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 every part of the whole park. He plays with Legos a lot at home. I think he really liked exploring the Lego cities. He has a very creative mind, so I know his wheels were turning. He didn’t want to ride the bigger rides like the older kids, but he still enjoyed his day. Sometimes I forget that he is only 8, and it is okay that roller coasters still seem scary to him. There were more rides geared towards his age anyway.

Jacob really enjoyed all the larger rides. He is my thrill seeker and isn’t really scared of anything. He always tells me that I worry too much. I’ve gotten over a lot of fears though. Life is too short to be worrying all the time. He liked the Lost Kingdom Adventure and Flying School the most. He is always so good about riding the rides with the younger kids, too. He wants to make their day special. Jaden is the same way. They love seeing their siblings happy.

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All the different sections were really neat and worth exploring. All the kids said they want to come back again one day. As a mom, I highly recommend it. The day was so peaceful and fun for the kids. The layout of the park is really nice and well thought out.

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20180129_115147It is geared toward kids 12 and under. If you love huge roller coasters, it might not be for your family. Our day was planned strictly for the kids to enjoy. And, they all had a great time!

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(Jayce was literally asleep standing up in this picture. He took a long nap right after this. 😴)

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A Ride through the Sky and Legoland Beach Retreat

We are so excited to be celebrating the fact that AJ joined our family 2 years ago this week. Some families call the day “Gotcha Day.” Others choose names such as “Family Day” or “Adoption Day.” To us, the name really isn’t important, and the day he came to us was many many months before the day his adoption was final. So, he will get to celebrate at two separate times each year plus he will have a birthday celebration on top of that!

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Some find the “Gotcha” celebration controversial, but for our family, this week is so important. His life is worth celebrating! Every life is! Life is a gift from God. And, if it wasn’t for the foster to adopt journey, he might not have even made it to see this day. God has worked many miracles in his life.

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We always want him to know that he is loved so so much. Does he have to have a trip filled with awesome adventures to show him how much we love him? Of course not! Is it a good way to bond as a family and make special memories? Yes, of course it is!

We understand all too well that adoption comes with loss, and it isn’t hidden that his birth family continues to need our prayers. We feel the trauma almost daily. He will possibly live with life long disabilities due to the circumstances he lived in before coming to us. But, we choose to forgive and hopefully his birth family understands how much we care for them and love them. He will always be a part of them. We pray for their healing! God wants them to be healed, and so do we!

AJ is still young, and he doesn’t understand it all, but we pray he will grow up seeing God’s hand in His life. We pray he always understands that God’s plans and purposes for his life are always the best. We have a great desire for him to see his birth family healed and walking with the Lord. But, we also know it is all in God’s hands, and He already knows when and if they will be willing to walk the path He has chosen for them. We pray that God will bring our boy comfort and peace no matter the outcome.

Despite the hurt and loss, we want to stay focused on the positive sides of adoption providing AJ the support and love he needs along the way.  We want to celebrate all the Lord has done in his life. We want to make a big deal of what a miracle he is as long as he feels comfortable doing it. We will follow his lead. So far, he isn’t complaining about the fun, attention, and family time he’s being immersed with.

FB_IMG_1516589052425So, on to our first big day of our week long trip! We started off with a short plane ride to Florida. It was so much fun. I used to get nervous flying. But, we are in God’s hands. We don’t need to worry about our future. And, honestly, I feel like flying is safer than driving 13 hours in the 12 passenger van with 6 kids. AJ and I sang songs, clapped, and took pictures until he fell off to sleep. He curled up with Daddy for the last part of the flight.

 

Right when we got off the plane, we hopped in the rental and headed to Legoland Beach Retreat.

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This part of the trip was a gift from my dad. The kids opened a package at Christmas with Legos, a Lego themed shirt, and a picture of the Legoland Beach Resorts. James loves Legos and wants to design new Lego sets as a career one day. So, he was very excited about his gift.

 

The kids have really enjoyed Legoland Beach Retreat so far. There have been plenty of things for them to do, and the staff has been great.

 

The older kids had a fun time in the pool – even if it was pouring the rain. You have to love Florida weather. Swimming in the rain in January! Why not?

 

Tomorrow we will hit the Legoland Theme Park. But, for now, we are going to call it a night.

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(By the way, we got a pretty big discount on tickets with the homeschool rate. If you homeschool, you should seriously check it out!!)

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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When God Says Wait After He has said Yes

Sometimes God puts a desire so strongly on our hearts that it’s hard to wait on His perfect timing. Anxious fears creep up in the waiting. Insecurities place a cloud of doubt right over our heads.

The what ifs speak louder than the faith and hope of the one who called us and gave us the burning desire to begin with.

What if He just asked our family to do this to see if we would say yes, but in the end He’s not going to bring it to pass?

What if He decides to say no despite the many many many prayers that have been prayed over this issue for more than a year?

What if those in control of the situation don’t see things the same way we see it?

What if? What if? What if?

Then God says, “Hush my child. My will will be done. I am the one in control. If I want to bring it to pass, it will happen at the most perfect time. If I do not bring it to pass, you were willing, and that’s all I ask. But, trust me to work out all of the details.”

Fear – a 4 letter word that steals our joy.

Hope – a 4 letter word that brings all joy and peace through the power of the Holy Ghost

We must be faithful. We must say yes when God puts a longing and desire on our heart. We must choose hope instead of fear. We must trust that the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt can also work a great work in our lives and in the lives of those we are so desiring to help. There is so much at stake and the waiting is so difficult.

But, we must sit back and expect a great unfolding from the Great I Am! He’s the only one who calls us to do His work, and He’s the only one who can and will bring it to pass.

We must trust and obey and watch God do amazing things. Today, I choose to believe that commitment to the Lord and trust will bring this giant in front of us down in His perfect timing. If it’s meant to be, it will happen and nothing can get in His way. Nothing can stop Him.

And if He doesn’t bring it to pass? There is a good reason that He can see that we can’t. But, until He shows me that His plans have completely changed from the longing and desire that He placed on our hearts what seems like forever ago, I stand firm in believing that He is weaving together every detail into a beautiful story. I choose faith!

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.

Psalm 37:5 – Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

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Happy 11th Birthday to Our Oldest Girl!! 

Happy Birthday Jaden!! It’s hard to believe that 11 years have already passed. Just yesterday we were looking at your baby pictures and talking about what a beautiful baby you were. That hasn’t changed. You are still beautiful not only on the outside but more importantly on the inside. 

Really! It’s true. I get so many compliments about your sweet spirit and servant’s heart. You truly are one of a kind. The way you selflessly take care of your younger siblings melts my heart. You rarely get frustrated. It’s not always easy having 4 little ones below you. But, you handle it like a champ. Your love for them shines through every day.  

Jayce loves the nightly snuggle time with books. What a blessing to see you read to him not because you have to but because you want to! You two really are inseparable. 

You are a fantastic gymnastics teacher to Jayla and James. It brightens my day hearing Jayla squeal with delight each time you help her master a new skill. And, James is always seeking your approval. They both look up to you!

And, you always know how to make AJ belly laugh. Seeing you laugh right along with him makes your mama smile. It amazes me that you always choose to sit in the seat between him and Jayce in the van. Out of all 12 seats, you have claimed that one! They are so fortunate to have a second Mommy!!

Thanks for loving all of us so well. Even your older brother proudly calls you his sister. Isn’t it great to be able to spend so much time with your best friend? 

We all love you more than you could imagine. Thank you so much for all the help around here! Even today, on your birthday, you have went the extra mile to make sure your siblings are happy. You have willingly shared your candy and snacks, filled up sippy cups, changed diapers, and played Go-Fish with your little sister. Why?  Because you always put others before yourself. That’s what makes you so special. I appreciate you so much! Love you forever sweet girl!


Love Always, 

Mommy

P.S. – I am glad we get to spend time together on the nights all the little kids push me out of my bed! Your door is always open for your mommy. 

💜💗💜💗💜💗💜💗💜💗💜💗💜💗💜💗💜💗

Proverbs 31:29-30 – Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

Jaden’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 11
What is your favorite food? Mac and Cheese
What do you hope you never have to eat again? Mayonnaise
What is your favorite thing to do? Gymnastics
What is your favorite animal? Cats
What makes you happy? Gymnastics
What is the best memory from when you were 10? Going to the American Girl Doll Store
What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 11? Do gymnastics competitions
What would you like to be when you grow up? A gymnastics coach and an animal patrol officer
What is your favorite song? Away In A Manger
Where is your favorite place to eat? Panda Express
What is your favorite book? Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Where would you like to go on vacation? New York
What would you like the world to know? About Jesus

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When Trials become a Blessing

I listened to the song “Blessings” time and time and time again after Jayce’s premature birth and my hysterectomy. For nearly a year, I cried so many tears that it would be impossible to count them all. But, God never lost count.

He turned my tears into faith. He created a trust that helped me understand that the trial I was facing was going to be His mercy in disguise.  I had faith that one of my greatest disappointments that was causing so much aching was the revealing of a new plan that God would put before me. That faith and His mercy were finally revealed when Jayce was nearly 4 months shy of being 2 years old.

God’s love showed up on January 27, 2016. It was on that snow covered Wednesday evening that the most precious, frail, congested, dehydrated, severely underweight 4 month old baby boy was delivered to our side door by the director of our foster care agency. The sweetest little boy who was wearing newborn clothes and who was most likely experiencing withdrawal symptoms was placed in my arms.

Just a few seconds after I first held his tiny little body, he quickly began screaming from hunger pains. As his formula was being prepared, nothing I did consoled him. It was that very minute that I realized A.J. wasn’t just small and sick, but he wasn’t a typically developing 4 month old baby. And those shrill, raspy, inconsolable cries did not end for the next four days. Despite the hard battles he faced, he was perfect. Despite the neglect he had endured, he was a fighter.

We all fell in love with him the moment we saw his precious little face. It didn’t take but a few moments to understand that we were ready to do anything God asked us to in order to help him begin to thrive. Nothing that he was going through was his fault. Nothing.

God knew what A.J. needed. I trusted Him to get us through whatever was thrown our way. And, He trusted our family to nurse A.J. back to health. He trusted us to clothe him, feed him, and most importantly love him. What an honor to be used by the great Physician.

During those first few weeks, we watched A.J. gain weight literally right before our eyes. We could just see the pounds being packed on. Really! It was amazing and all God. He gained almost 4 pounds during the first 2 weeks! And, we watched him grow longer and longer. The newborn and 0-3 month clothing were put away almost as quickly as they were gotten out of storage.

                    

We not only got to watch him get bigger, but we also got to watch him learn how to trust. It took several days and hours of working with him, but he finally realized that hugs and kisses are normal. He learned not to straighten his back and pull to the right side each time we picked him up. I absolutely melted the first time he rested his head on my chest and fell asleep without a fight. At that moment, he finally accepted my love. He finally understood what it meant for someone to meet his every need right away.

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What a humbling, challenging, yet rewarding experience those first few weeks were. As the days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into nearly two years, God reminded us over and over and over again that A.J. belongs to Him.

Through the process, we all had to take deep breaths and understand that God knows all things. Early on, we had to become content with whatever He decided. We had to let go and let God. We realized how blessed we were no matter the outcome.  

Deep down we all knew how hard it would have been if we ever had to say goodbye, but we trusted the Lord to do what is best for our precious little guy. He’s the only one who knows what he needs! He’s the only one who knows where he belongs. 

  

  

  

  

We are glad that God is in control of such life changing decisions. We could have never made such an important decision for our little guy or our family.

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Our sweet boy has been loved more than words can express for the past 21 months, and today God changed A.J.’s last name! Today he was adopted!! 💟

Longsuffering always brings forth great blessings. God is good through it all. And, some of our greatest blessings do come through our most difficult trials. Don’t ever let your faith waiver. Trust the Lord with all your heart! He will show you great and mighty things! He will make the impossible possible by giving you the desires of your heart! 

After Jayce’s birth, it felt like my chances of adding more children to our family had ended. It felt impossible. My womb was gone and adoption felt so expensive for an already large family. I felt so unworthy. But, God said, “I’m not finished with you yet. It’s not about your worth. It’s about mine. My ways are not your ways. My ways are better!” And, in His timing, He sent us a sweet baby boy who needed a family to love him and care for him. Each time I look at our son, I am reminded of what a miracle worker God truly is. 

Ephesians 3:20King James Version (KJV)

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.

(The above verse was shown to me by a friend when our family was anticipating whether or not an adoption request from a birthmom in our jail ministry was going to happen. I later realized that it was the same verse that was on the devotion that I read to the birthmom the first night I met her. That devotion was written for September 15th, which is our precious A.J.’s birthday. God knew what He was doing. He sent us the possibility of adopting a baby girl four months before he sent us A.J., so we would know that He was the one who brought us our son. His plans are best. Even when I had no idea that our son – the one God meant for us- had just been born when I was reading that devotion to the birthmom, God had all of the details worked out. God IS Able!)

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Happy 2 Years to our Littlest Guy!

Dear Sweet Boy,

Happy 2nd Birthday! Wow! God is amazing! If those were the only words on this page, they would be enough. We have seen Him work in mighty ways these last 20 months.
We may have missed your first 4 months, but His ways are perfect. He has shown us His love and how He fights for His children time and time again. We are thankful.

Your life is proof that God answers prayer. Faith brought you to us. And, watching God work has only strengthened our faith even more. Despite everything you have been through in a short amount of time, you continue to bring happiness to everyone around you. Your smile and laughter are contagious. Thank you sweet boy for loving us so well. 

Our lives wouldn’t be the same without you. You are a true gift sent from above. Keep being sweet! We love you more than you can imagine. 

Love,

Mommy

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 8th Birthday Sweet James!

Dear James, 

Happy 8th Birthday, sweet boy! It seems like I was writing your 5th birthday letter just yesterday. Just like that, three more years have passed by, and you have grown up on me. You are doing more and more each day. But, no matter how much you have grown and changed, one thing has stayed the same: You continue to be one of the kindest, most loving little boys that I know. You are always putting others before yourself. For that, I am grateful. It’s so easy to love you. So easy!

I had so much fun celebrating your birthday! You chose to go to my favorite restaurant: Mexican! You know how to make your mommy happy! 😊

It was so cute when you whispered that you wanted to let the waiter know that you were celebrating your birthday. But, you made sure to whisper that you really didn’t want whipped cream smashed in your face. You were such a good sport when you DID get whipped cream smeared all over your face. I was so proud of you!

You being a good sport set an example for me when I got whipped cream smeared all in my face a couple of weeks later on my birthday! You have taught me how to have fun and go with the flow! We could all learn a lot from you. Thank you for always being who God created you to be! Don’t ever change, sweet boy!

You have not only taught me how to let go and have fun, but you have also taught me the power of prayer. A few weeks before your big day, you prayed that Jayce would get a skating party for his birthday. God answers prayers and is faithful to take care of those who diligently seek Him. Aren’t you glad you got to share his party and celebrate your birthday, too? You had a ball at your skating party. I loved watching you smile and skate with your friends.

It seems like you always have a smile on your face. Keep on having fun and shining for the Lord, sweet boy! Always let your light shine. I will love you forever, and you’ll always be mine.

Love Always, 

Mommy 🖤

We also had fun at the playground on your big day! 

 

Matthew 5:16King James Version (KJV)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

James’s birthday interview:

How old are you? 8

What is your favorite food? Mac and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, and Applesauce

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

What is your favorite thing to do? Play Minecraft

What is your favorite animal? All of the rare ones

What makes you happy? My mommy and my family

What is the best memory from when you were 7? Going places with Mawmaw

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 8? Go to Legoland

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

What is your favorite song? Amazing Grace

Where is your favorite place to eat? Red Lobster

What is your favorite book? The Ear Book

Where would you like to go on vacation? Legoland in Florida

What would you like the world to know? I’m not sure…

 

 

Want to see how much James has changed over the years?

https://learninggodsway.blog/category/lets-reminisce-and-reflect/james/

 

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