About Me

My photo
My husband and I, the Dynamic Duo, have been married since 2003. We've weathered the storm of chronic disease (diagnosis 2006), infertility (diagnosis 2007), turning 30 (2006/2007 respectively) a first adoption (2009) of a tender hearted, compassionate Ukrainian BIG boy (born 2006), who has told us he'd like a baby sister, baby brother, big brother, and REALLY big sister. We recently completed our second Ukrainian adoption journey, which brought us a daughter (born 2005). We'll see what else God brings our way!

Monday, November 30, 2009

32 Reasons

During the Thanksgiving weekend, I thought a lot about being thankful. I came up with my pat answers for the table go round. But since I've been on the earth for 32 years now, I decided I would come up with 32 things to thank God for this year...here's my list:

1. Of course I'm thankful for my life in Christ. How freeing it is to know I have eternal security and a life in heaven with my creator, saviour, friend, redeemer. My confidence and esteem comes from Him only, because without my Creator, I have no life.

2. I'm thankful for the man God gave me to live out my life on earth. He's a calming factor for me (most of the time!) and he's a great partner in this crazy thing called life. He's a wise financial manager, and a dedicated, hard working family man.

3. I'm thankful for my son. Wow, what an amazing child. He has brought so much laughter in to my life, and keeps me on my toes, that's for sure!

4. I'm thankful for my friends, the one's that have worked through my struggle with keeping in touch. Malisa, (I miss you!) who I haven't seen in about 10 years, although I know if we ever see each other again it will be like we've never left each other's side. Lorena, Shannon and Lindsay, my playful, encouraging women of faith who have kept me from going under these past 6 months!

5. I'm thankful for my parents and my relationship with them. I talk to my mom every other day or so (no less than once a week) for advice and encouragment. What a change from 10 years ago!

6. I'm thankful for my brother, Alex, who is quite a hoot. And he's introduced me to things like X-games, skateboarding, and crazy music. He's also quite the writer and drawer...very creative.

7. I'm thankful for my other brother, Mike, and his wife Katie, who have given me a brand new nephew this year. Dylan Michael, I'm storing up lots of kisses for our first meeting, so beware!

8. I'm thankful for my mother-in-law, Deborah, who is very supportive and sticks up for me when her son is overly obnoxious ;) She has also been very supportive of our adoption and how we are raising Eli. She also does a lot of gardening for us when she comes to visit.

9. I'm thankful for my sister in law who takes the teasing Dave would normally reserve for me when she's around. She's a pleasant, friendly gal who doesn't know a stranger or enemy. She's a great example to me of giving of yourself to others. She also happens to be the mother of my darling two nephews, CJ and Sam. And she's married to the best Italian cook you'll ever meet!

10. I'm thankful for my house. Although it isn't a mansion, or even all that big, I'm thankful that God has plopped us down in a great neighborhood with great neighbors. And it doesn't take all week to keep it clean!

11. I'm thankful for being a stay at home mom. This, folks, is my dream job. And for a while, it looked like it would never happen because we would never have kids. But now I have the priveledge of cleaning up poopy diapers, stepping on toys with small, sharp parts, and giving all the kisses and hugs a boy could dream of!

12. I'm thankful for extended family. My grandmother, aunts and uncles, along with Dave's extended family, have supported our adoption this year, too. Not many have families with open arms like ours.

13. I'm thankful for our health. Although Dave has some health issues, we are relatively healthy and able to be active and productive citizens. Not everyone can say that.

14. Speaking of being citizens, I'm thankful for my country. Although much is going on that isn't good for us as a society, God has placed me in a country that still allows me to worship Him openly, without fear of persecution (like jail, beatings, or even death).

15. And speaking of worshipping, I'm thankful for a solid, Bible teaching, preaching church that doesn't allow what's going on around them to sway their teaching or preaching. Our society shouldn't dictate what in the Word we believe. We should stand strong and true to The Truth.

16. And speaking of Bible teaching, I'm thankful for BSF, which has lead me in to a deeper relationship with the One True God, and a deeper understanding of who God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit is and what their relationship to each other and me is.

17. I'm thankful for service. I love to give my time and energy to others, and being involved in a vibrant church allows me to serve others for Christ.

18. I'm thankful for our Drama ministry, which is focused on how to glorify God through the arts. I've grown a lot in my abilities and confidence through Christ, and being in the Drama programs is a testamint to that.

19. I'm thankful for my dog, who is very therapudic. He's a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too.

20. (This one's for Dave) I'm thankful for our cars. We have two newer, almost paid of vehicles that are wonderful. In this economy, we are truly blessed.

21. I'm thankful for Dave's job, which allows me to stay at home with Eli. He's in a new position, which is fullfilling for him, and makes him a more fullfilled man.

22. I'm thankful for games. I love to play games that involve words, like Guestures, Catch Phrase, and Taboo. And I'm glad God gave me fun people to play with since my husband only likes things like Checkers (because it's the only game he can beat me at!!)

23. I'm thankful for the traveling I've done in my life. I've been to France, Germany, Ecuador, Canada, Mexico, and Ukraine, which was phenominal. I've traveled by car down the east coast, the SE, Montana and New Mexico, and by plane to CA and Nevada. Boy, I've been lots of places.

24. I'm thankful for seasons. I love the weather here in Michigan. Fall is my favorite time of year. The weather cools down, and the leaves pop with color. Winter is fun because it gets even colder...and SNOWS! The snow around here is just enough to get your feet wet, but not so much that you can't leave your house. And then comes Spring. Just when you've had enough of the cold, God melts the snow, and color resumes as the norm. The grass is green, the flowers bloom in every shade of every color. And then the heat goes in to overtime! Our summers are short. Just the way I like it! The weather turns warm just long enough for you to get sick of it and then fall comes creeping in again!

25. I'm thankful for those serving our country, the men/women overseas in our military, who keep me safe from foreign harm. The men/women in the military here, who gather information for those overseas. And for those in public service, like firefighters and police officers, who risk their lives at minimal pay to keep me safe in my cozy little house with my sweet Eli and handsome husband.

26. I'm thankful for the opportunity to go to Ukraine and experience the culture for 6 weeks. What a dream come true! And the fact that everything went so smoothly is another thanks in and of itself!

27. I'm thankful for music. I love to belt it out in the car rocking my head to the beat, clapping while sitting with Eli, or just closing my eyes to hear people praise the one and only God. Sometimes in church, when the band stops playing and it's just voices, I feel like I'm in the crowd at Jericho and the walls of the church are about to come down because our praises are so powerful!

28. I'm thankful for digital pictures. Technology has made it a lot easier to get pictures back and forth to family.

29. I'm thankful for rest. I don't get nearly as much as I used to, so it's much more appreciated now!

30. I'm thankful for food. Boy, do I love food! If you're a chef and you want to try out some new recipes on me, come on over! I enjoy tasting new foods, but I don't always enjoy the new foods I taste!

31. I'm thankful for the Bible. Many people wonder what it would be like to experience all the miracles Jesus did while He was on Earth, not to mention the crazy miracles recorded in the Old Tesiment. But I'm not sure I'd just jump right in. Now we are blessed with God's written word, His love letter to us that shows us His character, immense love for His creation, and desire that all come to know His Son.

32. Ta da! What did I save for last? I'm thankful for BLOGS that challenge me to do things like this! I thought it would be much harder than this, but I could go on and on about things I'm thankful for. So, I guess I'm also thankful I have so much to be thankful for!

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Pictures

Eli put this together all by himself about a month ago! I left the room to do something and came back to him sitting there very proud. He uses his train tracks as a road for his cars.

Grandma Karl and Eli picking up sticks while we were visiting a few weeks ago. I'm not sure what he saw, but he's so darling!

Picking up leaves with cousin Sammy and Grandma Karl. They had so much fun playing together.

Sammy chilling by himself...or is he?

AH! Eli, you scared me hiding in the leaves :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

6 Months and 1 Week

I know, I know. I'm getting pretty bad at updating this blog now. I have some pictures I'll try to put up soon. How time flies!

I survived the week without Dave, thanks to my mom who wore Eli out! We had a blast while she was here, but it went by so fast! Each week has had it's own struggles and challenges and we've risen to them, at times just barely!

My son. What can I say about my sweet little boy? He's amazing. And he's all boy, that's for sure. He climbs, jumps, crashes his cars on anything. He "falls" on purpose and his knees are pretty scratched up from it. He loves to be tickled and tickle back. And to be startled. And loud noises. And being loud. And he's fascinated by cars. Just today he watched part of the NASCAR race with Papa.

He's been wearing his braces everyday for the past couple of weeks up to 10 hours a day. And his night braces all night. I feel bad for him, but I know it's for his best. We went to see his physiatrist last week. He was very impressed with how much Eli has improved both with and without his braces and told me he suspects Eli's recovery will be a 3 year ordeal. Next step is orthodics that go up to his ankles, then slowly down to just inserts in his shoes, which are for the long haul. He commented on how much Eli has grown and how his language skills are really developing. Truly amazing to me, too.

We had a few weeks that Eli wouldn't go outside...not sure what that was all about! He would say "Momma, cold outside. Stay inside." Then he would fight me to go outside. Until one day, the leaves fell off the tree and Papa went outside to gather them. We threw him (not literally) in a pile of leaves once and that was all it took to keep him outside! He's still a great big help in every area that I let him. I try to include him in as much as I can because he really seems to thrive off of being a big boy helper. He even helps Papa at night with his night braces!

I'd say the funniest thing that's happened in the past few weeks involves an oil change. Eli LOVES to be with Papa in the garage in the evenings...I'm already loosing him to cars! Papa let Eli help him change the oil in our Astra. Apparently Eli watched the whole thing, and Dave pointed out the oil pan, and showed him the oil draining. They came inside and Dave said "Eli learned that oil is hot." I kind of cringed a little inside, but knew Dave wouldn't let Eli hurt himself. Dave had dipped his finger in the oil and "Ouched" so Eli knew not to touch it. Then Eli proceeds to dig out the car that looks like Papa's and show me where the oil pan was located. He loves his Papa, what can I say!

Six months. Can you believe it's been 6 MONTHS since we've been home? Boy, oh boy. I can't believe how much he's changed both physically and emotionally in that time. When someone else picks him up, he looks for me and holds his arms out for me (that even happened with my mom!). We still cuddle every morning, and after every rest is over, although that's starting to go by the wayside (Eli's doing). He remembers his family (Bop, Grandpa Stobie, Grammy Karl, Sammy, CJ, and Aunt Wendy, Uncle Tony, and, of course, Uncle Alex) and his friends...well really Ben and Jake who have become known as Ben and Ben ;)

We've had our "growing pains" as a family in the past few weeks, too. There have been a lot of changes in our lives. First of all, I've moved in to a children's leadership position with BSF. It's taking a lot more of my energy and time than I had anticipated, but God has provided all I've needed each week, so I'm sticking to it. It also involves a change for Eli. He stays later with me on Monday and Tuesday mornings. It was a real challenge at first. Secondly, I've secured a role in our church's Christmas production, which will start taking more of my time later this month and in to the next month. Because of this, my cleaning schedule, grocery schedule, etc has been changing...I can't do it all on Fridays anymore! So that means Eli's schedule has been changing. The last change is that Eli really hasn't been napping. I put him down every day for an hour and call it a rest. I let him take several of his cars in bed with him, and sometimes he doesn't sleep. We're in the transition of him not needing a nap, but I will still insist on a rest until he's in school full time. That means that he's a bit of a grouch in the afternoons, which means I don't get much accomplished because I'm directing a grumpy child.

Our challenge has been to balance Dave's need for alone time with my need for social time. Motherhood can be a very lonely place, especially when we don't have family here to help out. I became really frustrated with this a few weeks ago and turned to a friend for help. Her words to me were the same that my mom has been saying to me for years, just in a different way. She said to me "Natalie, remember that your ministry is to your husband first, then your child. You don't want to be sitting across from a stranger 20 years from now, do you?" No, that doesn't mean I neglect Eli in any way in which he needs me, but instead I must prioritize my husband's needs.

I guess that hit home with a lesson we'd been studying in BSF. We're studying the book of John this year. One of the stories I've heard a million times is Jesus at the well talking to the Samaritan woman. He and the disciples had been walking for a while in the desert and they were hungry and thirsty (probably tired, too). The disciples went to the town for food while Jesus rested. Yet when this outcast, this sinful and immoral woman came to the well, He made time for her and was satisfied not by this earthly water, but by doing the work God had sent Him to do. This is a really hard lesson for me to learn because, even in the Christian circle, there are all sorts of books that talk about taking care of yourself and getting what you need and setting boundaries (all good things in and of themselves). But I've learned that my sole (and soul) satisfaction should be in Jesus, doing the work He has called me to with excellence, not in people or socializing. Right now, in this time, God is challenging me to give up my social life, which isn't easy!! And I'm still struggling with it. But, with time, I'm getting better at shedding some of the selfish, unnecessary stuff I think I need, but really don't.