30 April 2013

ten months

A beautiful, growing, grey-eyed girl who is delighted with her Daddy, Jacques, Jesus and is working very hard to sit up.

12 April 2013

treasured friendship

I am thankful for Christina--that God picked us to be friends. How weird. We sure wouldn't have picked each other, but her friendship sure makes my life richer. Who would've known. Our style, our personalities, the things we're excited about are pretty different. But at the same time, our experiences, our loves, our dreams are pretty similar. I think because we're different we can see things that the other person misses. I think because we've been made to be close for so long we have a friendship that now has a lot of ease and stability. I think because we both love Jesus we tell each other true things. I think because we both love Jesus we have learned to forgive each other and enjoy grace through the other.

(I'm pretty sure that in the picture Sophia's trying to figure out why Christina's hair is blonde.)

Next week Christina is joining David, Sophia and I on a special trip. I am thrilled and blessed and thankful to have a friend like her who sees and shares and gives wholeheartedly and joins and spends herself to love us deeply. David is, too. Plus she's funny and she likes Sophia's pink clothes.

And a little special treat from many years ago--

04 April 2013


Dear Nina Joy and Noel Grace,

I was really excited to get your letter in the mail!

Daddy helped me open it. I was feeling a little grouchy, but I just needed a snooze. Thank you for sharing your bows with me. I love you!

Sophia Margaret

I love my Dad.

Well, Dad, seventy sounds pretty old. I think I keep forgetting that you're turning seventy this year, because you are living with full force. Thank you so much for living like this! Seventy things that I see, admire, love, am thankful for:

-You love Mom.
-You love John Paul.
-You love me.
-You love Sarah.
-You love David.
-You love Nina
-and Jack (I like how you smile at him)
-and Luke.
-I'm sure you love Noel, too.
-You send Mom to come take care of all of us, even though I know you miss her.
-You love Sophia
-and you talk to us about what a treasure she is. Psalm 139.
-You hold her and take pictures of her and talk with her.
-You pray for all of us
-and you pray with us.
-You give us blessings. Thank you for thinking very carefully and writing blessings for each of us.
-And you figure out how we can all spend time together.
-And on top of that you fund it.
-You are compassionate. I remember how empathetic and sad you were with me when I longed to be married.
-And for crying with us during this last season.
-Even though I know you trust in the very good goodness of God.
-You bought me a bike. You made me save my money for a long time and then you kicked in the last big chunk.
-And then you did the same thing with the Honda.
-Ha! And right now you're doing that same thing again. Thank you for following through.
-You spent time teaching me and helping me think carefully and make a chart about how to buy that first laptop.
-Thanks for teaching me how to save up and make an informed decision and then take ownership.
-You are a hard worker. Dilligent.
-You are really fast at Morse code.

-You continue to grow in your love for Mom.
-I trust you. 
-You are a man of integrity and you learn and grow.
-You are always learning new things.
-And talking about them with us. I remember that for as long as I can remember, we always got your Sunday school lessons at dinnertime before anyone else did.
-You took care of Grandma when she needed you. And helped Mom with that.

-You are passionate about people living in righteousness and keeping their covenants.
-You taught me science when I was in 8th grade.
-You had cool cars before you were married.
-You were on track to become a millionaire, but you gave it up because
-you have faith
-and you taught me that faith is just simple, not something crazy or wild, but simple step by step, day by day belief.
-Which over the course of a lifetime has ended up looking rather crazy. Really.
-You cried when I left for Slovenia.
-You walked me down the aisle and gave me away.
-You empowered David and blessed our marriage by sending me off and letting go.
-You made me make my own decision about David.

-I don't think I ever heard you say a bad word. Maybe ever. Even though I know you were around it.
-You get mad about things that are reasonable to get mad about, things that people should get mad about.
-People feel comfortable around you.
-You talk with me and like me and want to tell me what you're interested in and you listen to what I'm interested in.
-People respect you
-but I feel lucky because you let me be on the inside. I respect you, too.
-You treat me like an adult. Sometimes even more than I wanted at the time.
-Dad, I love that you delve into God's word and savor it and really believe it
-and that you pour your guts into teaching well. You give 100%.
-You don't brag or spend a lot of energy trying to look cool or strong or great.
-But you are.
-You are really fit.
-You are going on a zipline for your 70th birthday.
-You've worked really hard to encourage younger brothers and sisters at home
-and in Albania.
-You and mom have spent a lot of yourselves in building up the church in Albania.
-You give generously.
-I like that sometimes we laugh really, really, really hard. (Although I'm not quite sure what we laugh about.)
-You are wise.
-You are a person who honored your father and mother.
-You love God and speak well of him and seek to obey him.
-There are certain verses you say over and over. I know that the Holy Spirit lives in you.
-You know the Bible really well because you have read it every day for as long as I've known you.
-Tickle attention.
-You love the church deeply, giving your life for her.

Dad, you are a man who lives his name, you are a rich, powerful ruler. God is gracious. I praise God for you, for your birth and life. And I am a lucky girl to get to be your daughter. I love you.

02 April 2013

sarah is thirty!

Three of my favorite people are turning 30 this year.

Today, April 2, is the day to celebrate Sarah Beth Stepanian.
Sarah, I'd like to tell you thirty things that I see and love about you:

-you make breakfast for your family
-you make lunch for your family
-you make dinner for your family
-every day
-you feed your baby
-and you teach your children how to sleep and you train them in heart-ful obedience
-and you taught me how to teach my baby to sleep
-you love your husband
-you respect your husband and train yourself to follow his leadership
-from the very beginning, you dove into the Stepanian family (which I can't imagine was always a breeze) (yikes!)

-you have made yourself a sister to me
-you enjoy Luke's little personality
-you rejoice as Jack grows and you treasure his sensitivity and his boy-ness
-you nurture and delight and share with your firstborn daughter
-you have born aNOTHER beautiful little girl
-you let your kids cut things with real knives
-you don't try to stop your husband from being a man
-you've always liked the name David and you've always been a fan of David. He's always known this from you and that's been a gift.

-you are a learner
-and a writer. You express things with such honesty and truth.

-you really see into things and people and situations.
-you have a beautiful laugh
-you are a thankful woman

-you settle accounts
-you send letters and remember people
-your hair is a wonder
-you make super good cookies
-Sarah, you are masterful at relationships.
-you take good care of your body
-you are very thoughtful about how you go about following God and growing in him. And in your connection with him, Sarah, your life bears much fruit.

You, Sarah, are a strong woman with a tender heart. An adventurer. A rich mother. A honoring daughter. A beautiful wife. A woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. Wo-hooo! We think you're awesome!

nine months

It's been about one year now since we first heard about the possibility of the possibility of the possibility of these unexpected turns, which have been... wow...hard. And I would say with most certainty--that we are thriving in the Lord's good care.

This is one happy, sensitive, worshipping, gentle little girl. Ready to talk, but only when there is space in the conversation--

One of our many treks to the hospital. David packs the car, I prepare Sophia. We know when to talk and when to listen to music and when to start praying. The drives to and from St Vincent's have become a special family time.

Sophia has officially joined us for dinner!

Oodles of fun with the space blanket!

Not interested in showing off her first two up-and-coming teeth.

But very interested in spending time with Daddy.

And good night.