Tuesday, November 30, 2010

my heart hurts

Shawn left super early this morning to drive to Texas. He's driving a 26ft Uhaul with our car on a tow dolly hitched to the back. I'm so grateful that Shawn's Dad is following behind in his vehicle, Shawn's a great driver, but that's a long drive with a large truck.

Jude is spending the day with Rhonda (Jude's North Carolina Grandma), so it's just Cohen and me at the house today. The house is completely empty save for a couple of blow up mattresses, a pack and play, and our luggage. I've spent the morning cleaning up and getting the house ready to be seen by someone who thinks it's such a fantastic home they want to offer us $10,000 more than we're asking. But now Cohen's down for a nap. The house is clean. Most of my earthly possessions are packed on a truck that is somewhere in Alabama right now. And after about six weeks of nonstop preparations, plans, long nights, early mornings, and filling ever day with "doing," I finally have a chance to stop.

And I'm realizing something I hadn't noticed before. Something that all the busyness was covering.

My heart is hurting.

When I look around this house, when I see good friends interact with Jude, when I give a hug, when I watch someone pull out of our driveway one last time, when I try to remember details of people's faces, expressions, and hugs, I feel a subtly overwhelming tightness in my chest. A tightness that reminds me that this is hard. And I can't stop crying.


I began this post a few days ago and as I was writing I realized that I needed to take my tears (and by "tears," I mean hideous, heaving sobs) to God. We're currently in Texas, but we won't have internet access in our home for another two weeks. I just wanted to update and let everyone know that we got here safely. We love our house, we're mostly unpacked, the boys are happy, and Shawn and I are excited, but in my moments of stillness....my heart still hurts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

do you remember that time?

Do you remember that time when we had a three month old and a two year old, and we packed up all our stuff, put our house on the market, and moved across the country? Remember how Cohen wasn't even sleeping through the night then? Remember how we'd wake up every morning and spend every single minute working on the house and packing? Do you remember how Jen, Cohen, and Jude all got bad colds in the middle of all of it, and do you remember how after the boys went down every night we'd spend our time spackling, painting, packing, and taping?

Do you remember that adventure? Remember how we went to bed every night more exhausted than the night before, but we woke up every morning with new energy (even though we were up a good portion of the night with Cohen)? Remember how loved and encouraged we felt when people just offered to come help us pack, paint, and love on our boys...even during the holidays? Remember how we'd set a deadline when we would both stop our projects - even if we still had a million things to do - we'd grab a snack or some hot apple cider, and we'd snuggle and watch Hulu together? Do you remember how we never really felt fearful or worried? We were either too naive to realize how huge a task we were undertaking, or we were resting in the confidence that God was leading and guiding us.

Remember that time? Yeah, that was crazy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

cohen smiles

I realize that I've been posting quite a bit lately, but it seems like a productive use of my time when I'm pumping in the mornings. I took a video of Cohen a couple of weeks ago, trying to catch his sweet smile. He's becoming more smiley with every day and actually let out some for real giggles Thursday night! I had several people over to help me paint a few rooms, and once we finished up our friend Katie was holding Cohen. She would kind of woosh him towards her face, make a funny sound, and his face would light up in a smile. After a few minutes of that game, he started actually making noises when he laughed, and it was absolutely the sweetest sound I've ever heard. As Kayla said, it sounded like Jude's bike horn laugh! I've been trying to get him to laugh again, and while I haven't had much luck I'm sure we'll get to hear it again soon. I can't wait!

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

pumpkin carving

So the other day I took a notepad and wrote the day and date from now until December 1st on each page. Then I took all of the things I need to get done that are swirling around in my head and spread them out over the next week and a half, according to when each things needs to get done. Then each day, I prioritize which items I need to accomplish first, add any other things that particular day holds, and get to it. Most days I bust my behind but still have one or two items that need to be put on the following day's list because there just aren't enough hours in the day.

This morning, I have everything crossed off my list except for one thing, "box stuff up." To what can I owe this surprisingly productive morning? Well, my son who shall remain nameless (though his name does rhyme with Schmoen) thought that 4:30 this morning would be a great time to wake up for the day. I got bills paid, our budget balanced, our student loans taken off of automatic bill pay, dishes washed, and the bed made. Lest you think I'll be able to relax today, I've thought of three other things I need to do today in the time it took me to write this post. And of course, now that Jude is up it will take me three times as long as it should to do any of those things. Still, it's nice to be able to take a break and share some of our family's pumpkin carving photos with you!

Our three pumpkins in all their jack-o-lantern glory!

Our Cohen pumpkin

The pumpkin Shawn carved to look like me. Please don't be too critical of my baby fat and tired face.
Shawn and Jude working hard!

Jude giving his input on what Shawn should carve

The "Jude" pumpkin

I realize I'm pretty late in getting these pictures up...the pumpkins are now actually chilling in our compost bin. Life is pretty crazy right now, though. I also want to ask your grace in understanding if Shawn or I don't return your calls and/or texts in this season of our life. Words won't do justice in explaining how stressed and overwhelmed we are right now. We desperately need our friends and family to just know that we love you, even if you don't hear from us and even if you have to call us three times before we call you back. It doesn't mean we don't want to hear from you, don't want to talk to you, or don't love you - it just means we have a ridiculous amount of things to do and things to keep straight right now, and a few (and by "a few," I mean "tons of") things inevitably slip through the cracks. Please cut us some slack, don't hate us, and don't make us feel guilty. We're doing our best to keep up with life and come through this season with a sound marriage and boys who know they're loved. Some days it's all we can do to accomplish that much.

And on that note - those boxes and that to-do list are calling my name!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

another last

Since next Wednesday is the day before a holiday and the boys and I are flying out the Wednesday after that, I experienced one of many "lasts" tonight. Except that this one has left me heartbroken. Tonight was my last small group with the girls that I've been teaching, leading, loving, and learning from for five years. It's been on my mind all day and though I was trying to avoid dwelling in sadness, I broke down as I was loading Cohen into his car seat on my way to church. Like any sane person, I confided in my infant.

"Cohen, did you know this is Mommy's last night at small groups?"

Cohen smiled.

"Mommy's going to miss those girls, Cohen. I know you don't know this yet, but those girls mean more to me than I could ever articulate."

Cohen laughed.

It turns out a smiley infant isn't the best person to go to when you want sympathy, but I cried tears of grieving nonetheless. I decided not to say anything to the girls because I didn't want to disrupt any actual learning on their part, and I certainly didn't want to turn our group time into a crying fest. Instead, I decided to soak in every last detail. Where each girl sat, what the room smelled like, the looks on their faces, their highs and lows, their smiles, our inside jokes, and any other detail I could soak in to recall later when I'm missing them so much it aches.

At the end of most small groups I ask for a volunteer to pray. Like most Jr. High and High School students, they all stared at the ground awkwardly, hoping I wouldn't single them out. So I started saying, "Who loves God and wants to talk to Him?" and usually added, "There's no right or wrong pray, it's just having a chat with your Father." In the past couple of years, the girls have started requesting that I say that as we close small groups, and it's become one of our "things." As we closed tonight, I asked for a volunteer to pray, and the girls waited for me to add, "Who loves God and wants to talk to Him?" I did, and immediately Kayla volunteered.

As she prayed, five years of ministry flashed through my mind. Five years of loving the same group of girls week in and week out, five years of watching them make great decisions and watching them make poor decisions. Five years of watching their faith become their own, watching them wrestle with what faith, servant hood, leadership, and obedience are. Five years of seeing them live out their faith - sometimes well and sometimes poorly, of watching them get braces and them get them off, watching them pass their drivers' tests, watching them crush after guys, watching them make and lose friends, watching them love friends through sin, and watching them grow into women. Women whom I'm proud to call mine. Women whom I genuinely enjoy hanging out with. Women I trust my children with. Women whose lives I desperately care about and long to be a part of.

Those girls are a part of my soul, they're a part of who I am. I carry them around with me - their secrets, their dreams, their struggles, their laughter - and eighteen hours between us won't stop that. I'm devastated, sobbing, and my heart is literally aching when I realize that tonight was my last night sitting in that room and saying, "Who wants to share their high and low?"

But the truth is, they can't get rid of me that quickly.

Who says a small group leader has to live in the same town? Who says I can't pray for them every day, text/facebook/email/call/skype and remain a part of their lives? Not me, that's for sure. No, I say that I will refuse to turn in my small group leader badge (...you know, if we had badges), and even though it'll look different than it does now, I will pray for them, pray with them, listen to them, help guide them, and love them just as much as I do now. Just because we're changing locations doesn't mean I won't still remain their small group leader.

Try and stop me.

on the homefront

I know what you're thinking..."That Shawn is one lucky fella." I totally agree. I mean, who wouldn't want an overtired and overweight wife? Lucky, indeed.

Shawn: Shawn's out of town again for five days, which I think is stressing him out more than he thought it would. He's taken the primary lead on getting things done around the house to get it ready to sell, and the fact that he has just about a week to finish everything up after he gets back is daunting. Both of our bathrooms are currently being remodeled, and I'm hoping to get a good portion of the painting done while he's gone. Hopefully after those two things are taken care of, the rest of the projects will be relatively small. Still, twenty small projects is nothing to sneeze at, and as I'm sure you know - when you plan for something to take two hours it inevitably takes five. On top of that, he's of course working hard to transition his areas of ministry in the church, pack up his office, make his files accessible, and make sure the students know that they remain important to him. Overwhelmed yet? Yeah...so is he.

Jen: I'm working hard at boxing and packing, and am also organizing the logistics of what the boys and I will do for the two days before we fly out that Shawn has all of our earthly possessions. I'm also working on the details of canceling our cable, garbage, etc., and calling every company that automatically debits our bills (which is every. single. bill. we have) to have them bill us manually until we transfer funds from one bank to the other. And then of course there's the fun task of breast feeding and pumping with men in and out of the house working on our bathrooms.

Despite the mayhem of our lives right now, I want you to know that we still remain excited about the changes God is bringing in our lives. We still feel like this is 100% His will, and the assurance of that calling is giving us untold strength and perseverance. And as I told Shawn the other day, all of our current stresses are because we're blessed. We're blessed to own a house to sell. We're blessed to have so many possessions to pack up. We're blessed that so many people want to spend time with us. We're blessed to have two little precious lives to care for. We're so, SO blessed.

Jude: I think Jude's finally adjusted to Daylight Savings Time, so is no longer waking up at 6:00am. This makes for a much happier Mommy and much less whiny Jen. I also realized that in my haste to grocery shop a couple of weeks ago, I bought Jude whole milk instead of his usual lactose free milk. I went about three days of giving him regular milk before Shawn pointed out my mistake. Since switching him back, he's been significantly less whiny. I'd actually been wondering if we should start transitioning him to regular milk, and it looks like he's not ready for that yet. He had his 2 year well check this week, and is basically perfect. He's 23lbs and I think 36 inches tall. The doctor said that at 2 years, they're usually about half of their adult height. This fact would put Jude at 5'4 (which is one inch taller than me), but our doctor thought Jude would probably fall right in between Shawn and I...around 5'8. I expect that Jude will probably be one of the smallest kids his age for quite some time, and we'll certainly help him cope with any kind of stigma that may come from that, but really - if being on the small side is his biggest problem than he's one blessed kid, indeed.

Cohen: That boy loves him some eye contact. It can be disconcerting to be chatting with someone and look down to see Cohen waiting anxiously to bust into a grin at your eye contact. Disconcerting, but wonderful. He's still sleeping well, though I'm never quite sure when he's going to wake up. I try to feed him around 8:00pm, and then wake him up to feed him around 10:00 or 10:30. He then typically sleeps until anywhere between 5:00am and 8:00am. We had a couple of mornings with early wakings, but I had a few servings of dairy within a two day period, and I think his little tummy was struggling to digest it. He slept until 7:30 this morning, so I'm hoping that's made it's way through my system.

As our days and moments to accomplish productivity are quickly vanishing, mine and Shawn's state of sanity is also mysteriously disappearing. Thanks to awesome friends and thoughtful people, Jude and Cohen seem to be blissfully unaware of the chaos swirling around them right now, though.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

everything is cuter dressed as a puppy

This is a video I've been trying to upload for about two months now. I'm trying now to see if I can upload it to Vimeo and share it here, so bare with me if this is a big fat fail. I completely forgot to take a single photo of the boys dressed in their outfits on Halloween, but I did get this video when I was trying on Jude's costume earlier in October at the house. You're gonna wanna watch this cuteness, trust me.

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Monday, November 15, 2010


So Blogger is being random about what videos it'll let me upload and what ones it won't. I've tried to upload my videos through YouTube, but a five minute video takes several hours to upload, and it freezes my computer up. Does anyone have any other ideas for how I can successfully upload videos on the blog? It let me upload this random video of Jude and I waiting on Shawn in the car, so enjoy Jude's cuteness!

Friday, November 12, 2010

a letter to cohen

Dear Cohen,

It's pretty hard to believe it, but you are three months old today! Three months ago today, we met the sweetest, smiliest little boy we'd ever known. Kiddo, you are just busting with personality and joy, and Daddy and I have loved getting to know you. You love nothing better than to be looking into someone's eyes and making them smile, and you literally throw your head back to laugh. You've recently figured out how to get your hand to your mouth, and you also like getting your hand to go towards my mouth so I can give you lots of kisses!

Cohen, you love your big brother. You're fascinated by what he does and LOVE when he makes eye contact with you. You smile so big when he kisses the top of your head or leans in and gently says, "boo." I pray that you two have a strong bond and feel the responsibility to look out for one another.

Developmentally, you're growing right on track. You're staying awake a little bit longer, but you sure do love your sleep. You're still working on grasping objects with your hands, and are trying to figure out those crazy arms and legs of yours. You like to blow raspberries and stick your tongue out, and when you accomplish those feats, your entire face lights up like you just conquered the world. Like most babies your age, you detest tummy time - so you get probably five minutes every day or so. Your neck support is great though, and you're already able to turn your head to look towards sounds you hear.

You haven't been weighed since you were nine weeks old, but I can tell you're growing. You're out of size 1 diapers now, and seem like you're close to being out of the size Small cloth diapers I have. I'm not sure what I'm going to do if you need to be moved to a Medium already, since Jude is still in Mediums. I guess it'll make sorting the diapers easier! You've recently developed an extra little fat roll on your thigh and a double chin, which just thrills me to no end. Your Daddy thinks it's weird that I delight in seeing you put on weight, and I'm sure as you read this, you'll think it strange too, but I don't care. It's my job to nourish you, and seeing your little chunk-a-lunks is as close as we'll get to you being able to say, "You're doing a good job feeding me, Mommy. Thanks for taking such great care of me."

Everyone comments on how active your little legs and arms are! Anytime you're not in someone's arms or sleeping, you're kicking those legs like crazy. I think I've written about this before, but you especially love to kick at bath time. Your face gets very serious, your eyes get big, and you concentrate so hard on kicking. It's awesome to see how both you and your brother have taken so well to water and love bath time so much.

You're continuing to be a much better sleeper than we expected, and you usually sleep from 8:30pm-5:00am. When you wake up at 5:00, I usually go into your room and cuddle with you on the guest bed while we both get another hour and a half to two hours of sleep. I'm looking forward to the day when those 5:00am wakings are a thing of the past, but I do enjoy that cuddle time with you. My heart is so full when I can wrap my arms around you, smell your sweet baby head, and feel your breathing become more regular and deep.

Now that you're finished with your growth spurt, you're back to being a great napper. Our nap time (and bed time routine) are now super short - I change your diaper and sing to you while I swaddle you. Then I stand next to your crib and finish singing (you're usually pretty fussy off and on), then lay you in your crib. Most of the time you go right to sleep, though occasionally you fuss for three or four minutes before falling asleep on your own, and the entire routine takes less than five minutes. Don't tell Jude, but putting him down for a nap at this age was a twenty minute ordeal!

Cohen-Bear, you bring so much joy to our house. It's been such a privilege to see you growing and to learn more and more about your personality. We love you, sweet boy, and can't wait to see what the next month brings!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

a letter to jude

Dear Jude,

Today my sweet son, you are two years old. I know that you still don't really have a concept of what a birthday is, but today is the day that we celebrate the life that God has given you. We named you "Jude" because the name means to give praise or thanks, and that's exactly what we do when we talk to God about you. Last year on your birthday, I wrote about how you were born. I still plan on telling you about your birth story every year on your birthday, but I think I'll forego writing it all out again this year.

Instead, I want to make sure I remember the things you love at two years old. For starters, you are just a passionate kiddo. Most of the time you're passionately excited, but sometimes you're passionately frustrated. At least two or three times a day you slowly whisper, "Woooowwww" with such amazement and wonder, and I love seeing the world through your eyes. At the moment, you are passionate about: trains, ice, puppies, cheese, the baby, church, Mee Hee, helping mommy in the kitchen, and letters. You love picking out your shirt in the mornings, and often insist that I put on your shoes and jacket - even if we're staying inside all day.

You've started running really hard and slam-hugging into my legs, and you and I have recently discovered the joy of eyelash kisses. I have to be honest and tell you that you have a strong streak for destruction - you love to crash cars, throw things around, and wipe everything off of the living room table just to watch it crash on the ground. You still have a strong stubborn streak, but we're learning how to help you figure out when that stubbornness is appropriate. Time outs are Mommy's best friend right now, and they work wonders for helping you learn to be obedient. My favorite thing is to squat down in front of you after time outs when I explain why you were put there. You hug me and give me a tear streaked kiss, and I love that moment of tenderness with you. You're usually in time out because you've been willfully disobedient, and you have tendency to listen to me say, "no," take it in, give me an angry look, and proceed to do what I've asked you not to do. It's amazing to watch your heart go from being hardened in disobedience to being softened in repentance. Sometimes I wonder if that's how God feels about us when we go to Him in repentance.

You're still not very interested in eating sweet things, but then again you're not interested in eating unfamiliar to you period. Truthfully, you spend most of your day eating graham crackers, animal crackers, veggie crackers, cheese, and bagels with peanut butter. Sometimes I can get you to eat yogurt or peas, but those things are hit and miss. Basically if it's in a cracker form, you're guaranteed to love it.

As I write this, you're carting your stool around after Daddy saying, "I help? I help? I heeeeeellllllpppp! I help?" and to be honest, you actually are very helpful. You're great at throwing things in the trash can and going to get stuff for us. You're very helpful in stirring things for me, and your curiosity about how Mommy and Daddy are doing things never ends.

You're also talking up an absolute storm. Much of it seems to be in toddler code, and I spend a good amount of time translating (for example, "Dat Go?" means, "Where did it go?" and indicates you want to play a game of hide and seek with some object that you've hidden). It's so sweet to see how your brain interprets words, phrases, and ideas.

It's cool to see that you get excited about getting in the car and going places. You recognize church and shout, "CHUCH!" when we get anywhere near a church. You recognize our route home from about a mile away and say, "Huh-Home!" You know what I mean when I tell you we're going to a store, and when I say we're going to someone's house. You love to look out the window and spot trucks, letters, and most recently the moon. Even though we've never taken you to McDonald's, you get pumped when we drive by the one near us and yell, "Uh-Em!" as you recognize the big "M."

Daddy wanted me to tell you that you're his little best friend. He loves playing in your room with you - playing cars and chase. He loves when you run up to hug him and never quite knows if you're going to run towards him and then run away at the last minute, or run straight into his arms with glee. You make his heart full, kiddo, and he's so glad that you made him a Daddy.

You've remained our little cuddle bug, and the nickname "Judeabug" still fits you well. You share amazingly well with other kids, and have a heart that's so sweetly tender. Jude, we're blessed that God chose us to steward your life, and we pray that you know and love Him with all of your heart. We know that even now, He's preparing you for His plan, and we pray that your heart is soft to hearing His voice - His guidance, correction, and love. We know that as much as MommyDaddy love you, He loves you infinitely more perfectly and completely.

Dear God,

How can I thank you enough for that boy? I had no idea how much You would use him to change and refine me. I had no idea how much my heart could grow and how much I could love so unconditionally. Thank you for using him to show us Your heart for us. Thank you for trusting us with him. Lord, give us wisdom to love, guide, correct, and teach him. Help us to see him how you see him. Abba, please protect him. I pray that even at two years old, his heart would know You and know Your ways. I pray that you'd place in his heart a deep sense of Your calling for his life. Prepare him even now for the plans you have for him, God. Thank you, Father, for his life. What an incredible little life it is.

Monday, November 8, 2010

baby fix

It looks like I'm able to upload videos with relative ease again, so here are a couple for you to get your baby fix. I have to admit that Cohen's not doing anything particularly interesting in these (he had just been smiling and cooing, and we were trying to get him to do it again), but when you're a baby just being a baby is interesting.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Shawn trying to get Cohen to smile a couple of weeks ago:

old school sunday & on the homefront

In our preparations to get our home ready for the market, I'm feeling all nostalgic about our house. I've had a love/hate relationship with our home in the four years we've lived here, but that's for another post. In the meantime, here are some photos of our sweet little home right after we moved in. It's incredible to look through them and see how many improvements we've made in the short time we've lived here!

Our kitchen has since had a complete make over with beautiful new tile, a new light fixture, new paint, white cabinets, and silver pulls (and that hideously placed chandelier is now gone). The kitchen makeover was a present from Shawn to me when I went out of town one weekend:

And a homefront update:

Shawn: Shawn is currently out of town on a middle school trip. I counted the days he'd be in town in the month of November (I was trying to plan out meals for our grocery budget), and it was something like 12 days if we're gone for a week at Thanksgiving like we'd hoped. At some point in those twelve days we need to do several home improvement projects, cram in doctors appointments, have a birthday party for Jude, try and attend as many birthday parties/dinners/last minute you're-leaving-and-we-want-to-spend-time-with-you get togethers as we can, and pack up our entire house. If you're wondering how on earth we're going to do all that, well...we are, too.

Jen: I'm trying not to get overwhelmed. A good indicator of how crazed I'm feeling is how many different to do lists I have and the length of those to do lists. I usually have at least one, sometimes as many as three when I'm feeling extra busy. I have six running lists right now. This is not good. Despite the craziness, I'm really trying to take things one day at a time and accomplish the tasks for each day as they come. I'm also really trying to enjoy my boys and not overlook them out of busyness. I have to admit that I'm so relieved to be a stay at home in this period of our lives. I'm fairly certain that's the only way our house as any semblance of order and stability for the kiddos.

Jude: Jude is crazy about trains, ice, letters, and cheese right now. Most of his days are spent enjoying one of those four things. Judeabug is also passionate about reading and books, and is more than happy to bring me book after book to read. I'm sure you know how much I just hate that. :) He now knows almost all of his letters, so I'm focusing a little bit more on teaching him colors and numbers. He loves to count, but is a little confused about how it works. He counts, "...two...eight...pie....L..." and two is by far his favorite number! After two years of enthusiastic "Da-Da!"s, Jude is finally saying, "Mommy!" It sounds more like, "Mohhh-Meeeeeeee," and is said with all the sweetness my little heart can stand.

Cohen: I do believe Cohen is on the tail end of his 12 week growth spurt. So far he's hit his growth spurts exactly one day after he's supposed to and they last about three days - which is in contrast to Jude's spurts that lasted about a week. While I think some of that contrast is just a difference in kiddos, I also think some of it is because I've learned. When Jude would growth spurt, I did my best to keep him on a three hour schedule and sleep an extended period at night. I also had to give Jude several bottles a day because I was working and had a hard time pumping as much as he was taking when he went through growth spurts, and I'm very careful to not give Cohen bottles during his spurts. I'm sure that's why it took my milk supply a week to catch up to his growth. With Cohen, I feed him as soon as he begins fussing. That usually means every 2-2.5 hours during the day and every 5 hours at night (I know how blessed I am that it IS 5 hours at night...Jude would fuss every 2 hours round the clock). It does mean my life has to kind of be on lock down during those days (especially since Shawn's out of town and I can't really go anywhere where I can't feed Cohen and run after Jude by myself...which is basically nowhere but my own house), but it's worth it. The day before Cohen started his growth spurt, he slept for 11 hours, and I have high hopes that he'll start that consistently once he's done.

So the Maurer home is bracing for chaos right now, but we're so grateful for God's provision and grace. My posts will be super short and sporadic for awhile, but once we get settled it's important to me to use this blog as a tool to show both our families from the north and our friends from North Carolina what our life is like. And on that note...Cohen needs to eat and Jude is spilling AlphaBits all over the floor. Motherhood calls!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

bittersweet symphony

I've typed up three complete blog posts tonight. Three different ways to share my heart and how God is moving in our lives. Each one seemed inadequate and at the same time superfluous. So here goes -

We're moving to Texas because God led us to. And I don't say that lightly. I have to feel pretty certain about a decision to claim that it's God's will. From the very beginning of this process (which was only a few short weeks ago), we haven't been able to shake the feeling that this was from God. When Shawn, Jude, Cohen and I flew down to visit the church, the town, the people, and the culture, we knew. We knew down to our bones that God was asking us to take this next step.

Our hearts are at the same time sinking down to our toes with an indescribable heaviness and soaring straight out of our chests with a freeing lightness. There's peace and freedom that comes along with being smack in God's will. Accompanying is a kind of giddy laughter at the ridiculousness of what we're about to embark on, and the assurance that the Creator of the universe has been preparing us for this for awhile. There's a sense of adventure in packing up our boys and taking them to an unknown land. Our future looks vastly different than we had planned mere months ago, but we're giddy with possibilities and opportunities.

And while it's hard to understand, at the same time our hearts are quickening with excitement they're also being broken. Shattered, in fact. Our roots in Winston-Salem are deep. We bought our house with the expectation that our kids would graduate from a specific school system, and we love Pinedale literally like the bride of Christ. We love her unconditionally with eyes that see her as Christ sees her, and we so desperately want the best for her. Pinedale has been the only church Shawn and I have ever served at. And she will always be our first love.

Our families live a considerable distance away from us, so the friends we have in Winston-Salem are our family. We've spent Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters, Fourth of Julys, birthdays, and hospital stays with you. You've seen me go through postpartum depression and helped pull me out of it, and you've helped fill in the gaps when Shawn couldn't be around. You rushed over to lower the crib when Jude jumped out one afternoon and I was hysterical, you insisted on keeping the boys so Shawn and I could have date night, you sang in our wedding, you helped us pack up our tiny apartment and unpack in our house, you asked how I was doing after Cohen's birth in a tone that meant, "I'll do anything to make this easier for you." You've mourned when we've mourned and rejoiced when we rejoiced, and you've seen us through some of the biggest changes to our marriage, our character, and our lives. You've shaped who we are and who we will be, and our hearts already ache with missing you.

I want to continue making sure you know how much we treasure you, but truthfully, I can't see through the tears in my eyes. And that's not how I want this to go down. I don't want to be so busy missing our friendships that I don't enjoy them. I don't want to busy myself with mourning so that I completely miss the truth that these kinds of friendships are blessings. I will not take those blessings for granted or refuse to relish them because I'm grieving their absence.

We're moving to Texas, but because you are firmly planted in our hearts, we're taking you with us. And personally, I happen to think Texas will be a little better off for it.

video (part two)!

Blogger is finally letting me upload videos, so I have a few to catch up on. This one was taken when I was late in my pregnancy (hence the polka dot belly), and involves Jude and a breast pump box: