The Gift of New Life

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A little over a month ago, our friend Amy went into labor with her third child.

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Knowing that such a beautiful event was taking place, painted that day a brighter shade. This seems to happen when someone I love has a similar life changing moment. The senses are a little more alive, perhaps? 

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We went through our normal routine, (all the while keeping my phone close at hand). But, I swear, the clouds were more brilliant and the sky more blue. 

Then, Maebel Elizabeth was born. 

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I use her full name because, being the word-nerd that I am I looked up the meaning. Maebel means beautiful and Elizabeth means: God is abundance. What a powerful message her name alone brings.

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I had the opportunity to take pictures of her sweet family at the hospital as her older siblings met her the first time.  

The raging world outside quieted.

Inside this room was the soft warmth of love, celebrating over a human being. Not for what she had done (although being born is no small feat) but simply because she was there.  

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New lives come into the world bearing the full weight of glory, promise, and anticipation.

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When babies enter the world, they bring with them that lovely scent, renewal, and new hope.  

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Each moment, the world is in labor with all the fullness of new life. His Mercies are quite new each morning; each breath. 

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May we be granted the grace of eyes to see. May we reach out hard for those three things that still remain: faith, hope, and love. May we be strengthened, renewed, and filled with a fresh breath of life.

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And sweet Mae, may you continue bring the beauty of God’s abundance throughout your one wild and precious life.

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One Morning in Ferguson

Last Friday we headed out the door to run errands, but somehow hopped on the highway to Ferguson instead. 

I talked to my almost four year old about what had been happening and asked if he wanted to pray for Ferguson. He did. And this was his prayer:

“Hey, God. A policeman made a HUGE mistake and killed a boy. His mommy is REALLY sad. Can you please help? Can you please bring him back to life?” 

I let his earnest prayer hang in the air. Because what do you say to that little prayer?

We drove down Florrissant Ave, the kids making the normal noise in the back seat.

When we passed Wellspring UMC, I recognized the name. They have been partnering with other churches around the city to serve Ferguson. They have been serving food, activities, and love to the kids in the community daily during the past few weeks while the schools were closed. The kids really wanted to stop somewhere, and I took it as an opportunity to ask if there was anything I could do to help in the coming days so we parked and stepped out into the humidity. 

A handmade sign on the door read “Pancakes for Peace,” and a man opened the door for us saying, “WELCOME!” He pointed us to the direction of pancakes, and my kids, always ready for a helping of maple syrup, or any other sweet substance, headed that way. 

The community hall clamored with life. I thought how beautiful the room looked, diverse in age and skin tone. We were told to have all the pancakes we wanted. 

I asked about possibly volunteering, thinking they would want me to come another time when I didn’t have a two kids under four in tow. But instead they welcomed the inefficiency that was us.

What they needed most, they said, was for people to just join in with the kids of the community and have fun with them.  We grabbed our pancakes and headed to a table, stopping briefly to watch a “Dan the Pancake Man” make pictures out of pancake batter for people in the room. 

From there we went to the sanctuary where somewhere around thirty kids sat together and played percussion instruments to their hearts’ content. As if that wasn’t enough, before long we took our music to the streets.

And then, suddenly, we were joining parade of kids walking down the street, banging instruments that sounded distinctly like hope. 

It was hot, we were sweating, but it didn’t stop the enthusiasm.  A few neighbors came out onto their porches to watch and smile. Adults passing by stopped to watch. 

I’m not going to say that this solved anything in Ferguson that day. 

But I will say it was a holy moment. 

We stayed the rest of the morning until it was time to head home for naps, and as we left I asked a woman if she was a member of the church. She said she was, and told their church service times. Then she looked me in the eyes and said, “Please come. You are welcome. You are wanted. You are needed.” 

I say this to let you know that yes, there is a lot of bad going on and we hear about it constantly. But behind those stories, are the ones you often don’t see. 

There are people handing out water to protestors in 100 degree temps with 100 percent humidity. 

There are churches around the city donating time and supplies. There is a man making pancakes that look like someone’s beloved two year old. 

There are churches opening their doors everyday for children of the community while school is closed. They are feeding them breakfast, lunch, and providing a safe place to play. They are welcoming others into the heart of God in beautiful ways. 

Sometimes when the news of the bad gets overwhelmingly loud, we just need someone to take a moment and point in another direction and say: “That’s not all. There is good. Please join in! You are welcome. You are wanted. You are needed.” 

And while it may not solve everything, sometimes it’s the breath of fresh air that we need to tide us over to the next breath.  

Happy 2nd Birthday Ru!!

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Darling Girl,

On the day you were born, we fell so in love with you.

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And now for two whole years, we have gotten to do life with you everyday. You are fiery, feisty, wild, and sweet.

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You make us laugh. You make us celebrate. And in two year old fashion, you sometimes exhaust us with you antics.

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I call you: Ruby: bold and brave. You are fearless (except when really loud noises are involved). You run and climb and keep up with your brother and older cousins the best you can.

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Last night we were driving in the car and your dad said, “I just like to watch her and see what she’ll do next.” I love listening to you talk. And talk. And talk. And talk.

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Ruby: bold and brave, you are two. We are so glad you were born. We love you more than words can say.

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Castlewood Park

We spent a couple nights hiking together as a family this week. There is a gorgeous park nearby called Castlewood and the kids loved the adventure of it all. (And the playground at the end of the trail).

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6 Months Later

Six months ago, I wrote this in a journal:

Under the staircase, you can see the bare cement where there was once piles of things stored. There are no longer any books on the bookshelves. But heavy-laden boxes piled upon each other instead. Ruby’s closet is empty and her suitcase full.  

Last night I filled out a forward address form on the USPS website. I hesitated just a moment when they asked me to declare whether this was a permanent or temporary forward.  

We’ve booked a U-haul and my parents arrive a week from today to help us load and move.  

Before bed last night, Jason and I were talking how everyday the move feels more and more real. It’s not that it didn’t feel real the day before, but there are somehow layers to the reality that keep growing thicker. 

So today, I pack. While the kids entertain themselves as best they can. And I take a million breaks to kiss away “injuries.” And I find new things for them to play with or watch.  

Judah packs his very own box full of his most essential items: favorite toys. I have to convince him not to tape it up, because I know in five minutes one of those toys will be needed for another adventure. 

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It has only been six months. But it feels like a lifetime ago. Six months ago, Jason worked for a nonprofit. The snow was up to our waists outside of our house. The days were short and below freezing.

Six months ago we left friends and a home seven years in the making. We left the house we brought our babies too. And the fire department down the street that Jason was on-call with during his “off hours” from work. We had a dog. And everyday we headed out back to gather eggs from the chickens.

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There has been so much forward motion since then. New job. Selling the house. New house. Reconnecting with family and old friends. But as the dust settles and change is no longer our constant, I’m starting to look back. Man, we loved that place.

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The other night, Jason and I were talking about Minnesota. And how we want to go back to visit someday, but not yet. It just feels too soon.

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I have nothing but gratitude for the land of 10,000 lakes. For the people we love there. For the harsh winters. For the short summers. For everything they gave us and taught us. I miss our favorite places. The farmers markets. The Guthrie. The Minnesota Zoo. I miss our  church. And the regular everyday places we went: Cub foods, Eddingtons for soup, the libraries, the nature centers.

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Lately I’ve noticed that I have started to refer to where we were as “up North.” Because “Minneapolis,” or “Robbinsdale” seems to small of a container to hold seven years. “Up North” is just about big enough to hold all of it. The trips to Northern Minnesota or across to Wisconsin. Downtown. St. Paul. The outlying suburbs. The small towns. The farmlands. The toughness and tenacity of those we knew. The walks around the lakes. The slow still moments where God poured his love out.

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Six months ago, we packed up and headed towards change. And I’ve yet to unpack all the North gave us.

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