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3 Tough Questions Adopted Children Ask

Last week, we celebrated four years home with our son, Judson. Four years of joy, bonding, growth, but also pain and a lot of hard days. While we have overcome a great deal of our initial struggles, like language and boundaries, we have seen new ones develop.  These days we are watching Judson begin to sift through his history and we often have no idea where his processing will land! Some of his questions, we have easy answers for, but others, leave us with no easy response. In adopted kids, we often see that with developmental milestones and increased cognition, a new round of processing their history and integrating this deeper understanding into their current reality.  We have seen this to be true when Kindergarten started and anticipate harder and harder questions at the age of 10, 12, 16 and 18.  Our job as parents is to simply listen, answer truthfully and appropriately and create the environment where kids feel free to ask.

Here are a few tough questions adopted kids will ask:

Why did my birth Mom give me up? 

I wish there was an easy, pat answer for this, but there is no way to fully understand all the reasoning that goes into the decision a birth mom makes to choose adoption. This answer will be specific to your situation, but the main thing to remember is to frame it in a way that speaks life and freedom to your child.  No matter why a birth mom chose adoption, she chose to love and value her child’s life. As adoptive parents, we get to speak that same value into our child in a way that builds a foundation for future conversations. Obviously, answering this in an age appropriate manner is crucial. We have a phrase called, “the burden of information” which we often use in determining how much to share. Too often information carries a heavy burden and part of parenting and leading is learning to discern if the person is able to carry the load that certain information brings. This is crucial when dealing with the hard questions you adopted child will ask. Using a phrase like, “She loved you so much and she wanted you to have a family that would adore you and give you the kind of life she wasn’t able to give,” frames the conversation in love and honors your child’s birth mom.

Why don’t I look like you?

This question is tough, especially if the child has siblings who are the spitting image of their parents. Our son will never look like us but we use these type of questions to lay the foundation for a secure identity in who he was created to be. When he makes statements where he wishes his skin looked like ours, we are quick to say, how much we love his skin and how beautiful he is. We will also say that everyone is created uniquely and perfectly and we want to affirm that even though our appearances are different, they are not less than. As adoptive parents we are able to frame these questions in a way that help our kids find value in what makes them unique while also giving them a sense of security that comes from unconditional acceptance.  Creating a strong family identity also creates a strong bond for all your children, especially your adopted child. We have a name we use when we talk about our kids as a whole. He has no doubt he is a StewKid!

Are you going to kick me out of this family?

I was recently talking with another adoptive mom and she said that on her son’s five year gotcha day, he actually packed his bags and thought it was time for him to leave. For five years he had in his mind that this was a temporary situation that he would one day have to leave. My friend was absolutely wrecked that her beloved son had carried this false belief for five years. There is no adoption that is not the result of loss. There is no adopted child that on some level grieves for this unexplainable void, even if they were adopted from birth or age 12. Loss is a part of their story so feeling secure is not as simple as providing lots of love, a healthy meal and a warm bed.  Building a foundation of security and trust is a lifetime commitment we give to our adopted kids the minute we said  yes to this journey.  When you see your adopted child’s fear of losing your family coming to the surface, simply love and speak strong of your commitment to them. Give hugs. Throw in some candy and then go to your bathroom, lock the door and weep.

Parenting is messy and there are no easy answers to the questions that matter. We are four years in and the processing Judson is already doing to understand his history is mind boggling, yet beautifully innocent. At the age of six, he has no reason to question the sincerity of what we say and we have numerous opportunities to simply reflect back to him who God created him to be. Our prayer is that he is rooted in God’s amazing love and grace for him and he sees his past as a source of strength.

What kind of questions do you get as a parent?

 

The Crushing Blow of Stereotypes- 3 Ways to Destroy Ignorance

I’m sitting here battling with the Lord about writing this, but the shaking of my hands, the racing of my heart and the intense feeling that God is pressing upon me cause my fingers to move. I will call it for what it is…FEAR.

I am a Southern, White girl about to write about the injustices of Racism. What right do I have? What authority do I have to speak out against this? The FEAR of saying something WRONG, causes me to SAY NOTHING at all.

I am the wife of a Pastor.  Am I going to offend someone? Am I going to speak out of turn?

I don’t want to go out on this ledge because it carries the risk of vulnerability, of feeling small and of being told, you have no idea what you are talking about.

But GOD…He won’t let up, so I am stepping off the ledge and saying, BRING IT. I will not respond to FEAR by FLINCHING.  I will not RETREAT into those areas of safety and comfort. SO here goes.

This week we saw in a new way how stereotypes have the incredible power to build a foundation for false thinking. How false thinking plays out into small actions that feel justified and can ultimately lead to devastating and deadly actions. While the example of what happened may seem small it stirred something almost primitive in me.

Our oldest came home from school and shared some statements her English teacher had made while they were reading the book, The House on Mango Street. While I have never read the book, Parker shared that it is about a Latino girl and her life. Conversation around racism came up in Parker’s class, which is good and right. They talked about instances of racism and some of the underlying causes. As they are discussing the recent shootings in North and South Carolina, her teacher made a casual statement, “Well, it is the South.” As if the South as a whole bear the responsibility for the actions of  a few. She went on to say that “California is more advanced than the South.”

Y’all.

Bless her heart.

I can’t even.

For the Love.

Needless to say, it caused ALL THE FEELS in this Mississippi/Tennessee hybrid. You may think yes, get your southern sass out and tell her like it is. Defend your southern roots. Give her a piece of your mind with some sweet tea, too.

So, I sat down and over the last hour, crafted an email to this teacher detailing my thoughts on her stereotypical statements that perpetuate the cycle that an external circumstance of another individual determines their worth, that the actions of a few determine the beliefs of all and the weight of careless words often rest on the shoulders of others for a lifetime.  On this Martin Luther King, Jr weekend, I wish I could say she has no basis for her beliefs, but I can’t. Our history does not give us the foundation for a defense, but dear JESUS, may that same history that was made by the choices of a few, be what spurs us to examine the lies we have believed based on assumption and make them go toe to toe with the TRUTH of who God has declared each person to be. May every person, Southern or not, realize we all have some baggage to deal with and actually decide to raise the next generation with eyes that are not color blind but rather lovers of all the colors.

We are all image bearers. We are all Created by GOD, for GOD and we must fight to view every INDIVIDUAL we encounter with the same measure of GRACE we have been shown by our FATHER.

Our journey in California has not been some enlightened trip into the progressive land of love and acceptance. How’s that for breaking down a stereotype of love and liberalism we all have about this large West Coast state! Just like Tennessee is more than country music, riding a tractor back in the holler, drinking moonshine. There are some amazing, good and right things in people who live in every area, just like there is darkness that abides in our midst. This is not the result of where we live…it is a result of living in a fallen world. It is the result of living in a world that teaches for me to feel ok, you must feel less than.
Would you believe that our family has experienced more RACISM in CALIFORNIA than we ever did in the SOUTH? Do I blame the whole state of California for the ridiculousness of a few…no. Why? Because I have met some of the most godly people who would go to war for my family in a heartbeat. Individuals who feel, in their bones, the injustice done to our boy, who say not on my watch and respond with a fire in their belly. They are who I think of when I look around at this sunny land that still feels foreign to me at times. We are well-loved, well supported and our family is blessed to be around others who are fighting for unity, especially in the church and across churches. We are a part of a church that participates in regional efforts to promote healing and unity across all racial lines. It is beautiful and right and messy and hard. But, that is what is special about it…we still do it.
I felt compelled to share a portion of my long-winded, emotion filled email with you because it is the outpouring of my heart. This response is filled with sarcasm and over the top use of words because I wanted to display how WRONG stereotypes can be and how ingrained they are in each of us. Man has the Lord done a work on my heart in this area, and He still is. I am also going to add again, I love the people of California. It may seem a little haughty in nature and like I am going to be waving a Confederate flag soon, but this is my attempt to get the attention of a teacher who in my opinion, displayed how stereotypes, both good and bad, matter and have great influence.
And please read it in the most southern accent you can muster….
I thought I would share some things about our family to give you some insight into why I am responding to your statements so strongly.  
We are from the South.  I was born in Mississippi and my husband in Tennessee. Our parents and grandparents, who taught us to respect those in authority, work hard, have integrity, are all from the South. We were educated in the public schools of the south, attended both state and private universities in the south and actually have three Master’s degrees between us. My guess is we are more educated than many parents in your school. Three of our four children were born in Tennessee, thus making Parker from the South. This is evidenced by half the sweatshirts she wears to school with a big orange T for the University of Tennessee.  Parker is a young woman who is intelligent, compassionate, strong and kind. She is a leader, incredibly graceful and has the potential to be a world changer. She moved to California two years ago and experienced on numerous occasions the ADVANCED nature of California students. They have asked her if she eats with utensils because she is from the SOUTH. They have asked if she was born in a barn because she is from the SOUTH. The tone of these questions, while meant to be funny, indicate a level of ridiculous stereotypical thinking that is, in essence, attempting to make her feel inferior based on where she was born.  To declare that one region of the country is more “ADVANCED” than another is what allows students to think that they are superior to another based on an external circumstance which an individual has no control over…kind of like racism, which believes that a person is inferior based on the color of their skin. Most students know Parker is from Tennessee so your statements just added fuel to their false belief system. These statements did nothing but allow kids in your classroom to think they are better than kids from any other state but California!  That thought system lays a foundation that believes “you are less than because __________.”  Is that really an ADVANCED way of thinking? Is that truly what you believe?
I thought I would share another fact about our southern family. Our fourth child was born in Ethiopia. He is a beautiful African boy that we brought home to be in our very Caucasian, Southern family four years ago. Based on the stereotypical belief system you shared with your class, all southerners must be racist, so a family from Tennessee would never spend $30,000, travel to Africa and bring home a very traumatized, dark-skinned child and take him in as their own. Do you know when he first recognized his family looks different….when we moved to Rocklin, CALIFORNIA. Crazy thing about moving to California is we actually have experienced, on a gut wrenching level, more Racism than we ever did in the South. Three families actually left his preschool after we started because they felt like the “quality of the program had gone down since that family with the black boy started.” They actually believed that “he could have AIDS or something.”  So yes, California is really more “ADVANCED” since they make false assumptions based on the color of a four-year olds skin and the fact that he is from Africa. Not to mention their knowledge of how one actually becomes infected by  AIDS is remarkably ignorant. I was honestly shocked because I too had the false belief that something like this would never happen in CALIFORNIA because it is more ADVANCED.  Especially living two hours from San Francisco. The reality is these things happen everywhere…Rocklin, Nashville, Boise and New York City. 
I am extremely saddened to have to write this email and I know the verbage of it seems over the top…which is my point.  The stereotypes which lead us to believe that we are superior to another individual is what leads to racism, sexism, biases, extreme thinking and the justification of actions that are devastating and deadly. These ignorant beliefs are  not limited to a section of the country or the world, those with high education or those with very little. Sadly, Individuals all over the USA hold others in contempt based on their race. You have influence and the ability to spark conversation and thought that encourages these young minds to embrace their uniqueness, honor those who are different, learn from others with an opposite point of view, be inspired to speak out when they see injustice and choose to show grace and mercy when wronged. This is what breaks down a stereotype and allows us all to see a person for who they are and the gifts they have to offer the world around them. 
Thank you for listening. 
Here are  few ways I am FIGHTING for UNITY this year:
1. Change your Language: Do you stereotype mass groups of people, places or things? I personally don’t understand why anyone uses a PC anymore, but I still love and respect many Microsoft users.  In our family, the extreme words of ALWAYS and NEVER only are used in reference to our Creator, GOD. I doubt a PC user NEVER gets work done efficiently. Check your language….watch extreme uses of words that apply the thoughts of ONE to the shoulders of ALL.
2. Speak in Love: I’m hopeful that is what always motivates me. Hate does not change people. Shame doesn’t change people. Love and Grace, wrecks people to a point, where God changes their thoughts, their views and their actions to line up with HIMSELF. My prayer is that what is seen and heard is a love for all people, who bear the Image of my God.
3. Make One Change: For us, MLK is not just a day out of school. We will be joining the MLK walk in our city because I believe it matters. I believe it says, we are all in this fight for unity, and I am going to press through the awkwardness, the challenges and seek to bring people along with me. For you, it may be getting to know a family that looks different from your own. Invite them to dinner. Speak openly that you want to break down any tensions that may come up and again, one individual at time, destroy stereotypes.

Jesus, wreck us with the wrong way we look at people. Help us to be life speakers, unity builders and HOPE givers. Break our hearts for all people, all nations, all tongues. Only You Jesus…..

The Year of

2014 will be a year marked by change and transition. A year of uprooting and resettling. The enormity of navigating a huge move for our family took its toll on us all. We learned, oh how we learned, more and more about our call to follow Jesus, firmly embracing the Truth of His Word and grounding our hearts and minds in Him Alone.

I used To think the moments made up the Stew Family Adventures when, in actuality, the journey is the adventure. The adventure is the daily journey with Jesus. No matter where you walk it, a
life lived out for your Savior will always involve a bit of risk and sacrifice, but oh the Joy that comes from clinging to the sheer fact that He is enough.

I learned that in 2014.

He is my greatest adventure, the journey and destination all wrapped into One. I learned more about anchoring my identity to The Truth of who the Father has declared me to be…not the words of others, the behaviors of my children, the number on the scale, the Pinterest worthiness of my home. In my 41st year, I let go of some of those hindrances, those easy entanglements and learned that guarding your heart and mind isn’t just for single and searching 20 year olds. The guarding simply looks different. The narrowing never stops so the fences never end. They just shift.

I felt the stirring that our days are not guaranteed, they are but a mist and I really want mine to count for the Kingdom of God. End of story…or just the beginning.

Each year, I pray through what word the Lord wants me to embrace, work through and develop. This year, He clearly led me to one distinct area of my life that could use some pruning!

2015 will be the Year of GRACE.

We are nothing apart from it, we are His chosen vessels because of it and we have life Only through it. We receive it to give it selflessly.

I deeply long to be known by the GRACE that radically saved me. I am keenly aware of when I fall short and pray that each day GRACE becomes more of my natural response because I daily walk In the shadows of the GRACE I was freely given.

This verse speaks volumes to me…

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
(‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭16‬ ESV)

2015.

GRACE upon GRACE.

I would love to hear your word!!

Adoption: A Raw Look into the First Year

November is National Adoption Month.

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A month that helps raise awareness for children awaiting adoption in the foster care system. Our adoption journey began 4 years ago this month. Our journey to bring Judson home was fairly easy compared to most until the day it wasn’t.  After we brought him home the long days of waiting felt like a cake walk. I can say now that I needed the hard days because it was during those days that God began a much harder process of redeeming the broken that lingered in me. Toddler adoption became more than just helping our sweet boy adjust. His journey became the vehicle God would use to shift many areas of my heart and life that needed to be moved.  This was a letter I wrote myself one year in to help me process all that had happened. When I wrote it, I never knew if I would ever share it.  My prayer is that for anyone who is in the midst of struggle, this will bring hope. For anyone in the midst of waiting, that is will bring perpsective.  For anyone in the midst of contemplating adoption, that it will bring truth.  Please let me know what you think.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Kelly

I wanted to write a letter to the you of one year ago.

I wanted to let you know that you were absolutely clueless. You had no idea of the depth of what would be required of you. You had read the books, knew all the lingo, counseled parents for three years about adoption, but you truly had no frame of reference with which to speak so casually. Sweet Kelly, hold on to these few moments of ease, because that is not anything you will experience over this next year.

I want you to know that the first time you bathe Judson, you will want to throw up. To physically see the life that he has endured in the sunken, infected flesh will give you your first glimpse of what is before you. When you enter a room, he will cry. When you leave a room, he will cry, too. More quickly than you can imagine, you will see your life look like a prison and you have no idea how quickly you will be released, or worse yet, will you ever have any freedom.

And then, naïve Kelly, you will feel tremendous guilt and uncertainty over the depth of fear and uncertainty you feel as a result of this precious child.

You will learn to live in two worlds.

The world inside your home of biting, kicking, hitting, screaming, disobedience, exhaustion, chaos and trauma and the world outside that you will walk, desiring to paint a picture that life is not as hard as it is, that adoption is all roses and sunshine and that with just a little time and love, all will be ok.  You will quickly learn that toddler adoption is a whole different issue that few have knowledge or expertise in.  You will see God begin to strip you of every thought but of getting through the next hour and today.

And Kelly, I know you don’t understand what I am about to say, fully, but you will grieve. You will grieve the loss of childhood that this precious child did not have. You will also mourn the loss of time with your other three children and feel on a daily basis like you have let them down. You have been quickly impatient and tried to negate the feelings of loss they have because, you know, GOD called us to this and this is HIS journey for us. The pep talk and reminders you are giving them, is the mantra you need to be reminded of over and over. You will feel anger on their behalf at the aggression inflicted on them, your precious children, at the hand of, your other precious child. These dual feelings of guilt and anger and intense commitment will rage a war in your mind and heart that you will not know how to process.

You are a trained counselor, an adoption case worker, have two Masters degrees, have written articles about building strong families and you have no clue what to do.

You will also be moved to tears when you look at your three biological children and see the depth of love and commitment they have for each other. You will weep and look in awe as they LOVE and ACCEPT and FORGIVE. They will RISE, Kelly, not because of anything you have done, but only because of what JESUS is doing through them. They are simply amazing.

Kelly, you will be slow to share the true depth of your emotion or lack there of. After all, this really isn’t what people want to hear and you really would never want to discourage anyone from adoption. But when you do share, you will have zero tolerance for anything that resembles a quick response to the depth of pain, anger and resentment that you are trying so hard to process and redeem. So Kelly, you will withdraw, keep the circle small, be quiet, and pray this is just a phase that you can quickly pass through.

You will also realize that some journeys are not meant to be shared casually, but are uniquely designed to be walked with your Savior.

You have a man who will prove, yet again, that he is the absolute biggest blessing, outside of Jesus, that you will ever receive. He will love you through the hardest of days, challenge you to rise above your emotion and focus on Truth, listen to you, encourage you, pray for you and just simply help you.

You are not in this alone.

Kelly, lest you think that there was no good seen, let me set you straight. You will also get to experience, life, personality, joy, language and love being reborn. You will be stunned at how far he will come.

He will go to sleep without screaming and thrashing around.

He will go into his preschool class with no hesitation after a hug and a kiss.

He will love routine and structure.

He will begin to obey and respect boundaries.

He will gain weight, be healthy and grow from the 20% to the 60%.

He will use words like “delicious” and “adorable” that will show how adorably delicious he is to behold.

He will make you smile and laugh and you will share funny stories about him with your Mom.

He will LOVE you.

He will NEED you….and Kelly….you will begin to surrender to this journey.

You will realize the depth of your need for JESUS, every moment of every day, as a result of this child’s great need for you.

You will fight that with every ounce of your being, but slowly begin to release yourself of any expectation, perception of reality that you have ever had and simply love him.

You will embrace the techniques that help bring order to what had been a wildly chaotic world for him.  You will begin to feel a peace and calm that is not determined by your circumstances or how well your children behave, but from choosing to live according to TRUTH, believing the identity that Christ has given you.

You will be shocked that the very thing that has brought you to the pit of your life came as a result of the most beautiful, amazing, survivor, you have the privilege of calling your own.

Kelly, I know this sounds scary, and hard, and ugly, and you want to run away.

Let me tell you the two things that will get you through this next year….Jesus and your man. There will be times when you will literally drop to your knees and call out to Jesus, because you are at the end of yourself….that is a good thing.

You are not walking this alone. You are more aware of your Savior, His plan to prune away all areas of your life that are not of Him, and use your family to restore and redeem the life of one of His precious children. You are unable to walk this in your own strength for your flesh is so very weak.

But God, HE is strong and mighty and HE will not abandon you.

As I close this letter to you, let me remind you of a few things. Just because you are walking a hard road does not mean you are not right where the Lord wants you. It simply means that the Lord needs to narrow, refine and prune away that which does not bring Him glory. That is the definition of a Christ follower.

Next, is that you need to be real about the reality of adoption. The fact is you need to share about how hard it is and break down the walls between adoptive parents.  There is space that exists between honoring the journey of your precious boy and offering hope and support for those in the trenches with you.

Kelly, this year will be a ride, twisty, long, exhilarating, joyful, scary, high and low, but it is your ride.

Enjoy it, learn from it and hang on. And never forget….it’s going to be worth it…

Your boy is worth it all.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Blessings on your journey,

Kelly

Being a Yes Family

Our church has started a two year series called Being Jesus. Over the next two years, we will be embarking on a blended gospel study of the life of Jesus. To say I am excited would be an understatement. ( I invite you to follow along here.)

A couple of weeks ago, my parents came for a visit and it was just what we needed. Settling into life here has been easy in so many ways, but it is a transition. Finding the grocery store, learning the rhythms and norms of a new church, meeting people…..this all takes time and energy. So needless to say, we were all excited to see Nana and Poppy (and a few weeks later, LuLu and Uncle Matt) and get a taste of the familiar. The reality of living a long plane ride away hit me harder than I expected when they left. Experiencing the loss of family, in our everyday life, has been the absolute hardest aspect of moving.

I say all this to set the context for what the Lord has been teaching me through this season.

As our pastor was describing the type of people Mary and Joseph were, he made the point that Jesus grew up in a YES family. Their response to all the crazy, out of this world, scenarios that God threw at them was simply, YES.

YES, I am your servant.

YES, I will face looks of shame and scorn.

YES, I will walk through scandal.

YES, I will obey.

YES, we will go.

All these things, they willingly took on, as a result of their response of a simple YES.

Jesus grew up with earthly parents who modeled a YES life to whatever God led them to do. They were radically faithful. As a result, when Jesus was “lost” and they found him in the temple, his response was….”Where did you think I would be?” He responded with YES.

As I have let this stir in my mind and heart, it has sunk into my soul and has gripped me. The reality is that getting to a place of YES is a moment to moment surrender. It is about moving our NO to MAYBE and our MAYBE to a MORE THAN LIKELY to ultimately, a soft, surrendered YES.

There are moments when we are unable to say YES, because we are unable to tell ourselves NO. The habit of denying ourselves, telling ourselves NO, is often the real reason we are unable to say YES to those things that God is leading us to do.

I am in no way comparing our YES to move across the country to the radical YES of Mary and Joseph to raise the Savior of the world.  But, I am learning from their incredible example of YES and I am praying that by modeling a life of YES to Jesus, that Parker, Emery, Bradley and Judson will know no other response to God.

I think we have to practice a YES response to Jesus. I am fairly confident, that this was not the first time Mary and Joseph had said YES to God. Sometimes in my walk, I am quick to say YES to the BIG things I feel led to do by the Lord, like moving to Seattle for a year or to California, but taking time to get to know my neighbor is usually met with a NO, I don’t have time.  Or, getting up just 15 minutes earlier is met with the snooze button because of my lack of self denial.

So how do we become more of a YES people?

How do we become a YES family?

I would love to hear your comments on how you encourage YES in your life in response to JESUS. Let’s learn from each other!

Looking forward

I am super excited about this year and also super SCARED.

Excited because I am hopeful that we will welcome a new son into our home.

Scared because we will welcome a new son into our home.

Excited because we are seeing God move in us and showing us more and more of our role in serving Him.

Scared because we are seeing God move in us and showing us more and more of our role in serving Him.

Excited because I am seeing Parker grow in her knowledge and understanding of the Lord.

Scared because this year she hits double digits and I realize half of her time in our home is gone…are we doing enough?

Excited because Emery is growing more comfortable in her skin.

Scared because she can either be a Leader or she can be a follower….are we doing enough?

Excited because Bradley is learning by leaps and bounds….

Scared because I don’t know if he (or me) is ready for Kindergarten….are we doing enough?

So, I look forward to a year that will be marked by the hardest of days, as I think of my son, alone and hungry, and me on the other side of the world. I also look forward to a year with great joy as my son comes home, my daughter hits a milestone, my sweet middle child continues to be drawn to the ONE who will give her purpose, my precious boy becomes a big brother and my man and I continue to walk this journey together.

Thankfulness Day 30

On this last day of November, I am thankful for my man and my marriage. I simply am a blessed girl. There is no other way around it. He means the world to me and I am truly, madly, deeply in love with him. I can’t remember my life without him. He is without a doubt, this side of Jesus, the best gift I have been given.

One way he has blessed me the last few months is in letting me have the time I need to run. He may not get it, but he has seen the joy it brings me.  On Thanksgiving Day, we ran an 8k in Knoxville. He has not trained much, but we are so stinkin competitive, he took off and beat me by 2 minutes. Kind of humbling, but I have come to understand that part of it is our personalities. He is an all out competitor and I always want to save some for the last minute in case I need it!

Here we are after our 4.97 miles…how gross do we look? It was a warm Thanksgiving run. I always tell him, I am not used to running with the sun out!

Can I say again, how  much I love Knoxville. We ran down Neyland Drive, by the river, the Stadium and the cool waterfront. I loved it!

Thank you, Jason, for all the ways you love me.

Thankful…Day 21

Thankful for our family dinners. Parker started the tradition last year of having us tell what our “right” was for the day. This is basically what was the best thing about our day or what we are thankful for.  It is always interesting to hear what they have to say and really gives us insight into their little minds. We sometimes do our “wrong” for the day, as well.  I am thankful for the times around our table and can’t help notice that we have one seat empty.  Not for long, though!
I found this chicken recipe on this blog. It was really yummy and made enough for me to use in dishes this week.
Cafe Rio Chicken
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
1 1/2 cups italian dressing
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon chili powder
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro
Place chicken in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Pour dressing over top and sprinkle with chili powder and garlic. Cover and cook for 7-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Remove chicken from crock pot, shred with a couple of forks, then put back in crock pot. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes. Add lime juice and cilantro.
Serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas or taco salad.

Thankful…Day 7

Today I am thankful for time spent with friends and family. We had a great time with our friends and my family on Saturday night at a Fall Family Fun Night at our house. We had a bonfire, roasted hot dogs, made smores and had a few crafts for the kids. Jason also led us in a devotional around the fire, which was really cool (our first group family night!).  Then, today, we went to Crossville to meet up with Jason’s family for a picnic. It was a lot of fun being outside, hanging out and watching the kids LOVE being with their cousins! (more pictures to come!)

I am so thankful for time spent with those we love the most!

Thankful…Day 4

Today, I am thankful that God blessed our lives with Emery Kate.

She was not my plan, my idea, BUT she was in His plan all along….I can’t fathom life without her smile, her laughter, and even her moodiness!

She is the greatest surprise of my life….

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