Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, blogland.  
I want to hang out more in 2015.  
Here's a little note from my family to yours.
Love you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mom's Christmas

I don't know how old I was when it occurred to me that my mom got the shaft at Christmas.  Her hours of shopping, wrapping, and planning were reciprocated with a $5 necklace with a cheap gold chain that said "#1 Mom" in red lettering on a crystal (plastic) heart purchased with (her own) money given to me at the "Little Shopper's Shop" at school.  I'm sure she and my dad exchanged gifts before they divorced, but what stands out in my mind is realizing that my mom had so few presents to open on Christmas morning, and feeling sad about it.

Was she sad?  "No," she assured me when I asked.  I chalked it up to one of those "Mom Things," where she just puts up a front because she's The Mom and that's what you do.

But now, I'm The Mom.  And I get it.

The first time the excitement washed over me was two Christmases ago, when Levi was two.  His gifts that year were a tool bench ($5 at Community Aid), a kid's guitar ($11 at Jubilee), a small train set ($10 at Ikea), and a few race cars.  His presents were physically big, but money was tight and I was so happy that thriftiness had yielded so well to make Christmas morning special for my little guy.    As soon as he was asleep, Herb, my mom, and I rearranged the living room to make space for the tool bench and carefully wrapped and placed other gifts under the tree.

Each year, intensity in Levi's spirit builds.  Will it climax and start to descend?  I'm sure, that will come, but for now, Christmas is pure magic in our house.  Even without Santa.  He asked me straight up if Santa was real, I said, "No, but it's ok if you want to pretend," and he's completely in to that.  "Santa is like a mascot!" He says.

Herb has been so miserable sick (on and off) for the past two months.  This week it's shingles. They are a special kind of horrible.  That being said, the present planning, buying, making, wrapping, arranging has fallen on me.  And because of my new camera, I made him promise to let that be my Christmas gift this year.

In a full circle moment a few minutes ago, I carefully arranged Levi and Herb's gifts under the skinny Christmas tree, stuffed three stockings, and tidied up the living room and kitchen.  I realized how amazingly excited I am for what the next 24 hours will hold and that that thrill has nothing to do with any gifts I may receive tomorrow.  The joy is in making Christmas happen for Levi (and Herb).

The gift is the title of Mom.

Thank you, mom for the love poured in to making Christmas special for me for so many years (decades).  I will pay it forward to the best of my ability.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thanks a latte, Grandma and Grandpa

The last two months have been incredibly eye opening in regards to my grandparents.  And when you learn more about your grandparents, you better understand your heritage, and ultimately, yourself.

Since their car accident in October (the month of Herb being sick and tons of blogging), my 91 year old grandpa has been in the hospital, then the nursing home, then again in the hospital, and ultimately back in a nursing home.  Previous to the accident, he's been in ridiculously good health for being 91 years old - so annoying/ironic that a car accident of all things ruined his clean bill of health.  

About once every two weeks, I pick up grandma and we go visit grandpa in the home.  His eyes light up when we come in.  "Do you think I'll be going home this week?" He asks.  He tells us about the terrible coffee, the other residents who "aren't quite all there," and his frustrations with physical therapy.  Then he apologizes for complaining, he knows he could have it worse.  

Seeing their despair over their temporary separation and his fire to regain health has truly been a blessing.  I'd never seen them show affection to each other (or anyone, really) before.  In fact, in the last ten years, I've been trying to say "I love you," and hug when I leave.  It's usually received with a side hug and a "Yep, you too." It's so awkward, yet heart felt.  Now he throws his arms up for a hug and a kiss (on the cheek of course) when she leaves.

Both grandparents are Mennonite, but they go to different churches. They have functioned this way for 64 years! Grandma is old order Mennonite (horse and buggy, no electric - well for the other congregants) and Grandpa is just "normal Mennonite"  (Mennonite USA if that's helpful).  Her hair is twisted in a bun and a white bonnet that covers ears is tied in a neat bow under her chin.  He has a driver's license and a television.  They were both brought up in The Church, but neither joined before they got married.  In fact, she spent a few years working at a general store/ gas station and had a driver's license at one time.  When they married they did not join The Church, until six months later, my grandma did.  She gave up driving and modern dress in favor of cape dresses and a simpler way of life.  

I've been thinking a lot about their way of life.  Their passion for reusing and conserving.  Their self control and doing without.  I've heard the joke that Mennonites are the original "green" people, but they did it for finances, not environment.  If you ask my grandma for a bag (like a grocery bag), you might get a bread bag.  She saves the salvage edge of fabric from the bolt to use to tie up newspapers and gifts.

Today I realized when Grandma, caught between two different worlds, was raising four young children she was always stuck at home.  She didn't drive herself (Church rules), but of course wouldn't have owned a horse and buggy like other church members because her husband had a car, so why bother?  Can you EVEN imagine being at home with FOUR kids, NO internet, NO babysitter/distraction  television, NO car, NO play dates, NO connection to other mothers.  

How much of the differences in their lives and mine are generational and how much are due to religious simplicity?  

For example, today I called Grandma on my way to pick her up and told her I was stopping for coffee, and asked if she would she like a cup.

"Oh, you mean coffee that's already made, not grounds?"  She asked.
"Yeah, like hot coffee."  I replied.  The Starbucks coupon I had was burning a hole in my pocket.
"I had a cup already this morning, I think I'm good."
"Even if it's a fancy one like a cappuccino or latte?"  I was trying to convince her.
"Well, I've never had one of those, so that does sound good!"  She sounded very excited.

You've got to be kidding me!!  87 years old and never having had a latte!!!  That really put things in perspective - and again I ask - is this "doing without" generational or more to do with religion?

They are truly a unique couple and I am so thankful to still have them in my life.  I have had so many thought provoking moments as a result of their presence.  

Friday, October 31, 2014


October 31 is finally here!I feel like I just finished training for a 5k and now I've crossed the finish line, except with a lot less muscle ache.  In fact, this 31 Day writing exercise has been incredibly therapeutic for me - especially in a month filled with drama, sickness, weariness, and loneliness.  Thank you for sticking around, reading, commenting, sharing, encouraging.   My 31 Day commitment was providential, and for that I am grateful.

I love a name with nick-names. I always used to think Elizabeth was the best name because there are SO many nicknames to be had - Ellie, Liz, Beth, Lizzie, Eliza, etc.  This made it a little disappointing when we named our son Levi.  Levi is four letters, it has no nick-name.  But, alas, I LOVE the name Levi, so I wasn't going to be deterred by the lack of nick-names.

But lo and behold, they still happened.  Lee.  Schmevi.  Lovee.  And even Leave.  

Leave - what a weird name to be called, but it happens, actually quite often.  Sometimes Schmevi even turns in to Schmeave.

When I read the writing prompt word today, I thought not of exiting or the singular word of the plural form of the things falling from the trees.  I thought of my Leave.  This kid is my everything.  I love the way he hugs now that he is child size (not baby-sized).  His arms wrap around my neck and squeeze tightly as he plants  a sweet kiss on my cheek.  He nuzzles his face into my neck and shakes it back and forth really fast.  He calls it a snuggle.  When he reaches for my hand, we hold whole hands now, not just fingers.  The other day, I realized that I am more used to the feeling of Levi's hand in mine than Herbs.  This is endearing, but it reminds me I need to hold Herb's hand more, too.

His questions spill out of his mouth at an alarming pace.  Why did that happen?  Why do you think that happened?  Who made that happen?  Who made that?  Why did God make that?  The questions are endless, but Herb reminds me that this is how Levi learns about the world.  Herb is so patient as a daddy.  He answers every question completely, intelligently, leveling with the four year old.  I can hear him explaining the different between our physical heart and the heart that wants to love people and do good things as I type.
He is our little news man and theologian.  Completely fixated on the rocket explosion that happened Tuesday night, he had to stay in from recess at school on Wednesday because he was too busy telling the class every detail about the rocket fire and didn't finish his work.  Last month, he corrected his teacher on the presence of the Trinity in heaven - when someone asked if God and Jesus both live in heaven, the teacher answered yes, and Levi said, "Actually...they are the same person."

Come to think of it - my little Leave is actually a little Herb.

I have been so blessed in the last ten years.  I have fallen in love twice and that love has been returned to extremes I will never be worthy of.  These two are the reasons I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can leave everything in God's hands.  He has been so faithful.  He always will be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Tonight I sat in a meeting with seven other amazing women who love Jesus and we ironed out details for next week's women's retreat - Girlfriend Getaway!  Girlfriend Getaway (GFG) is a retreat designed for women of all denominations and ages, as an time to be refreshed and restored in the Lord.  I wrote about it earlier this month, when I invited you to JOIN us!

The is the fifth season of GFG, and each year the theme is different.  This year the title is "First Things First: Becoming Better Balanced."

I love that I never know exactly what Cindy is going to teach about.  She gives us the general guidelines of each session, in order for those of us planning to chose thematic music and just be prepared for what God is doing in her heart, and eventually ours.

Honestly, I'm a little nervous about hearing this topic because I KNOW my priorities are whacked.  I know the ratio of prayer to Netflix is way out of proportion.  I know I am not always a great steward of my time.  But I also know Cindy will deliver truth in love and if I'm already feeling a little bit of conviction about the topic, God definitely has some work to do in my heart.

First things first...I am going to wrap up this post and go spend some time with my hubby.  First things first... I am going to pop out of bed earlier and start my day off the right way (quiet, coffee, Bible) and not be the last one to roll out of bed.  First things first... I am going to bring my concerns to the feet of Jesus instead of calling and texting and airing my concerns and grievances to social media as my first line of defense.

If you're interest in joining me at the Girlfriend Getaway Conference next Saturday, November 8, registration is open until Monday at midnight.  Visit for registration or more info.  Tell me if you're coming - I'll save you a seat.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014


"When I came out of Jen's belly, did she name me Levi?"

Whoa, that was a big question, springing from no where.  I am not sure why the matter of a name rocked my world, but to date, that was the hardest question for me to answer Levi concerning his adoption.  Maybe it was because there are parts of his story that I want to be so careful to paint in a positive light.  Maybe it was fear that he would ask what his given name was and then insist to be called that instead.  Maybe a combination of both.

Choosing my words carefully and speaking slowly, I responded.  "Actually, no, she didn't.  When Jen asked me and daddy to be your parents, we gave you the name Levi.   Herbert Levi."

"Oh, what was my other name?"  He asked, so innocently.

I told him, and he just said, "oh, okay," and then I quickly followed with, "Do you know why we named you Herbert Levi Suereth V?  Your name represents your family.  When you join a family, you get a new name."

I briefly explained maiden and married names, drawing similarities between my former last name and his cousins on one side of the family, and his last name being shared with family members on Herb's side.

I reminded him of a shortened version of his name story and the long standing tradition of Herbert L.  I told him for the first time why we changed his middle name (all the other Herberts are Herbert Lawrence) to Levi.

Levi means united.  

He let the Herb story sink in, chewed on my Levi definition, and then asked, "What's united mean?"

"Honey, it means that Daddy, you and I were all three different people from three different families and now God brought us all together and we are one family now.  We are united."

United in love, even beyond our family of three, carrying on in to our extended families.

Recently, at a bridal shower for one of Levi's aunts, another guest asked me how I knew the bride.  I never know in those situations how to respond.  Has Jen shared about Levi's adoption with this particular person?  Ironically, the room quieted when the question was posed.

"Well, I..." I stuttered.

Jen's mom (Levi's grandma) jumped in, "Michelle adopted Jennifer's son, but we've all adopted her."

I am united in something so much bigger than myself.  And that is the beauty and the blessing of family, whatever that looks like.


She reached for his hand.  "Oh, you're right there?" he said, surprised.  His peripheral vision couldn't sense her presence in the recliner beside his hospital bed.

"I'm right here," she assured him.

Her bonnet, untied, rested on the counter beside the sink in the hospital room.  Her stockings and shoes were neatly tucked into the corner.  His plaid shirt and loafers were in a hospital belongings bag, hastily thrown in the corner by me when she decided she would spend the night and the nurse brought in the recliner for her to rest on, too.  She too is recovering from the same car accident that is wrecking havoc on him.

The room was dark, dimly lit by a lamp I recognized from Ikea and the screen of the heart and blood pressure monitors.  The beep of the machines has become a calming sound to me, familiar, reassuring.  It sends me in to a state of mind where I am strong, task driven, and calm.  What's the next step to take?

He laid in bed, covered to his chin, tucked in under blankets, wires, and love, but still writhing in pain.  She rubbed his feet, I took a turn holding his hand and rubbing his arm.  The air was heavy, and yet the most sobering sight was the moment she resigned to her chair, removed her day bonnet, and replaced it with a night handkerchief.  Settling in for the night, she reached for his hand, and he realized she was right there.

Tonight they would spend together in the ICU, not like the previous ten nights separated one being at home and another being in rehab care.  Tonight she would be there with him while his pain slowly subsided, giving in to the morphine.  Tonight she would hold his hand and reassure him that he was not alone.  Tonight she would stay by his side until the morning when he awoke.  Or the middle of the night when prodding needles arrive to measure his blood cell volume.

Tonight I watched my grandparents be vulnerable like I've never seen before.  Tonight I prayed for peace and comfort and healing like I've never asked before.  Tonight I thought about the morning Herb asked me to be his wife.

Hooked up to a dialysis machine through a tube in his stomach, he gently coaxed me awake in the guest room at his parents house.  It was fall, and much like the last few weeks have been, that year we had been spending much time together listening to the drone of beeps from hospital monitors.

"... it's morning, and neither one of us will look great right now, and if we can love each other with messed up hair and bad breath, we can love each other anytime...I want to spend all my mornings with you."

Tonight I freeze the image of Herb waking me up, asking me to be his wife.  I flash to our wedding day, tearfully promising in sickness and health.  Tonight I looked at two people who have been loving and caring for one another for over six decades, literally living out "in sickness and health" and promising to be there when they wake.

Monday, October 27, 2014


I am so excited about today's word - FREE!  Free is one of my top five favorite words in the English language.  It gets my heart racing and feet grab the thing that is free.

Today's free thing?  A new kitchen table!!

The "Before" Picture - 60" round, medium oak pedastal table.  3 adorable kids.
It's been a long time since I shared any house related projects - in fact, it's been a while since I got to tap in to that part of my brain.  This project was so therapeutic for me today.  The weather was beautiful (so we could go outside and enjoy it while painting), the project was fairly quick (two hours with a preschool helper), and it was something easy enough that Levi could (kind of) help.

A few weeks ago, Melody offered me a free kitchen table.  Formerly her kids' home-school table, she knew I was kicking around the idea of replacing my rectangular table with a round one.  This table was a thrift find by Melody's mom, passed on to Melody, and passed on to me.  Thanks Melody and Denise! The round table fits SO MUCH better in our kitchen.  And I finally have space for a high chair (when the time comes!).

This was first experience painting a sizable piece of furniture, actually maybe painting any furniture.  After reading lots of tutorials, I was sold on wanting to re-do this table using Chalk Paint.  Chalk paint is awesome for distressing with a sand block and requires no prep-work (no sanding, stripping).  Name brand chalk paint is $35 a quart, plus the cost of wax.  I went the DIY route and made my own chalk paint using paint I already had mixed with Plaster of Paris.  I paid $8 for the plaster, and I could easily do 12 more tables with the amount I have left, which is good because now I want to chalk paint and distress everything I own.  Office desk and kitchen benches, I'm looking at you.

If you're looking for the recipe, check out this link: DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

I haven't completed the project - the table still needs a coat of wax or poly or shellac.  We'll see what the hardware store in the back of my dad's work van has to offer.

I am so happy with the way this turned out!  I am just waiting to find the perfect chairs to go with my table (let's hope they're free on the side of the road).

In case you're wondering where my kitchen table went, don't worry, I didn't get rid of it.  It was a gift from my bridesmaids.  It is in the basement being used as a sewing table.  But I do have another small kitchen table I'd love to pass on if anyone else needs one - yes that means I have three kitchen tables in my small townhouse right now.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Feeling alone sucks.

Feeling alone while you are literally always surrounded by people is even worse.  I know that is the reality for far too many people.  We grow tired and weary and need refreshed, and often that refreshment comes in the form of other people.

Someone taking time to sit down over coffee and really ask how you day was.  Someone driving insanely out of their way just to pop in and say hello.  Someone laying down their own agenda and to do list just to take time to visit.

Today I was the recipient of a visit that completely lifted my spirits.  And at the same time I can think of at least three other people who could definitely benefit from the blessing of a visit.  Oh, that I may see beyond my own weariness in order to be there for someone else.  That I may lay down my own burdens long enough to help someone else carry the load for a while.

Because wherever two or more people are gathered together, that is where God is. A strand of three is not easily broken.

This song has been on my heart for the last two days.  This morning during rehearsal, it made me reach my breaking point.  Lord, I need you.  I hope if you're in the place of weariness, this song can be an encouragement to you.  And I am praying that you don't feel alone.

Because you're not.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I am, by default, not an "outside" person.  I think it probably goes hand in hand with being nonathletic - when I was a kid I would choose a book, craft, TV show, or a round of Barbies before outside play every time.   However, I've noticed in the last few years a pretty solid pattern of my mood being affected by the weather, or rather, the seasons.  I don't realize it's bad until spring hits, and Herb says that every year I become bubbly and say, "I didn't realize how blue I was feeling [during the winter] but now I feel great!"

As much as I don't love "playing" outside, I do realize my need for vitamin D and the sun and the fresh air.  Also, I have realized the direct correlation between toddler napping/bedtime and time spent outside playing.  
But, can I be honest for a minute?  Some days we never go outside.  Those days, especially when they are beautiful, feel like a total waste to me.   I have no excuses except myself.  I get so wrapped up in what we need to get done inside or what errands need to be run that I have gotten very lax in taking advantage of our fenced in back yard.  Levi is also old enough now to know he wants and needs a play mate.  There's no more sending him out to play alone for a bit while I prepare dinner (again, the yard is totally fenced in and I can see him from the kitchen).  So, there's also laziness playing in to the scenario here - cause, you know, I'm not an "outside person."

I want to be.  I love the smells, the sun, the breeze.  It is so refreshing. I love the way Levi lights up with energy and excitement in the back yard. In fact, I have never enjoyed taking care of my yard until this year.  Levi and I worked together at planting a garden and had great excitement looking for red tomatoes.  Today the whole block was outside working on the leaf situation, and it was a nice sense of community (Levi was motivated by the leaf pile that awaited him).

I think part of the enjoyment of this spring/summer/fall has been how loooong and cold last winter was.  When the snow finally melted and the sun returned, it felt so new and refreshing, in fact, I can't believe we're winding down already.  Back to the early sunsets and cooler temps.  

Ok, so be honest - how much time are you and your kids outside a day?  What do you do?  Any suggestions for what a mom and one four year old can do for fun outside beyond playing sports and taking walks?  What do you do to combat the seasonal blues?  Anyone want to send their slightly older kids over to play sports with Levi in our yard?

Thursday, October 23, 2014


She approached me after church with a look of understanding, followed by a hug, and then a prayer.

"I know how hard this is," she said as she wrapped her arm around my shoulders.

That's really what we all need, right?  Empathy?  Someone to understand what we're going through, someone to validate life, situations, scenarios are hard.  Someone to reassure that you are not alone.

Relationships - the hands and feet, the heart, the body of Christ - are what hold me up some days.  Support, prayer, sanity.  Thanks guys. I am not alone.

And neither are are not alone.  You are not the only one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Poor second children.

I am not one, my husband is not one, and my son is not one.  Therefore, when another child comes in our family, that is a characteristic that will be completely unique to them.  As some of you know, in the world of the first born, you are the sun.  Everything revolves around you because you came first.  Oh, how I still see this in my personality now (oops, sorry people who have to interact with me).

Does that mean a second child is loved any less?  Oh, heck no.  In fact, to some degree I am even MORE excited to become a mommy (again) because I already know how fun, rewarding, and beautiful it is.

It's just that this time, I'm not a nervous, emotional, depressed wreck about the adoption.  

This adoption has been reminiscent to someone who had a surprise pregnancy for their second child. "SURPRISE!" said God, "This is the path where I'm leading you!  It's totally unexpected, but I'm here and you've got this!"  

It's so funny to think about where I was five years ago when I was waiting for Levi.  I had bought 60+ onesies, I had the nursery ready to go, I checked and reexamined and rearranged our baby registry on a daily basis.  With EVERY SINGLE potential situation that we were notified of by the adoption agency, I started planning our life with that baby.  I imagined what it would be like to bring that baby home, with that birthday and that birth family scenario (from whatever I knew).

This time?  So, so different.

We've had our profile shown four times.  I'm excited when I get an email from the agency with a potential situation, but I'm realistic (but not pessimistic) about the outcome.  I'm expecting to wait a while and  I COMPLETELY trust God's timing right now. I am just so content.  What a blessing that is.

The nursery is starting to get done.  We have a room that is ready for a crib (which is in the attic) and is already equipped with a dresser and rocking chair (thanks Steph!) and has some babyish art on the wall.  I'm definitely not getting the crib down until it's time - for now we have some of Levi's bigger toys hanging out in there, like a trampoline and an art easel.  I did move all of my craft stuff to the basement and set up a studio down there, so at least that is done.

I have purchased ONE outfit (seen hanging on the nursery wall), and it will stay that way till baby comes home and I know if we need to buy pink things or get blue things out of the attic.  We have made a baby registry like we did last time, but this time there are only 40 things on the registry, 20 of which are cloth diapers.  I have slowly been buying things (used) that are on the registry (hello sleep sacks and nursery specific bedding), so I actually should update that again.  I think all we need now are diapers and bottles.

Last time, I would spend hours writing down lists of names and researching their meanings.  I was too embarrassed to talk to Herb about names back then - we were different people.  He wasn't in baby mode yet, and I didn't want to seem vulnerable.  Now we talk about names with the ease that we talk about weather - it's a pleasant conversation that happens very occasionally.

Five years ago I cried a lot.  I wanted a baby so badly.  Everything reminded me of my empty arms.  This time, yesterday was the first time I cried - 10 months in to the process!  And it was probably more related to Herb being in the hospital than anything else.  As I was leaving the hospital, going out to my car, I passed a gentleman with arms full of pink gift bags and an overnight bag.  I just knew that he was a new dad returning to spend the night with his new family.  For a brief moment I got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye grieving and wishing that a new baby was the reason for our hospital stay instead of Herb's sickness.  But like I said, I don't think that really counts, because I was already emotional about Herb being sick.  

The second time is so different, yes, but it some ways, it's so much better.

Oh, Lord.  Thank you for your faithfulness in this waiting time.  Thank you for filling my empty arms and aching heart with a beautiful boy who made me a momma.  Thank you for your provision in bringing us this far in a second adoption - a place I NEVER thought we'd be.  Thank you for blessing me with contentment.  Thank you for giving me a life partner who shares a heart for children and parenting and serving you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


After I shared my thoughts on Herb being sick, a friend reminded me that perfect love casts out fear.

Tonight as Herb and I sit in a hospital room, him still feverish and humorously flagged as a "fall risk," I am praying that my peace not be stolen.

Because, as his mother reminded me, Herb is, and always has been, the Lord's.

The doctors are trying to find the cause of his extreme fatigue and fevers, and turning over rocks to do so.  They are stumped to a degree, which is unnerving, but at the same time I am grateful that his transplanted kidney is not a concern. 

So I will rejoice and be gentle in spirit because I know The Lord is near. I will not let my heart be anxious about anything.  With thanksgiving,  prayer, and petition, I will present my requests to The Lord who will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus and give me peace that passes understanding.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I've got a hot topic on my heart to write about tonight, but I'm nervous to share because I sincerely don't want to offend any of my friends or family that fall on either side of the argument.  So, let me preface by saying that each family deserves the right to make decisions for themselves when it comes to traditions, values, and beliefs.  You know what's best for your family, and you should follow your convictions, not mine.

I feel like every year when October rolls around Herb and I have this same discussions.  How, as Christian parents, will we handle Halloween?

For us, it's all about honoring God with our intentions.

Herb found a great article that gives facts about where traditions are rooted, and explains the spectrum of positions Christians tend to have about Halloween.  And like I said, I know people in all positions, and I can see most sides of the arguments. It's kind of a long article, but for me, the last paragraph of the article summed up my feelings perfectly:
There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.
In fact, I LOVE that last year trick-or-treat night gave me the opportunity to not just meet one or two of my neighbors, but my entire street and block.  Now, mind you, last year I was awkwardly intentional about introducing myself to each neighbor and shaking their hand.  But it's helped in the last 12 months to put faces to homes when we take walks or do other things out and about in the borough.

There are two churches in our town that are really on to something awesome.  They are setting up shop in the town square and handing out free hot dogs, hot chocolate, and candy.  Oh how I'd love to jump on that band wagon.  What a cool opportunity to meet people in the community and literally shine light in the darkness.

It's a fine line.  I'm constantly checking my heart - am I wanting to participate in this, that, or the other thing because it feels like everyone else is, or because I truly feel like that is the best way I can honor God?  And that goes for pretty much every life decision, not just what I'm going to do next Friday night.

As Christians, we have the choice reject, receive, or redeem things of "the world."  Next week, I am hoping to help redeem.

I could write more - but I feel like I'm beating a dead horse.  It seems like every blogger has touched on this issue, and you've probably read them all anyway!  But if you're looking for one more to read, I can really identify with this one, too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


The temperature took a big dip today, and after a little Sunday afternoon nap, the next fitting thing to do was spend the evening in the kitchen.  Levi and I turned out some peanut butter cookies and banana bread.  Then, as I considered what to cook for dinner, the over ripe avacado and dozen tomatos caught my eye...

Burrito bowls!  

This is my favorite meal to make right now.  Rice with lime juice, refried beans, sautéed veggies, cheese, sour cream, homemade guacamole, and salsa with my garden tomatos.

It took me till I was 30 to I realize that Mexican food was my favorite.  In fact, my hubby and girlfriends pointed this out when they planned me a 30th birthday Mexican fiesta.  

So, next time you're looking for a quick yummy meal that hits all the food groups, try my chipotle knock off.  Te best part is it can be as homemade or canned/purchased as you want it to be!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Last week, a friend posed this question, "What would you do if you weren't scared?"

I loved that one person named all their "fears" which were actually a list of their accomplishments over the last several decades.  As in, they had not let fear stop them from doing anything.  Sometimes, they said, you just have to do the hard things, and know that God will be on the other side of which ever door you open.

Herb's been sick.  Again.  Whatever he's got keeps morphing in to new symptoms and between several doctor visits and lab work, they're still not sure what's holding him down.  He's missed a few days of work, and the days he does work have ended with him sleeping on the couch five minute after dinner, if he makes it that long.  He's not sick enough to warrant a hospital stay, but not well enough to function normally.

Today, day ten of my beloved's sickness, my attitude sucked.  I was tired of playing nurse and single mom.  Fed up with entertaining, starved for adult conversation.  Physically, it's not taxing, but emotionally and mentally, I was completely in the gutter.

But after thinking about the Facebook post about fear, I put my finger on it.  Herb being sick brings me fear.  That doesn't feel good.

10 years ago I snubbed my nose at fear pursued a relationship with a man who had been sick his whole life and would be sick many more times over the rest of his life.  I will never ever regret that decision.  Herb was created for me, and I for him, of that I am certain.

It's just that when he's healthy, especially when it stretches on for years at a time and we go on to start building a family, and plan to keep moving forward in that direction, I begin to completely take for granted the fact that he'd ever been sick.

I'll never forget during our wedding vows, literally choking/sobbing out the words "in sickness and in health," because I KNEW that was our reality.  I knew this was a path we would be walking.  And I am still grateful to be walking it with him.

Now that I have a son of my own, I think about what it must have been like to be Herb's mom and relinquish control of his well being to another woman.  Would I care for him the same we she could have?  Will I catch symptoms?  Will I follow up with doctors?  Will I advocate for his care?  Oh, how I am trying my best.

But today, fear brought me down.  And instead of it making me more compassionate, it made me a jerk.  An impatient, selfish, lazy, emotional diva.

But today I found encouragement.  I remembered the village standing around us.  I was comforted by an empathetic voice as tears rolled down my face as I grilled hot dogs.  I took in deep breaths of crisp fall air while a sweet little boy hugged me, helped me clean up the yard, and lavish me with compliments about my kindness.  I opened this blogging window and began to pour out my feelings, reaffirmed in my life's choices and inspired to try harder.  I found quiet and peace when the sick one and the little one were asleep before 8 pm and I got a little bit of "me" time.

Tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow I will live my life worth the calling I have received.  I will be more focused, I will be more graceful.  Tomorrow I will remind myself that fear does not win.  Instead of fear, I chose love.  I did it ten years ago, and I promise I will do it again every day for the rest of my life when it comes to that man who made me his wife.

(As I was writing this, I realized I blogged an almost identical post a few years ago.  Can we say hot button?)

Friday, October 17, 2014


This month of writing for 31 days seemed daunting at first - did I have enough thoughts to blog every day?  Oh, life has not ceased to provide me with relevant topics for each random word assigned.

Today's word, LONG, represents my day.  My day started on the couch.  A rarity for me, I stayed up later than Herb (who was sick and went to bed early) specifically to watch TV.  I'm playing the hulu/netflix game right now - you know the one where you're binge watching old episodes of a show on netflix, cramming them in, hoping to finish in time to watch the current season on Hulu.  So last night, I pretended I was in college and stayed up till two am watching netflix.  It was kind of fun.

But then the phone rang several times before 8 am with missed calls from my mom.  Never a good sign.

My grandparents were in a car accident this morning.  They seem to be doing ok, but it was a day filled with coordinating babysitting, moving car seats, playing phone tag, relaying messages, comforting the worried, and making plans for the days ahead.  My mom sprang in to action, and it was cool to see she and her sister come together to care for their parents.  My sister, who lives in Florida, was worried sick, and made significant headway calling hospitals to get the current status of the patients.  Ironically, she was the first one to find out my grandpa was being moved to another hospital.  My brother, went straight from work to Grandma and Grandpa's house to mow their lawn and take care of the leaves, then met me at the hospital for a late night chat with Grandpa.

In the face of catastrophe, my heart was warmed to see family spring in to action.

It was a long day, but it ended well.  Late night conversations in a hospital room are my love language.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  A one on one visit with Grandpa gave me time with him I don't normally take, and that's a fault of my own.  In fact, I can't think of the last time I sat alone with him - it was probably fifteen or sixteen years ago on a drive to piano lessons, which he would taxi me to occasionally if my parents had to work.

Long days don't always end well, especially for both Grandma and Grandpa, bruised and beat up, who have long nights of trying to get comfortable enough to sleep tonight.  But tonight I am grateful that this long day didn't end any worse than it did.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I touched on this new season of life a couple weeks ago when I talked about all the fun things you can do when you only have one kid, and he is past the toddler stage.  There's another weird scenario I've been adjusting to in this season -

Free time!

Levi is in school three mornings a week.  I was worried I would be bored.  I was imagining I would have time to read books.  That my house would be spic and span.  
But it's not.  Where does the time go? No really, tell me if you know.

One morning I usually play catch up on my one year Bible reading plan.  It would be more accurately titled "reading the Bible in 52 sittings." Ok, that is an exaggeration.  And, after all, spending my prexchool time reading the Bible isn't actually a bad thing! I would just prefer to wake up earlier than everyone else and do it.

Speaking of waking up, I've adjusted very easily to not waking up early to babysit Charlotte like I did last school year.  I'd be embarrassed to tell you my average wake up time.... Let's just say we have to rush to get Levi to school at 9.

It feels weird to have free time.  7.5 hours a week.  It feels selfish and yet I know that time is only as selfish as I make it. 

Is this like the early stages of empty nest syndrom?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Life, I have found, in thirty years, is completely unpredictable.

Who would have thought I would marry the first boy that caught my eye at band camp.  I thought surely I would have to be set up on a blind date with someone who was actually blind before I found love.  Oh, how I was wrong.

Then there's my smaller man who fulfilled big hopes.  The twists and turns of his adoption story never cease to amaze me.

A year ago when another adoption seemed so distant and just sheer discussion caused dissension between Herb and I, I would have never dreamed we'd be walking the path we are this year.

Applied, approved, and waiting.

Waiting for the next unpredictable curve ball life will throw.

This round of adoption has thus far been a total example about the lessons being in the journey, not the arrival. For example, just tonight a complete stranger called to offer us help with our adoption.  It would be awesome even if she was the only one, but the truth is that she's the third.  Help has come out of the woodwork, not pursued by us, but led by God, and poured into our laps.

God's plan is not always clear.  It is not always easy.  But it is always good and it is always best.

Of this, I am living proof.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Levi is just on the edge of getting a chore chart.  He's very chart oriented - the sticker thing has helped conquer several milestones.  We're thinking of making a weekly dealing with chores and a complete chart would receive a paycheck - aka allowance.  What do you think - is four too young for this?

I'm finding that the best tool in teaching Levi to put things away has been to have lots of bins, boxes, and bags.  All his cars go in one bin, planes in another.  All the pieces to that nice big wooden train go in a bag.  Animals are kept together beside the bin of musical instruments.  At this point in time it works.  How well, you ask?  Well, he got a Play Mobil set of sports players and their equipment (think 20 Lego sized pieces) for Christmas (10 months ago) and he still has ever sing piece of the set.  Winning!

That being said, I think Levi has proven he's capable of putting like toys away and is ready to make the big toy plunge this Christmas to...


The real ones.  Not the Duplos or Mega Blocks.

I'm pretty excited.  I want to make some kind of container to hold the Legos that he can also use as a construction base.  And bonus - Daddy saved all his childhood Legos and they are ready to be re-gifted into the hands of an eager little boy.

How old were your kids when you introduced Legos?  And chore charts?

Monday, October 13, 2014


Fittingly enough, on a holiday where I almost always had off school or work, today marks the anniversary of the last day I officially woke up in the morning and went to work as a music teacher.  It was a Monday, Columbus Day, 2010.  Rather than sleep in, I was headed to Harrisburg for a music teacher in-service day.  Herb and I had just returned from a weekend trip out of town, and I had known for four days that there would be a very small possibility that Levi might become our son after all.  I spent that day in a complete fog.  I remember I took a music technology class and instead of learning anything music related, I was sneaking on to Facebook and email to see if there were any baby updates (there were! but nothing officially yet!).  On my last official day as a music teacher, I was completely worthless as a music teacher.

I never planned to be a stay-at-home mom.  In fact, we planned to use the school district's day care or planned for Herb to stay home with children, since he worked only part time for a few years.  But then I listened to a sermon series based on Song of Solomon and felt completely convicted to change my "career" path.  Amazingly enough, Herb had listened to the same series and we arrived at the same conclusion for our family separately.  It was pretty cool.  There are days when I sincerely miss our double income, but other than that, I have not looked back or regretted a single day.

That being said, I still value my time spent in the classroom.  In fact, I learned some great lessons as a music teacher that I have since applied to motherhood / life in general.

1.  Yelling solves nothing.  Oh my goodness, I was a screamer my first year of teaching.  It was my default and I didn't realize it was bad OR that there were other options.  A very kind and seasoned teacher pulled me aside one day and gently corrected me.  Wow, that was impactful.  Not to say that I never raise my voice with Levi, but I certainly think I worked a lot of the loudness out of my system with those poor kids at that first long-term sub job I had.

2. Sometimes in life, your bare minimum is okay, and maybe even necessary for survival.  I read recently that the CEO of Wal-Mart (a wife and mother) said, "No, I can't have it all.  I can't be the best CEO and the best mom.  I can be 90% mom and 10% CEO or vice versa.  Sometimes some areas of my life suffer in order for others to flourish.  It's the ebb and flow of life and I just need to make sure that one is not suffering all the time."  It was kind of a depressing thing to read at first, but then I realized that's kind of how we deal with anything - you have to make priorities and give the most important things your best attention.  Bare minimum got me through college and the first few years of teaching and still allowed me to nuture my relationship with a cute drummer who later became my boyfriend and husband.  I wouldn't have wanted to put more time in to my studies in college because I am grateful for the relationships that were built instead.  A couple years ago, I blogged more about this here.

3. I can do hard things.  College was freaking mind numbingly hard and exhausting.  I ALWAYS had at least 18 credits, often a part time job, and was expected to put in hours of practice on top of classes, studying, and rehearsals.  We would stand outside of our music theory class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, eyes bleary from sleep deprivation, and one deep breath away from the ugly cry in fear that today would be the day that brought our music education dreams to a crashing halt.  The first years of teaching seemed like a breeze compared to college for me, but I felt so accomplished to have achieved my goals and land my dream job.

4. If you love something let it go... I love music.  I love teaching.  I wanted nothing more in life to be a music teacher.  I wanted that even more than I wanted a family for a long time.  It rocked my world to think about the fact that I killed myself to get a music degree only to turn around a few years later and just let it go.  But, God, in His goodness, knows the desires of my heart - He put them there!  It amazes me the way I have been given opportunities to stay connected to music and teaching and teaching music.  MS Music Studio is booming with a dozen students.  I am loving planning and teaching pre-school Sunday School and helping with VBS.  If you're looking for a cool story, a couple years ago I blogged about how I decided to become a music teacher.

5. First I am Michelle (follower of Jesus), Secondly I am a Wife/Mother, Thirdly I am a Daughter/Friend/Family Member, Fourthly I am a Teacher.  My PRINCIPAL said this to me my first year of teaching.  He reminded me that although teaching was a great career and a rewarding and diffult job, it was not my identity.  He spoke those life roles in order of priority to me and said if any of my other roles ever needed me more than the teacher role did, I could count on him to support me in that venture - and he meant in the day to day routines of school and even later in the life choices I made.  That was POWERFUL, especially coming from my principal.

Someday when the kids are grown, I am hoping I can ease my way back in to the school system.  But even if that doesn't happen, I will still be grateful for my years in the classroom, the friendships made, the students that touched my life, and the music that was created.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Homecoming, 4 Years Later

In Suereth Family History, today's date is too special not to acknowledge.  October 12, 2010 is the day I met my son and became a mom.  A day has not gone by (bad ones or good) that I have not been completely humbled by this act of God and this act of love by Jen.

If you'd like to re-read about Levi's homecoming, that story is here.

This morning we watched "Our Adoption Adventure" in movie form.  Levi was really in to it.  I love seeing his story come to life in him and in his four year old understanding.  Like I said yesterday, I love teaching him that this is his normal, and it is good.

Happy "Gotcha" Day, Levi!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Today's word seems like it has an obvious choice; by trade I am a music teacher, by life season I am a how to be human teacher (also called "MOM").

First a shameless plug - I am almost at capacity, but if you know anyone in the Manheim / Lititz area looking for piano, clarinet, or guitar lessons, visit

Being a mom is the hardest teaching job ever.  I little to no previous experience, education, or training.  I've got a great co-worker (Herb) and an amazing boss (God), and some really responsible friends working in nearby departments (other moms and responsible adults).  When something new arises, I have a panel of people for which to bounce things off, depending on the situation.  Is this normal?  What should we do next?  Is this a big deal?  What's a fair expectation?

One of the things I've been thinking about a lot today is the fact that we are teaching Levi what "normal" is.  In one situation in particular, our VERY open adoption, there is no frame work for normal, I'm shooting in the dark a little bit - but also discussing with Herb, using my sounding board, and praying to be led by the Holy Spirit.

For example, today we took a huge step in the realm of open adoption and shared a monumental milestone.  Very fittingly too, as tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the day we met Levi and he became our son.  We have enjoyed a very loving relationship with Levi's immediate and extended birth family, sharing big life events, holidays, birthdays, and quality time together.  Every time we share new milestone in the journey of open adoption I ask myself (and sometimes our social workers) if this is "normal."

But the thing is, nothing about our relationship is normal.

And that's a good thing.

In the pre-adoption days, I used to be fearful of an open adoption.  Would our future birth mother change her mind if she spent too much time with our future child?  Would it be too confusing?  I knew studies had show that a semi-open to open adoption proved to be healthy for the adoptee and birth families, but it was still so hard to wrap my brain around.

It didn't seem normal.

But then came Levi (and everyone else attached to him by heritage and blood and love).  And that changed everything.

The beauty of raising a child who was born with tabula rasa is that through love, conviction, guiding, and relationships, we get to teach Levi what normal is.  A new kind of normal.  But to him, it will be his normal.

Normal to celebrate birthdays with not one mommy but two, not four grandparents, but seven.

Normal to have a family tree that looks more like a thick forest where branches intertwine and vines twist together, and sometimes you're not where each characteristic of the tree came from but it looks beautiful so you just appreciate it for what it is.

Because for that tree, it is normal.

Source: Blue Jay Barrens


I have been taking care of a sick patient for the last few days.  Herb has had a high fever, which causes some concern for people who have had organ transplants.  He seems to being doing okay, but is on bed rest orders through the weekend, and we're still waiting on some test results to clear up some theories.  In the mean time, would you join in prayer for speedy recovery for Herb?

Times like this make me remember to not take his good health for granted.  Too often I get comfortable with healthy Herb and I forget what a tough road he has had.  These are good reality checks and as the wife of a man who works really hard, I'm grateful for him to have some time to relax (even if it's not on his terms).

If you're looking for a back story about Herb's health, you can start here.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Today's word of the day in my thirty one days of one word blog prompts has inspired me to tell you about an excellent women's ministry because I'd love for you to JOIN me !!

That is, if you're a woman. :)

Girlfriend Getaway is an organization I've been involved with for four years.  After I went to the first retreat in 2010, I knew I had to weasel my way on to the team and help serve.  I joyfully help lead worship along with some other very talented and Jesus-loving musicians. 

Girlfriend Getaway exists to help "satisfy the weary and refresh the faint."  A day of pampering and refreshment is a beautiful thing, but paired with excellent Bible teaching, it is absolutely priceless. 

 Cindy Foor, the leader and founder, is an experienced Bible teacher with solid theology and an amazing sense of humor.  The theme this year is "First Things First."

If you'd like to join me at Girlfriend Getaway in November 8 at the Eden Resort in Lancaster, visit We will also be in Deleware in April 2015.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I so badly want to be a consistent parent.  Consistent discipline, consistent in expectations, consistent in routine.  I want to say what I mean and mean what I say.

But it's reallllllllly hard to be consistent at 4:00 am.

You know what else is really hard to be at 4:00 am?  Graceful.

I have completely set myself up for this.  After being hard core about Levi being a self-soothing baby and sleeping in his own room from day 1 (which he rocked at), I fell of the wagon, hard, about a year ago.  Changes in our family life, routine, and whatever else, led me to let a sneaky little three year old crawl in our bed every night at 3:00 am.

First it just happened on vacation and the week following, and I let him stay, knowing it was out of the ordinary.  And then when I started babysitting Charlotte last year and had to be up super early, I justified the family bed thinking, "well I'm going to be getting up in an hour or two anyway."  One thing led to another, and before I knew it, Levi owned the place.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing more precious than toddler snuggles.  And we have a king size bed, with PLENTY of room for all three of us.  Levi is also not the kid who makes an "H" with us while sleeping, he just wiggled his way between us, and slept so soundly that most of the time I didn't even know he was there.

Sleeping habits die hard - at least we have conquered the pacifier and the night time diaper...

I have seen the light - and I don't mean the hall light that we leave on all night.  I am not sleeping great while sharing a pillow, and Levi was sneaking in earlier and earlier, sometimes spending most of the night in our bed.  It had to end (thanks for the intervention, Wendi).

Ugh.  I did not follow through with what I said to him for all those years.  I bent too much.  And I am paying for it now.

Last night was especially horrible.  He was up no less than 10 times.  The problem with "crying it out" when you're four is that now you have all these new words and ideas of how to get your mom to come check on you/let you in her bed.

"I think there's a dragon in my curtain!"
"Who will protect me?"
"I need covers!"
"I need to go potty!"
"I want my music on!"

And then there was the "Mommy!!!" that just got screamed on repeat for 10 minutes.

Oh people, please pray for me.  I think last night was complete rock bottom, so it can only get better from here, right?  By the grace of God and having two people against one, we did not fold last night.  It cost Herb and I HOURS of sleep, it cost Levi some toys, but in the end he went to sleep in his bed without us holding his hand (both proverbially and literally).

I knowwwww this is my fault.  Let this be a lesson to other young parents.  Say what you mean - and mean what you say - and don't change the game half way through.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


This past summer it dawned on me that we are in a very unique stage in our family.  All of our friends with children have several of them, therefore, the children Levi's age (4) are all older siblings by this point.  So we are entering a season where Levi is interested and able to do a lot of fun family activities, and there is no one younger to slow us down.  It kind of feels like the parenting/family jackpot.

Realizing this, I have been going out of my way to do things that we wouldn't be able to do with a baby.  It's the summer/fall of GO.

For example, on a whim, today Levi and I went to see "Moses" at Sight and Sound Theater.  A friend offered us free tickets, we had nothing else on the calendar, and my boy is finally old enough that I would trust him to sit through a major musical production (which he did).  We had a beautiful time.  And the show - just wow - if you're in Lancaster County, you've got to go see it.  I've heard that if you go to the box office 30 minutes before show time and have a Lancaster County driver's license, you can get 50% off.

Maybe some of you would enjoy a list of all the fun things we've been discovering to do (at amazing prices).  Also - as the colder months approach, I would LOVE to hear more ideas to keep us busy this winter!

- Bike rides around town and on trails like Lancaster Junction and Linear Park

- Crafternoons at AC Moore - this summer they had free craft time for kids from 1-3pm on Wednesdays

- Fall/Community Festivals - we watch for signs, and check out the blog listed below for these events

Five Fun Free Family Things to Do - a weekly list of cool things to check out every weekend.  We've consulted this MANY times

- Hershey Park - This is an amazing amusement park and I think we found the most cost effective way to do it (for sports fans).  The Hershey Bears have 3 games a year where the giveaway at the game is Hershey Park tickets for the following summer.  So, you buy three hockey tickets ($60), then go to the hockey game (fun, I guess), and come home with three Hershey Park tickets (amazing deal).

- Hershey Park Chocolate World - this is totally free to just ride the "how we make chocolate ride," so we go several times a year, ride the ride, get the free sample and then buy a couple cookies.  Plus, they honor souvenir cups from Hershey Park (which we purchased and get refilled for $1).

- Knoebels - FREE admission and parking.  If you pack a lunch, even cheaper!  Because you only pay per ride, we got out of there for about $50 for the day (including food)

- Lancaster Barnstormers Baseball - Tuesday nights this summer were cheap, like $3/ticket, and then they had $1 hot dogs

- Manheim Township Library- I know everyone can go to story time, which is usually a great activity, but this library has open FREE PLAY.  As in, the kid room is open for large blocks of time and filled with duplo blocks or set up with like a Melissa and Doug food market.  Honorable mention goes to the parachute play story time (which you have to sign up for).

Railroad Museum of PA- turns out you can get FREE tickets from the Lancaster Library!  Great full size trains to explore and several rooms of train tables to occupy a preschool boy for hours.  The Lancaster Libraries actually have museum passes to MANY local museums.

- Roadtrips - Fredericksburg, VA and Pittsburgh, PA are our favorites!  Baltimore and NYC get an honorable mention. ;)

Splash Park (FREE) - there are two in Lancaster, one on Ross St, one on Crystal St

- Strawberry picking - the icing on the cake was making jam together!

Monday, October 6, 2014


I remember while we were waiting for Levi, one day my mom asked me how my heart was doing.  I replied,

"I see the way God worked out finding me a husband, which seemed impossible, so I just HAVE to trust Him for a baby."

As time wore on and I grew weary of the wait, I remember thinking, "I know God CAN bring us a baby, I just don't know if He will."

Of course, we all know that God DID work out our family, to a degree of completion and love that we could not have planned. Even now, when I face seasons of trial, heartbreak, or devastation, I can recognize God's sovereignty and goodness, despite the outcome...but I always come back to the thought of knowing God CAN do anything, yet that doesn't mean He will.

I guess sometimes that's why I feel like it's a struggle for me to pray.  It's hard to ask for specifics and make myself vulnerable, just to feel like the odds are stacked against me anyway.  But to some extent that is the point of prayer - letting myself be vulnerable to the Almighty.  But it's so much easier to say to ask for things in prayer with the ultimate caveat of HIS will being done, and asking for peace and guidance to whatever that will is.

The great unknown situations remind me of a JJ Heller song.  She sings,

"Sometimes I don't know what You're doing, 
but I know who You are."

Being well read and vested in God's word helps me to be firm in who HE is, who I am in HIM, and the rest will follow.  And like I said yesterday, sometimes the blessing is in the waiting for Him to move.

If the video above doesn't play, click here to watch Who You Are.

(I'm following along with the writing prompts from Heading Home this month.  Each day is a different given word, stretching me to explore new and old thoughts through the process of writing.  If you're interested, join me!)

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I want to buy a house. Like really really really.  I stalk Zillow and Trulia and make so many comments about houses in my town that every sign seen in a yard, whether political or for sale or whatever else, causes my four year old to say, "Oh, I'll take THAT house!"  

But for now, we're stuck.  We own a home that won't be selling anytime soon in a town we won't be living in anytime soon, if ever again.  After three years, I feel very vested in our small Lancaster County town, and I want to make this our forever home.   By forever home, I mean this town - certainly not our three bedroom townhouse rental.  Oil heat, old windows, nasty carpet, tight kitchen, unfinshed/unfinishable basement and attic.  Don't get me wrong - I do LOVE our home. It is a huge upgrade from the cave where we lived when we first moved to this town, but I'd rather it not be our forever home.

I want to freely paint walls.  I want to knock out cabinetry.  I want fresh carpet. I want a new dishwaher.  I want the world, I want the whole world.  Give it to me now.  Just call me Veruca Salt.  I kind of suck.


In spite of all of those "I wants," I am very aware of the "I needs" that have been met in the provision of this house (read about that here).  In fact, I would venture to say that our "stuck-ness" has forced a level of contentment in my heart.  There is no way we can afford something bigger/nicer in the rental market, and there is certainly no way we will be financially able to buy a house anytime soon (how do people actually save 20% down?!), so I must find contentment where we are.  And by the grace of God, I usually do.  

(Until the "perfect" house around the corner is up for grabs and I start imagining my life there...and then I need reality and heart checks.)

I was pondering this theory tonight and stumbled on to an article in Christianity Today called, "Blessed are the Broke." The general gist of the article was that as American Christians we often associate "blessing" with health and wealth.  Even if we out rightly disprove of Prosperity Gospel, somehow this sole definition of blessing still creeps in.   However, that leaves out those who aren't receiving those same "blessings."  The writer challenged that interpretation of being blessed, reminding us that in times of desperation and suffering, financial or otherwise, we are blessed to have to drop to our knees and depend on God for the next step.

Romans 5 says, "... we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

So today, instead of being overwhelmed about being "stuck," I am going to be grateful for the contentment it produces and the blessing that THAT is.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


"This is so dorky,"  I said to Heather as we sucked on reeds and pushed clarinet pieces together.

"Yeah, I know," she answered, "Everyone I who I told that we were doing this tonight told me I was a nerd."

Nearly ten years had passed since our duo performed together, but last night, Heather and I reunited for a Friday night filled with baked goods, chardonnay, and clarinet duets.  The sounds of woodwinds on a Friday night was remniscent of days gone by, but now instead of studying, practicing, and homework, we found ourselves facing bigger life issues - family, marriage, parenting.  Oh, how I wish I could tell eighteen year old me not to be so stressed out all the time, the best is yet to come.  I guess I'd have to tell her worse is yet to come, solfege is NOT the biggest problem you'll ever overcome, but hey, the shadows prove the sun shines, right?

We warmed up with a Mozart piece.  Predictable, measured out, tricky at spots, attainable, but just a little boring.  Next came the piece that we were *pretty sure* was from our recital days.  The smooth legato half notes gave way to a moving melodic line, and after the first phrase, I wasn't sure if I remembered the tune.  A smear of black caught my eye, and a slight dread crept up in my stomach as I saw the run of sixteenth notes that I was quickly approaching.  And then in an instant familiarity kicked it.  My fingers ran up those sixteenth notes in perfect parallel thirds with my duet partner, and in an instant I was transported to Lyte Auditorium circa 2001.  Just like in the movies, logically I knew I was currently in Heather's living room playing clarinet, but another scene played out in my head where I was sitting in a ballgown, under the spotlight, sound resonating and bouncing back at me in a room made to seat hundreds.  It feels like it was a lifetime ago, and yet, at the same time, it felt like home.

In that moment I was so grateful for the time, the years, the teachers, the practice, the performance, the learning.  To learn to perform, understand, and love music cost so much time, energy, focus, and even money, but last night I realized (again) how well spent it was.

Friday, October 3, 2014


It's Oct 3 and I'm chugging along with the Nester's 31 days of blogging, using prompts from Heading Home .  It's "Five Minute Friday," which means I need to severely cut down on my usual blogging procedure to finish and hit publish today.  Shoot, I've already wasted a minute explaining myself. :)

I'm going to keep today simple and share what is "NEW" in the Suereth house - something I made facebook official weeks ago but never officially blogged about...

We are PAPER pregnant - OFFICIALLY a "waiting adoptive family."

Levi's 4th birthday party.
What does that mean?  It means our profile book is on a pile with several others in the office of Bethany Christian Service and when an expectant mother chooses to make an adoption plan, we are "in the mix" of families she can choose.  Our profile has already been shown 2 times!  Once we were at this stage with Levi, it was ironically about nine months until we became parents.  So, truly, it could be "any day," but more likely we are in for a long haul wait - so I'm trying very hard to be patient! :)

If you're looking for a detailed timeline about adoption, click here to read about Levi's adoption process four years ago.

The picture above is from Levi's fourth birthday party.  When he blew out his candles he said, "I wish I could be a nice big good brother."  He's ready.  We're ready.  Can't wait to see what the next few months hold!

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Levi L-O-V-E-S playing with cars, trucks, airplanes, trains.  Often times, he plays lying on his stomach on the floor, eye level with the vehicle of choice.  This can occupy him for hours, with breaks only to pee or ask someone to play with him and his cars.  I've noticed that at times he'll rise to his hand and knees, vehichle just below his face and then crawl around the tractor trailer or train and look at it from every angle.  He moves it forward a few inches then turns the front end a mere forty-five degrees, then inspects it again.

What is he looking at?  I have no idea.  But he's getting perspective.  He's checking out different views, he's seeing how parts work together.  It's funny because it's just a toy, right?  He is trying to observe every aspect of said toy.

Oh, that is so not me.  Observing takes too long.  I have too much to say sometimes.  Definitely too much to get done to sit back and observe, take in the view.  It's sad, because I KNOW I am missing some angles.  I know I am often seeing only one perspective.

I made a pretty big purchase this summer that is helping me with my view.  It amazes me that even in my EXTREME ignorance on how to actually take great pictures, there are things that in a picture that I never notice in real time.

Like the light through the leaves on a fall day on my beautiful tree lined street where Levi rides bike.

Or the white hairs peeking through Herb's beard as he gives me the stop-taking-my-picture-now look.

Or the perfect curves of this little baseball lover's profile.

Oh that I may stop and see the view, even without a camera in my hand.