Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lichtenfamily pics...


 
These are my people. They are the ones I live for...the ones who challenge me, delight me, refine me and keep me on my knees begging for the Lord's direction to help guide them. Sometimes, when I look into their faces, it overwhelms me. The heavy weight of responsibility feels overwhelming. How can someone as imperfect and ill-equipped as me possibly teach them all of the things? How can I show them how to love when I am so unlovely too much of the time?
 
Then, God quietly reminds me that He chose me to be their mom. He chose me to be James' wife. As insane as that seems to me, He doesn't make mistakes. My place in this family is not an accident.
 
I am so grateful for these people.
 




 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How we roll in the morning...chores first


Yes, I realize these lists are not in ABC order, and I don't even have time to care. One thing I realized about myself over the past year is that I used to take an inordinate amount of time to prepare to do things. So much so, that many times after my preparations were done, I had lost steam for the task I was preparing to accomplish. So, making pretty charts on the computer, making my calendar look perfect, being sure everything was "just so" never really helped me to accomplish anything. 

I decided to get back to the basics and just hand write everything, including my own calendar, to see if it worked first, before I put any effort into the polishing of it. And then, what do you know, it worked so well, that I decided to just keep it.The only people who see these lists are me and James and the kids anyway. Until now, of course.

So this is our plan. We have four kids ages five through 12, plus a newborn. (Hence, lists A-D) The older kids are all capable of doing their part around the house, and in order for our small house to maintain any sort of order, everyone has to do their part. We tried doing chores after school is done, and that used to work for us when we previously homeschooled, but not now. We have found that in order for anyone to pay attention and stay on task, especially mom and dad, the chores need to be done first. So each day they get up and grab a clipboard. The clipboards rotate through the kids throughout the week for four days. On the fifth day, we just do whatever needs to get done and not those specific chores, necessarily. 

There are some people who have said that we expect too much out of our kids, especially the youngest ones. In reality, that couldn't be further from the truth. If everyone does their part, it only takes us about 20 to 30 minutes max to get the entire house in order. In about as long as it takes to watch a Sesame Street or half as long as it takes to really play Minecraft in a day, our kids are learning important life skills. And, the bonus is, it reduces the stress level in our home and we all find it easier to breathe! 

The moral of the story is, "do what works for your family," and be glad you do.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Lil Miss Newborn Berkley Bella


 
The biggest surprise of our lives arrived on September 11.
Berkley Bella Lichtenberger made her grand entrance in Stillwater, Oklahoma, our first Okie born baby. What made it even more special is that not only were my mom and dad both there, but my lifelong best friend's husband was my doctor, the first to hold her, and my friend was the first pediatrician to look her over and declare that she is perfect. 



She just might be the most loved baby on the planet. She is never lonely. Quite used to the constant buzz of a large family, she fits right in and is cared for equally by Mama and Daddy as well as her 3 sisters and amazing big brother. Since James works from home now, Berkley is the first baby he has gotten to spend this much quality time with. I can totally tell in the way he interacts with her.
Another Daddy's girl for sure.
 




 
Berk is almost 4 months now, so I will have to play catch-up with pictures, but I wanted to start with these sweet photos Emily captured. It seems like yesterday when I found out we were expecting her and it will soon be a year. This has been our craziest year so far and as I reflect upon it one of the best. We have experienced extreme highs and lows and more changes than I thought I could live through, but life is sweet and we are gypsies in this world after all. Adventurers. Pilgrims.
 



Sweet baby Berk. We adore you.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A new kind of Christmas...

 
It's Christmas, and I am sitting here on the couch soaking in the happy squeals of my crew running around outside with walkie-talkies, while the smell of turkey roasting in the oven fills our home. This is the first Christmas I can remember since we left Kansas 6 years ago that my heart is full. 

I forgot what normal feels like. I forgot what it feels like to embrace the season of Christmas with gladness and gratitude. 

It's not that we didn't have lots to be thankful for in the past several years, but it has been hard. Really hard, and my reactions of been human, really human. I can't say that I handled all of the changes in our life with perfect grace and ease. 

In the last 5 1/2 years, we have moved five times & James has changed jobs five times. We've had two new babies and I have started two businesses. We went from homeschooling our kids to putting them in public school, and now we are homeschooling again. 

We are both working from home doing something we love, and this is the first year since having our first baby 12 years ago that we haven't wondered how much debt we were going to be in after Christmas. 

The Lord has been faithful to provide everything we have needed all of these years and now he is providing more than we could ever have imagined. I will not take this life for granted. I will live with gratitude in my heart for this season we are entering into.

Sitting where I am now, it is easy for me to beat myself up about not being grateful even through the most difficult times. I wish I could say that I had been a better example for my family and friends. But I can't change the past, I can only look toward the future and live with intention. 

I can look back over the last several years, however, and marvel at God's sovereignty.  I can be grateful for every single thing we went through, even for my own mistakes, because they have shaped me to be someone who will not stand in judgment over another person for the way they are walking out their journey. I will not stand in the way of what God is trying to do in another person's life by trying to tell them that I have all of the answers for them like I used to do so often. (I didn't even have the answers for myself. Why did I think I could offer wisdom?) 

The only thing I know for sure  is that God is in control and that he has plans for us that we could never imagine or understand. We have only to trust in him and put one foot in front of the other knowing that if we are his children, he will direct our paths. 

So, I sit here this Christmas morning on my couch crying sweet tears because I am overwhelmed at the mercy he has shown me, the grace he had given me. I don't deserve this life, and yet it is mine, at least today.  

Thank you, Lord! Merry Christmas!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Berkley's maternity pics...

 
 
 
This pregnancy has flown by faster than I ever could have imagined. In a few weeks, we will finally be meeting Miss Berkley Bella. Today, Shelby took some maternity pics for me. I think she did an amazing job. She is an artist.
 
 
 
Emily gave me this beautiful afghan made by her Mother-in-law.  I hope it is Berkley's favorite.
 
 

Some of these photos were taken on our playhouse and some in front of our office building out back. Our new yard is a photographer's dream.
 




 
I am praying for her to be a precious perfect happy baby. Our family has had a very stressful year and I hope the stress of it all will not impact her sweet little heart. She is already loved and wanted and we are anxiously awaiting her arrival.
 
 
I'm 33 weeks. She will be here before we know it!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dreamin of a Lichtenwonderland...


 
Preslie could practically get lost in our new beautiful wooded backyard. We have wanted land for as long as I can remember, and we are finally making that dream a reality. Just roaming around the property is a grand adventure for the kids. Being there brings me so much peace and joy. It gives me hope that we can get back to ourselves...Regain our identity and closeness...have less distractions...remember our value...be free...It's a new beginning. So many new beginnings!
Praise GOD!
 


Jesse was in heaven, running laps through the woods and mapping out the 2+ acres!
 


There is a huge free standing playhouse in the middle of the back property. It needs some repairs, but it's going to be amazing. It even has a look-out deck on top and wrap-around porch of its own.
 

 
Tiny littles amongst the tall trees!
 

Here is a view from the back porch facing the woods. Plenty of room for football or a pool!
 


This is the opposite view from where the girls were standing facing the back of the house. And below is the front of the house looking back from the gated driveway. The home is perfect for us and we can't wait to move in!
 



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bebe thoughts and reveals...


Sweet 18 week bebe with a perfect profile! We had the big ultrasound a few weeks ago. 


We all wore pink or blue that day to vote for our team. 


The big gender reveal came in the form of a piƱata stuffed with either pink or blue candy. 

Me at 18, then 20 weeks. I really wasn't showing this time until right around 18 weeks. I'm trying to stay healthy and exercise as much as I can this pregnancy. My main cravings have been chocolate and red meat! Aside from being tired and super forgetful, I have felt great. This has been my easiest pregnancy so far! I hope I'm not speaking too soon. Using essential oils for headaches and tummy issues has worked magically! I don't think i will ever have to go back to taking prescription medications for my migraines. 


So anyway, surprise, it's bebe Girl! 4 girls and a boy. Wow! Crazy, I know. 

We've pretty much decided on a name too! I just don't want to share until we tell our parents. We can't wait to meet her! She's going to be the most loved and spoiled baby of them all with all of these siblings to shower her with attention. Plus, I'm an old pro now, so she'll just hang out on my hip everywhere I go probably. Going from one baby to two was super hard & a lot to get used to. From 3 on, it's a piece of cake, except for getting in and out of the car and getting places on time. It's so worth it though! Lichtenbabies are well-loved!


This is kind of a marathon "I haven't posted in forever and I'm posting from my phone run-on blog post." Try to deal. I can't string coherent thoughts together today. But, I get an A for effort, right?!

So, here's where I get real and someone will get mad at me, but I won't lose any sleep over it because I'm pregnant afterall...
I also don't know how to change the font below from my phone, and I'm too lazy & busy to find out right now. Have grace.

When you have 4 kiddos, your 5th pregnancy flies by, and you usually want it to. You can't wait to meet this sweet baby, get her all bonded into the family and get on with your life. (That's reality) 


But, honestly, being pregnant at 40 and having no preggo buddies to share preggo stories with is hard for this extrovert! I seriously have started what my friends are calling a post-pregnancy bucket list of all the things I can't wait to do (for myself) when bebe gets here: margaritas, crossfit, more tattoos, girl's nights, have a glass of wine midday w lunch (I've never done that), get in even better shape than before...but wait! Why am I focused on time passing so quickly?


All of those things are fun, but totally selfish in light of the miracle that's happening inside of me. I don't want to wish away the days and months until she's here. Partnering w God in the miraculous creation of life is one of the greatest privileges of a being a woman. I want to savor every change in my body, every movement, every kick and early glimpse that I am lucky enough to get of her while she's in still my womb. I do not want to take for granted this incredible gift, especially in light of the fact that there was a time I believed & was told I'd never have my own babies.  So, if you see me, remind me of this: that I am blessed and chosen and privileged to carry another life into this world! It is a beautiful miraculous thing; the most beautiful experience imaginable. 


I love being pregnant! I love labor and delivery, and I love being a Momma! Momma to five Lichtenkids. Cray.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Family Pics...


Finally posting these. We clean up pretty good. Sure, we may choose very different wardrobes for fam pictures than most, but hey...we are all about color round here. This is us. These pics pretty much sum up our kiddo's personalities. Flora Jones did a beautiful job!

My kids are being robbed of my bloggy rantings, memories and philosophizing lately. I am going to start writing again very very soon! Promise.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Forever changed...


I'm not a very consistent blogger lately and this is a major time of transition for us. I have so much I want to process, share and remember in years to come, but I'm honestly going through a kind of difficult and confusing season & I don't feel like doing it publicly. I'm torn because writing always helps me process, yet I am super cautious and guarded because I've been hurt and betrayed by people I thought I could trust. I've even betrayed myself by not holding fast to my values and also having faulty judgement and sketchy discernment when choosing who I could trust. I have always been a good judge of character, until Enid... It's not this town, just this season of my life. 

Every season over the past 10 years has been consecutively more difficult than the last. It has produced in me a firm faith in the sovereignty of God and a sort of submission/resignation to whatever He has planned for us. Reality has given any idealism I once had about life a tune up. I know that God's good isn't always what I might have considered good and I'm okay with that. I do confess that I long to find joy in that, though. Accepting something and rejoicing in it are two very different things, and I want to rejoice. It's going to have to be super natural. I've seen too much...felt too much...done too much...


If you look closely into my eyes in this picture, even though I am smiling, there is a deep sadness that's waiting for the first opportunity to spill out in tears on my cheeks. It's not always this close to the surface because I have so much to truly be thankful for, but I see it in pictures of myself. I can remember the joyful, hopeful, passionate woman I once was...she just sees the world through eyes that have been forever changed now. 

Still I pray, Lord, could I be her again? Could you help me be me again?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dance bebe dance...

This pregnancy has brought out my inner dancer. I mean, I still have no rhythm, but when music is on I just find myself dancing. Like crazy. It's so weird. Shocking really. But, it's fun and hopefully I'm burning some calories too. My current favorite dancing songs are both Maroon 5 songs. Most people
Know that I have been living under a rock for several years when it comes to pop culture, but fitness classes and running got me hooked on music that I used to just make fun of. I've just recently discovered Adam Levine's magic and Lucky Strike & One More Night are my faves to dance or run to. Blame it one the bebe. He or she will probably be a break dancer or hip hop honey. 

I need this shirt:


Thanks, Adam, for the inspiration...


Monday, March 3, 2014

Lichtenkids...



These kiddos are resilient. They are happy, healthy, strong-willed, creative and too smart for their own good. Because we used to be so structured, so calendar driven and goal oriented, I used to worry that I wasn't raising flexible adventure seekers who hold on to this world and their own plans loosely. 

Thank God that where we lack as parents he is faithful to provide the real life teaching only their Heavenly Father could orchestrate. They've been on this gypsy caravan with us and learned how to adapt to new environments, make new friends, and adjust to new life circumstances over and over. It will build their character, just as it is building ours. 

I am so grateful for their resiliency! Now that we are able to focus in on healing our family, they are regaining their confidence and security and acting like Lichtenkids once again. And, they are looking forward to the next adventure of our lives. 

According to my preggo app, this is what the new bebe might look like in my belly. 
10 weeks...

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's our story...it happens.



I'm reading this book by Anne Graham Lotz. In it, she is honest about the wounds that her family has experienced at the hands of Christians. If we aren't careful, we can make the misguided mistake of believing that churches are super safe zones where people are all kind and we won't be hurt. If that were true, Christians would have no need of a savior. We don't just need him once, at the time of conversion, that's just the beginning. At that point we declare our need for his forgivness of our past sins and grace and mercy for us now and the rest of our lives. If we "get" that, we understand that it's the same for all of our Christian brothers and sisters and that since they aren't perfect either, will needn't put our faith in them, but in God.

That said, some leaders or institutions are relentless in their continued spiritual abuse and/or mistreatment of their flock. We experienced this and acknowledge it and feel that it is important to share at least part of our experience without mentioning names or specific circumstances. Because of this, we decided to put those few deleted posts (edited and re-edited as to not hurt anyone) back up in hopes of identifying with those who have been hurt and proclaiming the healing power of Jesus Christ in our lives. Praise God, we are in a much better place, physically, emotionally and spiritually and he has made beauty from ashes! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Letter to a new daddy...


I am having so much fun finding these old journal entries and letters. This was from my first pregnancy...we really thought she'd be our one and only miracle baby. Wow! Crazy.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The surreal world...new life


I am now 8 1/2 weeks pregnant with our fifth child and it is still hard for me to wrap  my mind around the fact that this is my real life. I could have never anticipated all of the adventures that the last few years would bring, especially this one.


I have 6 pregnancy tests, 2 ultrasounds and 5 weeks of blood tests to prove it along with 3pm - bedtime nausea and an appetite that cannot be satisfied. I should be utterly convinced. I know that it's true, I just have this weird sensation like I am floating through someone else's life...kinda like I am living in a dream world where nothing makes sense, but it's all good. I know that sounds crazy, but hey, it's how I feel. 



                  (Bebe at 7 weeks)

We are all happy and excited and still when the kids and James start listing possible name choices, I feel strangely like we are naming a niece or nephew. Again, crazy...blame it on the hormones. When I start showing, maybe it'll feel real.  I lost 10 lbs the first few weeks, so I started lower than normal. But don't worry, I've gained it all back the last 5 days. Lol. I have been continuing to run and workout this time, so I expect to be back in shape in no time after this surprise bebe arrives. 

  
            (8 weeks...almost a bump)

I cannot believe Preslie is going to be a big sister. My baby won't be the baby of the lichtenhouse in a blink. I'm still gonna cherish every moment with her and all of the lichtenlittles! 

We have our lives back. The last few years chewed our family up and spit us out. God is redeeming the time the locusts devoured. I can feel warmth in our home again and a renewed sense of purpose and worth. Our family is healing and it just feels right...I had forgotten how to live. God gave us life again! (in 1more ways than one!) lol

                          Miss P 4

                      Little LuLu 6

                            Jess 9

                                         Shelbo Macaroni 11
                               Dang, we make beautiful babies!