simple gratitude

I had a different post ready for today… but when I woke up and saw that more heartbreak  had been heaped onto a nation already reeling from injustices committed, well, things changed.  My typed words will always seem inadequate to me when compared to the depth of emotion I feel.  And yet to say nothing is not an option.

Today, I don’t take for granted that I was able to see my husband before he left for work today.

Today, I don’t take for granted that when he comes home tonight, I will be able to hug him and ask him how his day was.

There are women in Minnesota, Louisiana, and Dallas who saw the sun rise this morning and knew that they wouldn’t be able to do the same.

Today, I don’t take for granted that my children will automatically understand how to love others without us teaching them.  We sit, we talk candidly at their level, we cry together when our hearts are stirred by the injustices of Alton Sterling’s death, Philando Castile’s death, and the deaths of the police officers in Dallas last night.  We talk about their own right, even as children, to stand up for those who need a protector, and how that sometimes seems like a dangerous choice, but it is always the right choice.  We talk about how even at our own table, we don’t all look exactly the same, but we are all loved by the God who made us to be his image-bearers.

Today it would be easy for me to be overwhelmed by the pain, and trying to shut it off (well, that doesn’t affect ME).  Today I could try to reason it all out somehow with words; words that could never be adequate because I have not walked in the footsteps of the ones hurting.

But I can walk with them.  I can grieve with them.

I am grateful that mourning has it’s place in Christianity.  If Jesus weeps, then surely the tears that fall from our eyes are worthwhile.  And may the tears fall.  May our hearts not be turned to stone when we hear about yet another round of brutality in our country.  May we not brush it off with “that’s just how it is and nothing can change it.”  

Change us, Lord!  Help us see what you see.  Show us how to love like you love.

May we not forget the simple gratitude of being given Today.








from the zoo…

It gets pretty hot. 

But I’m thankful there are a few reasonable hours in the morning. 

And for these… my people… who agree to the picture on the hippo every time we are here. ❤️

Wordless Wednesday

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For the ability to bring the outdoors to the indoors during the hottest times of the year…


She’s obsessed with knowing if she can do certain things, “when she gets bigger, like a mommy”

Have kids

Take care of her own boo-boos

Make dinner

Drive the car

Do her own laundry

Fix her own hair

Miss Independent likes doing things for herself, but she’s also okay with having me do some things that she cannot do for now.  Being a mama is something different, she now recognizes, and she likes that mama does things for her.

She sees her hand in mine, and she knows she is loved, cared for, one of us.

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My hand is the one her hand gets to hold.

My hand is the one she stretches her fingers out against to compare size.

My hand is the one she squeezes when she’s happy, or when she’s scared.

From the first day we had together, she took my hand and walked with me like it was no big deal.  But it was.  She didn’t know that I wouldn’t ever let go, but she’s figured that out now.

Such a gift.




I’m thankful to be free as an American.

I’m even more thankful to be free in Christ.

Freedom comes with the responsibility to beware of abuses… and while it is easy these days to scroll social media and read all about abuse various groups feel their freedom is experiencing, these things should pale in comparison to the abuses we commit to our own freedom in Christ.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

Galatians 5:16-17

It’s easy to write something, even easier to type it out on a computer or phone screen.  Not as easy to live the things we write sometimes, is it?   Saying  “walk by the Spirit” is something that’s easy to type, and not as easy to walk because the Spirit and the flesh will always be at war with each other.  ALWAYS.

And y’all, it is a battle.  My flesh desires “me time”.  It desires for things to go smoothly, for kids to be obedient, for me to be able to use sarcasm as a coping mechanism. I want to be able to go into shut-down mood when I just can’t deal anymore, I want to be lazy, I want to think things like chocolate will make me a little happier.  My flesh?  It’s not pretty.  Me without the Spirit is not something I enjoy being.  It’s not worth the “freedom” to do whatever I want, live however I want, speak and think however I want.

Freedom in Christ is worth the fight.  Worth the energy it takes to re-direct my mind and my heart when the sweet prick of conviction is felt.

Walking freely in the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.   These things are worth the walk, even if the walk is the most challenging thing we ever do.

Freedom is committing all over again to walking in the Spirit, to protecting the freedom I have in Christ, to desiring the fruit of the Spirit in me, to not being okay with the things in me I know shouldn’t be there, to submitting to the Lord and allowing Him to remove things that need to be removed, and to gratefully accepting His filling me with new things… good things… Thankful

Be free, friends.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13


Thankful today for…

water fights between girls and boys running through the sprinklers on a hot summer day

my boys and my girls and how they won’t go to bed without getting a hug from me

Daddy taking the boys on a Dude’s Night Out while the girls and I get to order take-out and chill at home while committing a major no-no… EATING CANDY WHILE SITTING ON THE COUCH!  (shhhh!) 

the fact that my girls still think boys are gross, and my boys think girls are gross… 🙂

the way in which the boys play hard even with the girls around, but are at the same time gentle with the sister who needs a little extra care

the way in which the girls have high expectations for the boys helping with things like folding laundry and unloading the dishwasher

nerf guns wars, stuffed animal parties, Lego building, sewing projects, and plinking away on the piano… things both my boys and girls enjoy

the gift of wearing the title Boy Mom and Girl Mom – I cannot imagine my world without the sweetness of these people in it.

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Joining in?  Comment and tell me something you are thankful for. 



Yesterday made me realize that there is never a wrong time to focus on gratitude.  So, that’s the plan for July!  Every post, every photograph… all focused on being thankful.  And what better timing?  July is here and the full-steam-ahead month of June is behind us which leaves a blazing hot month of no-school-for-kids and too-hot-to-be-outside happening. Gratitude while in the furnace.  I’m up for it.  If you blog and you want to join in, let me know!  Reading about how others are thankful makes me happy. 🙂

Before I got married, I thought I knew how much God loved me.

Then my husband showed me that he loved me even with the parts I considered to be flaws, and I knew that if God loved me more than THAT, well then, what did I ever know about love before?

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Before I had children, I thought I understood what it was like to love someone else who could never fully return that love in equal amounts.

Then I had children and realized no matter what they do in their lives, I will always love them… even if it takes them down a path of not loving me back.  If God loves me more than THAT, well then, what did I ever know about love before?

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Before we adopted a child into our family, I thought I understood the fierceness with which a mama could love her child even when she didn’t grow for nine months under her heart.

Then we brought Julianne into our family, and I realized that she didn’t have to grow under my heart to be a piece of my heart.  I realized she was worthy of the title Daughter not because a piece of paper made her so, but because she JUST WAS.  If God loves me more than THAT, well then, what did I ever know about love before?

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And the beauty of it all?

I know I understand how much God loves me a little more now,

and I know I will never fully understand it.

The fact that I have the hope of continuing to grow in that understanding is a hope I don’t deserve, and yet, it’s mine for the taking.  This hope?  It’s a gift of grace, and the truest of gifts.






choose gratitude!

The schedule was already going to be tight, and then an unexpected twist made it a little tighter. 

Funny how quickly Satan jumps on the twists and turns and blows them sky-high out of proportion in a matter of a few heartbeats. 


“This is ridiculous!”


“How on earth!”


“I cannot believe…”

And with each beat the tempo increases until my chest feels tight with anxiety. Each thought taking me further down the path of Enemy-cultivated irrationality.  Small things that matter not at all in the grand scheme of things suddenly seem huge.

Driving the car to yet another destination and conviction slams the brakes on the desperate heart-thrumming and I take a deep breath, and out loud list the things I am thankful for, and as it turns out, it’s a rather long list. Out loud, so I hear my voice echo in my ears rather than just in my mind; it makes the truth ring a little louder. 

Heart rate normalizes, the grip of the Enemy loosens, the moment becomes joy. 

It’s not by chance that she’s wearing her “I’m gonna change the world” shirt right now.  If I’m going to be a world changer, let be be one who is quick to listen to the whisper of my good Father. 

Thankful for the chance to lift my eyes back to Jesus so quickly. Thankful for the chance to live a world changing life. Thankful that gratitude is so beautifully simple and grace-filling.

Choose gratitude! 

“Mom?  Why you keep me forever?”

The question is happening all the time now.  She loves to retell the story about how we went SO FAR, allllll the way to China to get her.  How we saw her and said, “awwww”, and how we said, “Yes!  We want HER!”

She knows we did.  She wants to know why.

So, she asks.

And today, before I could say anything, all of the two brothers and one sister chimed in with their thoughts…

“Because we love you!”

“Because you’re cute!”

“Because you are crazy just like us!”

“Because we are your family.”

Exactly right.  All of it plus some.

Because, if I really think about it, I cannot imagine our family without you in it.

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There is no possible way I am about to type this.

My fingers are rebelling.

My heart is squeezed a little tight.

My mind doesn’t want to accept it…

But it’s true.

My oldest?  She woke up as a ten-year-old this morning!

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And since today is all about celebrating her, we’re up to our eyeballs in all things pineapple.  Because she thinks they’re cute.  And I kinda agree, so it was easy to go all out. 😉

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Pineapples, and chocolate chip pancakes with the number ten on it.  Her daddy is a pancake artist.

After breakfast, when she had the whole day ahead of her, she decided that the only place she would like to really be was outside, so outside we went.  My girl?  She has the heart of an explorer, and I love watching her explore.  It helps that the other kids love it, too.


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We walked along the river (carefully), jumped onto rocks and hung from trees.  We ate pineapple shaped cookies and pointed out every wildflower we saw.

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We took a little hike through the woods, and tramped through a meadow.  We saw lizards and butterflies.  Bright blue skies and the fluffiest white clouds.

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It was hot (SO. HOT.)

It was fun (SO. FUN.)

She’s getting so tall, and she’s so thoughtful.  She’s strong-willed, but not in the bad way, and curious about every little creature on the Earth.  It’s fascinating to watch her change into the young woman version of her child-self.  Fascinating.  And difficult, too.

I always tell her she broke a promise years ago.  You see, when she was three, she promised that she would stay small for me forever.  Clearly, she has not.

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But you know?  I love *right now* too much.  Wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Yesterday during my quiet time, a gentle whisper nudged my heart into the direction of, “these could be the best days…” .  That thought stilled me.

How many times have I wished for a few days/months/years down the road to be here?  How many times have I lost my temper and then let that moment dictate how the rest of the day was spent?  I’ve wished for days when the daily grind is a little less intense, when all the littles can button their own jackets and tie their own shoes, when there is *quiet* and *peace* around me.

Truth is?  It’s wrong, this wishing away I do, and seeing the double digit glow on her face today has slowed me down all over again.  These are the best days.  I won’t wish them away for what’s to come, nor will I dwell on the past.  Today.  That’s it.  That’s all we’re guaranteed, and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

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Welcome to Ten, sweet girl of mine!