Farm nights


A friend asked me to write about life on the farm with the boys. Tonight seems fitting, as it’s nearly 10:30 and the kids are just settling in. And, it’s National FFA Week, so the topic works well with that too!

Today was a typical “winter” day. I emphasize winter, because spring, summer and fall we’re outside much more and for hours on end. I had a unique work schedule this week, so my mom walked 50 feet last night at 8 p.m., stayed over night at our house and then watched the kids this morning for a few hours while I worked.

A Saturday trip to the dump with daddy!

A Saturday trip to the dump with daddy!

She also washed the dishes, did some laundry, made my bed and well, it was heaven to step out of the office and have things organized. While I made lunch, the kids jumped in their (adorable) Carhartt overalls and went to feed steers with grandma. In the meantime, I also ran the garbage to the garage, went to the mailbox and then to the workshop where our freezer is and brought in some meat for the next few days.

I met them in the yard as they were just coming out of the barn. Then, the three of them went across the farm to feed cats in the old milking barn, and I put lunch on the table. We ate, took naps, made dinner and then after baths, chatting and saying love you to Auntie Nicole, we saw the light on in the shop. So, me and the boys bundled up again and went out to see what Grandpa was up to.

Dad and I talked about the history of CNH, Farmall, International, McCormick, etc. for a while. We watched the news and discussed the upcoming FFA Alumni Toy Show, which we’re all excited about taking the boys to again this year. It will be Max’s first time. We went over details about the WPS Farm Show, and I gave him the new Farm Equipment magazine with my article and a really good column about sales’ departments by Dave Kanicki. We talked about his new corn planter, and how it’s going to work well this coming spring with a few adjustments.


Busy with chores!

He wants to get it out of the shop too. I joke it’s like a puzzle in there: to make it across the other side is an adventure in itself. Dad strategically parked the corn planter, the skidsteer, another John Deere tractor, and the mixer I think was in there tonight. I can’t remember. It changes daily!  

At this point, the boys were filthy, had literally been laying on the shop floor playing with trucks. They scared themselves by knocking over a part of the planter, which became a teachable moment in 1) listening to Grandpa and 2) farm equipment safety. To get over the tears, Grandpa found a snack, we watched them play and then he decided we all needed a second cleaning for the day.

He pulled out the air hose and sprayed the dust off each of us. At first the boys were a little iffy, but once they figured out this was sort of fun, lined up for their turns. I turned off the TV, Max grabbed Grandpa’s hand and we walked home together. We showed Grandpa how we play shadows at night in the yard and “monster moon” our made-up game. I gave my Dad a hug, and we ran laughing to our home, he walked across the yard to his.

Grandpa always says if you work hard, you can play hard!

Grandpa always says if you work hard, you can play hard!

This is a little glimpse into a day and it’s fun. And every day is different. Some days it’s just us and others we see family and friends. We play and learn, and well, the boys love to work. They are following in footsteps I’m proud to be even just a small part of. I often wonder what Knox’s mom would think of his life? Is it very different than hers? Is it very different than what it would have been? I don’t know I guess, but I hope she’d be happy. God knows he is!

And when spring comes, he’ll be walking around golf club in hand, learning how to perfect his swing from Grandpa Bradley and Daddy! What a life, kiddo!

Finding Grace in the Winter Months


It’s been cold here in Wisconsin, and that means we spend more hours inside than out. Let’s just say, I am praying for grace, and for an early spring! Last night, Knox, Max and their cousin Kylee decided to empty my closet onto the floor. This is after they pulled a thread in my new rug with a dog leash, colored on my cutting boards, and left a trail of water through the house from a full steam iron. Splendid! You can just about imagine my expression when I saw four shelves of clothes strewn across the bedroom. They were playing “house.” Oh, okay. I guess that’s fine then! Later, two of them fell out of bed while arguing, and came into the living room crying.

The three amigos, who destroyed my closet. Love them!

The three amigos, who destroyed my closet. Love them!

I finally gave in to their antics, as I’m battling a winter cold myself.  I threw all three in my king-sized bed, turned on Aladdin, and slept a peaceful night on the couch. Give me grace, Lord, for the winter months our crops need, but I crave some yard time! For them, and for me. I put some pounds on my hips this winter too, so it’s just time to move again, run and play. I’ve decided to give myself grace with that as well, and realize I do my best with what I have today.

I don’t tell you my challenges to be a complainer. Most of the time it’s all quite hilarious to me. God has blessed me and I am thankful beyond words. But, do you ever remember thinking: “I didn’t know it would be like this.” I’m sure you do. Whether it’s graduating from high school and studying for that first college exam. I was floored at how much professors expected. I know I thought the same thing about single life; I didn’t know I’d crave a companion so desperately. Then in marriage, after the glow wore off a bit, I wished someone had told me to enjoy the single days without worry. We had to deal with bills, and dishes and families. Then the baby didn’t sleep all night. “I wish someone had told me” as I spent hours working and trying to stay awake.

Truth is, no one can ever tell us EXACTLY how we’ll feel, how we’ll react, how we’ll treat others in times of change and stress. I remember thinking if ONLY someone had told me how hard it would be to leave your baby for the first time, crying for mama. If ONLY they said you won’t always like your husband, but you can’t imagine life without him. If ONLY they had told me what to do when that second baby came, just 10 months later! If ONLY I had a plan in place, a step-by-step guide of what to do NEXT.

See, I’m a planner. I like a well thought-out, discussed with peers, approved after much contemplation, plan. Who doesn’t?!? Ha. I know some of you are definitely more spontaneous than me. Call it Type A Extreme. (I’m not afraid to admit my issue either.)

I think this is what brings us closer to God, further down on our knees and in search of His grace. I just keep trying to do the next best thing, but I can’t do it alone. I truly believe that so many women who have unexpected pregnancies and are able to leave their newborn infants under the Safe Haven Law, well they probably wish the same thing I did: If ONLY someone had told me how hard it would be to make this choice, to carry this child I can’t keep. If ONLY someone explained the pain of walking away, never knowing again. Friends, they need grace and our absolute support.

I love these women. I don’t know them, they don’t know me, but the greater closeness I seek to them in my heart, I love them more and more. I love Knox’s mom. I love knowing you’ll read this and tell someone about the Safe Haven Law, just one person, and that one person may need to hear it. They may know someone who needs to hear about it even more.

And I love being able to write to you, believing we all need grace and can come alongside each other in love and encouragement. I have the best friends, the ones who dig deep and sink their feet in, and don’t leave when the manure freezes solid that day, or the wind blows another mile faster. They don’t care if I need to talk about kids who won’t potty train, and how I idiotically cut through the Internet cable that supplies the whole house. I hope our Safe Haven moms have found those people, who they can tell their secrets and know will keep their confidence, but most of all, show them grace in the storms. I hope one day I will be one of those women, who can come alongside and share in their journey, be a friend.

Today was a great day, on so many levels. God showed me grace first thing this morning with just one phone call and man, I looked up and said THANK YOU! It was much needed!

Well, fellow winter-bound friends, how much longer will this last? ! ha! Have a fabulous night!

Ephesians 2: 8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

The freedom of flying


My grandma is 96 years old. And she still knows my name, and everyone’s names, and tons of stories from her life. Seriously, she’s amazing. She loved adventure and didn’t take anything too seriously. She wasn’t afraid of change or just living outside the box. I like to think she’s lived this long because she found freedom by walking in ways others didn’t expect. She flew!  I think many people have had the dream of flying. I mean, without a plane, just free falling, then up again and around, over the rest of the world below us.

Great-Grandma, Max and Knox!

Great-Grandma, Max and Knox!

Kids love be in the air. It’s so effortless for us parents to give them flight. You lie on your back, put their tiny bellies on your feet and up they go, whirling around, arms spread wide. The smiles, the joy, the giggles are just pure freedom and letting go of all other thoughts their heads may have had. I think if I could really truly fly, any cares, any worries, any problems would dissipate and the grin on my face would be impossible to replicate apart from that moment.

I’ve been traveling this week and last, and telling our family’s story to new colleagues, acquaintances, business peers. We share who’s waiting at home for us and everyone always smiles when they hear about my babies. It’s been fun to visit with people who are amazed at the way God has orchestrated my life. And when I am provided these opportunities, I become amazed myself, again and again. I fly! These years have been so gloriously ruined.

As I sit here waiting to fly home to my family, I am thankful for the Safe Haven Law and those I told about it even just today. I’m thankful for my friends and family who have helped us through times which Jonas and I were completely unprepared to deal with on our own. I am thankful our wings held steady through it all and I think Knox’s birth mom would agree. She surely has had her own flying experiences, ups and downs. I think of her so often. I think of her smile. Is it his too? Or her hair. Does Knox carry her curls in his own beautiful locks? What made her laugh today?

Maybe we’ll both have questions we always carry for each other? I suppose so. Maybe that information will be one flying session that just doesn’t come to a close and maybe that’s okay too. I keep telling those I meet how wonderful she is, how I love her and love my story. I love my plane, my wings, my runways and the airports which have been the meeting places for it all. It’s freeing to fly. It’s freeing to accept your own flight path and know it’s uniquely yours.

So, wish me a safe flight as I go see the world from above. Thanks, Grandma, for always giving me the courage to venture out and experience something new. And tell someone you know about the Safe Haven law. Just keep talking …. It makes a difference. Thanks!

“Speak life” and the communication tricks of Irish twins..


This is starting to get tricky. My boys are just two peas in a pod, and as the school psychologist told me last week, “They’ve got a good thing going, and don’t want anyone interrupting.”

I’m a writer. I like to talk A LOT. I love to engage with others, and be a part of a problem-solving experience, or a deep emotional conversation. But I’m now stuck in my own problem and can’t talk my way out of this one: I have a 3-year-old who is incredibly smart, almost too smart for his own good.

Double trouble!

Double trouble!

He and his brother have formed an alliance and without even knowing, I’ve been kicked out of it. (I mean, I thought we were the Three Amigos. Guys? Hello? Guys?)

Watching them play and communicate is amusing and honestly, completely astonishing if you pay close enough attention. They direct each other, they discipline each other, they encourage each other, and are constantly in communication. Constantly.

Because of that, we are not. They are tricky and now I have to get Knox in some kind of “communication education.” The funny thing to me is that he communicates, and like his mom, is actually talking “a lot.” Just not in ways anyone but Maxwell understands. Good grief you two.. help a mom out here.

So, it is what it is. They are my highs and lows, my best and most challenging, my every day and every night. I love them, what’s the phrase? “To the moon and back.”

Especially with this situation and life in general, I’ve been feeling God’s peace and grace so much lately. I had resisted that still voice knowing Knox needed some help for quite a while. (Of all people, it was my unassuming brother who helped me through it. Love him!)

Anyway, my husband and I went to a concert this weekend. Christian artist TobyMac told the audiences the stories behind  a number of his songs, one of which was Speak Life. He said it comes from a quote in the book Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. Manning says that a person can either offer life or drain life with their words, nothing in between.

TobyMac at Appleton PAC

TobyMac at Appleton PAC


TobyMac said that idea stayed with him a long time, and after hearing him sing the song Friday night, wow, did it mean something else and resonate with me too. During the show, he explained how he used to believe most encounters were just meaningless, transactions, every day life. But, now it’s always an opportunity to speak life, to change a day, a heart, with one word.

I know there are many times I don’t speak life, and I get excited or anxious. I’ve prayed earnestly for that the last couple days, for the Holy Spirit to get to me before I speak.

But I’ve also realized that speaking life isn’t always being meek or mild. It may mean tough love, or a encouraging “get your butt in gear” from a friend. I’ve experienced both many, many times and now know I’ve been blessed to have been spoken life to for 35 years.

So, I hope that Knox starts to develop strong language skills and I know he’s so excited to start school. We’ll be doing the early childhood screening soon, right after the holidays. It’s a good thing, but most importantly, I want to teach him to speak life and God’s love. He is a child that has changed so many lives already, and I get goosebumps just thinking of how he’s spoken to us all, without a single word. He and Max are gifts. They have brought families together; they have warmed hearts and just yesterday, Knox sweetly offered his quarter to the lady checking us out at a local gift shop. Just because, without a verbal communication. A “Merry Christmas” and a speaking life gesture to her.

Here’s a link to TobyMac’s song if you’ve never heard it.

And after you listen, please pray for me and these tricky Irish twins I’ve got here! They just came in from helping Daddy and Grandpa shovel corn by the bins. As much as they won’t talk to me, they LOVE to work! God appreciate that too, guys. Keep it up!

That moment your child realizes he’s different


I was telling a friend this story and she said I had to share it, with my blog readers, but also to preserve the memory for myself. Enjoy! 

I guess I knew this day would come, but I wasn’t prepared and really, even glad for that too. The response was so much more genuine and memorable. Anyway, on with it:

Knox’s 5-year-old cousin looked at him this past Sunday morning after a fun sleepover and said: “Knox, why are you brown?”

He was sitting on my lap at that moment, and he immediately drew himself closer to me, lowered his head to the ground and wouldn’t look up. He ignored the question, became very sullen and didn’t want to play with the other kids, when right before she asked he had been running around screaming and creating chaos as usual.

She sat still and looked at him with concern. I asked if he was sad. “Yes.” Was he sad about what she said about him being brown? “Yes.” Was he sad he was different than the other kids? “Yes.”

Knox, his cousins, brother, mom and dad

Knox, his cousins, brother, mom and dad

And that was the moment. The exact moment, which I will remember as long as I live. He had been so indifferent and so had we. He’s our little baby, our family’s blessing, our Knoxie. But at almost three years old, he realized he didn’t look the same as the rest of his family. And what a miracle it was to share in that moment with him.

Oh, I think I did okay and explained to him how we loved him. “Remember how I tell you YOUR story, that you’re adopted?” Yes, he remembered that. I told him he was perfect and would always be our joy and fit in just perfectly.

Then I asked if he wanted to walk to Grandma’s with me to get some eggs.(I had five kids at the house and five eggs left in the carton.) I knew he would want to see her, his best friend in the world besides his brother Max.

I told her what happened and she smiled a sweet smile, rocked with him and as she softly spoke, I sat and listened, and cried quiet tears. Grandma told him how loved he was, how he was always going to be her special boy and that God created him to be just him and that everyone is different in their own, wonderful way. She told him God brought him to us and how lucky we all were. She said how fortunate he was to grow up on farm and how his parents were wonderful. She asked if he was happy? “Yes.” She asked if he knew we loved him? “Yes.” And they shared what I think she will remember as long as I do and even more than him, the day Knox had his “a-ha” moment.

When we got home, he ran and played again like nothing had happened, and smiled that beautiful, “I Love you Mommy” smile at me that melts me every time. Now, it gets me even more.

I remember wishing his Grandma Judy had been there, or that I could have called and told her. She had been so excited to share in this special adoption bond with her little Knox. Lord knows she would understand more than anyone, and I like to think she was with us then. I like to think she calmed his heart through our words, that she comforted him and made him feel special and loved.

I know as he begins to talk and learns more, additional questions will come, additional moments will arise. This, however, was so special. It was heartbreaking to see him so sad, so in realization that in that second, with one question, life had changed. It was so overwhelming in joy to see him find peace again, and realize that we WILL be his family forever, that his skin color does not define a darn thing.

I hope we did his biological mom proud that day. We all have those days when we feel different, not good enough or alone. It’s just human. So, I hope she smiled about something on Sunday, October 26, 2014. I hope she didn’t feel different, but instead loved by someone. I hope she felt the hugs we gave Knox, in indescribable affection for her son.

I like the verse below as a closer to this post, because we were very sad with no hope for a family and it was hard to see others grow theirs. Today, God has answered my prayers and given Jonas and I a sometimes very challenging road, but one I wouldn’t trade for anyone’s. My dearest friend gave me the most loving encouragement this week, of sharing life and joy. For that, I am thankful.

Thank you for reading and this week, tell someone about the Safe Haven Law.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.” – Proverbs 13: 12


Lessons from a toddler: Non-verbal communication


I recently returned from a long business trip overseas. While I figured my boys would forget I was gone within a minute, what I didn’t anticipate was the challenging weeks following my return.

My two-year-old could care less and is going about business as normal, but the nearly three-year-old is a different story. He is waking up my awareness to non-verbal communication in ways I’ve never thought of before. He’s scared, cries, clings, and then kicks and hits and hangs on my leg, my neck, my arm, well, there’s a lot of hugging going on. Let’s put it that way.


Anyone who knows the boys, will laugh with me at this pic. One is always telling the other what to do.

He’s not much of a talker. He and little brother team up against the adults to not speak to us, but then communicate with each other all day long. It’s their little game and they has established the rules without me. I’m still trying to figure them out, so prayers are appreciated on that front.

I think the Safe Haven law really gives moms a chance to establish some of their own rules too. It gives them the ultimate ability of non-verbal communication at a time, when like Knox, they are feeling scared, unsure and really wanting someone to make it all better, without having to explain why or how or when or what.

My kids are such miracles, but the blessing has been in all I’ve learned from them. Knox’s behavior really makes me think about how we all communicate non-verbally. I do often. I hang my head in embarrassment, walk away in frustration, fill my eyes with tears in sadness or worry, hug real tight in love and kiss for affection. It is the deepest relationship, the most personal form of communication.

Normally though, I am quick to speak and not always pay attention to how someone else is feeling by what they are showing in their face or actions. A three-year-old clinging to me has forced me to rethink that quite a bit since I have no choice but to respond immediately, and in a positive manner. I am very open with my feelings, but not always aware of others’ and I want to be. It’s so easy for me to show love to a child, but not an adult who may just be feeling the same way. And when I am scared, even I only want to be held and comforted just like Knox does today. Don’t we all?

Let’s just open our hearts to those moms who offer the most intimate love possible when they hand over a child and walk away. Let’s not ask why but respect this non-verbal communication. I know I don’t like being attacked when I am unsure and lower my face. No one wants to be kicked more when they are down.

These women are making the ultimate sacrifice for that tiny human, without saying a single word. Now I know not every exchange is completely silent, but the fact that they don’t HAVE to talk is special. It’s a gift.

I know Knox is really just finding his way and well, I’ll give him that gift. I’ll offer comfort and compassion, and pray the tantrums will pass soon. I’ll help him grow independence, but realize that independence does not mean insensitivity to his or others’ feelings. You know, many times the toughest people are the ones who are very authentic with themselves and their feelings, because they’ve given and lost much. His mom is one tough woman and she didn’t have to say a single word. She is brave and loving to the highest degree.

So, that’s today’s lesson from toddlers. No, it won’t be a new theme of my writing. (You can breathe a sigh of relief now.ha.)  I’ve missed writing this blog. It’s been a crazy summer, and I thank whoever’s reading this for just being here. Have a blessed day. :)


It takes one decision


My husband sent me roses today. They smell and look so beautiful! It’s our anniversary. Seven years of bliss. Okay, we all know it wasn’t total bliss. ha! To our credit, though, and God’s grace and mercy, we’ve made it this far. We have had highs and lows, but I like to think somewhere in the middle we flourish and sustain.

That said, I was thinking about this concept of “one decision” the other day.

A woman recently left a newborn baby one mile from a police station in Massachusetts. And now they’re gone; the mom disappeared into the crowd and a baby girl will be buried. That one mile boils down to a single decision she made — one decision that has changed a community and many lives.

I just stopped as I read the article and thought about the enormity of that. One mile.So many of us would have ran barefoot in any kind of weather to reach that child, to reach that mother and love them; it was just a mile. I’m not very fast, so many of you could have made it even faster than me! ((That’s a joke!))

It was a intentional, one decision we made to get married seven years ago. It wasn’t an easy one for us. Our marriage didn’t start with wine and roses as many do. We had to make a line in the sand and commit to each other.


At our reception, a few months after the wedding!

Each morning as I drop the kids off at the sitter’s, we say a prayer for our day before I take them into the house. Today, I prayed for our marriage, for our family and for that one decision that has brought these two children into our lives. I prayed they knew how much we loved them and in those valleys of marriage, when it’s just so hard, that they realize we will stay committed, for them and for us. We will honor each other and our vows. I prayed that in the days of prosperity and the times we look into each other’s eyes like we were 25 again, that the kids still will realize what it takes to have those happy moments and the commitment of that one decision.

And today I pray for this mother. I hope she forgives herself; I hope she knows God forgives her, but I also hope we can stop these one decisions from being such sad, desperate ones.

If you’ve ever made that one life-changing, horribly stressful, challenging decision, you get it. You know what it’s like to say, “jump” and know looking back is not an option. You know what it’s like to be broken and scared. You know what it’s like to have to put all your money on love and hope that God knows what the heck he’s doing, because you sure don’t.

No monumental decision is ever simple. If you truly love, it can’t be simple because you care for others as yourself.You know that family means taking risks and following God’s will, even when it’s not your own or what others think you should do. I like to think this mom just panicked, that she didn’t realize the implications. I don’t know. I do know we have the responsibility to keep talking and helping those like her make that one decision a wise choice. I hope someday this mom becomes the voice behind the Safe Haven movement, guiding other women who are in the middle of making the decision she did. We each have choices after all, and in a mere second, what decision we make can change the course of life as we know it.

Happy Anniversary Jonas. I can’t say it’s been what I expected, but I can say it’s been more than I could have dreamed. You and I have a lot to be proud of and when we look back on that one decision,  no matter the highs or lows of the day, I know it was the right one. I love you.

Colossians 3:14 “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”