Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy First Day of Fall

In honor of the first day of fall, several pictures from one of my favorite fall adventures at one of the prettiest places in our state.  We have been traveling to Wilson's for apples since Mila was a plump little babe and it absolutely stirs up all the emotions every year we travel back.  I will never forget that first impromptu trip at dusk one fall Friday night.  It was beautiful outside, the golden hour was giving us that perfect light, and I felt like we were in the pages of a storybook.  We picked apples, but mostly watched our kids eat theirs, because there is just something adorable about a little kid in their own little world munching on an apple bigger than their hand.  Or in Mila's case that year, bigger than her head!  I wrote this about Wilson's three years ago:


And now...

I had no idea that my unrestful spirit would lead me to one of the most simple, beautiful nights of my recent life.  For just a couple hours, we had driven right into a storybook.  We looked out over one of the most peaceful landscapes I had yet to see in our state, rolling green hills lined with hundreds and hundreds of apple trees.  There was a steel guitar playing in the background, the smell of grilled burgers and freshly baked apple turnovers in the air, young couples walking hand in hand carrying wooden baskets full of plump Jonagolds, and little families plopped in the middle of a pumpkin patch, sharing picnic food and taking pictures.  I felt the fresh fall air fill my lungs and thanked God for giving me a night to dance in a slice of this earthly heaven.

This year, we replaced the magical golden hour for a sunny Sunday afternoon.  We picked sweet Song of September apples on a far row of trees at the very end of the orchard.  We celebrated our loot with cider donuts and apple slushies and hot turnovers ala mode before heading home, detouring through North Liberty to love on Rob and Jill and their sweet baby, Olivia.  We played at the park and had dinner at Red's, fittingly sipping on apple cider beers.  

Looking back at our first visit to Wilson's, I couldn't believe how much the trees had grown.  Just like the kids!  But as the years go by and the kids and trees grow like weeds, I sure hope this place remains a favorite for our fall season.  It's a chance to live in a storybook for an afternoon, to simply be together in a pretty place, and be still enough to watch how their faces scrunch up when they bite into an apple.

It wouldn't be an adventure without a little Cruz photography. :)  Why is it that the pictures he takes are always my favorite?!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

This is 33.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked for us."
Hebrews 12:1

I woke up smiling on the morning of my 33rd birthday.  It didn't take long to realize that a birthday on a Sunday morning is right up my alley.  I made a cup of coffee, got ready for church, listened to Bethel Live in the bathroom, and bounced between smiles and tears as I praised God for the past year, a year of blessings, stirrings, and drawing closer to what it means to follow Him.  I woke up and felt like a daughter of His kingdom, with an overwhelming peace with who He made me to be, just as I am, called to lean more into His truth in a new year to come. 


Life can be such a chase, can't it?  A chase to achieve more, to acquire the next best thing, have the most friends, the prettiest things, or the busiest social calendar.  I've spent so many years in this chase.  But it took 33 years to realize that God didn't make me a runner, at least not in this race.  I woke up on my birthday feeling weightless, free, and blessed by a good God.  And I don't want to chase anything but that.

My birthday weekend was one of my most special birthdays.  I didn't celebrate with a lot of friends, or in a big elaborate way, but instead sleeping under the stars in Decorah and gathering on a picnic blanket after churchGod has wired me for the slow, for a few meaningful relationships over a bunch of surface ones, and on a search for the beautiful details and stories and truths in His word, in His creation, and in the faces of others.  And the more I seek to know Him, the more He marvels me with His plan.  But at the same time, the more I dig in, the more I realize there is work to be done.  And that He needs me, just as He made me, to help do this kingdom work.  I want to lean in to this truth, that I am just enough, and that God has a lot of story to write for me.  This is 33. 

I spent most of my birthday thinking about that deep joy I woke up with.  And then a day or two later, I read these words in my book:

"A merry heart has little to do with personality or gifts of hospitality or trying to conjure up a certain feeling.  In fact, a merry heart is not an external practice but rather an internal joy.  A woman who knows Christ's finished work on the cross cannot help but be a joyful and free person.  She sees that she is loved by God and that nothing can separate her from that love.  She is secure in his approval, safe to reveal herself to God and allow his work in her heart.  Because of this, the snare of craving approval and validation from others is loosed, and she discovers that she can approach others without weighty, idolatrous expectations but rather with love and service and delight.  God satisfies the longings of the heart, making life a beautiful gift to enjoy." (Christine Hoover).  

This is the joy I woke up with on the first day of my 33rd year.  A joy that comes from being part of something so much greater than myself.  Every day is a beautiful gift, an opportunity to live richly in God's promise to us, and to run freely the race He has marked for us.


Thanks for these sweet pictures, Kate.  Getting to spend my birthday with you was icing on the cake.  I love you so much!

And we can't forget pictures from CruzI love these pictures of Beau and I even more picturing that little boy behind the lens.


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