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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Picture Day

We might not have had the best cooperating children, but we did manage a few good pictures of all of us. Thanks to Melissa for making it happen and Michelle from R5 Images snapping the moments! Here's a glimpse of attitudes, smiles and a few tears. 

 { Happy chaos…it only tanked further after this. }


 { Melissa has become a sister to me and will always have a family in our home. }

{ Tim, you're not looking at the camera. Charlie, what are you looking at? Myriam looks like she's dropping a terd. Happy family! }

 { At least us two got the memo about picture day. }


{ Sassy pants. }

 { Love this man. He loves me. }

 { I've always wanted a picture of Charlie's backside for his 6 year photo. Goof, turn around! }

{ Myriam, put your tongue back in. }
 { A bunch of sweet princesses. }

Well, as it clearly can be seen…. we tried. Good effort kids. Picture retakes will be soon!






Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simple: CHOOSE JOY

It can't be said more simply…I have no choice but to be thankful for the small & big things God has blessed our family with and because of it...
Praying you can choose the same!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Potential Removed; Love Replaced

Sunday night, I attended Catalyst Worship at NCCTK. It's a night to worship freely, take communion and fall deeper in love with the God who created the stunning beauty surrounding us, the super moon over the night skies, the vibrant orange and pink sunsets and beating hearts within our children's chests. There were many moments I felt God speaking directly to me and of others. 

There is no denying God put this ALL into existence.
There is no denying that no other human is possibly capable of creating such majesty.
There is no denying we serve a creative, artistic, compassionate God who loves to please His children.

It's been weighing heavily on my heart recently for those who don't have a voice. For the innocent children who may not know the simple love of their Eternal Father. For the children who don't have options until it's placed in someone else's hands beyond their control. 
I recently read a great book written by a young boy who had witnessed his family all shot to death in front of him by the rebel army in Africa. He managed to escape death and fled for many years with four other friends jumping to and from villages to dart around death, starvation and being caught by the enemy. He eventually was recruited into the rebel army and did the exact thing another boy soldier did to his family. The events in the book are beyond disturbing and to think such devastation happen to one boy was daunting. In the end he was rescued by an organization that reunites boy soldiers with the real world and introducing them to a future. I believe the system we have in place for our foster kids is much like the story besides the gruesome details; although, there are some kids who are blessed and given a chance at a better life. 
These kids fall victim to violence within their homes, pain because of drugs, emotional abuse and many are left without food because of addictions that take priority over themselves. It's heartbreaking at most and makes me want to jump into action. I can't fathom the world many live in as I was raised by two loving, caring parents who put us kids first. I had meals prepared, warm beds to sleep in, clothes washed and ready to wear. I received encouragement, had set boundaries, was given opportunity to thrive and felt loved with the knowledge taught about Jesus Christ. 
Think about an existence without that? Without knowing there is a God who loves you more than your very own parents. Without knowing God will see you through the end in whatever situation you find yourself walking through. 
I was doing some searching on Pinterest a few weeks ago and stumbled across a short film representing a child's eye of chaos. 


I found myself wrecked after watching this film. I have never suffered in my life in ways these children suffer today. What can I do? Am I living as Jesus would to help those in conflict and suffering pain?
One of the songs we sung last night spoke about the new generation; 'He Is Faithful'. I found my mind drifting to four little faces who are living in confusion. My heart is longing to love; to hold ever so tight to the little body in need of attachment. It's sometimes to much to carry and the love is waiting to burst through. 
I want to give every lost child an opportunity to shine, to thrive and know they have potential. I want them to believe they too can be the next generation to share the love of Jesus to others. I want these kids to know that God is rising up an army of brothers and sisters in Christ to make a difference! Think about if every Christian were to access their situation and honestly ask themselves, "How can I do more? Am I doing enough for the Kingdom? Am I living too comfortable or could I offer more?"
What would our prisoners of war (the foster system, the kids in our orphanages) look like if more stepped out and gave opportunity to a child's life? What if more stepped up and offered advice and became mentors to those who don't have adult examples in their lives? Would it take that much to make a difference? I believe one changed life makes a difference.
Even if it's just one person you could help or extend a hand to who is in need of something grand or small. That may be the one person that becomes a life changer and changes the world after he/she was given one chance of someone believing in them. You could be the only Jesus they know. 
What is stopping you? 
I pledge to be the voice for the faces who plague my mind. I pledge to do all I can and not stop until it's safe for those to return. I want to act as God is calling me to do and not stand in His way of His will. 
I never want to know I was given the chance of potential and denied it for selfish reasons when I could have replaced it with love. 



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Family Affair…and CeLeBrAtIoN!!!!

Recently, my parents treated us adult kids and families, to a long weekend at Bridal Falls in Canada where the skies opened up and DUMPED on us! Despite the inches of rain, we had a great time being forced to stop as we played endless games, enjoyed ourselves on the watersides and camped under my brothers redneck green tarp to stay dry. I love our yearly trips with my family! 
It started before I was in high school as my family celebrated my dad's end to chemotherapy treatments from his colon cancer with a tropical trip to Hawaii. We celebrated once again when he reached his 5 year remission marker after I graduated. The tradition continued when both Dad and Traci completed their side by side radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but this time, we had two kids to add to the mix. Since then, every year we've gone on a family trip where we make many memories and the kids get quality family time. 
Before we left for camping, My Hero had received news that her tumor markers had gone down…
20 points!!!!  That has been unheard of during this entire 7 year journey!!!
And then again yesterday, Traci got reports back again that her tumor markers had again dropped by nearly 7 points!!!
God has been SOOOOOOOOO good to us. There is no denying that truth and God's Hand in this matter. It has been too long of a journey, but we know that God has a purpose and a plan in all of the ups and downs. For now, we celebrate the amazing results and pray that they continue to gain strength in Traci's body as the cancer better be scared…it's cancer butt kicking time!
Thank you to the many who have never stopped praying for My Hero!

 { Selfie with the ladies besides Lindsay and Ashlyn. }

 { My Hero's biggest supporter and cheerleader. }

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Run, Child, RUN!

This brought back so many childhood memories from when Mom and Dad took us three kids to these exact track meets! 
Myriam was Johnny-on-it with enjoying the events and wanting to over-participate. She probably ran a mile in just warm-ups alone practicing the hurdles and running the track in circles. Charlie warmed up after a bit and started to try new things. Addison will try again next week. The best part was how well the kids slept!!! We can always work on better form next time; I was just proud of the kids trying something new! Here's a picture glimpse from our first track meet…





 { A whopping 2 feet. }


{ 4 feet 10 inches! }

{ Some are more greedy than others thinking they need more ribbons. }






Monday, June 30, 2014

10 Things That Are Happening Right Now

It's been awhile since I've had a family update with randoms and casuals from our daily lives. I've been challenging myself to take a picture everyday for a year in "the broersma 365," which is a great way to remind ourselves of the happenings through pictures. But, sometimes, that too misses the big and little landmarks we as a family have encountered lately. To get you caught up, here are 10 things that are happening right now in our home. 

1. All Comer's Track Meet at Civic field sparked my interest and we registered the kids for a few Monday nights this summer. I did this as a child and probably still have blue ribbons tucked away somewhere from the shot put, hurdles, long jump and high jump. It's a great way to have family fun and  challenge the kids in something they've never done before.

2. Potty training has begun and I promised myself that the box of diapers I bought at Costco this week would be the last, if not second to last box purchased.

3. Since Melissa and Mickey moved out, the kids have been busy planning their move downstairs with Daddy making sketches and plans of these elaborate big kid rooms. Everything is subject to Mommy approval prior… And good behavior, chores done and maybe a few back rubs too. 

4. I've been dealing with some wrist pain from a combination of working, having over-worked muscles and pushing myself too much. Honestly, it's quite frustrating when you've worked for years with no problems and use your hand, arms, shoulders with every little thing daily from washing dishes, picking up toys, folding laundry, cutting hair and when I do wear my brace, even wiping yourself. I was seeing a hand therapist in Bellingham, but got the creepers so, I asked our good friend up north to assist in my pain management. His plan was to not wash dishes for 6 months (insert sarcasm) and not cut hair until the issue has been fixed. I've since been cutting back the hours I work from home in my salon (reluctantly) and try to wear my wrist/thumb brace as much as I can. I've also had some severe shoulder pain, but have found massage to help in that pain relief. 

5. Tim has been busy traveling for work building business relationships and negotiating more projects. He moved the sales office into The Dutch Village Mall as they ran out of space in the Lynden Floor office areas. Addi has been in charge of feeding the fish and thankfully we haven't had any floaters…yet. One of the trips Tim took was to the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska where I now have some new running friends!

6. I'm currently training for 2 races: The North County Road Run 25k (that's 15 miles folks) in August and a 10K race in Nebraska, in September, with the Arbor Day running gals (this will make the 3rd state race in my goal towards all 50 states by the age of 50).

7. I've been gathering curriculum for next years school year as Addison moves into 4th grade and Charlie into 1st grade. It will be the first year they attend on campus classes with Meridian Parent Partnership Program on Mondays and Wednesdays. Organizing both kids' student lesson plans is time consuming, mind engaging and exhausting as both Tim and I want to push both kids, want the best for them and provide them with a challenging enough program here at home. Feels good to be organized and ready for the fall!

8. Addison and Charlie are signed up for swim lessons again this summer with Shannon Vogt and Charlie will be participating in a basketball camp through YMCA as well. I love that the kids are showing more interest in outside activities, but also thankful they each have their own personalities and strengths.

9. I love summer and all the beauty that comes with the hot weather. Charlie and I went in search of a swimming pool big enough for all three kids and found a great deal at Kmart…Tim's more concerned about the dead grass it will create. My hydrangeas are in bloom which are my absolute favorite! Because of Tim's busy schedule, we've had a few guys come and mow for us. I miss seeing and hearing Tim play his air drums as he used to mow and sing, but do find it nice to come home and find the yard done. I've been tending to the flower beds which I find relaxing and satisfying when completed. 

10. I'm repainting a bench and have too many different ideas thanks to Pinterest. Need to find fabric first as the seat needs to be recovered, then figure out where to put the bench or keep it in the same place and then finally paint according to fabric color. I've been in search of some old barn wood to complete a few more craft projects as I find that to be cheap therapy and thoroughly enjoy being creative. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Tropical Thank You

Thirteen years ago I met a young gal who was in desperate need of some hair help and a friend. I had the privilege of seeing styles change along with her own life as well. From short to long, brown to blond and even a few added copper high lights, the two hours in my chair gave me many years of opportunities to learn more about Melissa and speak life into her. I was able to see her mature as she headed to San Francisco for school and then come back to trade services with foils for facials. As the years continued to pass by, I witnessed Melissa suffer the loss of her father, meet her ex-husband and shortly after, meett her newborn daughter Michaela. 
A friendship had started after the first haircut and our lives continued to cross each others pathways many times over. 
About three years ago, I encouraged Melissa to attend a mom's group meeting at our church. It was the start of a journey still being walked and experienced. I believe God has placed certain people in her life for many different reasons; each one with different qualities and characteristics. In the moment, you don't see the connections from one person to the next, but after time, the pieces to the larger puzzle start to click. Whether they be a one-time meet and greet or a lasting friendship that grows over time; some people make a lasting impression that may change the course of your life. 
Melissa has changed my life and our families lives from the moment she stepped foot in our home. 
She may think the opposite. 
Almost two years ago, I got a phone call in a distressed moment to meet Melissa and then months later another call. It was the day before, that our younger sister had moved out. On this day, without hesitation or question, God placed a young mother and her daughter in need of a pillow in our home. It was a wee bit crazy at first as my cousin was also living with us. God always gives you what you need for the moment and he gave us space, patience and understanding. 
It has been an absolute honor to walk the past few years with Melissa as she navigates the new journey in front of her. Tim and I have cried alongside of Melissa, laughed because that's the only thing left to do and have taken leaps in our faith watching God offer grace, forgiveness and given us what we all needed in our distress. God has rejoiced with us and proven faithful. Our hearts have been softened, stretched and expanded. We've always been given exactly what we needed in all of our ups and downs. 
To watch one who was so broken become whole again, is one of the best rewards a friend and sister can experience. Our children are better for the many years we've opened our doors to family. We see compassion as their best quality. The kids have extended their space to others and have made those in our home feel like family. 
That is exactly what Melissa and Michaela have turned into; family. And that is exactly why it's so hard to see this next chapter begin. As we get these two settled into their own little home, it brings out many emotions. Tim and I are beyond excited to see Melissa start this new journey, in her new home. But, it feels like our oldest daughter is moving out of the home and we are left with an empty nest. For over six years we have had people living with us and this new change leaves our basement empty. Having this little family grace our home has been a blessing to all five of us. As we thought about how to send them off and to bless these two as they have blessed us, we were left with only a list of things needed. It was then the timing of a business trip and some coordinating on my part, came together for the best send off gift possible. 
With all the details in place, tickets purchased and hotel reserved, Tim and I surprised Melissa with a short, four day trip to Hawaii as a time for us to tell her how important she is in our lives. What made it even sweeter was our friend, trainer and employer Christie, joined in on the fun! The shock lasted all weekend until we stepped off the plane in Kona and breathed in the warm hibiscus air. The girls had never been to Hawaii before which made this so much fun for me to be their host and taxi. 
To be able to bless these two, who have made such impact in my life, was more of a gift to me than them.
My goal was simple: get these two to unwind, relax and have fun. 
Success.

Too often, we find ourselves getting busy with our lives and run out of time to tell someone how we feel. This trip for Tim and I, was our opportunity to show and tell Melissa how much we love her. The three of us ladies quickly changed into suits and found the resort lagoon where we saw fish, swam, floated and cooled off. The next morning after we purchased our "lazy boards," we found our spot back in the lagoon to float away our worries as we ended up doing more laughing than worrying. I had the delicious chance to introduce the ladies to Lava Java and then drive them to a public beach where we snorkeled with turtles. The beauty can't be mistaken or hidden and the only one who could possibly create such color is God Himself. Just minutes from our hotel is the University of the Nations and the Kona YWAM base where we attended Thursday night Worship. We didn't realize until we sat down that it was their graduation ceremony for ten high school students and about eight college students where some have studied in over ten countries to complete their degree. Pretty cool stuff happening in the tropics and around the world!

It was the final night over our "chicken wow wow," where the tears from all three started rolling. 
All three of us come from different family backgrounds, have experienced different relationships and have suffered pain unlike the other. But, the purpose of the trip was not to realize we experience pain in life and have scars to prove it. The purpose was to reflect, pause and remind those around us that God is indeed so good to us. Our surroundings were a physical reminder. The friends were God's gift to me. So, with the tears wiped and plates cleared we headed back for our last rest in the tropics. One last breakfast at Lava Java and stop at the ABC store and off to the airport we went. Tim gave up his upgrade to Melissa who is now forever ruined sitting in first class. Christie had the spoil alert on the way there. Some are crispier than others and we all have many thanks to aloe cream. Most of Melissa's belongings are moved and set in their new place. The cabinets are now full and our basement nearly empty. Overwhelming for her at best. 
Thirteen years in the making of this now lifelong friendship. Many lessons learned and taught. Tears wiped and laughter had. Tim and I have prayed daily for these two daughters. 
Our continued prayer is this:
Melissa, we pray you understand the importance you have in our home. We pray you know how important you are in God's eyes and how precious you are to your Heavenly Father. You're beauty inside and out has been seen by many and has not gone unnoticed. You are an amazing mother to Micky and even though there are times of frustration, you hold your ground and walk each situation with grace and extend mercy. The potential within your reach is beyond any of our comprehension and God is wanting to bless you immensely. You have sought His guidance and He will give it to you in times of need. Keep your eyes on the cross and God will give you everything you need. Wants may be for later. Tim and I pray that this new start will not overwhelm you, but excite you for your future. We pray your time in our home has been positive, uplifting and hopefully not embarrassing! You have graced our home with your quick wit, OCD, passion for Ben & Jerry's and constant humming of song. You have without question offered help with our kids and chores. Thank you for allowing our lives to merge. We pray for God's protection and blessings over your new little home.  Adjustments may happen, but God's love has never failed and never will. 
"weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
We rejoice with God for the growth in your life and the forgiveness shared with others. We rejoice for the spiritual depth had in your personal walk with the Lord and, with pride welling, call you sister and friend. Thank you for allowing us to walk beside you in one of the most painful moments of your life. It may not be something you can use in your new home, but showing you God's canvas was rewarding in itself. 
God has big things in store for you and Michaela. There is no doubting of that fact. You have overcome many things in your life, sought guidance and teaching for advice, and we are so proud of you for your personal accomplishments. God is looking down and smiling because His daughter found her Home. It's not a four wall building or found around a dinner table. Home is found when you have a personal relationship with Christ and God will always make His way clear to you no matter how messy life gets here on earth.
We are blessed because of you and Micky Doodle. Know you are loved by many who see the exact same things we have seen over the past two years. 
Walk humbly, show compassion and extend grace and forgiveness when needed. 

Aloha. (tears…)
Welcome to your Home Sweet Home.