Sunday, December 18, 2016

Be Merry and Bright

Hey look! It's your Laniel holiday card!
You're welcome. :)
We are doing well and reveling in all the ways our lives are Merry and Bright.
Brian is still enjoying work and thriving at his job. He manages a few people and is learning the ropes of what that entails. He will be attending CU Denver to round out his education and we are so excited for this! He still cooks like a restaurant chef and enjoys cheering on the BRONCS! at home games with his brother in section 528. 
I am in my 9th year of teaching and am probably having my best year yet. 
Yes. You read that right. 
I am happy at my job right now.
I think I have truly settled into the rhythms of this ever changing profession and cling to the life giving friendships I have at work and the moments of great connections I have with kids.

I am OBSESSED with my nieces Nora and Georgia 
and I can't get enough of my family time with these two rascals. 

Other places of Merry and Bright this year were of course the
BRONCS! WINNING the Super Bowl ,
our AWESOME family reunion at the CABIN! and celebrating my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. 

Brian and I  are still loving our neighborhood, awesome neighbors, and friends that make our life Merry and Bright.

For the sake of keeping it real and for getting some of my thoughts in writing--I want to address a bit of the not so Merry and Bright of 2016 as well.

Image result for the grinch
Over the last several years I have learned a lot about myself and my core beliefs. I have experienced a value shift that became clearer and clearer as 2016 trudged on. One catalyst for this was the infamous election. Since about mid-September I have experienced many, many emotions because of it. The majority of them have been anger, frustration, sadness and disbelief. I want to believe, as it is in my nature to do so, that Love always wins and despite brokenness, hope is possible. But man. This election took a toll on this belief for me. It will take a lot to have faith that the leaders of our country won't shit on the unalienable right that Liberty and Justice is for ALL.

My fears about people doing the right and best thing for ALL was challenged further when I read this article about the Christian organization, IVCF, that I was deeply involved with in my former life. Unfortunately they are choosing the path of becoming even more narrow, exclusive and hypocritical than ever before. Their stance on Gay marriage sickens me and I am overwhelmed with feelings of frustration and sadness when I consider what they think the Gospel is all about.
It fuels my Truth that Evangelical Christianity is a farce.  

Lastly, my stupid knee continues to affect how I get around. I am still not 100% mobile and I am very limited in what I can do without feeling pain. Ugh. I am in the process of figuring out if a knee replacement is in my near future. I know I need to do something, so hopefully I can figure it out sooner than later. 

It wouldn't be very Merry or Bright of me to end our holiday card on such a sour note, so here is a picture of Baxdeer. He makes everything better. 
We truly hope that as we head into 2017 we find more places of Light and Hope than we do ugliness and hatred. I hope we can come together and hold each other up--even if we don't feel strong enough to do so. Thank you for being a Merry and Bright part of our lives.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Yay Sports!

They won. 
They FREAKING WON!!!!!!!!
My favorite part of any World Series is the mound rush. It makes me cry every time...
{These pictures are taken off of my TV, btw, classy. I know...}

Right now, I am clinging to the high that is a Cubs WIN at the World Series. 
They didn't make it easy. 
Game 7.
A tied game.
Ten Innings.
Rain delay.
Relief pitcher. 
Ground ball for the out. 
My god. 
I'm exhausted.
History. Made.

But as I watched my Facebook feed explode with the highs and lows of the entire game, I felt it. I felt the beautiful moments of humanity when we come together to experience something bigger than ourselves. I get that there is something mildly superficial about watching sports. I get that it is a male dominated layer of our society that is taken too seriously. I get that the inordinate amount of money spent on any given aspect of sports could be considered a crime. 
{$15 for a beer? REALLY???}
And if I begin to overthink these things I can get pretty riled up. I want to be a person that advocates for equality, doesn't give into societal stereotypes, and pays a reasonable price for a ballpark beer.
There's a purity and a goodness that gets stirred up in me when I am cheering with the throng of  crazed fans--virtual or otherwise.

This type of win brings us together--even if we don't love the Cubs. The fact that I can all talk about this historic win with anybody-- kids, strangers, family and friends, shows me that being a part of humanity like this is something I cherish and savor. I think I captured some of this feeling in my post about the BRONCS! winning the Super Bowl because the BRONCS! win was my Cubs win. I was with them every step of the way--blood, sweat and tears. I didn't wait 108 years, but man, it felt like it!

The experience of being a part of something bigger than us gives me hope. 
Hope that pure unadulterated joy is possible.
Hope that being fully invested in something has its rewards. 
Hope that if the Cubs can win the World Series, anything is possible. 

I've been on the flip side of all of this too.
I took this picture of an Indians fan during the first inning:
Poor guy. 
I get it. 
I've been this guy soooooo many times.
So many. 
But this too is a part of the experience. 
I woke up in the middle of night thinking about the heartbreak this guy must be feeling today--his team has been waiting too....he believed. 
But it wasn't meant to be.
And even though that is true for him {and all Indians fans} for me, all of this boils down to the fact that we're not alone.There's a unified solidarity that inspires me that there is good in the world.
I get to cheer with Bill Murray and feel his joy, his relief, and his experience with magic.
Let's face it. 
Life is too complicated and chaotic not to embrace the miracle that is a Cubs win.
We all needed this. And I for one am grateful to have been a part of it. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

On the Night You Were Born

"On the night you were born,
the moon shone with such wonder
that the stars peeked in
to see you
and the night wind whispered,
'Life will never be the same.'
Because there had never been
anyone like you...
ever in the world." ~Nancy Tillman
Nora Madeline Grace Lesley was born on June 30, 2016;

Georgia Lane Lord was born on August 21, 2016;
And my world has not been the same since.

These perfect miracles bring me an oceanic joy that have rearranged my molecules.

The depth of love I have for these sweet girls makes my head spin. I think this is because they belong to two of my best friends, who are sisters, and I have been lucky enough to be side by side with them over the last 8 years.

 I met Nora's mom first. We taught together for a few years and bonded instantly. We saved each other's lives while in the throes of teaching. Our much needed happy hours consisted of many tears, laughs and strategic plans to get the hell out of teaching. 

{We have since resigned to the fact that teaching is where we are supposed to be, but that we absolutely wouldn't survive if we didn't have each other. No joke. I would be long gone if it wasn't for Nora's mom.}

 I was in her wedding and if we had met a year earlier, she would have been in mine. 
She just gets it--She knows me and we are able to connect on a genuine, deep level. She's "my person" and I honestly don't know what I would do without her. 

Through her, I met Georgia's mom. Georgia's mom and I share a special bond that grew from the common experience of PTSD from childhood "Holy Ghost Dancing" and the embarrassing fact that we still watch Grey's Anatomy. 

I am pretty sure we knew each other in a past life as our connection has an ease and depth that I have rarely experienced. She loves completely and I am no exception. 

These amazing souls have graciously invited me into their sisterhood and now I get to lavishly love their children.

*     *    *
Nora Madeline Grace Lesley

Nora arrived 2 WEEKS late. Plan A was that I would be in town--at the hospital--when she arrived. Nora's parents chose to not find out the gender so I was on pins and needles to know if my little sweet pea would be a girl or a boy...

The first part of June was dedicated to finalizing plans for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary/family reunion at the CABIN!.  I postponed my trip to MN 4 days in hopes she would arrive while I was still in town. She did not. 

I called Nora's mom on my way out of town and cried. I was so sad not to be here for her birth. But, thanks to texting, I was in on the waiting, and waiting, and waiting....
Nora's mom pushed for 4 hours. Hours. {!!!!!!} And Georgia's mom texted me all the way through. She finally arrived around 2:30AM and I burst into tears when I saw that SHE was here. Nora. Nora was here and my world got brighter.

{I just found out that Nora's name means light--and to say that this is PERFECT for her is an understatement.} 

My first time meeting Nora felt like an out of body experience. I could tell that, like her mom, she just gets it. There is a special place in my heart for her and I love her beyond words.

*  *  *
Georgia Lane Lord
"As sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines." ~Ray Charles

Georgia's parents' journey of becoming parents  has been a thick, unpredictable, scary, strange, and lonely forest. When they decided to adopt, they quickly learned that the adoption process {especially when tied to infertility} is lonely, not talked about very openly and it requires lots of energy and support. They have been amazing through all of this. 

When Georgia's mom told me that they were matched with a family in AZ and that Georgia was due in August, I BURST into tears. We were getting a manicure and we may or may not have made a scene. The relief, anxiety, anticipation and excitement we felt flooded us. 

The next few months were a roller coaster of emotions for Georgia's mom (and dad) and they were incredible through it all. 

Once they were in AZ, the waiting period of receiving the text that Georgia was theirs was intense. And I am only the aunt. I can't imagine the weight of waiting they felt. 
{This article  begins to capture this--please read it!}

Georgia truly is the sweet and clear moonlight through the pines. 
She has brought light and love to my life and I love her beyond words.

These girls have altered my universe. 
I love them with all that I am and I look forward to continuing to see them grow and change the world for the better.
They already have. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Summer Of...

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees,  just as things grow in fast movies,  I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

While casually chatting with my friend Steph in May, we decided to make this the 
"Summer Of" {insert a bucket list of sorts...}
Our kitchen chalkboard {and my terrible handwriting} captured my list. 
I am happy to report that almost everything on my Summer Of  list was accomplished. 
{The #purge/#organize did not happen as planned. Our junk drawers are still junky and our storage room is still ridiculous, but it's safe to say that #yummydrinks #CABIN! and #Nora are some reasons why this didn't happen....}
Gratefully, #refueling is what I needed the most and this definitely happened.
Here are some highlights:
I feel so lucky to have all this goodness in one summer. 
Summer of 2016, I shall miss you. You have been good to me. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

This is Unlimited Dedication

What is Unlimited Dedication?

For the Jacobsens, Unlimited Dedication has its most resilient roots at the CABIN! which holds 50 years of memories. 

We got to be together over the 4th of July weekend to strengthen these roots and create millions of new memories that will last a lifetime. Yes, all 55 of us in one place--yikes.
{ALL of my cousins were present with their families. Only 5 of my second cousins were unable to make it. I think this is incredible.}

As we celebrated my parents 50th wedding anniversary and 50 years of the CABIN!, I was struck by the fact that all of my senses were in play.  When I see, hear, smell, taste and feel certain things in the future, I will be transported back to this magical weekend where Unlimited Dedication knows no bounds. 

What does Unlimited Dedication look like?
It looks like almost 100 people gathering to celebrate my parents while various members of the Jacobsen clan sings songs, uses props, puts on costumes, reenacts "the ultimatum", {and the truth about The Finger Story} recites original poems and does "magic" to creatively celebrate my parent's story. 

What does Unlimited Dedication sound like?
It sounds like a million laughs, 
{Hands down, the sound I will most remember from this year is laughter.}
 the CABIN! CD on endless repeat, cheering for new water skiers, the thump, thump, thump of cornhole madness, the elusive connection of a rock to the pole and lots and lots of stories being passed between all generations.

What does Unlimited Dedication smell like?
It smells like sunscreen on the Pontoon and the Oasis, lake water, fireworks {AKA fear!} and fire pit smoke for many, many s'mores. 

{And it probably smells a bit like wet dog, but he's so cute about it! :)}

What does Unlimited Dedication taste like?
It tastes like pulled pork sandwiches made from Brian's smoker, Nathan's jambalaya and corn salad, and maybe some Coors Light and a root beer barrel or 2...
Oh, and the sweet taste of victory for the Champs.

What does Unlimited Dedication feel like?
It feels like family. Amazing memories being made, deeper friendships formed, and that magical feeling of truly belonging to something greater than ourselves.  

This is Unlimited Dedication.