When I was two, our family changed forever with the birth of my brother Levi. He was cute, he was sweet, but he was born with Down’s syndrome. From internet sites to pamphlets, my parents stocked up on loads of information on how to raise a child with a disability. One of these little go-to guides featured a section on children with Down’s that were up for adoption. This is where our family stumbled across the picture of a cute little blonde named Eric. Adopting Eric was a flawless idea. What better than to give Levi a companion to grow up with! But from 911 prank calls to filling up the gas tank with water the little dynamo sure gave us a run for our money.
When I was eleven, my parents became respite care providers. It was an exciting ride to get a new brother or sister every week. Most of them were sweet (but there was one knuckle-head that dismantled his bed and through it out the two-story window!) Then there was Randi. While taking her in for a week or so Randi’s foster parents they decided to extend their time without her, forever. She has lived with our family ever since.
After a series of events that led the company that my dad worked for to close, the family started on a new adventure. My dad took his three main joys and made it into an occupation: Farming (he was dairy farmer in Wisconsin for 20 years), Ministry (he was a pastor for 12 years), and his ability to give grace to everyone, especially people with disabilities.
With this combination, as well as my older brother’s new degree earned in business, our family started brewing up the new family business: a farm setting for adults with disabilities, where they would strive to live, live, laugh, love, learn, and leave a legacy.
In 2006, the plans stopped unexpectedly when my older brother was killed in a car accident. Though the rocky interlude, our family persevered and through the grace of God, our business opened its doors for the first time in 2007.
We began to teach adults with disabilities through the use our 5 L’s business cornerstone. But I have realized that every one of these special people in my life have taught me the same virtues. They have shown me how to live through adversity. They have shown me how to love every one of their little quirks. They give me a laugh daily with their outrageous schemes. They have taught me that they have purpose, even if no one can see it.
In 2014, I started my own adventure to fulfill a similar dream for my brothers: A coffee shop. It is my eternal dream to create and fulfill the dreams of my brothers. In 2014 I graduated with a degree in business, and three weeks later I opened the doors of The Spotted Cow Coffeehouse. It’s crazy, a bit quirky, but it’s my purpose.
Each little adventure just engraves a new footprint on the journey through a special world.