Grief on Good Friday

Well, I find myself here once again. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to feel compelled to write. Then, today it struck me. I had to, but I’m scared. I’ve been communicating with the Lord all day. Good Friday is a day of grief but also one of hope. That’s exactly where I’m at in this moment of time.

I’m not a keep it all in kind of person. AT ALL. I’m a spill it all over kind of girl. I can’t hide it. I don’t want to. I believe I’ve been created that way for a reason, a true purpose.

I figured this might make foster care hard. It some ways it has. In other ways, it has not. The truth is I want to share what I want to share. When it comes to foster care, I only want to share what I want to share. More than anything, I want to protect this precious blessing that we have been gifted with for a time period. That time period is unknown to us. I’m far more okay with that that I ever thought I could be. However, I don’t really like other people discussing it. Don’t get me wrong, it will absolutely feel like a death if she leaves us. I’m prepared to grieve. However, when people talk about her moving on or ask us if we’re adopting her, I stiffen up and these giant mama bear claws start to come out. Hopefully, no ones physically sees them, but I feel them ever so real. We do not know our current little one’s future, but God does. I’m good with that. I’m fulfilling whatever role He has called me to fill. I do not like anyone talking negatively about our blessing’s biological mom. Sure, I have some bad thoughts and regretfully so have said some negative things that I would rather have not. The reality is no one else is her, and no one else has ever walked in the exact same shoes as her.

The grief I’m currently feeling isn’t from our current precious little blessing. There is another one. I cannot remain silent about it. The grief is too deep to pretend. A couple of weeks ago, our family took in a little girl that we believed and hoped would be a part of our forever family. Before she joined us, I felt God gently speaking to me that we were getting ready to enter into fire. It wasn’t a warning to not do it. It was more of a question of would I still say yes knowing our family was getting ready to enter into some really hard times. I couldn’t talk about it for a handful of days. I knew we were to say yes, but admittedly so, I was terrified. I pray I can always be obedient. I’m thankful I was.

This little girl fit nearly ever vision I’ve ever had with adoption. The pictures of our kids with her look like a fairytale, and I’m so thankful they will always remain. However, as I’ve said many times before, pictures lie. Maybe they don’t technically lie, but they stretch the truth in a big way. There can be amazing moments in the midst of mass destruction. Unfortunately, nearly immediately we knew we were not to adopt her. It stung deep, but I was confident. Our family dynamics without a doubt are not what is best for her. There is no way we could have known that beforehand. I without a shadow of doubt couldn’t keep my kids happy, healthy, educated and safe, and I couldn’t deeply foster the greatness that is inside this amazing little girl. I could do one or the other, but it was physically impossible to do both. If we proceeded with the process, I’m confident our family would have fallen apart.

Doing everything I could to get someone that I loved deeply out of our home as quickly as possible was horrible. Saying goodbye to “my daughter” was heart wrenching. Seeing her hesitate and want to run back to me when she had to leave was a collapse to the ground type of feeling. She and I definitely bonded and attached the most out of anyone in the family. However, all of us individually have or are currently experiencing grief.

There was nasty stuff, terrible sickness and fear for the majority of the time we were blessed to have her with us. However, I got to have so many amazing moments with her. I was able to get her healthy, see some big growth in her academics and help her face some of her fears. I got to get her ice cream, take her to bounce at a trampoline place, go to the zoo and ride the carousel, play at the children’s museum and more. One moment my husband and I will never forget is seeing her worship to Reckless Love in big church with our family. We discussed after the kids went to bed that night just how powerful that moment was. We couldn’t believe it when it came on the radio in our van a few days later, and she said, “that’s my favorite song.” My husband and I looked at each other and said “what?” She repeated that it was her favorite song. Talk about a goosebump moment. God was with us all along. There were so many moments that made it clear she was to come to us, but she was to leaves us as well.

God never leaves us. When Jesus was on the cross, He cried out, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 In that particular moment, Christ took on the full burden of all our sins and thus the feeling of separation from God. He knew that this was necessary to redeem all of us. This gives us the opportunity to spend eternity with God, our Father. Similarly, when we experience times of growth, they come in the form of difficulty. It may feel like separation for a brief moment of time, but the reality is its intended to ultimately bring us in unity with Him. Just as with Christ on the cross, Sunday is coming.

The girl that I will forever hold in my whole heart as a daughter has a Sunday coming. The grief that I’m currently experiencing is the result of a bridge. A bridge that goes from her past to her future. This forever family that is close to being created is about to have an amazing future full of hope and love. Because of that, I’ll never regret having been obedient.


Closing down 2016 & Opening up 2017

Wow! It’s completely surreal to be where I am right now. January 1, 2016 I spent at the beach celebrating the survival of Christmas music. Obviously, I’m not a huge fan. K-love, you were so good to me this year. Christmas music was kept very minimalistic, and it was MIRACULOUS! A little can go a long way and mean oh so much more. Here I am sitting back in Indiana just a few days after Christmas, and I’m still enjoying looking at my Christmas decorations. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿพ

It really is unbelievable what all can transpire in one, short, little year, even if it seems to be filled with 365 long days. Nobody fully understands the saying, “the days are long, but the years are short” until you become a mother. Some days I’m convinced there are far more awake hours in a day than I can handle. Dang though, the years truly do seem to go by like a freight train. The kids are no longer babies ๐Ÿ˜ข, my husband and I will celebrate our first anniversary in the double digits this year ๐Ÿ˜ณ, and quite honestly, time just seems to be slipping away…

I refuse to just watch it go by. While I’ve done my best to live life to the fullest, I want to do it even more in 2017. While I’ve tried to be patient, I want to be far more in 2017. While I’ve made an effort to love and care for others, I want to do it even more in 2017. I’m not always the best version of my myself, and I’m well aware that God covers me daily in his grace, mercy and forgiveness. However, I don’t want to live there. It’s time to live with Him continuously and allow Him to be a part of my everything, so patience and love can flow out as quickly as they pour in.

The end of 2016 brings a peace that I’ve been so desperately longing for. So, I’m determined to carry that peace well into 2017. My major goal is to remain calm despite chaos. I don’t imagine the chaos that is my children will calm anytime soon. However, I’m confident that the best chance of that happening is me remaining calm. I’m going to need a whole lot of Jesus but needing Him is just what I want. 
Rewinding through 2016…

Feeling oh so blessed and thankful. “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalms 9:1

May we all find peace despite our circumstances in 2017 as we allow our Heavenly Father to pave the way. 

๐Ÿ˜˜ Courtney

Caylee’s Big Decision!

It’s hard to believe that Brayden’s baptism was a year ago. Caylee never talked to us about baptism until that day. That day I think she felt how special baptism is and saw true joy on her big brother, Brayden’s face. She has told Brad and myself on numerous occasions that she wanted to be baptized. The frequency increased the past 6 months. Though she was determined, she was patient. When we asked her why she wanted to do it, she expressed that she wanted her sins washed away and she wants to follow Jesus and be a disciple. After one final discussion with her, we made the plan. She didn’t want to wait any longer, and I knew the pools were on their way to being COLD!  

Mommy and Daddy are so proud of your big girl decision Caylee. We love you very much. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

When God says go, GO

For months and months now I’ve struggled with words to write. I’ve started more than a handful of blog posts but was never able to bring them to completion. I’ve been frustrated. Felt like a failure. Told myself, “You never finish anything. Why can’t you just do this? It’s for your kids. Don’t you want something to help relive the memories? It’s for them. Just do it.  Just write. Just post.” But.I.just.could.not. That is until today. Today I’m ready. I don’t fully know why, but I pray that the Lord is with me as I write…

When God says go, GO. Not because it will be easy. Not because it will be all planned out. Not because it will be comfortable. Not because it will be everything you think you need and want. All because when God says go, you obey. He is God and must reign over your life. It is critical to relinquish complete control. Not where it is comfortable. Not where it is easy. Not where it is only fun and exciting. Relinquishing complete control over to the one who created you sounds easy and simple. Why is it so difficult? 

Maybe it’s because we listen and look to the world when all along we should have been listening and looking up to the one who created it. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

I live for change and all things new, but then I despise it and want all things old! I’m always up for something new right until the time comes to actually make the change. Then, I suddenly want to put breaks on, whip into reverse and high tail it right back to where I was and am. 

We get nowhere if we don’t allow change to take place. Do we really want to sit in the exact same spot for the rest of our lives? Or do we want to go and do when God says go and do? Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it’s unpredictable. Even when it’s painful.

So, I’ve been unable to blog for nearly a year. Why? I’m sure there are numerous reasons. I question why in the world would I put my little life out on display? I feel as though I’m not good enough. Not funny enough. Not smart enough. Lack enough biblical knowledge. The anxiety that I live with certainly hasn’t gone away. There are wonderful moments. I soak up each and every second. Those that have dealt with any sort of mental health issue tend to treasure and appreciate the good like no other. However, there are moments I still struggle to breathe. Many months ago I felt myself sinking. Depression seeping into my life. I have fought, and I’m proud. I’ve clung to the Lord. I forced myself to get out of bed. Made myself exercise when I felt like a big blob of jello. I continued to be the best mommy I could be despite the circumstances. Far from perfect but hopefully, good enough. 

It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to breathe especially when it’s a stuggle to do that very simple thing. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. It’s okay to just be okay. Just don’t stay there. Spend time with the one who knows you most. Talk to Him. Get to know Him. Let Him speak truth to your heart. Then, go and do. Despite uneasy feelings. Despite not knowing what is ahead. Despite what the world tells you. Despite what you tell yourself. Let go; let God lead and pave the way. You won’t regret it. He will continue to make all things new and beautiful. Just go and do as He prompts. 

Let me be honest. Let me shoot it straight. I don’t think much of anything was how we thought it would be during our time in Florida. Though Brad throughly enjoyed the people he worked for and with, Brad didn’t find the fulfillment he thought he would. He traveled more than I expected. His commute was long and stressful. In the beginning, we seemed distant from each other. We were individually doing the best we could. I don’t think we were there for each other the way each of us needed. However, we probably did the best we could do at the time. Brad and my relationship struggled. I had to throw ugly thoughts as hard and far as they could go the second I began thinking them. If we didn’t have God, I wonder if we would have made it? I honestly don’t see why we would. He is the glue that sticks us together. He is much like super glue. There really is no ripping us apart when He is between us. It also was very difficult being away from family and caring for 3 very spirited little ones without breaks. Though I looked forward to and loved having visitors, at the same time, it wrecked havoc on my anxiety. We experienced a sense of rejection from somewhere we never expected that was deeper and more painful than we have ever previously experienced. 

Here’s the thing. I could choose to shout out at God demanding answers. Believe me there were times I cried out asking for help and direction. I practically begged him to make things just a little easier. I did my best to thank Him through it all. Sometimes I messed up. I knew he was in control and would use each and every thing to grow us. We would mature and be better able to live out our callings because of the trials we experienced. I’m so thankful. God is good. 

Now along with growth and maturity, we had so many wonderful memories made, and I look forward to telling the kids they would have missed out on all of the following had I simply said no instead of yes. I pray each of them seeks the Lord with the big decisions they will face in their lives. 

This chapter of our lives provided so many wonderful, memorable family moments. Here’s a handful of them that I wouldn’t trade for anything…

Beach days

Pool days

Sports days

Disney days

Legoland days

Seaworld days

Friend days

Biking days

Homeschool days

Preschool days

Vacation days

Mexico days

Church days 

Neighborhood fun days

I could go on and on forever, but it’s onto the next chapter in our lives…

Brayden’s Big Day

I write tonight with my eyes welled up in tears full of pure joy. I’m one proud momma. My heart is swelling. I’m praising God for sending his son to us, so that we could truly learn how to live and have eternal life.

Brayden Michael, We love you and have never been prouder of you than we are today. You have wanted to be baptized for quite some time, and today you were. You love Jesus with all that is in you. I’m very thankful that God gave us you. You have already taught us so much. We look forward to seeing what all God has planned for your life. We know you can do big things with Christ in you. Love, Mommy & Daddy

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  Matthew 28:19

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First “official” Homeschooling Day

I’m a firm believer that life in general is school, so I believe we have already been “schooling.” We are always learning just not in the traditional school setting way. However, I wanted Brayden to get the experience of a first day. We will now be settling into a little more a routine with the littles in preschool. We are going to take full advantage of some peace and quiet, and school away while they are gone!

The day started out really rough because Brayden was attacked by fire ants at preschool drop off. I felt awful for my little buddy. He was so sweet asking why I wasn’t taking care of my own bite with calamine and coconut oil and instead focusing on only him. I really only had 1 little bite, and he had close to 20!  I told him I’m his mommy, and I love him and will always take care of him first. You know it’s kind of part of the motherhood deal. As I do with most things, I took the opportunity to teach him about serving others. He was smiling away just being served by myself and feeling and hearing of my love for him.

Unfortunately, he was still miserable, so I gave him some Benadryl and attempted to “get to work.” He wasn’t able to focus, and I texted my mom that this was a terrible first day of school. I felt sad for both of us. Big disappointment.

It was wrong to make the statement that this is a terrible first day of school. I should of just relaxed and waited for the medication to kick in. How many times in our lives should we just relax and wait it out? God’s got us, but we have to be patient and let him do his work. It’s hard in this “hurry up and go world,” but God doesn’t want us to be a part of this “hurry up and go world.” We must work at living in the moment and accepting the moment for what it is.

The itching subsided, and we had an amazing first day. Why? Because Brayden said, “I like this. Can we have school tomorrow?” Hearing those words were like music to my ears. This is exactly what matters to me. It is my strong desire that Brayden enjoys learning and never wants to stop learning. He is not a traditional learner, and many things that come easily and naturally for others, simply do not for him. It doesn’t matter to me what pace he learns; all that matters to me is that he continues to learn. I’m bound and determined to not mold him into something he is not. I love him just the way he is and pray often that he will love himself just the way he is as he grows and matures. He is such a blessing and teaches me so much. He has a lot to offer to the world. I look forward to seeing all that God has in store for him.

This morning we went over some basic skills, then he played with shaving cream and Legos. After an early lunch, we headed to homeschool PE at the Y. He really enjoyed that, and I throughly enjoyed watching him. (I’m going to start working out during it, but it sure was nice to just sit back and watch for a day!) We left the Y hand in hand and headed to the library. We read, and he drew and dictated in his journal. Then, he played with the train table while once again I was able to just sit back and observe him. It was so nice!

Praising God for the vision to homeschool. It is such a blessing to teach your own children. Praying I can be patient, accept each moment as it is, and keep on learning right along my children.    


Brycie Goes to School

You’re two. You go, go, go all day long. Nap? Why would you ever do such a thing? Bedtime? No thank you. What’s this thing called bedtime? Oh yes, it’s time for jumping, screaming, climbing… basically anything besides laying down, closing your eyes, and doing that totally unnecessary thing called sleeping.

Now, honey there is this beautiful thing called preschool made even for the littlest of guys. I’m fairly certain stay at home moms (especially homeschooling stay at home moms) would be frowned upon should they send their little one to daycare. ๐Ÿ˜ณ So, preschool it is child.

Now friends I know you’re thinking, that’s great. Two short mornings a week will be perfect. Time for him to interact with other little ones and mommy can run a few errands and breathe for a bit. No, I’m sorry. I called this beautiful. I’m sending my precious two year old to preschool three days a week for 5 1/2 hours. ๐Ÿ™ˆ Big sister, Caylee, has to go that long for VPK, so we choose to let Bryson stay the full day as well. That way I can focus on homeschooling big brother, rather than driving back and forth just to do it over again.

Today was day 1. I couldn’t even believe I was leaving him for so long. This little one I call Brycie (aka Dennis the Menace) has me hook, line and sinker. I felt as though my heart had been yanked out of my chest to be broken in two, then 1/2 of it was sloppily tossed back into my chest. Okay, I’m breathing. This is beautiful I kept reminding myself. Oh geez motherhood.

First Day of School Pics…

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Bryson was so proud of the chalkboard. I’m so thankful my kids don’t scroll Pinterest. With that adorable little grin he is known for he said, “for me?!”

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*Notice Macho Man in the last picture? That’s not the outfit I sent him in to school. In fact, it’s not the outfit that was on top of the bag. It was his third outfit. His poor teachers…we have had a regression in the potty department. Not quite sure what to do about it yet, but other than two potty accidents in the afternoon, he had an awesome first day of preschool! He loved it just like big sissy! Who was the one kid that climbed the only play structure that the 2 year olds aren’t allowed on? I’ll tell you I was completely shocked when they told me. Haha, nope the teachers know keeping him alive is my request for the school year. No, this is not a joke. It’s my single goal every day of his life. For those that have lost a child, my heart aches so deeply for you. As a parent, you always know that nightmare is a possibility. So, though it’s my goal each day, I’m completely aware I have no control. God does though. I leave this in his hands; I trust him completely.

First Day for Cay-Cay

Cay-Cay is what I call my precious Caylee Lynn. Today was a big day for my sweetie. It was her first day of VPK. Those of you who have never heard of VPK, I hadn’t either until we were moving to Florida. It is the equivalent to pre-kindergarten. VPK stands for voluntary pre-kindergarten as it is not state mandated, but it is FREE should you choose to enroll!

My big girl is going three FULL days a week. It’s such a long day, but her favorite thing today was EVERYTHING! I just knew she would love it. It is a wonderful Christian preschool full of loving and caring teachers, and this child LOVES all things school. She is always begging to do more homeschool. So, I decided this would be great for her, and as she likes to tell everyone, we still get to do homeschool two days a week. ๐Ÿ˜„

Caylee and her big brother Brayden are the best of buddies, but they get on each other’s nerves on the daily… So, for me – some peace!!! Amen! Hallelujah! I need some peace in my life!

Caylee Lynn, you rocked your first day, and I expected none less. I love you so much and mommy will miss you on your school days. However, I look forward to seeing the sparkle in your eyes as you tell me all about each day. Love you my precious sweetie pie. ๐Ÿ˜˜



The Day You Didn’t Get on the Big Yellow Bus

Dear Brayden,

Okay, okay I never imagined you riding that bus anyway, but I did imagine you attending school. I never imagined being your teacher, but I did imagine being the home room mom, attending every.single.fieldtrip, and being there for all the parties and special events. I never imagined a lot of things, but I could never have imagined how incredibly wonderful the unimaginable ย is!

Honey, the unimaginable is that we have the opportunity to homeschool!!! Please don’t think your dad and I made this decision lightly. When I was discussing the unimaginable, I was referring back to when I was longing to become a mom. It’s when we discovered it may be rather difficult to become parents that I began imagining what kind of mom I would be should I be allowed the blessing. I began imagining the unimaginable a few years ago. It started with just some interest and amazement that some families I met homeschooled, and the ones I met were so interesting, unique and God-centered. They were interesting and unique not in a weird way; rather, there was just something a little different and intriguing. I admired these families’ faith walks. I started really discovering you, and you started to teach me A LOT! I thought motherhood would be the other way around, but no, you were the one teaching me. I began to realize you might be one to really benefit from homeschooling, but I never thought I would really do it. Well, more time passed, and I met even more families that homeschooled. What I recognized was that the children were confident, respectful, interesting and enjoyable to be around. God is always so good to me. He always prepares my heart. Things start as a little spark, and he slowly and steadily grows them into flames until they become a full fire. Honey, I’m on fire for homeschooling you now! I’m getting a little emotional because had the birth order of you and your siblings been different, there is a very good chance that I wouldn’t have seen this path so clearly.

Psss…There is a little something I want to let you in on. People are going to judge this. In fact, you’ve already seen it. You listen to every.single.word that is spoken. On one instance I could tell leaving a conversation with someone that you picked up on the fact that she felt sorry for you. Once we were gone, I explained to you that some people don’t know how good homeschooling can be. Your eyes lit up in a millisecond, and you quickly said, “well then, we need to tell them.” It made me smile a ridiculous amount because I was so proud of you. Son, what I want you to know is that people judge what they don’t know and don’t understand; that’s probably never going to change. I’ve been judged my entire life. It has taken me over 30 years to get the point (honesty check – so close to the point) that I really could absolutely care less. I look to God. That is who I care about. Since I’ve been more a student of you, I’m hopeful you are already there and you STAY there.
Brayden Michael, you aren’t jumping on the big yellow bus, but I promise you this – Your kindergarten year is going to be a fun wild adventure. I plan to pour my heart and soul into you, and I look forward to hearing you proudly tell everyone you are homeschooled and just how great it is. Keep on teaching me this year, okay?

Xoxo, Mommy

Independence and Project Big Boy Weekend

Three day weekends…ahh. Oh how I love thee! When they come around, I’m so very thankful to have Brad home for these extended weekends. Truth be told, my three “spirited” little ones kick my butt daily. Reinforcement is simply amazing. Of course I love just being around Brad and hanging as a family of 5, but during this current phase of life, I’d be lying if I didn’t say extended reinforcement comes to mind when three day weekends roll around. LOVE 3 DAY WEEKENDS!!!

We enjoyed a neighborhood party in The Sac with fireworks galore!

Fun with snaps…


Fun with smoke bombs… 



Fun with sparklers…   

 I think Brad spent about $8, and our kids thought it was the greatest ever. I love the simplicity of little kid fun! Don’t get me wrong they loved the massive fireworks and giant street party, but they wouldn’t have been only content but full of pure joy from snaps, smoke bombs and sparklers!

Some more fun…   


I decided to take full advantage of the 3 day weekend of reinforcement and named it “Project Big Boy.” Bryson’s crib was turned into a toddler bed, he potty trained, and I gave him a big boy haircut. Some might think that’s a bit much for a little guy all in one weekend, but this momma is a get her done type of lady sometimes. I’m quite strong willed myself, or let me refrain that in a kinder, gentler way since I’m trying to for my kids – I’m spirited!!! It definetely wasn’t easy; we still have some bedtime issues and an accident here and there, but overall the weekend was a huge success! I’m so proud of you, Bryson Bradley!!!

No more crib…


Ice cream to celebrate potty success…   


Cutest thing ever…

The haircut…  


Bye, bye baby, hello big boy ๐Ÿ˜ญ