Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Service

On the night before Thanksgiving I'll be speaking at this service at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (4439 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55424) where my friend Deen works. :-) Our praise band is going to perform and I'm going to speak on the topic, "Extreme Living."

Just thought you might like to know...

What If Mary Had Known?

I know, I know, it's not even close to Christmas yet. But if you want to pretend like it is a long ways off and you live in Minnesota, don't look out your window! It sure seems like Christmas out there already.

Today we started a small group at our church based on the book "Christmas is Not Your Birthday." I told my daughter Salinda, who was born on December 25th, that she should go up to our small group coordinator at church and shove the book in her face and yell, "LIAR!" but I digress. ANd while I'm digressing I should also put that we would love to have you join us for the last part of this connect group -- you've only missed one so far -- so let me know if you would like to attend the next four Saturday mornings... Ok. Done digressing now.

The small group this morning talked about whether or not we were expecting a miracle this Christmas and whether or not we were open to God doing a miracle THROUGH us. YIKES. I'm pretty sure that I am happy to have God do miracles FOR me and miracles IN me, but THROUGH me? I'm not so sure. Would I be willing, like Mary was, to be the vessel in which God would put a miracle that I would bring to life? In Spanish the words used to say "give birth" are "bring to the light." Am I willing to be the womb where God puts a miracle knowing that He is going to bring that miracle to the light through me? Wow. Deep thoughts for a Saturday morning.

I was pondering the question this morning of why God chose to only ask Mary to do the first step. I wonder if her answer would have different if God would have said, through the angel, "Hey there, Mary. I'd like to ask you a pretty big favor. I would like you to be the mother of my Son. The first 30 years or so shouldn't be too hard, but the next three will be kinda tough. And oh yeah, by the way, he's going to have to die a horrible death at 33 and you are going to be there to watch. Interested?"

I want to say that Mary would have said, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior" even if she had known the whole story. I hope that she would have. But God in His wisdom didn't tell her the whole story. He just told her that was going to be with her no matter what.

In many ways God has done miracles through Bart and I. Miracles like our grandchildren who would not exist had we not adopted their parents. Miracles like the growth and healing that has taken place in our children's lives over the years. Miracles like the lives of people who have been changed through our ministry in 4 different churches since we were married. And miracles like children having forever families and sticking with them that are a result of my adoption-related positions over the years.

But in each of those stories is a tapestry woven of not only highlights and bright moments, but deep dark troubled times of doubt and pain. We have had hard times... some really hard times ... as those of you who have read this blog for years are well aware of. We obeyed God at the beginning of each of these "miracles" and took the first step, having no idea where it all would like.

I want to say that Bart and I would have said yes to God had we known the whole story. I hope we would have. But God in His wisdom doesn't tell us the whole story. He just tells that he is going to be with us no matter what.

And He has. As Matt Redmond penned, "Never once did we ever walk alone, never once did we make it on our own, You are faithful...."

So today I guess I want to ask you what unanticipated hard times came as a result of you saying yes to God for step one. What valleys have you gone through or are you walking through right now?

Or are you at the beginning stages of a new journey -- the idea for a miracle is being planted in you right now. Are you going to say yes to God for step one?

Even though life is still far from perfect, I am not at all regretting our decision to say yes to that first request. So if you're struggling, remember that never once will you ever walk alone. And if you are embarking on the journey, dive in. Whatever the miracle God has planned for you He will see you through.

And maybe, just maybe, in her heart of hearts, Mary did know that it was going to be a difficult journey. But she pondered these things and day by day lived the life she was called to live and God was faithful.

And regardless of what point you are at in the journey of His miracle for you, He will be faithful to you as well.

Friday, November 07, 2014


Check out the Thunderclap Notice on my Side Bar. Pretty cool huh?

Anybody heard of thunderclap?

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Another Opportunity to Hear Me Speak....

After not having many speaking opportunities for quite some time, all the sudden I have had a bunch of opportunities come up.

If you are interested, I'm doing a special service at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Not only will I be speaking, but our praise band, Testify, will be leading worship and I'll be playing keyboard.

You should come.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

If you planned ahead.... :-)

I get to do standup again in February near Seattle. I absolutely love The Refresh Conference .

If you've been reading my blog over the years you know that I have done my share of speaking and done many conferences. But this Refresh Conference is by far the best one out there for adoptive parents. It is designed as a gift for the parents -- to give them a break, take care of them well, and just have a great time.

I LOVE things that bring people from different walks of my life together. For example, I had a blast at our Gala on the 24th because there were people there from Mankato, Brookings, my church here, my work here, my friends in the adoption community. People I love were meeting each other and it was awesome.

So I have a dream about Refresh 2014. There are so many awesome people there that I have grown to love over the past 3 years of speaking there. And I have adoptive parents from all over the place who I love. And I have people I went to college with who are now adoptive parents. Wouldn't it be awesome if all of you found a way to get there and could meet each other?

I'm excited about the dream of all of us b. I know it's far away from some of you -- but if you plan ahead... you can do it.

Who wants to try and get there?

Friday, October 31, 2014

If you live anywhere near Sioux Falls....

Recently I've accepted a few speaking engagements.... This one day conference will be in Sioux Falls on November 22nd. I will be the MC of the event and will also be doing a breakout session.

I'm most excited though to go and meet George. The video below and him singing the words, "And all of the sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory" brings me to tears almost every time. I'm excited to hear him speak and to meet him.

Would be great to see you there!

What would you like to see here?

To say that I am beyond busy is an extreme understatement. Never before have I had so many things that I want to do and what seems like such limited time in which to do them. I miss blogging -- I was reminded of this when I read an article in Lifelines Magazine that I "wrote" -- which was really a compilation of several of my blog entries since I didn't even have time to write the article.

I think that I am beyond the days where I need to vent here in my blog. If you want venting try 2007 to 2012. Plenty of junk there -- drama and frustration for sure. In addition, my children aren't children anymore -- except for Wilson who is almost 16 (if you can believe that!?!??!) SO writing here that within the last 3 weeks we have had our house "burglarized" (which was actually an inside job made to look like someone broke in), another one of my kids start smoking, an adult child suddenly, after a year of having a checking account without issues, started over-drafting in any possible way he could; someone purchasing a handgun and then reporting to police that it had been stolen when he didn't register it, ok, ok, I'm done with that part. But if I wrote that and attached names to it it would be shaming to them in a different way than it was when they were children. Or maybe not. But I feel less comfortable with all that at this point.

In addition, I now have to have a filter. I work for a great organization -- in fact, in April I was promoted to Regional Director -- and I would hate to ever have anything that I write here negatively impact the organization. So the fun days of talking about whatever I wanted to regardless of how sarcastic, cynical, rude or inappropriate it was are gone.

And I don't really have the luxury of simply posting cute pictures of my grandchildren, although I do have some really cute ones... In fact, I just put one up. Carlos Junior is nothing but gorgeous (born September 12).

I do, think, however, that my blog could offer something to my readers (if I still have any) even if it is just proof that there is life after the toughest years...

So I'm asking you your thoughts: What would you like me to blog about? Or has my blog fulfilled it's purpose and should I shut it down?

Interested to hear what you have to say..

Friday, September 26, 2014

Stop Singing Oceans

I can't believe someone else thinks just like me. I've been saying this for months ever since I made the mistake of singing it back in February and began one of the most difficult 6 months of my professional life.

I could have written it myself.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

On being 51

Today I turned 51. Life is just so very very good. It took a long time to get here but it is so good to be here.

I spent time with 4 of my 5 grandchildren in the last three days... yes there are 5....I was surrounded by a great church family, old and new friends, and the best husband ever. My list of blessings is so long that I can no longer count them.

We number 24 now -- this family called Fletchers... 12 kids, two parents, 5 grandchildren, and 5 other parents of our grandchildren. Our kids are so fun to watch because they truly enjoy one another and get together as often as possible. 7 of our sons live in our home, our daughters are in an apartment 2.5 miles away, and we see the other three fairly often. I get to see my grandchildren often.

Sundays is family day. We typically have at least a grandchild, sometimes two or three, and a bunch of kids at church and then with us for dinner later. It's huge blessing to watch them interact.

My mom lives 3 miles from me. I see her at least once a week. She joined us for church and dinner. She is an amazing woman of God. She inspires me all the time. I miss my dad every day but I'm so grateful to have my mom close.

I love my church. I play in bells. I sing in choir. I play keyboard in the band. The friends I have there are amazing. My guy friends, especially, though they give me a really hard time and would not admit to being my friends, are such a blessing in my life. They keep me laughing.

I love my job. I am daily challenged, pushed, and forced to be a better woman and a better leader. I work with a phenomenal group of women who I supervise and have peers across the country that I enjoy. In two and a half weeks one of the best friends I've ever had is going to join my staff as the assistant director. I get paid to live out my passion. It doesn't get any better than that.

I spent my morning with friends from church and my afternoon and evening with family. They make me smile. We laugh. We reminisce. We tell stories.

I love being 51. I have learned so much even in the past few months. Things like:

1) If something works for me and it doesn't work for those around me, it's not OK.

2) Pushing myself to do things I don't enjoy well has it's own rewards.

3) Every moment counts. I am done wishing things would be over so I can move on to the next thing. I am happy being me.

4) Sometimes people really are doing the best they can even if it isn't what I would wish or expect from them.

5) God is faithful. God is good.

6) Providing kids with place to belong during their growing up years has incredible rewards once they are grown. They are better people because we endured the tough things they put us through when they were growing up.

I've learned much more that those things but that is what immediately comes to mind.

I have little time to blog. My life is full. But for those of you who are in the murk of it all, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And life is good.

Quick update on everyone for you:

Kyle and his wife have a son, Silas, who turned a year. They both teach elementary school. They are married, as you know, and have built a house. Their lives are picture perfect... just as Kyle always dreamed it could be.

Rand is living at home and looking for work. He is currently the family taxi driver, cook, and errand runner as Bart and I are seldom home.

The son who never likes to be named in the blog lives here about 3 days a week and with friends near Mankato the rest of the time. He is a tattoo artist and we enjoy his son Aiden, who is now two, whenever we get to see him.

John lives with us. He works full time at Taco Bell and part time for a moving company. He is working hard to save enough money to be independent.

Salinda just had her second child two days ago. The baby's dad is a pro basketball player in Uruguay and we really love him. The baby, Carlos Jr. is downright adorable.

Ricardo is finishing up alcohol treatment. He has been sober for about 11 months. He lives in a halfway house in the southern part of the Twin Cities.

Mercedes is a nanny and a PCA and is living with Salinda and her two kids a couple miles from us.

Tony is engaged to Taylor who we really love. They live in Alexandria but he texts or calls almost daily. He is working for a steel company.

Leon is in his first year of college and living at home being the wonderful person that he always is.

Dominyk is a senior. Believe it? He also has a job working in the care center where my mom lives in the kitchen. He's grown up a lot and really wants to join the army.

Finally Wilson is a freshman and spends all his free time in front of the computer which we have concluded is a good thing. There are a lot of things he can't do while he is sitting there, 5 feet from our bedroom door (Get addicted to drugs or alcohol, get a girl pregnant, etc. etc. etc.)

Bart is doing great. He's such an amazing communicator and is involved in several spiritual development opportunities in and outside of the local church. I'm blessed beyond words to be his wife.

I think that's it. Maybe I'll blog again some day!