Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Our 5 Year Old Gabriel

Today our precious Gabriel is 5 years old! It is amazing that it has already been that long since we welcomed into our arms. We had just moved into our Louisville house a couple months earlier and still settling into our new routine in our home when he arrived a week and a couple days early. He came in a whirlwind and he has not stopped.

Gabriel is such a spunky go-getter that is always on the move in some form or fashion. He has a strong personality and his reasoning for why something is is because that is what he has decided. His name means "mighty man of God" and he is certainly mighty in his opinion. How we pray for him to become mighty in God, but for now we watch his mighty personality grow and blossom.

Gabriel loves to learn. He is starting a Kindergarten program with our home school and he loves his math! He really enjoys working through books and learning what he can. He talks and shares what he is learning as much as he can. Gabriel is extremely observant and notices all around him. He is a mover that likes to be rocking or writing or chewing at all times. He is excited about learning to read, but his strong personality balks when he doesn't understand. He wants to know and understand right now!

Gabriel loves his family. Whenever someone is missing he asks where his friends are. He loves to play with his siblings and learn with them and from them. While he enjoys moments alone here and there, he really loves to be around people and interact with them. Church is one of his favorite places to go as well as the park; anything where he is with people.

Gabriel is such a big helper. He enjoys learning to cook with Daddy. He helped make his birthday cake. Cleaning with a rag or mop is also fun for him, but he does not like picking up toys.

Gabriel also loves to be outside enjoying creation. He prefers to be barefoot and loves textures on his feet. Climbing and jumping are also big for this active boy.

We are so thankful for Gabriel and the fun dynamic he brings to our family. He keeps life interesting in a good way.

Father, thank You for giving us Gabriel to raise for You. He is such a gift to our family! Please save Gabriel by Your grace and make him Mighty in Your Spirit. May he boldly proclaim Your Gospel to those he sees!

Thank you to Nichole Begerow for the 5 year photos

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Manor Party of 10!

Yes, you read that right. Our family is now a family of 10!!!!!

No one could be more surprised than us, but we are so happy about this special blessing that God has given to us. What's more is this special blessing will be joining us in about a month!!!!!

With all that has happened this year I was extremely stressed out and had no normal pregnancy symptoms and did not even realized until a couple weeks ago that I actually was pregnant! I am now one of those people who can say "I didn't know" and everyone can look at me like I'm crazy. But seriously everything I felt seemed stress related.

What a blessing to make it to 34 weeks without knowing and being able to just do what I need to do!

The kids are so excited about another baby, especially since they have been asking when we would be having another one since we brought Malachi home. James is regularly giving the baby hugs and kisses as well as talking to the baby. Lillian and Reuben also enjoy talking to and feeling the baby. Sometimes Nehemiah will say "Hi Baby" even though he is clearly confused about what is happening.

God is so gracious and good to us! We are so thankful for this added blessing. Though it makes little sense to much of our culture, we are so happy to be on this journey as a large family.

Things are crazy and unpredictable right now, but we know God is working in all of this. Please pray for everything to continue to go smoothly. Pray for health for both baby and me. Pray for my body to go into labor on its own and not need any assistance. Please pray for continued provision! We have gotten what we need thus far, but Jim is still in need of a job. Please pray for God to open doors for this!

We are so grateful to have you on this journey with us. Life with others is so much richer. Thank you for being a part of our life!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our 6 Year Old Reuben

Today marks 6 years since we welcomed Reuben into our arms. How time has flown and how much he has grown. He was our first baby born in Louisville after following God's call to go to seminary. It was a blessed surprise as we found out a few months after moving that we would be welcoming our 3rd child, and life has not been the same since.

Reuben has such a sweet personality and is very mild mannered. Extremely sensitive, it takes little to hurt his feelings, but he is also very tough when wrestling with Daddy and his brothers. He aims to please in most of what he does; a true perfectionist at heart. He is such a balance to his very active, rough and tumble younger brothers.

Reuben's favorite thing to do is school work. He loves to learn and figure out problems. When he's not doing school work he loves to build/create with blocks, Legos or magnets, play Lego Star Wars with Daddy or watch a good movie. He also loves playing with his siblings and is a very caring brother. Though he loves his siblings, Reuben also likes to be alone. He can sit and build for hours alone when the mood strikes him. It is such a blessing to have a child who loves being with people and being alone. He also enjoys one on one time with people, especially Daddy!

Reuben is pretty go with the flow. For the most part he is taking this unknown season in stride and helps to keep smiles all around. We are so blessed with Reuben in our family and so thankful God has given him to us.

Father, thank You for giving us precious Reuben. He is such a blessing! I pray You will make him a man after Your own heart, saving him by Your great grace in the Name of Your Son, Jesus. I pray You show him the depths of sin and how much he needs You to be truly good. Make him humble and a man who follows You to the ends of the earth. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Malachi is 1!

How can it be that 1 year ago Malachi joined our family outside of the womb?

So much has happened in our lives and he has grown so much. Malachi is such a ball of energy and full of fun. He started out life keeping us guessing and he still keeps us guessing. He has such an adventurous spirit and wants to explore in everything he is not supposed to get. With great speed he zooms to open doors to see if he can get out of them.

Malachi is a happy, smiley kid who loves to play and wrestle. He makes us smile and laugh, with his bold, belly laugh. He follows the older siblings around wanting to do everything they do. His older siblings love to take care of him, especially James and Lillian.

Malachi is great at crawling and learning to stand on his own, but still unsure on his feet. Yesterday he discovered clapping and it was such a pleasure to watch him enjoy this new found skill. He loves to eat and feed himself, but he is not so sure about the cup. He still prefers a bottle. Thankfully he eats most things, but seems like he is going to be a carb lover! Like the rest of our kids, Malachi enjoys music and I think will enjoy clapping and dancing with music soon.

I am so thankful for the blessing of our 7th child. Malachi adds so much to our family.

Father, thank You for Malachi. Please soften his heart toward You, even now at his young age and save him by your great grace. Make him a messenger of the Gospel of grace and teach him about your great love. Make him wholly Yours!

I'm 1!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Humble Roots

Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson is a must read by anyone who is a Christian! It was super convicting, challenging and comforting. It is a beautiful look at who we are, who God is and uses nature to help us to understand deep truths. Hannah has a very personal touch that is extremely relatable, and brings it home with the truth of God's Word.

In a culture of independence, Hannah reminds us of our dependence on God. The intro has this quote that I think sums up heart of what she is teaching well:

"We must never forget that looking like God does not mean we are God. We are made in His image, but we are made nonetheless."

Hannah's writing style is very easy to read and easy to follow. This is a book that men and women of all ages can read, relate to and learn from. I cannot recommend this book enough. I read this in January and I already need to read it again!

5  Stars for this wonderful, Spirit filled book.

Friday, July 21, 2017


I read Frankenstein as part of my Back to the Classics this year, in the category of Gothic or horror classic.

This is a book I have wanted to read for quite a while, and it was a really good read. I was pleasantly surprised by this read as I had heard things here and there about this book and wasn't really sure I would like it. It was a very good book and extremely interesting.

I loved the depth of the book and the narrative of the story. It was clear and easy to follow. What I enjoyed the most was the clear spiritual journey that was being worked through as Shelley wrote this fiction work. You could see her wrestling with who she is, who God is, how everything in life is connected. I greatly enjoyed seeing this struggle and allowing this to let me work through things. From the beginning to end it is a clear story.

I really appreciate the ownership of the story being told in first person and the full circle of the story. It begins with a narrative of finding Frankenstein and comes back around to him in the end. It also overlaps the stories and has stories within stories. You can feel the depth of emotion as the stories connect and how all of the characters are deeply connected.

I also enjoyed the writing style. It was easy to read, which is always nice. I really appreciated how she explained the development of the monster in a really basic way. The story-telling was such that even a young person could understand but sophisticated enough to hold the attention of an adult.

I would give this book 4 stars.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Drive

Sunday afternoon, our family loaded up after 7 years in Louisville to drive back to GA. For this move I needed to drive to GA in the car alone. This was my choice, but I'm more comfortable with the car than the van on long drives.

Having my entire family driving in our large 12-passenger van in front of or behind me got to me a little bit. When you're alone it's easy to let your mind get crazy, and Satan likes to take the opportunity to make you think the worst.

A very good friend of mine was killed in a car crash on a family trip in a similar style van. Satan was playing with my mind thinking that could be my family while I was safely in my car. I prayed for protection, fought these terrible thought, but it was a struggle.

And then, just after we got on the interstate for the last leg of our trip, I saw the top of a rainbow peeking over the mountain. God began speaking to my heart, reminding me of His promises to be with us no matter what! We go around the mountain and the rainbow is stretched across the sky. I broke. God met me in that moment. The promises filled my mind and I knew that we would make it, but even if we didn't I would be OK.

That's when the rain drops fell out of a brilliant, sun-filled sky. A friend once told me  that rain is God showering His blessings on us, and that is what God brought to my mind. He was there, blessing me with life, with safety in that moment, with family, with Himself.

This is the God I serve. The God who is all powerful, the Creator of the universe and is still right there with me in a moment of fear and speaking to my frail and fragile heart. God is good. He is merciful when He doesn't have to be. He met me where I was ans spoke peace to me.

Where is God meeting you today?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

7 Years in Louisville, A Chapter Closed

7 years ago, our family of 4 loaded up with my parents and our great friends, Winston and Anna, and took a leap of faith to move to Louisville, KY for Jim to attend seminary.

Today, our family of 9 is loading up with my parents and taking a leap of faith to move back to Smyrna, GA.

7 years to the day! It's incredible that it's been 7 years. So much has happened. So much has changed.

In the Bible, the 7th year is the year of Jubilee. 7 is the number of completion. 7 is the number of rest. It is quite a significant time period, in the Biblical narrative. And today it is significant to us.

I'm still digesting what all of this means, but when I think about it, my soul leaps. God, in His perfect ways, had us here 7 years. It has been good. It has been hard. At times it has been terrible. But in all of it God has been growing us, teaching us, conforming us to the likeness of His Son.

At 5 years we had no idea what was to come because everything was different from what we expected. Even as we prayed over what to do next, we honestly thought we would stay here until we were ready to go overseas. But during this last year God made it clear, we would be moving back to GA and rejoin our church family there. We still hope to go overseas one day. But God clearly has more work to do on us and for us to do here.

And we are OK with that.

Why? Because it's about God's Kingdom and God's Glory and doing what He calls us to do. We are excited for the next adventure as we return home and to see what God is going to do.

We have been so blessed to be in Louisville. Sojourn is a wonderful church. Home For His Glory has helped us navigate homeschooling. Southern was wonderful for delving deeper into the academic side of our faith. I will miss being able to get anywhere in the city in 30 minutes or less. We will miss the local food. We have made incredible friends that have forever touched our family.

Now to reconnect with friends who have cared for us from a distance, acclimate to heavy traffic, become active at FBC Smyrna, discover a new homeschool community and find what God has planned for us in Smyrna. Here is to the next ____ years, as we follow God on this adventure of a blessed life He has given us in Jesus!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Our 2 Year Old Nehemiah

These past 2 years have flown by! Our 6th baby joined us in a whirlwind on June 28, 2015. It was such a wonderful birth and a beautiful time for our family.

Today Nehemiah is a spunky little boy, and every bit a 2-year-old! He loves exploring and thinks he is a big boy. He heads outside to the yard when he wants and say, "Bye. Love you!" in a way that melts my heart. He says siblings names and tries his best to communicate, but does not want to be corrected. Once you understand him and repeat what he says, he responds, "OH!" instead of trying to say it right. Nehemiah loves to be outside and loves anything that moves. Airplanes and trucks are his current favorites.

Nehemiah is getting opinionated with his eating and only eats what he thinks is good. He hates to have his food taken though and screams whenever Malachi tries to take it. He will tell you what you think and will tell you continuously until he is sure you understand.

Being the 6th of 7, Nehemiah is tough, but still sensitive. He really enjoying being with his siblings outside. He likes to dance and will often break it down with no prompting at all. His smile and laugh are contagious, and he often looks like he is up to something. It's fun to watch his wheels turn and see him figure out things.

I am so thankful that God has given Nehemiah to our family. Even when he is driving me crazy, he is God's reminder to me that He is the One that comforts my soul and always hears the prayers of His people, even when His answers may not be what we were wanting.

Father, thank You for Nehemiah! Save his precious soul by your grace and let him be Your comfort and help to those around him. Let him be Your hands and feet to those who are hurting. Use Nehemiah in mighty ways for Your Kingdom and Your Glory!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bible Journaling with Kids

I confess, I am not super artistic when it comes to coloring and drawing, but my kids are. I have always thought of trying to find ways to help my kids grow in their creativity as well as help them in learning Bible. Our family is also in a time of huge transition and much of our creative supplies and Bibles are packed.

I learned about The Holy Mess Trust in the Lord Bible Journaling Kit and a light bulb went on. This is a great way to introduce my kids to Bible Journaling with little supplies! There are Bible verses that you can use for your margins that are great for coloring and teaching Scripture at the same time.

For my writers they can also start learning calligraphy! What a fun way to practice handwriting in a way that doesn't feel like it! I'm also excited to introduce my olders to the journaling pages. I have tried to teach them about journaling what they are reading, but it always seems to go over their heads. With 4 short concise boxes they can write down the passage they read, what they're thankful for, prayer requests for the day and do artwork to emphasize what they read. I hope this will help them learn and take to heart what they are reading in their Bibles!

I'm so thankful for the diversity of this kit and look forward into delving into it more with my kids!

For more ideas check out The Holy Mess Bible Journaling Facebook group!

How would you use this kit with your kids?

*Post contains affiliate links

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bible Journaling Novice

Bible Journaling has become quite popular recently. It has intrigued me, but, to be honest, I struggle with the idea of drawing in my Bible! I do not even highlight in my Bible anymore! I write it all down in my journal or on cards.

I recently connected with Sara Borgstede at The Holy Mess, through a blog party, and saw her Trust in the Lord Bible Journaling Kit. What I loved about this kit is that it is designed for you to use either in a Bible or other journal, which helped me to realize it's not just about writing in your Bible, it's about expressing what you read in a creative way so that it sticks with you.

This is what I need!

I also love the calligraphy practice pages! This is something I have wanted to learn, and I now have an easy way to do this.

I'm still at the beginning of learning about it, but wanted to share her Trust in the Lord Bible Journaling Kit with you as it is on sale this week! June 21st-26th it is on sale for $18 (normally $21) to help others with their Bible Journaling journey as well.

You can also join her Facebook Group and get ideas from her and other experienced Bible Journalers as well as ask questions and share your creations!

Where are you in Bible Journaling? Novice? Expert? Share your experience below.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

An Angel in Dairy Queen

Recently life has been trying. Our family is in a season of waiting. God made it clear that after Jim graduated from seminary He wanted us to move back to GA and fully rejoin our church in Smyrna.

And we are still here.

Our house has been on the market close to 2 months with many showings but nothing coming from them, though we live in a desirable area and have a lot of space for our area of town. We have cleared out and done a lot of work to make it "show ready" even with 7 kids running around. We have done all we can. What is God doing?

Friday I lost it. I have struggled for awhile with fully trusting God and believing that He will really take care of us and do what is best, and it finally came to a head. I cried out, "God what are you doing? What am I missing? What else do I need to do? Where are you?"

With all of this I have also struggled with being told, in not so many words, that our kids are too much, a burden, or my problem in various ways. I know from God's Word this is not true and I feel like I have to fight all the time for my family. "God, why do people think we are a burden? Why are we left alone?"

That afternoon we had a showing at dinner time and went to Dairy Queen for a fun treat for the kids. Weary from my cries Jim and I sat surrounded by our kids feeding them when I man comes to fill his drink next to our table. I noticed right away he had a Bible in his hands. He asked, as many do, "Are all these kids yours?" What comment were we going to get this time?

"Yes, they are," Jim and I affirmed.

"Wow, That's amazing!" He replies with a smile on his face. "Well, I just want you to know that Jesus loves you!"

I looked at my food and said, "I know." But the truth was, I didn't know. I should know, but I didn't. But at that moment God affirmed to me, "I hear your cries. You are not forgotten. I love you and I will take care of you."

The man said something else positive about our family size, blessed us and walked away.

We will likely never see him again. God just sent him to tell me He loved me. Why would He do that?

Because He hears the cries of His people. Our hearts matter to Him. He wants us to trust Him and follow Him even when He appears silent or immobile. He is not. He is moving, working, speaking. And He is doing that for me, while still working His will.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Year 13

Today, Jim and I have been married 13 years. 

I don't even know where to begin. We were young and had no idea the adventure God would lead us on. Nursing school, working as nurses, having 2 kids before moving to Louisville, Seminary and full time work, 5 more kids, buying a house, struggles, learning what it is that God really wants for us.

We are clearly still in the last of these things. We are still in the great adventure of marriage and family with God.

This year has been a year of great growth but also struggle as we sought what God was leading us to after graduation. Right now God is teaching us how to work together, seek Him together, talk through what we are thinking, feeling, experiencing and sharing who we really are. We are still learning this. In fact, after 13 years, we are still in the early phases of learning.

But that is life isn't it? Especially the Christian life. At 34 and 33 and 13 years into marriage we are still in the early stages of, learning how to navigate this life with God as our head. Most of what we have learned this year is how to truly love each other the way God has designed so that we will be a reflection of Jesus and the church to a lost and dying world, the whole purpose and design of marriage.

Today, by God's grace, we are closer to this than we have ever been before, but we still have a long way to go.

Father, thank You for 13 years of marriage, 13 years of growing in knowledge of You and how You love us. Please continue to grow us in You. Grow us in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control using our marriage to do this. Help us to teach our kids and others. Use us and our marriage for Your Kingdom and Your Glory! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Birthday Jim! (Year 34)

Happy 34th Birthday to my Hubby Jim!!!!!

It's such a blessing to be able to celebrate another birthday with God's blessing to me. This year as been a year of great growth for him and it has been exciting to watch Jim grow in the knowledge of the Lord and become more like Jesus. I am so grateful that God has given him to me to love and respect as we grow together in unity.

It has been an extra blessing to be able to have a nice family day on Jim's birthday this year. When your birthday falls on a holiday it makes it much easier to have a low key day. We enjoyed IHOP with a nice birthday coupon, family game time and hanging out together.

I look forward to, by God's grace, celebrating many more birthday's with Jim. It's such a blessing to see him enjoying life more and more as God shows us how much life really means for those who have placed their faith in Jesus.

Father, please continue to teach Jim and grow him into the likeness of Jesus. Thank You for loving Jim and calling him to Yourself and giving him true life and reason to celebrate. Please give him many more birthdays with our family! In Jesus's Name, Amen

Friday, May 19, 2017

Master of Divinity

Nearly seven years ago, our family loaded up a truck and headed to a new adventure in Louisville, KY, for Jim to work on his Master of Divinity degree. Today marks the end of that adventure.

After seven years, 95 credit hours, and 5 kids, 
Jim now has his Master of Divinity degree!!!!!

It was been a long and challenging road with much growth, but it has been good. God has taught both of us through this time and we have grown closer to God, closer to each other and closer to our kids. These have been the most important things since coming here.

Along with this we have learned more Bible, Theology, Hermeneutics, Greek, Hebrew, and Missiology. We have learned about community and family. We have learned to love more, grieve with others and how to share life with those around us. We have learned a LOT, and yet we still have so much to learn. The more we have learned the more we have learned what we don't know. And as we move forward we pray to keep learning more and more, until it is time for us to go home.

It has been a day of great celebration and we are so proud of Jim! 

We are so grateful for this time God has given to us to grow and learn. 

We are also thankful for those who have prayed for, loved and supported us on this adventure, and look forward to where God will lead us next. Right now we are waiting for God to bring the right buyer for our house so that we can return to our home city and be a part of our home church until God tells us what is next.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Usborne People of the World

This book was a part of our history and culture studies in Core B of our Sonlight curriculum.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. It gives a good basic overview of people around the world including language, town or city set up, religion, foods, money and other things that are part of daily life. My kids really enjoyed reading this together and learning about people around the world. It was a good way to talk about differences and learning to love others who are different than us.

My only problem with the book was their description of Christianity and Christians. Though it was correct on most tenants there were some major flaws in explaining what it truly is. It described more cultural Christianity.

4 stars for this book.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

I'm a way behind on book reviews! The kids and I read this at the beginning of our school year as part of our Core B curriculum with Sonlight.

It is was a good read aloud with the kids and very easy to understand and talk about. The story line I think is a familiar one following Wilbur the pig as he is saved by Fern, sold to her uncle and then rescued from slaughter by his clever friend, Charlotte the Spider. This is our second time reading this as a family and it was more fun reading it with the kids this time as they seemed to better understand what was going on. Having seen the movie with people it was also fun to compare and contrast them to each other.

Though this is not personally one of my favorite books, I do think it is clearly written and is a great family read for most ages, depending on the sensitivity of the kids. What I enjoyed the most was watching a friendship blossom in the true meaning of the word friendship. I also enjoyed that it did not have a super happy ending, that there was room for tears as Wilbur had to still face the reality of life.

3 stars for this book

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Parent Trap by Erich Kastner

My wonderful hubby got this book for me for my birthday, as I have been wanting to read it since realizing one of my childhood favorite movies is based on it. It was also a perfect fit for this year's Back to the Classics Challenge for classic in translation.

Like both movies the book begins at a camp where 2 identical girls, Luise and Lottie, meet and have no idea how they could look so much alike. As they talk to each other they come to realize they are twins who were split up by their parents and make plans to switch places. But this is where the similarities to the movies ends! The book is based in Germany and Austria, where the girls live. There interactions from the beginning, though full of question and wonder, is mostly civil and the quickly get along without the help of an isolation tent. We see them each with their parents and the parents are VASTLY different than the parents portrayed in either movie. The father is a famous conductor in Vienna and has almost no time for his girl. The mother lives alone with her daughter and is not wealthy or surrounded by family. But this adds to the story line in my opinion. What is even better is these girls spend almost a full semester with the opposite parent before they know what is going on! The way the swap is figured out is so much better and more interesting than the movies.I was so shocked by the difference but really do believe the story is better for them.

Because it's translated I have no real view on the style, but the translation I read was a quick and easy read. Overall I enjoyed this book.

4 stars

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripkin

Jim and I read this book together as part of our School of Missions training and it was incredible. Everyone needs to read this book, especially if you are a Christian. If you are a Christian and you read this book and are not moved or challenged, you seriously might want to examine your heart.

This book follows Nik Ripkin and his family from the beginning, to going to work full time in Africa, to interviewing Believers around the world to understand better the breadth and width of God and what He is doing. The name of the book is so appropriate, because from a short sighted human perspective, God appear to be insane. But what this book reminded me of in story after story is that God sees the whole picture and He is using whatever means necessary to bring His Kingdom on earth and bring Himself glory as the Lord and Creator of the Universe.

The stories of seeing how God has moved, and is moving, at different times and in different places just rocks you to the core. This book seriously challenged me in what am I willing to give and give up for God. Currently, it really does not take much to follow God, at least it appears that way, in our culture. But our Brothers and Sisters around the globe risk everything to be able to worship our God, to live a Godly life and be who He created them to be.

On of my favorite quotes in this book comes from a man Nik interviewed, I believe, in Russia. He said, "I took great joy that I was suffering in my country so that you could be free to witness in your country. DON'T YOU EVER GIVE UP IN FREEDOM WHAT WE WOULD NEVER GIVE UP IN PERSECUTION - AND THAT IS OUR WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!"

How easily I give up my freedom to witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! How easily I complain in my suffering! This is just a glimpse of the stories that show us how, even when we have religious freedom, to take up our cross and follow Jesus where ever He leads.

10 stars for this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Our 7 Year Old Girl

Happy 7th Birthday to our precious, Lillian! 

It is so hard to believe that our only daughter is 7. Her birth was such a miracle, and today she is a lively, vibrant, active and fun young woman. Everyday she surprises us with how much she is learning and growing. She loves to learn. She is excellent with time and scheduling. God has made her a natural time keeper and given her a desire for order (at least in the area of schedule).

Lillian loves the kitchen! Cooking, baking, eating, she enjoys all of it. She makes lunch almost everyday and does as much dinner prep as she can. When we cook breakfast, she is right there helping. She wants to learn how to bake everything.

Lillian loves to learn and memorize. She is always reviewing facts to make sure she has things correct. Her favorite subject is spelling, but she works hard at all subjects. She is a hard worker and enjoys getting work done in a timely manner so she has time to do other things she enjoys, like baking, coloring and being outside.

Singing and dancing is also a big favorite of Lillian's. At co-op she really enjoyed learning ballet. We are learning hymns and she is all about learning every verse. She enjoys playing the Just Dance video games with the family. Lillian also loves to sing with songs on the radio or the Ipod. Some of her favorites are "Dry Bones", "Oceans" and "What a Beautiful Name."

It is such a blessing to see this beautiful girl growing up.

Father, I pray that you will save Lillian and make her a woman after Your heart. I pray she will love You and seek You with all of her heart. Help us to teach her how to use her gifts, talents and strengths for Your Kingdom and Your glory. May she lead others to You by the way she lives her life.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Our 3 Year Old Sam

It's been 3 years since we welcomed our 5th child, Sam. How much has happened since then! We are so thankful to have this precious boy in our family. With Sam you have to laugh. He is so full of life and has such a big personality. He loves to talk and will talk to you about anything. You cannot always understand because he gets so excited and talks so fast, but he is so fun to listen to.

Even though he is not in school yet, Sam has a great love of learning. During school time he likes to pull out his journal and "write" in it. He is learning his alphabet and numbers and loves every minute. He is learning Bible verses with us doing Bible time, which is precious to hear. It is such a joy to watch him love learning.

Sam is also a very active boy. He loves to play outside with his siblings. He loves to wrestle and sword fight. He loves to sing and dance. He loves hugs. Anything physical he enjoys so much.

Sam enjoys coloring and watching movies in his quiet time. He also enjoys reading books with Daddy, Mama or an older sibling. He is a big snuggler and is so snuggly when he is sleepy.

We love this little boy so much and he is growing up so fast! God knew what He was doing with He gave us our precious Sam.

Father, Thank You for giving us Sam. Please save him and make him into a man after Your own heart. Show him how to be like Jesus, to serve and pray and love others. Let him love You with all that he is and love his neighbor as himself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Our Oldest is 8!

Today our oldest, James, turned 8 years old. Though he is the first I can tell we're already entering a new phase. James is such a fun and exciting boy, but he is now entering those preteen years where he is beginning to come into his own. He's wanting to be called James and is testing it out (much like one of his parents) and is seeking out what he can be independent in. He loves school and learning, except his math facts. He really enjoys reading, drawing and overall being creative. This past week for fun, James began reading The Hobbit and telling me all the ways it is different than the movie! I love his amazing mind. God has given him such an incredible brain and I'm excited to see what God does with it.

James really loves his baby brothers and taking care of them. He always asks to get them out of bed, he feeds them and has started changing diapers. He is really preparing to be a father. He very much desires to have a family, which is so fun to see. When you ask him how many children he wants, he answers, as many as God gives me! What amazing faith! I pray God will continue to move in his heart and teach James to follow Him where ever He leads with great faith and without fear.

The most amazing growth we have seen in James this year is spiritually. He has been reading the Bible on his own, memorizing Scripture like never before, asking questions about anything he can think of related to Bible and theology, and growing in prayer. It is such a blessing to see God's hand working in your child! He obviously has a long way to go and battles with other fears, but God uses those opportunities for us to teach James about God's character and our flesh and the battle that we face.

We have been so blessed with James the last 8 years and look forward to many more years with him!

Father, please continue to move and grow James for your glory and to bring your Kingdom here on Earth. Give him a deep faith and show him how much he needs you to live. Please, let him love You more than anyone or anything and seek you in everything! Thank you for such a precious boy. Please make him into a man after Your own heart! In Jesus's Name, Amen!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Year 33

Today I celebrated 33 years of life! It's really quite unbelievable to me, but there it is. What most struck me today is I'm the same age Jesus was when he was crucified. It definitely caused me to pause and reflect. Jesus fulfilled His purpose on earth in this year. He died for the sins of the world. He died for me. It's sobering isn't it?

And yet, more than ever, I want to celebrate and rejoice. Why? Because of Jesus's 33 years on Earth, I can have a full life in Him, with Him, not only now, but into eternity. I have eternal life because of what Jesus did for me! How awesome and amazing is that!?

Year 33 has been wonderful, hard, fast and full of growth. I know my Savior and my God more deeply than I have ever known Him. Jim and I are closer than we have ever been. EVER! I have 7 beautiful children. I've learned how to love deeper, forgive more, trust God even when it doesn't make sense, be open, be unafraid to just ask, and really see people as people. I still have a LONG way to go in many of these areas, but by God's grace I'm more like Jesus today than I was yesterday. I am blessed beyond measure!

Father, thank You for 33 years of life. Thank you for sobering me, humbling me and yet still giving me reason to rejoice. You are the giver of life and You have filled mine to the brim. I'm so thankful that I am Yours and You are mine. Thank You for teaching me, growing me and never, NEVER giving up on me. Please continue to teach me to do the same. Thank You for another year and may every year be more amazing and full, until You call me home.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Two More Reading Challenges

As if I don't have enough going on in my life, I have two more reading challenges that I also want to work through during the year. Yes, two more! No I'm not crazy, I just want this to be a year of reading over TV. I really do enjoy reading a LOT and I want us to chose reading over watching generally speaking. I'm not holding myself to strict guidelines or anything, but having other challenges helps me to think about other things I want and/or need to read.

Full disclosure: I will be using some books on multiple challenges because one is crazy with 104 books for the year! So I may not get all of those, but I'm going to try. :)

If you want to join me you can follow the links below:

The 2017 Christian Reading Challenge with Tim Challies

2017 Christian Reading Challenge for Christian Women on Young Wife's Guide
There is one for men linked on this site as well that Jim is planning to participate in!

Both of these sites have PDFs that you can print off and keep track of what you're reading! Perfect for this check list perfectionist. :)

I have seen another challenge on a different blog that I may check out at some point too! This is merely to stretch myself and challenge myself to read more. And I always do better when there is something to challenge me.

So what about you? What reading challenges are you doing this year?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Back to the Classics Challenge 2017

Time for getting Back to the Classics again! Thankful to Books and Chocolate for hosting this challenge. So now time to figure out what to read for each category. A few of my books will fit in more than one category, so choosing where to put them is tricky since I haven't chosen all of my books as of yet. Below are the categories for this year and underneath are some of the books I'm considering. If you have recommendations for a particular  category or suggestions on how to arrange them, please share! 


1.  A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

3.  A classic by a woman author

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category also. The Taming of the Shrew

An romance classic. I'm pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads. Frankenstein

8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two CitiesThree Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc. 

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

12. A Russian Classic2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author. 


Frankenstein- fits in 3 categories, but likely will be used for Gothic or horror classic
A Canticle for Leibowitz- Will likely be used for an award-winning classic
Out of the Silent Planet- Probably 20th century classic
Perelandra- no idea just have it and would like to read it
That Hideous Strength- again not a clue
Taming of the Shrew- Classic before 1800 OR
Pilgrim's Progress- Classic before 1800 
Sherlock Homes?
Treasure Island
Anna Karenina- Russian Classic

That's what I have so far! I may omit some this year and use them next year if I find others that will fit the categories better. In put welcomed!

So where are you in your classics? Will you join the challenge?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Blessings

January has been full, but full of good things as God shows us Himself and teaches us to trust Him in all things. He opens doors, gives grace, peace and love, and shows us how He is in control of all things even when it seems things make no sense at all. Here are a few ways God has blessed our family this month.

  1. Great Sunday Sermon on First Things First
  2. God stirring our hearts
  3. Being challenged to take advantage of our freedom
  4. New Year's Gifts
  5. Learning to dream together
  6. Fun family time
  7. Bible time with kids
  8. Reading
  9. Nehemiah praying
  10. Jamey working diligently
  11. Time with Lillian
  12. Becca coming over
  13. Seeing Mandy
  14. Sam's tooth still doing well
  15. Over half off Chick-fil-A
  16. Jim talking to his mom
  17. Aldi pizza
  18. Homemade blueberry scones
  19. Stretching CG time
  20. Day with the Vander Weert family
  21. Lillian playing well with Clarity
  22. Sharing hearts
  23. Encouragement
  24. Time to talk to Brit
  25. Working with Jamey
  26. Enjoying the snow fall
  27. Cleaning up the kitchen
  28. Talking with God
  29. Getting good news from Brit
  30. Being on the same page
  31. Time to talk with Sarah S
  32. Being encouraged and affirmed in what God is telling us
  33. Date night at Arby's
  34. Enjoying time with Jim
  35. Doing a lot of reading
  36. Sleep
  37. Jim growing in baking
  38. Kids playing well together
  39. No TV!
  40. Working our minds
  41. Starting new books
  42. Great sermon on One Master and purpose
  43. Clearing out email
  44. Starting School of Missions
  45. Meeting new people
  46. Kids excited about class
  47. Jim home early from class
  48. 6 kids at the table
  49. Sharing my heart at book club
  50. Laughing
  51. Nehemiah learning nose
  52. Tickles
  53. Time with my kids
  54. Good school day
  55. Time with Julianne and Joyanna
  56. God's movement
  57. Nehemiah holding hands to pray
  58. Time with the Gunns
  59. Home made tacos
  60. Class getting canceled
  61. Moving the shelf at the bottom of the stairs
  62. Good work time
  63. Going to bed at 9
  64. Going through the closet
  65. Meeting Nina
  66. Selling a book
  67. Finishing the week strong
  68. Talking to Bec
  69. Time with the Felix family
  70. Homemade mac and cheese
  71. Dippin' Dots!!!!!
  72. Jim meeting with James
  73. Dealing with emotions together
  74. Looking at reading lists
  75. Learning together as a family
  76. Finishing Frankenstein
  77. Ordering more books
  78. Relaxing afternoon with Jim
  79. Hearing what God is doing in Asia
  80. Sharing wedding pics with the kids
  81. Nehemiah singing "Be Thou My Vision"
  82. Talking to Mom
  83. Getting 6 chapters edited in my book
  84. Time with Reuben
  85. Going to the pool
  86. Boys doing well at the doctor
  87. God's protection in unusual ways
  88. $10 coupon from a stranger
  89. Gabriel sitting with Jim at CG
  90. New people
  91. Sharing the good
  92. 3.5 hours of overtime
  93. Being reminded of the joys of flexible schedules
  94. God's provision
  95. Spiritual conversations with Jamey and Lillian
  96. Productive day without Jim at home
  97. Experience Norwex meeting
  98. Winning 3 prizes!!!
  99. Seeing Jessica
  100. Meeting Katie- in business with her husband and has 6 kids
  101. God affirming more of our direction
  102. Fillings going smoothly
  103. Starbucks
  104. Rising without alarm clock
  105. Really yummy lunch
  106. Talking about Plexus with Becca
  107. Working through what God wants
  108. Excellent sermon on suffering
  109. Interesting connections with Lee
  110. Getting all 7 kids to and from church by myself
  111. Taco Bell
  112. Time to work on overdue things
  113. Dr. Gregg Allison at School of Missions
  114. Seeing Heather
  115. Dealing with heart issues
  116. God working in Jim's heart
  117. Cooking together
  118. Gabriel having time with Jim
  119. Planning for the next day
  120. The Spirit speaking to me
  121. Time to write out some thoughts on business
  122. Pumpkin muffins
  123. Working through business desires and ideas with Jim
  124. Ice cream cones
  125. Good paycheck
  126. Tara available to help with blog set up!
  127. Plexus Ambassador
  128. Great first day of co-op
  129. Friends
  130. Connecting
  131. Sharing
  132. Meeting new people
  133. Jim being tech support
  134. Winning Usborne money!!!
  135. Roger helping with the dishwasher
  136. Learning about more business opportunities
  137. God moving
  138. Great reminder of need for diversity
  139. Taking a nap
  140. People asking about business
  141. Praying with Jim
  142. Feeling more awake
  143. Learning to repent to my kids
  144. Learning to fight the flesh
  145. Fleshing out heart emotions

January Evaluation

  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- Yes! It's not always at one time, but I'm getting this in each day so far
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- Thank you, pumping! Yes this happened daily this month
  • Memorize verses with the kids - We have done 3 verses this year so far, I'm confident in 2 :)
  • Have extended prayer times 4 times during the year- Jim had his first of the year this weekend. Need to get the rest scheduled
  • Read Christian books (Jim- 13 (not school related), Emmie- 26)- We read "The Insanity of God" together for our first of the year, and Emmie read "Humble Roots" 
  • Teach Kids 12 Hymns this year- We have worked on "Be Thou My Vision" and have the majority memorized
  • Pray together daily- Yes! Though we need to work on praying before we collapse in bed and more concentrated prayer times 
  • Go out for a date once a week- We did most weeks, though last week ended up off and had a date night in
  • Go on a night away once this year- Have a weekend away planned for March thanks to Emmie's parents! Ready for it to come. 
  • Read 2 books together this year (read one day a week)- We read "The Insanity of God" together for school of missions and have done some sort of reading together one day a week, except 2 weeks ago
  • Discuss plan weekly on Saturday afternoon- We're still not doing very well with this, and it shows. 
  • Spend 15 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- We are doing this sporadically. We're really wanting to work towards this apart from school time, but they are getting this with school lessons currently
  • Special Outing Alone once during the year with each child (hopefully during birthday month)- None this month, just routine outings
  • Family fun activity once a month- Family day at the pool and eating out, The parents were more excited than the kids, but 4 of the kids gave the big pool a go!
  • Write in individual journals at least 4 times this year- We're on track for this
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- There were grand plans to get this finished in the next 5 months, but sadly I think it will have to wait until the 2nd half of the year
  • Make a cleaning schedule that we can keep up with and do it!- We've been doing a lot of cleaning this month, but no schedule yet! Need to get this figured out
  • Look at calendar once a day- Um, no
  • Update Google Calendar twice a week- Nope
  • Being fully present when with my family- By God's grace I have been much better at this on the whole, but still struggle when I feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • Try 12 new recipes this year- We tried a broccoli and cheese soup recipe this month. It wasn't bad, but we're looking for another one
  • No TV 2 days a week (watching)- I actually think we did this! I know the last 2 weeks we have accomplished this, and sometimes there were 3 days! Loving having the TV off more
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes! 
  • Read 2 book a month for myself- This month I read "Frankenstein" and "Humble Roots" as well as "The Insanity of God" with Jim (reviews to come on all of these). I also started 3 other books with good headway in them
  • Jim read one fiction book- 
  • Journal 5 days a week- I really struggled with this during January. We've been attempting to find a good rhythm, and towards the end of the month, this was getting back to normal
  • Jim Journal 3 days a week- Yes! Sometimes more
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing- Spend one evening editing this month! 
  • Book Club once a month- Yes! Really enjoyed a nice evening at Jo's house this month
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- With everything going on, I could not get it together, but looking forward to meeting this ladies next month
  • Blog 1-2 days a week- If you follow my blog, you know this did not happen this month, but we have spent a lot of time revamping Childbirth Conversations and once we get that blog up and going, this will become more of a reality
  • Spend one evening a week on business (added in Jan)- Yes we have done this and more! God has really opened up some opportunities for us to step into
  • Mild Exercise twice a week- I've been doing a lot of work around the house, and one day at the pool, but that's about as far as exercise goes. This will change next month!
  • Lose weight- Down a couple pounds. Really wanting to press into a healthier lifestyle next month and making adjustments to do that
  • Making more from scratch food and balanced meals- Yes! We have done more from scratch meals and have done a better job balancing the types of foods as well as colors when we can! Still have room for improvement, but we're off to a good start
January has been quite a blur. We have spent this month getting our home in order, figuring out the best way to make necessary repairs, and figuring out what God wants for us in this next stage of life. We have done some major cleaning, organizing, purging, and seeking out aid for projects that are over our head. We're also looking at business that can help our family. We continue with Norwex and seek how God would use that as well as looking at the blogging world. There are a lot of opportunities and we have been looking at what God would want for us. We are wanting to really seek to be healthy in a Godly way and seeking things that would aid in that. Recently we decided to try Plexus with our holistic eating and adding more activity into our day. Clearly it's been busy! 

But God continues to draw us to Himself. He continues to open doors that we were not expecting. He continues to grow us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. He draws us to each other and grows us as a family and with our church family. God continues to be God. And even though it's been chaotic at times, we are still pressing forward in life as He guides our path and points us to His plans for us. Please pray for us! 

How can we pray for you? How was your first month of January?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Goals for 2017

It's 2017! Time to reevaluate our goals and think through what our family desires to be intentional about this year. Many will continue because they are what we know God has for us that does not change. But with Jim graduating this year, we are thinking through the whole year with the knowledge that things may change mid year.

  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- 
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- 
  • Memorize verses with the kids - 
  • Have extended prayer times 4 times during the year- 
  • Read Christian books (Jim- 13 (not school related), Emmie- 26)- 
  • Teach Kids 12 Hymns this year- 
  • Pray together daily- 
  • Go out for a date once a week- 
  • Go on a night away once this year- 
  • Read 2 books together this year (read one day a week)- 
  • Discuss plan weekly on Saturday afternoon- 
  • Spend 15 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- 
  • Special Outing Alone once during the year with each child (hopefully during birthday month)- 
  • Family fun activity once a month- 
  • Write in individual journals at least 4 times this year- 
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- 
  • Make a cleaning schedule that we can keep up with and do it!- 
  • Look at calendar once a day-
  • Update Google Calendar twice a week 
  • Being fully present when with my family- 
  • Try 12 new recipes this year- 
  • No TV 2 days a week (watching)- 
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- 
  • Read 2 book a month for myself- 
  • Jim read one fiction book- 
  • Journal 5 days a week- 
  • Jim Journal 3 days a week- 
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing- 
  • Book Club once a month- 
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- 
  • Blog 1-2 days a week- 
  • Mild Exercise twice a week- 
  • Lose weight- 
  • Making more from scratch food and balanced meals-