Friday, July 28, 2017

11 Years

Last year we celebrated our 10th Anniversary.  It was a milestone I was so excited to hit.  I remember having a conversation with Peter as we were reminiscing on our anniversary date.  We were discussing all the hard things we'd successfully overcome together in our marriage.We made a statement that with everything we had gone through in the previous 10 years that there probably was nothing that we couldn't overcome in our future years together. Maybe it was pride, maybe some arrogance, but I was completely oblivious to the bumpy road coming our way.

There is no more pride or arrogance left in my body. I find myself humbled to admit that it has been a tough year. Tears have been shed, angry words have been spoken. There were a few days I actually dreaded knowing my husband would be walking through the door soon. This was not what I had in mind when we married! I want to be careful to not overshare the journey we've been on, but to try to give a small glimpse of the restoration that has taken place in our lives. For the first time ever, I experienced days that the only thing keeping me going was remembering the sacred vows and commitment we promised to God and to 300 witnesses on our wedding day.  These were the days we had been given advice to prepare for but hoped would never come.  There were days I had to remind myself that to do anything but to continue to fight for our marriage would be defeat to satan and destruction of our family.

We're still a work in progress, but I can stand here today, 11 years into our marriage and say we have experienced restoration. Something we didn't even know we needed to experience 12 short months ago. Our biggest imperfections were revealed and through diligent and sometimes just plain hard work, we're being refined and healing has taken place. I think what helped us most was that BOTH of us had a strong desire to fight the battle and come out on the other side. It hasn't been a pretty year, in fact the feelings can still be a bit raw. But here's the thing, as we walk through on the other side of this refining process it's beautiful. This is so much better! This is authentic, this is intimate. This is honest and real.

1 Corinthians 13 is always a popular wedding day verse for the newlywed couple and when you have those stars in your eyes it's hard to imagine ever actually being in a tough place and needing to fight a battle for your marriage.  But I have spent more time reflecting on portions of this scripture this year than ever before.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not self seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  These verses are pretty and fluffy and and cute to say, but man can they be tough to live in the heat of the battle.  If this was the true definition of love, we had some work to do.  One of the biggest things I can recommend when going through marital hard times is to focus on your individual relationships with God. Sometimes I had no idea where to turn when I looked at us, but I could always turn to God who had never let me down. I know we could have never made it through this year without both of us turning to God for help. He was able to repair and redeem our relationship in far quicker fashion than we ever could have done on our own.

Thankfully, through much work, our story didn't leave us in a dark place. We have continued to pursue "better" for our marriage. Our relationship is now blossoming as never before. We feel like newlyweds again!  In some ways our relationship is new as never before.  I once again look forward to the second my husband walks through the door every afternoon. I miss him when he is gone. I want to make sure we have found time to connect every single day. I highly respect the man he is. I know I can trust him to lead our family. He is a true man of God. I can share my feelings with him without fear of judgement. I feel safe with him.  I love him more than ever before.

Never again will I be so prideful to believe that our relationship is 100% bullet proof. We are on guard to protect our most valuable earthly relationship. I firmly believe that satan wants to destroy marriages thus destroying families. It will always take diligent work to keep our marriage strong. I have never been one who was willing settle for a mediocre marriage relationship.  I've always wanted to strive to make it better and better. A year ago, I thought our marriage was good and rock solid. By all appearances it was actually pretty good, but rock solid it was not.  We've worked really hard this year, we've forgiven over and over again, we've communicated and communicated some more, we've turned to God individually and as a couple.  With both of us committed fully to God and fully to one another I know we can't go wrong. Here's to another year!

To the love of my life on our 11th anniversary,

What a road we have walked. Thank you for always fighting for us and never giving up.  Thank you for committing to always do better and be better. Through our pain has come happiness and joy unlike anything we've ever experienced before. I know that as hard as the last year has been, we will look back on this year and realize its profound influence on the betterment of our marriage "til death do we part". I have always loved you, but my love has grown exponentially!  I will never forget how sacred that night on the beach in Jamaica was as we recited our new wedding vows to one another. Just us, the sea, God, and maybe some crabs along the rocks heard the words but it couldn't have been more perfect. Our marriage feels young and new and exciting, and yet, there's a maturity there of a couple who has weathered a few storms together that wasn't there in our early days.  I've loved the 11 years of marriage I have been your wife.  I go into this new year of marriage filled with hope.  My prayer is that we never stop pursuing each other and that we are blessed with immense amounts of joy.  You've already made me so happy and I love you today more than ever before! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Peter's Birthday

 This year Peter's birthday fell on a Saturday so we wanted to spend the day doing something fun as a family.

A good start was when my mom dropped off a pie bright and early that Peter gave the kids permission to dig right into!

Then we were off!  First stop was our favorite Portland donut shop which gives you a free dozen for your Birthday! The wait was 40 minutes but totally worth it for our favorite - the dirty wu! 

Then we were out to the gorge for a fun little family hike. We wanted to test the kids a bit to see if they enjoyed hiking and if this might be something we can do more of! It really was a lot of fun and beautiful! 

After a nice little hilly test with the kids, we made it to the best part!  

Time for a cool down! 

Then a quick stop to the fish hatchery. The kids had a blast feeding the big fish! 

Then it was a drive back to one of our favorite quick dinner spots! 

And church and home for Peter's favorite dessert! A wonderful day celebrating my love! 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Foster Pup #35 - Furious

Her name wasn't quite accurate because she was quite the happy pup, but if they meant Furious in the form of furious energy - well she had that! 

This was the first time we had a Heeler mix and I knew she would have some energy, but man oh man she never laid down!  Fortunately she slept great and never let out a peep in her crate. She was also very intelligent and I think some boredom resulted in wanting to chew and explore everything. But all in all she was pretty good and really adorable.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Reconciling Disappointments

2016 was a hard year.  I entered 2017 very hopeful that this year would be better, much better.  I remember having a heart to heart with God as 2017 started.  Peter and I are both extremely goal oriented and love to strive towards our goals.  I remember approaching this question.  What are some things that seem humanly impossible, but with God could happen this year?  I remember quickly  jotting down some high hopes. I knew they were things He could accomplish in our lives.  I really hoped he would.

Here we are 7 months into this year, and my hopes and dreams have not gone quite as expected.  In fact most have ended in pretty big disappointment.  Typically when I lay my requests before God, I end that prayer with "not my will but yours be done."  I've tried in my heart to truly believe those words,  but as more time passes and it seems my requests have been ignored, I've began to see that maybe I haven't really meant that part of the prayer.

It has grown heavy on my heart, but this past week or so the theme of articles and Bible study and even our church sermon have been so applicable to this part of my life.  Do I want to settle for my desires or do I want to trust God that his way and his plans are better than mine? God has never let me down and yet I still have moments where I doubt Him.  Through and through, there are times He gives me the very thing I desired. But even when His plan doesn't look the way mine did, His way was better.  So why do I doubt his plan for my life this year?

It's funny the amount of time we spend stressing about things. It seriously can make us goal oriented folks crazy. I just wish I came to the conclusion earlier that I don't need to stress. I remember the books awhile back Don't Sweat The Small Stuff And It's All Small Stuff.  I spend so much time stressing about that worst case scenario, and then when the worst case happens (as it has seemed to do often lately) guess what?  We come out on the other side just fine.  It's okay when things don't go my way.

I've learned a lot of lessons, it may take me some time unfortunately as I am a wee bit stubborn, but nonetheless lessons are being learned.  I have learned I need to be content where we are in life.  I need to stop focusing so much on my life goals and enjoy this journey and where we are in this moment.  I need always remember to count my blessings.  Nothing beats disappointment down faster than praising God for all the blessings He has given and He has provided for in my life.  It keeps it all in real perspective.  I need to remember how good we have it.

I have no idea what the remainder of 2017 holds for us.  I've finally come to realize that God doesn't owe me anything. He doesn't have to make a single one of MY dreams for the year come true.  My goal is to praise Him and draw closer to Him no matter whether the remainder holds valleys or mountain tops.  I trust Him.  I know that through Him, whenever the time is just right, whatever He has for us is going to be good! He gives good gifts.  Even when I can't see what lies ahead, He reminds me "Be still and know."  So I will continue to strive to be better. Be better at being still and waiting. Not letting my mind wander but keep my eyes focused right on Him no matter what my greatest fears may be.  He is always good.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Phone Dump

Time for another phone dump, and it's a big one and the pictures are a little bit mixed up! 

We ended our spring sports and activities with awana awards and a little backyard smore time. 

We have spent countless hours in the yard sprucing it up. Still a long list to go, but it's looking so much better!  

Finally got Eli to take at least one picture in his cap and gown. 

Dentist appointments for all the kids at the same time! Bina still wants her daddy with her.  LB had her first visit and was a champ, all ready to go! 

We were able to attend a bbq with an amazing pool with a view! 

Have I mentioned yard work?

Peter had a quick little trip he went on, and my mom took the boys for a sleepover which left us girls with a whole fun day to ourselves of girl time! 

Complete with a spa night for the little ladies

Something big was going down in the backyard. 

Peter, my dad and brother and uncle, and his dad and brother all went on an ocean fishing trip. They limited out super fast!  

Summer finally showed up, fortunately it hasn't been as relentless as last year! 

Spring sports wrapped up. Eli was a lot of fun (for a t-ball player) to watch! 

My littles (and hubby) made me the best Mother's Day Brunch! 

Peter and I also partook in another fun little datebox

The kids have been learning how to rollerskate

The garden is producing! 

Thanks to Prime Day, we picked up a couple DNA tests. Always fun to learn a bit more about adopted kiddos. 

We've been trying to get more involved at church and now that we have two in the elementary class it is easier. They had a blast at a water wars event! 

They act like they don't like each other, but they might just a little bit

School experiments! 

This was a unique moment in time with these two, but Eli loves head rubs and back rubs! 

Starting to pull some weight around here! 


Lots and lots of smores this summer! 

Every weekend through berry season you can find us at the berry patch! 

And we find lots in our own backyard too 

For the 4th of July, we went out fishing with the boys

Another big project around the firepit (when it was 100 degrees out there) but I am so happy with how it looks! 

Sometimes we even sneak out there after the kids go to bed just to chat and enjoy the peaceful evening! 

Peter got a really great Father's Day present 

More time at the berry patch 

Summer fun, this is what it is about! 

More projects (even working on Father's Day I might add) 

Father's Day, we all love this guy! 

A little  Kindergarten graduation party for Eli! 

All he wanted was a little family baseball game 

And lots and lots of chocolate desserts 

Garden has given us lots of yummy food 

I've been trying to expand my recipe box! Some Gnocci with bacon, fresh garden peas, and a Parmesan sauce!

Summer Reading Program! 

Peter took the boys fishing for Father's Day. Mal caught a massive bass! 

Learned a fun magic trick with one of our datebox nights, had to share it with the kids the next day! 

Another new recipe and a family favorite, pork wellington! 

Fun watching my girls become besties too! 

This summer has been pretty low key but we've been loving the family time we've had so far! Even though things get busy here for the next couple of weeks, we hope the good and simple days will continue!