Saturday, April 14, 2012

More house...

So I have finally gotten around to taking pictures of the remaining rooms to share with you...along with a few fun finds that we have snagged.  Gosh, who knew setting up house could be so much fun!  Especially when you love old things most consider junk (it would stink if my taste had higher price tags)!
First off, I removed the cabinet doors in front of my sink and had a cute little linen curtain made on etsy.  Love the way it turned out.  The cabinet doors will probably go back on as soon as Brooks is mobile until he can understand not to get in there!

Spring mantle with fun new vintage windows.  LOVE the blue paint on the tall one.  I also made rag garland out of fun spring fabric but this was an earlier pic and I am too lazy to download a new one!

The large 28 is from an old printing press.  This is one of my favorite things ever.  It is Bo's birthday and I just love the age of it.  I am still on the lookout for a 7 and 8 for Abby Kate and Brooks' birthdays.  And the washboards were purchases we made recently too that I love.

Adore this lamp I found at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago.  I am super struggling with styling this buffet.  My BFF interior designer may be coming by this weekend and I am going to have to pick her brain!  I want fun and unusual and of course vintage but have NO vision.  It is one of the only things left in the house to decorate!

Not sure if I had a good pic of these in the first house post but found these antique shutters on a trip to the lake last summer and though I had NO clue where I would put them, I LOVED the color, age, etc...and am SO SO glad I purchased them.  They are truly one of my favorite things in our home!

Abby Kate's room.




I know the lighting is terrible in this one.  Just so you can see the shape and she LOVES the chandy in her dormer!  I am about to repaint the pale pink chairs around her little table.  The table and 2 of the chairs were mine when I was a little girl.  



This is the play area at the top of the stairs outside of the kids bedrooms.  It was supposed to be a narrow hallway and am so thankful and the backside was supposed to overlook the living room.  We are SO SO glad we floored this.  It makes an EXCELLENT play space.  We spend hours up here.  


Kids bath

Mirrors are from Wisteria, cheap galvanized outdoor lights from Home Depot, rug is from Urban Outfitters and shower curtain from West Elm.


This dormer was also supposed to not be finished but I am so glad we went ahead and floored it too.  This ledge with hooks we had in our entry over an old church pew in our old house and I love that it fits perfectly here. I love the space it gives and we use the changing table every night after baths!


Bo's room.  This room is about to get a huge makeover once Brooks moves in!  I have so many ideas and am excited to see it finished!  Think vintage in every way!


Again horrible lighting!  Sorry!

LOVE this ceiling fan in their room!

School area.  Wanting to do something fun on this window some day.

Finally have rocking chairs on the porch!  My sweet parents and brother and SIL got them for us for our birthdays!  AMAZING gift!

Bobby made/hung this tire swing and it is now my kids 2nd favorite place in the world (first being our trampoline!)

We FINALLY finished the chicken wire for our upper cabinets.  Though it isn't a super dramatic change, I LOVE that it is finished and love the final result.  SO glad when things turn out how you imagine in your head!

And another fav, finally ordered these canvases of my babies from Mpix during one of their sales and ordered the subway art canvas from RedLetter Words that I have wanted for ages.  LOVE this as well.  LOVE seeing my babies in the one place in the house I spend the majority of my time!
My next project is our bedroom.  We have matching furniture that is about to get a huge makeover with Annie Sloan chalk paint (in different colors) and new hardware.  I would love to sell our headboard and footboard and get an iron bed (eyeing the coleman bed from Pottery Barn but would have to sell our bed for around that price).   A few new vintage finds for the walls and new/old quilt for the bed and should be finished!
Thanks for looking friends.  I would still LOVE for you to come visit any time!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Adoption...

For years, adoption has been weighty in my heart.  I had always thought in the back of my mind how much I would love to adopt.  And after struggling for two long years with secondary infertility, I began to truly explore what adoption would look like for our family.  We joined an adoption community group at our church full of precious couples that had or were praying about adopting.  We were deeply blessed to be part of a church at that time in our lives that was PASSIONATE about adoption.  It was the norm for families to be completed through adoption and the faces part of different families often did not match, but were deeply, poignantly beautiful.  Our pastor launched a series about adoption right at Easter 3 years ago, deeply challenging and exciting our hearts.  One of the many things that stood out to me was him teaching the verse, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" James 1:27.  Somehow, smack in the middle of my favorite book of the Bible, a verse sat that I had never unpacked, studied or mediated upon.  I heard it and sat slack-jawed and humbled.  It resonated with me moment by moment, week by week for years.  Actually still does.  How had I missed this?  
Now, here we sit, two kids post the fertility struggle and most assuredly finished in terms of bearing biological children.  However my heart still begs the question, what does He want me to do with this verse?  What does it mean for OUR family?  Our pastor here has been teaching on adoption the past several weeks and it has revived a passion, and excitement in my heart for the fatherless.  I have had many situations hit me in the face lately regarding families neglecting and/or abusing their children in horrific ways.  And our foster care is in crisis.  These precious children that are suffering at the hands of the ones they are supposed to be able to trust above any other are now sleeping on cots in office conference rooms.  My heart just aches and I beg God to show me what He wants us to do.  I, like so many other parents, fear bringing wounds that some of these children bear into our home and exposing my children to horror children should not know.  Any child.  However, if we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ, He was NOTHING, if not messy.  I read this post on the blog, Foster Hope Project and it has haunted me since...
"I wonder why, in a country of thousands of churches, of millions of homes with a spare bedroom and an extra car seat, why foster kids sleep on an air mattress in a county office.  Why people who label themselves as Christians don’t see the face of Christ himself  in the laughter and the tears of these children.  Who will YOU see?  And what will YOU do about it?"
And truly, my apathy is sickening.  Why is it my heart is stirred time and time again and I do nothing?  Why is it that I can make a thousand lame excuses and sit on the sidelines?  I am so, so tired of doing nothing.  Here I am, a mostly stay-at-home Mom.  I homeschool.  I teach a couple of classes.  But mostly, I am home with my babies.  Can I minister to the masses at this stage in my life?  Sure.  But would it be in the best interest of my kids?  Absolutely not.  I believe so very passionately, there is NO WHERE, I mean NO WHERE else I am called to be right now.  I know my children are my single greatest ministry.  Their discipleship and coming to Christ means more than anything else.  Period.  But I also ask, how hard would it be to add another to the mix?  I don't work full-time.  I don't have a million commitments or activities due to my commitment AT home right now.  So what is my excuse?
About 3 weeks ago, I was putting Abby Kate to bed and we had already read, prayed and talked a while.  Then she said something that caused me to suck in my breath and for my body to instantly be covered in cold chills...
"Momma, do you know I am going to have a sister someday?"
Me:  "No baby.  We are finished.  God gave you two precious brothers who adore you!"
AK:  "No Momma.  I am going to have a sister you all will adopt!  And I will bring her home and show her our trampoline, and our room, and our toys!  (now she is crying) She is going to love it SO much Momma!"
Me: (crying too)  "Why are you crying?"
AK:  "They are happy tears Momma."
And then I was struck in the stomach again.  Breathless.  Questioning.  And now intensely praying.  I was told Monday by a sweet student of mine of her grandchildren she took custody of over the weekend.  She picked them up after their Momma left them.  Their Daddy tried to kill himself and was in the hospital.  And she picked them up and they had no diapers,  clothes, blankets, burp rags and...formula.  The 5 month old had no formula...and when she asked what she had fed him, the Mom said, "Just put some kool-aid in a bottle.  He will be fine."  And I just wept.  So many children suffering.  Hungry.  Wet.  Untouched.  Unloved.  Neglected.  
I am tired of doing nothing...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Homeschooling....

Many of you probably did not know we had homeschooled Abby Kate this year.  It was kind of a drawn out decision and then with all the chaos of our lives last fall, I just didn't talk about it much.  But I have been thinking and praying about it so much lately, I thought I would share my thoughts, the process of our decision and all the things I have learned this year...
After moving from the best school district in our state back to my hometown, I had no qualms about the school decision.  I know most of the teachers and administration and knew Abby Kate would be loved on and looked after, as well as receive a great education.  However, I also knew by the end of the first week, the majority of her innocence, that which we have worked so hard to protect up to this point, would be gone.  Something we could never, ever get back.  If you had told me 10, heck, even 5 years ago I would homeschool, I would have literally laughed out loud.  Even the summer before Abby Kate was to start school, I would have not considered it.  However, with a husband in law enforcement and the hard reality of a culture that is promoting truths so far from the Word of God, I just knew in my heart my sweet little five year old was not ready.  Period.  I know she will enter the world at some point, we just wanted her armed with truth and discernment.  I wanted her to have wisdom and to have undivided time for us to invest in her a value system of worth.  Daily.  Moment by moment. "Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."  Deut. 6:7
So fast forward to now...
I cannot tell you how much the decision blessed our family.  I spent a lot of time in the fall constantly feeling like I was failing.  After reading so much about homeschooling, it seems to be a common thread homeschooling parents feel.  However, not unique to homeschooling parents but one teachers feel as well.  Our fall was jammed packed with a new baby, a huge move, etc...but we still spent time doing school and having so much fun learning.  So I decided to break down my greatest joys of homeschooling and why we have decided to stick with it.  We have agreed to pray each year seeking God's direction for the school situation with EACH of our children, and be completely open to what He has in store for each of them each year.
1.  Not missing a thing...I would say the thing that I have loved the most about homeschooling is not missing a thing in Abby Kate's life.  I cannot imagine her being away 90% of her day, 5 days a week.  I do believe God's purpose is to raise and equip them to leave, however as a culture, I believe we are forcing our children out the door way too early.  
2.  Seeing her continue building precious, priceless relationships with her brothers...  Part of the loss of innocence by going to school, I believe, it the loss of being surrounded with all age groups.  By placing 18-25 five year olds in one classroom for 7 hours a day is limiting to say the least.  It usually results in the child coming home and thinking their younger siblings aren't as fun or of value because the do not act and think like their friends at school.  I love that Abby Kate still considers Bo, her two year old brother, her best friend.  Yes, I am VERY proactive in getting her together with children her age, almost on a daily basis, but continue to watch and reinforce that her brothers will be friends for LIFE.  And her behavior shows she believes this...and it makes my heart so, so happy.
3.  Having a front row seat to watch her learn and truly comprehend new concepts...This year, probably more than any other we will have, has been fascinating for me to watch.  Though her Daddy has a degree in elementary education, I have not had an opportunity to see this age group truly learning.  Watching her learn to read, write, get numbers, fractions, etc...has just blessed my heart so much.  It is a feeling like none other to see the light come on and for her to truly GET something I have taught her.
4.  Being able to truly disciple my daughter...Growing up in a traditional, baptist church, I always thought evangelism was going door to door and handing out tracts.  I have never heard the term discipleship and had no idea what that type of ministry was or looked like.  But after attending college ministries that were discipleship based, I found my passion.  I later went on staff full-time with a discipleship ministry and found the one thing I could do in this life that every, single time I felt God's pleasure.  It was as if, for the first time, the light went on and I realized relational ministry leads people to Jesus just as the Roman Road tract would.  And it made me so, so happy.  And free.  I love that Paul says in 1 Cor. "Follow me, as I follow Christ."  Which is such a sweet, simple definition of evangelism.  It is exactly what we are called to do each day with our children.  Show them Jesus through an intentional life.  And I love that I am still getting to do this full-time, all day, every day.  (With plenty of need for grace and asking forgiveness EACH DAY...from both my kids and my Savior)
5.  Being able to still be the guardian of her gate...  I love that we still get to guard her heart and mind.  I love that we can stand at the gate and let the things through that we have prayed over and deemed worthy to pass through.  Yes, things get by.  Yes, we won't always be able to do this fully, though as long as they are at home, I believe we are called to on some level.  Especially Daddys.  But I love getting to do this for my six year old.  Just an example....over Christmas, we went on a family date to eat and then to the movies.  I have done my research on the movies showing and picked one I thought would be most appropriate.  Then I bought her the cd for her stocking.  It was the kids version of several VERY adult songs.  And she loved it.  She literally had it playing almost all the time in her room.  Until we had a few things arise that I knew needed to be addressed in her heart.  And I prayed and God revealed I needed to take that cd away.  I was dreading it so.  SO God put it in my heart to burn her a cd with all my favorite Christian songs on it.  I made her a special little cover that had the verse, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."  Luke 6:45  And she was thrilled.  She now plays that cd as much or more than the old one and she is filling her heart with GOOD things.  Not to mention I had to ask her forgiveness for letting something through the gate that was not the best for her.
6.  Love that most days, SHE initiates learning...I really struggled through the fall feeling like we weren't spending enough time on school.  We had about 15 minutes of sit down learn time and after research and reflection, so much of a traditional school day is filled with play learning, standing in line, etc...and so I realized we were doing just fine.  Then a step further, I realized one day while she and I were laying on the trampoline during naptime, we heard a woodpecker.  She wanted to know all about it so we went inside and read about woodpeckers.  She learned the types we have here and all about there eating, habits, habitats, etc...and I realized through how interested she was and how she has shared the information she has learned several times that INITIATED learning sticks so much better than required memorization.  
7.  Though this has been said countless times by other homeschooling parents and research, I love that she is getting a personalized education with her teacher's undivided attention.  Very simply, this is probably one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling.  Period.  There is no one on earth that is going to care more or desire to invest more in my own child than me.  Teachers have the incredibly hard job of having to attempt this with 20+ students.  Cannot imagine.  We still pray so hard for them and the incredible task they have before them. 
8.  Love that she is learning daily responsibilities of the home...One thing that a sweet friend that homeschools shared with me long before I decided to was that she loved that education also incorporated the sweet tasks of daily home life.  Having Abby Kate see me mother, care for the home, plan and order our days is a sweet advantage.  In a culture that is so fast, always away from the home, eating out and racing from one activity to the other, I love that she is learning the time honored privilege of motherhood.




I literally could go on and on.  Ultimately, I feel beyond blessed to be able to teach my children.  I love this aspect of our life.  We still pray and know someday, Abby Kate and our boys may be students at a school.  But right now, I love having them learning right by my side....