Saturday, May 29, 2010

a LONG drive

…but oh SO worth it to see this face:


even though he hates having his picture taken. 

We are enjoying sun and sand, and time in the pool.  See?








It will be hard to leave Brent on Monday, but we have to be home on Wednesday morning and it’s a LONG drive.  So we’re going to enjoy another day in the sun.  Lots of pictures will help us through the days when Brent’s not with us.  Most will probably be like this:


but I even like this one:


It reminds me that my baby isn’t so little any more…

Saturday, May 22, 2010


bikes and pjs 001

 bikes and pjs 002

bikes and pjs 004

My goofball guy has a new bicycle that he’s absolutely loving.  He lost another tooth and is excited that the toothfairy FINALLY got it right and brought him a toothbrush…instead of money.  And those pjs?  Those used to be Brent’s.  A LONG time ago.  Makes me laugh to see them on Ryan—I can hardly remember when Brent was this little! 


Several Sundays ago at church, part of the sermon was about ‘praying with expectation.’   That phrase has tumbled around in my head since then as I have mulled over what it means in practice, in real life.  Nothing like real life application to take the thought to the next level, though.

I am finding, though, that  ‘praying with expectation’ is much easier for me to say than to do.  I get caught up in too many things, to many doubts.  I get the principle—pray, believing that what you have requested will happen, then give thanks when it comes to pass.  James chapter 1 talks about those who don’t believe when they ask; it calls them ‘double-minded,’ ‘unstable,’ and ‘like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.’  And sometimes I see myself there.  Do I REALLY believe that God will do this for me?  Do I REALLY believe that He is capable?  I would tell you yes, but sometimes I think that in my heart of hearts I don’t trust.    I struggle with the ‘Is this what I want or is it God’s will?”  “If it’s not God’s will, is it something I really want?  How do I know?”

Last January when Brent first told us he was going to enlist in the Marines, I cried.  Buckets.  Almost every day.  I couldn’t see my baby in uniform or going to war.  Growth is frequently painful, and this has been no exception.  Waiting for him to leave, then sitting helplessly on the sidelines as he dealt with illness and injury during basic training—those were HARD.  Learning at his graduation just how serious his illness had been was even worse.  But you know what?  God’s been faithful.  I have been blessed with amazing friends who remind me (especially when it gets tough) that our prayer since December 1 has been that God would do what it takes to recapture Brent’s heart.  THAT’S a hard prayer, and praying it with expectation is not easy.  I know it will be painful for Brent.  I don’t want to see my son hurt, to see him deal with hard things.  But I also know that child and know well that he is a ‘school of hard knocks’ student.  He doesn’t learn well from the experience of others.   So while I hoped that the illness in December would serve as a wake-up call, I was fairly certain that it would take more.  How much more?  I didn’t know that.   Are we there yet?  I don’t know.  That makes it much harder to pray with expectation.  Because each injury is tougher to deal with, longer recovery, and more potential for complications.

It was refreshing to have Brent ask that we have his friend Derek contact him.  It has upped the bar for me.  Takes the ‘praying with expectation’ to the next level.  And still I struggle.  I still know what my heart wants…but is it what God would have for him?  Every Many times every day I find myself like a ‘double-minded’ person, unable to muster the faith to truly pray with expectation.

I love Casting Crowns.  I’ve spent a lot of time listening and trying to practice the faith they sing about in “Voice of Truth”

Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
You you'll never win

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I WILL choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.  It will make it easier to pray with expectation.  When it involves my children, how could I do any less?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

it’s official

I am TOO OLD to have a 2 year old around full time.  I spent the morning with a delightful 2 year old today (and her 5 year old sister.  And my two 5 year old boys.  And a 3 year old girl) but I am TIRED.  I have forgotten how much energy 2 year olds have, how many questions they ask, and how much they see to put their hands on that I don’t see.

Granted, this little one was not in her finest form, having been awakened at 6:oo AM and dropped off here at 6:30.  Her baby sister was going in for surgery and she needed a place to stay.  Her family is packing to move to a new house—when they find one.   Her life hasn’t been stress-free the last little bit, and when you add tired to the stress, it makes an interesting combination.  After her second or third meltdown, we snuggled up in the rocking chair and just rocked.  Amazing how cuddles can tame the monster within.  A few minutes later, she was back in control and had a great morning from that point forward.  I love her to death and can’t wait for her to come play again, and bring her sisters.  But I think 6:30 might just be too early.  For her, not for me.  :)

Thanks, my friend, for the privilege of loving on your girls this morning.  Know for sure that they are welcome here any time.  And Jim sends his thanks—he’s relieved to hear me say that I’m too old to do this full time now.  I think you and your girls made his day!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Can someone please explain…

…how a day can pass in a flash and feel like time is moving slower than molasses in January at the same time??  I mean really—I nearly missed getting Logan to preschool (and sent him without lunch!) because the morning passed so quickly, but this day has just dragged on and on and on.

Somehow I think that the time between now and Brent’s MRI on May 28 is going to feel like that a lot.

Looking forward to summer in a big way!  Too bad it’s going to feel so short this year.  :(

Friday, May 14, 2010


“why momma?  why does this have to happen to me…what did i do?”  ~text received last night at 8:55pm

Shortly after 8 last night the phone rang.  I asked Emily to answer as I was sitting in the living room enjoying a lively discussion with our small group.  I heard her say, “Well she’s kinda busy.  It’s small group night.  Is it important?” then heard her push back the chair and head through the kitchen.  Seeing her somber face as she handed me the phone, I knew something wasn’t quite right.  Then she whispered, “It’s your oldest son.”  My heart sank.

Finally, after 4 weeks in Basic Medical waiting for his broken wrist to heal, Brent had been given the ‘all-clear’ to resume training.  He started May 4, anticipating finishing his required 9 weeks of Infantry Training July 9.  This was the final step to complete before being able to have a ‘real’ life again and do things like set a wedding date!  But one thing I’ve learned—phone calls during training are NOT good.  Weekends are okay when they are on liberty, but during the week?  Can’t be good news.  And it wasn’t.  It seems that Brent has hurt his knee.  Possibly quite badly.  He was in tears as we talked.  The pain is intense.  The swelling is huge.  He can’t bend his knee beyond 15°. The heartache is palpable.  The answers are impossible…

The text came after we had cried together, said our goodbyes, and hung up.  How do you answer that question???  With tears in my eyes,  I told him the only things I knew for sure:

Oh sweetheart.  I can’t answer that.  But God can.  Ask Him.  And I will pray too.  I love you.”

My heart aches for this child of mine.  This Marine Corps thing has been one disaster after another. All he wants to do is FINISH and move on!  A multi-sport athlete (soccer, basketball, and baseball) turned year-round basketball player (with some golf in the spring), he’s NEVER had significant injuries.  The typical jammed fingers from basketball?  Sure.  Even a horribly swollen, purple and blue and green sprained ankle.  But that was a LONG time ago—like 6th grade.  He’s in good shape.  He did well on his military testing.  His PFT (physical fitness testing) scores were good.  He was a leader in his platoon—the first platoon.  Then he became a heat casualty and spent 2 weeks in medical rehab.  When he joined a new platoon to complete basic training, he was again put in a leadership role.  And graduated with a broken wrist.  Reported back after his leave to spend 4 more weeks in Basic Medical.  And now?  He’s back there again. Only this time it could be a VERY long time.  He will have an MRI on Monday May 28 (not Monday as we were originally told).  So we wait.  And pray.  In the meantime, my momma heart wants so desperately to be there, to fix it for him, to take care of him.  And I know his sweet Kayla feels the same way! 

Please, if you think about it, pray for Brent.  Pray for healing.  Pray for encouragement.  Pray for wisdom for the doctors, and for peace for a young man frustrated beyond measure.  Pray for both of us—ALL of us—as we hang on to Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

that we will truly TRUST that God is in control.

engagement day

~Brent and Kayla after he proposed and she said yes~

Thursday, May 13, 2010

anticipating summer

This summer is destined to be filled with delicious things from the garden.  See? 


spring in the garden 001

and cherries…

spring in the garden 003

and strawberries…


spring in the garden 006

and blueberries…

spring in the garden 009

and raspberries. 

 spring in the garden 004

A whole row!!

spring in the garden 008

Plus 4 apple trees covered with tiny apples.  The squash, corn, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and baby yellow peppers are coming along nicely.  The radishes, carrots, and beets are ready to be planted this weekend. 


And  sometimes my garden even has these:

spring 065

and these…

spring in the garden 011

And they are the very best things of all!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


This child--or his identical twin--lives at my house. It must be a genetic thing: his training has been the same as the other 5….

so far this morning…

…I’ve unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher, made 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 2 cups of coffee (not for me—I don’t drink the stuff!), cleaned up the kitchen a second time, washed and dried a small load of laundry, researched how to solve Ryan’s toe cramp problem, and gotten myself mostly cleaned up and ready to go.   Plus, I have refereed two “nerf gun” wars, answered the phone twice, and put away a box of produce.

Think I can have some breakfast now?    Welcome to Tuesday mornings at my house.  :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

2 years ago…

Day 1 001

our plane ride was over and our lives were about to change. Again. Our last day as a family of 7(minus Brent, who was at school studying for finals) was spent here:

Beijing 110

on the Great Wall. Then, mid-day on Saturday May 10 (after a nap…)


we got on the bus and headed to Philip Hayden Foundation, where Fu Xiao Tong was waiting for us. He was NOT happy to see us! See?

Beijing 138

It has taken a while, but the boy who was so unhappy to see us is now fully, totally, wholly integrated into life here. It’s been a bit of a rocky road but none of us can imagine life without him. We knew we were adopting a boy with a repaired cleft lip and repaired cleft palate; what we didn’t know is that while his known medical needs would be non-issues, the unknown medical needs would cause us to stretch and grow and develop new callouses on our knees. :) Today, dealing with hearing loss and dyspraxia of speech and developmental delays and sensory integration issues are becoming second nature. And our family is better because of it.



…and now…


Yesterday the little boys had a dream met in the afternoon. They had the opportunity to ride on a tractor with one of Daddy’s good friends. Their smiles lit up the pasture and the giggles were contagious. Far cry from 2 years ago. But then, that’s what life is—learning and growing and living and loving, sharing the joy and carrying the burdens, together.

Happy 2 years, Logan James FuTong Kassebaum. We love you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

treat for tomorrow

rainbow finger jello 002

Yum! Rainbow jello...a favorite of my big guys when they were little.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Back in March, on a really bad Saturday , we had a minor fender bender. (The Saturday was bad before the fender bender. This just added to it.) I mean MINOR--the Suburban ended up with a crack in a license plate frame (a $5 part should we choose to replace it). That's it. Nothing more, and not because the Suburban is some monster vehicle. We were maybe going 10 mph...maybe. The impact had less force than the quick stop at the end of a roller coaster. Truly, it was nothing. The other vehicle appeared undamaged. A minor scratch in the bumper perhaps, but nothing significant, and hard to determine which scratch was caused by our incident and which ones were already there. So many scratches on the back of this car....and I bet you can guess where this is going. :(

The other driver spoke no English (red flag #1). The other driver had panicked at a yellow light, coming to an abrupt stop in the intersection. IN the intersection--she didn't want to get a ticket from a traffic camera (red flag #2). The other driver was not willing to exchange information with us--she wanted ours but didn't want to give us anything (red flag #3). The other driver was in a vehicle WITHOUT a headrest on the seat (documented with pictures taken at the scene, fortunately) (red flag #4. Actually, neon sign screaming "WARNING! WARNING!") . We DID end up with her information and did contact our insurance company in case she contacted them. We closed the case on our end--no need for insurance to be involved in replacing a $5 part, right? Then we waited. For a time there was no word. Until this morning. It seems that the other driver has hired an attorney. Our insurance needs a statement from the driver at our house. Our insurance is frustrated that they have gone and done this--they were offered a 'fair settlement' for the 'damage' done by the incident, and instead chose to respond with an attorney. It could get ugly. I am frustrated. And angry. And upset. And lots of other things. I know this could turn out to be a very expensive trip to Fred Meyer for 2 gallons of milk. I have to say that I'm not surprised by it--I told Jim when it happened that if this passed without issues I would be surprised. But goodness!

Surprisingly, the one thing I am not in all of this is afraid--afraid of how it will turn out. Seeing every day how faithful God is, how much He cares for me and the littlest, tiniest things in my life has given me a sense of peace. Yes, I'm still frustrated and angry. But through it all, I know that this incident, while it seems crazy and ugly, is no match for my God. He is bigger than any of this and His provision is more than enough. I even had a fun opportunity this morning on the phone with the guy from our insurance company! :) He was looking to talk to Jim, who was (obviously) at the office. I suggested several possible times he could try again, letting him know that tonight would not work because we had company coming. His reply? "You are having people over and you didn't invite me?" Keep in mind that I have no idea who this guy is--just someone on the other end of the phone! I told him he was welcome to join us for our small group Bible study. There was a brief silence, awkward for him I'm sure, then he let me know that he couldn't make it since tonight was his daughter's birthday. (Today is Hailey's birthday too!) I let him know that the group met every Tuesday night and the invitation was open should he ever want to join us. We finished our conversation and hung up. I'm sure he thinks I'm nuts, but I had fun with it all and got a real kick out of God's sense of humor. I am SO not a people person! I do NOT just up and invite strangers to my house! I am not one to 'boldly share my faith' but God opened a door and I took the next step.

As that Saturday in March comes back to haunt us, keep us in your prayers. Pray for God to be glorified in our actions and responses. Pray that we would trust Him to provide what we need, regardless of the outcome. It would be so easy to ask to pray for this to all blow over (and the Jennifer-before-adopting-Logan would have asked that) . Instead, I want this to be an opportunity for us to see God at work, for Him to use us for His glory.

It's been a crazy, busy, chaotic, and often hard spring. Through it all, James 1:2-4 has been on my mind and in my heart:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so thta you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Mature? Complete? Not lacking anything? Then I will consider these last weeks pure joy and will seek to keep my eyes on Him.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


No, we haven't fallen off the face of the earth, although sometimes it feels like it! It's just been crazy busy and I have let go all of the 'extra' things this week....

Logan's surgery was Tuesday. It was relatively uneventful, and hopefully quite successful! The recovery's been a bit rocky. We got home while he was still getting pain relief from the IV morphine they gave him in the hospital. We settled in (and cleaned up the child who had vomited on the way home--anesthesia is not fun for him!) while Jim went to the pharmacy to pick up his Tylenol with codeine. So far, no problems. Until we gave him a dose. came back. After several more attempts (and no other pain relief!) we decided that he must be allergic to the codeine. Sure enough, he's at least very sensitive! EVERY dose was promptly vomited back up. Switched to plain old chewable Tylenol and things have been mostly fine. We're still not ready to be medication free, and he's been dealing with quite a cough the last few nights that are just really painful for the post-tonsillectomy throat. Hopefully tonight will be a better night--I'm tired! Getting up every 4 hours to give ice-cold drinks and pain medication is not fun, especially when someone else is waking you up in the off-hours. We'll see...

The ENT said Logan's tonsils were pretty average but that his nasal cavity shows evidence of allergies. She thinks that the combination of removing his tonsils and treating his allergies should alleviate his sleep apnea nearly entirely. We hope so! She didn't need to remove much of his adnoids. The ear tube replacement went smoothly in one ear, but the other ear has such a big hole from the previous tube that there's nothing she could do except clean it up and hope that it will heal itself. If not he'll need surgery to repair the ear drum. She's willing to wait 12 to 18 months to see how it does. I rather suspect that there's another ear surgery in his future. :(

Everything else around here continues at a crazy pace. Victoria's on the track team this spring, so our Thursday afternoons include time at the track. I wish the sun would come out!! This week was fun to watch, seeing her place 3rd in her event. Looking forward to better results as we move ahead. In addition, we're getting ready for Emily to graduate from high school, helping Hailey adjust to her new schedule that includes a part time job, and watching as Brent has FINALLY been released from medical to resume his USMC training! :) He picks up with a new company on Tuesday and will start Infantry training on Thursday. This company will graduate in early July, which means that sometime in late June or early July we might even begin to have an idea of a wedding date for Brent and Kayla. How fun for them! And nerve-wracking (sort of) for mom.

Now, if only the sun would come out and the weather would act more like spring! We have vegetables to plant and things to do outside!!