Dan: He is ALWAYS reading, researching, studying something. He passed his Ph.D. comps last fall and is in the prep stage of putting together his dissertation. He is writing about the life and leadership of Dr. John Perkins and his model of leadership when it comes to marginalized communities and community development. He loves heading up both Christ in the Margins (online community) & Gospel Community(church plant) and after 3 years into leading non-profit ministries has learned that you never stop learning and growing and going back to the drawing board for how to impact this world for the Kingdom at a place that meets our passion and our neighbors greatest need. To say that it’s never overwhelming or discouraging would be lying.. as it often is. He is helping serve within The Underground (our church network) and getting to know other ministry leaders in our city. He is looking into how we as a church can serve the public schools here in our area this next school year as well as any local colleges here. He also substitutes in the local middle and high schools here when he gets the opportunities to.
Casey: Me!! Well, you know I could probably write a book about all the musings of my heart lately. But I’ll keep this to the bare bones of what I’ve been up to. I will say that it took 6 kiddos to get me to a point that has KEPT me in a constant state survival mode as a mama. Yet, it’s been my greatest joy! We are enjoying being well into our second year here and feeling a lot more grounded in some ways and still very much like FL newbies. I took on a 6 month part-time graphic-design job part-time the end of last year which recently ended and am praying for ways that God would have me engage/connect with the foster/adoption community here in St. Pete, possibly within the nearby children’s hospital here. I am also enjoying very much engaging our online Christ in the Margins community. I have to confess, I spent the first year here being really angry and close to despair at times about the state of our kid’s public school and how systems of racism have impacted it, and my utter powerlessness to do anything about it. But this year God has given me friendships with my children’s teachers and classmates families and somehow the fact that we’re all in this together is making it doable and together we can make a difference here one child, teacher, school at a time.
Zoe is 9 and in 3rd grade and has a great group of girlfriends at school who love coming over whenever they get the chance. She’s navigating the highs and lows of having big emotions in a little body and interacting with friends who also are learning how to become young ladies. Zoe is ALWAYS dancing, writing songs, and dreaming about being on the big stage! She also is starting to ask the really challenging questions partly because she wants to know all the things but also because she’s paying attention to more of our “adult” conversations. It’s been good but also an exhausting part of parenting.
Jack is in 2nd grade and recently transferred to a school on the north side of our city due to the ability to work alongside his ASD needs. He’s constantly teaching us how important it is to parent with each child’s needs in mind not having a certain way of doing things and expecting it to work for everyone. We find that we often have a lot of patience for Abel and Isla’s differences but because Jack seems like a neuro-typically developing kid we struggle knowing what’s best for him in how we react and interact with him daily. But we are learning and finding a beautiful wide community out there who loves to mentor and offer support to parents and families in the ASD/SPD/ODD world. Part of his biggest gifting and yet biggest struggle is how much he LOVES people and being around them. He hates being by himself but yet being with others makes it clear that the typical way of viewing things and interacting with others collides with the way he views the world. But we think that just like there is much beauty and amazingness in Down syndrome, so it is with Autism and the full spectrum of differences that world brings. His latest love is fishing and could spend hours watching fishing shows and talking to those fishing at our nearby piers.
Ezra and Evie are the delights of their first-grade teacher and we get complimented on their behavior by anyone who teaches them at school. Ezra, who is by far the tallest 7 year old in his class, eats a TON and is growing out of clothes/shoes as fast as we can get them. He’s a writer and loves creating his own superheroes and taking them on incredible adventures. He is our prayer warrior and is often really in tune with things going on spiritually around us. He also has a really quick dry sense of humor that will probably get him in trouble in years to come but right now it’s pretty funny to hear what his mind comes up with. Ezra is switching to a gifted program in a nearby title one school next year and is quite proud of himself becuase of that. We are looking forward to investing in that school where lots of teachers and kids from our current school are moving to.
Evie (about to be 7) is still a mama’s girl and loves playing pretend and cooking in the kitchen. She and Isla share such a special bond and both love playing with baby dolls. With each of our kids there seemed to be a movie experience that captivated them and impacted them more than ever before. The Greatest Showman was that movie for Evie. She LOVED it and was deeply moved by the messages in it as well as has memorized the soundtrack. She feels things very deeply and whatever mood she’s in she is FULLY in it and committed to feeling it all the way through… so you can
Abel is 5!! I can’t believe that. He has such a servants heart and often is unloading and loading the dishwasher without being asked. He is still learning how to talk in a way that everyone understands but has no trouble letting us know what he wants. He loves being wherever his siblings are when they are home and increasingly throws a fit if he’s not allowed to go somewhere if the other kids are going too. He and Isla love spending time with Dan’s parents a few days a week while we work remotely from coffee shops and libraries. He is healthy (except for some alopecia we are trying to figure out) and just starting to be potty trained.
Isla: This lil’ 2 year old firecracker keeps us on our toes. She’s like a babbling brook talking, singing and finding her way into everything. She has us all wrapped around her little finger and she and Abel are like the best of friends/worst of enemies. She’s tiny but fierce. She and Abel were going to be a part of a YWCA early learning program here but they had to close their doors due to funding. So we are looking into what might be available to them nearby part-time next year. Abel receives a special needs education scholarship through the state of Florida (Isla will receive it this fall when she turns 3) that has really helped us provide things he needs educationally and will help pay for pre-school next year since the public schools aren’t in a place to welcome really young kids with DS where we are.
Mike and Judy:
We are going on a year and a half of all living under the same roof. While sometimes it can get hectic and crowded, it’s been really a great season of togetherness with many meals gathered around the table, Friday night sleepovers for the kids in grandma and grandpa’s room, and the added help with the little ones on days that Dan and I work away from home. I know now why in so many cultures multi-generational living is celebrated and a part of healthy living. Judy is so good at celebrating holidays and making times out of school for the kids really special. Mike hurt his leg at work a few months ago but he’s still on the mend and getting lots of extra time with Abel and Isla. Isla (like his other 2 granddaughters) has him wrapped around her little finger… she calls him pop-pop-pop. It’s adorable!