Monday, June 30, 2014

Family Fun Run/Walk!!!

I am helping to organize this last, final fundraiser for my sweet, wonderful friend Laura and her family as they seek to raise the remaining $8,000 that they need for their adoption of Luke and Mya from China!  They are so close as they are hoping to bring them home in August!
So we are doing this last fundraiser- a family fun run/walk!  Oh my, this is going to be so much fun!  If you happen to be reading this and you are in the area we would love to have you come out and join us!  Not only are we doing the run/walk but there will also be face painting, ice cream, other treats, and an adults vs. kids water balloon fight (our kids are already looking forward to that part)!  If you want to participate just let me know!

And if you aren't in the area (or are and can't come) we would LOVE it if you would pledge our family for the run/walk.  We are going to do it with all of the kids so we will be doing the one mile option and people can pledge us for 50 cents, $1, $5, $20 or anything you would like!  If you are interested just leave a comment here or you can email me at

Friday, June 27, 2014

Spring Catch Up: Part 2

jump (1 of 1) 
Spring might not be my favorite season, but the best thing about spring might just be puddle jumping! This year a giant mud puddle formed in our front yard. It might not have been giant to begin with, but as soon as the kids discovered it it quickly became giant! This drives my poor husband crazy. He hates it when the kids create huge puddles in the yard. This just happens to be one agree we disagree on. Our yard is such a mess anyway that killing off a little more grass (or weeds)is worth it to me to let the kids be kids and jump full on in
the puddles...and that they did!
  jump2 (1 of 1) jump3 (1 of 1) jump4 (1 of 1) 
Eli was playing in the puddle for about 30 seconds when his rain boots filled up with water and Eli was not happy. After a few minutes of watching his sister jump in the puddle though he threw on his crocks and 
started jumping himself!
 jump5 (1 of 1) jump6 (1 of 1) jump7 (1 of 1) 
And this picture just makes me laugh! I don't remember what was actually going on, but quite possibly Lily thought it was pretty funny to photo bomb my picture of Eli!:) jump20 (1 of 1) And though he didn't do any puddle jumping this spring I couldn't resist these adorable expressions from my littlest babe! jump19 (1 of 1) jump13 (1 of 1) jump11 (1 of 1) jump10 (1 of 1)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spring Catch Up: Part 1

Once again I find myself a little behind on was all those posts about our trip to Florida that took up so much time and the rest of our spring got lost in the shuffle!:) So, let's catch up... Valentines (1 of 1) For Valentines Day we made raspberry cream cheese hand pies...delish! Valentines2 (1 of 1) And these flowers were actually Lily's from school! Valentines3 (1 of 1) 
And the rest of the weekend mostly involved our town's father/daughter dance where I was the photographer again and this little strawberry blond was my favorite subject! Valentines4 (1 of 1) Valentines5 (1 of 1) Valentines6 (1 of 1) 
She is growing up way too fast this stunning little girl of mine! Valentines7 (1 of 1) Valentines8 (1 of 1) 
And while I photographed all of the other daddies and daughters my Lily snacked and played with her friends and danced the night away! This year she was even still there when I got down to photograph some of the dancing! Valentines10 (1 of 1) She might be growing up, but she looks so little here! There were plenty of girls her age but they don't seem to be in this picture! Valentines11 (1 of 1) Valentines12 (1 of 1) 
One last dance and picture before they headed out. You can tell here that she was pretty tired. She didn't make it all the way until the end, but she got much closer this year! Valentines13 (1 of 1) 
Random bead making from this spring. Valentines14 (1 of 1) 
More spring pictures to come...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lily's Kindergarten Class!

For as much as we were unsure and went back and forth and changed our minds this decision to put her in this kindergarten class in the particular school couldn't have been a better one!  Lily had an amazing year, learned a ton, and had more fun than we ever would have guessed.  Her teacher, one very special Mrs Sedgewick, is INCREDIBLE!  She is the kind of teacher that you dream about your kids having...she loves the children like they are her own, she is firm but kind, and she has hundreds of ways of making learning wonderfully fun for the kids.  And Lily would come home singing about Jesus...because she saw faith being lived out in her teacher and her friends and in each person at that school!  Not only was Mrs. Sedgewick incredible, but the school as a whole is just such a sweet, sweet place.  And the other kids and families in Lily's class?  We just love them!  I can only pray that we would be blessed to call them friends over the years!
I took these pictures of Lily and her class the last week of school...sweetest little class ever!

Kindergarten (1 of 1) Kindergarten2 (1 of 1) This is how they feel about kindergarten! Kindergarten3 (1 of 1) Kindergarten4 (1 of 1) Kindergarten5 (1 of 1) Kindergarten6 (1 of 1) Kindergarten7 (1 of 1) Kindergarten8 (1 of 1) Kindergarten9 (1 of 1) Kindergarten10 (1 of 1) Kindergarten12 (1 of 1) Kindergarten11 (1 of 1) Love them all!

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Thank you once again to everyone who reached out to us in kind words and encouragement and prayers after my last post.

I didn't write the things I did, however, because I want people to feel sorry for us.  I wrote them because this blog is an outlet for me.  I decided a long time ago that I didn't want my blog to be a place where I pretend to have it all together and where I only show the pretty pictures (though I do love sharing pictures).  Some days I feel like I have it together and some days I'm a mess...the other day I was a mess.  And I have learned through many years of training in ministry (and life lived alongside countless students, staff, friends, and family) that I do nobody any good (myself included) when I just put on a happy face and pretend that everything is okay. So, no, I don't want you to feel sorry for us...we really are okay.  But what I do want (and what you all gave in abundance) was a place for me to be real, sweet encouragement, and most importantly your prayers!  But the beauty that I have also found in being real and honest with where I am at (not just now, but always) is that it invites others into my life and give space for them to show me both grace and truth.  And that's how I grow...that's how we all grow.  Because when I am feeling defeated and fearful I need others to come alongside and love me and support me, but I also need them to speak truth into my remind me about contentment, to help me to see God's provision, and to show me again how to live out God's truths in my life.  And that is why I share the things I do...well, that and I've just never been good at keeping things bottled up!:)

So thank you to all of you who did that for me the other day (whether I knew you did or not)!  Yesterday and today have been really good and I have felt God working on my heart.  Not a thing has changed about our circumstances and yet God brought so much peace and contentment and joy in the last two days!  Those things (again not based on our circumstances at all) can only be the result of all of your prayers and of God moving in our hearts.  I couldn't be more thankful.

Joe brought the boat home yesterday (oh that silly boat that brought such tears) and he put the tarp on it and put it away, likely for the season or longer, and it was okay.  Joe talked more with the mechanic and did some of his own research and we have a much better understanding of what is wrong with the engine, what will need to be done to repair it, and how much it will cost.  This mechanic was actually very kind with us and it seems as though he is giving us a pretty good deal.  And though we wanted so badly to fix it we knew that we have to do the wise thing and wait...wait until we have the money in hand and can really afford to fix it.  It's likely that won't be this summer, but it will happen at some point.

We are still disappointed.  It felt like the ONE thing I was hoping for this summer.  But the reality is, as my friend helped me to see again last night, that I already have everything I really need.  My hope isn't found in a boat, or even my husband or my children or our ministry.  My hope, true hope, can only be found in knowing and being known by the Lord.  In knowing that this life isn't all we are living for.  I've learned this lesson before, but my heart forgets.

Is it wrong to want our boat?  No, I don't think it is at all.  God gives good things, things for us to enjoy, things that can indeed bring moments of happiness.  This is good.  Our boat is good.  My desire to have our boat working is good.  As long as that good thing and that good desire doesn't outweigh my desire for The One who is the only true source of joy.

And we are still fundraising full time for our ministry here.  We have a long way to go and that is hard.  But the reality of our situation may just be the kick in the pants we needed to really do the work, to really seek the Lord in this, and to really humble ourselves in the process of fundraising and asking for help.

So He is working.  He is working on my heart to remind me of what is true.  And He is calling me to continually trust in Him for every need.  It would feel easier if I didn't have to.  But I do and I am and I know that He will be faithful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another Bump in the Road

I have gotten such sweet words and encouragement about some of my recent posts.  I appreciate you all so much and it's a blessing that many of you can be encouraged by my honesty and willingness to share some of our struggles.  With that in mind I just wanted to share a little from today.  The last two weeks have actually been very encouraging...we have seen some financial support for our ministry come in (though we have a long way to go), we had an unexpected gift given to our account for Lily's school which was amazing, and there have been such simple blessings along the way too.  Like my friend Molly who felt like the Lord was asking her to give us some meat from her family farm.  We are incredibly humbled and thankful.

And I am trying hard to remember those things  because today felt like yet another bump in the road of this challenging time.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but it involved our boat.  A number of years ago Joe saved and saved and saved enough money to buy our family a small motor boat.  It's an old boat, but it was kept very nice, and it was just big enough for our family.  Nothing fancy, but such a joy to us and a dream come true really for this water loving family.  We aren't in the position now (and likely not anytime in the near future) to own a camp on the water or even the house we are hoping for, but this boat for us is our treat and a way for us to get away.  It broke down last summer in dramatic fashion while on the middle of the lake with my mother (who, by the way, is not the biggest water person).  The fire department had to come out and get us (much to my husband's embarrassment).  It was later in the summer and we didn't really have the money so we weren't able to fix it.

This year when we got our tax return (which we were very thankful for) we were determined to get our boat fixed.  Quickly our tax return was eaten up by the many unexpected expenses that this year has brought.  That was hard, but I kept telling myself that I was fine with it...fine with giving up all of the other things we had hoped to use it for as long as we could still fix the boat.  That was the ONE thing I wanted.  We are cutting corners as much as we can and I knew that this would be a summer with very few extras...but somehow I thought that it would be okay as long as we had the boat and those family experiences to look forward to.  We were expecting the repairs to be around $400.  So when our boat repair guy called today to tell us that the problem isn't what he or anybody else thought, but that our whole engine actually has to be rebuilt we felt (and still feel) totally defeated.  The estimate he gave us is $1,100.  And I want to cry.  It's the ONE thing I wanted this summer.  And it's just a boat.  A silly boat.  And it's totally a 1st world problem.  And now tears are running down my face and I feel slightly ridiculous.  But this is where I am at.

  I also made the mistake of checking our ministry account today and found out that our account is even lower than it was last month (now officially the lowest it has ever been since we were married).  And I can't help but wonder why.  Why is this happening?  Why is our ministry account the lowest it has ever been during a year when we have had more unexpected expenses than in YEARS combined?  And why can't I just have our boat?  Why can't we give our kids this one thing?  Tonight at dinner Lily commented that her favorite thing to do during the summer is ride in the boat.  And then, just a few minutes ago I saw pictures on Facebook of another family riding in their boat.  And there are tears because I don't understand.  But then I try to remind myself that I'll take tears over a broken boat that we can't afford to fix right now any day over tears about how to feed my children, or tears over a child that is dying, or tears over wondering where we will sleep tonight.  The boat IS a 1st world problem.  Is it fair to still be upset and disappointed?  Sure.  It is and I am.  But God has so much more for me, I know He does.  He is working here and I can feel's just now how I WANTED Him to work.  Because in the end I know that God cares about far more than just my comfort.

And I will praise Him that we have a boat even if we can't afford to fix it right now.  And I will praise Him that we have a house even if it's not the one we are dreaming of right now.  I will praise Him for my beautiful children even if I can't given them everything I want to.  I will praise Him for this incredible yet challenging ministry that He has called us too even though we aren't fully funded.  I will praise Him for my husband who works so hard for us even though he is struggling with this just as much as I am.  I will praise Him for having enough financially to pay our power and heat for the season even though for the first time ever I find myself wondering how we will do it in the fall.  I will praise Him for dear, sweet friends who rally around us constantly despite having their own struggles.  There is SO much to praise God for...please, God, help me to remember!

So that's my story for today.  We sure do appreciate your continued prayers...and if you happen to know somebody who can rebuild a small boat engine on the cheap please let me know!:)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

24 Day Challenge!

Tomorrow we start our 24 Day Challenge with a health and wellness company called Advocare!  I am both excited and nervous.  
But let me back up a little bit.  Let's just say that Joe and I have recently found ourselves in a place where we need to loose some weight and get in better shape.  For most of our adult lives we have been okay in this department, but something has happened the last couple of years.  We're not spring chickens anymore and I'm sure that age has had something to do with it.  And having children and having less time...and all of those baked goods.  Did I mention that I learned how to make homemade fried chicken this year...and it is amazing!  
The last couple of years have been hard on me physically.  Being pregnant for a 3rd time, loosing the baby, surgery, gestational trophoblastic disease, being pregnant for a 4th time, giving birth, and nursing our babe for 11 months have taken a toll.  Of course it's been worth every single pain and moment of discomfort and pound gained.  But it has left me feeling exhausted and uncomfortable in my own skin. I'm just going to be real here...I weighed myself today (to prep for the beginning of our challenge tomorrow) and I am just 3 and a half pounds lighter than I was the day I gave birth to Liam.  Seriously people...HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?  I don't know, but it is.  It literally felt like the baby was born and all of the weight that I was carrying in my abdomen spread out to all of the other parts of my body (well, some of it stayed in my middle too)!  
Let me be honest about this too...I have worn pants with a zipper about 3 times in the last year.  Seriously.  I don't do zippers right now...just won't do it, it's too uncomfortable.  I've not been comfortable with this, but for the last couple of years my body has been serving a higher help give life and sustain life and that has been the most important thing no matter how I looked or felt.  I was willing to give myself over for the well being of my children.  I still am, but now that Liam finished nursing this week it is time to reclaim my physical body for myself.  It's time to get that part of myself back.  It's time to loose the weight, be healthy, and have more energy.  It's time to wear a pair of pants with a zipper!:)
Now I won't say as much about Joe here, because that's his story and he doesn't always appreciate it when I write about all of his personal things...but let's just say that while he's not quite in the same boat as me (he does wear pants that zip) he has found himself as the heaviest he has ever been.  Can he still out climb, out hike, and compete with the college students we work with...he can, but he's just not where he wants to be or where he should be to be his healthiest.  
So that's where we are at.  Tomorrow we start our 24 Day Challenge with Advocare.  My friend Melissa introduced me to this company recently and I am incredibly excited to combine great nutrition, exercise, and high quality Advocare supplements to our life and see what the results are.  I'll try to update here and there as we go...and trust me, if this works I will be telling everybody more about Advocare and exactly how we did it!  Stay tuned!

Happy Father's Day!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a very Happy Father's Day to my dad!!!  This is a man who spent so many years working a job he didn't love to provide for his family...we didn't have everything but all growing up I never had a single worry or fear that we wouldn't have everything we needed.  Growing up I'll never forget grocery shopping every week with my dad or special nights out to eat together while mom was working!  My dad is the kind of guy that everybody knows and loves...I'm not sure he's ever met a stranger (in other words he'll strike up a conversation with anybody and everybody)!  And he's always making me laugh!  Our kids adore their "Bubba" and I only wish that he could be here to see them on a more regular basis (hint, hint)!  So Happy Father's Day to the man who used his time off from work to take his daughter, son-in-law and 3 grandchildren on the Disney trip of their dreams...if you survived that you can make it through anything!
We love you Bubba!
! Day1-8 (1 of 1)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

10 Months!

10 months (1 of 1) 10 months2 (1 of 1) 10 months3 (1 of 1) 10 months4 (1 of 1) 10 months5 (1 of 1) 10 months7 (1 of 1) 10 months8 (1 of 1) 10 months6 (1 of 1)
I manage to get these photos just hours before turning 11 months (I was a little behind this month)!  
WOW...month 10 was quite the month for this little guy!  It was probably one of our most challenging months, but also one of the biggest developmentally!
At the beginning of the month Liam began getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth a bit.  Shortly after he began doing a little army crawl on his wasn't fast, but it was effective and got him where he wanted to go!  And thus he became mobile!!  By the end of the month he was full on crawling on all fours!  And if that weren't enough towards the end of the month he also began pulling up on things (mostly me)!  This sweet littlest babe of ours was so content to just stay put and watch and play for so long that all of this activity seemed to come on so suddenly!  And sadly it seems to have brought some degree of angst with it as well.  As I mentioned, it's been a bit of a rough month.  Liam was sick for probably close to 2 weeks and I'm also still not convinced that he wasn't also teething.  Feeling crummy combined with so much developing just seemed like a little too much for our little one and our normally very mellow and content baby turned into a bit of a bear (okay, a lot like a bear some of the time).  He's in that lovely stage of being somewhat mobile, but not independent and not able to do everything he wants to do.  It's suddenly as if his whole world has been opened and now that he sees what is available he's really frustrated and angry that he can't do it all and have it all.  Just try and take a Lego (that he's trying to put in his mouth) away from him and I guarantee you that it won't be pretty.  He's been a serious grump.  I now he doesn't look like it in these pictures, but that's only because for some reason he loved being outside rocking in this chair (and oddly enough he also seems to like it when I take his picture)!   Honestly we would have got a ton more if the bugs hadn't started biting so badly (I think it might have been the happiest he was all day).
And he's started eating quite a bit more too though you would never know it since he's dropped down to the 8 percentile for weight...he's our little peanut all right!  No worries though...our doctor isn't concerned and I'm pretty sure Joe has started putting protein powder in his baby oatmeal when I'm not around!:)  He does really seem to enjoy feeding himself and we have found very little that he won't eat...frozen blueberries are his very favorite (and as a result there are blueberry splotches on everything he wears)!  
He's actually started to sleep quite well the majority of the time at night and during the day (he's an awesome napper)!  His newest favorite toy is not anything we bought him, but rather the dog's metal tag that hangs from her collar...really, it's his favorite!  
And that's the 10th month with our little Liam babe!

Thursday, June 12, 2014


My baby girl graduated from kindergarten tonight (sigh)!!

Graduation (1 of 1)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Hair2 (1 of 1)
For some time now Lily has been growing her hair out to donate and today was the day!  She was so excited to give her hair to a woman/girl with cancer and I couldn't have been more proud.  For her the sacrifice wasn't cutting her hair, but growing it out long enough (because she really prefers her hair short)!  This girl of mine is beautiful inside and out, long hair and short, but I have to admit that the short hair is pretty adorable...

Hair4 (1 of 1) Hair3 (1 of 1)

And today I am thankful:
8.  For haircuts with my girl and an amazing hairdresser.
9.  For homemade caramel corn.
10.  For my husband who made me a fire because it was cold and rainy and dreary (even though it's June)!
11.  For playing Jenga and building train bridges with Eli.
12.  That Joe was nearby Lily's school when we got the call that she had gotten sick.
13.  For fresh pea pods sauteed in olive oil and garlic.
14.  For playing ball with Liam.
15.  That in the last 24 hours we raised over $100 in new monthly support for our family and ministry! 
16.  For my friend Beth who comes over for chai, to visit, and be real.  Love that girl.
17.  That Baby Einstein videos are able to calm down my sick, fussy babe.
17.  For all of the prayers and words of encouragement following yesterday's post.
18.  For the reminder from the Lord that money doesn't ensure security, that control is an illusion, and that He is in control!
19.  That my daughter has a heart to help others.