Books I Read in 2015

January 1, 2016 — 1 Comment

I was sitting with a friend and she asked me, “What were the greatest books you read this year?” I could only recall a few of them, not because I hadn’t read great books but because my memory fails me so often. That is one of the reasons that I keep a list and short review of the books that I read each year now. Even as I was getting this post ready and re-reading my list I was reminded of all that I learned from these authors. There were some themes that shaped my year and my life as a result of the wonderful words and stories shared in the pages I consumed. I’m ever grateful for books and the opportunity to learn and grow through others wisdom and creativity in the craft of the written word.

book store

Books I Read in 2015

A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers — This book is a compilation of five stories of Tamar, Rahab, Basheba, Ruth and Mary. They start with the Biblical story and she ads things that may have happened. They are incredible stories, sometimes scandalous, yet true, about the women God chose to use for a particular time in history and in His story. There are also lots of questions to use in a Bible study setting after each story so you can dig into the scripture and apply it to your own life. I love Francine Rivers!

The Spark by Kristine Barnett– Kristine tells the story of one of her children, Jacob, who is a brilliant child on the autism spectrum. He has a higher IQ than Einstein, went to college by the time he was 10 and will change the world with his gifts. When he was two however, doctors told her that he would never speak. Kristine took her child’s well being and development into her own hands, discovering the spark within him and as a result watched him blossom and grow. She believes incredible possibilities can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us. This is an incredibly inspiring story and helped me look at my own children, their gifts and talents, and challenged me to think how I can encourage them and help them grow.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas — The premise of this book asks the question, What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? This book looks at how you can use the challenges, joys, struggles, and celebrations of marriage to draw closer to God and to grow in Christian character. This was a great book and I had some useful and challenging take a ways.

Going Public by David and Kelli Pritchard — This talks about how your child can thrive in public school but it also offers so much more. They offer wise, biblical and practical parenting stories throughout this book that are so valuable. I’ve read this before but needed to re-read it as we are continually evaluating what is best for our kids. This may change from year to year and child to child. We value being in the public school setting and want to be a part of making it better but always keep an open hand to the Lord’s leading with schooling.

The Healing Path-How the hurts in your past can lead you to a more abundant life by Dan B. Allender — I am a big fan or Dan Allender. I’ve heard him speak many times and loved this book. I resonated with many of the themes and wrestled through his explanation of ambivalence. It’s hard to describe all the great stuff in this book, here’s a word from his preface: “This life has great suffering and sorrow woven into its fabric, but it also has an incandescent beauty and compelling call. For now, the beauty serves as a window through which we can glimpse the face of God, which we will one day see in its glorious fullness. The Healing Path is about how God redeems our doubt and betrayal, our despair and powerlessness, and disappointment and ambivalence. It call us to more toward the great destination of this life: becoming a man or woman of faith, hope, and love.” It’s a practical and helpful book for working through your own story and healing path as well as entering into the lives and stories of others.

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem  by Kevin DeYoung — I LOVED the chapter on parenting and how our busyness affects the lives of our children. We live in a culture of do more, child focused families, and be the “perfect parent” and it’s sucking the life out of parents and the joy out of us and our kids. Less often equals more.

Surprised by Motherhood – Everything I never expected about being a mom by Lisa-Jo Baker — This is a great, easy and fun read as a mom. It tells her story of growing up in South Africa, losing her mom, meeting her husband and their journey as a married couple into parenthood. I could so relate to parts of her story, especially how she didn’t imagine having kids and then how God changed her heart. She says she discovered three things about motherhood: that it’s hard, it’s glorious and it’s very hard. It’s a real story with honesty and humor I could relate to as a Christ follower and a mom.

Learning to Walk in the Dark  by Barbara Brown Taylor — This was a fascinating read. She talks a lot about actual darkness. She spent time in caves to experience physical darkness and with those who are blind. Our world has such an aversion to the physical dark as well as the spiritual darkness. She believes that “for it is in the dark, that one can truly see.” It exposed many things that I may be afraid of and how we avoid the things that are dark to us instead of leaning into them.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green — I just have to say this was recommended by a guy friend, my husband read it first and it was a teary, wonderful, moving, heartbreaking story. Enough said.

The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson — Peterson looks at Jesus’s way of life in scripture, examples of others in scripture and compared it to how the contemporary church lives today. Very challenging and insightful and this explanation just seems so simplistic for an incredibly deep and complex book.

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott — I love Lamott’s honesty and ability to connect with those who have suffered, are in hard places and in need of some new perspective.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning — I loved this book. I struggle with grace in my own life. I believe it in theory but to really grasp it and live it out so that I can walk freely in it is a challenging task and concept to grasp. I love this main thought in the book, “The Father beckons us to Himself with a furious love that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the ragamuffins.”

A Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore — The story of how God brings together a homeless man from the South and and a rich man from Texas in unexpected ways. It’s a powerful story of God changing lives through engaging with those who seem unlikely to have anything at all in common.

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning – I loved this book so much that I bought it half way through reading it. There are foundational truths in this book that he had a way of explaining in ways that helped them seem new again. If we really did believe this, “Our identity rests in God’s relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ.” we would all live differently and in more freedom. I will definitely be re-reading this book!

Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff — I just really like Jon Acuff and wanted to see what he had to say so read this one. He has lots of wisdom in being successful in work and I think most people can relate to the fact that we don’t want to “get stuck” and sometimes we need a “do over” even if it’s just in our perspective of our work.

Calico Joe by John Grisham — This was an enjoyable and easy read about a boy, his father, their complicated relationship, Calico Joe and the game of baseball. It has themes of forgiveness and how things can find some form of redemption in the end.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller – I love all things related to Psalm 23. This book gave incredible insight from someone who was an actual shepherd of sheep and what that entails. It gives new meaning to the biblical meaning in Psalm 23. I’ll definitely be reading this many times throughout life.

For the Right Reasons by Sean Lowe — Now don’t judge me here. I watch the Bachelor and therefore I had to read “America’s favorite” bachelor’s book. And for the record, I had to wait in a long wait list at the library to read this so I know I’m not alone. I sped my way through this book. I love reading a good story about someones life and they did a great job telling Sean’s story of life, his faith and love. It really is pretty amazing that God can use even reality tv shows like the Bachelor to bring others together and make himself known. Yep, I loved it.

Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell – This was a heartbreaking story of a boy who was left in an orphanage at the age of three, denied by other family members, and lived there until he graduated high school. It walks through his trials, how he managed to become more than his past and how God intervened to help him do just that. A great story of redemption of brokenness and how forgiveness really can set you free. I was totally challenged by the theme of forgiving those who really don’t deserve to be forgiven.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – I read this because Rachel is influential with the millennials and I wanted to know more of her story. Although I don’t agree with all of her theology it was an interesting read and I appreciate many of her thoughts. I love this one, “We think church is for good people, not resurrected people.” I agree that we need to stop pretending we have it all together. We are broken people in need of a God who restores. The church should be a safe place, but not necessarily a comfortable place like she says in the book.

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashim – This was a timely read given the level of refugee crisis in our world. It’s an incredible novel that takes you through one women’s journey of life in Afghanistan, the take over of the Taliban that forces her family to flee their country and all of the heart wrenching loss that they experience along the way.

For the Love-Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker – I LOVE Jen’s humor, wit and ability to speak into issues of the heart of women and the church so poignantly. Easy read, encouraging and challenging as well. The chapter about turning 40 hit so close to home, even thought I’m not quite 40, that I was literally crying. Good stuff.

Scary Close dropping the act and finding true intimacy by Donal Miller – Don invites you into his life of working through isolation and how he’s finding true intimacy. He has a lot of wisdom in building healthy relationships that everyone can benefit from. Loved this book.

The Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos – Written by our friend and co-worker. This is an incredible story of how a sky lantern ended up in Matt’s driveway which led to the eventual meeting of the woman who sent it. It’s inspiring to think about what can happen when we take the small things in life that may look like a distraction or piece of trash but don’t pass it by. When we stop to engage in picking up that trash, simply writing a letter, or offering an act of kindness it could lead to changing the trajectory of our day, someone else’s day or even our lives.

 

I’m still in the middle of about 5 other books that I didn’t finish and the perfectionist in me is really annoyed that this list only has 24 books on it. My goal was 25. Here’s to embracing some grace and letting it go.

What did you read this year? What should be on my Must Read list for 2016? Please share.

I wrote about our major home renovation project that we just completed, just in time for the holidays. Head on over to the Portland Moms Blog to read the rest. 

“We are currently in the process of finishing our basement into an apartment. It’s been a LONG process of blood, sweat and tears and many curse words along the way. We live in a 1923 bungalow, so just getting permits was a hassle. We hired a contractor, but once again are doing a lot of the work to save money. We figured it’s only 600 square feet, how hard can it be? But here’s the deal, we are no longer as young and energetic as we once were; we have two kids now who are on the go, and life is full. So what were we thinking to take on this large project?!”

I wrote about some of the things that we try to do as a family to make holidays a little more frantic free.

Whether you are bounding with joy and have sugar plum fairies dancing in your head about the holidays or the thought of the upcoming season makes you want to take a nap, let these tips help you and your family over the next seven weeks.

Thanks for reading!

I had no idea when we had kids that schooling would be the most turbulent and gut wrenching experience that it’s been.

I spent the majority of my 12 years of school with the same 200 people. I rode the bus or my bike to school, didn’t doubt my safety, didn’t have to apply to or lottery into the school in my neighborhood, I just got to attend it. I didn’t doubt that I was in good hands with my teachers (maybe my parents did but I didn’t). I never had to switch schools and it all felt very stable. And I certainly didn’t have emergency drills in school for what to do if there was an active shooter in the building. It’s safe to say that the world I grew up in no longer exists. I also grew up in rural America and now we’re raising kids in Urban America so that too plays into our current reality.

In the course of our daughters life (she’s 8)  she has moved classes or schools 4 times. She is amazingly flexible and has always adapted well. She makes friends easily and has been able to do well wherever she is. I’m so grateful  for how God made her, brave, determined, and mature beyond her years. It’s helped her through all these transitions. However, this is not the way I pictured school life for my children. It’s been heartbreaking at many turns for us in the education system.

Here were our “options”: 1) The k-8 public school next door that we have no preference to get into, pay taxes for and operates like a private school that you have to lottery to get into. 2) The public “neighborhood school” (that’s not actually in our neighborhood) that we attended for a few years and loved for many reasons but is under staffed, under resourced and where kids at the lower and higher ends of the spectrum get left behind. 3) The amazing private schools around the city that we just can’t afford, but have had the privilege of attending one for a short stint thanks to financial aid.

Last week we were notified by the school next door that there was now a spot for Jenna in the 4th grade. This school for many reasons has become my Nineveh. We’ve applied for the lottery every year and petitioned once, only to be denied. The system is unfair and broken. I’ve had negative interactions on multiply occasions and had given up hope that we would attend the school next door. We have been so happy at our current school and NOW there’s the option to be next door. It just seemed wrong and crazy to move again in the middle of a school year. Not to mention, now I was being asked to move past my frustrations and anger and enter into the school that I think is privileged and has denied our petitions when it made the most sense to attend. It makes me feel like I’m becoming a part of the problem and not the solution at this point to attend there. How could I trust this was from the Lord? How could I ask my daughter to move yet again?

Every good parent wants what’s best for their kids. We want stability and the option for great education for our kids. Unfortunately those have not gone hand in hand for our family.

So today Jenna transitioned once again to a new school. It was an agonizing decision process. The 90 feet to walk next door into that school has ironically taken 4 years. I know that God has a plan but I also know this is not how I would have gone about it. His timing is never my timing. Crazy how that works.

Our family has always had the mission to be a blessing to those around us and now we are being asked to do that next door. My high justice, right and wrong, high-control self is struggling here. Who knew my kids schooling would be such a faith walk for me?

I’m convinced that God is preparing Jenna to do something great in her future as a result of all of her school experiences. God never wastes anything, not the joys the sorrows, the twists or the turns. And for me, well I think God just continues to pry the grip off of the control I really want to have, especially when it comes to my kids. He’s asking me to love the hard places, the place that has kept us on the outside and denied us entry for so long. I’m going to my “Nineveh” and trusting God to meet us there.

jenna 4th grade school

I have dear, sweet friends who I have known for about 15 years. They are genuine, kind-hearted and wonderful people. They have the joy of raising 3 sons, one of whom has Down Syndrome. In honor of National Down Syndrome Awareness month (In Megan’s family it’s Down Syndrome Acceptance Month) I interviewed my friend Megan for the Portland Moms Blog . Here are just a few of the words she shared,

I am still a typical mom who wants to share stories, brag about my child’s accomplishments, and be asked about what my child is up to.  Down syndrome does not define us a family or me as a mom.  I’m a mom of three boys, (that is crazier and way scarier then having a child with Down syndrome) who wants her boys to live to their fullest potential possible.  Yes, there is a continual grieving process as a mom of a child with an intellectual disability that I walk through at different times in life’s seasons. I cherish friendships with other moms where I have the freedom to express thoughts, feelings, fears, and joys.

Megan shares honestly, vulnerably and authentically about being a mom and what it’s like to have a son with Down Syndrome. Please go to the Portland Moms Blog to read the rest!

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(From time to time I’ll have posts over on the Portland Moms Blog. Here is one of my first. I’d love for you to go read the whole thing over on their page. Thanks for reading.)

 

When we moved to Portland my daughter was three; the landscape was vastly different from the clean, wide streets and mountain views we were used to. We now saw men and women on many street corners holding signs and were confronted with the brokenness in up close and personal ways. My daughter was quick to ask questions. “Mommy, why is that man holding a sign?” “Why doesn’t he have food or a home?” Those are complex questions to explain to a toddler. Even more complex was her next question, “Why don’t you give him something?”

Continue reading over at the Portland Moms Blog

The Illusion of Free Time

September 29, 2015 — Leave a comment

When I was a college student I thought when I graduated I would have so much more time to do the things I really wanted to be doing. Then I graduated, got a job, got married, had responsibilities and wondered where that illusive “free time” I’d been looking for went. Then I thought, when I have kids at least I can stay home with them most of the week and be free to have play dates, stroll the neighborhood, nap, and make my own schedule. Then you actually have kids and realize they make a lot of your schedule; yes there are play dates and some nap times but oh for the love, keeping another human alive and fed, well cared for all while keeping your home, marriage, and maybe a fitting a workout in every so often, while working part time, punches your illusion of “free time” in the face once again.

We survived and even loved much of the time my littles were at home but when school was in the future I once again said, “Oh I can’t wait for all the time I’m going to have on my hands when they are in school!” I told all my friends, “Soon we can hang out, we’ll have lunch and coffee dates and I will be oh so free.” I thought I’d drop Isaac off at kindergarten and be a little sad but revel in the days of freedom to do more or not do more if I chose.

But friends, here’s how it really went down that first day I dropped Isaac off. He clung to my waste. He didn’t want to let go and he kept saying “Don’t leave me. Please stay here with me.” as he looked pleadingly into my eyes. The school had sent a letter to the parents letting them know they didn’t want “that mom” making it harder for her child to be dropped off so keep your tears for afterwards. By the grace and strength of God I didn’t cry until he finally was pealed from my leg, handed off to a teacher, with his head hung low in sadness and walked into the school. I then proceeded to cry. As I relive it even now, I cry. I made it home before I really cried, like puffy face, snotty cried. Matt came home at lunch and I had an icepack on my face and retold the horror that was my morning of being the worst mom ever to leave her young 5 year old at kindergarten and clearly I had made the wrong choice and was a terrible human and he should stay home another year. I did not do back flips with my new found free time and once I finally pulled myself together (two hours later) I put on sunglasses and went to run errands because the silence of my house was actually deafening.

I’m happy to say that the drop-offs got easier and Isaac loves school and has done fabulous (minus one run in with the principal but that story can wait for another day.) However, the first question that I get from others and even ask myself now is “What are you doing with all your new free time?!” And as experience usually does, it teaches you a lesson, not a new one necessarily, but in a new way. Yes I definitely have more kid-free time. But there are no more hours in the day, there are still 24 of them and now I just have to choose how to rearrange them. Now there is carpooling, two kids schedules to juggle, two teachers who need help in the classroom, two field trip schedules, I am working more hours, I took on a new assignment of writing for the Portland Moms Blog, I go to the store more because I cannot keep enough food stocked for the amount of food my school going children consume, and I now get to go to the gym (oh sweet glory I’m rediscovering muscle groups) which is the biggest blessing but it still needs to fit into the schedule. And all those friends I want to hang out with, well, I’m still trying to figure that out.

Here’s the obvious conundrum. We all have some free time, some more than others, but it usually never looks like what you think it’s going to, at least it doesn’t for me. Seasons change, how we use our time has to change and although I often live in the illusion that when this_____(whatever this is)______ happens, I’ll have more free time.  Although I could choose to sit on my couch and read books all day, I choose not to (also I have a job that I’m paid to do). I feel very strongly that I’m accountable to God for how I use my hours, my so called free time. I definitely want to relish some of the time that I do get, to go to the gym and during my lunch break sit and read a book (without feeling guilty) but I want to still use the hours that I have, to make a difference, care for my family, invest in their schooling, work with young people in our ministry, serve at church, love my neighbors, etc. I am fully aware that this is a privilege that not all people in the world get and I’m grateful that even though my “free time” has felt not so free and VERY full, it is good. I still miss the cute curly headed side kick of mine and feel teary when I think about that chapter closing. When I’m home alone the silence can still feel incredibly loud somehow but I’m adjusting to my new “free time.”

What about you, do you ever live in the illusion that in the next season you’ll have more time and find that once you’re there it’s different than you expected?

Milestones

September 9, 2015 — Leave a comment

I flipped through past photo books last night, my babies years literally passing before my eyes. Cute baby smiles, squishy cheeks, pages of Jenna as a little princess and Isaac growing into a little man way too quickly. How does the time seem to slip away so quickly?

Tonight as I sat on the couch with Isaac he said, “I’m sad because I’m going to miss you tomorrow.” Oh those sweet words melted my aching heart. My sweet boy is heading off to kindergarten. On one hand I’m so excited I could do backflips (don’t judge me). The thought of working without entertaining a child, the time to go work-out, grocery shopping without being bumped in the heels with a cart or whining for something. But oh, the other side of my mama heart is tearing straight out of my chest. No more little partners by my side all day, no more mini shopping cart next to my big one in the store, no more Candy Land at 10 am or music hour at the local cafe for me and my little guy. My babies are, well, no longer babies.

These milestones are always more emotional when it’s the last of one of them. I only have two kiddos and this was the last day of having kids at home all day. There were days that I thought it would never come and now that it’s here it seems impossible to believe. I say it all the time, the days are long and the years are short. That sentiment rings more true every day.

The principal sent a letter to the parents saying to hold your tears for after you drop your kids off. Oh man, I sure hope I’m not that mom. Tonight I prayed that they would know they are loved, be filled with peace, that they would be brave, and that they would have a great day tomorrow. Now, to go forth and lead by example; Walk through this new door confident of God’s love and care for us all, be brave in the midst of new territory and have a great day celebrating that I have a 4th grader and a kindergartner.

But for tonight, I cry and eat chocolate.

2015 open house collage

(This was taken today at their school open house)

 

Last summer we heard on the radio an ad for Blood:Water Missions. They were saying kids could set up lemonade stands to help raise money for clean water in Africa. Jenna was so excited and wanted to do one right away. I thought it sounded like a lot of work for a 7 year old (really a lot of work for me if I’m honest) and told her, “Next year….”

Well, “next year” came around and she had not forgotten about her dream of a lemonade stand to help raise money for Africa. I’ve always had a heart for Africa, our sponsored child William is in Kenya and he feels like another part of our family and it was on Jenna’s summer bucket list (we always make a family summer bucket list) so we said “Yes!” and put it on the short order list of things to do.

Blood:Water is a great organization whose mission is this: “We are a community, motivated by the love of Christ, to create lasting change in Africa. We give our lives to serve local leaders and join them in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises.” They have a great mission and they make it so easy to be a part of what they are doing in Africa. They help you set up your kids website for their Lemon:Aid stand, print materials for the stand, and for people to donate. Easy peezy. An added bonus is that for kids who do the Lemon:Aid stands there is someone who matches every donation that comes in.

The first step for the lemonade stand was creating the website. I came home from the store one day and Matt said, “We have the lemonade site all ready to go. Jenna set her goal at $1000.” I’m pretty sure I screeched at this point, “What?!!! $1000! Why would you let her set a goal she will never reach?!” So yes, my daughter is a better human than I am because she wanted to raise money for clean water to start with and then she had more faith than I did that she could reach a very large goal. I’m constantly challenged in a good way by my little people.

The second step was to make a lemonade stand. We had nothing extravagant in mind for this but it turned out so stinking adorable. We found a perfect turquoise desk at a yard sale we randomly drove by, my dad brought wood to build the sign, and we took spray paint out of a “free” box on the street to paint with. A little work, a lot of love, and voila, you have a lemonade stand.

lemonaid stand2

The third step was to advertise on Facebook that Jenna was doing a Lemon:Aid stand, on Nextdoor.com to our neighbors the times she would be selling the lemonade, bracelets, and other goodies and open up for business.

jenna lemonaid stand1

As soon as we posted her website people started donating. I almost cried at how generous people were and again was reminded how great the hearts of people can be. The look on Jenna’s face was priceless when she woke up the next morning and had already raised money. I knew then that her faith-filled goal of $1000 was going to be met.

The excitement of the stand never wore off and I’m proud to say that Jenna reached her goal!! Thank you to everyone who gave!

lemonaid stand goal

I’m so proud of her sweet, generous heart, her hard work at making bracelets and lemonade, being a little entrepreneur, and making a difference in so many lives in a place that she’s never even been to. I’ve learned once again that little people can make a big difference in our world and I shouldn’t stand in the way of her big dreams and goals. This is definitely one of the summer bucket list items that will be the sweetest of memories for our whole family.

What about you? Did you check off some fun bucket list items this summer?

Do you have a child at home that might want to set up a Lemon:Aid stand? I highly recommend it!!

 

 

(This post is part of my day today. It’s more for my memory bank when I want to look back one day because I know the older I get the less I’ll remember.) 

This past week has been a hard one in light of news of a former student being killed in an avalanche and another friends news of returning cancer. Each week seems to bring news like this in one way or another so I’ve had many moments of just pure thankfulness for each day. It is not a given, but a gift.

So today as I awoke, another year older, feeling my age and a need for a massage, I also just felt grateful for a new day to live the life God’s given me. Two kids up early eagerly awaiting my groggy presence, a husband who’s waiting to take my breakfast order. Literally take my order at my bedside; we ordered breakfast through a new app called postmates from Pine State Biscuits. It was delivered before I could even rouse myself from my stupor. There it was, hot and delicious on my table in all of it’s fattening, fried, gravy covered glory. Whoever thought this up was a genius. And, you can track it while they pedal their bike, yes bike, to your door. Sweet glory I love Portland.

Sweet notes from my family and my surprise birthday gift from my husband, parents and aunt was a membership to the gym. Before you think he’s trying to suggest I need to work on my physique (although after that breakfast I need a cardio workout for sure), I’ve been wanting a gym membership for sooooo long but it’s a luxury we could not afford. It was a lavish gift. It was hardly 8 am and I already felt overwhelmed with thanks.

After taking Isaac to school the traffic was so bad that I knew I would sit in traffic for 30 minutes or I could re-route to my favorite park and spend 30 minutes wandering through the beauty and enjoying the unexpected detour. Today was a reminder that not all traffic jams or detours bring bad things.

flower instacollage

I had scheduled a massage and chiropractor appointment that was well overdue. It actually left me with a brutal headache but the sweetest part was that I got to have an awesome spiritual conversation with my massage therapist. Another reminder that God is always at work.

As I sat outside of ballet today, reading my book, soaking up the sun, a dad came out to play his guitar while he waited for his daughter. It was random, totally Portland, and a fun little musical perk for the day. Nothing like a little birthday serenade, even though he had no idea it was my birthday.

My husband spoiled me all day and put on a feast of sausage, corn, salads, fruit and chocolate. I’m definitely a European at heart; beer, brats and chocolate are my favorite. It felt like summer and all things good.

birthday dinner collage

I know that Facebook can be annoying and not helpful but it can also be great. As I scrolled through all the birthday messages, seeing the faces of people that have blessed my life and intersected it at different times and places makes me so grateful. Between the Facebook messages, texts, surprise flowers and cards from friends there is no way to walk away from this day without feeling loved.

I don’t know what paths I’ll find myself on this next year or if the scenery will be beautiful each day but I do know that each day is a gift (even when it doesn’t always feel like it) and I’m especially grateful for the one I just had.

paths