Um, hi! It sure feels funny? strange? hands-behind-my-back-saying-a-shy-hello? coming back after almost two months away, hardly even popping my head in to say hello between now and then. This internet “fast” of sorts was not intentional really, but no internet in our apartment has definitely made it a reality. I must say, for the most part, it’s been a lovely refreshing time. I’ve taken the kids to McDonald’s once a week or so and I check my email and messages while they scamper around the play area, but other than that, I have no idea what’s going on in the online world. But in another month or so, I will be happy to be more of a regular (which for me is not “regular”) again!
Several people have asked if I could do an update on our lives in the West… A few details, some pictures, just so they know a little bit of what’s going on. Soooo, when I’m not even eight weeks full of exciting life adventures I can be long-winded. Now when I feel full and overflowing, this could be a real challenge to keep it concise and not miles long! I’m not sure I’ll even promise to try.
// Olivia and Zoe at Estes Park, Colorado. Early October. //
Just as a bit of background, the beginning of October our little family packed up, loaded up, left south Georgia and drove over 1600 miles in three days, over 27 hours of driving time, two motels, with two kids 4 & under, and arrived at our destination in lovely northern Colorado.
Whew. If that makes you tired reading that, well, just imagine being the mother of those two little ones outside and one inside, actually living that out. The trip went exceptionally well, and I had even forgotten to buy a DVD player for the kids. We sang and read until we were almost hoarse, and sang silly songs the top of our lungs until the father in the front seat drastically raised his eyebrows.
We loved seeing the changing season as we drove. Zoe came up with this sweet poetic line that I just loved~ she must never have seen brightly colored leaves on trees before, because she said, “The red trees are sooo beautiful! They look like dancing twirling girls!”
Our reason for the journey was Ellerslie. It is a short-term Bible Training school begun by Eric & Leslie Ludy. Quite a few people know them as the authors of When God Writes Your Love Story but they have authored over a dozen books altogether, and then Ellerslie was birthed in the summer of 2010.
Attending the school was a dream of ours, yet we thought it impossible for a while. It is no small feat for a young family to pack up and leave for almost three months. Unlike being single and just easily leaving Mom & Dad’s house, this required months of planning and preparation, and ultimately, the hand of God working in amazing ways to enable all the details to come together.
// Zoe also started school in Colorado.
I can’t say we’ve been very faithful, but she has absolutely loved it! //
// Chloe Barkman, the coloring book you gave Zoe is the most adorable I’ve ever seen! //
// Cold mornings make tea drinkers out of us all //
It still feels like a dream to actually be here. Ben was the one that signed up for classes, and we rented a small furnished apartment nearby where I could stay with the girls while he was at school. After about a week of being here, one of the girls who graduated from a year of Ellerslie offered to babysit the girls every morning if I’d like to attend classes with Ben. Would I?!? It was more than a dream come true, because I never expected to be in class, although I privately cried big tears of longing.
So that has changed the face of us being here, drastically. No longer did I have long days at the apartment, wondering what I’d fill my time with for 9 weeks. Instead, we’ve all been getting up early, and try to be out the door by 8am Monday-Friday. Ben and I are in class until noon, then I bring the girls home for lunch and naps, myself often resting or reading (no internet, remember? it’s amazing how many books can get read!), and attending 1-2 afternoon classes with kids in tow. We pick Ben up from school around 3:30, eat dinner at the apartment, and then often head back to the school for the evening activity/session. Just to give you an idea of a typical day.
// Husband was beyond thrilled as we came upon several massive elk in Estes Park //
// Lily Lake, Colorado //
It’s a busy season of life. The early mornings have been a challenge because I was still quite sick with the pregnancy until about two weeks ago, plus had an awful reaction to antibiotics I was put on which made me so sick I thought my end was near, or my baby’s end was near. It was a rough two weeks of recovering just from the antiobiotic reaction. Thankfully, that is all past, and I now am feeling wonderfully healthy and actually have energy again! The second trimester definitely has been better than the first.
And the busyness… With a family, this is a schedule that could not be had for long periods of time. But for this small select season, knowing this opportunity is so rare and treasured, it has been wonderful.
// Olivia at our “Monkey House”,
affectionately wryly named after the gigantic gorilla found in a closet. he was drug into the living room for a few days, but i have not allowed him to stay. not my idea of restful decor. //
It’s very special too, because I have always wanted to go to college and God never allowed those doors to open. I pushed hard, but the lock was fast for many years. Now, it’s rather humorous, because I never would have expected to be a mother of two children, pregnant with my third, and be going to classes! But it really feels like such a gift, and now I get to go to a Bible Training center with my husband, as well as live in beautiful Colorado for three months!
This time of focusing on Jesus Christ, and having so much concentrated study has been precious. Anyone that is a mother of young children knows how much pouring out of self that requires, which is a wonderful and yet exhausting part of mothering. So often my longing for time just with Jesus far exceeds the time I actually can spend with Him. These weeks out here have been so special, and although this isn’t the schedule that life will be after we leave here, this is a treasured, treasured time, and I’m soaking in all that I can!
It is a stretching, challenging, soul-searching time. Learning to know Jesus more fully requires a stripping away of everything that we are, until He is the only One that can fill us. It’s been good, SO GOOD, but the true good only comes when we intentionally move out of the way and allow God Himself to have His way with us. That is sometimes painful, sometimes with tears and struggle, but good, so so good…
And Colorado, beautiful Colorado. We are about 40 miles east of the Rockies, and can see them from where we live. We drive straight toward them on our way to school, and I never tire of looking at them. It seems they are different every morning. And I have yet to get a good picture.
The altitude has been something for us to get used to! Going from hardly above sea level in the deep south to almost 5000 feet above is no small change! A few days after we got here I attempted to take the girls on a walk in the stroller. The combination of being so sick with my pregnancy and hardly exercising for a period of time, plus the high altitude, plus a very. flat. tire. in the stroller made me huff and puff like I never before remembered doing! Embarassing! So a few days later I went out by my lonesome and was able to actually run for quite a while before tiring, and felt that I had perhaps redeemed that earlier walk. Although you must remember for “running for a while” is relative. I shan’t give details.
// Olivia asleep in the car seat after running outside most of the day //
Just several weeks after arriving, and still in October, a most lovely winter storm came through and dumped a glorious eight inches onto our little town. Zoe and I thought we died and went to heaven.
It was especially neat for Zoe and me because last winter she heard about all the snow that the northern states were getting, and was just tragically sad that our almost-Florida state never even gets flurries. So she declared one day that she was going to pray that we’d live in a place that gets snow. I thought it a sweet, although impossible, prayer from my precious daughter. But what do you know, but a year later we are [temporarily] living in a place that got eight inches of snow not only once, but TWICE, so far, along with another dusting.
So, please indulge me as (drumroll please) I share a bit of answered prayers of a child.
// the neighbors ran out with a sled for us to borrow, after [apparently] watching us attempt [and fail] to sled with a cookie sheet //
// the apartments where we are living. we’re on a second story //
// eating snow is the most fun ever //
And, truth be told, our entire family went and played in the snow. Because, how could we possibly miss out on the fun of a four-year old who thinks snow is God’s smile in physical form? And, truth be told, I quite think the same.
// hoar frost, just breathtaking beauty //
One of the wonderful things about being here is that every Tuesday is Kiddo Night. By interpretation, that also means that every Tuesday night – once a week!! – Ben and I get a date night! We are going to be so spoiled out here, no joke. And not just is it a date, which in itself is wonderful, but within 15 minutes there are endless options to choose from for inexpensive but wonderful dates. Scores of coffee shops, including Starbucks, Panera Bread, other one of a kind shops, as well as scores of frozen yogurt and ice cream shops, as well as……. let me just say, we are LOVING it!!
// not on a date night, but a rare picture of just the two of us //
We’ve done just a few little crafty things, the girls and I. Just a few, because time is short, but both Zoe and I love doing projects together so much that we pulled a few little things together and used what we had.
// inspired by my sister Claudia, and by a student at Ellerslie, a personalized journal. stickers, magazine cut-outs, a quote, a glue stick and mod-podge. jenny k, recognize that ever-so-lovely sticker? //
// zoe was so excited about this project, and dug out a magazine [thanks, Shelly! ] and did her sketch pad cover //
The girls have made a fast friend, another little girl also babysat at the same time weekday mornings.
And as if life at Ellerslie and Colorado is not exciting enough, two of my sisters added over-the-top excitement by coming to see us for a few days. Truly, I feel as if I have THE best sisters in the entire world. I have no idea why or how I’m so very blessed, but I love them so much it hurts.
// oldest, youngest, and third-born. they make me want to have four girls in a row so my daughters can experience what i do!//
// Ervina was a radiant newly-engaged, so one afternoon was spent at various bridal shoppes //
// next spring and summer should be quite exciting – my other sister [not pictured] is since engaged to be married is March, Baby Yoder is due to arrive in April, my other sister’s wedding in June, and Ben’s brother’s wedding in June as well! I think we’ll move north for all the excitement. ha! //
My girls absolutely love their aunties, and Zoe just sobbed and sobbed when I drove away with them to take them back to the airport.
// they make us so happy. //
And the baby on the way, oh yes, the Yoder Baby! He is alive and growing. And thus making me grow as well. He must have quite an active personality, because I felt him move for the first time a little shy of 16 weeks, which is the earliest I’ve ever felt a baby in my womb. [And no, we don't know if he is a "he," but Zoe is sure she has a little brother on the way...]
My sisters took a few pregnancy pictures while they were here, but showing them almost make me blush, because I feel like I’ve so suddenly popped and look quite pregnant. People that saw me two months ago? Well, two months makes a big difference.
// downtown Windsor, kiddos window shopping in the background //
// and to continue with my sister Ervina’s lovely idea of a fruit for a visual, the baby is a bit bigger than this but it was the closest thing I had to use impromptu //
// and the two people who fell in love and married six years ago are still in love //
Thanks for sticking with me, if you read this far!
And a huge thanks to those of you who have been praying for us and our time out here. That really means so much to us, and we are so grateful for that!
A huge thanks to for those ever-so-sweet cards and notes and even packages!! Let me tell you, it is fun to be remembered at home on your birthday, but to be remembered so far away, even when my birthday is a few days off, is so special! It’s my last year in my twenties… I shall enjoy it to the fullest!
A lovely Thanksgiving to each of you! And may Jesus be honored and worshipped not just as the Giver of all good things, but as the Giver of Life, true life, eternal life even in the here and now!
p.s. My little Mary Kay business will be joining the sales of the Thanksgiving weekend, and Friday through Monday (25th-28th) 20% will be taken off your final purchase at www.marykay.com/claritayoder, as well as free shipping to your home.