I hope you’re all enjoying your free September lock screen Bible verse! If you know you’ve subscribed, yet haven’t received it… please email me and I’ll make sure it gets sent your way.

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On another note, it was such fun making these Bible verse lunch cards for the kid’s lunch boxes.

Hope you and your kids love them, too!

Bible verse lunch notes 2- September

This morning I cut out Psalm 139:14a and using a little washi tape, stuck it into the lids of their lunch boxes.

Bible verse lunch notes 3 - September

All our kids make their own lunches so it was funny watching them as they put food inside, trying so hard not to read it until they sat down for lunch.

Bible verse lunch notes - September

Anton filled his lunch box with one eye shut, desperate to not see the note too closely. The kid obviously likes surprises. (so cute)

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What verses or topics would you like me to include in the future? Do tell!

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Ben is hands-down the hardest person to shop for. Well, he and my dad actually. So I get reeeeaaally excited when I think of something good for him. And a few years ago I found IT. You know, that thing you know they’ll love yet never knew they needed?

I came across silver cufflinks in the shape of Africa. I know, perfect. So I had them sent from Paris. Yes…PARIS. And they took a month to get here, just barely making it in time for his big day.

…then he lost them. Well, I won’t put the blame on him. Who knows where they are, but at any rate the dry cleaners doesn’t have them…and sadly neither do we.

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So time went by and he kept saying how much he missed them and how they were the perfect gift. So I went on Etsy. And found some that in my opinion, are even more fun than the silver ones (and ever more affordable!).

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Meet Cecile over at Triburban, a creative originally from Sweden, who now lives in Atlanta and embraces all things tribal and urban. Her colorful shop is chock-full of handmade goodness…and lots of Africa shaped jewelry…including cufflinks. (yay!)

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I ordered this trio, but asked for one of the three in the teal you see above. Ben loves them (just as I knew he would)!

africa cufflinks

 You must…MUST head over to her shop. There are so many thing you’ll want to add to your wardrobe. I just know it!

20 off

And guess what! Cecile is generously giving 20% off for our readers in the month of September!

(simply type HUGS10 as the coupon code at checkout)

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The other night, as the little kids were helping me set the table while we waited for Ben and the big boys to get home for dinner, I decided we’d play a game.

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We often play “Highs & Lows” as we chat over their after school snack, but rather than asking them their “high” (best part of their day) or their “low” (the worst part), I thought we’d concentrate on each other.

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“Ok guys…lets go around in a circle, each of us saying one compliment or encouraging thing to every person at dinner tonight!”

They grinned at me as the wheels in their head began to turn, looking at one another from across our farmhouse table.

“Lets start with Anton,” I said while pouring the milk.

They hemmed and hawed.

They giggled and pondered.

And they couldn’t come up with a single thing!

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Now listen, our kids are buddies. I mean, they are thick as thieves. And know one another well.

For example, Laith tagged along with me to Costco last weekend and when he saw all the Halloween costumes already out on display, he bolted over to look through them. After choosing one for himself, he grabbed another for Anton and informed me it’s “exactly what my buddy wants to be this year.”

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And he was RIGHT! Anton freaked out as he swung the costume around, wanting to try it on.  “Laith, this is IT! This is EXACTLY it! Thank you!”

So what’s going on?! Why can’t they think of anything?

We finally did go around the table and they had fun and want to play the game again soon, but it took a lot of me prompting and giving ideas.

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I think it’s a good reminder though how we all…grownups and kids alike…sometimes forget how amazing the people are who surround us. The people who are our constant, who are always there.

Family. Good friends. Even teachers and mentors, perhaps.

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It’s so important for us…not only us parents…but ALL of us, to look at “our people” and think about why we’re so thankful for them. What do they do that’s amazing? What do they work hard at? HOW are you thankful for them?

What would brighten their day for you to take notice of?

Lets do that. Lets thank those people. Those little ones and the big ones alike.

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Elsabet, you give the tightest, most cozy hugs!

Imani, you are a beautiful twirler.

Laith, the way you read that book to me was incredible.

Anton, everything tastes better when you help me cook.

Ezekiel, I love when you give me a hug and kiss on the cheek before you ride your bike to school each morning.

Abreham, I love that you call me Mommy. And I love how hard you’re working on your English.

…and Benny, I love how you love me. And I love how you make the kids laugh and are goofy and the way you make up words to songs just to make the kids giggle and roll their eyes. You’re a fun dad, a caring dad, and a firm dad. You’re the perfect combination.

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So lets go around the table tonight and remind each other how fun and amazing they are. Why we’re so thankful for them, building them up all the while.

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Because that’s what family does. Right?

We’re the one safe place in the world. Where they can always be…well…them.

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What do you do over your dinner table??

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september

Oh what encouragement I have for you this month! Ok, it’s Joshua & God’s encouragement…I just made it a little pretty.

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Though I used the NIV for our lock screen, click here for Joshua 1:9 in The Message, it’s translation just bursts encouragement and hope! And to be honest, I’m needing a little encouragement right now. How about you?

So as a little background, Moses has just died and God has given Joshua a message of encouragement for His people. They’re not only sad about this great loss to their nation, but they’re also feeling anxious and scared and discouraged about life without their leader.

“In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage!”

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Read the rest of what Joshua said, and find encouragement in it. The Lord wasn’t just with His people then…He is with us NOW! And oh how incredibly refreshing that is to my soul.

Joshua 1_9b

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I initially designed two versions of the verse this month.

However, my friend Meredith requested the photo, rather than my watercolor version.

(And yes, these are some of the apples we picked the other day at the apple orchard.)

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So you can thank her because now there are FOUR versions. Two different font options with two different backgrounds.

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you never know

I’ve spent an hour in the baking isle at our neighborhood grocery store as Abreham shared with me about becoming a Christian in Ethiopia… and how when his maternal Grandmother heard that he had done so, she refused to feed him for three days as punishment.

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I’ve also driven ’round and ’round our neighborhood as Ezekiel’s past and hurts and experiences poured out of him, not wanting to pull into our driveway until I was sure he was completely done. And thankful we had a few moments alone, without a carload of kids.

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I don’t know why, but our kids always open up at the most unusual times.

You never know what will trigger long-suppressed stories and emotions.

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This weekend we spent Labor Day celebrating the farmers and laborers that work so hard to put food on our table. Driving nearly two hours from home, we spent the day at an amazing apple orchard, picking not only apples, but raspberries and blackberries, as well.

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It was one of those days where you wake the kids up early and grab bagels on the way. Still a little groggy from a morning come too quick, the kids played and read quietly in the back, while Ben and I sat holding hands in the front, catching each other’s eye, smiles spreading broadly across our faces.

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Everyone enjoying each other as we spend intentional time together. Since the kids aren’t typically allowed to watch videos or use electronics in the car, we instead make up games, do a lot of silly car dancing, and the kids read to themselves and to the others.

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More often than not, Imani and Elsabet hold hands as they ride. Car time is often bonding time.

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Perhaps it’s the feeling of safety, or that our older boys look around at what God has built and their little hearts are stirred toward opening up at times like this. Who knows.

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On this day though, Abreham shared with us that he had not only worked as a shepherd of 200 sheep (which we already knew), but that he also used to work at his uncle’s orchard, helping pick apples, oranges, and mangoes.

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You could see he had experience in a field. We watched as he quickly formed a system to finding an abundance of perfect black and raspberries amidst the picked over bushes. Sticks were used, as he lifted the long branches filled with thorns. He worked for an hour or two filling container after container of perfectly plump, juicy berries.

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When we got home, Abreham continued to share more about his past. Some we already knew, some was brand new information (he used to ride monkeys?!). He told me more about the pain of living with some of his family members and how horribly they’d treated him (burning all his records in hopes he couldn’t be adopted), and how loving and generous others were about helping him make a new life in America.

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Another day this week, after a conversation on his view of “religion” and ours of “faith,” Abreham told Ben and I that he thinks God put him in our family “to help fill in the holes in (his) heart.”

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How do you not get teary as you give a big bear hug to this kid who has been through and experienced more than I want to think about?

It’s been a year now. And oh how far he has come.

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How far we’ve come.

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more on Abreham . meeting abreham . learning to trust . scariness of unconditional love . abreham & the doors God’s opening .

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