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Tag Archive: A Peek Into Our Week

A Peek Into Last Week (+ 10 goals for this week)

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Welcome to my weekly update post where I share my weekly goals each week. These goals are based (somewhat) on my yearly goals for 2021, with some extras thrown in depending upon the week and what other short-term goals I have.

But first, a little peek into last week…

We’ve been working on decluttering the kitchen this past week. We had a sweet helper while we were working! 🙂

Caring for two babies means we have lots of different types of bottles and bottle paraphernalia! We went through everything and got rid of a few things and then put away a lot of the bottles/stuff to save for when we have another baby foster care placement.

We also went through all of the mugs/tumblers. How do we have so many of them??

Ah! The mug cupboard can breathe again. (By the way, if you need a laugh, this picture created quite a stir on Instagram. You can read all about it here.)

And this cupboard looks so much better, too!

This girl brings so much joy into our home. She just loves life and has the sweetest personality. I just can’t even describe what a gift she is to our home. It humbles and moves me almost every time I look at her to think what a completely unexpected miracle she is.

I also went through the pantry, too.

From My Heart…

“This was the worst garbage. I picked this up as an audiobook to listen to. Her voice is exceptionally annoying.”

This was one of many similar reviews of my second book. While there were lots of kind reviews, all I could hear was that I should not ever narrate an audiobook again because my nasally voice irritated people. I was embarrassed that I had ever considered doing it myself.

So guess what I did? I told my publishers that I didn’t want to narrate my third book and they hired a professional voice artist to record it.

Over the past 5+ years since my third book came out, God has done a lot of life-altering work in my heart. He’s helped me to stop living my life to please, appease, and perform for others. He’s taught me that I don’t need to chase after the approval or affirmation of others. That I don’t need 5-star reviews or glowing accolades to be enough.

I am enough in Him. He loves me for exactly who I am because of Whose I am. And I can stand confident in Christ and live as loved, because I am already pre-approved by Him.

And that’s why I stopped letting negative reviews stifle me in insecurity. Maybe my voice isn’t professional voice actor level, but I’m not going to let that hold me back from sharing the message God has laid on my heart through live video, Instagram story, and podcasts.

I want to improve and grow and work on honing my craft, but I’m not going to sit around and wait until I can please everyone to show up on video and podcasts. Because if I wait until I can please everyone, I’ll be waiting the rest of my life.

Last week, I had the privilege of recording the audiobook for my soon-to-be-released book, Love-Centered Parenting. As I spent hours behind this mic, I felt such quiet confidence, passion, and excitement for this message… and such gratitude that I no longer have to live in fear of what others will think. I am loved by my Heavenly Father and that is enough. Period.

And now onto the goals update…

Last Week’s Goals

Personal Goals

1. Log 8,000 steps/day = 56,000 steps for the week.

2. Finish 3 books: The Water KeeperThe Things We Cannot Say, and Made Like Martha.

3. Fill out my habit tracker every day.

Home/Family Goals

4. Read 10 pages of A Boy’s War as a family. Read 5 chapters of The Trumpet of the Swan to Kierstyn.

5. Whole House Clean Out spaces to go through/organize/declutter: Pantry, under kitchen sink area, drawers in kitchen.

Work/Blog Goals

6. Run the live coaching event for the 10 Days to Be a Happier Mom group.

7. Write a post on the books I’ve read so far in January.

8. Record 8 hours of the audiobook narration for my new book.

Fun Goals

9. Have a family game night.

10. Do a craft project.

This Week’s Goals

Personal Goals

1. Log 8,000 steps/day = 56,000 steps for the week.

2. Finish 3 books: Mama Bear Apologetics, Secrets of a Charmed Life, and Keep the Doors Open.

3. Fill out my habit tracker every day.

Home/Family Goals

4. Read 10 pages of A Boy’s War as a family. Read 5 chapters of The Trumpet of the Swan to Kierstyn.

5. Whole House Clean Out spaces to go through/organize/declutter: Storage room in basement.

Work/Blog Goals

6. Finish a Q&A article I was asked to do for a magazine feature.

7. Get download page set up for the appendix of the book.

8. Work on outline/details for Yell Less, Love More Challenge for February.

Fun Goals

9. At home date night with Jesse.

10. Do a craft project.

Did you accomplish any of your goals last week? Let us know in the comments so we can celebrate with you!

A Peek Into Last Week

If I had looked ahead a few years ago and seen my life right now I probably would have felt pretty overwhelmed by everything I would have seen on my plate: 3 older kids with lots of activities and who love to hang out and talk (which I LOVE!), launching a book, working full time, two babies — one with some extra medical needs, navigating foster care and lots of therapies and appointments, serving in the youth ministry at church, opening up our home for hospitality weekly…

Here’s the thing I’ve seen so clearly: God doesn’t give us grace to carry our future callings. Instead, He gives us grace for today. And that is enough.

My hands are probably the fullest they’ve ever been (both literally and figuratively!). But I can tell you that God has been so incredibly faithful.

Every single day, He shows up and shows Himself strong. He provides energy when I feel weary. He provides encouragement when I feel down. He provides practical help when I can’t figure out how to juggle all the pieces. He multiplies my time when my days are full.

Every day, every hour, I get to see Him working on my behalf. I cannot do this life in my own strength. I would be a frazzled, stressed, disorganized, overworked hot mess. But God… in His strength, I can do all things that He has called me to.

His grace has been abundantly sufficient these past six months. And I can trust and rest that it will continue to be in the future — whatever that holds!

I used the Eat at Home Menu Plan service for our recipes this past week. We’ve used this over the years during busy seasons and it can be a lifesaver… especially if the thought of planning a menu and writing a grocery list is overwhelming! Best of all, the recipes are simple, inexpensive, and almost everything can be purchased at ALDI!

Oh and it’s on sale this week for the lowest price of the year when you use coupon code EASY at checkout. That makes it as low as $1.13/week to have someone do all the leg work for you!

(That’s the best deal that they offer and the coupon code locks in the rate for the life of your subscription!!! See some sample menu plans here.)

Find out more here.

I made all of our dinners on live video this past week. See everything I cooked here.

I’ve been sharing lots of creative ways to save money on groceries on the blog and on Instagram this week. Lots of you have been messaging me and sharing what has been working for you, too!

You all are AMAZING!!! Thank you for donating to babies and toddlers in foster care in TN through the Amazon Baby Drive I did with Tennessee Alliance for Kids!

They sent me this picture of everything they had gotten in so far and my jaw just dropped!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! From the bottom of my heart!

There are a few more items left on the list, so if you haven’t gotten to contribute yet and you wanted to, here’s the Amazon wishlist.

Be still my heart. I just love these two more than words can express.

Someone asked this past week if I sometimes wished we just had one baby so we could give them more one-on-one attention and love. Honestly, while it is louder, requires more creativity, and I usually have at least one baby in my arms, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

We know beyond any shadow of a doubt that we were supposed to say yes to Champ. And even on the hard and exhausting days, we have zero regrets. He has brought so much joy to our home and our lives and we can’t imagine the last six months without his smile and coos and sweet personality in our home.

Seeing these two together just makes my heart want to burst!

Champ usually sits on Jesse’s lap while we record the podcast each week — and he loves to put on the headphones and talk into the microphone!

Silas had three baseball games this past week — and he got to be the starting pitcher for one of the games, which he was so excited about!!

Kaitlynn had some friends over to make a cell cake for a school project.

I shared this on Instagram and wanted to share it here, too:

Any time I share about our grocery budget and shopping trips, I get messages and comments from people explaining why they can’t save money on groceries and/or why what I’m doing would never work for them.

Some have even expressed pretty strong frustration over the fact that I’m shopping at Kroger and they don’t have a Kroger.

I’ve also heard things like, “I can’t do that because we eat all organic, we live out in the country, we don’t eat meat, we’re gluten-free, we have 5 teenage boys, we have little kids, I’m a single mom, we live in a different country, we only shop at Costco…” and on and on the messages and comments go.

I don’t think most of these people are in anyway trying to be critical, but I feel like it’s important for me to remind people that this is just me chronicling what I’m experimenting with and what’s working for our family. This is not me saying, “You should do this, too!” Or “This is the only way to shop!” Or, “Anyone who doesn’t shop like this is dumb!”

I totally believe what works for me won’t work for everyone, but my hope is that by sharing what is working for us, I’ll inspire *everyone* to think outside the box.

It’s often our tendency to make excuses as to why something won’t work, but excuses won’t get us anywhere.

Instead of saying, “That won’t work because of XYZ,” I gently challenge you to you ask yourself, “Is there something I *could* do or *could* try that might work well?”

If you want to lower your grocery bill or get out of debt or earn more income or change your life in any way, the best thing you can do is to stop making excuses and start looking for ways to take tiny baby steps in the direction you want to go! I’m cheering for you!

Hand lettering by @sweetpreciousletters

Live Shows This Past Week

In case you missed any of my daily live shows on Instagram, you can watch the replays from this past week at the links below:

A Peek Into This Past Week (+ Jesse’s 40th Birthday)

We had a very relaxing day on Monday (Labor Day). We slept in, took a 3 mile walk with the three youngest, and Jesse took me to a place that sells coconut water in real coconuts!

The weather has been so beautiful many days recently and we’ve been loving getting in lots of walks. The babies LOVE walks, too!

Silas had multiple baseball games this past week. He’s so happy to be back to baseball and Jesse is loving helping out as an assistant coach.

The babies and I spend lots of time on the sidelines cheering him on. (Though Kierstyn doesn’t look too thrilled about it in this photo! ;))

She is looking more and more grown up!! She’s so expressive and just loves life!

The kids’ school had their first football game and it was Kaitlynn’s first game to get to cheer at. She’s loving doing cheer this year!

The babies have started really interacting with toys, playing with toys, and holding onto/playing with stuffed animals. It’s so cute to watch!

Jesse turned 40 this past week. We celebrated with a double date with good friends at Ted’s Montana Grill (one of Jesse’s favorites). And then we spent the day of his birthday listening to the 9/11 radio real-time radio coverage (so sobering) and at an online foster care conference and watching Kaitlynn cheer at the football game.

I posted this on Instagram:

Jesse, I looked through hundreds of photos to pick the perfect one to capture who you are… and this is it: you carrying a baby in the car seat, a diaper bag on your back, and two stuffed bags in another hand — all with a smile on your face.

Last year on your birthday, we had just found out we were expecting. We knew the next year was going to be wild and unexpected and would include having a baby and me writing a book, but we had no idea it was also going to include a global pandemic, taking in a sibling group of 3 for a short time, Kathrynne getting stuck in Suriname, and the beautiful opportunity to love on and care for Champ (for almost half a year so far!).

I have gotten the amazing privilege of watching you behind-the-scenes through all these things.

No one else has seen the hours upon hours you’ve spent taking Champ to doctor’s appointments, or the long heart-to-heart conversations you’ve had with our older three, or the many rounds of catch you’ve played with Silas, or the way you have reached out and helped Champ’s mom, or the hours you’ve spent on the phone giving pro bono legal advice to friends, or the hours you’ve spent teaching Kathrynne to drive and driving her to work and countless social engagements, or the hours you’ve spent talking to, holding, reading, and singing to the babies, or the months of you waking up every single night to take care of Champ and/or Kierstyn, or the countless bottles you’ve made and diapers you’ve changed, or the shopping you’ve done with Kaitlynn, or the hours you’ve invested serving are church in the men’s discipleship program, the children’s ministry, the youth group, and running the coffee bar, or the many, many, many times you’ve ran errands or cleaned the house or made phone calls or taken both babies so I could work or write or sleep.

No one else has seen this, but I have — and God has. Your continual giving of yourself for us and others is a constant picture of Christ and how He laid down His life for those he loved.

There is no one else I’d rather be on this adventure of life with. I love you so much and would marry you all over again. Happy 40th birthday!

A Peek Into the Last Week

This little girl brings so much joy to our home. She’s really started talking the past two weeks and it is so fun to “talk” back and forth with her. (Want to see some videos of her talking? Go here.)

Silas had so much fun making this Marshmallow Launcher.

The finished project! (Psst! You can get a great deal on a woodworking kit for your kids here.)

The babies have started really loving being read to! Silas and I have a special singing and reading time together before bed. This past week, we decided to start reading a chapter book during this time, too!

These two sweet babies love to lay next to each other and they almost always hold hands when doing so. It’s just heartwarming to see!

It was our primary elections this past week. Since Kathrynne works for a political consulting group, she was super invested in this election and I loved watching her contagious enthusiasm for the privilege we all have to vote!

After many requests after I mentioned this nail trimmer on Instagram Stories, I finally got a short post written on why we like it so much.

I was honored to get to write the for Jami Amerine’s new book, Well, Girl: An Inside Out Journey to Wellness — and her book came out this week and she sent me a copy + this gorgeous painting that she painted!

Speaking of books, I’ve slowly been reading through this book. I’m really enjoying it!

A Peek Into the Past 2 Weeks

Welcome to a little peek into the past two weeks! We traveled to Johnson City, TN to meet up with two of my sisters and their families, loved having my mom come for a few days to stay with us and meet the babies, and Silas had an all day baseball tournament!

We got her pajamas to match the rest of us. Hers are still a little big, but they are adorable on her!

This sweet girl is becoming even more smiley and interactive!

Her big victory recently is that she’s finally starting to love baby-wearing!! I’ve always been a big fan of baby-wearing with my other three babies, but she just didn’t like it at all! I kept trying here and there hoping that would change — and this week it did!! Yay!!

She also started folding her hands together in front of her and even has slept a few 6-hour stretches recently!

When the babies are laying next to one another, Champ is often trying to hold Kierstyn’s hand. It’s so cute!

This is one of my favorite pictures of Silas and Champ together.

And this is one of my favorite pictures of Kierstyn.

We were planning to drive to Gatlinburg and Smokey Mountain National Park to meet up with two of my sisters and their families. When I mentioned that an hour before we were supposed to leave, a number of you said that it would be crazy busy since it was a holiday.

Y’all, I hadn’t even thought of that!! I’m so glad you warned us so that we didn’t end up spending our short trip in bumper to bumper traffic.

Instead, we changed our plans at the last minute and went to Johnson City, TN again and did the same waterfall hike we had done a few weeks ago (Sills Branch Falls). Maybe it wasn’t very original to do the same thing, but at least it wasn’t crowded and we avoided lots of traffic!

We loved getting to hang out with my sisters and their families… and it makes us SO excited for our annual Bull Shoals Lake extended family vacation in a few weeks!!

When we were in Johnson City, we stopped by Troyer’s — a fun market.

They have a huge selection of Trim Healthy Mama products.

I guess people come from miles away for the Trim Healthy Mama desserts — and they usually sell out by noon!

 

It was so fun to have my mom come visit!

She was here Monday through Wednesday and we spent the time talking, holding and feeding the babies, taking walks, and talking some more. It was so relaxing and special!

Guess what?!? We officially have another driver in our family!!! Kathrynne got her learner’s permit last week!

Also, I quickly decided that teaching our kids how to drive will be Jesse’s job.

It’s such a fun season right now — albeit full! We’re discussing high school and jobs and driving + nursing, diapers, and baby milestones! There’s rarely a dull moment around here! And I’m seeking to just embrace and savor every bit of it!

Silas had an all day baseball tournament on Saturday. 12 hours and 4 games later, his team won the championship!

We went to church for the first time in months this past Sunday and it was so nice. Kierstyn got to wear this cute dress and shoes that had been given to us, too!

Some Honest Thoughts on Foster Care

A few years back, I wanted to look into foster care or adoption, but Jesse didn’t feel a peace about it.

My personality is the type that I wanted to push and persuade, but I decide to pray instead. To pray for wisdom and clear direction — and that if foster care or adoption was supposed to be part of our story, that God would open up Jesse’s heart to the idea.

Looking back, I see how God needed to do a lot more work in my heart over these past few years. I’m glad His timing is better than my timing. He knew when the right time was — and that’s when He opened Jesse’s heart to the idea of pursuing getting licensed as foster parents.

I won’t pretend that the journey has been easy. In fact, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Not only the hours, days, weeks, and months required to get licensed, but then the journey after getting licensed…

The heartbreaking stories you hear and the many phone calls we’ve had to say no to because we knew our family wasn’t a fit (we made the decision from day one to only say yes when all of our family is in agreement and feels a peace about it).

The many unknowns that come along with saying “yes” — what will it mean? Will I have the emotional capacity to handle it? How long will this be for?

The zero control and say I have over so many things (did I mention I like to be the decision-maker?)

The uncertainty over the future and what it might hold (if you know me, you know how much I like to have a plan!)

But it’s also been one of the most beautiful, life-changing journeys our family has ever taken…

Our hearts have been broken for so many who are hurting and our eyes have been opened to the incredible needs there are in our own community.

We’ve replaced a lot of criticism with compassion as we’ve learned more firsthand what people are going through and struggling with.
..
And we’ve fallen madly in love with a sweet little boy and his mama as we’ve had the privilege to be a part of their story.

We don’t know what the future holds, but we look back on this past year and we see so much beauty, growth, and joy in our lives that has directly resulted from opening up our home in this way.

A Peek Into Our Lives the Last Three Weeks (lots of baby pictures!)

Welcome to my (usually) weekly post with photos and a little peek into our last week. I didn’t get a chance to post an update the past two weeks, so enjoy a three-week update post… with LOTS of photos!

How to get a shower when you have a baby 101 — roll the bassinet into the bathroom. 🙂

I walked out of our master bathroom recently to see these two boys cuddled up on our bed. Champ is such a gift and it is a true honor to love him as our own on his mama’s behalf right now.

Our First Overnight Trip as a Family of 7

We traveled to near Johnson City, TN to visit my sister, her husband, and three boys. We went on a waterfall hike together, played games, and sat around and talked for hours.

Little could we have ever dreamed what this past year would hold!

Back in August 2019, Jesse and I went on a waterfall hike with another couple. (See that picture from that hike here.)

I remember feeling so blah that day and just wishing we could stay home instead of go on that hike. I was tired and bloated and hormonal. And I assumed it was because my period was getting ready to start.

Little did we know that we were about to get the biggest surprise of our lives — I was actually hormonal and tired and bloated because I was pregnant!!

We would never have imagined that less than a year later, on the next waterfall hike we would go on, we’d be bringing TWO BABIES with us!!!

I share these pictures to encourage you — God isn’t finished with your story yet. And He’s still in the business of doing “abundantly above all we could ever ask or imagine.”

And He is good — on the blah days and the beautiful days. He sees you. He knows your needs. And He hasn’t forgotten you.

Some Thoughts on Parenting…

As our kids get older, it’s hard to know how to find the balance between letting them go and keeping them close.

On the one hand, our whole goal as parents is to work ourselves out of a job, to launch our kids into big world to go out and explore their passions, pursue their interests, and make a difference in their sphere of influence.

On the other hand, we want them to have a heart for home and family, for serving and sacrificing for those they love, and we hope that they have strong relationships with us and their siblings.

Here’s how we’re navigating this and seeking to maintain a balance:

We pray — We seek God’s wisdom for how to walk with our kids well. We seek to cry out to the Holy Spirit (who is in us) when we feel overwhelmed, confused, or just unsure of what to say or do.

We listen — Our kids need to know that their voice matters, that their feelings have value, and that we want to hear their thoughts on situations. We want to spend less time talking and more time listening.

We explain — We try to only say no to our older kids requests when we absolutely have to. And when we do say no, we try to always give a clear and legitimate explanation for why we are saying no and not just “because I said so”.

We do the best we can — We remind ourselves that we are never going to get it all right. We’re going to miss the mark and make mistakes. When that happens, we want to learn from our failure and be willing own up to where we fell short, acknowledge it to our kids, and ask forgiveness.

Kaitlynn Turned 13

She’s officially a teenager — something she’s been looking forward to for a long time!

Kaitlynn, you are one of the most creative and artistic souls I’ve ever met! You bring so much beauty into our home and lives.

Your sarcasm and quick wit keeps us laughing (often until we cry!). I don’t know where you come up with all your material, but the comic relief is a constant gift to our family!

Your determination inspires me. Challenges motivate you and I love how you aren’t afraid to attempt big projects, even if it’s not something you’ve ever done before.

You care about the little details — from learning how to handletter so you could take beautiful notes in class to thinking up the perfect gift for each person for their birthday and then wrapping it with flare, I love that details matter to you so much.

You love to research. This past year, you’ve spent hours learning about everything from the Curly Girl method to racism. You are constantly reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts, thinking, and then presenting us with your findings and conclusions. You are the instigator of so many fantastic conversations and discussions at our house.

You care deeply about people and are constantly looking for ways to bless others through gifts (your love language!) You will spend hours on a project for someone else… just because you want them to feel loved.

You are a deep thinker. I love that you read books on theology and politics for fun! I learn so much from our conversations and your perspective.

You have such a heart for little kids. I’ve watched you love on Kierstyn and Champ and your class of little kids at church and it has warmed my heart.

Most of all, I love your heart for Jesus. I love that you have such strong convictions and yet you are willing to ask the hard questions so that you know where you stand and aren’t just blindly following what we or others believe. I love our discussions about faith, truth, morality, and absolutes. I love that you aren’t afraid to stand alone — even if you’re the only one standing.

God has big things for your future, Kaitlynn! I’m excited to watch them unfold! I love you — and happy 13th birthday!

Kierstyn Turned 2 Months Old

Kierstyn turned two months old… and, as you can probably tell from these pictures, her personality is really starting to blossom.

She’s calm and quiet most of the time, but if she wants something or is bothered by something, she definitely knows how to use her voice!


She had her well visit this past week and now weighs 8 lbs. 6 oz. and is 22 inches long! She’s officially outgrown almost all her newborn clothes and is about ready to outgrow newborn diapers.

Her hair is starting to get little waves in it and so we’re guessing she’s likely going to have curly hair like the other two girls did.

She has really gotten the hang of how to put her hands in her mouth, so now it’s rare that she doesn’t have them in her mouth —unless she’s eating or we give her a pacifier. (She sometimes likes a pacifier, sometimes doesn’t. It just depends.)

She continues to be a great sleeper at night, but is still working on consistently falling (and staying!) into a deep sleep for naps during the day.

She loves movement — being gently bounced or swayed back and forth, riding in the car, or going on a walk in the stroller. We’re still working on getting her to like baby-wearing, but hopefully that will come in time!

An Update on Champ

Champ he has been growing and changing so much in the last month. He’s learning lots of new sounds he can make, he’s getting better at Tummy Time, he’s learning how to use his hands more, and he’s officially 6 oz. heavier than Kierstyn! He is the sweetest little guy and has the happiest, most content personality… except when he’s hungry. Then, get out of the way and go get him his bottle. 😉

And there’s so much more I could say about him and share about how he’s doing, but I want to protect his privacy and his story. (And I always feel weird sharing so much about Kierstyn and not that much about him, because he’s just as important to all of us. Just know that he is so, so loved and doing so well and we’re all incredibly proud of him!)

Saying Yes to Our Kids

One of our older kids asked to do something recently that would require a pretty big long term commitment. I immediately wanted to respond with, “No, you can’t do that!”

Y’all… “no” was my go to response as a parent for a long time.

Saying “no” is safer — I don’t have to worry about my child getting hurt or failing if I don’t let them try new things.

Saying “no” is more convenient — it means fewer sacrifices of my time and schedule. It means fewer messes and interruptions and uncomfortable interactions with people I don’t know (introvert here!)

Saying “no” might be safer and more convenient in the short-run, but you know what it can do in the long run? It can drive a wedge of resentment between me and my child. It can cause frustration and make my child feel like I don’t care about their needs, don’t trust them, and/or just want to stifle them from doing things.

The long term consequences of my knee jerk no’s just aren’t worth it when you think of it from that perspective.

There are some times when we will need to say no as a parent. But I want to be very careful and prayerful about those. I want to have a good reason for saying no and be able to clearly communicate it in a heart-to-heart conversation with my kids.

So, instead of instantly saying no recently, I said, “Let’s talk about this. Why do you want to do this?” I asked a lot of questions and tried to really listen to their heart. We talked about the pros and cons of what saying yes to this would mean. We discussed the potential struggles this commitment could produce. We talked about the sacrifices they’d have to make.

And after a really great discussion, I said, “Yes, you can do this.” And they were SO excited and have been talking about it with such anticipation ever since then.

I don’t know where this “yes” will lead. I know it’s going to mean a pretty big commitment for this child and invariably a lot of schedule flexibility for me. But I know that it has communicated to my child: “I care about you. I’m listening to you. I trust you to make good decisions. And you’re worth making sacrifices for.”