Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Tree

This is the year that this kid had a dozen and a half meltdowns.

This is the year that the three-year olds walked by themselves and not in a backpack.

This is the year that our oldest boy carried the tree back to the van all by himself. 

This is the year that it took us awhile to find that perfect tree.

This is the year that the Charmer lost his hat in the woods and the Ninja informed me that he had to pee AFTER we had put all his snow gear on. 

This is the year that Miss Shiloh slept through the hunt.

We've ventured into the woods with these lovely friends for six years now. The group changes a bit every year, but the Gaws and the Clarks have stuck together each year since we moved to our little farmhouse out in the sticks in 2010.

And this is the year that the Lord gave me joy through it all because this is the year that our tribe was, well, our tribe. And when we hunt for our tree each year with this tribe, there is exploring, and adventure, laughing and often times a good amount of crying. Someone almost always looses something and by the time we all pile back into the van there are those who have conquered and those who are disappointed and those who have tucked a dozen unspoken joy-memories into their pockets to treasure for a lifetime. We don't venture out with this crew because it's convenient and care free. We venture out because there is ALWAYS joy to be found, even in the midst of our controlled chaos.

Our oldest asked me to make a video of our hunt. So here it is... ENJOY! 

pASSWORD: christmas
mUSIC: Ragin Cajun Redneck Christmas

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving With Our Crew {Moments I Long To Remember}

15 (million) potty stops later... we made it to Aunt Kristin & Uncle Beau's for Thanksgiving.

{This picture captures my life these days... Me on the side of the road; him with his pants wrapped around his ankles.}

On Thanksgiving morning she saw me getting ready in our little condo bathroom and asked if she could wear some red lipstick and if I could curl her hair. I love that she's still in the phase of wanting to be like her Mama. 

She might only be one year old, but she didn't want to miss out on the girls getting ready. She sat at my feet and gazed up at me as I curled her sister's hair. 

Sisters watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

She got a few 20 minute naps in the entire trip, but otherwise, she kept up with the best of em. 

I just think he's handsome.

Aunt Kristin cooked an amazing dinner. 

And the men were in charge of the turkeys.

I absolutely LOVE seeing my Dad laugh. 

Tradition has it__ when the turkey hat is on your head, you get to say what you're thankful for. 

Shiloh Faithy helping Aunt Kristin set the table.

Not everyone's brother marries one of his sister's best friends. I've known this amazing woman since I was 12. Now she's been my sister for nearly 18 years. She's an incredible Mama, wife and friend and I love that we get to spend holidays together with both our crews! Thanks for today sweet sister! Thanks for the fabulous food and the all the laughter. But mostly thanks for being my friend!

This is his second piece of pie. He ate a piece of pumpkin in one chair. Then he moved to another chair and told his sister that he hadn't had any pie and he'd like a slice of apple with ice cream on top please. He's a tricky tricky white boy I tell ya__ And I love every ounce of him.

This was their indoor climbing wall. Hours of entertainment. 

Dancing in my apron with my darling.

Uncle Beau showing my Siah the ropes in turkey frying.

Her grown up side wanted to wear red lipstick and curl her hair today. But her little girl side still likes to soak up her Papa's lap.

5:30am. Hanging out in Mama and Papa's bed while the other four kids are fast ASLEEP!

Guest appearance by... Nacho Libre. 


How thankful I am to have spent Thanksgiving with this crew. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shiloh's Praise & Pie Party {Year One With Our Tiny Miracle}

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.." Ephesians 3:20

This has been my theme with this little treasure of ours. 

Her name means "abundance and this verse has been this constant voice in my mind that reminds me that no matter how inadequate I might feel sometimes, He__Is__Abundantly__Able. 

He is always abundantly able.

This treasure has kept us so close to the Lord in a million tiny ways. 
She's not a difficult child by any means, her life is simply a reminder. 
It's a reminder of His faithfulness. 
It's a reminder that He's faithful when gives
and He's faithful when He takes away.
It's a reminder that this whole crazy life is one giant gift. 

And so, for her first birthday, we wanted to celebrate her, but we also just wanted to praise HIM__ 
To lift His name HIGH.
So we had ourselves a Praise & Pie Party here on the farm.

The Cowboy and I have a handful of scriptures that we pray continually over our kids. My treasure-friend, Tara, made cards with the verses that we picked specifically for Shiloh, along with a prayer for her. 

At the party my Joey shared a bit of our journey with our kids and our heart to praise the Lord through all of it. Then each family got a card and we gathered under the leafless scrub brush, around the big table, and we read His Word, and praised His name, and THANKED Him for His faithfulness. 

There is a verse that my thoughts go to often. It's a verse that is the deepest cry of my heart and so I pray it constantly. I pray it over my kids, over myself, over those most dear to me and over those who don't yet even know Christ. 

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." {Philippians 1:20}

There was a time in my life where I struggled to read a few verses at a time because I felt they didn't apply to my life, or I didn't understand them. 

As years have passed, I have found that I can spend months, even years, pondering the tiniest portion of scripture over and over again because there are long periods of time in my life where my deepest desires are the same. In fact, Philippians 1 might be one of those portions that I soak myself in for the rest of my days.

It was no coincidence that my precious friend Libby, who also lost a little one in a similar way that we lost our boys, got the card with Philippians 1:20 on it. My heart rejoiced as she slowly read the words through her tears around that picnic table yesterday. I don't know her thoughts in that moment, but in my own heart I was thinking about the beautiful things that the Lord does in our pain. And how  it truly does take "sufficient courage" to not run from the hard in this life, but to truly trust that God is always in the business of making all things new. 

Those twenty short minutes around the table were a sweet time for my soul to savor all that the Lord's given, when He didn't have to give anything at all. 
How I LOVE that ALL truly is grace. 

{On Saturday, my Grandma and I spent the day making my Great Grandma's pie recipes; Lemon, pumpkin & apple.}

{These two are two peas in a pod.}

{All the kids wanted to "help" Shiloh open her gifts.}

This little one's life has caused me to ask myself over and over again,  "Is God really good? Always good?" Because He either is or isn't. He can't be in between. and if He is really always good, then am I willing to surrender to all that He has for me, no matter what that might be?

Her pregnancy, her birth, her first year has been the most tender season for me with the Lord. The way He's pursued me and challenged me, and strengthened me, and allowed me to break in the most fruitful of ways.

My life is crazy.
My house is full.
My days are busy.
And my mind is on constant overload.

But in the midst of it all, I am finding myself in a posture of praise__
Longing, trusting, believing that He is using my one willing and surrendered life for His glory.

Happy Birthday Joy-baby! You truly are an Abundant Gift and I've loved every second I've had with you!