“Holding All The Elephants”- I’m published!


Hi friends!

How’s your December going so far? Fast? Mine is!

December for us is not only the celebration of Advent as we prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas, and the finish line of the year, it’s the ramp up for our kids’ birthdays. Judson turns 3 (THREE!!) a few days after Christmas, then Ayla turns 6 (Also.. SIX!!!) the second week of January. We’re doing a combined party for them for the third year in a row, which we’ll continue to do as long as we can get away with it!

I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but way way back in March I mentioned an article I submitted to Thryve Magazine. It was supposed to be published online in June, but it was delayed until just last week. So, reallyquickdrumroll, it’s out now!

Here’s the link: http://shop.thryvemag.com/pages/the-harmony-issue

Right below the picture of the laptop, it says “View Harmony Here,” so click on that and then it opens the magazine in an app called Issuu. My article is on page 106.

I wrote about a time when I was drowning in anger and didn’t know it, how much I don’t trust God and also about elephants. It’s a fun piece.

This is the longest and most spiritual and serious piece I’ve had published and I’m feeling both excited and vulnerable about it. I’d love for you to read it and give me some feedback if you have time. The format of the magazine doesn’t allow for comments, so please come back here or email (annasjoy at gmail) me. I can take constructive criticism and I’m always looking for ways to be a better writer and communicator, so I could use more than just “likes.”

My friend, Brandy Lidbeck, who just published an amazing book for survivors of suicide called The Gift of Second, is on page 130 with an article about the lies we believe (but shouldn’t).

Thank you for your love, encouragement and support this year. I’m planning to post a few of my Advent/Christmas related writing in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about what you’re up to.

Guest Posting: Dear Daughter Letters

Bre and her husband Ian (who took this pic) are some of our original people and they finally got to meet my happy boy on a quick visit to town today.

A few years ago, I wrote a letter to Ayla trying to describe the richness we had in our lives due to our people. I intended it as a blog post, but whenever I opened it to post, the timing didn’t feel right.

A few weeks ago, my For The Love launch team buddy, Lauren Flake, requested entries of letters to daughters for a Dear Daughter series on her blog, For The Love of Dixie. I submitted mine and now it’s published! Hooray!

Here’s the link: http://loveofdixie.com/dear-daughter-people/

Please pop over to her site to read it and while you’re there, leave a comment and look around at some of the other great entries.

(Speaking of comments, if you leave a comment here, I do my best to respond. You have to check the “Notify me of new comments via email” box right under the comment box to see my reply.)

The post you should probably just skip

I’ve been wrestling with this post for about 25 days, but I think it’s time I publish it so I can move on. I’m taking a firm stance against something many people hold dear. I’m sharing negative thoughts and feelings on an issue in a way that I usually just keep to myself. I’m standing in stark opposition to many of my friends and neighbors, but it’s really nothing new about me, y’all just didn’t know it before. Once this is out there, it’s out there. No going back. I’ll probably instantly regret clicking the publish button, but here goes.


October is not my favorite month. What I want to say is that I hate October, but I tell my kids “hate” is a very strong word and should be used sparingly. So, I’ll just go with I really really really dislike this month and use hate a bit later.

Now, some of my best friends love October, and I can respect them for that. I’m not trying to say that everyone should feel the way I feel about October. I’m happy for you if you love it. I may not understand or agree with your reasons, but if you’re happy, I’m not trying to take that away from you. Please don’t take it personally, unless your name is October, then of course  you know I love you. Even if you love everything on this list, I still love you and I hope you can still love me when you hear all my grievances with the 10th month. (Or you can stop reading now and save some shred of your admiration for me.)

1) Football. It’s on some channel every night of the week. And baseball is still on for most of the month, so there is no escape from sports on TV. Take me out to a ballgame, I’m a happy girl. Sports on TV, not so much (Olympics are the exception! And maybe now the World Series since Cubs.). In our current home, we don’t have an actual TV, since it has been in transit from the Middle East to Virginia for the past five months, so we watch TV on our computers and devices. So that’s multiple screens being watched. By the same person. In the same room. Three games at a time? No problem. Except, yes problem. Can we fast forward to the Super Bowl and be done with this sport for the year?

awareness-ribbons-and-their-meanings_55ca34a839f96_w15002) Awareness Months. According to Wikipedia, October is home to no less than 25 awareness causes. And they’re big ones, too: Breast Cancer, Down Syndrome, Bullying Prevention, Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Every year there seems to be more. Each and every cause is dear to someone’s heart and all month long my social media feed is crowded with fundraising and awareness posts. Ok ok ok, I’m aware, I’m sad, I’m heartbroken, I see you, I’m holding a place for you, but my little ol’ heart just can’t hold it all and I just want to crawl into a hole until November (only 7 causes there). I’m already overwhelmed with the broken state of the world anyway and October’s awareness month bonanza about does me in. Why saturate October? I’m sure January, February, March and July could all hold a few more causes. At least October is also National Pizza Month, so I can eat my feelings for a cause!

3) Election seasons. Do I even need to expound on this? 2016 is especially bad, but every year this is the last lap for politicians to do their best (worst?) to get votes and I just want to mute everything.

4) Pumpkin Spice. Everything is pumpkin spice, which is bad enough, but then all the people crazy about pumpkin spice everything never ever stop going on and on about it. Stop the madness and give me my peppermint everything!


5) Columbus Day: We get one official day off this month and it’s to commemorate someone terrible. I love that in some communities, they’ve changed the name of the holiday to celebrate something else, but come on, it’s 2016! Can’t we do better?

6) Halloween. First, there is one and only one thing I like about this holiday. Cute and clever costumes. I love it when families wear theme costumes or work together to make homemade costumes. I’ve had fun dressing my own kids up as our last name, but I think we’ve reached the ages where that’s not going to work anymore. Sigh.

Ayla on left, Judson on right (twins 3 years apart)

I hate the glorification of everything scary, gross, slutty, demonic, death-related, and gory. People here start decorating early in the month and it’s inescapable by the end. Everywhere in my once-sweet neighborhood there are ghosts, corpses, bloody heads and hands and zombies. If it were just spiders and skeletons, I don’t mind. That’s nature and science! But this world is hard and scary enough as it is, I don’t understand the need or desire to spend money on making it worse.

Here’s another thing. I have a problem with candy. I don’t like having candy in my house, I don’t like people giving my kids candy, I don’t like my kids asking for candy constantly when they know we have it, I don’t like the expectation that I’m going to give someone else’s kids candy (or whatever healthy or non-food alternative is suggested). I have this problem every holiday that involves candy (which is all of them), but Halloween is the worst.

I realize my issues with this holiday are very personal and American culture is not going to let Halloween go away, so I’ll just have to continue navigating my way through the blood-soaked headless corpses that line the way, but I don’t have to pretend to like it!

I have social anxiety about this, too, because I don’t want to make other people feel bad if they do like Halloween. I don’t want to miss out on the opportunities to get to know people in my community by avoiding events. I don’t like feeling like the weird one for not wanting to spend money on costumes, decorations or candy that serve a purpose that I wholeheartedly disagree with.  I thought we’d avoid Halloween when we moved to a Muslim country. Halloween is forbidden there, so we’d be safe, right? No! The Embassy went all out to decorate the halls and even outside public spaces, so for the entire month of October I had to take my kids through a haunted hallway just to go to the pool. It was out of control! I’m seriously not trying to take away anyone’s right to celebrate or decorate for whatever reason they choose, but there is no space for me to not have it in my face. November first can not come soon enough!

So, there it is. All my soul vomit about October, released to haunt cyberspace forever. But vomit is gross, so that’s in the spirit of Halloween, right?

All month-shaming aside, I know plenty of good things happen in Octobers. Wonderful people are born in Octobers and many good times ensue. I, myself, have experienced God’s new mercies every day so far this month, spent time with people I love and, for the most part, enjoyed life. It’s just a month and I can get through it, having many meaningful and enriching experiences. November is one of my favorite months, so if I have to pass through October to get there, I will. Every year. (Unless/Until I figure out a way to skip it.)

How about you? Want to correct me on why October is absolutely the best month ever or commiserate with me on why it’s not? Do you have any coping strategies I could use to get through it or referrals to a therapist who could help me work out some of my issues (but not all of them, I still want to be funny)?


Beautiful sunset over my neighborhood

At the end of every month, I have this sort of panic. It goes like this:

“Ah! It’s the end of the month. I haven’t written a blog post yet! I had so many ideas! Where did the days go? What should I write about now? How much time do I have? Does anyone still read my blog or even care? What timezone should I put in my settings, so it still shows up as posted today? (yep, actually have done this, because procrastination) Next month I will write at the beginning of the month and actually all month too because I’m a writer and writers should write!!!”

(Um, I just wrote, “I’m a writer” and I don’t think I’ve ever just said it like that. Scary.)

This is how it went down yesterday (Sept 30).

Morning: Day 3 of rain, grey skies, grumpy kids. Tired mommy coming off a week of solo parenting. My plan, to get up early and write before taking Ayla to school. Didn’t happen. Did get her dressed, fed and to school on time, so that was important. Went for a run with Judson in the stroller. I’m signed up to run the Army 10-miler next Sunday. It’s my 8th time running it, so you’d think I’d know better than to half-ass training for it, but procrastination. Showered, then drove to DC to have lunch with a never-met friend from the For The Love launch team. This launch team is still going strong in our on-line community and I collect meet-ups like some people collect popular on-line “catch-em” creatures. I plan to write during Judson’s nap.

Afternoon: Lunch went long, because of course when you get a slice of time with a soul-sister from a far-away state you stretch it out as long as you can. I get Judson down for a late nap and remember I’m scheduled to call someone who’s about to move to the place I just moved from. I do that. It’s important. I have a lot to tell her. I should write some of it down, you know, because I’m a writer (eek, just said it again). Then my alarm goes off to go get Ayla from the bus stop. I’ll get my post at least started for a few minutes while she has a snack before Judson wakes up.

Still afternoon: Ayla does not stop talking while she snacks (finishing up the food I sent in her lunch) and then we need to read the books she got from school. Our friends arrive for a scheduled playdate/sleepover and I will not have time to write until they are in bed. It’s cute how I think they will actually go to sleep.

Evening: Friend kids do not want to stay for a sleepover and one of them spikes a fever, so I take them to their house, put them to bed and wait for their parents to come home. I read the first couple of chapters of Love Warrior, because reading is good inspiration for writing.

Night: I get home with 30 minutes left to the day. I don’t write. I wake my husband up off the couch and we go to bed.

The day, and the month of September, ends with no blog post from your dear Anna, and still we all made it to October.

But, hey, look at this. A post at the beginning of the month! And I have 3 other drafts started. Because I’m a writer!


Feels Like Home (to me)

Tired family after a long flight (Feb 2014)

Two and a half years ago, we came for a visit to the States, Judson’s first time in America. We started out in Virginia because we wanted to have him dedicated at our church in DC and spend a few days in the mountains before going to see the rest of our family in Oklahoma and Texas.

We rented an Airbnb place in Alexandria to crash in upon landing, but the location didn’t really register with my sleep-deprived, jet-lagged, new-born mommy brain. I remember this, though.

One afternoon while Judson slept, I walked with Ayla to a playground next to the building where we were staying. It was late February, but the weather must have been pleasant enough to be outside. I don’t know if it was the freedom to walk down the public sidewalk of a well-manicured street, gulping in the fresh American air or enjoying one-on-one time with my oldest, but whatever it was, my heart swallowed a piece of that space. I told John later that I could see living in a little neighborhood like that when we moved back (as opposed to the neighborhood we had lived in before).

Flash forward to yesterday. We’ve been in our little townhouse in Arlington for almost a month, spending our time at the pool, playground and riding bikes in the basketball court behind our house (all those things are behind our house, we’re in an amazing location) or on the neighborhood’s generous sidewalks.

Riding bikes with the neighbors/new BFFs

Yesterday, we explored a little further out, riding bikes about half a mile down the road to where Judson will be in preschool a few days a week. After meeting with the school administrator, seeing his classroom and meeting his sweet teachers, they invited us to go play on the playground. We walked out and – you probably guessed this already- it was the same playground from the previous paragraph!

He was having sand oatmeal and coffee. Yum!

Without even knowing it, we are living in that neighborhood! To be honest, I didn’t even remember the playground or having the desire to live near it until I walked out there yesterday. When I recognized it and remembered wanting to live there, I felt like a sparkler was lit in my heart, like happiness almost physically popping out of me.

In my last blog post, oh those many months ago in June, I talked about the exercise of naming the gifts or graces you find in life. Counting your blessings isn’t for bragging or comparing. It’s for reminding yourself that you’re cared for and provided for and just flat out loved. It’s not a glossing over a life that’s filled with ups and downs. It’s a highlighting of the good things that heal the wounds left by the not-so-good.

I’ve had so many little gifts like this park discovery since moving in. A reunion with a friend that doesn’t feel like a reunion, but just a continuation of a conversation that paused a few years ago. A local restaurant where my kids get the special treatment they got used to in the Middle East. A neighbor I haven’t met yet running to help me get something heavy from the car. An afternoon of tree-climbing and bike-riding (I keep mentioning bike-riding because it’s my kids’ new favorite past-time and I just love watching them do it!) while I sit in the shade (literally what I am doing as I type this!). I could go on and on, but you get the point.

I consider these house-warming gifts from God. In this time of transition, from one country and culture to another, from the stay-at-home years to the go-to-school years (Ayla starts Kindergarten next week! Hold me!), from being extremely dependent in a patriarchal society to finding my independence (and interdependence) again, God is decorating my days with these soul-healing and life-giving moments.

IMG_6754I’m coming from a place, both physically and mentally, where happiness was hard-fought and joy was easy to lose sight of. That season seems to be over and when happiness comes this spontaneously, I’ll take it! Welcome home, indeed!



P.S. At our wedding, our first dance was to Chantal Kreviazuk’s version of Randy Newman’s song, “Feels Like Home.” The chorus has a line that goes, “It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me, It feels like I’m all the way back where I belong.” And I’ve had this song in my head the entire time I’ve been writing this, so now you can have it too!


Time wasn’t all that flew in June

First, a big thank you and virtual hugs to all of you who supported me and shared my last post. I tend to overthink things and anticipate that major events are going to be more stressful than they actually turn out to be, but our move back to the States has needed every bit of the grace and understanding I requested.

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp writes about recording the gifts, blessings or graces, found in everyday life as an act of spiritual discipline. My copy of the book is packed deep in a crate for the next four months, or I’d quote it for you, but she talks about what science has proven, that as we put words to what we can be grateful for, our physical and mental health improves.

I definitely need all the improving I can get, so here are a few gifts of this past month.


  1. My kids don’t like Chick Fil A. Well, really just the chicken. This is a tragedy that I’m trying to remedy as soon as possible. On countless afternoons in the desert, I dreamed of loading them in the car and heading for “The Chick,” letting them eat waffle fries to their heart’s content and play on the germs-be-damned playground while I relaxed with my sweet tea. Ah. But no. Our first visit here included tantrums over the nuggets, bribes to eat the nuggets, massive potty accidents and fights in the playground. Judson hasn’t worn diapers since March when we potty-trained him, and I was unprepared for the river he let flow in the middle of the restaurant. The gift of the day was the compassionate mom in the booth behind me who handed over the right-sized diaper for him, telling me, “we’ve all been there.” Here’s the closest I could get to a smile {I mean, come on, ice cream!!!} with my beautiful sister, Martha.



2) I am inspired by people who do their job, especially dealing with kids, with joy and passion. The mall in Tulsa doesn’t have quite the amusement-park-style rides that my kids are used to in the Middle East. But they do have this classic carousel beckoning children to convince their grown-ups to pay way too much for a ride. On a brother-free outing one afternoon, Ayla met and fell in love with this horse on the carousel. She told the ride operator how much she loved her, and instantly he engaged her with an equal passion for the horse (Calliope, as we learned her name is) that made me want to sit him down and interview him about his life.

Judson has had many haircuts in his short life, and every time the barber pulls out the clippers, he freaks out. They have to switch to scissors, and depending on their skill, he can still get a decent haircut after he calms down. I was excited to take Judson to Mr. Will at Kuts 4 Kids for a haircut, since he gave Ayla her very first haircut and it’s a Tulsa tradition for me now. The whole shop is a dreamland for kids, full of toys and games for them to play with while they wait, the latest Disney movie playing on a wide-screen TV, and a bowl of candy kids can help themselves to if Mom’s not looking. Mr. Will is the genius mastermind behind it all. Judson was sitting so still and happy I didn’t even notice the quiet buzz of the clippers as Will worked his magic. He worked so quickly I didn’t even get a picture in time! I asked him how he did it and he just winked and said “I have my ways.” You can tell he loves what he does and he loves who he does it for.

These men make a difference for hundreds of kids every week with their passion for their jobs and I’m grateful my two little ones were a part of that.


3) Cousins! We took 55 pictures of this crew and there is not one where they are all looking at the camera and smiling. So, sorry Ari, your cute little grump face is going down in the record books. Ok, just on my blog. My sister has 5 kids (those on the left side of the pic) and my brother has 4 (on the right), and with summer activities and multi-parent-home schedules, it’s hard to get them all together. We did it, though, and my kids got their love-tanks filled with plenty of attention from the group we call “the Niblings.” (Niblings isn’t an official word or my original word, but many people are using it lately as a gender-nuetral way to refer to the offspring of their siblings.)



4) Mercy found in cancelled flights. This could and should truly be its own post, but here’s the brief version. I had plans to fly to Atlanta to see my dear desert friend, Diane. (I lauded her here.) After being delayed 5 1/2 hours in the Tulsa airport, our flight was cancelled due to weather in Houston, so we had to reschedule the whole trip to accommodate everyone’s lives. We now had a whole week to fill and nothing planned. My friend from college, Lisa (the one with glasses in the pic), reached out to invite Ayla to join her church’s VBS. You see that little message on my other friend, Erica’s, shirt? “He loves me.” Yep, He sure does. This was the same VBS I had signed Ayla up for in Atlanta with her best friend, Bella. So, while the girls didn’t get to attend together, they still had the experience to share and the songs to sing loudly non-stop once we did get there (see #6).

I jumped in to volunteer during VBS since I was so grateful for Ayla getting to attend, which allowed Judson to stay and participate in a toddler version of what the big kids did. We had so much fun that week, but the highlight was soaking in the time with my college friends (wondering how it is that we’ve known each other for more than 20 years but we’re all so young) and being with people who haven’t seen me in years, but still know and love me (and my kids) just the same.


5) I bought a mini-van! I haven’t bought my own car since I was 20, (even though that was just a few years ago, it feels more like 18 years, wink wink) and my darling husband and I have had the classic mini-van love-hate debate for the last decade. To put it gently, I mean bluntly, I won. Of course, he let me win. I just hope he soon sees what a win this is for our family too! (Love you, babe!) It was so surreal and life-giving to be able to just walk into a dealership, by myself, and walk out with keys to a vehicle for me to drive. I’m driving my kids around town in a mini-van, we’re drinking our Sonic slushies and belting out the songs from the VBS CD and I am living the dream!


6) Atlanta at last! In no less than FIVE cancelled, delayed and rescheduled flights, we finally made it to see our friends, the Manninas in Roswell, Georgia for a few days. We had a blast. We miss them again already. Sniff. Oh, have you seen the video of Ayla realizing who we’ve come to see? I can’t figure out how to upload it, but here’s the link to it on Instagram.


7) When I rescheduled our Atlanta trip, I decided to travel out of Dallas, so I could see John’s family down there. The timing worked out for us to go to East Texas as well and get some time in with his extended family. We visited a Cowboy Church with his cousins and afterwards they had a “rodeo” for special needs kids. Now, I say “rodeo” because it was really just an opportunity for the kids to ride horses, play carnival-type games and be loved on by everyone. The volunteers and staff putting it on were so kind, and invited all the kids there to ride. This picture captures such a special moment for me, I had to share it. Judson has never wanted anything to do with horses and he’s only slightly more fond of strangers. That’s all Ayla’s bailiwick. But as he was standing in line with Ayla for her ride, he decided he was going to ride, too, and jumped in this lady’s arms without even looking at me. It’s so gratifying for me to see my kids overcome their fears and experience the beauty of life on the other side of them.

(And for a bonus gift, how about an “in-law” family that I love to visit, even without John?!)



8) Speaking of family. These are the people I am blessed and honored to share my closest DNA with. I don’t know if there’s another set of parents and siblings who are all so different from each other, but it doesn’t really matter. These are mine and I’m keeping them!

I’m way over my self-imposed word count here but these eight gifts just barely skim the surface of the month. We’ve had our challenges and my goodness are we ready for John to be home, but we hold on to the goodness and grace of our loving God!

To All Who Are Waiting For Us

Or How to Give Your Returning Ex-Pats a Safe Place to Land


How to Adjust Your Expectations and Extend Grace


In just a few hours, I will board an airplane with my two sleepy children. Unlike many of the other flights we have taken at hours people shouldn’t be expected to function, this will be a one-way flight.

That’s right, my friends, we are coming home!!

But first, a warning (or a cry for help). I was going to send this as an email to my parents and siblings, but thought maybe there’s something in here for others, too, so with trembling hands and an open heart, here are a few things I need you to know.

We are tired

We get picked up at 10pm for a 1am flight. We will spend 19 of the next 25 hours on airplanes. I’m flying with the kids alone while John stays behind to finish up work, so it’s a safe bet to say that while my kids will probably get some sleep, I may not be so lucky. (And, everyone knows airplane sleep doesn’t really count.) We may need several days to get our bodies caught up and adjusted to our new time zone.

Beyond physical exhaustion though, I am dry and weary in all other aspects of life. Three years in a desert will do that to you! I am leaning into Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30,  “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Please be a safe place for me to do this.

We are grieving

Our first day in country, with 2-yr-old Ayla and baby bump Judson

Although we are beyond ready to leave this country, and are excited about what awaits us back in America, we are still very sad to leave our home and friends here. We are so happy to be with you, but goodbyes suck, they just do. Our move is hitting my sweet Ayla especially hard. We came when she was 2, she knows America as a place we visit, but her knowledge of home is this house in this country. Judson knows very little about America, except that Grandma is there and he will get new sunglasses when we get there. We are changing so much about their lives and they don’t get much of a say, which leads me to my next point.

We might throw some fits


And I don’t mean just the kids! When we first moved here, we had so many behavioral issues with Ayla that left us questioning everything we had done as parents. A wise friend and mother of 6 gave me words of life for which I will always be thankful. She said to give Ayla some extra room to breathe, to figure out what it was that her little heart needed and go the extra mile to give it to her. She said that when transition phase was over, we could work back in the structure we needed at a gentle pace and carry on. We did just this and got our sweet girl back.

I’m heading into this transition fully expecting it to be hard on my kids, without their being able to process it like I (supposedly) can. They might do wonderfully, but just in case they’re actually normal humans (they are), I’m prepared to give them abundant grace as we all adjust. So please, don’t be too hard on them or me if we just can’t get our act together or we have bad attitudes. We’re going to do our best, we just need some time and any extra grace you can spare (and lots of mac and cheese).

We are a tribe


Unless you’ve lived with us here (and some of you have), it’s impossible for you to know what we’ve been through here, both good and bad. This goes both ways, of course. You have had your own lives and struggles too. So if we seem to cling a bit to our friends from here and the happenings of those we’ve just spent 3 years with, at what may seem your expense, please understand. It’s not you, it’s us. We’ll get better. Just keep in mind that we were doing this clinging to you not long ago as you loved us from far away on our way here.

For my kids, I am going to be the only constant in their lives for a while, so please don’t take it personally if they don’t bond or click with you right away. They are absolutely my priority and I’ll be dropping some “no” cards to make sure their needs are met. I know you’d do the same if you were in my shoes.

We are homeless

Once we touch down in the States, it will be approximately 2 ½ half months before we move into our next “permanent” house in Arlington, Virginia. That means exactly what you’d expect. Sleeping in unfamiliar rooms, living out of suitcases, being guests (experiencing great grace and hospitality from our hosts), adjusting our eating and sleeping schedules and preferences for the greater good and not having our “own” space as we’re used to. This is absolutely of our choosing and we couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity and time off we have to travel the country and see as many of you as possible. We are going to have an amazing summer, but the novelty of the vacation life might wear off sooner than we’d like it to.

We have lots of people to see

Speaking of travel, we are trying to pack in as many meet-ups and hugs as possible to make up for the past 3 years and I know we won’t even come close. I know you’re going to feel like we aren’t spending enough time with you. We’ll take that as a compliment! It’s also hard on us not to be able to spend quality time with all the people we love and miss, so please know that in this instance time does not equal love.

The bottom line of it all is this.

IMG_5638 We are about to end one adventure and start a new one. I’m as giddy as I get for you to get to know my kids, the post-toddler Ayla and the mostly new-to-you Judson. They really are the most amazing people. We just need a safe place to land with people who will take us as we are now, not as perhaps they expect or remember us to be.

All these things, the sad, hard, tired, joyous, reunited, grieving, culture-shocked, road-weary, good, loved and grace-filled bits, are a gift from God and we are grateful.

This is actually some of our friends with their dogs, and a beautiful sunset in the desert.

I can truthfully declare Psalm 126:3 “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!” And I know I will still be able to say this at the end of this summer, thanks to you and your gracious understanding and love. See you soon!