Happy 7th Birthday to a Feisty Girl

Dear Jayla,

Happy 7th birthday sweet girl. There is not one other girl in the whole universe just like you. You are one of a kind! Your feisty personality keeps all of us on our toes. We never know what you are going to say, but that’s what makes you so much fun.

We don’t ever get bored when you are around. You keep us laughing more times than not. And, you always love others so well.

You have went through a lot of changes this past year. You gained 3 new sisters all in the same day! And, each one of them is extremely close to your age! Talk about competition! We have really asked so much of you.

You could have gotten jealous or made things difficult. But, you haven’t! You have chosen joy, love, and selflessness. You chose Jesus. We are so proud of you. Thank you for seeing the blessings in what God is doing around here.

I loved celebrating your birthday with you. We had a blast at your skating party. You are growing up in so many different ways.

But, I am so glad you are still my little girl. Each year, you extend the age of when you will sleep in your own bed. And, that’s okay by me. I love your snuggles every night!

I am learning to cherish each moment because your oldest brother has taught me that time flies when you are having fun. No matter how quickly the years go by, I’ll love you forever!

Stay sweet baby girl! Stay exactly who God created you to be!

Love Always,

Mommy 💓

Jalya’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 7

What is your favorite food? Tacos

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Tomatoes

What is your favorite thing to do? Gymnastics

What is your favorite animal? Giraffe

What makes you happy? My mommy

What is the best memory from when you were 6? My birthday

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 7? Go to Just Jump

What would you like to be when you grow up? A doctor

What is your favorite song? I Have Been Blessed

Where is your favorite place to eat? McDonalds

What is your favorite book? Fancy Nancy

Where would you like to go on vacation? Dollywood

What would you like the world to know? I am happy.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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Happy 15th Birthday!

Dear Jacob,

Wow! I can’t hardly believe it. You really are 15 years old! How is it even possible that you made me a mommy for the first time 15 years ago? The time has surely flown by.

I can’t even remember the last time you asked me to pick you up. I remember reading a blog post many years ago, and it said that one day you would stop asking me to carry you around. Well, you probably haven’t asked for at least 7 years now! I’ve carried around at least a dozen more kids since then, but I still miss the days when you were little. The days you asked to snuggle up and sleep next to me. Or, the days you couldn’t fall asleep without rubbing my face.

You are at least a half a foot taller than me now. No one told me 15 years ago, when I held you for the first time, that one day I would actually have to look up to you. But, I do!

I am proud of the young man you have become. I am proud of the way you sing for the Lord each Sunday night. I am proud of you for sharing your home with lots of children and for accepting them for who they are. I am proud of you for loving them unconditionally. I am proud of your dedication.

I love the fact that you are growing up, but you still enjoy shooting basketball with your friends or even your mama. I enjoy watching as you skate with your buddies. I like looking at all of the hidden treasures you have found from digging the land with your brothers and sisters. It brightens my day when you explore nature. And, it even makes me smile when you make sure and show me every single snake that you find!

Don’t ever change for anyone sweet boy! Always remember that the Lord is your creator, and He is faithful.

Love Always,

Mommy ❤

Jacob’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 15

What is your favorite food? Crab Legs

What do you hope you never have to eat again? I haven’t ever eaten anything that I don’t like.

What is your favorite thing to do? Play basketball

What is your favorite animal? Dog

What makes you happy? Playing basketball

What is the best memory from when you were 14? Playing basketball

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 15? Get my learner’s

What would you like to be when you grow up? Game Warden

What is your favorite song? Love Broke Thru by TobyMac

Where is your favorite place to eat? Red Lobster

What is your favorite book? The Adventures of Arty Anderson

Where would you like to go on vacation? Bald Head Island

What would you like the world to know? I get my learner’s on Oct. 2nd.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

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Heaven Rejoices at the Value of One

In the midst of trials, tribulations, and really difficult times, God has a way of showing up. He has a way of showing all of us that He is in control. In the middle of the storm, He makes it perfectly clear that He is still on the throne.

He makes it evident that He has always been on the throne. He will always be on the throne. And, He is still in the miracle business. How do I know?

I know because a sweet little 5 year old that we met over 3 years ago asked Jesus in her heart today. We have been praying for her since the beginning. She was just barely 2 when we first got to know her, and she began sharing our home almost a year ago. She was full of energy and was quite mischievous when we first met. She brought all of that energy with her. But, that sweet little grin and cute little laugh makes up for all of that energy that she doesn’t quite know what to do with just yet.

I know Jesus will help her put all of that energy to use for His glory. He will help her learn empathy towards others. He will help her heal from all of the hurt she has been through in her short 5 years. Today, she made the most important decision of her life.

And, she has been so excited. Today she found hope! She has wanted to share her good news with everyone. She understands that Jesus now lives in her heart and will help her each and every day. He will never leave her or forsake her.

All of Heaven is rejoicing because of the value of one! Her eternal life matters. She didn’t get saved because of anything our family did. It was all God orchestrating the details at exactly the right time.

All we did was say yes to God’s calling when He specifically asked us to. He asked us to take in this precious child and her sisters who were abandoned, hurting, and all alone. We listened when God asked us to take her to church, kids’ choir, and RU. All we’ve done is teach her to pray and show her Christ’s love the best way we know how by asking for forgiveness when we haven’t always reacted in ways that are pleasing to Him. We have showed her what mercy and grace really look like. We planted a seed.

But, today, despite us, despite our failures, she realized exactly why we all need that mercy and grace. It warmed my heart as I watched my newly turned 7 year old move to sit beside her during communion service tonight. She wanted to whisper in her ear exactly what the juice represents: Jesus’s blood. That girl is my soul winner. She got to lead a sweet boy to the Lord last year around this time. A precious child who needed to share our home for a few short months. But, those months had a purpose!

Through simply saying yes to the call of the Lord by receiving His children into our home, we have been able to witness four children from very hard places ask Jesus in their hearts. Right now, three of them are still with us! God is so good.

As I sit here watching little AJ jump on my bed as he is singing “Jesus Loves Me,” I can say with complete confidence that every single thing that we have endured on this difficult journey has had a great purpose. Life is but a vapor. Eternal things are the only things that matter. Praise the Lord for His promises, His mercy, and His grace. God is so good to us even in the midst of trials! God is so good.

Luke 15:10- Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

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You knew!

You knew what you were getting into.

You knew the depths of trauma.

You knew the way things would be handled in this awful, failing system.

You knew!

You knew the kids would get attached only to be told that that attachment doesn’t matter because it isn’t biological.

You knew you would become attached, too, but that attachment isn’t supposed to matter either because it is only supposed to be temporary.

You knew kiddos would be moved at the drop of a hat or sent back home even when things weren’t different.

You knew medical professionals’ recommendations would mean nothing!

You knew you might even have to ask a few children to be moved when extreme circumstances occured out of your control adding more trauma.

You knew you would have to pretend to be a doormat and show no emotion even if it is for the greater good of these children who have crossed your doorstep due to abuse and neglect.

You knew you would have compassion for first families despite the awful, horrible abuse they chose to bring to these children!

You knew lies would be told and court timelines wouldn’t matter!

You took training. You understood just how unfair things are! You knew!

No! No, I didn’t.

I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Yes, I had taken hours of foster care training and had witnessed trauma in the past as an elementary teacher and developmental specialist, but I didn’t fully understand the depths of what I was truly getting myself into because I hadn’t ever brought that trauma into my own home.

I didn’t know what a battle it would be to know what to pray and desire for until that first placement was put into my arms.

I didn’t know the struggle that would arise when God asked me to pray for parents to be healed and kids to remain safe and protected all at the same time.

I didn’t know the nightmares that would wake me out of my sleep due to the seriousness of the pasts that these children bring with them.

I didn’t know trust issues would become a part of my every day life because of lies being told and spread for reasons that I don’t care to mention.

I really didn’t know I would be subjected to such deceit when children’s lives are on the line.

No, I didn’t know!

I didn’t know how trauma would take deep roots into my inner being because you can’t sweep these kids’ trauma they experienced in first families under the rug. That is impossible. And, trauma caused by a broken system can’t be hidden when you had no idea it was coming at you in the first place.

I didn’t know that all social workers, lawyers, judges, and whomever else is involved in these horrendous cases aren’t created equal.

I really didn’t know!

Surely everyone who works in a field with abused children always has the best interest of the child in their minds. How could they not? Right?

I didn’t know the struggles that could come from trying to bond with children who hate every part of human existence due to being hurt their whole lives even by the foster care system. I didn’t know how that bond that had been tirelessly worked on for hours and hours and hours would no longer matter when it became convenient for the system.

I didn’t know how my voice would be completely stolen from me. I didn’t know the fight that always has lived inside of me would be crushed to the point that it is unrecognizable.

I didn’t know!

And, I am so glad! I am so glad I didn’t know all of the things mentioned above. If I had known just how unfair and unjust our broken foster care system is, I would have never said yes. Never!

And, had I not said yes, I wouldn’t have my sweet little AJ. A little boy who was once dying is now alive. He is Safe. He is Protected. He was worth saying YES to! He needed us to say that his life was worth saving.

And, we also wouldn’t have his 3 precious sisters and a sweet little baby boy from a totally different family that we love so dearly. Only God knows when they will be released from this awful system they are forced to be in without a voice! Their voices have also been stolen. Only God knows where they will end up. But, at least for now, they are SAFE! They are PROTECTED! They know what unconditional LOVE really is.

And, hadn’t we said yes, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show several other children what being loved and what safety truly is! Unfortunately, every child can’t stay. That’s where things get really, really difficult. But, now that I know about the darkness that lingers behind closed doors, it makes me want to say YES! even more.

Because my God is the light of the WORLD! And, He can expose the darkness and overcome the pure deception in this awful, broken system that these kids and foster parents are thrown into!

The light will always shine through the darkness! And, that is one thing I will ALWAYS know.

John 8:12 – Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Matthew 5:14 – Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

All of these kids’ lives matter! They matter to the Lord. And, He will take care of His children. He has a plan, and we have to trust His plan.

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

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Happy 2 Years to One Awesome Baby Boy!

Happy Birthday sweet baby boy! It seems like we just got finished celebrating your 1st birthday. You were brand new to us this time last year. We were all just getting to know each other.

Since you have began to heal and move past all of the trauma you have been through in the past, your smile and laughter have came out in a huge way. Jayla will never let us forget that she was the first one to make you laugh. It took quite awhile for your thick skin to soften because you were scared for so long. You have been through way too much in your short little life. Oh how it hurts to even think about how difficult the healing process has been for you these past 13 months.

Through it all, God has been good. He has helped us overcome so much. And, we are trusting Him to help us get through so much more. We know that God is the same God in the valley as He is on the mountaintop. Right now, you are in a valley that you aren’t even aware of yet. But, we are. We are all very aware.

We know that God will see us through. He has big plans for you. We just know it! We have trusted and stood on His promises since the beginning, and we will not stop now. When we don’t understand, He does. He sees everything we don’t. And, He can make a way even when we can’t see one.

I hope you loved your Curious George party. We all had a wonderful time celebrating you at your party – celebrating everything that you have overcome.

Stay strong in the days to come sweet boy! God will not leave any of us during the days ahead. He will fight this huge battle.

We are here for you. We always will be no matter what the days ahead may bring forth. We are praying for God’s perfect will. He will work all things out for His good and His glory. Don’t you worry about a thing baby boy. We love you big – now and forever.

Isaiah 43:19 – Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

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Happy 9th Birthday to a Unicorn Loving Girl!

Dear Sweet Girl,

Thank you so much for celebrating your 9th Birthday with us this year! We had so much fun celebrating as we were surrounded by unicorns. Your love for unicorns is one thing that you have made clear to all of us. It is definitely no secret.

I hope you loved all of your unicorn gifts! We had a blast picking all of them out. Shopping for you is always such a blessing. Your sisters got excited each time they found just the right gift for you.

James was super happy when he found a purple unicorn cupcake for your party. It tickled this mama when you asked to save it for school the next day because you were too stuffed after eating a huge plate of lasagna that Jaden made just for you. You have made it very clear to us that lasagna is the best food ever invented!

We love you more than you could ever imagine precious girl! You are going to go far in this life. I just know it!! We are trusting God to write your story.

Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 9

What is your favorite food? Lasagna

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Mayonnaise

What is your favorite thing to do? Play with Jaden

What is your favorite animal? Bunny

What makes you happy? Staying with you guys

What is the best memory from when you were 8? Going to Just Jump with Jaden

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 9? Go in a cave

What would you like to be when you grow up? A gymnastics coach

What is your favorite song? You Say

Where is your favorite place to eat? Olive Garden

What is your favorite book? Wonder

Where would you like to go on vacation? New York

What would you like the world to know? I want to be a Bradley.

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Happy 5th Birthday to a Special Girl

Dear Special One,

I am very sorry your birthday letter is so late. Having a birthday on one of the biggest holidays of the year presents its challenges – that’s for sure! I think it took all of us 2 months to recuperate from all of the holiday festivities.

But, you, dear one, deserve to be celebrated. You mean so much to all of us, and we are so grateful that the Lord allowed our paths to cross just 3 short years ago. You have been such a blessing to us these past 9 months. It has been amazing to be able to watch you learn, change, and grow. You are truly an answer to 3 years of prayers. Hopefully you will understand all of it one day.

You remind us so much of your little brother. Thank you for sharing him with us. Your laughs and smiles are identical. We are so happy that you are able to smile and laugh with him each day now. We are trusting God that you two will never have to be apart again.

Stay strong, sweet girl. You have so much life to live. I am thankful the Lord has given you a chance to shine! 💓

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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Firmly Placed

There are so many words that I want to type right now. There are so many different posts that I want to share. For example, I really need to write a Happy Birthday post for a sweet girl who turned 5 on Christmas day. But, there is also a post that I want to write with words smeared as hard as possible across the page. A post about the frustrations that we are all feeling due to this awful broken system. A system that I have mentioned over and over again these past three years.

But, I can’t. I can’t smear those words just yet. I’d like to type them all out in bright bold letters. However, that would require me to rip off the thick piece of duct tape plastered to my mouth. It has been placed there for the past three years due to the fact that foster parents have to sign on a dotted line printed on a piece of paper that states that our voices are stolen from us the moment we accept hurting, neglected, abused children into our homes.

I know how much it would hurt to rip that tape from my mouth. I can feel the pain just thinking about it. I know, out of anger, I will say all of the wrong things if it is removed too quickly. So, I will stay silent for awhile longer. How much longer? Only time will tell.

So much is at stake to have such a thick gag order in place, but it is reality. It is not only a reality for us but also for the innocent children who are trapped in a system that is spiraling out of control a little more each day. Their voices are silenced just as much as ours.

So why? Why do we continue to be entangled in a system that pulls us in every direction?

I will tell you why. We do it for the children. We don’t do it for the judges, the lawyers, the supervisors, or the social workers. We do it for the orphans. We do it because God has asked us to.

We do it because it has taught our biological children what life is truly about.

It has taught them how to hold hands and pray.

It has taught them how to get along with others despite their shortcomings. It has taught them compassion in the deepest ways. Compassion that tells them to cry with their sister because the fears of court are weighing heavy on all of them.

It has taught them that LOVE means everything.

But, most importantly, it has taught them to fully rely on God no matter what uncertainties may arise.

The past three years have been TOUGH, but they have seen miracles only God could work out for His good and His glory. They have learned to have faith and to believe in hope like they never have before (so have their mom and dad!)

So dear readers, that’s why we keep the duct tape firmly placed over our mouths while we continue to love on all of these children of ours. Yes, our days aren’t easy. Things often seem out of control more times than not, and hateful words and actions can spew out at times mostly due to a crooked, broken system. But, God is love. And, He continues to teach ALL of us so much as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. His rod and His staff, they comfort us!

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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An Open Letter to my Dad

Dear Dad,

I miss you. I miss you more than you know. My heart breaks for you. I can’t stand to see you in the condition you are in.

I love you, Dad. But, I can’t stand the denial you live in. I can’t stand the alcohol and other things keeping you from us. I’ve watched you suffer my whole life. I just want you to be set free.

Why not, Dad? Why wouldn’t you want to live a life where you don’t drown yourself in alcoholism and other strongholds? I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why you have chosen those things over your daughters and your grandchildren.

I don’t understand what we have done that is so wrong. Why do you choose your drinking buddies over us? Why does it seem like you hate us so badly? Why Dad? Have I said all of the wrong things? I’ve tried to keep my words intact as much as possible. It’s been so hard, Dad. It really has. I’ve wanted to say so much more. But, I love you too much to say all that I am thinking. The hurt inside makes me want to let it all out. And, I do when I’m alone and you aren’t in front of me. I say a lot more when you aren’t around.

You aren’t around much anymore. You haven’t been for years. I am so grateful that I get to see you two or three times a year. I wish you were here more often. You only live a few streets over.

So much has happened over the past 20 years. You keep saying you don’t have a problem, and it’s not that bad. But, actions speak louder than words. Like I told you recently, we really did miss you at Christmas this year. We always look forward to seeing you on Christmas. It’s one of our favorite times of the year because we know you always show up on Christmas.

But, let’s talk about the things you have missed besides this Christmas. Did you know that I have been in the hospital close to 10 weeks over the past 9 years? I waited for you to come and see me every single time. But, you never came. I waited for you to rub my swollen feet and tell me that everything was going to be okay, and that I was going to make it through. But, you never showed up, Dad. Some of those times, it wasn’t just me fighting for my life, but also your grandchildren. But, they are all okay now. And, I am going to be, too. The doctor has found medications that really help control this horrible disease that I live with and was most likely born with.

I wish I could talk to you about how badly I have felt over the past two years because this disease I have can take the life out of you. But, I am doing so much better now except in stressful situations. Like the one my kids and I encountered the other night when you wrecked, Dad.

We saw it all. I saw you lying on the pavement as you were pinned under your jeep. Dad, I was so scared. I was so scared that your addictions had finally taken you away from us. It was only by God’s grace that we pulled up behind your wreck. We were just on our way home, and we saw the most terrifying sight ever. I thought for sure you were going to be dead. But, Praise the Lord you weren’t. I am so thankful that I didn’t have to plan your funeral this weekend. I am so thankful I didn’t have to plan my husband’s or my children’s. If the timing had been off just a little, we might have had to swerve to miss you, Dad. I am glad you didn’t hurt anyone else’s family, too. But, I haven’t given up hope. I won’t ever. I love you too much.

But, what I witnessed next broke my heart worse than seeing your face lying on that pavement. I saw you handcuffed and carried off to jail. I knew it would happen one day, but I didn’t ever want it to. I wanted to see you better before now, Dad.

You have taught me so much in life. You have taught me some great life lessons.

Lesson 1. To hate alcohol and drugs with everything inside of me
Lesson 2. To work hard for everything I have, but use the money I make to help others in a positive manner and not throw it down the drain by buying the world’s drink
Lesson 3: To love other’s unconditionally no matter how they treat me or act towards me because God loves me despite MY OWN weaknesses and sinful habits and so do so many other people
Lesson 4: To never give up hope on those who are addicted because the Lord has worked a miracle in my life, and He can in yours, too, if you let him
Lesson 5: To allow my children to walk through hard times and not hide things from them because those times make them stronger, make them love and pray harder, and will hopefully make them walk away from temptations that will destroy their lives and their families’ lives (I pray if anyone ever offers my children a drop of alcohol or drugs, they will always see your vehicle on its side and see you being taken to jail.)

They hurt, too. You know? Jacob has prayed for you almost as long as he has been alive. He has been praying for you since he could first speak your name. He prayed the Lord would wake you up the day before you wrecked. Did it, Dad? Did that wreck do anything for you?

From what you told me on the way home from jail, it hasn’t helped you yet. It didn’t help you want to be different, Dad. All I’ve heard are excuses. It’s easy to blame others for our actions. I have done it in the past, too. But, it doesn’t do any of us a bit of good, Dad. The excuses don’t make me feel any better. I’ve heard you blame others and use excuses since I was just a small kid, Daddy. I don’t want to hear them anymore. I really don’t. It hurts too much. You always leave me asking myself why.

Why? Why can’t you just say you are wrong? Why can’t you just say you are sorry? Why couldn’t you say thank you when I stayed to help you at your accident? Do you even remember that I was there? Do you even remember that I care about you, and I love you? Do you?

Because I do. I love you so much. You have always told me that you aren’t going to change for anyone. But, do you know what? I don’t want you to change for me or my kids. I want you to change for you! I want you to change for the Lord! I want you to stop killing yourself every single day! We all do.

Jayla, my 6 year old daughter, she just had this conversation with me today:

He’s been drinking beer and not eating. That’s what’s wrong, Mommy. He needs to eat and not drink that beer, Mommy. The Lord tries to talk to him, Mommy, but he says no, Mommy. It makes the Lord sad, Mommy. Has he really been saved, Mommy? Is he going to Heaven, Mommy? If he’s really been saved then it never breaks, Mommy! Even if he does bad stuff, he will still go to Heaven if he is saved. You know that, Mommy!

Please, Dad. Are you saved? Are you on your way to Heaven? Only you know the answer. But, we are begging you to please stop! Please stop breaking our hearts. Please stop before it is eternally too late. If we can’t spend our lives with you here, we at least want to spend eternity with you in Heaven.

I love you, Dad. We all do and no matter what, we always will. And, we will never give up on you. We will never give up hope. We are here for you. We will never stop praying. There is no way that I could ever count the number of days that I have prayed for you.

Love Always,
Your Second Daughter

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The Reality of Foster Care

Disclaimer before you read:

I have wore many hats during my adult life. I began college in 1998. While attending college and after graduating, I was a teacher in daycares, public schools, a private school, and in many different church programs including an addiction program. After teaching for 6 years, I became a developmental specialist through an early intervention program. In recent years, I have taken hours of foster care training. I am now a foster parent and have been for nearly 3 years. I know a lot of foster parents. I am an adoptive mom and also know a lot of adoptive mothers. I was a NICU mom with two babies born two years apart who were in the NICU due to complications out of my control. Each night, I would listen to the babies in the rooms next to mine scream from withdrawals. It sounded like the worst horror movie that you could ever listen to. The examples listed below are from real life experiences, but I will never disclose which experiences they came from. There are many more horrific stories that are too graphic to share. But, I want nothing more than to protect all of the children I have met in every situation that I have been in. Thanks for understanding!

⭐Foster care is unfortunately needed in this country. It is unfortunate that children are removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect in order to save their lives. The tragedies that these children suffer from are unfortunate.

It is unfortunate that a child, as she peeped through the crack in the bathroom door, witnessed her parents snort white powder up their noses. It is unfortunate that a child hid as his father abused his mother many times because he was so messed up on drugs and was angry. It is unfortunate that a child witnessed her father choke her mother and then watched as he pushed her down a flight of stairs.

It is unfortunate that a child watched her mother shoot “something” in her father with a needle and then saw her father shoot “the same something” in her mother with the same needle while she was pregnant. It is unfortunate that the child watched as those same parents flopped around and acted all crazy after they were finished using those needles. It is unfortunate that the child continues to worry as her mother suffers from hepatitis because of those needles. It is tragic that the same child watched as her mother nearly died from drug overdoses and had to be brought back to life as another needle was being stabbed into her body.

It is unfortunate that any child stood by as her father took soap and a t-shirt from the store for her mommy. It is unfortunate that the same child steals because that’s all she has ever known.

It is unfortunate that a child continues to fight fear at night because he was allowed to watch horror movies at a very young age. It is unfortunate that a fort is built for protection because he sees people from the movies as he attempts to fall to sleep. It is unfortunate that the same child is on powerful prescription medications just to numb the psychological behaviors that were bred from the abuse and neglect he endured in his biological home. It is unfortunate that no foster home is educated enough to help him so he doesn’t live with a family.

It is unfortunate that a 6 year old asks to sleep with a curtain locked around her bed because she sees and hears the evil people from the movies she watched with her parents. And, those same people say mean things to her when she’s really quiet. And, when she closes her eyes, all she sees is a dead naked woman lying in the bathtub with blood all over her body.

It is unfortunate that any child was kept up all night for 7 years of her life because her parents were intoxicated to the point of screaming and yelling at each other all night long while having fist fights with the neighbors. It is unfortunate that the same child wonders what happened to the baby she felt moving in her mommy’s stomach.

It is unfortunate that nothing happened when a child flipped on the light switch because the bills hadn’t been paid due to every last dollar going to support her parents’ habits.

It is unfortunate that a child didn’t know when his next meal was coming, so food hoarding is an issue in his life so much so that he eats until he vomits.

It is unfortunate that any child’s dad rinsed the lice out of her hair, but she didn’t bathe any other time.

It is unfortunate that a child through tear filled eyes watched her mommy get arrested and wasn’t able to give her a hug because she had on handcuffs. And, the child stood frozen from confusion.

It is unfortunate that a child had to walk everywhere she went sometimes even barefoot in the freezing rain because her parents have their licenses suspended.

It is unfortunate that a child suffers from reactive attachment disorder and what seems like oppositional defiant disorder because the only human contact that she has ever felt has been hurtful. It is unfortunate that PTSD is even a medical diagnosis for a child.

It is unfortunate that a child self soothes in very inappropriate ways just to cope from all the abuse and neglect he has endured in his short little life.

It is unfortunate that any child sees monsters all around her because her parents called the dead into her home and told her they were hovering over her body.

It is a shame that every single day babies withdrawl from multiple types of drugs and alcohol and suffer from lifelong effects because their moms are addicts.

It’s a tragedy that one mom was not only addicted during her 5th pregnancy but most likely her 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th pregnancies. It is unfortunate that the 5th baby had withdrawls for four long months after his birth and nearly died because of it. It is unfortunate at 3 years old his adoptive parents struggle to keep him healthy because he nearly chokes every day as he violently coughs.

Yes! All of these situations are unfortunate. But, the graveness doesn’t stop at the abuse and neglect. It continues as the child is thrown into an unfortunate system. A system that expects foster parents and the children to act like nothing ever happened to them. It is unfortunate that foster parents are expected to hide their feelings and not let any of the above mentioned things bother them. It is unfortunate that foster parents don’t have a voice. It is unfortunate that most always the children are silenced.

It is unfortunate that the kids are silenced so much that they get moved 4 times before ending up where they should have been in the first place because the system hid things about their past. It is unfortunate that those in charge don’t always admit how the system’s standards damages these children even more, or maybe they do. Maybe just maybe the ones who have to work in the system can’t do a thing about it. Maybe a broken system has made them silent and numb and construed their views to believe something that’s not true. This system will chew you up, swallow you, and vomit you back up again all the while expecting you to put your game face on. Maybe that’s why so many foster parents and social workers quit.

But, there is hope. God is bigger than any broken system.

These children should not live in fear of being put out on the streets because we lack foster homes in America. There aren’t enough people stepping up to help these hurting children who have been tainted by the ones who were supposed to love and protect them the most. There are siblings separated because foster homes are so full they can only take one or two more kids at a time.

Don’t get me wrong, as foster parents, we want to throw in the towel many times – sometimes daily. We long for a normal, stress free life, and so do the kids! It is a challege listening to the awful, unfortunate abuse and neglect these children have been through. It’s just as difficult to watch their biological parents make poor choices day after day. God doesn’t want a family divided. That’s not His initial plan, but sometimes He has to step in when life threatening choices from first families are made. Yes, it’s tragic but also a reality.

A reality that hurts the children the most. And then, it’s a punch in the gut when court dates roll around and everyone is so eager for something good to happen for these innocent kids only to hear so many lies being spoken to down play the abuse and neglect handed to them. These children are handled like a number in our courts. Changes need to be made! Some how… some way…

Hearing all of the unfortunate issues of abuse and neglect and a broken system might just make you think that foster care couldn’t ever be for you. But, have you asked God? Is God calling you to step up and help? Christians, God calls born again believers to help the orphan. Don’t be afraid to do what these children need. I understand how frightening it is! I live it every single second of every single day.

Will every child who enters your home be the right fit? No! Will some of them have to move? Yes! Will you carry that guilt with you every day? Trust me, you will question your decision. But, God removes that guilt. His all knowing power gets foster parents walking with Him through the trauma that is brought into their homes. Being a foster parent will bring anxiety, hurt, trauma, and guilt. You will feel like you’ve messed up time and time again because trauma breeds trauma.

This foster parenting stuff is one of the most difficult things that hopefully you and I will ever do! Parenting kids who have been traumatized their whole lives is not an easy task! But the ONE who has called you to the journey will hold your hand every step of the way. He is ABLE and the kids that enter your home are so worth it.

So, don’t worry about making mistakes and failing miserably because you will. The enemy will always whisper that you aren’t good enough and that you are not cut out for the job of helping kids from hard places, but God’s bigger voice says to dust yourself off and walk in His ways. These children need you!

Their parents also need our love and prayers. Sometimes that’s all we can offer them, but prayer is enough. Prayer is powerful. God wants them to walk in His obedience. We have to show them Christ’s love. He died for them as well as for you and me. He is a chain breaker!

Not every family will be reunited. Not every family can be due to the severity of the situation. He places orphans in families. Families He has chosen. But, God can heal broken families in His timing!

God will protect you and His children. His ways, even if we don’t always understand them, are perfect. Even if we think a decision made from a broken system is not the right one, God knows why. We have to leave all of those details in His hands. He fights the battles of His children! While we wait for much needed changes in our foster care system, we just have to trust Him!

So, if you feel led, take the next step! If God has asked you to, just do it! Sign up to be a foster parent. Take the classes. Don’t wait. There’s too much at stake. Even if you are afraid, these children need you, but most importantly, they need Christ. They are our future.

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Happy Birthday to A Precious 7 Year Old Girl!

Dear Sweet Girl,

You are already seven! I can’t believe time has went by so quickly. You had just turned 4 when we first met almost three years ago! You stole our hearts from that first day.

Your mischievous little grin won us over immediately. You had a sparkle in your eyes and were so full of life. We would have brought you home with us that very minute if God had asked us to.

But, He asked us to wait. As you know, a lot of things had to fall in place before you joined our family this past June. Many prayers were spoken during the wait. Prayers for your safety and for God’s perfect plan. We never gave up hope. We knew He would do what was best for you and for us in His perfect timing.

We might not understand why you endured the things you did your first 6 years. However, God knows why. He has a great purpose for your life. We just have to trust that His plans and timing are perfect. Waiting for you made our reunion so much sweeter. He’s still working out all of the final details. And, we know He is able! He has done so much already.

Thanks for celebrating your birthday with us yesterday! We had a great day celebrating. It all started with red velvet cinnamon buns from some sweet friends. They were so good, and you loved them!

You picked the perfect place for your party later in the afternoon! You waited all day long for pancakes and sausage. You can’t ever go wrong at Cracker Barrel!

Your eyes lit up when it came time to open your presents. I hope you liked your Little Mermaid gifts. You told me that she is your favorite. Maybe we can go and meet her one day in person. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful adventure?

I know the Lord has so many adventures waiting for us to explore. I can’t wait to see what all He has in store. We are so excited for what your future holds. Stay strong in the Lord and trust Him! He will show you so many great and mighty things. We love you so much baby girl!


Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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Our Oldest Girl is 12!!

Dear Jaden,

It’s your birthday! It’s hard to believe you are 12 years old. Next year, you will be a teenager. Time goes by so quickly. I know you have been looking forward to your birthday for months now because you have talked about it often.

I am glad that you still get excited about the little things in life. You are such a sweet girl who sees the positive in every situation. I am so thankful for that. You have grown up a lot these last 12 months.

You proved how strong you are when changes were thrown at you so many times this year. You have welcomed so many new children into your home over the past 9 months. Just this year, you started with 5 siblings, then two more came making it 7, then you were down to 6, then up to 8, then back to 6, and now you are up to 9! As those numbers show, you have had to say goodbye to some of those siblings along the way, and that isn’t ever an easy task. But, those numbers also show that not long after those final goodbyes were spoken 3 sisters came, which including you, has put us at a steady 10 (5 girls and 5 boys). Only God could do that! You have loved all of the kids that have crossed your path so well! I am so proud of you! You have been Christ’s hands and feet. I know it isn’t always easy, but you always willingly sacrifice so much.

Your faithfulness to the Lord made me want to spoil you a little extra today. I hope you enjoyed your manicure, going out for lunch, picking out a few gifts for yourself, shopping for things for your birthday party coming up this weekend, and getting a special treat before heading home to your party with your siblings.

They all really love you more than you can imagine. They took a lot of time searching for gifts that they thought were perfect for you. Your daddy and I love you so much, too. There isn’t another 12 year old girl in this world as special as you are to us. Thank you so much for being you! Don’t ever change for anyone. Stay strong in the Lord, and He will take you far in this life. His love never fails.

Love Always,

Mommy 💙

Jaden’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 12

What is your favorite food? Hamburgers

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Mayonnaise

What is your favorite thing to do? Gymnastics and ride horses

What is your favorite animal? Horse

What makes you happy? Jesus

What is the best memory from when you were 11? Getting 3 new sisters

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 12? Learn new gymnastics skills

What would you like to be when you grow up? A gymnastics coach

What is your favorite song? Stand For Jesus

Where is your favorite place to eat? Little’s Quick Check

What is your favorite book? The Littles

Where would you like to go on vacation? The Bahamas on a cruise

What would you like the world to know? Jesus loves them!

Matthew 25:40 -And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

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Happy 3rd Birthday Little Stitch

Dear Abel,

It was an Ohana kind of day. Early in the day, all your brothers and sisters hustled and bustled to get ready for your party. Excitement was in the air!

When the party hour finally arrived, everyone wore their Lilo and Stitch attire. And, the girls had decorated with your favorite Lilo and Stitch stuffed characters.

Your Hawaiian style birthday cake was perfect. You were so cute as you blew out your candles.

You loved your new Stitch Cuddleez. I know he will find a spot in your bed with all of your other Stitches. I am pretty sure your new blue truck was your favorite gift of the day.

It was fun having a simple party with your whole Ohana! Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. There is always room for miracles. And, God showed up in a big way this year. What a special day we all had!

God is so good to us. We love you more than you could ever imagine. Stay sweet baby boy. You brighten up our lives: You and Stitch!

Love Always,

Mommy 💙

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

(This will always be your verse! God has done so much for all of us. He is able!)

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Tired

-I’m tired from the fight.

-I’m tired from the constant battle.

-I’m tired from the reality of everyone else besides me having a hand in planning my family’s future.

-I’m tired from having to answer to many many different people on how to best parent these kids in my home.

-I’m tired from traumatized brains causing havoc every minute of every day. (It’s not the kids’ fault. We are glad they are here, and we love them very much. But the journey is so exhausting!)

-I’m tired from the many many therapy appointments, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, social worker visits, lawyer visits, school assignments, daily logs to fill out, etc. etc. etc.

-I’m tired from the decisions of the court.

-I’m tired from being asked to pretend like everything is perfect when in reality it’s not.

-I’m tired from having to keep my feelings to myself out of fear.

-I’m tired from the whole system.

But, it’s not just foster care. I am also tired from:

-watching dementia take my grandmother away

-watching people suffer so badly every day due to sickness- people who made a great difference in our community

-watching people drown in alcoholism

– watching drug addictions take people’s kids and lives away

Yes! I’m so tired, and many times, I feel like a ton of bricks are resting on my chest and no matter how hard I push they won’t lift off so I can breathe just a little.

-I’m tired of the frustration.

-I’m tired of those feelings of frustration making me feel like a failure because I say the wrong things and make the wrong decisions in a split second just because I’m completely worn out from the chaos that surrounds me. The chaos of a broken system.

-I’m tired of the tears that come from this deep sadness that permeates my body because I can’t change the system, or take someone’s suffering away, or find a cure for dementia, or help heal a traumatized child overnight, or make those people change who don’t want to or maybe don’t know how to.

I’m tired…

But God very very softly whispers, “I’m your strength. Get up, and I will fight your battle. You are enough. These kids need you no matter how tired you are. No matter how broken the system is. Let me fight for you and them. You do your part, and I’ll do mine. Every human makes mistakes. Learn from them and accept my forgiveness. Move on. Enjoy the moment before it is gone. I will work out every last detail for the best! You can’t fix the brokenness around you, but I can. Trust me! Read my Word! Pray to me often. Pray for those who need to be changed through my blood! Be still and know that I am God! Just Breathe! I created you for a purpose, and my love for you never changes!”

(Praising the Lord once again for His mercy, grace, and goodness. He is Able even when I am not.)

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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Difficulties in God’s Plans

Many days thoughts flood my mind constantly. Thoughts of: Did I choose this journey for myself or is this God’s complete will for my life?

I always find myself thinking:

Life is hard right now…

Life is difficult…

Life is a whirlwind of flight or fright syndrome…

Life is full of aggression on all sides…

Life is moving at a pace that is so difficult to keep up with…

Every single day, things happen that make me wonder how in the world I ended up where I am today.

Every day things get broken…

Every day there is so much chaos…

Every day it is difficult to find a quiet spot for 2 seconds at a time…

Every day there are meltdowns and tears…

Every day seems more difficult than the last…

Five kids ago, things were simple.

Things were a walk in the park…

I could scoop up the five kids I had and go anywhere… I mean anywhere I wanted to go… Why was I not content? Why did I ask for more? Was I being selfish?

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There were no MAJOR meltdowns…

There was no flight or fright syndrome present..

Yes! There was still frustration and normal toddler behaviors….

Yes! I still got upset sometimes at what I now know were SMALL, MINOR, EASY to handle transgressions…

That! That frustration I felt back then makes me feel horrible now. If I only knew what was coming just a few short years later, I would have been different! I would have not complained ONE. SINGLE. DAY! Those days that seemed so difficult at the time were so EASY!

I long for those days at times. Those oh so EASY days. Even the NICU days and almost losing my life days seem simple compared to what I am walking through now.

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Both NICU journeys seemed like the most DIFFICULT trials to overcome. Both times, I thought there would not ever be anything as difficult to go through! Oh my! How wrong I was!

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Not long after the NICU struggle was over, the foster care journey came along with a Crohn’s/Colitis raging battle! Man, life became REALLY tough all of a sudden. YES! Almost 3 years later, life continues to be TOUGH.

BUT! God has prepared me for this journey! He gave me the NICU days, pregnancy complications, and nearly losing my life days to make me strong enough to fight this battle I am in ONLY through His strength.

Usually what seems like our toughest battles are minor compared to what is coming next. What God has just around the corner…

Yes! Life is DIFFICULT in our own STRENGTH. When we take our eyes off of Him, it becomes unbearable! When we question if things are His will or not, we begin sinking. But, He walked on water! He can hold us up no matter how COMPLICATED things seem!

Yes! Life is throwing some STRONG punches right now. But, God’s ALL knowing power and love shines through every day.

He whispers:

This is my WILL!

This is what I have for you.

I have prepared you to parent not 1, 2, 3, 4, but FIVE children with attachment issues who have suffered great abuse and neglect in their lives. You can parent these children whose brains have developed differently because they had to FIGHT to stay ALIVE every single day of their lives!

God whispers:

I will take care of you and your 5 biological children plus the other 5 I have BLESSED you with. I love ALL of you!

Despite the

  • flight or fright
  • aggression
  • fits followed by deep sadness
  • melt downs
  • ungrateful hearts
  • NO stranger anxiety
  • NO attachment except to themselves
  • And the list could go on and on…

He shows me every day that He is God and NO matter what, each day is BEAUTIFUL!

I just have to look past the DIFFICULTIES, so I can see His beauty!

He shows me beauty through…

-hurting children asking Jesus into their hearts

-prayers those same children learn to whisper

-all the kids singing worship songs instead of fighting in the van

-two of them holding hands and playing well together for at least 10 minutes

-a rare day of fun and quietness at the park

-the giggles that happen oh so rarely and the few and far between hugs and kisses (We learn to cherish each and every single giggle, hug, and kiss!)

-and THIS list could go on and on…

There is BEAUTY in the ASHES!

We just have to be willing to focus on the beauty instead of the CHAOS that surrounds us. We have to learn to breathe and stay CALM no matter what!

What most would call absolute CHAOS, God has chosen for us to call our FAMILY.

YES! The days are DIFFICULT, but they are also BEAUTIFUL! And, for that, I am grateful. God is so good and merciful to us! He is ABLE!

Isaiah 61:3 – To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”

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Happy 9th Birthday to One Awesome Boy!

Dear James,

Happy 9th birthday sweet boy! You are growing up too fast. The past 9 years have flown by, but they have been great years because you have been a part of them.

I always know I can depend on you to give me a hug every single day. You tell me you love me just as often. I am so grateful. You make my days so much brighter. There are so many things that I love about you.

I love that you still like building with legos. I couldn’t ever create the things you come up with. You are so smart! I know the trip we took to Legoland Beach Resort and Legoland Theme Park were a dream come true for you!

I love that you want to learn more and more about nature. You have taught me so much about God’s creation. You have made me smarter!

I love that you take everything literally, and you want to make the right decisions just because it is what you are supposed to do.

I love that you want to make all the babies laugh. It shows that you have so much love for them. I love that you think of others and buy your brothers and sisters presents any time you earn money. You are always trying to make others happy. You don’t like for anyone to feel left out.

But, most importantly, I love you just because you are you. You blew me away not so long ago when you told me that God saved your life the day you were born because He has a special plan for you. Having that figured out at such a young age is awesome, buddy! I can’t wait to see all the great things He has in store for you. Don’t ever change! Stay just the way you are. There is one thing I know for sure, no matter where God takes you, you will always be my Baby James. Happy 9th Birthday one more time!

Love Always,

Mommy 💚

James’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 9

What is your favorite food? pizza

What do you hope you never have to eat again? brussel sprouts

What is your favorite thing to do? play with legos

What is your favorite animal? every animal

What makes you happy? Mommy

What is the best memory from when you were 8? going to Florida

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 9? fish

What would you like to be when you grow up? lego creator

What is your favorite song? any Christian song

Where is your favorite place to eat? Mexican

What is your favorite book? lego books

Where would you like to go on vacation? Florida

What would you like the world to know? everyone needs to go to church

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Happy 4th Birthday Sweet Boy

Dear Jayce,

What a miracle you are sweet boy! The Lord uses your birthday every year to remind me how incredibly blessed we are. He has brought us through so much the past 4 years.

I could not begin to even explain everything He has done for us these past 4 years. But, one major miracle is that no one can even tell you were born nearly 12 weeks early. The only evidence left is one long scar across your left ankle from an infiltrated IV. Even that ankle hasn’t needed surgery like the doctors anticipated. God is so good.

He also made the extra fluid between your brain and skull disappear after we had been told it would always be there. Our God is bigger than extra fluid. He is the great physician.

We praise His name for allowing us to celebrate you today. We had a blast at your PJ Masks party. Thankfully you had your brothers and sisters and grandparents to celebrate with.

It was so cute that you kept finding toys and things around the house to wrap for your daddy and me. You wanted to make sure we had presents just like you. You wanted us to feel special on your big day.

You are one of the sweetest boys I know. It melts my heart each time you say, “I love you so so much, Mommy.” And, I love to hear you pray at each and every meal.

I know you are going to do great things in this life. The Lord saved you and healed you for a reason. I can’t wait to see how He calls you to serve Him. We love you more than you could ever imagine. Stay sweet baby boy! Stay sweet.

Love Always,

Mommy ❤

Jayce’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 4

What is your favorite food? cupcakes and watermelon

What do you hope you never have to eat again? peas

What is your favorite thing to do? working on the barn with daddy

What is your favorite animal? monkey

What makes you happy? God

What is the best memory from when you were 3? playing and eating ice cream

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 4? play on my roller coaster

What would you like to be when you grow up? policeman

What is your favorite song? Jesus Loves Me

Where is your favorite place to eat? McDonalds

What is your favorite book? PJ Masks

Where would you like to go on vacation? Bald Head Island

What would you like the world to know? Jesus loves Jacob Stillwell and me.

Matthew 14:14 – And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

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Happy 14th Birthday to our Oldest!

Dear Jacob,

Fourteen! Really! You are really fourteen years old? It’s so hard to believe. So far, you have made the teenage years so easy. I’m so grateful.

I have loved watching you grow into a young man. It seems so strange to look up to you each day. You have surely outgrown your mama. But, that’s a good thing.

I love your passion for the Lord and listening to you sing in the teen choir at church. You are such a humble boy that loves learning more about the Lord each day. You have sacrificed so much for your younger brothers and sisters. Your patience and giving of your time doesn’t go unnoticed. I appreciate you taking the time to teach them and help them as they grow.

You don’t hesitate to bring them along as you explore different hobbies like collecting old bottles, digging for fossils, or metal detecting. They really look up to you. And, you sweet boy are a wonderful role model. Thanks for always being here for all of us. We love you to Pluto and back. Don’t ever lose sight of the things that really matter.

Love Always,

Mommy ❤

Jacob’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 14

What is your favorite food? Crab Legs

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Blue Cheese

What is your favorite thing to do? Search for old bottles

What is your favorite animal? Border Collie

What makes you happy? Finding old bottles

What is the best memory from when you were 13? Getting to adopt a brother

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 14? Find an arrowhead

What would you like to be when you grow up? Firefighter

What is your favorite song? When Love Broke Through by TobyMac

Where is your favorite place to eat? Red Lobster

What is your favorite book? The Adventures of Arty Anderson

Where would you like to go on vacation? Bald Head Island

What would you like the world to know? How to get saved

James 1:17 –Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

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Happy 6th Birthday to Our Fiesty Little Girl

Dear Jayla,

This day six years ago, we welcomed you into our family. You were so perfect even if you became a NICU baby! You broke us in right from the beginning. You let your fiesty little attitude shine through from day one.

You are a tough one, sweet girl. And, we are so proud of how you stand up for what is right. We love that you have the desire to always go after what you set your mind to.

We know with God’s help, you are going to go far. You are not a quitter, and you capture everyone with your huge smile. You always have a song coming from your heart.

Don’t ever change your big personality. It really keeps us going. Thanks for loving all of us so well. We love you more than you could ever imagine!

Love Always,

Mommy

 

Jayla’s birthday interview:

How old are you? 6

What is your favorite food? Cake

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Green Beans

What is your favorite thing to do? I like to play with dolls.

What is your favorite animal? Giraffe

What makes you happy? Birthdays

What is the best memory from when you were 5? Gymnastics

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 6? Get a WellieWisher House

What would you like to be when you grow up? A doctor

What is your favorite song? What Can Wash Away My Sins

Where is your favorite place to eat? Chick-Fil-A

What is your favorite book? Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

Where would you like to go on vacation? Disney

What would you like the world to know? About Jesus Christ

Pslam 105:2 – Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

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Dementia: You are not my Friend

I do not like you. You are not my friend. You are not welcome here. I would rather you take a hike. But, I know that’s not going to happen. You aren’t leaving. You are here to stay.

You have robbed me of so much. Not just me, but my whole family. You have taken away every memory she made, every thought she just had, and every memory that she still has to make.

She doesn’t know me. She recognizes my face. But, she doesn’t know who I am. She doesn’t know my children.

She doesn’t remember the day I was born.

She doesn’t remember all the times she picked me up from school and cooked me homemade meals.

She has forgotten all the Easters and coloring Easter eggs. It was her favorite holiday, I believe. She enjoyed getting out the special tablecloth and all the supplies. The room would always fill with excitement each year as all of us grandchildren and great-grandchildren made special designs.

She has no idea where she used to live or how we would play on the swings or in the woods for hours. She doesn’t remember the mailbox flowers.

She has no recollection of all the beach vacations. A time of rest and relaxation that she loved more than anything. It was the one chance each year when we all could let go and just have fun being together.

She has no idea that I got married and she asks how I ended up with all these children. She doesn’t recall the excitement as each addition happened.

She’s just so confused. She’s confused all the time. She’s upset. She’s crying. At times, she wants me to stay and begs me to take her with me. She bangs on the hidden exit door. Where does she want to go? She doesn’t know. She would go anywhere but where she is at the moment. Or, she wants me to leave the minute I get there. She’s agitated and just wants to be left alone. There aren’t many happy moments anymore. Thanks dementia. Thanks a lot!

Dementia – I will not let you win. I will not ask God why. I refuse to let the suffocation of fear overtake me as I wonder if I will be just like her one day. Will I remember all the memories I am making with my children or future grandchildren? Will they all be in vain?

Dementia – Despite how difficult you make each day and the tremendous loss that you make me feel, you are helping my children and me learn how to love without the thought of return. You are showing us that each day matters.

Sometimes, I wish I would have done things differently before things got so bad. I should have went to visit more often. Eventhough you, Dementia, were making things unbearable. I now realize that wasn’t an excuse.

You aren’t an excuse to push her aside or make the wrong choices just because you make things so hard. So today, I choose to make the best of what you have left me with. I choose to love my grandmother no matter how sad you make me, or no matter how much you make me want to hide and scream. I choose to love and show others how to love through such a horrible disease.

So, take that dementia! She might not remember all the memories we shared, but I do. And, I will focus on the good ones. The ones built out of love.

And, even though you have taken my grandmother and made her into someone completely different, we still have a lot of memories to make. Memories to make from the true definition of love. You will not win this battle. God’s got this, and He will carry all of us through. He knows her needs and ours. We will praise Him in the storm of this uphill battle.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

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Happy Birthday Little One

Today we celebrated your big number 1!

 

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Although our days with you haven’t been many, our love for you has grown with each morning light.

Your smile is so contiguous and your eyes sparkle with delight!

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We trust that God is working out what is best because we know His ways are always right.

We are thankful that He’s allowing us to watch you each day and night.

Happy 1st Birthday one last time. I pray we will always be able to keep God’s Word in your sight.

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We will love you forever sweet chubby cheeks!!

Proverbs 3:5-6- Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

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Why?

Why? Why do I continue to subject myself and my family to the uneasiness, uncertainty, and the heartache that comes along with being a family who cares for innocent children in foster care?

I don’t enjoy all the feelings and emotions that come with the un words. Those words don’t make me feel all fuzzy inside. They downright make me feel UN-happy a lot of the time. Thankfully my joy comes from the creator, but fostering can be down right difficult leaving me asking Why? so many times.

Why do I keep having a desire to help children in need when our system is so broken? Why do I have a desire that hurts so badly and seems so wrong much of the time? The desire to help children whose parents are addicted often brings a big mess of chaos to my life, my husband’s life, and my children’s lives. We all get hurt physically and mentally at times. It would be so much easier to just say no. It would be so much easier to say, “Sorry, we can’t care for these children with life long disabilities due to neglect and abuse.” But, we don’t say no. Not all the time. Sometimes a placement isn’t a right fit, which brings a whole new world of hurt. But, we say yes when the Lord leads us because of the children: the deeply, hurting innocent children who are born into sinful brokenness.

We all must realize sinful addictive behaviors can’t be mended overnight. Yes, we all sin. I hate sin. I hate my sin. As Christians, we should hate sin and feel great conviction when we do sin. But, there is a problem bigger than all of us when habitual offenders don’t see their darkness and have mistaken their sinful habits for light. Have we hid our light from them? Do we reward their darkness and call it light?

Life gets difficult for all those around when we don’t call sin what it is. I’m not judging. Please know I’m not. My heart breaks for those who can’t see the light because I know how freeing the Light of this World is! He freed me from the darkness that this world offers. And, as long as we are willing to share Him, He can free those around us in deep dark sin, too. The burden of addiction is not too great for our God. We have to do our part. We have to tell others about the great I Am!

We can blame a broken down system time and time again, but the brokenness these children are born into starts at home. We as followers of Jesus Christ have to step up and get the Word out to those crippled by addiction. This horrible cycle of babies being born addicted and suffering awful withdrawal symptoms has to stop. These families need to be raising their children. That is God’s perfect plan.The abuse and neglect has to be stopped by the light.

But it never will be until we step up and spread the Good News across this nation. If you don’t think America is in trouble, read Facebook comments on anything pertaining to Christianity, politics, or a simple faith based television show. I have to click off of those posts. The comments are down right disgusting, and they mostly have no regard to the feelings of others whatsoever. So many people these days are so against Jesus Christ, and they aren’t ashamed to let the world know from behind their screens.

We live in a day where technology has taken over and given too many people a voice. Too many people want to be heard. It’s a sad time we live in. What is going to cause a change? What is going to change the hate, the children being abused, the drug addictions, the violence? What can mend a broken system?

The church. Jesus Christ. The gospel. The good news. Christians doing the job that the Lord gave them. I admit I have failed miserably at sharing Christ with others. I want to get upset instead of show love. My fleshly desires are not pretty. But, no matter how much we all fail, Jesus Christ is the only way to see a change in this world. We have to stop making excuses. People are dying and going to Hell every day. People are killing others and themselves because we aren’t being the missionaries God has asked us to be.

Babies are going to be born addicted, moms and dads are going to take those babies home and abuse and neglect them while looking for their next high, the local department of social services is going to remove children from their first families after the damage has been done, foster families are going to continue to feel hurt, abandonment, and sadness because of broken families and a broken system all while falling in love with suffering children that very possibly could be moved at any given time until we say enough is enough. Nothing will be different until we decide to be the change the world needs by sharing Jesus Christ with those who are hurting the most. We can’t expect darkness to change unless we share the light.

Foster families put our hearts on our sleeves knowing they will be shattered. It is just what we are expected to do. It will never get easier. Not until we stand up and move forward by letting the world know that Jesus is the answer! We have to stop letting fear and worry control us. We can do this together. We can fight the evil in this world with the Light. Let’s band together and be the change all these children and families need in this broken world. Let’s say yes to children in need. Let’s be loving and kind to their families. Let’s not be afraid to show them what true victory in Christ looks like. He loves us all the same, and He has a desire for His children to walk in truth. We have to have that same desire! We have to let Him be the change so many desperately need.

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John 8:12 – Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

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Top 5 Reasons Not to Become a Foster Parent

Being a foster parent isn’t easy. It’s actually one of the most difficult tasks the Lord has ever called me to. So, today, I am going to list the top 5 reasons why you should not consider becoming a foster parent.

Do NOT become a foster parent:

1) If communicable diseases and lice scare you – (Due to the drug epidemic in our country, it is highly likely that the children placed in your home will have been exposed to communicable diseases such as hepatitus, TB, MRSA, etc.)

2) If changing your parenting style to meet the needs of children who have experienced trauma isn’t on your radar (Children who have experienced abuse and neglect and have been exposed to drugs and alcohol have different needs than typically developing children who have lived in a loving home their whole lives.)

3) If the idea of sacrificing time from your schedule to take the children to parental visits, weekly therapy and doctor appointments, court dates, family partnership meetings, etc. doesn’t seem fun and if uncertain timetables seem daunting (When you say yes to a child in foster care, you never know how long he or she will stay. It could be a few days, a few years, or forever.)

4) If taking hot bubble baths with candles lit and a book in hand while you sip hot chocolate is your idea of the perfect way to unwind each night. (Give it up. It ain’t going to happen.)

5) If you enjoy getting a full 8 hours of sleep each night (Nope! Don’t even count on it. Children who have experienced trauma Do Not Sleep Well! They have night terrors. Who can blame them?)

Okay! There’s my list. But, I’m not finished. I won’t leave you hanging. Here it goes.

The Top 5 Reasons Why YOU Should Become a Foster Parent 

Do BECOME a foster parent if:

1) You trust God to protect your family from communicable diseases (He will! What time I’m afraid, I will trust in thee. Psalm 56:3)

2) You trust God to give you strength and equip you with the ability to parent a child who has experienced trauma, abuse, and neglect (Don’t get caught up in a power struggle. Do what works for each child. They need love and secruity! I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13)

3) You trust God to plan out your days and understand that His timing and plans are perfect (God will take care of the anxiousness that comes with daunting appointments and uncertain time tables. Jesus might just use you to show hope to a broken family! Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6) 

4) You understand that taking a quick shower will get you just as clean as a long bubble bath and missing a shower every once in awhile hasn’t ever hurt anyone. (Think of the new mom syndrome! You will enjoy nice long bubble baths when your kids are grown. You have something to look forward to! Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and he shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:28-29)

5) You realize you can live off of a limited amount of sleep (It can be done! Sleep is overrated. These children probably haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep since their birth. They deserve to feel safe. Their sleep patterns do get better the longer they are in your home. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Proverbs 3:24)

There you have it! The good far outweighs any bad that might be imagined. Remember these children are not monsters! They need a chance at life. There are no bad children! They didn’t ask to be handed the life thrown at them. None of the things they have experienced is their fault.

If the Lord is calling you to help children in need, consider becoming a foster parent. There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Will you make a difference in a child’s life?

These children need hope. And, that hope comes from Jesus Christ. Don’t be afraid. Just do it! You will fail. You will feel helpless and worthless. You WILL want to quit and give up. But, God will get you through. Don’t take your eyes off of Him! Be the change these children need. The sacrifices are worth it. Your life will be changed for the better. The best things in life come from true sacrifice and trusting the Lord! Step out on faith.

A restless generation
We’re turning over every stone
Hoping to find salvation
In a world that’s left us cold
Can we get back to the altar?
Back to the arms of our first love
There’s only one way to the Father
And He’s calling out to us
To the captive, it looks like freedom
To the orphan, it feels like home
To the skeptic, it might sound crazy
To believe in a God who loves
In a world, where our hearts are breaking
And we’re lost in the mess we’ve made
Like a blinding light, in the dead of night
It’s the Gospel
The Gospel that makes a way
It’s the Gospel that makes a way
By: Ryan Stevenson

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Ephesians 4:2 –

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

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An Adoption Party with Lilo and Stitch

AJ loves Stitch. So, when we decided to go to Disney during his “gotcha” week, I knew we had to schedule an adoption party with Lilo and Stitch at Ohana. Mickey Mouse and Pluto joined us, too. We are thankful that some special friends helped make this celebration possible!

 

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AJ has been with our family for 2 years now! It’s about time we got to celebrate!! If you know our family well or have read some of the other posts on this blog, you already know that we didn’t officially adopt AJ until this past October (2017). He lived with us, and we fell in love with him for 21 months before his adoption was final. But, January 27th was the two year anniversary of him being delivered to our home. It can all be a little confusing.

 

 

If anyone deserves to have his life celebrated, it is our sweet boy. He has the cutest little personality. And, what better place to celebrate than the happiest place on Earth at Ohana?

 

20180203_105821Ohana means family. And family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. We love AJ being a part of our family. He is our precious son and a wonderful brother to his siblings. There would never be enough words to describe how much love we all have for him.

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20180203_102012Adopting him into our family changed our lives for the better. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to hold back the tears when I think about what a gift he is from God.

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20180203_103320If your family has been praying about adopting, and you feel God leading you down that path, do it. Your relationship with the Lord will only become stronger because of it. The entire process, especially the uncertainties and waiting, isn’t always easy, but some of the best things in life aren’t easy. God doesn’t ask us to do easy things for Him. He asks us to get out of our comfort zone and have faith that we can do what He asks us to do. If he hasn’t called your family to adopt, maybe he is asking you to help a family who is by praying for them or helping them financially. I know any family who is adopting would be grateful.

20180203_103010Our family would love to be given the opportunity to add more children through adoption one day. We are praying about a special request right now. And, we were also asked to take in two children from foster care this past Thursday. That would have made 6 boys and 2 girls for us. But, since we were on vacation and couldn’t pick the children up that night, it didn’t work out.

But, whether our special prayer request works out (Please pray with us. It is actually a pretty big deal that can bring anxiousness the more we dwell on it. I wish I could share, but I can’t right now.) Or, whether the Lord sends us another child(ren) through foster care or strictly through adoption is all in His hands. And, if He doesn’t have another child for us, we trust Him. He is the only one who knows what’s best. For the moment, we are enjoying officially being a family of 8.

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James 1:27 – Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

 

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We weren’t planning on visiting a park on a Saturday, but the two little boys getting sick on Monday night changed our plans a little. All of the parks are crazy busy on the weekends. But, with all of our fast passes, we still managed to have an enjoyable day at Animal Kingdom. (If you are planning a visit, make sure you get your fast passes secure way in advance or you won’t be getting any. They get taken quickly).

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We headed to the Lion King show first. It was an interactive show in Africa. We all really liked it. Jaden and Jayla got to participate in the show.

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Next, a few of us watched It’s Tough to be a Bug. It’s a cute 4-D film, but it isn’t for all children. It has a few scary parts. Jayla is 5 and did pretty well, but the little boys and even James who is 8 wouldn’t have liked it. We had to make a decision based on each child’s personality.

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After the film, the older kids, Jamie, Ken, and I headed to Avatar Flight of Passage. It is an awesome ride. If you ever have the chance, ride it. It was even a little better than Soarin at Epcot. And, Soarin was one of our favorites. Get a fast pass though because the line can be over a 3 hour wait!!

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While the older kids rode Thunder Mountain, I took the smaller ones to see all the different animals on the paths throughout the park.

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James was especially interested in seeing the animals. He has always loved learning about the animals all over the world. He told me that if he wants to see every animal in the whole world then he will actually have to visit each country because he knows they can’t put every single animal in a zoo. Sounds like he has a lot of traveling to do one day.

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We all rode Na’vi River Journey together. It was a pretty neat ride, but I wouldn’t suggest standing in a really long line for it. (Get a fast pass if you can because it isn’t really worth wasting two hours in line. We had fast passes, so we got right on.)

Next, the kids headed to DinoLand U.S.A. They were able to ride all of the rides in that area before heading to the Safari. James was not thrilled about riding Dinosaur, but he toughed it out. He did hide his face the entire time, but I was proud of him for trying. It is pretty intense especially for kids who are frightened easily. Jayla was fine, but as I said before, she has a high tolerance for things. She is my most outgoing child for sure.

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By the time we finished with DinoLand, it was after dark, and it was nearing closing time. We rushed to the Safari and got in our jeep just in time. The Safari focuses on the wild animals of Africa. We were able to see hyenas, elephants, giraffes, lions, and several other animals. Of course it was dark, so we couldn’t see really well, but we are glad we took the time to do it. We couldn’t get our times worked out to take the ride before dark, but if we ever get to visit again, we will be getting a fast pass earlier in the day if at all possible.

We ended our day at Rainforest Cafe on Animal Kingdom property. Most of the kids fell asleep while they were eating. Literally! We were all so tired. But, like I mentioned earlier, we had a great day together.

(You almost need two days to do everything in this park unless you arrive at opening. We arrived around 11:30, and we were exhausted by closing at 8. So, I don’t know if we would have made it from opening to closing with all the kids. The walking back and forth from each land even made the older kids tired. Keep in mind this was our last park on this trip, and if you do Legoland and all 4 Disney parks in a row, you are going to be tired by the last day. The tiredness was worth it though! We made a lot of memories that I know the kids will remember for a long time.)

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wdw2018034927637704_408513452525_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-regGenesis 1:31 – And God saw everything that he made, and, behold, it was very good.

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A Day at Epcot

We visited Epcot on Friday. The older kids took turns exploring the park with Jamie and their Neannie and Pawpaw for most of the day. The smaller kids and I joined them for the afternoon. We were too exhausted from Magic Kingdom to get out early.

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Although Epcot doesn’t have a lot for younger children, and our little ones slept through most of it, I’m glad we went. We enjoyed all the rides and going to all the different countries.

 

Jaden had been looking forward to Epcot since she learned that we were going to Disney. She wanted her picture taken in each country. The teacher in me thinks it is a great place to take your school age children. There are a lot of cultures to learn about.

 

If you get to the different countries early enough in the day, you can see a lot of the  princesses. We missed most of them.  But, we did see Sleeping Beauty and Elsa and Anna.

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wdw2018034927106321_408494063618_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-regThe Soarin and Frozen rides are two of the best rides in all of the Disney World Parks. Snag those fast passes early for both of them. You won’t regret it! Jacob and Jaden probably rode Soarin at least 3 times. We would have ridden Frozen again if we had had time.

 

wdw2018034927098762_8169877943_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg.jpegEpcot is the park to go to if you are tired or just need a break. If you only have small children, you won’t need a full day in Epcot, but the older kids and adults could easily spend an entire day or two there. We are all looking forward to visiting it again soon.

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Galatians 3:26 – For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

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A Busy Day at Magic Kingdom

Yesterday we tackled Magic Kingdom. It is clearly the park to go to if you have younger kids. It is very over the top and fun for them. I really like it a lot myself. However, it is always very very very crowded even in the off season. The crowd predictors have been way off on the crowd levels this year. Yesterday the crowd was predicted to be at a 3, and it actually came out to a 6 out of 10.

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We still managed to have an awesome time. After meeting talking Mickey, Tomorrowland was where we started off our day.

wdw2018032925968491_408458690359_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg.jpgThe older kids loved Space Mountain. They would have ridden it all day if the lines hadn’t been so long. The Buzz Lightyear ride was a hit, too.

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After we finished all the rides in Tomorrowland, we headed to watch the parade. We had read several Disney stories or watched the movies before we came. The parade helped the stories come to life for them.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was a chapter book that we read together during the month of January. Alice has became one of their favorite characters.

We all watched Dumbo a few days before we left for our trip. It is one of my favorite childhood movies. We didn’t have a chance to ride the Dumbo ride, so I’m glad they got to see his float in the parade. 20180201_152144All of the floats are over the top and nicely done. We were glad we took time to watch the parade. All the kids enjoyed it.

After the parade, we met Cinderella and Elena. Jayla had just fallen asleep while we were in line, so it wasn’t the best time to get to meet them. She would have rather taken a nap. But, she tried really hard to smile. She got to finish her nap right after the pictures were snapped.

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While all the little kids napped, we checked out Tom Sawyer Island and Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. We also read both of these chapter books as a family before our trip.

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We liked both books, but the older kids liked Swiss Family Robinson the best. They have their own secret “home” in the woods on our farm that they visit very frequently. All of the things they have made for their outdoor home are amazing. They even have it divided into rooms and have made a broom from evergreen leaves and a large stick. Kids need to be creative, and they will be if we give them the chance.

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My oldest two kids would choose to live this way everyday if they could. They love the outdoors and adventures. I know they got more ideas for their “house” by seeing this one.

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Next, Jaden and I hopped on the Magic Carpet ride. Her favorite characters are Jasmine and Aladdin. The silly camel spit water directly in my face. So, if you ever ride this ride, be aware. We hadn’t ever ridden it before. It was fun though!

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Fantasyland was our last stop for rides at the end of the day. We rode Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, It’s A Small World, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Jayla’s favorite was Peter Pan. Jayce loved It’s a Small World, and AJ really liked the Winnie the Pooh ride. All of us “older” kids chose the mine train for our favorite. But, they all were great fun rides!

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(We read the first Winnie The Pooh chapter book in January, too. It was actually included as a read aloud in our Sonlight curriculum. All the kids were eager to explore Winnie the Pooh’s house and ride the ride. We plan on reading the second chapter book when we return home.)

20180201_191615 (My phone was about to lose charge, so I didn’t get good pictures on Peter Pan.)

By the time we finished the rides in Fantasyland, it was time for the fireworks. We grabbed a bite to eat at Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant and watched them from the back side of the castle. It was a great spot to be away from the crowds.

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All in all we had a very busy but magical day!

wdw2018032925865096_8169116927_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg(Pre-teens and teens really do love Disney, too. This has been a great trip for our oldest two. So, if you think your kids are too old, they aren’t! They will have a wonderful time!)

Notes: If you really want to experience everything in Magic Kingdom have a plan in place before you enter the park! We used touringplans.com. Also, you need at least two full days or you could spread it out over 3 days. That means you need to stay at least 6 days because you will want to visit the other parks, too. There were several rides and places we didn’t even make it to. All three youngest took at least a 2 hour nap in the middle of the day. So, if you are traveling with smaller kids, keep in mind that they will need a break! If I had it to do over again, we would have went to a special Magic Kingdom after hours event and then got park hoppers so we could have visited Magic Kingdom several times before the trip was over. Don’t forget to secure your fast passes at least a month before your trip. They get booked up quickly. Magic Kingdom is not a magical place without them!

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Hollywood Studios Rewind

Yesterday we visited Hollywood Studios. AJ still had a slight cough, so we took turns keeping him at the house. Out of all the Disney parks, this was the one I didn’t mind him missing because it is definitely geared towards older kids and adults.

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Children 3, 4, and 5 aka James, Jayla, and Jayce were ready to go after about 2 hours. They wanted to ride rides, and there was only one ride for their age group: Toy Story. We all loved it!

20180131_184309.jpgWe watched a few shows such as The Little Mermaid, Frozen, and Disney Junior. They liked Disney Junior the most because it was interactive.

20180131_132704.jpgThey got to meet Doc Mcstuffins. She did really well with them. Her set design was so cute.

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After all of that was said and done it was just after lunch and James got a huge ice cream cone while Jayce and Jayla took a nap. Jayla swam for about 5 hours on Tuesday, and she was just really tired. She decided to purchase as few princess toys and go back to the house with Neannie and Pawpaw. Thank the Lord for Neannie and Pawpaw!! They kept the youngest 4 kids for the rest of the afternoon so Jamie and I could enjoy the park with the oldest two.

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Jacob is into Star Wars, and there are a lot of attractions geared toward those movies at Hollywood Studios. There are also several larger thrill seeking rides, which was perfect for Jacob. Jaden will do most of the scarier rides, but she would not do Tower of Terror. And, I don’t blame her. Thankfully Pawpaw Ken took Jacob at least 3 or 4 times before he left for the day. The lines were no more than 20 minutes of wait time all day except for Toy Story, and we were able to get fast passes for it.

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Jaden really liked watching Beauty and the Beast and meeting all the characters. I know Jayla would have loved Beauty and the Beast as well, but she slept through it. Oh well! Maybe next time.

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After enjoying the park all day, we decided to eat at the Sci-fi Dine-in Theatre. I was concerned that the movies might be a little scary, but they weren’t at all. They were mostly funny little clips of 1950s movies. We had a great time eating together. The food and service were wonderful. The chef even made me a special dressing because of all my problems that come along with my autoimmune disease. They are so accommodating at Disney. The cast members go out of their way to make sure your trip is special.

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After dinner, we watched the Star Wars fireworks and headed home. All in all we had a great day especially the older kids.

As a mom with several kids 8 and under, our next visit I will get park hoppers simply because there isn’t a lot for the younger kids to do at Hollywood Studios. You could easily do a half a day at Hollywood Studios and then move on to another park (in the less crowded off season). If we only had the two oldest, a park hopper wouldn’t have really mattered because they enjoyed staying in the park from open to close. And, I enjoyed getting to spend so much time with them especially the last 5 hours of the day when all the little ones were back at the house playing. I hear Toy Story Land is coming soon, so I bet it will be geared toward younger kids. If so, I am sure they would want to stay longer and a park hopper probably wouldn’t be necessary. I guess we will just have to wait and see!

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Psalm 118:24 – This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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A Change in Plans

Yesterday, the little boys weren’t feeling the best, so we decided to take a day off to let them rest. James had a virus a few days before we left for our vacation, and they have had the same exact symptoms. You know how kids like to share germs. Right?

Even though we had to push our plans back a day, it became a blessing. The older kids played in the pool at our house nearly all day.

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Then, that afternoon, I took Jaden, Jayla, and Jacob on a carriage ride around Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. It was nice just to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

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After the ride, we met up with Jamie and James and went to the campfire in the campground. We roasted smores over the open flames. And, we met Chip and Dale there! We all sang campfire songs as we danced the night away! Talk about a good time!!

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Our best laid out plans aren’t ever as good as what God has planned for us. He gave us all a much needed day of rest. And, he provided an opportunity for Jamie and me to spend quality time with our 4 oldest. My mom and Ken watched the two littlest boys for us so we could have a fun night out! Thanks guys!! ❤

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Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

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Legoland Florida Theme Park

Today we started off with a free breakfast inside the Lighthouse at the Legoland Beach Retreat. It was a great breakfast with a wide variety of food. The kids ate really well.

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After breakfast, we headed to the theme park. The day was so nice. The weather was perfect and the lines were super short! We really didn’t wait more than 5 minutes most of the day.

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Each child seemed to have favorite parts of the park. Jayla and Jaden were excited about seeing the characters from Lego Friends. Jayla also loved riding a few roller coasters. This was a first for her.

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AJ loved Duplo Valley. Jayce slept through that section, but I know he would have liked it as well. There were plenty of other rides that he got to ride.

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James said he loved