The Bell Family

Random ponderings on God, life, and the humor all around us


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Bell Family Update–December 2016

We love December. Our neighborhood is quiet from the cold, extra-curricular activities take a break, and we just get more time to hole up as a family. This has been a sweet month for all of that.

Always a family favorite–wrestling Daddy. It’s getting harder and harder for him to overtake them these days. 20161128_211800468_iosAnd while he still can…20161128_211915747_ios

The choir I sing in gave our premier performance. I love these people.20161203_011303205_ios

The girls were again in the Nutcracker. We are so blessed to dance with this studio!20161208_230743873_ios20161208_232822331_ios20161208_234054723_ios

Our first snowman! 😉 20161209_182501621_ios

A glimpse into our lives in a few years. The girls taking off their makeup after the recital. Oh, boy.20161210_010007752_ios


And a better snowman. This was the perfect snow for it!20161213_202135579_ios


Ariana baked cupcakes for Aiden’s birthday all by herself!20161219_190702337_ios

We all had an amazing and hard-working week with Nana!!! She came in to help me give my home a clean-sweep/re-org for the end of the year. This woman is better at this stuff than anyone I know, and she never stopped, even with a sore knee. This is an end-of-the-week movie time, complete with Nana snuggles. I was relieved Aiden wore his helmet, too, in case something came flying out of the TV screen.20161219_230521230_ios

Grocery shopping date with Daddy20161223_153416208_ios

Coloring time. Bill gifted me with a FabFitFun subscription box! The girls loved helping me decorate it. Aka, I did nothing. 🙂 20161224_152627026_ios

Family reading time20161224_161946228_ios

The traditional search for baby Jesus to put in the manger on Christmas morning20161225_120720548_iosAnd the finder of said baby20161225_121026379_ios

Ah yeah, buddie, dig in to that stocking candy.20161225_123155651_ios

Sugar cookie time!20161225_211732127_ios

Legos for days20161226_210418209_ios

And a cute little birthday boy!!!20161228_145553130_ios


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Aiden is 5!!!

This little cutie had his fifth birthday last week! What a blessing to get to celebrate this cool kid. Below is the letter I wrote to him this year.

Dear Aiden,

It’s been a fun year watching you grow, maybe not a ton in height, but so much in personality and development. It’s unbelievable to me that you became our son when you were only two, and now it’s your fifth birthday. Where did the time go?! Have you really been mine that long???

This past year, we got to watch you go from saying three-word phrases that none of us could understand to speaking in full paragraphs and working intentionally to get those consonants working. You know almost all your letter sounds, can count to 10, know your colors and shapes, and can identify pretty much every object around you, all things that we weren’t sure were ever going to happen this time last year.

But like almost everything in your life, you do things at your own pace in your own way, and you’re always full of surprises. Sometimes that comes through in your sneakiness, how you look for opportunities to dishonor us and do exactly what you know you aren’t supposed to. And sometimes that comes through in the way you can almost do the splits, in your compassion and care for others, especially those younger than you, in your devotion to your siblings, in your sense of adventure, in the way you make those around you feel loved and like they have more worth than they think, in your sweet snuggles. And it’s beautiful.

Our prayer is that the beauty of Christ permeates your very soul, that your strong will becomes leadership instead of rebellion, willing to give up your own desires for the sake of the gospel. That your sneaky actions are broken down because you see that it’s your weaknesses that reveal God’s strength, that you willingly confess your sins because you have nothing to hide knowing that Christ’s blood has already covered it. That your bravery to do hard things transfers into a boldness to do good even when no one sees you because you love God above your own fleshly desires.

That is a beauty that surpasses the cutest smile and the most sparkly eyes. It’s beauty above charming those around you. Because it’s a beauty you can’t produce on your own. It can only come from being covered by the most beautiful man to ever walk the earth, a man who is also fully God, a man who always gave himself up, humbling himself even to the point of death, taking the wrath you deserve so you can be his brother and gain the inheritance of God himself. An adoption so much greater than the one you’ve experienced in our family. The beauty of the Savior.

We love you, little guy,

Mom and Dad

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Bell Family Update–November 2016

This was a much slower month for us. Yay!! Though, like the rest of the world, some of that was due to sickness, it was truly nice to simply stay and be more this month.

My favorite day this month was this girl’s birthday! She entered the double digits, and I’m loving this tween phase.20161103_195310096_ios

She got a Harry Potter birthday party, and we all had a ridiculously fun time.20161105_190037483_ios

These two got to go watch the epic violin concert of one of our neighbors. Other neighbors took them along on their date night! I’ve told you we have ridiculously awesome neighbors, right?20161107_235510185_ios

Bill and I were blessed to attend an oh-so-needed adoption conference. Our dear friends took the kids all day on a Saturday to give us the opportunity, and they even took them geocaching! Ten kids, ya’ll.20161112_150917139_ios

The next day we got to see their middle daughter’s piano recital. Though we got a video of Faith playing, we forgot to take her picture. Here’s the rest of the fam, though. Leia was totally into the whole thing.20161113_215158875_ios

This day, people. This was hard. It was the day I realized my son is faster than me. And I’m suddenly challenged to run every day to be able to beat him again. [I don’t run, but I also don’t accept defeat easily, so this is a serious conflict of interest.]20161116_002251673_ios

I got to sing carols with a fun group of people for a Christmas event. Bill was standing right in front of us making weird smiley faces trying to get us to crack up. One of the men didn’t know him yet and told us he thought Bill was a sweet man with mental problems who was just really enjoying himself. I laughed for something like four days.20161118_000510538_ios

Our neighbors hosted a block Thanksgiving dinner, and it was such a sweet time! I love all these people.20161123_001141119_ios20161123_001154102_ios20161123_001205610_ios

Decorating for Christmas!20161125_214800571_ios

Our Thanksgiving was quiet. Just our family. Though it was super nice to have a simple day, I missed my family, especially since it was my mama’s birthday that day. Traveling seems to get harder through the years. Maybe next year, though!


Ariana is 10!!!

Our oldest girlie left the single digits this month. This tween, with her servant heart and beautiful smile, brings me so much joy. Below is the annual letter Bill wrote to her.


Our dear, loving Ariana,

I like birthdays, because they remind us in this big family to slow down a bit and focus on thanking God for one particular person. Today’s your day, Ariana Katriel. And it’s such a joy to slow down and take a look at the many ways we’ve seen the Father’s goodness in giving us you.

I know you’ve heard the story so many times, but your grand entry into the world was scary. Something was wrong. You and Mom were both hurting, the pain and brokenness threatening both of your lives. I didn’t really get it at the time, but it was a reminder that life is fragile. It was also a reminder that in a world plagued with sin, beautiful events like childbirths are now cursed and ugly and sometimes fatal. Yours could have gone that way. If you’d been born a hundred years ago, both of you would be in paradise already with Jesus and the rest of your brothers and sisters never would’ve become part of this family.

Why do I bring up such a horrible thing on a day of celebration? Because it didn’t go that way! Ten years ago today, we saw the grace of God the Father—the God who saves—when he reached down into our history and yanked you away from the grip of death. Honey, God saved you on the day of your first breath—pulling you out of the darkness and bringing you into the light. And I still rejoice, over and over and over, because you’re sitting here. And Mom’s sitting here. And this whole family is here because of the grace and mercy and kindness of our God, who gives us more than we could ever ask or imagine.

I also tell you this because I want you to have a bigger picture of God. You’re leaving childhood behind. I know you haven’t read all of the Narnia books yet, but one of the things Aslan tells Lucy is that it isn’t he himself who is bigger, just that “every year you grow, you will find me bigger”. I want that to be true for you, because the infinite creator of the universe can’t get any bigger, yet your understanding and awe of him can.

Darling, you have been given a sweet heart that is full of compassion and loves to jump up to serve. This is a gift from God, one that is being pruned by the Spirit and watered by the Word. I want to see more and more of his grace shining through you, as you fight to serve without praise, to love without recognition, to help without looking for attention. God has started that work in you and he will definitely bring it to completion.

And as you slowly race out of childhood into womanhood, you’re going to see the world differently. You’re going to know new hurts and experience new joys. You’ll find that some ways you’ve thought about life will have to be tossed out to make way for the new adventures you’ll find. Mom and I are thrilled to watch you do it. Neither be afraid of it nor try to make it happen too fast. Just as God is in control of shaping how tall you are and how much you grow each year, he’s king over this inside growth, too.

Personally, one of my favorite things about you is how much you want to be like your mom. Of course, I think she’s the most incredible woman ever, so it doesn’t surprise me that you want to be just like her. But I don’t just want you to be the cook and the adventurer and the knitter and the momma she is. I want you to also see the light of King Jesus shining through her as Momma reflects the glory of Jesus. I want that same glory to shine in you. That’ll come as you embrace growing up, taking responsibility, doing good when no one can see it, and finding joy in service without accolade. These are my prayers for you.

So, my dear, happy birthday. May you see the goodness of our God in new ways with a new year before you.

Love, Dad & Mom


Bell Family Update–October 2016

Is there anyone who doesn’t love October?!!! Here are some of the ways the Bells spent ours.

Oh, and it became clear to me that my man hides behind the camera. Like he barely makes an appearance in any of these pictures.

Apple picking!!20161001_144816191_ios20161001_145056809_ios20161001_145427262_ios20161001_145814762_ios20161001_150138896_ios20161001_150158945_ios


Putting himself in my shoes, complete with mom’s face.20161002_215658172_ios

Washing toy dishes. V has really been turning into a little mommy lately. Sometimes good, sometimes…20161003_132033831_ios

Every year we go back to west Kentucky to visit our families. We clearly are terrible at taking picture while there because this is about as good as it gets. Though I love it so much because it’s my mom in her element: teaching, seeing God’s beauty everywhere, and simply enjoying her moments with us. 20161008_154748003_ios

Aiden showing off his mad sleep skillz20161009_112336765_ios

The world’s best big brother taking his little brother for a ride on his bike20161011_220838321_ios

Racing to see who can count to 100 the fastest. One in English and one in Spanish.20161012_202244887_ios

Visiting a friend’s farm. This is one of the nurses who was there for Josiah’s delivery, one of our first Indy friends.20161015_220000933_ios

Our annual front porch shot taken by our neighbor, Lori. Oh, look, there’s a Bill!!!20161017_214358247_ios

This year’s Halloween costumes. My absolute favorite part of this is how Sneezy (Heaven) is so sanitary to sneeze into her elbow!20161021_215922313_ios

Books in bed in the morning with my littles20161025_142836727_ios

We found a fantastic new place to walk with a ginormous hill built for sledding. And notice who’s taking the picture and conveniently not in the picture…20161022_160257386_ios

Our university choir had a reunion this year, and our whole family got to go! Our kids heard a choir and a marching band for the first time, and it was so much fun to let them in to a bit of our past. Here’s monkey boy cheesing it up.20161028_213145643_ios20161030_012758848_ios

This year we threw a block party with our neighbors across the street on Halloween. Candy and s’mores. Here are the hostess ladies. Isn’t Lori gorgeous?!!! Seriously, this friend radiates Jesus from every pore.20161031_213556270_ios20161031_213144474_ios20161031_222243215_ios20161031_222359610_ios20161031_222407749_ios


Bell Family Update–September 2016


I always get to these and think we didn’t have much going on over the past month. But when I look through pictures, I realize just how full our month was! Here are a few things we did.

Though there aren’t many pics of these things, along with school still being in full swing, all other activities are, too. Speech therapies, dance, after school program at the Children’s Museum, and Aiden’s half-day preschool. It’s fall, ya’ll!

The kids all worked hard reading books for the summer reading program. One thing they all earned was a game of mini golf, laser tag, and two games of bowling at Woodland Bowl. It was a full, beautiful, and fun day!20160829_203631766_ios

Two of our dear friends got married at the beginning of the month. I basically set them up, oh yes, I did! Bill had the privilege to officiate their wedding. *Bride not pictured, cause, well, she was a bit preoccupied on her wedding day. Weird, huh? 😉20160903_005707396_ios

I had to include a few of these, because as I was going through all the pictures, there were an insane amount the kids just took on their own any time they had access. I just saw most of these for the first time.20160905_100120120160905_100142120160905_10071220160905_1008210

In honor of the 2016 Olympics, Liam made up his own version for our family with five events. The kids made flags and medals. His games were so creative!20160905_172230193_ios20160905_180207913_ios20160905_181112683_ios

Every month, we have something we call an SND (Skip the Nap Day). This month we took a trip to Dayton, OH, to visit Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. We’d never been before, but it was an easy drive, and there are many reciprocal benefits to other museums around when you have a membership. We really enjoyed it!20160909_195322703_ios

Family walks, one of our favorite ways to spend time together.20160910_205651369_ios

Silly faces!20160913_164335000_ios

Ariana and I got to make sugar cookie dough and colored frosting for our sweet friend, LaKieya’s, eleventh birthday party. Her mom planned an at-home Cookies and Canvas party. The girls painted the cutest emoji canvases and decorated cookies. Ariana had a blast! 20160916_150614042_ios

We had our annual girl/boy weekend this month. This year, the girls and I just stayed home, and the boys went camping, a first for the little boys! Bill was a brave, brave man. Pics from the weekend follow:

The Girls
Since big sis was at her Cookies and Canvas party, the other girls and I painted our initials on canvases at home.20160916_212025807_ios20160917_200817794_iosMiriam gets really into movies. This candid shot of her during a tense part of Maleficent is the best!20160917_001346385_iosFinished products of a Michael’s Kid Craft event. 20160917_142850628_iosEsther and Ariana eating like a boss!20160917_154353512_ios20160918_185605000_iosMaking a fairy garden!20160917_180728446_ios20160917_184410833_ios20160917_185657851_iosThe results of a baking day and tea party.20160917_202145196_ios20160917_202227381_iosFun hairstyles20160918_122933796_ios20160918_144704310_iosPeewinkle Puppet Theater. The puppets seriously look alive. The puppeteers were so talented!20160918_165531369_iosPainting pottery at Half-Baked Pottery. I could have stayed there for hours! They were amazing to work with and so good with the girls. We left everything for them to glaze and bake the finished products, and we picked them up a week later. 20160918_192814149_iosLosing a tooth!20160918_225049282_ios

The Boys
The guys were in Bloomington at a Jellystone Park. They spent one rainy day at Wonder Lab down there.20160917_135650594_ios20160917_140318976_ios20160917_141839995_ios20160917_153629540_iosPlaying at the pool20160917_181146317_iosMeeting Boo Boo!20160917_193102442_iosKris Kross will make ya jump, jump!20160917_194141294_iosMy handsome fellas!!!20160918_125850016_ios20160916_235055747_iosLittle guys napping and Liam finishing the last Harry Potter book! 20160918_191014469_iosHiking20160918_211750665_iosBoys get crafty, too, yo.20160918_225424000_iosBell boys in da house! Or outside the tent.20160919_115959335_ios

One of our friends began a community choir this month, and I’m participating! Though I’m teaching private voice lessons again, I haven’t sung in a choir in years. This pic is totally candid. Really.20160920_004350783_ios

By far the best event of the month was that our little Miriam was baptized!!! Her beautiful faith challenges me all. the. time. She was pure joy during her baptism (she pretty much tried to baptize herself she was so excited) and getting to participate in her first Lord’s Supper. For our other children who have been baptized, we’ve partied afterward, telling them they can choose to go wherever they want for ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, whatever. In true content Miriam form, she just wanted to stay home to bake cookies with me. Love her so much!20160925_143528000_ios20160925_163830546_ios

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My Wife Cracks Me Up, Part 6

Private correction
Telling me about how one of the kids needed some correction while she was driving in the van: “You know how I do it. I tell them I’m gonna talk to them later, and then I just go ahead and say it anyway.”

Tough call
I asked Court jokingly, “Which kid is your favorite?” After a thoughtful pause, she replied, “It’s hard to choose between the two.”

Lower than what, exactly?
After reading a reference in her school notes, Courtney asked me, “And why are we called the lower 48 states? I know my geography is terrible, but isn’t Hawaii close to the bottom”

I’m not sure going all-organic is the answer
Giving a theological treatise on the effects of sin in our bodies: “All disease is stupid. It all comes back to a piece of fruit.”

Smile, because it confuses people…
In reference to the fact that Ariana and I are perpetual smilers: “You’re both like the Joker.”

Don’t we all?
After telling the kids about my days loading packages for UPS and the frequent drug dog visits, Courtney pipes in: “I want a drug dog.”

Channeling her inner Yogi Berra
In response to a minor scrape: “A little pain never hurt anyone.”

A gentle word of correction
When one of our girls was acting cranky: “Your panties are in a wad and I’m not gonna reach in there to pull them out for you.”

Smart fun
At family camp, Victoria was doing something incredibly stupid at the playground that was most likely going to get her hurt: “You can have fun without being a moron.”