Saturday, November 9, 2013

Foster Care

Our lives are about to get a lot busier. When I write that, my first thought is... "How is that possible?" As our children get older, we are pulled in so many different directions. We already have almost no nights where all six of us are home at the same time. And yet, God has placed children in Foster Care on our family's heart. Almost 2 months ago, we started attending the classes required to become foster parents. We are excited and nervous all at once.

The kids are all very excited and can't wait to have another little person to love on. Cory and I are also excited for this opportunity but we are also very aware of the heartache that we are inviting into our lives. We know the goal of foster care is reunification and that means that we will fall in love with child after child and then they will leave. We also know that no matter how well prepared we think we are, the heartbreak will still be something we are not ready for.  But, I also know that is how most things in life are.

If we had any idea how difficult marriage and child rearing was, I don't know if we would have signed up so easily and readily. If I really understood the pain of child birth, would I have chosen to have my baby somewhere that pain meds were not an option?  But, the cool thing to me about all these hard choices that I might not have made if I knew better is that each of them have also been WAY more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

I never knew how much I would depend on another human being and how much teamwork it would take to get through the life I have. I never knew how much my husband would teach me about who I am and who God is. I never knew that children would stretch me to the end of myself and bring me to a new level of love I didn't understand before. I never knew how empowering and beautiful child birth could be.

And so I expect it will be with this new journey we are entering. I expect it will be so much more difficult than we can imagine now. I also expect it will bring more joy to our lives than we knew was possible. I expect we will be stretched farther than ever before. I expect that we will learn to love to a new level we've never experienced. I expect we will learn more about who we are and who God is. I expect our lives will never be the same and I expect that there will be moments we wonder why we ever made this decision. But, I also expect there will be moments where we will know without a doubt that God has called us to something so unbelievably incredible that we will feel honored to be a part of it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Summer

The entire Summer passed without one blog post from yours truly. I'm just going to say that means that we were so busy with all the fun that I didn't have time to blog:) We did have a nice Summer and the school year came too quickly. We took some trips to the beach and Aquatica, we did lots of swimming at grandmas, and Morgan recovered from a broken toe. soon

We just finished our fifth week of school and this year is proving to be an interesting one. Our family moved to a new homeschooling co-op after attending the same homeschool group for the last five years. It's been an adjustment for everyone but we are finally getting into a groove. I am daily challenged to remember the privilege I have to teach my children at home. Some days, neither they nor I see it that way:)


Friday, May 4, 2012

Foster Care Awareness Month

Although my family is not a Foster or Adoptive family, it is very dear to my heart. I have several cousins that have been adopted domestically and internationally. Growing up, it was always part of my life. I love adoption and I love how God has used this to bless so many families in so many ways. I also have watched friends walk this journey and have been so awe struck by the process.
Jessica is one of those friends who has invited me along for the amazing adventure. I have been so fortunate to have a friend who allowed me to be part of the details that many adoptive parents  think "non-adoptive" families don't want to know about or think they will not understand. She has allowed me to cry and laugh with her and to know about the paperwork and fingerprints. Even when I didn't understand, she was patient enough to explain.
I am a doula and am extremely passionate about bringing children into this world. Jessica has allowed me to witness a different form of this by allowing me to walk beside her bringing her children into her family. The gift of adoption truly is like watching a mother give birth.
You see her go through the waiting and waiting of "paper pregnancy" (a much longer gestation period).
You see her read book after book to prepare for the arrival of the new life.
You see her go through the pains of labor as she does visit after visit and has to continually leave her child behind.
You see her overcome with the relief of birth as the judge finally says, "He/She is yours."
And, you see her struggle through the postpartum blues as the reality and hardness of motherhood settles in.
It's a hard journey and not one intended to walk alone. I have been more than blessed to walk this journey with Jessica. I love her and her children. I love that I am "Aunt Cassie".
I love the beauty of adoption and the example it is of how God had adopted each of us.







Sunday, April 29, 2012

Disney.. just cause I live in Orlando doesn't mean I go every week...

But, we did yesterday! Thanks again to my awesome husband, we had a fun day starting at Animal Kingdom and ending at Magic Kingdom. It was long and exhausting but so much easier with kids old enough to walk the whole time.







Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sydney's 10th Birthday

Last month, my Sydney turned 10 years old. In my family, that means a "real" party (more than just the 20 family members and the option to "go" somewhere). I saw an eversave a couple months back for Rebounderz (an indoor trampoline house) for a birthday party package half off and asked Sydney if she wanted to go that route. Of course my active girl said "YES!". So, we headed to Rebounderz the Saturday before her birthday. We had a lot of fun and everyone (including the adult jumpers) was exhausted!





This was the year of football for Sydney. She has discovered her love for the game and got lots of good stuff in the football category. She also got a huge teddy bear from her sisters and some other fun gifts.




We followed suit with the 10th birthday tradition and had a weekend away just mommy/Sydney. However, this time, she had the bonus of her cousin/aunt joining. Her cousin is turning 9 in a couple months and is in public school. Because my weekend away involves having the "talk" and her cousin has been faced with this subject at school already, she came along. We started at separate hotels so that we could have some privacy with our daughters, but quickly realized that was just silly. Those girls wanted to do everything together and actually made talking about stuff easier when they were together.

They are both easily bored and I think they were both happy to have a friend along to do all the fun stuff with. Cory was able to hook us up with some passes to Old Town, Arabian Nights and IFly (for Sydney and I). We had a fun-filled and question filled weekend. I knew that Sydney was going to have WAY more questions than her older sisters for this weekend and she did not disappoint. We really did have a fun time and it was bitter/sweet to me that this was my last 10th birthday away with mommy. Now, I just am going to have to find other reasons to go away with my girls for the weekend: )

We always have 1 fancy dinner out. Here we are ready for our date out!







The next day, we headed to Old Town and did some rock climbing, zip lines, carnival rides. It was a fun day!








We ended the night at Arabian Nights. Decent food and a very impressive show.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yearly Letter (or so I call it) 2011



It's March. I can hardly believe it, but it is. I try to keep up with all the balls in the air, but this blog is the one that drops. I really do like to write an annual letter. I like to look back and reflect on the year and all that God did in it. I want to be able to have a recap of my life at the end and see God's hand through it all. But, somehow it is already March and my January letter is not written. So, here goes another late, but necessary (to me) letter. If no one else reads this, it's ok.

Last year started out hard. Really hard. My pastor of 20 years left the ministry and moved to Iowa. People that I have gone to church with my entire life (and were like family) started leaving by the bus loads. Family members were in the middle of huge crisis that spilled over to everyone. Friendships were being destroyed by sin and misunderstandings. It was just hard. There were lots of nights spent crying and praying and trying to understand.
But, the really cool thing is to look back at the entire year and see how God had his hand in all of it. We often have to go through extreme brokenness before we can fully realize God's healing power. This has been a year of sitting (or laying down) in the pain and brokenness and just waiting for what God was going to do. There were times that I doubted God (like he hasn't proven himself faithful to me over and over again). There were lots of times that I didn't understand and wanted answers! But, now I see how HE had plans far greater and far better than I could have asked or imagined.

As our church went through the mire and sustained attack after attack by the enemy, God walked beside us. When we felt that didn't have the strength or numbers to carry out His plan, God gave us strength. When our hearts were broken and our souls weary, God refreshed us. When things felt hopeless, God was our hope. Praise you, Lord, for your faithfulness to me, my family, my church, your people!
It is incredible to see where my church is now and how God is using the people we never would have expected to lead our body. God is using the people who don't feel they deserve it to bring about revival. I see God's Spirit moving and stirring things up and I am so excited to be part of that. I cannot wait to see what he has for our future. I know "He who started a good work, will bring it to completion." I am humbled and excited that God has chosen to use me as part of His plan of redemption.

I also have seen God bring redemption in hopeless situations where families were torn apart. It is a source of encouragement to me and praise to Him.

Ok, now on to the boring details of the year. I just couldn't let that other stuff go without being said....

Cory is still working with Ripley's and doing a great job! We are very thankful for how God has used this job to provide for our family. There are still struggles in this area and we continue to look for God's leading and direction, but we are thankful nonetheless. He truly does love all the weird and wacky stuff that comes his way. We also enjoy some of the perks that come along with having someone who works in the attraction industry. We have been fortunate enough to enjoy trips and outings to several places we never would have been able to afford before. Cory also continues to volunteer at church in the children's ministry. He is faithful and is always ready to serve wherever God calls him. I truly appreciate his servants heart (even when it annoys me).

I started going through the certification process for becoming a doula in March of 2011. This has been a dream of mine for about 7 years and I have been practicing occasionally throughout that time. But, this was the year to make this dream official. It was a time consuming and rigorous process. But, I did complete my training and I am officially certified through DONA International. If you have no idea what a doula is, feel free to check out my web site at www.teamworkbirthing.com (yes, shameless plug and advertisement). It took a while for things to get rolling, but I am now working with about 1 or more births a month. I love this job! My kids are now old enough to stay home by themselves when I need to go to a woman in labor and there is nothing as great as being paid to do what you are passionate about! So, when I started this process and our mortgage modification was approved, I was able to quit my part time job at the children's resale store. I was very thankful again for how God provided that job for a time, but I was so excited to be able to come back home! My heart never left my home and I couldn't wait to be back. I'm not sure if my kids were as excited because they had received a lot of freedom and had been playing a lot of video games. I came back and brought to a screeching halt some of the craziness.

Morgan is in 7th grade this year. She continued to take classes at Circle 2 days a week. However, now she is taking core curriculum classes instead of the "fun" stuff. But, she has done wonderful! She is such a first born, rule follower, perfectionist that I don't even have to ask her if she has completed her homework. The only problem here is that the work I assign is not as important to her as her work from Circle. But, we are getting there. She is still extremely social and usually the life of the party. She loves to be a leader and looks for any opportunity to do so.

Avery is in 6th grade. Due to our financial situation, the younger 3 kids all stayed home full time for school. Avery was completely fine with this decision. She is still a homebody and loves to be where she is comfortable. She is officially a middle-schooler now and has been attending the Youth Group at church. She seems to like it pretty well and sticks close to her sister or the few girls she knows well. She continues to do well at gymnastics and did join the team this year and went to the state competition where she did great! Avery's favorite thing to do all day is to give hugs. She is my loving girl and is always looking for some affection. This is one of my favorite things about her. She continues to have a sensitive and soft spirit and her heart hurts when those around her are hurting.

Sydney is in 4th grade and also home. This year, she has discovered her love for football. She loves to watch (especially GA or NE) and play. She actually has a really good throw and we are looking for a flag team to put her on. Her questions never stop. But, most of the time she walks away before they can even be answered. Or, she will ask several at the same time and you don't even know where to start. She is very inquisitive but doesn't always care to know the answer. I think sometimes she just likes to hear herself talk :) She is a very passionate person in everything in life. If I had a tenth of her energy, I would get twice the amount done in a day.

Jordan is in 2nd grade. He is ALL boy and would love to have a brother (he actually would like for his cousin to move in with us). He loves to play with LEGOs, anything involving a super hero, swords, etc... He has mastered the art of jumping from one piece of furniture to the next so that his feet never have to touch the ground. He also made the decision this year to ask Jesus in his heart! He got his first Bible only a couple weeks ago as well. He loves it and tells me all about what he read for the day. He also has started to fine tune his wit. He enjoys listening to any adult conversation in order to add his own 2 cents worth in a way to bring about laughter. He really is a pretty funny kid and keeps me on my toes.


One of the books I have been reading lately is 1000 Gifts. This book has an amazing ability to help you change your perspective and see all the gifts that God has given you everyday, all around. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. For me, it has helped me to not take for granted the many (more than 1000) gifts God has blessed me with. It has helped me to slow down, look around and be thankful. I am thankful for all God has done over this past year and I am thankful for what He is planning to do in 2012!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Avery State Competition

Avery competed in her first State Meet this past weekend. She did FABULOUS!! She placed 1st in her division on the bars and 2nd on floor which helped her to place 2nd in overall! We are so proud and just love to watch her do what she loves.



Morgan came along for the 3 hour drive there and back and the 2 hours sitting at the meet just to support her sister and keep her company. Awww, how sweet! However, she refused to let me take any pictures of her. That's ok, I am just posting this one anyway!



Here is a video of her on the bars!

And, here she is on floor!