year 14

14 years ago today we were married.

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14 years and seven children later, we’re still here.

still finding one another in the midst of the chaos and the noise.

this has probably been our most difficult year.

we’ve been pulled and stretched in ways we never expected.

our faith has been challenged.

our hearts have grown faint.

our marriage has been tested.

our integrity has been questioned.

we’ve lost each other.

we’ve found each other.

we’ve laughed.

we’ve cried.

we’ve been great teammates.

we’ve managed things on our own.

we’ve yelled.

we’ve whispered.

we’ve been exhausted and overwhelmed.

we’ve been amazed and full of joy.

we still find each other when we reach out.

a hug in the kitchen.

a hand to hold in the van.

warms legs for my cold feet when we literally crawl into bed.

a smile across the room when one of the kids does something cute.

there are a lot of kids around so that happens often.

a tag team send off when one of us needs just a few minutes alone.

thinking back on that day, 14 years ago, we just had no idea.  we would not have predicted any of this.

7 children.

7 brown children.

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for better or worse.

for richer or poorer.

in sickness and in health.

with more children than we could have ever imagined.

 

a few weeks ago we were able to slip away to one of our favorite spots near pittsburgh.

our most recent us.  we still have fun.

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“better than the promises is the day we got to keep them.
i wish those two could see us now,
they never would believe how
there are different kinds of happy.”
different kinds of happy, sara groves

’cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
so there’s nothing left to fear
so i’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
till the shadows disappear

’cause He promised not to leave us
and His promises are true
so in the face of all this chaos, baby,
i can dance with you”
dancing in the minefields, andrew peterson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the middle

there’s a beginning-when they came.

there’s an ending with two options-

1. they stay

2. they leave

here in the in between time, it’s so hard.

i’ve been listening to this song, the middle, by bebo norman.

“i don’t wanna go home now
stuck here in the middle alone now
everybody’s singing their song now
but i’m not ready for this

i’m not trying to run away from
this beautiful life i’ve been given
i’m not looking for freedom
maybe just a little meaning here in the middle

alright, everybody says i’ll be alright
everybody says it’s a good fight
i’m not seeing it now”

we took the baby this morning to visit with relatives all weekend.  all weekend.

all morning, if i were alone with him for even two seconds, i’d start to cry.

he’s been here for 7 months.

he’s the first baby we’ve ever had.

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i feel like we may be losing him.

the crazy thing about that is, he was never ours to begin with.

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and do you know what else is crazy?

in so many ways, this is a job.

it’s my job to care for him and to keep him safe.

and i feel like that.  like i’m his caretaker.

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but to him, to him, i’m his mom.

i’m the one who is his everything.

and it breaks my heart.

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the Lord is allowing me to enjoy so many moments in this middle time.

i am so grateful.

now if only the constant aching of my heart would fade away.

13 years

today is our 13th wedding anniversary.  normally, we’d have made plans to escape for a night or two, but this year things are very different.  we currently have seven children.  c.r.a.z.y.

i turned on our wedding video this afternoon.  the three and a half year old who is living under our roof said, “i’m so happy.  i’m gonna get a josh when i get married, like you!”  be still my heart.

the prayers offered on our behalf, the day we got married, are full of things that have actually happened over the past 13 years.  i can’t believe where we are.  i never would have imagined any of this the day i stood with my man and pledged my life to him.

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“upon joshua and kirsten may Heaven’s richest benedictions abide, making you a blessing to all who shall know and love you.  may the blessings awarded the compassionate be yours in abundance.
may God tie your hearts together in the never ending bond of pure love.
if you should be blessed with children, may they bring you joy,
returning your love for them many times over.
may you be blessed with true friends to stand with you through the joys and sorrows of life.
may daily work never cause you undue anxiety nor the passion to acquire captivate your hearts.
may contentment and peace characterize your spirits
and may grace and mercy saturate your relationships.
may you live a long and happy life together serving others in humanity’s kingdom on earth
so that you may reap the reward of the faithful in God’s eternal Kingdom in Heaven.
may almighty God bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
blessed forevermore.  amen.”

“and now we pray for this couple.  we ask that Your blessing be poured out on them.
we pray that they would learn to work together.
we would ask that they would get everything in life that they desire,
but then we realize that most of the time it’s when we’re in need that we learn to hold together.
so i pray that they will have tests that purify, that they will experience those things that unite them,
and that Your hand of love and grace would always be upon them in whatever circumstances they face.
i ask that they would love one another for a lifetime.
i ask Lord that they’d laugh together and weep together.
that they would serve together.  that they would hold one another, encourage each other,
and be to each other what the other needs.  and in the moments when they cannot,
may the understanding hand of God reach into their hearts and help them.
now we pray Lord, that the union they have brought to this place would be forever blessed
by Your Spirit, Your presence.
that it would be the interjection of God in a world that really needs to see it.
and may others watch them live, live out this faith of theirs, no matter what comes their way.  amen.”

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13 years.
3 times of unemployment.
infertility.
sickness.
the adoption of three children.
the fostering of four more.
a 12 passenger van.
seven children.
i can’t believe it!

“better than the promises is the day we got to keep them.
i wish those two could see us now,
they never would believe how there are different kinds of happy.”
 different kinds of happy, sara groves

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“i do” are the two most famous last words
the beginning of the end
but to lose your life for another i’ve heard
is a good place to begin

’cause the only way to find your life
is to lay your own life down
and i believe it’s an easy price
for the life that we have found

and we’re dancing in the minefields
we’re sailing in the storm
this is harder than we dreamed
but i believe that’s what the promise is for

’cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
so there’s nothing left to fear
so i’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
till the shadows disappear

’cause He promised not to leave us
and His promises are true
so in the face of all this chaos, baby,
i can dance with you”
dancing in the minefields, andrew peterson

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saying good-bye to my mini-van

we’d been praying for a new van for months.  even before we knew we were bringing in three, possibly four more children, we were praying for a new van.  a new, big van.

every morning i’d say to the Lord, “we need a new van.  i know You know that.  i trust that You already know what van we’ll get, where it is, when it will come to us.  we are trusting You to provide because we believe that You will.”

He did bring us a new van last week so our last day with my van was last thursday.  i knew i’d be sad to let it go.  i tried not to think about it.  i have a hard time with permanent good-byes.  like when i moved out of my first apartment, even though it was to move into a duplex with my husband, i was so sad that i’d never get to live in that apartment again.  and when we left our duplex to move into our house, i was so sad that we’d never live there again.  or the in the final nights before our first three came home, i was so sad that josh and i would end our party of two to become a party of five.  and when we spent our last night as a party of five, oh i was a wreck.  if i thought about it too much, i’d just sob.

our time with my van was ending and i was so sad to say good-bye.

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we bought it in 2006, so our kiddos could come home. she was so pretty.  no rust!

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in the first seats they rode in the first time they were in the van.  i can’t find that actual picture, which is kind of bothering me.

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last time getting gas.  we only needed a bit to keep us moving around town.  was strange to not fill up.

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last time driving her.  josh was leading the way in his car and took this picture for me.  i turned on the radio and aaron shust’s my Savior my God came on.  it was one of my favorite songs when our kiddos first came home.  “i am not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned”

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i was really sad.  i had to compose myself before i got in the van.  i wasn’t crying out loud but i was sniffling.  i made this guy start crying too.

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and this guy thought it was silly.

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and so did this girl.

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just the two of us, just like 8 years ago.

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the reason we bought our mini-van.

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he’s still really sad.

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the party of five.

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this is it.  the last time i’ll see her.

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her plates are on the new van.

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i won’t miss her rust.

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especially this part, where there’s a literal hole. and where rain water gets in and sloshes around.  and everyone asks, “what’s that sound?  it sounds like there’s water in here.”

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good-bye aqua mpv.  thank you for carting us around for the past 8 years.

i’m sad i’ll never get to drive you again.

 

overwhelmed

this morning was hard.  the now 17 month old was up too early, shortly followed by his 5 year old brother.  and i could not stop thinking about all that is on our plate right now.  we need to move into a larger home, but we still have to finish up some projects in our current home.  and we need to sell it.  well, first we need to list it.  we need to secure loan money.  we need a bigger van.  in a month possibly.  we are going to a wedding in maine in june and there is talk about taking a vacation immediately following.  along with finding a new van?  and a bigger home?  and oh yeah, a baby is coming.  a. baby.  um, a baby.  to us.  to our home.  to our home where we hardly fit now.  a. baby.

the kids and i were on our way to one of their visits.  they wanted to listen to the frozen soundtrack.  i needed a bit of Jesus music.  i turned on the radio.  “i am, holding on to You.  i am, holding on to You. in the middle of the storm, i am holding on, i am.”  just what i needed to hear.  and then it got to this part. “love like this, oh my God to find! i am overwhelmed what a joy divine! love like this sets our hearts on fire! this is my Resurrection Song, this is my Hallelujah Come, this is why it’s to You i run.  there’s no space that His love can’t reach, there’s no place that we can’t find peace, there’s no end to Amazing Grace.”

“this is why it’s to YOU i run”

my voice started to fade, the tears started to fall.  all of the thinking, planning, wondering-He already knows.  i am amazed that i can have the faith it takes to bring in 3, likely 4, more children, but i can be quickly overwhelmed by everything else that needs to happen.  that will happen because God will make it happen.  and do i believe that?  i do, but sometimes i forget.

i turned my mind to run straight to Jesus.  to lay it all down, to give it all to Him.

i run to Him because there is nowhere else i could go to find love, peace, Amazing Grace.

 

 

i am-david crowder

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