Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Family Picture Day Video 2019

Here is our video for this year...


Friday, November 8, 2019

12 Months of Vale

 I took a picture of her, each month on the 8th. Here is the compilation of the whole year strung together.

Vale's 1 year old birthday video

Our family picture day for 2018 was Vale's birth-day pictures. It was a busy time, and I didn't get around to posting them in the typical family picture day style, but I included them in her birthday video...She had a whirlwind 1st year, but oh how we love her.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Brooks' 12th Birthday Trip

So the big 12th birthday trip tradition is in full swing. Brooks has had a full year to think about what he would want to do/where he would want to go, and he decided - to watch the GOAT, Tom Brady play in person. 
To have that occur, he had to wait from his birthday in May, until the season started in the fall. We picked a day when the Patriots would be playing the Redskins, since that's our "local" NFL team, 4 hours away.
Brian and Brooks spent the weekend in DC. They rented Limes to scoot around town quickly and see all the sights.

They did quite a few of the museums, and scooted past so many monuments!

They ate lots of yummy food. Their hotel didn't serve breakfast so they had to go find their own...they were not disappointed. 

They got a donut the size of Brooks' head, apparently😂

Brooks' first NFL game - and note: little did we know that actually this would be Brady's last year with the Patriots, and also the Redskins last year as the Redskins. An epic choice and timing of turning 12! Oh yeah, and the Patriots won that day:-)
They had such a great time! It was the perfect weekend for Brooks, combining basically every aspect of his favourite things. Memories to last a lifetime! 💙

Friday, August 9, 2019

9 months old!

I've been keeping up with the monthlies on IG, but figured it was time for something on here. She's a sweet little thing - if she gets her way. If not, well, you'll know it. She's cute as a button, and definitely the favourite in the house, adored by all. She's a wonderful blend of each of them, in both looks and personality, so it's fun to be able to point out and observe the different traits, and have them notice them too, as "big kids". She still doesn't have much hair:-) Haha! Poor kid. We love her, and we're so grateful we get to keep her.

She loves it when we sing "Shaunie Vale" to the tune of Baby Shark...Shaunie Vale do do do do do do, I love you!


Chubby baby fingers are my favourite

She loves all her stuffties, especially her sloths. She's very expressive with them.
Oh, that face!!

Beach pics

The beach today was fun. We went in the 95 degree afternoon, so we couldn't bring the dog this time, but I don't think the kids minded. They found lots of hermit crabs, a dog welk (which is?! I don't even know), and fish! The baby is getting used to the water, and seems quite enthralled with both the taste of sand, and the saltiness of the water. Next summer she'll be coming up on two, and it'll be a whole 'nother scene:-) I'm enjoying the peaceful lack of mobility this go around, for sure. We sit and chat on the waters edge. And it's bliss.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Red Coat Series

Well, I have a new camera, and I can't pick just one, so here's a whole lotta lovey cute! She's the best test subject for honing my photography skills, dontcha think?!

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Reflection

A reflection is an image - and what you see in your reflection depends on how clearly you can see yourself. A shimmery pond means that you'll see a distortion, but a clean and clear piece of mirrored glass will give you a pretty accurate view. But it's still just a reflection. It's not the real thing. Isn't it weird to think that as familiar you are with yourself, you've never actually seen yourself? We think we know ourselves - and we do - better than anyone else. But still, we can't see ourselves accurately.

After turning 40 this month, I have given myself to some introspection as I am prone towards from time to time. Four decades behind me, and each one sort of  it's own journey. A few different parts of my story that come together in forty years of living.
My Mom's family in 1979. I was the first grandchild on the Shantz side. My Uncle Greg (directly behind me) would pass away just one year from this photo.
My first decade can be described in probably one word. Growth, and love. So two words, I guess. What does any one do in these formative years, but form? So, I grew. Healthy, and strong, and so loved by everyone around me. That was a mark of blessing on my life I was not in control of. Look down at a helpless precious baby sometime, and wonder how anyone can leave them uncared for. I can not under value the gift of being wanted. And I had that gift in spades. I was not perfect (because what child is?!), but I was cherished regardless. I will ever be grateful to my family of origin for loving me, whether or not I was lovable. Because I think, upon reflection (and having children of my own, which offers a decent reflective-glass, I've found), I was often harder to love than I thought at the time. But they never let on. They learned something, and applied it well - and I am the grateful beneficiary. How to love well.

I seem to remember I was wearing my brothers coat:-)

Jennifer, my German Cabbage Patch Doll - given to me by someone at church.

Me & My Daddy. Always.
Growing up turned my first decade into my second. This one took all the forming and gave it skills and a firm foundation. My church, my friends, my family, my friends, my employers. I can point to each one in a special way and see how God was shaping me through them. What I believed, and why. It wasn't told to me. I learned it, and I owned it. Although I didn't have the experience to back it up, this theoretical knowledge has stood the test of time, as there are very few things - if any - that I can point to now as being different in my beliefs.

15 years old. And that perm. What can I say? 😂

Kennedy kids 1991
The worst part about growing up, in my opinion at the time, was that it takes so long to happen. I was ready. And I steamrolled right into my third decade. My 20's brought with them all the big changes of life. Grown up jobs. Real, honest friendships. A boyfriend, and then a husband. A major move (goodbye Canada, hello USA). I "lost" my family with a major move of their own which carried them far far away, and it took a really long time for me to come to terms with all the things you lose in a move (my own, and other peoples). But it wasn't all losing, because I gained a lot too. Lots of grownup life decisions. Kids. I find it hard to imagine that you could pack more life into 10 years than I did. It was fun. It was exciting. It was my joy to experience every minute of those ten years. Because of the breakneck pace of life in those days...

My 23rd Birthday! I can't remember why I seem to have two cakes:-)

The Kennedy Family 2000

Some of/most of the friends I grew up with. They endured the perm phase kindly😂

I hit 30 and it didn't seem like life would slow down anytime soon. I welcomed my last baby, or so I thought. And then the unimaginable happened - life slowed down. A lot. My world shrunk down to the four walls of my house, or so it felt, and often does when raising littles. And I was not prepared, given all the growing that had taken place the 30 years prior, for all the growth that was about to come, because everything just felt so settled. I guess I'd thought I was all done with that sort of thing. Life got complicated and hard. I felt unequipped and I was (and still am). Grown up decisions, yeah, sure. But these weren't fun, or exciting, as they had been in the past. God showed himself front and center in the middle of my story, and it surprised me. It shouldn't have, but it did. It took 3 whole decades to discover something that should have been obvious in all the previous experiences of my years.

I realized, maybe too late, that I am not enough. I blame this revelation on being loved too well, which can never be called a problem, really. But it did cushion me, and because of my natural weaknesses, made me both self sufficient and lazy at the same time. I just really had never come up against a scenario when I didn't think I could figure a way through it. Until I did, and that was a pretty hard fall. But in the falling, I learned something huge, which has two parts, and defines, I think, the most recent decade of my life. First part is - It doesn't matter. Second part is - It matters.

I came to see that my "not enoughness" was not a problem. It doesn't matter at all - because I'm not supposed to be enough. Why did I think I was? Why did I think I should be? I am not enough to meet the needs around me. Not on my own anyway. I had a very horizontal view of my world. Where I set myself up as the best one to do all the things I needed to do. But the focus on the horizontal left a big gap in my view of the vertical - how God fit into my story. I didn't see it at His story, I saw it as mine. When I saw that reflection pop up on the toothpaste spattered bathroom mirror, it changed my perspective forever. I knew these things to be true, but it was theoretical knowledge until now...I had never experienced it, because I'd always been enough - until I realized my need of a Saviour. Not to save me from hell, because that had already been done. But to save me right now. My sanctification took a glorious turn the day I realized that I needed Jesus here and now, for REAL. A present help in trouble. A rescuer. A strong tower. The lover of my soul. He has been all of these things to me, as He continues to change me. I don't need to be enough to meet the demands life has for me. I am trusting my Captain, who never wavers and never sleeps and is always always always enough.

And to the second point of my lesson, 40 years in the making - Everything matters. It matters what kind of a person I am. Doing the right things, because they are the right things will always be right. The kind of a mom I am? It matters. The kind of a wife I am? It matters. The kind of friend, employee, daughter, citizen etc I am...It all matters. There aren't excuses. But, this is me, I'm just this way, I've always been this way...as if I were powerless against myself. But it's not true. So to get a clearer picture of myself, I cleaned the toothpaste spatter off the mirror and I looked again, and saw a worthy child of The Most High, who didn't have to be enough, but for the power of Christ in me, was in fact, enough. And He grew in me, and is still growing, a desire to matter. To make the hard choices, and do the hard things. The hardest of all the hard? Probably making my bed. And you laugh, but I'm serious. Okay, so maybe not THE hardest thing, sure, but still - I dislike it, and I don't want to do it. But I make myself accomplish this menial task, (most days, anyway), because it matters. Using excuses to mask laziness under the veil of "this is just how I am" is, in this particular case, making an excuse for sin. I didn't always see it that way, but I am grateful that I do now.

Because you can't hate something you still kinda sorta like a little bit. Think of it in relation to your thoughts on brussels sprouts, and ice cream. You hate one, and have no trouble passing it by. And you don't hate the other. You're maybe supposed to, because, you know: fat, and sugar, and moderation and all that. You know this. But still, it doesn't make you *hate* it, it just makes you avoid it most of the time. I guess you could say in my 30s I came to see what sin was. What my sin was. And, while being nothing overly shocking or egregious, I could make all the excuses in the world to justify myself. But what I didn't see was the bigger picture. What hadn't really settled on my heart yet was just how connected disobedience is. Sure, I look out at a big, bad sin, and I judge it as such. But can I see how my "small to me" sin allows for those bigger sins to take place? I might not be the one committing the "badder sin" but am I paving the roadway just a little wider, so that someone else can take it further than I would dare? For example, my tv viewing, which these days equals every show always including "adult scenes". This is not a particular area of weakness for me, and so I enjoy my free time and watch whatever I please. But do I hate the sin that is present here? I might not carry it out to its furthest extent - but someone else does every day, by way of pornography, and ultimately sex slavery and prostitution. Are things things I can look at and say "Inconsequential. No big deal. This only affects me"? I think not. I hate the sin in me, whether it's deemed big or small, because all disobedience is a big deal. And it cost Jesus his life to atone for it. I have begun to see it all as it really is - completely at odds in every way from the righteousness of the Lord. A growing desire to see my sin GONE has been birthed in me, and I know I'll have limited success at it's eradication. But God gave the revelation, desire, and motivation, (because trust me, I didn't go out looking for it) and He'll be present in the fight too. I'm counting on it.

And I enter this fifth decade of my life quite different than ever before. Reflection on all the good things in my life leaves my heart full. Because I've had a good life, but most of that hasn't been my fault. I've been the beneficiary of a lot of kindness, love, and grace from a lot of different people. I don't take that for granted going forward. I can only hope I've been that for others too. Reflection on all the ways I've changed and grown and the things I've learned also leaves my heart full. I probably love it most because it shows a different angle - it's not all pretty, and squared away, it's more rumpled and rippled looking. Like a reflection in a pond more than in a mirror - but it's still me. I am grateful for all the life that is behind me, and I am looking forward to everything He has for me in the years coming up.

Based on the ride that I call "my 30s", I really have no expectation for all the things that will come to define "my 40s", but I know that I will still be His, and He will still be mine. And that will be enough.