Christmas Mug Sister Exchange

My friend Lily, picked 20 women that she cares about and intentionally prayed for each week. A sisterhood, if you will. 

She thought - who doesn’t love to receive packages at their door for Christmas. So she prayed for each of us and paired us up. We would receive a coffee mug from someone and also send a little love and encouragement. A simple connection between sisters. 

So this morning while enjoying my cup of coffee, I prayed for Lily who arranged this simple gift exchange. A person who loves Jesus and who prays for her friends. I prayed for Jenny Alarcón, my sister who I was paired up with and pray for. I also prayed for Alexa Ponceano who sent me this beautiful mug. 

We don’t really know each other but we belong to the family of God so that makes us sisters. 

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:3‭ MSG‬‬

#christmasmugsisterexchange2017

 

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Friendship

The last 12 years I have developed a friendship with Carla and Sunshine that is binding for a lifetime. It’s more than friendship really, we are sisters. Even though many miles separate Sunshine and I from Carla, when we get together it’s like we haven’t been apart.

This kind of friendship is special. It takes time. Our schedules are busy and we all have different jobs and family dynamics but we communicate, build each other up and hold each other accountable!

I am so very grateful that these two ladies (and their families) are in my life. 

Here’s to 2018 and all the new adventures!

 

 photo credit: Coda Meeks

photo credit: Coda Meeks

Dake Family Photos 2017

It's hard when you are the photographer. You take everyone's photos and you find you don't have any professional photos of you and your family.

A few months ago I thought I would schedule new family photos. It's been about 5 years ago and it was time. Thank you to Hannah for capturing our family! You are amazing. I couldn't be happier!

Photo Credit: www.maryhannahharte.com

Christmas 2017

Thankful that God sent his son to be born as our Savior! Grateful that we were able to spend this Christmas with family and that my parents live close enough to us that we are able to do that.  

I am reminded of those special people who are no longer with us.

I miss my brother so much. He was such a huge personality and he leaves a massive void in our lives. He now celebrates with the Father in heaven. This photo was the last Christmas we spent together four years ago.

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This Christmas I also missed my sister-in-law, Melissa. We don’t get to see each other very much but she is still part of our family and I love her very much. #sistersforlife 

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And then there’s grandma! She was a strong woman who loved the Lord. She also is in heaven. Two years ago we went to Ohio for Christmas to be with Bernie’s family and to spend time with grandma. (It was Bernie’s idea!) I am so glad we did that because she died the following March. 

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It has been a great day! I hope your Christmas was just as wonderful!

 

Thanksgiving 2017

We drove to Ohio for Thanksgiving to be with the Dake/Marshall clan. It is a long drive especially when you have a crazy anxious 70lb German Shepherd in the back seat coupled with standstill traffic! Yikes! 

We had a great time being together for the few days we were there. When you are there for just a short time you try to do everything you can in a little bit of time you have. 

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Thanksgiving 2017

Bruce, Noah, Doris, Ron, Becky, Bernie, Laura & Luger

 

Wednesday was a great evening spent with Bernie’s siblings, nieces, nephew and grandniece! Our niece Liz and her husband Eric revealed to us that they were having a boy and his name is going to be Nolan Ellis! 

 

We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal served by the hostess of the century...Doris (Mom Dake) with a surprise for Dad...a graham cracker cream pie from his favorite place in Hornell NY. Bruce, Bernie’s brother, was very thoughtful and went out of the way to pick it up. It was a great surprise and we were all able to share it. ;)

Our niece Jen brought over the newest “grand pup” so that Luger could meet him and have a play date. Luger was very good with him and Aspen wasn’t so sure. But someday in the very near future, Aspen will be bigger than Luger. It was so much fun for me. German Shepherd pups are my fav! 

 

We spent half the day in Wooster, first at Sure House coffee with the family. I loved this place! Quant, modern, great coffee and AMAZING #cretzels They are a croissant pretzel filled with chocolate or cinnamon sugar. Oh my! I need to learn how to make those! Later that afternoon we had lunch with our friends Brett & Jessica and their family at Gouda Bar & Grill. Great time catching up. Thankful they had some time to spend with us because they are Salvation Army officers in Ashland OH. 

Saturday we left to go back home. We drove all they way taking turns driving. Grateful that we beat the holiday traffic. 

All in all a great time with family.

P.S. Thanks for the venison Ed! ;)

P.S.S. I missed my family!

Birthdays and Time

This is my last year in this decade. How did it come so fast? Three years ago...THREE, I spent the week with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother's health had deteriorated quite rapidly since I had seen him the Christmas before. My parents had been staying for weeks at a time but the week of my birthday it was me that was going to help him while Melissa went to work. 

We spent precious moments in that little apartment. Quite moments. I watched him constantly. Staring at his chest while he slept. I was afraid that I might not see his chest going up and down. I watched him struggle to do easy tasks. Things that you don't even think about. Do you think about moving your leg before you start walking? I don't. I just start walking. He couldn't do any of it. He would get frustrated and I tried to be the voice of patience. Which quite frankly is hilarious. I am the least patient person. 

Because he would get frustrated, we had a pact. We would be patient with each other. Beautiful moments spent together! Being there with him was the greatest gift. 

Time though...it doesn't stand still. It is always in a constant forward motion.

There is a song from the musical Wicked that when I here it, tears usually well up in my eyes. It's called For Good. Because I knew Doug and was fortunate enough to love him and be loved by him, I have been changed for the better. The struggle was real and painful but anyone who knew him was changed for the better. He lived out his testimony and because he had a relationship with Jesus, he lives in Heaven today and for always!

It's weird to think I am almost in the next decade. I don't feel old. I guess it's just a number. I cherish my friendship and relationships of those people I get to do life with.

 The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

For Good
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

Clean

We are in the Lenten season. This season is a very emotional time for me. Easter has been that way for me for a long time. It's emotional because of the sacrifice of God's own Son...for me! Me, who has not fully trusted Him enough or loved Him enough or lived a life worthy of His love...He still did it for me. I fail Him constantly and He loves and he pursues me.

This time of year is a difficult time for me personally when it comes to loss. Three years ago this week our dog, Osa died. Our "fur baby" that we loved for almost 16 years who loved us unconditionally. Three years ago this April my brother went to be with the Lord. Time goes on but the places that Doug filled in my life are still empty. One year ago my beloved grandmother met Jesus. A God she served for almost 99 years.That is a lot of loss but there is a hope! God prepared a place for us. That is the comforting part of the loss. I know they are in heaven. 

A few weeks ago my friends daughter (who I love very much) sang a solo in church. I wasn't there that weekend and as my husband and I were driving home, we replayed the FaceBook video. I couldn't see the video through the tears. First, because this young lady was singing out. Not holding back. Her voice was clear and beautiful. Second was because of the lyric. 

There's nothing too dirty
that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
Clean, Natalie Grant

These are powerful words. I am valued by God. He washes me in mercy and gives me the gift of grace. The God of the universe who created me, loves me more than I can comprehend. 

Page 20-36 of 365

I have posted a photo every day for the last 36 days. I haven't always been good about putting them up on my blog. Sometimes there isn't really a story to write about. Sometimes I take a certain photo because I'm participating in a photo challenge, sometimes it's something I have seen or experienced.

Here is a collection of photos from the last week or so.

Page 19 of 365

Today is your birthday. Your earthly birthday. The day God chose for you to be gifted to us. We had 43 years celebrating you! Loving you in a very tangible way. With a hug. A kiss. Laughter that was so contagious! A passionate, opinionated, caring individual. God chose 43 years was all that we would have. He didn't want to wait any longer. He wanted you home and so now you celebrate your second birthday in heaven with Him and the people who we love that have also gone on to heaven.

There are days that seem still so unreal that you aren't here. I can't call you to hear your voice. To tell you how much I love you! To tell you that you are the best baby brother a sister could ever have. You are missed more than I have words to express but I have memories that will never be taken away from me. Even near the end, I can recall things that you said and did that make me laugh out loud. I love Doug! Forever in my heart!