Category Archives: Holidays

2016: Patience and Trust

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2016–Wow! What a year! In some ways it’s hard to believe that an entire year has gone by,  but in other ways it seems like this year might have just been the longest year of my life. 2016 was a great year for our family, but at the same time it was also a very tough year for us emotionally, mentally and spiritually for various reasons.  Your Dad and I tried to keep things in perspective when times got tough, and worked hard to rely on each other even when we felt pulled towards the opposite.

It’s easy to feel helpless when it seems like one thing after another keeps happening to bring you down–like things pile up and you just don’t know how to stop it. Everyone’s been there, every one goes through a season like this in their lives.  Don’t ever think that bad things or tough times only ever fall on you–it happens to everyone.  The way you react to those times says a lot more about your character than how you act when things are smooth sailing.

When it seems like things are getting too hard, take a look around and realize that life is good.  The kids are healthy and happy.  Our home is peaceful and steady.  We have food, clothing and good friends.  In the whole scheme of life, we have it pretty good.  Even if life is hard right now, I know that it won’t be like this forever.  Yes, even through the hard times, life is still good.  God is still good and faithful, even in time when it seems like He’s not.  Please know that, like *really* know that.

This past year was an exercise in trust for our family.  Life isn’t always butterflies and rainbows, little ones.  But it is *always* good and we are always here for a purpose.  Thanks for always keeping things in perspective for us.  For 2017 we are holding on to the hope that the future brings goodness and happiness for our family, our community, our country and our world.  IMG_3849

Happy New Year, my sweet babes! I love you to the moon and back!

Love always,

Mom

P.S. I hope you enjoy looking back on some of my favorite photos from this year.  If it seems like many of them are from the summer, it’s because they are.  Summer is my jam.

 

Relationship Advice #9

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord  not for men.”  Colossians 3:23

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Rachel and Jake,

For the past few years I have written to you here, here, and here with a variety of relationship advice for you to use in your everyday life.  Your Mama’s “pearls of wisdom,” as I like to call them, are not meant for mastery but more for your own reflection.  These little pieces of advice that I give are things that I am working on myself in my relationships and are in no way anything that I have mastered or do day in and day out.  Simply put, each year when your father’s and my anniversary rolls around, I reflect on what I have learned over the last year or what stuck out as the most pressing piece of advice I want to share with you.

When the time comes for you to get married, my hope is that you’ll be able to see what it takes to make a marriage last for a lifetime.  Your father and I have committed to the vows we made before God to love, honor and cherish each other as long as we live. It’s a large scale promise that can only be fulfilled by purposely choosing how we make up those day-to-day moments that create a lifetime of loving each other. What do those moments look like? Well, sweet little ones, that’s what I hope these posts will help you understand.

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{Relationships are a lot like sledding.  You have to mentally prepare yourself beforehand, get all of the tools you need in place and then you get to enjoy the ride! When you think you’re done, you just get back up, climb the hill again and head back down for some more adventure! Important note–It’s more fun if you enjoy the people you are sledding with.}

So, here it is, relationship advice number nine. It might sound a bit odd, but just bear with me here: get a hobby.  Yes, that’s right, a hobby.  The key to happiness does not rely on  relationships alone.  You need to be able to find things that make you feel happy and content and confident in yourself because as you will find in your life, and I’m sorry to say this, but people and relationships will sometimes disappoint you.  You need to be able to find satisfaction and fulfillment outside of relationships so that when the chips are down you can still have something that brings happiness into your life. On the flip side of that, your hobby will allow you to share your joy with others and many times will bring new and varied relationships in to your life.   God has given you specific interests and skill sets for a reason–it is up to you to develop and explore the natural talents He has given you!IMG_3135

Relationship Advice #9: Get a hobby. It could even be something that doesn’t have to involve the other person at first, if you want.  “How does that work?,” you might wonder. Or “What does that have to do with anything?” Well, that’s the beauty of this blog, just let me tell you…

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According to the researchers at the School of Medicine at Temple University, engaging in a hobby awakens the area of the brain that produces positive feelings and reduces stress.  Doing a particular task that you enjoy can enhance your ability to concentrate and encourages self-motivation and increases self-confidence.  All of these can have a profound impact on your relationship with those around you.

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Over the past few years your father and I have developed several hobbies.  Some we share with each other, and some we do completely on our own. Having a hobby that we can share together is a fun way to connect with each other, especially during these years when most of our conversation centers around you.  For example, in the past year or so your Dad and I have started exploring craft beers together.  We enjoy trying new beers together and finding beers for each other that we think we might like.  Sometimes we are surprised at how well we know the other person’s taste!

After you are in bed for the night, sometimes we will try a new beer together while we talk about the day or anything else that might be on our mind.  It’s a way for us to purposefully make an effort to connect with each other. Recently your Dad has even started learning how to brew his own beer with a friend.  I fully support that endeavor and enjoy reaping the benefits of it as well! IMG_3656.JPG

Photography has been a bit of an outlet for me lately.  I enjoy taking pictures and have been blessed to be able to share some of the joy that you, my children, bring me through sharing my photos with others.  I have been humbled that other people have chosen me to take their family photos and am loving some of the experiences and doors that photography has opened up for me.  It was completely unexpected, but it was an outlet your father (and some really great friends) encouraged me to explore!

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It’s no secret that your Dad has always been in to cars and Corvettes especially.  When we first started dating I thought “Go to a car show? Really??” Sometimes your friend or spouse might have a hobby that you are “just not that into.” And that’s ok! But, please try to like it for that other person.  There is always something that can be gained from new experiences.  Something that brings joy to your friend or partner can in some way bring joy to you too.  Even if it’s just spending time together or having something that you do together to support each other–it’s important!

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Who knows, some day you may like it and end up taking your kids there and posing them beside sweet Corvettes that you never really appreciated before your relationship began.  You might realize that it’s really not that bad, after all.  And when you find yourself saying “Hey, want to take the Corvette out and take pictures of it on some crazy back road I found?” you’ll realize that your two worlds have collided in the best way possible and then you’ll realize that the things that you thought were weird in your younger years really aren’t that bad after all.  Because in the end, my little ones, it’s all about supporting each other and bringing parts of yourself into a relationship.

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Trying something new can be a good thing when you look at it as an adventure or as a way to learn about new things.  In fact, we should welcome change and new opportunity into our lives because it helps evolve who we are as a person. Our lives weren’t meant to be stagnant.  You will grow and change throughout your lifetime and you want to be sure that you surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you and support your interests too.

If you want someone who is going to support you, then you need to be willing to do that for them, as well.  Being a good friend requires having a willingness to grow and bond over new experiences.  After all, no two  people are ever exactly the same.  Everyone comes in to a relationship with their own set of experiences and beliefs that can impact the way they view certain situations. Celebrate those differences, encourage others to pursue what makes them happy and enjoy the ride as they find their place in this world.

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I’ll leave you with one final thought, which happens to be an excerpt from an exceptional author.  Read these words and try to let them really sink in.  It took me a long time before I finally got the gist of what he meant.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.  Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.  Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.  Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.  Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are along though they quiver with the same music.  Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.  For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.  And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow. ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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I love you more than you will ever know.  To the moon and back.

Love always,

Mommy

ps. Happy 9th Anniversary, Tim! Thank you for always supporting me and encouraging me and for helping me find my hobby!

 

2015: A Year to Remember

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Dear Rachel and Jake,

Wow! 2015 was an awesome year for our family! Here’s a look back on some (ok, ok, A LOT) of our most memorable moments.  It seems like this year just flew right by us! I guess that’s what happens when you are busy having fun! 🙂

 

I am so thankful for the gift of motherhood itself, but most of all, I am especially thankful for the little ones who call me “Mom.” Life is good.  2016, we are ready for you!

I love you to the moon and back.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxo

Happy Thanksgiving, Rachel and Jake!

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Happy Thanksgiving to you, my sweet little turkeys! Life with you is so much sweeter than I ever thought possible.  The word “thankful” does not even begin to scratch the surface…

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After a day filled with family and food and friends, the two of you wanted to spend some time snuggling each other before bed. Could you both ever really be any sweeter?

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Thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives and for showing us that there is hope for a nicer and more loving future for our world.  The world is a much better place because you are in it!

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I love you to the moon and back, forever and always.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxoxo

Happy Easter 2015

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Happy Easter, my little sweeties! What a fun day we had filled with candy, Easter baskets, songs and a wonderful message shared later in the day by my sweet girl about how Jesus makes us “clean” again (Thank you, Miss Dani!)

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It is because of the sacrifice Jesus made by dying on the cross for us that we have reason to celebrate today.  Always know that Easter is not just about the candy and eggs, but that it signifies a promise fulfilled and a love so strong that it was willing to go to any length to sacrifice for you.

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Some people put much emphasis on telling others that they love them…a spouse, a friend, a child; but Easter reminds us that real love is more than just words.  Real love requires action and sacrifice.  Jesus dying on the cross is the perfect example of the ultimate sacrifice to display the ultimate love.  I challenge you, my little ones who will one day grow into adults, to show the world your love not just in words alone, but also through your actions. The choices that you make and the sacrifices you endure will show the world (and yourself) where the intention of your heart lies.  Love the ones who are the most difficult to love, reach out to those who need your help the most, sacrifice your time being of service to others.  Volunteer your time, your energy and your heart.  Do what you can to make the world a better and more loving place.  By choosing to live a life of actionable love, you will get to know the Father’s love for you (and all of us) in ways you would never have known before.

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I love you to the moon and back. Forever and always.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxoxo

Reflections on Love {Part 2}

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Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet little valentines who mean more to me than anyone else in this entire world! I hope you always know how much you are loved, not just by me, but by the One who made you! You were created in His image and likeness, and I believe wholeheartedly that we are here on this earth to spread His love to others in any way we can! You can read a little bit more about my thoughts on what love is here. 🙂

jake valentines day 2015One of the best parts about being your mom is that I get to watch your life grow and change right in front of my very eyes.  I know that you were created for a purpose and that your life has meaning to it, and I can’t wait to watch you both grow.  One thing that I wonder about is how you will react to the world’s expectations of you when you are a young adult.  I hope that the values that I am trying to instill in you today will carry over into your experiences as you try to make sense of this big ol’ world around you.

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I wonder, if by the time you feel the desire to have a significant other, will you still value yourself if you do not find someone in the time frame you were hoping to? Will you still stay true and steadfast to your core beliefs–both personal and spiritual? Will you know that your life’s worth, and who you are as a person, is not measured as “successful” by the ability (or inability) of someone else to love you? If the answer to these questions is “yes!” then I will feel as if I have done my job successfully in preparing you for the inevitable disappointment of a failed relationship or in the longing of a new relationship.

YOU, my sweet ones, are worth the wait in any relationship.  Hold strong to your worth and know that you are a prize.  You are so loved already by so many people around you.  No matter what happens, your life has a purpose and your life has meaning.  Do not let others make you feel lesser or that you are not worthy according to society’s standards (those standards are bizarre and unrealistic most of the time anyway).  The only standard that really matters is His, and He loves you more than you could ever know.  Think about that for a minute or two, reflect on that…..Know that love.  Feel that love.  Share that love with others. You are worth it.rachel valentines day 20152

I  love you to the moon and back.

Love,

Mommy

Happy New Year

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This New Year’s eve, Tim and I have decided to ring in the new year while gorging our faces with delicious food while catching up on episodes of Downton Abbey.  We’ll go in and kiss our babes at midnight and probably let Rachel con us into sleeping in our bed.  These days, huge New Year’s parties are put to the wayside for a quiet night in with our favorite kids and tv shows.  It’s not elaborate, it’s not fancy or wildly exciting, but is still extremely and deeply fulfilling.  Life is good.

2014 was a great year for our family.  We spent much of the year learning and growing as a family of 4. I have included a montage of some of my favorite memories from the past year.  Looking forward, I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us.  I am so blessed and thankful to be going through this life with my littles and my sweet husband (who a lot of times just doesn’t get enough credit for all that he does for us!).

 

Happy New Year’s eve, everyone! May 2015 be all that you hope it to be.

Love,

Jen