I thought I'd give you a rundown on each member of our family. You have gotten to know Dale quite a bit since August and maybe some of myself and Chad, but the rest of the family may still be a mystery. Here's a bit about each of us.
Chad was born here in western Washington and did most of his growing up here. His family was Lutheran, so he was exposed to church from an early age although never heard a clear presentation of the gospel until he was nearly twenty years old. His parents divorced when he was young, leaving him with the agonizing decision of which parent to live with. Chad's grandparents really took an interest in him, helping him out with needed funds, clothes, or activities to fill his younger years. However, when Chad was in his mid-teens, he began to rebel and dabble in drugs and alcohol. He was told by a counselor that he would never be anything but an alcoholic. Praise God for His redeeming grace! Chad moved to Florida after high school to live with his mom and met a young lady there who led him to the Lord. He began attending a solid Baptist church where he learned to go soul winning, tithe, read his Bible, and grow as a Christian. And grow he did! Chad is one of the godliest men I know; He loves God and directs our family to follow his example. When he felt God telling him to go to Bible college, he answered that call in the spring of 1988. He chose Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point, IN, as the place where he wished to train for the ministry. It's a good thing he did because.......
I was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Fayetteville, NC, where my family attended Berean Baptist Church. The day I got saved was the day my family was all sitting around our table, ready to eat. For some reason I was asking each person at the table, "How do you know you're going to Heaven?" They each answered, "I've asked Jesus to be my Saviour." When my dad asked me in turn how I knew I would go to Heaven, I stopped short. I realized that my answer was going to be different from theirs; I was going to say, "My parents go to church." I began to cry and admitted I didn't know. My dad took me back to my parents' bedroom and lovingly showed me from God' Word how I could know for sure I would go to Heaven some day. I was very blessed to be in a family that loved God, served Him, and attended church every time the doors were open. In our church, we had a featured "Deacon of the Week." In addition to getting recognition from everyone that week, one of the jobs of this special deacon was to lock up the building after that week's services. We used to joke that my dad was "Deacon of the Week" every week because we were always the last ones out of the building! During the summer before my senior year of high school, we moved from North Carolina to Indiana so my folks could attend Hyles-Anderson College. Two weeks after we got there, my older brother, who had just completed his freshman year at Hyles-Anderson, was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. We met the entire First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN, in one day, it seemed! We were lovingly and compassionately swallowed up by this wonderful church family and became a part of the church and college seemingly overnight. I graduated from high school and enrolled at Hyles-Anderson with my parents. Yes, it was kind of weird taking college classes with my own parents, but it's something I wouldn't ever change, either. I met Chad my first week there; we were in the same bus division for three years before I finally accepted a date from him. (Long story short: My folks wanted me to get their permission each time a young man asked me for a date. When Chad first asked me shortly after we met, my mom got him confused with some other guy whom she did not want me to date, so I had to say no. Thankfully, after a while, she realized her mistake, Chad was willing to ask again, and the rest, as they say, is history!) We moved out here to Chad's old stomping grounds in western Washington to start a church. We served in that church for three years before closing its doors and joining Bethel Baptist Church in Spanaway, WA. And we are so thankful God led us here to yet another godly, Bible-preaching church with a wonderful church family.
Amanda was born while we were still in Indiana. She was a year and a half old when we moved here. Her birth was something of a shock because.......her legs were on backwards. Seriously, it looked like her legs were on the wrong way! Her knees bent forward instead of backward and her toes touched her shoulders. I had never seen a new newborn, but I could still tell something didn't look right. Chad asked the doctor, "Is that all right?" and he replied, "Oh, that's fine, sure." Yeah, right! In those first hours of her tiny life, we were told all sorts of things: Her legs were backward; her knees were backwards; she had no kneecaps; etc. God had prepared a doctor who specialized in these kinds of things and put him right there in the hospital with us. He took one look at her and said, "Oh, that's easily fixed." First, he explained that her legs had apparently bent the wrong way while she was still in the womb, and then she grew too big to bend them back! Then, he showed us how her knees just needed to be bent the correct way and kept there using casts until her knees got used to being the right way. Thank God for this wise man. We checked out of the hospital, were wheeled down to the next floor where this doctor's office was, and watched while he put the first in a series of casts on her little legs. She screamed bloody murder, but the procedure worked. We had to get the casts changed once a week for four to six weeks; then he put a kind of harness on her which spread her legs out to the sides (to make sure her hips were forming properly) and had special braces to keep her knees from bending backwards again. She had to wear this brace for a couple of months, and then she was through! We tried putting one of those braces on her feet at night to keep her feet from turning in, but it turned out to be unnecessary. The doctor had warned us that she might have trouble walking and would probably never be able to run. Try telling that to her! She walked at ten months and runs just fine. She loves to play volleyball (like her mom) and is very athletic. Amanda is a senior this year with plans to attend Bible college next fall. She loves the Lord and shows Him by working on a bus route, going out on teen soul winning, working in the 2 - 3 year old nursery every Wednesday night, and singing in teen choir. She is absolutely beautiful........and that's not just my opinion! She helps me quite a lot around the house and with her younger siblings, and I try not to think too much about next fall or my eyes will be swimming with tears!
Katie is our sweetheart, born about two and a half years after Amanda. Her birth was a bit traumatic as well, at least for her. When she was born, she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. The doctors had me stop pushing while they loosened the cord and administered oxygen before allowing me to finish giving birth to her. (Easier said than done!) As a result of the wrapped cord, Katie was somewhat oxygen-deficient and rather blue. They put her under a heat lamp to warm her; her father stayed by her side and held her little hand, giving them a chance to bond before I even got to hold her. She grew up healthy, except for a lazy eye which we were able to pretty much correct. She wears glasses now, which she despises, and longs for contact lenses. We're looking into that now. She is so pretty, but, of course, she doesn't think so since she has to wear glasses. Katie plays volleyball very well also, sings in teen choir, works in the walkers nursery every Sunday morning, goes on teen soul winning, and has a great sense of humor. She is quieter than Amanda but loves God just as much. Her patience runs a bit thin with her younger sisters, but she does a good job with them regardless. Katie will be a sophomore this year, and she is not looking forward to taking Algebra II!
Dale was born five days past his due date. We joke that Katie is responsible for his eventual appearance, because she was tired and cross that day and wanted Mommy to pick her up. When I did so, my water broke! I was rather surprised to find that I had given birth to a boy since my first two were girls, but a man child he was. I had wanted to name him after Chad who is Charles Dale Ostrander III; but Chad didn't want his son growing up having the same name as three other men in his family, so we had kind of decided on "Andrew." The next morning, Chad showed up in the hospital, saying he wanted to name our son Charles Dale Ostrander IV and call him "Dale." I had to quickly revise the name I had been calling him all night and adjust to this new one! Dale is a typical boy, always curious about things and getting into trouble if not closely watched. He is an absolute clown. I used to say that I felt sorry for his teacher when he started school. Wouldn't you know it---I was his first teacher! We managed to survive that year in K-4 together, and Dale is now entering the eighth grade. We're still playing catch up with his seventh grade work, but I think we'll get pretty close to the end before school starts again. Dale has always done well in school, although he does not always apply himself the way he should. He loves to run crazy, build "forts" in the tall grasses near our school playground, and read whatever he can get his hands on. His sense of humor is rather zany, but he loves to laugh. Dale attended Children's Challenge, a ministry where younger kids can pass out tracts and win souls under the watchful eye of the adults. He began going out on teen soul winning last summer when he entered seventh grade, as well as attending teen choir, but his accident prevents him from joining those activities........for now! :-) He'll get back to them soon enough, I'm sure! Dale was very thankful when we upgraded his bed clothing this past Christmas from Mickey Mouse sheets to a camouflage pattern. After all, he's got to grow up sometime! We have been told repeatedly by family members that Dale looks just like Chad did when he was young.......so Dale is obviously quite handsome! He talks freely about his accident (just details told him; he doesn't remember anything), and people are often surprised when we joke about it. For instance, we were talking about vacations, and Dale mentioned that he wanted to go swimming. Mandie chimed in, "Dale, you don't go swimming; you go drowning!" We all laughed; laughter is a good stress reliever. Dale is really focusing on the next school year right now, but I'm sure as he gets older, he'll begin thinking more about a life beyond school!
Ashley is our darling sixth grader. She is somewhat petite, though she has grown a few inches in the past couple of years. (She hates to be called short and lived in fear that she would never grow, being the shortest one in her class. Finally, we took pity on her and began measuring her on the back door so she could see for herself that she is actually growing!) She is very pretty, and the boys love to tease her just to get attention. I'm sure none of you men ever did that when you were young, right? When Ashley was born, her skin was so suffused with blood that she looked black. The doctor even joked, "You should call this one 'George Foreman'!" Of course, within a few days, her skin turned pink. Ashley loves to sing, goes out with Children's Challenge every Saturday, and is becoming more and more helpful around the house. I am just now letting her help more in the kitchen; she was so short for the longest time, she couldn't reach even the lowest shelf of the upper cabinets! Since Dale's accident, Ashley has been added to the nightly dishwashing rotation, as well as being given recycling can-emptying duty. She has a fun sense of humor and a way with words, but she is still learning to bite her tongue whenever her older siblings get on her nerves. She wants to answer them back as if she were their age, and they refuse to take that kind of response from a mere eleven year old. These confrontations usually end with them lunging to their feet and Ashley taking off running! Since she shares a room with Amanda, she generally doesn't get very far before she suffers the consequences of mouthing off. Ashley has been a tremendous blessing with her younger sister, helping her with reading or playing hours on end with her. When you realize that Ashley is entering sixth grade and Emily is going into first, the difference in their ages becomes starkly clear, huh? Yet they play together quite well, and I'm glad for that for Emily's sake (to have a playmate) as well as Ashley's (since her other nearest sister is four years older and not interested in the same things). Ashley was supposed to be our last until........
Emily was born five years later! She was a surprise; we had thought we were through. God knew what He was doing, though. We cannot imagine life without our princess. Emily's due date was September 15, 2006; she was born Sunday morning, June 25, 2006. Twelve weeks premature. A month and a half before, an ultrasound had shown a problem with my cervix, indicating that my body was trying to go into labor early. I had not had any serious problems with the pregnancy, and there were no other indications that delivery was imminent. I was hospitalized for about a month before she was born. We didn't really know what to expect. The doctors had warned that she would face all sorts of complications including problems with her heart, lungs, digestive tract, skin, eyes, hearing, and brain. We were warned she might not survive, she might have brain damage, she might have difficulty breathing or have asthma, etc. She did have some trouble but nothing more than any other preemie might face. God healed her tiny body and helped her grow just fine. They told us not to expect her to come home from the hospital before her due date; Emily came home at seven weeks of age, five weeks before she was due to enter the world. We called her "God's little miracle" because of how healthy she was. She never had to have a ventilator; she just used a cannula. She had no lung problems, no heart problems, no digestive problems. Her only lingering preemie condition is severely dry skin. Her skin does not have the ability to retain moisture; as a result, her skin gets super dry and itchy. Other than that, she's fine! She has an adorable little face, a sweet smile, and a goofy sense of humor. She loves to go to Sunday school but does not like the evening services because "they take too long." She is a good bit spoiled, but we are working to correct that; and simply maturing is helping with that a great deal. We call her "princess," and she doesn't let us forget that! One day, Chad was lying on the bed and talking to me while I was on the computer. Emily marches in, climbs on the bed, looks her father in the eye, and says, "I command you to get me a sandwich!" We all just laughed, Emily included, because in no way do our children get what they want by demanding it. However, she does sometimes get a high-handed, "you have to do what I want because I'm the princess" attitude that requires she be taken down a peg. She is sweet and loving and can't wait until she turns six so she can go out on Children's Challenge with Ashley.
God has blessed us with five wonderful children and each other. We strive to rear our kids for Him and urge them to think like Jesus, act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and live like Jesus. If they grow up to serve God full-time, glory be! If they grow up to become godly Christian laypeople, glory be! We want God to be pleased with our family and work each day towards that goal. When we reach Heaven, we want to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servants. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
Proverbs 9: 10 - 11 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased."