Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Love-ism



Cole-ism: Mom, I had a very serious talk with God today.
Me: Really Buddy, tell me more about it.
Cole (in a very serious voice): God told me he likes my break dancing. I think I'll keep dancing.


Then I turn around to see this! I love this spunky boy and the life he brings to our family!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cat In The Hat


We took the kids to their first play today. They loved the Cat In The Hat! The theater was full of kid giggles and we laughed for days afterward!


Quin enjoyed every part but especially liked when the fish spit. Cole thought Thing 1 and Thing 2 were hilarious. Sam liked it all. Kai's favorite part was when the cat balanced on the ball with "all of his things". 


We liked that we were able to enjoy reading more Dr. Seuss books together. And we loved the kisses and cuddles from these girls too :)




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

2014 Family Photos

Love this photo! Love this tribe! 

Awwwe! And love him too!











The best happy dance after photos are finished! Thank you, Jesus, we made it!

Father, thank you for our family. Thank you for this amazing man that I have the honor of walking beside to co-lead our children. Please continue to fill our souls with love, patients and grace. Help us to learn from you and be the parents that you called us to be. We are incredibly thankful to have the girls home and all be together as a family at last. Guide us, Lord, so that our lives may be a reflection of your heart. Amen. 






Sunday, August 24, 2014

State Fair

An exciting day at the State Fair

This is the first year we took the kids to the State Fair. It was 90 degrees and so much sweaty fun. Thankfully, there were plenty of indoor activities, shaded areas and fresh lemonade! After two hours off exhausting adventure, we hit the road back home. Love our family time enjoying each other! 

Cuddles before we leave

Fun sights

Checking out the game and parks indoor exhibit

Brotherly love

Pony rides

Sam and Daddy getting ready for a ride

Baby goats

African livestock

Funniest looking animal at the small petting area

Cole's turn

And Kai's too

Sam riding Nemo

Kai all smiles

Roller coaster crazy - Quin, Cole and Kai

Riding Dumbo is series business


Darts, ballons and lots of surprises - No pressure Daddy!

Everyone won a prize. Good work kids (and Daddy too)

Happy babies - Ede and Ave





Sunday, August 17, 2014

C-Days

Multigenerational photo with my dad 

What a great weekend! We celebrated our community this weekend with special family and friends. Wonderful events, fun activities and super yummy food. My grandma (the kids' great grandma) and my dad came to visit for a couple of hours to meet the girls. I love this photo! Below are some other fun memories to treasure. So thankful for this time together.

Ede with her brothers cool shades

Who doesn't love a fun parade?

Daddy and Ave

The boys went zorbing with Daddy

Baby Ave getting sleepy

Kai made a mask at the superhero and princess event. Only downfall - she thought she needed a dress to match each mask. Girly girl. 

Mama and baby Ede

Sam and Cole with their new superhero masks. 


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gone Are The Days


The memories are so clear, even after 7 years

I met you today in the children's physicians clinic. You see me with our six kids and I know the questions brewing in your mind. You are a first time mama. I watch you closely with your tired eyes. Light beaming from behind as you caress your daughters cheeks. The delirious gaze as you smile down at her. Extraordinary love exiting your soul. You are a working mama, professionally dressed. Your six month old baby is fussy as she bounces on Daddy's lap. You tell me that she has another ear infection. You recently went back to work. Your daughter is now at daycare. You feel like you can't do it all. She is always sick. You practically live at the doctors office. You ask me about the new manual mama's are suppose to receive from God. Not the ones on the B&N bookshelves with varying opinions. We both laugh. You warmly smile at me and inquire about our growing family, "How do you do it? How do you manage six kids?"

Oh sweet mama, lean in. Let me tell you what I've learned.

Gone are the days when I thought I had it all figured out. You know what I'm talking about. The mama you were before you actually became a mama. In are the days you know how difficult it is to be a mama. The fear. The joy. The vulnerable. The excitement. You never knew you could experience the depths of such great feelings. You didn't know such intense emotions existed.

Gone are the days of wishing the mama across the room would quiet her child in your favorite restaurant. In are the days when your eyes meet and the energy between you says, "I get it". I understand what you are going through. There is nothing but love. I will not pretend to know the struggles that you are facing. I do not stare or judge. I do not snicker. I choose compassion and empathy in this moment.

Gone are the days that you make quick assumptions about others. In are the ways that you understand growth. The beautiful way that God unfolds parts of your story in slow motion. How He uses your broken past and partners you with others that understand. He then uses your once scattered pieces and molds a sanctuary for others to find rest. Beauty from Ashes. You don't give up on others. No. You seek the best in others. You ask them to discard their fear and replace their bondage with freedom. In Him you find the peace and comfort your heart desires.

Gone are the days that I can easily be with friends. In are the days that you make it a priority and soak in each moment when you do. God shows you to rely more on Him and less on others. He may take you to a place where you feel lonely. Where life is different than you know. You realize He needs you to be still to listen. He is protecting you. He will ask you to slow down and relax. To enjoy each moment. He will stretch your heart. He will show you what it means to have a Heavenly Father. To build trust with Him.

Gone are the days that Happy Hour meant a night out with some of my favorites. In is the golden hour that you catch your breath while the kids rest. The time you should be elbow deep in dishes. Hands dirty from cleaning. Boxes emptied from moving. Again. But not today. Today you spend down time cuddled up on the couch. This is the best. God reminds you that these precious moments will not last forever. Its all just a moment in time. Soon, this too will pass. Today, I chose to soak up each moment.

Gone are the days that I have much time to myself. This alone is down right exhausting. In are the days that you learn balance. You don't have to spend every waking moment with your child. And in fact, its healthy to spend time apart too. You learn to ask for help. And then not feel defeated if you do. You will discover that your balance may be different than others. This is beautiful. God asks us to step out and be unique. He calls us to seek our own needs according to His will for each of us.

Gone are the days that you bathe in peace. In are the days that you wash His feet. The moments that you realize you can't do it alone anymore. And furthermore, that its okay. You trade your independence in to your maker. And He shows you ever so carefully how to depend on Him. He quenches your thirst when your heart is dry. He showers you with peace when you hear the knocking on the door. For the one hundred millionth time. "Mommy, I need you. Moooommmmy" He comforts your worn soul.

Gone are the days that you require sleep. In are the sleep deprived moments as you breastfeed from your engorged breasts. Or stumble across the cold floors of the kitchen to reach for a warm bottle. When you are sweeping. Stooping. Making sandwiches and cutting apples. Pouring water cups and filling hearts. This my friend, is where you meet Jesus face to face. In the simple. The mundane. In the everyday. He knows the work you set forth to succeed at home. You may not receive a medal. Or the attention to please our pride. Instead, you get the privilege of leading your children to Christ.

Gone are the days of quiet. There is a constant noise. The bickering and the fighting. The running and the bouncing off of the walls. In are the days that you learn from your own mistakes. The days when God whispers truth through the interactions with your kids. When He gently guides you to see the work you too have to do inside. When He wakes your soul like a strong aroma of your favorite coffee. So sweet and strong the mama He will make you.

Gone are the days that you allow the storms of life to define you as a wife and mother. In are the moments that you recognize you are not a failure by wading through the hard. In fact, you are strong and courageous. You are a brave fighter. Lean into God. Hand him your stuff. The baggage you have carried with you. The grudges. The unforgiveness. There is nothing He can't handle.  And don't believe that God will not give you more than you can handle. Its simply not true. He does give you more than you ever thought possible to take in. Why you ask? Because this is the place where you look up and seek Him. Where you see faith.

Gone are the days when you will ever feel the same about your career. Your heart is both with her and in your job. In are the days that you realize there is no right or wrong answer to deciding to work or not. What is important is the quality time that you spend together when you are home. What matters is that you are following God's call for your life. I've worked and have been at home. I have questioned if I am making the right choice in both areas. God will lead you too to decide. And its okay to pray about it each year. Pick a date and stay open to His lead. Its never to late to follow your heart where ever it may take you.

Gone are the days that you could drive a cool car. In are the days that I realize I was cool for all the wrong reasons. I do not want a fancy vehicle or a mansion. Instead I find the balance of blessings those around me with the extra the Lord has given. To pay off debt. To lend to a friend. Learning wisdom and discernment. To donate my resources, my time and my love freely. To give and not receive. To be content and not crave more. After all, it is His anyway. I want to honor our Father with being a good manager of the funds He provides.

Gone are the days of a clean house. In are the incredible memories you will make in the mess. In the midst of the Lego land mines. The duck races in the large water bowls. The art work. The music lessons. The Play-Do. The mountains of books. Joyful are the days when you will embrace your imperfect self. You let go of your high standards of clean. Your face softens and you truly relax. Delightful are the moments that you hear them giggle and squeal. Priceless are the "I love you, mamas".

Gone are the days that meal planning and dinner time is simple. What could have taken 30 minutes without children now takes at least an hour with "helpers". In is grace. Unwavering patience. Tolerance. Gentleness. Choosing kind words when you want to hurry. To rush. To just do it yourself. Today, I choose to see the lesson. To soak in these little hands that wrap around my leg. The pink tongues that lick the spoon. The tiny fingers that sneak another chocolate chip. I smile as I notice the finger painted heart drawn in the ketchup. Voices boasting, "Mama, its for you!"

Gone are the days you can stay mad at your husband for hours on end. In are the moments you remember your teamwork. You desire one another. He remains cool in the height of your madness. You supportive in his needs. Thankful is the way he strokes your hair and rubs your shoulders after a busy day. Happy is the way he fills your heart when he sings yours praises. Amazing are the ways God has weaved your hearts as one. Incredible is the path God has bound two ordinary people to make an extraordinary journey. He is your rock. Worthy is the endearing way He looks at you. The gentle kiss before he leaves and when he returns. Pleased is the words God utters as you dance under the stars in His praises.

Gone are the days that you see your smile lines as a nuisance. In are the days that you recognize every wrinkle on your face was worth the battle it took to obtain them. Wear those crevasses proudly. And the cellulite. And the stretch marks. Oh, the scars. Those too. The random hairs. Rock those reminders of life. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I birthed three babies from this swollen womb. I grew and nourished. Prayed for and adored. In all its glory. We created life.

Gone are the days of sizing my body up to others. I don't look at magazines and wish I was an airbrushed super model. I do not pretend to be a young woman showing my body for all to see. I do not feel the desire to compare my body to another mama's. No One. In are the days of measuring my heart according to Gods' will. The mornings of devotion and the prayer without ceasing. How I treat my husband, my children and others even when no one is watching. I will use this flesh not to seek attention. I will use it to do good. Yes. This body. This temple. This shape. Its mine. And its fearfully and wonderfully made.

Gone are the days when you pass judgment on your friends for their difference. In are the days that you embrace their shortcomings. And yours too. You walk beside them and guide each other. Come together and praise His name as one. You know this mama thing is way tougher than you anticipated. You do not start rumors but speak of love. You raise one another up. You are a village. Other mama warriors to fight for your family. And you for theirs. To storm the gates of heaven in your name. This is the time that you wrap your arms around your community.

Gone are the days of trying to be perfect. In are the days of finding your God given purpose. I say no to people pleasing. Instead, I seek to please the one who made me. I say yes to finding my security in Him. I don't need to pretend to be something I am not. I can be me, the broken and the beautiful.

This is only the beginning. There is so much more for you to discover.

Let me tell you a secret, I have been in your shoes. I know the ache in your heart. The desire to do the right thing, if only you knew what that was. The fear of having a sick child. The joy as you see them giggle. Our first child rocked our world. And after six kids, I still don't have it all together. Not even close. But this is the path God has planned for our family. He calls us to hard places. He asks us to join Him in the uncomfortable. This is the sweet spot where we grow. The place even our kids flourish. This is where, together as a family, we blossom.

God will not leave your side. Nope, not for a minute. Even when tears dampen your cheeks and you wonder if you are making wise choices. He is there when you show up. In professional clothes or pajamas. He takes you as you are. When your knees hit the floor and you beg God to help you not mess up. Too much. In the moment when you raised your voice a notch sterner than you wanted. He teaches you. He shows you how to ask for forgiveness and how to forgive. He guides you how to be slow to anger. Gentle and kind.

Through your children, He will show you grace so you in turn can give it to others. When your child is learning to walk and they fall frequently, He will whisper, this is you too. When they ask the same question over and over after you have given them the answer, He will whisper, yep this too. When they leave the floor a disaster and you wonder if they will ever clean up their mess. He may be asking the same of you spiritually.

I know you are tired. I see it on your face. But let me tell you. Its all worth it. When you lay them down at night exhausted. When your head barely hits the pillow before your heavy eyes close. When you forget to say your night time prayers. God sees you. He does. And He is well pleased. He sees your heart when others do not. He calls it good. Well done, mama.

You've totally got this. God has you covered. You don't have to be a super mom because you serve a super God. In your weakness He is strong. His glory will magnify inside of you. His hands will give you rest. His love will carry you through. You have done a wonderful job your first six months. Hold your head high because it isn't easy.

This mothering. It is holy work. It matters to God. You are important. 

Follow your mama heart. Trust it. God freely gives you intuition. The stirring. That bubbling of emotion. The mama bear inside. This burning fire. Do you feel it? God is refining your heart. He is working to give you greater strength than you ever knew existed. He is granting you perseverance. Confidence. Bold tenderness. Warm compassion. A zeal of hope. A delightful joy. Hold on. Its a wild ride.

Gone are the days that I've long forgotten. In are the days that we get the opportunity to live authentic intimacy. Miracles so spectacular wrapped up in a crazy, grand adventure. Beauty so great, we have to experience it to believe it ourselves. Real, raw, perfect love.









Wednesday, August 13, 2014

E and A

Playing with Legos

It is official! We have finally come to an agreement as a family. Every morning since I got home, we would vote on a name. Little hands would raise as we tried to decide between our three top choices. But no agreements could be made in our first week home. We were all split on our opinions. After lots of prayer, we feel the names are a perfect fit for their personalities! As we cuddled on the couch we took a final vote. We all agreed! A miracle! Though it took longer than anticipated, we are so glad we had this time together as a family to make the final decision after getting to know the girls well. The kids keep saying, "I'm so happy the girls are home. I love them so much"! We couldn't be more excited! Today we introduce (by name) Eden Joy and Aven Faith!! 

Sweet smiles for mama

Welcome our happy girl Eden. Her name means garden of life. We have had her name picked out for several months. And honestly feel like God gave us her name. She is full of energy, joy and spunk. She doesn't wander far from her mama just yet but is the most extroverted of the two girls. She is a leader. A strong willed little one with loads of determination. She loves to laugh and play. Eden is a delight. She enjoys throwing toys (and has a good arm). She is very smart. She likes putting blocks together, pretending and exploring. She has four baby signs that she tells me: eat, all done, more and tired. She is crawling and cruising more and more each day. She stands alone and is walking with assistance. She will take 2-3 steps alone when she is feeling brave with extra encouragement. We love her to pieces and are so honored to be her parents! 

Aven flies so high

And this is our precious Aven. Her name means wild mountain flower. She is laid back and chill. Content and peaceful. Though she loves being with her mama, she can easily be persuaded to be held by others (if I need a hand). She is more introverted than her sister. She loves to cuddle and enjoys being held close. She takes in each moment as if she is studying every movement we make. She has a serious side. Intelligent and mellow. Kind and warm. She too is using baby sign. She isn't walking yet and really has no interest in doing so at this point. She's happy just relaxing on our laps. We know it won't be long before they are both running across the house chasing their siblings, so we'll sneak in each extra moment of snuggles we can get. Aven is a bright beam of light. A lovely, pleasant baby. We are thrilled to be able to walk with her in this life God gave us. 

Thank you, Father, for two sweet girls we get to call our daughters! We are so blessed to get to be their parents! 

I love my blankee and lots of cuddle too