About 10 years ago, my younger sister, Suzanne, introduced me to a new friend of hers.  They met through work related activities.  Suzanne was serving with Young Life Capernaum in Baltimore and Terri was a mom connected to the ministry through her children.  At the time, Suzanne introduced us because (hopefully I quote this correctly) “You guys are like the same person! You HAVE to meet her!”.  Of course back then, Sean and I had just little Jacob, so ONLY GOD KNEW just how much alike we really were!!!

Jim and Terri are the overly blessed parents to 10 beautiful children.  Their family is designed by God and He built it through birth and adoption.  Over the years, God had shaped their hearts, minds, and lives to willingly answer, “Here I am Lord, send me”, I will go where you lead me”.  I am sure if you asked them 40 years ago if they thought they would have ten kids, some adopted with varying special needs, they would have said- No Way! That’s Crazy! Who us? Really?

They have walked where we currently walk.  They have survived the “Diaper years”, but they are still “in the thick of it” since parenting never ends, especially when you have been blessed with kids who have special needs.  Their “baby” is a teenager now and their oldest is a pastor in WV.  We of course can finally say we have a child in the “double digits” (our oldest is 10yrs) and diapers… well, they keep coming around here!

When we first met, Sean and I had NO IDEA we would end up so much like them!!!  We have  built a friendship over the years.  A bonding of “common hearts” for encouragement, insight, Godly wisdom, laughter, an understanding ear, and did I mention laughter- we really need that one! Of course there was also, trampoline jumping, swinging, girly stuff, piano duets with Isaac and Jacob, hikes, running around outside, cookouts that became cook-INs, trips to the fire house, celebrations at church with Beyond Capernaum, and a little much needed “man therapy” for the dads- construction! The dads spent time at their church checking out the site!–as they are building a very large addition.

This past week our families gathered together for what is becoming our annual “Palooza” time of fun, encouragement, bonding, and unsaid reminders of why our families look the way they do. Everything God designs is beautiful!  Just look at creation.  Your family, our families, are no exception.  They are created by God and for God’s glory.  Keeping that perspective is ever important as we raise our children in the “day to day”. God is sovereign and He does not make mistakes!!!  Every child is a blessing from God—sometimes we just have to shift our vision…off of ourselves, and to God’s glory.

Sarah & Sarah attached at the hip!Rachel & Jamie, swinging, dolls, nails, girly fun!SamThe Girls on our "hike" in BaltimoreThe Tunnel t the end of the hike ran under the highway- very coolA definate "Martinpalooza Moment"...What do you get when you mix two large families and a big metal tunnel?...ahhhhhhhhhHhhhh! Loud gorillas!Stephen serves at the local Fire Station.  We got to visit with him there.Josiah...."YES! a REAL helmet!"Sam loved every minute of the vsitStephen "imparting widsom" to Josiah.  Sam in the background loving that he can touch A LOT of new things!!!!Brother-sister duo in the making! Jacob and SarahSarah & Sarah on the tire swingBrave momma Terri!Josiah- one of the many times Josiah was NOT right side up during our visit.  Note the chucks of dirt on his knees and the missing shoes!Hello Static Electricity!Sophie jumping for Joy!!!Rachel and Sarah swingingOur "hike" or "stroll" through the woods.Joanna thinking, "how long is this hike- I want to nap!??"Mr Black Snake-  we met briefly on the hikeFlying Turtle Rides!!!One year ago (part of the families)our visit in 2009-  how the families have changed!!!  More have moved into our home , and more have moved out of their home.  This year we didn't get a group shot- no one was still long enough!!