Wednesday, December 26, 2012

little Christmas Miracles

I just read the book "Christmas Miracles" by Karen Kingsbury. I want to share some experiences of my own, "God moments" that would not be possible under my own power.

First, on Christmas Eve, I went out to visit a friend at the hospital while Mike was home with the kids. I stopped to get a few treats for my friend, who was expected to stay in the hospital until Dec 27th. I parked at a local discount store, checked my purse, and locked the car. Made my purchases and walked back to the vehicle. I tried to open the door but it was locked. I looked inside, and my keys were dangling from the ignition. How did they get there?! I thought the keys were in my purse. We've only had this vehicle for a few weeks and we don't have a spare key for it, so calling my husband wouldn't be much help (plus he had the kids, and I had the carseats. oops). The driver's side window was open a crack, so I tried to force it open a little more... but it wouldn't budge. I was scratching my head, scrolling through my phone contacts, trying to think of what to do, when a car pulled up next to me. She look at me with a funny expression on her face, and I jokingly told her that I was trying to break into my own vehicle. She told me that her dog jumped into her car and locked her out last week. And she just so happened to still have a straightened-out wire coat-hanger in her trunk. She wiggled it into position and popped the locks for me. Turns out that she and I were neighbors, before we moved this summer. She lived 2 blocks from us. She was an angel sent to help me, I'm sure of it.

Second God-thing: My friend was released from the hospital on Christmas Day! It's really neat that they could spend time as a family instead of being separated on Christmas.This was a huge blessing for her, and an answer to prayers. She's healing way ahead of schedule. I know it is because so many people are praying for her quick recovery after surgery.

Third God-thing:  Oldest daughter suffered from extreme sore throat, stomach ache, fever, and no appetite on Christmas Eve. (Last year Mike got strep on Christmas Eve. This is a bad trend.) We just happened to have an unmixed, unopened bottle of amoxicillan in our medicine cabinet stash. We were about to give her the antibiotics just after her fever spiked, to help clear the infection. We were able to do this on a holiday when every doctor's office and urgent care in the area was closed. THAT is a miracle. And we didn't even need to visit the ER to get her the meds she needed.

Fourth God-thing: Our dear friends heard that we wouldn't be able to celebrate Christmas with them as planned, so they brought over a complete Christmas dinner for us: honey-glazed ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, bread rolls, the works.

See, God is with us, even in the details. These might not seem like big things, any of them, but it is such an encouragement to me, to know that He is watching out for our every need.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Missed Opportunity

I missed an opportunity to share God's love yesterday.
I was driving to the girls' gymnastics class. About a mile from our house, there had recently been an accident. No one was injured, but one of the drivers was crying and visibly shaken. She was talking to someone on her cell phone. They were stopped along Guess Rd at the top of a hill - kind of a dangerous place to stop, really. And immediately after I passed them, I wondered if I should have stopped. There wasn't a safe place for me to turn around for several miles. I could have gone back and offered them a bottle of water, given a hug, prayed for them, waited until a tow truck came. But I didn't.

I said a quick prayer for those involved and kept going on my way.
Still, I had the nagging feeling that I was supposed to stop and talk to them.
I missed the chance. When I came back home, both vehicles were gone.

How many times in a day or a week would we get the opportunity to share God's immeasurable love with others, if we'd just open up our eyes and our hearts?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Wow, I just got shut-down.
I was denied a place on the worship team at church!
I know it's been a long time since I've performed, but wow... I am pretty shocked.
I thought God was asking me to step out of my comfort zone and do something different by serving in this way, by singing and worshiping Him. Obviously I was wrong about that. This particular worship leader seems to have some abnormally strict standards/expectations, and I guess I just don't fit into his plan.

Now I'm a little mad!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

90 day challenge

A friend just invited me to join a 90-day health and wellness challenge.
I think I have convinced myself that I am going to do it.

For starters, I will tell you what I ate for dinner:
Two scrambled eggs with peppers, onions and cheese.
A piece of whole-wheat toast with all-natural strawberry preserves on it.
And a glass of orange juice.

Foster Care Orientation

Last night was our foster care/adoption orientation class. I didn't learn anything new, but I did confirm that Mike and I will be invited to take the MAPP classes that begin in January. I am so excited to move forward in this process!!! I know that God is going to stretch and grow our family, and I can't wait to see how it all plays out. This is an answer to prayer for us. Now I am just praying that Mike's work schedule doesn't get in the way of him attending classes for ten weeknights in a row. If God wants us to foster or adopt, I am certain that He will not allow Mike's 12-hour shifts to get in the way.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tonight, I realized...

I had a very rare out-with-girlfriends-and-no-kids hour this evening... But it made me realize something. There are so many conversations and interactions I have daily, in which God is not mentioned. I need to be more bold and creative about how I witness about God's glory and how I can share my testimony with others. This particular encounter also made me remember how I like to close myself up in a little Christian bubble, and hang-out with only "churchy" people. But everyone needs friends, not just well-dressed, manicured, middle-class SAHMs. I need to broaden my horizons a little more. In the past, I've done that to the point of burn-out. This time I'd like to focus on a few specific people, and see where that leads...

PS: Want to win $1000? Well, here is a great giveaway hosted by Capri Sun and Finding Joy Click Here to Enter! I entered. Did you? Drawing ends on Monday, Sept 16th.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012


First of all, I just want to say how grateful I am for friends that pray for me and think of me daily, and share their hearts and their lives with me, so that I can pray for them too. You have no idea how much I appreciate that kind of friendship.

So in my last post I wrote that I had some doubts. I guess my instinct was correct, because yesterday I learned that we were not, in fact, accepted into the foster parent classes that begin on Saturday. The class "was full. There is no space for you."

At hearing this news, I was initially crushed. Disappointed. Upset. Frustrated (this is the second time we haven't been "accepted" by Durham County, for goodness sakes!). I mean, we had worked hard to sell our house and buy this new bigger house, to make room for more children, to clear our schedules for the next six weekends in a row, to line up babysitters, and to make sure we did everything right so that we could take the foster parent classes this month. We did do everything right, but obviously God has different plans than the ones I had in mind. So I let myself cry a little for this lost dream.

Then after the shock wore off, my first reaction was to call a few different local agencies, to get us into another class soon. When I want something, I don't give up on it easily.  So there are 2 "orientation" classes we'll go to in the next month. (I didn't realize that there are options, that you don't HAVE to work with your county's DSS agency. News to me.)

To reiterate: I'm not giving up. I'm giving IN!
Giving in to whatever God has planned for me.
I KNOW God still has good plans for me!!

Because this is NOT about what -I- want. My goals need to be lined up with what God's plans are for myself and my family. Whether or not that means foster care or adopting, or neither, I need to be ok with what happens. Because none of it is in my control.

 Last night, I laid awake with a sick child at 2am, thoughts jumping around in my head, unable to sleep. I wanted to hear some kind of wisdom from the Bible, but I wasn't focused enough to read it myself and come up with some sort of applicable insight. So I searched through sermon archives and found a message that JD Greear preached five years ago, in September 2007. It is so applicable to me (and to many other people also, I'm sure). The first point he made was that everyone has doubts. I know that's kind of obvious, but it was what I needed to hear in the moment. Quote: "EVery person has doubts. It's part of what makes us human. We think, therefore we doubt God." It goes on to explain 4 common areas of doubt, and how we can overcome them. If you're interested, find the sermon here.

So, what does this mean, and where do I go from here? Well, today I was praying along with Proverbs 3:5-6. It's one of the very first Bible verses I memorized as a young child: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not upon your own understanding; but in all of your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." That's what I'm praying, that I will not give in to doubt, but put my trust completely in Him.

Monday, September 3, 2012

What if they say no?

I have this semi-irrational fear that I will call our local DSS and find out that, for some reason or another, we will not be allowed to take the foster parent classes that begin on Sept 8th. The foster parent classes that we cleared our schedules for over six months ago. The classes that I have been hoping and praying about for FIVE YEARS, that Mike finally just agreed to this spring.

Anyway, I am calling them tomorrow morning, and Ms T the social worker will either say "Yes, you are welcome to be in the class", or "No, unfortunately we don't have space for you at this time." And whichever answer it is, I am supposed to be ok with it. Because whatever happens, I have been assured over and over, is how it is meant to be.

The anxiety is getting to me.

Yesterday I explained my thoughts and asked my husband, "If we can't be in this class, what will we do?!?!?" He very calmly answered "That just means we aren't supposed to do it RIGHT NOW. Maybe now is not the right time" ...although he went on to say "I doubt it though. I think all signs point to yes. Look at all that's happened to put us in this position right now." He went on to elaborate about our move, the new house, his job and payrate, etc.

When he said "maybe not now", I had never considered that. I like to have my hopes and dreams and plans come true - but often in my own timing, not God's. And just as trying to have a second baby didn't go the way I wanted it to go, maybe God has plans that are far different, and far better, than the ones in my head. I guess I just have to keep trusting him, and put aside my own selfish wants. The song "This is Only a Mountain" has been repeating itself over & over in my head all weekend. How appropriate.

In the meantime, I found a new "Isaiah" at and I can't get the idea of him, or at the very least, the idea of an adopted son, out of my mind. In the photolisting, this Isaiah has dark curly hair that is identical to Mike's hair.

I don't know much about him, but I do know that this child needs a family to love and care for him. The big question is: Who will it be? I hope he finds them soon.

Friday, August 31, 2012

How's homeschooling going?

We have been homeschooling Hannah (second grade) for about four weeks now. The first few days were rough. She didn't want to get back into the routine of doing real work. We had to take frequent breaks (which I normally don't do during learning time). But after a bumpy start, she got the hang of it and began somewhat of a routine. The first week we did a learning unit about the Olympics. It was fun to learn about other countries, and she loved that this gave her an excuse to watch some tv almost every day, which is a rarity at our house.

Last week I began teaching her multiplication and division. I realized that because she can already skip-count, this would be much easier than I thought! Tonight at Walmart, she even asked me to buy her multiplication flash cards!

I still don't have a specific curriculum. I am sort of going off the concepts in the Core Knowledge books. But we are very electric in the way we schedule and implement things.

Our neighbor, Mr. Larry, heard that we are homeschooling, and his reaction was "Well, you've got to let go of them sometime. They need to get out of the house, away from mom and dad, and learn their own way." I agree. Our home-school co-op classes are starting next week - and I couldn't be more excited!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Homeschool Book Giveaway Results

Are you the winner?
We had 50 entries, and the winner is....
True Random Number Generator 
Powered by RANDOM.ORG
Graciegirl! You have 48 hours to claim your prize. 
You can reply here with your email address, or send your mailing info to me at nikl483 @ hot mail. com

Monday, July 30, 2012

Homeschool Book Giveaway!

I am giving away TWO huge books of home learning, both written by Mary Pride. The first is an overall guide to home learning, including different methods, teaching styles, curriculums, how to get started, what you need and don't need, ect. The second book is a comprehensive look at preschool/elementary curriculum of all kinds, lesson plans, websites, pricing, and other resources. See more info at

To enter, just leave a comment below, telling me why you'd like to win!
You can get a bonus entry if you decide to subscribe to my blog.
This is OPTIONAL. Just make sure to note that you did so in a separate post.
The winner will be picked at random on August 5th. 

You can also go to to find more free homeschool book giveaways in the big Curriculum Clean-out!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised

We just spent a week, me and the kids, visiting with my family. When we got home, I was pleasantly surprised to see the things Mike had done around the house while we were gone. He vacuumed, which is ALWAYS appreciated :) He also bought a giant tv, which I wasn't so excited about... but in the process he rearranged the furniture in the living room, giving us more floor space. And it is a really nice bonus that we can watch the Olympics on tv, instead of just seeing tiny video clips online. But the best thing my husband did while we were gone: hang pictures on the walls! Our previously bare walls are now so nice-looking! I LOVE it! I had two huge boxes full of picture frames sitting in a corner of the living room and was overwhelmed at the idea of hanging them up. The task was just too daunting for me. Plus I'm not so great with a hammer, and was likely to whack my thumb or mistakenly make a giant hole in the wall where a nail should go. He even created "themes": family pics in the living room, landscapes in the guest room, a nautical/beach theme upstairs in the hallway, duckies in the kids' bathroom, and wedding portraits in our room. He arranged everything so nicely. Good job, honey, thank you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Day: 8 hours, 4 kids, and 4 medical offices

Summary of my day: Spent eight hours with four children going back and forth between 3 medical offices (one being the dentist) and the local hospital. From 9:30am-5:30pm we were out allllll day long trying to figure out why Noah is always sick and not gaining weight.

At this point I am suspecting either gluten intolerance (could be as severe as celiac disease, not sure) or a digestive issue, something wrong with his GI tract. We'll have the lab results back in about 3 business days (maybe Monday). I am dreading getting the medical bills.... oh my goodness how I hate medical bills. But that's out of my hands.

All day long I kept telling myself that God is in control. He is always with me, even when I'm barely holding it together.... I really clung to that promise today. And I -felt- Him there with me, in the waiting rooms, in the moments when I was about to snap at the older kids, when they were getting too loud and jumping around, just trying to have fun despite the circumstances... And when I had to hold Noah down on a gurney and watch him get pricked so many times that I lost count - that isn't easy for a mommy. But I did it, because I had to. By the grace of God, I did. And the poor little guy is such a trooper. He didn't cry or flinch at all while they were poking and prodding. He only whined once, when they pricked two of his fingers for the very last blood test.

On the way out of the hospital, I stopped to show the kids the chapel room. First I peeked in to make sure no one else was in their praying or something. I told the girls and D that they could go in, look around, then come back out in one minute, but emphasized that they had to be -very quiet- in the chapel. Aliah asked why? My first thought was "because that's what you always do" but I thought about it for a second, and that's not the right answer. You should be quiet not only because it is respectful, but more importantly, because a place of prayer and worship should be a special, hallowed place that is entered with sincerity and reverence. So I tried to convey that to my preschool daughter. On the way home they sang "My God's Not Dead, He's Surely Alive!" at the top of their lungs.

Thank you God, for these children, who are such blessings to me.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I am overworked, underpaid, overtired, and completely unappreciated.
Mike has been working night shift and today he was especially exhausted.

This morning he "wanted to vent" and spent an hour complaining. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and let it slide. I tried to look past how tired he was and just nod and go about my day. Feeding children, laundry, dishes, toys, etc.

This afternoon he treated me really poorly, verging on verbal abuse. After 20 minutes of sobbing, I got an apology. I've been fighting not to cry ever since. He wonders why I get depressed - maybe it's because I am made to feel worthless. I know that my worth as a person should come from God, not anyone else. I know HE thinks I am cherished. But when your spouse acts as if you are a lazy irresponsible disrespectful wife & mother, it kind of colors the rest of your day. I know he loves me, but some days he has a totally awful way of showing it.

He says he is trying to make our home perfect. I tell him at this point that's completely unnecessary. We only moved 2 weeks ago. I am totally ok with boxes hiding behind the couch, clothes not put away, nothing hung on the walls. What in the world does he expect?!?

I don't want it to sound like Mike is always terrible to me.
I don't want to make excuses for him either.
I can't figure him out.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The bumper sticker

Halfway home from church today, I noticed the car in front of me had a few bumper stickers on it. There was a small sticker that had an immeasurable impact. It had the image of a baby's profile, and it said something like "Abortion stops my heart from beating."

I saw the image, read those words, and it triggered something in me.  The blood drained from my face. I went into a kind of cold shock.  I was fighting back tears the rest of the way home. I bit my lip so hard (so that the kids wouldn't hear me crying or ask any questions; I couldn't have handled that) that I tasted blood.

You've probably seen a similar sticker on someone's vehicle, and you're probably wondering: Why did a seemingly common bumper sticker affect me in this way? Because it was personal. A little more than two years ago, someone close to me made the choice to abort a baby. It was a selfish choice, but a costly one, and one that was made of her own free will. She didn't share this with me until almost a year later. I suspect that she was sad and ashamed, but she never expressed that to me. She acted as if pregnancy was a huge, life-changing inconvenience (I agree, it can be). She told me she felt that it was her only option.

The truth is, abortion is never the only option. That baby could have been adopted. He or she would have lived and thrived if given the chance at life. If I had known the circumstances, I would have lovingly and gladly taken the baby and raised it as my own (would have been a few months older than Noah.) But prenatal children are not able to make choices for themselves. They are at the mercy of God and their parent(s). They can feel, they can see and hear, touch, taste, and smell, but they cannot chose to be carried to term. They can't object when someone chooses to abruptly end their own life.

It makes me so very sad, that there are so many babies who are unable to take their first breath, because someone made the choice to end their life prematurely.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The last week has been completely physically and emotionally draining.
This week is VBS at our church, so that is also exhausting.
Three and a half hours with 12 three-year-olds would make anyone tired.
At least all the boxes are opened, and we know where almost everything is.

Mike completely lost his temper with me tonight. I don't know what set him off, but I hate when he gets so angry. Now his bff is spending the rest of the evening with us, so they'll most likely ignore me. Today, I kind of prefer it that way, being alone... although Mike gets faaaar more down time than I do.

Am I resentful, that I so rarely get time away from the kids? probably so.
I just wish he'd recognize that instead of me begging to do something on my own.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Where's Mom?

Yesterday, my mother went missing.
She was driving from her home to ours.
She left Maryland around 1:30pm... and nobody heard from her the rest of the day.

All afternoon and evening, the girls were waiting for her, so excited to see their Yoma, hyper, jumping all around, asking me hundreds of times when she'd get here. They couldn't wait to play with my mom.

It usually takes five hours to make the drive. She should have arrived around 6:30pm.
At 8:30 I called my dad to let him know she wasn't here yet. He hadn't heard from her either.
We called her, texted her, left messages. Her phone would ring 6 times then go to voicemail.
Her phone was on, it was fully charged, and she had a full tank of gas when she left home.
What happened? Where could she be?!?

Mom always calls or texts me when she gets to North Carolina, or when she is about an hour away. I had the feeling that she hadn't gotten that far, that she was somewhere in Virginia. By 10pm I was imagining her laying in a ditch somewhere. At 10:30pm I called her cell phone one more time. No answer, just voicemail. I tried my best not to worry, and had some quiet Bible-reading time.

We tried thinking of ways to track Mom. Her cell phone is too old and outdated to track by GPS.
I suggested looking at cell phone records to see if she'd made any outgoing calls today after 1:30pm. She hadn't. I asked dad to check their bank record to see if any transactions had shown up. The account showed that she'd stopped at a grocery store on her way out of town, about 10 minutes south of my parents house. Nothing else.

Mike suggested going for a drive to look for her, but I vetoed the idea. It was too dark and too late. There was no way one of us would be able to cover 250 miles of highway single-handedly.

Dad asked a police friend for advice. The friend told him to start calling each state police barracks location between southern Maryland and Raleigh. I said "OK Dad, where do we start? Give me a list, I'll make some calls." He said no, he would do it. Again I said "I'll help! Tell me what I can do" but he wouldn't let me. He felt it was his responsibility to find her. I reluctantly went to bed and fell asleep a little after midnight. Meanwhile, Dad continued calling police stations.

At 1am Dad called again. I don't remember hearing the phone ring, or picking it up, all I know is that I heard his voice on the other end: "Well, I found her. She is safe." I was confused, disoriented from sleep. Where is she, Dad? How did you find her? "She's safe all right... locked up. She's in jail."

My mind was still fuzzy. What?!?
I asked a string of questions, to which I got no answer.
How did you find out? Do you know where she is?
Where is she? What happened???

"South Hill, Virginia. That's where she is.... South Hills. She didn't quite make it to North Carolina, but she almost did. She's staying in jail overnight. I don't know any other details." I told him to get some sleep. Then I tossed and turned all night.

I slept horribly. I got out of bed at 5am and have been trying to distract my mind with other things, but it hasn't been working very well. Dad said something about trying to "bail her out" later today. I still have absolutely no idea what happened. Speeding tickets, moving violation, previous record? Traffic stop gone wrong? Drinking and driving? Reckless endangerment?

Don't you get to make a phone call when you are arrested?
Why wasn't anyone contacted?!?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Amber's Day, and more about adoption.

Today is known to me as "Amber's Day". Three years ago, when Amber was just four months old, she was taken from this world and went to live in heaven.

Her mom and dad are such strong people of faith, and they have taught me so much in the past three years. Amber also has two sisters here on earth, who will one day see her in heaven, the place of no more tears. Her mom recently told me that through the loss of Amber, she has learned the difference between being "happy" and being "joyful." She said that days like this, when she remembers Amber and the life she had, are not always necessarily happy, but that God has given her an almost supernatural peace and a joy in knowing that Amber is with Jesus in heaven, which is a far better place to live. I'm so glad that I could spend time with my dear friend today, on Amber's Day. I hope that she is lifted up by those who know the grief she's beared, and that she realizes how much encouragement she brings to me personally.

Last night I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about all the different children out there without a mom and dad, without a safe, permanent place to live. Then I started thinking about all the other people related to orphans/foster kids: the agencies and caseworkers and legal guardians and lawyers and other caretakers involved. That's a whole lot of orchestrating, a lot of details and logistics to work out... and a lot of people that could be influenced and encouraged by the Gospel.

Suddenly, I realized that *I* don't have to worry about what my role will be, what I should say or do. *I* don't have to scroll through lists of names and faces, wondering if this or that child is meant to be part of our family. I don't have to, because God's got it all under control. HE is calling me (us) to foster or adopt, HE has put this burden on my heart, and HE will work it out for good. I shouldn't be worried or anxious. I don't have to stay up late at night worrying about how I can't adopt thousands of kids, of course I can't do that. But it does comfort me to know that HE has each of them in the palm of his hand.

This video is a powerful testimony of how God is using one family to reach people in Durham County through foster care and adoption:

If you are reading my blog, especially if you've stumbled upon it recently, please leave a response. It is kind of therapeutic for me to write these things down, but it is also nice to know that I'm not talking to myself all the time. It would be really nice to hear from you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adoption on my heart

For a very long time, I have been praying and hoping with all my heart that we could adopt a child.
In the last year, I have had vivid dreams and been encouraged that it will happen: we will be able to adopt a child. In fact, this fall, Mike and I will be taking foster/adoption classes.

This weekend I was feeling a huge burden on my heart for the orphans of the world. I spent some time praying for them. Hannah caught me looking at Each time she saw a picture of another orphaned child, she would ask "Mom, can we get that one? And that one? Can we adopt him? Or her? What about this one?" After 90 seconds of this I had to shut down the computer, because she was so insistent, so excited, and it was really difficult for me to explain to her that it's not nearly so easy. Bureaucracy, government, and red tape get in the way.

I often go to and scroll through the stories and pictures there.
Today I found this one:
 I have seen this picture several times before, read the profile, looked at this sweet face. But today something in my heart asked "Is this the one?" I have no idea if we would be able to parent someone with vast medical, physical and emotional needs. I don't know if we are the right family for him. But I do know that he, and thousands of other children, need a forever home.

I read a statistic last month that said something like "If some-percentage of all Christian families adopted just one child, there would be no more orphans." I wish I could find a reference for that. I really wish more people would consider adoption.

On further study, here's an interesting article:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Every weekday morning, around 8am, I watch and wave to Hannah as she rides away on the big yellow school bus. And each time I do, a special piece of my heart breaks all over again. I am not sad that she is growing up, becoming more mature and confident, or learning new things. I appreciate those changes. It is because she is doing it away from me, our home, our family... during the week, she spends about five times more time sitting in school as she does playing at home.

I wish with all my heart that I could homeschool her. She would learn things much more quickly. She could have many many more hours with her parents, siblings and friends. We would have so many more opportunities for field trips and fun days and playtime and family time.

Last summer I was struggling with the decision to put her in public school. It hasn't been the ideal educational experience, but I know she has changed and grown a lot. I love seeing that she is more confident, less shy, more sure of herself. Now that we are moving next month, I have to decide on the best school for her in Orange County. The options are limited.

Last week I toured our new neighborhood's public school. The building itself was pretty nice, but the school receptionist couldn't tell me a lot of specifics about the student body, the way a typical student's day goes, the school's philosophy of learning. She basically just gave me a tour of the physical building, and vaguely answered some (not all) of my questions. It's kind of like taking a tour of a church building. You can look at bricks, mortar, and stained glass windows all day long, but it won't help you learn about the community of people, the atmosphere of worship, the ways God is working in their lives, or the reasoning behind why they do what they do.

All that being said, I am saddened at the prospect of continuing to send Hannah away for her education. I've always thought that learning should begin at home - why not just keep it there? My husband doesn't see it this way. He thinks homeschool is more trouble than it's worth, that it would be too much of an extra burden for me with three, possibly four children at home. I am not nagging or continuing to argue with him. Instead, I am coming up with a plan of action to convince him that we should give it another trial run later this summer. I am still formulating my plan, and everyday I pray that God will give me wisdom and clarity about this decision. If I'm not meant to homeschool at this time, I will honor that, but I want it to be made clear to us.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day brunch

After church today, we got home around 1pm. As usual, Noah was asleep, but I made "brunch" for me and the kids: 6 sausages, 5 scrambled eggs, 4 pieces of toast with jelly, 3 cups of milk, 2 cheese sticks (1 for each girl), and a side of steamed broccoli and carrots. Guess who didn't eat any veggies?

If it wasn't raining. I'd love to go outside and use my new (that is, new-to-me) bike trailer.
I really need to get new bike helmets, for each one of us. 
Aliah has such a big head... I haven't found one that fits her properly yet.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Inspections and repairs.

Today we did inspections on the new house, and got back the inspection report for our little brown house. Mike is now completely stressed and overwhelmed at the amount of expensive repairs they are asking us to complete.... within the next 2-4 weeks. It's completely ridiculous. If you don't want to do any repairs, then don't try to buy a 32 year old house!

He actually said something like "Maybe we should just give up on the whole thing and walk away. Stay here for another year, do those major repairs bit by bit, and try to sell the house again next spring." Hopefully in a couple months we will be laughing at those words. I highly doubt that just giving up and not moving is the right answer. I don't know why he'd want to give up on the whole thing. But they are asking for some completely ludicrous repairs: replacing ALL the siding on the house? New windows and windowseals everywhere? Incorrect brace sizes on the deck and treehouse? And something about our AC not working properly (the unit was replaced in 2009!). SO many tedious things... Ugh it makes tired just thinking about all the money it would take to do what they are asking. There's just no way.

I love my husband, but sometimes he is just too headstrong.
Why would he give up now?
Who says we have to do any repairs, really?
Don't you get what you pay for?!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We have a new house!

One week later, they finally accepted our offer for the new house.
We went back and forth every day on the price and the conditions...
but I think we've finally nailed down the details of the contract.
Tentative moving date: June 11th. Right after school ends.
It will certainly be a busy summer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New house?

This morning we officially put in an offer on a new house, the one we've been referring to as "Mike's favorite house" for the past three weeks. Twelve hours later, at 9pm, we finally hear back from the sellers. The realtor tells us that they aren't willing to budge on the asking price. This house has been on the market for OVER 300 DAYS! You'd expect them to be willing to work with us. What happens if Mike's dream house is $5,000 more than we think we can afford? What does that mean, and where does it leave us?

Throughout this whole house-hunting process, I have been praying for wisdom and hoping that we don't become selfish or greedy by asking for too much. I am still hoping and praying for these things, but even more so now that I'm realizing how quickly things can change. I am trying hard to go in the direction that God has mapped out for me and my family. But this mission is especially difficult when Mike and I are convinced that we should be going completely separate ways!

Money comes and goes so fast... I don't want to have to focus on it. I want us to put time and energy and resources into things that have lasting value. Like children. New generations of kids growing up to love God and each other and the world around them. Church planting and kingdom building. Sharing the truth of God's love with friends as well as strangers. Memories and unique experiences. The kind of things that are really priceless.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

To Be or Not To Be...

Shhh... don't tell anyone that I told you this, but....  I almost bought a pregnancy test today.

That's right: A pregnancy test.
I was going to take it in the morning, because it has been almost five weeks since my last period (I think today is cycle day 34?). I've never gone 5 weeks between periods, unless there was something wrong, or maybe if it was immediately following a miscarriage. True, I've only had three cycles since I quit breastfeeding Noah, but they haven't been more than 30 days long. And I know there's a less-than-one-percent chance that I could have gotten pregnant this month. But I also know that God sometimes has very strange and unexpected timing, and that He can do anything He wants, so there is always that possibility, that the unthinkable might happen. I realized the possibility this morning, so all day long, I've been running to the bathroom and checking the TP for any signs of blood, second-guessing every tiny twinge or make-up symptom I might have. This evening I even went online and checked one of those due-date predictor calculators, based on my LMP. And you'll never guess what it said: December 24th. That was Aliah's due date!

Anyway, I don't have to worry about any of that right now, because I've started spotting and am getting cramps, so I'm fairly certain that my period is on it's way.

Still, there's nothing like a tiny pregnancy scare to make you realize that maybe you do want more kids, someday, after all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"It's showtime."

We have had five showings since Sunday and I have been running ragged, completely stressed out and impatient, because I have to keep the house spotless and ready to be shown at any time. Even if it's the middle of mealtime, even if someone is sick, no matter who might be sleeping or how many kids are at my house, I have to be ready to pick up and leave at a moment's notice. And wash every fingerprint off the windows, and hide every toy and crumb and dirty item of clothing or shoes, and clean up every speck of dust, too. Then lock every door, shove the kids in the car, and go. Somewhere, I don't know where, just... away. Then come home and find something to do that doesn't involve too much mess or loud noise, and isn't something that I've already packed away and put into storage. It is really wearing on me. To the point that I am becoming Mean Mommy and Whiny Wife.

Fortunately, God answers prayers, because I won't be doing that ANY MORE!!!
This morning we woke up to the news that BOTH of the potential sellers who toured our house yesterday have made an offer to buy our little house. One of them is willing to pay full price, no stipulations, no questions asked. It's only been on the market for sixteen days! This is so amazing. We'll be working out all the details throughout the day, but in the meantime, I think it's safe to say: WE HAVE A BUYER!!!

Thank you God, for hearing and answering our prayers.
I'm excited to find our new home, and see what God has in store for us at this new place.
I will continue to pray for wisdom as Mike and I make big decisions in the days ahead.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cleaning and Expecting

For the last three days, I have gotten up two hours early and spent that time cleaning, scrubbing, washing, organizing, discarding, and putting things away properly. Along the way I am sometimes thanking God and preparing for our day, but my thoughts and motives are primarily about getting our house to look spotless for any unexpected visitors that might want a tour of our home.

Then the kids wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast.... while I am frantically going behind them and cleaning up every crumb, speck of dust, each dropped sock or toy or out-of-place Lego piece, etc. A friend walked into this house yesterday and said "Wow. This place doesn't even really look lived-in." Well believe me lady, we are still living here. It just takes a ton of work to make it look like we don't.

Now it's 2pm on Saturday and I keep expecting a phone call, but no one has called about the house since Monday morning. Am I anxious and expectant? Am I too impatient? I think the correct answer is "yes."

I think I am expecting God to meet MY goals on MY timeline, instead of waiting for Him to do His work.

I am still convinced that He has big plans for our family, plans that involved sacrifice and change, but Mike isn't quite seeing the same big picture as me (yet?). Right now he is convinced that moving to the next county, rather than staying in Durham, and "sacrificing" by staying at a job that he doesn't really like, is the sacrifice I must be talking about. And he thinks the "big plans" and "change" must refer to the foster care & adoption classes we plan to take later this year. Even though these are changes and plans, I think that God is asking something more than that from our family. I'm just not able to explain it in words or see it clearly yet.

I need to trust in God's good plans for us, and rest in the promise that they are better than anything I can dream up on my own.

On that note, I'm going to go read Proverbs 3 now, while the little kids are still taking a nap.

If you read this, reply by telling me what you're doing this weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wisdom & Clarity

Taking baby steps. One foot in front of the other.
I am slowly becoming more bold about witnessing to people.

Today I realized that I was able to mention prayer and God in three different conversations over the past 24 hours, all to non-believers/non-religious-practicing people. God is working in me, and I think it's actually beginning to show. I felt His presence with me this morning. I know that He is close to me, looking out for me and my family.

I am continuing to pray for wisdom about selling our house and buying a new one. I don't want us to be greedy or worldly in our goals. Yesterday we toured 4 or 5 houses. Mike fell in love with one of them. It's just inside Orange County. It has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a sunroom, a huge garage, and 3 acres of land. He could be happy living there forever. But God is not calling us just to be content and stay inside our own little comfort zone for the rest of our lives. He wants us to live our lives for Him. And that often involves sacrifice. For us, that might mean moving away from our best friends.

I don't know what exactly this means that He wants from us, but I know it is something big.

I am just praying for wisdom and clarity.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

boxes, boxes, and more boxes

It has only been one week since Mike woke up in the morning and said "I'm going to take a drive over to a house." I had no idea what he was talking a about. I figured he was buying something off of craigslist, or looking at someone's yard who had bees, or just taking a drive for the fun of it. But it wasn't any of those things. No, he meant that he wanted to BUY a house. Which means that we have to SELL this house.

I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but it means a TON of work.
This weekend we rented a storage unit, and it is already 50% full of stuff.
I have been trying to move things out as fast as I can, but I am just completely overwhelmed.

And I am already sick of packing. It's only been one week, I know, but I am tired of it.
Every night we run out of empty boxes, and everyday when we go out, we dumpster dive for more.

Mike wants the house to be on the market within the next ten days.
I think it would be more realistic if he gave it until the end of the month... but he wants it done ASAP.
I understand him wanting our "little house" to sell quickly, but there are no guarantees.

Then last night he asked me a funny question: What do you think about this, spiritually? How do you think God feels about us moving to a bigger house? I said that if God wanted to bless us with more living space, then He would. He pointed out that if we wanted to do foster care/adoption then we would need more bedrooms. Good thinking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shark Bite snow cones, etc.

Yesterday, if I was still a loyal facebooker, my status in the afternoon would have been something like "Pelican Snoballs rock; Noah just ate his first one." He also fell off a chair while I was taking a picture of one of the other kids, hit the pavement with his head, and somehow managed to split his lip open in two places.
Today he has a fat lip.

Diego and Hannah ate some kind of sour concoction called "Shark Bite", and Aliah stuck with her favorite the "princess" snowcone. We went to Hannah's doctor appointment looking like our faces and mouths had been dyed purple and blue. How appealing.

I have had a headache all day. I just fed the kids cereal and raisins for dinner. The little ones didn't complain at all. Hopefully we won't be nutritionally deficient or scarred for life because of this sub-par meal. I honestly hate to cook dinner. Especially when it's warm outside, like it is today (85 degrees here!).

Edited to add: Hannah is boycotting dinner and homework. Fun times.
She swings wildly between "Best Helper Ever" and "Worst Pre-Teen Drama-Queen Attitude".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yesterday when Mike checked the mail, he found two magazines for me. One was a parenting magazine, the other was a homeschooling catalog. He brought it inside and excitedly said "You should take a look at this homeschool catalog. I bet you could get last year's books on sale really cheap!" I was amazed: was he suggesting what I thought he might be suggesting?! A little seed-thought was planted in my mind: What if I should home-school next year?
I had dropped the idea for awhile because he seemed so totally against it. But now I am tempted to give him an ultimatum, and suggest that if Hannah does not get accepted into any of the magnet or charter schools we've applied to, then maybe it means that God wants her to learn from home next year (along with the younger kids, of course).

I continue to be awed by the way God has calmed all my fears and worries on the subject of education. I am completely confident that He will lead us in the direction that he wants our family to go, whether it is public school, homeschool, or something else. Last year at this time I was so torn and distraught about all the different schooling options out there. But now I'm completely at peace and not losing any sleep about it at all. It makes a huge difference when you trust in God, and not yourself.

Friday, February 3, 2012

February photo challenge

Ok, this month I am challenging myself to take one random picture a day.
I am doing it along with my friend Carolyn. (Thanks!)
This doesn't necessarily mean I will post them everyday though... we'll see if I can stick with it.
Here is a link to the list.

1. my view
My front yard... we spent quite a few hours here today.

2. words
These are "Haikubes", courtesy of my mother.

3. hands