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Andrew Frania volunteering in Lesvos {Mom of Many}

Volunteering on the Island Lesvos

Andrew Frania volunteering in Lesvos {Mom of Many}

On Christmas Day, our son Andrew left his home in Wisconsin to travel half way around the world to volunteer on Lesvos, an island off Greece about 4 miles from Turkey.

Daily he scans the horizon for boats full of refugees and then offers hope and safety once they make it to shore.

1000-5000 refugees from Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey arrive on the island every week and need to be cared for and directed to resettle in Europe.

Andrew Frania volunteering in Lesvos {Mom of Many}

I have set up a website to post his pictures and journal. Go read his entries about the families who are fleeing the terrorism in their countries.

Andrew Frania volunteering in Lesvos {Mom of Many}

It will open up your eyes but most of all it will open up your heart.

Andrew Frania volunteering in Lesvos {Mom of Many}

As you probably know, Andrew is one of our 13 adopted kids. We have 15 children. He came to us a week shy of 4 months old from a Korean orphanage with just one outfit and a serious allergy to our country. After battling many years of chronic pneumonia from his asthma/allergies, he finally kicked the asthma and joined the Marines the summer after his freshman year at Maranatha.

He had many rough years while serving our country and experienced much loss. My mother’s heart ached for him and prayed God would scoop him up and make him into an amazing man that would change the world.

My prayers, hopes and dreams for that little Asian skin and bones baby we got off the plane have been realized with one decision – one decision that Andrew made to put himself last and strangers first –  to rescue thousands of refugees coming to the island of Lesvos fleeing for their lives.

Read about his journey to show the love of God to those who need hope.


Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

A Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Table – Parenting Tip #13

Is Your Thanksgiving Table Kid Friendly?

Since the kids tend to get a bit impatient waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to get on the table, do a little something different this year.

Give them special placemats.

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

The Thanksgiving coloring pages are from Busy Bee Kid’s Printables. They will grab the kids’ attention and take it off you – giving you the freedom to finish up on your Thanksgiving preparations.

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

Create kid friendly hors d’oeuvres

Curb their appetites a bit with snack foods consistent with the holiday – if they are nutritious, you’ll have no worries!

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

If they are a bit older, go with a Mad Libs fill in the blank activity.

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

These Mad Libs can be found at My Sister’s Suitcase.

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

The Kids' Thanksgiving Table {Mom of Many}

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s a great time to focus on family and forget your to-do list…even if just for a day.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Please leave a comment and tell us what Thanksgiving traditions you enjoy each year.

Val @ Mom of Many

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Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Are You a Disappointed Adoptive Parent? Parenting Tip #4

October 16, 2015

When I realized today’s date, my thoughts turned to my kids, but not in the usual way. One year ago today Jillian and I took my 86 year old mom to the hospital for a quadruple bypass and valve replacement. Just nine weeks later we lost her to a stroke. You can find the first in the series on my other site, Love My DIY Home. But my main topic isn’t my mom today.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

I want to talk to you about your adopted kids.

(The rest of you can just go ahead and read along. I’m sure you will be able to find something that applies to you as well).

I have 15 kids. 2 are homemade. 13 are adopted. When I thought about the day I took Mom to the hospital, I remembered how much I appreciated the support I got from some of my kids when she passed…and I also remembered how much I have tried to forget that some were strangely silent.

To sum it up…

  • 6 of my daughters and 2 of my sons came to visit Mom during her last days, 1 son wanted to but couldn’t, 1 son kept in contact by frequent texts and calls. 1 son didn’t understand or become involved, but he did come to our family reunion. Those 11 helped me survive those weeks and coupled a difficult time with blessing.
  • 1 daughter and 3 sons never called, came to visit, or in any way acknowledged the fact their g’ma was gone.
  • The ones who were supportive were brought closer together. The ones who were silent and absent drifted farther away.

So what happened?

Why out of 15 kids did 4 not care their g’ma was gone or that I’d lost my mom? They all grew up with her around. She lived with us for 12 years. She babysat them, joined us for Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and even the not so special, average days. She went to church with us. She laughed with them, yelled at them, told them stories and gave them presents. She was a huge part of their lives.

She was at each hospital homecoming and adoption day. Some didn’t like her because she was difficult at times. Some loved her even though she was difficult at times.

How is it that only 11 out of the 15 rallied during our family tragedy?

If you are an adoptive parent, listen up because I’m here to set the record straight.

No matter how hard we worked at raising our kids, no matter how many hours, what we sacrificed, or how much we prayed for guidance or hoped for success, our kids are who they are and we cannot change them. But I’m not here to talk about them. I’m here to talk about you, the adoptive parent.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

When you adopt, you get kids from all walks of life (usually not so great a path), with different genes, experiences and views of what life is all about. Some have been traumatized. Some have seen and experienced things most adults have never even heard of that gives them a skewed take on life.

There are no guarantees in raising children.

Let me say that again. There are no guarantees.

You can do your best and still not have a child love and care for you.

I have one daughter that doesn’t even acknowledge that we are her family. I was told not long ago one of our sons feels the same way.

How is it that some claim their family and some don’t?

I know of two absolutely wonderful adoptive moms (and dads) that have the same situation in their family. These ladies are two of the most sweet and godly women I know. Both of them have adopted kids that haven’t communicated with them in years.

One adopted kid is sweet and kind but doesn’t acknowledge her as mom any more. One is mean and hateful. Two are indifferent. I KNOW it wasn’t bad parenting. I KNOW these were great families that did the best they could. Both are Christian parents that were stable, faithful and consistent.

So what gives?

If you are an adoptive parent who has experienced disappointment in either how your kids are living, how they treat you or you have not heard from your kids in months or years, realize your are not alone. Unfortunately it is common.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

I know an adoptive mom who had her skull bashed in with a hammer by her son. Another had to send her biological kids to a separate school because their adopted siblings attacked them whenever they saw them in public when mom wasn’t around. I once met a mom who drove to a gas station and left when her teenage son was in the bathroom, calling protective services to pick him up. She was afraid her son was going to kill her and didn’t know what else to do.

I slept with a bat next to my bed for two years out of fear of one of my son’s mood swings. I just didn’t know from one day to the next what he was going to do.

I could go on but you get the picture.

Before this gets too depressing, I do have adopted kids that love me and sometimes I forget they are adopted. They are a blessing to me and we enjoy each others company. Yes, it can happen and it did. Many have grown to be responsible young ladies and young men that are a credit to God’s grace and unfailing love. They are a blessing to us and feel blessed that they are in our lives. It is our hope that all of our kids will one day love us and want to be in our lives. Until then, I wait and pray.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Adoption is risky. When you adopt, you put yourself out there.

If you have adopted, stop feeling guilty, disappointed or abandoned if your child has not met your expectations. You are the top 1% of humanity! You chose to step out of your comfort zone to share your family with a child that was not originally your own. How many of your family or friends have sacrificed the peace and safety of a “normal” family and reached out to a child that was without?

Even if you made mistakes, you still showed up every day. Even if you weren’t perfect (who is?), you deserve a gold star. You did more than the other 99% who stayed in their comfort zone and watched you do what they would never consider doing.

Stop feeling responsible for your child’s bad choices. They have their own mind, their own heart and their own agenda. I have seen kids turn out great even though they had crummy parents. I’ve seen kids blow it in life who had fabulous parents.

God alone is responsible for the outcome of your efforts. Your only responsibility was to be faithful.

You went above and beyond. You are blessed. You are amazing.

Now go live like you know that.  ~Val (Mom of Many)

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)


How Much is Too Much Loss? {Mom of Many}

How Much is Too Much Loss?

How Much is Too Much Loss? {Love My DIY Home}

Our family and friends have experienced so much loss, pain and suffering lately.
Everywhere I look I see loss.
  • My father-in-law passed away a year ago. My mom 6 months ago.
  • A friend lost her youngest son in a car accident yesterday.
  • Another friend is caring for her youngest son who was in a head-on collision two days ago. Thankfully he is still with us – they came so close to losing him. He's in traction with 6 months of recovery ahead.
  • My Marine son, Andrew, is planning to go fight ISIS this fall independently of the military – because our country isn't doing much to free the world of this threat. I don't want to lose him.
  • My son-in-law just lost his job – out of the blue, no warning.
  • Last month my other son had to be cut out of his truck after after being broadsided – but thankfully got out with just a hurt shoulder.
  • How much loss is TOO MUCH LOSS? Loss is everywhere. How do we survive it? How do we prepare for it?
What can't we do?
We can't stop our loved ones from getting hurt or dying. We can't stop time or stop the pain of loss. We can't forsee disasters or emergencies. We can't control our government, other people, the weather, or our circumstances.
Word has it our country in for a major financial disaster soon. There is unrest everywhere in the world.
BUT, I know from experience that a person can live through hardship or tragedy and come out a better person, stronger and better equipped for life – the life they must learn how to live without whatever/whomever they have lost.
What can we do?
There are things we can do to survive and ANYTHING…and even thrive.
We can prepare ourselves emotionally, physically, spiritually. Do you have all your ducks in a row?
  • Get your finances in order – pay off debt and get your spending under control. Have an emergency fund. PLAN ahead.
  • Find out who God is. Really find out. He can supernaturally carry us through the darkest days.
  • Treasure everyone who means anything to you. Don't stay away for any reason. Life is short and it passes quicker than you realize. One day you will get a call and it will be too late. Work is good but it's not everything. It will still be there after you go fishing with your son or shopping with your sister or hang out at your parents house. Help your mom in her garden, it will lift both of your spirits. (hint, hint my children)
  • Treat others with respect. Regret is a bugger. You will some day need a support system. Develop and strengthen your relationships.
  • Eat right, get enough sleep, know your limitations but strive for the best – not OK or good, but the best. Take care of your health, quit your vices, focus on what is important. Care about doing right and follow through.
  • Don't dwell on the negative, disappointments, problems or sinful thoughts. Debi Pryde once gave me a tip: Don't dwell, if you have a problem think about it for 5 minutes, decide what you will do about it and then move on. Dwelling never helps and can cause other problems. I have found this to be good advice.
  • Only get biblical counseling – man's opinions differ but the Word of God is solid and trustworthy.
  • Set goals. Make lists. Accomplish. Get organized.
  • Find out who you are and be that person. Seriously. Many years I fit the mold that others made. I don't do that any more. Be the best YOU that you can be. Develop good character and a good reputation. Live clean. Don't break your mother's heart by living riotously and hurting your family name. But realize, always, that your mother still loves you, regardless.

If you are prepared, when tragedy strikes you will have the strength to get through anything. Strive for a solid foundation with confidence in yourself and your support system. God should not be an afterthought. Put Him in your life so He will be there when you need Him. Put your support system in place now.

Alone is not fun. Alone is bad. Alone stinks. None of us needs to be alone.

We won't be alone if we prepare.

The Will of God by Jim Elliott {Love My DIY Home}

8×10 printable (just click and save), take to your favorite photo printing
place and then frame it. It will be a good reminder.
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." II Corinthians 1:3, 4

Val @ Mom of Many


Oh, it’s been a long time..

Greetings, my peeps!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done much here on Mom of Many. But I have a good excuse – honestly!

I’ve been crazy busy with a ton of irons in my fire (had to start a fire, it’s been so cold out here in Wisconsin!) Last July I started Love My DIY Home because I want to work from home.

Love My DIY Home

I saw an opportunity to start a monetized blog (more on that later) and thought it would be a good fit for me. We’ve talked a lot about what we want for our future and working outside the home for me wasn’t an option since I wanted to be available for my church and family in a full time way. BUT, funny how things work out. There’s always a “but” isn’t there?…especially if you are open to whatever God has planned for us. Yep. Sometimes God turns the tables on you (if you’re willing) and throws things in your path you wouldn’t ordinarily choose.

I have been on Care.com for a while, looking for a nanny opportunity one or two days a week. I got a call from a very nice lady at a placement agency asking if I would consider a family of hers that had just moved to Wausau. I had already been contacted by this family through Care.com and turned them down when they told me how many days they needed. Since we had decided to keep my outside work down to one or two days at the most, I thanked her and told her I wasn’t available for that many hours. BUT…and here is the “BUT” God threw in…But, the offer was so sweet and the family was so sweet, and the little girl was so sweet…you get the picture.

I agreed to meet the family and interview at their house. Long story short, I took the job. Oh my goodness. It’s been a chore keeping up with everything – church, family, Love My DIY Home and our new business Adark Holsters, in which Mark and I partnered with Adam and April.

Adark Holsters

I figured I’m putting in at least 60 hours a week juggling all of my responsibilities, not to mention keeping up on our house and projects that go along with my LMDH website.

So here you have it. I told you I had a really good excuse for not keeping up with Mom of Many!

Fortunately my husband is patient and understanding when I drop the ball on keeping our home in order. Good thing he does his own laundry! He even cleans the kitchen at 5am before work when he sees I’m worn out! He’s such a good dooby. My family has been kind to me, knowing my tight schedule and only plans family events AFTER they look at my nanny schedule. My church people, oh my, talk about fab!, my church family has been filling in for me and my pastor has been so very patient with me when it comes to my responsibilities. Yes, I drop the ball constantly there and they ALWAYS pick it up and give it back to me KINDLY! Did I mention we moved into a new building?

Northside Baptist

I am surrounded by the best people in the world. If you can’t say that – then make a change!

I’ve given much thought to my responsibilites – the big ones – and can’t believe I’ve roped myself into being so busy again!

  • Church secretarial/publications/nursery/choir/discipleship
  • Family – plus keeping my home up/decorating (only been here a year)/putting up a garden/canning
  • Adark Holsters – I’m mapping out the marketing plan and website
  • Love My DIY Home – two posts a week/DIY projects plus all the marketing hoopala that goes along with it
  • Photography – events/family/photo restoration/manipulation/correction
  • Mom of Many (this is the one thing I’ve so terribly neglected!)
  • Writing my ebook (on Creative Discipline)
  • Writing my book (This went on the back burner)

Plus, crazy me, I’m signing up for a 14 week online marketing course.

I am eventually going to change Mom of Many to a self-hosted website. So stay tuned as the changes are coming! Thanks for being loyal even when I’ve DROPPED THE BALL! You are the blessings in my life that keep me going!

VAL signature


Christian Liberty – Permission to be Free

I made reference a few days ago on my Facebook status that our Pastor, Weng Liew, had “hit one out of the park.” He sent me his notes tonight and I have his points listed below. Make sure you slooowwwlyy read through them. At first glance they appear to be the typical sermon on Christian liberty, ie: do right, do your best, don’t use your liberty to sin, etc. But take the time to read what he has to say. Read each word carefully. If you do, you’ll see why our whole family celebrated last Sunday night by recapping what he said and how he said it. It was surreal. We’ve known pastors who see Christian liberty the same way we do – it’s between us and God, no right to judge, keep your walk with the Spirit and your life will please God, etc. but we’ve never heard a sermon, a pastor, actually give us permission right from the pulpit to live according to our own personal convictions. Wow. WOW.

The sermon was executed with a heart of love from a humble servant who desired to see his people live in freedom – freedom to choose their own path, directed by their own personal relationship with God. There was no condemning judgement, pressure to conform, or self-righteous spirit. Though I agreed 100% and already held the exact same thought process regarding Christian liberty, I experienced a deep peace after that night. It’s a peace I wish for all my friends and family who name the name of Christ and try to serve and please Him with their lives.

Here are the specifics on Pastor Weng’s sermon.  As you read it, pretend it’s being told to you by one who loves you as Christ loves His own. Better yet, pretend as you read that Christ Himself is telling you about the freedom you can enjoy in Him. Jump up into His lap and let Him set you free.  Pay particular attention to the last 5 words – they are key. “God recognizes each as such.

(Romans 14:1-23)

1. We need to remember what we are saved from – the bondage and chains of sin. We are free INDEED (completely, absolutely, forever) through Christ.

2. All things are lawful to the child of God, although not all things are expedient (1 Corinthians 10:23). Thus, while a Christian cannot “break” the law as he is no longer under the law, does not give the right to sin. While we are at liberty to act as the Spirit gives liberty, not all actions are expedient, i.e. prudent. Out of all the things one can do in a given situation, one course of action is best. This is what edifies another brother or sister in Christ, not that which becomes a stumbling block to them.

3. The pinnacle of Christian liberty is to willingly do more (not less) than required by the law to love one another.

4. We must remember we are all servants of Christ. Just as in the secular world we do not judge another man’s servant, we are not to judge each other. We are all accountable ultimately to Christ alone. One who abstains from certain meats does it to glorify God. One who eats all meats in thanksgiving to God does so to glorify God. So both believers glorify God by being true to their own conscience (must be done in faith to please God) and God recognizes each as such.

5. My Christian liberty is not to be flaunted so it becomes an hindrance to another believer. Whenever at a disagreement with another, we need to yield (even if we’re “right”).

6. Charity covers the multitude of sins. When we truly have charity one to another, we don’t even see their faults.

7. Believers need to remember we are on the same team. We have the same indwelling Holy Spirit. A brother or sister in Christ is NEVER the enemy. Satan is ALWAYS the enemy.

To Taylor from Dad

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab4VRWX8y1A&w=425&h=349]

Jesus Leads Us Through the Fog

Last night we were on our way home from Taylor’s graduation in Florida when we encountered a dense fog about 40 minutes from home.  It was about 11PM and we had been traveling since 8AM. First it set in in spots that only took a second to drive through. Then it descended so heavily that I couldn’t seen more than 50 feet ahead of me. I was in one of those situations where if I slowed down to a safe speed, I could be hit from behind by a vehicle traveling 65 mph. If I kept at the speed limit, I could rear end another car that had decided to stop or travel slowly.  I was stuck. I considered stopping at a hotel, but my mom was sick and I felt I needed to get her home. I wasn’t really sure what to do. I could see a 20 car pile up in my head just waiting for car #21.

Then I saw two small tail lights in front of me that I could follow. I immediately knew it was safe to continue as long as they were there. Then they disappeared after a few minutes and I thought, “Oh great, there goes my guide.”

The next second a large vehicle passed me and pulled in front of me – about 6 car lengths ahead of me. It kept steadily there all the way to our exit 30 minutes away.  As long as I kept a few car lengths from my guide, I knew I was safe to continue on. It was a bit nerve wracking but knowing there were two red lights just ahead gave me the confidence to keep going.

It reminded me of how Christ leads me – out in front, leading me all the way.  As long as I keep my eyes on Him, I know the road is safe and He will lead me all the way to my exit.

Moving In…

Daniel Goes to College!

Recently we were able to get funding for Daniel to go to Shepherd’s college. He’s happy as a clam and enjoying college life. His teachers told us at our visit last week that he’s an excellent student. I said in my heart, “Of course he is, he’s a Frania!” I guess I can’t claim humbleness when it comes to my kids. The first year he will work on the basics like math  and grammar. The second year he will begin either horticulture or culinary studies. This is a three year program, so we are hoping that each year we can get his funding renewed.

Below are some pictures of Daniel’s dorm and one of him sporting the bronze medal that he brought back from the Special Olympics.  The last pictures are of him playing BB with his Dad in the Shepherd’s gym.

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