Monday, February 29, 2016

What's Your Number?

Started writing this last Tuesday, but a crazy week got in the way and I never posted it...

Shay wrote on the topic: "what's your hardest number when having kids?" this week (last week!) and I thought it was fun, so I decided to write my own post on the subject.

This post was meant for Tuesday (last Tuesday!).

My master blog plan was to do What's Up Wednesday for Wednesday, and Friday Favorites for today, but suffice it to say it's been a hard week.  Yay for goals - the incompletion of them has a lot to do with this post and "what my number" is!

I always wanted to be a mom.  I loved playing dolls and started naming my children in elementary school (obviously my taste changed by the time I actually had kids since my daughters aren't named Tiffani (aka Kelly Kapowski and Stephanie (as in Tanner) and Joe (as in McIntire) - those of you who get this, you are my people.).  Actually having children was a lot different than I could have imagined.

First of all, it didn't just happen like we thought it would.  You can read about each of my second trimester miscarriages here and here.  Children truly are a blessing from the Lord - we learned this through suffering and loss.  The other morning, I came across this in my Bible - I read a psalm a day each morning at the beginning of my time with the Lord.

On July 27, 2009, the due date of my first baby, I "just happened" to be on Psalm 127.  What an encouragement from the Lord, but it took faith to believe this was true.  So on that day back in 2009, I noted it with Tristan's due date forcing myself in ink to memorialize this promise even though the "what ifs" still hung in the air.  Then as I came across it during the first year of each of my kids' lives, I got to write out God's faithfulness and his promise fulfilled to us in Seth, Avery, and Susannah.  I love seeing each birth date written in my Bible every time I read that passage.  He's Always Been Faithful.

I know that no matter if you have children or not that this verse is true, and I'm aware that not all have the same ending to this part of their story as I do, but I've learned through the suffering of these two losses that the reward is in the wait, the reward is Him whom we're waiting with.  The children are a blessing absolutely, but the ultimate blessing is God Himself who draws us in and binds us to Himself when we need Him the most.

So when I found out that I was pregnant with Seth, we were elated.  After losing Tristan, I was more aware of what a gift he was than I probably would've been and hoped that the Lord would use that to help us through the sleepless nights.  Thankfully he was a very peaceful baby,  but we had some issues with nursing,  and I struggled with some post-partum baby blues (and we were in the final planning stages of moving to Scotland), so as you may have guessed, I was slightly overwhelmed.

Emotionally going from 0 to 1 was the hardest.  Seth rocked our world, and redefined our family. There were growing pains to be sure, but the Lord used his birth and our move overseas to shape our family.

Avery was born 21 months later and she was the easiest baby known to man.  Always happy, LOVED her bed, nursed like a champ.  She is still my best sleeper.  Everything about going from 1 to 2 was incredibly easier than 0 to 1.  I felt prepared, I was able to sleep when she slept instead of hovering over her making sure she was still breathing. :) Transitioning from 1-2?  Piece of cake (until she turned 2, but that's a post for another time ;)).

We struggled about when to have baby 3.  We went back and forth on the timing (should we wait till after we're done in Scotland?  But we want them close in age... etc etc).  Finally one of our friends who has 8 kids told us, "it's never the right time." And that sealed the deal.  William was on the way - due exactly 2 days before Avery's second birthday.  Soon into my pregnancy, we heard the news that he wouldn't make it to term.  Again the Lord was faithful to hold and to heal.

After hearing from the doctor that William's short life wasn't due to any genetic concerns, we were given the go ahead for more children, and Susannah Mackenzie was soon on the way.

"Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"

I'll let you guess what our hardest number is by looking at that picture...


While going from 0-1 was hardest emotionally, going from 2-3 has been hardest life adjustment. Emotionally not so hard, but physically and logistically running a household with 3 kiddos born in the span of  4 years = Crazytown a lot of the time.

This  little girl has rocked our little world.  She is the cutest little toot, but man is she busy!  Turn your back for 2 seconds and she's stealing big brother's valentine chocolate, climbing up the bunk bed ladder, jumping off the coffee table, I could go on and on.  Her namesake warned me that once we had 3, there would be no time to myself.  I didn't believe her then, but I have learned.  3=NO time.  I feel like a sherpa and a cat herder, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

(Susannah's behind me in her cute smocked dress lying on the floor post tantrum refusing to get in the picture...)

And since it's already nuts over here...should we add one more to the party?  Jury's still out :)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Favorites

Linking up with Andrea, Erika, and Narci for Friday favorites

#1 My BFF

First off, it's my best friend's birthday today - she is definitely one of my favorites!  
Happy Birthday, Erin!

We have no recent photos together - boo!  Here is one from freshman year of college (taken 16 years ago!) - Erin is top row, maroon shirt! 

And here's one from my wedding where she was my matron of honor (this one is only 9 years old ;))

#2 Flowers

I love have fresh flowers around the house.  In Edinburgh, fresh flowers seemed to be so inexpensive (probably because of the conversion rate and my stellar math skills).  I especially loved when the daffodils were in bloom and, I could walk to Tesco and buy a bunch for a mere 1 GBP.

My dad works for a wholesale floral company, so we're never lacking flowers. I love flowers as long as they aren't high maintenance (read: I will enjoy them until they die, but I will not tend to them so that they last longer - it kills the enjoyment of them because that is work).

#3 My Slow Cooker

Since we moved from Edinburgh in 2014, I've been out of a cooking rhythm and my slow cooker has been majorly underused. The last two weeks I've made:

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
What you'll need:
red wine to taste (maybe a 1/2 cup)
1 can beef broth
1 can of smooth cranberry sauce
onion soup mix
Pot Roast meat
3 potatoes diced (I used Idaho because that's what I had)
1 medium yellow onion
small bag of baby carrots
1. Pour broth, cranberry sauce, and wine into slow cooker and which till fairly combined  
2. Add 1/3 of the onion to broth
3. Put in roast and sprinkle soup mix over it
4. Add the rest of the vegetables
5. Add more liquid (water, broth, wine etc) if it looks like it needs it
6. Cook on high for 4 -6 hours or low for 8-10 hours

Delicious one dish meal!

Cilantro Lime Chicken
adapted from October Morning Blog
What you'll need:
4 chicken breasts
4 limes
a bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small bag of frozen corn
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp cumin
garlic salt
1. Place chicken in slow cooker and sprinkle a little garlic salt and cumin.  
2. Squeeze two limes over chicken
3. Add minced garlic, beans, cilantro, corn, onion. 
4. Stir slightly without disturbing the chicken and squeeze third lime over the mixture
5. I added water so that it was covering the bottom of my slow cooker
6. Cook on high for 4 -6 hours or low for 8-10 hours

After it was done cooking, I shredded the chicken inside the slow cooker and served it in a tortilla with an extra lime on the side.  Taylor added hot sauce to his and my salsa would also go well on it.  You could also serve it over rice.

Now that Taylor is teaching a class once a week during dinnertime, I will definitely be using my slow cooker more often!  Which leads to my next favorite...

#4 My favorite professor

So proud of this guy - his students are going to love him!

#5 My little ballerina

All this little girl wanted for Christmas was ballet clothes!  She started her very first ballet class this semester, and she is loving it.  How cute is she?!  Love this sweet girl!

#6 My Kindle Paperwhite

I had a Kindle Fire that died recently and got a Paperwhite for my birthday last month and I LOVE it.  I used my Fire some, but I'm using my Paperwhite all of the time.  I'm not sure if it's the size or the fact that I don't feel like I'm looking at a screen, but did I mention I love it?  I've always been a book girl - definitely prefer to hold a book in my hand and be able to flip back and forth easily, but my Kindle is so convenient.  The Amazon monthly book deals are fun too though the last book I got through this was a FLOP.  I'll review it for my February Goals post at the beginning of next month.

#7 Lush "Perfect Roll Tab Sleeve Tunic

Sheaffer got me onto this shirt a month ago when she named it a must have, and I love it.  I'm always looking for long tunic shirts to wear with jeans or leggings and at this sale price, it was a no brainer.  I got it in tawny port and ivory - the ivory is pretty sheer but looks fine with a tank under it - not sure that I'm going to keep it though.  Nordstrom is so easy to shop online with their shipping and free returns!


Last but certainly not least is the Houston Church Planting Network.  This is a movement to unite churches to saturate the city, to collaborate with one another not compete for "our" turf, and to multiply so that there are Gospel centered churches in every community.  Houston is growing at an incredible rate and although we have a large number of healthy evangelical churches already present in the city, planting churches is necessary to keep up with our current population growth!  Pastor, Tim Keller, says this about church planting:

"The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for
1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal
and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else--not crusades, outreach programs,
para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church
renewal processes--will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This
is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even

controversial. "

We recently were invited to Neartown Church's vision and birthday dinner. Russell Cravens, Neartown's lead pastor invited us along with Roswell Smith, the pastor of The Church at UH, and Sergio Garcia from Kerusso Grace Church.  It has been such a blessing to make connections, share resources, and be a part of each other's ministries thanks in large part to HCPN.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

{Show and Tell Tuesdays} Winning Your Heart

Linking up with Andrea today for Show and Tell Tuesday: Winning Your Heart

Andrea wanted to pick a love-y theme for February, but I have to say this topic makes me cringe a little :) - I am just not sappy. Maybe even to a fault.  I can remembering exiting the movie theater after seeing "Ever After" with my high school best friend, Kathryn.  She looked dreamily at me and said, "I can't wait for my knight in shining armor to come sweep me away on his white horse!" And I was like, "What?  Ewww - if my boyfriend tries to propose with any sort of horse, I'll say no!"

Don't get me wrong, I loved the movie, wanted to fall in love and all of that, but felt silly about being rescued on a horse, or won over in a dramatic way.  I wasn't an outward romantic to say the least. Since I missed last year's Show and Tell Tuesday about how Taylor and I ended up together, here's that story instead...

If I could tell my fourteen year old self that ten years later I would marry Taylor Ince, I'd have died right there on the spot.  We attended the same school, but he was big man on campus: senior, Student Body President, star of the musical, State Championship basketball team starter. I mean the 8th grade girls at our school had a Taylor Ince fan club for goodness sake, and his little brother, who was in the 6th grade at the time, capitalized on this by selling his hunky big brother's school picture around the middle school (our school was K-12).

State Championship Basketball Team (Taylor's standing on the far left)
Taylor's senior picture
photo credit: Cindy Crofford

I on the other hand was a lowly freshman.  I knew who Taylor was (everyone did), but he had no idea I existed.  And to be honest, I was perfectly ok with that.  I wasn't the kind of girl who chased boys or who was even interested as a freshman to date a senior (not to mention my parents wouldn't have let me anyway!).  I had the best freshman year: I was a cheerleader, played basketball, had great friends, and was perfectly content admiring Taylor from afar when I watched the school musical, and when I got pulled up to varsity during basketball playoffs and ate in the same restaurant as the boy's team.  That was about the extent of our time together in high school.

I am in the crease (left base of the right stunt) - lame picture, I know, but most of my old photos are in our attic!

Me and Kathryn circa 1999

The funny thing is our moms were in a prayer group together, our brothers being one school year apart knew each other, and our future brother-in-law was my Sunday school teacher.

Taylor went off to Wake Forest, and I eventually went to Texas A&M, and the weirdest thing was people were always filling me in on what Taylor Ince was up to.  This was completely unsolicited, and I remember thinking, Why are you telling me about Taylor Ince?  I don't even know him!  We were from a small community where everyone knew everyone else's business, and apparently I needed to know Taylor's - haha!  After I graduated from A&M, I embarked on my first year of teaching babysitting in a rough school, unexpectedly lost a cousin I was close with, broke up with my long-term college boyfriend, and pretty much lamented life after college.  I needed a change.  My high school Bible teacher, Hurley, had just been given the position over the youth ministry at the church I grew up in and interned for during college summers, and Richmond, a friend who interned with me, had just been hired as the high school pastor, so I called them up and asked for a job. They hired me immediately, and I was set to start the day after school got out in May.

Simultaneously, Taylor was going through some big life changes too: he started his first year of law school, proposed to his long-term girlfriend, broke it off a month later, quit law school after finally surrendering to the call to ministry, applied to seminaries all over the country, and called up his former Bible teacher, Hurley, and good friend, Richmond, from his graduating class of high school (like I said, small community) for a job.  He was also hired immediately.  Taylor's best friend from high school, Brandon, also got a job there, and once word got out, everyone was asking me if I was excited to be working with them. And I was like, how shallow do you think I am? I don't even know them! :)

But secretly, I might have been a little excited.

I can remember the first time Taylor and I officially met and thankfully unlike high school, he remembered me. I interrupted a meeting the youth staff was having. I had come straight from school to finish up some new hire paperwork, and Hurley called me into his office to meet everyone.  It was brief, but according to Taylor after I left he was thinking, so that's the Robin I've been hearing about. Our next encounter cracks me up.  Our staff was meeting on the playground for some youth event.  Taylor was wearing a polo shirt, khaki shorts, and loafers with no socks (he probably would have had a sweater tied around his neck too had it not been May in Houston and 100 degrees outside).  I was wearing a graphic t that said, "I like green eggs and ham, " khaki boys cargo shorts, and rainbows (I was angst-y from my slam dunk into the real world - haha).  At this point, we were both thinking, who is this guy/girl?

Soon after that he, he began his pursuit.  He was asking his brother-in-law about me, buying me end of the school year presents, watching Star Wars episodes 1,2 and 4-6 to prepare for Episode 3 (which was about to come out in theaters) with our staff at Richmond's condo, playing a lot of ultimate frisbee, floating the Guadalupe River, bowling weekly - pretty much whatever you would typically do all summer with a youth group.  It was the best way to get to know someone well without the pressure of dating.  He left presents on my doorstep with poems he'd written for me, asked me on an official date to a friend's wedding (his mom totally tried to talk him out of this, you're moving to Charlotte for seminary for the next 3 years - what are you thinking?!, and at the end of the summer, he skipped his Summer Greek course so he could stay in Houston for 3 more weeks.  We dated long distance that school year, in April he proposed, and in September we were married.  It was a whirlwind, but when you know, you know.

These are pictures of our staff from that summer - don't miss the awkward photo of Taylor and me together - I'm pretty sure this was the first picture taken of just the two of us.  It always makes us roll with laughter!  We're on Lake Travis about to cliff jump.  Our friends down in the boat were trying to embarrass us by asking for a picture...

At our engagement breakfast, my dad, who met Taylor before I did, revealed to us that the day they met, he told my mom, "I met the guy Robin is going to marry."

Back at Lake Travis - this time getting engaged!

The Lord used many things about our courtship to shape our future.  The fact that Taylor skipped Summer Greek for me meant that he started with Hebrew unlike most freshman seminarians who begin with Greek; this gave Taylor the ability to take more Hebrew electives, be the TA for the Hebrew professor on campus, and ultimately get his PhD in Hebrew and Old Testament. Life has been an adventure!

Taylor continues to win my heart daily by:
1. Waking me up after my coffee is ready each morning
2. Being ready for adventure at all times
3. Loving our God and our family well