Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cai Turns EIGHT

Eight years ago this kid stole another piece of my heart
(a mama has lots of pieces ya know).

He may have cried through the entire first year of his existence,
but has been working full-time to bring laughter all around him ever since.

He loves to give gifts.
He loves to GET gifts.

He is very descriptive,
loves telling (and hearing) stories,
and illustrating them.

Arts, crafts, Minecraft and Legos are among his favorites these days.

He can be really sensitive toward others.
He is a loyal friend.

And he is FINALLY learning to get along with both of his brothers
(for the most part).

Playing jokes and tricking us definitely keeps him sharp.
And I love hearing his little daily facts that he brings home from school every day.

He is still V-E-R-Y particular with his clothing, but we have branched out people!
He now has a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that he has allowed into his 1-outfit rotation that is soccer-playing appropriate
(which also conveniently allows for more washings of the 1-outfit mentioned before).

And wouldn't you know, he STILL lets me nibble his cheeks at bed time.

Cai (because we're only allowed to call you Cai-bo in front of family and at home now;),
You are a joy to be around and I love to be called "Cai's mom".  I hope you always try to make people laugh.  We continue to pray that you will be a man who only speaks truth, following after the heart of God.  Happy Birthday sweet boy!
Love, mom

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Photos

Jemma, meet the ladies.  Ladies, meet Jemma.
So far they are all scared enough of each other to keep everyone...alive, ha!

Zeke loving on his Jemma girl.

Colony baseball consisted of a broken desk leg as the bat and a beat-up baseball that met our lawnmower last week.

Field sledding on the hill with the wagon.

Jude and Cai were fighting discussing who got to hold the handle and the designated seating arrangement...
they BOTH won, lol.

Mr. Daredevil himself.  Never a feat too dangerous or too exciting for this guy.
And if you think I'm kidding,
just start taking inventory of his scrapes, bruises and scars from the ones that didn't end so well.

Friday, July 28, 2017

We Made It To Friday

This week has been one of those weeks where you just wake up every day and pray that God will give you what you need to make it to Friday.

My whole body is exhausted.

Every time I sit down my eyes get heavy and by breathing gets deep.

From family coming home from Uganda and staying with us for a few days, to my parents moving to a home right here in Raleigh, to getting used to a brand new puppy, to soccer try-outs, to school activities, to a local mission trip right across the street with another sister church, life has just been busy.

A good busy.

This is not a typical season for our family.  We are used to lots of white space and margin.  This ensures that we have enough of ourselves to give to all of life's unexpected things that tend to come to us on a daily basis. But sometimes life just happens all at once, so we just embrace the crazy and remind ourselves not to get swept up in the lie that life is supposed to stay this speed.

So yes, we enjoyed my brother and sister in law and their 5 girls (and baking-in-belly boy).  The cousins kept each other entertained and us adults...well, I could sit around the campfire outside all night with them.

As I write this my parents are doing the final walk-through in their new home in Wendell before closing!  I canNOT believe this is actually happening.  What a whirlwind couple of months for them as they traveled back and forth looking for a home in a market that is moving this quickly.

Jemma, oh Jemma, she has really grown on me.  Not that I didn't ever think she was completely adorable, but the more she obeys (and goes to the door to pee outside all on her own!) the more she steels my heart.

Cai was in tears all the way up to getting out of the car for soccer try-outs.  He was full of excitement and nerves all at the same time.  But he rocked his try-outs, didn't even mind that he had to wear a different outfit;) and is pumped for practice to begin.

The highlight, for sure, was the VBS we did in the mobile home neighborhood right across the street from us where many of our kid's friends from school live.  We partnered with our friends at Exchange Church who have been building relationships with the families for a year or so and joined in with our own passion to reach the families in our own Rolesville community.  We split up the kids by age group and set up three stations; Bible story, craft and games. We also opened and closed each evening as a group singing and learning our verse.  The parents were also invited to a short ESL class during the evenings which was exciting to watch grow in attendance every night.  We capped off the week with a Block Party last night for the entire family with free food, snow cones, popcorn, bouncy houses and soccer, of course

This little dude is actually in Jude's class at school and his older brother is in Zeke's class!

Rainy and her daddy leading worship
Instead of canceling band rehearsal last night, Josh just rounded up the Journey Worship team and had rehearsal at the park for the night which was so amazing!

I was in charge of the middle-aged group of kids.  The very first night there was a boy who, while hearing the story of creation, jumped up and exclaimed, "GOD made EVERYTHING?!"  He had clearly never heard this before and it brought tears to my eyes.  He couldn't even pronounce half the words in our Bible verse the first night and by the end of the second night he was helping OTHER kids remember it!  It was SO cool to see his excitement.

Last night during the block party I ganged up with a crew of middle school boys on the soccer field.  About 20 minutes in one of the boys fell down with a hurt ankle.  I stood over by him until he was ready to get up and made sure that he was alright before I started playing again.  A few minutes later he ran over to me and said, "Hey Miss, what's your favorite color?".  I told him that I loved blue and he just smiled and ran off.  After several minutes he came running up to me with a purple snow cone saying apologetically, "Sorry, this is the closest to blue I could get."  Oh.My.Gosh.  My heart melted and my eyes were immediately opened to this opportunity I had right in front of me.  See, earlier that day I had been praying specifically for a clear, open opportunity to share the gospel that night.  God knows my strengths, my weaknesses and my passions and gave me a wide open door.  I LOVE soccer, I love playing with those kids (even though they school me!) and I desperately want those boys to love Jesus.  So after T handed me my snow cone we stood on the sidelines with a couple of his buddies and got to have some simple gospel conversation with them.

And now, I'm off to go to the school to dance with the kids for National Dance Day before heading over to my parents new home for pizza movie night.

The days have been long, the nights have been short, and I am very much anticipating my Sabbath Saturday to soak it all in.

Happy Friday ya'll!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Photos : Story In Pictures : #BroughtChloeHome

I don't even know when to begin the countdown.
When they dove into the adoption process over 6 years ago to #BringChloeHome.
Or when they chose to move to Uganda over 4 years ago to #BringHomeToChloe.

Regardless of the exact amount of time...
we had ALL been anticipating this moment for a VERY . LONG . TIME .

(Pardon my lack of photography expertise and captured moments. 
I was choking down happy tears and making my own rounds to 
grab and hug all of my family in the process;)

The kids were SO excited as they awaited their cousins/friends.

We waited...and waited...and waited...
Apparently it takes a while to herd a bunch of (FIVE) tired girls, a pregnant mama and an 
under caffeinated dad through an airport, ahem...

It was so sweet to see who arrived to show love and support.

Our "Squad" has been through a lot over the years.
And this moment just added another milestone to the list.

Photo Credit: Angela Clodfelter

The Boys:
Josh, Jonathan, Craig and Matt

Cana and her brand new baby cousin Hadley

The Siblings (minus Jacob who was still in Haiti):
Jared, Joy, Jonathan and Josh

I couldn't get enough of Kaliyah and her balloons.

All the older girl cousins.

Heidi and Kelly

Chloe and Alethia
From "best friends" in the babies home from just a few months of age, to cousins.
The emotions of this moment were nearly too much for Alethia to handle.
So much to process and sift through.
But it wasn't long before they were creating their own foundation beyond the
distant memories that have all but disappeared.

Karis and Izzie

The ONE group shot that our friendly volunteer photographer took. 
I was sure there would be at least 8 to choose from by the amount of time that it took 
to get this ONE, ha!

This moment I will not soon forget.

Welcome home Jonathan, Kelly, Cana, Kayil, Chloe, Karis, Kaliyah and baby Via.
It's time to begin a new chapter!

To God be all the Glory.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Happy Birthday Zeke ~ 11 Years Old

Zeke was actually born ON his due date.
(I have two kids that did that, despite the rarity.)
He likes to know the plan and stick with it, and so he entered the world as so.

He is full of life and energy.
Everything about Zeke is huge.
His emotions.
His pain.
His joy for food.
His heart for others.
His awareness of the unseen all around us.
His play.
His adventurous spirit.
His facial expressions.
The way he "gets into character".
His persistence (or lord, his persistence).

To Zeke, "the boy in the red cape" (this is how all the teachers and faculty at your school knew you) I am SO incredibly proud to be your mama.  I am so proud of the young man you are allowing the LORD to shape you into.  I love your teachable heart.  I love your sensitivity to others and to the Holy Spirit.  I honestly canNOT wait to see where the LORD takes you!  Keep pressing on sweet boy.  We're on your team.  We're in your corner.  Just keep loving your Heavenly Father and He will guide you every step of the way.
Happy Birthday!
Love, Mom

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Homebound Adventures (in photos)

We had to be out of our hotel by 11am but were in NO hurry to get home.

So we drove up the road a little bit to the Jockey's Ridge Sand Dunes to hike out some energy
and to see the beautiful sites.

After that sandy excursion we decided to get an hour or so under our belt before stopping for our lunch.  We weren't too far down the road before the map let us know that we were about to come upon an accident and that we could expect to be sitting on the two-lane HWY for over an hour!

So of course we decided to try to find an alternate route.

We saw a few other cars turning down a side road and then drove into what appeared to be woods.
We figured we were up for an adventure so we followed suit guided by our GPS and the handful of other like-minded drivers.

This off-roading adventure just happened to be the PERFECT Father's Day gift according to the look on Josh's face.  We bonded quickly with the other SUV drivers in the bunch as we tried our hardest to get through the road blocks and to the other side...but we were surrounded on every side by swamps, cement and/or chained road blocks and had to turn back.  Luckily the wreck was all cleaned up and nowhere in site by the time we finished our little off-road adventure.

By that time we were really getting hungry and found the PERFECT rest area/wild life refuge.

After a quick picnic from leftover food from our cooler we decided we had one more adventure in us.
It started with a 12 minute video in the museum about the area and the wildlife surrounding us.
Then we took off on the trails to see what we could see.

When we got back to the entrance we were sweaty, stinky and ready for the rest of the car ride home to cool us off and relax.

Everything about this day was special and we were so glad we took the time to stop and enjoy it all!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Colony Beach Trip 2017

Josh planned it out, I packed 'em up,
and we headed to the OBX for 3 days with JUST US!

The rip tides were super strong this particular weekend 
so we were careful not to get too far into the waves.

Josh enjoyed lots of reading, relaxing, riding the choppy waves with the kids, 
digging for little crabs and chasing the kids around in the surf.

I, on the other hand, didn't even crack the books I brought!
I did, however, take a ton of pictures (way more than I could ever post, ha!)
and simply sat and soaked in those three wonderful days.

The kids played near the edge of the water and in the breaking waves on the shore 
almost the whole trip.

Jude loved trying to capture these little guys.
He also liked air karate chopping the wind (which was freaking hilarious to watch)
and boogie boarding with Zeke.

Alethia mostly spent her time making new friends and doing cartwheels in the waves.

Cai liked "getting stuck" in holes that he would dig so he could stay grounded when the current would try to pull him in the ocean.

Zeke's favorite thing, by far, was boogie boarding in the surf!

We enjoyed getting to know Addison and her family this weekend.
We stayed in the same hotel and came out every day together.

The first day was super hazy but the other
the brilliant bright colors were too gorgeous NOT to take photos of!

Jude spent a few rounds just sitting to readjust his little heart.
but overall we all stayed pretty positive.

Areyna LOVED standing, watching, jumping and splashing in the waves 
that crashed in around her.
She's our little mermaid at heart:-)

We also had some fun adventures on the way home that I'll document later this week hopefully.

So thankful for this time to unplug from "real life" and just BE.