On Family Pictures & Waves of Grief

Family Picture_Fotor

Hodgson Family ~ Fall 2015

Family pictures are a tricky thing for me. I treasure photos greatly. I enjoy the art of taking pictures, looking and re-looking at pictures and capturing precious moments. However, whenever it comes to family photos, though there is a smile on my face, my heart is divided. I can’t help but think of our precious sons who should be beside us in our family pictures. It almost seems wrong to capture a “family” photo without them! However, this is our family, at present, and I desperately want it captured nonetheless. I even go so far as to think, “What if this is our last family photo together?!?!” Because sometimes it is, and we just never know. On the flip side, I thank God for the family I have here and that gives me reason to smile and capture this moment. I suspect I will always feel the void, the struggle and the pangs of sadness.

DSCN0187

Christmas 2011 ~ Our Last “Family” Picture with Andrew

I didn’t anticipate grief flooding in this Christmas season. The waves definitely come fewer and farther between, and this one came unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere. Dear friends were sharing their burdens of loss and pain during Sunday School one morning. Their hearts echoed what was all too familiar to me. I bit my lip and wrestled through class, thinking I could hold it together because I’m typically not much of a crier. I ducked my head and made a beeline for my spot on the pew for service,  I just couldn’t shake this deep sorrow that filled my heart. Images of the day we lost Andrew flashed through my mind. The throbbing ache in my arms, desperate to hold my children close, was there. I wondered and worried about how my surviving children would deal with the deaths of their brothers into their adult years. The memories, thoughts and tears wouldn’t stop. This Christmas a dear friend gifted our kids with Christmas outfits, and I kept thinking, Andrew and Isaiah should have matching outfits too! It just didn’t seem fair. I simply could not hold back the tears that came in torrents down my face. I had to walk out of that service and go home. I felt unable to stand up under the weight of the grief. It felt so bizarre to be feeling these gut wrenching emotions, seemingly out of the blue. I suspect these moments will always come. It’s all part of the journey. I’m still not used to it and am surprised by grief.

Sleigh Family

December 2015

FullSizeRender 2

Four Beautiful Children in Christmas Outfits

FullSizeRender 3

Christmas 2015

IMG_7864

Here’s to 2016! Happy New Year!

In 2015, family pictures, Christmastime and ringing in the New Year held another new set of emotions for me. Throughout the festivities, I kept wondering if, perhaps, this was our last Christmas as a family as we now know it. Would we be sharing our celebrations with a new son or daughter next Christmas season? If God would allow us to add to our family in 2016, we would be so grateful. I treasured this season with my family a little bit differently, not knowing what 2016 would hold.

By the grace of God, and with hope, I do know Who holds 2016. I’m thankful for His faithfulness. I’m trusting in His provision and timing, glad that He can see the big picture that I can’t. He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Advertisements

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Praise God! We held two yard sales already this summer!! Whew! Good thing we have the rest of the summer to relax! 😉

Come one! Come all!

We are, again, beyond grateful for the way God brought everything together. He provided the space, some great weather, the awesome stuff, the shoppers and more funds toward our adoption. Thank you to all who helped us in countless ways. We couldn’t do this without you guys! That’s the awesome part about being invested in community and part of the family of God. We’re made to work together! It’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of.

DSC_1118

Good company. 🙂

IMG_2911

Fixin’ up some flashy signs!

IMG_2921

More good company. 🙂

IMG_2943

EARLY morning set up. Ben’s dad went over and above for both of our sales this year!

Our sales this year worked much like last year. We had a huge amount of items donated and were busting at the seams. We spent hours sorting, pricing, organizing and setting up. This year, we were sadly missing Neena’s amazing baked goods, but the kids happily tried to compensate.

IMG_2637

Handsome salesmen.

IMG_2951

Who could resist buying a bottle of water from these two cuties?!?!

We still have a few things leftover that we are listing on Craigslist but the majority of our items are sold or donated. Such a great feeling!! Thinking this year would be NOTHING like last year, we had pretty low expectations but high hopes. As usual, we’ve been blown away!! So far, sales total $2491.35!! Woohoo!!

IMG_2954

We make a pretty good team. ❤

And, in even HUGER news…I’m happy to update that God has made it possible for us to have raised over $14,000 toward this adoption so far!! UNBELIEVABLE!! Whenever we’re faced with a huge undertaking my hubby and and I often banter about a quote we heard once along the lines of, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This reminds me of that. When we felt God calling us to adopt for sure, and our faith felt so small, we began the huge task of fundraising. That was a little less than a year ago. Wow. God is so good. We’re eating this elephant one bite at a time. Thanks for helping, because, for us, this elephant is a big one. 🙂

Read-A-Thon UPDATE!

We had so much fun with the Read-A-Thon in March! Thank you so much to all who participated…both sponsors and readers. You guys blew us away!

Photo May 01, 11 49 59 AMNothing thrills my heart like children with their noses in books! That, combined with supporting adoption, has me over the moon.

Photo Mar 29, 9 37 39 PMWe are excited to announce that the Read-A-Thon raised $3,025.05!! Isn’t God so good to provide for this adoption in this super fun way?!?!

We’re praising God!! It’s official!!

IMG_0841

Hubby and I, taking a moment to celebrate, just as he was leaving for the Post Office to mail our dossier.

Woohoo! We are so excited to have reached a milestone in this long adoption process! We submitted our dossier on Thursday and received an email last night confirming that we are officially on the waiting list!! Eek!!

After months and months of documentation, interviews, doctor’s appointments, documentation, fingerprints, fundraising, documentation, notaries, criminal records, home study appointments and more documentation, it feels wonderful to have finally submitted everything required to be on the waiting list. There is one waiting list across all four countries of Dominica (where our nephew Kerie is from), St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. We are currently in the 18th position on the list but several factors affect what that means. Even though we have a certain position on the list, each case is very carefully reviewed so that the best possible match can be made for each family on the list. They will do their best to keep birth order for our family, so the child will be younger than Lillyanna when he or she is placed in our home. Our agency is anticipating that we will wait 12-18 months before a match is made. Then, it will probably be an additional 4-6 months before we can bring the child home. Our social worker told us to try to go about our lives as usual, reminding us that a watched pot never boils. That is easier said than done!

So, now, we wait. We will be busy praying, raising money for expenses, preparing for international travel and remodeling a bedroom as we prepare for whatever the Lord has in store for our family. Our home study approves us to adopt two children, and we have said we would prayerfully consider a set of twins or a young sibling set, but we anticipate we will only be adopting one child at this time. Only the Lord knows!

We ask that you continue to keep our family in your prayers as the details come together. We are still asking for wisdom about the things I mentioned here. And, as I said before, we have a long road ahead of us, guaranteed to be laden with obstacles. We will not fear, because we know Who goes before us. He is our Peace. So exciting to be walking this road! Thanks for walking it with us.

Celebrate Read Across America Day and Join Our Read-A-Thon Fundraiser!

Dear Family, Friends and Fellow Book Lovers,

In honor of Read Across America Day and in support of adoption, let’s get reading! By participating in this Read-a-Thon during the month of March, your family will help give the gift of a forever family to an orphan. Proceeds raised through this Read-a-Thon will enable us to pay for fees and travel expenses for our upcoming adoption.

Read-a-Thons are a fantastic way to reinforce good reading habits in your family. Start them young and never stop! Young and old alike are encouraged to take part!

BW Cody and LillyannaBW AllieBW EthanPlease register below to participate. Then, click the link below to download the Read-A-Thon Kit which contains everything you need to know as well as the forms necessary to begin acquiring pledges. Let me know if you have any questions! Please feel free to share this post. The more the merrier. Happy Reading!

Here’s everything you need to know!
Download and print this Read-A-Thon Kit.

BW Lillyanna Reading

Week In Review ~ February 1

CSC_0113

The weather was really mild at the beginning of the week so Ben and the boys worked on their backyard  fort. A friend of ours generously gave the boys several boards to use and they were thrilled!

DSC_0111

Lately this girl has been LOVING listening to her Beginner’s Bible on CD. Since she can’t read very well yet, she spends a lot of time just sitting on her bed, looking at the pictures and listening.

DSC_0118

My sweet husband has worked very diligently on adoption paperwork this week. Things are progressing faster than we thought and we should be able to submit our dossier VERY soon! Praise God!

CSC_0127

Cody wanted to make pumpkin bread this week. He did and it was delicious!

IMG_0544

For date day, these two went ice skating. I’m not sure who loved it more. 🙂

IMG_0545

I think her love language is “Reading Aloud” and I think Cody is her favorite. 🙂

DSC_0139

Hehe! Farm animal sounds. 🙂

IMG_0453

It takes a lot to get this guy down. He’s fighting a bad cold.

IMG_0465

Daddy and the girls stayed home from church Wednesday night. The boys were excited to visit the James General Store where Mr. Stache gave them mustaches!

IMG_0467

Ugh. This was taken early Thursday morning after I found her in her bed with her diaper off. I’ll spare you the details. She sure does make it pretty difficult to stay mad at her though. 🙂

IMG_0469

Since we were all tired from rough nights of sleep and fighting colds, we took Thursday off school and spent time with stickers, baby dolls and our new game, Bohnanza. We’ve borrowed it, and it’s a family favorite, so we were excited to get our own!

IMG_0486

Her other favorite thing to play with besides books. 🙂 She LOVES her babies!

IMG_0500

They discovered the concordance!

DSC_0161

Science was taught by my lovely sister this week. Our experiment had us measuring lung capacity.

DSC_0167

The experiment turned out to be a disaster and quite soggy. 😦 We had some good laughs though!

IMG_0509

On Saturday, our kids spent the day with my sister’s family so we could take an all-day membership class at our church. We LOVED the class and are so thankful for our church! We got to go grocery shopping and have dinner together before picking the kids up for bed. It was a wonderful date day!

IMG_0510

On Sunday we woke up to quite a bit of snow and it kept coming!

IMG_0511

The weather didn’t stop us from going to a super bowl party!

IMG_0514

This is what the Super Bowl is all about, right?!?!

IMG_0517

It’s such a joy to have my oldest sister living close by these days. We enjoyed chatting (even though with 8 kids there are LOTS of interruptions), playing Bananagrams and she spoiled me with this delicious latte. So thankful for her!

Week In Review ~ January 25

IMG_0148

On Monday, my sister and I drove up to spend the day with some of my family. My grandma hasn’t been doing very good and we wanted to spend some time visiting with her. It was a joy to visit with her and grandpa!

IMG_0149

This girl is a little bookworm just like her siblings! I adore that she is regularly found engrossed in a pile of books!

IMG_0182

We have been struggling with her taking her clothes off, including her diaper! This happens all around the house but especially in her bed. The results are usually far less than awesome. After much trial and error, this is the best solution we’ve come up with: jammies backward with a shirt over top. She hasn’t figured out how to take a shirt off over her head. Yet. This pictures proves, she’s still trying to outsmart us, but so far this has kept her from taking her clothes and diaper off completely!

IMG_0185

We worked on colors this week!

IMG_0186

This guy is a reading machine! This week he finished his book list for first grade and is begging for another list.

IMG_0194

Tuesday’s date day was for me and Allie. She requested that we play nail salon and we did her toenails, complete with a Strawberry Shortcake lotion foot massage. 🙂

IMG_0248

Neena came to visit on Wednesday. She brought lunch and a Neena Box! We’re spoiled!

IMG_0214

Allie and I rowed Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey this week. From this sweet book: “Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were bursting with pride. It was a great responsibility taking care of so many ducklings, and it kept them very busy.” I love Robert McCloskey and this is one of my favorites.

DSC_0168

We spent Wednesday afternoon exploring the trails at a local nature center. It was a beautiful day and fun to be outside as a family!

DSC_0161

Four of my favorite people.

DSC_0177

Lillyanna ate snow for the first time thanks to daddy teaching her. 🙂

IMG_0404

The whole family ventured to the police station on Friday afternoon so Ben and I could get some fingerprinting done for our dossier. Yay! One step closer!

IMG_0325

I got to spend Friday evening with this precious guy and his older siblings. It was fun to spend time with them without my kids there hogging them! 😉

IMG_0337

Saturday morning we did some cleaning as a family. It was nice to have happy, enthusiastic helpers! The kids love using this child-size Norwex dusting mitt and I love that they don’t have to spray anything! 🙂

DSC_0060

Daddy took the older kids outside to help them build a snow fort. They worked hard and had so much fun!

DSC_0048

Here, he’s planning to throw those snow balls at me!

DSC_0090

Handsome hubby, great daddy.

DSC_0076

My goofy girl eating “snow dogs”.

DSC_0042

Layer 1 of the snow “bricks”, complete.

CSC_0032

While the big kids played outside, little miss and I played inside. Love this picture of her and her baby!

IMG_0398

Sunday we spent the day with my family. It was a wonderful celebration of my grandma’s 83rd birthday and a bit of a family reunion. This is a picture of my grandma (my dad’s mom) with all of her great-grandchildren. Precious moments!