Wednesday, October 31, 2012


So, while it may feel a little crazy to do a blog post the night of Halloween recapping it, but I like to keep Halloween in October.  Therefore, a blog post is in order for the evening.  We had a great Halloween this evening with friends.  We missed two big festivals this weekend, which I was sad about, so I am glad that we got to relish the fun tonight.

First off, I had the two cutest Strawberry Fairies (whatever that is) of all time.  I think I may have to frame that picture, they look so cute!  And are smiling.  And are looking.  A near impossibility at this stage.  It must be a Halloween miracle.


Friends came to our house.  I decorated for the occasion, which is always fun.


We had fun food.  I made Jack-o-lantern open faced grilled cheese.


Fizzing punch, powered by dry ice.  I love that stuff.


I think this little fairy could have drunk the punch all night long.  I had to cut her off.


My friends stepped up to the plate and brought themed food as well.  Here's the spider web bean dip.  I threw My Fitness Pal out the window and just kept eating it.




And super cute rice krispy eye balls.


We had some fun playing in the yard.  Or wandering the yard in Bella's case.


Then came the eating.  Always a wild event with this number of children involved.


It was about this moment that someone reminded me that I had made Sausage and Cream Cheese with Phyllo Dough Intestines.  I ended up giving them all away at the end.  Aren't those recipients lucky?


A sweet girl that I mentor and her friend offered to man our door, handing out candy, while we trick-or-treated.  Thanks, Laura!


Then, there was the chaos and fun of the actual trick-or-treating.  Also known as walking around the block.  Our hoard of children highly enjoyed themselves, galavanting from house to house, taking in the candy, being sure to say "Thank You!"


Here's part of the empty stroller posse.  A fixture at these type of events.  The faces change, the strollers stay the same.


And, here is the coerced group shot that turned into insanity.  This is the best that I got.  This is everyone but a way-ward pirate and a tiny little lady bug.  I think one child is looking at the camera.


Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



My brain feels a bit on the mushy side.  After a wild Saturday that included a game day in Little Rock and making thousands of Chick-N-Minis, a dinner with friends (including 6 very loud children) and then our trip to the Buffalo, I am spent.  Bella woke up on the crazy side this morning, and it was a battle just to get to Bible Study.  And as I look into November, there is no respite on the horizon.

It looks like it will be chalk full of good things.  But, it will be tiring.

Some days I wonder if we try to do too much.  I want to be able to hear the Holy Spirit better and let him direct my paths more.  The things in front of us seem to be brought by him, and I know that he will work in and through us in the next couple of weeks.  I just wonder if we will get any sleep and rest.

But, maybe that is the point.  We are going to be poured out.  We are giving in ways that will cost.  It will cost time, energy and money.  Valuable resources.  I want to spend them in ways that are pleasing to him, since that is all that matters in eternity.

May we be good spenders.

May we be Big Spenders when we need to be.

May we do it all in his strength.

Monday, October 29, 2012


For the fifth year in a row, we headed to the Buffalo River Valley in Northern Arkansas to enjoy the fall colors by staying in a cabin and hiking.  It has become a very favorite fall tradition for us (here's last year's trip), and this year was no different.  Here are the highs and lows.

High:  Gorgeous, fall-perfection weather.  Chilly, but not too cold, and sunny.  The colors were vibrant, and it was fall magic.


Low:  As we were headed there, maybe a bit quickly, on windy, hilly roads, Lily started to complain that her neck was hurting.  We thought it was pressure in her ears, but she kept whimpering.  After this experience, we should have known right away.  She was car sick, and just as we were debating on whether or not we should stop, she threw up.  Five minutes away from our destination.  So yeah, that was pretty disgusting.

High:  Getting to hang out with our dear friend, Becci, and my sis, Ellen and bro-in-law, Luke.  Their son, True, is the smiliest, happiest baby of all time.


Low:  Bella throwing a fit about wanting to get back into the car immediately on arrival.  The car bore witness to this event.


High:  HIking Hawk's Bill Crag, formally known as Whitaker Point, on a gorgeous fall day.  It is said to be the most photographed spot in Arkansas, and it always lives up to the hype.


Low:  On the way back, Lily decided that she was over hiking.  To be fair, she had hiked a long way and done awesome.  But she was heavy to carry back.  John carried both girls for a while and told me he was angling for Father of the Year.  Aunt Ellen also took a turn.  It takes a village.


High:  Soaking in the natural beauty abounding, including the fields full of elk and the view from our cabin.  God spent a lot of time and love on Ponca.


Low:  Our car smelling like vomit.

High:  Enjoying some epically good food on this little trip.  The stars and menus aligned in our favor.  I will probably blog a recipe for the Bacon/Apple/Goat Cheese Burgers we enjoyed, and our amazing breakfast was not to be missed.


Low:  Cleaning up the stuff that had vomit on it.

High:  Late night gaming.  Games feel like vacation.


High:  Waking up to our girls, who were sharing a room, "talking" and being able to laugh heartily at this conversation.

Bella:  (screaming) WAKE UP!  WAKE UP!  Good night. (whispered)  WAKE UP!
Lily:  People don't want you to talk loud.  They want you to be quiet.  Lay down.  Shhh.
L:  You've got to sleep.  Go to sleep.  Shhh.  Mommy will come in a minute.  She will.  She'll come.  In five minutes, okay?  When you wake up again, we will go downstairs.
B:  Oh, poopy girl.  Good night!  (starts doing a strange little dance the girls call the "Begge dance" where they sort of run in place and move their arms and say "I do my begge.  I do my begge."  We have no idea where this came from - Lily seems to have invented it.)
L:  You are being silly, Bella!  You want to eat my soft puppy?
B:  Yeah!

At that point, I went downstairs to check on breakfast, and we got the girls up shortly after.  Hilarious.


High:  Hiking in Lost Valley this morning, which is always gorgeous.


High:  Having Luke take our family pictures for Christmas cards.  He's so awesome.

Low:  Trying to wrangle Bella for family pictures.  I basically kept feeding her Icebreaker Sours, so though her attitude was quite sour, she had great breath.  She then decided she was over hiking and being carried by John.  I ended up carrying her 33 lb self through the valley, so we wouldn't disturb every one else's tranquility.  She wore herself out and fell asleep on me at the end.  Which was really sweet, but even heavier to carry.  Love that girl, but she is some kind of intense.



That wraps it up.  It was amazing and just what we needed, though now we need to get a little more sleep.  Late night gaming is awesome, but it does rob your sleep a bit.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Last week I wrote about moments.  This week I want to capture my week in the little things.  Which I guess could also be called moments.  I am not very original after all.  Oh, well.  Here are the little things that I liked this week.  I love keeping a record of things to be thankful for, good and bad.  This blog is such an encouragement to always be thankful.  There's also a quote I read in Jennie Allen's book, Anything, that keeps sticking with me.  She is actually quoting someone else who said, "You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don't know the difference."

Isn't that absolute brilliance?  I mean, really.  I do not know what all God has in store for our lives, but I do know that he works all things for good.  He promises to do that.  So, even the big, bad stuff that happens - he is working that to good.  And often, I feel that he is working the little bad stuff, the annoying, nit-picky things that may drive us crazy, he is using those to refine in ways that I can't fathom.  I need him to do that, because I can clearly see that my plans and intentions are never right without him.

Here are some of the little things I have to be thankful for this week.

This experience and then subsequent conversation with my husband -

This sweet child


can be a bit of a terror at the grocery store currently.  I think it has something to do with her turning two.  Or just her being Bella.  Jury's still out on that one.  As I was standing in line, she hands me a Rolo that seemed to come from mid-air.  Upon further investigation, I discover that there is a Rolo pack that is snapped clean in half.

I honestly didn't think she had time to do this, but I didn't want to dodge out of something that I should be responsible for.  So, I showed the cashier and said that I didn't think my daughter had done it, but she might have and either way, I could pay for it.  And also, that I was sorry.  As I was standing there, I realized he probably thought I was just trying to get out of paying for it, so I said, "She may have done it.  I don't know.  I really can pay for it."  He kindly didn't make me pay, but I am sure thought I was nuts.

As I was relating this story to John, his first comment was.

"Of course she did it.  She has the strength of a thousand camels."

I am still laughing about it.  Neither of us know from whence this camel concept struck him, but I am glad it did.  And, he's probably right.  She probably did snap that Rolo pack right in half.  She could smell the chocolate, after all.

We are noticing the little things about Lily right now that are making our lives richer.  She is in a better place.  She's potty-trained, still a miraculous thought.  But more than that, she is listening better and being cooperative more often.  It is amazing what a difference this makes.  Here she is, helping get cheese for sandwiches.  She thought of this on her own.


She's also saying funny little things like, "I am going to write a blog post."  When questioned about the topic, she told me, "It's going to be about you, Mom."  I would certainly love to read that!  She's also told me several times, "Me and Bella are talking together.  About stuff."  Which is straight up hilarious, since I've heard their conversations.  But, this little thing of having my girls loving to play together is quite delightful.  (Though not always the case.  Bella still likes biting - both for "fun" and when she gets angry, and it usually does not make the bitten party very happy.)

I love the little thing that my girls will laugh forever when I pull my sunglasses down to the edge of my nose and look over the lenses at them.  They think this is the funniest thing, and beg me to do it "Gin!"


Another little thing I have loved lately is the afternoon sunlight that pours into our house.  And the way that Lily has discovered "rainbows" on the floor - cast through the front door glass.  That is a beautiful little thing.


I am thankful for this little thing who is not so little, we like to call her "juicy."  When Lily was this age, Bella was a tiny baby.  Now with Bella, I am getting to soak up the last of babyhood and full on toddler-hood that she is.  While I am anxious to complete our family by adding two more precious children, I am thankful for this time to enjoy the girls.


A little thing called the World Series has started this week, and I am thankful that my husband likes it enough that it gives him an excuse to sit down and relax.  Sometimes that's hard for him.  And, he let this sweet little girl stay up a little late to watch baseball with him, which she loved.


Those are the little things that came to mind.  Hopefully, you have had your own set to be thankful for, both the good and the bad, since we can't really tell the difference in the end.  Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2012



Another word for comparison could be judgement.  It is amazing how often I find myself thinking thoughts about people that are less than grace-filled.  When I am making judgement calls about how they should live their lives.  When I am inwardly and maybe outwardly questioning the decisions they are making.  When I think I know and do better than they do.

This is particularly easy with people I don't know well or understand.  I think things like, "If only they would make better choices in life, then they would not be in such a hard place."  or "What an attitude of entitlement!  That person expects life to be handed to them and feels like they deserve everything."  And while there may be nuggets of truth in those thoughts (I've been reading Proverbs recently), what do those thoughts serve?

In many ways, they indicate more about my own heart than they do about the people to which they may be directed.  Do I really and honestly believe that I have good things in life, because I have made the "right" choices along the way?  Do I not struggle with entitlement in my own heart that rears its ugly head in moments that shock and amaze me?  Where is compassion in my heart?  What about thinking through the realities that many people have faced that I could never dream of - horrific realities that limit choices and handicap for a lifetime?

Am I better than my sister or brother?

Our Community Group (they are starting to be called D-groups, but I am having a hard time thinking of it like that) is going through the Gospel Centered Life, which our church has recommended for us.  At our last meeting, we got to talking about judgement.  We spent the last 20 minutes or so in a discussion about the ways that we judge other people.  And, oh my, what a long and telling list we came up with.  It's easy to bop along in my little Christian life sometimes and think that I am doing some stuff right.  And maybe I am, but man oh man, am I getting a lot wrong as well.  As we were wrestling through it, we came to the conclusion that we judge and compare to make ourselves feel better about our own life and the ways we do things. One person put it like this - "It's like having a white house.  Compared to the houses around it, it may look nice and clean and white.  But, when it snows, and that white house is covered in truly white snow, we can see every bit of how dirty and gray the white house really is."

I need to only be looking at the snow - the perfectness of our Holy Lamb of God.  And I need to always know that my own house is not white.  Any good thing in my life is the result of God's grace to me - not the sum conclusion of all my "good" choices.  And, as I have followed this thought through, I am seeing the places where I need the Lord to bring more compassion into my heart and actions.  I want to see people with his eyes - eyes that love and long for people to turn to him, the source of all good things.

I have so very far to go.

Other posts on comparison here:  "Highlight Reel" and "Family Building"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



As I've been thinking about all the different ways that comparison stalks my life, one way has come to mind during this phase of my life.  Family building is an experience often fraught with comparison.  I realize at this moment that I may tread on toes with this post, and that is not my heart in any way.

But, that is sort of my point.

Treading on toes, or having my toes walked on, seems to be sort of the norm when it comes to getting children into your family.  I had no idea when I was younger and dreaming up a perfect family in my head that included 2.5 children who looked like me that this stage of life often involves heartache and loss along with the good.  I didn't know how common miscarriages are, until I started hearing the stories.  I didn't know how many people would struggle with infertility for various reasons, until they were my friends.  I didn't know how hard adoption really is, until I went down the road myself.

Nothing prepared me for it.  Nobody told me how to ask appropriate questions or which questions I should never ask.  I have learned these things the hard ways through the awkward moments that I never wanted.  I am still learning.  Nobody explained that the family-building process can be scarring, and that many women in my stage of life would be walking wounded, just under the surface.

So I am still learning how to walk the line of beautiful celebration of new life and learning how to mourn the heartache of babies born into Jesus' arms or babies never conceived.  And learning how we can never understand, this side of heaven, why God chooses things to be the ways that they are.  Doing this gracefully sometimes seems impossible.

And now, John and I are adopting from Ethiopia.  We are choosing to build our family in a way that we hope also serves a need in the world.  We believe this is what the Lord wants for us.  Most people have rejoiced so graciously with us and have accepted our decisions.  However, there is the inevitable kick-back minority - people who when adoption comes up are dismayed and disappointed that we would choose to adopt from another part of the world when there are so many needy kids in our own country.  Or people who think it's crazy for us to adopt at all when we can have "children of our own." Or people who think we shouldn't pay all the money when we could get a child through the state for free.

And, here's the reality, my friends.  God has called each of us to walk our own stories.  Really, how boring would it be if we all saw things and acted in the same way?  I wholeheartedly believe this applies to how we go about building our families.  God calls each of us to different paths, and I hope that I can graciously and lovingly respond to the paths that I see around me.  I want to see things the way he does and to offer grace and truth together as I walk forward.  I want to hear people's stories and find God's glory in each of them, instead of looking for things I would do differently.

I don't want to spend my energy comparing paths.  I want to spend my energy loving people well, and I am praying that God can work that in me.

(The first post I wrote about comparison can be seen here.)

Monday, October 22, 2012


Ahh, October, how I ♥ thee.  Every weekend is brimming full with fun and activity.  Here's a high/low rundown of our weekend.

High:  Eating an early dinner at the Flying Fish.  We didn't have to wait long, and Bella Loved seeing all the fish.


High:  Meeting friends at the Zoo on Saturday morning while John was working Race for the Cure.  Animals are always a hit with the girls.


Low:  Trying to leave the Zoo, and Bella throwing a massive fit, which included sliding out of the stroller on purpose.


High:  Having friends that take pictures of the said event, knowing that you will be glad to have it documented and then remembering that you have Capri Suns to bribe your kids with.




This deserves to be in all-caps, because it is a festival all about cheese dip.  While there, I realized that I have never met a cheese dip that I don't like.  (Except the one that I didn't try, because it was supposed to be so hot.  It was so hot, that a photographer wanted to take John's picture while he was trying it.  John's reaction was really anticlimactic, which I could have told the guy, but he did start hiccuping from the hotness.)


This festival was named one of the top 10 Food Festivals in the country by Gourmet magazine (the website told me this, I do not read Gourmet magazine).  It really was a ton of fun.  What is not to like about going from tent to tent and getting more cheese dip?


What old pros do, which we will do next year, is bring muffin tins to carry around your cheese dip, so you can easily sample it all.  Cheese dip brilliance!


I will say that it may not have been the most kid-friendly of events, though the girls did enjoy their lunch of chips.  We are awesome parents.


There were some really fun bounce houses, and Bella was so worn out that she fell asleep mid-chip-eating on the way home.


High:  Enjoying the fall color that is starting to really creep in.


High:  Having John home after a busy week and enjoying a late afternoon trip to the park in the beautiful weather.


Why would you want to play on the playground when there is this awesome drainage ditch?

High:  Watching Cinderella as a family on Saturday night.  The girls, especially Lily, loved it!

Low:  On Sunday, I felt miserable and ended up sleeping almost the whole day after church.  Thankfully, John was able to help out, and I am feeling mostly better today, but that is certainly not an ideal way to spend a gorgeous afternoon.

And, here we are on Monday, and I am realizing that there are a million and one things that I need/want to do this week.  Here goes nothing.