Harder Family

Harder Family

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Adventures Continue...

Deuteronomy 11:19 "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up." 

There have been some new and exciting things happening in our lives:

As a parent, we all want what is best for our children. The most important thing for us as parents is that our children know God and have a deep relationship with Him. It takes priority over everything...school, sports, success. From the first day we started homeschooling, we decided that we would take a year at a time. We also discussed that each child is different and we wanted them to feel successful wherever they are. For example, Abigail and Grace are part of Torrey Academy, which is through Biola University, and are taking College Prep Science online this year for school. These programs challenge them and it allows someone outside of their mom, to give them grades. It has been amazing to see them rise to the occasion and work hard in these classes. 

DJ attends a local homeschool co-op Monday-Thursday from 9-2pm every day. He has been loving the program and the kids at his school. This is what he needed to succeed. Let me just stop right here and say what an awesome God we serve. Wayne and I had been praying for months what to do for DJ for school. Public school wasn't the best option for him, and neither was homeschool. He needed his parents to be his parents and not also his teachers. He had a hard time differentiating the two. Meanwhile, God moves us to Kentucky to a smaller town near Lexington and what do we discover? This answer to our prayer...a school perfect for DJ's needs with amazing teachers with special needs experience! God is so good!!! God also provided a counselor for DJ who not only is an adoptive mom herself, but she has had experience working with kids with autism, kids adopted from China, and uses connected parenting methods/play therapy. We have seen DJ get stronger and grow so much since we moved to KY. 

The rest of our children have been doing more traditional homeschool with me, with a few online courses as well. Sophia has been desiring to go to school for about two years. In the last few weeks, she kept asking about going to school. She said she needed to be motivated by others. She is very competitive and she said she didn't have anyone to compete with at home and she really wanted to be challenged. Last year, she had kids from church that participated in a once a week class. She was able to compete with them and it kept her appeased. Since we moved, we haven't been able to plug into anything like that in KY. After praying about her request, Wayne and I decided last week to enroll her in the local public school. It was a heart-wrenching decision, but one we felt was best for Sophia. The first week I doubted our decision when she came home sobbing that she hated school and wanted to come home. We had agreed before we sent her that she would need to finish the entire year to help teach her follow through. By the end of the week, Sophia was enjoying school and meeting new friends. Sophia is most excited about being part of band and getting to finally learn how to play her clarinet! We pray together each morning about Sophia using this opportunity to be a light in her school. This is where all the things she has learned at home and at church get put into action. This is her mission field!

I say all of this because too many homeschool families get lost in the concept that homeschool is the only way. I love homeschooling and it has been the best decision for us up until this point, but we also know that everyone is in different places and each person needs to do what is best for each individual child in their family. In this case, we are praying that Sophia's needs for her education will be met at school. No school is perfect, including homeschool, so we are excited to see her do her best in this new environment and see how God uses it go grow her.


Another exciting adventure took place last week. Last week we participated in an outreach at UK regarding international missions. About a month ago, we met with Christian Student Fellowship's (CSF) missionary. We wanted to find out ways we could get involved with international students at UK. Two years ago at Thanksgiving, we hosted college students at our house in Chicago. It was such an amazing experience for our entire family and we wanted to participate in something like that again here in KY. Not only did we find out information about hosting students at Thanksgiving, we discovered a huge outreach through the college to international students. There are two things that God has given me a passion for, missions and orphan care. 

Wayne and I signed up to be language partners with an older student. We also discovered a group that works with refugees in the area. Wayne and I are so excited to get plugged in and participate in these ministries. This is another HUGE answer to prayer. We had tried to get involved in Chicago, and God kept shutting the doors. We weren't sure why, and then we moved. Since arriving in KY, God keeps opening doors. It reminds me of our attempts to foster/adopt years ago and God shutting the doors. Then when we were least expecting it, God opened the doors. We aren't sure what God has in store for us, but we will place our seeds out and see where God wants us to serve. We know that He will guide us and will open/shut doors as He deems to fulfill His purpose. 

The event that we attended this last week at campus was so encouraging. There were about 350-400 students from the different Christian organizations on campus that met together to talk about how to serve the international community on campus. The worship music was filled with the Holy Spirit and the testimonies of people who have been called out of these groups to serve the Lord as missionaries was touching. One couple serves the Lord overseas in a special country. Their testimony was one of my favorites. They were called by the Lord about 20 years ago to go. My favorite part of their story was an older missionary grabbing the husband by his hands and with fire in his eyes telling this younger man to take his family and just go. Don't waste time, just go to the people, they need to hear about Jesus! God has used them in amazing ways because of their obedience. 

It reminds me of Matthew 9:36-38 "When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'" We were challenged a few weeks ago by a visiting missionary to take part in the 9:38 challenge. At 9:38am and pm, the challenge is to pray that God would rise up laborers to go to the field and reap the harvest. When you hear of people responding to God's call to go, it touches your heart. At the UK event, they stressed that not all of us are called to GO, but we are all called to take part. So either you go or you send others (support them in going). To take this a step further, John Piper said, "If you are not going, and if you are not sending, then you are disobeying." We are all called to take part in the Great Commission. In fact, we are all missionaries. Wether we are called overseas or right at our jobs, we are called to share the gospel with everyone we meet. 

The most convicting part of Tuesday night at UK was the poem that the missionary read from a local Asian believer to others around the world. It reminded me about what we read in Hudson Taylor's life story. A man spoke to Taylor and said, "I have long sought the Truth, as did my father before me, but without finding it. I have traveled far and near but have never searched it out. In Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, I have found not rest, but I do find rest in what we have heard tonight. Henceforward, I am a believer in Jesus...How long have you had the Glad Tidings in England?" Taylor was ashamed to tell him and vaguely replied, "For several hundred years." The man responded in astonishment, "What? Several hundred of years! Is it possible that you have known about Jesu so long ,and only now have come to tell us? My father sought the truth for more than twenty years and died without finding it. Oh, why did you not come sooner?"

I will end with this poem. Pray that God shows you what He wants you to do in response to this powerful message from our sister in Christ!

Where Are You? 

You who are fortunate enough
to know what it means to be saved?
Where are you who have been 
washing in the blood of Jesus Christ?

Where have you been?
Can't you see that we are in agony?
Didn't Christ command you to come to us?

The world is perishing in it's darkness.
Thousands are dying in the flames of Hell.
Have mercy, and come to us;
we beseech you to come!

We are clad in rags of ruin;
totally bankrupt; only God can help us now!
But will we have a chance to hear His voice?
His peace and His salvation...
will we have access to them?

Where are you?
Where are the bears of light?
We call out to you, but there is not answer...
have you fallen asleep?
Where are you?

~Poem by a Central Asian believer

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Country Experience and a New Member of our Family

"Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country." Deuteronomy 28:3

After living in the city of Chicago for 18 years, moving to a smaller town in Kentucky has been an adjustment. I have to admit that most of the changes have been welcomed: the slower pace of life, less traffic, country air. Last week, we were informed about an event called Court Days. Wayne and I decided to check it out, since we had heard it would be a way to experience Kentucky. Court Days was unlike anything I have attended before in my life. It was like a huge flea market, garage sale, animal sale, carnival food, and masses of people all wrapped up in one event. If you can think of something to buy, it was probably for sale. We saw chickens, miniature goats, ducks, turkeys, bunnies, pigs, etc for sale. We also saw thousands of guns and knives for sale and hundreds of people who had purchased said items. I snuck a picture of one such customer as he was carrying a gun on his back and a hand gun in each hand. I have to admit when I saw some of this, I couldn't help but wonder what people in Chicago, if they were instantly teleported to the event, would think. We enjoyed purchasing apples from the local Amish, picking up Sophia a pair of nice cowgirl boots for her 4H class, and eating some fried pie. As we were leaving the event, we even found a new member of our family, Bandit. Yes, we added another animal to the house. This time it is a kitten, who will hopefully grow up quickly and be a fierce mouse hunter. We found two mice in traps in our basement garage! Seriously, the day before Court Day, Wayne said we would be looking for a cat. Little did we know that 24 hours later we would be the proud owners of a kitten!

There is a gun in each hand and one strapped to his back. At least he is part of the 4H Shooting Club!

We have also been working on a huge project at our new house in Kentucky. We recently took out trees that were dying, were already dead, or were in a bad spot. We also extended and widened our drive way. My yard is a huge mess, but I know that the end result will be worth it. The next step will be to re-landscape the yard. I have been taking notes and pictures of plants that I would like to plant in the yard. We are hoping to replace the old trees with fruit trees. I am exited to see how it all turns out. 

Prayer Requests:

Our sweet friend Emily, who is 17, just found out that her brain cancer hasn't responded to the treatment she was on. She is currently on her way to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to see what other treatments would be available to her. Please pray with us that the doctors have wisdom and can help Emily. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

MRI Day: Scanxiety and Results

Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

This morning was Wayne's MRI. I noticed this week that I was struggling with patience and everything seemed really big. Have you ever experienced that? Something that would normally feel small suddenly feels like a giant? That is how last week felt. One morning during my quiet time, God showed me that under the surface, I was feeling anxious about Wayne's upcoming MRI. I thought I was doing okay with everything. I even tell people I have faith and trust God with the future, but in reality, in the depths of my heart, I struggle with fear sometimes. Fear of the future without my husband, fear of the unknown. Some people call the week before the MRI the week of scanxiety time. I can attest that it is a daily battle to surrender my trust to God and not allow fear to rule. 

This morning on the drive to Northwestern, I had to once again surrender the fears that were swirling in my mind. Since we had overlapping appointments, I had to take Shan Chen to his prosthetic appointment while Wayne went to his MRI and neuroncology appointment alone. Two hours later, when my phone finally rang, I have to admit that I held my breath waiting to hear the news from Wayne. When he told me it was another clear scan, I felt like I could finally breathe. Daily surrender to trust. We are all called to do that, but sometimes it takes "BIG" things in our lives to force us to take this step. 

I hate to admit that too many times I take for granted each day that I have with Wayne. Every four months, I am reminded of this truth. I am also reminded each time we hear of someone else passing away from brain cancer. When I answer someone's questions about "how we've made it this long and what is the secret", I have to tell them there is no secret. For some reason, God has allowed us to continue on this journey, while others journeys have ended. I will share what we have done, but I don't think it is what we have done that keeps Wayne here. It is because God isn't done using Wayne yet and He has some other plan for our lives. We just have to daily live fully surrendered to Him and not waste a moment of this life that He has given us. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Joella and Life Lessons

James 5:13 "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise."

Proverbs 17:22 "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

In the last 48 hours, God has been teaching me so many things. How many of you have learned lessons from you own children? Jesus told his disciples to let the children come and that they should receive the kingdom of God like the children. I think there is so much beauty to this when you actually see the faith of a child in action. Throughout our 24 hour adventure in the hospital, Joella maintained such a joy. She lit up every room she entered and smiled at every doctor and nurse that worked with her. While my heart was battling worry and felt heavy, she kept the mood light. She joked that she was spoiled at the hospital because she was being treated like a princess. This is the same girl that braved three attempts to put in an IV. Do you know what she asked for? Two bottles of gatorade for being brave. When she later met the UK football players, she told me that she was so lucky to be at the hospital that day to meet them and that her siblings were going to be jealous. Yet at the same time, when offered more footballs for her siblings, she said that would be a great idea because they would love that. Finally, right before we were discharged, the toy man came around and gave her a toy. He only delivers toys on Tuesdays, and she once again looked at me with her big eyes and a smile on her face and said, "Man, I am so lucky to be here on a Tuesday. I have been so spoiled while in the hospital!"

Instead of looking at the hard times she experienced (poked for blood, IVs, MRI sedation, EEG, etc), she focused on the beauty of being in the hospital and all that she was blessed with during that time. I felt challenged by my own seven year old daughter. While I prayed and trusted God during this event, I didn't express the same joy that she did. She was such a testimony to the love she has for Jesus. All the medical staff loved her and she brought joy to each room she entered. Oh, to have the faith of my sweet girl and be a shining light to the world around me. 

Joella's biggest concern today was making sure she was well enough to attend AWANA! She loves her leaders and has been working hard on memorizing her verses. We made sure she had her medicine and we moved on with life like normal. We aren't sure what our new normal looks like for her, but we are trusting God, who knows everything and is not surprised by the course of events that transpired. How comforting is that to know that God knows and He is providing and leading each step of the way? 

Another lesson that God taught me in the hospital was gratitude. How often do we take for granted that we can rush our child to an ER or doctor when they are sick? We have been so blessed to be born in America where we have access to healthcare that many parts of the world would dream about. So many times we get caught up in the polictical issues surrounding healthcare that we forget just how blessed we are in America. I never want to take for granted all the blessings we have...clean water, clean air, food, medical. There are many parents who are unable to provide these basic things for their children not because they don't want to, but because they are unavailable just because of where they were born. During the 24 hours in the hospital, I used the down time to read the Bible and a book that Abigail gave me called "Something Needs to Change". Wow! If you are looking to be challenged, read this book. David Platt shares his journey through the Himalayas and the remote villages he encountered on that trip. He expressed the pain of hearing stories of children dying from preventable diseases and how these people had never heard of Jesus. As I sat in the ER with Joella, who was getting top quality medical treatment, I couldn't help but think about the thousands of children around the world who die from preventable diseases. My heart broke thinking about the thousands who die daily and how they do not know the God of the universe. Throughout the course of the book, David shares some of the things his heart had to wrestle with as he encountered urgent needs, both spiritual and physical. The goal in his book was to express the call we all have as believers to make our life count in a world of urgent need. I loved this part toward the end of the book: 

"Jesus is coming back, and it could be anytime. You are standing right now on the doorstep of eternity, and you are not guaranteed tomorrow. So run while you still have time today. Live with a holy sense of urgency, as it today could be your last...our homes and our health and our bank accounts and our vehicles and our jobs and our comforts in this life guarantee us nothing in this world. One day they're all going to be gone, so we need to remind ourselves to live today for what lasts forever. We need to run for our own sake, and we need to run for the sake of others...and not just for their sake. Ultimately for His sake. For the glory of Jesus in a world where He wills to be known as the One who alone can save from sine, heal the deepest hurt, and give eternal life."

That has been what we have tried to do with our lives since Wayne's diagnosis with terminal cancer...live each day to the fullest for God. And yet, God has shown me that we have slowly allowed the distractions of this world to pull our eyes off of God. I need to keep my eyes on Him, not only for my own benefit of growing closer to Him, but also for the benefit of those around me who need to know what a wonderful Savior He is. I need to stay focused for my children, my extended family, my neighbors, my community, my country, and the lost people around the world. I should be on my knees crying out to God to rescue the lost around the world instead of crying about how "unfair" life is when hard times come. God is good and He has a plan and I need to rest in that knowledge and trust Him.

David Platt then he ends his book with a challenge and these words:
"...the more you give your life spreading the love of Jesus in a world of urgent need, the more you will experience the joy of Jesus in your life. I promise you there are few things more fulfilling than bringing hope to the hurting, becoming family to the forgotten, announcing freedom to the captive, and leading those on a road to eternal death to know eternal life...What something needs to change in your life to effect change with the hope of Jesus in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need?"

Do you need to experience more joy in your life? I know that I want to experience more joy in my life. I have been challenged by hearing other people's stories of how God has used them. Today a friend shared her story of how God has used her trial for His glory and you could see joy on her face as she shared her testimony. God's love and joy just radiated on her face. How many of us would have complained about the hardships we encountered and how unfair life is to us? 

Another sweet lady I met in North Carolina last year has been sharing the story that God has written through their lives. Wow! Seriously take the time to read their story and see what bold faith looks like when someone fully surrenders to God and His call on your life! (Visit their website to read their story: http://sageharvestjerky.com/blog/). While you are there, buy some jerky. They use the proceeds to help other families adopting and also to help fund children's surgeries around the world! 

Finally, I just want to thank all of you who prayed for us, reached out to encourage us, and offered us help and meals! The body of Christ is a beautiful gift!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Update on Joella

Here is a quick update on Joella. I took her to the ER last night after she experienced another odd episode of vomiting, intense pressure in her head, confusion, and memory lapse. This is the sixth episode since June. We originally thought she was having heat exposure and was dehydrated. Yesterday’s event didn’t follow the pattern and considering Wayne’s brain cancer, we wanted to make sure nothing serious was going on.

After a long night in the ER, they finally moved us to a real room at 5am this morning, a mere hour after Joella decided she had stayed up late enough to prove to her siblings she could stay up all night. That means mom got under two hours of total sleep!

Around 10, they took her down for an MRI. Thankfully, that came back normal! God is good!! I know I can trust God with my children, but my poor mind had to come be checked numerous times to not think about it being a brain tumor. Joella is so easy to please. All she asked after her MRI, where she was sedated so she couldn’t eat or drink all morning, was for a blue Powerade and jello! 

After we returned to the room, Joella had some special visitors from the UK football team. They gave her a signed football and spent some time talking to her about her siblings. They told her if they pick on her too much, they will come and set them straight! 

Joella had an EEG around 2pm. We just got the results. They found spikes in her frontal lobe activity on both sides. They have diagnosed her with general epilepsy. She will be on anti-seizure medicine, the same one as Wayne. We will have to follow up with the epilepsy team here at UK.

Thank you for all of your prayers for our family during this time! 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Trip Out West

Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."

I am finally getting around to writing a post about our trip this summer out west. Life has been crazy since we returned from our trip. We have been busy unpacking and trying to get settled before out next school year begins. We will officially start school this year after Labor Day to give me more time to prepare.

I forgot how the west manages to take my breath away. Although the Midwest has its own beauty, there is nothing like the majesty of the huge mountains out west. Creation screamed God's name and His majesty!

Trip Summary: 
- Approximately 7,600 miles traveled
- 8 National Parks (3 new junior ranger badges)
- States Visited: KY, IN, IL, NE, WY, IA, UT, NV, CA, OR, WA, ID, MT, SD, MN, WI.
- Animals spotted: pronghorn, bison, black bear, elk, white swan, mule deer, bald eagles, seals, whale, chipmunk, ground squirrel, trout, rock fish, squirrel, rabbits, osprey, ducks, geese, cattle, wild horses, hawks, falcons, ravens, coyote, deer, chickens, goats, starfish, crabs, barnacles, salmon, rainbow trout, minks, quail, turkey, gulls, doves, giant slugs, silk worm, butterflies, koi fish, sea snails, goldfish, snails. 

Our trip out west started with a lot of driving. We drove to California in 3 days! Along the way we stopped to see Salt Lake in Salt Lake City; the Great Salt Flats, which ended up being covered in six inches of water; the Jelly Belly Factory; In-n-Out in Reno; and Donner's Pass. Our first stop was Santa Rosa to visit Wayne's sister, Karen and her family. We also managed to see a few friends while we were in town, as well as visit places that our part of our first years of marriage (see pictures below). We visited Muir Woods and the Golden Gate Bridge while in California!

Then we traveled to Grass Valley to visit Wayne's grandma and his aunts/uncles. From there we traveled through Chico to visit Wayne's other uncle and aunt as we headed up to Washington. We stopped at Crater Lake on our trip up to Washington. We then visited Wayne's parents for a few days before heading to Seattle for the day and then on to Canada for our mission trip.

Our trip to Copper Island was amazing, as it was last time. There is something special about working long, hard days knowing that it is a privilege to serve God! The kids were anxious at first to take the trip with another youth group. During the week, they ended up making amazing friends! We all left the week exhausted, but satisfied that we did our best to serve Jesus on the island. 

From Copper Island, we traveled back to Washington to spend some more time with Wayne's family. We managed to visit the Lewis and Clark National Park. We also took over a six mile hike at Silver Falls in Oregon and played at the beach at Frenchmen's Bar. The kids had an amazing time with their cousins.

From Washington, we traveled back home and stopped at Crater of the Moons on our way to Idaho. I was supposed to run a half marathon in Idaho, but it was canceled. We used the days there to visit Yellowstone (we drove around the entire park in one day) and the Grand Tetons. We will be visiting the Grand Tetons in the future again! From Idaho, we traveled to Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, and the Badlands. It was a great trip full of lots of family and memories, and many miles!!

Some people ask us what our kids do all day in the car when we drive for all those hours. The main thing they do is read, play games, sleep, and eat. We continue to make as many memories with our kids as possible. All of us should do that in our lives, but when you love someone who has a terminal cancer, you feel even more pressure to take lots of pictures and make as many memories with the kids as possible. We continue to trust God with Wayne. We know that God has numbered Wayne's days, not the doctors. 

I was able to meet up with my cousin Heidi and her family at Howarth Park.

Wayne and I celebrated 20 years of marriage this year, so we visited all of our old stomping grounds in Santa Rosa. We visited Yogurt Farms where Wayne proposed to me since that was our favorite place to go on dates. We also visited Cattlemen's and Fountain Grove Inn (which burnt in the fires) since that was where we celebrated our 1st anniversary. We also took a few walks around Spring Lake, which was another favorite for our cheap dates. 

Our first apartment in Santa Rosa.

Where Wayne and I went to college.

We visited Luther Burbank Center where we got married. They changed the beautiful chapel we got married into another small stage.

This is the location of our first "date". So many fun memories in Santa Rosa!

Crater Lake

Silver Falls hike with our family

Salt Lake

Salt Flats, which were covered in water. Normally there is white salt as far as you can see.

The hospital where Wayne was born.

Mission trip to Copper Island

Playing "Chopped" during our break. Above was my "7 Layer cake".

Crater of the Moon National Park


Grant Teton National Park

Devil's Tower National Park

Mount Rushmore

Badlands National Park

Prayer Requests:

1. Please continue to pray for my friends who have lost their loved ones to brain cancer.
2. Continue to pray for Emily as she goes through brain cancer treatments.
3. Pray for our kids as they prepare to start another school year.
4. Please pray for Wayne as he travels back and forth to Chicago to finish up our fixer upper. 
5. Pray for us as we all adjust to our new life in Kentucky.