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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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.

Hallo, Amsterdam!

IMG_5058When we decided to staff the ARTS DTS in Amsterdam this year I was so excited but also a bit nervous how Cora would do with the transition. Most of all I was dreading the two planes rides we would take to get there. I so badly didn’t want to be that family with that baby everyone gets frustrated with during the flight. You know what I’m talking about? Theres always the baby who won’t stop crying and the mom who is frantically trying every pacifier, toy, and bottle to make her baby stop crying and then apologizing to everyone on the plane. Please let this not be me Lord! Im relieved to say that Cora handled flying like a rockstar. Only smiles and waving to everyone on the plane the first flight and then out like a light on the second. She was made for this.

Cold wet kisses slapped our faces as we stepped of the train at Central Station late last night. This city is beautiful. Cora was strapped tightly to my chest and each of us hauled our suitcase behind us. From the station we weaved in and out of all the people and dodged a few bikes until we reached the YWAM building across the street. Our building is magical! Old, tall, loaded with character, and big blue letters beam at the top that say, JESUS LOVES YOU. The bottom floor is home to a cute Cafe called Daze Zaken that offers yawamers .50 cent coffee and tea (praise Jesus). We are thankful for the smooth transition and the ywam family that has welcomed us so warmly. Cora seems to love the new view from her window here and all the new faces she has met. Such a contrast going from small town life with the occasional MOO from a cow outside in the night to the hustle and bustle of the city. We are excited to be apart of what God is doing here for this season!IMG_5077

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IMG_5052Goede nacht!

A big surprise!

IMG_4666I was shocked when my mom walked through my front door December 1st! It was the best surprise, ever. I had been dreading the week to come because Josh was going to be in Amsterdam for two weeks. Im an introvert, but geeze two weeks alone with a baby is a little much for me. My moms visit totally saved me from binge eating and loosing my mind. It was the perfect timing.

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A few weeks ago we discovered a little white tooth poking its way through Coras gums after she bit me while feeding. OK, THAT was the most painful thing, ever. She got  to giggling when I shrieked in pain and from then on thought it was a funny game. Breastfeeding…over. So we have entered the teething stage. She’s been sucking face like theres no tomorrow. Mom enjoyed it =)IMG_4799  IMG_4752

Us girls had so much fun these past 10 days! We celebrated Cora turning 6 months old by spending the weekend in Paris! We enjoyed the Eiffel Tower at night, ate some delicious Pizza Hut (oh how I have missed you deep crust cheesy goodness!) visited Shakespeare and Company, had brunch at Les Deux Magot, and toured Notre Dame. It was such a precious time to spend together. Cora is quite the traveler and was so excited and happy the whole time. She made friends everywhere we went!IMG_4869

Eyes off my Cappuccino girlfriend…

For those of you planning a visit to Paris you must, must, MUST eat at Les Deux Magot. It is famous for once being a regular dwelling place of Ernest Hemingway. You can see pictures of him along the wall and other well known writers. The atmosphere is inviting and friendly and the waiters love babies (well, they loved Cora at least.) The food is truly delicious and should be on everyones list of places to visit while in Paris.

IMG_4824Having my mom here was a huge breath of fresh air. I am so close with my mom and being on opposite sides of the globe is painful. Im not going to lie, I had many thoughts of burning her passport or telling her the wrong time for her departure flight just to keep her here longer. I bet she wouldn’t have been too mad if I had.  I am so thankful for this week I had with her and it has made the distance a bit more bearable… for the moment.

Love you momma!
 

 

A Saturday drive

Today was rainy, cold, and foggy. I have never been a “winter person” but I do love the hot drinks, oversized sweaters and Holiday spirit that comes with the season. Living in Switzerland I have had to accept that 10 months out of the year will either be very cold or very chilly. Summer latest for about a minute this year. Even though the temperatures are beginning to drop and I have caught the cold 3 times in the past month, outside the world is beautiful. We live in a small village on the side of a hill, high enough that when the fog comes in I can hardly see the house across the street. The trees have changed into beautiful colors and the mountains are topped with snow. Its breathtaking.

Today the fog came. It came in thick and it came with its dear friends cold and rain. We thought that it was as good a day as any to take a little family adventure. We had heard of a village on the other side of the mountain that is home to a beautiful lake and decided to go see it. We bundled up our little chickenpox baby and before we left the parking lot she was out like a light. Poor thing caught the chickenpox this week and hasn’t stepped a foot outside. We thought the drive would help her sleep and give her a bit of fresh air. Our plan worked like a charm. She slept the whole 2 hours of our family adventure.

Good music, good conversation and a few geocaches later we reached the beautiful lake. It was a serene feeling looking out over the lake, the rain trickling down, the fog hovering over the water. I felt a sense of safety, like no evil could touch a place so hidden,  so unknown to the rest of the world. Then my thoughts went to the people who lived in the village. Each one of them with a God given purpose and beauty to share. God is just as much present and just as much interested in this hidden place as He is about the busy streets of New York or Paris. I was reminded of how personal, and how boundless our God truly is. Its overwhelming sometimes to fathom how immense and mighty our God is and at the same time how intimate and devoted He is to each one of us. But today I felt it. I stood in it, drank it in, breathed it in heavily and let it sink in to the deep parts of my soul.

 

Cora and her pumpkin

_MG_8190Cora recently had her four month doctors appointment and had two more shots. Watching Cora get a shot hurts me more than it hurts her. Once we made it through the awful, horrible shots the pediatrician said something I have been anticipating with excitement! She was ready to start trying solids! I have been so excited for Cora to take a bite of her first real food. I had imagined the confusing look on her face that all babies make when they can’t figure out how to slurp a solid. Would she love it? Would she hate it? I jus couldn’t wait to find out.  My excitement grew when her doctor said ANY vegetable and I knew just what I wanted her first experience to be. Pumpkin._MG_8200

If you know me you know I love pumpkin. Pumpkin chai, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, anything pumpkin.  And seeing as it is Fall I couldn’t think of a better way to start.

We took her out to the garden picnic table armed with every type of camera we own. Of course. She looked at the orange mush like it was a toy to play with at first. Then Josh gave her the first bite! She was confused. Oh, so confused. She wasn’t quite sure what to think about it but managed to take few slurp/bites! It wasn’t until later that day when we tried again that she really started chomping down on the rubber spoon covering her sweet face all in pumpkin mush._MG_8214_MG_8203_MG_8218

These moments. These little moments when you get to experience the little millstones in your babies life get my heart pumping. I think I may of looked a little over the top with all the cameras and loud, ” YAY CORA!” when she took her first bite, but these moments are so important to me. I want to make every new step a celebration in her life, something worth remembering, something worth taking the time to stop and soak in._MG_8201

And her tights… oh my goodness. I hope this is only the beginning of a pumpkin lover in the making!

 

Our girl is 4 months old!

My girl is 4 months old.

My girl is 4 months old.

My girl is 4 months old…_MG_8164

Four months might not seem like much to other people but for me my life has been completely changed during these past 4 months. I feel like ill be sending her off to college tomorrow and shopping for her wedding dress. I know that seems a little ridiculous but honestly I feel like she’s growing so fast and before I know it she will be a grown girl. Has anyone found the “pause” bottom on these little ones? Im desperately looking for it!_MG_8146
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This girl, thats smile, those little rolls have my heart. Josh and I have found so much joy in being her parents. We love the way she giggles in the morning, we love her gummy smile, we love how she “coos” when she locks her eyes on ours, we love how she snuggles her blankets to her face when she’s tired, we love how she holds the hair on the back of her head and covers her face when she eats, and we love holding her little body close to ours after a warm bath._MG_8143

We feel so privileged to be the mom and dad of this little human. We could never have asked for a greater gift. We already see and sense the the uniqueness and giftings the Lord has given her, and we anticipate the great things the Lord will do through her life to touch this world. Like I have said before, sometimes I feel like I could burst from all the love I have for Cora. Its hard to imagine that God could love her more than I do. Knowing that the Lord loves her more than I am capable of is an overwhelming feeling. How great is His love for my little one, how proud and excited He must be about her life. My hope and prayer for her is that she will know with all her heart that she is deeply loved and valued by our Heavenly Father, and that she would know His faithfulness and mercy all the days of her life.
 

Cora Rose, I love you my sweet girl. Now obey momma and stop growing…

 

Family trip! Pt.1

Josh’s parents were here for a visit last week! We had been looking forward to this time with them for so long. We picked them up from the airport on Thursday morning and drove straight to the cutest town in France called Annecy. We rented two different homes for a long weekend. We drove through the mountains and up windy roads to our first destination. Seriously the cabin was to die for. It was tucked into the side of a hill with a killer view of the French mountains, plumb trees for the picking, and lots of goats roaming around. A slice of heaven. 
Our time with them was precious. We hiked through the Gorges du Fier, explored the streets of Annecy, tandem biked along the lake, had tea in the Jardin Secrets, toured castles, and ate many, many pastries. One of ym favorite parts was watching them with Cora, all googley-eyed and kissing her every chance they got. They love us and they love our girl, and we love them.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES 
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Be Still.

Right now my house is, quiet. (knock on wood).

I feel like silence is an old friend these days. Most days are noisy, with the laundry going, Cora playing, friendly conversation, movies playing, music playing, dishing being washed, Skype calls being made, chitter chatter of neighborhood kids outside. But right now, its quiet. I’m used to the noise and the hustle and bustle of the day. I find myself wishing, praying, for a quiet moment but then when it presents itself I quickly turn on background music or play a Netflix movie just to fill the void that is silence. Why do I do that?

My life is busy, your life is probably busy, our world is one big, busy, noisy place to live. I feel that without knowing it or even wanting it I have become comfortable in the noise, in the busy. I get anxious and uneasy in the silence. I must be busy, always accomplishing, always moving forward.

Stopping, being quiet, goes against the rhythm of the world. It goes against the rhythm inside me.

Right now, in this quiet still house I hear an echo of the Holy Spirit calling my heart to , be still. Take a breath momma. Put down the dishes and turn off the TV and just be with me.

But instead my body is tensed up, I look around the room at what needs to be done, and I miss the moment of silence, the moment of stillness in my busy life with my God.

Be still and know that I am God. Isn’t this something that I need in my life? Isn’t this something that my heavenly Father commands of me? Isn’t this something that He knows I desperately need?

Being still is hard because it challenges us to lay aside productivity and take a moment to know that God is God. We live in a world that wants to pull us far from the peace of God and into the distraction of busyness.

I have seen busyness become a really bad thing in my life. Even the good kind of busy can be a hindrance. Busy being a mom, busy leading a Church, busy being a friend, busy making meals for the family, busy cleaning the house, these are all good things. If I’m not careful these good tasks in my life become the very thing that enables me to be still in Gods presence.

This morning I am challenged to be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be still in the presence of the Father.