Saturday, February 27, 2016

Anniversaries

Today, February 26th, marks 11 years of marriage for us. That's a really long time. I'm pretty sure we should be pros by now. 


But, not yet.

I'm not sure if you're like us, but it is interesting how even small differences can lead to big discussions. The first time we attended a Weekend to Remember was in our second year of marriage. We came away refreshed. This time, we came away shaking our heads. We've so much to still learn. The gist of the conference was dying to yourself- submitting yourself to do marriage God's way even if your spouse is not reciprocating. It's a call to live different and reliant. And, it's not easy. There was so much talk about how much God cares for marriages and how the enemy despises them. I'm not sure where my doubt crept in but sometimes a lot of head knowledges longs for equal heaps of heart knowledge to know the truth. I needed a good dose of heart knowledge that God did care and could help us concerning one discussion Jason and I might as well be on a merry-go-round about.

And, there, right in the middle of talking and me secretly begging God to shed some light and show his pleasure for our marriage, He did. As clear as day I saw a picture in my mind that explained so much of this little puzzle I have been trying to solve for years. And unlike before, I was filled with compassion and humbled. God does care for marriages. Last Saturday night my heap of heart knowledge on that fact was poured out. Jesus, indeed, champions marriages. He gives such good gifts and longs for us to steward them well. But we can't do it well without relying on him relentlessly. 

We have experienced 11 years of adventure and goodness. Tonight we celebrated with food and prayer and cleaning up dog pee. I've made it my goal this year to speak love better in Jason's language. While Jason's desire and our new lab ownership is a long, soon to be shared, story, that puppy is a very physical sign of dying to myself and loving Jason in a language he understands. So bring on the other baby dog responsibilities, learning this love language is worth the work!


If you've never been to a Weekend to Remember, we can't recommend it enough. Family Life does such an excellent job with these weekends. Check out the link here to learn more and find out if a weekend might be hosted in a city near you. They didn't even pay us to say that. The weekends are just that good.



Friday, January 29, 2016

InstaFriday

A few pictures from our week including last weekend's wintery fun. 


Lerah's first time really getting to experience snow. She didn't like gloves or layers of clothes and she definitely didn't like the snow. She's normally so joyful. We never would have guessed it?!










This month we started working through a new experiment with chores and responsibilities. One of the kids' new roles is chef as they help plan, purchase and prepare one meal a month. This was Chef Reshma's night!



Admiring our new backyard covered in snow the true South Georgia way. 


Coming back from exploring in the neighborhood with the ever essential hot chocolate in hand. 


We still have our snow picture from two years ago hanging on the fridge. It's amazing the differences both physically and emotionally that have taken place between those two pictures! Such great progress!

It's amazing what can make you giddy. Late night shopping trips with my dear cousin topped the week as a favorite. This girl inspires me in her faith and her faithfulness! If only Alabama wasn't so far away!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Say It Ain't So

Here it is. Three unrelated photos from this past week that could all share the same caption.



We took much too long of a break from any sort of exercise the last six months. Moving and renovating was exercise enough but apparently not good at building endurance as I lasted all of 20 reps on a pilates move the other day. Finally last week we reinstated our beloved family walks.  They are simple. We walk around our neighborhood. Sometimes the kids play games with sticks as we go and almost always Levi asks to be carried at some point. Once we find our rhythm again and exercise becomes a regular occurance maybe I won't quit and shut the whole video off like I did last week when the instructor said, "let's make it to 100."



She loves to eat and her seven teeth serve her well. This past week I gave her some raisins and in an instant she had them shoved into her mouth by the fistful and had apparently swallowed them whole. "All done," I told her. "You have to chew." The look of utter sadness combined with that belly made me laugh hard. Despite the cuteness I held my ground. Gotta learn to chew next time, Bear Bear!

Finally, on a very serious note, I still can't believe the news I got last week.


She sat in my kitchen a month ago eating sandwiches, talking about her grandchildren and, as always, encouraging my faith. Usually at our meetings she'd bring a book to challenge me or some printed article. But, in a blink, right after Christmas, she got incredibly sick and in a matter of days passed away unexpectedly. I didn't know anything until my neighbor called to tell me. 

Years ago when I was a college student this dear mentor showed incredible concern when I got sick in the library where she worked. That established our relationship and she'd been caring for me from both near and far for over ten years. I still remember us whispering in the library about some great secrets we had discovered spiritually and the encouragement that I could tell was becoming mutual from our visits. The very last book she gave me from her personal library was Appointments with Heaven. I can almost hear her saying as she's now experiencing the very place, "Oh, Kelley, it's wonderful!"

Her passing challenges me to be more intentional in how I invest in others. To make time to see someone or send a letter or take a gift. To pray fervently for others. To still get giddy when I talk about God at work. To be more diligent with exercise. And, to eat Hershey's candy cane kisses (one of her favorites and the gift she brought me our last visit together) in her memory every Christmas! Mrs. Crawford will be deeply missed because she deeply loved. I was one of the  blessed recipients.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Looking Back and Ahead

In 2014 we added two daughters to our family, faced emergency surgery for Jason and entered our last year in our on-campus job. We never knew 2015 would equal if not even surpass the previous year in it's eventfulness.
Holi 2015

Jason's younger brother's wedding

When Levi was three we watched him struggle with sleep apnea. After a visit with a pediatrician and ENT specialist, we knew he'd have to have surgery to remove his huge tonsils. Early in 2015 our boy showed incredible courage during surgery.



Levi recovered quickly and we soon wrapped up a school year and packed our apartment all up. Jason had turned in his resignation months earlier but there were still so many unknowns of where we'd live or work yet we knew it was time for the transition. It was yet another step of faith. There was one home we began dreaming about. It was simple but was within sight of our campus apartment and would keep us close to the same community. It was next door to Reshma's reading tutor with land and at a cul-de-sac with little traffic. One hundred acres were nestled right next to it for exploring. It became our dream and a property we walked by countless times asking if God would allow us to purchase. But, it wasn't for sale. And though it was vacant, the owner wasn't ready.

A lot of prayer, bold asking on Jason's part and a good measure of kindness from the owner's family gave way to the incredible answer of yes. They would sell it to us and it could be home for our new season. We moved in the day before Reshma entered 5th grade and Levi kindergarten.




It was a fixer upper and over the months of July, August and September we poured blood, sweat and tears into the walls and floors. We still have a list of projects but the biggest ones are thankfully behind us.

Front door view before
Front door view after
Really, that's the same house! Most of the work was done by Jason with a little help from the rest of us. It's a blessing to call this place home and see our kids playing in their very own yard with plenty of space both inside and out.


Through all the transition and changes we're aiming for a year of simplicity. To finish projects and unpack those last boxes. To invest in becoming the healthiest we can be. To simplify everything and to be really present with each other.


That would be an incredible new year! Hope yours is off to a great start!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Two Years of Forever

Two years ago we were in India meeting our daughter of promise for the first time. Here, in our very first writing from our meeting, we described her as sweet, spunky and beautiful. The description was spot on and now two years later we'd only change the description to read sweet, SPUNKY and beautiful. Our girl's got personality. She's outgoing. She knows what she thinks and is very confident to tell anyone who'll listen. She's an organizer and has learned from years of taking on big responsibility. She is a people person and being by herself almost drives her mad. If she had to choose to do anything during her free time she'd be coloring, painting or playing a game of some sort and most likely winning. Our girl has astounding luck and some incredible athletic abilities... Really, if only we were gambling people, man, we think we could be wealthy...monetarily speaking! 

January 2014
October 2015
For some it might be easy to romanticize adoption or admire people who adopt. For others it's simply not something they give much thought to because they could never see themselves walking that road. And still some stand in total disagreement because they can imagine or have seen the difficulties firsthand. 



The most significant lesson we have learned from these last two years is that obedience costs everything. Our personal comforts. Our idea of what things will be like. Our former family dynamics and the breaking of everything we are. But obedience is always worth it. Our beautiful, sweet, spunky girl has changed and humbled us. The grieving, the bonding, the parenting has all been new, hard territory to cover. But her precious heart has won us. She is forever ours and we are forever hers no matter how imperfect. 




Today we celebrated big. We wore ourselves out jumping and running and holding hands and laughing at silly inside jokes. It was a good day. Those are coming more and more frequently and for it we are so thankful.


Then, we feasted. We hoped by now great Indian food would be the norm from our own kitchen but, truth be told, we still all get giddy over getting to eat the really good stuff from our favorite Indian restaurant. 


Next stop was a great toy store to find something with gift cards the kids got for Christmas. Reshma came away with an expected favorite, a board game, and Levi was only focused on his newest obsession, Octonaut gups.


No Indian celebration is complete without the women getting decked in some henna. This gift from last Christmas is still being used to help us perfect our hand at the intricate designs. Lerah, in training, watched from the confines of her crib.

We have all grown and changed dramatically in these two years. Today it was good to remember not only the past but also to celebrate the time ahead to continue to learn and grow together!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sabbatical

Well, friends, it finally happened. During our long break from recording life here, a whole host of things changed for us. The most significant, by far, being our graduation from campus living. 


We loved the work, the people and the purpose but for everything there is a season. Growing as a family meant the time had come. It's taken us some six months to settle in to the present but so many times we've breathed deep peace knowing that this sabbatical season is exactly what every part of us needed. 

Life as five has been plenty full. Since we last shared we've had surgery for one, hospital trips for two, and spent three months living with Jason's parents while we purchased and renovated a home. All this while expanding Jason's small business to full time employment.  Thankfully we are all well now and settling in to the new routines and place we call home. 


Join us this week here on the blog as we share some of our favorite stories and highlights from 2015 and look ahead to a refreshing new year! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Conversations

Once upon a time I was intentionally writing down our kids' quotes. Here lately I've been storing them in my mind but that's a dangerous place for anything these days. The few I can remember are still there because they were just that, memorable. 


Mr. Personality has taken the lead in quotes and I've found myself saying things to him I never imagined I'd have to say. Levi, quit eating raisins with your toes. 


Please put the booger in the napkin. He obeys while looking longingly at the napkin and finally can't keep his thoughts contained, that'd be delicious


Reshma has had a few of her own with our favorite at the cafeteria where she had to pick out a green veggie at the salad bar. How many weggies, Mom?  


We lost Levi at church skate night a few weeks ago. After looking EVERYWHERE in the skating rink, I was panicked. Wouldn't you know the caped crusader was in the far corner of the arcade pretending to drive a race car? My words were on repeat: You scared me. Don't you ever do that again. To which he responded,  Mom, where'd you think I'd be?



The kids are into Disney Fairies lately. And in case you didn't know, the next movie comes out on DVD March 3rd, The Legend of the Neverbeast. {I for sure never thought I'd be advertising for fairies.} Every time Reshma tries to say pixie dust, I chuckle. It comes out more like piss-key dusk and we all go on just like that's the normal way to say it.


Lerah speaks, kind of. And somehow the siblings send signals through closed doors. She starts cooing in the morning and they're all up. But who wouldn't get up to spend some time with this precious?




Sometimes she's bummed school is cancelled. If snow is involved, there is nothing but smiles. 



When Levi thought he and Reshma couldn't hang out with their friend Kat he stomped away and I heard his words trail off, I am so fust-er-ated about this.



He didn't have to stay fust-er-ated long.


I'm committing to write the coming quotes down because some of the laugh-out-loud moments have been lost between my good intentions and poor memory. But for the few I remember, I had to share the smiles. They keep coming and as they do, I'll trust paper and an occasional blogpost to ensure we don't forget!