Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Few Lasts

Today is the kids and my last day in Portland...

I can say it has all been surreal. Mostly because we've been saying good-bye for over a month now.

I've had a few cry-my-eyes-out sessions. Not because I'm not on board with our move. Amazingly, I shared with Jeremy the other night (as we laid in our bedroom for the very last time) how I feel an immense amount of peace about the entire thing. I know that the Lord is going before us and has much for us to do, grow in and learn about down South.

No, my crying has come mostly because this move marks the end of an era of pure sweetness: Jeremy working from home, our kids being home (not in school), having ALL of our family in the same city for 3years. All of these sweet, sweet gifts.

I'm also laughing to myself this morning because this move will clearly mark a giant change in Harper. Over the past few days, she's definitely changed her phrasing and tone with Jeremy and I. Think a little more attitude from a girl who's really had none up until now. I'm not completely decided if its ok or not... but I definitely don't love it since it feels like a glimpse of her teenage years! I've been getting a lot of "Mom!" (insert teenage tone). "Mom, I'm not being selfish!", "mom, I'm not talking about that!", "mom, I want my space!"

I suppose it all falls under the adventures of change... I'm just so thankful for God's grace as we try to sort through it all!

Here are a few "last" pictures: our last visit to our favorite park, our last time hunting for tadpoles in our neighbor's pond, our last day playing outside with our favorite neighbor kids, our (first and) last morning in our house eating doughnuts together, the kids' last slumber party at Mimi's house...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Little I've Learned About Loss

Below is what I wrote this week for the blog I write for, Standing on Peace.  Every year, on the anniversary of my brother's death I am compelled to write.  Some years it's been full of memories, others full of anguish and questioning.  This year, was tender like every year, but I did feel like the Lord gave me some very clear things He has taught me through experiencing loss.  I am grateful for what God has done in and through me and my family since then.  He is so incredibly faithful...

This past weekend, I was more thankful than normal for our family get together.  It's a blessing when all of us can physically be together on such an important anniversary.

It's been eight years since we lost our brother, since my parents lost their oldest son, since so many lost their friend.  Eight years.  Yet I am amazed how loss is a continual process of learning, growth and healing.
Counter to what I thought eight years ago, when it comes to loss, there's never really this "arrival" to a permanent place of acceptance and peace.  Every year something slightly different strikes you sad, brings you hope, comes to memory.  It's fluid, raw, heartbreaking and beautiful, all in the same breath.  Yet the one constant we rest upon is the promise and hope we have in Jesus.  We will see my brother again.

My learning, growth and healing continue to show up in new ways.  And it happens when I am least expecting it.  But I'm forever grateful for how my brother's loss has changed me, shaped me and continues to impact me deeply.  The things which have impacted me may look vastly different from your own experience with loss.  I want to share a few pieces of my healing process.
  • I Don't Have to Explain or Understand Everything.  My brother's life story is a complicated one.  One that resembles a Prodigal Son story from the Bible (Luke 15:11-32).  There were a lot of painful and hard to accept moments in his life.  Many that left us wondering and questioning.  My brother's story had a beautiful redemption in that he came back to his faith in Jesus before he passed.  Through the years, I've come to rest in this fact: it's ok to not be able to explain it all.  I can trust what I know and understand: my brother had a beautiful heart and he is with Jesus.
  • My Process is My Own.  How we respond to loss in our life is as unique as we are.  There is no "one" way or even "right" way.  Some may want privacy, but I found I wanted an army of friends to rally around me.  Some may deal with the emotions of loss quickly, but I have processed these emotions slowly over time.  I've seen a vast array of responses even within our own little family.  Between us, we've done it all: lit candles, shared memories around a fire or table, written letters to him, looked through pictures together, sat at his graveside and talked to him, cooked his favorite meals.  I came to realize, whatever the process of remembering and healing looks like: It's ok. It's my own.
  • It Will Come.  At various points since our loss, I've experienced moments of enormous pressure and guilt over not being able to adequately remember and share my brother's life and legacy.  My husband and kids will never know him.  And I long to be able to do my brother justice in how I relate and share who he was.  After crying many frustrated, hot tears over this and praying about it, I received peace.  Jesus simply reminded me it will come.  The memories of my brother, qualities of his heart and impact he had on me will come out over time. I don't have to force it all at once, I don't have to be the most eloquent and I don't have to carry the burden of passing on his legacy perfectly.  Our love and experiences together were real, as is our loss. The story and impact of his life will come out in time.
  • Loss Makes People Uncomfortable.  This was one of the biggest surprises to me through our experience.  Of course, so many responded beautifully to our family.  But many people stayed away or did not fully acknowledge our loss.  Some gave unwanted opinions or advice.  It taught me alot about grace in this simple fact.  It's wasn't because they didn't care.  They simply did not know what to do.  I'm not entirely sure I know what to do either.  But eight years ago I learned a couple gems: it's important to show up, listen and be willing to sit in the loss with others, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
This year, I learned that my mom has clung to a verse through the years.  A verse I've not known well and it's beautiful.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his godly ones." Psalm 116:15

Have you experienced loss in your life?  How have you changed or what have you learned through it?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Week Under the Weather

This week found our family knocked out by a nasty virus that seems to be going around in our area.

It began with Bentley, then took out Jeremy and I (of course on the same day) and then finally got the best of Harper...

Thankfully our family has been the healthiest we've ever been this year with our incorporation of DoTerra essential oils into our natural health "bucket of tools"... But I guess you can't win them all ;)

Today is the first day I feel semi-normal and so begins the checking off the list of cleaning up and catching up: cleaning/sanitizing, laundry, phone calls, cooking, bill-paying, and still child-snuggling.

As Harper is trying to get better today, she began crying and said to me:

"mommy, my tummy is upset with you."

"Upset with me or with you, sweetie?" Was my response...

"With you..."


"Because it wants you to hold you me."

(I just love the things that still come out of her mouth at four!)

I'm thankful for health. Plain and simple.

Monday, April 8, 2013

And Just Like That... It's Not.

Last week our house was set to sell...

This week, it's back on the market.

We were extremely disappointed when our buyers rescinded their offer last week.

Thankfully it was not due to a failed inspection or problem on our end... It appeared to be buyer's remorse, as the wife never seemed to be on board with their offer.

Once Jeremy and I got over a gamete of emotions due to this news, we are back to the drawing board... And back to staging, open houses and appointments.

We are continuing to trust that the Lord is in all the details and that His plan is perfect - not ours.

We are continuing to pray for the right buyers to come along and for all the details in our move (in less than 2 weeks!) to come together.

Friday, April 5, 2013

One More Adventure in 2013...

We are expecting our third little Swift in October!!!

As if 2013 doesn't have enough adventures in store for us, we decided to end the year with a bang! This is how the Swift's roll - big moves & new babies in the same year.

We truly couldn't be more thrilled... And for those of you who know us well: this one WAS planned ;)

Harper and Bentley are excited as well and have already both cast their votes for name and gender. Harper would like a sister named Kathy and Bentley would like a brother named Benty ;) They've already shown how wonderful and helpful they're going to be as they've helped and shown concern for their mama through morning sickness.

Jeremy has been my angel through the past couple months... Picking up major slack when he's done working or home from trips so I could lay lifeless on the couch. He has always handled the first trimester with strength, joy and plenty of extra love for me.

Last week Jeremy and got to see our little peanut for the first time, and I will tell you that NEVER gets old. Babies are an absolute miracle! Our little one was snoozing through the ultrasound, but absolutely beautiful.

We are so excited and thankful for what God is doing in our family in 2013!

Monday, April 1, 2013

And Just Like That...

And just like that... It's sold.

The news came as a total surprise (to me) and brought a rush of relief... And tears.

The offer came in while Jeremy was traveling last week. He and I quickly talked about where we wanted the negotiations to settle. The next phone call I got from Jeremy, he told me the house was sold! For some reason, I expected more negotiations or a longer process. Nope.

Jeremy and I both expressed to each other what a huge blessing this is and the relief it brings of not having to carry our mortgage, while paying rent in SD. We are SO incredibly thankful...

But I couldn't help but break down in tears once I got off the phone with Jeremy. A flood of memories rushed through my mind of the time we've been blessed to be in this home.

Remembering all the parties- family birthdays, my father-in-laws 60th, my mom's 60th, my 30th birthday - all parties to go in the memory books! There have been play dates, family movie nights, Bible study nights, enjoying countless sunsets on the deck with a cocktail, hot drink or ice cream bar, two of our most favorite Christmas' so far, snow days, sprinkler days, family snuggle days and so much more...

Our little baby girl turned into a big girl in this house. Our newborn son turned into a little toddler (or should I say boy???) in this house.

Jeremy and I grew into a more mature marriage in this house... Battling fears, transitions, baby blues, lots of travel, and new parenting challenges. Growing in our love, faith, commitment, bravery and friendship. I think we'd both agree, the past couple of years have brought us to the strongest place we've ever been... Because The Lord has become the true center and foundation not merely an idea.

I am going to forever think of this time here in Oregon, on our red house, as the sweetest of times... The most precious of times. Because The Lord has used it for deep, authentic growth... For slowing down and strengthening the foundations of our family. For relying on Him and deepening our assurance in His faithfulness and goodness.

In reality, we still have to get through inspections and the appraisal tomorrow. Then it will be done, done. Please be praying with us that everything goes smoothly.