bare white

bare white


We are over here today....

A few months ago, right before I delivered RJ - a sweet friend of mine, Katie, asked if I would write a post along with a bunch of other women, for her "Intentional Mothering" series she is having this month on her blog....I was humbled by this asking and honored! Time went by and lots of thinking & prayer went into what should be written. So from my momma's heart to yours - catch the Glorious in the Mundane and let it change your view!  Let it make you joyful & thankful!
Todays the day...check out her blog!

Echoes of My Heart


Craziness! Kids! And more kids!

I'm sure there are many people who think we are crazy for having more than the average amount of kids. And there are probably even more that would say I am out of my mind for even entertaining the idea of wanting to have more kids. (I am sure my husband may fall into this category!  heehee!)
However I wanted to share this, just from my heart. I do NOT think that having a large family is for everyone. I understand that it is a very personal decision. I understand why some make the decision to not have big family.
I also am not claiming that it is always fabulously, wonderful every second of the day or that I maintain my cool all of the time. If you follow this journey we call life you will see that clear as day. We have great days and we have absolutely insane days. What I will tell you is every day it brings me to my knees. To my knees in thankfulness, in fear, in joy, in apologies, in frustration and in moments of thinking "there is no way I can do this". And every day I am reminded God's love and grace is enough. Period. He is enough. And HE is all I need.

So if you are one of the many wondering why we have "more than the average" kids - here is why :

This is it. The first time since we started having kids that even I fully see how wonderful it is. This little one adores this bigger one. He fully trusts her, he fully loves her. And these moments here are why. She loves him, I love them. Yes she is an amazing helper - I cannot imagine this journey without her, but more than that she loves him differently than I have seen her before. She's that much older. She's that much more capable. She's trustworthy and gets it. And this little one has changed her view, her outlook and even her love for her other siblings. She sees the value in a living, breathing, precious human life and how in a second that can be gone if God so wills just because she is old enough to "get it".
So this is it - yes I believe children are a blessing, yes I LOVE having a bigger family, yes I even love the craziness it inevitably brings. But even more than that, I love what is brings about it them! I love seeing it transform each one just a little bit more every day. 

From Arae :
"I love being the leader of the kids because they look up to me. It makes me feel very special! I like being old enough so I can take care of RJ. I like when my mom calls me the "baby whisperer" because I can get him to fall asleep. 
Having a little sister is really fun because she always says "I wuv you Arae!"She likes to do the things I like to do...wearing my sunglasses - upside down, pretending to go to school like me, and changing her babies diapers like I sometimes do with RJ. 
Having a lot of siblings is cool!"


Opposites attract...and opposite children we have

We are learning over here on Cherry Street...learning new things about ourselves and each other.  The little ones are growing and getting bigger. The bigger ones are growing and changing and getting older. Which means DJ and I are definitely getting older and hopefully wiser along the way. Wisdom...something I long for more and more every day - the ability to judge what is true, right and lasting. 

I have been praying lately for this very thing. Wisdom in handling life as it comes some days without warning. Don't you just love those days...the ones without warning?? We've had a lot recently. I need wisdom in raising the little kids and bigger kids all at the same time. This is truly proving to be an interesting endeavor. One that I have to consciously breathe through.

Here is what I am learning along the way : 

-No two children are the same no matter how much they may be alike. 

-Different kids will struggle with completely different things....just when I feel like I have taught one, one thing I am turning around teaching the next one the same thing in a different way because...

-...The way one learns most likely is not the way the other learns. (We have opposite learners in our household)

-Each child has a bend in a direction - how they learn, how the move about the day, how they pick up (or don't), how they eat (honestly, my 2 year old is a cleaner eater than my 7 year old...he is what we fondly call a "two fister") and how they do the things they love to do, their desires and wants.

-Some days they just need me - to sit on a lap; be with them. Bitty has told me often lately, "I need Mommy" and all she wants is my attention and lap. She doesn't need help with anything just ME. I'm learning to listen for these cues.

-Some days I just need them - to hold them close

-What the world expects them to go through and when is NOT always when it happens because what "they" don't factor in is life; circumstances out of our control and ultimately in our Master's hands.

When I really sit and think about where I am as a Mom right now I'm realizing I have 5 balls I am juggling high in the air at the same time. And every once in awhile I see I have dropped a ball or some days all of them. While other days, moments I am juggling well. This is why I pray deeply for wisdom! Each day proves to be a different day, a different challenge and full of different joys. Then for a split second I see a little progress made, a little more independence gained, a little wing that grew a touch more and I breath in deep the achievement they have made and praise them for that accomplishment. Ahhh, these are good moments!

What keeps me sane some days is writing down this thankfulness I store up inside...sometimes too deep that I need to be reminded and that thankfulness needs to come out in penned down. It allows me to see some of the beauty around me in the very little things. And realizing nothing is random to our God. Everything happens for a purpose, a reason for those who love HIM.  I get so caught up in the little things that I need to be reminded those days to trust and be thankful. Every day I need to have my God "antennae" out to pick up the faintest glimmer of HIM, His finger prints, His moving about in our lives, conscious of HIM in all of my daily routine. 

This is our daily routine, life as we know it....I am thankful!

She's becoming a very thought provoking person. Which is keeping me and her daddy on our toes and knees. In many ways, way beyond her years. In many ways her age. 

Bitty, in a totally different way, keeps us on our toes. She is something!! Almost daily sporting her little "Cindy-Lou-Who" sprout. This little independent girl enjoys doing everything on her own. 

This Man is "mister dependence" - so opposite of his little sister. He likes everyone to do everything for him. While Bitty gets dressed all on her own, he is very content to have me help him. 

Sweet sleeping baby - if you follow me on instagram you know how often I post these...he melts me just as they all did when they slept at this age...okay I still love watching them all sleep. 

If she isn't sporting a "sprout" she has crazy, ragamuffin hair.

Science Fair day - they worked so hard...okay so this Momma worked hard too...but they LOVED their topics and knew them well.
This is why I pray for wisdom...they are all SO different. This project alone gave me great insight into just that.

Crazy Kobo - he wants to be a zoologist & police man ...some how he thinks he can do both! This project only made his love of animals grow. He only sleeps with about 50 in his bed...knowing when one is missing. We tried narrowing them down for him without him knowing...unsuccessful! He "sensed" some were gone.

This girls was fascinated with birds nest this year. We collected them for a year and did lots of research on ALL the different kinds. Who knew there were SO many different nests. What a creative God! 

Typical...just typical!


It's a 'Monday kind of Tuesday' type of day

You know, the kind that you feel the moment you roll out of bed. The kind that makes you want to roll back INTO bed and sleep a bit longer and then try again. Like the 2nd grade do-overs we had when we played anything as a kid and it wasn't going our way. The kind that, from the get go, you are four steps behind. That's the kind of day today has been. A dreary day on what is a truly beautiful, cold sunny day.

I cannot put my finger on why. Maybe it is because I am trying to stop my carbonated beverage addiction intake so my head is pounding like a loud drum that just won't stop. Maybe it is because I have this sweet baby boy, just barely out of what was once a swollen womb, waking me often in the wee hours of the night. Maybe it is because I had to stop an argument the moment I walked down our steps and then what seemed like every few minutes afterward.  Whatever the reason, it happened. And for some reason it seems like it should be nearing dinner time and when I look at that ticking clock hanging on my grey wall I realize the seconds just seem to go slower and slower. Can that be?

These are the days I feel like I just keep failing as a Momma. I let words spill, like that glass of milk earlier, and I just cannot clean them up fast enough. These are the days that I try to shine for my kids, but for some reason I cannot seem to get out of my warm, comfy pjs...even they notice as I am driving down the street, wave to a neighbor in the car passing us and my oldest says, "Mom why did you you really want them to see you like that?" I laugh. I have to laugh to get through this 'Monday kind of Tuesday' day.  I am telling myself to laugh so I don't cry.

These are the days I wonder why God has allowed me to be a mom because after 9 years I still cannot get it right. I know I am not alone. I know there are other Moms that feel this way. I know you are out there and have had these same kind of PJ wearing, neighbor seeing, child embarrassing kind of days.
These are the days I cling ever so tightly to these words :

"I shower blessings on you daily, but sometimes you don't perceive them. When your mind is stuck on a negative focus, you see neither Me or My gifts. In faith, thank Me for whatever is preoccupying your mind. This will clear the blockage so that you can find Me." (Jesus Calling)

HE wants to inhabit my thoughts - no matter how rocky they may be. He wants to inhabit my words - even when they seem to spill. HE wants to inhabit me so I can reflect HIM to my silly, crazy, loving, sweet, argumentative, tiring, precious kids.

SO I give thanks :
- thank you for the shampoo in the shower
- thank you that I managed to get a peaceful shower even though it was well past lunch time
- thank you for the littlest one deciding he wanted to sleep all afternoon - I needed that this day.
- thank you for a piano teacher that walks down to pick up my piano student
- thank you for ice tea
- thank you for a messy house and that I am madly in love with all 8 of the hands that got it that way
- thank you for a husband who loves me, checks in on me and won't be home for awhile so I can get the house picked back up
- thank you for slippers - warm slippers
- thank you for big blue eyes staring at me when she wakes up from her sleepy nap
- thank you for chipped finger nail polish
- thank you for the snack stealing little girl who just keeps forgetting our rule that she isn't allowed to get her own snacks
- thank you for gluten free pretzels
- thank you for Reese's peanut butter cups
- thank you for Sunshine today because if it was another cloudy day I may just have rolled back into bed
- thank you for pictures to remind us Spring will will come!

 - thank you that I was able to write this without sweet baby waking up so I can remember on the next cloudy day what this day looked like and the cure - Give Thanks! Eucharisteo!


Food, Memories and a Lane Change

I've mentioned before how I kinda grew up in a family in which all of us, at one time or another, became, well -  kinda foodies.  Having a grandmother who baked all of the time and working in our family's Restaurant since I can remember definitely played a huge part in this. It made it hard to resist homemade everything and anything. It also gave me a love for cooking and baking. I have so many amazing memories that all started around our table, eating delicious food prepared by grandma Helen, my mom and aunts.  Not only memories but amazing, heart to heart conversations happened around that same, large table. As well as Bible reading from my grandfather, and prayers - deep, earnest, heartfelt prayers. It was around this same table we all gathered the day grandpa Gene died and beat us all to heaven. We gathered to eat and remember, knowing that table will never be quite the same.

Well, life has just become a little interesting for us this past year...namely the past month or so. Our oldest, who just turned nine during our bitter cold winter, has had sensitive skin since the moment she entered this world flailing her arms wildly about. The sensitive skin turned to eczema early on. Mostly brought about by our crazy mid-western weather changes and new from the store clothing that had not been washed first. Last year it took a turn for the worse and I still put it off thinking it was just her eczema getting worse and bathe her in any natural lotion remedy we could get our hands on. Winter turned to spring, turned to summer and it started looking better, but still never went away fully. Last summer, turned to fall, turned to bitter cold winter and her skin turned bright red, dry, cracking, itching then burning and hurting - a vicious cycle - primarily on her arms but also on her legs some.  This year there was also a new addition...what appeared to be, blisters....tiny blisters. (If you would like to view of pictures of this - dermatitis herpetiformis) So after visiting our Chiropractor we decided to take all gluten out of her diet. This is no easy feat - for those of you who have taken gluten out know what I am talking about. After a couple of weeks of TRYING to take all gluten out, her arms started looking better - for the first time in what seemed like forever. So we did our own little test, put gluten back in for a day, the next morning we woke up to a little, big girl with arms so raw and red again. I went back to the researching trying to find out what all gluten is in....oh my goodness - it is in everything. Everything.

As of now, we are hopeful it is only a severe reaction/allergy/sensitivity to gluten and not Celiac Disease. But either way, we are on the road to becoming gluten free. And a road, or rather highway, it is.

Growing up in this restaurant gave us all a love for grandmas dinner rolls. Afterall, whenever we'd walk into their home and a home it was - so comforting, so peaceful, we'd smell the dough immediately. Now that this gluten intolerance has graced itself into our lives I am on a mission to find a way to make amazing food - Grandma Helen worthy - that can be served around our table safely for all to indulge in. I may post a few findings here for other gluten free families to enjoy. So stay tuned - on our journey! Life truly is a joyous journey!


10 years and a year and a half ago

10 years ago today I was giddy like a child awaiting Christmas morning. I knew when I woke up the next day, everything would change again.
10 years and a year and a half ago, my life did change. It was the start of everything and then end of somethings.

It started with a wedding of a friend. Then visiting and hanging out and riding go-carts - which began in innocent fun, but quickly turned into a competitive go-cart race - I have the scar to prove it. Then leaving on a plane that never left the ground...for him. This was the day everything changed.

She raced us home from an early morning workout (yes, these were the days that activity was consistent for me) as we were listening to the radio we heard what seemed to be like a joke - a sick joke. We were fearful. We knew he flew out that morning...could he have been on one of those flights? Where was he? We pulled into the driveway and ran recklessly inside to see if everyone else had heard what we unbelievably did. They had. And there he was sitting on the couch - his flight had not left. "Thank you Jesus!" was all that exhaled from my body. This was the day our worlds collided in a way neither one of us thought, expected or even first. Truthfully, I prayed against it.  I was ready to travel the world and do and be whatever God wanted and wherever the wind blew.  I love to travel and see things I have never seen before. I love seeing how big our God is and how creative He was when He spoke our world into existence.

Nonetheless, we were stuck. Stuck in a Big state trying to get home to our much smaller states. Stranded with no proverbial end in site. Until...Honey. I don't mean honey as in sweet like Honey - though he was ever so sweet. I mean Honey as in his grandpa...that Honey. That's what they have called him since...well, forever.
Honey and Mam'ma came to drive him back to where he flew out of. I was the stow-away....or at least a girl who needed a ride to get me a little closer to what I called home. By this point, there was a mutual "intrigue".  The conversation was constant for our 22 hour hike. He offered to drive but it was short lived and then he was back in the seat next to me. Honey relentlessly teased him for this one thing. His grandfather was in his 80's driving us as far as he could, just because he knew we needed help. Little did Honey know he was part of a grander plan. He was part of a Glorious plan. He was a part of the rest of our lives.

Let me back up a bit and explain just why we were stuck. It was because of something horrific. I mentioned earlier that this time was the end of some things in our lives. It was the end of safety as we knew it. It was the end of flying fearlessly. It was the end of visiting the Big Apple as the way it was known by all.  It was the end of  innocence for so many. Our children, who had not even been a thought in our childish minds, would never know the world as we knew it. However, when the terrorists of those planes crashed into the towers of New York City, they had no idea they were really part of a beautiful plan. As horrific as it was, God worked something something amazing and something  that no one will ever forget. He took something so ugly and made it lovely.  But isn't that how our God works? Every day of our lives trading our sorrow and our sin for good? All is grace, beautiful grace! Trading ashes for beauty...only He can do that.

So we were stuck in that Big state with no way home except by the kindness of Honey.  Honey was our saving grace when the world stopped turning as we knew it. Like I mentioned, we talked the whole trip, asking silly question after silly question. We stopped for short breaks to stretch our cramping backs. We made it to his parents house finally in the ever so sleepy hours of the morning.  But made it, we did!

By this time my heart was beating a  little stronger, a little faster because of him. There was something different about him. He captured my sights and I just couldn't seem to look away. He was strong, steady...I needed (still do) steady. He had a deep voice, strong hands and those eyes...I couldn't look right into them, but I wanted to. I couldn't look into them because I knew he could read me. But these eyes, they captured me. The color of these eyes - well just look into our first born son and you will see. Someday his wife will understand exactly what I mean about "those eyes'.

We had a whole day before my parents could meet us in the middle of our two states and truthfully, I was glad...silly glad.  I was thrilled to see my family again...I was thrilled to have them meet this guy, but I was so thankful I had another day to learn more about the one who made a heart beat heart.

My parents knew, just as parents always do, I had someone for them to meet. And meet him, they did.
I told you, everything changed 10 years and a year and a half ago. Everything changed for him, for me. It was the start to our lives as we would come to know them.
10 years ago was the eve before I married this man. So to say I was giddy like a child awaiting Christmas morning is a bit of an understatement. I knew, when I woke up on March 7, 2003, I was going to get to marry this man. I knew our, what seemed never ending, drives between our states would be truly ending. I knew I would get to spend every waking moment with him. I knew I would be the one to have his children (...didn't know it would happen quite as fast as it did, but not for one second would I change a thing). I knew this was the start to our lives together. And together was where I wanted to be. And from here on out, we are just kinda...stuck like glue. And I like it that way.

Happy 10 years to the love of my life!

You & Me


The best elixir I know...being still

It makes us stop dead in our tracks, forces us to SLOW down and be still like a bitter, winter storm and icy roads frozen solid - wether we like to or not.  It makes me thankful for the times we aren't dealing with this unending bout with sickness.

However, it forces us to stay home and enjoy home. On the sit with the sick all the while trying to comfort a throbbing head and the burning ever so hot fever. Just holding sometimes is the only medicine we can offer and sometimes the best elixir for these long days.  

Being summoned by Bitty saying, "I need you mommy" is heart breaking for me, but yet so rewarding to know as a momma and as a daddy - we are the ones who can make it all better.  It forces me to sit and leave the dishes and laundry, toilets and vacuuming for the healthy days - just be. Be with them.

I am reading "Jesus Calling" right now and loving each day. Each day a new reminder of what Jesus wants to tell me.  "I am leading you, step by step, through your life. Hold my hand in trusting dependence, letting Me guide you through this day. Your future looks uncertain and feels flimsy - even precarious. That is how it should be...This, like all forms of worry is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you." (-Jesus Calling)

So if you haven't figured out by no, I tend to worry. I remember as a child my mom telling me to stop worrying or else I would give my self a heart attack. I am sure you can imagine then what would overcome my thoughts, "a heart attack?!?" The vicious cycle would begin again in my worry-muddled mind. 

This week has been a challenge as I have let worry filled thoughts consume my mind as we have sick little ones at home - trying desperately to keep the littlest one or all healthy -  all the while fearful he will get sick too. So I needed 'Jesus Calling' me this morning to remind me to rest in Him and be still. How ironic that if the sickness isn't enough to slow me down, maybe this slipper, icy, snowy day will.


How lovely of my Savior to force me to SLOW all the while sending the beautiful snow is to cover the dark, dreary, muddy mess! A good day to sit and be. A good day for tea and chicken soup. A good day!


Gift of words

Last night we had a dinner with all of the guys Jason works with and for. I had been looking forward to the evening and getting to know all of the wives better. It was a night of dinner, conversation and visiting. I went into it knowing we would have a good time and great food, but what I didn't realize is how we would leave feeling blessed by words...blessed with encouragement and friendship.

eucharisteo for godly employers

I have never been to a work function before where one of the bosses called on some of their clients to write encouragement for the guys working for them. It is easy to say, "good job" but how often do we give encouragement to those around us on a deeper level. Not very! This is exactly what his boss did though and it was truly a blessing!  When he finished giving all of the guys uplifting words he turned to the wives stating he didn't want us to feel left out so he had emailed all of our husbands asking them to write a few sentences about what they love about each of us. Really?! I couldn't believe it - he then went on to read them and the words of our hard working husbands blessed all of us wives immensely. There were moist eyes, laughter and very deep, sincere smiles all around. What an incredibly special night it was!

It made me think and question -
How often do I thank my husband for working hard to provide for our ever growing family? How often do I tell him WHY I love him, WHY I adore him, WHY I cherish him, WHY I am so glad he is the one I am spending this adventure we call life with? How often to I give my kids detailed words of love and encouragement. The words, "I love you" can often become rote. I truly mean them, but they also come out of my mouth mechanically at times...dare I say almost without thought.
As I was awoken to see this evening again, the po
wer of WORDS. The power to uplift, bless - "sweet like honeycomb" (Prov. 16:24).  And on the flip side "death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21). It is easy to see the hard negative, the "uh-oh" mistakes, the silly forgetfulness and the times of wrong - I have plenty of words to say about those times. Just maybe I need to stop, be still a moment or two and see the good, the helpful, the blessing, the sweet and learning times and say far more about each of those.  Maybe just saying "thank you" would be a good takes me right back to Eucharisteo.

my  adventure partner