Elijah: God’s Miracle Man

Remember this post about naming Elijah?

These photos are so special to me. For awhile we had this book propped up on Elijah’s nightstand where it could be displayed but he wouldn’t rip the pages. Since it was set away from his other books, he often asked for it. I always let him look at it, and finally just let him carry it around the house and add it to his other books. After all, it’s meant to be read, studied, shared.

Without prompting from us, Elijah looks through this book. It always catches me off guard because it’s not flashy like his other favorite books about animals or trucks. It also has a lot of words for a kid’s book.

I finally snapped some photos of Elijah reading this special book. It’s so sweet to see tiny hands flip pages of a book.

Someday he’ll understand when I explain how his dad and I prayed while reading this book on Easter Sunday 2016. Many tears have touched the pages of that book.

God takes care of us, Elijah. He took care of you then and he takes care of you now.

“Elijah loved and served God. Everywhere he went, God used him to perform amazing miracles…”

Blank Park Zoo

Introducing Elijah to his first zoo was on this year’s summer bucket list. Even though I’m convinced he thought every animal was a “pup-pup”, he loved it. Side note, he gets very distracted on walks when a puppy goes by, and I absolutely love his excitement and curiosity. He can also hear a dog barking long before I hear it. Little ears but a lot of love for animals.

Our friends Paige and Tony joined us with their little girl, Harlow. Watching Harlow and Elijah interact was a joy in itself. Even though we live a couple hours apart, more playdates for these two are a must!

Great Jones County Fair

We almost didn’t use our concert tickets Friday night because of the storm warnings and tornado watch.

Even after our babysitter arrived, we nervously watched the news trying to decide if we wanted to stand in the rain/mud and take the chance on the storm warnings. (I’ve been poured on at the Jones County Fair before!) It was pouring outside, and we just decided we’d take our chances. Although the temperature dropped a good twenty degrees on our drive, the dark clouds kept moving around the fair. It was unreal, and a great night was had by all!

I joked with John that someone on the fair board cashed in a lot of prayers because Monticello stayed dry until after the final show and the fireworks were done.

Big and Rich opened for Thomas Rhett, and both put on awesome shows. Thomas Rhett sold out the show, and fans were not disappointed. I knew more of his music than I realized, and I’m adding a few of his new songs to my running playlists ASAP. “Party Like We’re On Vacation…”

Choosing a Vacation Hotel

Following our California vacation, my friend Katie asked how we always manage to find incredible hotels/resorts when we go on vacation. My answer might surprise you.

Instagram.

I use Expedia to book flights and hotels, but Instagram tells the honest story. I started using Instagram to look into hotels because I wanted to know if pictures people were posting at these places actually looked like the sales photos sponsored by the hotel. Written reviews only tell you so much. Instagram gives you real, present time photos. You simply search the hashtag of the hotel (or surrounding area), for example #hyattregencyhuntingtonbeach or #marriottwaikiki and judge for yourself. Most resort style hotels have their own Instagram, so make sure you’re looking at people’s photos who aren’t getting paid to tell the story.

Since this extra step really seems to work, I wanted to share.

Beach Boys

We spent a week in California this summer but ended up finding the Beach Boys in Manchester, Iowa. Surf’s up?

Friday night’s VIP event included all you could eat, drink, and dance while the Beach Boys rocked the crowd. It was our second time partying with the Beach Boys in Manchester.

The humidity vanished for the evening, and it was a perfect night to take in the fair.

The highlight was getting to celebrate with Meredith in person. Her groom-to-be had a bachelor party out of state, but she still braved the family and the fair to join us. Wedding planning updates made me so happy, and we love that June 30th is forever marked on our hearts already. Now, if only we can get a date on the calendar to celebrate this engagement with Matt and Meredith at the same time.

County fair season is just beginning, and our next concert tickets read Thomas Rhett with Big and Rich.

Tribes

While reading the book Tribes by Seth Godin, I dog-eared a lot of page with statements that spoke to me. Since I’ve since passed the book to John, I wanted to record those important points here. This read fired me up to challenge the status quo. The world doesn’t need more managers, it needs more leaders.

“It turns out that the people who like their jobs the most are also the ones who are doing the best work, making the greatest impact, and changing the most.”

“Skill and attitude are essential. Authority is not, In fact, authority can get in the way.”

“How can I create something that critics will criticize?”

“The difference between backing off and doing nothing may appear subtle, but it’s not. A leader who backs off is making a commitment to the power of the tribe, and is alert to the right moment to step back in. Someone who is doing nothing is merely hiding. Leadership is a choice. It’s a choice to not do nothing.”

“The secret of being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal.”

“If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either.”

“Movements need: 1. A narrative that tells a story about who we are and the future we’re trying to build. 2. A connection between and among the leader and the tribe. 3. Something to do- the fewer limits the better.”

“People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves. What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.”

Have you read anything by Seth Godin? He’s a new author for me, but I’m definitely excited to read more of his books.

Engaged!

Matt and Meredith are getting MARRIED!

My brother Matt was on vacation in Montana with his girlfriend Meredith and a group of their friends when he popped the question. Their engagement had the most beautiful backdrop (following a 10-mile hike).

Matt is a confident person, so seeing him on his knee ASKING Meredith to be his wife displayed the virtue of humility. I can’t watch the proposal video without tears. Talk about perfect timing and a perfect pair. God knows what He is doing, and I love that they have that moment on video.

Matt and I have had a lot of late night relationship talks over the years, dating way back to high school. While I trust his judgement and would love anyone he chose to join our family, Meredith is his match. Aside from her outside beauty, she is compassionate and patient. She can keep up with Matt’s social life, and picks on him just as much as he hassles her. She spends all day teaching young kids and still has the energy to be a reliable friend to so many.

I first learned of Meredith two Christmases ago when Matt wouldn’t put his phone down at the dinner table. I stole his phone just as “Message from Meredith” scrolled across the screen. Busted.

It was only a month later when he asked if John and I would be up for meeting Meredith and going out to lunch with them in Waterloo. We gave our stamp of approval right away. Since then, we’ve seen Meredith slip into our family easily as a piece of the Monaghan puzzle we didn’t know was missing.

No matter when or where this wedding happens, only one thing matters: God’s promise to walk with these two in the lifetime journey of unconditional love.

Happy engagement, Matt and Meredith. We love you both!

Red. White. Blue.

Our long weekend included our first visit to the city pool. Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes, a storm started moving in and we had to leave. Elijah was screaming as we were dragging him out of the water. He loved the pool!

Thankfully the sprinkler makes him just as happy, and we were able to enjoy more fun in the water after the storm passed.

Our city recently made fireworks legal, so it was unnecessary for us to leave our home to see a show. We simply walked out to the deck and were treated to fireworks in every direction for a good two hours, on and off.

Many Facebook friends were sharing they were upset about this law change because fireworks were going off all evening/night and their kids weren’t sleeping. I’m on your side. I do think the law change is absolutely crazy. Just think, when you go watch a firework show, there are fire trucks and emergency crews on sight. Suddenly our town thinks it’s safe enough to allow people to light off fireworks from their own property? I’m all for freedom, but two homes have already burned down (according to the news) and one explosive misfired and hit a baby who suffered severe burns. I’d rather play it safe and drive to a public firework show than worry my neighbors might light my house or son on fire accidentally. When Elijah is a bit older, we’ll be sticking to sparklers.

Lately I’ve Been…

Watching: House of Cards. We finished season five, and it’s hard to keep today’s politics and this show separate. I’m also watching The Bachelorette, and Rachel is the most level-headed person to ever appear on this show. She’s the real deal. If you’re watching, who do you expect to see at the end? I’m thinking Bryan, Dean, and Peter…and then just Bryan. Any of these three could easily be the next Bachelor. The show goes on…

Drinking: Blueberry mojitos. I had an incredible blackberry mojito on vacation, and quickly added mint leaves to our grocery list to make our own recipe at home.

Reading: A Man Called Ove. Read this book. It’s a great story, and I don’t want to tell you anymore about it. Teacher book club will discuss this book next week over dinner.

Finishing: Summer projects. This includes organizing our storage room in the basement. John did his part by purchasing and setting up the shelves. It’s my turn to organize.

Wishing: Summer break would slow down. How is it July? I’m determined to soak up every available opportunity to spoil my husband and son with summer Kellie.

Shopping: For a new purse. Cross-body bags are easiest when also toting around a one-year-old, but I’m ready for something different. My go-to bag brands are Fossil and Vera Bradley. By the time I decide, I might as well wait for their fall options. Is gray still “in”? Decisions, decisions.

Praying: For all of my friends expecting babies in the upcoming months. Constant prayers.

What are you watching, drinking, reading, finishing, wishing, shopping, and/or praying?

June Birthdays

I share a birthday month with two of my Goddaughters, Lillian and Mollie. These two had birthday parties while John and I were away last week, so I had to make sure we fit in some celebrating at other times.

I wish I would have saved the selfie Mollie and I took on Father’s Day when I was celebrating in Manchester. Dang it, snapchat! 😉 Thankfully I’ve had the opportunity to see sweet Mollie Dolly a few times this summer, and I just know she’ll be walking on her own shortly.

Today Elijah and I made the trip to Dubuque to celebrate Lillian. We spent the morning at the park sharing a breakfast picnic in between trips to the playground. Lillian won’t let anything slow her down, and her mom gets a workout trying to keep up. She’s an energetic, spirited, sweetheart. Last year Elijah laid around in Lillian’s pack-and-play while the rest of us celebrated. This year, Elijah was just a few steps behind.

These two are always in my prayers, and I’m thankful for an excuse to stretch June celebrations into July…and beyond.