Sunday, September 28, 2014


When we started our adoption process, we thought we were going to adopt from Ethiopia.  We thought we would be getting two boys (ha!).  We thought they might have HIV.  We thought they would be around 2-3 years old when we brought them home.  There were many plans that we had for what we thought our family would look like, but only some of them came to fruition.  God had different plans for our family, and I'm so glad that he did.

To be really honest, John and I were looking forward to getting toddlers.  Neither of us are big newborn people, and one of the reasons we felt like international adoption might be a good fit for our family is that we would miss the itty bitty baby stage.  Obviously, we didn't want to miss chunks of our children's lives, but if there were children being adopted at those ages, we thought that might make sense for our family.

However, every time I walked through my entry way and saw these pictures of my girls, I wondered what I would do for our other children.


These are the "Baby's First Year" pictures taken by my amazing brother-in-law, Luke, at Main Street Studios.  In thinking that we would be getting older children, I was already trying to strategize for what I would put up to mark their lives in a similar way.  I sort of have a thing for matching, which you may have caught onto if you have read this blog much.  It made me sad to think I would not have pictures of their first year of life.

Then we realized that God had a different, more out-of-nowhere, plan for our family.  It included getting two newborns at the same time, which also proves that God has a sense of humor and knows what will stretch us into needing him more.  But, it allowed for pictures of almost every moment of their little lives, which is something that I treasure and do not take for granted - especially after thinking its not something we would get.

This week, we put up the twins' "Baby's First Year" pictures on a wall catty-corner to the girls.  To me, it marked a moment of survival - we made it through the first year with twins(!), and it was a reminder that God gives graciously and sometimes tailors his gifts to match us perfectly.  It's like he knew how much I love pictures and allowed me to have them.  I know its a little thing in the grand scheme of life and that I would have been fine without them, but I'm thankful.


And though having two newborns at the same time wasn't exactly my cup of tea, I wouldn't trade the time we got with them for the world.


When I look at those pictures, I am reminded of God's faithfulness and attention to detail.  He knows me so well and sometimes chooses to indulge in the little things that delight my heart just because he likes to give good gifts.  Thanks be to God for these precious lives.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I'm back for one of my day in the life posts.  It is entertaining and enlightening for me to look back at these and see what my days looked like.  Here goes.

8:00ish a.m. -  I'd been up over an hour, and John graciously offered to take Lily to school, so I was blow-drying my hair before heading to Bible Study.  My hair desperately needs to be cut, and I will be remedying that tomorrow morning!


9:00ish a.m. - One of the best things about our Bible Study is that women bring breakfast each week for a massive spread.  It doubles as my breakfast and lunch on Tuesdays.  I did take a brownie.  It's never too early in the day for a brownie.

10:00ish a.m. - I had realized earlier in the morning that I lost my little pedometer and had retraced my steps to my car.  Then I left my bag there and had to go back again.  Sometimes it feels like my brain is leaking out bit by tiny bit, and other times it feels as if a floodgate has let it all loose.

11:40ish a.m. - After a beautiful morning with my small group, I'm back in the car, reunited with my Misfit that I found lurking in William's carseat.  It had popped out when I had to wrestle him in earlier that morning, which is no shock.  Wrestling with a wriggling sack of rocks is no joke.  But I was so glad to find it, because I will continue knowing exactly how many steps I do or do not take in the day.  Lucky me.

12:30ish p.m. - Finishing up lunch with the littles.  Violet is about to stand back up in her chair, and William's teething angst is continuing to be known.  He's a sad little fella these days.

1:15ish p.m. - Reading to Bella before her nap time.  Right after this picture and book reading, she threw a tantrum of epic proportions that seemed to arise out of thin air.  Nothing like a mid-day battle to keep you on your toes.

2:00ish p.m. - Sitting on the couch, with a sweet kitty for company, blogging.  I know that someday, probably in the not too distant future, I will look back and think these leggings to be a hopelessly loud and strange wardrobe choice.  But yesterday I found them fun and festive and just right with a long top.

3:05ish p.m. - Lily is almost always the first off the bus, and yesterday, she was chewing on her backpack as she ran to greet me.  I'm trying to help her break the disgusting habit of sucking on clothing or bags, but she seems quite determined to press on with it.

4:00ish p.m. - Babies were blessedly still sleeping, and I was trying to get cookies knocked out.  I did so enjoy making this bunch - so many fun colors!

5:00ish p.m. - After a phone call from John that he was on his way home, I realized that breakfast dishes were still piled in the sink, and I should probably do something about that before he gets home.  Not because he expects it, but because it feels kind of shameful to have not bothered cleaning the kitchen all day long.  Better late than never.

6:45ish p.m. - After eating at a friend's CFA for our school's Spirit Night, we walked over to Home Depot to pick up a few things needed to finish a project.  The evening was gorgeous and being outside was a delight in itself.

7:30ish p.m. - Heading home from picking up frozen yogurt, the sky continued to show off God's glory with its colors and clouds.  This picture does nothing to bring them justice.

8:30ish p.m. - Kids are in bed, and we are doing our level best to keep them up by hammering and drilling into walls in their hallway.  John was ready to knock out this project, and I was so happy to have bags off the floor.

9:30ish p.m. - Since the cookies needed to be mailed out this morning, I had to finish them last night. If you have ever wondered how the writing turns out so precisely on my cookies, here's the secret.  I often use a KopyKake - a cookie projector.  It's the handiest thing.

And just like that, the day is done.  The days do seem to fly by at an alarming rate in this stage, and I am thankful for the fullness and the joy that they contain.  I could do with a little less of the screaming, but I know that will come, and I'll lose some of the other joys when it does.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I truly just had such an encouraging morning.  In the mom's group that I attend on Tuesday mornings, Bloom, we are working through a new book called God Architect.  It's not out in stores yet.  We are on a trial run of it, because the author works at our church and leads the group and happens to be a friend of mine.  When this little study does become available - I am pleased to say that I can highly recommend it!

We just worked through the second chapter this week, and it was such a refreshing reminder of the goodness of God in both the good times in our lives and the bad.  He's ALWAYS at work.  He ALWAYS is working for our good and his glory.  We can ALWAYS trust him, even when we can't see or understand how things will work out.

We were encouraged to write out times in our lives that we knew that God was at work - stones of sorts.  In our small group time, we went around the room and shared, and what a blessing it was.  What a gift to see the ways that God works.  My eyes were brimming with tears as woman after woman shared some most personal moments where they knew that God was at work.

As I look back at my own life and story, I can see time after time where God showed his hand, and it makes me excited about looking forward.  He has guided my life so certainly, and I can see it so clearly in retrospect.  While I would never have chosen for my father to die, I can see God's hand in it.  Where I wouldn't have imagined a life in the restaurant industry, God has clearly placed us in CFA.  I never pictured us living so near to where I grew up, and yet, here we are, with dear friends and community and purpose.  Adoption had never crossed my mind as an option for my family, but I cannot imagine a world where William and Violet were not a part of our family.

How gracious is our God?

He's so good.  It's staggering, really.

He's good in the things I don't understand.

He's good in the things that I think I understand, but probably don't.

And, I know he will be good in all of the things that are still unwritten for me.  Because they are already known to him, and his ways and thoughts are good.

We were also encouraged to find some way of physically memorializing things so that we can talk about God's faithfulness to our children and have a visible reminder.  I've realized that this blog is one excellent way that I can do this - though it is not tangible in our home.  I've written out so many of the stories that are important to John and I, and I'm glad to know that our kiddos will someday be able to read them.  But, now I am on the hunt for things to put in my home to remind us all.  I'll keep you posted when I come up with something.  In all of my spare time.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Sometimes you get to soar to the highest of highs and spiral into the lowest of lows all in the same weekend.  This weekend was just like that.  I know I mentioned last Friday that we had some fun plans, and I was hoping that we would get to go in spite of Bella's vomiting.  Well, we all seemed to be in the clear still on Saturday morning, so John and I set out with some of our besties for Memphis. Here's a rundown of the highs and lows.

High:  Saturday was beautiful, and everything was coming up roses as we traveled to Memphis.  We stopped for lunch at Nick's (Fish & BBQ), where we were the youngest folks in the crowd by about 20 years.  All of the fried food was tasty, and we relished the fact that our 8 children were no where in sight or earshot.


Our first stop in Memphis was Sweet Noshings, and since we keep going there and making small talk with the owners, they recognized us as the CFA people.  We all stocked up on popcorn.  Yum.

Low:  After a few more shopping stops, we headed to our hotel to change, and they informed us that they had no rooms.  Upon further inquiry, we discovered that they meant they had no clean rooms at that moment, though we were there a full hour after check-in time.  Thankfully, I am married to a kind man who stays calm, and one room was made available in decent-ish time.  The four of us went from friends to family as we tried to all delicately change in one hotel room.

High:  We met up with friends who recently moved to Memphis for a delicious dinner at the Grove Grill.  It was so good!  And there was no wait at all since we were eating at 4:45 pm.  We felt a bit geriatric, but it was worth it.

Low:  Despite promising to order a pizza dinner for the kiddos and sitters back home, I had totally forgotten to do so.  I got a kind text asking which place I had called.  I felt AWFUL, but the couple staying with our kids took it like champs and got their own pizza.

Low:  We missed William's very first steps.  I got this precious video from the sitter, also during dinner.  It was an eventful dinner.

(Video is taking FOREVER to load - hopefully I'll be able to link it later!)

High:  WILLIAM TOOK STEPS!  I'm so thrilled that he wants to walk, and though he is still a long way from actually walking around, he is TAKING BABY STEPS!

High:  We headed from dinner to the Darius Rucker concert at the Memphis Botanical Gardens.  It was an outdoor concert, and you could take anything you wanted in.  Here are our kind pack mules waiting walking through the line.

It was hot when we first got there, but as the evening wore on, the weather became perfect.  Being there with good friends made everything even better.

Darius Rucker puts on a great show, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the concert.

Low:  I woke up at 5 a.m. with the dreaded stomach bug and threw up.  Then, at 8, we got a text that William and Violet had both gotten sick in the night as well.  This is what they looked like around 4 a.m.  Don't look too closely.

High:  You know you have good friends/sitters when they pick vomit out of your son's fro and tell you to stop apologizing.

Low:  Though I had thrown up mere hours before, I didn't feel too badly.  This stomach bug was mighty mild as stomach bugs go.  However, John started to feel it coming on as we headed home.

Low:  We got home and after thanking and apologizing profusely to our sweet friends/sitters, we basically crashed on the couch.  We were awakened to Lily saying that she had thrown up downstairs.

High:  After 11.5 hours of sleep last night, I feel much better, and everyone else is on the mend.  Lily is just about at the 24 hour mark and is having a blast playing downstairs with her younger sister.


When I wrote that God knew what we needed, I didn't realize that everything would be timed to allow a truly delightful and relaxing Saturday in the midst of what has been a pretty crazy time.  We needed the time away from our children doing something really fun.  I hate that it came at a high cost to the friends keeping our kiddos, but they gamely reminded us that they have opened their home for foster care and that it was great practice.  Nothing like sick one-year-old twins in the middle of the night to "break you in."  Happy Monday - hope your weekend was less eventful than ours!

Friday, September 19, 2014


We've had our ups and downs this week, just like you.  Here's a rundown.

High:  We've eaten at CFA at least 3 times.  Maybe more.  Sometimes I lose count.  Not cooking or cleaning up is always such a blessing these days, and the kiddos certainly love their chicken.  Good thing we've got a steady supply.


Low:  On Tuesday evening, I went to clean out Lily's lunch box.  The plastic insert was already washed out, which was weird, and I noticed that there were a few ants crawling on it.  Then, I noticed that the outside of the lunch box had ants meandering all over it.  Sick.


When asked, Lily told me that the basket with all the lunch boxes had accidentally been left outside all afternoon, and the ants had been discovered right before school had let out.  It seems that Lily's box had the worst infestation, and she kept saying how it was the "Worst Day Ever."  (I never did figure out if hers actually was the worst, but she seemed to feel singled out in the incident.)  Every other day this week, she has come home and when asked how her day was, replied with, "Good - there were no ants today."

High:  Though John has had a busy week, he still made time to play with the kiddos.  We all love this scenario.


High:  Every afternoon, Bella and I head to the bus stop together, and usually, she dons some sort of extraordinary attire for the occasion.  It's always pretty entertaining, and she is quite serious about it.


High:  Sibling love.  The girls really love the babies, and the feelings seem to be mutual.  I shared this pic on Instagram, but its too stinking cute not to share again.  Also, please note the drool dripping from Violet's chin.  This is ALL THE TIME.


Low:  Last night, after bedtime but while I was still up, Lily ran out to the living room to inform me that Bella had thrown up.  She had, and it was pretty nasty.  She had given no indication of feeling queazy, and even afterwards, she seemed totally fine.  Lily was a huge help during clean up, and Bella was also very sweet and helpful.  Bella woke up feeling fine, so I think it was just a freak thing, but it was pretty pathetic at the time.


Low:  We got some bad news about Lily's teacher, and she is out of school for a couple of weeks.  We are hoping and praying for a speedy recovery for her!

High:  We got some good news about the twins' birth family, and we are rejoicing!

Well, that's that.  We have some fun weekend plans in the works, and I am hoping and praying for healthy children and all of the other stars to align to make it happen.  As I told John today, God knows what we need.  And though we may not always like what that is, we can trust that it will be good and for the best.  That said, I really hope that we get to do what we have planned!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I've got a bit of a thing for the four seasons.  I have seasonal traditions.  I look forward to certain foods or festivals as the year ticks by.  I have pictures of the four seasons in my home, and I am looking to acquire more.

(I purchased these pictures from iStock several years ago, and they are printed onto canvases and hanging over my fireplace.  I love them.  It's some beautiful spot in Sweden.)

It is fascinating to me that the Lord chose to break up our time here on earth into a rhythmic cadence. Sun-drenched summer with its pool time and popsicles gives way to the rainbow leaves and pumpkin patches of crispy fall.  The world is set alight with the magic of Christmas, and then everything settles into a sleepy sort of cold with snow on the bare-limbed trees and curling up cozy next to a roaring fire.  Just when it seems as if the winter will never end, bright spring green starts showing up all around town in places you least expect it.  Trees are covered with flowers as everything is reminded that new life can be found anywhere and everywhere.  I always need that reminder after winter.

This season in my own life is a full one.  When I glance around the room, I see a million things, big and small, that are screaming for my attention and time.  And there are four precious little people who depend on me for almost everything.  I work for hugs and kisses and the knowledge that this will all be worth it.  Even knowing all that and loving it, there are times of mental boredom and overwhelming physical fatigue.  It's just the season that I'm in.

As I take stock of all the things we have going right now, I am forced to conclude that we cannot be adding to that pile.  In fact, I've had to cut things - things that I have loved in the past - life giving things.  But, to be the wife and mother that I want to be and that God has called me to be, I've had to say "NO" to being and doing other things.  There is freedom in the release, but there is loss as well.

I'm left wanting and trying to embrace the season that I'm in.  I know it is fleeting.  I know that its joys are unique and precious.  I know that I'm tired.

Last night I reread Ecclesiastes 3.  The first 8 verses go through there being a time for everything.  I've always loved the rhythm of that passage and the way that our lives do mimic that reality.  And then you get to verse 11 -

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

He has set eternity in the human heart.  There is a reason that I am always longing for more; my heart was made for something more.  My heart seems to know that life is but a blink, but my mind cannot catch up to it.  I cannot fathom all that God has done, is doing or will do.  It's too big.

So, for now, I'm praying to see the beautiful in this season, in this time.  I'm hoping and praying for extra strength and grace in these long, full days.  I'm trying to just dig in - right here where I'm at, embracing the season.  For I am all too aware that "This To Shall Pass" - both the bad and the good.

Monday, September 15, 2014


This weekend brought with it some great fun, which was nice in the midst of all that is going on other fronts in our life.  John got back late Friday night, and we kicked off Saturday was a delightful birthday party to attend.  (Check out the super fun details here!)  Our kiddos loved all the barnyard animals and the tasty treats.

(I love this picture of Violet chowing down while watching that donkey to make sure it doesn't make any sudden movements!)

Saturday night a miraculous thing happened.  Friends that have moved to Memphis were back for the weekend and almost everyone was able to get a sitter for a fun adults' night out.


After church on Sunday, we went out for lunch.  By the time we have been there two services, William is just toast.  He wanted to sleep through lunch.


And, I love this pic of the girls.  Bella sure does miss Lily while she's at school, but they still get lots of time together.  Including this sweet microwave moment.


Hope that your week is off to a great start.  I can't exactly say that I love the way this one has kicked off, but I am hoping for the best!