"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wrapping up GreaThings

So! Obviously I did not quite succeed at posting every day during the GreaThings challenge leading up to Thanksgiving this month. I kind of expected that I would not be able to write every day, so I'm not disappointed -- I actually really loved being part of that, and am so glad I did it. It was wonderful to take a focused look back at some of what this year contained for me and for my family. And I was able to get a lot of pictures and memories onto my blog that otherwise would have been left behind completely, so I consider it a great success for that reason as well. :)

This post is just to officially wrap it up and acknowledge that despite a few wild ambitions I may have had, I am definitely not going to be able to catch up with the rest of the list of writing prompts, and I am finished. ;) Thanks for hanging out with me for GreaThings 2012!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

T is for travel!

T (blessings that start with this letter)


It has come up already a few times in my GreaThings posts, but I have so enjoyed getting to do a fair bit of traveling this year. Lamont and I both are passionate about visiting new places and learning about parts of the country (and hopefully someday the world!) other than where we live. It is refreshing and inspiring to us to be reminded that the world is much bigger than our tiny corner of it! And since it is difficult to travel while we have little ones, whether they come with us or stay home with family, I am especially grateful for the opportunities we had this year.

In March I got to go with Lamont on a company trip to Vegas -- he attended his conference by day while I relaxed by the beautiful pools, and in the evenings we went to the WCC basketball championship game, The Phantom of the Opera, and a Maroon 5 concert! It was surreal. The whole trip came together at the last second, with less than a week notice, and I couldn't believe it when my parents agreed to keep the girls for four days so that I could go with Lamont. I'm pretty sure the girls think they had more fun during that four days than we did. :-)

The Bellagio - gorgeous even though I didn't catch the fountain show!
On my way back I had nearly half a day's layover in San Francisco -- it was my first time there, and a beautiful day to show me the very best views.
The San Francisco shoreline, looking like a movie setting. :-)

In May we went to Chicago for eight days, for a wonderful visit with Lamont's sister and her family. It was the girls' first flight, and though I thought they didn't do this anymore, when we were leaving the plane, the pilot invited them into the cockpit!
They asked him SO many questions about all the controls, and he was fabulously patient explaining everything to them.
Our time in Chicago would fill a blog post by itself -- our adorable nephews there are 3 and 6 years old, and the girls have a blast with them. It was a week full of constant chatter (especially when they were supposedly eating), and crazy schemes (teaching pet bugs to do tricks, for instance), and it was over far too quickly. We spent most of one day at Lake Michigan, which I absolutely loved.
It wasn't as cold as it looks! And yes, Hannah was attempting to move the entire lake one shovelful at a time. Why do you ask?
At the end of July we snuck in a quick weekend at the Oregon Coast, and had gorgeous sunshine and 80 degree days the whole weekend! And yes, it does slightly defeat the purpose of broadening our horizons when we repeatedly visit the Oregon Coast every year that we possibly can, but...it's our happy place. :-)
See? Happy!
And sometime this summer (I truly cannot remember what month it was, which is a sure sign that I should be fast asleep right now), I got to sneak away to Yakima by myself for a weekend with my friend Sarah and her  family. Her daughter is exactly Bethany's age -- they share a birthday. We were in labor at the same time, but in different hospitals, both frequently demanding updates from family members on each other's progress! And I'm not going to say I won or anything, but...well, I did beat her by a few hours. ;-) Somehow I have no pictures of the weekend, but it was lovely and filled with coffee, and movies, and cuddles with her sweet children, and ice cream, and browsing bookstores, and late night conversations.

This year has truly been rich with travels, and I love all the experiences I've had and the memories made in each of the beautiful places I've gotten to see!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More than words...

Lyrics that have meant something special this year.


I hear You calling out my name
As only You can do
Your voice it covers all my shame
The old You turn to new
No matter how things look to me
You see a destiny, a perfect promise

You call me beautiful
You call me righteous
You call me worthy of Your son's own precious blood
You call me holy
You call me strong at my weakest
Forgiven and pure, You call me Yours

It's hard for me to understand
Exactly what You see
I slip and stumble every day
And still You say, "Believe."
You say You will finish what You start
You see me for my heart, and not the bruises

You call me beautiful
You call me righteous
You call me worthy of Your son's own precious blood
You call me holy
You call me strong at my weakest
Forgiven and pure, You call me Yours.

~"You call me Yours", Prelude

"There can be miracles, when you believe!"

Answered prayers and miracles.


It's been a year full of everyday miracles.

~That oh-so-familiar and yet still brand new sensation of our newest baby dancing inside me for the first time. Little butterfly movements that stole my heart.

~The wonder on the faces of our girls as they eagerly pressed their faces to the airplane windows on their very first flight. The sparkling eyes as we climbed above the clouds.

~A little hand slipping confidingly into mine, or a small person climbing without hesitation into my lap because they know they belong there.

~The vicarious secure feeling that floods over me upon seeing my tiny baby curled up fast asleep on her daddy's chest.

~Crescendos of giggles from little girls' whispered conversations.

~Flour covered noses and radiant faces in the midst of a baking session.

~Meeting the eyes of my love above all the happy chaos, in a moment of recognizing together the beauty of the life we share.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

E is for energy...

E (blessings that start with this letter)


I am so incredibly grateful for the energy God has given me throughout this year! 

That seems so funny to say right now, while I am sipping decaf coffee with the "decaf" label turned away from me in an attempt to trick my mind into thinking it's the real deal, because I am SO TIRED. It seems strange to rejoice over having had so much energy this year, when I spent so many countless hours lying sick and exhausted on the couch during my pregnancy with Katelyn, and when the girls have gotten up before me in the morning at least 85% of this year. It seems odd to claim that I've been energized, when I've had to set my own schooling aside for the last 11 months because I just didn't have enough energy to go around. Yes, I have been tired this year and very drained, physically and emotionally.

But I have had enough energy. 

Somehow despite all the exhaustion (because that's another "E" word that can definitely apply to 2012!), there has also always been enough energy not just to survive, but to really love life with my family this year. And that feels like such a precious gift. We spent the beginning of the year playing in the snow for hours on end, and curling up together in the evenings to play games or watch movies or read together. And I got to play a couple of small roles in a fun production of The Chalk Garden, and somehow managed to suck in my far-too-quickly-expanding baby belly until the very last show to fit into my costumes! 
They basically thought it would be a good idea if we could just build an igloo and live outside all winter, so they'd never have to leave the snow.

*love* (I don't have a lot of pictures of myself with the girls -- thank you to my friend Kayley for snapping this one when I wasn't looking!)

Master Uno strategists!

The spring and summer was filled with so much traveling, including my first trip to Vegas when I accompanied Lamont on a business trip and caught the Zags (both men and women) playing in championship games of the WCC conference! (It's basketball, people. You don't have to think it's exciting, but I do!) Lamont had to travel a lot for work over the summer, so the girls and I came up with a lot of adventures to keep us busy while he was gone. And then there was my brother-in-law's wedding, and all five of us were in the wedding party. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it was slightly insane. ;-) The "quiet", every day times of the summer were spent almost entirely outside -- at the park, the lake, up at my parents' acreage, or out on biking/running trails as a family. I got the best tan of my life so far this year!
Hot summer day at the zoo + ice cream = pretty much perfection.

Pretty flower girls playing on my phone to help them stay still before the wedding!

Oh yes, and this. T-ball provided us with a lot of beautiful summer evenings, plus some of the biggest smiles around!

In the fall, of course, Katelyn arrived, and all the fun flurry of family and friends visiting that a newborn creates. And we started homeschooling in earnest, with the girls in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. Lamont started teaching four days a week at Gonzaga again, and basically life continues to be unbelievably busy.


And through all of this beautiful craziness, I have been aware of an equally beautiful energy that is more than I am, that has enabled me to truly enjoy this giggle soaked season of life with my family. I thank God for always giving me enough -- sometimes no more than just enough, but always enough!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Love lifts us up where we belong

Scriptures that have been a special blessing this year.


"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mystery and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." I Corinthians 13:1-3

This is what this year has been about for me, learning that none of these things that make me "look like a Christian" are worth even the breath of a moment -- not without love. I have so much to learn about loving like Jesus does, and these verses make it sound like learning to love like Jesus does is pretty much the most important thing I could be doing. So I've been clinging to the next five verses as well, to remind myself over and over what that is supposed to look like....

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

There is really nothing I can add to that. You see why it has been consuming my whole year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

R is for romance

Today's prompt: R (blessings that start with this letter)

Kind of an unusual letter, R. Hardly one of the top five you guess while playing Hangman!


Romance. Next month Lamont and I will have been married for seven years. In that time we've had four beautiful children together. We've lived in five different places, nowhere for more than two years. Lamont has spent months working two hours away from the girls and I, at two different points in our marriage. I've had three major surgeries, and Lamont...well, he broke his nose playing basketball, so we'll count that. ;-) We've dealt with severe family crises as well as deaths in both our extended families.  We've spent significant portions of those seven years very, very sleep deprived! There have been endless joys, but also quite a lot of challenging experiences for the two of us so far.

And somehow...somehow this incredible man I married keeps making me fall in love with him over and over again. This year, through a physically demanding pregnancy, a relentlessly busy schedule, and once again living in a new place and this time just not feeling like we belong here at all -- through it all, my husband has faithfully reminded me of God's promises and purposes for us. And he doesn't just tell me, he shows me daily how to love selflessly, to seek God's guidance, and to remain humble as he focuses on those around him. And he keeps me laughing! (A very misguided man once told me, while Lamont and I were engaged, that after we were married I would no longer find his jokes funny. How very wrong you were, sir!)

Lamont is, in every possible way, my best friend. He knows my heart. And he pursues my heart, in big ways and little ways, every single day. This year has been the most beautiful year of our marriage so far, and that thrills me. I am so blessed to be building this life together with the man who knows exactly what I want from Starbucks based on my mood, and still shows up to surprise me with the perfect drink at the perfect moment...who washes dishes and reads to little girls and folds laundry and changes the oil in my car, all with a smile...who somehow finds a way to hold my hand frequently despite all the little people constantly around us...who sends me to bed while he stays up with the baby...who loves me exactly as I am, while inspiring me to become more. This is romance.

"It's two hearts and one dream...I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Memories and moments...

Today's prompt: "Memories and moments you're thankful for this year."

And I don't have a clue where to start, because I think this could easily become the longest blog post I've ever written, but I don't have time to just write forever about the countless beautiful moments I have gotten to treasure this past year. So I'll pick just a few, the first ones that come to mind as I begin to write, and let the rest of them continue to scroll through the memory of my heart as I fall asleep tonight, even if they don't all make it to the computer screen.


Miss Katelyn Joy.... We learned I was pregnant right around New Year's, so we spent most of this year looking forward to and praying for her safe arrival. I was so, so nervous at the beginning of this pregnancy, after miscarrying last fall. And just when I thought we'd reached the "safe zone", at 13 weeks we had a scare with Katelyn, and I spent most of a day in the hospital thinking I was losing her. When I remember how broken I felt that day, I am overwhelmed by the incredible gift that this precious (and perfectly healthy!) baby girl is to our family. I labored overnight with her -- first time I've experienced all night labor and the profound exhaustion it brings. Never in my life have I felt so entirely drained, so at the absolute end of myself, and so completely surrendered to radiant joy as I did at the moment that Katelyn was born. It felt like my heart just shattered into intense relief and gratitude as she was tucked up onto my chest, and then she tilted her tiny head up and stared solemnly straight into my eyes, and all the shattered pieces came together again into the most complete feeling I have ever known.


So many happy memories from this year were at the water! We got to enjoy Lake Michigan in May, the Oregon coast in July, and Lake Coeur d'Alene all summer long. Plus overnight stays at two different indoor water parks (um, spoiled much??), and four weeks of swim lessons at the pool in the park just a few minutes from us. It was so much fun watching the girls build confidence in the water, and just delighting in the waves and the sand together. One time at the ocean in July I was resting on the sand and watching Lamont and the girls join hands to run into the water together as one long, laughing chain. The sun was hot and the waves were crashing so that they were all I could hear, and I sat there, suspended in that perfect moment in time, and fell completely in love with it.


About three weeks ago, the girls cleared their breakfast dishes and rushed to get their handwriting books, to begin school for the day. As I rinsed their bowls and listened to their excited chatter about what they were practicing writing that day (and more importantly, what stickers they planned to choose from the sticker box for their pages once they completed them!), it suddenly just hit me: I am homeschooling my children. No longer just We're going to homeschool, or even, I'm teaching them and I reallyreallyreallyreally hope it works out ok, but, I actually am homeschooling them for real and they're learning and they love it and I love it and this is really amazingly cool! It was a moment of confidence and joy, and it left me so very grateful to have the opportunity to experience this with my children! I have a feeling I'm going to remember that day from now on as "the day I really became a homeschooling mom". ;)


There are so many more lovely memories from this last year, and I'm loving writing them out and don't want to stop! But it's nearly 11 pm, and I'm about to fall asleep at my keyboard, so I'll raise my white flag for tonight. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebrating Great Things!

I am so excited this year to take part in GreaThings for the first time! Last year around mid-November I became vaguely aware that several of my friends seemed to be participating in some form of organized gratitude blogging. I read and enjoyed a couple of their posts, and had brief thoughts of pursuing it further to discover what exactly they were doing and how I could join in. But since "vaguely aware" and "brief thoughts" do not sound very indicative of decisive action, you probably won't be surprised to hear that it came to nothing more than that for me last year.

This year I was so delighted to discover that GreaThings is hosted by my lovely blogging friend Chantel, on her blog, Beautiful Song, and so the info to get involved was actually super easy for me to find. A quote from her intro post this year: "For the two weeks preceding American Thanksgiving day, a small group of friends join together to take a look over the year that has just passed and thank God for some of the blessings -- the "great things" -- that He has done and is doing in each one of our lives. It is a perfect opportunity to put life into the perspective of gratitude, and to identify our blessings...even the ones that looked like raindrops."

So basically, starting tomorrow we're aiming for a daily post focusing on thankfulness. There's an optional schedule of post topics provided, for anyone who needs a little help with inspiration (or sleep deprived moms who are struggling to put two sentences together these days and still remember what they're talking about by the end of the second sentence...oh, that's just me?), so I may start out with that and see if I come up with ideas of my own as I go. Oh, and there's this whole idea of a landing page and link-ups, which still overwhelms me a little bit even though I've been pretending to have a very basic level of tech-savvy in the blogging world for quite a while now. I'm just going to act like I know exactly what I'm doing!

I'm so excited to take the next two weeks to be really deliberate about remembering how God has worked in my life over the last year -- the endless blessings and joys, the hard times in which He never left me alone, and the beautiful love that surrounds me every moment of every day, sometimes filling my heart too much for words. I need this! And I so look forward to seeing where this journey takes everyone else who is going to celebrate Great Things this month!

My GreaThings 2012
Day 1: Memories and moments....
Day 2: R is for romance
Day 3: Special Scriptures
Day 4: E is for energy
Day 5: There can be miracles when you believe!
Day 6: More than words...
Day 7: T is for travel