Friday, May 31, 2013


April and May flew by in a blur of flooding, field trips, and seasonal allergies. We have one week of school to go until SUMMER! Here's how we've been spending our spring days...

Spring break = a visit to the local recycling plant with friends. Aren't we the coolest moms on the block?? (Not sure if the kids were impressed but I give it an A+ for being educational and for getting us out of the house.)

So many good books to read, so little time. These are two of my current favorites. Glennon makes me laugh out loud and feel normal; Shauna makes me want to dirty every pan in the house (and that's saying something).

A new use for an old tutu. We'll see if this look catches on.

While muttering, "we can do hard things," under our breath, Matt and I spent 3 chilly hours in the garage assembling this hoop for the boy... 

...and it was all worth it to see his eyes light up in the morning. Basketball is his current passion - playing, collecting cards, watching it on TV.

Ella had a piece in the school district art show this year. You may recognize our pal, "David."

The kids all did a bike race in Holland a few weeks ago. Dylan has raced before and really embraced the experience this time around. Ella liked it but looked more like she was out for a joy ride than a bike race. And Mady, well Mady, surprised us all. She was dead serious, game face on, and cried giant crocodile tears at the finish line because they wouldn't let her keep going. {By the way, Strider bikes = best toddler present ever}

The kids LOVE to eat outside. And mommy's happy to let the mess stay out of the kitchen. Folks, this is what we call a win-win.

I have discovered Teavana thanks to my friend Holly, and my life may never be the same. My new treat is a cup o' tea (and I'm officially old).

The friend on the far right is Jori. I first wrote about her here. Jori is fighting the fight of her life and her faith and courage are incredible. She's also the girl who dances the Thriller at her own cancer fundraiser. It's an honor to know her. Please keep this sweet family in your prayers.

We enjoyed some cousin time when Myles came to town. Two days after this picture was taken, a new cousin joined the family. And two more cousins are coming in July and October...Christmas should be extra fun this year! Dylan and Ella are officially the big cousins and they suddenly seem so old.

Dylan's new favorite hobby. He draws these logos for hours, copying them off of his sports' card collection. Incredible.

Introducing baby Jensen! Congratulations, Chad & K3! Big cousin Dylan is absolutely smitten with this little guy (well, really, we all are).

Mady and I finally made it to the greenhouse! Spring is in full bloom!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

South Korea + latte love.

My friend Theresa is in Korea right now. Two days ago, she got to hold her little girl for the very first time. My heart is so happy for her, for Steve, for Finley, who has a wonderful family who can hardly wait to bring her home. They still have some more waiting ahead of them - prayers, please, for a court date happening next week - and another trip to finally bring her home sometime in the {hopefully} near future. I know I have shared some of their story on my blog before, so for more updates, you can head over to Theresa's blog here.

They are 13 hours ahead of us, over in South Korea, but we are able to get a little Facebook chatting in during the evening hours and the morning hours. Last night I had one of those nights... Matt was working late, one kid was giving me attitude, one was being less than truthful, and one had had a potty accident... again. And the house was a mess and the kitchen sink wasn't working properly... and so on.

This morning, there was a knock on the door. It was Theresa's mom, holding a vanilla latte... for me... from Theresa. Even thousands of miles away, she's still My Person. Even in the midst of her own joy and sadness, she's still thinking of ways to bless others.

Thank you, T. You are the embodiment of what it means to love others well. Come home soon! We can't wait to meet your precious little girl!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Walk for Water {2013}

Clean water is something that comes up in our house a lot. When Dylan and Ella were young, our church started a clean water initiative to help the people of Masaka, Rwanda, and it seemed like a good way to get the kids involved in something bigger than our little life in the American suburbs. One of the ways we do this is by walking with our church community (and others) each spring.

Our little fundraisers filled out the postcards themselves this year, sending them out to their Nana's, Papa's, and Pa's, and their aunts and uncles too. Mommy helped out by sharing the cause on her Facebook page. Together, our family was able to raise over $500. ($20 creates access to clean water for one person for up to 10 years; $100 buys a SAM 3 filter which can serve up to 5 people.)

The day we walked was blissfully warm and sunny (which is not in the tradition of Michigan springs and past Walk for Water's which are usually cold and wet).

And we're off!

Mady and her BFF Abby are quite inseparable these days, even in their quest for social justice.

I love everything about this day - a church community, old and young, big and little, human and canine - joining together for something larger than ourselves.

I walked hand in hand most of the way with our sweet Ella. She's been praying for the kids who need clean water since she was old enough to talk.

At the halfway point of the walk, we stop to fill up our containers with dirty water to symbolize the walk many women and children make daily in parts of the world. Imagining drinking this muddy water, floaties and all, really drives the point home.

We then carry our heavy jugs back to the park where we started and run some through a filtration system -- the technology is amazing.

Until next year!

{The Dirty Truth: 1 in 8 people lack access to clean water. Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. Dirty water kills more people than all forms of violence including war. Want to help? Give here.}

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dear Finley Grace.

Dear Finley Grace,

Once upon a time you lived far, far away from your forever family. Your mommy and daddy and your big brothers longed for the day when they could hold you in their arms and bring you home. You see, they loved you from the very beginning, even before you were born. They hoped for you and waited for you and your mommy was breathless the day she got The Call, the day they sent your picture. Your mommy and daddy took one look at you and knew in their hearts that you were their Finley Grace.

They had to wait such a long time to meet you, Finley Grace, much longer than they had hoped. So while they waited, they worked and they played and they laughed and they cried and they took care of your brothers...and then they waited some more. And all the while you were never far from their thoughts or prayers.

And here's the thing, Finley Grace, something I want you to know. It wasn't just your mommy and your daddy and your big brothers who waited and waited, it was also your grandmas and grandpas, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your neighbors, your friends from church, your home team. Everybody wanted you home.

Then one spring day, your mommy got another call, after waiting for four years, after holding your picture for 18 months, a call that said they should travel to meet you. Your mommy and daddy were so, so excited, but also a little sad because this wouldn't be the trip to take you home.

Now your mommy and daddy always knew their would be one big trip to pick you up and take you home, but they didn't know there would be two. In order to get to you, they had to get on a big airplane and fly across the ocean, and tickets for big ocean-crossing airplanes cost a lot of money. And while your mommy and daddy would have moved mountains to get to you -- they would have sold everything they owned if they had to -- we (your mommy and daddy's friends and family) didn't think that would be quite right.

So we did what we thought was the next right thing: we threw them a garage sale. Now there's the kind of friendship that brings you a meal when you're sick or shows up in the hospital in the middle of the night when you're scared. And then there's the kind of friendship that throws you a garage sale. Someday you might throw your friend a garage sale and then you will understand: we loved your mommy and daddy that much. We loved YOU that much.

So for weeks, we gathered books and shirts and toys and lamps (so, so many lamps) from people who wanted to help and then for days (and even some nights) we sorted and dusted and stuck little fluorescent stickers on everything so people would know a picture frame cost $1 and a pair of shoes cost $2.

And then we tucked ourselves into bed, weary and tired, but happy knowing we were doing something to help bring our Finley Grace home. We woke early on garage sale day and posted signs all over our town and hauled table after table out of the garage and before we even had time for a quick snack, they came, Finley Grace, they came. Person after person streamed up the driveway, many just looking for a bargain, but many because they knew your mommy and daddy, because they knew they had been waiting for so long. Many people came who didn't know your mommy and daddy or you at all, but they still wanted to help which blew us away.

They bought armloads of things and they often paid five or even ten times the amount they owed. They said things like keep the change. They told their own stories, they shared kind words, they offered hope. They wanted to see your picture, Finley Grace. They wanted to hear your story.

Your mommy's friends showed up to help too. They bagged purchases and rotated goods and endured swarms of vicious mosquitoes. Other friends came out just to say hello and brought us treats. One friend even brought us iced lattes when she realized we hadn't had time to eat. (One day when you are a grown up lady, Finley Grace, you will understand the power of the random-act-of-kindness latte.)

At the end of the garage sale, we had raised enough money for those expensive airplane tickets. We could hardly believe our eyes. In the midst of the hard and the long, God had breathed goodness right smack dab into the middle of it, right in the midst of a somewhat dirty garage filled with cast-off kitchenware and home decor. God had used your mommy and daddy's community to remind them that they were not alone. God had used strangers to show us that we are all connected.

I'm telling you this story, Finley Grace, because I want you to know something. I want you to know that even though the world is sometimes hard and long and scary and sad, there is still so much good in the world. If you look closely, you can see the good all around you, often in the eyes and the hearts and the hands of others. I hope you will learn to spot the good, to recognize the good, to applaud the good. I hope when you grow up you will be someone who finds ways to share this goodness with others.

You see, Finley Grace, the good in the world, the goodness of God, it will always be a part of your story, beginning in the chapter entitled Bringing Finley Grace Home, and then woven throughout the rest.

You are loved, Finley Grace, and God is good. Never forget these things.

With much love,
Ms. Katie

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