Category Archives: random

adding to the collection

Just finished my annual Christmas song hunt on iTunes…always feel the need to add a couple new melodies to our collection of songs for my favorite time of year.  At the moment, my favorite new find: Jon McLaughlin’s “Hallelujah This Christmas” is putting a smile on my face.

Today is the beginning of our Thanksgiving break.  No school for a whole week.  I started the day with a lot of good intentions…put the kiddos to work organizing and cleaning out toy bins and drawers, mostly to get space ready for where our Christmas tree will reside. But, 3/4 of the way through, I found myself drawn to something better… iTunes Holiday music.  So, here I am, mesmerized by the Christmas music that is almost drowning out the loud screams of my crazy children, (who have inevitably giving up the collection of lego pieces and broken crayons) thinking I could multi-task a blog post while I lull myself into peace.

In front of me sits my Thanksgiving meal lists- the menu, the recipes (trying a new one this yr),  and the giant grocery list yet I don’t even feel overwhelmed.  I’m feeling so grateful for this time of year.  Perhaps it feels even more special because at this moment last year our house was carefully packaged into a hundred brown boxes and plastic bins, and though I was excited for what was coming…it felt very sad to skip Christmasifying our home.  I do not recommend moving during the holidays.  Bringing Christmas to life in our house is my favorite- nothing brings comfort and cozy together better than strings of white lights and real trees inside.

I’ve wanted to put out our Christmas decorations since September but I’ve held off.  Not because I believe in any rules of the season, but because I love weaving real Christmas tree branches everywhere in the house and one cannot find those until Christmas trees start appearing.  So, alas, I have waited patiently.  I am still burning my fall Apple Pie candle happily, and staring at my giant GIVE THANKS reminder above the cupboards.  Fall is shorter here in California, but it’s still been beautiful.

I’ve been so thankful for this new fall season- one where I get to be in school again.  The last time I started school in September was seven years ago, my last year of teaching, before baby Josiah showed up.  I have been loving school- I’m learning so much and growing even more.  Feeling the Father’s love over me in an even bigger way makes this Thanksgiving and Christmas season seem even more special.

Ok, back to work.



life at the moment

Here I am. Bart and Josiah are at soccer practice.  Regan, my sick little boy, fell asleep at 4:30pm and it’s now past 6 and he’s still in dreamland.  I’m trying not to dread what tonight might hold if he can’t fall asleep and kinda hoping he’ll just continue until the morning.  So, Maya and I are chillin.

Today felt weird.  I’ve been charging full speed ahead with school and all that our lives are filled with…plus my dad visited, which was wonderful.  And then screeeeech.  The doctor said Regan has bronchitis yesterday and suddenly I find myself at home, for 2 days.  What used to feel normal now feel’s kinda weird, but kinda nice.

I quieted the house today- put away all my spring/summer decor that has been up since January when we moved in.  The weather is SO divine right now- gosh- living through a summer of 110 degrees makes 80 feel like an arctic tundra in the most beautiful way.  It’s funny to realize how many rules I created for myself during the summer…from what I wore (all black, doesn’t show sweat) to not buying chocolate unless I was immediately headed home (it would melt so fast).  I couldn’t even leave flats of water bottles in the trunk for later…the plastic would melt and get distorted.  My car window came unsealed because of the heat…no amount of rolling down windows would cool off the car, I felt thirsty all. the. time.  Its bizarre.

So, that’s behind us- and life is really nice.  I am so thankful for school- for my 3 kiddos and myself.  It’s a whole different frame of mind, but it makes me so much more productive.  I’m realizing how much I can accomplish with limited amounts of time.  It’s invigorating.  I love being back in a classroom setting, learning every day.  I’m even embracing the homework.  I know, weird right?

This is such a boring post.  I just wanted to tell you that I’m alive.  Hopefully I’ll be back soon with something insightful.


you have your grandma’s laugh

gramWe said goodbye to my grandma this week- one of my very favorite people of all time.  Esther Clara Swenson left this world on Monday and I haven’t stopped remembering since.  She was truly a gift to our family and such a joy to be near.

One of the many things I admired about my grandma was her desire for community.  She was a sincere friend to anyone and everyone.  Even when I was much younger I remember always hearing her talk about her friends and siblings, as if their lives were so intertwined, one and the same.  We started writing each other letters when I moved away, and I loved getting her cute cursive notes, filled with information about whoever was sick, her recent lunch dates or current walking partners.  Even in her last few years, when we’d fly home for visits and head up to Park View to see her, I always got to meet a tableful of smiley women, usually different ones each time, and it made me so happy.  In a world full of people longing to be seen, she saw.  She never stopped reaching out, turning strangers into friends…a true treasure.

I loved her humor.  The last two times I saw her, even in her distressed state, she still joked with my sons and then with my sister and I.  Laughter was so important to her, just as it is to me.  She was so good at it, smiling was her favorite.  On one of our last visits, grandma was sharing a room with a sweet bed-ridden woman who desperately wanted company and kept asking me questions, trying to make conversation.  All I wanted to do was soak in the precious moments with my grandma, but as we neared the end of our time that day, after I had laughed loudly, that dear woman exclaimed “You have your grandma’s laugh”!  It stopped me in my tracks, tears welling up immediately.  I don’t remember ever being told that…but it makes me smile each time I think about it now, especially because my laugh is such a part of who I am.  I wanted to hug that lady as I walked out the door, tucking that little nugget into the special place where all my granddaughter memories reside.

It’s actually difficult to separate the memories of my grandma from the whole of my life, because she was present for so much of it.  I am so thankful she was such a fixture all of these years.  I remember sleepovers at my grandparents house, the best mac-n-cheese, homemade popcorn and Saturday morning cartoons (we didn’t own a tv, so this was such a treat).  I remember her stories about the farm, and Pa, Wanda, Leona, Oscar, Arnie…I giggle at her family’s names because they were just so darn cute.  Her childhood seemed like another world, yet she melded into mine so seamlessly.  I remember her old telephone with the round dial that I used to play with endlessly…the seagulls in the bathroom, the storage room upstairs with extra snacks, and searching for treats in her freezer.  I remember the night I stayed at their house awaiting my little sister’s birth…and the countless other major life happenings she was a part of.

I remember her cute little house and all the times I dreamed of what I would do to renovate…even though as I look back now, it was perfectly cozy and exactly my grandparents.  I remember her faithfulness as my grandpa deteriorated- so loving and strong and steadfast- never wavering in her care for him.  Eleven years ago, I remember laughing with joy as she danced the night away at my wedding.  I remember when she met my first born son- he was a giant baby and the picture of my little white grandma holding my roly-poly black son still makes me chuckle, even through these tears.  It was so special to be able to introduce my children to my own grandmother.  She was always so happy to see me, and my family, every time.  She always tried to kiss me on my lips and though I often resisted, the last time I saw her I kissed her square on the lips with pride and held onto that hug for a long time.  My sister had suggested I pray for her…and I couldn’t finish without tears welling up.  All I could think about was that it might be the last time I held her hand…and it was.

I recently recall a conversation surrounding the beauty of how well-loved my grandma was.  In this day and age, sadly, it’s unique and amazing that my grandma ended up with three sons who adored her (not to mention all the rest of us family members).  Throughout her life, but especially in these last few months her sons selflessly tried to out-serve one another and it was incredibly touching to watch.  I have thought long and hard about her secret…how did she do it- how did she end up surrounded by such dedication and affection?  And I know.  It was love.  It was connection.  She knew how to make people feel seen, heard, and valued.  She knew how to stay connected and love really really well.  She knew that was more important than anything else.

I am so thankful for all these years I was able to see a life well lived.  She was a gift.  One of faithfulness and honesty, one of acceptance and generosity, one of laughter and kindness, one of joy and unconditional love.  I am so so so glad I got to be her granddaughter.

Until we meet again Grandma…


ten years in between

It just hit me recently that ten years ago, at this time, Bart and I were moving to Kansas City, Missouri to begin a new adventure.  We had quit our jobs in New Jersey and applied for an internship at the International House of Prayer.  I’m pretty sure we never dreamed what would happen from that one decision (read: love, freedom, jobs, adoption, friends, moves- to name a few).

Ten years later, here I sit, in Redding, California- ready to embark on another spiritual school.  I can’t help but feel grateful for the gift it has been to learn about God from incredibly wise, Jesus-loving teachers.  Our internship at IHOP laid some of the most important groundwork in my spiritual growth- it was there I truly learned who Holy Spirit is- and that relationship grew so much.  I could liken it to a good buddy becoming my closest friend and confidant.  It’s been my favorite ever since.  Hearing His voice has changed me so profoundly…I’m not sure there are words to describe before and after.

I love growth.  I don’t ever want to stop changing.  I know there is always more room to learn…especially when it comes to the knowledge of God.  Each drop of wisdom about the Creator of this world brings such incredible opportunities to grow and change.  Almost every week in the past few months, I’ve been reminded of a quote by C.S. Lewis that just sends a knife to my heart and re-lights the fire in me…over and over.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”


AHHHHH.  SO GOOD.  SO TRUE.  There is MORE.  SO MUCH MORE.  INFINITE JOY?!?!  YES!  My prayer for this year is to be challenged and encouraged to find the more.  I’m not even sure what it all means…but I can rest in the fact that God knows.  I’m just excited, really excited.  Bring. It. On.

i’m here.

It’s my dad’s birthday today!  Happy Birthday POPS!  WE LOVE YOU!

I feel like I’m still recovering from my trip up north- I took the 3 kiddos solo and it was, a trip.  I’m reminded of this article I read last year…Vacation or Trip?  A Guide for Parents and my trip totally included throw-up devices.  Alas.

Also yesterday was supposed to be 116 degrees.  I don’t think it made it up that high, but it doesn’t matter- it’s the principal of the thing.  My aunt from Alaska arrives today, and I’m hoping she doesn’t melt the second she steps onto land here.

I gotta say, as I looked through the Nordstrom Anniversary sale this year, it was so weird to not be thinking about winter coats or even sweaters…I’ve heard it’s warm all the way through the Fall- though, I’m excited for that ‘warm’ because it’ll feel more like a summer I’m used to.  And then we arrived in December of last year and I already know I love winter here, because it feels like fall.

Speaking of clothing…I’m kinda freakin out that I need clothing to dress myself for actual society at least 5 days a week starting very soon.  Guys, I’ve survived on a plethora of comfy clothes not suitable for outside my home walls for years…and a couple choice outfits that rotate around, based on the fact that I don’t usually see the same people ever- so I exist on the outside with the same two shirts with the same one pair of jeans.  AHH!

Other random thought…have you guys ever worn modal fabric?  It’s my absolute favorite thing in the world I think.

Another favorite in life right now- on our road trip, I re-introduced my kids to the original Lion King and forgot how much I LOVE that movie and all the songs.  I was belting them out down the highway louder than they were.  Upon our return I found that  a tv show has been made as a continuation of this marvelous movie…which I promptly bought the first season of.  But even better- they are remaking the original by 2019!

In other news- I found out this week that Maya has to wear close-toed shoes to preschool and thus started my search for shoes for her.  She’s notoriously picky when it comes to footwear- even more than I.  Thanks to my best friend Zappos (free shipping/free returns) I ordered ten pairs to start for my littlest child- to which she literally turned her nose up to all the ones that weren’t pink…until her daddy stepped in and declared some silver shoes to be “Cinderella’s!!” and magic- she tried them on.  She also stripped off her clothing and ran to find her Cinderella dress and I really hope that doesn’t happen every time we try and put them on.  So, right now, we have one pair of shoes that pass her rigorous testing.

One of my other quirky kids is getting to celebrate his birthday a month early…Regan has struggled to wait “all summer” for his birthday every year now.  It’s tough because Josiah’s birthday is June 4 so we start the summer with a bang and then he literally cries at the idea of waiting until August 27.  So…this Friday is Regan’s 6th birthday instead.  I can’t wait to spend the day enjoying the most enthusiastic birthday (or anything!) person in our family.

Then, next weekend my brave husband decided to join Bethel’s Father/Son camping trip- I’m so impressed!  Not one of them has ever slept in a tent…so this is gonna be epic.  It’s designed for boys age 5-12 and their dads- I can’t wait to hear the stories.

I think I’ll probably just watch lots of Netflix while they are gone, but what I should do is work more on reading my first book assignment for school…When Heaven Invades Earth– it’s due by the first week of class.  I started it this week and realized I have an irrational fear of forgetting- based on the fact that I forget what every book I read is about, exactly 5 minutes after I finish.  If I’m lucky, I can remember that I loved it or just liked it- because if I find any disdain, I don’t even finish a book.  EEk.  Now I’m jumping into school, where actual book reports are required.  So I’m nervously reading a chapter and scanning for anything I can use- then furiously taking notes.  It’s taking a bit more time.  Hoping my brain will adapt, sooner rather than later.

If I was really motivated and my daughter was amazing out in public, I would take a trip down to San Fran for the day… just to see the Color Factory.  Have you heard about this?  It’s a pop-up experience celebrating color…and everything I’ve seen so far make it look amazing, incredible and fantastic- I might be a color-lovin’ dork, but I’m proud of it.

Last random thought before I go…anyone in need of a cute planter?  Here’s a cute pink whale… or an adorable hedgehog or even this hedgehog.  So cheap, so adorable.  Buy it and throw a succulent in them.  In my honor.  Because I can’t grow plants in this no-natural-light house.

Okay.  Over and out.

happy birthday brinks

I usually always write a birthday post for each of my kids…but I haven’t done one for Brinks in a long time.  So here I am.  Perhaps I’ll blame it on the most recent dog movies I’ve watched- A Dog’s Purpose *sobs!!* and Megan Leavy *tears*, or her sad leg injury that had me crying at the vet a few months back…but I’m becoming more nostalgic and sentimental (both the same word ha!) about my dearest canine friend lately.  Today is her EIGHTH birthday…she’s 56 if I calculate correctly.

I’ve never been obsessed about my dog but I love her to pieces.  She brings peace to my home- I never have to worry about scary sounds or intruders…have you ever heard her bark?  She brings cleanliness to us daily- I can’t imagine how much more I’d have to vacuum if she weren’t in our lives.  I truly don’t know how people do life with toddlers without a dog.  She brings me joy- perhaps because she’s the easiest of the family to please and never holds a grudge.  She is sweet and patient and ever present.  I just love her.

Happy Birthday dearest Brinks!!!  Now I’m going to go through all our old pictures and probably tear up as I post a few here.  Excuse me while I go now.


I bought a paper planner

I haven’t purchased a paper planner in seven years.  I still remember looking at my current planner the year Josiah was born and finding it incredibly empty by the end of that year- 2010.  And I LOVED my analog (ha!) planner, despite so many people telling me to turn digital.  I just enjoy hand writing things…color-coding…checking off boxes and crossing things out.  Over the years we’ve acquired a calendar app for the family which works great for multiple people usage, but I couldn’t wait for a reason to say goodbye to the digital world just a little.

What’s my reason?  Why now…after 7 years, did I purchase the most beautiful Rifle Paper planner?  I’m going back to school!!!  Surprised?  Um, I’m pretty shocked myself.  When we moved to Redding in December, I had no plans…at some point, I knew we wanted to adopt baby #4 but was trusting (and still am) that God will show us the right timing in that.  Honestly, I just figured I’d do the mom thing some more- get involved where I could, make some friends- do life.  In no way did I think I’d be attending Bethel’s ministry school this year, though I’ve always had it on a bucket list for when all my kiddos were done with the toddler years- many years from now.

However, this spring I found myself trying to persuade my little sister into applying… and one night I jumped on the computer and started the application myself.  All the while thinking, there’s no way this will work out but fun to dream nonetheless.  But my heart came alive with the possibility, so I just kept going.  When it came time for my interview and was asked ‘why do you want to do this school?’ I could confidently say that

I want to be pushed out of my comfort zone…

I want to be challenged…

I know there’s more for me, for my family…

I want freedom in areas of my life that I don’t even know are locked up…

I want to know God more.

Several have asked what I will “get” at completion…implying that I might be attending to pursue a specific career in ministry…but I’m not, at least that I know of.  Ha!  There’s no degree or credits or anything of that sort- this is purely for spiritual growth.  I’ve heard it’s like being at a Bethel conference for 9 months!  I’m excited and nervous but so ready for a change.  While I have loved having my sole career be ‘mom’ for the last 7 years, I’m looking forward to adding to those joys/responsibilities this fall.

I have loved watching God work out the details- my kiddos were all accepted to Bethel Christian school for the fall, which means the times of my classes and theirs will work out seamlessly.  Praying for all the finances to come in, but I just feel so confident that He is leading and this is exactly the right timing.  As of now, I’m taking it one year at a time (there are 3 years of schooling possible) and seeing what happens.  BSSM starts at the end of next month- crazy!  I am hoping to post more on this little blog as life changes drastically soon…but time will tell.  This space may go on hold…we’ll see.

Last month I ordered 3 little enamel pins very strategically, for my school bag (eek! I have a school bag now- ok, it’s an old bag I used for a carry on but now…).  I am claiming them as my little mantras if you will, a few words to live by.  (


I know it’s going to be crazy and hard and wonderful, but through it all, I want to truly enjoy the journey, as cheesy as that sounds…I want the JOY.


I want to keep what matters and get rid of the rest.  I also want to keep what is most important in the front of my mind…my relationship with Jesus, my marriage, my children… they all come first.  But I don’t want to be afraid to say goodbye to a lot.


This is what most excites me…creating something new- new habits, new beliefs, new ways of life…new hopes, new dreams…HE makes all things NEW.