How Did I Get Here?

Have you ever looked at your life and tried to figure out how the plans you thought were taking you in one direction suddenly ended up somewhere you never envisioned?  I have.  And I didn’t see it coming.

On October 2, 2006, my life changed.  My husband and I were married almost 10 years.  I was a stay at home mom to 3 young kids (ages 7, 5 and 18 months). I thought we had a good relationship.  I loved my family.  Life was simple. When I woke up that morning I had no idea that before lunchtime I would become a widow, my kids would no longer have a father, and my community would face heartbreaking devastation.

My husband committed the Amish Schoolhouse shooting.  My simple, predictable life was over.  I could not comprehend how this man I loved, this man who loved our kids, was capable of killing children.  But there was no way to deny it.  Everyone asked me to answer for Charlie’s choices, but I didn’t have answers.  All I held were broken pieces of the life we built and the promises we made. I felt devastated and desperate, but not without hope. God was our constant, and I knew I could trust him. He had showed me in countless ways throughout the years that he was faithful.  To me, this was much bigger than anything I had faced before, but I knew he didn’t see it that way.  He saw our pain, not from a distance, but from the place where we stood. That day I chose to surrender my brokenness and trust him with something I could not see my way through.

God promised redemption.  And he has kept his promise.  Let me tell you about our journey.  You can see/hear me talk about it in this short video.

And if you find yourself walking a similarly unexpected road, know that the same God who writes his redemption story in my life is writing one in yours.  Nothing is impossible.  His love never fails.

It’s Official- We’re Expecting. Adoption.

I have a secret we’ve been keeping.  We’re expecting.  Our family is in the process of adopting!

“How long have you been thinking about adoption?” That’s a question I hear often and one that I can’t answer definitively. As a child, my 2 favorite movies were Annie and The Rescuers—redemption and restoration—those stories captured a deep place within my heart. But there were also times that adoption was on the forefront of my mind. I remember when Charlie and I lost our first daughter, Elise, and the feelings of adoption surfaced once again. A friend encouraged me that this was not the time to pursue adoption; it was the time to pursue healing. I knew she was right.

Years passed and we had our own children. Then my kids lost their father and I started to see things differently. I remember thinking about how it felt from their perspective to live life without a “daddy”. My heart broke for them. Then God brought Dan. At first I argued with God. His timing seemed crazy.  God settled me, and the realization came, “All kids need a mom and a dad. My kids need a dad more now than ever before.” It was another reminder of adoption.

I started praying. When Dan and I got married I told him that I really didn’t think I was finished having children. I was not implying pregnancy. I told him about my desire to adopt. He wasn’t ready yet. And so I waited and prayed and prayed and waited. I knew this had to be the right step for our family and not just my idea.

Dan prayed too and God spoke to his heart. In December 2013 we signed up to attend an informational meeting at a local adoption agency. The day of the meeting came and I was excited. These years of waiting were making the minutes feel endless. I checked the clock frequently hoping it was time to leave. Then my mom called and everything changed. “Marie, your dad has been rushed to the hospital.” He was experiencing complications due to lung cancer. His situation was grave. This would be his last hospital stay. For a while we weren’t sure that he would come home, it looked like he would die there. Our conversations were serious and emotional. I spent as much time with him as possible. And I told him that we were thinking of adopting. He looked surprised. I said, “Not a puppy Dad, a child.” I wanted to make him laugh a little. And I wanted him to know about our adoption because I knew he wouldn’t be here to meet this child.

My dad died on Dec. 24, 2013. I understood what it felt like to be fatherless and my heart broke again for the children who know this loss too.

Our adoption journey had a million little twists and turns before it “officially” began, but I’m thrilled to share that we’re almost ready to send off our dossier.   We are adopting from South Africa, and we hope to bring our child home this summer.

For now, this is all I’ll share, but there is more—SO MUCH MORE. God is writing a beautiful story across our lives and he is weaving in the life of a child we’ve not met yet, but deeply love.

God places the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6

Something From Nothing

Late last night I prepared to wrap a birthday present for my son, today is his 12th birthday.  The box was fairly large and I quickly realized I didn’t have enough paper to adequately cover it.  I also knew that I was out of options.

I wanted this gift to look inviting and speak the truth of my great love for him.  A plain old cardboard box was not going to convey what was in my heart.  I started talking to God about my problem. I realized that my life often feels like this—in a million ways I don’t think I have enough to conquer what lies in front of me.  Time, resources, wisdom; I often struggle to see the abundance, but I have no trouble feeling the lack.

As I sat on my bedroom floor, Jesus began speaking to my heart.  He reminded me of the day he fed thousands with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  One young boy came to him and offered everything he had.  To many, it wouldn’t have looked like the substance of a gift, but it was more than an ordinary offering.  The contents of a simple basket met the extraordinary abundance of One who came to fill hearts, not just stomachs.  I felt Jesus whisper that he would do the same for me.  My mind started to process the promise- “I will make something out of your nothing.”  My heart felt lighter immediately.  A smile spread across my face and excitement pulsed through my veins.  Ok, show me how I can wrap this gift.  The answer was simple—I took the scraps of collected paper and wove them over the box like a patchwork quilt.  Then I found a “Happy Birthday” banner and wrapped it around the box, finishing it off with some smiley-face stickers and ribbon.

This was something out of nothing.  It happened, and I thought it looked fun, albeit a bit unusual.  I’ve never wrapped a gift this way before.  I prefer perfectly creased edges, coordinating ribbon and precisely placed strips of tape.  This was different; it was spontaneous creativity where I felt empty and frustrated.

My heart felt hope in new ways as I looked at my son’s gift.  Jesus will help me do this over and over again, but I need to allow him access to my life.  I must surrender myself to a quiet place where I patiently wait on his wisdom.  He specializes in pulling something from nothing.  I don’t doubt that it may look unusual, even a bit messy to my systematical eye.  My perspective has shifted though; this is a promise, not just a challenge, and I welcome him.

Do you have places of “nothingness” in your life?   Are there areas where you’re empty but life demands you have something to give?  Join with me in asking Jesus to show you how he intends to make something from nothing.  I know he won’t let you down.  Instead, he will lift you up, change your perspective and fill you with great hope!  I promise, he is not finished with this situation, or you, yet.

Rainy days and blue sky!

I told you that I would work backwards, here’s a post I started several weeks ago, before I even had a blog…

Inspiration comes in the most surprising places.  This afternoon (thanks to rain, for which I shall be forever grateful) my children indulged in a movie before dinner; once they had their homework completed of course!  My youngest picked “Meet the Robinsons”- which tells the story of orphaned boy’s journey to find a family, and follow his dreams.  There’s something about this particular movie that “gets” me every time.  Perhaps it’s seeing a child, who had no one to love him and cheer him on, find a family that becomes the perfect fit…so perfect that they indeed drive him forward in his desire to invent and follow his dreams.  Perhaps it’s the sheer fact that he doesn’t allow failure to kill his enthusiasm; but rather those around him actually celebrate failure- knowing that through it you grow.   I guess it’s really the whole package and how striking it is at every stage in my life.  Ordinarily I’m not great at goal setting; simply by defining a goal all further actions and outcomes should be influenced…and having things work out the way they are “supposed to” doesn’t seem to be the way it has gone for me. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about- discouragement from unrealized dreams that becomes the forecast over your life.  Well, it’s time to break through these clouds hanging over me, and probably time for you too!  One of the most beautiful things about flying (in an airplane) is that even when it’s raining at ground level, it doesn’t take much for the plane to soar through the clouds and into the bright blue sky above!  And once you’re “up there”, knowing what you’ve just come through from “down there”, it’s even more inspiring!  Just think- that blue sky exists no matter what it looks like from the ground; we just have to soar high enough to get beyond it.  I know it’s a bumpy ride on the way through those clouds, but it’s only for a short bit of time and then you emerge into the vastness of serene sky knowing that truly anything is possible!   Now all of this would be inspiring enough on it’s own, but when I add into the mix that the Creator of the universe is cheering me on and pushing me forward into the destiny he has solely prepared for me it’s truly breathtaking!  Just think- God has purposefully crafted and designed a beautiful destiny for each one of us.  He is equipping us to walk out his call on our lives, and he is placing before us the opportunity to walk with him in it everyday.   He is a father that walks with us celebrating our successes and failures, knowing that we grow in each one.  His heart is towards us, his banner over us is love.   What he asks from each one is that we surrender our hearts to him, and lift our eyes…I want to be the plane that soars through the clouds and above the rain…I want to see things from his vantage point…I want to hear his dreams for me…choose to believe and walk them out.  This time I’m not going to be sidelined by every little thing that doesn’t go my way.   Here’s the lyrics for the song that plays at the end of that movie- Little Wonders by Rob Thomas.  May the whispers God spoke into my heart encourage yours; to reach a little further, dream a little higher and believe that it truly is possible!  Each dream becomes reality one small moment at a time…

Let it go

Let it roll right off your shoulder

Don’t you know?

The hardest part is over

Let it in

Let your clarity define you in the end

We will only just remember how it feels


All lives are made in these small hours

These little wonders

These twists and turns of fate

Time folds away

But these small hours

These small hours

Still remain

Let it slide

Let your troubles fall behind you

Let it shine

‘Till your feel it all around you

And I don’t mind

If it’s me you need to turn to

We’ll get by

It’s the heart that really matters in the end


All of my regret

Will wash away somehow

But I cannot forget

The way I feel right now

In these small hours

These little wonders

These twists and turns of fate

Yeah these twists and turns of fate


Time falls away

Yeah but these small hours

These small hours

Still remain

Yeah, ah, ah

Oh they still remain

These little wonders

Oh, these twists and turns of fate

Time falls away

But these small hours

These little wonders

Still remain…

Hello world!

So who doesn’t write a blog?  I’ve thought about doing this a zillion times, wanting to write simply for the sake of expressing my heart, but for each time I’ve thought about doing it there have been a zillion reasons not to.  Well, this morning I find myself with absolutely “nothing” to do.  There isn’t anything pressing- laundry baskets aren’t overflowing, floor isn’t littered with crumbs and grass clippings, dishes aren’t piled in the sink, so it’s seemingly the perfect morning to pen my first blog.

Welcome to my world.

There’s so much to say that I really don’t know where to start.  For now I’ll start exactly where I’m at, with the intention of moving backwards someday to tell you about all the things I’ve thought to share and never have.  If you know me, then you’ll know that God is it for me- the love of Jesus over my life still takes my breath away and the shepherding of the Holy Spirit brings life to my heart.  This morning I find myself resting in that love, wanting to dwell in it so completely that all I do and every breath I take comes out of the center of HIS love.   When I rest in the promises of God and His declarations over me (found throughout the Bible and His whispers to my heart) I find that regardless of my surroundings, I am lifted above my circumstances in every way.  Today  I choose to stop being so multi-task oriented so that I may choose a singleness of mind…that I would be fixed upon Him.  I can’t wait to see what happens today; what God does with that!  I’ll keep you posted 🙂