Sunday, May 28, 2017

Kent's Story

Kent's Version of Our Call to Ethiopia  (To hear Jen's version, click here.)
A few weeks ago, I accepted the Director position at Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  We will be moving in January and stay for at least four years.  If you had told me two years ago that we would be moving to Africa, I would have never believed you.  Over the past year and a half, God has moved mightily in my life and heart to prepare me for this opportunity.  The following is a brief overview of the journey God has taken me on. 

In November 2015, the men in our community group were going through a marriage study called You and Me Forever by Francis Chan.  There was a particular chapter in this marriage study that God used to convict me of my lack intentionality in living on mission for Him.  I distinctly remember confessing to the men sitting in my living room, “Guys, this might be the most convicted I have ever been in my entire life.”  This conviction extended much farther than a specific job or location in the world.  It was a change in my thinking.  Was all of my time, talents, and treasures clearly focused on God’s mission?  I’m not sure I will ever be able to fully say yes.  However, I wanted to make sure that my life’s trajectory is one that is being more aligned with God’s mission.

Three months later, I took a trip with one of my mentors to Ethiopia.  We spent several days meeting with Ethiopian church leaders as well as speak at an international high school basketball tournament held at Bingham Academy.  Though I have been on numerous short term mission trips, this one was different.  First of all, this trip completely destroyed my stereotypes of Africa and my misunderstandings of what God was doing there.  I was amazed at the vibrancy of the Ethiopian Church.  I was blown away by the incredibly gifted, Spirit-filled leaders of the Church.  I was challenged by their devotion to the Lord.  I was humbled by their hunger to be trained in Biblical truth.  I was overjoyed by the fruitfulness of ministry that was happening.  Matthew 9:37 kept repeating in my mind when Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  Secondly, I left the trip with a renewed sense of personal purpose.  I had been in season of life where I was struggling with clarity of what I should be doing.  I returned to the U.S. with an affirmation of my pastoral heart and desire to help equip the body of Christ.   I couldn’t help but feel compelled that my time, talents, and treasures needed to align with what God was already doing in Ethiopia.  I thought this probably meant two or three trips a year to Africa, but little did I know what God had in store.  As I got home and shared with Jenni (my wife) about what God was teaching me, we began to pray daily for God show us where He might be leading us.

I immediately restarted my seminary courses.  One of the most impactful courses was Introduction to Missiology (aka Missions).  It was during this class that I realized that what I was experiencing was actually a missionary call.  I didn’t have a “burning bush” moment or hear an audible voice from God.  I didn’t feel like some elite, super-Christian like I expected to feel.  Though I had a new passion for Africa (Ethiopia in particular), it was different than I had expected.  My professor described the missionary call as “an awareness of the needs and commands, a passionate concern for the lost, a commitment to God, the Spirit’s gifting, your church’s affirmation/blessing/commissioning and an indescribable yearning that motivates beyond all understanding.”  This summarized what God had slowly been doing in my life.

In January 2017 I heard about the Director position at Bingham Academy opening up. Over the course of the next few months of prayers, emails, applications, and Skype interviews, both Jenni and I have been blown away by the God moments throughout this journey.  Here are some of the moments:
·      As I was told of the job opportunity, I spent the morning with the Lord to see if this was something I should pursue.  During this time, I made a list of five questions I had in regards to the position.  I asked God if this is something I should pursue, I needed a majority of those questions to be answered with a yes.  Over the next couple of weeks, four and a half were answered with a yes! 
·      As I received the job description, I was amazed by the alignment of the job and my gifting and experiences.  It was like the last six years had been purposefully designed to help prepare me for this opportunity.
·      The similarities between Bingham and Briarcrest (my current school) are eerie at moments.
·      During my last 20 minutes in Ethiopia before heading to the airport, I “happened” to run into the SIM Director of Ethiopia who I will now ultimately report to.
·      During my trip to Ethiopia, I had spent three days on Bingham’s campus, meeting many of the faculty, staff, and students.
·      Incredible undeserved favor in the eyes of the many decision-makers who God used to choose me for this position.
·      Immense affirmation from many key American and Ethiopian friends when hearing of this opportunity. 

Being Director of Bingham Academy will allow me to utilize my educational leadership experience while strategically placing us in a geographical position that fits in line with the calling I feel I have.  Please pray for us right now as we prepare for the next four years of our life!  In particular, please pray for the following:
·      That our journey would not be glorifying ourselves, but totally point to the Lord.
·      Our ability to process, communicate, and handle all the emotions that we are experiencing.
·      Our preparation and selling of our home and possessions would happen in a timely manner.
·      That we could raise the necessary funds needed as we are on the field.

·      That God would provide both housing and finances for the next six months during the transition to Ethiopia.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Words I Never Thought I'd Say...

So the backstory begins last February when Kent went on a trip to Addis Ethiopia with a great friend and our former pastor, Ernie. Ernie and his family had lived there for 2 years and started a discipleship ministry there. They have since have moved to Houston, Tx, but Ernie takes frequent trips back and wanted to bring Kent with him. So Kent took a week off work, flew by himself to Addis where he met Ernie and joined him in ministry. He got to speak at a sports tournament at the international christian school in Addis, sit in on some meetings with christian pastors and leaders, and see how God is moving in that country. He left feeling stirred towards the people there but unsure of what it really meant. He also was taking a seminary class at the time-missiology (study of missions) which was also shaping him and messing with him about God's heart for the nations. At this time, I'm just thinking, "Oh great, Kent is going to want to move overseas. God, you had better REALLY work on me because I do not want to move to another country!" I was definitely hoping this new passion in Kent would diminish and life would go back to normal. But it didn't.

The next few months we committed to pray that if God wanted our family to move somewhere, that He would make it clear and that we would be willing. God was really purifying my heart in this time, testing me and checking me to see what worldly things I was holding too tightly and if I'd be willing to give up my comforts and follow Him where he leads. It was a good test of faith and I hoped that was all it was, a time to fix my eyes back on Christ and stop turning to other things to seek satisfaction or comfort, a time to humble myself before him and see if I really do believe He is enough, and that his kingdom is the most important thing.

In February, Ernie called Kent and let him know that there was a position opening at the international school in Addis. We both thought this was a little crazy. The school is very similar to Briarcrest and Kent has a great job already at Briarcrest, so why move us across the world to do the same job in a third world country?  But we prayed about it and said that when they posted the position, we would see what it entailed and if it seemed to really fit him. When we saw the job description, we both could not believe how well it described Kent. Not only his skills and giftings but his passions and experiences made him a perfect fit. He spent some significant time with the Lord and felt God gave him a big vision for how he might be used there. His excitement grew and he filled out the application with great anticipation. There were 3 phases of interviews starting that February. On April 24th, we got an email saying that he was their top candidate and after presenting him to the school board May 11th, we got an email saying they wanted him for the job! They had also felt God clearly leading Kent to this position and shared our excitement for how God was at work in it all.

So needless to say...we will be moving to Addis, Ethiopia!

Lots of tears and good conversations have happened through this process. We are both torn up to leave this place we have called home for the last 6 years and of course this country that we love. God has provided us a wonderful church, sweet community, great job and school for the kids and the chance to live near our parents. I have been challenged to praise God in the sadness, because it means he has truly blessed us with so many people and things we love. We love the house that he provided for us 6 years ago. From newly weds to a family of 5, the noise, mess, and love in this house has tripled. But God's faithfulness these past 6 years only strengthens my confidence that he will be faithful to us in the next 6. He goes above and beyond all we could ask or imagine. Won't he do it? (Shout out, KV!)

When we told our kids, my picky 3 year old said, "Is the food good?" Yikes, she is in for a rude awakening. 

My 4 year old said, "Well if God is telling us to go, we have to obey because if we don't obey Him, we don't know Him." Wow. Preach, sister! Her precious heart is excited for the chance to share Jesus' love and forgiveness with people who haven't heard the good news.

So what's the plan? Well, here's all we know right now. The school is run by a mission organization called SIM. Everyone who works at the school is a missionary, most are SIM missionaries. So we are starting the process of missionary training. We have lots of paperwork, interviews and trainings in North Carolina to attend between August and October. We will figure out what to do with our house, cars and stuff in the meantime, probably moving out sometime this summer. We will start fundraising and tying up loose ends and leave in the beginning of January 2018. I am so grateful we have this time to process, prepare, and transition into this new adventure. I am not very good with change and don't handle stress well, so God knows it has to be a gradual process for me. He will take care of each step along the way and we are leaning into him as he is guiding us on this journey! And I am so thankful to marry a man who is led be the Lord and is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It gives me great peace as he leads our family.

We would love for you to follow us along the way (you can subscribe to this blog or follow my instagram at jenniaustell) and join us in praying for all God wants to do.

To hear Kent's version of the story, click here.

Feel free email Kent at if you want to receive email updates. Thank you for loving us and caring for us! More to come!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Celebrating Savannah's milestones!

TOTAL 3rd kid problems! I have not kept up with blogging AT ALL and have not recorded Savannah month by month as I have the other 2. (LOVE YOU Savannah!) So here's my quick update!

In September, she turned 3 months old. The big kids were getting into the swing of school and Savannah started becoming MUCH more aware of what was going on around her. She had a hard time napping, not wanting to miss out on anything. She mastered rolling over but didn't want to be put down much at all.
In October, we celebrated her turning 4 months old, as well as her first Halloween. We put together some last minute costumes from the dress up box, and she wore her silly monster hat and onesie as we trick or treated with church friends.
At 5 months old, we celebrated Thanksgiving at Aunt Joy's, as usual. It was so wonderful spending the whole day with beloved family and although she did NOT nap, you made it through the long day like a champ. Since about 3 months old, she has not been good at sleeping in other places. 

She got time with her cousin Ty, who is a week younger! 
She also fought through some rough nights as her two bottom teeth started to pop through!

As she figured out how to sit up better, we thought we'd test out the swings at the park one day. She loved it! (It has been the strangest winter in Memphis, mostly super mild.)

At 6 months, we tried to start you on baby food, of which you did NOT like. We still didn't have you on a schedule, since I am usually out and about all morning. You stopped falling asleep in your car seat like you always had before, but started taking better crib naps. You can say mama and dada.

At her 6 month appointment: growing well, long and lean like her daddy!

This month we flew to Chicago for a quick weekend so I could catch up with some of my childhood friends and they could meet Savannah. She did great on the flights and my heart was encouraged and refreshed from sweet time with friends. (On the plane she actually slept ON ME in the ergo! This never happens anymore!)
Saw best friend Kara and her kids
Saw best friend Kendra and her twins

We had a wonderful Christmas this year with our crew. It is so magical having little ones take in the holidays with so much wonder and joy! This year was triple the fun! The big kids got roller skates (favorite present even though they basically walk in them). KJ saw her first real movie with me, Trolls, and is mildly obsessed. She got a huge troll doll from uncle drew.

In January of 2017, Savannah turned 7 months old. She sleeps 6:30pm-6:30am. I'll feed her (still EBF) and she will go back down for another hour or so. She wakes in the night on occasion, and I just feed her and she goes back down. I figure she could use the extra calories. She mastered crawling although she doesn't like to play independently for more than a couple minutes. She wants me to sit right down with her and fusses if I try to go do anything else. (Very attention needy!) I basically have to hold her all day in my left hand and do stuff with my right hand, or wear her in the backpack. She takes 2 naps if I am actually home in the morning to put her down around 10. Otherwise it's one nap around noon after I pick up the big kids from school.

8 months Old (February) and pulling up on everything! Starting to love food, mostly when she can feed herself. Still nursing 5 times a day. We are hoping to make it till 12 months old. She rarely does a bottle, I wish I had done it a little more with her, especially since I am going away for a weekend in March. We had fun celebrating Valentines day with the girls and they thought it was so special that we wrote them a heart every day that said one thing we loved about them. They couldn't wait for their heart each night and stuck it on the door for decoration.

We started track season this month and mine and Kent's mom watches the girls every day. I have enjoyed that time with the Briarcrest kids and love being out on that track, but with my other two in school in the mornings, I'm a little sadder to leave them in the afternoons. But I am SO thankful they get time each week with their amazing grandmothers! My parents also left for Italy for 2 weeks to visit my sister this month!

And now she is up to date! 9 months old on March 8th. She is cruising and wants to walk! She is into everything, putting everything in her mouth, playing with plugs and outlets, tupperware, everything that is not a toy. I have yet to take her to the doctor because I totally forgot she needs a 9 month appointment. We are on spring break right now, so it is AMAZING that Kent is home more (and I can actually write this blog haha!). We did our taxes, fixed some house projects, spent some family time together and just relaxed. Once school starts up on Monday, we hit the ground running with track meets and the rest of the year FLIES by!

That's all for now! Hopefully I'll have another update before 9 months goes by again!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Baby #3, the birth story of Savannah Faith

Of course this pregnancy seemed to go much quicker than the first 2. Life seems crazy with 2 busy toddlers.  I felt horrible first trimester, as usual, but even worse than I did with the other two. This alone is why I do NOT want to get pregnant again and go through those first 7 weeks of nausea and migraines. (But then I look at my sweet little preshy and think, "HOW can this be my last one?!" So who knows!). I did have a few good weeks during second trimester and into the spring. I felt SUPER tired 3rd trimester and was coaching track every day with long track meets in the hot sun, sometimes 3 days/week. But I kept active and was able to run & lift with my track girls & on my own up until she was born. My body was achy more and more as I got bigger. I gained about 20lbs, a bit more than my other 2 pregnancies and definitely felt that she was a bigger baby, although the doctor insisted she was only going to be 7.5lbs. Nope! 8.13lbs! (You always feel good when people ask "are you sure you aren't having twins?" #whatnottosaytoapregnantwoman
).  My sweet husband gave me foot rubs often and I didn't have as many calf cramps at night as in the past. Sleeping is always tough for me during pregnancy. And God sure makes you SO ready to deliver that baby. The discomfort supersedes the fears you may have of the actual delivery. 

I was naturally the least anxious going in to the delivery this time around. I was scheduled to be induced a few days before her due date and only felt minor contractions leading up to that day. My doctor said I was pretty effaced and about 1.5cm dilated the week leading up to this. I now know what they mean by experiencing "lightening". This was the first time I felt like she might fall out of me; the pressure was so great. But we woke up at 5:00am on Wednesday June 8th to head to Germantown Methodist hospital and meet our 3rd baby girl. They started Pitocin around 6:30am and the doctor came in at 9:00 to break my water. I knew better this time than to wait til contractions got bad so we quickly got the epidural after my water broke. Contractions came on quick after that and I was so thankful to be able to rest and feel relaxed for the first time in 9 months. I slept off and on while Kent studied and worked on seminary. About 12pm I was checked and at 7cm. They guessed it would be 3 more hours til I could push, but an hour later, I started to feel strong contractions. I could feel my legs again and knew the epidural was wearing off. I started feeling SUPER nauseous (which I typically do after an epidural) and asked for some nausea medicine. The nurse came in to check me and said I was a 9.5 but The doctor was delivering a baby next door and didn't know how long it would take. They sent the anesthesiologist back in, who gave me a huge dose of epidural meds and that knocked me out completely. I could hardly form words, I felt so drugged. Just then, the doctor came in and said, time to push! We were all frustrated that he re-dosed me and gave me SO much when I was so close to pushing. At this point I said, "I'm too tired." And closed my eyes. I just wanted to sleep. They convinced me to try pushing, though I could feel absolutely nothing. And by God's grace I pushed that baby out. Savannah Faith was born quickly after, around 1:00, 8.1 lbs and 21" long. 

She was perfect! I was so thankful to hear her little cry. I tried to hold her but was still so out of it I could barely sit up. They cleaned her up as I closed my eyes to rest and let the epidural wear off again. It wasn't until 5:00 that I started to feel normal again and could really bond with her, and shortly after we let all our family in to meet her. It wasn't the greatest way I wanted to meet my baby, super drugged and sleepy, but the labor was pretty short & painless, minus a short spurt of extreme contractions, and I didn't tear at alll, even though she was such a big baby. So we were praising God and really enjoyed our evening and the next day of bonding with our 3rd little princess. What a sweet sweet gift and I cannot get over how perfect she is. 

We left the hospital the next day and enjoyed reuniting with our girls. I was going on long morning walks starting the day after and I always feel like this helps me recover quickly. I stopped bleeding mostly after 2 weeks and started running again at 3 weeks (just a few miles easy) because I felt so good. I always have a weak back after giving birth and last pregnancy my back went out a few weeks after. Kent warned me to be careful picking things (and babies up)?and I have tried to be...But today, leaning over to click the car seat into the van, my back went out again. It's a nerve deal, I'm pretty sure, but is pretty painful for at least a few days. So here I lay in bed, unable to pick up anything let alone bend over. hoping for a quick healing (pray for my hubby who now has to take care of 4 girls on his weekend off work!). 

At 3 days old, we had a newborn photographer come to the house, Angela Watson. She was so sweet and started photography just as a mom of 2 newborn who couldn't afford to pay for a photographer. So she is super reasonable and very talented. We loved our pictures. I didn't do this with my other 2 (which I regret!) but knew baby #3 wouldn't get near as many baby pics as the other 2, so I figured we would do this to make up for it (#3rdkidprobs).  Here are some of the photos she took. 

At 6 weeks now, Savannah still sleeps most of the day; she is especially out til around noon, then she will doze on and off. She doesn't love to be laid down on her back. She wants to be held if she isn't asleep, which is quite hard to do with 2 toddlers (is a 4 year old still a toddler? I can't believe Kennedy just turned 4!). My poor 3rd baby gets held so much less than my other two, and is so often laying in her swing or car seat for hours. But for the most part, she is pretty content (again, she still sleeps so much it's hard to know). And the older two are sweet big sisters and will love entertaining her when she starts waking up more. 

She eats every 2.5-3 hours and nurses like a pro. We have had no problems nursing and I'm super thankful. She gained 1.5lbs at her 2 week appointment and at 2 months, I'll get to see how well she is gaining. Her biggest awake time happens to be when Kent and I are ready to crash, from about 9-11:30pm. She is a bit high maintenance at that point, fussy and agitated. We think her stomach is upset (or its colic. Like my other 2!). But when we finally get her down around 11:30/12, she sleeps almost through the night. A number of times she didn't wake till 6 or 7am. 

She loves to sleep on her side in bed with us (my other 2 kids NEVER slept in bed with us!) I let her nap with me like that and also let her fall asleep like that at night til she is finally really asleep and I can move her to her rock & play. She likes to hold her paci between her hands & I know she is truly asleep when it falls out and she doesn't fuss for it. I'll be so thankful when her bedtime bumps up to 8:00!

She started smiling about a week ago and of course it melts my heart! I think she may have curly hair; it is too short to really tell but the ends seem to curl up a bit. I don't know if her eyes will be blue. They are a dark grayish color right now. I thought I may finally have a non-spitter  but I was wrong. A week ago, she started really spitting up more, but not as bad as my other two who lost half their meal every time I burped them. 

But, we are making it as a family of 5! There are super stressful moments of course and I lose my patience a lot quicker than before, being more tired 
and worn thin.  But God is gracious and my heart is so full! Love the family God has blessed me with!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Brooklyn is TWO!

So I feel horrible I haven't been keeping up with this blog for my babies. I really do want to record glimpses of their baby/toddler/growing up years so i (and they) can look back and remember. It goes SO FAST. (I am already grieving my newest little leaving the newborn stage, let alone my middle becoming 2!) but my laptop is maybe 12 years old and about to completely die out, so my blogging (or lack thereof) takes place on my iPhone these days. Plus, of course the more kids you have, the harder it is to keep up what you started when you just had one. At this point, I'm striving to keep everyone alone!

That being said, I want to try to capture my Brookie at 2 years old. 

Brooklyn Grace, you are hilarious. You act shy and bashful around new people and give strangers such a grumpy face. But at home, you are such a goofball.
 You and KJ are so silly together and we love hearing you guys laugh & play. That has made the transition from 2 to 3 kids so much easier than 1 to 2 was. 

You imitate everything Kennedy says and does and are just as talkative and loud as she is, even louder, I think. Since you guys have been in the same room, you stay up late and keep KJ awake because of your constant talking. You also get out of bed repeatedly, despite multiple spankings. Nights have become a bit stressful and although I love the idea of you and KJ sharing a room, I would not have moved you together until later, had we not needed the crib for baby #3.  Since KJ rarely naps anymore and you still need one, I put you back in the baby room in your crib and you will nap 3 hours! It is a huge blessing because mama can rest with the baby as KJ has her room time. 

You love to dress up & accessorize like your sister and insist on wearing dresses as much as possible. Only 2 pairs of shoes fit your chubby feet, but you will clomp around in fake high heels all day long. You put all your random toys in separate bags and purses or in your shopping cart and walk around the house, leaving a trail of things everywere. But I will say, you are a pretty good helper most of the time, happy to set the table, empty the dishwasher or clean up toys, when the mood hits you. You also help us get diapers and wipes for Savannah and often ask to help hold her and burp her. 

You love to rough-house with us, tackling your older sister, sitting on anyone who is laying on the ground, jumping on couches, climbing on everything and everyone. You never say your sorry when you hurt someone. Even if it was an accident, you will NOT say it. This is an example of your extreme stubbornness. You want to do everything by yourself (which at times drives me crazy; when we are running late or on a tight schedule and you take twenty minutes to dress yourself or put on your shoes, ultimately asking for help anyway or proudly wearing your shirt on backwards.) You have responded well lately to time outs for pouting and whining, and it has diminished the fits quite a bit. But You often hesitate when we ask you to do things and get spankings frequently for delayed obeying or disobeying. I pray God uses that stubbornness to be a bold leader, strong in your convictions and not easily persuaded to follow the wrong crowd. I do pray God gives you a tender submissive heart to repentance of sin and obedience to Him. 

I have been happily surprised to see a gentler side of you when it comes to your baby sister.  You have never been rough with her or jealous of her for one second. You really love her and kiss and hold her often. You play with your baby dolls a lot too, rocking them and changing them and sweetly putting them to bed. You love music and singing, and your little voice and mispronounciation of words is my favorite thing right now.  
You won't pay attention to us reading books very often but will sit and pretend to read them yourself. You suddenly love to pray; over meals, boo boo's or before bedtime. It is the sweetest. 
I look at you and just thank God for the blessing you are. I love your huge curls, often messy face, mismatched outfits and chubby thighs. I love your hugs and kisses, your big blue eyes, your laugh and silly "cheese" face when taking pictures. You are my little helper, my strong ox, a sweet big sis and daddy's girl. We sure love you!!! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holidays & life happenings

Much needed/overdue family update:

Brooklyn is 1.5 years old! She is silly, loving, snuggly, wiggly, stubborn, and ambitious. She is shy whenever she enters a new place or meets new people but warms up after a bit.
She LOVES her sister, and they play so well together most of the time. She hugs KJ 1,500 times a day and when she wakes up from her nap around 12:30 she is so anxious to go pick up sister from school.

Kennedy climbs into her crib in the mornings and they snuggle and giggle. I am SO grateful to see their love for each other. Brooklyn is talking more and more. At times I hear her say a full sentence as clear as day, and other times I understand 1-2 words of her babbling, but really it gets better each day. it is so much fun to hear her thoughts and opinions. She understands WAY more than I give her credit for and I am amazed at her ability to follow directions. She has occasional meltdowns when I try to take away her paci, lovey, or her food. She hates when I try and wipe her face or her nose and is usually too squirmy to sit and read more than 2 pages of a book with me. Before nap time or bed time, though, she will sit and rock with me as I sing to her. I LOVE that time together.
She takes one 2-hour nap around 10:30/11 and sleeps 7pm-7am. She is obviously a great eater! We are planning to move her upstairs to share a room with her sister in a few months, considering we will be needing her crib for the baby come June! It's funny because we put KJ in her own room in a twin bed with a railing at 18 months.
Brooklyn is 19 months and I just can't imagine putting her in her own bed right now.  She is still my baby! But KJ is dying to share a room with her.

Speaking of KJ, she is 3.5 years old right now and still SUCH a sweetie. She never stops talking, always wants to be around people, and NEVER wants to sleep! She literally cries when we leave her room at night saying, "I'm LONELY! Please sleep in here with me." Such a drama queen.
I'm a little afraid that when I put Brooklyn in her room that she will just keep her awake at night or wake up early and just start talking. She HAS been having a hard time sleeping lately and it I have no idea what's going on. But she wakes up multiple times a night, and gets up every morning around 5:45 and starts playing in her room. She hasn't napped since turning 3 (maybe 4 times) and I don't know how she keeps going with that much energy.

 She loves going to school 3 days a week and is learning her letters and numbers. She loves to come home and 'play school'. She calls everyone her best friend after playing with them for like, 5 minutes, but I love that she loves so easily.
She adores her older girl cousins who she gets to see at holidays, and loved getting to spend fall break in Kansas with my sister's 3 boys, who are joined us for Thanksgiving. She was SO EXCITED that they were staying the night at our house!
 I love her enthusiasm for life. She is a very grateful kid, and makes it really fun to buy things for her or surprise her. I can't wait for Christmas with my two sweeties! I WILL say the past 2 months I have seen a side of her that has sent me over the edge. Flat out rude, sassy, and disobedient, which she really wasn't before. She drew on her bedroom wall yesterday, and on her new bed. She will tear out pages of books and make a complete mess when she should be going to bed. I have lost my temper more than ever and daily need God's help with patience and self control! I love my girls so much and want to be firm, calm and consistent In discipline yet full of grace!

Kent and I are doing well. I have been super sick the past 3 months and definitely did the bare minimum to survive. I think I'm on the upswing being through the first trimester, but we have also all had continual colds and sickness that have worn us out. Kent has been super busy with work and training sports teams, lots of meetings and church things. How he handles the stress of all the things on his plate is beyond me, but he does such a great job and it's neat to see how God is using all his gifts and passions. We just bought a mini-van to prepare for baby #3 and although I cringe looking at it and miss my beautiful black ford edge, it is a great car that we are so grateful to have for our growing family.
We are all looking forward to two weeks off work for Christmas break! (Best perk of teaching!) Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

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