Our little Father's Day baby boy turned 4 years old! He is full of life, living at full throttle all day every day, until he crashes at night. With a well-known stubborn streak, he keeps everyone on their toes. He loves music, trying to be dj in the truck when we take a trip ANYWHERE. He sings everywhere and has a unique capacity to memorize song lyrics! He also loves numbers and letters, creating them from Legos, pipe-cleaners, play-doh, clay and most any other object he gets his hands on. He has the sweetest, tender heart as well. Just when you think he might clock you one good time, he leans in for a hug or a sugar. He has recently warmed up to Molly, as we have seen him carrying her around lovingly. He is a ball of energy and just what we need! God knows what he is doing when he sends a particular child to a family. He is our littlest man and we love him dearly!!!
Here she is, in all of her glory! Who is she? That is the question that so many are asking. Maybe because of my Facebook posts recently, which were quite vague, but I did not mean to tarry so long. Such is my life! I told someone the other day....."I have a punctuality problem." Never as much time as I want.
This is Big Nell.....short for Eleanor, born in 1931! And, she is ours!!!
Yes, we officially closed on this home last Thursday. What a crazy, whirlwind of a process that has caused us to have to lean GREATLY on our faith and the Lord's guidance. This is not unlike many of the "crazy" things that we do. The world likes to tell us we are crazy, but we know we are not crazy.....well not very crazy! Although, this was even out of the norm for us. I could say it all started many weeks ago, but God has been weaving this story much longer than that. We had originally assumed that our family would be in our current home until our children came home from Ethiopia. We had to complete a homestudy for our adoption. If we make impactful decisions such as moving homes or adding additional family members, we would be responsible for having our social worker come back in and make an addendum to the original...a pricey addendum! We assumed that the Lord would choose to withhold additional children from the family until after our adoption process was finished, since we are solely leaning on Him to fund this adoption! Why do we think we know how our Almighty Father will work things out? I do not have that answer! We are certainly foolish sometimes. God plainly tell us in Isaiah "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. I am here to testify that His ways are always better than mine and I can never even dream up the fabulous plan that He is already working out in my life. Back to the timeline of events....I mentioned to Marcus that since we were pregnant, which meant that we will have to make that addendum to our homestudy, that we were open to move as well. Why not now? We did not talk in depth about it at that time. We had too much going on! I was just browsing Realtor.com one day when I stumbled upon Big Nell. She was not very beautiful, but there was something about her to which I was drawn. She was twice the size of our current home, she came with 6 acres of land, and she was QUITE ONE HECK OF A DEAL! I sent the link to Marcus, but he never had the time to look at it. There she sat for almost 2 weeks. I nonchalantly mentioned the house one day, to which my husband replied that he had not even looked at it. I showed him right there and he was quite impressed, again not with her looks, but with the potential behind what we saw....and I would imagine the price tag as well. We clicked the link of the agency that was advertising her, where we found that she was up for auction. She was a foreclosed home, where the owner had passed away, and the bank was trying to get rid of her. There was a link to the auction, where we found that there was only THREE days left in the auction. We called the agency immediately, asking to look at her. They simply gave us the code to the lock box and we went to check her out. Looking back, it is actually funny at our initial response to her...."ooooohs and ahhhhhs" "Look at what we could do here!" She was full of potential! We immediately noted that this house included everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, that we as a family has ever mentioned that we would have liked with a home. The bedrooms were huge, there was a separate dining room and laundry room, all of the kids' bedrooms are upstairs (which they are ecstatic about the staircase), it even includes a library which we will use as our classroom. There is a front porch and even a sunroom. There is a basement for my tornado-fearing husband, a small shed with electricity for his ever-growing, home-improvement talents, and 6 acres of land. We can have a garden, a clothesline, plenty of room for the kids to play, and about 2-2.5 of the acreage is wooded. The lot is shaded with lots of trees! Nell was built in 1931, so there is so much character inside! There are windows for days, which means lots of natural light! There is a fireplace for warming in the winter. There are spectacular french doors and hardwood floors throughout, which are in very good shape. It sure seemed like a dream come true. So home we went and prayed.....HARD! Was this for us? We sure wanted it to be, but so many times I want something to be the will of God and it just is not His will. We prayed and when we woke in the morning, there was a familiar peace with the situation, the same one we feel when God sends us another baby. Initially we might freak out a little, but then His Spirit reminds us that He is Jehovah-Jireh. He has never left us, not forsaken us. He whispers "Depend on Me!" We know that God wants us to live frugally and we have embraced that kind of lifestyle. His word says to owe no man anything, except love. This deal could have us debt-free in a matter of a few years. We looked at the auction again, where there was now only TWO days left. There was a Bid option and a Buy It Now option. Felt a lot like eBay, but with a whole lot more riding on this decision. We discussed the pros and cons of each. There was already a bid placed on the home. There was several thousand dollars standing between the current bid and the Buy It Now price. We chose to secure it with the Buy It Now price, so there would be no surprises. We have become proficient "snipers" on the eBay circuit, bidding on an item with only seconds left, in turn making it ours. We did not want that to happen with a home that could change our lives! We found that we had to have a pre-approval letter from our bank for financing if we wanted to place the offer. We (God) got that worked out the very next day with only hours to spare. And with one little click of a button, she was officially under contract with us! We felt relief and a little panic all at the same time, not unlike Peter when Jesus beckoned him to step out on the water. Here we were, on our way to having two houses. Who has two houses? We certainly did not need two houses or two mortgages. We immediately began interviewing realtors to place our current home on the market. He had a lot of work in front of us. We had to paint everything neutral! That included the girls' and boys' rooms, Shy's nursery that I had JUST FINISHED PAINTING! And, that also included the infamous nesting kitchen, which I could not bear to do, so Marcus did it while I slept one night. We packed up probably one-third of the contents of our home, including furniture, manicured the yard and let Katie Hale list our home with Town and Country Realtors. She seemed very aggressive and she was a numbers girl. It also helped that she was in the top ten realtors for Jackson and Town An Country's #1 realtor. She showed us various comps and helped us list our home to sell quickly. The house has been listed for two weeks and we have shown it 5 times! We have complete faith that God will sell our home in His perfect timing. We have placed our home on the market twice before, each for six month contracts and never had an offer. Third time is a charm, right? There is already potential for an offer, which we are simply praying for God's will. That is a hard thing to do when something like this is hanging in the balance. My faith is growing.
The house is ours. Now, so are the renovation responsibilities. After the house was under contract with us, we had it inspected so that we knew exactly what was ahead of us. It was not all bad, but it was not all pretty either. This process has revived my Pinterest addiction! But, hey, this girl knows what she wants! And, this girl has been quickly reminded that she is not the only one that will be living in this house. And, there is a price tag on everything! We actually agree on the big majority of things that need to be done. There are some significant electrical and plumping replacing to be done. We will gut the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen, completely re-doing those rooms. We have negotiated with one another to at least have estimates by PROFESSIONALS on both the patching of significant cracks in the plaster walls or tearing them ALL down and having drywall hung in their place. We had originally wanted to just patch the cracks, but we sure would like to know what is behind those walls....for safety sake and it will take care of most of the lead paint fear. We will have all new paint, all new appliances and fixtures, and refinish the floors. The price tag continues to increase. And, we have just discovered a brick fireplace underneath the plaster in the living room. I think we have agreed to tear the plaster off of that after having it tested for asbestos. Thankfully we have many talented and licensed friends offering help that will deter some costs. There is a lot we will choose to do ourselves. Beware, this blog could temporarily become infested with DIY posts. We need it livable by mid to end of July, unless our house has not sold by that time. We are having a baby!!!!! That fact is not lost on me. It is causing me the most stress, but God will take care of all of it. I know that!
It also is not lost of me, the way this whole process mimics God's salvation through grace. We are an empty shell, much like Big Nell was when we found her. She had been abandoned for going on two years. She just needed a light to come on from within. We all need to let the light of Christ into our lives as well. When we allow the Holy Spirit to come in and begin reconstructing our insides....our thoughts, our emotions, our actions, our hearts and souls....His warmth begins to radiate. The world can see the glow being emitted. All Nell needs is love to enter her, in the form of a family. We will rid her of the mold and rot inside her and rebuild those places with newness. The Holy spirit does that to us, ridding us of the baggage we carry, the chains that have us bound in sinful patterns, and He builds us with the renewing of our minds and a stable foundation. Nell is surely a blessing in disguise! There has been so much more to learn from her than we ever anticipated. We will keep her original character, designed by her creator. God gives us desires, passions and even dislikes. He does not want His original creation diminished, only the sinful part of the world that has crept in and began to destroy us. It will no doubt be full of challenges, but we will embrace them and be refined by them. That part probably will not be the fun part, but it is part of the whole. She is going to be something when it is all said and done. God will get all of the glory! Here goes nothing.......
Yesterday we just let go of our first born, to his first trip to the first church camp for this family! Letting go is hard, isn't it? Or is it just me? My kind-hearted, eldest child is away from home for his first extended trip away from us! He has been on many an overnight trip to a friend's house or to Nanny's, but never this far away (4 hours away) for this many days (five days)! I have complete faith that the Lord will watch over him, protecting him and providing for all of his needs. We allowed Eli to take a trip with our church to Centri-Kids Camp in Lebanon, TN at Cumberland University. He has a jam-packed, fun-filled week ahead of him....I did go over his itinerary for the week SEVERAL times. I know he will be blessed. The house is a little more quiet without him (although, he isn't a loud child) and the dynamic of the family is different without our oldest. We sure miss our boy!
He did call as soon as he got there, via the youth minister's phone! He was excited about his room. He has let his bunk mate choose the bed he wanted first! Love and miss my boy!! I can't wait to hear all about his week...IF FRIDAY EVER GETS HERE!
Eva and Mia were asked to be a part of the wedding of Beth Ann Sanders and Dexter Ridings, as one of eleven flower girls! The wedding was beautiful! The girls were beautiful! We were so honored to have the girls be a part of this special day. Weddings are a blessing, especially the union of two believers in Christ. The wedding began at 6:00 pm at our church, Hillcrest Baptist Church. Then, we accompanies the wedding party and guests for a reception at the home of the bride's parents, complete with Snap Booth and Cornhole! We had such a fun evening celebrating the bride and groom!
Thumbs up from Brother Jerry
Practicing at the rehearsal
With the beautiful bride, Beth Ann
Walking down the aisle
They did so well!
My beautiful flower girls!
Doing their job!
Abe and Shy at the reception
All of our babies at the reception
Mom and Shy
Mom and Dad DID get a photo made! We decided to get a professional shot...IN THE SNAP BOOTH! Looking forward to seeing that one!
We wish you the best, Beth Ann and Dexter, as you begin a new, wonderful chapter in your lives!
We could not be more tickled that the girls have been asked to be flower girls for the wedding of two dear friends from church. This sweet couple just could not decide which girls to ask to be apart of their special day, so they have asked 11 precious little girls to be flower girls! How sweet is that? They did not stop there! Thursday evening, this couple gifted ALL eleven flower girls with manicures and pedicures as a thank you for being in the wedding! All of the girls were so excited. I was asked frequently how much longer until we get our nails painted. Our girls were definitely looking forward to it! By the looks of it, they loved every minute!
Well, you have heard the old saying "Third time's a charm!" We have heard that too....and we are certainly hoping! After much, QUICK, deliberation, we have decided to list the house for sale...ONCE AGAIN. This time, we think it is going to be different. We have specifically felt God's leading in this decision, so here goes nothing! The house has been on the market for a week and we have already shown it 2 times and had an open house. We have a motivated realtor, Katie Hale, with Town and Country Realtors. We interviewed a couple of realtors, none that we have gone with in the past. We wanted someone with a very aggressive personality, but also someone who could guide us with numbers. We found that in Katie! She has been very busy with us so far and we are loving the attention she is giving our home....soon-to-be someone else's home!
Impressive weight GAIN this week at my appointment with my midwife...and by impressive, I don't mean "Wow, you didn't gain much at all!" Feel like I am carrying really low. Heart rate was 120's - 130's range. Can't wait to hold this little olive!
While I have been capturing the progress of our 6th pregnancy, I have had little time to post. I am finally finding time to sit down, unload and organize photos. Pregnancy is one of the most precious times in MY life. I try my best to overlook the little nuances and embrace this short, yet miraculous time. There is nothing like carrying a child, feeling it's movements....first as tiny flutter, then moving the more pronounced stretches and kicks...and watching as the child grows. I love, most, every moment! I have back-posted photos on the dates that coordinate with the progression of this pregnancy. Not to deceive anyone into thinking I am more on top of this life than I really am, but so that I can remember the dates that coordinate with my pregnancy. Hope you enjoy watching "Big mama" grow!
Do I ever wish my days were as fabulous as this one? Well, thanks to my husband, they almost all are! Has it really been 12 years since this all happened? Since we established this West family? Seems like yesterday in a a sense, and like an outer body experience too. Who are these kids? My love for this man has grown by leaps and bounds through these wonderful years. Had you told that on this day, I would have said it was not possible. What a love we share! There is no other like it! There is no other man like this one and I am so glad he is mine!
Today in celebration of our day, we mowed, painted, pressure washed, did
laundry, one of us taught Bradley class and one of us led recreation
time at VBS! Sounds romantic doesn't it? My heart is so full, I could
have been doing anything beside him and loved it. In honor of our
anniversary, he wore this shirt that he wore to the luau we attended in
Hawaii. Only the 2nd time ever, I think. Handsome, I tell you! Still
can't believe he chose me!