A Journey of Adoption

A Journey of Adoption

A Journey of a Couple’s Heart to Adopt

In this episode of Forti-fy, you will hear the heart of Ashley Kellogg who chronicles her family’s 10-year journey to their first adoption – and how their ever expanding family now includes the addition of 5 special needs children, in addition to their biological 6, making a very lively and bustling home!


Be sure to check out the plethora of helpful resources listed below that Ashley has provided!

Resources Discussed in the Episode:

Adoption Resources


Gateway Woods is a local agency in Leo that works with foster care and international adoptions providing homestudies and other adoption services



Hand in Hand is a local agency in Albion that provides domestic and international homestudies and other adoption resources



Children’s Bureau is an Indianapolis based adoption agency that works with foster and adoptive families for homestudies and other adoption services



Special Angels Adoption is an agency that provides services for special needs adoptions.



The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network provides support for birth and adoptive families of children with Down syndrome



Reece’s Rainbow advocates for orphans with Down syndrome and other special needs by raising funds for adoption grants  



Empowered to Connect website has a podcasts, a blog and training resources for foster and adoptive parents



Facebook Pages: 

Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents

Parenting with Connection

China Adoption Questions



ReplantedConference.org is a virtual conference providing hours of training for working with children from hard places

TapestryConference.net is a virtual conference for foster and adoptive parents

EmpoweredtoConnect.org runs yearly conferences for foster and adoptive parents


Books: (This is a great list for ALL parents!)

The Connected Child by Purvis, Cross and Sunshine

The Connected Parent by Qualls and Purvis

The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel

No Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel

Love Me Feed Me by Katja Rowell

Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray

You Can Adoption Without Debt by Julie Gumm

Feel free to reach out to Ashley at: mommykellogg@hotmail.com 

She would be happy to answer your questions!

How 13 Kids and 8 Miscarriages Led to a Passion for Health, Nutrition and Training for Marathons!

How 13 Kids and 8 Miscarriages Led to a Passion for Health, Nutrition and Training for Marathons!

We are trying to keep the podcasts around 30 minutes and we really packed in an incredible amount of info in today’s podcast on health and nutrition – for recommendations for moms and kids!


Heather’s Top Book Picks:

Heather’s Top YouTube Channels

Heather’s Favorite Podcast

Supplements Talked About on the Podcasts

Check out Heather’s Instagram Page


Keep Moving!

Recording today’s podcast with Heather’s new grandaughter, Zoe!


Donna, Heather, Trisch and I released our first Forti-fy podcast!


We are really excited to have you join us as we talk our way through many different conversations that are all part of “forti-fying” the community around us!

COVID 19 has some parents wondering if homeschooling might be a good option for their family. That can have them asking the question, “How do we do that?”

So, here we gathered around Donna’s kitchen table (where everything gets done in a homeschooling day!), and walked through our combined 120 years of homeschooling with our 38 kids.  We share what has been most helpful for us and encourage both new, and veteran, homeschooling moms to keep on keeping on!



Listed below are all the items we discussed in the podcast. 

Again, one of the main points we mentioned was to be in community! If you live within our listening area, please be sure to check out the FWAHS (Fort Wayne Area Home Schools) and DASH (Dekalb Indiana Area Schools at Home). There are SO MANY RESOURCES for you and your kids! If you ask a question in any of these groups, you will get an answer!

Click on links below:

Fort Wayne Area Home School Facebook page (FWAHS)

FWAHS Website

DASH  (Dekalb Area Schoolers at home) Facebook Group Page

DASH – DeKalb, Indiana Area Schools at Home

DASH Website

You can also join the Forti-fy’rs Facebook group page:



This was the webinar Donna had discussed in the podcast:



Local to Fort Wayne? Character Ink Cottage Classes and Half-Day Homeschool Info can be found here: characterinkblog.com/localclasses  

Online writing classes for small groups and co-op classes: writeforamonth.com/createaclass

Homeschooling and parenting help: characterinkblog.com

Language arts training for teachers/parents and downloadable writing books: writeforamonth.com

Free webinars for homeschoolers/teaching parents: helpyourkidswithschool.com 

Weight/Time/Life Coaching for Moms: donnareish.com/coaching

Heather’s Instagram:


Trisch’s  Website:


Don’t miss Trisch’s devotional every Monday at 10 a.m. in  the Forti-fy’r’s FB group! Here


Check out this Forti-fy blog post with more info on local classes and Co-ops:

Area Homeschool Co-ops and classes

Other Local Co-ops:

Life Adventures has so much great info on their site!

Life Adventures Resources

Northside Co-op:


Northeast Homeschool Family Co-op:


Kroeker Homeschool Academy:

Kroeker Homeschool Academy

Doorposts Homeschool Co-op-Northeast Indiana:



This is the chart I discussed in the podcast that was helfpul for cirriculum choices based on your teaching style:

To sum up, in the podcast, Trisch talks about her oldest daughter, who was in the midst of trying to graduate during their year of  constant “accidents.” Although, they were concerned about checking off all the academic boxes in order for her to graduate, they were most interested in character development and her ability to achieve goals.  I just wanted to share this story that posted yesterday in an aviation journal.  I think it would be a great article to share with any of your kids to let them know “Dreams do come true!”



The Cup.

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Luke 22:20 NIV

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Luke 22:41-42 NIV

Both of these verses are very familiar to me but, when I read them recently, the cup caught my attention.  Jesus refers to the cup in each, but in very different ways.  In these verses we see both the authority, sovereignty, and deity of Jesus, but also His very real humanity.  Through this cup, Jesus shows us a beautiful example of trust and submission to God.

Jesus mentions the cup during the last supper as He and His disciples were celebrating the Passover feast, a time when the blood, which protected the Israelites from the Angel of Death, is remembered. Jesus introduces the significance of His own blood. He is telling them that His blood forms a new covenant that will save them from death.  In Old Testament Scripture the cup is used to represent God’s wrath and judgment. (Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15)  But now the cup is filled with a promise of redemption. Jesus is showing His deity, speaking with the authority of God. At the time, His disciples did not truly understood what He was explaining because they could not even imagine the events that would soon unfold.

Just hours later in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays alone with the Father and mentions the cup again.

Despite understanding the significance of this cup, He begs God to take it from Him. Because of His deity, He understands fully what it means to keep that cup, but because of His humanity, it feels like more than He can bear. In fact it would be too much for any other man. He is God, yet He is also very human. He is praying so hard in this moment that He is sweating blood. This is followed by a beautiful act of submission and trust.  “Yet,” He says, “not my will, but Yours be done.” Jesus is willing to give up what He is pleading God for and submit to Him. If anyone had sway with God, it was certainly His Son, Jesus. Yet, He bows to the Father.  Jesus submits to the Father and takes the cup of God’s judgment and fills it with His own redemptive blood.

This prayer of Christ’s holds special significance for me. As my own son was barely clinging to life in a hospital ICU, I was also begging God in prayer. I was on my knees pleading with everything in me for Him to spare my child’s life. In that moment, the Spirit gave me these words to pray: “Lord, take this cup from me.” I was facing pain that I did not want to bear.  It was agonizing.  It felt good and right to beg God to change these circumstances and take this cup from me.  However, I found it impossible to pray for God to “take this cup from me,” without hearing the next words of Jesus’ own prayer: “yet not my will, but Yours.”   I had to wrestle with whether I could sincerely pray that part. Could I accept God’s will for my son’s life no matter what that meant?  Ultimately, God’s Spirit gave me the strength to finish that prayer and really mean it.  I bowed to the will of the Father even though I didn’t know what that would mean. That prayer fixed my eyes firmly on God and things eternal.

Later that very day my son died.  He was ushered into heaven and was perfectly healed.  When I said those words to God, I did not know I would be required to relinquish my son to the Father. But God did. That prayer prepared my heart for what would happen next. It allowed me to walk forward through the most painful event of my life with my faith intact.  That moment of submission cemented my hope and trust in God.  There was power in that prayer.  It reminded me that no matter what happens here, my hope is in the eternal with God.  So, I can still trust in the goodness of God even if I do not understand it in the here and now.

Jesus gave us an amazing example of trust and submission to God when He wrestled with the cup and prayed that hard prayer.  I am convinced that His words are among the most powerful any person can utter to God: “Yet, not my will, but Yours be done.”

As we approach Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, let us not forget the cup.  Let us remember its significance, the pain poured into that cup, and the redemptive power it now holds.  Let us embrace Christ’s example of submission to God and trust Him with the cup in our own lives.  Then the hope born in the resurrection will have an even greater significance as our eyes are lifted beyond our circumstances to the eternal.

On Birth Days, Life, Death and Thanks

On Birth Days, Life, Death and Thanks

On March 17th of last year, I awoke to this FB “memory”:

How was is it possible that on this very day, just a few hours later, I would be speaking at my son’s memorial?


I stood at the podium, my mouth so dry and parched I had to ask for water a few minutes in.

Speaking on his life…

The birth and life of Kyle taught me so much.

My niece, Chelsea, posted on Facebook the day the news broke of Kyle’s death:

“You raised a good person. Seeing the impact Kyle had through the outpouring of love and support from all his friends and colleagues, I can’t help but think that you’re the cornerstone of that all.”

My response to her was:

“Thank you, Chelsea. I think we kind of raised each other.”

And oh how true that statement was…and is. Kyle is still raising me.

As I have been reading over many years of emails, letters, notes and journals, going all the way back from when Kyle was very young, I only wish I would have had the opportunity to say, “Thank you” just one more time before he left this earth.

Thank him for bearing with me, thank him for his faith, his questions, his doubts, his certainty, his willingness to always help, his willingness to listen, his willingness to keep the door open, when at times he may have wanted to close it, but love outweighed that option. We strove together. We challenged each other. We grew together. We knew each of us deeply loved the other, despite any differences.

Kyle always said I was his greatest critic and his greatest fan. I don’t know…perhaps a mother should not be known as their child’s greatest critic. But we were honest in our conversations. He knew my faults and weaknesses, I knew his faults and weaknesses…and I tried desperately not to be a “mom” about them. But alas…

…I remember an email he sent me after graduating high school and headed for college – and it put that “pang” in my heart re-reading it. In it he asked me, “Mom, when can we be friends?”

Heart drop.

He was referring to how I could seemingly talk to his friends with such “light care-free-ness” with no expectations, but with him it was more serious – more “gravitas”.

He knew his mom had his best interest at heart and yet so wanted her to enjoy him for who he was – and maybe not what his spelling looked like – seriously. And any number of other things.

And this mom did enjoy him, immensely, for who he was…but her words sometimes got in the way of him knowing that. It’s so hard to be a parent, without regrets, sometimes.

He was a grown man now – his own man – not needing “parenting”.

Learning how to move from parent to friend can take some time, some adjustment, some transformation. I am still working on this. Kyle’s siblings can thank him for paving the way.

I’m so grateful that there were years…after that email was written…that we became very good friends.

On Death

Kyle’s death has taught me so much. I am different now. Altered. Changed. Forever. I will never be the same as I once was since he left us. Just as I was never the same after he was born. And I won’t be the same next year.

Kyle’s physical absence has changed every one of us in his family. Everyday. I feel as though there has not been a moment without him in my mind.

And he will continue to be with us…always in our hearts..until we see him again.

I’m not sure how all that works, but I can tell you Kyle has given me an excitement. For death. For eternity. And that… is just..So Kyle!

I know that I did thank my beloved son while he was still with us, probably while crying with him, for all the years I tried so hard, but perhaps, at times, were also hard on him. We had great years together. Yes, we did. I would have just loved to have had a few more…to enjoy him..to thank him…one more time.

Why do I share all this?

Because I would like to encourage anyone reading this that if your son, or daughter, or mom, or dad, or husband, or wife, or brother, or sister, or friend, is still alive, and you have the chance, take the time to tell them, “Thank You” while you still can – and take a picture with them – especially if it is their birthday!

#kyle #memoryeternal #lovedbeyondmeasure


Clever Chore Charts, and Steadfast Playful Moms

Clever Chore Charts, and Steadfast Playful Moms

Each week we’d like to take a moment out and share a few snippets of moms in our area  – doing what they do best – fortifying their families!  (more…)