March 30, 2017

A Letter to my Boys



Dear Jack and Ryan,

For some odd reason, I always knew I'd have boys. I'm pretty sure I told your dad before we were even pregnant with Jack that I was going to be a boy mom, and then when we found out we were having a boy, I was not surprised. And I wasn't all that surprised when I found out we were having a boy the second time around.

I loved the idea of raising up boys, of being a boy mom.

I loved the idea of brothers. My brother never had a brother, and he always wanted one.

And I just think, what you two have is such a gift. Sometimes I feel like an outsider as I watch the two of you interact, scheming a plan, building things with your lego, running around our 770 square foot home as you just laugh and laugh and laugh.

You love each other deeply, this I know, even amidst the tears and the pain of having to share your toys and share your time with us, there is so much joy.

And as I set up your little table on the deck, and as you two climbed up onto your little chairs to eat your dinner, I just sat back and watched.

And the view was beautiful.

The pair of you sat there eating your dinner and laughing and talking about the day as your little feet touched under the table.

And it was such a beautiful sight to behold.

You both have grown so much and it's such a gift to see you two together.

You two get so excited to see each other and squeal upon being reunited.

I always knew I wanted more than one child, but I don't think I ever envisioned what it would be like as a parent to watch your relationship develop.

Who knows what the future holds for the pair of you, but I pray you continue to delight in each other.

And I also pray it's filled with so much joy and laughter, so much laughter.

Love,

Your Mama

March 28, 2017

Chance Encounters.

Do you ever have chance encounters with people where you can see God's hand in that encounter?

I had one of those at the grocery store recently. 

I took Ryan to the store one Saturday afternoon, and left my oldest, Jack, at home with the husband.

And we were grabbing eggs while he was chowing down on his banana, when a fellow mama, with her four year old strapped in the cart, struck up a conversation about just how fast the time goes.

We stood in the aisle for what felt like ages as people walked past us. And we just swapped stories about our kids and their ages and what a gift motherhood is. We talked about the struggles and how hard it is, how different each stage is, how she has a 6 year old too and it's easier now that she's so independent.

It was beautiful and good.

And it left me thinking, why don't I have more chance encounters like this with my fellow mamas? I see them there pushing their kids up and down the aisles in those carts. I see them rushing through their list so they can pay for the food and get the food and their kids back in the car! 

Anyhow, as this fellow mama and I parted ways, I realized I didn't even catch her name!!

But guess what? God redeemed that situation. Come Sunday morning, we woke up later than we normally do, so we ended up going to the 9:30 church service rather than the 8:00. And guess who we ran into? The fellow mama at the grocery store, and I finally got her name - Valerie. It was her family's first time coming to Bethany Community Church and it just so happened to be on the Sunday we had slept in!

And I was so surprised to see her there, but when I really thought about it, I wasn't. And she just said to me, "And sometimes, you just know. You don't even have to say it, but you just know."

And I thought, so true right? You never know who you might be encountering or entertaining.

There are opportunities for those chance encounters all around us. May we have eyes to see Him in them and courageous hearts to respond.


March 27, 2017

Living in the Tension


So we've been back from Ireland for 6 weeks now, and I'm finally getting around to sitting down to write.

That journey home feels like such a blur. Kind of reminds me of childbirth, the farther away you are from the trauma, the less you remember and the more you want to do it all over again! My hats off to all of you who travel internationally with young children (read my post about it)! All I can say is wow. This isn't our first rodeo, but still...wow. I'm thinking it's easier now that they're a bit older - 2 and 4, and I'm thinking it's going to get even easier as they get older? Right?

What a blessed time it was! We were there for my sister in law's wedding and we officially welcomed Murphy Okuonghae into the Drennan fold. Murphy's originally from Nigeria, but he was given an Irish name at birth. I suppose he was destined to end up in Dublin and married to an Irish woman. God is so faithful and so good.  

And I just have to say I think this most recent trip to Ireland was our best trip yet. I don't think either of us could really tell you why exactly, but it just was. The time together was so incredibly rich and so good. So many good conversations were had with each other and with others. And I always learn so much about myself and my husband when we're there, and I love that.

But I find that EVERY single time we journey to the Emerald Isle, my Irish husband and I always have a conversation, quite often initiated and led by me, about how I don't fit in there, how I'm different, how I'll never fit into the Irish culture, and it always ends with the husband stating that he too feels like he doesn't fit in there anymore nor does he feel like he fully fits in in the states. It's always such a hard conversation to have, an emotional one, that lends itself to tears and the baring of souls, but it's always so very good as we figure out how to live in the tension of it all.

And quite often this conversation happens at the halfway point of our trip. I spend the first half adjusting to the time difference and the culture. I find myself disengaging and holding back as I navigate how exactly my Americanisms fit into the fold of the Irish culture, while watching my husband wrestle with living in the tension of his Irish family and his American one.

And then a week in, I have my identity crisis and my emotional breakdown about how I'm different, which then leads me to question who am I apart from my culture? Am I the way I am because of my culture? Or am I the way I am because God created me this way? And how am I living into the woman God has called me to be right at this moment in time, in this culture that is different than mine?

And once I ask myself that last question, I'm able to fully engage, and fully be me, which simply means my curiosity runs rampant, and you better be ready and willing to receive (and hopefully answer) alot of questions about yourself, your relationships, your family, your culture, your faith. 

And I don't know if anyone else notices this, but I do. I can feel it in my heart. The first week, I navigate culture, I navigate how I fit into it and I question if I fit into it, and the second week, I embrace the fact that I don't and I never will and I'm okay with that. I am different, and I will forever be different, and I embrace that difference.

And I think I'm getting better at embracing it earlier on and engaging sooner. Maybe it doesn't take me a week anymore? Maybe it's less. I hope it's less because the benefits of that engagement are so good and the conversations so rich. And I see that now, and maybe that's why our time there was so good this trip.

I think we're getting better at living in the tension, at finding the beauty in the tension, at bringing others into that tension. And I always leave feeling as though I have a better understanding of myself, my husband, his family, his culture, and our God.

And I just left there so thankful for my family, for the cross cultural marriages on both sides that provide me with so much insight into the world that surrounds me and grants me such a richer perspective of life and culture and opens my eyes to see how we're shaped by it.

When Peter and I were married 7.5 years ago, I never would have dreamed that anyone else in the family would be living in this same tension and walking the path of a cross cultural marriage, but here we are, and we're 3 for 3 (3 people married and all 3 marriages are cross cultural - Irish/Nigerian, American/Colombian, Irish/American)!

And yes, this cross cultural marriage thing is beautiful, but it's hard... I'm not going to lie. And it's sad to always have someone coming and going and to have goodbyes and see you laters be a part of your everyday life, and I know what that sacrifice looks like firsthand but when God calls you to someone you hold fast to that call and you respond in obedience and the joy is simply indescribable. And it's such a blessing to see how God has already used our cross cultural marriage and the lessons learned about each other and our cultures to minister to the heart of our siblings and their spouses.

And as we wrestle with the way we've been changed and transformed by our life experiences, by the meshing of cultures, by our cross cultural marriage, and as we wrestle with where we fit and if we will ever fully fit in anywhere, and as we navigate how to live in that tension, we are reminded that this place is not our home.

Heaven is our home

And that is where we fit. And there is so much freedom and so much peace in that.

He is good. He is faithful, and my life is forever richer for my marriage, for the combining of cultures.

And I will be forever grateful for the gift and the reminder that we are ALL called to live in the tension of cultures, of Heaven and Earth.

March 21, 2017

A Time for Everything.

 

If we've learned anything this past year and a half it's that there truly is a time for everything.

And I don't think Ecclesiastes 3 has ever rang more true for us.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Just like Ecclesiastes 3 says, There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to tear down and a time to build and alot of time for everything in between. 

Let's just say 2016 was filled with lots of weeping and mourning (and dancing and laughing, but this post is going to focus more on the weeping and mourning) and I'm realizing that as a culture, we're not very good with creating space for mourning and allowing those who are mourning to just be comforted by our presence rather than our words. Time and time again Peter has heard, it's okay, it will get better, 2017 will be a different year for you. You're so talented and you have such great skills, someone will hire you! Just keep the faith, just stay positive, but the reality is, some days are really hard, and some days it's really hard to stay positive, to have an eternal perspective, and I've come to realize that it's hard for me to sit with him in his grief, to take it upon my shoulders too to grieve with him.

In fact, there was one day months ago, where he found out he didn't get a job, or maybe it was 2 different jobs, and he called me at work devastated and I just figured I'd come home and he'd be over it. I mean he had about 4 hours to process it and mourn and grieve, and that should be sufficient time right? Well how wrong was I! 

And we had a conversation that night about mourning and grief and our families and how culture may play a part in how I create or don't create space for mourning, or perhaps it may just be my family? or maybe it's just me? And we talked about how I responded to him and his grief in such an ugly and dishonoring way, those were my words. 

My husband is so very eloquent and it's been beautiful to see how God uses him in such a mighty way to humbly call me out on my stuff, to hold me accountable to a higher way of being. And this was one of those moments. Peter shared how my reaction to his grief hurt him deeply but what I loved was he also shared how I could respond in a more effective and honoring way in the future. He told me how he felt and he told me what he needed, and you guys, my mind was blown! 

And he shared it all as an analogy. He said, today, I'm like a boxer that's been knocked down in a ring and I'm just lying flat out on the floor. And you're my trainer, and I don't want you to start talking to me about my next fight yet. Today, I need you to get in the ring and lay down on the floor with me. I need you to tend to my wounds and help me recover.  Today, I need you to mourn and grieve with me, and tomorrow, you can talk to me about getting up off the floor and moving on to the next fight.

You guys, I've learned so much in this season about mourning and creating space for grief.

Mathew 5:4 states, Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

And friends, there's so much truth to that.

When you mourn, you will be comforted. And He promises to meet you in that place of mourning.

He promises to make all things beautiful.

Yet, I can't help but wonder if we believe those promises. Because if we really believed and trusted in those promises, then I think we'd be better at creating space for mourning and grief.

And I can't help but wonder, as a culture do we do that? Do we create space for mourning and grief? Or do we just want to problem solve and spout out words of encouragement and support?

Have faith! Keep trying! Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and carry on! You're so talented, you'll find a job soon!

These are all things Peter heard constantly, and while those words are really nice and affirming and very American, the words he really needed to hear were...I know this is really hard. And I'm sorry you're in this season. Know that I sit with you in your grief. Know that I'm mourning with you. Know that I'm crying out to the Lord on your behalf!

Again, I ask the question, Why do we feel the need to problem solve and spout out words of encouragement and support? Why is it so hard for us to just sit and wipe the tears from their eyes and wrap our arms around those who are grieving? Why is it so hard for us to recognize that sometimes saying nothing says everything?

Ecclesiastes 3 is such a beautiful reminder to me that amidst whatever time you find yourself in, He is in your midst. May you have eyes to see Him and ears to hear Him.

May you trust His promises and may you mourn and dance and weep and laugh, while remembering just how good He is. 

And may you never forget that He makes all the mourning and the grieving beautiful in His time.

March 20, 2017

Minimalism

You guys, I watched the best documentary on Netflix a few nights ago (Thanks Dad for your netflix password!) - Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things.


Anyhow, let's just say I was shouting, yes, yes, yes throughout the whole documentary. I love their thoughts and comments on all the stuff we accumulate without really thinking about it. And I literally paused the movie in the middle of it and grabbed a garbage bag and started throwing things from my closet into it, coats I haven't worn in months, shoes that never touch my feet, clothes that never get put on my body, and the list went on.

And you guys, we have a small home, and somehow we still have stuff we don't use or wear and don't get me started on the stuff in the garage.

And if I'm honest, every time Peter talks about a bigger home, I find myself getting anxious. I love our tiny house. (You can read more about my love here!) Truly, I do. I love being on top of each other. I love how often I purge things. I love how it forces me to be a minimalist. I love the lack of clutter. I love that every single item has a home, even my boys know this.

So many of our things have purpose and I don't get attached to things easily. I am quick to let things go if they don't serve a purpose, which makes me think, when was the last time I used our waffle maker?

And the reality is, you can't take your stuff with you when you die!

So friends, I ask these questions.

How do you define success? Is it in your things?

Everyone wants meaning in their lives. And does your stuff give you meaning? Are you tied to your stuff?

Are you being deliberate with everything you do and everything you buy? Are the items you're buying adding value to your life?

Do you desire financial freedom? And if so, are you making steps toward that? What would you have to do in order to have more of it? What choices would you have to make? And are you willing to make them?

You may not have have control over how much you make, but you do have control over how you spend what you make. And this has been so true for us in this low income season. We have become so deliberate with the things we do and the things we buy - do we need it, do we not, if we get it, what should we get rid of, do we have space for it, etc.

And if I'm honest, that deliberation has truly provided us with so much financial freedom, freedom to not be stressed about finances during this season because we have slashed our expenses even more than we thought possible, so much so that we have just been spending what we earn, and we haven't really had to touch our savings, and it probably helps that our mortgage payment is just $1380 a month. And yes, our house is small, but right now, I'd rather have a smaller home, then a bigger mortgage.

This is your one and only life...consider how you want to live it? And make steps toward that. If that means downsizing, then downsize. If that means selling a car, then sell a car. If that means paying off debt, then do that. If that means not going out to eat or not buying that daily coffee fix or that lunch so that you can pay off the debt, then do that! If that means clearing your house out of unused stuff, then clear the house out! How many extra towels and extra bed sheets do you really need, right?? And don't get me started on all the toys we accumulate over time!

We make the choices and we build the life, and I know it's hard to unbuild it, in order to rebuild it, but it can be done. And don't let that stop you!

March 14, 2017

A Small Home

Peter met with our realtor a few weeks ago to talk about our future home possibilities. And they talked about things like...Do we stay where we are and remodel? Do we sell and buy somewhere else? Do we sell and rent somewhere for a bit? Do we sell and move in with my parents?

So many options.

And he shared those options with me.

And I kindly reminded him that I love our small home, and I'm happy with it just as it is (can't you tell), for now at least.


And I admit, I'm not very good at forward thinking and planning for the future, my husband is though, and I'm sure there will come a time where I'll say, okay fine, another bedroom would be nice or even a second bathroom. Let's be honest, I've definitely said that now especially when we have family visiting from out of the country or when the boys are crying at night and walking each other up.

But most days I love our small home.

And yes, our house is tiny compared to the majority of our friend's homes, but it's a home, and it's ours.

And yes, it's only 770 sq ft. - 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. And this month marks six years of living in this small space. And when we bought it, I remember telling Peter, if we're still here in 5 years, then our 5 year plan hasn't gone according to plan. And I laugh thinking about that statement now because we're still here.

And yes, our living space is small, but we have a big yard, a covered deck, and an oversized garage, and a few months ago we hosted Jack's birthday party at our house and over 30 guests filled our home.

We don't have a ton of toys, we don't have a ton of clothes, we just don't have a ton of stuff because we just don't have the space for it.

And I love that.

I love that I can hear my kids anywhere in the house. 

I love that we get outside every single day and we're always getting in the car and going places - to the gym, to the library, to friends houses with lots of cool toys!

I love that we don't have to babyproof anything because I always know what they're getting into and where they are.

I love how small our mortgage payment is, especially in the season of underemployment as our income was the lowest it has ever been. 

And I'm so thankful we made the decision we did six years ago to buy less house.

And I loved this article on the Becoming Minimalist blog, Less House.

And I completely agree with Joshua Becker's thoughts on the benefits of living in a smaller home: "less expense, less worry, less upkeep—more time, more money, more freedom, and more opportunity."

It's really true what he says, "Your biggest expense is your greatest opportunity." 

It truly is our biggest expense and our greatest opportunity, as a smaller home offers you so much more financial freedom.

And I love that freedom. And because of our small home and our smaller mortgage payment (not to mention God's grace), we were able to survive living on an income of $3,600 a month! And what a journey it was!

Here's to our small home and our small mortgage payment, and greater financial freedom in the months and years ahead. And it probably helps that Ryan's still sleeping in his mini crib in the closet.

(Come back to me after we add a third child to the mix someday and then see if I still feel the same way about our small home!!!)

March 13, 2017

What I've Read Lately {February}




In February I somehow managed to read 5 books. I loved Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. So good. I learned so much about South Africa and the racial divide. If you're looking for a really quick read, then check out the Couple Next Door.

 Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I loved this book and I would definitely recommend it, unless you don't find Trevor Noah funny, then maybe stay away from it? It's extremely informative and educational, yet he's a really good storyteller and he's funny. And I'm still left wondering how he ended up where he is today after the start he had.


Goodreads blurb, "The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love."

The Mayor of Mogadishu: a story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding

This book was really interesting, and I learned alot about Somalia. So if you're interested in learning about a different country, then give it a go, but if not, then I wouldn't recommend it. 

Goodreads blurb, "In The Mayor of Mogadishu, one of the BBC’s most experienced foreign correspondents, Andrew Harding, reveals the tumultuous life of Mohamoud “Tarzan” Nur - an impoverished nomad who was abandoned in a state orphanage in newly independent Somalia, and became a street brawler and activist. When the country collapsed into civil war and anarchy, Tarzan and his young family became part of an exodus, eventually spending twenty years in north London. But in 2010 Tarzan returned, as Mayor, to the unrecognizable ruins of a city now almost entirely controlled by the Islamist militants of Al Shabab. For many in Mogadishu, and in the diaspora, Tarzan became a galvanizing symbol of courage and hope for Somalia. But for others, he was a divisive thug, who sank beneath the corruption and clan rivalries that continue, today, to threaten the country’s revival. The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare an insider’s account of Somalia’s unraveling, and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey."

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

You guys I read this entire book on one of our flights back from Ireland! And you better believe I was pretty thrilled when the boys fell asleep as it meant more reading time for me. It has been ages since I've done this though, finished a book in one setting. I mean when was the last time I had 5 hours to just read an entire book? Anyhow, read it, I think you'll like it, especially if you like Gone Girl or Girl on a Train or the others I recommended last month.


Goodreads blurb, "Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing. You never know what's happening on the other side of the wall. Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour. Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone. You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there. What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?"

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue 

This was okay, I think I liked Room better. I was interested in finding out what was really happening, but I definitely didn't speed through it like The Couple Next Door. It was well written, but I didn't like it enough to recommend it. 

Goodreads blurb, "In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life. Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl. Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil. The latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room."

The Trespasser by Tana French 

I liked this book, it felt a little long at 450 pages, but I enjoyed the storyline and you probably would too!


Goodreads blurb, "A new novel from the New York Times bestselling author. Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point. Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before. And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette's road. Aislinn's friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be. Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?"

 Books for June // July // August // September // October // November // December // January

March 10, 2017

Jack Emmet: 4 years



Little Buddy by month 
1 // 2 // // 4 // 5 // // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13 // 14 // 15 // 16 // 17 // 18 // 

You // You are such a little boy these days! You love playing superheroes and having powers and you love playing on your own.

Growing // At your 4 year checkup, which happened about a month after your birthday, you weighed 37 lbs 9.6 oz (61st percentile) and you measured 39.75 inches (32nd percentile). It's crazy to think you've only gained a few lbs since your 3 year checkup, but I laugh because people are always commenting on how heavy you are compared to their kids around your age. :)

Eating + Sleeping // You love breakfast! You wake up wanting breakfast, and quite often you eat multiple bowls of rice chex for breakfast. You love eggs and toast and quesadillas and bananas and you've started eating apples and carrots and ranch. You love sweet potato fries and burgers and pasta! And you love pizza!

We try to get you to bed by 7 PM these days and you are normally up by 6:30/7. You literally bounce out of bed and request that everyone bounce out of bed the same way as you. Dada and Ryan could just lay in bed for hours after waking up, okay maybe not hours, but they don't have the same bounce as you do. Perhaps that's because Ryan's still in his crib? And he can't just get out! Regardless, you come into our room declaring, "Mama get up! Get up mama!!" Over and over and over again, until I reluctantly pull back the blankets and place my feet on the cold hardwood floors.

You dropped your nap a few months ago, which I was reluctant to let go of, but now you just go to bed earlier at night and it's probably for the best. Before you go to bed, we read books, and cuddle on the bed, and then walk you across the hall to your room, and quite often, your little voice says mama lay down. And I do until you fall asleep. You start off in your bed, but sometime in the middle of the night you roam into our room and we walk you back to your bedroom and do it all over again.

Nicknames // We still call you Jackie alot, and I've started calling you pup.

Wearing // The majority of your clothes are 4T. Your shoe size is a 9/10. You love picking out your clothes in the morning and getting dressed. You're really particular with what you wear and you have these black Nike shoes that you just love and this black coat with finger holes that tutu bought you that you'd wear every single day if I let you. The funny thing is that the coat is a size 2T so it really should be in Ryan's closet. And you really love wearing hoodies and your paw patrol shirts I bought you for your birthday. And you LOVE jeans! I had to buy you a few pairs of jeans for Christmas so you'd have more than 2 pairs to wear as you'd have a little emotional breakdown when I'd inform you that your jeans were in the dirty laundry basket. There have been a few instances where you've taken the clothes out of the basket in search of said dirty jeans. Bless you child. You are determined! And you know exactly what you like in regards to clothes.

Loving // You love when we give you attention, but you also love when we leave you alone. Sometimes you even say, I want to play on my own mama! You love superheroes and power rangers and anything with powers. You love playing make believe. You love books and lego and little lego guys and play do and coloring. You really love creating things. You love paw patrol and jumping off the table onto the couch. You love video chats and stickers. And you love watching YouTube Kids and these random home videos of transformers and things. It's hilarious! You LOVE being outside and riding your bike. And you love dressing up in costumes and pretending. And you LOVE being around people. And you love babies, so much.

Loathing // You don't really like when we tell you what to do! And you really don't like when Ryan plays with something you're playing with.

Doing // You are dressing yourself and undressing yourself! And helping with chores around the house. Excusing yourself from the table and clearing your place at the table and washing dishes and putting your dishes in the dishwasher. And you're pretty good at cleaning up your toys and putting things away. Everything has a place in this house and you know exactly where that place is and always remark when something is in the wrong spot!

Milestones // First time throwing up on an airplane! And first trip to the ER in another state! First time being a shepherd.

Words/Phrases // One Minute, Never say that, It's giving me a hard time, You're not being nice, Sorry! Love you mama, Love you dada, love you Ry Guy. Where us going today mama? What planet are we on?


















March 7, 2017

It is Finished

Just wanted to thank you all for following along with us in this job journey. What a journey it has been! I left for MOPS early this morning as the husband was awaiting the phone call, which we assumed was to talk with him further about the job. And as I was sitting down with the women at my table, I received a text from Peter with the below photo that said "Dada got the job!" I gasped and just praised God, Thank you Jesus! There's so much I want to say, but words just feel so insufficient right now. We are so overwhelmed with gratitude and pray that He has been honored and glorified through us in this journey. May you come to know His goodness and His faithfulness and His mercy in your own life and may our story somehow encourage your own. I can't wait to share with you all the details of this journey and of the past 2 weeks. He has shown Himself in so many ways, and I'm thankful for the eyes to see His hand in everything. He makes all things beautiful, and this journey is so beautiful. I invite you to rejoice with us as we will be doing some serious rejoicing in our house tonight!



And here are the other posts I've posted in the past week relating to this job. Part One, Part Two, Part Three. And it's funny that I even posted about this job in particular as I haven't done that with any of the husband's previous interviews. We just knew. It felt so different.

And the final installment.

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Jesus said "It is finished"

At 9AM this morning, our world spun on itself. The phone call we have waited on for 18 months arrived, the call we fell on our knees for, the call we cried, yelled and screamed for arrived. Today, I was offered a job for an organization that I am super stoked about. To say I am thrilled is the understatement of the millennium. To say I am humbled by all of your prayers and for God's reckless love is also an understatement.

This is an org that seems to perfectly fit my skills, knowledge, and passion. My first love was forests, and my first passion was environmental causes. Today, I come home, today I get to join a team seeking to certify 1 Billion acres of forest land as being sustainably managed. The implications for people, and planet are profound. This is such a good fit, a fit forged in 18 months of seeking and praying, a fit that almost did not happen. I could have stopped searching and given up on my dream, and taken a recent offer to fertilize grass for a living...But It felt like there was something else out there...something better. This job was actually closed when I applied, but by God's grace it was mistakenly kept posted online...and by God's grace my app was too good for them to not take a second look at, position closed or not!

Today, I cry, and I laugh as I look back and I see God's hands all over this past 18 months as well as this whole application process. From the moment I saw this job, everything felt different. It felt like this was it, could it be? Dare we dream again? They wanted an interview within HOURS of seeing my application. Dare we dream? Friends said I was perfect for this job. Dare we dream? We saw the FSC logo everywhere. Dare we dream? We fasted, God moved the process forward. Dare we dream? Breaking our fast, and at that exact moment our favourite David Crowder song comes on Spotify. Dare we dream? They want an in person interview - I nailed it, dare we dream? They want references? Dare we dream? I really want this job. Dare we dream? Today, no need to dream, it has happened!

There are moments over this past 18 months that will live with us forever. Getting prayer at church and crying as we desperately wanted God's eyes, and to understand his plan. Learning to let go of our career and hold on to Jesus. The generosity of friends, sending us letters of encouragement, even money out of the blue. The deep love of my wife, the time with my precious boys. The lessons learned about sharing and opening up our hearts to friends. What it feels like to to be low income, to depend on benefits and minimum wage. The love of our family. The hours spent with my life coach and friend, and the new way of being we dreamed up. The countless times at church when our pastor told us about God's love for us, about His presence even in hard times, about our worth being in Him and not what we do. The sermon series about Moses in the desert. Living simply, and within our new means and finding a new way to be - discounts people! The close calls, and near misses.

We are so grateful for you, and all that you have done for us through your presence in our life. It has been a wild ride, thanks for riding with us.

Blessings and love,

Peter, Malia, Jack, and Ryan.

Reading Recap for 2016

People are always asking me for book recommendations and the question I always ask them is, What's your favorite book? What genre do you even like? See, I read everything more or less, but I can tell you right now, I love a good historical fiction and I love a good memoir and I love a good romance.



I figured what better way to recap my year in books than this above image from goodreads. I thought 60 books in a year was going to be an unattainable goal, but when I think about it, I think the goal was originally 50, and then I realized I was going to surpass that goal in like October, so I adjusted it accordingly. Needless to say, my goal for 2017 is to read 65 books!  We will see how that pans out.

And I'm sure some of you are thinking, how in the world does she manage to read that many books in a year, I can hardly read 10 books a year or even 1 book a year. And I just want to say now (if you don't know it already), I LOVE to read. I'm never not reading a book. And if I love the book, then I want to talk about the book as I want everyone else to go read the book. I've always been like that, even when I was a little girl. I remember my dad always telling me to put my book away on car rides and to look out the window at the world that was passing me by as my head was buried deep in my book. And I hate to admit it, but this still happens, except it's not my dad saying it anymore, but rather my husband. And I even remember winning a book contest in like elementary school for most pages read in the school year, and you better believe I was always getting free pizzas at Pizza Hut through the BookIt program. Do they even do that anymore? I digress.

Anyhow, I read all the time, every chance I get. I read when I brush my teeth or when I dry or curl my hair. I read when I'm washing dishes, as I swipe left on my kindle with my wet fingers. I read when I put Jack to bed, as he insists we lie down with him, and I dim the kindle light as low as it will go and bury myself beneath a blanket. I read anytime we go in the car anywhere, even if it's like a 5 minute drive. I read at the gym as I'm running on the treadmill or doing my thing on the elliptical (we joined the YMCA in August, and that's probably why I read so many books last year!!) Needless to say my kindle is always with me, and it's really rare that you'll see me reading an actual book with pages these days simply because of the ease of the kindle. I know, it's terrible right? And I NEVER buy books, I'm always checking out the ebooks from the Seattle Public Library. Get a library card you guys. This is the best thing ever!

And when I think back to my favorite books from 2016, I definitely have a few standouts. And I thought I'd share them with you!

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Confess by Colleen Hoover - I really like Colleen Hover if you're looking for a quick read!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult- but I really like alot of Jodi Picoult's books.

Me Before you by Jojo Moyes

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Quiet: The power of Introverts in a World that Won't stop Talking by Susan Cain - I LOVED this book, I still talk about this book and I could definitely see myself reading it again someday.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown

I really enjoyed I let you go by Clare Mackintosh, as well as the More of Less and Essentialism and Scary Close by Donald Miller and Americanah but I didn't give them 5 stars.

And some other authors that I really enjoy are Lisa Genova and Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah. If you haven't read the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, you need to read it right NOW!