30 Days into Adoption

I wish I could let every single person experience what we have experienced through this adoption. We matched with him in September, started our visits in October, and we are approaching the 30 day mark of moving Z into our family. We had him 8 days over the Thanksgiving break so I am including part of that. We will finalize our adoption in court in May. We will give him a middle name. We will keep his birth name and will also be able to share it and some actual photos at that time via social media.

If you ever doubt that there is a God and how powerful, amazing, and redeeming He is, adoption can prove that. If you also ever doubt how real, dangerous, and destructive the enemy is, adoption can prove that as well.

We like hard.
We like challenges.
We don't want easy.
We weren't made for that.

This may take me a long time to process what all just happened. The transition of moving a 7 year old boy into your home that has never had one is crazy. But awesome.  I think people are afraid of adoption because of the unknown. Especially with an older child.  All I can say is that it's going to be okay. Its okay to be scared, just give it to the Lord and have hope that he will make the dark places light. Hope is a huge part of our story and it always stands renewed.
Hope for the hopeless. It kind of makes life worth living.

For every emotion you can feel, there is the opposite of that, and it ricochets back and forth and all at the same time.

The joy of adopting. Of an orphan no longer being an orphan. Another child in our family. One less child in an orphanage.

But, the stress and hardship of your whole world changing. And adapting to a child that has no idea what's going on. Imagine a 7 year old that has had no boundaries, home schedule, defiance that is deep rooted, detachment from caring about a lot of things, major communication limitations, and deficiencies that you are still discovering.... and probably will be for a while. Very rare issues that have come up that we haven't even heard of before. Because this child has not had the norm at all. There have been many days we are exhausted beyond belief. Frustrations and failures. Epic Meltdowns. Bad trips out to restaurants, stores, and not leaving the house much. Implementing structure. Discipline. Social development. School. I could never even type what we have seen and had to take head on. Its funny, we are unbelievably exhausted and energized, elated and frustrated...all at the same time.

It is a big job. But, one we went seeking.... looking.... and searching for.

We are unbelievably happy. Our new son is unbelievably happy. And that's really all that matters. The journey in which we got here and even in which he got here matters less and less.

I won't share much about his past. Mostly to protect him. And also because it is something we have had to grieve. Its not really world wide web material.

The only thing and picture I can paint for you is that he has had no family. An orphan. No one advocating or fighting for him. No one giving him a chance. He has been kept in isolation. There have been all different levels of neglect stemming across his past. I can't focus on what he has been through, but straining ahead and pushing the ball forward. But, I do feel sorry for the people that have hindered this sweet boy along the way. That is in the Lords hands, not mine.  From basic needs being met to major needs being met. Everything is new to him. EVERYTHING.
We adopted an academically smart 7 year old. But, a socially developed 3 year old. Similar to an international adoption, our sweet son has no idea about really anything out in the world. And really  no idea how to interact with others at all yet. His own language, so to speak.

He is doing awesome. Each day we are hitting MAJOR milestones. It is bittersweet seeing him see things, discover things, and experience life for the first time at the age of 7. It cuts to the core seeing  his "twin" David who has lived a full little life in his 7 years. I see the holes. I see the gaps. And I think Z is seeing and grieving what he has been through. And that is good.  I can also see so quickly them being Healed. Filled. Transformed. Made new.

He is wanted. And he knows that. He is loved. And he revels in that. He feels safe.
He can see now, physically and mentally. We got you glasses on Wednesday, buddy! He is given independence. He is given choices. He is given outlets. He is given so much food and he is loving it.  He is being told no. And more importantly, he is being told yes. He is being parented. He has started calling us mommy and daddy. The three of our kids interact as if it had always been. David and Mackenzie love him and are doing really well with the transition. They are protective of him and look out for him because they know everything is so new to him. Its really sweet.

He has a family. And it is a beautiful thing to watch a child that has never have one experience that.  God gives big grace.

BIG grace.

He equips us. Strengths us. And His mighty, mighty power to look after and care for the orphans is radical. I don't know how people adopt that don't know the Lord. For that matter, I'm not quite sure how people parent without knowing the Lord.

You have to give your kids to the Lord.

You do your very best. And then you ask God to step in and direct their steps. I pray really hard for my kids. Adoption has brought that to a very real level for me.

Adoption has not just given me a new son, but it has made us a better family. Made me a better mom. Tim a better dad. And our children better people.  They are right now exposed to a child with special needs. And they will get to see how a child like this was not just persued, but fought for, prayed for, and ultimately healed. Because we know God is going to heal him.

We covet your prayers. We are blessed beyond measure. Our family is a rock. Our friends are saints. And our whole entire church brought us food the month of December.

It has been the best Homecoming ever. Ever.

I hope all of you and yours have the best Christmas ever. This may just be our Merriest Christmas yet.

Here is our verse for 2014 for our family and most importantly, Z.
Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Happy Birthday Mackenzie!!

Happy 5th Birthday, Mackenzie! You are our little Christmas gift! I will never forget how fun and crazy it was 5 years ago to have you one week before Christmas. We loved it. It was the year we were the most organized. I had everything ready for Christmas a month before you came. The hospital was all decorated, Santa was roaming the halls, and I got to go home within 24 hours because you were so easy and everything was fine! This year,you spent the day with your grandma and great grandma going shopping and had a girls day! You still hold the title of the only grand DAUGHTER on both sides of the family so you may be a little bit spoiled. We had family over that night for pizza and cake. And then we celebrated with your girlfriends later and had a tea party with dolls. You are so much fun, Mackenzie. You are a really amazing sister and a very caring and thoughtful daughter. Even so young, you put others first and always speak to everyone. We are so proud of you and love you so much!!!



On December 4, 2013 at 5:45pm we picked up our new 7 year old son! We GOTCHA buddy!
Welcome Home, Z!!

I will have details soon, but its crazy town over here!
Z is finishing his 2nd day of Kindergarten right now.

Praise the Lord.



I cant even blog about the adoption right now. We are still waiting for DFCS to place him permanently. Please pray. We have him on weekends and see him on wednesdays so thats all I got. I will update when it happens!

Tim turned 32.
I can't tell you how mysterious and crazy it is that we met 13 years ago and are about to celebrate 10 years of marriage. Not that I am in any boat to dish out advice, but I have learned 1 really important thing.
Tim and I have always pursued the other persons dreams, maybe to our detriment sometimes. It should go without saying we look to the Lord for our worth and not to each other, but Tim really gave his all for my dream of having a big family. (It feels bigger than it is sometimes because we have shared so many children).  And I think he would say I sacrificed pretty hard and gave it all up for him to switch careers and pursue a passion. Whats crazy is that our passions truly became the other ones passions. Even if initially you were very critical about the other persons ideas or plans, its actually amazing when you lay it all out for the other person anyway. Humility wins.
I used to feel guilty about dragging our kids through the loss of other kids, pursuit of careers, house renovations, sacrificing for a long term goal, living debt free and on the actual money we have. That we weren't the most "fun" parents. Our cars will never be new. My kids know what coupons are. And even at a young age they understand buying something and selling it for profit. The value of a dollar. And working really hard. And actually loving what you do.
So, no. I don't feel guilty now. I believe we have taught them 2 really important things. Life isn't all about them. And to follow your dreams even when you become a mom and dad. I think if our life was "all about them" our marriage would suffer.
We were first. And we will be last when they leave one day. I want to start well and finish well.
We will be here and still married when they start their own life one day. Babies don't keep and they will graduate and have families of their own one day. Isnt the best thing you can give a child is a healthy marriage? I would like to believe so. Both Tim and I's parents are at 35 and 37 years of marriage and we owe most everything to them.
I want to still be in love.
I want to still have passions and life and not go into depression when "this part" of motherhood closes. I will always be mom, it will just look different. But, my role as a wife is more long term than my role as a mother. And we have a whole lotta life ahead since we became parents at age 23.
We have to give to our spouse and ask the Lord to make us the help mate he created us to be to them.

Anyway, I love you Tim. I love you for the guts you have to do what matters, to do what your passionate about, and to never let us stay stagnant. I feel like we are learning how to be "settled" but also never stagnant. And you have integrity to do it the right way.

I also hope people reading this know we are ALL trial and error. We have nothing figured out. We mess up all the time. And we are okay with that. Because Gods okay with that and it lets us know we need Him. One of my favorite quotes, to date, is "Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter" DL Moody.

I have to share a funny conversation Tim and I had the other night. When all 3 kids fell asleep we were TOTALLY the lame parents that set up a date in our home at 7:45pm since we had no idea what we were going to do with all of them asleep from wearing each other out!! So, we had a nice dinner and candles :)
I told him about how I was reading through some of my old journals the other day from the first year we were married.
It went down like this:
Jen- (reading excerpt)...."I hope one day that our life is never boring. I don't want "the american dream" of obtaining every material possession we can, having our family, having our wants, and life is just all about us. Yuck. Boring. I don't want a cookie cutter life. I don't want it to look like anyone elses. I would rather die young than to live a long boring life. Lord, I hope we blaze our own trail and we never look normal."
Tim- "Check."
"That's great babe, thanks for journaling that 10 years ago. Looks like we have all that covered. 
What else?"
Ha! He later told me that was his very same hope for our life. Cheers for being crazy!!!
Happy 32nd birthday Tim!!! I love you!

Fall in Marietta!!


The Final Hours...

I think every time I have tried to sit down to write, I have fallen asleep!
I wanted to update our time with him. I cannot post pics of his face and I want to protect his full name right now, so we will call him Z on the blog.

Right now, I want to remember all the logistics and the crazy of this month!
I almost feel a little delirious. Our life has literally been driving to the orphanage and maintaining some kind of normal life at home for David and Mackenzie. We have had him on the weekends and go up during the week to see him after school. Its a 2 hour round trip and it is all incredibly emotionally draining....and at the same time....we are FILLED WITH JOY!
Its all going really well!! Z is wonderful. I can't wait to slowly introduce him to our community. He is Sweet. Funny. Alert. Smart. Precious. Observant. Affectionate.
He is just a sweet little boy who has been in isolation for a long time. And, that's all about to change. Processing what this sweet child has gone through is a lot.
And, again, its his story. Z will have an amazing story one day.
Anyway, that's been all I could handle this month. Seeing Z. And keeping our household running. Please forgive me all family and friends out there for not being the most together person right now. This has taken my all.... and it has been worth it all.
David and Mackenzie are doing great with him. Mackenzie of course, is oblivious to reading any social cues and just talks to him non-stop. She grabs and holds his hand most places we go. And she explains everything to him. She has also set up a full fledged orphanage in her bedroom during the day telling me she is, "running the orphanage." She lines babies up and takes meals, ect. Lord only knows what this child is going to say when she starts kindergarten next year. David and Z are sharing a room. They are only 40 days apart. Its like he instantly has a twin brother! They are super cute together and Tim has made me refrain from dressing them identically right now. (Hello, Christmas! That will be my excuse:)
Z has not had opportunities to interact with other peers a lot so he is literally having to learn how to have conversations and engage with people. David doesn't understand this sometimes, but we are teaching him Z will come out of his sweet shell soon :)
Everything is new to Z right now as his life has consisted of school and the orphanage. We are treating it as if it were an international adoption.
Here is one of the last shots of me and Z together.....

Months ago, I felt God speak the words to me, "He's yours." And, I not only know that in my head, but now I have felt it in every part of my heart. This is through and through our baby.
I also had a very real moment in my faith. God interrupted my life in an amazing way, came in, and forever changed my heart and life and the way I live when I became a Christian. Christ has adopted us as sons and daughters and we did nothing to earn that. The opposite in fact.  As I was driving Z out of the orphanage, the verse John 14:18 hit to the core, "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come for you."
God came RIGHT in the middle of our mess. Z is in the middle of a mess and we have felt the very hand of God leading this boy into freedom. We have been humbled to be apart of God redeeming and restoring.

Tim also felt a few weeks ago that he heard from the Lord and told me, "God is going to heal him."
Those words we heard we have clung to hard. I could blog for days about all the theories, ideas, diagnosis, problems, progression, observations, notes, comments, opinions, and so on and so on about where each person we have encountered believes where Z is.

What are his real needs?
Does he have any special needs?
How has being in an orphanage since the age of 3 affected him?
How has never having a family affected him?
Will he thrive?
What will the school do with him?
How will our family and friends respond to him?
How will he be once he is given a family for the first time in his life?
What if he is given a childhood?
A brother and sister? 
What if he is given a mom and dad that are crazy in love with and about him, no matter where he is?

Z's greatest need is a family. And a childhood. He has had neither.

And we can do that.

We are asking the Lord to give us wisdom on the rest. The school. The administration. The therapies he may need. All involved with the sweet boy will have wisdom.

A song we sing a lot here is:

Into the darkness you shine.
Out of the ashes we rise,
there is no one like You, none like You.
Our God is greater, Our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power, our God.

In Isaiah, our God says He will "heal the broken hearted and set the captives free....."

And, we are supposed to set our little captive free this weekend.
We are hoping, HOPING, this is the weekend that he will stay on Sunday.
No dropping him back off at the orphanage. No more driving him back.
Please pray for the details to finish.
And it to be finished.

We are waiting on the Lord to finish this. We have seen him do some amazing things this month.

Last Sunday when our time had ended with Z and it was time to take him back, I simply could not go. I could not do it.
Tim had to take him back.

Would everyone join in prayer that tonight will be Z's last night in the orphanage?
We are all ready to not have to say good bye anymore.
Please pray our boy will be home for good this weekend!


We Matched!!!

4:00pm Atlanta time. September 17, 2013. We matched with our new son. This is the little boy that I have blogged about previously that is the most recent situation and he is almost identical to David in every way. It's crazy. That will have to be another post all together. He is 6. He has been in an orphanage since the age of 3. His parental rights were terminated long ago so we will not have a legal risk involved. But, today I wanted to write about our news: We Matched!!! And we are celebrating that. And asking for prayer as we have a few more steps in getting this boy home!

WOW! Whoa.... and Holy Cow!!!!

And it has taken me, us, and our kids some time to even begin to process this amazing thing. Please give me grace in waiting to share because you literally go from one day with nothing to the next day with a 6 year old moving in within weeks. It is a lot to take in.

You see, I got the call in the middle of my event planning job in Las Vegas. Of course I did. I go out of town all of ONCE a year. And that's when I get the phone call. Can you imagine getting that phone call, not being with your HUSBAND, and being completely ACROSS the freaking country?!!!

I could not even process. I screamed into the phone with excitement at my DFACS worker. Cried. And ran down the hall like a maniac. Its Vegas. No one gave me a second look even. And then I thought, Oh my gosh I have to call Tim. Like, yes. Tim. He needs to know this.

I call him. We are in shock. Freaking out. Excited. Nervous. And realize we have no idea what to do next. Do I fly home right then? Is he coming tomorrow? What do we do now? We had focused so much on getting everything done. All our ducks in a row. To have the hope of even matching one day. We had NO IDEA what even happened after you actually matched. We flipped.

Upon calming down, then talking in depth with DFACS, we quickly talked through our next steps and I did not fly home as our new son wasn't being dropped off that night.

I had to wait from Tuesday ALL the way to Saturday to just be with Tim. And just be together with our news.  It sure was a good homecoming. It felt like I came home to a new life. New hope. An answered prayer. Joy. The Lord. My sweet husband, partner, and best friend. God had done this for us.

We told our kids the next morning at breakfast. In typical 7 year old and almost 5 year old fashion, they begin hooping and hollering and broke into a wrestling match in the floor, like puppies.

We celebrated Davids birthday that night with family and Daves buddies and were able to share our news with them. We had a meeting with DEFACS the next week and reviewed all his paperwork. We had planned a trip to Disney World a while back that was perfect timing to go on and settle in with our news. Our next meeting (and final meeting) will be next Thursday. Now, we begin setting up a move in timeline, which will happen hopefully sometime this month and ask any more questions we have. Would you pray for the next few steps in moving this sweet boy into our home?

Matching is a funny thing. I feel as though you waiver back in forth from being 100% excited and then 100% terrified. You have NO IDEA what the child is like you have matched with!! AAHHH!
And with our new son, he is 6... almost 7. Like a real person. And we have no idea what he is like. You don't meet the child until right before you begin moving him in and WAY after you have committed to them. It doesn't matter though because the kid you meet will not be the kid you end up bringing home. We know he is going to change so much from being in a permanent home.

Blew our minds.
Adoption is crazy. And like a war zone.
And awesome.

But, God's sovereignty plays a role, right? We ultimately believe God does the family matching. So, do you just blindly walk into any situation? What about your current children? What if it isnt a good match?
What if something goes wrong? What if it doesn't? What if this was the road your family was meant to go down? What if fear is the only thing that kept you from it? Does it matter if you meet the child? Because the child will not be the same child in a year after being with a permanent family? Can you really know EVERYTHING about a child anyway? Can you predict what this child will be like in your family? Can you predict anything in your own life anyway? What if this child completely de-rails your family? What if one of your own biological kids ends up doing that anyway? What if your family becomes closer, stronger, more united, equipped to embrace others, and happier.... even happier?
And lastly, if part of Gods' heart is orphans in distress.... then might we get to be apart of something much, much bigger than us? The answer to that is Yes.

All I can tell you is that we have Great Hope. Great, great HOPE.
And all I am asking is for the people around us to share in this great hope.

We are trusting in Him who works all things together for the good of those who love Him.
We need support and prayers.
We need people who will speak life and speak hope.
We know about the fears.
We have come to a crossroads with the Lord about it.

We believe with our whole hearts, this child is ours. Meant to be. The Lord has just given us that. I have said it before, but we love a child we have never met. How? We have 2 kids we loved before they were ever born into this world. Prayed for. Wanted. Fought for. Fought very, very hard for. We feel the same about this 6 year old precious, precious boy. We are his people.

You don't get a lot of information when you adopt. Maybe a paragraph. Blurb. Maybe nothing.
It is blind faith.

You will always have more questions that you have answers for. That is the truth.

But, we serve a God who is Almighty. All knowing. And Always with Us.

We are matched. MATCHED.
And we are All In.



Can you believe this sweet little 2 1/2 year old boy with his baby sister is now SEVEN?? 
I mean, there is no WAY that my boy can be SEVEN!
Sure makes this mama feel old!

Since I am very behind, I will catch up a little in this post! We just finished our crazy month of September. Tim went out of town for a week for his work Deep Sea Fishing/Golf trip and had a blast. I went on my annual event planning job to Las Vegas for a week. And we ended the month in Disney World with my mom and dad! Whew.... lets just say we are HOME for a while!
In between all the traveling chaos, this little man had his buddies over for a Ninja Party! Would you know the day I plan for LOTS (16 children and 32 adults) to come over, it rains. Yep. Rain.
So, the only way I can remotely bring you into the chaos is to describe it as a frat party with 7 year old boys. Tim fully embraced the testosterone in the house. And maybe helped bring it up a few notches. Everyone had swords. And then he made ninja balloons to be the targets and tied them all around the house. 
Whatever. Just, whatever.
PLEASE NOTE> Do you see my hallway?? It is the last darn thing I have to paint in this old house. And guess what? I didnt even BOTHER before this party! That is an old rug I threw down so no one would body bowl down the hall and that is straight DRYWALL behind David. I guess when you throw a frat party, you need to look like a frat house. Done. And done.
Well, they had fun. We survived. Nothing was broken and I'm pretty sure no one was hurt. We didn't hear them if they were. The best part of the night was the end..... downtown Marietta re-scheduled their fireworks from the 4th of July that night. So, David still thinks the town fireworks were just for his birthday. We told him no different. It was a memorable day for my sweet boy and I loved it being all about him.  David suited up...
David and his new electric scooter. Yes, it goes 10mph. And yes, he is wearing a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads.
Ninja cupcakes! Pintrest inspired. They look cuter far away. I did these when I was way too tired after flying in from Vegas.
Tim's awesome ninja balloons all over the house. I think there were 15 sword stations.

Happy Birthday sweetheart! We sure have had an amazing 7 years and I love the time we got together this month.... in Disney World!

Ok, for the record. This was our 3rd Annual Disney trip! If you ever want to know how to go on the cheap, email me! For real! I owe my sister a lot for her research, but this year we did something just as cheap! Years past, we have camped at Fort Wilderness. But, if it rains on your trip.... it aint pretty. 
This year, we stayed in an awesome condo off VRBO in Buena Vista, Fl. It was ridiculously nice. And cheap. And 10 miles from Disney. Full kitchen. Spacious. Amazing pool. Right next to Publix. So close you could hear fireworks. Anyways, our goal is to go and only spend a few hundred dollars. There are ways to get deals on tickets. We did Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween night in Magic Kingdom and it was only $59. Sea World had tickets for only $50 right now. Ok enough. Here our a couple pics!

Our Pool!
 Would you believe while we were there a film crew showed up and asked us to be in the hotel filming? I was reluctant at first because we were on vacation, but my parents totally thought it would be hilarious. So, I signed the papers and was up for a good laugh.  It was hilarious. I will post the video when they send it to me. I am in the intro, because I totally knew what I was doing, and my kids were filmed going down the waterslides. The cameramen would go down before them and video them the whole way. It was too much. They went around telling everyone they were going to be on tv. We did feel like reality stars because since people saw us with film crews around, they naturally assumed we were "someone". Wasn't there a Saturday Night Live skit about that? People just flock to cameras I guess. 3 years ago, we were asked by HGTV to do a Renovation Reality show while doing Nellie Mae. I blogged about it here.
Anyway, people can do what they want. I was super annoyed after only spending 30 minutes with them. And Mackenzie was acting way too much like a diva after only a few shots on camera. That's not our bag, baby.

Magic Kindom, Halloween style!

3 years in a row, the characters still hold high ranks with what matters with my kiddos. They are just so sweet and genuine with the kids. Its like, they fully embrace that they are a reality and superstar in the eyes of children. It is just fantastic to watch.
Mackenzie was also kind of a big deal this year because she could ride all the roller coasters. I knew she would love them. Mackenzie is a roller coaster. David was also on top of the world because he could drive his own GO KART!! I mean WHAT IS GOING ON DISNEY? Have they totally lost their minds? Yes. Yes they have. Anyway, I don't know if I was in more fear of my own son driving or more in fear that he was driving my father? I just don't know. But. In that moment, sheer terror entered my body and I realized that he just may never drive a vehicle. I then began a list of reasons why he need never drive. We will live in walking distance to where ever he wants to go. Solved that.

Thanks for having us Disney! We love you Mickey!


Wednesdays Word by Tim: Vanishing Hope

Well, Jen asked me to do a devotion for our blog. So here goes.

I have been reading 'The Jesus Storybook Bible' to our kids for a while now and it is awesome.  In the old testament stories, it brings all of the stories full circle by pointing to the coming of Christ and where fallen man and is in need of a savior.  You continually see where man's every effort to make his life whole falls short.  This hits home to me in a big way.
   For whatever reason, I have this innate, overwhelming desire to do things I am continually passionate about.  From crazy hobbies, to fun experiences with my family, to projects I do at home and to the career I have.  I want to be invigorated by these things.  I know all of you have heard that as a broken people, we often get caught up in trying to find fulfillment in all of these things other than Christ.  How many times do you tell yourself that once we get to this phase of life, everything will be so much better?  The right career, the next kid, the right circle of friends, having true community, ect....  At the same time, you also may have heard that Jesus is right shape puzzle piece to fill that missing void in your heart.  That this 'hole' goes away  because you invited Jesus in there.  
But here is where I struggle.  Even as a follower of Christ, I still at times feel like I'm not at peace...at all.  Like that void somehow re-emerges itself. I still often times try and fill this hole, despite the fact that Jesus already filled it.  Why is this???  Why do I still feel empty some times.  Perhaps because we are fallen and because we still sin is why life fades and joy leaves, but whats crazy is I think it is like this by design.  I see where life's high peaks turn to valleys only to return to peaks again.  I see where passion for what we do fades and then becomes vibrant again like the coming and going of the seasons.  All of this points to something.  It foreshadows of something to come. He has allowed us to taste it, to almost touch it and to feel it.  He give us experiences in life that if they were to go on forever, we would be in a eternal state of glee. But they fade only to come again on another day.  
         I'm not sure if this is a stretch, but I feel like when that 'feeling' escapes you, it was a taste of things to come.  Times when you truly connect with your kids, when you have times that without question you know God was speaking to you or even the elation over accomplishing a great feat...all this is a taste when we finally will be united with Christ.  
      In Ecclesiastes it says that  "...God has planted eternity in the hearts of men..."  In our heart, we have these times, these gifts that God allows us to have. All of this point towards and resonates with eternity.  Its like God continually gives us appetizers only to say the main course is on its way.  
  And so, in my round the bout way, my point.  Don't ever forget those times.  Don't let the times that you know was a gift to you leave your memory.  Remember them, write them down.  Even in the old testament, God's people repeatedly made alters and monuments so they would always be reminded of what God did for them.  Those times tell you of eternity to come, of a life without fear and emptiness, of a life that someday we will share with our savior in eternity.


Wednesdays Word: The Finisher

We have had a tough couple weeks.

The laundry list of tough items we have been waiting through is lengthy. And ugly.
And right now I feel more inclined to write about how and where God is in the middle of it. Because problems will always exist. Waiting will always exist. But, more importantly, our Savior exists and in those moments when you hear Him.... those are the moments worth writing about.

Yesterday, it was quiet. I have been heavy hearted with just the weight and gravity of answers we do not have yet. I haven't been able to shake it. As I quickly started running through scenarios of answers that I have not received yet (thats a fun game, right? No.) A still, quiet voice inside brought this verse from the cobwebs of my mind to the front and center of my heart.....

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:12

That verse stopped my anxiety in its tracks. Him. He. Jesus. Yes. He is the author of our lives. Not us. Not the world. Not the enemy. He is the one writing our story. And in this same story, He is the one perfecting our faith.

I got stuck on Author..... one that originates or creates. It also means the writer, composer, founder, designer, architect, finisher, and would you know..... Father.
And that he is perfecting our faith. Meaning His fautless plan is happening and being executed
Synonyms for perfector are the best, ultimate, exact, absolute, and just right.

The great news is, our stories are being written. They are not over. We do not decide that.
Jesus is our author. And our perfector. Our finisher.
He gets the final say.

When we experience trials of many kinds, I believe thats how James writes that we can consider it pure joy. Because James knew that Jesus was his author. And our author.

It is a beautiful balance to not just read this verse and believe its true, but literally be in a place where you are dying for Jesus to write the next page. We have lived a life that has been like a cliff hanger. We are always desperate to hear from the Lord. And waiting for his next move.

And one thing I know. He is a finisher. He doesn't stop writing. Today, I pray that no matter what your story is, you would find full confidence in that Jesus is your author. And if you have been trying to write it on your own.... you would hand the pen over. 


Wednesdays Word: Celebrate.

When life brings hard times, I always find a need to celebrate and give thanks. I am often reminded of the scene in the movie, The Grinch, when even after everything the Grinch had taken, the families all came out and joined each other and celebrated. Family is something to celebrate. Life is something to celebrate. Any relationships that can withstand sin, stay together, and grow closer should be celebrated.

Psalm 40:1-3
 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.

Small triumphs, victories, and good news need to be celebrated. And praised.

Perspective is so crazy because you can take the same life circumstances and give them to 2 different people. One will see it half full. The other will see it half empty. Am I raising my kids to see the glass half full? Or will they get bent out of shape over something very surfacey? And be negative?
Will they grow up believing that things and money are important? Or am I showing them relationships are key and we fight for those.

We have made choices here to celebrate small things. Small things often lead to big things, but sometimes they don't. So finding joy in every triumph I think is crucial to parenting.
We see where we want our children to grow and be, but are we celebrating the steps to get them there? Or are we exasperated with the process?
And then the same for our own life? Am I exasperated with the journey and process to get from point A to point B, or am I living and celebrating each day for the joys we had?

What will our kids know about us one day when they know daddy lost his job? Hopefully, they will know that after 4 years of college he went back and got another degree in HVAC to change careers and get out of the housing industry.
What will our kids know about our rocky road of family planning and miscarriage? Hopefully, that we kept fighting for our family despite the many we lost.
What about when we sold our house and couldn't afford another one right away? Hopefully, that we re-built one instead.

How do you raise a fighter? If they are not put in situations to fight, there won't be any fighting...

I want to be a fighting mother. And a fighting wife. Conflict is not just hardship within your own life, it spreads into your whole family. I have witnessed a lot of conflict in family as I am sure many have. People make some pretty weird choices in their life. I have seen it in myself, aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, cousins, grandparents, and every single relationship you can think of within a family. People make bad choices. People make selfish choices. People make choices that forever damage relationships within a family. And sometimes we are not in control of that.
I want to raise my kids in a way where they will always extend an olive branch. To people who don't deserve it. To people who are hard to love. Aren't those the very relationships that we are tested to the core? Our culture walks away from anything that is hard, requires work, or is messy. We cover the truth. We cut people off. We live in denial that we must be right and everyone is wrong. We justify walking away and ending relationships very quickly. Ultimately, God is mighty to save. (Zeph 3:17)
My kids are just not going to grow up that way. I want them to fight for relationships, for people, for truth, and for standing up for what is right. To celebrate people.

Celebration at a young age, over triumphs big and small, will ultimately arm children with the mindset to fight battles.

Our kids are going to need to be confident in Christ, in their support system, and in confrontation and making it right with people..... if they didn't grow up watching you do that, then why in the world would you expect to raise children like that?  If we are celebrating our victories regularly, it motivates us to keep fighting and taking on challenges. The same with our children. If we can give our kids situations to triumph, they will ultimately learn God is with them and they can do all things through Him.

The only way we can celebrate is to win. The only way we can win is to fight. And the only way we can fight is with the Armor of God.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

If that is our attitude, how do we lose? How does that lose, ever? The way I see it, either way I win. I win with the person or I win because I never gave up hope. And we need some people speaking hope into todays relationships.  I am a firm believer that God can redeem any life.

Am I part of the problem or part of the solution? Which one will you be? I pray my kids, no matter what conflict arises in relationships and in their own lives, will be part of the solution and not the problem. And they will celebrate their victories.

Lets make our generation one of redemption. And celebration.



Updates on us.

The conversations in our house are pretty entertaining. I wonder sometimes how our children have such wild and insane imaginations. Everything is silly. They believe in everything. Santa is very real. Disney is Mickey's home. Batman lives in Gotham City. Spiderman lives in New York. Tinkerbell really does fly and pixie dust is precious. It also resembles anything close to glitter in my house. I laugh and smile and I foster any imagination in our house... I also think it comes straight from my husband. As we are sitting down the other night, this Tim and I's conversation.

Tim: Do you think we ever were around each other and didn't know it before we really met in college?
Jen: Hmmm..
Tim: Like if we were at the same restaurants, vacations, anything? Anything? You think we were?
Jen: Well, I don't see how we could possibly ever know the answer to that
Tim: Sure we can.
Jen: And how is that babe? How do we possibly figure that out?
Tim: I don't know. Probably in Heaven one day there is like a google. Google in heaven. Where you can look up anything. Hoogle, probably, that's what it will be called.
Jen: I'm done. Just done. You're done. And I'm not responding to you.

Keep in mind sarcasm is our greatest tool in marriage. Winning.
It is in these conversations I realize my children have every shred of imagination from Tim. Completely.

Well, Tim is literally wrapping up his final crazy week for the HVAC peak season, wahoo! The summers are his busiest time and he has been slammed. Good though, right? His job is still so perfect for him. It completely taps into his natural gifting of fixing any and everything, the Commercial industry always presents a new challenge and diagnosis for him to beat, and he still really loves it and has no plans to change. I cannot believe where all we have been to be here, but none of that even matters now. That, or maybe I really did loose all my marbles during that time period.
 So, Tim is going to be a stay at home daddy for a week. My annual big work trip is soon in Las Vegas and I cannot wait! Is there really anything better than switching roles with a stay at home mom?
I think not.
 You think you have it all figured out being daddy.... swooning in after work, throwing a few dishes in the sink, patting the kids on the head and kissing them before bed. Well, I can't wait for these 2 crazies to rock his world for 7 days! SEE YA SUCKER!!!!
Ha! I am kidding. Kind of. Tim's work around the house is pretty clear and evident to even people that have never met us, ha! Tim is a huge hands on dad, he obviously fixes, builds, and handles everything, he loves to cook and many nights jumps in and takes over after I've started, and he knows the ins and outs of our day. I love how in-tune he really is or I would never be able to just up and leave town and have him do EVERYTHING. And while some guys bring home flowers, well, Tim decided to build me an office instead. His love language is provision. And mine is logistics.
Have you ever done this all you mamas out there? It's a role recognition and I think sometimes it helps you put things in perspective. What do you really have time for? What's important and what is not?
The other day I listed out the top things I am doing.
They are:
My relationship with God, making time for Him, hearing from him, and trying to live a life of prayer
Teacher-  homeschooling Mackenzie for Preschool, not just academics, but using opportunities as anything teachable
Trying to be a decent family member and friend
Investing in others and church community
Landlord of Nellie Mae. Checking in. Collecting rent. Communicating with renter. Tim does fix anything that goes wrong over there
Bill Payer- Tim knows everything as well, we have budget and spending meetings, but I do all the logistics of paying the bills. Why? Well, this is where my OCD-ness proves I am the better candidate
Employee- #1 Tuesdays for Farmers Market Baskets pick up at our house #2 Cobb Antique Booth owner- just entails me re-finishing furniture and keeping our booth stocked month to month. (Last month we sold out!) #3 Corporate Event Planner- a few times a year I work events, annually I go for a week.
Landscaper- I am not awesome, but with Tim on commercial rooftops all day, I can't handle him coming home to do yard work. I actually love cutting grass. And it totally counts as exercise.
Housecleaner- PRAISE JESUS, just my own. I am touchy about this. Don't ever tell me if you have a house cleaner. I will secretly hate you. Mainly because I cleaned 13 houses a month for a short period in my life. I went through a strike for a while with my own and am just now circling back around to recover and clean my own.
Exerciser - sadly all that entails is my day to day activity plus walking in the mornings
PTA mom- I know, I know..
Car logistics- I keep up with the records, maintenance, all that jazz. Tim can fix anything that breaks
Pet Owner
Meal Taker
Shopper- for food, clothes, building materials, and all things Amazon Prime

So, it is going to be kind of awesome for me to leave for a week. Can you tell I am excited? Love this man. Love that he would not only consider it, but insist for me to go. The great thing about Tim is that he is a smooth sailor. He won't have emotional outbursts under pressure. He quite possibly may do my job better than me. Either way, I love that the kiddos will have daddy being in their day to day.

Since it has been all about David and going to 1st grade, here are some little fun things I never want to forget about Mackenzie.

Mackenzie Conversations:
Mackenzie- Daddy, when I grow up, I am going to be God.
Tim- No
Mackenzie- Well fine, I'll just dress up like him then.
Tim- NO?
Mackenzie- Well fine, I don't know where to get any God shirts anyways.

This morning. Mackenzie comes walking into our bedroom. Straight faced. Stands at the foot of our bed. She announces she has something very important she needed to let us know.
She can fly.
Then, she turns around, and walks out.

I love car conversations. I have been trying to once a week ask the kids about a scenario that could come up with the adoption of a new brother/sister/whatever may come.
We used the most recent situation we are waiting to hear back about, which is a little boy, who I firmly believe may be David's long lost twin. Seriously, imagine another David. So I posed the question:
Me: So kids, what will happen when you get mad at your new brother or sister one day, lets just call it a brother today, what do you think you will do? We will be his new family and there will be a lot of work to help him adjust to living with our family. You guys will have to learn to work it out with him just like you do with each other...
Mackenzie: Mama, if he ever gets sad. Ever. I will tell him, "Its okay. Don't be sad. We are your family now and you are home."

I'm pretty glad that day I was sitting in the drivers seat because the whole way home I had tears down my cheeks. I feel like this road has been destiny for our family. Bigger than that, God's ultimate Family Plan. In James 1:27 to look after orphans in distress...
I can't tell you how gut wrenching it is right now.
One phone call can give us an answer. A new son.
One phone call can also tell us, You weren't the ones...
We are among multiple families that are being decided for this sweet child. 

Waiting on that news. Envisioning this child you haven't met in your life. In your every day. All I have is a photo. A brief summary.
Falling in love with a child you know very little about. Sounds shocking. Yet, I did it many times. I fell in love with many children. Two I got to meet and call my own.
I feel like my loss has prepared me for the roller coaster, heartache, and the unknown of adoption.
Answers. And lack of answers.
Does my preparation make it easier?
In some cases it makes it harder. We have been on the receiving end of more bad news than good.

Would you pray for this child we are waiting to hear back about?
I have given it to the Lord.
My heart is in the best condition it can be while we wait for a new son. Or go back to the list and wait.

How do you guard your heart fully to protect it and fully live for hope and joy that you may gain a son any day? How do you do that?

You don't my friends, you don't. Our hearts are on the line.

Now how about we end this post a little more cheery?

Tim hung some awesome pendant lights in our fun kitchen. This kitchen makes me feel like having a house party every weekend.

My almost 7 year old doing a front flip off the diving board.
New dining room. To the right is where Tim enclosed a new office. Promise to get pics soon.
Our new pet frog, Cornbread. He sits with us every meal and during homework.
Mackenzie starting gymnastics. Doesn't this photo make her look like we are doing olympic training?
My main man climbing to fix Ken Stanton Musics Air Conditioning! Right next door to my Antique Booth~
Also, since school started, we have found and returned 4 dogs to their homes. I don't know why we find strays. So.... if your dog gets loose in downtown Marietta, it will probably come to my house.
Happy Labor Day weekend friends!
We are off to a Family Canoe trip tomorrow morning (:


Wednesdays Word: 5 Stages of Grief

Glad your back. Actually, glad I'm back. This is good for me.

I finished a journal that I have kept the last couple of years and after forcing myself to go back, I really am trying to pull out some key things that happened. It's hard because it's all so personal and every thing I write hits home pretty hard. It gives "preaching to the choir" a whole new meaning!
Some of my journal makes me laugh because I am completely un-censored in my private writing. I read back when Tim had just started his first job (post career change) doing heating and air, we were renovating our first house, and our children were 3 and 1. He was at the bottom of the bottom in his industry. Our house was 1200 square feet smaller than the old one. A complete wreck.  And I was trying to raise 2 small toddlers in the middle of all of it. And all I journaled that day was.
"We are a mess. This house is a mess. Our children are a mess. And on the bright side? It's only going to get messier."

Well, that's encouraging, huh?! Welcome to my world. I know every marriage book says sarcasm is an enemy, but let me tell you that sarcasm may just be the very thing that has saved our marriage. During these times, we would wake up and at random times chant, "LIVIN THE DREAM!" As walls were falling, a toddler was having a tantrum, or God knows what else would be in store that day for us.

Moving on. I wanted to share today about something that was (and still is) really helpful. I don't know how on God's green Earth I am not on every anxiety and depression medication on the market.  I am not on any prescription drugs (besides thyroid medicine b/c mine decided to quit at age 22).

Now before you think I'm all earthy and crazy and a "Jesus is my seat belt" driver... just know I am not. I am all about people keeping themselves mentally and physically healthy and that may require intervention.

Honestly, I firmly believe that your marriage, friends, community, and family can be the best counselors in the world. They know you. They get you. They see you in and out. They can speak into your life easy. There may only be one thing that Tim and I have done well at, we have played with all cards on the table. I only operate with gut wrenching honesty. And that's a pill to swallow.

Thats my first observation about our journey. We were not alone. Are you?
Find some friends. Talk to some friends you already have. Take it to the next level. You may just be shockingly surprised that YOU may be the tool God was wanting to use to break through someone elses life as well. Almost 9 times out of 10, the person sitting across from you has something to pour out as well. Everyone just needs someone authentic. Who wants to hear. Who responds with something vulnerable as well.

Take a time out. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this one because you are all smart people. But, maybe, just maybe, you need a time out. A time out from what you ask? Well, that is going to be for you to figure out. If you are making a big decision. Going through a really hard time. Going through a loss. Whatever. Take a time out. Maybe from large social settings or Facebook. I know for me, the times after my miscarriages when I felt completely alone and forgotten by God.... would you know I would get online and its like my whole entire "news feed" on facebook was pregnant. Like rolling sonograms on my entire screen. Come on! Take a time out! My best friend and I joke about Facebook life. I am not the same Jennifer that is "Facebook Jennifer". I can't be. Facebook cannot give you the ins and outs of peoples authenticity and struggles. That's why real relationships are very important during every season of life. Because I promise you, if your husband loses his job... Monday morning there will be 25 posts about peoples promotions, raises, and new job titles they all got over the weekend. Take a time out, people. Give yourself a break to gain some perspective.

Identification.  I have always felt if you can put a name to it, call it what it is, and share it, then you have gained power. And freedom. Identifying where you are. What you are feeling. And what you are going to do about it. I found these. The 5 stages of grief. There is nothing magical about it. It is simply words and definitions about stages of grief that I think are healing and helpful. And they were for me.

1. Denial or Shock.  Examples: You may try to say: This didn't happen. It's not a big deal. Nothing is going to change. Thinking those statements as a defense mechanism to avoid any emotions that could be overwhelming to deal with.

2. Anger. We want to find a reason or someone to blame to help cope. You are angry when you are wronged, threatened, or hurt. It isn't fair. As Christians, this is where we can get "stuck" telling God that He could have prevented our loss or situation.

3. Depression. This is when your anger turns inward. You can process this as sadness or you can become hopeless. The sadness is a normal grieving process, but not when you become hopeless. Hopelessness is when the guilt of blaming yourself becomes too much. You go into shut down mode. Close yourself off. You become apathetic. Loss of motivation to do anything.

4. Bargaining. This is our way of trying to control our life and/or God. We may statements to God like, "If you do this.... then I will do this...." We try to understand, explain, or reason out why the loss occurred.

5. Acceptance. I think this is where Christ plays the ultimate role. Accepting the situation. Asking yourself how to move on, live in spite of, remain in hope. We ultimately accept that this world is fallen, broken, and that sin reigns here right now. But in Christ we know this is not our final home. We are going to a place where there is no more sadness. Or loss. We are in need of a Savior not just for eternity, but every single day.

These stages are not even in order. I think you can jump all over them and back and forth. I think that is called Life. There is no check mark and you are done, it is the ultimate healing process and helps you filter out becoming introspective and spiraling downward.  If you do find yourself stuck  in any stage besides acceptance, Lord have mercy give yourself a break and see a pro that can help you. Even for a short time there are some things that can really help you medicinally and through more counseling.

Don't walk alone, go deep with a few. 
Take a time out. 
And find out where you are with your loss. 

Life is not about me. And Life is not about you. And it sure as heck isn't about all our stuff.

We are strangers. Aliens. Walking around on Earth until our day of Glory. If you are in Christ, your heart will never be at home here. If you can accept that and live in spite of that, I believe you will experience true joy.

If we can truly embrace this eternal perspective as Paul writes in 2 Cor 4:17

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Its possible. Definitely a possibility. To get hammered by life, blow after blow, and still have hope. A Spirit that does not waiver or fade. Because after all, it is HE that is in us. And HE is far more greater than what is in the world.

Call it what it is, my friends, and remember to show your cards.


Wednesdays Word

I have had some really great devotions over the past 4 years that I wanted to share. Probably the most recent ones first, because the older ones are going to take more time to mentally go back.  I think sometimes when you are going through some of the hardest stuff, that can be when you hear from God the clearest. I know it isn't always the case, but when you are completely in a broken state, you can read anywhere that is where God likes to make his appearance.

To heal the broken hearted.
To set the captives free.

I have experienced Him a lot in our trials, am grateful for it, and getting to a place where I can share some of my darkest times and devotions in those moments. I am going to try and post every Wednesday of some past devotions. I may not succeed at being regular, but I will try!

One of the verses I share to friends struggling the most is this verse:
Micah 7:8- Do not gloat over me my enemy, though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

Wednesdays Word:
I was reading about Jeremiah one morning and when he said (lamentations 3:18)
"my strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord"

Some days I remember feeling just exhausted by my circumstances. Strength and hope felt impossible.

Later he goes on to v 3: 21-22 and says "This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. Because of the Lords great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail."

That is the part of the verse that I feel like speaks the most. I know the following verse continues with "they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" but during hard seasons I dont feel like I woke up every morning and the feeling of "loss" had gone away. I think during seasons that is true. I also dont think WE are supposed to "feel new" every morning. We may, but we may not. The verse is talking about His Word enduring forever and every morning it is the same. And new. Thats what I think anyway- and have experienced.

But, I like how Jeremiah has to "recall to mind" the Lords great love. To be thankful. To remember how He has been faithful. And to remind yourself of the times when He has been faithful and you have seen Him move. 
Thankfulness and remembering those times will give you the truth you need to get through the tough ones.

This is difficult, but I remember literally walking around with a thankful list. Constantly "recalling to mind" of where God has provided and shown His great love.

Lastly, the segment ends with (verse 24) The Lord is my portion. I will wait for Him.

And, the waiting is the hardest part. Hope deferred makes a heart sick. Waiting for restored hope, waiting for God to restore. Waiting for hope. Just waiting. But, I have seem Him restore hope every. time. 
Thankfulness seems to be the biggest weapon to fight losing hope.

I like this passage, but I think reading it in context of Jeremiahs trail is not what everyone thinks it means.
I pray you would read these verses in a new light and apply them to your situation.
Lamentations 3:18-24
18 So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord."
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, and the bitterness and gall.
 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
 21 Yet I call this to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 
24 I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." 

 I am trying to hit a "reset" button on my life for the fall. I love the fall. Always have. But over the past 4 years, the fall has been a bitter time when I lost the most babies and Tim received bad news from jobs. It is hard not to go back there. As I enter into this fall, I have to "recall to mind" where God has taken us from. Out of the pit of sadness and the stormy seas and put us on dry, safe pastures. And we are dwelling there. I really believe God can make all things new. That is what He is in the business of doing not only for our salvation, but our every need.

I know its from 2011, but the words to this song are so great.


Summer Lovin

Here are our last few glimpses of summer! They are not in order, but hey, I am lucky to even get them on here!
Tim and I got to spend some lake days with each of our families and cousins and it was fun! We both grew up on the lake so we are making sure it is a big part of our kids childhood. If I could just be around water every day..... ahhh.
 Mackenzie and Joshua
Took the kids back to school lunch shopping at Trader Joes! This picture semi communicates the chaos of shopping with little ones. 
Sweet friend hosted a prayer group for all our kiddos that started school together. I can't tell you how those prayers were heard and answered!!

My sweet First Grader. Isn't he sweet in his uniform? I can't tell you how happy this mama is to never have a fight about clothing... they all wear the same thing. And praise the Lord it will be that way for my daughter! He has finished 4 days. Made friends. And loves his teacher.... granted, she was Teacher of the Year and I really would love to just bring her home with me!! Our school feels like home. David fit right in and I can't wait for him to keep developing into who God has made him.
Another sweet friend gave us White Water passes for Friday so we celebrated the mere fact that we made it to school. On Time. Walking. We are not in bus district and the carpool line is backed up to my house pretty much, so we walk :) The kids loved White Water.
My sweet grandma's assisted living place had a party. Mackenzie is always the life of the party somehow. She dances with random people, tells everyone way more information than people need to know about us, and kisses everyone. On the mouth. (Working on that). My grandma was a hoot and it was a fun memory.
I *think* there are 19 great grandchildren on Tims side of the family! We just have SO many cousins we don't know what to do with them all!!! But. We start by having *one* spend the night =) This is the sweetie that slept over and it went awesome!
We even made it to church Sunday morning. Dressed up!
Mackenzie and her bestie having girl time. I asked Mackenzie what "girl time" meant and she quickly responded, "Cupcakes, mom." (Giving me the DUH look) I took a mental note.

Meantime, David ended his summer with his little bestie doing a sports camp. This was able to get out a fraction of the energy this small man has. Whew, outlets for boys.... anyone??
Somehow, these two, will allow their crazy worlds to collide and have brief moments of utter joy that make my heart leap. They will have it out. And then 2 seconds later be laughing and best friends. Can I freeze them like this??
My sweet, sweet nephews. Mackenzie and Joshua have grown into twins. They are crazy the same. I love these 2 little boys so much!!
I am completely aware I need more pics on the house blog, but we are building an office. Walls are now up and we are close to painting and finishing. Finishing. That is a funny word.
Oh Seaside. Possibly my favorite memory of the summer. Tim went "on call" for a week and it is PEAK season for my man. His parents and aunt called last minute and invited us to go to the beach! Tim insisted I go since he wasn't going to be even home... so we did!! We stayed out on the beach the entire day. No exaggeration. They loved every second and never got tired of it. 

Our last night there...

We did summer workbooks a few times a week and I think this really helped us transition back into the school year easier. I'll definitely keep this up!

The kids desperately wanted to have a "Pancake Party." We have had Defacs (Department of Family and Children Services) out here a lot for the adoption process and that is the one thing Mackenzie kept telling them about. One of the Defacs workers asked, "Well what's a pancake party?" To which she replied with no sass at all,  "You know. When your friends come over. For pancakes. And its a party. I want all my friends over for a pancake party." We finally negotiated and a few friends that live near-by came over for the infamous pancake party. My mom read, "If you give a pig a pancake" (my favorite childrens book) and we made TONS of pancakes. It was another fun memory.
Homemade Turkey Sausage- 2 lbs ground turkey, 3/4 t ginger, 1 1/2 t salt, 1 t sage, 1/4 t cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 t black pepper, 1 T syrup.  Double the seasonings. Make patties the night before. Cook on griddle in the morning. 
Davids new obsession is 4 wheelers. He is lucky my dad and our "uncle mike" both have one!
Mackenzie wins the colorful award with not only how she dresses, but everything she says.
And they are still wishing. Asking. And hoping for a new sibling to join our family.

So far in our adoption journey, we have turned one situation down. Our case worker even gave us her gut instinct that this was not our child. We felt it. And knew it. But... it was hard to say the words, "no."
That was hard. We were put in for another child and are awaiting the outcome of that... along with the fact I think our homestudy is widespread through the state offices. 
So. Waiting. What is funny is that I feel like our whole life journey has been on waiting. Waiting for God to show up. To answer . 
I have realized that waiting is a sign of Hope. So all is not lost when you are waiting. If all was lost, there would be no hope, but despair. 
If you are waiting on an answer, then you have hope that it will be answered. And faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.
I feel so grateful for our adoption journey this far. It has been an intimate, healing, miraculous journey Tim and I have gotten to share together. So special. Just as there is something special about pregnancy and your bio kids, there is a whole world and journey I have walked in now and I can't ever turn back.  And so many opportunities for the gospel to bleed into our very souls. We are adopted as Sons of God. Jesus takes us in just as we are. And loves us like his own. I truly pray God answers this prayer and chooses to grow our family this way. 

I am constantly in awe of life and the cycles of happiness, disappointment, hardship, joy, new beginnings, endings, and relationships. You really never know the turn of events that can happen in one day. Nothing specific per say, but I have just been analyzing seasons of my life and marriage, being a parent, family, and friendships. I am always consistently brought back to one main thing. 

This world is not our home. But we live like its all we got.
This world is full of sin. Yet we act shocked when we hear acts of sin. 
People will disappoint us. And we are disappointments. Again, we act shocked when we are disappointed by another sinful human.
That is why we have a Savior. We look to Him last a lot.
Whom we deeply need every day. 
Because without him we wither. We fall away. We are not connected to the vine.
Through Him we can live, move, and have our being.
This world will pass away and everything in it.
Why do we try to hard to make heaven on Earth?

Through our miscarriages, job loss, house renovations, moving, broken family, you. name. it. Feel like at times we've hit almost every bump in the road. And then sometimes, if the road is calm, we detour to go off-roading for fun. We are sick people.

But. Do you know what is glorious? Having situations that make your need for a Savior GREAT. We have desperately needed Him along our journey and man oh man has He shown His face. 
Strength. Endurance. Grace. Hope. Love. Guidance. Wisdom. 

Would we have run so hard after Him if our life was a chocolate cake? Maybe. But, our life is not chocolate cake and I am completely aware that I am nothing without Christ. I can't mother. I can't love as a wife. I can function as any sort of family member. When I am outside of walking with Him, I am negative. Mean. Sarcastic. I despair. I play the pity card. No win situation.

God is changing me and I am asking Him to fill the holes of who I am. I won't ever be perfect. I will disappoint others. But, how wonderful. We can't live up to anyones standards and no one can live up to ours. Our who need goes back to Christ for whole-ness. Grace. And to be grace to others. Even when they don't deserve it. Because Grace is getting what you don't deserve. 

Are we open to hurt to show us the holes in who we are? Knowing that God will fill them? Or do protect ourselves from hurt? Do we ask hard questions about ourselves and ask others to speak into our sin? Or do we shut ourselves off from feeling any hurt? Afraid of something bad happening? I am right back in the scary boat because I feel like my heart is wide open for the chance of hurt through adopting a foster child. Its a pretty scary place to be. 

Its a beautiful life knowing the end. God wins. And love conquers all. 

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