One million “thank you’s”

Just a short three years ago our lives looked quite a bit different. We had one beautiful miracle baby and were unsure if God had anymore children in our future. Then in August 2014 we were whisked away to Utah to meet our daughter Amelia. In June 2016 our son, Arden, beat all the odds and arrive via csection with his fist up fighting! And then two weeks ago we made another trip to Utah to bring home our daughter Ashlynn, and bio sibling to Amelia. Words can’t even express how we feel right now! Besides tired, yes we are very tired. But the blessing of our kids out weigh our need for sleep. And we have a lot of coffee. 

A few months ago when the idea of Ashlynn wasn’t even in our minds I had a dream. In my dream I was inside a bank and was taken to a secret room. Inside that room the Bank Owner gave me a credit card and said, “it is activated.”  That was it and I woke up. I knew this dream had something to do with finances but I wasn’t sure what area in our life it was referring too, until now.  

When we received the call for Ashlynn we had no idea how we would do this financially. God told us not to worry so we moved forward with a shakey Yes. We knew how much this was going to cost and knew it was no small task for man, but for God it was easy. Since then we have been blessed with donantions ranging from $1-$5000 for the adoption. All making a huge impact in our lives. Everyone helping our child come home. We have been completely covered and blessed by everyone of your “Yes’s” to God. He sees you and is very proud of you and what we have all done here. Every share, like, encouraging word and time spent organizing was seen and heard by us and God. We feel/felt so much love. A million thank you’s. 

Now as I sit with this precious two week old on my chest reflecting on that dream. Knowing full well God knew what was coming our way and wanted me to know He had it covered. He sure did! His amazing children listened and followed through big time. It gives me so much hope and faith in Gods amazing love and plan for our lives. This girl is a true testament to God’s provision for our lives. He loves us so much.

We could not have done this with your amazing generosity so we thank you over and over a Million times. Thank you. 

I compiled a few photos of our time in Utah and the first few days of Ashlynn’s life, click on link below. 


Bringing Home Another Ohm

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Some may call us crazy

We received a call late Tuesday night informing us that our daughters birth mom was expecting again and she wanted us to adopt. My mouth dropped as I listened on the phone for all the details. She told me she is due early February and doesn’t know the gender yet. My heart leaped out of my chest and my nerves began to go into overdrive. We have a 7 year old, 2 year old and 5 month old so the thought of bringing a newborn into our family activated my anxiety. 

After hanging up the phone I called my husband, who was out running errands for our upcoming thanksgiving road trip. I laughed when he answered and said, “you will never guess who just called me!” After telling him the details he laughed too and asked when they needed an answer. We had 24 hrs. I didn’t sleep much that night. 

The entire trip down to Nashville was filled with us going back and forth, asking each other ALL of the questions.  Both of us willing to answer this call if it was God calling us. Was He calling? 

Fear set in and we decided to tell the agency we couldn’t do it at this time. We went to bed that night, silent, both praying. Secretly asking for a divine intervention. 

We woke up the next morning both feeling like we made a mistake. We didn’t know HOW we would do this but we knew we HAD to do this. It is too important to us, too important for our family, too important for our Amelia. 

So we said YES, a shaking yes but an obedient yes. Yes to Gods plan and ours. Yes to His Glory. Yes to this child. Yes to love on our precious Birth Mom. Yes to our daughter. Yes to crazy. Yes to the unknown and yes to help. 

We can’t do this alone. We have to walk this out with God every step of the way and we need you, Our friends and family. We need your prayers that God will pave the way clearly and one that only brings Him glory in this. We also need financial help. Would you be willing to walk along side of us in this? If you aren’t in a spot to donate we completely understand that and would love your prayers. We know God will provide the way. 

Much love and a million thank you’s

Click HERE to Support us. 

The Promise Land and our Pregnancy

I sit at a high top table in the corner of a coffee shop today trying to write for the very first time in months. My protruding belly almost hits the table and I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and love toward his people.  In October we found out we were pregnant, again. This will be our 8th pregnancy. (If you haven’t had the chance to read about our story you can read most of it here) Immediately, following the shock of this surprise pregnancy fear set in. I was reminded that this pregnancy didn’t surprise God. He has been preparing for this for a long time and He wants me to write this little boys story.

The idea of dreams and visions coming from God may seems crazy to most, for others it may fit perfectly into their daily routine.  Either way, this is our story and this is how God spoke to us during our time of our preparation.  It was about a year ago when my husband and I attended a conference at the HUB in Bloomingdale, Illinois. It was the same weekend as our church’s women’s retreat so I only attended one day.  I gave my pass to a friend who attended the remaining sessions of the conference.  While he was there he wore my name tag around his neck. During one of the nights he was there he offered to help a lady up the stairs with her baby. He carried the car seat up the stairs as he followed the women.  That is when God spoke to him.  (I’m paraphrasing here) He said, “What are you doing and who’s name tag are you wearing? This means something.” God told him this was significant and he needed to tell Adam and I that God has a plan for us, a plan for us to have a baby. This man has walked with us through some really hard times and he knew the heaviness that went along with this declaration and promise.  He knew we were mentally and emotionally done when it came to pregnancy.  In obedience, He told us anyway.  That same weekend my husband told me he had a vision of throwing a boy up in the air and this boy looked  a lot like him at a young age. I was still skeptical due to my fear of pregnancy and I have never experienced a vision before. I didn’t understand how God spoke to his people this way.  How do I handle this news?

A few months went by and we decided to go to another conference.  This one was a youth conference put on by Todd White and we went with a few of our youth leaders at our church.  We sat down in the big sanctuary and for some reason my very shy self turned around and introduced myself to the lady behind us.  She was holding a baby and I asked her a few typical mommy questions.  Hesitantly, she told me that God gave her a vision when we sat down. She said she saw me holding a baby boy in my arms.  I told her my story and I found out she had a very similar one. Immediately, she wanted me to meet a man that had prayed for her to get pregnant along with many others she knew.  She went on to tell me that these women he had prayed for has sense had babies.  I reluctantly agreed and a few others came over as well.  In a circle these strangers began to pray for me.  The lady began by sharing her vision and adding that God showed her this boy had a gold crown placed on his head.  Another man spoke up and said he saw a path covered in weeds and thorns, unable to let anyone pass. The vision went dark and then when it came to again the path was completely cleared, covered in gold, and had beautiful flowers lining each side of the path. I went home that night filled with so much hope and excitement for what God had in store for our lives.  A few months went by and someone else would share with us that they had a dream about me and I was holding a baby boy.  Countless times God reminded us of His promise by speaking through his people.  Then, one October day that promise was brought to life and we stood in the middle of our living room looking at each other and said, “well this is it! You ready?” Are we ready to enter the promise land, one that flows with milk and honey? (Ex 3:17)

If I am going to be completely honest with you all, I wasn’t ready.  Even with all the visions and dreams God provided us, I was still scared to my core.  My fear was solely based on my past experiences and not on the expectation of what God had promised.  Many of us have not been raised to believe that God is the God in the bible.  The one who preformed miracles, the one who spoke to his people, the one that brought people out of slavery, the one who sent angles to speak his truth and promises, the one who sent his only son to die for us.  Many of us don’t believe he is still alive and working in our lives today.

In Exodus 3, God speaks to Moses through a burning bush.  Moses had just spent 40 years outside of Egypt escaping his past. God was now calling him back into Egypt to save his people from slavery. Moses did not believe he could do such a thing and argued with God that they would not believe him, he asked him in v. 13 “Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Isrealites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘what is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” v.14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Isrealites; ‘I Am has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Isrealites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers-The God of Abraham, The God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-Has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

Moses continued to tell God that he was not capable of such a task and God encouraged him that he would not leave him to do this alone.  He would be there with him every single step of the way. He would give Moses signs and miracles to use so that the pharaoh would believe him and let His people out of Egypt.  (Exodus 4)

Do you think the isrealites were scared to follow Moses?  I believe so.  The isrealites were slaves in Egypt for 430 years (Ex 12:41) and this was all they knew. They may have heard stories that were past down from generation to generation about the Land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Gen 50:24) But, when slavery is all you know doubt and fear will set in.  The task Moses laid out before them seemed impossible and I would believe that some even argued with Moses.  There were many nights I argued with God.  “God I can’t do this.  You know my history.  My body does not like human beings in there.  Have someone else do it” I wanted to stay in the place I knew,  I didn’t want to cross over into the unknown because I was afraid of getting hurt.  I wanted to stay in Egypt because the promise land seemed impossible.

Do we believe that God is who He says He is in Exodus 3?  He is “I AM”  the one that is constant, unchanging and forever and always the same.  He is the same God of Abraham, the same God that helped Moses bring his people out of slavery and He is the same God today. The same God that likes to take the impossible and make them possible.  This same God brought a precious life into a body that was overtaken by fear and rejection.  He brought life where death once resided.  He stays the same even when I doubt.  The enemy wants you to stay enslaved to your past.  A past that is covered in pain, failure and regret. But our God wants to bring us out of that and into the Land he has promised for us. A land that is filled with His Goodness.

I have a task you.  Will you try something with me?  Will you sit quietly for a few minutes and invite God too come and be with you.  Close your eyes and picture yourself sitting with God. You may see yourself sitting on a park bench in a quiet garden or walking together on a seashore.  Wherever your place is I ask that you invite Him there and see what He may have to say to you.  It could be in the form of a word or a picture may enter your mind or it could even be a sensation.  Everyone has difference experiences so be open to what He may have for you. He is here, He is real and He is ready to speak with you.  I believe He wants to take you to the promise land. Doubt may come knocking, trying to convince you to stay in what you know, but we have to be willing to let go of the past and believe in the truth and promise that God has set before us.

(feel free to talk with me about what God shows you during this time, I would love to hear and pray for you)

 

How To Find Community & Giveaway!!

I am part of a church where community is important and needed. Community is where life happens, love is shown and grace is given.  But how do you find your community?  How do you keep your community when life is so busy?

Recently, as most of you know, I have been a part of a wonderful community that was created by Jen Hatmaker.  Jen is the author of best selling book, 7 as well as many other amazing books. We were brought together for the sole purpose of launching her new book, For The Love, but it became much more than that. We became a community of women (and 4 men) that came together and do life together. How did this happen? We had this author that wrote this book that was inspired by the one who loves the best, Jesus.  We had a example to go by and Jen made it so easy to follow.  “Be kind, be you, love Jesus.”7e2b295dda5342f5314e10090cdc7f0e

Everyone needs community. Men were not not meant to be alone.  That is why God created Eve for Adam, to have someone to share life with. If you are like me, even the tiniest bit, you understand how easy it is to be alone. Why is that? My thought is because that is what the enemy wants. The enemy wants us to be alone so he makes it very easy to do so.  Being alone creates a space for lies to seep in. We have to go against the grain and fight for what God intended, fight for community.  When you surround yourself with your community it create a wall of truth around you, like a hedge. You community is there to inspire you, speak into you, stand by you in the hard times and cheer with you during the good.  But many of us get into funk and say things like, “I have no one to hang out with” or feel left out when we hear of events that we were not invited to participate in.  We end up sitting at home feeling sorry for ourselves.  Trust me…I am an expert of feeling sorry for myself!

11887955_1625563701056056_6885650785606638482_nJen states it so boldly, “Instead of waiting for community, provide it, and you will end up with it anyway.”  What does this look like?  I means opening your home, making a call and reaching out. It means providing a space for someone to come, share a cup of coffee and their heart.  “If you build it, they will come.”(not from the book but it goes well doesn’t it?) I took a hold of this advice and held tight to it while reading her new book. I so easily get caught up in my day to day and I forget to reach out. Before I know it I find myself in a deep dark hole alone and unsure how to get out. It takes community to create a staircase that will lead you out of that hole. You provide the community, they will provide the love.

“Let’s lay down our junk, our wonky junk that messes up relationships and community and togetherness. We won’t let our own crazy stop us from affirming each other and banging the drum for our sisters.”  Let’s band together and be there for one another! Let’s create a safe place to come with no judgement and only love. The kind of love Jesus has for everyone.
Want to know more? Jen talks about it all in her new book, For the Love.  These are a few things you can expect from this book:

-Break free of guilt and shame by dismantling the unattainable Pinterest life.

-Learn to engage our culture’s controversial issues with a grace-first approach.

-Be liberated to love and release the burden of always being right.

-Identify the tools you already have to develop real-life, all-in, know-my-junk-but-love-me-anyway friendships.

-Escape our impossible standards for parenting and marriage by accepting the standard of “mostly good.”

-Laugh your butt off.

Want a FREE copy? Today is the release day of this amazing book and to celebrate I am giving one away!!  Follow these simple steps for a chance to win your very own hard copy of For The Love.

1.  Follow Hope Matters (to the right—>)AND sign up for Jen’s email list! CLICK HERE!! EF’s (email friends) are seriously the best thing ever.

2. Comment below and tell me the best way you feel love through community? (Ex:  coffee with a friend)

3. Share post via Facebook OR Tag two friends via Instagram 

That’s it!! Good luck!! Giveaway ends Friday August 21st at Noon (central time)

This blog post is part of of blog tour to help launch Jen’s book, For The Love. The blog tour will take place August 18th through September 30, 2015.  To check out the other blogs click HERE! 

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Dream Series: Amy Soden

As you stand in the middle of the aisle, gazing at the shelves, staring at you in the face is a beautiful picture of a crystal clear lake, surrounded by wonderful fall colored leaves that are reflecting on the water.  The colors and beauty of this picture pull you into a trance and you stand there in the aisle debating with yourself.  It is a 1000 piece puzzle, the one with the microscopic pieces that never seem to find a place together or they find a hiding spot on your dining room floor never to be found again. Optimistically, you decide to buy it and plan to do it over a long wintery weekend at home.  “This will be a fun project” you convince yourself and head up to the counter.  The weekend comes and you pull out the puzzle.  The first thing you do is open the box and pour out all the pieces.  Set the box up so you can see the beautiful picture and begin to flip all the pieces over.  Once every single piece is turned over you stop, dead in your tracks, and stare at ALL THE TINY PIECES!!!  “What did I get myself into?”  If you are like me, you would’ve anxiously walked away and grabbed a cup of coffee and decide to take a short break to see what was on HGTV.  You know the rest to that story, an hour later you are sitting on your couch planning out a complete kitchen renovation, not including the puzzle!  If you want to get anything done during the day you would have to have the remote in hand, ready to push the power button as soon as the show is over.  Otherwise, if you wait just 30 seconds you are already hooked on the next episode and the puzzle becomes yesterday’s news.  With all those tiny pieces you are frustrated at how long it will take & unable to see the bigger picture.

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When I interviewed Amy I could see how God was creating this bigger picture, piece by piece.  Amy grew up in New Jersey, right outside of Philly.  One day, as she was looking at a map of the United States she laid her hand over the midwest area and said, “I don’t want to ever live anywhere under here!”  You know what happens when you say things like that right?!  Well, Amy made a spur of a moment moved to Chicago area just 1 year after making that statement!  She has been out here for 9 years now and has fallen in love with her new home.  Amy works at Compassion Mobile Experience as a tour Manager.  She is on the road for 3-5 weeks at a time and then home for one.  She works with a marketing company based out of Kentucky and represents Compassion as they bring the Experience across the U.S.  She is in a different city each week in hopes of connecting children with a sponsor.  Compassion is one of the highest rated non-profits according to Charity Navigator.  If you would like to learn more about Compassion please check them out HERE!about-compassion-experience-1

That is a dream job in itself but Amy has a bigger dream.  When I asked her about her dream this is what she said:

“For quite some time I felt as if there was a nudging, a stirring, of something to come. It just wasn’t quite a vision until this summer…when I was in the Nevada desert…stuck in the most beautiful and calm traffic jam one could ever be in! Seriously! It was a perfect sunny/partly cloudy, just the right temp and breeze, beautiful landscaped day to drive 22 miles in 4 hours. All of a sudden, in the stillness, this vision came to me.”

I love when God takes moments like these to speak to us.  It is as if he creates these moments just for us, to get us to slow down so he can have some alone time with us to talk.  It’s our job to see these moments and listen and open our hearts.  In that stillness, God showed Amy a vision, a snap shot of what He sees/hopes for her life.

Her dream? She says, “Some day, I want to open up a quality childcare center in a hurting neighborhood.”amy soden1

She would love for this childcare center to be on a sliding scale payment system that also offers parenting & vocational training or guidance.  She wants this center to invest in the community, starting at the youngest generation.  She would love to work alongside the local churches, but not necessarily in a church.

“My vision is to start this at the ground level at birth and preschool age. Start from birth with instilling value and vision and a future into the hearts and minds of kids and we may very well change a community, a city, a country, the world.”

Wow!  Doesn’t that just get you!?  I get goosebumps all over my body when I think about these children she will be raising up to change the world.  If we want to change the world we have to teach the children how be bold and not settle.  It is all about moving through the generations and little by little we will see that change.  Once piece at time.  She spent nearly 12 years in both the traditional childcare center aspect, as well as residential childcare for foster children.  She felt burnt out and eventually left that field, thinking she would never come back.  But she says,  “Thinking through this vision, and my experiences, as well as my degrees, I can see how it all matches up and completely makes sense” God is working through her life one piece at a time so that eventually we can all see this beautiful picture he has created.

I went on to ask Amy about what is standing in her way of this dream.  I love her response.

“Self doubt, though honestly at this point I believe this vision will become reality. But I’m human. And female. So self doubt, those lies, are always there. If this is something that could bring hope and break a cycle of poverty than I know the road will be bumpy because any thing worth fighting for is a battle-but it’s winnable. Good triumphs over evil. Always.
And money. It will take money to do this. Lots of funding. At this point that isn’t even a focus. But it will be. And it will be huge. But attainable.”

I love her faith.  Yes, there is doubt but she is not going to let that stand in her way of breaking a cycle and making a change.  She is going to take this dream one puzzle piece at a time and she has faith that she will see the finished product, a beautiful crystal clear lake with autumn trees reflecting in the sunlight!  She knows that it is going to take hard work and through that hard work God will do some amazing things.  P-583420-CAPMgQ1IDu-1

A dream like this doesn’t happen on its own, she needs your help.  Please be praying for her and this dream God has given her.  Pray she has the patience and perseverance to see this through and bring people into her life that will walk alongside of her!  She plans to bring this dream to life in the Chicago Land area, if you or anyone you know have any resources to help Amy, please let me know.

Keep working that puzzle.

When