eight years with you

wedding day

Wedding Day – a beautiful, clear, picture-perfect autumn day in Minnesota. We got married! I was soooo happy! (song – I’ll Stay With You, Goo Goo Dolls)

1st anniversary – amazing trip to northern CA and San Francisco. Celebrated on the Skunk Train and with dinner at a lovely Mendocino bistro. (song – It Did, Brad Paisley)

2nd anniversary – beautiful night in Stillwater, MN. Dinner at the Dock Cafe and surprises waiting for us at home from our sweet friends. (song – Better Together, Jack Johnson)

3rd anniversary – a comedy of errors, bad Seattle evening traffic, a wailing two month old who was being cared for by my dear friend, a sobbing self and then things got better. A delicious dinner at an unexpectedly fabulous back alley restaurant near Pike Place Market, and dessert and coffee at the original Starbucks. (song – Lucky, Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat/Smile, Uncle Kracker)

4th anniversary – a fabulous, whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. My first time there! Tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, and dinner at Capitol Brewing, a rainy trip to a bookstore and ice cream in Dupont Circle. (songs – You and Me, Dave Matthews/I’ve Got You, Train)

5th anniversary – VERY pregnant with Taylor. A trip to Pleasant Valley Apple Orchard. I don’t remember much more celebrating! We were ready to meet our little girl. (song – Glitter in the Air, P!nk)

6th anniversary – a stay at Hotel Ivy, the Desiring God conference, the Melting Pot and Andrew Peterson in concert. (song – I Won’t Give Up, Jason Mraz)

7th anniversary – a day in Duluth! A beautiful hike by a creek, and dinner at Canal Park Brewery. (song – Life is Better With You, Michael Franti)

8th anniversary – yet to be celebrated fully, but the upcoming Crowder concert and dinner out will be grand. (song – Come to Me, Goo Goo Dolls)

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Life with you is a happy adventure, my love! I’m so glad to be your girl. I love you – happy anniversary!

10 books that have stuck with me

  1. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
  2. The Bronze Bow – Elizabeth George Speare
  3. Caddie Woodlawn – Carol Ryrie Brink
  4. All Things Bright and Beautiful – James Herriot (and series)
  5. Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder (and series)
  6. The Silver Chair – C.S. Lewis (and The Chronicles of Narnia series)
  7. The Girl of the Limberlost – Gene Stratton Porter
  8. The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer
  9. The Cost of Discipleship – Deitrich Bonhoeffer
  10. The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Boom

Honorable Mention -
Cheaper by the Dozen – Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Sherlock Holmes series – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Betsy-Tacy – Maud Hart Lovelace (and series)

Lately on Facebook, I’ve seen people posting some of the books that have stuck with them throughout their lives and/or made an impact on them. This little list is kind of my own “top ten”. I cheated a bit because I posted some that are also one in a series. I couldn’t leave any of those out! And there are so many more I could post, but these have left an indelible mark on my life.

Some of these beloved friends had to be replaced with new copies in my teen years because they were so tattered and worn. Many of them I read annually. I will love reading all of them to my children!

Which books have left their mark on you?

theladiesrj

three years…and it’s not getting easier

Eight years ago, I hadn’t even met Rosanna yet. This beautiful woman who would quickly become one of my dearest, most wonderful friends was marrying her Rob and in a few weeks would move cross-country from Nevada to start their married life in a tiny basement apartment in the suburbs here in Minnesota. In that time, I’d marry Kyle and settle into our newlywed apartment in our little town.

I had been the new girl in town so many times before, and having known Rosanna from an online forum we were both a part of for several years, I wanted to extend as much welcome and love to her and Rob as possible. The first time I met her in person was at church the first Sunday they came – she remembers it better than I do, but little did we know that our lives would parallel and intertwine in such a sweet way for the next 5 years.

We always knew this was a “temporary” assignment. Rob would someday finish seminary at TBI/BCS and they would move on to the next place God had for them. But thanks to whatever it was/God, it was prolonged and we got more years/months than we expected to grow in friendship. Even though the time was fleeting, and goodbye was inevitable, it didn’t keep us from letting our guard down and being truly honest, real and going deep in our friendship. That’s a treasure.

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some of our first pictures together

Our pair became a trio with our friend Jessica. The three of us became quite the crew. Shopping dates and coffee and girls nights out and fun times and small group girl times. Our husbands became good friends. The six of us started a small group and met weekly, more or less. Two and a half years of Tuesday nights. 120 evenings of learning, growing, and sharing life.

Five years and a couple months ago, Rosanna and I both gave birth to our firstborns: both boys. Jack and Jude. Just six weeks apart, we entered The Motherhood together – diapers and nursing and midnight feedings and baby food and sleep deprivation and what in the world are we doing? :-)

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The Forest Lake Starbucks became “our Starbucks” because it was about halfway-ish between our two homes. We’d plop the boys in front of an iPod while we attempted to chat. Or on rare days, our awesome husbands would watch the boys so we could have real conversation, uninterrupted by cute toddlers who wanted more pumpkin bread. Rosanna introduced me to REAL makeup and how to put it on. She helped guide my sense of style and helpfully critiqued many an outfit outside the Turnstyle dressing room door. She shared my burdens. Prayed for me. Lifted my heart with kindness.

Three years ago I was hugely pregnant with my daughter and Rosanna was a couple months from giving birth to her second boy. Three years ago I had this impending dread because the day for goodbye was finally here. We’d had at least an extra year together than we’d thought we’d have. But it still wasn’t enough. I knew this chapter was over, but oh how I wasn’t ready for it to end. I knew God had good for them in the days ahead. I’d said goodbye to dear friends before, but this was really, really tough.

theladiesthe night we said goodbye

Today, I’m in Minnesota. Rosanna is in Idaho. Today it’s STILL HARD. The other night I was sitting in the Forest Lake Starbucks, reading a chapter in my current book that happened to be about friendship. The tears started to fall, dripping off my cheek onto the pages of my book. I pulled out my phone and texted Rosanna. “Are you around? I miss you.”

You kind of expect that as time passes, the little wound from having someone important pulled away from your heart…the ache from the distance that separates you…that those would get better. But they just haven’t. I still cry as easily as I did that September evening  when I hugged her close and said goodbye. Planes are nice. iPhones and Facetime are great. It’s precious to me that even though we sorta suck at staying in close touch (because KIDS and LIFE and honestly, it’s just hard to call her up when I want so badly to sit in her living room instead), I know that the minute we’re together again (WHICH CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH!) we will fall into conversation like a year hasn’t passed.

When Jes and I are together, we always feel like a piece of us is missing. Always. And that’s good and right. Rosanna is making new friends in her new town. That’s right and that’s so, so good. I’ve made new friends. Jes has made new friends. Our sons send each other Facebook videos. Our husbands email and message each other. We tag each other in instagram photos. Life rolls on, a steady cadence of time.

We have memories. Lots of really wonderful memories. I’ll always remember the first time we had Rob and Rosanna over. I remember Smirnoff Ice coolers that tasted like kid’s cough syrup and laughing our heads off over Homestar Runner on Kyle’s ancient dinosaur of a laptop. I remember walking to Dairy Queen in a blizzard on New Year’s Eve. I remember the birthday parties and BBQ’s and prayer time on Rosanna’s bed with the black and white comforter. I remember little boys running around and laughter. I always think of singing “We Are Young” at the top of our voices after Fogo de Chao whenever I hear that song on the radio. I remember Jude’s little skinny jeans on Jack’s fat butt and Jack’s big ol’ gansta pants on Jude’s tiny tushie.

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It’s been three years since our paths, once so parallel, diverged. It isn’t any easier to have my dear friend thousands of miles away. I hope it never, ever is.

a seed of faith

Jackson, tonight I had the incomparable joy of hearing you ask Jesus to save you.

Who knew that a conversation about wildcats in South Carolina would turn into a redemptive conversation that would lead to you wanting to follow Jesus? I sure didn’t anticipate it as I painted the swing set and you sallied back and forth on the red swing below. But Jesus knew. He knew you’d want to know if bears lived in North Carolina and if wildcats lived in South Caroline. He knew I’d tell you about my Pop-pop’s stuffed wild cat that was mounted on his wall when I was a girl. He knew you’d ask if my grandpa was in heaven…Jesus knew it would go like this:

You asked me if I was going to heaven and I said yes. You asked what heaven is like and I told you it was the best thing you can imagine, but better than that because God was there. Then you wondered what hell was like and I explained it’s the worst thing you can imagine, and worse, because God isn’t there. You asked what was in hell I said fire and darkness.

You asked again I was going to heaven and why I was. I answered, “Because I have asked Jesus to save me from my sins and I was sorry and repentant for my sins. I asked Jesus to save me because I knew I wanted to follow him all the days my life.” And then Jack, you said, “Mom, could you help me do that too?” I said, “I would love to.”

So later in the evening you and I prayed together and you asked Jesus to save you. I’m so glad Jack! So glad that God takes conversations about Wildcats and turns them into redemption. So glad that you want to follow Jesus. Dad asked you why you wanted to go to heaven and you said “to be with God.” I can’t think of a better reason, because He wants you to be with Him forever. He made the way for you to be with Him forever!

I love you, Jackson and my deepest prayer is that you will follow Jesus all the days of your life. God has begun a good work in your heart and I know that he will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I pray that this seed of faith that God has planted in your heart will grow to be a mighty, strong oak with deep roots. Sink yourself deep into Jesus, Jack. He loves you and promises to be with you all along this journey of life. He is FOR you. Chase after Him with every bit of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Love, Mom

Photo by jomegs - Google Chrome 7292014 114601 PM.bmp

a recap – three months and some change

whoa. It’s been a full three months since I’ve touched this blog. :( Which makes me sad. Life has been busy, needless to say. Adoption paperwork/stuff, living life, trying to balance myself, our marriage and the joy of three kids. And at the end of the day when I have a few minutes to spare, I don’t tend to write…because BRAIN CELLS.

Brain cells which have been eaten alive by five year old boy questions. Seriously, it’s like the Spanish Inquisition around here EVERY DAY. Which is great, because I am glad he’s so hungry to learn, but some days I feel like handing him Siri to answer the barrage. :-P

But I do really love my life, with all its quirks and hiccups and exhaustion. And coffee. About a month ago I felt like the post-partum fog and blah lifted – praise be! That six month mark…its a beautiful thing.

May brought SPRING, our first niece/cousin, Jack’s last day of preschool and his first success at reading, and Jack’s first t-ball game. June held my birthday (32-what?!), Kyle running the Grandma’s Marathon in under 4 hours, and our sixth Backyard Bible Club. July has flown by with family get-together’s, the Fourth, a boat excursion, Jack’s birthday, and a quick trip to Duluth for the Park Point 5-Miler and Walk. August is upon us in days!

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Jackson turned five on the 17th and I can’t believe we’ll start kindergarten in a few weeks. I have one…exactly one item of curricula ready. Er, purchased. But not really ready. Yeah. Need to get on that.

Taylor is just a riot. Every day she makes me laugh and brings a smile to my face with the things she says and the ideas she has. Her favorite things lately have been riding her new pink bike that our kind neighbors passed along from their daughter, and popsicles. Oh and fruit snacks.

Grant is quite simply our Mr. Sunshine. His smile (sporting two teeth and two more on their way!) lights up every corner of every room. I can’t get enough of his roly-poly legs and his fat, dimpled elbows. He has tan lines in his arm and wrist fat rolls. I mean, REALLY?! It’s just too much. He’s juuuust starting to scootch around and be mobile. I foresee crawling and pulling up being not far away.

On the adoption front…we’re THIS close to being done assembling our dossier! Just waiting on some paperwork from our doctor’s office and a revision of our home study before we apply to USCIS and send our dossier to be translated. I hope by September, our dossier will be filed in that beautiful country called Haiti. Then we wait. For a time period only God knows the length of…patience and resting in His promise of knowing what’s best for us will be the name of the waiting game.

So that’s a quick recap…I hope it’s not three months before I open this page and thoughts spill out onto the keys and into words on this page.

 

 

 

My Kids Say Funny Stuff 4.0

He Said

“Push-ups are good for my body.”

Jackson likes to watch the news on an app on the iPad while he eats breakfast. We obviously only let him watch age appropriate news stories, but he’s right there seeing screen shots while we choose the ones he can watch. One particular story’s photo was of a certain medicinal plant. Jack said, “Oh Mom, let’s watch the one about marijuana.” Jaw drop. Then I realized that he’s been paying attention when Kyle has shown people video clips and photos of the very large marijuana grow his SWAT team helped dismantle last summer. Cop kids. :-O

We have tiger lilies growing in our front garden bed and Jackson has called them “Lion lilies” after asking me what they are called. Presh.

After a discussion about a nearby town called Taylors Falls and how it has the same name as Taylor, Jackson remarked, “I wish Jackson, MIssissippi was closer to us.”

He pointed to a picture of missionaries on our refrigerator and asked, “Where do those Christian-airies live again?”

We recently went to our favorite place in Minnesota, Duluth. and our cabin stay in a North Shore town called Lutsen is coming up in this week. As we left the shore of Lake Superior and headed south to our home on our recent visit, Jackson sighed and said wistfully, “I want to live in Dulutsen.” So do I, buddy!

She Said

After swimming in a hotel pool, shivering and needing to go potty, Taylor got big eyes when she sat on the toilet: “I have hot pee!”

Earlier this spring, Taylor’s Aunt Anna and future Uncle Tyler asked our family to be in their wedding (which is only a few weeks away now). Taylor was so excited to be the flower girl. She had a little conversation with Kyle about wedding roles: “I’m duh fwower dirl, you da fwower boy?”

“I’m two, How much you be?”

She had some especially stinky and serious gas – “Mom! I have fire in my butt!”

Taylor is Miss Independent these days. “I do it maself,” she says daily.

As she pulls her t-shirt down to reveal her shoulders: “See my big muffles?” Translated: Muscles.

Sweetest question ever: “Tan I div you a butterfwy tiss?”

On our way into one of our favorite river towns nearby, Taylor got so excited. “We’re almost to Taylors Falls! MY falls! I match.”

Jackson got some handcuffs for his birthday last week. Taylor asked him if she could play with his “lockers”, which is only slightly less funny than when she asked him for his “hookers”.

Jackson is Five!

 

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What day is today, Jackson?: My birthday!

How old are you? Five.

Who made you? God did.

Where do you live? in North Branch

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?  Go play at the playground.

What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy? Go to the store.

What is your favorite thing to do with Taylor? Play babies.

Who is your best friend? Reegan.

What is your favorite book? Trusty the Train

What character in a book do you like best? Thomas the Train

What is your favorite Bible Story? David and Goliath

What is your favorite thing to build? Towers

What is your favorite food to eat? Apples

What is your favorite thing to play? Hide and seek

Where do you love to visit? North Carolina

What song do you like to sing the most? Glory to God

If you could buy anything at the store, what would it be? Spiderman

What is your favorite animal? Horses

If you could buy someone a gift, what would you buy and who would it be for? I would buy a toy house for Reegan.

What would you like to be when you grow up? A police officer.

What do you enjoy doing outside? Playing football.

What holiday do you love celebrating? Fourth of July

What is your favorite work to do at school? Painting

What is your favorite restaurant? McDonalds

What is your favorite special treat? Popsicles

What do you love most about being a big brother? Taking care of Taylor and my brother

What do you want to do today on your birthday? Play mini-golf and eat at the Drive-In!

What was your favorite thing about being four? Going to the beach

What are you most excited about in turning five?! Playing with my friends.