Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ada's Dedication


Last Sunday was a day for celebration! We dedicated our third child, Ada. Who would've thought we'd be at this point in life where God has blessed us with three? You surprised us by coming into town and it was great to have you as a part of this day.

Children signing "Jesus Loves Me." Photo by Robyn Carnill
Greg welcomed everyone by telling them a little bit of our story. When we journeyed towards Catina we believe the Lord taught us about Faith and when we journeyed towards June we believe the Lord taught us about Hope. Ada was an extra bonus and she taught us what Joy is! 

Our friend Robyn had been praying for us before Ada was born and she spoke out loud the word "Aliza." This isn't something that happens to Robyn ordinarily so she looked up what Aliza meant, and it means joy. We've received many cards since Ada has been born and the theme seems to be what a JOY Ada will be in our lives. I'll accept that Joy and am thanking God for it!

Ada and I hiding in the shade so she wouldn't burn. Photo by Robyn Carnill
People came from New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota (that's you!) and we even skyped my sister from New Mexico. Christine, my sister, said she couldn't really see the ceremony but did hear it and she heard some funny things in the background. I can only imagine!

Grandma June holding June. Photo by Robyn Carnill

Melissa blessing Ada. Photo by Robyn Carnill
The vows and blessing are important to us. These are the vows we ask our community to make with us. We borrowed them from different friends and tweaked them to fit us.

Will you strive to be a follower of Jesus and therefore love and lead your family, not only providing for Ada’s physical, mental and emotional needs but also for her spiritual needs?
Will you strive to be a follower of Jesus and therefore support and submit to Greg’s leadership by likewise providing for Ada’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs?
Greg and Ann
Will you strive to have your home centered on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself?

Will you strive to love Ada with the love of Christ by:
· Teaching her the ways of Jesus and the spiritual disciplines he practiced in his daily life?
· Living out for her a model of following Jesus in word, deed, and thought?
· Showing her how to forgive when wronged, as well as how to ask for forgiveness?
· Giving her a community of friends, where she can be herself and
experience true fellowship?

Will you strive to surrender Ada to the Lord, that wherever He might use her, that she would go with your blessing?

Will you strive to support, encourage and help Greg and Ann fulfill the commitments they have just made before God and us?

Extended Family and Community
As a community of life we will seek God in Spirit and in Truth, both in our solitude and in our relationships so that children like Ada will see faith and growth modeled throughout life.

As a community of love we aim to see each other through the eyes of Jesus – showing mercy and grace in all things so that children like Ada will learn that love wins. As a community of sharing we desire to be generous with our time, love, and possessions so that children like Ada will know that in the community of God, there is abundance.

As a community of peace we will engage in the ministry of reconciliation – resolving conflict and seeking true peace in our hearts, marriages, families, and friendships so that children like Ada will have hope for the world.

As a community of oneness we strive to keep the person of Jesus at the center of all things so that children like Ada will never feel alone.

We plant a tree for each child when I become pregnant and at their ceremony we have the community water the tree. It represents that we want our children to grow up being raised by a village of people and they are all a part of nurturing these children to become great adults. The tree also represents an Ebenezer. Ebenezers are built to remind us where our help has come from so for us when we look at this tree we will remember we are not alone and remember what the Lord has done.

My parents watering Ada's treet (June had just spilled water all over my Mom's pants!)
Photo by Robyn Carnill
My Uncle Joe creates a painting for each child. You can see Ada's painting above in the chair. Some day I'd like to share about all the paintings my Uncle has made for us. It's a very special addition to our collection from him.

Greg's Mom watering the tree. Photo by Robyn Carnill.

Lining up to water Ada's tree. Photo by Robyn Carnill
Not only do we sing songs together, have friends share and read scripture. Beforehand, Greg and I always pray that those who attend will be blessed by being present and we believe this happens.

Dedication Ceremony Program in Ada's tree. Photo by Robyn Carnill

Community around our community art wall. Photo by Robyn Carnill
There are so many more great photos to share so I'll have to post some of those on a Wednesday. Thanks for coming to meet Ada Jennifer!

Jen and Ada!




Well, it was definitely a joy and a blessing to finally get my hands on Ada and also celebrate her dedication! The ceremony was meaningful and symbolic and such a beautiful picture of community.

As I prayed in closing at the dedication, I am excited to see what the Lord has for Ada!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Brownies Will Have to Do


Jen is on vacation this week. In fact, she is in Michigan for a family reunion! We were able to see her twice. Once for Ada's Dedication (this was a last minute surprise!) and once for half-day in Frankenmuth. I'm pooped from the weekend's dedication and an exhausting but fun time in Frankenmuth today with Jen's family and ours, so I'll leave you with this until next week: How to cut 50 brownies for tomorrow's end-of-year preschool picnic.

I used to cut them with a knife from my drawer. The cuts turned out like this.

Annoying thick cuts!
Today I learned something new. After taking out my "handy dandy notebook," I mean...after I googled how to cut brownies I found out that if you cut them with a plastic knife they cut perfectly! Who knew?

This is my version of perfect!

Next week this household will be working on getting better naps for Ada, potty training June (fingers crossed) and hopefully you will see a post full of pictures from Ada's Dedication. On that note I will leave you with our favorite song about going potty.

Don't hate me for putting that into your head.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Everett's kissable cheeks

I'm very much in love with this boy! He came to our house on Sunday and it took everything in me not to grab and squeeze him. To him I'm just the lady that takes up some of his Mom's time on the phone so I decided I'll wait until I see him Thursday so he can get to know me before he gets his squeeze. - Ann

Monday, May 21, 2012

This Post is Rated PA for Parental Anxiety

The following is a guest-post written by a Minneapolis friend, Erin. You can find her gorgeous work at http://www.loveisblogging.blogspot.com/. Her thoughts are hilarious and all-too convicting. Amen, Erin!

Let’s just talk for a minute about the deep-seated desire to have angelic children and the anxiety that it brings on. The other day I tried to be brave and take my 3 kids grocery shopping. When I pulled up to Aldi, a men’s group home was dropping off a van load of guys, who happened to take up each of the 4 small aisles of the store. I tried to make it a quick trip but it resulted in no less than 2 time outs per boy, followed by a violent game of crack-the-whip based on my instructions to “hold hands and walk quietly.” My sweat drenched armpits should have been a good indicator that we needed to go home. So what did I do? I thought maybe I’d get a redo if I took them to Target—you can laugh now or later.

Once we got rolling on the giant cart at Target my boys proceeded to howl, at store-inappropriate decibels, like wolves as we cruised the aisles. The more kids we passed, the larger the wolf pack grew until we could hear other children several aisles over communicating with my own two wild beasts. I started to get dirty looks from the other moms and eventually one who turned her cart around and fled our aisle. I got home and was so frustrated at how my kids made me look. Why couldn’t they just sit respectfully and sort my coupons for me?! 
It wasn’t until a few days later when I told my mother-in-law this story that I realized how hilarious it really had been. I laughed hard as I told her about that day. But then I began to regret that I hadn’t giggled along with them, maybe thrown out my own “Awrooooooo!” I missed a chance to indulge in their creativity and instead succumbed to my own anxiety. Since when did my kids deserve to have such adult-like expectations placed on them?

Now, I’m not saying let your kids run willy-nilly and escape consequences. In fact the slap fights they were having resulted in more time outs near the canned beans. And later, after telling Lincoln for the hundredth time to stop climbing the cart, we had to have the “natural consequences” conversation after he fell out the back. Parenting is painful and constant and testing. And on top of that, when I let my anxiety get the best of me, my joy is taken from me.
I’ve spent time grieving the mistakes I’ve made and the ways I may have injured my children’s spirits by thoughtlessly scolding and stink-eyeing them into submission. But I’m learning to ask my children for forgiveness and also to not care about what the other little wolves’ mommies think of me. And I’ve spent a lot of time repeating Psalm 139:23-24 to myself:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

It’s a risky game to ask to be tested, but what a comfort that He knows my heart. Asking Him to reveal those offensive ways is humbling, especially when it comes to my parenting. Which is why it’s that much more necessary. These little human beings in my care are watching closely and if I’m being lead in “the way everlasting” I want my little pups following closely behind me.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'


Well, Ada is about the same size as your baby, Hayden, when he was born! Last week at the doctor she weighed 10 pounds, 7 oz. Gotta love my little peanut!

Taking a nap on the lawn
She is laughing and smiling so much now. She thinks I am especially funny which melts my heart. When I stare at her I get this funny feeling in my chest and it makes me want to cry. She is so darn beautiful!

Ada playing with her sister, Catina
Ada now loves to roll from her belly to her back both ways! She is almost rolling from her back to her front but hasn't quite gotten there yet. Catina likes to lightly tap her when she does this and she starts a rollin'. I love to see the shocked look on her face when she realizes what has happened. She is also in this phase where she lifts her hand up and stares at it like its from another planet. She is grabbing for toys and has learned to pull her cow friend which plays music.

Ada watching her sisters.
At the end of June she has her heart check-up. We are praying her valve has closed and that she will not need heart surgery. When I think of this possibility I get all panicky, though I'm trying to stay focused and believe that whatever happens will be o.k. Ultimately, we are praying for healing so we are asking others to believe with us for that healing. In June, we will also be checking her thyroid and visiting an ENT. We are definitely looking forward to summer around here so our schedule can be more on the free side!

Sunday we are dedicating Ada to the Lord. Looking forward to you meeting our Ada then!




Part of me feels like I have already met her! I am beyond excited to see all of you, but especially our Ada.

Believing that God can certainly heal Ada's little heart!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2 and 5 Year Old Photos

Catina at 5 years of age.

Really wish she would've let me pick out the shoes but she has her style!

June at 2 years old

This is so June!

They are becoming best of friends!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Living in Community Can Be Messy


This week I had a tough conversation with some good friends. It was tough because we were hashing over a previous conversation wherein I communicated something differently than I'd intended. Something that came out of love sounded angry and stinging. I wish I could go back and rewind and say things differently but I can't. I have felt very sad these past few days because of it, and have become fearful to communicate anything because I am afraid I will say things wrong again.

I could dwell in this place of fear and shame but I am going to choose not to. I am going to ask the Lord to heal me--and them--so that we can move forward. I am going to choose to go deeper with these friends even though my first instinct is to throw in the towel.

When Greg and I were first married we began to seek out those around us who wanted to live close together and share what we had in common. We imagined people dropping in at any time and eating many unplanned meals together. We were and still are a part of a group that aims to be like the people in Acts 2:42. At times we read farther than verse 42 and get excited about what we may possibly be someday.

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
The Fellowship of the Believers

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Those first years of our marriage I really struggled with those around me. Why didn’t they want to be together all the time? Why didn’t they drop everything to help? How come we were all living separately and not giving of ourselves to help those who were struggling? Why didn’t everyone have an open door policy?

The more I tried to live in community the more frustrated I became. At times I would become very angry and discouraged. I began to seek the Lord to ask Him what I could do to help create this unity that I sought. One summer morning while sitting on our back patio with friends I began to talk out loud about my frustrations and my confusion. Why did people think they deserved things they really did not deserve? In this, I began to talk about the expectations I had of my friends. I didn’t want to have expectations but somehow they were there, and the friends around me continued not to meet them. I wondered if I should lower my expectations but realized that wasn’t going to solve the problem and would be just as disappointing.

That morning we began to talk about the difference between expectations of people and hopes for people. I realized that if I expected something of someone then I was creating a line that they may or may not live up to. Inevitably, people would not reach the bar that I had set. Rather, if I had hopes for someone, this gave those around me the ability to grow into what I hoped for them. It opened my heart to forgiveness and love and changed me so that I no longer believed people have to be a certain way but that both of us could grow into a closer relationship. 

This began to change my beliefs and the community around me began to change. I still struggle with expectations and hopes. Sometimes I think I have hopes and they are really just expectations. I know though that if I can focus on His Hope the community around me will became more attractive and the hopes will begin to look more like Jesus’ rather than the expectations that look like me. I also know that I will fail again and again people and the Lord will need to forgive me, and I them.




I agree there is such a fine line between hope and expectations. Hope is so delicate and painful at times and takes such tremendous grace.

Lord, help us to bestow your grace unto others. Thank you for giving us what we don't deserve.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day!

Remember all those years when this holiday might as well have been called Everyone Who's Fertile (Unlike Me) Day? Oh, how I dreaded going to church on those days. There would always be roses or some kind of token given to the moms, "But please, even if you aren't a mom you are welcome to take one," the pastor would add. Do I take one and then hope everyone heard that disclaimer? I'm not saying I'm a mom because I took one, he said I could! Or do I refuse one, and just stick out like a sore thumb? I don't mean to sound trite, but sometimes you just have to laugh.

After Elisabeth was born and died, that first Mother's Day was a strange mix of pride and anguish. I go straight to tears remembering my friend Erin who sent me the most lovely card that May to recognize my "mom" experience. It's in Elisabeth's baby book and forever etched on my heart.

This Mother's Day, in addition to honoring my amazing mom and mother-in-law, I'm going to make a point to remember the women in my life who I know are waiting on a baby, or who have lost a child. I remember how much those small acts meant to me and I hope to pass along that love.



Oh Jen!

This holiday is like Christmas. For some reason whenever it came around I couldn't believe another year had gone by and we weren't celebrating a pregnancy! Thanking Jesus for giving us these gifts of children now.

Lord, comfort those who are waiting to be Moms, who have lost Moms and who have lost a child as we approach this day of recognition. May those around them be sensitive and loving.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Congratulations, your child has Down syndrome!


Lately I've been wondering if it's strange that I am not more sad about Ada's Down syndrome. I have heard a few stories where people who have children with DS have come up to a new parent of a baby with DS and congratulated them on the DS rather than the child. I'm sure they are doing this because they know how special the experience is but it is a bit odd.

I get it though. I'm excited about this journey we are on with Ada. Of course there are times when I wonder what it would be like to have no "special needs" in our house, but then I look at my "normal" child and remember that we all have special needs. I think often of where Lord is taking us: What will we learn? Where will he have me in ten years because of this life changing experience?

We wouldn't choose cancer or a divorce, but when it brings a person closer to Christ you can almost be glad. If someone else has the chance at the same path as you because of something that was put in your lives, they too will have the opportunity to grow closer to Jesus. I feel this same way about Down syndrome or even deafness. 

My views are changing as to how I view disabilities. Now I see them as blessings and I might not have before. I appreciate being among them rather than viewing it from the outside. I know I will appreciate Life more because of this journey and will hopefully long for and understand heaven a bit more while I'm here on earth.

On World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, March 21st, I saw this video. 

It blew me away how these children were from all over the world. How could they be a mistake? They permeated every ethnicity and it was beautiful. Their "simple minds" can teach us everywhere to live in the present and to love. I'm looking forward to learning more about this love people say they feel coming from people with DS.

Catina is very emotional, but when she is really sad about something she lays her head near Ada and suddenly becomes very calm. Her baby sister is already teaching her how to go to a calm place where things are simpler and where she feels loved.

May we embrace the challenges in our lives so that we can grow closer to Jesus, that we would learn to live more like Him. 





So many thoughts, but mostly gratitude for your great attitude and also for keeping it real.


Friday, May 4, 2012



When I was a "career" person I was super loyal to my employers--it was sort of my thing. Not that I necessarily recommend it, but it worked for me.

Back in those days I would say, "They own us." Not in an oppressive way, but acknowledging that we have a responsibility to our employer even when we aren't at work. For instance, even though it's more fun to stay up late, it is wiser to wait until the weekend to do that since it's important to be well-rested for work. We have to make choices outside of work that still allow us to perform well at our jobs. This is also called adulthood.

I have not been functioning well at my job of being an at-home mom to 2 1/2 year old twins and a 15 month old. I've been staying up too late, and I've let the house get too disorganized. Today I actually had to pray that God would help me LIKE my children. Isn't that horrible?! But when I'm not living a life that allows me to do my job well, I'm unhappy. God created us to find joy in our work, and I need to take that seriously!
A fuzzy iphone picture I sent to Ann the other day. I'd given up and just let Hayden play with the Cheerios.
I know the lines get crossed when you're an at-home mom (I can sleep at work! Oh wait, I never leave work.), but the principle still applies. It would be easy to say "It's so hard to be be a parent, you need a break!" but sometimes I think I just need to be a better worker.

Ecclesiastes 2:25
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.




You have a great point and because we stay at home I believe the lines can get fuzzy. My desk at work was always super organized but I'd hate for you to see my desk at home. It consists of a few piles and random toys. 

I agree that its good to evaluate the job we are doing and even though we don't have an official boss its good to "do everything for the glory of the Lord." My attitude could be better at times and when I focus on doing quality work rather than slacking I feel much better. I wouldn't refuse a break if it was given to me though! Those are needed, too.

Here's a great song by Steven Curtis Chapman. You might want to pull out your crackers because the video itself is cheesy but I like the words of the song.

I'll close now since I need to go sweep the floor for the 10th time! I'm pretty sure I am going to invent a vacuum system where you push a button and holes open up in your floor and every stray cheerio is sucked into the ground.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Garden Art

I made this with Greg's friend, Dan, as a surprise for Greg's birthday a couple of years ago!