Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Park Day

Yesterday I met some friends at the park (even though it was deceivingly chilly out!) with the kids to play. It's really hard to go places with both kids alone so I'm thankful my friend was there (and one of our college students ended up coming by, and Will even came by at the end!).

One of my favorite things was watching them on the slide. Edie is SO independent these days. She can slide down on her own, scoot off the slide and walk around to do it all over again! She is so smart!! Israel has also gotten much better on the slide. Slides used to really scare him but now he can scoot his way down it and it makes him happy!

 Sometimes it is just nice to GET OUT of the house, you know? This park has been pretty special to me, because we have been coming here for several years. I have loved watching Israel's legs get longer and longer as they poke out of the same swing. He has been growing in independence and personality.

Edie wanted to go and explore everything. She didn't want to follow us around the park but wanted to do her own thing. She wouldn't come when I called but would go and explore the opposite direction!! She is her own little person and she wants to see it all.

I'm thankful for good days. For days where it seems like "we can do this!" and the kids are happy and growing. I often feel inadequate but this particular day I felt joy in seeing my growing kids. It is an honor to watch them flourish and explore. I love seeing their unique personalities and how they are making milestones and developmental progress. What a gift it is to be their mom. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Purpose And Calling

What is my purpose? What is my calling? These questions have been really pressing on my heart for the last few years. I loved my undergraduate season, and remember thinking that I really wanted to work. I wanted to bless and serve others using my social work degree. I thrived in the work environment with to-do lists and deadlines. I loved feeling useful and utilizing my skills and knowledge. When we started the adoption process, it felt like the best care for our adopted child-to-be would be me staying home. We moved to Alabama in August 2011 and I decided to stop working because we could get a referral anytime. It was May 2012 when we finally brought Israel home, and that long season of waiting was really hard. I struggled to feel useful. I hated waiting but didn't want to take a job and then quit it a few months later. 

After being a stay at home mom for a few months, I knew I wanted to get my master's. I saw that I needed something else to occupy my brain or else I might burst. I longed for some sense of structure and purpose. Israel's arrival really limited my involvement in our college ministry, so I really felt like my overall contributions to the world were really limited to just being a mom and wife. I was accepted into grad school right about the time we found out I was pregnant with Edie. 

We decided that I should go ahead and go for it. I completed my masters in August 2014, surviving a long year of juggling grad school with a pregnancy, birth, nursing, and having a special needs child. It was a really long year that showcased my limitations and need for grace. But I really loved school! I loved working again and having deadlines and papers. I loved using my brain and writing about subjects that I was passionate about. 

Returning briefly to the working world for an internship, I was reminded of my enjoyment of structure and life as an employee. I loved serving others and being a part of a job. I enjoyed planning projects and documenting my work. 

When grad school was over, it was relieving but also left me with a gap in my time. For over a year, I had a purpose. What was it now? 

So this is where I have been for the past few months. I've really struggled with my identity and knowing how to use my time. I have wanted to work, but Israel's schedule requires that I am flexible to take him to appointments and therapies. I love having a season where I am primarily at home with my little kids. They are only little once! I have been working contractually for an agency writing home studies, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I wish I had more opportunities to sit with families and talk about fostering and adopting, but there aren't any open doors right now. 

The last year or so, and specifically the last few days, I have been reminded that my purpose and calling are more general than I typically expect. God has called me to be faithful. He has given me the task to love others and to love Him. If I am loving God and loving others, then the specifics of that don't really matter too much. One of my friends wrote this post and I really loved it. (Sarah is a wonderful writer, and she often writes posts that just speak so well to my heart!!) It reminded me that my calling is to Christ first, then all others second. 

I also just started listening to Edie Wadsworth's podcast and her first episode on a Life of Calling was so, so good! From her blog: "The premise of this episode is that you will find joy, peace and incredible fulfillment when you learn to live at the intersection of your passions and your neighbors needs.  The paradox is that when we stop worrying so much about our specific calling and serve the neighbors in front of us today,  we’ll actually begin to discover what it is we’re made to do.  The greatest joys in life come from giving ourselves away. "  

She also said in her podcasts that some callings are for a season. We have time to figure it outand there may be seasons where we are primarily at home, or primarily in a specific job or role. That was encouraging to me because I sometimes feel like I am waiting for my purposeful season to happen! I'm in a purposeful season always, because God has specifically appointment me to be in the location I am in, with the neighbors I have, to use my gifts and abilities to serve others. That may be changing diapers for my toddler neighbors in my house, or it may be using my social work skills to equip others, or my adoptive mom skills to encourage other moms. I have a purpose! I have been strategically placed! It doesn't matter about the specific details of that as I look at how to plan my calendar year... God has divine appointments already in place, regardless of my employment status. 

So maybe you're in a similar place? Let's encourage each other to remain faithful to our callings and seasons. We each have a unique gifting and strategic location. The details and big picture aren't always known, but our mission remains the same: faithfulness and love. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

VACATION!! {Cruise Jan 2015}

At the end of last summer, when I graduated from my MSW, and Will finished his PhD courses, we decided we needed to celebrate in a big way. So, to celebrate our school accomplishments and also for Christmas and our upcoming 6th anniversary, we booked a CRUISE!

Will and I have not really been away from the kids. We have taken brief overnight trips (for conferences and meetings, not a vacation) since we brought them home, so this was our first big getaway. My mom and sister-in-law came and watched the kiddos for us. Our cruise sailed out of New Orleans on Thursday and returned Monday morning. It was a great little vacation for us. 3 days on a boat was all we needed to refresh and recharge. I think it was really beneficial for us to completely unplug and separate our minds from home. I left a book of notes for my mom and outlined every possible scenario of my kids' needs, so I just had to trust that they would be taken care of and loved well in our absence!

I would describe our trip as restful. We really didn't do a lot. We went to some shows, ate way too much food, and read several books apiece. Will brought down the house on karaoke ("Getting Jiggy With it" by Will Smith FYI) and one lady told me I was "so lucky!" to be with him, ha! Our trip was so fun and it was so nice to not THINK! As parents it is impossible to shut down mentally. There's always a meal to cook or diaper to change. For several days we were just able to be served and to just rest and enjoy each other. It was so good for us.

I liked the cruise but we didn't really do much in Mexico on our port. We went to a restaurant and FaceTimed the children, which was really nice for our hearts. The vacation wasn't really about the boat or the destination - it was about getting away. It was perfect for us in this season!

I'm so thankful for this vacation and the way we were able to start off a new semester of college ministry/ parenting! We are feeling refreshed and ready! How often do you get away? 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Years Resolutions

I love a fresh start. I know that New Year's Resolutions don't always stick but I think there's something important about at least having goals. This year I have a few areas I want to discipline myself/ our family:

1. Some sort of exercise/ fitness routine. I've already started Jillian Michael's 30 Day shred, and I may try the Couch to 5K again when the weather is nicer. I have just gotten so lazy, I need some discipline! I notice a direct correlation from when I'm working out, I also am intentional about what foods I'm eating too!

2. Read books! I love to read, but I want to make sure I keep reading and don't just watch TV or waste time during naps.

3. Invest in community. With college students, other moms, whatever. I need other women in my life in an intentional, prayerful, accountable way.

4. Declutter, purge, pass along, and sell. We have a lot of junk.

5. Dave Ramsay! Will and I are doing Financial Peace University, so I know that #4 will work very nicely with this goal. We have some ideas of our future - owning a home, adopting again, etc., and we need to get into gear on our finances and that means some stricter discipline NOW so we can make those big investments later.

6. Blog regularly. Not just for YOU guys, but for myself! I love to look back and read about our kids and how God has been faithful to us. This blog is a diary of sorts and I want to regularly contribute for the sake of my sad little memory and for the sake of documentation.

What are your new years goals? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Christmas 2014 Recap

Whew! December seems to FLY by every year, doesn't it? Here are a few favorites from Christmas 2014.

1. The Christmas Parade  - full blog post here.

2. Kids and Christmas Trees. I loved how the kids seemed to notice the tree this year. They did pretty well with not taking ornaments off.

3. Christmas at the Falls - full blog post here.

4. Christmas with Grandma Scoggins. I took a quick trip with the kids and we went to my aunt's house in Opelika. This day also included a miracle nap from my kids (Israel NEVER naps in the car!) and they got to see extended family.

5. Tacky Christmas Party - Will and I got to enjoy some fellowship with other adults at church at our tacky Christmas party. Lots of good food and silly games! I actually made my skirt and headband during nap time that day - which felt like quite the accomplishment!

6. Homemade Christmas Gifts - This year I made some handprint ornaments for family members, and made sugar scrubs and zippered pouches for other gifts. I always love giving and receiving handmade items because it represents the time and thought put into making them!

7. Edith's growing independence. Over Christmas, Edith decided that she wants to walk everywhere and won't be carried! I loved dressing her during December because she had so many cute festive hand-me-downs.

8. Christmas Eve - On Christmas Eve we did presents for our kids. Israel's big gift was new bedding (cars and trucks, of course!) and Edith got a kitchen set. They both got some puzzles and books and other trinkets. We went to our Christmas Eve service at church, which is one of my favorite traditions but it is definitely more stressful when you're wrangling kids in the pew. I'm thankful for lovely church family for helping out with the kids during the service!

9. Scottsboro Christmas - After the Christmas Eve service we headed to Scottsboro to see Will's family. It was a fun trip where we got to see his siblings and parents. I love getting the kids together with their cousins!

10. Face Timing with my family. Being married during the holidays means double the family fun - so we don't see everyone every holiday, but I was thankful to face time with my silly siblings!

All in all it was a really wonderful December. We celebrated, we anticipated, and we reflected. Our catch phrase was from "O Holy Night" where it says "the weary world rejoices." 2014 often left us weary, but we have cause to rejoice. Not only in the salvation we possess but in the hope of redemption to come. I hope your holiday was refreshing and just what you needed!
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