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momma yaya

21 Dec

We first met Toya, or as we like to call her, Momma Yaya, just over two years ago in Haiti. We traveled to Haiti on a missions trip, and Toya was our group leader for the week. Our hearts were forever changed after that one week in Haiti. Our friendship with Toya started that week, and has grown ever since. She’s a strong, passionate, faithful woman of God, and is currently serving the Lord through being a missionary in Cameroon Africa.

I admire her passion for the Lord, and the way she truly listens for God’s voice in her life. She doesn’t settle for a stagnate walk with God, but intentionally seeks His will for her life, even when it means it’ll be uncomfortable. She currently works with young women in Cameroon to teach them abstinence and what it means to be a Godly woman. She teaches them practical things like making soap and cooking, this helps them make an income for themselves and prepare for being a wife. She also goes to the local prison and counsels inmates, and works with the local orphanage. I’m challenged and encouraged by her faith.

One of the memories with Toya that stands out from our time in Haiti was visiting an orphanage. It was a last-minute visit, and only 4 of us could go. We went to the orphanage, there were about 30 kids there, ranging from babies to 17 year olds. They were so excited for us to visit them, they hugged us, sang songs, and asked us questions. As we left that night they crowded around us, hugging us, touching us and telling us they loved us. My heart instantly broke for these children, no parents to love them, protect them, teach them and care for them, no family to be a part of. That night my heart was churning from the experience, I was wrestling with God on some things…I talked to Toya about it and I’ll never forget what she told me…how she can’t wait to see the family that God has for us in the future, that she can’t wait to see our ‘rainbow’ family, kids from all over, looking all different ways. Her words have always stayed tucked away in my heart. And now, as we started our family with Lucia, I can’t help but wonder what our other children will look like.

So when we heard that Toya would be in the states for a few weeks, we had to make it work to see her. She was staying with some friends in Chicago, so we set a date and made the two-hour drive last Saturday. It was so good to see her, catch up with her and have her meet Lucia. The body of Christ is a beautiful thing, we first met her over two years ago, haven’t seen or talked to her since (except for a few emails) and we picked up right where we left off. We shared stories of how God is working in our lives, we ate good food, laughed and listened to each other. I’m so thankful for moments like this, genuine relationships that God puts in our lives to encourage and challenge us.


happy 30th

31 Jul

I’m a bit late on posting this…but the weekend before last we celebrated Dan’s 30th birthday. I kept him in the dark about what I was planning. And I knew that if I waited until the weekend following his birthday to throw him a party, he would be expecting it. So the Sunday before his birthday I threw him a Captain America themed 30th Surprise Birthday party. And he had no idea it was coming. I’ve never really seen Dan speechless, but he was in such shock as he walked through the door, that as everyone came rushing and screaming towards him, he stood there. stunned. silent. and eyes-wide-open.

We ate, we caked and we opened presents. Surrounded by family, it was the perfect way to celebrate.


5 Nov

After an intense game of Phase 10 last night with Jamie & Kayla, we fastly fell asleep and I was able to sleep in until the 8 o’clock hour. Almost all the leaves are fallen from the trees, just a few hanging on for dear life before the gusty winds blow through to welcome winter. My weekend is scattered with loose plans and a creative mini shoot…

Listening to: The Rend Collective Experiment
Reading: Mark chapter 9, wow…just as I thought this would be a lighter chapter, God brought me to tears by the story of the possessed child and the faith of his father who sought healing for him.  And the Jesus who is the giver of healing, redemption, faith, salvation, restoration and everything that lyes in between.
Shooting: Lauren & Mackenzie, no rules or expectations, just inspiration and creativity
Praying: for family who doesn’t know Jesus
Winning: a cut throat game of Phase 10
Hoping: The sun hangs around for the rest of the weekend
Sipping on: Starbucks (surprised by the mr.) in the first holiday cup of the season
Feeling: refreshed and expectant for what God is teaching…
Dreaming: for our future and what lies ahead after school
Thankful: for a night with friends and laughter

paint samples & milk duds

31 Oct

Another Monday morning and I could barely peel myself away from my cozy bed. The weather is turning from cool to cold, the weekend brought our first frost, and the mornings are darker and darker every day. But this Monday morning tired-ness was different. Gone was the exhaustion from shooting a wedding, and in was the sleepy eyes from having too much fun over the weekend. No more stressing about shutter speed & lighting, but my biggest decisions were choosing paint colors and what type of candy to sneak into the theatre.

Movies Watched: Crazy, Stupid, Love
Candy: Sour Gummies, Reece’s Pieces & Milk Duds
Chosen Paint Color: Wheat Bread
Trips to Home Depot: 3
Miles Run: 2
Reading: Mark 8…such good stuff in this chapter
Listened to: Griffin House Pandora Station
Ate: Homemade Stromboli, Subway & Culver’s
Rollercoasters: Raging Bull, American Eagle, Super Man & Batman
Six Flags Groupies: me, Ash, Kenz & Becca


the apple pie to end all apple pies

1 Oct

We had dinner last night with some new friends. They made chili, we brought apple pie.

Not just any apple pie, Dan’s mom’s home-made apple pie. It took me a mere two years after we got married just to obtain the top secret recipe. And since I first got my fingers on the beloved recipe I’ve been working at perfecting it for the last 4 years. This isn’t just any recipe, this is a family recipe, passed down from Dan’s grandma, to Dan’s mom, and now to me. At least that the story I’m told. After 4 years it’s still not exactly like mom’s, but I’m getting closer with every attempt. First it was that I needed to use a certain type of apple, MacIntosh to be exact. I’m told it’s all about the apples. Then came my crust, store bought crust just wouldn’t do. How dare I even try to use store bought crust-as if I had committed the unpardonable sin…so this year I began making home-made crust which has improved my attempt ever so slightly. And just last night the Mr. said it’s got to be something in the topping…he has kindly instructed me that my next attempt needs more sugar and cinnamon in the topping. Thank you ManWhoHasNeverBakedAThingInYourLife. And some additional wise words from the Mr., a.k.a. Mr. Apple Peeler Core Slicer, “wow, it’s kind of a lot of work to make a pie”, he’s so bright and insightful…

While Dan assures me my pie is delish, there is still something ‘off’ and not exactly like mom’s.  The saga continues.

But dinner with friends was delightful. Such a refreshing night of conversation and sharing stories. There were so many similarities in our lives; we chuckled at how God works ever so cleverly. Somehow I feel like there is safety and comfort in numbers. God knew I needed a night just like that, it sincerely refreshed my soul…