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    "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." ~Winston Churchill
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    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or whether the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight of life, knowing neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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2013 Family Update – Crazy Busy Days!

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There has been so much going on in our family these days – I simply have to update you! Sorry for not manning the “Mom of Many” ship lately, but like I said, so much going on!

How about I give you a quick run-down? We’ve been crazy busy…

  1. We’ve moved to a new home where my mom has her own third level MIL apartment.
  2. We have a guest room in our new home that has frequent visitors – love this!
  3. I’ve started a new blog: Love My DIY Home.
  4. I’m constantly doing DIY projects, not only for my blog, but for my home and family.
  5. I am always in the process of editing pictures from photo shoots.
  6. Our church has a new building where I work in the office one day a week.
  7. I am a part-time nanny.
  8. April and I share tables at craft shows.
  9. We have started a new business with the Jones family: Adark Holsters.
  10. I help home school April and Adam’s boys a once a week.
  11. We have a new baby in the family – Emeryk Markus

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

Let’s start with #1 – the new home.

Oh my. God has blessed us there! We looked for 2.5 years for just the right house. It had to have a place for my mom, one that was big enough for family to come visit and stay, and a good sized kitchen/dining room for our ministry of hospitality. Since empty nesting, we’ve wanted to do what we could never do before – have people over, lots of people! We didn’t want a lot of stairs since Mark’s knees aren’t so great, so we spent a lot of time looking at ranch style homes. We needed a nice sized garage for Mark to be able to get back into his wood working and other such endeavors, and a good yard for the grandkids. It didn’t have to be big, just safe and big enough for them to play. We had a really decent size yard when we lived in town, and we surely didn’t want to give that up. It was so great to see the grandkids playing out in the yard. This new house has a dirt road that the boys can ride their bikes down without fear of traffic.

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It also had to be within 20 minutes of church and the Joneses. That was a tough one, but I stuck to it! I think we may have looked at 70+ houses. Our realtor was so very good about being patient and looking for just the right house within our price range – under $150,000. Even that was a bit high for us. One day Mark was looking in the Homes and Land magazine, you know, the one where you can never find a house? Well, he found one that was a foreclosure in our price range in Wausau, about 9 miles from the Joneses and about the same to church. When we called our realtor to follow up on it, he couldn’t find it in the multiple listing. It had been on the market, but wasn’t listed on the  multiple. Huh? That doesn’t happen, unless you are us – the ones who prayed God would find us just the right house that would fit every criteria of our “forever house.”

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Here is Mom’s side of the house where her walk-out opens out onto her own driveway.

Up to the left you can see the door leading to nowhere from our guest master.

Some day there will be a deck up there, but for now it’s bolted shut.

We made the offer.

We made our offer – which was the second offer that week and waited for the outcome. Fortunately our offer was the best one (we offered $500 over asking price) and we took possession a month later. Our mortgage company required a long list of things to be done in 30 days time and our family along with our church family came to our aid and helped us get it done in time.

So much to do!

I had never painted before, but that job fell to me since the roof had to be done and Mark and all the guys focused on that while April, Mom, a couple of church friends and I painted every room in the house. It had to be done before moving in since every room was sponge painted – let’s just say not to my liking and leave it at that. Little by little I’m showing before and after pictures on my other blog. Kitchen before and after here. Kitchen half bath before and after here. Every ceiling was popcorn – ugh! Mark was kind enough to make it a priority to scrape the ceilings so I wouldn’t be in hate with our ceilings! Once he got busy on the roof, I finished up and scraped the last two ceilings before I could paint.

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All the rooms were sponge painted so we painted every room a neutral color.

  www.momofmany.wordpress.com

My mom’s apartment had ugly wallpaper that had to be scraped and then painted. We did this room first.

It’s a good thing because it was the hardest.

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Isaac wanted to join in on the “fun”.

It was in pretty nasty shape. Oh it was sound and built well. But it smelled so bad from the animals that used to reside in the house and the cosmetics of the inside were atrocious. I’ll just show you some of the before pictures so as not to steal any thunder from future posts on Love My DIY Home. Suffice it to say we had our work cut out for us!

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

Somebody apparently liked the “under the sea” theme. This was going to be our master bath.

We did the work.

We got it all done (painting, fixing, replacing) in time thanks to all the help and moved in. Mark was still working on the roof when we needed to move our stuff, so I spent many a day toting boxes from our little rental to our new house. I got to the point I could lift a TV by myself! God was good to me and sustained me through it all, even temporarily giving me exceptional strength for the job. The big stuff came last and fortunately we had a few guys and girls to help with all that. I NEVER WANT TO MOVE AGAIN!  I love our new home and God was so good to give us so many needs AND wants in this house.

God gave us a home tailor made.

It already had a complete mother-in-law apartment with its own walk out and a kitchen bigger than mine upstairs! Where we first thought was a closet turned out to be a huge storage room, the fourth level! The house is a quad-level. The listing agent thought it was a tri-level and was as surprised as we were when we found the fourth level. Top level is our master suite (more on that in a sec), main level is our kitchen, half-bath and living room. Third level is mom’s apartment, laundry room and my photo studio (Yes!) and the fourth is the basement that has three little rooms off shoot from the main very large room. She has her own driveway and we share the laundry room.

The upper level has 4 bedrooms, one being a master. April had the idea to make the master a guest/library/craft room and for Mark and I to take the other three smaller rooms that had a full bath near all three as our “master suite” that would eventually have a door in the hallway separating it from the other master. In the three rooms we have our office, bedroom and walk-in closet. We also have plans to give the full-bath a walk-in shower.

God supplied more than just our needs.

The kitchen has very nice cabinets with an island. It was pretty icky to start with, but turned out to be one of my fave rooms. Mark bought me a nice Kitchen Aid french door fridge with the freezer in a bottom drawer and a vegi drawer – it’s a dream! We found a microwave/stove fan and dishwasher on clearance, so we have nearly all new appliances in the kitchen. Off the dining room is a nice size deck. Friends helped shape the walkway there down to the garage and another helped Mark build a nice little deck by the front door. We sit on an acre and have discovered a nice big fenced in garden that we took advantage of this summer. Who’d a thunk it? I actually enjoyed gardening and our yield wasn’t too shabby either for it being our first year. April and I canned tomatoes and grape jam for the first time. Click here for a couple of garden pics and here for our canning story.

This home has great potential.

I don’t have my photo studio up and running yet, but hopefully that will be our 2014 project. The house has tons of wall plug-ins – a great perk! The garage is huge and has built in for heating (once we buy a boiler). There are 3 out buildings, one is big enough for us to set up a little shop. We are set on one acre in a dead end dirt road. There are only two of us on our road and we are out in the country with deer, turkeys and bears! There is a lot to be done to bring the outside up to speed, but we have forever to do it!

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

Over the next year I will be showing our before and after pictures of the inside of our home on Love My DIY Home. It’s amazing what a little elbow grease and paint will do for a room! I hope to see you there!

Next I will tell you about our ministry of hospitality…

Please stop over to Love My DIY Home where you will find lots of DIY home projects.

~Val, Mom of Many, Wife to One, and Grammie to 10

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Virginia Trip Travel Log #4

The last two days we focused on getting Jillian’s front room finished. We’d painted the deacons bench, nightstand, shelf, and corner bookshelf. We bought all the little do-dads that she needed to complete the look. We hung everything that needed hanging.

She went with the Old World Style, a look that I am rather fond of myself. Here are pictures of my last day when we pulled it all together. I have to say, I think I enjoyed the process as much as she did. Maybe some day we will go into interior decorating together. We have many similar interests, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)

I definitely enjoyed the journey as much as the destination in this case. So often we will see “before and afters” published but not the “in-betweens” – the grunt work, so to speak. Yet, I just can’t show the in-betweens – check out the “before and afters” on Love My DIY Home. We finished Jillian’s front room the night before I left for home.

It was with a happy heart I drove home. I spent nearly three weeks away from home visiting family – many people helped me on my trip. My peeps not only gave me gas money, shelter, and fed me, but they cared for me in a way I never ever expected. I will never get used to being loved. It’s a malady I will always carry with me, I suppose, because of the difficult times I have experienced in the past. But that can’t be such a bad thing, can it – to feel so blessed each time love is shown, to be in awe of the moment, to choose to look back over and over to relive it because it is such a treasured memory? I think not. I hope it never changes for me. I love being loved. I love knowing that a handful of people in my life will love me no matter what. Wow.

Here are some more pics of my trip. Such a blessed person I am!

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I stayed with family in Ohio on the way home – such a fun family they are!  Though I traveled alone, I had the support of family, church family, and friends. God showed me His faithfulness by protecting me and giving me people in my life who care. Thank you everyone for giving me such a memorable 3 weeks!

Parenting is Your Highest Calling & Eight Other Myths

Have you every had a passionate belief that you couldn’t put into words? You knew it had a Biblical foundation, but for the life of you, you couldn’t nail it down or explain it well enough without making you sound like you were making excuses or justifying yourself? This book, Parenting is Your Hightest Calling & Eight Other Myths by Leslie Leyland Fields does a great job at explaining the ins and outs of parental responsibility and dispels the myths that are so prevalant in Christian society – myths that I ran into in my parenting experience. 

 She outlines 9 myths that many parents buy into that can cause grief and disappointment when their parenting experience doesn’t the bring the results they’d expected. As a mother of 15 children, 13 of whom are special needs adopted, I saw how the blame game is easily entered into by those who have a tendency to judge others, especially Christian leaders who take credit for their own children’s successes. It is my desire to see that parents are encouraged and loved, not expected to be perfect or to take on the responsibility that was only God’s to begin with.

Here are the 9 myths Leslie outlines in her book:

1. Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled.
2. Nurturing Your Children Is Natural
3. Parenting Is your Highest Calling
4. Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children
5. If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following the Right Plan
6. You Represent Jesus to Your Children
7. You Will Always Feel Unconditional love for Your Children
8. Successful Parents Produce Godly Children
9. God Approves of Only One Family Design

Her basic premise is that we as parents are required by God to be faithful, to follow His basic guidelines for holy living and endeavor to teach the same precepts to our children. That’s it. We are to leave the results up to Him. He is the one who will woo their hearts, call them to repentance and a life of service to Him. We can’t do that. Only God is able to take our children and make them into something He can use.

I have seen and experienced the extreme pressure from others to measure up as the perfect Christian parent – too often reminded that “if we do our job, our kids will turn out right”  and “if they stumble and fall it is ultimately our fault.”  This advice is given without the slightest bit of acknowledgement that God is the One who shapes the believer and determines their path in life.  In her book, Leslie reminds us of parents in the Bible who lived a faithful, godly life only to experience disappointment in their parenting experience. The business of parenting is hard enough. We certainly don’t need to be bogged down by misplaced condemnation. This is a very encouraging book and I recommend it to every parent.

Thank you Leslie, for sending it to me. I wish I’d read it years ago.

You can get this book at Amazon.com for $11.19 and Christianbook.com  for $10.99.

A Plea for Help From an Adoptive Parent

I have a friend on my adoptive parents Yahoo email group who is in dire need of a solution to her family problem. She’s in the place we were months ago with no solution in sight. She has one week. I am asking prayer for her and her family as well as any input you all might has as to a solution. Below is part of her story from her blog, Adoption Drama…The System. She lives in Michigan. The comment in red with brackets is mine.

Michigan’s Post-Adoption Support Fails Youth, Families, and the Community.

I am an adoptive mom and a professional in the foster care system. I cannot sit back and watch the post adopt system fail our children. The children that are in adoptive homes today and those awaiting adoption. At the time of adoption, some children qualify for Michigan’s Adoption Subsidy support – medical and/or financial support. The concept of this support is to provide adopted children and their families with the support they need to meet the needs of the adopted child that were present prior to adoption. These needs are considered prior to signing of the adoption document. A family has to option of submitting documentation after the adoption is finalized to add other conditions that were present before adoption but not diagnosed until after adoption. No where in any of the support, does it say there is a limit to how much they will cover for the qualified condition.

My son is 16. He came into foster care when he was 4 and adopted when he was 5. The conditions he lived in prior to adoption have had a lasting impact on who he is and how he operates in society. Its like he is miss-wired because of the abuse he suffered (prenatal drug exposure, severe physical abuse and neglect). His behaviors started around age 6 and became out of control at age 12. Things continued to escalate and he went for residential treatment at 14 1/2 years of age. Well in the first facility, things got worse and he acted out more, placing more people in danger. He was moved to another residential program and spent the last 1 1/2 years there. He’s completed their program but not without incident. Their program has not addressed all of his behaviors or needs, but has touched the tip of the iceberg.

FUNDING HAS STOPPED. Despite the fact that he has not addressed the initial needs that placed him at risk or a danger to himself or others, FUNDING HAS STOPPED. It doesn’t seem to matter that the need hasn’t stopped – the qualifying need that got him adoption subsidy. But all they can say is, “FUNDING HAS STOPPED.”

The reality is that if he makes any of the same choices he made prior to going to residential treatment, he will go to prison. The reality is that he has lived in a very structured program of 2 years and they are just open the door and send him on his way. No transition back into the community, even though programs exist to help him transition back and be successful. All this because FUNDING HAS STOPPED.

Where is the adoption subsidy support that is suppose to help him get the care to address the needs without a limit? Without a limit doesn’t align with “Funding has stopped.” Helping him be as successful as he can be given the past he was dealt, isn’t a part of their plan. Where are my son’s rights to care and treatment from adoption subsidy?

The transitional program costs money. If I had the money, I’d pay for it myself. I don’t have the kind of money the program costs. I want nothing more than for my son and the other adopted children in the same situation and the foster children with the same struggles that are waiting to be adopted to have a chance for a successful future. To be given the opportunity to use the “support” from adoption subsidy they were promised. As adoptive parents, if we don’t pick them up when funding ends even though the need has not, the state threatens to file CPS neglect charges on the parent. Yet, Adoption Subsidy it the one who is neglecting their need and the agreement to support the treatment of that need. [If we bring them home and a child is hurt, we will be charged with “failure to protect. This is a lose/lose situation for the adoptive families.]

Please help me help my son and others in the same situation. Our funding is scheduled to end on 3/19/2010. Coming home places me and the other children in the home at risk due to his violent and sexual behaviors. He has threatened to kill me and tried once before. I love my son dearly and want for him to have a chance of being successful. Home and back in the community is not where he belongs right now.

Family Photo Op

These first few pictures are some candids I took of April’s family, my oldest daughter, during our family picture outing. We’ve had a hard time deciding which ones to use for their family Christmas picture. Of course, being the mom, I’ll be printing them all and placing them around my house, in scrapbook albums, sending them to the rest of the family, etc.!

Isaac told me today that when we move here to Wausau that he’s going to put tape on both of our houses so we’ll never be apart again. Hudson was a real trooper during pictures. When he wasn’t sticking his finger in his dad’s ear, or looking at his brother be silly, he was flashing us smiles right and left. I was even able to catch a few.

Too Cute for Words

Here are some more pics of Matthew and his family. We are hoping they’ll be here to visit at Christmas. Family is such a blessing! I just love grandbabies!

A Three Day Snapshot – Day 1

I have a long time friend who recently found me on Facebook. We reconnected after about ten or so years. We originally met during our old adoption advocacy days when we lived in Flushing. Our adoption support group was instrumental in bringing her and her first son together by adoption. I will call her Linda. This is day one of three days in the life of her newly adopted son, Matt. She currently has four sons.

 Monday, August 24, 2009

Today I had no choice but to take all the kids to Sam’s. I had to pick up a prescription that could not wait. Matt wanted me to let them wait in the car, which I have allowed if I am just running in somewhere for a minute or two. But today I knew it would be longer, so I said “No,” and that they would have to come in with me. First, Matt ran away in the parking lot and Allen ran and got him for me, which set him off against Allen now, too. We went in, and by the time we got back to the meat coolers he was working himself up deliberately. You can actually see him doing it; he clenches his fists and starts breathing harder and faster to work up a good rage. I ended up having to hold him against the cart with one arm while pushing/steering the cart with the other, because he’d started running up and kicking Allen as hard as he could. So he started kicking me, in between pressing his foot on the wheel so I couldn’t move the cart. I ended up having to hold him against the cooler to stop him trying to hurt me, Allen, or himself.

We made it to the pharmacy counter and had to wait a few minutes for it to open back up from lunch break. A lady, who’d been shopping back by the meat dept. and tried to speak with him when he was doing all this, followed us. I saw her come around the corner and duck back when I saw her but didn’t think anything of it at the time. She apparently followed us out and took down my plate number and called 911. Not 10 minutes after we got home a county sheriff’s deputy was at the door with a worker from FOC. To avoid speaking with them, Matt ran to the back of the house and out the back door, but they got him to stop. I told her what happened, and Matt admitted all. She came down squarely on my side, and told him he has to obey me, that I have the right to discipline him, and that she thought he was very lucky to be where he is (she had already asked about his background).


He told her he knew he was lucky, but that being told, “No,” makes him “want to get mad and hit people.” So, I’ve joined the ranks of parents who will need to document, document, document, I guess. She said this was NOT going to CPS; she saw no reason for it. It looked to her like that lady who called 911 was a nosy woman who had no idea of the actual situation or circumstances, and apologized for having to come here especially when it was very clear I’d done nothing wrong. The whole cops at the door for what he had done scared him though, I think. After that, he apologized to me and then to Allen and couldn’t do enough for either of us for several hours. He and Manny have an appointment tomorrow at CMH to get them services. Here’s hoping for at least respite time, huh?

Linda