The days go by too fast

The days go by too fast
Amazed at how the years have flown and how old we all are!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hope and Beauty in Broken Places...

Every two years we seem to face a moment of decision that changes our lives.  We met and chose to date, two years later we chose to get married, two years later we took in the boys, two years later we adopted Sophia, and two years later (this June) we chose again.  This time to take in and love a sweet girl named Morgan.  She is 13 and has really brought such joy to our home.  Her story is not one I feel is right to blog right now.  She lost her mom a few years ago, and through God's weaving, we were given the chance to be a part of another divine interruption in the life of a child.  Morgan has mild intellectual disabilities and some speech issues.  Most of the time she is smiling, hugging, helping, and just loving.  She has a great network of teachers and friends around her and we are blessed to be a part of them now too.  She has shown us again that there is Hope and Beauty in broken places. 

This summer is coming to a close and it is shocking to me all that has unfolded these past short months.  We had the gift of having my cousin Linsey be stay with us this summer.  She left last week and I cried more than I have in a long time.  She is heading back home to finish her senior year of high school and we have great expectations for all that will unfold in her life.  She loved the kids so well this summer and I wouldn't have made it through without her!  My brother Jimmy, has also relocated to Baltimore and is in the process of starting to work and find his spot in this crazy Mortenson world!  Last week we had our annual Capernaum Day Camp and all of our family including mom, aunt, and cousins, came to be a part of it.  What a gift to love our friends with disabilities, to be loved by them, and to do it with our whole family.

I said that every two years we are faced with a choice.  I take that back.  Every two years God gives us the gift of being a part of a bigger plan...the only choice is wanting to follow hard after Him and being faithful to His call on our lives.  Its our sixth anniversary this weekend.  Looking back, we might not have choosen exactly what we are living each day...but we are grateful HE chose it for us.  There really is Hope and Beauty found in broken places...there is Jesus.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Days Fly By...

Amazing! It is 2010, almost officially spring, and two years since Sophia became officially ours!  How quickly the days fly by!  Let me catch you up on our "flying"...

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary (St. Patricks Day!) of our adoption court date in the Republic of Georgia that changed all of our lives.  Two years ago today, we nervously but excitedly met her and her foster sister at a park where we wandered around and then took her back to our home for our time in Georgia.  It was the day all of our lives really changed forever.  Sophia asks me to tell her the story of the "little girl" at night before bed.  I have told her that there was a little girl who was sad (she actually told me the girl was sad before I used that to describe her and now she makes me say it) because she was not with her mommy or daddy, but that her mom and dad flew all the way across the ocean to come and be with the little girl and that they became her mommy and daddy forever.  She loves the next part where I tell her how her mommy flew back with her to bring her to her brothers and that the little girl peed on her mommy on the plane...she laughs so hard and says "and then the little girl was happy!  The End!"  So, that is my report on Sophia...she is happy!  She is so full of life and personality.  It is hard to imagine her as the little shy and timid girl we met two years ago.  We have been facing some medical challenges with Sophia recently and as we are trying to work out what everything means, we are so amazed at the way she is so able to make things like CT scans and ultra sounds a joy to do with her! She is finishing her first year at a three year old program at school and is working her way out of speech and OT as she is just learning and growing up so much. 

Jesse is almost 12 and almost through his sixth grade year at his middle school!  He has changed so much from the tiny, fearful boy who moved in with us three and a half years ago.  He has been spending time with our great friend David who runs the Athletes Serving Athletes (the group that shane did the marathon with) training one day a week with a group of foster kids in a program near us.  He has also started playing Lacrosse!  (I guess I need to work on learning the game!) He is still the smallest kid in most settings but is less upset at his size.  Jesse has still been struggling with school some and his behavior, but we are so thankful for a great counselor, and his youth group at church.  We pray daily for God to keep healing the broken and painful places inside of Jesse.  We can see so much change and pray as he keeps experiencing opportunities to grow and change, that there will be people (and friends) around him (other than us) to cheer him on this race he is in. 
 Shane is 18 years old!!!  It is funny to see people trying to understand when I tell them our oldest is 18!  Shane's year has been pretty stable so far.  In terms of his health, he has continued to lose movement in his arms and hands.  His contractures (his joints get "stuck") are getting worse too...especially in his finger and his neck.  He has been able to stay healthy this year and that is such an answer to prayer!  He actually has a strong immune system so that is a God-send.  Shane loves his new school he started late last year when we moved.  He has a wonderful Personal Assistant, Tony and is growing in his social and educational skills.  He is starting his adaptive Lacrosse this coming month.  It is something he loves.  We are working on getting him set up with some more assistive technology so he can have more independence.  My dream would be one day to have a door on a remote to open (expensive dream huh!!!) since it is so hard knowing how many things keep shane from being independent.  Those little things we take for granted, like the ability to go outside when we want to.  Keep praying for Shane to be open to making friends and for him to stay healthy this spring.
 Ben is coming into his second year of being the director for Young Life Capernaum.  It was a challenging and full year that has really helped him grow.  He still just shines when he is with kids and talking about ways to provide things for them that we again take for granted.  He has been working hard on being a great dad and husband.  The fact that we have three kids from 4 to 18 all with some sort of disability and have only been married 5 1/2 years really has felt like a crash course in parenting, medical things, marraige, and just life!  Ben has just started training for a triatholon (a half I think) with Shane. He still brings the fun to our family and there is not a day that goes by that he isn't being "crazy" (Sophia often says, "my dad is crazy!") and bringing laughter and joy into our home.  God knew to bring us together.  He is the fun one, I just make sure we dont miss our many doctors appointments!
 My life feels full...probably because it is!  I started the year praying for no hospital visits in 2010.  Well, within the first few weeks Ben had a trip to the emergency room (he was ok) and my father with a longer, more serious stay in the hospital with an aortic dissection and anurysm.  He is recovering still but it has been a miracle to see God spare his life and to bring our family together as it all unfolded.  We also began doing a lot of testing for Sophia to figure out the syndrome that has caused her challenges.  We are still working through her tests and results so please be praying for wisdom and clarity.  She was also diagnosed with moderate hearing loss in her left ear.  So, this paragraph was supposed to be catching you up on me!  I guess the medical stuff has felt like my life a bit!  I am still blessed in my job and am really grateful to be a part of a church who really wants to make an inpact in the community for the kingdom of God.  I wish I had more time to do more there but that will come.  I did get a huge gift of being able to go for five days away with my cousin Sarah.  It has been years since we have had time just the two of us and it was an huge blessing.  It was hard to come home after just taking care of myself for a handful of days!  I am so excited about spring coming and have turned into my mom as I am so thrilled to get into the yard and my garden and even mow the lawn!  It helps to live in a beautiful place!

So, there is our update on life as the Mortensons!  Everyday we are aware at the gift of another day of life, grateful for opportunites that are challenging us and growing us, thankful for our eclectic family, and working on seeing the beauty and joy in broken places.

The Mortensons

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Many leaves falling....

Ok, so I am officially a terrible blogger! I realized recently that I only do a good job at keeping things like this up during crisis times! Isn't that opposite of what it should be? It is in the "normal", everyday moments that I can't seem to make time for things like laundry, cleaning out the cars, getting a haircut, and blogging! So, here is an attempt to catch everyone up as the leaves are falling in abundance and the house is getting chilly...

-We have been in Phoenix, MD over 6 months so far and love living here! Life has certainly not slowed down but the very act of driving home through fields and farms to our house among the trees just brings a sense of peace that we really needed. We see God's hand in bringing us here and getting the kids into schools that are meeting their needs. We are blessed. We just celebrated the boys coming to live with us. We are going on our fourth year with them! Amazing.

- Ben has been working hard as the Area Director for Young Life Capernaum Baltimore. It has been a challenging season for ministry as we have had many changes. It is new season for the ministry and he is the right person to lead and love it during this time. I have spent a lot of time putting my foot in my mouth, or trying hard to not open my mouth and let him run with this. I do feel like we are in a good place as I step out and he steps up (he was always in...). Please keep praying for finances for the area and for wisdom and strength as Ben leads this ministry ahead.

-I am working as the director of Disabilities Ministries at Grace Fellowship Church and am grateful to be there. I am finding my heart for families and desire to help the fabric of the church be changed from just including people with disabilities to infusing them into the church, have found a place to grow in this role. It is the first time since we got the kids that I am working part time rather than full and that has been harder than I thought! There is more to do when you have more time to do it!!

-Shane is turning 18 in three weeks!! He is doing well at his new school and loves his assistant, Toni! We are so grateful for the people who are working with him. Shane had an amazing chance to participate in the Baltimore marathon a few weeks ago and he is doing another one this weekend through the great work of Dave and his volunteers at Athletes Serving Athletes. I have never seen Shane so happy! As I think of the past year, I realize how much Shane has lost in mobility. He is no longer able to do much by himself, but he is trying and tells me all the time how he wants to do my housework for me!! I wish he could-for him and me!! Pray as he continues to wrestle with this terminal disability. God has used his Muscular Dystrophy, but we still wish it just didn't exist!

-Jesse started middle school this fall! He went through a bit of a bumpy summer as he is still struggling through his unique gifts and challenges that make him Jesse. He is getting involved in youth group and really wants to be a part of Wildfire (young life's middle school ministry) so we are grateful that he is seeking out places where he will be encouraged to grow. He is a strong boy who loves control and yet can be so soft. Pray as he continues to work through who he is and why he is here.

-Sophia started school in the fall at a three year old program where my friend is the speech pathologist. Her heart looks great and she is really just growing so much. She is getting in "trouble" at school for helping everyone too much! I am really starting to have flash aheads to her early teen years. Please start praying for our relationship now!!! Her and Jesse have been irritating each other a lot lately, but people keep telling me that is normal! She has been feeding Shane at dinner and that is so amazing to watch. Shane loves having her do it!

So, thank you again for your prayers, friendship and love. When we think of the 5 years it has been since we were married, we can hardly take in all that has happened. We can also see very clearly how God has used it to change us, draw us to HIM, and has given us eyes that see differently than before. We pray this might be true of us always....

The "Mortensons"!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What a year!

We are so amazed at the fact that it is already APRIL! I am reminded by a friend that we have not updated our blog (so this is for you Roxy!) since Christmas time and it is really amazing how quickly three months have passed. It has been a full and challenging few months as we have had job changes and challenges, surgeries (just a small one!) the passing away of the last of our grandparents, and now a move that took place in just under three weeks!

Amazingly though, we are still keeping our heads above water and even grateful for the many ways we have seen God's hand in the journey. Here is our quick update:

Ben has gone from part time Young Life Capernaum staff to full time area director for Capernaum in Baltimore. He is so gifted at loving people and it is the perfect time for his gifts in the area. He just got the blessing of a few days away to Jackson Hole to snowboard and hang with his good friend Trace and his brother Dan.

Carissa has been working with Grace Fellowship Church as the Disabilities Ministries Director and loves it. She is really experiencing in a new way what it means to parent children with multiple disabilities and sees the need of the church to step up and in! She is maintaining a role with Capernaum as a trainer/planner for the region.

Shane is doing pretty well. We are struggling with dealing with him being a teen and dealing with a terminal disability. He will be changing schools next week and we really hope it is a gift to him as he will be able start over and meet new people. We pray for wisdom on how to love him and keep him moving ahead. He has started lacrosse this last week with an amazing group that runs a program for kids with disabilities.

Jesse is Jesse!! He is growing up and still wresting his past. We are hopeful that this move will also help him! One thing I love is that he loves Sophia. You should see his face when she asks for him... Jesse and Ben are bonding more and it is a gift.

Sophia had surgery to take her adenoids out and put tubes in to help decrease her ear infections and increase her ability to hear. She has not stopped talking since!!! We celebrated her first adoption day on St. Patricks day and the first day home on April 4th! We really don't remember life without her!

We fell into an amazing gift of a home in the country just a few weeks ago and I am writing this blog in the living room of our sweet new home. It has acres of land, is accessible, and is surrounded by horse farms, kind neighbors, and good schools. We still can't believe the gift it is.
We are mostly moved in and will keep working on it as Easter comes. Right now, the kids are spending the week in Connecticut with "gigi" (grandma) and Papa...Carissa cried when she left (first time leaving sophia AND worried her parents would never talk to her again when this is over!) but we are so thankful since this move would be so hard for them emotionally and for us as we would not be able to set the house up for them in the way we are able to now. Thank you so much Zevetchins!!

All in all, when we think back and realize that a year ago we met our daughter and brought her home as a shy, quite little girl, and now she is grabbing microphones at partys and serenading her uncle at his birthday party, we are AMAZED, GRATEFUL, AWARE that there is a God who loves us and has a distinct plan for our lives...for all of our lives. We hope that we will be people who love each other and others better for having been loved so well by the God who made us!
We hope this spring is one of refreshing and beauty!

The Mortensons!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A picture is worth....

Ok, so this last month and a half has FLOWN by and the words have escaped me to describe the many ways God has blessed our it has been busy, hard, rich, challenging, joyful, confusing, and full of life in the Mortenson home.

We are blessed and we are so thankful for a God who came and knew all that we experience...and knows how to love us in the journey.


Monday, November 10, 2008


We are amazed by God's hand on our family...

Sophia went to the cardiologist...we were told to come back in SIX MONTHS! I asked if he were sure about that...and he smiled and said that we were the best thing that ever happened to Sophia. I told him no, She is the blessing and the doctors are the best thing that has happened to her...Then I asked about when she can snowboard for Ben...She has to wait:)

We had such a gift to meet Shane and Jesse's mom's family this weekend. It was a huge blessing for us all. They did not know where they were and they were in tears as they communicated their joy at how well they were doing. We know this is not only healing for them (they lost the boys mom through a really terrible accident two and a half years ago and the boys dad would never give us their information) but a blessing for the boys and us!!

We are so thankful that God has given us doors of hope in the midst of some challenging valleys!!


The Mortensons!

**The picture above is of our kids and my brother Kenji. Jesse and Kenji are really great friends and so his visits are such a great gift!! My amazing parents came to see us and attend our fundraiser for Capernaum in October!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Two FULL years

Wow. Can you believe how much our lives have changed in two years!? Friday night, Halloween, marked the two year anniversary of Shane and Jesse moving in. I will never forget taking them through the neighborhood for candy and then tucking them into bed that night. They had never slept in their own beds or without the TV blaring in the room and so as you can imagine, it was hard at first, but Jesse became a blanket pack rat (like his "mom") and soon learned that the quiet and comfort of your own bed really is great! So, it is two years later, lots of tears, lots of frustration, but also lots of joy and the understanding that this is GOD'S thing. Tonight at dinner, Sophia reminded us to pray (she is obsessed with making us pray...make sure you look at the picture on our blog!) and then Jesse asked if he could he did, out loud and thanked God for the food and the great day....this is amazing for those of you who remember where he has come from, unable to even (verbally) express a feeling much less pray out loud! Sophia goes to the cardiologist this week to do a more in depth follow up to surgery. She is learning and just becoming her own person every minute!! She talks all the time as well as gives us a really hard time too! Shane is doing ok but we are praying much that God continue to meet him deeply as he grieves the changes happening in his body.

So, as we venture into the month of THANKS...of Shane's 17th birthday (the 25th!) and Sophia's third birthday and first ever birthday party....time with family, times with our friends with disabilities and the leaders we love, colder weather that lets us pile on our sweater and drink hot chocolate, and time to remember all that God has done....we are thankful for you...

*By the way...doesn't my husband make the best whoppie cushion ever!!:)