Merry Christmas, 2015!

2015 has kicked every other year's butt.

 The Senters are officially a family of 7 with the adoption of Drew Isaiah in February, and Pima Opal in April!

Brooklyn and Gavin continue to grow in size, at preschool, and in their faith. They love to talk about the things that God has created and they forgive their Momma for taking them out of a school they loved for two weeks only to return after she came to her senses.

Stitch. Enough said.

Pima is heading into her final semester of high school! She has made strides in healing and is the coolest teenager we know. 

We call Maddox our little beast. He pretty much runs the house and has recently picked up that angry scream that 2 year olds have. But then he wins us over with his cuddles and kisses, so it all evens out.

Our Anchor community of friends and family watched the Anchor House turn from a dream into a reality this past year. After partnering with Habitat for Humanity construction began in the spring. On April 11th we hosted our first gala in the backyard and were able to fundraise a majority of what we would need to furnish the house. The Anchor House opened in June and we have already seen four single moms and their babies come in the doors!

We also added two more family members to our household, Khloe & Tucker! Khloe was born on Valentine's day and Tucker was born on the day of the Anchor House Gala- they fit perfectly into our family and we often find Drew riding Tucker because of course.

We moved on the 19th of December a little west to Laveen! The kids love having a little more space and Momma is looking forward to living across the street from our school!
What a year we've had, and its no surprise that we already have some major things in store for 2016.

Merry Christmas!
Love, The Senters Family
Ryan, Sara, Pima, Brooklyn, Gavin, Drew & Maddox

*Thankful to have our family captured by Michele Lundborg Photography*


My Rock Star Teen

In September I posted a picture on Facebook of Pima being the “best” cousin and a friend commented that Pima seemed to be the best at a lot of things, obviously from seeing the previous posts that I’ve shared of her. She absolutely is the best.  But sometimes, and mostly in person, I’ll mention to people that adopting a teenager hasn’t been the peachiest of times.  I remember when Ryan and I were discussing what it would be like to adopt a teen, and we assumed that after working with teenagers in a youth group for 5+ years we would be experts.  We were so very wrong.

We are mermaids, of course.
I could think of at least 50 blog posts to write about experiences that we’ve had with adopting a teen, but because she is a teen, they’re not really my stories to share. Ryan and I have hit some serious lows with Pima, one low in particular that I pray I’ll never encounter with my littles.  Most of those times came after her adoption.  The counselor explained to us that once Pima had official stability she didn’t know how to internalize that, having lived a life that consisted of messiness, change, and always waiting for the next shoe to drop.  There were actually two times that I can think of when I went to bed questioning if I should stay awake or not, thinking that Ryan would get stabbed in the middle of the night. CRAZY right?!?!? You have no idea. 

I’m so thankful for my mom and mother-in-law’s support, Ryan and I often make phone calls asking for reassurance of whether Pima’s behavior is “normal” teen behavior or a “teen from the system” behavior.  I am happy to share with you that most of our questions lately have led to an answer of “normal” teen behavior, which is HUGE. Pima deserves to be a normal teenager after the not-so-normal life she’s lived.

The other day we were sitting together signing up for graduation announcements and gown orders when I typed 'Pima Opal Senters' into the name line.  Pima started laughing at me and I had no idea why until I realized that I meant to type 'Pima Opal Jordan', honest mistake! (Ryan would’ve written Senters on purpose).  After typing her name incorrectly it really had me thinking that she is both.  She is forever a Jordan and forever a Senters.  She is a part of our Ohana.
I keep having these fears that Pima will turn 18 and promptly move out. But I believe I created this thought in my mind to protect myself from feeling absolute shock if it actually does happen.  She has had conversations with me about shopping for her wedding dress, being in the room with her for big future Dr. appointments and various life events and I always say “if you want me there” because I don’t know what she’ll feel like when those days do come.  I imagine that other families that adopt kids who are older might have those same feelings, and I guess that having her consider me at all when she thinks of big life events is a blessing anyway.

Merielle, our friend and Pima's mentor that leads her towards Christ.
I was at a training about a month or so ago on adoption and left with a complete perspective change for Pima and my other two adoptees. One thing I couldn't shake was when the trainer explained that we are always trying to find “permanency” for kids in the system but we forget that they have permanency; they’ve always had it with their birth mom.  What we need to stress is that we’re finding them a “forever home”.  About two weeks later I was in contact with Pima’s mom and we were setting a date for dinner.  Now Ryan and I have both had the chance to spend time with her and we have the privilege to watch Pima build a relationship with her Mom again after 6+ years have passed.  I realized that I needed to get over the fear of Pima leaving and instead give her wings to fly, trusting that Jesus will guide her. 

Visiting with her Momma
So let me tell you why all of my social media posts on Pima describe her as a rock star. Well first, because she obviously is one and second, because I’m making up for the years that she missed having anyone brag about her.  She is a beast at playing badminton, a lover of hamburgers, an artist, a kind friend even when the kindness is not reciprocated, a champion for the underdog and she’s a SENTERS and a JORDAN.  We are so very blessed by her, it far outweighs the messiness of adopting a teen and I would highly recommend it to those on the fence of adoption.  

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  -Jeremiah 29:11


An Apology Letter to Brooklyn

Dear Brooklyn,

I’m sorry for those three words that I said to you the other day.  Actually, I’ve mentioned them a few times, they make up a simple question, and it wasn’t until after I asked that I realized the impact I could be making.  I’m so thankful that you’re still young, and that sometimes things fly by your head, but there have been a couple of times that you’ve given me a funny look and my heart sinks just thinking that you might understand.

“Are you sure?”

Sometimes I say those words to your daddy when he’s choosing dinner, or I’ll ask Pima the same question when it comes to her math answers.  I know that the question seems so little, but the magnitude of its meaning in the way I’ve used it with you is embarrassing for me.  As your Momma I know that growing up you’ll face peers and real life situations that will change the way you do some things or the way you might think of yourself, but I would’ve never expected that I would be the one to introduce you to the thoughts that can eventually plague girls. 

I promise, with everything in me, that I will not ask “are you sure” when it comes to your outfit or hair choice ever again.  That one day when you walked out with your cute shirt, over sized mismatched skirt and funky socks with sandals, I apologize for responding with “are you sure you want to wear that?”  When you choose one color to wear and you literally put it on head to toe whether the shades are similar or not. Or the time that you wanted braids like all of your friends have at school and I explained that they have hair like your sister Pima, so your braids wouldn’t look exactly the same.  I guess I could’ve braided your hair anyway, and let you decide if you liked the way it looked.  When you grab shoes out of the closet and I have another pair in mind that would match your outfit, I’m sorry for suggesting what would be my choice and let you second guess your own.

I remember the day that your Nana actually told me that she felt like I cared too much about what others thought of my looks.  Even though she confronted me during my freshman year of college I believe that I really started caring my junior year of high school.  Obviously there were times growing up that I heard people making fun of my curly high stacked bangs, my hairy legs in fourth grade or my pink neon stretch pants.  But every time I came home questioning my looks or outfit choice your grandparents were quick to say I was beautiful and remind me of the way God had created me with my own unique style.  

Miss B, I’m blown away by your beauty.  Seriously.  And you’re so like your Momma in the way you let your hair just flow without brushing it, take forever to choose your outfit and are always on the hunt for a new purse.   As I stand at your closet with you because you can’t reach your clothes yet, I’m happy to know that you’re asking me to grab something down with no thought behind an item other than the fact that you want to wear it.  I pray that you continue to make style choices based on you and not by the influence of any girls, TV or pictures you might see at your age.  Eventually pictures can inspire you, but I want that inspiration to build on a strong foundation of knowing what you already love. 

So unless you walk out with spaghetti straps in December, which you have done before, I will not be questioning you after getting dressed.  Once you’ve accessorized with your Frozen bracelet, Hello Kitty hair clip and Disney Princess purse, I will smile with delight as you discover the joy of dressing yourself and pulling an outfit together.  When your layering of multiple shirts makes no sense to me I will praise you for your unique eye in fashion.  Then hopefully as we work on building a strong sense of confidence for you, you can learn to support your friends at school who might have a different style altogether.  Learning early on that girls need girls/women need women will help you to fight comparison and be a cheerleader for your girlfriends, and as your Momma I promise to work on intentionally modeling that in our home. 

So rock your style Miss Brooklyn, and maybe one day I’ll be taking tips from you.



50 Shades of Senters

As usual, I’m losing my mind a little bit each day.   Thank goodness for Jesus and occasional Momma drinks, both are great encouragers to press on!  Recently, on a very tough day, in the midst of my anger and frustration with whatever was happening with one or a few of my five kids (it’s often multiple issues at once) it occurred to me the other routine I have that also aids in getting me through the long days of this season.  Having sex with my husband.  Whether we had slept together the night before a long day, or I’m looking forward to the night that lies ahead, making love to him often gives me the extra energy I need.

TMI right?!?! I thought about writing this post back when 50 Shades of Grey came out in the theaters.  Now that it just released in stores for people to watch in the comfort of their homes, I thought I might finally get around to sharing why I haven’t and won’t ever be personally watching the movie. 

Now before you get your panties in a wad thinking that I’m judging everyone who has gone to see it, PLEASE.  Just last weekend I took my 16 year old to see her first rated R movie in the theaters and there was definitely a fast nudity clip! Mom of the year right here.  I know many people who have read the books and seen the movie and I absolutely love these peeps, but that doesn’t mean that I need to. It’s my own issue.

Here’s the thing, my husband and I have an amazing sex life.  Like, amazing.  So amazing that recently after an incredible night in bed, my kids were having a crazy moment and in the midst of the screams I turned to Ryan and said in a loud voice over the tantrums “People are always asking me how I can handle this many kids and I never really know what to say, but I’m just going to start telling everyone that it’s because we have hot sex.”  True story.  When people ask me how I survive a teenager and four children under four, those words might be coming out of my mouth.

Here’s when the movie piece comes in . . . Our sex life is so good that I’m afraid to watch a movie about people having sex, or having an affair, or whatever relationship is happening between Christian and Anastasia.  I don’t want any ounce in my body to feel like I’m missing out on something.  Missing a position, missing out on role-play or maybe feeling like we aren’t having enough fun in bed. All day every day I’m fighting the urge not to compare myself to other women over how I dress, how my hair looks, how I parent or the choices I help to make for our family- I can’t justify adding ONE MORE THING to compare myself to.   Maybe you’re a person who can watch shows and make no connection to them, but I love characters and their stories, I sobbed like a baby when McDreamy died on Grey’s Anatomy and I absolutely believe that I would finish watching 50 Shades of Grey and start fantasizing over sex. I’m a dreamer and feeler; it’s what I do.  So when I daydream you’d better believe its about my husband, instead of a character or couple that we could never compete with.

Unlike the movie, Ryan and I usually have to plan out our nights. Married people with children, this is a thing right? Some nights I let Ryan fall asleep on the couch and I know its an off night, other nights when we plan to make love we know to get to bed early so we can still fall asleep at a decent time afterwards since we wake up early with the kids. Sounds just like a movie right?!? It’s my own personal fantasy at home, and I’m super content with what other people might think is boring or mundane.

My Nanny always told me that God stopped creating things after He designed sex because He couldn’t create anything better.  She is right! Without watching movies, browsing porn or reading books my husband and I are naturally able to explore each other’s bodies, pleasure each other in new ways and ultimately enjoy connecting physically.  God designed us to do that!  I don’t need to compare our sex life to anyone else’s, especially not one on the big screen.

Maybe you can watch the movie without feeling the need to compete with the stars in bed, maybe you LOVED the movie- great! It’s just not one that I can watch.  At one point about a year ago I quit looking at Pinterest because it became comparison porn to me.  Since then I’ve been back on after taking the time away to clear my head and bring myself back to down to my reality and happy place. I also watch HGTV on and off depending on the shows; it’s easy for me to start comparing my own home to the one being designed. And unless my husband and I are seriously looking for a home (because moving is kind of what we’re known for in our family), I don’t look at Zillow or other sites that show me homes available in my area or an area that I desire to be in.  I’m constantly keeping myself in check by protecting my mind and heart from the slow death of comparison.  Instead I choose to walk in the light, to be real, and to love this life that I’ve been given.

Is there something in your life that is taking away your joy?  Cut it off and take that joy back!  Are you watching a show that leaves you feeling like your life is boring? Do you compare your daily routines to the status’ of people on your Facebook feed? Life is too short to be in competition with your stuff, the way you look, what your sex life is like or whatever it may be.  Find what works for you and your family, choose contentment with what you’ve already been blessed with and rid your life of the comparison war, it’s a nasty one.