The Bell Family

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

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Liam is 12!!!

Our oldest is another year older. I don’t like it. I like it. All the feels.

Here’s the letter I wrote him this year. Along with his super handsome picture.


Dear Liam,

I joke all the time about how you aren’t allowed to grow up, threatening to kick you out of the family (or just kick you as Victoria said) when you turned 10 because you were being so disobedient. But truly, there’s a part of me that wants time to slow down. Twelve, only six more years of youth left, meaning about the same amount of time for you to live in my home. And my future planning heart is already breaking thinking about it. Good grief, you’re now half-way done with school! How did this happen?!

But it also makes my heart glad. Change is part of this world, sometimes big change and sometimes small. And you becoming a man will be a beautiful and needed change for this world.

You and I get each other in a special way. Though you and Dad are much alike in your strong leadership abilities, you and I are alike in our self-evaluation, in our rule-following and therefore striving to earn grace, and in our ability to connect with others. As a result, we tend to measure our worth according to the world and have a difficult time seeing that God has given us any giftings at all, believing the lie that we’re never going to conquer the sin we so hate in ourselves.

I always must tread lightly when offering you correction, knowing how similar to me you are and how you tend to fall into despair when it happens. So, my son who is quickly transforming into a man (sniff), allow me, as you did for me in a recent letter, to offer you some truth about who you are and what this way way way way way way way wiser person sees in you. 😉

You are more gifted in encouragement than almost anyone I know. You joke much but then are heavily burdened if you find out your joking hurt. The Spirit in you drives you to crave building others up. You know what it feels like to be torn down, and you can’t stand the thought of anyone else feeling that way. So you love. Mr. Mark is an encourager, clearly filled with the Spirit in his humility to never puff himself up but to take advantage of every opportunity to point out the good God is working. It feels like a rare gift in men, and you will glorify Jesus maybe more with this one than any others, because it’s odd and people will notice and be drawn to it.

You are bent toward truth and righteousness. This can obviously come out in wicked pride and stubbornness (you’ve never heard THAT before), but it also comes out in a boy wise beyond his years, who is more and more frequently spurring even his mother to truth that I have a difficult time seeing through my sinful heart. You don’t just take people’s word for it, but you consider and weigh to see if it’s within the right rules or just. You have the gift of truth and knowledge. Use it well, my boy. Dig in deep to the word. Don’t let video games or playing with friends or getting stuck in your head substitute for truth. Find it in your Daddy’s words he’s given you. His word is truth. It’s time for you to take this practice of immersing yourself in scripture seriously, past what we “require” of you. You will be swayed. Don’t let your pride fool you into thinking you won’t be. The world sounds good and wise, sometimes too good to be true, because it’s just a lie trying on truth’s clothing. You are beyond blessed to have two of the biggest truth-seekers I’ve ever known in your daddy and Mr. Dan. Watch them and learn from them. They are a gift to you.

You are a leader and a teacher. People will tell you this is because you’re the firstborn, but I’d argue that God set you aside as the firstborn to prepare you to be a leader. Your name means strong protector. As much as we must sometimes correct you for taking the role when it’s not your job, you care deeply for those weaker than you, and would give your life without blinking an eye to save another. You’re brave and courageous, and I look up to you.  But it’s more than a concern for physical safety. You pastor the hearts of your little brothers and sisters, gently correcting them when they get theology wrong or are doing something you know isn’t good for them (this one amazes me because you somehow manage to almost always do this without self-righteousness!). This is so true of you that if Mom or Dad aren’t around, you have become the next trusted source. Your siblings will come seeking you for answers because they see and trust your wisdom, and they know you’ll answer them patiently and full of love.

You’re frequently concerned you’ll not grow into a man after God’s own heart. Oh, kid, live for today. Do not worry about tomorrow. Because today I see a twelve-year-old boy who already has a heart for Jesus and others. Why would God not continue to be faithful to you when you’re technically a man. You are already more noble and honorable than many men I know, maybe most men. I want to see you ask him more, have a bigger faith, remember my story with the lightning. The same is true for you. You are his son, a prince of his kingdom, and he’s promised he’ll give you what you ask in his name. He gave Solomon wisdom when he asked for it because it was a right request. You desire to have a heart like his, there’s no more righteous desire, so ask him. And don’t look at tomorrow and judge whether he’s answered. Trust him today. Then in 10 years, look back and see how he’s transformed you. You don’t remember the last 10 years of your life, but we do, and it’s built our faith that God does in fact answer our prayer and doesn’t let your foot slip. You’ll see it more clearly in the next ten.

I love you deeply. You’re the one who’s grown us the most as parents, mainly because you are the guinea pig, the one we make the most mistakes with and sin against the most. We’re always having to figure things out with you because you’re the first. And you’re always full of grace to these bumbling people who have the privilege to call you “son,” encouraging us and teaching us along the way. I get to see God’s grace in giving us this cool kid despite our rebellion and failures. We see the gospel in you, and our faith is built. May yours be built alongside ours.

Loving you in awe of God’s goodness,

Mom and Dad

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Bell Family Update–January 2017

Our January was crazy busy and really, totally awesome. We had so many fun experiences together!

The kids got the most fun building fort from one of their aunts and uncles. This puppy stayed in our living room for weeks, and they built with it every day!20170103_001006093_ios

For Epiphany, the kids get their big Christmas present from us and grandparents. This year–BIKES!! So much fun!!! Liam and Ariana build their own bikes through an amazing program we have here called Earn-a-Bike, so they got a skateboard and scooter instead of a bike.20170106_133754697_ios20170106_133810109_ios20170106_133933237_ios

And Epiphany is always celebrated with a king’s cake. This girl is the one who had Baby Jesus hidden in her piece.20170107_010018296_ios

Each month, we do a Rule and Drool day (Mom with girls and Dad with boys), but this month we switched it up with Dule and Rool day instead. I took my boys to play laser tag and arcade games, and Bill took the girlies to a Home Depot workshop. Fun was had by all (and Aiden and I stomped Liam and Josiah in laser tag. Just sayin’)20170107_153759891_ios20170107_162313011_ios

This little guy went straight to fake prayer one day when I started getting on to him. Hilarious!!20170108_172130758_ios

School is still going strong.20170109_145014638_ios

I have amazing helpers in the kitchen.20170111_163022088_ios

One of our neighbors, Baby Eve, has her own personal fan club with the Bell kids. Liam and Ariana have especially come into their own recently with some beginning babysitting gigs, and I love watching them just love on little ones. Be still my heart!20170112_011304167_ios20170112_012959805_ios

Our kids all get Mom-Dad-Kid-Time (MDKT) at least once a month. These two together are one of my favorite things.20170113_010907243_ios20170113_010925667_ios

Our monthly block party was at our house this year. We did hot cocoa around the fire pit, and it was FREEZING!!! And also such a sweet time! We had far more people than we expected and got to connect with some neighbors we didn’t know yet.20170113_233951142_ios

Bill and I made a platter at a pottery place together for a date night. This is the project before it was glazed and baked. It’s even more gorgeous now!20170115_005821022_ios

Always wanting to be in Daddy’s shoes, in more ways than one.20170115_235656674_ios

We got the Pie Face Game! Oh, my goodness, so much laughter!!!20170116_201628230_ios20170116_201717538_ios20170116_202049033_ios20170116_202502749_ios

I got to hang with this cute neighbor one morning, and I learned a whole new way to eat cereal.20170118_140733521_ios

We are ridiculously blessed that both sets of our parents really love each other, so we did a grandparents weekend this year. What a sweet time!!! We had game nights, went to the Rhythm Discovery Center and the Indiana State Museum, cooked for each other, and played Wii. I think the sleeping picture on the steps reflects how we all felt by the end. Totally worth it!!20170121_003441437_ios20170121_153929539_ios20170121_154637779_ios20170121_155330384_ios20170121_160104007_ios20170121_160957230_ios20170121_223105521_ios20170121_223130737_ios20170122_152733643_ios20170122_201641149_ios20170122_204037413_ios20170122_204119230_ios20170122_211656284_ios20170122_222951618_ios20170122_224931898_ios20170122_224954989_ios20170122_225855886_ios20170122_230722688_ios

On a sweet library and pretzel date with my baby girl.20170127_213849434_ios

Our church. I can’t say how much I love these people. But it’s way past the moon and back.20170129_191904130_ios20170129_192200223_ios

Aiden got glasses!!! Yeah, he looks adorable. Yeah, I said it.20170131_184910306_ios

I started teaching a Bible study, and I LOVE these ladies and this time we get together each week!20170131_232957705_ios

Lots of Children’s Museum time, including an impromptu visit with some friends there whom we’ve known for almost thirteen years now. We forgot to get a picture with them, but the mother and some of her beautiful kiddos are in one of the pictures below. Wish we could see them more often!20170106_155723101_ios20170106_174310527_ios20170114_170749237_ios20170114_171234033_ios20170114_173625662_ios

Heaven turned nine!!! Grateful for this girl.20170115_232028408_iosfullsizerender


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–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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Liam’s Last Year for Single Digits

Liam, our guinea pig child, is turning into quite a little man. He follows after Jesus, blows us away at times with deep thoughts, loves all things with an electric screen (TV, Wii, tablets, computers, etc.) and legos, experiments with humor, and always has something to say. He’s sensitive, funny, and concerned for others. Babies and little ones are his favorites, and he still isn’t above the occasional cuddle with mom.

Liam challenges me. He talks openly about Jesus to anyone, never fearing what they might think. He loves people all the time no matter the circumstances, and there’s no difference from one person to the next. There’s much I learn from him.

He’s also the perfect big brother. He equally protects and annoys his many younger siblings, and they all think he’s the best. I tell him he often reminds me of my own big brother, a high praise.

So grateful to have been given this kid nine years ago.



With his favorite brother

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Being goofy with his sister


Lego creation




Picking apples



Love this kid