Monday, December 31, 2012

The Help

For a Christmas grab bag I bought The Help along with popcorn stuff- my poor brother in law, Mat, chose the gift and we found out he really didn't like the movie. Matt of course asked him what the best line was- my brother-in-law just shrugged his shoulders. Matt was so enthused when he said "Eat my s$#!". I felt sorry that he was stuck with a movie he didn't like and I love the movie so I swapped him gifts. (Matt is my husband and Mat is my brother in law. Mat is married to Sara- to funny, right?)

As a family we sat down and watched the movie, again. If you haven't seen the movie I'd recommend it. So the movie is based in the 60's but as I was watching it I started thinking about my grandmother- while she grew up in the 1940's and 50's she had a black woman take care of her. (( I'm saying black woman because she was black, she wasn't African American-she wasn't from Africa. If this is wrong please correct me but I do not mean it in any negative way at all- it was the color of her skin)) My mind was racing to think of her name. My grandmother would light up when she was talking about the wonderful lady that cared for her!

I sent messages out to my mom, aunt and uncle asking if they remembered her name. I was pretty sure her name was Minnie but I didn't want to throw that out there- you know once someone mentions a name that's all you can think of, at least that's my problem. My aunt responded that she had a book of stories that my grandmother had written down!! What?!?!? How sweet is that!?

Last night we had our family Christmas party because it was postponed due to last week's blizzard. Anyways, my aunt brought this little book and I couldn't put it down!

I read the story of Minnie. Because everything had to be ironed my great grandmother hired help, Minnie. Minnie was born into a slave family in Alabama on a cotton farm. She would tell stories of helping her mom in the fields and stomping on and killing the insects that would destroy the cotton plants, with her bare feet at a very young age. Minnie got married and had a baby, her baby died shortly after birth. Minnie decided she wanted to move to Iowa- she thought moving North would mean a better life. Her husband didn't want to move, so she traveled by herself.

My grandma said Minnie would take care of her, as well as iron. My grandmother wrote about going to Minnie's home- which was in a segregated part of Des Moines. She said it was then that she realized that Minnie spoke differently around her friends than she did while working. They went to a tent revival with shouting, praising and a few people fainting. Grandma Sue seemed to adore Minnie. My grandmother said she kept in contact with Minnie until her 3rd child was born.

Reading more of my grandmother's stories reminded me of how different the world was 70 years ago! My grandmother spoke of a wonderful party she was invited to- she wore a beautiful silver gown, a coin purse with money for a cab, and "a pound of her mother's make up". She rode in the cab all be herself- at the age of 8! It's crazy how things change in such a short time.

 I'm glad we don't have slavery around, at least in the U.S., at least of the type of slavery we had back then. Now I pray for those in slavery around the world. Those in bondage everywhere. The sexual slavery going on today breaks my heart.

Well, there you go. I wanted this written down for future reference. I need to keep track of these wonderful history lessons. I wish I had grandparents around to ask more about their lives. Life was so different!

The End of 2012

2012 in Review

The first 7 months of 2012 were spent in Miami, Florida- caring for the most amazing kids alongside the most amazing women (as well as a few stellar men- and of course my most amazing hubby)! I remember the kids begging to stay up late last year for New Years Eve- NO WAY- I can no longer make it til midnight! 

Last January we spent 2 weeks in Iowa and the weather was nice- I remember walking around Pella in jeans and a sweater! Taylor and I didn't miss our annual date to winter jam- Thank God for working that out! We look forward to that every year! The closest Winter Jam to us in Florida was a 4 hour drive! Taylor stayed in Iowa when we headed back south- She was going on another vacation with her grandma Cindy! They hit up Mardi Gras on their way South!

February 2012 was a fun month! We actually had visitors!!!!!!!!! I was thrilled! Taylor had her braces taken off right before our visitors arrived & Matt and Taylor even kept it a secret from me that they were taking them off that day! Valentines Day was spent with Cassie, Kevin, Madisyn, and Tyson Barr (My sister-in-law and her family) in Bonita Springs. We had a great time at the beach and then eating at The Fish House! On the 15th one of the sweet girls in our home turned 5! On the 22nd my mom, brother and sister-in-law arrived for a week long visit! We hit up several different beaches and eateries around the Miami area. We stayed in a rental house over the weekend, where we danced our hearts out on the x-box:) Family time is so good for the soul!

March- We spent Spring Break at Word of Life camp in Shady Hills, Florida with most of the kids off campus that were 6 and older. My cabin had 11 girls and myself- it was a blast! So many fun memories! Kids did crafts, a zipline, swimming, silly songs and most of my 11 had their hair french braided one day! Once we were back in Miami we went over to Marco Island to spend a day with Eric, Jess and the Witt clan:) And a happy and sad note we said good bye to Jeramiah, a 2 year old we had cared for the past year. His grandparents adopted him and his brother- they now live in New Jersey. He will one day be in the NBA!

April- spending my 2nd birthday out of Iowa (who knew having a birthday away from family would be so difficult?).The 2nd Trinity of the house celebrated her 10th birthday. I was able to celebrate 2 wonderful women's birthdays this month: Sabine and Nikki! These ladies feel like family now and I miss them! The day after my birthday the organization we worked for tried moving in a teenager coming from psych ward into our home with 14 other children- I went mama bear crazy on a few people and apologized later for my attitude but not for sticking up for the rights of the children.

May- again we were back in Iowa and I was REALLY wanting to move back! I was able to help the Colyer's move into their new home, take the girls to Reiman Gardens with friends and run 2 5k races. We had a blast! While us girls were in Iowa Matt was caring for 3 new children, 3 children that didn't speak a word of English and were always allowed to behave as crazy as they wished! By the time we got back to Florida the kids behavior had improved dramatically and I hadn't been told we had new children until I got home!

June- we had 2 more kids go home! This was a happy reunion:) Our girls took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in Florida and they thought that was funny. One of our kids was checked into the mental hospital for help. Summer camp started- which always brought sweet volunteers from all over the U.S.! We would have several young ladies join us for dinner daily. For our wedding anniversary the 4 of us went to eat at Serendipity- of course we had to try the frozen hot chocolate-YUM! 

July- we found out God was moving us back to Iowa! Telling the kids was so difficult but again God is so good! God gave comforting scripture for all of us. On July 27th we packed up a Penske truck, said good bye and headed north.

August/September- We were blessed to stay at Matt's mom's home until we finalized the purchase of our home. We kept busy buying household goods from Craigslist. On Sept 27th we closed on our new home, I cleaned all day and then spoke at the Agape pregnancy center's banquet that night.

October- walking in the Race for the Cure with my mom (a cancer survivor) was a highlight! 

November- Taylor turned 14 and got her permit! I attended my first Hearts at Home conference and had a great time with the ladies from our church. With Ethos (young adults group at church) we traveled to Chicago to pack Boxes of Love (thanksgiving dinner food) and deliver them to families in need. 1/2 the group helped a lady move:) Thanksgiving morning was spent at Hope ministries- the rest of the day with family.

December- Trinity's 11th Birthday, Christmas celebrations and missing those amazing kids and wonderful women back in Miami!

Our year in review. My one word for 2013 is Faith- I'll post more about that later:) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I've thought a lot about babies lately. There are different reactions for everyone to an announcement of an expected arival. Mostly we all get excited about a new little one's expected arrival. There are times when a woman finds out she is expecting and the initial reaction is not excitement or joy.

I am SO excited to be attending the banquet for Agape Pregnancy Center on September 27th! These amazing women that work there get to help women and men deal with all the emotions associated with the brand new news that they are expecting and help them wade through all those feelings and thoughts racing through their minds. Agape goes over in detail ALL options and their pros and cons. They do it all in a biblical context, which I LOVE!

If you or someone you know has been looking for a biblically sound place in Des Moines to donate your time, talent or money to I'd HIGHLY recommend Agape. If you would like more information on Agape I would love to have you attend the banquet with me to learn more, or I'd love to do coffee and talk more.

This place has already touched so many lives and I can't wait to see what God has in store for the years to come!

Time flies

Almost 7 weeks have gone by since we moved back to Iowa! In 16 days we move into our new home, God willing. My heart has been the heaviest it's ever been this past 7 weeks. We've had the amazing privilege of working with children going through astounding things, things no person- especially children, should go through! My hearts cries out to God to comfort ALL the children of the world that are going through such difficult times.

Children fighting cancer. Children left with no one to care for them. Children beat. Children used as sex slaves. Children that see/hear things they should never, ever witness. Children torn from their families. Children forced to work very hard jobs with little to no food and sleep. Children pulled from their homes by the LRA and forced to kill family members and friends, to carry soldiers supplies while not getting the basics needed to survive themselves. Children left to find food in dumpsters or landfills. Children that desperately want to know they are loved but find confirmation lacking. The list goes on and on.

Lord, show us how we can help.

7 weeks ago we left 11 children and 5 amazing women at House 23. Since then 2 of the kids moved home with extended family: the newborn went to live with grandparents, our tenacious 5 year old turning 6 moved with an auntie after living at His House for almost 3 years! All the children's stories are written on my heart and  I pray God continues to work amazing things out in their little lives.

I yearn everyday to see these precious little ones and catch up with the AMAZING 5 that are caring for them! Now they have 14 children they are caring for!! Please join me in prayer that those 5 continue to be strengthened to do the job God has set before them.

As my heart has been extremely heavy it has also been rejoicing. I rejoice in knowing I'm right where God wants me to be, that I'm surrounded by awesome family & friends. I spend Sunday mornings with tears streaming down my face because I'm so overwhelmed by Our Amazing God! God is working in the lives of everyone- it's evident when we stop and look for it.

Please join me in prayer for the children of the world.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Family, Friends and Food! These are my passions. #1 Love God and #2 Love others & I'd like to add enjoy good food while loving on others:)

Here's our families list of good food spots in central Iowa. I'm sure there are a ton of other places as well but these are our favorites. We tend to prefer local places instead of chains, most of the time. Please let us know what your favorites are.

Adong (Vietnamese food) located on 5th and High
Pho (soup- we typically order chx or beef) (when we get sick we want chx pho-it's amazing) add sprouts, hot sauce, lime and yum.
Egg rolls-yum and Shrimp Spring Rolls (rice paper- not fried spring rolls)
Lemon grass chicken (I believe its #59)
7C is a delicious vegetarian dish

Centro   downtown
Centro salad! Pizza is good, any bread they serve is delicious! Our kids like the kids Alfredo. The Kill Bill is Matt's go to dish here (It could serve 3 people) it's served with portabello fries- these are AMAZING and served with a delicious dipping sauce.

South Union Bakery (next door to Centro, only open for lunch, owned by the same guy)
Any sandwich. The bread is GOOD

Nut Pob (Thai Food) South side
Chicken Laap (diced chicken with jalapeno's and cilantro)
Good egg rolls, spring rolls and crab rangoon
Also popular here are papaya salad (I don't like papaya) and Angry fish

Manhattan Deli    On Ingersoll
This place is delicious!  Order any sandwich! The Manhattan is amazing. Great prices and I usually split the sandwich with someone although theres no need to with these great prices. (My favorite deli- sadly I just found out about it several months ago while I was back in January but it's been around a long time)

Smokey Row Coffee Shop
Great atmosphere! Good coffee, tea, shakes, desserts... They even have games set out so you can hang around and play.

Ohana's   Valley West area
dinner and a show. Scallops, steak and chicken are all delicious. The sauce served on the scallops is scrumptious.

Georgio'z in Colfax
Our all time favorite pizza! Supreme is Matt's favorite (it might be called something other than supreme though) The girls and I like a pizza that has skinny in the name- it has chicken, tomato and feta on it- YUM! Cute place too.

Smoky D's BBQ right off of 80
The nacho platter, you choose what bbq meat you top it with, is enough to feed a large family. Their sandwiches are good- I'm partial to the turkey. Matt loves their mac and cheese side. The ribs are good. We would go there after church and get a large sandwich and one kid meal and it would feed us all!

Latin King   east side but fine dining
Chicken Spidini! Get either the Chicken Spidini Salad or Dinner. The dinner comes with a side of pasta:)

Green Briar  Johnston
fancy atmosphere. Matt loves the gun powder crust prime rib, says it's the best prime rib ever.

Van Dee's Ice Cream  Johnston
Cutest little ice cream stand with great ice cream- different flavor every week!

Cactus Bob's BBQ (next door to Van Dee's Ice cream stand)
Just about everything on their menu is good. Again, I'm partial to the turkey sandwich.

Nick N Willy's   Jordan Creek area
good pizza

Bravo   Jordan Creek
This is a chain but their food is good! I'm a sucker for a good salad. Pasta, fish, bread and salad are good here.

PF Changs  Jordan Creek
Again, another chain but you can't go wrong with Chicken lettuce wraps and the Great Wall of Chocolate.

Noodles in Valley West Mall
While we're on chains I'll add Noodles. My brother had us eat here in Colorado several years ago, we were hoping one would come to dsm. We moved away and Noodles moved into Dsm.

El Chisme   Valley Junction
I think everything here is good. Mexican food plus pizza and stellar calzones. Sauces are amazing.

Chef's kitchen
I love the kids cheeseburger, and yes they will allow adults to order the kids burger (at least they did).
Be sure to get a cookie from the cookie jar on the bar before they're gone!

Flying Mango
Good BBQ but I think the restaurant is a little cramped. Worth it though.

Nick's by Valley West Mall
Consistently good food

Goldies in Prairie City
Voted Best Tenderloin in Iowa. It's a cute small town dive.

CJ's bagels in Ankeny
Berry bagel and cream cheese frosting! My mom bought me a dozen of these the day I had Trinity and brought them to me at the hospital. I have such a sweet mom!

The Radish in Grimes
YUM! Matt and I have only ordered a few dishes here- once we had them we had to get them the next time! The lasagna-served with both red sauce and alfredo sauce-AMAZING!
My favorite: The almond encrusted Chicken Finger Salad with Honey mustard and Ranch (both homemade) on the side. YUM! Wish I was in Iowa right now to go get dinner. GREAT DATE SPOT!

I'm sure I'm leaving out some amazing places but here's the list Suzanne:)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sense of Humor

I'm frequently asked what brought us to Miami, my initial response: God has a sense of humor! I've known since the time I was 15 that I would like to work with kids coming from not-so-great  situations. Before we were married Matt and I agreed that we would eventually (in God's timing) love to do SOMETHING to help children coming from various backgrounds. We even decided we were done having our own children to save room for our future children, ones we knew God was saving for our family.

After almost 15 years of having this desire on my heart  I was starting to question how God would want to use us, if he truly still wanted to use us. After laying it all out in earnest prayer God then started flinging open doors so that we would move to Miami and care for many of his beautiful children! I wish I would have kept better track of all the children we've been blessed to care for! From what I do remember we have been blessed to care for more than 25 children in our home here. From the tiny newborn baby addicted to drugs to the 10 year old...... God has shown me to expect the unexpected.

While I always wanted to help kids I always thought it'd be through adoption. I always thought foster care would be too difficult on my heart. I couldn't imagine pouring myself into a child then having them go to another home/ back to a parent. I love these kids SO much!

Here's 2 of the most painful stories so far: After loving on and caring for the most difficult 4 year old I've ever met we saw improvements in behavior, a birthday and pure joy come from this sweet child! We were shocked to find out he would be going back with his family (from the information we had it looked like he'd be going up for adoption soon). I loved this little guy so much! For 8 months I was able to love on him,  now I trust that God is watching over him and reminding him what it means to be a gentleman.

For an entire year we were blessed to care for a 1 year old little guy! He turned 2 in our care and was all boy! He's going to be an NBA star someday, he thinks he already is:) God placed his grandparents in the picture to care for him and his older brother. After fighting for a year to be able to take their 2 grandsons they were able to get them just before Easter! We didn't have the pleasure to care for his brother but I hear he's just as sweet as our guy but had been through so much he needed very high level therapeutic care.  God answers prayers!!!! Just before the grandparents came to pick up the boys the 4 year old learned how to walk!!!!! HUGE milestone for this little one! God answers our prayers!!!!!!!!!

So God has yet to do what I expect but SO much more. I've lived through many kids moving on to where God wants them next. I'm learning to be a little more flexible (I'm slow).

Life Lessons:  (This is where God gets to show off his sense of humor while teaching me to grow)
  • Try to be Patient (I'm so not patient) 
  • Be slow to speak (I've found very nice people here and some NOT so nice people-sometimes I need to bite my tongue instead of giving a piece of my mind)
  • Be slow to anger (When people are more than an hour late or just mistreat others for no reason I tend to get REALLY upset at how inconsiderate they are- I'm slowly learning to let things roll off my back...........slowly)
God has given me talents-I've just always taken them for granted. I've always felt like I received the short of the stick when it comes to talents. Living here has taught me that Loving on people through cooking is a God given talent! In Iowa it seems everyone knows how to cook. Here, I seem to have a talent.

Well that was one long post. Thanks for hanging in there til the end. Perseverance! May God bless you with His sense of Humor and allow you to laugh today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


God is teaching me so many lessons lately (well, always but they seem to be sinking in more lately)

Here's the verse that started this process 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner........ okay the verse goes on but I'm gonna stop right there for a minute. I use to have a really hard time being called the weaker sex! Weak? I was a single mom, went to school full time, worked full time and tried to make good decisions, weak? I felt pretty strong! Well, I'm pretty sure God wasn't talking about weak in the sense I was thinking. (His ways are higher than ours - not always something I can wrap my brain around)

These past few months have given me a glimpse at what I believe God was talking about when he called wives the weaker partner. I am emotional! If left to myself I will make some stupid decisions based on my emotions- NOT a good idea, I know but nonetheless what I would do. My sweet, smart husband grounds me (in the sense of being logical when I'm being emotional). He follows the command to treat me with respect by not telling me I'm being stupid but lovingly just listens to me and my feelings. I'm blessed beyond belief to have a husband that follows God's commands.

Back to our verse.....Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

God made us both in His image, He also made women last- you save the best for last, right!?!? :) God made us all wonderful. I thank God for my logical husband who leads our family with honesty and integrity. May you be blessed today, whatever life has for you today.

oh yeah, another thing God has taught me is that the "weaker" sex needs to be taken care of. Not that we can't care for ourselves but what woman doesn't enjoy their husband pampering and caring for them? What a bonus to be "weaker".

To end my nutty post for the day is a quote from our morning: After serving peanut butter toast one of the 5 year olds says "There's nuts in peanut butter?" She was very excited and yet surprised by this realization. so cute. kinda like my response to be the weaker sex. Have a blessed day

Wednesday, March 21, 2012



Once in awhile I'm reminded of all the blessings that I have that I take for granted. We are SO blessed! We have our health, our sanity, beds to sleep in, blankets to keep us warm, air conditioning and when we need it, heat. I have a loving husband, wonderful children, food, friends, family..........the list just goes on and on!
Most of all I have a loving God who cares for me!

thousands, maybe millions of children are living in slavery, extreme poverty, or extreme circumstances- beyond anything I could ever fathom. I'm overwhelmed at the thought of the need that is out there. I'm reminded of the starfish story (if you haven't heard it google it), I'm supposed to help one child at a time. I trust that God brings us the children that we can help and in turn they bring such joy to our home. Seeing these children bloom and learn is an amazing thing to watch! Lord, what else would you like to do through me? I'm open, willing and ready!

God has taught me over the years that trying to be a blessing to others ALWAYS turns into us being blessed! God is AMAZING the way he works this out! Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured in your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  I feel like it's so unfair, I'm blessed beyond what I should be!

This post is for me to always remember to be thankful, for me to also remember those that need our help. What are ways you can think of for us to help ALL these children in need?

Friday, March 9, 2012


As I was getting ready to write this (or trying to figure it out, like I said I'm a technological IDIOT) we had  unexpected visitors. Sabine and I were so happy to have 2 boys that left last month stop by to say hi! Great way to brighten the spirits, to see that the kids are doing well. To keep communication with the kids as they leave is really important to me, if it's possible. This momma seems to be doing a good job with her 4 sweeties!

And onto daily communication. I give A's to a few people around here for truly being wonderful with communication. If you have good communication in your life be thankful, it's vital.

A big barrier to communication for me is the language barrier. I had a very nice Cuban man trying to give me information in English, vital information. This man was telling me where to take 2 small boys for day care. I could not understand him so after he'd say it several times I'd write down what I thought he was trying to say and he'd nod as if I was correct. So I wrote down Wall Grubb Learning Center, the man nodded. Well, there's no such thing as Wall Grubb! hmmm...... Praise the Lord that he always helps us when we are in need! While getting the clothes out for the boys I found that the 2 year old had a uniform, with the name of the day care on it! Hallalujah! Wall Grubb?? World to Grow. The sweet man was trying to say World to Grow!

Since I try to keep parents as up to date as possible I wanted this man to know his kids were okay after he left them in our care but I didn't dare call, thought texting might be a little easier on both of us:) Happy Day, the boys are back with their Poppy after 24 hours with us.

Am I saying I'm typically great at communication, no way. Just saying I've seen a dramatic increase in my frustrations with communication over this past year. Actually Matt and I had our first mis-communication about dinner this week. I was sick and I was sure he said he'd make dinner, he thought I was making part of the dinner-I wasn't. First dinner miscommunication betewen the 2 of us for the year:)

Happy Communication............

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blast from the past

My sweet boy that left almost 4 months ago used to ask me to sing to him at bed time. Every night I would sing to him and he would laugh hysterically at me. This little man was my tough guy...... a tough guy with a huge heart! That sweet boy will forever have a piece of my heart. And that sweet giggle will be etched in my mind.

From the beginning. In March of 2011 my family moved from Iowa to South Florida to care for sweet kids while they are in the foster care system. When we arrived we had 12 kids in our home. Today we have 5 of those original 12. We have been so blessed to be able to be a part of these little ones lives.

Amazing people and crazy people here in South Florida!  We are blessed to work with some amazing women! We see them as family and they bring joy to our home.

Common sense. Common sense is fairly common in Iowa, not so much here in South Florida. Example: today I had someone knock on my door and ask for a child that was in school. She had her sister, that she picked up from school- the SAME school that her sister attends. When asked why she didn't pick them BOTH up, like usual, she didn't really have a response except one of us would have to go get the other child from the school she was JUST at. I would like to say this kind of stuff is rare but sadly it's a daily thing.

Communication. I've always had good communication with people, at least I think I have. After coming here I questioned whether I had ANY communication skills! But after talking to others I found I wasn't the only one having these troubles. Well I was called a gossip for asking if others were having trouble with communication. I'm trying to deal with this with a good attitude, a positive attitude. Being positive doesn't come naturally to me.

Communication. Have you ever had a school communicate to you the night before a concert on what to have the children wear? yeah, that was new to me.  oh but wait, they call the morning of the concert and tell you to not wear what they said last night! To wear the exact opposite. Confusing!

Overall our home runs amazingly smooth, with amazing little ones learning, growing and amazing us.  I would like to use this blog to document the funny, smart and wonderful things that the kids say and do. Seeing the kids have light bulb moments have been so worth all the craziness that goes on outside of our home.

We appreciate your prayers, there are many things we need prayer for that will never be published but we serve an amazing God that uses all things for His glory!