If you would have told me just a year ago that we would be travelling across 3 states, driving 14 hours with 6 kids ages 8 and under including a breastfeeding baby of 4 months, I would have told you were crazy. Oh wait, kids, that’s what your Daddy told me just a couple months ago and I did tell him he was crazy. He’s an adventurer alright. Always challenging my comfortable ways and pushing me to my limits. I guess that might have been 1 of the reasons I fell in love with him. 😉 And I have to admit, once I surrendered the anxiety of the perceived torture I thought we were putting you all under, the journey was so doable. Even enjoyable. But Shhh….don’t tell your Daddy I said that. He might just say “I told you so” 😉
The highlight of our stay was definitely our adventure to The Boise National Forest. We started driving with virtually no knowledge of where we were headed nor what we would be needing. We arrived with no required parking pass. We had no change of clothes. We barely had enough food. But, once again, the minute we let go of any and all expectations, fears or disappointments, we made room for God to open our eyes and ears to His magic. His provision.
And the peace and joy on your faces tell the best story. Daddy made it a point to get individual shots of each of you and I’m so glad he did. It allows me the opportunity to reflect on the incredible gifts that each of you are.
You are maturing into such a beautiful girl, on the outside but more importantly in your soul. I am absolutely in love with your intellect, your capacity and desire to learn about anything from spiders to our Lord’s parables (and everything in between), your innocence, your vivid and vast imagination, your sensitivity, your playfulness, your passion for everything, your intensity, your energy and and your heart of gold.
You are an amazing leader of our “Soto Six Pack”. You can teach reading skills to a certain 6 year old sibling and you model kindness and patience to your 3 year old sister, who can be quite trying at times, better than most adults. I am so proud of how you handle all the responsibility we give you. You are my right hand gal and I thank God daily for your life!
You are just as sweet as they come. You have a depth to your capacity to empathize that cannot be learned or acquired. You are gifted in your generosity, your thoughtfulness, your love of solitude, of finding joy in giving rather than receiving. You are the 1st to offer help and you follow through with such cheerfulness. You are grateful and appreciative for everything, even the most simple, small things. You feel with a love that goes straight to the heart of God Himself. You are nurturing and gentle. You are just an incredible gift. And it’s no surprise why ALL of your siblings call on you and want to be near you or in your presence all the time.
You remind me that it is better to serve than to be served. You remind me that it is better to do good than to do well.
Wow, you are in your element out here. How my soul longs to give you more of what I know your soul desires. More than yearly camping trips. Trees to climb and stars to gaze upon daily and wide open space to allow your imagination to sour and your spirit to contemplate the face of God. Soon my son. It is fascinating for me to observe your transformation from toddler to little boy. Boy, oh boy are you a different creature. You help me make sense of your Daddy 😉 You are all about testing your strength these days, figuring out how
things everything works, and annoying scaring your sisters in your loudest most scary dinosaur growl. At the same time you run to protect each and every one of them from any injustices and hurts. You are compassionate.
You prove to me that God is a warrior. A protector. A strength. And that He is the ultimate gentleman.
Amelie DominicaOur little sassy pants. You are a silly one. Always joking. Always testing. Always demanding to do things your way. Always making us laugh (when we aren’t tempted to lose our temper and yell). You adore your big sisters yet you have no problems expressing your own opinion even and especially in opposition to theirs. You are a hard worker (as your name means) and you thrive on the affirmation that results from helping out in any way or doing a job well. You are physically tough (& quite rough) yet you are emotionally fragile. And you are cautious. You can be a little shy yet you can talk up a storm if you are just the slightest comfortable with someone. You are loud. (which has been consistent from your very 1st cry). You are extremely smart and you are a little sweet and your big smile and the way you scrunch your nose just melts me.
You teach me that meaningful work is food for the soul and that there are certain things worth fighting for.
Yvette BellaYou are a beauty, alright with those sun-kissed curls and blue eyes. You are a Daddy’s girl, to. the. extreme. You scream bloody murder each and every day that he leaves the house. And you wander around saying “Daddy, where are you?” in the most adorable squeaky voice as if I’m non existent and my bribes are practically meaningless. 😉 It is quite humbling that I can’t always soothe or fulfil you like he does. And I’m still learning your favorite triggers to distract you, and make you laugh. You love to watch the dynamics of your older sibling interaction and get right in the mix, however you often choose to play independently, quietly exploring the world around you. You love to pray and you love to sing. You run away at the most inopportune (& dangerous) moments. You are fearless.
You show me that there is no place like the Father’s arms. That they are always waiting to comfort me. And that in them, fear does not exist.
You tell me that you don’t have to be loud to be heard. That our God is a Lion and a Lamb. That things are not always as they appear and that I should expect our Lord to shatter my expectations.When we weren’t exploring new places, or viewing properties, we were lounging and reading, playing games,
It took a little bit of time but giving myself permission to let go of all responsibilities & concerns and completely R E L A X felt oh. so. good! It was as if time slowed down a bit and we were all happy about that.It was such a beautiful time to visit. It was green and lush everywhere where went. The new life Springtime brings forth was overwhelming. On the ground, on the hills, on the mountain peaks, and in the sky. It was also symbolic of our new life as a family of 8. And a new chapter of having Daddy work from home and discerning what God has for our future.
The little patio at the house we rented had the prettiest cherry blossom trees, scents of lavender and the sounds of doves. Meanwhile, these two ….
It was definitely more than a vacation, an escape from the mundane, an opportunity to see new sights, new glimpses of God, although that it was for sure. But for me, it was more about a journey. The long physical journey foreshadowed a spiritual journey of inviting God to move into parts of my heart that were closed off. Addressing my doubts, my fears, my weaknesses head on and allowing Him to work His magic in making all things new again. And Gosh, did your Daddy and I have some really cool sharing of our hearts on our long drives. Definitely worth the bouts of LOUD noisy screams. Think pots and pans banging and clashing together. Or nails on the chalkboard. You get the point 😉
But I’m soooo very thankful for the memories we created. The love that was watered and the way God used the trip to grow me up a bit more. 😉
Until next time…