Summer, is that really you?

We couldn't wait for summer. Really. We were ready for warm, long days and ice pops and fun, fun, fun.

And then.

It came. And Lincoln came home on the last day of school with a cold. What in the world. He hardly missed a day of school all year, then he came home with a cold. And it's lingered. He can't shake it. We're on our second round of medicine over here. And then Lily came down with a sore throat and a cough and an ear ache. Long nights over here. And I ended up with some unexpected medical issues too. And now the Jeffster's not feeling great.

Oh Lord.

Basically, it feels like we're paying for our doctors' vacations this summer.

Add to that a project I was working on, an upcoming book birthday for The Last Summer (which is today!), some other stressful issues we're dealing with, martial arts testing for both Ash and Linc, and Jeff being out of town for five days, and suddenly, we're not checking off the boxes I'd marked for summer. All of our excursions look like doctor offices and hospitals and pharmacies and airports.

And it's okay.

Because life happens.

It's almost eight o'clock over here and I'm sitting at the table, watching Ashtyn and Lincoln (in their pajamas) jump on the trampoline as the sun sets. (Summer cold or not, you can't keep Linc down for long.) We spent three hours at the martial arts studio this morning for testing for Ash and she was amazing. My little girl was paired up with a bigger boy and I watched as Ashtyn Noel (covered head to toe in protective gear) held her own and fought hard. And then all of us in the studio stood in a big circle, around a family who's young son just died. And the owner of the martial arts studio cried and the family wept, and it was beautiful and so painful and a reminder . . . we can't control everything.

And we aren't meant to. 

We make plans, but plans change.

I was truly in awe of the strength of this family. Mom, Dad, siblings, a grandpa, aunt and uncle--all hurting so much, but honoring their son. They stood there in the circle, holding each other.

Even in summer, even during holidays--we can't control everything.

One of the blessings of life is the people we share it with. We had lunch not so long ago over at some friends' house. We've been friends for many years now, and we sat around the table and talked for hours, while the children played. Lighthearted topics and serious topics--amid the busyness of this month, just sitting and talking felt like a hug right when I needed it. And there have been moments this month when I have really needed a hug. (Or maybe a margarita.)

I love the warmth of summer. I love green grass and trees and kids that smell like sunscreen and trips to Baskin Robbins.

We'll roll with the rest because it is what it is.

Every mama knows that on those nights when all the kids are sick, you'll keep going no matter what. And juggling schedules is nothing new to any of us. We dragged Lily's mattress into our room last night so she could sleep near us without breathing all over us (again). And also, she needed to be near me and I needed to be near her.

So while it hasn't been the start to summer that I expected, it's life with my people and that's always what I want. And honestly, the rest of the summer is about to get even more hectic. (Pray for the plague to leave my house before I have a meltdown.)

I'm pretty tired over here today, and it's crazy to me that it's been a year since my house was packed with friends and we were celebrating the release of The Last Summer. Jen Turano was doing a reading. There were pitchers of summer sangria everywhere. Music and cake and flip-flops. (I've been reliving it through the blog post here.)

It was perfect. A memory I will cherish forever.

@Justreadtours is doing a giveaway in honor of The Last Summer's birthday and I'm so thrilled about it. Jump over to Instagram and check it out. And for all of you who are hanging by the pool or going to the beach (or who are stuck at home with the plague and can only go to the backyard--raising my hand over here), slip The Last Summer in your tote, slide on some sunglasses, and start your summer read!

I've just received the audio files to review for The Last Summer. I'm basically thrilled. This will be my first audio version of one of my books! I'll announce the release date of that via my newsletter later this summer.

How's your summer so far, loveys? Watermelons and splash pads? Or fruity drinks and beaches? (Or Ibuprofin and Netflix?) There's something freeing about taking a breath and reminding ourselves that we can plan and schedule, but some things are out of our control, and the most we can do is keep going, loving our people and letting them love us, taking it one day at a time.



When You Need Spring

Loveys, I have this life cycle I'm constantly living through.

Bangs and no bangs.

It's actually much trickier than you might think. This means that many months out of every year, I go through 'growing out my bangs.' This is a tragedy. Then I get bangs again (yay!) then I inevitably need a break from them. I'm in the 'growing them out' stage of life right now. Sad. I tell the Jeffster that my bangs are giving me a true, literal headache, and he never understands.

I wonder why I ever get them.

I wonder why I ever grow them out.

It's tough.

You know what else is tough? Springtime snow and sniffles and sore throats. Which is what's happening at my house right now. We woke up to a little unexpected snow this morning. And all my kids woke up feeling not great. Lily's feeling the worst. She sneezed on me all night. And she's gone through almost a whole roll of toilet paper (please, Jeff, bring home tissues) because she constantly tells me she needs a clean tissue for her tiny nose. Her nose hurts and her throat hurts and she's miserable and it makes me so sad when my kids are sick. So I'm thinking we'll be homebound for the rest of the week and hope she feels better.

I need springtime for real.

I need green grass and warm days and flowers and strawberry salsa (sorry, the Food Network is on in the background). This pale body of mine needs Vitamin D.

And on these days, when I'm worn out because we didn't get much sleep, I'm worried about the kids, I have zero energy to pick up one thing--on these days, I start longing for what's not here yet, but it's coming. Do you ever feel that? It's around the corner and it'll get here eventually, but today there's still snow. This can be so many things, guys. Longing for your relationship to get to a better place. Longing for what used to be or what needs to be. Longing for change or something new. Longing for stillness and personal time (what's that you say? Is personal time an actual thing?). Longing for adventure. Longing for quiet. Longing for healing. Longing for vacation for heaven's sake!

I think this comes for me at the end of every winter. I've lived in Colorado for 14 years. We've had snow at least once in May every year. And by that point, I'm so desperate for summer that I growl when  it's cold. We're transitioning to spring over here. A few buds. A tiny bit of green grass under the snow. It's beautiful in our mountain town, because in the distance, you can see snow-capped peaks everywhere, but down in the foothills everything's coming back to life. We went to church Sunday all dressed up for Easter and the kids woke up to baskets and chocolate. Spring is here (despite the wind chill) and I need it in so many ways. Rebirth. Rejuvenation.

Have you ever seen the movie The Passion? I confess I was only able to sit through it once and won't ever again because that's hard to see--but there was this one part that has stuck with me forever. When Jesus is broken and battered, and still says to Mary (who's feeling all these heart-aching things I can't even fathom), "See, Mother, I make all things new."

I literally sobbed through that whole movie, but that part, that's what my small, sometimes wavering faith clings to always.

He makes all things new. Maybe not all at once. But it's coming.

I think our souls need to be made new sometimes. I think we need spring after winter. Hope amid fear. And for me, I think there are times I need to clean closets and air out the house and put tulips in a vase. And maybe go out for grapefruit cocktails and appetizers with friends. (Sadly, none of those things will be happening this week for me.)

Week before last was spring break for the kids, so our family took a quick trip to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. We got there and it was snowing like crazy and I was going crazy while trying to find all the winter jackets and gloves and hats in the mess and chaos that comes with road trips and families. And then, when I finally got everyone bundled to go see Mount Rushmore in a snowstorm (and yes, there were moments of me saying to Jeff, What are we DOING here?), the sun came through and drove away all the clouds and it was gorgeous (still cold but gorgeous). The snow was gone in an instant (kind of like how it is in Colorado). And we had a great time and made memories and experienced something new. We took the trip because we so needed to just get out of town and have a little adventure. Do you ever feel that way? We stopped in little mountain towns like the one below (Deadwood, Jeff insisted), spent the night in a hotel (which thrills the kids beyond measure), and saw new things.

We made it through spring break and Good Friday and then Easter and those were all good things. Now this week, my kids are down for the count and I can see more sleepless nights in our future. It reminds me that I'm weak sometimes. I get tired. Jeff gets tired. You know those days.

And sometimes we're facing more than a seasonal sickness that wipes us out for a few days, sometimes it's bigger and scarier. Or it's depression or anxiety and we can't pull ourselves out of it no matter how hard we try. Or we're lonely and need people to reach out to us. Maybe we need to feel like we're loved and seen. Maybe we need change. Maybe we just really need a date night.

Loveys, sometimes winter feels long. But spring is coming and He makes all things new. Good news on both accounts.

I can hardly believe it's already April, but that means we've got only two more months till school's out and summer's here. Two more months until Ash is finished with fourth grade and Linc is finished with first. Good grief! How did I get here?

It's one of those weeks at my house, loveys. Ice cream for sore throats and medicine for runny noses and exhausted moms and dads. Most likely there will be doctor visits. For sure there will be pajamas and ordering pizza at some point and more cartoons than I can count.

And in it all, we're lucky to have each other. I can see outside that the snow from this morning has melted. It's time to get the kids from school and feed everyone and prepare for a long night with Miss Lily.

Like my mother used to do for me and my sisters.

It seems to me, especially in the seasons of longing for something or hoping for something, that we need each other so much.

All the Good Things

Loveys, there's a new member of my family. My baby sister had her very own baby. Virginia Rose Falwell is not even two weeks old and she's already so adored by her whole family. My three little kiddos have a new cousin who we've been waiting anxiously for. I spent last week in Virginia, hopping between my parents' house and my sister and brother-in-law's home. That week was filled with moments I'll hold in my heart forever. There's nothing quite like those quiet, middle-of-the-night snuggles with a brand-new baby. It's been three years since I had those with Miss Lily, and I will absolutely treasure those moments I got to have with my niece Virginia. She's so precious and she's so lucky to have truly wonderful parents. Laura and Wes have been amazing from the start. I'm proud of both of them.

I arrived back in Denver at three a.m. to my own bleary-eyed babies and the Jeffster, with flowers and kisses. I missed my people and it's always good to be home. Goodbyes are always more sad than hellos, but life tends to be filled with both of them. And life is a gift. My parents dropped me off at the airport in Lynchburg (then I called them and asked them to come back with Chick-fil-A. #momanddadlife ). And I came home with a heart full of new memories.

I'm home now to writing projects and freelance edits and a messy house and lots to do. The Jeffster juggled everything for a week without me and did such a fantastic job--MANY thanks also to my wonderful friends June and Danielle for helping too. Love you both.

Miss Lily's third birthday is right around the corner and I can't believe it. She crawled in bed next to me sometime in the middle of the night, and this morning, she wanted one arm around me and one around Jeff and she said she loves her family. (Yes, my heart melts!) Time seems to be flying. Then there are all these moments--like rocking a baby in the middle of the night or getting some important news or snuggling with your three-year-old after having been away--where time seems to stand still. You hold on to how you feel and try to commit it to memory. Then time moves on and pulls you with it.

I remember the day Laura was born, the experience of that day has stuck with me all these years. It felt a bit surreal to walk into the hospital room just about nine hours after baby Virginia was born, and see Laura there as a new mother (looking gorgeous by the way. Unfair).

Time moving on, and time standing still, loveys.

I'm so thankful and I love my family so much.

We're ready for spring and summer over here. Warm weather (hopefully), spring break, birthday cake--all those good things. Speaking of good things, I have some fun book news coming soon via my newsletter later this month. If you haven't signed up for that, plug your email into the newsletter sign-up on the sidebar to the right.

What about you, loveys? Ready for spring? Chocolate eggs and pastel dresses and flip-flops? Spring feels like hope to me. And hope is very welcome at my house.

Come on in.