Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Our New Journey

As of Oct. 15, Rick will no longer be on staff at Vanguard Church. After 10 years, our time has come to a close.

This is a process that began in our hearts several months ago. Actually, if you remember, I have been saying all year that I felt like something big was coming. I had no idea at the time that it would be this. Now, I know. God was preparing me. Rick has served in many roles at Vanguard since we started there 10 years ago. He started leading over small groups. Two years into our time, he took on the role of Executive Pastor. That role has changed and evolved somewhat since he took it on. As Vanguard has gone through cuts & layoffs, we felt that it was our time to transition. We aren't sure what is next yet, but wanted you to know.

We felt like our time in this role was potentially coming to an end, but thought we would see what transition God might have for us. Then, a couple of weeks ago everything changed. Rick was taken to the hospital by ambulance with all the symptoms of a heart attack during a very stressful day at his job. I have been watching my husband deal with so much stress over the last few years. After dropping the kids off at a friend's house, I was driving to the hospital, just praying that he would be okay. All the while thinking, "it is not worth it. We need Rick. "

The minute I saw him, we both teared up. He said, "Well, if that is not a wake-up call, I don't know what is." At that point, we had no idea if it really was a heart attack or not. We just knew that something had to change, and that something needed to be sooner rather than later. The next week brought about much discussion for us about our calling, what is really important and what we want to spend our life pursuing. In the end, we knew that he could not continue in his position long term. It wasn't healthy for him, for our family, or for Vanguard.

Throughout this whole time, the leadership at Vanguard was discussing HUGE budget cuts that needed to be made. These cuts included ministry cuts, benefits cuts, and staff position layoffs. After praying and seeking direction, we felt we needed to offer Rick's position to be considered. It just didn't feel right for us to keep our job or even potentially take on someone else's job if we weren't planning to stay. So, Rick offered and the leadership accepted. His position became one of the positions that was laid off.

This whole ordeal has come as a shock to many. Mostly, people don't know the whole story, and I wanted to share it. We have a peace about this and plan to stay at Vanguard unless God moves us from Colorado Springs. We have NO IDEA what is next. That is the scary/exciting part. We never imagined this would happen so fast. We really thought we would wait it out and seek something else when we felt certain God was moving us on. We would just move from our current position to a different position somewhere else. Well, obviously, that is not the case.

We are seeking God in what He has for us. We are open to anything He might call us to. We have experienced confirmation in our hearts and through other relationships as we have embarked on this new journey. We don't know where it will take us. I do have "freak out" moments. It is in those moments that God speaks to me. Just the other day, I was driving down the road and I was truly panicking. I thought, "What have we done? Who gives up their comfortable position in a down economy? What if we are making a decision that will destroy our family?" And then, right at that instant, God brought to my mind the last time I thought the phrase, "What if we are making a decision that will destroy our family?" It was during our adoption. I have absolutely no regrets about that. It was a very scary time. I look back now and am so thankful for the privilege of bringing Isaiah and Laila into our family.

We have been surrounded by kind, supportive, and encouraging words. We have received emails, texts, phone calls, and even offers to help us in this transition. WOW!! That is really all I can say. We love seeing God work. We love being in His will even when we don't know what it is. We are trusting Him to lead us exactly where He wants us to go. Some days over the last couple of weeks it has been a minute by minute process of saying, "Okay, God what do you want me to do in this moment?" On other days we venture into future thinking a bit.

So, for now, that is where we are. I plan to continue to share this adventure with you. We would be blessed and honored to have you praying with us. Thanks for journeying with me up to this point and for joining me on this new journey that our family has begun!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

KY - The Final Days

Sunday was my last full day in KY. We were wiped out from the wedding the night before. Sunday was truly a day of rest for us. My mom, dad, and I all slept in. For me that was 8:30. Not really sleeping in for many people, but it was better than my usual 6:30 alarm on most mornings.

Off to Cracker Barrel we went. Now, we have a Cracker Barrel in the Springs, but for some reason, it is just not the same as eating it in the south. The Sweet Tea is sweeter, the country ham tastes saltier, and the biscuits are even more melt-in-your mouth goodness.(Hey, I should get some kind of payment for that advertisement.) This turned out to be my second of 3 trips to "Cracker Brow" as my kids used to call it when they were little, on this little KY trip.
Mama and Daddy
My beautiful breakfast made complete with grits.
Afterwards, we did a little Wal-mart, Dollar General, and Big Lots shopping excursion, another KY visit tradition to find some deals. And find some deals we did. $3.00 pajamas for Isaiah and Laila, clearance priced goggles for all the kids, a coveted Little Einsteins stuffed rocket, and silly bands for $1.00. I love shopping for deals.

Shopping can be exhausting. We came home and took a nap. Naps on Sunday afternoons are really beautiful things. Then, Rick's mom came over to pick me up and take me out to eat at the local Mexican restaurant. I just love eating out. This whole weekend was one eating out event after another, pure delight.
Here we are at dinner
The long weekend was good. I got to do lots of things that I don't get to do very often, or if I get to do them, they aren't always that enjoyable and relaxing with 6 kids in tow. I am very thankful for my time away. I did some reading, some journaling, some hanging out with family, and some extra sleeping. Thanks, to my hub-a-dub-dub for the time away. Not many fathers would tackle what he did and come out on the other end with everyone still alive and well. He did great.

Now, I just had to share this discovery with you. In the Chicago airport they had toilets with built-in covers. You just wave your hand over the sensor and the cover slides around to give you a clean seat. How genius is that? Of course I had to take a picture.
Speaking of poo. I was greeted by Isaiah pooping his pants. I can't even remember the last time he has done that. It has been months. Who knows if it was some act of rebellion, laziness, or just an accident, but there is nothing like cleaning up fresh poo off a kid, his clothes and car seat to bring you back to reality real fast.

The noise level in the truck on the way home was unbelievable. Everyone was talking to me all at the same time. I realized I was missed and it warmed my heart. This is my life. I love it and wouldn't change it for anything. Welcome to my world!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Anniversary Getaway

Here are a few of our pics from anniversary trip. We spent a day in Grand Lake. These pictures were taken there.
The usual "take a picture of ourselves" pic
16 years
The lake was beautiful
Rick enjoyed taking photos

This bench could be very significant for us.
There were some deep conversations and prayers lifted up on this bench.
That trip was a monumental time for us in so many ways, for our family, for our marriage, and for our future.

Popsicles Rock!

Popsicles are one of my kids' favorite treats. We try to keep a stock of them for hot days. They are very excited to come home from school pickups and enjoy one.
Enjoying the popsicles
They just realized I was taking a picture. "CHEESE!"
A little more "cheese"

Football Season

Cody is playing football for the first time. I am amazed at how intense this stuff is at the 6th grade level. He practices 4 days a week before the season starts, then he has practice 3 days a week and games on Sat. throughout the season. The really cool part is that he gets to be on a team with kids from his school. They are learning the plays that their school does in middle school and high school so they will be prepared if they plan to continue. His coach is a friend of ours, and his two best friends are on the team. He has had some bumps and bruises along the way, is sore most of the time, is exhausted at night, but I think he really likes it.

I am not a huge football fan. I like the Dallas Cowboys because my husband does. I like to wear Cowboys clothes to support the team. I want to know if they won or not, but that is about how far it goes for me. I don't really know a lot about the game. Having Cody play is a whole different story. I love that we can cheer him on. He is pretty hard on himself. So far, it has been a tough season. I hope they get to experience some victories this season.
The Team
Cody is #8
He is a wide receiver ( I think!?!)
Not sure what position he is playing here.
Ready to go.
Go for it!
Once again, much goes on at the park in our family outside of the game. Here is a bit of that world which I manage while the game is happening.
The girls make a tent with friends and eat snacks.
Setting up the tent.
Sam playing in the sand.
Rick played football as a teenager. He is VERY excited to see Cody say football. I had to capture that. One more reason to take pictures of the spectators.
Go, Cody!
His games are at 8:30 every Sat. morning. He has to be there @ 7:45! It is about 20 minutes from our house. Getting everyone there is a challenge, and Rick had to do it by himself this week!! We are thankful that the warm weather is hanging on a little longer this year on those early mornings!

Lauren's Soccer Season Begins

*UPDATE* - I just found out Lauren won her game on Saturday while I was in KY. Yay! M&Ms!

This is Lauren's first year to play Pride Soccer. She is excited to start up the season. Her team is called the M&M's. These pictures are from their first game.
All lined up and ready to go
Lauren is on the left.
Lauren on the left again.
Ready to go in.
I am trying to teach Rick that taking pictures at a game is about way more than what happens on the field. It is about the fans, too.
Lauren's biggest fans.
They were yelling, "Go, Lolly, Go!"
So far, they have had a rough season, no wins. Hopefully we will have a "w" before the season is over. She is having fun even when they don't win.

The Long-Awaited Photos

Laila was not cooperative the first time I took her to get her 2 yr. pictures made. After that frustrating experience, I took her with me 3 more times to watch her big brother and big sisters get their pictures made. We talked about it each time and explained how she would go soon again.

I put much preparation into that morning. We had snacks. We talked about how much fun it was going to be. We took a bath and fixed her hair. We were ready!!

When we got there, she started to tear up. I was going to leave there with pictures whether she was happy or not in them. She didn't do great, but it was so much better than before. Here are some of my favorites:
Laila is very gentle and loving. She is a cuddler.
This picture shows that side of her personality.
I absolutely love her cute little profile.
Her little lips and nose just make me want to eat her up!
Oh, My Goodness!!
Where did my baby go?
I love the little curled toes.
Giving the bear a whiff of the flower.
We like to call her Laila Bear so that makes the bear in the picture even more appropriate. When we distracted her by giving her the bear and flower, she was much more secure in getting her picture taken.

I love my little sweetie so much. She has blossomed even more since she turned 2. Her language is exploding. I love it when she says, I yove you , mommy!! I love it when she sings in the car. I love it when she dances at home. I love it when she watches "Little Einsteins" and interacts with it just as they intended. Her kisses, her hugs, they just melt me. When I go to get them up in the morning and Isaiah says that he has stayed in his bed(he has a toddler bed), she pipes up and says, "I stay in my bed, Mommy"(she is in a crib, she kind of has to, but it is cute.)
Laila, you have brought more joy to me than I ever could have imagined. You have changed my life. You have changed our family. That little girl with the furrowed brow who was stingy with her smiles has become a beautiful, vibrant, vivacious little girl that wins the hearts of everyone she is around. I love you, baby girl!!

Breakfast at Mimis

On his day off one morning, Rick dropped the big kids off at school and then, we took the little ones out to breakfast. One of their favorite things to do is ride in the Jeep. This was no different. They were very excited to include this in our little adventure.
Daddy and babies
Going out to eat is fun!!
Laila sat there with her arm around Rick through the whole meal.
How precious is that?
It was fun for us to have some special time with Isaiah and Laila.

Catching Up

I have fallen behind on some very important events in our life.

Since I am still in KY and have NOTHING that I have to do, I am going to catch up.

The next few posts will be my "catch up" posts.

Here is my fam.

Here are some glimpses of our lives.

September Challenge

I haven't spoken much about the September Challenge because this has turned out to be a crazy month. I haven't been able to truly implement it like I have planned.

Rick's hospital visit threw me off a bit. As a result of it, we were blessed with some amazing meals for our family.

Then, we did our anniversary getaway which left our children in the care of others. I didn't really expect them to maintain my challenge for me.

Finally, I have been gone for the wedding, which means Rick has had to deal with food himself. I didn't really think it would be a good idea to mention the September challenge to him when we were talking about food for them while I was gone. I think that might have just sent him over the edge. In addition, he was blessed with a couple of meals for our family from a friend. Thanks, Kim, for helping us out with that little detail.

So, here we are in the last week of this month, and my freezer is not empty. I hope to try to make it through this week purchasing little or no groceries. If I accomplish that goal, then I will have saved a couple of hundred dollars this month. One step toward making up for the deficit I have accumulated over the last few months.

I will update at the end of the month, and am working on a new challenge for Oct. I love being able to stretch myself in these ways. I will definitely plan to finish emptying out the freezer in Oct. so I can defrost it.

I kind of wish I had some "funny" meals to report, but we have eaten pretty well. What about you? I know that some of you are joining me. How has it gone for you? What is your family eating?

Sneak Peek

Here is a sneak Peek of the wedding. Ashley really wanted a beach wedding(I can't really say that I blame her for that!!) So, they created their own beach on the lake. It really was pretty. The coolest part was when right at this moment, when everyone was in place, and the music had stopped. There was a breeze that caused the water to ripple onto the sand in waves. If I closed my eyes and just listened, it sounded just like the beach! I thought that was a neat little addition to the ceremony. Thanks, God.
Brian and Ashely King
I have a new sister-in-law. Welcome to the family Ashley!!

I will share more later.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Do I really look that old?

We spent the morning helping to get everything ready for Brian and Ashley's reception. It is really going to be beautiful, and I can't wait to share pictures.

In case some of you don't know. I am 10 years older than my brother. That would make him 15!?! :)(just joking)

Last night, someone came up to me at the rehearsal and asked if I was his mom!!!!!


Do I look old enough to have a 28 year old son????(In case you are math challenged, that means I am 38.)

I so hope not. I am still struggling with the fact that I am old enough to have 12 year old son.

I spoke to everyone this morning to see how things were going.

My mom asked if anyone was crying for me.

My answer, "Do you mean besides Rick? No, the kids are fine."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wedding Prep

I finally have some pictures from my getaway. I had no idea that I could put them on my computer through the SD card instead of having to use my cord. Wow! What a new revelation for me.
Me on the airplane
Okay, so I didn't get pictures with either of the friends that I got together with. Today, while out to lunch with my mom, my friend, Michelle(but I like to call her "Moshelle") came to the same restaurant. Since I forgot to take a picture last night I took a picture of her with me today!! We have lots of fun memories from our youth group years. She hasn't changed a bit either. (Do you feel better now, Michelle?)
"Moshelle" and me
My mom and me at lunch
Then, we had an awesome treat courtesy of my soon-to-be sister in law, manicures and pedicures. It was so nice. I actually talked to a friend on the phone during that time and she said, "You sound so relaxed." Well, let me tell you, I was. It was wonderful, and now I have some really nice looking toenails and fingernails.

The evening was spent at Brian and Ashley's rehearsal. Everyone there was so exhausted from the decorating they had been doing all day. We had some BBQ and then they did a couple of quick run throughs for tomorrow evening.
The lovely, but very tired couple
Tomorrow will be more decorating, getting ready, pictures, wedding, and reception. It will be a full day. I am looking forward to being a part of it.

My Old KY Home

I arrived to my hometown, Glasgow, KY yesterday.

It is hot here, and I love it!! I am soaking in every bit of heat and humidity I can. Everyone here is complaining about how hot it is, but I. LOVE. IT!

I have not been home by myself for over 12 years. I always have kids or the whole family with me.

I spent Wed. night in Nashville, TN catching up with a friend from high school. She is one of those friends that I can go forever without talking to, and we can pick up where we left off in a matter of minutes.

And, of course, I forgot to get a picture of us together. So, I will describe her for you. Her name is Traci. She is taller than me. She looks just like she did in high school, hasn't aged at all. She has dark, shoulder length hair. So, see, you don't even need a picture, right?

My brother and mom came to Nashville to pick me up. We had lunch together at Cracker Barrel. Nothing like some sweet tea and biscuits in Nashville, TN.

I got to spend some time last night with another friend from high school. It was so exciting to hear what God has done in her life and meet her husband and 2 of her boys. We laughed a lot. It was refreshing.

I slept in today and plan to spend the day with my mom. I am hoping to remember pictures today.

Rick and the kids are doing great. I am so thankful for a hubby that will give me a break like this and the opportunity to be at my brother's wedding.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Breaks My Heart

I am sitting in the Colorado Springs airport awaiting my first of 3 flights today. I will be going to Denver, then Houston, then Nashville. My first flight leaves @ 11:03 and my final arrival tonight is 7:13 Central time. So, my total travel time since arriving at the airport today is 9 hours.

It sounds a bit exhausting, but I am looking forward to the time alone. Time to reflect. Time to read. Time to journal. God is doing some big things. So big that I can't even fully grasp them at this point.

I just read an article from Swaziland that made me gasp. It was a "I can't believe this is happening and something has to be done" kind of gasp. I am kind of in shock just thinking about the ramifications of it. Here it is:

Babies dying like flies

By Sibonginkosi Mamba
Swaziland has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the ministry of health has revealed.
Out of every 1 000 children born at the country's hospitals, 587 of them die. Chief Nursing Officer, Thembisile Khumalo disclosed the figures yesterday, noting that the number of babies dying at birth was worrying.
"We do hope that with the introduction of the health awards, health facilities in the country will fight to improve the situation," she said.
The recently introduced health awards are a product of the Quality Assurance Programme which it is hoped will improve health service delivery. The health awards have been the dream of the ministry, she explained.
They are in seven categories - best performing facilities and individuals will be awarded. Among the categories the best region, best health facility, best health centre, programme, maternity and clinic will be awarded.

All of those babies that never have a chance to really even live.

These are just the babies born in the hospitals. It doesn't include those who are born at home.

My heart is broken.

My two babies could have been part of that number.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It Truly Takes a Village

You would not believe the orchestrating that I have had to do in order to make my trip to KY possible.

Coordinating 6 little peoples' schedules with school, football, soccer, church, Birthday parties, church, and Rick's schedule is completely insane.

We could not do this without the help of so many friends. Thank you Lauras( you would not believe the number of people named "Laura" around here), Andrea, Karen, and my backup crew(Julie, Melissa, Amber, and Holly).

Rick and I were both exhausted after just looking at the schedule much less executing it.

It is a relief to me to have it all worked out.

Now, I just need everyone to stay healthy. Sickness would really mess up this whole gig I got going.

I am the lucky one. I get to leave town and let the chips fall where they may.

Could you say a prayer or two for my husband this weekend?

I don't want him having another trip to the hospital from the stress of it all.

Oh, did I mention that from Friday night to Sunday night, Rick is also hosting one of our Swazi pastor friends in our home?

Oh, to be a fly on the wall and watch these two men take care of these 6 children, feed them, take them to ballgames, get them to church. I really wish I could see it all happen.

Now that is the kind of stuff that reality TV is made of!!

Hit By A Truck

I feel like I have been hit by a truck today.

Our weekend was good, really good.

I am so thankful for our time away.

I got some good sleep.

We did lots of talking, really deep "figuring out your calling" and "what is really important in life" kind of talking.

The kids did remarkably well. The big kids were helpers, and the little ones do not seemed to be traumatized by our being gone.

That is a huge improvement over our trip 6 months ago. It is good to see some progress.

The last week has been an emotional roller coaster with some really high highs and some really low lows.

I didn't sleep well at all last night, and I am feeling the effects of it today.

I am leaving town on Wed. I am going to KY to my brother's wedding. I will be gone until Monday, and I am taking no one with me!!!

I am very excited about the trip, but feel like there is a whirlwind of things to do between now and then.

Being away will be very therapeutic for me. I am looking forward to some good ole' southern food and hospitality.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just Think...

you're here not by chance,
but by God's choosing.
His hand formed you
and made you the person you are.

He compares you to no one else-
you are one of a kind.
You lack nothing that
His grace can't give you.

He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfill His special purpose
for this generation.
Roy Lessin

These words were in a card that was given to me this week. Just what I needed to hear. Inside the card, it said:

Just Think...
You are God's servant
in God's place
at God's perfect time.

Oh, how these words have ministered to me in the stillness of this week. There has been much reflection in my heart. Even now, I cling to the truth of what they say.

Thursday, September 16, 2010



~meals left for us on our front porch


~phone calls


~rides home for my kids



~offers to do anything we need done

~gifts of appreciation

~a healthy husband and daddy

We are truly Blessed

Wednesday, September 15, 2010



I should have expected it. It always works this way with me.

When something traumatic happens, I really hold it together in the midst of it all.

When the dust settles and everything is okay, I crash, pretty hard.

Today is that day.

I am exhausted.

I am emotional.

I am weary.

I am completely unmotivated.

There is lots of TV watching in this house today. (They will survive a day of TV. I am sure of it.)

I am so glad Rick and I are getting away for a couple of days, but don't really feel like I have it in me to get ready.

We may just go away together and sleep for 3 straight days.

Right now, that sounds pretty awesome!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Home Safe and Sound

We are home. We arrived home around 5:15 today. We had no idea Rick would be in the hospital ALL. DAY. LONG., but he was.
He was such a trooper about letting me take pictures.
This is his "I am really sick" picture
We received very good news today from the cardiologist. All of his blood tests and his stress test came out clear. His heart is healthy and working just like it should. I told him I knew he had a good heart. The doctors just had to prove it medically. So, then, "What is wrong?" you may ask? They believe that he had spasms in his esophagus that mimic the symptoms and pain of a heart attack. It isn't really caused by the food you eat. It is mostly caused by stress. The only way to truly know if this is the problem is to do a test. If his symptoms continue, we will pursue it further. For now, he is home and we are all very thankful and feel very blessed.
This was my favorite picture from the day
Oh, how I wish I had a picture of him on the treadmill doing the stress test in these socks. It really would be priceless to me. For now, I have to settle for the above picture.

I have to share something I saw in my husband when he was in the hospital. I saw him be such an amazing patient. He purposefully interacted with every person that cared for him. He learned their stories and most of the time, he was blessed immensely by those interactions. God placed just the right people to care for him, many of them fellow believers who shared a connection with Rick as a pastor. He was very interested in who they were and cooperated completely even when they were causing him pain. It is not that I was surprised by this. It is just something that really impressed me about him and reminded me why I love his so much. I am so thankful for Rick. When a crisis like this hits, it cuts to the core of what is really important. It also causes the other frustrations in life to pale in comparison to the relationships that we hold so dear.

I have so many people to thank. I have so many messages that I wasn't able to return. Please know that each one of your messages, texts, and emails were so appreciated. I read every one even if I couldn't respond.

This Friday is our 16th wedding anniversary. We are looking forward to celebrating together. That celebration will be even sweeter than before because we faced this challenge together.