Well, it happened. Our first visit to the ER with our little girl, only and already two years all at the same time.
She fell, with a glass in her hand Saturday morning while we were still eating breakfast and getting our heads wrapped around the day. She was in only a diaper and I am thankful that it wasn’t so much worse as only her hand got cut really.
We raced to the hospital, me from home with friends who were in town for the weekend and Ryan meeting us there after a frantic phone call from Dennis. I put on my best bravery, knowing that I had the influence to set the tone for the coming moments. We pointed out ambulances & bikes, the hospital and cars around us. Normal everyday things that we do anyways, when we aren’t racing to the hospital.
And then she saw her papa there and everything was good and we were all together.
This is what mothers & fathers do whether it is a holiday or the hospital on a Saturday; we set the tone.
For emergencies and priorities, for relationships and adventures. We have the power to make something scary feel safe, to make something difficult seem manageable and to create adventures out of bike rides and balloons.
Which is why every day is Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day too. We don’t get a day off from this exciting and wild journey, instead we get to remember how important it is and take it all in. I’m thankful for the chance to do it together and set the tone we want for our own family, on holidays and everyday.
(yes, my chacos. they represent adventure but they were life changing in and of themselves)
For some reason, this spring I didn’t write but it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t feeling it. Now that I think about it, I didn’t write because we were busy packing and spending time with friends who are journeying away for the summer, and for some, longer. Another marker of May. This will be the May that we moved our house in Ann Arbor with a fenced in yard and a deck for the masses.
A year ago today we moved to Ann Arbor for the first time, delayed due to my emergency appendectomy in the middle of the night and changed plans. We arrived looking only at three months of summer in the white house downtown which led into a summer of late nights on the porch. Which led into considering if God could be calling us here for longer which turned into conversations, celebrations, lots of cupcakes at the Cupcake station and the scramble to find a place to live in a college town.
Which leads us to today. Well sort of, there are many months of life and planning and adventuring and growing between now and then but here we are, waking up in our first week in a home that I hope we are in for awhile. We still love Ann Arbor just as much as we did last summer when we first arrived and chose to move here. I just re-read what Ryan wrote about our decision to move here and I think it is so good to be reminded of where you have been and where you are going.
Sometimes life starts to feel somewhat normal when you have been somewhere for a while and settle in and I always hope to remember that we are on mission. Even in the everyday living of going to work, doing laundry, going on walks with friends; that how we (I) do it matters.
In some ways the past few years of moving multiple times has forced us to live more simply, less stuff and more ease. I like that and want to carry it with us in a home where we do have a basement and storage and all of the others things that are a blessing. We used our small spaces over the past year to host, celebrate, gather and retreat. I’m hoping that this home will represent much of the same and that we will use it well.
One of my dearest friends is leaving this morning with her family for training to prepare for life in the Congo. Its’ so bittersweet, hugging my Kate and knowing what adventures are ahead but feeling a little sad that their four faces won’t be regulars around our table in this house right now. That is much of what life in Ann Arbor is like, hellos and goodbyes. Many here are seeking what their next step will be in life, in career, in their journey. My prayer is that this new home is a haven to people who need rest from all of that seeking.
Here is to May days and all the summertime days that follow.Read More
I know today is your birthday but for the last few months I have seen a two year old every time I looked at you.
Somewhere along the way you stopped being a baby and started being a little girl. I don’t know when that happened but I really love it. I thought I would miss who you were when you were little since people always tell you to hold on to each moment. It turns out those moments didn’t disappear; instead they rolled right into who you are now. How relieving that I don’t have to mourn where we have been and can just savor where we are.
The thing that stands out to me right now about who you are is your curiosity. All day, everyday, whether we are in the car, at home, downtown, or just reading a book, you ask me to “tell ya” what something is. I hear tell ya from the backseat, from the stroller and while we read books on the couch.
A robin, a tulip, an airplane, a city bus. Your senses are bursting at the seams, soaking in all the world has to offer.
That curiosity includes your interest in the people around you. You are a wonderfully friendly girl and this weekend at Target you told me that you were just “making friends” as you said hello to everyone that we passed.
Your Dad & I have become increasingly aware of how closely you watch our every move and take notes on how the world around you operates. How we live tells ya what we believe about life and our place in it.
There was a little bit of a pull in that way, having two birthday parties for you and all. We want you to know how special you are, how much life you bring to the world around you and how important it is to celebrate. You are truly a wonderful blessing to us and give us so much joy.
But we also want to teach you to be others centered and invite people into that celebration. We don’t always know how to do that in a world that wants us to be self-centered. Part of our attempt to widen that circle was by making your birthday party here in Ann Arbor a cookout for all of our friends. A chance to gather people together for the sake of connection and for celebration. We ate bbq and chips, savored juice boxes and cake. But the best moments for me were the little ones between you and your friends. They brought you handmade cards & picked dandelions, following our request for no gifts. In their own little ways, they showed you they care about you, through cards and through running around with balloons and baseballs.
I guess what I want to tell ya as I begin this new year with you is that when you watch how I live, with your curious questions and knowing eyes, I hope you know what my life is about. It’s convicting, being a mom because I know that how I live matters, now more than ever.
I’m thankful that God is using you to teach me these things and remind me of things I have learned along the way. I cannot wait to see where this year takes us. If it has been anything like your first two, it will be full of adventure.
all my love,
read all of my previous letters to hannah hereRead More
I want to tell you a story of faithfulness and prayer, of heartache and joy. To invite you into a miracle, even if it looks different than any of us would have expected, or at the time, even different than we had hoped.
This is the story of a couple, in love and giving their lives to others, longing for a baby of their own. A story of friends, whose lives are woven together by all of the things that they love: people, travel, adventure, family, life.
They started talking about a family the very same time we did. We laughed together, “wouldn’t it be fun to have babies to push around town together & to watch grow up side by side.” We drank wine and ate meals, ran together most mornings for a year, took late night walks around the neighborhood. We were in this together.
Our story continued in one direction, theirs in another.
My belly grew as their questions did. The tables could have been turned and we could have been the couple wondering what was going on with our hopes. It could have been any combination of fates, but the way that it happened was not what we had dreamed for them.
Yet our friendship NEVER wavered. The night Hannah was born, they came to the hospital, hours after she first came into the world. They aren’t related, but they are family. The prayers of blessing they prayed that night gave me the picture that even though Hannah was entrusted to us, she was really all of ours. If she belonged to God, then she belonged to the community. I know this isn’t popular western thinking but this has been my experience and it is too beautiful not to share.
As the days turned into months and the seasons changed, we weathered it together. There were semesters ending, semesters beginning, travel and moves, prayers and decisions. All leading up to this. The birth story.
They sent out an email on a Monday night, detailing the emotional process of these years. Years. I just want to let that sink in, for anyone who has waited for something. You can identify with the pain, the stages, the acceptance, the peace. The email went to a wide net. Friends, family, colleagues, ministry partners, college roommates. Asking “will you pray with us?”
They were going to be adopting a baby, sometime in the next year but it would probably be awhile since they just finished their home study and these things take time as we all know.
What happened next is amazing.
The very next afternoon, the phone rang. ”A baby boy was born and we would like to consider you as one of ten families to present to his birth mother. Are you interested?”
Thirty minutes (yes, only minutes to decide!) of hearts racing, thinking, praying, considering. A returned call. Yes, if we are chosen, we would like to adopt this little one. Not much sleep was had that night I am sure, as our friends went on a date because what else do you do when you might become parents the next day. They let little parts and big parts of their hearts dream & wander. They called us to ask us to pray with them for discernment for the mother and everyone involved.
The next morning (only two days after the original email was sent), they got a phone call at 9 a.m. that they were to come pick up their baby boy, their son. I will never forget that phone call, I was standing in Hannah’s room crying, tears of joy and surprise and thankfulness with them. The amazing blessing for us is that their son was born on the eastside of the state and now that we live over here, we could easily come meet them at the hospital so we jumped in the car.
We didn’t get to meet Jaden that day due to details with the adoption but we got to be there with our friends, seeing them for the first time as parents. Joyful, exhubarent I would say, and we scrolled through pictures on their iphones of a sweet little face with lots of dark hair and heard his name, Jaden-Hebrew for Yahweh Rules or God is in control.
He certainly is.
Ben and Stacie ended up spending the night at our house that night and as they arrived at midnight we champagne toasted the new parents & reflected on the day. The word Ben used to sum up Jaden’s presence in their lives and in their family was entrusted. They prayed for a miraculous birth, believing for a long time that it would come through birthing their own child but God did something miraculous in a different way, through the birth of baby J.
Because of their faithfulness as a couple, hundreds, if not thousands of friends, college students & church members have heard their story. A story of God hearing our prayers and answering in ways unimaginable.
We got to meet Jaden very soon after. I was able to go to the hospital again the next day and hold that sweet baby boy and we spent time as families together a few weeks later. I loved seeing Hannah with Jaden, wanting to make sure he had his pacifier and giving us running commentary on what he was doing whether eating, crying, sleeping, etc.
It has been amazing to me that even living a few hours away, we got to be part of Jaden’s birth story in the same way that Ben and Stacie were part of Hannah’s. It is so sweet that two years later, we got to be there together, having an up close view to the redemption of many tears, hopes and wishes. What is even sweeter is that during this time of wrestling, there was an underlying current, of trust and continued faith in God’s bigger plan in Ben & Stacie’s heart.
Jaden is three months old today and his parents just returned from leading a trip full of students to Israel, something they continue to be passionate about doing. What an amazing legacy he has been entrusted to and we in return are so thankful.Read More
I haven’t written in awhile. It’s ok. Here is what I think about that: it was winter and winter some more. Which leaves me feeling lackluster in the inspiration department. But if step back and think about life since I last wrote in February, much life has been weaved between these weeks of indoor play dates and sweeping the floor, doing the dishes and taking the dog out in the cold.
Maybe some of the best life comes in the just living and mulling things over. I can’t always articulate in the moment what I am experiencing but time seems to help with that and although I have always felt at home in Ann Arbor, this place has only been our home for 11 months. That said, these are some of the important things from the past two months.
Some of our very best friends adopted a son. I am going to share their story soon as I spent some time writing about it the week baby J arrived. It has been a profound time for them but also for Ryan & I as their friends.
I spoke at our church on brokenness and it surprised me how affected I was by it and how many conversations began with others in our community as a result.
We decided to look at houses to buy, then to rent which is a whole post on its own. The summary is that life in Ann Arbor is expensive and we had to choose what was most important to us. Nearness to downtown, fenced in yard, access to public transportation, space. In that order.
I cannot wait to get back out there for morning walks to get coffee & to try out the new parks with Hannah. Speaking of Hannah, within the past few weeks she has become a full fledged two year old in my mind. Although her birthday is still a few weeks away, our girl has arrived.
I have spent much time deepening friendships particularly in the past few months and trying to sort out how I spend my time. I think that might be a continual tug I feel in my life now that we live further away from some of the dearest people in my life. I am coming to terms with what that means and how it plays out but you better believe that the weekend Katie came and we drove around drinking diet cokes like we used to was very good for my soul.
I started working one day a week, something I have been thinking about since the day I took my maternity leave. I wasn’t sure what, where or when and then it just happened. Isn’t it funny in life how these things happen?
This is where I am left with my reflections on continuing to write myself:
I want to add to the beauty, to not just create noise and to make sure the things I share have value.
That being said; maybe sometimes the value is found not in saying something profound but in connecting with others in our experiences and lives. So write on I will.Read More