faded knees

An entire week of December went by before I managed to change the page on our calendar.  When I finally did, I took a step back and stared.

The picture for December is from last December: my parents, brothers, their wives, children, and our family.  The four men sat in front with the ladies behind them.  The longer I looked I realized all of the men had faded knees on their jeans.

A visible indication of time spent with nieces, nephews, granddaughters, grandsons, sons, and daughters.  Everyday since changing the calendar, when I glance at it, I smile at the faded knees because it's not style they were going for, it's love.


be the moon

I'm pretty sure Mardel still sells the t-shirt with that phrase on the front: Be the Moon.  On the back it says, reflect the Son.  As cheesy as it sounds, it is an accurate description of what we should do, and actually what we will do if we are spending time with God (the Father).  When we're not spending time with Him, we will inevitably show our nastier selves in a variety of ways.

Remember when your kid was two or three and you would notice some quirky little trait or some irrational fear they had?  It's cause they were being the moon.  There is an intentional parallel between us and our children and God and His children.

We easily notice when we are more patient, loving, and kind with those around us as a result of being with Jesus and reading the Bible to sustain our souls, but what we often fail to notice is when our own children display characteristics they have picked up from us because (shocker...) they are with us all the time.

I noticed sometimes when Ronin is sensitive about something, it does no good to talk about it, or he gets extremely emotional.  This baffled me for the longest time, until finally, I saw myself do it.  Now don't misunderstand me to say that our children have no identity of their own--they do!  But they are most like you and your spouse, because they belong to you and they are a reflection of you.

This is assaulting on a couple fronts: all of the sudden you just thought of something one of your kids does that you haven't been able to explain until now.  Also, if you love Jesus, you know you don't spend as much time with Him as you want to and because of that, your kids will reflect it.  While many say your relationship with God is just between the two of you, it's just not true.  It effects everyone around you (and it should), especially your kids. 


why Portland?

At this point, many or most of you know we are planning to move to Portland, OR in January 2012, but what you may not know (even if you read Church Plant Media's blog post) is why.

The last time our family made a decision this big was when Kevin joined the Army, which was seven years ago.  I remember everyone looking at me as if I were crazy and Kevin was insane for not realizing a war was going on, and there was a 99.9% chance he would end up fighting it.  

The growth and maturity we experienced as a result of moving, enduring 34 months (training and deployments) apart, and moving back to our hometown was incredible.  Most poignant is this: God is sovereign and He is absolutely worthy of our trust.

A few months ago, Kevin mentioned to me an opportunity to serve at an Acts29 church plant.  We have been interested in serving in this way for several years, so I perked up.  The church plant is out of Mars Hill, and plans to officially launch in January, but held their first meeting last Sunday (click the link to read an interesting article).  Kevin and I began to pray.  

We found ourselves literally on our knees in prayer, seeking to be submissive to God.  After a lot of discussion, Kevin began to explore the option further.  He first talked to our pastor, then to his boss, then to the church planter in Portland, and had conversations with all of them again.  

Each conversation seemed to take us closer and closer to making the move to Portland, one of the final deciding factors actually was Kevin's mom; she was diagnosed with colon cancer just a few weeks ago.  We needed to know the result of her surgery and what stage the cancer was.  The surgery removed the cancerous tumor, the labs showed it was Stage 1 and she would not need chemo.  Everything has confirmed our decision to move.

As a result, this month Kevin will launch a new website called, Tools for the Sower, a vision we believe is totally from God.  It will be a resource for church planters and ministry leaders everywhere, providing a place where they can receive quality information on a number of resources (i.e. websites, bookkeeping, furnishings, etc.).  In this way, Kevin is still connected to his friends at Church Plant Media.  

The goal is not for Kevin to be on staff, but is very similar to the goal we had when he joined the Army: to live intentionally for Jesus in a difficult place.  Some people seem to think Portland will simply be awesome, and that is why we want to go there.  While there are wonderful things about Portland, it is not the Bible Belt, and we're aware.  

So, I write to inform and I write to plead with you for your prayers (again) as we take our first steps on this new journey: for wisdom, for reliance on the Holy Spirit, and for the truth of the gospel to be constantly evident in our hearts, words, and actions.  We now stand firmly in the truth we became so grounded in during the time in the Army, God is sovereign and He is absolutely worthy of our trust. 

the big ONE (12 months)

Reflecting on the past year has been so overwhelming, I haven't been able to put words to it until now.  Evan and Eli are constant visual reminders of God's grace and miraculous power.  They endured so much before even entering the world, and then fought their way right out of the NICU into our home at the end of last October. Just as much as the little guys (and the older ones too) are reminders of God's grace and power, they are reminders to me of how much I need His grace and power.

The comments I receive from people are generally the same, "You've got your hands full!" "Double trouble, huh?", "Are they twins?", "All boys?", and the all-inclusive, "Wow."  Because the comments are usually the same, so are my responses, "They are wonderful!", "It's great!", "I wouldn't trade 'em for anything.", and some others.   People often look at me and they feel overwhelmed.
 However, there are some extra-ordinary comments.  The best of the year came from a little girl when we were at the park; she saw the twins, and asked, "Woh...are they connected?"  And another from an older lady at a grocery store (when I was there with all four boys), as we approached her, "What a gorgeous family! Really!"
 But, there's also the worst, which I didn't hear until just a week ago when I was telling a lady I had twin, one-year-old, boys, she said, "What a nightmare!"  In case you were wondering, you should never say this out loud, even if you are thinking it.  For us, it is quite the opposite: it is extremely entertaining, and sometimes just like a dream.
For all of you who have been on this journey with us, thank you for your consistent prayers for each person in our family, we have all been in need of His faithful grace, and we have no doubt the prayers of the saints on our behalf have been a means of keeping us sane and even joyful. 


the best job

Some of us choose the calling, to others it was definitely given.  I am in the second category, but because our second, third, and (technically) fourth children were planned I also feel I am partially in the first category.

My oldest son wanted to talk to me, just the two of us, no Daddy and no Ronin; this kind of time is pretty hard to come by, but we managed to sneak away to the back porch on a Sunday morning for some conversation.  He asked what it was like being a mom and dad (he also asked what it was like being married, because he's really nervous about it---that is probably a post for another day).  I responded honestly, "It is the hardest job I've ever had."

"But it's the best one."

It's true isn't it?  There are moments that I think really highly of myself, those times when all the children behave really well when we're in public, and I contemplate all the hard work we have done in raising them thus far.   Then we get home and they start whining, I yell at one of them, one of the babies will inevitably hurt himself, and on and on.

Reality sinks in...I am not the perfect mother and I do not have the perfect children.

To continue the hard work despite behavioral outcomes is incredibly challenging, a task I cannot bear; I do not have the consistency, the patience, nor the perseverance needed to be all the things our four children demand of me.  It is only in the power of Jesus Christ that I find all these things, I discover on a daily hourly basis I need sustenance that I can't provide for myself.

He is enough for the sometimes monotonous tasks of a mother's day.

Motherhood is a calling (it is not more noble than that of being a father or even of being single), and it is hard.  It is hard because the by-products of your work are constantly in front of you, because there is a temptation to count yourself worthy often, because to be successful it requires trust in Jesus--for the strength and for the future of your children.

It is the best job because it provides a daily means of my sanctification, because I see and understand more God's love for His children, and because when I slow my mind down long enough, my heart swells so with love it is hardly bearable. 


11 months

 Here is Eli.  These days he smiles and laughs all the time.  His new favorite thing to do is raise both hands in the air and wait for you to say, "Yay!!"  He occasionally fights with Evan if there's a really cool toy involved.  He is completely mobile, even shuffling along the couch sometimes.
 These pictures were taken on OU's first game day of the season.  Kevin wouldn't have them dressed any other way to start off the season.
 Here is Evan.  See that spot just to the right of his mouth that looks dirty, it's a bruise.  These are the days of scrapes, bumps, and bruises.  Seems one of them gets hurt at least once a day.  Thankfully, I have two other boys that prepared me well for this stage, so I can say "uh-oh" instead of crying every time they get hurt!
If you are contemplating what to get your little one for Christmas, forget all the high-tech toys and get a box of tupperware.  All of our kids have seriously enjoyed playing with the tupperware cabinet, and it keeps them out of all the other ones.

This post is a little late, which means in just a couple weeks I'll be posting about their birthday!  

get on the floor

A few weeks ago, after a full day, making dinner, and cleaning up, I was exhausted.  I wobbled into the living room and laid on the floor.  It only took two minutes for both the babies to come charging at me, climbing on and over me; in two more minutes, the big boys were rolling around too, and in two more, Kevin was there too. 

It turned into tickling, laughing, and playing for at least twenty minutes.  We were having so much fun; I hardly realized it was time for bed.  As all of us caught our breath, I sent the boys off to get ready for bed, and then changed the babies into their pajamas.  Once everyone was settled in their beds, and Kevin and I were sitting comfortably, he looked over at me and said, “That was fun, huh?”

It is pretty easy to get lost in the mundane tasks of our days, and forget to laugh and play.  I think we would all be pleasantly surprised at what happens when we get on the floor. 


10 months

It is hard to believe that a just over a year ago, I was in Houston for fetal intervention surgery. Today, our little guys are ten months old, and healthy as can be. They are reminders of God's grace and miraculous power everyday.
Ronin put the cowboy hat on Eli, but Eli managed to give us his best John Wayne face all on his own. Eli is still "low crawling," but is pulling up when he feels like it. He prefers to use his brute strength to get places, he is determined to power through anything to get where he wants to go, even if it's your leg. He's got heart, and doesn't give up!
Evan is completely mobile now, he crawls, pulls up on anything with ease, and his favorite thing to do lately is pull everything out of this coffee table and climb inside. He is our little explorer, he ventures into the kitchen, the hallway, the bathroom (if he can get there while it's open), and any place he sets his mind to.
They are moving through baby food pretty quickly and seem interested in solids; we finally had to buy a second booster seat because they sit with us at meal-time occasionally.
They are incredibly smart and are already completing alphabet puzzles! Well, tasting alphabet puzzles is more like it. They love playing with the big boys on the floor!
A couple days ago, Evan was pulling up on everything in the living room and Davis said to me, "Mom, I can't believe how fast they are growing up! It won't be long and they'll be walking."



For those of you in Oklahoma, you know the best time to play outside is anytime before 10am. It was a Sunday, so the boys were already dressed, the babies were taking an early nap to prepare for the long day, and Kevin wasn't feeling well, so he was resting too.

I stepped outside and it actually felt nice; Davis and Ronin were ushered outside and I joined them in a lawn chair with my coffee cup. I went in to check on the babies and Kevin, after talking with Kevin for five minutes, I told him I needed to go back outside because I had told the big boys I would. The sound of the sliding back door told me I had already waited too long.

I looked up and this is what I saw, two little Braveheart boys ready for battle. Not only were their faces blue, their arms and legs were too. I sent them outside to take off their shirts (which were smeared with blue chalk too). Kevin looked at me, smiling, and said, "It really is pretty funny."

The not-so-funny part: we needed to leave for church in twenty minutes and I wasn't even ready yet. I rotated them through the shower, leaning in and scrubbing their faces, arms, and legs. They were being exactly what God created them to be: boys. Thankfully, God gave me the grace to laugh and not scream when I saw blue-faced-boys standing at my door.


9 months

Here are the beautiful boys at nine months, pictured above is Evan, who started scooting just a couple days ago! Evan is our cuddler, he loves to snuggle with his family. Davis loves holding this guy (and sometimes carrying him around the house). His new found scooting ability has brought him a lot of happiness. As they continue to grow, it appears they will also be looking just like their Dad!
Evan on the left, Eli on the right, they are all smiles! These days they almost always need something in their hands to be chewing on; though they don't have any teeth yet, they do enjoy eating! They love each other. Both manage to get around the living room floor pretty well by rolling and turning, it's pretty funny to watch them maneuver over and around each other.
Pictured above is Eli, and if you can't tell, he really enjoys food; he thinks puffs are the stuff! He has been sitting up on his own for a couple weeks now and thinks this independence thing is pretty awesome.

We had the opportunity to tell their story recently to some new friends, and found ourselves in awe again of our great God who is still in the business of miracles!


I am beginning to understand why my parents, grandparents, and others are constantly in awe when looking at our children. Look at this kid, he is seven (he is holding up the sign for 7), and he never ceases to amaze me. From his love for Jesus to his love for chocolate milk, he is a passionate boy.
We have been through a lot, he is the one boy who will always remember the ache of Kevin's absence through two deployments. He fiercely loves his Daddy, and wants to be like him, which is the only reason I ever let him cut his hair almost completely off.

Davis loves his brothers and wants to lead them well, he has even called himself the "leader of the pack" He is learning how to be tough, how to communicate with Ronin, and how to hold and carry his little brothers.
He has an appreciation for the wonder and beauty of nature, he will exclaim to me, "Mom, isn't that sunset beautiful!" My response is always, "Yes, yes it is." I am confounded at how God has given him such a sensitive heart and eye for the things of Him.
For his birthday, we buried some treasure and hid a map; he and his friends searched the backyard and eventually dug up the box of money. We are so thankful for seven years with this wonderful boy and thank Jesus for the treasure of our son.


no more pronouns

I have the most wonderful mother ever, she comes over regularly to help out. Most of the time she helps me keep my sanity by doing dishes, changing diapers, and providing me with some much needed adult conversation. She came to the rescue on Davis' birthday party day by helping clean the house and cooking almost all the food for his party (Kevin grilled the chicken). Kevin came home early to help pull the whole thing together too. I was looking for him, and was walking through the house saying, "Where did he go?" My mom answered, but she assumed I meant Davis when I meant Kevin, and that's when she had a grand realization:
there are five he's in our house. Which was a huge lesson for me: I will have to stop using pronouns in our house.


8 months

Because I know you are all concerned with how big they are getting. Here they are at eight months old (Evan on the left, Eli on the right). Also, their shirts say "smiley" and "happy" which aptly describes them these days.

i am four

Anyone remember what happened on May 24th? Yes, yes, several tornadoes swept across the heartland (again), but it was also Ronin's fourth birthday.

Here he is on the morning of his birthday. Pretty darn excited that he is four. Ronin has been a blessing from the day he was born. He has been laid back from day one, and never in a hurry for anything. He loves nature, playing in sand and dirt, dump-trucks, and he really loves his family.
He planned out his entire birth-day: for breakfast: a blueberry cake and twist donut, for lunch: sammies from Quizno's, for dinner: pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs, strawberries, apples, grapes, and bananas, for dessert: vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. Ronin declared it would be a vanilla party with the family, and he wanted to go to the park (we didn't make it to the park, but we did go to a friend's house and play outside). To end the day well, he wanted to spend the night with my parents.
No tornado could get him down, as we hunkered down in the bathroom, helmets and all; he asked what we were doing. I explained, and he said, "Oh, cool." We waited out the storm, and my brother and his family came over after to celebrate.

God is so good to us, and in case we doubted, He showed us His mighty power in the tornado, and His immense blessing in the smile of our four-year-old all in one night.


shut the door

Since learning the meaning of the word "privacy," Davis has also found a need for it.

He always spends a notoriously long amount of time in the bathroom for, umm, let's just say #2, and has never felt a need to close the door, he usually tries to have a conversation with you or sings. But now he shuts the door for "privacy."

We had several conversations about the word to clarify the definition, yet for a few weeks each time Kevin hugged me Davis would say to Ronin, "Umm, Ronin, c'mon, let's go to our room, Mommy and Daddy need some privacy."

"No, we don't," we told him.

I explained to him there are things we need privacy for, but hugs are definitely not one of them.


the most important thing

Davis and Daddy occasionally go have coffee and chocolate milk at the coffee shop for some quality time. Recently, they talked about what had been going on at school.

Davis explained how each student stood up to say what they wanted to be when they grew up; his answer: to be a missionary and tell people about Jesus. Apparently there was some discussion amongst the kindergarteners about which job would be the coolest, most agreed: policeman. However, Davis felt the need to tell them being a missionary was the best job, why? Because telling people about Jesus is the most important thing you can do in the world.

Pray with us that Jesus would continue to put a passion in his little heart for Himself, and Davis's vision of who God is and the importance of telling people about Him would only get bigger and bigger.

7 months

This was taken on May 2, the day we got home from our Colorado trip, and also when the babies turned seven months old. The big boys sincerely love the little ones. In fact, I'm telling them constantly they can't be so close to their faces. This is a pretty typical scene at our house, hope you can feel the love.

first plane ride

We have some dear friends in Colorado, and because of Kevin's deployments to Iraq, they are like family to us. Since I've been pregnant, had surgery, and delivered twins, there has not been a lot of time to make a trip out to see them. Until recently. One of our friends got married and gave us the perfect reason to make the trip.
Here I am in the middle of Denver International Airport. We arrived a little too early (for our return flight), so I spent a significant amount of time strolling the concourses with the babies in hopes they would fall asleep. To no avail, but I think we saw every person in the airport, or a more accurate statement might be: every person in the airport saw us.
Evan did incredibly well, we were so blessed to have a row to ourselves (otherwise we would have had to sit on opposite aisles).
I love this stroller, it was easy to break down for the security checkpoints, a must when each adult is holding a baby. Evan is on the left and Eli is on the right. When we arrived to the OKC airport, Kevin had a startling discovery: Everyone is going to stare. By now, I am pretty accustomed to the staring and comments by strangers, but he was not. And he was right, everyone did stare, and it probably would have been worse if we had all four boys with us.
During baby-trade-offs we thought it would be fun to put one baby in the empty middle seat, they thought it was pretty fun too. All in all, it was a great trip. Eli did just as well as Evan, and considering the entire trip was quite a bit of traveling (whether by plane or car), they were super!


too quiet

Kevin was gone for work, so my wonderful mother-in-law took our older boys for a few days to help out. The first hour was so nice, so quiet, but then this morning I started feeling the need to scat around the house; bee-bopping around just so there was some noise.
Eli and Evan are now sleeping like big boys in their cribs and are no longer swaddled at night or for naps. This has been quite an adjustment, one that Kevin should be grateful he did not have to endure.
However, it means I get to capture little moments like these. Eli's little bare-feet, his face in his hands, and his new favorite way to sleep: on his tummy.

After they eat at eleven o'clock, they are usually bombarded by Ronin. He is in their face, talking, laughing, giving them toys.
Not this time; it was quiet, Evan went right back to sleep. He threw his hands up once at the sound of the shutter on the camera, but turned his head and kept on with his after-nap snooze. Evan's hair is growing much faster than Eli's for some reason, and I just love it.
It is nice to have some lazy time with the babies, but I think I am ready to have our big boys back in the house making a ruckus.


an ode to children (and the God who gave them)

Any mother will tell you that everyday is not a holiday, some are so incredibly difficult that at the end of the day, you feel like crumpling into the couch and crying; and sometimes we actually do it. However, the ways in which they have enriched my life are too numerous to count because they are indeed gifts from God.
I know more now what it means to love without condition: none of our babies ever did a tiny thing for us to love them, yet the love that fills the space in my heart for each of our children is overwhelming. I know more deeply now God's sovereignty over all things, even when your baby's life is hanging in the balance. He has shown me He is good and He is in control whether He gives life or takes it away.
I understand more now than ever how the sufficiency of Christ for the work of my salvation had absolutely nothing to do with me in the same way the birth of Davis, Ronin, Evan, and Eli had nothing to do with them. God formed them in my womb through the glory that is found in the intimacy of marriage. None of them just decided they were going to be born one day. It was all an act of God, every part. From conception to delivery not a moment was in their control.
He has shown me through the gift of children glimpses of what the Father sees when He looks at His children when they are hurting, and His desire and complete ability to comfort us when we feel pain.
He has shown me through parenting how His mercies are new every morning; how regardless of the times we fall and fail, He continues to hold His hands out and encourage us to take steps to Him. Because of my inability to answer all the"Why's?" our precious two-year-olds ask, He shows me He is the Answer to all my questions, the Truth is found in Him. When little eyes look to me, I am confident I must look to Him.
Having children is a blessing, it is a means of refining my heart in ways I could not have imagined. The ultimate reality that it is all about God (not about me, or even my kids) is deeper now and fresh everyday. The call to motherhood is a rich and weighty one, and I am challenged, honored, and rewarded consistently.

I celebrate those who have made the choice not to have children so they can see children added to the kingdom of God, I do not judge those who are unsure if the task of motherhood is for them, I empathize with those who long for the warmth of a baby to fill their arms, and I ache for those who have known the presence of a baby in the womb and lost it.

The solace is the same for all of us: Jesus. He satisfies our deepest desires, and we can trust Him with everything: the joy, the frustration, the uncertainty, the longing, and the pain.


resting means trusting

Several weeks after delivering the twins, Kevin and I wanted to take our older boys for an outing to remind them how special they are to us, even though the new babies dominated most of our time.

We got some frozen yogurt. Both the boys ate up every last bite of their specially mixed treat.
Then, we went to a park close to our house. The boys were pretty sure they heard some construction in the distance, so Dad, Davis, and Ronin took off on an adventure, and I made myself comfortable in a swing.

As I sat, I watched them run, laugh, yell, and enjoy their time together. I hadn't noticed even a hint of wind while we were outside, but I noticed I was gently swaying in the swing.

The presence of God was so evident to me in that moment: when we are at rest in Him, we will easily be moved by Him, but we have to trust He will hold us. The resting in Him is not with anxiety, but with abandon.


never, never, never

As a disclaimer, let me say I am a fan of PBS Kids. Solid programming for my children who are six and three. However, we watched an episode of "Super Why" on Saturday that I am regretting more and more each day.

There was a prince who had a seriously bad attitude and any time he was prompted or encouraged to try something, he would respond with, "I'll never be able to do it, never, never, never!"

Davis has used the word "never" more in the last three days than he has the last three years. I prefer the saying, "Never say never," over the pouty prince's never, never, never chant. The goal of the story in the cartoon was to prove the prince needed to be positive, but in actuality it encouraged the opposite because of the repetition of the negativity.

It had to happen sooner than later, so tonight we had a nice talk about ways that are appropriate to use the word "never." I asked the boys to give me examples, the negativity continued; Davis gave me this one: "I will never fly." It took some hard thinking, but we finally came up with some positive ways to use "never" and my favorite was this: God never changes.


cutest kids ever

So, I know I'm biased, but goodness, look at them in their five-month-wonderful-ness. I cannot believe it has been five months since this crazy journey began. I have to take deep breaths to contain the intense gratitude I feel nearly every time I look at them.
Evan is on the left, and Eli is on right



One from Davis:

"Mommy, I think I like playing with the babies better than I like my toys."

Two from Ronin:

After singing a song to him at bedtime, "Mommy, I like you. You're the best singer ever!"

Kevin asked Ronin, "Is Mommy strong?"
Ronin, "No."
Kevin, "Is Daddy strong?"
Ronin responded emphatically, "Yeah, like Superman!"


snowed in

It is quite a change living in Oklahoma after Colorado when weather like today happens. It is around 9 degrees here in Oklahoma City and I know for a fact that in Colorado Springs it is -10. I chuckle to myself that the governor had to declare a state of emergency in order for the roads to be taken care of in advance for the ice and snow that was headed our way yesterday.

I got the call around 7pm that Davis's school was going to be cancelled today, so we have been enjoying a day stuck inside. At 9 the boys were begging to go play in the snow, but the wind would have knocked them down. I knew if I did not let them out at all, they would be sad little boys all day long. So, I decided to let them make a small trek outside to scoop up bowls of snow to bring inside and make snow ice cream.

Ronin doesn't have any snow boots, so we had to put Wal-Mart sacks around his cowboy boots, I think the look is priceless.
Here they are admiring their snow.