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What God Taught Me in 2016

God taught me a lot in 2016. We moved from the city out to the country to live on a farm. The country had been my heart's desire for years and it finally happened. Living in the country, I felt the most peace I had ever experienced in my life (until I saw a snake). That was my happy place...within the first month there I couldn't imagine ever living anywhere else. I could only see staying there, after all it was my happy place and I was really in need of the peace that place brought me. Our children truly loved it. They loved the animals, freedom and slower pace it brought to our family.I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 ESV


I also did a lot of growing personally during that time. If you don't know my background, I came from an abusive home. Many times as a child I wasn't allowed to have my own feelings. I was too often told how to feel, told when to smile, and always told to get over "it". "It" was usually some form of physical pain accompanied by verbal assault. Not really something you can just get over in a matter of seconds. My whole life, in one way or another, I had been hearing "get over it" without having the proper tools on how to get over it. Something about preparing to live in the country and actually living in the country on a farm was freeing. I feel like God used that time to teach me that I had a voice. He taught me that I had choices and that I could in fact make those choices without worrying about what others would think. In the end what mattered was what God thought. That had never really occurred to me before. Most of my adult life my choices have been thoroughly questioned by others. Maybe well meaning others, but generally I walked away feeling like I was stupid for whatever they were questioning me about. When you are 21 and get married to a man seven years older than you with 3 children then go on to have 6 children and adopt a teenager, you get ALL the questions, judgment and ridicule. So before moving to the farm it never really occurred to me that I only needed to consult my husband and my God. Really it was a weight off my shoulders. I needed not to worry about what others thought about me or the road that God was leading me down.

But the biggest and most important thing God taught me in 2016 was that I wasn't doing as well as I thought I was. I had this certain area in my life that I really struggled with for a while. By "struggled" I mean at one point I flat out refused to even consider doing what the Bible called me to do. Since I've gotten older and had a best friend guide me in this area I had grown a ton in the last few years. I bet if you had asked Jeff he would have even said I was doing a good job in this area. If you had asked me if I had that area down I would have said "yes". But God showed me different and even then I argued with Him. For those of you that know me you know I can be pretty hard-headed, so the fact that I argued is probably no surprise to you. In April of 2016 when Jeff was on his mission trip to Kenya God and I had a little conversation. It went something like this.

Me-I really need to sleep can you please make me sleep?

Him-You need to let go and submit.

Me-...what? I am submissive.

Him-You need to stop holding him (Jeff) back.

Me-...WHAT? He's in Kenya right now, I'm not holding him back, I just keep him level-headed.

Him-You need to let go and follow him.

Me-But I don't want to move to Kenya.

Him-You need to stop holding him back and follow him.

I just wanted to sleep! My husband was 9,000 miles away, the dogs were barking, I was hearing noises, it was 4 am and I was starting to worry/freakout/panic. Instead of sleeping I was learning...learning that an area I thought I had "mastered" I was still weak in. Though I had grown leaps and bounds in that area I still needed more growth. So for the next several minutes I cried. I cried because I knew that meant I had to say goodbye to my happy place, friends and family. In that moment I knew we would be moving to Kenya. For me I feel like that is every area of my life...if I think I have it mastered then I'm just missing something. God taught me to always be looking to grow and learn more.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6




Bys Family Fun Day!

Have you ever wondered what we do for fun? Well I want to show y'all what a Bys family fun day looks like! Yesterday Daddy was off work. That was unusual because he is usually only off Sunday and Monday, but we will take a random Thursday. When he is off, it automatically makes that day a family day and we try to do something fun together. Fun doesn't always mean something off the farm, but yesterday it did. It was even more special because Quinn was home. We wanted to go and do something, so Mom and Dad (well, mostly Mom) planned a fun day for us.

While we ate breakfast Daddy told us the plans for the day. He said we were going to go to a splash pad, have a picnic lunch, then we were going to have a surprise, followed by dinner and a family movie at home. Dad kept calling it a surprise, but we all knew what it was because the splash pad was in Grapevine. Our favorite shaved ice place is also there. Everyone quickly got ready for the day. Even though we started our day early, we finally rolled out of the driveway at about 11:30. Large family problems at their finest, it always takes a little longer than expected to leave the house.

When we finally got to the splash pad Mom and Dad realized that the park was super busy and there was no shade so we decided to try another one that was about 10 minutes away. After several meltdowns (all the littles were ready to get wet) and getting everyone buckled in we realized we had no diaper bag. No diaper bag? How does that even happen? Finally, we got to the other splash pad and we immediately went to the water. It was super hot so the water felt great! Soon everyone was in the water except Aspen and Reed. Aspen isn't technically afraid of the water but it still takes her a little while to get in. Reed, on the other hand, isn't a fan of water. He won't touch you if he knows you are wet.

By the time lunch was laid out on the table, everyone was drenched (except Reed). Lunch consisted of veggies, a fruit salad, mango, watermelon, pickles, olives and Daddy's gourmet wraps. He said humbly that one taste of his gourmet wraps will ruin all other wraps for you. He thinks he's so funny, he is always cracking a joke.

Lunch was finished quickly and everyone was back in the water. Mom decided to introduce Reed to the water. He was not too happy, but he wasn't freaking out so there was some progress! Mom and I also "helped" Reed walk thru a water spraying arch, again not his favorite thing, but he tolerated it.

Some of us were spending time under this huge bucket that filled up with water and poured on you. Other kids had moved a few chairs directly under the spot the water hit, so we drug Daddy into a chair to wait with us.

Family Day 2

When we were done, we dried off by playing at the park that was next to the splash pad. This park was pretty cool and had many things to play on. Our favorite was a miniature zip line where we spent most of our time. We all took turns going, Reed even went on it with Daddy.

Family Day 4

We finished up our outing at a place called Hip Pop, which was our surprise dessert. They have shaved ice, slushes, and popscicles. Not only do they have the best shaved ice, they have syrups that they make with real fruit, organic sugar, and they don't have corn in them. This is huge for our family because we have a corn allergy and it seems that corn is in all things, especially sweet things. Most of us got shaved ice or a slush, but Daddy chose an interesting cucumber lime jalapeño popscicle. That just sounds weird to me and Daddy ended up having to get several sips of water to stop the coughing from breathing in the jalapeño. :)

Family Day 3

We wrapped up the day with a dinner of  homemade hot wings, mashed potatoes, rice crispie treats and a family movie. Our day was busy, fun, hot and even chaotic at times, but we had a great day and made memories. By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted. (Yes, Quinn sleeps with his eyes open!)

Family Day
Family Day

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (esv) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.