Weekly documenting my children’s lives. I was a part of a group of DFW photographers who weekly captured their children with their Big cameras. Having a weekly goal was super helpful in making myself stay in the habit of having my big camera out and ready. It also gave me lots of opportunity to capture video and thus giving me clips to make into our Video -Highlights!! HERE is our spring one and I’m still working on the ones from this summer/fall. Here are a few favorite images from my year with the DLC!
Going to the Linger Conference in Dallas. It was wonderful. It’s so refreshing. I have to be careful to expect each year to be the same experience for my soul and thus setting myself up for disappointment if it’s different or if God’s wanting to do something I’m not prepared for. But this year it was wonderful. I went with a friend who is a foster mom here in fort worth. I met new friends. And just had a great time of refreshment. I’m so excited that this coming year I get to bring my husband with me! (and a few friends I’m working on talking into coming as well!)
Going to see my brother at his army base. Ya’ll bringing a carload of kids anywhere is exhausting. The idea of going somewhere is grand but once it comes time to get them ready, pack the car and make sure you have what you need for the day away… well, it’s a lot. BUT I’m SO glad we headed to Fort Hood and got to spend the day with Uncle Mikey and Aunt Jyssica!! The kids got to see vividly where Uncle Mikey was serving and what it looks like to live on an army base. (even if we did get pulled over by base police for having too many kids not in carseats in Mikey’s car…. it was just to go a few blocks) He’s deployed to South Korea so be praying for him and his awesome wife Jyssica as she’s here holding down the fort.
Bible Explosion and VBS! Because well, it’s like a ton of fun and a lot of Jesus! Both McKinney and Redeemer did a great job of loving my kids and showing them a big God worthy of our worship!
Visiting other moms. Ya’ll I’m a visual learner. I need hands on practice. So something I’ve found SO helpful is going to visit friends who are rocking this mom thing… well, rocking in the sense that they need a Big God to help them get through each day and they are showcasing His goodness even in the toughest of situations! I want to watch mamas like that and phone chats and texting are great, but I want to be in their homes, I want to talk on the couch over coffee, I want to know their kids in person! So with the blessing of an awesome husband, I got on an airplane and hopped in my car and made it possible to spend time with a few mamas like that this year. They make me a better mom and a better child of God!! Each of them are so different and have vastly different ways of parenting and living and those differences are so good for me to soak in and try out and incorporate into my life. I’m a gleaner when it comes to parenting wisdom… We glean from many places and then with Gods help Dan and I customize it for our family!
Being IN photos. Truth be known, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and not proud of that fact. 2 losses and 6 adoption processes have not been kind to my waistline. But I am loved right now for who I am… and I want to document my life for my children and to look back on and remember. So I got in the photos. I hope to do more self care this coming year but this last year… I cared for others a lot and I’m in the picture to remember those moments of joy!!
Being a guest podcaster. Can I just say I LOVE PODCASTING!!! When I have the time I really like to listen to episodes, I’m hoping to have more time this year to listen to more. But I LOVE speaking on them. It’s like having the most fun conversation with a good friend that’s being recorded. Check out the one I did for the Influence Network HERE and for my friend Tiffany over at A mom’s mission field HERE.
Fundraising. After bringing two kiddos home from Africa, I didn’t know if I had what it took to do a fundraising campaign again. It’s A LOT of work!!! But when we were matched and had time on our hands and fees in front of us, We knew it was something we could do and just trust that God would provide as He always had before (with or without our fundraising efforts… HE ALWAYS COMES THROUGH!!! Just wanted those of you who are in the thick of it to read that and don’t ever forget it!!) Well the Best of Baskets were a big hit again and through the 3 we did not only did we help bring Twila home from China but we completely paid for our adoption fees and traveling and living in another state for a whole month! God used so many people in and through that as well as people and churches there in Las Vegas and here in Fort Worth!!
For those of you in the thick of raising money, I’m working on putting together a pdf on tips I found helpful in fundraising and doing the best of baskets. I highly recommend Julie Gumm’s website as well.
Getting the girls hair braided. Dan took the girls to Ya-Ya’s African House of braids the day before I brought Isla home and they got their hair put into braids with curls on the ends. We had put off doing anything like this before because 1. I knew they would instantly look older and I didn’t want them to grow up so fast! and 2. the money. Hair care for these gals aint cheap, but natural hair care is also super time consuming and tear producing. So with bringing a baby home we thought this was one area that we could help in the adjustment! And it was tough on them at first… but these girls have LOVED their long hair and it’s been so easy!! We will probably get them done 2-3 times a year and then let them go natural in the summer time since they are in the pool so much! I love watching them have so much fun with their hair. It’s worth every penny!
Pouring out my heart to friends when my brain felt like mush. More times than I’d like to admit I’d have a friend over to visit and we’d be sitting on the couch or at a coffee shop and my brain would just feel like a pile of mush. I would start thinking I have nothing to chit chat about… heck, I can’t think of anything to really say that’s interesting except what’s truly going on in my heart right now, and that’s not always pretty and it’s also full of drama and things personal to me. So I just gave up trying to think up stuff to talk about and dove in and just shared my heart and struggles… And I’ve never regretted it. I felt vulnerable doing it… but they always left with me feeling like, at least they know the real me right now. messy, weak and needing so much of Jesus… and most often they were such a source of encouragement and hope to me!
Switching to Pink Salt: I just filled up all our shakers and containers of salt with Pink Himlayian salt and we haven’t looked back. It’s filled with so many great minerals and tastes great. It’s a small change… but one I feel good about.
Watching The West Wing… the whole series! This is probably Dan and My 3rd time through the whole series and every time we fall in love with the characters and the writing is so good. With it coming up on election year and the rumor that Netflix was taking it off it’s line up (they aren’t) we dove in and watched an episode or two every night… okay some nights it was like 3 episodes! I’m actually in mourning now that it’s over. There’s just nothing else out there that compares to it. And I mean what TV actor wasn’t on that show at some point. All of my favorites for sure!
Watching the old Star Wars Trilogy with the kids I don’t remember when I watched them originally but watching them this time was so fun and seeing the kids love the story and characters was so awesome. We’ve had lots of light saber wars around here. They loved going to the theaters to see the last one! Although it was a little tricky when the yellow words started going up the screen and four little heads turned around for Daddy to read them to them out loud and we just had to tell them to turn around and that they would figure it out.
Taking holiday Photos WAY before the holiday. Because we didn’t know when Isla would be born and if we’d even be here for Trick or Treating, we had to start thinking costumes and such in September. Nesting energy really came in handy about then. So when I tried all their costumes on them to check fit and such, I took them outside and shot a few pictures of them together and I’m so glad I did. Come the actual day which I was able to be here for, I was able to be present and just go with them and have fun without the pressure of getting cute photos or them being picture perfect. It worked!! Having a trial run for Easter and Going Early to see Santa worked as well!
Listening to NPR. I learn so much from that radio station. I find that when they cover the news and talk of lands far away who are facing turmoil I can better understand and pray for friends of mine who are over there serving and sharing of the good news. When they have interviews and stories about people and things I never would have considered before and it makes me think! In a way it’s really taught me how to listen to people with perspectives I completely disagree with but yet I learn from them and come away from it seeing it at least from another perspective even if my belief/opinion stays the same. I feel like that’s so valuable.
Shopping at Trader Joes. I’m more of a costco girl when it comes to shopping and in the past haven’t really done much at Trader Joes… it felt like one more store to add. BUT this year changed that. I don’t know how they do it but they have hired the most incredible employees who not only don’t look down on my crew of kids… they celebrated them with smiles and conversations and suckers!! They also are always so helpful and last week I was in there and had the best conversation with a cashier and it came up that it was my birthday and before you know it she was handing me a huge bouquet of flowers…. I cried. So T.J., keep up this kindness and excellence and I’ll be a fan for life! If you’re doing Whole 30 HERE is a great video of 25 approved things from there.
Dan’s PhD. I know I said this last year too. But It is. I braced for year two because everyone said it’s a doozey and while it’s brought it’s challenges with it, it’s really been great. I love watching him flourish and learn and then come home and regurgitate so much of it back to me. I learn so much from him. His cohort has been so kind and supportive of us and isla’s adoption this year. DBU has been super about really everything involving classes and schedules. He’s got one more year of course work then a dissertation to write. Honey, I’m SO proud of you and I love that you’re getting to use the incredible mind and heart that God’s given you to not only impact the world around you but that you come home and use it to bless your wife and little ones. There’s no one else I’d rather be on this adventure with. We love you!
Depending on God and His faithfulness to meet all of our needs: Starting a non-profit has been challenging to say the least but it’s been so rewarding and fulfilling. I remember thinking… between our adoption needs and our living needs we are going to run out of resources and people are going to tire from us asking them to give. But then I remember that God has unlimited resources and He uses people in crazy awesome ways to bless us and provide for us. I could write a whole post on friends and families generosity to us!! One day I was thinking about how much the boys needed warmer pajamas and within that week a friend dropped off a bag FULL of boys PJ’s and underwear! We brought Isla home and knew our vehicle wouldn’t fit us all… we visited a car dealership and had a terrible experience there, and we really knew that going into year two of this ministry we preferred not to add a car payment to our monthly expenses at least not right now. So we prayed and we waited. Not only did a family in our church offer to switch us vehicles for a time but we had a friend call us on Christmas Eve and tell us that they were on the way to a dealership to get a new family car and they wanted to give us their 9 passenger Suburban!! We now can all fit in the car to go places!!! What a blessing and a confirmation that God hears us and sees us right where we are. It’s also very humbling… but I’ll save that aspect for another post coming up.
Home Sweet Home: Dyson Vaccum (Thank you Josh and Paige!!) and Bose Color sound link speaker! (Two brands where Quality is totally worth the price!) Behr Paint in Dolphin Fin…it’s the perfect gray for any room! I promise.
Favorite Blogs to read: Sayable and Cup of Jo and two longtime friends that are newer to blogging and I’m so proud of them for creating their space and pouring out to their readers: Cynthia Stuckey and Lisa Burns
Kids Loving: fancy coloring books, playing with kitchen tools, jellycat cordy-roy stuffed animals, power rangers dino charge and H2O,
Favorite Wine I’ve tried this year under $20: White: Simi sauvignon blanc & Villa Cerrina Chardonnay Pinot Grigio and Red: Canyon Road Merlot
Listened to over and over: Shane and Shane Psalms 2, Lauren Dagle, and of course… Adele! And this Spotify Mix I made.. “Hope for the Weary Heart.
Best New show on TV: Code Black. It’s SO good! Other favorites: Call the Midwife, Madame Secretary, Goldbergs, Fixer-Upper.
Favorite Phone Apps: Vsco Cam for photo edits, Two Dots for mindless activity, and Dubsmash for endless fun with the kids! And the GIF keyboard…. if a picture speaks a thousand words then a Gif is worth at least a few thousand!
Best Reads: Belong Magazine…Bloggers you NEED this magazine! It’s so well done and very affordable. Click Magazine… Photographer mamas same for you! For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (I talked out loud to the book often while reading this… lots of “Yes!!! Amen!! You get it!!” and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up.( Seriously, super helpful!!)
Baby Baby: Baby Tights by June and January Oh my… these are so thick and will last forever! And the colors. Swoon!! I was gifted a Lily Jade Diaper Bag by Lily Jade Company because they so lovingly support adoptive mamas and do a give away once a month. I’ve been carrying it everywhere and holding back on a review until I saw how it weathered the use… and so far, I’m sold!! I love it, it’s been so useful and high quality. I’m hard on diaper bags. And I’m pretty sure I’ve met my match with this one. (I’m hard on my camera bags too… so if you are too then Kelly Moore Camera Bags are by far the best I’ve ever had!!)
Teaching 3 Everyday Instagram Classes in my home around my table!
Diving deeper and wider into our ministry. Being ALL IN!
3rd year of the Linger Conference If you want to join me… let me know!!! It’s incredible.
Dan and I are Going to Alaska (spring) and Raleigh (end of Feb) for speaking engagements. BOTH of them I call Home!!
No adoption process!!!! Just a little girl to love and watch grow!
New routines and education choice for our oldest four as they go to public school.
Moving this summer into a different house. Not sure what it will be like, but we are busting at the seams of this 1260 sq. ft. house with only one kitchen drawer.