*Leaping* for Joy

Tonight I am blown away and humbled.

We are going into our March adoption fundraiser with 30–YES THIRTY!–registered participants. Thirty precious people, reading their hearts out, to help us on this adoption journey. Each of those 30 people will have numerous sponsors behind them to encourage their reading and to support our adoption. This is crazy exciting and super encouraging!

God is so good.

When we worry about the details, when we’re scared about the future, when we’re unsure how He’s going to provide, but are willing to submit anyway, He shows up and gives far more abundantly than all we can ask or think. He surrounds us with encouragement and blesses our desire to obey. He uses dear friends to hold us up and carry us. He gently comforts and reassures us. He follows through on his promises. He provides.

Ephesians 3:20

This evening, He laid these words of Ephesians 3:20 on my heart and as I opened up my Bible to read it, my eyes fell to verses 14 and 15 first: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” He is sovereign over all and he knows and names every family and each member of them. He knows precisely who makes up the Hodgson family on earth and in heaven.  The children we have not yet had the privilege to meet have been named by God as “Hodgsons” before the creation of this world! He’s got this! Chapter 3 goes on to talk about the “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”. He loves us so much! God’s word was such a gift to me this evening and I hope that somehow, if you’re reading this, it encourages you as well.

Tonight I have tears of joy and thankfulness and my heart is overflowing. To God be the glory!

Advertisements

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.

2015-2016 Homeschool Year

It’s that time of year again!! I can’t believe another school year is upon us! Where did our summer go?!?! We are entering our sixth year of homeschooling! This year I’m excited because our homeschool space got a bit of an overhaul since we had water in our basement and had to replace the flooring. It’s fresh and organized and I’m going to enjoy it for the wee bit of time that it stays that way. 🙂

image

image

Here are a couple pictures of our first day of school:

DSC_2861

The Whole Crew (plus one) ~ 2015-2016 School Year


DSC_2873

Lillyanna Faith ~ almost 2 1/2 years old


DSC_2875

Allie Gabriella ~ 5 years old


DSC_2879

Ethan Alexander ~ 7 years old


DSC_2881

Colton Benjamin ~ 9 years old

Because it’s always fun to look at old pictures, here are a few pictures of years gone by just to compare:

2014-2015 School Year

2014-2015 School Year


DSCN3005

2013-2014 School Year


DSCN1529

2012-2013 School Year

Aren’t they so cute?!?! Time just flies by…

So, here’s what we plan to be doing this year:

2015/2016 Homeschool Curriculum Plan

Allie – Kindergarten

Five In A Row – Volumes 2 & 3

Art: Draw and Learn People (Second Half)

Bible: Answers Book for Kids/Memorize James 2/Memorize the Names of the Books of the Bible

Handwriting: HWOT Letters and Numbers for Me (Repeat from Last Year)

Math: Saxon K (Second Half)

Reading: All About Reading Level 1 & Level 2

Other:  Calendar, Story of Me, Address/Phone Number/Pledge of Allegiance, Me on the Map, Show & Tell, Swimming Lessons, Children’s Choir, Homeschool Family Fellowship

Ethan – 2nd Grade

Five In A Row – Volumes 2 & 3

Bible: Answers Book for Kids/Memorize James 2/Memorize the Names of the Books of the Bible

Geography: Stack the States/Stack the Countries

Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 2 (Repeat from Last Year)

History: Story of the World Volume 2 (Text Only)

Math: Saxon 3

Reading: Reading List

Spelling: All About Spelling Level 3

Writing: Writing With Ease Level 1

Other: Story of Me/Before I Was Born, Pledge of Allegiance, Me on the Map, Show & Tell, Swimming Lessons, Soccer, Children’s Choir, Homeschool Family Fellowship

Cody – 4th Grade

Five In A Row – Volumes 2 & 3

Bible: Answers Book for Kids/Memorize James 2/Review the Names of the Books of the Bible

Geography: Stack the States/Stack the Countries

Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 4

History: Veritas Press Self-Paced Middle Ages 

Math: Saxon 65

Reading: Reading List

Spelling: All About Spelling Level 4

Writing: Writing With Ease Level 3

Other: Story of Me/Before I Was Born, Typing InstructorDuolingo Spanish, Editor In Chief Beginning 2, Pledge of Allegiance, Camp Roger, Me on the Map, Critter Barn Volunteering, Show & Tell, Children’s Choir, Swimming Lessons, Soccer, Homeschool Family Fellowship

Here’s to a new year of crazy homeschooling! What are you planning for this year?

Reflections on Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.

Since I’m a thinker, I did a lot of thinking while my children and husband did their best to spoil me. In no particular order…this is a glimpse of what I thought and felt today.

I thought about Mother’s Day three years ago when grief threatened to crush me. That made my heart ache even more for others out there who are feeling crushed by the weight of today.

I dreamed forward to a day when a beautiful, brown-skinned sweetheart would call me mommy.

I remembered my precious boys who I carried in my womb and cradled in my arms but never had the chance to hear them call me mommy.

I thought about my own mother and how she has impacted me and taught me so much about life, love, dedication, hard work and commitment.

I thought about my husband’s mother. She must have done something right because he is a treasure and I am forever thankful to her for how she mothered him.

I wondered what kind of a legacy I am building for my own children and what they will remember about me when they have children of their own someday.

Mostly, I admired the sweet, amazing people who call me mom Every. Single. Day. I am so thankful for them and for how they fill my life with such joy and goodness. I love how they make me realize my need for a Savior and how lost I would be with Him. They see me at my very worst and love me anyway. They were eager to serve me today and show me special love and adoration. These kids are amazing, wonderful little people who I pray will love Jesus when they are big people. May God grant me the grace to do right by them and lead them to Him by my example.

I am so thankful for this gift of motherhood. The good. The bad. The ugly. And the beautiful. God is so good!

DSC_0691 DSC_0695 DSC_0698 DSC_0697 DSC_0715 DSC_0744

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.

Week In Review ~ February 8

So, yes, I realize it’s actually February 18th, not February 8th, but alas, it is only February and I’m behind on my goal for 2015. So, humor me as I backtrack to a review of a couple weeks ago…

IMG_0601

On February 2nd, I began a part-time job, of sorts, to earn money toward our adoption. I’m super excited about this and thankful for a way to earn some extra money!

IMG_0527

We played store for math this week. Shhh…don’t tell her it was for math. 🙂

IMG_0536

We got 12 inches of snow overnight!

IMG_0543

She just couldn’t make it through bedtime stories…

IMG_0550

For date day, Ethan helped me make popcorn…

IMG_0554

…then we played a game of his choice, Scrambled States of America. He’s better at Geography than I am.

IMG_0559

Just reading to Pippy.

IMG_0577

This little lady was SO sick all day Wednesday, then woke up Thursday completely fine. It was heartbreaking but I enjoyed the snuggles while they lasted!

IMG_0582

This kid. He has so much energy. Sometimes getting schoolwork done looks like this.

IMG_0600

Buddies. Sometimes it’s fun to break out a toy you haven’t used in awhile.

IMG_0606

Breakfast for dinner. You may think this plate belonged to one of our children. Nope. It’s daddy’s.

DSC_0003

He begged me to let him take her out in the snow to play. These two adore each other. I’m so thankful.

IMG_0634

On Friday night, my parents had us over for dinner. My mom made my favorite dessert…Chocolate Eclair! Yum!

IMG_0652

Sleepover at Grandpa’s!

IMG_0666

We rode snowmobiles for a few hours on Saturday with Grandpa and the cousins. So much fun!! Lillyanna spent the day with Grandpa and Neena so we could take the older ones. Allie was super scared to go at first, but once she got on, she loved it!

IMG_0676

It was fun to check out the ice sculptures by the lake!

IMG_0695

Pedal tractor races happened in Grandpa’s loft with the cousins Saturday night including helmets, gloves and the man waving the checkered flag. There was even a cooler with refreshments for the audience! Bottled water and apples…all FREE! I love seeing their imaginations!

IMG_0694

Cards with the family! Euchre tournament. Bring it on!

IMG_0698

You’re looking at the reigning Euchre Champs!

DSC_0011

Sunday snow fort building with daddy. They made a cave that all three of them could fit it! I was impressed.

DSC_0017

Meanwhile, inside, a game of Memory with Grandpa. Allie is a super poor sport. We’re working on it.

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!