What a ride. 2018 brought a lot of change to our family! A new home, a new daughter (officially official!), a new son (still to come all the way home to our family), a new school for the older two kids, and a new boss for Kyle. All good changes, just a LOT of them! We are thankful that in the midst of change, our God never changes and remains faithful and steadfast in His love and grace. Here’s a little look into our family’s past year:
A New Home
At the end of July, we moved to our new house, just one block down and around the corner from our old house. For soooo many reasons it probably shouldn’t have worked out for us to get our amazing house, but it did and I’m BEYOND grateful. More room for our more kids, NOT a split level, a delightful corner of a culdesac wooded lot, still in our neighborhood so our kids don’t have to make new friends, a bigger kitchen, fireplaces, and more. This house has been a huge gift in the midst of so many other things in life being a challenge and tough. You can read more about the story here. And come visit! We have an amazing guest room and lots of room for guests. We’d love to roll out the red carpet and have you stay with us!
A New Daughter
In March of 2017, a little 15 month old girl came to our house for what we thought would be a short stay as a foster placement. She never left! And this year, on November 29, we welcome Madison Trinity-Mae into our family forever. She’s now been with us for 21 months, and turned 3 the day after her adoption day! She is a really fun, crazy, challenging kid, and we’ve had quite the journey to arrive at this lovely destination of finalized adoption. We are so thankful that she is now for real and forever our daughter.
A New Son
The day after Maddie’s adoption was finalized, we got word that our adoption decree for our son in Haiti had been issued by the judge in Haitian court! Along the process, we’ve hit some really frustrating delays, but things are on track for us to be able to pick him up and bring him home in mid-February, most likely. It’s been a huge blessing has been that my parents have been able to visit him almost every month this past year and we’ve been able to FaceTime with them and I got to visit again in May with him and see my parents’ home/work.
Alfarado (Al-Fah-rah-dough) Carter (or Alfa, same as Alpha) just turned 6 in November, and is spunky, sweet, goofy, and charming. I think he will fit really well into the middle of our family – he’s one of the gang at his orphanage and I hope he’ll enjoy being in a big family. We have a long road ahead of us toward attachment and becoming a family, but God has kindly given us a little preview of what that hard work looks like with Maddie. I’m praying that he picks up on English quickly and we can be the family he needs as he grows up. I’m terrified and excited. And more scared. But I know that He who led us safe this far will lead us safely home.
The Original Three
Jack is nine, going on twelve, and is in fourth grade at a new, small charter school in our town. He’s a great kid – athletic and smart and mostly helpful and kind. He’s tall – almost five feet, and already wears size 12 pants for length. I can’t believe it. Some of his highlights from 2018: his baseball team taking second in a hard-fought tournament on a very hot weekend in July, being the best Vikings fan a Minnesotan kid can be, and getting to be a narrator in the church Christmas play this year.
Taylor is seven, our drama queen and still a lover of all things pretty-fancy-artistic-glitter-pink. She’s in first grade at the charter school and mostly likes it. She’s smart and is reading well and their school has a music and art focus that she LOVES: art three days a week and music or theatre every day! Taylor started ballet this fall and is enjoying it very much, and memorized a big passage of Scripture for the Christmas play.
Grant just turned five and is Mom’s little buddy. He alternately loves and drives Maddie crazy. And she him! He is huge: only two lbs. lighter than Taylor! He’s a tough cookie on the outside, but is a big ol’ marshmallow on the inside. Grant loves LEGOS and playing imaginative stuff by himself, and we really need to help him work on his fine motor skills before kindergarten next fall. (ahem.) He is in gymnastics and loves it, and wants to be a missionary and a soccer player when he grows up.
The Old Married Couple
Kyle is still a sergeant with his dept., and has been on day shift for the past two years, which has been terrific for his health and our family. He has worked hard and been spread thin this past year, but God has sustained him and we’re being more intentional about blocking off time for soul-restoring and life-giving things. As we add kids and more activities and life gets inevitably busier, carving out “NOTHING ON THE CALENDAR” days has become important!
Kyle is developing a drone unit for his agency, continues to be an elder at our church, ran Grandma’s Half-Marathon in June, held down the fort for me to make quick trips to Haiti and Arizona, and makes time to disciple and connect with our kids a high priority. Our family is uber blessed by his love and leadership. ❤
We celebrated twelve years of marriage in September, this year with a simple and lovely dinner at a local restaurant. There are years for epic trips and years for quiet dinners. Earlier in the summer we had a fun two night getaway to New Ulm in southern MN and enjoyed touring the Schells Brewery and exploring the little town on the river.
And me (Johanna). I’m hanging in there. Kind of just along for the ride, I often feel like. I wear a lot of hats, and some of them are more glamorous than others. There’s a lot of things I don’t do well, but I love being Kyle’s wife and my kids’ mom and a friend and a sister and a daughter. God is with me, and I appreciate the love and lessons He kindly gives as I walk down the beautiful and often bumpy road He has chosen for me.
Some of the things I enjoyed most this year:
- Homeschooling Jack and Taylor last school year (2017-18) and doing USA Geography/History with them. We had a lot of fun.
- Visiting my parents and Alfa in Haiti in late May. I love that island. ❤
- How quickly our house sold in June!
- A quick family trip to Duluth, which included a fun time watching a performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” on the shores of Lake Superior with Jack, my 36th birthday, and cheering Kyle on as he ran the half marathon.
- Making our new house a home, and having my parents here for a long visit this summer. They helped us so much!
- Throwing kettlebells and staying fit-ish.
- Finalizing one adoption and seeing the finish line for the last one!
Grace that is Greater
A banner that has been over this long, rather arduous, blessing and challenge filled year is God’s great grace. We are thankful for the mighty grace of God at work in our lives. We don’t deserve it, can’t earn it, and are grateful for it. Jesus made it possible for grace to be the theme of our song: born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever. We look forward to all He has for us in 2019!