Monday, December 31, 2012



What a year this has been.

I think 2012 just might have been the craziest roller-coaster-ride of a year that our family has ever traversed upon, and really...that's saying something.

We've seen some pretty crazy years.

The year began with the knowledge that sometime, somehow, we were going to have to uproot our family of seven and move to a bigger house.  Our 940-square-foot, single bathroom home was nearing the breaking point as it tried in vain to contain all the prancing little feet of our children, and yet even the thought of sorting through, packing and moving all the stuff in our lives was enough to send this ADHD girl into a pickled frenzy.  I lamented the thought of the looming move, knowing in my heart of hearts that I simply was not capable of the stick-to-it-ativeness required for such a feat. 

And yet, it was somehow accomplished.  I fell in love with the farmhouse of my dreams, which lit a fire under my stuck-to-the-sofa backside and provided the motivation needed to start packing for real.  I actually, for the first time that I remember, asked God for a material possession...and God answered my prayers and blessed our family with a beautiful new home full of history and character, reminding me of His delight in being my Father and in fulfilling some of the deepest desires of my heart.  And I learned that when it really counts, I truly am capable of more than I think...even if the progress is painfully slow.

2012 also marked the first full year of homeschooling for our daughter Miss M, who has Reactive Attachment Disorder.  The experience of schooling her has had so many ups and downs, I often feel like I'm in a tailspin.  I've had to come to terms with some pretty big flaws in myself, and have been incredibly thankful for God's unfailing love in the midst of my failures.  There have been some horrendously awful days, when I've had to cling to God and to the blessings He's given me instead of allowing myself to focus on the trials of raising Attachment Disordered kids, but there have also been bittersweet days of pondering what should have been, and beautiful, hopeful days of witnessing first-hand the miracle of healing in a broken child.  Both Miss M and I are continuing to learn, trust, and thrive together...through good days and we move onward down the path of building and healing our relationship.

So there's homeschooling...and then the actual moving into our farmhouse, of course, which we did officially in May...and then on the heels of our moving week, there was our little family announcement that stirred up more than a few people as we have now been officially deemed "one of those really crazy families".  Blessed, we like to call it.  But that same joyful announcement resulted in months of Mama-sickness, which made the first trimester seem like an endless fog of nausea and fatigue.  And our unpacking and all our big plans for a huge garden and a homemade chicken coop were put on hold as Daddy stepped in to play Mama for a while. 

And then over the summer, as the rest of our family began settling into our new surroundings, it became increasingly obvious that our oldest son, Mr. J, who also has RAD, was struggling with unseen demons from his past.  His behavior was back-sliding; his respect for authority was nearly non-existent.  He became angry at the slightest insinuation of error on his part, and with every necessary parental correction.  The rage, which he had previously held in check for months at a time, was almost always bubbling near the surface, and our family began to live in fear of when his next explosion would occur. 

Looking back, it was a perfect storm for our son.  We anticipated that moving would be difficult for him, as feelings of instability and unpredictability had always thrown off his sense of security and affected his behavior.  What we did not factor in was, at nearly thirteen, the onset of puberty which coincided with our move.  A rage-filled adolescent with raging hormones to boot.  New house, new chores, the prospect of being homeschooled in the fall, new in-depth talks with Mom and Dad, preparing him for life as a teen, and a body pumped full of testosterone.  He simply couldn't handle it; couldn't pretend to be "perfect" and "normal" any longer, and the rage and trauma of his first six years took over.

And so we entered what has probably been the darkest period in our family's history.  Lots of uncertainty, lots of violence coming from our son, terror from our younger children, despair from Scott and me.  Mr. J spent the better part of a month in a mental hospital, where he got worse instead of better.  He came home unwilling to try at all and refused to go to school, trying to force me to homeschool him when everyone agreed that it just wasn't safe for the rest of the family.  He was out of control, threatening in detail to kill Scott and me and our baby, and was ultimately arrested for assaulting police officers in our home. 

We left no stone unturned to find help for our son, seeking out a placement in either a RAD facility or a nearby boys' home that understood the manipulation that goes along with RAD.  With four younger kids and a baby on the way, the option to bring him home was simply not there, yet we were bogged down by loads of red tape wherever we turned.  He remained incarcerated for more than two months, when God miraculously opened a single door for us.  Mr. J was (without incident!) transported to his new therapeutic boarding school just one day before the charges against him would have given him a permanent criminal record.

2012, you have been a year full of surprises. 
Of excitement, anticipation, joy, anger, faithfulness, frustration, fear and pain.

You have held great beauty.

You have held great sadness.

You've held great joy and silliness and love.
You have taught lessons of humility, and have revealed moments of clarity amid ordinary chaos.

You have given me opportunity to share in the burdens of others, and occasionally to offer wisdom I've acquired on my own Christian walk.

You have taught us about true friendship and the Body of Christ, teaching us to humbly accept love and hugs and prayers and meals and unexpected gifts and so many instances of personal sacrifice when we've had nothing of our own left to give.  When we've been drowning.  Our real friends and family...those who truly care about us...have held us up when there were no words of advice or comfort they could give.  Our Jonathans and Aarons.  We are so very blessed.

Above all, 2012, you've shown us God's goodness and His faithfulness and have given us opportunity to step out in faith.  And while we've got a long way to go, you've given us ample practice at trusting God in all things; things beyond our control and more difficult than we ever could have imagined. 

Yes, we'll remember you, 2012.  

But instead of the year when our lives fell apart, we'll remember you as the year of miracles.  A new home, a healing daughter, a new baby son growing inside me, a happy family in spite of all we've been through, a new appreciation for true friends and family, a vibrant marriage that's coming out stronger because of its trials, ever-increasing faith and reliance on God, and so many answers to prayer.

There is nothing too big for our God.

And so we start 2013 with a new prayer request.  We pray for a healthy family.  Our new baby son, who will be here in two weeks time, our daughter Miss M, who has so much healing yet to do, our little ones, Miss J, Mr. C, and little Mr. K, who have seen and heard so many hurtful things from their siblings in their short lives.  Both my husband and myself, who have symptoms of PTSD.  And please...pray for Mr. J, away at this school...that something will change in his heart, that he will begin to heal, and that he will desire to live for Christ.

We appreciate you more than you could know.

Have a blessed New Year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


So, we did it.

We took the giant leap of faith.

Are we crazy?  I have the feeling some may think so.  I understand that it sounds crazy and irresponsible to the world in general to send your son away to a boarding school when the funds aren't in your bank account. 

Perhaps it would have been a better financial decision for our family to let the courts have him.  It would have required less trust and blind faith, that's for sure, but it also would have required leaving all the decisions about our son's future in the hands of people (albeit competent and over-worked people) that don't know our son, don't love our son, and don't really, truly care about our son's heart and his long-term healing.

We felt it was best to leave the decision-making to God, whose love for Mr. J is as incomprehensible as a galaxy full of stars.

And so, in the last few days, we began this new journey of trusting God; of stepping out in faith, and believing beyond a doubt that somehow, God will provide.  Funding, yes.  But mostly, we're trusting God to provide a measure of healing in Mr. J throughout this next year.

We're placing our son, whom we love, securely in the hands of God. 

Yesterday morning at about three o'clock, my husband, my dad, and two of the best friends my husband could ask for set out to pick our son up at Juvenile Detention and to transport him to the facility.  It's about a twelve hour drive, and no one expected Mr. J to be compliant.  In fact, because of his recent violent behavior while incarcerated, everyone feared the worst.  I have to say, though, that God showed up in an incredible way.

And so I share the story of the first miracle of our journey, although I'm going to let my husband tell it, as written to our group of prayer partners last night:

Hello friends, family and prayer warriors,

Forgive me if this rambles a bit or doesn't always make sense - I got about 2 hours of sleep last night.

I don't know how else to say it - we experienced a miracle today.  From the moment J was released from Juvenile Detention to the moment I said goodbye, we had NOT ONE issue the entire 12 hour trip.  I'll say it again - NOT ONE!!!  After all of the violent and assaultive episodes of the past 4 months, there wasn't even a single attitude problem, let alone a violent act.  Considering the God we serve, though, we shouldn't really be surprised.  According to several facebook messages and emails, God was waking people up at various times all over West Michigan, just as the trip was beginning, to cover us with prayer.  On top of all of this, it just so happened that the detention center employee assigned to help J as he was being released was R.  You may remember that R was the believer who prayed for J and talked him through an angry outburst during a visit a few weeks back.  It was no accident that he just happened to be with J this morning.

All of us on the trip were impressed with the facility and staff.  It is absolutely founded on rock solid Biblical principles.  They believe that they are not the ones to help these boys but it is the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God that will accomplish it.  Rather than spending a year away from God in a faithless institution, J is going to be absolutely surrounded by the Word of God and strong men of faith.  It will not be an easy place for him as they require complete obedience in everything, even down to the exact way each student's bed is to be made.  Pretty soon, possibly tomorrow, he begins physical exercise and work detail. 

Please continue to pray for J.  I am sure he is completely terrified right now.  After he said goodbye, he began his time at the facility with Julio, a staff member.  J attempted to manipulate Julio with lies about us, deflecting all blame to others, intimidation (which, considering Julio is built like a Sherman Tank, proved fruitless), tears, and bragging about being tough by assaulting police officers.  This manipulation did not work on Julio, who has seen it all before.  Julio deeply challenged him after J reported that he was already saved.  These challenges actually brought out some real emotion and sadness, which I haven't seen or heard in a long time. 

Please pray for safe travels home tomorrow for four very tired and joyful guys.  We can't get over the fact that God showed up in such a huge way.  I am full of hope because J is where the Lord wants him right now.  After the events of today, I firmly believe it and have more peace than I have had during this whole ordeal.

Thank you for praying.  Please don't stop!  Though we finally can rest a little knowing where J will be, this is only the very beginning of the long road to healing. 

In Christ,

So that's where it stands right now.  And have I mentioned that I adore my God-fearing husband?  I love him like crazy!

And speaking of those who think we are crazy to trust some "supernatural being" with providing for our family and healing our son, I would challenge that you simply do not know the God we serve.  His goodness, His mercy, His depth of love and faithfulness...they are unfathomable.  It's impossible to "foolishly" trust in Him, as long as you are walking in His will.  I would absolutely love to introduce you to the Almighty God of the Bible, and specifically to His son Jesus.  Just drop me an email at, and I would be happy to explain our brand of crazy to you!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stepping Out in Faith

Earlier this week, we celebrated our little daughter's seventh birthday.  I can hardly believe that it's been a solid seven years since that beautiful moment when they placed that tiny squalling baby on my chest, when everyone commented on the generous amount of hair on her darling peanut-shaped head.  Seven years have passed since I first cradled that tiny pink bundle in my arms, since I sat in a hospital bed and watched as her daddy changed his very first diaper ever, little limbs flailing every which way, creating a bigger mess than the one that needed to be changed. 

Yes, seven years have flown by since that nerve-wracking snowy car ride, the one when I sat in back and checked every few seconds to make sure she was still breathing.  And those first few hours when I couldn't believe they would just send us out the door with a tiny little person that we had no idea how to care for. 

My first baby.  The first piece of my heart that left my body and took on a life all its own.

And it's been seven years now since I first had to let go of my previous belief that I was in control of anything.

I wasn't in control of whether or not I could nurse this baby, of the weight she would or would not gain from one appointment to the next, of the jaundice that forced her to be lit up like a glow-worm for days, or the constant blood draws needed to check those dangerously high bilirubin numbers.  I wasn't in control of how long she would sleep at one time, how much she would cry or spit up, or when a blow-out diaper would put a wrench in my plans for the day.  And as I fell into a routine of checking in on my little baby daughter every hour to make sure she was still breathing, I was painfully aware that I was not even in control of the next breath she would take.

I had to place her in God's hands and learn to trust in Him.

Having a baby required us to step out in faith.

When our daughter was only a few weeks old, we felt the pull from God to pursue adopting Mr. J and Miss M, who were foster children in my sister and brother-in-law's home.  In all honesty, it seemed like a really outrageous idea, considering that we had just given birth to our first child and were perfectly content with our new little family.  And these children had been through so much; we knew they would be challenging for anyone to raise, much less young, inexperienced parents like us.  But God's will for our family was blatantly strong and evident, and the pull would not diminish no matter how much we tried to reason it away.  So we began our next journey in faith and trust, knowing full well we didn't have all the answers.

When the kids came to live with us, our baby daughter was almost eleven months old, and we learned pretty quickly that we were not in control of these new children, either.  We weren't in control of whether a tantrum would cause us to be several hours late for Thanksgiving dinner, of whether or not requesting that a child brush her teeth would result in hours of rage, or if we would be hit, kicked or bitten by a raging child.  We couldn't control whether or not our son had a melt-down at school or kicked the teacher's desk, or whether he would steal money from the girl he sat next to in class.  And as some of these behaviors and attitudes threatened to dominate our lives and our family, we became painfully aware that no matter what we did, we were not in control of whether or not these traumatized children ever began to change or heal.

We had to place them in God's hands and learn to trust in Him. 

Adoption required us to step out in faith.

And now, we're being stretched and tested yet again.  Coinciding with puberty, our traumatized son's internalized rage and fear has finally caught up with him, and he is out of control.  First in our home, then in a mental hospital, and now at Juvenile Detention, where he is currently locked in his room because of his violent outbursts.  He continues to insist that he'll kill us if he comes home, and so obviously, it isn't safe for him to be here, either. 

We want him to get help.  We want him to learn to take responsibility for his actions.  We want him to be forced to work hard on getting himself to a place where he can even begin to let God heal the hurt that lies deep inside of him.

And we feel that we've found the best option: a highly structured, highly disciplined, military-style therapeutic boarding school that is built on the truth of God's Word. 

Getting him to this school before his court hearing on Wednesday would cancel the hearing and essentially drop the charges that are against him, which are severe enough that they will otherwise follow him into adulthood.  It would also keep him out of the juvenile criminal system for at least another year, giving Mr. J the chance to allow God to work in his life before then and to make better choices upon his return home.  Our hope would be that our son would come back from this school with the desire to be a part of our family again and to finally begin to work on healing the wounds from his past.  But we realize that we are not in control of his choices, his actions, or in how much he allows God to influence his life.

We aren't even in control of whether or not we can afford to send him to this school.

Here is the struggle of trust and faith that we're currently facing: our church family has offered to pay the admission fees and the first month's tuition.  They have also set up a fund within the church to continue raising money for tuition, but there is no guarantee that the $2,400 per month tuition will be there each month when it is due.  We are currently strapped and have very little income to spare, yet would be required to sign a contract stating that our son would be at the school for at least one full year.

So the question we're asking ourselves today is
                             "How much do we trust God?"

Do we just leave our son in the juvenile court system and allow them to do with him as they choose?  We don't believe this gives Mr. J the best chance to succeed.  It feels more like giving up and allowing him to start his life as a criminal at age thirteen.

Or do we place the needed tuition solely in God's hands, knowing that He is in control and trusting that the money will miraculously be there in the fund each and every month? 

Please pray with us for God's wisdom and clarity in this situation.  We only have a couple of days to decide, and we struggle with the possible financial ramifications for our family.

It's really hard, this stepping out in faith.