For My Grandpa


Last Monday, I flew to Illinois to attend my grandpa's funeral. He was 96 and had been declining for several years, so although not unexpected, the reality and finality of death is sad. And yet, there was a peace and joy in it too, because my grandpa loved Jesus and had longed for heaven since my grandma passed away ten years ago.

There was a family service at the gravesite on a sunny and breezy Tuesday morning. The forecast predicted rain, which held off until we were having lunch at my uncle's house, and even then it was barely a sprinkle. My grandpa served our country as part of the United States Army in World War II. A flag was draped over the casket; there was a gun salute, and a member of the military played Taps.

On Monday night, the night before the funeral, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered in the house my grandma and grandpa built over half a century ago. We told stories and looked at pictures, and enjoyed being together.

It was bittersweet, saying goodbye to my grandparents' house. It is a large house, with original shag carpet and a long hallway in the basement that I always remember being afraid of. I walked slowly down the curved staircase with the purple carpet, into the back sitting room where we had our Christmas gift exchanges, the porch where the "kid table" always was and the dining room, with the long table that seated the adults. The bathroom upstairs with a long sink and carpeted stairs that led up to a bathtub, and the half bathroom downstairs where my dad would sit with me when I was a toddler having a meltdown. 

The kitchen table, where I last saw my grandpa.

The last time I saw my grandpa in person was December 2019. He was by that point a little confused about who people were; he was talking slower and taking longer pauses. But he sang for us and quoted Scripture, and those two things he wasn't confused about. 

My brother and sister and I were there at the table, and he asked us, "When is the last time you shared with someone about Jesus?" My grandpa wasn't perfect, and he wasn't always easy to have a conversation with, but one thing I remember about him is that he was always talking to anyone, anywhere, about Jesus. 

"Do you know for certain where you would go if you died tonight?" he would ask the waitress at the restaurant we were eating at. "Do you know Jesus?" he would ask the lady at the checkout counter of the store. As a kid, it was embarrassing how often he talked to strangers. 

When my grandma was alive, it was not at all uncommon for her to come out of the bathroom at a hotel and tell us that she had just led someone to Jesus. "You did what?" we would say. And my grandma would have gotten the person's name and phone number and told them that she was praying for them and would follow up.

I admit that I'm not the best at talking to people about Jesus. No, scratch that. I'm pretty terrible at talking to people about Jesus. Underneath my embarrassment for how long my grandpa took to pray before our meal when we ate out or how much he talked to people he didn't know, I was also in awe of how easy he made it seem. And maybe some of that is just getting older and not caring anymore what people think (I do think that was part of it).

In honor of my grandpa, I decided that on my flights to and from Chicago I would ask the person who sat next to me on the airplane if they had a prayer request. It's not quite as bold as straight up asking them if they know Jesus, but it felt like a big step for me.

I stood in line to walk into the plane toward Chicago, psyching myself up to talk to my seat mate, and no one sat next to me! I couldn't believe it. I guess God decided he didn't have a divine appointment for me that day. I got my chance on the way home. I felt super nervous and blurted out the speech I'd practiced in my head almost as soon as the person sat down. 

His name was Benjamin, and he seemed surprised and confused (I also think he had a hard time hearing me with the sound of plane engine and the mask and the fact that I was nervous and talking fast), but he said that I could pray for success in what he was doing. I honestly have no idea what he is doing or what he meant by success, and for all I know he just said the first thing he thought of to get the crazy lady to be quiet. But I was proud of myself for doing it, even if "it" wasn't really that big.

It felt like a lot, and really it shouldn't. Just like typing this out shouldn't feel like a lot either. I don't even have to see anyone face-to-face, and still it feels scary sometimes to talk about faith.

But as I sit here, writing about my grandma and grandpa, that's what I'm left with: their passion for sharing Jesus. An uncounted number of people greeting them in heaven because of their work here on earth.

This post is for my grandpa Bernie. 
I know for an undeniable fact that he is, indeed, now at rest, and at peace.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:19-21

Hobbies and Things


I'm going to try to write a "newsletter" of sorts on here once a month for the rest of the year and see how that goes. Obviously I fell hard off the blogging wagon and haven't been able to catch back up, but I really miss sitting down to write, and I still feel like this is a friendly place, waiting for me whenever I want to come back.

Another reason I'd like to try to keep at least a month recap going is because I've gotten super into scrapbooking lately, and my blog has served as a great reference, and I want it to continue to be a reference for future scrapbooking! 

My grandma got me into Creative Memories scrapbooking when I was in junior high, and it's been a passion and hobby of mine ever since. I love photography and editing, and then creating stories with those memories with physical and digital books. I get sad thinking about photos only living on my phone, and I regularly print out photos and make books. The majority of my digital books are created through Shutterfly or Chatbooks, but I also truly love making physical scrapbooks. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea, but for me it's a super calming, fun activity that I do after the kids go to bed.

I won't bore you with the backstory, but basically I started to run out of supplies and ideas, so I hadn't worked on my scrapbook in a while, but I recently discovered the rabbit hole of--not joking--scrapbooking instagrammers. Who knew that was a thing?! I immediately drove deep and am not mad about it. So the past few months I've spent most evenings working on my 2016-2018 and 2020 scrapbook. Unfortunately for 2019, it got skipped somehow, and I think at this point I'll probably just end up making a Chatbook with all my 2019 pictures.

Yes, I am a crazy picture person. I regret nothing.
I just want my photos to live outside of my phone! It's weirdly important to me.

When I'm not scrapbooking, I've also taken on a very labor-intensive project: training for a full marathon. I won't bore you with the backstory on that either, but the long and short of it is, I'm registered to run my third full marathon (26.2 miles) in Chicago in October. I started training at the end of May, and my monthly mileage has pretty quickly been increasing as my runs have gotten longer. In August I ran 115 miles, and September should top that.

It has been harder than I thought, and harder than Jordan thought. My previous two marathons were both in 2013, pre children, when I could leave the house basically whenever I wanted to run as far or as long as I needed. Fitting 1-3 hour runs into my day with 3 kids and a full-time job is a real challenge, and I guess maybe it sounds like, "well duh," but honestly I didn't think it would be quite so demanding on my time and energy. As I often end up saying about things I sign up for, it's possible I didn't fully think this though.

Nevertheless, I'm only just over a month away from the race, and feeling excited and nervous and ready to not run so dang much. In June, July, and August I've run 4x a week except for a few weeks, and that's the most consistently I've run in the past 11 years of my running "career." And it's been I do have a time goal because that's just who I am, but my main goal is truly to enjoy the experience. I doubt I will ever do anything like this again, and I am so excited to be back in my favorite place ever doing one of my favorite things!

The past year has been crazy hard. Everyone has their own different circumstances, their own different challenges, their own opinions and beliefs and thoughts. But the one thing we can all agree on: it's been unanimously hard for everyone. I'm thankful to have had this race as a goal and something to work toward this year--something that's gotten me out of the house now that I'm working from home; something that's kept both my mind and my body active; something that is challenging and hard and something that I can be proud of just for myself.

I hope the summer has treated you well. There are a lot of very scary and sad things going on right now, and I don't want to act like it's all been easy and fun. There have been hard decisions and lots of questions, more questions, and more hard decisions. To be honest, I'm very tired of all the arguing and noise, people shouting at each other with no intention of trying to listen to what the other person is saying or where they are coming from. I read a post recently where the writer said that we need to "posture yourself with charitableness." I love that. Take up a position of grace, of kindness, even when you don't agree.

To anyone reading this, I'm glad you're here! It felt so nice to type out some words in this space again. Happy September, friends.

First Family Trip with Five


Last weekend we took our first family trip as a family of five! We rented a two-bedroom house from Air BnB, and drove the few hours north to Tulsa for a four-day weekend.

I know Tulsa, Oklahoma, is not going to be anyone's first thought of grand vacation destination, but it was actually a really fun time! We visited the Oklahoma Aquarium, a super neat park called The Gathering Place, and a local business called Adventure Avenue that offers indoor play areas with costumes, a play kitchen room, fire engine, and other fun toys.

F was born last February right before the pandemic hit, so that plus the fact that it's difficult to eat out with kids meant that we had never gone to a restaurant with all five of us, and then we did it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the same day! And it actually went as well as I could have hoped.

The kids had a great time, and so did we, but I won't lie. We. were. tired. It takes approximately 800 times longer to do anything with little kids. Exhausting.

We had trouble getting them to bed at night, everyone refused naps during the day, and we ate McDonald's for dinner on Saturday night instead of the local Italian place that Jordan and I wanted to go to because the kids were freaking out about getting chicken nuggets. It wasn't a perfect trip by any means. 

But I'm so happy we were able to make this happen and get away for a couple of days. R and J still talk about our trip to Arkansas (the same trip as that poop story Jordan likes to remind me of LOL), and they were super excited to go on another family trip... this time we really leveled up the cool factor in our minivan ;)

I did feel a little bad for F. He's not quite old enough to play with the big kids, especially because he can't walk yet. But he's 14 months old, which is old enough to have opinions but not old enough to understand why he can't do what he wants. But he seemed to have a good time for the most part. He loved the aquarium and the fish, even more than the big kids did!

Just a reminder, in case you needed one, that you don't have to plan an expensive, extravagant vacation. A long weekend in a town a short drive away can do the trick just fine!