Paper trail of love

People still marvel when my husband tells them he’s been married 17 years this month.  To the same woman.  They laugh and figure he must have married when he was about 12.  It’s true.  That’s how young he looks.  No one really questions when I say the same thing.  Perhaps that has a little to do with the half dozen babies I’ve carried and delivered, possibly.  They laugh again when he takes responsibility for those 6 children.  Yes.  “All with the same woman” he answers with a smile.

Deliriously stricken with what we thought love was when we were 15 years old in our junior year of high school, we talked on telephones with cords late into the night and spent our weekends going line dancing with friends.  There were school dances and trips to the mountains for day skiing.  There was girl drama and a hundred other things that felt like the biggest deal ever.  My grandma smiled when I told her we’d stay together after we graduated high school.  Politely not saying what everyone was thinking, “Sure, easy to say, highly unlikely”.

Our choosing two different universities gave way to writing the letters.  Not emails or texts.  No electronic anything.  Bonafide love letters.  Our very own paper trail of love those letters are. The anticipation and patience involved when word from the one your heart longs for is hours away and requires getting through border patrol to put eyes on. Not for the faint of heart.  They sit by my bed in a stack wrapped in a ribbon.  Their very presence dates me.  Ages me.  Puts me in the “pushing 40 years old” crowd.

Months turned into years and our long distance perseverance continued.  We became adept at waiting.  Waiting for the border open.  Waiting for the letter to come through the university post.  Waiting at the dorm phone for a scheduled phone call.  Waiting for direction for post-college plans.  Waiting for summer when we would be home with parents and only 20 minutes drive from each other.  Waiting for an engagement ring.  Which turned into waiting for a wedding.  Which meant more waiting.  Waiting to go to bed together and wake up in the same place.   I won’t ever forget waking up the day after our wedding and holding my ring-clad hand up in disbelief that yes, I was finally paired for life with this one I loved.  It was surreal.

Our paper trail turned into post-its at this point.  Notes written and stuck on the bathroom mirror.  I still have the sticky stack.  Short notes of love that cemented our gratitude that we were done waiting for each other.  We settled into married housing our last year of college and walked graduation together the following year.  Youth pastor and social worker finding our (very young) way.

This morning I wrote a bridal shower gift card to a young thing preparing for her own summer wedding.  I simply said “sending love and blessings your way as you prepare for your marriage (the wedding is the easy part, don’t stress about that!)”.  At barely 21, I certainly thought otherwise!  I was sure the wedding was the hard part.  Our big wedding with two receptions, which I planned without a wedding coordinator while keeping a $5,000 wedding budget, was attended by 428 people.  It felt huge.  Larger than life.  I hadn’t given a great deal of thought about the life that would come after.  Sure we did premarital counseling and personality tests and all.  Good stuff.  But nothing prepares any love struck sweetheart for the reality of marriage.

But love letters wane.  Post it notes get unsticky.  He doesn’t bake caramel brownies from scratch filled with love notes on foil anymore.  She doesn’t spend an hour on hair and makeup every single day.  He doesn’t know how to respond to her insecure 21 year old self.  And she doesn’t know how to cook after all.  Real life happens.  And real life is darn hard sometimes….most of the time.  Wedded bliss becomes a ruse and the sparkly ring gets dirty and scratched up.  So do the wedded ones.  No matter how good in heart or how sweet their intentions.

This is where the fire burns hot and hard choices are made.  This is where listening to the prevailing wisdom of the culture we live in (even church culture) says loudly “Marriage is meant to make you happy – if you aren’t happy, you can walk away!”.   Choosing to keep love in the midst of real, broken life comes hard fought, comes at a price.  Two sweet lovebirds change and grow up.  Inevitably, they don’t grow on the same timeline.  This proves incredibly hard to navigate.

Choosing love in the midst of the mess, in the midst of the growing, in the midst of imperfection and failure….this is how we are forging our way forward. By saying yes to each other.  Yes to love.  Yes to the gut-wrenching conversations.  Yes to humility.  Yes to apologizing and subsequent forgiveness.  Yes to awkward, soul-exposed moments .  Yes to being a witness to the whole of life by someone’s side.  Yes to the covenant promise of marriage.  Not just when it makes sense or comes easy or “feels right”.  Even, especially, when it doesn’t.

17 years and counting.  Thankful every day (even the ones that lay me flat) for my yes all those years ago and every day since.  Perhaps even, the best is yet to come…

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The Finn turns five!

Dear five year old Finn,

I just went outside and you were delightedly hanging 10 feet off the ground from a tree branch.  You are fearless and big boy brave every day of your life.  You’ve climbed trees with ease since you were three.  Now you have a little sister whom you show the ropes to all day long and you’ve taught her boisterous self just how to climb too.  And you are proud.  You have your own garden plot this year and you tell me you want to grow me peas.  You’ve weeded your garden twice despite me explaining that you will have to wait to put the pea seeds in the ground until April.  I often find you at the first aid box opening the green salve and wiping it onto some part of your adventurous self.  In fact you are so skilled at caring for your wounds that two weeks ago when we got to church I noticed you had blood on your shirt and Star Wars bandaids and sticky blood all over your hand.  While we were all getting ready to leave, you had tried to cut open a bagel.  You cut your hand and simply went upstairs to your personal bandaid supply and covered your wound.

You tell the most amazing dragon stories.  And they always have a brave hero.  And his name is always Finn.  You still tell me the story of Caleb saving your life summer before last.  You know which direction the train was coming and you know that you were frozen there, on the tracks.  And you still show great emotion in the retelling.  Near daily you like to ask me “Mom, do you wanna be a mouse lemur or a cockroach?” or “Which animal do you like better mom, a caracal or a sea otter?”.   You tell me that you want to be a race car driver when you grow up.  Your love for all things John Deere is waning which makes me sad.  You are growing into Lego and out of tractor and I wouldn’t mind if you stayed tractor-crazy forever.

You holler fairly often at present.  But it’s beginning to diminish  You have lots to express and don’t always have the patience to wait for words.  You don’t care that shoes were meant to be worn in pairs or that typically people wear shirts in the winter.  I love these things about you.  I love all the boy that you are and could not fathom our life or this world without you.  You are one of a kind awesome and it’s my absolute gift to be your mama.

Always,

Mama

13 going on wonderful

Dear Rylee Jeanne,

How did this day sneak right up on me the way it did?  I still remember all those weeks sitting next to your incubator in the hospital after you were born and staring at your sweet tiny face for hours.  I remember waiting days to even hold you in my arms and I thought if I didn’t get to do it soon I might just not live another day.  So great was my longing to wrap you up in my arms.  Your presence and personality and poise have literally shaped this family. You are the most tremendous oldest sister this not-so-small family could ever have asked for.  Every one of your siblings is blessed that you came first. Your creative and energetic ways make you such an enjoyable playmate.  Your ability to direct people and quietly bring order out of chaos, it’s such a unique and wonderful gift.

You are 13 going on wonderful.  I recently crossed path with a former youth pastor of mine.  As I expressed emotion over entering this new era, of parenting teenagers, he had a good bit of sage advice for me.  But first he inquired “I need to know…is she the hellion you were at 13?”.  To which I easily replied, “Um, no…not even close!”.  Your life and love and character don’t hold a candle to how I behaved myself at 13.  While I do feel the changes on the horizon, I am keenly aware that you are amazing.  I have the same longing in my heart for you as I did the week you were born.  I know well enough to know you still need to be wrapped up, held up by the love that only a mama can give.  Even if there is some adolescent attitude that comes my way.

You quietly absorb and asses the happenings around you.  You are intuitive and aware of more than I’d even imagine.  This is a beautiful quality and as you get older you will continue to learn to do this in ways that allow your heart to still function and stay whole despite being highly tuned in to all that is going on.  Your mama is still learning.  Learning to love wildly and freely without expectation.  Learning to be brave.  In many ways I feel like we are learning together and I see something new forming and though I don’t know yet quite how to proceed or just what it looks like…it is a wonderful mystery we are headed into.  I told you this week I’d read this incredible verse in Collosians, that the mystery of the ages had now been revealed and that guess what the mystery was?  This mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27).  You are an image bearer of Christ.  You have something of Him to reflect to the world you live in.  And that right there is a most beautiful hope.

I do see one thing clear.  You need your dad.  Front and center.  He has a new role to fill in your life in this season.  You adore him.  Not that that is new, since it isn’t.  But something is different.  As I watched him hold your hand and ice skate with you this afternoon, a wave of feelings poured over me.  Gratitude that he is who he is.  That he is present and available for you.  That he loves Jesus above all else and aims to lead and love our family the best he can.  That I get to share him with you.  Grateful that you have the same gift I did as a young girl (and still enjoy today)…a dad who loves God, loves my mom and loves me well.

Let me let you in on a secret.  Your dad and I don’t know what we’re doing all the time.  We haven’t done this before, you are our first teenager and all we know is what we know.  And there’s a lot we don’t know.  A wise and respected older friend in our life told us once…during a period of very tumultuous marital struggle for us:  “Aside from a heritage of genuine faith, the best gift you can ever give your kids is parents who love each other well.”  She went on to explain the impact that has on the life of a child.  You’ve heard us yelling in the yard over the pigs and the mud and “why did we ever say yes to this…”.  You’ve seen me cry in the laundry room because I hadn’t been a receiver of grace when I was desperate for it.  You’ve seen me cut your dad down with disrespectful words and a too-quick-mouth.  You see us kissing in the kitchen or in the pantry and you watch the continual ebb and flow that marriage is.  You miss almost zero of what takes place here.  We aren’t modeling perfection for you.  We are however modeling real life and mess and grace.  And you won’t grow up and leave our home thinking life is always peachy and smells like roses.  You’ll know it stings and hurts and smells like manure sometimes (literally AND figuratively).  But God is present in our pain and in our mess and imperfection and He gives glimpses of glory all along the journey.  Your dad and I are committed to Jesus, to one another, to this family, to you and your siblings and to being Love-bearers to the people on our path in any way we are able.

Whatever these years ahead hold, we will be right here.  Living out our love one day at a time.  We are so proud of who you are and the way you live, think, speak and love.  These are great years ahead…don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  They may be a bit of a mystery to us yet, but we are in this together!

Always,

Mama

A super fun birthday afternoon ice skating with siblings and girl friends!
A super fun birthday afternoon ice skating with siblings and girl friends!
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Your littlest sis - an almost aspiring ice skater :)
Your littlest sis – an almost aspiring ice skater 🙂
Blurry - yes.  But had to include.  21 years ago this year your dad took me ice skating on our first date.  It was super precious to buzz around the skate rink with our six kids in tow.   (and yes, we still like holding hands - even if it makes you giggle!)
Blurry – yes. But had to be included. 21 years ago this year your dad took me ice skating on our first date. It was super precious to buzz around the skate rink with our six kids in tow. (and yes, we still like holding hands – even if it makes you giggle!)

One year beautiful

It makes me choke just a bit when I answer people’s frequent question, how old is she?  Because I want to say she was just born, fresh and new and perfect but the truth is her birthday was two weeks ago and I can hardly wrap my mind around it.  Wasn’t it just yesterday we were walking in the warm sun with popsicles and flip flops awaiting her soon and imminent arrival, not sure if she was a he or a she…if she would tip the tide to four sons or even it up with three sons and three daughters?  Could I have known it would be the year it was?  That everything would feel hard and that we would never really fall into a groove that felt workable and that we would do so many “great” things that we were plum worn out and worn down?  How a little pink bundle would be this beacon of all that is lovely and wonderful to this tired mama on so many dark nights?

To my Liberty Grace on your first birthday,

Freedom and grace.  Two of the most critical, valued pieces of our faith, our family, our life.  Your name holds such weight for me.  It is a never ending reminder of truth that I need constant reminding of.  One year.  You are walking and waving everywhere.  You have perfected the princess, parade wave and you grin a mile wide for everyone you meet.  I never have the heart to tell them, be they a friend or a waiter at a resaturant, that you do this for everyone.  They think they are exceptionally special based on your warm waves and smile.  You have to be the happiest baby ever.  At least certainly the happiest one I’ve known.  Sometimes I hold your siblings back a bit, telling them it’s too much or give her space.   But the reality, your reality, is you are covered, sewn in from every side, with love.  So much love.  They each adore you in their own sort of way.  You draw something unique, something special out of each one of them.  The softness that I don’t often see in the big boys, a gentleness from Finn that is wildly uncharacteristic.  And a comradery, a sisterhood with the girls, that I know will only grow with age.

It’s been a long year for me.  Your brother Finn has required a sort of mental energy that no other child has.  The way he thinks and experiences life is momentous, fantastic really.  And I’ve no doubt he will change the world, his world, someday.  Another brother started the year with a major physical injury that made the school year extra hard and frustrating.  It took six months before he was fully restored.  It hurt my mama heart more than I can exxpress to not be able to help him, not be able to fix it and make life feel okay for him.  There were so many hard days, not days that I would trade or give up for anything, but hard nonetheless.

And then there was you.

Beaming bright beautiful you.  You have to know there were many nights, I would be awake nursing you that I wept over your precious little face.  Hopelessly in love with your little self.  Over the top thankful that you were there for me to hold.  You gave hope to me time and time again.  You are a simple, in-the-flesh continual gift that I feel like I receive day after day after day.  A gift I don’t take lightly and one I am keenly aware I could have missed had the baby I carried the months prior to your conception been carried to term.  There would not have been you, one of a kind wonderful you.

You can’t possibly imagine how treasured you are little girl.  You just can’t.

All my love,

Mama

**a few snapshots of your first year, favorite summer naps in the swing or with big brother, showing goats with sisters, rides in wheelbarrows and horse carts:

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girl cousins 2014

Eleven years old

Dear Rylee,

I held your hand tonight in the van, for miles down the dark, rainy highway on our way home from your little brothers’ birthday dinner.  I squeezed you tight and thought you’d let go but you just held tighter.  We’d been talking birthdays and gifts and Kenya.  You talk often of your friend there, your sponsored child who lives across the world from us.  She is never far from your thoughts, your heart.  But especially today.  She’s just about to have a birthday too, the exact same age as you.  I doubt she’s ever heard the term “tween” even if that’s the category her age falls into.  I also doubt she’s ever heard of Playmobil toys.

You have been saving for a long time for a very specific, sizable Playmobil set.  One with cows and a milking room and all sorts of cool farm stuff.  Tonight on our rainy day home you told me you’d been thinking.  That instead of wanting that set that you wanted to put that money toward the trip you plan to take to meet your African sister-friend in about two years.

You also asked if you could request that for your birthday and Christmas you simply get money toward that same goal instead of presents.  You explained why, having thought it all through quite obviously and knowing the cost would be great and it would take some planning, some setting aside of certain things in order to be able to go.  You told me you really didn’t need more presents but that you just wanted so much to be able to go to Kenya.
That’s when I took your hand in the van.  With tears and a heart plum full of love for you, my oldest daughter, I told you you were beautiful…that your heart was beautiful…that I loved who you were and how you cared about the things that matter most.  It was one of those moments where everything is crystal clear and you don’t want to forget a single detail.  You aren’t one to say what you don’t mean and I knew as you spoke that you meant every word.

You are indeed a beauty.  Inside and out.  We are insanely blessed to have you as our first born.  The gift you are to my life, to our family is beyond any measure.  You spent your first weekend as an eleven year old sewing.  First pillowcase dresses for girls in poverty in Africa…then sewing matching dresses with your dear friend, dresses that you wore together to church on Sunday.

matching dresses

I’m well aware we are on the cusp of a new era of parenting as we creep closer to the teen years.  While that will hold its own set of wonder and challenge, for now I’m savoring the girlhood just a bit longer and relishing what we have right now.

So grateful that you are here.

Love always,

Mama

90 years

His life has been so rich.  His contributions so many.  And in these last years of his long and amazing life his world is growing increasingly small.  I don’t think too often about what the rest of my life will look like.  My today is full and requires everything I have (and usually a little bit more).  But when I’m 90 I surely hope I love Jesus and love family the way my Grandpa does.  Getting to share a week with him this July was such a treasure.  Since we won’t all be able to travel back east for his 90th birthday bash, we celebrated out here.

Great Grandpa with Rylee at the beach
With Audrey!
Our last living grandparent, Grandpa Larson, and his 7 great-grands!
My sisters and I with Grandpa

As we took turns going around the room and reading him our birthday letters, we shared with him the impact his life had had, on us and on many.  After each of us spoke, he would say that he hoped that what we’d said was even partly true.  And we would choke up and tell him that indeed, what we had spoken was what we meant.  His humble and tender heart, the way he tells me “You’re doing such a great job, keep up the good work with those kids!” speaks so deeply to my being, every single time he says it.  He is a great and brilliant man who has worked very hard and lived a full and rich life.  It was a delight to celebrate with him while he is still with us.

 

 

 

One year ago today…

…I was getting pulled over on 405 by a police officer with all 4 kids in the car.  Seconds before I saw his lights I’d hung up the phone with my midwife.  I had barely gotten on the freeway and could not figure out why he was pulling me over.  He walked up to my window and I was unmistakably, enormously pregnant.  He asked me if I knew my tabs were expired.  Five months expired.  As soon as I opened my mouth I’m sure he regretted it – it went something like this, with no breaths for air:

Oh my goodness no!  In October, what?  I thought they mailed you that little postcard that told you to get new tabs.  That’s right, I remember someone telling me that they don’t mail it anymore, have to save money somewhere.  But I never looked at my plates so I didn’t notice.  Oh my.  The midwife just called me and I just hung up with her when you were pulling me over.  She’s going to come to my house in two hours, TWO HOURS, and I’m going to have a baby.  TODAY!  So I’m, you know, a little frazzled and excited and I wasn’t expecting it to be today and I’ve got to get home and is there any way I can renew my tabs after the baby comes?

I’m pretty sure that wasn’t all but you get the idea.  I was a mile-a-minute to the moon bursting with excitement and nervousness and could not care less about my tabs just had to go home to get my home birth box all set up and my kitchen clean and have a baby and all.  As soon as I let him talk he said, “Oh wow, yeah you have a lot going on.  You get yourself home safely and have yourself a baby.  Just renew those tabs as soon as you can.”  I smiled and said I would and headed home.

I made the calls and picked up the house.  My sister started a dinner that would feed the midwife and whoever else was at our house.  The whole story was that the weather was cold and it was supposed to snow.  I have a history of fast labors, barely made it to the birth center last time.  And I was very progressed and ready but not in active labor.  So she gave me the option of them breaking my water so that we would know for sure that the midwife would be present for the delivery.  My husband had read the pamphlet entitled “What to do if baby arrives before midwife” and he said he really didn’t want to utilize the info.  Who could blame him.

The midwife and her student went to get coffee after my water broke and pretty soon I called them back to say that things were moving right along.  About three hours later a plump and purple-ish baby boy was born in our bedroom – with Rylee behind me rubbing my back and my mom and sister standing next to me with Kyler and Audrey. His daddy helped catch him and told us all “It’s a boy!”.  He got some oxygen and perked up and all I could think was “there are rolls EVERYWHERE”.  He was so plump and round.  After snuggling and getting rubbed off, he weighed in and everyone gasped.  10 pounds 11 ounces.  I was instantly thankful that he’d been born that day and not one day later!

We all sat on my bed together and soaked it all in.  It was the experience I had dreamed of but it still seemed very surreal.  It was bedtime so my mom and dad helped get kids in bed and we settled in for the night. We marveled together as we watched him sleep and counted ourselves tremendously blessed.

One year later and we’re not sleeping much but we wouldn’t trade the sleep for anything.  Phineas is a perfectly wonderful addition to our family.  We joke that he’s like a movie star in his own home.  Every time he wakes up from a nap there is fanfare and greetings galore for his sleepy, smiley face.  His brothers love to crash trucks to make him laugh.  His sisters love to snuggle and play baby with him.  His daddy loves to hold him in just the right spot on his shoulder.  His mama kisses his face and head all over.  Every single day.

Yes, it’s loud.  Yes, there is chaos.  Yes, we’ve got hard days just like everyone does.

But oh my, the love…there is
so.
much.
love.

first time for everything – he didn’t make a fuss, just fell asleep in his high chair
first time climbing into a drawer
finding the apple box
he's got a penchant for emptying the recycle bin!

A nine year old!

Nine years ago last week we welcomed a tiny, sick, premature baby into our family and became parents for the first time.  She has grown into an amazing, beautiful girl who will be a young woman before we know it.  This is her birthday letter (part of it at least…) from this year:

  You are nine years old.  My heart bursts with gratitude for the girl you are becoming.  As I watched you open gifts last night for your birthday you were so grown up and polite and genuine as you found delight in each present you had been given.  I did not have to remind you to say thank you and you were so grateful and so quick to appreciate what you received.  It reflected a growing up, maturing heart that is often a beautiful reflection of Jesus to those around you.

Your heart for others Rylee, its amazing.  And for years now I’ve agonized over the lack of friends for you in our life and how hard daily life with your brother can be day in and day out.  You endure a lot with him and sometimes you have such a great time.  But there are days that he hurts you with words, hands and attitude.  We’ve tried our best to provide friendship-making-opportunities for you but nothing great has panned out.

Until now.  God has heard our many prayers and He has opened up new doors with a sweet group of girls that I can see becoming long time, precious friends for you.  He cares so much about you.  He knew just who you would be and just what you would need.  As you head into the pre-teen years, you will crave companions and these new girls are perfectly suited to share life with you.  They love animals, they are in 4-H, they go to our co-op, they have parents who love Jesus….the list goes on.  I just want to make sure I wrote you about how faithful God has continued to be to you and how much we see Him in and around you.

You love to put your baby brother down for naps and are so proud when you get him to sleep.  You often ask me if I got much sleep when you see me in the morning.  You are quick to help with meal preparation and love, love to organize things.  You share.  A lot.  You are the apple of your little cousin Ruby’s eye.  I’m pretty sure you’ll need chiropractic help for your back after all the time you LOVE spending holding little ones.

You’ve identified our baby pattern and have resolved that the “next baby God gives us will be a boy”.  It’s that simple to you.  Our value of life, all life, is so internalized in you – it often truly blows me away.  How you will live out your life and your purpose with driving truths as counter culture as these I do not know.  I do know that your dad and I cannot wait to see your life continue to unfold.  Your sensitivity to what is going on around you in the lives, faces and hearts of others is far, far beyond your years.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

YOU ARE OUR TREASURE.

Our life, our family is so, so much better because of you.

Happy 9th birthday sweet girl!

Modeling the pillowcase dress she sewed last week at a 4-H sewing workshop!  After she shows it at the fair it will be donated to an orphanage in Haiti.

An epic night

We got an email invitation a few weeks ago to jedi warriors and princesses for a galactic evening to remember at Nana and Papa’s house.  In unbelievable Star Wars style, Monday night went down as one of the most anticipated fun fests in the history of the lives of our children….

The oldest four knocked on the door.  They waited and knocked again.  They were all dressed up as four Star Wars characters.  Then there was music.  Even through the front door we heard the blaring soundtrack as the exuberant “grandmother of Princess Leia” answered the door.  The kids grinned and went in.  “Welcome to the Crazy Canteena” she told them.  They walked upstairs to the kitchen and were greeted by tons of fog/smoke (from dry ice) pouring off the counters and a “fierce ” looking bad
guy (?) reaching up from the mist.

The kids did a dance in the kitchen with “Grandmother” and “Unknown Bad Guy Papa”

We had dinner, below is the ridiculously creative menu from Nana:

Then Papa gave a lesson from the Bible on wearing God’s armor and how God has the power to defeat all the bad.  It was pretty awesome.

Dessert was Death Star balls and little Darth Vader Delights – how cute are those little bad dudes?

It was a night to remember. We feel totally thankful to have such stellar grandparents for our kids nearby.  It is precious.

The tale of a little sister

Once upon a time there were three little girls.  The older two were more shy and would make the youngest one redeem their tokens for ice cream at the local Dairy Queen.  She wore a constant smile that young one and was a most darling little thing.  These three grew older and fought over clothes and other silly things.  They forged their own paths and discovered who they were.  The oldest sister and her boyfriend used to hang out often with the four years younger sister, great times were had and a friendship was forged that would last forever.

Youngest sister meandered into some circles of friends that were older and shared very different values.  Their pull was strong.  The temptation of a different life drew her far and fast away.  Hearts broke and the prodigal one wandered far.

Oldest sister started to journal and pray (parents did too, for certain) about the little sister.  Pages were covered with tears and words poured out.  Years passed.  Agonizing choices were made, truly things you might not be able to imagine.  Life’s consequences followed.

Love was given in the ways everyone knew how to give it.  Hope ebbed and waned.  The way the heart hurts watching one you love so much walk away burns a deep pain.

A slow, lengthy journey home began.  It has taken years for Redemption to weave His way back into her life.  The ones closest to her watched and loved and waited under what sometimes felt like unbearable weariness.

The oldest one often wrote letters to that youngest one.  The journey was a foreign one to her but she had, literally, seen the scars and sometimes didn’t know how to choke out the right words.  So she just wrote.

The young one let sleeping dreams awaken and pursued her hopes of becoming a nurse.  She pressed on, though academics were not her strongest suit and all the family (minus two brother in laws) was there across the country when she walked across that stage and received her diploma. The oldest gave her an engraved butterfly necklace that day.  It said simply, dream. Because she had.  And we got to watch.

After a couple of jobs in her field that were less than she’d hoped, she landed one at a local, excellent hospital where she has been stretched beyond her imagination.  But she’s done it.

Her story isn’t finished.  There were times those close ones thought it might be.  The ways her Father has sheltered her and saved her might be a forever mystery.

And now? She’s finding Love and she fell in love. Last week, that baby sister (though she’s almost 30, still a baby sis) married a sweet, strong, genuine man.  There were a few moments when middle sister and oldest sister shared a glance and tears brimmed.  Hard to believe it was really happening and in such a beautiful way.

My list continues…

#489 – the God ordained concept of marriage

#490 – a dry, sunshine filled evening for a wedding after weeks of summer rain

#491 – grass stains on ring bearer knees

#492 – how it feels to dress fancy and get gorgeous

#493 – a heart full that just wants to keep saying ‘thank you’

#494 – tiny baby Ruby toes painted cherry red

#495 – our mama extraordinaire without whom the wedding could not have come together

#496 – the look on his face when he saw her first

#497 – the children that surrounded my legs and covered my lumpy parts for wedding photos (and how much I wouldn’t trade them for a more lovely figure!)

#498 – the story God’s still writing

#499 – a front-pack-clad daddy who went way above the call of duty this day

#500 – a littlest sister that I love more than words could ever say