Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2020 SO FAR

So far, 2020 has been a doozy.  Christmas brought a lot of good and hard, and we definitely came into the new year still recovering.  We rang it in with dear friends, and I must say, I do not know what we would do without our people.  It feels that they are often what God uses to keep us propped up, and I'm always so grateful for them.

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Also, can we believe it is 2020???  No, I cannot.  I originally started this blog in 2007, which was now a full 13 years ago.  In most ways, it does feel that long ago, because, hello - a lot has happened.  But, in other ways, wasn't it just 2010?  I digress.  This is what I've been up to so far in 2020.

- I've been organizing photos a lot.  It is a sort of coping mechanism, and the only thing in my life that I have managed to stay on top of for years.  So, I sort and keep putting photos into albums.  It's also a great way to re-live and be grateful for sweet moments and trips.

- I've been grieving.  We got some hard news last week, and I am trying to make sense of it and let God work his peace in my heart.  This means I have cried a lot and also been angry.  What a way to start the year.

- I've been researching skincare and have adopted a 10 step Korean skincare routine, inspired by Jamie B. Golden.  Also - why is my last name not Golden?  Some things in life are unfair.  Back to skincare.  I turn 39 in a few months, and I have to say, I like most things about aging.  But I do not like it when my skin keeps changing, and I would like to do my part to keep it as nice as possible.  I fully cleaned out my bathroom drawers and realized that I had many of the steps already and only needed to purchase a couple of things.  And now I warn John every time I come into the living room wearing a face mask, because he is always so startled by them.

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- I've been helping the girls with their Science Fair projects.  If doing one is bad, doing two is definitely worse.  However, I have learned a few things along the way, so I now have a better understanding of what it takes to get from Point A to Point B.  And, we finished them this weekend!  ðŸ™ŒðŸŧ

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- I've been keeping a Gratitude Journal.  This is due to Laura Kelly of PitterPatter Art, who I got to know and love at Camp Create.  You can get all the details on the highlights of her Instagram Stories, and I went all in with the Sprocket Printer and Moleskine.  So far, I am really loving it.  I didn't know how much I would need gratitude this year when I started it, but I can see the Lord's provision in guiding me in this direction.  Every day, I print out a mini-picture and write out the things I'm grateful for that day.  Nothing revolutionary, but even as I make a habit of it, I can see my thoughts being trained in that direction, which is really helpful.

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- I also started a Chronological Bible Reading Plan in conjunction with several friends.  Having discipline in anything is not really my strong suit, so I am hoping this is another practice I can keep up daily.  It helps having friends do it as well, as with all things in life.

- I've been on social media less, and this has been a long time coming.  I had been addicted to my phone, specifically to Instagram, and the easy, mindless escape that scrolling and swiping provides.  It also endlessly provided me with shopping options - just Swipe Up! 😎  In an attempt to take back my time and be able to complete my own thoughts, I took a few days completely off, and I intend to take more regular breaks to get some air and keep it in its proper place in my life.  I love being able to connect with people, but I do not like how distracting it had become for me.

- I've been working on our 2020 schedule.  There are a lot of moving parts in our life, and sometimes, I have to wrestle with our calendar a bit to make it all work.

I have never liked New Year Resolutions, because it "feels" cliche to me, and I want to "feel" like I am already doing awesome at everything. 😆  Obviously, I'm not.  And the New Year is as good a time as any to try out some new habits that will pay dividends in my life.

Hope you're able to start your roaring 20s with hope and peace as you move forward.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

LILY IS 11

And before we realized it would even be possible, we have an 11 year old in the house!

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Lily is expressive and quirky and prefers to go by the moniker of "Waffle Fry." 😆😂ðŸĪŠ

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We continue to be amazed by the person that Lily is becoming.  She is sensitive and kind and helpful.  If you need a girl to plan out something and trouble-shoot what might go wrong, she's your gal.  She is witty, and you never know what one-liner she's going to shoot about whatever situation we're in.

She LOVES to travel, enjoys playing the piano and is definitely a Carb-ivore.  Lily is a fantastic big sister and helps with homework and freely gives out hugs.  Legos are still a passion for her, and she can spend hours in our Lego room arranging and building and re-arranging.  She loves Jesus and learning more about him, and I am always amazed at the ways her faith is deepening.  She wants to wear t-shirts and sweatpants all the time on repeat, and I have to force her to let me wash the clothes she wants to wear daily.  Also, the pony-tail is her signature hair style.

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Last night, we celebrated her birthday at one of her favorite restaurants, the Marketplace Grill in Conway.  We have a Waffle Fry party in the works, but I will say, a birthday the week after New Year's is hard to get together in a timely way. 😎 It'll be a few more weeks away.

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John and I took her lunch today where she requested large Waffle Fries.  Obviously.  She is our very favorite oldest daughter, and I'm so thankful for the years we've had with her.

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Happy 11!

Past birthday posts here:
{3rd Birthday} {4th Birthday} {5th Birthday} {6th Birthday}
{7th Birthday} {8th Birthday} {9th Birthday} {10th Birthday}

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: A LOOK BACK

Today is the end of 2019, and I'm here to recap what it brought the Spenst family, month by month.  As I look back, it was a good one, though there were some very hard times as well.  I do love the people that I do life with, and I'm thankful.

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JANUARY:

Lily turned 10, and we took her to Disney World to celebrate.

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We finalized the details of our kitchen remodel, which we have LOVED getting to enjoy this year.

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I also shared about how I was struggling with anger, and it's funny, because I wrote that I wouldn't remember it unless I wrote it down.  For a host of reasons and work, my anger has lessened as the year has gone on, and I really had forgotten it.  Glad I wrote it down. ðŸĪŠ

FEBRUARY:

According to the blog, it looks like we only traveled to California in February.  We did visit Disneyland, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara, which were all pretty great.

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What I remember most about February (besides the travel) is that at CFA Next, we made a commitment to get more sleep for the rest of the year, and this has paid off in spades.  It really has made a huge difference in the quality of our lives.  Also in Feb, the twins and I got the flu.  We have already had flu shots this winter.

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MARCH:

I turned 38, and we hit up Wye Mountain for the Daffodils again.

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We also did a quick family trip to NW Arkansas for Spring Break.

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APRIL:

We lost Scott Clark at the beginning of April, which I still cannot believe happened.  He was like an uncle to me, and he helped launch John and I into CFA.  It was so fast, and the grief will still hit at weird times.  Someone sent me a photo of he and I after he was gone that I didn't have, and it dawned on me again what treasures photographs really can be when they remind of us of someone we cherished.

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John and I celebrated 14 years of marriage with an anniversary trip to Dallas with our BFFs.

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William and Violet turned 6, and we had a donut party to celebrate immediately after William was released from the hospital after an extreme asthma episode.  Nothing is ever dull here.

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MAY:

Basically, May was crazy with all the things that come with having four kids in school and activities. And we kicked off the summer with friends.

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JUNE:

We did a lot of trips this summer, especially with other families.  We had a blast in Broken Bow with the Claus family.

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Our annual D-Group Lake Day was really special.

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We also moved Lily and Bella downstairs in our house with a newly decorated bedroom.  (It rarely looks as neat as pictured.)

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JULY:

I spent a lot of time in Wichita this summer, which included throwing a Squirrel Party with my family.

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We went on our first camping trip since being a family of six with some dear friends.

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I also realized that we are living in the "Good Ole Days," and we worked hard to spend one on one time with kiddos.

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AUGUST:

We went to Kanakuk Family Kamp with a lot of my family for the first time, which was amazing!

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And just like that, summer was over, and the kids were headed back to school.  This is the last school year they will all be in the same building, and I am working to savor it all!

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SEPTEMBER:

John and I worked to get healthier in our marriage by navigating the tight rope of what we share with one another and when.  We are reaping the fruits of this, and I'm really thankful.  I got to spend an amazing weekend with some of my very favorite adoptive moms.

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We also did a little living room makeover, which was a long time coming.

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OCTOBER:

Back in September, I found out I had a genetic mutation that predisposes me to certain types of cancer.  Here's one of the posts where I was processing that.  In October, I ended up having my first mammogram, which turned into my first biopsies and MRI.  I am so thankful to have had clear results, but it certainly made for a traumatic month.

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Also, Bella turned nine, and we celebrated with a Galaxy Party at the Trampoline Park.

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We also did some of our favorite family things, like hit up the Pumpkin Patch and celebrate Halloween with friends.

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NOVEMBER:

It was a straight up crazy and amazing month.  I went to Christmas Camp Create to teach cookies.

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We loved getting all fancy to support CARTI, especially now that I am a regular patient.

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And then John and I got to go to Belgium and France with dear friends, which was a huge highlight of the year!  We even got to visit Disneyland Paris.  If anyone had told me at the beginning of the year that I would manage to hit 3 Disney Parks, including one internationally, I would have cackled at them.

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DECEMBER:

Between recovering from November and doing all of the holiday craziness, December feels like a total blur.  We're done with Christmas and about to celebrate the New Year with friends.

It's always such an interesting exercise to go through and see what the year held.  As usual, this one had a lot of highs and lows.  I'm grateful to say that John and I are at a healthier place overall in life, and we are walking into 2020 tentatively hopeful about what it will bring.  I'm thankful for the lessons learned and the life lived in 2019 and mostly for God's faithfulness through it all.

Monday, December 30, 2019

HOW CHRISTMAS FELT

We're just a bit past Christmas and creeping into the New Year.  What day is it?  Who am I?  What am I supposed to be doing?  I've wondered all of these things recently.  Because we didn't travel this year, it "seems" like we have more time on winter break, but we are also still recovering from Christmas.

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I love the joy that surrounds Christmas.  This year, I spent a lot of time thinking about how thankful I am that Jesus came to Earth for us all once, and how much I am looking forward to when he will come back.  There are a lot of broken things here, and Christmas this year managed to highlight the good and some bad.

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As can be the case, being with lots of family sometimes feels like a minefield.  There are traps around every corner, and it takes a lot of emotional reserve to walk through it unscathed.  We avoided any major explosions, but only by the skin of our teeth and a heck of a lot of grit.  There is obligation and love all mixed together with years of baggage and most people really wanting it to work as well as possible.  I'm so thankful for the work that we all did.

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There were moments where I was not sure how things were going to go.  We were teetering on the edge, and thankfully, nothing fully blew us over the cliff.  However, it is stressful to walk on the edge of the cliff, even if you don't fall.

There were also moments of magic.  The Christmas surprises revealed.  The cousin fun.  The food.  The Christmas clothes and matching jammies.  The candlelight service that the pastor blessedly kept to a brisk 30 minutes which felt like a Christmas miracle in our row of squirmy children.  The familiar music.

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The truth is that even as I look back on the good and the hard and write a rather cathartic post about it all, I am thankful.  I am thankful that each member of the family loves each other and wants what is best for the others.  This does not mean that opinions or beliefs align, but we are holding out hope for all of us to become the healthiest versions of ourselves.  The pain from the past and the present is certainly a part of it all and carried inside everyone, and the more that I learn about trauma, the more I understand how much it defines each person.  Even so, there was laughter in the midst of it all and fun to be had.

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And in God's goodness, he saw fit to add complexity, richness and joy by adding an entirely new family that we also got to celebrate with.  There is trauma abounding in this group, and there often are not easy answers.  This year has brought pain and sadness with certain realities.  But, any time I am tempted to become anxious about the paths we might have to go down, God reminds me of his faithfulness.  Often this takes the form of spending time together and seeing the beauty of what he's put in front of us all.  We get to do it.  And we get to do it with each other.

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So, Christmas felt complicated.  Probably yours did too.  The longer I live, the more I realize that's the way of things.  There is almost never all good or all bad: it's usually all mixed up together.  It's a lot to hold inside and walk through.  It does make me long for heaven where it will finally, at long last, be all good.  I guess the very best result of Christmas is that I am thankful for the good gift of time with precious family and also still feeling that we all need our Savior to restore our hearts and minds in ways that we cannot.  My weary soul does indeed rejoice.