Category Archives: A Few Thoughts

One More

©janetphillips_april17_2015_web-11Having six children isn’t always easy. I am not sure it is ever easy. When people glibly say, “Oh, what’s one more?” I often want to…well…punch them in the face (kindly, of course).

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What’s one more? One more is eighteen years of caring for a person, a real person, a person with needs, feelings, desires, struggles, quirks, and dreams. One more means two to three more years of diapers. One more means another load of laundry, another set of dishes, another set of clothes to buy. One more means hours upon hours of training and guiding. It means another story at bedtime, another bath to give, another mischief maker squirting toothpaste all over themselves (oh, wait, that was the four year old).

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One more means another seat in the car, another place at the table, another bed to be slept in. It means another few years of phonics training, another year of memorizing multiplication tables, and another year of of preschool songs getting stuck in your head. One more means hearing mom an infinite number of times more a day (did you know that you could add to infinity? I didn’t until I had six kids who all feel the need to start each and every sentence with the word “mom.”)

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But over the last two years, I have learned yet again, that one more also means more hugs, more snuggles, more kisses. It means another person thinking you hung the moon. It means another little heart truly believing your kisses make the pain go away and the tears replaced by a smile show you, too, that there is magic in those kisses.

One more means watching the facets of God’s character displayed in new and amazing ways. It means having your heart bust with pride over first steps, first words, and first sentences. It means more dreams for the future, more memories to be made, and more love to be given and received.

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Most of all, though, when you look at that “one more” and your heart beats so hard as the love literally pumps through your very soul, you get one more chance to learn what the Father’s love is like for you.

Being a parent is a gift from the Lord. In allowing us to love this deeply, He offers us the opportunity to grasp in the tangible a glimpse into the deep love He has for us. The love we have for our children cannot compare with the breath and depth of God’s deep love for us. One more allows me to experience that again, to know a love beyond words, a loyalty fierce.

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This little man, my one more, is a gift beyond words.  A better understanding of God’s great love is worth the one more spilled milk, the one more round of the stomach bug, the one more birthday to plan, the one more lullaby to sing, the one more mess to clean up.

Why Did You Want to be a Mama?

Preparing the Soil | 4-24-15We sat on the couch together, snuggled in close. I was trying to keep her quiet as we sat in our weekly homegroup, the meeting continuing well past her four-year-old bedtime.

“Just a few more minutes, honey, and we’ll be done. I need you to be quiet.”

She switched positions once again, the movement giving her something to do. Then out of nowhere, she whispered, “Why did you want to be a mama?”

Most things that come out of her mouth prove to us her mind is far beyond her years, but this one I was not ready for.

What kind of answer is there?

I thought about my life as a mama. I thought of the laundry, the endless dishes, the sibling squabbles, the broken cups, the messy rooms, the constant noise. I thought about the number of times I have to say, “You’re being far too loud” and ” No, I can’t do that for you right now. You’ll have to wait.” I remembered earlier that morning, over and over again saying, “You need to do your schoolwork and then you can play.”

Was all this why I wanted to be a mama? Was this the reason on that February evening my freshman year of college I chose life for myself in order to hold onto the hope of a family?

No. Dishes and cleaning and laundry and refereeing were certainly not why I wanted to be a mama. They are part of the job, for sure. But they are the what, not the why.

Preparing the Soil | 4-24-15_4 Why did I want to be a mama? My thoughts wandered. What a question!

I guess I wanted to be a mama because I wanted someone to love. I had so much love to give and nowhere to give it. I wanted an outlet for the intensity of emotion I felt within.

More than that, though, I wanted to be a mama because I longed for a child to know they were loved, that they were delighted in.  I wanted them to be seen for who God made them and for them to know that in seeing the real them, they were cherished.

And it’s not just why DID I want to be a mama but also, why DO I want to be a mama? I don’t want the desire to be past tense, but past, present, and future.

I want to be a mama so that my kids know that even in this harsh world that will be filled with hurt, sadness, brokenness, and sin that they have someone who sees them, delights in them, cherishes them. I want them to know that facets of God’s character shine from within them and it is their joy and privilege to let that reflection shine bright.

I want to be a mama so my kids know there is always someone who is for them, who believes in them, who sees their eternal worth and significance.

I want to be a mama in order to see up close the beauty of God’s image bearers displaying to the world the glory of God.

I want to be a mama because I want to be part of God’s great work. And these kids, they are God’s great work. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).

Preparing the Soil | 4-24-15_5I want to be a mama so that I can see the incredible transformation as God molds these children and shapes them into who He created them to be. He graciously has allowed me to play a part in that transformation and I want to do it with my whole heart.

My children’s young minds can’t yet grasp the seemingly abstract notion of a God who loves them eternally and completely, a God who sees their infinite worth, a God who delights in them and cherishes them with a life-giving, sacrificial love, and so I want to be a mama in order to stand in for God with something tangible that my kids can see, hear, and touch. I want to be a mama so I can stand in the gap and I can say to them as Paul said to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

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I don’t do it perfectly. Not even close. But I can’t stop because of my lack of perfection. I have to have faith that as I stand in the physical gap for God, He will stand in the gap for me. I am broken, but He is perfect. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

God will do the work in my children’s hearts, minds, and lives, but He allows me to be a part of it. He will take this broken vessel and shine HIs light through it.

And so today, as I do the what of motherhood — the dishes, laundry, and refereeing — I want to remember the why.

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Just Like His Daddy

Nine. 

Seriously, how could he be nine?

Our sweet Levi Sebastian was born in Penang, Malaysia, and welcomed home at two days old to a dorm full of international students and two very young siblings (Alaina had just turned three and Caleb was not yet two).

It’s hard to put into words this little guy. He has been amazing from the moment he was born. He is sweet, funny, sensitive, loves to laugh, goofy, and full of sweet cuddles. He has never gone through a hard stage (in fact, a few years ago, we were at the zoo and he disobeyed me and I told Jason we should take him to the doctor because it was that far out of character for him).

I think the reason I am so smitten with him is he is just like his daddy. He is Jason in a little boy’s body. They are so similar that I can fully imagine what Jason was like as a child. The two were cut from the same cloth.

I am so thankful for his tender heart. I love the way he loves to play with his younger siblings. I love to watch him love to cook and take pictures (so I guess he got a few things from me!)  He loves to play any and all sports and he loves to joke around. He likes games of any kind and he loves puzzles (just like his dad).

To my sweet Levi Sebastian..I love you far more than words could ever express. You are such a joy in our lives and I look forward to seeing the man you will become. If you really are like your dad, I know you’ll be an amazing man and an incredible husband and father.

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Z-Man

Our sweet (and crazy) Zachary turned two on Monday. He has been such an amazing addition to our family and although he keeps us very busy, I couldn’t imagine our lives without him. He is adored by his siblings and they fight over him, his hugs, his kisses, and his crazy antics. He’s such a sweet guy, a total mix of his two brothers. I can’t wait to see who he becomes.

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In the Picture

Today, as I was working on a project, I came across this post that I wrote almost a year ago. I didn’t share it here, but rather wrote it for The Daily Digi, a site dedicated to digital scrapbookers and photographers. However, I think it is an important topic for us as mothers.

Tomorrow isn’t promised. We’re but a vapor. The long days turn into short years and all of our excuses for not being in photos with our kids will amount to empty albums and wondering hearts.

“What was my mom like when I was young?”

“What did she look like when she was a young mom?”

“What did she do with us?”

I know your kids will ask these questions someday because I ask them often. I remember surprisingly little about my childhood and so while our family works to create happy memories, I know that the memories may only exist in the photos we take.

I am part of their story and I want the photographs to prove it. My weight has fluctuated over the years and I dislike many other things about my physical appearance. However, I cannot and will not let that stop me. I know that these moments are important and I know that my kids will be thankful that I set my insecurities aside long enough to be in the photo.

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I’m passionate about a lot of things. If someone brings up one of my hot button topics, there is no stopping me. When I believe something, I believe it all the way. And this, dear readers, is one of those topics.

You need to be in the picture.

I know. I know. You plan on doing it. You’ll get in pictures with your kids when you get out of your yoga pants. When you lose the weight. When you do your hair. When you get some new clothes. When…

I know. I’ve been there. I don’t always want a camera pointed at me. There are days when I haven’t showered and I am many months away from being at a weight I am happy with. And yet, I still get in.

This is a picture of my mom with my older brother. I LOVE it. Adore it. Am jealous of it. I love the way her happiness just beams. She is looking at this little boy who she waited so long for and she is completely in love. I love this picture for so many reasons…the look on her face, the Pooh wall hanging she had made, the diaper changing station on the deep freezer, the plaid pants, the paneled walls. What’s not to love? This is a photo that captures a beautiful moment in time. Priceless.

Unfortunately, I have very few photos of me with my mother. In all the scrounging around I have done, only a few have turned up.

These photos are so precious to me. But I wish I had more. I wish I had photos of my mom holding me as a baby. I wish I had photos of us playing together…her reading to me…me watching her cook.

I understand why there aren’t many. Photography used to be a much more expensive hobby. Buy the film. Pay to have it developed. There wasn’t opportunity to take a hundred photos of every outing. So my parents, like most, mainly took the obligatory holiday photos of just the kids.


When I had my children, I knew I wanted more. I wanted my kids to have photos of me. I wanted them to have documentation of a life lived together. I wanted them to be able to see the love in my eyes. I wanted them to have photos of me loving them, snuggling them, and laughing with them. When they get older, these (I hope!) will mean the world to them.

In 2003, I had my first daughter. And from then on, I have made it a point to be in picture. I don’t always love how I look, but I am so glad to have the memories. This is our life together. I want to be a part of it.

With each child, I have continued to push myself to do whatever it took to be in the picture. Here is me, nine months pregnant with #3…

Here are some tips for being in the picture:

1. Stop Worrying. Don’t worry so much about your looks that it keeps you out of the picture. Your children won’t care how much you weighed or what your hair looked like. They care about you. Don’t worry about what your house looks life. Real life is beautiful…and real.

2. Ask someone to take pictures for you. I often ask my husband or other children to grab the camera. I love to take photos but sometimes I want to be on the other end. My kids and husband are getting pretty good!

3. If all else fails, use a tripod, a phone, or a mirror. Do whatever it takes to be in the picture. Photo Booth can be your best friend!

4. Hire a professional. I adore our real life moment photos, but I am also glad that occasionally we have someone outside of our immediate family take pictures for us. Not only is the quality better, but also that person has a view of us that we might miss. Photos are an investment. Don’t be afraid of hiring someone.

5. What do you want to remember? Ask yourself, “What kinds of things/events/moments/activities do I want to have photos of? Think about those special first moments, activities you do every day, and special events that you want your kids to know you were a part of. Write some down and be more intentional about getting in the picture.

6. Not all of you necessarily has to be in the picture. Try different angles and shots that show relationship.

7. Don’t wait. Do it now. Do it today. You never know when tomorrow will stop being an option.

8. Start scrapping!

Check out “Get In The Photo” for more tips from Katie and our team.


Do you get in the picture? What motivates you? What hinders you?

The Everglades, Part Three

One of the most popular trails in Everglades National Park is the Anhinga Trail. It’s know for its abundant wildlife. A number of people mentioned that it was a “must do” walk, so we made sure to leave time on our way out of the park (the trail is near the entrance of the park, 40 miles from our campground.)

We were not disappointed! The kids just loved seeing all the alligators and I LOVED the birds. It makes me long for a good birding lens. A 100mm doesn’t quite cut it, but I still had fun!

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The railings were DISGUSTING...my my kids thought they were cool.

The railings were DISGUSTING…my my kids thought they were cool.

The vultures are really destructive and they are everywhere. The park supplies tarps to protect your car. People should use them!

The vultures are really destructive and they are everywhere. The park supplies tarps to protect your car. People should use them!

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The Everglades, Part Two

Other than my time in the Word, I feel closest to God when I am in nature. I absolutely cannot look at the incredible beauty that surrounds me and at the same time question God’s great love. He created everything in nature for us to enjoy and for Him to receive glory. I love what it says in Genesis 2:

“Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food…” (verse 9, emphasis mine).

He made nature for us to enjoy. When I am outside, and I see the tiny details He paid attention to…the way a spider weaves its web, the order of a leaf’s veins, the tiniest critters most people miss, I am overwhelmed. I stand in awe. Often, I walk and I giggle as I see God’s creation before me. He loves us that much!

We love to walk. We love to open our eyes and LOOK. When we were in the Everglades, I tried to get out and walk as much as I could. The mosquitos were really bad, so it was hard to do many of the trails, but I still got out every day. I filled my soul. I watched the birds and the bugs and I let my heart feel God’s great love.

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The Everglades, Part One

Back in December, when I first started struggling, I knew that the cold and lack of sunlight were a huge problem for me. After living so many years near the equator, we’re used to year ’round sun and year ’round warm temps. Being stuck inside the last few months has been very difficult for me, and even though I’ve been taking my vitamin D and have been using a sunlamp, I knew I needed more. Plus, I know that for our family, getting away is our means of pressing the reset button. We needed it.

We have some family in Tampa and some friends in Orlando and with the need for sun and fresh air, we headed south. After a few days in Tampa we headed down to Everglades National Park. This is the best time of the year to go and so I knew it was now or never. We voted for now.

We spent four days in the part completely unplugged. We camped in our tent, we had no electricity, and we had no cell service or internet connection. It was bliss. If it weren’t for the killer mosquitos (which apparently were in their “bearable” season), it would have been perfection.

I LOVE camping. It’s not that I really love roughing it or being without electricity. It’s not that eight people in a tent is always easy or fun. But what I love about camping is that it strips all the extra stuff away. I don’t worry about doing laundry. I don’t worry about cleaning up. I don’t worry about checking email. I don’t put on makeup and I often don’t even bother changing clothes. When all of those little tasks are taken away, you are just left with time. Time to read, time to play, time to sleep, and time to talk. We did all of those things.

I read five books. We played a lot of football. We went to ranger talks. We stared at the stars. We ate s’mores and chatted with new friends. We earned five new junior ranger badges. We went on a backwater tour and we watched lots of birds. It was a beautiful time together and I kept saying one morning, “I finally feel like I can breathe.”

Here is the first installment of our photos…life around the campsite. Tomorrow I’ll share photos of my walks and birdwatching times and then on Wednesday I’ll share photos of the most popular trail in the park. Lots of gators!

It feels good to play with my camera again!

Kite flying

Kite flying

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First family football game. The girls and dad huddle up.

First family football game. The girls and dad huddle up.

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Snoozing and snuggles in the tent.

Snoozing and snuggles in the tent.

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Zachary thinks washing dishes is overrated. Why not use the tub as a pool instead?

Zachary thinks washing dishes is overrated. Why not use the tub as a pool instead?

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Love these goofy kids!

Love these goofy kids!

Mom can be goofy too.

Mom can be goofy too.

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Hot french toast

Hot french toast

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Catching butterflies

Catching butterflies

There were butterflies EVERYWHERE. It was so fun to run trough fields and be surrounded.

There were butterflies EVERYWHERE. It was so fun to run trough fields and be surrounded.

Working on her Junior Ranger badge.

Working on her Junior Ranger badge.

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Twelve Years

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I wanted to be a mama.

Really, it’s all I ever wanted.

I dreamed many dreams about holding my babies, about a little girl running around in braids, about pouring out love immeasurable.

During my freshman year of college, hitting the lowest possible low a human heart can hit, I sat at the sink of my dorm room making a choice: a choice to end the pain or to hold out hope for a family.

Hope won out and God’s grace and love quickly filled the many broken parts of me. I switched schools, waited while others planned their weddings, and prayed for the little girl in braids.

After three miscarriages, many tears, and learning what a sacrifice of praise was, God gave me a beautiful gift. Alaina, her name chosen while I was still in high school, was born in a hospital in Bangalore, India.

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And now, twelve years later, my mama heart still beats strong.  In a world that uses awful phrases like, “just a mom,” my heart is filled with songs of praise that God would allow me the privilege of watching and taking an active role in one of HIs creations growing into His eternal purpose for their life.

And what a privilege it has been to be a mama to this girl. There aren’t words enough to describe my sweet Alaina. Perfect, she is not. Perfect, I am not. That’s why we have the hope of eternity. One day we will fully be like our Creator. Until then, we stand amazed at the many facets of His personality we get to display here on earth.

She’s patient.
She’s eager to learn.
She’s dependable.
She loves the Lord.
She loves her siblings.
She is an amazing cook.
She’s beautiful.
She’s stylish.
She doesn’t complain.
She loves to travel.
She’s creative.
She’s intelligent.
She loves to read.
She loves to write.

She, like the rest of my children, are a blessing to me. But more than that, oh so much more than that, I pray that she will be a blessing to others. I pray that the ripple effects of a life lived in love and grace will extend to the farthest sea. I pray that Alaina will see and understand God’s great love for her and that He purposely chose her for this family, for this time, for this place. None of it was an accident. None of it is without purpose. He has great plans for this girl and I will continue to pray that she will willingly enter into this great love and purpose for her life. It’s gonna be a good one, of that I am sure.

And now, more for my enjoyment rather than yours, a very long photographic walk down memory lane. Twelve years. I am so thankful.

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