Crowdsourced Group Gift Guide 2020

Okay, so admittedly I am not a blogger in the sense that I do not actually know what I am doing.... so friends, bear with me - humor me, maybe - as I attempt to simply put all of the amazing ideas that so many people shared with me when I asked about gifts for Tripp, my 9 year old son, this Christmas.  I'll start with this - there are the usual suspects that if they were recommended once, they were recommended a dozen times... and it would come as no surprise, I imagine, that they included all things Lego, Nerf and _______ boards.   But there we tons of other ideas that were honestly new, to me, and I would love to share them with you! I've put them in somewhat of a category... and linked them all! Let me know what you purchase or if you have other ideas to add to this awesome resource!  Hope this is a blessing to all us parents of boys, ages 8-13 , shopping this season! Gadgets Drone Yoto Player MP3 Player

3 Down

I cannot believe tomorrow if the first day of Autumn, 3 chapters down... my favorite season ushers in as we seek to close out my least favorite year. Well, I say that because aren't we all supposed to say we hate 2020? I mean, I have hated so much of it - feeling robbed of this intrinsic safety my heart normally bears, of experiences for my kiddos (and me) that were erased from the calendar, of normal community that feels slightly awkward in the reopening stages..... feeling disheartened by the political climate, anxious for the growing tensions on what seems to be polarizing debates, broken for the exposed evils of racism, sexism, exploitations, and on and on and on that we have met head on this year.... feeling confused on how we move forward. Yep, I've hated a lot of 2020. I've grieved the reality we find ourselves in as a people, as a nation.  But on the flip side:  I have to pause for a moment and remember March 2020, about 55 years ago, when the world shut down and my

10 Years Eve

Around 8pm on July 30, 2010, my back started hurting so badly. Had I known I was having back labor, I would have met her that night. Instead.... tonight is the eve of the most magical girl in the world's birthday. My Eleanor Michael.  10 years. Two FULL hands. Closer to leaving home than the day we brought her to it. And truly, it feels like yesterday. The fastest years of my life. The best years of my life.  I'll never be able to fully express the love I have for all my kids - maybe not even fully understand the depth of it all myself, but I know this: they literally take my breath away. To know Eleanor, to truly KNOW her, is the greatest treasure.  She is witty, quick, compassionate, shy, loving, smart, funny, captivating and one of the oldest souls I know. She loves to play all kinds of make believe, but is her happiest when she is plopped in the middle of the adults and eavesdropping on their conversations.  She has gone from eating cottage cheese and chicken nuggets (only)

Wishing We Knew the Ending

From July 2013 until November 2017, BJ and I faced secondary infertility. This painful road was so isolating, heartbreaking and awkward... I cringe, actually, thinking back on some of those dark days. When we were surprised to find out we were pregnant with Dorothy Grace, our real-life miracle and testimony of God's kindness to us, it was truly like a fairy tale. Too good to be true. Unfathomable. Pinch me, daily, kind of joy. And pretty much every single day of her life has continued to give us this sense of wonder, of joy, or praise and worship to God for entrusting us with her life. Its as if now I can look back at those dark days and exhale.... I know the ending, I can look back without those panic attacks creeping in, because Dorothy Grace is in my arms today. She's the constant banner in our lives that point us to Christ, reminding us that we can trust Him! The gift of her life has made us appreciate, celebrate, and more deeply love Eleanor and Tripp, as well. Truly, our

The Bravest Girl I Know

Its one of the most captivating things about our Eleanor. She is constantly brave.... in the face of things that scare, intimidate or challenge her we literally watch her overcome emotions of fear with a resolution that she can rise above it. For most of her life, we've celebrated this quality when we've seen her naturally act upon it. Many times, we've spoken it over her to remind her that we see this beautiful trait as we speak belief into whatever situation, trial or opportunity she has that may be holding her back. Our intentions have always been to celebrate the girl we see who is scared, but does it anyway. But you know what isn't easy? Watching your "brave" girl not being able to put into words that she is scared, or anxious, or needs help but doesn't know how to ask. This year when Eleanor transitioned to her new school, she had mixed emotions leading up to the first day, as naturally, all of us would have. She was going to be the only new girl i

9 weeks

July 1, 2013 was the day I had my miscarriage. I hadn't seen the words "Pregnant" on a test since and we have tried for over 4 years. November 21, 2017 may be one of the best days of my life {for now - it will be replaced when you arrive} because hope rushed in. You are growing inside of me - and that is a miracle. Its the greatest gift and I will still not have the words to explain all the emotions in my heart... It may burst.  Sweet, sweet redemption. I don't know why daddy and I didn't put it together in the doctor's office... I'm sure it was because staring at your heartbeat on the screen was so overwhelming in and of itself there was no room for any other thoughts.... but baby, you are due the first week of July. F I V E years later.... the Lord has redeemed our mourning and will turn it to dancing. What has been a day, week, month of great sorrow will now be redeemed with life. Your precious life. It will NEVER, ever take away the pain of losing BR

I can think of no other title, but His kindness overwhelms.

Back in August I wrote my heart out sharing my quiet, an often not so quiet, pain that I have felt for the last four years. I wanted to put my thoughts down in words, maybe for the 100th time, but often in my writing I find the real wrestle in my heart. I've struggled deeply with the promise that God is good. I KNOW He is good.... but the "even if not".... the even if we aren't spared from this raging fire in Babylon, even if we lose it all, even if we never receive what our hearts want most... He is still good and its all for His glory and our goodness. I've struggled and wrestled and prayed and yelled and cried for the last four years begging to believe this truth in the midst of isolating, then marital, then family pain desiring for our family to grow. And here is where He has been so sweet.... I've had to wrestle. I've had to admit that I'm struggling believing it (He knew). I had to shepherd my children through that very same pain and confusion.