Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Recap

Well, the third trimester got the best of me, and I stopped blogging. Gonna fill in with some month-end recaps so that I don't lose these memories...

In December:

Josh and I took and early and abbreviated 10th anniversary trip to Estes Park. Our long-time plan had been to escape for a week on the beach sometime in the spring (our actual anniversary is January 3, 2014), but this impending baby changed those plans.

We decided to take a shorter, closer trip before I got miserably large, so we booked two nights at the Della Terra Mountain Chateau in Estes Park at the beginning of December. Unfortunately, I was pretty uncomfortable already, but it was a nice getaway nonetheless. (Except for the wind. The wind was insane!)

The trip included yummy food, no schedule to follow, our first ever couples' massage, and a lot of relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

When we got to the Della Terra, we were greeted by these guys. 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lorien's First Concert

This fall, Lorien has been singing in the kids' choir at church and loving it! She loves music and she loves being with her friends there. Here she is in her first concert:



The God of Angel Armies

We sang this song at Camp this past summer, and lately, we've been listening to it at home and in the car. The kids love it, and Josh and I do too.

Whom Shall I Fear?


(Chris Tomlin) 

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light

Whom shall I fear? 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Visit from Uncle Doug

My brother Doug teaches elementary music at the American Embassy School in Dehli, India. Once per year, he attends a professional conference in the States. This year it was in Denver, so we got to hang out with him for a day between his flight and the beginning of the conference!

Here's my "I got him!" shot that I sent to everyone (from 5 Guys Burgers... mmmmmm......) on the way home from the airport: 


The next day, we ate lunch at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, where my youngest brother Steve works, and enjoyed the beautiful fall day.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Blue #2


It's a BOY!

We got to take a peek at our little guy on Sept. 16. That was just a day short of 19 weeks gestation, and a little early for the fetal anatomy scan. Let me back up a little bit and explain why...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Josiah: Two Year Portraits

At two, Josiah is joyful, constantly on the go, a morning person, a real lover and a real fighter. (His sister rarely appreciates the latter. At least he is almost always ready with an apology, which usually goes, "I'm sorry. I forgive you." :)) 

We're so thankful for him. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

We've Had Better Weeks Than This One

Well, we had exactly one day's reprieve between Josiah finishing his antibiotics for his ear infection and  Lorien coming down with a fever and head cold ... again. We are on day 42 of family illness, I think. This time we all four got it, and during a week when Josh worked two consecutive 16-hour days in Denver. Not cool for him, or for me, solo-parenting.

Also, that learning curve I mentioned with the new job? Trying to get my first big project to print with a nasty head cold is kicking my butt. 

And to top it off: 

I got my first ever black eye, courtesy of Josiah, who got a little too enthusiastic about "handing" me a hardback book to read to him yesterday. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

My New Assignment

I had to publish the last post, in part, to explain why it has taken me so dang long to publish this post.

It's not that I didn't have any news about a new job. It's just that life kind of got overwhelming. Plus, to be honest, I was dealing with some emotional stuff about the end of my old job that was different from what I expected, so I just didn't know what to write for a while.

But please, let me tell you the story, because it's a good one. 

Eventful

Aside from a few newsy or funny kid things, I've been pretty quiet for the last month. That's because 1) I'm pregnant and currently prefer napping to blogging; and 2) we have been busy!

Here's what's happened/what's been accomplished since our little surprise announcement last month...

  • Defrosted the deep freeze and cleaned both freezers and the fridge. 
  • Lorien got pneumonia which, we discovered, takes 2 weeks to fully recover from. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bizan-yuck

A few Josiah-isms from recent weeks:

Bizan-yuck = lasagna. I tried not to be offended by the final syllable.

Ho-kay and Hairplane. Love the extra "h" on words that start with vowels

Eff-i-lint = elephant

Blib = Bib. Not that he prefers to wear one very much.

Also, at the risk of being inappropriate, I sat Josiah on his changing table after his bath and walked out of the room for a minute. (Don't worry—he can safely climb down by himself.) When I returned, I found him examining his undiapered self in awe.

"It has a sprinkler!" he announced.

Yep. The whole wall and changing table had been hosed.

This baby...

  • Makes my left eyelid twitch. Pregnancy is so weird. 
  • Wants fizzy drinks and SALT
  • Gives me acne. 
  • Is not making my legs and feet cramp as much as my other 2 pregnancies did. (Yay!)
  • Moved so that I could feel it at 17 weeks. As compared to Lorien's 19 weeks and Josiah's 15 weeks. Those markers have turned out to be very representative of their personalities: Josiah is on the move all the time and Lorien doesn't do anything fast. I wonder if this one will fall somewhere in the middle. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lorien: Four Years Old!

I'm trying to make it a tradition to take Lorien's birthday photos in the wild Colorado sunflowers every year, since they're usually at their peak in the month following her birthday. (Except for last year, when there weren't many sunflowers, so we went for our favorite park instead.) 

Here's our big four-year-old girl!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Surprise!

If you had told me six months ago—heck, even three months ago—that I'd be making this announcement, I'd have called you crazy. But it's true, we're adding a fifth member to our family! 

Since I know you're thinking it: yes, this was as much a surprise to us as it is to you. Yes, we do know how this happens. 

Now that we're done being shocked, we're excited. (But can I please just have you re-read this post and insert "positive pregnancy test" on June 12, right in the middle of the Black Forest Fire? Ummmm, yeah....)

Baby Keffer #3 is due February 12-ish. Here are Lorien and Josiah showing off our new little one: 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer 2013 Graduation

What a jarring transition. Eighteen hours after returning from camp, I found myself sitting at graduation for my 33rd and final Institute class. I'm not gonna lie: I cried all day. 

I didn't really cry for this class. There's always a measure of joy in sending out a new class of students to go where God sends them and do what he asks them to do. There was a special joy in sending out this class because of the way they shared their lives with us and they way they stewarded their (collectively) very difficult stories. 

Family Camp

A first for our family this summer was attending Family Camp at Sonrise Mountain Ranch in Cimmaron, Colorado. It's waaaayyy the heck up this long valley. Seriously, we lost our cell phone service an hour before we got there. No phone. No internet. A whole week to truly unplug.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lorien's 4th Birthday

Lorien turned four on July 19th. That day we spent the evening in Denver with FLI students and friends—hurt ourselves eating at the Cheesecake Factory and watched the Cubs beat the Rockies at Coors Field. It was a fun last outing with Institute students. 

Later in the weekend, we celebrated with a family birthday party: burgers, barbeque chicken, salmon, sweet corn, cheesy potatoes and—oh my!—this cake



Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Rains Have Returned


The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, 
to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. 
Deuteronomy 28:12

There's always been something about rain for me.

Growing up on the farm, I learned early that the crops—and therefore the paychecks—were dependent on the Lord opening the sky and watering the earth. I remember sitting on the front porch of the big cement block farmhouse, my dad in his big chaise lounge lawn chair and me in my small one, covered in a green blanket, breathing in the damp, fragrant air and enjoying the thunder concert.

Friday, June 28, 2013

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

Or maybe...

What do I want to be next month? That is the pressing question.

With my current role ending, it hit me that I haven't looked for a job in fourteen years. Back then I was a new college graduate with a degree in English and a teaching license. Ever since, the jobs have found me.

But as I begin to seek the next opportunity, I realize the experience I've gained in the interim is wide and varied and doesn't point directly to me doing one specific thing in this season.

Can I tell you what I love to do, and what I have done? Then you can tell me if you have (or know of) a team that could use someone like me.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gonna Miss this Place

Last Friday, I found out that my job at the Focus Leadership Institute will be ending on August 2. By the time I cross that finish line, I'll have invested 11 years and one day there. Eleven years. That's a big chunk of my 36-year-old self.

I'm thankful that I got some hints that this was coming. Because of that, I got to process a lot of the nasty emotions about a month or six weeks ago. When the news actually came, it wasn't as messy as I expected it to be.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Just to Keep Things Straight...

Thursday, June 6: Josh and my brother Steve leave Ohio in a Penske truck to move Steve's stuff to Colorado. They stop in Greenville, Illinois, to see Grandma Keffer, who is in the hospital with pneumonia.

Friday, June 7: Mom drives the kids and me to the airport at 6 a.m. Dad Keffer picks us up in Denver at 10 a.m., brings us home and I go straight to work.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Crash-a-boom-yah

More kid phraseology: 

Crash-a-boom-yah: Lorien's word for anything that makes a noisy impact

STAM UP, MOMMY: Josiah's newest, meaning he wants me to stand up. But somehow it always makes me feel like he's swearing at me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Demova Joy Keffer

Back in January, we were surprised and glad to hear that Josh's Grandma Keffer would be making a visit to Colorado at age 93. When, two days into the trip, she ended up in the hospital with congestive heart failure, I wondered if that might be the beginning of the end. (Not to be crass—I just know that's what often happens with illness in old age.)

As it turns out, that was what happened. Grandma never regained the ground that she lost in January and she continued to battle compounding illness. She passed away late on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. She was the last of Josh's and my eight grandparents, and her death is a different kind of sad because it closes a chapter and a generation for our family.

Here's her obituary, which remembers many details of her life.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

On the Farm

We made our annual summer pilgrimmage to Ohio aiming, in one trip, to celebrate cousin Beth's wedding and see Doug and fam upon their return from India for the summer. We succeeded, sort of. Note to self: cramming in a visit while jetlag is still in full force may not be the best of ideas. Especially when jetlagged 18-month-old twins are involved.

In short: I took not one photo at Beth's wedding. But it was beautiful. And she was more than beautiful. 

Thanks to my SIL Mandi, however, I have shots from the reception. The kids thought the dance floor was the coolest place they had ever been. They danced for over an hour without stopping.

Kids on the Dance Floor


Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend In Estes Park

A high school classmate of mine recently said, "Traveling with a two-year-old might be a trip, but it is not a vacation."

How true we've found these words over the past 3+ years, when vacationing basically means helping the kids do all the same things you help them do at home, only in a different environment and without the benefits of your own space and your own stuff. I don't mean to gripe. I'm just saying that it's hard to really get away with small children. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Never Covered With Shame

I am now officially allowed to write what I think about Brené Brown's book Daring Greatly. A few weeks back, I broke one of my own sacred rules and commented on it when I hadn't fully read it yet. Don't you just hate it when people do that? Yeah, me too. 

But now I have read it. Cover to cover. Even the appendix about her research methodology. It is as good as I said it was. (Whew!) It connected the dots on so many puzzling, hard, painful relational experiences I've had. And it is soooooo hopeful.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Darndest Things

From the kids, recently...

What Color is Grandpa?


Lorien (touching my nose): I like your nose.
Me: I got it from Grandpa
Lorien: ??
Me: Sometimes we look like our mommies and daddies, and my nose looks like Grandpa.
Lorien: You're not the same color as him.
Me: Oh?
Lorien: Well, you're very bright.
Me: And what color is Grandpa?
Lorien: He's dark pink.

She's not wrong.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Thankful...

For these precious little people who made me a mommy. 
For Sunday lunch to share with family

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes



I'm not complaining, because every day of snow means less chance of wildfires this summer, but seriously?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Good day, Sunshine!

We're loving being outdoors this week! Here's a conversation we just had in the backyard: 

Lorien: Do you feel that breeze?

Me: Yes. 

Lorien: It's gonna try to blow you away. But if it blows you away, Daddy will help us get you back.

Thank goodness for Daddy.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kicking Shame in the Teeth

A few weeks ago, I discovered Brené Brown and liked her so much I posted her TED talk. I have since ordered her book, Daring Greatly, and I'm reading it faster than I've read anything in a while. I know I've got some things to write in response, but I was trying really hard to wait until I'd actually finished the book.

Except today I was angry in church.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Plus (Five)


I thought it might be good to actually finish my Lenten series. Yes, I know Lent ended two weeks ago. That's kind of how my life goes these days.

I'm posting this today because I just finished reading through the New Testament. I was reading on a 40-day plan, which would have fit nicely in the Lenten season, but life happened. The most impossible potty training endeavor in the history of the world happened. Another round of teeth for the toddler happened. Broken down vehicles happened. A new water bubble on the basement ceiling happened. You know...

So it took me 68 days to finish the New Testament. And I am so glad I did. Here are a few thoughts about the whole scope of the experience:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Have Just Discovered...


...Brené Brown.

And I like her.



Thanks to Ashley Boyer and Kelly Flanagan for being introductions number one and two to this sharp lady!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Life after Death


When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Every year on the Sunday after Easter, our church celebrates Life After Death Sunday.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Making an Example of Myself


It's been 4 days since I posted Against My Better Judgment, and once again, conversation in the comments both on the blog and on my Facebook has prompted a follow-up post. 

Douglas, Megandy, and timbarjenbruch all posted related arguments about my last point—the idea that we don't really know what social consequences same sex marriage will have, so Christians (and others who oppose it) are justified in raising concerns that it could turn out badly.

Basically, they caught me red-handed, doing exactly what my post was urging against. I spent considerable time building a case that when we're feeling vulnerable and defensive, we tend to offer arguments that are just a little bit removed from the real issue that concerns us. And that's exactly what I did.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Vain


Easter thoughts:

My mindset this weekend very much followed the arc of the Easter story. Friday and Saturday were heavy with the weight of the dark things in this world. And weird, scary stuff happened too, such as Josh getting into an icy highway accident while towing two Jeeps back from Moab, Utah, in our pickup. (Thankfully, it was a very low speed accident, and he's fine, though the truck is not fine yet.)

I was hungry for a real taste of Easter today, and I got one.

Friday, March 29, 2013

How I Read the Bible


Yesterday, I opened a can of worms

Of course it's dangerous to post something like that and ask for comments, because you never know what people are going to say and who is going to take it personally. For the most part, I decided I'm just going to let the conversation run, because I want people to feel free to say what they really think. This is all about trying to listen well and understand each other better. I will step in if I think that people aren't listening well or aren't trying to take the perspective of those they disagree with. And I might ask some questions if I personally need to hear more to understand well. 

And then there was one question that was so good, it needed a whole post unto itself:

Against My Better Judgment


I've spent the past week thinking that social media is not the place to discuss the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM) because it perpetuates one of my biggest pet peeves: civil discourse being reduced to two opposing sides lobbing soundbites (or red equal signs, as the case may be) at each other, without actually having any productive discussion.

I appreciated one friend who used her Facebook status to encourage folks to talk about these important issues face-to-face instead. That was going to be my sole approach, except tonight I've got some things weighing on my mind so heavily that I feel compelled to post them. Compelled, but nervous. Hence the title.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Got Busted

Our poor dishwasher door really takes a beating. From the time Josiah could crawl, he wanted to be up on top of it. And lately, Lorien has been following his lead.

It's not unusual for me to say, "We don't sit (or stand) on the dishwasher door" a dozen times while loading or unloading. Usually it's directed at Destructo Boy and involves physically removing him from  his perch. Tonight, though, it was directed at Lorien and I raised my voice a bit.

She lost it. (Like her mama, my girl is stubborn, but tender, and sometimes she really crumbles at a reprimand.) Even after I hugged her and apologized, she couldn't pull it back together. And then she spent the next 15 minutes asking, "What did you tell me not to do?" I quickly figured out that she was referring to something that had happened earlier this evening, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember what it was she was talking about. Let's just say we were really getting on each others' nerves.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Plus (Four)

Everything Falls Apart


Well, my Lenten observation crashed and burned in the past 10 days. I'm still trying to figure out exactly why. You know those weeks when life seems to be on top of you, instead of the other way around? I had one of those. And then I had another. 

Lack of sleep. Stress at work. Conflicts to resolve. Teething and viruses while adjusting to daylight savings time. (Have mercy.) Laundry piling up. I'm not sure why I can sometimes navigate those things and sometimes I can't. But this time I couldn't.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Our own little Band of Brothers


It's been several years since we've done this, but Josh and I are making another run through Band of Brothers.  Amazing filmmaking.

Tonight, about halfway through "Bastogne," we heard Lorien singing upstairs. I went up to put her back to bed, and here was our conversation: 

Lorien: What are you doing?

Me: Watching a movie.

Lorien: What are you watching?

Me: It's called Band of Brothers. It's a movie about the Army, because Daddy was in the Army. The Army's job is to protect us. That's why Daddy is so good at protecting us. 


Plus (Three)

Head and Heart


A brief Lenten thought about how the Scripture is revealing me to myself:

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Clifton StrengthsFinder (both excellent tools we use with our FLI students) heartily agree upon this: I am prone to getting stuck inside my own head.

I think. A lot.

I used to suffer from "analysis paralysis," because I would think myself into a corner and then not be able to do anything. That's not really a problem any more (thank goodness!), but one thing I do still struggle with is the emotional aspect of my faith. I have a hard time feeling God's love for me. (Even though I know and believe that God loves me.)


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Plus (Two)

What Does the Text Say?


Hey there. Another Lenten check-in here. 

I've been in the Pauline Epistles this week as a part of my read-Scripture-in-big-chunks discipline. Specifically, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, in that order. 

This time, a couple of thoughts about the content, in no particular order: 

The gospel has been frustrating legalists for thousands of years. 


Corinthians impressed that on me. First Corinthians, especially, is like hearing just one side of a phone conversation. You know there are specific things that the believers in Corinth are riled up about, and you can sort of tell what those things are by the way Paul responds. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Plus (One)

Making it up as I go along


Lent, day 11. I thought I'd check in and let you know how it's going. Instead of choosing a discipline of giving something up, I chose a discipline of addition. The addition of a lot of Scripture, that is. 

It has ended up looking different from what I envisioned. I had initially said at least three chapters of the gospels every day. I was wrong about the chapters, the books and the days. But that's OK. Because the experience has turned out to be amazing and just what I was hungering for.

Warms a Bookworm's Heart...


Lorien has long been a book lover, and just this past week, Josiah has become really enthusiastic about books too. He doesn't really want to finish any books. He just wants to start a whole bunch of them in a row, several times a day.

To a mommy who used to get in trouble for reading when she wasn't supposed to, this seems like a really good thing.

video




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Plus



It took me a while this year to decide how I would observe Lent. I've been so inspired by friends and former students who found very meaningful ways to focus on the things of the Kingdom last year.

Here's my dilemma: There's been a lot of "cutting out" in my life lately. In this season of small children at home and a need for high, high productivity at work, I have cut fluff and then cut more fluff and then cut more fluff. And in the process, I've cut some things that are not fluff. So it's not the things I'm doing that are keeping me from God right now; it's the things I'm not doing.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Recap

We finally did it! I have been saying probably since we got married that our January 3 anniversary would make a great occasion for an overnight or weekend getaway to recover from the holidays and start the new year. Thanks to our friends the Abels watching our kids for the weekend, we actually did it this year, in celebration of our ninth anniversary.

Just 24 hours away felt like a chance for my soul to breathe deeply and soak in the sunshine. We used an Amazon Local deal to get dinner at the beautiful Briarhurst. We got a last-minute booking discount at a local B&B. We slept late, enjoyed breakfast, took a walk (it was a beautiful day for January), saw Les Miserables, which I absolutely loved, and finished with coffee and good conversation before heading to pick up the kids. Here's to many more getaways like that!


Crescent Lily Inn, downtown Colorado Springs
Boy did the second week of January turn out differently than we expected. A visit from Josh's Uncle Richard and Grandma Keffer turned into an ambulance ride and three-week inpatient stay for Grandma. At times, even her survival wasn't a given.

We're thankful that things turned out OK and that we got to spend some time with her on what will likely be her last visit to Colorado. My favorite part about visiting with grandparents is hearing their stories. For example, we learned this time around that Grandma and Grandpa Keffer drove to Colorado Springs on their honeymoon many moons ago and drove up Pikes Peak. Who knew?

Josiah is not interested in being photographed, but you can see
Grandma's joy at having these munchkins visit her in the rehab facility. 
Finally, we welcomed the 52nd class of the Focus Leadership Institute. I am so happy to say that my brother Steve is part of it. We're so excited to have him here.

And yes, there is a moose in this photo.

Stolen from Howie Fischer. (The photo, not the moose.)