Friday, June 30, 2017

Evelyn's Pineapple Under the Sea

Yes, yes, we've reached the age where I can't just come up with random cutesy party themes anymore and get away with it. My children have these things...these pesky little things that cramp my mom know, opinions.

So apparently, "Ice Cream" and "Camping" and "Enchanted Forests" and the like are not all the rage anymore, but SpongeBob Squarepants...he takes the cake!

You'll notice I'm woefully behind on this one. I have some confessions to make. Those are going to have to wait for another post. But I couldn't NOT document a birthday party around here...that is Getting There blasphemy. So here we go. Just a few details here and there for one special girl's eighth birthday party!

Evie was thrilled with how everything came together, which is really all a parent can ask for. The best part of all is that all of the decor had to come from the store on this one, and we happen to have a Party City right around the corner from our house, haha. (Don't even attempt to find Spongebob decor at a typical big box store...couldn't even find a thing at Walmart!) In other words...I didn't have to stay up until 2:00am every night for weeks to make this one come together. Five kids, you needs a break! :)

Okay, I did take two minutes to cut out some construction paper fish...I guess I couldn't help myself.

There was under the sea punch and our best friend Patrick was doing cannon balls into some queso. This made me giggle maybe just a little bit harder than I should have....

So there wasn't a ton of organization to this shindig. It was just a really good excuse to get everyone together in one place! It also happened to be Father's Day. I hadn't seen my dad in a really long time. He had never been to our house, and he had never met Lincoln. God has been doing huge things in our family'll see him the background of one of these pictures. My dad, not God. :) I can't wait to share the story of how God has done miracles in our family with you someday.

Someday. :)

We had "krabby patties" for dinner, of course!

And here is the star of the show....

Growing up and growing more beautiful all of the time. We love our Evie girl. She is a sweetheart!

This was seriously the sweetest cake I have ever eaten. Pretty sure I still have a little bit of a psychedelic sugar buzz from this baby. 

Inside of this giant box there was a box within a box within a box...all leading down to one very small package that Evelyn had been BEGGING for forever and which I don't think she actually expected to get. But you know...daddy might be wrapped around her little finger a little bit. :D Haha.

Now Evelyn is the proud owner of her own phone, and let me tell you, the text messages I get from my daughter are priceless! Haha. (Yes, it is set up with extremely tight restrictions!)

She was just a little bit happy about it. 

All in all it turned out to be a great day for everybody. I was happy Evelyn's dreams came true, haha, and she finally got the party she had been wanting for a long time. I don't know what it is about that Spongebob! 

I feel like our days of these kinds of parties for Evie are running short. Soon she will want to go out with friends for her birthday and have sleepovers. I foresee trading in afternoons with cake and punch to nights at the movies and late night giggles. :) That's okay. Our first baby girl is growing up and we'll treasure these days while we can!

Thanks, all for checking out Evelyn's Spongebob birthday! It's was tons of fun under the sea!  Please check back next week for some new things coming up on the horizon. See ya Monday! 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Here's to Dads!

This weekend many families will be celebrating fathers, and grandfathers, and father figures all over our great country. I LOVE an excuse to brag on our resident father, Mr. Robert. Evelyn, Grace, Reagan, Charlotte, and Lincoln are truly blessed to be able to call this guy dad....

There are so many reasons to honor Eric today for his role in our family, but we're picking our 10 favorite things about him to highlight on this Father's Day weekend!

Dad's night at school. :)

* Evelyn says that she LOVES cuddles and snuggles with daddy! Yes, I must say he is an excellent cuddler and snuggler. ;) Haha. I know there is no more precious and safe place to be than in the arms of a loving father. Thank you Eric for showing love and affection to our babies.

* Gracie says that she loves surprises from her dad. Eric finds himself away from home quite a bit, but his kiddos always know that he is thinking about them when he brings little surprises home from his adventures. Eric enjoys buying small gifts for our kids all of the time, and I know that someday they will always remember the image of their dad standing in front of them with a sly smile on his face and his hands behind his back filled with special tokens just for them.

*Reagan loves having "a sleepover with daddy!" So, very recently our AC went out and our family found itself scattered for a night to beat the heat in our house. Eric and Reagan ended up together in his parent's basement, and I think our little man was just tickled pink about that. :) I don't think he'll ever forget the night he and dad spent together at grandma and grandpa's!

*No one makes our babies eyes light up more than their dad. Charlotte and Lincoln can't say a lot just yet, but take it from the person who spends pretty much 24/7 with these two, it's a special time when daddy comes home! In her limited vocabulary, Charlotte has added "Where's daddy?" She always wants to know when he is coming home. I know there is great comfort for the littlest ones when our family is all together and whole!

*I so appreciate that Eric is a dad who shows up. If there is a special event at school, a volunteer opportunity, a conference, or ANYTHING involving his kids, he is there. Those of us who are grown already know how much this really means to a child, so thank you Eric for always being there.

*Eric is a hard worker and a diligent provider. When God established Eric as the head of our household and leader of our family, He gave all of us a great blessing. I only hope that we are able to be a blessing to Eric in return! All of the things he does for this family, big and small, do not go overlooked. I pray that God pours out his blessings right back on him!

*Maybe one of the most special times of the day with his children is right before bed, when Eric helps them brush their teeth, and he reads scripture and prays with them. This is sometimes a chaotic routine and often ends with a "Oh my gosh kids, get to sleep!" haha. But this is another one of those things that they will never forget, and I hope they are learning through their father's example to speak the love of God to their own kids someday.

*Eric makes sure that his children get to have fun. He is always up for a trip to the movies, a family outing here there and everywhere, and even special dinners one-on-one when he can sneak them in. Quality time is high on his priority list, and I know it always will be! With five kiddos jostling for attention that requires a lot of his time and patience, and he gives it freely. He's a superhero. :)

Grace's birthday card for her dad this year. :)

And Evie's....


 *No matter how crazy things are here, at the end of the day Eric always reassures me of his love. When he shows me great kindness and respect, our kids definitely notice. Sometimes we forget how closely kids watch the relationship of their mom and dad. Because of the covenant we made together and with God in marriage, that love will never be extinguished, no matter what. God's promises never fail - what a great comfort to our family.

*Eric is a child of God, and reflected through his Father I see so many admirable qualities that they share...there is no idleness in his hands...he has a real conviction for fairness and justice...he is generous...he has a love for children and special place in his heart for the rights of the unborn...Eric is a wonderful counselor in times of trial...he speaks with confidence...he shows no partiality...he is always learning and growing in depth of insight. To say that I respect and admire him is a huge understatement.

We are pulling double-duty this weekend as we celebrate dads and Evelyn's 8th birthday on Sunday. I simply couldn't let our daddy be overshadowed by Spongebob Squarepants (Evelyn's choice of party theme, haha!) I hope that Eric gets some time to just relax, maybe tinker in the garage like he does so much these days, and feel the love his family has for him this weekend.

Eric, you are one in a million, pal! Love you! Happy Father's Day. :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Evelyn is Eight!

Today we celebrate one very special girl's eighth birthday. Eight years since Eric and I became parents to this sweet and spunky kid - holy moly!

Evelyn hadn't quite entered the world yet at the time that I am writing this post, but Eric and I had already spent one very long night waiting in the hospital for her arrival eight years ago. I didn't get a wink of sleep that night, tossing and turning and thinking about meeting our very first child. We were so woefully so many ways. :)

I remember the hospital room being cold and Eric didn't have adequate blankets to sleep with. We had no idea that we had control over our room's thermostat. It was a long night for both us! This whole routine, one that would become quite familiar to us in the coming years, was all brand new.

Evelyn was one of the babies where the epidural didn't work the first time during one of the hardest labors I would ever have, and she gave us all quite a scare when her heart rate plummeted and we nearly had to have an emergency c-section. She made her entrance into the world full of drama...and she has never stopped enjoying being the center of attention! 

There is a lot that becomes a blur over the years. The details can become foggy when you have had five babies. But I will never forget as Evelyn made her debut hearing Eric's voice call out to me, "Here she comes!" I had never heard a tone of such awe and expectation come from my husband, and I have never heard it since. He was about to be a dad for the very first time. He was seeing something he had never seen before. I didn't look. Haha! Eric held my hand, and we finally met the little one that would change the course of our lives forever. You don't get moments like these twice. And they are over so quickly. I hope Heaven comes full of instant replays of some of the highlights of our life. :)

Our Evelyn Lily was our honeymoon baby, so she has quite literally been with us from the very beginning. She was an unexpected and special gift. God orchestrated her very existence even by manipulating our wedding date. I wanted our wedding to be on September 20, but the hall was booked already. So the 13th it was! If we had been married one week later, we might not have had our little Evie. No coincidences. No mistakes. She was just meant to be. :)

I see the stirrings of a "big girl" in our oldest already. Evelyn is more emotional these days. She likes to spend quiet time by herself in her room. I am often calling out all over the house to find her, because she is perfectly content to wander off by herself to read a book or watch a video on her own. I was thinking forward to the festivals we will attend this summer and how there are some rides that she will have outgrown by now. I can't believe we are here already. I can't believe that we are preparing to leave another stage of life behind with her. She is shedding more and more of the little kid stuff every day and looking forward to the things she will do when she is bigger. We are sort of at an in-between stage at the moment, and I will be holding on to that for as long as possible!

Evelyn still wants to be an artist when she grows up, and her dad picked out all sorts of special gifts for her to hone her skills. We're already discussing the Disney college program out world. Ha! We're hoping to pull a little party together for her his weekend, because of course we want to celebrate this amazing kid properly. For now, we're enjoying a quiet day at home with all of our normal birthday traditions - cake, presents, and Evie gets to pick dinner tonight. I hope she can feel our love for her!

We love you so much Evelyn, and I know that your eighth year will be full of fun and great memories! Happy Birthday! 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Gift For My Husband

The Jesus Storybook Bible that we read to our children describes God’s love as a never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love. I will never forget the first time I heard our kids recite these words aloud on their own. My mother’s heart overflowed like a brimming cup spilling over. In Christianese we have a word for this kind of love…it’s called agape love. Agape love is completely sacrificial. One definition is…

"…Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not."

My husband turns 30 years old today, and I can think of no greater gift that I could give to him than the gift of my never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever, unconditional love. He has it. It is his. And it took me a very long time to learn this kind of love in order to give it to him.

Agape love does not come naturally. In fact, it’s impossible to possess or to give without the power of Christ first flowing through you. It is only because my personal cup has been filled to overflowing by God himself that I can even begin to offer this kind of love to anyone else. “….does not change whether the love given is returned or not.”  Take a moment to reflect on these words alone. No really, do it.

It’s not possible to love someone this way unless you have first been loved this way.  Feeling this kind of love breaks you. Often before a person feels this kind of love they have been put through the wringer of life. They have been battered and bruised. And just because someone has received this love already, that does not mean that they are instantly ready to give it.

There will be trials and temptations. There will be tests of the spirit and will. A person will be picked up like a lump of clay and slapped on the potter’s wheel over and over and over again until they are molded and shaped into something that resembles a useful vessel. They will be put into the fiery furnace and beaten and banged, sparking and smoldering, until they bend. And when it is all over they consider it pure joy when they have faced trials of many kinds, for trials produce endurance and character.  What was once a useless lump has become something beautiful.

When Eric and I were first married, I admit that I was not capable of giving this kind of love.  Although Christ had already given it to me, I simply hadn’t experienced enough life yet to appreciate what a gift it was. Early love is…selfish love. Let’s be honest. :) It’s love that requires butterfly feelings in the stomach to sustain it. It’s love that argues a lot when it doesn’t get its way.  It’s love that keeps score and asks, “What’s in it for me?” If you’re not getting anything from it then it’s time to move on. If you aren’t feeling happy all of the time then the love must have expired. Selfish. Many of us never get past this and search our whole lives to find something more.

Then Eric and I had children and my love deepened for my husband as I watched him become a father. He’s a great dad. We grew closer in a way that only time allows. We learned each other’s strengths and shortcomings. Love isn’t truly put to the test until you see someone as they really are, not just the person they want you to see, but full-frontal flaws dangling on display in all of their imperfect glory. Love isn’t put to the test until your entire family spends a night sleeping near (or in!) the bathroom, taking turns rejecting anything that had been consumed that day and feeling fairly certain that each one of you is going to die a slow and painful death by vomit. Love isn’t tested until nurses come flying into your peaceful hospital room because something is wrong with the baby. It’s not tested until it holds a hand through a great loss. Love is not tested until you’ve sat awake all night with a crying child or survived 16 hour car ride with them!

But that love is still not agape love. When you are both pulling for the same team, love is easy. What happens when the person you love most really lets you down? What happens when the marital bliss bubble is burst and your whole life turns upside down? What happens when you thought what was…really wasn’t? What happens when you wake up one day and think…I’m not sure if I really even like this person anymore? At some point one or both people will fumble the ball and really screw up someway, somehow. What then? It is at this point that any marriage or relationship is at a crossroads.

There is only one thing that can get you through that and allow you to come out stronger on the other side. That’s agape love. That’s love that doesn’t change whether it’s returned or not. That’s saying, “This is WAY too hard for me to handle on my own, but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That is saying, “I don’t care if you treat me like dirt, I forgive you and I’m not giving up on you,” which is exactly what God says to each one of us, every single day.

The package I have to offer my husband this year doesn’t look very pretty on the outside I’m afraid.  It’s been banged around and punched a few times right in the guts. ;) It has come with a lot of blood, sweat, and many tears.  It is the result of nearly a decade’s worth of growth and learning.  It did not come easily, and I had to fail a lot of tests before I obtained the ability to pass it on. Because God loved me SO much and poured his love and mercy on me, I now have this most precious gift to give to the one person I love most on earth.

Eric, it has been an honor and a privilege to watch you and stand by your side for the past decade. I have watched you set goals and smash every one of them. I have seen great blessing and favor dropped right into your lap. You grabbed onto opportunities and ran.  God entrusted you with a little and then he gave you A LOT. Nothing in your life has come in small doses. You were a fantastic father the first time around, so God gave you FIVE children. (Thanks, God! We are DONE, but thanks!)  You worked super hard in minor roles at work, so God gave you major ones. You were a good steward with a little, so he blessed you with more than you needed. You were a really great husband, so he took your undeserving wife and grew her in such a way that you now have a devoted, loving woman who is your biggest fan and (trust me) the most diligent prayer warrior you will ever have by your side, offering you unconditional, agape love.  I cannot personally give you the world, but ALL good things come from God, and I have been praying his blessings on you every single day.

We used to sit and dream about what our lives would look like once we both reached our 30’s. Haha. I’m not sure if where we’re sitting today is exactly what we had in mind. But something tells me that, with a whole lot of grace, love, and daily forgiveness towards one another, you are about to have the best decade of your life so far. God set you up for amazing things while you were in your 20’s, and I truly hope that you now reap what you have sown.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. You're amazing! I am so excited to see what He has in store for you next!

 Happy Birthday, Eric. I agape love you. ;)


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