Hackers and memories

Hackers and memories

Welp, the hackers got to me. They deleted my Instagram account and left me feeling a little bit like I had been robbed. Not to be overly dramatic, of course. But there were 3000+ little tiles from those days of living overseas, to my girls dancing in their princess dresses. The memories themselves are still there, buried deep into my heart and mind, and I should have all of the pictures, it’s just that the memories aren’t nearly as accessible, organized, or easy to get to. Or sharable. And I didn’t give them permission to come delete everything.
How ironic that one night before the JH “jerk hackers” erased my account, my book club friends and I were talking about the addictions of social media and how we want differently for our sons and daughters. But how? How do we make it different when we ourselves can’t look away, stop checking in, feel the need to document, look for an audience to validate how cute our new living room rug is, how charming our kids are (note the cute braids we barked at them to hold still for, and polite manners, please), and someone to get behind our ‘fancy font’ political views?
I felt weird about the hackers, but then I felt at peace about it too. Maybe it’s the push I needed to unplug more? To look up more? Maybe I’ll blog more, even little posts like what a square on Instagram would say.
Friends volunteered to go and screenshot some memories I might miss, or want to see easier, since they could see my posts but I couldn’t. Isn’t that sweet. Take that, hacker jerks. Friends showed up for me. And you know what else? Memories will not stop. And it’s those 3000+ posts that led me to where I am today: in my cleaned-in-the-first-time-in-days kitchen, with a citrus and raspberry candle burning, and a glass of boxed wine from Sam’s.
Here’s to savoring the moment, the real moment. Take a picture if you want, but don’t forget to live it and log it in that filing cabinet way back in your mind, the one where the memories never leave.

A FEW of the many memories I have filed:
– Dreaming, playing, imagining as a child.
– The very, very first time I met Shawn. He was a shy boy in a pearl button shirt and work boots.
– Every single time I’ve traveled somewhere new.
– My parents holding hands. Even if things ended differently for them.
– All the mountains I’ve climbed; literally and figuratively.
– Friends who have done something thoughtful for me.
– Our wedding day. Our honeymoon.
– Driving up a mountain in Bolivia, really top heavy with luggage, and nothing but the edge of a cliff next to us.
– The long, long flight to Guinea (24 hours of travel), stopping off in Brussels, knowing we had no place to stay when we arrived in Guinea, and that we were moving there. I remember feeling homesick for friends, family, and familiarity and we hadn’t even arrived yet.
– I remember waking up in Africa, our first time there, with no return ticket, and feeling an indescribable sense of excitement and adventure. I heard every bird chirping on the other side of the barred window. We had arrived.
– I remember pool days as a kid.
– I remember malaria. I remember the hallucinations, the fear on Shawn’s face, the doctor at my bedside.
– I remember the faces of Conakry; I remember their hospitality.
– Poor, but in-love as a newlywed.
– Moving to Quebec in our car.
– Snow up to the roofline.
– Starting over in Senegal, homeless again.
– Comical (and embarrassing) language blunders as we spoke French and sounded like 3 yr olds at first.
– All the good food I’ve ever eaten.
– Every move. Every adjustment.
– The long wait for a baby.
– The pain of infertility.
– Holidays. The buildup to a holiday.
– The homesickness we felt living overseas during a holiday.
– Friendships. No matter the skin color, culture, background, religion, place of birth, language. If there was laughter and a listening ear, friendships could be born and built.
– Gatherings with families.
– Welcoming new nieces, nephews, brother and sisters-in-law.
– Every needle, appointment, medicine, and failed live embryo transfer.
– Every round of IUI and IVF, and all that went with it.
– Every time we went looking for God.
– Every time God showed up.
– Life’s milestones.
– The news that IVF #4 was successful. The world slowed and I heard nothing, not a sound on the city streets.
– The birth and first few dream-like weeks with our newborn daughter.
– The surprise of a lifetime: baby girl #2 was on her way.
– The birth and first few unforgettable weeks with our 2nd daughter.
– Having two under two.
– Every move, lots of starting over.
– I could go on and on with big and little things I have filed in my mind. Books I’ve read, people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, places I’ve visited, places I’ve lived, conversations at home on the couch, parties on the patio, childhood, raising my family, the heartbreaks, the forgivingness, the ugly and the fantastic, it’s all there. It’s called life.

In the meantime, I have a new Instagram account for if/when I want to share a picture or a memory as it plays out (jenn_deatley). I decided to start a new account because I don’t want the hackers to win. (Not that they care.) I want to move forward as I may, and as I will, putting a few moments on display, but mostly, I’ll be filing these moments and memories away in my mind. A safe, happy place I hope to return to.

Heart stickers on the wall

Heart stickers on the wall

Our house is peppered with little reminders to love. It seems so simple, like such a given, like it should be easy to love. There’s the husband I made a vow to love forever, but it still doesn’t always mean marriage is easy. There are the two precious daughters we prayed for, fought for, and waited forever for, and it’s still not always easy. Love is alive in our home, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not a feeling it’s a choice. And there are days when choice needs a push, it needs a boost to choose someone else over self.

Over our bed is a framed black and white quote that says, “Love builds a happy home”. It’s not things, it’s not grand experiences, or Christmas mornings to remember. It’s not cute throw pillows or the perfect casserole served warm right before the hangry kicks in. It’s love.

On my bathroom counter is a small, flat, oval rock the girls painted and there’s a sticker on it that says “love”. It’s right there where I go first in the mornings before I even have my contacts in, before I even have my brain activated to speak, be nice, or look people in the eye. But love says to be patient, not just when you’re up, dressed, fed, and caffeinated, but to live out the patience and kindness and choosing of another in action, not in how we feel. That little rock mocks me just a little bit when it’s early and the word love is blurred because I can’t see yet and the urgent demands for breakfast are upon me.

There’s a little blue heart sticker on the tile next to the bathtub. I don’t even know how it got there. Stickers (aka: kid currency) are everywhere and manage to appear and reappear all over our house. I see this little blue heart sticker right there on the tile next to the faucet every time I’m filling up that giant yellow plastic Dickey’s BBQ cup that I use to rinse their hair. That little blue heart whispers to me to be slow to anger when a tidal wave splashes violently over the side and onto the floor, and onto my jeans, and when the screams are obnoxiously loud and it’s past their bedtime and I’m exhausted. It’s then that I’m reminded that once again, love is a lot of things (it’s not holding onto wrongs, it’s being gentle, kind, thinks of others, etc.). It’s an active choice. So right there, bent over the bathtub rinsing their hair for the 5000th time, and getting splashed, at the end of a long day, I choose love.

There’s the $5 gold ring on my right hand with a red heart on it that I see sometimes and remember whose hand I get to hold here on earth. He’s the man who’s stood by me come what may, he’s the one who loves me no matter what and has cried with me and laughed with me in the dark and in the morning light. I want to show our girls what that kind of love is like and hope they know they’re so deeply loved and wanted in this home, even on the cranky days when we’re all a little too human and we forget to look for the heart reminders on the wall.

There’s the spontaneous heart shaped mac n’ cheese I spot on Noella’s thumb and snap a pic. There’s love in feeding bellies, souls, and hearts by serving our families and offering a kind word or a smile. We have the power to make love grow, even if it’s a bowl of from-the-box mac n’ cheese and half an apple for dinner.

Oddly enough, even when our house is peppered with hearts and reminders like these, choosing love is the hardest thing I do every day. It doesn’t come naturally no matter how much I actually do love someone. There’s a resistance in my veins and it’s called self. It’s called a sin nature. It’s called selfishness. We all have it. And with it comes a deep need for Jesus. We can’t last long in our own efforts no matter how great our spouse is, how cute the kids are, or how many heart stickers there are to remind us to love. We need a love greater than what we can muster up to get us through the day. Let’s love so big that it demonstrates to others what’s been done for us. <3

Disconnect and ride it out

Disconnect and ride it out

The thing about life is, sometimes it’s unbelievably glamorous. Your hair has body on top and there’s a clean floor under your feet, the babysitter arrives soon, and dinner reservations are made at your favorite place. There’s a golden sunset in the evening sky and your fern is looking healthy. Your daughters bring you flowers (an arrangement of colorful weeds) from the yard, and the bedtime routine is a breeze.
But often, if we’re honest, there’s an inner fight with self to be thankful and to be joyful and to not focus on the wasp invasion in the yard, the 109-degree high for the week, the disagreement with your husband, or the ongoing battle to eat well, live well, disconnect, raise good kids, love and serve those around you, volunteer, not say bad words, floss, break bad habits, and show up to our own life every day.

And then begs the question, while standing in-between such highs/ gratitude, and lows/this living in a sin-tainted world, the question of, “what to post?” Do we show the good, the good that truly rocks us to our core because God has been gracious to us and we are living a life we’ve prayed for, or do we post the hardship knowing life can also be devastating and rocky and you feel like a fake in a world of filtered, lovely posts all the time? The questions what to post and why bother have been growing around me, especially as I’ve been reading Here, Now (unearthing peace and presence in an overconnected world) by Kate Merrick.

The thing is, even if I post a true depiction of my day, life, coffee hour musings, who cares?! Like, literally, who even stops scrolling for a millisecond to let my picture, memory, post, matter to them. After all, aren’t they logging on to post their own reels, pictures, sob story or highlight? I’m not throwing away the passwords to these accounts just yet, and there’s an aspect to it all I really enjoy, but it definitely has me processing the value of the moment and how even unshared altogether, they’re precious. Or maybe they’re really hard. Maybe they’re unforgettable in the best kind of way. Or maybe they’re the behind-the-scenes hard moments (not exactly TikTok worthy) that grow you as a person, mother, friend, wife. Maybe they’re the beautiful kind of memories where you do take pictures of the girls hugging under an arched doorway standing next to a giant blooming hibiscus with Italian blue tile underfoot. Maybe you share it, maybe you don’t, and instead you let it soak slow and steadily into your mind, vowing to remember. Maybe you jot down the memory in that little striped journal where you log memories.

Something valuable life has taught me, whether you’re in active labor and the contractions are real, or you’re experiencing some distasteful (to put it lightly) turbulence at 38,000 feet, or hunkering down while your village home rocks under the weight of a hurricane, it’s this life lesson to ride it out. This too shall pass, the good, the glamorous, as well as the challenging and the miserable parts. Ride it out is one of my life mottos. I mean, I don’t like have it on a t-shirt or anything, but it has helped me through so, so many life events. It’s a reminder to not give in to fear, and that smooth sailings are just around the corner. But in this world of posting and sharing, liking and refreshing and checking in, it’s hard to remember to ride it out because you’re preoccupied with when and how to share the moment and who might like, view, or respond to it.

So maybe I’ll be sharing more of my memories and life happenings here on this blog. Maybe I’ll be turning my phone off more so that I can soak in the glamorous moments before I rush by them to post them, or maybe I’ll be disconnecting to ride out a given storm that blows in. Who knows, really, what the right balance should be. All I know is, I want to be aware so that I live my life in such a way that I’m looking up, and keeping my eyes and heart in tune to the blessings around me, and not miss the lessons in the storm because I was too busy trying to find the right filter.


Bridging the friendship gap

Bridging the friendship gap

I was the oddball. The one that didn’t fit in. My husband and I moved to a little village in Senegal, West Africa where we worked as missionaries. We knew French which kind of served as a “bridge” language, but we didn’t speak Wolof, Diola, or any of the other local languages that people spoke. French was our second language and often their third or fourth language. So we could only go so far in that language, and if they didn’t speak much French, our gestures would only carry us so far! I was the oddball because of my skin color, my hair color and texture, my eye color, the way I wore my clothes and did my makeup, the way I washed my clothes, the way I cut my chicken, and the way I mopped my floors. My husband and I were different from everyone around us. We were two American missionaries in the middle of a west African village. I was also the oddball because I didn’t have children (and all of the women of that village that I came across did), I didn’t work in a garden, I didn’t go to the market at an early hour to get produce for that day, I didn’t have the same beliefs about God that they did, and I didn’t spend time hauling water from the well (we actually paid a local woman to do that for us). How on earth was I ever going to get to know anyone in that village? How was I ever going to break down the walls of isolation, living so far from people of my own culture, language and beliefs, and make a friend? It was hard to wake up every morning and make myself get outside to greet my neighbors (a valued part of the West African culture), when it felt useless to me at times. I felt like I couldn’t relate to their lives. Some of them were their husband’s second or third wife. How was I to relate to that?
I learned in time, and from forcing myself to step outside of my comfort zone, and in forcing myself to get to know people that were different from me, that it really doesn’t matter if you have anything in common or not. It just matters that you show an interest in someone else’s life. It matters that you smile, say hi, ask how their day is going, and if their sick baby is feeling any better. It matters that you accept the (sometimes cloudy) drinking water they offer, eat the fish and rice they offer you with gratitude, and accept the last remaining chair to have a seat in. It matters that (at least woman to woman) you compliment them. Notice how their hair is braided and ask who did it. Ask which tailer made their dress and for what occasion it was sewn for.
Putting culture aside, human to human, there are always ways to connect with people. We’re all daughters, we’re (now) mothers, we all eat food and clean our floors, even if it looks different.
Maybe this is also where I gained an interest in asking questions. It’s how we get to know each other, it’s how we build friendships and form connections. Even a shy person will come out of their shell (if only for a moment) if you give them a compliment. “Hey, I like your green mascara. Where did you get it?” Boom, just like that, the foundation to a new friendship has been laid. “I love your Yassa Poulet (Senegalese chicken and rice dish). No one in the village makes it like you do. Can you show me how?” Boom, just like that, the foundation to a new friendship has been laid.
No matter the context, even if you’re the oddball in a village, or feeling isolated in your given community, you can, little by little, form friendships by looking for things to compliment people on, and by following up with a question in order to get to know them better.
Care about people and their lives, branch out by asking people questions about their lives, step outside of your comfort zone and outside of the walls of isolation, and say hi to someone!
I saw from my own experiences, that in time, even when it feels impossible and intimidating, you can find common ground and a relationship can take root. You can start with, “Can I borrow an egg?”, or, “Can you teach me the word for spoon in your language?”


(Submission for mops magazine on friendship in various contexts)

Smiley face leggings

Smiley face leggings

You can wear all the smiley face leggings you want, and if Jesus and love aren’t the center of your day/your thoughts/your motivation, you’re going to trip up on yourself and it won’t be pretty. You’ll fall flat on your face into a muddy pool of selfishness. You’ll be splashing around, making a mess and only seeing you and the mud and nothing else. The world tells us to live for ourselves, but that’s a dangerous place to dwell.
But, if you pair some (pink, $7) smiley face leggings with Jesus and love, it’s a game changer.

Sometimes happiness is found in hammock swings on the back patio. Sometimes it’s found in queso (it’s often found in queso tbh). Sometimes it’s found in the coldest moscow mule with lots of lime. Sometimes it’s found in early bedtimes, fresh eggs from neighbors, and the first rose from your rose bush. Sometimes happiness is found in deep thoughts and a moment to yourself, park playdates, hazelnut lattes on the drink menu, holding hands and heart rings, reading to your kids about the Sacrificial Lamb, couch cuddles with a 3 yr old, a night away in Texas Hill Country and staying in an old cabin, new gold Burks, handsome horse neighbors, kids in cowgirl hats, and a long-awaited rain shower in the desert.

Happiness comes and goes, all in a given day.

Unless, of course, it comes from Jesus. If it’s found in Him, it’s joy and it lasts no matter what the day holds and no matter what leggings you’re wearing.

On raising kids and being a Becky

On raising kids and being a Becky

You’ve heard of the Man Flu, but have you heard of Little Kid Flu? It’s similar, but the voices strike at a muuuch higher octave, there are more demands for blankets and snacks, and they can’t work the remote yet, which circles back to demands in that same high-pitched octave. Anyway, I’m a recent survivor of the Little Kid, Man, and ME flu (the most brutal of them all). In those times, it’s really hard to stay the course in raising kind, loving kids who obey and respond well. It’s hard enough on a good day to work through the TODDLERTUDEâ„¢ (yes, I google-imaged the trademark symbol and put it right there next to the word toddlertude bc I just came up with it and I gotta say, it’s genius).
In a world of ‘you do you’, we’re trying to go against the flow of our culture and raise kids in a way that’s honoring to God. But it’s HARD, man! And needless to say, the responsibility of this privileged mom gig, and trying to make good choices myself to model to our girls how to make good choices themselves (and not yell shit when they drive over a concrete parking block) has been extra challenging when such sicknesses (as mentioned above) strike our household.
Which is why, all that to say, I want to be Becky when I grow up.
Who is Becky? She’s the florist who gave my girls balloons for “listening well to mom” while we were in the flower shop earlier today. We weren’t in there for long, mind you, but if you’ve ever been around a 3 and 4 year old, you know it doesn’t take long for them to shatter a vase, pick all the pedals off a flower, or run wild out the door and around the building 25 times before checkout. Becky saw my attempts at making sure they listened and understood what was expected of them, and she rewarded them with smiley face balloons. Becky the florist didn’t know at the time what a huge encouragement that would be to me. She didn’t know we just survived The Whole Family Flu, complete with a lot of whining, sister fights, arguing, impatience, and sleepless nights. It’s times like that when everything flies off the rails and you feel like you have no earthly idea what you’re doing as a parent and you feel like your kids would be better off raised by Yoda. She didn’t know then that I was growing wearing in doing well (and/or attempting to do well). So thanks, Becky, for the balloons (even if they were hiding their grumpy faces with them awhile later). Thanks for acknowledge that, while they don’t always listen well, they did that time. (Yes, let’s be Becky and cheer each other on and hand out balloons!) It was good for them to be rewarded by a kind stranger, and for me to feel seen as a mom who is trying her best and trying not to grow weary in this hard/fun/exhausting/awesome 24/7 mom gig.

Moms, consistency is the absolute hardest thing. But it makes a difference. Keep at it. XO.

Ps- in a world of Karens, BE A BECKY.

To the friend fighting infertility

To the friend fighting infertility

Maybe right now you’re not just dog paddling through the current, you’re in the deep end fighting to keep your head above water. The grief is real and month after month just reminds you that time is passing and you’re floating down the river past growing families and happy announcements and frustrating “it’ll happen when it’s meant to” comments from your mom’s friends. But will it? Will it ever happen? Because God works in mysterious ways, they say, BUT WHERE IS THE BABY WE’VE BEEN PRAYING FOR?! Why does God have to work in mysterious ways when it comes to what we’ve been praying for, and dreaming of? Is God even hearing our prayers?! Does He even care?!
Oh man, I’ve been there, fighting those deep waters of infertility, and questioning, and doubting, and wondering if God is still good, still there, still listening to your prayers.

But let me tell you something about God and our journey from infertility to IVF (x 4) to parenthood: God is good no matter what. He is faithful no matter our circumstances. And if you’re a friend crying over a negative pregnancy test, and wondering when it will be your turn, let me just remind you that YOU HAVE NOT BEEN FORGOTTEN. You are seen and loved by a good God. I don’t know why God does what He does, and His timing doesn’t always make sense to us. But if I can just encourage you, even now, to turn to God, get to know Him and who He is right here in this season you’re in, it will serve you in whatever season is next. You’ll never regret getting to know more about the character of God. Who is He in the wait? Who is He when a miracle comes your way?

I’m so glad I got to know these aspects of God’s character even when the journey was long and my emotions were tossed by the waves. And now, I get to see who God is to me as I raise these babies we prayed for! There’s hope in this story and I hope you can stop, right here in your season, and see that this God of hope is in your story too.

One of the blessings in my life lately is getting to help friends (and sometimes it’s someone I haven’t even met who reaches out through the blog or through a mutual friend) through their own struggles of infertility. I love answering their questions about IVF, where to start, when to start, and I love being a listening ear and reminding them that what they’re feeling is totally normal and valid. It’s ok to feel hurt/anger/grief when it feels like everyone else is getting pregnant before you, and it’s ok to not go to the baby shower because it’s too much to handle right now. It’s ok for you and your husband to grieve in different ways. You’re seen and valued right there where you are- waiting and hoping for a baby.

I hope our girls can be a testament to God working in big ways when we least expect it. Keep hoping, keep praying.
And please, reach out if you need a listening ear or if you’re in the deep end fighting to keep your head above water and you need someone to toss you a life raft and pray on your behalf. I’m your girl. I’ve been there, and I’m here to tell you, God is right there in the waters with you too.

12 years of infertility later… thank you, God for these answers to prayer!

I got you flowers

I got you flowers

I got you some flowers today because I know you really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, but you did it! Your butler should have brought you breakfast in bed but he didn’t even show up to work. I got you flowers because you had a toddler wake up crying at 3am because they woke up and realized their door was cracked more than they would have preferred. I got you flowers because choosing to love and serve others above yourself all day, every day is hard. I got you flowers because you have to sweep the floors and wipe down the countertops a lot. I got you flowers because it’s a little cloudy today. I got you flowers because cramps hurt. I got you flowers because you struggle to access the patience that God offers and instead you try to do it in your own effort and fail. I got you flowers because it’s hard to teach kids to love, not fight, share, and speak with kind words when it doesn’t come natural to you either. I got you flowers because your eyeliner looks rough man. I got you flowers because your WiFi is slower than molasses. I got you flowers because you survived a week of taking care of sick kids. I got you flowers because there are rattlesnakes in your neighborhood. I got you flowers because you miss your mom, sisters, dad, brothers, friends scattered around the world, your in-laws, brothers and sisters in law, and 15 nieces and nephews. I got you flowers because you took a risk. I got you flowers for the times you remember to stop and sit with your girls, read to them, and hold them close knowing that tomorrow they’ll be another day older. I got you flowers because you made your bed. I got you flowers for keeping the kids alive another day. I got you flowers because you chose to walk by faith and not by sight, even when it was confusing. I got you flowers because you waved at a kid in line at the grocery store, played peek-a-boo, and made him laugh. I got you flowers for sweeping up that scorpion. I got you flowers for not just washing the clothes but for folding them and putting them away too. I got you flowers because your body grew and birthed two babies. I got you flowers because by God’s grace you’re a survivor of infertility. I got you flowers because you’re raising two daughters, a privilege you never thought you’d get to experience. I got you flowers because you stayed married another day (and promise to keep on going). I got you flowers because you apologized and it wasn’t easy. I got you flowers to remind you that love always wins. I got you flowers because you don’t deserve it. I got you flowers because you deserve hell and death and nothing else. You don’t deserve red gerbera daisies in a vase on the kitchen counter, but you’re not you, you’re a new creation by the blood of Jesus! You have Salvation, joy, a purpose worth celebrating even on a cloudy day when the girls are whining and arguing and your body feels weak and tired from the struggles of life in a fallen world. I got you flowers because you’re a daughter of the King and that’s something worth remembering every single day. That’s why I got you (myself) flowers on this cloudy Tuesday.

Diamond watches and German food

Diamond watches and German food

Our first Valentine’s Day married: we were dressed up and in a little German restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s where we were living at the time. Well, we were in Waukesha which wasn’t too far from Milwaukee. We were still getting to know each other even though we had been married for six months by then. We had only dated for about six months and had never even lived in the same town (or state) as each other before we moved in together as Mr. and Mrs. DeAtley. (I guess you now know why my mom audibly screamed when she saw my engagement ring and realized that we were engaged… and it all took place the day after she met Shawn. Yeah, I guess you could say it was fast. But when you know you know.)
We were sitting at the table in the German restaurant where Bob Hope once sat. We didn’t have smart phones so I couldn’t Google who Bob Hope was. And there certainly weren’t QR codes to take our eyes off of each other and onto the scroll of a menu. The menus were paper, and we learned that the schnitzel was delicious. We didn’t know that we’d get to go to Germany a few years down the road and eat “real schnitzel”, and that we would also be eating fish eyeballs in Senegal in the not-too-distant future. We didn’t know a lot of things about what was to come. We didn’t know that we would ache for years for a baby, that there would be so many thousands of shots that we would never once regret. We didn’t know that we would spend months in Guinea before evacuating to Senegal, where we would spend the remainder of our years in Africa as missionaries. We didn’t know that we’d love living in the frozen tundra of Quebec where the language and the radio and the tv channels and some of the items in the grocery store (horse meat) were so foreign to us. We didn’t know that Shawn’s gift that night (a diamond watch) would be a joke every Valentine’s Day from then on, because maybe he shot a little too high, that maybe he raised the bar just a little too high starting out with diamonds that first Valentine’s Day. We didn’t know that the watch, along with my engagement ring, and two gold coins from a grandpa, would stay in a safety deposit box for years because we didn’t want to bring them overseas with us where corruption was just a part of it. We didn’t know that just owning a veggie peeler would set us apart from our Africa neighbors (because some of them, at least in the village, had never seen one before). We didn’t know that night when we dined on fine German food that one day it would be possible to long for two homes at once, to be homesick for both, the here and there, our home in Africa and our home in the United States. We didn’t know how culture shock, and grief, and love, and meeting the most incredible people along the way would shape who we are today, the people we are today, the parents we are today. I’m glad we didn’t know that night at the German restaurant, the good and hard, the sweet and sour that was to come. Because it all makes up the story that is today. We lived that day and the next, and by God’s grace and love, we handled what came. Even looking back now, it’s the miracles and grace and God’s leading in our lives that stand out the most. As I’ve said before, God isn’t just good when the story ends well, when you’re happy and settled, when you finally see two pink lines on the test, or find where home is. He isn’t just good when you have a quiet date night for two, eating German food and wearing a new watch on your wrist. He’s good because He’s God. He’s the author we can trust.

Still wearing that watch
Mid-January ramblings & pics

Mid-January ramblings & pics

I am obsessed with Shilo’s voice. It’s so cute and slightly raspy and she’s trying out all the big words like “decorations” and “Corduroy” and “definitely”, even if she mispronounces them.

She’s talking a lot lately, and both she and Noella are full of constant conversation and observation. “Mom. Hey mom. Remember when we rode on the airplane, and we stayed in a hotel and the elevator had lots of buttons and daddy let me push one?” “Hey mom. Mom. Hey mom, why are there three birds flying above that house and not four birds?” “Hey mom. Daddy drove his truck to work not our car. Because we will be the ones to drive in our car.”
I field so many questions (SO MANY) in a given day, that I’ve started mixing up my responses just to entertain myself. My go-to is “you’re kitten me right meow.” It’s ridiculous and Shawn thinks I’m ridiculous but one day he tried to mock me and he said it in response to something I said to him, but ended it with an actual meeeeeow, and I almost fell right off the couch from laughing so hard.

Noella lives and breathes baby dolls. She takes such good care of them. If it’s cold outside she zips them up in her coat so they can stay warm. She has such a sweet heart. But also, if I have to dress one more plastic baby doll I may pass out.

Someone has to be the first to apologize in your marriage relationship. When we were first married I’d wait for it to be Shawn, growing frustrated that he wouldn’t make a move toward some kind of reconciliation. But of course I wasn’t making a move either. We were both stuck in selfishness. Now I know that someone just has to make that first move and the faster someone says sorry the faster you can mend the hurts that took place. It’s okay to be the first to say you’re sorry.

We decided to have a fancy dinner on Sunday, consisting of grilled waygu steak, scallops, casesar salad, and what I call “rich people carrots” (we managed to find them on clearance, but you know the ones, long and skinny with the long flowy parsley-looking greenery at the top?). It was fun and of course the meal was divine. I set the table with cloth napkins which is when you know we fancy (but not like Applebee’s on a date night).

We flew a kite the other day with the girls and it was so miserably cold and the string got all tangled and I had to chase our horse-dog down the street when he escaped but I guess memories were made??

Sometimes I play referee all day and it is the hardest thing ever. Other times, they play happily after church wearing matching heart dresses and I melt.
Cloth napkins that have moved all over the world with us. (Kristen, remember when you bought these for me at Market Street Cafe?)
Home. The good, the hard, the gratitude, the candles, the kisses, the memories.
Shawn and his butterfly kite: a memoir
Delightful dinner documented
Ear muffs, CO hats, and tongues sticking out
Hoarder status: strong Cute status: STRONG
Trimmed off the long flowy greenery and made a carrot bouquet
Baby Meg zipped up to stay warm.
Horse-dog hugs

There’s no real point to this blog post, other than to stop and remember the big and little things we have to be thankful for, and to note the fun/busy/cute stages our girls are at. Thank you, God, for cooler days, kites, scallops, grocery carts full of stuffed animals, and this family that you crafted just for us.