby shower at my house.  My sister came and my kids.  We ate, she opened gifts, and we had fun.  She got a ton of stuff for Charleigh Mae and they are very thankful.

It is so surreal to see your daughter pregnant with her first daughter.  She is so beautiful.  This pregnancy has not been easy for her.  She has struggled with all-day sickness, loss of appetite, and all the other fun things that happen.  Yet, she has handled it beautifully.

She is going to be such an amazing little mama.  I can’t even contain my excitement.  Who would have ever thought I’d be excited to be a grandmother.  Honestly, who ever thought I was mature enough to be a grandmother.  Yet, here I am.

Bridal Shower

We had scheduled the shower for a week before the wedding.  I just couldn’t get it all done in such a squashed amount of time.  Sadly, Alyssa got really sick before the shower.  We knew she didn’t have covid19, so we assumed it was a bug or the flu.  Since we weren’t sure, we decided to postpone it.  If it was a stomach bug, Arkie could have gotten it and there are a lot of immunosuppressed people in our lives.

Arkie never got sick, but other things ended up happening.  We had a hospital stay (Hunter) and a snowstorm because that is just how things roll.  It got pushed back to the day before the wedding.  We were trying to get a date that his mom could be there, but due to the storm, it just didn’t happen.

It got done and they had a good time. We were all tired but the kids seemed to enjoy opening their gifts.  Luckily, we got great pictures that I will send to his mom.

Rehearsal

That was something as well.  It seems nothing wanted to go smoothly.  This snowstorm just threw a wrench into all the things.  His family was not able to travel to the rehearsal because they got more snow than we did.  I hated that for them.

We were able to get in and get a lot of decorations done.  Most of the people who were in the wedding was able to come.  I’m so glad there is a trial run because that’s when I got all of my squalling out.  Those songs she picked.  Geez.  I was crying, my mom, the girls…it was a cry fest.

We ordered pizza and just came back to the house to eat.  After eating, they opened gifts.  Then, we cooked for the wedding.  It was a long and crazy night.  After all that was done, we snuggled for a good long time.  Sigh, that girl has my heart.

Bathroom Remodel

To add to our fun, we decided to do a remodel on our bathroom.  A few years ago, my boys got into a scuffle and things happened.  One boy aggrevated another boy.  Then, the other boy pushed the one boy.  That boy’s butt went through my wall.

I have not used that bathroom in a long time because I get so mad that all I see is his full butt print.  There are 2 cheeks and a crack.  I bought stuff to redo it, my way because we weren’t getting it done any other way.  Bart stepped in and did some work.  Then, he made some phone calls.

Once that happened, all the things happened.  We now have a new shower, the toilet was already fairly new, bought new flooring.  Our friend ordered new closet doors.  The next big thing is to get the sinks out, new ones bought, and installed.

Go Big or Go Home

So, all this stuff, at my house, happened with a torn-up bathroom.  That and a front closet FULL of Charleigh Mae’s gifts, a corner in the living room FULL of Alyssa’s gifts, and birthday presents.  Upstairs was full of wedding stuff.  I mean, there is stuff everywhere and I haven’t known which way is up and which way is down.

Honestly, I wouldn’t know how to do something 1/2 way.  I have got to do it all the way and then add a little spice.  It’s what dreams are made of.

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Here is our BUSY Family Update February 2021.  For the shortest month of the year, it *feels* like this month lasted 428 years.  So.  Very.  Busy.  That meme cracks me up.  I’m not sure if it is my guardian angel, my mama, sister, or therapist.  Maybe all of them do that when I tell them something new.  Tis my life.

School

Still, Job Corp is not open.  I believe, to date, one has opened, so that is progress.  Right?  Noah got accepted into MSU and got his financial aid going.  He is figuring things out, so I don’t have to.  We’ve decided that Hunter will have his therapies at school.  Virtual therapy is STUPID.  It is seriously the dumbest thing ever.  He will only be at the school for an hour and a half.  Physical therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech will all be done weekly.  Maybe we will see some progress.

As for the boys, Jude is doing well.  He is learning to take his time.  The school gives him the ability to redo his assignments, but not tests or quizzes. He is learning to ask questions and study.  It has been a journey.  Daniel is struggling.  With FASD, it is hard.  Teachers “see” one thing (virtually), yet life is another.  We are going to take him 2x a week for tutoring.  After much back and forth, we adjusted his 504.  Praying that is going to help.

Happenings

There have been lots of birthdays this month.  Grayce, Hunter, Alyssa, Mimi, daddy, and several nephews have celebrated.  Also, we had a wedding shower for Alyssa on Hunter’s birthday.  That is one way to crunch it all in.  Originally, we had a separate day to do their share. Sadly, Alyssa got the flu or a stomach bug.  She was pretty pitiful.  We were not certain what she had, so we canceled until the 19th.  That would be one day before her wedding.

The rehearsal didn’t quite go as planned because there was a major snow/ice moment.  We considered postponing the wedding.  It was touch and go.  Alyssa was a wreck.  Arkie was a rock on the outside, still unsure of what lies beneath.  We got that done, without Arkie’s family.  Sadly, they got more snow than we did and just couldn’t make the trip.  I know that was a hard decision for them to make.

Once home, we did their shower.  Luckily, both my moms were here.  Hannah and Savannah were here.  Once the parents left, we started cooking.  We were all so tired but got it done.  Then, my girl came and snuggled with me until about 2 am.  Sigh.  Worth it all for that moment.

Wedding

All in all, we got it done.  My daughter was breathtaking.  Simply breathtaking.  Arkie.  I tied his tie and saw this sweetness in his eyes.  He really is a sweet boy.  Change is just hard.  Alyssa.  Stunning.  His family was able to come home.  The sun was shining.  Her pictures will be so beautiful with her flowers and the snow.

My mom knocked it out of the park with her flowers, doors, and all the things she creates.  She is brilliant.  My other mom was so helpful.  I’m so thankful my aunt was able to come.  The boys kicked in and helped clean up.  The food was good, the company was good.  Alyssa was so full of joy.  Arkie was so excited about his apple pies.

Health

Big Daddy was diagnosed with diabetes.  He has lost a lot of weight and his sugar levels are really good.  My plantar fasciitis sucks pond water.  That is in my right foot.  In my left foot, I’ve lost feeling in a couple of toes and the top of my foot.  It is due to a bone spur.  Eventually, when I lose feeling in more toes, we’ll address it.  My essential tremors have calmed down as have my psoriasis.

We have some upcoming appointments with Daniel to have him assessed for autism.  Honestly, we have always suspected it but as he gets older, things become more prominent.  Also, we have some upcoming appointments for Jude.  We are hoping to get some help with his FND.  Hunter had a massive treatment that I will address in another post.  So, stay tuned.

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