The Bell Family

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


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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!


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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.

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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


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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

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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


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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.”

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Bell Family Update–August 2016

Since we’ve been terrible at family updates on here, I’m just going to give a run-down of the last three months.

Most of the post is in pictures, but one sweet part of our summer was spending a few days with Bill’s sister, brother-in-law, and our nephew in Nashville, TN. We haven’t spent much time with just them in a few years, and this was our first time to really get to know our brother-in-law since their wedding last summer. So much fun just hanging with them and swimming in their amazing pool! Unfortunately, we didn’t take a single stinking picture while we there. What?!! I promise it really happened, though.😉

The summer was kicked off with Victoria’s Strawberry Shortcake birthday party. Though we always celebrate birthdays, the 5th and 10th are themed friend parties, so this was an extra special one for our Vi-Vi.20160604_191456753_iOS20160604_213835891_iOS

 

Strawberry picking with friends has become a tradition for our family, though this was Bill’s first time.20160607_151921697_iOS

 

Aiden and Liam finished up spring soccer. It was Aiden’s first time to be old enough to play.20160607_223711289_iOS

 

All five girls did summer dance. Ariana often helped watch the dance instructor’s little cutie, and I love this picture!20160608_204300413_iOS

 

Lots of playgrounds and parks. The second picture is our favorite state park, Turkey Run.20160609_164857965_iOS20160619_144635982_iOS

 

We got free tickets to see our professional soccer team, Indy Eleven. So much fun!20160611_230258637_iOS

 

Lots of goofing around. I am seriously loving the tween stage!20160619_183417328_iOS

 

Sweet time with my littles while the older five were at camp.20160620_164214142_iOS

 

Getting an infected tooth pulled.20160624_152058964_iOS

 

The baby’s birthday, who may not technically be a baby anymore…20160626_201220850_iOS20160607_152343356_iOS

 

Fun in a new exhibit at the Children’s Museum.20160630_213455620_iOS

 

Celebrating Bill by putting together a puzzle he was gifted with. His kind of day.20160703_175257660_iOS

 

Repurposing a Craigslist find. Wish I’d taken a before picture.20160709_185538571_iOS

 

Liam having his first experience shooting a gun on a father/son night.20160709_235732914_iOS

 

Riding on the zoo train together.20160730_174323681_iOS

 

This was probably our sweetest memory of the summer–family camp in Michigan. So much fun!!! Beaches, activities, fun food, new friends. We kind of wanted to live there. Descriptions of the pics: 1. Fun on the beach. 2. Getting ready for a gathering. 3. Our family assistant working hard.😉 Seriously, this lady was amazing!!! We invited her to live with us, but she said no. I think our awesomeness was too overwhelming for her… 4. Awkward human pyramid with Juan, a wood man challenging us to “Love One (Juan) More.” 5. The beach and lake. Bill even got to go water skiing. 6. Whole family picture, including our family assistant, which just felt right. She’s in her 20s. Really. 20160802_134035711_iOS20160804_140412922_iOS20160804_155643888_iOS20160804_172804323_iOS20160806_133753898_iOS20160806_133835261_iOS

 

I did my first wine and canvas. I don’t do creativity, so shut it.😉20160821_012632484_iOS

 

Josiah and Aiden started pre-K Handwriting this year, so they’ve been introduced to the infamous Mat Man, a part of their curriculum.20160823_125040037_iOS

 

Doing school with some of our dearest friends. First is our best-face-forward pic, second is the real deal.20160824_162147584_iOS20160824_162207650_iOS

 

For school, Liam and Ariana took a bread-making class. They made two loaves of bread, three types of rolls, pizza crust, and cinnamon rolls. All 100% on their own!20160826_224343761_iOS


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Bell Family Update – June 2016

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Well, here we are, a year later from our last update and incidentally just at the year mark since the adoption of Heaven and Aiden was decreed. In many ways, the last year has been unremarkable in that there haven’t been any drastic changes. That alone is remarkable for us!

Currently we’re in summer break from school. The five oldest kids are in the middle of a four-week day camp at the Children’s Museum. Courtney is using the time with just the three little ones to get some special time with them as well as prepare for the next school year. At work, I’ve recently been promoted as a team lead, still doing similar work but with increased responsibilities. I’m pretty excited about it.

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Also, Courtney recently got to attend the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, which was in Indy this year. Not only was the conference a blessing, but she got to go with her mom and two of the ladies in our church, as well as connect with some old friends.

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Below I’m going to give some brief updates about each of the kids. I’ve included a picture of each, taken last year by our dear friend Lawana of Unforgettable Photography. They’re beautiful and we didn’t want to pass up sharing them with you, our friends and family.

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Liam is 11 and about to start sixth grade. He’s figuring out humor and sarcasm/irony, which is super fun. Though he’s still part kid and part growing up, which is really weird to watch. He actually just took a Safe Sitter class, so he’s taking his first steps toward being able to watch his younger siblings–though we’re not quite ready for that yet!

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Ariana is 9 and almost as tall as Liam. She’s still the mother hen and super sweet, always wanting to learn more and help out with stuff around the house. As she’s growing and changing, we’re seeing an increasing desire to connect with Courtney and learn to do the harder, more complicated tasks she does. For instance, this year she wants to learn cake making and decorating.

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Heaven is 8 and still integrating into the family. We still have many times of hardness and withdrawal but there are more and more times in between where things feel pretty normal. She’s still trying to figure out how to just be authentic, where she can really rest and be who God made her to be. Change may be slow, but we’re seeing it.

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Esther is also 8 and our most recent believer. She probably suffers the most from the middle child syndrome, not really knowing where she fits or what her strengths are. But since believing, we’ve seen the Spirit working in her heart to bring about kindness and love for others that’s far beyond anything we’d seen before.

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Miriam is 7 and our perpetual life lover. She’s unusual in our family in that she’s so unpretentious and unconcerned about anything other than soaking in God’s world and loving others. She’s got a big heart and big smile. Recently, we were creek stomping and Miriam got pulled into the current. Two ladies nearby saw her plight and jumped in to rescue her. Miriam told us later that when she got pulled along, she prayed that God would save her and knew he would.

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Victoria is 5 and still a bit of a stinker. She’s got those golden curls and puts them to use with her sparkly blue eyes far more frequently than any child should’ve learned how to. She’s recently started to get her own daily chores to help out with (till now she’s been part of the “littles” and not the “bigs”).

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Aiden is 4 and, as our friends say, a Bell through and through. He certainly still has his moments of disobedience and the such, but they’re mainly because he’s four, not because he has different biological parents. He’s certainly our risk taker, the one willing to make big leaps and try crazy things. He’s got a big grin and is finally learning to relax into his place in the family. He still struggles a lot with language development, so we have a long way to go there.

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Josiah just turned 4 and is definitely the baby of the family. He’s pretty used to everybody else doing everything for him and tossing in his little charm-grin to see what he can get his momma to give him. He’s also full of life and hardly ever sad about much of anything.

And a little outtake for your viewing pleasure:

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