Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

I have never been a huge fan of Valentines.  It seems to be a “Hallmark Holiday” and just a reason for people to feel like they can’t keep up… especially with children.  The kids (well the boys) had to take valentines to school and this morning Ethan asked me why I didn’t get something for his teacher.  Umm.  I know that teachers like stuff from their students, but I have always been a parent and see both sides.  I know their teachers will be okay.

Anyway.

I decided last night (at the last minute) that I wanted to do something special for the kids.  I had already bought some amazing cookies from my talented friend, but I wanted them to wake up to something different today.

I decided to set each a place setting with a plate, cloth napkin, a mug, hot chocolate in the mug, their cookies, and then I also made muffins and sweetened cream cheese.  I used the confetti from the box with the cookies to throw around on the table.  The kids woke up quickly when I said, “Come see the surprise!” They were pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed their morning!  Again, this was all throw together at the last minute.  Nothing difficult.  Not Pinterest worthy.

Today at noon I hosted Bible study at my house.  I made a pot of amazing coffee (Ruta Maya) and got the water for tea ready.  Unfortunately, only one person came.  So we just talked and prayed which was really nice.  We have decided that in the future if only one other person comes we will go ahead and do the study.

My hubby had to go somewhere today and came home with a sweet Valentine’s gift.  🙂  Well, that’s on top of the blue tooth speakers that he had ordered me (that are coming in today!).

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bluetooth speakers

I have an amazing life.  Yes, I struggle with bipolar 2 and severe anxiety, along with insomnia… but I have so much.  A wonderful husband, beautiful children, amazing friends, this camp to live at and do ministry at, a beautiful view and a home that I love, a relationship with my Creator, and the ability to take good care of myself most days.  We also have all of our needs met, even if the budget is tight.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

On this Thanksgiving…

I have pulled out my computer and sat there staring at the screen (or getting distracted by Facebook) so many times in the past month or so.  We have so much going on and I have so much that I could share, but the words just aren’t coming when I sit down to write.  I’m not sure why.  I do know that I have spent MUCH less time on my computer lately and that’s a good thing.  I used to sit on my computer all day, every day.  Now I don’t have time for that, nor do I want to.  Part of the reason why I don’t write as much (or sit at my computer as much) is that I used to drink and drink and drink and all I could do while doing that is sit.  Also I have been so busy.  Mostly in a good way!

The moment that I decided to put Karis back into school, my anxiety went away and my depression lifted.  We didn’t even take much time to pray through it once I thought of it because 1) I knew that Robert wanted our kids to be in school, 2) I realized that my mental health went back down hill when I pulled Karis out, 3) Karis went backwards in many ways being home and I knew it would be best to teach her how to persevere even when things are hard (and she needed to be around kids her age).

Since we’ve made that decision, lots of things have hit us… broken arm, asthma attack that landed Ethan in the ER, lots of doctor appointments, bloodwork, lots of medicine, Ethan got strep (and ended up missing 4 days of school), counseling appointment for Karis… And I have been in either Rocksprings or Kerrville pretty much every single day (with a day off here or there).  I have also tried to go to AA twice a week but it hasn’t happened as much as I would like (I definitely go once at least).

But do you know what hasn’t changed through all of this craziness?  My joy.  I may be tired.  I may be somewhat stressed.  Karis has cried a lot (as we’ve been walking her through things).  Levi has been in trouble a lot at school this year (and we’re working with his teacher and doctor to figure out how to handle this).  But I haven’t regretted anything.  I haven’t felt guilty.  I haven’t tried to make something happen that wasn’t supposed to happen (which is how I ended up homeschooling off and on so much over the years).  I haven’t made things to be my fault when they weren’t (like putting Karis in school or Levi getting in trouble).  I’m just truly living each day.  One day at a time.  To its fullest.  I’m more comfortable in my skin.  I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with my kids.  Karis and Ethan are doing choir.  The house stays mostly clean (except this week because the kids are home, and that’s okay!).  Robert and I work together.  I focus a LOT on self care because that is what keeps me going. Life is just good.  But I don’t take it for granted.  With my history and my mental illnesses (and being an alcoholic), I truly have to take it one second, one minute, one hour, and one day at a time.  And I’m finally in a place in which I can do that.

So on this beautiful Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for.

It has been literally years since I felt this kind of peace and joy for more than a few days, and especially through stress and difficulty.

My family and friends are amazing, I’m learning to love myself as God has made me to be (and I’m realizing what my true calling is), Jesus loves me and I love Him, we love Camp Eagle and are so blessed to be a part of this family, we have all of our needs met (even when we don’t know how things will work out, they always do), I’m thankful for AA and what it has done in my life (and continues to), I’m so thankful for the Healthy Habits Happy Moms community (and Balance 365 program) that has helped me see myself in a completely different light, and I’m thankful for all the little things that bring me joy each day… music, flowers, coffee, Christmas lights, candles, a hike, spending time with my friends and family, playing games, cleaning, coloring, drawing… the list could go on and on.  I am who I am today because of who God is, my family and friends, and through the difficult of the past several years.

Easter Weekend!

Friday was a fun day home with my kiddos.  It started out rough with a major fight over the Wii, but once I grounded them from electronics it got better.  We colored and decorated eggs and did some crafts.  The kids also played outside all afternoon with their friends.

Robert was supposed to be home but he ended up having to work.  Oh well.

Yesterday was a great day at my parents’ for Easter.  The kids had 135 eggs to hunt and they found all but a few (whoops).  We had a fantastic lunch of ham, beans, and homemade potato salad.

We ended up deciding to come home yesterday instead of today.  I got their Easter baskets set up last night.  We kept it cheap and simple this year.  A few cookies that a friend of mine made, glow sticks, Reese’s bunny, bubble gum eggs, and a fun cup that matched their personality.  They were happy with what they got :-).

This morning we watched part of the worship service on Watermark’s website, and we praised through YouTube videos.  We didn’t go to church for various reasons, but mostly because my anxiety can’t handle it right now.

We had a great lunch of grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, salad, and the kids’ favorite Hawaiian rolls.

We read The Flowering Cross and made our cross cake.  This is our yearly tradition.  They’re getting a little big for it, but I will keep doing it as long as they let me.  They didn’t want to do Resurrection Eggs :-(.

We also cleaned the house and got ready for the week.  In a few hours we are celebrating with our camp family!  Lots of celebration!

Year in Review… What Led Me to La Hacienda… Upcoming Year

This year has been one of big changes.

It started out with me homeschooling just Karis.  We both LOVED this.  Karis grew so much.

Then I brought the boys home in March.

I had major anxiety issues when I brought them home.  Struggling through Hyperventilation Syndrome again.  This basically means that I was hyperventilating 24/7 (well, not when I was sleeping).  It was so difficult.

My doctor ended up putting me back on Lexapro and with-in a week, it was gone!!  I haven’t struggled with it since.

Even though I planned to continue homeschooling through the summer, I ended up stopping for a month because Ethan was struggling so much.  I thought that a break was just what he needed!

I went back on a diet (it’s what I do during the summer apparently).  I did that diet for 3 months this time!!  Whew.  It was very rough.

We went to Glorieta, NM for Family Camp.  It was fantastic, but I struggled with anxiety while we were there.  We ended up leaving a day early because I just needed to be home because of that anxiety.

We picked back up on homeschooling immediately when we got back.  I thought it was going pretty well!  But what I didn’t know is that I was drinking to cope with being with my kids all day every day, homeschooling, and anxiety surrounding it all.

I drank a lot no matter what.  I had a compulsion to drink.  Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  I got sick from it multiple times a week.  I had times when I was shaky without the alcohol.  I didn’t realize that those times were withdrawal.  Many, many times I drank or got drunk before having community get togethers.  Robert was incredibly worried because of this.

Finally on October 12th, after being sick yet again from being drunk, I decided I didn’t want to live that way anymore.

I emailed the leader of the Celebrate Recovery that I had just started going to, asking for names of treatment centers in the area.

This led me to La Hacienda.

This was the hardest and best decision I’ve ever made.  Leaving my family for a whole month made me struggle desperately with the decision.  Luckily they got me in the next day or I might have changed my mind.

La Hacienda was amazing.  I actually miss it in lots of ways.  I connected with people who were like me.  I learned to accept people in ways that I never had before. I made new amazing friends that will be friends for life.  I learned all about alcoholism and addiction and the fact that it’s a disease.  It’s something that 15% of the population struggle with.  It kills so many people.  It’s a deadly disease.  Lots of people there have been to jail, prison, and been through so much.  Many had been in the hospital multiple times because of it.  Most people had very high liver enzymes (mine were kind of high, but not terrible).  This is what leads to death for many.

While I was at La Ha, I made the really hard decision to stop doing something that I loved for the benefit of my kids and for self care.  I decided to put the kids in school.  And Robert and I decided that this will be a forever decision.

My sobriety has to come first.  From now on I will be going to town 2-3 times a week for AA.  I will continue my step work until I’m through the 12 steps, then I will begin sponsoring women.  My life is completely new and exciting.  I will be bringing my experience, strength, and hope to other alcoholics!  I will serve in AA.

I will also continue focusing on self care.  It’s what will help with my mental health as well as sobriety.

This self care means that I love myself just the way I am.  I eat healthy for self care, and I eat unhealthy for self care.  I will start yoga soon and maybe pick up hiking again, all for self care.  I will continue picking up healthy habits including working on my sleep habits, drinking more water, and picking up fun hobbies.  Getting up early and spending time in the Word, praying, and meditating are all part of self care.

I will begin serving my community.  I know that we are here for a reason and a purpose, and I want to live that out.

I will continue working on purging our home to make it a less stressful place to live.  I will continue being organized because that’s self care for me.

We will continue working hard on budgeting and sticking to the budget so that we can pay off debt and have money in savings.  Now that I’m not spending a fortune on alcohol, it’s possible!

Life is so good.  I never imagined that I would be in a place that I was mentally healthy, sober, and living the life I only dreamed I could have.

God is so good!  He is the reason for it all.  I wouldn’t be where I am without Him.

Here are some pictures of this past year!

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As you can see, even through the hard times, it has been a great year.  The hard times just made me a new person!  I cannot complain about those times.  I’m so grateful today!

Christmas 2016

Coming out of rehab in November, I was kind of nervous about spending the holiday season sober.

This Christmas has been amazing, and it’s the first Christmas season in years that I have had alcohol free.

We spent Saturday, December 17th at my parents.  Meemaw and Carter joined us!  The food was delicious and the company was great!  Then the kids stayed there till Wednesday.  They had a blast!  Here are a few pics from that day.

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Robert and I had several days off together and we celebrated our anniversary (as I’ve previously written about).

We left Friday to come to Glorieta, NM (where my in-laws live)!

The kids have had a blast since we’ve been here!

Saturday they spent the day making snowmen and sledding down the small hill next to the lodge that we are staying in.

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Then we made a gingerbread house and decorated “ugly Christmas sweater” cookies.

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We enjoyed a quiet evening eating yummy food, playing games, sitting by the fire place, and chatting.

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We left Santa some cookies, an apple, and water (my kids don’t believe anymore, but my nephew does!).

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Sunday morning, we woke up to fresh snow!!  It snowed most of the morning.  It was beautiful and perfect.

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The kids really enjoyed their Christmas presents and didn’t complain about not receiving much (it was just shoes, books, socks, and underwear along with some small stocking stuffers).

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The kids enjoyed opening presents from Grandma and Grandaddy and playing with their new toys!

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Then they went sledding on the big hill!

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Merry Christmas from the Croslands!

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Things that Make Me Happy

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I LOVE my HHHM group.  Every single day they convince me to love myself as is.

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#sobriety #70daysyesterday

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Bringing these to do in New Mexico with our kids and niece and nephew!

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I received my order from Amazon!  I plan to bake lots of breakfast items with this to have more protein with my breakfasts.

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It’s supposed to snow where we’re going for Christmas!

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Ethan loves music!  Playing “drums” on things around him, singing into karaoke machine, and “playing” guitar!  Sweet boy!

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We let the kids open their big Christmas gift early.  They were so shocked and excited!

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They played together for hours that night!

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Granny and Pawpaw bought the kids a Karaoke machine.  They love it!

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I got to play original Mario Bros with Robert.  This brought me back to when Joey and I were little.  It made me want to tell him, then I realized I couldn’t.  It was a sad, sweet memory.

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The kids now have great chairs to play the WII!  They love it!

Grati-Tuesday December 13th

It’s Grati-Tuesday! It’s the day I share what I’m grateful for!

Yummy breakfast cookies!

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My girl took notes at church (terrible handwriting and spelling, but I’m happy that she was engaged!).

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Fun selfie with funny photo bombers! (this was right before family pictures)

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Yummy homemade yogurt in fun jars!

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Easy, yummy dinner!

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Fire in fireplace in the camp office for Sunday night “church.”  We discuss hardships and what we learned by it (how God was glorified).

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My daily docket that helps me be organized and actually get stuff done!

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Easy, short, effective Healthy Habits, Happy Mom strength circuits (will be doing 20 minute ones soon… adding one thing at a time!).

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Amazing coffee that tastes like Christmas!

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A whole gallon bag full of homemade granola.

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Camp Christmas party complete with yummy dinner and white elephant gift exchange!

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2 months of sobriety!!

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She Reads Truth Bible studies!!  These are amazing and I have been doing them for several years now!  Right now they are doing an Advent Study.  It’s fantastic.

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What are you grateful for on this Grati-Tuesday?

Self Care on This Wonderful, Rainy Monday!

I have a group in which I ask every day what the beautiful ladies are doing to take care of themselves that day.  If you’re interested in being in it, send me a message and I’ll be glad to see if you should be in it :-).  The group is here: Home of the Croslands.

Since today is #movementmonday in my Healthy Habits, Healthy Moms group, I will be doing the HHHM Strength Circuits Workouts.  It’s cold and rainy so I won’t be running (the roads are all dirt and rocks here at camp so it will be slippery!).

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Hopefully I can do my Monday Couch to 5k workout tomorrow.  I’m learning to be more flexible :-).

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In addition to my workout:

1. Holiday blend coffee (with Pyure and half and half instead of sugar) and Bible study/prayer journal

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2.  Eat my healthy breakfast (homemade Greek yogurt and homemade granola with fruit)

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3.  Shower, dry hair, put on makeup

4.  Take my medication and supplements

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5.  Enjoy classical Christmas music

6.  Go to AA

 

7.  Enjoying the Christmas lights (I want to keep a tree up year round!)

8.  Blogging 🙂

9. Not cooking tonight!!  Eating in the dining hall!!  That means no dishes as well!

10. Keeping a clean house (as I shared yesterday)

11. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help with my anxiety when it hits (which is rare these days)

12. Going to lunch with my hubby!

What are you doing for self care today?

 

Grati-Tuesday

Years ago, a friend of mine started a “Gratituesday” post in a group that we’re in, and she has continued it to this day.  I always love commenting what I’m thankful for (when I see it).  I have decided that I will start a “Gratituesday” blog every week!  I do write 3-10 things that I’m thankful for to my sponsor every day, but it’s fun to include pictures and more details, so that’s what this post will be!

Some of these are repeats of a thankful post that I wrote last week, and some of these will repeat each week… but I’ll try to update with new pictures if they do repeat :-).

 

Robert and I decided to buy a pair of shoes for ourselves as a Christmas gift… yes it’s early, but we do that every year.  These are hand painted Toms.  Toms are my favorite shoe, and these are my favorite Toms ever!

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I have been working on creating healthy habits.  The first one is doing the Couch to 5k program again!  I did Day 1 yesterday, and I repeated it today with a good friend of mine.  We’re going to do the program together!  I’m super excited about it.

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I feel like we did a pretty good job for our first time together :-).

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The desire to create life-long habits, one at a time!

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After our run/walk, I decided to take a hike on my own for my mental health and to spend some time in prayer.  I got quite a few steps in and 101 active minutes!

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This is a typical lunch for me when I got to town!  This is cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, Triscuits, cucumbers, broccoli, and carrots with hummus.

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Robert made me a healthy lunch today!  It’s lemon pepper flounder with leftover roasted veggies (acorn squash, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet potato, onion, and russet potato).  Yum!  (I also had 2 cookies… because… balance).

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When I don’t have eggs in corn tortillas or oatmeal, I have a green smoothie :-).  This one is frozen banana, frozen kale, frozen berries, almond milk, protein powder (I don’t do THM anymore, but I love their protein powder), and spirulina.

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One of my favorite drinks is Bai with apple cider vinegar.  I also sometimes use sparkling water with apple cider vinegar in it.

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This makes me so happy!  My boys all playing with Legos together :-).

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Levi decided to write this all on his own in his journal! I’ll translate: Turkey, home, parents, and God, world, family, friends, and other people, rain, water, food, pizza, sandwich, donuts, ice cream.

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Ethan wrote these in his journal!  He is growing so much!

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I’m thankful that the month of meals is planned, and I have an organizational system that works for Robert and I.  Most of these meals are things we already have here so it should be a light month on our grocery budget!

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Mulled cider candle!

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The little tree that Robert made last year out of branches.  It’s so fun!

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Christmas books to read as a family!

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My new haircut!!!

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I could probably keep going, but I end it for now!  What are you grateful for today?

My 2016 Thankful Post

I have so much to be thankful for.  Life today is NOT what I imagined it to be at the beginning of the year, but I’m so thankful for the way it has turned out.

Before I get started on the things that I’m thankful for in the world, I want to say that what I am thankful for first is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Without His grace, I would be in a bad spot.  I’m so thankful for who He is and what He has taught me since I trusted in Him as an 11 year old.  I have grown to be more like Him every day, with some mountains and valleys in the process.  I have so much more to learn and so much space to fill between Him and me… One day at a time!  One moment at a time!

I’m thankful for my amazing, supportive husband.  He has been through a lot because of me (between my mental illness including bipolar 2, severe anxiety with obsessive/compulsive traits, and now my addiction).  I have been in the hospital twice for my mental illnesses and in rehab for a full month for my alcoholism.  He has held down the “fort” more times than the normal household.  I have spent so much of our money and credit because of my obsessive/compulsive behaviors.  He has had to take on a lot.  Through my stay in rehab and our experience with Family Week, our marriage has grown so much.  We have gotten in touch with our Love Languages again and have nurtured that.  We communicate better than we ever have.  He has taken leadership in areas that I’ve asked him to take leadership.  He prays for me all the time.  He is amazing, good looking, and everything a wife could hope for.

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My beautiful kids.  They are everything a mama would hope for in kids.  They have their moments, but overall, they are really good kids.  They make good choices most of the time, they love to worship, they love to play outside, they are good friends, they love to play games with me :-), and they love to bake with me.

Karis is creative, loves to read (and reads on an eighth grade level in fifth grade), is messy and disorganized (ha!), is very smart, loves “girl time” with me, bosses her brothers around, and loves Jesus.

Ethan is passionate, spends money like his mama, loves music (he has his uncle’s guitar and a keyboard that was given to us that he wants to learn), loves to worship (mostly with Shane and Shane and Needtobreathe), and LOVES old cars/jeeps/trucks.  He wants to be a mechanic and is already working towards that.

Levi is my baby.  He loves to cuddle, loves electronics and doesn’t like outside very much (but we force him out every day! ha!), loves Christmas like me, loves to play games, is very smart (he reads on a 2nd-3rd grade level in first grade), loves Star Wars, and loves to bake with his mama.

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This beautiful place that we live!  The ability to hike whenever I want, just outside our door (on 1400 acres).

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Our camp family.  There really are no words.  We are beyond blessed to be here.

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Our beautiful little home!  I love it!

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This is the view from our back porch :-).

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I love my little kitchen.

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The kitchen/dining/living is all open-concept.  It’s great for having people over.  It’s small, but it works.  We often have 10-15 people in here at once.

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This tree is one of my favorite things about this house.

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Our little Christmas tree :-).

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This is our bedroom.  Small and cozy.  Bed, books, and lamps.  Pretty quilt.  All the important stuff.

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The kids’ bathroom

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This is Levi’s new room (it was our school room…).

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This is Karis’ room.  It’s very cluttered and packed, but she loves it.  That’s all that matters!

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Ethan’s room.  Full of books, Legos, and musical instruments.

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Here is our Expedition that is now PAID OFF!!  No more car payments!!  I’m so thankful that we’re in a new place financially.  Probably the best we’ve ever been in.  Not that Robert makes a ton (because let’s face it, we’re in camp ministry), but we have a free place to live, free utilities, insurance premiums are paid for, and we get a lot of free food through the year… and now no car payment! We are getting through the next few months of me driving to town 5 days a week (2 1/2 hours of driving a day), then we’ll be able to focus on saving, then paying off credit card debt (again…).

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Our parents!  We would not be where we are without them!  My parents are always there for us when we need them!  They have a fantastic relationship with their grandkids.  They stay with them often!  In fact, when I was in La Hacienda for a month, the kids stayed with them most of that time.  I don’t know what we would have done without them!  My inlaws have helped us out in so many ways over the years… between letting us live with them (twice) and helping us out financially a few times.  They also love their grandkids and always look forward to spending time with them!  We’re headed there this Christmas and we’re all looking forward to it!

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My amazing friends, old and new!  I cannot imagine my life without my friends.  I have so many friends and I’m so blessed and lucky.  Between friends here at camp, friends that we went to church with/hung out with in Frisco, friends from our old camp, friends from old churches, and now friends from La Hacienda.  I have the best friends a girl could ask for.  I am very loved!

La Hacienda!  I would NOT be where I am today without this place.  I have grown to a whole new level from all that I learned there.  I can only imagine where I will be in my future because of La Ha and what I am learning now through AA.

My current and former counselors.  They have taught me so much over the years.  They give me a safe place to share my thoughts and heart.  I am currently doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and I just know that it’s going to change the way I see things.  I’m looking forward to continual growth in this area.

The little things… Yummy smelling seasonal candles, Christmas lights, music (Bethel, JJ Heller, Jenny and Tyler, Crowder, Shane and Shane, etc), fresh baked goods (and the ability to spend time doing the baking), books, coffee, games, my Mac and iPhone :-), Toms and boots, leggings, comfy jeans, t-shirts, flannels, my coffee mugs, Harney and Sons hot tea with raw honey, flowers,  my Bible and Bible studies, the “Big Book” (Alcoholics Anonymous), coloring books, organization, fires in our fire pit, Coke Zero, my “fake Yeti” cup, La Croix, eating mostly healthy (besides my Coke Zero), feeling beautiful and loving myself as is.

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