Saturday, 1 August 2015

A Full Few Months

It's been a full few months here after our big move. We've celebrated two birthdays.

And the very first for the littlest Pope girl.

Who is now walking.
And talking.
Who loves to be outside.
To draw with chalk.
And give kisses.
We can't imagine life with out her.
Or any of them for that matter.
This life of moving around, and yet I've never felt more settled.
Maybe, I'm just getting older.
Perhaps, it's being closer to family.
Or just knowing that we are just where we are supposed to be.
At the pool.

Eating lots of ice-cream.

Dragging out every. single. Imaginext toy owned.

Pretending to be super heroes.
At the library.
Yes, the one with the park.

Making up for time far away.

Playing with the best cousins ever.

Almost killing each other while hitting at a piƱata.

Breathing deep in the wide open spaces.

Snuggling close.

Being silly.

And sillier.

Learning about the old.

Did I say silly?

Helping each other to see.

Admiring those old things.

Taking naps...very short naps.

Tie-dying shirts.

And some more silly.

And one handsome boy.

Trying to lotion ourselves.

Oh, and napping in the high chair. B/c who needs a bed people?!

And that sunset while painting our old kitchen table.
It's the best place to be.
It's messy.
And loud usually.
But beautiful.
And certainly amazingly grace filled.
PS: If your baby still has cradle cap after the first year of life and she puts a whole handful of lotion in her hair, do not despair, this is a good thing (for the cradle cap, I mean) b/c it will shortly dissipate. Well, after a few days of looking like you put bacon grease in her hair. Just an FYI. ;)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Mother's Day Post that's closer to Father's Day

Dearest Mothers of all stripes.

Yes, you. All of you. The ones who have it all together. And those of you that think you don't. You, who long to be the best but fall short so many times. The ones who think that well, "if I was just more organized..." And the ones that already are. You, who look at your kid(s) and wonder if ever they'll get it "right" and do I have to explain that to you again for 1.1 millionth time? The one with little(s). To the one with big(s). And you, who might just have both and everything in between. You who struggle. You who pray. You who want the very best for those big brown eyes looking, staring right into the heart of you. Mom! That's you. That is me.

Mom, you, my dear are amazing. Yes, I know that kid threw a big ol' Texas size fit at church and people were giving you that look while you tried and fought and gave him "the look." But you didn't give in. You stayed your ground. You gave firm grace.  And the other one who wants to control every single aspect of his life and everyone elses life and seems bent on being unhappy unless he is getting your way. (Maybe you have a few of those.) The girl who gets in trouble to get attention. Will that ever end? Seriously. Seriously? Seriously!!

You, mom are fearfully and wonderfully made for this task. This wonderfully, awfully-hard, most joyous job. I see you. I see that really the only other people that really get it are those of us walking through it and frankly many times we are just so bent on "fixing" each other (or each other's kids) and judging each other so much that we miss out on extending a hand. Because, really we are all just doing our best aren't we? Aren't we just doing what we think is best for those kids...that kid...that we have borrowed for such a time as this? Even that mom in the grocery store with the 8 kids running amuck. She's doing her best. I mean, she didn't wake up this morning and say, "Hey, I think for today, I'm just really going to stink at this mothering thing."

You (and she) need grace, tired Momma. And it starts at the cross. You know that don't you? You know that those kids...that kid...he didn't have to learn to lie or cheat or disobey or for heaven' sake say "no" first did he? That sweet baby girl, she's just 2 weeks away going on a year and she's already throwing her head back screaming like her hair's on fire and flailing around on the floor when she doesn't get her way.

So mom, these kids they don't need to feel better about themselves (though I know that would be the popular argument). No, these kids need you to show them to Jesus. They need the cross, mom. They need to know that when they fail...and fail they will...a lot, that the answer is not to look to themselves (or to you really) but to look to the One who bled and died for those lies, cheats, times of disobedience and all those "nos" that he gave you first.

Because here's the thing mom that I am so over: Pretending to be something that I am not. I don't have to be a super organized, Pintrest perfect kind of mom. I just have to be me. God does not want you and me to be a "successful" parent. Yes, go you read that right. He wants our SOULS...our very hearts. I don't have to look around all the time and compare. You and I don't have to have it all together. We don't have to read every article...every book...every blog post about "how to be a good and faithful parent" we need just what our kids need. Yup, you and me? We need Jesus too! We need that cross...that risen Savior!

And mom, please hear me mom...if we miss this, if we miss Jesus in our kid's lives...if our homes are organized and they take every art class and succeed in sports and have 1,000 Facebook friends and graduate with straight As and go on to college at Harvard or Stanford (or Texas Tech for that matter) and we miss Jesus then the rest is not going to matter much really. Oh, it will on this side of heaven, but it won't for eternity.

You, sweet momma, can no more save your children than I can make you believe in Him. We are NOT responsible for their salvation. Never! That is not our was finished on the cross. Oh, but my heart aches at how distracted I can be by everything else and how wrapped up I can be in the "outside of my cup" and forget about what really matters...about WHO really matters.

Mom, you live with little lives in least 18 years process (and honestly, some are going to require more than that...a lot more). Your house will be messy (especially if they are in it with you.) They are going to mess things up. You will never be organized enough. You cannot possibly meet every single need. You can not make every thing fair. That project you wanted to do will not get done. For several years, maybe. That book will go unread. You will invest in leather couches not antiques.  You will try to teach them to be responsible by helping to clean and wonder why you do this because, for the time being, it kind of creates more of a mess. You will want to give up and just give them everything and give into everything. You will struggle with what hill you are willing to "die" on (and with some of them..that is every. single. hill.) It's exhausting. It's exhilarating. It's the only job I have ever really wanted to do. And the hardest.

Don't miss it.

Don't miss it, Momma.

 The mess can wait, but their little hearts can't. 
Win their hearts with grace and point them to the One who matters most.
 Point them to Jesus.

in HIM,

kari jo

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Pride and Love and Other Stuff

I sat down a couple days ago to type out a "love" post for Valentines Day. Not getting very far into it, I laid the laptop aside for something else and then went to bed, I believe. The next day was a challenge. To love, I mean. Especially some of the little people in my life. A few days before that, the first graders and I spoke a lot about pride. I did a pretty good job (in my professional teaching opinion) talking to them about this heart issue they were having.  And then God, in his abundant grace, did an even better job of helping me to see my heart issue in relation to pride too these last few days. Yup, He's good like that.

Once I believe that I have some of the answers about something, he reminds me that I have a lot to learn. What amazing grace. What love that is. A God that cares that much. It stings a little, yes and if I'm honest a lot sometimes especially in those moments where I know what I am doing or saying or thinking is not motivated by love for Him, and I choose to do it anyway. 

Never have I been challenged in this area before as I am daily. Never have I had to choose to love so many times in a single day. Never have I had to go before Him and ask Him to love a child for me because the feeling just isn't there right that moment. Never have I had to ask for forgiveness so many times. Never have I needed Him more.

Some of you mothers will never relate to this, but maybe you can as a wife or a sister or a daughter or aunt or whatever you may be to that person or people that are hard to love. It certainly isn't the kind of "true love" that is found on most television programs or movies. It is not romantic. It isn't even really the kind that is celebrated by most on this day. It's not motivated by feelings. It is pretty messy. It is beautifully hard. Yet, it is love.

If there is love worth celebrating it is just that...isn't it friends? 
Happy Valentines Day from all us 10 crazy popes.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Serious Business

Recently, I walked down to The Spot alone. I was off to fetch a Pepsi. It's just over yonder (as my mother would say.) And in the winter it might actually take more time to get ready to go then it does to actually walk down there. 

Winter in the U.P. ain't no joke. 

It's serious business. No, seriously if it doesn't snow a lot then people are out of a job.

And so, these 10 Popes take having fun in it very. serious. :)
See lil' Naomi's face? So serious.
T was just excited he was allowed to "hold" her.
He might be on no touching orders since he likes to use his mouth as
a place to rest his fingers.
I guess it's comfy.

I do have to say that my Love is a better father than I even ever imagined could be
Simply Amazing.
Thank you Lord.


Yes, that's a one big pile-o-snow.
It's January.
I try not to think about that much.


And then there is this. 
Every week when we drop off Koen for b-ball.
The sun.
Like it's dripping off of the earth.
Simply radiant.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Call

"I think I may be crazy. You have four kids, Kari. Your life is hectic and crazy, so you are the person I thought to call," said a dear friend on the phone. I know her heart. It was a compliment. Not offended in the least, and a bit dumbfounded she would think to call lil' ol' me I said, "What's up?!" "The agency wants to place 3 kids with us. They are all under 5 years old. And I'm, well, not getting any younger." Her voice is sure, excited, and questioning. "What do you think?" she asks. "Why not?" is what I think I said, but I can't be positive.

Why not? 
I ask, as sure, excited and questioning though extremely ignorant and not really knowing it.
We usually don't know when we are do we? Ignorant, I mean.

That was almost two years ago.
 We hang up.
 I'm pretty sure she should have called someone else. 
Someone older. 
Not me.

The night the kids show up at her house, I arrive too, with jammies in hand because they did not come with any other clothes. They came from school. They are foster kids.

I see a boy. Small. With fierce blue eyes. He looks away, scared, when I say hello. The girl is blonde and blue eyed too. She is the kind of beautiful you find in magazines. She is bopping around like she had a candy bar for snack time. She says hello, and runs into her new room. And the littlest. He too, with ice blue eyes and brown hair. Just learning to walk, and unsure of his new home, he clings to his social worker as if to say, "Please don't leave me!"

After marrying Justin, I was almost certain all my children would have brown eyes. After having Hunter, our only biological child with blue eyes (like his Nana), I thought God had a since of humor. I'm now convinced that He does.

That was almost two whole years ago. The foster/adopt process took just over a year. Often when walking through a hard season, you know that it is hard but it takes looking back upon it and reaping what you've sewn a bit to see just how difficult it was. It takes just a step ahead of the hard pressed times. Right now, that is where we are a lot of the time.

I look back and think, "Whoah! That was hard!" And I'm grateful. I'm so thankful that it was hard. I'm so thankful that when people ask, "How do you do THAT?!" I can say in all was (or is) not me or my was Jesus. Every single bit of it was His grace working in our lives.

You see, I used to think that God used people that he thought capable. I just sorta laughed as I typed that, but it's true. I actually thought that God used people because they were ready for it or that it was hard and He just knew that they could get through it. No, no, the truth is that he takes the worst of people because then He gets all the glory.

He has used that woefully ignorant sideline cheerleader and given her three more children just (in part) to teach her that it certainly is not because she has it altogether, and shown her with out a shadow of a doubt that she can not do anything with out the work of His Spirit inside her. And for that girl? For me? It has had her, on my face...a lot begging for grace.

At least once a day I look out my window and tell Him that I can't do it. It's such a relief to admit. I can't do it. I'm not enough. I'll never be enough, do enough, give enough. But thanks be to God for His indescribable grace and gift in His Son....He, has done it. All of it. I don't have to be enough. He already is. I don't have to be confident in myself in my own self but can trust that he is and is also at work...taking all of my weakness and getting the glory.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The I don't know what to post, post

It seems that I have this form of writer's block where I write very witty, remarkable posts...all in my head. Oh, yes ones that you would love to read, and comment about. They just never seem to leave my head and journey down that long, weary road to my fingers. Then I actually find this speck, yes speck of time to write (ok that's not entirely true, I do have time...I just don't use it to write here all the time.) I do have a life people. Ok that's not entirely true either, at least not in the connotation I was using it in.  So then, when I do sit down to write in that speck of's gone. All. Of. It. Just gone...gone...gone...gone...gone (which BTW is a song by the group 33Miles that was my oldest son's favorite song for about 5 years...he loved it so much that I can't say the word with out trying to break out into the chorus...seriously....PTL we've moved on from that).

Anywhoo, I don't really know what to write. I want to say that I'll do a Christmas post soon and give you all a good guilt trip about giving good gifts (that was a bit of sarcasm, which is hard to detect sometimes, I know ;) ) but I can't promise that I'll just say this:

It has been quite sometime since I have had a small baby during Christmas. And I think that when Hunter was born, because he was in the NICU at first, we kind of missed Christmas. Some might argue (and when I say some, I mean me) that I was also very, very young (and still a bit green) and didn't appreciate smallness as I do now. I look at little Naomi and think of Mary holding Jesus on that long ago starry night and think about the wonder of it all. Her loving him as just about every mother loves a child, not really understanding that who she was holding would love her enough to die for her. What a captivating thought. What a good gift. The best gift of all really....

PS Compassion and Children's Hunger Fund do all have their gift catalogs up on their website now if you wanted to check them out. What a wonderful way to honor someone in your life...especially when all of us have all that we need...and a bit more. :)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Today I lived in an Alternate Universe

This is going to sound like I'm bragging. I assure you that I am not. I do have a point, promise. Just keep reading or don't and go make a smoothie (yum!) for yourself and paroose something more interesting.Otherwise here goes...and stay with me ok?

This morning I woke up at 5:30. This. NEVER. Happens. Ask my husband. He's usually up by at least 6:30. But this morning his phone alarm that rings every morning at (God help us all) 5 am, woke me up as well as my college aged neighbors (I'm certain of it) because the tone was shrieking at me loud and hard. Did I say 5 am? Ok I'm moving on...

 Now usually, I don't even hear that dreaded melody, and if I do I lovingly (ok maybe not so lovingly all the time) wonder if he is going to get up and turn it off. 9 times out of 10 he does b/c well, I'm not sure that most of me is actually alive. Today it was my turn. Plus I can't figure out how to set my heater so it doesn't feel like Hawaii inside my room at 2:30 am, so I had to go down anyway...but my lack of temp. control is another post altogether.

Moving on...

So I found out this morning that I am indeed actually alive at 5:30 and least enough to walk downstairs and make some breakfast for my husband who has to be, shortly, out the door. Oh, and I make him lunch. Not one, but two sandwiches...and a protein bar of which I did not make but did throw in a paper sack to make him feel like he was back in elementary school. I think he liked that. Sorry to all you environmentalists out there.

So lets just review here...woke 5:30--check, breakfast--check, lunch made--check, dishes unloaded--check, dishes--loaded (yes, I left them in the sink last night), laundry folded--check

And then this...

I was able to read out of the Book of John with my Love...AND the still, quiet house of ours before the two early risers tumble down the stairs wiping the sleep out of their eyes.

It all felt good. Really, really good.

I even showered these stinky boys off, made banana bread for breakfast while a third joined them to play a game of Life whilst the bread baked in the oven and I said (over and over again)..."Thousand, not million boys."

And thhhheeeennnnn,

This Pope crew gets all their school done (well, most of it) before lunch. Yes, before. And I'm starting to believe that we are in another universe where in which I get up early and get every single thing done on my list and yay, yay, YAY for me.

Or not..because...

...wait a minute. I do remember yesterday. Which just might have been filled with tears from a certain child. And another who is struggling with the idea that, nope, the wold does not revolve around you and what you want to do and yes, you do have to do ALL of your school work. Oh, and the three year old that cannot seem to find his Lego guy and lets every one know pitching it. And on goes the list....

And I'm convinced that is one reason why the Lord gives us a memory. So that we can look back and see how unrealistic our expectations of ourselves can be. I have one good day out of 7 and I EXPECT them to ALL be that way. I am frustrated when they aren't going the way I want, instead of asking for grace to peservere through what most days are: hard.

Most days are hard.
It's that simple.
And I don't like hard.
I try to do everything I can to make my life easier.
And to a certain extent that is ok, I think.
But the reality is that no matter how many children you matter where you are in your life...there are parts of it that are challenging at best.

Challenging does not feel good. Not good at all. And those pesky little feelings can steal the joy right out of those hard days. Poof! It's gone. They tell us that if we were really doing things right that things would be easier...that if we could just change this or that things would not be hard...and shouldn't be.

And are there things to implement, like actually looking at the calendar that you write things down on or bringing your list with you to the grocery store, that are helpful and sometimes necessary. Certainly. But there is no formula for getting out of every hard situation and there will be (I promise) at least a few during your day.

Things are going to get loud.
People will hurt you for no good reason.
The kids will have to be use kind words.
They will fight, argue, scream even.
Friends will fail.
Family won't understand you.
Your feelings will scream at you to just get out.

Be wise, dear friends and perhaps get out the Popsicles out in the morning (a little trick I learned from my sweet sister-in-law).

Thank you very much.

And so, I praise the Lord for today. I mean, I even have time in the middle of the day to blog...this is unheard of! I praise Him for who he is, even when most of the days are hard. For it is in those hard days that I must lean into him ever so more. I learn patience, perseverance, how to truly love, and so on.

Like right now, I better go...I think I see paper being strewn across the living room floor...perseverance, baby...perseverance ;)