Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kids Abroad

I can't even apologize anymore for how infrequently I post on this blog because I'm no longer in a "busy season"  --- this is just a new normal. When I had one baby it was so fun to be blogging away about life. With 3 now it's a whole new ball game. I'm currently convincing my 15 month old that hanging from my leg while I type is so much better than actually being held. Most of the time I start blog posts and someone needs a snack, water, to be wiped, you get it, and then I never come back to it or the time for thoughts has passed! This is a unique stage with 3 little little kiddos and while hectic - it's a blast. I wouldn't change any of it. 

We got back a couple days ago from a 3 week trip to a couple countries in Europe. We were in the Czech Republic, Macedonia and spent a few days in Greece. Our purpose was to support and encourage our existing missionaries on the field and facilitate ongoing training for them to keep them growing and healthy. 

Traveling to costco with 3 kids is an ordeal let alone going overseas so I wasn't sure how it would go! We learned so much (again :) about our family, our kids, and what works and what doesn't when traveling to change for next time.

 Let me begin with one of the biggest beasts of overseas travel:

Jet Lag:

ˈjet ˌlaɡ/
  1. extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones.

So-------Jet lag is never fun - kids or no kids. But honestly when you travel with kids and jet lag is involved you have to prepare for an entirely different situation when it comes to adjustment! I KNEW it would be a hard part of the trip but ohhhhhh man. Last time we did a similar trip our middle child was 2, so it was pretty easy to manipulate their schedules by pushing a few naps and bedtimes. It still took a good 4 days to really adjust but not terrible. Having a baby (well, toddler.....don't rush me) this time was a different story. I quickly learned you just CAN'T make a baby stay awake or go to sleep. Their clock is so so messed up that they don't care if it's 9 am, their body says it's midnight. He took about 4 days of waking up from 12 am - 3 am each night but eventually he got there! I do think it's beneficial that we were also going through jet lag (hear me out on this) because when your own head feels like someone is sitting on it and you're dizzy and grumpy you then realize why your baby wants to be held 24/7 - because it's a terrible feeling!! The Amazing news *so far* is how much better it's been coming back home. They were up for the day at 4 this morning but I'm optimistic it'll be done soon :)  

I love this jet lag picture haha. 4 am - Luke ready for the day and entertaining himself by putting on the kids headphone and rolling on Jeremy. 

My other favorite - the night we got home when you're wanting everyone to be happy WE ARE FINALLY HOME. But Moana didn't turn on for like 5 seconds and they thought it was broken. Wailing, crying and I'm not sure if Jer is asleep or wishing he was :) 

Those Travel Days:
Days between locations we call travel days. It's such a bummer that just getting from one place to the next takes a whole day but it always always ends up that way. Moving with 3 kids is so much sloweeeerrrrrr than most people haha. We did really well on luggage this time but it's still just so much to carry and transport along with 3 littles. In many places we had extra hands of help and that was a huge blessing. I never could master pushing two umbrella strollers at once - especially when we were sprinting for a train - without them smashing into each other or other people. One part that I completely underestimated was the "smaller travel" that lead up to bigger travel and how much it wore on us all. I would think "ok tomorrow we have a 2 hour flight then a 1.5 hour flight no problem", but didn't think about the 30 min taxi ride to the airport, the hours of waiting in lines for passport security/check ins/boarding, the bus rides they take to and from the plane, then the bus to the train station and the train to the city. We've tried to learn to give more space for those days cause they just add up and are almost always a stressful day. In our 3 weeks we had 5 of those days. You also can't control what time those flights and buses are most of the time. So we had one flight that left at 11:20 pm and a bus that left at 6 am which means keeping kids up or waking them up fairly often, which as we all know makes for the happiest children. 

On one of those flights all 3 kids were asleep on me - it was about 2 am and a fairly small plane. So Jeremy ran ahead to get the strollers thinking we could just transport each kids to the stroller once everybody else got off but then he got down the ramp and realized he obviously couldn't leave the luggage alone haha. Oh man, so I'm up there waiting and finally the flight staff is telling me I have to get off but I LITERALLY can't wake up the kids. I'm shaking them, standing them up, but they just fall to the ground still asleep LOL. This may be when you know you've pushed your kids too far hehe. So there I am, carrying Luke and dragging William with one leg and pushing Juliana along the floor with my other. When I got off the plane I then realized the whole bus full of passengers was waiting for me :l oooooops sorry!!! I'm sure I was their favorite person ever right then. 
BUT it is really really fun to watch how quickly our kids get so good at moving around. They would carry their backpacks and get on and off buses no problem and quickly learned how to navigate on planes and trains. When we take walks at home (we're talking around the block) our kids last about 5 seconds then try to crawl all over the stroller because obviously - their legs are "so exhausted" and can't walk another step. Their endurance totally increased as walking is the main way of getting around in most places we visit.


This is where I really do think the good outweighs the hard stuff. To watch my kids experience new places is a such a treat. Even though they are so young, I *hope* it will impact their worldview and scope of how the world works. From larger conversations about different languages and cultures to cute stuff like when they ask "why are there no toilet seats" we to get to have those conversations about how where we live is different - not better. The way our lives work is different - not superior. I pray that they grow up knowing that their little corner in the world is just one special spot among millions. That God loves the people in villages in India and cities in Europe just as much as he loves us. Taking 3 little kids to several different countries obviously has some negative effects as well. I won't lie that it was hard to watch them on those days - struggling, confused, so so so done with moving around every few days - and to know we did that to them. Our 4 year old began asking if we could go home about 10 days in. We always kept it lighthearted like "Home is the best huh, we will go back home in 11 days. Aren't you excited to see your friends and toys when we go back!" and it would usually help move him along lol sometimes :/ The travel days were the hardest on them. So much moving, so many lines to stand in, so many new and different things - it doesn't help that mommy and daddy are glorified stress balls on those days. There's a point where even as an adult I feel over all the changes and new people so for little ones it's all amplified. Our kids get more ice cream cones when traveling than they do in 6 months here hahahaa = parent guilt.  Our kids are also majorly detoxing from screen time. When they have to sit on a plane for 11.5 hours there's just no way I'm not letting them watch as much as they want. At that point you just need minutes and hours to pass! But for all the tears and tantrums that would make me want to say "ok I'm done, I want to be home!" the good times way outshine them. For me it's largely a mental game that I need to play wisely. I'm not a master at it - but learning more each time we do this.

The wonderful part of being gone for a chunk of time is getting to come home! I love my home :) Every time we go away it's like the Lord shows me little things about our corner of the world that I so missed. Our kids are readjusting well and are so happy to see their family, friends and rooms. I am so grateful for my washer and dryer, highchairs and no longer sleeping in the same room as my children haha I mean......I love them :) Jeremy and I have started a new routine after we/he/I travel where we give each other a half day away to be alone once we get back and just have some reflection time. It can sound like a silly small act but for us it's huge. I came back to doctors appointments waiting to be booked, school books needing to be ordered, first soccer practice, weeks of mail, and the list goes on and on and on. We realized if we can't take some time to process through the highs and lows of an experience then it's hard to close the book on it and move on with life and jump back into this crazy routine. I'm so grateful that I got to see with my own eyes how God was moving all over the world. The people he is pursuing and freeing. I am humbled watching our missionaries - who don't get to run back "home" to the comforts of America but choose to give that up each day to serve those around them and make Jesus name known where no one has heard it. God is big, alive and moving and I although I feel empty from pouring out so much I also feel refilled by his grace and love I see moving in other nations. Happy Day! 

What troopers! I love them all and so love what we get to do with our lives!

Ahhhh the constant reorganizing of that bag. So happy to be done with that part :)  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Calm My Anxious Heart

"All our fret and worry are caused by calculating without God."

I've been s.l.o.w.l.y making my way through the book "Calm my anxious heart" by Linda Dillow and there have been so many thoughts I've wanted to share as I go through it. While I shouldn't be surprised that a book about worry and anxiety would hit my heart in all the right places - it's like I'm still surprised when the Holy Spirit shows up and burns in my heart. While at times I wish the author would empathize or give more emotion, I have to say I truly needed the blunt truths she writes about allowing anxiety to rule in ones life. Anxiety is ravaging our society and culture and I was deeply challenged in this book to live differently - to cut it out before it can sink in roots ** It can not only have huge negative impacts on our relationships and mental health, but even our physical health can begin to take a toll as I've also personally seen in my life.

 Anxiety is a vicious monster that many of us feel we are constantly keeping just at bay but never fully conquering. I believe we want to be rid of it - but feel powerless against it's strongholds. I love how in this book she begins with the counter to anxiety = Trust in Jesus and contentment in our circumstances. There's a reason scripture tells us to THINK about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, etc. Our mind controls so much of who we are, yet we forget that we are in control of our mind and often (I) have little diligence in taking thoughts captive and allow them to run all kinds of places.

She puts it this way:
"My worrisome thoughts are like impatient toddlers jumping up 
and down and screaming, 'Look at me, look at me.' Jesus and I
take the negative 'toddler thought' and send them to time-out so 
we can focus on the good thoughts. Sometimes they don't obey. 
They get right back up and out of the chair and once again scream 
for attention. Then Jesus and I take those thoughts back to the 
time-out chair, but this time we tie them up!" 

At this stage in my life this is such an amazing visual!!! (except for the tying up part - I promise I don't do that haha~) But it's such intentionality in regards to our thought life about what we will allow ourselves to fixate on and worry about. I have seen this play out both ways in my life. On days when Juliana begins to hiccup/spasm I have almost and instant physical reaction. That sound of a hiccup can actually make my blood pressure instantly increase now. So much so that when my other kids are hiccuping I find myself having to say "It's not even her! CALM down". There's been many days where she starts and I've let my defenses completely go. I'm not having any control over my mind or anxiety and it spills out over every person around me. It's not pleasant. Other times, by truly the grace of God I can feel my anxiety rising as her watch her spasming in her sleep and I can grab all the crazy out of control thoughts that want to come rushing in and bulldoze all my joy - and throw them at the foot of the cross and actually leave them there! I'm not talking about stuffing your emotions during stress or that it's wrong to have emotional reactions in terrible times - but to know the JOY of having a savior who will carry these for us if only we let him. The jail door is wide open and we can walk out or stay inside of the prison anxiety can create. When we can cast our anxieties truly on him - it's incredible the peace (though sometimes still heartbroken physically) he can give us and sustain us.

 "When difficult circumstances come into my lie, 
I hear God's voice saying, "Linda, let me be the blessed 
controller. Surrender. Accept my timing. Accept my way. 
Accept my outcome. Let your trust be in me alone. Make
 secret choices that will honor me. Thought no one sees 
your choices or knows how difficult they are, make them for Me."

How beautiful - we aren't good at doing much in secret anymore. Even as I sit here in a coffee shop I "had" to document it on instagram. While I'm not saying that there's something wrong with sharing our life openly or through social media (for heaven's sake I'm writing a blog haha) - I am challenged that we've lost some things done in the quiet, when nobody is there. Sometimes, so desperate to share our pain we seep out into every social media outlet or the people around us instead of falling on our knees alone with our savior. I have to stop and sometimes ask myself (when I am using self control) "Am I wanting to share this instance in my life with others so that they can walk with me through it (good), so that it might help others (good) or so that everyone knows how hard I have it worse than them OR gain praise for my lot from men (not so good) ---- these lines can be easily blurred and it's why I am wanting to be intentional about looking to Jesus FIRST. Giving him my first and often that is enough. It doesn't need to go anywhere else cause he's holding it now.

"God has placed our portion in our cup. We either
 choose to grasp it by the handle and lift it to Him, 
saying, "I accept my portion; I accept this cup," 
or we choose to smash our cup to pieces, saying, 
"God, I refuse my portion. This cup is not the right 
size for me and I don't like what You've put in it. 
I'll control my life myself." 

Yikes I've seen this in my own heart. When I look at things that aren't what I expected in my life {could be job, family choices, spouse/relationships, health, children} I often want to scream "NO! I don't like this is not ok" or "I didn't sign up for this" as if I was entitled to a suffering free life with perfect health and whole relationships.  How can I so easily forget which side of heaven I'm on.
Another quote - sorry so many good ones. You didn't think you were actually coming onto my blog to read a book?!? LOL Surprise!!

"Your life is out of control, so you give up. It's impossible
 to make sense of life, beyond impossible to be content, 
so you give up and give in. Most of us either try too hard or
 we quit trying. In both cases, we miss God. We miss
 His infusion of strength that leads to contentment."

Among the millions of things I've learned through Juliana's medical journey - is that my beginning mindset was for God to help "get us through it". And sometimes that's all we can pray right? - help - and he meets up there too. What he's been slowly showing me is that his desire is my heart and whole whole self. That through the process of pain he would be showing me more of himself - not a simple fix or aid. That the work he's doing IN me is so much better through it than out of it. I can't hold back pieces, clutching tightly saying, "no this is too fragile. If I give her over to you fully, what might you do?" and there - in that soft stillness it's where I see how much I can trust him. I can take all my precious parts and hand them full over to him WITH peace. It's a work in progress still.

In this book I love that she gives physical applications to practice this surrender. For her it was an anxiety box where she would write them down as they came to her and she would place them in the box, and every time she saw it she would remember she left them there with her Lord. She urges the reader to do something physical to be a visual of where you are placing your mind and worries. For we know we cannot do both right? We can't worry AND trust God. For when we allow anxiety to reign we are saying that we don't quite trust Him. My last quote:

We're familiar with the small trickle of fear that meanders through our minds until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. 

It gets us nowhere, much like a rocking chair worry is often described as something to do but with no progress. But it does do our emotional state, relationships and health harm. I've seen in my life that no amount of will power or "I will trust God!!" mentality will get me there - it's by him and him alone that we can live in peace free of anxiety.

Surrender - cast worries - trust. 

I'm excited to keep reading and pray that if this is something you're also struggling with you will read it, find friends to walk through things with and most of all that the Lord's tender love would settle deep your heart, casting all fear away. 

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**To borrow a description from her book - There are friends who I know who have experienced anxiety attacks due to a chemical imbalance in their brains and must be on medication to control their anxiety, This is a physical problem over which they have little control. This is not the kind of anxiety to which I am referring. I am talking about the everyday worry we allow to control our lives.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

~ Luke's First Birthday ~

Happy 1 year my precious Luke!

Crazy that almost this exact time a year ago we decided it was time to head to the hospital and a few short hours later you were born! #fastestyearever

You are such a joy and light in our family!
You have a sweet, mischievous spirit that I could sit and watch for hours. I adore when you see something you want to get to and speeeeeeeed crawl to get it. I love watching you chase your older siblings and especially when they are covering you in kisses - I can literally feel my heart swell at the way the 3 of you interact. Truly, you have brought with you such a new dynamic in our household that we love.
We really enjoyed this year with you! I think by the 3rd child parents are often able to simmer down and just sit and soak up each milestone - that's how it was for us at least! I enjoyed this *first* year probably more than any other one!
It's been a flow of emotions this year watching you grow - while we *plan* Lord willing to pursue fost-adopt- you are our last baby! That has been such a roller coaster I wasn't expecting. There are definite things I will never miss - sleeping to name just one little one. In the beginning I don't mind those wake up calls to snuggle with my newborn. But as the year goes on it gets less magical haha. The gymnastics nursing one year old is just not the same. sleep child - SLEEEEEP.

But the things I'll miss? How could I ever name them. The flutters of a baby moving inside of you - there's nothing like that. I could actually cry thinking back to each moment I grasped each of my babies onto my chest after they were born. I relive those moments often - I just love it!
That sweet baby smell - marveling at each tiny detail of baby. This has to be one of God's most special gifts to us. Celebrating each sit up, crawl, step with cheers of joy and a tinge of sadness that you can't go back in time. What will I do without the baby sleepers that are just SO cozy.
Like I said. Too much to get into.

We had a fun *little* celebration with our parents and siblings last night.

Had so much fun making this little cake for him!

Just a few drumsticks ;) 

Daddy making sure it tastes ok. :) 

He was a big fan !

Basically wouldn't stop giggling as he ate it :) He didn't the whole thing I couldn't bring myself to let him eat that much lol!!!!

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Juliana Update

This update has been a long time coming, sorry about that. 
We have not updated as much as facebook lately for several reasons and I'm sorry that left many of you who care so much for her uninformed! 
It can be hard to "update" when it feels like nothing is changing, and I don't want to sound like "woe is me another awful hiccup day" but then I realize we haven't said anything about them in so long.

So where we are - in a nutshell, 
Not much as changed. 

She continues to hiccup/spasm every couple days. 
There continues to be no noticeable pattern about when or why they begin. (For about 1.5 years I kept a detailed log of what/how/when each day). But once they start we know they won't be stopping for about 24-48 hours. If something random happens that stops them short (like falling and hitting her head lol) and they stop "prematurely" say after 12 hours, they usually begin again the next day and go for the full 24 hours again. They are incredibly cyclical and it's like they follow that cycle no matter what you do. So usually the first night she has them (for example lets say she starts hiccuping/spasming in the morning sometime) then that evening at bedtime we know they will go all night and we won't try anything crazy to make them stop because usually:
1. It doesn't work anyways and just brought a lot of attention to them/stress her out
2. If we stop them that first night they will just begin again in the morning and be worse the following night. 
As the "hiccups" go on her stomach/esophagus begins to get very fatigued and begins to spasm per each hiccup. So for one hiccup it may go out several times looking like a muscle spasm. 

Needless to say - incredibly frustrating for her and our family! 
About 5 months ago she needed to have a crown put in *yes another one $$$$* and we opted for having that sedation in the dental office to spare her the trauma of going through the whole hospital routine once again. We were definitely nervous about it because having your child go under general anesthesia in that outpatient of a clinic is pretty nerve wracking if something went wrong. But after at least an hour on the phone with the anesthesiologist the night before literally asking every question I could we decided to go with it since he had done 100's a year and never encountered a problem. She started hiccuping on the way there but they assured me it wouldn't be an issue. I guess after she breathed into the mask and feel asleep her body went into one of her spasms but this time he said it was over 100 contractions and he couldn't get her oxygen up and it was dropping too low - so he was about to wake her up when her tried one injection of a drug that paralyzes the body and they stopped. 

When he called me in after he said to not call what she has hiccups anymore because it leads doctors/anesthesiologist to put them into a certain category they don't belong in. He said it wasn't quite a seizure but wasn't a hiccup. He called it an entire esophageal spasm. Anyways that's the main reasoning for us trying to refer to them as spasms now! He also asked how we manage them at home since he could see that during a long spasm her oxygen dropped. That for us, is one of the most stressful parts. For whatever reason they get the worst at night after she's had them for a long time. (Interesting to me that they got really bad when he put her to sleep and she has them the worst once she falls asleep.......I haven't figured that out yet) Usually on these nights if we check on her before we go to bed and she's having 5 + spasms per hiccup then one of us sits in there with her and makes sure that she can breath ok. If she has a really long spasm like 20 contractions we push on her stomach and it seems to stop that spasm. I get extremely concerned that we will go to bed and she will have a really long one and pass out - but try not to let my mind go there. And Jeremy is almost always the one that sits in there her these days to be honest, because it just makes my anxiety go - up which is hard to admit. In the beginning, when she would have really bad spells I wanted to be right there with her, but it's like now the very sound of a hiccup makes my heart rate increase :( He is great to give me those moments of protection when he can. 

She also continues to be on the steroids, strong antacids, and  an elimination diet (no wheat, dairy, eggs, soy) for her EOE. This is an autoimmune disease you can read about here
They still believe that the hiccups/spasms have no correlation to the EOE, at least they can't see any right now. She will have another scope in about 6 weeks to see where we are at. 

On top of traditional medicines she goes to the chiropractor, we use essential oils, she's had a year of cranial sacral therapy, and many other "wonder" drugs from natural sources that people have given us. And truly - Thank You! I know these all come from a wonderful place in your hearts to help! We try everything pretty much within reason at this point :) 

We've had quite a lull with appointments lately because frankly, I was pretty tired after the birth of Luke and adjusting to 3 kids!! And what is incredibly frustrating is that since every doctor we see has "never seen, heard or read" about anything like this they really just don't know where to send us. So it usually stops there. We have to continue to push so hard if we want things to move forward which is hard when I am just as in the dark as them about what to do next and when to call it quits. When we go through months like the last 6 months where we've taken "breathers" it's really really good for her sense of well being to not have so many appointments. But then it's very hard to have her tell me her stomach hurts and how she wants her hiccups gone and I realize I have to continue to fight for her to have a better quality of life IF possible. It's so much emotional energy each time to hope for a possible fix/cure/cause and to come up with none. It was a year ago this week where we shared that video of her hiccuping and it was viewed 14k times. While I'm not going to lie, it is very discouraging to get any hopes up only to each time have them fall, The Lord has truly given us peace this year more than any one previous - and that is a gift that gives our souls life. This is awful, but it's not the worst. He can sustain us through this and he will sustain her through it. 

Please pray for her heart in all this. As she is getting older and so much more aware she asks a whole lot more questions. "If I pray will my hiccups stop?" being the most frequent. -- tear--
Pray for us as we guide her through the fact that we have prayed and prayed and he still has her going through this - and for her to know that he LOVES her and sees her in all this. And better yet, he is very near to her in her suffering.

We've also had her begin seeing a child psychologist -- not really our thing at first I was pretty skeptical - but it's been great. She helps Juliana prepare for appointments - particularly sedation's. Jules has shown a lot of OCD behaviors that seem pretty typical with the out of control feeling she has about all going on with her body. Her Therapist has been amazing at working at all this with us. I am grateful we started when we did because it was so painful to watch her struggle sometimes the entire day by things she couldn't get past. Like if she wanted to open/touch the door first she wanted everyone to get back in the car and go back down the street so we could come back and do it right. And then once we got in the house I would look over at her and she'd freak out that I wasn't supposed to look at her until x, y, z. Obviously kids do weird things, I would say if your child shows ocd tendencies don't panic most kids do. They like stuff their way. But when it was getting to this point where it was 5 plus issues and hour I knew it was time to outsource for some help. And I guess it's incredibly normal for kids who'v had situations like this to want to control things in their safe zone = home. Her therapist also helps us know what and how much to tell her about each appointment. Juliana has to heal from past medical "traumas" as well as the ones she continues to need to have. Being held down against my will and put to sleep 11 times in 2 years would probably traumatize me too :( 

To end on a great note - her speech is improving so much! The decision to hire an in home speech therapist was SO GOOD. She has truly come so far!!!! She just needs to work up her confidence that her friends and family CAN understand her now ----- if she speaks loud enough :) 

This girl is a precious gift and we adore her. While we sometimes don't feel up to the task, God made us her parents and entrusted her to us. 
We LOVE APPRECIATE AND NEED all your love and prayers! Thank you friends!

Here's a peak into the binder I created for her:

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Resolutions 2017

Looooook at this beautiful space right now! My hubby gave me the gift of a couple hours no kids this afternoon and I'm at a local coffee shop soaking it up. 

A little cliche for me to post today but it was actually a great exercise for me to go through the process of thinking through and even writing out my hopes for this coming year. With most, the end of something usually causes us to look back and reflect on what was. I have a tendency to not reflect when things come to and end and continue bulldozing ahead. I'm grateful for the time to sit and think about this last year. What did God do? Where did I grow? How did I struggle? What new patterns have I developed good or bad? How have my kids changed? How has my marriage changed? 

When I think of "resolutions" there are a few things that instantly come to mind. Of course these a more than a quick and easily fizzed out resolution - or lets pray they are - and I my hope is they truly become a life change.

First and foremost - 1. Quiet Time with the Lord DAILY
Every time we have a baby it's really hard for me to get back into a designated time with God. Obviously the weeks after with a newborn are the most challenging, and that's when I know reading a verse here and a verse there is all my brain capacity has energy for - and Jesus is there with me in that as well. But my youngest is almost 9 months old and I've still had a hard time getting that daily daily time. I have lots of good reasons why that's challenging but none of those matter cause my spirit is desperately longing for that time.
 I need it. 

I was chatting with some friends recently about how it seems like lately it's easy to say to someone "oh I know it's so hard I never read scripture either, I totally get it". Almost like now it's the cool thing to say how BAD we are at something too. While trust me, I love that empathy and being in the word/sitting with God is never something to check off a list -- we all agreed as we chatted that it would be so refreshing for someone to say something more like "Oh man, it's SO hard to get that time but it's so so valuable. What do you think you could do to work around that? Can you help me too?" Hebrews 10 says 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 
I hope that along with my daily TIME with Jesus, I am able to spur others and and be encouraged on by others to make that time in the word a non-negotiable. Again, not because it's "law" or the mark of being "good", but because it's a joyous time and I can easily feel when I'm not getting it in.

2. Phones Down People. 
I've noticed a big upswing (word?) in my phone usage this year, and I don't like it. Listen, I love phones and I specifically appreciate them when needing directions and also on days when I'm home with littles all day to feel connected to the outside world through social media. I think it's so cool how we can stay connected with people and have a sense of community without even leaving our house..........BUT.........I also see a lot of problems (please remember this is my issue - I am by no means judging your use of your phone or praising your lack there of). I've realized that whenever I'm waiting for an appointment, coffee, food whatever for more than a few minutes I instinctively pull out my phone. It's like our brains are getting more and more wired to need to be entertained all. the. time. Like we aren't able to be still for a minute, alone with our own thoughts, or be bored. Guys, I've even moved the facebook and instagram app to the last page of my home screen INSIDE a folder. Let's hope that helps. I desperately do not want to miss out on things with my children or opportunities around me because my face is in my phone. It also is/can be an addiction and I don't like that thought either. It's like our go to when we are uncomfortable - think about a time you've seen someone or something and just to avoid the awkwardness you pick up your phone! Jeremy and I are working out what this will look like in our home as well. We want to put a time where the phones go away for the rest of the evening. We will see how it all plays out :) 

3. Get Healthy (er)
2016 brought on some health challenges for me that weren't expected and I am still working through. When I'm ready to post about that I will haha. But I'm mostly excited for this year getting my body healthy! I'd love to take up a new activity like running (gag me....I or dare I say, dance again. I'd have to find some adult class with no mirrors so I'm not humiliated by what I see hahahaa. 

4. Encourage
The Lord has been so good to me. He has put friends around me this year that I can't even express enough thanks for. Even one friend like that would be a treasure. I long to be an encourager by habit. There's no reason to limit or be stingy with our words of praise and I pray that God will use me and my words and actions to bring joy to my friends this year. 

5. Finish books. 
I am TERRIBLE at starting books and not finishing them. I want to finish all those last chapters in books I've have the lack of discipline to finish! I'm working ever so slowly through Dillow's "Calm My Anxious Heart" and am realllllly enjoying it. If you struggle with anxiety in any capacity I encourage you to check it out. She talks so much about taking control of YOUR mind and thought life and laying down the worry and anxieties for God's peace and joy. I'll share more as I get through it! 

6. Blog More
I love this space. Even if just for myself it gets my thoughts organized and my focus realigned many times. It's almost like when you've been in your own head for way too long with something and once you get it down you realize - wow that is way not as big of a deal as I've turned it into in my mind! Words on paper (or screens) can get those thoughts in place. I love to read back from years past as God walked with me through highs and lows. 

Okay that is way more than I planned to put down - I feel like I could go on forever about what I hope would happen in 2017. The coming days are His and I am grateful for all the breaths he's giving to me. This life is a gift - hard, sometimes so hard, but a gift. Knowing the love God has for me and you sets a peace so deep in my heart and I pray it does for you too!

Happy New Year! 

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