2014 Recap: what a year it has been!

Last December at this time we were driving home from Virginia and maximizing the car time to goal plan for the coming year. We had hopes, dreams, and items to check-off our ‘to do’ list. We were ready and excited about the coming year!

I’m so thankful we didn’t know then what we were driving back to. We got home and almost immediately faced cancer (again). Suddenly our hopes and goals went out the window and each day felt like the best we could do was just get through it. And get through it we did, all by God’s grace.

Spring rolled around, the snow melted, the hair slowly grew back and we got the good news of ‘all clear’! After having had to postpone all adoption plans we were eager to get back to it and get all the updated approvals we needed. Summer came and it looked like we would be able to bring our boy home in September. We started hoping and dreaming and prepping for another son. Little did we know that by August we would lose our referral and be back to square one. Telling our kids the sad news was miserable. Their tears and ‘why’s’ echoed what we felt in our hearts, too. Why had we gone through so much and come so far to get stopped once again? Only God knows and again, it felt like the best we could do was just get through one day at a time.

Leaves fell and autumn emerged, both kids were in school full-time. My life did not look at all how I had pictured it back when we plotted out 2014 goals. So now what? We decided it would be best for me to get another job and try to embrace the season of life God had given us. Adoption was put on the shelf indefinitely as our agency made it clear that our odds were not good.

Back at the end of 2013 I had written in my journal that I was praying God would be glorified in our new year of 2014. What I meant was that I was hoping our adoption would speed through in record time and amazing ease, all to God’s credit. I certainly did not picture God receiving glory through our struggles! Glory came through victories!

Right? Right?!

Well, God is good and he was glorified in our 2014, struggles and all. He carried us through a really scary time of cancer. He strengthened our marriage as we sat side by side at chemo. He grew the character and faith in our children as they watched sickness and then health restored. He surrounded us with community, both old and new, that supported us, loved us, and prayed us through to clear scans.

God is good when we lost our referral and through tear-stained cheeks he gave us a sense of HIS peace. We had confidence that if God wanted that boy to join our family, then he would have made a way. For whatever reason that way was not made and God was glorified as we learned to trust him more. God was glorified when we broke the news to family and friends and they responded with love and not anger. God was glorified when our kids decided to still earnestly pray for sweet boy, knowing he would now not be their brother, but trusting God would give him a family to love.

God was glorified most this past year when through all our struggles we learned to trust him more, no matter the circumstances. I would like to hope 2015 would be an easier year in comparison. I am all too eager to say goodbye to 2014!! But, I also know that no matter what is in store for us this coming year, we will be okay because God is still God and his love endures forever.

You know what? I bet you had a crazy year, too. Maybe you faced struggles, transitions, health issues, loss, and unmet expectations. Maybe you are headed into a year of difficult circumstances and are wondering how you will make it through. I don’t have any grand words of wisdom, but I can say with confidence that God’s grace is sufficient and his love is enough to get you through each and every one of those days. He is most glorified in our lives not when when everything is picture perfect, but when we truly trust him in all things.

My hopes and dreams for 2015 are different than last year. My prayer is simply that I would trust God more and my hope is to love others with the lavish love God has given. (I can’t wait to love a certain little girl that currently lives half a world away!)

My prayer for you is that no matter how crazy and messy your year was or will be, that you would experience the never-stopping, never-giving-up, always and forever love of Jesus. His love that would come to this messy earth to live among us and offer the greatest sacrifice to give us a HOPE.

One of the best moments of this past year happened on a muddy river bank, serving as a visual reminder that it doesn’t matter the mess we are standing in ~ God is glorified.

MissE made the decision to be baptized, professing her faith in Jesus as her Savior.

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Happy New Year! May you experience God’s love and faithfulness in 2015.

And they are off..

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MissE reports the best part of school is helping the teacher clean up the classroom and the worst part is that she now doesn’t have as much time to read (she read an average of  3 books a day in the summer). MissE also reports that she is going by her full name this year.

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Junior reports that he loves school. His favorite part is singing and his least favorite part is playing outside (because he gets too hot and sweaty).

I report having both kids in school is AMAZING!! I am loving my few hours a week that are quiet and I can get work done. I also enjoy the one on one time with Junior when he is not at school. All in all, a great start to the school year!

Making dreams come true

It’s the county fair week and after sitting it out the past two years, we caved and bought tickets. Two years changes things. Junior man can now go on rides, although he prefers the tamest ones. MissE on the other hand has grown into a full-blown dare devil. She went on all the crazy, big kid rides while I sat on the sidelines and tried to keep breathing. Dreams came true for my dear husband, too. After years of wanting to ride the camel, he finally got his chance.

We had agreed that if we did the county fair we would not go to the state fair. But as MissE was whipping and spinning on the rides we got a call that she had won state fair tickets from the library. Looks like we get to do this all over again in a few weeks! Dreams coming true :)

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Summer fun

Summer is is flying by and we are loving it. We kicked off the summer with our slip and slide, which soon became the neighborhood hit.

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The following week MissE got to go to a VBS day camp with her BFF.

 

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After that, my bff stopped by for a quick visit. She came because they were meeting with their social working because, you guessed it, they are ADOPTING!! It is so wonderful when my good friends become adopting friends. :)

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Somewhere in there was Father’s day and we celebrated having such cool dads with ice cream. We love our dads!

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Then MissE had soccer camp (she was one of two girls that signed up for the co-ed camp). She loved it and Junior and I loved our mornings at the park.

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Then summer felt like it officially started with a trip to the beach.

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Then there were a couple cabin trips (we hope to make a lot more!!)

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I’d like to just camp out in this chair for the rest of the summer.

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We even got to bring some friends to the cabin!

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This week was volleyball camp. Hello to the era of ridiculous sports t-shirts. Really?

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We got to spend one more beach day with some dear friends before they pack up and move away for a month or two.

 

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Finally, while picking up an item we purchased from craigslist the seller let MissE try out his little violin. He was so impressed with her creative skills he exclaimed, “She can have it! You must get her lessons!” Hhhhmmmm, is creative really the word to use for a child playing a violin? Who wants to give her lessons?!

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That is run-down of our past few weeks. Somewhere in there I also have been teaching three classes and have managed to stay up-to-date on grading. Happy Summer!!

Goodbye K

MissE officially graduated from Kindergarten! It was a bittersweet day. I am pumped to be done with drop off/pick up, but I tucked a little girl into bed with tears in her eyes. It has been a wonderful year for her and it is hard to say goodbye. It was her teacher’s first year of teaching and she was so enthusiastic. She cried today, too and sent the kids off with a 15 minute DVD chronically their year. MissE never would sing me her Spanish songs that they sang everyday in class. Luckly, they are all on the video :)

Here she is on day one.

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And here she is as a 1st grader!! Woohoo! We celebrated with dinner and a night out at an indoor climbing park. We are proud of you, girl!

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And now we will spend the rest of the day watching the video over and over again, looking through the year’s portfolio, and writing ‘I miss you’ cards to friends. Transition is never easy. Thankfully, we have the For the Kids Carnival on Sunday to look forward to!!

An unexpected weekend

Time to catch up with the ol’ blog. A few weekends ago my parents came down to watch the kiddos so we could go to an adoption parenting conference. We were really excited about a little getaway and for a chance to learn and sharpen our parenting skills. Unfortunately, the weather had different plans and by the time my parents had arrived we were in the middle of a blizzard and our flights had been cancelled. Disappointed is an understatement. We had a very nice weekend, it just looked a little different than we planned.

My mom made my favorite cinnamon french toast for breakfast.

 

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My dad build us a little mini-deck. He had to shovel a path to the door first and he built it in the freezing cold. We watched his work from inside. Great job, dad! :)

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The kids love it! We love it! Now we have a way to get to our nice fenced in backyard without going around the house.

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We really put my parents to work. Later my dad gave Junior a much needed haircut.

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My mom taught MissE how to sew a sampler. She has been wanting to learn since reading Felicity.

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My parents are amazing! We were sad to miss the conference, but really enjoyed having them here!

Thankful Thursday: A little girl’s dream come true

I have wanted to take MissE to the American Girl Bistro for some time, but each time I picked a date something came up.

My sister called on Monday to say she was going with her girl and meeting our aunt there, but we already had plans and couldn’t make it.

As it turns out, the weather has been unpleasant here and our plans got cancelled. So, with a few minutes notice I loaded up the kids and took off for the mall.

Even Junior got his own lunch buddy doll, which he thought was really fun.

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The girls had a fun time reading ‘discussion questions’ back and forth.

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Then there was some shopping.

‘”Aunt Margaret, look how pretty this dress is! Isn’t it pretty? Wouldn’t my doll look beautiful in this dress!”

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There were some happy little girls that day.

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Junior was not neglected as the mall also has a Lego store.

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Junior was rewarded for enduring all the pink.

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Thanks to Aunt Margaret for making little girls’ dreams come true! We had a fun time!

 

Thankful Thursday: My Valentines

Oops, this is a day late, but yesterday was Valentine’s day and I am ever so thankful for my loves.

I literally thank God everyday for our little family and for the chance to share life with them. I am also incredibly thankful for our extended families that love us and taught us to love God.

MissE says yesterday on the way to school, “Our family loves Jesus. We can love Jesus because he is alive.”

So matter of fact. So true.

Your love is better than life, I will praise you! Psalm 63:3

Junior and I got to crash MissE’s valentine party yesterday. They served yogurt parfaits for the snack instead of the usual sugar cookie piled high with frosting. I love those room moms!

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We took the kids swimming on Wednesday for family fun night. It was a blast and Junior only almost drowned once. That kid has no fear. He went under water and just stood there, not even fighting to get up for air.

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We had heart-shaped pizzas for dinner. MissE asked, “Where are the candles?”

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A Grammy WIN!

The Okee Dokee Brothers won a Grammy!

How amazing is that?

My mom’s library hosted them this summer and she gave the cd to Junior for his birthday. Our kids LOVE them! For most of the fall we listened to their music everyday driving to school. Their songs are incredibly catchy and eventually I had to hide the CD because I was sick of having their songs stuck in my head all day long.

Congrats to them! I think we will have an Okee Dokee Brothers dance party now!

Goodbye lockers!

Do you remember the locker room?

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Well, after a lot of hard work it no longer looks like this. Let’s talk about the hard work first. My mom and I spent an entire day peeling off wall paper. Let this be a lesson to all people. Do not use wallpaper. Just don’t. Then my dad filled in the countless holes in the wall (some from screws, some from my digging at the wallpaper with a knife). Next, James and a friend sanded the entire room. Let this be the next lesson for all people. Do not use textured paint. Just don’t. And if you feel that you absolutely love textured paint. Use it in one room, not the entire house. Okay, so after the walls were peeled, sanded, and prepped it was time to paint.

We found this lovely shade of purple in oops paint and there were two cans. Side note, when using two cans of oops paint, mix them together before painting to insure color consistency. Or if you want to be like us, don’t mix them and end up having to paint the walls three times. If you like painting, maybe this is your better option.

All kidding aside, after A LOT of hard work. The purple princess room is ready and being occupied!

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It is a little girl’s dream.

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I’m happy, she’s happy. On to the next room! Who wants to come help me paint? ;)