Elijah!  Dude, you are six.  Can you even believe it?  Six years old!  You have grown up so much this year, and I love getting to be your mom as you grow!  I am watching your childhood happen right before my eyes.  I love that I get to be in it with you!

You are awesome!  So precise.  So creative.  So smart.  So silly.  So tall.  So amazing.  I love you so much! 

You create the most elaborate worlds with your Legos.  You’ve built all kinds of worlds with themes ranging from the Lego Movie to Angry Birds to Transformers to Minecraft to Shopkins…all just from Legos.  You can see things in all your random Lego pieces before they come to be.  And then you make it happen.  Your creativity is phenomenal.  Both dad and I are super impressed with your creative worlds.  Lately, you’ve even begun drawing stories and narrating them to us as you draw the action in them.  I love this!

You’ve become so good at school this year.  Over this year in kindergarten, I have watched you become a learner.  You are absorbing so much and making connections all over the place…tying in things from school to shows you’ve watched to the world around you.  You are a total math whiz, doing mental math all the time.  You have also begun to read, which is a big deal because learning to read is h-a-r-d work!  I love remembering the day that you told Solomon that you couldn’t wait for him to start kindergarten because then he could learn how to read, your words full of anticipation and excitement for him also to gain what you’ve learned this past year!

You are growing up in how you handle problems, struggles, conflicts with your brothers, desires and wants.  I see you growing in maturity.  It’s super cool to see.

You also are connecting with Jesus in your own way, and I see that connection actually settling your soul.  I don’t even want to write any more here because this is so your own thing that I don’t want to over-define your spiritual reality for you.  It’s just super cool!

You are a great brother and an awesome son.  You bring so much to our family, and I am so, so glad that God put you in this family of ours!  I love you so much and have learned so much by being your mom. 

You are a really fun person!  You have really gotten into Angry Birds lately, watching the show, playing all the different Angry Birds games on the phone, and even playing with the K’nex sets of Angry Birds.  You love them.  You also love Star Wars, the Justice League, and the Avengers.  You love your Imaginext figures and play with them almost daily.  You also love your Legos.  You love your Nabi.  “Nabi time” is such a fun way to learn and play for you!

You also really love bananas lately.  You literally eat 2-3 bananas a day right now.  Bananas, bacon, bread with strawberry jelly, chocolate milk, pickles, cucumbers with Italian dressing, BBQ chips, McDonald’s cheeseburgers, Kit Kats, and Sour Patch kids are some of your favorite foods.   You have branched out and tried more new foods this year than ever before.  So, that’s pretty cool! 

You really have grown up so much this past year!  You are such an awesome kid!  And I am so glad I get to be your mom!

Happy sixth birthday, buddy! 


There and Back

In the course of just over a week, we’ve already been to Reno and back.  And in that time, not only was it warm enough to get a tan while sitting outdoors at tea with a friend, but it also dumped over 6 inches of powdery snow just days later.  Reno.  And if those weren’t enough extreme weather experiences in a short amount of time, we also came home to tornado sirens going off at the airport as we deplaned.  The tornado threat was serious enough that all but one TSA security officer was evacuated from the security checkpoint to shelter during the tornado warning.

Crazy times.

I already miss Reno.  The mountains.  The air.  Bully’s chicken strips.  And, of course, the people. 

Although short and condensed, we made the most of our time in Reno, spending most of it with my family and finding time to see just a few of our friends.  I love watching my boys continue to develop relationships in Reno even though we live so far away. 

While there, my mom was able to photograph so many candid moments.  She is definitely my favorite photographer.  She has a gift for capturing the beauty of life in everyday moments.  So, I couldn’t help but post a handful of her pictures here (you can check out her business by clicking here…her rates are reasonable and her photos are priceless!).


A Quiet Blog

Life has been full the past few months.  Full of good things.  Full of reflection and possibilities and questions.  Full of everyday life with three little boys.  All of the sudden, I found myself being a little more quiet with my writing, taking some space to be fully in the full life I have.  The blog here has been a bit quiet the last couple weeks, and I have a feeling it will be fairly quiet for the weeks to come. 

So many thoughts pass through my heart and mind that I would love to share with you here, but for the time being I am not writing to the speed that my heart is feeling and my life is moving. As time allows and as God prompts, I’d love to share more, but for today, I just thought a brief update would suffice.

Earlier this year, we were seriously considering moving to Cyprus to do training and retreats for relief workers who are working directly with Syrian refugees (so much more to this story than what will fit here).  We were on the cusp of saying yes, but in the end felt a leading to step away from that possibility.  We are still keeping our hearts engaged with the Syrian refugee crisis, hoping to continue to find ways to actively support those doing vital aid work.  I so want everyone I know to continue to stay aware of and engaged in this crisis…because it is still a crisis (click here for practical ways to be involved). 

At the end of January, I had the opportunity to lead a unique retreat that may have been one of the most profound experiences of my life.  The retreat marked the beginning of a dream that I believe is from God and that I hope to see play out over the coming years. 

Val continues to be presented with opportunity after opportunity to talk with others about Jesus and living life in the Spirit.  It’s really amazing to see Him prepare and pray over each of these opportunities, never just handing out a “packaged” teaching, but connecting with God over each specific meeting, session, talk, or teaching. 

Life with three boys is delightful and crazy.  Constant movement and noise.  And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Silas (our toddler) is determined to keep up with the rest of us…he drags chairs of all sizes all over the house so that he can reach whatever we can reach: the counter, the light switch, toys…everything…turn around and there’s Silas with a chair!  Elijah is learning to read.  This is especially amazing because reading is the hardest thing for me to teach.  So every bit of reading progress is equally an accomplishment for each of us!  And Solomon.  I love that kid.  His imagination is taking on new dimensions all the time, his storytelling is full of descriptive words and feelings.  These three guys are some of my greatest treasures!

Val and I are currently in a season of processing life, wanting to be good stewards of our time, gifts, and finances.  As I step back to process life and possibilities and what comes next, the blog will probably be quiet for a while.   I have lots to write and thoughts to share, but for the immediate next few weeks I will be directing my energies more toward processing in life.

To close, if you haven’t read Love Does by Bob Goff, can I just [strongly] suggest that you go grab a copy and start reading it today?  A dear friend lent it to me and it has been like fresh air to my soul.  So good.  (Click here to find it.)  


The Best of Tulsa

From coffee to pho to bowling, I’ve been exploring our city for some time now.  This is an informal guide to some of the “bests” Tulsa has to offer.  If you click on the name of each business, you’ll be taken directly to their website.  Not one of these places has solicited my opinion, I just genuinely love each of the places I’ve listed below.  I’ve also categorized certain places with the following distinctions:

Kid Tested and Approved
Date Night Spot
Awesome Atmosphere

Get out there and have some fun!  Tulsa has more to offer than meets the eye! 

Coffee Shops

To taste the best coffee in town, head over to Chimera.  It really doesn’t matter which style of coffee you choose, it’s all the best.  Be prepared for downtown meter-style parking.  Spending an hour here drinking the best coffee in town will be well worth the potential parking challenges. 

Chai LatteShades of Brown, Awesome Atmosphere
I wrote almost my whole book while sitting at Shades of Brown sipping chia lattes (by far the best in town!).  Shades of Brown is the best place in town for finding a quiet spot to write or to just sit and connect with the heart of a good friend. 

Bar/Coffee ShopHodges Bend, Date Night Spot & Awesome Atmosphere
If you are looking for something a little more classy than your neighborhood coffee shop, but not too classy that you feel out of place, Hodges Bend is the place for you.  Take your laptop there to work during the day, or meet up with your love in the evening for a more romantic feel. 


PhoTrang Le, Kid Tested and Approved
No joke, we eat here every single week.  Trang Le has the best pho in the entire city.  I know because I am pretty sure we’ve tried every single Vietnamese restaurant in town.  Don’t wait another moment.  Go to Trang Le tonight and fill your belly with the best pho in town.  Plus, the staff is amazing!  Our kids even love going here! 

QuesoEl Guapo
I could live off of El Guapo’s queso.  The rest of their food is good, too, but seriously, if you only eat their queso (with a little sirloin added in), you’ll be as happy as if you just went on vacation.  If the weather is nice, check out their open-air rooftop floor. 

Food TruckLone Wolf
You can’t live in Tulsa and not eat from Lone Wolf’s food truck at least once.  While it may seem odd at the onset (they specialize in French-Vietnamese fusion foods), their food is incredible.  Start with the Kimchi Fries and a Bahn Mi.  Then the next time you go start to customize these dishes by figuring out which add-ons you like. 

BurgerFat Guy’s Burger Bar, Kid Tested and Approved
Fat Guy’s Burger Bar has the best burgers I’ve ever tasted.  Not just in Tulsa.  Ever.  Anywhere.  If you haven’t eaten here yet, make plans to go soon.  There is a large outdoor area with picnic tables, which allows us to let our boys run free after they eat, allowing us to take our time enjoying our burgers.  Great place to take the entire family. 

Feel The RustyCrane, Date Night Spot & Awesome Atmosphere
If you just want to feel like life is good, grab some friends or your husband (or both!) and head over to the Rusty Crane.  The music there makes me feel like I am in the happiest parts of my college days, enjoying life, feeling free and hopeful.

Personal PizzaTop That! Pizza, Kid Tested and Approved
I love this place.  When I want our family to have a fun, happy experience, I often think of Top That! Pizza as a place that will make that happen.  Everyone gets their own personal pizza with as many toppings as they want (the kids’ pizzas are only $4.99 and that includes the pizza, drink, and a cookie!).  This is a favorite for our entire family!


Bed and BreakfastCedar Rock Inn, Awesome Atmosphere
The Cedar Rock Inn outdoes every other bed and breakfast I’ve ever stayed at.  The Inn has more of a lodge feel than the awkward feeling some bed and breakfasts possess.  Cedar Rock’s breakfasts are truly gourmet. Each room is beautiful and unique.  It’s the perfect setting for a romantic getaway or for a girls’ weekend.

Wine BarVintage 1740, Date Night Spot & Awesome Atmosphere
Another great spot to sit with your love or to gather a group of friends, Vintage 1740 is an excellent setting for a night out.  You can either order a glass of your favorite wine or try a variety of wines with their “tasting” options. 

Vintage BowlingDust Bowl, Date Night & Kid Tested and Approved

If you just want to have some fun, head over to Dust Bowl for a few games of bowling.   The lanes are only $12/hour and you keep your own score, making it a perfect place to take the kids for an introduction to bowling without the pressure of a screen driven game.  We love this place.  They also serve good ol’ bowling alley food, so it’s a great spot for a fun date night.