Thursday, December 31, 2015

7 Things I Learned in December

I know December is really about all things Christmas, but I'm sharing some things {seven things, to be exact ...} I learned this month THAT ARE NOT CHRISTMAS RELATED. Of course, if you want to read about our Christmas, I wrote about that.

Here. {A Jesus Birthday Party Tradition}

And here. {Christmas Around Here}

And here. {Merry & Bright}

So, closing out 2015, here are seven things I learned in December ...

1. Rachel loves this Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat.

I don’t feel compelled to buy contraptions for my babies with the exception of the papasan swing all three have loved. But when I saw a picture of a friend’s baby in it, I knew she’s love it.

Of course, now with Christmas, she has some new contraptions I’m sure she’ll soon also love because already loves standing in our laps, trying to be bigger than she seems.

2. Goodbyes are hard regardless of your age.

One of my best friends and her family recently moved from Murray. They’re still in Kentucky – but they’re about four hours away and settling into a new normal that’s far away. This has been sad for Ben too because Sarah’s oldest child, Davey, is his age and they haven’t known their first six years without each other.

For years, we’ve lunched together nearly every Sunday after church. Sarah and I would get together during the week and text an ever-continuing conversation throughout the days. Thankfully, the texting remains!

And then THE SAME WEEKEND this month, our college friend who has been one of the few people outside our immediate circle to babysit our kids moved. I mean, congratulations, Amber, you graduated. But, um, we miss you already.

3. Cate and I have revived our back-and-forth journal writing and it’s good for my soul – both as a writer and a momma.

4. Tornado watches and thunderstorms are possible on Christmas Eve Eve. 

And then it kept raining FOR DAYS, literally. Now nearby Kentucky Lake is rising above normal summer pool IN THE WINTER. (There’s a whole long explanation about the dam and the river that I barely understand.)

5. Cate now wears adult women’s shoes. 

She's 8 1/2 years old. Geez. How did THAT happen?! The day after purchasing some size 6 purple Nikes, she borrowed my socks.

6. "The West Wing" is good. 

I know, I’m a whole decade behind. But it’s our latest TV binge.

7. Speaking of television shows, Cate’s into “Full House,” which makes me happy and nostalgic.

Tell me about your December. How was your Christmas? Did you learn anything worth remembering?

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman, like I do at the end of every month. 

{2013} JuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
{2014} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On Going Home {a #ThreeWordWednesday post}

People talk about going home for Christmas. For me, home is really about people. I don’t live where I grew up, and I love building my home where I am now. But sometimes home goes with me other places.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is getting together with my childhood friend Bekah who is married to another long-time friend of mine. They have three kids who are close in age to Cate and Ben. Some years we get together with other friends of ours, but sometimes it’s just our two families.

Either way, getting together with her is like coming home – regardless of where we actually are. Last year it was a fancy restaurant with just a table full of adults. This year is was brunch with our two families – party of 10, please.

I also got to spend a few hours with my childhood neighbor-turned-best-friend Katie. We can sit and talk wherever we are like no time has lapsed between visits – this time it was in a brightly colored, noisy arcade. Fun fact: We actually used to work at the amusement park that houses the arcade. Now called The Renaissance Fun Park, we were actually there so my kids and their cousins could burn off some energy. They were in the house for DAYS, thanks to all the rain. And, well, all boy moms everywhere understand that doesn’t work.

So while they played laser tag and arcade games, we talked. We reminisced about when we were employees there in the summers of 1997 and 1998, when it was called The Park at Middletown. We took a selfie in the rain because we had to see what had changed and what had stayed the same.

There are a couple other friends I didn’t get to connect with like I wanted to, but I did get to see more family than usual in Louisville this past weekend. Two aunts, two uncles, my grandpa, a cousin and her husband plus my more immediate parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. I did miss my sister, brother-in-law and their growing family, but they were at home in Buffalo, NY, adjusting to being a family of five with newborn twins.

Walking down memory lane with friends and making new memories is what coming home truly is about for me. The visits don’t always go as planned. I usually want more time before returning to my physical home – which is where my favorites live – but then I get back here and remember it’s where I’m supposed to be.

Here is home too. Sometimes it seems like everything is always changing, but going home and coming home always reminds me of the important foundations that remain the same. Really, life is more about being at home wherever you are than it is actually coming or going home – all while we wait for our eternal home. {Tweet that.}

Who or where is home to you?

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry & Bright

This past weekend we’ve had Christmas with Greg’s two brothers and their families, watched the two oldest kids in a Christmas program at church, went to a potluck lunch with a couple of the Guatemala missionaries we served with this summer, and caroled at two local assisted living homes.

It was a fun, Christmasy weekend.

Rachel was wearing a cute “merry & bright” outfit at Gran-Gran’s house. I’m glad we snapped some family pictures before Greg’s brothers and their families arrived because Rachel promptly pooped on the white onesie.

The kids had fun with their cousins – including my three, there are 11 total. The oldest turns 12 in a couple weeks, and the others are 10, 8, 6, 6, 5, 4, 2, 17 months, 5 months, and 3 months. We managed a couple pictures of all the cousins, my favorite of which is above.

By the time Monday came, we were all glad to have a slow morning – well, you know, except Greg, who had to go on to work. The kids and I lounged around, ate a good breakfast, and caught up around the house on our first day of Christmas Break.

Kids aren’t the only ones who rejoice when Christmas Break comes around, y’all. This momma is welcoming the break in our routine.

But we did have to venture out on the rainy first day of break to the grocery. We needed bread, eggs, milk, cheese, and butter. For real, talk about being out of the basics. And we aren’t even expecting snow. (If you don’t live in the South, you may not know what I’m talking about.)

In fact, apparently it could be 70 degrees for Christmas. And rainy. Again, in the South you never know what you’ll get.

Anyway, back to the grocery store, one kid didn’t feel good, another was coughing, and the third was asking a million questions. But we made it – mostly smiling. I filled their bellies at Qdoba before we ventured into the grocery store, so maybe that move paid off. And then we got back to the van in the parking lot and I realized I left one door wide open – like I was inviting someone in, where I had $65 in cash sitting on the passenger front seat. Thankfully, nobody accepted my absent-minded invitation.

We have some plans with friends tonight and tomorrow night. We’re doing Christmas Day here – partially at our house and partially with extended family at Greg’s grandma’s house, which is conveniently next door to us. And then we’re headed to Louisville to hang out with my family.

Sometimes outfits get poop on them. Other times momma forgets to do the most ordinary tasks. Groceries still have to be bought and little bellies fed. Kids are loud, have lots of questions, and share germs.

But it’s still Christmas. So may your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white. (Or rainy. Whatever. Because merry & bright certainly doesn’t mean perfect.)

How are you celebrating Christmas?

It's the #Christmas edition of #ThreeWordWednesday at @kristinhtaylor's place. Come gather with us! {Tweet that.}

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rachel @ 3 months

When Rachel was 10 weeks just after Thanksgiving and we were in Buffalo, she slept a couple seven-hour stretches two nights in a row. (And when I say seven hours, I mean 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. or 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.!) Then it continued at home! For about a week. And this weary mom rejoiced.

And then it stopped.

Now, I'm waiting for that sleeping habit to return. Admittedly, she eats and then goes right back down, but, still ... I prefer sleeping through the night!

Even so, she smiles often and people are always commenting on what a happy baby she is. And it's true! She loves when people talk to her and reacts like she had something to say in return. Of course, we have a fifth extrovert in our family.

Speaking of family, we're obviously thrilled her adoption was finalized this past month too.

In other three-month notes, Rachel ...

  • Eats 4-7 ounces every 3-4 hours.
  • Spits up regularly, but doesn't seem to care and she's clearly growing.
  • Wears mostly 0-3 month clothes still, but that's not going to last much longer.
  • Moved up to size 2 diapers.
  • Is teething. For real. All the drool.
  • Sucks on her fingers, sometimes as a sleep aid and sometimes to address the aforementioned teething.
  • Loves her play mat and Fisher-Price seat.

Honestly, it's hard to believe a quarter of her first year is in the books and just how quickly these three months have gone. I realize that's cliche, but it's true.

Keep up with Rachel and her growth :: One month. Two months

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Books of 2015

I love looking back on what books I read throughout the year.

Let's talk fiction first. I discovered a few new-to-me fiction authors: Christina Baker Kline, Mary Alice Monroe, and Liane Moriarty. Others I love released new fiction books: Irene Hannon, Lisa Harris, and Diann Mills. And I returned to an old favorite: Billie Letts.

And as I was looking through pictures to make that collage above, I realized I read most of my fiction on my Kindle, so I don't have as many pictures of those covers. Many of my non-fiction choices came to me as perks of blogging. I was on some launch teams and reviewed others. Thus, the many pictures of non-fiction books.

Even so, there are so many good books. I keep a running list at Goodreads, but here's my list of what I've read this year. It breaks down to 21 fiction and 22 non-fiction.

  1. "Shoot the Moon" by Billie Letts
  2. "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline
  3. "Sabotaged" (Alaskan Courage Book #5) by Dani Pettrey
  4. "Desire Lines" by Christina Baker Kline
  5. "Bird in Hand" by Christina Baker Kline
  6. "Buried Secrets" (Men of Valor #1) by Irene Hannon {Review}
  7. "Footsteps" by Diann Mills
  8. "Target" (FBI: Denver series prequel) by Lisa Phillips
  9. "Bait" (FBI: Denver #1) by Lisa Phillips
  10. "The Summer Girls" (Lowcountry Summer #1) by Mary Alice Monroe
  11. "The Summer Wind" (Lowcountry Summer #2) by Mary Alice Monroe
  12. "The Summer's End" (Lowcountry Summer #3) by Mary Alice Monroe
  13. "The Beach House" by Mary Alice Monroe
  14. "Firewall" (FBI: Houston #1) by Diann Mills
  15. "Hope Harbor" by Irene Hannon {Review}
  16. "The Hypnotist's Love Story" by Liane Moriarty 
  17. "Vendetta" by Lisa Harris {Review}
  18. "Double Cross" (FBI: Houston #2) by Diann Mills
  19. "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty
  20. "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty
  21. "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

Non-fiction // Christianity
  1. "The Beauty of Grace: Stories of God's Love From Today's Most Popular Writers" by Dawn Camp {Review}
  2. "You've Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect" by Holley Gerth {Review}
  3. "Dragons and Dirt: The Truth About Changing the World - and The Courage It Requires" by Dalene Reyburn {Review}
  4. "Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected" by Kayla Aimee {Review}
  5. "He Still Moves Stones" by Max Lucado {Related Post}
  6. "Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in Fast-Moving World" {Review & Related Post}
  7. "Butterfly in Brazil: How Your Life Can Make a World of Difference" by Glenn Packiam
  8. "For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards" by Jen Hatmaker
  9. "A Beautiful Exchange: Responding to God's Invitation for More" by Megan Nilsen {Related Post}
  10. "Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts" by Sara Frankl & Mary Carver 
  11. "Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God's Strength for Living" by Charles Stanley

Non-fiction // Relationships
  1. "Team Us" by Ashleigh Slater {Review}
  2. "Mothering from Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family" by Melinda Means & Kathy Helgemo {Review}
  3. "Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy" by Donald Miller
  4. "Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir About the Beauty of Friendship" by Melanie Shankle
  5. "Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends" by Melanie Dale {Related Post}
  6. "Strong and Kind: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed" by Korie Robertson {Review}
  7. "I'm Happy for You (Sort Of ... Not Really)" by Kay Wills Wyma {Review}

Non-fiction // Self-care
  1. "The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You" by Jessica Turner {Review}
  2. "Dashing Dish: 100 Simple & Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating" by Katie Farrell {Related Post}
  3. "Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You Through Life's Changes" by Kristen Strong {Review}
  4. "Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy" by Alli Worthington

What books should I read in 2016?

Need more book recommendations? Here are my lists from 2013 and 2014

This post does contain Amazon affiliate links, but purchasing through the links doesn't change the price for you yet supports this blog. I'm linking up this post at Kate Motaung's blog too.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas around here

We’re rejoicing there are five stockings hanging from our mantel. And the littlest is official. I would say officially a Taylor but her birth mom named her Rachel Elizabeth Taylor at birth so no name change is necessary.

(I admittedly gave my baby her Christmas present early because the evening it arrived in the mail she wanted to be included while her big brother and sister did their homework. This way she can see be upright taking it all in. And while confessing, I bought myself some initial bracelets from the other day because the deal was fabulous. Yes, I’ve already worn them.)

We have a wild, crazy tree again. None of the heavy ornaments are hanging from the branches because I didn’t want them to fall and shatter. (I realize that picture above has no ornaments on the tree, but they’re there now. It took us another day to get them on and I apparently haven't taken a picture yet!) Speaking of ornaments, we’ve gotten three new ones to celebrate Rachel’s adoption finalization – truly perfect gifts.

And there are some presents under the tree. We’re doing one main present and then stockings with the kids. And remember I told you my husband was hard to buy for? Well, I happened upon some really great items ... and I’ve managed to keep the surprises. I’ve got a couple more small things to get for extended family and am waiting on a few things to arrive in the mail, but I’m basically finished.

(See, I don’t give everything early!)

We’ve had my husband’s office party and have upcoming gatherings with our best friends, Greg’s siblings and their families, and my family. We’re hoping to see a few friends when we are traveling. This week there are Christmas parties at school before the much-anticipated break from our routine.

Even though I’m generally not sleeping through the night yet, we’ve managed to keep some of our favorite traditions: We hosted our annual Jesus Birthday Party, picked out items from the Compassion International gift catalog, and sent out our Christmas letter that reviews the past year.

And what a past year it’s been!

I look at these stockings on our mantel – really the only place decorated other than that corner of the living room with the tree, for the record – and emotions well up in my heart. We are so grateful for what God has done in our family.

How are you celebrating Christmas this year?

I'm joining @kristinhtaylor for #ThreeWordWednesday. Come gather with us! {Tweet that.} 


Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, December 11, 2015

We are five, officially.

We are five, officially.

Adoption is a funny process. You spend all this time waiting and then gathering paperwork and then usually waiting some more. And then you bring a child into your home, go about everyday life, and then months later (usually, although where you live determines how many months ...) the adoption is actually finalized.

Our adoption finalization hearing yesterday was less than 10 minutes long and that involved a quick photo shoot with the judge and attorney. That’s a quick end to what has been a much longer process.

If you’ve been around here long, you know our story. Basically, we've wanted to adopt for a third time since the beginning of 2012, but we just couldn’t make it work.

Did you catch that? WE COULDN’T MAKE IT WORK. Well, of course we couldn’t. But we tried anyway, for two years. We met with agencies and updated our home study multiple times. We had hope and then it would be dashed for reasons beyond our control.

And then we stopped pursing adoption. (Read: We stopped trying to make it work.)

We lived our life. We converted the nursery into a guest room.

Then God surprised us and he made this happen, rather quickly too. The basic timeline for Rachel’s adoption looks like this:

May 2015 – We met Rachel’s birth mom, Stacy, through a local friend.
June 15, 2015 – We met with our social worker for our home visit as part of the home study, for which I’d already gathered many papers and documents.

Summer 2015 – I took Stacy to prenatal apportionments and readied our house for a newborn. (Goodbye, guest room! But no worries out-of-town friends, we have sleeping options so still come visit us!)
Sept. 19, 2015Rachel was born.
Oct. 23, 2015 – Social worker came back for a post-placement visit.
Dec. 10, 2015 – The adoption was finalized.

To God be the glory for making us a family. This isn’t the story I expected, but it’s better than I could have written.

And just for fun ... you can look back on Ben's adoption finalization from 2010 and Cate's from 2007. God worked it out so the same attorney and judge were involved each time. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Happy birthday, Jesus! {a party tradition}

We like to celebrate Jesus’ birthday around here.

On Sunday, we gathered friends from different circles and had a birthday party for Jesus because that is the meaning of this season. This is the fifth year we’ve had this event. While each year looks different, the party itself helps kids remember why Christmas matters. We had such a good turnout this year with 47 kids.

{I’ve written about past events before. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. And today I'm at Circles of Faith sharing How to Host a Jesus Birthday for your Community. Come join me there!}

We made some crafts (thanks, Oriental Trading!) as people arrived and then Greg led a few carols on his guitar and then read “The First Christmas Night” written by Keith Christopher and illustrated by Christine Kornacki. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and then we ate cake and ice cream.

Families were encouraged to bring gifts to Jesus. Specifically, we collected canned goods for the local food pantry; first aid and school supplies for Light of the World Ministries, which is working on starting a rescue center in Guatemala; or clothing for Bethel Ministries International to add to its distributions in Guatemala.

On Sunday evening, we were worn out from a full but fun holiday weekend, but I was already brainstorming ideas for next year’s birthday party for Jesus. This is one of those traditions we let go last year because our calendar seemed too full, but I’m glad we made it happen this year. Yes, we do it for the kids, but it certainly helps my weary soul rejoice.

What Christmas tradition in your life do you love?

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Trust without borders

“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”

{From “Oceans” by Hillsong UNITED}

We sang this song in church on Sunday and I can’t get the phrase “trust without borders” out of my head. Admittedly, I used to turn the station when this song came on the radio. Its popularity got on my nerves. But then our worship leader at church sang it and I heard it in a fresh way.

I love when God does that. I love knowing he can take words we’ve heard hundreds of times before and make them fall fresh on our lives.

Trust without borders.

That’s what I want – in all areas of my life.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about my relationship with Rachel’s birth mom. Like our others before, the adoption process was open. But the post-birth interaction with Stacy has been different than our other experiences. It’s not what I expected but I believe it’s exactly what God knows is needed. My emotions about the grief intertwined with joy in adoption spill over easily this time. I want to mother my baby’s birth mom. I want to help her find a job. I want to buy her groceries.

But I know at this point that’s not what I’m supposed to do. For months, I didn’t know what that meant for our relationship. Then she reached out to me via text. She confided in me and trusted me the details of her life. We got together for about an hour at a local coffee shop before Thanksgiving and have texted again since. Our latest text conversations stirred my emotions again – for her, for the birth dad, and for this sweet little life that bonds us.

I realize God is answering the prayers I prayed for Stacy. Giving her money or groceries or ride somewhere is easy compared to navigating an actual relationship. I’m open to having a relationship with her even though I have absolutely no idea what that will look like.

I believe this is where God is calling me, so I need to go there. {Tweet that.}

And I can only go there with God. My human self wants a plan and details for the future. But when I trust the One who orchestrated this relationship, my faith becomes stronger and deeper – and going into the unknown becomes possible.

As we sang in church on Sunday, I realized I too often try to tie my faith up in a box with a pretty bow. My relationship with Stacy is just one example. I’ve been there, hesitating, in a million other ways in marriage, motherhood, my daily life, our mission trip to Guatemala this past summer, and so many moments between.

Faith isn’t always tidy. {Tweet that.} Sometimes it spills all over the place, bringing us to God in a new way. Our faith takes us places that are messy, but God goes with us, bringing beauty from those ashes.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Bible is My Best Friend Family Devotional {a review}

Each evening looks different, but Greg and I like to incorporate family devotions into our lives with young kids. Depending on the day, our kids, and the season in our lives, we use various different devotions. Cate also has a couple she reads on her own before bed.

Right now, the newest family devotional on our shelf … or, well, on the arm of our couch, or kitchen table, or wherever it was left … is Sheila Walsh’s “The Bible is My Best Friend Family Devotional.” This brightly colored, hardback book has 52 devotions aimed at families with children 4 to 10 years old. I like that it has questions, discussion points, scripture to memorize, and challenges for kids who are ready to go deeper.

The illustrations by Sarah Horne are also cute and cartoonish.

Week 3 prompted a good conversation between dad and son about obedience. Using Noah’s obedience to God as an example, Walsh reminds families that obedience takes work, patience … and sometimes the ability to put up with a bunch of stinky animals. She also talks about how Noah’s obedience protected his family.

“Day-to-day obedience might not seem as important to us when it’s not life or death like it was for Noah. But God still wants us to be obedient so that we will stay safe and grown into the kinds of people He planned for us to be. Obeying God is one way we show Him that we love Him and want to serve Him.” (page 19)

Greg talked to Cate and Ben about how godly obedience translates into their daily actions in our home and in their obedience to us. That’s a conversation we could have had anytime, but it’s nice with the prompting comes through a book the kids are already enjoying. Books like this one help us parents speak truth in our kids’ lives.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: From best-selling author Sheila Walsh, "The Bible Is My Best Friend Family Devotional" connects families both to God's Word and to each other. Fifty-two key scriptures form the basis for the devotions, which build on the verses, challenge the family to commit them to memory, and explore how each verse is part of God's wonderful message. "Let's Talk" questions urge the family to discuss what they've learned and offer challenges for different ages of children as well as their parents.

Hardback. 224 pages. Published by B&H Kids (Oct. 1, 2015).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Sheila Walsh is a powerful Bible teacher and best-selling author from Scotland with more than 5 million books sold. Her international ministry has reached more than 5.5 million women by combining honesty, vulnerability, and humor with the transforming power of God’s Word. Calling Texas home, Sheila lives in Frisco with her husband, Barry, her son, Christian, and three little dogs. You can reach her at

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR :: Sarah Horne grew up in Derbyshire, England, where she spent much of her childhood scampering in the nearby fields with a few goats. Then she decided to be sensible and studied illustration at Falmouth College of Arts and gained a master’s degree at Kingston University. Now into her 14th year as an illustrator, Sarah lives in London and specializes in funny, inky illustrations and words for children’s books.

I received a free copy of this book from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for a review, but these opinions are my own. We’ve used this book and it’ll continue to be found in random places around our house. This post also contains Amazon affiliate links.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thanksgiving in Buffalo {a recap for #ThreeWordWednesday}

We spent Thanksgiving weekend in Buffalo, NY, where my sister Cassie and her family live. And there wasn’t any snow, for those of you thinking we’re crazy to head into lake-effect weather for a holiday.

We actually had a couple days in the 50s, and then it was in the mid-30s the day we went to Niagara Falls and then three-fifths of my family ice skated outside.

It took us 15 hours – 764 miles and four stops – to get there. The big kids watched three movies – “Despicable Me 2,” “Matilda,” and “How To Train Your Dragon” – and Rachel dozed off between feelings. Grandmom was also with us.

In addition to Niagara Falls and ice skating, we had a big Thanksgiving meal with Cassie & Zac’s friends, ate wings (I managed one handed while feeding Rachel!), saw some friends who used to go to church with us in Kentucky, hung out with our almost-2-year-old nephew Lochlan, and played euchre.

On the way back, the big kids watched the same three movies plus “Princess and the Frog” and Rachel slept more. Thanks to less traffic in Ohio, we were able to shave off almost an hour on the way home.

Speaking of Rachel sleeping, she managed her BEST TWO NIGHTS up to that point while we were there and continued her six- and seven-hour stretches when we got home. She’s the best 10-week-old, ever, really.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that doesn’t have traditions for us. We’ve traveled often for it – Branson, Mo. … in 2011 and 2013Charleston, S.C. in 2012 – and spent 2009 at home with our baby boy. Our favorite tradition is an annual meal with our friends. I say that like we only eat once annually with them, and that’s not true, but sharing in the holiday together has been special. And we did that last month this year.

This Thanksgiving was good. I coughed and blew my nose way more often than I wanted to. We spent two entire days in the mini van. But we made memories with people we love.

Buffalo didn’t have any snow, and my sister didn’t have her babies like I was hoping either. She’s 37 weeks pregnant with twins. I’m greatly anticipating their arrival, the updates about them across the miles, and visits with them this summer.

Until then, I’ve got Thanksgiving memories tucked away. Meanwhile, giving thanks is a concept I want to embrace more tightly regardless of the date on the calendar. {Tweet that.}

How was YOUR Thanksgiving?

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."