Monday, June 29, 2015


"Blessed are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times." Psalm 106:3


Justice. It's on my mind. The idea of Justice - what is it? how does it look? What does it mean to live justly with a Biblical view? How does one reconcile the tension between love and justice? These may all seem like ridiculous no-brainer questions. But for me, these questions were and are serious. They're ones I've thought about frequently.

Around January 2014, after reading a certain book, this dialogue regarding justice started to take form - an internal searching dialogue as well as one with a friend. The book, while I did not like it (overall), it did put the dialogue into motion. For me, I needed to hear a balance between the talk regarding justice and the clear talk regarding responsibility and obedience to God's commands. I wasn't hearing that balance. Not hearing the balance was troublesome, for me. I did not have a good grasp on what it practically and actually means to live justice.

Since January 2014, God has used the book to propel conversation, and since November 2014 the idea of putting justice into action (to live justly) gradually became more important to me. During May, I read a fabulous book, Overrated by Eugene Cho, that gave me the balance I was needing - the balance of justice along with the responsibility and obedience to God. Prior to reading Overrated, the opportunity to attend The Justice Conference in Chicago landed on my doorstep. I took the opportunity. I didn't expect much from the Conference except to hopefully gain a better handle on love and Justice - how to live life justly. I wasn't looking to become an activist. I was longing to understand the Biblical view of justice and how it practically looks. I was nervous about attending. I was glad I read Overrated because it put me at ease about what it means to live pursue justice. The book put me at ease about attending the conference.

The above is the backdrop to my experience of The Justice Conference. The following is the experience.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8

On the morning of June 5, 2015 - I posted the following to my Instagram and Facebook accounts.....

"Totally excited to see how God is going to grow me and teach me through this Justice conference and the Refugee Justice activism track this weekend."

I had no idea how much God would use the Justice conference to teach and grow me!


The two day conference was packed with the refugee activism track, powerful and interesting speakers, awesome worship music and fellowship. While I didn't agree with all the approaches or discussions, I was impacted in some way or another by every conversation, experience, speaker, and topic as well as by the music. I know that God was in our presence and His hand was guiding our time. I know that even in disagreement that we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. And He is our driving force to live do justice.

The Bible doesn’t say, "Seek justice, love mercy and … seek justice." It’s "walk humbly." We must remain humble. -Eugene Cho



Amena Brown (top left) did an awesome job MCing the conference. The conference's worship team (middle and bottom left) did a fabulous job leading our worship music. Crowder and Rend Collective were simply fantastic to hear (top and bottom right) and worship with their songs to God.

"When you're a follower of Jesus, you don't ask for permission to be a force for good. That's your calling. That's what you're here to do." -Dr. Cornel West

Before the start of the conference, I did not know much about Cornel West. I was not that interested in his session. Of all the speakers, if given the chance, I would have skipped his session. I am glad I was not given the chance. While I still do not know much about Cornel West, I do know that he made a huge impact upon me. There is so much about the words he spoke that I appreciate. He spoke with intensity, passion for Jesus, justice, love and balance. His words pierced.

"Tenderness is what justice looks like in private. It’s about how we treat each other interpersonally." -Dr. Cornel West

Cornel West was the conference's opening speaker on Friday night. Crowder was our night's music. Amazing stuff.


The Justice Conference Film Festival was part of the weekend, we did not purchase tickets for the festival. But, we were lucky enough to snag free tickets to the premiere of Captive. It was a pretty darn good movie. Not as deep as I would have hoped, but it was powerful enough that I think it will encourage conversations regarding several topics of justice. I hope the movie does well when it is released this coming September. (the photos above feature my Friday conference buddies - Jody and Becky. And the food, Chick-fil-A was my diet for the weekend)

Saturday was a crazy packed day. By the time the day ended, I was very exhausted, in a good way.


The four speakers in the photo above were my Saturday highlights.

"Justice matters because justice must be apart of our worship of God." "everybody loves justice until there’s a cost." - Eugene Cho (top left)

"We will be known for our opinions but we will be remembered for our love." and he also said something like...I don't want to block anyone's view of Jesus. -Bob Goff (top right)

"Learn to let your ears carry the weight of the conversation." He also said that there are virtues we need to nurture - bravery, humility, empathy, diversity. He explained what is involved in these virtues. - Jonathan Meritt (bottom right)

Christ made peace with me when he died on the cross. I am at peace with Christ so I now can be a peacemaker. - Louie Giglio (bottom left)

The quotes by those four men were just tips of the iceberg for their sessions. There is so much more I took away. Almost overwhelming. Definitely convicting.

"Perhaps it's not enough to have a good heart in the right place. Perhaps you actually need to do something." - Neichelle Guidry

"If you’re going to live in the Kingdom of God, you need to give up your addiction to convenience and comfort." - Neichelle Guidry

The closing speaker for the conference was Neichelle Guidry. This was my first exposure to this gifted speaker. God has given her a powerful ability to preach and to preach with conviction and passion. I was impressed. More importantly, even though I had a few qualms with her sermon, she convicted me in several ways.


God used the Justice conference to teach and grow me in big and subtle ways. Its hard to quantify; I don't think I can. It's not huge external results that others can see, not yet anyway. Rather, it's internally in my mind, heart and soul where I know growth has happened and knowledge has been gained.

I don't see myself as an activist. I don't see myself becoming involved in activist type organizations. But if I did, helping refugees is something that spoke to my heart. While refugees speak to my heart, I am thinking that maybe God has been shaping me for an advocacy role of some sort that would help those with special needs, disabilities and their families. Ultimately though, I don't have to be apart of an organization, or doing something "big" in order to do justice. This justice stuff starts at home, it starts with me, it starts with me being right with life following Him. It starts with me loving others, and being available and open to a life of interruptions. It starts with having conversations, the right conversations in the right place at the right time. It starts with me seeking to understand instead of seeking to be understood. It starts with listening. It starts with seeing my neighbor.

"Justice always has to be rooted deeper than itself." - Dr. Cornel West

"We need to live justly everyday and in the mundane." - Eugene Cho

"But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." -Amos 5:24

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The JUSTICE Conference 2015 Highlights from The JUSTICE CONFERENCE on Vimeo.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Journal to Myself.....the moment


June 26, 2015

The LORD has been speaking to me in so many ways especially over the last many months. Often, I don't realize His voice until it stuns me with an "oh wow" moment. In those moments, there is always a lesson, a truth that I needed to hear.

Last night I had an "oh wow" moment.

I soaked it in.

It was a simple moment, but yet for me it was a truth I needed to embrace once again. I didn't even realize I needed to embrace it again until that moment.

During Bible study we flipped to Romans 11:33-36 and there it was...I soaked it in. In the margin of this passage, I wrote the following...

8/29/14 - This is HUGE to me! To praise God! Who am I? Yet God sustains me. He is my source. How mighty He is!

...God sustains me.

I kept reading my written words as I stared at the passage. I kept reading, "For from him and through him and to him are all things."

God sustains me.

I also kept looking at the date; the memories of the last 10 months flooded my thoughts. Memories of pain, hurt, deception, sadness, struggles, worries, exhaustion, decisions, truth, love, joy, security, peace, happiness -- all of it. I reflected on those months since August 29, 2014.

A lot has changed and yet has not changed.

I tried to reflect with honesty and not with distortion. I fessed up to my failures; staying honest with myself as best as I can with what understanding I currently have.

All of that rushed in at me when my eyes rested on the Bible passage and my written words.

In those several minutes of thought, I felt overwhelmed.

I praised God for the strength, courage, guidance, discipline and love He has given me.


I know this all my sound very melodramatic, but really, last night, when that "oh wow" moment hit me as my eyes took in Romans 11:33-36 along with my words in the margin, I felt God's presence and His assurance and Him voicing "I will sustain you through all the peaks and valleys of life. See, I have sustained you through the years -- look at your last 10 months and that I have sustained you." No...I didn't audibly hear God speak. And no, those weren't the exact words but it was the essence, a powerful essence.

Last night's Bible study lesson was about salvation assurance, but for me that wasn't the lesson. The lesson was the assurance that God sustains me. He sustains me in all the good of life and also in all the pain, hurt and sorrow of life.

This is very huge to me --- I am to be absolutely dependent upon God.

For everything I give praise and thanks to the LORD my Father.

The other lesson; God does not owe me anything.

"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" Romans 11:35

The fact that He still gives me grace and mercy among many other things is very powerful to me.

My response to God is and should be to keep listening and seeking Him.

To renew my mind, daily.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

If I am not seeking Him, how can I hear His voice? How then will I be in a relationship with Him where He then can sustain me? Where I will allow Him to sustain me? -if I can be so bold as to use the word allow.

I don't rely on Him as I should. I try to strong arm my way through circumstances and situations. To rely on Him means to give up my pride, my need to control and do things in my own strength. To rely on Him, to be sustained by Him, to be in a relationship with Him means to lead a life in obedience to Him with humility.

It was sobering to me last night when the "oh wow" moment drove home the fact that my prideful-will doesn't take God into account when I continue to operate in life with my own strength. I'm learning, slowly, to not strong arm my way through life.

If I am not giving all of me over to Him then parts of me will think I can manage life in my own strength which also means I will not hear Him.

Not hearing Him is an overwhelming frightening thought to me.

Being sustained by Him no matter life's circumstances is an overwhelming comfort to me -- assurance and peace.

Who am I? God does not owe me anything.

Yet, God sustains me.

I have assurance, comfort and peace.

The LORD has blessed me.

How mighty He is!

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"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" - Romans 11:33-36




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Journal to Myself.....the question


June 25, 2015

Do I need prescription glasses or not? That has been the question for several weeks. That was the question for this morning's eye appointment.

The answer is no.


But, my tired eyes could benefit from the use of reading glasses, so I was told.

Apparently, tired eyes seems to be a highly expected occurrence when you cross over into the second half of your forties. Even with my tired eyes that are having a slightly harder time focusing, I am still accomplishing my goal of not needing to wear prescription glasses. Yes, that's a goal of mine. Why? Well, it's a goal simply because I am the only one of my parents and siblings who does not need to wear glasses. Prideful? Yes. But really, it's just a game for me. A game to see how long I can go. Sort of like how Robert and I play the game of how long can we go before turning the furnace on when it starts to get cold. - November? December?

Anyway, no prescription glasses for me. Not yet.

The husband? He's fifty. We knew he needed glasses and he does; progressive bifocals are in order for him.

He looks quite handsome wearing glasses, I do believe.

He does this look of wearing glasses very well.

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Side note: I learned that having my eyes dilated is one big pain in the butt. I couldn't stand how sensitive they were to the light. But what was worse was how blurry my vision was for hours afterwards. The blurriness created an extreme tiredness in my eyes. Yuck. Oh, by the way, when I do need prescription glasses, I will wear them gladly. My prideful game doesn't run that deep.

Something else, this is the year of medical appointments for me. I am not doing the year of 2015 and the age of 46 all that well. My goal is to change that to doing 46 and beyond in good health - physically and emotionally. I've got many years left, God willing. And I've got an almost 12 year old son who will need me and Robert far beyond the age when children typically reach independence. I can't be living with physical issues when my children - especially Isaiah - need me physically sound.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What's on your nightstand? June 2015


Oh my, where is 2015 going? It's already the end of June? Half the year has skipped right by with the blink of the eye. It hasn't felt like summer yet with all the rain and the mild weather - very few days that has even reached 80 degrees. Well, it's the fourth Tuesday of the month so that means it's time for another What's On Your Nightstand post which is hosted by 5 Minutes For Books.

My June reading life wasn't too shabby at all. I completed four books and may have another one or two completed before the close of this month. I did realize that I could not continue a certain reading plan. My intentions were good, but my execution started to go south so I admitted that I failed, and I am good with that admission.

For May, I completed:


Overrated by Eugene Cho

This book made a positive impact on me. I started reading it with trepidation, and I came out of the book with thankfulness for the author's insightfulness, balance, and perspective. He helped to put to rest some of my justice misgivings. He spoke my language, and added to its depth.


If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

I always enjoy Ahern's storytelling ability, she has a gift with words. This was a solidly good book; entertaining and plausible even amongst the implausibility. And the implausibility was what I liked most about this added a realness to the reality of the characters' lives.

I Am Currently Reading:


Conversation Peace by Mary A. Kassian

I'm not too far into this book (or the study - I've just started week two), but what I've read/studied, I like...I'm gaining perspective.


Christy by Catherine Marshall

Why oh why did I wait until this last Saturday to start this book? I know why, I thought it would be boring. I loved the TV show, but the book didn't appeal to me near as much. Let me tell you, my preconceived notion that this book would be boring was very far from truth. I'm currently on page 120 and I've not yet been bored once.

Potential books for July:

Love Does by Bob Goff

I heard him speak at the Justice conference; he insipired me so I now want to read this book. This will be a read along with my friend, Jody. And, maybe, a read aloud with the husband and family????


The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles, book 1) by Dorothy Dunnett

I have not heard of this author or book until I stumbled across it on a blog post that highlights various of writers and the books they read - On My Shelf: Life and books with Kathy Keller


Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Michael Rydelnik

I want to gain more insight and understanding on this topic. I respect Michael Rydelnik, his radio program is always informative.


The Giver by Lois Lowry

I've been meaning to read this book for years. I think it's about time I see what this book is all about.


The Eternity Key by Bree Despain

I read The Shadow Prince and enjoyed that story. The Eternity Key is the second book in the trilogy...I hope I enjoy it.


Glittering Images by Susan Howatch

I meant to start this book during June, but I didn't get to it. I really hope July proves to be the month for reading Glittering Images. (I didn't start this book because the library copy was an old copy that smelled slightly musty. I need a different copy of the book. Sorry, but musty smelling books ruin a reading experience for me. How about you?)


The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

So,I'm waiting on the 15-year old daughter to give me the go ahead to start reading this book. We plan to have this as our read along book, so I need to wait until she is ready to dig in.

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Want to see what others are reading? Check out the link up at 5 Minutes for Books.








Sunday, June 21, 2015



This past Thursday, my dad had bypass heart surgery. He was fortunate. The blocked arteries were caught before he had an infarction - a heart attack which would have caused muscle damage to his heart.

We were fortunate.

I spent all of last Thursday with my mom as we waited through my dad's procedure and while we waited to see him in ICU and while we waited to see him awake which didn't happen until many hours after the procedure.

I am not a stranger to medical jargon, to the hospital setting, to policies and procedures. I am no stranger to monitors, sounds, tubes and wires.

I am a stranger to seeing my dad hooked up to tubes and wires and incisions and an ICU room and all that encompasses that. When I first saw dad in the ICU room, I was overwhelmed. I didn't expect my eyes to fill with tears and fear run through my veins. I was overwhelmed. I knew he was fine. I knew he would feel better after all of this was said and done. I knew he was fine. I understood the environment. Yet, tears and fears were apart of me for a minute or so before I shook myself out of that moment. My mom, I don't know how she was feeling but I bet she was shook-up. I hope I was of some help to her just by being present.


Over the last few days, I've been reflecting on my relationship with my dad. It dawned on me, my dad is the reason why I have never doubted that God loves me....that He would not purposefully bring pain, hurt, and sorrow to me. Because of my dad, I understand God's love for me even when I have not lived rightly. And I understand why God never abandoned me during phases in my life where I was anything but obedient to Him. See, my earthly dad has never made me feel anything but loved by him. He is not a perfect man by any means. I can testify to that and some of my behaviors/responses are a carryover of his. But, even with his faults, my dad has always been there for me.


He has engaged in my life.

When I was younger he played softball with me in our backyard - time and time again. He took me to practices and games. He took me sledding. When I was a little kid he would take me to my brothers' Boy Scout camp and there were times I would wait for him to come home from work (he worked 2nd shift) so that I could watch tv with him. I don't know how many times he took me to camp or how often I waited to watch tv late into the night with him, but regardless of the frequency, they are amongst my favorite memories of just me and my dad. As a teenager, He taught me to drive even before I had my permit. He didn't rule with iron fist in regards to teenage curfews and such. He put faith and trust in me.


In my adult years, he has embraced being a grandpa to his grandchildren. Showering them with love in the way he loves -- attention and conversation. He is a hands-on grandpa right from day one with Benjamin and he has continued to be with all of his grandchildren. He has especially given time, attention, patience, compassion, kindness and lots of time to my one boy who needs lots of attention in various ways. My dad has listened to my worries and concerns and patiently has allowed me to express my frustrations and tears over this special boy of mine. My dad has continued to show me and my siblings love by remaining engaged and interested in our lives. He continues to always there for us, no matter what. He has continued to seek conversation with me, even hard conversation that concerned a recent period in my life. We have had many breakfasts out together with him almost always paying. When opportunity has come to bring my children on trips, he gladly takes them. So many experiences in life they have had because of his desire for them to see various locations including Israel.


I could go on and on, but really the ultimate thing here is that my dad loves me, my siblings and his grandchildren. My dad is not demonstrative with his love --- hugs are very few -- but there has never been any doubt of his love. That, I've come to realize, is significantly huge. To have had and continue have a solid and secure relationship with my earthly father has been a gift - a gift that has allowed me to never experience doubt about my heavenly Father's love for me even amongst my disobedience, pain, hurt and sorrow. And, as matter of fact, that secure knowledge of God's love for me has given me comfort through life's trials. I pray that I never forget God's faithfulness to those who love Him.


As for my dad, he is currently seventy-three years old, and this bypass surgery has made it even clearer to me that our years together are fewer. I do not think of my dad as old, but his chronological age proves he is up there in age. And the truth is, I don't have near enough time left with him...maybe another 10-20 years, and that's not much relatively speaking. I cannot imagine my world without him actively in it. The thought saddens me. I am choosing to not think too deeply on that, but to focus on the goodness of him as my dad.

I am forever and a day thankful for him. I am thankful for his love. I am thankful because of my dad that I have not ever doubted my heavenly Father's love.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Journal to Myself.....Failed


June 19, 2015

Earlier this week I fessed up to myself that I was failing. I failed.

But, I only failed on paper, because really I have not failed at all. Actually, I have won. I won because I realized that what I was starting to do was not part of my original intent. What I was doing was actually the failure.

On May 3rd I started my third adventure with reading my Bible in 90 Days. The first two times through was incredible, enlightening,and immeasurably nourished my soul. This time, around Day 36, I started to recognize that my mind, heart, and soul was looking at reading the Bible as part of a check off list. I read, and I read daily, but I was also reading to "get it done". I wasn't reading to absorb and take in God's Word. I was reading with my teeth grinding together. It didn't start off that way, but by Day 36 it was that way.

Earlier this week, after a few days of not reading my Bible within the 90 Day structure, I admitted to myself that I have failed with this plan this time around. But I also admitted to myself that it is absolutely ok to say I am stopping. Matter of fact, it is more of a win to stop than to continue forging through the plan with negativity that was starting to sink in...the negativity of just trying to get it done, check that day of the list.

I am in God's Word daily with Bible studies as well with my natural gravitation towards various chapters depending on my life that day. So it was not like reading my Bible in 90 Days was my only avenue for renewing my mind. But, my mind has been chaotic throughout this year of 2015, and resting it in 10-14 chapters per day proved too much, for now, for this season of my life. Especially since my mind, heart and soul has been needing the Lord's Word in so many different areas of Scripture on any given day. (Does that make sense?)


Throughout this week, while thinking about this, I have decided that I will continue reading through my Bible but in a different manner. I am going to pick and choose the books I want to read in any given month. For instance, I have completed Nehemiah (love that book), and now would like to read Job or John or another book during July. My hope is that by end of the year I will have read the entire Bible or close to it, or not. Reading my Bible from fr not to back in a given time frame is not the important part. The important part is the actual reading of it consistently, and daily.

My ultimate goal is and always was to read each book of the Bible with a passion and desire to seek Him in His Word.

I want to come away from each reading with delight in the Lord.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Journal to Myself.....circumstances


"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Last night my brothers were discussing how exhausting this boy can be and they only spend a couple hours with him at a time. He has a constant-ness about him, all day long. The constant-ness is both physical and verbal; displayed at the same time but also one at a time. The verbal is mentally exhausting due to interpreting his words, and his thoughts along with the perseveration of thought/idea that occurs (especially when his words are not clear, which remains frequent but improved). The physical is exhausting for obvious reasons. Then add to the unpredictability; it is getting better as he matures but it still remains. Now combine all that with sleep issues. Sometimes it's hard for him to settle down at night, but most often,over the last many months, he wakes in the wee hours rearing to go. We are not rearing to go which makes for a difficult combination of us and him.

Through raising him, I am finding there are so many things to be thankful for and that joy is present even when it's difficult. The thankfulness comes in various degrees and in degrees that we may not have noticed if it were not for his presence in our lives.

Currently, it is 7:30 AM, I am very thankful that he has fallen back to sleep after waking up around 3.

It's a gift. It's the small things that add up.

It's the small things that can go a long his smile.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9


Grace Darcy is now nine years old, today.

Nine years ago, she decided to make her entrance into this world in a hurriedly fashion - at 38 weeks vs the planned 39 weeks. Her due date was June 6, 2006...yeah, we planned an induction. We very much wanted to avoid a birth date of 6-6-06. She planned a birth date of 5-31-06 and it's a date that I find pleasing.

Nine years and nine months ago, I was not too keen about the idea of having a sixth child. At that time, we were just learning that our fifth was going to need far more attention than typically needed. But you know what, our plans and ideas are inferior to those plans of God's. I am thankful that God's plans supersedes ours.

Grace is full of spunk, creativity, humor - a personality that lights up a room. Her sweet nature, and enthusiasm livens up our world. She exhibits patience, kindness, understanding, compassion and friendship towards her brother, Isaiah. (Ummm...she does get a bit peeved at him from time to time too, but her relationship with him is a blessing...a gift.) She adores and looks up to her older sisters and oldest brother...this includes the two oldests' significant others.

Grace is truly a sweet and lovely girl. I adore, love, cherish and treasure her.

This sixth child, our baby, is a blessing beyond measure.

We love her very much. We are thankful.

Our prayer for her is to keep her eyes fixed on the Lord - to always love Jesus, and reflect His light to others. We pray that she will always remember that the Lord, our Father, is with her wherever she goes and so she need not ever have fear or be discouraged. We pray for Grace to go forward in life with strength and courage. Amen.

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For kicks - Grace's Favorites:

Animal: Panda Bears and Cows

Books: Magic Tree House series

Movie: Alice in Wonderland (Disney)

TV type Show: Liv and Maddy

Album: Scripture Rock

Color: Blue and Green

Food: Watermelon

Ice Cream: Vanilla

Drink: Iced Green Tea

Sport to play: Baseball and Tennis

Place to Go: the beach

Hobby: Art

School Subject: Art

Activity: playing on iPad, FaceTime with cousins

Thing to do on a Trampoline: Flips

Good Friends: Sarah, Samantha, Kailyn, Dylan, Amy, Jordan, Brianna

We celebrated Grace's birthday on May 29th with family and friends. Grandma made her cake, and as always, it was yummy. A sleepover was in order - she reports that they all had fun. Today, her actual birthday, was her day with just me and her dad. We are thankful to Evie and Ryan for watching Isaiah so that we could take Grace out for her lunch with us. We take each child out by themselves on their siblings, unless they want to invite one or two. Grace chose Cracker Barrel as our lunch destination. And, for whatever reason, she wanted us to give her our present while we were at lunch. We obliged, and she opened her gift in the car. She was very pleased with the plans today. Too bad the weather was not acting like Summer is the air and instead was acting as if Autumn was around the corner.

Happy Birthday, Grace Darcy.

We love you beyond measure.

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