"Enjoy the little things in life ~ one day you'll wake up and realize they were the big things"

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

St. Ogden Valsinkidane Day

We have a silly family holiday -- a few years ago we even mixed up the letters of some important words and gave it a funny name.

Have you thought lately about the moment in time that became the cornerstone for your family? You may not even know when it was or remember it. I'm a little odd, but ours is vivid.

Humor me . . .

Once upon a (very long) time ~ 23 years ago, tonight . . . he stood holding the door at 1153 Ogden Street. She said hello and walked through. It was 6:42 pm. His eyes twinkled when he smiled. He was wearing shorts and a blue t-shirt . . . and an elastic knee support. She held in her arms a bag of bananas and oranges ~ to share with the homeless.  Her heart beat with anticipation - she was headed for the mission field and believed this would be a great experience.

The evening passed quickly. She talked with the lonely and outcast, she served pastries and coffee and wiped down tables, she played Scrabble and heard stories, she prayed with the broken. His wisdom and competence were apparent, and his faithful, steady service blessed her. His ready sense of humor was evident right away.  He was part of something neat and she wanted to be more involved. She knew they shared the same Jesus and the same desire to serve him, but she never really gave him much of a thought beyond that.

A week later that changed.

She found a way to go back to that coffee house outreach downtown. The evening was much like the first (except she had come with just one friend, rather than an entire college group). She talked with the broken, she heard more stories, she felt at home. He was there too (he was the director, so it was rare when he wasn’t).

She noticed how his eyes shimmered, how others were drawn to him. She observed his quiet demeanor, his carefully chosen words, the good advice he shared and the assistance he offered to those in need. She started to wonder about his story. At the end of the night, they sat together for a moment, she was struck by his kindness. He joked and flirted. He ate too many jelly beans (because they were in front of him, and he hadn't had dinner).

She really noticed him. She thought about him as she drove home.

In the coming weeks she returned a couple of times. She met his 6 yr old son (adorable!!), she met several other volunteers, she helped move the coffee house to its new location, she spent time helping babysit the charming and silly 6 yr old. She dragged other friends back with her.

Back in the suburbs, she continued her “normal life”, she loved on the elderly at her (retirement home) job, she became increasingly involved in church, she helped with a Billy Graham crusade. She went on long runs at the park and tried out new recipes and explored parts of Colorado she hadn’t seen yet (she’d just moved here a few months earlier). Her mind was increasingly drawn back downtown and she searched, at times obsessively, for opportunities to return there.

She wrestled with her motives. A lot.

Almost a month later, she finally decided she needed to talk to him about that. They walked to a nearby restaurant and she attempted to confess her mixed motives.  After he embarrassed her greatly by ‘accusing’ her of having a crush on him . . . he admitted that it was mutual. Her heart raced, her tongue became tied. He ordered pie. They decided they should ‘become friends’ and spend more time together.

They went on hikes and picnics, they wandered in and out of bookstores and roamed the streets of Denver talking to the homeless, she helped him study Greek (he was a seminary student at the time), they looked for pictures in the clouds, smelled flowers and ate ice cream, she visited his church (she loved it!), she spent time at the discipleship home where he lived and worked (and became close to several people there). She grappled with her views on divorce and remarriage. She went on early morning fishing trips with her dad (and tried to get an opinion out of him!), she went on retreats with her college group and went mountain biking and rafting.

Somewhere along the line, she learned that about a week prior to that night (at the doorway ~ with the oranges and bananas), he had told God that he’d really like to meet someone – but he was so busy that if it was going to happen, He’d probably have to bring her to him!

She thought she was headed to the mission field. She began to wonder if she'd already found one.

Over the next year and a half they went from strangers to friends, they spent time with their families, they helped lead a house church together and eventually found themselves planning a wedding.

The ‘house’ has been built (and at times a wall torn down and rebuilt entirely) brick by brick over the past 23 years . . . an entire little family has moved in!  The house has become a community unto itself. That cornerstone moment is what we look back on and what we celebrate each year on June 30th at 6:42 pm.

Have some ice cream and join us! God is good.   

Monday, June 29, 2015

Downtown day

We spent some time downtown today.  We haven't been there in a very long time - at least not as a family.  It was a free day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, so our plan was to spend some time there and then go out back and play in the fountains at City Park.  Both of those are right around the corner from where we used to live (when our kids were MUCH younger).  The spent far more time than we thought we would at the museum and it turned out that the fountains were closed. One of the highlights, however, was a trip to the Sam Gary branch of the Denver library.  We had never been to that branch before.  We went there on a mission.  It was actually a two fold mission:  1) to sign up for the summer reading program and 2) to track down one of our FAVORITE librarians from our years downtown.  For many, many years, we had some awesome librarians.  They knew us, their faces lit up when we walked into the children's area.  We were always thrilled when we walked in and found all of our favorites working on any given day.  They knew what our kids liked to read and were eager to help them find some new favorites.  That is a huge blessing (especially to a homeschooling family).  We took them treats at holidays and sent them postcards from road trips. They were a little bit like family to us.

One of the hardest things about moving away from the city was leaving those librarians (and our church downtown).

Our mission was successful!  We located Kristi and enjoyed catching up with her!  (and we signed up for the summer reading program . . . Elitch's, we're coming for you in late July!)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Horsin around . . .

Anna is in “happy horse-lover heaven” this week! – attending a jam packed horse camp.  It’s a bit of a drive to get her there and back each day, but she is LOVING it! 

"Micro Camping" at Kenosha

Last summer we unlocked a secret to achieving some balance in our life at Jellystone. We were able to enjoy regular days off at the beginning of each week (most of the time).  We planned some fun day trip excursions during those times and even re-discovered tent camping!  We called them "micro camping trips", since we were only able to be gone for one night . . . but they were still a HUGE blessing.  This summer has started off far more hectic than we've wanted, but our goal has been to do the same thing this year . . . planning day trips and some overnights as well.

We were able to escape earlier this week and enjoy a micro camping trip at one of our favorite spots in Colorado ~ Kenosha Pass.  It is a little piece of heaven on earth . . . breathtakingly beautiful, raw, serene, peaceful and oh, so relaxing!  We are thankful that we've been able to share many memories as a family in that beautiful setting and we look forward to returning there again and again in the years to come.  The kids hung their hammocks in the trees and talked and laughed and lounged together . . . priceless.

Below are enough pictures to convince you that we were really there FAR more than 24 hours (even though we weren't)  It was our sweet Selena's first camping trip -- we thoroughly wore her out, but we think she was an extremely content little puppy!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


The kids and I (along with many others from our wonderful Pathmakers Church family) are helping with a VBS this week. It has been such a blessing! Emily has been 'hosting' the puppet show gospel presentation each day (Levi and Daniel are voicing the puppets) - they are all doing an awesome job! 

The VBS kids are also raising money for a missions outreach of our church. Anna, our youngest, is SO excited about this! . . . she cleaned out her piggy bank last night and has spent much of the afternoon going around the campground, talking to our summer staff - sharing about the outreach opportunity and FUNDRAISING!! (I didn't know that's what she was doing until she came back with a handful of money!) She's even spent the last several HOURS pulling weeds (in exchange for a promised donation to her cause!). So much fun to see! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Celebrating Anna (a tiny bit late)

Anna's birthday was, once again, right smack dab in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend.  We managed our traditional birthday donuts and a few gifts in the morning ~ and even got to spend my lunch break at the pool . . . but it was definitely a hectic day (and not very focused on Anna!).

We scheduled a belated party (after the friends Anna wanted to include would be done with school for the year).  It turned out to be a super fun time that included gaga ball, the jumping pillow, plenty of golf cart driving opportunities, playing at the pool, chasing scavenger hunt clues and gobbling up Anna's "horse cake".  We are so thankful for the sweet friends that God has placed in our children's lives, what a gift they are to us!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Birthday outing . . .

We all had the day off on my birthday and awoke (after enough rain during the month of May to make us consider building an ark!) to gorgeous, sunny weather.  At my request, Kevin began a search for geocaches within 20 minutes of our house.  He actually found about 15 of them on a trail that was literally less than a 3 mile drive from our front door (but one that felt like we were really far from home!)  We had fun hiking around and locating caches.  The hike back felt much hotter and longer than our trip 'out' had been. On our way back home we saw some baby buffalo! (a first for me), After a quick lunch break, we continued our adventure at the 'cheap theater' across town (seeing the Paddington Bear movie) and then going out for burgers and milkshakes.  Fun day spent with my favorite people! (our friend Ryan, was even able to join us)