14 Years

Last Wednesday Martha and I reached our 14th wedding anniversary.  Today we celebrated by spending more of the day with our good friends Keith and Carrie Hanson and the Royals game.  The festivities really began with brunch as First Watch and, of course, Bubba's Benny.  You haven't lived until you've had Bubba's Benny for breakfast.  In short, Bubba's Benny is two buttermilk biscuits with a sunny side up egg and turkey sausage patties on top smothered by turkey sausage gravy.  (It is a little bit of heaven on a plate.)  It was Faith and Family Day at the "K" which meant that in addition to the game there would be a concert afterward.  As it turned there was much more than just a concert.  There was a "warm-up" concert by a local rap group that none of us really enjoyed followed by testimonies from three of the players from the day's game.  Throughout the event a clear gospel message was given.  They even gave everyone an NIV New Testament as they left.  This year's featured group was Crowder.  We mistakenly thought we were going to get to enjoy the David Crowder band.  As it turned out we weren't disappointed.  The concert was short which was good since the day was so hot and long.  In spite of the brevity of the concert they managed to pack in contemporary praise and worship, blue grass, and a little southern gospel.  Remarkably they combined a banjo, hammer dulcimer, violin, cello, double bass and other assorted instruments into one band and made them all sound great together.  I look forward to hearing more from this group.  We finished the day at Mi Ranchitos.  For some reason after an entire day in the sun we were all craving the espinaca sauce.  Thank you Martha for 14 years of wedded bliss.  I'm not sure how it's possible but I fall more in love with your every day. 


We're Athletic?

I've never been athletically inclined and I probably never will be.  Nevertheless with the help of my family we won our first ever athletic competition (pictures are on Facebook).  We started training in Taekwondo in August and had our first belt promotion in October.  With our yellow belts in hand (actually around our wastes) we went to our first tournament.  It was really a family-fun mock tournament.  Everyone went home with something just for participation but event winners got special trophies.  Our event was the family form.  In the family form event your family as a group goes through the series of steps/positions for your belt level.  We had twenty positions in our form and since we were still newbie yellow belts we had the added advantage of being allowed to count our numbers out loud as we moved.  You are judged on how well you know your form as well as how well you stay in sync with each other.  There were seven teams in all and I honestly didn't think we stood a chance.  The other teams had been training longer than us (some much longer).  I guess our practice and loud counting paid off.  Now we have to figure out what to do with a ridiculously large trophy.


The Ride is Over

God often works in mysterious ways that we won't and may never understand.  Our petition for guardianship of our nieces ended with a court appearance last week.  In the aftermath we have not been questioning the "why".  The "why" is easy.  Every detail of our lives is complete orchestrated by God for his glory.  The "how" is the source of our consernation.  I find myself frequently wondering "How is God possibly going to get the glory from this turn of events?"  The answer is that we don't know now, we may never never know in the future, and we aren't entitled to an answer - ever.  What we do know is that we have to accept it and move on.  We are all having a hard time reaching that point but I'm sure we'll get there eventually.

They say "You never know what you have until you lose it".  Well, it's true.  Kristine and Abby were integrated into our family as our children for only two short months.  I had no idea how strong and deep the bond had become between us until we had to turn them over to their father at the courhouse after our trial ten days ago.  It was a cold, hard, immediate change of custody - no integration plan for the girls or visitation plan for us.  I'm sure that one day we will see them again.  Meanwhile we pray for them continually.  It is comforting to know that God is protecting and caring for them.  Thank you God for your sovereignty and give us the grace to accept it no matter what!


Change - The Only Constant

Isn't it funny how life never plays out the way you plan.  You think you can see several turns ahead in the road of life but you blink your eyes and you're suddenly on a different road!  I'm glad God is driving and not me.  We thought the change in our life was going to limited to our diet.  As time goes by we are discovering more foods that the children have a difficult time tolerating.  We've began eliminating processed foods from our life.  This evolved into eliminating things like refined sugar, homogenized milk, and an assortment of other things.  Just a couple of week ago Martha and I decided to try a 30 day purification diet.  We made it through most of the "Nothing but Fruits and Vegetables" week when suddenly the road of life shifted in a way no one saw coming.  We became the temporary parents of two new little ones.

Due to a series of unfortunately events Martha's sister, Melody, faced losing her two young daughters - Kristine (2 1/2 years) and Abigail (15 months).  We've taken them into our home to raise them as our own.  It may be a few weeks or a few years.  However long we end up having them in our home we will love them with every ounce of our being.  They are still young enough to train.  So far breaking old habits and creating new ones has not been that much of a challenge.  On the downside we are on diaper duty again.  There's also the additional laundry and mouths to feed.  It also doesn't help that our modest split-level house was never intended for five children.  Despite all the changes (including the sudden lack of sleep) it's worth it.  We have no regrets and we'd do it again in a heart beat.  I'm anxious to see where this road will lead.


Thanksgiving in the Man Cave

Thanksgiving this year was celebrated at Mike and Jonalyn's house.  I'm not sure if the highlight was the bacon-draped smoked ham or the recently completed man cave.  Either way I'm thankful for them both.  Turkey is overrated. Perhaps if you draped bacon over it...  Anyway, after gorging on the ham we made our way to the man cave.  I thought it was awesome watching movies on the HD projector.  That experience pales in comparison to playing Wii on the HD projector.  We played one of those dance games intended to make you abuse your body while humiliating yourself in front of your family and friends.  Up until this point I didn't realize just how bad a shape I was in.  Actually, I am in shape - a pear shape.  Even so I have some pretty good dance moves (you can't tell from the pictures).  Despite nearly losing my lunch (perhaps this shouldn't have been a post lunch activity) and being out of breath for the better part of half and hour we had the best Thanksgiving in at least a year.

Martha busting some moves

Me getting down with my bad self.


We were having a family discussion the other night about riding bikes without training wheels.  As a motivation we promised them a new bicycle when they reached the goal.  Emily was the first to learn.  Remarkable she did it mostly on her own.  Courtney picked up the skill shortly after Emily.  The thought of a new bike really got them fired up.  Benjamin, however, is a different story.  I asked him what would get him excited about riding his bike and that we want to put a "carrot" out there to get him motivated.  He said, "I don't like carrots.  Put a Wii game out there."  I'll give him points for honesty!


Nail Party

Oh the fun of little girls and giggling moments. Tonight the girls asked - more like pleaded - for Jonathan or I to please paint their finger nails. I was busy putting dinner on the table and thinking about all the things I still needed to do before I could go to bed... the list of things that never end. So while eating dinner and listening to the retelling of their day I decided the long list would just have to wait. We finished dinner and I told the girls to go get the nail polish. Admist the screaming and giggling they ran helter skelter up the stairs to retrieve the precious bounty. Oh how I love that sound... However, Half-way through painting their nails I received an important phone call and asked the girls to wait until I was finished with my phone call to finish the painting. They were a little disappointed, but took it really well. It took me longer than I anticipated, but when I got off the phone the girls - with radar on - came running so I could finish the most important task of the day - NAILS! I decided it was time to amp up the excitement and started singing a made up song - "we're doing a toe party, yes we are" to the tune of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands". The girls started giggling, laughing and dancing with abandon to my little ditty. Then after singing and dancing for a bit we got down to business. And after all is said and done, the nail party was sooo much more fun and more lasting than meal planning, grocery list making and laundry.

 So to all you busy Mom's... take time out to enjoy the nail parties... They are sooo worth the giggling and laughter.... Next I will have to fight a Star Wars character with light saber in hand to hand combat agains my son.... Oh the life of a Mom, and the MANY hats I wear in a single day.


Only in the Soup

You think you know your kids and then they throw you a curve ball.  The other day we were watching "Nim's Island".  It is the story of a 10 year old girl that lives with her father on an island out in the middle of the ocean.  Aside from a satellite internet connection they are pretty much cut off from the world.  They have supplies dropped shipped several times a year.  For the most part they live off the land.  In one scene she is making dinner out of various eatables indigenous to their island one of which was mealworms.  Of course I had to ask the kids if they would eat worms:

Emily: (head shaking "No" vigorously)

Courtney: (Huge smile and giggle) No!

Benjamin: (Long pause...deep thought) Well...only in the soup.

I should have asked a long time ago.  We could have saved a fortune on groceries! 


Cartunes or Cartoons....

Today we had a fun filled day of TV... ALLLLL DAYYYY.... I am not sure my brain can handle much more of the entertainment and yet I can't imagine another way to have spent the day with the kids. Courtney was sick on Wednesday, but she was fine between episodes. Today Emily has been sick and has NOT been fine between episodes. She feels so ickie and I wish there was something I could do to help her feel better. So, we had a marathon

A Most Amazing Birthday!

McCormick & Schmick's is a must try experience if you ever visit the Kansas City area. Though I may be a little partial to the place as that is where we celebrated my birthday with three other couples. It was a night full of precious and priceless memories. The night was cool and crisp with the stars sparkling in the night sky. It could have only been made more perfect if the Plaza lights had already been lit. The friends that went with us, David and Jennie Smith and Keith and Carrie Hanson had decided that as a small group we needed to do something a little crazy and have a night out without kids - I know shocking! We started talking about going to the Plaza a month earlier and finally decided that the only night we could all go would be Friday night, the 20th, my birthday. I was soooo excited. Not because we were going out on my birthday but just that we were going out. Wow, a night without cutting up someones dinner before I eat mine. A night without taking someone potty in the middle of dinner. A night without interruptions from squabbling kids.... a night with the man I love and our friends. WOW... Yep, I was pretty excited. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids with all my heart and wouldn't trade a moment with them - even the late night calls. Their little hands and precious faces pressed close to mine is a potent mixture for falling in love all over again. They are worth soooo much more than I could ever pen. But it is nice to get out and talk with friends if even for an hour or so.

The night of my birthday everyone was coming over to my house where we would car pool together down to the plaza. That week I had been feeverishly painting almost every room in my house so when my friends arrived I naturally showed off my new colors and upon my return trip back down the stairs thought I was seeing a mirage. My two girlfriends, Jennie Smith and Carrie Hanson, had arranged with our mutual friends Gary and Carrie Farris to show up for my birthday weekend. I saw her and SCREAMED! Then I flew into her arms and hugged her until I was sure the tears would flow and not stop. We stepped away just in time for the tears to NOT turn into Niagra Falls and then everyone started talking at the same time. I was so overwhelmed. It was such a blessing to have so much thought put into my birthday and here I wasn't expecting even a card from anyone. It was an awesome surprise. I spent a great protion of the night just running the moment of seeing Carrie standing in my door through my head - it sure beat pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming! So, off we went down to the Plaza where we ate at Panera Bread and ended the night at McCormick & Schmick's. It was perfect. We went to McCormick to experience their special dessert, the Chocolate Sac. Talk about chocolate heaven! It is a chocolate sack shaped like a real brown bag and filled with creamy lucious white chocolate mousse and topped with fresh cut strawberries, raspberries blackberries and blueberries with a little cookie roll and raspberry sauce drizzeled over the top. DELICIOUS!!!!!!  We were given menues that even had Happy Birthday Martha written across the top. We spent the next hour and a half talkig, laughing and eating our dessert. Fun doesn't even begin to describe the time we had together. Jonathan and I are so blessed to have friendships with the Smith's, Hanson's and Farris's. God has richly blessed our lives in so many ways through them. It really was a perfect night. 

The night was over all too soon, but the fun did not stop. Gary and Carrie stayed until Tuesday afternoon. We spent as much time together as a group for the next three days. My house has so many more memories now than it did a week ago. We added four little giggling girls to our two girls and one boy. The Farris's stayed at our house Saturday thru Monday. When we were all together we had a total of four boys and eleven girls. Yep the girls rule!!! On Saturday night the guys watched a movie and the girls kept the kids. On Sunday the guys kept the kids - yep all 14 kids - we kept the baby with us - and the girls went shopping and for some girl talk. It was so wonderful. The time to say good bye came all too soon on Tuesday afternoon. It was a good thing it was such a blustery day (to borrow a Poohism) or I would have been crying as I hugged Carrie good bye again. As it was, I was so cold all my energy was going towards keeping me warm and I didn't have the energy to cry... then... later I shed a few tears. I know with all my heart that God will direct them and bring them to a place of rest. When that day is I don't know, but He does and until then I will pray earnestly that He will show Himself to them in mighty ways as they are in their wilderness journey.

If you are a believer then you are on a journey to become more Christlike. If you know that Jesus came to Earth as a baby and yet was still 100% God. If you know that He lived a sinless life and then chose to lay His life down for you and take your punishment on the cross. If you know that Jesus Christ also rose again on the thrid day and had victory over death and sin. If you not only know but believe with all your heart that Christ rose from the dead, you will be saved - eternally. The journey you are on will not always be easy. In fact I can promise it will be paved with many heartaches and joys. Ahhh, but those heartaches are when God carries you even if you can't see Him or feel Him. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you and He is God and can never break His promise. There is nothing more comforting to me than to know that I never have to face anything on my own - sometimes - in the hard times I just have to repeat it over and over again because I have a weak sinful heart and forget the awesome power of Christ who lives in me.  So on your journey, I pray that with each step you take you become more like Christ every day because when you do, even the heartaches become jewels in your life.


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