Exciting News Coming This Week!

We have some exciting news to share this week. It has been a almost a year since you’ve heard from us!  Our big plans took little longer than we originally thought.  My oldest daughter graduated from high school last year and I wanted to enjoy every last moment with her home so our plans got put aside for a while.  I don’t regret it, the year was so special and filled with so many precious memories.  It went by in a flash!

Graduation Day!

Graduation Family Photo

She is off to college, now I have more time on my hands.  We have our new project ready to share with you!  Stay tuned for the launch of this exciting new adventure Jules and I have been working on.  The big reveal will be this Wednesday!

Blessings,

Jen

Summer Is Coming!

Greetings faithful followers!

We’ve had enough warm weather to start me thinking about some of my favorite summer trips. One of our “must do” trips every year is Mackinaw Island. It has a little bit of everything! Bridges and birds, flowers and butterfly’s, boats and bikes, carriage rides and stables, beautiful churches and scenery. I’ve put together a couple of collages to share some of our excursions to Mackinaw. (The beautiful model is my oldest grandaughter!)

 

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Mackinaw collage 2

I hope that if you haven’t had a chance to visit this Michigan treasure, to think about scheduling a trip this summer!

On another note, this will be the last post on Sweet and Simple Inspirations for awhile. Jen and I are working on another project that will be fun and exciting and we will tell you all about it when we return. So don’t give up on us and stay tuned while we are under a bit of construction!

under constructionSee you all soon!

Jules and Jen

Important Life Lessons Before College

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Hi everyone! For those in Michigan-what is up with these warmer temperatures!  I’m not going to question it, I’m just thankful for each day we don’t have to battle freezing temperatures, ice and snow!  Also, where did January go?  Usually it just drags by, but this year it has flown!  I’m not sure why, but I think it might have to do with the fact that time is racing too quickly as we prepare for our oldest to graduate from high school in June!

So I have had this panicky feeling over the past few months of trying to think of everything I need to teach her before she leaves the nest!  Now we have had 17 years to try to impart wisdom and knowledge to her but I’ve realized over the past couple of months that some things may have been overlooked.  Some of the basics she has been doing for a while-she does her own laundry, makes a mean bowl of mac and cheese and is driving herself to school and work.  However, I find myself randomly quizzing her on things: Do you know how to address and stamp a letter, write a check, make a dentist appointment and so on.  I’ve been teaching her about stranger danger since she was a toddler but I had a feeling of pure fear picturing her walking home from a college class at night!

When I step back and take a breath, I realize she will be okay.  We have taught her some of the most important things: love God, be thankful, love family, have a heart for service, treat others the way you want to be treated, work hard, and find some time for fun.   As she gets ready to transition into adulthood and test her wings out in the big world, I know she will have many more lessons to learn.  But as in everything, I have learned to give it all to God, she is His beloved child and I know He is with her each step of the way.

…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:20

So how about you veteran parents out there that have sent your babies off to college?  What should be on my list of things to know before you leave the nest?  I welcome your ideas in the comments!

~Blessings

Jen

Living In The Gap

“Living In The Gap”-This is a phrase Jules uses for those times when you are living in that place of uncertainty and unknowns, of silence in answer to prayers. It is a place where there are more questions than answers and  life may seem unfair.  It is while living in this place that I drew closer to God, learned to trust in His promises and plan for my life and began to understand that silence to my prayers doesn’t always mean no, it might mean-not yet.

Seven years ago on January 13th, we brought home this lively, spunky, loving child from across the world and our lives were forever changed.  Had my prayers for a second baby been answered, we would have never known this precious gift and I could not imagine our lives without her!

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You see as I had been praying for another child, our sweet Little One was not even born yet.  God had plans for our life, but we had to wait for His timing.  That period of waiting for an answer was one of the hardest in my life.  Living in that gap of wondering if we would ever have a second child was challenging.  Every day I had to focus on the blessings in my life- a loving husband, a beautiful healthy daughter, family, friends and good health, as I waited and wondered if our little family of three would expand.  I clung to God and had to give up control to Him and learn to trust in His plan for the situation.  He eventually led us to Russia where we found the missing piece to our family, to our hearts.  The wait was worth it a million times over! God’s perfect, perfect timing.

So if you find yourself “Living In the Gap”, hold on, trust in God and His plan for you!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This verse got me through some difficult and challenging days.  I hope it brings you comfort too.

~Blessings,

Jen

Snapshot Moments

Life has been moving at breakneck speed around our house since the beginning of September, especially for Eldest. In addition to her twenty plus hour a week competitive marching band schedule and a very challenging course load at school, she has been working on early admissions to colleges.   Some days I feel as if I’m barely keeping all of our heads above water with the day-to-day demands of life.

The other night I was feeling like the day would never end. It had been a long day of work, after-school activities, homework, dinner prep and clean up, lunch making and laundry and I just wanted to sit down when Eldest let us know that we would be needed for proofing her college application essays. The Mister and I exchanged glances and knew that there would be no relaxing on the sofa catching up on our favorite TV shows that evening or probably for the next few nights.

Friends have told me how busy senior year is and that it is over in the blink of an eye and I am beginning to understand what they were talking about. The past two months have disappeared like a vapor and I have hardly had a chance to catch my breath between activities. Back to school nights, school conferences, Homecoming, band performances and more have flown by!

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Last Marching Band Performance at a Football Game

So as we all gathered in the living room together, pouring over her college essays, I realized we had spent more time with Eldest this week working with her on these college applications than we had in a long time. I started getting emotional thinking about the fact that a year from now, she would be gone. In the midst of my weariness and feelings of being overwhelmed with life, I found myself feeling so happy and content in that moment. It was just an ordinary weeknight at home together, but I would cherish the memory of this night. Staring at Eldest, her youth and the excitement of so many wonderful opportunities ahead of her in life, yet still always my little girl, my heart was happy, yet melancholy. I said a silent prayer of thanks to God for the gift of this child no longer a child but a young woman.

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All grown up!

I tried to remember the words of my older, wiser sister Jules who said, don’t be sad when they leave because they come back and give you grand babies one day! I see Jules enjoying that stage of life and realize this isn’t the end, only the beginning of a wonderful life of many “snapshot moments”, these tiny snippets of time with our loved ones that we hold on to and cherish all of our days.

I’m happy to say all college applications were completed this weekend, now we can all breathe and relax a little-oh wait, now I need to start birthday shopping and planning for Little One’s December birthday and Christmas! It’ll be okay; we are just collecting more “snapshot moments” for the memory books!

I wish you a great week and some special “snapshot moments”.

~Blessings,

Jen

The Time Is Now

Jules and I have been trying to plan a girls getaway with our Mom for years! We have never been away together, just the three of us, so this summer we finally did it!  Better late than never!  It was everything we hoped it would be, full of shopping, good food, fun and laughs.

It wasn’t easy to get away, with trying to coordinate schedules, childcare, a dog sitter and spending time researching the perfect destination, but it was worth it to see this smile on my Mom’s face!

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That strange man behind us is not a creeper, he is our brother who joined us on one night to celebrate my Mom’s birthday!  We decided on Mackinac Island as our destination.  As “Michiganders”, we have been there many times, but it never gets old and I always seem to see or learn something new each time I go, not to mention the scenery is stunning and the homemade fudge sold all over the island is worth every decadent calorie!

This post is a little photo heavy, but for those readers who have never been to Mackinac Island, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what a neat place it is!

The Mackinac Bridge connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas

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The Grand Hotel

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Arch Rock

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There is a beautiful butterfly garden on the island.

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A little selfie fun on the boat ride to Mackinac Island!

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So blessed!

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I saw a saying recently on-line that said if you are waiting to find the “perfect” time to do something, it will never happen.  There will always be barriers to finding the “perfect” time or a reason why something won’t work.  We waited a lot of years to go on this trip with our Mom and I wish we would have done it long ago.  It was such a special, memorable time and I can’t wait for our next outing!

So if you have been thinking about doing something special with someone you love, whether it be just a girls weekend, a getaway with your Mister or a family vacation, NOW is the time.  We would love to hear about your adventures in the comments below.

~Blessings,

Jen