Cora, welcome to America.

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We touched down in the good’ol land of the free and the home of the brave one week ago. Warm hugs and kisses from family greeted us as we arrived at Grandma Norell’s home in Minnetonka, MN. It feels so good to be home. After this crazy summer of leading an outreach team to the Dominican Republic, and spending 3 months before that staffing the DTS in Amsterdam, we were in much need of some R&R to say the least. We have been looking forward to camping with the Norell clan for over a year now, and the time was finally here for all of us to retreat to the middle of nowhere and just be together. Just being. That was something I was truly looking forward to. No responsibilities, no noise, no interruptions, just us, family, and towering forest trees.

“What kind of people take their ONE year old to that desolate place!” said a very concerned and skeptical elderly lady. My father in law, with a smile on his face replied, “Well, we do!” He’s totally right, we do, we’re that family. But, to our defense Cora is a rockstar and loves adventure. This girl has been to 6 countries and flown in 10 airplanes, what’s a 5 day camping trip to the Boundary Waters? Our trip included a 6 hour drive to Ely, Minnesota then another 5 hour canoeing and hiking trek through THREE of the THREE-THOUSAND lakes to our campsite. Cora fell asleep in the canoe about 15 minutes in, and then woke up during our first portage beaming with excitement. One of her favorite words is, wowww! and every turn on the trail her eyes would grow wider and the WOWS! would get louder.

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IMG_7775IMG_7730IMG_7767IMG_7763IMG_7773Our time together was precious, and good for my soul. I spent a few hours each day tucked away in the cocoon of a hammock being quiet and still with the Lord. Approaching him without any expectations or agenda is something I’m practicing. It takes a lot of effort on my part to just, be with God. I’m a person who loves to do lists and productivity. I love schedules, I love meetings, and I love a good old fashion brainstorming session. So when Jesus says in the Bible, “Be still and know that I am God”, I get stuck on the “be still” part. I figured this trip was a great time to practice the discipline of being still and just spending time in His presence. My times in the hammock without my books, journal, or even my Bible were some of my best moments with Jesus all year. Allowing Him to speak to me, or be silent if He felt like it stirred a deeper desire in my heart to know Him more. I guess sometimes it takes going to a “desolate” place to learn a thing or two. Thank you jesus for your patience, what would I do without it?

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3 Years!

IMG_3423 2Yesterday was our three year anniversary! We never thought that we would be celebrating our 3 years in the Country where we first met. Yesterday was a full day of ministry and intercession, complete with a power outage in the evening. The village we are currently living in with our team is in the mountains of Jararbacoa, Dominican Republic…so running out of electricity and water isn’t so uncommon. This is the life we signed up for, this is the life we dreamed of together, our common desire to disciple youth and serve God all over the world is what first drew us together. Im so thankful to be walking out that life with this wonderful man and adventure seeker. Marriage has been the most beautiful opportunity to be more like Christ, to learn how to put selfishness aside and walk out the love of Jesus. It is tough at times, but it is good and I’m so thankful for every moment of it.

Also, I was looking at wedding photos last night and came across the delicious cake my good friend Courteney made for us. Red velvet with butter cream icing. Y’all, it was heavenly. I wish I could re-live my wedding day every year, so much goodness! Heres to many more years!
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Cora turns ONE!

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Our little Cora turned ONE year old on June 7th! We celebrated here in Santiago, Dominican Republic, in the back yard of the YWAM base. It was a bright and beautiful day, we had a “make your own” cupcake bar, and yummy sodas to enjoy. Olivia and I made her little cake the night before after running around town to every “colmado” to find the right ingredients! Cora poked at it and gently pitched little pieces of sprinkles from the cake and her eyes would get big after tasting them. Everyone was around her encouraging her to, “Smash the cake Cora! You can do it! Just go for it!” But she continued to just poke and pinch. We had a great time of prayer for her and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love our team has for our little girl. Do I really have a ONE year old?  Its true what they say about motherhood, the days are long but the years are short. I feel like this year as flown by, and my little girl has grown way too fast. Oh, Cora don’t grow too fast! Before I get to sentimental, here are the photos…IMG_7442 IMG_7441IMG_7427IMG_9301IMG_9299IMG_7496IMG_7428IMG_7419IMG_7408IMG_7499IMG_9511IMG_7410IMG_9483IMG_9462IMG_9463

Happy Birthday, Cora Rose! You are loved more deeply than you will ever know.

Monday Musings // Iphone Pics

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This is Coras favorite tree at the house. She will point at it through the window all day until someone takes her out to touch it. My flower child. IMG_6653IMG_6535

The photo above was from the first few weeks of us being in Villa Mella. One of our students is a incredible artist and painted this picture. As a team they painted 7 different pictures and gave them to local churches as a prophetic gift. So amazing!IMG_6827

One of my favorite things about Santiago has been roasting hotdogs up in the mountains. IMG_6665IMG_6784

Father Abraham was a BIG hit, y’all.

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Im used to this little girl always strapped to me. She’s beginning to be to big for it now and its making my momma heart sad. 11150778_10153214481101578_8257305288209382279_n

And then THIS HAPPENED! I needed some change, this seemed a good way to get it =)

Hope this Monday was a surprisingly good one for you all. Im learning to find joy in little things and slow down a bit more. Taking photos is one way I hope to do that more, really being IN the moment and appreciating it for what it is and what it gives. I’m brainstorming some ideas for photo albums in the near future, any suggestions for Instagram pics would be wonderful!  Tell me what your up to this evening…

Motherhood// the greatest opportunity

IMG_6759Today has me thinking a lot about motherhood. Growing up I always wanted to be a mom, I always wanted lots of little me’s running around. Once Cora was born I realized that my “little me” looks 100% like a girl version of my husband, but it’s ok. I always expected motherhood to be different then what it actually is. I expected to just “know”, through that motherly instinct people talk about, how to do what all mothers do well. I expected that my kisses would suddenly contain the ability to cure every boo boo, my embrace would calm any cry, and that I would have the capacity to do everything I was already doing, plus being a mom, with ease. This was not what happened. To be honest, I sometimes wonder if I will ever truly know what I’m doing?

Being a mom has changed me in so many ways. It has brought out the short tempered, selfish, not so pretty Lexi, parts of me that I never knew were there. It has stretched me mentally, physically, and emotionally. It has taught me to slow down, look to my Father, and realize that I need His always promising filling of my soul in order to joyfully pour into my husband and child without the quick burn out. Being a mother has sharpened me and has given me opportunity after opportunity to grow into the women God has called me to be.

My expectations of motherhood have changed and I’m forever grateful for the reality and character check motherhood has brought to my life. I’m grateful that the ultimate lover, life-giver, and nurturer is blessing me with the beautiful days that motherhood brings, but also is redeeming the ugly days and making me more like Him. I’m learning that through it all God isn’t as concerned with our happiness as he is with our holiness, and he has created motherhood as a beautiful tool to reflect His character in this world as well as transform our hearts to look more like His.

The day I became a mom was one of the happiest days of my life. I am so grateful for my Cora Rose, my sweet baby girl, that has brought me the greatest joy and most beautiful days. I am forever grateful for the privilege of being her momma and the journey of motherhood she has brought me. You are sweet as honey and more beautiful than any flower.

If you’re a mother, I pray that today is full of breakfast in bed, homemade cards, and your little “you” whether big or small, near or far, sending you love. You’re awesome, You’re strong, You’re in the opportunity of a lifetime.

If We Were On a Coffee Date

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//IF WE WERE ON A COFFEE DATE//

If we were on a coffee date, I would order a LARGE hazelnut latte and whatever you’re having too. If we were inside I would would be praising Jesus for the air-conditioning and sweet smell of espresso.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that last night I watched Jurassic Park on a projector screen, OUTSIDE, in the middle of NOWHERE. It was awesome. And terrifying.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that if I’m being really honest, I love missions, but being away from family is the hardest part of it all. Sometimes I get so homesick I can’t get out of bed all day. I would also tell you that I had one of those days this week.

If we were on a coffee date, I would want to give you a huge hug, but I would have to warn you that I smell like sweat, salt water, and and BO. You would probably say its OK, but I would suggest you hold your breath and take a shower afterwards.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about how amazing the group of 9 students are that I’m leading. I would tell you about how they share Gods love everywhere they go and they are daily overcoming challenges and conquering fears. I would tell you how proud I am of them, and how much I love discipleship.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about how Cora is trying to walk! She stands on her own and bounces back and forth but hasn’t quite mustered up the courage to take that first step. I would tell you how proud of her I am. I would tell you about how we boil water and mix it will the bathroom water to make it warm for her bath times. I would tell you how she got caught in the mosquito net above her bed and how she loves Dominican music.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about the date Josh and I had at PriceSmart last week. We ordered a $10 pizza and walked around the food isles talking about this life we live and how good God is to us. Its the little things, I would tell you.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you to pray for Josh and I to hear Gods guidance in our next step. I would tell you that we only see a few months down the road and then life looks like anything after that. I would tell you how more than anything we want to obey Gods will, seek His guidance , and expand His kingdom. I would also tell you that this comes with a lot of “unknowns” and worries for me. Im a planner, a “big picture” person and being in the unknown is way out of my comfort zone. Way out.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you how over the moon excited I am that my sister is coming to the Dominican in ONE MONTH. I would tell you how excited I am to see that long-haired, pretty-eyed girl, and watch her adapt to this new culture.

If were on a coffee date I would probably need a refill of that large Latte about now…

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Hola Dominicana!

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Two weeks ago we arrived in the Dominican Republic! After months of cold, chilly weather in Europe the heat and humidity was quite confronting when we stepped off the plane in Santo Domingo. It feels so good to be back in this beautiful country, and it brings back many good memories of my DTS and meeting Josh and his family almost 8 years ago. You know how smells, flavors, and atmospheres can bring back so many emotions? The Dominican is one of those places for me. I feel like I get a “heart hug” every time I’m here and I love it more with every visit. The Dominican will also have a special place in my heart and be a place that forever changed my life.

We brought with us 9 students from 8 different nations to this Island for their DTS out-reach! All of them so special and such troopers. This is one of my favorite things about working with YWAM, you are constantly in cross cultural situations no matter what. It becomes normal though, hearing 5 or more languages all the time, having a wallet full of different currencies, and always working out of different time zones. The YWAM base we are working with right now here in Villa Mella is staffed by Dominicans, Haitians, and mostly Koreans! So cool. The signs above doors are written in English, Spanish, and Korean, and at the end of the food line you can choose between forks, spoons, and chop sticks. This is the life people. IMG_6404

Our little mover is almost 11 months old and I’m pretty sure she was born for island living. The heat and mosquitos don’t seem to bother her to much and she loves the ocean. Last weekend we went to the beach for the first time and she kicked around in the water and loved maybe a little too much licking the salt water from her lips. I’m so proud of my girl. She has lived in more places than most people do in a lifetime and she has so much joy through every transition and new experience. Lord, may all of our babies be this AWESOME! IMG_6440IMG_6420

More updates to come! A big thanks to everyone who has been praying for us. If you would like to receive an update email from us with more ministry stories and updates please leave me your email =)

Early Mornings and My Favorite Photos

Josh and I woke up at the early hour of 4:30am from a whimpering Cora in her crib. She usually doesn’t wake up this early so we knew something was wrong, and telling by her cry (because all babies have different cries for different feelings) we knew something spooked her. She reached for me when I went to her crib, and as I picked her up she buried her head in my neck. Safe place. I lay her down between Josh and I and she cuddled her way close to us, and the tears slowly quieted. It was early, we were tired, and it feels like these days we just never have down time, but this morning I was reminded what a privilege it is to  be a mom, her mom.

Today I decided to work from home with Cora which I’m learning is borderline impossible at this stage. Moving, climbing, grabbing, pulling,sticking everything in her mouth, I can’t look away for one second! In one sense this is my favorite stage so far that I have had with her, and on the other hand its the most difficult. Maybe all new stages will feel this way? Can anyone tell me when I will finally feel like I have this whole mom thing figured out?

Anyways, last month a good friend of mine,Tegan, took some family photos of us and some of Cora that I haven’t been able to stop looking at. By the way, when did this little girl get so big? I have to remind myself sometimes to just slow down, look at her sweet face, and take it all in. It goes by way to fast. Any other moms feelin me on this one?

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New things and iPhone pics

Hey friends. Its been awhile! Life has been one big crazy mess of fun and hard work recently and we have been just super busy. OK, so this is going to be a bit of a messy blog post, so bare with me! Over the past month Josh and I (mostly Josh) have been working hard on creating our own website. We wanted people to have a clear place to go and find out who we are and what we do in oversees missions. It was a blast making this project come to life and we are really passionate about it. I will still be blogging here, but we will share videos and our newsletters on our website. So thats the first thing! CHECK OUT OUR NEW WEBSITE HERE! and make sure you subscribe!

And while were at it, lets add a youtube channel! We both really want to start sharing bit of our lives via videos and also use it as a creative outlet. We figured that youtube was the way to go. Just a warning, Coras sweet face will be the center of most of these videos…but thats not a bad thing, right? We recently traveled 15 hours overnight by train, ferry, bus, and van all the way to England! You can see the video on our YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE!

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Change my be coming to this blog as well. I’m in the process of figuring out what I really want this space to be. In the past we have shared on a bunch of different topics, and I feel now that its time to refocus my goals for this blog. I like clear vision and clear expectations, I always have, so thats what I’m exploring in the next few weeks! If there is anything that you personally would like to see more us please leave me a comment about it, I would love that.

My room is a mess, Cora is getting sleepy, and I need to do laundry, so I will end this with some photos over the past few weeks. Enjoy! Hope to see you at our YOUTUBE CHANNEL and WEBSITE!

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