Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The love of a friend

Today was a special day for Micah. Today he had the opportunity to Skype with his best friend from Ethiopia, Ashenafi. I had the pleasure of meeting Ashenafi on both of my trips to Ethiopia two years ago. Little did I know, when we brought our kids home that he had been Micah's best friend for quite some time. Oh, how my kids worried about him..Would he ever find a family?

As soon as our kids could speak English and join in our nightly prayers, we would hear, "Please Lord give Ashenafi a family." What an incredible blessing it was to see him smiling and laughing as they talked (and talked and talked and talked).

As we go on with our day to day lives, it is often easy to forget what our kids have endured, or what those left behind are enduring, around the world, every day. Leaving a friend, in an orphanage, where you know there is little hope, is a great burden on a child, of any age. Praise God our kids got to see an answer to their prayers!! Ashenafi, we are so glad to welcome you HOME!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Urgent Need

I received this email today from Shepherd's Crook and really felt the need to pass this on. You can also see her on Reece's Rainbow. She is beautiful. Please consider being a parent to this young girl and others like her.

Urgent Need: Laurel

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Yesterday we were alerted to the urgent need of a fifteen-year-old girl from Eastern Europe. Her name is Laurel, and she faces life in an adult mental institution if she is not adopted within the next few months. This is despite the fact that she has no mental disabilities; she has arthrogryposis, a condition which affects the joints and results in low muscle strength, but which has no effect on the person's cognitive faculties. When she turns sixteen this summer, she will not be eligible for adoption at all, something which we do not want to see happen. She is said to be a smart and friendly, and she wants very badly to be part of a family. There is a significant grant available for her adoption, and we trust that the Lord will provide—as He always does—the other funds that Laurel's forever family will need in order to adopt her. Immediate action is required, and it is possible to complete an adoption from her home country in a short time, so there is still hope for this young lady.

Unlike the children that we typically plead for, Laurel is not listed on our website. You can find her information by copying this web address into your browser which will take you to the website for Reece's Rainbow. They can accept tax-deductible donations for the children on their site, so there is no need for us to do the same. Please join with us in praying for her, that she would be spared life in an institution by being adopted before her sixteenth birthday. There really is no time to waste for her. And, as always, feel free to share this message with others.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Sorry for posting a super old picture- but I love how happy my Mom looks in this picture.

Yesterday would have been my Mom's birthday. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her and miss her. Knowing that I will see her again someday gives me great comfort. Mom was young when she died, 62 (2004). She had lived with rheumatoid arthritis since 1986. While debilitating, because it affected her lungs, those outside our family didn't even know she was sick. Very few people knew she took weekly injections to be able to function, took a nap every afternoon from pure exhaustion or struggled to get a full breath for a long time. She was a champion and a true gift from God. She poured everything she had into my kids. I think she would have loved our big expanded family.

As I begin my own road of living with an autoimmune disease, I can see now, why she had such a good outlook on life. She was a Mom. Thank you, God, for my Mom and for allowing me to be a Mom 9 times over.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

things you shouldn't say

From a dentist last week: "Oh, you're life is going to be so tough with Sjogren's. You will have horrible dental disease, sores in your mouth. It really will suck. And you're so young."

From an ophthalmology aide today: "You are so young to have such a devastating diagnosis."

These comments remind me of when Kael was in ICU a few years ago, recovering from a major aortic repair. From his nurse, "WOW, they really filleted you open!"

Come on people..If you are in a health care field, let's try and be a LITTLE positive.

So thankful for my family, encouraging friends, medicine that helps me feel much better and the blessings God showers on me each day.

I'm hoping to come up with a witty come back. Any suggestions?

Monday, March 26, 2012


In the latest WORLD magazine, an article quoted the Journal for Medical Ethics, which recommended "after-birth abortion" or infanticide of babies born, who were a burden to their families or when "government pays for their care." WHAT???
The Journal editor Julian Savulescu stated, "If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible."

Under their criteria, I'm sure two of my children, Kael and Layne, would had been recommended for after birth abortion. Kael was born with a significant heart defect that has required multiple corrective procedures. At no point, however, has he been a burden to us. On the contrary, he brings us great joy and is a blessing to every member of our family.

Layne was born prematurely, unable to feed, failure to thrive and exposed to multiple drugs and alcohol in utero. I'm sure she would fall into the category listed above and YET, she is such a complete gift! There isn't a day that goes by in our house, that someone isn't loving on her or getting love from her. We were told to expect a child who would never learn, never know the difference between right and wrong and never smile. OH YEA? I don't know many other six year olds who can multiply, do long division, spell and read at the fourth grade level, smile continuously and be loved so well by so many. She has this effect on know, the kind of effect when teenage boys forget that it isn't cool to hang out with little kids and decide instead to hang out at our house because of LB and our other little guys. She has this effect on people that melts them to the core AND has them consider things they've never thought of before..ADOPTION...

The Journal of Medical Ethics has it completely wrong. Life is a gift, both in utero and after the child is born. I am so thankful that God has chosen to place each child in our home that call us Mom and Dad. LIFE is good.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The cake

I haven't made a birthday cake in two years--that's right two years. Instead, my kids spend weeks planning just the right cake for each birthday in our house. I've posted some of the creations before, but Gavin's cake two weeks ago TAKES THE CAKE!! lol

First, I need to provide a little background.

Mike loves Star Wars, and always has. This love has been passed on to every one of our kids. Now that the Clone Wars is easily downloadable, we could have Star Wars playing in our home nightly. It's an amazing thing, everything (in our kids' eyes) in our lives could relate to Star Wars in some way. I bet George Lucas never knew his clone factory would be used in a dinnertime conversation to explain the Industrial Revolution and the start of factories in our country.

I appreciate Mike's ability to relate to the kids in a relevant way (I don't seem to have this gift, especially when it comes to Star Wars).

When it came time to plan for Gavin's cake, Janika made several preliminary sketches. I really didn't know what to expect with the finished product, but she certainly didn't disappoint. She spent over 6 hours designing, baking and beginning the decorating process. I think the Cake Boss would have been proud. Her trusty helpers (EVERY OTHER SWEENEY, except for Gavin, who wasn't allowed near the kitchen) took over when she collapsed on the couch--talk about pouring yourself into a project! Mike and I came home from St. Louis to this masterpiece:

As I've said many times before, our Gavin loves well. He brings such joy to our lives. This Mama was thrilled to see all of the other kids putting so much work into his birthday cake. I am blessed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Time to return to blogging

I remember last October, talking with Elli, Janika and Kael and telling them I thought God was preparing us for something big. I wasn't exactly sure what that was (something with Summit? a health problem with one of our kids?) but knew we needed to start spending more time in the WORD. Little did I know that that "thing" was going to hit me. Until then, blogging was a way to document our life's journey, to encourage others to step out and follow God's leading, no matter what the World might say. However, since November, I have been the one needing the encouragement and haven't felt able to encourage others. About two weeks ago, one of my close friends here in Williston said she wished she had known so she could be praying for me and our family. I think that was God nudging me to allow this trial to also go a bit public.

Before Mike and the "Big Kids" left for their mission trip to Ethiopia, I began experiencing some weird symptoms: an inability to sleep, multiple infections, depression, dry mouth, dry eyes and unbelievable fatigue. While they were gone, the symtpoms increased dramatically as my weight began to drop. At this time, I felt as if I was under a major spiritual attack. Through MUCH prayer and encouragement from my family, including my sister, Brenda, I began to have a few good days mixed with the tough ones. The fatigue was a constant "friend" and I developed severe abdominal pain that lasted for weeks at a time.

My dear friends, Valerie and Terry, would give a call and say, "I just knew you needed prayer." A true blessing during a storm.

My husband would work all day, come home, take parenting duties over completely, encourage me, pray with me and start each new day all over again.. He had many long nights with me, (not acting like the spouse he has known for the past 18 years) A HUGE blessing during a storm.

My kids encouraged me, through song, smiles, cards (I think Gabe has written me a dozen cards telling me how much he loves me and hopes I feel better). These kids really are amazing. Janika took over most of the meal prep when I was too tired, with her constant army of helpers ready and willing at all times. Kael would often take over reading of the History lessons of the day. Leah would rub my back and with Micah's help, would offer to do anything for me. Layne would crawl into my lap for a snuggle. Gavin, well, Gavin just loves better than anyone I've ever met. Elli and Jani would sing for me. HUGE BLESSINGS DURING A STORM...

We visited our child at the Ranch for Kids, who is doing REALLY well. This child will get to come home for good Easter weekend!! A huge blessing during a storm.

We've CELEBRATED several birthdays, standing in awe of what God has done in each of our children. We are blessed.

We saw Kael's cardiologist in February and he gets to go one more year without further intervention..HUGE blessing in the storm. I have to brag on my boy a bit- he is one tough cookie. As he performed his stress test and his blood pressures continued to rise, he kept right on pushing, to the point that the treadmill looked like it was going to go straight up. He has taught me so much about living life to the fullest.

I have so many things to be thankful for, which helped us to continue to push for answers beyond, "You are depressed."

Thankfully, Mike has been by my side this entire time. Do you know how much I love you?? Last week, we flew to St. Louis to see Dr. Schwartz- the nicest rheumatologist in the world...He has diagnosed me with Sjogrens Syndrome, which fits every symptom I have been having. Today, I start a new medicine to try and help alleviate the symptoms I have been having and give me that extra little boost to return to life fully with my family.

During this storm, God has revealed again and again, HIS grace and love for me, through family and friends. I am forever thankful. He has used friends to talk with me about nutrition (supplementing with liquid B vitamins has completely eliminated the depressive thought and brain fog- if anyone out there suffers from these, leave a comment and I will tell you what has worked). He has used my kids to speak life into me-- who would have thought? He has used my husband to show complete unconditional love and care...He has used memorized Scripture to come up when I most needed it. He has used my sister's connections to get me into the best Dr. I could have possibly seen. He has been ever present...

So as I return to blogging, it is to be that encouragement to others that those around me have been to me. Here's my adoption plug--Had we not adopted all of our kids, I would have missed out on some of the sweetest moments of the last few months: the hugs, the smiles, the cards, the back rubs, the LOVE. My life is full.