3 Seams & Laina's Birthday

I have the most exciting news!

We are teaming up with Inga over at '3seams' to raise money for her wonderful ministry!  First of all, if you haven't ever heard of '3seams', you must go over and read about it RIGHT NOW!  It's such a wonderful idea!  I told Inga that I love how God is so amazing, He gifts us with talents and passions and then is able to use those special gifts - whatever they are - to spur on His love and His grace to others. 

So, here's the deal.  For Laina's first birthday party, we will be asking for no gifts since she has the 1 year-old world at her fingertips, thanks to three older siblings.  Instead, we're asking for donations to support '3seams'

What's even MORE exciting is that Laina will be wearing the dress that Inga has made for her at her birthday party.  She will be so cute!

What's BEYOND EVEN THAT exciting is that Inga is making a trip to Haiti on September 16th and will have the duplicate dress that she gives to a little girl there which means that we will have the picture of this precious girl by Laina's birthday and will get to celebrate her too!

I'm beyond giddy.  I really thought this wouldn't work out for some reason or another.  I also thought that I might end up talking to some customer representative from the company or something, so when Inga emailed me back and shared with me how excited she was to make this happen, my soul went soaring. 

Even with all of the chaos happening in our lives right now, we are planning on doing a much larger party than usual in order to get as much money as we can to support this great cause.  You can donate too!  If you would like to be a part of this and give Laina a birthday present that will make a difference in the world, please let me know!  Either email me or leave a note in the comments section that you would like me to contact you with info on how to do it.  Of course, you can always go to the '3seams' website too!

Please pray for us in these next coming weeks that God will move hearts to give generously so we can make a change and bless the children and the families of Haiti!

More Love

I cannot get enough of this baby.  I know I'm biased but I truly think she is the cutest baby ever born.  Well....ever born in the year of 2009.  There are some other pretty cute kids born in 2006 & 2008 that I know of.  However, this little bug of mine takes the cake on modeling.  I could sit and look at her all day.  And then, as if the real thing wasn't great enough, I could sit and edit photos of her all night.  She melts me with just one look of her gray/green eyes and when she says "Mama"....it's all over from there.  I love her.

Summer Loves

I've just been writing and writing lately and pretty much none of it has been about any of my favorite moments of summer!  Here are some pictures for you non-Facebook friends of mine (and because Facebook's quality of photos is so crummy) and also for those who turn to the blog for all of the pertinent info.....like the cuteness of our kids!  And, yes, I'm really speaking to you, Grandma Janet! :)


I have been so blessed by the world of blogs.  In the last couple of weeks, I've had two blogs in particular speak into my life with the exact words I've needed to hear, at the exact time I needed to hear them. 

Another change has come into our lives.  At this point, I'm wondering why I'm still shocked when this happens.  As of 7:30 PM yesterday, we are moving to Michigan to live with Jake's parents during this time of transition.  Is it ideal?  Absolutely not.  Will there be a ton of adjustment for all of us?  You'd better believe it.  I think six extra people living anywhere is an adjustment, especially when four out of the six are under the age of five!  Is this the best thing for our family?  I really believe so.

Without being too dramatic, this is a day that I am a complete ball of emotions.  I swing from one end of the pendulum to the other. 

I'm excited about being by family and friends we haven't been around for four years BUT I'm sad to say goodbye to people who we love here. 

I'm ready for Cole to start school and looking forward to that new chapter in our lives BUT I'm scared he won't get into the preschool I'm wanting and then what do we do? 

I'm ready to be a part of our old home church and dive back into the ministries and small groups with people we know and love BUT we've been gone a long time and the church has changed.  What if we don't fit right in again?

I'm excited to spend time with friends like the "old days" BUT they still have their lives and jobs that have continued since these last four years and I don't want to be the needy friend who wants to get together all of the time. 

I love Michigan and everyone there so much that I know this in between time will be wonderful BUT will it be so wonderful that I'll be devastated having to leave it again?

We are wandering in the desert.  We don't know where we're going.  The age old question we all ask ourselves at some point or another is pressing on my heart so forcefully.  Where do I belong?  And, I'll add, that Satan is quick to jump on this insecurity of mine and magnify it all the more.

This is where the land of blogs comes in to play.  On Angie's blog, she writes of how God knows us and knows what we need.  We don't need to give Him an entire rundown of what is happening in our lives and what we so desperately desire for Him to do.  I love how she uses the example that she knew when her daughter was crying that she needed her lamb and pacifier.  She knew this because she knows her. 

As a mom, I resonated with this story because there are so many times that I've known what my children need without them even telling me.  We've all experienced this in some way or another, right?  And if that's the case, how much more does my Heavenly Father know what I need?  Angie's blog post brought me so much comfort just in the reminder that God DOES know before a word is even on my lips.  He knows my innermost cries - even the ones I wouldn't share with anyone else.  Seriously, you have to check out her blog if you get a chance.  It's beautiful and I've learned so much.  Can you tell I want you to go there since I'm linking to it so much?!?

Again today, after my great insecurities kept rolling in my mind and I was fighting to keep them at bay, I came across the latest post on Beth Moore's blog.  Her daughter, Amanda, wrote on stepping away from ministry to concentrate more on her family.  She mentioned Satan's lies of how she wouldn't be important any more now that she wasn't working full-time.  This is exactly what is running through my head!  "You won't fit anywhere.  No one has time for you.  You have nothing to offer now."  Ah!  It's excruciating.  It's one of those things where I know I know I know that they are lies and that I have to put my focus back on God but it's a constant struggle. 

The end of Amanda's post said this:  "I know that many of you reading this are desperate for your situation – whatever that may be – to change. Please know that when you cry out to the Lord, He hears you! He knows what you are going through. He is your Shepherd and He cares for you. Pray, pray, pray. First Peter 5:7-8 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV) I am asking God to show you His love, power and care right now."

I am desperate, but God hears me!  I may feel alone, but He knows me!  He WILL lift us up in due time...this gives me such peace.  I know in my heart of hearts that God's timing is perfect and mine is not.  That His ways are great and mine are like chaff.  I am clinging to my Father and casting all of my cares upon Him.  I am praying this will be a great time of growth in our dependence on Him. 

He is my hope. 


I think we're okay.

In fact, I know we're okay.

Thanks to all of you who commented or sent me a message on Facebook or an email.  This blog is my main outlet for the realness of our life and I can't tell you how much it means to get your encouragement, support and prayers.

Sunday went pretty well, actually.  Well, as well as you can expect when you completely stun over 400 people with the news that you will no longer be an active part of their lives in three weeks.  I am thankful that I was able to pull aside Sarah, one of my girls from my small group, to tell her in private.  We cried and cried but she was so incredibly understanding.  And - get this - she actually said to me, "You have been teaching me to follow God no matter where He leads for the last 4 years so if you didn't do that now, what you've taught me would be completely hypocritical."  Inside, I was giddy she said this.  All I had wanted was this and I wrote about it here.  The sweetness of God answering that prayer for me through her words was almost too much.  I started bawling all over again.

Tomorrow night is our fall kick-off for youth group and I couldn't be more excited just to be surrounded by these high schoolers who have been one of the biggest parts of my life for the last four years.  The memories are countless and their lives are so precious to me.  Yes, even the kid that burps so loudly, you hear him on the opposite end of the church (and no, I'm not making him up.  He's got a name and I'm thinking of him right now!).  Right now, for me, that's love speak.  Yep.  I'm sick.  I've got it bad.

Aside from that, we're just continuing to pray.  And pray.  And pray.  It's such a tender balance to wait on God yet take steps of faith.  If you do one of those too much, you could completely miss what He's really wanting you to see.  So we're stepping gingerly and waiting fiercely. 

Sarah was so cute because she said, "Is it wrong for me to not want you to go to another youth group?  I feel like we're your kids and you're ours.  I don't want you to be anyone else's!"  No, Sarah, that's not wrong at all.  I am actually feeling the same thing!  We'll see where God leads.  He's always been faithful and always provided. 

Psalm 37:25 - I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

Thank you, Lord, for your goodness to us.  Your love is better than all the riches of the world.

The Announcement

Today is the day.

I'm sitting in Jake's office and he just left to tell the first service of church that we are leaving.  I am shaking with nerves beyond what I thought was possible.  I'm more scared of our students finding out next service, while I sit among them, Jake sharing that we are leaving, not just the church, but them

How will they feel?  Will they feel betrayed?  Will they be angry or sad?  Maybe neither?  And really, since we're not moving on to another position, what else can I say besides, "It's time"?  How do you explain to someone whose life is so regimented by things they have to do (high school, sports, band, etc.) that sometimes God can lead you to just pick up and move in a different direction?  After all, we're so often telling these kids to stay on the course of obeying their parents, honoring God in their school and with their friends...just stay on the course that God has you on, proving your faith along the way.

I realize that in us leaving, we're still staying on "the course."  But some days it doesn't feel like it.  We are leaving our church with nowhere to go, no job to work, no community to surround us.  We are officially wandering in the desert.  I am trying so hard to maintain and prove my faith but some moments of panic or sadness get the best of me.

Sometimes when God leads, He just asks you to follow...no questions asked.  Sometimes I get angry with this but I know I do this with our kids.  "Obey me because I am your mother.  You don't need to know why.  Do as I say, right away."  If I'm "qualified" to say this to my children solely because I am their mom, how much more is my Heavenly Father qualified to say this to me?  And how much more does He have our best interest in mind even more than I do for our kids?  I know this to be beyondashadowofadoubt true.

But I'm also learning why my little ones cry when I don't give them full reasons...the whys of life.  I guess if there's one thing I want to impress on our students then, too, it's to follow God even when you're questioning where He's leading.  If you have that beyondashadowofadoubt trust that He is guiding your steps, all you need to do is take them.  I hope that, instead of feeling like we've up and left them caught in the middle of a divorce, they can see us as examples of following Him one last time before we go.

Fun with Aperture

Lately, I've been obsessed with editing photos.  I sit at the computer every night once the kids are in bed and play around with Aperture 3.  I only have the free trial for now but plan on getting it.  I only have three days left!  I will have to get it.  Very.  Soon.

All of my blogs in Google Reader have been replaced with photographers around the country.  I take at least fifty pictures of the kids every day.  I can't tell you how many pictures of my coffee mugs I've taken, practicing lighting and exposures.  I get so wrapped up in photos, the hours escape me.  I think that Jake has fallen asleep before me the last three out of four nights.  This never happens!

Like I said, obsessed.

Obviously, I'm no professional.  Right now, I'm just enjoying practicing and playing around with the kids.  But someday....someday I just might want to do this as a career.  I am in love.  Not infatuation, but real, true, love that is food to your soul.  I just can't get enough. 

Here are a few of my favorites from this summer.

Colorful Fun

The kids and I did a new project the other day.  We found an idea to paint rainbows with erasers here.
I love this website and have found lots of good ideas to do with the kids.  And they've ENJOYED them!  This isn't always an easy feat, especially trying to find project ideas to suit both toddlers and a preschooler.

We first read this book, just like she instructed.
This is my absolute, hands-down, favorite book to read to my kids.  I love how, as you turn every page, it pulls a ribbon across to make a beautiful rainbow.  It's been wonderful to teach them their colors.  This is a gift I give at every baby shower.  Every child must have this book.  They must.
Maurah was so sweet in how articulate she was with her art.  I love this picture of her.  I just want to snuggle her to bits.
This girl, I would love to snuggle too, but not until after a bath!  This picture reminds me of the old book Panda Bear's Paintbox, which would also be a great book to read with this project.  I love that book! 

This is such a fun project to do with the kids.  We now have our rainbows proudly displayed on our front wall so we get a touch of color as soon as we walk in the door.  My children's artwork in the house - one of my very favorite things.

A New First

I broke down and gave the girls their first hair cuts a couple of weeks ago.  I was so scared that their sweet little curls would disappear on me but they stayed, which I am so thankful for!  The only thing I forgot to do was save a lock of their hair.  I am so sad.  Here are some pictures of all the happenings.
Maurah was first.  I could not get the girl to sit still for the life of me!  Thankfully, her hair still came out evenly.  Sadly, this was the best picture we got of her.  She had the wiggles that day!
Hayden, on the other hand, sat very very still and was pretty pensive about the whole thing.  She kept repeating, "You cut my hair?"  I am so glad she was alright with it.  After 2 1/2 years, they may have been very attached!
The after.  (I just uploaded this and realized I wasn't completely done editing it.  Yet I'm too lazy to go and do it right now.  Oops.)  I love this picture of the girls, particularly Hayden laughing.  It just describes their personalities, especially on this day.
Maurah skipped out on me but I was able to get this one sweet one of Hayden.  All things considered, the first haircuts went really well!

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...