A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scentsy party!!!! Christmas is coming!!!!

I am having an online Scentsy party - if you are local and get your order to me or my consultant then we can get you free shipping (but if you order online we cannot, just FYI).

I haven't had much experience with Scentsy prior to this but wow, it it great items, and smells LOVELY!!!!!

So, stock up for now, those glorious fall scents, and think about Christmas coming!  There are the most adorable little stuffed critters, wonderful warmers to go with the scents.  Imagine yummy smells throughout your house!

My party runs October 1 to October 14th.  Please go to this site to check it out:
https://barbaravolkema.scentsy.us/Scentsy/Buy?partyId=107703407.  That is my party.  It says "Oswald Van Party" - see, I told you we were going to pull out all the stops!  LOL!  My friend has started in Scentsy a few months ago and is doing amazing things with her business.  I am so glad to be able to be part of it.

So, take a look!  Have fun!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Challenging seasons

God never promised that following Him would be easy.  In fact, He promised that it would NOT be.  In my mind I always knew it, in my heart I knew it.  I just have to admit that I hoped that there might be shorter stretches of hard.

There are so many parts of life that are hard, and everyone faces it.  We all do.  Health, family, relationships, jobs, the economy, aging, transitions, all of it and more. We all walk this road of human life.  This was a life we were never intended for.  God designed us for heaven, that is our home.  This here, well, this is our journey.

Journeys are hard, they are long, and plans never seem to go as we planned - at least most journeys I have been on.

God set us a journey.  He set our family a particular journey.

No, we aren't missionaries - some days I wish we were.  I would expect some of this in a foreign country and it would be easier to put into a mental box.  But, in some ways, we are missionaries.  We ALL are.  We walk through a fallen world.  We try to be salt and light, and at times are despised and ridiculed for it.  It is a part of our life.  I wouldn't trade our journey, but I think it is acceptable to say that there are times that we all must get weary.  It is not a shock be despised and misunderstood by some.  But those unkind words and all really hurt.  When you do your best and try your hardest and unkindness comes, it hurts.  You want to scream and rail and deny, but you know it is pointless.  It hurts.

This has been a season.  A season we expected in some ways.  You don't choose to adopt children and parent ten children without knowing that there will be tough seasons in the process.  You don't choose to try to raise the children in an honorable way, with good work ethics and values as well as faith, and not know that there are going to be difficult times (to say the least).  You don't choose to start over with toddlers and not know that there are going to be days of weariness as they transition to a new life as well as grow as toddlers should.  You don't choose to purposefully encourage your children to follow their interests and passions and that you will do what you can to help them explore it - and not know that it might take them beyond your borders more than you would like.  You don't make the decision to parent so God's bent and plan for your children can be fostered and not know that this will stretch you in ways you might never imagine.  You don't choose to be public and transparent about your faith and motivations without knowing that there will be naysayers who choose to step in.  You don't choose to take life one step at a time, in faith, not entirely knowing where it will lead without knowing that sooner or later someone will say that you are irresponsible. 

And this is a season that has been so hard on our family in so many ways. The toddlers are doing well, and are toddlers - they are very good at being two and three!  The transition is coming.  They are bonding well and all.  But it is exhausting.  I told our Sunday school directors at church (for years) that it was very difficult if not beyond overwhelming for parents of a special needs child to get to church to be ministered to so they could better go on the path God had given them.  I knew from the families I worked with over the years that the stress of doing it all was just too much, so church became one more thing that just was too much.  And now I am living it.  Knowing that the ordeal that it takes to get everything done so the little ones can be at church with us, it is just enough to put me over the edge.  I think I have made it to church once a month in the last four months.  If someone isn't throwing up on me, or tantruming or (add whatever you can imagine), then we might make it, but most days it doesn't work that way.  So, I am distant from our church family.  Thankfully we have a wonderful live broadcast of it, so I am still participating, while herding toddlers and cleaning up messes.  But sadly I missed my youngest middle daughter's debut as part of the choir, which did cause me to shed some tears.  I saw her face, but it wasn't the same.  And it isn't the same.  We are called to be part of the body of Christ, but for the first time in my life, I am not in a position to give.  I have never not done that, in one way or the other.  See, that is my love language - service.  So I serve.  And now I cannot.  I know that it is the season that God has placed us in, but it is hard.  I don't know how to do anything but serve.  I just cannot right now. 

There is so much activity, so many challenges, many good, some hard, some just irritating.  The growing pains of all the kids, the challenges, the strengths, the beauty.  It is overwhelming.  All they need to learn to be fully the adults of character we pray for for them, I worry about it constantly.  Raising so many to adulthood, watching so many so close and knowing that I so want to send them out strong and complete and well, and ....  Yeah, you get it.

And it is a season in the economy that is difficult for everyone.  No one is doing very well from what I can tell.  For us it has been one thing after another.  If it isn't one car it is another.  Unexpected expenses, and of course, everyone wants it NOW.  (Me too, by the way)  Some days I just don't even want to open the mail.  Medical bills, ugh.  The bills we are working to pay off totally, the entire thing.  Balancing the budget.  I know that everyone is in the same spot.  That is only sort of reassuring, because I want to reach out and help others, and I feel like I have so little to give.  On top of that, the van died the other day - well, dead enough that it needs a new engine.  Sigh.  How do you get a family our size around with one small car?  Thankfully Alex has his car, so can help, but with soccer, physical therapy appointments, stable work and other appointments, it is going to be a challenge.  I do think I will end up driving Steve into work so I have the car some days, but it is what it is.  A couple more weeks and soccer will be done.  But life continues!

So, we, like most families need to take assessment of our resources.  We need to do everything we can to get through.  To pay for repairs, to be good stewards, to continue to pay off what little we have.  It is what we all do in a tough economy.  God gave us our gifts, our skills and creativity.  How do we all face this challenge?  It isn't just our family.  How do we do it?

Well, here are some thoughts.  Look around the house - what can be sold off?  Every dime counts.  Every little bit.  Amazon is a great place to sell books that you have in the house (we have lots and lots by the way).  Ebay.  We used that to get Kiley to Illinois to her training stable - that and something else very painful, but it was the right thing.  And God has blessed it. And part of what we are doing is something that doesn't quite make sense.  I don't know, I just know that God was very clear about it.

We are giving stuff away. 

Nothing like the house or anything, but other things.  Some is very clearly paying it forward - blessing others with things we have been gifted with over the years - pack and plays and what not that we have outgrown (don't even BEGIN to ask me if we think God might ask us to expand the family again - at this point, we don't think so, we are very much full up, but IF He does, IF He calls us again, then He will also help us to provide, so holding onto things "because maybe" just doesn't work for us).  Someone can use them right now.  Right now.  Somewhere someone is need.  I cannot be holding on with tight fists.  In any area of life.

I am going through and we are selling what we can, because, well, a new engine for our van is not cheap.  And not in the budget.  We have lived out life without credit, but there are still things that get piled up.  We have much less debt than you hear about, and frankly, (LOL!) most of it was incurred with adoptions.  Whether we let it build up as we balanced to bring kids home, or the one small credit card we have (less than $3000 in case you were curious - see, transparent), or whatever, but it is there.  We have been working the Dave Ramsey plan for ages, and are at it even more intensely right now.  And then the van.  Ah, we must have been on to something!!!  LOL!

So, here is our plan.  We sell - ebay, Amazon, creativity (my bags are now at a local store!!!!), my writing, and any hours we can get at jobs - I am confined to only working weekends with the littles at home, but even that is hard.  Our goal is to have that intensity done by Christmas, but who knows.  I am putting together more of our diabetes log books and we are working on a coloring book set of kids and families - in Amharic and English!  I want to give you ideas, and some of them are just dumb - like recycling your aluminum cans (literally, every dollar counts), doing odd jobs as they come up, saving money on everything you can, bartering for things you need.  There is no dumb answer.  I am threatening to put a jar in our room that says "van engine"!!!

God has placed us all here in this time, in this country, in this economy.  I wish I could reach out and touch all of the folks who are struggling - I am so very sure that we are not the only ones!  I know the frustration, struggle and despair.

But, BUT, God has placed us all here, for such a time as this.

What are YOU here for?  What is YOUR role in this life?  What has God put in your hands?  One step at a time, one thing at a time, but do it.  BE who God has called you to be.  Know that His path is not always easy, not comfortable at times, but it is His path and it is blessed.  Take part in the bigger picture of life.  Be who God intended you to be.  Reach out and fight for your family.  I found this video below as I was searching YouTube for music for while I was writing this - and it so spoke to how I felt today.  So, you go and fight the good fight - whatever it is God has called you to!!!

God Bless!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 24, 2012

More days...

I hope that no one thinks that I don't care, as you will have noticed that my writing has slowed down significantly this last six months or so!  But it is just that life is so very busy!  So busy living life that it is hard to write about it!

Fall is coming, here at the homestead, as much as we would rather that it wouldn't.  Horses and goats are getting fuzzier.  It seems early which may be a sign of an awful winter to come.  I hope not, but what can you do?  We have so much going on!  One horse is moving from the training stable because he is too young for training, and it lightens my load to have him right here at home.  Besides, he is my morning hug, and having him here will be so nice.  And cut down some of my running time!  And, I just got a call that Kiley's horse JT is wanted in IL, to be with her.  So there is a mad scramble underway to get him down to her.  At this point, it is for a month, but we are hoping that we can find a way for it to be longer.  We shall see what God has in mind!!!

That changes our routines as we have to care for the horses at the stable, as well as the horses here.  The horses here are just as sassy as ever and I always look forward to spending time with them.  My saddle horse had gone through a spell where he wasn't feeling so well, but he is clearly back to himself now, so I will be back to saddling him and doing some work here - and yes, with my helmet on (if you don't recall, I took a tumble a year and a half ago and got a concussion, I don't think I will ever live that down).

Alex has a new job - working for the NEW Zoo, just outside of Green Bay, and while it is a bit of a hike for him to get to work, it is a great job and he loves it.  Nice to see him happy and productive.  His senior year is becoming quite busy!

Zeri is still in PT, but we should be nearing the end - he is totally off of crutches and back to most of his normal things - but no impact and regular breaks.  He even went back to work for short bits, but there is still a lot that he cannot do.  It will come, but the healing goes well.

We are doing lots of reorganizing and deep cleaning and just generally passing on the blessings!  It is too easy to find that you held onto something because you might need it, when someone needed it today!  And we are finding that the blessing comes back to us too.  Just today, Kiley told me that she is coming home the first weekend of October, but she is also going to a homecoming that weekend.  Yikes - so I get her home on a Friday night and she is then needing the full dress and all for Saturday night!  Yikes!  Hooray for social media!  Threw the dilemna out into cyberspace, and we now have a selection of borrowed dresses for her to choose from for her day.  She doesn't really want one to keep - as she puts it "I'm not going to be likely to wear it again", but to be all girlie and fun (and not horse related) will be huge for her.  I can find a way to manage shoes and accessories on a short time frame!  What a hug from God!

We are approaching winter with hopes for spring and progress.  Around here there is always something that needs doing, some progress that can be made.  Each year it is a different project, and it all adds up.  So, there is some daydreaming going on.  God has his plans, mine are only wisps in the wind.  I throw them out there, but His plans will prevail.

Enjoy fall!!!!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, September 14, 2012

Whew, what a ride! God loves roller coasters!

We are approaching our eldest's 18th birthday, and I have very mixed feelings.  I am so very proud of this young man, all the things he is working on with character and for his future.  And even though I know in my mind that he is really a man now, it is hard to face.  He has been taller than me for quite some time (not a great feat if you know me face to face, as I am only five foot five) but in my heart he will always be that tow-headed baby who first made me a mama.

And there are so many other things going on!

Kiley is a Young Rider at a huge Dressage barn (think the horse things you saw in the Olympics - yep, that is what she is training to do and be).  It is the most amazing opportunity, one we did not seek out, one we weren't even aware existed.  We never dreamed that our oldest daughter would be living four hours away, managing all her cares and all (she is well capable and has been for quite some time), and that we would all be thriving.  I will admit to many days spent fighting tears - she has been my constant companion her entire life (she was the original child who still have the umbilical cord fully attached) , but to hear of her joy, her progress, her growth, and to be part of it, even from sort of afar, it is so amazing.  She has been there four weeks now, and we think she may be able to come home for a few days in a couple weeks.  Thank goodness for the internet and phones!  I don't know how my mom did it when I left home!!!!  Also, thank goodness Kiley has always been our driven child, advanced in her schooling, and able to direct her own path and studies.  This is a full internship, academically and all, and she is doing well.  But still, to this mama's heart it is hard.  Great, but hard.  Not what I had planned quite so soon.  But the joy in her voice makes it all worth it.

Zeri is healing from his fracture really well, he is now totally off of crutches, although he really has to limit how much standing and walking (and certainly impact) he gets.  He continues with physical therapy, but is healing well and should make a full recovery.  God is good!!!

Ben and Solly are loving middle school soccer (and I am grateful that Alex's car is fixed so he can help me with some of the running!!), and learning to manage their time more independently.  Good growth times.

Faith and Tsion are both blossoming in different ways.  It is so nice to see the sisterly closeness they have, and at times their need to be independent from each other - the four that are almost the same age (Ben, Solly, Tsion and Faith) revel at times in the uniqueness of their situation - how many other families have four kids in the same grade and nearly the same age???  LOL!

Aman is our entertainer - some days, and apparently has been teaching Azeb some of his dance moves, as she is sometimes very happy to demonstrate to everyone's great delight!

Speaking of Azeb - she had her first visit to the Down Syndrome Clinic at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee.  Steve and I realized that we have made at least 35 visits there in the last nine years as that is also where Kiley and Aman receive their diabetes follow up appointments.  There was a heart murmur noted that will be fully assessed with a sedated EKG - probably the only way to get any kind of ready on our active little whirlwind.  Bloodwork was taken for testing for other things that she might be more prone to, but no real concerns were noted.  We are blessed that the doctor there has an adult child with Downs and has also adopted two children internationally at young ages, so is very familiar with the myriad of issues we deal with.  And his assistant also has an adult child with DS!  It was a very helpful visit - for me this is a journey beyond being the professional treating a child with DS and now being the parent (but you never quite shut off the professional portion - so says my hubby who tells me that Azeb receives constant speech therapy - and he is right!).

Kahsu is spunky, and still the diva.  She is now up to 19 pounds, has outgrown one size of shoes, but is still our little peanut.  She delights in being a two year old in every sense of the word and then seeing how far she can wrapper her big siblings around her little finger!  Whew, some days!

Steve and I are finding that we are beginning to get our feet back under us again.  This is a common part of the transition when you adopt a child - everything changes, and for quite a while you are just getting through each day.  Not in a bad way, though sometimes that is the case also.  And then one day, you realize that some things are easier and feel more normal.  Or rather feel more like a "new" normal.  It is a time when we have to make sure we always have each other's back and keep supporting each other.  It is about giving 200%, because that is what is needed.  Some days you are in the eye of the hurricane and some days you are in the midst of the wind.  But you can never, ever, even for a moment look away from your partner - you need each other, you must watch for each other's needs.  Because what the family needs is so intense, and no one really quite understands.  And so you put on the face that everyone expects, and just get on with what needs to be done.  We have found that very few can relate, and sometimes it can be very lonely and isolating.  But we also know that it will smooth over, it will come around, and the intensity will subside.  The new normal will get worked into the tapestry.

So, here is to weaving the tapestry!  It is a picture only God could create and I just pray we each do the parts we are called to do!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11