Category Archives: Empty Nest

Weekend check in…I mean literally… we checked in somewhere…<3

Well, I haven’t done one of these photo journal things in a while.

I totally skipped a Christmas recap because this year I just didn’t take that many pictures and on the heels of the whole 24 day countdown with Luke, it didn’t seem appropriate.

But we took advantage of the MLK holiday and took the band of brothers and little miss thing to a hotel with a pool and it was such insane fun, I figured it might brighten your day as much as it did ours…so here we go…

These kids were all in and we had only planned to take the boys, but someone packed her Minnie Mouse suitcase and was not going to be denied.

We told mom and dad we would keep her as long as she was willing to stay and girlfriend was 100% committed.

Please note the poor man on the elevator trying to get off with his cleaning cart.

Good luck with that, sir and you may want to just take that cart back up to floor two because we most likely will be needing your services.

This crew makes themselves at home wherever they land. We got settled in and….

returned the the cart promptly with help…

We swam and ordered pizza…

which mom and dad joined us for extra hands.

Please note a couple things…the fancy party supplies..which covered a variety of holidays.

And you can see by my hair that everyone was very attentive to my pleas that Lola’s hair not get wet…yeah…right….

After pizza there was another dip in the pool and then more carbs and games…

I manned the cootie board while Papi and Graham played yahtzee…

We watched the end of the Packers/49er’s game with deep reverence for Lola.

Joel laid next to me and cheered to the bitter end with encouragement like “Come on Packers, you can do this! Win it for Lola!!!”

They didn’t.

Let’s not talk about it right now, ok?

We had stories and a blessed quiet settled.

We were concerned about Caroline being away from mommy for the night but her little mess of hair settled right in to a deep sleep and although she called out a couple of times she settled quickly and sprang into action the next morning because…

she knew there was a second swim suit in her bag for round #2 and she was adamant she needed to swim again.

Mommy and Daddy came by to say good morning while we ate breakfast and mom headed off to work while dad helped us pack up. He was taking them to a trampoline park so we came along for the grins and giggles and jumps…

Small-but-fierce decided she could do the climbing wall “all by myself”…

and it was all cute until things got real…

No worries…she survived her dismount kinda upside down and her dad was laughing so hard in that kind of nervous adrenaline rush way we have…oh my gosh…she’s a force to be reckoned with.

We bid our goodbyes and thanked the good Lord He gives us children when we are young…and we are still smiling from yet another….

Best. Day. Ever.


That “be careful little eyes” thing may need a revisit <3

Good morning to you and happy Friday!

When our three were little, we loved (or at least I did…) to read a book called “The Big Snow”. 

It was just a paperback picture story about a town preparing for the forecasted snow that was to come overnight. 

Children were anticipating a snow day, people were stocking up on books to read and games to play and one little critter was baking apple pies. There was a quiet and calm to it all as the snow gently fell and in the morning the regularly scheduled programming was canceled as the neighborhood had a reprieve from daily duties and enjoyed nestling in. As I remember there was sledding involved and some pie sharing and it left you feeling cozy and longing for a good old fashioned day off from school. 

But in reality we know that a snow storm and inclement weather do not mean everyone gets to stay tucked in nice and safe. Road workers are out tending the highways, utility people are risking their lives to make sure lines are up and running. Businesses don’t stop and the challenges of the weather can make life a nightmare for logistics. Hospitals are still caring for the sick and the people who deliver the weather updates have to get to the station. And if school is canceled, all these working parents are scrambling for day care options. 

There is a huge difference between the safety zone for children and the reality of life on planet earth and somewhere in the past decade or two we have forgotten to buffer things for those tender minds and hearts that are not quite ready to deal with the concerns we adults face with an arsenal of experiences and mistakes made and lessons learned that gradually moved us from childhood to adulthood. 

I remember vividly going to the video store and trying to shield our little one’s eyes from the covers of some of the choices available as I tried to find something we could all watch together on a Friday evening. It was shocking to me to see families where kiddos younger than ours were eliminating R rated films because they had already seen them…sigh…

Recently we had a Sunday afternoon football game on as our crew was visiting and playing with toys in our family room. A commercial came on repeatedly for a show called “Evil” (I don’t mean to judge, but seriously?) and a man would hiss into the face of a terrified woman the plans he had to destroy her four daughters. Of course, we turned it off because the game was not worth the fear that could have been induced. And yes, I realize that football in itself is not exactly a non-violent sport…so don’t start a debate with me on that one, puh-leeze. 

My point is that there seems to be a sense that this is the world these kids live in so the sooner they are exposed, the better prepared they will be. I would argue that this is rather counter to all common sense. 

Our Caroline has a strong aversion to meat at this point in her life. She prefers carbs in all forms and a little sugar thrown in for good measure. So we don’t put a big hunk of steak on her little pink princess plate and expect her to eat it. Her tummy and her baby teeth and tongue and mouth are not ready for that. Instead, her parents carefully assess her food intake and make sure she gets her protein and vitamins and necessary nutrients as they carefully attempt to introduce her to meats and vegetables. 

Oh … and they pray…alot…that she will learn to eat the foods she will need as she grows and matures. 

It’s evident in other areas as well.

You don’t teach your children to swim by throwing them in a shark tank. You don’t teach them to ride a bike by putting them on a motorcycle. You don’t teach them to read by handing them Moby Dick. 

We need to be as protective and careful to guard the hearts and minds of our children. We cannot blindly accept what the culture is shoving into our homes.

To do so is not taking the responsibility for the care of young people. I am not suggesting we take on the culture but rather that we, as followers of Christ, consider well what we are watching and reading and promoting and accepting in each of our homes and lives. It takes a little extra time and effort to search out what is good and pure and beautiful, but it is worth it.

There are so many young parents who feel alone as they continue to attempt to help their children gradually figure out the harder parts of life. And yes, some children are being exposed to the reality in doses that would make us reel.

Our role as adults is to take care of the problems and to carefully and responsibly allow our children to learn and grow and mature at a pace that they can handle. I don’t see how we can do this without diligence and love and a ton of prayer. 

Not sure where that came from…not sure who needs to hear it…but there you go. 

Your word of exhortation for Friday <3 

Be blessed…make an apple pie…it’s gonna snow at least here in our neck of the woods. Prayers for safety for those who have to be out and about <3

Good day for a group hug <3

Just some gentle words for you today because the start of 2020 has been a bit of a challenge here and I would suppose I am not alone in this. 

First of all, the world is just upside down. It really always has been, we just are noticing it more and more. 

Politics are a mess…people who were supposed to be doing what they said they would do, haven’t and everyone is clamoring to be heard. The news is more like a bunch of posturing and opinionated celebrities who would be sent to their rooms in a decent home for talking the way talk and interrupting one another. 

The weather is wild. Right now the sun is shining in through our rain-spattered, tiny-finger-print smeared windows but I know for a fact it is quite cold out there. 

Yesterday was so gloomy and gray and humid and just a tad too warm for January. 

We are not sure what tomorrow will bring on this roller coaster of climate change. 

And I am recovering from yet another virus thing. 

Tuesday was a great day of healing and yesterday I nose-dived again into complete exhaustion. My sweet husband has been so patient with me as I go from feeling better to not in a vicious cycle the past few weeks.

Today is better so far…so I am alternating working productively with sitting and resting. 

I don’t rest well when I have been resting for long enough that the piles on the counter and tables are causing me anxiety attacks. 

So how about you?

How has 2020 been treating you these first 16 days?

I hope if it is sapping you that you have people to love you through. I hope if you are sensing the turmoil out there that you are finding safe harbors to rest and refresh and renew your soul and your spirit. 

I pray for you warm bowls of soup and cups of coffee or tea or cocoa…or whatever you sip while you study and read and rest. 

I urge you to set a time to stop at the end of the day and read something or knit something or draw or watch a game (but please…mute and look away on the commercials because, have mercy…those can be rather unsettling.)

If you don’t have someone reaching out to comfort you, think of someone you can do that for because maybe God is getting your attention to be His hands and feet. 

I pray right now for you – YOU…if you stopped by here and made it this far, I pray for peace in your heart and assurance that God is in control. No matter what the world, the weather, your health or the kitchen counter looks like right now – He is sovereign. He will give you the strength to heal. to serve, to grow, to thrive…and to rest when you need to. 

blessings…and I will catch you tomorrow…same place…maybe same time? We shall see <3

Being in the right place <3

Do you ever run into themes in your days? 

If it was all based on current sermon series and articles going around, I could blame it on some kind of “trending” thing within the church culture, but currently I am reading a book written in 2016, listened to teaching from a seminar held in 2012, heard a couple of podcast sermons from this summer, the sermon at our own church last Sunday and have been hit numerous times with the same message from devotionals that were gleaned from the writings of people long gone and all of them are referring to “rhythms of grace.”

And all of these use the example of Jesus, who moved continuously between opportunities of intense hands on ministry and quiet places of solitude. 

The teaching pastor last Sunday was Brian Talty and he talked about how Jesus left places of successful preaching, teaching and healing because of obedience. He referenced it as the “I must…” and it resonates with other things I am reading and ways God has spoken to me in my own life. 

Though people begged Him to stay in places, He would move according to the direction of His Father saying, “I must….”

During a season when I was pulled between the care of elderly parents and children still at home, I would often feel torn as there seemed to be many places where I was needed. 

I developed a simple test to determine which place I was supposed to be that day or time. 

I would remind myself that I can only be in one place at one time, so what was the ONE place and ONE task only I could fill?

Sometimes I was the only parent available for some event where we had determined as a family a parent needed to be. This would mean someone else took another child to a practice and nurses attended to the needs of my parents so I could be the present parent for someone. 

Other times, I was the only child my father had for the Father’s Day breakfast at the nursing home or the Christmas party with the Elvis impersonator, sugar cookies and 7Up with a maraschino cherry in it. 

So I missed the concert that Russ could attend and I went and sat next to my dad, praying fervently the guy with wavy black hair and sequins galore would NOT come and kneel down in front of me and sing “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” in my face. 

It meant I had to face some humbling…sometimes I need to be needed more than I need to fill the needs of someone else.

Sometimes I serve selfishly…choosing the ways I serve because of how they make me feel and look. 

Sometimes the best way to serve the people who need me is to rest and get some refreshing so I am not serving out of depletion. 

We live in a hectic world and we probably all want to do the best and the most we can for the people we love. 

What a great reminder that Jesus only served in obedience to His Father by taking time, frequently, to check in and pray and seek guidance and direction. 

Be blessed today as you seek wise counsel from the One who made you and all those people you are trying so hard to love and serve. 

I pray we all have obedient hearts to hear and offer our gifts, talents and resources in the way God intended and trust Him to cover the other needs of our loved ones through others who also desire to serve well <3

Speaking of Thanksgiving…<3

Greetings from the prairie, where the wind is whipping along today at around 30 mph.

I am rather afraid to go see if the light strands are still on the shrubbery out front or if they are winging their way to Oz.

As we continue in the gift idea theme of this week, should come as no surprise to regular readers that I would recommend this delightful cook book and ode to gathering around the table written by Kelly Minter and Regina Pinto…

We have loved everything I have tried so far and the reading material is 100% pure Kelly at her finest.

Whether it is the simplest meal thrown together or something fun you have planned, gathering around the table is where conversation and relationship is the main dish of richest nourishment.

You can find it for around $20 – some places more, some less, here:

Or on Amazon or Lifeway.

Ok – miles to go…be blessed and I will even post tomorrow a little idea…if you have time between football, parades and eating.

And I don’t blow away on the highway…. <3