Wednesday, December 16, 2015

On the Edge of a Decade

9 years ago was our wedding day. We were both so nervous, and so young! (I was 20, he was 25!) We were broke, and there was no Pinterest when we got married, so our wedding was very simple (Wal-Mart wedding cake! No joke...) and not very photo-worthy (in fact, the few pictures we have are really horrible, which still makes me incredibly sad every time I think about it.)

When I listen to friends and family's wedding plans, and see their beautiful photos and how well they plan everything out, I realize how weird in today's culture Matt and I were as we stepped into married life - we were two very poor, shy virgins with zero pizazz and a lot of awkwardness who decided to step forward in faith that God would honor the blessings he promises to two people who honor Him in their relationship. It was so important to Matt to honor God with our relationship from the very beginning. I can not even start to express how thankful I am for that about him. It has meant everything, and has been a rock I have leaned on over and over when times have been tough.

I tease him every so often for how "unromantic" he was in our dating relationship (his proposal consisted of handing me my ring in his old F-150,) and how horribly awkward it was to have our first kiss be in front of all our family and friends at our wedding (I'm cringing thinking about it!) But what he did give me, was the very real assurance that fancy words and stylish weddings meant nothing to him in comparison to how much honoring Jesus in our lives together meant. That's why I chose him. That's why I still choose him! It's why I have every hope and confidence that we'll be together till death separates us. And I can attest, with all sincerity that YES - God does keep his promises. His blessings are real and so much more valuable than any physical or material thing in the world.

(Though I always will be a little sore about my (lack of) wedding pictures...) ;-)

(And if you do decide to wait until your wedding to kiss, and it's HORRIBLE, don't panic too much about it - a little practice and you're golden.) ;-)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

We're Going On A Tree Hunt

Another weekend over, another week closer to Christmas, a cast free baby and a new year!

These are some pictures from two weekends ago, when we went to a local tree farm to cut a tree, (something we have not done since we moved to Michigan almost 3 years ago!)

The pictures made me laugh out loud as I edited them, because they are SO deceiving. You would never believe while looking through them that Oona threw a major, loud, ugly tantrum for about 90% of the time. Or that Olive and Silas wouldn't stop fighting over who got to sit in front of the sled, who got to pull the sled, who's tree was "better..." As we got ready to get the hell out of there leave the farm after tying the tree up to the top of the van, Matt and I each shut a sliding passenger door, and as the eardrum-popping noise of three children wailing angrily died away a guy in the car next to ours yelled "WHOOO-EEEEE, I SURE AM GLAD I'M PAST THOSE DAYS!" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I laughed.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Last Mile's The Hardest

This girl's tenacity and determination never fail to awe me. She's a champion.

"How's it going with Oona?" I get asked this a lot. The answer is: "it's complicated."

I look back on the last 10 weeks with a mixture of pride and shock - "yeah, we did this!" And, "Oh my gosh, how are still we doing this?"

To be honest, we're having an especially hard week as I write this, which may be the reason I feel like I need to write, which conflicts me because I don't want to just write when things are bad. I don't want to give the impression that it's ALL been bad. There's been a lot of grace. There's been a lot of incredibly powerful, wonderful lessons learned. There's been some empowerment, and a lot of being broken and humbled.

But there is some bad. Lately, Oona's been suffering a lot, and it's hard to join her in that while not being able to do anything to really help. She can't sleep. We're woken up several times a night to screams of mighty frustration as an itch or cramp tortures her. Sometimes a little soothing gets her back to sleep. Other times it's so bad her body is rigid and tense, and she won't relax for hours. There's a constant wondering of "could we be doing something different to make it better?" To give her ibuprofen with her tylenol or not? Are we doing her pillows the best way? Should we give her the bottle she's demanding that she really doesn't need? Do we let her cry for an hour, or get her up so everyone else in the house can sleep? Matt and I are extremely exhausted, and it brings out the worst in us.

When I'm REALLY tired, I start getting irrational. I feel it creeping up on me, the way you start to feel icky when a cold or flu is coming on. I get jealous of people I love. I get bitter about how unfair things seem. I get snappy and impatient when I should be gentle and understanding. I get extremely anxious that everything important around me is going to fall apart, and it will all be my fault. I start irrationally feeling like everyone is counting on me to meet their needs, and I don't have enough of myself left to give to anyone, and all is hopeless.

We've got 18 days left with the cast. We're in the last stretch, yet these next two and a half weeks feel insurmountable to me in this moment. So I'm trying to be really intentional about inviting Jesus into this weakness, even as my sinfulness and anxiety rapidly try to erect walls of self-dependence in an attempt to keep Him out. Funny after all these years, and all that my brain knows about needing Jesus when we're weak - it's when I'm weak that I seem to continually shut Him out. "It's my problem. I can fix it myself if I do a,b and c..." My heart has a hard time trusting and believing that He'll walk beside me, that He is who He says He is.

18 days left, and I'm trying to embrace them with hope and faith in the promises of God, instead of wishing them away.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christmas Cards With Tiny Prints

After Oona's diagnosis and surgery rocked our sense of normalcy, we have since found a new "normal" - it's a more exhausting, chaotic kind of schedule and we're all still adjusting. Because of this, I thought Christmas photos and cards would be impossible to pull off this holiday season.

We just so happened to luck out with the weather in October - 70F, sunny days for over a week straight in west Michigan at the end of fall is really rare! We rushed the kids to the beach on one of these nice evenings to grab some photos. It was all rushed and kind of chaotic, (hmm, kind of like life right now...) but I really love the pictures we got. I especially love how all the kids wore different shades of purple to match Oona's cast. These photos will always remind me of these crazy, grace-filled days with our kids.

I was thrilled when TinyPrints reached out to me this fall to try some of their fabulous personalized, holiday stationary options. We ordered our cards from them last year, and the quality is just fantastic. They seriously have so many beautiful designs and templates this year that trying to narrow down our choices was a real challenge!

We ended up going with the "Cheerful Holly" die cut snowflake card, in Hazlenut. Look at that gorgeous floral print! *Swoon.* I love it in all three of the colors TinyPrints offers it in! The best part is that it's the perfect ornament size, and is something family and friends can keep for years to come. (I hate throwing photo cards away every year, and love the idea of having the photos on an ornament!)

This year I also wanted to try out the matching envelope liners (an add-on when you purchase your cards,) and personalized postage stamps. These little details are such easy ways to make your Christmas cards look extra special! I think family and friends will get a kick out of seeing the small Freys on a postage stamp this year. ;-)

If you're in need of creative, high quality photo cards and accessories this year, I highly recommend checking out TinyPrints! I can personally vouch for their fantastic customer service, unique designs, and fantastic, quality photo printing! (They're running some great holiday promotional deals right now too - hop on it!)

* Thanks TinyPrints for partnering on today's post! Opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Water On Fire

We had an incredibly powerful low pressure system roll in last week. It brought a ton of wind, rain, (and a headache for me! Am I the only person who gets storm headaches?) It was a couple of really dark, stormy days in Holland. I saw some pictures of the massive waves on Lake Michigan from friends on Facebook and decided to take a quick trip to the state park last Friday evening with Olive, to try to get some pictures myself.

We picked the perfect time to visit. We caught the most dramatic, amazing sunset I have ever seen since living here (or elsewhere, for that matter!) There was this incredible panorama of storm clouds leaving, and a fiery bright ribbon on the horizon over the lake where the sky was clearing, (it gave the illusion that the lake was on fire, it was that bright,) and in between the two were massive, low hanging orange, pink, red and violet clouds. The wind was incredibly strong still, (and cold!) and sand was pelting our skin. The waves were huge! I had never seen the water so high on the lake. Lake Michigan, has such a personality. One day it can be as still and glossy as a sheet of glass, another day you might see 20 foot waves, and in the winter the whole landscape freezes over into an alien looking place. It's never boring, and it's always beautiful.

Today we take Oona back to the children's hospital for her 6 week cast change! While it's awesome to have reached this half-way point in her Spica cast treatment, it's daunting to have another 6 weeks to go. Praying for an easy procedure and comfort for our Oonie today and the rest of this week as she adjusts to the new cast.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Market At Virtue Cider

I love helping my sister out with her shows, especially around the holiday season. There's a lot of energy and fun buzzing about all the makers as they set up their booths and show off their wares. This time the market was held at Virtue Cider, in Fennville, MI. It was a beautiful location, in a beautiful country setting (and the cider I sampled was amazing!)

I'm always button-poppin' proud of Grace and her ever improving, evolving style of ceramics. I love her feminine flair and pattern mixing. She has an Etsy store now, if you want to check it out! (Her floral mugs and hand bound journals would make excellent Christmas presents for that hard-to-shop-for person we all have in our lives!)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Much Needed Adventure

For the first time since Oona's surgery, we all got out of the house for an outdoor family adventure. It was such a wonderful Saturday that I had to share about it!

We made the very short drive over to the Outdoor Discovery Center right here in town, which we had never been to as a family before. What an amazing place! There is so much to see and do. There are several elk on the property, as well as a birds of prey area where you can see everything from a peregrine falcon and bald eagle to owls and kestrels. (All the birds on site were injured and are unable to survive in the wild anymore.) There are two awesome playgrounds and endless trails through beautiful ponds and wildlife. There's also an educational Native American site where you can explore life size teepees and wigwams! And the best part - it's free admission!