Foster Care // Forever a Family

Our foster care experience in Uganda has come to a close. Last week we took the baby girl we’ve been caring for,  who’s really not so much a baby anymore, back to live with her family. Hellen has been in our home for the last year, and even while we were back in the States over the Christmas season, Jia (my sis in law) lovingly cared for her. Hellen has been the baby of our family, the littlest sis. We’ve gotten to know all her little quirks. What she likes, what she doesn’t like, and how stubborn this girl truly is. She is smart and curious and has an appetite like none I’ve ever seen. Seriously though, this girl will eat raw onions…and sign for more!

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So this last week when we took her to her family to say goodbye, it was, of course, hard and emotional. Foster care is definitely not easy, and saying goodbye is not fun! But here’s the good part! She is with her Ugandan family that absolutely loves her! She gets to grow up among her siblings and cousins, father, step mother, and aunt and uncles. She will learn her local language and all the cultural practices that tie her village together.

We will be able to help support her as she grows and hopefully stay a small part of her story. With this girl’s stubbornness and determination to get what she wants, she will go far with a gentle hand of guidance.

She is so loved by many. She is home with her family, and forever a part of ours.

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foster care

foster care

foster care

foster care

foster care

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Intentional Time With the Lord

The first few months of pregnancy can really throw you for a loop. I’m usually a morning person, but as growing a little human became my body’s number one priority, sleep and rest became a necessity. Waking up early to get in prayer and devotion time, as well as working out, was out of the question!

There are seasons of rest where it is ok to put rest as your number one priority. the problem is that I often found I was not getting in my prayer and devotion time if I didn’t do it first thing in the morning. I’m a morning person through and through. I love to start my day off with time with the Lord, and also get my body moving a little bit.It helps start my day off on the right foot.

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Pregnancy is an important season of rest. Those first few months of sleeping in when I could and resting more in general were very much needed.Now that I’m out of the first trimester and well into the second, my energy has returned! Hallelujah and Amen! I’ve slowly been getting back into the routine of waking up early before the girls, though that can be a challenge when at least one of them likes to regularly wake up at 6:30 am!

Finding time with the Lord, no matter what time of day is important in any season, and one that I’m learning I need in both seasons of rest and otherwise. Though I was out of my normal morning routine, I still benefited from finding at least small pockets of time during the day to sit with the Lord.

I’m happy to be back to my mornings of waking up early in the calm of the day. Even though interruptions tend to follow, I’m always glad I’ve made the time. One great resource that I love to use for my devotions each day is She Reads Truth. Their devotional series are always spot on and encourage me to dive into scripture in a new way.

How about you? How do you spend time with the Lord in your day? Do you carve out a certain time for devotions? Are you a morning or evening devotion kind of person?

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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I See You, Mama // Encouragement for Mamas

Hey there Mama, I see you. I’m right there with you. Stay at home mama to littles. Trying to love well, maintain balance, find my own personal passions, and seek God’s grace daily. You are in the trenches, mama. You are doing the hard work of raising littles and I want to encourage you on your journey!

encouragement for mamas

I recently had the privilege to have a few different pieces published with Her View From Home. They’ve both been pieces to encourage mamas just like you and come right from the heart of another mama.

I hope that if you are able to take time out of your busy day and take a minute for yourself to sit down and read these, that you are encouraged and blessed. I pray that you can connect with what I have written and know that you are never alone.

You may not feel like it, but there are many other mamas out there just like you. And you may not always remember it, but Jesus walks with you daily, hand in hand.

I see you, Mama. I’m right there with you. Be encouraged. You are not alone.

Here are the links to the articles that I hope you’ll be able to have the chance to read. Rest in His grace today sweet mamas!

Leaning Into Christ in Motherhood & When You Are Enough

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Shake It Up // Have Fun and Get Moving With Your Kids

You know how your kids can be absolutely adorable and hilarious and drive you crazy all at the same time? I feel like that makes up a good portion of my day! The balancing act of setting boundaries and disciplining, all while trying not to smile and laugh at something outrageously cute that just took place happens quite often in our house.

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There are days that I realize that I just need to give them the space to be ridiculous, wild, and somewhat chaotic. Dance parties are definitely our number one go to choice to shake the wild out a bit. And then there are days where you just want peace and quiet and all you want to do is dial the crazy down a notch or two.

It’s ok to have the days where quiet and calm is needed. Maybe you can enlist your husband, mom, or a friend to give you that coveted quiet time. But there are also days where we need to embrace the chaos. Relish the messes. Get down with our kids on the floor and follow wherever the crazy may lead.

Sometimes embracing the wild may mean actually planning to embrace it! Planning activities with the kids that you know they’ll love and give them a chance to explore and move. This might mean setting aside the dishes until later, or as often happens in our household, letting them wash the dishes with you, aka washing all the dishes you already cleaned and getting them dirty again!

Check out my Pinterest board here, created for when you need a little time for being ridiculous and having fun with each other! Shake it up, get moving and have fun!

What are some ways you and your kids like to have fun and enjoy time just being silly together?

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Gender Reveal Announcement // He or She?

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Our family is expecting another baby this coming January! With little sis’s birthday January 25th and big sis’s birthday February 1st, we have managed to ensure that we’ll always be busy that time of year!

With Gracie we found out as soon as we could whether we would be having a boy or girl and shared it with the world right away! We called parents and friends and posted it on facebook the minute we were able. We couldn’t contain our excitement! We did manage to keep her name a surprise! With Lillian, we decided that we would wait to find out whether we were having a boy or girl until the birth. I for some reason expected a boy, but out came sweet Lillian, another girl! With this next baby we thought it would be fun to find out the gender. The girls will be close to turning three and five when the baby arrives, and we knew it would be fun for them to be able to plan for whatever gender this baby would be. They have actually been rooting for a baby brother. They figure that we already have girls, so we must need a boy!

To get them in on the gender reveal I gave them each a sucker, smartly ensuring success with the whole cooperation in the picture taking department! I told them to hide them in their mouths for a few pictures and then finally hold them out and show me the color! Psst…I’ll let you in on a little secret…I didn’t actually have the right color of sucker, so I had to do a little editing!

Enjoy our gender reveal photos!

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And the verdict is a….wait for it…

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BOY!!!

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I also made them some “books” so they could study up on having a little brother in the house come January.

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It’s an intense read, but I think they’ll make it!

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So there you have it, our gender reveal photos. What do you think about gender reveals? Love ’em, hate ’em? Do you like to wait until the baby is born, or are you too impatient like I have been 2/3 times! Whichever route you choose, I hope you enjoyed following along with our reveal!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Back to School // Capturing Memories

After an unintentional school break thanks to trimester #1 with baby #3, (that thankfully could be called summer break), the home school year has officially started up again! To start of the school year I like to write a little bit about the girls, take a picture, and then be able to compare that to the year before. It’s crazy to see how much the girls have each grown! Here are this year’s first day of school photos and facts.

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Here are last years photos and facts!

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So mamas, do you take first day of school pictures? Are you always shocked by how much they have grown and changed in the last year? Does this get easier!?

I’d encourage you to keep snapping those pictures on the first day of school. It doesn’t have to be perfect, mine aren’t! But it will show you how much they have grown and create wonderful memories to treasure. Write down a few facts about your child and make sure to save it some place you can remember to look at and compare each year.

As you’re starting your new school year wherever that may be, here’s a reminder to lean into Christ. I recently had a post published on Her View From Home. If you could check it out, read, and share if you feel led, I would be so grateful!

Wishing you a happy start to the school year, mamas!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Thoughts on My Anniversary // Tips on Doing Life Together

This week marks nine years of marriage for Dustin and I. That’s right, our nine year anniversary. Getting married at nineteen makes those anniversaries get close to the double digits before you know it! Nine years has brought a lot of change, growth, good memories, and of course the normal difficulties that come with doing life beside your best friend day in and day out. We’ve finished college, moved back to Ohio, bought a house, found jobs, had two adorable girls, moved to Africa, fostered another sweet girl and so much more in the in between moments of daily life.

The day to day moments seem to be the time where we learn the most. Those are the moments where we dig in deep and choose love and patience in our home. Where we work to always be honest with one another and apologize when we know we’ve made a mistake. Trust me, I make a lot of mistakes. But in nine years of marriage, I think I’ve gained a little wisdom along the way as well.

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  1. Keep God number one- You can’t have a strong marriage if you are trying to put your spouse or something else above God. It is important that you both turn to God together and look to Him to lead and guide you. It can be all too easy to place your faith and trust in the person you love and who is physically right there beside you, but in putting God number one you place your marriage and your spouse in His hands and let Him take the lead.
  2. Keep communicating honestly and openly-This is something we feel has always been a strong point in our marriage and helps us avoid a lot of unwanted and unnecessary strife. It’s important to let each other know how you are feeling. Of course it’s also important to do this in a respectful and loving way! If you keep the doors of communication open instead of holding everything in side, it won’t unexpectedly come out all at once over something not even that important! Communication is key!
  3. Make time for each other-Once kids come into the picture this one can be hard. Even if you are together in your home in the evening, are you actually spending time with each other? Or are you each doing your own thing trying to get things done while the kids are in bed? Of course you need time to yourself and time to get things done, but it’s also important to set aside time for each other. Time to connect, talk, plan and dream. Just talking together can inspire things you both want to work on or achieve in your marriage and your family.
  4. Encourage and support each other-It means a lot to have your spouse encourage you and support you. To have your best friend in your corner can help give you a greater confidence and allow you to step out of your comfort zone.
  5. Parent as a united front-Having kiddos definitely adds a whole new element, or several elements, to marriage! It’s important that you are both on the same page when it comes to parenting, for your kid’s sake, and for your marriage’s sake. Make sure you talk about things ahead of time and stick together when it comes to parenting, especially on issues surrounding discipline and boundaries.

So as we approach our nine year anniversary, these are a few grains of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but we know that if we continue to pursue God’s heart and will, we can lovingly pursue each other and strengthening our marriage year by year. 

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Fruit of the Spirit // Gentleness

Gentleness jumps to the front of my mind as I imagine Jesus beckoning the little children to come to Him. You can just picture the children joyfully running to Him. No fear or shame as He gently places them in His lap and lets them know how much they are loved.

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Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. When I first think of gentleness it’s easy for me to associate gentleness with never taking a firm stand and allowing things to happen that we don’t want to happen just because we don’t want to ruffle feathers. In parenting, we may think that to be gentle we have to give in. We have to say yes and deal with the situation sweetly in order to not raise our voice and start a fight.

Jesus shows us how gentleness can be loving yet firm. We can still parent our children with a spirit of gentleness and remain firm in the boundaries that we guide our children with.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.

2 TIMOTHY 2:24-26a

How do we as parents allow this fruit to enter into our every day lives? We first, of course, have to ask the Spirit to enter into our lives and allow this fruit to grow and flourish. Then we must realize that gentleness does not mean always saying yes. As parents we can say no in love. We can gently correct our children and show them the importance of repentance, and then following, the importance of forgiveness. We can gently show them that we all make mistakes. We can acknowledge when we ourselves make mistakes and ask for their forgiveness. We can set boundaries for their safety and their growth and gently, but firmly hold to these. We can invite Jesus’s spirit of gentleness into our homes and our parenting and see that a spirit of boldness and gentleness can go hand in hand.

Let’s invite the Spirit in to work in our homes today and each day after. Let His gentleness reign in our teachings and our interactions and flourish in our families.

BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL; AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. GALATIANS 5: 22-23

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Joy over Grumbles // Making the Choice

“I’m so filled with joy and thankfulness that my children are waking me up super early and have been persistently and consistently sharing how hungry they are and that they are basically going to starve if I don’t get up and feed them right now!”

Those are NOT usually my first thoughts each morning.

With babe number three cooking and the increased fatigue and trouble sleeping that accompanies growing a human, my go to morning attitude is not always one of joy and thankfulness.

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There are definitely seasons that are harder than others. Seasons where it is hard to choose joy. Seasons where it seems easier to complain and check off the things that would seemingly allow you to have more joy…if only.

But if I take the time to really choose joy, there’s an awful lot of it. When I take the time to actually give thanks for the good, good gifts that Jesus has given me, the joy is evidently abundant and lovely.

So here it is. Today I’m choosing joy and thankfulness. I’m going to make a few mistakes. I’m going to grumble or sigh, but I’m going to keep making the choice that finds joy in God’s good gifts.

A growing baby//Healthy girls with healthy appetites//A husband that wakes up early and makes pancakes//Morning cuddles//Family time//Rainy nights//Sunny mornings//Nap time//Colorful flowers//Watching imaginations at play

How about you? What are you thankful today? How are you going to CHOOSE joy?

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Be There // Hope in Christ Through Change

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Change can be hard. Change can be good. In the past few years our family has gone through a lot of changes. We moved to Africa, starting a new chapter. We started fostering a four month old that we knew would someday return to her family. We now are anticipating the change of a new baby entering our lives sometime in January 2017!

Sometimes we put all our hope in change. We think that once this change takes place things will be better.

Or maybe we fear the change. We let the worries of the unknown overtake our thoughts and control our actions.

Our hope should never be in change, and worry should not dictate our lives. Our hope is in Christ alone and because of this we need not fear what is to come.

the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.Psalm 147:11

 

In the days that seem mundane with caring for littles, washing dishes, folding clothes, playing referee, and taking care of all the seemingly little things of life, change can be the idol of our days. We seek the change that we all too quickly will miss. In these days of caring for littles wherever you are, be there. Don’t place your hope in the change to come. Don’t let the worries of change guide you. Be where you are and place your hope in the One who is orchestrating your days and the changes in your life and working them out for good.

He is the one who longs you to draw close to Him and beckons you to let Him lead through the changes.

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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