Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Wow, I can't believe it's been almost 1 full year since I last posted. Obviously much has transpired during that time! Willow's grown and developed just a wee-bit and we've undergone some major life transitions. I'll spare a long recap (mostly because I can't remember) and just highlight the main things. The main thing being what the Lord has been doing in my heart.

Much of my absence can be attributed to a period of intense, deep heart-work that the Holy Spirit has been laboring over in me. I felt a need for silence and privacy, coveting each whisper and prodding I sensed from Him. I witnessed the 3.5 years in California come to a gorgeous, crystal clear full circle as reasoning and questioning were laid bare and answered.

I experienced communion and presence with the Holy Spirit that I think I doubted was a possible reality before. I fell in love with the Body of Christ, coming to know the Bride through intimate, raw time with a bunch of rag-tag believers that I would have never expected to allow past my exterior shell. I learned what fellowship in the name of Jesus alone looks like; not based on commonalities, social groups, interests, judgements, agendas or programs, but simply receiving one another under the banner of Christ's redemptive blood.

I've been challenged to want less, live with less, hope for less from this modern day society and shift my desires to more of Christ. Less means more for those in need; less stuff for me equals more life-sustaining necessities for those who have no voice, no options; choosing less things means not filling my heart-holes with anything other than Christ's satisfying food. I'm far from "there". I'm just starting to even dare think about what those changes and conscious decisions of less look like, and it's honestly painful to recognize my resistant flesh screaming NO at the thought of it. This will be a long journey, I know, but I feel a necessary one if I claim the blood of Christ has been poured into my veins.

We recently moved 3,000 miles from Southern California to Cincinnati OH and are getting adjusted and settled in to living in a totally different environment and culture. It feels very familiar and comfortable to me though, and I'm hopeful of letting myself extend roots into this soil and peoples' lives in a new way. For some reason I felt like my time in CA was some sort of gestation stage, a waiting period of learning how to just be with the Lord, to understand who He is and who I am in light of Him. It was a time of solitude and stripping away of self-applied labels and identities. I now feel prepared to go forth in a new way, in a new place.

God has already revealed answers to prayers we've been praying over the past 6 months regarding neighbors, home, community. We moved into a cute little house in the outskirts of Cincinnati sight unseen and it's a really great fit for us. Our neighbors have a boy the exact same age as Willow and they are more than generous with sharing outside toys and have been overall really welcoming. We're excited to plug into the neighborhood and a church community quickly and see how we are to be used here.

Willow is 19 months now, and Oh-How-Did-That-Ever-Happen? She is hilarious with a quirky humor and ready smile and plentiful kisses and bouncy sun streaked curls. We're definitely entering the independent toddler zone, which I'm not so crazy about at the moment, but we'll work through it and once we get it figured out, we'll be onto the next phase of challenges and adventures. I'm pretty sure her she has the gift of encouragement and affirmation, given that she applauds and exclaims "YAAAAY!" for every little thing you do. It's great for my self esteem. I'm curious and excited to see how that develops as she grows older; I think she's going to be very sensitive to the hurts and needs of others.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Busy Bee

(this is for Uncle Pete. I know how much he loves the beauty of an eating baby)

(Hairbow applied for entertainment purposes only, primarily for Aunt Beck. No hair was harmed in the process)

Willow is starting to warm up to the idea of "real-food"... it took her awhile to come around, but I think she's digging it now. Obviously, this is a Justin trait, not a Stephanie trait! Her favorites are Mango, strawberry and she'll even choke down some scrambled egg.
She's almost 100% recovered from her Upper Resp. infection turned weird hip inflammation ER to Hospital ordeal, and is scooting around like a little sand crab. She quickly bypasses all of her toys spread about for her and heads straight to any available cord, flashing light or baby hazard within sight.

As tiring and stressful as her brief little illness and health snaphoo was, I was fairly relaxed and laid-back in the hospital. I kept exclaiming how grateful I was that I knew she'd be okay eventually and that we'd be out of there soon. So many of the parents and kids around us were there on a frequent basis, the strain was commonplace and part of everyday life for them. They didn't have an end in sight or the comfort of a relatively healthy, resilient babe. I just ached and empathized with their familiar state of fatigue, sleeping for weeks on a hospital pull-out chair, surrounded by constant irritating sounds and smells. Part of the experience stirred me to want to go back to work in a hospital again, just to be empathetic, patient, sensitive and generous to the families. But on a larger scale, it urged me to hurry home, luxuriate in our comfort of health, enjoying that gift fully and with more cognizance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Willow has recently discovered her toes, and better yet, that she can get them into her mouth. It's her new favorite diaper changing time activity. She's just a funny little girl all the way around, keeping us on our toes non-stop and full of laughs.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First Race

This past weekend Willow went to her first race (well, Justin's race). It was an early morning...wake-up at 4:30am, out the door by 5, arrived at the event by 6:15, and race time at 8 sharp. Oddly, I've always loved getting up and driving somewhere that early, while things are still blanketed in fading darkness, it's chilly and refreshingly still. I enjoy watching the day wake up as I'm heading somewhere fun and adventurous or even familiar, seeing things in the dawning morning light. This early morning we headed to Malibu Creek Canyon State Park, just a few miles inland of the famous (or is it infamous) Malibu, CA shoreline. It was a gorgeous setting, a low fog hanging between the soft mountains, green glowing woods with the sound of meandering streams tickling the air. A lung-full breath of fresh, unpolluted, non-grey air that sometimes seems hard to find near LA. This was a trail run event, with two different distances, a 6k and 22k, both with some gnarly hills and narrow, tricky paths.
I relish being at races just as much as I enjoy early morning travel. I'm always inspired by the different shapes, sizes, abilities, stories and motivations of each individual crossing the start and finish line. I love seeing those crazy individuals who have the drive to make excellent fitness more than a hobby, but a disciplined lifestyle, a passion. The 76 year old man completing the 22k trail run, with undoubtedly the toughest hill climbs in a west coast race, encourages me to get out the next day and push myself harder.  As does the 40 something Mom who's barely finishing her very  first 5k trail run, husband and kids waiting with cheers and proud hugs at the end. 
Justin did great, finishing in thirteenth place out of over 130 male runners. We stuck around to watch the first of the 22k come in, knowing they'd be laying down some impressive times, and boy did they. We were thrilled to be able to watch the winning female cross the line when we found out it was Heather Fuhr, Ironman World Champ and professional Triathlete. I've watched her on TV several times competing in races, so to see her racing in person was pretty awesome. 
Overall, it was a great morning and ended with a scenic drive home down the Pacific Coast Hwy. Willow did fabulously and I'm excited to watch her grow up hopefully enjoying early morning races too! Maybe one day I'll be cheering her across the finish line, or better yet, doing it along side her.

Friday, May 1, 2009

5 Months

5 MONTHS! How did that happen? That's tooooo close to half a year for my liking. I've definitely noticed some "maturity" changes in just the last 2 weeks.... how she interacts with people (read: doesn't scream her head off or cry when a stranger talks to her), her observation of her surroundings, turning and looking for where sounds are coming from, playing more independently (read: I can take a shower before Justin gets home now without her dissolving into a sobbing puddle), she likes to sit assisted and play with things rather than laying on the floor, she loves watching the dog, Zoey, move around the room and would rather give her full attention instead of us... just to name a few fun things.

She's just a bundle of joy and makes each day so fun and full, even if sometimes that means never getting out the front door, forgetting to wash our clothes because I'm washing 500 loads of baby clothes and cloth diapers, or not vacuuming the house for a embarrassingly long time.

When I'm really tired and finally get her to sleep for a nap and it seems like 10 minutes later she's awake again, I can't help but be delighted when I go in her room and am greeted with the biggest grin and little coo. Apparently she doesn't hold it against me that I'm the one who put her in the crib and turned off the lights. 

I can't wait for everyone on the East coast to see and enjoy her soon!

Monday, April 27, 2009

We started trying solids (or pureed, thin, nasty looking stuff) with Willow. She apparently really likes sweet potatoes! We're going to start slow, just eating a bit at dinner time most evenings. It's a whole lot messier, but it sure is cute.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Belly laugh

Willow has started giving me a good little chuckle. She especially thinks "boo" is funny. This is kind of shaky since I was holding the camera with one hand and covering my face for peek-a-boo with the other, but you can still see her cutie-pie self!