Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I'm back

After taking some serious time off of blogging I'm back in the game.

I enjoy writing and I adore my family and it's a creative outlet that is healthy for me.  However, after much prayer and consideration, with the older ages of my girls, I've decided for now to keep the blog private.

It's written by me, for future me (and my family) and if it's helped some families along the way, then praise God.  But blogging for sure shouldn't HURT the people I love the most and I don't think it has but I don't ever want it to either.  Each of my children gets to choose their own level of vulnerability as I have chosen mine.  And if someday they want to overshare their life via the internet, that will be their choice, not mine.

The years have flown by, as everyone said they would.

Ellie is a sophomore at MASON high school.  That's a weird decision I'll write about soon.  But she's getting her temps on Friday and I have a tremendous amount of anxiety about her driving.  She's ready.  I will probably never be.  I've been so emotional about it and she's been gracious and careful with my heart and I'm so grateful for that.  She's an easy happy kid, like always.  She loves people and being busy and having fun and making private hard decisions to honor God and keeps turning directly toward Him and it's so much fun to watch her grow up.

Gabby is in 7th grade.  She just finished up knee surgery and will be back to RUNNING CROSS COUNTRY in a few days which is another weird decision I'll write about soon.  That little girl who would chase me down the hallway in 1st grade and sleep in our bed every.single.night. is hoping out of the car in the morning, so happy to go to school and be with her friends.  She's so helpful and so happy nearly all the time and I just want to burst with pride every time I look at her.  She's so special.

Sam is in fifth grade.  He was homeschooled for the last half of 4th grade which is another weird decision I'll write about soon.  He's loving school this year, feels very connected to his teachers and classmates and my terrible teaching last semester doesn't seem to have bothered him academically too much.  He loves basketball and his family and going to the Y to play basketball whenever he can catch a ride.  I catch glimpses of him as a young man and it makes me so proud and excited about his future.

Sophie is in fourth grade, which is kind of insane.  We still call her Baby.  We always will.  It bothered her some in 3rd grade but we didn't try to stop to she eventually stopped asking to quit calling her that.  She's resigned to it like a good little Baby.  She loves school like usual and runs the 4th grade four square at recess like a Boss.  She is kind but tolerates very little sass from other fourth graders.  She's an absolute joy and she repeatedly asks for family time.  Like she asks for it constantly.  She just can't get enough of all of us.

Maxy started kindergarten this year.  He's all day so he can try to get caught up language wise and he spends his afternoons with 11 Spanish speaking kiddos.  He's loving school and screaming, "Bye MOMMY.  I LOVE YOU!!  I"M GLAD YOU ARE MINE!! ROLL UP THE WINDOWS!!  LOCK THE DOORS!!  JESUS LOVES YOU!!  I LOVE YOU!!'  all the way up the sidewalk to the school in the morning after I drop him off.  It's the best part of my day everyday.  It's so kind of him to make dropping him off easy for me because I cried (literally) every single day a month before school started.

I started back to work and school too.  I can't believe I'm typing this out but I'm back to being a student at The Christ Hospital School of Nursing (now Christ College).  It's discouraging to say the least.  Those years were not the best years of my life and now twenty years later I'm back at it for my BSN.  It's a life long goal to get my BSN, but certainly not in this season of life.  BUT babies need shoes (actually babies need college) and helping them all we can during their early adult years is super high value for me - so back to school and work I go.

I'm working at a sweet little preschool and it's fine.  The people are nice and the kids are precious and I'm cleaning bathrooms and making copies and holding the hands of the babies while they write capital C and it's fine.  I had my dream job and I loved almost every single second and I'm determined to be grateful for the years I had with my babies and not be too sad that they are over.

Shaun is working hard as usual.  He's going to back to school too - also at TCHSN - at least that's what it feels like.  I have no literal idea what I'm doing on the computer and my classes are all online, so he's jumping in with me and it makes me feel less alone.  He's so good to me.

Life has been painfully hard these last few years.  Painfully hard.  I've had a lot of hard losses that I never ever in a million years thought I would have to endure.  Dreams have died and been mourned and in many ways, these last two years have been even more excruciating than those early days were after my dad died.  I've haven't felt much like writing at all which is the main reason for my silence.

But what I've discovered in looking back on the hard days and months is that without this little blog, I've also lost some of the best days.  Some of the sweetest and best days of my life with my hubby and my babies.  Days I can't relive and will never get back.

So here I am.

Ready to record these days and this life - some of our last days as a family of seven all living under one roof.  I'm already mourning my Ellie leaving and everyone else soon after.  I know I'll blink and it will be just be Shaun and me and Maxy and then back to just the two of us as it was always supposed to be.  And hopefully Shaun and I will snuggle up together and read this little story meant just for the two of us and laugh and cry and be sad and happy all at the same time.

Please Jesus, let time go a little slower.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Our Ellie turned fourteen today.

I can barely even believe she will be in high school next year and while I am thrilled for her, I know her years with me are dwindling down and I just want to hold on as tight as I can for as long as I can and feel the utter sense of joy and pride I have in her at this age at literally the exact same time.  It's the weirdest thing in the world.

At fourteen, our Elizabeth is 100x the young woman I was at her age.  She's articulate and kind and smart and she loves Jesus like crazy.  She's also a hilarous prankster with a sharp wit and she's super sacractic in a way that makes me pee my pants laughing.

So far, she's loved her school year.  She looks forward to Monday mornings and week night basketball games and she's fighting getting B's for the first time in a LONG time and I suspect that has A LOT to do with her social calendar.

Ellie has made some deep and special friendships this year and what I adore about her friends is that these sweet girls become all our friends.  They climb in our car and give me all the junior high gossip (that they want a middle-aged mom to know) and I take them out for Speedy Freezes and buy them junk food for sleepovers.  They are so cute, sitting in her bed late at night, giggling and laughing and their little bedheads are just as adorable at 14 as they are at 4.

Ellie has big plans and big dreams for herself and what I love most is to take long rides with her and hear all the closely held dreams of teenage heart.  She wants to travel and serve and raise a big a family and work her buns off and stay healthy and whole from high school on up to the nursing home.

Her siblings think she hung the moon.  She is their most requested playmate and sweet Gabby won't even have a friend over if Ellie won't be home.  I love that they love her so much and I love how sweet and tender she is with all of them.

Ellie Grace, you are a literal dream come true.  Daddy and I couldn't be more proud of your choices and your commitment to Jesus, your family and your freinds.  We got you baby.  Daddy and I and all the guys are behind you 100 percent and we always will be.  We are your biggest fans.  Now and always.  Happy Birthday Elizabeth.   You are so loved.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


We are deep in the middle of the school year.  All our routines are established and actually, Gabby counted yesterday, we only have 83 days left of school which about makes me want to cry tears of happiness!  It's bittersweet too though because we love this season with our kiddos so so much.

Ellie is on the cusp of high school.  She's emotionally done with junior high and eighth grade has been a little more drama-filled than either of us would like.  But all the misunderstandings and communication mess-ups and hurt feelings have only driven her deeper into the arms of Jesus.  She's learned how to have hard conversations and how to say "I'm sorry" well and how to accept an apology.  She's learned how to stay out of situations she doesn't want to be a part of and how to chose the right but lonely road when her people are making some hormone-induced choices.

She's also become one of my closest 'friends.'  I'm still her mom, of course, and we both know that, but almost no one can make me laugh like she can.  She's quick-witted and stinking hilarious and crazy smart.  She's tender with her siblings and she adores her daddy.  She likes to tease all of us, but she can take it like a champ. Gummy bears, mice, cursive and medicine are a few of the inside jokes/code words only the seven of us understand.

She's on the student council, has an incredible group of friends (who I adore), has had some success in her sport, makes straight A's most of the time, is a leader in her school's chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and just gave a devotional to a group of 50 junior high kids on how Satan twists what God means for good and uses it for evil.

Gabby is deep into middle school.  Her teachers are incredibly tough, but she is tougher.  Academically, this has been a challenging year for her.  She has HOURS of homework each night and she must be the most responsible 11 year old ever.  She puts her head down at our upstairs desk and she cranks it out every night.  It's kind of incredible.  If there's one thing that makes her daddy insane, it's the amount of homework she has.  But she hasn't missed a single day all year.  EVERY NIGHT she asks us to check it.  I've tapped out of fifth grade math, but thankfully she has her daddy and her sister to help her with that, but I'm the reading and science master this year.  I've learned more about fossils and schema's than I've ever cared to know.

She's been invited to some birthday parties and been left out of some too.  There's been a few random tears here and there but overall, fifth grade has been a good year for her socially.  Her little middle school switched schools mid-year and after Christmas she had to find a new lunch table.  Sometimes that's not an easy thing for a fifth grade girl.  We prayed our guts out and after only one false start, she had the GUTS to sit at the table she really wanted to be at and her friends welcomed her with open arms.  However, there were a few cruel kids sitting there making fat jokes about another student and although she was shaking and red-in-the-face, she privately asked them to stop by saying, "I don't think this is what God wants us to do."  And that's all I can ask as her mama.  That when she sees something morally wrong, that in spite of her trembling, that she can just quietly do the right thing.

She wants to get back into basketball, but she has found her niche (so far) in volleyball.  Every Friday night we take her to a gym a few miles from our house and watch her do her thing.  Gabby is still at that age that she tries to catch our eye during practice and give us a little wave and a HUGE smile and she makes me so proud and happy every time I see her cute little peanut face out there.

She's 'getting' this God thing.  She loves to learn more about what the Bible says about just about everything and is for the first time, initiating reading it by herself.  Gabby has amazing Sunday school teachers who are living out their gifting as teachers to middle school students.  We are super grateful for them.

Sam is in third grade.  He still loves reading and writing the most, but also wants to do well in math.  This Christmas was a Lego Christmas for both him and Gabby.  They have spent HOURS building Legos and all of their Christmas money was spent on Legos.

School-wise he's doing well overall but desperately wants to be homeschooled.  There's a lot of big needs in his classroom and his little heart has big feelings about kids from hard places.  He's super observant and a deep thinker and an internal processor and we are just figuring all of this out and trying to parent him through those true and tender realities of life.  He loves writing and telling stories and I'm so interested to see what God will do with that.

He played soccer this fall and LOVED it and joined the NBA school rec basketball team.  Shaun is the assistant coach and while it's a huge commitment, he's loving the game.  He's an athlete, like his daddy, but when he runs, he looks like a lanky preteen who hasn't quite grown into himself yet.  He's slower moving than he would like to be and slower thinking than he would like to be on the court, but he's got a beautiful shot and he looks forward to all of his games and pracitces.

Sophie is sailing right along in second grade.  She adores her teacher and has incredible friends and she is riding the bus for the first time this year and boy-o-boy does she love it.  She sits in the very back seat of the bus and gets involved in all of the drama there could be.  She's still our baby though and we are wild about her.  She brings me piles of books to read and usually can be found sitting at the counter while I cook dinner, reading me a Bernstien Bear book.

She keeps my grandma company before I pick her up and they have the BEST conversations.  Sophie is very organized and yet still so scatterbrained that it's a hilarous combination.   She played in a tiny little basketbal league this year and LOVED it.  She held her own against fourth and fifth grade boys and wasn't afraid to stare them down if she needed to.  This girl is still our worker, she loves to help with any dirty chore we have on our list.  This winter Shaun cleaned out our digusting barn and she was right there with him for over seven hours, just sweeping and cleaning and chattering away.

Max almost deserves another post of his own and I'll get to that soon, but he remains the LIGHT and LOVE of all our lives.  I still can't believe he's home and I still can't believe we get to be his family.  He is an aboslute gift and a Bevan in every sense of the word.  I'm so proud of his brave and beautiful soul.

Shaun and I are thirsty parents, drinking from a firehose, as usual.  I feel behind and scattered and overwhlemed most days and he feels the same and yet, this is the life we chose and this is the life we love.

We wouldn't change a thing.

To God be the Glory for all He has done.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving this year

We are late fall-early winter vacationers.

We have a little spot we love to visit and late November/early December means that our spot is empty and cheap.  Shaun's work is really busy in the summer and slower once the school year gets started things slow down enough for him to feel good about stepping out of the office for a week.

Before Ellie was in junior high, we just pulled our kiddos out of school for a week and enjoyed some family time.  But now, with sports and exams and a full social life, it's a lot harder to make that pause in her life work, especially at that time of the school year.

Because none of us want to head south at Christmas, we have tried out Thanksgiving week for the past year or so and although we missed our families dearly, it was the perfect fit for the seven of us.

BUT our kiddos missed their Tennessee cousins like crazy and so this year, we decided to head northeast and knock the Big Apple off of our Bucket List and be back to eat turkey with our loved ones.

We cleaned our house like crazy on Saturday and got up early on Sunday morning to load up.  The kids fell in love with Dr. Quinn and Sully while Shaun and I talked and tired to find a music station in the middle of the mountains.

We made it to NYC in 10 hours with minimal stops and Shaun took us on a quick driving tour of Manhattan and then we all snuck in to our two person hotel room like pros.

We ordered the biggest deep dish pizza I have ever seen and ate it while we watched Christmas movies.  We snuggled (and I mean snuggled!) in our king-sized bed.  We woke up well-rested and headed to the Empire State Building where Shaun and I made the big kids read every single historical sign and marker and pamphlet we could find since it cost one million dollars to take 7 people to the top of the building.  Ellie took the perfect Instagram selfie 500 times and Max scattered a bag of goldfish on the floor and sneezed all over a window.

When we went outside, it was literally the coldest wind I have ever felt in my entire life, but of course, the view was incredible.  We posed and looked and bought a Christmas ornament at the gift shop and headed to Times Square.

Shaun carried Max like a boss through the entire city and Max was snug-as-a-bug inside Shaun's Carhart but the rest of us were so thankful for gloves and hats and warm winter coats.  It was so cold!

Times Square was a blast and as we walked back to our hotel, we told the kids they could choose anything they wanted for dinner.  We passed a million yummy restaurants but over and above anything they could choose in the city, they wanted Subway??  Shaun and I ate a delicious gluten free burger and we went to bed early.

The second day we woke up early to head Grand Central Station to catch the subway to the Statute of Liberty.  Like subway rookies, we had no idea we needed two cards for 7 people, so there was a point where Ellie and Sophie were stuck on one side of the busy turnstiles and we were on the other.  There were throngs of people, of course, and the look of pure panic on Sophie's face was awful.  Ellie, as usual, was in control and she grabbed her sisters hand and threaded her way to the machines to buy another card, out of our sight and with her terrified sister.  Thankfully, a dadish-looking guy saw our faces and put two and two together.  He swiped his card two extra times and let our girls reunite with our little family.   While this might not be a big deal to many little girls, Sophie's biggest fear in life is being left behind or lost.  While she's never truly been left behind or lost, it is her fear and we were so sad it happened to her and yet, so glad she had steady and responsible Ellie there to hold her hand.

To make matters worse, as we were standing in the intensely crowded Subway cars, sweet Sophie didn't know to 'mind the gap' and we lost her in the step between the subway car and the platform and in an enormous crowd of people.  I loved that as soon as it happened, our big kids pushed through the throng of the subway and surrounded her completely.  They moved as one mass of children, with her in the middle, all of them grabbing her hands and her coat and got her up to fresh air and her tears turned to laughter when they told her all the ways they would save her.

We ran to the Statue line and waited for what felt like 48 hours to get on our ferry to the islands.  I'm not even lying, the wind whipping around the Island statue was pretty unreal.  It was so neat to see in person and so good for Max to get out of his carrier and play tag with the kids while Ellie and I bought a Christmas ornament and warmed up in the gift shop.

We loaded back up to head to Ellis Island, which was BY FAR my favorite part of the trip.  We sat down in a back stairwell and ate protein bars and apples and then found a warm and comfortable movie theater and all 7 of us slept through the first showing and really enjoyed the second!  Max was still asleep so a nice security guard let Shaun stay while the big kids and I took the tour.  I absolutely want to go back when I have more time to explore.  It is such a neat place!

On ferry ride back, we watched the sun set over the water and walked to the 9/11 Memorial a few blocks away.

Tickets are free on Tuesday nights and we had just enough time to really appreciate the Memorial.  Even though I'm a woman of too many words, I can't find the words to explain the somberness of that site.  It was so well done and so honoring to the victims of that day.  I'm so glad we were able to go.

After taking the Subway back to our hotel without incident, we ordered the same burgers, the same sandwiches at Subway and Ellie got some Chinese food for dinner.  We watched more Christmas movies and tried to finish up the rest of our packed snacks.

We woke up the next morning and checked out of our hotel and walked to Fifth Avenue where we saw Rockefeller Center and the scaffolding for decorating the incredible tree.  There were little girls with American Girl Doll bags everywhere and the Lego store that we went into was so filled with people we nearly couldn't get through.

We tried to get into Trump Tower, but didn't know the magic password to get past security, so we just took a big bunch of pictures in front of it instead and headed to Central Park where gabby fed the horses and the rest of the kids shared a hot dog.

Ellie and I walked back to the hotel with Starbucks in our hands and dreamed about what God might be doing with her future.  NYC is the city of dreams-coming-true after all and there's no better place than to dream big, so we did.

Shaun took the other four back on the Subway, really for Max.  Out of all the things we did, without question, his favorite was the 'train' and we had extra money on our Subway card(s).

Ellie and I met the rest of the family at the car and we headed, exhausted and crazy-happy back to the Buckeye state.

We rolled in around 3am and fell into bed.

Thanksgiving Day was spent unpacking and napping and making cookies.

Friday my mom and her husband served us a delicious late lunch and Shaun's mom served us a delicious early dinner.

We came home full of turkey and extended family and memories of a full week, well spent with all the people we love the most.

Our little family has so MUCH to be thankful for this year.

To God be the Glory for All He has Done.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sophie turns EIGHT

Our baby Sophie-Bear turns eight years old today.

I can hardly believe how fast eight years can go.

I feel like I remember every detail of her first days, how crazy happy we were, what a good baby she was...I still feel like I could walk in the next room and see my little diapered baby.

Of course, when I walk in the next room, I see her EIGHT year old self and if it's even possible, I love her more now than I did back then.

She's still the same completely delightful little girl.

Our Baby loves to laugh.  She adores her sisters and brothers and she thinks riding the bus is pretty much the best thing ever.  Everyday when she comes home from school, she is wearing a BIG smile with a little bounce in her step telling stories about boys and

She still brings PILES of books to read with me, although now, she wants to be the one to read TO me, which is bittersweet for sure.

Sophie makes friends super easily and somehow knows how to stay out of any drama at school.  She is looking forward playing basketball this year and she is really interested in Legos and arts and crafts.

No one can stay fussy with Sophie for very long...and if we do get fussy, it's usually because she tried to quietly get out of doing her job or just ignoring something someone asked her to do.  But it doesn't happen very often, because out of all of our kiddos, she is easily the hardest worker when she puts her mind to something.

She is still the same sassy girl that used to climb on the kitchen table and steal her sister's ice cream, but she is NEVER sassy in a disrespectful way, only in a hilarious way and I often think about how much FUN her someday-husband is going to have being married to her.

For her birthday, she wanted an airplane Lego set, a HUGE party with twenty million girls who I have never met and to read books to the whole family WHILE WE ALL LISTENED.  I made her favorite dinner, hamburgers (which totally caught on fire), mashed potatoes and salad and she had a ice cream cake for dessert.

We always go around the table and share our favorite things about the birthday

After she opened her Lego set, we all snuggled in on the couch while she read us two of the longest books she could find, librarian style.  During the story when our eyes met, the rest of the family just grinned, knowing that this simple little thing was blessing her heart the most and it was just the cutest, sweetest moment of her eight year old birthday.

Her party with 20 million girls will be in the summer.  By some modern-day-miracle, we are having a pool put in this month and so we are talking all the kids into a summer time swim party for their birthdays.

She was quietly and sweetly happy all day long today.

And that's our Bear.  No matter if it's her birthday or not, she is just an incredibly happy little girl.

We are so thankful to be her parents and her family.

I love you more than cupcakes, Baby Bear!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


On the eve of the dumbest election of my lifetime, our house burned down.

Not the house we live in now, but the house we owned just before we moved here.

I got a phone call from a friend telling me the house we loved so much was burning and I started crying and praying.

There is a beautiful family living in that home and thankfully, we realized right away that everyone was ok...pets and people got out right away...all thanks be to God.  

Shaun and I and our kiddos were shaken the rest of the night.

We, of course, reminded the kids about fire safety and our emergency plan and if you are reading this right now you should do the same thing, right away. 

After the kids went to bed, we stayed up late and talked about our years in that beloved place.

It was a fixer upper when we bought it and we gutted it from top to bottom.

We spent so much sweat equity in that place and when we moved there, we thought (and we hoped) it would be the place we would die.  We truly loved that house.  We took care of it, spent money on it and most of all, spent our spare hours and minutes and lots of mental energy being a good steward of that precious place.

We brought babies home there and buried our most favorite pets in the backyard.  We had arguments and all out fights and forgave each other a million times over again.

There are a million little memories.  A moment here or there and that's what makes up the fullness of a family's life...

There was a little tiny speck of sparkly nail polish on the bottom of the hardwood step that I purposely left years ago after a preschool spa day with my girls.  Each time I polished those steps I thought of that special afternoon and how happy I was in that moment with my glittery toddler girls.

The fourth step down always creaked.  Always.  It's how I knew Shaun was coming to bed after a long day or how I knew my babies were up from nap time.

The front door had a small crack right down the middle and I always loved that.  It was an old wooden door and it always had the fullness of the afternoon sun and it always reminded me of a happy sun drenched wrinkle.

The wide gaps in the hardwood floor made me crazy during a birthday party when I handed our NERDS to a big bunch of 7 year old girls for a party favor or on the rare rainy day that I allowed Play-Doh inside the house.  But I loved the character of the floors and I loved the smoothness of them on my feet in the morning before the rest of the house was awake.  The floors were the very reason we bought that house.

We spent hours and hours of our lives with littles in the basement.  Playgroups and bookclubs and sleepovers and Christmas mornings and little shows our kids would put on for us.  All of it was was done in our little basement.

The gray nursery held my babies and the just-right-shade-of-lavendar-girls room was always full of little girl messes...scraps of paper and barbies and pink legos and BOOKS.  Sam moved into his Big Boy room there and those were the years I had three babies in three cribs.  Those were the days I would do all over again in a second.  I fell crazy in love with my husband in our master suite a million times over and the dining room held countless dinners with family and friends.

The kitchen was so tiny, but it was where Shaun and I taught the kids to dance and where he always tried to get a little too close in already close quarters while we cooked together.  The little kitchen bar was full of memories of Christmas cookies and Easter eggs and Thanksgiving pies and more happy times than I could ever write with all the space on the internet.

I could look right out my kitchen window and watch my beautiful children climb our crazy-big tree or explore the 'forest' or pick apples or peaches from the fruit trees.

When Shaun got home from work, for years, he would 'underdog' the kids for an hour on the giant swing set while I cooked dinner.  Those were the days when we stayed home after 5pm and had long slow nights with our babies and after early bedtimes, often in the winter, we would sit on the couch with a fire in the fireplace and dream about the days we are actually living now.

And it all burned last night as it all will.

We were both in tears as we drove past it last night and the ash was falling from the sky a mile away from the fire.  It was dusty and acrid smelling and horrible in all the ways a house fire can be.  Years of our tears and hard work and money reigned down in ash on us and the homeowners on our little town.

Of course, my heart and our prayers are with the family who lost their home.  Although we loved it then, that home is not ours and their loss doesn't compare to the sadness we feel.  Obviously.

But the truth is that all we touch, even the bodies we live's all dust.  

All ash.  

This election?  Ash.

This house we love so much now?  Ash.

Our bodies, no matter how carefully stewarded?  Ash.

I was reminded in my Tuesday morning Bible Study last week that only souls and the Word of God are eternal and it weighed heavy on my heart last night.

Those two things are all that ever survive the flames.

This fire was a terrible remainder to keep my eyes on the Lord.  To lift my eyes to the One on the Throne.  To devote my time and my life to people, not things.   To always remember, in the back of my mind, just like for my own family, that chilly March morning nearly 15 years ago...lives can change in an instant.

It was a reminder that things are to be enjoyed and stewarded and people are to be treasured and loved.

Please be in prayer for the sweet family who lost their home last night.  Shaun and the owner texted a few times last night and there was even a little news segment about the hero who alerted the two boys to the fire.

The homeowner said last night, "It's just stuff.  Fire just burns stuff."

Fire just burns stuff.  

That's a powerful truth to say out loud as you watch your home burn.

In the tension of realizing that stuff is just stuff...our local community is already rolling up their sleeves to help this sweet family and I'm proud of that.

But in the meantime, I pray that they might be able to salvage the most precious things to them, that the rebuilding would be a testimony to God's faithfulness to their family and that Matt's words in the midst of personal tragedy would remind us even in the smallest of ways, that "stuff is just stuff."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Our sweet girl turned eleven years old today, which is weird considering that yesterday she was walking through the YMCA, holding onto the double stroller with a giant pink bow on her giant hairless head.

Gabby has grown up to be the most tender, most kind kid alive.

And she didn't start out that way.

She was our adorable terrible toddler.  The child who would be in time-out for the 10th time at 9am everyday of her third year.  She's the one that would get physical at the drop of a hat and could give a dirty look by the ripe old age of 4 months.  She was a pistol and I loved her spark with a fierceness that even surprised me.

She has always loved her people.  More than anyone I know, she adores her family.  She thinks Ellie can do no wrong and she is truly Sam's best friend.  She keeps Sophie honest and I can so clearly see a beautiful friendship forming between our most different daughters and it thrills me to no end.  She is so in tune with all of Max's needs and she is just delighted by all of his 'bad ideas'.

She has always been faithful and loyal and hilarious but now, at eleven, she's just at the age where the very last of her little girl days are nearly behind her (and us).  I will miss my little girl in the coming years, no doubt, but watching her mature has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.

Gabby loves the Lord in a way that convicts my own heart.  She remains close to Him throughout the day. School causes her anxiety (and I hate that) but I really think that her relationship with the Lord has been strengthened in a beautiful way because she so often has to rely on Him when her family isn't around.

At the beginning of fifth grade I realized I couldn't make it to 3 schools at the exact same time for pick ups and drop offs, so Sam and Gabby catch the same bus at my grandma's house in the morning and they get off the bus there in the afternoon.  We gave her an old flip phone, so they could communicate with us if they needed to on the bus.  She texts me every morning and every afternoon and it is a blast to see her use her phone to pump herself up for her school day.  She will text me things like...

"I'm happy and I'm going to have a GREAT DAY!  God is ALWAYS WITH ME.  I can't wait to see you tonight!  Have a GREAT DAY!  I LOVE YOU!!!!" 

Those little messages bring tears to my eyes each morning, because I am so aware of how hard it is to say those things much less to feel those things, but she's taking the reigns of her emotions and telling them who is in charge.  Many adults (myself included sometimes!) don't do that as consistently as she does.

She is our family baker.  I pretty much always sign up to bring in baked goods somewhere knowing it would be her JOY to bake it for me.  She makes incredible chocolate chip cookies and she's always taking a goodie over to our 95 year old neighbor and his caretakers.  She reminds Shaun of himself at that age.  He said he was always baking cookies and brownies during his preteen years, which only makes her even more endearing to me!

She leaves herself little notes and reminders all over the house.  Notes to remind herself to take her dog out in the morning and notes to remind herself to bring something to school or double check that she has her homework.  She leaves me little thank you notes for little things and always writes a note if she's sorry for something specific.

Gabby is the best lover of people I have literally ever seen.  She KNOWS how to make people feel chosen and treasured and she's an incredible encourager.

For her birthday we had pancakes in the shape of 11 and Max and I took her lunch from Subway.  She had the opportunity to ask a friend to sit with us at the Visitor's Table, but all she wanted to do was sit with Max and I and talk about her day.

Sophie and Gabby bagged up treat bags of Starburst and Skittles the night before and she passed out the candy bags at the end of the school day.  She picked a little girl in her class to help her who has never been picked for anything before.

We picked her up after school and my grandma had made little treats for the kids to enjoy.

When Shaun got home, we peeled 10 pounds of potatoes and talked about our days while the kids played outside. Later that night our family sat down to a dinner of grilled hamburgers, mashed potatoes and salad.  After dinner, we sang Gabby 'Happy Birthday' and she opened up a Lego set and a Transformer.

She snuggled into bed and talked about how excited she is to be eleven and how she will miss ten.  She whispered how much she loves her family and how she's not really sure she wants to have a 'friends' party after all, because nothing could top her 'family birthday.'

This child is my heart and soul.  She literally walks around with my heart buried deep inside her.  being her mama has been one of the greatest joys of my life.  She teaches me so much about life and love and faith and I love celebrating her more than life itself.

Happy Birthday my little Pumpkin.  I love you.