The day I got married, one of my closest friends looked me in the eye and said "God has many wild and wonderful things ahead for you and Jeremy."

Being called mom by 7 kids is definitely wild. Each day I look for the wonder in it all...and give thanks.

Partnering with my husband in life, parenting, work and serving is definitely wonderful. He is my favorite.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dinner at the table

Last night was the first night in MONTHS that we ate dinner together as a family at the table.

I put the leaves out at each spot and asked everyone to write what they are grateful for on the back. I went into it with prayer and low expectations. I told the kids that since we will have less times like this where we will eat together as a family that I wanted to do it more often with intention when we can.

As expected, more than one kid wanted to tell about something they were thinking about. At the same time. As expected, not everyone had a great attitude. But we were all there--all of us.

I had the opportunity to teach one not to stick her finger in the gravy boat, lick her plate, or lick the drops on the side of the gravy boat.

The last one to share about his thankfulness circled his finger in the air and said, "This."
When I asked him what "this" meant he said "dinner together at the table."

What I didn't expect was what happened after dinner.  Three helped with dishes.  We waited to do homework until after dinner and so I was worried about how that would go, but one helped a couple littles.  More spontaneous hugs happened.  And one offered to help make lunches this morning.

Thankfulness precedes the miracle.

Yes, it does.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


1. Pumpkin spice candle burning on a cool, damp morning.
2. laughing with friends
3. an unexpected "thanks, mom"

This is how it begins.  My journey to 1000 gifts.  I have heard of Ann Voskamp's book for a few years and thought, I need to read that, but have never picked it up.

An invitation to go through the study guide with 8-10 of my people came a few weeks ago and we have begun.  Something added to my Mondays that I really look forward to.

4. A text from an old friend, "you've been on my mind all morning--miss you!"
5. Nicole bringing me chili dinner and closing the van door that was left open at 9pm.
6. Restful sleep in the hours before the sun rises.

I have needed this study.  For a long time.  I'm kinda sad as I look at this past year and find that I didn't take many photos.  I let hurry and worry and busy-ness rob me of relationship and connection.  I let my own dark places keep me from making our family time.....from making our family have time...together and meaningful.

In the past 5 days I have had to hear myself say to others out loud that we don't eat dinner together.  We don't make plans to have family vacation together.  And when I think about it, the only time we are together as a family is a 20 minute drive to church Sunday mornings.

7. Savannah's laughter at the chair stuck on dad.
8. misspelled words
9. losing football games to bring the season to an end. (yes, I'm thankful for that.  Have I ever mentioned I'm not really from Texas? I wear red and I go to MOST of the home games and I think that's enough.  I mean, they're 10. And I don't bring noise-makers unless you count Saimon and I don't wear blingy Tshirts, caps, or flip-flops.  Enough.)

Now that I have offended 97% of the football moms in Texas, my point is attitude has been stinky and joy absent.   And if I believe Him and He shows us thankfulness leads to life and victory and joy, and I want life, victory, and joy, then I begin. to practice. gratitude.

10. nudgings for family time.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Not just a bag of oranges

A cool thing happened yesterday. When I was making my kids lunches I put the last orange in Omar's lunch box and thought, "I'm not going to the store until tomorrow so Omar won't have oranges in his lunch tomorrow." Insert disappointed emoji.

I wrote it on my list and that was it.

My friend Jean has brought us a couple meals lately.

Just because.

I'm not pregnant and nobody died but she has brought me two meals in the last couple weeks.  (So grateful! That's being the church.)

She brought us a meal yesterday – – chili, Fritos, cheese, brownie-cookies, and guess what else… 

a bag of oranges!

When I saw the bag in her hand I just smiled. 

Really God? Really?

Who brings a bag of oranges when you bring somebody a meal? I have never brought anybody a bag of oranges when I brought a meal.

I just smile every time I see the oranges. God is so sweet.  Just a little reminder that He is real and cares about the small things.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Homecoming Anniversary

From our first pic as a family of 9 to the latest one taken this summer, it's still hard to believe today marks our Homecoming 3 years ago. 

Many have said we are inspiring, amazing, a beautiful picture of the gospel. 

When I look back I think "how did we survive those first 5 weeks in a guest house in Colombia? how did we manage with 3 teenage girls in one room when we got home? how did we learn to live together, learn language, just FEED everyone all the meals and snacks, learn how to love, grow, give space, lean in, get help?" 

There are many days I wake up or go to bed thinking "this is too hard. It's just too hard." 

And it's true but that's how I know God is REAL. 

He is WITH US. 

We are too weak, selfish, ill-equipped but HE fills in the gaps, gives us gifts of helps from His people, gently leads us. 

There were times I could not encourage others to adopt, but people ahead of me kept hoping, believing for me. 

Now I can encourage you to say YES to adoption. Say YES to whatever God has for you. He will not call you and leave you to it alone. 

I am thankful for the good and the bad. How God uses and does not let us stay at our worst. He gives us new mercies and grace. YAY FOR GRACE! 

Happy Homecoming Anniversary Katerin, Emily, Marian, Wesley, Omar, Saimon, and Savannah! I am so privileged to see God work in you and through you. 

You ARE an inspiration! I love you with my whole heart! 

Thank you, God, for letting me be mom to these kids. 

Don't deserve it-- and that IS the gospel.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Christmas in November! Join the Mission Trip!

Applications are due for the upcoming mission trip happening November 20-29, 2015 to Kigali, Rwanda!  It's not too late to join the team.  Contact for more info and fill out the application here.

I wanted to repost a blog I shared over 3 years ago if you are wondering WHY GO.....

Why go?
This is the question I have gotten in the past and have asked myself.  Why go all the way to Rwanda for just 10 days when it cost so much money?  Wouldn't it be better just to send that money to help cover school fees, medical care, and food for the orphans?

God answered that question again and again as we just spent the last couple weeks loving the orphan in Rwanda.

He first answered it through Mike. 

(on the right)

Mike started Ten Talents International in Rwanda which is a program that helps children stay in their families through sponsorship and provides a home for boys who used to live on the streets.

Mike shared that as the only person in his family who became a Christian at a young age, he grew up not knowing what a christian looked like.  It wasn't until he was a young adult and found a church that he saw how a christian lived.

For the boys at the Home of Innocence, some of them lost their families during the genocide and so they have never had a family.   They do not know what a mom and dad is supposed to look like.  What living in a family is like. 

They don't even know what to hope for.

So Mike shared that when we come, these boys SEE a family.  They see a husband and wife, a mom and dad and it gives them a picture of what to hope for as they grow up and someday start their own families.

Why go?

We spent one afternoon sitting in the living room at the Home of Innocence sharing stories of our lives with one another.  We listened to the stories of about 20 boys and young men.  They listened to our story.  When asked of them, "What is your favorite part about having teams come visit?"

They responded without hesitation,

"Knowing you."

Why go?

This question was answered in a little girl named Shema and her single mother.  Shema is the sponsor child of Jeff and Marissa Anderson through Compassion International.  Jeff and our team was able to meet Shema and her mother one afternoon.  Jeff brought them pictures and gifts for both of them from his family.  She showed him her school, their small home, and the goat the Anderson's had bought for them last year.

Shema's mother is HIV positive.  She has no husband and no other family.  Their home was very small, dark, and empty. 
She told Jeff,
"Thank you for coming.  Seeing your love and care for us gives me HOPE."

Money given to this family for school fees, food, and a goat provided much needed help, but it was Jeff's visit that gave them hope and light to their darkness.

Why go?

Michael Jr answered this question for us one evening over dinner.  Michael (we call him Michael Jr at times) lost his family in the genocide and he now lives with Mike and Lisa McColm as their son.  As a young boy he lived in a home much like the Home of Innocence.  He remembers teams coming to visit from America.  We asked him what he thought about the teams and this is what he shared...

"I couldn't believe they would come so far and bring us gifts.  They could have easily stayed where they were, but they didn't.  I felt like I did not deserve it.  When I would ask them about their jobs and they would tell me they worked for some big bank or something, I could not believe it.  Because no one living in Rwanda who had a similar job would ever talk to me.
When they left, it was like the worst feeling.  You knew you would probably never see them again and the feeling that you had when they were here.  I cried.  But knowing that they came to give glory to God also made me want to be closer to God."
(Michael Jr in the middle)

Why go?

Jesus said when you do it for the least of these, you do it for me.  His heart beats for the fatherless.  We go to feed Him, clothe Him, but most importantly,
to know Him more. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What animal would you be?

Have your kids asked you that question? 

Mom, if you could be any animal on the planet, what would you be?

I never had a good answer for them.....until recently.

I would be a Pointer.

I'm learning more and more that I can't make my kids do a certain thing or be a certain way.  

I hate that most times because I just want them to do or be the way I want them to do or be!

I can only point them in the right direction.  
I can only point them in the best way that I think they should go, 
but it's ultimately up to them.

The topic of dating has come up a lot in recent weeks.  When my babies were babies, Jeremy and I discussed how we would handle dating for our children, and I was completely satisfied in what we decided.  
This is about how old we were when we planned their future dating expectation or lack thereof.

Now they are 14, 15, 16, and a couple weeks shy of 17.  Two of those came to me when they were 12 and 14.  Can you imagine how our "discussions" have played out regarding this topic?  Don't.

So in my last post I shared about how I'm looking in the rear view mirror to figure out why I do things the way I do....why I parent the way I parent.  Of course we all want what's best for our kids and we don't want to see them make the same mistakes we did.  

I find that I talk with my kids about this topic the way I would talk to my 14 to 17 year old self if I could go back:

Imagine graduating from High school with no regret and no ruptured relationships.  Imagine what it would be like if you spend your time and energy on friendships that will build each of you up.
Learn how to be a good friend.  If you can focus on building strong, healthy friendships, you could avoid causing pain and going through the pain of ruptured relationships unnecessarily.  These years will impact you in some way the rest of your life.  Learn who God wants you to be right now and watch and expect Him to show you the next steps.  You will be a blessing to others and you will be blessed.

I know full well I can't make this happen for them.  But I wonder what would be different if someone had spoken these things to me at that age.  Maybe someone did and I didn't listen.
I want to be a Pointer.  This is how Jesus is with me.  He gives me everything I need to walk down the path He has for me.  He waits patiently when I miss.  Power and mercy belong to Him (Ps 62:11-12) and oh how I thank Him for both. 

Are we there yet?

When my kids were babies and I was exhausted, my friends who had teens told me, "Just wait."  Now my babies are teens and 3 years ago (almost) we added more to the mix so I have 4 teenagers and 3 more coming up. 

Just in case you were wondering why I don't come here often.  

It's because my friends were right!  Teenagers are hard.  I am still exhausted.  And those same friends are telling me, "Just wait until they are in their 20's.  You still worry.  You just trade your worries for different worries."  So I am kindly telling my friends to "Shut up!"

Another reason I haven't come by here much is because I have been doing some work the last 6 months.  Not the kind of work I get paid for, but the kind of work that I hope will pay off in the long run.

I have been (and still am) in the process of figuring out why I do what I do--in regard to relationships....with my husband, with my kids, with my family and friends.

Why are my buttons my buttons?

What is shaping the decisions I make with how I parent?

I started thinking about these questions over a year ago and a friend recommended a book How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich as a place to start exploring. 

This is hard work.  Finding the answers to these questions is hard because it requires looking back.  Not just looking back, but telling my story--the good, the bad, and all the in-between--so that I can fully accept, forgive, take joy in, and feel sorrow....and be covered in God's grace as I live today and look ahead.

Why?  Why do this?  Isn't life hard enough?  Isn't each day full enough?  Why make it harder?

I started this mess journey thinking about my kids.  How can I lead them to a place I haven't been myself? 

I want them to be able to give and receive. 
I want them to be able to express a wide range of emotions (they are kinda good at that already--even within 1 hour of the day). 
...But do it in appropriate ways. 
I want them to be able to ask for help when they need it. 
I want them to be able to set boundaries. 
I want them to be able to have fun and play. 
I want them to be able to handle conflict and negative emotions. 
I want them to understand their strengths and weaknesses. 
I want them to be comfortable in new situations. 
I want them to be able to take risks. 
I want them to be able to delay gratification. 
When they are upset, I want them to be able to seek help and comfort.

Milan and Kay call that person a "Secure Connector."  You might remember from the Child Development course you took in college that this person has a "Secure Attachment."

That's where I want to head.  That's why I am doing this.  It's not perfect and I don't have a perfect history, but they say it's worth it and I am believing that it is.

I might share a few things I am learning along the way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pine Cove

I want to share with you about one of our favorite places to go on the planet.

A friend told me about Pine Cove a LONG time ago but we never made it a priority to go.  While we were in Colombia getting our kids, we received an email that our family of nine had been gifted a week at Pine Cove Family Camp.

We had NO idea what a gift this would turn out to be!

One friend from camp described that she felt like they were crash landing with one wing on fire as they entered camp.  

 Pine Cove has been spiritual refreshment.

It has encouraged renewal in our relationship.

It has helped strengthen our family.

Pine Cove has provided exceptional experiences for our kids to grow closer to God, each other, and new friends.
The counselors are over the top AMAZING!

And it is just FUN!

We have been blessed to attend 2 family camps and also serve other families over Thanksgiving Camp.
Pine Cove has so much to offer!  You can find out more here.   You can check out Camp in the City, Castle Rock, and Overnight Youth Camp.

I want to pass along a special message from our friend, Randi Shaffer, about discounts you don't want to miss.  Don't let cost deter you from signing up.  Scholarships are available!
Mark your calendar for February 2!!
February 2nd is Super Goal Monday. It's the day after the big game, and it's registration day at Pine Cove. If you've never been to Pine Cove or you're a long time camper Super Goal Monday is the day to register.

Camp in the City is Pine Cove's summer day camp right in your neighborhood - and registration opens February 2nd. Register on Monday to reserve your spot, space is limited.

And for one day only on February 2nd Pine Cove is offering a special discount for first time campers at any of their overnight youth camps and Castle Rock, their on-site day camp. If you use the Coupon Code SUPERGOAL you can receive an extra $50 off each overnight youth camp registration and $20 off Castle Rock. 

To register, go to or give them a call at 877-4-PineCove to find out more.
And we have 1 $200 OFF coupon for a first time student camper!
It expires February 2nd so be the first to comment below if you want this coupon!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adoption Saved Me (changes everything series)

Some might look at adoption as saving a child.  
I look behind me and see how adoption has saved me.

It has saved me from getting too comfortable. 
(I can barely think to expand on that because there is so much to say and I can't put it all together in my head or in a nice, neat list that you would want to even read.....but here we go.)
It's not comfortable seeing my issues and weaknesses come out. 
It's not comfortable learning how to love in a way that does not come naturally.  (especially when it is not returned)
It's not comfortable being someone people admire for what we did when what we did makes the first two things happen.

It has saved me from thinking that having children is all, what I want, when I want, who they look like, how many I have.
I look back at my 25 year old self when I gave birth to my first child and I don't think it is wrong to have dreams and thoughts about what you want in a family.  But I think we need to continually put those dreams and thoughts before the Lord and ask for His will and His way to be done.  Sometimes in joy and expectation and sometimes in grief and feelings of such longing and not understanding.

It has saved me from focusing too much time and money in a child's sport, hobby, passing interest. 
A. We don't have the time nor the money.  B. I am glad we don't.
Again, I don't think it's wrong to be involved and invested in these things.  I am focus more on developing and encouraging my kids' walk of faith, their character, and their effort and attitude in life over their performance.
Still learning.

It has saved me from thinking that I need to make my children happy.
This is a tough one.  We do things for them and with them that make them happy, but we also do things that are really hard on them. Not for the sake of making it hard on them, but it just happens....because we are a large family, because we value giving and people, because we adopted, because mom hates screens, because we have boundaries (they would say "STRICT rules"). 
This is a tough one because I hope that one day they will look back and see how God was with them and taught them and prepared them.  But they could also ditch God and say that was too hard and I am not following a God like that.

I don't know if this really counts, but I have noticed some things that I no longer do now that I have a larger family...

I buy the cheapest, largest, singly-ply toilet paper I can get.  I only notice when I go to other people's houses and find soft, cushiony toilet paper--and I remember what a toilet paper snob I used to be.

Going out to eat.  We rarely take our kids out to eat at a restaurant.  Again, has to do with the budget, but also it is just not fun.  It's hard to please 9 people. It's hard to have a conversation.  It's hard to enjoy a meal with kids constantly getting up, or are giddy with laughter because of the experience or maybe the high fructose corn syrup in their drink!  Most of the time I eat out with just my favorite guy.

So we have passed the 2 year mark since bringing our last 4 kids home....thinking about another post.