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Hauling out our dried out tree, tucking stockings and ornaments back into boxes… chicken marinating for a party…We are about to commence on the New  Year! This date naturally breeds reflection and a lil’ motivation.

Looking back, our kids have grown in every sense of the word.

Allie is the  budding pianist and artist {obviously her father’s daughter!};   we’ve loved seeing her learn what it means to grow in Christ and what it is to show love to others {namely her two side kick brothers}.

* Jack  as we celebrated the advent during December,  surprised us by memorizing our daily verse reading.  From just wanting him to say “daddy” with a “d” to this…wow.

Max… Well we could have an additional blog post on him, but he’s grown too. Let’s just say he’s a super cute, tiny climber boy {think kitchen island, bathroom sinks, and crib}. The super cute part saves him from his mama many a day.

Always thankful for….

* Anthony’s job that continues to provide him unique opportunities like seeing big doors blown up and taking lots of photos.

* Technology-I’ve been able to stay home more this year and have fun connecting with my online students–learning about about their lives, families, and interests.

* Friendships–New and Old.  From weekend getaways and daily living–we love you all!

In reflection, I’m so thankful for the unique family times we recently experienced. We watched Our kids fall in love with Anthony’s  east coast sisters and grandparents {whom they met for the very first time}.  Our kids bonded with their cousin Isamu not once, but TWICE {thanks for traveling, Miwa and Steve}.   Our kiddos are also pretty much in love with the “baby” cousin, Blake.  As a core family, we took big steps of faith and risk. We end this year with full hearts.

Set to  recalibrate in 2013, I {besides the token lose 10 lbs and get more sleep} desire to “set my affections on things above.” Col. 3:2  Or as Mary, one of our headlining characters from The Christmas Story also said,  “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38.    Surrendered Life.

Merry {belated} Christmas and a  Happy New Years to you!

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Monday, Jack, Maddox, and I trooped up to Doernbecher for Jack’s follow up after his recent ear tube surgery. Results are in…Normal hearing!  His test was the easiest it has ever been-he even went in the creepy sound proof room all by himself.   Of course I rewarded him with a cake pop. (Max too, since he didn’t cause too much destruction to the lobby) For some reason I had gotten myself all worked up about this surgery and the success or failure of it. It’s crazy how fear can take hold so quickly and so strongly. I’m so thankful Jack is hearing well; his speech work can continue to progress.  I’m also thankful for my Lord, my awesome hubby and my girl friends who know just how to bring me into a sense of calm during these seasons.

Oregon has been good to us–SUNSHINE clear into October–wonderful {and not so normal}!  We have enjoyed this as our schedule has returned to a new normal as well.  {Hurried morning bowls of cereal, quick kisses good bye at school, snuggly boys to read to or take walks with, and mounds  of school work to grade}  Inserted into the mundane was a visit from my sister-in-law Miwa and nephew Isamu. He and Max got to share a fun birthday complete with pinata–so cute {and crazy–we have 4 boy cousins, ages 1,2,3, and almost 4}.  THEN Our nephew Chandler visited us during Sept, so we were able to squeeze in one last summer-ish vaca.  to Sunriver. LOVE!

Thank you to all of you who prayed for Jack!  Now go drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte, admire the changing leaves,  and soak in this season!

Yard.

Land EXCAVATED.

Gravel RAKED.

Pavers HAULED and Hammered.

Yep, we’ve been thinking about ROCKS! It’s only natural, after hand laying an entire patio in our backyard.  You see, we have these really large trees across our back yard that makes growing grass difficult.  {Well, this is  our excuse, but really we are just terrible yard keepers.} After Anthony and Justin EXCAVATED our entire yard by learning some mad bobcat driving skills via YouTube, Anthony’s dad and I trudged back and forth with gravel and pavers. Allie and Jack helped carry the load too! {Super cute workers btw}  Anthony hammered in each and every one.  Whew! Next topic: grass for the side yards. I’ll save that for the next blog.

Vaca! Another rock formation caught our eye this summer named Crater Lake. Wowzers–why is this our first time seeing this amazing natural wonder?  Anthony photographed  some views of it while I prevented Max from descending the sharp cliff above it.  Jack and Allie practiced being park rangers and spotted many fun trees and rock formations.  Close by we drove through the  Wildlife Safari.  Lions and tigers and bears.. .or rather, Cranes {Jack}, monkeys {Allie}, and lions {Maddox}–Roar! A camel ride and feeding birds are favorite memories they’ll treasure.

Cleft.  Metaphorically speaking, Jack’s had a rocky summer.  We tested his hearing again and discovered he has moderate hearing loss in one ear and mild in the other. So, we are headed off to surgery for some new ear tubes in a few weeks. He also attended speech therapy three times a week.  While beneficial, it was often a rocky time, persuading a very shy {at times a bit stubborn} three year old to focus for 50 minutes at a time, with strangers.  Sometimes I wish we could just let him say “hamGurber” and “aweSHome” because he IS three.  But alas, the school years loom ahead, and we shall press on!

Fun. Rock solid fun also filled these swiftly passing summer weeks. I’m trying to freeze frame to my memory each kid in their current phase.  They are growing all too fast for me!  Allie– jumping off her first diving board, painstakingly making the perfect fort for her and Jack, experiencing lots of ‘firsts’ {piano recital, vball camp, sleepovers} and spending long hours honing her drawing skills at our kitchen table.  Jack–holding his breathe under water with his bright goggles strapped to his chubby head, telling me tales of his imaginary dog, Ginger {while sipping chocolate milk at Starbucks}, and  Hulk Smashing every action figure.  Max jumping off random dangerous objects, saying “I dunno know” as one word, shuffling forward in a toddler gallop, and  praising Jesus with me in church.  Our speech journeys into PDX bonded us together as we discovered new fountains, parks, riding the Tram, and a fun day at the Children’s Museum.  Jack and Allie have read lots of books and camped out in a tent in Allie’s room for nights on end {while Max protested sleeping alone:)}.  Allie’s return to school in the fall {2nd grade!} may be a bit hard for poor Jack!

Friendship. Thanks to Jack’s cleft, our blog connected us to a wonderful new friendship. Vi and Tony have a cleft baby too, so we are now sharing our journey together.  What a gift to find such a ‘random’ friendship to not only help carry the load of sharing tips, worries and joys, but partaking in tasty meals {PDX food carts!}, rich faith, and fun times together!  We are so thankful for our tried and true friendships as well. We visited Salem family and friends, had fun play dates, walked with some for Smile Oregon,  and experienced generous air conditioning {we bartered Anthony’s good cooking skillz for this:)}, our friends and family are the BEST!

Church.  On Christ, the most solid rock of all, we stand.  As we search to connect with  a new church body, I have found that clinging to Him is what I must do.  As I peel off the layers  of ‘must show up,’ ‘must serve,’ and the ease of ministering in church ministries with those we love, I have felt a bit naked. A bit insecure. Without that connection,  I am left with my relationship to God alone; I must be a seeker of the Holy Spirit. What does HE want to teach me, whom does HE want me to minister to?  Intentional living.  While eagerly  looking forward to  being part of a church family again {awkward conversations in new places do get old!}, I’m appreciating the lessons learned along this part of the journey.

The last week of summer shines brightly before us. A whole week OFF.

        Time to build some SAND CASTLES,

{eat some SMORES}

                       bond with FRIENDS,

and skip some ROCKS!

James 3:17, 18
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is won in peace by those who make peace.

Happy End of Summer, friends!

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Spring breeds new growth everywhere we turn! Over Easter we visited Whidbey Island and Anthony’s wonderful parents. A few sunny days (and the hot date we squeezed in) made it pretty much the perfect weekend. Driving by some newly birthed spring calves, the kids and I ooo’d and awe’d over them. Anthony said “Yum, look at those baby steaks!” Perspective. I think our kids decided to join in the season and sprout as well. This is a quite a positive element considering they each have a bit of a vertical challenge!

Allie Girl, {a spring filly}, lanky legs race around, conquers new feats on her birthday roller blades. At first wobbly, arms spread wide, flailing for balance…now more smooth and comfortingly cautious.  God truly granted us this cautious, wise beyond her years girly girl, before blessing us with THE boys.  About to wrap up her first year in school, she has blossomed into a studious student who loves learning as much as all the playmates she’s developed friendships with at school. Her first few baby teeth have disappeared as we get to become seasoned tooth fairies. I am loving all the jump rope rhymes and hand clapping rhythms being 7 brings…a whiff of childhoods gone by.

Jackie Boy, {budding conversationalist}, recent newbie gum chewer, chatters my ear off as we travel about our days. Full sentences compose most of his vocabulary now, no minor miracle. We work on the randomly mispronounced words and add in our articles “a, and, the.”  Teacher Linda and Teacher Emily are the wonderful women he looks forward to speaking with each week, as they take him closer and closer to normal speech patterns. A recent cleft check revealed failed ear tubes, but the hearing test showed close to normal responses. We shall wait out this season to see if new tubes will be necessary. Big brother now defines Jack’s everyday as he lets Max invade his action figure world and helps alert us to the mishaps Max tries to get himself into.

Maddox, {adrenaline junky}, sippy cup tucked firmly beneath his arm, truly needs his life saved every. day. From climbing, jumping, ingesting, experimenting…this boy has it out for himself.  Max seemed to sprout from mini-baby to full on toddler overnight. Throwing balls (and other objects) far, sliding down the stairs quick as lightening, he has no problem keeping up with his older siblings. The only thing lagging behind now is his teeth…molars begging to erupt…but taking their sweet time. Doing the Hokey Pokey and playing with his little cars are favorite daytime moments for Max. From unique sound effects (aaaa–daaaaa being his trademark word), twinkling eyes, and crazy stunts, this guy keeps us all laughing (me sometimes crying) and on our toes. We treasure the few times a day he allows a warm snuggle or offers up a puckering kiss.

New growth also aptly describes the parents of these sweet kids. I’ve gotten to trot around a few races with Auntie Lolo (Laura)–growing endurance! Anthony has graduated to having his very own car. Initially I felt this was painful as I would miss the time as a family driving EVERYWHERE together. Then I saw the light. Two cars = awesomeness. There are growing pains as we strive to live out what it means to walk in obedience to God. To put Jesus first every day, to edify the body, to transform to look more  like Him than ourselves, to walk by faith, to share Him with others. Growth sometimes has aches, but yields lessons learned, maturity, and joy.

                Here’s to more sun than rain as we near lazy summer days!

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School Days

Oh how I have loved seeing Allie learn and absorb the world as we have explored it together the past six years. But, alas, the milestones of strapping on the backpack, tucking in lovingly (and hurriedly) made pb&j’s into the Barbie lunch box, and tying “P.E.” shoes on has arrived in the Perez house.  As a family, we drove her to the first day of school, took the classic first day pics, and tentatively said our good byes.  6 weeks later, we “newbie” school parents are dropping her off with confidence as she practically bounds into her 1st grade classroom. She. LOVES. school.  New friends, reading circles, chapel, and playground adventures fill our car ride conversations as I plague her with questions so that I can still feel a part of her “every” day.  Love that girl–so proud of her!

3 years old

Ironman. Irrronnn maannn (there’s a song–who knew?) or Batman. That’s what consumes three year Jackie’s head these days. Yes, THREE years old. Hard to believe he’s not a baby anymore.  Jack has moved from toddling around to cruising around on his bike and tying to attempt any and all scary stunts.  He has grown from a vocabulary we could count on our fingers to endless chatter.  His individual words are becoming clearer as we focus more in on his conversational speech being clear to everyone.  Allie somehow understands everything he tells us, so we have to be careful to remind him to speak clearly anyway.  He recently passed his hearing screen, so no surgeries on the horizon…unless he somehow injures himself otherwise with the random stick or rock that makes its way into his chubby hand as some sort of weaponry.  What a relief it is to also see him become more open to people outside of our family and enter new situations without quite as much drama as last year.  His drama has moved more into trying to make anyone who will pay attention laugh!

1 years old

Maddox is helping us cross the threshold from baby days to toddler days. Goodbye infant carseat, bassinet, and swaddling techniques.  Hello into EVERYthing, master maneuvers, and first words.  I now know how the “baby” of the family is created as Maddox’s siblings protest us saying “no” to him or not putting up with baby fits.  They coddle him so much that it will be a miracle if Max isn’t spoiled beyond repair.  But, considering that one of this mama’s biggest hearts’ desire is that my children love each other, I will smile and pray for the best. I am thankful they are as in love with their baby brother as we are.  Now if we can just keep him out of the bathroom and off the stairs…

 And Us

Recently Anthony and I have had some fun times withOUT this crazy bunch.  We hit the road…literally, to help out a Hood to Coast team by directing traffic at 2:30 A.M.  Who knew it could be fun to shine flashlights at unsuspecting cars, runners, ourselves…  A fall concert was also calling our name–Casting Crowns to be exact.  For some reason we love the hootin’/hollering/singing/praising kind of night.  Yet another date was in the books–to run (or perhaps walk quickly) the Warrior Dash.  There was some great marital  bonding while pulling our  30-ish+ish bodies over walls and through mud pits–with our friends Justin and Sue.

Amidst all this busyness we like to book for our family, there are the myriads of normal, make-it-through the day kind of things going on.  The throw yourself in bed and crawl back out all too soon kind of days. You know, work, laundry, obligations, sick kids, etc.  Thank goodness for our Hope, our Reason, Jesus, who is the glue to binds us as a family through the regular hecticness that we call life!

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I know, I know, wrong season, right?

Wrong!

However sleep deprived I may be at this point in my life, this one thing I know, it’s Thanksgiving.  Through  God’s Word, music, church, books, blogs, conversations,….(need I go on?) — God has so clearly revealed this season to me.  The wonder of the salvation He so freely gave to me is so often lost in the rush of the every day–in the overwhelmingness of life.  And so, as Easter, (yes, the true “holiday” of the season) has crept closer, God has stirred my heart to a place of Thanksgiving for this precious gift.  In this Thanksgiving comes a deeper joy for the simple things he’s allowed in my life, in addition to his eternal grace, coupled with  the deeper knowledge that I am absolutely nothing without Him.

Thanksgiving.  Salvation.  Daily walk with Christ.  Grace. The wisdom of Proverbs.  Praising Jesus with hands held high.  City lights at night. Impromptu dance parties with kids.  Babysitters. Date night.  Naptime.  Waking Maddox from nap, fists clenched, arms stretched.  Texting. Running. Rich friendships. Sunshine. Marshmellows.  You know, the simple things. Thanksgiving.

On the family front, all is well in our crazy busy lives.  Recently we were able to join Anthony in Seattle (THANK you Pass family for lodging!) while he took a class—fun, of course—the highlight being a coffee tour he and I  joined. What’s better than being hopped up on caffeine, on a date, in Seattle?  Allie will participate in her first “meet” for gymnastics this week—can we say, EXCITED?  Jack’s potty trained (for the most part)—this is JOY.  Maddox is rolling all around and trying to be the big 7 months that he is, while we try to capture and hold every BABY moment.

For some Cleft news, Jack did recently fail his hearing test by a long shot, so he’s headed into surgery this next Wednesday.  His ENT will be putting in new ear tubes which will hopefully improve his hearing and in turn improve his speech. Please keep our little chubby guy in your prayers.:)

As we turn our faces toward the cross this weekend and rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and the relationship we can have with Him, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  (and lots of candy, sunshine, pretty dresses, and hopefully a hot cup of coffee)

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Jack’s Cleft Journey has continued to evolve so to speak.  We were able to enjoy a fun turn in his journey this last week.  Recently, our fabulous orthodontist Dr. Judah Garfinkle and our talented plastic surgeon Dr. Anna Kuang decided to begin a non-profit organization to aid Oregon’s cleft children.  We were excited when they contacted Jack to be a part of their philanthropic endeavor.  Part of their volunteer team came out and shot video of our family so others families can see Jack’s adorable smile and see the beginning stages of Doernbecher’s innovative comprehensive treatment for cleft children.  The mission of Smile Oregon is to aid Oregon’s children in receiving a full treatment plan whether or not they can afford it and to create a community of support amongst Oregon cleft families.

Smile Oregon’s first event was held this past Friday.  Our family joined them at the MAC in Portland.  How fun to see our cleft team again along with all the supporters they had invited.  Jack was pretty pumped to see himself on video  and I must admit that as a mom, it’s pretty fun to see so many say “awwww” about your son… really a moment I had not envision two years ago.  Jack then proceeded to work the tables around us, flashing his cheesiest smile and sitting on many a lap.  Amid this joy was also the mixed emotion of how much more needs to be done for Jack.  But, for now we will enjoy his spotlight and lull in treatment.

Jack continues to get regular visits to check on all the wonderful work that he received.  A few weeks ago we were pleased to see him pass another vision screening (amidst many tears about his eyes being dilated) and seems on track with his speech progress.  Current favorite words: “No Way!  Meme (baby) and Meme cry!”  We are committed to continue to work with him so he can be speaking clearly by school age.

Adjustments.

With the birth of every child there comes a period of adjustment for our family core.  Each time it opens a new season in life and reconfigures the relationships and routines. So, I knew we’d be in for some adjustments–mainly that we’d outnumbered by our children– once sweet Maddox was born. But, I don’t think I really KNEW.  The days are flying by as we seek to adjust to this new number and attempt to meet all their needs.  Between getting them fed, clothed, working, and homeschooling, we now really know that we now have to PLAN  to get in a great conversation or accomplish something more than the minimum around our home.  Most days as we pillow our heads we are simply thankful they were all fed and made it through the day safely.  Granted, we are only 5 weeks into this family of 5, so surely we’ll adjust a bit more each month, RIGHT? 🙂

Maddox Kai.

There really couldn’t be a sweeter baby–he rarely complains, loves to cuddle and gives the most kissable little faces.  We are all pretty much in LOVE.  We are treasuring these fleeting newborn days and also anticipating the days that 8 hours–or even 4 hours of sleep could be obtained in one session.  Allie has expanded her big sis role to include long moments of carefully cradling baby Maddox on the couch while singing her very own impromptu lullabies.  Jack too is quite smitten with his soon to be playmate.  He is the first-responder to any squeaks of complaint his baby bro. might make.  Jack did have a few unfortunate days , well… weeks, of overall aggression in other areas of his life–even refusing to come to me after Maddox was born; but, fortunately our crazy guy seems to be settling back into fun loving, slightly sneaky Jackers.

Check out Jack’s Smile Oregon Video and a few recent pics–including Jack’s birthday. Happy 2nd Birthday, Jack!!

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




The Perez family is proud to introduce the newest member of their clan: Maddox Kai Perez! He was born on Friday, September 10th, 2010. Other stats include: born @ 8:03 am, 7 lbs 2 oz., 19″ long and incredibly handsome. Both Lisa and Maddox are doing great and getting tons of rest. Really big props to Mt. Hood Medical, Dr. Knudsen and her staff for an excellent delivery and recovery.

More info in the days to follow; but for now, some darn cute pics will have to suffice. 🙂

Although the autumn equinox has not officially arrived, autumn has begun over here! Yep, that’s right, the Perez’s sipped/sniffed/enjoyed our first Pumpkin Spice Latte, thus signaling the change in seasons.  We did put this indulgence off as long as possible, but alas, with the rain and start of school, we could not refrain any longer.  Allie and I have made of list of favorite fall things so we won’t grieve the passing of summer so much.  Leaf hunting and pumpkins top her list. 🙂

We were able to wrap up summer with a few great moments.  Drum Roll….most memorable day in August?  Anthony RUNNING Hood to Coast successfully!  Joining up with 11 friends, he ran and ran and ran. 197 miles to be exact. Well, he ran about 1/12th of those, but still, quite the accomplishment for this former self-proclaimed non-runner!  The kids and I cheered loudly, even breaking out the pom poms for Daddy-O.  So Proud.

Other GREAT moments include WALKING to our Farmer’s Market, SPLASHING in the pool (btw this is one of Jack’s favorite words along with “cooookie”), Allie ATTENDING VBS (she said LOTS of verses–so amazing), FEELING the Oregon sand between our toes (Jack also calls the Pacific Ocean the “pooooool!”), and just some good ole’ FAMILY time.

And now some FIRSTS–

Allie started Kindergarden today–TEARS. Not really. We are homeschooling. But still, the idea that she’s old enough to do school almost brings a tear.  Her beloved Grandma Mary spoiled her with some fun school supplies complete with a pink Hello Kitty backpack and Barbie lunch box.  Allie informed us that on the “first day” of school she would walk down the stairs with her supplies and “act” nervous while we took pictures.  Love this girl.  And that is what she did today—after picking out what she deemed a “schoolish” outfit.  She also successfully completed her school work with Jack hovering over her shoulder–that takes skill.

Lastly, another FIRST is that Anthony and I will officially be outnumbered by our kiddos on Friday.  We covet all prayers for an uncomplicated C-section and a healthy baby boy.  Feel free to check back here on Friday, Sept. 10th,  as we welcome Maddox _____ Perez into our family (middle name still to be determined—eek!)

Spontaneity…

is the name of the game for the Perez’s this summer! Somehow we jumped from ONE planned vacation on Whidbey Island to FOUR more fun weekends away.  The Lord heard the desires of this Mama’s heart for a memorable summer.  Now I was originally

thinking,  wishing,and hoping

for  Disneyland, Maui, or Chicago.  Of course those still sound like dream trips that hopefully will occur one day, but we have managed to make some amazing memories right here the great northwest!  In the last month and a half we have trekked from

Montana to Cannon BeachWhidbey Island, more Montana,

and Black Butte Ranch (just left there at 5 am today to get to work–gotta make the most of the vacation, you know?).  Beautiful scenery has greeted us around every bend, precious friendships have been enjoyed (THANK you Linns and Crazy Coon’s), great conversation has infused our marriage, and priceless memories were created with our kiddos.  Ok. There were SOME whiney moments in those long car rides, but nothing that a few

nuggetsplaylandsRed Box,

or Starbucks (can we say Venti iced coffee) couldn’t solve. That each trip was spur of the moment made them even more fun!  What more could a girl ask for?  Maybe more trips…

Crazy Jackers….

has just gotten crazier.  We all are loving this age—now 21 months. He is learning so much, curious about everything, and super funny.  His speech is not as far along as I had wanted, but he is enjoying his speech therapist and can say new things like “papa,” “go,” “car,” and I’m pretty sure I heard “goggles” the other day. 😉  Hearing  these consonants is awesome; we are working on getting more words with these same sounds and hoping to hear “d” or “t.”

Jack  LOVES to wrestle with his Dada or “Nana” as he refers to him.  The pool continues to be his favorite destination—we’re pretty sure he thinks he can swim and have to keep a hawk’s eye on him when he’s splashing around.  HE would say his greatest feat of the summer so far has been climbing out of his crib. I’m not so sure I agree, but his chubby, dimpled, smiling  face was pretty adorable when he came out of his room…he was so proud!

She’s got wheels!

While in Montana, Allie took off riding her bike, training-wheel free! It’s hilarious to watch because she still has a little 12 inch bike—she has to peddle super fast to get anywhere.  How FUN that she can ride along side us now!  One of my favorite memories of this summer is riding along side her. She was decked out in her hot pink, polka-dot swimsuit with her green skirt poofing out as she peddled.  We just chatted about life as I savored the moment.   Sadly, I may have (not totally owning up to it) bumped her bike with our car; the  back wheel is now rolling a bit awkwardly..and making some funky clicking noises.  I think I’m going to have to cough up some moolah for the “big girl” bike sooner than I thought…she’s pretty sure it needs a basket and a kick stand.

Baby Perez…

Has completely overtaken my torso…so I’m really excited to meet this little guy.  If all goes according to plan, we’ll get to meet him around the 10th of September.  I am so thankful for this

“textbook” pregnancy, vivano smoothies,del carbon chicken tacos,

and the miracle of new life!

These past weeks God has been working so much in different areas of our lives through the avenues of Bible study, audio books/podcasts, marriage conference material, and preaching.  I praise Him  for our

salvation, that He cares about the little stuff, moves hearts, and is our Provider.

Happy Summer Adventures to you all! (see pics below)

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