Friday, August 19, 2016

Visual Lessons

Your words have the power of LIFE or DEATH....

We did an exercise with our family this week...we have had lots of curve balls come our way this week quite unexpectedly.  It has been difficult, emotional, exhausting and we have seen the Lord carrying us every step of the way...so we felt it was the right time to do this for all of us...

We gave each child at our table a tube of toothpaste and a paper plate and had them squeeze the whole tube out onto the plate. And then give them the task of putting it back in!

My girls immediately said it was impossible while my boys immediately blew the tube back up and started stuffing.  One did amazingly well but it still wasn't all in there and that wasn't the point.


We then continued with the dialog we found that went something like this....

Each day, you will have the opportunity to hurt, demean, slander and wound others.

You will also have the opportunity to heal, encourage, inspire and love others.

Occasionally, you will make a wrong choice and cause harm.

Just like the toothpaste, once the words are out--you can't take them back.

Use your words carefully.  When others misuse their words, guard yours.

Make a choice every morning that life giving words come out of your mouth.  Decide that you are going to be a life giver.

Be known for gentleness and compassion.  Use your life to give life to a world that so desperately needs it.

You will never, ever regret choosing kindness.

When we were done....we asked if there was anything that anyone needed to say.  We were blown away....seriously blown away by the confessions and apologies offered up by our children towards one another and towards us.  When we set out to do this exercise....we just wanted them to think....but the rewards were far greater than we could have ever imagine.

God always has our back....healing in our family is a good thing and these little baby steps are so good for our soul!  Praising God for our sweet ending to our crazy week.  Blessings!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Amazingly Awesome Weekend

This weekend we were doubly blessed!

First, the NH Foster Parents Association had an event at Mel's Fun Park in Litchfield.  Wendy's wonderful Kids Program paid for everything.  

We had such a wonderful family day with all of our kiddos...the highlight was being in the air conditioning on a 90 plus degree day playing Laser Tag against one another!  At one point, the kids all joined together against mom and dad but then we organized and fought back!  There were many smiles all around!

There were batting cages where every one got a chance to swing the bat....Brandon took on the 85 mile an hour pitches and hit several balls!  Even dad got to swing...the kids were saying...."man dad you bat like a pro!"  

The go-carts were moms favorite!  We doubled up with the little ones and had fun riding together!

Fun, lunch, family, and connecting with other families were just some of the highlights of the day!  We stayed late and then headed home to crash and get ready for our next busy day...

On Sunday, we dragged everyone out of bed for a quick breakfast and headed to Canobie Lake Park for Foster Care Day.  We saw many new and old faces in the NH Foster arena.  It was good to reconnect for a second day in a row.  

We split up into groups, and headed into the park for some fun. 

It was SO hot and a few of us were being washed out by the heat.  We had discussions about what to do and decided to jump into the van and go grab something to eat ...we usually hit Wendy's and that is where we headed (they are such supporters of adoption).  We were wearing our orange family shirts and boy, Oh boy did we get the looks when we came in!  When you are a big family, you just can't help stand out and we had several people approach us asking if we were a sports team, a civic group.  No, we just kept saying...No, no, no...this is just our family.  We were asked questions and even offered material to sew clothes for the kids!

One woman would just not let us alone....through our entire meal, she hounded me with questions about how big our house was, how we managed everything from school to paying for our dinner at Wendy's...I just kept pointing her to the Lord.  I just kept saying, he supplies all of our needs.  At one point, she followed us into the bathroom and pounded me with more questions.  We just kept everyone going in the right direction despite some spills and usual meal stuff.  At the end, her husband started pounding me with questions ...we hope we left them with some encouragement especially when she told me there is no hope in the world today and she lives without hope.

It was so sweet of the Wendy's employers to take care of us through that whole period too...the gentleman cleaning the eating area took care of our every need and brought us napkins, helped clean up a spill, took our trays and wiped them clean....the employees were gracious and we had wonderful service.

We then headed back to the park...the older kids met up with the Swist family and did some rides with them....when they separated for dinner, we headed to a motorcycle show where they rode in a steel cage....the kids loved that....on our way out, we said bye to some of our friends and then hunted for a yummy snack that everyone would agree on.  While we were looking, we saw a Chinese acrobat show starting...we headed in with a bit of apprehension but it was A-Maz-ing!  The really cool thing, Ben and Eli had never seen anything like it in China.  We joked they came to America to see a Chinese acrobat show!  They were so excited!

We then ate our snack together and headed out for more rides and then met for our traditional goodbye family ride of the Ferris wheel!

The kids did amazing despite being tired and hot! 

Our kids love seeing kids in care and when they can't go home to their families, they pray for them and cheer with them when they find new families....they were able to see some of those kiddos this weekend!

This weekend was a huge blessing for our family and we are so grateful for the people who put it together for us and we are grateful to everyone!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Command Change

Yesterday, we were able to attend the Change of Command at Portsmouth Navy Base.  It was a ceremony honoring a long standing tradition of the US Navy.

The Shipyard workers recently did some work on the USS Constitution and honored the Commander who was stepping down by taking the scraps of the Constitution and recreated a part of the old ship for the stage out of scraps.  It was a very wonderful surprise and even more....a piece of wonderful history.


This is Commander David Hunt who is taking over Command.  He was stationed here a few years ago and we loved having family close by...the cousins are thrilled again to be close to one another.  They were making plans together last night at dinner.




There was a lot of pomp and circumstance but we enjoyed our time with family.

We are excited to have the Hunt's back in the area!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

This Sunday

What a beautiful day!

We went to church and then our nursing home ministry where all of our kids sang together...it was so sweet to hear their voices together!
We came home and grabbed the canoe and kayaks, ran into some friends and went out on the lake...it was beautiful!
Sweet times on this Sunday evening...

Out on the Railtrails

We love to walk as a family and recently decided to bring our horses to help the kids work on some of their natural horsemanship skills and the smaller kids brought their bikes.  It didn't go as completely planned but it sure was a glorious day and an adventure for sure!

Devon....one of our newest riders taking a break ....

We had the kids in teams according to who works with what horse...the newer kids found themselves being pushed around a bit so we had the more experienced kids take over.

Jason and Eli with Liberty.

Mike and Ben had Spirit dong well after some review.


Kiara with Krystal....her partner gave up and took off running to catch up with the big kids....she loved the time alone with her buddy.


We took a detour around a beautiful pond on a family farm near us....it is an amazing property and they let us walk as long as we stay in the trails.


We need more work on some of the horse skills but it was a beautiful day overall.

Together was a fun place to be!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 4th

We celebrated the 4th in our own hometown!  It was wonderful to see
our boys in a color guard for Alert Cadet.  They looked sharp and every picture has them in perfect step together.

Afterwards, our town has a wonderful celebration on the common...games, food, crafts, music and lots of family fun.
I caught Joe off guard....despite his look....he had a blast!
Ben is showing off his Stars and Stripes!


While there....we saw our friends from Maine.  Their sons fife and drum corp were in the parade.  They played games on the Common with our kids!

We invited them back to our house to help celebrate Michaela's birthday...burgers, hot dogs and the works were served up but the fellowship was amazing ....we were so blessed by our day!

Grateful!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Piano Fun

Our children all take piano lessons with Grace Winslow...it is quite the production to arrive in the morning for lessons....we invade our friends house for the next 5 hours or so for lessons, fellowship, lunch and learning.

Most days, the kids get along wonderfully ....playing games,

Sharing time together

Or finding a quiet spot to read a new found treasure....

We love our piano lesson days!