Hi! My name is Zori.
I am so glad you found this site. From Strength to Strength is a blog about the strength that comes from pursuing God regardless of our circumstances. It is largely about children, parenting, foster care, and the grief of pregnancy and infant loss. It is also about intentionality, choosing joy, living life on mission, making (and teaching our children to make) healthy choices, and pursuing a deeper walk with God. But most of all it is about God’s faithfulness and His strength that has carried me, and can do the same for you.
On this blog you will find stories from our family’s personal experiences with loss, foster care, and parenting, along with reflections and insights from Scripture, from songs, or from other wise people. In addition, you may find stories from other women who have kept their eyes on Jesus throughout severe trials and can now see how God has carried them “from strength to strength.” You may also find a smattering of home hacks, product recommendations, and book reviews, as well as tidbits about cooking, gardening, teaching, and other passions of mine.
More about Zori
I am a Jesus-follower who is passionate about growing to be more like Him, a Pennsylvania girl transplanted to West Virginia, and a wife to the man who sometimes knows me better than I know myself. I have been a mother to 9 who have entered our lives through birth or foster care in the past three and a half years, yet am only currently mothering one dear girl who does not yet share our last name. I’m a lover of all things peaceful, beautiful, and outdoorsy. My creative outlets are cooking, gardening, and writing. A teacher by profession, I began my dream of being a homemaker over a year ago, and am now finally embarking on the adventure of blogging.
Here are some personal tidbits that reflect my unique perspective , informing my thinking, living, and writing:
- Wealth in Poverty
I grew up the oldest of six children in a one-income home. My father is a fine wood-worker; my mother a homemaker. Though we never had to go without necessities, our family drove around in un-cool cars or older vans and wore hand-me-down, yard sale, Goodwill, or consignment clothes. We went without the possessions, activities, and vacations often expected in typical American families, but we were rich. We always ate good food around the dinner table, had fun together, and learned more from our experiences than a classroom could ever teach. Though perhaps outwardly poor, we learned to value what really matters.
- Homeschooler to public school teacher
I was homeschooled from 2nd grade onwards. After high school, I went to college and became a certified teacher, spending 9 years in public school classrooms teaching English, then English as a Second Language, and later Reading. I grew up with the benefits of flexible , one-on-one learning, but then gained the training and experience of what works and doesn’t in a classroom setting. I appreciate the pros and cons of both learning environments.
- House church vs. mainstream church experience
Following a childhood in mainstream churches, my family spent a most of my teen years in small house churches. The two experiences provided many contrasts. Again, I see the pros and cons of each church format, while yearning for so much more than the American church’s status quo.
- Cross-cultural perspective
In my latter 20s, I spent two years living and teaching conversational English in Kazakhstan, a Central Asian republic between Russia and China. It remains one of my favorite life experiences. I learned that different doesn’t mean better or worse. There are benefits to being American and living in the United States, but there are a host of things it would benefit us to learn from other countries and cultures.
- Single into my 30s
All through my 20s and into my early 30s, I struggled with seeing ABSOLUTELY NO potential husbands on the horizon. Learning to choose contentment and find meaning in singleness proved to be a blessing when I finally met my husband in my early 30s and married almost two years later. Now the endless wait seems as nothing; it was totally worth it. I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences for getting married earlier in life.
- Stage of life misfits
Marrying later in life leads to raising children later in life, and both place us in an awkward position. Nearly all the people at our stage in life are recently out of college, or at least 10 years younger than us. Couples our own age are raising teenagers, while we are still dealing with babies and toddlers. While we don’t completely fit either place, maybe that gives us a bigger circle of friends!
- Acquainted with disappointment and grief
We’ve been through the endless mill of fertility treatments. Subsequently we experienced the loss of our first child, Josiah, shortly after birth, followed by two miscarriages, and yet another life-limiting diagnosis for our daughter halfway through my fourth pregnancy. Now we understand the pain that many couples silently endure in a world that celebrates pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing without a thought for those who can’t.
How I Started Blogging
There are many blogs about parenting, spiritual growth, pregnancy and infant loss—countless ones about health and cooking—and even a few about foster parenting. Why start another one of the same?
After resigning from my teaching position to stay home full-time with our foster-but-hopefully-soon-to-be-adopted-daughter, my husband encouraged me to start a blog. Before that, I had never considered entering the blogging world, but that summer I started reading about blogging and grew more and more excited about the possibilities. Then an 11-week-pregnancy sapped my energy. After recovering from that miscarriage, the addition of a foster sibling pair to our home that winter left my mind and schedule spinning too much to leave any energy for thinking about—let alone starting—a blog. However, the idea, the growing dream, never completely faded.
Then I became pregnant again, and this time the pregnancy seemed healthy and stable. However, we eventually found out our baby girl had the same anomalies—and poor prognosis—that our son did (see Josiah’s Story – Part 1). Immediately I started processing my disbelief and grief by writing, either journaling or sharing on Facebook. The response was overwhelming, not only to me personally, but to what I wrote and how I wrote. This time I felt compelled to blog. No more waiting for the right time. Now was the time. There were things I HAD to write, maybe just for myself, but possibly also for other women needing understanding, camaraderie, and hope.
So here we are. It is intimidating to enter my voice into the mix of all the amazing writers and resources already available online, but I trust that I also have something valuable to share. I hope that what you read here will challenge, encourage, and inspire you in your own life’s journey to deeper faith, greater joy, and more constant strength.