Micaila is 11 years old

To Micaila for memory:

Here we are again, another birthday. Today you turned 11. You are becoming an extraordinary young woman. You have surrendered your life to Jesus and I am so proud of how diligent you are to be in His Word and have your quiet time every morning. This is the most important discipline you can ever develop because it is from this discipline that your perspective, attitudes, and actions are shaped for Gods good and glory. I pray that no matter what happens in your life you would remain rooted in His Word and always come back to your Savior and Lord.

Micaila you are kind, caring, smart, ambitious, beautiful, and talented. You are so willing to help and you consistently put others before yourself. I can’t even express how grateful I am that you set such a good example to your younger siblings. I appreciate how you lead them, play with them, help them and encourage them. Today you were trying to help Caleb ride his bike. You are such a good cheerleader and like your daddy, you’re good at teaching others. I already see God using this gift he gave you every day but I pray you will continually surrender your gifts to him and his purposes. You love our foster babies like they are our own. You help mommy out BIG time by playing with them, holding them, or watching them so I can catch a potty break! What would I do with out you and your sister??? 🙂

For awhile now you and Ryann (and now Caleb) have LOVED legos. You have a whole LEGO world in your bedroom. It use to drive me nuts that these legos would never be put away but now, I’ve embraced it and I am thrilled that you all enjoy playing for hours in your LEGO world. For your birthday you were given the LEGO Hospital, so tell your LEGO friends “your welcome”. Now they don’t have to go to the Animal Hospital. 😉

You still adore your stuffed animals, playing outside, riding your bike (and now skate board) and of course riding Duet.

But I can tell you are getting older. You like to accessorize, especially with bracelets, and you smell good from new perfume. Also, it’s totally weird that I asked to borrow your lip gloss…. soon it’ll be shoes. 🙂 Speaking of feet! You have taken up running with me. You, me, and Ryann ran our first 5k over Thanksgiving and it was so fun! Now we are training for a 10k and you will probably leave me in your dust because again, you’re like your daddy, a natural athlete and an over achiever. 😉

All these qualities have the potential to be used for Gods glory or your own gain.

The world will tell you to seek self and promote self.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The Bible tells us to die to self.

“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I pray you will yield everything to Jesus, loving and trusting Him so much and with Paul one day say,

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” Philippians‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There is so much more I could share about you. You are a delight. Your daddy and I love you so much and are so proud you are our daughter.

Happy 11th Birthday.

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For My Mom on Her Birthday

Today is my mother’s birthday. I haven’t written in a while but today I felt impressed to honor my mom here. Something about this year,… Maybe it’s the loss we’ve experienced and watched others experience. Maybe it’s being on the heals of Christmas when we reflect on the greatest Gift ever given. I just want to express how grateful to God I am for my mom.

I have always gotten really choked up when I listen to Taylor Swift’s song Best Day. My secrets out, I do enjoy listening to Taylor from time to time. I was playing it this morning and even though her story and relationship with her mom is different than mine, in this song she encapsulates the mother/daughter bond in a really sweet way. She communicates how much she looks up to her mom, how her mom has always been there for her, and how beautiful and strong her mother is. I would say the same of my mom on all those points. I don’t know if Taylor’s mom knows Jesus but my mom does and that makes each of those points all the more meaningful and beautiful.

Being the only girl and the youngest my mom really doted on me. She might even say too much, but I’ve always felt loved, cherished and adored in healthy proportions. And now as an adult I’m very aware of my mother’s unconditional love for me. This year in particular, in the wake of losing our baby my mom has been there for me in all the ways I’ve needed and at times when no one else could know I was in need. The Holy Spirit works through her to lift my eyes to Him. She’s one of the very few that sees my deep, dark, ugly places and she graciously, tenderly, gets my gaze back on Christ. She doesn’t just tell me what I want to hear, or what will make me feel better. She is honest, she speaks Biblical truth when I need it,….which is all the time. Her love helps me understand Christ’s love.

I look up to my mom more than any other woman in the world. And I know that my even being able to say that is a gift from God; A great testimony of his goodness and graciousness in my life. I could probably write a book on all the ways her life has positively impacted mine but I want to hone in on one thing.

My mom loves Jesus SO much. We all know that there are, actually, a lot of people that say they love Jesus. But very few people love Jesus so much that it changes their whole life. Jesus has changed my mom’s life and she is unashamed to live it for Him and His glory alone. Her love for Christ affects her marriage. My mom has shown me that a deep, lasting, Christ exalting marriage comes from abiding in Christ. It comes from living out truths like 1 Corinthians 13 and Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition….in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” She’s shown me that the best thing we can give to our children is not only the knowledge of Gods great love for us but a life lived in response to God’s great love. My parents are 62 years old. To God be the glory, my dad has a thriving ministry at a local church and my mom recently “retired” from the orthodontics field. They could easily coast through the rest of their life as empty nesters, enjoying the fruit of their early labor. But instead of slowing down in this race they are picking up the pace, running harder. Recently they have responded to the call of caring for orphans and became foster parents. And it’s not duty for them, its delight. Of course it’s hard, but my mom shows me every day that even in the hard, when we obey God’s Word, and live sacrificially for others, we “count it all joy”. My mom’s joy and her example make me want to know and love Jesus even deeper. Oh how I pray my children say the same for me one day.

And this is the thing that makes my mom’s example so powerful, so Christ exalting. She doesn’t just talk about her love for Jesus, she lives it. When she’s encouraging me and speaking the truth of His Word, I don’t just acknowledge it and quickly forget it. I hear it and I want to live it, because she is living it. I see her joy in Christ and her joy in sacrificial love for others and I want to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” with her. My mom gets Hebrews 12….. “fixing our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the CROSS….”  She gets Philippians 3:8 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And I am ETERNALLY grateful for this.

Mom, your godly example to me is truly priceless. There is nothing on earth that can measure the value of the spiritual inheritance that you have passed on to me. I love you so much, I still want to be you when I grow up 😉 and wish you the happiest birthday.

Caleb is 5 years old

Dear Caleb,

Today you turn five. This past year you graciously gave up your position of being the baby of the family. Little ones have come in and out of our home and for the most part you’ve done well with sharing. Sharing your room, your toys, your sisters, your daddy and your mommy. Since you were born you have been the center of attention. We probably definitely are guilty of over indulging you at many points. So it has been very neat to watch you become less self-centered and more others centered. You have become more aware of how you can serve and be helpful, not only to the smaller children but to the rest of us as well. You also have grown in your independence. Which is a relief because I thought you might end up taking Ryann and Micaila to college or something. In March it was your responsibility to be the sign bearer at Uncle Michael and Aunt Jessica’s wedding. You had to walk the aisle alone. Rarely do you ever do anything apart from me or your sisters but you owned this role and executed it with perfection.

This past year you also experimented with lying. This resulted in loss of privilege playing the playstation. Which is like dying for you because you are a serious gamer. Indeed you are becoming familiar with good and bad choices, consequences, and most importantly confession. I pray your daddy and I can lead you in the path of true repentance, pointing you to the One Who paid the penalty for our sin, and that in Him you will find life, freedom and joy.

Caleb you are still all boy. All super heros, all fight, all wrestle, all dirt and noise and big, loud trucks. You are fascinated with Luke Skywalker and love running around in your halloween costume fighting the Dark Side. When Daddy comes home from work you immediately go into wrestling mode. You maaaay need to work on your receiving of punches or water squirting or nerf dart shooting but you sure love dishing it out.

You have a sharp mind, Caleb. By memory you counted every day for 14 days how long we had till it was time to go to the beach. Without a calendar! Maybe I’m easily impresed but I can hardly keep my days straight! You remember things from years past that I have a hard time recalling. Like getting your finger stuck in the door at church when you were 3 or that bad storm at the beach last year or that time Jesus held you when you were a baby…..????? Not sure where that last memory came from but you seem to enjoy recalling it. You came home from VBS quoting the scripture and songs you learned. You LOVED VBS. That made my heart so full. And speaking of songs you are much like your sister, Ryann, and are always singing. Never stop making that joyful noise to the Lord buddy.

This coming school year we have decided to enroll you at a private Christian school. I’m so excited for you to experience learning outside of our home, making new friends and adoring your teacher. I think you are going to love it and grow in so many areas as we explore a new territory. And of course I’ll likely cry because you are growing way too fast. But growth and the passing of time with you are things I’m so thankful for. I’m grateful God has entrusted you to us and for every single second we have with you.

One of my favorite prayers is Psalm 119:33-37. I pray it’ll be your prayer throughout your life.

“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

Micaila is 10!

We have a ten year old in the house! Our sweet eldest daughter is a decade old. I still vividly remember bringing her home. Wrapped up in a pink, princess labeled outfit that swallowed all seven pounds of her, with most of her weight being in that head of hair.

Now she is a kind, smart, and beautiful young lady.

She drives this John Deere daily to deliver hay to Duet.

This past year we watched her mature, grow, and blossom in countless ways. I would like to highlight one.

Micaila made a profession of faith just before Thanksgiving. This thrills us to no end. Jason and I desire our children to have relationship with Jesus Christ but we’ve never tried to coerce them into making a disingenuous decision. We pray that as the Spirit draws them in they would respond, but we want their confession to be authentic. I believe when Micaila told me that she trusts Jesus and wants to be His disciple, following Him wherever He leads, she meant it. I have already seen evidence of her faith in many ways. I can’t wait to see how God uses her strengths (and weaknesses) for His purposes.

The ten year mark is a huge milestone. Lord willing we will have many more, and I know there will be ups and downs as we enter this prepubescent roller coaster. Having said that, Micaila is truly a delightful daughter. I am thankful for the privilege of being her mother. And I am thankful to know she is a daughter of the King.

Happy 10th Micaila! We love you more than words can express.

Hope of the World

Today we began decorating for Jesus Birthday. And can I just say, I really hate not getting to share pictures of all our current family members. 😩 It almost feels wrong picking over the photos of our cute little munchkins, like I’m leaving them out. But, rules are rules.

Little babies teensy little hand

Big babies chunky foot 🙂

This Advent season I am reading through John Piper’s devotional The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. You can download it for free from Desiring God’s website. Today’s devotional is entitled Why Christmas Happened and the scripture used is 1 John 3:5, 8 “And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him…..The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.”

Before John Piper even goes on to tell me “Make this personal and love Him for it” I already am. Not only do I love Him for coming and taking away my sin but I love Him so much for destroying the works of the devil. Works like anger, hatred, addictions, abuse, rebellion, and specifically works like broken families and children in foster care. I have felt hopeless for our boys being reunited with healthy parents. I have felt concerned at the thought of them going to another family member. I have felt confused not knowing if, given the opportunity, we should adopt them. I have felt unsure about their stability in life.

And then He came.

“”Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations……And his name will be the hope of all the world.”” Matthew‬ ‭12:18, 21‬ ‭

His name will be the hope these boys need.

His name is the hope their parents need.

His name will be the hope of all the world.

I am so thankful for Christmas. Every year we get to take time to focus on and have our perspectives refreshed on why Jesus came and what that means for us.

For me this year it means I don’t need to feel hopeless for these two baby boys and their family. God has clearly intervened on their lives and allowed us to play a role and no matter what happens I can trust our time is not meaningless. Because Jesus came I have hope that God is at work even if I can’t see or understand from my limited perspective.

Jesus came to take away sin. My sin. Their sin. Your sin. 

I pray this Christmas this truth resonates deeper in our hearts than it did the last. I pray we would understand the magnitude of Jesus coming and that it would strengthen weak faith, give hope to the hopeless, bring light to those living in dark, call home those who have walked away, and bring people from death to life. I pray with the deepest gratitude in our hearts we would celebrate our Rescuer and King, the Hope of the world.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:9-10‬

A Caleb Post

Caleb, Caleb, Caleb. It’s been far too long since I have written a memory of the little man you are becoming. I missed your 4th birthday letter, but I figure, what the heck, that was only 2 months ago 😉 One of the things I love about writing these memory posts is when I go back and read through and see how much each of you kiddos stay the same. It is so cool how God makes you uniquely YOU from the very beginning.

See. Nothing’s changed. 😜

Caleb, you get sillier every day. You have comedic timing unlike any of our family members. You quote silly things from your favorite movies, like when mommy gives you a long hug, you often will say, “You can let go now.” (Finding Nemo) Or if we find ourselves in an intense situation like a thunderstorm or something, you might quote Ice Age “We’re gonna live! We’re gonna diiiiieeee.” The other part that makes your humor so entertaining is your many facial expressions.

You and Aunt Nikki at the beach. Graham Slam!

The Rock. 

“Seriously mommy?”  (You really say that, along with, “Are you kidding me?”)

Everyone say cheese!

Your humor is just one aspect of your personality that makes you special. You have big emotions like mommy, all or nothing. You can be very sweet, polite, or caring one minute and the next be a big scary mess. You thrive best with consistent daddy discipline and preferably a nap. Without these two you turn into the Incredible Hulk or a Werwolf after 6:00pm. Speaking of daddy, you love him so much. You want to do everything like and with him. Cut the lawn, go to work, play guitar, fix stuff around the house, ride in the truck, or just simply wear no shirt. You squeal and scream when he comes home and squeeze his legs while gritting your teeth with excited boyish aggression. (You always are in some sort of wrestling mode) You crawl into his lap every chance you get and you wish he never had to leave. At one time I was worried you’d be too much a mommas boy but you’ve balanced out and absolutely adore your daddy, too.

Caleb, you are smart! Your memory is like a steel trap. Like movie quotes you also remember songs well and like your sister Ryann you sing all the time. I love catching you singing your heart out in my rear view mirror while driving.

My dear son you have challenged mommy in a whole new way. Parenting a boy is just, well, different. It’s hard! You are strong willed and a fighter. You push mommy to her knees praying to God that he would equip us to raise you up into a strong godly man. I pray all those fighting qualities, all those big emotions of yours would get channeled into a fierce faith that cannot be shaken. I pray you would be like your daddy, a hard working man of integrity. A man who is loyal and loves his family. I pray you would become a man that passionately loves Jesus and all He stands for. I pray your strong will would bend to the Lords will and that you would let him have his way with you. I pray you would “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”

I love you so much, Caleb. Happy 4 years, 1 month and 25 days, my handsome boy. 🙂

Ryann Is 8

Dear Ryann,

It’s hard to believe you are 8 years old. That cute high pitched voice of yours is nearly gone. Your sweet little baby chunk has disappeared and you are becoming a slender, tall, beautiful young lady. You still sing and dance and smile as you always have. You are a lover of all animals. Which has turned mommy into your modern day Snow White, constantly rescuing and bringing home some critter that we never intend to keep and yet…. well Aly (and Milo) for example. Your artistic skills and creativeness still blow me away. You can pretty much make anything with scissors and a hot glue gun. You are such a good student, your teacher loves you so much 😉 and you have shown perseverance when things were difficult. What an excellent quality to have. In life, it’s inevitable that difficulties will arise. I pray that you will cultivate that perseverance through a relationship with Christ, and learn how to press on and overcome in His strength. Ryann you are still the sensitive, silly, and loving child you have always been.

These, too, are wonderful characteristics. You get hurt easily, both physically and emotionally. But this lends itself to be aware of the needs of others. God has made you tender hearted so you can extend that in times when others need it. Look for those opportunities to be compassionate like Jesus. You are such a silly girl and laughter can be the best medicine. You are playful and fun and if mommy needs this in her life (which I do) then other people must too. Share this silly and fun aspect of who you are with everyone God brings your way. And Ryann you are a very loving girl. Remember that we love because He first loved us. I pray you will make Christ your first love and let all your affections flow from that. I pray you will give Him your whole heart because He can be trusted with it more than anyone else in this world and He loves you so very much. I pray whatever you decide to do in life it’ll be in honor of your Heavenly Father and Savior. He created you, He gave you unique giftings and talents, and I pray you’ll desire to be used by Him however He sees best. Ryann, believe it or not even at a young 8 years old you teach mommy things about love, laughter, kindness and sensitivity. I am thankful for your example and so grateful God gave you to us. Daddy and I are so proud of you. We love you so much. Happy 8th birthday!

Love,
Mommy