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.


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.”

Dear Baby C

You’ve been with us almost six months and soon you’ll be going home to your mommy. I haven’t written much about you, not because there isn’t anything worth sharing but because the last six months have been unusually eventful for us. You have gotten to be apart of many of those events and I’m so thankful that your mommy trusted us, even requested us, to travel with you. Your mommy loves you and has been so thoughtful toward what’s in your best interest.

You are a beautiful, smiley girl. Yes, at times, I think you smile out of nervousness, but still, everyone is so drawn to you. Everywhere we go people say how beautiful you are. And that baby chunk, oh my….. it looks good on you. 😉 You do have quite the set of lungs though. Maybe you’ll be a singer. You came to us screaming out of confusion and fear. You’ve grown comfortable with us now and I’m happy to say that when you scream it’s typically like any normal healthy toddler just trying to be heard. And one look from daddy J and, as they say around here, you “dry it up”. I need to learn that look. 😉 Baby C you are incredibly smart. I mean yeah you’re only one but seriously, you are sharp aaaaand you’ve got a little bit of sass. Most girls do though, right? This enables you to push the boundaries and test certain waters. I’ve already caught you, after being corrected or redirected, laying on the floor face down and peeking your eyes up to see if anyone will react. Oh boy, I hope your mommas will is stronger than yours. I think it is. She has shown great strength and determination to get you home. You have so much potential baby C. I hope you will always know that God made you and he loves you. You may not remember it but you have already been disappointed by people. Even me. People are not perfect, we make mistakes, and we all disappoint each other. But God is perfect and God not only will not disappoint us but He can redeem all that has. No matter what happens in your future, our greatest hope for you is that you will trust Jesus with everything.

Baby C you have tickled us with your laughter, dazzled us with your smile, pierced our ears a time or two, but most importantly, you’ve taught us another level of how to love. That is something I am truly grateful for. It wasn’t always easy, but it has been so worth it. We love you and will always be praying for you.

The Children, The Chicken, And The Chores

It has been awhile since I have written anything on our farm animals or gardening or anything of that sort. Must of been the trauma of losing our goat Ramsey. Ha! That’d be a lie. Truthfully things have been pretty low key around here. We managed to keep the majority of our chickens alive so I was ecstatic to say “nope” every time we came across baby chicks for sale. It only took purchasing like twenty five chicks to keep six alive. Practice makes perfect people. Six is plenty for us though as we can not eat enough eggs to keep up with the production here. I’ve given several dozen away and HAD to have an egg hunt just to make use of two dozen or so.

Wanna be my neighbor?

I want to take a moment though and introduce you to Tiny. Tiny was from last springs batch of chicks. Not sure if I wrote anything on the challenges of introducing old and new flocks but let’s just say, there will be blood. The chickens were mostly living in harmony when one day during a coop cleaning we set everything off kilter. An older hen, who my children innocently and ironically named Queen Bee, severely bullied Tiny and bloodied her up pretty bad. After getting her cleaned and assessing her wounds I was really hesitant to put her back with the flock so I stuck her with the ducks where she could recover. Well it’s been like six months and according to the girls the ducks, Sunny and Webster, have adopted her. Tiny is truly a free range chicken and she is living it up! She gets dinner scraps at the back door, she comes when you call her, she follows the girls everywhere and she’s eats dill pickle sunflower seeds.

I mean does it get any better for a chicken??

The kids have really taken ownership of the animals and ensure that everyone has food, clean water, and a clean environment. Jason has started giving them an allowance and I have been super proud of Micaila and Ryann as they, on their own accord, tithe off it every Sunday. Caleb on the other hand asked me the other day when he will have a million dollars. We calculated his 2 dollars a week and figured it would take roughly 9,616 years for him to get to a million but hey, there is always an opportunity to move up around here. 😉

The girls continue to have riding lessons with Duet. She has been such a great horse. I love watching the girls do ground work with her on their own or just go out and brush her. They have gained so much independence this last year and it’s bittersweet for this momma.

Jason has already planted the garden and last year I did try a few pickling recipes that were a big hit so, looks like it’s a requirement this year. That is, if we grow anything….😳😉

Zippys Birthday

I’ve written before about my children and their love for stuffed animals. I would say it’s a problem……storing them is a problem for me…. but more than any other toy they have their stuffed animals have always been the favorites. Once again I’m reminded that the delight these fuzzy friends bring is completely worth the inconvenience of a floor that can’t be walked on. 😬😉

Today was Zippys birthday. Zippy is a little TY Beanie Boo I bought for Caleb when Jason and I were in Gulf Shores. Just like the Beanie Babies each Boo has a given name and birthdate. This is not the first stuffed animal party my kids have thrown. They are pretty much professionals with a party planning committee and everything.
This afternoon Micaila whipped together cupcakes out of pancake mix and some kind of Oreo filling frosting while Ryann decorated and rounded up all the guests.
I was downstairs when Caleb and Zippy made their way up to the party. All of a sudden I hear “SURPRISE!!!” and the three of them in unison singing happy birthday to Zippy.

There is something about hearing my children play, use their imaginations, and enjoy stuffed animals and each other that just compels me to give thanks to God for His grace and goodness. His mercy in my life is mysterious. And this I do not want any of us to forget. 🙂

I also dont want to forget that “the animals are having a sleepover” which is why they cant be cleaned up yet. 🤔😂

Well played.

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.