Thursday, November 14, 2013

Out Loud

Picking jello up off of the kitchen floor with my bare hands is not what I signed up for when I decided to become a mother.  But I’d have to say it’s not even close to the grossest thing I’ve done.  Not even the grossest thing I’ve picked up off the kitchen floor. Actually, I don’t want to talk about my kitchen floor anymore.  It is NEVER clean, not even seconds after I mop it, and the thought of it makes me shudder. Clean floors were just one of the minor sacrifices I made when I became a mother.  The major ones are a lot messier than my floor, and can’t be remedied with bleach and a little elbow grease.

We go bravely into motherhood, armed with only a vague inkling of all that we will be asked to do.  It seems better that way. After all, nobody wants to sit around at baby showers and tell of the shameful amount of times we have thrown up a little in our mouths because of something the darling child in our family photos has done.  Some things are better as a surprise. 

But some things aren’t.  And no one sits around at baby showers talking about all the ways that those little ones will break your heart.  But maybe they should.  Oh, we know it won’t be rosy, chocolate-covered kisses all the time. We aren’t that na├»ve.  But we also aren’t expecting the feelings of hopelessness or irrational anger, the tears.  We aren’t ready for the feelings of inadequacy about our ability to do the very thing we hoped and prayed that we would be able to do. It can feel, at times, like we are barely hanging on.  And there is deep shame buried at the bottom that feeling. And the feeling that we are alone in this. That no one else feels this way.

And that’s why we don’t share it, with new moms or anyone else.  That’s why we skirt around the edges of our frustrations with our kids and say things to our friends like, “Billy is really giving me a run for my money lately…I just don’t know what I am going to do with Sally…Jack is going through a rough phase right now,” instead of what we want to say, which is, “I feel like I am drowning…I feel so angry sometimes that it makes me afraid…I feel like I cannot do all that I need to do….I am really hurting.”  Instead we offer up more palatable versions of our pain, certain that the truth would be too much to ask of our people.

And this isn’t just true in parenting.  Obviously.  We don’t tend to share about our other struggles…in our marriage, in ministry, in every day life because we are certain someone else is worse off than us.  That’s definitely true.  That someone else might judge us.  That might be true.  That we shouldn’t burden someone else with our problems.  That’s not true.  In fact, that’s the opposite of true.

That’s a lie.

The truth is, we are meant to bear each other’s burdens.  (Hello, Galatians 6:2… “but I’d rather be the burden bearer…not the burdener,” you say.  Tough luck, sista.  We’re both.) When we look each other in the eyes and speak about the painful truths of life, and when we hear and receive as someone offers us the good and deeper truths of the Gospel, we minister to each other.  We remind each other that we are not alone, in our pain or in the grace that is enough to cover it.  We remind each other that we are not made for this world.  We remind each other that Christ lives in us, is working in us, for our good.  Both of us.  Ministering to each other.  Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Recently, Loren gave a sermon at church about living within the New Covenant.  He talked about how, as the church, we are to be an example of New Covenant living with each other. Part of that means this offering of grace to one another…that we represent Christ as we say, out loud, to each other, “you are not alone…you are loved…you are forgiven…God is working good in you.”  Big tears well up in my eyes even as I write this, because as he spoke I felt a deep “yes” well up in my soul at the thought of fellow believers speaking Christ’s truth over me.  Out loud.  Reminding me of what is most true.

In this way, the Church becomes the New Covenant version of altars.  We are set up in people’s lives to be reminders of the truth. We are the BODY OF CHRIST, anointing each other with this truth and with love and peace and forgiveness.  His voice, speaking words that heal and sustain and move us forward in love. His hands, reaching out to hug.  His feet, walking alongside, making certain we know we are not alone.

A dear friend did this for me last week and it was powerful.  The hope of Christ in her, speaking His words over me.  “You are not alone…His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”  My husband did this for me two weeks ago when I had an especially hard parenting day.  “You are forgiven…God loves you so much.”  On either of those days I could have spiraled downward…could have spent all day replaying my mistakes, sinking beneath the burdens I carried.  It’s what I would typically do.  Instead, the truth of Christ made all things new.  I was able to receive his love and then move forward, confident in his good plans for me, in his ability to carry the heavy load.

The work of parenting is far more difficult than I ever imagined.  And life is filled with burdensome things.  It just is.  And the undeniable joys of it all don’t negate the fact that, sometimes, I feel at the bottom of a deep, dark well made of disappointments and brokenness and fear and my own unreasonable expectations. Saying it out loud almost always feels like freedom.  And I know, thank you Jesus, that there is grace enough to cover it all.  Sometimes I just need to hear it. Sometimes we all need to hear it.

Out loud.


Here were our three adorable trick or treaters:

Hope the popstar.  Her own idea, her own creation. I have nothing more to say about it other than this. I'm in trouble.
 Ava as Madeline.  Ava loves Madeline books and cartoons and we had this cute dress hidden away in the back of the closet.  Score!  P.S.  I think she partly likes Madeline because she says, "pooh, pooh" when she doesn't like something...and Ava isn't allowed to say that, generally speaking.

 And Bella as Supergirl...or some version of a girl super hero.  Her most powerful weapon is that cute smile!
Hope you all had a great Halloween!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ava Elizabeth is 4!

She is a whole lotta happy.  Her laugh is infectious and her desire to chase me around tickles my funny bone without fail.  She is full of BIG FEELINGS.  She is sensitive and a gift giver and thrives on physical affection and words of affirmation.  She makes us laugh with her funny faces and her grown up words.  And she runs faster than any three year old I know.

She has also been my most...uh...challenging child.  STRONG-WILLED. I would put her up against any strong-willed child on any day.  I used to say my other kids were strong-willed when they threw tantrums or did something out of their ordinarily compliant nature. I had NO IDEA what that meant before Ava Elizabeth. She's the one who has won me a morning all to myself every week.  That precious Thursday morning that my husband offers because he knows it will help to preserve my sanity.  And even though projects on various inappropriate surfaces has both drained our pocketbooks and our sensibilities, almost nothing brings me more joy than her ability to knock me over with a fierce hug from a full sprint. (Did I mention how fast she was?  I am literally knocked to the ground.)

I could never have imagined how our life would change when God added her to our family.  She has brought such a focus.  We have thought more about how to love intentionally and how to parent in a way that leads our children to Jesus...because we know he is her greatest hope...AMEN, parents of strong willed children???  Of course, this is true about our other kids, too.  We know it is.  After all, I was our other kids...those people pleasing ones (aren't they dreamy sometimes?) and I know how much I need Jesus...because of that people pleasing part, among other sundry things. We are better parents, more thoughtful, because of her.  We are better people, reminded daily that we need Jesus. We are far better as dependent, needy people on our knees than we were as independent people thinking about how great of a job we were doing.

Because of her, we have learned more about the freedom that comes from recognizing all the ways in which we are screwed up. We have learned to repent. We have learned to throw up our hands and exclaim, "Sweet Jesus, she is yours!"  Because that is actually true, even when we don't recognize it.  She has taught us that our parenting leaves a little to be desired but that we are loved just the same.  And we are learning how to live out of that place, rather than the "trying to be perfect parents" place. It's teaching us to relax and to be content with what Jesus is doing in us and in her.  That he is always at work for our good.

She's taught us all of that in only 4 years and there isn't a minute I would trade.  I'm tempted to erase that.  To say that, of course, I would trade all the minutes that I have made her feel less than wholly loved.  I would never want her to feel that.  But I also know that those moments, recognized and confessed and waking her up to ask forgiveness, have humbled me, have been places where Jesus met me in the face of my daughter.  "I forgive you, mommy." Hugs, tears (mine), and forgotten.  She is Jesus to me in those moments.

My hope is that she sees Jesus in me, too. That for all the times that I fail her, one overarching theme of her spunky life is that she has a mom who loves her fiercely.  That she has a mom who always forgives, who sees the incredible beauty in her, who is quick to hug and begin again.  And that, above all, my life points her directly and indirectly to Jesus, who meets all of her needs and who never fails to perfectly love all of her.

In Latin, Ava means "bird-like".  It fits.  She flies high, flitting here and there and is almost impossible to keep up with.  But, she likes her nest.  She likes being home and snuggling up.  Plus, did I mention how fast she was?  So fast that she may as well have wings.

In German, her name means "desired."  I can tell you without a doubt, she was that.  We wanted and loved her from the beginning.

In Hebrew, the language from which her name originates, Ava means, "breath of life."  She has added life to our family in so many ways, especially by deepening our life in Christ.  My prayer for her is that she would find real life in Christ and that her whole life, every breath, would be lived in praise to Him.

Happy Birthday to my sweet, sassy, filled with LIFE, Ava Elizabeth Marey!  In quiet moments at your bedside as you've slept, Jesus has whispered beautiful things to me about your life and your future.  I'm so glad he chose me to have a front row seat!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Look at this beauty.  She lost her two front teeth, on the same day, and that smile gets her anything she wants these days. LOVE THIS GIRL!

South Dakota!

A couple weeks ago we went to South Dakota for a little r&r and some family time.  We had such a great trip.  Out kids are at such fun ages where we can go and do so much more and it was a treat to spend some time together away from everyday distractions.  Here are some highlights from our trip.

MOUNT RUSHMORE!  It really is an incredible thing to see!

BEAR COUNTRY! Probably the best money we spent all week!  The animals (elk, reindeer, wolves, and of course, bears, plus lots of others) in this drive thru zoo were amazing and fearless and literally, right next to the car.  And it was so cool to see all of the bears up close.

JEWEL CAVE!  We got to go down into the depths of a cave and see all kinds of cool formations for an hour and half tour.  It was so unique and the kids loved least for the first hour.  Then it got a little redundant for them. Stalagmites can only hold your interest for so long. :)

KOA!  We decided to camp to save money and we did not regret it!  Our campsite was amazing.  Water slides, a spray park, movie theater, and lots of playgrounds. The perfect end to every day.

GOLD PANNING!  We took the kids into town one day to pan for gold and I think Loren and I got a little addicted.  The kids did it for a while and enjoyed it.  Loren and I both said we could have stayed for hours.  What is it that is so satisfying about finding a spec of gold in a bunch of sand? 
We had a great time.  I love that we got to have this time together before the craziness of camp ensues.  I leave on Sunday to take teen moms to camp and the whole family heads up to Crooked Creek for our camp assignment next week.  We are excited about the adventure to come!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

This spring, some good friends offered the Paschalls and us a portion of their yard to plant a garden.  We, of course, took them up on it.  The week before Mother's Day we tilled the soil a bit and worked it into rows and mounds ready for planting.  Then we shopped for seeds and planned it all out, thinking carefully about which plants could be planted near each other without cross contaminating (onion-cantaloupes don't taste very good. Ick!) and also planning our strategy for dealing with the precious deer that inevitably show up and help themselves to our tender vegetables. 

Then, on a beautiful Mother's Day afternoon, we went to plant our seeds. 

Gardening is such a project of faith.  And, even as I read the back of those seed packets, learning how far apart to space them and how long I can expect to wait before I see any fruit, I find myself doubting it all.  When I look at tiny carrot seeds, how in the world can I expect them to become something big enough to eat? How can those tiny seeds in the tomato packet, the ones I see when I cut into a juicy tomato, come alive and produce not just one tomato, but a whole plant full of juicy tomatoes?  It seems impossible.  At the very least, it seems improbable.   And, once they're in the ground and covered up, the garden looks the same as before.  I soak them with water, but it seems hard to believe that anything will come of them...except that I've seen it before.  I know what can happen with time and a little TLC.

Two years ago, we started YoungLives in Canon City.  YoungLives is Young Life's ministry to teen moms.  We knew there was a need for something like this in Canon City, but we had no idea how quickly it would grow.  And now, here we sit, with almost 20 girls coming to club every month, and with 9 girls and 10 babies signed up to go to camp in 3 weeks.  We've been planting seeds all year. We know that our job is to work the soil and to water and to weed out the lies. We know we need to be faithful.  And even as we begin to see some tiny tender buds break through the surface, we know also that this is a project of faith. But it's fueled by the knowledge of what we have seen the Lord do time and time again. He grows the seed in his own time.  Rooting it in love.  Producing a harvest of joy.

And along the way, he increases our faith.  He gives us joy in the work and he uses this to work the soil of our lives and to water and to weed out the lies. Our leaves become healthier and stronger.  Our fruit becomes sweeter and ready to burst with more seed. Our roots sink deeper and become more firmly fixed on Him.  And because he is always faithful, we grow a little more.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Galatians 6:9

"I planted the seed.  Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.  For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lazy days of summer...

Loren is off at camp this week with 30 of his high school friends.  We had some sad goodbyes, especially from the little one, who apparently just realized on Sunday that her dad was gonna be gone for a week.  But, all in all, we take these trips in stride.  Loren goes every summer to camp and we try to use that time to do some fun little things with just us girls.

And, in years past, I have also taken these opportunities, these quiet evenings at home alone, to do household projects.  That room that needs painting?  Yep...I'm gonna stay up all night after the kids go to bed and get it done.  That wallpaper that needs to come down?  You better believe that'll be gone when he gets back.  That garage that needs cleaning out?  I'm on it.

But here's the truth, folks.  I haven't done any of that crap this week.  And I'm not gonna.

Maybe it's because I'm lazy.  It really could be.  I've worried before that maybe I am.  But I also wonder if maybe it's because there is a bit more life in my days, these days.  My kids aren't napping for three hours in the afternoon anymore.  They aren't eating disposable jars of baby food or filled up by a banana at breakfast. And they certainly aren't sitting in johnny jump ups or saucers bouncing their little hearts out without ever really going anywhere. 

We are on the go! We're at the garden pulling weeds and jumping on the trampoline (A post coming soon on our amazing garden!).  We're swimming next door and trying to keep Ava from skinny dipping. (I swear that girl wants to be naked in the water and I seem to be helpless to stop her!) We are watching friends play baseball, and meeting friends at the park, and having friends sleep over.  We are teaching the kids to cook and to do cartwheels and to ride bikes with no training wheels. And we are spending time with our high school friends and teen moms (more on the teen moms later, too) and with our small group from church.

It's fun and full and at the end of the day, I am spent.  And the thought of starting some project just pales in comparison to the thought of sitting and reading, or crocheting, or sleeping.

My life is spent on the people that I love. And, at the end of the day, I am bone tired.  And I think maybe that's how it should be. I think that might just be what the end of the day is all about.  The end. Done.  Finished.
You know what I think, fellow moms?  I think tired looks an awful lot like lazy.  But I'm pretty sure it's not the same thing.  When did we get convinced that it was?  Well I'm not buying it. So I won't be heading upstairs tonight to reorganize the linen closet, which looks like three little girls have been building and destroying forts in there for most of the spring months.  Cause I've got some sleeping to do instead.  Tomorrow's coming.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I spend a lot of the time telling my children no.  So much so that Bella, my child who always wishes to know the outcome to every question she plans to ask before it is asked, has begun starting off her requests with, “Are you gonna say no?” …before she even asks the question.

My insides cringe a bit when she says that.  And my internal dialogue goes something like this.  “Am I such a meanie that she feels like all I ever say is ‘no’?  I mean, don’t I sometimes say yes?  Am I a fun parent or am I just a parent who tells them no?  Does she believe that I want good things for her?”  And on and on and on.  The crazy, obsessive thoughts are not something I counted on when I planned my delightful foray into motherhood.

And then, today, I had this thought. The fact is, I do tell my children “no” a lot.  But it’s because frankly, sometimes they are ridiculous.  They don’t know what’s best for them.  They are constantly asking for things that aren’t good for them.  Candy (I probably say yes to candy too often), television, to stay up later, to duck out of piano practice, to endless sleepovers and more dessert and snack after snack after snack.  And I am constantly saying no.  If they would only learn to ask for more vegetables, and decent bedtime hours, and for goodness sake would I shut off the television so they can do some more informational reading, I could say yes more often.  But, they’re kids.  And they don’t ask for those things.  And so I say no.  Because I love them so much.

It’s good to say no.  We need no.

Which brings me to my own life.  In light of my tiny understanding of God and his purposes and what is good for me, it’s a wonder he says yes to me as often as he does.  More often, it seems sometimes, the answer is no…if I even bother to ask.  Too often, I rush ahead without asking.  Taking whatever I want, doing whatever I want because it seems good.  My kids do that, too.  (Particularly a certain three year old I know.)  It never turns out very well. For either of us.  

In truth, though, I’m a little more like Bella.  And I generally like to know the answer before I ask the question. Because there is a tiny control freak that lives inside of me.  And so, I often measure my requests.  I don’t ask a lot for what I really want because I’m afraid of no.  Why am I so afraid of that?  Do I think God is such a meanie that all he ever wants to say is no?  Doesn’t he sometimes say yes?  Do I really believe he is good?  And if I do, then can’t I believe that if he says no, it’s because he loves me so much?  What am I missing out on because I am afraid to ask?

So, what I’m asking for now, is that I would feel the freedom to ask for whatever I want.  The freedom to be ridiculous in the face of a God who loves me. The freedom to know that my value in Him isn’t diminished when I ask for something he doesn’t say yes to. The freedom to hear ‘no’ and believe that it’s because he loves me so much.  And I’ll hope and pray that, one day, those requests line up with His  plans and purposes more often than not as I grow and learn to love him more.  Because a girl gets tired of hearing no all the time.  Just ask Bella.

I think that’s a request God can say yes to. Freedom to rest in my love for you?  Yes, Beloved.  And he probably feels the same sense of relief that I do when my kids finally ask for something that’s good for them, something that is easy to say yes to, something that makes me smile and say, “For goodness sakes yes.  Let’s get you that right now.”              

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Crochet Fun!

Lately, the energy and creativity I used to save for writing have been channeled into my new love.  Crocheting!'s not that new. I learned to crochet in 2002, but I spent the last ten years only being able to make simple scarves and baby blankets. "I can't read a pattern," I thought.  "It takes too much time and energy to learn something new!"

But, about a year ago, while I was crocheting up a baby blanket for my adorable niece, I wanted to add a little something special to it.  Just a simple heart on the corner.  So, I googled it.  And then I googled all the parts of the pattern that I didn't understand.  Google is amazing.  About an hour later...viola!  A little crocheted heart that I could sew on the corner of that hot pink blanket to tell Kynlee how much her auntie loves her.  And....I was hooked.  Ha!  Get it...HOOKED! :)  I started looking for more patterns.  More simple things I could learn.  And guess what? There are THOUSANDS of free patterns on the internet.

And guess what else is awesome?  A lot of the crochet blogs that I am currently devouring are written, interestingly enough, by people from the UK, which makes it a delight to read!  All that talk of things they are crocheting for their flats, and their mums, and getting "cross with bits of yarn when they get tangled straight away."  It's intoxicating.  Not to mention that crochet blogs are some of the most colorful, beautiful things to look at.

All that to say, I have been creating things left and right.  And I can hardly finish one thing before I start another.  And my husband, a smart man to feed my addiction to yarny things, got me a crochet magazine for Christmas with all kinds of interesting patterns and these instructions, "I want you to make me a sweater someday."  Now, this is interesting, because he's not really the sweater-wearing type.  I think he just wants what we all want.  To be wrapped in something that someone made with you in mind.

I'm not ready to tackle a whole man-sized sweater yet, though.  So, I'm starting small.

I made a bunch of these swirly, twirly scarves around Christmastime to give as gifts.  Because I feel like, in Colorado, you can never have enough beautiful scarves. This is a tiny toddler version I made for Ava and she looks insanely adorable with it wrapped around her like a grown-up girl.

I made a few of these hats, too.  Such fun little girly hats with beautiful cluster stitching and super easy flowers.  This is Hope's and it looks super cute on her.

This baby blanket with all it's ripply goodness is still in the process but I love the way it is shaping up.  And the pattern is so easy, I almost feel ashamed that I didn't step out of my straight line, double crochet baby blankets sooner.

And this adorable cupcake was made for a little girl who is turning one. I think it's the perfect gift for a sweet little future cupcake baker.

I've also made my first pair of mittens and my first shawl and there is a lot more coming.  Including these amazing little matryoshka dolls.   Are you kidding me?!?  How cute are these.  Oh yes, I will definitely be making some of these.

There are a million fun things you can do with yarn and I think in 2013, I might  just try out a couple hundred ideas.  So, if you don't see me for a while, you might want to rescue me from my basket of yarn and insist that I rejoin the outside world for at least a couple of hours.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Week of Thankfuls...January 4, 2013

I am thankful for adoption!

-I'm thankful that God chose this unique road for our family and that we have experienced the miracle of adoption.

-I'm thankful for three birthmoms who made a brave and sacrificial choice.  They amaze me and I'm thankful that we get to see them and stay in contact.

-I'm thankful that God's timing is perfect, that he redeems what's broken, and that he blesses us with more than we can even ask for.

-I'm thankful for adoption agencies who sorted out all the paperwork, who held our hands through the process, and who prepared us as best they could.

-I'm thankful that our story of adoption has taught me so much and continues to teach me about love, mercy, healing, and how God makes a way when there seems to be none.

So, so thankful!     

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Week of Thankfuls...January 3, 2013

I'm thankful for my friends!

-I'm thankful that the prayer I prayed early on in college...for best friends...has long since been answered in these precious people.

-I'm thankful for friends who have their own stories of adoption.  You have no idea what a blessing that is to our family.

-  I'm thankful for friends that are next door neighbors.  Friends that share flour and eggs and hands and hearts. We are better people because we live next door.

-I'm thankful for friends who make me laugh and who cry with me and who hold me accountable.

-I'm thankful for friends that are far away but still manage to call at just the right times, to be present in all the important moments, to pray for us faithfully.  Seeing far away friends in person after time away, and picking right up where you left off, is one of the sweetest friendship gifts ever.

-I'm thankful for friends who instantly make me relax in their presence.  And the deep joy that comes from the goodness of being known and loved.

-I'm thankful for friends who teach me how to be a better wife, a better mom, a better friend, a better follower of Jesus...and that they love me when I miss the mark.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Week of Thankfuls...January 2, 2013

I am thankful for my family!

-For a husband who loves Jesus more than anything and is a gentle shepherd who encourages me to do the same.

-For a husband who is thoughtful and kind and funny and creative and an amazing father and smokin' hot.  Just sayin....

-For a husband who makes me feel like I'm something special, too.

-For three little girls who redefined family for me.

-For three little girls who know how to love well and are learning what it means to follow Jesus.

-For three little girls who are as different as night and day, and who each remind me of how creative our God is.

-For piano playing, and soccer, and giggling, and arts and crafts, and bath time, and tea time, and hugs and kisses....and all of the things that make up my day with these beautiful girls. 

-For my first family...who taught me to love Jesus and to get along with others.

-For parents who love each other and who still hold hands and who call on our birthdays to sing  a harmonic version of Happy Birthday.

-For sisters, who helped me learn to share and how to be a good friend...and who are still friends today.  And for brother-in-laws, who quickly became the brothers I never had.

-For the legacy of 2 sets of grandparents who loved each other faithfully for 60+ years.

-For my husband's family...who welcomed me immediately and have always treated me like a daughter/sister.

-For an extra set of parents who teach us how to grow to love your spouse more every year.

-For in-laws who feel more like sisters and brothers and moms and dads.

-Again...for the legacy of 2 sets of grandparents who loved each other faithfully for 60+ years.

I am one blessed girl!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Week of Thankfuls...Jan 1, 2013

It seems like there could be no better way to start the new year than by being thankful.  And there are a lot of things I am thankful for.  So I thought i might just be thankful every day this first week. (Let's hope it doesn't end there!)  A different category for every day.  Since we just saw a WHOLE BUNCH of our Young Life friends...I'm gonna start there.  I'm thankful:

-that we got to host 21 (22?, 23?...I lost count somewhere along the way) students at the Malibu Work Crew reunion this past week, right here in Canon City (12 boys in our home).  These students are truly some of the most wonderful people on the planet and I enjoyed every minute of it. Having a work crew reunion is a blessing that is almost too sweet to take in.  That these students, from all over the country, love each other and want to stay connected is an amazing thing to see. 

-for high school boys who love Jesus and sit around talking about him and encouraging each other. For boys sitting in our sun room reading scripture in the morning.  For boys who sit around singing worship songs.  For boys who give us thank you cards and gift cards and hugs.  For boys who understand that they were designed to desire the company of other believers.  For boys who give me hope that one day my daughters can be loved by men who will love Jesus more than they love anything else.

-I'm thankful that, although God has blessed us with a house big enough to host 12 boys, my little family can all fit quite snuggly in one room for as long as we want to.  It's a good reminder that we don't need it...and that this place was given to us to share.

-I'm thankful that my kids can sleep through almost anything, including 21 high school students in the next room playing games and laughing great big belly laughs.

-I'm thankful for great big belly laughs filling up this house.

-I'm thankful that my little girls get to be around big kids who love Jesus. Who show them what it looks like to love Jesus as a teenager.  I think they are gonna need that example in their lives.

-I'm thankful that we get to be a part of this ministry and all that it brings to our lives.  We have, over the years, received far more than we have given.

-And I'm thankful that the message we get to share in Young Life, the Gospel, is way more enticing and inviting and appealing than any creative way we could find to share it. And that when it takes root, it produces such abundant blessings. (See picture below!)

Join me, won't you?  Let's be thankful all week!