it’s my birthday

Today I’m 31 years old. somehow it feels a little anti-climactic after last years big 3-0. 🙂  But this year I’ve been given a really sweet gift from my Heavenly Father: a deep joy.

Today my kids are barking like seals, my husband worked last night and usually I don’t love sharing “my” day. (Yeah, selfish, much?)

But also today, my kids are in hilariously happy moods in spite of their colds, my husband has a great job that he loves, the weather is absolutely perfect, we had a fabulous time celebrating both Father’s Day and my birthday yesterday with my parents and brother Nate and sis Karla, and well – I’m alive! SO MUCH to celebrate!

So this deep, abiding joy is blessing me beyond measure. I’m really grateful for the love showed to me by God, my family, and my friends over this past year. I feel like I’ve grown in so many ways, with more adventures of grace ahead, God willing.

It’s been a great 31st year. A decade ago, I imagined a life something like this, but it’s so much better in living color. Thanks, God.


Now I’m going to go eat some more birthday cake. 🙂

30 of my favorite things::THREE-OH

today I turn the big 3-0. what? how in the world did I get here? I’m pretty sure I was 23 yesterday. Or the day before.

and now I’ve got a husband, a house, a dog, two kids and a mini-van. {typical American. :rollseyes:}

today and yesterday I’ve been thinking of and singing this song over and over in my head – Sara Groves’ “His Always Been Faithful”. This decade of my life has seen me change the most, I reckon. From a 20 year old single girl working at ITC to a married, mother of two who writes on the side. Through it all – the constant has been my Jesus. Always there, always mine, always faithful.

And here I am. 30. With probably at LEAST another 30 years, probably 50, stretching out in front of me like a long train track dissolving into the far distance. Good memories to spur me onward in my journey. The best is yet to come!

On this day, I thought it would be fun to list a few things I love these days. So, in no particular order of importance…a few of my favorite things.

  1. my husband. He remains one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. 
  2. my children. i cannot believe the blessing of my kids. i love them more than I ever thought possible. 
  3. coffee. dark roast. with cream and sugar or vanilla syrup. or a vanilla latte.
  4. sunshine on my shoulders. 
  5. mountains. I need a mountain fix so badly. 
  6. rainy days. with a good book. 
  7. dark chocolate. 
  8. cupcakes.
  9. coffee dates with my girlfriends. 
  10. sleeping babies on my chest.
  11. the smell of a freshly bathed baby. 
  12. long walks with my love, after dark. 
  13. Lake Superior. (and Duluth.)
  14. traveling. 
  15. my dearest friends and the way they keep me grounded. 
  16. getting real mail. 
  17. sunsets over Port Susan Bay of the Puget Sound. 
  18. Psalm 16
  19. sleeping with the windows open on a cool summer night. 
  20. the book “The Bronze Bow” by Elizabeth George Speare.
  21. cinnamon rolls. 
  22. fresh flowers on my kitchen table. 
  23. a long chat with an old friend. 
  24. Starbucks. 
  25. Target. 
  26. pesto on angel hair pasta. 
  27. “Shawshank Redemption” (movie). 
  28. people who are real. 
  29. pretty paper and stationary and printed things. 
  30. pedicures. 

Today was truly a gift of a day, full of little surprises and big ones, kindnesses and many sweet greetings. I love Facebook for the reason I hear from so many corners of my life on my birthday. Though it is nice to get “real cards” in the mail, its so fun to hear from friends far and wide, even if its a sentence on my timeline. 🙂 Thanks for making my life and this birthday a beautiful one. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for this next decade of my wonderful, blessing-kissed life.

Me: from A-Z

A. Age: 29, for one more month
B. Bed size: Queen. Just right.
C. Chore that you hate: Emptying the dishwasher and mopping. But I LOVE the results of both of these things being done. conflicted much?
D. Dogs: Love them. The bigger, the better. We have a golden lab named Nikon, whom we rescued 3.5 years ago. He’s the best.
E. Essential start to your day: Coffee and The Word. ‘nuf said.
F. Favorite color: A toss up between yellow, blue and coral.
G. Gold or Silver: Silver. Always.
H. Height: 5’5″
I. Instruments you play: my voice.
J. Job title: Child of God, wife, mom, domestic engineer, queen of my domain.
K. Kids: Jack is almost 3, and Taylor-girl is 7 months.
L. Live: North of the Twin Cities, MN
M. Mother’s name: Meredith
N. Nicknames: Jo, Honey/Babe
O. Overnight hospital stays: Only when I’ve had a baby – 2x.
P. Pet peeves: bad spelling/misspelling, dirty mirrors, bratty kids and indulgent parents.
Q. Quote from a movie: “Shelves in the closet…happy thought indeed!”
R. Right or left handed: Right.
S. Siblings: Two brothers, five sisters-in-law, and two brothers-in-law.
U. University: nope, just culinary art school and the University of Life.
V. Vegetable you hate: Lima beans.
W. What makes you run late: Myself – not being prepared. My kids. Oh my kids. lol. I used to be on time to stuff before i had kids.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: a bunch. fingers, back, shoulder, elbow.
Y. Yummy food that you make: everything? 🙂 Oh that’s not a choice? Kyle loves my fish tacos and brownies. I love scones and chicken satay.
Z. Zoo animal: Giraffes. Dolphins. They are so remarkable to me!
You do it! 🙂 And if you do, please comment so I can make sure to come read it. Happy Sunday!

12 Books in 2012

12 Books in 2012

(Not necessarily in this order…)

  1. Give Them Grace – Elise Fitzpatrick
  2. The Power of Prayer – E.M. Bounds
  3. Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton
  4. Don’t Make Me Count to Three – Ginger Plowman
  5. The Faithful Parent – Martha Peace
  6. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Jamie Ford
  7. Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
  8. Peter and the Shadow Thieves – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
  9. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
  10. The Dragon’s Tooth – Ashtown Burials #1 – N.D. Wilson
  11. Unbroken – A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand
  12. Real Marriage – Mark and Grace Driscoll

Bonus Books:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Bender

Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (read before but they are beloved)

I have a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction, I think. And can you tell I’m a wife and mother? 🙂 What’s on your reading list for 2012?

2011 Year in Review

My annual year in review post!


1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? had a baby girl! Okay, that’s kind of cheating, since i have given birth before. But this girl thing is all new.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I made goals again, not resolutions and accomplished about 75% of them! What I didn’t reach: read 15 books (I read like 4 – so dumb), exercising more consistently during pregnancy, memorize Ephesians and plan menus every month. I did pretty well, but this year I’m definitely working harder to meet the most important goals. And yes, I’m making goals for 2012. I love goals.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? YES. Several of my best girlfriends. Three of them right around Taylor’s due date! (and we all had girls!)

4. Did anyone close to you die? in January, Kyle’s grandma passed away. She was our last grandparent to walk through the golden gates of heaven. We miss her.

5. What countries did you visit? no countries – just states. We went to Nevada in March to ski at Lake Tahoe with our friends Rob and Rosanna! It was awesome. Otherwise, we stuck around MN a lot this year. We got a state park passport and have been trying to collect as many stamps as possible. So fun for exploring our own beautiful state.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? a consistent time in the Word and prayer.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? October 3 – Taylor’s due date AND birthday! She came right on time. lol.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?another pregnancy and safe/healthy delivery. It’s sort of huge to bring a human into the world. 🙂 I GET sort of huge too.

9. What was your biggest failure? not sticking with exercise and great eating habits while pregnant.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? the usual basic colds/sore throats, and acute sleep deprivation. oh, and heart sickness over my bestie Rosanna moving to NV. It was really hard to say goodbye.

11. What was the best thing you bought? plane tickets to Tahoe! And maternity clothes.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I think I will always fill this in with Kyle. Once again, he blew me away with the grace, love and kindness he shows me and the way he cares for our family. It’s been so fun to see him father a baby girl too. I am very blessed by him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? the media and the government, as per usual.

14. Where did most of your money go? housing, food, church/missions and gasoline.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? going to Tahoe with R&R, finding out we were expecting a girl, hosting a retreat for women I love dearly and meeting Taylor!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Uncharted by Sarah Barielles or Neon Lights by Natasha Bedingfield

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? sadder. But for dumb reasons. I am so unbelievably blessed.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? reading, writing and praying. And protein.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? whining, frivolity, and judging. And carbs.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Christmas Eve with both our familes, Christmas morning with our little family and my parents, Christmas dinner with our parents and Kyle’s sisters hosted at our house.

21. How will you spend New Years? At home with family, delicious food and champagne.

22. What was your favorite TV program? I didn’t have a “oh my gosh I LOVE this” favorite this year, but I enjoyed The Voice, The Office and Southland.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? nope.

24. What was the best book you read? The Help. (The only novel I read this year, haha.)

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? The Black Keys

26. What did you want and got? a healthy baby and new boots. 🙂

27. What was your favorite film of this year? Recently, the Sherlock Holmes sequel. Earlier in the year, the new Jane Eyre and The Kings Speech. Brilliant. Courageous was pretty great too!

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? turned 29, enjoyed lunch with my men, paddleboated at Lake Calhoun, and had a party with friends and family in the evening. It was a lovely day!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? spending more time at the feet of my Savior.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? maternity. ‘nuf said. 😛

31. What kept you sane? my husband, planning parties and girls nights out.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I am seriously drawing a blank here. Real people in my real life are far more interesting and inspiring.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? mostly I’m just annoyed with how much the government spends to accomplish so very little.

34. Who did you miss? my best friends that live far away. and my Grandma Alice.

35. Who was the best new person you met? Several of my friends from the Crossings! They are like sisters to me, but I’d not enjoyed their company in person until this year. Also my new friend, Elise. 🙂 She’s a gem!

36. Tell us some valuable life lessons you learned in 2011: Motherhood is the hardest and most wonderful challenge I have yet faced in life, and adding another kid to the mix is even more crazy/wonderful! I need Jesus. Every day. And I became even more grateful for the amazing help and support Kyle is to me. I couldn’t do life well without him.

christmas memories 2011

its the day after the day after Christmas. 🙂 Jack is happily playing with his new train and tracks in his bedroom wearing his new, self-described “jumping pants” from Grandma Char and Grandpa Rick. His awesome handcrafted work bench is downstairs and he wants to watch a “moomie” (Planet Earth) that Kyle got for him.

Christmas through the eyes of a 2.5 year old is far more fun than merely through my own. He made it so fun to open gifts and his repeated “Oh WOW!”‘s were priceless. On Christmas morning, we drove home from church and Jack fell asleep. He was all cute in his new puffer vest and dapper hat, clutching a stuffed teddy bear. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have snapped a picture, because I just want to remember these moments. They are slipping by more quickly than I want them to!

Jack loved moving the Advent star on our advent calendar and lighting the candles each night when we did our devotional. He said many a “Merry Kiss-mas!’ and would always say that as we said goodnight. It was great fun to give cookie plates to our neighbors and wish them a “Merry Christmas!” too. When we had a Christmas party with our friends the Sullivans and Gulbransons, Jessica made a birthday cake for Jesus and Jack LOVED singing “Happy Birthday” and blew out the candle with joy. We talked a lot about baby Jesus in the manger and the stable, in spite of the stupid dog eating our “gingerbread nativity”. I think he is “catching” that Jesus is the reason for this wonderful season.

the strangest part of the Christmas season of 2011 was that we had NO SNOW! Super odd. I can think of one, possible two other brown Minnesota Christmases I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Hopefully this remains an anomaly and not a typical event! I miss the snow. It’s the one thing that makes winter pretty. However, I am NOT complaining about the warmer temps which have accompanied the snow famine. Last year the snow and cold came early and often and stayed far past it’s welcome. We just need snow by the time we go to Lutsen to ski in February. Please and thank you, God.

We attended several different musical events this Christmas and Jackson loved them all. His favorite Christmas song was “The Little Drummer Boy”, which incidentally was MY favorite Christmas song as a tiny kid. I called it the “Pum-pum Song”. Jack especially notices violins in music or when he sees them being played. It comes out “why-o-lin” when he says it, which is totally adorable. 🙂 I wonder how young is too young to start music lessons? He is so interested in playing and singing and everything musical.

The family events were plentiful and wonderful. I’m so grateful, once again, that we live within close driving distance of both sides of our family. We made cookies and shared cookies, gave gifts and received gifts, played games and enjoyed many cups of coffee. Taylor was fawned over, held and adored. Jackson was made to laugh, giggle and said “STOP IT” when things got too exciting for him. oh silly boy. His aunts and uncles love him to bits.

Amazon Prime saved my shopping bacon this Christmas. Hooray for free two-day shipping and great prices on the stuff we wanted to give! 🙂 I got Kyle a bunch of fun little things to “fill his stocking”, since we gave each other a night at a bed and breakfast to be enjoyed at a later date. We gave Jack an IKEA rug for driving his cars and trucks on, the Planet Earth dvd’s, finger paints, bubbles, and a puffer vest. Kyle did an epic job filling my stocking – I loved it, especially the copy of White Christmas peeking out of the top. We watched that yesterday. I love that movie, schmaltz and all. 🙂

And now 2012 is around the corner. I was pondering a year ago, as I’m wont to do, and love thinking how Taylor was just a twinkle in our eye at this time in 2010. Now she’s here and we love her so much. She has this face-splitting, exuberant smile that is just contagiously beautiful. Though two kids have multiplied my work, they have also multiplied my joy. It’s so nice that God doesn’t give me one without the other. 🙂

I consider the best gifts of the year to be the ones from my Heavenly Father. My wonderful husband, Jack, our sweet new baby girl, the ability to give much to others, a warm place to sleep and so, so, SO much more. And most of all, I am grateful for the gift of a little child that grew into a man who rescued my heart and saved my soul. Merry Christmas indeed!


a week ago I had a wonderful birthday! We trekked down to the great City of Lakes, Minneapolis, for a fun-filled day with family and friends. And ice cream. And coffee. 🙂 I submit it doesn’t get much better than that!

The fun began with brunch at a cute and vintage neighborhood cafe’ near Lake Nokomis. I felt as if we had stepped back into time to 1962 as we sat at our booth and enjoyed really tasty corned beef hash, etc. I had a particularly fantastic hair day…a nice little birthday present from God. LOL.

From there, we dropped Jack off at his wonderful Grandma Meri’s house and took off to Lake Calhoun for a little paddle boating cruise around the chain of lakes, going all the way to Cedar Lake, back through Lake of the Isle to Lake Calhoun. The only one we didn’t hit up was Lake Harriet. I spent my very early elementary years living near there, so it was fun to revisit my ol’ stomping grounds. Dad used to toss me in his hand-crafted bike trailer and bike around all three lakes and back to our home on Penn Ave. when I was a wee little lassie, sometimes stopping to get me a chocolate chip cookie at Great Harvest bakery.

Rob and Rosanna, who also had my birthday “off” (its so nice when friends have random middle o’ the week days off and can join us for adventures) came along to paddle and chat and enjoy Sebastian Joe’s ice cream and a Great Harvest cookie with us after our lake excursion. We’re trying to do as much as we can with R&R before they (sniff) leave us for adventures in NV and CA later this year. They have been constant friends over the past five years and it is going to be just rotten-hard to see them move. So! We’re living it up this summer while we can. 🙂

Later in the evening, a wonderful collection of friends and family came over to my parent’s house to celebrate with snacks and cupcakes. I was blessed by their presence and many coffee/food related gifts! (What can I say, my friends know me WELL!) Kyle truly made me feel like a princess on my special day. I love that man.

And here I am, one week into my thirtieth year of life. So far, so good! I know there are challenges, blessings, trials and beauty ahead on this journey, and while sometimes I wonder what God has in store…I know He will be faithful as He has been up until today. All I have need of, His hand will provide…He’s always been faithful to me. With that promise, I know this year will be incredible and I look forward to each day He gives me to live!

the will of God

last week I finished a great book that Kyle gave me for Mother’s Day. It has nothing to do with motherhood – it was a novel set in China in the 1900’s about a missionary couple. The author based much of the book on the lives of her grandparents, who were also missionaries to China in that time period. When I reached the last two pages, I was totally blown away by how much I related to the main character’s feelings about the will of God and his life.

I went through this realization about 6 years ago when I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to do next – where God wanted me or what my purpose was at the time. But I WANTED to follow God and I trusted that He had given me a brain and I could choose to do something that was perfectly good and right and He would reveal His will as I went along this path of life.

I was also completely undone (maybe pregnancy hormones came into play, I don’t know) by the last phrase of the last big paragraph – where he says how much God loves him. I needed that reminder because I tend to be very, very hard on myself and not rest in His unending and beautiful love for me.

Anyway – maybe it will bless you too. Happy Wednesday!

I pray that throughout the day God’s will, not mine, be done, whatever that may mean. When I was younger, I thought it meant traveling a road that was straight and confining and predictable, something to be done correctly, like finding my way through a maze where only one path is right.

I thought following that path would always feel true and safe and virtuous and that it would give me a surefooted, foolproof sense about life. This narrow thinking was mine, not His; I no longer believe it.

WHen I am in God’s will, sometimes i do feel comfortable and at ease, but I just as often feel anxious and unsettled, for He often leads me into unfamiliar waters. I do not let these feelings guide me. Over time I have come to believe that God’s will is a mystery, fluid and surprising. Following is like stepping out into something I cannot see, and am frequently unsure about whether I am doing God’s will until after the fact.

But I have learned that while I don’t always know when I’m doing something right, I always know when I am doing something wrong, and I rely on this as I go forward, trusting that He will use my mistakes as well as my triumphs and knowing that He does not ask me to be perfect, or even good. He simply asks me to be His, which to me is the heart of His Good News: that I am deeply and passionately loved exactly as I am, despite the faults that grieve me most, by a God who delights in me more than I can know.

With the gift of renewed certainty when I awake each morning, I rise to meet the day and to praise my dear Lord, and to finish my course with joy.


i love this tree in our front yard, so when we went on vacation last week and I saw that the buds were about to burst into bloom, I was a little worried that we’d miss its full beauty. But when we returned on Friday, it was in all it’s glory. Harsh weather this weekend caused many of the petals to start falling, but the scent is still intoxicating and delicious when you walk past and the pale pink flowers still make me smile.

All the blooming trees and bushes – lilacs, azalea, dogwood, crabapple, pear and chokecherry, inspire me to want to plant things in the fresh dirt. This weekend I got a bunch of rhubarb cuttings from my parents and can’t wait for those to produce for the first part of summer. Tomorrow I’m going to make a trip to the greenhouse nearby to pick up herbs of all varieties for my hydroponic garden and some flowers to make various pretty pots around the house. I’m not really a gardener, but I try to make our yard and environs pretty for the short months we can enjoy living, flowering plants. 🙂

I am greatly anticipating our Farmer’s Market starting and visiting it on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s to pick up fresh vegetables and fruit from local farmers. Sometime soon I also want to visit the St. Paul and Minneapolis Farmer’s Markets – they are the grandpappys of markets in the Twin Cities – overflowing abundance of plants, fruits, vegetables and other delectable edibles like fresh bread and amazing scones. I could spend a. lot. of. cash. there. 🙂

I really, really love spring and I’m so glad its finally here!