Friday, July 13, 2018

Sabbat: to rest

Have you ever needed a "reset" in your life?  Maybe just a little time to pause, reflect, rest, relax and enjoy the blessings you have been given?

No? So that's just me?

Recently I helped lead a women's Bible study at my church by Priscilla Shirer called Breathe.  The entire study focused around making time for the Sabbath.  The word Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word "sabbat", which literally means "to pause".  By studying the Sabbath, we didn't spend our time talking about a specific day of the week. However, we spent 5-6 weeks digging into how vital Sabbath rest is in our lives.  In fact, it's so important that God gave us an example of its importance right in the very beginning of it all.

God spent 7 periods of time on creation and on that very period of time, what did He do?  He rested. He didn't need rest for Himself. God CREATED rest on that seventh day- for us!  It was an example of what we need.

On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. (Genesis 2:2)

(If you're looking for a great Bible study, I highly recommend this one. It's is about creating space in all areas of your life - not just with time!)

Anyway, life has been crazy lately and I really just needed some time to do all of the above. Pause. Reflect. Relax. Rest. And for the first time ever, I took 2 full weeks off of work.


We borrowed my parent's lake house for a bit, took a few day trips, made a quick trip to the beach, and spent a lot of time together as a family. It was needed and it was great.

And you know?  I'm really learning that the when the Bible tells us that we need something, and when God actually creates that specific thing for us, and when He gives us an example of it Himself, that kinda means it is important.

What does it say about us when we think that we know better than God?  Why are we (Moms especially) so convinced that we need to do more, work more, make more, serve more, sweat more, live more, spend more, or BE more, when God has already told us that He is enough.

We think we can do ALL. THE. THINGS.

  • We're the room moms 
  • We're the schedule keepers
  • We're our kids sports coaches 
  • We always feel like we have to sign up to bring things
  • We make dinner 
  • We teach Sunday school 
  • We take sick kids to the doctor
  • We remember to cut the crusts off the sandwiches
  • We are the taxi driver to all of our kids functions
  • We wouldn't dare miss an awards ceremony 
  • Or a poetry picnic
  • Or a school field trip
  • Or an end of year performance
  • We're the sippy cup filler 
  • We're the birthday party planner 
  • We throw baby showers for our friends 
  • We're the holiday present buyer
  • We bring dinner to the new moms

I mean I'm just stopping there because the list could go ON AND ON AND ON. And that list doesn't even mention our 8-5 jobs, for those of us that work outside of the home too.  

But somehow we think we can do it all and we continue to pack our schedule and our lives with things that don't do anything but wear us out. Sure those are all good and important things, but we can't do them all.  We weren't created to work 24/7.  We need rest.

Because you know what? When we're so busy running from here to there, and doing this and that, we never have a moment to pause and soak in the goodness of God.  We never have a chance to reflect on what He has given us and how He has blessed us.  I don't know about you, but when I'm jumping from one thing to the next, and trying to keep all of the balls in the air, I'm surely not whispering "thank you" to Him.  In fact, my attitude is FAR from thankful.

When we're THAT busy, we're not worshiping him.

So maybe you want to join me in making an effort to create time in our schedules to sabbat, or pause, each week.  Maybe we can't let our kids play 4 sports and take music lessons. Maybe we can't sign up to bring something every time our kid's teacher sends out a request. Maybe we can't coach the soccer team this year. Maybe we need to ask for help (gasp!).  Whatever you have to do to make it work, let's make sure that our lives are not so packed full of things, that we forget what truly matters.

"Sabbath-keeping: Quieting the internal noise so we hear the still small voice of the Lord. Removing the distractions of pride so we discern the presence of Christ." -Eugene Peterson

Sunday, June 24, 2018

K & K's Clubhouse

When Kate was around 1 and a half, we bought a used wooden swing set off of Craigslist. It was perfect - for a 1 year old.  Over the years both Kate and Karsten have loved it, but honestly, they've outgrown it. We kept saying that we would add on to the set, but never really got around to it. Sounds like life, huh?

Well, back in April I was on Facebook and saw someone in my hometown post an ad for a spiral slide for sale for $50.  They are usually hundreds and hundreds of dollars, so I quickly said that I wanted it without even talking to Kevin.  Clearly everyone else saw the value too because the lady told me I was like 10th in line and she'd only posted it 5 minutes earlier!

Anyway, long story short, she sent me a message the next morning and said that they had gotten tons of messages, with people saying that would pay way over the asking price, but since I was next on the list that I was welcome to come get it. Um, yes please.  So after church that morning, Kevin and I drove to pick this slide up.  And then that gave us (Kevin) the motivation to get the swing set addition rolling.

So without further ado, here is Kevin's masterpiece. Karsten has started calling it her Clubhouse.


This was all him.  I mean I helped hold things, and probably put in my opinion a little more than he wanted, but he came up with and basically built it all himself.  The girls are IN LOVE. 

Today after church, we added a little plastic kitchen set and I mean, their faces say it all. (Sorry for the blurry/dark iPhone pic.)




We got them changed out of their dresses and then it was back outside to play. 






Probably one of the best things about this is that the entire thing is in the shade pretty much all day long. I can see lots and lots of fun being had out here over the next few years. 




Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day 2018

I don't often write blog posts about Kevin.  Usually this cyber space of mine is filled with little updates on the girls; their milestones, school progress, and development.  And of course, I give updates about our open adoptions and what those look like since let's be honest, that's probably why most of you are here reading in the first place.

Today is Father's Day though so I want to take a moment to share this guy.  He is my best friend. He's the one that encourages me and motivates me.  He knows that when I have problems, I don't usually want him to give me an answer; I just want him to listen.  He knows that candy is my love language, and he'll fill my snack drawer at work with kit-kats, twix and snickers every busy season. Hey - unless you are a tax accountant, don't judge!  He's my person and today is his day.


Kevin is hands down, the best Daddy ever for Kate and Karsten.  He is a provider for our family and takes care of us in more ways than we can count. He grew up having very little and so his mentality has always been a "do it myself" kind of mentality.  If there is something that he can do (or something that he can look on YouTube and figure out how to do), he will do it.  He is handy.  He will change the oil in our cars, rotate our tires, and do all kinds of car stuff that I know nothing about. He builds swing sets for our girls, tucks them into bed at night, and reads them stories. And the icing on the cake?  He knows how to fix BOTH of their hair in the morning. He's pretty great.  And we love him.




Thursday, June 7, 2018

First Grade Completed!

On Wednesday morning, I drug Kate out of bed for school for the last day of her first grade year. Nearly every school morning has been the same, so I'm pretty concerned at what the teenage years my hold!  It's not like she is a late sleeper, she just doesn't like to be woken up (but who really does??)

She specifically asked to wear a dress for her last day of school.  Love my girly girl!


In the past year, Kate has learned a crazy amount with her awesome teacher.  Her reading level just keeps going up, she loves math, but of course her favorite part of the day is recess!  They've done tons of science experiments and I often find myself riding with Kate in the car and hearing "Mom, did you know __________".  Up until this year, it was usually things that I DID know but lately, the kid knows more than me! 


What a difference a year makes! 


And on the very first day of summer break, Kate was up out of bed and watching TV before my alarm clock even went off.  Typical, huh?  Such is the life with kids.

Happy summer, y'all!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Friday Favorites

I thought I'd do a quick catch-up of some of my favorite things that have been happening around our household in the last few weeks.

First up is the swing set addition.  For a while now, Kevin and I have said that we wanted to expand the swing set because Kate was sort of starting to outgrow it and we knew that Karsten would be in the same situation before too long. I found this purple tube slide on a Facebook buy/sell site for $50 and knew I couldn't pass it up! Because our weekends are always filled with activities (or laundry), we spent a few week nights and got most of the addition built. The girls love it so much! We still have to add a roof (and in this picture, the floor wasn't done yet). When we're finished, there will be sort of a clubhouse on the bottom and they will have a roof on the top.  We're determined to have kids that love to play outside. And even if they don't love it, at least they'll have somewhere to go when we tell them that they HAVE to play outside for a while.


FINALLY it is warm enough to start our after church tradition on Wednesday nights.  Last summer we started taking the girls to get ice cream after church on Wednesdays pretty often. We'll sometimes go to Dairy Queen or Sonic. These pictures weren't on a Wednesday night but just a random weeknight. We'd eaten dinner and Kate had already put on her PJ's to get ready for bed when we told them to go load up in the car. I think they approved.



I lead a women's small group Bible study that meets about 3 times per year.  We do 6-8 week studies and meet in the fall, winter and early summer on Mondays at 8pm. It is such a great time of fellowship. I'm so excited for our upcoming Bible study that starts next week! I can tell you, this is one that I definitely need. I mean just listen to the descriptive of the study: 

Women today are in bondage to busyness. One of the greatest challenges among women in our culture is taking time to cease from all the activities and just breathe. We constantly strive to complete the limitless to-do lists that hinder us from experiencing all that God has for us. This June we'll be starting a 6 week study by Priscilla Shirer called "Breathe" to explore how we can build margin into our lives for God. If you are weary, worn out, and exhausted, the concept of Sabbath will change your life.


Kevin and I are part of a small group for 20's and 30's.  We have been together for so long, this has actually turned into the "20's, 30's and then some" small group since some people have aged out!  Anyway, Kate caught a yucky stomach bug that had been going around and so she and I missed our last meeting before we break for the summer.  It was Mexican night (my favorite!) and thankfully our sweet friends sent home food for me so I didn't miss out!


Karsten has become the queen of excuses for getting out or bed at night.  You name it, she has used it.  On this night she said she needed some cuddles, so who am I to complain about that? I mean she isn't going to want them for too much longer so I better take them while I can and just ignore the fact that it was 10:30pm. 


Kate and Karsten will soon be wrapping up swim lessons for the year and yet again they have had a BLAST.  Here they are, ready for their 2nd to last lesson!


Ever have a song that just speaks to you every single time you hear it? This is one of those for me. I love it. 


Y'all.  Last Wednesday as we were leaving church, I got a taste of the teenage years. I looked over to see Kate (who is SIX), propped up against a car, talking to her friend Connor.  They are 4 months apart in age and go back and forth between being best friends, and fighting like cats/dogs. You'd think they were siblings.  


And that's just a taste of what's going on around here. Life is busy, but FULL in the best possible ways. And just THREE more days till summer break! Woohoo.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Chaos of May

Any parent of a school-aged kid knows that May is non-stop.  Field day, yearbook day, clean out day, awards day, final field trip of the year, last day of _____ (fill in the blank), the start of summer activities, etc.  There is something planned for every day of the month.  All of the activities make for some happy (and exhausted) kids, and it definitely keeps parents on their toes. I call May a "win" if I didn't forget to sign the permission trip or send in the money.

One of Kate's favorite days of May is field day, and honestly it was probably one of my favorite days as a kid too. With all of the rain we have gotten lately, it wasn't looking good for field day to be a reality. However, when the date rolled around, the weather ended up pretty great.

Normally I drag this kid out of bed, but not on this day. Here she is at 7:00 am, bright eyed and ready to go! (Don't judge the hat; she dressed herself. I'm holding out hope that Karsten will be a Clemson fan.)


She also posed herself. :)  Love this girl and her snaggletooth grin!



Friday, May 25, 2018

Pre-School Bound

My girl is officially a Parent's Day Out graduate. Last Tuesday, I walked her in and dropped her off for the very last time. Next year, she will be a preschooler and will get dropped off in the car line like the big kids. 


She is so excited about 3K because "preschool has a hamster!"  I asked her how she knew that and she said that Nina on Nina Needs to Go (a Disney show) has a hamster in preschool.  Preschool already has a lot to live up to! 



Pictures just don't do justice to the amount of growing up Karsten has done over the past year. She is outgoing, loud, crazy, talkative, and has the biggest imagination.  She loves running around barefoot outside, riding her scooter, and anything that requires her to move and run. The girl is never still.


We had no idea how much personality this little girl would bring to our family, but boy, do we sure love her. 




Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mother's Day 2018

These two girls call me Mama and it's one of the best titles I have ever gotten. I love being their mom and am so grateful that God worked the details out to bring them into our family. I couldn't imagine our life without them. 


Every Mother's Day, I try to get Kevin to take a picture of me with the girls.... but he doesn't know how to use my camera except to push the button. Here's a quick picture I got of him with the girls, as I got everything set up for him. Love these three!


And once I got it set up, Kevin was able to get a few special pictures of me with my two best girls. Love these two so much!



Seven years of being a mom have been so sweet. From 2012 to 2018... kids sure grow up quickly!




Monday, May 14, 2018

Sunny Days

My girls.  These pictures are months old at this point, but at the end of each year, I print all of my posts into a book.  I don't want to forget these moments in time, just because I've been too busy to blog.  Life is crazy, but there are so many moments that I don't want to blow past and forget.  Moments like this - my two girls riding on scooter and bikes, with butterfly wings, pigtails, headbands, skirts and toothless grins. 








I know I'll blink and they'll be 12, and these are the moments that I don't want to forget.  


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No More Corn on the Cobb

When my sister and I were younger, if we had a tooth that was even remotely loose, it was going to be coming out that day.  I'm pretty sure I pulled nearly all (if not all) of Kristi's teeth. Sometimes multiple teeth in a day.  True story. Go ask my mom.

This is not Kate's personality though. Kate's top two teeth have been wiggly for a while, but she is the kind of kid that is going to hang onto that tooth until it pops out all on its own. She's lost a few of her bottom teeth but the top ones have stayed in place... until now.

A few weeks ago she and Karsten were playing in the kitchen and bumped into each other. The back of Karsten's head collided with Kate's mouth and after a few tears, Kate realized that her top tooth was now even more wiggly than it had been.  Fast forward to the next day and she came home from school with a tooth that was some how still hanging on, but I have no idea how. She could almost twist it all the way around. We knew it would be coming out that night.




I told her I needed one last picture of her with her top baby teeth. I mean, don't kids just totally lose any remaining piece of that baby face once a top tooth is gone? 

Once it was out, we took an "after" picture.  I feel like she aged 3 years. :(



She was so proud of that gap and was looking forward to showing it off to her teacher and friends the next day at school.  Goodness this girl is growing up quickly.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Open Adoption Update

I get emails from people weekly about adoption and/or what open adoptions really look like.  In fact, just this week I have received 2 emails and a phone call to discuss adoption and openness with them. So, I thought I'd do a little update but also share what our last visit looked like. It was different than any visit we have had in the past because we were able to get BOTH of our girls birth families together.  Kate and Karsten's birth mothers were able to meet for the very first time, which was a huge blessing and I am so excited that we were all able to make this happen! 

So let me back up a minute.  The term "open adoption" is really hard to define.  It obviously involves SOME level of openness between the birth family and adoptive family, but the degree of openness can vary hugely. 

  • It could mean that you exchange pictures back and forth, using an agency or some other 3rd party to deliver them. 
  • It could mean that both families have anonymous email addresses and you correspond back and forth with each other. 
  • It could mean that you exchange phone numbers and call or text back an forth. 
  • It could mean that you are Facebook or Instagram friends. 
  • It could mean you see each other in person regularly. 
  • It could mean that you go to church together, go out to eat afterward, and then go back to your house to let the kids play. 
Openness can mean a lot of different things.  Our level of openness is all of the above.  A few Sundays back, we did the last one on this list.  Kate's birth mom (Lori) was in town with her husband and daughter for an event, and so on Sunday they came to our church.  Karsten's birth mom (Andrea) is pretty local, so she brought her kids over for church also.  We all went to eat at a local pizza restaurant and then afterward, we went back to our house to let the kids all run around and play. 

This is Kate with her baby sister.  See the resemblance?  Crazy, huh!? 


And here is our whole group.  We're family.  Two birth moms, six kids that are all brothers and sisters in one way or another, and then Kevin and me, who are so grateful and thankful that this is the family God created for us. 


Kevin and I will always be so thankful that these two strong, brave women chose to place their baby in our arms. 



Most people look at adoption as a Plan B of sorts.  I'll admit, we likely wouldn't have gone down this path if infertility hadn't been part of our story. But it was. And I've said this before, but looking back I actually view infertility as a blessing because without it, these two little girls wouldn't be who calls me Mama. So to me, adoption wasn't Plan B for our family.  It was Plan A all along, and we just didn't know it. Adoption is, and was, God's best for us.  It's further proof that God can use your brokenness to make something beautiful. 

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