a quick family update: june 2018

Little Man
I was able to go visit Little Man in Haiti last month and it was wonderful to see him again! We’ve been blessed to have my mom and dad in Haiti throughout this waiting time – they’ve faithfully gone to visit him once a month, a 3-4 hour round trip from their home in Cabaret to his creche on the hill in Kenscoff. It’s been such a gift to be able to Skype with them and Little Man at those visits, but nothing compares to getting to hold him in my lap, listen to his voice, and hear his heartbeat while he sleeps. I was so glad to see how much he’s grown since December, and to hear about what he’s learning in school, and to spend time together, short though it was.

We’re praying for continued forward movement with his case in Haitian court and an adoption decree that legally makes him a Puelston before summer ends. It would be amazing to be able to bring him home before his birthday in November, but more realistically, it will probably be the end of the year.

Babiest Girl
Our foster daughter is doing so well. She’s 2.5 and full of vim and vigor. We are coming up on events this year that we did with her last year when she had first come to us and was still a big, bubbling mess of dysregulation and trauma-effects. It has been truly amazing to see how far she’s come! She stays closer, listens and obeys more quickly, has less of a hard time calming down when upset, and so many more good things. Witnessing her heart, mind and body change over the past 15 months has been an amazing thing (and challenging/frustrating thing too, TBH).

This fall, Lord willing and the paper trail is laid quickly, she’ll become our girl forever and we’ll get to introduce you to her. We will also be able to quit hiding her face behind dumb red emoji hearts. She’s stinkin’ cute, y’all. She’s one of those “so dang cute, how could you possibly ever get mad at her?” kids. But look out, because the minute after she’s charmed your socks, she’ll steal and eat your chapstick, then paint your front door with nail polish. ❤

We’ve been praying about moving, or adding on, or being content with the space we have in our decade-old home for about four years now. Pretty much the whole time we’ve been in the adoption process/been foster parents, we’ve felt like our walls were shrinking. A bigger number of kids in a medium-ish space will do that to ya. Also #firstworldproblems, I know.

Over the past few years we did several things to make our house work better for us, but with the reality of five kids and wanting to have space for family and friends to visit/host events for church and our neighbors, we just felt like maybe something else would be better. But nothing was coming up! We love our neighborhood, the kids are going to a school here in town in the fall, and I was not going to the trouble of a move just for something “slightly better” than what we already had going on.


About a month ago, a house not far from us came on the market and I looked it up online. Then another house came up under the “other homes like this in your search area” heading, and I was intrigued. The asking price was kind of out of price range, but I looked at the listing anyway. It was around the corner and down the block from our house – we can actually see the trees in the backyard of that house from our front yard. They had an open house that weekend, so Kyle and I went.

We liked it. More bedrooms. More space. Bigger kitchen. A MUD ROOM. A beautiful deck. Woods. Storage space. Space for kids to play downstairs in the winter. Did I mention SPACE?

We hemmed and hawed and thought and prayed and talked to a lender and talked to my parents (who would really like a place to stay when they’re here from Haiti), then decided to just put in an offer and see what happened. A “less than asking price” offer. Which in this market is pretty much not a thing people accept. Because why would they?

The sellers took our offer, contingent on us selling our home. I cried. Happy, shocked, surprised, amazed tears.

We hustled and got our house ready to list in four days. Thankfully, there wasn’t a ton to do, but I worked my little tushie off painting and cleaning and boxing up the extra junk and putting it in the garage for those four days. Friends helped, Kyle did what he could when he wasn’t working night and day, and it came together!

Off we went for some much needed family R&R up to Duluth (already scheduled before we decided to jump on this train!) for four days. Our house went on the market, no showings for the first 3 days. Then the weekend came and we had two showings on Saturday. The first person that saw it put in a “more than asking price” offer hours later and was dead earnest about wanting our house. We accepted.


Impossible comes true, its taking over you.
Oh, this is the greatest show
We light it up, we won’t come down
And the sun can’t stop us now
Watching it come true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show

Just about half an hour after our realtor called us with the offer, as we were driving home from Duluth, we were listening to “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack and the title track came on. I heard the words with a new perspective, because I feel like God is putting on a big, beautiful show of His great glory and kindness right now. This whole thing isn’t something we planned or even could have imagined.

This is the greatest show on earth to me: being God’s child and watching the wonder of his plan unfold. I’ve gone through some pretty dark days and some intense anxiety, even physical manifestations of anxiety, over the past couple years. It’s not all roses and sunshine as we walk this broken earth, not by a long shot. But walking through the fire and the flood with Jesus by my side has been far more comforting than walking alone.

And now He’s held my hand as we’ve stepped out into the light of a new thing, a new day. God’s not just opening doors. He’s blowing the proverbial hinges off of them and pushing us, gently, through them. We’ll close on our house and the new one at the end of July. Thanks be to God for His kind gift. We are very, very grateful.

sunday, or the spring of open doors

Wow. So much has happened in two short months since I last wrote. It truly was the darkest before the dawn. I was hanging on for Sunday.

This is the storm, this is the storm
The storm before the calm
This is the pain, the pain before the balm
This is the cold, the cold
It’s the cold before the warm
These are the tears, the tears before the song
This is the dark
Sometimes all I see is this darkness
Well, can’t you feel the darkness
This is the dark before the dawn

And just as it has for eons, the sun arose. Answers finally came. Doors that had seemed stuck shut, finally opened. Not just opened, but basically were blasted off their hinges.

So I’m waiting for the King
To come galloping out of the clouds while the angel armies sing
He’s gonna gather His people in the shadow of His wings
And I’m gonna raise my voice with the song of the redeemed
‘Cause all this darkness is a small and passing thing

Our adoption paperwork finally was kicked loose from USCIS and is moving along in the Haitian court system! Our foster daughter’s case was finally decided – we get to move forward with adopting her! And in a surprising twist, we are moving to a new home later this summer. Bing, bang, boom. Hello, Sunday.

Spring was short in Minnesota this year. It was winter, then it was spring for about three weeks, and then summer temperatures hit and warmed everything up quickly, melted the snow, the flowers bloomed, and the trees BURST into green. Our family’s story has mirrored this new season, just as it had mirrored the long winter – new beginnings, fresh sunshine of grace, doors flung open to welcome the beauty and warmth of YES.

I imagined the sorrow of the disciples and Jesus’ closest friends as he laid in the tomb, but I can also picture their absolute rapture and joy when they learned that He HAD risen JUST AS HE SAID. When the tomb door was pushed aside, and the grave clothes they had wrapped his broken body in just days before lay empty…when it dawned on them that what He had said was true – I can imagine the awestruck wonder.

The past ten days have been a wild ride of God opening doors to a new home for our growing family, but I’ve been in awestruck wonder and slightly giddy joy over what He is doing: a new thing. I feel like I couldn’t stop this train even if I wanted to – God is clearly at the throttle and we are excited to be along for the ride. Deepest valleys, highest mountaintops – this journey has been intense, but beautiful.

I’m so grateful for Sunday. Thankful for resurrection. Undeniably aware of the dawn.

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn
And I could see the fields of glory
I could hear the sower’s song

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn
And all that rain had washed me clean
All the sorrow was gone

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn
And I could finally believe
The king had loved me all along

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn
I saw the sower in the silver mist
And He was calling me home

saturday, or the winter of waiting

I’ve always been drawn to the Saturday of Holy Week. What was that day like for those who loved Jesus and believed He was who He said He was? He was dead and buried in a tomb – they laid him there. They wrapped his bruised, crushed, broken body in cloth and poured precious spices and oils over his dead body, cold and still.

Did they remember his words about rising again? Did they think about the way he had spoken Lazarus right out of his tomb and did they hope against hope that he would use that same power to raise himself? Or did they wonder if they had believed a lie? Did they sit, confused and heartbroken, wondering what the past several years had been for if not for Jesus to save the world as the Messiah?

Waiting. Wondering. Watching for the dawn of Sunday. Would their hope be realized?

I’ve been in a Saturday season for almost a year now. The things I thought would happen have not (yet) or never will. I’ve felt frustrated, boxed in by things I cannot control or have little hope of changing. The timing of so many things has felt jarring, awkward, not at all what I would have planned. My hope has been deferred and it has made my heart sick. Dreams and ideas and hopes have died and lie buried beneath what I thought would be. New things are taking root and growing, slowly the new is coming to pass, but the buds are not yet bursting forth into bloom.

This winter has been a long, cold, snowy one in Minnesota. The two week forecast has no signs of spring, and my heart is weary. I’m usually a little more Pollyanna about winter, but the waiting and delays in our adoption proceedings, stress of every day life, the uncertainty in our foster daughter’s future, and my own sinfulness have piled up like the snowdrifts at the end of our driveway and my heart lies cold under the depths of it all.

A long winter. The longest of Saturdays.

But everything changed in one day, in one moment, really. Where there was death, life and love conquered the grave. Winter cannot withstand the power of Spring. The trees bud and bloom, the flowers blossom, the grass grows. I will see green again, just like I have in the other 35 springs of my life. The icy grip of doubt and despair and frustration will loosen and my heart will thaw by the warmth of the promises of a mighty, unchanging God that sees me and walks with me in every season, through every valley.

And this in between, this Saturday, this winter that seems to never end; where things do not go how I want them to or how I thought they would…it teaches me to sit with those in a similar place. To allow for grief over what might have been or what I hoped could be. To be a witness to the pain of walking through this broken world, saying “I see this is hard. I see you here. Let’s sit and wait for the burning edge of dawn together.” It reminds me to love well and carry hope, and be a friend in the middle place between death and dawn.

My Deliverer is coming. Saturday night must end in the dawn of Sunday. My Jesus destroyed the power of sin and death and He will bring His good, good plan to pass in my life. This winter of waiting, this Saturday between the darkness and the dawn, it will give way to Spring and Sunday. I know how this story ends.

Family News ~ Christmas 2017

This is the update promised on our Christmas card!

Our BIG NEWS is that we have finally been matched to adopt a little boy from Haiti! Kyle and I (Johanna) recently went to Haiti to meet him and we are thrilled to finally be moving forward with the (still long/many month) process to bring him home. As soon as he is officially a Puelston according to the Haitian court system, we will introduce you to our Little Man. But needless to say, we are excited, and very much in love with him. God has blessed us far beyond what we could have asked him through his little life and we cannot wait to have him in our arms again.

More 2017 Highlights, Month by Month

January – Kicked off the year with a new niece! Haddie joined the Puelston cousin crew. Kyle and Johanna celebrated their tenth anniversary with a belated trip to Mexico, enjoying the sunshine and lovely weather of Puerto Vallarta. Yay travel points, and Costco Travel deals, and wonderful grandparents who kept our kiddos!

February – a 15 month old foster daughter joined our family for what we imagined would be just a few months. She hasn’t left yet! We love her and will introduce you to her Royal Cuteness when we have permission. She’s a spunky, adorable little girl, and has given me many grey hairs this year. 😉

March – was a whirlwind of appointments and visits for our foster daughter and events and parties and meetings and more. Just tried to keep up with it all! My parents left MN and started raising support for their new mission in life: working at Haiti Deaf Academy.

April – we celebrated our Lord’s Resurrection with our family, enjoyed the warmth of spring, and carried on with life as we knew it. My parents came and spent a week with us in between travels to raise support.

May – Johanna had a root canal, we finished up our school year, Johanna escaped to Duluth with friends for a couple days, Taylor and Jack started summer soccer, and Jack cleaned up at a track and field meet! Five ribbons, most first and second place.

June – Our niece Lucy was born! We threw a goodbye party for my parents, and they moved to Haiti to take on the role of directors of Haiti Deaf Academy. Hard to have them leave, but happy to share them with Haiti and the wonderful staff and kids at HDA. We also hit the North Shore with Kyle’s family for a wonderful week together in Grand Marais.

July – Jackson turned 8! An epic Nerf gun battle was his party of choice. Lots of time outside. Swimming lessons, days at the lake, and the best days of summer.

August – Family getaway to Duluth for a few days! And a new nephew was born! Kyle’s brother and his wife added the third new grandkid to the Puelston fam in 2017.

September – We began our third year of homeschooling with Jack in 3rd grade, Taylor in Kindergarten, and Grant occasionally doing some preschool work. We’re glad for the flexible schedule which allows for more time with Kyle with his funky work schedule. Kyle and I celebrated 11 years of marriage with a quick weekend trip to NYC!

October – Taylor turned 6! We celebrated with a fun party for our girl. On October 16, the phone call we’ve been waiting over three years for finally came. We were matched! He’s a five year old boy and he’s handsome and sweet. Kyle and I made plans to go to Haiti as soon as we could arrange it.

November – Lots of adoption paperwork, scrambling to pack, figuring out childcare for our first three and our foster girl while we left the country for two weeks to meet our son in Haiti. A lovely Thanksgiving with our Puelston side, and then off on the adventure of meeting our son and spending every day of 15 days with him. What a joy and a struggle across language and cultures! We really loved our time in Haiti together with him.

December – Back from Haiti, amazing family and friends, trip to FL to wrap up the year, welcome in 2018! Grant turned 4! He was celebrated lots with family first here at our house and bowling with grandma and grandpa and his siblings, then  with a Cars 3 themed party with friends over to play after we got back from Haiti. Love our big boy!

currently 12.0

whoa. it’s been four years since I’ve done a “currently” post. Well, really its been four years since I blogged with any regularity. 😛 Sigh. Life! It happens. Motherhood and fostering have both taken huge bites out of my brain and my time.

current reading material: just wrapped up Seabiscuit and The Glass Castle – finally! Those two had been on my list for years. Currently halfway through Half Broke Horses and listening to The Aviator’s Wife on audiobook. Apparently I go in spurts with reading because I hadn’t really read since our trip to Mexico in January until the past month. Silly me! I love it so.

current songs o’ delight: “Give Love” by Andy Grammer.

current projects: ripping out our basement wet bar that we never use, so we can turn it into a more functional space for schooling/play.

current recipes I’ve tried: this fabulous Chopped Chicken Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing. I omitted the peppers in the dressing, and skipped the jicama and Asian pear in the salad, but otherwise followed the recipe. Makes a good amount, so we had leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day too. Could be Whole30 if you subbed a bit of fruit juice for the coconut palm sugar.

current hair color: natural with a healthy dose of blonde on the bottom 2/3. the grey is creeping in, y’all and I’m just not ready to face that music yet.

current events: just had a lovely trip up north to Grand Marais, where we enjoyed all our favorite things and also tried our hand at innkeeping for a friend who needed a little break from her five unit motel. We liked it and hope to do it again sometime later this year.

upcoming events: Jackson turns 8 in just over a week and I’m a little in denial. Time is a thief.

or this version….

loving: pineapple strawberry La Croix sparkling water – the Curate’ version
reading: Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls (just finished her first book, The Glass Castle)
waiting for: clarity for our foster kiddos case and a referral from Haiti
shopping for: pool floaties and chemicals
excited about: possibly going to NYC in the fall with Kyle
trying to: not lose my sanity caring for a VERY, super, uber busy toddler and my other three too
working on: achieving perfect pool water. ha!
enjoying: the She Reads Truth Romans’ study
using: bug spray. the mosquitoes are fierce again.
wearing: breezy summer dresses on repeat
planning: Jack’s 8th birthday party
needing: a haircut. and a meal plan that works.
learning: more about attachment and how to fix disordered attachment
listening to: Souvenir by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
wishing: I was lean/could find a meal plan or diet that works for me.
doing: more cooking! I realized I’ve been just coasting in survival mode and making tasty, creative meals gives me life. So I’m trying to do more in the kitchen again.
dreaming of: a bigger house with more space for people. my people, our family, our friends, all the people. but maybe just making this house bigger. Somehow.

adoption update 4.0

I can’t believe that its been over 4 years since we began this journey. It’s had surprising twists and turns, many delays – both perfectly timed ones and ones we don’t understand. We really thought back in September something was finally going to happen, but after 5 months of silence since then from the Haiti social services department, we and our agency have concluded something got lost in translation and we didn’t get the referral we were hoping for and anticipating based on the payment requested and given.

It’s been hard to keep hoping and dreaming of our family being complete with our kid(s) home. It’s been difficult to keep trusting that God knows what’s best for us and knows the timing that’s perfect as well. But its been good for us to keep looking to Jesus, reading His promises that He is working for our good and His glory, and for us to keep loving the kids God has brought to our home through foster care.

We hope that 2017 will bring us a match with the kid(s) God has for us, and maybe even see our child(ren) come home. In the meantime, we’re going to: keep practicing Creole (I’m about to label everything in our house with it’s Creole word), pray for our kid(s), update our home study, ask God to move mountains, get to know more Haitian adoptive families here in MN, continue learning about adoption and attachment, and love the people and live this life God has put right in front of us.

We also still have more money to raise, especially if Haiti does match us with siblings. You can go check out our Adopt a Love Story page!


2016 Year in Review

The Year that Was – 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? Took the kids on a road trip by myself. Set foot on the African continent, specifically Morocco! Took an epic westward road trip with our family. Saw my little brother get married!

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I made goals again, (not resolutions) and made headway on many. Several will move over into this year’s goals, and others will fall into the crevice of unmet hopes and good intentions. 😛

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? yes! Several good friends and my sister-in-law.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.

5. What countries did you visit? Morocco! It was incredible. I also made layovers in Spain and the U.K., but those hardly count. And new states for me: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and North Dakota on our epic Last Great Adventure of the Summer Road Trip.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? I repeat from last year and the year before: our yet unknown, but very loved already, child home from Haiti. More patience and time (use what I have more wisely).

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Sept. 1 – because its the day we left on our big road trip that we’d planned for months.

8. What was your biggest achievements of the year? Taking the kids on our spring break road trip to TN. planning and going on our family vacation out west with Kyle. And homeschooling again this year. We also helped several families with their foster babies while they went out of town and had a couple sweet kiddos that stayed for weeks or a couple months this year.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not setting my phone down enough.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I didn’t, but we had a CRAZY October with an emergency room visit with Grant for croup, followed by a foot infection that went berserk and landed Kyle in the hospital for five days for treatment.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Tickets to Morocco. (Plane tickets often make it into this slot.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jackson’s. He grew up so much this year and is such a great kid. I’m constantly blessed by his sweetness, his helpfulness, and his excitement for life. He took off in reading, he plays so nicely with his siblings, and he has a heart for other people to know God and love Him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton. All politicians everywhere.

14. Where did most of your money go? housing, food, church/missions and gasoline.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to Morocco! Our trip west. My brother’s wedding.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016? She’s My Wife – Josh Garrels, The Dark Before the Dawn – Andrew Peterson, Hallelujah – Andy Grammer, What Would I Do Without You? – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? happier. less stressed!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? writing. I have no idea where my writing self has gone…she took a hike and I need her to come back to me.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? aimless Facebook scrolling. Being short with my kids.

20. How did you spend Christmas? we opened gifts at our house on Christmas Eve, then went to church Christmas morning, and left Kyle home to sleep/work. I took the kids to my parent’s to open gifts and eat dinner, then on to Kyle’s parent’s to open gifts with his family. Grant had a minor cold that went into full blown miserable mode by the end of the day, so I ended up taking him to the ER to get meds for an ear infection and didn’t get home until nearly midnight.

21. How did you spend New Years? We went to a friend’s house and had pizza. Our kids played, we grown-ups talked – it was nice! Then we tucked the kids in here at home, and Kyle and I prayed and kissed at midnight.

22. What were your favorite TV programs? This is Us, The Great British Baking Show, and Grantchester.

23. What were the best books you read? Secrets of a Charmed Life, a fascinating and riveting novel about life choices and their impact on others, set in WW2.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Hamilton: the Musical (MIND BLOWN) and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

25. What did you want and got? A trip to Haiti.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? I can hardly remember which movies I’ve seen over the year…I’ll come back to it if I remember.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 34 and it was a lovely ordinary day. We had a little family celebration with dinner and cake before rushing off to coach Jack’s soccer team and play a soccer game. The next day we went up to Two Harbors to camp while Kyle ran Grandma’s Marathon. Later in the month we went to dinner and a Josh Garrels concert and that was kind of my birthday date. It was great!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Like I said last year – the adoption process being over and a child home in our arms.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? Dialed in. I know what I like and I have found my groove. Classic with my own twist.

31. What kept you sane? Working out at the kettlebell gym, good music, my husband, and God’s Word.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Nope. Nobody.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? The election. Mostly just depressed me though.

34. Who did you miss? my friends that live far away.

35. Who was the best new person you met? a beautiful soul in Morocco named Kaltoom. She is a friend of my friend and she welcomed me into her home and life with open arms and a generous heart. I was blessed so much by her.

36. Tell us some valuable life lessons you learned in 2016: I can road trip with three kids and survive just fine! Being consistent in exercise/working out at the gym makes me more disciplined in other areas and helps maintain my mental health. I LOVE lifting heavy kettlebells. Kyle and I make an amazing road tripping team and our kids are road trip warriors. I love supporting the global workers we know and want to make visiting them and seeing their lives up close a regular event for us and our family.

And here is 2017 already!  Welcome to a new year – I am excited to see what miracles and beauty you hold and what challenges you bring our way, all under the mighty hand of God.