November 2015

Jonathan and I (and Parker) got to go to Dallas for a 3 day conference. I loved it and God was really working in my heart and on me through this time. God also did some healing work in Jonathan and took ahold his heart. Jonathan and I got to sleep ALL night uninterrupted 3 nights in a row. The first time in forever. We felt so rested and we needed rest. And hearing Francis Chan live was amazing. We also got to see a couple friends we hadn’t seen in forever. Jonathan’s best friend all growing up and his wife and daughter and we ran into a friend we went to college with. Such a fun time to get away and enjoy some time with each other and with God. It was the perfect refreshing time.

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And of course the kids were having a blast with Papa and Nani.IMG_1543

Even though we were no longer doing foster care, God was showing us opportunity after opportunity to love others, give, and serve Him. He wasn’t done with us even though it looked different than what we had thought it would.

I turned 31. And my man was amazing. He took me to Tulsa for a date alone. On The Border, Barnes and Noble and Target.

He also set up a scavenger hunt all over town and the end surprise was a new Kindle. I didn’t even know I wanted one of these things and I love it!

This girl got lost in the crowd when there were 6 kids, she was forced to grow up and help out. She was needing some 1 on 1 time and I was happy to oblige. I don’t remember where we went or what we did but I know when we pulled back into the driveway she asked me if we could just sit there for a few minutes and just talk. She told me she wasn’t done spending time with me. It was precious and good for our souls.

Then there’s this kid… He’s all boy.

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We have been able to get back to school! Homeschooling is such a blessing to our family, but especially this year. With having a new baby, extra kiddos, and other family issues going on. We have been able to pull back and take some time off when needed. Then dive back into it when things got settled.

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The weather has been absolutely WONDERFUL. We were putting our Christmas lights up and an ice cream truck drove by!

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I’ve always been a white lights sort of girl, but this year we decided to have some fun and get colorful. My kids LOVE it!IMG_1971

Then life began to feel normal again. In the wonderful weird normal sort of way.

My mom wanted an updated picture for Christmas, since we’ve added 2 kids since the last family photo. Zeke and Parker needed to be above the fireplace too. So we traveled down to see them before heading out on Thanksgiving vacation. I’d say it was worth it. Look at this beautiful picture of these beautiful people!

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October 2015

IMG_1325 This guy right here is my guy. Through the ups and downs and the flips and turns of this life, he is always right by my side. I couldn’t have made it through the past few months without him. He was my rock. Even through his exhaustion he stepped up and held me, helped me, and led this family. There were many days I was unable to do anything and he allowed me to do just that. There were even more days that I just wanted to run away and he tossed me the keys and told me to take my time. He took time off work. He gave up sleep. He rocked babies, changed diapers, and cooked dinners. He got down on his knees every morning and prayed for our family and for me. Every night before falling asleep he prayed over me. He has been selfless, loving, kind, and has had a servant’s heart. He’s been a leader and made some tough decisions for our family. I can’t even come close to saying how thankful I am for my husband. I know whatever live throws at us we can handle it because we will handle it together. Thanks babe.

The craziness of life continued in the month of October. Remember the whole 6 kids under 6 years old.

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Most days I just tried to put out whatever crisis was most important at the moment. AKA – crying babies and poopy diapers.

But we had some good times too. Some smiles and laughs.

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At one point we were even crazy enough to take our large crew to Silver Dollar City.

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Every Thursday we would load up and travel for a parents’ visit an hour away, sit in the car for an hour, and drive an hour home. 6 kids in carseats is an interesting dynamic. Running errands and getting out of the house was a chore to say the least

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Through all the tears and struggles God was doing some BIG things in my heart and in our family!

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It was fun to be able to give these girls some experiences that they had never had before.

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IMG_0247I also couldn’t have survived these past couple of months without these 2 amazing people! Papa and Nani! They stepped up in a big way. They decided that we were a team and would support us and while 4 adults weren’t quite enough for our crazy crew it was more helpful than what our 4 hands could’ve been. They gave us breaks by watching all 6 kids for us and were patient with us when we were slightly grouchy and didn’t want to get out of the house. And Mike was patient and understanding with Jonathan at work. Plus I’m sure they said a prayer or two hundred for us!

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Exactly one month to the date of the girls coming to our house they went out to another house.

And I felt like I could breathe again for the first time.

Then we began the adjustment of being a family of 6. And it felt good.

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We enjoyed Halloween by having a simple day. We enjoyed a birthday party at the jump station and then went around our neighborhood and ran into some friends. We got buckets of candy and then had fun handing it all out with Papa and Nani.

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We were ready to turn the page to a new month and new adventures.

Enter September = Survival Mode

Do you guys see this face? This is how exhausted I was!

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September = the beginning of survival mode.

In September we had a newborn and were approved for our foster care. We went from having 3 kids to 6 kids, 6 years old and younger.

I don’t remember a lot about September or the next couple of months, I think my brain was trying to help me just survive. Most of the days were filled with tears and counting down the minutes until I could go to sleep again. I’m just keeping it real. It was HARD. Like for real hard. People would ask me in awe how we were doing all of it. And with tears in my eyes and fear all over my face, I would answer, not very well.

(I’ll write a post about our foster care experience and what all we learned and went through soon.)

Here are a few moments I found on my camera.

 

Simple Christmas

Every year we set out to have a simple Christmas.

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We say, NO MORE TOYS. But every year it’s bigger than we want or planned. I always set our budget WAY too low, probably even unrealistic, thinking we will spend so little. I go into it with good intentions. But, maybe I’ve been looking at it all wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t set out to have a simple Christmas. Maybe Christmas should be BIG. Like really BIG. No, no. I’m not talking about getting my kids every single toy they want. I’m talking about BIG GIVING. I think I’ll stop worrying about and feeling guilty that I bought too much. I’m not “ruining” my kids and raising brats. I am however, raising sinners, in need of a Savior. And woohoo!!!! A Savior has been born! You know – on Christmas Day. Happy Birthday, Jesus!

I have no idea where I’m going with this post, but for real. My kids will get toys that they don’t need and might only play with for a month.

BUT, we get to GIVE on Christmas. We get to show people that we love them by giving! God showed us that he loved us by giving his son. Jesus showed he loved us by giving his life. And by george, we can show we love by giving to those in need, by giving to those in our family and to our friends – those in need and not, and whoever else God puts in our path. We are all in need of love!

I think I have missed the point – in emphasizing and trying to accomplish a simple Christmas I have done the exact opposite of what I wanted to do, I have put the focus on the stuff. How little stuff we buy. NO, it’s not about the stuff. It’s about the giving out of love. And Christ of course. But that’s my point. He GAVE his life for me and you.

I’m done with the guilt. I like getting my kids things because I love them. And showing them how to give good gifts out of love is something I want them to learn. And I love teaching them to give to others. We not only get new toys and things to donate to different charities in our community and around the world. But we have stopped having garage sales and look for opportunities to give our gently used toys, clothes, and gear to others in our community! It’s been so fun to give in this way. Yes, we are giving in our excess, but I hope and pray it is a blessing to those who receive it.

I pray that my children are learning to give. They go through their room every couple weeks and make a pile of things they want to give away. I no longer look at it as a waste when something brand new goes into the “get rid of pile” because I know some little kid out there is getting something awesome because my kids wanted to give it away instead of selling it in a garage sale for a couple of bucks or storing it away never to play with it. Not that having a garage sale or selling your things is wrong. I think it is smart and can be a great source of income for a family. I just mean for us, for our family, God has put it on our hearts this year to just give it. The nice things, the new things, the loved things, just give it away. I think he’s trying to teach me to be a better steward with our money and resources. AKA – maybe break the shopping habit!

So that’s a way we have learned to love others this year. Storing our treasures in heaven. And letting the kids have some fun along the way. So no more focusing on how little or how much and our focus will be on GIVING!

So, here’s to our BIG Christmas that’s coming up!

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I’m Back The Calm After the Storm

Oh my goodness. I can’t even begin to explain to you how crazy the past several months have been. I haven’t written and posted a blog post in 4 months. And these last 4 months have been a roller coaster ride. I should’ve been sticking to my blog even closer to document all the craziness. But alas, here I am, in the calm after the storm.

To be honest, I thought I was done blogging. I haven’t had a desire to do it and still don’t. BUT, I just went through some of my blog posts from earlier this year and saw pictures of my precious babies and read the stories I had written down. I loved all the memories it brought to mind. And these last 4 months have been a complete blur. I remember close to nothing. Most days I was just thankful to have survived the day. The saying that says the days are long, but the years are short is so true!

So here I am again. I’ve been all over the place on what I have wanted for my blog. And I think I’m back to square one – a place for me to record my family’s lives. A place I can capture memories, process thoughts, tell stories, and look back in the years to come to see how we’ve grown and changed!

I would love for you to come along for the ride, but to be honest (because really I try to have a filter to be polite and half truth/white lie things so they sound nicer, but that just is not me. Honesty just flies out of my mouth even when I try to keep it in.) Ok, anyways, to be honest, please read and be encouraged! Comment, share, like, ask questions. I would love that, but right now, this is more for me. I just really need somewhere that I can put my pictures and stories without letting another day, week and month slip by without me fully being here. I need a place where I can come and not worry about what someone else expects or wants from me, but that I can just be me.

And this will be just me. No glamour, just whatever comes out through my fingertips. I can’t let these precious and sleepless years go forgotten.

I have to give myself permission for this place on the world wide web to be whatever I need it to be. If I want to record a moment that I want to turn into a memory, then I will. If I have some thought that comes from something I read, then that’s what I will share. If I want to open up and share part of what God is doing in my life, then I will take courage and do that. I’m giving myself permission, to not have rules, but to just be.

So yeah, I’m back.

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People Pleaser

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10

I can’t help but to see my silence and my fear of having a voice as my way of trying to win the approval of people, not God. The verse above is just the opposite of who I am and what I do. And sadly, that would make me not a servant of Christ. 

Why do I try to please people? 

I can’t have that. I must seek only the approval of God. I must work for Him in whatever I do (Colossians 3:23) not for you. 

I am told God is working in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:13) Did you read that? He gives me the desire and power to do what pleases him, not what pleases you. He gives you that same power and a desire to please him not me. That should give us a confidence. I have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of me to do what God wants me to. 

If I don’t do what I think God wants me to do than I am sinning. So, I no longer can let my desire to please others keep me hiding in fear because of what they would think of me as I do God’s work. However that may look in my life (which will be different than what it looks like in your life.) And that is what is so hard for me and maybe you too – being different. 

That doesn’t make it easy and it is scary. But comfortable is boring. I don’t want to (want to) be comfortable any longer. I want to be different. I want to please Him. So if that makes you upset, than I have to say #sorrynotsorry. 

I’m an Isolater

My husband and I were driving home from a date night tonight – food, Target and Starbucks. We love driving together it always seems to be the place our best conversations come from. Tonight my husband said: “God’s given us the gift of time.” And I completely agree.

You see my day feels like 24 hours. I’m not sure the last time I’ve said “I don’t have time.” We guard our time very closely, however after talking tonight we couldn’t help but to come to the conclusion that we aren’t the best stewards of the time that has been given to us. 

We have been so intentional about what we fill our time with, that I think we might have gone overboard with the word no where we now have a surplus of time that just gets filled with sitting. We don’t want to be running from one activity to another every night of the week where we never see each other or have time to be together as a family. But I think we have even gone a step further. You see, we are both major introverts and homebodies. If something involves anything that is away from home our first instinct is always to say no. And seriously, new places and people scare me. 

As we continued to talk I recalled a point that was in a book I just finished reading, “Wasted Prayer.” He was talking about how it is hard to love others if you isolate yourself and don’t have community. Oh so true. And we are isolaters. I mean really – how can you love others if you are never around others? How do you know the needs of those around you if you are not around them?

It is easier for Jonathan and I to say a big yes and get out of our comfort zone than it is to say yes to smaller things – such as a lunch date, attending a baby shower, or having people over for dinner. 

Why is that? Who cares if we are awkward at conversations or if someone comes over and a mess is made. A big hold up for me of having people over is cooking dinner. I’m not even good at making meals for my little family, how am I supposed to cook for another family that I barely know? Hmm… maybe Pizza Hut delivery. 

Getting out of the house takes effort with little ones in tow. But I think it might be worth it. 

In high school I remember feeling like such a loser if I was home on a Friday night and I had no plans. Now, I love an empty calendar. I love never setting my alarm clock. I love having hours at home with my husband and children.  There’s no where else I’d rather be actually. 

But God has called me to love others. And I have to be willing to get out of my comfort zone to do that. I have to throw off the label that I am not a people person and put on the love of Christ. I have to be willing to put in the effort and time it takes to love others. And that means being around others. (And then coming back home to recharge.)

I think there’s a balance to it all. I can’t say yes to every opportunity that comes my way and I won’t. I still have to guard my family time. I have to be smart with the hours we are at home to make sure they are of quality. That relationships are being made and priorities are getting done. But I also can’t hide behind my family anymore either. We have to serve others as a family and sometimes by ourselves. That means getting out into the community and around people. That means sitting next to someone at the doctor’s appointment and chatting. That means attending someone’s celebration party to support and love them.

It means loving others with God’s love even when my desire is to isolate myself. 

God has a plan for our lives. Our everyday matters to Him. I’m going to do my best to wake up each morning and ask God how He wants me to spend my day.