Family Vacay: Organized Packing

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hello there!! I hope your summer is going smoothly!! We have been enjoying the longer days, sunshine, and warm evenings on the back porch. But I think I can honestly say our favorite part of summer is our family vacations!! We've been so blessed with lots of family which means lots of traveling! We've gone to Yellowstone; cruising to Belize, Honduras, and Mexico; and to the east coast all with family. After going on a few vacations I have found that I have learned a few ways to help us stay a little more organized on our trips.

Matching Outfits for Crowded Places
When it comes time to pack, I am a pretty particular person. I like to be methodical and organized. One of my biggest pet peeves is living out of a messy and disorganized suitcase. So I typically spend quite a bit of time when packing for the whole family. One thing I did when we went on a cruise was buy matching swim suits for all three boys. This was so that we could easily spot our children when on the boat or beach. It worked!! It worked so well that for this years trip I packed all matching (or closely matching) outfits for each day.

We had some kind of a general idea of what we'd be doing each day on our trip. We also knew that we'd be visiting a lot of busy crowded places, so again, the matching outfits were extremely helpful! I know this sounds expensive, but with some careful planning it really wasn't. I used what we already had for the boys, and only bought what I needed to plan the outfits. I was very lucky that Old Navy was having a 40% off sale with free shipping! YAY!

Packing in Laundry Mesh Bags
Once I had picked out their outfits, I packed by the outfit for each boy. I purchased a bunch a very cheap laundry mesh bags from the dollar store. They turned out to be the perfect size for packing an entire day's outfit. For each boy I packed their shirt, shorts, socks, and undies per day per laundry bag. Then I packed each boy one laundry mesh bag with a "nice" outfit, just in case. Finally, I packed "extras" for each boy. I put a few extra socks, undies, a couple of long sleeved shirts, one pair of pants in a mesh bag. Boys can get so dirty I was careful to pack extras but I tried to not over do it. Mike likes to pack for himself, and he also likes to use the mesh bags to pack his clothes.

Personal Water-packs for the Kids
It's common for summer vacation destinations to be filled with amusement parks, a lot of outdoor activities, beach days, etc. One of our favorite travels tricks is a personal water pack for each boy. We found these on amazon for only $25 at the time we purchased them. They are great!!! These enable the boys to stay well hydrated while hiking, playing, and adventuring. They also have a few small pockets, perfect for storing a pair of sunglasses and a few snack packs per boy. BONUS: Mom and Dad don't have to carry EVERYTHING, and they LOVE have their very own packs to carry. There is even a little extra room for special treasures like the rocks or sea shells they pick up. 

For this particular trip, we were traveling far and gone for 9 days so I packed three suitcases that were to be checked in at the airport. One for the older two boys to share, one for my youngest and his Daddy, and one smaller one for me. 


 Sticker Books instead of Crayons
 In the picture below, the boys are sporting their "airport day outfits." They also each had one backpack for the day of flights. Each backpack had one sticker book, and enough snacks for the flights. The older two had their tablets, and Benjamin had a story book. We kept the contents simple and light. I felt like if they had too many choices they wouldn't know what to pick. The sticker books were GREAT! They were full color pages of fun things like pirates, pets, or dinosaurs with blank faces awaiting sticker eyes, noses, mouths, etc.  I linked a similar book here. I liked them because while they kept the boys well entertained, they were not at all messy nor were there a million parts or pieces like some travel toys have. I didn't have to worry about Benjamin drawing on a stranger or chasing after a roll away crayon on the crowded airplanes.

 Suitcase Organizing Pouches
One of my all time favorite items I use to help stay organized while packing are these travel pouches. I LOVE these travel pouches. They helped organize my suitcase and it stayed that way the entire trip! I used the largest cube pouch for my shorts and two pairs of pants. I used the medium size cube for all of my shirts. The smallest cube held my panties, bras, and fashion tape. I used the largest laundry pouch for my pajama set, the medium sized pouch held my swim suit, and the smallest pouch I kept empty just in case it was needed. I used the shoe pockets for my shoes, and rolled up two dresses to set on top of the travel pouches. I used another small pouch for jewelry and one for hygiene products. I like to keep my makeup pouch with me, so I kept that in my purse for the majority of the trip. If interested, I can show you the contents of my purse and how I keep it organized for travel and for day to day use. Although, I typically carry a diaper with me these days.

 So there you have it! Some of my favorite tips for traveling organized with a family. I hope this has been helpful in some way. Enjoy the rest of your summer vacation!

Thank you for reading!

Summer Chore Charts

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hello there! Well, are you parents ready for summer?? I don't know about you, but I feel like there is a fine line between balancing a summer bucket list of fun and overbooking ourselves. Sometimes I am so worried about the arguing and bickering that I am tempted to plan, plan, plan, leaving very little time for some spontaneous fun. And that's what summer vacation is for, right? Impromptu family gatherings, late night barbecues, last minute mini vacations.

I approach each summer a little differently I suppose. I try to remember what has worked in years past and throw out what didn't work quite as well. This year I have decided to put together a plan for summer chores. When my children know what is expected of them, they do a pretty good job of delivering. I think that can be true for most children. Consistency is key here.

At the beginning of this past school year I had put together new chore charts to help with the morning madness. On the charts I separated their Morning Chores from their Afternoon and Evening Chores. This I found worked out really well. When the boys woke up for school they knew exactly what was expected of them, and most days they completed their Morning Chores no problem. There was still the occasional whining, crying, and dilly dallying from the boys, but in general and as the year went on, they became accustomed to what was expected of them and completed their chores in a timely manner.

The Morning Chores for my two oldest were the following:

Get Dressed
Eat Breakfast
Brush Teeth
Brush Hair
Make Bed
Put Away Laundry (Bode's Chore)
Put Away Toys in Room (William's Chore)

As you can see the majority of their morning "chores" is just what is needed to get up and ready for school with the addition of beds made and the room picked up. When asked, "Can we watch tv?" My response has been, "Did you finish all of your morning chores?" This has been incentive enough that my oldest son would wake up a little early in order to complete all of his chores so that he could watch a show before heading off to school. When focused, the boys could finish all of their morning chores in 20 minutes.

Separating their chores into Morning, Afternoon, and Evening was the shining star of our chore charts. The boys knew what was expected of them and when, and I believe they found it a little comforting to know they didn't have to complete all the chores at once. So when I created their summer chore charts I kept the format the same, except I got rid of the "evening" chores. During the school year, "afternoon chores" were completed after a snack and some down time. Our plan for the summer is to do "afternoon chores" after lunch.

After a conversation with a friend of mine I decided to try the Job System with the boys. They will no longer be offered an allowance for completing their chore charts. Their chore charts will be a expectation for being a helpful member of the family and learning to take on responsibility as a contributing family member. However, if they would like to earn money we have come up with a list a jobs that can be completed for a predetermined amount of money. Many of these jobs can be completed in a matter of minutes.

I like that by doing this they learn that money will not just be handed to them, but earned. Once they have completed their chore charts they will be allowed to complete as many of the paid jobs as they'd like throughout the week. The job cards I made were inspired by another blogger's job cards I found here. I loved the style of her job cards, but decided the jobs were not quite what I was looking for, so I decided to make my own.

When the boys came home from school the other day, I explained the new chore/job system to them. I was surprised at how motivated my son, Bode, was by seeing the "money" hanging with the job cards. He immediately finished his chore chart so that he could get started earning money. In one afternoon he earned $14 doing jobs like clean and vacuum the van, pick up doggy poop, disinfect the door knobs, etc.

Then, the following morning he woke up early to complete his Morning Chores so he could pick a job to do. Before he left for school he had gotten himself ready, fed, made his bed, picked up the laundry, then swept and mopped both bathroom floors and he was so excited as we moved the fake money into his envelope to be exchanged for real money at the end of the week.


 Our chore chart center includes the chore charts, envelopes for each child's earnings, the job cards, monthly calendars, a notes page, and a year-at-a-glance calendar. The notes page can be found here, and the year-at-a-glance calendar can be found here. I picked up these two from one of my all time favorite organizing bloggers, her printables are the best. The monthly calendar printables I found here, I like these ones because there are no dates and can be used over and over again.

I bought the cork board tiles and colorful binder clips from Wal-Mart. I think the binder clips are my favorite part of the whole system! Underneath the year-at-a-glance calendar I put two envelops. One envelop holds the extra job cards and the other holds the extra "money." I use the "notes" page all the time! I love the colors, and the lined paper is great for list making. I have another one printed and laminated hanging on my refrigerator. I use it for keeping track of random groceries or items I need to pick up from the store. The envelope under the "notes" page is for our elusive dry erase you can's missing. Again. 

I did a chart for each of the three older boys, They are ages 9, almost 6, and 3. I blocked out the circles on the days that they do not have to do those chores. Typically our weekends are pretty busy with this and that, so realistically I know chores wouldn't get done on most Saturdays, and we just don't push the chores on Sundays.

I just give William a Swiffer duster for his "dust the hallway" chore, and he runs it over all of the wood work in the hallway. Does it do a perfect job? Not even close. But it's just a stepping stone for helping out. 

As you can see,  Benjamin has very few chores. The few that he does have he can do with ease. Right now we are more focused on Benjamin helping out and less focused on Benjamin completing the chart. 

Right now, the boys are capable of completing their morning chores in about 20 minutes and their afternoon chores in 45 to an hour, depending on how focused they are. My boys are typically up by 7am and in the summer they are in bed near 9pm. Which means their chores only take, at most, an hour and half of their 14hr day. This leaves the boys with plenty of time for all kinds summer fun, activities, and outings! They are being helpful members of the household, learning focus and responsibility, and typically when doing their chores they are too busy to be getting into trouble or bickering with each other. And now that they are earning money they will slowly begin to learn financial responsibility as well.

For the job cards, I tried to come up items that both Michael and William could do. I also tried to come up with jobs that required very little of my help. Now with the boy's chores and jobs out of the way, the boys and I are going to come up with a summer bucket list of fun stuff to do together!!! I am looking forward to a some of the ideas the boys have thrown out there. 

Thank you for reading and have a great summer!!! 

Early Morning Madness

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Four. Four kids. Four boys. Four mouths to feed. Four sets of laundry. Four completely different personalities. Four different schedules. Four pairs of shoes to find.

In the midst of learning what life with four is like, I went through what some might call initiation one unsuspecting day.

Everyone was up and getting ready for school. We were getting dressed, making beds, and eating our breakfast when I walked down the hallway in search of Benjamin.

Benjamin had gotten quiet. In a bustling household brimming with boys, silence is golden...for a whole thirty seconds, until you realize that silence is scaaaaary. A little worried, I quickened my pace, "Benjamin..." "Hey Mom!" he said to me, happy as all get out. There he was standing in the bathroom holding a poopy pull-up that he took off himself, had dunked into the toilet, and was whipping around like a cowboy working his lasso.

"NOOOOO!" I ran in, cleaned him up, then cleaned up the mess. Then, I made two lunches, checked two backpacks, helped find two pairs of shoes, and kissed Michael and William goodbye, and sent them off to school. Glad to have the toilet troubles behind us, I got Benjamin settled in with a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so that I could take a shower. I put Baby Boy in his little bouncy seat in the bathroom doorway so I could keep an eye on him. The moment I stepped into the shower Baby Boy simultaneously decided he was not havin' it and screamed the entire time I was rushing through my shower.

I got out, quickly dressed, and got Baby Boy settled in for breakfast. He is a big eater and he loves his baby food! I was about halfway through feeding him when suddenly he projectile vomited about 2 days worth of baby food all over him and myself. It's only 9:30 in the morning. Fan.Tastic.

Still, I cleaned up (again), cleaned up Baby Boy, and threw all the clothes and towels into the wash. I now had just enough time to get the diaper bag together and load up the two younger boys and head out for Baby Boy's appointment. We got there on time, and then Benjamin and I headed out to pick up some things from Wal-Mart during the appointment. We quickly picked out what we needed, and very carefully picked a self check out line that had only one woman in it. As the other lines around us filled up I realized I was behind the Slowest. Woman. On. The. Planet.

"Someone is messing with me!" I thought to myself while I looked around for tv cameras.  "Is this for real? Is she for real?!?" I thought this had to be a set up. First, she couldn't decide on which items to scan. Then, she couldn't decide on how to scan. Finally, she couldn't decide where to put the item. OH. MY. GOODNESS.

Needless to say I was a little late picking up Baby Boy from his appointment. My first time late to pick him up, by the way. #notmyfault #slothwoman

Finally, we began making our way home while I started day dreaming about nap time. Ah, nap time. I used to judge those parents that would rearrange their world and schedule for nap time. Shame on me! If only I had known how truly sacred nap time really was. Now I know! Nap time is to be treated with the utmost of reverence. You do not mess...with nap time.

Not all mornings look exactly like this, we seem to be professionals at creating a good variety of crazy and chaos. Some mornings are substantially stressful while others seem to be almost perfect. Chaotic or calm. Crazy or collected. Wacky or wonderful. I love it all.

It can be so hard at times to remember the blessings in the middle of the mess. But taking time to take a picture of the little dusty foot prints on the floor that I JUST cleaned (Seriously ya'll, we're talking 60 whole seconds of clean.), or cuddling when I feel I am too busy, or indulging in a special treat with the kids can be a small way to slow down and soak up the blessings.

Just in case you were wondering, while Benjamin was busy not napping, he was coloring on his legs with a neon green Sharpie.

Thank you for reading!!

Our First Placement Call

Monday, April 24, 2017

We turned in our application and started our training for foster care in November of 2016 and about four months later we had completed the training, the home study, and received our first placement call.

Our phone call came a little sooner than expected. Partially because we just assumed the final paperwork would take some time making it's rounds, and partially because we had decided to take in ages 2 and under. We really would love to be able to say yes to any child needing a home, but taking into consideration the safety of our biological children and their needs we knew ages 2 and under would be the best fit for our family.

So you can imagine my surprise when I unexpectedly received our first placement call four days after our final home study visit!! Benjamin and I were on our way to the zoo with a few of our friends when I noticed I had missed a call from an unknown number. Then I saw I had a message from another caseworker, "Hey Stefani, do you have a minute? Rachel needs to talk to you." Assuming the unknown number was my caseworker, Rachel, I immediately called her back.

I was sitting in the front passenger seat next to one of my girlfriends, and another one of my girlfriends was sitting behind me. "Hey you guys, I just missed a call from CYFD, I'm just gonna give them a quick call back."

"Maybe it's a call for a baby??!?" One girlfriend said excitedly to another.

"Hey Stefani! You'll never believe this but we received your home study yesterday and you were approved! Also, we have an 8 month old baby boy that needs a home if you guys are willing?"


Reading my surprise, my girlfriends realize that this. Is. Happening. Now! My breath hitches.

Shocked, I managed to squeak out, "Um, I'm gonna cry right now....just so you know."

She gave me a little bit of information on the baby, I told her I'd call my husband and then I'd call her back. I immediately called  Mike, "Hey Babe, I just got a call from Rachel...." I tell him about the baby and say, "They'd like to know if we want to take him in."

"Well, that is why we are doing this, tell them 'yes!"

So I did.

Our new baby wouldn't be arriving home until later in the day, so my girlfriends and I decided to try to carry on with our plans with the exception of making a quick stop for bottles, formula, diapers, wipes, clothes....etc. I am so glad that I was with great friends for this moment. Friends that knew my heart for these kids, friends who knew our desire to help, friends who had been there for us throughout the whole process, friends whose eyes were teary like mine, and friends that were SO EXCITED! It just made my day. The entire time we were at the zoo we kept saying, "Oh my goodness!" "I can't believe this is happening!" "You have a baby!" "I have a baby!" "Another boy!" "Oh my goodness!" "I can't believe this is happening!"

It was very surreal, being at the zoo, all of us trying to act and feel like it was a normal day all the while knowing it was not. Wonder and excitement had pretty much engulfed our day and conversations. I will never forget how blessed I was by the support my girlfriends offered, just by being as excited as I was! As we began to make our way back home I was in contact with my caseworker, they were going to be bringing the baby to our house very shortly after our arrival home. Suddenly wonder and excitement was replaced with nervousness and curiosity. "What will he be like?" "Will he be sad?" "Will he be upset?" "How much does an 8 month old eat?" "Can he crawl?"

It's amazing how quickly you forget about what it's like to take care of a baby when your kiddos grow up!!

I made it home, I got Benjamin settled in with a snack and a show, then paced. I paced a little, then cleaned a little, then paced a little, then cleaned a little...then I saw a white car pull up. You can read article after article on what to expect when expecting a foster care placement, but I will never forget the concoction of butterflies and feelings swirling around inside me. Everything we had done in the past four months as a couple revolved around this moment. All the paperwork, the home visits, the questions, the conversations, the training, and so much prayer had led up to this moment. I began giving thanks to God and praising him  for all of the people in our life that prayed along with us and for us throughout this entire process.

I stepped outside to meet Baby Boy and was greeted with a great big gummy grins and the most adorable dimples. "We are so glad you are here," I told him.

The Problem with Coffee, A Mother's Dilemma

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Heat kettle.

 Boil water. 

Grind beans. 

French press. 

A little creamer. 



The Baby wakes. Change and feed Baby. Take the 5 yr old to school. Come home. Heat coffee.

Doorbell rings. The dog got out. (Again? Isn't that why we got a fence?) Thank irritated neighbor for returning dog.

Dryer dings. Switch out the laundry. Fold quickly, so it doesn't wrinkle. Heat coffee.

Toddler has accident. Changed soiled clothes. Baby's hungry. Feed Baby while reading Spider-Man book to the Toddler. 

Baby goes down for a nap. Yay! Heat coffee. Take a sip.

Toddler " needs" Batman costume. And sippy cup, where is the sippy cup? And his Elephant. Holy Pull-ups Batman! The Toddler needs to pee! Off with the Cape! To the Bat bathroom!

Decide to write a blog post one day about making your coffee and drinking it too. Heat coffee.

Dryer dings. Already? Switch out laundry. Fold quickly. Ok, where is my coffee? In the microwave. Hmm.

Uh! Toddler screaming. Kiss the boo boo. Toy Story band aid.

Phone rings. Baby wakes! Curse who called. Pick up 5 yr old from school.

Get home. Make snacks. Heat coffee. Take a few sips. Chat with the boys. 

Time for soccer! Find shin guards. Where is that Toddler? Find Toddler putting new expensive mascara on...his cheeks!

Snacks. Water bottles. Shin guards. One, two, three boys. Let's go!

Wave goodbye to coffee.

Sound familiar to anyone? No? Am I the only one? 

Maybe, maybe the problem is not the coffee. Maybe the problem is me. Psalm 46:10 tells us, " Be still, and know that I am God." I have found that when I force myself out of bed a little earlier than the rest of our clan, and spend some quiet time with The Lord, the rest of OUR day goes smoother. You don't have to be a mom of young children to be busy. Everyone's crazy looks a little bit different. This just happens to be a small glimpse into my crazy. No matter what your crazy looks like, it will be a lot easier to manage with The Lord on your side. So take the time to ask Him to walk with you today. You'll be glad you did.

So. New plan.

Heat kettle. Boil water. Grind beans. French press. A little creamer. Drink slowly. And Be Still.

Enjoy your cuppa! ;)

When God Grabs Hold (Part 3)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Just in case you missed them, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The day Mike and I were going to the free informational meeting about foster care, I called my Grandmother Honey. I wanted to share with her what was going on, and hear any advice that she may have. Now, Honey did not know that later that day Mike and I were going to attend the meeting but when I did tell her that we were considering becoming certified as a foster family her immediate an only advice was, "You both have to be on board, in order for this to go well, you both have to be on board. Mike knows how you feel, I would let him take the next step from here. If it is in God's plan for this to happen, it'll happen when both of you are ready."

As much as I agreed with her advice, I could feel doubt creeping in..."What if he doesn't take the next step?" "What if I read this all wrong?" "How do I know this is where God is leading us?" I began to pray.

"God, let your will not my will be done."

When we arrived at CYFD office the parking lot was SPARSE. There was only one other couple there, and a woman from CYFD to answer questions. I could hear Honey's words ringing through my head. "Let him take the next step." The meeting didn't last very long, and I kept relatively quiet with the exception of a few questions. Mike asked a few questions and as the meeting began to come to a close I fully expected to leave there empty handed, and spend a couple of months (or years) having more conversations while waiting to see if Mike was going to be on board with this or not.

To my surprise, Mike gathered up the application papers, gave them a little tap on the table to straighten them and said, "Well, we'll fill out these forms, return them to you, and see you in November for the training."

With my eyes wide and my mouth on the floor, I could not believe my ears! What??  I mean I felt so confident that this day would come, I knew Mike's heart, I could hear it in the way he began to talk more frequently about children in need and how God was calling us to action, but somehow I was still taken by surprise. Silently praising God on the way to our car, I began to ask Mike, "Are you sure?? How sure are you?? I don't want you doing this for my sake! Are you sure?? I truly don't want to do this if you are not positive!"

Mike, patient with my barrage of doubtful questions, reassured me that he wouldn't have said what he said without meaning it.

Months went by, and we attended the required training. Then a few more months went by, and we began to go through the home study process. These months were hard for me, I was constantly battling Satan and his attacks on my faith. I struggled with doubt, worry, and fear. Through prayer and scripture and encouragement from friends, family, and fellow believers I would work to strengthen my faith in my God and His plan for our family. And God is so faithful, isn't He?? Just when I would be feeling my weakest, He'd provide comfort and reassurance.

I remember after a particularly well spoken sermon by our Pastor Keith, I wrote in my notes and later told Mike, "When I began to pride myself in patience, God gave me children. And when I began to pride myself in faith, God asked me to point my family towards foster care." You see, up until recently I was feeling truly comfortable with where we were in life. Our marriage just gets better and better with each passing day. We have three handsome and healthy sweet boys. Do we have problems? You bet! But our life was comfortable, and as the boys began to grow, we began to love the comfort.

I was afraid of sacrificing our comfort for uncertainty. "What if Mike and I began to argue more?" "What if our children have a hard time adjusting?" "What if we hate it?" Then I felt God interject, "I am asking you to step out of your comfort zone and into obedience." I think all too often it's tempting to stay right where we are, and then it hit me. Satan can use our comfort against us! He can allow us to enjoy our comfort so much, that we decide it's too risky to follow Jesus.

Kinda makes ya wonder, what would life look like if we gave everything over to God. If we said "Lord I trust you with everything, not just these things over here, but everything." God was asking me to trust him with my marriage, our beautiful family, and our comfortable life.

One Tuesday morning this past March I was with Benjamin, two close friends of mine, and their children. We were headed to the zoo, three mommas with their three boys! About an hour into the drive I missed a call from an unknown number and noticed a message from a caseworker that works at CYFD. "Hey Stefani, do you have a minute. Rachel needs to talk to you."

Assuming the unknown number was our caseworker, I returned the call.

"Hi, Rachel? This is Stefani."

"Hey Stefani!! You'll never believe this but we received your home study yesterday and you were approved, also we have a sweet 8 month old baby boy who needs a home."

When God Grabs Hold (Part 2)

Hello All! If you missed Part 1 of this story you can catch up here.

I like to read, I don't have time to read. But I do like it, and I love books. I especially like the way new books smell. Don't you love the way new books smell??  One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2017 was to read eight books. I realize to some people this is not much of a goal. But for's proving to be difficult. I chose eight because I wanted to read four fiction novels and four non fiction books.

It's April. I've read half of ONE book. đŸ˜”Pathetic. I know.

I say all this because I have a habit of starting books and never finishing them. Can I get an Amen?! AH! Terrible, I know! One book I had started MONTHS before I attended the Women's Retreat in April of 2016 was 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Great book!! I loved the book. 80% of the book I have underlined and hoped to commit to memory. But for some darn reason I could not for the life of me finish the last two chapters of that book. I started strategically placing the book in various locations of the house so I'd pick it up and finish it. On the bedside table, in the living room...two chapters was all I lacked!


I even took the book with me to the Women's Retreat just in case I had "time." Ha! What's funny is that after that last day. After our last session together on prayer, and after I had felt God's presence so heavily, I finished the book two days later.

Perfect as always, is God's timing.

Towards the end of her book 7, Jen Hatmaker describes a  moment when she is feeling particularly sad for her future adoptive Ethiopian children. She didn't know why, but she couldn't quit crying. After sharing her pain, a friend offered some advice, "God is prompting you to pray for your children for some reason. You don't know them yet, but he knows they are yours. Intercede for them this week; then write these dates down. Once you receive your referral, check their paperwork, and you might discover divine timing."

So Jen and her husband blindly and fiercely prayed for their future children that week. Three weeks later, the much anticipated refferal call came followed by the information on the children. Jen searched the information on their new children and came across a date, keeping in mind the week she was so burdened with sadness...

It was the same week her new 5yr old daughter had been brought to the orphanage.

Writing this now, a lump forms in my throat. God's timing. I now can go back to so many moments that led up to this moment, and see the connection, and see the work God was doing so quietly behind the scenes.

About the time I finished reading this book one of my younger sisters and I had begun talking about adoption and foster care.

After finishing 7 and reading part of the book over the phone to my sister Amanda, I told her, "I'm not sure foster care is for my family, but I am starting to feel like God may be pointing us to adoption." In tears we both began to put pieces together, discovering how God had been revealing a passion in both of us for children in need.

I've already shared with you that up until this point Mike and I had been comfortable with the idea that we were done having children. This now made me so nervous to tell Mike what I had felt God had put in my heart.

One day, we were all together in the van, and had just pulled up to a park to attend soccer practice for both Bode and William. We were there a little early, and since Mike and I were catching each other up on our days we stayed in the van chatting. Mike knew about the women's retreat, and he knew about the unknown calling God had placed in my heart, he was even praying with me and for me as we patiently waited for God to reveal the next step. But I was so nervous to tell him that I felt like God was maybe placing a burden in my heart for adoption. What would he say? What would he think? Will he trust that this is God's plan and not mine? But I could feel that little voice telling me to be brave and honest. So I did.

His response was so low key and perfect. "Well, we'll just have to pray about it and see where this goes."

Ya'll may not fully understand how much I love this man, he truly is my perfect gift from God. My heart overflows for Mike. If I'm being truly honest, there are times I struggle to make God my number one over my husband, my devotion to him is as such.

As time went on I began to fill my free time with podcasts, articles, blogs and books on the subject of adoption and foster care. My sister Amanda and I spent hours upon hours on the phone talking about it until we were blue in the face. With out warning, my desire to foster began to grow into a full fledged passion. It was all I could talk about, think about, and talk about...and think about.

Soon Mike and I's conversations began to revolve around God's heart for the orphaned.  I knew that this was a huge change for our family, but I also had a peace about it. I knew there was no need to push my husband to be on board, nor would it be beneficial. But I also knew that God would not put a desire that fierce into my heart and not bring Mike's heart on board. I trusted God and his timing.

Until Mike was on board, I decided God was prompting me to use my passion to tell others about the plight of the orphaned, and how there are so many ways to help, not all of them being adoption or foster care. So with the help of my amazing friends and church family, we hosted a Garage Sale for Orphans. It was a great success and we were not only able to share God's heart with others but use all the proceeds to benefit an orphanage in Haiti. My heart was soaring!

Then I asked my church if we could join others in celebrating Orphan Sunday in November, where believers all over the world would together celebrate the fact that our truly amazing Heavenly Father loved us first, and that he has asked us to share that love with others, especially the widows and the orphans. 

James 1:27 tells us, "Religion that is pure and faultless according to God our Father is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

It was a beautiful service, and a beautiful way to celebrate God's love and share with his people that he is calling us into action! I don't believe that we are all called to do the same thing, but I do strongly believe that we are all called to do something.  We are all called to use our gifts and talents to show others God's love.

Helen Keller said,

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

It was sometime just before Orphan Sunday that I bashfully, delicately, and hopefully asked my husband, "So, there is a free informational meeting about foster care at the CYFD office, do you think you'd want to go and see what it's about? Ask some questions?"

The Adventures of the Fichtel Five © // QUINN CREATIVEs