Somewhere On A Beach

I LOVE the ocean. I LOVE the beach. There’s just beauty and power all in one massive force and, like Moana, it calls to me. This week I will be at the beach with the one I love most: Jesse. He planned this quick getaway for us and I pitched the biggest fit; I didn’t want to leave the kids, I didn’t want to spend the money, I wanted to go to Mexico or the Bahamas, not Florida. 

This is from our last family beach trip to Port Aransas

I was being the biggest jerk. Here Jesse was offering up something I have been asking and begging for but it wasn’t my idea and it wasn’t good enough. Poor guy couldn’t win this one. I started feeling really guilty and felt super bad.

How often does Jesse do something for me that I look him dead in the eye and say it’s not good enough? Too often. How often does he do something that isn’t done the way I like it and I shut him down? Too often. Jesse and I have been married almost 13 years! That’s a long freaking time! I am so very glad that he loves me the way he does and that he’s willing to disagree with me when I’m being stubborn.

I love the way our marriage works. There are times when we each have to step back and say, “Nope, we need this. We need to reconnect. We need to get on the same page. We need to make sure we love and like each other the most.” I guess it was his turn to say this. His turn to refocus us, and I am so glad he did. I don’t think I ever realize how much I need it until we are in the moment.

So off we go! Big thanks to all those making sure our kids are safe and loved!!

EDIT!! As we were getting ready for our trip we were checking the weather and it was looking like 80% chance of rain the entire time we were going to be there. And as much as I love the beach I don’t love thunderstorms on the beach while on vacation. So we did a little remixing. Off to Disney World for the next few days. Let me tell you again, I LOVE the beach but if you know me at all you know I’m IN LOVE with all things Disney. So off we go! No adulting for us only Faith, trust and a little bit of Pixie Dust! 

If you want to follow along check out my Instagram! 

Thank you for being a friend….

Tribe. Squad. Besties. Whatever you call it, you need it. And I think you need it outside your home. Don’t get me wrong, my husband Jesse is my very best friend. He knows me better than I know myself, I really believe that. He loves me for me and I love him more than I can even express. BUT girlfriends are a must. I don’t know when I realized female friendships were hard...I had a great group of friends in high school, we drifted through those awkward years with many a fight and disagreement but one of my favorite things is to have lunch with them. When Zoe came home I got a very unexpected gift in the mail from them. It really was the best. They have shown me that even with time and distance we are friends and we have history, and that history matters.

After high school I found myself in a weird spot: all my high school friends went to college and I was surrounded by women who were older than me and a few stages in life ahead of where I found myself. Two of my very best friends came from this era of my life. They taught me how to mother and be a good wife.

These four: Jessica, Amanda, Tesa and Destiny taught me how to be a good friend. Jessica and Amanda taught me that even though we grow up and move along, our history together matters. We grew up together, we have walked through SO many seasons and really, I think they know too much. Destiny and Tesa man, they got me at a pivotal time of  transition; from kid to wife, from Jesse’s wife to Ezekiel’s mom. They held my hand and kindly guided me.

And really don’t get me started on my very first friend. My cousin, Melissa. She’s the best and without her my life would be lost. I cannot even begin to type out the lessons she has taught me. So I’ll save that for a later post.

So when did I realize female friendships were hard? When I realized I wasn’t being truthful with myself. When I wasn’t being authentic and real with the relationships I had. When I wasn’t being intentional. When I was cutting myself off but then mad that no one would reach out.

I got to spend some time today with two of my favorite friends. They are beautiful, strong, giving, loving, hilarious women that I want to be just like. We sat by the pool with a whole gaggle of children and just got to talk. Talking is my favorite. There were moments of silliness and laughter, moments of questions, but then there were moments of true vulnerability. I know it sucks to be the one friend who says, “This year has been really hard on my marriage.” Or “I really don’t like this kid right now.” Or “Please pass the cheetos.” (By the way that was all me.) So I know it sucks to be that person but I also know that it sucks to keep it in. It’s so hard to feel alone and I think we do this to ourselves, for fear of not being liked or fear of not being understood or,huge one: fear of not feeling safe.

Now let me tell you, I have a tribe, I struggle with being honest with them only because I feel like my honest is ugly. I know deep in my heart that that is lie. They are amazing and they remind me of that. We are better together. Always. Better. Together.

So I want to encourage you, reach out find someone who is safe. One of my favorite moments from this past year was a text I received that said, “I need people. Will you be one of my people?”

Do a Bible study. One that I just went through with some friends is called A REAL GIRLFRIENDS GUIDE TO TAKING IT ALL OFF by Stephanie May Wilson. It was so good and really helped us get to know each other.

Go to the gym together. I believe that there is no greater time to get to know people then when you are both in gym clothes and sweating. Misery loves company and really accountability to hit the gym is never bad! Here in Texas some of my best friendships were formed at the gym, if you keep seeing the same person over and over again maybe your meant to be friends. That’s exactly what happened with my  sweet friend Julianna. We kept bumping into each other and now I can’t imagine life without her. She really has taught me how to be a better friend and what it looks like to serve like Jesus would serve. 

My final thought on this comes with a scripture…

Colossians 3:12-14 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If someone comes to you with a tender and vulnerable heart, don’t be a jerk. Be a friend known for compassion and kindness. Bear each others burdens, be a good friend. If they are hurting, sit with them, feel their hurt, don’t allow your sweet friend to hurt alone. If your friend hurts you, forgive and forgive quickly (and wisely). 

Put on love, always walk in love. 

I am so thankful for the friends I have in my life. I can only hope I am as good of a friend to them as they are to me.

Near and far I’m so thankful for the tribe that surrounds me


 

June Book Reviews

I love summer for so many reasons: no school, no schedule, the sun, the pool, my kids, and all the books. In the summer I feel like I have the freedom and time to read, and I think the lack of new TV shows has a big part in that. Well that and I don’t have to fear over sleeping or missing my alarm in the morning. So with summer here I have been reading as much as I can!  Here’s what I read in June with a quick review:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan-  I actually saw this recommended by a friend on Instagram so I added it to my Amazon cart. The reviews are all great but sold it as “The next Shopaholic series” and while I didn’t think it lived up to THAT standard ( I mean Sophie Kinsella is HILARIOUS and I have never laughed out loud like I did while reading her books)  I did really enjoy it. It showed a totally different culture and full of footnotes to help the reader understand and get some insider knowledge. It was a great pool/ camping read.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan- Obviously I didn’t hate the first one if I followed it up with the second of the three books. The story line is so good and full of characters that you feel like you’ve really come to know. I really liked the character development that happened in this book and it really set the bar for book 3!

The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell- Jamie Ivey (Host of the popular podcast Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey) is doing a summer book club and this was her first pick. The first thing about this book is its BEAUTIFUL. The cover is lovely with turquoise and gold hints all over it. The book is her story of building community with her neighbors really encouraging us to not be indoors or backyard people but to venture out front and really get to know the people that live next door.  It also has a lot of recipes and really good tips for how to become a ‘Front Yard Person’.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas- Oh man, this book was good. Real, raw and real heavy. It tells the story of a young african american girl who witnesses her friend murdered by the police. It is a great real-life and timely picture into the hate that we see all around us. There is some strong language so heads up but man, this was well written and beautifully executed. This story has stuck with me and has made me think so much.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder- Now this one was promoted to me like this: “I couldn’t put it down, the last time I read a book this good was Harry Potter.” So obviously I had to have it, and I had to read it immediately. Well, it wasn’t THAT good! I mean, it is a good coming of age story and I loved the main characters heart, but I also wanted to shake her and help her see the error of her ways. It ended kind of abruptly so I have been waiting to see if there’s going to be a follow up.

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff- I have slowly read this book. Wanting to take in and sit with each story Maria told. Maria, wife to Bob Goff, author of Love Does, followed her husband’s path of just laying out how they live and love and how its one in the same. I loved that she talked about how he’s adventurous, she’s not and how they made that work. How when her kids told her they were running away, she helped them pack a bag. She writes of love in such a simple way and its just obvious that that is who they are. Both of their stories are gold and full of wisdom!

My To Read list looks like this….

Today will be different by Maria Semple    Shoe Dog by Phil Knight                            Life After by Katie Ganshert   A Fierce Love by Shauna Shanks                         Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken    Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

To read and read. What’s on your shelf?!

 

Looking back

This time of year always has me reminiscing. I’m not sure if its the laziness of summer or that we enter into what I call “Birthday Season” where from July to September we celebrate each kids’ birthday. It makes me think of the coming school year and then “Oh my how much they’ve grown and they were just babies yesterday….”. But we also just “celebrated” that it’s been five years since we moved to Texas and that fact alone has be thinking about how far we have come, how much we have changed and whats coming up.

Our last photo as a family of 4!

Five years! It seems to have passed so fast. Zeke was just 5 and Titus was only 3 (and now they are almost 11 and 9). We spent the first year settling in and finding our people. Then next 3 years were spent learning the ins and outs of adopting and fighting for a girl half the world away. In the past five years we have all changed so much. Our first two years in Texas we really spent focused on the four of us, so it was goodbye date nights and hello family dates, movie nights in and while that shaped us and prepared us for what was coming, it was also fun. We established community. When we plucked up our roots we had to transplant and much like a plant, we had to transplant quickly or die. So we sought community and boy did we find it. We have been surrounded by great friends who have really rallied around us in the hardest times.

Then, the last 2 years have been spent as a family of five. Navigating yet again our new normal. Zoe has been home almost two years that fact alone is crazy. I was driving Zoe and two of her friends home from camp the other day and they were asking me questions about Zoe and her sweet little bestie said, ” I remember the day she landed at the airport.” I agreed and said, “Can you believe that was almost two years ago?!” The other friend giggled and said, “It just seems like Zoe’s always been here.” I loved hearing that from those sweet little girls because I feel the same way. Last year on her first Gotcha Day I was shocked and thrilled, “We made it a year! Phew!”. It was like the first year was hard but we all survived and she thrived. Now, coming up on two years Im feeling more like her friends: its like she’s always been here. Our schedule of Doctor appoints have slowed down, she’s learning ASL so fast and she’s just flourishing! The boys too; they are great and they are learning, growing and changing. It’s not always pretty but that’s just reality.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been 2 years

I was reading a book called A FIERCE LOVE and she talked a lot about the Ebenezer stones and how it was used in her life to remind her that “This far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12-14) and I just loved that. I look back on the last five years and I can see the hand of God with us so often. Last year we drove a motorhome to Utah and stopped along the way at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. As I stood and marveled over the beauty and art that is within that amazing canyon and saw my little family doing the same I cried happy little tears, and thought, ” This moment is significant. Look at us. This little family. Look at what the Lord has done.” Titus being our family hoarder or collector whatever you want to call it, picked up a pinecone and it made its way home with us where it sits right next to our change jar by the sink. I love seeing it there because it reminds me of that moment. So then on a recent trip to the beach I had the same feeling, looking out to the ocean seeing my four people laughing, swimming and just being a family that same thought came to me, “This is significant.” And Titus being Titus found a really neat piece of coral he asked if he could keep it and my first thought was NO! ( we just cleaned out his room and the last thing he needed to do was bring home more rocks!) but then I remembered the thought of the ebenezer stone and the significance of “This far the Lord has helped us” and said yes. So now this cool coral sits next to the pinecone where I can see it and be reminded that even in these quick passing days, weeks and years, He has done a mighty work and it is so significant.

Now whats coming up?! That leaves me feeling a bit anxious. Im not sure what is coming up; we have some big family adventures planned but really we are just chugging along so you know next week all 3 kids will be off to college!

Our “Ebenezer” stones…sorta