Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top Ten Photos of the Year

Its time to look back on the year in photos and pick the ones that stood out to me. I try to take my "gut" picks and not spend time comparing two side but side. With that method, I came up with these ten that immediately spoke to me for whatever reason.

Life is messy and hard and joyful and beautiful...I'm so thankful to be living it.

Top ten photos for 2016, in chronological order.

#1 Though the kids sometimes complain about it, walking to and from school is some of my favorite time with them.  We get to talk and pray...and cry and argue. Sometimes the mornings are particularly glorious and I'm compelled to freeze the moment in time, as I did here.

#2 It would not make me sad to live in a place with no winter. BUT, my kids get such joy from playing in the snow so that makes me like it. They are out on our little hill every chance they get, sledding, snow boarding and eating snow syrup.

#3 Hanging out in NYC pre-surgery, with this girl who has been right by my side through all the mess. She's the truest of friends and she's a warrior woman. 

Also we're hopeful that March 1 was my LAST surgery!

#4 A familiar scene over the last couple years. Me in bed while Shaun is being a superstar with life. This night the girls were in a concert at school. Avery had a meltdown about clothes. Shaun talked her through it, and eventually got her settled on a dress of mine, and with a smile.

He's an amazing husband and father and has been a rock to our family. Watching him faithfully get up each day and do what needs to be done, against all odds, has been staggering.

#5 This little team of people...we've been through a lot together. I'm so grateful God has placed us in a family.

#6 This is not a particularly memorable moment, but I just love the picture of a sweet boy and his puppy. When we got Ginger, Aiden was afraid of her but he quickly became her biggest fan and best playmate.

#7 Our oldest nephew, Jared graduated from high school. I've SO enjoyed being an auntie for 18 years and I was surprised by the great wave of emotion I felt as I watched him accept his diploma.

#8 Shaun and I spent a couple days in Vermont and did some hiking. It was good to be together and good to be feeling good.

#9 Foster care means choosing the pain of a great loss if it means a child has received the gain of a great love.

Its ludicrous to me that God chose me for the mission of foster mom....most days I feel so unqualified. Caring for these kids is putting love into action and making it an act of my will because the feelings aren't always there. Its saying yes when it would be so much easier to say no, its trusting God and understanding that he has not called us to be comfortable.

Its lots of hard, but when I look at this picture I am completely humbled that God would chose me to be mom to these boys, if only for a time.

 #10 We remodeled the dining room in late August and we've hosted countless events since such as holiday dinners and soccer parties, birthdays and anniversaries and many events in between. Its one of my life's greatest joys to have my house full of people. My prayer is that its a space where people feel welcomed and loved.

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It's about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” 
― Shauna NiequistBread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

All is grace.

Friday, December 30, 2016

More Christmas!

We had a record number of people for Christmas Day at our house...36, including a whole lotta cousins! :) My sister and her family came up from Texas so we were ALL together! We ate, we laughed, some cried, some snoozed, some dressed. We opened a few presents and then we ate and laughed some more. It was a good, good day.

Me, with all three of my siblings, Tim, Bethany and Amy.

And our boys, just five months separate the oldest from the youngest. We refer to them as The '09 Club...Aiden, Rocco, Trey, Levi...they are the best of friends.


In the evening, we transformed the dining room into a church/theater. Pastor Dad led us in communion and then we had the "talent" show, which actually had the most talent we've seen to date.

 Traditional peanut party with Uncle Peanup. :)

The big cousins...give or take a year or two, we've spent every Christmas together. So blessed.

And an awkward photo, because my sister has an amazing sense of humor. :)