Our Family

Our Family

Monday, September 18, 2017

A mama's heart...



Tonight while daddy was at soccer practice with Greyson, I was home with the littles and we had done homework, gone for a swim, had dinner and were just picking up a few things around the house. London had gotten out some pictures of some of our trips to Haiti out and they were on a table in my bedroom. Sam was looking through them and found a picture of him and London with their Haiti mommy. He brought the picture to me and said "Was I in her tummy?' I told him yes and he said "Was London in her tummy too?" I told him yes to that as well and he just sat and looked at the picture. I watched him study the picture for a few minutes and then he got  up and ran off to play. That moment struck me tonight. I have the honor of raising that woman's son and daughter. She has never met me and I have never met her. We speak two different languages. We have very different lives but yet we share a love for two children. She carried them for 9 months and raised them for just a few years and I get to see them grow up. I get to watch London do her cheerleading and Sam as he takes apart every remote control we have just to put it right back together. Tonight as I stared at her picture I thought about her. Does she think about them every single day? Does she wonder about the people they are becoming? Does she think about me and what kind of mother I am to them? I can't even begin to understand what it was like for her to make the ultimate sacrifice for them. She loved them so much that she wanted a better life for them. I'm so thankful that God has woven our hearts together over these two kids.
They have her eyes and my last name. There is both joy and sadness in that. So tonight, I think about and pray for "B",  my children's first mother. I pray that God touches her heart and protects her. I pray that she knows that I love them enough for both of us.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Remembering my Papa



Today marks one year that my  sweet papa left this world and entered his eternal home in Heaven. He saw a lot in his 91 years. He loved with every fiber of his being. He was always the first to help someone, was a die hard FDR Democrat ,a patriot, a friend and quite possibly the most wonderful human being you could ever know. 

One of the coolest things about having your grandparents into your own adulthood is that you really get to know who they are and appreciate the relationship. Papa used to come and stay with us and our days centered around what and where we were going to eat. He enjoyed a good card game of Rummy, a fishing trip and always cake and cookies. He lived 20 years without his soulmate, my nanny but I bet the year he's been able to be reunited with her has only seemed like a moment. Sometimes I try to envision what Heaven must be like for him. The perfect love, peace and healing that he feels. Although I still miss him as much today I'm so happy that he made the decision when I was a baby to follow Christ which ensures that I will be with him again. 

I will strive everyday to make sure to be someone that he would be proud of. I'd give anything for one more hug or phone call. I pray I made him proud while he was here. I pray I can love like he loved. 

I love you papa. I hope the crappie are biting. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When one journey ends a new one begins....

For years, I have dreamed about the moment I could write this blog. The one where I get to tell you that all 7 of my children are under one roof! London and Sam became US citizens on November 8. We have been home for 6 weeks and it still amazes me that they are here. It is a MIRACLE that they are here. So many of you have prayed and supported us for the last 4 years and 7 months and we are forever grateful to you.

So many firsts have occurred in the last 6 weeks. The first airplane ride, first bedroom, first roller coaster (they were not thrilled, but this week when we went again they LOVED it!) So many new experiences. Going to the grocery store, snow, (even though it wasn't much), first time performing in a Christmas play and they have done so well. Every day has had its own set of challenges. We take each day moment by moment. There have been days that I have wondered "what in the world have we done?" and days that I have said "How did we ever live without them?"

London and Sam have been our daughter and son since they were 3 and 18 months old. Every step of the adoption process was horrendous, but God was faithful every single step of the way. If we ever thought of giving up, He always gave us HOPE. He guided us and those moments that we couldn't take any more He would always show up. I don't know why it had to take so long or why we had to spend so much money but what I do know is that His promise was fulfilled. The dream that He gave me in my heart 13 years ago was birthed into fruition right before my eyes and I'm so thankful we didn't give up. Every day London and Sam learn to trust us a little more and learn how to be a part of a family. Not every day is rosy.

There are way too many people for us to mention that have helped us in this journey but it would be wrong of me not to mention Frentz and Mallery Neptune and Haiti Foundation Against Poverty.
www.haitipoverty.org
They took our kids in for what was supposed to be 3 months and ended up being over 2 years. They nurtured them, loved them and helped them heal. They provided a home for them, taught them English and told them about Jesus. Mallery and Frentz are a part of our family now. We love them and their heart for Haiti.

This journey hasn't really ended but in fact has just begun. We now walk through uncharted waters and figure out how to be the best parents that we can and help these kids become all that God has for them. We don't have the answers but are so thankful that our Savior does. 2016 really was the year of the Haitian baby!!!



Friday, September 9, 2016

Confessions of a Pastors Wife...

Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this blog are solely mine. I in no way can speak for every pastors wife, only myself and my experiences. I LOVE ministry. I love people. I love trying my best to be what Jesus wants me to be but I fail and sometimes I fail miserably! So keep that in mind if you read past this disclaimer. I'm human. I'm a mom. I have faults... so many faults. But I wouldn't trade one second of my life for anything else. 



I have worked alongside my husband in full-time ministry for over 20 years now. Yes, that must mean I was a tiny child when I got married. :) When I think back over those years of all the things we have been involved in it is actually surreal to think about. Starting out as children's pastors and swearing we would never have children of our own... Hello 7 kids later... youth ministry, associate, starting an inner city church with nothing but our savings,  General Superintendent of a denomination, lead pastoring, and our most recent venture (which we are SO EXCITED about). That's a whole lot of stuff! Along with all of that stuff has been thousands of people that we have had the opportunity to love on and serve in some capacity. Many have become like family to us.  We've packed up and moved our family across the country and back again just praying that it was indeed what God wanted for us and that we weren't causing permanent damage to our kids making them transition...again.  

I think about when we first got married and thought we knew everything about everything in ministry.  When in fact, we didn't know anything at all. Each move we have made has taught us a little bit more. We have loved, we have been angry, we have been hurt, and we have loved some more. For my husband its a bit easier. He's one of those people that "turns the other cheek" really well. Me? its more of a struggle for me. (brutal honesty here) There have been times when I didn't even want to go to church. There are times when I walked in the door of a church and felt extremely alone. There are times I've been mad but put a smile on my face so no one would know. There are times that I have sobbed in the office before going out to worship. There have been times that I have held the hand and cried with a mama who was having to bury her baby. I've tried my best to give good advice when asked and I've often worried about what my place should be and if I would make someone mad by offering to do something in the church.  

Being a pastors wife is a weird job to have. You're technically not hired to do anything but there are certain expectations of you and those expectations change... a lot. Sometimes you don't even know what those expectations are but you try and navigate the waters and not ripple them too much. It can be a state of constant uncertainty. 

It may sound like I'm being negative about being a pastors wife but I assure you that's not the case at all! Its an honor to be married to a man that you get to stand beside and support as he tells the ultimate truth to people day after day. I am his biggest supporter and cheerleader and I pray for him to have peace and rest and say the words that God would have him to say. I pray that his heart is protected from hurtful words that someone might say and I pray that he can be all that God wants him to be. It is an absolute honor to share in the lives of so many people and be entrusted with their hearts. My biggest prayer has always been that I would never be the source of someones hurt. I know I have not always held to that, and for that I am sorry. I guess what I would want someone to hear is that grace is such a gift to a pastors wife or to anyone really.  You have no idea what a call or a text means to her or a hug to say, "I know you're human and I get it!" Or that it's ok to be sad or mad sometimes. To my fellow pastors wives, hang in there. Our village loves us deeply and most would walk through fire for us and we know we would do the same for them. What an amazing gift it is to love and be loved! Life is a gift and what joy it is to walk through it with friends. So make lots of them! Don't hide out in the office until 5 minutes after worship starts (It's ok... I've done it... a lot!) Put on that smile and mean it! We get to share the love of Jesus every single day and that my friend, is what it's all about!!!


xoxoxox  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

An update on our circus!

"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps" 
Proverbs 16:9
 A dear sweet friend sent me this verse in a text this morning. It was a reminder of God's sovereignty and that His timing is perfect. All I have to do is sit back and trust. So many times in my life, I have rushed things, tried to work them out on my own and the end result of that is always the same. I may get to the destination God wanted me to get to, but it may have taken me all the way around the mountain to get there. 

This week marks 4 years since Kelly and I stepped off of a plane in Haiti for the first time. A seed was planted in our heart that has grown and grown. Two beautiful children became ours and a plan for our lives was put into place. The last 4 years have been filled with every emotion imaginable. As far as where we are in the adoption process, we are awaiting word this week that our file is being signed by a judge who has done nothing but cause us issues for the past 8 months. A process that should have been simple (that seems to be an oxymoron with anything dealing with Haiti adoptions) has been filled with heartache, money, and learning to "be still" all over again. Kelly was able to spend a few days with London and Sam a couple of weeks ago and it was much needed on their part and ours. We are so ready for them to be here with us, but until then we will rest in His presence and remember that He is establishing our steps. His ways are perfect. 


As far as the other members of our circus, everyone is doing great! Staying busy with end of the year activities at school, soccer and church. Kelcie is enjoying another season of Varsity soccer as a Lady Jag. She has been involved in Teen View magazine and has a special friend in her life. I can't believe the amazing young lady that she has become. We are so proud of her. Greyson is his fathers son! His current obsession is photography (which has followed prescription sunglasses, a hoverboard and of course being the greatest owner to Jake the aussie dog) He is playing soccer and researching "best jobs you don't have to go to college for" He makes me laugh all of the time! Conner... those of you that know Conner probably just smile when you read his name. He is the wittiest kid ever. He spent his birthday money on a hamster that he named Elvis Felix Ward and spends his time updating Felix's instagram account (#thathamsterelvis I promise you won't be disappointed!) Carrson is finishing up his kindergarten year. He is so smart. Loves math and soccer and we have learned the hard way that we can't spell things in front of him that we don't want him to know! Mayah Grace is still the princess of the house! She is a great pretender and loves her My Little Ponies. We are so blessed with these kiddos. 
For Spring Break we took a much needed vacation with some great friends. We went on a 5 day cruise to Mexico. We had such an amazing time being together and eating way too much food. We laughed so much and just enjoyed the time to regroup! I can't wait for summer and the memories we will make!



In this past year I have had to say goodbye to my last two grandparents. Last June, we were shocked and saddened when the Lord called my Grandma Elaine home. She was vivacious and beautiful and had the best laugh you could ever hear.  I would joke with her and tell her she didn't know how old she was. Always dressed so well and was loved by everyone. I can imagine her singing with my Grandpa George again. 


In February, my sweet 91 year old papa left this world and joined his Savior and my nanny in Heaven. I still struggle with losing him. I loved him more than anything in this world and even though I knew his time could be close nothing prepared me for it. There are days I still forget he's gone. The bond that I had with him was indescribable. I can still hear his voice and see him putting his hands in his face and laughing. So many memories of him flood my mind every day. I'm thankful that the next time that I see both of them that we will never have to part again. I have no idea how people make it through losing someone without a faith in Jesus Christ. Its the only thing that carries me!

Thank you all so much for keeping up with our family and your prayers and support. God is faithful and just and we can't wait to see the doors He opens for us!






Monday, November 2, 2015

Family Life is the Best Life....

Its so easy to get swept up in the busyness of life that you forget to stop and just take everything in. Tonight as my not so little family sat around our dinner table eating tacos, I just sat back and looked at all of my kids. Each has their own personality and yet all share a common bond. They are growing and changing so much and are really such amazing little people. They are world changers. They are going to make a difference. They ARE making a difference. My kids make me want to be a better person and work harder. I love seeing the world through their eyes. Tonight I loved laughing with them and sharing just sweet moments with them. I sure feel blessed to be entrusted with them. I don't deserve such goodness.

We had such a fun summer and beginning of fall! The 3 boys have enjoyed playing soccer and we have enjoyed watching them. Carrson scored 18 goals last weekend. Granted, there are only 3 kids on his team and one sweet little boy sits in the grass most of the time, but he's still our superstar. Kelcie is playing Varsity soccer for the high school but her season doesn't start until spring. She has enjoyed working for a local teen magazine and is so talented. She is starting to drive and I can't believe my tiny baby girl is this old. She went to two homecoming dances and looked absolutely breathtaking. Mayah is enjoying learning and playing with Mrs. Sharon everyday. She's such a God send to us and loves Mayah so much. We are blessed.

I started teaching again this fall. I have some great students and I really enjoy being back in the classroom. 8th graders are so funny. You just never know! We absolutely love our church and our town. It feels like home to us and we love living life here.

So adoption updates... If you have been around this circus for very long you know that it has been one crazy roller coaster. We finally made it to the very end... Visa... kids coming home.... and you guessed it.... Haiti required something else. When the adoption laws changed in Haiti, we were grandfathered in under the old law. When US immigration started going through our file to issue the visa, they asked for clarification and with all of that our family along with hundreds of others are having to add the word "plenary" to our paperwork. Thousands of children have been adopted from Haiti without this word on their paperwork, but we have learned that when Haiti says jump, we jump. London and Sam are worth every single bit of it. Our attorney is really great and is working so hard to get it all done. We do not have a timeframe yet but what we have learned over the last 4 years is that if Haiti gives you a timeline, ignore it completely. One of my dearest friends, Jordan, sent me a bracelet last week. It says "Faith in God includes Faith in His Timing". No truer words have ever been spoken. I am sad that the kids aren't home yet but I am at complete peace that they are coming home and all of this heartache from waiting will be a distant memory. I so look forward to the day that all 7 of my kids are under the same roof!

God is so awesome and our adoption plus plane tickets are 100% funded. I can't believe I can even type that. The amount that we have had to pay throughout all of this is mind boggling and I can't even believe myself that its paid for. The only expense we have right now is the kids monthly care fees at $600 per month. We are planning one more auction that will take place in a couple of weeks so be on the lookout. Those are always so much fun! We also have a gofundme account set up if you are interested in helping out with their care fees. https://www.gofundme.com/5x45wk We are blessed that they are in such a wonderful place filled with love. You can check out the work that this organization does at www.haitipoverty.org
They are amazing!

I will leave you with some pictures of my beautiful tribe. So blessed to be their mama.
Much love to you all!!
xoxo






Saturday, July 11, 2015

2015 really IS the year of the Haitian Baby!!!!

Since 2012 we have said "This is the year of the Haitian baby" meaning that this would be the year we would bring London and Sam home from Haiti. Some of those years it was speaking out of PURE FAITH, but now, 2015, we can say with assurance that this IS the year of the Haitian baby!!! We know that ANYTHING can happen in Haiti but our file has been submitted to the US Embassy in Haiti for final review. There is absolutely nothing else that we have to do except sit back, wait, and pray for the final approval and issue of the visas. Our agency estimates 8 weeks but is hoping to shave a week or two off of that. When you have waited as long as we have, this doesn't seem hard at all! When we get to FaceTime with the kids they always ask "when are you coming?" It is so exciting to know that we won't have to leave them there again. That when we go back, they will come back with us!!! SURREAL!!!
 
We have had so many people sacrificially give to us on this journey. We are so thankful. It is so amazing that God uses His people to fund what He favors. We have estimated that by the time we travel we will have spent almost $60,000 on this adoption. Trust me, we did not have that kind of money but God did. We are down to owing $2000 to our agency, $1800 care fees for London and Sam (estimated at $600 per month) and flights (two roundtrip and two oneway) and Kelcie and Greyson will be doing some fundraising for their flights because they REALLY want to go with us. Let me say that we are exhausted from the fundraising. It is our least favorite thing to do! But God is faithful and we are almost there. 

Our #adoption shirts were a HUGE success!! We sold around 160 shirts and so many people that ordered one, reordered because of the quality of the shirt! We had people ask if we could get more colors and so we decided to go for it and see what God does!!!  We are doing preorders on these shirts. You can order through the link to the Right and just let us know in the comments what size and color you would like! We are adding youth sizes this time as well!!! We will have sizes youth small through adult 3XL. Please add $2 for 2XL and 3XL, and we can ship the shirts for $5. Please share  through your social media because we have learned that is the key to success!!! We cannot thank you enough! We love you all and can't wait to introduce London and Sam to all of you!! They are going to steal your hearts just like they have ours!!!



XOXO
Tracie