Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Frequently asked questions regarding our adoption

Whenever we go out and run into someone we know we usually get asked the same questions regarding our adoption. I'm realizing that I haven't been doing a very good job of explaining our process and where we are at. So I've decided to dedicate this post to answering the many questions we get asked on a daily basis, because chances are, you might be wondering about at least one of them. I know I will miss some, but I'll try to cover all that come to mind :)

Are your boys brothers? Although our boys are soon to be "forever brothers", they are "not" biologically related in anyway. We originally chose to adopt both of them because they were in the same orphanage. They have since been transferred to "different" orphanages, but are still in the same region as each other.

How long until you get them? We were originally thinking we would be traveling in June, but the process is taking longer in their country right now so our expectation has changed to July or August. Please be praying that the process will speed up so that we can get to them asap.

How long will you be gone? Both Ryan and I will travel to country. Once we officially accept both of our boys' referrals and meet them we will receive a court date. Usually about three weeks after arrival we will have court. After court we have a 10 day wait period. Ryan will go home during this time. I will stay in country and visit the boys as much as possible. After the 10 day wait is up, the paper-chasing begins!! I will then travel around getting the boys' birth certificates, passports, visas etc. My amazing friend is going to fly over and help me bring the boys home :)

Ryan will be gone for 3 weeks. I will be gone for possibly two months.

Who will be taking care of Landon while we are gone? Landon will stay with his grandparents in MN until Ryan returns. Once Ryan is home Landon will go to daycare during Ryan's workdays and stay at home with his daddy the rest of the time. Being away from my baby, will be the hardest thing for me, but I constantly remind myself that Landon knows he is safe and loved. He will be well taken care of while I am gone. The boys, on the other hand, have never had anyone make sacrifices on their behalf. Knowing the conditions they are living in, make me confident that staying with them the whole time is the right decision (not to mention, me staying the whole time will cut down on our expenses).

Do both of the boys have cerebral palsy? This is a hard question for us to answer because our knowledge of them is extremely limited. Once we get to their country will have access to their medical records (although that does not mean they even have any). We are very sure that Ivan has cp, based on the small amount of information we have, and the pictures we have seen. Levi, on the other hand, has only been diagnosed with cp, but has no further details or symptoms listed that would explain what has led to this diagnosis. Ryan and I have been preparing for life with two children with cp, but we are praying and believing that Levi only suffers from deep neglect, which is no less harmful or life altering.

How old are the boys? We have been telling most people that we are adopting two six year olds because the boys will likely be six by the time we get them home, but as of now, they are 5.

Will the boys go to school? We are still praying through all of this and there is so much, we will not know until we get them home, but the plan for now is to home school the boys and take one step at a time. People must understand that although the boys are six years old they are at the level of infants developmentally. They have spent the majority of their life laying in a crib. They have had little stimulation and zero love. They are likely still drinking out of a bottle! Our main focus and goals are going to be in regards to two things #1 Healthy attachment and #2 nutrition and physical growth. Education will come later. We WILL be focused on getting them the therapy they need, so that they can grow and be all that God created them to be. Like I said, we will just be taking things one step at a time, with LOVE (1 John 4:8) as our Guide.

Can the boys speak? We do not know if Ivan is speaking. We have a video of him when he was two and he was not speaking then (at least from what we could tell). Levi has been described as "mostly non verbal". If the boys can speak at all, they will speak Russian. We are working on learning some Russian now and, as you would expect, it is not easy.

What are you waiting on now? Right now we are waiting to be "submitted". What that means is all of our paperwork is now in the process of being translated and then it will be submitted to our boys' government. Once we are submitted we can expect a travel date in 6 to 12 weeks (pray for 6!!).

Well those are the biggies that I can think of, if you have any other questions please feel free to leave a comment :)

We covet each and every prayer. Although we are reaching the end of our adoption journey, the waiting never gets any easier. Please pray that God prepares the hearts and minds of our boys for the love and affection that comes with belonging to a family :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Special celebration offer!! (Don't miss out!!!)

Yesterday was a VERY exciting day!! (Tuesday)

We received our USCIS approval!!

I spent the whole day getting it notarized, apostilled, and then sent it to a family who will be traveling to our boys' country this weekend.

Ounce it arrives and is given to our facilitators it will join the rest of our documents (dossier) to be translated and then submitted.

So now we just wait for a travel date :)

To celebrate this HUGE milestone and answer to prayer we wanted to present a special offer today.

We do not have long to raise the funds we need to travel and we only have a couple weeks left of this giveaway, so let's say we celebrate our boys with a huge day of giving!!!

Today only every entry you receive will be doubled!!!

That's right DOUBLED!!!!!!

Today only

Donation Amounts: 

$10 - 2 Entry

$25 - 10 Entries

$50 - 20 Entries 

$100 - 60 Entries

$500 - 500 Entries
Is your mind blown yet?!?
If you have been waiting to give, today is the day to do it!!!
Even if you have given before, today is a great opportunity to get your name entered a few more times!!
Every facebook, Twitter, and blog share will also get you TWO entries today!!
Even if you've shared before, share again!! 
Just make sure to let me know!
You can leave a comment here with your name and where you shared, facebook me, or email me at
 WE are so close!! Will you help us bring our boys home??
Offer will end at midnight tonight.
The more you give the better chance we can give you to win one of these amazing prizes!!! 
Let's get to it!!
Just a reminder, first place will win this amazing Canon Rebel T4i camera
 Second place will win a $100 Shutterfly gift card so you can begin telling your beautiful story!

Third place will win a $50 Shutterfly gift card!!

Okay, what are you waiting for!! Let's celebrate!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can't understand (Good-bye to Hope)

Today I was going to share about the amazing adoption milestone we reached yesterday and present a special offer regarding our giveaway.

I have the blog post written up and ready to be posted

But I can't...

Not today.

Today my heart is weeping for a family that I have never met, but feel as though I know deeply.

I will never forget the day...

Landon had just been moved up to the PICU and was about to undergo his first open heart surgery the next day.

I remember that day, sitting in the light green pullout chair that I sat in to pump during the day, and slept in at night. I was sitting in it, while on my laptop. I can't remember if I was blogging or on facebook, but my mom came over and started telling me about a family that had just had a little girl with a heart defect too. My mom explained that the babies mother's brother was at the same Youth With a Mission base as my brother in Australia. My brother knew the guy, heard about his sister and his niece, and told my mom she should give me her blog.

I remember the first time I read Amy's blog.

I felt like I could of written the words that she had typed.

Her babies name was Hope and she was born just a day earlier than Landon.

Hope was born with a heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which caused her to be born with only half a heart. Her heart defect was different than Landon's, but so many of our experiences were the same.

It was such a comfort to me to have another young mama facing the same painfully scary circumstances as I was.

We shared the same fears and insecurities.

After almost a month we got to take Landon home.

Hope continued to face challenges and needed to stay in the hospital.

Finally Hope got to go home.

Oh how I celebrated when I heard that!!

But then shortly after, Hope had to go back to the hospital.

There she stayed for months and months and months.

During every milestone and miracle we experienced with Landon, my mind would think of Hope.

I would pray that she too would start to grow and gain weight,

that she too, wouldn't need another surgery,

that she too would be able to go home.

I truly believed that someday she would... but with every blog post of Amy's I would read, my heart would sink...


Guilt that my baby was doing so well and her baby was still struggling for every breath.

A while ago, the Koslowski's received the horrific news that Hope needed a new heart and had to be put on the waiting list for a transplant.

I have to admit that I haven't been following Hope's story like I used to.

Maybe the guilt got to me or maybe we just got so busy and focused on our adoption... hospital life seems like a world away now

But then last night I saw this on Amy's facebook status

"Almost at the hospital the Dr. Just called to say she is failing fast and no on us there. Our baby girl needs prayer like never before."

I shared it on fb and begged people to pray and it seemed like only minutes later, I found out that Hope had gone to be with Jesus.

There really aren't words to describe the next couple hours in our home...

It was one of those moments when your world just stops spinning.

I burst into tears and whispered to Ryan, who was sitting by me, that she was gone.

I began to sob as the grief and shock surfaced.

"It could have been us."

I sobbed and Ryan held me...

"Why did our baby get a healing and theirs didn't?"

more sobbing...

"I never want to take him for granted."

I cannot imagine the grief Amy is feeling right now... I cannot imagine.

But a part of me can...

It was my worst nightmare for so long... losing my baby.

But something happens after you recieve a miracle...

You get used to it.

Ryan and I held each other last night and made each other promise that we would never let the other take our blessings and our miracles for granted.

I don't understand why God gives to some and takes away from others.

I just don't know and I will never pretend to know.

We were not more deserving.

We did not have more people praying for Landon than sweet Hope had praying for her.

We do not love him more than they loved their precious child.

I am convinced that we will never find an answer to this question, at least on this side of Heaven. All we can do is continue to believe that God is good. God is sovereign. And His ways are so much higher than our own.

Last night I went into Landon's room, grabbed him out of his crib, held him and continued to sob.

I sobbed because I was holding my child when another family was longing for just one more embrace.

I'm writing this because Hope is now completely healed and safe in the presence of her Savior. She no longer has to wait for a new chance at life, but please join me in lifting up the family and loved ones she has left behind. 

Hope blessed this world for 13 short months, but her sweet little life has made an eternal impact on so many. Hope now has a whole heart, but her absence has left a huge void in so many hearts here on Earth.

Pray for her mama, her daddy, her big sister Sadie and everyone else who loved her deeply. The Koslowski's have been fighting for their daughter for so long. Pray that God finally gives their hearts and minds rest and peace.

I also want to encourage each of you to allow Hope's life to touch your own. Open your eyes today to the miracles God has placed right in front of you. Don't wait till tragedy strikes and all you're left with are empty arms and a heart full of regret. 

Life is so short... and all we can take with us into eternity are the lives that we touch.

Thank you sweet Hope for touching so many lives. Thank you for shining God's light and teaching us all what really matters. You fought so hard little one. My heart wants to be glad that you are finally in complete peace, but the world seems a little darker without you here. 

Landon will grow up hearing about the little heart buddy that he had and what a fighter she was. We are so glad that you are finally safe in the arms of your father, but you will forever be missed precious one.

Till we meet in paradise, good-bye sweet Hope.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lesson's learned between the start and finishline (Fargo Half Marathon)

This may come as a shock to most of you, but last weekend I ran the Fargo half marathon.

A part of me purposefully kept it a secret because I was scared I wouldn't be able to finish since I didn't have time to train adequately.

Those of you who truly know me, know that I do this... I commit to things without really thinking about the commitment they require.

I did the same thing back in September. You can read about it here, here, and HERE.

So when my dad started bugging me about entering the fargo half marathon with him, I told him I couldn't do it probably 5 times, but then something clicked in me and I just knew that I had to do it.

I didn't know HOW I was going to do it

I just knew that I HAD to.

I couldn't think of a better time to run a race than right after graduating college and right before our family almost doubles in size... nope, I just knew I had to do it.

 So about a month ago I called my mom and told her, that if it wasn't too late, to sign me up with dad.

Then for the next month I pretty much forgot about the race. Maybe I didn't as much "forget" about the race as try not to think about it.

I couldn't think about it.

My mind was consumed with school and thinking about the race would have only added more stress and anxiety to an already very overwhelming life.

So I did what I had to do.

I focused on graduating.

I graduated.

I celebrated.

Then the next day...

I ran.

In a recent post I mentioned that I ran on Saturday morning and how amazing it felt, well what I didn't mention was that the ten miles I ran that morning was my one and only training run before race day.

I know... I'm crazy. But would you expect anything less from a 23 year old who has a baby, lives in a two bedroom apartment, and is about to adopt two 6 year olds? Yeah, I didn't think so :)

Crazy is just a way of life in our home.

I got a long run in and figured if I can run 10 miles, I can make it 13.1 in a week. Right?

So Friday morning Ryan and I packed up our car and headed to Fargo.

We wanted to get there early because we had another purpose for our trip... a bigger purpose.

Two weeks ago we finally received our fingerprinting appointment date. These fingerprints have to be done in Fargo since they are for an FBI background check. We knew that once we got our fingerprints done, we would get our USCIS (stateside) approval soon after. Our appointment wasn't until June 3rd, but we were encouraged by other families to try to get in early.

Two weeks could be the difference between life or death for our boys.

I was so nervous to be denied, but we made our way through the metal detectors, up the elevator, and into the little immigrations office. I was expecting a full waiting room, but...



So we walked up to the front desk, laid our appointment letters on the counter, filled out a clipboard of basic information, and then Ryan's name was called.

Two minutes later Ryan arrived back into the waiting room and my name was called.

Two minutes later it was all done.

I wondered if the woman even noticed that we wern't supposed to be there on that day, but as we were leaving she yelled out to us, "Now make sure you don't come back on June 3rd."

Ryan and I laughed all the way out to the car. You know that kind of laughter where you're just so giddy/relieved/in awe of God's faithfulness.

Once in the car, we thanked God for answered prayer. We have known many families that have been turned away, so we know that our experience was not the norm.

We both agreed that no matter what happened the next day, our trip was totally worth it.

The rest of the day we relaxed and visited with my parents.

We enjoyed a carb filled dinner and then went to bed early, knowing that me and my dad needed all the rest we could get.

I awoke at 3AM to crashes of thunder and the pounding of rain against our window.

Truly not what someone who is going to have to run 13.1 miles once the sun rises wants to wake up to.

Even then, I just had a sense of peace, that this race was going to be exactly what it was supposed to be for me.

By morning the rain had let up... a little.

We followed all of the other crazies into the Fargo Dome as we awaited starting time.

As we were waiting, Someone from Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) opened up the event with a prayer. I leaned my head down as I was stretching and listened to the words as he lifted up all of runners, the entire Fargo event, and those effected by the bombing in Boston to the Lord. In that moment my heart broke for the families that were there in Boston that day to celebrate and accomplish something good and were instead changed forever by a sudden display of evil.

There are no words.

but, even as my heart was hurting, I looked around at the thousands of people that came together that morning and I realized that good will always triumph.

We must not allow ourselves to be overcome by evil, but instead we must overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

In a sense, that is what the Fargo Marathon represented this past weekend. It was over 6,000 people and their families coming together and saying, we're not going to live in fear. We're not going to stop running this race, called life.

That was a beautiful moment for me.

After that, me, my dad, and thousands of other people of all different colors, shapes, and sizes, joined each other on the starting line.

Then we were off!

Unlike the Bismarck race, I didn't really know what God wanted to speak to me about during this one. I knew I wanted to reflect on graduating college as that was a huge accomplishment that took seemingly forever to complete.

I knew that I wanted to reflect on my marriage as Ryan and I are approaching our two year wedding anniversary in the next couple weeks.

I knew I wanted to reflect on our adoption process because hallelujah, how far God has brought us!!!

And then there's Landon, who's life, no matter how normal it may seem now, will never be taken for granted. Every moment spent with that child has changed me and grown me into a more beautiful and selfless human being.

Yes, there was so much that I wanted to reflect on and praise Jesus for, I had doubts that 13 miles would even be enough time...

But as I started running I began to get glimpses into the direction this race was going to take me and it wasn't one that I wanted or had planned on going down.

I knew that the first five miles would be hard.

I know it doesn't really make sense, but I am convinced that the first five miles of any race are the most difficult... at least for me. It seems like after those first five miles my body adjusts and then I can enjoy the rest of the race.

So during the first five miles, my body was hurting and during that time, God spoke to me about what life is going to be like after we get Ivan and Levi home. We have done enough training to know that when you first bring an adopted child home, (especially an older child, especially an older child that has been through immense trauma) for a while it is going to be HARD. Most researchers will agree that it takes at least six months for a child to adjust and begin to attach, but for some children and families it can take years.

So as my body was pounding against the pavement and I was asking myself what I was doing I tried to relate it to how I know I will one day feel, after we have brought the boys home and life as we knew it has changed forever.

I know that there will be moments that I ask myself if I made a mistake. maybe I shouldn't of signed up for this. I wasn't ready. This is too hard. This hurts too much. I can't do this, God I can't do this.

I told myself all of those things during the first five miles and I know I will have those thoughts on the hard days once our precious ones are home.

but I kept telling myself that it was going to get easier, my body would soon adjust and find it's rhythm.

I held onto hope

and that is exactly what I know I need to do during the first five miles after our boys are home, whether those five miles take us months or years to get through. We have to hold onto hope and keep putting one foot in front of the other. We have to fix our eyes on Jesus and know that the finish line will make all of the endured pain worth it.

So I ran through the painful five miles and then just as I expected, my body adjusted and the pain eased.

I enjoyed the sixth mile. I wasn't thinking about myself or focused on my pain so I was able to look around and appreciate the scenery.

Isn't that just like us?

Sometimes we get so focused on our own pain that we are physically unable to experience the beauty around us.

I have run so many miles of my life, unable to see past my own pain. I don't think God wants us to live like that. There is always something to be thankful for, something to sing about, someone who needs encouragement from the trenches.

That last sentence sounds really good doesn't it? It is easy for me to type it now as I sit on my comfy couch, in our cozy apartment, away from the rain and wind that is blowing outside my walls.

I don't think I could of wrote it last Saturday though...

After the sixth mile my foot started to hurt.

This is a very bad sign for me because I have plantar fasciitis (PF is a painful inflammatory process of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue on the sole (bottom surface) of the foot). Usually it doesn't bug me at all, but there have been occasions when I run that it will flare up and become a problem for me. It was the reason I had to walk (hobble) the last three miles of the Fargo marathon in 2011.

So I started to pray that God would touch my foot and that it wouldn't cause me pain during this race.

God, in His sovereign power, chose not to heal my foot and with every step, the pain only got worse.

Was I upset?


Was I disappointed?


Was I regretting not training and living off of coffee the two weeks leading up to the race?

Oh, you better believe it.

But through the pain, I tried to remind myself that every race I have run, God has used to change me and teach me lessons that I never would of learned without the journey in between the start and finish line.

I spent mile 7 and 8 begging God to comfort me and heal my foot and by mile 9 the pain had worked it's way up my leg. Now I couldn't tell if it was my foot or my knee because every muscle and joint from the knee down on my right leg throbbed with each step.

I knew I was starting to favor my left leg and I know that whenever you start to favor one leg over the other it will only do more damage in the long run.

It. hurt. so. bad.

I was battling with myself in my head. All of the pain was telling me that I needed to stop and walk, but my stubborn pride would win out and I continued to run, granted I was getting slower and slower. Half way through mile 9 I heard the whisper of God.

Humble yourself and walk. It's okay, everyone has to walk sometimes.

So I did.

Some people alternate between walking and running the whole race. Some people walk through all the water stops, but I don't.

I don't really know why, but I just figure that you don't actually run the race, if you walk during it at all.

Now, I can see how full of pride that way of thinking is.

As I was walking, God began to speak to my heart.

God rid me of much of my pride through our experiences with Landon. You don't have a choice, but to humble yourself when your baby is wracking up more in medical bills than your family makes in five years and your heart is completely shattered inside. You have to rely on insurance, you have to rely on medicaid, you have to rely on Early Intervention, you have to rely on family and friends, that was the only way we made it through.

At first it was extremely difficult to ask for help, but when you're baby's well being depends on it, you have no choice but to swallow your pride.

Deep down though, I am still that person that wants everyone to think she is strong.

I don't want others to see me cry.

I don't want to admit that I make mistakes.

I don't want people to know that I struggle with anxiety and some days the enemy coerces me right into the pit of depression.

It was that me that God spoke to. With every painfully embarrassing step I realized that I hate being weak.

I hate having people pass me by.

I hate when others can see that I'm hurting.

I realized this ugly pride that hides itself away in me and I knew that I had to kill it.

There is no room for pride when you are walking such a dangerous road.

I know that I cannot be all that my family needs me to be, if I don't ask for help when I'm writhing in pain.

I know that I'm not going to have the capacity to love unconditionally if I'm unable to confess my weakness and share my burdens with the support system God has surrounded me with.

Looking in the mirror and finding the ugly face of pride staring back at you is never a pretty experience, but I truly believe that the pain God allowed me to fight through brought healing and awareness to my being that was completely necessary before I can embark on this next chapter of my life.

Somewhere along the next couple of miles I stopped begging God to take away the pain and instead, through the agony, I began to thank Him, over and over again, for being with me through it all.

Thank you Lord, that no matter how painful my circumstances, you will never leave me or forsake me. Help me to remember this race. The beauty and the healing that I have found in the midst of the pain and shame I'm feeling. Take away every bit of the pride I have hidden away in myself for I know that truly I am never stronger than when I am at my weakest, for it is then that your power is made perfect in me. (2 Corinthians 12:19)

Mile 9 and part of 10, I transitioned between jogging and walking, but mile 10 did me in.

I tried to run again, but I would take one lunge forward and the pain was enough to make me scream.

If there was a medic station I may of called it quits, but I just kept telling myself that I had to finish.

Even if I walked over that finish line, I just wanted to finish and be with my family.

By mile 12 I was hobbling along at a snails pace and dragging my right leg. The pain was so intense I wondered if something was broken.

I wanted so badly to run, but I was completely incapable.  I couldn't even bend my right knee without debilitating pain shooting through my entire body.

It was miserable.

But then my mind thought of my Ivan.

Both Ivan and Levi have been diagnosed with CP, but we don't yet have a clear diagnosis for Levi. Ivan we know suffers from spastic tetraparesis.

Spastic Tetraparesis is a form of spastic (tightening of the muscles so that they cannot be moved properly) cerebral palsy in which the entire body is effected, including all four limbs.

When God brought Ivan to my mind my perspective completely changed. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, my heart was filled with sorrow for my son. I thought of how helpless he must feel. I thought of all of the times in the future when he will have to watch on the sidelines as his brother(s) do things that he is incapable of doing. I thought of how he is going to feel when he tries to do something and is passed up by everyone else.

I realized that the pain I was feeling paled in comparison to the pain my child experiences on a daily basis.

We live in a world that praises people for their accomplishments.

I remember when we first found out about Landon's heart and we started researching.

I remember how devastated I was when I realized that Landon may never be able to snowboard with his daddy. When Ryan found me crying that evening and I told him why, I said, "but you love snowboarding." and Ryan said, "but I love him more than anything Natalie."

That moment began a change in perspective for me.

God began to reveal to me that a person's worth is not based on what they can do, it's based on who they are.

Ivan, Levi, and Landon are each fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the living God, creator of Heaven and Earth. No matter what they do or don't do, nothing can change their identity.

Nothing can change that they are our sons.

Nothing can change the love we have for them.

But all of those things also cannot change that they will grow up in a world that will send them the message that a person's worth is wrapped up in their appearance and their achievements.

I know what this is going to mean for my boys... pain.

and that realization hurt... it hurt worse than the physical pain I was feeling at that time.

I long with all of my heart to protect my boys from the cruelty of this world, but then God reminded me that I am just as guilty as the rest of the world.

Just look at how hard it is for you to endure the pain that weakness carries...

Oh God help me.

It has got to start with me.

I have got to embed this truth into the deepest recesses of my heart and mind before my boys are ever going to believe a word I try to teach them.

Fellow mamas, we have got to live this before we can preach it.

If we avoid weakness like it's the plague, our kids are going to see that.

If we are constantly defending our flaws instead of admitting our mistakes our kids are going to follow suite.

If we are always putting ourselves down it makes it much easier for our children to point out the things they do not like about themselves.


I want to teach my kids that it's okay to slow down and walk when the pain is crushing.

It's okay to rely on others for help sometimes.

It's okay to crawl into mama and papa's lap and admit you're hurting.

It's okay to be misunderstood.

It's okay to be the first one to apologize.

In that moment I thought of what I wanted to say to my boys,

Ivan, Levi, and Landon, mama just wants you guys to be the best "you's" you can be. God created each of you with differences, gifts, talents, and abilities. Each of you has your own gift to give to this world, but if you're too busy trying to follow the crowd, fit in, and be like everyone else, there is no telling what this world is going to miss out on, simply because you weren't being true to yourself.

 Don't make the same mistake your mama made. Don't be ashamed to admit your weakness so that God's strength can shine through you. You do not have to be the strongest, the fastest, the most popular, or the best looking to make a difference in this world. 

Just be the you God created you to be.

Every last step of the race, I was reminded that our race on this earth is not supposed to be easy or glamorous. Jesus was beaten, mocked, spit on and crucified, the last couple miles of his earthly life (before His resurrection)

why should we think our race will be any different?

I saved the little bit of strength I had left for the last couple meter stretch into the Fargo Dome and across the finish line.

People cheered for me because it was obvious I was about to keel over.

Ryan missed my finish (I didn't mind) because he was searching the database to find where I was. I came in over 30 min. later than he was expecting me so to say he was worried is an understatement.

We were both so relieved to find each other. He carried me on his back while I steered the stroller with my arms hanging down from around his neck (we got a few laughs from innocent bystanders).

I wish I could tell you that the lessons God taught me between the start and finish line made me realize that all of the pain was worth it, but truthfully I was still very disappointed.

I apologized to Ryan probably 10 times on the drive home and every time he told me that he was proud of me and reminded me that I finished.

I came home and found this in my inbox

Thank you Fargo Marathon

There's me, in the very back of the pack.

Even with everything God showed me during the race, I couldn't believe the feelings this image stirred in me.




Pretty much any negative emotion... you name it... I was feeling it.

When Ryan came in from unloading the car, I showed him. Partly expecting him to laugh (do I not know my husband at all!)

Ryan looked at me and said, "what are you doing?" and he shut the laptop.

I needed that.

I needed that abrupt reminder that I'm a total hypocrite if I expect to tell my children to believe that their accomplishments don't make a difference in how me, their father, and God sees them.

Total. hypocrite.

I cannot be this person God.

I cannot be this person that compares myself and those I love to others.

I know what's coming. I know our lives are going to look different than every one else around us and that has GOT to be okay with my heart.

Oh God help me. 

I see it already.

I see it every time I take Landon somewhere and there's another child his age that's walking and  Landon is crawling still.

God rid me of all of this stupid pride.

I don't care if I finish very last in the world's eyes, I just want to be first in Your eyes.

Humble me Father, do whatever it takes to make me more like Jesus.

I'm humbling myself and sharing these very personal struggles because I know I'm not alone. 

We as women and mothers, have got to let go of this God forsaken need of ours to be the best and have the best.

It's killing us and it's killing our families.

What if we didn't compare ourselves with every other woman and mother?

What if instead we focused on becoming the woman God created and designed us to be?

What if we accepted our weaknesses and praised God for our strengths, knowing that everything good we have is not our own doing anyway? 

What if we didn't compare our children to "the other kids"?

What if we spent less time researching what they "should" be able to do and more time studying and realizing who they truly are so that we could nurture the gifts God has given them, no matter where those gifts may rank on the worlds standards?

I have FAR from learned this lesson.

The longing to compare myself and my life to others is something that I need to battle




but I praise God for breaking me at mile 9 so that I could start to see the ugly pride that had hopes of consuming me.

It was not a fun lesson to learn so I really want to get it through my thick skull the first time.

Days have passed now since the race and I've had time to process and chew on everything God revealed to me.

I am convinced that I gained much more in my weakness than I ever could have gained in my strength.

Thank you Lord for the lessons You teach me between the start and finish line.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I'm back!

I feel like that statement is true in more ways than one.

Yes, I am back to blogging, but I also feel like "I'm" back.

I finished up my last assignments on Friday night and on Saturday morning I woke up early (4am early), my body didn't get the memo that school is over and I no longer have to wake up at insane hours of the morning... or is that still considered night... Anyways, I woke up early, did some cleaning, and then went for a run.

It wasn't long before my head started to clear. I breathed the crisp morning air in deeply and just let all the built up stress and tension go. I dropped a heavy load somewhere in Sertoma park that morning. I was listening to spotify radio and the Newsboys song "I am free" came on. I laughed out loud!! No song could of been more fitting. I finally felt "free to run"... free to live again.

This last semester of school has been brutal on me. I don't know exactly when it happened, but sometime in the past three months I got sucked into a constant state of stress, exhaustion, busyness, and guilt. I didn't want to be there, I tried to prioritize and find some semblence of balance, but no matter what I tried, it didn't seem to work. I know some people love being busy, but let me just say, it is NOT for me.

It drained me...

Am I glad I stuck with it and graduated? Yes, yes, a million times YES!! I am beyond glad that I finished what I started.

It took my five years, 43 courses, 1 internship, tons of coffee, many late nights and countless rude alarm awakenings but it was all worth it because I am GRADUATED!!!

I now have my Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology: Christian Counseling with a minor in Biblical Studies. I have no idea what I am going to do with it, but I know that God has a plan and His timing is ALWAYS perfect.

Right now, I am just looking forward to being mama... for a very long time :)

I'm looking forward to slowing down.

The other day I actually went out on the balcony and read a book, not because I "had" to, but because I "wanted" to.

There was something very healing about that :)

When your extremely busy you can't see the blessings that are right in front of you or maybe you can see them, you just can't truly enjoy them.

This last weekend was one of celebration in our home! I was finally able to slow down, breathe deeply, and soak in every ounce of this blessed life of mine again.

Ryan got a babysitter for Saturday night and took me out to celebrate

just the two of us.

When we got to the restaurant the hostess asked us if there was something going on that we were dressed up for. Ryan informed her that it was going to be Mothers day the next day and that I'm a mother and we were there to celebrate me. He got a couple "awwwww's" from the women standing around us and I was reminded once again that I am married to an insanely amazing man. 

 After dinner we walked around the capitol grounds, laughed together, and just talked about our life, how wonderful it feels to have come through such a long tunnel and how bright our future looks from where we are standing.

I seriously could not have graduated without Ryan's support and encouragement. I have not been a pleasant person to live with for the last couple weeks (months), but he never failed to comfort and encourage me. 

Our love grows stronger through every trial and hardship we face. 

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3

I will joyfully face every trail with you baby, knowing that everything we face is what makes our love so real. Every storm of this life only grows our roots deeper and entangles them more into each other, making us more capable of taking on whatever comes our way.

My hero and my very best friend.

 The next day was Mothers day!!

I thought I knew what this holiday was all about growing up, but it has found a new meaning and purpose in my heart now that I am a mother myself.

It has become one of my very favorite days. It may even rank higher than my birthday simply because I love sharing it with so many amazing women around the world.

We had an amazing time of worship and fellowship and then went home and spent most of the day outside.

Ryan made a wonderful lunch for us on the balcony (yes, it was pizza :)

I was armed with my camera all day so I didn't miss a moment...

I was too busy snapping photos to notice what it was that caught Landon's eye..

It was a glass of water...

I caught the glass right before Landon dumped it on himself, but the glass wobbled a bit and spit water all over his face.

It was one of those moments where Ryan and I are laughing hysterically and Landon thinks it's hysterical that we are laughing. He is completely oblivious that he is the source of the belly aching laughter that's going on which just makes it all the more funny.

Am I a blessed mama?

OH you better believe it!!

A week ago Landon absolutely detested the grass...

The only way I could get him to touch it was by tempting him with something shiny


That was then...

This is now (Mothers Day)...

I think one of the greatest joys of motherhood is watching your child discover the world. 

I love getting a front row seat to Landon's story. 

Seeing him discover what he likes, what he dislikes, overcoming his fears, challenging his body to try new things that it has never done before... that little man just amazes me.

He takes on everyday with a smile and an inexplicable joy.

He is going to change the world someday... he's already changed ours :)

I am so hopelessly head over heals in love with this little baldy.

 Words can't express how thankful I am to be his mama

When we make kissy sounds now, he will lean in till his skin feels our love... melt my heart!!
So my Mothers day was wrapped in cuddles, covered in slobbery kisses, and resounded of squeaky giggles.

My brain was clear for the first time in months and my heart was OH so FULL.

But in the midst of the perfection were moments of deep sorrow and longing.

I cherish every second I have, knowing that our small family is about to change, but I also ache with longing. I know the change is coming quickly, but it could never be too soon for my heart.

We are so ready for our boys to be with us. They are never far from our thoughts and we talk about them as if, they are only gone at a friends for a sleepover and will be back anytime.

It is a great mystery that you can miss so terribly someone you have never met.

It is unbelievable how you can talk for hours about someone you have never truly known.

Ryan confessed to me the other day that he had to fill out a survey for work and when asked how many children he has, he put 3 without a second thought.

They are ours.

We just need to bring them home.

My dearest Ivan and Levi,

Yesterday mama celebrated being your mama. Papa and your baby brother made sure it was a beautiful day, in fact it was perfect in every way... except one... you were not here with us. You were not here to roll around in the grass with us, chase the ball, or ride in the wagon. You were not here to accept all of the love that we have bottled up just waiting to pour out on you.

If you were here mama would have taken each of you aside for a couple minutes, rocked you on my lap and just soaked in the wonder and pure blessedness that you are mine and I am yours.

I know I will have next year, but that is very far away and right now all mama's heart can think of are the little moments that I am missing with you.

I watch your brother grow and change... we rejoice over each new discovery that he makes or silly little thing that he learns, but with every joy mama feels a tinge of sorrow for the moment that I have missed with you, not seeing you learn that new thing, or grow in that way. There is no way that we could of found you sooner. Mama has accepted that God's timing is absolutely perfect, but please know my darlings that every moment we have been apart, God has been the glue that has connected our hearts. I didn't notice it till I saw your precious faces, but you have always been ours, ever since the day your Abba made you.

Rest tight tonight my precious ones for we are not far from our glorious union.

With unconditional love,
Your mama

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Day

Good morning all!

It's a new day and with new days come new perspective and fresh hope.

I have some pictures I've been dying to post of Landon from yesterday, but first I want to share something beautiful with you.
.The burden I carry now is much more than just "our" adoption. I close my eyes at night and I see faces, not only just the faces of our sons, but faces like this one, and so many others.

Lene will turn 3 this coming August. She is an orphan, due to being blessed with an extra chromosome. She also has a special little heart (CHD) like our Landon. The first time I saw her picture my heart just broke.

To me, she looks like an angel. I don't understand why she is still waiting. When I look at the picture on the right, I can almost hear her saying mama, can't you? It is more than my heart can bare when my mind tells it that she does not have a mother to catch that waiting embrace.

It is just so wrong. SO SO wrong.

No child should have to spend one day without love, and yet many, so many, go their entire lives without belonging to a family. This little lovie deserves to sit around a table and share in the special moments that only happen when you're a part of something bigger than you. She deserves to be a daughter. Orphans are not daughters or sons, they are just orphans. They have no identitity, no voice, and many would say, no purpose, but I disagree.

I believe Lene is a display of the Lord's splendor (Isaiah 61:3), fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and God wants to bless the world with her presence and joy, but we need to go rescue her first. Someone, in the body of Christ needs to take a risk and fight for this precious one who cannot fight for herself.

Is it you??

This is my first advocacy post, and I was a little nervous to write it. I worry people are going to think I am crazy. Just for the record, I worry way to much what people think. It's my downfall. I'm a people pleaser to the core (there I admitted it).

I used to read some of my favorite adoption blogs (before we were adopting) and I would scroll by the ones where the author would be advocating for another child and think to myself man, can't she just focus on her own family and her own adoption. 

 But now I get it.

Once your heart is in this, there is no middle ground. There is no, "yes, my children are worthy of a loving family, but all these other kids, well... God will take care of them." No, God is calling His body to be His hands and His feet. I know the amount of orphans in the world is daunting. I know it seems impossible to save every one, but I heard a statistic once that all it would take is 7% of those who call themselves Christians to adopt and meet the needs of every. single. orphan.

There would be no more!!

Do we really think that God would give us this mandate and then make it impossible for us to fulfill?

No, He has provided us everything we need, we just need to be willing.

That is why I write overly emotional posts late at night, because, like Martin Luther King Jr,

I have a dream...

I have a dream that one day there would be no more orphans across the globe.

I have a dream that families would not be solely made up of blood relation, but would instead be determined by unconditional love.

I have a dream that the church would look for people who are called to adopt and give them everything they need to make it happen. Not just to bring a child into "a" family, but to bring as many children as possible into "the" family of God.

I have a dream where I see congregations rallying for adoptions and having banquets of celebration because a family has accepted the call. At these banquets people would give not because it was asked or required, or because they would win a prize, but because they couldn't wait bring this child home.

I have a dream that the church would realize that adoption is not a personal choice, but rather it's a mandate that the entire Body should be carrying, but few are, which is why it seems so darn heavy.

Martin Luther King Jr. was burdened by the injustice that he saw around him. Everyone just accepted it because it seemed like way too big of an issue to fix, but one man, stood up, shared his heart and his vision and it changed the world.

We can change the world.

Let's start by doing for "one" what we wish we could do for "everyone."

Could Lene be your "one"?

If you would like more information on Lene or feel called to give towards her future adoption you can do so HERE

If you feel like God is calling you to take a leap of love (stole that from you Kristin :) on Lene then please contact me or someone from Reece's Rainbow.

Well, again, passion took over and I never got to those pictures. It will have to wait for another day.

I will be taking a little sabbatical from blogging for the next week. Finals baby!!

Again, I want to express our sincerest gratitude to those of you who have given and prayed for our adoption. I never want my passion to come across as ingratitude for what God has been doing. And for the record, we belong to an AMAZING church congregation so when I address the "Body" I am talking about the entire Body of Christ around the globe, not just our lovely congregation here in Bismarck because we have been blown away by their support and love.

Have a great week! I will miss you!