Mothers’ Day 2017

mother's dayAs we faced infertility, entered the world of foster care, experienced the blessing of adoption…I’ve always had mixed emotions about Mothers’ Day. But today I think I feel only gratefulness.Me and Mom

First of all, to my own strong Mother. In March of 1981, she lost her father to death. I was born in June, and seven weeks later she stood again at the graveside of a man she loved – her husband, my father. I don’t remember those first months and years much, and I’m sure she struggled to raise me and my three older sisters. But with the help of her God and the many people He sent our way, she raised us well. My childhood felt very normal and she was quick to remind us that, “we have it good. We know where Daddy is and that he loved us!” So, thank you, Mom, for all the memories you made with us, for your prayers that still follo20170315_112703w us, for leading by example what it means to depend on Jesus, for teaching us to reach out to others around us, for investing in the lives of your grandchildren who all adore you, for all those moments when you felt like giving up and pressed on, for showing up anytime we need you (even the middle of the night sometimes!) You are one of my heroes and we are blessed to have you in our lives! We love you!

And then to three other mothers. You gave life to the four children we adore. You chose life for them. We are forever grateful to you for bringing them into this world. And even though circumstances didn’t happen as you would have wished, we love you and honor you today. We love your babies as if they are our own and we teach them to love and respect you, their bio mother, who is and will forever be a part of our lives! You are loved!

And to all those women out there who are still wishing and praying and longing for a baby and are still waiting, I understand. And I pray that someday you find fulfillment in a plan that is much better than you could ever dream!


Farm Edition & Additions

We live on Wondernut Farms. We were told by the previous owner that it got it’s name because of all their projects…every time they’d go to the bank or the city with plans for something, the people would “wonder what the nuts were up to now!” 🙂

We moved here with our dog, Bailey, two hens, a rooster, and six cats (one inside, five outside.) Our steer, Buster was added a little later from his pasture at Sheldon’s parents. Two cats disappeared and we are down to only one hen named Stella.


Sweet Bailey


Waldo and my animal-lover-who-wants-to-be-a-vet daughter.













I came home one day to this scene…new chicks under a heat lamp and a very pleased little girl with her daddy…in my laundry room!

And now we are adding to the McDonald menagerie…20 ewes (unnamed because they all look the same), eight chicks (unnamed for the same reason), one ram named Samson,and a donkey named Eeyore who is supposed to protect the sheep from predators. We discovered that, although he is very good at protecting the adult sheep, he sees tiny lambs as enemies. This discovery was made rather tragically when he killed an out-of-season lamb we had named Waldo. So the equine vet was called out to geld the donkey. We were privileged to pay her to tell us that it had already been done. :/ But while she was here, we had her neuter our two tomcats. You never know what might happen at Wondernut Farms! 🙂

Next step: a guard dog. A short road trip for Sheldon and I happened today as we ventured south near the NC border for a Great Pyrenees puppy. I’m pretty sure that among the twists, turns, hills, “Beware of the Dog” signs, and rebel flags there were a good many loaded shotguns. In the boondocks, we found a lovely little farm with our cute puppy. Her name is Sasha, she’s 10 weeks old, and she’s already about 1/3 the size of our full-grown Golden Retriever! Time will tell if she’s better at this protection thing than her Eeyore predecessor! 🙂 In the meantime, did I mention she’s cute? And that she will likely be as tall as Sheldon when standing on her back legs? And that she has the instinct to view not only the sheep, but all the animals and people here as “her flock”? And she’s really cute! 🙂


Yielded & Still

I don’t remember exactly when my husband came home from work and told me he was asked to relocate to VA. I knew I married a country boy with dreams of acreage and farm animals…more elbow room away from the hubbub of Lancaster County. And I wanted to support those dreams, as long as I didn’t have to give up too much!

So, he married me. A girl who grew up in the heart of Lancaster’s Amish country, a few miles from pretty much anything. My first job was at a market stand in Philly, I worked at a restaurant with tourists, we could walk to Rockvale Square Outlets from my childhood home, went to school where tour buses would pass slowly to look at all the Mennonite children at play, thrived surrounded by people, loved the “rat race” of lots of plans. Not to mention that my Mom and sisters, nieces and nephews are very important to me. I was so homesick in Romania sometimes that I thought I wouldn’t survive.

When the VA “bomb” dropped, I was sure it would be something we’d think about and that would be as far as it would go. I prayed for closed doors…no house, no church, no school for the children. But as time went on and everything fell into place, Sheldon got more excited about it, things moved forward, I felt like I was smothering with panic. How would I ever survive an interstate move? How would I ever adjust to another…life, so different from the one that was comfortable? On the outside, I was a submissive, sure-I’m-excited, no problem kind of wife. I started to feel like I was allowing a wall to be built in our marriage. Can’t he see that it won’t work? I’ll fall into deep depression! I won’t function! I CAN’T DO THIS!

I was feeling convicted. I knew in my heart that this was God’s will for our lives. Too many things worked out too well for it to be a series of coincidences. I fought it, oh, how I fought it! And few knew the battle raging inside my heart. I wanted to come to the place where I not only supported Sheldon’s dreams, but also shared them. And only a miracle would make that happen.

One morning in April 2016, I woke with a song in my head that I didn’t even know well…but the words swirling in there were, “And when you’re tired of fighting, chained by your control, there’s freedom in surrender. Lay it down and let it go.” Sheldon was leaving for a two-day trip to VA. We were recovering from a fever/achy flu. I was weepy and I remember praying, “OK, God. I’m so tired of fighting this. Just take this whole VA mess and help me allow you to make it a beautiful thing.” I was trying to pack. Sheldon’s mom had offered to keep the three youngest children so I could do just that. I drove Bella to school late that morning having allowed her to sleep in to make sure she was fully recovered from her sickness.

As we drove, I finally came to the place where I felt ready to give up. Almost to school, I felt a terrible headache come on. I got out of the vehicle and pain shot down both legs. I tried to decide if I should drive home or tell someone I didn’t feel well. But what was wrong with me? I didn’t want to make a scene for nothing. And who would I call? Sheldon was 4 1/2 hours away. So I left. The pain became more intense. I couldn’t even think. I remember very little of the drive home (about half an hour) except for saying, “Jesus, help me,” over and over. And one other thing I remember. The song that I woke thinking about? It played on the radio.

I pulled into the garage, stumbled to the bed, wrote a text (didn’t send it) to Sheldon that said, “If I don’t wake up, I love you!” I’m not the kind to think everything is a spiritual attack, but this sure felt like it! It was like I yielded my control of our family’s future and made Satan mad. I slept fitfully for about an hour. By then, I had weird numb spots…my face, my feet, my hands. I was starting to think migraine. I called my mom and told her that I’m home alone and I think I’m having a migraine. But what if it’s a stroke or something else? So I asked her to call me in an hour to check on me. (Hey, what are moms for right? 🙂 )

I was also convinced that I had a panic attack. I called Sheldon and told him what was going on. He wondered if he should come home and I told him I’d be okay. Then after I hung up I thought, “No, I won’t! Please send him home, God!” A few minutes later, Sheldon called to tell me he was not staying in VA with me feeling so strange. “Thank you, Jesus!”

I began packing in the girls’ room. I carried the radio to the room to see if I could get it to work. That station never worked in the house before, but I thought I’d try…it came in clear as a bell. I thought, “About 2 hours ago, ‘that song’ played. A good radio station doesn’t play the same song that often.” Guess what one of the first songs was? (It is now “my song” and probably will be forever!) So many moments through that long day when I could see my Father saying, “Whatever is in your future, I’m here. You’re not alone. I love you. You are mine. I’ll be the same in VA as PA. Trust Me.”

The next days were some of the lowest I’ve ever experienced physically and emotionally. (After my seizure in October, we wonder now if it was seizure activity I experienced. We’ll probably never know for sure.) But I had a peace and security unlike any I’d ever known before. All the walls and fears and worries were stripped away. People were so supportive. We felt so carried through it all.

And Virginia has been one of God’s good gifts. We all love it! And even this PA-lovin’ girl married to her country boy is learning to enjoy southern, small town living. It’s a different culture…but that’s another story for another time! And those fears I had about not surviving and debilitating homesickness? They never happened…my Father was right, as always. Oh, I have imperfect days, trust me! But I’ve learned that surrender is sweet when you can trust the One you are surrendering too.

And “my song”? Give it a listen sometime…


Life Is Good

Life happened. It’s been filled with changes. We’ve had good and not so good experiences. And I keep thinking I need to get back to blogging again.

So, I looked today and saw that my last post was over a year ago!

One of my 2017 goals is to blog more faithfully. We shall see if this happens. I unfortunately have a habit of jumping into projects with both feet and then forgetting to follow through. Or maybe I’m too lazy to follow through! :/

I’ve always reacted to the overused “Life is Good” quote. The truth of the matter is that life here on earth is sometimes not good. People we love get sick, we face fears, we deal with overwhelming issues, we watch others hurting. But I like a song that says, “Life is good, ’cause God is. Life is good, ’cause I’m His!” That’s a quote I can agree with! And so even in those sicknesses, fears, overwhelming things, hurts…I can believe that because my God is good, life can be good too.

It’s been a year that I wouldn’t want to relive…but through it all, God’s been there. He’s carried us. He’s sent people to show us His love. He’s blessed us in so many small ways. He’s provided for all of our needs, plus some wants.


Adoption Day!


In April, we were privileged to adopt our fourth child. She is a joy and delight and adds so much laughter to our home. I’m afraid she gets a little too much attention…hopefully she can grow up without being too spoiled! 🙂


Our new house!



In June, we packed up the last of our belongings and began the trek to VA. I just never thought I’d be a southern girl. But here I am. Don’t ever tell God you won’t do something. Coming to the point of surrender to our move and new life is another story for another time. But surrender is sweet, and I am loving our new location, spring-like weather in February and all! Our house is old with lots of surprises. Some have been good…some have been “oh dear” moments. 🙂 I feel like I finally have things organized to the point that I can start to add some personal touches and that has been so much fun.

In October, I woke in ICU not remembering the two previous days. It was such an odd feeling. It has been a journey of faith for us as we wait for doctors to figure out why I had a seizure and what they should do. We are in good hands and know that God has a reason for everything. Not driving for six months has been a trial, but I’m counting down the last two months of that too…and we have had so many people who have helped out. Truly they are the hands and feet of Jesus to us!

So, I shall return to my Saturday projects. And we shall see if I reach my goals to meet you here more often! Then again, maybe it will be another year until I’m back! 🙂 Only time will tell…

No Second Best

Sixteen months ago we added to our family. Babies change things. Especially foster babies. Along with adjusting to a new little person, I went for two visits a week. So life happened, life was crazy busy, and an unexpected blogging hiatus happened too. Before we got Little C, my blogging was intermittent at best – non-existent at worst. 🙂 I didn’t realize it had been so long since I put my heart on here.

I try to pick something specific to be thankful for at each Thanksgiving. This year it is this…GOD HAS NO SECOND BEST!

For the first five years or so of marriage, I was sure that having a bio child was God’s best for us. If I just prayed enough, bargained with God enough, prayed Hannah’s prayer enough. Surely God knew we would do our best to raise our children for Him? But if that wouldn’t happen, we did have the option to adopt. However, that would be only the alternative, the second best, an option we’d turn to if all else failed. I had a talk with a friend also facing infertility and she assured me that she felt like adoption was God’s very best for them. I couldn’t understand. Children are a heritage from the Lord. Surely that meant “our own” children, not someone else’s.

Then God made us ready to pursue adoption – both ready at the same time. This hadn’t happened before. When I saw Bella for the first time with her black, untrusting eyes peeking out from under a pink hat and a shock of black curls…I knew. And five years later I still know. These children were MEANT for us. No, God doesn’t plan for birth parents to fail and sin, and it breaks His Father heart for a child to know rejection. But before the foundation of time, He knew. He knew the tears that would fall from our eyes as we experienced the pain of infertility. He knew that there were four precious children who would need the love we had to offer. He knew that He would bring us together in a beautiful picture of the visible Gospel. And He knew that my heart would change and I WOULD NO LONGER CHOOSE MY WAY ANYMORE, MY FIRST BEST AND SECOND BEST WOULD CHANGE PLACES. 

I am the mother of four children who are mine in every way that matters!


It’s Enough

My heart was so heavy this morning as I thought about all the pain going on around me right now. None of these situations am I personally involved in, but I have experienced loss and grief and hope mingled with brokenness…

…A young mother (my mom) asked to give up her husband and raise four daughters without him.

…Two little boys battling cancer when no child should ever have to think about blood counts, chemo and brain tumors.

…A young man also fighting cancer instead of dreaming of graduation, a possible career and family.

…A class of seniors who have worked hard to make a trip to Grenada happen, the life of a classmate lost in a drowning accident when they should be making fun memories.

…A mother who will be required to give up her baby because of choices she has made. How is that I was born to a Mom who loved me and showed me how to live Godly by example, but this woman was not?

…Girls kidnapped because they want an education, abused children, wives betrayed by ungodly husbands, unwanted babies murdered before they take their first breaths while other mothers mourn their miscarried or stillborn child, mothers and fathers who pray for a wayward child but see no results…

I was questioning and praying and turned on the CD player. And this is the song I heard…

Great Physician, why the sickness?                                                                              Loving Father, why the orphan?                                                                                 Lifegiver, can’t you see the barren womb?                                                                          Good Shepherd, where’s the lost sheep?                                                                       Provider, why the hungry?                                                                                                       It seems there’s so much You could do.

But it’s enough for me to know that it’s under your control                                                      Though your higher ways I don’t understand.                                                                         I’m trusting not in what I see. By faith I believe.                                                                    It’s enough for me to know that You can.

God forbid my selfish questions.                                                                                   Please forgive my desperation.                                                                                            It’s not for me to know how and when.                                                                                    Your miracles are more than fables.                                                                                       I believe You’re still able!                                                                                                        And it’s enough just to know that you can.

It’s enough for me to know that it’s under your control                                                      Though your higher ways I don’t understand.                                                                         I’m trusting not in what I see. By faith I believe.                                                                    It’s enough for me to know that You can.                                                                                 Song by Daryl Petersheim, sung by Garment of Praise

And when my children found me in a heap of weepiness on the kitchen floor :/ I tried to explain that I’m homesick for Heaven, and tired of all the hurting and dying and crying. My precious children gathered around me, gave me hugs, Rylan prayed for me, and I felt loved and blessed. Then wise-beyond-her-years Bella asked if she should pray for the boy that drowned. I told her she could pray for his family and friends, but he didn’t need to be prayed for anymore because he was in Heaven. She gave me a “duh, Mom!” look and proceeded to pour out her little heart to her Daddy. “…And Jesus, I know they’re probably crying right now. But help them not to be sad because the boy isn’t sad anymore because he’s in Heaven!” I cried some more tears, but these were bittersweet.

So I’ll continue to live and love and laugh. And I’ll still be homesick for Heaven!

Forgive as you have been forgiven

I’ve been thinking I need to update here again, however, I want each post to be from my heart – not just something I conjure up to fill cyberspace.

Today I got another glimpse of why Jesus told us to become as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…

I have a little boy who especially knows how to push buttons to make this mommy lose her cool. Yes, sometimes (more often than I wish) that happens. So, today I was at that place I wish I’d never go and needed to apologize for unkind words and (gulp, feeling vulnerable here) some discipline that took place in anger.

Big blue eyes looked into big brown ones full of tears as I said, “I’m so sorry Mommy got angry! I love you so much! Will you forgive me?” And the tears spilled over as he took my face in his hands and said, “Yes! I so glad you my mommy!”

And that’s how I want to forgive, because that’s how I’ve been forgiven