11 Years!

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, there all pretty blog worthy because I want to remember, “Where was I at and what was I thinking during that time?” And yet you can only write so much. What do I highlight? Focus on? How do I balance the good with the downright ugly times? We’re celebrating 11 years of marriage and while I value transparency I don’t want to come off cynical.

We certainly do not have this marriage thing figured out. I mean I almost did not want Jason to seat me at his brothers wedding because we were at serious odds a few hours prior. I know, I’m so extreme. Listen, I love hard and fight hard. I’m intensely devoted and can be easily wounded. And yet this picture.

Oh how deceiving photos can be. Granted we had signed a peace treaty till we could get down to the nitty gritty of our conflict…. “smile!” #perfectcouple #happyfamily I don’t even have social media but my mom does and I’d bet a hundred million dollars that pic was on her page. 😜

I digress. What to share after 11 years of marriage???

Thinking…………..

And more thinking……

I can not change my husband. And he can not change me. And we can not change “for each other”. Only God can change us. (And praise Him for how much He has already!) Only His Holy Spirit can move on our hearts to pursue holiness and be the godly spouses He desires us to be. This happens through prayer and reading His Word. And we have to pursue this on our own. I love how Roy Hession writes in the Calvary Road, “We shall have to see that the thing in us that reacts so sharply to another’s selfishness and pride is simply our own selfishness and pride, which we are unwilling to sacrifice. We shall have to except another’s ways and doings as God’s will for us and meekly bend the neck to all God’s providences……” And in regards to confession and pursuing Gods mercy in relationships, “‘We cannot say, I was wrong, but you were wrong too. You must come as well!’ No, you must go alone, saying, “I’m wrong.” God will work in the other more through your brokenness than through anything else you can do or say.” God will work through my being humble and broken before Him, more than my being demanding and insisting my way. Well yeah. But it’s so much harder to live out! I’m so thankful for the people in my life spurring me on to do what’s right, what’s Biblical. Not necessarily what makes me feel good at the time.

Okay you know that’s funny.

But seriously, Jason was made for me. I know that our all knowing Father was thinking of me when he was knitting Jason together. “He’s going to be steady and strong, yet easy going. That will balance out her wide range of intense passionate emotions.” BUT he doesn’t complete me. And God made it that way because if Jason completed me I wouldn’t pursue God. My God is jealous for me, he wants deep relationship with me, and won’t allow me to feel completed by anyone else. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24) Sometimes I forget this though and I look to Jason. “Fix me!! Make me happy. Make me whole.” He can’t. At least not in those deep deep places. Only Christ can. We both know it. (Just so we’re clear Jason does make me very happy on many other levels.) But it is our Father, our Savior, the Spirit, that meets our deepest needs. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬ How quickly I forget these precious promises.

I love being married to Jason. He is so hardworking, constantly trying to think about the future and do what’s in the best interest of our family. He is 99% of the time gracious and tender with me and my fluctuating emotions. He is supportive and encouraging of my role as a stay-at-home-homeschool-foster-mom. When I’m sad or down, even though he can’t fix me, he sure as heck tries. He makes me laugh, he makes me try new things, he sees gifts and strengths in me before I do and pushes me towards them even when I’m dragging my feet. Oh how patient he is. And such a good dad. It’s amazing how writing this stuff down opens my eyes to the man he is and how I forget these special qualities when I’m so caught up in my self.

So there’s some advice for ya. Pursue Christ, his Word, and pray, pray, pray. Be broken and humble. Look to Christ to complete you. And make lists, often, of all the things you love about your man. That’s all she wrote! 😉

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.

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. 🙂

Too big for me……

When the boys first came to us it felt a little crazy taking in two babies. After all, our original plan was to just provide respite for other foster families. After turning down three calls for other placements, when we were called about the boys, we couldn’t say no again. Almost exactly one year apart to the day, baby K barely cresting the one year mark and baby J barely out of the womb, I knew this would alter everything about our life. I mean taking in any child alters your life. After two months we are still figuring out a lot and trying to roll with a very inconsistent new normal. No day is the same. Outside of bedtime there is little that I can bank on going as planned. And this week we stuck our feet back into another year of homeschooling. Well if I thought I was crazy before I surely do now. To be honest I don’t really know how we’re going to do this. But as I was reading through the curriculum, organizing folders, preparing myself for our first day, and now having almost completed our first week, I am confident this is the right thing for our family and I trust God is going to make provision for us.

God does this some times ya know? He brings us to places and seasons where we think, “This is just crazy.” We might even be wondering if we need to step back from something or remove something from our plate. And sometimes we should. But other times I believe God brings us to these places where it’s so crazy that only He can get the glory.

Jon Bloom writes in his book Don’t Follow Your Heart, “When God chooses his servants, he tends to give them an oversized workload. Yes, God works for those who wait for him (Isa. 64:4), but you’ll note that waiting on God is rarely experienced as a leisure activity. It typically involves being placed in an overwhelming situation that requires a steeling of the nerves of faith to wait. Yes, we are to serve in the strength that God supplies (1 Pet. 4:11), but that serving can still push us beyond what we think we can handle to show that it’s God’s gracious supply, not our own strength, that is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9) and to show that we hope in the God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:8–9).”

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬‬‬

I don’t “do it all” and I definitely do not have it all together. If I ever appear to be any of those things I can assure you it is NOT me and what you are witnessing is the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. I AM weak. I can’t do this apart from Jesus. I have tried and it’s an ugly hot mess. “I need Thee every hour.” So I hope that whenever we or anyone sees the fruit of our labor that it would be so obvious that it is ALL the work of Christ through us. He gets all the glory. And on the days I become overwhelmed and wonder again, “Can I do this?” (Because for this melancholy those days will, no doubt, crop up) I pray I would look to my Shepherd and say as David did, “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalms‬ ‭23:3‬

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

Foster parenting and your marriage

We are not seasoned foster parents. We may have done this once before but we are still newbies. So we don’t really have a lot of wisdom yet. But I would like to share some of our experiences thus far for other newbies or for those considering foster parenting.

Prepare to be unprepared.

We can plan, read, receive counsel and training until the cows come home but when you enter into a new season with unfamiliar dynamics there will absolutely be things that catch you off guard. Just like marriage or having your own children when the unexpected arises you might be tempted to wonder if you were “ready for this”. Satan would be the one whispering that lie to you. God called you to this, he is sovereign, you didn’t make a mistake, and he will equip you for every good work.

One thing that surprised me when the boys came to us is it really threw Jason and I off kilter. Obviously I expected that to happen to some degree with us all, more so with our kids. But for two weeks I felt like he and I were on two different planets. He was doing his thing, I was doing mine and I began having thoughts like “Umm, I thought we were doing this foster parenting thing together?” Jason’s always worked very hard, usually owning his own business, which allows me to stay home with our children. Naturally with me staying home I do a lot of the “leg work” within the home; cooking, cleaning, teaching, correcting, bathing, reminding, directing, etc. That is how it’s always been with our children and it’s always worked. But taking in two babies to make a total of five was a huge adjustment for me and I needed help. At first I tried to maintain all the order on my own. This only led to resentment and exhaustion. I started breaking down. I tried making it about Jason knowing what I needed from him. Isn’t it obvious?? Maybe. But God had something else in mind. After a few emotional conversations I finally realized that I needed to be humble enough to ask for help in whatever specific areas I needed it and also inquire about Jason’s needs as well. Now the doors of communication are open. The Lord has been gentle, faithful and definitely working on both mine and Jason’s heart.

For any other newbies out there: Be patient, be humble, and be open with your spouse about each other’s needs. Jason helps me by doing the bulk of grocery shopping or helping clean house. Since he’s not much of a newborn kind of dad you won’t see him doing night time feedings. But he will do breakfast with the other kiddos so I can possibly sleep an extra hour if I need it. He’s also great at taking the kids on car rides or to play outside just to give me some quiet time. We also try to make it a point to connect with each other on a more intimate level 2-3 nights a week. This is crucial! We are better parents when we are emotionally, spiritually, and physically connecting with each other. Every family will have different dynamics. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you aren’t on the same sheet of music yet. It may take some time to figure out new schedules, roles and responsibilities but keep communicating and openly discussing what works and doesn’t work for each of you.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Pros Of Stuffed Animal Hoarding

That moment you post a blog (twice! On accident, so sorry) and it’s definitely not finished 😂 Okay, now I’m ready for this thing to be “posted”.

This is meant for sheer amusement and my memory. My children, especially my daughters, find more delight in stuffed animals. They have way.too.many. And I’d be lying if I said I had nothing to do with it. We buy them, build them, and win them out of those grab machines. Apparently I’m quite gifted with the claw. But we can’t resist. They play with them for hours on end and derive so much enjoyment out of every single animal. They are all special and on the rare occasion when I can sneak a few in a donation box, the girls will reminisce on that special animal, where it came from, and how “mommy sent it away.” 😁

I’ve been accumulating snap shots lately of their play time and let me just tell you, what these photos show is completely the norm around here. There are always, always stuffed animals everywhere, doing something extraordinary.

Like…..

Getting married…..

Or trying to find a new home….

Or having a sleep over. This is like a scene in “Where’s Waldo?” Can you spot both my girls in that twin bed with all those animals? Seriously, I didn’t realize it at first either. Why would someone choose to sleep like this?

Just chillin.

Oh then there’s the babies. That’s another story.

Or maybe they are lining up for a parade. The other day, there was like 75 lined up at the back door, heading out for a picnic. Definitely had to draw the line there…. Dogs would have had a field day and I would have been picking up everyone’s insides lol!

These are definitely sweet moments I don’t want to forget. Does it get annoying sometimes when I can’t see the floor because it’s covered in 150 teddy bears? Yes. But one day when the house is too quiet and too clean because my kids are not little anymore, I know I will miss these furry friends parading around.