Journeys

Kayaks on the roof, luggage packed in and sweet Travel Baby buckled up, we set off on our way back south. I said a prayer of thanksgiving as I closed Cabin Number 3’s door behind us for the final time, only a little lump in my throat. The dismal weather made leaving a little easier.
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Exaggerated smiles and levels of alertness! “Ten hours to go! Yay!!!” (Look at Norns in the mirror!! 😄)
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The Mackinac Bridge was engulfed in a heavy blanket of fog. You can see Mackinac Island off on the horizon. Unfortunately that’s all I got to see of it this year ~
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The suspension cables faded off into the atmosphere, furtively ascending to the top of each shrouded tower.
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On our way up to Michigan we had planned on stopping to meet a family that follows the blog, but we were unable to coordinate in time. Fortunately on our way back we were able to get in touch with each other and pulled off for a brief meeting! It was so exciting and wonderful to meet you and your beautiful family, Lisa!!!
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Nora loves meeting her fan club!!! Maybe one of these days we’ll get a tour bus and she can go out on tour and meet everyone! We’ll make sure the bus is amphibious so she can do a world tour to visit her international friends too! She did SOOOO good in the car!
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Shortly before we set off on our journey, a crazy-incredible Kate R. set off on a journey of her own in the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. While our hundreds of miles were spent in the comfortable luxury of a motor vehicle, Kate’s 100 arduous miles were traveled by foot! She was accompanied by her brother Jack, her cousin Sean and a sheet of paper with 100 reasons to keep running — 100 prayer requests from various family and friends.
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Throughout the rest of our trip home I checked in on her progress through Burning River’s website and through her Operation Run 100 Facebook page. This page chronicled all of her training through all of its ups and downs. I will admit I am not the best at keeping up with my FB newsfeed, so a lot of it I had missed. I read through each post from the beginning, gaining a whole new appreciation of how hard she’d worked for this. How and why would someone want to run 100 miles? Back in April she wrote, “The pull is one that to many, cannot be explained. It is the embracing of physical fatigue, countless discomforts, and extreme boredom in training and offering it all up as a way of saying “Thank you…for this glorious gift of life and this body that can endure so much.” It is trading sleeping in and late nights out every single weekend, taking slack from friends and family who don’t run (and therefore will never understand) and doing it anyway. It is seeking Jesus and finding him during the hardest runs and feeling as though He pushes you and then runs along side you. It’s knowing that your crosses in life are light and therefore not daring to complain about what is physically difficult in the moment.”

The day’s page in Jesus Calling was so perfect:
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Coincidence???!!!! No such thing.

This was so much more than just the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. Throughout her training Kate had selflessly woven a beautiful golden cord of hope through so many hearts and united us all in prayer over each mile. It was so much more than training to reach a goal! How honored and blessed I am to have been a part of that which gave her fuel to keep going!

After we arrived safely home, we unpacked Travel Baby and all of her accessories. Travel Baby was filthy from her travels!

“Is dat baff waters I hear????”
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“Ahhh! It is!!”
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The washer and dryer weren’t the only things still running as we tucked in to bed for the night. Kate was the last thing on my mind as I drifted off to sleep, and the first thing on my mind as I awoke in the morning.

Here she is taking off from Mile 85 (yes, I shamelessly stole these off of FB)~
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Norns and I went out for a stroll in the crisp cool air that seems to have followed us back home (minus the aroma of pine 😞)

“I need my knee muffins bundled, please!”
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Nora and I were almost home when I saw on my phone that Kate had COMPLETED THE 100 MILE RUN.
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I was overcome with emotion when I saw these photos ~

“No caption needed, the smile and medal says it all!!” (quoted from Operation Run 100)
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“Taking time to thank the big guy!” (quoted from Operation Run 100)
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Kate? You are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 6:18-20 MSG)

Amazed

Day 6 of Vacation – Continued…

The day continued on just as beautifully as it had begun. Boating, swimming and porch cuddles were on the agenda.
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It’s so bright out for a baby!!
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We spent the first part of evening at Aunt Elaine & Uncle Allan’s beautiful place. Much of the extended family on my Mom’s side either live here, have cabins up here or are vacationing like us. There were almost 40 of us that convened for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres…
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… or rock skipping and juice boxes.
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Sisters Three
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Dad and His Daughters
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Norns opted for a Girl’s Night In with her Kelly. We wished they could have come along!
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We chose this day to get together with everyone in celebration of my Grandmother’s birthday. Today she would have been 99-years-old.

Little Grandma and her Mom (my Great Grandma) – 1916
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She and her young family spent many summers up here at her mother’s cottage from the 1950s and on. The cottage still exists today and is occupied in the summer months by my grandmother’s youngest sister, my Aunt Jane and her husband Jack. We visited during last year’s trip.

From left to right: Grandma (pregnant with my Mom), her sister Jane, my Uncle Roger (?), Jane’s husband Jack, and my Grandpa on the porch at the cottage – 1953
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Sixty years later we traveled down the scenic M-134 to the Albany Bar (and restaurant)
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An unlikely spot for a beautiful flower ~
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You can guarantee a good time (and/or a nervous breakdown) at a restaurant that is outfitted with an empty carpeted stage, spacious dance floor, hula hoops, tricycles and a bouncy horse with a bunch of kids thrown in!
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I had to give it a whirl ~
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I heart all of my brothers in laws. Along with my hubzbind they each bring their own humorous disposition to our already silly family. It’s so fun to have everyone together! Emily’s husband brought our beers back to us from the bar.

“Hi, I’m Josh and I’ll be your waiter this evening!”
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“We’re going to need to see some IDs, ladies.”
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All silliness aside (with a pretty shot of Lake Huron as a buffer), I greatly miss my Grandma. I often think to myself that I wish she had gotten the opportunity to know Nora, but I feel certain that she already does. Happy birthday, sweet Grandma! 💛

Day 7 of Vacation

William went over to the big house with Nora shortly after she woke up, leaving me behind to sleep in. (Thaaaannnnk you, Wm!!!!) I woke up fairly early and quickened my pace getting ready when I overheard someone outside comment about doing something before the rain comes. 😦 “Rain???!!???” I exclaimed to myself. The sky was beginning to get a little overcast. I wanted to get one last walk in so I could get my lungs stocked up on the heavenly pine saturated air.
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I made it halfway there before my hubzbind came and rescued me by car from the impending raindrops. I was excited to see my baby cuddlebug and promptly dressed her in some cozy, adorable overalls! We sat out on the porch to watch the storm clouds encroach.
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The sound of the drizzling rain and the motion of the rocking chair nearly put both of us to sleep!
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It was to be our last night there. Nora certainly enjoyed a whole week surrounded by so many people who love her!
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The clock struck 9 and I suddenly remembered (Holy Spirit nudge) that Nora would be due for her medications soon. I had forgotten to bring them with me from our cabin and figured I’d better drive over to get them. From inside the house it would have been impossible to see that the sun had peeked out from a massive cloud deck just in time to radiate a magnificent sunset. The rain was still pouring down. I initially pulled over to look at the sunset, but as I looked across the Cedarville Bay in the opposite direction, the view literally took my breath away!!!
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In my conversations with God at the beginning of our vacation, I wondered if we’d get to see another beautiful rainbow again this year. And there it was in all of its splendor literally in the last few remaining minutes of daylight (9:00 pm!!!) of our vacation! I stared at it in awe for a few minutes before I realized I was blocking the boat ramp that someone was trying to access. With tears in my eyes, I continued onward to our cabin where the view was even more spectacular! Fortunately, I remembered the panoramic feature on my phone before it was too late!

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
(Psalm 19:1 NIV)
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Thank you, thank you, thank you, God for loving me like you do.

Kutless – Amazed

North

Day 5 of Vacation

The weather can be such a gamble. We’ve been lavishly endowed with warm sunshine today. A morning boat ride was in order. Keira aka “Bonnie” and her Papa are ready to go!
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Muthr got her sunglasses ganked by a little boy with sensitive eyes.
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This is Watson & Cohen’s first trip up North, as is Dustin’s. It looks like they’ll probably want to come back!

“This is even better than sticking my head out of the car window!”
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Joe & Dustin, Watson & Cohen, and Emily & Josh went over to Mackinac Island today with our cousin Allie and fiancé Zach. W & C enjoyed a bike ride around the island from their trailer. Very cute!! They were reportedly very well behaved…
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… but not refined enough to partake in high tea at the Grand Hotel!!
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We weren’t brave enough to take the trip with Nora just yet. We were happy just to lay low back at the big house.

Damselfly rescued from a spiderweb ~
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Island construction traffic ~
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It was Take Your Nephew/Grandson to Bar Night
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Vacation Day 6

Nornor woke up with the birds. I threw a sweatshirt on over my pajamas, wrapped up the baby and we walked out to a wooden swing on the dock. The edge of the eastern sky caught flame and slowly smoldered at the seams of the placid blue. The smell of pine lingered in the crisp air, a shrieking gull lamented over a lost meal. I could have sat there till midday absorbing the beauty of this place. Nora — not so much. The lulling motion of the swing had become commonplace after only a few minutes. I reluctantly ventured back inside with her as a courtesy to the neighboring cabins.
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Day 6 to be continued…

He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
(Acts 1:7, 8 MSG)

Twenty

Day 3 of Vacation

Happy baby reigns supreme!
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I tried to lay Parker and Nora together, but Parker got all grabby and Norns didn’t know what to make of him!

“Dat kid’s crazy!!!”
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The weather was in the low 80s and we spent most of our time outside.
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Do you see it??? This was in the sky while I was on the phone with another t18 Mom who is due in August! We had just finished talking about God winks!
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We enjoyed the mild evening air until the mosquitos got wind of us!!
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Take Your Son to the Bar Night! 😮
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Day 4 of Vacation

We woke up to very chilly windy weather and even had to shut the windows in our little cabin!
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Nornor didn’t have the best night of sleep the night before, which meant that Our Kelly didn’t either. We packed up early and went over to the big house so she could get some sleep!

Morning cuddles ~
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It was not a good day for swimming with the high being only in the 60’s. It was much too windy to even sit outside. We paid a visit to Uncle Roger and Aunt Maryann’s beautiful cabin and said hello!
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Today is a special day in and of itself. For the past couple of years we have been away up here in Michigan, but my firstborn is always close in heart. Twenty years ago today I set my eyes on her for the very first time. She announced her arrival with a hearty cry that emanated the impassioned room. Minutes old, I held her close and looked into her sapphire eyes wishing I could freeze time. Although I had to let her go, I’ve held tightly onto those memories over the past twenty years; and carried an infallible confidence that I did the right thing by choosing life for her. I am beyond blessed to have watched her grow up in photographs, and now to have a relationship with her. I wish you all the love, all the joy and happiness in the world, S! I hope you have a fantastic birthday! ❤

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
(1 Corinthians 13:3-7 MSG)

Pure Michigan!!!

Day 1 of Vacation

And here we are again in this treasured, timeless, beautiful corner of the world – Les Cheneaux Islands, Cedarville, Michigan! Travel Baby weathered the 9 hour journey exceptionally well!

This is the magnificent Mackinac Bridge, the bridge that connects regular everyday life to a place and time filled with precious memories of vacations past, and the “pining”🌲 for memories of vacations future (pun intended). A week out of the summer for just about every year of my life since I was 3 months old has generated an anthology of memories that now include a whole different cast of characters — my husband, my children, brothers-in-laws, nieces and nephew.

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This year also includes Our Kelly who graciously accepted the invitation to come along and help us with Nora! We have our own cozy little cabin about 2 miles down the road from the rest of the extended family.
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“Dat afghan is really kinda neat!!!!!!”

“Nora, your knee muffins are really kinda delicious!!!!!”
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We fluffed our little nest and sat down for a minute before heading over to the big house.
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Gavin rode up with Papa, Uncle Joe, Uncle Dustin and doggies, so we hadn’t seen him in awhile. Nora was happy to be reunited with her brudder!!
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This is Nora’s SECOND trip up here. She’s so much more aware of her surroundings and is really, really enjoying all of the new scenery and extra lovings! She’ll tell her Papa things!
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Nora thinks her Daddy is extra funny!
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The weather started off a little chilly which was a very nice break from the sweltering heat back home!

There is a big back porch that overlooks one of the channels with a rocking chair on it — perfect for rocking babies especially in this heavenly climate!

Greta heading out for an evening boat ride.
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This is the exquisite guest house that Greta is staying in with her cousin Gracie.
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Aunt Em and Uncle Josh sleep upstairs in the loft. They have their own full bath and a TV. I was commenting to Greta how it’s like a life size little dollhouse, and wouldn’t it be neat to have something like this back home… Guess what Greta has decided she wants for her birthday!? Haha, Veruca Salt!!!
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It is cozy and fun hanging out with Greta in her little hermitage!

Day 2 of Vacation

It’s so so stinking cute watching Nora wake up in an unfamiliar environment!!

“Wh… What time is it? Where are we???”
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We assembled the stroller, geared up and Nora and I ran/walked the 2 miles over to the big house. William went on ahead in the car and Our Kelly stayed behind to catch up on sleep.
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My brother Joe brought up 15 lbs. of goetta!! (Which if you aren’t from Cincinnati, you probably and tragically have no idea what that is. 😔) We feasted for breakfast and enjoyed the rest of our day with the family.

After Norns was settled in, I accompanied the big kids, their cousins and their Uncle Dan on a boat ride.

“White Sugar” and “Brown Sugar” (Greta is starting to look really ethnic after all if this sun!!! No amount of sunscreen seems to help!)
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“Refined Sugar” and “Raw Sugar” (they needed sugar names too!!)
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Let the fun begin!!!
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The only thing we are missing up here is a bathtub!! This baby can’t be expected to go without a baff for a whole week!!!! So we rounded up a storage bin and filled it on up with warm water and a stinky baby!

“Disss is what I liiike!!!”
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All clean and refreshed! Nora loves sitting outside on the porch!
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And so does the Little Big Guy, Parker with his Aunt Em!
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Soaking up the sun down by the boat house ~
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Kelly joined us when she woke up. Nornor was so happy to see her!
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“… an’nen I took a baff…”
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I accompanied my Mom & Dad to look at possible future vacationing accommodations. We indulged ourselves in some gaudy lawn ornament shenanigans.

“On a steel concrete horse I ride… I’m wanted… Dead or Aliiiiiiive…”
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A pretty little hat made by Aunt Elaine came in quite handy for the chilly evening!
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Perfect weather for a campfire, even “the boys” agree!
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Nora held court before retiring for the evening. She certainly is a little princess!
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I am so happy, so excited to be up here! Nora loves it too!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17)

Coming and Going

It’s been a crazy busy month and I’ve been remiss in my postings! I apologize profusely! Our visitors from Texas departed on Tuesday. We were very sad to see them go after a fun filled week:

Pancakers
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Morning cuddles with Meemee
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Cuddles with Aunt Jill
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And more cuddles with the girls
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Lindsey did such a good job feeding her baby cousin!
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After the cousins were gone the kids only had each other — and the computer for entertainment. Norns enjoyed a Minecraft lesson
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Meanwhile Daddy sends us unsettling pictures from work!! (in the red harness)“Be careful, Daddy!!!!”
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“Woahhh, Daddy!! I gotchya!!”
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I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday making a list, checking it twice, trying to find out what we need to bring on our vacation to the U.P.!!!!

“Time to start packing, Mommy!!”
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The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
(Psalm 121:7, 8 NIV)

Blue Skies

Saturday

If Nora was awake, she was crying or groaning. The fear and anxiety was boiling up inside me, pressurizing my tempestuous thoughts into the future where they didn’t belong. What was likely teething pains or the usual gas pains began corroding into thoughts of hospital stays, surgeries, etc. It’s so easy to be thankful and joyous when everything is going well, but shouldn’t I have the same level of trust and faith when they’re not? If only it were that easy! Who am I to second guess GOD — the Creator of the Universe? But there I am AGAIN wallowing in a stagnant pit of self-pity, aching for some sort of “normal”, deceived into thinking I know a better way.

A friend of mine that seems to be very receptive to Holy Spirit nudges reminded me in a text, “Nora DID just have 3 consecutive days of shots!! Of course she’s crabby! Give her a couple days and she’ll be back to herself!” I was calmed and reassured by her sound voice of reason, but my anxiety returned with each moan and groan. If only Nora could talk!

Despite the melancholy cloud that hung over the living room, we had already made plans to attend my niece’s birthday party. Nora obviously would not have weathered the 45 minute journey or enjoyed the new scenery with the way she was feeling. As much as I hated to leave her, I had to take a break. We arranged for a nurse to stay with her while we were away.

Wandering thoughts, tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I went through the motions of driving there. There is no better medicine for me than being close with my family. Nature comes in at a close second. To have the two together is heavenly.

I hadn’t been there long before I ventured off on a walk out onto my sister and her husband’s beautiful property. I had intended to go out alone, but my sweet Greta spotted me and wanted to walk with me. I was happy to have her company, but she broke away to run off with the herd of little girl cousins that came running across the field moments later.
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In my bit of time alone I was reminded of God’s infinite glory. I watched in wonder at the variety of dragonflies skimming across the ponds. An orange one, perched on top of a cattail looked like a beautiful flower.
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I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. (Psalm 50:11 NIV)

As I encountered these wild flowers tucked away in secret at the edge of the yard, a hummingbird and I met face to face.
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Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
(Matthew 6:26 NIV)
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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:5 NIV)

I was invited out on a second walk by my Buddy Boy. He had some exploring to do and I was so touched that he wanted to have his Muthr along. He can be really “tough and cool” at times, but at the end of the day, he still loves his mom.
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And speaking of Buddy Boys… This young baby man sure is a sweet addition to the family.

Papa and his Buddies ~
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The Baby Buddy with his Nana ~
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Sleepy Baby Buddy with his Grandma ~
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I received periodic texts from the nurse while we were away that Nora was doing good – no reason to worry. That enabled me to enjoy the rest of the beautiful day.
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Sunday

William graciously allowed me to sleep in and went down first to dismiss the night nurse. He texted me that Nora had a GREAT night. I climbed right out of bed, got down on my knees and THANKED God!!! What an answer to prayer! I felt like I was taking a breath of fresh air after having been underwater for too long.

True to text I was greeted with happy noises and smiles when I went down to see her.
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We’ve sometimes wondered what the little pockets are actually for in baby clothing. Norns uses her pockets for lip gloss and teething gel.
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Just hanging out in Greta’s room with Aunt Jill, Uncle Chris and Lindsey!
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Nornor had a nice relaxing baff…
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… then spent the rest of the day with her Kelly while the rest of us ventured off to go swimming. Again, I hated to leave Nora, but this time it was because she was being so happy and sweet!!
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Meanwhile back at home, Nornor and Kelly were playing dress up! Look how PRETTTTYY!!
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Monday

Another really good night and another fabulous day. Lots of happy squeals and smiles!
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She was actually cooperative and happy for a physical therapy session for once — until she stunk up her diaper. Happy Baby returned once that was all over though!
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If they start a band, this could be their album cover ~
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It is easy to love Him when the blue is in the sky,
When the summer winds are blowing, and we smell
the roses nigh;
There is little effort needed to obey His precious will
When it leads through flower-decked valley, or over
sun-kissed hill.

It is when the rain is falling, or the mist hangs in the air,
When the road is dark and rugged, and the wind no longer fair,
When the rosy dawn has settled in a shadowland of gray,
That we find it hard to trust Him, and are slower to obey.

It is easy to trust Him when the singing birds have come,
And their songs of praise are echoed in our heart and
in our home;
But it’s when we miss the music, and the days are dull and drear,
That we need a faith triumphant over every doubt and fear.

And our blessed Lord will give it; what we lack He will supply;
Let us ask in faith believing—on His promises rely;
He will ever be our Leader, whether smooth or rough the way,
And will prove Himself sufficient for the needs of every day.

(from Streams in the Desert)