Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top Ten Photos of the Year

Another year in the rearview mirror. I chose these photos because they spoke to me on some level, for different reasons. We don't live a flashy life, but its ours and I'm so grateful.

I take such delight in these three.

The passing of Shaun's grandfather was a big thing to us in 2017. At 98, he lived a full life and it was an honor to celebrate his legacy. And we miss him.

This man. He is honest and faithful and hard-working. He loves well and is wise. He is self-less and generous and he makes my heart skip a beat, even still. I'm crazy grateful for this life we have and for another year of growing grayer and softer together.

#FosterCare..."No one is strutting their way through this-we're all limping in some way; each wired for struggle and worthy of grace."

I look at this annual picture taken at Busch Gardens in Florida and I'm struck, as I often am, at how beautiful and brutal, hard and blessings so often reside in the same moment. God's sees our  weaknesses and inadequacies yet continues to call us into this journey saying, through My strength, you are enough. Its incredibly humbling to be mom to so many.

One evening while the kids were at youth group, I was grocery shopping alone. From behind me I heard, "hi Mom", and though I couldn't place the voice, I knew the person was talking to me. I turned around to see a young man who lived and worked with us for a summer several years ago. Later I was shaking my head at the exchange and thought Me God?? Really?? Yes me. Despite me.

North Street. Hard work and letting go.

Our days in Maine came at a crucial time for healing and restoration. We were broken and tattered and still we summited. There was fighting and arguing and whining on the way to the top of this mountain and also love and encouragement and healthy bodies.

This photo represents the blood, sweat and tears of sports for these three and also Shaun as coach. We had so much fun and there were many opportunities for character development, too.

This was my first full year of being healthy in quite a few years, something we didn't take for granted. Successfully training for and completing a marathon was definitely a highlight.

House and in-person. We've considered so many different scenarios and options. We are diligently seeking God's will and direction and are standing on the promise that His plans for us are good.

These three love life. They have the hardship of living with a mom who detests screens, but the flip side of that is the fullness of real, active life they have, swimming and sledding being at the top. Those are also two of my favorite activities to take pictures of because its pure joy.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,Ephesians 5:15

Looking forward to writing the next chapter!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Remembering North Street

Last month we sold our house on North Street. We bought it 20 years ago when we were just 3 years into our marriage. It was December 7th, to be exact. We left the closing and went straight to the Christmas tree farm in Shaun's old beat-up pick-up truck. We left with the biggest, fat-est tree we could find and set it up in the turret of our new house. We worked day and night to get the house presentable enough to host Christmas Day that year. Both sets of our parents had recently gotten separated/divorced, leaving no place for our family to gather together. 

That first year we invited everyone to our neutral home. It would be the first of countless holidays and events we hosted there and the first baby step of healing in our families that is ongoing, though we've come so far.

Together, Amy and I figured out how to host gatherings and make meals big enough for a crowd. Our collection of serving dishes slowly grew, as did our knowledge of coordinating people and politics. We were partners in crime and developed a fondness for the planning and blessing. I found I loved it when my house was full of people. Shaun and I cultivated an "open door" policy that is still in existence. People stop by regularly, announced or not and no one ever knocks.

Over the years Shaun lovingly restored the 1895 house, doing his best to stay true to the Victorian Era. My dad custom-built the cherry cabinets in the kitchen and so many friends and family spent hours and days helping out with major projects.

On the day we closed, my sister sent me this and I felt like it was my thoughts exactly, though it sounds better coming from her.

Have one last dance together for all of us. All the memories.  All the reasons why you bought it, the forgiveness that flowed, the glue that pulled us together, the healing done inside those walls, the laughter, the tears, the endless games played, the baby showers, holidays, birthdays, the murder mysteries, the babies you brought home, the blood sweat and tears you guys (and so many others) poured in to make it a home- not just for you, but for all of us. The original revolving door that dozens and dozens and dozens of people would find a safe haven there, a place of hospitality, generosity, and Christ's love demonstrated. 😒😒 but 🍾🍾. Love you. Proud of you for all you did there and all that that house represented.

We are so, so grateful for the years we had there. I pulled just a few pictures that represented some of the sweet memories from our time years and didn't take the time to put them in any kind of order.

Our last night in the house...very emotional.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

Psalm 127:1