Thursday, January 29, 2015

this is what you get . . .

. . . when two 4-yr-old punkins decide to make Mommy into a queen! (Note the crown, barrettes, & blanket cape.)

Not sure what kind of homeschool curriculum this might fit into...Life skills? Anatomy? I mean, we did have a discussion about tear ducts when the makeup applicators were being poked curiously in that direction.


And of course, we worked on selfies.


Any more, that's a thing, right? Like, you gotta be proficient in selfies.


Oh, whatever. Having fun with my girls & not taking ourselves too seriously.  I'd say it counts for something! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

broken hallelujah

I think I've shared before that Joe speaks around the country at conferences and for school districts. He's been doing this for quite a few years and has always given out evaluation sheets in order to receive constructive feedback.  I am always amazed at how my husband touches people, and it is reflected in very encouraging ways in the evaluations.  But...there's always one or two.  Those one or two that are not even critical in a constructive way, but in a "this-was-a-stupid-waste-of-my-time-you-have-no-idea-what-you're-talking-about" way.  And sadly, those are the ones that will stick.  There will be anywhere from 100-1000 evaluations from the day, but those one or two will sting.  Why? Not because my husband has a hurt ego or doesn't welcome constructive feedback, but because his intention is to be an encouragement to others in an area he is passionate about (working with wounded children).  He is one of the most humble human beings I know, which is the whole reason he gives evaluation sheets.  He seeks to keep growing and doing what he does the best he can.

Sadly, this happens in so many areas of life and to be completely, brutally honest...Christians can be the worst offenders.  I just recently began homeschooling our two youngest daughters.  I thought it might be a good idea to join a few FB homeschooling groups.  I thought wrong.  I found myself feeling completely, utterly inadequate based on the strong opinions of what homeschooling a child should look like.  I didn't feel encouraged; I felt less than and, well, stupid.

Shall we touch on the Mommy wars?  Okay, no, moving on...

Lately, I've also seen several debate-type articles about worship music.  The lyrics don't have enough depth, Jesus is inferred instead of directly named, the lyrics are too simplistic...and on it goes.  My heart just breaks at this.  Do the critics stop to think about the intention of the artist? The artist that is a flawed human being just like you & me but also took the time to pen a song of praise? And so what if it is simplistic...sometimes, I NEED that.  But beyond the artist, what about the person that has been touched by this music? Are they to feel less than? Stupid? Not good enough, holy enough, or whatever enough?

These are but a few examples of where I think we are just getting it wrong with our opinions & attitudes. We talk about the church being an open, welcoming place, BUT some are getting caught up in achieving a level of perfection.  And when we do that, we are turning people away because all they see is division and judgment...Even if it's just one or two, those are the one or two that will be remembered. People that are hurting, insecure, confused...they don't want a picture of perfection. Perfection isn't real, and it certainly isn't attainable.  As I seek to grow in my faith, I want to engage with people that know what the ditch looks like from the bottom, not from those standing at the top looking down, maybe even living like they've never set foot in the ditch at all. The ditch tends to be the place where Jesus dwells, being an encouragement to make it out the other side. I don't believe for one second He stands at the top of the ditch being critical and telling you that your feeble prayers, simplistic worship, and faith the size of a mustard seed are not good enough. That your attempts to parent are falling short. That you're good-intentioned efforts to (fill in the blank) are silly and a waste of time.

No.  Jesus loves you where you are.  That is the truth I have to remind myself of every day as I navigate this crazy stuff of life.  There are days I feel like I get some things right, but there are more days I'm thankful, so thankful for grace. And that is the truth I want to encourage you with.  If the intention of your heart is to honor God in your life and know Him, don't let anyone tell you it's not good enough.  Find the people that will remind you that you are enough, imperfections and all, and beautiful friend, BE the person that encourages others in their steps minus any measuring sticks.

I also know that I know that I know that He works for good in all things, even my broken hallelujah.

And a broken hallelujah is better than no hallelujah.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!

I have spent the last couple of days getting caught up posting on the blog. Thankfully, there's a feature that enables me to sneak a couple of posts in where they belong (as in, I had not yet posted pictures from a beautiful walk in the woods from October!!).  This blog serves as a sort of memory book for me since otherwise things get piled into a box in my closet.

I really have no regrets, though.  I spent much time trying to savor this Christmas season. I purposely got up early to enjoy sitting by the light of the Christmas tree, being reminded of the true Light of this world.  It was a different Christmas...the first without my beautiful grandparents. For as many years as I can remember, I have set up Santa's workshop at their house. Sure, it made keeping things hidden easier, but even more wonderful was the time spent at my grandparents' home.  This year, I instead set up shop at my Aunt & Uncle's home, & it was wonderful to get to spend time with them. It was a good reminder that the best way to honor old traditions when they are no longer possible is to create new ones inspired by the old.

Kaelee took Kaya to see her first Nutcracker performance.  I love that my older children spend special time with their younger siblings.


Trash the Kitchen, 2014 Edition (aka frosting the cutouts!)








This is the best gift...a full house....


...and all of our children in one place.


The obligatory Christmas morning picture on the steps had to be relocated to the basement stairs this year to fit everyone.  How fun is it that they ALL slept in the basement together to keep up with tradition since none of the bedrooms would accommodate everyone?!


It's so fun to watch the kids play together with new toys.


This year we avoided most electronics & went for interactive toys.


Grandma blessed everyone with matching aprons.


These two were especially thrilled because they love helping in the kitchen.


Every year since our first visit to the zoo lights six years ago we say we're going to go again, but it just doesn't happen for one reason or another.  This year, we had planned to go once Kearsten arrived home only to have to cancel the plans due to the flu.  Instead of giving up the plan altogether, we went after Christmas on New Year's Eve Eve.  I'm so glad we did!!







Big brothers really are the best!




For New Year's Eve, Kaelee bought the kids all kinds of fun stuff to get into the spirit of things.






They were so glad when Kaelee finally returned from her dinner date to spend the evening ringing in the new year.


Somehow, Kendi got Daddy to sport some sparkles & a crown.


Getting ready for the new year was fun, but this family was super-stoked for New Year's Day & the big game...We are Buckeyes through & through!!




Family Time = Crazy Times = The Best of Times!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

making some decisions & changes

Sorry for the quiet again.  Lots of things happening around here since my last post about the hard & the beautiful stuff.


We've made some decisions about some changes we are making as a family.  It's nothing I ever thought I could or would do, but we are taking the plunge into homeschooling our 2 littlest punkins.


I am beyond words at how supportive Kemeri's school has been of our decision. They have truly invested themselves in understanding not just her educational needs, but her emotional ones as well.  She will continue to receive her therapies, but now they will come to our home.


And I will do my best to continue the good work they've been doing to help her catch up while also pouring all I have into this little one's heart to help her understand that family is forever.



We have already started converting the "green room" (it used to be painted green...it now has green furniture, so it's still considered the green room) into a place that houses some basic preschool materials.  I am so thankful for all of the online resources, other homeschooling moms, & especially my oldest daughters, who are both teachers, for inspiration.



We decided that both girls would benefit from being at home, & Kendi has loved it.  Kemeri has had a trial run since we've battled some illness, but as of today, we are official (we had an IEP meeting at her school & discussed the new arrangements).


Truth be told, I'm a little nervous.  Those doubts of "what if I'm horrible at this?" can so easily creep in.  But then I remind myself that motherhood has taken me out of my comfort zone time & again as I have sought to do things in each of my children's best interest.  Right now, we believe it is in these sweet girls' best interest to work on establishing confidence in the fact they are an amazingly special part of our family.  We pray that they find strength in that knowledge that inspires them to spread their wings & follow their dreams as they grow.

Monday, December 1, 2014

hunting for the perfect tree

It's always a favorite...the trip to the Christmas tree farm.  This year, we ventured to a different place where every tree is the same price.  We found ourselves underestimating the size of trees out in the field one too many times, which is a bit of a problem when trees are priced by the foot.






I'm pretty sure we looked at every single tree at least twice.  It was a pretty mild day, so I think we were just enjoying being outside.


Somehow, Daddy has discovered the "selfie".




Kendi was fascinated by trees just her size.


I had to convince the people that this would not fit in the living room.  Like I said, we are notorious for underestimating.


I told you, he's all about the selfie.




We finally agreed on one!  We were walking in circles for so long that Kyler had to leave for work. This was still going to be too tall for our 8-foot ceilings, but I couldn't convince anyone of this.




Kendi was insistent on helping Daddy.  Sure enough, this beauty was not fitting in Dad's trunk, so we had to recruit Kam & Dante to take Dante's car (which has a roof rack) to go get the tree.  I must confess that I found this scene hilarious.  I'm not sure the picture does the ridiculousness of this justice! 


I was ready with my measuring tape, & sure enough, it was a 9-footer.  Kam & I got down to the business of making adjustments so we could get the tree in the house.



Gus thinks he's helping.

Somehow, I managed to not take a picture of the tree until after Santa had come, but it was a beautiful part of our home for Christmas.