“Where are you going on vacation?”

Me: “Oh, we’re going ‘up north’!

<blank stare>

It’s not until I moved to another state that I realized that nobody else really understands where “up north” is. From where I currently sit, “up north” could mean anything from Fort Wayne to somewhere in Canada. But to anyone born and bred in Michigan, the phrase “up north” is clear as day.

Up North is exactly where we got to go this summer. We stayed in my parent’s scenic cottage in the Upper Peninsula, visited the Soo, swam in freezing Lake Huron (okay, so maybe I didn’t do that), and spent a day biking around Mackinac. We boated, used the four wheelers, and ate pasties. We had a fantastic time!

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At the cottage:

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7-31-15 Skipping Stones

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At the beach:

8-1-15 Beach 1546   8-1-15 Beach 1573

Hiking the Narnia Trail at Cedar Campus:

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Taking selfies in the woods:

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Jumping off stuff:

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Mackinac Island:

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We had an absolutely fantastic time!

It’s the first week of school at our house! We have loved our fun-filled summer, but it really was time to start up again.

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This year Jonathan is in 7th grade and is attending a “cottage school” where he takes 3 classes (Language Arts, World Studies and Science) at a school 2 days a week and does the rest at home. He enjoyed his first day.

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Thomas is in 5th grade and is as silly as ever.

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Zachary is in 1st grade and ready to hit the books.

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Big brother thought he needed a bit of help with a “silly face.”

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For some reason, helping Zachary with his silly face has been a favorite pastime for Thomas. Flashback to when Zachary was a month old. Big brother was happy to help out then too:

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1-30-09 Zach Smiling 0437

Off we go! I’m ready to hang on for the ride.

“Spring Break”- those are two beautiful words, don’t you think?

We had the privilege of traveling down to Florida again this year to visit Brian’s dad and step-mom in Venice, which is just south of Sarasota (Siesta Key, Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island, etc.). We had a great time! We decided to skip the theme park scene this year and just enjoyed the beaches, the weather and few outings.

We spent the most time at Manasota Beach. We hunted for shark teeth (which seem to be deposited in mysteriously high quantities on Venice’s shores), built sand castles, swam, sunned, and generally enjoyed being in the sunshine. We also caught a drum circle which is an eccentric sort of event complete with belly dancers and hula hoopers.

This child LOVES the ocean. He loves the sand, the waves, the animals, the atmosphere. He loves everything about it. I have a hunch that he always will.

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Brave grandpa swimming with Thomas and Zachary.

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Jonathan, though he loves to swim, preferred the shore.

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Selfie at sunset.

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Brian and I had the privilege of worshiping at Harvest Tampa Bay where Brian preached and we were able to visit with friends.

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On our way home we decided to try our hand at kayaking.

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Before we had kids, Brian and I took a vacation to Anna Maria Island and visited Mote Aquarium while we were there. We thought we would take the kids back for a visit.

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On the way home we stopped for orange ice cream at Nokomis Orange Grove. Yum. We had it last year and have been talking about it ever since. It didn’t disappoint.

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Thomas, who loves and appreciates food about as much as Zachary loves the beach (and Jonathan loves Legos) found a new favorite restaurant: Pops. All other restaurants will now have to measure up to the standard set by Pops.

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What a blessing it was to get away, enjoy some sunshine and take a break together as a family!

Confession: I have been extremely negligent in posting pictures from Brian’s trip to India in November. I have also been negligent in scrapbooking those same photos. 

 In my defense, it is kind of challenging to accurately represent a trip that I didn’t take. This week, I finally decided to tackle that project and lo and behold, it didn’t turn out to be that difficult. He took amazing pictures and his descriptions of his experiences there were very thorough. In fact, even though I wasn’t there, I kind of feel like I was!  

Without further ado, here are my scrapbook pages of Brian’s trip to India. You’ll notice that these pages represent a brief overview of what he did in India. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to sufficiently relay the amazing blessing Brian experienced in India. His heart for the people grew in ways he didn’t think possible. He loved going on this trip. It stretched, challenged, blessed, encouraged and grew him. It was a tremendous privilege.

India- the team web  India- ministry web India- mountain beauty webIndia- jaipur web





I love taking the boys to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Each trip is full of discoveries.


Becoming “living sculptures.”



Discovering a record player and roasting marshmallows.



Experimenting with rubbings and paper hats.



Checking out African masks.


It was a super fun day!

“To read or not to read? Now that’s a silly question.”

Here are some of my favorites from this year:


The Mitford and Father Tim books by Jan Karon

I love these books. All of them. They make me smile and laugh and pray for imaginary characters. Visiting Mitford is a dream of mine- alas if it only existed on an actual map!

overcoming fear

Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick

After several night lying awake with random worries running through my head I picked up this book. Elyse is one of my favorite authors and God used her ability to explain the Word to greatly minister to my anxious heart.

good earth

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

This book was another recommended resource for my trip to China. It helped me understand rural China in a newer and richer way. The Good Earth is superbly written and gives great insight and clarity into the time and culture.

one summer

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a nonfiction book that reads like a novel, captivating the reader and drawing her into a different time. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Henry Ford and Jack Dempsey are all star characters.


Isaiah: God Saves Sinners by Raymond Ortlund

It has a super boring and academic looking cover, but don’t judge! This book helped me see the book of Isaiah through the lens of the gospel. It is rich, deep, challenging, and extremely gospel centered. A quote (I had a hard time picking just one):

If you are in Christ, whatever God is doing in your life right now is not an experiment that he might abandon if he gets fed up with you. You need to know that God would have to stop being God before he’d quit on you. And why is God devoted to you? It’s not because you risk looking like a failure. You already do. So do I. It’s because God will never let his purpose fail. The defeat of grace to sinners would be the defeat of God.

redeeming love

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Redeeming Love is a retelling of the Biblical Hosea story set in the gold rush days. It is a powerful story of grace, forgiveness and redemption. It will stick with me for a long time.


Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton

I loved this book. It’s funny, entertaining, and well written. It’s a quick read, and well worth your time. Edgerton has a way of putting you right into the mind of his characters- quirks and all.

because he loves

Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Absolutely one of my favorites of all time. Learning afresh about Christ’s love and the affect the gospel has on my everyday life has completely transformed me. I am privileged to be able to lead a group of ladies through a study of this book and feel so blessed to pass on these same life-changing truths to others.

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