Our Life In Collages...

Hello there!

As usual I said that I would be trying to post each week, and as usual- I've not done that...oops.  Sorry.

So this post is going to be a catch up of all things life related- with pictures- so Yay!

To make it easy- I'm going to start at the top left of each collage and work my way clockwise...

Here we go...

1.  We got some BIG news!  We are expecting baby #4!!!

2.  We may need a bigger bed.  On Saturday mornings it's getting a little tight when everyone piles in...including the dog.

3.  Baby #4 will be due around Halloween 2015.  This picture is the picture we used to announce his/her's soon to be arrival.  (Thanks Pinterest)

4.  Baby's first ultrasound

You might not remember but in my last post I announced that we are going through the required steps to get certified to become a fostering family.  I did not know that I was pregnant when I wrote that post.  We are still 100% planning on continuing on that path.  We actually finished up our 10 week certification classes just last night.  We still have some other things until we are completely certified, but we are closer each day. Really the only thing that will change is that there will have to be a window of a few months when we have baby #4 where we do not take in a child. We want to make sure that we don't throw too much change on our kiddos (and ourselves) at once.  We want to make sure we adjust and allow time to bond and get used to baby #4 before we add a baby #5 (I wrote the number 5 with my head between my knees!  Holy cow!)

1.  I'm headed on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in July!  My passport finally came in and I couldn't be more excited!!!  What a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel and the wonderful hope and joy that come from the truth that is our my Savior Jesus Christ!  And on top of that- first passport ever- Woohoo!

2, 3, and 4.  The wonderful group I am going on the mission trip with is in full swing having lots of fundraisers for our trip to the D.R.  I took these pictures in our churches fellowship hall while we were getting our Spaghetti Dinner prep on.

I know what some of you may be thinking... She's pregnant!  How could she possibly be going on a mission trip?!  (your doing the math in your head right now to figure out how far along I'll be- I'll help you out- I'll be 26 months along- right at the end of my second trimester.)  

I know it may seem crazy- but just because I'm pregnant doesn't change the fact that I feel a huge burden to go on this trip.  I felt that way before I was pregnant and I continue to after the fact.  I've spoken with my doctor and have been given the green light.  I know that things happen sometimes.  I am well aware of the dangers and concerns, but the truth still remains that I have prayed diligently about this trip and the fact that I'm pregnant hasn't changed how I feel.  The truth is I would rather be in God's will in the Dominican Republic and something go bad than to be at home disobeying his call.  I know that may sound crazy and maybe even irresponsible to some, but as Christians we are called to go, to proclaim the gospel, to disciple, and I am so excited at this opportunity.  

I hope that you will commit to praying for not only me, but our team as we prepare our hearts, our bodies, and our supplies for this trip. Pray for our safe travel there and back.  Pray that we will do the work and run the race that God has prepared for us in advance.  Please pray for the people of the D.R. that their hearts and minds will be open to hearing the good news that is our Savior Jesus Christ.

1.  Little Man placed in the top 6 at the Sonata Festival (piano)!  He went up against over 18 other kids some of which have been playing for a year or more than him.

2.  Spring is here!  The weather has been so amazing and the kids are having the best time playing outside.  Little miss loves to take her book and climb this tree in our back yard.

3.  We walked down to our local Square the other day and while we were there I let the kids climb the big awesome tree in the middle of the square.  It was really awesome right up until a city worker came and chased them down.  Oops!

4.  This girl is funny.

5.  We invited anyone and everyone over to our house back in February to celebrate Fat Tuesday with us.  I prepared over 400 beignets for us to eat...it was crazy town!

1.  Wedding photo booth with the brother and sister-in-law.

2.  The girls were Flower Girls in the same wedding.

3.  The wedding was back home and while we were there we took the kids to the trampoline gym.  Ellie had a blast!

4.  My sister went home the same week we did and brought her kids.  Little Miss and her cousin got their pedicure on.

5.  Funny Faces with cousin Landry.

1.  Before it gets unbearably hot and the mosquitoes start carrying off my children we have been trying to get in as much park time as possible.

2.  While working in the kitchen one day I turned around to find the smelly dog like this.  So like any normal person I took out my camera and took a picture.  Duh.

3.  I'm still running.  Around 3 miles 3 days a week.  I'm starting to feel the extra weight though.  My goal is to run up until the mission trip.  We'll see though.

4.  Little man is a reading machine.  Right now he's working on "The Hobbit" and "The Incredible Journey".

We've been in full swing soccer mode around here.

1.  Ellie and I have made the most of it.  We're quite the cheerleaders.

2.  Little man is doing great!  We are hoping to get him onto a competitive travel team in the fall.  Soccer really is his sport.

3.  Little Miss is worn out after every game.  She hasn't scored a goal yet, but we have one more game and we're hopeful.

4.  She keeps on smiling though!

5.  Team Helder- dad's the coach..What a team!

There you have it.  There's of course been some other things going on around here that I didn't have any pictures of.  Nolan preached this last Sunday.  His sermon was wonderful and so convicting.  I am so blessed and amazed to see the way that God is working in his life.  The kids are doing awesome in school- reading and learning like all-star pros.

Hope everyone has a blessed and fun day!  Until next year!  (haha- just kidding...I hope.)



The Great Unknown...

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior"

Have you ever heard the song by Hillsong United called "Oceans"?  It's a wonderful song.  One of my favorites probably.  

In the past few months I have deeply prayed, like the song states in the chorus, that the- "Spirit would lead me where my trust is without borders", and that God would "let me walk upon the waters- Wherever He would call me".  That He would "take me deeper" than my own, human feet would ever take me on there own.  And that my "faith would be made stronger In the presence of the Savior" through whatever door He would choose to open to me.

When we came to Alabama six months ago I knew right away when he blessed us with our home that he was calling us to use it as a place to gather, to fellowship.  We have tried to stay faithful to that calling by opening the doors to our home as often as possible.  However, as I prayed my prayer of Him "taking me where my trust was without borders" the more I felt the burden to use our home for something more.

It was around this time that a few different things happened.  1) We started to really speak to our children about the need for Christ's followers (Christians) to see and to serve through love the needs of those hurting around them.  2) I started to become really good friends with my neighbor who has devoted her life and her home to the needs of foster children.  And 3)  I started to diligently read the blog of a sweet friend from many years ago who has been called to foster children- and just recently adopted two of those children.  And as I prayed my prayer and began to open my eyes and heart to what I knew God was trying to tell me- I knew...

...He was asking me to be faithful to the scariest part of the prayer.  The part where he takes me "deeper than my feet could ever wander"...He was calling us to open our home to children through Foster Care

Would I have chosen this path on my own?  I'm not sure.  If I'm being totally honest I would probably say "no".

It's scary.

It's uncomfortable.

It's the unknown, and that is never a fun place to be.

But the comfortable place isn't where God always calls us to be.  Actually the more I grow in my faith and love for Christ the more I'm realizing that if I'm comfortable I'm probably NOT where He wants me to be.

So I spoke to Nolan, and he immediately was supportive and on board.  We spoke to our children.  We told them about this wonderful opportunity to open our home and our hearts to the hurting and how it is a perfect opportunity to show Christ's love.  One of the proudest moments in my walk as a mama was the moment they both said how much they loved the idea.  How they loved the idea of loving on a sweet child that may have not experienced much in their shorts life.  We have plenty to give around here and my sweet babies are ready.  God went before me and prepared the hearts of my husband and my children.  He was just waiting for me.  For me to say "Here am I!  Send me."

Last night we attended the first of ten classes that we have to take to get licensed.  We have to have a home inspection, and get background checks.  Nolan and I have to be interviewed together and separately, and our kids have to be interviewed also.  I tell you all of this to ask you to please be praying for us as we travel this journey.

Pray for peace.

Pray for our hearts to be opened to whatever God has for us along the way.

Pray for the hearts of our children as this will be an adjustment.  The main concern they've voiced is the sadness that will be present when a child has to leave our home when their time with us is up.  Pray for understanding for them.

Start now praying for the children that will be placed in our care.  Pray that they will make a smooth transition, and that they will see Christ and know his love while they are in our home.

Pray for us that we will be able to love those children through the heart of Christ.  And that we will be able to be His light in a very dark situation.

In the song, "Oceans", it talks about God calling us out upon the waters to the great unknown.  Where we know that our own, human, feet may fail us, but that it is there, in the great unknown, that we find God.  And that because we find him there, "in oceans deep" our faith will stand- it will not fail...

Pray that as we are headed into "the great unknown" that "our faith will stand", and that even when things get hard and the waters feel deep that we will "Call upon His name" and that there, in the unknown, we will find Him.

"He has never failed, and He won't start now."

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"
By: Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine



Happenings and Such...


So you know what's going on- I've decided to basically make this blog my family scrapbook.  Just a log of all that has been going on in the lives of our little family.  Now that we are living in Alabama it also seems like a great place for our family to see what's been going on in our lives.  So here it goes...

A sweet girl in our youth group had a birthday the other day at this great park that we have been wanting to take the kids to.  It's a historical park with a great playground, live animals, hiking, and buildings that were true to the 1800s.  It was so much fun and the kids had a blast!  Here are some pics from the day...

Sister Love...

Love this one!  Ruthie's hair- Wild!...

 Getting pushed by big sister...

Look at that face!...

Zip Line...

Silly faces with her Mama...

My boy (he styled his own hair- Love it!)...

This goat looked at us like we were crazy.  We probably are...

Nolan and the kiddos with a few boys from our youth group...

Later that night it was pass time for Nolan to get a haircut!  He preached Sunday so he needed to look goooood.  As you can see he was so excited about it...

Baby Girl turned 2!  I'm pretty sure she was more excited about the balloons we got for her little party than anything else.  Next year she's just getting balloons.  There was a green one but her sister made sure to pop that one about five seconds after we got home...

We bought pizza and I made cupcakes- It was quite the party!...

I'm not sure she liked it...

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

This last picture is from Christmas.  I just love the picture so I thought I'd throw it in.  I love the man in this picture with me so much!  He's pretty much the best.  I need to tell him that more often.  I want him to know that I'm proud of him and how hard he works to love his family.  I'm thankful for the way he shows me and the kids how to follow and love our Savior.  And he's nice to look at...so there's that too.  

So that's what has been going on around here.




Year In Review...

Our 2014...A recap.

Where to start?

A lot happened in 2014 I feel like.

Early 2014 my hubby started to feel the call into ministry after being a high school teacher/coach for the last 8 years.  We visited three different seminaries pretty sure that God was calling him to school first in preparation for full-time ministry.  Even though we were fairly certain that seminary was God's will Nolan still seemed to have a nagging feeling that maybe we were wrong (when you have a wife and three kiddos to think about, quitting your job, becoming a full-time student, and hoping you find a part time job that pays you enough for you and your family to survive on can be a little scary).  However, after visiting Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky we felt certain that is where God was calling us...

We were wrong...

The day after we arrived home from Louisville sure that we were headed there a friend of ours who is a pastor at a church in Alabama called us and told us his church had an opening for an Associate Pastor/Youth Ministers position and he felt like God had laid my husband on his heart.

God is so funny sometimes isn't he?!.

So once again we started praying for direction, for peace, and for His good and perfect will to be accomplished through us.

Would we ever make a decision?  I was starting to wonder.

In the end we truly felt God calling us to Alabama.  The hubby felt at peace knowing that he would be providing for his family while getting experience serving and working in a church all while doing his seminary work online.  It really was amazing how God worked out all the little details and showed us (me mostly) that sometimes we must earnestly seek and pray for His guidance and will to be revealed, and He doesn't always make it easy or quick.  We must learn to be patient as we learn to listen and understand what He's saying to us.  While the uneasiness of being in limbo and just not knowing what we were doing and where we were going was enough to make me completely frazzled at times I wouldn't change that time in our journey for anything. Learning to earnestly pray and seek God during that time grew my faith in ways I didn't even realize possible. We learned to trust God's provision and to know that He would make his plan clear to us in His time.  I learned to trust my husband as he lead our family.  It was such a blessing to experience His hand at work in our lives and has become such a huge part of our story- how God has truly shown himself good and faithful to us.

So in 2014 Nolan changed professions and we moved to Alabama!  Pretty Huge Right?!!

We bought a house that was built in 1912.

In the short amount of time we've been here we've made some amazing friends.

We love our church, and immediately felt right at home.  We work with the youth at our church.  We have them over often.  The highlight was our tacky Christmas sweater party.  I wore a Christmas jumper with matching turtle-neck.  It was pretty legendary I'm not going to lie.

In November we took the students out door to door to pray for those in our community and to offer meals to those in need for Thanksgiving.  It was eye opening to see the huge need in our own community, and a blessing to take our students into the community to serve.  We delivered around 40 meals to those in need on Thanksgiving.  It was awesome to be a part of!  Since we didn't go home for Thanksgiving we had our own Thanksgiving here in Alabama and invited a few friends over to celebrate with us.  I cooked my own Turkey!  It was so scary and gross- I totally didn't pull out the bag that was inside it...oops.

The kids and I volunteer once a week at a local thrift store that raises money to buy food for the needy.  It's pretty awesome to serve right along side my kiddos, and to see them learning to love and serve those in need.

Little man played football for the first time ever, and started piano lessons.  He rocked Jingle Bells out like an All-Star pro at his Christmas Recital.  He's now in basketball season, and he's getting better and better. He continues to be an amazing reader, but his most exciting news of all is that he excepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in January of 2014!

Ruthie continues to be sassy, but at the same time sweet and loving.  She loves her big brother and and thinks he hung the moon.  We are hoping she might play soccer in the spring but in all reality she just wants to dance, twirl, dress-up, and use her imagination to take her to places that I'm sure are full of unicorns and colorful dresses and high-heels.

Baby girl is a mess!  She is by far the friendliest child we've had.  She waves at and tells everyone she sees "Hi!".  She's a climber, but by far the craziest thing she does is take her diaper off every chance she gets!  I seriously can't hardly keep the thing on her- and it's all fun and games until she's poopy!  I'm sensing potty-training in her near future- Ugh!

Nolan is doing awesome and I love him more and more each day.  He's serving in our church.  Working on his Masters degree through New Orleans Theological Seminary.  Playing basketball when he can, and starting Monday I'm making him do a 10-Day Detox with me...He's very excited about it.  I feel so blessed to share this journey with him by my side!

There you have it...2014.

It was pretty great!

And crazy...

And Silly...

And Wild...

And sweet...

And I loved every bit of it...

I hope your 2015 is Amazing!  Happy New Year!



He Is Faithful...

If you haven't read the first part of my testimony you can read it HERE.

Part 2- All Grown Up:

I left off talking about how even in the most beautiful of God's gifts- in my case- my marriage- sin can take root and cause pain and strife.

The hubby and I got married when we were pretty young.  I was 22 and he was 21.  He was finishing up his bachelors degree down in Texas when we got married- so after the wedding off to Texas I went with my bags packed with not only clothes, but big dreams of marital bliss and happily ever afters.

Once we were settled in we immediately started going to church.  Nolan had not gone to church since he had been in high school and his parents had made him.  However we were married now- so he was more than willing to go to make his sweet, new wife (me- haha) happy. 

I'm not going to lie- marriage was a huge adjustment.  When you move in with your significant other you find out all sorts of stuff about the other that you never imagined...some good- and some- not so good.  However, we made it through those first few years better for the things we'd experienced together.

In the next few years Nolan finished school- started a career, we moved a few times, and we began to start our family.  First God blessed us with a sweet, little boy, and then a few years later with a loving, cuddly, little girl.  It was around the birth of our little girl that Nolan began to struggle with his faith.  Now when I say struggle what I really mean is he came out and told me that he wasn't completely sure that he had ever truly believed in God, and if he did he definitely wasn't sure he believed in the Christian God.  He started throwing around words like atheist and agnostic.  He told me he would no longer be joining me and the kids to church.  He had always been a Sunday morning service goer- never Wednesday or Sunday nights.  I knew deep down that if I had ever said lets not go to church anymore that he would have said, "Sounds good to me".  But despite knowing this it still felt like he had literally punched me in the stomach, and that my world had just crumbled to the ground. 

Up until this point our marriage had been fine- good even.  We had the occasional disagreement, the occasional fight, but nothing, I mean Nothing, had prepared me for this.  I was literally devastated.  We had two little ones.  How was I going to explain to them why their daddy never came to church with us?  What happened when they got older and they started questioning why they had to go if dad wasn't going?  I was the wife- it is not biblical for me to lead our family spiritually- how in the world would I do it?  It was through all of these questions that I became very, very angry.  Angry at Nolan.  Angry at God.  The angrier I became the more I lashed out at Nolan.  The more I lashed out at Nolan the more depressed and distant he became.  He was confused.  He was very depressed.  He was hopeless.  He was Lost.  And I was just angry- and I let him know it often.

Around this time a close friend and mentor of mine was sweet enough to let me share my burden with her.  She advised me, prayed with and for me, and told me to bring my kids and come to her church.  So that's what I did.  Every Sunday I would load up the kids and go to my friends church without my husband.  I would love to tell you that I did this with a happy spirit, but the truth is- I felt like my spirit was completely broken.  I usually walked out the door with a snide remark to Nolan about him not joining us and him making me go alone.  This went on for about a year, but it was sometime during that year that God really laid it on my heart that all the nagging, complaining, and snide remarks were doing nothing beneficial in the war for Nolan's soul.  He revealed to me that what Nolan needed was prayer and grace. 

I'd love to tell you that over night I stopped nagging and that the angry outbursts just disappeared, but the truth is it took time and lots of prayer.  Prayer for Nolan to know the truth, and prayer for myself- that I would learn to love him right where he was.  And God was faithful.  He met me were I was- broken, hurt, and angry, and little by little my anger ebbed, and the atheist philosophical books littered around my home began to be replaced by Christian titles.  And then one day out of the blue Nolan was dressed to go to church with us.  And almost four years ago, sitting in our room alone, Nolan excepted Christ into his heart to be the Savior of his life. 

Since then God has begun a work in our family that is beyond anything I could have ever imagined!  Nolan has stepped into the role of spiritual leader of our family leading us in bible studies, prayer, and to church.  God has healed our marriage and brought us closer to one another than we have ever been.  In January 2013 God blessed our family with another sweet, baby girl.  In January 2014 I watched as God allowed Nolan to lead our 9 year old son to Christ.  God is moving, and we are willing and ready to answer and to follow wherever he leads.  And all of this because he was willing to answer my small- fragile prayers with power and faithfulness that has blown me away!

He is faithful.  Through this he has shown me so many things.  He has shown me to rely on him.  To trust in him.  To give it all to him.  He allowed me the opportunity to pray over my husband- to be a part of the amazing miracle that took place in my husband's life.  And while it was the hardest season of my life so far- He used that time in my life to draw me back to him because if I was being completely honest- before my husband came out and said he was a non-believer I was just going through the motions.  Doing the minimal- no more- no less.  He used what felt like a hopeless situation to bring about new life in Christ for my husband and myself.  I have recommitted my life to Him, and am so thankful that he was gracious enough and patient enough to show me the way back.

So while I became a Christian when I was very young I spent many years wasting time- not forming the relationship with Christ that he calls us to experience.  Through my husband's salvation he showed me the many areas in which my own relationship with him was lacking.  He showed me that he is my Savior and that he should be #1 in my life, not my husband, not my children, and not my things, that nothing else can replace the giant, God sized hole in my life but him.  Daily he transforms me, molds me, and shows me areas in my life where I need his guidance, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and wisdom.  Sometimes he has to teach me these lessons through discipline and suffering in order to humble me and to show me his ways are better, but thankfully these lessons always come through love, and with hope of a new and brighter day. 

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
'therefore I will hope in him.' "  -Lamentations 3:22-24

I don't know where you are in your walk with Christ.  Some of you reading this might not even know Christ, but as I sit here I pray over this testimony in hope that it will reach you right where you are.  That from it you can see how powerful and amazing the Love and Mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ are.  Maybe He's calling you to walk closer to him, maybe he's showing you areas of your life that need prayer, or forgiveness, maybe he's laying someone on your heart that needs to hear about his saving grace, or maybe it's you that needs his saving grace. 

Wherever you are- know that he is faithful, that he loves you, and that he will meet you right where you are- no matter where that might be.