As 2014 comes to a close, did you miss anything?


I’ve been off trying to become a Christmas Viking in Norway. I failed. The caviar that was spread on bread was just not my cup of tea. On the other hand, I did hike all the way up a very snow-covered trail carrying a two-year-old for most of the path in my not-made-for-snow boots while passing an old Viking burial plot along the way.

Does that make me Viking enough? Probably not.

But the carrying a two-year-old should for sure get me an honorable mention, right?!

Here’s a fun photo, however, of my husband.  He helped when my arms were about to fall off!  He most certainly is the man 😉

heading up the mountain


As I watch the dates on the calendar fly away at warp speed, I reflect back upon the last year.  And it is with this rear view that I see it all.

2014 marked for us a year of finality and survival.  It was a year marked with death and once again new beginnings.  2014.  It was a beautiful year that gave us no rest.

And this is what I learned about myself this past year as I ask myself the question, “Did I miss anything?”

The answer is yes.  Always.  And with some regret.

But as I look back upon 2014, I see great news!

I see Rich and I celebrating our 2 years of surviving our marriage after I was ready to call it quits!  So it is as if we celebrated 2 anniversaries this year.  14 years of marriage and 2 years of keeping our marriage.  I think that both Rich and I are better and changed people.  And we have a deeper understanding of one another.  A deeper respect.  And a far deeper love.  We are a better couple.  A more respectful couple.  And even better parents.

I see that when you go through valleys that means there are mountains to climb.  And when you summit the peak, it’s a glorious view that surrounds you.  It’s 360.  And it’s complete.  And you are far closer to heaven.

That is our marriage, and I will only speak for myself when I say—I am so happy to celebrate 14 years and 2 years with my husband this past 2014!


In 2014, I see a little baby that sprang forth from my belly.  A baby that was never really little to begin with (10 pounds 10 ounces at birth).  Our baby finale.  And boy, what a bang we went out with, our sweet Josephine.  Although we tied our tubes and still want a million more children, we are enjoying every single moment relishing the final baby pitter patter steps, cries, and sleepless nights.  We are enjoying the morning calls to rise and the cuddles in our arms.  We often allow her to fall asleep in our arms and just hold her for near to an hour after.  We can’t believe the gift of this surprise little Josephine Diane.  And we love every red hair on her head—even as they are fading to a strawberry blond!


I see a daughter.  A brave, warrior daughter willing to move back to a country that was once the only home she knew.  And then she didn’t know.  And she had to reenter in a language that was foreign.  And hard.  And enter a grade where she no longer has the opportunity to not speak and read and write in the language.  Our fearless daughter took a machete and made the way for our family.  My husband and I were sick to our stomachs to move her away from her cousins and aunties and uncles and across the world to a land vastly different from where we were.  And our daughter.  She plowed forward.  With trepidation?  Perhaps.  And yet with determination.  She spent countless hours studying the language.  And countless more inserting herself into the lives of long but not forgotten friends.  Hand motions and sounds were the friends she had when we arrived back in Poland.  And Google Translate.  And hours upon hours of slow, treacherous, painful homework.  And now, 6 months later, she sits in front of me with her best friend.  Rambling in this difficult language (Polish).  And the only English word I have heard out of her mouth in the past 3 hours was “Oh!  Zobacz!  Broccoli!”  As she and her friend play Skylanders Giants.  This firstborn of mine is my greatest Sensei.  And Richard and I thank God daily for Adelyne’s fearless spirit!

ada and dadda christmas in norway

My son.  My beautiful baby that conquered death a couple times over.  He turned 2 in 2014.  And we finally had his baby dedication—albeit as a toddler.  But, you know, when you spend the majority of your baby life in and out of hospitals, toddler dedication it does become.  And we have finally seen him go from the never healthy baby boy to a boy that runs and jumps and plays.  I used to have panic attacks out of fear of him getting sick.  And now I realize that I can finally breathe.  My boy.  My boy with an old grandpa name.  My Max.  He is beautiful.  And feisty.  And sweet.  And fun.  He loves his sisters.  He loves swords.  He loves popcorn.  And he loves his sister’s Barbies.  He loves waking up every morning and saying, “Good morning, Mommy!  Good morning, Daddy!  Good morning, Sissy!  Good morning, GoGo!”  It’s as if he knows each morning is a gift and a good morning.  Because every morning alive IS a great morning.  Our Max.  I pray for the direction of his life one day because I know that he will represent God greatly!  Our Miracle Maxwell—2014 brought 2 years of life to him.  Hard.  Fought.  Life.  And now it’s time for Max to live freely.  I am glad to enter into 2015 with Maxwell as our middle!

outside of ciocia's house


Did I miss anything in 2014?  As I ended 2013, I challenged all of us at And 2 Makes Crazy to enter 2014 with JOY—Jesus over you!  And I think.

Did I do that?  Finish 2014 with JOY?  Jesus Over Me?

And I have come to this conclusion…

JOY is not a 365-day-challenge.  It is a thousand-year-challenge.  And, of course, by then I’ll be long gone.  But the thing about it is, as each day I choose to enter it with JOY, I enter it full of the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I enter it filled with peace and know that with Him I can do anything.

2014 was a beautiful gift wrapped in colors of all emotions.

And now, 2015 is ringing in all around me with fireworks in all of their clanging splendor.

Reflecting upon 2014, I wonder.  Did I miss anything?

If I did.  It’s too late.  2015 is now here.  And there is nothing I can do about the past.

And so I must look forward to the future.  That’s where I see endless possibilities and great hope.  With my God.  With my husband.  With my family.  And with my work.

Therefore, I smile brightly as I enter 2015…

From the hearts of my family to yours, God bless you, And 2 Makes Crazy Readers.  Enter 2015 with just as much JOY as before…

Happy New Year…Szczęśliwego nowego roku!


Brooke, Richard, Adelyne, Maxwell, and Josephine


The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Perspective for the New Year…Enter 2014 with J.O.Y.


When you are close to death or experience death, your life no longer revolves around January until January.  It revolves around that moment of “death” to the next year of “death”.  And that’s just the way it goes.  At least for a little while.  For some people, it’s one year.  For some it’s more.

That’s how I feel about 2012-2013.  It didn’t revolve around the calendar year.  It revolved around the moment we knew that Maxwell would not die.  It revolved around the moment that Maxwell would live.  And that’s how I celebrated this past year.  At his one year “survival” mark.  The rest of the months that followed were purely bonus filled with markers on their own:

1.  Oops.  He’s back in the hospital.  This time in Germany.

2.  Oh man…Our marriage isn’t going to survive.  Time for counseling.

3.  Hey, America, we know we’ve been foreigners, but it’s time we come and live amongst your soil once again.

4.  Wow, my daughter couldn’t spell “THE” before stepping foot on American soil halfway through 1st grade, and now she’s read over 250,000 words in one semester of 2nd grade (and for a broader perspective of that—most 2nd grade books are around 6,000 words, so that means that from the start of 2nd grade for one semester, she has read approximately 41 chapter books).

5.  What’s that?  Don’t pack up our little farmhouse and return to Poland, we’re pregnant again?!  Woo hoo!  Another year in the States (Well, for some of us—Rich was gone for a large portion of it).

And, now, here it is.  The actual 2014 two days away.

Two days away and time for a new perspective.

But what perspective is that?

For me.  For us.  For our family…it’s time.

It’s time for us to start anew in 2014.  Yes, our last year and a half has revolved around the “Maxwell Calendar of Death to Life”.  And that’s okay.  But as we enter 2014, it’s time for our family to collectively begin anew.  Afresh.  With a new perspective.

Perhaps your calendar will still revolve around your loss.  Perhaps it will still revolve around your survival.  Perhaps it will still revolve around your uncertainty.  That’s okay.  Each person’s calendar is different.

But, perhaps it’s time for your 2014 to also begin anew?  I don’t know.  Only you do.

My husband had the immense privilege of sharing a message of hope with a group of single parents at a Single Parent Christmas Blessing this December.  It was a privilege to be asked.  It was a privilege to share.  And it was a humbling experience to be amongst some of the strongest people in the world—single moms.  Single dads.

And this is what he shared.  Amongst what life has handed you, remember to keep J.O.Y. in your life:  Jesus over You.

Many of you have heard:  The Lord gives and the Lord takes.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Yes.  We, like many of you, have lived through this.  Mainly focusing on the Lord takes, yet choosing to bless his name.   But let’s look at “Take” with a new perspective that my husband has prepared and preached on in the past.  It also put it all in a new perspective for me.  And it’s a perspective that I am going to take with me into 2014.  Perhaps you too?

The Lord takes…

The Lord takes fear and gives peace.

The Lord takes sorrow and gives joy.

The Lord takes addictions and gives freedom.

The Lord takes anger and gives love.

The Lord takes bitterness and gives forgiveness.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

As you enter into 2014, perhaps it’s time for you to begin anew.  With a new perspective.  A perspective where you put J.O.Y. in your life and live accordingly with:  Jesus over You!

Perhaps it’s time for you to not forget the past but to move forward in the future.  Look at what the Lord has taken this past year and now focus on what he has given.






Just to name a few.

In Polish we say, Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia i Szczesliwego Nowego Roku!  And that is what we wish you…

That you had a merry Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus and have a very happy New Year!

A new year with a new perspective.

The Lord gives.  The Lord takes.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!