New Year Thankfulness

I don’t like leaving things unfinished, and I do it far more than I’d like to admit.  My incomplete list of November thankfulness has nagged at the back of my mind for two months, and I am now afforded time to finish it for the unlikeliest of reasons: I am stuck in the hospital with Lewis, who has a stubborn skin infection.  He is better in every way as I type this, except for one: his fever is gone, he is cheerful and eating full meals, but the rash still won’t go away, and so we spend another night here.

So it is a good time to count my blessings, and perhaps give a bit of an update while I do.

17.  Grandparents far away.  Trevor’s parents visited for Thanksgiving, and we had such a lovely time with them.  I am so thankful that they are able to hop the pond as often as they do in order to stay so present in our kids’ lives.

18.  Grandparents near.  As I write this, my mom is putting ten of our kids to bed for the night in her two-bedroom house.  This was the plan even before Lewis got sick, only Trevor and I were supposed to have a little mini “staycation” this weekend.  We were thankful for the time together, even though we didn’t get to spend it quite as we expected.

Meanwhile, my dad came to our rescue last night when I left Trevor stranded at our Star Wars movie date to take Lewis to the ER.  When I called to see if my dad might be able to go pick him up at around 10pm, his genuine response was, “Sure.  That’ll give me something fun to do tonight.”

I have a good, good village.

19. Holidays.  It was a special joy this year to have our schoolies home for a week over Christmas.  Trevor had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we still made time for family traditions once he had a few days off.

20. Sisters.  My three all came to me in my teens.  For a long time, they were fun little kids that I got to hang out with, but somewhere along the way they grew into beautiful women whom I am privileged to call dear friends as well as sisters.

21. Snow days.  Love these, except for the 5 am wake-up call from the school to tell us about them.  I miss the days of tuning in to AM radio!

22. My husband.  You know you really love someone when even spending a day with them at the hospital bedside of a sick child brings you joy.  (And you know your life is a little crazy if doing that feels almost like a date!)

23. Music. I love the role that good Christian music has in steering our hearts toward the Lord and instructing our minds. Over the years, we have loved memorizing scripture using the Sing the Word series by the Harrow family. We love singing hymns and worship songs from church in the van as well.  These become the songs that get stuck in our heads and that we hum around the house as we do our chores. They work their way into our souls and fill us up with truth.

In particular, I am excited about this new album we bought right before Christmas.  This is the second book of the Bible paraphrased and set to music by a group called Psallos (the first, Romans, is also phenomenal).  We waited for the release of Hebrews for a long time, and it has not disappointed.  It has deepened my appreciation for what Christ did in presenting Himself as the final “once for all” sacrifice to pay the debt for my sin, not to mention the music is just beautiful.

Since Thanksgiving was on the 23rd, I will end my list there, though I could certainly go on!  My boy has finally drifted off in the bed next to me, and I should follow him sooner rather than later.

Happy New (ish) Year to you all!

Still More Thankfulness: Hubby Edition

This week, and every week, I am thankful for my husband.


I don’t often gush about Trevor, because he’s not really the type who likes to be gushed about, but you should know this: he is a more amazing husband and father than I ever could have imagined he would be when I married him.

Our life has had such an unusual rhythm since Trevor started working nights a year and half ago.  We spend half the week seeing him only briefly each day since he sleeps for most of the time that he’s home, but for the other half of the week we get him all to ourselves.  It means, for me, that I spend half the week in survival mode feeling like a single parent and the other half the week feeling like we’re on vacation.  There are some pretty intense days (especially since Delia misses Trevor something fierce when he’s working/sleeping), but it’s not a terrible existence at all.

But for him, working nights means switching his sleep pattern twice a week, surviving one day a week of sheer exhaustion as he pushes through to reset his body clock, and doing about half of his sleeping while we (all 9 of us!) are awake and living life rather loudly downstairs.  He doesn’t mind his job, or really even the hours, but he would much rather be with us all the time.  And I love that about him. (Honestly, I think if I worked outside the home, I would relish the chance to hear my own thoughts for a few hours!)

When he’s home, he’s all home.  He changes diapers, reads endless stories, grocery shops (never without at least two kids in tow) and even vacuums from time to time.  And his only real complaint is that I always eventually make him go back to work.

I think people assume, maybe because I am the talker and he is the strong silent type, that I am the crazy one.  I guess that’s about half true.  I’ve certainly had my share of crazy ideas.  But when the Lord lays something on Trevor’s heart, he listens and he acts, whatever the cost.  And I love that about him, too.

A dear friend told me on the eve of my wedding that one of the greatest joys of Christian marriage is that you get to watch your husband become a better person over the years.  To be honest, I didn’t really believe her.  After all, I already thought Trevor was about the best thing ever, plus I don’t think I truly understood the transforming power of Christ’s love.  But she was right.  As much as I adored Trevor almost fifteen years ago when we married, I had absolutely no idea what a keeper I was getting.  He continues to surprise and challenge me, and I am thankful to God for him every single day.

Mr. and Mrs.

So, a crazy thing happened last weekend.  My baby sister got married.  Now, when I say “baby sister”, you are likely picturing a cute old photo of a gappy-toothed little-kid me looking bewilderedly at a newborn on my lap.  In fact you should be picturing me in a prom dress looking bewilderedly at a newborn in my lap, because this baby sister is fully a decade and a half younger than I am!  You can imagine how the fact that she is now of marriageable age (even borderline, like I was!) has rocked my world.


Romilly, who has always shared a special connection with Aunt Chelsea owing to their shared love of horses and drawing, was the flower girl.  Isn’t she beautiful?


The kids all had a fantastic time at what was arguably the most kid-friendly wedding I have ever been to (a play-doh station, games, swings, a candy bar!!!) thanks to the groom being the oldest of five boys.  The youngest brother of the groom was Romilly’s little sidekick, the ringbearer, and the second youngest made a perfect little buddy for Pippa. (And I say “buddy” by way of sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending not to notice all of the whispering and giggling surrounding the whole situation, which I was completely unprepared to be dealing with at this point in my parenting career!)

IMG_6366 IMG_6368

My sister was a beautiful bride, and she married a man who was, once upon a time, a little boy she used to play with in the nursery of the church we grew up at.  I almost called it a very happy ending to a wonderful love story, but of course, we all know it is really just the beginning.


Weddings make me all reflective.  It really feels like that was just us, a couple of crazy kids getting hitched, just a few short years ago.  When I look at this picture and stop to take stock of where the Lord has led us, I can hardly believe it’s really my life.  Fourteen years, two continents, six babies, two adoptions… EIGHT KIDS!  We could never have planned a life like this for ourselves (and, for the record, we didn’t: our premarital counseling workbooks from way back when put our expectations firmly in the 3-5 children range, that’s 3 to 5 not 3 and 5!), but the Lord had more amazing things planned for us than we could ever have imagined.


As I looked at Chelsea and John on their wedding day, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Lord has in store for them, two hearts that love each other and love Him.  You just never know where that might lead!

At Week’s End

I have realised something surprising and wonderful about my husband this week.  He has many amazing qualities, but this one has given me a whole new appreciation for him.

Over the years we have sort of fallen into certain roles around the house.  We each do what we can to keep things running smoothly(ish) and we try to “play to our strengths” (This phrase has been invoked often recently in attempts to excuse myself from any and all of the stressful must-be-absolutely-perfect adoption paperwork.  “How about I keep the kids out of your way while you do this?  That’s better, right?  Play to our strengths?”)

Anyway, Trevor fills the ice cube trays.  Always him, never me.  I see him doing it sometimes and have never thought much of it.  Until now.

Do you know he must fill those trays at least twice a day to keep up with my iced coffee habit in the summer?  I had no idea how much ice I go through!  Do you know he also never ever EVER uses ice himself?  This is true love.

And my true love is coming home tomorrow.  Hope I can sleep tonight.


Father and Son

Happy birthday, boys! 


These two menfolk share the distinction of being my two favorites in all the world, and they also share a birthday!  Unfortunately I am a full week late in wishing my boys a happy birthday.  Where did the week go?

Well, I know where the weekend went, at least.  We had my dear friend Megan visiting from Friday to Sunday bringing lots of birthday cheer for all of our recent birthday celebrants.  We also learned to knit (!) last weekend.  Incredibly tricky business.  I may stick to crocheting.

Here’s a brief photo summary of the birthday festivities.  You may notice that the celebrations slightly favored the younger Mr. Young, but what the photos don’t tell you about is the delicious Thai meal we grown-ups had after the kids were in bed on Saturday night.  So Daddy did get his little bit of spoiling, too, don’t worry.



Mike the Knight, Compliments of Gran and Grandad




Church Movie Night


Mike Wazowski cake – it was a Mike kind of day!


You’ve heard all about the boy recently, so you already know how great he is, but I don’t quite as often tell you how awesome his daddy is.  It takes a pretty amazing kind of guy to share his life so wholeheartedly with so many little people.  (People think I’m the crazy one… let’s just say this next adoption was not my idea!)  It has been such a privilege to be married to this man and watch from the front row what God has done in his life (and in mine).  It’s been a pretty wild ride, and I can’t imagine being on it with anyone else.  I love you!



Birthday Boys

Thursday was a happy, festive day.

March 1st.  Trevor’s birthday, Niko’s birthday, and as a bonus, a Bulgarian national holiday called Baba Marta as well.

Our little man had torn into his birthday morning gift (a personalized T-shirt with his name and a photo of him and the girls on it) before I even made it downstairs, and he didn’t seem too impressed, so I wondered how the rest of the day would go.  It definitely picked up from there.

After ladies’ Bible study in the morning, we headed straight to Trevor’s work to pick him up for a glamorous birthday lunch at Taco Bell.  Well, seeing Daddy in the middle of the day is a rare and special treat anyway.

When we got home, I began to get a better picture of how strongly Niko associates his birthday with Baba Marta, so we made more of an effort to get into the spirit of things.  On the surface of it, Baba Marta, “Grandmother March”, is just a holiday to welcome in (or will in!) the spring, but it seems to be more of a celebration of all things traditional and Bulgarian.

Niko begged to wear the traditional Bulgarian costume Trevor bought while in country  for special occasions, so (since it was his birthday and, hence, a special occasion) I let him.  Then we hunted down some youtube videos of Baba Marta songs.  This is when we really got to see Niko come to life.  His face just lit up, and he sang along with great gusto!  He also obviously knew a little bit of the traditional dance – so fun to watch!

After dinner we enjoyed cake (Baba Marta color-themed in red and white, per the little birthday boy’s request) and rainbow sherbert, and Niko opened a couple of packages that had arrived for him (thank you, Gran and Grandad and Uncle Adrian!)  (Trevor had opened his present from me that morning, though it has been rather dwarfed by the free Kindle he subsequently received at work yesterday!)

We watched Baba Marta videos again after dinner so that Daddy could see Niko get his Bulgarian groove on, and by bedtime everyone was beat.  What a wonderful day.  I am so thankful he made it home in time to celebrate with us this year.  What a joy this little boy is!

I am also thankful for the big birthday boy of the family.  Words can’t begin to describe how much I love him, how much I appreciate how hard he works for all of us, how much I just plain old enjoy his company.  I am so blessed to be his wife.

Happy birthday to both of my precious boys!

A Day About Love

We’re learning a lot about love around here these days, so it seems sort of fitting to be celebrating Valentine’s Day.  Once upon a time I thought love was a mushy-gushy feeling you get when holding someone’s hand (well, there’s still plenty of that kind around.)  These days, I’m seeing a different and much more powerful sort of love around our home.

It’s the love of a big four-and-a-half-year-old girl for her tiny baby sister, so overwhelmingly strong that she cries sometimes when baby goes down for a nap.

It’s the love of sisters who instantly recognize their brother as family even though they just met him.

It’s the love of a toddler who can’t wait to see her big brother first thing in the morning, and climbs into bed, giddy with excitement, to snuggle him when she finds him.

It’s the love of a little boy for his new family; though he doesn’t always know quite what to do with it, it often pours out in smiles and giggles, sweet thoughtful actions, and just plain old not wanting to leave our sides for one single second.

It’s the love of a mother who just wants to hold and kiss her precious new son, even when he is *not* happy about the sweater vest he has to wear to church, but especially when he is smiling his priceless signature grin.

It’s the love of a wife for a husband who has a deep passion for the fatherless.  (And who is setting aside his usual frugality for a post-kid-bedtime Chinese take-out for two tonight!)

It’s the love of a Father who lavishes His grace on His children daily, though they fail over and over.  His mercies truly are new every morning.

1 John 4:19 says

We love because he first loved us. 

This is true love.

For My Boys

Happy birthday today to both of my sweet boys: one who has been in my life for 12 years already, and one who will, Lord willing, be joining it later this year.

We celebrated for you today, precious little one, and we pray that next year you will celebrate this day with your Daddy, at home where you belong.


Thsweet Huthsby

On Tuesday evening, Trevor took a brave step toward correcting a genetic dental condition: he still has four baby teeth, there are no permanent teeth to take their place, and so the baby teeth have begun to recede back into the gum and cause problems.  In order to replace his baby teeth with implants of grown up teeth, he needs to have the gap widened with braces.  In order to get braces he has to wear a retainer to keep him from biting the braces off.  And this is where our story begins.

Trevor picked up his new retainer on Tuesday evening and has to practice wearing it for a week before he gets his braces on and has to wear the retainer full time.  Practice? you say.  What’s hard about wearing a retainer?  Well, apparently, talking is.

On the way home from small group on Tuesday night he debuted his “new accent” for my ears.  Imagine my husband’s usual voice: the perfect British English that lands him regular reading gigs in church circles and makes the ladies in our small group swoon (and sometimes our pastor, too).  Now add in an indecipherable layer of hissing, gurgling and lisping and you have his new way of talking.

When I first heard it, I felt a giggle begin to bubble up from the very core of my being.  Within about three minutes of his describing his encounter at the orthodontist, surrounded by gangly teenaged patients being reassured that it is *much* better to get this over with in high school, I was gasping for breath with tears streaming down my face.  “I’m sorry.”  I kept telling him.  “You sound fine.” (*Snicker*)  “You’ll get better at it.”  (*Chuckle Gasp*)  It’s just you normally sound so… dignified!”  He was very gracious about my indiscretion, seeing the humor in the situation too, and knowing – needing to believe – that the situation would improve before he would be wearing it full time – at work, in church, in meetings.  It will get better.

And it is getting better.  But there’s a reason why they gave him a whole week of testing out his new mouth in the safety of his own home before airing it in public.  These things take practice, and so last night he read the girls their bedtime story from The Lamb, a book that is both very dear to our hearts since we know some of the people involved in its making, and very serious.  Or it should have been at least.

Daddy: And do you remember how the one bringing the lamb put hiths hand on itshth head – thshowing that hithsh sthin waths being plathed on the lamb?

Mommy: (Hands on mouth.  Not going to giggle.)

Daddy: The Bible sthays that when Djesthuth… DjesthuSSSSth…

Mommy: (Gently shaking from silent giggles.  Maybe the girls won’t notice.  Why aren’t they laughing anyway?)

Daddy: …wath nailed to the crothsh, all our sthin  wath taken off usth and plathshed on him…

Mommy: (Ack!  One got out! What’s wrong with me?!  My girls are being read a beautiful, serious, scripturally rich story by their wonderful, loving father.  Get it together, girl!)

Pippa: Mommy – stop laughing at Daddy!

Mommy:  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.  It won’t happen again.

Daddy:  He took everybody’ths thshin – from the bethst people to the very worthst….

Mommy: (*Guffaw*)

Pippa: (sighing deeply)  Daddy, maybe I better read the rest of the story.

*  *  *  *  *

And so it was that our firstborn officially became *the mature one* in the family.   It’s a good thing she’s such a good little reader.

Thankful Thursday: One Fabulous Hubby and One Fabulous Weekend

I’m very late with this post.  So late that I’ve become on time again, and even a little bit late again.  I am sorry, but I will say in my defense that I left my house at lunchtime on Thursday last week and was completely disconnected from cyberspace until Sunday night.  That might be  record of some sort.

What is most certainly a record is that my amazing husband, successfully looked after four girls (five on Friday!) for three whole days.  72 hours.  And let me tell you, he was not just  feeding them cereal for every meal and keeping them from killing each other.  He actually did stuff with them.  I’ve seen the pictures.  The weekend’s activities included:

  • Some sort of coloring-drawing-gluing craftiness,
  • A bike ride,
  • A trip to McDonald’s,
  • A decent amount of school,
  • A giant pile of leaves for jumping in (which he first had to rake together), and
  • Making a Christmas cake!

Folks, I’ve got to be honest with you, this is more fun than I pack into the average week!

I am humbled, not just by my sweet husband’s extraordinary abilities as a parent, but also by his generosity in letting me have this long weekend away.  Hopefully it was to his advantage.

You see, while Trevor was holding down the fort,  I was off in Virginia Beach becoming a better wife at CCEF‘s Annual Conference, “ONE”, on the topic of Marriage.  I wish I had time to give a full recap of the weekend’s sessions.  They were phenomenal.  Instead you’ll have to settle for a few of my favorite moments, concepts and other bits and pieces that I happen to have right on the tip of my brain.

  • Marriage is like a whale.  (You didn’t know this?  Neither did I!)  In its proper context, the ocean, a whale is beautiful and graceful and awe-inspiring.  Take it out and put it on a beach and bad things happen.  Really bad things.  Likewise, God designed marriage to thrive in its proper context: a couple in constant connection to God and thriving in  loving community with others.   Outside of that context, marriage becomes self-focused and starved of its intended purpose.  Wow.
  • Marriage/relationship books which emphasize the differences between the genders (Venus/Mars type stuff) may be of some value for some people, but they can create an unbiblical, inaccurate, “cookie-cutter” concept of men and women.  People are not cookies, they are snowflakes! (This one was a shocker for me, as I happen to be a card-carrying Venusian and my husband, a bona fide Martian, but very good to keep in mind, nonetheless.)
  • All Christians are connected by a maximum of two degrees of separation, I’m convinced.  I ran into a guy from my church in Scotland, and roomed with a girl who knew my college roommate and her whole family.  The whole weekend was like one big, happy family reunion.
  • Best one-liner of the weekend: prizes were awarded by our crazy MC Van Fletcher at each session for various superlatives.  One of the first prizes given was for “Most Newly-Wedded”.  The sweetest couple ever, married for just four weeks, came skipping up to the stage, all wrapped up in each other’s arms.  Van asked them if they wanted to share anything and offered them the mic, and without hesitating, in front of 1600 people, the husband responded, “Marriage is easy!”  Then we all got up and went home.
  • My very own husband, I am now convinced more than ever, is actually the best one in the whole world.  I went to this conference wishing that he could have come too, you know, so that we could both benefit from all the wisdom.  Turns out I needed it way more than he did!