Dear Ellie

Oh my girl, I’m sitting here on the couch, watching tv and you’re fast asleep upstairs in your bed.   This is a pretty common scenario in our house in the evenings, but the difference is that tomorrow kind of changes everything.

You start school tomorrow kiddo, and well, it’s kind of turning this momma heart a bit upside down tonight.  

Partly because you’re STILL THREE.  And will be for a while (yes, your Christmas Eve birthday does make this a reality).  And it’s kind of hard for me to picture my 3.75 year old heading out of the house all day every day to hang out with 25 other people than me. 

And partly because I don’t think a momma’s heart is ever supposed to be truly ready to let their kids’ world expand beyond our reach.  Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s healthy, and normal, and part of me is so excited to see you learn new things, meet new people and face new struggles that will form and shape your character, but that doesn’t make it easy.  Starting tomorrow you will have regular experiences that we don’t share, and I will have to wait for you to come home, and sit on my lap and express in your best, articulate 3 year old way to tell me the stories of your day.  The stories that you choose to share with me.  

Ellie, know that I am so excited for you.  I love who you continue to grow into, and can’t wait for others to get to know you.
And if I’m being honest, I’m a little bit nervous.  You are gentle, and have a sensitive spirit and you won’t be the loudest voice in the room (at least, not at first), and I hope others appreciate those qualities in you.  

And Ellie, it’s hard to share in words with someone who is 3 all the things I hope you know.  And so I’ll write some of those things here, and when you read this letter, probably many years from now, I pray that you will have come to learn and know these things deeply.

  • You are beautiful.  Truly you are.  You have an outward beauty that stuns me, but more importantly, you have an inner beauty and you SHINE.  You are gentle, and wise. You love fiercely.  You laugh loudly and often, and get joy out of making others smile.  Never doubt the truth that you have a beautiful character.
  • God is closer to you than you’ll ever know.  Ellie – our goal is to pray with you every day before we send you into your class, and I pray so often that you can just know and sense how real God is and how close He is.  You will have days where you are scared, and sad, and hurt and lonely.  But know that even though mom and dad can’t hang out with you at school, Jesus sure is.  
  • Be brave.  Sometimes you are timid as you scope things out.  This is ok.  But my favourite moments are when you choose to do something you’ve never done before, and the big smile that creeps across your face when you realize how awesome it was. Do more of those things. We will celebrate your courage and the failures that your courage may bring.
  • We have got your back.  For reals. Your dad and I are always always always in your corner.  And I can already tell that you won’t be our kid that spills every detail of your day to us, but know that when we ask, it’s because we just want to find more things to cheer about, or coach you on, or pray about as we stand in your corner.  There is absolutely no mistake, or embarrassment or experience that you have that will ever change that fact.  
  • You are a child of God.  That’s the most important.  You will become more and more things as you get older, and spend more time at school.  A friend, a classmate, an athlete/actor/artist/etc, and more and more people will try to tell you what to be.  Be lots of things, but know that first and foremost, you are God’s child, and kiddo -the freedom that can come from knowing this truth is ASTOUNDING.  

Ok Ellie – I should wrap this up, because tomorrow will be a shock to all of our “we-like-to-sleep-in” systems, but my girl I am so dang proud to call you my daughter and will hold your hand a little tighter as we walk to school tomorrow.






Annnnnd It’s August

How are we already half way through August?  I could ask where has all the time gone, but I already know how to answer that:  

It’s gone into keeping 2 kids alive by myself for the past 2 weeks.

 We returned home from camp on August 1st, (and had such a great time away together – a hard, busy month, but SO good), as I had to be back at work, and so for the past 2 weeks the kids and I have been solo-ing it.  Ben has to be up at camp until the end of the summer, and so we knew we would have this month apart.  It’s safe to say that we are surviving and actually, while the thought of a month of working full time and single parenting seemed so daunting, we have been doing really well. 

I’m so appreciative of my kids and how happy and flexible they have been at being carted around, spending nights at grandparents and being away from their dad. We have had some great laughs together, and lots of fun doing things just the three of us, and while we miss Ben a lot, it really has been a special month so far.

But am I still counting down the days until we’re all back together again?  You’d better believe it.  

Now that we’re home, hopefully this blog will have a little more life in it in the days to come.  But until then, enjoy this picture of Zeke, who is eating his frozen yogurt like it’s his job. (Because, sometimes, after supper, on a hot day, you just have to go get frozen yogurt where you choose all your own toppings.)


Hashtag Camp Life

Well hello faithful blog readers.  By now you’ll know that summer time means a serious plummet in the amount of posts you’ll see from me, and clearly this year is no exception.

The last month has been a whirlwind (as most of them are) – as Ben was in full-on camp preparation mode, and I still worked full time, and we were trying to get our family packed up for a month up at camp, and the weather was just begging us to be outside and playing at parks, and picking strawberries and playing ultimate frisbee and such.

And now, for the past 12 days we have been back up at camp, together as a family, while Ben directs the L.I.T program  It has been great to be back up here, and even though the last time we were up here was November for a weekend retreat, it really felt so familiar moving back up into our rooms and getting settled.

Last year I posted these observations from camp, and I figured that was a better way to catch you all up to speed on life here at camp.  Funny enough, some of the observations are still the same this time around – mostly the ones to do with mosquitos. So….without further ado: 

  • I still am a mosquito ninja.  I know it’s because they aren’t terribly fast, but I seriously feel like such a ninja warrior when I snipe them out of the air before they can attack.
  • Despite this – the kids and I kind of look like we have the measles based on the amount of bites we all have.  Last year, our first day here Ellie got a wicked bite on her eye (pictured here:)

and the first day of this year, she ALSO got a bite on her eye.  It didn’t swell up nearly as much, but still looked like she’d been punched in the face.  Zeke woke up one morning with a string of bites right along his forehead. (like 10) Clearly I didn’t get all of the mosquitos out of their room.

  • It has only taken me 12 days to get used to having dessert after every supper meal.  
  • It has only taken me 12 days to realize that my attempts at getting fit and trim because of all the walking and outdoor activity I am doing maybe aren’t going to happen.
  • The kids seriously think sharing a room is the best thing since sliced bread.  (Well, I don’t actually think they care at all about sliced bread, but until someone comes up with a more relevant cliche, sliced bread it is).  We now have a good system, where Zeke goes to bed first and gets 20 minutes to fall asleep in the pitch dark, before we put Ellie in with a nightlight on.  If he happens to still be awake, all bets are off and they PARTAY like it’s 1999.  (Again, they have absolutely no concept of what a party was like during that year, but just work with me people)  
  • The first night, Zeke started to attempt to climb out of his playpen, and we learned that when Ellie’s gales of delight were “he’s riding his horse again!!”, that meant he was straddling his playpen, one leg out, the other one still in.  
  • It took him a full week to have the guts to swing that other leg over, and one night, after a resounding “thud”, I heard amidst giggles “He’s out momma! He’s out!!”.  Oh sweet Lord in Heaven above, all bets are now off.  (thankfully, this has so far only been a one time attempt)
  • I am so thankful for Grasshoppers – which is the program that looks after Ellie and Zeke for whatever hours of the day I need them to.  They do games, hear stories, make crafts, go swimming, go boating, eat lunch and snacks, and then, bless their souls – the teen helpers who are providing one-on-one care for my kids walk them back to our rooms, help me get them down for naps, and then show up after to play with them again until dinner.  This has freed me up so much to be able to serve with the LIT program, and just be able to engage in ways that aren’t possible with little kids.  Plus, a teenager who loves little kids is WAY more fun than a mom who gets bored of building sandcastles after 10 minutes.  
  • I still love that I am responsible for zero of the cooking that is feeding our family.  While yes, the dining hall is a crazy place where teenagers are loud and it’s crammed, I still only had to scoop the food onto my kids plate, and that, my friends is a treat.
  • I have come to accept that because of the loudness of said dining hall, my kids will eat far less food than they normally would.  Like, today, for example – lunch was BLT’s, and Ellie ate a piece of bread with mayonnaise spread on it.  Supper was hamburgers, and Ellie ate a piece of bun with mayonnaise spread on it. I am too busy trying to get Zeke to eat, and eat my own food, and talk over the rising din of conversation to worry too much, but today may have been a new low for nutrition for my daughter.   Thankfully though, there is dessert after every supper, so I can at LEAST be assured that my kids magically regain their appetite and focus when the brownies/cookies/pie/fruit comes out.  Perhaps this blog should be titled Hashtag The Summer My Kids Got Scurvey.
  • I have gained a new appreciation for our bathtub – every time I have to cram Zeke into the kitchen sink, or help Ellie in the shower as she cries to not get water in her eyes.  This challenge is directly correlated to the lack of cleansing that is happening this month.  Once a week is an appropriate amount of time to go before scrubbing the layer of sand off your kids right?

So there you have it – some of the early observations of camp 2015.  We are here for the remainder of the month, after which I will head home for August with the kids to go back to work. (They were so gracious to give me a month-long unpaid leave to allow us to be together as a family this summer)

And since no blog post would be complete without a few shameless pics of our kids:

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2 weeks ago we celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. This is absolutely the latest that I’ve waited to write one of our anniversary posts (if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you’ll know that I write one each year: 8765….the other years are linked in those posts)  and well, that is apparently par for the course this year when it comes to me blogging. 

When I sit and reflect on nine years and the words that I want to spill onto this page, I find myself sitting on the fence between wanting to reminisce and remember all that our wedding day was, and wanting to recap what our ninth year actually held.

But both are important, I think. As I say every single year, there was something so sacred, so holy about our wedding day, and part of celebrating our anniversaries is celebrating when and how it started.


There’s something about being at “9”, that is starting to make me feel a little old(er). I kind of feel like the previous years still had us in the “newbie” phase, trying to attain one more notch on the anniversary belt but the reality is that we are now almost a decade away from the day when I walked down the aisle to All Creatures of our God and King, and we washed each others feet.


A lot of life has happened in these past nine years and while we knew we had all of our married days still ahead of us when we signed the papers and danced back up the aisle, we couldn’t predict what they would all hold.

But even without that knowledge, what happened on that wedding day laid the foundation for each one of our days together, and this year was no exception. The adventure of life together continued to ask of us to love beyond our own selfishness, to laugh with (and at) each other, to team up and work alongside one another, and to submit and trust each of these past 365 days to God.

And so I hope that even when I am remembering and reflecting year 49, on the brink of half a century, I will remember our wedding day and how it is because we made vows that were deep, meaningful and held promises, that we could make it to year 49 in the first place.

And so to you, Benjy,
Oh man, wasn’t this past year great? We have felt for a while like we were on the verge of change in our lives and year 9 of married life saw those changes come to fruition. We both changed jobs – and with these changes have come some great new adventures. (Bunk beds for 10 weeks at camp isn’t really at the top of that list, but still, an adventure nonetheless)

The thing I want us to remember now that we are through the other side of what have felt like so many transitions is what it was like to be in that transition. It wasn’t always easy to sit in a state of unknowns, and I think we felt that uneasiness. We both felt like maybe we weren’t doing enough to bring about the change we felt needed to come, and yet, when we would pray, and listen, we would both hear the same thing. Wait. And even when trusted mentors around us gave advice on how to seek out new things, we sensed that for this particular season, we were to wait.

And so we did. And another year of marriage passed in the waiting, and life happened, and the kids grew, and we fought and we laughed, and we took vacations, and we cried, and we watched tv series after tv series on Netflix, and we budgeted, and we begrudgingly did the unending list of chores, and we soaked in the little moments of watching our kids learn new things, and we prayed. And. And. And.

So much happens in a year, and that is true of every year, but there is something about this year nine that saw more of it for us. Benjy, remember when we were engaged and we were also sitting with unknowns about our future and we committed to praying together each night that God would lead our paths and allow us to end up in ministry together one day? Of course you remember, because we still, these nine years later try and do that practice of praying at night. It’s less frequent, to be sure, but as we sit on the other side of new jobs, and knowing what this next season of life may look like, I am amazed and humbled that God has absolutely answered that prayer.

He had led us so clearly, even when it seemed unclear, and there are more and more moments in our roles as parents and as ministry leaders that see us serving together.

And so while I’m guessing that we are somewhat “settled” for the next little bit (or maybe not – who knows what curveballs are coming!), I want you to know that doing year nine of marriage with you was such a privilege. Through the waiting, and the uncertainty, and the peace we felt in that midst, and the ordinary life that happened all the while, it was a privilege to be your wife. (Even on those days when it was hard to see it as a privilege, and we argued, or were selfish, or just plain grumpy – deep down, I knew it was a privilege)


I am so dang excited for all this year holds, and know that the more we turn to the One who united us together in the first place, the more adventure we will find.

I love you,



Yesterday was our nine year anniversary.  I have our Nine Year Blog Post brewing in my head, but until that translates to words on a page, I thought I’d at least post the picture of us celebrating last night.  

We had a wonderful night out with incredible food, and meaningful conversation that wasn’t about either of our jobs, or either of our kids. (too much) I love conversations that have us reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the future. 

And I am so blessed to be able to do that with this guy.


Apparently There’s Something In My Eye

If you’re at all like me, you find yourself, from time to time scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, and coming across link after link.  Where we MAY differ, is that I have an un-official rule that I typically don’t click any link unless at least 5-10 people have shared it.  Basically, I want other people to waste their time on funny, informative, sentimental videos, which will indicate to me that it’s worth MY time.    

All that to say – this particular video has popped up on my newsfeed enough times that I figured I would give it a watch, and well – mercy me – I wasn’t expecting to TEAR UP over the darn thing.  (Although, let’s be real – it’s not like it’s out of character for me to “get something in my eye” over the little things)

There is something so endearing about this couple and the way they react and interact with each other.  And from 2:35-2:45 the guy just kind of sums up why a project like this can be so moving.  

If anything, it has served as a little reminder that while I probably won’t have the luxury of getting a sneak peek at Ben and I in our 90’s, I can still invest so much into today and the days that follow, to shape and create those stories and memories that we’ll have when we’re old and grey.  And to know that I don’t have to look elderly to tell him often those things that I would want him to know.

Take a look – and if you find your eyes getting misty-  it’s ok – it really IS dusty this time of year.  

Mother’s Day

I know that Mother’s day was a few days ago and I should have waxed poetic by now about how incredible my kids are and how sentimental I feel in how they have made me a mom.

And the irony of it all, is that because I’m the throes of motherhood, I didn’t exactly have a lot of time between then and now to put together said post.  And so it is these days.  These days that are so ordinary, sometimes exhausting, and yet so filled with the littlest pieces of wonder.



And while Mother’s Day itself didn’t seem that much different than all the other days, my goodness, all the other days are just as sacred for me as a mom.

  • The morning conversations we hear coming from Zeke’s room, as he is usually the first one awake – the noises that help us to wake up with a smile on our faces.  We usually have about 30 minutes from the time we first hear him to when his “HI DA” “HI MAMA”‘s become loud enough that we have to do something about it.
  • The way Ellie comes stumbling into our room shortly after, with her morning bed head extra curly from the humidity that is growing as the months get warmer, and helps herself to my side of the bed.
  • The mature conversations that Ellie will engage us in – everything from asking caring questions: “How did your run go tonight mom?”, to things of spiritual significance: “My memory verse tells me I need to be kind…but that is hard to do with Zeke”
  • The guttural laugh that comes from Zeke’s belly 100 times a day, mostly because he is doing something that he hopes will make us laugh too.
  • The way Zeke communicates – not so much with words, although he has a couple handfuls of those in his repertoire – but with his “enhs”, and “ahhs” and “yeahs”, and pointing and hugs.  Oh the hugs.  But also because he is adding almost daily to that growing list of words and I’ll never tire of having a front row seat to watching him figure out this part of his world. (“Bubbles”, being his latest conquest)
  • The family conversations we (try) to have each night after dinner.  We try to talk about something we think God is teaching us these days – and Ellie is quick to have answers – usually related to her memory verse from the month.  Zeke is quick to fold his hands, his sign that it’s time to pray – yet another way that he tells us that he too, wants to be a part of what God talks we are having.  And then we pray.  And while the kids squirm, and sometimes resist, and get silly, we still hope and know that the values of prayer and learning about God will only be taught if we model it – and so we do, even in the midst of giggles and cries.

And the complex beauty of motherhood (parenthood, really), is that these moments that sound so idyllic on paper screen are intertwined with just as many daily challenges.  

  • The tears – oh – the tears that exist when the house contains a three year old resident.  
  • The hours of 4 to 6pm – when I come home from work and almost daily reminisce about the days before kids when I wouldn’t have to walk in the door and instantly be “on” for dinner, entertainment, engagement and care.  (I could take a nap!  From 4-5 pm! In front of the tv!)  
  • The lessons that are so important to teach with consistency that sometimes you just want to let slide in an effort to avoid more tears.  “Yes, you DO have to share that with your brother.  Yes, you DO have to listen to what daddy just said.  You can not respond with hitting, even if you feel mad.”  
  • The chores that really are never ending, that you CAN choose to leave for the night, but then you just know it will make tomorrow feel that much more chaotic, and so you forfeit a night of irresponsible tv watching, or blogging, for the much more mundane world of kitchen cleaning.  Even though it will be dirty again immediately following breakfast.  
  • The seven times that our daughter will wander down the stairs after being put in bed for one trivial reason after another.  (and the patience that wears thinner, and thinner)

And I think as mothers we hope that the “good” list will outweigh the “bad”, leaving us feeling a little more accomplished in our roles, and a little less like who we are has been drained out onto the floor that day.  And on those days – it is easy to stop and lay there, and replay the scenes of what made you smile, made your heart well up, made your eyes tear up and made that laugh escape from your gut.  And when the day ends all wrapped up in a bow, with your 16 month old laying still on your chest, letting you sing him to sleep with lullabies, his chubby little hands gripped tightly around your neck, it is easy to wear the Mother badge with gratitude.

And there are days when the scales tip the other way, and we are left depleted.  We can lay there, and think about the things that made us speak harshly, or bring weary tears to our eyes, or made us take an extra 5 minutes in the bathroom just to escape in a teeny, tiny way.  But even on these days, there is a such a gift in motherhood.

And it is this reality in which I live as a mother.  All of it.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  But while I know it is hindsight that is 20/20, I also know that I don’t want to wait for these days to become my hindsight.  I don’t want to wait for these days to be so far in the past that I don’t remember the things that were difficult and only remember them with rose-coloured glasses.  And so as a mother, I choose to make these days sacred.  Even the days that contain more poop, tears and literal spilled milk than is desired.  Even the days that contain far less alone time/me time/tv time/ nap time than I would hope for.  They are planned and purposed days that are shaping my kids, and shaping me.

So, to you, mothers – on this day, two days after the day we were supposed to raise a glass to each other – may you see the sacred-ness that is right before your eyes.   Each and every day.