Friday, May 24, 2013

Mother’s Day 2013

I had such a lovely Mother’s Day – despite the cool temps and rain! The day before Ed bought me a beautiful flowering hanging basket for my new front porch and I’m so happy about that because I was concerned that since our new house faces north and doesn’t get much direct sun, I wouldn’t be able to have one that did well. But the lady at the nursery (who also happens to go to our church) told Ed it would do just fine. Yay! I love those Lynden hanging baskets!

I made a Mother’s Day brunch for my Mom & Grandma and the family – fresh fruit & a yogurt dip, raspberry lemon quick bread, and a breakfast casserole with ham, cheese, eggs, and hashbrowns. I also made a breakfast punch – kind of like mimosas, only non-alcoholic, of course! Just Sunny D & Fresca. Sweet & refreshing! But, I neglected to take pictures of the brunch, which is unfortunate, because it was all rather beautiful, if I do say so myself. Had I taken a well-composed picture of the beautifully organized rainbow fruit tray, I’m sure it would have been Pinterest-worthy.

One of my aunts and one of my uncles came for dessert & gifts and to see our new house and it was really a nice afternoon.

But the BEST part of the entire day (& the following days) was this:


These sweet little notes were left all over my house by my sweet girls. I know you can’t read them all on this picture, but I loved it and I love those sweet girls for doing it and hiding them so well! I found most of the notes right away, but there were a few that turned up behind picture frames and in other obscure places for a few days following Mother’s Day.



That’s as good as it gets. But it’s all good.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Freshman Track Season

Sarah had such a good freshman track season. Just like XC, she enjoyed rich friendships, loads of laughter and fun, excellent coaching and training and guidance and mentoring, and personal success! She continued to PR at consecutive meets, in all 3 events that she rotated between. In the end, she qualified for Tri-Districts in the 3200m (by time, not place) which was a great experience for her as a freshman. She’s a fighter – so I hope if & when she is ever injured, her fighting character and quiet spirit will combine to help her handle that with grace. In the meantime, the fighting character and quiet spirit have helped her graciously be a leader on these two sports teams and I am loving every minute of watching her grow into a woman of God’s design.


Getting ready to run the 1600m at her last home meet – the District finals


In the middle of the pack – she had a great finish, taking over two runners in the last 100m to earn a 9th place finish. I was too busy cheering to get pictures of that, though.



While Sarah is minutely taller than I am, I never really consider her tall…until she stands next to these teammates. We love them, anyway.


Our goofy family after Sarah’s last home meet, where she once again ran a PR!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A very memorable occasion

Just a few short days after Bethany & I arrived home from MI (where the theme for my training and the new theme for GEMS was “Who is the greatest?” based on John 3:30, with an emphasis on God’s power and on pointing others to Him & His greatness instead of to ourselves, Sarah & Bethany made Public Profession of Faith along with 6 other young people from our church. The sermon Pastor Ken chose to preach that day was along the same lines…based on 2 Corinthians 12:9:

But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Pastor Ken had lost his voice and no matter how he prayed, it didn’t come back in time for Sunday. Because of his minimal voice, he chose to preach a memorable sermon about our weaknesses being the way in which God shows His grace and power and greatness. The depth of the sermon, combined with the girls’ profession of faith, combined with all I learned at my GEMS training was overwhelming to me. I’m still processing it all. It was a life-changing week, and all the glory for that belongs to God.

And even better, Sarah & Bethany publicly professed their faith and became members of our church on that day. We knew already that they were God’s girls – this simply was the official ceremony of declaring that fact. What a glorious day to celebrate God’s promises to them and their commitment to Him! Both the girls participated in the service, along with most of the other young people who were professing their faith that day. We had young people playing violin, leading the praise & worship, reading Scripture, praying, and sharing testimonies. It was a good & blessed day for our church. It was a day of healing & growth for our congregation. It was a day given to us by God, who crafted every aspect of the day…from which people would be standing up front to which songs would be sung, to the words Pastor Ken preached…a day that simply made God greater and us less. And it made us, as a whole church, ever-so-grateful to be His children.


Bethany (middle) with two other 7th/8th grade girls who also professed their faith. They sang a beautiful three-part harmony of “Be Thou My Vision” during the offering. It was a TON of work, but they persevered, and with the help of one very musical mom, their song became a focal point of worship that day.


Making their promises

Group picture

Girls with Pastor Ken

Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Elise’s First Sport!

Our poor 4th child. For her entire life she has been carted around to countless basketball games, soccer matches, track & cross country meets, & softball games…and not a single one of them has been for her. Always only for her sisters. Last year I tried to sign her up for T-ball in the spring since the schedule allowed, but it was full. I tried to sign up for soccer, but the deadline had passed. So, another year went by without Elise participating in an organized team sport.

This year I was on top of things, surprisingly enough, and got her signed up for spring soccer. Unfortunately for her, only one other first grader she knew from school was going to be playing soccer this spring. Thankfully for her, they were placed on the same team! As an added plus, a friend from church is also on her team. It’s been fun to watch her learn to play and she actually likes to get in there and chase the ball. While she hasn’t yet scored a goal, she has come quite close and she has saved a few shots while playing goalie and had some good passes. There are only two 1st/2nd grade girl soccer teams playing for the YMCA this year, so they keep playing the same team. Elise’s team keeps winning…but we feel very sorry for the other team who has yet to have a win, with just 3 games to go. They have improved greatly, but then, so has our team.

Edited to add: Elise’s team lost 4-0 this week!! It was a shocker. Personally I was happy for the pink team to have a chance to win and to win well. Don’t tell Elise I said that, though!

Anyway, here’s just a few pictures of one of our sunny games:


Okay, apparently she has a loose tooth in there. But to her credit, play had not yet begun. She was just in position, waiting for the whistle. She didn’t wiggle again until she was “taking a rest.”



She’s a pretty aggressive little soccer player! Go, Elise!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I finally have the rock climbing videos uploaded!! Go Bethany!

Video 1

Video 2

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Last morning in Michigan

The day we flew home was sunny and relaxing and fun. I took Bethany to see the GEMS Service Center just down the road from where my brother & his family live. It’s a small building and GEMS operates out of the basement…one guy in a storage room shipping supplies, one receptionist, a bookkeeper, a handful of writers, a director, and a full printing room. All their curriculum is printed IN HOUSE! It’s amazing how God has blessed this ministry with incredible staff and the opportunity to touch lives literally around the world out of this tiny little office in Grand Rapids, MI. Then we also stopped at Calvin so I could get a picture of Bethany at the Calvin entrance sign on Burton St. Every other time we had been on campus it had been raining, so we waited until the sun came out. I can’t even tell you the emotions that swell inside of me when I see that girl smiling next to that Calvin sign. There are no words.


And THESE girls? Precious.



That face. She is up to something.




Friday, May 10, 2013

Sunday afternoon in Michigan

I returned to my brother and his family on Sunday afternoon after my training was complete. It was wonderful to be with those sisters in Christ again at training and to share joys and struggles and learn and laugh and cry together. It was also exhausting!! When I got back, Bethany, nephew E, my brother & I headed out to see Calvin’s Nature Preserve and Meijer Garden. After a rainy & snowy weekend, the sun poked through on Sunday afternoon and it turned out beautiful! Bethany had lots of pictures from these outings, so I’m trying not to duplicate those. Here are a few originals:



These two talked constantly. Two peas in a pod they are.


This cactus was at Meijer Garden. It reminded me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book. But no, it’s from our Creator. Love that!







It’s all about perspective…same horse above as below.



It was a good afternoon. We came home to have dinner with my grandma (so nice to see her again…she’s 90!) and then I was able to go out for dessert with my college friends! It was great.

One of the funniest things that happened that day had to do with my niece C. She was quite attached to me and liked to cuddle. In fact, she wanted nothing to do with anyone else when I was around. When it came time for dinner, I tried to put her in her high chair. That was something she DID NOT want to do. She started crying and crying and fighting me – my brother & I had to hold her down to get her buckled in. She was SO mad. Eventually Bethany distracted her and she stopped crying, but after a few minutes, she & I made eye contact. She looked straight at me, then jolted her head sideways and started crying again. Yep. Definitely mad. And definitely mad AT her Aunt Julie. Thank goodness she forgave me as soon as I got her out of her high chair after dinner. What would I have done without those cuddles for the rest of my visit? She reminds me so much of Becca at that age. Stubborn, funny, observing everything. Plus, she looks a lot like Becca did. She’s got her own unique traits too…her smile is just like her momma’s and she plays happily with trucks and dinosaurs with her big brother, of course! Missing them all already.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

More Michigan

Bethany stayed with her aunt & uncle and cousins while I went to my training workshops from Friday – Sunday afternoon. She had an awesome time and my nephew thoroughly enjoyed having a constant companion. He also enjoyed taking pictures with Bethany’s camera, as evidenced by several pictures of his feet…

Click here to enjoy just a sampling of Bethany’s over 500 pictures from her days in GR!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Michigan 2013, Day One

This year when I went to my GEMS ACTS training in Michigan, Bethany got to come along. Two years ago, Sarah came and so this time was Bethany’s turn. We flew out on a Wednesday and while we encountered cancelled flights and changing gates and airlines, we ended up arriving in Grand Rapids only an hour later than originally scheduled. Considering the midwest storms that day, we felt very blessed!

We spent Thursday together with my brother and his family…started out the morning with coffee and treats at Schuler’s Books – a favorite place for my nephew and my grandma, who joined us for a couple hours.


Getting to know cousin C again


Nephew E loved having Bethany around and showing her around at Schuler’s


Would you just look at those adorable little chubby toddler fingers?


And those stunning blue eyes?


My grandma with 3 of her 9 ‘greats’

On Thursday afternoon, Bethany & I went to Calvin and walked around a bit. We shopped in the bookstore and I showed her some places as we walked across campus. Then we visited my brother to see his “environment”.


My brother’s office


The new interdisciplinary lab…chemistry, biology, and a couple other departments built this with grant money. State of the art and a fabulous draw for students in these areas of study.


Then Bethany got to go rock climbing in the rec center. She did awesome – conquering 3 different climbs and attempting a 4th, very difficult, climb.


I have video of her climbing that I’m hoping to figure out how to post tonight. Stay tuned!


Bethany on Calvin’s indoor 200m track


Anyone who knows nephew E knows he is such a busy kid that it’s very difficult to get a picture with both his eyes and a smile. When we got his school pictures we were surprised to see such a great smile with him looking at the camera. His dad asked him how that happened and he said the photographer had a frog on his head and he was supposed to watch for it to fall off. Genius. I was taking pictures of these two and eventually I put something on my head and asked him to watch for it to fall. And looky here! Eyes and a smile! What a great idea and a couple of great kids!

Day Two coming soon!