For the first time ever in the seven years I've had a blog, I almost let an entire month pass without a single word written or picture posted...

Almost.

We got a new 6 months old Irish Setter puppy.
We bought a house and moved. 
We celebrated my favorite week of the year. 
We went to Haiti. 

And, now, in the aftermath...I am finally catching up.

I did manage to take a few pictures throughout it all...

He's kinda spoiled.

Holy Week, tomb and seed planting. 





Traditional Passover Seder meal, in pajamas.

My sweet and beautiful Ella.

The fab four, on Easter.

At the overlook in Haiti with my favorite person.





And, now...I warmly welcome May with it's slightly more normal schedule.


Two hands. 
Two whole hands.
This boy is two whole hands old.

Oh. my. goodness. 
This kid...
He's the best.

Sweet.
Silly and goofy. Still makes faces all the time.
Sports loving. (Basketball and Soccer)
My history buff.
Adventurous eater.
Hardworking and always helpful.
With an underlying gentleness in all that he does.

For his special day he requested sushi, a game of Settlers of Catan, and root beer floats.  

He bears no resemblance to the tiny little guy that we first met almost 7 years ago...
And my heart towards him is nothing but a testimony of the Lord's faithfulness and grace and abundance. Nothing but a testimony.

Sweet.

Silly.


My Eli Cade,

You are 10 today! And you are still one fiercely loved little (not-so-little) boy! We are crazy for you and your gentle go-with-the-flow attitude. You continue to grow in so many areas and your Daddy and I are so proud of you and how hard you work. Your silly faces, shoulder shrugs, dream re-tellings, and game playing abilities add so much life to our family. I write every year that you are my little hero. And every year I mean it more. I'm so glad I get to be your Mom.

Happy, happy birthday!

I love you,

Mom

p.s. You still have the cutest curls and button nose. And I will forever embarrass you by saying it every year.

We are in the middle of school, a move, and a crazy ministry traveling schedule that is ramping up (Haiti, here we come!) on top of an already busy local ministry schedule.

Otherwise known as a season of life.

Your life, my life, anyone's life...has it's propensity for stress. I know that everyone is dealing with jobs, kids, relationships, moves, etc. Everyone. I am not about to advocate for the idea that my life is more stressful than anyone else's.

And yet, this season, is a full one for me right now. To pretend it isn't because I'm not alone in it, doesn't change my reality that there is a lot on my plate today.

Lent, the period of 40 days that precedes Easter has it's origin in the early days of the Church. Converts, seeking to become Christians, under threat of Roman persecution, went through a final period of "purification and enlightenment" in the 40 days before their baptism at Easter. The rest of the church began to observe this season of Lent in solidarity with the new believers. It became an opportunity for all Christians to recall and renew the commitment of their conversion and baptism.



Today, Lent is more known as a season of intentional sacrifices, fasting, if you will...with the desire to deliberately focus a heart and mind on things above in the 40 days preceding Easter.

What does Lent have to do with a stressful season in my life?

Truth moment: I have never done anything for Lent. Never given up anything. In fact, if honest...I've kinda felt it a bit of an eccentricity. I shouldn't need to give up something in order to focus my mind. You know, because I always have laser sharp focus...

However, a few weeks ago at the beginning of Lent I felt the soft gentle challenge of the Holy Spirit to participate. And my sacrifice?

Give up two words: Overwhelmed and Stressed.

I may very well be overwhelmed and stressed out. But the fact that those are my true feelings does not make them truth. And by allowing myself to say them, think on them, I had given them power.

Power to debilitate me, or at the very least, slow me down and steal any hope for finding joy in the work.

It's like when I send Zoe to her room to pick up her toys: She can either 1) sit on the floor crying because she is totally overwhelmed at the work before her, or she can 2) push through, roll up her proverbial sleeves and in twenty minutes be enjoying the rewards of a clean room and happy mommy.

It's time for me to adjust to the work the Lord has me doing. And the very words "overwhelmed" and "stressed" were hindering me.

Sidenote: Let me be clear, I am NOT talking about the stress I create by not saying no or by over scheduling my life. That's a whole other issue of mine that I have put in some hard work finding out what is an acceptable amount of white space for me to function in. I am talking about the seasons that involve things outside my control: moves, parenting issues, sickness, school, marriage, ministry/work schedules, etc.

And so, I have stricken these two words from my vocabulary. And like anything else, it's never enough to just stop doing something. I needed to replace them with new words.

My new mantra is to mentally run through four truths, taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corin. 10:5):

1) I am equipped to do what I'm called to do (Heb 3:21)
2) I am never alone (Mt. 28:20)
3) This is a season, not the entirety of my life (Ecc 3)
4) Just obey (2 Jn. 6)

I'm a few weeks into this process and I would be nothing but a bald faced liar if I told you that doing this process has fixed my feelings. It hasn't. And that's okay. I'm still struggling with overwhelming feelings of stress. But, I'm also learning there is great maturity found in taking my thoughts captive, rolling up my proverbial sleeves, pushing through the feelings, and just doing what needs to be done.

And, like I've written before, if I allow it, seasons of stress create dependency on my only source of Strength, which leads to intimacy. And the joy is found there.






Quick!

Let's fit in a field-trip-extravaganza before the craziness of travel season and moving begins.

And let me tell you, February is the month to field trip. Only no one knows about it, apparently.

Fine by us.

We just finished a History unit on the Civil War so we started in Buchanan, VA and followed the trail up to D.C., hitting the Civil War Museum and some of the battlefields. The next day was D.C. bound and we hit all the major monuments and two museums. And barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do there...but enough to reach capacity for us until the next time.

Sidenote: This age and stage with my kiddo's is my jam. A perfect little sweet spot between toddler years and teenage years.







If you can't beat em, join em. 

Zoe found it quite exhausting. "I'll just take a little nap while I wait for you..."



A thunderstorm was rolling in, so we booked it outta there.

After her"exhausting" day, we decided it best to leave Zoe with Nana for D.C =)  Just the three big's on this day!









We made friends with the SS police after he photobombed. We happened to hit the day that the barricade to Pennsylvania Ave was gone for the first time since the Inauguration. Score!




I wrote the following words last February, and I could have well have written them yesterday:

       Ministry wise, this month has been full of the "behind the scenes" work that is necessary to prep and prepare for the rest of the year. Training teams, buying tickets, planning meetings, building new partnerships, taxes, follow up, and so on and so forth. You know...the tasks that aren't exactly picture worthy. Yet, I know how everything else that happens the rest of the year hinges on these things, and so we find joy in the important yet unromantic work that is filling our days. Besides, Jeremiah is out of the country for a portion of every month starting in April through the Fall...so I'm just enjoying having him around while it lasts!

Word for word, people.

I've learned that moments like these are built in months like these.

We are thick into the meaty section of our school season. The rhythm has been found, the end of year is a bit off, but not too out of sight. Overall, despite some challenges, it has been a great year! I think I have finally and really and truly found a good groove for each kiddo (and myself!) with their curriculum and schedule.

Well, except for Zoe...but that's a whole other blog post. 

Once upon a lifetime ago when school involved just one kiddo and my biggest challenge was keeping Ezra from eating the math manipulative's.

All three big kiddo's are playing basketball this season, and oh-my-goodness, I had NO idea how much fun basketball was to watch when you have a dog in the fight! And Zoe is cheer-leading. Sort, of. But that's a whole other blog post.

In general life, we are in the process of buying a house. We have a contract on a house in the area and if all goes well are set to close and move the middle of March! I can barely contain my excitement at the thought of having my own house again after years of transitions. Barely. I wanted to fill up at least five lines with exclamation points after that first sentence. True story. 

I wrote this time last year that the biggest challenge in my life was the elusive quest for balance. I learned a hard lesson last Spring about the difference between a good yes and the best yes. But, the key word in that sentence was learned. I'd like to write about about that learning process for myself at a later time when I can actually cohesively think through it...but for today, I'm just thankful that I am able to look at my calendar without an internal feeling of panic and dread. 

And so, in this season which is both repeat and brand new, I can't help but feel a sense of excitement of things to come. And contentment for where I am. 

With a side order of wishing for one more good snow storm before the Spring arrives?!



Noisy? 
No problem.

Uncomfortable?
No problem.

Bumpy?
No problem.

If she decides she wants to, 
she does.

Sleep, that is...

  

On an airplane.

On a bumpy Haiti road.

Lots of bumpy Haiti roads.

On a walk, while riding on some shoulders.

On tile floor.

On carpeted floor.

Or, on an airport floor.


In the middle of Universal Studios.

In the middle of lunch at the local Mexican restaurant.

During reading time.

On the couch.

On a bike ride. (At least she wasn't alone for this one!)

At the brother's basketball game.