Sunday, May 28, 2017

Turning the Page to a New Chapter

After many cryptic posts on Facebook and questions about #moving on my posts, we can final share what we have been up to.  We are ending our time as Florida residents and moving back to the Midwest to be closer to family.  Last week we had the final pieces to the puzzle fall in to place when Bob accepted a new position at the University of Illinois in the Technology Services Department.

While we love Florida and call it home as a family of 5 our extended family are all in the Midwest and it is time to be closer to them as where family is also home. This spring my dad developed some on going back issues and we want to be closer to help out.

Since we have started preparing for this move earlier this spring we have seen God's hand in it, both preparing us when we didn't know what was coming and in the details as we move forward.

#1  God prepared us for the change!  Since last fall we have been restless and were thinking about and considering moving within Orlando, finding a church closer to our house, and looking for a different job.  All things that are now changing with our big move.

#2  God has been faithful!  When we had to shut the door completely on a local move,  answered our prayers on hearing something on a new job the next day.   Bob got his first interview request that day.  For the job he has now accepted.

#3  God goes before us!  At Mother's Day I visited my parents and was able to look at houses.  The market we are selling in is very hot and favorable for us to sell, While where we are buying is much slower giving us more time to look and make offers.  The home we are hoping to buy is currently a homeschooling family and even has homeschooling neighbors we are told!  Which will be great to make some early friendships.

We already know we will miss the sunshine and weather of Florida, and I'm not looking forward to relearning how to drive in ice and snow but family WINS!  We are looking forward to family dinners and afternoons with Grandma and day trips to see the kids new baby cousin!

Our first cruise, earlier this month, May 2017
We set sail for our next adventure on June 23, when we celebrate our 10 year college graduation at the beach with friends before heading north.  Bob will start his new job July 5th.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

5 year reflections

This memory showed up in my Facebook memories today.   Its something I have been thinking about a lot lately.  We have started to lose track of how long ago THAT year happened.  We have moved on and it is just a part of our past that some more recent friends don't even know about.  But it is still very much a part of who we are.

We have lived in Florida for over 8 years, all 3 kids were born here, after experiencing our first hurricane last year we feel we can our selves Floridians.  We have lived her for 8 straight years, except for that 1 year, technically 10 months.   That one year of Mother's Day portraits that is missing on the wall, because it was the day we left Florida. That one year that gives our life in Florida a pause.  There are the before Illinois years and there are the after Illinois years.   Before Illinois we were a picture perfect little family of 4 chasing after big plans of serving God overseas.  Perfect toddler and baby, and parents ready for adventure and sacrifice.  After the Illinois year we put down roots, bought a house, and became a special needs family, that holds loosely to our plans.

What happen during that year was painful, it shook us to the core, it made us stronger.  It grew our faith as we saw God show up.  And we saw God's faithfulness as he gave us peeks into the next chapter of our life.

God was FAITHFUL- We thought moving to our hometowns would make fundraising for the mission field easy.  What we discovered was it wasn't home anymore and it wasn't easy.  We lived on the money that was coming in for us and prayed for the rest.  We lived with cheap rent on the edge of town with one set of parents and watched God give us things we needed from furniture for our temporary house, to winter clothes for all of us as the kids had never seen snow at that point.  I realized I didn't know how to plan a birthday party in January when it was too cold to go to the park! (Thankfully God helped me out and it was 60 that day and we did go to the park!) One of my favorite stories of his provision is When he gave us a Nigerian hat!  We watched God repeatedly care about the little things in our life.

He was PREPARING us- During that year we had 2 perfect little kids so we thought.  Caleb turned 1 that year and we started watching him closely on the growth charts.  I quit nursing and we switched to formula so we knew he was getting enough, and he was almost a late walker but walked just in time no big deal.  As we reconnected with friends and met new ones I was struck that in this small town we seemed to be meeting an abnormal number of families that dealt with special needs.  Growing up I was around some peers and had compassion and helped those who were mainstreamed in my classes.  But I found it odd, those we connected with the most had extra challenges.  We had no idea that within 2 years of returning to Florida we would begin our own special journey with Caleb but also a short term journey with Andrew who was not in the picture yet.  Those friendships and conversations gave me hope that we too would have a full family life in spite of the challenges that we were facing.

God was GRACIOUS- Bob and I had both grown up close to grandparents.  And living in Florida while they all lived in Illinois meant a very different relationship for our kids.  During that year we were able to make many, many memories with all the grandparents and also 2 sets of great-grandparents.  Memories of sharing everyday moments, not just special holidays.  This meant that later when 3/4 of of the great grandparents passed away, our children, the great grandchildren had memories of their own.  And we had the memories of sharing our children with our grandparents.  Which we will have forever.

God was building MATURITY in us.  What a strange way to take us to the end ourselves.  Let us go sell everything (which we did) and go be missionaries.  But i can honestly say, its the only way he would really have us listening to him.  The missionary dream was always part of our family from the marriage proposal.  OUR 5 year goal was to start a family and go overseas to serve in support roles, we celebrated our 5th anniversary in Illinois.  If God had not killed that dream I know we would still be wondering When?  With that dream being killed we have slowly been able to refocus and really be open to God using us in our place and being committed to this place.  In the Pre-Illinois years we would tell you we are from Illinois and just here in Florida until God sends us somewhere else.  We wouldn't let ourselves buy a house or commit to any long term plans. With 6 months of being back in FLorida we both looked at each other and said "It feels funny but I feel like we should look at buying a house" Something we agreed before was not something we were interested in, we wanted to be free and not tied down, and now we needed roots.

We still get to SERVE.  Within two months of resigning from being missionaries Bob was able to return to his position at the Orlando Mobilization Center and continues to support the equipping and sending of missionaries around the world.  We have also been able to partner with several of our training classmates who did go on to serve around the world and who we get to encourage when they come back for training and visits.

God holds the master plan and we need to be patient for him to share our part with us.  I once heard it said, If you think you calling is to do what someone else is doing, its probably not your calling,  your calling is unique to you!  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Vacation Recap

The original purpose of our travels was joyous, Bob's brother got married and we wanted to celebrate with him, He also asked Bob and Lydia to be in the wedding.  So we prepared and flew across the country to Colorado for the festivities.  Preparing a family of 5 to go from sunny warm Florida to Colorado winter was an undertaking in itself.  We had one suitcase devoted to all the winter weather gear, which was promptly opened as soon as we picked it up at baggage claim to suit up.

Andrew mad the flight eventful.  He decided to get sick not once but twice, making a mess all over himself and his carseat he was riding in on the plane.  The second 1/2 of the flight he slept in mama's lap.
We had leisurely day of travel to the cabin we were staying at.  The kids couldn't wait for our destination so they had a snow ball fight at the car rental lot.

Andrew threw up a bit more at breakfast but he seemed ok so we carried on.  We spent time with the Bride's family and helped with last minute preparations for the festivities, including jazzing up Lydia's flower girl basket.

Mom woke up feeling under the weather, and stayed on the couch or bed all day.  We stayed home and rested for the rehearsal in the evening.  Thanks to Powerade we made it to the rehearsal only to have Lyda announce she wasn't feeling good, and rush to a trash can.  WE skipped the rehearsal dinner and went home to contain the sickness and hopefully heal for the big event the following day.
The big question: Would there be a flower girl?

Overnight Caleb joined Lydia in being up throughout the night withe the bug.  Mom was still not feeling great so daddy handled it like a pro.

Saturday - Wedding day
With the help of Gatorade everyone was feeling up to it and we all made it to the wedding.  Lydia rocked her flower girl duties.  Bob was handsome and supportive as Best Man.  Caleb slept through the reception and Andrew eventually joined him in dreamland.  Lydia danced with the best of them and won hearts.  A snow storm moved in during the party and driving home was treacherous but we made it safely.

We planned to ride a cog railroad up to Pikes Peak, but the snowstorm caused it to be canceled.  We couldn't have gotten out if we wanted to, we were snowed in.  The last man standing finally fell, and Bob came down with the bug.  So he spent the day in bed.  Bob's family stopped by with some treats for the kids, we would have seen them on the railroad trip.  So movies and Dish TV were enjoyed by all as a treat.

 We were hoping to visit Focus of the Family with Bob's family before they left town but the office was closed for the snow and cold anyways.  It was so cold we stayed home again with our plans canceled.  We were able to venture out for dinner with Bob's family before they departed down early the next day.  Monday evening was the only time that all 5 of us were feeling good the entire trip and it lasted only a few hours.

Learning to Sled with Mom

Mom was feeling bad again.  This time with was chills and headaches.  I never felt 100% after getting knocked down at the beginning of the trip.  I slept most of Tuesday and the kids had some chances to play in the snow and learn to sled.

Our last full day in the Colorado Mountains, Mom was still knocked out and not feeling any better.  Andrew had started sleeping more, eating less and being clinging for daddy.  While Mom continued to rest and Andrew took his nap.  Bob headed out with the big kids to at least see something.  They went to Focus of the Family.  Focus has a visitor center where you can visit the locations from the radio drama Adventures in Odyssey, a new favorite at our house.  Mom was still sick so contemplated  splitting up and me not flying home with the family sick.

Thursday - Travel day
We gave ourselves 2 hours for the airport, and 90 minutes to drive and return the rental car, for our 11:45am flight.  But there was a new 4 inches of snow overnight, and we are rusty snow drivers so we took it extra slow.  We had a long line to check our bags, security was not moving fast, we had 2 bags chosen for extra screening.  Mom wasn't feeling well still so I wasn't moving as fast.  In the end we missed our flight by minutes.

We were but on standby for a flight with a layover in St. Louis but we didn't make the cut.  When were pushed to another flight, the attendant was kind enough to work with us and instead of keeping us on another standby list, they added us to a later direct flight, and we flew home at 6 pm.  And finally crawled in to our own beds at 1am.  Thankful to be home.  I"m still feeling sick but its so much easier to deal with being home and with out the added factors of altitude and the drier climate of the mountains.

So as Bob said, this with be the vacation by which all future bad vacations will be judged in our family.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thank you God for Bananas

I love when God gives us concrete in your face, undeniable moments to see he cares about the details in our life.  One of my favorites is when God gave us a hat for Bob.  Last week he gave us a bundle of bananas

We do our grocery shopping on a weekly basis.  This weeks shopping trip ended up happening on monday with all three kids in tow, and it was raining.  It was a trip I was regretting making and knew would be difficult from the moment we pulled into the parking lot.  It was a 5 minute drive from home.  But we were out of bread and milk and eggs so it had to be done.  Usually we start at Aldi
and then go to Publix for the items we couldn't get at Aldi.  While we were shopping the rain got worse and became a downpour.  One of my kids is terrified of being in the rain.  I got my shopping done while trying to keep the running down the aisles and vocal levels reasonable.  We usually pass over the bananas at Aldi because they are very green and don't ripen well we have found.  We bought other fruit.   We purchased our food and bagged it up and started to wait out the rain.  My patience was running thin and another stop was not in the cards especially with the extra work of unloading and loading the car in the rain.  We went home and did without the missing items on the list that didn't get picked up at stop #2.  No big deal, we will get them next week.

That was monday, Wednesday night we were at church for mid week classes.  As the night was wrapping up we spent a few rare moments talking with our Pastor about some upcoming events we are involved in, when the person closing the Cafe suddenly asked if we eat bananas.  Startled we said yes and remarked how we do but not at the moment we were out and didn't get any this week.  "Here you go God knew and here have these."  OUr kids had been running around and as kids always do told us they were hungry.  So we broke a banana off the bunch and told them what had just happened and we all celebrated that God gave us bananas.

God really does care about the little things.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Restless & Refocused

Last spring, almost a year ago now, I got invited to a Bible Study.  The group was formed out of one woman's desire to find community.  We used a brand new study by a woman I had never heard of, Restless by Jennie Allen.  My expectation was to meet some new people, learn some new bits about the Bible and have a night with the ladies and away from the kids once a week.  

The study used Joseph's life as a frame work for us to examine our own lives and what God is calling us to.  It is about being made for more than we are doing, and we become restless as a result.  The more I worked through the study I was amazed how I was seeing experiences, friendships, interests, and hurts connect to not only make me who I am now but as a foundation to launch me into my small part of God's big story.  

It changed my life.  I was in the mundane of diapers with 2 kids with special needs we were just beginning to discover and address.  I needed to be pulled out of the overwhelming of the now, and reminded of the purpose behind it all.  How the details don't matter, and the season we are in doesn't last forever.  

Here we are a year later and our family is almost on auto pilot for our daily chaos and I have room to breathe.  I have been chewing on the truths God taught me all year long.  Jennie Allen's team is hosting a conference to gather women together with God.  The first year it went better than they expected and they didn't have enough room for everyone who wanted to come so they offered a live-cast.  This year they are doing it again but its all about the live-cast and meeting where we are, with those around us to encounter God.  

The disciples preached what they had heard and seen Jesus do.  And I am doing the same.  God used this simple study to change me and reignite my calling, and I can not be silent I have to share it.  

February 6 &7
"If God is Real, Then What?"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It works for us: Music

She asked for music so we are learning music.  I love the flexibility of homeschooling.  We have this baby piano we got from a garage sale.  Lydia loves to perform and make up songs.  So I found some simple 8 note music for her to learn some real songs.  After a quick google search we found a set of songs HERE, there are 10 songs and we are starting with the simplest.  I write them on larger paper with the colored notes more varied so we can tell them apart and she starts playing.  So far she is playing "London Bridge" and "Mary had a Little Lamb".  She is using an unsharpened pencil to play the xylophone bars directly, instead of hitting the piano keys.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What worked for us: Dolphins

We had a lot of fun with our first unit:  Dolphins.  We used Magic Tree House #9 Dolphins at Daybreak as our outline.

We colored pictures of dolphins while we listened to the book.  Lydia enjoyed having something to focus on while she listened to the story.  We also used one of the journal prompts to practice our writing and remember what we were learning.  We found some great pages at

The Magic Tree House lands on a reef where the children climb in a mini sub and discover a coral reef.  The only way to describe a reef to see one so we found a video.  Then we could really imagine the bright and colorful things Jack and Annie saw.

We bought a set of children's encyclopedias a while back at a used book sale.  Lydia will even take them to bed to read.  She found a project to make a model of the ocean in a large clear plastic bottle.  So we spend one afternoon building it.
We added sand from the sandbox and shells we had gathered from previous trips to the beach.  There was even a boat to float on the surface of the water.

The Magic Tree House website has a great teacher page, the Teacher Club, with activities and resources for each book.  We looked at Fact Tracker Dolphins and Sharks and used the handouts to learn what practical ways we can help protect the ocean and also to chart the differences between sharks and dolphins, both important animals in our story.

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