When You Want to Go Back in Time

A friend sent me these pictures yesterday. Five years ago, when all our babies were still babies, and each of us had one more child yet to join our families.

And I had the urge to give in to the ugly cry, but I was about to walk out the door, so I had to hold myself together.

So often lately I have had an intense longing to go back. To rewind time to a simpler season. I’ve been longing for our old homes and old places in life. Our family has done some hard growing up this year and we’ve entered a new, inevitable season. It’s one we’ve been working toward and that is ultimately good, but it hasn’t come without a cost. And I think that has opened up a window in my soul that longs for the past. And even though memories can be good, an unhealthy longing for those days is not productive because the past is not where we live.

Those earlier years, five years ago, and even before, they were simpler times. Not easier. Not by a mile. Those days were hard. And, mamas, don’t ever let someone tell you otherwise. But there is a simplicity to the days of feedings and naps and early bedtimes. There is a simplicity to grade school and third grade math and schedules that can be contained. And ten years from now, I’m sure I will see that this season is its own sort of simpler time too.

I have a woman I look up to who told me once something along the lines of, “First you have babies and toddlers and it’s hard, but it’s the best thing ever. Then they get older and you have teens and it’s hard, but it’s the best thing ever. Then they grow up and go to college and get married. And they move away and you have grandbabies and it’s just you and your husband again. And it’s hard but it’s the best thing ever.”

Every stage of parenting is hard and exhausting. There’s no getting around that. Every stage also comes with abundant joys and rewards. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder for them. Life is about change; nothing stays the same. For those of us that don’t love change, that can be hard. But if we can learn to weather the storms and enjoy the beauty of each season, we just might find that change often brings the best things ever.

For His Glory ~

Signature

Week in Review: 2015 {August & September}

Oh, hi there little blog.  I’ve missed you.  But it’s been good to continue to process some things alone and on paper for a while.  I hope to get back to posting soon, but for now, just a quick recap of the past two months plus pictures and some counting of the gifts, because I’m reminded how much my soul still needs that.  Daily.

August started with Grace’s birthday.  I didn’t do a post on her this year and I’m conflicted about that.  The girls don’t love our social media presence, so I tried to respect that by not doing a whole post, but it’s been tradition and a way I try to honor the girls every year, so I feel like I skipped part of the birthday experience.  She’s still one of my favorites, even if I didn’t write about her.  🙂

After that was back-to-school.  I may have had my own little temper tantrum over it all and seriously questioned our decision to keep them home again.  But then I pulled on my big-girl panties and chose to embrace it all, and so far, the year is going very well.

I started school the week after the girls.  I’m having a great time stretching my brain with Human Anatomy and Applied Behavior Analysis.  I’m still so thankful for the opportunity to take classes again.

September came with Matt’s brother getting married and Labor Day and my birthday.  Also, our 4th annual Capitol Craze run and time with friends from out of town.  The rest of the month flew by and now I find myself on October 6th drinking coffee and reflecting on the first 7 weeks of school.

Life is good.  God is good.  Even when life is hard.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

This sweet bird took refuge under Ellie’s chair at dinner after one of the owls in our backyard tried to make it his dinner.

Ellie’s depiction of Heaven based on the book of Revelation.

The throne of the River of Life.

Yep, that’s Hell. #speechless

This book, a gift from a friend.  Books that touch hearts make the very best gifts, in my opinion.

A new planner makes the idea of a new school year more bearable.  And I’m still seriously in love with this planner.

Copy all the things.  Homeschooling isn’t “green”.

Last day of summer break perfection.

And the first day of school.

Love notes to give me courage and make me laugh.

A little bit of studying.

Wondering why my human anatomy class doesn’t include making models of an osteon from food….

Product testing by the 15 year old.

Testing out the race slide.

Relaxing with Ellie while the others rock it out withe LeCrae.

Fall sunrise

This quote stays with me and I find it’s something I’m still learning….

I’d have to learn a different kind of dancing, the kind that stands still.  The kind that leans into the sure arms of a mysterious and unfathomable God and allows Him to lead, even when she doesn’t know where He is leading.  Because sometimes God fights for His girl in ways she never imagined.

Michelle Cushatt, Undone

And the gifts…..

3261.  restful weekends

3262. a fifteen year old

3263.  a school year almost ready to go

3264. messes and projects and practice seeing past them

3265. sweet middle of the night texts that encourage

3266.  taking a step back and giving thanks

3267. citronella oil and bug spray

3268. poolside date and a bottle of wine

3269. the slow winding down of summer

3270. early classes and the easing back into routine

3271. sunshine, ice cream, and pool time – end of summer break perfection

3272. beautiful Fridays

3273. a school year under way

3274. the glory that surrounds the everyday

3275. Sundays

3276. and Mondays

3277. songs that speak love and life

3278. school

3279. brisk mornings; a sweet taste of fall before summer really ends

3280. errands and good talks with #2

3281. almost-perfect weather

3282. good, normal days

3283. time to walk at the lake

3284. long weekends

3285. taking a deep breath

3286. perfect weddings

3287. birthday blessings

3288. perfect weather

3289. soft sunsets

3290. Capitol Craze #4

3291. tests to study from

3292. hard marriage weeks

3293. surgery and a recovery that doesn’t go as planned

3294. excellent care from doctor and family

3295. soup deliveries

3296. happy scores on tests

3297. slow healing

3298. disappointment and a God with a plan

As I look back on that list, I see a choosing to give thanks in the every day for the every day.  Life is not always glorious or glamorous, but it is always good.  And God is always good.  Even when life is hard.*

Happy October, friends.

For His Glory ~

Signature

 *yes, I intentionally wrote that twice in one post 😉 Because I need the reminder every day.

2015: Week in Review {June & July}

Does anyone else find it funny that I’m still calling these “Week in Review”?

The past two months have been a wonderful level of slow and uncommitted, interrupted by brief pockets of hold-onto-your-hats busy.  There have been a lot of pool days and no schedule and figuring out meals as they happen.  It’s the disconnect my soul needed.

June and July, in pictures and captions….

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

It was the gift of this Bible study this summer.  So thankful for the She Reads Truth community.

It was these two baking up something in kitchen.

It was a loooong day of clothes shopping and some very worn out girls.

It was a pair of adorable, naughty bunnies taking refuge in the bathroom.

It was a little (or a lot) too much time on screens.

It was these beauties and endless rain and flowers that are still alive on August 7th.

It was time with girls and God-glory shining everywhere.

It was a lot of this view.

It was Matt on the go-kart that wouldn’t go and the “family fun night” that was exactly what I needed that week.


It was celebrating the life and legacy of fifty years of marriage.

It was the installation of my new favorite outdoor space.

I

It was this girl turning 12.

It was the #BurritoLife #FundraiserLife #SendGraceToHaitiLife.

It was a power outage and making the best of things.

It was strolling the pet store and these puppies living the life.

It was lunch with #2 at my favorite coffee shop.

It was coping with the discovery of two dead mice in the storage closet. (Sidenote: I didn’t actually drink the whole bottle of wine….)

It was Camp Enosh for these two.

It was dinner at our favorite local burger joint.

It was burning through this book and being left really mad at the author.  I can’t take these novels with the bad endings.  😐

It was an evening in the ER with this guy.  We never really defined what happened, but all signs point to heat stroke.

It was celebrating 16 years of marriage.

It was my foodie-photographer-in-training.

And it was never getting enough of this.

And never stopping giving thanks and listing the gifts…

3225.  Summer Sizzle – year 4

3226.  getting words on paper

3227.  sunshine and humidity

3228.  flowers, birds, green trees

3229.  blue water and an open pool

3230.  words to ponder and pray over

3231. patio weather and long date nights

3232. long weeks, time by the pool, and the things that did get done

3233.  shopping days with five girls

3234.  space to clear my head

3235.  beautiful skies and time outside

3236.  two solid miles with a friend

3237.  God-glimpses into a bigger story

3238.  surviving the crazy and savoring the slow

3239.  deep words that speak truth about God – His faithfulness, HIs trustworthiness, His goodness

3240.  thunderstorm and candlelight

3241.  timely, specific, God-gift answers to prayer

3242.  time with my oldest

3243.  long date nights

3244. friendship

3245. journaling and words

3246.  summer heat waves

3247. high school missions trips

3248. my people

3249. the promise of sleep

3250. rain and thunder

3251. a chlorine reading on the pool 🙂

3252. daily notes from my beloved

3253. unconventional anniversaries

3254. Camp Enosh

3255. school ordered

3256. friendship

3257. sunshine & deck chairs

3258. cool weather, screen porch, and the oldest on her way home from Haiti

3259. a husband on the mend

3260. baby steps toward a new (school) year

May your weekend be filled with just enough sunshine, just enough shade, just enough work, just enough fun, and a whole lot of God’s goodness.

For His Glory ~

Signature

Weeks in Review: 2015 {March & April}

**In the interest of getting this published before June, the photos in this post are in completely random order.  They may or may not have anything to do with the content that surrounds them.  This may cause some anxiety for my OCD friends.  

Oh, hey there, mid-May!  How’d you get here so fast?

March and April were busy, hard, beautiful months.  I’ll try to catch us up to the beginning of May and then do a May-recap at the end of this month.

March was in like a lion, out like a lamb with more than just the weather.  God and I hit rock bottom that first week of March and I nearly thought that the demons that haunted me all winter were in one final push to kill me.  I think I was right.  But we did (I think…I hope!) hit bottom and things are slowly looking up and it’s two steps forward, one and half steps back, or sometimes three.  But more forward than back these days.  That season changed how I view God, though, and we continue to wrestle, though I’m so tired of wrestling and want simply to rest in Him, but that’s another post for another day.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Amania’s 8th birthday (March)

March was also MAACS competitions for the girls.  They all worked hard; Emma and Ellie earned some medals, they all earned more of my admiration.  These girls have so many gifts.  Between weekends of MAACS, there was testing week and pushing through all of that.  Normally a bit of a break for us, we kept going on school with the promise of a vacation at the end of the month keeping us going.

March also began a journey of pursuing other educational options for the girls.  Matt and I both felt very much on the same page that we needed to do something different next year, so we scheduled tours and asked questions and kept on praying.  We visited the local private schools and our public school options and we kept on praying, but chose not to discuss it until we finished the tours.  But in the meantime God gave me the gift of others speaking life and hope and truth into my leadership of our school and He began to work healing in my heart in that area and opening my mind and heart to trying again.  And by the time we finished touring, I knew that we needed to keep everyone at home again, with some staffing changes for next year, but with the reassurance that we are doing a good thing and everything will be okay.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Sunny bunnies (March)

At the end of March we took a family trip to Lost Valley Ranch, our favorite family vacation spot.  It was definitely a different trip.  Our marriage remained in a very raw, fragile place from the winter.  And Influenza A made a valiant run through the girls the week up to leaving, leaving Amania to get sick last, right before we left.  She was “off” the whole trip and we’re still sorting out the why (aside from being sick).  But that’s also another post for another day.

April was soccer for three and school for all of us and my continued renewed enjoyment of running.  April was also endlessly cloudy and cool, which got old fast, but it brought us daily closer to the end of the semester and the school year.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Pike’s Peak (March)

April was also Easter and the most sickeningly sugary (but cute!) cake I’ve ever made. We also enjoyed the second annual art show for our local home school organization. Such a fun event!

It occurred to me recently that I haven’t counted gifts here all year.  So, settle in or prepare to skim….

Chandler + Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods (March)

3113.  a quiet New Year with those I love most

3114. a blank page, a fresh start

Amania, Garden of the Gods (March)

3115.  a bunny for Emma

3116.  Monday – back to school, back to reality, praying for the joy to come

Ellie + Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods (March)

3117.  days in the dark, overwhelming sadness, trusting that faith grows here

3118.  time alone, away, to think, rest, reflect, renew

My people, Lost Valley Ranch (March)

3119.  sun shining outside, the Son shining in my heart and mind today

3120.  dinner, transparency, prayer – the body of Christ at work

Matt + Ellie, Garden of the Gods (March)

3121.  enrolled!

3122.  laughing with my girls at the dinner table

Heading out to ride, Lost Valley (March)

3123.  sleep, real sleep

3124.  time in the Word

Lost Valley (March)

3125.  warmer days, stunning sunsets

3126.  68* and a walk to the park in January

Morning Run, Lost Valley (March)

3127.  back to school – first day nerves, confidence found

3128.  the oldest one – driving my car, trying on my clothes – this hard, beautiful age – wanting to freeze time with this one, knowing it rushes on

Emma’s Monochromatic, MAACS (March)

3129.  candles and early morning quiet – the start of a new week

3130.  warm winter days

Chandler + Ellie, MAACS (March)

3131.  laughter with my people

3132.  trusting the Lord to provide all I need

Three blondes, MAACS (March)

3133.  weekend, snow, the Super Bowl with friends

3134.  permission to chase a dream; freedom from guilt for the cost

A cupcake of compassion (March)

3135.  snow skiing & knee injuries & educated friends who give free advice

3136.  a husband who hears and helps

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

(March)

3137.  sunshine and February beauty

3138.  IF: Gathering and leaving strong and filled and known

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

My kids think they’re funny (March)

3139.  hitting bottom (or so I thought)

3140.  seeking help

Sunset (March)

3141.  flowers that remind of new life and new hope

3142.  snow fall and birdsong

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

(March)

3143.  lunch, laughter, and connection

3144.  time with my second-born

(March)

3145.  quiet evenings

3146.  a full schedule

(March)

3147.  dirty counters and floors – signs of a full, messy life

3148.  slow weekends, long date nights

(March)

3149.  snow

3150.  morning skies

(March)

3151.  girls – all five – who voluntarily play together on a Sunday night

3152.  friends who stop and pray right now

“You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.  You must anchor yourself steadfastly upon the Lord.” (April)

3153.  Winter Jam with my three bigs

3154.  sitting at the bottom of the pit

(April)

3155.  hard conversations and moving forward

3156.  tears, so many tears – all in His bottle

(April)

3157.  trepidatious hope

3158.  good days

Lunchtime for bunnies (April)

3159.  hitting bottom again

3160.  breakthrough and relief

Coffee love (April)

3161.  waking with a happy heart

3162.  testing week and tired kiddos

Art Show (April)

3163.  MAACS wins and losses – girls made stronger through it all

3164.  our last 8 year old

Dinner with dear friends (April)

3165.  vacation and time away

3166.  Colorado Rockies, Garden of the Gods, Lost Valley

Chandler’s Easter hair and Easter hare (haha) (April)

3167.  rich food and deep laughter at the table

3168.  horses and mountain trails and deck reading

Cake win! (April)

3169. spoken words that give strength, hope, life

3170.  good date nights

Cousins (April)

3171.  good work days and fun family nights

3172.  Easter and resurrection hope

PinFail vs PinWin – the first one still makes me laugh (April)

3173.  laughter with friends from far away

3174.  conferences and words that strengthen heart, mind, and soul

A drawing by Emma, given as a gift to our youth pastor and his wife when they moved away (April)

3175.  long weeks, tearful nights, and wilderness seasons that seem unending

3176.  prayers that echo and hearts that feel broken

Gracelaced art – I just love her stuff

3177.  hard decisions made and being on the same page

3178.  new roads for sweet friends; a tearful farewell

Christine Caine’s words (these and others) have ministered to me repeatedly the past few months (April)

3179.  weeks of searching that bring us closer

3180.  unexpected words that bring life

Another Gracelaced piece.  I don’t own this one, but I love it (April)

3181.  the sea, sun, and sand

3182.  deep conversations, tearful nights, hope restored again

(April)

3183.  the daily wrestling

3184.  a missed flight and a near-miraculous journey home

Cease endlessly striving for what you want to do, and learn to love what must be done.  Hanging where I can see it all day every day from my “desk” in the dining room.  (April)

That’s it, friends.  Not gonna lie, that “gifts” list was painful to walk back through.  It was a hard winter.  I’m daily learning to lean into and trust God again.  It’s a strange place to be, this wrestling, not trusting.  I’m not used to it.  It’s a growth season following the darkness of winter.  Perhaps beauty will burst forth soon.

Still Always For His Glory ~

Signature

Weeks in Review: 2014 {Weeks 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, & 52}

Here we are. December 29.  The year is almost over.  The past few weeks have been….interesting.  They’ve been crazy fast and unbelievably long.  It never really felt like Christmas and yet Christmas is over.  We celebrated three birthdays, and also enjoyed several Christmas celebrations since I last reviewed.  Time flies.  Except when it doesn’t.

Early November brought the return of Matt and Emma from Haiti and led straight in to planning and preparations for birthdays and Christmas celebrations.

We celebrated Ellie’s birthday first with the Pinterest fail of the year.  I was attempting to make a rainbow cake.  It didn’t work out so well.  (hahahahaha)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Next up was Thanksgiving and some wonderful celebrations with family (and a few exciting games of Nerts here at home).

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Grace adopted a bunny.  His name is Timothy.  And he’s quite possibly the cutest thing ever.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We celebrated Emma’s 13th birthday.  She opted to make her own cake.  I have no idea why?!?!?!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We wrapped up the kitchen project, 98% of the way anyway.  Which, if you do many DIY projects like this, you know that’s as far as they ever get until it’s time to move.  The transformation is unbelievable.  We’re even a little shocked when we go back and look at pictures of what it was just three months ago.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And then there was the #TeamNovember party for the Haiti team.  Ugly Christmas sweaters abounded.  As did food and laughter and friends new and old.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Then we hit the final week of school, and crunch time for Christmas prep and shopping.  Up to this point we had been in kitchen and party mode 110%, so ten days out from Christmas I had done next to nothing in that department.  So, a day at the coffee shop to think and browse and organize uninterrupted, plus the magic of Amazon Prime and Christmas went off almost seamlessly.  (One child’s gift to me didn’t make it until the day after Christmas, but such is life.)  The girls and I celebrated the end of shopping and the end of the semester with cupcakes at a local shop.  Hurray!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Last, but not least, we celebrated Matt’s birthday over the weekend.  He and I snuck away to Kansas City overnight where we talked about the past several weeks and looked ahead to next year.  We met some dear friends for late night refreshments and came away from the weekend feeling more connected to each other than we have in weeks.  He ended his birthday with an exciting case of the stomach flu (along with two of our girls; another one had had it two days before Christmas).  Fortunately it was fast moving and everyone was well again by the next day. I am beyond blessed to be married to the man that I am, and the past several weeks have reminded me of that.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The beauty of the last seven or eight weeks have been heavily clouded by the return of a very dark season for me personally.  The sun, I’m pretty sure, didn’t shine at all for several weeks, and that never helps.  But some personal struggles in our home opened my heart and mind up to a season of confusion and doubt that I haven’t experienced in a very long time.  The Lord used my time away with Matt and some of our conversations, along with the prayers of a few dear friends, to lift that veil and peace and joy have returned to my heart and mind, and for that I am endlessly thankful.

I will close with the gifts I have listed over the past several weeks, along with another picture of Timothy, just because he’s so darn cute.

3081.  75* —> 35*; goodbye fall, hello winter

3082.  strange, long weeks; wrestling with attitudes and self-doubt; my God who is greater than all of it

3083.  soul baring talks on date night

3084.  raking leaves in the snow

3085.  bread and wine, laughter, prayer, and friends

3086.  blankets, heating pads, hot coffee – warmth on bitterly cold days

3087.  Timothy the bunny

3088.  a heart that longs for more

3089.  my big, big God

3090.  hard weekends, long talks, relationships restored

3091.  my Ellie turning 9

3092.  kitchen mess that means kitchen progress

3093.  nights to lie awake praying

3094.  Thanksgiving celebrations – food, family, laughter

3095.  words of grace, hope, and courage on a Monday morning

3096.  feeling tired and empty, running to Jesus

3097.  reconnecting with old friends

3098.  “Friendsgiving” and laughing til our sides hurt

3099.  a God who knows how my heart aches and is worn and weary and who folds me in His love

3100.  Emma turning 13 – the gift of her

3101.  a tree, lit and decorated

3102.  our 12th annual company Christmas party

3103.  continuing to wrestle

3104.  finally laying it all at God’s feet

3105.  peace

3106.  a good week

3107.  the end of the semester

3108.  the start of something new

3109.  celebrating the birth of Christ

3110.  answers to prayer and conversations that finally bring peace, restore trust

3111.  celebrating my beloved

3112.  the grace of God and essential oils that held off the stomach flu (for some of us at least)

That’s it for us right now.  I pray that your New Year is wonderful and filled with joy and hope.  But even if it’s not, we know that God is faithful and He is good.

For His Glory ~

Signature

Week in Review: 2014 {Weeks 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, & 28}

Really, I should just start calling this series Month in Review.  And after you read this, you’ll understand why I can’t keep this blog updated.  :-p

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

June blew by like a hurricane and left us all kind of wondering what just happened to half our summer.  The older two spent a week at Summer Sizzle, our church’s week long event for junior high and high school students to kick off the season.  With events every morning and evening, they stayed crazy busy. Ellie had ballet camp the same week, and the younger two both had swim lessons.  Can anyone say “lots of windshield time” for this mama?

The following week Chandler attended Kanakuk Kampout (please, people, stop misspelling words in the name of being catchy or clever; it is neither).  An all day “k”amp for grade schoolers, also hosted at our church, she had an awesome time.  Since she will be joining her sisters at Summer Sizzle next year, this was Chandler’s second and last year at Kamp.

The next week we took a mini-vacay as a family to St. Louis / Bloomington, IL.   While not what I would classify as a true vacation (I did not come home rested.  In fact, I came home desperately needing a nap.), it was a wonderful trip for our family.  We visited the Arch, Six Flags (thank you, Read to Succeed program!), and the zoo.  Then we drove up to Bloomington to visit friends and represent Lifeline at a benefit race there.  Amania was able to see her two friends, Sophie and Tessa, and we were all able to connect with a really great group of people we would not know if it were not for adoption and our involvement with Lifeline.  During our time in Illinois, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much larger our family’s world has gotten because of adoption through Lifeline.  We have gained so many wonderful friends by serving with the ministry and because of our now forever-connection to Haiti.  It’s a beautiful thing, really, how adoption expands the family by much more than the addition of a child.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

After returning from St. Louis / Illinois, the older two girls promptly started a soccer camp for a week.  Chandler celebrated her 11th birthday.  Grace had fundraisers to help pay for her trip to Haiti.  Then she left to serve in the kitchen at Kanakuk in Missouri for a week.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The next week we all breathed a small sigh of relief as life slowed down just a smidge.  Although it still ended up being a rough week for other reasons.  For the 4th we went down to Wichita where we stayed with friends on the lake.  Now that was a vacation.  Seriously, much-needed and uber-appreciated downtime spent on the lake, in the pool, on a lounge chair….all doing nothing but soaking up sun and laughing with friends.  Glorious.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Last week Emma went for three days to Junior High Rampage, our church’s three day retreat for, well, junior highers.  She went to Schlitterbahn in KC where she got a sunburn on top of a sunburn (from the weekend in Wichita) and came home with some of the most horrific blisters I’ve seen from burning.  Still makes my skin hurt to think of them.  Chandler also got to attend her last week of Camp Enosh.  The girls have attended this camp, put on by a local church, for years.  It’s a bittersweet year for this girl as she closes the book, so to speak, on some of her favorite activities, knowing some really fun stuff of a different kind is coming up for her next summer.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ellie is attending her first week ever at Camp Enosh this week.  She’s been watching sisters go for years, and she’s finally old enough.  She was super-excited this morning to finally get to experience all she’s been hearing about since she was a toddler.  We are also preparing to send our oldest off to Haiti for a week soon.  Once she gets back, that signifies the end of major activities for the summer, and I’m pretty sure I will be very happy to have all of my chicks back in the nest.

Meanwhile, over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on some projects around the house.  I purged some more spaces.  Honestly…..I don’t think I’m a hoarder(?!), but sometimes I frighten myself with the amount of **stuff** I continually find to get rid of.  The guest room got a little update.  We removed the overly formal bedding, put in a lighter, more contemporary set, added curtains, a side table (that needs to be painted), and changed up the decor a bit.  Matt hung a calendar command center in the kitchen for me that I’m excited about.  This should keep the fridge less cluttered and hopefully help limit the number of times I answer some of the same questions every day/week/month.  I also bought and hung a fun little chalkboard piece with my favorite, oft-repeated Katie Davis quote.  Then my love surprised me last week by staying up all night (crazy man) and painting the school room.  I didn’t realize just how much I hated the old color until it was gone.  It was an awful 1970’s-hospital-green.  Flat and dull and depressing.  Now, grey and orange, with fun accents….I’m actually (kind of) excited to be down there and start school again.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Our school files from over nine years of home schooling.  I threw away a full three tubs of papers and still ended up needing just as many tubs.  I’m not sure how that happened. I really should check with someone who knows….I’m not sure I even need anything that’s over a year old, but if we do, I have it, by golly!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

This wreath should arrive this week.  It’s going to hang on the old window in the previous picture.  So excited!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

All I need today…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The  freshly painted bar area, conveniently located in the freshly painted school room.  I’m currently very in love with the mirror, the light, and the ram’s head.  And the orange paint.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

This is snake number two in less than a week.  Found in our basement.  Thankfully we have our very own St. Francis living with us, so this snake had a much more peaceful departure than the first one we found.

This book is currently at the top of the stack.  Not amazing, a little hard to connect with, but some very good bits throughout.  Definitely worth the read.

Lastly, I was challenged / encouraged this past week by a friend to start counting the gifts again.  Somewhere in the past six months I stopped counting.  The gifts I was listing were starting to sound so repetitive to me so I quit looking and listing.  And I became ungrateful without realizing it.  So I was thankful to be reminded this week to always be look for those gifts, to keep my heart and eyes open to the good things God is up to in my life.  Because He’s always up to something good.

2996.  chaos and finding our way

2997.  middle girl and turning eleven

2998.  oldest child off to camp and my heart breaking just a little

2999.  a weekend of rest

3000.  God speaking, revealing, leading me back to His way

3001.  husband who loves, serves, sacrifices, gives

3002.  newly painted school room

3003.  hospitality

3004.  recognizing spiritual dryness

3005.  choosing not to stay there

Wishing you a wonderful week, my friends!

For His Glory ~

Signature

Week in Review: 2014 {Weeks 19, 20, 21, & 22}

I’m a broken record….how does an entire month keep slipping by between each post?  Not cool.

May was our first month of “summer”.  School ended and activities wrapped up.  We experienced a full week with no where to go and nothing to do.  That was glorious.  June has started and with it bursts of crazy interspersed with some slow spells.  I have high hopes for a great summer.

May wrapped up Emma’s first soccer season.  We resisted sports for so many years, partly because I didn’t want the crazy schedule.  Practices, games, and the constant changes due to weather and other conflicts; I just wasn’t interested.  But this year we relented with volleyball for Grace in the fall and soccer for Amania, then soccer for both Amania and Emma this spring.  The schedule was nuts, but it was actually also quite a bit of fun.  Getting to observe Emma as she starts to come into her own and doing something her older sister has never done was a gift.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

 

We also wrapped up ballet for the school year with the annual spring recital.  Ballet is so very different from sports (duh), even down to its very predictable schedule and year-long build up to a two-minute performance.  But it was a blessing to Ellie this year, as she also had a chance to sort of come into her own with an activity that has been done by all of her older sisters, but only by her right now.  Watching her in class, I saw this silly, squirrelly girl mature and focus and take this opportunity very seriously.  She was lovely in her performance and is very excited about moving up to pre-pointe in the fall.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We celebrated off the “official” end of our school year earlier in the month with a trip over to Kansas City and an afternoon of shopping at the Legends.  It was a wonderful afternoon with my girls and a gorgeous day to walk around and shop.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

 

May also meant Mother’s Day, the opening of the pool, and a sweet baby cardinal in our bushes.  I don’t think things ended well for this little guy, but we try not to think about that.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

So my big goals for the summer include going back through every room in the house, decluttering, cleaning, organizing, and hopefully wrapping up some small projects that don’t involve my very own general contractor’s assistance.  I’ve come to the conclusion that moving is some sort of multi-stage process (probably another “duh”).  Last summer we packed, unpacked, purged, and put away.  But we had to move fast because nothing was really planned and it turned out to be a much bigger project than I think either of us anticipated when we said, “Hey, let’s make an offer on that house!”.  Now that we’ve had a year in the house and I don’t feel the pressure of the deadlines, I am going back through and being as thorough and ruthless as I can be.  I’ve only been through four rooms and we’ve already sold quite a bit of stuff and hauled five good-sized boxes to the local rescue mission.  As I’ve been purging and cleaning, I’ve been aware of a recent run of shares by friends on Facebook about minimalist living.  I’ve read the articles and there is so much that appeals to me about the idea, and we are certainly continually working toward having less, all the while consuming more, and it seems to be a bit of a merry-go-round for us.  As I talked with one friend this week about how to actually pursue a minimalist lifestyle, we both agreed that really, the most effective way to get there would be downsizing one’s house.  And since I’ve already declared that I am never, ever, ever moving again (at least not for a very long time, Lord willing), that’s not going to work.  Just the change in storage space has forced me/us to re-evaluate what we hold on to, but I know we can continue to do more to reduce our possessions, eliminate excess, and simplify life.

My other big goal is working through the book Cleaning House with the girls.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough, even if your kids are already hard workers around the house.  I will do another, more focused post on it and our experience, but her analysis of where our “helpfulness” as adults is taking our kids is eye-opening and motivating (and maybe a little frightening).

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

 

That’s pretty much it for us.  This week is going to be a fun one for the kiddos, so hopefully I’ll be able to post again soon….like less than a month.

 

Have a blessed Monday, friends!

For His Glory ~

Signature

2014: Week in Review {Week 12}

Here I sit on this March Monday, watching the snow fall once again outside the window.  And I could complain because we are all more than tired of the cold, but today I choose to give thanks.  This snow has taken a manic Monday and turned it into a mellow one.  One that was much needed.

Last week was characterized by dragging ourselves through another week of school.  This week is half days of testing/half days off, a full day off, and a day of fine arts in KC.  This is what we count as our spring break (snow and all) and we’re all so happy for the change of pace.

We had the privilege of hosting Amania’s friend Shela for her spring break week.  She did lots and lots and lots of hair braiding. 🙂  She was also a wonderful blessing in many other ways, including cooking a real Haitian dinner for all of Matt’s family (approximately 30 people) on Wednesday night.  She did it all with grace and a smile.

We also had round one of MAACS competition on Friday in Kansas City.  Emma and Chandler performed with the choir.  Grace competed in art, with her acrylic taking first place.

Amania celebrated her first birthday with us on Friday.  It was an exciting time for all of us and for the first time in about a month (or two), I haven’t heard how many days until her birthday since then.  🙂

Our week in photos….

the cat that thinks she now lives on my truck…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Starbucks that keeps me going through our own version of March Madness…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

 Shela doing her thing with all the hair…

  an Ellie sandwich…

Chandler after her braids were taken out.  We said we should have dyed her purple so she could be an evil minion….

three of my favorites and me after a long / fun day at MAACS…

this beauty and her first place acrylic painting…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

and this beauty turning seven…


and these two up early on a Saturday to build…

and some Discovery Center fun for everyone….







and one to remember that week that we had six girls….

 

2939.  a multiplied Monday

2940.  tired legs – ten miles, slow and steady

2941.  first day of spring

2942.  girls with braids

2943.  the start of “spring break”

2944.  littlest one turning 7

2945.  a day in KC with my bigs

2946.  beautiful music, excellent speeches, incredible art

2947.  oldest with her 1st place painting

2948.  presents, cake, and ice cream for one very grateful seven year old

For His Glory ~

Signature

2014: Weeks in Review {Weeks 10 & 11}

The past two weeks have been the normal blur.  God has worked on my heart regarding our schedule and our season of life and we plow onward learning to go slow in the midst of the busy.

sunshine and blue skies

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We have done school, gone to a Young Life banquet, and had new friends over for dinner.  Grace and I have cleaned a couple of projects for Matt and we’ve had a birthday party or two (or four….I don’t know, but it’s been a bunch).  We went on an awesome field trip to visit the Trash Mountain Project Aquaponics facility.  They’re doing some really fantastic stuff out there.  We’ve worked outside and enjoyed open windows and doors and the coming of spring.  We’ve figured out how to use essential oils to manage our allergies.  I was able to have some ladies over for some good, low-key fellowship, and I was able to enjoy fellowship with a completely different group of women at an IF: Tables gathering.

aquaponics

I’m continuing to train for my half marathon next month.  I’m doing this one solo, so I’m also doing the long runs solo.  Nothing makes a long run seem longer than running 10 miles alone.  On a treadmill.  But at least I have Jack Bauer and season one of 24 to help pass the time.  That is, when our internet isn’t buffering.  I’m praying about whether or not this will be my last half for a while.  I love/hate them so much.  I love that they scare me into getting my miles in (except that January one, it certainly didn’t have that effect).  I love how I feel **after** a really long run.  I love being able to eat whatever I want and not having to think about calories (not that I think about them a whole lot anyway….but today, as I snuck a brownie before lunch and one child caught me I honestly looked at her and said, “I just ran for nearly two hours. I  can have a brownie.”  She wisely agreed.).  But I hate how much they cost (how much to torture myself for three months???).  And I hate how much time they take.  I don’t mind the normal length runs in the mornings, but setting aside two hours for a long run plus another hour to get cleaned up and recovered afterward…it’s just a big chunk out of an already full day and as I’ve been examining our schedule and praying about the best use of my time, this is one of those areas I’m on the fence about.  That said, six months from now I may be telling this same story all over again.  Those races have a way of sucking you back in.

skies that demand a road trip and a dog that really misses her people when they’re gone

We also launched our version of Forget the Frock with Haiti Lifeline Ministries (a post on that tomorrow).  I’m super-excited about this year’s shirt and about taking back Easter for a cause close to the heart of Christ.

a little teaser for this year’s FtF shirt

And as we head into a new week, I want to start again with recounting the gifts….

2924.  cardinals on bare branches, red on a backdrop of grey

2925.  nurturing my marriage

2926.  Lent and reflection and seasons of pause

2927.  seeing God at work in the lives of teens

2928.  nights of no sleep; leaning on God for strength for the day

2929.  long dates

2930.  sunny Sunday and kids outside

2931.  a long forecast of better weather

2932.  8 mile run

2933.  repentance

2934.  practicing flexibility

2935.  a grace that chases, pursues

2936.  birthday parties, sleepovers, time with friends

2937.  working through issues with little ones

2938.  IF: Tables and thoughts on friendship

Oh restless heart – beating against the prison bars of your circumstances and longing for a wider realm of usefulness – allow God to direct all your days.  Patience and trust, even in the midst of the monotony of your daily routine will be the best preparation to courageously handle the stress and strain of a greater opportunity, which God may someday send.

~ Streams in the Desert, March 17

For His Glory ~

Signature

2014: Week in Review {Weeks 7, 8, & 9} and Starting a New Week off Right

Donut! (As our accented child would say.)  I was doing so well staying up with my Week in Review and somehow the whole month of February just blew right past me.  Sheesh.  Between the pace at which it came and the winter weather it brought over the weekend, I would say March definitely came “in like a lion”.

February was a great month filled with more cold weather, a trip to Arizona to be refreshed by sunshine and time with friends, then more cold weather, and normal crazy life.

Some pictures from the last few weeks…

So we left this
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

For this
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And this

And this (like my mug? 🙂 )

And we came back to more of this
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugbut at least it was warm enough to get outside a couple of days.

Even the little shoots are ready for the warm sun
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And at least the sun is starting to come up a little earlier
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug(And, yes, I know the time change this weekend means a later sunrise again…but I’m not thinking about that and will choose to focus on the fact that at least it will no longer be dark when we eat dinner.)

We even had a day of open doors and windows
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And my sweet Haitian girl is reading so well. I could cry. And maybe I did as she laughed her way through this BOB book last month.

Then March came in with more snow and cancelled concert plans but lots of extra girls at our house, so fun was still had by all.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And, oh, look, a happy little planner. I love my techie gadgets, but I just can’t quit my paper planner.

Last, but not least, what happens when you fill a latex glove with water and stick it outside overnight in sub-zero temps? You get a frozen hand and this picture on your camera.

And to start the week and the month off right, counting just some of the amazing gifts from the Father’s hand.

 

2889.  days that wear you thin

2890.  leaning hard and trusting Jesus to do a new thing

2891.  a happy outing with the littlest

2892.  sweet baby Cora

2893.  morning walks

2894.  four days with good friends

2895.  warm sun, palm trees

2896.  morning hikes, good talks

2897.  long dinners, laughter, wine

2898.  home

2899.  walks with the middle child

2900.  65*

2901.  windows open, kids outside, hope for spring

2902.  busted laptop, mouse in the house, weighty conversations

2903.  God glory spilling everywhere

2904.  rain and thunder

2905.  view of the sky

2906.  thunder, rain, hail, snow, sunshine – a day in the life of Kansas weather

2907.  mom’s night out and high school prep

2908.  an SUV that gets us home

2909. yard work on a sunny Saturday

2910.  cheerful girls

2911.  home improvements

2912.  Sunday worship and Sunday rest

2913.  snuggles and cat naps with the middle

2914.  long runs

2915.  ugly cries

2916.  sunshine and better days

2917.  days full of driving

2918.  opportunities for these kids

2919.  catching up – just a bit

2920. girlfriend sleepovers

2921.  changed plans and more snow

2922.  Sunday afternoon naps

2923.  Monday morning sunshine

May your week be filled with God’s glory and all things good.

For His Glory ~

Signature