Monday, August 25, 2008

San Antonio!

I am home from an awesome time in San Antonio where I attended the Beth Moore Conference with dear friends. When I have more time I will post about the awesome talk on Psalm 16 and what God is teaching me. But for now, here's some fun photos of when I won a door prize for having the most kids and got to hug Beth Moore. Love her!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Tribute to Firsts

Today marks a special day in the chapter of our lives. It is the first time we will take one of our children to college. It is the first time I have a 19 year old, remember I am only 34, it is the first time I have felt sadness and true happiness at once. It is the first time I have witnessed first hand GOD's hand and grace and mercy at work in one of my children's lives, as it is played out so obviously before us all.

This time a year ago, M's college plans were swiftly changed and a new plan was instated. She held onto her hope that she would this year go away to school, start her college experience and be "independent". As that day has come, I cannot do anything but stand in awe of God's hand at work in her life. His and her plan have come together as one and her she goes. . . .

She will only be an hour away, but my other children just cried this morning as they pulled away to go to school. M had gotten up to see them all off and say their good-byes, but I had no idea of the reaction from some of my other kids. Especially little ME. ME was 2 months old when M came to live with us. So. . .for ME it is like a part of her mother is leaving. M was truly MY helpmate in the early days of this ministry. She rocked, fed, changed diapers, put little ones to sleep, and most importantly bonded and shared a relationship with her. She has done that with all of our kids.

Saturday marked M's 19th birthday and all the kids were given the statement to finish "how M has impacted me or what I love about her most.. " All eleven statements would be too long to post, but the underlying comment was the importance of her positive, upbeat nature and her willingness to have a relationship with all of them. Truly amazing, God is awesome and HE has hand-picked our little, big family to work just so. To Him be the glory for that.

Check out some fun photos as a tribute to precious M!!

Our first family photo with M and M. (they will die when they see this!)

Through the years our family began to change and grow!

Then. . through the years, she began to change and grow!

M and little ME, they were inseparable in those early years!

Then along came little J, what a great big sister she has been to him.

More importantly, all these girls are looking up to you!

And now, she is 19, all grown up and going to college. . . I think I will cry my eyes out right now, then some more later! We love you M and God has big plans for your life. We can't wait to watch it all unfold!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back to School

Praise the Lord!! It is finally here. The big green van has pulled away filled with smiling faces ready to face a new school year. We have 1 starting kindergarten all the way up to college. What a great and glorious year it will be, PLUS the house will be much quieter these days.

I wanted to give you an idea of the effort and initiative it takes to purchase our Back to School supplies. I myself was a school teacher for 6 years before beginning our ministry work, so I know the importance of parents buying every single item of their school supply list. BUT, I can't even put into words the time, finances, and effort it took to get all the school supplies together for this year. 11 in school in some form or fashion is quite a financial burden, BUT praise the Lord that everything is provided and paid for and taken care of.

Our precious relief Mother, Beckymom, came one morning last week to keep the kids and I spent an entire morning at Sam's, Wal-Mart, and Staples completing the multi-checklists. Just look at our kitchen table once it was all done!!

Believe it or not, those are organized stacks assigned to each child. I couldn't have done it without my big kids!

Today marked ME's first day of "real" school, Kindergarten. This morning as she was about to pull away with all the "big kids", she said, "Mom, You are really going to miss me." As tears are in my eyes as I type this, it is hitting me, she is gone. She is now a member of the world, only to retreat back to me in the afternoon and evenings for moments with me. I can only pray she has the skills she has needed to be ready to face her little world. (praise God we go to a christian school and her desk is next to a preschool friend) Those are blessings and gifts from the Lord I am so grateful for. Her teachers are precious people ready to love on her and that too is a gift. I am also grateful she went right to sleep and popped right out of bed, she is by far the most like me, SHE LOVES HER SLEEP and needs it! She has waited for the day to put on the UCS uniform like all of her siblings and was proud to wear it as she marched out with her new school bag and new lunchbox. I just still can't believe it is here.

What a big, precious girl!! I am so proud of her.

(thanks to their Dad for yummy biscuits on the first day back, we usually dine on cereal)

J managed to snap one of K and S on their first day as well. Have a great year girls!

To all of my chilren (that sounds like a soap opera title), I love you and I am praying for you every day. Have a fabulous year and God has so much for you, just wait and see!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wordless Weekend!

Beachin It (Part 2-fun times with the kids)

The kids were forced by me to pose happily for a photo after a yummy night out!

I am so sorry I have not continued my beach posts, life has had us pretty busy this week. Getting ready to go back to school is hard work. (but that's another post)

I wanted to make sure I included some of the great shots I got of the kids while we were at the beach and swimming in our little beach house pool. When all 12 of us were in there at once our pool is what we like to call a spool. (pool/spa)

We had a fabulous time while we were away. Jonathan and I celebrated our 12th anniversary while my parents volunteered to keep all the grandkids. We also enjoyed some fabulous family time as well as just relaxing, beaching it, and swimming. Despite the news reports that there had been 15 shark attacks and/or sightings this summer, we did travel into the ocean. J would only let the kids go in up to their knees. It was quite a sight seeing the big kids ride the waves in such shallow water. Luckily most of my kids love seafood, so we enjoyed some yummy restaurants as well.

Enjoy the rest of our pictures from our fabulous vacation:

Little J has become quite the swimmer this summer. What a cutie!

Little T just cracks me up in my soul, I couldn't resist taking a photo op of these 3!

I loved this one because ME is color coordinated with her bathing suit. A girl always loves any accessories that match her swimsuit!

A is an avid reader!! She never misses good, quality time to catch up on a good book!

K had some type of digging project each day. Here she was determined to dig the biggest hole she could!

Yes, little J's tongue is out, nothing like that salt water all over your face!

The two boys spending some fun time together. I couldn't resist missing this moment with them together.

ME is ever the performer of the family, what a girl!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My First Blog-a-versary!

I don't think that is even a word, but I thought I would mention that today marks exactly one year ago that I started this crazy little blog. Wow. . . what a year does to a life, a family, a community. I looked back at all the things I have posted through the year and realize what a variety of activities, birthdays, and events have happened in our life in just one short year. God is amazing and real in all of those events, and I feel so privileged to be able to share them with so many of you.

I have never been one to scrapbook (much) or journal, so blogging has been a combination of the two, and helping me to feel that I have put some semblance of memories together for our family. Day to day life is pretty crazy for us, but some days are easier than others, and those days I find myself putting together some kind of little post that marks events we have had. Thanks so much to those of you that stop in, lurk, or comment into our sweet life.

So. . . one year down, who knows how many to go?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Beachin It-Part 1 (Fun with cousins!)

Part 1 of our beach story will include all the fun we had with our cousins while we were at the beach. The fabulous company we work for is so generous to offer us a free place to stay each summer as well as my parents, as my father works for the same company. The house my parents stay in is so large they are able to accomodate my siblings and their families. We had 22 of our family members with us this year! ( we missed you M, M and E) What a blast we had. Our fun included several days at the beach, lots of ice cream and popscicles, swimming in our pool and their pool, a birthday party for my nephew, fishing, a night with the grandparents and all the grandkids, playing the Wii on a movie screen, skit and stunt night, eating out ALL TOGETHER, a day at Sea World, and lots of laughter. The kids all get along very well and truly enjoy each other's company, it's nice to see them all play together. PLUS, a proud aunt must brag that I loved spending time with my neices and nephews! How they are growing so much!!

Okay, enough, enough, enjoy the photos of all the fun we had with extended family while we were away!

15 Grandchildren, what a crew!

Eating out w/ all 22 of us was quite a long table, thanks to Pops for treating us all!

The boys!

J having fun with all the girlies!

10 of the kiddos w/ Thunderbird #7, AKA Uncle Rob!

On our way to Sea World. It's funny how cousins that have lived a country apart find it a novelty to ride in a car together. These two are precious together!

We're Home from Family Vacation

I know, I know. . . we are finally home and some of you have been wondering what happened to us. We are still alive, but have just been "offline" and out of town for 10 days. Our little beach cottage is not Wi-fi, nor does it have Internet capability, so. . . I was missin by bloggin. But it really was good for us to truly "disconnect" from the world and get away with 10 of the kids. I will post pictures and stories later. Right now, there is literally a U-haul to unload, and piles of laundry. Details will follow later. . . right now, it's good to be home!!