God has us on a journey. One of adventure. Of learning. Of battles. Of love. Growth is this journey realized. So here is our story.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coming home...

So after 10 days away, I couldn't wait to unload the car and head out to watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs. Oh my goodness, it did not disappoint! The beauty of the sky, the warmth of the air, and the intoxicating smell of salt water swept me up into overwhelming gratitude for our home in San Diego. It was the perfect homecoming.


Get ready for a long post of storytelling! We just got back from 10 days up at my parents' house in the Central Valley celebrating Christmas. It felt like we didn't do anything but relax, but now that I've compiled our pictures I see that we--especially Soren--had an eventful trip! Besides laying around, drinking coffee, and chatting with family by the fire, this is what the rest of our trip looked like...We took walks almost daily around my dad's vineyard and experienced some incredible Valley sunsets.My dad took Bran and Soren to John Deere and Soren got his first toy tractor (with many more to come, I'm sure). What a treat for my dad who never had a son!Soren got re-acquainted with his Uncle Scotty and Aunty Dani and just laughed and laughed.Bran and I took advantage of free babysitting and enjoyed a getaway in Shaver Lake where we snowboarded, relaxed at a B & B, and woke up to fresh snow in the morning! We know Mamae loved being with Soren at least as much as we loved the break.Soren had his first Christmas! It was a bit overwhelming for him, but we sure loved watching him get all kinds of "big kid" toys like a golf set, a basketball hoop, and an "autographed" Chargers football.And surrounded by all of his new toys Soren had the most fun playing in an empty basket!Soren made friends with Cooper (Scotty's nephew) who is just 2 weeks older than him. It was hilarious to watch the two meet by staring at each other and grabbing each other's faces! It made me wish Soren had a friend his age close by.And one of my highlights is getting to see all of my extended family at Christmas. Of course Soren had fun charming them as well!We so enjoyed just soaking up quality time with my sisters, brothers-in-law and parents. That is what makes Christmas for me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A romance in the making?

It all started in late 2008 when my dear friend Sonya and I got pregnant a few months apart. I was due in April and she in July. I was painting my nursery blue and she was collecting adorable girl clothes.
First came Soren Gabriel...and then Quinn Michele.They began by just playing next to each other.Then Soren started reaching for Quinn's hand.Then Quinn started liking it. And now they're just buds.Our families are loving the match so far....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Postpartum identity crisis

A few weeks ago I had an interesting encounter with a stranger that has left an indelible impression on me. I was shopping with Soren in my favorite store Anthropologie and a young woman began googling over how cute Soren was (this happens quite often, as you might imagine:-). She ended the interaction by saying, "What I really want is a little boy like yours, but since I can't have that I'm just gonna buy another pair of jeans to make myself feel better." I looked at this beautiful, thin, young, stylish woman in disbelief. She needed something to make her feel better about herself? I had what she wanted? And so the universal cliche hit home to me in a powerful new way--people, love, relationships are what really matter in this life.
You could say that I've entered into a postpartum identity crisis recently. I've cut my hair (bangs--yikes!), bought leggings (another yikes), and attempted another diet, all as a fight against becoming what I am: a mom. I guess being a mom must be something old, boring and fat in my mind because I seem to be deathly afraid of giving in to this new identity. Or perhaps this is just a new stage of life which means a new place for my lifelong insecurities to wreak havoc on me. Whatever the reason for this crisis, what I do know is that I am struggling once again to find freedom, peace and grace in my own skin. So I keep coming back to the valuable message this stranger in Anthropologie taught me: becoming a mother has brought me the most precious and eternal gift--my son.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So thankful...

...for new life this year. As we went around the dinner table today with family and friends to share what we were thankful for, it was only too easy and obvious for me to choose my son. But really, I can't even begin to express how overwhelmed I am with love and gratitude for my dear Soren Gabriel. Every day I look at him with awe and just can't get over the miracle that this little person, unique and all his own, came from Brandon and me. Our love for each other gave birth to a new person that will have his own place in this world. He will have hobbies, talents, friends, adventures, and--I struggle to say it--a wife someday. God has entrusted to Brandon and me the enormous and incredible gift of raising and loving this new life into adulthood. Wow. Thank you God. May we honor you with your most tremendous gift to us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our little Super-Charger

In honor of our San Diego Chargers--who have been on a big upswing recently--I decided I had to share some pictures of our little super-Charger. Soren proudly wears his Chargers onesie every Sunday and cracks up when I sing their old theme song "San Diego Super Chargers". He also got a kick out of the football we introduced to him a few Sundays ago! No pressure to be a football player, right?:-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My life according to Switchfoot

To say music is powerful is an understatement.This last Sunday Brandon and I saw our favorite band Switchfoot in concert. It was truly a powerful experience. I think because they are a local band they gave their San Diego fans the treat of hearing their brand-new album played back-to-back in its entirety. And then they proceeded to play one song from each of their other albums. As we journeyed through their musical history I was hit by how each album represented an important stage in my life. Switchfoot is the one musical entity that has unknowingly journeyed with me throughout my entire adult life, bringing gifts of hope, motivation, humility, and insight. In a way, they have helped me understand my story. So just as my life story can be seen through my favorite books, so can pieces of it be seen through Switchfoot songs. Here's a look at our journey...

Chem 6A (from The Legend of Chin): a class I actually took at UCSD freshman year!

"I don't know what love is
And I don't know who I am
And if I ever wanna find out
I'll watch the movie
Cuz it's not me
I'm just like everybody else my age"

Only Hope (from New Way to be Human): the soundtrack to pictures of my life on our wedding video

"Sing to me the song of the stars
Of your galaxy dancing and laughing and laughing again
When it feels like my dreams are so far
Sing to me of the plans that you have for me over again

And I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray-
to be only yours
I pray to be only yours
I know now your my only hope"

The Economy of Mercy (from Learning to Breathe): this spoke to my brokenness while living in Virginia

"In the economy of mercy
I am a poor and begging man
In the currency of grace
Is where my song begins
In the colors of Your goodness
In the scars that mark Your skin
In the currency of grace
Is where my song begins"

On Fire (from The Beautiful Letdown): what I clung to the summer I was engaged and working my first nursing job

"And I'm on fire when You're near me
I'm on fire when You speak
I'm on fire burning at these mysteries

I'm standing on the edge of me,
I'm standing on the edge of everything I've ever been
And I've been standing at the edge of me, standing
At the edge"

The Shadow Proves the Sunshine (from Nothing is Sound): again, meeting me in my Virginia brokenness

"Sunshine, won't you be my mother
Sunshine, come and help me sing
My heart is darker than these oceans
My heart is frozen underneath

We are crooked souls trying to stay up straight,
Dry eyes in the pouring rain well
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine"

Faust, Midas, and Myself (from Oh! Gravity.): a provocative song that gave me motivation to pick up the pieces after the darkness had passed and we were back in California (I just had to include the whole song...)

"This one’s about a dream
I had last night
How an old man tracked me home
And stepped inside
Put his foot inside the door
And gave a crooked smile
Something in his eyes
Something in his laugh
Something in his voice
That made my skin crawl off

Said I’ve seen you here before
I know your name
How you could have your pick
Of pretty things
You could have it all
Everything at once
Everything you’ve seen
Everything you’ll need
Everything you’ve ever had in fantasies

You have one life
You have one life

One life left to lead
You have one life
You have one life

One life left to lead

I woke up from my dream
As a golden man
The Girl I’ve never seen
With Golden skin
I jump up to my feet
She asked me what was wrong
I began to scream
I don’t think this is me
Is this just a dream?
Or really happening, happening

You have one life
You have one life
One life left to lead

You have one life
You have one life
One life left to lead

What direction
What direction
I’m spinning up
I’m spinning up
This is my personal disaffection

What direction
What Direction
What Direction now

I looked outside the glass
At golden shores
Golden ships and masts
With golden cords
As my reflection passed
I hated what I saw
The Golden eyes were dead
A thought passed through my head
A heart that is made of gold can’t really beat at all

I wanted to wake up again
I wanted to wake up again
Without a touch of gold
Without a touch of gold

What direction
What direction
What direction
What direction
Life begins at the intersection
What direction
What direction
What direction
What direction

I woke up as before
But the gold was gone
My wife was at the door
With a night robe on
My heart beat once or twice
And life flooded my veins
Everything had changed
My lungs had found their voice
And what was once routine
Was now the perfect joy

You have one life
You have one life
One life left to lead

You have one life
You have one life
One life left to lead"

Still waiting to find a favorite on their new album Hello Hurricane...

Does anyone else have music that tells their stories?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What I really love

People always ask me, "So do you just love motherhood?" And I always respond with a sure "yes" and accompanying smile. But then I always feel ingenuine and walk away puzzled by my inner ambiguity. I do love motherhood, right? Well recently, after one of these exact conversations with someone, it hit me what the problem was. I do love motherhood, but that's not really how I think of my life. I am happy and fulfilled because I love my son, not the lifestyle that he brings. I can't get over how crazy, madly, and deeply I am in love with my little Soren. I know, people always say that you will experience a love for your child that you've never experienced before. Words just can't wrap around this kind of love. I mean, I am so stinkin' excited to spend each and every day with my little guy. It doesn't matter how tired and sleepy I am in the early morning--when Brandon brings Soren in with a big smile on his face my whole world lights up. I go crazy over his giggle, his chubby hands, his smooth belly, his amazing-smelling head...oh, and his light-up-the-room smile. There is nothing like that smile. I really feel like I'm in love and can't get enough of my son. It's just so much more than I ever expected. So more than motherhood, what I really love is that I get to have this incredible boy named Soren in my life.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Virginia retreat

After all the chaos of the last few weeks, we finally got some sweet relief. We got to visit our dear friends in Virginia!! It was a short but restful weekend in charming Charlottesville that left us feeling encouraged and restored. Soren got to meet and enjoy so many of our favorite people--Tim, Jenn, Kevin, Tim W., Chris, Sarah, and Tuula--which was so fun for Brandon and I to watch. And we even got to experience the beginnings of fall in the East with red leaves and cool rain. But most importantly, we got to just be ourselves and curl up with good friends. That's the kind of retreat I could use more often.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Life under construction

Life has been hard lately. Really hard. Our house is under complete construction and so Soren and I have been forced to live like gypsies for the last week and a half, bouncing around from house to house. Thank God for generous friends who have opened their homes to us--Tim & Tracy, Kevin & Sonya, Bruce & Mary, Mike & Aurora. Friends are family to us down here as we have chosen to live away from our families. But even with the generosity and great times playing with friends, it's been hard. Our house is pretty much piled under plastic tarps and covered in dirt. We have to be out by 8am every morning so the work crews can get going. And then it's the challenge of making sure Soren can get some decent naps wherever we are for the day. He is just so amazing. I don't think I ever fully realize just how mellow and adaptable he really is. I'm the one who's struggling. Hopefully it will all be over in another week. I swear I will never take our precious house for granted again! And, really, I can't complain. The airport authority is putting in new windows, central heating and air, and updated electrical work for free!! We are so, so blessed.And Soren's gotten to play with lots of friends...Quinn, Pele (the dog), Uncle Andrew & Tante Janneke, Zeke, and Banning & Roddick.He also let off some serious steam after our rough week!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Law, My Law

Well I (Brandon) finally decided to contribute to the family blog. So I have been learning some things lately about how as soon as I experience God or anything of His realm in my life I immediately try to define that experience and hem it in so I can replicate it at any time. What I am realizing is that this is taking God right out of it and inserting myself in His place. So here is a poem I wrote about that idea.

The Law, My Law

Lord, oh Lord how I love to be with Thee,

Treasure these times oh Lord I do.

As I bask and sit in your presence I could forever be,

To be with you oh Lord, all I want is you.

This is how it should always be I think,

With you, next to you, connected at last.

I’ve found it Lord! The secret, the missing link!

Finally, I’ve got it! What a fool I was in the past!

Now that I am here let me record the events,

Let me write down this way, never to forget.

I will make a map recording each turn, every way I went,

The Law is recorded, the path is clear, success a sure bet.

This experience is too high, too far from my understanding,

This moment too shaky, unpredictable, uncertain at best.

I want it always, I want it now, I want it right from where I am standing

So I pull and I tug and gaze over the crest.

I follow my map and tug as hard as I can,

I can see it there it is now in my sight.

I almost got it, it’s working ahh yes my plan!

As I hold it and touch it, it seems so light.

What happened to the weight it once had?

The color seems dull, imperfect at best.

As I inspect it I see, this is not what made me glad,

It’s hollow and empty, just like all the rest.

I open up my treasure and I am surprised about what’s inside

First I find my map, not treasure at all.

A map that leads to its maker is no treasure to hide,

This trail of sure success only lead me to fall.

Finally I discover the real contents of my loot,

Is this what I longed for? What I worked so hard to obtain?

The answer is No! I’ve taken the wrong route,

There I am sitting inside. Me in all my glory and pride so vain!

In my attempts to find God I miss him completely,

It’s because I try to hem Him in, in this cold world of the Law.

I try to bring Him to me, not realizing my strength is depleted,

My maps, rules, guidelines, securities are just fear, fear is my Law.

If I can just stay with Him, with His Spirit that is,

I can float on his tide, bask in his rays, be rocked by his waves,

be crushed by his storms but all in all I can be suspended by His Love.

The dynamics of this relationship can never be defined.

As soon as we do the love turns in.

As soon as it is by our own strength we only hold ourselves.

We can only relate with God when we live in his world of the constantly changing,

ever powerful, journey of love.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soren's new sound

Soren's got a new sound--or scream--these days and it's just hilarious. Okay, we probably get a way bigger kick out of it than anyone else will, but we hope he brings a smile to your face!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Remembering what "church" is for

Tonight I remembered why we have joined such an unconventional church. I have been having my doubts recently--and I guess they're always in the back of my mind--about what our church group is, why we started what we did, what direction we're headed in, and why I continue to go. This last week I heard something about a big, popular church in San Diego that offers a block of free childcare so that moms can cater to themselves once a week. I couldn't help but be a little envious of a program like that. And we left another big church in San Diego a year or so ago that was filled with mostly people just like us--young, middle-class, churched professionals. It seemed so easy to build social networks there. I've been thinking a lot about the things I miss out on by not attending a traditional, larger church...instant social circles with people like me (at least on the surface), moms groups, inspiring communal worship with a professional band, fun all-church activities, and the ease to come and go as I please. Programs, luxuries, and comfort. That's what church is supposed to be about, right? Hmmm...
Let me describe the church we are now a part of. We meet in a coffee shop in Ocean Beach, our local hippie beach town. We have an hour of eating sandwiches, drinking coffee, and just chatting with each other while the shop is still open. Then the shop closes up and we form a circle. Most of the time there are not more than 15 of us. We sing, accompanied by a single guitar, we read Bible verses, and we share our praises and concerns. Oftentimes our sharing takes up most of the hour. Then one of the several ordained ministers in our group shares a short and informal sermon. We share in the Eucharist together and then it's done. It's really as simple as that.
Tonight I looked around our circle and was amazed to see the diversity among us. All different ages and various walks of life were represented tonight. But wonderful as it is, diversity creates discomfort. As does an intimate setting and the lack of a formal structure. And yet we all push forward through the awkward moments and uncertainties and then something beautiful emerges. We see into each other's hearts and we experience God together. We don't get goosebumps because of a rockin' worship song, we don't get absolute answers from the pastor's sermon, we don't get Sunday lunch plans from shaking hands with our neighbor. We simply experience the power and presence of God by communing together as children of God. I remember now what I believe Jesus intended the body of Christ to be. And I am so, so thankful to feel that maybe, just maybe, our little group in OB is experiencing "church" as He intended it to be.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Real food for Soren!

A few weeks ago Soren just stopped sleeping through the night. As any mom who treasures her sleep would do, I immediately started reading up on why he could be doing this! My theory was that maybe he was not getting enough nutrition (although his rolls behind his knees tell a different story) and so I decided to start feeding him solid food. The first night we gave him rice cereal for dinner he slept through the night again! Soren has taken to food quite well (we're not surprised), and it's hilarious to watch!

The night before we started solids, Soren started hinting to us he was ready by grabbing Daddy's fork and trying to eat off his plate!

Fat and happy with rice cereal...

...and we've added peas too!