Come Be a Fly on Our Wall.

Ever wish you could be a fly on the wall in someone’s house?

I do. I’m nosy like that.

Like, what do they really talk about? Who are these people when no one else is around?

Well, for your comedic relief and for my memory to retain this precious conversation, I’m giving you such an opportunity.

Come be a fly on our wall.

Scene: 10:30pm, snuggled in, ready for bed, Monday night.

Me: “So, you’re going into work tomorrow {morning}? Gonna go werk? You know, with an ‘E’.”

Silence. Half-smile from Jason.

Jason: “Um, yeah, I’m going into work tomorrow after breakfast…”

Me: “Wait, do you even know what werk means?”

Jason: “Work with an ‘E’? That makes no sense. I don’t even know what you’re talking about!”

Me: {laughing hysterically, nearly convulsing, snorting on occassion} “Oh, honey! Like, for real? You haven’t heard of ‘werk?’ You know…{insert super-sassy head roll and pouted duck-lips} ‘Boy, yo betta WERK!

Jason: {becoming slighly annoyed} “No, dear, I don’t know…”

Me: “As in…werk! Werk it out! As in…get it! As in…do. yo. thang.”

Blank stare.

Me: “You know? Ru Paul? {begins singing very animated} ‘Werk! Cover girl! Werk it, gurl. Do yo thang….on the runway…Shashay, Shantay!’

Jason: “You have to remember, I’m from the back woods of Canada. I’m not from Flint {MI, known as the ‘crime capital of America’}.I watched Sesame Street. You’re just too urban for me.”

Me: {losing it laughing again} “Oh. My. Gosh.”

End scene.

The pastor and his cray wife.

The pastor and his cray wife.

Let’s just say Jason and I grew up in entirely different environments. While he was memorizing Scripture through Awana’s at church, I prided myself in knowing all the lyrics to every Madonna and Michael Jackson song.

We both have amazing parents, we just lived in very different places with parents who had different approaches to life. Oh, the fun when all of it comes spilling out at 10:30 at night!

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

 

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You Know You’re a Tired Mama When…

This may or may not be a reflection on the past couple of days in the Loewen house.

I will neither confirm or deny any such events and their accuracy.

You know you’re a tired mama when…

  • You can’t remember if you brushed your teeth.
  • You attempt putting pantry items in the fridge.
  • Are fuzzy on the year of your baby’s birth.
  • Slur your sentences like Uncle Eddie on too much eggnog.
  • While driving think: “So THIS is why you shouldn’t drive sleep deprived!”
  • People tell you that you look really tired.
  • After realizing you’re on day 2 of no shower, you shrug it off and hope for a moment to cleanse tomorrow.
  • Your beloved cup ‘o morning joe is put into question because maybe, just maybe, if you skip it, you’ll be able to nap today.
  • After wearing glasses for the entire day, while getting ready for bed, you add more contact solution to the contact case, go to take out said contacts only to reach up to your…glasses.
  • Phrases start spewing from your mouth to your kids that you made your husband promise not to use with them. Talking about “punishing them” and other gems such as “I don’t even care. You deal with it!” {directed at your 4-year-old}
  • You vaguely remember days of old when you felt like a normal person…an actual human – but those memories are quickly fading.
Cute teething baby boy.

Cute teething baby boy.

We’ve been on one wild ride with a teething baby this week {can ya tell?}! Through it all, God is good. Haven’t lost sight of that. Just wanted other mama’s to know you’re not alone. Maybe laughing at ourselves will help…a little. 🙂 

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

Inventory of Sorts

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A Noonday sister and lady after my own heart, Wynne Elder did a blog post titled ‘Taking Stock’. Just a little sneak-peak into what’s going on with her, and I loved it {if you haven’t already, seriously go check out her blog. She’s real, she has the cutest little twins and she’s just so endearing} and thought it was a fun idea, so I decided to copy it!

Inside Laura’s head {brace yourself}:

Making: a mess on my floor with pumpkin muffin crumbs.

Cooking: nothing, oddly enough…life has been a little cray-cray!

Reading: One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian. Changing my life.

Wanting: to sleep through the night.

Looking: for what God’s doing next.

Playing: sword fights with my Aiden boy.

Wasting: crusts of sandwiches. I’m just as bad as a kid!

Trusting: God knows what He’s doing.

Wishing: for more time with my girlfriends.

Enjoying: snuggles with my love at the end of each day.

Waiting: for USCIS approval for adoption so we can move forward.

Liking: Greek God’s salted honey greek yogurt. To. Die.

Wondering: when I’ll get to sleep soundly again.

Loving: snuggles with Landon during a movie when he’s not aware of what mama is up to!

Hoping: for temps above 55 to play outside with no coats

Marveling: at the Lord’s faithfulness to me.

Needing: to find a hobby.

Anticipating: running a half marathon with Jason. Eek!

Contemplating: living with more grace.

Smelling: sweet Aiden-boy hair.

Wearing: jeans and a hoodie.

Following: the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing: God has me where I’m at for a reason.

Thinking: there isn’t enough coffee in all the world.

Praying: to be poured out, filled with more love and grace.

Bookmarking: favorite recipes on the tablet. Recipes for dayz.

Opening: the pantry for the gazillionth time. Maybe I’ll find a new snack I didn’t buy and that will secretly take my breath away.

Giggling: at the girlie girl that is my Charlotte. She’ll be 3 tomorrow. How in the world did that happen??

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Feeling: completely exhausted. grateful. worn out. blessed.

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Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

Tchividj

Wreck Me, God.

God is wrecking me right now.

Utterly and completely.

He’s taking me to new heights of my relationship with Him – new, unknown, uncharted territories of grace to my heart.

One of my favorite authors/bloggers Jen Hatmaker said something I won’t soon forget.

In her book ‘Interrupted’, she says something along-the-lines-of: pray this prayer “God, wreck me”. But only if you mean it.

 

Because prayers are a big deal to God.

wreck me

He kind of takes us seriously.

So I’m grateful for God’s providence that I didn’t stumble upon ‘Interrupted’ until recently.

My heart simply wouldn’t have been able to handle the content, and certainly not that prayer.

So, I’ve been praying that…for the wrecking.

And boy, has He ever!

It’s not a shaming, not a wrecking in the sense the world might think, like a disgracing.

Rather, it’s a pruning, a chiseling, a growing-more-in-His-likeness.

I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not perfect.

People, I am SO far from it, it’s not even funny.

And yet, here I am. For some reason beyond my greatest comprehension, God wants to use me.

Huh.

Go figure.

Little ol’ me. The girl with a big mouth, lots of opinions and a way of telling the truth that has left many stung in the wake of brutality.

Not always pretty.

So this wrecking I’ve been praying (begging God for, really), is a acknowledgement that I don’t even know anything about anything.

That my heart needs to break for the things that break His.

And try as I might to appear as if I have it all together , I don’t.

He knows it. I know it.

Oh, what a Savior! That He would take me as I am. Quite literally trying to take His place by asserting myself to be more than I am.

Oh, that He loves me, broken and all kinds of messed-up.

Thank you, Jesus.

So, God’s been wrecking me.

Faithful to His character, as He cannot be anything but, God is doing the work of wrecking in this heart of mine.

It’s painful. It leaves me worn-down, tried and head spinnng most days (I know – where can you sign up, right?).

It’s so challenging to be wrecked.

And it’s the most beautiful thing all at the same time.

God is doing a spiritual heart surgery on me, in this state of wondering that I’m in.

He’s longing to do a new work in me, and I’m so thankful He is.

Oh, how I need for HIm to increase and me to decrease!

When God prunes (more on that later, but essentially the idea of the first portion of John 15), he throws off what isn’t beneficial to the believer.

So, whatever needs work, He gently removes. Cleans up with His pure and sinless hands and He does the work of making us more into the likeness of Himself.

More grace-filled.

More loving.

He then gives us opportunities (read: challenging circumstances) to grow in these areas.

For me this last month?

Pruning has looked like having opportunities to easily promote myself and letting God keep me quiet.

Pruning has looked like others getting credit for things I’ve done (again, hard for me).

Pruning has looked like a teething baby.

Puking children.

Martial tension.

Being misunderstood.

A flooded crawl space.

A broken dishwasher.

You get the picture.

And in all this, what I am not saying is that this is somehow unfair. Somehow cruel on God’s part.

What I am saying is that wrecking hurts. It tears you down.

But, oh! How I long for the refining, ever painful as it is.

Wreck me, God.

There is a song that is just SO my heart right now called “Relentless Pursuit” by Kim Walker. I hope you guys will take a minute to listen and let the lyrics wash over you.

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

New Chapter, More Insanity

running for adoption

As some of you know, Jason and I are in the process of adding to our family through adoption. Our family of five will soon become a family of six (I can’t even stinkin’ believe it and sometimes most of the time, it leaves me feeling like we are totally insane).

I mean, really.

Landon is 4, Charlotte will be 3 next week and Aiden just turned 1.

 

Jason and I discussed adoption seriously when I was pregnant with Charlotte. With both agreed that it was something we absolutely wanted to do. We thought that meant we would start the adoption process after I gave birth to Charlotte.

God had other plans.

One day, I couldn’t shake this feeling that I needed to get pregnant again. At the time, Landon was nearly three and Charlotte just turned one. Jason and I talked it over, and we agreed.

Time to get to business. 

A month later we were pregnant with Aiden, and while all three of my pregnancies were actually quite wonderful (stop it with the ‘I’m-going-to-kill-you-glare’ women who had challenging pregnancies. I’m sorry! It’s just the way it all worked out 😉 ) I knew that it was the very last time I wanted to be pregnant.

I wanted my body back…err…some semblance of the former body I used to have….so we decided that we’d move forward with the adoption process like we had tried once before.

This time, I felt a huge peace. Even an urgency from The Lord.

This was it. This was His timing, not mine.

After having Charlotte, and moving to Northern MI, we started fundraising for an adoption. However, the entire time I felt this check in my spirit like “Laura, not now. This is good, just not now.”

Note to self: don’t ignore those little checks in your spirit again.

So, we pressed forward as we choleric’s tend to do, and a minimal amount of money came in.

Sometimes  Most often, it takes us firstborns awhile to concede to an idea other than our own.

For us, adoption is a beautiful picture of what God has done for those who believe  in the spiritual realms. 

God’s Word, the Bible, tells us that…

He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – Ephesians 1:5

 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

We also know as Christ-followers that we are to follow James 1:27 which tells us: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Add that to the fact that there are approximately 147 million orphans worldwide –

Let that sink in. 147 million orphans.

147 million babies with no mama to kiss their boo-boo’s.

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147 million little ones with no daddy to cradle them in strong arms.

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147 million precious children with no one to tell them ‘I love you’, care for them.

– and Jason and I knew we needed to adopt.

We’re adopting from South Africa, as it has crazy-special place in our hearts, since we met there some 9 years ago.

So, that’s totally crazy.

But were doing something additionally crazy.

WE ARE FREAKING GOING TO RUN A HALF MARATHON FOR OUR SON.

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People.

Laura Loewen.

The girl who hasn’t been on one, no not one sports team in her entire life.

The girl who hasn’t given working out an honest effort in six months.

This girl (and her cute husband) are running a half marathon!!

September 6, 2014 on the shores of Holland, MI for the Holland Haven race, you will find us (inevitably toned, less fatty…) rockin’ and rollin’ after training for the spring and summer.

So will you join us?

Will you be a part of our story? Of our sons story?

We will be raising funds for our half marathon and every last penny will go toward funding our $40,000 adoption (yes, it’s true).

If you’re interested in blessing our family and changing a little boys’ life forever, you can go to:

http://www.abbafund.org/blog/the-loewens-family-adoption/family-adoption-fund/#/step1

Through Abba Fund, you can give via credit card, debit card, even cell phones and commodities!

Thanks for considering this – what a journey we’re on!

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

 

 

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Double Chocolate Cupcakes

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We were having some youth group students over this week, and I wanted to have a little treat on-hand for them.

So I thought: “What will everyone love and enjoy?”

Ahhh, yes. Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

This was my first time making this particular cupcake recipe, and I had discovered my deep affinity for this frosting a couple weeks ago.

Now, these little babies aren’t meant to win a cupcake decorating contest. I didn’t take hours frosting them with various frosting contraptions/cake-tip-thingies. 

{Cake-tip-thingies is a thing now, didn’t you hear?}

These are just meant to be yummy treats! Take your time frosting and forgo the elementary-looking sprinkles to make the more sophisticated to your liking.

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I love that these cupcakes can be make in one bowl, which make them that much simpler to whip up, especially on those days you don’t feel like washing 25 bowls and pans.

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Chocolate Cupcakes {makes about 36 cupcakes}

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Easy One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes)

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups unbleached pastry flour (can sub all-purpose flour, this is just what I had on-hand)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in muffin tins. In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add buttermilk, vegetable oil, and 1 1/2 cups warm water; whisk to combine. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.

2. Scoop batter into muffin cups (fill each about 2/3 C. full) and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then place cupcakes on racks to cool completely. Frost after cupcakes are cool to the touch.

PRO TIP: No buttermilk on-hand? No problem. I “make” my own all the the time! This is so convenient for making pancakes and certain types of breads or muffins!

Buttermilk Sub

  • Just less than 1 cup milk
  • Tablespoon lemon juice OR white vinegar

Place lemon juice OR white vinegar in 1 cup liquid measuring cup. Pour milk to 1 cup mark. Stir briefly to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes.

TA-DA! Buttermilk.

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Heavenly Chocolate Frosting {will frost 1-9 inch round cake or 24 cupcakes, so do x 1.5 for above amount of cupcakes}

(Adapted from Lauren’s Latest The Best & Easiest Chocolate Frosting)

NOTE: I very lightly frosted these cupcakes. The frosting you’ll yield will be enough to mound some frosting on…if you like that sort of thing.

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cocoa powder, sifted
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

1. Cream butter and cocoa together until smooth in a large bowl. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar. Slowly pour milk into mix until frosting is a thick or thin as you desire. Scrape sides down and whip again until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes more.

Enjoy your new-found chocolate yumminess!

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

Our Story

young love

Every couple has a story. The details of how they met, what attracted them to one another, first date,

The fireworks. The realization the other was just a normal person like everyone else.

The excitement, the uniqueness that is them.

Warning: this is long-ish. This is real. Read on if you’d like.

I hope it encourages you, makes you laugh a little and maybe even helps you believe that honest love is out there.

This is my love story. Our love story.

Winter 2005. I’m a sophomore at Hope College in Holland, MI. Our liberal arts Christian school brings speaker + author Bruce Wilkenson (Prayer of Jabez) to speak at our Sunday night worship service, The Gathering.

God had been opening my eyes and exposing me to the world. As in, my 20 year-old mind could not begin to contain or fathom what was out there – the people, the stories, the suffering, the struggle.

Wilkenson talked about his new organization – Dream for Africa – that existed to irradiate HIV/AIDS in Africa through prevention education with a focus on orphan care.

He said he was asking us – the Hope student body – if we would join him for 4 weeks that summer in South Africa. Just months away.

My stomach churned in knots. My palms were sweaty.

This. This is what I had been waiting for. Longing for. 

I felt glued to my seat in fear.

Who was I to go to Africa? How would I raise the funds? What about working that summer?

I peeled myself off the wooden pew, threw off my fear and joined the swarm of fellow students far braver than I that had been kneeling on the stage as indicator that, yes, they were willing. They would go.

Wilkenson mentioned he was traveling to other Christian colleges, looking for students with a heart to serve. To join him in this mission.

Didn’t think any more of that. So we’ll have people from around the country joining us. Cool.

Let me let you in on a little window to the Laura of Spring 2005.

This Laura was longing to be married. With a string of failed relationships (not to mention a few failed promise of relationships…you know, you’re both immensely interested in each other. Flirting. Spend time together. But it just dies out? Nothing comes of it? Yeah. Had a few of those already in the bag at Hope.)

This Laura thought she was in love with a guy who was wonderful but things were not coming together. As in, most plans to spend time together didn’t work out. It was as if we both really wanted a relationship with each other, but it was a struggle. Not our personalities colliding, just tension. Like we were both trying hard to make it work but our efforts always left us at failed attempts. Like we were spinning our wheels and exerting tons of energy to somehow just see each other.

So Laura of Spring 2005 boarded a plane from Grand Rapids, MI with what felt like a million other Hope College students (in reality, there were about 50 of us. Including my dear, dear friend Leslie.) While waiting to check-in, I couldn’t help looking back a couple times at the airport bench. In between faces I recognized, was a cute guy that I was confused by, didn’t recognize. Hope was only 3,500 students. While I may not have known every person at Hope, I did know nearly every face.

“Hmm. He must just have an opposite schedule to me.” I thought.

Layover in Atlanta, GA. Cute guy I didn’t recognize approaches Leslie and I.

“Hi, I’m Jason. Can I sit by you guys?”

Why, yes. Yes. You. Can.

Jason and I figured out we both needed to exchange our currency. I guess we could go do that together.

Fast forward to the plane ride from Atlanta to Johannesburg. We were on a MASSIVE plane with what must have been a thousand seats. (P.S. I never exaggerate.)

I felt an ache in my heart as new cute boy Jason was like, 20 rows in front of me. To the left. But who really knows.

The plane ride was super special.

As in, apparently, it was that time of the month, my bowels decided to act up…oh! And I puked. So, there was that.

Feeling fresh-as-a-daisy, I stepped off the plane sporting track pants, a “Frankfort, MI” t-shirt and my glasses.

Good heavens, I was serious about my commitment to be there for the kids and “not to find a guy.”

Feeling the pangs of regret for not having a stitch of makeup on or putting my contacts in that day, we got on the bus that would take us to our destination city, Umtata.

We were told it would be a 13 hour bus ride from the Johannesburg airport to the rural town of Umtata.

I sat down next to Leslie in the aisle seat. Jason still hadn’t gotten on the charter bus.

Butterflies exploded in my stomach as I caught a glimpse of him stepping on.

“God,” I silently pleaded. PLEASE let him sit by me! I know this is the most frivilous prayer ever! But, please let him sit by me.”

Jason took the aisle seat an arms length away.

Pretty sure all breath left my body in that moment.

“Oh. My. Gosh. THANK YOU, JESUS! THANK YOU!”

That rumored 13 hour bus ride turned out to be a 16 hour bus ride, in which we sat next to each other and chatted for the majority of.

We discussed our relationships with the Lord. Our convictions on social/moral issues. How in love with God we were. What He was teaching us.

I could marry this man. He is exactly what I’m looking for in a husband.

It excited and scared the crap outta me all at the same time.

At our first worship service in Umtata. I thought I might just die with his arm around me.

At our first worship service in Umtata. I thought I might just die with his arm around me.

Those couple weeks in South Africa, we didn’t get a lot of opportunities to talk to each other. Our large group comprised of students from across the U.S. and others from Zambia and South Africa were split. Jason went to another town 2 hours away to serve while I stayed at the Umtata base (and no, we didn’t get to choose our teams. I would have given my right arm to be with Jason that week.)

There was a beautiful, serene tree that would often go to those weeks in Umtata to pray, journal and read the Word.

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Here, I poured out my heart to God time and time again.

Told Him things like “God, I just want to serve You with my life. I want to love You more. I want what You want for me.” 

I told my Savior what He already knew: “Lord, I want to get married. I long for that. Show me, God, what You want me to do. Lead me. Give me a husband who loves You!”

Within the last couple days of the trip, I sat and listened for the voice of God. I was desperate for Him to speak to me.

There, under that tree, I heard His still, small voice “Laura, when you get home, something so great is going to happen. It’s going to completely blow you away. Just wait for it.” 

I got excited. Really excited. I thought, okay. Things will finally work out with the boy I’m enamored with back at home.

See, although I knew Jason was exactly the type of person I wanted to marry, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together. And while our conversations were good, while I was totally falling for him, he was nice to me like he was nice to everyone.

No special signals. No signs of a mutual attraction.

So nearing the end of the trip I told myself to just get over it. Jason and I were never going to happen.

God must have been talking about the guy back in Holland, MI.

Fast forward to July 2005. We had been back at home for a month. Me living at home with my parents for the summer and Jason back in the Chicago suburbs with his parents.

I thought about Jason often. How handsome he was. How grounded he was. His faith.

It got me teary-eyed. It honestly made me mad.

Why couldn’t he feel the same way I felt about him? 

I  knew I had a lot to offer. Was I not good enough for Jason?

Then, I felt this unshakable urge to email him.

“Really, God?” I silently whined. “I just want to be done with this. If he’s not interested by now, this is ridiculous. I. Don’t. Want. To.”

Still, the sense persisted. So I emailed Jason.

The email was something like “How are you doing? Yadda yadda. This is what God’s been teaching me….here are the Bible verses that have really spoken to me lately.”

(Sidenote: Jason tells me now that those verses were exactly what he needed and the encouragement he was yearning for. Cray.)

He emailed me back.

I responded.

Before we knew it, were were emailing nearly every other day.

I had made plans to visit my Hope friend Steph and Morgan in their hometown of Chicago for a weekend that month.

Again, the sense I needed to call Jason.

“Really God? Isn’t HE suppose to be the one pursuing ME?! Why do have to call??”

I called. Told him I didn’t know if he was busy this weekend, but that I was going to be in Chicago visiting some girlfriends. He sounded surprisingly excited. Turns out, that weekend was the the only weekend he’d be home the entire summer.

But, we didn’t make any plans.

That weekend, I was at dinner with Steph and Morgan at the Wheaton, IL Macaroni Grill.

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Flip phone rings. Jason.

“Hey, I’m suppose to be at a youth group event, but can’t find the place. What are you doing?”

“I’m at dinner in Wheaton with Steph and Morgan.”

“No way! I’m right here! Be in in a minute.”

Chances, people? Really? Really.

End of August 2005. Had just gotten settled into my apartment for my junior year at Hope. 

My phone rang.

I didn’t recognize the number. My heart sank. Could this be Jason?!

“Hey Laura, it’s Jason!”

Shut the freaking front door! We’ve upgraded to phone calls.

He proceed to ask what I was doing that weekend and if he could come visit me.

My thoughts? Why yes, Jason. Yes, you CAN come visit me.

We dated for 5 months. Three hours away from each other, we’d visit pretty much whenever we could.

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Both finishing college and working. We went through Bible studies together. We went through Christian books together.

We laughed.

We made a lot of mistakes.

We vowed to save the beautiful gift of intimacy with each other until we got married.

May 26, 2006. On bending knee on the shores of Lake Michigan in Holland, Jason asked if I would be his wife and spend forever with him.

I practically attacked him and screamed with excitement like a lunatic for 20 minutes and said YES!

We spent our engagement day boating with my family. Crazy-in-love and dreaming of our future together.

We spent our engagement day boating with my family. Crazy-in-love and dreaming of our future together.

We got married at Hope College’s Dimnet chapel on June 9, 2007 where I grew a lot spiritually those college years.

The same place I said “yes” to going on that trip to South Africa in the first place.

We began our happily ever after.

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Jason and I are two incredibly flawed, broken people.

We disagree. We annoy each other sometimes.

At the end of the day, he’s my love. My best friend.

I am beyond-words, crazy-thankful I get to do life with this man.

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Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura