I bid Adieu...

Sayonara, adios, it's been swell...

This is a farewell letter from my computer to yours.

While I have enjoyed blogging over the last year or so, I really don't have a heart for it anymore. I'm pretty sure it's the craziness of life that has become our norm, or maybe just the fact that I'm lazy and don't want one more thing hanging over my head reminding me that I need to get busy...either way, my bloggy days are over. Most of you are my Facebook friends anyway, so you get to see all of our family pictures and hear of the fun antics that take place. If you're not my Facebook friend, then add me! :)

Thanks to all who have been with us from the beginning, especially keeping up with us when the girls were in the hospital and for the prayers you gave through that time. Our family has grown and changed so much since then! So, until next time...i.e., Facebook, email or telephone call, I'll take a cue from Ryan himself....

Manne. Out.

Wisdom of a Three Year-Old

While driving to church with Jake last night, Cole had some great things to say. Here are a few stories:

Before they left the house...
M - "Bye, Cole, I love you."
C - "Bye, Mom, I love you too. Make sure you call your mom if you need help!"

While driving past Cole's doctor's office...
C - "Dad, did you know Dr. Sud blows bubbles?"
J - "He does? Can I blow bubbles?"
C - "Yep, and then you can be a doctor!"

J - "Cole, I love you so much."
C - "Why?"
J - "Well, you're my son and God made you."
C - "Yeah, and I was broken but then God fixed me."
J - "When were you broken?"
C - "You know, I was broken! But God put me back together."

The sweetness....I have no words.

SUMMER IS HERE! Where's my Tylenol?

This posting has absolutely nothing to do with this picture of Hayden. I just think it's so darn cute and wanted to share it with the world...well, the very small fraction of the world that reads this blog!

This is a post of the "see ya' later" fashion. Going through our calendar the other morning, I discovered that our family has a total of two to three days at a time throughout the whole summer that we are together, just the five of us. Between missions trips, family reunions, garage sales and bridal showers, we are making six trips back and forth to Michigan between now and August...starting tomorrow. Throw in some visits from friends and family heading down our way along with our youth group events and VBS, and you've got one busy summer! We keep laughing because Cole has seen a different person every day this week - so glad he loves people and that all of these people love him so much!

We are super excited because on the schedule for tomorrow is a birthday breakfast celebration for Jake, a play date with all of our church friends at the park, and then off to my parents' for a visit and to wait for my new little niece to arrive on Friday (Heather is scheduled for an induction - I can't call 'em that closely!). Saturday we are going to my Grandma's apartment complex to enjoy their annual pig roast before heading home to prepare for our kids' ministry Sunday morning. My aunt, cousin and her girls are coming for a few days' visit on Monday and Jake gets home from his trip that night too. Give us two days of normalcy and hit the repeat button.

While things are crazy, I do have some projects that I'm going to attempt as well. They include painting the girls' bedroom, painting our living room, making and trying out cleaning supplies (window washer, Oxyclean, pre-wash spray etc.) and laundry soap, making more strawberry freezer jam and reading a good book here and there. I'll let you know how those things turn out! Hopefully, I'll have something more thoughtful to write the next time I'm on here. Even with no words, you can be sure I'll post pictures!

Hope you're all having great summers!



Compassion/NOOMA Video

Dear Jake,

I tried this year to put together a nice card for you, but, as you know, time just didn't allow. However, I didn't want this day to go by without recognizing you for the great husband and the great dad that you are.

We have been through a lot when you look back a year ago and I am so thankful for the progress that we've made. It's amazing to me to think that this time last year, we just brought Maurah home from the hospital and we were trying to figure out what life looked like as parents of a 2 year-old and 3 month-old premature twins. Easily said, it was craziness. In that time, we were also still trying to figure out what we looked like as a husband and wife who had basically been separated for five months. After almost five years of marriage, we found ourselves trying to figure out our roles again and how we worked with each other, for both of us had definitely changed in our time apart.

As I said before, I'm so thankful for where we are now. I really believe that our kids have the best dad ever. Did you ever think that, at the age of 26, you would be a father of three with one on the way? We definitely have gotten more than we bargained for at such young ages. As stressful and tiring as it is right now, I can't tell you how much I love being on this journey with you. I can't imagine changing diapers, wiping faces and trays, disciplining tantrums or healing owies with anyone else. I am so blessed for all you do for me, especially getting up every morning with the kids and allowing me to sleep in a little bit and do my devotions so I have more energy and a proper perspective to start my day with them. I love watching you with Cole and how you're willing to take him to work with you every now and then - he loves getting that special time with you at church. The girls have you so wrapped around their fingers already, and it's so sweet to watch them want to get in on the wrestling fun that you and Cole enjoy together. You are such a hands-on dad that is so rare to find these days. Our kids are encouraged by you to express themselves and you don't hold back on loving them - giving them kisses and hugs, high fives and words of encouragement. You are building a foundation for them already to grow and have confidence in themselves, and most importantly, you are seeking how to best raise them to know and love Jesus. You are a blessing for our family. I am excited for us as we welcome this new - and last (lol) - baby into our lives and we continue on the journey that God has brought us to. I look forward to every day of it being with you by my side, my only teammate who knows exactly what our life is really like and who is so faithful.

So, from all of us, we love you so much and are so glad to have you as our husband, father and leader of our family. God has richly blessed us with you! Happy Father's Day!

The Tale of Despereaux

We have entered a new phase - the one with imaginary friends.

The other night, we were privileged enough to have Despereaux the mouse stay at our house. He ate dinner with us and everything. After dinner Cole asked if he could have a popsicle for dessert with Despereaux, to which Jake said that Despereaux could have one, but he had to eat his in the freezer because he is such a messy mouse. Oh, the creativity!

The drama of the night was Despereaux falling off of the balcony off Jake's and my bedroom, onto the deck below. We tried everything to rescue him, poking window shade sticks through the rails and all, hoping we could reach down far enough for him to grab hold and climb up. Eventually, Cole resorted to running downstairs and opening the door to let Despereaux in because his faulty mother dropped the stick onto the deck on accident. Yeah, Indiana Jones definitely won't be calling me for any help!

Despereaux participated in story time and read our Bible stories and said his prayers with us. Then, I tucked the boys in - Cole with his head on his froggy pillow and Despereaux on his truck pillow. I have to say, that having Despereaux with us Saturday night was actually pretty enjoyable for all of the family. As long as Cole's friends continue to be as nice as he was, I don't mind them coming over at all.

Oh, I just had a thought - I hope Cole doesn't tell his friends at church that they'll have to eat in the freezer if they come to our house. Oops!


Well, I've done it....

You've been with me on this journey and you may not have even known it....

I have simplified!!

Let me tell you, this has been a huge undertaking for me. After hours and hours - so many, I'm ashamed to think of what I could have been doing - of trying to give my blog a personal facelift, I've decided enough is enough. So I went into my settings today and picked a blog background from blogger itself - not the most creative things out there, that's for sure!

For some reason, though, I'm just trying to rid myself of clutter. And, for me, my blog was becoming clutter because it was never just how I wanted it to be. So, thanks for bearing with me through all of my changes...I assure you, it should stay this way for quite a while! I can't make promises, but I keep telling myself that life is way too busy and moves way too quickly for me to be spending so much time on html!! You can call it nesting, spring cleaning, whatever - I just hope you like the new and simplified Manne Family News!

Happy Sunday to you all! I hope you have had gorgeous weather like we had today!

This Is Great!

For all of you moms with younger children out there, I just found a great website that can help give you ideas to incorporate the Bible into everyday life. It's called Hubbard's Cupboard and has wonderful resources. I just planned an entire three weeks of things I can do with Cole. The best part is, it's only three days a week for an hour a day, so it's very manageable. Check it out!

Also, I'm still waiting for more comments on my previous post. Come on, ladies...I know who you are and I'm WAI---TING!!!!!


My heart has been so full of conviction tonight, I can't even tell you!  The Lord is definitely doing a work in me and I wanted to share it on here 1) so that you could maybe take something away from what I'm learning and 2) so that I hopefully will not forget as quickly as I might if I don't write it out.

It all started with a blog I read written by a woman whose husband is a youth pastor - she has four kids, I'm on our fourth - life pretty much lines up for us!  So when she wrote of how busy their summer was and how they had so many "fun" events they got to go to, like graduation open houses, pool parties, "fun" youth group events, etc., I really knew what she was speaking about.  Summers around here are the busiest we get!  Then, she wrote of how her 4 year-old son said he didn't want to go to anymore parties because "Daddy is there, but he can't be with me."  Ugh.  Knife in the heart.  Thankfully, I think Jake and I do a pretty good job at still being with the kids while we're also doing our ministry duties of visiting and hitting every grad party known to man.  Still, that resonated so clearly with me and I thought, "How often am I here, but not really with my kids?"

This may sound funny, me being a SAH mom and all.  But me just being in the house doesn't offer much to my children.  Me doing laundry while Cole plays with his Star Wars or me cleaning while the girls crawl around and giggle is not necessarily me being present in their lives.  I know these are everyday chores that I can't necessarily get away from, but what about my timing?  If I'm honest, sometimes I start cleaning solely for the fact that I don't have to get down and play.  That statement is really hard to leave in this post because I know how horrible it sounds; but what good is this if it isn't real?

Tonight in my devotions that I missed this morning (I'm sure now it was on purpose!) I read about Hannah and the promise she made to give Samuel to the Lord.  Most of us are very familiar with that story and I usually skim over it since I can pretty much repeat the gist of it.  But it's in the details that I find Hannah evermore amazing.  Most likely, Samuel was three years old when she took him to the temple to give as her sacrifice to the Lord.  When he got there, this little boy knelt down and worshiped God.  Amazing!  Cole is three - - - if he were to to kneel and give praise to the Lord, I would cry profusely with great joy.  Beth Moore recounts the scene like this:
"A tiny three-year-old boy, still with creases of satiny baby skin around his plump little thighs, bending his knee and bowing before El Elyon, the sovereign God of all creation.  How precious this child must have been to God.  How in the world could a child that age have such respect for the God of the universe?  We get a clue from Hannah's prayer of praise found in 1 Samuel 2:1-10...'There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (v 2).  
Samuel learned faith from his mother - a woman whose faithfulness evidenced her faith, a woman with compulsory praise on her lips.  She met painful sacrifice with a song."

I so desperately want to be like Hannah - a mother who was so present in her son's life and a mother who constantly presented the Person of God to her son, ever since he was just an infant.  Her faith was unwavering.  I can't imagine taking Cole to a temple and leaving him to be raised by a priest.  I am thankful that God doesn't ask me to do that.  But God does ask me to lay my children at His feet.  God does ask me to be a warrior for my kids, praying for them and fighting for them, especially at these vulnerable ages when they can't fight the enemy themselves.  I want my kids to look at me and say, "Mommy, I'm so glad you were there" and that the word "there" means so much more than just a physical presence.  I want them to think of our Heavenly Father when they think of me.  I want so much for them that I feel so incapable of giving.  So I'm thankful that I can look to God and find my strength in Him.  I'm thankful that each day is a gift from Him to start anew - to be better - to be a brighter light - to be a more present Mommy.  

I don't know if this resonates with any of you, but - if anything - this post can help me stay accountable to you all who are reading this.  For you other mommies, how has God spoken to you throughout the years (whether it's been half a year or 30)?  I'm so thirsty for more parenting wisdom, so don't be shy - leave a comment!

Welcome Home, Maurah!

Yesterday was Maurah's homecoming anniversary. It seems funny to me that we've only been a complete family for a year because I can't imagine my life without both of these girls in it. I remember the day so vividly. My sister and brother-in-law were visiting, it was Adam's birthday, and we got the call that we could go and get our little girl...the last time we would have to visit the NICU! I rushed to throw myself into some clothes, not even showering. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses commented on how I looked, since I always tried to look at least somewhat presentable. However, this day, I was not taking any chances and wanted to get Maurah out before anyone could change their minds! It makes me laugh now, thinking how silly I must have looked in my green running shorts, pink and white tye-dyed t-shirt from my Senior year of high school and flip-flops. Not my finest fashion moment!

We were getting ready for the Senior Banquet that we hold for the seniors in our youth group every year (exactly what Jake and I are getting ready for right now!) and I got to bring both of my daughters with me, surprising the families in our church who had been praying so hard for us. I'm so sad because I don't have pictures of Maurah's actual homecoming. I was in such a rush to get her, I left our camera at home so we purchased a disposable one at the store - which Cole knocked into the pool on accident once we got home. Still, we have some great pictures from her first "formal event" at the Senior Banquet.

Maurah Kate, it is such a joy to have you with us, right where you belong. So many things are lovable about you!
  • I love how you raise your head to the ceiling and giggle - solely for the purpose of giggling!
  • I love how you shove your entire hand into your mouth when feeding yourself, missing most of the food, but looking so silly with Cheerios or cheese stuck to your face in the oddest of places.
  • I love how you walk around on your knees since you're not incredibly proficient at walking yet - but crawling just isn't for you!
  • I love how, when you do muster some steps, you hold your arms up in the air, cock your head back and stick out your tongue, concentrating so hard.
  • Your tongue! You make the cutest faces with your tongue hanging out of your mouth and you love the fact that you make us laugh with it.
  • I love how you bear crawl on the deck so you don't get splinters in your feet.
  • I love watching you knock down towers we build and the joyful laugh it brings.
  • I love how your hair is wild and never stays in one place - much like its owner's personality!
  • I love how you snuggle in the morning.
  • I love how you say "Dada" and "Mama".
  • Even though it's not nice, I love watching you mischievously steal a toy from Hayden - you are so sneaky!
  • I love playing "Bumblebee, Bumblebee" with you and hearing you giggle from the moment the "bumblebee" makes its appearance.
  • I love how you poke and pull at Dad's facial hair.
  • I love how you suck your thumb only when you're sad.
  • I love how you "dress" yourself by draping clothes over your head and all around you.
I can't believe it's been a year - - - I love my little Bear!


A Big Thank You!
While I wanted to be sure and write about Hayden's homecoming, I forgot to mention the details of my birthday weekend.  Honestly, I think it was the best birthday I've ever had.  I am overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and family, and the gifts and time they gave me for my special day.  Really, I had a whole birthday weekend!  My sister and her family came Friday night and we all ventured to Lincoln Park Zoo on Saturday morning.  Honestly, this could have been enough because going to the zoo with my kids is my absolute favorite thing to do and it was that much more special having the Roszkowskis there!  The kids were amazing - I think they really had a blast!  We ended the day with a cook-out of my favorite kind - burgers - and Heather made me a really yummy cake that I ate way too much of.  But hey!  It's my birthday, right?

On Sunday, Jake surprised me with good friends of ours coming over for yet another cook-out and some fun card playing.  Again, another one of my absolute favorite things to do!  Scott and Shelley made an array of homemade yumminess while Jake grilled all of our main dish - more meat!  We haven't had a get-together with these friends for quite some time, so it was another special event to have.  Between gift cards, sweetly sent birthday cards from family and friends, "just for me" gifts, a pedicure and manicure gift certificate and an awesome summer purse, I've been way too spoiled for my own good!  But the best part of it all was just the love and fun I shared with so many great people.  I am blessed!

And the biggest news...

We are adding another GIRL to our family!  Jake and I got to see the little peanut again yesterday and she is definitely a GIRL.  Jake turned to me and said, "Can you imagine when they're 14, 14 and 13?"  I said, "You think you'll have it bad, but do you know how girls are when they're those ages?  They're not mad at they're dad, they're mad at their mom pretty much all the time!"  Trust me, I was one of those girls.  I know these things!  

As much as we were secretly hoping for a boy, we were surprisingly not disappointed when we saw our little girl.  Cole, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.  We've been preparing him this last month or so since he would have to share a room with the baby if it was a boy.  He knew the baby's name we had in mind and everything.  Yesterday I said, "Cole, the baby in mommy's tummy isn't a boy, it's a girl."  He said, "But where's Christopher?"  Before I could say a thing, he said, "Did he turn...did he turn...I KNOW, Mommy!  Did he turn into a butterfly and fly away?"  


Now, what would you say in that situation?  How do you explain to a three year-old that Christopher does not exist and in fact, he never did!  Well, as any good mother would do, I nodded my head profusely and said, "Yes, honey, that's exactly what happened!  And now we have a girl!"  "Oh, okay!" said my satisfied toddler as he ran away.  I'm wondering how much therapy bills will be...

If you could keep us in prayers as we near the middle of this pregnancy, we would greatly appreciate it.  Issue that arose when I was pregnant with the twins are happening again, so we are a bit concerned about whether or not I'll end up on bedrest again.  Honestly, we just can't do it with three kids.  We need a miracle!

We are still working on a name for our little GIRL, so stay tuned! 

A Year Ago Yesterday...

Hayden came home for the first time!  

While this weekend has been a celebration of my birthday, I've been thinking more about this time last year and what a different place we are in.

Hayden, when we brought you home, you were still so teeny tiny.  The first sixty-six days of your life were spent in a hospital, fighting off infection, heart murmur, weak lungs and a whole lot more.  From the very beginning, you were such a fighter.  You still are!  When I see your spunk and the attitude you give when you don't get your way or when Maurah is taking a toy from you, I am thankful because that is exactly what got you through those rough days.  You seemed so frail, yet so strong.  And look at you now!  There are so many things I love about you and how I've gotten to know you in just this last year.

  • I love how you lay at our feet like a little puppy dog when you want to pick us up.
  • I love how dainty you are when you eat, taking each bite one-by-one - definitely not the way a typical one year-old eats!
  • I love the dimples in your elbows and knees and the one little dimple that appears in your cheek when you're really happy.
  • I love your high-pitched squeal of delight.
  • I love how you sneak over to the T.V. to push buttons and then leave us with a mischievous giggle as you crawl away.
  • I love how you snuggle with your elephant to go to sleep.
  • I love how you wave bye-bye.
  • I love how you say Da-da and then say Mama by tapping your hand to your lips and blabbering.
  • I love how you love to wrestle.
  • I love how you're our "little mama" who snuggles baby dolls and worries when real babies are crying.
  • I love how you like to show how strong you are by putting all of your toys over and behind your head.
  • I love how your hair wings out only on the left side - much like my own, I'm afraid!
  • I love your big brown eyes and how you scope out strangers with them.
  • I love your serious face.
  • I love how you splash in the bath and spray everyone with water.

Look at how far you've come!  I just love my Bady-Boo!!!

Fickle, Meet Faithful

This last Sunday we had a bit of a scare with my pregnancy. Without sharing the gory details, things just weren't the way they were supposed to be. Jake was at one of our youth fundraisers washing cars, and I was at home with the three kids. I called the hospital to let them know what was going on, wondering what I should do. They recommended that I come in. After many back and forths of getting a hold of Jake, finding someone to watch the kids, etc., I was finally in my van, driving to meet my husband so we could go to the hospital together. Thankfully, once we got there, we learned that everything is fine. Things weren't feeling the way they were supposed to, but they were where they needed to be and that was the key. I was sent home with nothing to worry about...a much happier Mama indeed.

Now, the part of the story that I really want to share is what was going on between God and me in those few hours. Here's something I wrote in my quiet time only days before...

"I pray that 2009 will be a year where You help me grow in my faith like I never have before. Transform me from the inside out and bring opportunities to share You with those who need You. You are so worthy. You are enough! Strengthen me, Lord. Chip away my weakness. Mold me, break me, do whatever You have to do to get me in a constant position of giving You all the praise."

My prayer on paper ends here because I stopped and started praying silently to God that, even as I wrote those words, I was scared that praying those things would give Him the place to take away this baby. Call it superstitious, and really, if I'm being honest, that's what it is. I confessed that to Him, and He knows where I'm coming from. It's just that, after last year with the girls, I don't think I can take the thought of losing a child. We came so close with them and, in my head, I justify that we've been through our pain and we don't deserve any more. Crazy thought, I know! It's just that I have this little fear instilled in me that I will lose a child of mine. Never before have I been a worrier, and I still am not to this day...except for this little thought.

So, in those few hours of fear on Sunday, you can bet that I was so quick to disregard my prayer. In my defense, I did at least fight to not have the thoughts I had. That's a start, right? But how quickly I turned my back on God! The One who I professed was enough. Enough means "occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations." Not only does God meet my needs, He meets my expectations! When things are going well for me, I am quick to say that He surpasses my expectations. But as soon as things are looking grim, I start to question whether God really is Who He says He is.

Thank goodness God isn't fickle like I am. For I am surely not enough for Him - and yet - I am. Another part of my prayer during that quiet time was...

"Lord, I want to be someone who is fearless for You. I want Your Word to be so hidden in my heart that I can't help but have my mouth speak it. I want your light to be visible in me. Lord, help me. I am so weak. I'm frustrated because I've let my faith be watered down by culture, laziness and petty church issues. I don't deserve You saying, 'Well done' to me. And yet, Lord, in spite of myself, You love me. I don't want to forget this and turn it into beating myself up without recognizing Your mercy and grace. For the first time in a while, I see how I really don't deserve You. But You still call me."

God is so good, isn't He? He says to us, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you" (Isaiah 49:15). Again, He promises, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Thankfully, God doesn't change His mind like I do. James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

So, all of this to say, that I'm going to make an addendum to my last journal entry. That, not only would I grow this year, but that my faith in my Savior would not be a shifting shadow. That it would be firm and steady, recognizing God for Who He is always - even if He so chooses to take a child of mine. This is difficult for me to even write, but God is so worthy. He deserves my all and my very best. If you've made it to the end of this lengthy entry, listen to this song...one of my favorites and definitely one of my prayers.

Pearly Whites and Awful Fake Tans

This precious little three year-old had his first dentist visit last week. Amazingly, he did really well! I warned the nurse that we didn't have anything special for comfort, since Cole has decided that nothing is good enough. (Really - I gave him a dog we got him for his first Christmas to sleep with one night when he was having bad dreams and do you know what he did? He threw the poor thing off of his bed and said, "I don't like that dog!" The nerve!) The nurse assured me he'd be fine and then told me that they would just use me as his object of comfort. Hence, I sat in the dentist's chair with Cole on my lap, excited that he had the chance to choose a toy from the treasure chest because, "Then I get to be a PIRATE! I want to be a pirate when I grow up!"

A mother's dream.

We were able to leave the dentist's office with no screaming and no tantrums. An answered prayer? You betcha! His chosen "treasure" was a cheap plastic tractor, which broke only 5 minutes after we were back in the van. Thankfully, he didn't sail around the world and hold anyone captive in order to get that piece of junk!
Now....this precious one year-old is Maurah. This was the day I decided to let the girls eat Spaghetti-O's by themselves.

Never again.

By the time the girls were done, it looked like we had given them horrible spray tans. Think of the Friends episode where Ross had a spray tan and teeth whitened way too much. If you think that's funny, you should see it on two little babies!

Just look at the contrast of these pictures though. It gives you a good glimpse into the personalities of the girls and how vastly different they are already. Maurah, covered in her spaghetti-o's and her tray empty...
...and Hayden, with just a slight glow of a goatee and a tray still full of food. It absolutely cracks me up when I watch these girls eat. Hayden takes small bites, one by one, while Maurah grabs a handful and slams her hand into her face, catching whatever she can in her mouth. They're just hilarious. Actually, I'm supposed to be setting up a dentist appointment for them too...

Note to self: Do NOT eat Spaghetti-O's on that day!

Dinner Chat

Tonight at the dinner table we had a conversation that went something like this:

Jake: "Cole, what does Mommy say?"

Me, thinking to myself: "I love you, honey."

Cole, speaking: "If you hit Hayden one more time, you're gonna' hav-a sit in time-out!"

All my hopes dashed in a three year-old's brutal honesty. Although, he's right - I have to say that about ninety times a day. There was a bright spot when Jake asked, "Who says, 'I love you, honey'", and Cole did reply, "MOMMY!" I guess there's hope for us yet!

Thank You, Oprah

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that Jake and I are passionate about a cause called Invisible Children. A couple of weeks ago, I posted that we were planning on attending an event called The Rescue. This event's purpose was to bring awareness to the United States citizens, many of whom don't even know what is happening on the other side of the world. Advocates wore Invisible Children t-shirts and basically did peaceful sit-ins in the middle of large cities all around the U.S., waiting for large profile people to show up and make the awareness even greater. Once that person came, they were "rescued."

Jake and I made a last minute decision that it wasn't smart for us to attend this year, first, because I'm pregnant and wasn't sure how long our city (Chicago) would be out there. Jake was going to go on his own, but ended up having to stay to get some last minute work done. We kept track online, watching DeVos "rescue" Grand Rapids, MI and big name actors take over other large cities. John Kerry even sent one of his advisers to represent him and his support. The last city left? Chicago.

At first, I was so disappointed in our celebrities and government officials. Why couldn't they just make an appearance? Are these kids not worthy enough for them to lend their name to? After almost a week of sitting in the rain, sleeping in parks and parking garages, the group of 500 advocates for the children in Uganda finally got what they wanted...what they needed. They decided to march to Oprah's studio yesterday morning where she welcomed them and wanted to hear their story. Then, she invited them onto her show! If you watched Oprah at all yesterday, you saw the Invisible Children guys first thing. This is the event Jake and I so badly wanted to go to! All I could think, after I had been so frustrated all week, was that God must have had a plan in this. What better way to get exposure in the United States than to be on Oprah?

If you have a few moments, watch this video and you'll get the gist of it all.


I can't tell you how exciting this is and I am hoping so desperately that the millions of Oprah fans will make an effort to find out more about how they can help these kids be truly rescued from the evil hands of Joseph Koney. I would encourage you to check it out and do the same. When I hear the stories, I can't help but think of my own son, so if it helps you to have a bit more compassion, try and think of what it would be like if this was life for your OWN children. For some reason, people just become numbers when they're on the other side of the world. We need to start seeing faces if we're really going to care and do anything. Really, can you not give these kids a few minutes of your time and just read their story? I've posted the link all throughout this post, but here it is one last time:

I LOVE Days Like These

I'm just full of pictures today! We took the kids out right after breakfast this morning to enjoy this wonderful weather right from the very start. Yes, they're still in their pj's...don't judge! :)

Hayden in her swing for the first time...loved it!
Maurah loved the swing too....giggles galore from her!
Cole finally got to play with the water table friends gave the girls for their birthday. He's been asking, "Is it sumner yet?" So, today, he got a taste of what summer will be like and he loved it!
We are dressed for the day now! Hayden lovin' on Mr. Penguin.
Her uh-oh pose!
What a big girl!
Maurah and her serious pose.
Now we're a bit too excited!
Miss Maurah, very proud of herself for climbing into her carseat all on her own. These girls are the sweetest, funniest girls I think, and of course I'm not biased.

Jake and I were able to just sit outside and play with the kids while enjoying each others' company. Mornings like these could happen every day and I wouldn't get sick of them!
We are having a rest time now, awaiting the arrival of Grandpa and Grandma who will stay with us this weekend while Jake is on a Men's Retreat with church. I can't wait to go back out with the kids and enjoy the rest of this glorious day!

Remember that crazy weekend we had?

I meant to post a bit about our weekend last week. Because I'm sure I've forgotten most details already, here's a picture story with a few of the highlights.Since we were going to be downtown for the day, we thought we'd take the kids to the zoo for a quick run through. Thought we were creative and could get the free parking since we were so early both for the season and the time of day....Wrong! It was packed! But we had a great time seeing leopards......and lions......a funny little girl who kept poking her head around the stroller to see us......and another little girl who wasn't that amused with it all, but still looked so cute.The BEST part though, was meeting up with friends. Here we are at Moody - Stacie, Katie and myself. Oh, how I miss these girls! I think we just LOOK like we belong together! :)


...do our neighbors decide to work on their house with very loud drills and saws right when the girls have finally fallen asleep?

...do I have a book highly recommended to me called "Mastering Motherhood" setting on my nightstand, unread because motherhood is completely taking over my life and mastering me instead?

...does Cole ONLY spill chocolate milk when he's got his nicest outfit on?

...does the process of organizing only create a larger mess?

...does my hair flip out when I straighten it and is flat as a pancake when I curl it?

...does Cole use the toilet very well, yet still insist on wearing a diaper?

...does my 3 year-old take a 3 hour nap and my 1 year-olds only sleep for an hour (even when my neighbors aren't creating all that racket!)

Just some thoughts I've come to lately. Are they irony or lessons to be learned? I think I'll stay tuned....

P.S. - I'm totally not complaining....these are things that really boggle my mind! I know, I know, I need a hobby...

Update #2

Colleen and her family arrived at U of M to find out that the liver was too big for her. So, no go! They are all back at home now, waiting to hear on the availability of more organs. She has been assured that she is #1 on the list as a recipient, so the wait should not be long. Please pray for the family of the man whose organ was too large, as they are in grieving at this time.

Update on Colleen

Colleen is having the surgery sometime this afternoon. They got the call around 7:30 this morning that organs were available for her. The entire family is on their way to U of M. Please continue to keep them in your prayers through this rollercoaster of a day. Every single prayer is so greatly appreciated.

Ok, so I do have one thing...

I forgot that I wanted to mention something very important before I sign off for a bit. My best friend's mom (Colleen) is on the transplant list at U of M to have a double transplant of liver and kidneys. It's been just over a year ago now that Colleen's colon up and died randomly one day and she has been battling liver and kidney failure, plus a whole slew of other infections since last spring. Her life has hung on the line many times, but the Lord has decided so far that it is not her time to go Home.

The odds of her surviving the surgery are 50/50....not exactly the odds we were hoping for. However, as Anne (my best friend) said, she's beaten the odds every time thus far. 99% of patients in the world who are septic, as Colleen has been, don't make it. She is in the 1% in the world of patients who have. In just a few weeks, she went from 82 pounds to 112. Really, it's amazing that she's at the point she is, finally being well enough to be placed on the transplant list. She is one of the top five recipients waiting for organs, and the transplant could happen as early as tomorrow, if organs that match become available.

Could you please keep Colleen and her family in your prayers? She is an amazing believer who has given so much for people her entire life. I can't imagine my life without her, as she truly has been another mom for me. Specifically, here are some requests:

1) That Colleen and Roger and the rest of the family would have a peace as the impending surgery approaches. It's pretty scary knowing the day that someone could be leaving you forever, so nerves and anxiety are running pretty high.
2) That Colleen's body would make it through the surgery itself and also that her body would not reject the organs
3) Prayers for the donor's family would be appreciated too, seeing how they had to lose someone in order to give life to someone else

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). I love that God wants us to come to Him. He wants us to invite Him into our lives, our pain and our fears.

James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and He will come near to you." I pray that the Moerdyk family will feel the presence of God as He wraps His masterful arms around them during this time. Thank you for any prayers lifted up. I love that, as a community of believers, we can draw together, miles apart, and be united in the communion of saints. There is nothing more beautiful.

I will be sure to post updates as they become available.

Home? What home?

We are gearing up for some very busy days ahead. Here's just a rundown of our calendar the next few days:

Church pictures in 2 hours.....yes, I should be getting everyone ready!
Tomorrow we are meeting dear friends downtown for an early lunch, attending volleyball games played by a couple of our students and then heading to church for a fundraising dinner and meeting.
Saturday Jake's parents are heading our way on their trip home from Alabama...this won't really make us busy, but it's still something to look forward to!
Sunday we have church from 9-1, then a leader's meeting at our place (I'm hoping I don't have to prepare food for this one!) and then Jake and I are attending a Shane & Shane concert which I am SO excited about! They are performing with Matt Maher (sp?) who God has blessed enormously at leading worship. We have a babysitter and all.....like I said, SO EXCITED!!

All of this to say, you will most likely not be hearing from me for the next while, at least until I recover. However, this has to guarantee some good posts for next week, dontcha' think? Have a wonderful weekend yourselves, my friends!

I Am....

The Secret Life of Bees. Lots of language to move through, but a story hasn't sucked me in like this in a very long time. I am in LOVE with this book!!

Dum Dum suckers - Root Beer and Cream Soda to be exact. They're a great treat when I'm having a craving I can't fulfill!

feeling so much better than I have been and being able to enjoy my kids and even the daily tasks around the house. It's amazing what a little bit of energy can do!

the Gospel of John for a study I'm leading with some students and how not to be a wallflower - our young mom's study at church by Angela Thomas. Both are great catalysts to growth!

about how to be a better mom, having more patience and taking the time to TEACH not just INSTRUCT. There is a difference, especially in the eyes of a 3 year-old!

about my kids who are so darn cute and learning more and more things every day. I love how Cole is growing in his knowledge of Jesus and also his convictions of right and wrong already. He's corrected me so many times on not saying "hate" and has also told Jake and I that we need to speak nicely to each other when we're in....well....a "heated discussion." I'm thankful for our little "voice of conviction".

warmer weather - even when it's raining. If I see snow before next October.....

a way-too-expensive-but-way-better camera. I NEED it! No, really, I do. I'm still convincing Jake of this, but I'm starting to save my pennies and hoping he'll come around by the time I've got the cha-ching!

my mind is so scattered lately the farthest I can plan ahead is our menu for the week!

how blessed I really am. It sounds sort of boring, but God is working in our family in so many wonderful w
ays that I can't even describe. We're in a great place right now and it's nice to be able to say that!

So.......your turn!

Addendum to the Former....

Just in case ya'll were wondering, my due date is November 1st. I've had so many people ask me before I knew and was going to write it in the earlier post, but it got lost in all my excitement. Funny what a competent cervix can do to a girl, huh?

Easter Pics

Good News!

I received wonderful news at my doctor appointment yesterday. I first went to have an ultrasound to see where the baby is measuring and whether or not my cervix is doing what it should be. (Recap: The reason I went into early labor with the twins is because my cervix was considered incompetent, measuring way smaller than it should, allowing them to push their way right out.)

First, we watched the little peanut on the screen, and it was hilarious to see how active a 4 cm baby can be! Yes - 4 cm. That's all it is measuring right now! And I could not believe that, at 4 cm, this little guy has fingers and toes already. All of its body parts are in place, they're just developing more and more with each day. The funniest part is that the baby basically has its own trampoline in there as it bounced up and down on its head, kicking its little legs in the air. The tech (who remembered me from the twins) and I had a nice little reunion, enjoying the kicks and turns of this new little bean. It was so nice because this is the tech who performed the ultrasound the day Hayden kept kicking Maurah in the head until Maurah finally swung herself around and kicked back. So, I definitely have a special place in my heart for this particular radiologist. :)

Next we did the trans-vag (a favorite for every woman, I'm sure) to get a cervical evaluation. She kept saying that she couldn't get a very good picture which worried me because I thought this might be a sign that things weren't as they need to be. However, when I spoke with my RN in the doctor's office, she told me that my cervix is measuring at 5.75. The doctor wants anything 4 or higher, so I'm quite a bit above that! (With the twins, I measured 3 or less from the very beginning). I don't have to go back until 4 weeks from now - which is a miracle in itself in high risk pregnancies, as I'm there almost every other week - and they'll do another ultrasound and cervical evaluation. If my cervix is still measuring well, I don't have to have a cerclage put in (the surgery I had to hold my cervix shut) and my chances of having to be on bedrest plummet. Praise God! I had nerves up to my throat the entire drive to the hospital and God is answering every prayer that I've laid at His feet for this baby. One thing I learned from the situation with the girls is that you can never pray enough for your kids.....and this baby is definitely benefiting from that!

Here's a big thank you to everyone who has been praying for us too. Really, my biggest fear has been that I couldn't carry another baby well and that my body is just totally depleted. At this point, however, it looks like we went through what we did because there were two last time. All I can muster to say is thanks be to God!

Disclaimer: To those of you who are offended by me calling the baby "it", I realize that this baby is not an "it" or a "thing". But writing he/she, him/her, etc. gets really hard after a while. So until we know the sex of this baby, please forgive me. :)

Easter Woes and Joys

I've got the nostalgia bug today.

Let me start by saying that most Sundays are difficult in our family. The kids are thrown way off of their schedules because of us having to attend both church services and we usually find ourselves rushing out the door with exactly 20 minutes to be to church. Those twenty minutes in the van ride are usually spent making sure the girls aren't ripping out their barrettes or losing their socks and shoes, remembering as we pass a Starbucks that I haven't had a lick of breakfast, wondering if we have our Bibles and reassuring Cole this whole time that he will have a wonderful time at church seeing all of his friends and learning about the Lord.

Once we are parked, it's a race to replace the missing socks, shoes and barrettes, grab everyone's different bags and sippys, and attempt to walk in heels (for me, not Jake, of course!) across our parking lot, looking graceful with our own huge lot. Another race ensues as we greet church family while trying to maneuver them at the same time and placing our kids in their appropriate rooms for the morning. Once they are settled, we make a dash for the youth room to do our morning study with the teens.

This Easter Sunday really was no different. Except....it was Easter. From what I remember growing up, Easter Sunday wasn't a sprint out the door for my family. I remember having time to find my Easter basket, which Dad so sneakily hid, and to get to go through my new treats. I remember getting all dressed up and having pictures taken with my sister and Mom and then one again with my sister and Dad. We drove a half hour or a little more to church where we would always sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today as the choir processed and then spent the rest of the afternoon having an Easter dinner at Grandpa and Grandma's, where aunts, uncles and cousins would usually join us. We had rousing Easter egg hunts and we got a whole other set of family pictures there, showing off our Easter dresses (well, I was showing off, Heather was more putting up with it!).

So, this morning, as we were again running late getting out the door and thinking about setting up for pie sales we've had the students fundraising, it hit me that we hadn't gotten a family picture and that we had no where to go once out of church, except back to our home. (And, in my cynicism, I knew we weren't going to sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today! What can I say? I'm a sucker for tradition!). In the midst of families who were preparing for their afternoon feasts, all dressed up in their Easter garb, I received comments like, "You're lucky you get to go home and just relax." Funny, isn't it? How all I really wanted was to have the exact opposite? So, in my usual fashion before God gets a hold of me, I sat in my self-pity that I didn't get the roast in on time for us to have an Easter dinner and that I was going home to an empty house save for the five of us who are here every day. Easter wasn't going to be special.

And then I kept hearing, It's not about them. It's about Me. If you can't be joyous in My resurrection without other people, then you're not thankful for Me. I'd love to tell you that at this second my attitude turned right around, but, sadly, it didn't. However, it has caused me to be thinking all day. Easter is special because of Christ and the victory He had over death. It isn't about a ham dinner, family visits or even the special clothes we wear on this particular Sunday. Those things aren't bad, but do we miss the purpose of this celebration in all of our plans?

Jake and I have decided that we'd like to try and make an attempt to be able to celebrate Easter with family in the coming years and somehow try to bridge the three-hour gap on this holiday. I have to admit, I'm already excited about that. But today I'm praying that I will not lose sight of what Easter really means; how Christ is enough for me and how He longs to celebrate His resurrection with us, even if we're in our jammies and our Easter feast is PB & J.

Christ the Lord is Risen Today! Alleluia! All that matters is that He is rejoicing with us. That makes Easter special.

Invisible Children Meets American Idol

Check out this post from the Invisible Children blog. He's got my vote too!

Jake and I are hoping to attend the Rescue in downtown Chicago in a couple of weeks. Check out the website for full details. This is such a huge issue that needs attention, so I'm going to try and get word out as much as I can too. I know evil is rampant in this world, but I have to say that I've never seen it in one person as much as Joseph Koney. Unfortunately, as much as I love my country, it seems that we're not interested in stepping in since they don't have anything to offer back to us. I hate to have that attitude, but Congress is aware of this genocide and is not doing much. We need to pray that the efforts that are given will be enough to end the war and get these kids out of this cruel reality.

Mumble Jumble

I am tired. So, So Very, TIRED. Why is it that you forget what your body goes through being pregnant, even when it was only a year ago that I was in this position?

Unfortunately, I don't have the privilege of sleeping whenever I want to. Oh, sometimes I miss the days of being pregnant with Cole! How easy that was! And yet, I foolishly took that for granted as I think all first-time moms do. All of that said, forgive me if this post is scattered all over the place.

In other news, Cole has decided that this baby is a boy (yay for us!) and that his name is AJ Leto (both of his cousins' names). When asked what he'd name it if it's a girl, he decided on "Leto Lady". Has a nice ring to it, dontcha think?

Cole is into really deep thoughts now that he's 3. Not sure if it's just him or if it really is his age, but it's fun to watch him work through life issues. We've been going over the real meaning of Easter and he can tell you how Jesus died on the cross, they put Him in the tomb and after 3 days He "rose to Heaven!" (shouted very emphatically) and that He's still living and is coming back to see us! Then, he runs around and shouts, "Hooray! Hooray! He's coming back to see us!" Isn't childlike faith one of the sweetest things you've ever seen?

Then, while sitting outside of a Quizno's the other day, no conversation going on, I hear from the back of the van, "Mom, do we belong here?" To which, I dumbly said, "Like, in front of the restaurant?" "Well, just here. Do we belong here?" So then we carried on a conversation about how God made us to live on this earth until He calls us to be with Him in Heaven. Isn't that interesting? I am loving this part of his little mind and how he is treasuring knowledge about God and all that He has created. It's really such a privilege to get to talk with him about these sorts of things. I hope conversations like these never fade away.



I have been trying and trying to get a personalized look to my blog instead of the standard formats that blogspot offers. And now, you are seeing, my very own created header! Seriously, I've spent hours trying to do this and I finally figured it out a bit.


So, tell me - do ya like the new look?

Disclaimer: As you can tell, I like to change our look a lot, so don't be surprised if it's totally different in a few weeks, especially now that I have an idea of what I'm doing! I can in no way commit to one color. But hopefully this one will stick around for a while.

NICU Reunion - Forever a Part of Us

Today was a really special day where we went back to St. Margaret Mercy Hospital and visited our NICU nurses and doctors in their annual reunion. It was so nice to see the familiar faces who walked with us as we watched Maurah and Hayden fight to be strong enough to come home. After 80 days total of pretty much every day with these people, they became an incredibly important part of our lives. We were told a few times how the nurses were especially looking forward to seeing the twins and that warmed my heart so much. Not only are they special to us, but we remain special to them as well. Here are some pictures from the day and then I've included the thank you that I wrote to the nurses and doctors, just to show you how deeply the feelings run.Dr. Kakkera (the twins' doc), the Mannes, Dr. Ojomo (my doc whom I told that I am paying him a visit tomorrow - one of my earthly heroes!), and Sue, a wonderful NICU nurse
Laurie (holding Hayden) - a wonderful nurse who, incidently, reminds us a TON of my Aunt Jean and Linda (holding Maurah) - my angel nurse, who, as you will see in the note played an enormous role in our time in their unit

Dear Dr. Chandra, Dr. Kakkera and all of our NICU nurses,

This letter comes so belated. While we finally got adjusted to the new size and schedules of our family, the holidays were upon us and my desire to write you kept getting pushed off.

I can’t believe that in just a few days, our girls, Maurah and Hayden will be turning a year old. So much of that is due to you all and how you cared for them for the first three months of their lives. As I look at them now, it seems like a dream that they were ever in the hospital having health concerns. Many people we come across comment that they would never be able to tell that the girls were preemies. I consider that a huge compliment and encouragement!

Dr. Chandra and Dr. Kakkera, thank you so much for your skilled hands and the way you treated Jake and I. I appreciate your straight talk, given with much care and tact. You both never left me with unanswered questions and always tried to make sure that I was given some hope when the girls, particularly Hayden, were at their worst points.

To all of our nurses – I wish I could name you one by one, but this letter would never end! ☺ Please know that I will never forget you and the love that you gave to my girls when I wasn’t able to. Even now, a year later, tears fill my eyes as I think about all of the time that my babies didn’t have their mom. I know they won’t remember it, but it was such a difficult time for me. I couldn’t have made it through if I thought they weren’t being loved. And I’m so thankful to all of you that you do that – you don’t just take care of the babies’ health needs, but you love them too. I hope you know how much that means to us as their parents! My best days were coming in and having our nurse that day be so excited for the progress the girls had made overnight. You were our cheerleaders, giving us strength and encouragement in the hard times.

I have to say a special thank you to Linda, who let us hold the girls for the first time, on Cole’s birthday and who also did a fun photo shoot of the girls, washing their hair and finding out that both of their heads were filled with tiny little ringlets! Both of those days I will forever hold in my heart.

Also, thank you to Janet for being such a rock of support on the day that I broke down. Hayden had been incredibly ill, my milk supply was non-existent, and I felt like I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing. You just looked me right in the eye and told me to dig way down because I had the strength it took to continue on for the girls and be there for them when they needed me to be.

I want all of you, from daytime nurses to nighttime nurses to the doctors to know how much I love you all and appreciate you! I feel so blessed to have been transferred to St. Margaret’s and to have my girls in your care.

Here is a picture of them from Thanksgiving time. They are getting so big! We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your families and we look forward to our reunion with you!


Megan Manne

The Word Is Out!

We've been waiting a bit to share, but since our church family now knows, I'm ready to post to my bloggy friends - I will type this very slowly, so you don't fall over in shock. The Mannes are expecting the sixth member of our family to make his/her appearance about seven months from now. Simply put, I'm pregnant.

Yes, it was a surprise. A BIG surprise. Like, gargantuan in size.

And yes, I've done all of the math: 4 kids under 3 1/2 years old, 3 of those kids came in 1 1/2 years, we have our own volleyball team, basketball team plus a sub, and too many people to be in a bowling league together. We've had the questions of what we'll do if there's two or more - I don't know. I'm trying to make it through with the idea that there's one, thank you very much! We've had the questions of if I'll go early - I don't know, but prayers that I would go full-term would be greatly appreciated! There's just a lot to consider this time around, isn't there?

Pretty much, we'll be having a lot of craziness just when I thought it couldn't get any worse. I'm thinking the worst part will be the beginning (just imagine a 3 1/2 year old, two 19 month-olds and a newborn all wanting YOUR attention!) and the end (when I lose my firstborn love one year, TWO girls the next and then my baby the next year). Empty nest is going to smack me across the forehead harder than I ever imagined - and if I'm saying that now, I know it will be bad once it's here! So, while I'm sort of dreading the exhaustion that has already ensued and how it will grow as the new little one arrives, I'm trying to count my many blessings - even the three who refuse to take naps! :) And if TLC wants to put us in a show so we can make millions, who am I to say no?

From Him to Us and Vice Versa

Just a little note of encouragement to take with you today:

James 4:8, "Come near to God and he will come near to you."

Basically, if you ask Him to, He will come alongside you and put His arms around you, drawing you closer and closer to Him. I don't know about you, but somedays I could just really use a hug from God. Somedays it would take a bear hug and others, just a hand on my shoulder. I received a warm embrace when I came across this verse this morning. So, just how I love to snuggle with Cole on the couch while he's watching a movie, all wrapped up in a blanket, warm and cozy, God wants to do the same with me. What a loving picture!

As you go through your day today, ask God to be near to you; to give you a snuggle or a pat to let you know He's nearby. It'll bless Him to know you want Him near.

Authentic Faith

In all of the craziness that ensued this last weekend, I never got around to posting about the conference that Jake and I attended Friday and Saturday. It was awesome! It was much smaller than what we've been to before, but I think we needed that kind of a pace/environment this year.

The first session we went to was led by the V.P. of Lifesong. This is an organization that comes alongside and gives aid to orphans around the world, even giving interest free loans to families who are interested in adopting. Think of this verse: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) Psalm 68:5 says, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

Holy cow! So, really, how many of us are following a religion that God accepts as pure? How many of us care about orphans and widows? Proverbs 31: 8-9 says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Again, where do we fall in these commands?

The statistics we were given made me sick to my stomach. I'm not able to write them all down as I would like because they're on our other computer. But there is so much going on in the world that we don't even realize. Have you heard of child trafficking? Where children are lured by being promised that they will have fine jobs and earn money for their family and then the girls end up being forced into prostitution and boys are modern day slaves? Do you know that slavery is more prevalent today than it was during the Civil War? As I write this, I just want to scream,


I think the saddest thing was only having five people sit in on this particular session. The next day, the session was canceled because so few were interested. You can bet the church growth sessions were filled to the brim though! It's very obvious, as Christians even, where our hearts lie. I was angry walking out of that room. Angry at all of us who say we want to live like Jesus and then keep striving for more, more, more. If I look at the verse from James again, I see how we've been polluted by the world to neglect the orphans and widows and to think of ourselves and our own gain instead.

Now, I'm not perfect in this either. I do happen to have a heart for adoption and I am finding that part of God's purpose in my life is to be an advocate for orphans. That's why I'm so passionate and probably coming off as rude, which I apologize for (sort of). My dream is to adopt a little girl from Thailand, where it is the highest percentage of child trafficking. How amazing to rescue someone from that life! But just because God has called me to actually adopt and He may not have called you to do that, it doesn't mean that those who aren't called to adopt can just sit back and ignore what's going on. If you feel you can, then I would encourage you to go back and read the above verses. There are so many ways to be an advocate for orphans. Just learning the facts and talking about them will enlighten people and perhaps spur them on to find out more about how they can help.

Even with my passion for orphans, I still live life with blinders on, focusing on only my kids and my family's needs. It isn't that my family isn't important and should take a back seat, but I can't ignore what's happening anymore. I've been told that we just need to "take care of our own first" - meaning, we need to pay attention only to ourselves and America. I would argue though, that I don't think God looks at us and sees America here and Haiti there and China over there. I think He looks at us and sees us all as children. He has given us the opportunity, the command - the privilege - to care for each other. Why should it be different when we cross a border line?

I'm not sure if all of this is coming together the way I hope it would. I was intending to write about the entire conference, but obviously, this is something I needed to get off of my chest. I will write about the other sessions another time and I promise it won't be as heavy! Until then, will you do something? Will you set aside the American way and go beyond yourself to see the needs of the world around you? This is the challenge I'm making for myself too. I hope I'll see you on the journey with me!

What a Weekend!

I'm worn out. I'm trying not to complain, but I'm just so worn out. Here's just a taste of what the last few days has been like for us.

  • Jake and I meet for coffee in the morning while a friend is at home with the kiddos - not a bad way to start off the day!
  • After coffee, I call my mom only to find out my dad was trying to get a hold of me to let me know that my mom had been in the ER and was being transferred to another ER's heart center. I get in my car and make the three hour trek to Grand Rapids.
  • The moment I walk around the corner and see my dad, the doctor comes out, says everything is okay and they're sending my mom home. Happy that she's going home. A bit disappointed I had driven so far to find out all was well.
  • I wanted to turn around and drive back home since Jake and I had planned an overnight trip for the next day, but was way too exhausted. Stayed the night at Heather and Adam's.
  • 3 a.m. - wake up and drive for home after a few sleepless hours, hoping I wouldn't miss my alarm. A long, lonely drive back to IN.
  • 6 a.m. - arrive home only to shower and get ready to leave in the next hour and a half.
  • And we're off to Peoria, IL - a land of nothing, I might add!
  • Jake and I enjoy some great sessions at the conference we attended. Called home to find out the girls had been vomiting and having diarrhea all day. Jake's poor mom!
  • Finish the conference and return home, hoping the girls were better.
  • Arrive home, no change with the girls.
  • Jake goes to church. All three kids are sick so I'm home with them. I realize that something needs to be done for Maurah and Hayden.
  • 1 p.m. - Jake and I enter the ER with the twins to stay for 8 1/2 hours while they were given IV fluids and having blood drawn, etc.
  • Mind you, Jake and I are totally separated the entire time since we had two patients and therefore were in two rooms. Dreadful.
  • Finally, the doctor decided not to keep the girls overnight, but to let us go home. Everyone sleeps well through the night.
  • Girls are still sick. They've only been awake for 2 1/2 hours total today and when they are awake, we're forcing fluids down them.
  • Just got back from the doctor for a follow-up appt. It's exhausting taking two babies to the doctor by yourself! The back and forth with both of them screaming......I have no words.
  • Come to find out, they might have rotavirus. Joy.
So, yes, I'm worn out. I've figured out that at least one of my children has been incredibly sick almost every day for the last three months. I'm starting to feel like we'll never be healthy again. I really can't picture it! But I know the day will come.....too bad I don't believe in fortune tellers so she could let me know when that day would be!

Alas, Lysol has become my best friend and, at this rate, I bet our friendship will last quite a while.

I Wonder What Einstein's Mom Was Like.....

I have to brag about my son for a moment. Really, it'll only be a moment, I promise.

Cole was watching Sesame Street and they showed a screen with four pictures on it - a gorilla, an umbrella, an airplane and something else I can't remember. They asked the question, "What picture starts with 'u'?" Cole shouted out, "Umbrella!!"

I was stunned. He is turning 3 in 24 days (yes, we have a countdown!) and already he's able to discern beginning sounds with his letters. It just makes me wonder what kind of a mom Albert had and if she and I would have done playdates together had our kids been born in the same century! I'm not sure about that one, but I'm pretty sure Cole will be able to take care of Jake and I in our old age and that's something to be thankful for! :)

You Just Think of This NOW??

Having lunch the other day.....

Cole: "Mom, did we get these at the doctor?"
Me: "Did we get what from the doctor?"
Cole, waving his fork in the air and aiming it at the twins: "Ya know, these babies! Did we get them at the doctor's?"
Me: "Yes, mommy's doctor sort of gave them to us, didn't he? Are you glad about that?"
A begrudging Cole: "Yeahhhhh......."

Seriously? The babies are almost a year old and he just now starts talking about where we got them? Well, needless to say, I'm very grateful that saying we got them from the doctor is an answer that suffices for now! I wonder what kind of questions will come when he's a year older....

A Cleaning Dream!

Yesterday evening the sun was shining through our kitchen window. Cole and I had been upstairs watching a movie together when he ran downstairs to see if Jake would take him outside. The next thing I heard was Cole yelling, "LOOK!! FIREFLIES!" We couldn't figure out what he was talking about, until I walked downstairs and saw his "fireflies" - or, um, little "dusties" that were floating in the sunshine. I would normally see those and think to myself, "Ugh, now I have to clean some more." But from now on, I will think, fireflies, and will be more incline to let them be. So if you come to our home and see our collection of fireflies, just know how privileged you really are. And hey! If it keeps the little guy happy, who am I to go and ruin his fun?

Mr. President

I just finished watching the Presidential Inauguration (thank goodness for DVR!). Many different thoughts and emotions struck me during this momentous occasion. Watching the sea of Americans who traveled to Washington, D.C. for this man made me wonder if there have ever been that many present at an inauguration before. I am not usually a fan of politics, and I don't typically follow government so closely as I have since this last election. However, even I find myself caught up in the emotion and the excitement of what Barack Obama delivers to our nation. Watching people in Kenya and other nations around the world and seeing the joy that even they have, I can't help but be excited that this is happening in my country, during my lifetime. Our new President gives many hope and an assurance that all will be well. Our economy will grow stronger, our earth will be greener, and nations will grow more peaceful.

As badly as I want all of these things to happen, I can't help but wonder how much we're putting our reliance on one person. I can't help but feel sorry for him, as an entire world rests all of their burdens on his shoulders, praying that he will fix it for them. Unfortunately, even I have to catch myself falling into this idealism. When I listen to his speeches and get dreamy-eyed about what our new leader will do for our country, I realize that I also struggle with looking to him to "fix" us. If my heart leans that way, even with the faith that I hold, how much more will others who have no faith lean toward that?

Listening to Rick Warren pray for our new President, I was in hope that that sea of people would truly be listening to his words - words about Jesus Christ and our hope in Him. Christ wants us to put all of our burdens on Him and pray that He can fix them. Truly, He is the only One who can make any of us better. Through Him are we able to reach our full potential. Through Him are we able to bring change to America and to our world.

Colossians says, "For by him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."

We are here for God. We were created by Him and we are here to glorify Him. This is our purpose. It's Barack Obama's true purpose also, being created by Him just as everyone of us has been. So I'm going to pray not that Barack Obama would take care of our nation, but that God would use the rulers and authorities He has put into place to allow His work to be done. America is not God's chosen nation - but we, those who hold Him in our hearts, are God's people. His chosen sons and daughters. Let's look to Him then, not forgetting that He is in charge - He is the ruler of not just the free world, but the entire universe. And that He not only rules it, He created it and He loves it.

I am hopeful for our new President and I'm hopeful for a better world. But let's find our true hope for a better world in Christ - our real Rock and Redeemer.

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...