Dreaming Big for 2015 {part 2 – last years challenges + what fires me up}

I’m following along with Lara Casey’s blog series on Goal setting for 2015. Go check it out. This is the 3rd year I’ve done it but the first I’ve done it on my blog. But I love having the notebooks from years past to look and reflect on. I think some of the most helpful things I’ve done in the past when setting goals is truly looking back and seeing what went wrong, what didn’t work, what were challenges we faced and why, and the not so great parts of a year.

So here is the post where I write out the things that I don’t think I will want to be repeating or attempting again or just completely revamping in 2015.  Some things that don’t work one year indeed might be things that might work next year or a different season. But the important part is recognizing what things added stress, weren’t joy giving, took away from your overall goals for your family, and things that if not identified could be things you get completely pulled back into and only once in it you realize, hey wait… this didn’t work before why the heck am I in this same place I was before?

Part One:  Last Year’s Challenges 

1. Church Planting here in Fort Worth.  

It was the close of 2013 that we were thinking and praying about planting a church in south fort worth. We hadn’t found the type of local community we were longing for and a few families we used to do church with hadn’t either and so the idea was launched that we could start a small church community where we lived and that we could do life with a small group of people. We have always had a heart and a desire to church plant. So without much of anything solidified as far as information or a church name or being official we started meeting in our home on sunday nights. Everything in me wanted a church name, a mission statement a direction, a public presence and I kept pressing Dan for those things… but something in him kept saying wait… wait and see… pray… pray and seek Him! So that’s what we did. It didn’t take long before 2 of the 3 families decided this wasn’t for them, and the other family were in the same camp we were as far as praying it through and not declaring anything officially. We signed up for a church planting conference in March and thought that we would get a good dose of encouragement and even a kick in the pants if that’s what we needed to move forward in this. We went and we listened and we worshiped and we talked and we thought… and as we drove home… I said, Did you get any direction regarding the church in all this? He said, No… except that I don’t think we should do it. I said, I feel the same way.  I think from that moment of clarity on we knew that while we love church planting and even hope God uses us in that capacity one day, that right now… it wasn’t His timing or the right place.


2. Erin Condren Planners.  The creative in me that adores color wanted so badly to love this planner. I got it for my birthday last year and I was excited to jump into it. But it only took about 2 months to realize that this wasn’t working for me at all! So I sold it and picked up a cheap boring week at a glance planner from Target and nefer looked back! I need the hours/halfhours marked out for me. And honestly, all the colors confuse me and I work best in good ol’ black and white.  This year I was stoked to see this planner come out and ordered it the day I found out about it…. actually Dan and I both ordered one so hopefully we can both get more done and more margin in our lives through better scheduling!


3. MOPS  (Mothers Of PreSchoolers) Ya’ll…. I So WANTED to be a MOPS gal!! I really do. I mean I have a dozen preschoolers so I should be poster child for MOPS! But I tried… and it’s just not for me. I found that the last thing I wanted to do was sit around and talk about preschoolers and motherhood. (and I hate door prizes… always have, so there’s that.) I adored the women I met there but after getting up super early to get all the kids ready and there on time (and dan finding a ride to work so I could have the car.) I was exhausted and honestly just wanted to talk to one or two people and really talk. But I found that I had a bunch of light conversations and more often than not light teaching topics, I didn’t feel my heart or soul was fed well…. it was kind of like a snack but with a lot of work to get it.  I need a feast when making time for things like that. So while I think super highly of the ministry as a whole… it’s just not for me….not right now.   I will say that I did share with a MOPS group twice this past year when they needed a speaker and I super enjoyed that because I always love  and leap at the chance to tell our story and all that God has done and what He can do in our day to day life as mothers of littles!  (I kinda feel bad saying I don’t like going but I like speaking at it… but I’m just being honest.)

4. Mission Trips with Dan as the Leader.   Oh gracious. Yep, Not doing that again anytime soon. We spent 10 days in NYC with 24 highschoolers and between it being an average of 18 degrees the whole time we were there and the fact that I was thinking this was going to be a fun getaway with my husband…. well, it just wasn’t good for me. I wanted fun relaxed travel loving Dan and I got in charge of 24 peoples kids Dan. (as he should have been). He ROCKS as a mission trip leader! And when we got home we had used up a lot of babysitting graciousness of others…. and we were exhausted and wanted to just be alone together. So this march I’ll hold down the fort at home and then when he gets home and is on spring break…. well, Hello Fun Dan!!!   You can read more about that trip and our experience HERE.


5. Meal planning. I can’t seem to figure this aspect out for our family!  Life goes so much better when I plan meals. And honestly, I do really great when it comes to breakfast and lunch and snacks for the kids…. but dinner. I’m really bad at it. REALLY! I can’t tell you how many times we just would order out Thai food or Dan would pick up stuff at the store on his way home. And that’s not great because it uses up time and money we shouldn’t have to use up. But I just am so challenged in this area.  And things like Emealz and such just don’t work… at least they haven’t in the past.  And, we are kinda sorta finally getting to the place where the kids will eat what we eat at dinner… so I think that’s been part of the challenge too. But Dan is super gracious during the semesters and super helpful (he loves to cook!) the weeks he’s off work! It’s just something I would love to improve on greatly this coming year.

6. Abel’s Therapy. Once we found the therapists that we connected well with I really enjoyed the ECI therapists visits to our home. But I found that they were negatively impacting our family life as a whole, so I started only doing them once a month each and while that worked pretty much but still just something wasn’t jiving with me and therapy. So I started reading and asking questions and overall just studying my child. And I found that he was progressing on his own but on his own timeline, and while therapists had said that and said they understand that it didn’t feel that way… it always felt like therapy was pushing in a way or at least making it very aware of what he wasn’t doing but should be were he on a normal developmental track. Again, nothing the therapists said was out of place or unkind and they worked with me much more than I thought they would. I know I probably seemed a little crazy town to them at times. But in the end I think I was just scared to say No to the whole program because what if someone thought we were withholding help from him or what if something would pop up that I would need help with. So after months of battling this in my mind I finally got the courage to just call our case manager (who I call friend now!) and tell her my thoughts and while she may not have fully agreed she supported my mothers instinct and choice. We would drop it all together. I knew they would be there for me were anything to come up and also there were other forms of therapy that might fit our family better…. but for now I needed to say no thank you to it all.  And I never regretted it for a moment. Abel is doing awesome and progressing great on his own!

7.  Selling Oils 

Okay, I’m going to admit that it’s so tempting to jump in and be a representative of essential oils right now. I do love the products and believe in them! I use them in hundreds of ways in my home on a daily basis and like I’fe written about before I can’t say enough about YL Thieves brand cleaner!! It’s incredible. But I wrestled for about a month over if I should join up and be someone who represents and orders for others and teaches them how to get the most of our their oils. But guys, here is where I came down on the matter…. yes, I could earn good money and it would be with good products I trust. But Everything worth while takes time. And right now time is so super valuable for me. Everything you’re passionate about takes your voice. And right  now my voice towards adoption and family is super important to me. I want it to ring loud and clear and effective towards information and the truths and realities of adoption and intentional living as a mom of littles. So while money is great… and oils are too… I am choosing to say no to a good thing in order to leave room and priority for something that for me is of a higher importance, and that’s the calling God has put on my heart and the voice He’s given me.  And it allows me to cheer on and support those in my life who are oil masters and who know how to serve others through their ministry of natural health. it’s a win/win. Remember friends…. money should never be the sole reason you choose a life direction.  Make your life work truly your passion!


8. Baby Gifts / Mailing Gifts / Printing photos for others

As I was going through my calendar I was saddened to see just how many times I had written “mail _____ card, send ______ gift, Bring _____ baby gift”  It was a crazy amount of times… and you know how many times I actually did it?  Zero. It’s sad I know. I’m just thankful those who I wanted to send stuff to don’t realize I still have stuff for them that I’ve never sent. The Post Office is a huge block in my brain. I’m not sure if it’s all the steps to getting something mailed or what but it’s just not happening.  And it’s not just mailing stuff, I have baby gifts that are probably too small or not needed anymore because I couldn’t make it to see the baby. I have lots of photos that I’m dying to print… even some I’ve printed but just haven’t sent them.  I’m such an awful friend in that way!! But this is something I want to change and see actually happen. I guess I’m going to have to reexamine things and figure out a way to make this happen. Any tips??

9. Dr. Appointments.  Kinda same thing as above. Paperwork, Calling people, Appointments, Insurance, Money, Time… all those come into play with not getting Dr. Appointments made and kept. I’m the worst when it comes to  my own health. I need to go to the eye dr. again… and it’s so easy! I just don’t do it. I probably don’t want to do it.  It’s those things that in your mind you think… if I had a week with no kids and a vehicle I could get all these things done. (but probably I’d put it off then too!) It’s a challenge for sure. It’s kinda all overwhelming for me! I wish they had people who came to your house. (but I know we don’t life in an episode of little house on the prairie.)

10. Looking for the perfect Hairdresser.  I haven’t had a great cut and color since I left North Carolina 6 years ago.  This year hasn’t been awful… but it’s not been very good. 3 hairdressers and didn’t really love any of them. I liked one… so I guess that’s a start. Being a hairdresser in the past I guess Im just super picky!! It’s such a treat for me that I want to walk out and love it and still love it 2-3 months later!  Dan laughs at me because I am always asking people out in public whose hair I love who their hairdresser is. Maybe this will be the year I find one worth their weight in gold!  Or I guess I could always go this route….  😉  JUST Kidding!!


There’s LOTS more I could say as far as struggles, challenges and things that didn’t work for me in 2014…. like managing money better, Keeping a better home, fostering closer relationships with my siblings and their families, being more streamlined in my workflow as a photographer, Getting into more of a blogging schedule… and sticking to it. Diet and Exercise. But I feel like those are more of constant struggles and constant desires of my heart. So Just know… I’m a mess and I have so so much I don’t get right in my day to day.  But thank you Jesus for grace upon grace!!

Now For Part 2:  what Fires me up!! What makes me feel alive and rejuvenated!  

Here is my 2015 Pinterest Board.  (Hint… if you check out the whole board you might see something that is a sneak peak into something our family is super excited about this year!!)


Things that Fire me up are:

The Ocean!!! Oh my the Ocean…. without little kids that is.

Deep conversations

Dreaming about the future

Having money at the end of the month

Date nights

Movies that take me to the past,  far away lands and make believe worlds

The way Abel drinks his bottle and looks at me.

Pretty much anything Abel does.


Having babysitters and not feeling guilty about being gone from my babies.

Plane trips. Road trips. Any kind of trips.

Eating everything we bought at Costco (not wasting anything)

Watching things click for Jack.

Hearing about someone’s adoption plans

Watching people adopt children into their families that conventional wisdom says ????  (big sibling groups, different birth orders, special needs)

families like The Hopkins family are my heroes! They are waiting and praying that their 4 daughters can come home from the Congo soon. Oh Please Lord move the hearts of Kings and Nations to bring these children home!

A clear schedule

Project Life

A planner that gets used well

a well used Bible with writing in it. I used to be so much better at this in high school… I want to ink up my bible again!

Book Club, Community group

Coffee with friends

Coordinating kids clothes

phone conversations with my best friends


When Evie freaks out about Abel’s “snog” (snot) It shouldn’t fire me up but it’s SO freaking cute and a reminder that kids change so fast and soon she will be saying it right… but she won’t be this little girl anymore.

Hearing great sermons and worshiping freely

Making love with my husband

Posting photos that capture love between families

Capturing my family in photos the way we truly live

Jen Hatmaker’s blog posts.

Crisp Fall Mornings/Warm Fall Evenings

Sunsets that spread across the sky

Spending the night in Hotels

New Skirts that go with a lot of things

Things that we actually need that are on clearance

Newborn clothes….. especially little girls outfits with floral prints on them!

Talking theology and culture with my husband. I love when our different perspectives bring out the depths of an issue so that we get to what truth is not just our experience.

Quilts on beds and warm cozy blankets while on a couch!

Expensive oversized throw pillows

Cute ways of storing things

Time spent in the Pool



Drink/coffee station

Listening to my children have conversations together about real life or stay in characters as they play together in a make believe life.

Gold Foil Prints

Drawing. I get such joy out of it but rarely make the time to do it.

Wooden handled bread knifes… I know that sounds strange but they make me happy in the kitchen so now I know to look for them at thrift stores.

NPR Radio + Music I’ve never heard but like the sound of

Football Games on a Saturday Afternoon when we have nothing else going on that day

a freshly made bed with cute pillowcases

vintage pillowcases

bear hugs

Cake…. good cold cake.

Moleskine Notebooks

Blue Ink Pens

Fast Internet Speed

Renting good movies at night with Dan on the couch

Stovetop popcorn

Mondays and Saturdays

Flannel PJ Pants

Worship music playing during the day

Thrift store shopping



Blogging/Writing. It fires me up and so makes me feel alive but it also is draining in the sense that I pour who I am into the posts I write. But it’s so worth it.


What challenges did you face this past year? What went really wrong? What fires you up and makes you feel alive?


Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me in this area of blogging and social media. It’s a hard thing to balance when you’re at home with 5 kids. I know it’s something I want to do more of and it burns within me but I always want my words to be seasoned with grace, to be honest about life (with 5 kids!), to point others to Christ the hope that’s within me, and to provide something that my kids can read as they grow up that shows them what their mom was like as they grew up…. I want them to know I have struggles and so many imperfections but that I basked in the grace of God and the strength He provided each day.  That sometimes I wrote a blog post instead of playing with them that afternoon or that they might not have gotten the most well balanced menu that day. That I didn’t do it all. That somedays the motto was “done is better than perfect” and somedays it was “slow down and get it right”.  But that no matter what that day held and no matter how many times they failed me and each other and I failed them and Him…. that God delighted in us, provided new mercies each day and is totally completely for us!  








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