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If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know I love Advent. I have so many things to write about today, but Advent begins in a little over a week (Sunday, November 29th), and it’s time to do a little planning.

Advent is a time to settle down, calm our hearts, and draw closer to Jesus as we prepare to celebrate His birth.

All you really need is a candle, a Bible, and a simple schedule for daily readings. Come to think of it, you don’t even need to own a Bible – you can find all that you need online – but if you don’t own a Bible, you need one. If you can’t buy one, message me and I’ll mail one to you. God’s Word is life for your soul!

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Thank you to everyone who commented on Four Tips for Better Sleep. I’m not alone! I struggle with sleep, and it’s easy to feel like I’m the only one who is up in the middle of the night feeling miserable. Apparently there are quite a few of us.

My doctor explained to me that there are three phases in the process of waking: Asleep, Aware, Awake.

This understanding helps me get more sleep. Now I recognize when I’m just beginning to become aware. My eyes may not be open yet, and I’m still in a very restful state. If I can resist the urge to begin actively thinking about anything specific, and if I can avoid moving too much, getting up to go to the bathroom, or even looking at the clock, I can often drift back down into sleep.


Summer is nearly over and I have not yet finished this little series of updates! I’m going wrap up my big kids today.

Mimi had a summer full of travel. She has always wanted to see the world and have adventures. When she was in college she dreamed of being a travel writer. Life went a different direction, yet now, through her work in the gaming industry, she is traveling to conferences all over the world.

hannah work 2

Hannah just began the fourth year (of five) of her otolaryngology surgical residency. She has decided to specialize in pediatric head and neck surgery, which requires an additional fellowship after residency.

Applying to fellowships is a little bit like applying for residency; Hannah will submit her resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation to programs around the country and travel for interviews. We hope she matches closer to home this time!

N and K move June

It’s August and I haven’t finished telling you what all of the kids are doing this summer. I need to get serious about finishing this little series.

This summer brought new adventures for Noah and Katie. They celebrated their first anniversary and they moved to Seattle, where they plan to live for the next few years of medical school at the University of Washington.

sunset wedding

A paper airplane volcano 2

Last Monday was the 27th, seven months since we said goodbye. Being in a Third World country for the first time, far away from home and my family, the hole in my heart felt all the more profound. I really wanted to do something special to remember my sister and celebrate her life.

patio 1

Last March I wrote about our decision not to make any major changes to our home, or any other big decisions for that matter, in 2015. Healing our hearts and bodies, gathering our children close, and leaning in close to the Lord are our major tasks for the year.

Although we weren’t ready to tackle a remodel, we decided to build a patio. Having wanted one for many years, we knew that it would add joy to our lives and would be a therapeutic project for Russ. He loves to work outdoors and nearly any project that allows him to spend time on his tractor is an added bonus.

annarose and kalkidan

In the midst of sadness, life keeps moving forward. I’m almost thankful that although I may want to escape my life, my kids make it impossible. Today I’m continuing my update on the kids’ summer adventures.

Annarose lives life more fully than anyone I know. She has such a passion for friends, family, the Lord, adventure – and she’s nearly fearless.

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Beza and Hannah

Beza’s summer is off to a great start. First, she finished her school year earning academic honors, and best of all, she enjoyed her teachers and classes.

Second, she got a job! Beza is a hard worker, but it’s not always easy to get a job at fifteen. She was hired by a cleaning company and is learning how to clean thoroughly and quickly. It’s extra fun because she and Annarose often work together. [I am more than a little excited to have two daughters who are being trained to be professional cleaners!]

Beza raising money for camp with the youth group.

Beza raising money for camp with the youth group. photo by Brent Billings