Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday morning coffee date

I thought a little coffee date might be fun on this lovely Monday morning.

Today in Chicago it's crisp and cool. It's one of those big comfy sweater days where you throw your hair in a top knot. Minimal makeup. One of those days you just let yourself be.

If I had you over, I'd make you Metropolis Coffee. That's the good stuff we got as a gift from some sweet friends of ours. As we cozy up with our fresh cups of coffee I'd ask you how you are. It's been a while, so I want to know it all. What have been moments lately worth celebrating? What has been difficult, and how can I walk alongside you?

I would tell you that I've been looking forward to this week for a really long time. On Wednesday I leave for The Influence Conference. I'm so excited to see sweet friends I met last year and to meet blogger friends I've made this past year, but have yet to meet. I'm excited to soak in as much as I can about how I can make God known through this blog. I'm excited to learn more about Jesus and let that seep into my heart. I'm just pumped for it all!

Amidst the obvious excitement, I'd tell you that there is also a little part of my heart that aches knowing that Elston won't be in tow. I was excited to be sharing in the joy with the other pregnant women that will be at the conference. I would have been about seven months pregnant and what I would give to be wobbling my pregnant self around that place with the other wobbling women. I truly do trust in God's plan in all this even though I will never understand it all on this side of heaven.

At this point in the conversation, it would probably be refill time. It's Monday, which means an extra cup of coffee is a must. I would continue to tell you what a blessing it has been to have our sweet friend Kanani live with us this past month. She inspires us both and has a soul as sweet as the warm sunshine on a cool day. That's what she is, a ray of sunshine. She is a young woman who, in her presence, you feel free to just be. You just want to soak her right up because what she adds to this world is so incredibly life-giving. I would tell you, too, that I'm not ready for her to leave at the end of the month.
I know I'll see her, just probably not as much, and she really has become so special to me. I think I'm not ready for her to go because she's been such a breath of fresh air in the midst of one of the hardest seasons of my life and I am just so thankful for her. My sweet, dreadlocked Kanani, I've told you this before, and I'll tell you it again, that you are a gem. You are "far more precious than rubies" (proverbs 31), and you have a special place in the hearts of PK and me. We love you!

{Lovely Kanani. Seriously, even playing kickball she is gorgeous!}

As we conclude our lovely coffee date, I would ask if it would be okay if we prayed together. For the things that are going on in our lives and for the things that weigh heavy on our hearts. We are in this journey together and I see no better way to conclude such a good morning than with prayers of thanks and praise and requests to the God that loves us so.

 Thanks for the sweet lil date, let's meet again soon.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Elston's Song

Mamas out there who have lost a baby, or anyone who has lost someone they love so dear, do you ever have those days where everything is going pretty well and out of the blue, something hits you like a ton of bricks? That reminder {again} that who you lost is not here. That reminder of the piece of your heart you will never get back. It happened to me today. It happens every once in a while, but this time it was different. I was minding my own biz, gettin' my watercolor on and I decided to listen to Ed Sheeran. A girl at the yoga studio where I work out was listening to him yesterday, and I thought, why not check him out? Good background music as I let my creative juices flow. 

{Isn't this kinda fun?! Check out the tutorial here.}

I let his playlist on Spotify go through the whole album, but I couldn't get through the whole album because his song "Small Bump" hit such a deep part of my heart. All I could do was listen to it over and over and let the tears flow. I emailed the song to PK and told him if we ran out of water think I could watercolor with my tears. Haha. Kidding, but not kidding. I turned into a hot mess real quick. 

Listen to it here:

The reason I say that this reminder of Elston was different is because it had an incredible beauty to it. So many of the reminders of him lately have been frustrating, and {in my mind} not fair. Today it felt healing. It was a reminder that I am not alone. Not alone as we dreamed of him and made plans while he was still alive. Not alone in my wondering why he had to leave so soon. This song is so beautifully written and my heart sings it loud to our sweet baby. Halfway hoping he can hear me and feel my love for him but also knowing he is with Jesus experiencing a love so pure. A love this world can't give. 

Here are the lyrics to the song:

You're just a Small Bump unborn, Four months you're brought to life, 
You might be left with my hair, but you'll have your Mother's eyes, 
I'll hold your body in my hands be as gentle as I can, and now your scan on 
My unmade plans, 
Small bump four months then brought to life 

I'll whisper quietly, I'll give you nothing but truth, 
If your not inside me, I'll put my future in you 

Cause you are my one, and only. 
And You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold me tight. 
Oh you are my one, and only. 
You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold me tight. 
And you'll be alright. 

Your just a small bump unknown and you'll grow into your skin. 
With a smile like hers and a dimple beneath your chin. 
Finger nails the size of a half grain of rice. 
And eyelids closed to be soon opened wide a small bump, in Four months 
You'll open your eyes. 

And You can lie with me, with your tiny feet when your half asleep, I'll leave You be. 
Right in front of me for a couple weeks. 
So I can keep you safe. 

Cause you are my one, and only. 
You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold me tight. 
Oh you are my one, and only. 
You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold me tight. 
And you'll be alright. 

Your just a small bump unborn just four months then torn from life. 
Maybe you were needed up there but we're still un-aware as why

I am one wrecked mama missing her baby like crazy, with one grateful heart to God. For giving me this song and for the assurance that He indeed holds our sunshine baby close. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Influence Link-Up


In T-minus two weeks I'm hopping in a car and driving off to Indy to attend The Influence Conference!  To say I am excited is an understatement. I went last year and met the most incredible women. Women with a fierce love for Jesus and making Him known.

Lemme just tell you for a sec what I'm looking forward to:

A. Seeing friends I made last year at the conference and meeting friends in real life for the first time!

B. Sashes Market. Going into the conference last year I didn't realize how beautiful and amazing everything would be in there. So, this year, it's on Sashes Market. Me and you. 

C. Soaking everything up. Learning more about Jesus. Learning more about how I can influence others for Him with this lil' blog. 

I bet you're wondering what I'm going to have packed in my bag too, so I'll go ahead and tell you: 

A. Cash money for the Sashes Market, obvi.

B. Journal and my G2 pens (.38 extra fine point.) I don't leave home without these pens and I don't share them either. I know, so bad. 

C. Underwear. I forgot them last year so thank ya Jesus for a mall attached to the conference center. 

And for all the beautiful women who are linking up, here's a pic so you can hunt me down and then we can grab coffee:

Chambray on chambray that day!! 
Do you see my Better Life Bag over my right shoulder there? 
You're in luck, she's gonna be at the conference. I am in L-O-V-E love with this bag and what Better Life Bags is all about. Go to her site and check her out. Then buy a bag. 
Or, come with me to The Influence Conference and get one there! 

Can't wait to see everyone! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dreams of Elston

One early-ish morning last week my dear friend Cassi called me up. 
We always joke that we are already turning into little old ladies because we call each other earlier and earlier in the mornings as the years pass. I think she even called me before 8am one day but I was up and probably on my second cup of coffee.
 I'm not sure what I was doing when she called, but I wasn't able to answer for some reason. Just a few minutes later she texted me saying that she had an incredible dream about our baby Elston and to not listen to the voicemail she left because she was a blubbering mess trying to explain it to me. I love that she left me a message like that and I love that she is one of those kinds of friends. 

I called her back not too long after and she explained the dream to me. 
I had her write it down so I could remember it. So, here it is:

"I was in a room that was filled with light and there was a little boy sitting at a table with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was about 3 or so. I sat across from him and asked him questions. He wasn't looking at me though. It was like his eyes were filled with the glory of the Lord and he was looking beyond me to something greater. He was at such peace and very calm. He didn't say any words, he would only nod or shake his head. I asked him, "Do you know your Mommy and Daddy miss you a lot?" and he nodded as he continued to look peacefully beyond my eyes to something more important and worthy of his gaze, which I believe was God! It was so powerful and moving. I feel honored that God allowed me to have this dream and recall it. 
I really believe it was God inspired."

My jaw dropped and tears overwhelmed my eyes. 
I don't know too much about dreams and how they work but I really do believe that God does work through them. There are stories upon stories of that kind of stuff and God worked in dreams in the Bible. I feel like I can't deny the fact that He works through 'em. Here's the crazy part, take a look back to the dream I had a few months ago about Elston here.
I don't think this is just some random coincidence. I really believe we had dreams of the same boy and I believe that boy was our sweet sunshine baby. I take these dreams and receive them as gifts from the Lord. No matter how crazy that may sound or how crazy people may think I am for believing it. I feel like it's one of the many ways God has shown His sweet love to me during this season and His way of showing His love to one of the people here on earth that would have loved our boy so well. 

Thank you Lord for these dreams. For the chance to see the baby that made me a mama. It is by your grace that I got to house him for a short while, it is by your grace that He is with you, and it is by your grace that Cassi and I got a glimpse of this sweet boy. My heart aches to see him again. In Heaven. Where we can rejoice together in Your presence.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chipotle Cultivate Festival

Just when I thought I couldn't love Chipotle more, they do somethin' like this and throw a festival. I heard about it on Spotify oddly enough and then PK researched it. That's how it usually works with us.
 I hear about something and say "Hey, this sounds fun, we should go," then, PK gets all the details on it. Plans it out. And we go. Works out quite well, because if it were just up to me, everything would be just some fun idea and we would never really go anywhere. I've got the ideas, he's got the plans. 
Watch out world.

As PK was doing his research, he found out that one of our favorite bands Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. was playing, so we planned our weekend around them. 

Free Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Concert
A Chipotle festival
Best afternoon ever
{and it was!}

Ask me anything now about sustainable farming and hormone free meats. 

Here's the band. They were SO fun and are awesome live. We danced the whole time.
I think the older I get, the less I care about how I dance. 
Once again, watch out world. 

Applegate meats represented at the festival. Learning about all this hormone free, organic meat actually made me want to re-think what we buy. Mission accomplished with your spectacular and convincing propaganda, Applegate and Chipotle. 
Well, look who the cat dragged in? We ran into our friend Marcelo. And Trevor too, but Trevor saw someone else and peaced out. No offense taken, Trevor. 

Teenagers with cool hightops and facepaint represented as well. 
Both PK and I had a freakout moment thinking of our future children high school aged and roaming around Chicago. Lord Jesus, may it not be a fire. 

Graham Elliot made an appearance and gave a cooking demonstration. Here's the crowd. We didn't stay. I was hungry and just saw that Chipotle had Gorditas. #gameover

He even looks good standing in line. 

He surely was cultivating a burritoful world. Here he is making my Gordita. 

PK's favorite station.

Get. In. My. Belly.
Eeeeeeee! I'm in love!

We attained free burrito coupons and consumed our prize the next day. Is there ever such a thing as too much Chipotle? Answer = no. 

And here we are. I'm loving that chevron summer dress behind me! 
Also, do you like my hair's "volume"?! True confessions:
I just got back from hot yoga aaaaaaaand didn't wash it. Only the bangs. 

All this to say...
Three cheers for Chipotle Cultivate Festival! It's definitely on my top five favorite Chicago Summer festivals list. See you again next year?! Oh yeah, and Happy 20th birthday Chipotle! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bed & Breakfast

Just when I thought labor day weekend couldn't get any better after the retreat with my students, PK surprised me with the cherry on top of that weekend sundae! He and our friend Raef had gone to play a manly game of golf on Saturday and planned a little getaway for Sara (Raef's wife) and me.

You sly dogs, you.

So, PK picked me up from DePaul, we re-packed the suitcase and headed to the Copperstone Inn. I think any Bed & Breakfast we go to from here on out will be chump change compared to this place. It.was.amazing.
I know, it was kind of a shack. 


They had their very own beautiful garden.

Our yummy breakfast. We met such great people too! 

Apples on Apples.

The men throwing apples into the pond and probably talking theology or economics.
Thanks for holding my purse PK!

Being all thinky.
Don't mind the dirty ol' feet and ghetto pedi. I was filled with joy, so that's all that counts, right?

Raef & Sara and our favorite bun in the oven. 

Konickis in an orchard. 

Thank you to our husbands for a much needed whisking away.
We respect and admire you like crazy. 
We love you! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back in full swing

This past weekend, some of us Cru staff and some of those amazing Cru student leaders piled in a bunch of cars and headed on over to Peoria, IL. It was a weekend full of catching up, planning for this school year and laughing so much I cried. 
Here's the group. You all are amazing people. I love you so very much! 

Our ol' friend Marcelo gave an awesome talk. Here he is prepping for it on our way there.

                       Marcelo & Katy led some                                      Here's Trevor in his bro tank
                       awesome sets of worship.                                     as we planned our hearts out.

Nothin' says "Central Illinois" like Avanti's. 

These people play a serious game of kickball. So many laughs and smiles. I loved every minute. I decided to be the photographer because I "accidentally" left my sneakers at home. I had such a sweet moment looking out at all of these students at one point. If I were to pick a favorite team that day, I wouldn't be able to because I absolutely love each and every one of them. You all are wonderfully made and loved deeply by the Lord. I am so grateful to Him for allowing me to be a part of how He is using you at DePaul. 

             Kiersten & Kassie caught in the                                                 Yay Team! 
                     cutest candid ever. 
                (Alliteration to the max!)

Emily and Emily. Beautiful lovelies.

Emily, your top knot is amazing. I can't stop swooning over it.

Cru DePaul leaders, you make the world go 'round. Keep pursuing Jesus, keep learning, keep stepping out in faith for His Kingdom. You inspire me like crazy, you accept me even when I fall off of air mattresses while trying to impress you, and you make me want to be more like Him. 
Love you.

A special thanks to Northminster Presbyterian for housing us, feeding us, and loving us.