Rain, Rain, Rain

I remember back when my cousin’s little family lived in Seattle her oldest, J1, got really tired of the rain. Katie told me that one day he was looking out the window and said, “It just keeps raining and raining and raining and raining. {sigh} And raining.” The Minneapolis weather of late has reminded me of that story. Every. single. day. Because…

It just keeps raining and raining and raining and raining. {sigh} And raining.

One this particular day in the beginning of June, it was raining while the sun was shining brightly. Happy!rain

{Sammie} Purple

Sammie was having a happy-after-nap day with blue toes, shared goldfish, and talking to Grandma. She says in her sleepy-voice,”Kani’s cam-era. Take picture.”samantha

{joi joi} Goodbyes

On Sunday, a large group of people said good-bye to a dear friend. Some where closer to her than others, but no one in that room would ever be the same again. Our Joi is dead.

True, Joi Joi is in Heaven now. She feels no pain and feels with certainty the whole-making joy and acceptance that she gave to everyone she came into contact with.

Photo0120When I first heard the news, I was shocked. Joi Joi? Dead? How can it be?? ‘I’ve been thinking about you, Joi. I miss spending time with you like we used to. I want to hang out with you. Soon! Maybe we can take a picnic to the Stone Arch Bridge again. When do you have time?’ But that call was never made. I felt guilt that I hadn’t called Joi. If I had called more often, would she still be alive? Told her more often how much she meant to me, how special and amazing and loving and beautiful and irreplaceable she was?

joi1Then a song started ringing in my head. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart… Only, I pictured it going I’ve got my Joi Joi, joy, joy, down in my heart…down in my heart to stay. And all the verses would stream through my head. For three straight days that song took over my brain. Now I’ll probably cry whenever it’s sung.

But really, it’s true! The memories and love we have for Joi will always be in our hearts. The encouraging texts, the letters, the stories. Her beautiful light-up-the-world smile. That laugh that invited everyone in to be included in something funny. There are very few people I feel comfortable being myself around. Joi Joi was one of them.

And so. I spent the week leading up to Joi Joi’s funeral alternating between avoiding what and how I was feeling and then facing the pain head-on. Instead of doing the things that needed doing (like cleaning, laundry, cooking for work, etc), I did things that were better to do. Spending time with friends, playing with toddlers, chasing little ones around the park taking pictures for their mom, holding babies, cooking meals for friends, watching garden be created, praying. Lotsa praying. And some crying…ok, a lot of that, too.kiddos

The funeral was good. There were flowers for everyone to wear. People I hadn’t seen in far too long. Beautiful memories shared, wonderful songs played. The message was one of hope, not loss. Joi is in Heaven! Yes, she struggled. Do you feel guilty, like there was something you maybe could have done? Own those feelings – and release them to God. Don’t let them control you. It was what I was hoping for, but not what I was expecting.

At the end of the service I made the long trek back home and decided to go find some flowers for Joi Joi. I picked up my camera and headed to Long Lake Park for to see those walking trails laden with purples, oranges, whites and yellows. And bugs. There I said goodbye to Joi Joi again.joi2

We always pray and give thanks to God for you. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God for you because we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus. We thank God for your love for all those who belong to Christ. We thank God for the hope that is being kept for you in heaven.
Colossians 1:3-5, NLV


Whenever I see these flowers I think of their name. Which makes me think of school shootings. Mostly, the Colorado one in 1999. I remember the stories of Cassie Bernall and later Rachel Scott. And then I think of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the brave acts that saved many little lives.

It makes my heart ache for the families who lost someone precious and for the children who will have the memory of death for the rest of their life. It makes me angry. It makes me pray.

Then I look at the flower again and think of life, how it is frail and beautiful and only lasts for a moment. Life lost too soon… death. It can claim any one of us at any moment.columbine

{N.E.C.} Playing Pretend

Well, you’ve already met N, E, and C. These are from before Mother’s Day when we started work on some Super-Secret-Projects for Mother’s Day. Which were ready a couple weeks early. And were also made for a *really* early Father’s day (pictures at the end of this post).2NEC1N wanted to be dressed up in her ball gown for the pictures. She was sooo excited to make a special project for her mom that was a secret!

2NEC2 E was very silly that day. She changed a few times and ended up in this outfit, a little ballerina!

2NEC3C was diggin’ his sister’s shades and played with them for quite a while.

2NEC4N was having fun telling E a story from the Zoo of Far Far Away with her horse and dolls. E had fun throwing her penguin up in the air and then jumping after it.

NECN and E are BIG into mermaids and princesses right now. And were VERY tired of all. the. snow.

happy mothers fathers dayHere are the Super-Secret-Projects made for King Daddy and Queen Mommy. Each girl picked out the colors and did the painting themselves. N did all her own gluing too. 🙂 They picked out C’s colors also.

{Minnehaha} Purple and Green

A favorite haunt for my friend Jamie and I is Minnehaha Falls. It is considered favored even if we only get there once a year. We walk around, hunting down forget-me-nots, sit on a bench or the grass by Hiawatha and Minnehaha, check if the Falls are strong or not. We spend this time talking about life, questions, worries, what we are learning. I’m pretty sure we’ve both cried and we always find something to laugh about. There is always prayer and almost always food. minnehaha1minnehaha2

{N.E.C.} Hello, Royalty

When I first met them, N was three, E was two, and C was 6 months. C hung around on the floor, playing with toys and giggling at silly things his sisters did. N and E were busy getting to know their new babysitter and we maybe had a bit of a rough start, since it was really right after Christmas things started full steam. I would expect that! But as we got to know each other better, these were the greatest little girls to hang out with! We had fun coloring, telling stories, singing, going to the park (even in the snow), playing in the snow, reading books and all sorts of other things.

One past time that we did almost daily, and could take several hours, was making up “‘cary zoo ‘tories”. The main characters were Trainer Nora and Trainer Eliza, daughters of King Daddy and Queen Mommy. They protected the zoo animals (and the whole kingdom of the Land of Far Far Away!) from all the evil people who came to steal, kill and destroy. A few times we used all their building blocks and toy people to make castles with kings and queens and zoos. Then they would be destroyed by the bad guy (usually the Batman) and we would start over.

1NEC1When the Queen was chosen, E held her up and said, ‘Awww. She doesn’t have a hand. It was bit off.”1NEC2

PS – please don’t judge the names! The first time I told the story, I had no idea they would be so popular…