51 / 52 – Traditions

51 / 52 – Traditions

Branden and I have this tradition for the boys.  It started the first Christmas we had them both.  Silas had just turned two, and Ethan was only 9 months old.  We were young (and tired!) and didn’t really have money to get the boys presents, so we made them something.  Branden built them these small hand puppets and I crocheted them little toys – a robot for Silas (who he named Zombie!) and an octopus with dangly legs for Ethan.

The next year we still didn’t really have a lot of money for presents.  Branden shaped and painted wooden blocks and I crocheted two more toys.  The next year we had a little money, but we made them something anyways, just because we wanted to!  Each year since, we’ve given them a handmade gift for Christmas.  Now there are toys that they see in the store or see commercials for, but they usually ask what we’ll be making them :)

This is Branden finishing up this year’s handmade gifts at 1am this morning!  They’re now nestled among the other packages beneath the tree, waiting to be unwrapped.  We always try to do a lot of fun activities to celebrate the season, but making the boys a present has become one of our favorite ways to celebrate Christmas.  I’d love to continue this tradition forever!  I’m not sure what we’ll be making them when they’re 30 with families of their own, but I guess we’ll take it a year at a time!

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Here’s what I’m thinking about traditions:

  • They require consistency – you have to be present and intentional!
  • They usually require you to give of yourself for others – time, energy, money, attention
  • They become tied with an occasion – holiday, birthday, even a place
  • They become part of what makes something what it is – “For my birthday, we always…”
  • They connect people – Most traditions are people doing things together.  They require people and those people are what make traditions special!

I hope this season finds you celebrating, in your own special ways.  And if you’re away from your people, I hope you find that there’s still much to celebrate (and maybe new ways!)  I am thankful for this truth:

“This is how God showed his love among us.  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”  – 1 John 4:9

Happy Christmas from the Emerald Isle!

50 / 52 – The Double Gap

50 / 52 – The Double Gap

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The Double Gap.  An occasion worth documenting!  A reminder to me that time itself will both bring and take many things in this life.  And yet, time itself is what I should treasure.


I feel like Ethan has grown at least a couple inches since we arrived in Ireland!  He lost the first front tooth just a couple days after we moved. He’d been wiggling them for months.  The second one came out a few weeks ago.  Now the long awaited double gap means an exaggerated lisp (he’s always had an adorable, slight one!), more fun drinking from a straw, and the ability to wish for his two front teeth for Christmas!


To look at him, he’s all boy – running and playing, pretending, constantly beat boxing :)  The last little bit of baby is slowly fading away.  Seven and a half.  You think I’d be over it :)


He holds his own with his brother, with most other children.  He likes his own things, surprises me with his vocabulary almost daily, and actually knows how to tell real jokes (not just ones that are funny because he’s cute!)


But he’s still scared of the dark, still takes my hand when we walk, and picks me flowers everywhere we go :)

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I’m thankful for life and days together with these boys, and hope that we’ll make the most of each one, filling them to the brim with intentional interaction, eye contact, joy, discipleship.  And when the baby days have finally all gone, I hope the sweetness of days well spent will make their loss less bitter and the future fuller.

Sometimes they already look like young men.


40 / 52 – Home

40 / 52 – Home

Today is my Mom’s birthday!  It’s also our last day in the States before heading to the mission field in Ireland.

I got to spend the day with her yesterday, celebrating her (and running around trying to get all my last minute stuff done before leaving!)  We picked up a birthday gift, did a little shopping, and got massages, but mostly it was just really sweet to hang out together.


There have been a lot of seasons in my relationship with my Mom.  We’ve lived in my parents’ basement for a little over a year now.  It has had a few challenging moments, but for the most part, it’s been a gift, giving us time together before the season ahead, and I am so grateful!

We have this routine right now.  Before she heads to work in the morning, I get up and make her breakfast. We get a few minutes to chat before heading in different directions and beginning the day.  It’s been simple and become beautifully habitual.  And I think it’s going to be one of things I miss the most about home.

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There was a time when our hearts were away from each other.  Now we’re the closest we’ve ever been, and physical distance will separate us.  The word “Mom” has become synonymous for “Home.”  I’m so thankful for her, and for the year that we’ve had to be together.  Of all the things that are challenging in this transition, I think leaving her will be one of the hardest.  It’s not just that she’s walked with me through all the small and huge steps of the last year leading to Ireland.  It’s also the every day chats, eating food at her table and sitting down to meals together, sharing chores and kissing her goodbye before she leaves for work.

I’m thankful that as the Lord leads us, He is faithful to take care of our hearts.  In Him, we are not so far apart, and the promise of eternity teaches us to fix our hearts and minds on things above.  Home is ahead and not behind, and these days will be spent loving and living for the King and His heart to bring the world back to Himself.

Today my heart is both full and hurting.  In Jesus there is often both.  Tomorrow starts a new adventure, but today we’ll celebrate my Mom and enjoy family and look forward together.

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