Friday, June 26, 2015

eight is going to be great!!

We celebrated Natalie turning 8 this week!  EIGHT!!  She is halfway to 16!  Now that's just scary!  She is our hilarious, fun-loving, deeply caring, Christ-centered Natalie Jane! Couldn't possibly love her more!

On the day of her birthday, she chose to go to Red Robin and then we let her pick out half of her birthday present.  She chose a purse and some friendship bracelet threads.  She thought that was abnormally 'girly' of her which was what we thought too!

And then the parties: we had one with family the next night and a friends party the next day.  Family party pics:

And the Friend Partay:

The girls did their nails, put on makeup, dressed up for a photo booth, danced, had cake, jumped on the tramp in the rain and zoomed down the slip and slide in a complete downpour!  They cuddled up together for a movie and popcorn, and were all extremely silly!  What a great group of girls!  And in Natalie's shining moment, she sang and danced wildly to the song 'Brave' in her horrendous get-up!  She was crazy and unashamed and hilarious and I was so proud!  She chased a friend to dance with her and got the others to dance!  She's not the leader type but neither is she a follower.  And that's exactly what I'd wish for her!  She's Brave!

We were all partied out after that but we'll celebrate the gift of Natalie every single day!!  We love her so much!  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Love Came Down

Eleven years ago, I started working at a factory.  It was a bit of an eye-opener for this sheltered high school graduate.  Many people would slack on the job, texting and making phone calls, outright dishonesty until they would see the boss man walking our way and then they'd quickly get back to work.  Or if they weren't the type to only work when someone was watching, they were running their mouths even faster than the speed of their hands, usually gossiping about co-workers.  I learned who was sleeping with who and I even saw a married woman kiss a man that wasn't her husband at shift change every single morning.  I worked with her husband here and there and learned that he was actually open to that kind of lifestyle.  I had date requests even when the guys knew that I was dating and then engaged.  But I made friends there, people I grew to care deeply for.

And there was a lady that I especially loved to talk with.  We just always hit it off.  She could be completely honest with me and she shared a lot of what she was going through with me.  But always with a hint of humor at herself.  The humor was to cover up how completely broken she was.  And with this lady, we often times talked about religion.  She would admit that she believed in God but the thought of there being a Jesus, and a need for his gruesome death, and the reality that you can't get to Heaven on your own was not something she could believe easily.  But still, we talked about it all the time.  And I knew that she so desperately needed a Savior.  She was one of the first people that I really remember witnessing to, more than just mentioning that 'yes, I'm a believer and you should be one too', but instead really trying to get her to see how we need Him, the repercussions of our sin, and the hope of eternal life.  I think what was encouraging was that she asked questions, she seemed interested, and she respected my faith.  I guess it only got easier because she was open.  And I was hopeful that this searching she was doing (even though she didn't see it in herself that she was searching!) would amount to her giving her life to Jesus.  I continued to work at this factory for 4 years.  Same people, same conversations, but a constant spiral downhill for them, some faster than others.  It seems like the people that resisted it at first would resist it more as time went on.  But for this one particular lady, even though her struggles spiraled out of control, she was still open to talking about the gospel in the fewer and farther between times that we got to work together.  I was so hopeful.

The day before I had our first baby was my last day at the job.  And I have always regretted not having had as many deep conversations with all of the others that I came in contact with.  If they weren't open to it, I let them off the hook!

I went years without seeing this conflicted woman that I had had so many conversations with.  By the end of my four years at this job, we hardly ever worked in the same area.  But I was told by others that she was out of control.

And then one day, at least 5 years later after I had quit and never returned, she called for a massage!  I was so excited to catch up with her again and we picked up right where we left off.  In fact, she had moved into our neighborhood!  I asked her how she was and she sounded better.  Her husband had stuck by her side all of these years but she was still struggling with depression.  I asked her about her faith and she shared that she's been going to church.  I'm pretty sure she was rolling her eyes when I asked and I think she was hoping for her 'church goer' label to pacify me.  But I knew there hadn't been a commitment to Christ.  Over the last couple of years now, she has come for a massage here and there and it's that same story: 'I go to church now'.

AND THEN!  Last night she came for a massage and when she walked through the door it was obvious that something was different.  She was excited to share with me that her 9 year old daughter had been baptized!!  She was thrilled and she showed me the pictures.  I was so excited!  And then once she was lying on my table and the lights were dimmed, she said she had some other great news: she had accepted Jesus too!!!!!  She was so excited and joyful!  She had never been able to talk about Jesus without sarcasm but that was now replaced with JOY!  She told me that she had decided to give up alcohol and the next night she had a dream.  She was going into church but everything in her was against going.  She sat alone and darkness surrounded her.  She ignored it.  She felt demons and the devil around her, still she refused to acknowledge it.  Suddenly she was on the top of the church and satan was pulling at her leg.  She looked up and saw Jesus coming down to her in a bright light.  Uncomfortable, she looked away.  But when she looked again, He was still coming!  So she raised her hand and in that dream, she accepted Jesus into her heart!  He provided a ladder for her to get down and she was saved.  She woke up a new person!!  Since then she has been at peace.  She also prayed for the Holy Spirit to come into her and she released sobs as He filled her!  I keep thinking about the song with the phrase, 'Love came down and rescued me, Love came down and set me free, now I am Yours, I am forever Yours.'  This is her testimony!!

She has had an influential woman in her life that has helped her along the way and now she is anxious to start studying and learning how to pray.  She said that she knows that Christ chose her even when she looked away from him in her dream. He still kept coming for her.  She said that she thinks she had to have that dream or she never would have believed.

Isn't that beautiful?!  I shared with her that I have continued to pray for her all of these years!  And she is a changed woman!!

God is so good!  It's a reminder to me that I was lost and I am lost when I'm not keeping my eyes on Jesus.  And that while we turn from him, reject Him or even despise Him, He is still reaching out to us!  No matter how wretched, unholy, mean, disobedient, _______ I am, He will never be out of reach.  I was so blessed to hear my friend's story and to immediately recognize how it has changed her!  We hugged as she left as sisters in Christ!  And she brought it up that she's part of the family now!  I can't wait to see how God will use her now!  And how her story will bless others!  Praise the Lord!!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

emmy ellamae

I've heard that it happens and now it has!  I looked over the blog to see that last time I had written just about Emmy.  And it was when she had turned two.  Now she is two and a half!  Granted, I haven't specifically written on the other kids either but I know I posted about them more often than this.  So Emmy, if and when you read this (and realize this!), I am sorry!  You demand my attention a lot these days and so do your siblings!  It is so hard to make time to blog right now.  But it's very important to me.  So this post is to catch us up on who our little Emmy Ellamae is at this age....

Emmy has attitude right now, of course.  It's good and bad.  There are times when she is such a sweetie, rubbing someone's back and asking if they're ok.  Or being a sweet little mommy.  She'll hold my head and pull it to her sweet little lips and kiss me and cuddle me like I'm the child!  Oh I love that!  And then out of nowhere comes the bad attitude.  Throwing herself onto the floor, arching her back, contorting her face into a look of anger.  But as terrible as those times are, she can actually be talked out of it.  She's had time outs which work well and a few spankings of course, which actually isn't as necessary as it used to be.

She just went through a phase of only wanting to be loving with Jordan on HER terms.  Which for a while, wasn't very often.  She would hold her hand out to him and say, 'Don't look at me'.  Finally, we started to discipline her when she'd do this (instead of just telling her, 'no') and that's what broke her!

She loves our babysitter, Molly!  After we got home from Florida and saw Molly again, we were outside and looking into the sunset and as Molly walked toward us, she scrunched up her little mouth and nose and said, 'Is that Molly?'  For some reason, Molly and I got such a kick out of this!

She's so beautiful and sweet and 'picy' (spicy, as she says) and noisy and squeezable and kissable and wild and carefree!  She scrunches up her face when she talks, I think it's her way of being expressive and mimicking our expressions.  It's so cute: the little dents her eyebrows make when she uses them, her sweet mouth that jabbers away, and she uses her hands and little fingers in communicating.  She's so cute, I can hardly stand it!

Emmy sings (mostly 'Let It Go' from Frozen and very well), she dances, she's always on the move, she loves to jump on the tramp, she plays with babies, she acts like she's a kitty or puppy, and she's a big talker!

In February, we potty trained!!  By this point she had been pooping on the toilet for at least 6 months.  Potty training really didn't take much time for her.  We had been using cloth diapers occasionally for a few months and I think that made the transition easier for both of us.

In March, she was moved out of Charlie's bedroom where she slept in a crib, to a new 'big girl bed' that was moved into Natalie and Ruby's bedroom.  We never had any issues with her in the big girl bed.  She stayed put during the night (for the most part) and at naptimes.  Lately she's been getting up a few times during the night each week but I think it's due to allergies.

She isn't my baby anymore :(  She's getting closer to three and further away from two.  And it saddens me that the time just flies around here but at the same time, I had forgotten how much I love this age!  She's still cuddly and squishy and needy but she is starting to really understand how things work, what we're saying, she's able to express herself, she's able to play with her siblings more (when they're patient enough).  It is just a fun, challenging, rewarding, stressful, sweet stage!

Monday, June 8, 2015

spring 2015

mrs bos over
memorial day
bought a boat
last days of school for kids and me

The school year has wrapped up!  Another year that has just flown by!!  Before the end of school, we had wanted to have Ruby's teacher, Mrs. Bos, over for dinner.  We just love this lady and her husband is gone frequently and we wanted to have time outside of the classroom with her.  All of the kids were so excited to have her over: she continues to be Natalie's favorite teacher ever, she dotes on Charlie every time she sees him, and she takes Emmy out of my arms each time I've got her to hug and kiss her!  So she came for dinner one night.  We had a lot of great conversation and a lot of laughs.  Aunt Katie stopped in to drop off a 'gift' for me and while saying hi to Mrs. Bos, the kids started opening my gift.  It was a bunch of pads and tampons that Katie was passing on to me since she had had a hysterectomy.  The kids started asking what all of these things were and if they could eat the tampons!  They opened some pantyliners and got silly with them, trying to figure out what they're used for!  All with Mrs. Bos there :)  So hilarious!  Couldn't have planned for this kind of entertainment!
We were so happy to be getting into spring and out of the long, cold winter!  The first chance they could, the kids had a picnic.  We had one gorgeous day in March where Charlie and Emmy could actually go outside without their shirts on!  Only in Michigan!!

 We celebrated Easter first with Grandma VZ and the Emmert family and then with the Jones side.  We made sugar cookies and had fun decorating them.  The kids are so creative!

We get so excited to start enjoying breakfasts and date nights on the deck!  And to be riding bikes again!

Charlie and Ruby got some new bikes this year!
Fun on a field trip with Ruby to the Zoo.

Jordan bought a boat for us :)

The Bayshore Marathon:  Jordan completed his 2nd marathon over Memorial Day weekend!  He only had a couple months of notice and only trained by doing long runs.  We drove up north on the night before, dropped the kids off at Jess and Jeremy and went on to Traverse City.  We didn't think there'd be much vacancy and even if there was, we didn't want to foot that cost on top of the marathon costs.  So we parked in the parking lot of a hotel that was being reconstructed, right next to a semi-trailer and a port-a-potty (which I never use!).  We got milk and went to the bathroom at a CVS before bedtime and Jordan got a half gallon on milk, we put down the van seats and blew up our air mattress, and bundled up with the two light-weight blankets that were luckily in the car since I'd forgotten blankets.  It got too cold for comfort so we ran the van for a couple of hours during the night.  The next morning, we made our short walk (another benefit to where we had parked) to the start of the racetrack.  And Jordan was off!  I stopped a few places to watch him but with how busy is was, I had to park far away and scale the hills to get to the runner's road.  So I got my exercise in for the day, too!  Just not a marathon!!  This was a tough race for Jordan but HE DID IT again!  I was getting a little nervous when I was waiting to see him at the finish line and I prayed for someone to come alongside him.  Shortly after that, I spotted him running with a lady who he said came up by him and said they would finish this together!  I was grateful to hear that!  (And in the picture, she kind of looks like me and it's kind of tempting to just pretend that I did this too!)  I think the best part of Jordan's day was the Moomer's Cookies and Cream ice cream that he couldn't stop raving about.  We walked back to the van and he napped.  Then we drove to Lake Glenn and up to Sleeping Bear Dunes on M22.  Absolutely gorgeousness!!  And a great little road trip for us!  Then back to the Bruninks where we had to pry the kids away.  A great weekend!


And suddenly it was the last day of school!  Very bittersweet!  I was anxious to have the girls home again but it was another school year that disappeared before our eyes.  Such a great year: great teachers, great friendships, great learning...!  It was so great that when the bus dropped the girls off, Natalie ran up to the house just sobbing!!  I couldn't even get it out of her what was wrong.  Ruby shared with me that it was Molly's last day on the bus with Natalie since she's moving to Jr. High.  Ruby showed me a sweet note and photobook from Mrs. Bos and then her and I joined with Natalie in crying.  There the three of us were melted on the couch together!  Oh boy!

And some random pics:

Charlie has no problem going shirtless when it's warm enough.
 Some Sunday mornings we just need a hot iron to tidy up Charlie's bedhead!
 Another new toy: a trampoline!!!
 Our new dinner destination for the season!
 Hello... allergies :(
 Guitar lessons with Grandpa and 'I'll Fly Away' duets!
So many simple but special everyday memories and our trip to Florida made this a wonderful spring!