Tori’s Bucket List: Sleepover

We decided to retroactively add this to Tori’s Bucket List because the sweet moment occurred before we created her List.

We had hoped to recreate this one with even more of her Krabbe buddies this July, but the Lord had other plans.

When we were at the Hunter’s Hope Family Symposium last summer, we had laid Tori down to change her diaper on a table and she fell asleep.

Gemma‘s parents put Gemma down next to her for a cute photo and she fell asleep, too! They had their first little sleepover! They even had an empty bag of chips with them, so the sleepover appears to have been a great success 😉

Every girl should experience the joy of spending the night with her best friends, so I’m glad that Tori and Gemma got to have this experience, even though they didn’t realize it was happening 😉

We love both of these girls very much and are looking forward to watching Gemma continue to grow and fight Krabbe valiantly. ❤

And with this, Tori completed FIFTY bucket list items. What an amazing journey we have had celebrating life with her in these little ways.

Tori’s Bucket List: Be a Bridesmaid

Earlier this year I was asked by one of my dearest friends to be her matron of honor for her wedding; I was so excited and honored to be in this role to support Shannon throughout the wedding planning process and couldn’t wait to begin the planning.

And then Tori got sick.

As our world changed, I continued to try to do my best to be as supportive as I could from Pennsylvania despite all of our challenges with our new normal so that her special day would not be hindered by Tori’s situation in any way.

Late this summer, I was talking with Shannon about her wedding and about Tori, and she had an idea that touched my heart deeply: she asked if Tori could be a bridesmaid in her wedding! I was so moved and happily said yes.

Shannon picked out the cutest dress and sweater for Tori to wear, and she even made Tori her own adorable brooch bouquet!

The love that Shannon has for Tori means more than I can express, and having Tori be part of the bridal party with me was priceless.

Tori seemed to enjoy the day as well (until the ceremony – then it was nap time so Daddy took her out into the lobby).

The entire bridal party was so helpful and supportive of Tori and her care throughout the day – Shannon even learned how to suction her! So impressed!

Here are just a few of the amazing pictures that Thomas Beaman Photography captured – I only posted the ones directly related to Tori and me for this post.

Note the bowtie on her giraffe, made by the talented Jana Speck just for the occasion.

Thank you, Shannon and Chad, for allowing Tori to have this honor on your wedding day. I cannot express how much it means to us that you would ask her to be there by your side.

Day Eighteen: Brennan is Thankful For…Loyalty.

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/18/12 (with slight changes made today).

Since I (Lesa) wrote the first seventeen, I asked Brennan if he’d like to contribute anything…and he said yes!  So here’s a post from him…

As I think of some of the more significant times in my life, a lot of them revolve around the aspect of loyalty: people loyal to me and me loyal to them. It is often an overlooked character trait. I know for a fact that if it weren’t for some very loyal friends and family in my life, there is no way I would be as successful or even as happy as I am now.

To start, I would say that my best friend Jeremy has been by far the most loyal friend I’ve ever had. This is not to say that I haven’t had other very loyal friends, but Jeremy takes the cake. He has been as good a friend as he has been a mentor to me for over 18 years. There were a few occasions where I was in a tough spot, whether it would be spiritually, emotionally or whatever, that would send people running for the hills leaving me to figure it out and endure on my own or fall flat on my face. Jeremy was there to lend a hand, pick me up, listen or whatever I asked until I overcame. I, in turn, have done the same for him which I think has strengthened our friendship. Some may think this is a “duh” statement, but I mention it because I have seen too many people engaged in friendships where both parties think they have each other’s back only to find out this is not so. That has never been the case with Jeremy. No matter if we were 15 minutes or 6 hours apart (yes, these distances are accurate), we have always made ourselves available to talk or simply hang out. Aside from our wives, we are each other’s “go-to” people.

Speaking of wives, mine is simply the best. Yeah, I know, all husbands are somehow obligated to say this…except that I actually mean it and believe it. My wife, Lesa, has been by my side from Day–1 no matter how much of a bonehead I’ve been, no matter how grumpy I’ve been, and definitely no matter how crazy I’ve been (good crazy too 🙂 ) She always values my opinion and respects the decisions I make, even if it can possibly end in failure. She is the epitome of a godly wife that I have always longed for and she daily shows me the loyalty that we both swore to each other on our wedding day. I in turn show the same type of loyalty, and one part of that is by resisting the temptations of this world that I’ve seen other men fall into. I simply won’t allow it because of the love and respect I’ve promised to show her all the days of our lives.

In a world where loyalty is a lost character trait, I value it at the top. This is because of the importance of it and the impact it can make in people’s lives. It’s made incredible differences in my life and will continue to do so, I’m sure. Like most other things in life, you get what you put into it. It’s a give and take trait. All give and no take, and visa a versa, leads to heartache and disappointment; and that’s something I do not wish to deal with or do unto anyone else.

Day Eight: I’m Thankful For…Friendships

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/08/12 (with slight changes made today).

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts that God has bestowed upon us. In the past twelve years, He has brought the most incredible people into my life–some for a season, some for a lifetime…all for a purpose. I am SO very thankful that He has continually provided women (and men) who are willing to live life with me…to laugh together, cry together, explore together, and worship together. This post is fairly lengthy because God has so richly blessed me…and I didn’t even talk about all of my friends! I decided to focus mostly on the women who were in our wedding.

I had 22 roommates before I got married, and each of them impacted my life in some way. While I don’t keep in touch with all of them, I do think about them all often because of the memories that we shared. Allison, Sara, Leslie, Jessica B., Alli, Katie, Rebecca, Johanna, Jen, Brianna, Kori,  Jessica E., Erin B., Courtney, Kait, Erin, Ananda, Mindi, Molly, Christy, Laura, Lena. I learned so much about living with others and I became a better person as I was sharpened by each one of these women in different ways. We made so many memories together–especially my freshman/sophomore year… 🙂

There are so many other women in my life who I spent hours and hours with though we never lived together… Cara, Christina, Amberly, Jessica B. and Kim, to name a few.

In Northern California, there are several friends from camp years who are still some of my dearest friends…too many to name. We try to see at least a few every time we visit NorCal, but it doesn’t always happen unfortunately. So thankful for all of my years attending church camp with these people.

In Southern California, I was blessed to have two friendships that will last a lifetime: Kevin and Dannylle. The three of us hung out all the time between September 2006 and July 2008 (when I moved). We watched The Office and 24, we cooked/ate, we went on adventures (sailing to Catalina was the one that started our friendship), we celebrated holidays together, and we spent hours talking. Hours. Dannylle even donated some of his hair along with me when I did it in 2007 for the first time.

Those two men are two of the most godly men that I have ever encountered and I love how they sharpened me. There was such freedom in our friendship to be honest and to confront when we saw an issue. We walked through rough times together and we walked through great times. We served the Lord together through missions and youth ministry. They were like the big brothers I never had. Now we all live in very different places, but we will always be family. When I moved to Pennsylvania, the hardest thing about leaving was knowing that I would be leaving those two.

But, God was faithful and He has brought me incredible friends here in Pennsylvania, as I knew that He would.

Before I moved here I met Ashleigh through a mutual friend and our friendship deepened even further once I moved here. She helped me so much with applying for jobs within the House of Representatives and offered advice during my job search. When we both worked in downtown Harrisburg we would meet for lunch at least once a week, and we still try to get together regularly. When I began dating Brennan she was always there to offer wisdom and advice, all biblically based and practical. She is someone with whom I can be completely honest (and she with me) and she has been by my side through so much since I moved here. We are so alike in so many ways, yet very different in others…and both have worked to strengthen our friendship. Ashleigh was a matron-of-honor in our wedding and I was so thankful to have her by my side throughout that process and the years that have followed.

Through the same “young adults ministry” where I got to know Brennan better, I also met Shannon. From our earliest meetings I just knew that we’d become great friends…and I’m so glad that the Lord has brought us together. She has taught me so much about things ranging from autism to jewelry, and I have helped her with various things as well. We NEVER have a dull moment together. We share a love of photography and I have loved watching her grow in her God-given ability to capture moments. I know that when I have a problem, Shannon can help me solve it. Her counseling background is invaluable as she always knows the questions to ask to get me thinking. Shannon also stood by my side at our wedding and I know that our friendship will be lifelong.

Shannon, Ashleigh and I met regularly for coffee until they both moved (Shannon moved to Texas, Ashleigh moved 45 minutes south of us). I am very thankful for the discussions that we have when we can get together (though it’s hard to get a word in sometimes!) and for the ways that God is using us in each other’s lives.

I met my “sister” Cheyenne in June 2002 when I lived with her family in Williamsport for two summers. It has been so amazing to watch our friendship grow, and I am so thankful for her. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like (we are both TOO busy! :)) but there’s always a sense of picking up right where we left off. She was instrumental in my decision to move to Pennsylvania and was so excited about me being only a little over an hour away! She was a matron-of-honor in my wedding and I am so thankful that she was there for me throughout the entire wedding/marriage process. I have learned so much from her in the past few years about marriage and love. She introduced me to the “Love Languages” books years ago and she has offered many other words of wisdom over the years. She is always encouraging and challenges me to be a better person through her example. I am very thankful that this woman (who I met on a dark, stormy night with no electricity 🙂 ) has become a sister.

I gained a sister when I married Brennan, though I actually met Kelly before I met him. I had always wanted a sister, but God gave me a brother instead 😉 Now I have two sisters! Kelly is a blessing to me, and I am so glad that I get to live life with her forever as family now. She is so kind, patient, funny, and loving. From the very beginning she welcomed me into the family with open arms. I loved having her by my side during the wedding process, and I was so honored to stand by her side as she married Angel. I really look forward to deepening our friendship as the years go on!

Kristin is my first cousin, and we have always had a special bond. Out of seven grandchildren on my mom’s side of the family, we are the only girls. We also grew up a mile apart, so we spent a great deal of time together until I moved to Southern California. Whenever we are in our hometown at the same time (she lives in San Diego now), we get together and go on photography adventures. It was actually on one of those adventures that I shot my “famous” truck photo (the rusty truck with the mountains in the background). I love spending time with her and I’m very thankful that God made us cousins. 🙂

My most uniquely formed friendship to date is with Victoria. She and I have been friends for over 20 years but we didn’t actually meet in person until 2002. 🙂 In fourth grade (we think…it might have been third), we both happened to write in to be matched up with pen pals from American Girl magazine. We were matched up–me in California and her in Ohio…and we’ve been writing ever since that time! Granted, our methods have changed over the years (I really should write more letters these days), but she is still a dear friend. We have spent time together in person five times now in the past ten years (in Ohio/Kentucky, Pennsylvania, California, and Tennessee), and I can’t wait for more adventures with her. We are so similar and have the same love/passion for music. She is a talented singer/songwriter and I love watching her grow in that! God uses such amazing ways to bring people together. I was so thankful that she was able to stand by our side at our wedding…she has definitely enriched my life over the past 20+ years.

(Shannon, Kelly, Cheyenne, Lesa, Ashleigh, Victoria, Kristin)

So many other friends that I could mention…but I’ll just leave it at that since this post is so long already. These women were not only by my side for my wedding, but they have been (and will be) my friends for life. 🙂

God is SO gracious in His blessings to His children.

Day Eight: I’m Thankful For…Friendships.

Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts that God has bestowed upon us. In the past eleven years, He has brought the most incredible people into my life–some for a season, some for a lifetime…all for a purpose. I am SO very thankful that He has continually provided women (and men) who are willing to live life with me…to laugh together, cry together, explore together, and worship together. This post is fairly lengthy because God has so richly blessed me…and I didn’t even talk about all of my friends! I decided to focus mostly on the women who were in our wedding.

I had 22 roommates before I got married, and each of them impacted my life in some way. While I don’t keep in touch with all of them, I do think about them all often because of the memories that we shared. Allison, Sara, Leslie, Jessica B., Alli, Katie, Rebecca, Johanna, Jen, Brianna, Kori,  Jessica E., Erin B., Courtney, Kait, Erin, Ananda, Mindi, Molly, Christy, Laura, Lena. I learned so much about living with others and I became a better person as I was sharpened by each one of these women in different ways. We made so many memories together–especially my freshman/sophomore year… 🙂

There are so many other women in my life who I spent hours and hours with though we never lived together… Cara, Christina, Amberly, Jessica B. and Kim, to name a few.

In Northern California, there are several friends from camp years who are still some of my dearest friends…too many to name. We try to see at least a few every time we visit NorCal, but it doesn’t always happen unfortunately. So thankful for all of my years attending church camp with these people.

In Southern California, I was blessed to have two friendships that will last a lifetime: Kevin and Dannylle. The three of us hung out all the time between September 2006 and July 2008 (when I moved). We watched The Office and 24, we cooked/ate, we went on adventures (sailing to Catalina was the one that started our friendship), we celebrated holidays together, and we spent hours talking. Hours. Dannylle even donated some of his hair along with me when I did it in 2007 for the first time.

Those two men are two of the most godly men that I have ever encountered and I love how they sharpened me. There was such freedom in our friendship to be honest and to confront when we saw an issue. We walked through rough times together and we walked through great times. We served the Lord together through missions and youth ministry. They were like the big brothers I never had. Now we all live in very different places, but we will always be family. When I moved to Pennsylvania, the hardest thing about leaving was knowing that I would be leaving those two.

 

But, God was faithful and He has brought me incredible friends here in Pennsylvania, as I knew that He would.

Before I moved here I met Ashleigh through a mutual friend and our friendship deepened even further once I moved here. She helped me so much with applying for jobs within the House of Representatives and offered advice during my job search. When we both worked in downtown Harrisburg we would meet for lunch at least once a week, and we still try to get together regularly. When I began dating Brennan she was always there to offer wisdom and advice, all biblically based and practical. She is someone with whom I can be completely honest (and she with me) and she has been by my side through so much since I moved here. We are so alike in so many ways, yet very different in others…and both have worked to strengthen our friendship. Ashleigh was a matron-of-honor in our wedding and I was so thankful to have her by my side throughout that process and the years that have followed. 

Through the same “young adults ministry” where I got to know Brennan better, I also met Shannon. From our earliest meetings I just knew that we’d become great friends…and I’m so glad that the Lord has brought us together. She has taught me so much about things ranging from autism to jewelry, and I have helped her with various things as well. We NEVER have a dull moment together. We share a love of photography and I have loved watching her grow in her God-given ability to capture moments. I know that when I have a problem, Shannon can help me solve it. Her counseling background is invaluable as she always knows the questions to ask to get me thinking. Shannon also stood by my side at our wedding and I know that our friendship will be lifelong.

Shannon, Ashleigh and I meet regularly (or at least attempt to) for coffee, dinner, whatever, and our friendships continue to grow. I am very thankful for the discussions that we have (though it’s hard to get a word in sometimes!) and for the ways that God is using us in each other’s lives.

I met my “sister” Cheyenne in June 2002 when I lived with her family in Williamsport for two summers. It has been so amazing to watch our friendship grow, and I am so thankful for her. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like (we are both TOO busy! :)) but there’s always a sense of picking up right where we left off. She was instrumental in my decision to move to Pennsylvania and was so excited about me being only a little over an hour away! She was a matron-of-honor in my wedding and I am so thankful that she was there for me throughout the entire wedding/marriage process. I have learned so much from her in the past few years about marriage and love, and I’ve always admired her for her dedication to–and excitement about–learning about marriage. She introduced me to the “Love Languages” books years ago and she has offered many other words of wisdom over the years. She is always encouraging and challenges me to be a better person through her example. I am very thankful that this woman (who I met on a dark, stormy night with no electricity 🙂 ) has become a sister.

I gained a sister when I married Brennan, though I actually met Kelly before I met him. I had always wanted a sister, but God gave me a brother instead 😉 Now I have two sisters! Kelly is a blessing to me, and I am so glad that I get to live life with her forever as family now. She is so kind, patient, funny, and loving. From the very beginning she welcomed me into the family with open arms. I loved having her by my side during the wedding process, and I was so honored to stand by her side as she married Angel this past June. I really look forward to deepening our friendship as the years go on!

Kristin is my first cousin, and we have always had a special bond. Out of seven grandchildren on my mom’s side of the family, we are the only girls. We also grew up a mile apart, so we spent a great deal of time together until I moved to Southern California. Whenever we are in our hometown at the same time (she lives in San Diego now), we get together and go on photography adventures. It was actually on one of those adventures that I shot my “famous” truck photo (the rusty truck with the mountains in the background). I love spending time with her and I’m very thankful that God made us cousins. 🙂

My most uniquely formed friendship to date is with Victoria. She and I have been friends for 20 years but we didn’t actually meet in person until 2002. 🙂 In fourth grade (we think…it might have been third), we both happened to write in to be matched up with pen pals from American Girl magazine. We were matched up–me in California and her in Ohio…and we’ve been writing ever since that time! Granted, our methods have changed over the years (I really should write more letters these days), but she is still a dear friend. We have spent time together in person four times now in the past ten years (in Ohio/Kentucky, Pennsylvania, California, and Tennessee), and I can’t wait for more adventures with her. We are so similar and have the same love/passion for music. She is a talented singer/songwriter and I love watching her grow in that! God uses such amazing ways to bring people together. I was so thankful that she was able to stand by our side at our wedding…she has definitely enriched my life over the past 20 years.

(Shannon, Kelly, Cheyenne, Lesa, Ashleigh, Victoria, Kristin)

So many other friends that I could mention…but I’ll just leave it at that since this post is so long already. These women were not only by my side for my wedding, but they have been (and will be) my friends for life. 🙂

God is SO gracious in His blessings to His children.

Easter…

What a great day…celebrating the resurrection of our Lord, and spending time with people I love…I spent today with Kevin’s family–who have “adopted” me for holidays like this when I can’t be with my family.

Easter pictures here

Also, the family pictures that we had taken earlier in March are online now…click here if you are interested. They are really good–but they go by really fast! 🙂 I love my family…

Busy week ahead…lots of work…but it’s worth it 🙂  I’ll try to post more this week… 🙂

My best friends…
 
My best friends…

Thoughts…

I know that I have written about my desire to be married in the future…and today it really occured to me why being married is so desireable to me, perhaps this reason more than any other!

I want to have a best-friend again…I want to live with someone who is excited to hear about my day…who cares about my innermost thoughts and passions…who wants to hang out with me…I really just would love to have that kind of an intimate friendship–knowing that it will last forever.

I have been really frustrated lately, because the Lord has allowed two “best friends” to leave my life completely, leaving me with many good friends, but no “best friend.” And it’s hard. I know there is a reason, but it’s so hard, especially living with girls who have their own “best friends”, and often feeling left out…

But enough whining. Someday I will have a best friend again. I’m not going to waste my life feeling sorry for myself! 🙂

Things are beginning to look really good regarding D.C. and a future move there. May the Lord direct my path!