Eight straight weeks of someone sick with something. No Christmas cookies were baked, Luke and Abi wrapped most of the presents, I threw some lights on our bushes and porch, and yet Jesus still came. In a strange way I felt closer to Him than ever as I needed Him so much! Every year I wrestle with the commercialism of Christmas anyway, this year was no exception especially after traveling to Haiti. Sometimes I feel jealous that Jesus is hijacked for a season. It seems He is suddenly so important to everyone. And then I remember that maybe during this time someone may come to really know who He is! Indeed he loves us like crazy, but, it is not just at Christmas that He wants to be remembered, loved and praised, it is every moment of every day of the year! And the ways He leads are often hard and painful and difficult. Yet, he promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He instills us with hope and new mercies every morning. The message of Christmas is one of hope and joy for every day of the year!
The year has been one of emotional upheaval for sure. To begin with, the outpouring of love and support we have received from family, friends, neighbors and the like has been amazing as we took our long awaited journey to Haiti. So many of you have already read about that, so no need to repeat here, except to say that now the trip feels like it was so long ago and the boys’ faces start to feel misty like in dream. I hung up a new set of pictures of them to add to the others…just so I see their sweet faces in one more place every day. All of you have been so great and wonderful in praying for us, encouraging us, supporting us, and we say a HUGE thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Luke is approaching his 21st birthday at the end of the month and is in his Junior year at the University of Toledo. He has 2 co-ops under his belt and will complete his 4 and ½ year Mechanical engineering program in December of 2017. God has blessed Luke with a girlfriend who is so pretty and sweet named Paige. We give thanks to the Lord for her in his life. He continues to do amazing artwork on the side!
Abi graduated this past June and worked this summer and went to Honduras for 3 months for a short term mission trip. She is going to be nannying for a couple families for the next year. She is applying to the Serge missions program hoping to be a part of their on site training and discipleship program perhaps at the London location. She was surely missed by all of us while she was gone and continues to pray for the Lord’s direction in her call to missions. She enjoys doing various lettering projects.
Kaiti is in her Junior year and is taking some hard classes and advancing well in her artistic skills. She plays soccer, is in NHS, and is part of her youth group at church. This past summer she went to Detroit to work with the inner city children. She gets to go on a short term mission trip this summer to Haiti! As always she helps me out with the littles and cuts all the girls’ hair. She is looking at pursuing a degree in art and writing.
Joshua is still waiting patiently for the rest of his brothers to come home! He played football in the fall and is playing basketball again. He is in 7th grade and has also enjoyed youth group and got to go Nashville to work with the homeless this summer. He really loved that. Josh is an early riser like his dad and gives the best hugs! He is a hard worker in school and does very well.
Anna is now in 4th grade and loves reading, running and soccer. She is a great help with Ally and Ella and is now a full-fledged Buckeye, rooting right alongside the rest of the family. Abi was surely missed by this sweetie while she was in Honduras! Anna also works hard and does well at school.
Ally Grace says she loves school! She started the first few months of kindergarten out with a half day and has worked into all days now. Ally is very creative and loves to draw and I love it when she is home to help me entertain Ella! She has made lots of new friends and can tend to be a bit social! She loves anything to do with “Frozen”, shopkins, and my little ponies.
Ella Joy turned two in July and surely keeps me on my toes with her adventurous spirit! Our first with stitches this past November and hopefully our last! She loves her siblings the best and I would say her number one toy would have to be them! Ella loves to be outside and to be read to. She brings me great joy every day and is an extra special gift while the kids are in school all day!
Our sons in Haiti are attending a private school there and we continue to communicate with them through letters, videos, pictures and packages we can occasionally send. They all love soccer, legos, gum, and are so sweet. They make us lots of coloring pages and write all our names and send these items with traveling families to mail to us.
Ron is working so hard for our family now teaching his third year of 7 hours with no prep to help provide for the adoption. He is the strength and base of this family. Our sons in Haiti absolutely adored him, not to mention his sons and daughters here!
I am trying to simplify everything in my life in preparation for the changes to come when the boys come home. I am trying to simplify our home with less stuff and my heart and time with a focus on our family. I have been reading tons of books and realize more than ever before our children, all eleven, are our ministry. I do not want to look back and regret anything that sidetracked me from this priority He has placed in my heart.
Please pray for Ron and I to be strong in our marriage. Pray for us to have wisdom with his teaching schedule and for us to prepare as well as possible in this waiting for our sons. Pray for our bonds with our children that our home to become like steel to withstand the tumult of the arrival of four boys who have been through a lot. While we anticipate moments of great joy, we also know there is a road of healing ahead as we embrace our sons’ trauma and pain that any child from an orphanage will have to a certain extent.
The next step for us in our adoption is exiting IBESR. The estimated timeframe means we should be getting this by Feb.15th, but often timelines when adopting siblings are different. Unfortunately, until this step happens we are over a year away from bringing them home. So please pray for us to exit IBESR. Please pray for Haiti as a country and for the people of Haiti. They are a beautiful and hardworking people. It is impossible not to be changed when you come home from a third world country like that. It is not just a feeling of thankfulness for what you have, which is true, but it is also a deep longing to pray and affect change in these places where not only is there a need of Christ, but a need for hope and basic needs we daily take for granted.
We have realized what a great spiritual battle we are in since beginning this journey of adoption. The war is raging and prayer is our weapon of choice. Satan would not have children loved or adopted. The enemy would rather we rest content in our home with no effort to the world outside of our own. But, there is an entire world out there that needs Jesus, somehow. However it is that God has called you to do this…as we each have a different role, so be strong in Him and in His mighty power. Do not be surprised at the opposition, but remember that we have the victory in Jesus!
I will close with this quote I recently read in a book entitled, Renewal As a Way of Life, by Richard F. Lovelace.
“Obviously this sort of bombardment is not the idle work of demons tormenting individual believers. It is a carefully orchestrated effort aimed at strategic targets in the kingdom of God. Dull and half-committed Christians may never experience these things; They are no threat to the powers of darkness and thus draw no fire. But active agents of the kingdom can expect a lifetime of recurring attacks. Canon Mather remarked that he never attempted anything significant for Christ’s kingdom without being buffeted spiritually, either before or after.”
And God’s word confirms this thought from 1 Peter 2:21:
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.“
May You Know and Love Him More,
Ron, Michelle, Luke, Abi, Kaiti, Josh, R, Anna, S, J, Ally, R, and Ella Joy
Can’t wait to show you the beautiful faces to these beautiful souls!