Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Fellowship - Meet Jenny Marrs

Well - I'm pretty excited about my new series.  I have so many interesting people lined up to visit with us on Fridays!!  I hope you will enjoy this and come back each Friday! 

Today I want to introduce you to my friend Jenny Marrs.  I first met Jenny at a parenting class when our oldest kids were babies. We have so many mutual friends and over time we have just been at the same place at the same time and I'm thankful I have gotten to know Jenny.  

Jenny and Dave went through a lot to get their family and have such an interesting story.  She tells us all about it below.  Through adopting Sylvie from the Congo they grew a love for that country and the children there.  They began a ministry called "Feed Their Tummies".  They raise money to help feed orphans in the Congo.  They have concerts frequently in our town called "Bentonville Sessions".  They have great bands play in fun venues and the money all goes to help.  They also are active with Help One Now.  

They also live in an awesome old farmhouse that they actually moved way across town to the country and then restored.  Dave is a builder and he is awesome at what he does.  

So here are the Friday "F" questions with Jenny:

  1. What is your favorite food?

Lately, Im loving quinoa. I fully realize this is the most boring answer, ever. But, really, its so yummy and versatile!!!

2. What is your favorite piece of clothing right now?

I love everything Noonday. A few months ago, a friend gifted me a new pair of Noonday earrings and I wear them as often as possible. They dress up any outfit and are just bright and fun.

3. Tell us about your family.

Ill try my best to keep this briefMy husband is a home builder and, most recently, started dabbling in farming. We have a blueberry farm, honey bees and a bunch of animals.

We struggled for years with infertility. In 2008, we jumped on a roller coaster when we started the process to adopt - doors slammed shut left and right. After another failed match, we decided to make one last ditch effort with fertility treatments and finally became pregnant with twin boys in the fall of 2009. They were born prematurely and spent a month in the NICU but are now perfectly healthy and strong. The first of our four miracles.

When the boys were 18 months old, we felt led to start our adoption process again. We wouldnt realize it until many months later, but the day I published my very first blog post to chronicle our adoption was the day our daughter was born a world away. We finally learned about our girl in November of 2012. She was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, not Ethiopia as we had originally planned. We changed our agency and our country program and completed new mounds of paperwork to finalize our adoption of Sylvie as quickly as we could. In August of 2013, everything was finalized and we were finally able to travel and meet our daughter. We planned to bring her home that next month. In September of 2013, the Congolese government issued a suspension on exit permits for all internationally adopted children. This meant our legally adopted daughter could not leave her birth country. We were absolutely devastated.

This same month, we received the surprise of our lives when we learned I was pregnant. Our fourth baby was truly a miracle and, even though the timing felt all wrong at the time, I can look back now and see how perfectly God orchestrated it all.

Charlotte was born in May of 2014 and on July 7, 2014, we received the most incredible and long-awaited email from the US Embassy in Kinshasa. Our daughter was being released to come home. In a complete whirlwind, she arrived home two days later!

Apparently, we only have kids in pairs. That summer was WILD. Two four year olds, a newborn and a newly adopted toddler is an equation for chaos. We struggled and lost a small amount of our sanity. Yet, we treasured those long-fought-for moments and pinched ourselves as we praised God for abundantly answering our prayers.

4. What is the most important quality in your Friends?

Honesty. My close friends are incredibly transparent and real. The older I get, the more I realize how messed up we all are. The truth is that no matter how many pretty pictures a person posts on Instagram, they arent perfect. No one is. And, if youre perfect, I feel uncomfortable around you because I am SO not. I like messy and real and honest.

5. What’s something you have recently learned on your faith journey? Favorite scripture. Favorite bible study.

I am continually learning about surrender. My ministry has undergone a lot of change this past year and I have to be honest and say that it has been really hard. I have been so disappointed and frustrated with certain plans and dreams falling flat. BUT. God has taught me that if I surrender and lay down my plans and let go of my expectations, then He can do His work. I know His hand of protection has been over us through these changes. I have seen it and I can trust Him for whats next. This work has always been His and He has graciously invited me to take part. I simply have to say yes, lay down my ideas of what He should do, grab ahold of His hand and walk with Him. Then, He blows me away every time. Every, single time. It really is exhilarating to watch His plans unfold!

Favorite scripture? Oh, that is HARD! I cling to different scriptures during different seasons. When we were waiting for our adopted daughter to come home, I clung to Ephesians 3:20. I quickly learned He truly can do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Psalm 91 is a favorite when Im in the midst of spiritual battle and am struggling, particularly with fear.

Favorite bible study? Im currently really loving the First5 studies. I have been enthralled with the old testament books - Exodus and Numbers especially. The ladies of First5 do an excellent job with the app and the experience guides.

6. Biggest fear?

I am petrified of flying. This is a rather newly acquired fear that kicked in after having children. I also have self-diagnosed PTSD after an incident with an emergency landing after an engine caught on fire in the air.

But, an even bigger fear than flying in a metal tube, is the fear of living a life of insignificance. And, to be clear, I don't want to measure the significance of my life by the worlds standards. Significance doesnt require a big gesture or a certain number of likes or readers or photo opportunities. Im learning how significant our days can be regardless of the monotony or seemingly mundane circumstances. Lately, the Holy Spirit has been impressing the importance of embracing smallness and simplicity. He keeps reminding me that a life marked by love is a life well lived. I just keep trying to lean into Him and take the next step before me. Sometimes that looks like changing soaked-through sheets on my toddlers bed. Sometimes that looks like hosting a concert to feed orphans in Congo. Sometimes that looks like laying down my current needs and stepping into the grief with my daughter as she processes loss and change. It looks differently each day, each moment.

7. What are some of your favorite things right now?

Shuana Niequests new book, Present Over Perfect. She is speaking my language.

“Some of us are made to be faster, and some slower, some of us louder, and some quieter. Some of us are made to build things and nurture things. Some of us are made to write songs and grants and novels, all different things. And I’m finding that one of the greatest delights in life is walking away from what someone told you you should be in favor of walking toward what you truly love, in your own heart, in your own secret soul.” - Shauna Niequest

The app, ArtKive. It allows you to snap a photo of your kids artwork and file it within the app by child/age/grade/date. I am currently working on printing books of the boyskindergarten artwork. Its a life saver for this momma who cant handle piles and piles of papers. I still save a few special pieces of art but, mostly, I toss it all. {And, I do get caught sometimes when they find the papers in the trash. But, now I can tell them: dont worry! Ive already taken a photo for your art book! }

8. Biggest failure?

I fail in a million small ways every day. I lose my temper, I drop one of the ten balls Im holding in the air at any given moment, I forget to return voicemails and my email inbox is overflowing. Im reminded daily of my desperate need for grace. And, in turn, my need to extend grace to others.

9. What do you do for fun?

I have always loved to read. I try to make time to sit on our porch swing with a good book as often as I possibly can. Reading helps me relax and unplug. Also, it has to be an actual book in print on paper. I cant do a kindle or read on my phone. I need to disconnect completely from electronics sometimes.

10. What animals you have?(furry things)

We now live on a small farm with three dogs, nine chickens, five cows and a cat.

One of our dogs was abandoned as a six-week old puppy and discovered at the end of our dirt road in a plastic bag with her two brothers by our neighbor. So, of course, we kept her.

I helped hatch one of our baby chicks recently. When my husband collected the eggs from the coop, he heard a faint chirp coming from the inside of one of the eggs. {WHO KNEW THIS COULD HAPPEN?!} Apparently, the momma had abandoned the egg to help with the another newborn chick born the day prior. Thanks to the help of my Facebook friends (and, quite possibly the most hilarious Facebook feed of all time), the baby chick hatched and is now thriving. I had to assist her out of the shell and can now claim the title of Poultry OB.

And, owning cattle is a new adventure. Our kids named the cows: Princess, Big Red, Hamburger, Tenderloin and Baby.

The cat is a new addition. A friend had to give him away because he was killing squirrels in the neighborsyard. We are always accepting of cats who kill rodents here at the farm, so he was welcomed with open arms.

11. Favorite film?

I have a slight obsession with the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun.I actually like the book better than the movie - and they are very different - but the scenery from the film makes me happy. Tuscany is my favorite place in the world and I like to daydream about buying and restoring an abandoned villa like Frances Mayes. When I was hospitalized and on bed rest for a month before my twins were born, I watched this movie at least once a day.

12. Fact we might not know about you?

Despite my current paralyzing fear of flying, I used to be fearless and went skydiving when I was twenty-two years old. I was in Arizona for a work training, and a group of us (including my friend at the time - now husband - Dave), decided skydiving would be a fun idea. Why on earth I thought it would be FUN to voluntarily jump out of a perfectly good airplane is beyond my comprehension.

I remember waiting for my turn to jump from the open door. Each time a person would jump, the rest of us would inch our way toward to the opening. The closer I was to that open door, the more clearly I realized this was a really, really terrible idea. Once I finally jumped, I stared at the altitude watch during the entire free fall. I wanted to be sure to pull the cord at exactly the right moment. After I pulled the cord, I felt a surge of relief.

Then, I heard it.

The parachute was making a strange flapping sound.

I very distinctly remember the conversation that followed.
Me: Whats that noise?
Guy-tandem-jumping-with-me, after a few moments of silence: We have a slight problem with the parachute.
Tandem-jumping-guy: Well, the parachute is ripped.

We eventually landed safely and I kissed the ground while sobbing uncontrollably. Needless to say, I will never, ever, ever do that again.

You can follow Jenny on Instagram HERE.
You can read her blog HERE.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Molars and Apples

Thank you for all of your prayers and support and encouragement on my new Friday Feature and especially for Jordan.  Jordan went to her appointment on Friday in Little Rock and Lucy's heart rate was super high so they admitted her.  We are praying the heart rate comes down and she can stay in a little longer.  Please continue to pray for her. 

And I'm excited for my new series.  I have a lot of fun people lined up and I think you will enjoy it.  

This sweet boy.  He has had the most AWFUL week.  He is getting four molars and it's AWFUL!!!! I'm sure my girls had a hard time and I've forgotten but man it's been rough.  He didn't sleep at ALL for about 3 straight nights and we both felt rough.  But he is feeling better and has been sleeping.  He's just drooling oceans.  I will be so glad when they come in and he can not be in pain.  

Saturday my sweet friend Marci (AKA Pioneer Woman) had asked Harper to come over for a cooking lesson.  Harper was THRILLED! She came out of her room early on Saturday completely dressed and ready to go.  

They had the best time. 

Hollis and Joseph got in some much needed BFF time too.  They are at separate schools this year and really miss each other.  Hollis ended up spending the day with them and Marci took them to pick apples.  

They even helped peel the apples.  Meanwhile, Harper had a friend from school from her class last year come and spend the afternoon with us.  They had a good time playing.  And then once everyone was back home, we ate hamburgers and watched the hogs play football! 

I worked in the nursery this morning and I had to take a picture of Will Holden's "first date".  The little girl is one of my close friends' daughter.  I had to text her the cuteness.  

We went to lunch with Laurie and Steve and then Sarah Kate came home with us to spend the afternoon.  The girls played outside, played school and then laid in our bed to watch "Brady Bunch".  I love how much fun they have together.  

We were back at church tonight for choir practice and church.  I help teach choir in Hollis' class.  

We had to make a quick sonic run before going back to church.  

And mostly we are excited that our hogs have won three in a row but we have a big game against the Aggies coming up this weekend.  

We have a crazy busy week coming up so I better get in bed and rest up! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Fellowship - Jordan Street

Welcome to my very first Friday Fellowship!!! 

I love podcasts and interviews of my favorite podcast people and their friends.  So I decided to do something similar but in print.  Each Friday, I will invite a friend to join us.  It may be someone you "know" or it may be someone you don't know but I think you will enjoy the interviews either way.  And I'm asking questions that all start with F.  Because it's Friday Fellowship and I love alliteration. 

My first guest is Jordan Street.

If you have read my blog for any amount of time - you will remember me sharing a lot about my friend Janet (pictured above) who died of Ovarian cancer 3 years ago.  She was one of the first people I met when I joined our church 13 years ago and she was just a hero of the faith to me.  She just poured out Jesus in everything she did.  She and her daughter Jordan had a special relationship.  They even worked together for several years in our youth department at church.  Jordan is just a younger version of Janet and I remember even when she was in high school asking Janet for parenting tips because I hoped that one day I would have a daughter who would be like Jordan.  
{Even looking at this picture catches my breath because I still expect to walk into church and see Janet's smiling face.  We all miss her so much. }

Jordan married an amazing guy David and her mom was able to be at her wedding.  David is in the ministry and they serve together in east Arkansas.  At Janet's funeral, she had filmed a video she wanted to show to everyone who came.  She spoke of her faith and directly to her family.  I will never forget her telling Jordan that she knew she would one day have a daughter of her own.  So later when Jordan became pregnant - I just knew it would be a girl.  

Instead, Jordan had a precious little boy named Hank who has the best head of curls and is just adorable.  He is almost two and Jordan is now pregnant with a little girl.  She is naming her Lucy which was her mom's nickname.  Lucy has been diagnosed with a very serious heart condition.  She has a severe form of Ebstein's Anomaly. This will require multiple heart surgeries before the age of 2 or 3 years old (one surgery before she can ever leave the hospital when she is born.) There is even a chance Lucy won't survive.  

I wanted to include Jordan in my series but I specifically wanted to post her TODAY because she has a big appointment today where they will look at Lucy's heart and make some plans and I just want to have as many people praying over her today as possible.  So before you read on - will you stop and pray for Lucy? Jordan has been through so much losing her best friend/mother and I'm just praying for a miracle for Lucy.  

And now let's visit with Jordan and ask her some "F" questions:

1.  What is your favorite Food?

My favorite food is anything involving CHEESE! Oh, I love cheese. Mac and cheese, mozzarella sticks, freshly shredded cheddar cheese, yum!

2.  What is your very favorite piece of clothing right now? (FASHION)

Does a piece of jewelry count? Yes? Okay. It's actually a necklace I don't even have in my possession yet. It's a little gold necklace with three small pendants on it. One with a "D" for my husband David. One with an "h" for my little Hank muffin. And one with an "l" for our Lucy lion on the way. 

3.  Tell us about your Family?

Oh my family, well, it's big and a bit confusing but I love them all so deeply. I was blessed with the greatest momma on the face of the earth in all history. She is with Jesus now (as of almost 3 years ago). My heart still explodes with love and deep sorrow over her.
I have the greatest step-dad on the face of the planet. I call him Tony, but he's my dad. He's raised me since I was 5 (my biological father passed away when I was 5), and I couldn't have asked for a better man to step in and lead lead our family.
By blood, I have my brother Bryan who has been an awesome big brother to me. We've drawn even closer together since losing our mom. I wish we lived closer so our boys could play together!
I could go on and on and on. I have some amazing step-siblings, who, even though we live far away and don't get to catch up often, I love them with all my heart!
I have been so blessed by my amazing husband who has walked with me through the darkest days. He's loved me through some very ugly moments - moments when I can't even love myself, he has stuck by me. My sweet Hank Carpenter, who will be 2 in December, has been a light and a joy in our home. He brings laughter even on our darkest days. And then our precious Lucy Rae who I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with. We don't know what the journey ahead looks like. We just pray God grants her life and allows us to bring her home with us to be a family of 4.

4.  What is the most important quality in your Friends? OR tell us something that a Friend has done for you that you can't forget.  

I have some of the best friends in the world (who have really become family to me - especially over the past 3 years). I want to give a HUGE shoutout to three of them who just came to my house recently and blew me away with their generosity and hard work. Maegan, Susan and Rachel. These three ladies love BIG. They love me so well and so tangibly. A couple weeks ago they drove 4 hours to me and my family, they stormed our house with paint brushes, rollers and happy hearts, and completely put together Lucy's nursery. I didn't lift a finger or a paint brush the entire time. What?! Yes. They did it all. I can't even put into words how this blessed my heart. Not only their hard work, but simply their hearts. They really are the BEST.

5.  What's something you have learned recently in your Faith journey?  And/or share your favorite scripture right now and why or your favorite Bible Study or book you have read recently.  

Something I am STILL learning in my faith journey is to STAY IN TODAY. Stay in this moment. Our future right now is so scary and so unsure. It's hard not to drift into tomorrow. I honestly struggle with so much fear right now. All I want is for our Lucy to be healthy and to live. This period of waiting for the unknown is the hardest. But I do try to relish in the current moments. Every time I feel Lucy move and dance around in my belly. Every belly laugh Hank bellows out. Every time he grabs my hand and pulls me all around the house. I'm trying to take it all in. Staying in the moment is hard, but it's exactly where we need to be. With that, I will simply quote the words of our Savior. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:33

6.  What is your biggest Fear?

Well, currently, I think it is very obvious. My biggest fear is not being able to bring home our Lucy.

7.  What are some of your Favorite things right now?

Um, this is easy. Burt's Bees Chapstick. ONLY the minty original kind! I could never ever ever survive without my chapstick. Seriously. I also love some fresh-brewed coffee in the mornings with my French vanilla flavored International Delight coffee creamer. Yum! And this isn't a tangible thing, but I really, really love sleeping! Putting my head on my pillow at night is by far my favorite time of day!

8.  What has been your biggest Failure?

I think maybe my biggest failure is an ongoing struggle of mine. I quit too easily. There are several things I have tried my hand at, and if I'm not able to pick it up quickly, I quit. I wonder how many things I could potentially be quite good at that I've given up on prematurely. Piano, guitar, calligraphy - those are three things that come to mind immediately. Trust me, there's a long list of other things, but those are some of the ones I still wish I could do! 

9.  What do you do for Fun?

I love a good board game! Settlers of Catan has been a favorite of mine for several years now. I try to convince myself and others that it is NOT a nerdy game, but I'm afraid it might be. Either way, I really love it, but I might be a little too competitive!!

10.  Tell me about what animals you have? (Furry things)

We actually don't have any animals, and we are very happy to keep it that way! :) But sadly, our poor Hank is absolutely terrified of anything that is not a human and can move or make that's really unfortunate. We're working through it!

11.  What is your favorite FILM? (movie) 

My all-time favorite movie is The Princess Bride. I have no idea how many times I've seen it, but it never gets old. If you haven't seen it, that's really just "inconceivable!" Ah, that was so lame and cheesy, but I had to do it!

12.  What is one Fact we might not know about you?

I get embarrassed way too easily! I hate being the center of attention - especially unexpectedly. I would much rather blend in with the crowd and watch someone else be up front and have all the attention. Also, large groups of people give me anxiety. I really prefer intimate settings with a few people, some coffee and sweet, uninterrupted conversations (which is currently very rare with children)!

You can follow Jordan on Instagram HERE for updates on Lucy.
You can also read her blog HERE.

Jordan also designs stationary and it's BEAUTIFUL.  You can find here HERE.

I'm so glad you got to "meet" Jordan today and thank you in advance for praying for her!