Take in the scenery

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I am not sure how one little stretch of road could mean so much to me! But this stretch, it gets me ever time!!

This stretch of road means so much to me. I can barely walk down it without tearing up. There are large pictures of adopted children and posters that say, “RUN FOR MORE” and “YOU DID IT”.

Why? Because at the end of this stretch is the finish line of a half marathon and 5K that benefits adoptive families. Chosen is the organization that puts it on and we ran with them for two years while in the process of adopting Zoe. These people became our friends, our support and really they became like our family. We are huge fans of Chosen in the way they have help us in the past and how they continue to lend their support to so many adoptive families!

Back when Chosen had a marathon (2013) I ran that with our team. Team Tapley Ever After had 15 or so people running for purpose, these friends trained with us and really put their money where their mouth was. Training (suffering) together is real love and there are many memories that I can recall fondly. This stretch of road signified the end of a MARATHON! 26.2 miles! The girls I ran the whole thing with slowed down a bit and allowed me (without my knowledge) to sprint this part out alone. Tears streaming down my face, it signified so much more than the finish of a race. It signified the finish of this incredibly difficult journey, and that my family wasn’t alone in it thanks to our family, friends and Chosen.

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Team Tapley Ever After! Blood, sweat and tears and all the memories!

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Just a few pics from the 2014 Chosen Race and those who ran for Tapley Ever After

The following year was a really tough time in our adoption process. Team Tapley Ever After showed up again, and this time with around 25 people supporting us and running with us! As I ran this stretch of road I began crying out to the Lord that we wouldn’t need to do this for our family again; that next year we could support a different family. Begging Him that next year at this race, Zoe would be home. It wasn’t as beautiful as the year before but it was desperation, asking Him to show me where the finish line would be. It would be 10 months later that Zoe finally arrived home.

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2015 Tapley Family at the Chosen Race

And just two months after arriving home in America, Zoe stood at the finish line placing finisher medals around the necks of those having run for a cause much greater than themselves. It was in that moment surrounded by some of my amazingly sweet friends I realized how significant that was. We were finally on the other side of the finish line, and now it was our turn to cheer for those that we running that hard race, to support them as the finished, and to love them through their struggles.

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Yesterday was the third year that Zoe was able to medal the finishers, and it never gets old. Seeing people cross the finish line is so incredible. They have just accomplished so much, some run in strong, proud of how they performed, some run in dog tired and beat up (that course is NO JOKE!), others run in full of emotion and my heart understands! The finish line of this particular race is really just an awesome and meaningful place.

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Zoe giving a well deserved medal to a finisher! 2017 Chosen Race

Isn’t that us just day to day? Some days I finish and think “Wow I OWNED today! Really! Great Job Jeanette!!” Other days I barely finish the day awake because of how tired I am and then there are the days when I have just too many emotions to even function. I think more than anything this sweet stretch of road reminds me that I am not alone. God is lending His ever present ear to me, I have friends at the finish line cheering me on, reminding me that I am strong enough to finish well.

So my thought is this… How can we do this better? Can we look up from our own race, as tired as we may be, and encourage someone? YES! Can we see that they may be struggling and help them? YES! Can we even grasp that at the end of our race (or challenge) that we will be able to support someone is a whole new way? I Think YES!

So look up, and reach your hand to either be supported or be supportive. And while your eyes are up, take in the scenery it’s a beautiful world we live in!

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One of my favorite views!

 

 

How my life changed with 2 friends, a book and the gym!

I am a HUGE fan of women’s bible studies, and as I admitted in my 10 Things you don’t know about me I have just this week finished and completed my first Bible study book ever! My Pastor Dad and Bible Study leading mother are so proud I am sure.

Anyway, I love the idea of gathering together, growing, stretching and making new friends. When I moved to Texas from Alaska 5 years ago I was super lonely. I knew one other family and that was it. We left our home, our family, and our church just like we believed God had told us to, and we were here in Texas alone. One day, in a mess of emotions, I told my Jesse just how low I was feeling. There had been so many changes. Alaska to Texas, no family, I had just sent my first born off to kindergarten, Jesse was working a new schedule that we weren’t used to, and honestly was just desperate for community. We started going to a small church, and I started at a new gym. Titus and I started going to MOPS and we joined other mommy and me groups. I was so in need of friendship. I know that I function better when I’m connected to others. The gym of all places was where I found those people who I would soon call friends.

There was this crazy pretty blonde that taught most of the classes that I was able to go to. As I began to get into the routine I got to know some more of the people around me, and the pretty blonde, her name is Lindsay, and I started to talk a little and she invited me to a Bible study that she led right there in the gym. After Wednesday’s body pump or cycle class we would meet in the childcare room, sit on the floor, and she would lead a small group of sweaty women. That group quickly became my friends. It was beautiful and so real. There was one day when I was loading  Titus into the car and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, “WOAH!” I thought, “I look rough! How in the world have I made friends looking like this?!” That’s when I knew these people were solid. Then one day standing over a cycle bike one of these sweet girls, Holly, handed me a book, “Read this! Jeanette, it’ll change your life!” I giggled, I love to read but how could a book change my life?!

The beautiful blonde you see is OBVIOUSLY Lindsay and That lovely lady with the beautiful smile is Holly. Who would’ve thought that God could change my life with two friends and a gym membership!?!

I dove into the book, Kisses From Katie, head first. I was reading, devouring this young girl’s story and about half way through the book I shut it and looked up at Jesse and I quote, “Jesse, I think we need to adopt or like sponsor a 100 children in Africa.” He calmly told me to, in his words, “pump the brakes,” finish the book and see how it ends. But I felt that quiet tug. The Lord whispered, “I called you to be a mom. There are a TON of babies with no mom. What are you going to do about it?!” Let me rewind a bit here and tell you that when I was little and was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up I would answer very firmly, ” A mom.”
So, Jesse and I talked a little bit more and he told me he’d pray about it. Classic husband just trying to appease his wife. A few days later he looked at me and said, “A girl right?! What would we name her?”

BOOM there it was. We jumped into this world of adoption.

Ok now back to the bible study, the girls in that group were some of the first people I told about this new venture. They were the first ones praying for her, and in Bible study we were going through the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith.” Lindsay would dive into each of the hero’s listed story. Over and over in Hebrews 11 it is said “By Faith that ____” and so often these heros of the bible- Sarah, Abraham, Enoch, Noah- followed the Lord blindly doing the craziest things. So often they didn’t even get to see His finished work. Noah built the ark, a boat that he had no idea what that even was and he followed God’s CRAZY specific instructions for like 100 years all by faith.

As we went through this I was so glad that God was calling me to something easy and short. I really can’t help but laugh. From the time we said YES we will adopt, to the day Zoe was actually in America and in my arms was almost 3 years. Now that’s not as long as some others waited and by far not the longest process I’ve ever heard of, but it was long and grueling and hard.

 By Faith, I believed the Lord called me to this.

 By Faith I knew he wouldn’t fail me.

 By Faith I knew that He had a better plan for this little girl I would get to call my own.

After the Bible study had ended and changed, as seasons do, those girls were still my go to people. And near the end of our process when circumstances were hard and my faith weary it was that group that stood by my side. It was them that held my weak arms up and wouldn’t let me give in. They said, “We are with you to the end” and they were. And they still are!

We have some beautiful photos that were taken at the airport and it was a freaking party. Zoe can and will tell you now that she came home sad, and confused, BUT she will also tell you there were a lot of people there to celebrate her homecoming. That is because it wasn’t just my victory or my family’s victory it was all of ours, Zoe was an orphan no more!! That group had expanded my heart, and my reach. Those women cried with me, and prayed, and gave, and connected me with new people. And my favorite part is that it all started on the floor of a child care room in a gym. In a place where we sat, with little to no makeup, and we were real and open with each other. That, guys, is the key. Be real. Be honest. Be open. Be a friend.

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This is only half the people! That was a party!! I love looking back at these faces. I see so much JOY!!

Where can you be real today? How can you meet a friend right where she is? What can you do to open yourself up now to find community? I know that it’s not easy and I know that it’s terrifying to walk into new places and not know anyone, but what if today you were just a little bit braver? What could that look like? Let’s be bold and full of faith together!

I started using the gym to Punish myself not Push myself…

Today as I write this it is Monday. As I got up and got ready for the gym this morning, I felt the weight of the weekend on me. I felt sluggish, heavy, and full. Over the weekend we had a family pizza night, tacos, and more tacos. All. The. Tacos. We had dinner and drinks with friends and while it was all super fun and much needed, I could tell this morning I had overdone it. None of these things are necessarily bad, but what is bad, is this: I was emotional all weekend. My heart was heavy so I ate and drank my feelings and in doing that, I over did it!

Walking into the gym this morning was pretty much the same as it is every morning, but today I had the added pressure of knowing that I over snacked, over dipped and over sipped all weekend, and that pressure was telling me that I needed to work harder, run faster and basically punish myself for my bad decision making. But that’s not the relationship I want to have with the gym.

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Looking happy or pretty while lifting is NOT ALLOWED! Only serious CrossFitters here!

 Punishing my body doesn’t sound fun. It sounds hurtful, and full of shame. Here are reasons why I love going to the gym: I have awesome friends that I get to workout with. I can work hard and surprise myself with lifting heavy weights. I am a healthier and fitter me because of the gym. Going to the gym makes me happy, and as the ever famous Elle Woods once said, “Exercise gives you endorphines, endorphines make you happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t!” Thank you Legally Blonde for always speaking truth to me!8f14ffc1ea8f3c41afafd5f8f724eee8--moment-quotes-movie-quotes

So as I finished my workout today I thought, “I don’t want to punish myself I want to push myself mentally.” How do we as women, moms, wives, and friends combat this feeling of punishment when we know we’ve slipped up?! Well, I am not a fitness blogger, and no one ever comes to me for this sort of advice so I went to someone who is smarter than me. Kelsey Flanagan is kind, wise, helpful and as sweet as can be. She is passionate in helping people in all walks of life to create a happier and healthier versions of themselves.

So here are Kelsey’s thoughts below…..

The relationship with most people and gyms can be unhealthy. But we can get in control of that.

How? Think about your relationship with food or anything you cling too. If you want to see a change you will first have to be AWARE of the emotion you have attached to that “thing” whether it’s gym, food, family, drugs, alcohol.  The first step is awareness.

Once you have recognized that – you then should ask yourself

“Why?” Why do I do what I do? Why do I love the gym? Why do I go to the gym? Once you have some reason and why you will start to see the pattern. Whether it’s because you feel good when you leave, you want to be stronger,  you get the spend time with your friends, you finally get an hour to yourself, or you want to work off the cupcakes you had. All of these reasons are pretty positive except that last one. So now, ask yourself  “Why do I do that to myself? What about that action don’t I like?”

It’s the question game. Ask until you finally root to the problem then come up with a solution. I have struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food so this speaks to me. I’ve taken these steps below to step back and recognize what I was actually doing. Try it out and see what you come up with.

Step 1. Awareness (Journal feelings & shifts you’d like to see and notice)

Step 2. Ask yourself open ended questions

Step 3. Recognize the root issues

Step 4. Come up with ideas for a solution

Step 5. Find 1 thing that can make your relationship with the gym just a little bit better.

Whether that is: Shifting your motivation more positive. –Giving yourself the permission to forget and forgive yourself for your actions. –Working hard everyday at the gym instead of those days you “need” to.  –Writing down your reasons why you go to the gym everyday. –Taking the time to be more mindful of the decisions and what caused them.

Understanding your WHY is something we often forget about. I’ve been doing more gratitude and asking myself, “why am I doing what I’m doing”, and “how is that working for me?” These 2 questions always lead me back to my Why. My Why is to have the energy to give the help, love, and ears people desire the most. The gym gives me energy it’s my happy place, but hasn’t always been.

Why do you go to the gym everyday or on the days you “should”? An hour to prove to yourself that you are strong, worthy, and amazing… Or. An hour to punish yourself for the decisions you’ve made… When you are aware of the different mindsets you will be able to distinguish a trend and become more aware. Appreciate your hour.

So now here I am really thinking through these things. I love going to the gym, because I know it makes me a healthier mom, a happier mom, but over all a happy and healthier me. I love the way the gym makes me feel. I feel stronger, happier, and even sexier when I go into the gym with the mentality of “getting to go” vs “having to go.” I don’t NEED to go to the gym, I get to go! I don’t NEED to punish my body. My body has already proven itself to me I am stronger than I think both mentally and physically. I like my body and sure I should watch what I eat and treat it kindly but I will now be mindful of my Whys and my actions!

I am just so thankful for Kelsey and her wisdom. She was so kind to sit with me and talk this out. As the weekends come I know that I will be thinking more and more about this and really examining my actions!

Kelsey can be found at Be Fitness Happy or you can email her at Befitnesshappy@gmail.com and while you are at it check her out on Instagram too Here!.

Alright friends, go be mindful and think about you WHYS, why are you stuffing that cupcake in your mouth? Why are you drinking that extra glass of wine? What about that extra mile or _____fill in the blank_____. If its not inline with your Why let’s ask some of those questions!

10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

I got this idea from one of my sweet ChicTribe friends…

10 things you don’t know about me:

I come from a blended family. My parents married when I was 6 and I often forget that my stepdad is not my biological dad. I always have to think about it when it comes to medical history at any new doctor’s office.

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My family! Don’t I look just like my dad! That’s why I forget!

Jesse and I were dating only 2 months before he proposed. And he popped the question at my senior homecoming dance, well, after the dance. That means I spent my whole senior year of high school engaged! We were young and crazy, and so many bet (literally put money down) that we wouldn’t make it, but joke’s on them. Thirteen years later we are still all heart eyes for each other… most of the time.

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Jesse and I after we started dating. We were on a youth group trip, because we were still in youth group.

My cousin Melissa is my very best friend. We have fought over the years and that created some distance but have always made it back to each other. One time when we were kids she got bossy and pushed me off a recliner. My head hit the corner and cracked my head open. We talk about it all the time because she doesn’t remember it happening….convenient.  

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Cousins make the best of friends because no matter what…you’re family!

 

My life feels like it is in shambles if it not scheduled in a planner. Paper planner and on my phone. If it is not written down, it will be forgotten. My favorite app is Cozi and the planner I’ve used this year and will probably purchase again later this year is Anchored Press (it comes with devotionals in it for the week and I love having it all together!).

I don’t think I have every fully finished a Bible Study book. I always have the best of intentions but fail every time! I just started a new one and I’m going to try so hard to do all the days. Keep me accountable, k!?!

I didn’t read the Harry Potter books until I was 27 (which was 4 years ago). I feel like I missed out and should’ve read them earlier! But at the same time I am so glad I waited so I could enjoy them fully with my kids.

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Zoe obviously loved being at Hogwarts with us!

I cry a lot. I think most people who know me know this about me, but if we are just meeting and becoming friends, you should know that I cry. I just have a lot of feelings, and they manifest in tears. Happy, sad, mad; it all comes out via tears. What gets me the most are those darn Olympic commercials!

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Doesn’t everyone cry while watching their children parade around a restaurant with Lilo and Stitch?!

I didn’t enjoy a normal cup of coffee until I moved to Texas five years ago. Prior to moving here I worked at a really fun coffee hut in Alaska where we made delicious drinks full of syrup and milk with shots of espresso… like starbucks but WAY better. So when we moved to Texas I bought a coffee pot and started becoming an adult.

I collect Starbucks ‘You Are Here’ mugs. My mom and one of my sisters collects them too so it’s fun to compare. I’m not sure how many I have but Jesse just had me reorganize our coffee cabinet to clean out some older, non-starbucks ones. Here’s the kicker though: I don’t really enjoy Starbucks coffee, just their mugs!

I know. It’s a problem. That’s a lot of stinkin mugs! But I see them and I think, “Ok Starbucks! Take my money!”

I grew up a Southern Baptist pastor’s daughter. There was a short time when we weren’t in church but for the most part my childhood was centered around the church building, and I loved it. Sure, there were times when we had some unnecessary pressure put on us, but I feel like growing up as a PK (pastor’s kid) was fun and it taught me about community in a really unique way. Do I still have issues wearing tank tops to church? YES.

Man, this was actually pretty hard! I tend to overshare so to think of some unknown things could’ve gotten dicey. But there you have it, a little bit about me!img_5779

Big thanks to my friend Prue over at House of Skirt blog for letting me snag this idea from her! Go check her out on her blog and on Instagram @the_house_of_skirt

Disney World in a Nut Shell

Oh my goodness, I feel like I haven’t sat behind my computer in ages. Mostly because I haven’t! We got home on last Monday from a ten day family vacation to the Most Magical Place on Earth, DISNEY WORLD.

We met ALL the Princesses. Merida was one of my favorites

I have decided that I am no better than a child while walking down Main Street USA gazing up at Cinderella’s castle with stars in my eyes. You can just feel the joy, the magic, and the happiness. It just makes me smile, and to experience it this time with all three of our kids just added to the experience. I have a little video of the kids walking around the corner and seeing the castle for the first time and Zoe’s mouth literally falls open. It was so much fun! I wanted to use this post to share just a few of our favorite things about this trip:     **In no particular order!**

Disney World 2017


  1. We tried to set the kids up for the character interactions as best we could. We used a really neat Disney Animated Encyclopedia and had the characters sign their page, but on each page before we left we wrote down questions for the kids to ask the characters. We wanted to keep the experience more than just an autograph and a photo. I was really proud and excited when the boys would ask the questions and do their best to keep the conversation going. One of my favorites was when Titus asked Mickey, “When are you going to propose to Minnie?!” then he followed it with, “If you don’t she’s going to find another mouse.” Mickey made it so much fun and we all giggled about it the rest of the day.
  2. Bippity Boppity Boutique, somehow Zoe found out about this on YouTube Kids. We planned this to be her birthday present and she was so excited. It also worked at that when we scheduled the appointment (last minute… because it was on me to set this up, not Jesse) there was availability at the Castle. So in we go; she changes into a beautiful little gown and I cry because I’m seeing this girl grow up before my very eyes. I know that some day soon I’ll be helping her into a wedding gown and my heart just cannot handle that! Then she gets hair and makeup and her nails painted and she’s just soaking it all up and loving every minute. I loved this time alone with her because I was able to take a step back and really see her. My beautiful little girl who has overcome so much. She’s a fighter with the glitz and glamour of a princess.

  3. One day while we were walking around Jesse said, “I am going to thank or say hi to every cast member (the people who work for Disney) by name.” So he did, and the boys and I followed suit. It was so funny to hear Zeke yell, “Thanks Bob” randomly while we were in line or after we were handed food. I hope it helped our boys to overcome some fear of talking to adults and I really hope that it gave the Cast Members a little bit of a smile.
  4. As we walked into the Magic Kingdom one day, a Cast Member walked up to Zoe (who was wearing a her princess dress) and asked for her autograph. She signed her name and then curtseyed. It was SO cute!
  5. One of my favorite characters to meet was Chewbacca. We took some pictures and he was observant and noticed Jesse and me signing to Zoe. He looked to Jesse and asked *In sign language* if she was deaf. Jesse responded Yes, and then Chewbacca asked Zoe what her name was. She was so shocked to see him signing she just smiled SO SO big. It was so neat and Jesse caught it all on video. Here’s the Link Chewy Signing.

    He gives the best hugs!!

  6. Titus is by far our most timid kid when it comes to rides. He straight up jumped off of one in DisneyLand and didn’t even care! So when it came to some of the big rides, like Expedition Everest he was nervous. In just a casual conversation he mentioned being nervous to a cast member and she said, “Go try, if you do it I’ll get you a Mickey Ice Cream bar.” That ice cream bar gave him the courage he needed and he did it!! He went to her and she paid up, she was so excited with him and it was just so neat to see her invested with him.

We ate pizza while sitting in the grass at our hotel. We laughed over silly jokes that weren’t really funny. We played, we walked A LOT, and we were together non-stop. We watched our boys interpret for their sister, and watched their eyes light up during the fireworks. But that doesn’t mean it was always magical; I called one child a snotty brat, two of our kids had a fist fight in line, and one of them was the maddest princess of all time. Ten days was a long time to be gone but I think it was so good for us to be in “the bubble” with each other. The outside world didn’t matter. It was just us five with some Princesses, some Jedi’s and a Mouse.

A dream come true! MOANA!!!!

Sick with comparison!

It’s a sickness we all deal with, maybe women more than men, but I don’t think that’s even true and there I go doing it yet. Lately I have found myself in this habit of comparing. Comparing myself to people I love, comparing how my kids behave, comparing how much weight others have on their bar at the gym, how nice or fun their vacation was, how their marriage is, how skinny they are, how their hair looks…I mean I really could go on and on. This is the cycle I’ve been in and it has got to stop. There are times when I can check myself pretty quickly and get it under control, but then there are times when I let this sickness of comparison sit and fester. When I do that, I notice it taking over all areas of my life. I get grumpy and dissatisfied and just ugly.

I hate comparing myself to my friends. I love being a friend, a cheerleader, a shoulder for them to cry on, a sounding board when they need to think something out and I truly think my friends are the best. They are lovely and sweet and kind and strong and beautiful. They are gifts straight from God, and when I compare myself to them I take away my joy for them. I take away my support and I use it not only to hurt myself and my family but it can hurt them too.

I am convinced that social media really hurts us in this. We get to see everyone’s highlight reels. How beautiful their beach trip was or how nice their new car is and ‘Oh look at the straight A’s their kid got!’. It’s so hard to step back and think rationally sometimes. For example, one of my sweet friends from the gym went on a beautiful beach trip with her family earlier in the summer. They sold their house, got an amazing deal on their dream home and in the middle of that process they went on another quick beach trip to visit her dad. She posted an adorable picture of her girls on the beach (Why wouldn’t she? Her girls are absolutely precious) and my first thought was, “Hmph must be nice.” I literally just judged her!! WHY?!?! Why is my heart so ugly?

So to check myself before I wrecked myself, I said to myself… out loud because that is what one does when they are that close to “wrecking oneself”. “Jeanette Tapley are you kidding me?! You JUST got home from Disney World and you have yet another trip to Disney World planned next month! You are stupid! Don’t steal your friend’s joy and don’t you dare compare!!”

I really hope that I am not alone in this because if I am, then I need Jesus to just come now and Glory Glory Halleluiah it’s over! But I know that I am not because I see it all over magazines and self help books and in Bible studies; it’s an epidemic and friends we need to stop!

5a32ba1431fd5b034fdde93a29098464--joy-quotes-theodore-roosevelt“Comparison is the thief of Joy” -Theodore Roosevelt

When we compare ourselves to others we are not only taking a joy from them but we are taking joy from us. All of a sudden we don’t have enough or we aren’t enough. And really when it gets down to it I think it comes down to Jesus/ God isn’t enough. I think when we feel ourselves getting sick with the comparison bug we need to ask ourselves: Do we believe He gives us good things? Good opportunities? Good _____?? I think in our hearts the answer is “Yes”, but then we start looking around to see what we THINK should have or what we wanted for us at this point… comparing our days and lives to those around us. We settle in with an uneasy “Maybe”.

Lately I have been trying to write down ten things I am thankful for everyday. For me in this stage of life (also known as chaos coordinating) I need to be intentionally planting seeds of thankfulness. A lot of days it looks a lot like this: “I am thankful for: Bedtime, Coffee, Time talking to Jesse, The Weather App, Chores, Solid family friends, the gym, swimming with friends, coffee cups that make me smile, phone calls from Melissa.” I seriously just looked through my journal and pulled these out! They aren’t anything deep or profound but they’re things in my day to day life that I love and look forward to, or things that surprise me and make me happier than they should, like my coffee cups! If I am not intentionally thanking God for the good things, big or small, in my life then I feel the bug rising up in me.

“A flower does not think of comparing itself to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

I know that it is hard to not look to the left or the right without measuring ourselves but what if we just bloomed? Right there alongside our beautiful flower friends, knowing that their beauty compliments our own! And there we stood together with our friends Blooming and Thankful.

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Off They Go!!

Today is back to school day! 

A makeup artist, Pixar employee, and a Veterinarian in the making.

Today I sent my sweet little first grader off on a van that takes her to an amazing deaf ed program. Today I dropped off my oldest son for his last first day of elementary school. Today I dropped off my sweet Titus for fourth grade where he walked in with a confident smile. 

I don’t get super emotional on the first day any more, the last day of school finds me a WRECK *because I become SUPER attached to our teachers*, but the first I see as a change of seasons *not literally because in Central Texas it won’t feel like fall until November.* The changing of grades forces me to see my kids bigger. It makes me acknowledge that they are growing! I mean seriously I have a fifth grader!! He just turned 11, how have we made it this far?! 

The first day also forces me to acknowledge the fact that I am handing over my precious babies to teachers, for them to be influenced every day by these new people. I pray everyday for our teachers. I pray they will be wise and patient with my babies, but that they will also sharpen and challenge them in ways that I can’t. I also pray that I have done my part so far and that my kids go into school confidently, with kind hearts and good attitudes. *fingers crossed*

This first day of school also brings back schedule and routine. We start soccer, piano, gymnastics, speech therapy, and Awana. All the while trying to make sure we are all in bed at a decent hour so that we can do it all over again the next morning. This is the area that weighs heavier on me. Honestly I feel pulled in so many directions, and there are days when I am sure the following season we will sign up for NOTHING. Then I remember how happy Zeke is when he makes a goal or a great block, or how proud Titus feels when he masters a piece for his piano recital, and how excited Zoe is when she gets to see her friends and Ms Becky at gymnastics. This season is for them. They are so precious to me, and if for right now I feel like a cabby or uber driver, that’s fine, because it’s for them. Those three that I sent off this morning make my world spin. They also make me crazy and I am lucky that this “uber driver” can yell at them to be quiet or stop fighting without fear of losing my job. 

So here we are. 

The house is quiet, it’s amazing and scary at the same time because you know what they say….”The days are long but the years are short.” Dang, ain’t that the truth?!

I mean seriously. I just dropped him off for kindergarten yesterday!!

The Gospel as seen through Moana

Let me speak honestly. I love Jesus very much. I love Disney very much. My friend Julianna said of me tonight, “Jeanette wishes she was a Disney princess.” Yes, that’s very true. Working for Disney as a princess is my absolute dream job. My house is full of Disney movies and songs, as well as a lot of Jesus.

Moana came out last Christmas, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite movies. I say all the time that I think Moana’s story line is the closest Disney will come to presenting the gospel. I know what you are thinking, “Come on, Jeanette. Moana! The Gospel?” Ok, friend, let me explain.

First, please know that this is all my own interpretation. This is just how I see it. I know that it can be stretching and silly, BUT I do believe that The Lord speaks to us in many different ways and that if we look we can find Jesus almost everywhere. Now with that said…The gospel as seen or heard from Moana.

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Moana is chosen by the ocean at a very young age to return the heart of Te Fiti. She’s just a child at this point, so she doesn’t understand but she is constantly drawn to the ocean. We are each chosen by God for something in this world. We can call it our calling or our passion. Whatever it is, we are chosen and it draws us. (1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.)

Her grandmother tells her (in the middle of a song OBVIOUSLY) that she is her father’s daughter. He is stubborn and she needs to obey him BUT if she hears the voice inside her calling her to follow the farthest star, that voice inside is “who you are”. Ok let me break this one down…We are supposed to obey our fathers, the bible tells us to but there are times when maybe our dads are telling us something that goes against the voice inside. What is that voice inside? That nudging, I think, is the Holy Spirit urging you to follow the calling God has set upon your life.

You are your father’s daughter

Stubbornness and pride

Mind what he says but remember

You may hear a voice inside

And if the voice starts to whisper

To follow the farthest star

Moana, that voice inside is who you are

So Moana does a super brave thing: she leaves her home, her family, and takes a huge leap of faith. She repeats over and over who she is and what her purpose is, “I am Moana of Montunui….restore the heart of Te Fiti”. I think many times along the way we forget who are or what we are supposed to be doing. Life is messy and busy, and it can be easy to forget. We need to remember: I was chosen, I am a child of God, I have a purpose, I have a calling on my life. (Isaiah 41:9-10 I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. 10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.)

Meanwhile the journey gets hard. She fails and she gets really upset. Yelling at the ocean,Moana asks, “Why me?! Why choose me?” Have you ever felt that way? Asked why is this your passion, your calling? It’s too hard. It takes too much work. You’re failing, tired, and lost. Why!!!! In that moment, she gives up and throws the heart of Te Fiti into the ocean. When this happens to us, God knows. He sees and watches. Sometimes I think He’s going to say, “Calm down. I know what I’m doing. I know why I chose you.” But other times I think He looks and says, “Ok, I’ll let the next person do this, and they will and they will get what should’ve been yours.” I don’t think God is being sassy but I do believe that if we don’t do what we are supposed to do, then someone else will.

In this moment, Moana’s grandmother comes to her (in spirit form…it’s a Disney movie, give me a break) and reminds her of who she is: a girl that loves her island, a girl that has made her family and her people proud. She then sings….

Sometimes the world seems against you

The journey may leave a scar

But scars can heal and reveal just

Where you are

The people you love will change you

The things you have learned will guide you

And nothing on earth can silence

The quiet voice still inside you

And when that voice starts to whisper

Moana, you’ve come so far

Moana, listen

Do you know who you are?

Moana is again reminded of who she is and what her calling is. How often do we need that kind of reminder? Do we have people in our lives who can and will remind us when we’ve forgotten who we are? Sometimes in life, we pick up baggage and scars but those things remind us of where we’ve been, how we’ve grown, and where we are today. But they don’t force us to give up our identity or our calling, not if we don’t allow them to. Moana doesn’t allow this hurt to sidetrack her. She dives in and pushes forward. ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair;  9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.)

In the end, Moana takes the heart of Te Fiti and while returning it to where it belongs, she beautifully sings:

I have crossed the horizon to find you

I know your name

They have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are

You know who you are

This is my favorite part because… God has done more than cross the ocean for us. He literally sent His son to die for us on a cross. He Knows Your Name. Somewhere along the way maybe someone took something from you, or hurt you, or you forgot who you are but that does NOT define you. That is not who you are. Do you know who you are?! You are a chosen child of God. The God of the Universe created you. He knows your name.

(Isaiah 43:1-4 (message translation) But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.)

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What I Have Learned in the Last Two Years

What I have learned in the two years since Zoe came home:

Well real quick, if we are new friends let me give you the story. Almost five years ago my husband and I whole heartedly jumped into the adoption process for a little girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We received her picture with very little information about her other than the fact that she was deaf. We said yes and then waited and fought for her for the next year and a half. Zoe Danielle came home August 18, 2015. For me to say that she is the sweetest little fire cracker is an understatement. To say that she changed our family for the best is an understatement. To say that the past five years were easy would be a lie straight from the devil himself. So here are some things that I have learned:

My family looks different. We were prepared for some off looks or sideways glances when Zoe came home. I mean we are a multiracial family and in we walk signing, or widely gesturing. Sometimes Jesse and I will try to dissect the reason for the stares, but really most the time we just smile and then kindly ignore. So my lesson from this is, “Get over it Jeanette. Yes, you look different. Maybe those people think you are giving them off looks because you keep smiling at them. Stop being a weirdo!”

People will ask you LOTS of questions. In these moments I am almost thankful that Zoe cannot hear the things people will ask. I am a fairly open book and we LOVE to tell our adoption story. But, asking how much she cost or if her real mom is dead isn’t the best way to get me to open up. I LOVE when people ask me where is she from or simply ask about our story. These are things that are not only appropriate, but so much fun to talk about. My lesson from this: People ask dumb questions. Sometimes I can laugh them off, sometimes I just ignore them.

You will feel abandoned. Let me be totally real. Our community rallied around us in the most amazing way. We had meals delivered to our front door for weeks. We had groceries brought to us, we had cookies delivered, we had people come and just sit with us. We also had the most amazingly fun and lovely Adoption Shower. We were loved on real good. When all of that faded, the newness wore off, and life just started again, it got real quiet around here. That’s a little hard to admit because I don’t want to hurt anyones feelings, but I want to be honest. I felt so lonely. The dust settled and life was looking and feeling a bit more normalISH. We were forming a family, teaching a language, learning a language, all the while teaching and showing Zoe love and trust. It was hard and exhausting and I don’t think I knew the words I needed to even begin to ask for help. I just felt alone. My lesson from this: If you feel alone you are not: text, call, ask, and even beg someone to let you come over and if they say yes then you better go! I realize looking back that I was scared to act on our new normal or to impose our new normal onto our friends. I am so thankful that I had a friend that realized I was being a hermit and sort of forced Zoe and me out of the house and into the functioning part of our new world.

Play is the language of all kids. I love watching Zoe play with her group of friends. She can be bossy and that always makes me cringe but they are all playing the same thing and only a few of them know sign language or know more than just a few words. But off they go playing and having fun. I love the girls that she has surrounded herself with, they are kind and so accepting. Zoe tends to make friends everywhere we go and I watch her walk up to new kids, reach her hand out and shake then wave them (or drag them) over to start a new game. It never fails that they just follow her, and join into whatever world she’s got going on. I tend to be nervous for her, or for the new friend: Is Zoe being too bossy, will the new friend understand that Zoe is deaf and will that new friend be kind? For the most part it’s yes to all of the above. My Lesson from this: As long as kids are not raised by jerks they will be kind. We have been around a very few jerk-y kids but they haven’t fazed Zoe one bit!

My last lesson is this…

This is hard. Adopting, the process, the becoming a new version of our family… it’s all super hard work. Some days I would lay in bed exhausted, doubting how worth it it was. Then days like the other morning when Zoe came in and laid directly on top of me, snuggled up and dozed off when I know in the deep places of my heart how right this is. My lesson from this: If it came easy you wouldn’t appreciate it. There were times she wouldn’t let me snuggle her, there were times I didn’t want to snuggle her. But years later here we are snuggled up, with consistent “I love you’s”

Two years ago we left the airport with a new daughter. She looked terrified and weary but she was mine. I had ached and longed for this girl. My arms were finally around her and I was  never letting her go. She is a Tapley through and through; loud, sassy, funny and even super tall. She is gracious to me in my short-comings and her gratitude is off the charts. I can truly say that with this little girl in my life and in our family I am a better mom.

On a quick side note, let me tell you one more story: We as a family are huge Disney fans, and this past Spring Break we went to Disneyland. While standing in line for a ride, I looked over at Zeke (10) and Titus (8) and asked them what their favorite core memory (From the Pixar movie INSIDE OUT) was. Keep in mind we are in Disneyland, we had just met Mickey! Without even thinking they both said in unison, “The day Zoe came home.” My heart smiled and I remembered that while we were in the waiting process of bringing Zoe home I worried that we would be “messing up our family” or the boys would get less of us because of her or that she wouldn’t like them or they wouldn’t like her or the countless other fears I had that made no sense! I am so thankful we messed our family up. I am so thankful we look different.