Monday, September 17, 2018

Home Improvement Part II

Wow for a short bit there I was rocking posting here more often.
But then life, you know?

Well we got through our move across town.
We are LOVING our new home and it really does feel like home.
I honestly still can't believe it all rolled out how it did.
The timing and the way so many friends were involved just makes it a sweet, sweet story to have.

Adam and I seem to enjoy having house projects.
Being able to mutually enjoy making a home has served us well.
We wasted no time in painting the whole ground level floor a chill light gray.
Actually it pretty much looks white.
It looks great with all the wood trim and of course brightens everything up.

Thankfully this house hasn't needed any big projects.
Just little things to make it fit our needs and likes like hanging shelves, changing out light fixtures, removing a cabinet in the kitchen to open up sight lines, and hanging pegboard for a big coffee mug wall.

It's a good thing we didn't waste any time because when our foster care case worker came by to check the place out, she asked if we'd be interested in taking in a one year old boy we've done respite for in the past.

Adam and I felt led to say yes.
Within two weeks, we had a new son!!
Baby B came to us last Monday.
Like I said we were familiar with him from before so the transition has been so wonderfully smooth.
He is a sweet, giggly boy and we are all happy to have him.
We would love to adopt him one day if everything went that direction.
I just keep telling people we are cautiously hopeful that adoption will happen someday.

The biggest hurdle for me was remembering the limits of a one year old.
Our son Malachi is the size of a one year old but is strong and much more coordinated!
This new little boy is still definitely a baby who I have to readjust my expectations for.

Though we are still in family building mode, I really do feel open to whatever happens with baby B.
God knows and that really is all I need to trust His plan.
Already it would be painful for Baby B to move on from us if adoption doesn't work out.
I trust God to make me content though with whatever He gives all of us.
I'm taking joy in serving and loving this little one while he's here for as long as possible.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hospitality Part 2: Plan for the Unplanned

If you've been drawn the biblical mandate to practice hospitality (without grumbling, see 1 Peter 4:9) then it's a good idea to set yourself up to be able to welcome a guest without much notice.
Sure, some time to prepare is nice but life just doesn't always happen that way.

Here are some ideas that have helped me.

Hospitality often equals food. Food equals anything from a full meal to a bowl of cereal or a bag of popcorn. Fancy is not a requirement for showing the love of Jesus to someone. An easy meal you can always have on hand that is a general crowd pleaser is spaghetti, green beans, and bread. Just keep a can of sauce, a box of spaghetti, a couple cans of green beans, plus buttered sliced bread. So easy, quick, and it won't cost the host a lot if money is an issue...which don't worry. Money is an issue for most everybody. Bonus: kids love spaghetti....or at least they'll like the bread and butter.
You can enjoy a simple meal with a new friend and everyone can relax, paying attention to what's most important: each other.

Hospitality can also often equal rest. The comfier, the better. Notice I still didn't say fancier. Comfy and clean will meet the need and fill the heart. A couch to sit on for a movie, a table and supportive chairs for conversation, a couch or air mattress for an overnight stay. You don't need a whole, plush perfectly decorated guest room to welcome a guest. Sure that can be really nice, but it doesn't really matter. Bonus: keep a pack'in'play around even if you don't have kids around normally. It will give you the option of welcoming a young family into your home. Even if it's not overnight, having somewhere to let a little one play or rest safely can open the door to a longer stay than it may have been otherwise.

Some extra things to keep around for guests.....

A box of toys for kids: Legos, a doll, a train, bubbles, a coloring book and pencils.....again just in case you don't normally have kids around doesn't mean God doesn't want to use you to love on someone else's kids.

Keep a deck of cards handy. Easy entertainment. Also it can help to have something to do with your hands to keep the conversation going.

Some extra nice things for an overnighter: a fan, a nice pillow and clean sheets, access to snacks and drinks, the wifi password, as much privacy as possible.

If you're nervous about inviting someone over last minute because your house is always a wreck, my best advice is: don't let your house usually be an absolute wreck. I know, I know, sometimes life is crazy and things have to be pushed to the back burner. That's one thing. But if your goal is to be able to invite people in for the sake of loving on them, don't let bad messy habits stand in your way and limit your obedience and joy. Make a plan, be diligent, DECLUTTER, and get your home to a place where it can be tidied up in a quick sprint. Again, I do not mean to imply that anything has to be fancy. Please. Your home does not have to be magazine perfect or in any way expensive to be the perfect place for someone to feel welcomed and cared for. Generally clean and peaceful will do just fine. In the same vein though, people just loved to be invited and could care less what your house looks like. Don't let insecurity rob both you and your potential guest of an evening of authentic conversation and true discipleship.

Given everything I've shared I cannot stress enough that to have the gift of hospitality you must first have a foundation of true, sacrificial love. Love for Jesus and a knowledge of what He has done for you. Also a love for His people, those He brings your way. Loving another person is always sacrificial. You must choose to sacrifice your time, comfort, tidiness of your home, possibly your entire couch  (ha!) for the privilege of pouring into someone, being part of their life, and possibly sharing salvation with them. If you don't have love for the people who walk through your door or at least the desire to truly love them like Christ does you will simply be entertaining them and filling your own sense of self righteousness. You will also be given to grumbling when it comes to having people in your space.

I hope these ideas have given you something new to try when people come over. I hope this post has inspired you to open your heart and doors to people who need someone to really care. Hospitality brings us so much joy and satisfaction along with the work that goes into it. It's a joy to try and love people of all kinds like Jesus has loved on us: openly, generously, authentically, happily.

Here are some passages on hospitality for some more ideas and inspiration....

Titus 1:8
1 Peter 4:8-9
Acts 16:33-34
Luke 14:12-14
Matthew 25:42-46
Romans 12:13-20

Hospitality Part 1: Planning to Eat

Deciding to move into our new house came with the desire to be able to have more people over more often.

Adam and I LOVE hospitality (providing for the physical, emotional, spiritual needs of another even at our own expense) and feel a strong urge to share the kind of hospitality God has shown us.

Well the hope to share our home has certainly been a reality. 
We've been "home" for a little over three weeks and have already had the pleasure of loving on and being loved on by so many people under this new roof.  
We've even had a few over-nighters. 
What a blessing from the Lord. 

As I put together my shopping list for the week I was struck by how many more people we'll be feeding just this week!
Three out of seven nights we'll have extra people eating with us.
This is why I meal plan!
We would go broke and I would waste so much time and patience running back and forth to the store.
And the meals that I did throw together would probably be pretty junky and meager.  

I thought I would share my meal plan that helps provide the peace I need for the week. 
This plan includes feeding my family every meal + snacks, dinner with a couple coming over to discuss wedding details with Adam, dinner with a spiritual daughter, and all the meat for our small group gathering. 

Breakfast: cereal, fruit, milk
Lunch: turkey sandwich and pears 
Snack: yogurt
Dinner: pasta with homemade tomato sauce, buttered bread, salad

B: muffins, milk
L: hard boiled egg, fruit, cheese stick, chips
S: a pear
D: guests: slow cooked pulled pork, sweet rolls, slaw, chips

B: cereal, fruit, milk
L: leftover pork + rice, fruit
S: poptart and milk
D: fast food 

B: cereal, fruit, milk
L: pb+ j, fruit, chips
S: yogurt
D:hots dogs, baked beans, tator tots

B: oatmeal, milk
L: leftover hot dogs + chips
S: apple + peanut butter
D: Fish, greens beans, mac 'n cheese

B: waffles, fruit, milk
L: pb + j, fruit. chips
S: treat
D: guest: pulled pork + rice, green beans, buttered bread (might be homemade)

B: oatmeal, milk
L: out
S: popcorn
D: small group: we will provide burgers, hot dogs, buns, + paper products
I tend to stick exactly to what I've got planned for dinners but the rest is just a suggestion. Often one dinner will roll into another. For instance, I have a large amount of pork so we'll be able to use that for two substantial meals that will easily feed guests and my family. I'll know to cook it all at once and set half aside for another dinner down the line. 
As far as breakfast, lunch, and snack go I'll do something different if I know the kids aren't up for what I have planned. Or sometimes I just need to do an easier option if it's been a rough day or if I *ahem* overslept. 

Another perk of having a plan is the peace I can have when I know someone is coming over and I know exactly what to make and when to start making it. 
I don't end up so distracted and feeling like I need to be apologetic for a rushed together meal. 

If you want to be hospitable whether it be to guests our your own family, a little planning goes a long way to making hospitality more manageable, sustainable, and peaceful for you. Though there's also something to be said for being able to meet the needs for a meal or companionship for someone at a moment's notice.

Believe it or not, you can also do some things to set everyone up for success in that case to. 
I'll share some things I do to help me be ready to help someone else with little notice. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

I'm Ready to Fall

September is almost here and after the hectic summer we've had I am so ready for the change.
Feeling so ready for the downshift into fall, I sat down during a nap time and let myself totally enjoy looking for seasonal and home inspiration.

I grabbed some coffee, zipped on a hoodie, and settled into the quiet while it rained outside to let my vision grow with every photo of someone else's beautiful space.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to create a home that encourages my husband, kids, and guests to feel peaceful, inspired, and understood.
That's a lot to ask from an little orange pumpkin but add some art, good lighting, a comfy couch, something warm to drink, and good kitchen smells....well, you've got something there.
Who doesn't want to live in a beautiful space that shadows the beautiful details of our life God orchestrates in nature all the time?
The magic happens and I love being the one to piece it all together within our walls for the people God has living here.
Plus it's so calming to me.

When I start to think of how I want to put a space to together, I pretend I'm Marmee March, the mother from Little Women.
She lived in a time when there wasn't a Hobby Lobby down the road hawking fake and plastic pumpkins in July.
She didn't shell out hard earned money for trite little signs with cheesy sayings.
She didn't even have someone she would emulate in her homemaking other than maybe a friend she admired or her own mother and childhood memories.
She lived in a time when a home was full of the smells of baking bread, simmering applesauce, and roasting meat.
There were homemade garlands and wreaths from gathered pine cones and leaves, simple white candles for light in the evening, baskets and pottery for all the utility needs of carrying things from here to there
Art might have passed down with rich wood furniture and needlepoint.
As the seasons changed, rugs would come out along with heavier homemade quilts and more mugs of tea.
Seasonal decor was a handful of acorns or an armful of branches with colorful leaves.

Simple. Natural. Purposeful. Frugal. Comforting.
Marmee is who I want to be in so many ways including how I want to make a home.

Sure I might slip in a battery operated jack-o-lantern on a shelf for some whimsy or invest in a high quality, life-like leaf garland to simplify work for myself but I always lean towards natural, simple, and (ideally) free.
I prefer to shop my yard and local park for home decor.
I prefer to gather real, hand painted art for our walls.
I prefer to make what I can and invest in others who make what I can't.

With all that said, here are some photos that really get me excited to put the comfy, seasonal touches on our new home....

Future fall uniform 

Orange, brown, black, cream, white + sprigs of green. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Settling In Nicely

Just over a week ago we moved across town into our new house.
A house that just hours before was the home of some dear friends who responded to the call to return to the mission field.

It was incredibly bittersweet to send them off with all the love, support, and prayer power we could then turn around and begin making what was once their house into our home.

Adam and I worked hard to get most of our smaller things to the new house on our own.
That allowed our helpers who came to make quick work of what was left: beds, tables, trunks, couches, easy chairs, dressers.....

It was all pretty much done in a morning.
While the men did big stuff, my mom kept the kids at her house (SUCH a huge help!) and my sister helped start getting necessities unpacked at the new house.
That was so nice to have completely functioning kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms right away.

It was important too because school started within a few days and we need to be able to do normal life stuff immediately.

I knew I would love this house but man.
I am *really* loving this house.
And Adam is too!
He wasn't quite as sold out as I was on this whole thing believe it or not.
But the big sweetie trusted me and said yes!
Glad it's working out the way it is and that he is super happy to be here too.

In the week we've been here we've already had an overnighter (Adam's dad), hosted a party, started kindergarten and preschool at a new school, and started helping take care of a friend's baby while she works.
And all the new, open space of this place has made it a dream!

Of course we have plans, boy do we ever.
That's actually something I'm working on pumping the brakes with.
If Adam and I have a plan, we want to work ourselves nutso making it a reality.
This past Saturday, I spent the whole morning stressed and harsh with everyone in my path.
I had to grab at some peace and take a break.
I also had to make a pact with myself to schedule serious downtime as we ease into this transition and not cram every moment with painting walls, overthinking house systems, and over organizing our time.
It was time to chill and go with the flow as I tell my kids all the time.
Walls WILL get painted.
All the things will get done.
Just not this afternoon. Not this week. We will have a lot of time here, possibly years Lord willing.
I have got to do this His way and not my way.

That said, I would like to share some of our most immediate plans and some before photos of the ground level of our house.

These next few photos are all of our main spaces....

The light can be great during some parts of the day but we really want to amp it up by painting all the walls the same shade of light gray. 
I can see wall color trends starting to shift away from gray and on to whites and creams but I have a feeling gray is where we will camp for a long time to come. 
It feels light and cool to us which is good for how we intend to use our space. 
We want anything we do to stay out of the way and make as much room as possible for people (especially kids) to be able to get around without feeling like their going to knock something or get something dirty. 

So we'll paint the walls a very light gray.
Eventually we would like to do some tile work in the kitchen.
We'll change out a few light fixtures or at least update them a bit with new shades or paint. 
Both the front door and the side door will be painted black inside and out. 
I did think about painting the side door, which is less conspicuous, a funky color like mustard or rust. 
I will be repainting Malachi's room black and white. 
Adam already started working on making a drop station for backpacks and jackets. 
I started priming the red walls in the living room. 
In the family room after painting, we'd like to hang up white curtains and some over sized, black + white, goofy portraits of the kids like this...

Modern, Inexpensive, Large-Scale Portraits on the wall shared with the hall/Holland's room

Love those. 

I'm not one to sit down and plan a whole space all at once. 
I'd rather live in it as it goes, paint a few walls, draw a few tentative lines in the sand, then make tweaks and rearrange until it feels right. 
"Life is a video not a photo."
Can't remember where I heard that but its crazy true and brings me a lot a peace when I get caught up in the feeling that I want everything to be right right now. 

We'll get there. 
For now, I'm just incredibly thankful to be where we are. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Movin' On Up to the...... West Side?

This past Thursday it was official: we closed on our new house!!!!

Adam and I wasted no time in using his weekly day off, the very next day, to jump on moving a bunch of stuff into a few cleared out rooms of the new place. 

A couple of our best friends kept the kids for the morning which really freed us up to get a lot done. 
By the end of the day we brought over eight van loads of our things!
The main focus was to clear out our garage so our old house's new owners could start putting their own things in the garage. 
After we finally got the garage cleared including tools, bikes, and everything from our house that I had packed up over the last month we attacked the backyard and attic. 

Oh my WORD!
It's amazing how much stuff we had on the outside of our house.

So much room for activites!
Also every dang one of those cabinets is completely empty. 

Adam and I worked so hard but man, it was so fun.
It's just fun being with him.  
We goofed off, bounced ideas back and forth while we loaded and unloaded, and enjoyed being excited for the future of our family and personal ministry life. 
Plus it was cathartic to put into action something all three couples have been discussing constantly for about four months now. 
I slept really good that night.
My brain could stop making plans and just chill knowing stuff was FINALLY happening. 
Such a relief. 

We headed home that night with the kids and ate homemade burgers and chips. 
We all chilled with a movie and felt good.  

Adam will be out of town for a few days this upcoming week.

My plan while he is away is to pack a suit case for the kids and I for the week so I know we each have what we need, make a trip to Ikea, spend an afternoon taking all of our personal and daily things over, spend the next day cleaning our old house really good top to bottom, and then we'll have our final move day on Friday when Adam is home. 
This time next week we'll be all moved in. 

It's all so unreal. 
I can't believe it actually all rolled out the crazy, awesome way it did. 
It's going to be completely nutso to be sitting in a different living room next week and it actually be MY living room....when it used to be one of my best friend's. 
And I'm going to sit there and miss her like crazy. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Middle of the End

Today officially marks the middle of the end for our house selling and buying process.

This afternoon we'll go and close on our current house with the buyers, aka church family/friends.
In response I am totally letting myself have sad puppy dog eyes for this little old lady of a house that we took care of and took care of us.
It may sound silly to have a relationship with an object but we all do it and we've I've definitely done it with this sweet, quirky house.

Sure I was never the one to have to shimmy down into the creepy crawlspace to fix a broken thing or deal with the furnace going out or the gutters falling off or unclogging the old pipes (thanks Adam! You're THE man!).

But I've painted every square inch, made the most of every precious square inch, cleaned every square inch, and lived nearly every hour of every day in these 1200 square feet with our three tiny kids.
I'm attached, ok!?

I am sosososososoooooo excited for the very near future in our new house but I'm just spending today being very thankful for this little home God made for us.
It was just what we needed while we needed it and I hope we honored Him with it.

It's been a blessing to me to pray a prayer of blessing and hope over its new owners as I empty each closet and corner.
I hope they feel God's presence daily in it.
I hope the feel His constant comfort and care for them while they do the work He gives them.
I hope it becomes a place of refuge and peace for them like it was for us.
I hope they enjoy making it their own and fitting it to the needs of their own family.
I hope they have us over to oooooh and ahhhh at their improvements.

Today I'm sad to say goodbye but tomorrow I'll be thrilled to say hello. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

June Favorites

I nearly forgot my June favorites list!

But here it is, front and center.

What I'm doing...

We got away for a family vacation for a week. It was sososososooo good! Now that we have kids, a good vacation is all in the sleeping arrangements. If no one sleeps well, especially for a whole week, then it's better to just stay home. But this trip was probably our best family vacation so far.

The six oldest cousins including our girls slept in a bunk room with it's own little half bath. A nightly sleepover? uh, yes! They loved it. Our oldest niece on Adam's side of the family is so great with our kids. You wouldn't know she was 5 years older for how patient and caring she is with them. They adore her for it.

Our house was right on a lake. We were all jumping off the pier daily for swims.

What I'm reading...

I heard about this book, Survival for Busy Women from one of Michelle Duggar's books (which is it's own gold mine wisdomfor managing our homes and kids well). I had to get it. Managing our home well is an ongoing interest and need.  I couldn't find it at our library but now I'm glad that I just went ahead and bought it. I'll be turning to it again and again. It's just brimming with wisdom on making relative peace out of chaos. It has tips for needs from moving to making time for friendships to meal planning to traveling well with a family. It's geared towards all women whether you are working out of home or in your home.

What I'm using...

I'm not much of a tanner. I think I've been in a tanning bed once. I'm too paranoid of premature aging and skin cancer. No thanks. Getting some color every spring and summer is still something that I like though... just not the risk that comes with the sun. After trying out lots of self tanner products through high school and college, I finally used Jergens Natural Glow lotion. It's a daily lotion that builds color over time. Since it's gradual, it's never streaky or orange-y. Plus it smells okish.

What I'm wearing...

In the spring I lightened up my makeup routine. I thought for about 2 seconds that maybe I might just go makeup free for the summer. Mmmmmmm, nah. I don't' cake it on but I like the feeling of a little mascara, liner, and a light glow. So here's what I came up with...

First I use a pump of Aveeno lotion with spf all over my face and neck. Whatever is left gets rubbed into the backs of my hands. Then BB cream with spf gets dabbed on my T zone to soften up pores and blemishes. Next, I use dark brown eye shadow, an angled brush, and a spooley brush to fill in my brows. Not too crazy much but just enough for some good definition. Sometimes I'll use that same color and the fluffier eye brush to smudge some at the outer corners of my eyes. Next, that same brush is used to dab a bit of illuminating powder under my brows, at the inner corners of my eyes, and along the upper ridge of my cheek bones. A good swipe of mascara and I'm done! It all takes about three minutes and looks natural but polished. For a special occasion or when the weather gets cooler, I use my index finger to dab the dark eye shadow on my top lid. Easy peasy. 

This routine has also completely streamlined what I buy and store. 

What I'm making...

Every summer, our church has a day camp for the kids of our community. The campers are fed breakfast and lunch. We have games, music, a craft, and a big water day on the last day of the week. This year I volunteered to organize the crafts and spent a good chunk of June making plans for it. Pinterest was my source for a few simple crafts for the week including giant paper popsicle, hand print parrots, tie dye canvas bags, diy pinwheels, and paper straw snakes. We'll also be having an origami station set up for early finishers to practice their creative folding skills.

Paper popsicle power!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Daily Routine for Summer 2018

Per usual, our days are full.

Summer has it's own way of being full but is full none the less.
One of the first things I got into my head when I became a mom is that a routine that everyone can rely on is a major tool for peace and stability.
When the kids and I are on a good working routine we are all better rested, better exercised, better socialized, take better care of our belongings, and life is just smoother.
Perfect? No, of course not.
Don't let the lie of perfection creep in here.
Genuine peace and stability, though? You bet!

Here is what our 2018 summer routine looks like for a dad, a mom, a 5 year old girl, a 4 year old girl, and a nearly 3 year old boy...

7 dad and mom awake*
8:30 out of bed, eat breakfast, Adam leaves for work
9 put breakfast things away, brush teeth, get dressed if needed**
9:30 playtime or run errands
11:30 clean up or go home, wash hands, prep lunch
12 lunch, clean up, cartoon or kindle time
1 naps
3 up, eat a snack, playtime
5 daddy home: tackle him
6 clean up toys one last time, dinner, baths, watch a movie together if we stay home
7 boy goes to bed
8 girls go to bed
10 mom and dad go to bed

* I am not necessarily up. I'm terrible at getting out of bed before 8. I tend to stay put, read my bible, pray, and think about stuff till I can hear the kids get restless in their beds. They stay in bed till we let them get up.
** The kids don't wear pj's. The girls just wear stretchy shorts with a T shirt or cotton dress. Malachi wears a onesie or romper most days. All is comfy enough to sleep in and play in. If the clothing isn't visibly dirty, the kids stay in what they've got on. I think the longest run in the same outfit was three nights and four days. This also helps keep laundry waaaay down.

We don't follow this routine legalistically though.
For example, today we had our home inspection during our usual nap time hours, we kept a friend's baby for the day, and I went to a group exercise class.
So we picked up baby, made it to the class, went home for short, early naps, then ate lunch, went to the children's museum during our normal nap hours, and finally went home for chill time till dinner.
Those main hours of the day were all jumbled but we made it through.
On days like that I just try to make sure everyone alternates active times with a time of rest.
If we keep that pattern throughout a weird day, it's still a relatively peaceful day: minimal whining, fighting, sassing, clingyness.

When we keep our very real limitations in view, we can use what we do have and enjoy all the freedom that comes with it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Planning a Home

I love making a home.
I love maintaining a home.
I actually really like making beds, following our simple routines, resetting the house after a busy day, organizing, hunting for home goods at thrift stores, folding warm laundry, and changing up natural seasonal touches as the months slip by.

Given all that, I am so enjoying making plans for our new home.

When I was first married with my own space for the first time, my decor style was anything goes, color, color, and more color.

Living space by living space, my taste has swung waaaaay over into neutrals, especially for our main living areas.
I'm still eclectic in my finishes and textures.
But I've figured out that a more neutral palette with a good amount of contrast + a handful of warmth is what feels best to us.

It's not just my ideal alone but it what feels best to everyone in our family; it sets the mood for our home life.
Happily, kids and ministry and guests bring a lot of items, (loud) conversation, and activity.

Black, white, and woods are inviting but cool.
Timeless yet fresh.
Artsy but approachable.
This color palette doesn't suck all the oxygen out of the room like mismatched rainbow tones do to me these days.

Simple and quiet country neutral bedroom on Hello Lovely

first home

If you want to go dark with your wall colors, look here for a gallery of rooms that flawlessly combine dark paint on the walls with light and fresh furniture and decor to achieve a contemporary look and balance. See how to use paints by Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams in your living room, bathroom and bedroom.

(1) Cathy Hao

It's important to tune your style to the style of the house you're in or there just won't be any harmony.
The new house is older than our current house.
Our current one was built in the 50's and feels it.
Lots of long, straight horizontal lines make for a mid-century vibe. 
The new one has a lot of wood trim and traditional details.
I'll definitely be happy to embrace that classic feel with an artsy, practical twist.

I do branch out with colors (albeit still earthy colors) in the kids rooms or side rooms.
I'm thinking of using peachy pink, tangerine, and olive in small doses in the girls' bedroom.
Having some playful colors in a child's space is just as important as having colors that stay out of the way in a common space.
For our guest room, I love the idea of pale lavender, amber, and white.
Those colors say relaxing, cozy, and fresh.

A lot of the art and wall decor in our current house are things we've had for 6+ years.
I'm going to take this opportunity to give pieces away that I look through now for some prints and items that hold my eye afresh.

As far as furniture and other household necessities, anything we have to purchase must be practical/very functional.
It's got to take a licking and keep on ticking.
Things must be touchable.
Of course I want it to look beautiful too.
Couches and beds must be able to withstand flopping, daily lounging, and jumping.
Things must also be simple to tidy up.
It's taken me some time to really live by this but I'm won over: if it's pretty but fussy or fragile, it won't be around long and we will have just wasted our money.
No thank you.

I can't wait to get over the moving hump and start making a life in a new home.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Controlled Freaking Out

Now that I've got my blog space up to speed on what's happening around here in the real world, I'm definitely going to be using it for my own personal therapy to help me deal.

Because I am wigging out!

Not like constantly but pretty regularly I'll just be going about our normal routine and my brain secretly kicks into planning overdrive thinking of EVERYTHING that needs done.
The way I tick, when that happens my brain starts shouting "do every little thing right NOW!"

I'm really having to be intentional about not letting myself get overwhelmed at the magnitude of everything that has to happen within the next handful of weeks.
Things like doing projects around our current house to have it ready for our friends, signing papers, getting inspections (and paying for it), getting boxes, filling those boxes and trying to keep them organized, figuring out what we can live without for a while and what we need to keep on hand, budgeting for what we will need at the new house, and asking friends to help us move when the day comes.

On top of that is the usual daily care of my three, planning a wedding shower, planning crafts for our church's kids camp, making time to celebrate my daughter's birthday, continuing work on our never-ending adoption, AND saying goodbye to our dear friend's as they leave on mission is enough to keep my hands full.

Plus the general lack of motivation to keep my house in order is daily creeping on because it's all going to get dumped out and moved within a matter of weeks.


I need to take a major chill pill.
Believe me. I tell myself that often (and so does Adam).

Simply embracing the chaos is becoming more and more important.
Recognizing that I'm getting carried away helps.
Choosing not to feel overwhelmed and instead doing the next thing is calming.
Making lists gets nervous energy out.
Digging in during my quiet time in the morning is grounding, gives me a good reality check, and fills me with fresh gratitude. .
Doing a couple things every day that contributes to the move lets me feel like I'm accomplishing something necessary.

I hate whining and this all sounds like major whining.
Above all I'm grateful for EVERYTHING that is happening and even the way it's happening.
It's exciting and new.
I actually love change.
It's all great stuff that I'll be very happy to look back on in a couple months.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Home Improvement

I've been not so subtlety hinting at some big changes in our near future.
Well time to spill the beans: we're moving!

We're staying in Terre Haute but we're moving across town into a new house.
The icing on the cake is the story surrounding our move.
Friends/church family of ours have been missionaries in Italy and came back to the states a few years ago.
They are setting out again this summer on mission in Germany.
I've told my friend for a long time that we would be *very* interested in buying their house if they ever sold it and lo and behold that's what the Lord has asked them to do.
To make the deal EVEN sweeter, another couple who we are close friends with is buying our house!

Everyone is currently signing papers getting the ball rolling so I thought this would be the ideal time to share our news.

Our new home will be much bigger than our current place which will allow us to be a family to more kids.
Yup, we want to adopt again.
We just can't get enough of the bubbling joy that comes with kids.
We love how the gospel is illustrated through adoption.
We have a love/hate relationship with how God works through children to soften and strengthen a parent all at once and make that old parent heart more childlike again.
We daily feel the need in our community for more loving parents to take in children who need a home that will fully commit to them 100%, whatever may come.
We are open to whatever the Lord wants, whether it is another young sibling group or a few singletons one at a time.
We just know that children make you rich and we want to be filthy rich with 'em.

The new home will make this possible as the square footage of our house has to meet certain guidelines for us to have more children.
In our region, foster/adoptive families have to have fifty square feet of bedroom space for each child.
God is blessing us with much more than that and we can only assume He means to fill it up with children who need a family.

We long to be that family.

When I share this hope for our future I see people get a questioning look in their eyes when they do the math of the child to parent ratio.
Or maybe they start assuming we have some secret source of energy/peace/ability/endurance for this kind of work.
While we do have a source, it's no secret and it has nothing to do with who we are as people.
The source of anything good about us is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe they are urging us towards this and will supply everything each member of our family will need for the blessed task.
As a mom, the part of me that is the Holy Spirit is chomping at the bit, joyful, ready to dive into loving the hearts of these yet unknown children.
The Kensie part of me is admittedly feeling more of a range of things: excitement, alarm, uncertainty, unease at considering how much sleep will be lost for the (worthy) cause of loving new little ones, and a frantic energy to plan/control as much as possible.

We want to be realistic and as prepared as possible so that we might be as free as possible to throw ourselves into the full time care of several young and uniquely needy children.
Of course that looks like this bigger house but it also includes preparing our hearts, the hearts of our children, and reenforcing the things that strengthen our family in the Lord.
Yet faith is essential as we will 100% come to the end of ourselves no matter how much we prepared *praise God*.
We will need the Lord to love us all as only He can.

That's been the greatest thing about anything I've ever done.
From marriage to ministry to fostering, adoption, and parenting it's stepping out in faith, coming to the end myself and getting a front row view of God just being who He is: the ultimate Being who is every good and perfect thing.
That's what life can be all about.
Letting Him do what He does: bringing everyone to the fullness of life in Him.

This is my hope for our new home:
That He would fill the place with Himself, giving Himself through our family to some precious ones who need Him.

Can I ask a favor?
Would you be praying for us?
We desperately need it.
Adam and I are woefully immature and often feel how not ready we are for this.
But God has called us to it and we will obey.
Pray that we would be firm, faithful, and continuously obedient to God.
Pray that we would be humble and not prideful.
Pray for our family's material and practical needs because kids can require special equipment, food, energy and a lot of it.

Pray for Larissa, Kenna, and Malachi as everything from the move to expanding their family isn't their choice but will require new things from them as well.
Pray that God uses this all to draw each of them closer to Him.
Pray that they will catch the vision for the life God has called us to, that we will always be a team.

Pray for the children who will be ours one day.
They might be living through the events that will cause their removal even today.
They might be SUFFERING.
They might be in PAIN or HUNGRY or ALONE or SCARED.
I (Kensie) am painfully aware of this daily and there's nothing I can do but prepare for them and pray.
Pray that whatever bring them into foster care is enough to remove them but that they are protected from long term scars and damage.
Pray that someone loves on them today.
It's possible that the children will be with another foster family before they are placed with us so pray for that family, that they would love our kids like their own.

Thank you for reading this (I hope it made sense).
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for praying.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Summa' Time!!!!

It is officially summer!!
Wooooo hooo!

Larissa had her last day at school on Thursday

The school year has been so good on so many levels.

Larissa had such a growing experience getting to go to school every morning.
She made a lot of developmental progress and we all got to make a sweet connection with her teacher.
She left preschool just so excited for kindergarten.
She's actually having a hard time understanding the big summer break between the end of this school year and the start of the next.
I think she may still believe she's going to kindergarten on Monday.

McKinley and I enjoyed some more focused time together.
Malachi has made HUGE strides in his understanding and growth.
Our whole family benefited from the structure that comes with school of course.....but I am 100% excited about throwing that structure out the window for a couple months.

I surprised all of the kids by taking them swimming at Shakamak state park right after we picked L up from school.
We packed a lunch, threw on our suits, and hit the road.

I kiss on my kids.... a lot. 

We were all surprised to run into some friends there too.

Eventually some clouds rolled in and we had to roll out but it was our favorite start to what promises to be a memorable summer. 

Details to come... :) 

Friday, June 1, 2018

May Favorites

What I'm doing...

At the beginning of the May I threw a bachelorette camping trip for my little sister. It was so nice to get out of my normal routine and break off into trees, rocks, water, campfires, and new friendships. All of the bridesmaids were invited. My sister has some pretty sweet friends and we all enjoyed meeting each other and seeing the kinds of women my sister has pulled close to her. 

What I'm reading...

I've been reading a lot of Louisa May Alcott. She is most widely known for her Little Women series which is a favorite of mine. I thought I'd branch out a little with her and try some of her short stories and other novels. I made it all the way through A Garland for Girls and A Whisper in the Dark. A Garland for Girls has the same moral tone as her Little Women books. A Whisper in the Dark was much more gothic and serious in style. 

I really want to start reading Little Women with the girls soon. But I'm afraid they won't like it. I'll wait a couple more years but's hard to share things with your kids and them kind of reject it. I'm just crossing my fingers that they enjoy it and glean as much from it as I have. I can only offer it, right?
Image result for a whisper in the dark

What I'm using...

We were gifted a mini photo session with a very talented couple (Wiram Photography) from our church who have been expanding their photography business. Usually we just don't do so well with photo sessions. Someone's crabby. Someone doesn't like what their wearing. Someone would rather be doing something else......and that's just Adam. (See what I did there?) But this time we did our best to make it a fun thing. We scheduled the photos to be taken at a local park and promised the kids some playground time. We brought starbursts to encourage smiley sweetness. I kept the clothing comfy and relaxed. Everything was good. Until we arrived and Malachi promptly had a blow out. And we didn't have any diapers. And I didn't have a change of clothes for him. Oy. So I ran home real quick, grabbed supplies, and turned the crazy train around asap. 

Well it all turned out and I'm happy to say we got some pretty adorable family photos...


What I'm wearing...

Lots of dresses, thank the LORD!
The jackets have officially been put away. 
The sandals are out and most of the time Malachi doens't wear pants!

Sweet relief from endless layers, shoes, socks, and weather!

Adam officiated a wedding a couple weeks ago. 
On the note of what I'm wearing, I got to wear this thrifted dress I found last Fall. 
I love it and felt so good in it. 
The girls got to re-wear their flower girl dresses form a wedding last year.
We each felt very happy and pretty.  

What I'm making...

Does making space count?
In this little house full of people I am constantly making space. 
This last month I've kicked my normal efforts up a notch.
We have some things coming up and I just want to clear out what isn't needed and keep what will make life better. 
I thought about having a yard sale but it just isn't worth it to me right now. 
There are a lot of *good*wonderful*amazing*exciting* things happening this summer and I just don't have the energy for a sale too. 
Especially because the return won't make it worth the effort. 
So I've given away or donated most of what I've cleared out.