Wednesday, May 31, 2017

State of the House ~ May

I kicked off May with a half marathon, held right in my town. It certainly wasn't my best time but it accurately reflected the training that I put into it. The addition of the girls has been mostly wonderful, but it has greatly shortened my "me time" in the mornings as its a 2.5 hour project to get everyone out the door for school, beginning with me driving the first kid to the bus stop at 5:30 each morning and walking the last batch at 8:00. I've always relied on that morning time and routine and its been an adjustment to have it disturbed.

Our family message center has taken on a life of its own. Color-coding is my friend. :)

The flowers and trees really showed off this spring...what a blessing to have new life!

I celebrated 23 years of marriage with this guy. My eyes begin to water involuntarily when I think about him and the love we've shared.

The year we celebrated 20 years I compiled a slideshow. I loved the song "Together" by Steven Curtis Chapman, but didn't use it because it seemed a bit dramatic for the ups and downs we'd been through. Just four months later I was diagnosed with cancer, beginning a two year journey that would challenge us and grow us in ways we couldn't have prepared for. 

Here we stand, here we are
With all our wounds and battle scars
From all the storms and all the wars we've weathered together
We had no way of knowing when
We started way back there and then
How the road would twist and turn and bend
We just knew we belonged together

We've climbed up mountains higher than
Were ever in our hopes and plans
We've held onto each other's hands
Watched miracles unfold together
And we've crawled on our hands and knees
Through valleys cold and dark and deep
Sometimes not even sure if we could make it out alive together

And if it wasn't for God's mercy and His grace
There's no way we would be standing in this place
But because He has been faithful
Every step along the way
Here we are together, together

Now here we are, alive together and we don't spend a single day taking that for granted. As Shaun says multiple times a day...I'm so thankful you're here, doing life with me.

We went to NYC on our anniversary. I had a scan in the morning and then we were free until the next morning of appointments. Shaun made all sorts of wonderful suggestions for what to do with our time together, but we ended up just spending the afternoon in our hotel room, watching a old movie on TV, commercials and all. We were so tired and battle worn and it was so great to not have to supervise, feed or taxi six children. Shaun took me out to dinner and we sat and talked for hours. My twenty-something self would not have believed that there could be love and romance in that, but seasoned, weathered love is truly where its at. 

 May was Foster Care Awareness month and for sure, we were well aware of foster care {wink}. We don't believe God has called us to a comfortable life but just to trust him. We've asked him to interrupt our plans and desires. We've asked him to "steal our show" so that he can do something far greater with our lives than we ever could.

We are decidedly imperfect and inadequate, but God just needs us to be willing. It often amuses (and puzzles!) me to think that God chose me to be a mom to many. Me, the girl who spent most of her life wanting to be a mom to NONE! But God.

I don't want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people 
to look at my life and know I couldn't be doing this by my own power.  ~Francis Chan

Or, better put:

You must serve a Risen Savior who is on a first name basis with you. ~my Uncle Lee

The days can be hard, but God's grace is all-sufficient. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Project 365, Week 22

This week held much heartache and stress and worry and questioning and hurt. At one point I even began bargaining talks with God, thinking maybe instead of doing foster care, we could sell all our worldly possessions and become missionaries to Africa. Alas, we're still here plugging along and still have all our couches. ;)

May 22
I joined Amanda's field trip to our state was interesting and we had fun hanging together. 

Amanda's favorite part was looking up at the ceiling.


The senator spent over an hour with us, answering the kids questions and just hanging. Amanda left very inspired by her.

So fun to see these kids frolicking at the park and the girls tumbling and rolling in their jumpers.

May 23
Shaun and I attended a work breakfast/meeting and then we went to foster parent appreciation luncheon with our agency.I put up with all his whining about a picture together so I could have this. ;)

May 24
I didn't take a picture this day, it was difficult.

May 25
Another hard day but I loved the simplicity of this scene (and the sweet mis-matched pjs) when I walked in the kitchen.

May 26
No picture again.

May 27
Somehow we got to the point where my girls are capable of taking care of babies. We love cousins!

May 28
Crazy kids, "helping" at the other house. We got laughing about "the raccoon story". When we lived in this house, Avery's bed was right next to the window they are in front of. When she was supposed to be sleeping, she used to look out onto the sidewalk and street to see what she could see. One time when she did that, she came face-to-face with a raccoon! Scared her senseless. :)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Project 365, Week 21

I definitely have exceeded my picture count limit, but we've had a lot going on. Some good, some not, some pictured, most not. It is hard and it is sweet and only by God's grace my heart is fuller with a fuller house. It also gets more is brutiful.

May 15
Avery's class had a class trip to an adventure park. I pulled out my winter coat to be outside with her, but despite the cold and rain, the kids had a great time.

May 16
Avery laid a blanket in the yard and we chatted for a few minutes...she's aging rapidly!

Silly boy, passing the time.

There was a new-to-us instructor at horseback riding and we really liked her, so much so that we've switched our lesson slot.

May 17
My first morning of the season out on the was lovely!!

Even though it was 90 degrees, Shaun and I spread mulch at three properties. It was nice to hang out together during the day, kidless!

May 18
Field trip #2 of the week. We went to a local farm and I thought it was pretty lame, but Aiden seemed to really enjoy it, especially hearing about planting and harvesting, which he already considers himself an expert in. :)

He wanted me to sit next to him on the bus and when we walked he would grab my hand. At lunch we sat together under the shade tree and he steered the conversation around legos and Hardy Boys and gardening and...cancer. Wow...blows me away to hear his heart and I'm glad he's still processing it. So am I!

J was selected to participate with other high school girls in a hat show fundraiser. I had low expectations, but it turned out to be a 300-person, well-run, classy event.

As the girls took turns modeling their hat, the MC read a bit of their story, their interests and about a woman in their life who inspires them.

I was amazed by the brokenness and heartache, the strength and courage.

May 19
Each year the RI National Guard puts on an airshow. This year my dad took some cousins and met up with my brother and his gang for a pre-show/practice, no crowds and front row seats. It pays to know people in high places. ;) (Thanks Elizabeth for the photos and Pop for thinking of Aiden!)

One of the kids was clearly struggling after school so I said, Come on...we're going for a walk! She did not stop talking for the 3/4 mile walk, words spilling out about her rough day. And then we arrived at the river and played with Ginger and the world was a better place.

I'm learning to slow down more, listen more, infer 'just suck it up' less. I'm horribly imperfect at it, but its important enough that I keep trying.

May 20
There was talk of prom happening and I had an inner freak out, thinking of all the not good things that could happen because we haven't had enough time to train/coach/teach/advise. So I didn't say no to prom but counteroffered with an all-expense paid day at the amusement park. They happily accepting, not at all anxious to pay a ton of money knowing that "there's always next year".

So I spent the day at the amusement park with five teens and Shaun was at the soccer field with the other three from 9:30 am to 7:30pm with baseball, soccer and comp tryouts. They laid down the seats in the Suburban and played games and hung out.

May 21
Same river, different kid needing some time.

Somehow it worked out that I got to take Avery to her morning soccer game, all alone! I set up my chair off to the side of the parent row, put in my headphones and had a very special time with God while I watched in amazement at Avery's progress and heart on a beautiful morning. It was wonderful!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Project 365, Week 20

"Be obsessively grateful."  :)

May 8
Aiden makes me laugh sometimes when he comes down stairs in the morning. He's got his too-short pants hiked up, belt cinched tight, tie askew, hair straight-out-of-bed, lookin' like he's not quite sure where he is. I love seven year-old boys! :)

May 9
Evening soccer game.

May 10
Our morning walk to school (on a day with all smiles! :)

May 11

May 12
The work continues at the other house.

 I taught J how to plant and she took it from there.

May 13
Three soccer games and a baseball game. It was our usual divide and conquer.

May 14
Mother's Day! We went out to dinner the night before and then the kids made breakfast in the morning. We went to the late service at church and then had a quiet afternoon. Ray and Quinn stopped by and Z even texted me: Happy Mother's Day! Thank you for all you've done and for all the love you have shared. Love you!

Mothering this bunch is bruitful....both brutal and beautiful. On a daily basis there is great loss and great love in our hearts and lives. Its truly baffling that God would call me to this sacred role of mother and what's clear to me is that God uses the least likely people. I'm grateful for the refining process that began twelve years ago when I became a mom.

I'm confident of this very thing...that He who has begun a good work in me will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ.

My heart is full when my table is full.