Friday, July 25, 2014

My little boy...

The past few months have been big ones for our family; our son Caleb especially. He and Brittany have been married just over a month now, he is ready for his third year of college, and he will be starting a new ministry job this weekend. Today is a big event in his life as well; today Caleb moves from those crazy teenage years to his twenties. All my kids are in their twenties and enjoying married life. Suddenly I feel a bit old...a bit sentimental...a whole lot grateful...and abundantly blessed. 

What a joy it is to be a part of this man's life. To be there when he was born, to see him take his first steps, to help him learn to read and do math, to see his love for Jesus grow, to watch him take on any challenge and do it so seriously, to hear him tell us that there was this girl he might like, to watch him fall in love, to see the tender way he loves this woman who is now his wife. Oh this list could go on and on, basically I am counting my blessings today and am extremely proud to be the mother of Caleb John Haynes. 

I love you up to the moon.
You'll always be my little boy!

Happy Birthday Caleb!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Time flies...

"You're moving where?"
"Have you looked at a map?"
"Did you know it gets cold up there?"
"Northern Minnesota...are you crazy?"

Two years ago we announced that we would be moving a bit north. For the most part people just didn't quite know what to think of that one. Yes, we knew where we were moving, we knew that it could get cold and no we weren't crazy(or were we??).

I am pleased to announce that we have indeed survived not just one but two winters up here. Let's just say the cold sure makes you appreciate warmer weather and by warmer weather I mean anything above zero!

Two years ago, Brian and I pulled into the quaint little town of Roseau, MN. We had just said good-bye to one church family and were ready to say hello to a new one. We dove right into life up here, a 100 year celebration at our church, followed by a week of the Roseau County Fair; all the while trying to unpack and begin to feel at home.

We arrived in Roseau in ragged shape. We had not only uprooted our lives, we also had just entered a new phase of life...the empty nest. I was also struggling with some chronic health problems. Despite these things we did arrive here with eager anticipation. God was in this move from the beginning and because of that we knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

Our family has undergone some major changes in the past two years. We went from having one daughter married to all three of our children married. We have also added a granddaughter to the mix! There have been three college graduations to celebrate; two last May and one this May. I had surgery last year which marked the beginning of a positive health swing for me. I am no longer on any medicines! My digestive issues have eased up considerably; so much so that I can now eat food that is actually spicy. Two years ago, walking any distance wore me out; now Brian and I can bike more than 30 miles and enjoy it! I feel better than I have in years.I knew that I hadn't felt well in a long time, but now that I feel good I am amazed at how bad I truly did feel.

There have been some bumps along the way. That first year of the empty nest was hard. Hard because I went from being a homeschool mom to having nobody at home and being new in a community. There were days I would cry and felt so lonely. I knew that year would be hard, I knew I had to walk through the grieving of change. I was trying to figure out what God wanted next for me and for a season I needed that down time for Him to work in me. We also experienced another major loss. We went from the elation of expectancy of a second grandchild to the news that she would be miscarried. Faith's time was short, and we learned how much your arms can ache for someone you've never met. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her.

In the ups and downs and even in the normal days; God is faithful. He has carried us. We truly feel we are right where He wants us to be. We love our church family; in fact we don't really consider them church family, but just plain family. We rejoice with them as they rejoice; we grieve with them when the grieve and they do the same with us. God is truly good and we are surely blessed!!! We pray for many more years up here in the north. It is just what we needed!!!

My favorite verses are Jeremiah 29:1-13. I feel it is fitting for this particular time in my life. God's plans are amazing and I am so glad that Brian and I listened to Him when He whispered Roseau in our ears.  Had we not followed His plans for us we surely would have missed out on so much!

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah  29:11-13

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We did it...we released our last child...

Last summer our daughter Abby was married. At the wedding we heard one statement almost as much as we heard congratulations. The statement? "See you next summer at Caleb's wedding!" We just laughed. Even Caleb and Brittany laughed about it. However, I should have seen what was coming. I mean during family pictures, Brittany was welcomed in. We all knew that one day she would be family. During the reception we found Brittany writing this on our car:

So, when Caleb first approached Brian that he was ready to propose I shouldn't have been surprised. Yet, I was. I knew he was ready, he is the most level headed person I know. He is calculated and does nothing on impulse. This was my baby boy wanting to get married. He was barely 19; how could he be ready to be married? I mean just a few years ago he didn't want to even consider dating. He considered girls to be too much drama; he was a horrible hugger (seriously it was like hugging a tree!); how could this boy be ready for marriage? But, he was and is. He found the one his heart longed for and when that happened he transformed! What a fun thing that has been to watch.

So, I had several months to prepare my heart for the big day; the day our baby boy would become a husband. I'm not going to lie, there were tears involved in this process. Never once were those tears because I was sad about who he was marrying. No, the tears were bittersweet, end of an era type tears. We home-schooled, so I never had those first day of kindergarten tears, nope those tears came the day we dropped him off at college. (I had 13 years to build up a good reservoir of tears for that one).  And so these tears were much like that, the tears that come with releasing a child.

I knew as the day got nearer that I needed to do something to "give my son away". I knew I needed to assure Brittany that I wasn't going to be one of those mother-in-laws. Apron strings, that is what I came up with. So, I went to my friend Google and found another mom(Linda Weber) who also wanted to cut the apron strings for her son and his bride. She wrote poems to her new daughters-in-law, so I tweaked this idea into a poem for Brittany. I read it at the rehearsal dinner, I knew I needed to do this before the wedding; I needed her to know there were literally no strings attached. I was shaking quite a lot, not from nerves, but from the emotion of what I was doing. Watch and see what I did...

The wedding day was glorious. Were there a few bumps along the way...yes. When I think about June 21st though all I dwell on is the love that oozed out of these two. My son appeared several inches taller, he looked like a man ready to be a husband. Before Caleb saw Brittany I took him aside and told him that she was absolutely glowing and for him to be prepared for how stunning she looked. Later I asked him if I was right. His response will be forever engrained in my heart. He said "No, you were underplayed how beautiful she is." My husband and I just marveled at the way he looked at her all day, the way he prayed with her before the wedding, the way he beamed.

We have only seen one picture the photographer took that day, but I am pretty sure nothing can beat this picture. This picture captures the day perfectly. At the end of the day it was all about Caleb and Brittany and the beauty that  God was painting in the two of them....

Photo credit Amber Rae Photography

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today makes me smile.

Some days just make me smile more than others. July 2 will always be a day that makes me smile and reflect and be grateful. Until 1988, this was just another ordinary summer day for me. July 2, 1988 changed that for me. You see, that is the day I became a Mrs., the day I stole Brian's last name, the day I became one with the man I love. So every year we celebrate and remember and give thanks.

It's been 26 years since we said our wedding vows. 26 years of doing life together. It hasn't always been easy, in fact at times it was just plain messy. We've not always seen eye to eye, we have not always fought fair, and some days I am pretty sure we didn't like each other. Life is that way;  messy at times. I can say with absolute certainty, there is nobody I would rather get messy with! Those tough times were important, they forced us to grow up, to work through things, and growth was always the end result.

God gave Brian to me, to be my rock, to be my sanity, to be my best friend, to be my partner, to be the father of our children. God knew exactly what I would need. He knew that at times I can get a bit too serious, a bit too stressed out, a bit too scheduled and well just a bit too much. He knew that Brian would be the one to make me laugh, the one to offer a shoulder, the one to hold me just because; God knew that despite all our differences we would make a great team. 

Happy Anniversary Brian! Let's try for another 26...the adventure is really just beginning!!