Archive for August, 2012

  • Godcindences

    Date: 2012.08.31 | Category: Thoughts to ponder

    I wrote to a friend of mine that I met on our trip to China.  The Wong family have adopted many times from China and I really loved their family dynamic.  This family had gone back to get a little girl that had been like a big sister to the little girl that they had recently adopted.  Blythe was a sweet girl and it really gave me hope regarding adopting Lauren.  I wrote to the mom telling her of the adventure God was calling us to.   She wrote back and told me that she knew a large homeschool family that had recently been approved to bring 3 children home at the same time.  What are the odds of that?  CCAI just told me that a couple of weeks ago China had approved one family and we could pray and try to do the same.  And my friend actually knew the family.  She sent me the other family’s e-mail address and their blog.  On their blog was the following verse and poem.  I loved them both and had to share them.  (The other good news?  The are older than 50 and still adopting which means I don’t have to quit just because I turn 50.  Just wait until Dan hears the good news!)

    Isaiah 43:5   Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

    I WOULD GATHER CHILDREN

    Some would gather money

    Along the path of life

    Some would gather roses,

    And rest from strife.

    But I would gather children
    From among the thorns of sin,
    I would seek a golden curl,
    And a freckled, toothless grin.

    For money cannot enter
    In the land of endless day,
    And roses that are gathered
    Soon will wilt along the way.

    But oh, the laughing children,
    As I cross the sunset sea,
    And the gates swing wide to heaven,
    I can take them in with me!
    ~ Author Unknown~

  • Undaunted!

    Date: 2012.08.27 | Category: Thoughts to ponder

    That is how I want to live my life….UNDAUNTED!  I watched Christine Caine talk this weekend at Women of Faith and was so moved.  I want a little of that. I want people to see my passion for what I believe in. I want people to be encouraged in their lives and by being encouraged in their own lives start to help others. I want them to see how much they really truly have to be grateful for (Ann Voskamp covered that one). We have so much in this country. We are so blessed even if all we have is a little.

    For years my mom, daughter and mother-in-law have joked about me getting up on the Women of Faith stage and speaking and I laughed. What would I have to talk about?  My life to me is just that….my life.  It’s not exciting or news worthy….it’s just my life. I realize it is not the journey that most people end up on.  Although, everyone has a story.  It’s just that we spend our lives talking about the trivial, afraid to really share our pain or what is going on in our lives.   I know it took me quite a while to talk about my life story.  I wouldn’t talk about Hope’s adoption because people would comment that “You are a saint!”.  I hated that. I’m not a saint, far from it.  Who wouldn’t take in an abandoned baby and give her a chance?  Ok to be fair many people have told me that they would not have signed up to take a baby home to die, which is where we started.  I get that but if you had asked me years ago if I would have done that, I would have declared NO too!  But Kyle’s death (the worst day of my life) gave me the strength to proceed.  I had been through it once and I knew with God’s help I could go through it again. No baby should die alone and without a name.

    You never know what you are capable of doing until you are presented with it.  I finally got to the place where I trusted God’s plan so much I quit looking at what it really looked like. I realized that if I didn’t share Hope’s story, then God wasn’t getting the glory that He deserved.  Hope’s story is a beautiful story of trust and faith, which is what Hope means and why we named her that.  We went into it knowing that her life had weight (a point Angie Smith made clear this weekend) whether she lived a day or 20 years.  Her life mattered.  We proceeded with the surgery, filled with fear of the unknown, but trusting God’s will to be done.  Now she is 13 years old and a beautiful, sweet, artistic, girl.  I don’t know what her future holds.  The reality is none of us know what our future holds.  We like to think when we get pregnant all will go well, but the truth is women still die in childbirth.  We like to think our children will stay healthy and live to be at least 80, but the truth is many will die from accidents, cancer, etc.  I think we have to proceed with life forgetting the bad that can happen or we would be so overcome by fear of the unknown that we wouldn’t be able to proceed. We’d curl up in a ball and hope that nothing could touch us.

    This years Women of Faith weekend was specially designed for me.  I have been filled with fear about talking to churches about adoption.  I want to spread the word.  I want people to understand they can do something to help children.  There are so many ways and different organizations that help.  I want to spread the word about Love Without Boundaries and the story of New Hope Foundation (the people who saved my little Maisey).  The work these organizations are doing is amazing.  There are so many good organizations out there doing all they can for children.  I want to shout the information from the rooftops so that all can hear and be motivated to do something.  I think Christians want to help.  I’ve seen people come together to help others over and over again.  I think they just need to know how to help.  They need to see it and feel it.  They need to know they can make a difference.  I believe the problem remains hidden to them and if they heard it, they would respond. They just need the information.

    What will your life say when you stand before the judge?  When it’s all said and done what will you be able to say that you did for the least of these?  Matthew 25:40  I love Francis Chan’s video – it says it better than I ever could.

  • Hope is fading.

    Date: 2012.08.23 | Category: Adoption

    I think about little Lauren (Jasmine) and I want to get word to her not to give up, but I’m not allowed to send anything until we get our preapproval.  How many children are sitting there just waiting for a forever family?  How many have all but given up hope?

    I’m having a really hard time with this lately.  When I say we are adopting again, people say, “Why?”, they ask “Are you crazy?”, they ask “What about your other kids?” “Aren’t you busy enough?”. No, I’m not!  God didn’t place me on this earth to take it easy and sit around watching t.v..  He placed me on this earth to do His will.  HIS will not mine.  I’m following His leading because it has been so beautiful and has blessed my life in so many ways before.

    I truly can not tell you how much I love Benjamin and Maisey.  I can not find the words to adequately describe it.  They have fit into our family so easily.  To hear their laughter does my soul good.  To see my other children love them with their whole hearts is just an amazing sight.

    I look at Ben who just 5 months ago had given up.  If you had seen him those first few days, your heart would have broken too.  He wanted to be loved so much.  He was so full of love and little boy fun – running everywhere, so happy to have food readily available.  While we were in the hotel we would get a glimpse of the real Benjamin.  As the days went by, he would laugh more and play more.  He was so happy to be loved.  That is what he truly wanted just to be loved.  Doesn’t everyone want that?  So why is it we can’t understand a child wanting a forever family?

    I’ve said it before and I will say it probably many times more, I know not everyone is called to adopt.  Everyone, however, can help someone else adopt.  It’s expensive.  Money should not stop anyone from adopting.  If you know of someone who is adopting, help them out in any way you can.  Support them, comfort them, pray with them, be the hands and feet of Christ.

    You will be making a change in a child’s life!   You will bring hope to a heart that is hurting.

  • How will you be remembered?

    Date: 2012.08.15 | Category: Thoughts to ponder

    Max Lucado asked in his book “Outlive Your Life”

    “Had you been in Germany in WWII, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?”
    “Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?”

    He says those 2 questions are fairly easily answered because they are both hypothetical and of course you’d like to think you would have done something. I agree with that.  It’s easy to say I would have hidden the Jews, but when your own family’s lives were on the line what would you have done?

    Max also says, “We are the wealthiest group of Christians ever.  When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day when 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?”

    Hard questions.  There are so many areas that you can help.  So many people are hurting.  We have the ability to feed the poor, house the orphan, help the widow.  Why aren’t we as Christians standing up to do just that?  There are 147 million orphans.  We have 236 million Christians in the U.S. alone.  Why are there so many orphans?  Why are children dying from preventable diseases?  Why are children starving?   We, as Christians, should be able to help.   When you stand before Christ and He asks what did you do?  What will you be able to say?

    Years ago I wrote these words and they stand on my refrigerator as a constant reminder of what I want my life to mean.

    What Do I Want to Accomplish?

    “What do I want to accomplish?”  is a question I have often asked.
    What do I want them to whisper about me, years after I have passed?
    I want them to mention my faith and how every year it grew.
    I want them to mention the words, loving, caring, honest and true.

    I don’t want sins to rule my heart and mind any longer.
    I know though I am weak, my God is most definitely stronger.
    I want to turn my life over completely, why do I resist it so?
    I believe strongly in God’s plan….so why can’t I just let go?

    We are here on this earth to apply His word to every situation.
    To pass the tests He places before us and avoid temptation.
    To work on the log in our eye and not the sliver in our brothers.
    To worship our Lord with praise, putting Him above all others.

    To help the downtrodden and poor with the gifts given to us at birth.
    To stand above and not be consumed by the things of this earth.
    Father, I ask for your help, please give me wisdom and grace,
    So I can hear “well done, faithful servant” when I first see your face.

    – Lisa Ellsbury

     

  • Laughter

    Date: 2012.08.13 | Category: Adoption

    I am, on most days, a very happy person.  I wake up joyful.  I go to sleep joyful and I am happy to get to live my blessed life.  I love to laugh.  I think it does your soul good.  When you are filled with laughter, when you can laugh at yourself, when you can laugh at what life throws your way, you find contentment.  Because little things don’t matter, some days are hard, people make mistakes, mean words get said, but love of family and friends is what truly matters.  Trusting in a God that is in control frees you up to not worry about trivial things.  To be truly content you can’t take things of this world all that seriously.  I think God wants us to understand that.  I think God gets humor.  I think laughter is a form of praise.  When we can look at a situation and find humor in it and not let it ruin our day, you are in fact saying, “God you are in control.  God your way is right.  Satan throw at me what you might, but I will still sing with joy to the Lord!”  Richard Exley said it well.  “We can hug our hurts and make a shrine out of our sorrows or we can offer them to God as a sacrifice of praise.  The choice is ours.”  Take that hurt or trial and offer it to God.  It is a form of praise to laugh at what life throws your way and trust in what God has planned.

    Which is why I truly think God laughs*.   I know that is assigning human emotions to Him, and that simplifies it. I know that God is much more than that, but I think He has to think like a parent and I can tell you that I laugh daily at the things my children do.   I believe God sees us trying to control our world or obey what He is calling us to do as we work frantically to put our own parameters around it.  Little tiny yes, buts….  and He has to chuckle.  He has to be saying, “Child, if you could only see what I have planned for you…but okay you just keep thinking that.”

    Just the other day Dan and I drove around.  We were having an in-depth conversation about how many more we were going to try to adopt. I have to add here that many people think I talked Dan into adopting.  It was Dan that fell in love with Hope.  It took a year from when he asked me to consider adopting again for me to say yes.  Many have heard me say that it wasn’t until I read Mary Beth Chapman’s book “Choosing to See” and read her question-“Is it better for a child to have an older mother or no mother at all?”- that I finally agreed that God was indeed asking us to step out of our comfort zone and adopt again.  Age had been the only thing holding me back.

    When we were heading home from China, I knew we were supposed to go back again.  It made no logical sense, but I knew it to the core of my being.  Dan, however, looked at me and said, “No!”… and it was a pretty emphatic no.  I never said another word about it because if there is anything I know about how God works it’s that if it is meant to be, God will work on Dan’s heart.  I don’t need to say a thing.  I trust and go about my business.  A few weeks later Dan told me that he was thinking maybe we should adopt again, but only one this time.  A few weeks later he casually mentioned in a conversation that “When we go back to China  we should….”  A few weeks after that he was talking about how good it was when we got two last time because they had each other and we should do it again.  I laughed.  God is so good.

    We’ve been reading the blogs of many other very large families.  Blogs that are so moving, many of which I’ve shared on my Facebook page. These blogs were sent to me when I needed them the most.  I love how God does that.  He sends you just the right tidbit of information that helps you move forward.  Anyway, we were discussing the fact that we had to be careful about an older child because we had to protect our younger children.  Unfortunately, many of the children that are older have had trauma.  You have to be ready to deal with that hurt and sometimes they lash out at others.  I’ve seen families have a fairly smooth transition, but I’ve heard about many who have had to really work through things. Not that I’m afraid to work at something.  I just need to be sure I can be all that I need to be for someone.

    We discussed how many more we could truly handle.  We discussed how many is too many?  Does anyone really know?  I’ve heard people say one is the right number or two or ten.  As a family, how do you decide?  We decided to just follow where God leads. He’s done it 3 times before.  I wish I could truly explain what it feels like when you see a picture of a child and have your heart just ripped out of your chest.  You know it is your child.  We have felt moved to pray for many, many a child.  We have seen thousands of pictures of sweet, little faces and been moved, but there is something different about certain children.  I’ve had to say no before.  I’ve prayed about a child and known it wasn’t right. I’ve also felt a tugging and prayed and prayed for a forever family for a child and celebrated when that came to be even though it wasn’t us.  But sometimes you see a child’s face and you know your life is going to change.

    I was reading a Love Without Boundaries blog and saw a little girl’s face. As I said, I’ve seen many faces before but when I saw the sweet face on this little thirteen year old girl in a wheelchair, my heart just hurt.  I read the blog as tears flowed down my face. I went to the bathroom and cried so no one else knew I was crying.  I was so moved by her story.  I was so touched by that sweet face, but I remembered Dan and my conversation.  We had decided no older children so I prayed and prayed and prayed for her all day.   I saw someone else ask about her on the Facebook page.  I read about how everyone who had met her said she was just so sweet and they couldn’t believe she hadn’t been adopted yet. I wondered why some children with sweet souls don’t ever get chosen?  But I didn’t say a word to Dan because we had made our decision.

    That day was Dan’s birthday and I was on the computer.  He walked up to me and had tears in his eyes.  I asked him what was wrong.  Why was he upset?  He sees and hears many sad things with his job.  It is not unusual for his heart to be touched by some story, but still for him to be visibly upset I knew something was really wrong.  He said, “I need you to look at this article.” I figured it was going to be another story of heartbreak and I sat there as he pulled up the story on the same little girl.  I asked him what was wrong and he said, “I know what we said, but I think we need to look into adopting this little girl.”  And I laughed out loud.  It was just so funny.  Dan looked at me like I was crazy.  He was upset and I laughed. I finally explained what had happened to me earlier in the day with the same little girl and we both laughed.

    This is how I know God has a sense of humor.  We say, “I’ll do this, this, and this, but not this” and God says, “No, my child you will do what I call you to do even when it doesn’t make sense.”   He sends you these little things to test you.  Now I don’t know if this little girl is supposed to be ours or if her story is supposed to make me tell it so that others pray so she finally does find a family or if God just laid her on my heart as a test to see what I would do.   I’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out, but I’m telling you God says, “Don’t put limits on what I ask of you.  Don’t tell me that this is not right. I will tell you what is right. I will lead you.  Your job is to just trust and follow!”

    *The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Psalm 2:4

    You can read about Lauren on the Love Without Boundaries page.    http://www.lwbcommunity.org/laurens-last-chance-for-a-family

  • Seasons of preparation

    Date: 2012.08.07 | Category: Adoption

    Looking back now I can see all of God’s handiwork.  I can see how every pain, every surgery, every tear cried, every disappointment, even Kyle’s death, led us to where we were meant to be.  If you count Dan’s 16 years of training and his 11 years working at Mercy, that is 27 years of training for where God has him now.  If you would have told us 27 years ago what Dan would be doing now we would have laughed or maybe even told God I don’t need 27 years to prepare me.  I’m sure I’m ready now.   We always think we are ready to just dive in, but God’s timing is perfect.  God’s plan is perfect. God uses tests to prepare you for what is ahead.  God takes you through seasons of trials so you can learn the lessons you need to learn.

    When Dan was in medical school, we always thought he’d have a job at Blank. That was our plan.  Get through medical school and move back closer to family.  Medical school and residency were hard years, but I always had that belief that there was a job waiting for him.   We had a child at home, who was trached and on a ventilator, add oxygen, suctioning every hour, and numerous machines going off all through the night and that equals many, many sleepless nights.  Then for fun add Dan in medical school, a job on the weekends and a newborn and it was just hard.  That is why I find it funny when people mention how hard it must be to have little children at my age.  Now my life is easy (well, relatively easy).  Dan works from home during the week.  Cassie and Zach help out.  I can call my mom or Linda (my mother-in-law) and they will be here in an instant to help.  I have many, many resources.  I can actually get out of the house, alone!  I know.  I know.  SHOCKING!  🙂

    So I’ve been through hard. This isn’t hard!  Loving a child who was abandoned – NOT hard.  Taking a child out of an orphanage and giving them a home – NOT hard!  It is a blessing to feel those little arms around my neck and hear them yell mama.  I’m blessed in ways too numerous to mention.  I have a 4 year old that prays and thanks God for his mama with a loud and resounding AMEN at the end.  He runs up to me, yelling mama, waving his arms, and throws himself at my leg, hugging me and saying I love you.  Things we take for granted aren’t taken for granted any more.  I’m not making light of the cost of adoption or the time spent filling out paperwork or any of the multitude of other things that can happen with adoption.  I’m just saying in the grand scheme of things we waste tons of money throughout our lifetime and there are many, many more difficult things in life.  Making a difference in the life of a child is not hard!

    As I said we planned on Dan working at Blank.  But sometimes God’s plans aren’t our plans.  Dan wanted to teach residents. He loved teaching.  But the job at Blank wasn’t to be.  They tried hard to make a job for him at the University of Iowa, but they could only give him limited NICU time and he didn’t want that.  He was offered a job at Mercy.  He was so disappointed because they didn’t have residents so he wouldn’t be able to teach.  It was a hard first 6 months, but then something amazing happened.  Mercy was bought out by a national company which runs NICU’s throughout the nation.  A few years later Dan proposes an ROP project, he believes in it so much that he trusts God and pushes ahead with the plan.   This leads to a part-time associate director job which then leads to his Director job.  He gets to work for a national company, teaching thousands of doctors across the nation and the world from home.   God knew and Dan followed where he was being led even though he had no clue what was ahead.

    I stand in amazement daily at how God has molded Dan into the man he is today.  I watch how Dan works with his clinical and quality improvement job.  He just thinks differently.  He can see something that is not working and find the simplest way to fix it.  He was uniquely made to do what he does.  He knows first hand what it means to not turn off a machine on your child who is deathly ill.  He knows what it means when you tell someone their child will be physically or mentally impaired.  He also knows that doctors predictions aren’t always correct.  That no one is God and you can’t always save everyone.  He knows how important it is to follow protocol and prevent infections. (Almost every time Codey had his shunt replaced he ended up with meningitis.)  He doesn’t take it personally if a parent is upset because he knows first hand what lack of sleep and worry can do to you.  Dan is uniquely qualified to do what he is doing.  Together we have been through a lot.  I wouldn’t want to relive those first few months when we lost Kyle and Codey was just so sick.  It hurt. My world was turned upside down, but I see now what God was doing. I see a glimpse of his grand plan.  I can see a few of those threads of the tapestry that will one day become so clear.

    I know if I hadn’t gone through those things, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.  I wouldn’t have a faith as strong as I do.  Those lessons taught me that I can take in a baby not knowing if they have a month, a year or 10 years because I know every day counts.  Every life matters.  Every life has worth and value.  It taught Dan and I that you have to pay attention in the hospital, things get missed, no one is perfect, and you are ultimately responsible for your child.  Don’t assume anything.  And most of all, make every day count.  Tell the people you love that you love them.  Forgive, forgive, and forgive some more, because in the end you don’t want regrets.  Being right is not the most important thing.  Having the most toys is not important.  Faith, family and friends is what this life is all about.

    I learned that I don’t want a quiet retirement.  I don’t want to wait for a bingo night or a study group.  I want to spend every day busy doing exactly what God has called me to do.  I want to have to rely on God for my retirement because I was too busy spending money on sponsoring orphans and paying for surgeries.  (Yes, I am still smart enough to put money in my 401k). I want to be so worn out that I haven’t had a moment to rest.  Yes, I did say those things.  It is exactly the reason I am praying that I will have 5 kids under the age of 5 when I am 48.   It’s exactly the reason why I will follow wherever God leads me even to China.   I am not afraid of this world or what it might bring.  I am so sure of God’s plan that I will follow no matter how afraid I am that I will lose again because I know it won’t hurt forever.

    I have watched things unfold with Dan and his work in regard to China.  There are things in plan with Cure Hydrocephalus that are amazing.  God’s handiwork is unbelievable.  Everything interweaved and working together from years ago to now.  We have a heart for children hurting from hydrocephalus because of everything Codey went through . We understand the pain. We understand the agony from shunt infections and blockages.  We know how important this is.  It is truly wonderful to see something beautiful come out of all of Codey’s pain.

    If you are going through something right now, remember that there is a reason.  It may not make sense right now or even in 10 years, but if you are being tested there is a reason.  Seasons of preparation for lessons God wants you to learn and where He needs you to be.   Try to figure out the lesson you need to be learning whether it be patience, forgiveness, working on your anger, bitterness, contentment in any circumstance, but know that sometimes it is just to help you grow to be the person He needs you to be.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…..

     

  • Happy Birthday Zachary

    Date: 2012.08.05 | Category: Zachary

    Sometimes in life something that scares us to death, turns out to be the best thing in the world that has every happened to us.  Twenty-four years ago today was that start of a wonderful blessing and that blessing was Zach.

    I was so afraid when I found out I was pregnant with Zach.  We were still in the hospital with Codey.  I thought I had the flu and someone in the NICU asked me if I thought I could be pregnant.  I laughed and said, “No, we are taking precautions.”  – which meant I was on the pill, I took it every morning without fail.  I could not even fathom what being pregnant while having a son still in the hospital would mean.  We were barely scraping by the way it was.  There were times my mom showed up with food and I was so grateful.   When you can’t afford toilet paper, you know things aren’t going especially well.  We were living in married student housing at Drake.  Dan worked weekends at the hospital.  I worked temporary work at law firms downtown.  Temporary work allowed me to miss if I needed to be with Codey, which happened fairly often.

    I remember the PICU wanting to call the news station to do a story about Codey and the fact that he would celebrate his first birthday in the hospital without having ever gone home.  I thought there was no possible way that a news station would want to do a story about this subject.  Boy was I wrong.  So there I was in all my pregnant glory, about 5 months along.   There was no hiding the fact that I was pregnant. I remember being so nervous and so upset because everyone sitting at home would wonder what in the world I was doing.  I know I would have wondered the same thing about someone else.

    Everything felt overwhelming.  We had no money.  We had to figure out what to do about a car because when Codey was able to come home we would have a ventilator, car seat, oxygen, suction machines, apnea monitor.  There was no easy way to get all of that and a second car seat into a car.  We had no idea what we were going to do.  We could barely afford groceries, not to mention medical bills, special formula, g-tubes, suction tubes, trachs, and now we were going to add on more diapers and formula. I tried so hard to trust in God’s plan but it really didn’t feel like there could possibly be a plan at that time.

    Codey went home for the first time at 14 months.  It only lasted a few days.  Codey was in and out of the hospital a lot the summer of 1988.  Then on August 4th, Codey was admitted to the hospital again.  The nurses in the PICU asked when the last time Dan and I had gone out.  We laughed.  They asked how many more weeks I had with the pregnancy and I said five.  A couple of the nurses who did care at our home were on that night and since Codey was admitted for something not overly emergent, we decided to actually go see a movie.  We trusted these nurses and were as comfortable as we could ever be with leaving him.  We laughed while we went out about having babysitters for Codey and it was too bad I wasn’t farther along.  Don’t every laugh about what could be….while at the movie – my water broke.   (That was a fun one to tell the theater manager.)  🙂   Zachary was on his way.   Ready or not!

    From the moment he was born, we knew he was different.  Zachary was being examined by the nurses and he arched up on his shoulders and his heals and flipped himself over on the warming table.  In all the deliveries Dan has been at, he’s never seen it happen again.  Zachary was the sweetest baby and he was such a comfort to me.  It was hard to not hold Codey all the time and do the normal baby things.  It was hard to lose every dream for Kyle and to have to start dreaming new ones for Codey.   Zachary healed so many of those hurts.

    Zachary and I were home alone a lot with Codey while Dan was in medical school.  I couldn’t go out and see friends.  I rarely got out of the house except to work my midnight to 6 shift on the weekends.   I was isolated so Zach and I kept each other company.  He was the funniest boy from the very beginning.  He asked questions way above his age level.  He questioned everything and we would talk about everything.   People would look at us like I was crazy with the way I talked to him, but he understood way above his age level.  When he was two he asked me why the sky was empty and it took me a while to realize that he meant there were no clouds.  When I miscarried before Cassie, Zachary held my hand and comforted me and told me that God had a plan.   I remember thinking you are three you are not allowed to be more mature than your mama.  He even quoted scripture.  When I was pregnant with Cassie, he kept asking questions, until I explained exactly how it happened.   I remember constantly calling Dan and saying what do I do Zach just asked me this question and Dan would laugh and say give him the answer but don’t give him more than he needs to know.  If he wants to know more, he will ask.  He asked questions and more questions and even asked to see pictures until he understood it all.

    When Zach was four, I drove a paper route in the afternoon with all the kids in the van.   I had to have a job to be able to afford a car and it was the only job I could do with all three kids.  We would drive around and sing rhyming songs and do math problems.  Zach loved to do math problems.   We sent Zach to school for kindergarten because he really hadn’t been around a lot of kids.  We thought even though he was way ahead, it would do him some good to be around others.  In first grade he would come home crying because he was bored and they would only let him add and subtract to 12.  The teacher finally gave in and had a 6th grader come make up problems for Zach, but Zach got upset because the 6th grader would make a mistake and get mad when Zach corrected them.

    I really had no idea that Zach was as bright as he was.  I thought every child was like this.  We took him out of school to home school him when he was in 4th grade.  Zach loved learning everything he could at home.  He dreamed of being an engineer.  We found out about the Belin Blank center in Iowa City and Zach was allowed to take the ACT in 6th grade.  He scored a 24 and beat 99% of the smartest kids in his age group.  I remember being blown away and thinking how is that even possible? Because I truly believed he was just a regular kid.  In 9th grade he scored a 35 – an almost perfect score.  He started getting college letters from MIT, Stanford, all over the country.  He has a binder of all his letters and where did Zachary go to school?  Iowa State.  Why did Zachary choose Iowa State?  Because they had a good engineering program, it was 40 minutes from home, and I was pregnant with Gracie.  He didn’t want Gracie to grow up and not know him.  Zachary chose to live at home and drive back and forth to Ames.  Zachary has always chosen family over what the world thinks he should do.  Many of Zach’s friends gave him grief about living at home, but he always said that coming to the door and hearing Gracie yell his name made it all worth while.  It happened again this past year when Zach found out about Benjamin and Maisey.  He was doing an internship at EA Sports and he turned down a job offer with them to come home to get to know his new siblings.  He said flying home once a month wasn’t enough.  He wanted to know them both, but especially with Benjamin’s heart and not knowing what was going to happen.  When Grace got sick, that cemented the deal.  Grace and Zach have always had an extra special bond.

    Zachary is such a sweet, compassionate soul.  He is fun and jokes and loves playing games.  He is kind and quiet, and so very, very bright.  He is just truly a wonderful man.  We would talk about what was most important when he was growing up.  My number one goal as a parent was his salvation.  My number two goal was building his foundation as solid as I could so he could be strong and handle whatever life threw his way.  We called this MOIH – growing to be a Man of Integrity and Honor.  Zachary is that and so much more.   I couldn’t be happier to have him as a son.  He has blessed my life in ways too numerous to mention.  I look forward to seeing what his future is. God has plans for this boy and I love watching them unfold.  Someday he will make the best father and husband and I look forward to the day he finds his soul mate.  I have been blessed over and over again by this child who was not planned – at least not planned by me – God knew exactly what he was doing.  As always, God’s plan is perfect!

  • Fun Friday Photo (silly edition)

    Date: 2012.08.03 | Category: Photos

    Silly children.

    Silly Maisey

    Sticky frog.

    Hospital hugs

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