Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kids being kids

Let me preface this post by saying, many of our days are at home and monotonous. I am so thankful to be able to stay home with the kids but many days I lose my patience and am overwhelmed. My house is a mess (I often look around our home and think "Wow, it looks like 4 little kids live and play here!") So please don't look at this post and see a fun adventure and believe every day is like this one in the Southards' home. Most days are just like your days (if you are home with little ones). Cleaning up messes, breaking up fights, keeping a 16-month old from falling off the dining room table he now climbs or keeping him from pulling a fistful of hair from one of his sisters, watching tantrums unfold in a 2-year-old and reminding her I am the boss, trying to help a passionate 4-year-old understand his emotions and learn to control them, and helping a 6-year-old with her spelling words, build confidence in herself and to be grateful with all of our blessings.

But there are some days, we get out and explore. I love being outside and now Stetson is down to one afternoon nap, we have freedom to go out in the morning. This is the perfect time of year as fall is absolutely amazing here in Ohio. 

This past week, the kids and I were going to go for a walk in the woods. Where we live in Ohio, there are some amazing parks that have trails through the woods. There are so many we have yet to explore. This particular day we were just going to appreciate the fall weather, find leaves and rocks and let kids be outside enjoying nature.

We ended up finding a part of the trail I had not been on before and we found a place to get near the river and let the kids throw rocks into the water.

It started as nicely standing by the edge of the water throwing rocks and turned into, soaking wet, almost naked kids running around getting themselves so messy.

I have learned that kids are often having the most fun when they are a mess. So I have learned to get out of my box and let them be kids and get themselves messy. Even if it means, going home nearly naked and having to grab all new clothes before heading to a lunch meeting at church.

These are the days I love being at home, watching our kids be kids!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Best week of my life

Ok, the title might be a little exaggeration but it was one of the best weeks in the last 7 years.

Steve and I got away kid free for almost a week!

Since having kids Steve and I have been diligent about getting away annually for a night or two, but there is something so different about being away longer. Due to me breastfeeding each of the kids so long, and then usually being due with another baby soon, we had not had many windows of opportunity to get away for longer. We did get away for an extended time after our miscarriage and my health scare 3.5 years ago, but I was recovering and didn't have energy for much adventure that trip. It was a great time to rest and rejuvenate, but I wouldn't classify it as fun. 

We fly a couple times a year and I had been waiting almost 7 years to fly without a child, to walk on the airplane with a hot drink, knowing I could enjoy it at my leisure and not have a baby or toddler crawling all over me.

Needless to say, I was a little giddy flying out with just my husband by my side.

We went out to Phoenix to spend 3 days with a counselor out there who specializes in working with pastors and their wives. So yes, the first few days were spent with a guy pointing out the areas of marriage and ministry we needed to work on (in regards to marriage I had a longer list than Steve) and it was still an amazing week! Steve and I value staying Fit (physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally) so we welcome feedback from trusted sources on ways to improve in any of those areas. We really came away with some practical tools to implement in our marriage to grow more as "one."  I personally believe every marriage could use a tune-up every so often to stay on track and find ways to work together better. 

Top of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix

 This Florida girl had never seen the dessert before and those big cactus had me laughing. They looked like they belonged in a kids book. We hiked Camelback mountain (in Scottsdale) one morning which I was not at all prepared for. I wouldn't call it a hike, I would call it rock climbing, I felt like we were scaling boulders for the last half mile. We had a blast doing it and I felt a sense of accomplishment as we reached the top. Especially since one of the locals said he was impressed we were "tourist" because we had a such a quick pace up the mountain. There might just still be a bit of competitive spirit in this once-upon-a-time athlete, that I enjoyed hearing that comment. 

We then blitzed Sedona and the Grand Canyon in 24 hours. We did a sunset Jeep tour in Sedona.

It was fast and furious but being so close to the Grand Canyon I would have hated to miss it. Steve had been there before, but it was my first time. We did a short 3 mile hike at Grand Canyon that felt like a piece of cake compared to the hike at Camelback. 

My Mom flew in from Florida to watch the kiddos and we were so so grateful for her to allow us that time away. We had many other local friends helping her as we wanted her to have a great experience so she would come back and do it again! The counselor recommended we get away annually like this and we are all for that. It was so much fun being just husband and wife, without being dad and mom. One of the best things we can do for our kids is invest in our marriage, so even though one of our kids begged us to come home on day 2 of the trip, we let them know that is was super important for mommy and daddy to have time alone so we could kiss a lot. That made them cringe and not ask any more questions.

Friday, September 25, 2015

God's plan

God has a plan that is always better than ours, but He isn't going to force his plan upon us. He gave us free will to choose his path or our own. So many times we get it wrong, think that maybe he is sleeping on the job, and cling to our plan, our way, control things so they make sense to us. 

The times I have humbly walked the journey seeking His face and asking for wisdom to follow his plan, he has been so faithful to answer those prayers.

Sometimes when seeking direction he gives us the choice, sometimes he clearly directs our steps.

One year ago this week, we committed to moving our young family across the country to a city we did not know, to a people we did not know. All because Steve and I seek to serve God and follow his plan. 

Dayton is a very steady place, people don't move a lot (unless you are military as the Air Force has huge base here, we often get the question if we are military from people we meet out and about, because not a lot of young families move here). Many young mom's I have met say things like "you are so brave," "I could never leave my family," "I couldn't do that." 

If you are a follower of Christ who seeks to glorify him and serve him in all you do, yes, you too would do this. Because if you have walked with the Lord long enough, you too have learned that it is much better to be in a foreign city while being in God's plan, than being in a familiar place where you are comfortable, following your own plan for you life.

It doesn't have to be moving either, God might be calling you to do something out of your comfort zone that you are dragging your feet in fear of the unknown. It seems easier to be safe in your plan that to boldly step out in faith. But friend, you are missing out if you are playing it safe.

Steve spoke this past June at a conference called Be Bold. His sermon is a great reminder of why we chose to move our 4 little kids away from a church and community that we absolutely loved, to go to a place that we never thought we would live. Take some time and listen to his sermon and ask God to challenge you and show you an area of your life he wants you to Be Bold.

(go down to Session 4, for some reason I couldn't get it loaded)

We have been humbled to see what God has done this last year after we took one step of obedience. 

Right before we moved I did a Beth Moore study "Children of the Day" with some ladies at Indian Creek. There was a scripture that stuck out to me big time and became my prayer for our move to Salem and my prayer for our relationship with the people of Salem and with the community around it.

1 Thessalonians 2:8
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

I am doing the exact same study right now with new women at Salem and I was rereading over that scripture during my time in the word one morning this week. I have been using an old Bible of my Father's that I found during our move for my study recently. He has it all marked up and I have enjoyed reading some of his notes. When I started reading that scripture in his Bible, I couldn't believe what I saw.

You see, my parents were on staff at Salem for about 3 years, just enough time to bring me and my little brother into this world and leave an impact on people here. There are many at Salem that remember me about Presley's age running around. I do not have any memories of our time here as I was about 3 years old when we moved. Thirty years ago my parents were praying that exact same scripture over their time at Salem. 

I thank my parents for raising me and my brothers to love The Bride (the local church) and they gave us an amazing example how to share both the gospel and authentic lives with others. 

I was reminded that we are on God's timeline and plan. Salem is 120 years old. Our family is only here for a blip on that large timeline. God has used so many amazing men and women over the years to lead and serve at Salem and we are just humbled that he has chose us for a time like this.  

And to think, if we had chosen "our" way to stay put and stay comfortable, we would be missing this amazing ride!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Is this Home Sweet Home?

 Team Southards has put an offer on a house this week. 

It is a long story that started finding this home over a year ago before we had even fully committed to moving to Dayton. 

God's hand has been all over this situation from the beginning.

We have looked and looked at other homes, and this one has come on and off the radar over the last year, but we knew through prayer the time was not right before.

Our prayer the whole time has been to either clear wide the path to this home or slam the door shut if it is not a wise move for our family. 

Most recently, the path has been cleared and we are taking steps until we end up with the house or the door is shut.

We are dealing with the banks (it is a short sale).

We have very specific prayers we are praying that I will share if we end up with this home. I will also share the whole story about the home because it has been such a journey of growing and waiting.

Asking others to join us in prayer for this home. 

Praying for:
- God's hand to either clear the path or shut the door
- Favor with the bank
- For the details to work out in a way that leave people scratching their heads wondering "how that happened?" allowing us to give God the glory

This home is on 5 acres with a creek, pond, woods, and a ton of area for the kids to run around and be kids and for us to host people in our home. 

Thanks so much for joining us in prayer!

Just a glimpse of the home, this is where I would be having my morning quiet time and coffee

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Closing one chapter and starting a new one

2 weeks ago I weaned Stetson 

88 months ago I found out I was pregnant with Payton

In the last 88 months I have spent:

44 months pregnant

52 months breastfeeding

8 months pregnant and breastfeeding

4 months not pregnant or breastfeeding

Gained and lost 150 pounds

Held 4 new babies in my arms

Sent 1 baby to heaven earlier than expected 

I am so so thankful for each one of our babies and for the fact I was able to breastfeed.

The chapter of having babies and nourishing them from me has ended. 

These past 7+ years have given me a glimpse of sacrificial love. 

We close this chapter and look forward to what the future holds.

 A little trip down memory lane


I went 1 whole month longer, 2.5 weeks overdue!

Payton 6 months old and she had cheeks!





And now we are a family of 6, starting a new season of life!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Getting outside and Riding Horses

I know I didn't post much after our move to Ohio and during the winter months. That was mostly because I wasn't sure I needed to report that we sat inside most of the winter and hibernated. We moved to a new place and had started making some friends and I had some playdates, but our calendar was pretty clear and we did the same thing every day. Needless to say, we are so thankful for the warmer weather so we can get outside and start exploring Ohio. Moving to a new place provides opportunity for new adventures. 

So we have been getting outside more and yesterday was one of the most exciting days for Payton since we moved here because she finally got to ride a horse. We have new friends Josh and Shala that were in our Life Group and when we first met Shala this winter, Payton learned that Shala used to show horses when she was younger and her parents still had horses. Shala has 2 little boys and she told Payton she would love to take a little girl out on her horse Mack. Payton has really loved the idea of horses for a few years and we looked into lessons that but they were really pricey and we weren't sure about spending that much money on something we weren't even sure if she would like.  She was elated that yesterday she finally got to ride Mack. All the kids enjoyed him.

We have also been exploring different parks, fishing at friends homes, and taking walks and getting rewarded by cops for wearing helmets.

Presley thinks she needs her shirt off right now when the boys have their shirts off.

Payton has 4 days of school left then we head to Florida for our Wiens family beach vacation. We are so excited for summer. We have a lot of fun trips planned and we love being outside!

A little KC in Ohio

This past week we had some of our best friends, really friends like family, from KC visit us. Zack and Hil and their sweet twins Reese and Ava were our next door neighbors in KC. They have been on this blog a lot. Neither of us had family in the KC area, so we were really like family for each other. They were here much of last week and we had some fun outings and some fun hanging home together. We loved being able to kick back and laugh real hard with great friends. Here is picture overload.

We visited our local Children't museum called Boonshoft for the first time since moving here. We got a family annual pass from Grandpa and Mimi Wiens, so we will be going back again soon.

We got donuts for breakfast, had story time, did crafts and played at our house

Friday we visited the Columbus Zoo and finished the evening with pizza and a movie!

 We also had some of our favorite KC food delivered to us. We had our all-time favorite pizza, Michelle had Eric cook some of his famous ginger pork (stetson had for the first time and he out ate his siblings) and The Zimmer's sent some of the best KC BBQ sauce our way. We loved having the KC goodies, but loved have the KC people even more!