BLESSED, THANKFUL

Uncle Ben's Thanksgiving 2017This Thanksgiving I was so deeply grateful to spend time with my brother and his precious family.  We don’t always get as much time as we would like with each other, but have continued to connect when we are able with our super busy lives!  I love the times we can connect, remember sweet times, and encourage one another.  I’ll always have a special place for my brother reserved in my heart.

I’m grateful for his amazing wife who truly is on Fire!  She supports my brother working at the Pentagon, loves being a momma two their beloved 2 girls, and actually teaches 2nd grade all at the same time.  My nieces are 13 and 11 now and it hurts every time I realize this.  Time truly is flying by so quickly.  I love these girls deeply and look forward to the next time I get to see them.

I love seeing cousins get together.  I love to see their sweet hearts connect, play, and make memories together.  I’m always a little nervous though, hoping every moment is a great memory together!! 😉

Although I was sick for Thanksgiving, I was blessed to have my sister-in-law’s amazing cooking, the love of my brother and family, and the sweet presence of my children sitting with their cousins all at the beautifully decorated table to enjoy the traditional meal that we historically celebrate…still…because of the unlikely love of the Indians and the settlers.  Really, the Indians who chose to not be territorial, but to help these foreign people survive.  That day was a celebration…and time of hope, a time of fellowship really, and a confirmation from the Lord that indeed, this was the new land He was calling his people to.  Yes, I believe it was like a Promised Land.  However, there was much to learn about this promised land and the settlers needed a lot of help.  Thank God there was a kind-hearted Indian there to help them.

I love seeing acts of love in my daily life that inspire me and touch my heart…really any love and trust we human beings can have is divinely inspired and the beauty of it all is that the love wouldn’t stand out so much except in the darkness of our world…LOVE shines so bright.  I try and keep my eyes open and peeled to what God is showing me each day so I can hear from Him…outside of my Scripture reading…so I can SEE HIM.

He is a God who loves to reveal Himself.  And we are His beloved children.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

We are doing well…so thankful and blessed.

 

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9 YEARS OLD!!!

Lewis 9th birthdayLast Thursday, on the 26th of October, My little boy turned 9 YEARS OLD!!!

We celebrated last week with gluten-free yummy cupcakes for his class from Small Cakes bakery right down the road, and a night out at yotopia with a cup of many different flavors of frozen yogurt, where Lewis wrote a huge birthday cake with candles and his name on the blackboard where we were sitting.  Next a Ninja night at his Karate Center, which is amazing, and finally today, a trip to the Donut Shop and Airstrike, as well as seeing his soccer coach at Warren.  Even one of his karate instructors sang him Happy Birthday last night 🙂

This year, as I contemplated Lewis’ birthday, I thought about his birth, I thought about him as a toddler, I thought about his diagnosis at 6 right before his dad deployed…I thought about the hard year that lie ahead, I thought about the past year and a half since the deployment was over.  Several thoughts came to me.  But, WOW was the biggest one!  Wow!  This is one AMAZING KID!!!  He has been though so much.  And most doctors who know about autism would say, a deployment is NOT GOOD.  TRANSITION is NOT GOOD.  DIVORCE is NOT GOOD.

How on earth could this kiddo be doing so well?  That is what I want to write about for this 9th birthday.  It is so very clear to me that God’s grace has literally carried this little boy. During the deployment, God provided and delighted us with activities over and over in gymnastics, boy scouts, AWANAS, ABA therapy, and a soccer league. During the move to Ft. Gordon on Valentine’s Day, I thought about a mid-year move to a whole new duty station, area of the country, and school.  He blew my socks off!  No problem!  Thank God we moved to a good school.  The kids love it.  And during the divorce, Karate, Boy Scouts (now he is in Trail Life), UPWARD Soccer, AWANAS, and now UPWARD BASKETBALL.  He is currently an advanced green belt in intermediate level Karate and just brought home all A’s and 1 B + for his first graded report card.  I love doing homework with him, I love seeing his delight in reading books, I love seeing his memory for Scripture and his LOVE for Jesus.  His discernment is growing now to where he can tell between lies and truth and I love that.

Here are some of the STRENGTHS I want to highlight in Lewis:

Becoming a great communicator!

Remains sweet and sensitive

Love for Logic

Goal Setter and Achiever

Self-Motivated Most of the Time

Hard Worker Most of the Time

Great memorizer

Increasing obedient heart

Wonderful, tender-hearted brother

GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR

WONDERFULLY, ENDLESSLY CURIOUS!!!

 

I am celebrating YOU today Lewis.  I couldn’t have imagined how far you would come, but believed with all my heart that God would get you there.  And He has.  I pray with all my heart that you can continue to believe that All things are possible with God and embrace the great plans He has for you with a grace-soaked heart.  You are a masterpiece and made PERFECTLY the way you are. We couldn’t imagine you any other way.

Disney 2017

  • STRENGTH….

This is the one word with which I would describe last week.  Christ truly gave me incredible strength to drive solo down to Disney, spend 5 full days at all the parks, and drive back.  I had little to no voice the whole week too.  Several friends asked me before I left if I had a chaperone, but as I prayed, God revealed not a single soul.  I assumed He would strengthen me to do it alone.  But then I got sick as we had all 4 seasons of weather in one week before we left Augusta.  My voice departed the day we left for Disney.  Sometimes, we face opposition from the Lord when He wants us to go a different direction…but sometimes, we face opposition from the enemy.  As I prayed, it became clear to me that the enemy wanted to make it impossible for us to have fun!  I explained to the kids when we got to the park that mommy would clap one time softly if I needed their attention and three times loudly if they were in trouble.  They thought this was very funny and actually paid really close attention.  The parks were so full of people and it was so very hot….in the 90s…each day.  I honestly wondered how I would make it, but every step of the way God provided.  I realized that the kids hone in when I use a quiet voice even more than a loud one and this was wonderful for me to witness.  I really couldn’t have had a more wonderful week, everything was just so serene, fun, peaceful, enjoyable, and exciting.  I loved blessing the socks of these kiddos after one of the hardest years of our lives.  They have persevered, been hard workers, and have triumphed throughout it all.  I am amazed and thankful they are my kids.

When we arrived, at the very first start of our journey into the park, we were surprised with a Disney parade full of energy, and many Disney characters and the beautiful words left by an airplane in the sky saying “Jesus Loves You.”  My eyes welled up with tears of joy as I looked up and saw those words and knew they were meant just for us at just the right time as we entered Disney.  He wanted to bless us.  He wanted to encourage us.  He wanted us to know, “this is for you.” So much of my Christian walk has been one of hard work, servanthood, and even suffering.  There are very few moments I feel as if I can let it all go and have so much fun.  I was able to do that last week.  We had ice cream every day (boy, was it hot!), and we had delicious food.  I tried to relax, despite the fact that I was intent on these littles not getting lost in the masses, and keeping them hydrated and protected from the sun…and prayed my heart out in every line that they would make it…and they did.

We brought our princess dresses and Hannah and Emma dressed up nearly every day in their dresses as Elsa, Ariel, Minnie, and Princess Sophia.  Luke Skywalker was a little too hot for Lewis to wear!  Elsa dress was completely worn out by the time we left and stayed at Disney!

As we walked the parks of Disney, something special happened everywhere we went.  Fun drums to drum on, dancing acts where the kids were invited to dance with the dancers or dance to the music and even give requests, amazing shows, exciting rides, even Disney personnel giving us free ice cream, special fast passes to rides that are unable for fast passes on the machines, Disney personnel who gave the girls beautiful gem rings, and Lewis trading cards.  I think Emma saved the best ride for last with Winnie the Pooh.  It had the best things to play with during the line!  And she dearly loves Pooh.  Emma even went on her first roller coaster, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which had a 2 hour waiting line when we first came, so I wasn’t sure if we would get to ride it before we left Disney!  Emma, as she got buckled properly in the seat on the roller coaster, promptly threw her hands up in the air and started squealing even before it took off.  I think I shall call her Moana.  She is so brave. Hannah went on her first fast roller coaster ride just with Lewis and decided she likes the slower ones!  Lewis proved himself brave everywhere he went, but also appropriately cautious at Typhoon Lagoon, staying where his feet could touch when the huge wave came crashing toward him.

The kids were so much stronger than I imagined.  Lewis, being too old for the stroller, walked on average 12 hours each day, and Hannah walked most of that time too.  Emma walked at least half the time and stayed awake nearly all day every day with short naps in the stroller in the afternoon.  I was amazed at how little they complained, how positive they were, and how strong their little legs are.  I love their excitement for adventure and how each one of them tried every ride they were allowed to go on.  I feel so proud of my brave kiddos and their determined spirits to keep going despite the heat and long lines.  Disney made everything so magical and so fun and I was truly in awe of all the work they put into every detail.  We are so thankful for gifted team members, artists, architects, designers…visionaries….what great minds!

Even our resort was so special.  I wanted to spend most of our time at the parks, but on the first night there for a short while and our last morning there, we went to the water park at our resort. Little did I know that the resort I randomly picked had the best water park of all the resorts.  Our last night of Disney, even, Magic Kingdom stayed open past 11 until 1 am for all resort guest only.  We were able to visit some of the rides we couldn’t get to at Magic Kingdom the first day and really rode until we dropped.  The lines were ridiculously short and although I felt a tad bit bad about keeping the kids up so late, seeing the delight on Emma’s face and the determination to make the most out of her last night, each one asked to keep going until the park closed.  As 1am hit, the park even played a goodbye song to us as we walked out.  It was a dream come true truly, every bit of it.  We took our Disney pictures in front of the Disney castle at 1:30am!!  The last morning there, I knew it would be hard to leave…I told the kids I hoped that we would come again soon.  They mustered up enough energy to get up the next morning after being woken from deep, deep sleeps….to two hours of more fun at our water park before leaving for home.  They were angels going to and coming home from Disney and I thank God for that.  I think knowing they were going to see family the next week as well at the beach kept them encouraged that the fun was not all over.

I truly felt like we lived last week like it was the last we would ever live and those were the words I heard in a Christian message on the radio on our way there.  Often I feel as if I need to be the instrument of self-control in my kids’ lives at home and we practice self-denial as often as is appropriate, so it felt so odd to say yes to so many things last week…but it felt good and it really filled us up and made us feel so loved.

Thank-you Jesus for an amazing, unforgettable week at Disney 2017.  And thank-you for loving us so well.

Easter 2017

I love Easter for so many different reasons.  This Easter was so special to me. Visiting with family, watching my kids love on the people I love and seeing my relatives adore and cherish them as well.  There is nothing like the love that God intended for families.

I really do enjoy the Easter Egg Hunts with my kids and seeing how they participate in them over the years.  This past weekend, we were blessed with two family and church egg hunts.  They go by so quickly really, that I am so grateful we had 2.  Sweet Emma wanted to make sure the little kids found their Easter Eggs, Master Lewis raced around not wanting me to say a word to him lest he miss even one Easter egg, and Hannah disappeared from sight finding her eggs in a quiet way.  I hope the kids can remember them and going to the same homes and places I went to as a little girl.  We stayed in a most beautiful home at my Great Aunt Libby’s and got to see my Aunt Ruth at a family Easter celebration, and I got to spend quality time with my other two Aunts- Aunt Geri and Aunt Sharon.  I went to Sunday School, and got to listen to my Great Aunt Libby teach the Bible and the Resurrection, while I watched my kids play so sweetly at a fun playground outside.  I saw my Aunt Libby, cousin Joanne, and Aunt Sharon sing in the choir, and my Aunt Geri ask for prayer from the congregation for my grandmother.  My days were filled with such sweet moments, with such loving people.  Each of them took the time to embrace me and love me deeply.  I cherish this so much during this time of my life.  Truly, in the hardest moments of life, God’s love reaches so deep.

I come from a very compassionate family and I am so grateful for that.  They love family and they love love.  I fit in quite well 🙂

I read today in the Word about God’s unfailing love comforting us and that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations).  I am thankful for the mercies I had this weekend in being with family and also for today in having the entire morning to do laundry, clean my apartment, and clean out the car FULL of Easter Eggs!

I haven’t posted pictures in awhile, because the old cord I have for transferring pictures didn’t work and then the new one didn’t work either.  I am downloading them from dropbox, and hopefully, that will work, but THIS picture of Emma I received from a relative I spent time with this weekend. You might be surprised, she is growing so very tall.  She doesn’t consider herself a little girl anymore and thinks often of turning 4, well, I think she wanted to skip her 3 year old birthday all together and just turn 4…but we are trying to make the most of each day of 3…she’s been such a gift to me this little girl and I treasure each moment with her.

Happy Easter 2017 and I pray and hope all of you can live deeply rooted in the NEW LIFE that God offers us in Christ.  Easter is simply a reminder of that, but each moment is another opportunity to live and believe in the NEW LIFE that Christ so graciously gave us in a most costly death.  I want ALL of that GRACE and ALL of that New Life that His death may not be in vain.

 

Here’s Emma at 3 1/2 🙂Emma Easter 2017

 

 

 

Peace. Happy New Year 2017!!!

This word means so many things to me right now.

In the past, many times I thought of peace as a river, or an ocean, or being in the mountain tops all alone…where no stress, trouble, trials come….a place of perfect quietness.

Because of the nature of my life right now, peace means so much more.  Only this week…really in the past 10 years…has it been really quiet for any amount of time…I have the quiet…but oddly enough, it doesn’t necessarily mean a peace in my soul.  Although I feel peace in my heart right now, it isn’t coming from the scenery or quiet…it is coming from beautiful splashes of truth God is giving me…that ripple beauty, peace, love, joy, and hope deep in my soul.  It’s that feeling of all is truly well.  It’s the feeling of that this next year is going to be the best one yet…because of God’s goodness, His grace, His hope…because of HIM.

True peace, I think, comes from a restful state of spirit.  You can be in a place of perfect beauty, perfect quiet…but feel nothing but turmoil in your soul.  Peace comes from making the best choices you can…and trusting Him with the rest.  Peace comes from believing God’s truth over all the lies around you-spoken to you, about you, over you…perhaps lies you see others believing too.

Truly, I cannot imagine not having God in my life.  There is no real peace other than that which He gives.  Everything else is fleeting, transitory.

Last night I celebrated the New Year going to Red Robin to eat a tasty meal and lemonade and then going to Star Wars, Rogue One.  I chose Red Robin because that’s where my kids and I went to eat one day after church and we had a blast.  The people there were welcoming and sweet and I found a new movie theatre I had never been to before just down the road. I watched a movie that spoke little nuggets of realness to me…it is amazing how God can even speak through movies.  He spoke for me what should have been spoken to me in true life….but wasn’t.

Here’s my focus for the New Year: Train my mind and body to be strong and healthy. Speak TRUTH IN LOVE.  BE BOLD.  God has the final say.  He truly does. We cannot fear speaking what is needed to be spoken.  I am determined to stay focused this year…to speak words of healing, of love, of power.  To let go of all the old, and joyfully welcome the new.  This is a season of change for me.  I am embracing whatever God has planned.  I am embracing the new creation He is working in me.  Truly, we cannot change others, but we can find ways to love them and speak truth to them in love.  There is much sadness in the world, but then God lifts our heads up and gives us A MESSAGE OF HOPE.  Would you believe that THIS is the line that was spoken in the first few minutes of the new year to me?  What is it your highness? Princess: A Message of Hope.  Each character fighting for the force in the movie believed God was protecting them enough to complete their mission.  For as long as they could they believed and they did their part.  They did die…but they each accomplished their mission…as long as they were allegiant to the Force.  My allegiance is to God wholeheartedly.  Sometimes in my circle, this creates so much conflict.  How much easier would it be to just go with the flow?  Sometimes, it’s just not a big deal and that is the better choice.  Sometimes, it is NOT.  God never betrays, never leaves, never forsakes us.  The message of the gospel never gets old to me…with each new situation I am in, every trial I face, I get to learn something new about Jesus, about myself, about the gospel.  I am so passionate about it.  The gospel brings life, newness, beauty in our lives.

My pastor told our congregation this morning to LIVE WELL.  Use your body and your soul and all yourselves for the mission of Christ.  God cares deeply not only for our souls, but our bodies too.  How can we be beacons of light if our bodies are hurting?

I tried to do that last night…eating healthy, getting rest, resting my body, resting my mind…allowing His peace to engulf me.

I am attempting to train for a marathon right now.  I can barely believe it myself.  I am excited to set my mind on a goal…a dream that I’ve had for years and one I truly believe my body can accomplish.  However, I have a little ways to go to get in that good of shape.  But, I believe I can do it and I feel motivated to do it.

Here’s to the new year and training for this marathon.  3 months until show time.

Happy New Year 2017!!!

One Semester Down!!

How relieved I am to have one semester down towards my master’s degree in teaching.  As I worked through many hurdles quite unexpectedly in the summer, and then all the due dates throughout this semester, and another great personal trial in which I was suddenly thrown into….I just feel deeply grateful for the perseverance and determination God has given me this semester.  Boy, am I grateful for a break!  I am thankful for all the ways I have been able to walk the kids through this challenging season for our family and all the time I get to spend with them.  They are my first calling and always on my mind.  Thank-you Lord for getting me through this semester and thank-you for this break.

Emma’s 9 months!

Every day’s a holiday with Emma.

She reminds us so much of Lewis when he was a baby…his twinkly eyes, his joy…his laughter…his chub…his scrumptiousness 🙂  We adore her.  She’s got her sister’s deep beautiful blues…that draw us in.  She’s a peaceful little baby.  She’s changing into an older baby now…just the other day, I noticed that she was bored with several of her toys…I knew in that moment, she had transitioned to an older baby!  She is almost sitting up 🙂  She likes to stand up with help and play with her toys on a table top.  She is attuned to her surroundings and loves connecting eyes with us…her eyes just light up and a two tooth (almost 4 tooth) smile breaks out across her sweet face.  She loves to sit and watch her brother and sister play.  They love playing with her, making her laugh, and teaching her things.  Lewis can make her laugh the best of all of us…she thinks he is so funny!  Hannah loves having a sister and calls Emma her best friend.  She loves to take care of her and be with her.  I really cannot imagine not having 3 children!  It is a dream come true.

Happy 9 month birthday Emma 🙂

 

Hugs Hannah is 4!!!

IMG_1752

This past week I took this photo of Hannah and Emma….Emma, our little strawberry shortcake, just turned 1 and Hannah, 4…their sisterly love is a treasure to my heart…

We cannot believe Hannah banana…we love nicknames 😉 …is 4!!!

Today we celebrated her birthday.  I loved spending time with sweet friends today…feeling surrounded by people who love us.  I loved seeing Hannah FULL…full of love, full of joy, bright smiles, dancing, twirling in her Elsa dress to Frozen.  I loved that daddy got to spend her birthday with her.  

Happy Birthday our dearest Hannah boo!

4 years ago, we welcomed this little girl into our lives…in an unexpected way…Hannah was transverse and try as I may to turn her through exercises, she was bound and determined to come out her own special way!  With one last prayer (and some tears), I consented to a c-section, realizing the battle was lost.  The most beautiful little baby was placed in my arms on August 28, 2010 at 8:52, 8 lbs, 0 ounces, 20 inches and 38 1/2 weeks…to term.  After having a premie, I felt so thankful and blessed to have such a healthy baby.  Daddy called her his “Daegu apple blossom” 🙂  I stared into her surprisingly blue eyes and fell in love with the daughter I had been longing for.  We named her “Hannah Grace” as Brian and I read the the story about Hannah in the Word a few days apart when praying over her name.  

Hannah is FUN, spunky, independent, creative, graceful, loves intimately, is compassionate, and loves to dance.  She adores her brother and is practically his twin..in personality traits and birth marks!  She cherishes her sister and is a wonderful little mommy to her.  She’s my little kitty and likes to crawl around and occasionally licks my face!…Her favorite character is “Elsa” and she likes to call Emma “Ana.”  She’s a very quick learner and likes to teach herself oftentimes…the girls and I love to be together and love on each other while we live “life.”

Emma’s strawberry blonde, wavy hair, with little curls on the bottom..bouncing around… reminds me she is entering toddlerhood…she is walking one hand in finger now and loves stepping out in confidence, upper lip sticking out, eyes focusing…  Her bright, sparkling eyes bring life and joy to my busy days…and her cuddles fill me up. She brings love, sweetness, and peace to our lives….her sweetness melts our hearts.  She has a different spirit about her…her face lights up as she claps and sings to worship songs, she pauses when I redirect, she is reflective and peaceful (except when eating books! 😉 ).  I simply cannot imagine life without Emma.  Her favorite book is “Smile.”

We wondered what 3 would be like…and we feel so blessed to have our home filled with 3 most precious, beautiful lives.

STRONG POET TURNS 5!!!

my favorite photo of him…"broken wing," as one gentlemen nicknamed him when he broke his arm...
my favorite photo of him placed on his “cookie cake”…for a bit, he was our “broken wing,” as one gentlemen nicknamed him when he broke his arm…
serving his sweet friends at school on his birthday
serving his sweet friends at school on his birthday

Lewis Alexander Tinklepaugh turned 5 on October 26th!!!  He was really looking forward to turning 5!!!

THIS is my Strong Poet!!!  He really is SO brave and strong.  He is an amazing kid.  The pictures here are small, and so was his birthday, but his heart is SOO BIG!!!  He is FUN and full of JOY!  He is compassionate, thoughtful, imaginative, loving, loves to build and wants to build things when he grows up, is always thinking about Jesus, has a depth of knowledgeand a boldness for Christ.  He is so romanticand sweet with me and will make an incredible husband someday to be sure.  He loves being a big brother and is so empathetic with his sisters.  He loves babies!!!  He is so excited to learn how to read right now and loves to swim and can swim a side length of a small pool on his own!  

Happy 5th our precious first!!!