An Ending and an Invitation

On May 14th, 2011 I wrote my first post on this blog. Today I write my last.

This blog has been, and always will be, a special part of my life. It holds my thoughts during the most difficult season of my life thus far, but it also holds some of my biggest joys. These posts have been filled with serious reflections alongside “just for fun” stuff. Everything from recipes to vacation photos to home renovations. A new house, two babies, new jobs.

Life has changed a lot since that May and much of it is captured and preserved here.

But I’ve decided to make another change, one I’m really excited about… I’ve started a new blog! You can now find me at comesojourn.com. I really hope you’ll join me on this new adventure!

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Why a new blog? Well, some of you might remember a post from last April when I shared some of my uncertainty about where to go next with this blog. As much as I’ve enjoyed this blog as a sort of “catch all” for anything I wanted to write, I am feeling a pull to be more purposeful in my writing. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now and I feel that this new blog is a step in the right direction.

So what can you expect from Come Sojourn? Like I said, my hope is to be more purposeful… in both my content and my frequency of posting. My goal is to share one new blog post each week. These posts will be similar to many of the things I’ve posted here, sharing moments of my life with a focus on the way I see God’s hand in each and every part.

I’m also starting a new series called Weekly Word. This will be a chance to spend some time in the Word together every Monday. The first post will be up this coming Monday but you can check out the page now for a sneak peek of the topic.

I want to say a very sincere thank you to everyone who has read this blog, whether you’ve consistently followed or stopped in just a couple times. Thank you so much! I love to write and share my thoughts with you and I hope you’ll continue to give me that privilege by following me on Come Sojourn.

The first post is up so please stop by, take a look around, and tell me what you think!

 

 

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Dreams Come True (And the Big 3-0)

When I was 16 years old I mapped out my ideal future. And by mapped out I mean I literally drew a map with “landmark” sketches of the things I wanted to achieve and my hopes for what would happen.

It was the time when gel pens were cool and I had a set of glitter ones that looked especially pretty against my notebook with the black pages. I filled those pages with quotes and Bible verses, doodles, resolutions, and even a couple poems.

And my map of course.

I found the notebook recently and it made me smile to look back at those teenage musings and see where I am now. I was especially interested in the first page where I had drawn in a big cloud and filled it with my dreams for the future.

Some were serious, some pretty silly. Some have happened, some never will. And some are still waiting… on that page and in my heart.

I’m turning 30 tomorrow. My life hasn’t followed the map I idealized 14 years ago and my silver gel-penned list of dreams haven’t all come true.

But there are dreams my teenage self never could have imagined, like the feeling of her little hand in mine, and those dreams are so much better.

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There are dreams left to fulfill and dreams yet to discover. But right now I’m so thankful for the dreams come true… and this wonderful journey of life that God has given.

Her First Vacation

On Sunday we returned from a wonderful vacation to Tennessee.  This was our first vacation with Natalie and the first traveling we’ve done since she was born, so to say I was looking forward to it is an understatement.

At the same time, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a vacation with a toddler.  How would she do on the long car ride?  Would she adapt to sleeping in a new place?  Would she be happy coming along with us on all sorts of adventures?

Well, I have to give kudos to Natalie for being a super traveler.  She was content and flexible almost all the time and we were able to do many different things together.  There were a couple more challenging spots here and there (for example, sleeping in the pack n play wasn’t a favorite thing), but overall she was a champ!

If Natalie could, I think these would be some of the highlights she would share from her first vacation…

 

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Dixie Stampede!  Here’s a family photo on the cabin porch after dinner and a show at the Dixie Stampede.  She especially loved the horses, and I couldn’t decide what was more fun to watch, the show or her reactions to it!

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Aquarium of the Smokies.   She was a big fan of the penguins and the tunnel where she looked for sea turtles and watched the sharks swim over her head.

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Dollywood!  I squeezed myself next to her for the first ride, but from then on Natalie loved going on all the kid stuff on her own.  The carousel was another favorite (carry over from the excitement about horses after Dixie Stampede maybe?) and she rode it 5 times or so.

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Movies and play time at the cabin.  She also loved swimming in the indoor pool but I didn’t capture a picture of that unfortunately.

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And I can’t help but throw in one of my personal favorite things (which usually happened during nap time) – reading and enjoying the amazing view from the cabin porch!

I know Natalie won’t remember the trip, but we certainly will.  It will be fun to return in the future and relive stories with her as she gets older.  I am so thankful for the time we spent together and I will cherish our first vacation memories forever.

PS We stayed at Highland Plunge, a fantastic cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN.  It’s a beautiful and fun area for the whole family, a place I’d definitely recommend!

 

Lists for Summer

Today was the last day that teachers had to report at school.  The school year is now officially over and summer vacation has officially begun!  YAY!

Now it’s time to start tackling my summer lists.

I’m a big list person.  As in, I like making lists for almost anything and everything.  Of course I like checking things off my lists too!  For weeks (okay, make that months!) now I’ve had a few lists in mind for this summer.  The two main lists being my “to do” list and my “summer fun” list.

(And now I feel like I’ve said list too many times… it’s starting to sound funny in my head, haha!  Anyway, carrying on…)

The “To Do” is full of projects that had to wait for me to have more time and/or warmer weather, such as re-finishing/re-vamping some furniture, painting, and organizing our closet to name a few.

The “summer fun” one is just what you would think, ideas for fun things we’d like to do this summer.

Natalie can do so much more this year than she could last summer, and I’m looking forward to having lots of adventures together.  Many of my ideas revolve around being able to get outdoors, so hopefully the weather cooperates!  Even if it doesn’t, I have quite a few inside activities I’m excited for as well.

I like brainstorming all these ideas in advance so we can start setting aside time to do things.  I think it helps me do a better job of spreading the fun out along the whole summer, instead of trying to cram stuff in at the last minute when I realize the weeks are passing too quickly.

If you’re interested in starting a summer fun list of your own, or would like some ideas as a bouncing off point for your own family activities, you’re welcome to check out (and print if you’d like!) this list I created – Summer Fun List (Printable)

A few things on our own list are more personalized, but for the most part these are the ideas.  Hopefully I’ll have some fun stories to share as we check off the boxes this summer!

PS Last summer I wrote the Summer Challenge Series.  We enjoyed doing that as a family, but I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up with blogging quite as often this summer (read: shorter nap time for a certain little someone!) so I’m not going to do it again this year.  If you’re interested in looking back at last year though, this page has the links to each of the eight challenges.

The View From Here

It’s been 7 years since we said “I do”.

We spent Friday night and Saturday (our first overnight away from Natalie !) in Skaneateles and enjoyed a beautiful view of the lake from our room.

There was something so peaceful about looking out over the water.  The way everything is crisp and clear at the beginning, then fades into a horizon that is beyond our view.

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Isn’t that what life is like?

There’s the here and now right in front of our eyes but there is also the future, stretching unclear and unknown ahead of us.  We can dream and hope and plan, but the truth is… the future is always beyond our view.

As the years pass they become just that – the past – but on that day 7 years ago, when we held hands and kissed at the altar, every one of those years was the future.  Every moment was a distant horizon full of unknowns, but also full of promise.

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I am so thankful for our 7 years together as husband and wife.  As each new horizon has come into view – no matter what it brought our way – we have been together.

What does our future hold?  We don’t know.  But I’m glad to be looking out at that horizon together.  With Steve by my side the view from here is beautiful.

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Have Baby in Backpack, Will Hike

On Friday we took a day trip to Stony Brook State Park.  I missed going camping this year, so it was nice to get out and put on my hiking boots.

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We started our outing with a picnic lunch, then loaded Natalie up in the backpack to take our hike.

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We took a loop through the gorge, following the stream, enjoying the waterfall views along the way.

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Steve got quite the workout carrying Natalie up a bunch of stairs and climbs.  She was a trouper and seemed to enjoy it overall.

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We had fun being together on our little outdoor adventure.

Lions, and Tigers, and… Fish, Oh My! (Our Family Night)

Last night was family night in our house (see the Summer Challenge for this week) and we had a great time!  We actually started pretty early, so I guess you could call it family afternoon that extended into family night.

Steve came home early from work and we took Natalie to the zoo for the first time.  Going to the zoo has always been one of the things I really looked forward to doing with kids, so it was very special to experience Natalie’s first trip together.

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Natalie loves riding in her stroller, so we pushed her around for a bit and she just enjoyed the scenery, but we took her out and held her up by the animals so she could see better.

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The tiger was the first animal she noticed.

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The lions were up close and personal too, which was really cool and caught her attention.

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The tropical fish were actually one of her favorites – she kept trying to touch them through the glass.

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The elephants didn’t capture her focus quite as much, but I had fun watching them pull hay out of a hanging barrel for dinner.

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On the way home from the zoo, we picked up burgers and fries for dinner which we ate poolside at my parents house (they were gone for the day and we needed to check on the dog).  Then it was back home for bath time (for Natalie) and a movie (for us).

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Our movie choice?  Now You See Me – a mystery/magic/heist type of movie that kept me guessing the whole time.  We enjoyed it and I’d recommend it (not for young kids though).

I realized that this was the first movie we watched together in the new house!  We don’t watch movies as often now since I usually go to sleep early after putting Natalie to bed, so it was nice to spend that time together.

All in all a wonderful afternoon and evening together that left me feeling very thankful for our little family.