Category Archives: General

Laila Smiles 2018 winner is…..

Julanna Fox!!! We are so grateful to have this special scholarship and award in memory of our precious Laila. We love that Laila’s legacy continues to challenge kids to love school and spread joy and smiles throughout Wheatfield Elementary.

For those that don’t know, each second grade teacher nominates a student with these qualities and then every staff member in the school casts their vote. The recipient receives a trophy, their name on a perpetual plaque and the scholarship fund pays their book rental for their third grade year. This gives our family the opportunity to usher a second grader into third grade and pray for them throughout their third grade year since Laila didn’t get to make it that far.

We are privileged and honored to have Julanna receive this award with her sweet, gentle smile. One fun fact that no one in the school knew…. Julanna is Laila’s cousin. This made it extra special for her mom and I this morning as we watched her receive the award together.

Congratulations Julanna and way to go Danielle and Steve for raising an amazing, kind, joyful daughter! Our prayers will be with you this next school year!

A HUGE thank you to all who donated to the scholarship fund last year to make this possible.

MAF Candidate

I’d like to very proudly announce that Jack was invited to and accepted candidacy for Mission Aviation Fellowship :)   Would you just check out that handsome guy’s smile!!!  SO PROUD of him!

He will finish out his time working for Excel Air Services the end of June and then July 4th we will leave, with the kids, to start our adventure out to Idaho for candidacy and training. We will be at MAF from July 9-August 10th and then head back to Indiana. We will be in DeMotte with our sole focus being to raise our support to fund our 3.5 year term with MAF. We ask you to start praying with us now for how God will provide that funding.

We will find out during our second week of candidacy in July which country God has picked for us to serve in. There is currently a huge need for maintenance technicians in almost every country where MAF serves isolated people who can only be reached by airplane.

The kids are praying about whether or not they will attend school next year or start their online schooling. We could use your prayers in that area. We are thankful for the options that are before us.

We will be selling our house and almost everything in it but we aren’t sure exactly when yet.

Our goal is to be fully funded by next spring for MAF’s April commissioning and then Jack can finish his training with them in Idaho and we will move to wherever God has planned for us.

That’s all of the questions I can think of to answer right now. We are…… exerrified. A term I made up during our adoptions that is a mixture of excited and terrified.

THANK YOU for praying for us. God made Himself very known over and over again while we were in Idaho. So clearly that even one night Jack fell asleep praying with a heavy burden over the kids and how this will affect them and when he woke up in the morning the verse below was the first thing he saw on his phone when he picked it up.

“May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children.” Psalm 115:14

If you would, we would love if you would share this post so that as many people as possible can be praying for us through this and that every opportunity God gives us to see His glory can be shared with as many as possible. Thank you!


I’m sitting here today thinking about all the things that have changed in the past year and I just wanted to see some of them listed in print.

*We lost the precious littlest biggest light of our lives.

*I started working again for the first time in 10 years.

*I became the ministry leader of our Celebrate Recovery ministry at Grace.

*Emma became a high schooler and has grown up so much. More than some kids should have to at her age.

*Jackson started middle school and has started trying new things and branching out of his comfort zone.

*Jack felt called to pursue an aviation mission position with MAF.

*RJ started un-schooling and has been bonding with me in a way he never has before.

This has definitely been a year of change and tomorrow decides if this next year brings more change than we could’ve ever imagined.

Thinking of all this change made me think of a little miracle that has been going on right outside my back door for the last couples of weeks…..

Remember the post last year about the little lilac? It is one of my most quoted and remembered posts that I have ever written. I look back at it now and see that I didn’t write that, the Holy Spirit did. He had foreknowledge that I didn’t. It was so clear we had only precious hours with Laila but I didn’t realize it. He did. He knew change was coming and He was preparing my heart (and some of yours) for that change. That is how much He loves us. Do you know that? Can you understand it in your heart? Sometimes I can but sometimes it’s too much for my small brain to comprehend.

So anyway because you are all so thoughtful, several of you gave us lilac gifts at the funeral and two groups of people even got us lilac bushes. I’m going to confess to you today that I let those lilacs die. I’m so sorry to those that got them for us but keep reading and I’ll tell you just how good our God is. Hold on with me for a few more minutes… so I let those plants die and I felt so bad about it. I just couldn’t plant them. I’m not sure why. It felt so permanent and I couldn’t decide where they should go and almost every day I would watch them shrivel up more and more but I just couldn’t plant them. Maybe there’s something more there to psychoanalyze, I don’t know. But either way, I felt terrible that I had let these beautiful, thoughtful plants die when they were supposed to represent Laila.

But then something happened….

Those shriveled up lilac bushes started to get buds and grow a few weeks ago. Those buds of new life have spoke volumes to me these past few weeks more than they ever could’ve if I had planted them. Should I have taken better care of them? Yes. Can God take my mistakes, my hurts, my shortcomings, and turn them into something beautiful to teach me? Sweet friends… that’s the name of His game.

Seeing beauty from something I thought was gone. Seeing that change can come and be beautiful in completely unexpected ways. Well I just think that is God’s face shining on me to continue to teach me to trust Him… even in change, even when I’m scared.

I write this today not knowing what tomorrow will bring us or what you may be going through either but please know He’s got you, and He’s got me. Will you trust Him alongside me?

If there is anything I can pray for you today please inbox me on Facebook. I’m gonna take some time to pray over your precious souls and lift you to our Father who loves each of us, no matter where we are.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old things passed away and behold, new things have come.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His good purpose.”

TE Day 3&4

We’re just an old married couple laying in bed reading tonight ;)

Not too much to report for the last two days. Jack finished his written tests for the maintenance program and is now on the hands on portion. I tried to get him to write a guest blog with all his fancy airplane words but it’s not his thing. For those of you who want to know… he says he did a 500 hour magneto inspection, reassembled the magneto, installed the mag and timed it on a test engine and then he had to start it and show them that he knew how to run the engine. See, I have no idea what any of those things mean but I baked cookies today so there’s that. Haha!

We did learn that they have Chapel every Wednesday morning as a company and then Thursday mornings the guys in the hangar all do a bible study together as they start the day. Next Wednesday they have their bi-annual half day of prayer. We will still be here for that so I’m looking forward to see how that is run. Very cool!

We have had a few dinners at some MAF staff homes this week. Everyone is so nice and it is so neat hearing all of their stories and getting to know people on a personal level.

I’m heading to sleep now because I have a 5:30am flight back to Chicago in the morning. Emma is going to prom tomorrow night and I can’t miss it! I will be flying back to Idaho Saturday evening. Whirlwind trip but so worth it for my girl (and God provided some travel vouchers for me).

Have a great night and thanks for praying for us!

TE Day 2

Today we got to spend the whole day together! I love my husband! Not only do I love him but I really like him too. One of the best things about this opportunity will be that we will be working together again and this time in ministry which is just so beyond my wildest dreams it’s crazy. Of course we still don’t know for sure and of course if this happens there are so many sad aspects as well but for today the fact that I got to spend the day with Jack working towards this goal makes me all :)

Today we had to drive in to Boise for our psychological evaluation. MAF really cares about the mental health of their partners and how best to be able to serve them so everyone does an evaluation and an appointment with a counselor. This is right now and also every time anyone comes home on furlough or if they need it on the field as well. So important and again so amazing how they take care of their people.

We each had to take a 570 question evaluation. Yep, no typo, 570 questions…. Then we had a break for lunch and then went back for our counseling appointment. We loved our counselor and she was very impressed with the steps we have taken to strive toward mental health, especially through everything with Laila. She will give a report to the candidate committee and that will be another piece of the puzzle for them to figure out whether or not we are a good fit.

Can I tell you how proud I am of my husband? SO PROUD! Through this whole process he has been leading the way for us and I’m following him as he facilitates conversations and we get to know everyone. He speaks an Aviation language that I don’t understand but even I can understand how brilliant he is at this. He has a God given talent in this area and he is striving to use it all for Christ’s glory. Girls, find a guy like that and cling to him for dear life!

This evening a couple from MAF had us over to dinner for steak and THE best Idaho potatoes I have ever had! What they say is no joke! I told her that she has the potatoes and we’ll bring the corn from Indiana next time! ;)

Have a great night and please keep praying for us!

TE Day 1

TE stands for technical evaluation. That’s the lingo they use around here and I figure if we’re gonna go through this process I’m gonna write about what it’s like for those that may go through this and find my blog one day. I always appreciate reading other people’s blogs and knowing their experience so I try to share mine as well.

So… today we stepped out the door of our apartment and walked across the street to what could be the beginning of a whole new life for our family. Yikes!!

We were greeted in the foyer by Ron who is the head of mobilization for MAF. We have had phone conversations and tons of emails with him and it was really nice to finally meet him in person. Right in the foyer is a display honoring Nate Saint and the other four MAF pilots that lost their lives in the jungle of Ecuador. It is a truly amazing story and the movie of it called End of the Spear is on Amazon Prime if anyone wants to check it out. The first book RJ and I read together when he started unschooling was about Nate and I had no idea he was even an MAF pilot. The movie doesn’t name MAF as the mission that he worked for. Now RJ is obsessed with Nate Saint and was so excited when I sent him a picture of the airplane that is on display here that Nate flew. The VP of personnel even gave us a rock from the beach where Nate and his buddies were in Ecuador to bring home to the kids :)

We took a tour of the facility and it is absolutely amazing. A beautiful campus that shows how much they care for their members and how intentional they are in every decision and aspect of the ministry. It is truly remarkable. Jack was very excited to visit the hangar where he will be working and doing all his technical evaluation for the next week.

Next Jack took his first written test and I spent some time in the chapel praying and journaling. Jack said that first test was a basic knowledge test of where he is at with the physics of the airplanes.

Then we went into our interview with the candidate committee. This group of people have read all of the paperwork we have been doing for the past six months and have spent time in prayer and discussion over our family. The interview was mostly about who we are in Christ, how we got where we are and how we feel called to MAF. This was an amazing time of them showing how much they care for the people they bring in and how engaged they are in knowing us as people, not just workers.

At the end of the meeting two individuals, including one of the VPs, met with us to go over anything confidential we may want to discuss with them about past or current struggles we have. They have a member care team designed fully to make sure the needs of the mission workers are met and that we are taken care of mentally and spiritually. Again, this was an amazing testament to how long they have been doing this and how they have learned and become very intentional to take care of their workers. I felt able to be honest with them about my anxiety and our grieving the loss of Laila without any fear of judgement or hesitation from them. I had been experiencing some anxiety about telling them about my anxiety! Ha! And that was all gone today :)

In the afternoon Jack took another test that included writing essays about what he would do in different maintenance situations and he said that was sort of difficult but he did his best. And he started on another written exam that he will finish on Wednesday.

I spent the afternoon meeting with two different women working for MAF. One works in Member Care and one in Ministry Partnership. We just shared our stories and got to know each other and that was nice. Then I came back to the apartment and almost immediately got called back over by the VP because he wanted to introduce me to a new adoptive mom who recently adopted a 15 yr old girl. It was a great conversation of “me toos” and “I understands” and I felt like I was with my group of adoptive mommas back home :) I thought it was neat that he thought to introduce us to each other.

Tomorrow we will be heading into Boise for an appointment they have set up for us with a clinical psychologist that they have everyone see when they are thinking of joining the program. That should be interesting.

So the impressions I have so far:

They REALLY need maintenance specialists! When anyone would ask what we were here for and find out it was for Jack to possibly be a maintenance specialist and not a pilot, they would high five Jack and tell him every country is going to be fighting over him.

I’m impressed with their process and member care (if you couldn’t tell).

I miss my kids already.

I’m interested what God is gonna do with us…

The TE journey

What a whirlwind the last few months have been and even especially the last week. Celebrating and mourning birthdays and then hopping a plane to Idaho early this morning for our Technical Evaluation and interview with Mission Aviation Fellowship.

A volunteer picked us up in Boise this morning and drove us the 20 mins to Nampa to MAF headquarters. We were on the flight with a very sweet man who works for MAF and is visiting for some training and will be heading to Surname for a new assignment soon. He was picked up with us by our local volunteer and then we all had lunch with another couple that is based in Papua New Guinea but here on furlough.

Tomorrow starts meetings and information for us on the program and Jack will see the hanger and find out where he will be doing maintenance while we are here. My schedule is a little more loose so I’m hoping to update via the blog as much as I can.

We FaceTimed the kids and showed them the amazing housing they have for staff who are visiting and people here for interviews like us. If we get invited to this program we and the kids will be here for 5 weeks this summer and the accommodations are pretty great.

Just wanted to tell you all that we made it, we’re exhausted and we thank you for your prayers.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go back a few entries and read Giant Leap of Faith ;)

Get Out of Bed

This morning was one of those mornings where I just could’ve slept all day.  My alarm went off for my devotion and prayer journaling time and I just turned it off.  The time kept creeping along and I did this internal fight with myself on whether or not everyone would understand if I stayed in bed and didn’t get up.  And they would.  But I know that is not the right choice for me.

“You have three other kids.”  I heard that inaudibly whispered to me over and over as I laid in bed this morning.  I believe those of you that texted that you are praying for me brought that voice.  Thank you.  So I got up for the other kids.  I got their breakfast on the table like usual and let Jack pray over me like usual.  But I had no words for anyone.  I couldn’t pray over Jack out loud or over Emma as I dropped her off to choir this morning or Jackson when I dropped him off or RJ as we began our school day.  I can pray internally but out loud doesn’t work today, and that’s OK

I have no words today that I can say out loud without crying.  So I’m typing out my feelings because it is a release for me.  A healthy outlet.

My precious girl would’ve been 10 today.  She loved birthdays and any celebration and was so full of joy and life.  And yes, I know she is more full of life now than ever….but I’m gonna be honest and tell you that today that makes me roll my eyes and all I hear is “blah, blah, blah.”  My head always knows it but heart isn’t on board with that today.  Some days it is but not today.  I want her here.  I want her laugh.  I want to watch her kick her feet out in excitement and arch her crazy back and have absolutely no muscle control because she is so happy to see her decorations that she might just jump out of her wheelchair.

I want her here.

I’m gonna try to be grateful that God gave me insight that last year would be her last birthday and how special it was made by so many amazing people.  You can join me by reading about it here.   I’m gonna drink coffee and breathe.  Those are my only goals for the next few minutes.  I’m taking today one minute at a time.

Thank you for always being so loving on days like today when I just need to write and get it out and be honest.  I love God more than Laila and I know you all know that but the reality of Christianity isn’t always rainbows and sunshine.  Sometimes the reality of Christianity is that I tell God I hate his plans and I don’t understand and I don’t think it’s fair and then cling to Him for dear life because He is the only constant that I will ever have.

The Giant Leap of Faith

Four weeks from today Jack and I will be on an airplane to Idaho for an interview and evaluation…… to become cross-cultural mission workers.

We have been taking classes and doing extensive paperwork for six months with an organization called Mission Aviation Fellowship or MAF.  We have been praying so much about this and asking God to open doors wide open or slam them shut and so far He has been swinging them open.

If we work with MAF we would pick up our life here and possibly move to their headquarters in Idaho but more likely we will be moving overseas.  Where?  We have no idea.  The Congo, Indonesia, or Haiti are three places that we have researched and know are possibilities.  Jack would be working on small aircraft that would be able to provide food, bibles, medical care and other things to remote places that can’t be reached easily by other forms of transportation.  He has been to Haiti twice and seen how poor their infrastructure is and how much quicker things can be done by airplane.   They also use the planes to help with other projects in their regions to help build a bridge between the mission community and the local governments which opens more doors to help people in the name of Christ.

What about the kids?  The kids are my first priority, and yes they are all three coming with us if this happens.  MAF provides actual schools or at least small school groups with a paid teacher for their workers in every country or I can choose to homeschool them.  No matter what they will live with us, I have made this very clear to everyone involved.  I will definitely school RJ myself though.  That has been going SO WELL!!

What about me?  Again, my first priority is the kids and MAF knows that and encourages that but then I could possibly lead bible studies (maybe Celebrate Recovery overseas!!) and/or use my accounting skills to help the airport.

This is something Jack and I have been talking about our whole marriage but God never opened the doors.  When I met Jack I was enrolled to go to Johnson Bible college in the fall but then fell in love and followed the gift that God gave me in my husband.  We thought fostering and adopting were fulfilling that call to missions on our heart.  And it did.  I thought running the Celebrate Recovery ministry was fulfilling my call to missions and it is.  This was a surprise and we are excited and terrified to see if God is actually going to ask us to take this giant leap of faith.

All of the kids are excited but also hesitant.  Emma is the most hesitant.  Being a teenager and thinking about uprooting her entire life is hard.  We’ve had LOTS and LOTS of conversations and God has even provided a woman for Emma to talk to who has gone through this exact experience as a teenager.  We make all of our decisions as a family and this has been no exception.

So we will find out on May 15 if we are invited to start our training (in July) and if our whole life will be turned upside down….again.

Please, please pray for us.  Feel free to share and ask everyone you know to pray for us.  We need prayer!  Can you tell we’re a little freaked out??

To find out more about MAF click here



*If we are invited to training this July, we would be back home in DeMotte in August for 12-14 months while we raise support.  You’re not getting rid of us just yet ;)


Leap of Faith #1

There are some big things going on over here.  major changes and God asking of us big things and it’s exciting and scary.  Sometimes I wonder what He sees when He looks at us because He definitely sees more potential than I do!

I’m ready to share the first leap with you after getting a few details ironed out….. this is going to be RJ’s last week of traditional school.  Eeeeekkkk!!

A year ago I felt called to really pray about my relationship with him.  Adopting an older child comes with a lot of challenges and one of them is attachment.  Kids who have had so much loss and so little stability in their lives for so many years before joining a family find it hard to bond.  Think about all the time people spend with their babies looking into their eyes, their skin touching yours and building emotional bonds and connections.  We never got that.  This has brought a struggle to our whole family for the past five years.  We all want to bond but it just isn’t happening.

As I prayed I asked God to show me if I’m doing everything I can.  Is there anything left that I can do to try to bond with him?  Can I say I’ve tried everything and just accept that this is all I get?  I thought about homeschooling because that would give us more time together but I had tried that when he first came home from India and he begged me to be able to go to school like the other kids.  So I let him.

Recently RJ and I started reading back through my blog from when we first met him in India and into the months that followed.  I could see the fade.  He used to hug and kiss us and be his happy go lucky self here at home and then something changed.  It could have been that the honeymoon was over or it could have been that he was spending more time away from us than with us, or both.  Either way I saw a tremendous shift and for the first time I realized it.

So, after a lot of prayer and guidance and prompting from the Holy Spirit we are taking the plunge.  I know the timing seems weird but leap of faith #2 will make that make a little more sense when I share about that.  I want to know I did everything I could to bond with my son.  I wanted to get the joyful little bubbly guy that the teachers all talk about.  Ask anyone who lives in this house, we don’t get that kid.  We see glimpses every now and then but not often.

And how does RJ feel…. ready.  He is excited that I want to spend more time with him and excited to have school not be as challenging.  He will miss his friends but most of all his teachers.  Leaving his teachers is the hardest of all for him, and rightly so… they’re fantastic.  But, next year he would be at a whole new school and miss them anyway.  Having a new teacher has always been hard for him every year as well.  He has a lot of anxiety and grief over the bonds he forms with his teachers and then has to leave every year and even sometimes every semester.   Making and breaking bonds continually is not good for him I have finally figured out.  It’s OK for typical kids every year because they feel stable but for him it is not.

Now I want to be clear, I think sending him to school was the best thing for all of us at the time even though the consequences of it are showing.  He has loved both schools he has been at and has been loved on beyond my expectations.  It was what was needed at the time.  I was honestly not mentally in a place to have him home with me and all the challenges that go along with that, nor did I have the time and mental capacity while trying to care for Laila.  But times have changed.  I committed my whole last step study of Celebrate Recovery (12 months) to studying myself and my behaviors and trying to find room for more patience and love for RJ.  I’m really throwing myself out there today….  phew, be kind.  It’s just the honest truth that sometimes these kids are really tough.  And it’s hard for others to understand it when they get all of his kind energy during the day at school or at a play date but then his family who loves him unconditionally gets the left overs which are either unkind or not engaged at all.  It is very hard to want to engage and be loving towards someone who doesn’t feel that way towards you, for close to five years….

So, I ask that you would pray for us as we start this new adventure.  Pray that God would help me to see when I need to let things go.  That I would just love on my son and then let everything else fall into place.  That I would be careful with my time and making the most of it and not fill up my days that are not priority right now.  That I will balance work, ministry and homeschooling well and let RJ learn through all of those things alongside me instead of saying things like “I’m busy, it’ll have to wait a minute.”

I’m selfishly loving my son, and I’m OK with that :)

Stay tuned for leap #2….