A Sneak Peak at Our Big News…

We are working hard over here.  Myself, my Hubby, and the kids too.  Everyone is doing there part to help with our big news.  WE ARE EXCITED, about what is to come, but right now we are just grunting it out.  Working with our noses in computers and behind the camera doing all sorts of things.  I am especially excited to share it here with you, MY FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!  You have hung here with me for over a year and read along while we limped, and prayed, and lived, and I hope this will go on and on, but along with it we are launching a little project close to my heart.  Something that has been in the works since we were waiting to travel to Ethiopia 4 years ago.  God is bringing it to fruition!  We may be crazy(and have some serious sleep deprivation), but it sure is fun watching a little dream come to life!  Here is your sneak peak- there will be more details to come in the weeks ahead so get ready because I am going to need you to pass the word along, (you know you want to!)…

 

Love to each of you…

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Fall Festival Time – 2013!

I went to the annual fall festival tonight accompanied by my handsome husband, buzz lightyear, 2 Thomas’s, and one beautiful butterfly… she was a very naughty butterfly today and was not supposed to get any treats.  But after about 10 minutes in- I caved, not sure if it was compassion or sheer exhaustion, but either way, she was a happy bouncy little butterfly the rest of the night, gotta love parenting!!!

 

 

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Happy Fall Yall

It’s my favorite time of year and we are finally fever free, it has been a LONG seven weeks!  The first stop out and about was to our favorite pumpkin patch.  Here are a few cute ones.  Hopefully I will catch back up on blogging soon, but in the meantime we are enjoying being somewhat back to normal over here.  Praying each of you have wondrous moments this fall that draw your heart to Him…

 

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We have been eaten alive…

…by the flu.

Every routine that our family has ever established GONE.  Our wonderful farmers market whole food eating plan has turned into whatever is pre-made at the store or easy to pick up from a restaurant.  Sleeping schedules – how about sleeping at all?  No TV – let’s just pull out that lap top and play movies until your brains turn to mush so I can survive the day.  I HAVE survived – applause is appreciated here- 4 weeks of fevers, and late night luke warm baths, up all night with someone, medicine wars and meltdowns, throwing up here, there, and everywhere, a very sick daddy and an even sicker me.  Survived, yes.  But without casualties?  NO.

I have been utterly discontent, exhausted, bitter, fearful, overwhelmed, and ungrateful… just to name a few.  And what I have discovered in these last 4 weeks is that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do, is just to do the next thing.  Clean up throw up.  Drag yourself off of the couch to throw something on a plate that vaguely resembles a meal.  Give another hug when you just feel like locking your door and never coming out.  Sometimes living the gospel is so painfully ordinary.  Where was my “chariots of fire” music as I crawled into the tub fully clothed at 11:00 pm with my lip chattering fever spiking little one?  Where was my olympic gold as I did yet another load of throw up laundry only to see another quickly on its way?

I wonder if Jesus beat back the feelings of smallness as he worked quietly with wood or went of alone to pray?  I wonder in the moments not recorded, the painfully every day ones, if it was a hard choice to choose joy?  I wonder if he ever felt far from His father, even though He was so near?

I have felt far, forgotten even.  And although my head knows that those feelings are heresy because He lives in me and gives me breath and life each moment each day-it doesn’t make me feel them any less.  The feelings are there, strong and unrelenting.  The question is will I live by them or in spite of them?

I wish I could say I have done the latter, but I haven’t.  I have cried and been angry and stopped my feet because I want an easy life.  And then I am reminded that this IS EASY.  For I have children to be sick, and a home to be thrown up all over.  I have medicine to bring the fevers down and food to put in bellies that are aching.  I HAVE SO MUCH…

I just have to preach it to myself over and over again.  I have to remind myself that my troubles are “light and momentary and achieving for me an eternal glory that FAR outweighs them all” 2 Cor 4:17.  And I have to be willing to lay me down.  That is where it gets hard for me.  To except the sickness, and let it work through me.  Except the waiting and let it develop patience and perseverance and hope.

Living out the gospel is hard and usually so NOT heroic.  But it is in that everyday surrender, in our quiet painful “yes” to the circumstances He has allowed that we become like Him.

Eaten alive and yet we press on, for Him and His name’s sake…

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To All the Sweaty Girls

In light of my oh so sweaty field trip yesterday to the alligator farm with our co op, this just had to be said…

“You know she’s a sweater” I believe those were the exact words uttered by my father across the table to my future husband right before he asked for my hand in marriage.

Nice move, right?

Now, to be fair, it takes one to know one, he is also “a sweater”, to use his terminology, and he has been my whole life.  He wasn’t trying to throw me under the bus, he was trying his best to bring a little reality to his love struck future son-in-law.  Of course, I would have chosen a different bit of truth to level the field of play, but that is why they are men and have these sort of meetings without us being present.

Here is the truth though, he was right.  I sweat.  Not pretty glistening sweat, I mean all out dripping down my temples red-faced kind of sweat and at the slightest sign of heat.  I also have hairs in very inconvenient places that grow too long before they are plucked, a saggy baby belly, and a million other things I would rather not mention.  In fact there are a million flaws about me outwardly and inwardly as well, I could list them but that would be beside the point.

For years, these flaws-my sweating- it all held me back.  It imprisoned me.  I avoided things like outdoor picnics and summer time field trips, really any kind of large social gathering caused anxiety.  Not because I didn’t like sweating, although I could do without it, but because I didn’t like other people to see me sweat.  It mortified me, made me feel embarrassed and so NOT lady like.  Smudged make-up and sweat dripping down my back, was not the picture of grace and beauty I wanted to portray.

But my picture, the one that I get to display, it isn’t really my choice- It’s His.  He chooses our “pictures”.  He gives us a basket full of things in a life and says live in this, through this, with this.  He says this not because he wants to torture us, but because He wants to display himself in us.  HIS GRACE HIS BEAUTY -NOT MINE.

We all do it, put on our face.  We try to put the best out in front and leave the straggly bits behind so no one sees the real stuff that unravels.  For some of us it’s being a sweaty mess at a party, others have body issues, there are the alcoholic issues, and eating disorder issues.  Really there are so many things we work hard for others just not to see.

But here is the thing… those unraveling bits are where the power lies.  I don’t think I would have ever learned this without our struggles in adoption over the past few years.  It has taken that pain, that exposure, to reveal the power of His truth that comes when we live open and real FOR HIM.

And so I have learned to embrace my pain and live it out loud.  Instead of letting the hard humiliate me, I allow it to humble me.  Sure, I may be the only one who looks like a hot mess, but I am never the only one who feels like one.  And my willingness to live in the mess of my struggle is often the entrance into real that someone else needs.

The reality is that we all struggle and it is bearing your struggle, pressing hard into it, accepting it and not running from it that brings truth and human camaraderie.  It allows Him the opening to move through me to touch those around me.  When I accept the mess of who I am and open my life up for others to see, it allows Christ to unearth in me His spirit and His power.

It is our struggles that can become the vehicle for true connection and honest growth.  So whatever has you bound up today, whatever feels like your prison – don’t hide it from others or try to avoid it.  Instead, live in it and ask God to use it as He humbles you through it.  Let his strong be in your weak.  It might be the very thing that He uses to save the struggling soul next to you.  Our lack, our mess, our real – is the entrance into His unbelievable Grace, His humbling mercy, and His transforming power.

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Our First Few weeks of School & Interveiws

My intention was to do a first week post, but like most things in life that had to wait and so it has now become a first few weeks post! Things have gone really well, and everyone is excited each day for school time.  It has been A LOT more work than ever, but with adding a 5 day pre-k program and co-op classes to the mix that is expected.  Praying that my energy will kick in here in the next couple weeks as we level out (I think I have been praying for that for the last 6 years, so maybe I should not hold my breath!)  I have been battling fluid in my inner ear which has made me dizzy and not feel very good.  Still waiting for my appointment with the ENT, so hopefully he can help me get it cleared up and feeling better.  EVERYTHING is harder in life when mama is sick, so I am praying for healing so we can forge ahead.

I did something new this year and interviewed the kids with questions and wrote down their answers.  LIke a first week of school interview.  I LOVE THIS IDEA.  And hope to continue it for years to come.  I know they will love looking back on their answers in years to come, and so will I!  I got the idea and questions from Carisa over at 1 plus 1.  So without further ado here are some of the highlights of our last few weeks…

First Day “school supply present”. This is my solution to the shopping madness in the store. I like to buy things on clearance or big sale at different times of the year, many times in advance. So the idea of taking my kids school supply shopping just makes me see dollar signs.

To make it fun without that, I fill a huge box with all the new things each year including some of the cooler school books that came with curriculum. And then let them open it and rummage through on their first day.  Making it like a present is more fun than the shopping and they get a bunch of new stuff, but I didn’t have to pay top dollar and didn’t have to deal with them all wanting their own things and fighting crowds for school supplies!   And that’s Grams in the background she came for a visit on our first day!

Nothing like the first day of school feeling a bit like Christmas!

The little boys got in on the cookie making

Whole wheat coconut sugar cookies in the number or letter for our school year. Yum! 

I let the boys make the letter of their name since they don’t have a year yet. I was going to make them each decorate a letter “T” for trouble since that what they add to each school day! Well that and Terrific, Total Love, and Too much cuteness! ;o) (let’s look at the positive shall we????)

See what I mean about trouble!  That’s my chair that he lies on the floor and kicks with those sweet little piggy’s

Caleb made a scroll of the story of Noah. We studied the dead sea scrolls during our history time, fascinating…

We Bobbed for apples for the letter A. And then made a yummy apple crisp for dessert out of all the half bitten apples!

Showing off their apples

MG’s B is for Butterfly sensory bin art

Pattern review with animals

Ready for their first Day at Co-op.  God has blessed us with a sweet group to school and share life with on Fridays, we are very thankful!

Showing off his new microscope he got for science class, he LOVES it, and a number one for the big first grader!

Well that is a peak into our days.  Hope the beginning of your school year is off to a blessed start.  Love to all…

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What to do when you are Fainthearted

She said it like it was a hello or goodbye, matter of fact like… “for such a fainthearted woman, you sure are walking through some hard places.”  Just like that – my life summed up- faint. hearted.

It’s true.  She birthed me and knows me well and she was right, I am faint of heart.

Broken, empty, unable to make it through a day of housework or homeschool without battling discouragement and overwhelm. Maybe it is the season of young children – of weary battles, or maybe not?  Maybe He purposed me in the womb this way- with a bent towards needing Him. And He has used this season to bring me there again-to bring me back home- to REALLY needing Him, needing Him just to do the next thing. The dishes- a diaper- the next meal… Maybe this was HIS IDEA all along

The baptism of the broken- to submerge me in it head long.  For Him to bring me face to face with the end of me so that I might, just for a moment, behold the true beginning of Him.

So the question becomes what to do with a faint heart?  I can be depressed about it, complain about it,  tell God “no”, that I can’t endure another task or trial, please just not today.  I can let it define me, limit me, and hold me back…

Or

I can let it lay me down.

Flat down on my face, wrecked, weak, and needy…

I can let it lay me down because from the down I can finally look up and see Him in ALL HIS GLORY.

Being down is what keeps me yoked, desperate, and unable to find my way apart from Him.

When I surrender to that position, rather than fight it,  I can let it develop in me the deep understanding of my lack, because only in that empty place do I find Him- My overflowing grace.

I can surrender to the baptismal waters that rise even though they feel like drowning, because really, they are birthing instead.

Being fainthearted is not a diagnosis or a predicament, but rather a posture.  It’s a posture of need, of simplicity, of being fully, presently aware of our smallness and inability to do anything apart from The Lord.

A faint heart is the uncomfortable weakness that opens up like a vessel to be filled- cracked painfully at the seam – at what feels to be the breaking point of sure failure.  When in truth, it is the empty that begs for the fullness of God.  It is the opening up to ALL OF HIM in which His grace and mercy can finally run free in a life.

Being faint hearted is to live fully aware of my inability to fully live.  But it is in that very place of utter dependance and painful surrender where I am free. Because He is fully alive in Me and I in turn with Him, intertwined and woven together.  His heart with mine, my step in His…unbroken.

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A Long Overdue Picture Update: Summer 2013

Summer has been an overwhelming time for me for many reasons, but blogging has had to go into the “when I have time category” and there has not been any of that!  So here is my summer update, which is technically already over, although it sure doesn’t feel like it outside…

So first the BIG news, we gave up TV.  We have been praying about it for months, but I was patiently fearfully waiting until the right time, and finally decided that there wasn’t one.  So one day, to the shock of my husband, after the kids were fighting once again over what show to watch, I unplugged the 48 inch beast, hoisted it down and into the closet.  And that was it.  We turned off cable and rearranged our room.  It has been the best decision ever.  And a total miracle because not one of my children have complained or whined about it, not once,  CRAZY!!!!  I mean we are talking about some TV loving kids, but not a peep.  We did keep a TV plugged in upstairs for Friday night movie nights, so that is a nice treat for them and at least they won’t grow up totally weird.  :o)  I am truly so thankful that we did it.  There are times it gets loud and hectic and TV would be an easy go to, but overall it has just meant a lot more of this…

and this

In other news there have been plenty of things growing here besides my four kiddos

Some not quite ripe tomatoes

We got just a few blackberries this year, next year should be lots more

Our basket of herbs that have made every dinner yummier

and plenty of water play of course.  Which means loads of wet towel laundry-is it fall time yet?  I’m ready for cool breezes and pumpkins ;o)

His best Jeff Corwin impersonation

I have picture of me doing this same thing at this age, it’s like a trip back in time

Despite the ever increasing noise levels there have been sweet moments of love

Just what double sinks are made for

snacks are better sitting in laps

sweet kisses

And beautiful smiles

There have been days like this

and this

Caleb has been hard at work on more of his famous inventions

high tech Mickey Mouse ears

Homemade crutches- thank the Lord for loads of bright blue duck tape on the clearance rack!

His water bottle boat, he had a little help from mom on this one.

And we have learned that being confident in our masculinity is a wonderful freedom

They are so cute playing with the doll house, one of their favorite things latley

Of course dress up is always a fun go to

He is going to LOVE his sister for this picture at about age 12!

There has been time with family

And a few days at the beach

She was in her element in a full on dress, bow and all!

A blissfull 2 hour date for our anniversary while Mae Mae and Papa held down the fort

And a precious reminder why we have given up artificial food dyes- we don’t miss you red #40 – But just look at those juicy red lips! ;o)

And a very fun visitor to our backyard.  Caleb was in full animal discovery heaven!

SO that was our summer!  Blessings to all and thank you for reading here and being a part of our life. I am always humbled, encouraged, and blessed by your comments and your care.  Thank you!

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And We’re Off: School 2013/14!

I have filed, laminated, cut, velcroed, planned, unplanned, and planned again until my brain is mush and my hands are callused, but we are READY to start school tomorrow!  Somehow last night at about 12:00 am I decided to scrap most of the boxed curriculum for Caleb, I know-great idea scrapping the $200 curriculum a day before school is to begin, but I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it.  The progression of the phonics is too slow and was not making sense to me (how can I teach him when I don’t even get it??), so I scrapped it and pulled form a bunch of other resources until about 1:30am and finally I am happy with our phonics.  I think simple is better, and my K just needs to get reading, so that will be my focus this first part of the year.  This year Caleb will be in 1st, MG PreK, and my littles will be majoring in CHAOS, didn’t you know that is a real grade, well, at least over here it is!?

My goal is to get Caleb fluent in reading and to teach both K and MG to become independent learners.  With four kids so close I need them to be able to learn and practice on there own while I am working with another, so we are using work boxes this year to aid in that.  The 2 older ones have a “me” box and then a “mom and me” box.  I have them staggered so each has independent work to work on like: listening center, typing, word puzzles, journaling, etc. while I “teach” the other.  The littles have tot activities that I will pull out each day for them to “work on” during school.

We will see!  All I know is this: the phonics, the bible time, the moments of encouragement and correction is my mission field – my discipleship program.  And so I am expecting God to show up.  Somewhere in the midst of my shortcomings and their many needs, my prayer is that God will be glorified and will instruct our hearts in Him.  If we just get Him this year, we have gotten more than enough.  I have planned it all out, tried to visualize how it will all go, but if I have learned anything in the past 6 years of parenting it is to expect that my plans will most likely be shattered to smithereens.

And what He comes in with will be so much better.

SO REMIND me of this will you!!??  When things fall apart and I am tired and weary and feel like a failure, remind me that He is in this, that this IS HIS IDEA.  Loving His lambs is close to His heart and so then, am I.  

Praying for a blessed year for all my fellow home disciplers out there.

I love looking at how others do school, so I thought it would be fun to show you our set up.  Our room is a play/school room.  I bought the bookshelves and little brown desk from target and the other furniture was given to us.  The rug and valence were cousin hand me downs and my chalk board and white desk were dumpster dive and craigslist projects.  I still need to finish my alphabet and add some labels, but I figured this was about as done as it ever is, not to mention tidy!  SO here ya go- I have never shown any one mission control before, YIKES!  I know it’s a bit much, and that I have a little storage box addiction/problem, but I am working on it! ;o)

Our morning cirlce time board

Mission Control. Now, to be fair, this is my school, gift, craft, sewing, and toy closet. ;o)

Our workboxes and manipulative storage inside mission control. I had to put workboxes in the closet this year as to avoid little hands dumping all of the boxes out. It is perfect because I can CLOSE THE DOOR! YEA!

MG’s work boxes. Gotta love the curly headed labels- couldn’t resist!

Thanks for reading friends, my love and blessings to each of you!

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When Wait Gives Way to Weight

The past 2 years and 4 months of waiting fell heavy today as I sat in the drive-through window at our local pharmacy.  The lady behind the window intending to fill some amoxicillin and send me on my way ushered in a load of hurt instead when she asked the simple question, “his name please?”

These. are. the. words. I. dread.  I have for the past 2 years and 4 months.  Every time I sit anxiously in the waiting room of a Dr. office, or have to call to make an appointment, or talk to anyone official; I have to say it out loud.   It feels like a declaration, out of my own mouth, that he is not my son.  His name is a constant reminder that the wait it not over.

I remember another window.  The window at which I was standing when I got the call.  She quietly asked “is your husband home with you?” Knowing that the news to come might knock me too far down to get back up on my own.  But it was too late, I knew something was not right and pressed anyway.

“They have a lawyer”  she said.  Those are the only words I remember.  The thing that is still clear as day was my inclination to run.  To literally bolt clear through that pane of glass at which I stood and run with him in my arms.  To keep running until it all fell away.  I was sure I couldn’t do this, this was my worst case scenario.  After that came pacing and shaking and worry and just trying to breath until he did get home to pick me up off my shaking knees.

The next days were a blur.  Filled with phone calls and confusion and questions uttered to God in the dark of night as I wept over this precious son of mine.  I could feel the ripping away inside.  How did we get here?  I don’t want to be this mom, this is not what adoption is about.  What do we do?

There were so many questions that God slowly and quietly answered.  I had to fight in those early months just to love him.  Choosing love while staring at potential visible loss was one of the hardest choices I have had to make.  Every snuggle, every rock, became a choice to look the pain in the face and love anyway.

It has gotten easier as time has gone by, mainly because he is a part of me.  I could not not love him if I tried.  But while the choice to love it easier, the waiting is not.  With each passing day the wait has given way to weight and I can feel the pressing, the bending, the breaking.

Some days it feels like anger, deep and burning on the inside.  “What is He doing?  Why hasn’t He stepped in yet?”  Other days tears flow and the waiting turns to grief over the brokeness of it all.  And still others leave me looking on at all the “normal” families just doing life.  The ones who have prayed for us and moved on to live life leaving me feeling stuck, so painfully stuck in the waiting.  Each day I feel it.  Some days, in grace, I stand up in the waiting, under the weight.  And other days I am crushed by it.  Dinners are left un-made, and joy seems like a distant memory.  “Will there ever be relief?”  Even if it ends happy for us there is a birth mom who is broken and a system who is faulty and just so much pain.

I wish I had tidy answers that could be folded up nice and clean with the laundry, but I don’t.  I am still right in the middle of the waiting – feeling the weight.  Like David, I cry out to God that he would hear me and come to our aid.  I pray that this waiting would produce something beautiful in its wake, that could be offered up to the glory of the Lord.

Most days waiting simply becomes a choice to stay here, in this day, and give thanks.  Do the next thing: give the hug, bring the correction, teach the lesson, fall into my bed with the pit in my stomach and give it all, once again, to HIM- the one that holds it all in the palm of His hand anyway.

But the temptation to run is still there.  To busy myself to numb the pain.  To stuff it down and pretend like all is well.  To move on to the next project- anything that will dull the ever increasing ache of waiting.

To me it has been 28 months, but to my God, who is not bound by time, it is merely just a breath, a flicker, a fleeting feather blown by the wind.  So I close my eyes and ask that He renew my perspective with His.  Give me YOUR eyes that I may see truth.  That I may be willing to endure both the wait and the weight of today.  Through His grace and under His mercy we will wait.

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!  Romans 5:3-5 The Message

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