Friday, April 27, 2012

in case you were wondering...

So if you want to know what happens with this cute little thing:
 decides to eat this:
she ends up screaming with tongue out and then covers my pretty this:

along with herself, my bathroom rug, and floor with a lot of puke.  And btw, never google vomit thinking you may get a usable pic for your blog.  Nasty.

Then, lest you think this story is over, it's not.  If you begin to clean up said nastiness and leave half-naked unattended child near one of your daily happies that happens to be too close to the counter edge such as this:
 then you get the added bonus of cleaning up spilled soda from your child, your counters, and your kitchen floors.  And then you are left with this:
and this: 
 Good thing she is still cute, even as she unsnaps her diaper.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

embrace the camera: PROM night!

Senior Prom: 2012
So my small group of Potter's House gals are seniors.  We began together when they were in 8th grade & have seriously come a very.long.way.  I am so very proud of the beautiful, godly women they have become. 

 Cyrenthia: full of life and passion

 Kilsha: full of honesty and desire
 Marissa: full of genuineness and kindness
 Jasmine: full of dedication and inquisitiveness

As an added bonus:  my little lovies

tried to get Anna to participate in this but, obviously, she wasn't up for cooperating

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

why we love our backyard!

 You can't really tell from this picture but we have a great long deck & yes, that is my toothbrush.  lovely.
 Simeon loves to ride his bike.  Or motorcycle as he calls it.  And now likes to practice taking his hands off.
 He goes super fast & yes, does so without training wheels.  3 years old.  He's quite impressive!
 Madeline is our adventurer.  She mastered the tire swing in a day & roams all over the yard creating games.
These two love to be goofy!
 And Simeon loves to mimic whatever Madeline is doing.  Hence, tongue out.
 Seriously this is not posed.  He is just naturally adorable.
 Anna is trying more and more to do what the big kids do and she only fell off once!  Success.
 These 3 make me insanely happy.
And to end, a little more cutenss from Anna.  Oh my I love this girl.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

words of life: wisdom

James 3:13-17
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Wisdom comes from a MIND disciplined to stay on the character of God.  Arrogance prevents me from submitting myself (my fears, insecurities, anxieties & struggles) to God's wisdom and denies His Sovereignty, power, and true promises from working in my life.  This is following earthly wisdom and not heavenly.  So many (if not all) of my struggles originate in not believing God is who He says He is and His promises to me are true.  When I stumble into earthly wisdom directing me I fall into the traps of selfishness, fear, envy, anxiety, and so much more.  In doing so, I am saying God is not enough, His grace is not sufficient for me, His truths do not remain true for me.  I see the hope in the Scripture above...remove myself and welcome in peace that reaps a harvest of righteousness.  That is what I really want.  I life that humbly walks in the wisdom of God, discarding what the world and others throw at me, say about me, make me feel about myself, and the lies I fall into believing about myself.  I hate those things and when I catch myself going there I desperately want to cling to the wisdom of God that leads me only toward more of Him and less of me.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

happy monday

Things I am liking right now:
1. Sunshine & a B.I.G. backyard...we had no idea how great our yard would be when we bought this house but we sure are thankful for it!

2. Our crazy community group...18 adults, 26 kiddos (present) and a lot of fun!  These families make our family so much better.  Love living life with them.

3. Tim Keller's book, The Meaning of Marriage.  Andrew & I set a goal once upon a time of reading a marriage book together every year.  We haven't pretty much not done good at this but we are enjoying reading this one together now.

4. Fayetteville Public outing, free, and educational.  Win win win.

5. Rotini pasta...all my kiddos are slightly in love with this pasta currently.  So for $1 I can feed them all lunch and dinner and then some.

So there ya go.  Welcome to my Monday randomness.  Happy day to you all!

Friday, April 20, 2012

long nights won't last forever

Tonight Ren & I spent a few minutes talking about furniture and rearranging and closet cleaning in preparation for the arrival of baby Elijah in about 11 weeks. She is giddy with beautiful sweet love for her baby boy and I am thrilled to have them in my home. She spoke: Me and Elijah are gonna have so much fun in here! I mean, I know I'll be tired but long nights won't last forever.

My babies are 4 1/2, 3 1/2, and 21 months. It almost hurts to write because I long to stretch out their young little lives and hold onto every single second with them. And the longer I mama, the more I ache for that. When Madeline was a baby I think I rushed her. I looked forward to the next milestone, next word, next thing she would learn. And in doing so I think I missed too much of the now with her. I am sorry for that. I am pretty sure she is no worse off for it but I aim now to do it better. When Simeon & Anna came along so quickly I was forced into slowness. And the slowness became more and more what I wanted and what I took so much joy in. Many would look at Anna and think she was younger than almost 2. I believe that is all my doing. You see, I baby her just a teeny tiny bit. And I love it.

I'm certain I sleep more consecutively at night than I did in my nursing baby days. But I am also certain I go to bed late, get up early, and have one-two children in my room at some point at least 5 nights a week. There is just so much to do in order to savor my moments within my days with each of my kiddos. Right now, after putting all my babies to sleep, my dishwasher is running, my washer is running, diapers just got folded, another load awaits folding, I made a grocery list, and on any given night 10ish things could be added or taken away from this list. This is not a brag, I know you other mama's do the same. It is so often exhausting...mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. But I am pushed more and more to slow down, enjoy, and make the most of what God has given me.

So my long nights may not last forever, but for now, I will be thankful for each one.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

embrace the camera: Simeon style

Trying out a link-up with a gal's blog I enjoy. Embracing my camera with Simeon...Ethiopia dinner night! Note his jersey underneath his outfit. He was kind enough to leave it on for some pics but quickly went back to "big shorts" and his jersey because that is basically all he will wear! Good thing he's a cutie.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

children of Light

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

We went on a hike with the whole crew on Good Friday. Hike being used very loosely here but hey, we were outdoors, we walked, there were trees. Hike.
We spent the weeks ahead of Easter reading through the same several stories in our Jesus Storybook Bible and it was incredible to watch our kids be interested, ask questions, and begin to understand the truths of Scripture and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
A lot of questions got asked, but specifically, for reasons I'm not sure about, they were very interested in Satan and why he chose to leave God, and where did he come from, and even, does Jesus love him?
I could say we perfectly answered every question in a manner that was 100% understandable to an 18, 4, 3, and 1 year old but clearly, that would be a slight lie. But I did love love love working through these conversations and questions as a family. We talked lots, prayed, sang, and hopefully, began establishing patterns in our family in which we seek Jesus together. Pursuing goodness, righteousness, and truth and trying to learn daily what is pleasing to the Lord.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

words of life

Today, I stood in the shower for approximately 20 long minutes. My kiddos were at my mil's and my house was very quiet. My head however, was very not quiet. My head felt like a roller coaster of thoughts...what should I do for dinner...should I wash my hair...should I spend money on potting plants I will probably kill...I need to do my BSF...I can't figure out why I am feeling a bit discouraged lately...where did I put all our swim I being a good mama to Madeline when she cries over every little I a good can I pray better for my family. And on and on and on.

After a few minutes of this I found myself spiraling and realized, I have no idea which of these thoughts are from God and which are not. I just keep thinking. I start a thought and follow a train out to who knows where and I don't at all think about where these thoughts are originating or who (i.e.Satan) is driving me from thought to thought and into sin.

Often, my thoughts, when unchecked, are driven by my fears and anxieties. My insecurities and feelings of always falling short of some mark (parenting, being a wife, being a good friend, having good friends, being well-liked, and so on). I hate where these unchecked thoughts often lead me and yet I never really stop to ask, is God pushing these thoughts? Am I pursuing Him through these thoughts? I know I can and should think about things that convict and reveal sin but I need to be more aware and careful of letting Christ control my mind. I've been reading James this last week and one thing God has been teaching me is that His motives and intent behind everything He teaches me is for my good and His glory. On the other hand, the motives and intent of the temptings of Satan in my life are always always for my destruction and never for the glory of God. This has been a huge reminder to me and great challenge especially as I deal with my specific bents towards sin and the struggles that just seem to never want to go away in my life.

Okay, in light of all that, and as I am reminded to see what is of God and what is not, He is teaching me more and more that drawing close to His word is when I know best who He is which is truly the only way I can differentiate His voice from Satan's deceit and those are the times I eagerly desire to die to myself and my flesh and refuse to let sin overcome me and instead be overcome by my freedom through Christ and my identity in Him alone.

Longest. Sentence. Ever.

I really need His words of life. I really want to be reading and resting in them daily. I really fall short in this area. But I am trying. So, here are some words of life that God has been working in me over the last few months.

"And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:10-11

As we move forward with adoption, but I really mean this as we move forward just in general in following the Lord's will for our lives, I pray that it will be true of me that at the end of my days I will have spent myself completely and been guided always by the Lord.

What words of life is He working in you right now?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

happy surprise for me

In a very well-timed and greatly needed moment, Andrew planned a little 24 hour getaway for us Friday night! He actually planned it weeks ahead and it was so perfect how it worked out in a time when we really needed some time alone to process some stuff, pray, and just generally get some SLEEP! We headed out to some friend's cottage about an hour away and as soon as we got there we decided to take a nap! We passed out for 2 hours and I'm pretty sure I can't remember the last time I did that. It was fabulous. We slept, walked, talked, made dinner, read, watched a movie, slept in, prayed, talked some more, relaxed and loved every minute.

my happy views

Sunday, April 8, 2012

a little brill addition :)

About 9 months ago, with a 3 1/2 year old, a 2 1/2 year old, and a just turned 1 year old, Andrew & I came together and wondered out loud, what is God prepping us for? We both had this gnawing feeling in our spirits that God was beginning a new push, a new something. We just had no idea what. We prayed and talked...moving? more kids? We were truly at a loss but we could not shake the knowledge and experience that God was stirring in us and reminding us all over again through Scripture that we would rather spend all of ourselves for the sake of knowing and following Him than live safe & comfortable lives. So we talked and prayed and asked God to keep our hearts always bent towards seeking, hearing, and obeying wherever He led. I think we were quite convinced that was all the stirring was for, a reminder. And then came this.

I went to an informational meeting for 99balloons. We were already fairly well acquainted with the work they do because we are friends with the couple who began it so honestly I went to support them and see more of their hearts and passions in action. The meeting was overall about working with special needs children, locally and internationally, and at the end I grabbed a little prayer card for a boy who lived in the orphanage they worked with in Ukraine.

Let me say, I did not go home flashing this card saying to Andrew “Let’s adopt him!” But, I will also say, (and if you know me this is no surprise), my heart got quickly attached to him! His name was Sergei and he looked to be about 2. I told Andrew about the meeting and we put his card up on our fridge and began praying for him. Praying especially that God would place him in a family. For about a month we prayed for him and one night, as we were praying, I gave Andrew a look and I think he knew what was coming. Finally, I asked it: are we his family? I knew this was a HUGE thing for me to say out loud. We hadn’t really considered anything like this. We both knew God would need to move some mountains for us to know this was His path for us. We talked some and prayed and then quietly let it go for us to both independently process and pray about. I knew I loved this little boy and I knew I would welcome him into our home as soon as God gave us the go. So at this point, my heart was gone. Then about 2 weeks later, again, talking in bed, Andrew said he believed God’s plan for us was to pursue Sergei. I was s.h.o.c.k.e.d. Beyond shocked. We had such a sweet time talking about how God had given him confirmation through Scripture and prayer and we knew for certain we would pursue this little guy.

At this point, we had told no one we were considering this because it happened so fast. We called our friends and told them we needed to talk. I laugh looking back because they had no idea what was coming either! And they were so excited to hear our news (they were in the midst of trying to bring their daughter home from the same place)! We talked about next steps, getting more information on him, and tons of other things. It was such a fun and joyful time. Over the next few days we began getting pictures, video, and information on him from the therapy team that travels there every year. One of the therapists mentioned a binder with more information on him and said that it was with another gal who was out of the office. So we waited, and continued to pray. I knew in my head there were lots of reasons why this might not turn out the way we thought but still, you don’t see it coming when your heart is sitting with a boy who needs a family thousands of miles away. About 5 days into us seeking information on how to pursue him I got a very hard phone call from my friend. The therapist had gotten back to her and Sergei had already been adopted. I was both heartbroken and joyful. This is what we had been praying for him, to have a family. We thought it would be us, but clearly God knew. He had actually been adopted months prior to us even getting his card. Sadness and confusion set in and we cried and prayed in silence for months. I asked lots of times, what was the point God? We know it was You who moved us to seeking him, yet all along You knew how it would end. There is so much more I could say here about what God taught us about Himself, how He strengthened our marriage, deepened our prayers, and pushed us to complete faith and trust in Him. However, our story continues.

We decided to continue praying and processing but to not really talk about ‘what next’ kind of things until after the new year. Months came and went with no big anything from the Lord and then in January we started asking again, what do you think we should do in light of all God has brought us through and taught us in all this? My answer: let’s pursue special needs adoption. This is surely what God has for us. Andrew’s answer: I’m not sure. Perhaps special needs adoption, perhaps nothing. Yikes...those are two different pages. I am more of a it’s a yes unless He tells us no kind of gal and Andrew is more of a it’s a no until God tells us yes kind of guy. Thankfully, we knew that God’s plan was either going to be a YES to both of us or a NO to both of us. So we began talking daily about this, seeking God through Scripture, we shared with some friends and asked for pray and their thoughts. We tried hard to believe and live out the belief that God’s plan for our family was on the same page and we would find it when we sought Him out. I felt great confidence in adoption being what God wanted for us but I never ever wanted to “convince” Andrew or drag him along. So we waited. And waited. And I may have broken down several times along the way but we kept trusting and seeking. I began writing down Scriptures God had been taking me to and praying them for myself and our family. Andrew also was seeking God in several specific ways for our answer and he had the added job of trying to protect my heart and guide me well for whatever the answer might be.

In March I went to Guatemala with Potter’s House and kind of went into the trip discouraged and wondering where God was. I knew He cared and loved and all the other right things to say here but I just felt very alone and confused. That week I read through several Psalms and this is what God showed me,

“May he grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.” Psalm 20:4-5

“How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because of your victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have held back nothing that he requested...You have given him the joy of being in your presence.” Psalm 21:1-2, 6

“Surely goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them His way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep His covenant and obey His decrees. Friendship with the Lord is reserved for those who fear Him. With them He shares the secrets of His covenant.” Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14

“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming!” Psalm 27:8

“The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea. The God of glory thunders. The Lord thunders over the might sea. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” Psalm 29:3-4

God had not forgotten me or hidden from me. He was there. He was with me. He desires to pursue me and talk with me. His voice thunders with majesty and He will fulfill His purposes. This was not a, “God will give you what you want” moment. This was a God is with you, He is faithful, He is working for His purposes to become our desires, and He will be victorious and glorified. This was some much needed peace and encouragement for me!

When I got home I knew we would soon talk about adoption stuff again and I was content to rest and share with Andrew the comfort I’d gotten from God the past week. I was mostly expecting Andrew to say he had been praying still and share some things God was teaching him, too. So when he said he wanted to talk I kind of pushed him off a bit until later. Laying in bed that night, he said, I think this is what God has for us. I sat straight up and asked, are you saying what I think you are saying?!?! He laughed at me a little and said YES! I broke out into tears and hugging and then slightly attacked him to tell me with every detail and as quickly as possible how this had come about for him. Bearing with all my interruptions with questions, tears, and more hugs, he told me how God had brought him to adoption being what was right for our family. His story is long, and it is his, but it is a beautiful picture of how God loves us and teaches us in the ways that fit how He made us in order to draw us to Him and give us the desire to obey Him. I am so thankful for my husband and how he seeks Jesus and guides our family along the way.

So, long story still very long, we are so unbelievably excited to say that we are adopting! Big, giant, YEA! We are pursuing special needs adoption from Ukraine and are currently praying about a specific little girl. As soon as we know more, I will definitely share! As for now, we would love your prayers for us as we begin this journey. We are so humbled to be a part of how God takes care of His children, one still in Ukraine, and us over here.

You’ve almost made it to the end...way to go! Just in case you were wondering about Sergei...

Through a little internet blog stalking I quickly found Sergei and his new family. They are a precious, Christ-centered family and his name is now Michael. I have since contacted his mama and I am so thankful I did. She has encouraged me greatly and prays for our family, as we also continue to pray for hers. What a crazy way that God works! Another crazy thing God did, while the Mooney’s were in Ukraine waiting to bring Lena home they got an email from a family who found out they were adopting Lena and said they had been praying specifically for Lena and her family. That family is the same one that adopted Michael. Our prayers are literally coming full circle for each other!

Lastly, again, I just need to say, YEA! We are so stinkin' excited and joyful and eager to bring our little gal home! Psalm 68:6, "God sets the lonely in families." So thankful He set me in my family and that He continues to add as He has planned! I sang this song at BSF this week and I couldn't have agreed more.

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.