Thursday, January 12, 2017

The House The Lord Built

For four years we've made a townhouse in NOVA into our home. Since moving in we've almost doubled in size as a family. This house has been a huge blessing to us and met every single one of our needs. God truly answered every prayer we had when He lead us here. But we knew this was not our forever home and about a year ago we started looking. 
Easier said than done. Up here it's not about space, it's about convenience and you pay a hefty price for it. A family of seven needs space and some practical use of square footage, not to mention some kind of outdoor yard for fast growing kids with a ton of energy. We'd either find a house with bedrooms and no yard, or find a yard with two of the bedrooms in a basement and one upstairs. 
We saw prices that made our heart stop and prices that reflected a pit that needed razing. After a year of looking and praying we started to wonder if being home owners was really what we were supposed to do. But just when we were almost ready to surrender, our home found us. Well, really God lead us right to it. The second we saw that land, a peace like no other flooded us and for the first time in our entire married lives we felt home. 
The road to starting the build process has been very much so a growing experience in faith, trust, and utter dependence on God and His perfect plan. At one point we had to completely let go of this house and walk away before God opened the door back up in a better way than we ever could have imagined! 
We've picked cabinet colors, shower tiles, carpet, and hard wood floors. We've chosen outlet locations, front door colors, and overhead lighting placement. We've made hundreds of little choices I never thought about before but we've had a blast doing it. Even with all the warnings from well meaning individuals of how this would cause disagreements and stress between Matt and I with all the decisions to make, we were a complete team and chose everything together without argument and I think we'd both say this has made us stronger and more in love than ever as we "build our house" together. 
Our lives on ten acres of pure peaceful beauty are going to be an adventure we cannot wait to begin. I'll be blogging through the entire way so one day we can look back on the incredible beginning of the "house the Lord built." 

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it.
Psalm 127:1

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Why I'm So "Not Over" 2016

I look at my Facebook feed and it's flooded with memes and statuses in which 2016 is excoriated as a villainous waste of 366 days (it was a leap year, which apparently also made it worse.) 
I've seen the phrase "I'm so over 2016" too many times to count. 
I've read over and over people's lamentations against all the past year bought their way,  claiming to be personally victimized by "2016". 
What I'm left confused and amazed by is the casual tossing in the trash of the days gifted for them to live.  
The past 366 days were indeed full of death, fear, destruction, loss, hurt, brokenness, anger, car wrecks, house fires, enemy fire, deployments, heartache, burials, financial loss, politics, and pandering.
And so was every single year before this and that is to come. We live in a fallen and broken world. And everywhere we look the days seem darker and life feels heavier. But what if we stopped looking through these fallen human eyes? 
Look instead at the past 366 days with a viewpoint gifted by our gracious Father abounding in mercy and goodness. 
I see blessings immeasurable, new life, dreams fulfilled, vacations, road trips, new trails hiked and parks explored. There was warm sunshine and clean water, changing leaves and pumpkin pie. New jobs, new clothes, groceries to satisfy bellies, and beds to sleep in. Countless souls came to Christ, people were rescued, out of disaster grew hope, and estranged families reunited. Somewhere new mother's chose life and flowers bloomed. Someone was adopted, someone was awarded, someone graduated, and someone woke up.  
That's right, you woke up. You're alive. You've been given the gift of another sunrise joining with the 366 past ones you want to execute and burn. 
All the memes and statuses of "death to 2016" only serve to devalue the incredible gift of opening your eyes, taking a breath, and beginning each of the past 366 days. You aren't guaranteed 2017 but some people seem to believe it holds the answers to all their problems. 
If you haven't learned to appreciate the year you just were gifted in the good times and the bad, how can you appreciate the days ahead, good or bad?
We've lived years of lean and loss. We've had car wrecks, leaky pipes, medical emergencies, overdue bills, and hard goodbyes. 
We've said goodbye to babies we'll never hold, we've said goodbye to friends, we've said goodbye to family, and we've said goodbye to dreams.
But I wouldn't have wished away one of those precious, God-given days for anything. Because without those years I wouldn't be who I am now. 
Without last year, last week, or even the last hour I doubt we'd appreciate the richness of the next sunrise and the life it brings. 
2016 wasn't different than any other year in the ways of life and death and hardship. But it also wasn't different than any other year in the ways of special memories, laugh out loud moments, and growing. 
Last year, this year, and next year hold no surprises for our God. He is good, all the time. 
So thankful for the gift of being alive for the past 366 days and we pray to be a good stewards of the days and years ahead God has ordained. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

30 Weeks With Cinco de Clark

How Far Along: 30 Weeks, skipped a few weeks. Mom of the year here! 
Size of Baby: 15 3/4" long and 3 lbs.  
Gender: BOY! 
Maternity Clothes: Still living in my favorite leggings, but other than that I'm still able to wear all my normal tops and empire waist dresses. 
Movement: Anytime one of the boys catches their baby brother in action and sees my stomach literally rolling like the Atlantic during hurricane season, they dub him, "The Ninja". This kid moves! All the time!
Cravings: Nothing. Unfortunately they keep having to raise my synthroid dose so it's all but killed my appetite. I literally never feel hungry so I just have to tell myself to eat when they kids say they're hungry haha! (Which for them is all the time!)  
Symptoms: Nesting combined with our impending move has been incredible! I've gone through storage closets, cabinets, boxes, and bins. I've gotten rid of and organized and I'm feeling more prepared for moving into our new home than I have with any move in the past, and we're still month away! Haha!
Best Moment of the Week: Finalizing all the details of our first home!! We cannot wait to watch our house being built from the ground up and then to move in as a family of seven to the home our incredible kids will prayerfully grow up in and make their childhood memories. Such a sweet and honored feeling to be so blessed by God with this new home!
 (I'll blog more details about it in another post :) 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Why I'll Let My Kid Get A Speeding Ticket

I recently heard of a teen who received and deserved a speeding ticket. 
Yet his Dad went and contested it for him and the kid never had to deal with the consequences of his choice to push the speed limit. 
Made me wonder what kind of childhood this kid had, but more, what kind of adult this teen would grow to become.
I don't want my son to have to be pulled over, handed a written fine, and getting a blemish on his driving record, but I do want my son to take complete ownership for his choices and actions. So if he deserves the speeding ticket, he will be paying the speeding ticket. 
But I'm not waiting for the teen years to instill this concept, that's too little too late to raise good adults. 
My kids are required to take ownership now, even Madison at 1 1/2, for their choices. 
A mark of true man or woman of honor is to show accountability and integrity. These are hard characteristics to explain and teach to young children but we start at the very basic level of apologizing. 
We don't just say, "I'm sorry," when an offense is committed. My kids go to the person and look them in the eye. They say, "I'm sorry for (fill in the blank), please forgive me." 
Having to verbalize exactly what they did towards the other person establishes taking ownership for their poor choice and acknowledges to the offended party they understand what severed the relationship momentarily. 
My hope and prayer for these future adults is they will begin acting like them sooner than later. For their own good, we don't want a house full of teens still acting like children. These crazy, wild, funny kids we've been blessed with will be grown before we know it. And I hope they're learning now to think through their actions as they take responsibility for them...and hopefully avoid speeding tickets.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Torture By Camera

I love my camera. I love my kids. I love using my camera on my kids, which is primarily how I use it. 
And for the most part I have compliant kids. Though it's not their preferred use of time. 
Let's face it, they'd rather be wrestling, chasing wild animals, or stick sword fighting, but at least they stand and smile until I give them the all clear. 
And believe me, I've learned the "all clear" needs to come sooner than later. They only last but so long. And the nicer the clothes, the shorter the time span. 
So armed with sweet tarts and my bag of lenses we marched off into the woods for our annual Christmas pictures. 
This year was freezing cold, I'll give them that. It also had torrentially rained the day before so we were literally standing in mud pits.
But the boys maintained stain free clothing for a whole ten minutes before two of them got into a good hearted scuffle and the other fell out of a tree. 
But the surprise of the day came in the form of this princess. I mean, I just assumed she'd pose as willingly as her big brothers, but oh no, it's not her royal highnesses' style. 
She filled the woods with musical screaming for the entire shoot. They only times she stopped the dramatic waterworks were if I tricked her into looking for a dog or a bird. Occasionally a mouth full of sweet tarts would buy a few seconds of frames. 
I'm sure anyone listening to the sounds from within the woods probably thought there was a severely wounded animal. But the torture session was quickly wrapped up as I practically ran my mud covered, stick wielding, screaming crew back inside away from nosy neighbors. 
And don't worry, the princess's tears magically disappeared once the door closed behind us. She even crawled up beside me on the couch as I uploaded the pictures and cheerfully said, "Cheeeeeese!"

Friday, December 2, 2016

27 Weeks With Baby Quinn

(This is a terrible picture, but the idea is to document this baby boy's growth)

How Far Along: 27 Weeks, yep still behind...and I skipped a week. I'm on a roll people!
Size of Baby: 14 1/2" long and about 2lbs 
Gender: BOY! 
Maternity Clothes: Just my Blanqi leggings and tank but everything else is normal due to the way I carry. 
Movement: This little man can make some waves literally. Matt can feel him move just laying in bed next to me! If a sibling is anywhere close to my lap vicinity he will stake his territorial claim with jumps and somersaults. 
Cravings: No cravings, just getting to that point where there's no room in there for eating or breathing haha!
Symptoms: Can we say nesting?! There is not a corner or closest of this house that is safe from this inhuman drive to purge and organize! 
Best Moment of the Week: My birthday was this past week and it was pretty awesome celebrating with handwritten cards and crayon drawn bouquets and hearts. Being surrounded by these five little gifts was the best present of all and I feel immeasurably blessed! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Annual Thanksgiving Interview

It might be a few days after Thanksgiving Day, but considering I stay a week or more behind on pregnancy updates, I like to think this is a positive tardiness. 
Pregnancy brain is a real thing people, and I completely and utterly admit to suffering from it and my kids completely and utterly admit to taking advantage of it! 
So five days after Thanksgiving when I realized we hadn't done our annual "thankful for interview" I was happy to count up only being five days late and bonus points for it still being November! 
So I leave you with the interview results and will let your imagination fill in the inflections and sound effects that boys may or  may not have added during the question and answer session...
What is one item/thing you are thankful for?
Harrison: My family
Jefferson: Family
Wilson: Playgrounds to climb! (Keeping it real.)
Who is a person you are thankful for?
Harrison: Jaden
Jefferson: Momma and Dad
Wilson: Jaden and Asher, my friends! (said loudly)
What is something spiritual you are thankful for?
Harrison: God gave us eternal life!
Jefferson: Jesus died on the cross to save us and took all our sins from us!
Wilson: Jesus is my friend! (still loud)
What is a weakness you are thankful for?
Harrison: I get angry easily but it helps teach me self control and how to be an overcomer. 
Jefferson: I get my feelings hurt, but God is teaching me to love even when I hurt and not to treat other people like that.
Wilson: I don't come when Mommy say, "Wilson!" So yeah, God teaching me that. 
What is one health related thing you are thankful for?
Harrison: Doctors, but not if it's a doctor that gives medicine to make your muscles weaker, only doctors that have medicine to make them get stronger. 
Jefferson: My strong muscles!
Wilson: My body is healthy! (each word is enunciated slowly and progressively louder)
What is your favorite Thanksgiving Day food?
Harrison: Getting the turkey leg on the fried turkey
Jefferson: The turkey and the mix (chex mix)
Wilson: Uh, special treats, all the special treats! (Still loud)
This Thanksgiving has been filled with heavy days surrounding ourselves, and family, and friends. In light of all the sadness our earthly minds cannot comprehend I'm thankful for my five reminders of God's goodness and keeping our hearts focused on gratitude for all we have. 
No bite of food, no worn tennis shoe, no very loved baby doll, no arms-tight-around-neck hug, and no breath taken is by mistake or without blessing from our good Father. To the Lord who gave and the Lord who takes away, blessed be your name! 
Praying you and your family rested peacefully and abundantly in the care of our Jehovah Jireh!
Happy Thanksgiving 2016!