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0 In Marriage/ Parenting

We’re Fighting in Front of Our Kids

“Let’s just try to have a nice family dinner.”

“We can all just try to get along here at the table.”

Sounds like something you’d expect parents of four young kids to say when they were all out to eat after church and the kids were being wild. Right?

Nope. That was our oldest, Titus, trying to get Lindy and I to stop disagreeing (let’s not call it fighting) at the table over dinner.

Lindy had a handful of errands she’d wanted to run that morning but wasn’t able to because, you know, kids. I wanted to spend the night on the couch watching Cars with my boys, but instead I’m one town over driving laps in the Michael’s parking lot. Lindy wanted to eat at Chick-fil-a, but instead I dragged us all to a place specializing in greasy cheeseburgers. I paid for a Very Berry Strawberry shake and it never showed up.

It was kind of a long day, we were both pretty exhausted, and neither one of us was doing a great job listening to the other while we each made our case for why it was ok for us to feel the way we were.

And there was Titus trying to get his mom and dad to stop arguing.

I’m reading a book called Released from Shame by Sandra Wilson right now trying to help untangle some of the knots of confusion and lies in my life to help me move forward as a better man, husband, and father.

Chapter 3, Unhealthy Families, starts out with these words:

It has been said that an unexamined life is not worth living. It might also be hazardous to your health and to the health of those closest to you. Especially as you loyally and thoughtlessly repeat painful patterns learned in childhood.

Here’s the reality – no family is perfect. And none of us were born in to two families so we could compare healthy vs. unhealthy parenting – we just have our parents and the ways of thinking we developed as they raised us. So it’s hard for us to compare the differences between how we act and think and how a healthier version of ourselves would act and think.

Lindy and I are almost 8 years into our parenting journey and the deeper we get in to it the more respect I have for my parents because this stuff is just hard and no one knows what they’re doing. Wilson writes that:

“healthy families are not problem-free families. What distinguishes healthy from unhealthy families is how they handle the inevitable problems they encounter.”

Justin two or three years ago would not only be arguing with his wife over dinner, he’d be overwhelmed by shame in the middle of the conflict and that feeling would translate to anger. Justin today was able to look at Titus and say “Thank you, buddy. You’re right, but we need to figure this out right now.” Or something like that.

Wilson continues to say

“parents in poorly functioning families deny problems and emotional pain. To preserve the illusion that the family is perfect, these parents expend their energy on appearance management instead of problem solving.”

Man, that punches me in the face. Titus’ words trying to silence our conflict at the table were basically a direct reflection of my soul. I want everyone in our family to happily suck down their favorite flavor of milkshake over a super fun dinner and I want to take a photo of it so we can share it on Instagram and preserve the illusion that our family is perfect.

And I can convince myself this is the right thing to do – that this is healthy parenting. My inner monologue says “the most important thing for your kids is for them to feel safe in this family, this conflict is going to screw them up.”

But my inner monologue is wrong. My kids need to know that life isn’t easy, they need to see Lindy and I acknowledge our emotional pain and problems, they need to see us expend our energy on problem solving. Our children need to see that our family isn’t perfect – and that is ok.

I’m not ignoring my children’s emotional needs by arguing with their mom in front of them. I’m ignoring their emotional needs by ignoring the conflict in front of them.

My kids will be better off in a family that admits Daddy can be a jerk to Mommy sometimes, when they see that you don’t have to be perfect parents to be good parents, and when the things their parents ignore are unrealistic expectations, not emotional conflict.

We sometimes fight in front of our kids, and I’m ok with.







0 In Family

Cosette’s Birth: One Year Ago

It’s been a year since we met Cosette for the first time. That was a big day for our family.

It was the fourth time we’ve gone through the birth process with all the highs and lows. We knew what to expect, but since each birth is a unique butterfly so there was always unknowns. Even though I was nervous I knew it was going to be a really good day so we asked Leah Vis to come photograph Cosette’s birth. She has come to each of our births to photograph and it’s been great every time.

She catches those moments that fly by unnoticed or the emotions and memories that start to fade away after a while. I’m so glad I get to go back a relive the beautiful moments of the day we met our daughter Cosette.

I hope you enjoy!

0 In Travel

Three Nights in Palm Springs, Our Recommendations

Part 1 of our 10th anniversary was three nights in Palm Springs. We spent two nights at a mega-resort in Palm Springs for our 5th anniversary, but this trip was much different and so much better. We’re lucky that we’re less than an hours drive away from such a rad city and we’re hoping we can figure out how to spend time there more often.

Here are a few of our recommendations for anyone planning to head out to for some fun in the desert!

Staying at The Parker

We had originally booked our stay at another hotel, but some rad friends of ours spotted a great deal on the email list for The Parker the week before we left so we grabbed a Patio Room, cancelled our other reservations, and actually ended up saving some money.

The Parker was amazing. Massive hedge walls enclose the entire property so you feel completely secluded as soon you pull in the driveway. And the entire place has this amazing retro-60s vibe with a hodgepodge collection of colors and textures. Each of the main buildings are at the corners of the property so you wander through quiets pathways connecting the pools and gardens as you make your way around the place.


We actually never left The Parker on our first full day away and that was the perfect way to kickoff our trip. We walked over to breakfast at Norma’s – an outdoor patio space. I had Norma’s Eggs Benedict which were served over asparagus on little pancakes–yes. The rest of the day was spent doing nothing at one of their two outdoor pools, grabbing drinks at the lemonade stand, and then chilling in the saunas of their spa, the Palm Springs Yacht Club. Dinner that night was at Mr. Parker’s, a dark, sexy, rat packy little bistro tucked away behind a velvet curtain next to Norma’s in the main building. It wasn’t the most amazing dinner we’ve ever had, but the vibe was perfect.

Breakfast at FARM

We pretty much only left The Parker to try out new places to eat. We grabbed breakfast one morning at FARM right downtown. It was a really cool space, tucked back in some of the plaza buildings inside old rooms and patios that make you feel like you’re sitting in a little French house.

Lindy ordered their Bacon, Chicken, and Waffles after our server raved to her about it, but they somehow ran out and didn’t handle that very well. Other than that our experience was great; I think Lindy would even give it another shot just to sit in the amazing space they have.

Workshop Kitchen + Bar

We grabbed another dinner at Workshop Kitchen + Bar right off the main drag and it was probably our most amazing meal of the trip. We sat in their main dining room at the community table which must have run at least 30 feet between the massively high-backed booths. While the whole space felt so incredible we were somehow able to just slip out of it all and just enjoy each other.

Workshop would definitely be our first recommendation for anyone visiting Palm Springs. The drinks were absolutely fantastic and both the large and small plates were what Lindy calls “food art.” We had several small plates, but the Duck Study just stood out: the kimchi fried rice under a fried duck egg was amazing.

Mirage House

Mirage is an installation by Doug Aitken just outside downtown Palm Springs. We arrived at sunset to a ranch style house in the foothills entirely covered in mirrors, inside and out. It’s crazy how well the concept of mirage describes this place because it somehow changes appearance, absorbs the surrounding desert, and disappears as you approach it from different angles.

Stepping inside is like climbing into a kaleidoscope. You can’t help but spend time in each room getting lost in the distorted reality of every angle.

There is no address, but you can find the house with GPS coordinates at Mirage is closing at the end of October 2017, so you’ll have to go visit soon if you want to see it for yourself.

Palm Springs is such a rad little city and we want to continue exploring in the future. Lindy has stayed at The Ace, but we both want to stay at Colony Palms next time we visit. We walked by Birba and the pizza looked amazing, Lindy raided the candy bar at Great Shakes, and our friends on Facebook tell us that both Cheeky’s and Elmer’s are amazing for breakfast.

I guess we’ll have to go back! What are your favorite spots in Palm Springs?

3 In Marriage

A Letter to My Husband on our 10th Anniversary

To my husband on our 10th anniversary,

Over the past 10 years, Justin, you have been my most favorite person. You have also been my most unfavorite person. Sounds crazy, but that’s what it was. We’ve been together for a long time and at the beginning we were excited, but we had a lot of selfishness going on. We were attempting to make a great and happy life together, but sometimes we were pulling different directions. We didn’t agree on a lot of stuff and I felt like we were on different teams. You saw success one way and I saw it another and we were immovable.

The truth is that I didn’t trust you. I didn’t feel like I was the most important thing to you. My need for safety was way bigger than you must’ve thought and I didn’t fully feel sheltered by you. That meant it was hard for me to follow you. I see how that was difficult for you too because you didn’t feel trusted and honored as a leader. Which led to you being frustrated and trying to control certain things. Obviously that didn’t help and our cycle of fear and pride went round and round.

We had a lot of good times and I will always look back on all our years with joy and thankfulness, but it was hard too. We have always had the same goals, but we both saw different paths to get there. We both wanted faith filled lives, we wanted to serve the Lord and his church, we wanted to raise a family in faith and wisdom and we wanted to love each other well. For years we didn’t know how to get there together.

We always sought prayer and counsel from friends and our church family when times were especially hard. Nothing is more beautiful than the prayer and support of those who loved us and God working through others to speak to us. We also went to marriage counseling and with all theses things we started seeing amazing breakthroughs in our marriage. When we started counseling at year five we both said we wanted to be on the same team. It took a while, but I think we can both say that we made it. We’re a team.

Justin, you are my best friend, you are my teammate and I know that you love me with all your heart. I am the most important person to you. You shelter me. You serve me. You encourage me. You boost me on your shoulders. You are Jesus to me. You are my safe place. You truly are my favorite person. I trust you fully. I follow you with joy.

Thanks for walking beside me these past 10 years. We have a beautiful and blessed life and it’s only going to get better! I’m so excited.



1 In Family

Our Afternoon with Together and Free

Last week we got to do the funnest thing! Justin and the boys were finishing the window fort in the backyard and our friend Leah from Together and Free came over to hang out for a little bit and capture our family spending time together in the backyard. She has captured every major moment in our family since our wedding day 10 years ago, but this day she did it differently. She just sat in the background and recorded the moments as they happened. It was all casual, candid and real moments that she caught.

She put all the clips together in a video as long as a song and the finished product blew our socks off! It is a beautiful film of our family being together. We can’t stop watching it and smiling. We have always loved Leah’s photos and I have called her a photo artist since the beginning, but this is another level. It is her beautiful photos, but in motion. It is truly art in motion.

Also, we have a three year old that doesn’t like being told what to do especially for photo shoots so this was revolutionary for us. She didn’t notice Leah and was fully herself. Her genuine smiles and personality was all there. It was easy for us all of us to be ourselves. It was really a great experience in every way.

We are so excited to share with you this beautiful film of our family! Enjoy!

0 In Art/ Family

Habitation: My Cousin’s Art Show

I love a good art show, but I really love it when it’s a show featuring my dear and talented cousin. Last week I got to go to my cousin Grace’s Bachelor of Fine Arts senior show at La Sierra University. It was amazing for so many reasons.

Art is big in my family. Many of us know we are artists and others may not think they are, but their craft speaks otherwise. On my dad’s side six have graduated (or are graduating) with a bachelors degree in the arts. That’s some commitment to the arts right there!

One of those cousins is Grace, when she was 11 years old I started art lessons with her. We did projects together and I shared the art knowledge I had gathered through school and work. We did art together for years and I have such fond memeories of it. She took that foundation and ran with it. Her incredible unique style emerged and now I sit and watch her create amazing art pieces that I wish I could take and hang in my house.

I brought Titus, our naturally creative seven year old, to the show as my date. It was his first art show and it was so fun to watch him experience the art. I saw him walk up to a painting and start to run his hand down it. I let him know that touching was not allowed in the gallery setting. Although in my heart I knew how fun it is to feel the texture of a dry, smooth, bumpy, cool, thick painting. Running my hand down a finished painting is one of my favorite things to do and I loved that natural attraction he had to it.

Seeing the show Grace put together was amazing and very special. She shared the space with another graduating senior friend and they called the show “Habitation”. Grace did large scale oil paintings that zoomed into small and overlooked spaces. She found sanctuary in these small places as she noticed their beauty and power. She said in her artist statement , “Changing the scale, changing the focus”.

Enjoy the show.

Loss of Time, Not of Heart

Emanating Light

In the Care of the Present

Caught in, Caught up

The Part that Stays

This is Grace and her friend she exhibited with, Yessenia. I mainly focused on Grace’s work, but Yessenia had amazing ecological prints that were so beautiful and meaningful.

0 In Faith/ Family/ Parenting

Easter Book Recommendation for Families: The Miracle Man

We found a great book to help our family prepare for Easter and I wanted to share it with you. Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus, by John Hendrix is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the life of Jesus that bring his words to life. I read it to the boys out under a tree while their sisters napped earlier this week.

I love the artwork in this book. The written words themselves are art. The words are not simply laid upon a picture. The words become the picture on every page. It’s so creative and there’s so much to look at. Our boys were intrigued.

Each page tells the story of a miracle Jesus has done. We see Jesus as many things in the Bible, but I love seeing him through the perspective of a “miracle man”. He has done and is doing miracles in our lives. I love our kids thinking about Jesus that way and looking for his miracles in their lives.

Justin’s favorite part of the story is how it ends with “one last glorious” miracle. It’s kind of a cliff-hanger in that it ends right at the moment of Jesus’ resurrection (perfect for Easter). It lets us pick up where that story ends and sets us up for a conversation with our kids about what it means for Jesus to be alive in our lives.

Here’s the link to Amazon so you can pick it up before Easter, but we also think it’s a great book to read year round.

2 In Family/ Parenting

Why I Want My Kids to Wake Me Up Way Too Early

When Titus was first born he slept in bed with Lindy and me. Honestly, I was never a big fan of this setup. I had this idea that our bed was supposed to be our bed and letting our kids in there would somehow undermine our marriage.

I know, I have issues.

Thankfully, I started going to counseling and Lindy didn’t leave me on the grounds of my stupidity. I’ve learned a lot and loosened up quite a bit since those early days.

Slowly, I discovered the joy of snuggling my kids in bed.

Titus eventually progressed to a co-sleeper thing and then a pack n’ play at the foot of our bed. Now some of my favorite memories from those first few years of our little family were the slow mornings with everyone up way too early, but spending forever snuggling and playing together in our bed.

As timed passed Titus moved into a crib in his own little room and then a “big boy” bed in that same room when his little brother, Boaz, was ready to takeover the crib. Now that they have two little sisters they’ve been ousted from that room and sleep in bunkbeds in a bedroom across the house.

No Such Thing As Sleeping In

One of the universally agreed upon worst parts of having little kids is how early they wake up. And there’s, like, nothing you can do to change it. I’ve tried keeping the boys up way past their bedtime and they’re still up before the sun.

So a year or two ago I set a goal to train the boys to turn the television and cartoons on all by themselves in the morning. For about the last year they have successfully pulled this off and it’s kind of been awesome. Titus will even serve up some morning snacks for Boaz now.

Every few weeks Boaz has a hard time sleeping all the way through the night and he’ll come into our room at three in the morning or something awful. Once again, I’ve trained him to just bring his pillow and a blanket. He doesn’t even wake me up anymore, he just sleeps on the floor next to our bed and all I have to worry about is not stepping on him when I wake up.

Training My Kids to Leave Me Alone

I had a realization the other day that broke my heart.

My little boys don’t climb into bed and snuggle with me in the morning anymore.

For whatever reason I found myself awake at like 4 AM with this awareness that no one was going to come climb in to my side of the bed; I lay there and was just overwhelmed with sadness.

About an hour or so later Boaz came in with his pillow and blanket and begin to lay down by himself. I heard him quietly getting settled on the floor and decided I’m not having that anymore. So I grabbed his little hand and pulled him into bed with me for snuggles. He fell right asleep in my arms and I just lay there enjoying his quiet breathing.

Just this morning I got lucky because Titus came in pretty early. The TV wasn’t waking up and he needed my help. I pulled him in bed with me, and while he didn’t sleep we did get to whisper and snuggle for a bit.

Sleeping In is Overrated

I’ve made my mind up: I was dumb about all of this sleeping and stuff. One day really soon my boys are never going to come snuggle me in bed anymore.

I don’t care how tired I am throughout the day or how great those extra few minutes of sleep sound; I’m going out of my way now to get my kids into bed with us as early in the morning and as often as possible.


0 In Marriage

Valentine’s Day 2017 Mixtape

It’s February, friends! That means the 14 Days of Valentine’s officially begin.

For as long as I can remember my dad never just celebrated Valentine’s Day with my mom, he always celebrated the two weeks leading up to it. I’ve tried to carry on that tradition to the best of my ability and I’ve put together this mixtape to help you feel all those lovely feelings.

I DJ’ed my way through the end of high-school and college so I’ve got a deep appreciation for the craft of song selection. This mixtape is designed to be listened to in order at least the first time, but feel free to shuffle it up on repeat listens.

This playlist will be on repeat most evenings in our house the next few weeks.

PS. I’m thinking of releasing a Happy Valentine’s Night mixtape on February 14. If you’ve got any suggested tracks leave a comment and let me know!

0 In Art/ Marriage

Art, as Defined by Justin

My professor showed up late on the first day of class. He walked in straight to the front of the room and asked “what is art?” It seems like such a simple question, but it was one I had never stopped to think about.

“Does something have to be beautiful to be considered art? Does it have to be timeless? Can something modern and non-traditional be considered art? Which of these two are art?” he asked directing our eyes toward the screen.

Dancers, dressed like dancers, crossed the floor moving gracefully upstage and down. Many of the women were balanced up on their toes which moved fiercely while the rest of their bodies gently swayed and spun. This was clearly dance, this was clearly art.

Cut to the next a video. Dancers, dressed like animals and jungle natives thrust about in the shadows. A woman turns slowly through the air – in a cage. She steps out the cage to join the dancers and they all move so quickly and boldly, in tight synchronization. They clump together in a group, their bodies all sweating as they move. There was a lot of dancing, but was this art?

Yep, Britney Spears’ 2001 VMA performance of I’m a Slave 4 U was the thing that forced me to begin seeking an understanding of what makes something art. Years later, I think I’ve discovered and answer, or at least a working definition:

Art is anything created to communicate something beyond itself.

So when Lindy paints a painting that stops and makes me think, that is art. When a Dancing With the Stars pro choreographs a routine to help a celebrity tell the story of the most memorable year of their life, that is art. When a musician writes a song to challenge my thinking, that is art.

But not all things beautiful are art, some are just performance or entertainment. To me, art must communicate.

What Art Communicates

I took another great course in college called Art and Ideas, taught by what seemed to be an aspiring musician trapped in the body of a bushy browed 73 year old concert pianist. The course walked us through art history through the lens of Mortimer Adler’s Six Great Ideas of truth, goodness, beauty, liberty, equality and, justice. These six ideas are categorized as those that we judge by and those that we act on and have become the things I look for when I’m asking if something has been created to communicate to me.

In turn, Lindy and I have focused ourselves to treat our home as a canvas for the art of family and like dancers on the stage, we’re working together to create something beautiful.

When people come into our home we want them to see beauty that makes them feel comfortable and welcome. When people interact with us we want them to feel valued. When our kids venture in to adulthood we want them to step out from a place of freedom to pursue justice and goodness in this world.

We want our home, our family, our lives to be beautiful and point to a hope that is beyond ourselves.