Our firstborn of 5 kids hit a MAJOR milestone (for us anyway!!)…and hit the double digits 1-0!! We started a tradition that is going to be so fun to do with each of children leading up to turning 10. We decided 10 and all the ages that follow sound SO much bigger than the single digits! SO for the 3 nights leading up to the big 1-0…your LAST days of being a single digit–you are taken out ALL by yourself and one parent for an ALL kid activity!
Countdown to 10…the 3rd night before the big day–Richard took P-man to Bruster's ice cream and he got whatever he wanted! His choice was a waffle cone (the biggest there!) with chocolate!
Countdown to 10…the 2nd night before–he and I went on a school night to one of his all time favorite places that he wished we had visited more–Chuck E. Cheese! We had the place to ourselves running in at 8pm on a school night and it is by FAR one of my all time favorite memories with this kid now. We laughed until our sides hurt! We cheered each other on at the game Deal Or No Deal (Boy did we rack up the tickets there!!). We played football toss, basketball (as we screamed at every success!) and skee ball until our wrists were sore. It was so fun together!!!!! And so fun laughing…just us!
Countdown to 10…day 1…the NIGHT before he turned 10…God tooooootallt planned that one FOR us! The next day we were taking his 6 best buddies to Lake LanierWorld Waterpark. It just so happened that 2 of his buddies needed to spend the night that were going so they could go. They also happened to be the friends he met when he was just 1!!! Lifetime friends. These two guys were on our reasons NOT to move when we were trying to decide to stay here or go to TN where Rich's “real” office is. Rich took these boys out to their favorite place followed by more ice cream! And of course lots of swim fun here!
And then. In a blink. My baby turned 10! We had a sitter for the littles and we rocked it at LanierWorld from sun up to sun down!
This was the one moment they actually were all still:)
I may have cried that night after tucking him in. Not sad tears. But thankful. Thankful that we have had these 10 years. With good health. With seeing him come to know Jesus. Watching him grow into a boy of integrity. And these friends. These are the ones God has hand picked to be the ones grow with him. The day truly couldn't have been more perfect and I was so thankful some how each of these precious boys could be there as this momma stood in the background…watching them play…and praying for another amazing 10 ahead.
Oh AUGUST! You slay this momma!!! With his birthday also comes the start of school. Another year schooling for us at home. Our first day of K for Frank and Isaac!
And I doooooo get a break once a week when they do their electives at a local church alongside 900 homeschool kiddos! They take everything from cake pops to karate to geography.
And then. There's always life on the farm. Had to stop at the Feed and Seed to get chicken feed. Frank convinced me every farmer needs a hat and overalls! Oh my heart!
In other news…
1. Zeke got his head stuck in staircase railing. A must see Instagram video on my Instagram andrea.p.young shows my not so smart self sticking my head in to widen the rail for him. Um. Not my brightest moment but I was desperate to get his head out.
2. Our Created for Care team was invited to meet with Chick-fil-a to share about the ministry for adoption and foster mommas! We had such fun and there are some sweet things ahead with our ministry and Winshape!
3. With 4 boys and 1 girl–our girl convinced the boys to play prom with her…but she needed another couple for the double date. These two = HILaRIous!
4. And last but not least…LABOR DAY WEEKEND! We loooove spending time with this sweet singles community that Rich's best friend leads a house church for. They invited us on their weekend retreat and blessed our socks off with around the clock caring for our kids! Soooo fun!
We have been friends with these folks for 15+ years so it was a sweet weekend with friends who are like family!!!
And that wraps up August and now comes September! This week Loo starts back to ballet AND tomorrow is Zeke's FIRST day of preschool!!!!!!!
Have a sweet week!
Going to catch up on documenting some of our recent fun! A few weeks ago Rich had a business trip scheduled for Traverse City, Michigan. He has several clients there so he goes every few months. After visiting Traverse City with him for the first time 5 years ago–we haven’t missed a summer taking the crew since! It is by far one of the most beautiful places to vacation in the country! I loooove Hilton Head–but I’m afraid not much can hold a candle to Lake Michigan. We are totally smitten with the mitten state:)
And yes–I often dress them the same when we travel, so I can easily spot them and I know exactly what they are wearing should one walk off. Oh these are so LoVeD!
So instead of flying SEVEN to Michigan–we decided we would pack up the van…and DRIVE!
I was certain it would be something we would later regret. BUT Y’ALL! It was so FUN! We started off on the wrong foot with a broken DVD player and realized our 16 hour car ride to Traverse City would be filled with road games. After a few rounds of Eye Spy…the car tag game and the ABC sign game…I realized we had been in the car for 30 minutes;) (insert emoticon with BIG eyes!)
We pulled over at BestBuys where we bought a NEW DVD player and hopped on the road! Yay! We can do this!!! As soon as I got all the straps and wires set up (insert lots of “Rich–PLEASE drive careful while I do this so I don’t go flying out the window!)…we discovered it did NoT work. We laughed and decided to just be old school for this leg of the trip (7 hours)! Our plan was to stay in Cincinatti for the night which was near the Creation Museum as our first attraction to see.
Oh my. An attraction it was! There were even scenes in there that the wax figures made me uncomfortable;) Adam’s awkward arch here…um–keep walking kids.
Children. The Creation Museum. It’s how you were created. Moving on…
The grounds there were lovely! Full on par with ATL Botanical Gardens!
After the museum–we scooted to the heart of WKRP…Cincinatti! We followed our sweet local friends recommendations for pizza and ice cream. Oh my. Amazing. Oh my word the local recs are the way to go! Aflame sis Brothers for ice cream was the best I have EVER had! http://www.aglamesis.com
Cutest place ever. And the server with the pink bow tie…perfection!
My sweet friend Maria Davis opened her home for our family for the night. Oh MY. The adoption momma community is a tight, sweet one! We stayed there and got right back on the road when the sun came up heading for Traverse!
We drove a solid 8 hours with the intention to stop at Best Buys and exchange the DVD that didn’t work for a new one…but that NEVER happened. Crazy right?! We embraced all things old school and it was actually fun!!
I use the UrbanSppon app for insight where to eat and half way there led us to a hole in the wall burger joint…that was really good…and cheap!
A few more hours…and we arrived at one of the most beautiful places on Earth…Lake Michigan! Oh the fun to be had here! Film Festival week and clear blue water without the salt or sharks!
The next days were spent playing on the water, in the Traverse Resort hotel pool, picking cherries and visiting with Richard’s client’s families!
Then…after a fun week we started our journey home but first stopped for a couple in another city to get in time with one of my dearest friends Carissa Woodwyk. She is AMAZING and has come alongside our Created for Care team for years now being the most beautiful voice for adoptees. She’s become one of my best friends in the world…and I’m so thankful for how she shines Jesus in my life and heart.
She is also braver than me…I’m terribly scared of heights and other things she’s not…so I take the pictures some time of those experiences instead of greeting too close:) It felt high…I promise;)
Lake Michigan is sooooo pretty! And the beaches!
After a super fun time with C…we headed to see my friend Lovelyn and have lunch and ice cream with her fun crew…
Yes! A lot of kids between just 2 moms!!!! But they are almost twice our size! And she mothers soooo gracefully and her children are all so sweet and loving to one another.
The next. Hold your breath…
If you do not know what this is…it’s a time machine. And you need to watch the movie. It’s important. And my homeopathic doc reminds me of Doc.
And then…these on the ride home.
We stopped in Louisville for dinner…(Zeke is happy here…his “cheese” face is just intense!)
Then we made it to Nashville after midnight and crashed! We were thankful for the big breakfast before our last leg home!
And…we finally made it to a Best Buy and RETuRnED the DVD player! Instead we got a single player to play my IEW Intensive Writing Skills DVD classes on for homeschool:)
We are already talking about our next ROAD trip next year but I think we want to just stay longer next time! We are so thankful for the friends we got to see and spend time with! And we are super thankful for my house sitter Tami who stayed here to feed the chickens and Oreo while we were gone!
Hope you all have a blessed weekend!
Y'all. I'm seriously tech challenged. Rico Suave bought me an ipad 2…TWO…years ago so I could blog on the go…and I'm just now trying to figure this out. Sooo if this works yay! Testing. Testing. This is only a test;)
Some of the hardest places for people to walk into are the places filled by Christians.
How thankful I am how the Lord has been showing me this these past few years.
But how hard it has been to see.
And to some times–even FEEL.
We’re a welcoming bunch…right? Christ followers. Christ imitators. Inclusive. TOTALLY inclusive. Right?
Some times God takes His own children to really hard, dark places so their eyes will be opened…so they will step outside of their comfortable and know better how to be REAL–to really love.
And some times those Christian-filled places we run to are really good at loving each other–but when an outsider comes in…it’s just as easy for the outsider/newbie to
I’ve tossed and turned about sharing this as it’s a hard for me to be THAT vulnerable–but the Lord won’t allow these thoughts and feelings to leave my heart–and if it encourages someone–just one out there–then it’s worth sharing the hard seasons. If a Christian filled place has made you feel unwanted–you my friend–are NOT alone. Even Christians experience this–so don’t give up on Jesus just because of ‘us’.
And I want to say something else before you read further…
I’m sorry if you have ever felt that way.
I’m sorry someone didn’t come alongside you.
I’m sorry we/they didn’t know or see or try to understand.
Please know that wasn’t Jesus.
It was man.
Sinful man. To caught up in making things comfortable. Or easier. Or wanting to dodge the hard…that may or may not have had you in it.
I’m so, so sorry.
Even Christians mess up and their vision becomes cloudy.
It could have been me that made you feel that way.
And I’m sorry–I’m sorry if I…we…other believers ever made you feel that way.
Please, please do not see it as Jesus.
Because He stands at the door…always waiting…over and over…with His arms big and wide–accepting you. Loving you. Welcoming you. EVERY TIME.
If you’ve felt anything else–it wasn’t Jesus. And I’m sorry.
Recently I found myself in such a place…okay so like a year ago…but the wound fresh–and this place has haunted me…even as a child of the Most High. Even knowing what HE thinks of me–and what those who know and love think of me.
Just last year–I was in that place many of you find yourselves in when you experience a BIG life change. What feels like a TORNADO. We had just brought home a 2 year old who didn’t speak English. I was homeschooling and had found a sweet environment for my kids to go to a couple of days a week while they learned (something I knew we’d need with bringing home a special needs new one that required lots of doctor appointments at first AND being a homeschooling family!).
A Christian community would be a safe place for them to keep doing school work and at the same time I’d have a couple of mornings to connect to our new one. My hopes had been being a part of this Christian community would be a big support for our family during this life change–only for whatever reason–at the time it seemed to add more to my plate rather than remove it. I asked for help. I honestly needed help. Not as in help-help…but as in–other believers to come alongside me–encourage and cheer me on help. And one day (okay for lots of days!) I found myself overwhelmed.
Sitting in the directors/administrators/whatever-you-want-to-picture-because-I’m-carefully-trying-to-honor-this-place-and-not-share-too-much office…I felt relieved. Today was the day I would pull one of my kids OUT–leave one of my kids in who was THRIVING–because keeping up with 2 different things in our crazy…well, felt very hard AT THE TIME. I was DONE. DEFEATED. Overwhelmed.
Our other child, who was THRIVING, we hoped to keep in. But as we sat there talking–the staff shared how unsure and CRAZY my emails sounded as I shared in some how much I LOVED it there but in other emails like I couldn’t keep up.
(Have YOU ever been there? A momma overwhelmed after a major life change…no sleep…taking ONE day at a time—knowing if you can just get through THAT day…tomorrow would be a new one. It’s a FRAGILE, yet holy place to be. One we run from and never ask to return to–unless…unless He has something refining there for you to shape you more like Him.)
And then already quite broken…the words were spoken that haunt my heart.
“I want to speak truth to you Andrea. Your emails hurt my heart and make me so sad. Your emails sound like you are schizophrenic…”
This was speaking truth?
But for this momma’s heart–at the time…it caused that world that was already spinning to only go faster as I sat there.
I kneed Richard under the table. Is this really happening?
Y’all. I truly felt. In that moment. CRAZY.
Maybe to these leaders–these Christ followers I really looked that way in this season.
But the only problem with this “truth speaking”–is that I was and am not schizophrenic or crazy–but rather I was going through a REALLY hard time.
(Have you ever been there?)
I sat there as the world turned–and before I knew it…we were leaving with not one–but with both of our children exiting…trying to figure out how in the WORLD we would break the news to the other who loved it there.
Really? You think both need to go? Oh my. Not our plan. But okay.
They encouraged us to take both littles ones out–and to be freed up to be us.
We were in this together this family of ours.
I sat in the car with Richard–and the tears poured down my cheeks.
I didn’t feel loved.
I didn’t feel supported.
I didn’t feel wanted.
I felt weeded…OUT.
OH MY. And I even FELT CRAZY!!!
I even ran home and googled whatever illness this Christian leader had just said I might have!!
Here we were. Without weeks of sleep with our new one home from China. Trying to homeschool. Hoping to find others to walk with us…hoping this might be the Christian community to encourage us through it.
But we had it all wrong.
Expectations all over the place–in the wrong places.
We DID need help from other believers–but we had gone to the wrong places…and I’m quite sure some of my emails DID sound crazy at the time as I wanted my kids there but felt so overwhelmed trying to keep up!
Have you ever been there?
In a hard place.
Feeling out there or alone. (Y’all this is SO vulnerable for ME to share–because NOTHING has ever made me feel crazier than that experience!)
I came home and called my best friends. My family. Surely they would tell me the truth.
I called my mentors. And maybe even a counselor.
Was I crazy??!!
Most tried not to laugh at me as I asked.
I told them to please take this seriously–because clearly to these people–I sounded crazy!!
They did, in fact, take me seriously when they realized I was.
They loved me.
They said they were sorry.
They offered play dates and Moms Night Out…until we got through this season of hard.
Because they knew.
In that season.
That was the last thing this mom adjusting to a whirlwind of change needed to HEAR.
What it truth? The fact I might have been so in love with my children–wanting the BEST for them–but feeling sleepless and tired with all the change…YES…I might have some times sounded confused or crazy. BUT–as believers–is this how we love each other? Do we show each other the door? Weed one another out? Avoid? Or love? Like really love…
I’m QUITE sure I sounded pulled. Overwhelmed. Confused. Maybe even crazy some days. But–this. This isn’t the truth we as believers EVER need to speak.
Because some times I think we THINK we are telling hard truth.
But often–it’s not truth at all.
In fact–I’m still working through the lie I heard that day. I clearly know I do not have what this Christian leader said I sounded like–but I do struggle with the lie that “I’m too much.”
What I needed to hear in the middle of the hardest days…
“I can tell you are overwhelmed. I can hear it in your emails. How can we come alongside you? How can we pray for you? How can we be the body of Christ? Will you not give up on us as we choose not to give up on you? Let’s do this together. Keeping our eyes of Jesus and pulling in others to help you through this really hard time.”
I had no idea.
I really had no idea what to say when others around me were struggling.
This has been one of the sweetest gifts of even growing our family through international adoption–where little loves come to us after months some times years in hard places. Adjustments are never, ever, EVER easy. I’ve seen more families go through marital crisis after adopting unprepared for the changes and stress of helping a child heal from trauma and life change.
And when families go through hard times…when friends go through hard times…when strangers going through a hard time happen to reach out to me…
My FLESH…the un-Jesus part of me…I probably wanted to weed them out.
To do JUST ENOUGH. To avoid. To take them a meal…and say I was praying–and to walk away.
To say, “Now when you get things worked out…we are still here…and then–then…THEN…we’d love to have you back.”
Why do we have to go through this hard?
Why does it come?
And what do we do with it?
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
I really believe the Lord had us go through that difficult season so we would be able to better walk through others when they go through theirs.
Often God will also show us “our people” by who says the LATER (“How can I stand beside you through this”) instead of the former to us in the valley. This. This will be worth the valley alone. I promise. To know you are in the presence of those willing to walk with your family through whatever may come–and love your children through it as well–in your valley you will find them because God ALWAYS provides when you ask. Finding these brothers and sisters in Christ–this alone will be worth your valley.
It has changed me.
I want to look for (even seek out!) the struggling and pull them in…because God’s going to show up. Where the church is–HE ALWAYS SHOWS UP.
When she sits across from me in tears–as she weeps…maybe the truth my flesh wants to say is, “Sweet friend. I have so much going on. You have GOT to go to a counselor. Can I help pay for a counselor?” That sounds nice doest it? Or easy? But not always the church…
Maybe instead–I’m supposed to sit there, LISTEN and go there. To just be a friend. Or to find someone who has been in that same place to join us…to encourage her and point her to Jesus.
Maybe instead of weeding out the uncomfortable or getting the hurting out of our environments–we are supposed to invite them in and walk with them through the most difficult. Maybe we are supposed to give them food and shelter and take really big, hard, sacrificial risks…at all costs…because they are worth it–being the church–His Kingdom come…is worth it.
Maybe instead of being annoyed by the jobless that to us seem so capable–we need to look deeper at their past…maybe the loss or hurt in their lives that is causing something much deeper than we can even see. Instead of worrying and justifying that we are just being enablers if we help–we need to leave that in God’s hands and do the good we know we can do right before us. (James 4:17 “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”)
If you’ve seen a church…it’s steeple…and you opened the doors–but you didn’t see it’s people. I’m sorry. Many of us have done a terrible job of showing Jesus–and I ask…for your forgiveness.
If you are in a hard place–RIGHT NOW…I want to pray for you. Check in on you. And to remind you that you are not alone. So please contact me any time if you are reading this right now or 5 years from when it is posted. I would be honored to pray for you even if it’s across the country and I can’t be there to physically walk with you through it. But I would love to pray that the Lord would provide those who will.
Know that if you go to one place and you don’t feel Jesus–it’s NOT Jesus…because Jesus will always welcome, always walk with you, always care and always refocus your eyes on the Bigger…carrying your burdens–the yoke–until you are strong again. Keep looking for and seeking Him out–praying to find His people. He is faithful and will bring you a great community to run beside you–just as He has done for me. I’m so thankful for those He has brought into my life to shine His love into my life! If you aren’t in a church and you hate visiting them–I get it. But don’t give up. Take breaks if you need to until you find a place that feels like home. Where HE is present. I promise–it will be worth the wait and the search.
May we be truth tellers with vulnerable hearts–inviting others into our worlds and learning and living what it really means to be His people. Give the things you have heard that are not from Him TO Him…and walk freely knowing He is enough for you. And remember–tomorrow has enough trouble of it’s own–so just get through today…focus on today…and look for HIM in today. You can do this no matter how big or hard whatever you are going through may seem!!! He is faithful!!!
You are loved!