sweet moments.

My weekdays and eves are filled with work, class, meetings and all of the duties expected of a middle age working gal!

Then the weekend comes and I disconnect and recharge.

The past couple of Saturdays, there have been kitchen extravaganzas-complete with raspberry jam, chocolate cake, zucchini bread, apple crisp…

Just me and some Norah Jones and a few pots and pans. Awwww…serenity now.

Tonight I got to share that baked apple crisp with my parent-in-laws…and my sweet niece/college girl who joined us for dinner!

college niece

This week’s reminder…work hard at work and the business of being a responsible adult….AND be certain to make time for the sweet things in life…

…dinners with family and friends…cooking adventures…reading something that makes me think (enjoying Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted at the moment)…surfing mindlessly on Pinterest…coffee/pumpkin spice latte dates….browsing TJ Maxx…TV movies and a bowl of popcorn…

OH so many options of the things I enjoy.  Hoping you are finding the balance of sweet moments in your weeks!

transitions.

I wish I were one of those bold, courageous, adventurer types that loved change…that embraced new experiences with vim and vigor (well…what is vim and vigor? hmmm.) you get the point…with excitement and oodles of positive energy.

But I am not.

I like routines.  I like things fairly predictable.  Hence the Friday night pizza and wings each week…at the same spot…nearly EVERY Friday.

And yet, transitions occur.  With or without me. So I often need to “fake it til I make it.” Shifting responsibilities at work this fall force me into new situations and new relationships most days. I am thrilled with the opportunities…yet on the inside I long for the familiarity and safety of my previous duties.  I am taking one of my grad classes across the metro with the Hopkins cohort…Again, new people, new expectations – a course on finance? yikes. not my favorite.

My niece and my sis are adjusting to the newness of college life and one less family member at the dinner table each night.  New, exciting, and a bit sad and scary.  Avalon and I had a sweet chat tonight about these transitions.  And how difficult they can be.  At any age, change can be tough.

Or not…

September 2010 brought me and my hubby to empty nesting – read about that here. September 2014 brings that sweet girlie home to live with us once again as she completes her internship in Social Work this fall. For me, THIS transition is sweet…I now have her here for coffee dates…cuddles…conversations and family dinners…

coffee pals

For those NOT SO FUN transitions, hang in there.  Take a deep breath.  Keep moving.  Remember that this too shall pass. (At least that is what I will be doing.)

 

guest blogger: it’s all about the people

Today, we have a special guest blogger that would like to share her heart with you…words of insight from my daughter Breelynn- leaving her university town to begin a social work internship in a week.

I grew up, throughout my life, hearing the saying “it takes a village”. My parents always made sure to stress the importance of acknowledging how many people are a part of our lives…making us who we are, investing in us, looking out for us, and ultimately loving on us. It was not until I really came to college that I fully understood the magnitude of that saying, and just how much having “a village” meant to me. As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, I soon realized that it was not just my mom and dad that I missed, but it was also my friends, my aunts and cousins, my mom’s best friends, the kids and families I babysat for, my friends’ families…and the list could go on. My heart did not just long for my parents, my sole caretakers…but it longed for my WHOLE family…my village of people.

As “college world” evolved into “home,” a new village of people came into my life…or rather, my previous village just expanded. Being an only child, I have always been confident in hanging with the adults. I was taught at a young age how to sit at the “grown up table” and have “big kid” conversations…how to be polite and be a good listener, as well as be invested and ask questions. And now, at 22 years of age I am STILL refreshed by older adults, and families. When I got my job at Kids Korner (the daycare at the YMCA) I was STOKED because I got to work with MOMS. This may sound silly, but truly having a job where older, wiser women got to pour into me on a daily basis and allowed me to love on their kids was one of the biggest blessings to me over the past four years.

And now, here I am four years later…realizing that as soon as I have kids, and they are old enough to listen, I will be teaching them the importance of having a village, because at the end of the day it really is ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE. So often we get caught up in the stresses of work or daily life, how much money we are making, how insecure we are, or how dysfunctional our lives are that we forget to slow down and make time for people. I easily could have looked at every shift at the YMCA, every babysitting gig, every wedding I catered, and every family I nannied for as just a paycheck and a job to pay the bills. But I am SO grateful that I took time to actually invest and savor those things. Had I not, I would have missed out on the numerous amounts of families opening up their homes and lives to me that I do now…generously serving me with free laundry, home-cooked meals, extra groceries, baby cuddles, and even prayer time. I love that there are kids in my life begging for headbands of mine so we can be “twins,” and pleading with me to let them come for a play date at my house.

Folks, moral of the story is: slow down. Love people and let yourself be loved. Invest in people, and allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to be invested in. Every person has a story – so take the time to figure it out. When that co-worker or classmate is driving you crazy, remember something in their life may be going on. Dare to be bold and ask people questions. It is because I was both willing to share and listen that I have the dearest Eau Claire village of people I could ever have asked for.

And to those of you reading this that are a part of my constantly growing village: thank you for loving me, investing in me, and truly being my family.

Twinning with S

Fun with E and H

YMCA fam

it’s really just about the people.

Tomorrow begins another school year…early meetings and trainings kick off in the morning…the rest of the staff return next week…then the students arrive following Labor Day.  I could be feeling anxious or stressed with the end of summer and the return to full weeks of work…OR I could be feeling at ease, ready for routine and excited to get back at it.  Well…truth is, I feel a little bit of both. Naturally.  Yet when I really stop and think about it, I am simply happy to have had a little vacation time…and so very grateful for the people in my life that make it all worthwhile!

My final weekend of summer was filled with sweet connections…there were dinners and drinks with friends on a patio in the city…two coffee dates with cousins…a jog/walk around a lake with a pal and her dog…an afternoon matinee with my hubby…breakfast downtown with friends visiting from NoDak…yoga and a glass of wine with my cousin/flowergirl…phone calls and texts with my sis and my girlie.

So many sweet conversations about things in life that really matter.  The work, the meetings, the planning – those things matter too, but REALLY it is just about the people. In all I do, I savor the moments spent with others…sharing life together.

So as another school year begins, I will seek connections…with colleagues, with students.  I will keep working at the balancing act of leaving work at work, so that I can enjoy the time spent with family and friends.

I will listen more…laugh more…love more.

Here’s to another great year ahead!

boys being boys

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” -Leo Buscaglia

kozefò 5k 2014 by the numbers

The 3rd annual Kozefò 5K is wrapped up for another year.  Check out results from last year HERE and from our first ever 5K HERE. Each year I am incredibly humbled by the kindness and generosity of others, as they come on out to support the work we are doing in Haiti. We had family, friends, a big crew from the the Sartell area, Woodbury Community Church members, Saint Paul Public School employees, and our returning adult male winner that just came to run a 5K and support a good cause.  The money raised from this event goes directly into the general funds for running our Primary School in Port au Prince and the jewelry sales profit goes to the artisans at The Apparent Project. Huge shout out to Doreen for taking the lead as 5K Coordinator, to Scott for running the registration and t-shirt sales, Ann for keeping the finances in order, Jim for running the sound system and coordinating crossing guards, Liz for selling the jewelry and Eric Ramsdall with the Woodbury Police Department for their support. We had folks setting up and posting route signs, there were crossing-guards, a registration team and a crew running the water stop. This event could not happen without all of these fantastic volunteers! Thank you, thank you thank you!

**And a special bonus is that the 5K was won by a native Haitian!  JP Schlecht crossed the finish line first this year!!

total Runners-Walkers registered: 167

total volunteers (a little overlap, as some volunteers also ran or walked): 52

money raised: $5540

5K Senior High Girls

5K Runners:walkers waiting

5K Opening speech

5K Runners Start

5K Coordinator Doreen and Volunteers

5K Apparent Project Jewelry Sales

5K Top Youth

5K Kozefò Sisters

family vacation

Sitting out on the back porch on vacation with this view right now…ahhhhhh…

back porch

There is something special about getting away from the routines and chaos of daily life to relax and reflect a bit. And to do that with my family is an even sweeter gift.  We roadtripped with our girlie and her fiance…10+ hours of bonding in a car, sharing snacks, telling stories, napping…good stuff.  Then met up with my parents, my little sis and her fam for even more familial togetherness.  We have seen shows, ridden the duck boat, dined out, cooked in, shopped…there have been late night conversations and early morning jogs.  Often in the busyness of life, my sis and I share “status of the fam” updates on voicemail for each other, filled with brief overviews of what and where everyone happens to be. So, now that the 12 of us our sharing this sweet vacation home, I can provide the “status” here…currently we have 2 nappers, a tv watcher, a reader,  7 at the pool and me.

Instagram and Facebook have been overflowing with great pics this summer of families doing life together…reunions, travels, sports, picnics, bbq action and more…I’ve been quick to add my own adventures, as a way to capture the moments I wish to save as memories.  This summer we celebrated my parents’ 70th birthdays! Gosh…70 years of memories and no social media to store all of those “instants” from their past…there are polaroids, photos and even a few reels of slides maybe, but nothing as instant as uploading from their phones during their childhood or early days of parenting and grandparenting. So, they share stories…and demonstrate the fine art of “memory making” by living in the moment – being willing to plop on a Krispy Kreme hat for late night donuts…learning how to text and use facebook…making the early morning coffee to share on the porch…throwing a baseball around with a grandson…and SO.MUCH.MORE.  My sis and I, plus our hubbies and kiddos are blessed to have parents that still hold hands and patiently support one another in all they do…who have demonstrated what it means to live life well.

Thanks Mom and Dad for sharing your vacation time with all of us! Thanks for showing us the value of family. Happy Happy 70th Birthdays to you both!

Family Collage

reflections: Kozefò Team Trip 2014.

IMG_0252It is just a little over a month ago that we traveled as a team to Port au Prince…and yet it already seems like a lifetime ago. So much was shared in such a short time – with the full range of emotions flooding our minds.  At the time, it was difficult to share many details, as we were simply living in the moment, savoring each interaction with each other and with the students and staff. Upon returning home, life picks up right where it left off…work demands, family needs…laundry, dishes and well…just life! So now, as I pause and reflect back, it is clear that God is orchestrating this entire adventure.  This was my 7th trip and with each one, I learn how little I know…my eyes are opened to something new each time.  I never really know what will be up next…and yet I wait…and I trust.

Here is what I do currently know.

All 46 current students are sponsored.

Generous donors are stepping up to provide daily meals and plenty of water for all of the students.

The rent of our building has been covered for the next 6 months.

The staff we have in place are amazing – God-loving, caring, passionate, creative individuals that keep things running.

Textbooks and uniforms are being ordered.

A classroom on the rooftop will allow us to open the door to 15-20 more students in the fall.

Another young student has joined us on-site full time, given circumstances that were keeping him from his full potential.

The Apparent Project and Heartline Ministries are organizations doing great things in Haiti and we will continue to support and promote their work.  (Haitian-made jewelry will be available for sale at the 5K…and the Heartline Guesthouse provided an awesome safe haven for us each night during our stay!)

Kozefò Board Members, family and friends are sharing their time and talents to keep this school operating.

I am completely humbled by it all. Take a peek into our adventures on this video (thanks to Graphic Design Intern Laura!) Consider joining us at the annual 5K happening August 9th! [Free t-shirts included if you sign up today!]  Contact me if you would be interested in sponsoring one of our new students – updates coming in September.  Thank you ALL for your continued support and encouragement.