Thursday, June 14, 2012


I am getting really bad about keeping up....which is not good because this is how I am supposed to remember the day-to-day life during these fleeting years!

 We have been busy with the end of school - finally all of my children are homeschooled! Yay!! For now, we are figuring out our daily groove. We're easing into things and doing only science this summer. So far, everyone has been very enthusiastic, excited, and are really enjoying it!
The triplets graduated from preschool! They are now kindergartners! I cannot believe we are out of the baby stage, none the less baby, toddler, and preschool stage! They will miss their teachers and the friends that they have made, but new ones are sure to be made! The most exciting part of all is not only did they outgrow their need for an IEP before kindergarten, but they are in the top 90th percentile of their same-aged peers! Way to go, boys!!!

Ethan, Nathanial, and Noah with their teacher, Mrs. Millius.

 We have been talking and talking about getting a nice playset for a while and finally promised everyone one at Christmas. My dad, Steve, and Austin worked their tails off and had it completed in two days. Everyone has so much fun on it! Noah of course was the first to end up with stitches - about a week after it was up! He was trying to do the monkey bars by himself and fell instead. Poor little guy had 10 stitches in the back of his head. He was a trooper through it, even though Mama may have shed some tears. :-( It's very hard to see our babies hurt or sick.

Grandpa, Daddy, and Austin working hard

everyone loves their new playset!

The pool has been calling our names almost daily. It's been great that they are finally at an age where they are respecting boundaries. That is a huge step forward for all of us. The triplets are old enough to go down the slide themselves if I catch them at the bottom. So thankful, as this momma for one hates heights, which lends itself nicely to a terror of waterslides. Hannah is still not quite big enough, but Austin and Aidan are (usually) pretty good about taking her down. It's been a more relaxing year by the pool without worrying so much,  therefor much more enjoyable and I'm more willing to go everyday!

Aidan celebrated his 9th Birthday!!! I cannot believe he is already 9!! I will do another post altogether for that one! He has had his friend party and that was a blast. The boys are all really good kids and they get along, so they had a lot of fun. His family party is this weekend and he's looking forward to seeing his cousins.
Aidan with his friends
  Once again, we enjoyed free fishing weekend as a family....and this year we didn't even have to fish anyone out! (It's the little things.....) Everyone caught (very small) fish eventually. Ethan had to wait a while to catch one, but he finally did!

Noah has the first catch!
Hannah's the second - but too scared to hold it up

Nathanial and Aidan are next - within seconds of each other
Finally Ethan's turn!

 Aidan also had Camp Invention. He enjoys it so much, but I think the days were a little long for him. It doesn't seem like much to an adult, but he's there all day every day for five days and by Thursday, he didn't want to go anymore. Not because he didn't have a blast, but just because it is a long, hot day. I made him go (mean mom that I am) and he had so much fun and was thankful he didn't miss that day!

Aidan's last day at Camp Invention
 Austin is taking driver's ed! How is it even possible that he's old enough for that?!? And, he's already older than most since he's already 16. He's still very tentative to get behind the wheel, but I think as he gets more confident in his own ability, he'll be less so. The youth group had a weekend Serve and Praise retreat in early May at one of our churches in North Minneapolis - City Life Works. It was a lot of fun for everyone who went and a great time of renewal and getting deeper in the Word.

Tim Lemmons leading worship at Praise and Serve Retreat
 Austin did a speech for Communication Day (4H) on Alzheimer's and Granny. It's something that has been increasingly on his mind as he sees Granny a lot and is really close to her. I think it's as hard on  him to watch her as it is on me. He did an amazing job and received an "excellence" ribbon. He was disappointed he didn't make it to State, but only three went out of all of them.

Austin's Alzheimer's Speech

We are looking forward to the rest of our summer - the kids and I are going to my sister's the first week in July while Steve  has year end going on at work, and we're all excited for that! Then we come  home for a week and Austin goes to church camp. I wish we all could go, but right now, financially, that just doesn't work for us. We also are looking forward to the Siegert family reunion in July. We used to have them yearly but it has been several years since we last had one. Fair is in the beginning of August. Although Austin has chosen not to show any rabbits this year, he will still do photography and consumer savvy. Maybe others, but he's not sure what else yet!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chicago Mission Trip: Day 1


Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is about to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.
St. Teresa of Avila

While this is a new quote to me, it is appropriate to my prayers while we were in Chicago. Originally, I "wanted" to go to Chicago to be there for Austin and to experience something special with him - just the two of us. As we got closer to the trip becoming a reality, I realized that if my motivation was simply to "tag along" with Austin and not really do anything other than be a chaperone, maybe I wasn't meant to go. So my prayer during the fundraising part was that Austin and I would be able to raise enough support that we could both attend and not have to worry about the trip financially at all. If that happened, then I knew that I was within God's will to go. If it did not, then it was God's will for Austin to go alone. We sent out support letters to family, friends, and acquaintances. We laid out exactly what the trip was about and what we had planned to do. God made it abundantly clear that I was to go along, for myself, as much as to be there for Austin and as a chaperone for the rest. Not only did we raise enough support for Austin and I to go, but we made enough to send a third person and make a dent in a fourth person! The letters and support flooded in and it was absolutely awesome to see God's power and the way he used our family and friends - and to see their obedience to the Father. God fairly screamed that we were both to go.

We had several fund raisers, but even up to a week or so before the trip we had no idea if, financially, the group would be able to afford the trip as a whole or if parents would have to quickly make up the difference. I continued to abide in Christ and trust Him that He alone would provide the means. One plus we had was that there was never a deadline for the entire amount; we had to make a deposit (which we were able to do), but the rest of the money was not due until we actually arrived at the Dream Center in Chicago. How appropriate that it was literally up to the day that we left that we not only had enough money, but suddenly had a surplus! God was already showing us how powerful this trip was going to be, but many (all?) of us didn't recognize it at that point yet.

I was a nervous wreck prior to the trip. Looking back, I see that it was definitely Satan messing with me - in some huge ways and in other, smaller ways. The day before the trip, the kids were being awful and I was having a very difficult time getting packed and everything ready to go. Much to my dismay {and embarrassment} now, I had the worst adult tantrum ever. It was awful. And like other huge moments in my life, I was ready to throw in the towel and not go. I said it a few times. Thankfully, I didn't let that stop me but for an hour.

I was a little nervous about where we would be staying and knowing what Global Expeditions had told us about the location (it wasn't the safest place - and especially nerve wracking when you are used to a very small town). But one of my biggest fears was the youth. I hadn't been exceptionally involved with the youth in our church up to that point (I was still trying to tell myself I didn't like high schoolers much). Other than the fundraisers (which were fun), I had minimal interaction with many of them and I had convinced myself that they all hated me and it was going to be miserable. Now I know that was also Satan, but wow was I concerned - overly so - about that! 

We all gathered in the church parking lot at about 6 am Sunday morning. Everyone was filled with a nervous energy and excited to get going. Everyone was also surprisingly well put together for that hour! We all gathered around and prayed over the trip, our travel, and each person going. Then we said goodbye to our families, got into the van and didn't look back! 

There was a lot of chatter on the way and everyone had a great time. We were staying in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago - which is a Puerto Rican area. We ended up getting to Chicago earlier than expected. We hung out in the heat for a while and then were able to get together with everyone in the Dream Center office. We waited for what felt like hours, but once everyone was registered, paid for, and ready, they took us to our dorms.  The girls to one and the boys to another. The poor boys went to a hard gym floor to stay for the week - but they had air conditioning. The girls got a pretty nice - but sweltering - apartment. We were about 10 blocks from each other; both in buildings owned by the Dream Center/New Life Covenant Church. We (the girls) actually had much nicer accommodations than I had anticipated.

Because we were the first youth group there and our activities didn't start for a while, we had some time to just hang out in our apartment and relax. It was great and a lot of fun to get to know these girls a little better.

Later in the evening, we had supper provided for us by the Dream Center/church. All I can say is WOW! Every meal they made us was amazing! It was authentic Puerto Rican food (not to be mistaken with Mexican). I discovered I could survive on that the rest of my life! Following supper, we had a service to get us right and ready to go. We spent a lot of time in prayer and I was honored when two of the girls came to me to pray over them. Austin sat struggling through the service and was not really approaching anyone to pray with. I knew that he was close to Dustin (our youth pastor at the time) and began praying that he would go to him. I felt an urgency, so prayed harder, when he suddenly got up....and came to me! It was very powerful to be able to pray over my own son and whatever it was he was struggling with and something I will never forget (it was very different than any prayer I had prayed over him prior to that trip - but not since).

After the service, we were given a brief time of teaching on how to evangelize and the different ways to go about it. Then they had the kids practice on each other. Because it was already pretty late, that was the extent of our Sunday night. We went back to our dorm and relaxed in preparation for the next day. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

on my heart

I have had a difficult time lately trying to update the blog. I think what happens is that so much is going on, I can't keep up. Then I promise myself I will keep up and when I get a chance to catch up, I feel that I need to continue on with something that I am finding extremely difficult to put down on "paper." So I have decided that I will get back to posts about the mission trip when I am able to, and in the meantime, keep posting about what is going on. It will be less stressful that way.

I have struggled with what to say in this post; I'd love to update about family life, but I also would love to just share what is on my heart. Which is something I never really, completely do here, but just feel a desire to put it out there.

As I am approaching my 36th birthday, I have been thinking more and more about what is important. I am at a place that I always wanted to be at growing up. I always wanted to be married and have six children - and when I would think about that growing up, it always included five boys and one girl. I had never admitted that, but now, I often think that it is awesome how God prepared my heart and my desires for the ways in which he would later bless me. I know that He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and it is amazing to see how His plan is perfect, even when I may question things and even when I have veered off of His plan for me. I am sometimes amazed at what I had "planned" (rather, desired) for myself - marriage; being a stay at home mom; having a lot of children - and what I didn't - not living in my hometown or close to family; living in a rural area; homeschooling. I also see how I used to think that I had a deep faith in God, but I really had only a faith of convenience. Now, I am continually seeking to grow deeper in relationship with Christ. Again, not at all what I expected out of my life looking back.

When life gets crazy or bad things happen, it can lead to feelings of helplessness or hopelessness and I forget about God's plan over my life. Looking back, though, I can always see how during each challenge, God has still been there and in actuality, each thing has made me stronger and more sure of who I am in Christ, because it causes me to lean on Him more. Do I think He purposely gives us difficult challenges? No. That would be the same as do we purposely make things difficult for our children.  But I do believe God uses difficult situations and our own mis-steps to bring us closer to Him. In the same way that, as a parent, I am heartbroken when one child does something or has something awful happen to them but I will be there for them to lean on and I will help them through it and I will try to teach them through it.

This year has been a year of many stressful challenges in our family. Life with a teen is difficult enough, but add in Asperger's with that teen and it complicates things even further. I have really learned to lean on God during times this year when I completely came to the end of what I could possibly do. When you have a child, you never imagine the hard times that may happen later. And when they happen, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy as a parent ("if only I was a better parent, this never would have happened"). We all have these perfect little visions of how our life is going to be and when that doesn't happen, we tend to - or at least I want to have a little pity party.

Having a larger family with many children, and having some of those children have special needs, can at times be very isolating. I think that is the single most difficult thing that I have learned to cope with, especially in the last year. Not many people understand the demands of a larger family and then compounding that with special needs children. It can be very lonely at times. I also adore spending time with my husband, so sometimes I don't even  want to go out with friends when I could be spending that precious time with him. I'm finally at a place now where I am perfectly OK with a lack of a "social life." I will have time for that later and for now, I am cherishing this small window of time when all of our children are here in our home. But I could not have honestly said that until very recently.

I am also learning where my gifts lie in serving God. I have been blessed with being a part of a ministry to help in our community and I am finding that I am extremely passionate about things I never imagined I would be. It has been such a blessing to be able to do what I do and to be able to serve God in this way. I have met some amazing people and am learning more and more what God's desire is and where His heart is. God moved in amazing ways during the mission trip and completely changed what I thought was important...or what I wanted to do for God instead of how He might have me serve Him.

So I never really share my heart, and especially not to the degree I have here today. I am praying that it is well received, but even if it is not, it is what it is. It is my heart and it is what has been on my mind lately. I am finally coming to a place where I am comfortable to just be me and not be concerned (as much) with what others may think about that. I am still working on that and will continue to, but at least I can finally start to feel OK with who I am....and who I am not.