Monday, December 10, 2012

He Gives and Takes Away

Hello friends! I apologize for my absence from the blogosphere. Moving in August, unpacking in September and homeschooling the big boy (and sometimes the girls) through all of it has been busy. I will update with pics of the kitchen soon, but for now I'll catch you all up on our life.

In mid October, my dad called me to let me know that his mom, my Mimi, had fallen and hit her head. The fall was severe enough that the doctor did not think my Mimi would ever regain consciousness. She had not been in the best health for quite some time. She was taken in to hospice care at a local hospital and I was able to spend time with her in her last few days on this earth. I also got to spend some sweet, sweet time with my precious (and hilarious) aunts and cousins. My Mimi was a kind and loving woman. My parents divorced during my freshman year of college. She wrote me letters several times throughout that year, which was definitely a really rough time for me. I saved all of them and have reread them recently. I am blessed to be her granddaughter. Many smells remind me of her...sweet potatoes baking, greens in the frying pan, and moth balls (random, but true). I have three quilts that she made for me, one for Gramm and one precious baby bag. She was an amazing homemaker and I hope I can one day sew and cook like her.

(my Mimi's hand in mine during her hospital stay)

The same day that my Mimi left this earth, we received a call from our adoption specialist at DHS. She was wondering if we would be interested in taking a tiny baby boy. We slept on it and said yes the following day. Within 10 days of that call, we brought home our new foster son. Life with this little dude has been a whirlwind, but so good. We are busy, our hearts are full and the big kids are thrilled to have a baby in the house. I cannot post pics of the babe, but believe me when I say he is dang cute. :) I'll leave you all w) a pic of the big kids and my niece.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 2, 2012

All Moved In

We've been in the new house for about a week. We had a lot of work done on the house before we moved in and there are still a few things to be done. I don't have many pics to show at the moment, but I will soon. We have been doing lots and lots of unpacking. One of the first treasures I came across while unpacking is the lovely painting you see above. My long-time bestie, Krystal, painted it when we were in high school. I have taken that painting with me and proudly displayed it every single place I have lived since 1999. This painting says "home" to me and reminds me of the blessing of years of friendship and life lived with Krystal, also known as Aunt Krystal to my children who love her to pieces.

The past week has been full of meals brought by precious friends and neighbors, packing materials piled to the ceiling, a very tired Mama and Daddy and a sometimes very cranky Mama. I've been reminded in this process of my need to just rest in grace. Every day, I start out with the expectation of being the kind, God-honoring, sweet yet consistently firm Mama that I've always dreamed I would be. Every day I fail. Many days, I fail a lot. By lunchtime today, I'd given in. I was thinking to myself, "Failure! Failure!! You are a big fat failure and you will never get this right!! You big dumb idiot!!" Okay, so I added that last sentence to be funny. Seriously though, I give in and believe the lies that 1/ I can will myself to be the best mom ever 2/ If I can't meet my own high expectations, I am doomed and my kids will be screwed up because of me. So, today, I am saying no to the lies. I am telling them to get the heck out and give me a minute's rest. I am choosing to believe that God's grace is so sufficient. Every time I fail, He will forgive me. He gives me chance after chance. He is my ever present help in my time of need. He loves my children more than I do and He will give me wisdom as I try to love them and lead them to Him. I'm going to fail several times daily, but I can't stop going back to God and saying, "Please be with us. Please show me how to parent these kids. Please help me to not grow weary. Give me strength to persevere."

So, all you other Ma's out there reading this, please join me in calling out the lies that the enemy is whispering (or shouting) in your ear. We have an amazing Helper who prepared this good work of parenting in advance just for us. We do not have to live in fear. End sermon.

I have one more house pic to share. It's really terrible, but it's of my pantry (the doors are open in this pic). I lurve this pantry. It is now full of yummy food just waiting to be eaten. I promise to post more house pics soon. Over and out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


We signed a contract for the sale of our house several weeks ago, but I am just now comfortable announcing that we sold our hizzy. We are excited about the future and thankful for such a quick sale of our house.  We plan to close on the sale of our current house and the purchase of our new house early next week. (CRAZY!!! I can't believe this is actually happening!!) I promise to post pics of the new house as soon as it's ours. It's a fixer-upper, at least 40 years old and generally fabulous. 

In other news, we are having a wonderful Summer. I've had many a hot dates with this hunk of burning love:

 We basically live at the pool during the week. Both the girls are swimming pretty well sans life jackets and my boy is a FISH! Gramm is on swim team and loves it. (Brook sitting poolside just chillin'.)

 In between super fun pool days, we've been packing and packing and packing. My little lovies are not really entertained by watching us pack, so they all three have been watching lots of movies. (Vivi on left, Brook on right)
 I have enjoyed seeing how much the girls are growing seems like they are changing and maturing right before my eyes. Their voices, their smiles, their funny conversations are so precious to me. I just can't get enough of my kids. I am very thankful to have so much time to just BE with them. Our only real commitment has been swim team for Gramm and swim lessons for the girls, which both happen on the same days. This slower pace has been sanity saving during all the house selling and buying. And, here's my Vivian. I'm out!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Big Move Ahead

You know you want to buy our phat crib. 
 If you follow me on Facebook, you will very likely have seen that our house is for sale. The great house payoff has become the great house selling/buying/renovating adventure. Long story short, my gal pal Julie convinced my man and I to look at a house in her neighborhood back in March. We were in no way interested in this house and we looked at it just to humor Julie. After looking at the house and speaking with the seller, we felt like this might actually be the house for us. The house is a little old and dated, but we fell in love. It's quirky and needs a lot of work, but we are so excited and see this as an adventure. The Lord has opened door after door in order for us to buy this house. We will close on the new house later this Summer, renovate for around a month and then move in sometime in August or early September. If you are interested in buying our current house or if you just want to look,go here to check it out. And, if you have sold a house by owner, please share anything and everything you learned from the process. I will post pictures of our new house once we close and it is officially ours.

As a result of our move and subsequent renovation, there is a very good chance that our little crew will be living in temporary housing during the renovation. By temporary housing, I mean a long-term stay hotel or an apartment that has month-to-month leases. Because our living situation will be up in the air, our foster son, JJ, needed to be moved to a new family. He has been gone two weeks now. His transition has been smooth and we have kept in touch with his new (precious!) foster family. The first couple days after JJ left were very sad. JJ moved into another great situation and we will get to see him again at playdates and hopefully provide respite for his foster family. As far as foster care goes, this situation is ideal. But, I was still weepy and boohooed my eyes out the first night he was gone. We sat down to eat dinner and I felt the full realization that there wasn't a one year old sitting to my left scarfing down his food and alternately grunting, signing for more and reaching out to hug me. My sweet man asked me how my day was and the flood gates opened. My sister, Rachel, was here, too. There was no shortage of hugs and shared tears. I really have a wonderful, wonderful family.

We all have adjusted to our new normal of once again being a family of five. After emerging from six months of foster care, our eyes are still slightly foggy and Justin and I are recovering from the stress of everything that comes with having a foster child. I am not ready to unpack the entire process at this time, but I will eventually share tidbits of our experience here on the blog. We do plan to reopen our home to foster care once we get settled in the new house. We would love to adopt and have an adoption specialist with DHS who is on the lookout for a child that we can keep.

If you're still here after this long post, thank you! I'm going to leave you all with pics of our crew. Enjoy the cuteness!
My big boy showing me one of his treasures on Mother's Day. 

The view from here during our Mother's Day picnic at Lake Maumelle...see that precious boy's feet! Love and miss him! 
Brook (left) and Vivi (right) walking and talking hand in hand at Lake Maumelle. Hilarious cute girls!
Vivi (left), me and Brook (right) at a Mother's Day brunch at the girl's preschool.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mom

Me and my Ma, circa 2006

I have the best mom. Truly. I do. I got to pray with my mom tonight. Hearing my mom's voice as she prayed brought back a flood of memories. I remember getting in bed between cool, flowery pink sheets and my mom coming in to pray with me. I remember her striped nightshirt, eye glasses and lots of cold cream. She would gather my little girl self into her arms and cuddle me while she prayed for me. Hearing her pray tonight almost made me sleepy. I wasn't tired, but I remember how her prayers over me helped me to rest and relax. I don't really remember what she prayed, but I remember that she prayed just for me. I have three sisters and this time with just my mom was so sweet. She would kiss me goodnight and I would wipe the cold cream off my face and go to sleep. :) 

I sometimes forget what a treasure it is to have a mother who loves the Lord. She personally walked through many, many dark times during my childhood, yet she still followed Jesus and loved my sisters and I so much. My mom has never given up on me. I was not an easy child or teenager. I did not comply, I talked constantly and I was really loud. Oh, I was disrespectful to boot. But, my mom. She just loved me. She always made me think she wanted me around. She wanted to listen to me. She wanted to hug me. When I lived with her for a short time during college I felt so loved. We would talk until late in the night, cook dinner together, watch movies and have many of my friends over. She made my friends feel loved too. To this day, my mom still loves my friends. 

Thank you, mom, for loving me. For loving my friends, for letting me have 20 girls over for a sleepover at the very last minute, for laughing at my cigar smoking 18 year old self and not freaking out, for laughing at my jokes, for letting me sleep in the floor of your bedroom till I was 16 because I was scared, for praying for the Lord to send me a husband soon (it worked), for praying me through my Algebra final in college, for cheering me on as I finally chose a major and then (gasp!) graduated from college. Thank you for loving my husband, thank you for always hoping for the best in him, thank you for loving Gramm, Vivian and Brooklyn...thank you for sitting and cuddling with them, for laughing at their jokes and for listening to their stories. Thank you for loving our first foster child and never, ever, ever making me feel crazy for wanting more babies even after I had twins. Thank you so much for believing in me. I love you, Mom. I am beyond thankful for you. 

My Ma and her Ma, my Nana, two of my favorite women

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Life with Four Kids

We've had our foster son for over four months now. I am still adjusting to and sometimes fighting against our new normal. I have wanted another little one under our roof for many, many months. It just feels right to have another child in our home, even temporarily. But, it has been so hard. The baby, JJ, is eighteen months old now. He is not a difficult child. In fact, he's pretty laid back. He does give me the occasional slap in the face  or back-bowing fit, but he is easily consoled. He has the best, biggest grin and he gives a bear hug that can make a grown man cry.

It seems like any change or difficulty in life heightens any other problems that were lurking. Having JJ has shown me that I constantly wallow in guilt and fear. Guilt is like my security blanket.I have felt guilty about everything for all of my adult life and most of my teen years. I think I have punished myself by feeling guilty as a substitute for accepting God's grace. It really is easier to brow beat myself than to accept God's forgiveness and let go of my mistakes.

Gramm, Brooklyn, Vivian pouting during the Easter story 
I am still muddling through all of this. Letting go of a lifestyle of guilt is surprisingly hard. Accepting grace for the first time in my life, while parenting four kids is really, really hard. The thing with parenting four kids is that I make a lot of mistakes. I raise my voice. I yell. I don't point my kids to the Father every time they disobey. Most of the time, I say something along the lines of, "Put that down now or you will be in serious trouble!!!"  Spoken through gritted teeth with eyes narrowed down to tiny slits by the end of the sentence. And, I feel so bad about it all. I sit and stew and replay every mistake I made throughout the day until I'm weighed down and in tears. My sweet husband has been so good to point me to Jesus at these times. I am trying to accept grace. I want to be free, but it's slow going and a battle hard-fought. Even though it's hard, it is good. Even in the difficulty, I know we are doing the right thing. Having four kiddos is not easy, but it is worth doing and it is worth doing for the glory of God.

So, if you come to my house, it won't be clean. My children will disobey me at some point. They will try to interrupt our conversation. They will ask to play on your Iphone. I will tell them no and one of them might throw a fit. I will very likely have to leave the room to put a child in time out or have a heart to heart about why we don't strangle our sister. I will use a nice cloth napkin to wipe snot from someone's nose. I might even be really tired or get frustrated with one of my kids right in front of you. My pride will die a slow death as you see that I am not perfect. My home is not perfect, my kids are not perfect.

Brooklyn and Daddy having a chat, most likely about how to behave.

Brooklyn (left), Vivi and me enjoying some late night snuggles.

But, when you come to my house, you will hear the sounds that make up the beautiful chorus of a home filled with children. You will hear the smacking of smooches, the giving of high-fives and the ooohs and aaahs over a flower retrieved for mommy or a grasshopper found in the yard. You will see the smiles on dirty faces and piles of lego shrapnel leading up to one amazing lego creation. You will see a high chair dragged out to the back deck surrounded by baby dolls, teddy bears, blankies and possibly a small shopping cart. You will be welcomed by my kids. They will greet you at the door, or even in the driveway. They will talk about you and your children when you leave. They will look forward to you coming again. And, if you let them, they will hug your neck before you leave. And, the baby...he will walk through the mess with a smile on his face. He doesn't need a perfect mom or a perfect home. He just needs us.

Gramm, Vivian, Brooklyn

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dear Son

I was standing in the kitchen today, and you walked up to me and said, "Mama, I need to show you something." You held up your right arm, supporting it with your left hand. "I'm growing hair on my arm!" You were thrilled. "What do you think this means?" I said. "It means I'm growing into a man," said you, my little man. And you wrapped your arms around my waist and hugged me before running back to your legos.

Tonight, you popped your first wheelie in the driveway. You looked straight at me with a huge smile on your face after your bike slowed. "Well, what did you think?" I said. You said with a HUGE grin on your face; "I loved it! It was great!"  You road around the cul de sac happily and continued popping wheelie after wheelie. At one point, you yelled, "Mama! My wheel got two inches off the ground! It really did!"

I put our littlest guy to bed and gave your sisters a bath while you and Daddy went on a bike ride around the neighborhood. I love that your Dad enjoys spending time with you. You are so FUN! Your Dad told me that when you two were riding that you said, "I like riding and talking with you." When you guys returned, you were out in the garage cleaning your bike. Your Dad had raised the seat for you, aired up the tires and tightened the headset (handlebars to us non-bike people). As you were cleaning you said to your Dad, "I'm gonna make this thing look brand new. I think we need to repaint it. It's kinda dinged up." I love your antics. I don't  want to forget all the cute, funny, profound things you say.

You got to stay up a little late tonight and have some time with just your Daddy and me. Before you went to bed, you came to me and gave me a goodnight hug while insisting, "Kiss and hug, Mama. Kiss and hug." Once again, I was standing in the kitchen. I stopped what I was doing to hug you and give you a smooch. As you were hugging me, you looked up at me and said, "I love hugs from you and you love hugs from me."

Son, you melt my heart. I cannot say how thankful I am to be your mom. I am proud of you. I love you. Thank you for loving me and teaching me about God's love for me.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Twins are 4!

Brooklyn on left, Vivian on right 

 I am still in shock that my sweet girls are four years old. We spent all day Friday celebrating. The girls requested eggs and bacon for breakfast, chick-fil-a for lunch and macaroni and cheese for dinner. They asked for "pink icing" on their cake so I made them a strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese icing. It was divine. We had a great day. We had a quick trip to the zoo in the morning and a nice night at home as a family. I have loved the simplicity of this non-birthday-party birthday. I enjoyed my girls and they had a great time just being home with our crew. We still have JJ (can't post pics of him on the internet) and they loved getting to spend their birthday with him. I am thankful for their laughter, raspy voices and the blessing of their relationship with each other. These girls can definitely fight, but they really, really love each other. And we love them. :) 
fun on the carousel

Vivian on left, Brooklyn center, Gramm right
Blowing out their candle...Gramm used this same candle on his 4th birthday

Singing Happy Birthday to themselves! :) 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quick Update

We still have our precious foster son, JJ. We thought he'd be leaving us fairly soon, but it appears as though he may be here for some time. We are fine with that because we lurve him to pieces. It has been hard to see him just totally melding into our routines and becoming part of our crew knowing that he will not stay with us permanently. DHS' plan has never been for him to stay with us long term, but not many things happen quickly when it comes to foster care. Wish I could post a pic of his cuteness.

Vivi on left, Brook on right
Vivian and Brooklyn are as busy as ever. They love JJ, preschool, and pink. Some funny quotes: one of the Valentine's given to us from Brooklyn said, "I love my mommy and daddy because they let me have candy." Seriously? Is candy her love language? Vivian's Valentine said, "I love my mommy and daddy because they are special." Oh. My heart. Melted. Vivian will lean over to me and say, "I love you very much. You are special, Mommy." Brooklyn has begun talking out the side of her mouth and it is HI-larious.

On a super fun date with mom and dad 

Gramm has transitioned into the most eager to please, loving, happy, but still rough and tumble boy. I honestly never thought we would get here. He is so caring and truly loves other people. He recently told me that he wants to give his allowance away to kids in Haiti who lost their things in the earthquakes. He is my doll baby and told me today that he has had his eye on three girls as potential wives (monogamously, of course). Watch out, people, because he is cute and charming. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

19 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the day that I decided to follow Jesus. I was 12 years old. I am filled with thankfulness for God's continued outpouring of grace in my life. Over breakfast this morning, I was telling the kids why today is special for me. I could tell Gramm was thinking about all this and he said, "Well, I have Jesus in my heart, he lives in everyone's heart." In my own random way, I briefly explained that Jesus lives in our heart if we follow Him . Then, my precious six and half year old looks at me, with plastic pirate sword in hand, and says, "I want to pray to follow Jesus." And, right there at the bar with bowls of granola on all sides, Gramm prayed to follow Jesus all of his days. It was sweet and simple and I will never forget it. Gramm is still very young for such a commitment, but he was nonetheless sincere. I've told him repeatedly to "not let anyone look down on him because he is young, but to be an example for the believers" (1 Timothy 4:12).

In other news, someone in our crew has been sick since the day we got our foster son almost 2 months ago. So, we are laying low and trying to eat nourishing foods and lurve each other without going nuts. Above is a great snapshot of our day: Vivi-tiv playing with play dough (not the knife on the knife magnet, mind you), Five loaves of soaked whole wheat bread cooling on the counter, crockpot cooking us a yummy pork roast from Cove Creek Acres, a huge stack of recipes just crying out "ORGANIZE ME, WOMAN! WHAT ELSE YOU GOT TO DO?", and a thermometer so I can monitor little JJ's recently fevered body. Today has been crazy, but it is so good. I have a three year old sucking her thumb, throwing her leg across my body and saying repeatedly, "I wanna sit on your lap." Gotta go.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But...the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.

I stumbled upon the above quote in October of last year. As I read it, I was convicted about  my selfish attitude toward foster care. Before our home was officially open for foster care, I would often struggle with thoughts of this nature: Will my biological children be neglected because of my foster child? Will I be able to effectively homeschool our children while caring for a foster child? Is it really worth risking the peace in our home by bringing in a child from a less than ideal situation? Do I really want to take care of someone else's child for who knows how long? 

The Lord used the above quote to remind me that foster care is not about me and my desires. Foster care is ultimately about glorifying God with my life. I have this one precious life and I don't want to waste it. I want to be a conduit of God's overflowing, miracle working, heart changing grace. Foster care is about showing the love of Christ to children who need a home. Instead of asking, "What will happen to me if I become a foster parent?" I began asking, "What will happen to these precious little ones that we could have in our home if I don't welcome them with open arms?"

Several days ago, the kids and I took JJ (our foster son) to the DHS office for a family visit. I had all four kiddos with me. The twins and Gramm were clustered around me and I was holding the baby on my hip. There were about 10 people in the lobby of the office.  My three biological children and I were the only white people in the lobby.  I didn't even take note of this until I heard an African American man sitting about 3 feet behind me making racist comments about "white people". I can be a little clueless at times and this was one of those moments. It wasn't until we left the room that I began wondering if those comments were directed at me. I am thankful for the distraction of my children. If they had not all been with me, I wonder if I would have responded. 

I have reflected on this situation quite a bit. I was honestly not offended by this man's unkindness because I know his words are not true. I am not defined by the color of my skin. But, I also realized that it's easy for me to deflect these comments because this was the first time in my thirty-one years of life to experience racism first-hand.  I cannot imagine how very different my life would be if I had to face prejudice or racism on a regular basis. I am thankful that I have been shielded from this type of treatment. I have had to ask myself if I judge others based on appearances. I know that I have been guilty of this at times. 

I pray that God will work in my heart to teach my children to be open and loving toward all types of people. My kiddos will learn this way of living if they see it in me. Lord, please make me more like You. Give me Your eyes to see those around me.