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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Our Families 4 Core Values

We are not a driftwood family.

I, Jonathan, was a sophomore in high school and I was excited for school. This usually didn’t happen to me, school was usually something I slept through and then got a B or C on a test and went on to the next grade. This year though I was pumped. I was taking a class that I found very interesting. It combined my love for history and my love for things that were so outlandish they couldn’t possibly be real but they were cool. It was Mythology Class.

My first day of class I walk into the room to see Mr. Bennet standing at the front of the room. I had heard about him but seeing him was completely different. He was a slender, grey haired, giant standing awkwardly at the front of the room. Imagine him as the oddball professor in a movie, who was just a little quirky and had a mustache that wiggled as he talked. He seemed like a fun yet odd man, but none of that could have prepared me for the first thing he said to us in that class. Each year he would begin his classes with his famous “Driftwood” speech. My paraphrased version goes something like this: “There are many kinds of wood that have all different kinds of uses. They achieve something and go somewhere on purpose, but not driftwood. Driftwood doesn’t really do anything and never arrives anywhere on purpose. So don’t be driftwood. Don’t float in and out of my class physically or mentally. And if you are driftwood, drop my class now.”

Please be glad I shortened that because when I think back to it, I’m pretty sure it lasted about 90 minutes. But still to this day, years and years down the line, I still remember that speech. I remember the driftwood that “never ends up anywhere on purpose.” It is really a lesson we can apply in so many ways. We see people apply it all the time in their careers, for their kids, and even in businesses and churches. I really believe though that if we don’t get this concept in one area of our lives, we might be missing something huge. This area is in our family.

As the “man of the house” there seems to be a certain amount of pressure. To lead and to steer our family to where it is supposed to go is the weight that we as fathers and husbands bear. It is the authority I believe that has been created into families and given to us by God. Some fathers do this well and others seem to let chance and circumstance guide their family. Like driftwood, I see numerous families go along until one day they look around and realize they have landed somewhere, and many times they don’t like where they landed.

I don’t want that. I won’t have that. And so to my family I want to say, “We will not be a driftwood family.”

And so here are my family’s core values. These are the things we believe in and live by. These are the things we hold close. This is how we avoid being driftwood.

DISCLAIMER: As you read these values you will notice an absence of 
God and Jesus. This is because I believe that Christ is not a value 
of our life; He is our life. We are a family centered around Christ,
because when you have truly accepted what Christ has done for us, I 
don’t believe that is a value you hold, but it is a way you live. And
when you know Christ, there is no other way to live, than to live for
Him, and that includes our families.

4 Core Values:

We are the Greatest Influence

As a family, I believe that we are the greatest influence in each other’s lives. We are the ones we live with, eat with, talk with and put up with. Meaning we have the biggest impact on each other more than anyone or anything else. Because of that, we will maximize our influence. We will not dole out the responsibility of being the main teachers, pastors, mentors, comedians, and friends out to anyone else.

Prime Time is Family Time

The best part of our days are when we are all together. Those family moments that we make around the dinner table and reading on our huge sectional are priceless. We will not sell them away for more time, more money or more of anything else.

Better Together

A family that stays together . . . well stays together. We are a family that is better together than we are apart. We will be best friends because we do everything together. In a world that has so many things that sends the family in different directions, we will stay together. If one person does a sport or activity then the family is there with them; that’s the way we role.

Love Like We’re Not Scared

We will be a family that loves like we are not scared. We will give because that is love. We will accept because that is love. We will walk into someone’s mess because that is love. There may be some scary things that come with loving in that way, but we will love like we’re not scared. Some people may warn that doing some of the things we do out of love will invite negative results into our family, and that is true, but if I can teach my children only two things in life then I want it to be to love God and to love others.

So no, we will not drift around aimlessly, but we will be a family on purpose. Years down the road when we look back we may see we have missed some things in life, but I believe we will see we have gained so much more.

—  Jonathan, husband and dad of the family

Let’s Go Wild

Today we went to a wild animal safari near our home for the first time. Goodness it was fun. I don’t really have anything else to say besides that.

When we first got there we went through the driving trail. There were tons and tons of different animals. Every kind! We loved it. The kids loved it.


We love making so many fun memories with Papa and Nani. We know how lucky we are to be able to do that!

  
  

This was my favorite part! I pet a giraffe today! Seriously, how awesome is that?!

Papa’s boy!

I had no idea that the snake I let my children hold today was a boa constrictor. They loved it. So crazy!
  

This girl wanted a peacock feather so bad. And Nani and her found one.

Then the girls got to ride a camel! 

But really they loved riding the horses and didn’t want stop. Zeke’s smile was awesome the whole time.


What a fun day!!!