"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


We all have numerous identities. The farmer, the banker, the doctor. The dad, the son, the sister, brother, etc.
I have had many identities in my life. In high school and bible school I was coach’s daughter and some others I won’t share ;-). Then I was Brian’s wife-the wife of a dairy farmer. I became Cybil’s mom, and then lots of babies’ moms! I was numerous things in the Willmar Mothers of Preschoolers group and at church, one of the well-known was the “organizer”. Then we of course became the (big family) missionaries who went to Africa. Throughout all this time, I was the mom of (4,5..8) who home schools and seems to be able to do it all with ease.
About 6 years ago, my identities were rocked, and rocked hard. Sure they had changed (single to married, working to staying at home), but then they were hit hard. Hard at was I who everyone (including myself) thought I was? Or at least perceived to be? And I am just now understanding what that rocking was.
I am a mom; that is who I am, what I do…and I didn’t (and still don’t always) see myself doing a very good job anymore.
I was a missionary, but now-well, I am back.
I have become the mother of Brian’s children, more than Brian’s wife.
What else do I have? Who am I? Am I anything else? Why is my identity tied to what I DO more than who I AM? Why do I judge who I AM based on how I am DOING it?
All I know is that I had/have begun to believe the lie that I am no longer doing a very good job at any of them. Based on what? On
the kids’ behavior? On my feelings? On the fact that I am where I am (physically) today.
Logically I know I am more than what my feelings will allow-I am. so. left. brained. My emotions do not connect to my knowledge a lot of the times. I rely on my logic so much, why should my feelings matter? Fake it till you make it, right? But there seems to be this aspect of feeling that is buried so deep, that the lies are believed there maybe. I have no problem believing something on the head level, but is my faith and trust truly behind it if I am not “feeling” it?
Yes, I know my identity in Christ. I am a daughter of the King, and I don’t want to discount that (logically). That is true but that is a whole other side that feels as if it has been rocked. I believed and followed through at a high cost, and whether just perceived or not, I feel my identity has changed in other’s eyes because of that too. Like that should matter, I know; but it does.
Because my children are seemingly my “it” right now-every function of life seems to revolve around them-what they do (it feels somewhere down deep) reflects on me. I have these standards and expectations for them that are mostly unrealistic. Standards for them that I don’t always hold to myself.
Grace. For whatever reason, my grace card with them isn’t very high, even for the littlest of mistakes (3+3=7). Stupid mistakes bother me with them and the sarcasm comes out (Really? 3+3=7? That’s what you learned 2 years ago in math?). Yet if I do something stupid like forget to subtract a check in the checkbook I just say “oops, forgot that one.”
How do I change this? Because I will always be their mom. This is where I have to choose to “walk out” my identity in Christ, but again that feels tattered still too. There is no intimacy, oftentimes I am only hanging on to the logic of it all. And I think that is enough, but it’s not all it is suppose to be. I am not looking for another thing to do to make myself a new identity either. I don’t want to start some new project so I can then be associated with that.
So without being too “Christian-eaze”, how do you deal with your identities-in Christ, as a mom, as a teacher/doctor/worker? How do you separate them? What do you do when you don’t feel you are doing one of them very well? When you struggle with the grace needed to do and be each of them? When you know that you are more than what you do but it just doesn’t feel like it?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

National Geography Bee

This past Wednesday Greta & Mariah participated in the area (home school) National Geography Bee. (I don't know if the public school here does it or not). It is for 4th-8th graders. Cybil & Mariah did it when they were in 4th/5th grades too.
The kids had a fun practice session a few weeks earlier. Mariah got 2nd place! Just one question made the difference. They both did a great job and I am really proud of Greta for doing it-that age range is pretty big and she said it was scary in front of all those people.
Some of the questions seemed just plain ridiculous, like who is gonna know that stuff?? Then some of it made me just realize how much info I take for granted. Like Wichita...everyone knows that is in Kansas, don't that???

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our clemetis (sp?) is STILL blooming!

Not bad for the first trappings of the season...

10 coons (told by the fur trader it was the nicest lot he had seen yet this year!)
4 fox
4 skunks
3 ferral cats
1 possum
4 musk rats

Friday, November 18, 2011

A few days ago Charles did the big first rollover to the screaming cheers of eight fans (Bri missed it). Here is his motivation--chewing on those fingers.

And...he made it.

And discovered it's not really all that exciting.

This morning Shera decided to lay down next to Henry and he grabbed her ear. Well, she of course wanted MORE attention. At one point he let go, so she was trying to "motivate" him to do some more but getting her nose under him. Later she put her head on his tummy, then her front paws and face. Very, very cute. But we probably won't be letting that happen anymore :) My 100lb dog on my 20lb baby isn't such a good idea.

This little curl was from a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, October 31, 2011

written and brought to you by Miss Hailey Rose...

What a happy day it is to go and play
There are leaves on the ground and it's fall
Soon it will be winter so get out the winter supplies
Snow is falling on the ground
Winter is here, it's here
It's cold outside but warm inside
Hot cocoa we drink
What a happy day
What a happy day it is yeah.

My God you are my God
You are my Lord
You are the Lord of all
You are my king
Lord I want you
I want to praise you
I love you, I love you
Lord I want you so much
You are the king of the world
And I will praise you with all my heart.

It's a pretty normal day for Hailey to be singing away songs that she just makes up. Sunday she decided to write some down :) She even has Myron blaring away his made up songs now!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


We watched a new movie last night, THE GRACE CARD. It was made by Calvary Church of the Nazarene in Memphis, TN. It was really pretty good. (Brian even cried at the end!)

A good movie for us for right now, I wonder what we will do with it?

Here is Tenth Avenue North with scenes from the movie.

I promise to pray for you everyday,
ask your forgiveness,
grant you the same,
and be your friend always.

Monday, October 17, 2011

have some from the wedding this summer to get up soon too.

Joe, Greta, Hailey, Charles, Cybil, Myron, Mariah, Henry

One of our favorite "african" meals. We ate this, A LOT. Eggs, toast (with homemade apple butter-in Zambia it was homemade rhubarb jelly!), little bacon (usually didn't have that) and a mix of peppers and onions fresh from the garden-fried in plenty of OIL of course!

The little man is getting big!

almost 3 months now-where has the time gone??!!

With my back problems I haven't really been able to do this yet, but I am sure he will grow to love it like Henry did!

We were all looking at some pictures at grandma's lately. It is just interesting how they are all such carbon copies as babies. There were pictures where you could hardly tell which baby was who!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

they did it!!!!

Saturday was the big day-Cybil & Mariah's 5k. I was not able to run it with them, or even walk it. I was/am pretty disappointed as it was my idea, but oh well, I'll get over it eventually! :)
It was a rainy day, but not too hot or cold. Charles and I were there (trying) to cheer them on. We drove out to the halfway point and then the corner near the end and finally the finish line. I, of course, forgot the camera.
As I said it was rainy and I guess a little slippery. On the one "hill" of the course Cybil slipped and fell down, twisting her ankle some. She pretty much walked the rest of the way. Mariah ran more but dealt with a "stitch" for much of the race.
I am proud of them for doing it. As I said, Charles and I "tried" to cheer them on; but I would get all misty every time I saw them or thought of them doing it, so I couldn't even say much-they got a thumbs up I think. I guess I can blame it on the postpartum hormones!
I wish I had been able to finish helping them train as the last 4 weeks or so was on the honor system of how much they ran vs. walked. I think they did as well as they could without that extra mom-kick in the pants.
I am sure they NEVER want to do that again! But they may just have to so I can have someone to run with next summer when I do my first 5k.

Great job girls!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anyone would think that having 6 days at home on the couch on your back, you'd be able to catch up with some things (reading, paperwork, etc). Well, it seems not so much. I can barely even tell you what I have been doing the last week.
Thursday morning I had appts with Henry and Charles while Joe had therapy. I decided to carry Charles in his car seat in case there were any "issues" with Henry. Not a good idea. By the time we were leaving I was starting to hurt, BAD. My back, legs were killing. It hurt to walk, I could barely drive, let alone a stick shift; and I still had to pick up Joe and get to a funeral. Well, needless to say I did not make it to the funeral. When I finally made it home with the three boys, Cybil and Mariah practically had to carry me into the house while I cried the whole way. My sciatic nerve had been sore and twitching off and on for a long time, since during pregnancy. Then I started running 3 weeks ago. I am not sure if that had an affect or not, but I am sure it didn't help.
After putting my legs up and resting and a warm bath, I actually didn't feel too bad, thought the worse was over. I made it through the night, but the next morning it was like starting all over again. I went into a chiropractor that morning and she had me back in for another treatment that afternoon. I can't tell you the name of the bones/area that is troublesome, but it's all in the hind end where the sciatic nerve is. Apparently it's one of the 3 bone areas that are affected in childbirth. She said the area was incredibly swollen, and because I am nursing we have to deal with my hormones which seem to be fighting everything I try to get the swelling down.
I do ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. I have done some muscle stimulation as well. I have also been to the chiro 2x a day Sat, Mon and will today. She said we may be able to take a day off tomorrow, we'll see what this afternoon holds. Thankfully she only charges by the day, not by the appt so going 2x costs the same as going once.
I almost had Brian take me to the ER on Friday night I was in so much pain (it gets worse before getting better, don't they say?). I did find out I could take a little stronger pain reliever so I made it through the night. It's weird to me that it really isn't even my back that is bugging me. It's all along the nerve path to my foot-my knee hurts, my ankle hurts, my calf feels like there is a charlie there I can't get rid of, but the muscle isn't tight at all. I have been icing my leg some now too. Sitting is pretty tough, driving is a killer. All those things just make the nerve path SCREAM. I actually think it feels worse than labor because it doesn't come and go like contracts-I don't know how long it will last or how to get relief for it.

I was supposed to run a 5K with Cybil and Mariah on October 8th. They are still doing their Couch 2 5K training {or so they say :-) }. I would still really like to run with them, but it's 3 1/2 weeks away and I just don't know if I will have enough time to build up to it (or even when I will be able to start running again). Neither of them are happy about running it in the first place, so since I am the one "making" them do it, I really do want to do it with them. I guess we'll have to wait and see. And as I type that, I know I sound super crazy considering how much pain I have been in for a week!

Anyway, I can't believe how little I have gotten done. I was going to start a book Saturday figuring I would finish it in no time, but I never got to it. I get pretty tired during the day because I wake up in big pain at night and can't get back to sleep (although now I think I know why that was happening and slept pretty good last night). Parenting from the couch isn't the easiest thing either. I know C & M are getting tired of having to do everything. And then there is school. It's just hard to get motivated to do it lying down. Going into town twice a day for appts takes up to an hour as well, and then I gotta rest when I get back. I know, I have it real tough :-). I am still hoping to wake up one morning miraculously healed!

Monday, September 5, 2011

for sale

Love seat and couch set. Still in very good condition. Asking $200 for the set.
Can deliver in the area :-)

Here is a close up of the pattern.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Of course, he wasn’t overdue…just my telling of his baby story. I was thinking and wondering why people tell and love to hear baby stories in the first place. I think it is partly just because it is about one of the most wonderful things that you can do in the world, but yet it doesn’t really last in a way. Soon after you start to forget what the actual experience was (especially any pain!). So, it may be good for you that I have waited almost four weeks, especially if you don’t like too many details! :-)

On Tuesday the 26th of July I went in for my regular 38 or so week checkup. I had had a few days here or there were I felt different or something, but nothing that felt like labor at all. The week before I had dilated to three cm if I remember. That morning I was a 4-5 and my waters were bulging, ready to come out. “I don’t think it is safe for you to go home” my doc told me. I have a history of transitioning and delivering very quickly (yeah me!). I did go home and get my bag and meet Brian so he could bring me in and we wouldn’t have two cars at the hospital. I got there around 11 am and got all checked in, had a little to eat and started walking around some. My dr. came a little before 1pm to break my water. I called Brian about 2pm and said he should probably come pretty soon. I wasn’t feeling too much, but as I said, once I do it can be boom-time!
He got there and we walked up and down the hall a time or two to get him some snacks and pop then started watching TV and at 3pm or so transition started. The nurse checked around 3:30 and I was at 8cm and moving right along. She quick called the doc who came as soon as she could. About that time the nurse also asked if I wanted any pain meds. I really haven’t been at the hospital early enough to have them before so hadn’t thought too much about it. I did get a shot of Nubane (sp?) and of course am glad I did! There were a few intense ones!
At 4:07 I was finally at a 10 so it was time to deliver. It is funny to me how I just started talking matter of fact about anything and everything in those few minutes. I remember thinking that up to that point I was totally okay thinking about labor and delivery and then when it was time I had a minute of “I can’t do this!” overwhelming feeling. I know this time also felt different because of the pain meds. It relaxed me enough that when it was time to push it felt like it took a lot of effort to even get the gumption to give a push. Anyway, three minutes later at 4:10 Charles Everett was born! Believe me, it felt like A LOT longer than three minutes! It was really only about two long pushes without a break in-between. His umbilical cord was around his shoulder a little like a harness, so he could start to come out then pull back in when I would stop to breathe. Who knows how much quicker it could have been!!
They took him to get weighed, measured, and cleaned up and all that and boy did he scream through the whole thing. Guess they call it the Nubane cry. As soon as they picked him up and brought him to me though, he immediately stopped crying-he knew his momma!

We of course spent the next two nights at the hospital. Brian brought all the kids up to see us the next day. Everyone had to have a turn holding him!

He was about 38 weeks, maybe a little earlier as you can tell by all the "cheese"

Dad making the phone calls

Finally cleaned up and cozy

Henry was just so cute-had this nervous/happy laugh for the first five minutes he was there

So proud!

Greta's turn

Sweet Hailey's

Mariah trying to get a turn

Mariah, our baby whisperer

Myron's turn

Myron being Myron!


(Cybil was everyone's helper but Brian didn't get a picture of just she and Charles)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I know, Brian thinks I am crazy, but the girls' bedroom made it to the finals of the Room Makeover Contest!! Please click the photo and vote-often! You can vote once each hour if you even want to! :-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the last two weeks...

...have been way more crazy than I would prefer!

Thought I would take a few minutes to write a bit. Of course, a few minutes will end up taking longer than I think just as everything else seems to be taking longer. Heck, even turning on the computer took longer as it did some wonky thing.

Things just seem more crazy and busy but really, I am not sure they are. 60-75% of the time everything is just going along and doing it's thing, then there are these moments of just plain ahhh and tension and it feels like things are exploding. We've had doctor appointments, VBS, getting ready for the fair, the bili blanket, something new will come out of the garden that needs to be cleaned or frozen, Brian was behind on some work...things here and there just add up. And then of course you throw in feedings every few hours. It feels like there is always something going on, something to be done but then you look back on the day and wonder just what got accomplished!

The kids for the most part have adjusted well to Charles. But let's face it, then do know they are getting a few extra jobs added on and there is a little less time for what they want to do. Myron and Henry are too interested in Charles sometimes, and of course at the same time so they have to argue about everything including who gets to sit where. There seems to be a lot more of that overall-just attitudes and "disagreements" about toys, chores, getting to do what they want. And with Brian gone sometimes all I can do is yell down the stairs. As you can imagine that is REAL helpful.

I was planning to start school next week, but I am not sure. I may just start Cybil so we can navigate a week of high school without having to do the younger kids' stuff too. It may take more than a week to figure out her rhythm, then we'll plug the others in. We are starting piano again, this time all 4 girls, so that is an afternoon away. We have a home school co-op that meets every other week so that is another afternoon, Joe has occupational therapy one day a week, so that will be another afternoon where I have to go somewhere. We're just not used to that. I can't imagine if they had after school activities most nights too...

It seems we are a family that just needs structure. Not that everyday at 10 am we do this or that, but the kids seem to do much better when we at least have a routine order. Breakfast, pickup, school until noon, lunch, finish school, etc. While they enjoy their free time, they do end up getting bored. There is only so much house and yard work that needs to be done, and with so many helpers it just doesn't take very long. It's been great for Cybil and Mariah to work with Brian some, but it is not quite part of the routine. So while it's good, it also seems to get us out of sorts. Someone asked Mariah if she was ready to start school yet and she said yes!

And yes, I am being hard on myself. Just like they say you "forget" much about labor and delivery after your baby is born, I think you forget the adjustment period afterwards too! It's hard to remember and compare though because after each kid you have different ages, different seasons and different jobs that it is hard to compare and keep expectations real.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

pics soon

We're working on getting a new rhythm, so pics will be coming soon. Kids 3-6 had VBS this week in the evenings so we were a little busy, plus two mornings of dr. appts. pretty much took the whole day up. Charles was at the top level of acceptable for bilirubin levels, so he had two days in this "bili blanket". Not really a blanket at all! But it worked and his numbers were down so things are good. I had a hard time getting him awake to eat and stay awake-who wants to wake up when you got this nice warm "blankie" around you all the time?? Now that he is off it he is eating much better, so that of course is good as he needs to start gaining weight now!

So, more pictures from the hospital and our "labor story" will be coming soon!


Don't forget to keep voting for Cybil and Mariah's room...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Cybil & Mariah need to get their room updated! Vote at the link to the left here to help us win! Thanks!

(Apparently you can vote...a lot. Like once per hour. 'Cuz you really have nothing else to do, right???)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Charles Everett is here!!

Here is a link the the hospital's baby nursery page with a few first photos of Charles!
More to come once we make it home later today, and then I am sure I will write up his "baby story" for you to enjoy :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yesterday I had a few errands to do in town, despite the nasty heat and humidity. First on the list was a quick pickup at the post office. Well, it should have been a quick pickup. I saw a small package from a gal in Minnesota that I knew had just been in Zambia. I thought maybe she had taken a few pictures to send us. Instead I opened the package to letters from our sweet students in Zambia! What a blessing and thrill. I turned the car off (no A/C anyway) and sat in the heat and let the sweat and tears mingle as I read their letters of thanks, encouragement and blessings to our family. It was soooo wonderful. One of them sent a snap of himself, a few sent a greeting card that they had painted themselves. It was all so sweet.
We have occasionally sent them a family photo, some of the kids art work, some updates through friends going over for a visit. Last summer the kids used "work money" to buy each of the first 12 students a bible cover. They didn't make it that summer and so they were suppose to get them while in the States last fall. We never knew if they actually got them, so it was nice to hear that they did receive them and that they were using them to keep their Bibles looking "sharp".
I always get a kick out of their writing. For one, it is generally very beautiful-some of those guys have the most beautiful cursive writing I have ever seen. Everything is also very formal and proper-Queen's English you know. And everything is spelled very phonetically, even if pronounced wrong. Most of them have troubles with their "L"s, so instead of Kelly Jo, I was often Kerry Jo, and so they wrote it that way. But it's funny that they also got their "R"s then mixed up with the "L"s as Myron became Milon or something similar. Hayree was another great one, but now of them mixed up the "great king Henry." :) Such simple things, such sweet memories.
Such sincerity in their words. These weren't written just to be written. There were specific memories, words of thanksgiving, notes of encouragement, blessings on our family. I really miss these guys, and considering how little time I actually spent with them compared to the kids, I can't imagine how their hearts break too.
I know there were some people who couldn't figure out why in the world we would go down to Iowa to see the students last year, a year after we left, with the heartbreak we went through. It's simple-relationships. Relationship is very highly valued in the African cultures; friends and family are a premium. And those relationships continue on. These guys will graduate from the bible school in a year and a half and from there we will probably not have contact ever again. So until then, we keep the little embers of relationship with them-for us, for the kids, for the students. I wish we could be there when they graduate to help send them off, to see them one more time; it's sweet to know that some of them have prayed that too.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

35 weeks, 3 days

Here's a new profile pic of baby boy. We're coming up on the end of the course, but it is still just a wee-bit too early, so I am suppose to "stay off my feet" aka bed rest until 37 weeks. I have already started dilating and when I am up and about for a while, I do feel contractions. It's not too big of a deal, I've got plenty of helpers...but it is of course fairly boring and I know the girls want to go to the library, and there are a few things I want to do...so I am only doing so-so on staying off my feet :-) My labor history is that once it starts, things go quickly, so we really are going to try to do what we can to hold off for another week. We'll see what happens. We made it through the big wedding weekend (although traveling there probably played a small part!) so there is really nothing left on the calendar for the month of July. 37-38 weeks is usually when I deliver anyway, so by the end of July this little guy will be here!

That of course means we need to get going on a name. We are thinking, trying to stay in the same "genre" of the other boys' names, without picking one with a nick name we don't want, or is not from a movie or show that makes us think of funny stuff... We've basically used a part of each grandpas name, so it's a little harder to chose this time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just a few random, in no-order-whatsoever photos from the big weekend...

The five flower girls

The three Jr. bridesmaids

the beginning of the trip began with a nap

Opening presents-our 7, brother's 4, and another half a dozen other kids. Can you say suffocation? And yes, this is pretty much what every Christmas is like too!

Joe and Myron kinda resting during the rehearsal

Myron was having fun dancing...and Kate was just trying to hang on!

After making it down the aisle in his own sweet time (didn't think he'd do it!), Henry decided to take a nap during the ceremony

Our shot at a family photo-most smiling, all looking at the camera-AMAZING!

Henry and Hailey were practicing their dancing

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just a little update about some things…
Mariah is back from camp and had a great time. We lost her purse, but they found it at the camp, so all is well. She has a horrible time remembering that thing… She is now on her stint with no big sister to help with kid watching, house work, etc. I am finding she isn’t quite as helpful as Cybil was… She missed her dad-asked where he was when she came home and was disappointed that he wouldn’t be home for a whole other day! :) VERY sweet!
Cybil is now at camp, right in the middle of her two weeks-she won’t be back until next Saturday still! She forgot her bible for camp though-got everything else she needed, but left that on her bed. Hmmm. She was great during her week without Mariah, very helpful with NO complaining. Way to go!
I am working on getting haircuts for everyone. Just Cybil left for the girls, and Joe and Myron for the boys, but I can do those at home myself. I am considering getting some highlights next week too. We got all the kids’ suits and dresses for the big wedding, shoes, nail polish, some earrings…oh boy what a process! :-) Only two more weeks until the big day! I found a top that will have to work. I limited myself on what colors I could get it-with everyone wearing either black, white or lapis (a purple shade), I didn’t think I should wear anything too different; I am sure we’ll take some family pictures. Which I am not super excited about at all-I will be a very FULL 35+ weeks pregnant. I don’t do “cute” pregnant.
Next weekend is Brian’s 20 year class reunion, and yes we are going. I know a few of his friends from high school, so I am hoping it won’t be too bad for me. I am not the most social/strike up a conversation person, so it could be a long night!
Pregnancy-wise I am doing pretty good. I do get some TERRIBLE pains around my ribs. I got them with the other boys too. I am at the end of 32 weeks I think, so about 6 left to go! So far it hasn’t been too horrible of a summer to be pregnant.
Way back in April/beginning May I talked about the home school conference and some of the workshops I went to, and then needed to do some things about what I learned. Well, we started that. Two weeks ago we took J down to the Intl. adoption clinic at the U of M to start some evaluations. The good news: they don’t think it’s FASD or even much RAD (more on that later). Some of the words we are learning about are sensory processing/deprivation/integration, sensation/auditory filtering, and possible cognitive disability. We are just beginning, so don’t ask me what they all mean right now, waiting for my first book to read to arrive. We have a few occupation therapy exercises we are suppose to have him do. We will be seeing a development psychologist at some point soon, and then a neuropsychologist who will do the cognitive testing. It will take awhile as many of these departments have long waiting lists. But we are doing all this so we can better understand how J thinks and then be better able to parent him. I don’t want to expect too much out of him, but I also don’t want to underestimate him either.
We continue to do some school-math and spelling and reading mainly, takes up an hour or less a day but helps keep them just a little busy. J is catching up on reading, H, G & C on math.
Brian continues to work like crazy whenever the weather cooperates. It is so weird to go back and forth from him here all the time (go away!) to not so often (when are you coming home?!).