Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Last Saturday, John and I took flight to San Francisco for a quick long weekend with no children.


We crossed the country and still managed to be there by about 11 am thanks to the magic of time travel and an early departure.  First stop: Chinatown.


Wandering through these streets did actually feel like we were back in Asia, and we both second guessed whether or not we should buy Dragonfruit (not pictured) to bring home to the girls for fear it would not make it through customs.  Then we remembered we had not actually left the US of A.  We got lunch at Delicious Dim Sum which had a menu only in Chinese, so we ordered one of everything and enjoyed it all, even the bits that didn't look particularly appetizing were tasty.  They all seemed to be made with love.


We parked our little selves in this beautifully lit alley near this man reading his paper.  A few minutes later, a little boy came up and asked him something.  Before we knew it, he had pulled out an instrument I didn't recognize and began playing a song that I did: "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."  Tears immediately filled my eyes, because it felt like a gift.  The food, the trip, the music, and the overwhelming goodness of that moment felt like a wink from the Lord, which I very much appreciated.

Next up on the agenda: Bike the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito.  The weather was gorgeous, and though there were people everywhere, it was still quite pleasant.  Though - it should be known that there were a fair few hills in this little jaunt and I was very sore the next day.  It was all worth it.  The bridge really is larger than life, and it is undeniably fun to see and experience something in real life that I have seen pictures of for all of time.


P.S.  I know my biking ensemble is a bit absurd.  I like to look cute on vacation, and I really was quite comfortable.  So, I decided screw it - I am going to where what I want.  I only wish those pants had had a little more padding.

We got ice cream in Sausalito and enjoyed the adorableness of the town before catching the ferry back to the Pier with the millions of other bikers.

(another quick P.S. - I did not mean to order bright blue ice cream, because I am not actually six years old.  I ordered quickly from the menu before realizing that "Cookie Monster" did mean lots of cookies plus the intense color.  Fortunately, it tasted good.)

Next activity: Head to hotel (Villa Florence in Union Square), and change clothes for a date night in North Beach where all the awesome Italian restaurants are.


It should be noted that at this point, we had been up since 4 am our time (2 am Cali time), and it was about 8 pm as we headed out to dinner.  We had a rental car just for the day and experienced quite the headache with parking and valet, and then our first restaurant choice was no longer accepting people, because it was so busy.  So, we were both a bit cranky and trying to pretend otherwise, because we were supposed to be having fun.

Faking fun is not a lot of fun.  However, the night turned around, and we dined at Rose Pistola, which was delicious and headed straight for a good night's sleep.  John happily returned our rental the next morning and took in a morning jog around the relatively quiet city while I snoozed.


We spent our second day seeing our dear friends Mary and Kristin and getting schooled in all things Oakland.  We came away understanding that Oakland sometimes has had a bad rap - but it is awesome!  Really and truly.


We walked the beautiful Lake Merritt which is a few minutes walk from their condo.


We hit up a space museum and observatory where I fell asleep in a movie, because I was still so not caught up on sleep.


They took us to Oaklandish and had us pick out cool t-shirts for us and the kiddos.


Then we had the wine tasting portion of our afternoon at Urban Legend where they are members.


Lastly, we walked the pier, hitting up two separate restaurants for drinks and dinner and fun with their wonderful friends.  All in all, it was an amazing day and so good to spend time with people that we love on their home turf.


Obviously, we sort of pack things in.  But - it was a great first two days to a great trip.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


It's been a while since I wrote one of these, but I've had thoughts of friendship circling my mind and decided to finally type them out.

Dearest Children of Mine,

As you go through life, I am hoping and praying that you will surround yourself with great people who become great friends.  I've been thinking a lot about friendship recently.  It truly is one of the things in life that I could not live without.  Friends have come alongside of me at so many points and helped to hold me up when I felt like giving up.  Friends can help your life be sweeter and more fun and better, and I hope you look for these kinds of people.

Here are a few tips on friendship that I've gathered over the years.  I think it boils down to a couple of pretty basic things.

You've got to show up, and you've got to open up.

As I think about the friends that I have right now in my life, I am so amazed and overwhelmed at the blessings they are to me.  It's funny, because if you looked at many of us on paper, we might not look super compatible.  BUT - we've all shown up at the same places consistently.  We've shown up for each other.  We've put in the time.  Relationships are built as you do life together, and you build commonality with shared experiences.  As time goes by, you look up and realize how much you adore these people that you spend all this time with.  It's happened to me over and again, and I am always a little surprised and super grateful at who I get to be friends with.

Don't pick friends based on who can give you advantages or who might seem the flashiest.  Pick the people that are the most constant.  And do the same for them.  Show up.  Make the effort.  Do the inviting if you need to.  Everyone likes to be invited.  Do the hard work, and you will all be so glad.

Once you've got a bit of trust going, take the leap and open up with those around you.  Let them see who you really are and what makes you tick.  Be HONEST about the struggles that you face and your story, and be a safe place for their returned honesty.  It is hard to shine light into the dark corners of our hearts, but it is so freeing and it ties us to those around us in really wonderful ways.

There are so many amazing people in the world that you could surround yourself with, and honestly, there aren't enough hours in the day for me to connect with each person I know in all the ways that I would want to.  I've had to realize that I cannot go nearly as wide as I might like, but it is more important that I go deep.  I think it's better to invest in a few relationships rather than trying to spread yourself among masses of people that you will just get to scratch the surface with.  Some friends will be with you for a season, and some will span over several seasons, but either way, remember that you only have so much relational energy to give.  Spend it wisely.

I know I've written about this on the blog before, but its been several years, and I feel like I am re-learning some of the same critical things.  Kiddos, please know that I am praying for the people that God will have you spend time with in the coming years.  I pray that there are encouragers and constants in the group that will help prop you up in the hard times.  I also pray that you will be sensitive about when people need you.  I hope you see the people that need friends and make that effort.  I hope that you lead with kindness and compassion, which probably means that I need to do a better job of modeling that.

Because I have been so blessed with friendships, I hope and pray that you will be as well - but just know that it takes work.  Like all good things in life.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I've had several misadventures lately, and I certainly capped them off today at 11:15 a.m.  There I was in work out clothes, talking on the phone with John and frantically unloading groceries so that I could rush to the church and get the kids from Mother's Day Out.  I headed back out to the garage and glanced up.  Silhouetted in the doorway was a person.

I jumped and shrieked a bit.  The light was behind the woman, and I didn't immediately recognize her as the babysitter that I had booked for exactly that time.  When I did come to my senses, I realized that I was supposed to have picked up the kiddos and been back to the house and be ready to head to a meeting that started in 15 minutes.

My heart was racing from the shock, and I came up with a new plan on the fly that included a quick change of clothing.  The sweet, apologetic babysitter and myself caravanned to Mother's Day Out where we picked up the children, and then I drove her car to the meeting, where I arrived 30 minutes late and breathless.

Good times.

Earlier this morning, I also had a parent/teacher conference at school.  I had made a bumbling mess of the schedule, so I brought cookies to Lily's teacher to apologize for being so high-maintenance and scatterbrained.  We got a great report on Lily, which was really encouraging!

(Some of these cookies are also for friends we are visiting this weekend!)

I also didn't realize until late into last week that it was "Grandparents/Special Friends" week at L's school.  Thankfully, when I did figure it out, Aunt Rachel was able to head up and eat lunch with L!


Other recent adventures include a Hogs watch party featuring a new food truck in town.  Check out Excaliburger when you get a chance!  We met up with friends and had a great time.  Except for the loss.


Last week I had the distinct pleasure and honor of tagging along when my friend's husband came home from a four month deployment.  I took pictures of the whole event, which was such a privilege.  I am pretty sure that I could go to homecomings once a week just to bask in all the pleasant emotions.  I was in tears much of the time seeing people reunite with those they love.


Twice this weekend, I went to Bella Rustina, a giant flea market/antique/vintage sale held right near our restaurant.  It was so much fun, and I walked away with a few new finds that I can't wait to find homes for.

(None of this is stuff I bought, though my friend came home with the deer head.  If you ever need a creepy old doll head - I know the place!)

Violet is the most endearing, sweetest, busiest toddler that I have had the privilege of raising.  She is busy.  I accidentally left a box of donuts in the car, which she can't have because of the allergens.  But, she knows and loves what is in that box.  In the short time that I was using the bathroom inside the house, she had gotten all six donuts out and spread them around the car.  Delightful.


She also wants to wear floaties continually and tries to dress herself.  Bless it.


And, she wants to ride piggy-back style whenever we go anywhere.  Because that is not high maintenance when I'm carrying lots of stuff.  However, it is pretty sweet when she pats my arms and kisses my head.


One major highlight of this week was a Grilled Cheese Bar that my friends hosted for our small group.  It was amazeballs.


While L was out of school on Monday on the day I neglected to do my parent/teacher conference, we did get pumpkins and have been transforming our home for fall fun.  The girls are particularly interested in this whole process and LOVED getting pumpkins.


I'm thankful for the adventures and misadventures alike.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


A couple of weeks ago, I went to the women's Fall Gathering at our church.  It was a great night of worship and good teaching out of the book of Revelation.  That night and a few other things have had me thinking about what it would look like to be living in the "end times."

(amazing chalk art for the event by my dear, talented friend Lindsay!)

I have realized a couple of things.  First off - its easy for me to glibly say that I am ready for Jesus to come back.  That certainly seems like an easy answer to things, because the reality is that life on earth is hard.  It is full of suffering and injustice and pain at every turn.  I know that Jesus promises to put things right and redeem all that is broken, and I do long for that day.  The day when there will be no more tears or sorrow or death.  Oh, glory hallelujah - what a day that will be!

But when I dig a little deeper, I find a couple of unpleasant surprises.  I'm not sure if you've read or studied the book of Revelation, but there are some pretty awful things described therein.  To be honest, I get fearful about the idea of living on Earth while those prophecies are fulfilled, and the idea of walking through some of those circumstances with children is downright terrifying.  It ends well, but the build up to the end is pretty intense and also hard to figure out.  So many different things could happen.

The other unpleasant surprise is that I find myself wanting to cling to my little life.  I want to throw the parties for my kids that I am currently planning and see them grow up and get to experience all that life has and travel more and have fun, because for as bad as life can be at times, there are plenty of joys, and it is all I really know.  I'm more firmly entrenched in my earthly pursuits that I would have wanted to admit to myself before I really started thinking.  Status quo seems easier than really and truly looking forward to Jesus coming back for us.

But I believe that Jesus will be coming for us, whether it be sometime this month or sometime this millennia.  He's allowing more time for people to come to him, and that is all for his glory and our good.  It's been a good reminder to make sure I am fixing my eyes on him instead of on things that will pass away.  I always seem to need that reminder.  Even so, Come Lord Jesus.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Sometimes life feels scrambled up in ways that are hard to distinguish.  The good and the bad are intermixed so intensely, and my feelings feel all the feelings.  It looks a little like this.


This was Wednesday afternoon - though the light was green - I had not yet moved while taking this photo.  It was pouring down rain at that very moment, large, clanging drops that drowned out some of the crying in my car.  My wipers were on, so the picture does miss out on some of the waterworks present.  The sun was also shining so very brightly, as if there were no clouds in the sky to block it.

I've seen sunshine and rain together before, but never so clearly.  This week has felt the same way.  There have been startlingly good events and moments of sunshine, but it has also been raining pretty hard.  Many of life's harsh realities seem to be banged against us this week.  Because our stories are closely interwoven with others, I'm not free to share what all has been going on.  But it is stretching us.

We are being forced to look outside of ourselves and stare into injustice and poverty and mental illness and dishonesty.  And then we have to look inside of ourselves and see judgement and pain and frustration and selfishness.  Unpleasantness all the way around.  I need more of Jesus and his grace and love.  All the time.

And as we are walking through life, I'm still learning to take the good and bad together.  To understand that you cannot have sunshine without shadows.  To look ahead to life beyond this life when there will be no more tears or sadness.  You can find me looking for rainbows and new mercies and nap time for all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


It takes a lot to step out of my life right now.  The tickets for Camp Create went on sale back on Memorial Day at noon.  I had actually forgotten until I saw it on Instagram about 10 minutes before 12, and I called John to ask if I could try for a ticket.  Without hesitation, he said - "Yes.  You should try to go.  We will make it work."  What a wonderful husband I have.  And make it work, we did - but it took a lot of work from those around me, and I do not take that for granted.

When the cat's away, the mice will play, and my little mice all had a ball while I was at Camp Create last week.  Because Lily attends school, she stayed in Little Rock with John.  They had sweet time together and did all kinds of fun things that are easy to do when there is just one child in the mix.  You know, like visit a water tower up close.


She made me precious cards to come home to.


I drove the three youngest children up to Wichita to spend the time with Mom and Wes, which was incredibly gracious of them.  Thankfully, it seems as if everyone had a mostly great time!  They got to play with uncles, aunts and cousins too, so the time was extra fun.


They did trips to the zoo and park and read books and generally had a great time.  My drive to Wichita was pretty good, all things considered.  My drive home was one of the worst drives I've ever had.  There was a lot of screaming.  Then, the smell of poop started to fill the car, which is pretty normal, since there are two children in diapers in our family.  However, the smell became worse as the miles wore on, which I did think was weird.  When I finally looked back, Violet held up her hands and said, "Poop."  She had been fishing poop out of her diaper and smearing it all over herself and her carseat.  At that point, I was probably about 250 miles from home.

So gross.  I began handing her wipes, and she worked on "cleaning" herself for the next while.  When we stopped, I did do a full wipe down of her and everything she touched and an outfit change, all of which was tricky with a William and a Bella wandering around the car and parking lot near us while I worked.  It was not a highlight.  Then, when I filled up with gas, I managed to douse my feet in gasoline, which I have never done in my life.  Our car was truly a rank place to be.

Thankfully, because I was still basking in my Camp Create glow, I handled this much better than I normally would.  I did not cuss at all, and honestly, I was actually able to see the humor in it all in the moment.  Usually it takes time and distance, but I immediately knew that the sheer horror of the situation was laughable.  Thanks, God and Camp Create.

Re-entry has been a bit of a bear, and I have needed every bit of that Camp Create glow this week.  But, I am so thankful for the time I had away last week.  The re-charge was such a blessing, and the contrast between it and my daily life was pretty astounding.  I'm so thankful to my support team of husband and parents who graciously made it possible for me to experience a retreat from reality.  XOXO