Sunday, July 26, 2015

Teach them to love and be loved...




When you have a large family, you have plenty of opportunities to teach and practice how to love people even when they deserve it the least. You have to live with these people for at least 18 years, so you can either learn to accept one another's irritating qualities and appreciate the good in one another or you pretty much have to isolate yourself from the family. There's a lot of "different is not always wrong," talk round here. Is exhaustingly hard work trying to make everyone around you change to make you feel more comfortable. It's actually much easier and healthier to just love them even if that seems impossible.

When I was a young teacher at an alternative school, my favorite quote that I carried everywhere with me was, "Those who deserve love the least need it the most." I connected with those kiddos on a heart level that could only be explained as super natural. Regardless of their crimes or how they treated me. I could see their hearts and why they were broken. Of course they would be fighting the world, anyone would. They needed to be loved back to life.
 
Through a series of events over the course of my own life, the Lord has strengthened that muscle in my heart. It probably has something to do with being abandoned by my biological father and rejected by the culture in which I lived at the time, while simultaneously being surrounded by grandparents and a mother who loved me unconditionally. My grandparents were two of the grouchiest most fiery people I have ever met and yet they treated me like a princess. I could do no wrong. I loved them with my whole heart.
 
Now, as an adult, I adore some of the grouchiest, wildest, loneliest most unique people who are often misunderstood by the world. {May have a little something to do with the fact that all of those words can sometimes also describe me.} For most people my life, I can see past the exterior deep into their hearts and I love what I find there. Most people. Not all. I'm not Jesus.
 
Only he can truly see the heart, but if we allow him access to our hearts, we can see people through his eyes. I love Jen Hatmaker's work. Yesterday at WOF she said that quote on the photo of our 4 youngest kiddos above. She also said this, "God loves you and there ain't nothing you can do about it. There's nothing you can do to earn it, so that means there's nothing you can do to lose it." Nothing. 

That's how we feel about our kids. That's how the Lord feels about us. First, we need to help them see how much the Lord loves them and how they can never lose that love. Then, we need to teach them by our own actions how to love others. ❤️ It's out of the overflow of the love God has for us that we love others. It's not about trying. It's just about living out what we believe and what we feel. 
 
It all starts with coming to terms with how deeply and infinitely we are loved by God.
Nothing else matters until we can grasp that.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

If you were wondering about our oily business...

 
 
 
We get questions all the time about our business. All.The.Time. 
I'll give y'all a few brief responses to common questions.
 
What exactly do you do?
Work with my best friends and family...sharing, encouraging & educating people about a lifestyle of natural wellness. We work from home and travel quite a bit. I am the co-leader of an amazing team of people who are super passionate about wellness and sharing what they love.
 
I thought you hated MLMs, why are you doing that?
I did until these oils changed my life and I researched MLMs with a non-critical attitude. Turns out that Donald Trump, Warren Buffet and other Billionaire experts support the MLM concept.

What's so awesome about essential oils that so many people are using them?
Well, they work. Plants were created by the Lord for their nutrition and healing benefits. Essential Oils are the lifeblood of the plant and there are oils to support every single system in our bodies.
 
How in the world was James able to come home and join you in your business?
Our Young Living income surpassed his income to such an extent that it was possible.
 
Why would he even consider quitting his job and coming home?
For Freedom and for our family's wellbeing. We could afford it and our business had taken off to a point that it was almost a full time job for me. We have 5 kids and homeschool. Our youngest was born the month he came home and we are able to support one another in schooling and business.
 
How long did it take you to get where you are?
We've used oils for over 3 years, and been actively pursuing the business for one and a half.
 
How much money are you making?
Rude, but I will give you a pretty good idea below.
 
What in the world do y'all do everyday with all 7 of you home, working and homeschooling?
Drive each other crazy. Seriously, we do sometimes. We are still figuring it out, but it is SO worth the freedom. We travel a lot and work whenever and wherever we want to.


Some of our friends probably just think we are just hippies who sell oils and barely scrape by. Others see our lifestyle and want to know our story because they are tired of "all work and no play" and looking for a more flexible lifestyle themselves where they aren't working for the Man. 
 
Either way, I am an open book and since our business has completely transformed our lives, I am happy to share. What started out as a way to get healthy and rid our home of chemicals first became a lifestyle and over a few years accidentally became a business. I was NEVER gonna sell. I was NEVER gonna be a pushy MLMer. I will never be a pushy MLMer and I haven't had to.
All we did was:
 
Learn it
Live it
& Share it
 
Because I cannot keep my mouth shut about, well, pretty much anything...I always share what I love and hate and what works and doesn't work for me. After we noticed such a huge difference in our family's wellness, and especially my own, I simply shared my story...then shared my oils...with anyone who asked or needed help on their quest to live a more natural life.
 
We used Young Living Oils & products for 2 years before we decided to explore the business side. It had already started taking off just by my sharing, so my paychecks got my attention. Since it was something that we already loved and believed in, it was a no-brainer to just share a little more.
 
It's kind of considered tacky to spill your income to the world, so I won't tell you exactly what we are making, but I will tell you that it is 4 times anything we ever made in the past and I will share the Young Living Income Disclosure with you. The YL compensation plan is organized in levels. I am at Platinum status and very soon will be Diamond after only using Oils for 3 and a half years and only actually working at it for a year and a half. Click this link if you are curious about the kind of income that's possible. It really is. If a non-salesman can do this, anyone can. 
 
MLMs are required to share this, so it is public knowledge, by the way.
Yes, these numbers are real.
 
This is not just a business for us. It's our passion. If you are interested in wellness and possibly making a little or a lot of extra income, email me. I'm all about sharing.
 
If you read all of this and you are like, dang...I am ready now, sign me up,
 
 
Everyone who signs up with me has access to all of our Essential Families educational resources to help get started with oils and with business if they are interested. Our team offers:
weekly members only online classes
private facebook groups
ongoing educational support
marketing resources
teaching resources
over 6,000 new friends who love to share
 
Right now, getting started as a wholesale member of Young Living is $10 off and Here is what you get in addition to two free gifts from me. 
These are eleven of the most common and versatile oils Young Living has to offer. The diffuser is amazing and makes oils available to the entire family at the same time through the air. Everything you need to begin a healthy natural lifestyle and support your body systems is here.
 
 
To find out more about our team, visit:
or email me.
If you have a question I didn't answer, ask it!
 
 
 


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Life with the Ls lately...

 
So this is life? We dream about what we are going to do and be when you grow up. We plan for it, go to college to prepare for it, save money for it, discuss it at length with our friends, family and husbands and pray about it. We have hope chests and dream journals and inspiration boards. We even pin our future plans on Pinterest. But, how many of our lives look like we imagined they would?
 
I mean...my own plans and revised plans and further revised plans still looked nothing like my life. It is quite comical and I find myself wondering if I should even attempt plans. Maybe just fluid dreams and prayers for God to continue to surprise me. I am a wee bit type A, so I highly doubt I can swing that, but I am at least going to try to breathe and be present in my current unplanned life.
5 Kiddos, homeschooling, James and I both working from home and having the ridiculous opportunity to help lead a team with some of my closest old and new friends...
I keep saying that it's my dream come true that I never knew to dream.
 
I mean, please don't misunderstand and think our life is perfect. It's MESSY!
And, of course it's crazy and chaotic and I lose my mind sometimes.
[by sometimes, I mean at least once a day]
 
BUT, it's rich and gritty and real and full of color, passion and emotion. 
Life is a wild adventure and that is true for all of us whether we acknowledge it or not, right?
 
 

Praise the Lord that he has bigger, better and much more creative dreams than me.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Money...how can I have a healthy relationship with you?



For the first time in our adult lives since becoming a single income family 12 years ago with the birth of our first child, we have money left over at the end of the month. The Lord has always provided for every need and most of our wants over the years, but we have never had "extra," never been able to have an emergency fund or save for our children's college...never taken a vacation my parents didn't pay for. And now, now that we do, I'm wrestling with my emotions about it. I just realized that money and I have never had a healthy relationship.

I now see that I actually used to feel a little pride in our struggle. When I saw others spending money on things that I considered to be extravagant, I would pat myself on the back for being such a good penny pincher. When people took family vacations, I would always think of how I could better spend the money that "they wasted." The attitude I had about money as someone who had little, was just as full of icky greed as the millionaire who flashes his status. 

In the message at church today he talked about greed. This is the first time I've ever heard anyone define it as a state of the heart, and not the pocketbook. He said it is our attitude about money that determines whether we are greedy or not. It has nothing to do with how much we make or what we buy. He shared that greed is one of three things that will prevent us from being people of the light. 

I never felt like I was greedy because even when we had little, I shared everything that I had with anyone in need. But, my attitude about those who had more of it was despicable. It prevented my heart from being pure and open to letting God's light fully in. I'm ashamed at the pride and judgement that I felt and the envy that I had for people who actually had a savings account, an emergency fund, were able to save for their kids' college and even go on vacation. I think that because of our financial situation, I never believed that it could be different. I never imagined that we could have the money to do any of those things. Yet, now we can...so, am I one of "those people" who I judged unfairly? 

Our kids can actually take art and guitar lessons without it coming directly out of our grocery budget now, and we don't even have to eat cereal for every meal the last week before our paycheck. We have an emergency fund, a savings account, brand-new college savings accounts, and IRAs for both of us. It's surreal. 

How do you go from scrimping and saving and stretching and worrying and wondering how you will survive as your children grow, to all of the sudden having a little extra? We struggle with this feeling that we shouldn't spend even a tiny bit of it until every single bit of our student loans and van are paid off. When we do spend money on anything that isn't absolutely necessary, we have to shake off that guilty feeling that we are being reckless. 

Some people probably go crazy and spend a ton of money because it's the first time they've ever been able to. I wish sometimes that that was me, and that I could do it without any guilt. I admit, when my paycheck reached a certain level, we made a few extravagant (in our minds) purchases. We bought a new couch to replace our 20 year old couch. It's an awesome leather sectional couch that takes up our entire living room. It's the kind of couch that we never thought we would ever be able to own, yet our entire family is able to sit on it and enjoy one another in the same room at the same time. It is glorious! We also bought that 12 passenger van that I spoke about in the last post. No, we don't have 12 people in our family, but in our other van if even one extra person wanted to ride with us, we had to take an extra car. Now, we get to do amazing things like on Tuesday Emily and her kids are driving up and we're all riding together to Kansas City for spring break. We all got to ride together in the same van this morning to church with grandma Sherri who is in town for the weekend. We can go to the zoo and take the neighbor kids and their parents don't even have to come. Was it necessary, probably not. Will make our lives a whole lot fuller and easier, definitely! 

What happened to my heart over the last several years that makes me feel like I have to justify and explain away every thing I spend? How did my relationship with money get so incredibly jacked up? Ultimately, it all boils down to faith and who I believe is my provider. When I worried we were not going to make ends meet, I was denying the Lord's power to provide for everything we need. When I
carry around guilt for spending money now that we have some, I'm still denying that Lord provides everything that we have. 

Yes, we are to be good stewards of what he provides for us, but we are also not supposed to hoard it! He's very clear about not storing up extra, but instead relying on his daily provision and providing for those in need along the way. I honestly don't struggle with giving, but my heart is still greedy because I find myself thinking that we need to pay off every single debt and save every single penny that we have for the day that is surely coming when our income changes again. 

Pessimism at its finest. My ability to rob myself of the joy of the moment for the fear of what's to come is ridiculous, in fact, it's sin. So, that's what I'm begging the Lord to heal in my heart this season. He's always been faithful to answer my prayers, so I'm excited to see what he does this time! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

So over my opinions...




Lately, maybe it's because I am entering middle age, I have grown weary of opinions. I am a super passionate person and I want to make a difference in the world, but I don't feel the weight of it as much as I did in the last decade. In my 30s I had it all figured out. I mean, all of it. I could give you advice about anything and everything and help you create a Christian self-improvement plan in 5 easy steps. Most of those steps included putting up firm boundaries around your behavior in a handful of areas.

I joke with my friends that life looked pretty and was amazingly smooth in my early 30s because I put myself and my family in a playpen (not a cage, but same concept). Every time anyone tried to crawl out of the playpen, I pulled them back in and we were all safe. I even tried to bring all of my friends into my playpen, thankfully, most of them resisted. The ones who joined me are still untangling themselves from the heavy weight of legalistic ideas we developed.

While inside of the playpen, I could look out at others who seemed to be struggling and form "educated" opinions based on what I knew about their life...Only, what I saw as obvious correlations between actions and circumstances may not have necessarily had a direct cause and effect relationship and even if they did, why was it any of my business. Mostly, I made it my business because I was seeking to live the best life I could, so I wanted to "learn" from other's mistakes so as to not make them myself. Blah blah blah...

We all make mistakes. We learn and grow from those mistakes. Trying to oh so carefully maneuver through life without ever making a mistake is exhausting and impossible. There is NO growth without mistakes. Trees can't even develop a strong root system (foundation) without weather beating against them. Why do we think that we can have any depth of character whatsoever without weathering a few storms ourselves.

Playpens are safe but they are small and after a while they are boring. You can't experience much of the world from inside your playpen and very few people can fit in there with you. It's lonely. It's lame and you can't impact your world or even reach them without screaming really loudly.

I screamed really loudly when I was in my playpen. My opinions were strong and vast. It's when I first started this blog and if you read way back then, you will see what I mean. I am thankful for my playpen, but I am so glad I am free.

Since escaping, I can see that God didn't build the playpen, I did. He wasn't holding me captive or asking me to share my "Christian self-improvement plan" with the world. He wanted me to share the gospel, and thankfully since he can speak through any method he chooses, even a donkey, he did use me to speak truth into some people's lives. He filtered out the yucky opinions I had when I spoke sometimes. I am so grateful for that.

The farther I get from that playpen, the more I relish my freedom. I fight those opinions daily sometimes still, and I have found that actually engaging in some of that behavior that I so strongly judged is curing my of my opinions...I am NOT suggesting that sinning is advisable. I am not even talking about sin. I am talking about those gray areas or even just social hot topics that we love to have opinions about. Like, clothing budgets, social drinking, cars we drive, media we watch and listen to, selfies we take, how much or how little we work out, what we eat, whether we co-sleep, nurse or baby-wear and how we parent...

SO here are a few things I have done in the past few years that I have lived through and also lost my strong opinions about so that I can really love others without analyzing them constantly. I know most people won't care, but my kids will someday, and I never want them to feel the heavy burden of their own or other's opinions, so I share the baby steps out of legalism I am taking:

I now allow myself to drink and enjoy wine or a mixed drink...I can have one or even a few glasses without any guilt and I can see others drinking a glass of wine with no opinion about it.

I bought a new 12 passenger van, because we can afford it and I do not feel guilty for not building an orphanage with the money. Granted, it was so much less expensive than a huge SUV, but still, a $500 per month car payment was grounds for serious Jeanna-unapproving opinions a few years ago.

I can wear leggings without a long dress and allow others to do the same. You laugh, but seriously, the depths of my opinions were limitless.

If I get a Starbucks latte more than once a week, I don't feel that I have to give a long drawn-out explanation of how, "I never spend this kind of money...I have a gift card..." whatever...gross.

I actually ordered clothes from Stitch Fix which seemed crazy extravagant this month, and it wasn't, and I want to tell the world about how much joy it gave me.

I wear tank tops and post pictures of myself that show my tattoos. Watch out. I'm crazy. Just playing, and I never had opinions about that, but my former church and my parents do, so at 41 I am still getting over that one.

I feed my bebe 1 bottle of formula almost every day and nurse the rest. Even if I fed her formula for every meal, I'd be ok with that and have no opinions about others making their own choices.

We have a house cleaning crew clean our house once a month even though we both work from home.(this cracks me up because just a little over a year ago, I owned a cleaning company. lol) It felt kind of ridic at first, but it saves us so much time and we are time people. We value time more than money. If I can pay someone to free me up to spend time with fam and friends, I'd rather give up money than precious time. ---see, I am still making excuses. Let it go, Jeanna.

I put my kiddos in public school for a year last year and it was the best thing I could've done to rid myself of my opinions of public schoolers. We both taught public school, but I realized I had so much pride in the fact that we homeschooled. Putting them in school validated to me that our kids will be fine with or without our home-education and that there are many benefits to both methods. No more judgment.

I have been to a medspa and I have partaken in a few skincare treatments that I swore I never would spend the money on...and not only am I glad that I have, I no longer judge people who do.

After being on staff at two churches and having strong opinions against "church shopping" I no longer shame people for taking their time to make this decision. It is a HUGE one.

I believe God's sovereignty trumps our freewill in a way we will never understand, and I can openly share that, but I will not argue about it, nor do I have any opinions about people who hold the opposite belief.

I have done and still do Yoga and worship Jesus Christ while I do it, but I can also respect that other people think it is wrong without getting defensive.

Oh, and the biggest one of all...I am a working mom. I work around 40 hours a week and I used to have pretty strong opinions about that topic. Ouchie...I'm still reconciling that in my heart, especially since my 5 year old asks me if my very favorite thing in the world is essential oils because that's all I ever do or talk about.

I could go on and on. This is fun. All I am saying is I had a very long and detailed list of don'ts and it was suffocating, paralyzing and off-putting. I am not liberal, even though many believe I am, but I do know where my truth and freedom lie...and it's NOT in opinions. I tell my own head to pipe down when I hear opinions creeping in and I encourage y'all to do the same. The only opinion of us that matters is the opinion of our maker and when we are walking with him, he is well-pleased.







Sunday, February 15, 2015

New Mama must have paraphernalia...

The 5th time around, I have finally discovered some must have essentials for Mamas and their babies.

1) Giant muslin blankets for swaddling and nursing cover-ups. Plus, halo sacks for next level swaddling the squirmers.


2) Pacifiers from the start, all of my babes had pacifiers and none had nipple confusion for nursing. They nursed like pros.


3) Cheap tank tops with built in bras from Walmart, $11- Perfect for nursing and belly cover-up


4) Hats for your crazy bedhead 6 of the 7 week days for quick readiness.


5) Dry shampoo for when you can't wear a hat.


6) Elf face brightener stick to help you look alive (trust me). Swipe a little across your cheeks and the bridge of your nose and you look like you might have slept the night before.


7) Essential oils, (with coconut or grapeseed oil for a carrier oil) and lots of them...Gentle Baby for baby's skin and mood, Patchouli for Mama's mood and body odor issues, Frankincense or sacred Frank for skin, mood boosting and building immunity, Peace & Calming for mood boosting and calming (sensing a theme), Thieves for fighting bugs and immune support, and DiGize for a whole host of tummy issues.


8) MOST IMPORTANT (vanity) item: Spanx leggings. Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth it. More than worth it. I have 2 pairs that I wear almost everyday. these were created by the Lord to help new moms feel as close to normal as possible. Every new mom knows that the sooner you look and feel normal the happier your family will be. They are super soft and comfortable and hold everything in without making you feel like a stuffed sausage. They smooth out lumps and bumps and hide panty lines. I'm gonna buy a case. 

9) Rock n' play sleeper: it's like a bouncy seat, but it's taller and deeper and super portable. Perfect for baby to sleep next to your bed. Berkley has slept in it since day one.


10) Johnson's nursing pads...they are the only absorbsnt disposable pads that are form fitting and not itchy. I can only find them on Amazon.


11) Ningxia Red... It's a nutritional powerhouse drink with literally a truck load of antioxidants. I never have enough time or energy to eat as well as I should and 2 oz of this each day helps me stay nourished.

12) Wubbanub or paci-plushie, these little stuffed animals w a pacifier attached help keep the pacifier from falling out of reach and are easy for even the smallest babe to guide back to their own mouth

13) Oils carrying case and more oils...Copaiba for helping to soothe bebe's mouth discomfort and all of the new mom body discomforts, Fennel for breastfeeding support and tummy troubles, and Idaho Balsam Fir & Oregano for Mama to fight off bugs. I personally use these two to support healthy bladder function.

14) Encouragement to "Embrace the Mess..."

We need reminders that we should accept and try to enjoy our current season of life and it's ok to not be perfect...new mamas need LOTS of encouragement to see the beauty in the dailys. Lots of smiles and nods, lots of help, lots of texts or phone calls to let us know we are not invisible and that people haven't forgotten us and left us alone in a sea of diapers and laundry and tears and stinky milk stained shirts.

AND, lastly, one thing we do not need any part of is GUILT. As we struggle those first few months to be the best possible Mama we can to our first or our fifth, we need to be allowed to be imperfect friends, businesswomen, wives and family members. We need grace from the people in our lives. Grace and space to figure out how to balance all of our spinning plates are essential for our mental health. We might forget a play date, phone call or meeting. We might even forget a really important occasion or appointment. You may text us 10 times before we respond. Don't take it personally or make up a conspiracy theory in your head about how we are mad at you or have forgotten you. 

We are sleep deprived, always on the go, fire fighting, bottom wiping, schedule making (and breaking), keeping the world spinning new baby Mamas. Don't give up on us. We'll figure it out in a few months or years. 

**Please forgive my typos. I blogged this on my phone & removed the pictures because they were blurry. #momlife




Monday, January 19, 2015

White Christmas


So the pictures in the last post were taken just the day before...green grass and like 60 degrees. This day it was obviously a blizzard. So beautiful!

 
 

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...