Recently we visited a different church and we knew no one. I was curious- in a very social-experiment type of way- what it would be like. I've gone to the same church my whole life, and other than a few times in my grandparents' churches when I was a child, and a baptism here and a dedication service there, I haven't attended many other churches. So I was curious.

Now, it's not like we can slip into a service and not be noticed. There are SEVEN of us. Toss our adopted kids into the mix and we're noticeably... different. Not to mention the fact that it was a small church, and our presence there that morning could not be missed.

During the meet-and-greet time a young woman came over to me and was just so warm and friendly and engaging. I've thought about that conversation so many times since then. She made me feel so welcome, there, in that unfamiliar space. I liked her instantly, and I felt so invited in. Surely she had some close friends in her church, other women she could have walked over to and talked to; conversations she could have picked up from the last time they had spoken, or details to cover about gatherings or events with that person or the other. But she noticed us and came over and extended warmth and kindness to us.

I am challenged as I wonder if I would have done the same. So often I turn to the people I know; to those I already am in relationship with. I've been reminded this week of the verse in James that says not to show favoritism. Sure, the context of that verse is the rich and the poor, but really- isn't it showing favoritism when I continually turn to my friends after church and talk to them, and them only?

That same Sunday morning there were some other young moms with their children-- one or two little ones apiece, and I noticed that they shyly observed our family from afar. I didn't say anything to them and they didn't say anything to me. I had the sense that they might have liked to meet us, but... didn't, maybe from shyness or insecurity.

I didn't go over to them, because in truth, there wasn't much time. But even if there had been time, I don't think I would have moved in their direction. I would have said the customary hellos to the people nearest me and then busied myself with my children, wrapping myself up in the security of caring for them. Why not? - I ask myself? Why not walk on over and introduce myself to them? Surely we have a lot in common~ they with their little ones in baby carriers or on their hips, I with mine. My reasons... I don't know them. I've never seen these people before in my life. I feel shy and vulnerable in such a new place with all these new-to-me faces. And-- what if I never see them again? And~ this reason, too. This gut-wrenchingly honest one: What if they don't even want to get to know me?

And so I sat with my insecurities and maybe they sat with theirs.

I've thought a lot about this, how I want to peel off the layers of fears and insecurities and self-consciousness and just be free and uninhibited to love and reach out to others and take those first awkward steps forward and smile and be kind and really- just be who Christ has created me to be: confident and carefree (of myself) and full of care (for others).

Make it so, LORD. May I consider others, always, before myself. Give me Your eyes to see, give me Your love to lay aside self and step forward in uninhibited kindness to others. Make me more like you, Jesus, I pray!

Hair care and cornrows

I still think it's humorous that God chose me, of all people, to be the one responsible to do Adelia's hair.

The reason that's funny is that I am a very low-maintenance kind of a girl when it comes to my own hair.

This is what I do each day: I wash and condition my hair, comb it out, and then I pull it back into a pony-tail (*except* on Sundays when I leave it down, but even then I keep a hair elastic around my wrist in case it annoys me) and that's the extent of my hair care. Pretty simple.

I don't use a hair dryer, a curling iron, or any sort of product one would put in their hair, other than whatever shampoo/conditioner is on sale at the time. Heck, I rarely even use a mirror.

Black hair elastics are my sole hair accessory.

Adelia, on the other hand, at just three years of age, has several hair products [most of which I have to order away for, mind you] and enough accessories (elastics, barrettes, snaps, beads, and combs) to fill up a room of our house. OH MY GOODNESS, readers: You have NO idea. I had no idea.

Any and all hair inspiration I receive is from one of these two sites:

Happy Girl Hair

Keep Me Curly

I am so thankful for these mothers who have spent so much time reviewing hair products, posting tutorials and pictures of the various styles they've done on their own girls so that less-experienced mothers (like me!) can learn from them.

Oh, and here is my favorite place to purchase all sorts of cute beads and snaps:


I wish I took more pictures of Adelia's hair, if only to use as a resource for me when I need to figure out what to do with her hair next. The problem is that it is extremely difficult to take a picture of this girl, because she never.stops.moving! This is the best I could do today:

{front: This is the first time I've done a side part! I like it.
There are 3 cornrows in the front with the heart snaps and everything else is braids & beads}


Have I mentioned how much Adelia loves braids and beads? She loves the sound her beads make when they click together, and the only thing she ever requests when it's hair time is beads!

This is only the third time I've done cornrows. The first two tries had me in tears, literally. Then I gave up and only recently tried them again. I couldn't figure out how to braid "under" rather than over, as I always have done. I watched all sorts of instructional videos and I could see how they were doing it, but when I got behind Adelia with her hair and my own fingers, I simply couldn't do it.

I think I'm finally getting the hang of it, though. Here's my trick: The only way I was finally able to figure it out was to talk myself through it as I did it. I whisper instructions to myself as I go along (something like "right under...left under... center" (and when I say "center" I know to pull the new hair up to join the center section). Then I repeat.

My assessment, for what it's worth: Cornrows are much quicker than braids simply because you can pull more hair into a cornrow than a single braid, so her hair can get done much faster when there are cornrows in the style somewhere. And that's a very good thing when it takes hours to do her whole head. :)

Bunting and a birthday gift

Our little girls have their birthdays coming up, and that inspired me to sit down recently with my basket of fabric scraps and make some bunting. (I love bunting. Isn't it so cheery?) This was a quick project and reminded me all over again how much I love working with fabric.

[Quick instructions: Draw a triangle on some cardstock, pin it onto various fabric scraps, and cut out some pieces. (Mine has 14 pieces). Iron the pieces onto some fusible interfacing and cut them out again. Thread a needle with some string (I used bakers twine but you could easily use embroidery thread or regular thread) and draw your needle through the top corners of the pieces. Hang it up and you're done.]

I was up late last night working on this, for Adelia...

...which, when finished, will be her very own Pencil-and-Notebook case to take to church. I think she'll be quite pleased and feel very grown-up to have one just like her older siblings.

Happy Valentines Day!

Here's our only Valentines Day tradition: Yogurt Coffee cake for breakfast, cut into heart shapes with powdered sugar on top (the chocolates on the side were an extra treat this year!)

(I added some eggs and bacon to those plates so it was a slightly more well-balanced meal. :))

We also made these this morning, thanks to Elizabeth's recipe. She said they were "little kid-friendly", and she was right! Even Audra and Adelia were able to help with these!

And look how cute they turned out! We'll definitely be making these again. :)

Two adoption stories


That's all I can say about this adoption story.

And this one? I was bawling as I read the conclusion to this story I began reading a few weeks ago... don't miss it.

HT to Ann V. for the original links]


At the beginning of this school year, I couldn't imagine what our school time was going to look like. For the first time, I was educating three of our kids (!), and had two toddlers thrown in the mix. (!!) What on earth was I supposed to do with the little girls while the older three did schoolwork? How was I going to be available to the older three for teaching and questions when the little girls would be right there, demanding so much of my attention?

For this year, at least, we made the decision to school our boys (K and 1st grade) only three days a week. They do some school on the other two days as well-- Bible, memory work, and either picture study, classical music or poetry-- for our Circle Time at the table. But for the two days they're not doing schoolwork when we dismiss for breakfast and after they're done with their chores, they each get assigned a buddy (in the form of one of their little sisters) and they are excused to go play with them.

For instance: yesterday was Tuesday, and Isaac (7) was assigned to Audra (1) and Isaias (5) was assigned to Adelia (2). Isaac and Audra played in the playroom together for awhile, and then ended up on the living room couch, reading stories. Isaias and Adelia made a fort together, played dress-up, and did who-knows-what-else but managed to get nearly every single toy we own out in the process. :) On Thursday they will switch buddies.

When I came up with this idea in September, I thought this would buy me about 20 minutes of time, but 20 minutes has grown into nearly an hour, some days. I encourage the boys to choose separate rooms to play in with their buddies (otherwise the boys will end up playing together and the girls will get into all kinds of mischief) and often after about 30 minutes I will put a video on for all four of them to watch together. This has been a wonderful addition to our days, for various reasons:

1) It gives the boys the responsibility of taking care of their little sisters, usually doing something they might not personally prefer, but doing it out of love and honor for their little buddy.

2) It gives Ella some uninterrupted school time at the table, without the girls squeezing in next to her at the table and trying to color on her paper or just distracting her with their noise!

3) It gives me the freedom to be close to Ella~ available to teach and help and answer her questions. I stay nearby and usually clean the kitchen or do dinner prep, or I sit at the table with her and do paperwork of my own.

4) It has created a sweet rapport with the boys and their little sisters. Adelia and Audra *love* it when they get to pair up with one of their brothers-- it makes them feel very special to have such kind attention from their big brothers. And for the boys, too- they stand a little taller when they realize that it is their responsibility to take care of one of the girls for awhile. It has bonded the big boys to the little girls in ways I hadn't anticipated. They are much closer because of it, and I'm so thankful to see it.

Of course there are interruptions, and often Isaac will come upstairs to tell me a lengthy, descriptive rendition of what cute thing Audra just did and I have to gently remind him that he ought to go see what she's doing at the moment, since he is responsible for her, afterall. :) Sometimes I have to step in for correction or to remind the kids to stay in their rooms or suggest another activity for them, but all in all it has been a grand success, and I'm grateful for it.

Happy February!

"We cannot do a thousand things to the glory of God. Do a couple of things and do them with everything you've got." ~Beth Moore

I stumbled across that quote recently, and I think there is so much wisdom wrapped up in that statement. That's what I want; how I want to live: to focus my attention on a couple of things and then do them with everything I've got.

I know what- or rather,
who- those "things" are: Mark and my children. I want to be a loving, affirming, supportive, honoring, prayerful, life-giving wife to my husband, and take every opportunity God provides to bless this man He's given to me.

And these precious five children God has entrusted to us... what a great privilege it is to be their mommy! I want to love and nurture them, be diligent in prayer for them, encourage them, provide fun memories and traditions for them, play games with them and delight in their imaginative play. I want to be joyful and full of grace, to give them the gift of my time and attention, and disciple them by loving Jesus passionately myself and through speaking the truths of Scripture to them throughout our days together.

It goes without saying-- at least in my mind and heart-- that
more important than even those things is my relationship with God~ time spent in His word and in prayer and worship.

Add to those things the job of educating our children, and all the books I want to read aloud to them that I've got to find a way to squeeze into the next several years while they're still home! :)... and my role of keeping our home, the laundry and tidying and cleaning and planning and shopping. And I want to cook healthy, delicious food and eat meals around our table and have rousing discussions and lots of laughter. Add to that our extended family and the friends God has blessed me with... and my "plate" is gloriously full!

In a culture of many, many opportunities and things that vie for our time~ many of them truly
good things, even: I want to choose the best things, and glorify my God in my attention to those few significant things.

I just wanted to say those things "out loud" :)

Blessings to each and every one of you today as you pursue the things God has given you!