I strive for this verse:

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:28-30

Friday, December 28, 2012

A long awaited adoption update

So this blog post was something I've been meaning to write since October but with soccer season, the holidays, and normal homeschooling days, I haven't found time to sit down and write about it.  So here I go...

I have always wanted to adopt since I could remember.  It is something that I feel very strongly for.  I brought it up a few times during my marriage and my husband wasn't on board with it like I was, thus we never stepped forward.  When he was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010, I was shocked when I woke up to an email from him (phone calls were very rare), stating that he felt God has made it known to him that it was time to adopt.  Of course I was overjoyed!  So we started the process, he came home in March 2011.....and I found myself pregnant the next month!  Now over the years of our marriage, we have been extremelly blessed with fertility.  I have many friends that have fertility issues and I am saddened for them but I've been very thankful for each baby God has given us.  With that, my husband has learned how to "control" when we have kids.  We would probably have a few more kids by now if my husband didn't try to control it.  Anyhow, I say that because while we weren't trying to get pregnant that month, because we had our hearts on adoption, my husband wasn't exactly controlling it either as he was just excited to be home with his bride after a year apart :)  Thus that pregnancy resulted in putting the adoption on hold, followed by a move, and the birth of our fifth child in December 2011.  We then moved again in Jan of this year and picked back up the adoption process in February.  We worked hard over the months completing the tedious paperwork, interviews, and saving money....and finally, after a few months, we were at the end just waiting for our referral.  In other words, waiting to receive a picture and notification of our daughter that we have been praying about as a family for the past 2 years!

Then towards the end of August I received and email from a friend from college, who has 3 adopted children and is an advocate of adoption.  Her email confronted us on a few things.  She questioned whether it was the right timing to adopt and whether we think it is wise to adopt an older child out of birth order rather than adopting a child as the youngest in the family.  At first, I was confused and hurt by this confrontation but my husband tried to tell me that she is bringing up issues out of love and we need to pray about it more and see if God tells us differently.  So I prayed and I felt the same so we continued waiting for our referral.  A few weeks later, an older lady in my bible study was asking me about our adoption.  She was describing me her experience with adopting a child when he was 2 years old, forty years ago and how she thought it was what God wanted her to do but now 40 years later she can finally admit it wasn't God's will for her to adopt him and her family suffered.  Her relationship with her older biological kids suffered as the child she adopted took so much of her time and energy and in the end the adopted child doesn't even talk to her anymore.  I told my husband again, and he said "Dena, maybe our friend and this other lady are confronting us because God sent them into our life at this moment to get us to see how maybe we aren't supposed to finish the adoption right now."  Immediately I disagreed and went on with my day.  A few days later I went to God in prayer and told God that my heart is too caught up in wanting to see the adoption complete, to loving a sweet girl that I have dreamed about and that if He didn't want us to adopt at this time, that I couldn't see it because of my own emotions. I prayed to Him and basically told God I will give him a fleece to give me an answer.  Hey, Gideon did it, so why not I?!  I basically said "God, I cannot distinguish between your will and my emotions so if it is not your timing for us to adopt, then I ask you to answer me by stopping the adoption.......and the only way I can see it stopping at this time is if I get pregnant.  Therefore, God, if we aren't supposed to finish this adoption, I ask that you answer me and let me know by getting me pregnant."  You have to understand that during this time, my husband was "controlling" that aspect and has been efficient over the years and when he controls it, I don't get pregnant.  When he isn't careful, I do.  So after praying that, I truly thought, well I won't get pregnant because my husband won't allow it, therefore it will prove that we are to continue with the adoption.  I didn't tell my husband at all about my prayer to God. That was until my period never came......

The morning I found out I was pregnant, I cried.  I have never cried before when I found out I was pregnant.  I didn't cry because I was upset, because I was overjoyed and surprised to have another life growing inside of me.  I cried because I knew what it meant.  That, despite my doubt, God answered my prayer exactly as I asked and confirmed to me that we weren't to finish the adoption at this time.  I mourned the loss of my daughter that I literally had dreams about.  The first 2 weeks I found out, I was a mess.  I was excited to be pregnant and carry another sweet baby into this life.....and I was heartbroken for the loss of a daughter that I've been waiting for.  Around that time I asked God, why? Why can't we adopt?  Did we misunderstand you?  Did we hear you wrong in the first time?  I then had a vision, as though God was sweetly whispering in my ear....."Dena, I called Abraham, a man of great faith, to sacrifice his only son, as a test to his love and obedience to me.....in the end, I changed the course of plans and provided a lamb when I saw that he indeed was faithful and obedient.  Likewise, I was testing you.  I knew your heart was ready, but I had to test your husband.  I was testing him to see if he would be obedient to my calling for your lives.  And he passed the test."  This vision gave me peace.  I don't feel like God is saying we won't ever adopt.  I just am confident that He has told me that now is not the right time for whatever reason.  

So where are we then on the adoption?  I spoke with our agency and put the adoption on hold until the fall of 2013.  At that point we have to let them know if we want our case closed or if we will continue on where we left off.  I have no idea what God will have us do but I'm more than ever confident that He will answer me at that point and I'll know then.  My heart is still so huge for adoption so I can't see that God would shut that down for good.  I am just opening up more and realizing it may be another way than I see, it may not be through adoption in the sense we were going about but I do believe that he will fulfill that desire of mine one day.  

I'm thankful for friends and family who have prayed for us through this process.  I'm thankful for friends who confronted me when it may have been hard to do.  I'm thankful for God answering me in the exact way I asked Him too, when I doubted He would.  For now, we will wait until God tells us to step forward to adopt and in the meantime, I will enjoy this pregnancy and rejoice in the life growing inside of me as I wait anxiously to hold this sweet baby in June 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thirty years ago, I witnessed my mom's murder....my life was forever changed.

Thirty years ago on from this day, on December 27, 1982 my precious mother was murdered in front of me by the man I called daddy.  I decided to write about the tragic day that changed my life forever.  That day I not only lost my mom, but I also lost my dad. My beautiful mother died at 24 years old.

I remember so vividly that day.  I was 3 years old and my younger brother was almost 2 years.  In my little childish mind, I thought that my mom was at the store, but it wasn't until years later in my teens that I found out that my parents were actually separated because my dad was physically abusive to my mom.  My mom apparently allowed my dad to have my brother and I for a visit at Christmas....but he never returned us to her.  So when she came to the house to get us, she obviously was upset, although I thought she had returned from the store.  I remember how my brother and I were in the bedroom napping and I awoke to my parents arguing very loudly in the living room.  I quietly came out of my room and watched them argue.  My father then angrily stormed down the hall, past me, so I followed him into the kitchen and watched him rush over to the kitchen counter and grab a big sharp knife off of the counter.  I had no idea what he was planning to do but I continued to follow him back to the living room as he was oblivious to my little feet trailing behind him.  The next thing was the most horrible thing I have ever seen as I watched my mom scream and cry and try to run for the front door while my dad ripped her shirt open in the back during the struggle, then raise his arm and stab that sharp knife into her back.  At just 3 years old, I didn't understand everything that happened but I did know that my dad just hurt my mom and I remember crying and running to my brother and wrapping my arms around him and hugging him and I remember I was confused that he wasn't also crying.  My memory goes blank and the next thing I remember was my dad pushing us onto our front steps to the arms of my favorite neighbor and he took us to his house.  At my neighbors house I could hear sirens and the adults were at the kitchen table talking and visibly upset to me and tried to distract me with toys.  However, I quietly snuck away and crawled up onto the couch and opened the curtains to look at my house.  At this exact moment, I watched emergency personal push my mom on a stretcher and slide her into the ambulance.  I started screaming, "I want my mommy!".  My neighbors rushed to me, scooped me up and hugged me and my memory fades again.

I write about my experience, not to get pity but to help you understand the pain and memories that I experienced that followed me throughout my childhood.  I had nightmares for many years and dreams of my dad trying to kidnap me.  I lived in fear.  I feared that my dad was under my bed going to stab me so I slept on my side every night thinking that he would miss my back if he tried.  I feared that he would find me walking to school and would kill me too.  I was a hurting, scared little girl.  As a side note, my dad served only 10 years in prison for my mother's murder while my brother and I were raised by my mom's brother, his wife, and their two children.  I could go on about more pain in my childhood but I am focusing on this major incident and how it changed my life.....as it drew me to my Savior. 

Fast forward 15 years and now I'm 17 yrs old and at church camp for the first time.  I grew up in a non God loving family that didn't attend church but God changed that for me when he brought a friend into my life that came from a God fearing family.  I began attending church with them and learning about God.  Now all my life up until this point, I always believed that there was a god but I was very angry at him for allowing my mom to die.  However one night that week of church camp, I truly met my Savior.  It was as though He whispered to me that He didn't allow my mom to die, but he was always with me and He loved me unconditionally.  I wept that night as I accepted His love and chose a relationship with Him.  Yet, all the pain, anger, memories, nightmares continued on into my first year of college.  I was still having nightmares of my dad in college.  I still was sleeping on my side in fear of him under my bed.  I knew none of it was possible but I still lived in the fear of the 3 year old.  

But this is where it all gets exciting!!  The nightmares did stop!  They stopped when the pivotal moment of forgiveness entered my life.  During that first year of college, I grew closer in my relationship with God and He was pressing on my heart that I won't experience true healing until I can truly forgive my father for what he had done.  I realized in a new way that just as God forgives me of my sins, I have to forgive those who sinned against me, including my father.  And at that moment I came to a place in my heart that I was able to relieve all of the pain and anger to God and allow his healing.  I tracked down my father's address and found out that he was back in prison on a different account.  I sat down and wrote him a letter to tell him I forgive him and a good friend prayed with me and prayed over the letter before I sent it.  He wrote back to me and the moment I received that letter, I was scared again and had to pray that God will calm me down and take away my fear.  We continued to write back and forth that year and then during the summer of 1999, I went to the prison that he was at, at age 19yrs and met my father for the first time since I watched him take my mother's life.  It was strange but healing.

I can honestly say from the moment that I truly forgave my father for his actions, the nightmares went away.  The true fear I had disappeared.  I no longer was scared of knives.  It was amazing to be healed of all this because I thought they would never stop.  It is because of God.  God has truly changed my life for the better.  He is my comforter, my healer, my daddy.  I came to His feet because of the pain I experienced 30 years ago and while I wouldn't ever want to relive what happened to my mom, to my brother, or to me on that dark day, it helped shape who I am.  It brought me to Jesus.  I understand forgiveness in a deeper way because I was able to give forgiveness to someone who hurt me so much.  I don't hold onto the pain or hurt anymore.  It is my story.  My mom died because of a man who allowed sin to control him, a man who didn't know Jesus.  It wasn't what God planned for because he allows free will, but He used that situation to help shape me into who I am.  Because of my experience, I have been able to reach out to others in pain and share with them God's amazing healing power when you turn to Him.  I have a huge heart to adopt which was shaped because of the experience I have loosing my parents and finding Jesus as my true father. Jesus took what man meant for bad and turned into good.  My savior can do this and he did it with me in my life.  If I didn't watch my mom die 30 years ago, I'm not sure if I would have a relationship with Jesus to this day.  So for that, I'm thankful that God drew me to Him when I needed his love and comfort.  

Thank you Jesus for being my Savior, lifting me from the darkness, allowing me to forgive, and loving me.

My beautiful mother on her wedding day, in 1978.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

First Day of School 2012-2013

We are into our new school year and this year we have a middle schooler in the house!!  Josiah is now in 6th grade!  I can't believe it!  He is also only 4 1/2 in shorter than me so I'm sure he will be growing taller than me within this school year.  Malachi is in 4th grade and Aliyah is in 2nd grade.  Yes, Aliyah was in K last year but she has past her way into 2nd grade work this year, although she is about a middle of 3rd grade reading level.  She isn't smarter than her brothers.....she just started earlier because of her desire to be like them.  One thing we will be focusing on with all the kids this year is SPELLING!  They all read way above their grade level and their vocabulary is great.....but their spelling....well...not so great.  I've never really used much of a spelling program so far but have a few things I plan to try this year.  I look forward to my 7th year of homeschooling and having my kids at home with me as we learn together and grow in our relationships together in amazing ways that being at home nurtures.  It will be an exciting year! Make sure you go to the end of this post and read the kids questionnaires.....very cute!

Introducing.....the Carr kids

Sweet baby Elias, 8 1/2 months

technically, this picture was not taken on the same day but was taken the same week and it was too cute to resist!

Judah 2 1/2 yrs, the pre-preschooler :)
the younger boys playing

He is drawing with chalk at his school desk and said "mommy, look, veggie tales"  He tried to draw larry the cucumber from veggie tales.  I think we have an artist in the family!  

He crumbled up his paper.
 Aliyah, the second grader, 6 1/2 yrs old.

 Malachi the fourth grader, 8 yrs ....almost 9 yrs old.
 Josiah, the sixth grader, 10 1/2 yrs old

 I just love these kids!!!

Pictures of our school room:

First Day of School Questionnaire:

I am 59 1/2 in tall and weigh 75.8 lbs.
My best friend is: God.
My favorite thing to play is: magick (magic).
My favorite color: red
My favorite book:  The Hobbit
My favorite T.V. show:  Wipe Out
My favorite food:  I don't know
When I grow up, I want to be: be a misonare (missionary)
Something I really like: reading
Something I really don't like: breaking a tailbone
My favorite thing about myself:  I'm fast
Something I want to do this year: run 8 miles

I am 56 in tall and weigh 80.8 pounds.
My best friend's name is:  Molly, Iziah, and Tiller (tyler)
My favorite thing to play: magi's
My favorite color:  blue
My favorite book:  a star wars book
My favorite T.V. show: ant farm
My favorite food:  anchata (enchilada)
When I grow up, I want to be: be in the army
Something I really like: to do is play soccer.
Something I really don't like: cats.
My favorite thing about myself: lots of stof (stuff).
Something I want to do this year:  is go to Jamestown.

I am 47 1/2 inches tall and weigh 47.8 pounds.
My best friend's name is: Bree, Molly, Andi
My favorite thing to play: littlest pet shop
My favorite color: prple (purple).
My favorite book: jak and ane (Jack and Annie-Magic Treehouse series).
My favorite T. V. show: wip ayt (Wipe Out).
My favorite food: bays frensh toste (daddy's french toast)
When I grow up, I want to: arme grle (army girl)
Something I really like: my momy (mommy)
Something I really don't like: clening ap bog pope (cleaning up dog poop)
My favorite thing about myself: I lik raning (I like running)
Something I want to do this year: go to grte wofl lage (go to great wolf lodge)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

more summer pics

I'm getting so frustrated with this new blogger stuff.  I just posted tons of pictures and so many never posted....arghhh....so here are the ones that didn't upload the first time.

33 Random Things about me.....on my 33rd birthday.

Today is my 33rd birthday.  I decided to come up with 33 random things about myself.  How much did you know about me or how much were you surprised to learn?

33 Random Things About Dena

1.       I have grey hair. Lots of grey hair.  I’ve been getting grey hair since I was 18 yrs old.  

2.       I’ve always wanted to be a redhead.  My brother has red hair, my biological mother had red hair, and my grandmother had red hair.  I was blessed with brown hair.  Now I dye it red, to cover the grey.

3.       I started college at 17 yrs old and graduated early, in 3 ½ years with a double major at 21 yrs old.

4.       My maiden name is Darr.  My married name is Carr.  I moved up in the alphabet.

5.       I love to kiss my children’s feet until they are about 5 years old.  Don’t judge me.

6.       I would rather not shower for a week while backpacking than dress up and attend a fancy dinner.

7.       I have run 3 marathons (26.2 mi) and two 50 k (31mi) races.  I plan to run a 50 miler before I turn 34 yrs and hopefully a 100 miler before 35 yrs. 

8.       I don’t run to loose weight or to get in shape.  I run because I love running and find it amazingly freeing, exhilarating, and sometimes painful.  When it is painful, I train harder and it becomes easier.

9.       I prefer the mountains over the beach any day.

10.   I am competitive.  I love competing with my husband, who is also very competitive. Sometimes it is playful, sometimes it gets dirty but we always drive each other to reach our potential.  However, my biggest competitor is myself.

11.   I have a horrible singing voice.  I sing to my children in strange, silly ways just to make them laugh. 

12.   I am self-conscious about my body.  Even though I am skinny, by other’s measures, I’m just like all other moms that struggle with body image.  

13.   I watched two people die in my life, my mother and my uncle.

14.   I want to complete an ironman triathalon one day.  I love running, I enjoy biking, and I only swim when I’m injured and can’t run. 

15.   I used to cook hamburger helper meals and boxed cake and brownie mixes early in my marriage.  I refuse to cook from a box and try to make most things homemade including yogurt, bread, all cookies, cakes, brownies, granola bars, soups, etc.

16.   My husband is a better cook than I am and I’ve become a better cook because of him.  I love when he cooks for me.

17.   I am intrigued by the Amish community and would love to live like them.

18.   I grind my own wheat and make my own laundry soap.

19.   I love facial hair on my man.  However he has not been allowed to have any most of our married life because of jobs.

20.   I love spicy foods.  I think my father in law loves me because I love spicy foods J

21.   I love being a wife and mom more than anything.

22.   I ask a lot of questions.  I annoy people with my questions but the only honest ones to tell me that I’m annoying is my husband and brother Andrew.

23.   I love watching my kids play soccer.  I wish I played soccer when I was a kid.

24.   The first time I ate Indian food, I thought it was disgusting.  It is one of my favorite types of food.  It may just be my favorite food now.

25.   I like most fish but dislike all other seafood much to my husband’s dismay.

26.   I would love to climb K2 one day.  Everest is too popular.  Maybe one day when my kids are grown and I have lots of money to do it.  If I climb K2 one day, I will probably die by freezing to death.  I dislike being extremely cold.  I get cold very easy.

27.   I am supposed to wear glasses but don’t.  I don’t wear contacts either.  I just don’t drive in the dark and it works for me.

28.   I’m not afraid to fart in front of my husband. 

29.   I love horses.  I find them healing.

30.   I’m not very tall.  Only 5’4. I didn’t have much luck with my biological father standing at about 5’2 or 5’3. 

31.   I run in vibram 5 finger shoes.  I won’t wear traditional running shoes again.

32.   My favorite vegetable is a potato because of the taste and versatility.  I love them baked, mashed, fried, and in soups.

33.   I am passionate about a few things including: homeschooling, homebirths, running, making things homemade, and adoption.

Summer Update (May-August)

It has been a very long time since I've updated this blog....a whole 5 months!  So much has taken place in that timeframe so I'll try to recap in this post what has been going on.

May:  I had a great mothers day, as I have the sweetest kids.  Aliyah lost her first tooth this month!  We went camping Memorial  Day weekend and got to use our new backcountry kitchen!  It came in handy by keeping food on shelves and off of the ground.  I loved having a sink to use too.  I got to use our dutch oven a little bit and made a quiche, pizza, and brownies in it!  Also this same weekend, we woke up to a text from Frank's brother Daniel letting us know that their first daughter was born!  We now have a new niece, with a sweet name of Cadence!

June: I dyed my hair red!!  I have always wanted to be a redhead and finally did it and love it!  The highlight of this month was when Frank's dad and stepmom stopped in for a quick visit.  We had a blast those few days that they were here!  We took them to the beach and enjoyed visiting at home as well.  This time, the water at the beach was much warmer.  

July:  Frank's maternal grandmother Anne, died suddenly of a heart attack at the beginning of the month about 3 hours after meeting President Obama when he ate at her restaurant.  She was a sweet lady and very hard working.  We went to her funeral and got to spend some time with family that Frank hasn't seen in many many years, including cousins and their kids.  We also go to spend some time with his mom and meet our niece Cadence.  After the funeral, we stopped in PA for a few days and got to see my sister and her family again, along with my older brother Mike and his family and my parents.  Seeing Mike and my parents was the first time in 3 years!  Crazy!  It was great to see everyone and I wish we didn't live so far from family.

August:  Not much went on this month, just homeschool planning for me and Frank was gone with his JLOTS mission for work.  The major thing this month was that we completed our dossier and sent it to our agency!!  We are officially now just waiting for our referral!!

As we are into September now, I'll be posting new pictures and such of the kids beginning their new school year.  At this moment we are currently at Great Wolf Lodge enjoying the waterpark.  It is after 9pm and I'm in the hotel with the two little ones sleeping, while Frank and the big kids are playing a magiquest game.We found a homeschooling coupon deal in which we were able to book 2 nights at GWL for about 60-70% off the normal cost so we decided to pack up some food and spend my birthday (tomorrow) here and enjoy one last big thing this summer!  Frank has these 2 weeks off so we are enjoying some time together!  This past weekend we were blessed with a free trip to the outerbanks of NC for a marriage retreat.  All of our lodging and meals were covered along with childcare during the meetings.  The seminar we watched was called "laugh your way to a better marriage".  It was hilarious and so great!  I highly recommend it to all married couples!  The speaker is a Christian pastor and is so stinking funny and doesn't try to make men be women, which I see too often with marriage seminars.  Anyhow, it was great!  We also had some free time and got to enjoy some great beach time with the kids :)

So here are some of my favorite pictures from this summer.  Enjoy! Oh, and some of the pictures I thought I added but they never uploaded so I had to add them again in the end, so they are out of order.  Oops!

Aliyah with cousin Cadence

 Aliyah with Frank's cousin's daughter, Kamari.

Maggie with her sweet baby.

Malachi and cousin Daniel

Josiah and Daniel

One of my BFF, Amber and her son Isacc

Judah and cousin Abby

Andrew, Amber and our little boys

Aunt Stacy reading to the little ones :)

Aliyah with her cousins Daniel and Devan

My cousin Stevie, sister Stacy, and myself

My cousin Stevie and her sweet girls and my aunt Kathy

Elias with grandma (my mom)

My niece Lydia and nephew Gavin (brother Mike's kids)