Saying Yes to the Job

I remember sitting on our green velvet couch (a garage sale find), in our rented duplex, the day Matt came home from a college job fair.  He asked how I felt about moving to Omaha after graduation.  I thought it sounded like a fun adventure and was totally onboard.  10 years ago, the weekend after graduation, we rented a small U-Haul, and headed 5 hours north.  We rented a small townhouse in a part of town that in hindsight, probably wasn’t in the best area.  But it worked for us.

Matt’s first day of work

It was such an exciting time and we quickly found a church, friends, community.  I found an amazing job.  And we were able to buy a brand new couch, from a real furniture store.  We bought a sectional that was so big, it hardly fit in our townhouse.  But we said goodbye to the green, velvet, garage sale special.  We had it made.

College World Series


When I recall all the connections and relationships we made, I see God in every detail.

Small group= amazing friends
Amazing boss and coworkers

Although we were only there for 2 years, we put down deep roots.  I’m not sure what we were expecting 10 years ago when we said yes to our first move.  We were young and naïve.  But I can honestly say I  wouldn’t change a thing.  The many moves, the constant change, the stepping out in faith, has helped shape me into the person I am today.  There are certain things you learn only when your comfort zone is ripped away.  It is then you have to decide where you are going to stake your identity and purpose.

It can be difficult to go through life, not knowing how long you will live in a certain area.  It can be tempting to put up walls and keep people at arms length.  It can feel isolating and lonely.  But you always have a choice.  And friendship and community is a choice, even though it might not be forever.  A good friend encouraged me to put down roots with people, not places.  When I look at it through that lens, I have put down many roots, rich roots.  Roots I never would have been able to put down had I lived in one place my whole life.  While it hurts when I move or others move away, I know that I’m fortunate to have met so many great friends.

The past 10 years have been many things, adventure filled, exciting, trying, frustrating.  But most importantly, they have deepened our trust in God. (DISCLAIMER: we  are NOT moving or leaving Kiewit, this is just in celebration of Matt’s 10 years with the company)


Celebrating Father’s Day

It has been 8 years since I’ve had the chance to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad.  As I walk through stores this time of June, it’s hard to miss the displays of gifts for Father’s Day.  I find myself wondering what I would get my dad this year, if he were still here to celebrate.  When I see a unique gift or gadget, I’m curious if my dad would have liked it.

We always made a big deal about Father’s Day.  My dad loved a good party and enjoyed seeing what we would plan for him.   One year, my brother and I took him out on a pontoon boat and ended it with steaks on the grill.  Another year, my sister and I planned a seafood boil for him.  We had crawfish, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn.  He joked how he would eat seafood for every meal, given the chance.  Still another time we planned a fun brunch at a restaurant downtown.  The owner was a chef we enjoyed watching on TV.  Whatever we chose to do, it always revolved around food.

These days, my kids and I spend Father’s Day celebrating and honoring their dad.

I know how hard and how important a dad’s role is.  That’s why I am so thankful my kids have a dad who loves God, works hard to provide, shows up, loves to spend time as a family, spends hours playing catch with Levi and treats Ellie like a princess.

This Father’s Day, no matter what season in life you are, whether your earthly dad is still here or not, and regardless if he is or was a good dad, we all have a Father to celebrate. We have a Dad who we matter to, One who sees us, One who cherishes us, and One who will never let us down.  And regardless if this is a happy holiday or a hard one, we can be confident that we are wrapped in the unconditional love of the Good, Good Father.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1

My summer must haves

Now that summer is unofficially here, bring on the warm days spent outside!  Summer is absolutely my favorite.  I can easily fall into the slower rhythm of life, days spent outside, lounging by the pool.   I have some favorite items that are perfect for summer time.

First is my new water bottle, that I might be a bit obsessed with, my S’well bottle.  I love how cold it keeps my water and it easily fits into my purse or pool bag.  It never leaks and never sweats.  I slip a couple of lime slices into my water for nice flavor and encouragement to stay hydrated.IMG_4332






A friend gave me a Shop | Strands beach towel as a gift and I love it!  It is huge, absorbent, and super soft.  I use it as a blanket at the beach and the weighted tassels keep it from blowing around.  It can be washed easily and folds up in a neat bag.  The cute  design is just a bonus


Havaianas flip flops are my favorite, I wear them every day in the summer.  They are so comfortable and lightweight.  If you come to visit me, I may or may not take you to the Havaianas shop in Huntington Beach where you can custom make a pair.   I recently saw that Havaianas now has sunglasses, so naturally I needed some.  The sides are made of rubber and are very flexible, not too tight.  They have several cute styles and colors.

                                             Image result for slim steel grey havainas  Image result for havaianas sunglasses

Sun Bum is a great product line.   All of their products smell like you are vacationing on a tropical island.  I have used their sunscreen, hair products and chapstick and I love them all. Image result for sun bum sunscreen





I’ve been using Not Your Mother’s styling spray, on those days when it’s too dang hot to blow dry your hair.  It helps reign in the crazy waves I have.  They have several products for whatever hair type you have.

Finally, one of my favorite nail colors right now is Essie’s Mint Candy Apple.  It is a fun switch from the pinks and reds I normally wear.

Image result for essie candy apple mint

I hope your summer is off to a great start.  Let me know what some of your favorite summer items are!

Surviving a traveling husband

Lately, we find ourselves in a season where Matt’s traveling is the rule instead of the exception. It often feels like he is gone more than he is home. The days can feel long and I am regularly looking for where I left my patience. While he is gone, there are a few things I try to do consistently, that help the days flow better.
The first is making sure I have some quiet ‘me-time’ each morning. While it can be hard to force myself out of bed while it is still dark, I never regret the silent moments I have to myself. I look forward to a fresh cup of coffee, the warm glow of a candle and a well-used journal, waiting to record my thoughts. It helps set the tone for the day and I’m a much nicer version of myself when I have time to wake up before being bombarded with other’s needs.
Exercise is high on my priority list, whatever that looks like with the time I have. Sometimes it is running, or walking, or yoga, or chasing after kids. I try to get a workout done first thing in the morning, before too many excuses creep in. There is a direct correlation between my mental state and my exercise level.
I love having a good book to dive into after the kids are in bed, it is a good way to spend the evenings. A fun TV show also helps. Right now I am reading A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. It is a great summer novel. And I am loving Poldark, a Masterpiece mini-series set in the 18th century.
One of the most important things I do is regularly managing my expectations. Many false thoughts and feelings can creep in if I don’t keep those in check, including bitterness, pity, entitlement, resentment. I have to regularly remind myself truth and silence the lies that can start to sneak in.
While I hope this travel schedule doesn’t last forever, I am so thankful for Matt and his hard work. As they say, “The days are long but the years are short”. I know this is just a season in our life and the best thing for me to do is embrace and enjoy it.

Things I do well

Sometimes we tend to focus on the things we don’t do well, the negatives. Today, I want to share 5 things I feel I do well. Some of them really well. I hope it doesn’t sound like I am bragging too much.
1.  I make a good boxed mac n cheese. After years of practice, I have perfected it to a super creamy and delicious balance. Some might call it a talent.
2.  I have a special skill in wasting time on social media. I can easily turn 5 minutes into 30 minutes on Instagram, no problem.
3.  I have powers to make socks disappear, especially 2 minutes before it is time to leave for school. I have, on occasion, been known to buy more socks, in an effort to avoid doing laundry.
4.  I can dive into a parallel universe when reading a good book. I can tune out everything around me, including my kids and their requests, and I can read for hours. Minor things, like meal times and bed times, lose their importance.
5.  How quickly I can accumulate junk and trash in my car is high on my expertise list. I can have a completely clean car in the morning, and by evening it will look like a tornado hit the inside of it.
I’m sorry if these special gifts I have make you jealous, that’s not my intent. I felt today was a good day to be positive, to stop looking at what we do wrong, and to draw attention to all the things we do right. I’m curious, what do you do really well?

Joining together as moms

As fellow moms, we have a great opportunity to encourage and come along side one other.  We can learn from those who are farther down the road and we can support those who are just getting started.  We forget all too quickly how it feels in each stage with our kids.  But no matter which stage we find ourselves in, we can play an important role.  From new moms to Grandmas, we can learn from and teach one another.

  1. Find someone who is ahead of you in the journey of motherhood.  Be willing to ask for advice and help.  Don’t try and be an island, we’re better together.
  2. Be willing to step into someone’s day-to-day and help them.  Offer to hold the baby so mom can shower, or better yet, nap!  Offer to run after the toddler who can’t sit still so mom can have some peace.  Offer to carpool with the mom who has 3 kids in different activities.  Offer to take the teenager out for coffee, re-enforcing the truth her mom is teaching her.
  3. Use caution with your words.  While we are usually well meaning when we offer “wisdom”, it does not always come across that way.  Remember our memory as moms is selective and sometimes biased.  If you are a mom of older kids or a grandma, and you think your kids ‘never acted that way’,you might be remembering wrong.  Even if you are right, most likely that isn’t the encouragement that mom needs to hear.  Our words can either encourage or discourage, they are powerful.

 There are days when I feel like a failure as a mom.  I’m convinced I’m the only one having certain issues or problems.  Almost always, however, when I open up and share what I’m going through, I find others who are experiencing the same thing, or who have gone through it already and can offer advice.  This Mother’s Day, let’s work on looking for areas where we can build others up.  Motherhood is a marathon that sometimes feels like a boxing match.  Let’s be cheering on the sidelines and helping in the corner of the ring.

Preconceived Notions

Have you ever had preconceived ideas about something new or unknown?  I had a lot of ideas about California before we moved here.  I was sure I was going to get a fine for not recycling correctly.  (I don’t think that is a thing).  I thought all people I met would be fake and superficial. (Not all of them are).  I was convinced I would never get anywhere because of the traffic. (This actually happens).  I’m happy to say that my views of California have changed, thanks to our community and friends.

I have also realized some people have their own ideas about the Midwest.  I have heard numerous Wizard of Oz jokes, asking me if my name is Dorothy or where my red slippers are.  Some people think Kansas City is a small town.  There was the time when I met a fellow school mom at the park one day.  (She ended up being one of my dearest friends) As we talked, it came up that we were new here and I told her I was from Kansas City.  A couple of weeks later she introduced me to some others as being from Kentucky.  When I corrected her, she asked me if there was a difference between Kansas City and Kentucky.IMG_4188

Weather is always an interesting topic, like the time when it was hailing outside and my friend said, “It’s snowing!” She tried to convince me that hail and snow are the same thing.  No, no they aren’t.   Or the time someone told me they wished they could live somewhere where there was a real winter, including snow.  I chuckled and thought to myself, “Spoken like someone who has never endured a real winter”.

I now laugh at the silly ideas I had in my head before we moved here.  And I just want to say, “Sorry I judged you, California.  I will try to lay aside my bias in the future.”

These are a few of my favorite things

Acaí berry bowls are at the top of the list of my favorite things.  Most people say “huh?” when I tell them about them.  They are fruit blended for a base, like a smoothie.  Then they are topped with fresh fruit, granola, honey…delicious!  There are 2 places close to me that make them.  But I make them regularly at home.  All you need are frozen acaí berries (they come in the freezer section).  Blend those with other fruit you like, strawberries, mangoes, blueberries, along with some liquid (juice or coconut milk).  Pour that mixture into a bowl. Top with your favorite things.  I usually do fresh fruit, granola, coconut and honey.  Try one, you’ll thank me!

Bowl of Heaven!

I have a bad habit of skipping lunch.  I get busy and by the time I think about eating, I’m starving and grab junk to eat.  My friend and I started making Bento Boxes for each other.  We take turns and alternate week-to-week.  One variety we made had apple cinnamon bread, a hardboiled egg, apples and peanut butter.  Another one was taco salad and salsa.  We also did beef and broccoli over rice.  Whatever we choose, it’s nice to have something prepared and it keeps me from eating junk.




I now have a new-found love for yoga, thanks to the best yoga instructor, Ginny Washburne.  Ginny is a great friend who convinced me to try yoga last year, for the first time.  I am hooked.  I was surprised at how much of a work out it is, and relaxing at the same time.  Sadly, she is moving away and I know I’ll never find anyone as good as her to teach me 😦

When it comes to make-up, I’m a minimalist.  I never spend a lot of time applying it.  Right now, my favorite eye shadow is Bare Minerals.  There are several fun colors and I love the shimmer that it has.  It is easy to dress up or down and super easy to apply

When I have the chance, I try to listen to podcasts- I like to think it makes me smarter.  Two of my favorites right now are The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and Mom Struggling Well .  Both do a great job of interviewing people who are interesting and relevant.  They are great to pop on during a workout or housework and they make the time pass quickly while learning something.

Those are some of my favorite things right now.  I’d love to hear some of your faves!

Roadtrip to Ripon

For spring break this year, my friend Tatiana and I decided to take a road trip and visit our dear friend Kathy.  Shortly after we moved here, Kathy was the first friend I made in SoCal and she made this place feel like home.  She immediately invited me to a Moms in Prayer group she hosted and was very instrumental in helping me feel settled.  Kathy, Tatiana and I all have boys named Levi,  who are the same age.  We quickly grew close and were soon known as the Levi Moms.  Sadly for us, last summer, she moved up to Northern California, back to her hometown to be closer to family.  We decided to use our time off school as a chance to visit her.  We were amazed how well our 4 kids did on the 6 hour ride up there.

Kathy was the queen of hospitality and welcomed us into her home.  She had an amazing dinner waiting for us when we arrived.

Dinner fun!

We all picked up right where we had left off.  The next day, after a delicious breakfast prepared by her husband, she had several fun things planned.  We took a hike along the river behind her house.  Next, she had arranged a babysitter to come for the afternoon and evening.  We were all giddy as we drove away after the sitter arrived.  We were free!

She took us to a neighboring town where we enjoyed cute wine tasting rooms, delicious restaurants and many antique shops.  We dove into deep conversation, laughed hard and ate well.  We arrived home to find her husband watching all 7 kids! The following day we embarked on a walk to a wild flower field and let the kids get their fill of nature.

After another fun lunch together, we reluctantly said goodbye. It was great to visit her, step into her new life, and hopefully encourage her.  I definitely walked away feeling encouraged and uplifted.  A sign of a good trip is feeling emotionally energized when you leave.  After another smooth car ride, we were back in Orange County.  The visit reminded us how much we miss Kathy and wish she lived closer.  But it also makes the time spent with her even sweeter.

More than a table

It’s just wood, glue and screws, there’s nothing magical about it. But when I look at my dining room table, I see much more. It was a dream I had had for years, when I would finally have an actual dining room table. When we finally had a house with space for a large table, we began searching for the perfect one. After ordering it, and waiting months for delivery, it arrived. It arrived just before Thanksgiving and I wasted no time decorating it for fall. It fit perfectly in our dining nook, as if it were made specifically for that house. When we found out 5 months later that we were moving, I gave specific instructions that the house we bought HAD to have space for my table. My husband laughed. A few people even encouraged me to sell the table and buy a new one once we got settled. No. I had hopes and dreams for this table. It functions as a visual reminder and it goes much deeper than a piece of furniture. IMG_3367

My table serves a daily reminder of how important hospitality is. I know God wants me to be open and giving with everything He has blessed me with. Too often I make excuses why I can’t open my home to others. But I have been reminded several times over that it is a heart issue, not a home issue. Just like God always has room at His table for us, I always want to have room at my table for whoever needs to be there.

When I look at my table, I can’t help but think of all the fun that happens around it. Obviously, many meals happen there. We have family dinners as often as we can. Countless times friends have gathered together around the table and enjoyed the food as much as the company. My kids also use it as an art hub. Very often it is covered with construction paper, glue, markers, and crayons. Sometimes there is play dough there. Frequently after dinner, it becomes a family game table. Many Uno and Zingo games have happened there. It is also homework central. My table is a creative safe space.

I can’t help but think of God’s blessings when I see my table. The blessing of friendship, of prayer, of community, of creativity, of nourishment, of provision. I am humbled by how God cares about the little things. It made no difference if my table fit into our new house or not. But God knew it was important to me. I know it’s just a piece of furniture and it won’t last forever. But I’m thankful for the memories that have been made there and the ones still to come.