Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas without you...

Dear Kenzi,
When we started this process I was sure you would be home by now. But, nothing is certain with adoption and often times procedures change and timelines increase. So I had settled on just finding out just exactly who you are. I had imagined seeing your little picture just in time for Christmas. However, I am reminded once again that God's plans are not my plans and that His ways will trump mine every time.
Do not be mistaken sweet girl...we are still trusting God to finish this work He has begun. We still pray for you each night and imagine what life will be like with you here! Your brothers have already picked out a spot for you in the car and at the table. They have accepted the fact that we will need some girl toys and they even call the bedroom where you will sleep "Kenzi's room"! God is preparing our hearts and our home for you baby girl. I know that He is preparing you and your heart as well. Hopefully you have lots of little rowdy boys around you in the babies home... Heaven knows you will need to some preparing before becoming an official member of the K-crew!
We are praying for you our sweet daughter to be...praying that someone is whispering of Jesus' love and that he came just for you on this day so long ago. And we are praying that next Christmas you will be right here with us...pilled up the car looking at lights on Christmas eve, making sweet nativity crafts, and enjoying the sweet treats of the season! We are waiting with expectancy Kenzi Reigh!

Merry Christmas little one!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Adventures in Advent

We are continuing to enjoy our time counting down to birth of Jesus!

I am so glad that we chose to persevere even ÿwhen it didn't feel like they were "getting it"!

Karter can now tell me major parts of the story and he is totally entralled every time he sees a nativity scene.

Kolson is remembering the characters and lives to say "Do not be afraid"!

Sweet Kaden is taking it all in and is quick to remind me that it is time for the countdown each night!

We have continued with the story by adding Mary's visit to Elizabeth, and her song to the Lord! They absolutely loved popping the bubble we had used for Zachariah's mouth after John was born and good ole Zach was able to speak again. We had a great time singing our own songs of praise while we decorated our CDs to represent Mary's song.
We also learned that Zachariah prophesied that Jesus would one day be like the sun. We made some beautiful sparkly suns for this.
Next we learned about Joseph. He too was visited by an angel and like Mary he chose to believe and obeyed right away (totally took advantage of that teachable moment)!!!
Finally tonight we talked the name that the angel told Joseph to name the baby...the name of Jesus!
I am excited to continue this countdown and hopefully keep our hearts and focused on Jesus this season!
Here are some pictures of our fun and ornaments...

Monday, December 5, 2011

The countdown continues...

We are continuing our countdown to Jesus' birth and we have had such fun! I will be reading and art projects with 3 kiddos-2 of them under age 4- is not easy. At least once every night I have been tempted to say..."just forget it"! I have wondered if it is even making a difference, if they are even learning anything. But then I remember something I read last week...sometimes God just wants us to show up! We may not have a lot to offer or have it all together but if we will just show up He can take care of multiplying our loaves and fish!

So we will continue our countdown we will continue to show up and read God's word and let Him take care of the rest.

We spent the last 3 nights learning about Zachariah, Gabrial, and Mary. My boys loved how we used a bubble for Zachariah's mouth since he was unable to talk! They also loved pretending like they couldn't talk (unfortunately that only lasted about a minute:). I also loved the contrast between Zachariah and Mary...while Zachariah doubted Gabriel's message and what the Lord could do, Mary was quick to believe and offer her life fully to the plans of the Lord. What a sweet reminder to us!

Here are a few pictures of the fun we have been having...
I have had to let go of all my perfectionist ideas of how their crafts should look! None them are perfect but they all turned out exactly how each boy wanted them!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Prince of Peace...

And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tonight we celebrated Jesus...our Prince of Peace by making crown ornaments!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Begins...

I cannot believe it is already December 1st!   Each year we try to use the time leading up to Christmas to help ourselves and our children remember what Christmas is really all about.  It is so easy to get caught up in all the business of this season and miss the true reason for the season!

This year we have chosen to use a new e-book for our Advent Celebration...
Truth is in the Tinsel is an easy to follow guide that gives you a section of scripture to read each day and a simple ornament that can be made to go with that scripture. 

To kick off our celebration we had Christmas Soup (aka zucchini soup) while listening to Christmas music!  After dinner we worked together to put up the Christmas tree.
I will admit that it doesn't look exactly how it would if I would have done it on my own but I loved the excitement and thrill in the boys eyes as they hung the ornaments and beads on the tree.  Yes, there were a few ornaments  that broke and there were a few tears (let's just be real here :) but all together it was so fun to work together.

After we were finished with the Christmas Tree we did our first Advent activity. 

Kaden and I put together this count down tree using the printables made by mama Jenn.   Each circle has a clue that leads the kids to a place in the house were they find another clue about what we will study for the night. 

The boys loved finding tonight's clue...a candle, because we talked about light tonight.

After we finished our reading we worked together to make this ornament...
 It didn't take long and no, they did not sit perfectly still through the whole bible reading but I am hoping that they will remember that we were a people walking in great darkness until Jesus...the LIGHT was sent!!

Most fun wedding...EVER!!!

So Britany and Gene get the award for most fun wedding EVER!     They went above and beyond and even made the week before the wedding so special!  They provided us with all kinds of fun including a trip to Ripley's Wonder Works (I totally recommend this place it was so fun for the kids and the adults)!   All of the girls were treated to a massage and pedicures as well!

We also got to  ride to the wedding in a huge hummer limo...all of the kiddos had such a great time taking a little spin in the limo!

The wedding itself was beautiful!  It was my first time to be at a beach wedding and I can certainly see why people get married on the was perfect!  Believe it or not the kids actually walked down the aisle like they were supposed to and actually did ok during the ceremony...well except when Kolson and Pierce thought it would be fun to throw sand on the groom during the vows!:)

The reception was by far the most fun!!  Britany thought of every detail and went out of her way to make it such a fun night for all of the kids.  There was a candy bar with all kinds of candy to chose from.  There was a hot chocolate bar with every type of marshmallow you can image.  She even hired someone from the local zoo to bring out the parrots.  Each of the kiddos got to have their picture taken with a bird on their shoulder!

By far the hit of the night was the kids table that was just loaded with different dress up items for the kids to play with!  There was even a little camera set up for them to take their pictures!  While all of the kiddos thought this was fun it was Karter who loved it the most (imagine that...ha)!
Congrats Britany and Gene!  Thanks for a great week and for making your wedding such a fun experience for all of us!  We love you and wish you all the best as you grow in love!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November at the beach!!

So I will be honest...I did not have the best attitude about going to Florida in November.  Yes, I was excited that Nathan's sister, Britany, was getting married...but still Florida in November???

Despite my bad attitude God showed up (why should that surprise  me...He is such a great God) and allowed us to have one of the best weeks we have ever had!  We didn't even know how bad we needed a vacation until it was over and we realized just what a blessing the week had been!  My only regret it that I didn't bring my camera so I don't have many pictures.  However, I have a feeling this trip won't be one that we quickly forget!

We started our trip on Monday with a 13 hour drive...much to our delight the boys did a great job and we all made it there without any major melt downs ( a true miracle)!

We were blessed with the opportunity to stay is a beautiful 2 bedroom condo right across from the beach (Thanks Britany, Gene, and big Gene)!  The view was wonderful and they even had a heated pool and hot tub that we enjoyed...yes, swimming at Thanksgiving!! We even made it out to the beach a few times.  The water was FREEZING but the boys didn't seem to mind!:)

One of the greatest things about being in Florida is that we were not alone!  All of Nathan's family was there and that meant 8 of the 11 grand kids were all together!  I have never had so much fun just watching kids play!  They were constantly going from condo to condo to play with one another.  There is just something about watching cousins play together.  I am truly sad that my boys don't get the chance to be with their cousins more often!

Thanksgiving was a wonderful day!  Everyone worked together to put together a feast and we all met in our condo for a great lunch and the best fellowship!  It made me realize that you don't have to have a big house or everything perfect to host people and have a great time.  We may have been short on space but we were big on food, laughs, and fun!:)

We decided to take all of the kids to the beach after lunch...we were just going to let them run and look for can guess how long that lasted!:)

By the time we left the beach they were all soaked from head to toe and they were completely freezing!  I am sure the people we saw on the way back thought we had tortured our children or something! 

Nathan's sisters are so much fun and I always enjoy watching them and Nathan all together!  They make each other laugh and pick on one another any chance they get!  It was really one of the most fun weeks we have ever had!

Next up...the wedding!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Behind the scenes...

I am married to a wonderful man... who happens to be a pastor. 

That means there are usually people watching. 

But most of the time people only get to see the outside...the bright and shiny on Sunday mornings. 

What most people don't get to see is the man that my husband is when he is off the stage and outside of the church. 

The truth is... he is an amazing pastor and preacher but it is who is he is on Monday through Saturday that amazes me most.

I wish that others could see the way he intercedes for our people who are in need.  Or the way he gets in "the zone" on Saturday nights to make sure he is ready for Sunday.  I wish people could hear his prayers on Sunday mornings before he leaves the has always been one of my favorite things about Nathan...he prays with such passion, such faith, and complete humbleness.  He takes so seriously the calling God has placed on his life to Shepard the people here.  He is constantly striving to better himself and spends countless hours on his knees seeking God's will for this place.

I am so proud of the way that my hubby is always encouraging others.  He is continually checking on other ministry friends and encouraging them as they continue to do God's work.  He is such an example to me of what it means to really invest in others.

His determination and hard work when it comes to meeting his goals has always been an inspiration to me (aka the starter...not the finisher). 

In the last year alone he trained for and finished a half marathon in 15 minutes less than his goal time.

He has always desired to write a book and this year a study guide that he wrote was published in a book!

It has been his life long dream to get his doctorate by 30.  This year he turned 30 and finished his doctorate...what you may not know is that he finished with a 4.0 and received a high distinction with his degree!

And he isn't stopping spite of aches and pains he is training for a full marathon and eventually a 100 mile bike ride.  He is continuing to grow in wisdom and knowledge as he has made it a goal to continue reading and learning even though he is done with school.
we were missing Karty on Halloween...not the same without our little red head!

What may be one of the things I love the most about him is the way that he loves our boys.  I love that he can come home and put aside all of the seriousness of the day and get on the floor for a wrestling match.  I love the crazy songs he makes up and the way the boys light up when he walks through the door.  One of my favorite things is to hear him praying with boys at night...he is teaching them to pray with passion and excitement.
 not may favorite picture of me but look how great my man looks...all that hard work is paying off!!

 Perhaps what gets to me the most is the way he loves me.  It is through his love for me that  I have come to understand the way that Jesus loves me.  On my worst days...the days when I decide to take everything out on him and to blame him for everything crazy in my life he still draws close to my side.  The fact that he would love me and be kind to me on the days when I do everything I can to push him away is such a testimony of the love of God that lives in his heart.  Trust me...I can be spiteful, and moody, and just plain ugly and my husband continues to pursue me and remind me of his love for me.  He has truly been the hands and feet of Jesus to me, reminding me that Jesus loves me in spite of me most days.  Jesus loves me when I am unlovely just the way my sweet husband has so many times.  I love that Nathan laughs with me and that he talks with me even when it is about something that doesn't really interest him!  He is the love of my life and continually makes me better.  I can't believe it has been almost 10 years!!   

I love you so much Nathan!  I am so proud of you and can't wait to see what else God has planned for our crazy life together!  You are an amazing husband, father, pastor, and friend!  I am blessed to call you mine!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Go Ninjas!!!

Kaden finished his 2nd soccer season this weekend. He is quite the little soccer player...we had such a great time watching him play. I am thankful that it is still more about having fun and learning the game...I know it won't be long before it starts to get serious!:)

What made this season even more fun was that he got to play with 2 of his best buddies, Austin and Hunter. I love watching these guys play and have fun together!

A few pictures...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A family thing...

Lot's of people have asked how our boys feel about us adopting...I think Kaden's picture from church tonight says it all!

This family is believing God for BIG things...including Him bringing a sister all the way from across the world!
the red line above our heads is actually an arrow coming from Africa to our house!!  And did you notice the sweet pink bows in the hair of the little girl I am holding!!  Yes...this one is going in a frame!:)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The wait goes on...

We are still here.  Still waiting on "the call" about our sweet little girl.  With that call will come a face to put with a name, an age, a personality, a story.  It is a day we are anticipating with much joy and hope.  Recently we spoke with our agency and they feel certain that "the call" will happen sometime after the first of the new year.
Most people are wondering why?  Why does this process take so long when there are so many children in need.  While I can't answer all of the questions and even have some myself...I do know that there are steps and a process to go through that does it's best to ensure that children who are truly in need are able to find families who are suitable and safe.  Part of the reason our particular wait is taking so long is because there is a rule in the country we are adopting from that states children must be in an orphanage/babies home for at least 6 months before they are eligible for international adoption.  During those 6 months the babies home is gathering the child's paper work and doing everything in their power to make sure there are no other family members who are able and willing to care for that particular child.

I know all the right answers...I know that God is in control...I know that His timing is perfect...I know that He makes all things (even waiting) beautiful in His time...I know that He already knows where our daughter is, He knows her smile and her heart...none of this is a mystery to Him.  I  know that He holds all things together and I know that waiting on His perfect timing is what I am called to do.  But the truth is I am human and patience is of Him, not of me.  I am continually reminding myself that it is Him and Him alone who can keep my heart in perfect peace.  I pray that we will honor Him in this time of waiting.  I pray that we will take this time to love on our sweet boys and enjoy our moments together as a family of 5.  I am praying that He makes this time into something beautiful!!

I am also praying for our daughter.  A piece of my heart will be missing until she is home.  I am praying that God sends people to hold her, to love her, and whisper His wonders to her.  Much like the Lord sent us this summer to love on the children of Uganda I am praying that God will send others to love on my sweet girl until the time comes when we can hold her in our arms.

We already love you sweet girl...and we pray for you always...can't wait to hold you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Missing you...

Dear Karty,
I know that you are having the best time with Nonnie and Papaw this week! I know that it is rare for you to get one on one time with them and that the past few days have been a special time. I know that you loved Halloween and you especially loved having Papaw just take you where ever you wanted to go instead of having to wait for your brothers like you would have to here. Yes, I know that you are having a blast and loving all the special attention...but what I know most of all is that we miss you!
While I will admit that the house has been a little quieter and perhaps a little neater, it just isn't the same without you!
We all miss your excitement and passion and the way you make us laugh! I miss your good mornings and your big bear hugs! I miss your sweet smile and the way you say " I wabe you"!
You are loved our little red headed hurry home ninja Karty!!