“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~~ Matt 6:21
Storing my treasure in heaven and counting my many, many blessings this day.
Storing my treasure in heaven and counting my many, many blessings this day.
Hi, everyone. I hope you are all doing well. Thank you to everyone who has reached out just to say hi or find out how my family is doing. It means the world to me!
It’s been a busy few months for my family. I purposefully stepped away from this space to quieten my heart, press in a little deeper to hear His voice as we navigated life, setbacks, changes, blessings, absolute joy, and all the things that the Lord allows us to go through in this life. It’s been a time of being intentional to spend quality time with my family. As we graduate our first high schooler next month, I have been so mindful of just how fleeting time is. A vapor, really. I haven’t wanted to miss a single moment of just being their mom. It is and always will be my greatest calling and passion in this life–second to being a wife to the man I love.
It’s been a good season for me. A season of growth. A season of sowing, reaping, and also of learning what it means to let go. The ebb and flow of life reminds me that the only thing that will ever remain constant is the unfailing love and faithfulness of my Father in heaven. For that, I am so ridiculously grateful. Steadfast. Always! He has been so good to me as I continue to learn what it means to leave my whole life–every part of me–in His hands.
My family is doing so very well. These handsome boys bless my heart more than words can ever say. They bring us so much joy. They are growing up way too quickly.
And our precious girls are delightful in every way–each one created in the image of a Father who does all things well. They are treasures from heaven and I just absolutely love being their mom.
We have had another amazing school year and are all looking forward to the lazier days of summer. We can’t wait to have family visit from South Africa this summer–a gift for my children!
Our sweet Hasya is already five months post surgery and doing so well. She has gained back the weight she lost and continues to blossom. How she adores her daddy! Thank you for your many prayers over the past few months. We go back to her surgeon this week for x-rays to see how her spine is healing. She is such a joy to us, this little love.
I am so grateful to all of you who continue to follow our family and our unfolding story here. Sending you all my love and blessings.
Pressing on and keeping our eyes fixed on the ONE who leads us onward.
Happy Easter, everyone!
From our family…to yours.
So anyway. You know all those cute photos that I post here and on Facebook of my Terrific Trio posing all sweetly? The ones where they’re all looking at the camera and smiling?
Yeah, it’s a science, I tell you. It can take one minute…or many minutes to get the perfect shot. We laugh and make memories and I never delete the outtakes.
Because this is my real life.
And there is absolutely nothing in the world that I would change about it.
These three are joy indescribable and even when things don’t quite go the way we would like it to, they keep me smiling.
Counting my many, many blessings this Christmas season.
As I’ve been reflecting on 2016 and what God has done this year, I really do have so very much to be thankful for. Like most years in my nearly 45 years on this earth, it’s been a year of tremendous challenges, victories, highs, lows, and growth for me.
It’s been a year of learning to trust, remembering to persevere, digging deep, prioritizing, holding close, and letting go. I failed. I succeeded. I won. I lost. I tried to remember what matters most. I let go of the things that didn’t matter.
After the doors closed on two of the biggest dreams of my heart in 2015, I came into this year with such shaky faith. Hesitant. Tiptoeing around every corner. Cautious to live a life inside of a comfort level that didn’t push me beyond what I felt like I could handle. Cautious to stay in the safe space that I had created. Cautious in what I could (and couldn’t!) trust my Lord for.
I didn’t want to to walk away from something that mattered so much again.
I quit setting myself goals and buried the dreams that were still in my heart.
And I put my passions and my desire to live in that place of reckless abandon that had become so familiar over the last ten years on the back burner.
Because there’s great comfort living in a safe place–a place where risks are never taken, fear of failure overrides stepping out of the comfortable boat, opinions of others matter more than His words of Truth, goals are never reached and dreams placed in hearts by a loving Father wither away and eventually die.
Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly learning something precious again. Something I’d forgotten along the way. I’m learning that after loss, hard times, shattered dreams, failures, missteps and letting go….it’s okay to start dreaming again. In fact, God desires so much that we dream big dreams–that we trust Him for the big things. It’s been a journey of getting myself back to that place in God. That place when sometimes it’s just the quietest whisper from my heart that says, “Okay, Lord, have Your way. No matter the outcome.”
I’m in that place of surrender where I’m willing to dream big dreams…and leave the end of the story in His hands.
Even when He says no.
Nothing much gets accomplished by looking back–by wondering about what could have been, what should have been. We have to keep moving forward…trusting the God who holds the future…and allowed the past.
As 2017 fast approaches, God has been so gentle to remind me once again of His Greatness, His ability to take our meager offering and make it into something glorious. I can’t listen to Natalie Grant’s song, The King of the World, without getting tearful. When did I make Him so small? When did I put the Almighty Father in such a small box? When did I lose sight of the magnitude of the ONE who placed in me every dream, every desire and every plan that I make? I don’t know when I put limitations on the ONE who knows no bounds.
One of my precious children reminded me that very soon I will be “half way to ninety.” Gosh, if the Father allows it, I would love to see my ninetieth birthday. But I don’t want to get there limping across the finish line. I don’t want to bring my broken dreams, my fear that held me back from experiencing all that He has for me, and every plan and goal that I gave up because of fear before the Lord. No, I want to run this race that He has set before me with courage and determination.
And if doors shut, I long to walk in grace and the assurance that HE who closes doors, is faithful to open another.
Always faithful to open another.
As I look to 2017, it’s with a renewed sense of the wonder of my God.
It’s with a faith so small and a willingness so big to use every dream and desire that HE has placed in my heart for His glory.
Yes, I’ll fail. I’ll mess up. I’ll get it all wrong. I’ll fall down. But I only have to look back to see how His hand has guided me to know that I know that He is and forevermore will be…
Steadfast on the mountaintop.
Faithful in the valley.
The giver of big dreams.
“Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.” ~~ David Platt
Hasya’s recovery has not been easy. There have been obstacles and setbacks. There have been tears and giggles too.
She’s still spiking fevers and we’re constantly working to keep her pain well managed.
…one month down the road and this young lady is getting stronger every day.
She’s working hard with her most awesome PT and is very slowly but surely regaining her strength.
Today she sat (assisted) for about five minutes…which is a huge milestone!
Please would you pray specifically for Hasya’s appetite to return. We’re still having issues getting her to eat, which is not a good thing. She cannot afford to lose any more weight. We’re doing everything possible to get calories into her.
Even in the hard…He continues to be so, so good to my family.
There is so very much to be thankful for!
When November rolls around and warm days give way to colder temperatures, I start holding my breath. Some of you may remember several years ago we had the worst winter ever! We were living at a high altitude. Harper got pneumonia and ended up in ICU. Kael got the same viral stuff and landed in the room right next to her in the hospital. Hasya, Hailee and Haven all got the exact same thing but thankfully remained at home on oxygen. For two weeks, Anthony and I gave meds, sanitized, cleaned, gave more meds, checked fevers, applied cold compresses, fought against four canula lines constantly getting tangled, and forgot to sleep. It was ridiculous!
Since that time we moved to a lower altitude for the sake of our children who struggle more during the cold, Colorado months. A hard move, but so absolutely worth it. And I went on a mission to explore different options to try and keep our little ones healthier during the winter. Around that time, we made more changes to the way we eat, put our three children who have Down syndrome on a strict gluten-free diet, radically reduced dairy intake, and started looking into supplements to fill the nutrition gaps (because no matter how healthy you eat, there are always gaps). It was also at that time that I went back to school to become a certified health coach and also started studying the amazing world of essential oils, herbs, and alternative ways to keep my tribe healthy.
We’re several years down the road now. The last three winters have been so different for my family. Yes, we deal with some snotty noses here and there, and the common cold sometimes gets one or many of us. But for the most part, my kids have done so much better. And for that, we are so thankful.
Keeping my family healthy during the winter takes some time and effort. Ensuring that they are eating well-balanced, home-cooked meals and that their lunch boxes are filled with nutritious meals and snacks take a whole lot of planning. I prepare eight school lunches every morning. Some gluten free. Some regular diets. It definitely takes planning and thinking ahead. Most of the time I have it all together. And then there are the days when I’m scrambling at 5:30 a.m. to find something nutritious to send to school. Joy!
A lot of people ask me exactly what supplements we use to keep our children as healthy as possible. So I thought I would share here some of the things that work for us. Every winter I discover something new and we’re always trying different things. Hopefully it can help some other moms.
Firstly, essential oils. If you have never tried or learned about the incredible health benefits of oils, you’re missing out. For years I was a skeptic. To me, they smelled good and that was about it. It wasn’t until I read a book called Healing Oils of the Bible that I realized that there really was so much more to the nice smelling oils than I dreamed possible. It put me on a journey to reading as many books and websites as possible about the wonderful oils that date back to the Bible. Used for thousands of years, essential oils are incredible!
I have used many, many different oils and different brands over the years. There are tons! These are just a few of my absolute favorites–ones we are never without during the long winter months. If you are just starting out using oils, make sure that you only use therapeutic grade essential oils and that you know when to dilute. Some are very potent–especially on children. Some of my favorite companies are doTerra, Young Living, Spark Naturals and Rocky Mountain Oils.
First up is On Guard. I have only been using doTerra essential oils for a few months. I love them. Exceptional quality oils. On Guard is an oil we use every single day on our little ones to keep their immune systems healthy. We diffuse it into the air when they sleep and rub it under their feet. If a child has a cold, we use it often throughout the day. Here are some the benefits:
~~ Supports a healthy immune function.
~~ Is a “protective blend” which may help kill off harmful bacteria and viruses.
~~ Supports healthy cardiovascular function.
~~ Protects against environmental and seasonal threats.
~~ Is an excellent natural, non-toxic cleaner.
~~ Has cleansing properties. Can be used to clean the air by diffusing.
Young Living has a similar product called Thieves that we have used for a long time.
Lavender essential oil is one of my most favorite oils. It has so many wonderful uses. It’s one of the most versatile oils around.
~~ Can help with stress, anxiety, poor concentration, some skin irritations, bee stings, sleep problems, nausea, dandruff, cold sores, allergies, pains and sprains, wounds, high-blood pressure, headaches, etc.
~~ Diffuse at night for a peaceful night’s sleep. Or put a few drops on your pillow.
Young Living’s RC oil has been a must have for us through winter.
~~ RC may provide relief from colds, bronchitis, sore throats, sinusitis, coughs and respiratory congestion. It can also decongest sinus passages and combats lung infections.
~~ May also relieve allergy symptoms.
~~ When my kids have colds, I dilute RC with coconut oil and rub it on their chests.
Peppermint oil is another extremely versatile oil that has been around for thousands of years. This little bottle of oil can help a myriad of problems and we always have a bottle on hand.
~~ May relieve sore muscles, is known for its anti-nausea properties, clears the respiratory tract, freshens breath, soothes tight muscles, etc.
~~ We use peppermint in a diffuser at night when the kids have stuffy noses. It’s soothing and helps them to breathe.
And when those colds abound, we use Breathe essential oil a LOT.
~~ Rub on chests (diluted with coconut oil) to open the airways and relief the “stuffiness.”
~~ Diffuse at night for a better night’s sleep. I LOVE this oil.
Raven is a similar oil that we have used a whole lot of. Diffuse or apply topically.
Oregano oil is one that everyone must have in their medicine chest. If there was one oil that I would not do without, it’s probably this one. It’s been said that Oregano has benefits superior to antibiotics. Oregano is known for its super powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. We use it every day on our kids feet and when colds hit, we increase the amount.
Those are just a few of my favorites. There are many other oils that we use regularly depending on the needs that we have. I diffuse oils every day, clean with them, disinfect with them, and am always learning about new oils to try. If there is any way to avoid pharmaceuticals that come with side effects, we will.
In addition to using essential oils, we supplement with vitamins and the best nutrition available. We eat lots of fruit (especially citrus in winter) and vegetables, and I am always trying to find creative ways to get raw veggies into my kids’ diets. Hailee has come a very long way in being willing to eat raw. A few years ago she would not touch anything green, raw or crunchy. How far my Hailee girl has come!
IDLife kid’s shake is packed with nutrition, protein and omega fatty acids to fill the gaps. It’s gluten free. Soy free. Non GMO. Hormone free.
We also give our children an excellent quality multi-vitamin every day. We feed them bars that are packed with whole, raw food and an amazing amount of nutrition. And we keep them hydrated with Hydrate which contains no sugar, no additives, no high fructose corn syrup. It contains vital electrolytes, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins for healthy bodies and is sweetened with stevia. Regular juice is filled with sugar and is awful to give to children (and adults!). There are healthier options around. You just have to look for them.
In addition, we supplement with Vitamin D3 drops (which I either add to their drinks or put straight onto their tongues). Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D and should be supplementing. We use Pure Encapsulations which you can buy on Amazon.
And Vitamin C is a MUST throughout flu season. A few years ago my friend, Pam, introduced me to Lypo-spheric Vitamin C. We have never looked back! This amazing vitamin reduces inflammatory conditions associated with colds, fevers, allergies and the flu, boosts the immune system, improves the healing process (cuts, wounds, sprains, etc.), has powerful anti-oxidant properties, and a whole lot of other incredible benefits. “Liposomal vitamin C is packaged like a bodily cell so it passes through the digestive barrier and delivers the nutrient directly to the bloodstream. This has a much higher absorption rate with over 90% of the cells being bathed in vitamin C.” ~~ The Healing Power of Vit C.
We add Silver Biotics (colloidal silver) to their drinks once a day. Another awesome immune system booster. Colloidal silver is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, controls sinus infections, and can help to prevent all strains of the flu, bronchitis and pneumonia. If you’re new to colloidal silver, you can read more about this amazing, colorless, odorless liquid here.
When colds hit, Elderberry syrup is wonderful at reducing the length of the cold/flu. It’s pretty expensive in the store, but easy to make. There is a recipe in this article.
And lastly, zinc and probiotics. Zinc is an amazing immune system booster. And probiotics are essential in keeping the gut healthy. Our kids’ multi-vitamin contains zinc so we don’t add extra. We do supplement probiotics. Read the labels on your children’s supplement and make sure that they are getting enough of both.
When the cold weather hits, we start using cool mist humidifiers 24/7. The flu virus loves cold, dry temperatures and so adding humidity into the air really helps. My kids sleep with them running all night. Humidifiers plus diffusers help to keep the air clean. One day I would love to get a whole house humidifier. They’re amazing!
I hope that helps some of you who just don’t know which way to turn in the world of supplements and are trying to boost your children’s immune systems. It can become overwhelming! These are a few of the tried and tested things that we use. They have made such a difference in my children’s health.
Finding what works for your family takes time and effort, but it is definitely worth it!
“The number of intercountry adoptions to the United States has fallen by 75% since 2004, leaving hundreds of thousands of orphans without safe, stable and loving families.” ~ saveadoptions.org
Devastating! It’s truly just a heartbreaking reality that is hard to wrap my head around. The result, of course, is that thousands and thousands of children remain without families. Without hope. The consequence of that is unimaginable as teenagers turn to trafficking and suicide (10% of aged-out teenagers in Ukraine will take their own life before they turn 18, according Last Bell Ministries) as they fall into a pit of despair and hopelessness. And children who have special needs are left to die due to lack of nutrition and adequate medical attention. It’s a gut-wrenching fact!
Many will argue, “Oh, but children should remain in the country of their birth. Americans have no right taking them out of their culture.” Have they never been overseas and seen for themselves the reality of the conditions that children live in and die in? Perhaps people who voice such an opinion have not once walked into an institution where children have heads the size of large watermelons, waiting to die because they never had a simple shunt inserted at birth. Or seen the effects of children who are not fed adequately and are hanging on by a thread. Or seen teenagers weep when their friends are adopted, but they have aged out and can never, ever know the love of a family. It is absolute devastation of lives occurring all over the world.
Every life matters!
Every child has infinite value and worth.
Every child is worth fighting for!
Like Clarence. Languishing in an orphanage in Eastern Europe and desperately needing to be rescued. Some take offense when we call adoption a “rescue.” But yes, this is, in every sense of the word, a RESCUE! If Clarence isn’t chosen soon–if he remains where he is, he will surely die! That’s the tragic reality. We see it too many times in our community of adoptive parents and orphan advocates. Children die due to a lack of the basic things that we take for granted in this nation–food, medicine, and good healthcare.
Sweet little boy is just three years old and can’t weigh more than about 10 pounds. I seriously have no idea how he is still hanging on. Only by the grace of God!
A recent comparison of photos shows that he is, very sadly, declining.
He is just absolutely precious. Look at those gorgeous eyelashes! The extra facial hair is caused by a lack of nutrition. Once his body is adequately nourished, it will disappear.
Clarence has multiple special needs that may sound daunting on paper. Goodness, do I understand! I know the fear that rises up when we consider doing something that is so very far out of our comfort zones. It feels like yesterday that we read Hasya’s long list of needs. We couldn’t even pronounce some of them at the time. It was, quite honestly, terrifying to be taking on so many things that we had no clue about.
But I can tell you something with absolute confidence. A lesson in faith that we have learned along the way in parenting six children who have special needs.
He loves to use broken, imperfect, often failing, medically uneducated people like us. ALL He needs is a willing heart–a heart that is willing to take one day at a time and trust that HE will equip us along the way. Grace for today. Wisdom for today. Strength for today.
His glory shines brightest when ordinary, imperfect people step out in faith and do the seemingly impossible–when God’s people are willing to do the hard things. I love what Heidi Baker says, “God is not looking for extraordinary, exceptionally gifted people. Just laid-down lovers of Jesus who will carry His glory with transparency and not take it for themselves.”
In spite of every statistic that claims that the rate of adoptions continues to drop….Clarence…he is our opportunity to be Jesus to a child! I weep for this tiny little love. I am absolutely heartbroken for him. I know his life. I have seen with my own two eyes the reality of children just like him. And yes, it’s an overwhelming crisis and we cannot help them all. They tell me all the time. I know that. With all my heart, I know that. BUT. When God puts just one in our path…that ONE matters. To Him. And to us. If not us, then who?!
Please, please would someone prayerfully consider going to the ends of the earth to rescue this little love? Time is not on his side! Clarence desperately needs a Christmas miracle. And if it’s not you, would you please share his need on your social media? That would be such a huge blessing to this little guy!
Praying, trusting and believing that Clarence will be chosen soon. Thank you for helping me to spread the word, friends. I am so very grateful.
Anyone wanting more information about Clarence can contact Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re almost three weeks post surgery.
And this little darling is sitting in her wheelchair again. Hallelujah! For just a few minutes at a time. But she’s doing it!
It is so important for her lungs that we get her sitting as much as possible. And even though she’s definitely not a fan of her new body brace, she’s such a trooper to persevere and give it a try.
With a sweet smile too.
For almost four years we have done everything humanly possible to put weight on Hasya. When she came home three weeks before her fifteenth birthday she weighed 20 pounds. Every single pound that she has gained over the last four years has been like gold on her tiny frame. We knew that surgery would be hard. We knew that keeping the weight on her would be difficult. I weighed her this morning and she has lost a few pounds. She’s right at 40 pounds again and I am so praying that we don’t see the 30’s again. Please, God! Please pray that her appetite returns. Weight is such a big deal for this young lady of ours. One day at a time.
How He loves her!
And so do I.
With everything I have.
The past few months have been difficult to navigate. No doubt about it. From discovering that Hasya’s spine had curved to the point where her internal organs were being compromised…
…to learning that there was no way to stop it from curving farther and that gravity would continue to pull her spine causing the curve to become worse and worse—ultimately causing devastating harm.
To being told that it was a now or never surgery.
To weighing up the risks both ways.
To wrestling with the consequences—whether we said yes or no.
To hearing many, many opinions and thoughts from medical people.
It’s hard making tough medical decisions. And for us, this was the hardest one we have made so far on our journey of raising these treasures that the Lord has blessed us with. Sure, we navigate medical things all the time. That’s part of saying yes to children who have special needs. For us, it’s just life as we know it, and we are so thankful that God chose us—even in the hard times. But making the decision to do a full spine fusion on our daughter who is nearly 19, weighs just 45 pounds, has plateaued in her growth and will more than likely stay this size for the rest of her life (due to 15 years of horrendous neglect and abuse), and has many other special needs on top of severe scoliosis has been a different kind of hard.
As does every parent in our situation, we entered into this journey with open hearts and with a desire to go to the ends of the earth to discover what was best for our daughter, no matter how things would unfold.
Six months of every medical procedure under the sun to determine her eligibility for such a big procedure stretched me emotionally. There is nothing in the world that we would not do to give our Hasya the best quality of life that we could. But we needed to know for sure that it was right for her before we took one step forward. After suffering at the hands of people for 15 years, being starved to the point of near death, and experiencing more pain and neglect than my human heart could ever imagine, I truly ached at the thought of putting her through even one more thing that would cause her pain. The mere thought of Hasya suffering anymore turned me into a weepy mess.
As we inched forward and got a second and third opinion and ultimately ended up switching to a different surgeon, we were met with so many opinions from people.
“Why do it when she is so very disabled already?”
“Why do you want to try and extend her life when God has numbered her days?”
“Why do this when she doesn’t understand what’s going on?”
“She’s going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Why straighten her spine?”
On and on.
I have thought about the things that people have expressed so much over the past three weeks. I understand where they come from and why they shared. I really do. Deciding to do a big surgical procedure on a child who is disabled is honestly one of the hardest decisions.
For months we grappled with so many questions.
Over and over again.
But eventually–after so much prayer, hearing the risks both ways, and waiting for peace in knowing which way to move forward—it came down to just one thing.
Because her very life—her life just the way she is—is valuable and worth fighting for.
When everything was said and opinions were shared, we knew that there was NOTHING that we would not do to make Hasya’s life more comfortable. We knew that we would do whatever medically possible to have her with us for as long as the Lord allows on earth.
Because that’s what we would do for every single one of our other children. And Hasya is no different.
She is precious.
A gift from heaven.
A blessing worth fighting for.
Even when her life looks different to our other children.
Even when we don’t know what the future holds for her.
Even when to some it makes no sense.
HER LIFE HAS IMMEASURABLE VALUE.
As my beautiful daughter lies in her bed–her tiny body fighting extra hard to heal—my heart is filled with so much gratitude. We truly do have so much to be thankful for.
Hasya came through the surgery so much better than we (and every medical person who has been a part of her journey) ever anticipated.
Her spine is straighter than they ever dreamed possible.
She is breathing perfectly. Her lungs are functioning better than ever before.
For the first time since coming home, she is warm. Like, really warm! Her circulation is finally working as it should and her limbs are no longer ice cold.
Every internal organ is functioning as it should.
We have her pain well managed.
Her crazy long wound looks amazing. No signs of any infection which was a huge concern.
Her sweet smile is slowly returning as she’s getting a little stronger every day.
The road is definitely not easy, and Hasya has a long way to go in her recovery. Our days are full as we care for our daughter. We’ve had to make some sacrifices, say no to things that we would’ve said yes to, become more housebound and made some changes to accommodate this temporary new normal. But what an honor it is to be the ones whom God has called to pour out our lives for the sake of this child. He never promised us easy and neither do we ask for that in our lives. Only that He would be with us in every decision, in every victory and in every valley that we navigate on behalf of every child that He has blessed us with.
His presence is enough for us.
My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude for the love that has been shown to us, the meals we have been given, and the support from friends and family. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your love for our Hasya. No words can ever express how thankful we are.
We’ll continue to take one day a time knowing with steadfast assurance that His grace is sufficient. That His strength is made perfect in our weakness. And that He who holds the universe in the palm of His hand will assuredly continue to hold our Hasya too.
And if we must do it all over again…
Because she is so absolutely worth it all.
To every parent walking the difficult road of medical decisions for their child, my heart and my prayers are with you. It’s not easy. Praying that God will lead and guide you in what is best for your child. May you know His peace that passes all understanding as you wait for answers from heaven. He will be faithful to you!