Missed Family Reunion....

Well, the weekend came and went and we tried hard not to think about the family reunion we were missing in Texas. Every year in June, Travis' family gets together in Utopia, Texas for a weekend to catch up and see each other...we've been at the last two reunions, but this year we couldn't go. We just couldn't find reasonable airfare and we coudn't afford to charge it...I hate that. I hate that we missed it, as we don't get to see Trav's family very often, but it seemed to be one of those hard things in life...seasons that you have to go through. I hoped our poor "season" was over when we left seminary, but sadly it's not!! It seems living in Minnesota is not very affordable on a youth pastor's salary! But, we'll try for next year and we'll hopefully get to see everybody then. There is something about missing out on the fun that's hard to get over...I think we were both a little sad this weekend, so we tried not to go there in our minds! I'm glad that we were disappointed however to miss it because that means we really cherish the time we get with our Texas relatives...not every family has a reunion worth going to, but we do and that's a blessing. We are very thankful for relatives that we love and even like!!


Summer is offically here!

It's hot...and it's been hot, so I guess that means summer is here, right? I've had to get creative with my little guys and take them to indoor places during the day so we don't all melt in the heat. This last week was great, because it was Vacation Bible School at our church, so I took them up there to see Travis and to play and participate in the big rally times. I have to say that our VBS at Grace is truly amazing. I've never been a big fan of VBS, because the one I grew up attending was so lame. But, this one is totally fun and very cool for all the kids...we have over 800 kids every day and more than 400 volunteers that help run it. The themes are fun and the scheduled stuff is great, but my favorite part is the rally at the end of every day. It's full of silly games, drama and a music team made up of junior high and senior high students that do a wonderful job! The music that we do is all by Hillsong and it is loud, fast paced, worship style music with tons of actions...the kids go crazy!

What's very touching about the whole week is the mission's project that they choose every year. Because our church is huge on missions, we really push an offering every day that the kids give towards a project. This week it was an orphanage in Liberia that needs a building with a roof...we were hoping for $7,000 to build it and the kids brought over $8,000! Isn't that awesome? I work at the registrattion table all week and one of the things we do is count the really does come in lots of coins and $1 bills, but with so many kids giving $, it adds up fast. They gave over $4,000 on the last day to push us over the goal...what a fun day! I was reflecting on it later and I just couldn't help but picture the party in Heaven as that money came in and the kids were told they made their goal! I do think the Lord must take extra delight in seeing little children give with such pure hearts towards something that serves other people...isn't that a lesson for us? Who doesn't need a reminder to give with a joyful heart like that??? It speaks to me because the kids are rewarded with a party or candy for bringing money and it isn't a contest between genders or's really just a goal that we talk about everyday and that we try to get the kids to soften their hearts to kids all over the world. So rewarding. I really can't wait to put our own kids in it someday, I think they'll love it.

Anyway, here are the three little boys at this great indoor park that we go to in Edina. They had a total blast running around and playing this day...later that night, they went to their Grandparents house and Finn fell into a glass table and cut his head open, requiring 16 stitches to close it up! They are definately boys, but I'm so thankful that happened on their Mom's watch and not mine!!!

Long time,'s been 2 weeks since I've updated this...sorry. I guess Life caught up with me and I've been A.) Too busy to fill you in and B.)Un-motivated to sit down and write about what we're, sorry to all my friends who actually read this (Holly Shelton, Amy Combs, and Jenny Lowe)!

We are officially in the craziness of summer. Travis was gone last weekend in Ely, Minnesota (on the border of Canada)with some junior high boys and their Dads camping and fishing and playing! They went to Big Lake (named I'm sure because it's, you know, "big") and stayed on their own island for 3 days...every guys's dream, right? Apparently it was great because they never had to worry about the boys running in the woods, as they were the only people on the island...also, this made for fantastic "night games", as I'm told, with their air soft guns! Travis had a blast and came home smelling like campfire and body odor...the marks of a truly great guys weekend! I had a fun couple of days to myself, during which I scrapbooked like crazy, and I just kept thinking, I'm so glad I'm not on that trip!!! Here are a couple of pictures of some of the boys before they left!


Wrapping up a busy weekend...

This is a classic Sunday night for us...we've been going non-stop all week and all weekend and now we are both watching TV, in seperate rooms, falling asleep!! Are we getting lame or what? We met someone for dinner tonight and I told Travis afterwards, "I don't want to just go home because I know we'll end up laying around, watching TV in seperate rooms"...and I was right. We lasted together, watching the same thing, for 5 minutes! We're turning into old farts who can't agree on what to watch!! Of course, we're both so tired that it doesn't really matter...half of the time I think we're both dozing off anyway.

Today we discovered the greatest secret spot behind our condo. To lay the groundwork for this story, you should know that we've been lamenting the fact that we don't currently have a gym membership anywhere, because we can't afford to do it right now. Last summer, because of a total fluke, a premier gym in town offered memberships at half-price to any Pastor, so when we found out, we totally jumped on that. It was (still is) a beautiful club with a great outdoor pool area, and we loved it...we went all summer. In August, the club ownership was bought out and you guessed it, the new owners did away with that great membership deal...they did offer us a new rate, but it was double what we were used to paying, so we of course declined. Bummer. This year, I drove by and discovered that they have totally remodeled the pool and added brand new, lush chairs...the ultimate insult. So, after I told Travis, we've been bumming around about not being able to join. (sidenote- in the grand scheme of life, I realize this is totally NOTHING to complain about, considering how 90% of the world lives, however, we are still bummed.)

So anyway, fast forward to this weekend, when we are having 2 extremely hot and humid days in a row. Naturally all we can think about is, what happened to our great pool???? We decided to take Ryley on a walk this afternoon, so he could run a little bit and we found a walking path that led down to a lake behind our condo. We've seen the lake from the road many times, but we never realized there was anything around it. So, low and behold, we discovered not only is there a little path around the whole lake, but there is also a little "beach" with a park right there...literally hundreds of feet from where we live! Then we noticed there were people swimming and floating in the lake as well and there were no signs prohibiting dogs from swimming either! Perfect!! We may have actually found a great spot to bring us a little free relief on a hot day...isn't that great? It was, for about 30 seconds...and then I remembered that I hate lakes, actually I despise lakes. I cannot take the thought of swimming in a body of water that I can't see through, knowing there are thousands of other "things" swimming along with me. And then I spotted 4 guys fishing on the other side and that sealed the deal...proof that I wouldn't be alone in the water. So, while we were very excited to find a lake right by our house, we both quickly agreed that it's more of just a lake we'd like to "walk around" instead of swim in! And so, back to square pool in sight!


Moving on...

We just got home from watching lots of our 8th grade students graduate from a Christian Middle School tonight(I know...our life is sooooo exciting). It was a sweet ceremony, because it is a great school, but it made me think about this time of's so full of changes. Saying good-bye to old ways and looking forward to new things to come. Weddings, graduations, last days of school...May and June bring so many changes don't they? I've grown to accept change as a good thing in life, but I don't know that I really like it. I am a creature of habit and I like routine, so when this time of year rolls around, I get a little sad. What will I do when my children are the ones graduating??? Hopefully I'll put on a brave face and tell them all the wise things I've learned about change and new beginnings, but then I'll probably climb into bed with Travis and cry myself to sleep! This has been a long week, I think I'm emotionally tired and physically tired too. I'm really glad it's Friday tomorrow...I need a day to sleep in and chill out. We have a party tomorrow night for our incoming seventh graders, welcoming them to our Junior High Ministry...we called it a "movin' on up" party. I think I need to "move on up" myself this weekend and greet my summer with some enthusiasm, instead of the exhaustion and dread I've felt this week. We're having one of those great summer thunderstorms tonight and I'm ready to crawl into bed and fall asleep to the rain hitting my windows. One day I hope to handle this season of change better...but for now, I'm just happy to get under my covers and, as the song goes, "lay here and just forget the world."


Heading to the party!!

Travis helped marry them and then we were off to the reception! It was a beautiful ceremony with nothing going often does that happen? Our Pastor from my church in Iowa and Travis shared the ceremony duties. Travis did the vows and the exchange of rings, which he did well...I kind of got choked up watching my husband marry my sister! It was the start of a great night, we were all ready to enjoy the party and the dance!!

Family shots...

My sister Jennie and her boyfriend, Dave are in this first shot...check out the clouds behind them! The threat of rain loomed all day, but it held off long enough to keep us dry. I think it started pouring 5 minutes after we got to the reception though! This is a better shot of Stacie's dress, with my dad. It was raw silk and assymetrical in shape, very vintage in person.

The beautiful bride...

Sorry it's taken me a few days to get all these pictures up! Posting 3 pictures at a time is killing me! I suppose I should have posted these particular pictures earlier, but here she is, the bride...and her new husband, Jesse. She looked gorgeous and all those hours of trying on dresses paid off. I think she chose the perfect one. I originally thought it would be sweet if we all wore the same wedding dress, but now I'm glad she chose her suited her well. Stacie does have my veil on however, so I was happy about that! It was fun and weird to see one of my "little" sisters in a wedding dress, but all of us eventually grow up, right? They've waited almost 6 years to become Mr. and Mrs. Brass!


Wedding Details...

My Mom was the master of details for Stacie's wedding...she orchestrated some meaningful things into the day. Stacie's flowers were done by a friend of mine...the designer who trained me actually...and they were beautiful. My Mom had her put rhinestone initials on each of our bouquets (you can see the "J" on the ribbon of Jen's bouquet, and in Stacie's bouquet is an old earring of my Grandma's, my Mom's Mom. It was pretty in there and something my Grandma would have liked. Also, here is a picture of the cake...very Stacie. No flowers, no colors, just simple and classic, with a "B" for her new last name...Brass!

The Big Day...

My Mom and Dad looked so good! It's so fun to see everyone dressed up. These are pictures of my parents, My new brother-in-law, Jesse, and I, and Travis and I. The day started out a rainy disaster, but by the afternoon it was dry and the sky was beautiful! We can't wait to see the professional outdoor pictures!

Wedding Photos...

I'm posting these pictures in groups of 3, because that's all the blogger can handle at once. So, out of the hundreds I have, here are some of my sister Jennie, my Mom and I! Of all the bridesmaid's dresses I've worn, this one is my favorite so far...

More Rehearsal Photos

Rehearsal Photos

My Parents, and Travis and I, on our way to the rehearsal!


Post-Wedding Depression...

Well, here we are, on Sunday night and I do think my family and I are suffering from post-wedding depression! When I say family, I mean my Mom and Dad and my sister Jennie and I. Depression may be a harsh word, but I think the four of us have cried enough tears today to fill a bath-tub! The wedding was a wonderful, beautiful day that went off without a hitch. It was absolutely perfect, everything we hoped and prayed it would be...but there's something about the reality of what a wedding actually means. Something about celebrating all week, then coming home to a quiet house and an empty room, knowing life just took a drastic turn and would never be the same again. The party is over, the relatives are gone, the newlyweds have said good-bye, and here we are. We developed pictures, re-lived the wedding moment by moment and then cried because Stacie is married and leaving us! We are of course thrilled that she's happy and we could not love her new husband more, but we're sad that another chapter is over and "our" Stacie is leaving us to move to North Carolina with "him!" I don't know why I'm so emotional about this today. I didn't cry a single tear all week, but I'm just like my mom. We hold ourselves together for everybody else and then when everything is over, we fall apart. Today I've fallen apart multiple times!

I left my parents' house this afternoon, with my Dad golfing and my Mom and sister crying. I told my Mom to go do something, to keep herself busy so she wouldn't notice how deafening the silence was in our house. She called me later and said my sister and her boyfriend were taking her to Shrek...that seemed like a good idea. I drove back home, composed and unbelievably tired. I was doing just fine until I turned onto my street and suddenly my radio came on to Carole King's "You're so Far Away!" Can you believe that? Then I got home and saw Travis, and I haven't stopped crying all night! I'm sure this will pass as we all get back to our routines, but there is something about days like today. Something that makes me long for Heaven...days with no tears, no sadness, no feeling "so far away!" Stacie isn't my daughter, she's my sister; but watching her get married made me feel like a parent this weekend. I'm proud of her, excited about her future and thankful she married such a wonderful guy...but as I told my Mom today, when Jennie gets married, we all need to book a vacation immediately after the wedding, so that we're too distracted to be sad! Someone remind me of that, ok? I have a million wonderful pictures to post and I will get them online as soon as possible, but for's to kleenex with lotion in it!