Monday, August 17, 2015

Happy Birthday to me and other summer stuff!

 I had my 42nd Birthday!  Here was my birthday gear!
 Chocolates, bracelets, glow in the dark balloons, cards, and fun confetti guns!
 Michael loved the confetti!
 Played games later in the day. 
 Had Angel food cake - my favorite! 
 Dave & Sharon Schar came for a visit!  They were the directors of Camp Wesley Woods where I had went as a camper, worked, and then the place where Jason and I met!  They were great mentors and encouragers of our faith and we loved our visit! 
 This summer we have played plenty of card games and board games.  I love his smile!
 Gone to Busch Gardens, Sea World, Aquatica, and Adventure Island. 
 Within the last week or so Jason has tackled laying new floor!!  Last Thanksgiving our floor had to be drilled through to fix the leaking pipe.  UGH!!!  So we paid to have our pipes rerouted anyway since insurance wouldn't fix that and are now getting around to redoing the flooring. 

We got the lovely letter that they would drop our coverage now as well- yeah for us :(.  Heaven forbid you would use your insurance!!!!

He has finished our main area.  We have a open kitchen, dining, living room area.  Yesterday he did the girls bedroom except their closet, and today he is working on our bedroom.  Of course there is always a snag because our patio doors were leaking a bit. 
 Michael- that looks great on you! 
 Joanna modeling some of her new "back to school" tax free purchases. 
 Jason and I on our recent date night to the beach! 
 He is so very handsome! 
 Oh and this is from our work day last Saturday.  Our church helps fix up some schools in the area redoing landscaping, painting, and supporting through community connections, giving shoes away, backpacks with school supplies, etc. 
One of my favorite pictures of me.  I was starting to laugh at something Jason said and actually caught it on camera. 

Hope your summers have been wonderful!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

To The Finish! Our 18th Anniversary

 You know you are die hard theme park junkies when you go to Busch Gardens for your anniversary.  It's true and we are ok with that!  Our second official date was to Six Flags in St. Louis. 
 My gift was 18 roses, bracelet, and GuyLian chocolates- YUMMY!!!! 
 Much more than the yummy chocolates though is the gift of starting over.  You know sometimes you have to fight for your marriage.  You have to take the thought process of starting over.  Not that you can erase the past because you can't.  You can't gloss over it, but God does allow healing to take place and for you to start over with each other. 
 This takes ongoing practice of learning more about your spouse.  Who are they?  What are their likes and why?  Why do they react to you the way they do?  What is their love language (which by the way over the years can change)?  What are their faults and hangups?  Are there things that we need to work out? 

The questions go on and on, but it is all about learning so you can both grow!  That's right it takes both of you to have the start over attitude.  However, if one of you starts the ball rolling you would be amazed at the results.  I love the Movie Fireproof!  Why because it was a challenge and I love a good challenge.  I think it has to do with my stubborn streak ;).

 The challenge is to study your spouse, but not expect them to change.  (Repeat this to yourself a few times.)

The change starts with you making small changes.  Praying for your spouse and for you to see healing.  Doing something intentional to be kind to the other.  Giving them gifts (according to their love languages).  Being available to them.  Offer them help with what they normally do.  Showing affection even if it is a small token to begin with.  Doing these things regularly.
 In the movie he is challenged to do new things every day that take time and care on his part.  In the beginning he doesn't want to do it.  He is just going through the motions, but by the end God had worked a miracle in his heart and he was chasing after his wife.  Who notices this huge change. 
 It is easy to try to think of all the big things in our marriage or you in your marriage that need help.  It is easy to focus on the impossibility of you making those changes- so don't.  Work on things you can.  If your spouse is up for it work on those little things together.  If not work on it yourself because I guarantee if you are falling in love with God and chasing after your spouse they will notice. 
 This is not a cure all, but a place to start the healing in your marriage.  All I can say is personal testimony- God has brought us through 4 years of rough, hard, difficult, throw in the towel times.  Both of us have stuck with it when it would have been easy to call it quits and we have repledged- To The Finish!
I will love him To The Finish!  He will still make mistakes and so will I.  Many many many many many mistakes.  We will go through rough patches again.  We will have to face mountains together again.  God has spoken to us clearly to hang in there.  We are each others gift.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Marriage- We are all a work in progress

Whew now that I just finished doing junior high and senior high camps I am back and somewhat caught up on sleep.  The pictures today are from our date night that we had on our Weekend To Remember. 

Something to remember for all of of us in our marriages is that we are all a work in progress.  Whether we had a great life, had a lot of trauma as young children or young adults, if this is our first or second marriage, or if we have no idea what we are doing we are all a work in progress.  That is the beauty of living your life for Christ because we continue to grow and change. 

We are all in the process of healing from something and growing into the person God wants us to be.  Of course you can be in the stage of rejecting what God wants for you as well.  Either way I want you all to think about your spouse and all the changes you have experienced together so far since you first met.

I am pretty sure we would all start thinking of those first days we met.  Then preparation for marriage, our actual wedding day, those many memories from then until now.  It's a lot to comprehend isn't it?  I know for me it is.

We have lived in 3 states, had 10 jobs, 5 houses, and some very temporary housing as well, adopted 9 children, and...... those are just some of the "big things" we have faced.  

In the midst of all of that we have changed.  We have had times of depression, happiness, anxiety, hateful thoughts, hurt feelings (from each other and others), and have had many many arguments.  In those we have learned a lot about our spouses.  Maybe we have taken those things and tried to implement those into our daily lives.  We have been sensitive to what our spouse needs.

Sometimes we use those things as revenge or to hurt the other person even more.  We are all masters of selfishness remember.  Nothing like bringing up old junk to just stab our spouse with it.  

I can be so narrow in my thoughts as to only think about what I want and what I need in the moment.  I want to have my way all the time and to be in charge thank you very much.  Take this evening that we had together away from the kids.  I got mad at Jason because he had planned going to the Orlando Eye and Aquarium, and I wanted to just chill at the hotel and swim and talk. 

Ridiculous- I know.  It almost ruined our evening.  Why?  Because I had set in my mind what we would do, and I wanted it my way.  Jason wanted to surprise me and had planned something for us to do. 

Looking back on it- I feel so silly.  Jason had taken the time to plan something for us.  He had thought about it and booked it.  Sometimes being a work in progress means we have to say- I am sorry or I was wrong....a lot!

It means we have to keep sharing about our struggles and our past hurts with each other so we can continue to listen and open our hearts to our spouses.  It means that we will make mistakes on a daily and even hourly basis. 

It also means we do change and then we have to start again with figuring each other out.  It's a moving target and we are going to have to follow it if we have any hope of understanding each other.  

I would encourage you today to really seek God about where you are in your marriage.  On a scale of 1-10 where would you rate your marriage overall.  Start thinking about why you gave it that rating.  Are there things you can start doing today to start improving your marriage. 

I will be doing some more marriage posts soon.....  In prayer about what God is teaching us and I pray you as well. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Love & Marriage

So Jason and I went to a A Weekend To Remember put on by Family Life.  It was AMAZING!!!  If you ever have the opportunity- GO!!!  MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!  In fact I pray that every couple will seriously consider going to a weekend.  They have them all over the United States.  Hey they even have a cruise if you can spare the time and money. 

You see this handsome man?  He's all mine!  He is MY GIFT.  We have been married almost 18 years and those years have many many happy memories!  As with all marriages though....there are struggles.  Being real sometimes there are in depth struggles.  Sometimes there are extended times of just plain hard.

 Add in moves, new jobs, children, activities, home schooling, church, serving, and so much that can get into your way!  Things from your past creep into your life and explode into all the areas of your life.  Those things that drew you to your spouse are the same things that drive a wedge between you. 

 Then throw in a huge dash of good old fashioned selfishness on both sides, and you have a classic case of - UGH!  This is getting complicated and hard.  Those struggles can feel as though they are coming faster and more often. 

Hang in there and DON'T GIVE UP!  You know this is just ridiculously hard and yet it seems as though no one else is really talking about that part of marriage.  No one wants to stand up and say hey our marriage is struggling.  So I want to say it out loud.  It's ok!  Really go ahead. 

Think of it as a roller coaster ride.  Jason and I both have a huge love for rides as is obvious from our weekly trips to the theme parks.  You get in the seat so excited to blast off.  Along the way there are many highs and many lows.  Drops, twists, turns, flips and all at lightning speed. 

I don't think God intended for our lives or our marriages to be easy.  If they were then the flowers in that first picture that Jason bought for me - just because- would not be as sweet.  Those moments when God is moving your marriage forward and teaching you both how to love more deeply with more care for the other person.

Oh let's be honest marriage is hard work and requires 100% from each person.  Not the junk you typically see in our culture which is simply ridiculous.  It requires for us to move past ourselves, work on our issues and talk.  Better yet seek God with all that we are and go deeper than just talking.  We need to really listen, really interact, and be very patient. 

This miracle boy has taught me so much about patience.  So much about what it means to keep going, keep struggling, and keep learning.  I have so much more to learn!  We have so much more to learn.  You see it isn't actually about changing the other person, but about growing in how we treat each other.  How we show our love and respect.  Most importantly how we grow in God!

 I am going to continue to cheer you on in your marriages because I have seen literally miracles happen in our marriage.  I have seen how God can use simple steps to really change our perspectives.  I will be sharing some of those shifts with you. 

Of course keep in mind that as you are growing there are many many growing pains.  That patience that I mentioned is because you will both mess up, a lot.  So you have to really be in control of that feeling to throw in the towel or just say whatever.  Put one foot in front of the other. 

Oh yes it is required to get a little crazy.  I mean come on you can't be normal because it really doesn't exist.  So put your pride aside and leave it there.  Humble yourself, lower your voice, and create a safe environment for conversations.  Silly ones and serious ones because we can't just be stuck in the hard all the time. 

Pray for me as I will be helping volunteer the next couple of weeks at camp with our Emerge (Jr & Sr high ministries at our church).  I am thrilled as I really love working with the youth and I really miss camp.  I love sharing Jesus with them and getting to be a part of building God's Kingdom. 

Of course you know what that means right?  That means that Jason will be on his own the first week with Abigail and then Sarah on down.  The second week with everyone but Abigail and I.  So that is huge and he will be needing prayers too! 

So it may be a couple of weeks, but I will be back and hopefully sharing more of what God has been speaking into our marriage through Jason and I.  Until then be encouraged because I always say if God can work through me then He can work through anyone! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

To My Gift! Happy Super Hero Father's Day!

Many of you may know about our family, but this person right here is the ring leader!  I don't talk about him often enough, but it's true.  Our lives revolve around adoption, home schooling, church, activities, our faith, our family.  BUT FIRST- God created our family with Jason and I knowing Him and getting to know each other.

Jason is fun loving.  When I say this some people have different things in mind, but he has a type of play with our family that is fun to enjoy.  He loves doing fun quizzes that the kids have to answer to get their desert after a meal.  He loves to make silly faces, pretend with them, sit down and put together a lego set with them.  He has the ability to share and connect with them through play. 

He enjoys his work and gives it his all!  Even with all 10 other people interrupting ;).

He is a great leader!  He wants to do his best to share Christ with our family, to do what is best for us, and to grow in his relationship with the Lord!  I am so thankful and so very proud! 

He has a passion for cooking- which we all benefit from!  God knew what He was doing giving this man a large family to help feed! 

He also loves theme parks - another perfect match! 

 He cares for me well!  Sometimes he will surprise me by saying I got the kids why don't you go enjoy a long bath.  Why yes please and thank you!  It's not just what he does for me, but the fact that he serves so well.  To his family and his church. 

I have to say the fact that he perseveres through it all and that is impressive.  I mean there is a lot going on in our home.  Jason was the one encouraging me to go the Empowered To Connect Conference and thought it would be even better to go on to do the class to teach others about ETC.  We have been able to lean on each other in the hardest thing anyone could ever do- PARENT a child!!! 

He support me in our homeschooling adventures and has never questioned me, but fully supported and helped me so very much. 

Jason has a deep love- for God!  He wants to remind us and himself of God's Word and seeks to make sure he is growing and healing in God's love as well as his family. 

 He lead our family- through 9 adoptions!!!  If you know the emotional train wreck I can be when it comes to the adventurous ride of adoption - he pretty much deserves a huge reward in heaven just for dealing with me through all of that.  He has sought God through our journeys and welcomed 9 children into our family. 

He also finds time to set apart for us.  It is not easy to communicate with several little people around all the time, but he still thinks of ways to have fun and talk. 

Seeing this picture - I mean..... a man who not only stands up for children, but a child that has many needs.  This makes my heart burst!!!  Jason celebrates with every step any of our children make, but there is something special with loving someone who can't always communicate that with you.

You see these beautiful ladies-  he loves us all and treats us like princesses.  He encourages them to search for a man of God in their future.  Or he can show them his "knife collection". 

 These young men he is raising to lead others and their future families!  Training all of our children to respect and how to love well.

 You know we were talking how sometimes it can be so very difficult with our family.  People put you on a pedestal- which is so easy to fall off of because Jason and I are just people.  However, we love our family.  We imperfectly parent and raise our children in the perfect love of Christ! 

To the man who is my gift!  To my super hero!  I love you and am thankful daily that God gave me you to have and to hold.  Our children are such a blessing and I am excited to spend the rest of our lives loving each other and our children.