— sojourning, us



i haven’t written at all about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan here on sojourning, us or on my design blog at hellonifty, not because i don’t have anything to say but because my heart is just that broken. you see, in case you don’t know me in person, i lived there in some of the places most devastated. i call that part of japan my home in conversation. i call those people my people with a fondness that can only be expressed in tone of voice inaccessable here on the internet. i have people i still call my family and my friends who were once there, most of them i know are safe, some of them i do not. i have places permanently etched into my memories that have been erased, washed away, and are gone forever … or are for quite sometime no longer accessible because of radiation from the daiichi nuclear plant.

Yonomori in Futaba-gun, near Tomioka and the nuclear power plant Yonomori in Futaba-gun, near Tomioka and the nuclear power plant
Kashima Sunset
Yonomori in Futaba-gun, near Tomioka and the nuclear power plant Kashima-machi in the summer

fukushima-ken has my heart. tohoku (northern japan) is my home away from home. i have never felt more at home anywhere else than i did in Japan, home staying in kashima-machi (known now as minamisoma) or serving the fukushima first bible baptist church (you can click the english link on their front page for donation options and for pastor akira sato’s diary in english. it’s, uh, really heartbreaking, so have some tissues, okay? i can’t read it without crying) in tomioka-machi (where the daiichi plant is).

all of these places are in the evacuation zone; both places i may never see in person again in my lifetime without the potential for health risk. so many of the places i remember have been damaged, if not destroyed.

Yonomori Chapel
Our First Anniversary, Japan Style

this still crushes me.


i lay awake at night, our windows open to the breeze, and stare at the ceiling when i cannot sleep, making myself remember all the places i saw, all the places i took for granted. i pray for the church that took me in, that let a foreigner like me into their hearts and homes, a church that now is scattered, most having migrated to tokyo to begin a new life in a strange place. i pray for the displaced, all of them. so many of them were tied for generations to their lands (rich, beautiful farm land) on the coast of tohoku. now, they have nothing. i pray for my home stay family who are retired and have to start over somewhere new, for the hopelessness that must weigh heavily on the hearts of everyone from those tiny coastal towns. i pray for the Christians who are now working hard to bring hope to the places that need it most. i pray that broken hearts and broken lives will be made new.

but, sometimes the words are hard to say. sometimes, it hurts too much and i hesitate.

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it hurts because even though i am not japanese, part of me is missing.

a part i do not have words for. a part i cannot name.

it hurts because i am reminded how much i have let slip away. i have not been in touch with the church since my husband and i visited on our first anniversary. i have not kept in contact with the people i held—no hold still—so dear to my heart.

i feel guilty.

the weight of my forgetfulness is a burden that i don’t know what to do with.

i want to cross the ocean just to say i’m sorry.

i’m so sorry.

you see, i am still so very much in love with Japan. the small seed that God put there so many years ago has grown into a deep-rooted tree in my heart. it’s a wild, untamed tree right now, overgrown like the rest of my spiritual garden, but it’s still so beautiful. i literally ache with longing to be back there sometimes. it’s a tangible feeling. like pins and needles inside my chest.


the road to recovery is going to be long. and difficult. even once our media here stops talking about the devastation, people there will still be devastated. people there will still be suffering and struggling. the damage is internal as well as external.

one day, sooner rather than later, i hope to be back there, family in tow. i want to hug and weep and pray. i want to love and sing and cherish. i want to remember old joys. i want to celebrate new beginnings.


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We have a big pile of clothes and other junk from our closets taking up a lot of space in our bedroom right now; it’s all waiting for that trip to Goodwill that we haven’t taken yet. I recently went through the mound of clothes and dug up a bunch of old tshirts that Justin and I don’t wear anymore. I cut them up and made scarves out of them. Eventually, I’ll probably list them up on my Etsy shop.

Because I’m so much in love with Pinterest, I’ve found a lot of great, crafty tutorials there. So, if you have a bunch of t-shirts that you don’t wear, give some of these a try. Oh, and if your shirts are stained, why not hand dye them or dip-dye them while you’re at it?

Here are some of my favorite tutorials for reusing old t-shirts:

So, yeah, if you get the itch to clean out your closets like we did, you don’t have to send all your t-shirts to Goodwill!


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so, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

sorry for that.

i appear to have difficulty finding balance, but i’m not really convinced that’s quite as bad of a situation as it sounds. i think that i work best when i feel as though i’m flying by the seat of my pants, and right now, i feel as though i’m just getting by on the skin of my teeth every day.

little E spent the past two weeks sick and teething (he’s still teething, but his ear infection and cold are finally fading). this makes life for me a bit difficult—it’s hard to work when you have a whining one year old practically strapped to your body at all times. well, i probably could have worn him in the mei tai a bit and had two free hands more often, but i don’t think that would’ve solved our whining, crankiness issues. it’s been a hard few weeks and now that it’s Monday, i’m still exhausted and ready for another weekend.

even if working for myself form home can sometimes feel like one very long Saturday, i assure you the reality is that i still have times that i live for the real weekend.

that said, i know i am not working enough.

i’m listless and dissatisfied. there is more i could be doing. there is so much caught up inside me, that much like the season of spring, i can feel it all budding and longing to burst forth.

it’s just been easier said than done for me and i’m still trying to figure out why.

i’ve been feeling on the edge of something for quite some time. like a break through is just around the corner. like i’m about to stumble into an epiphany. like something’s going to catch fire. i like this feeling. it makes me smile and keeps me active. it motivates me to sketch, to take notes, to hoard inspiration.

now that little E is feeling better, i know he’s going to be getting back into the groove of being his very busy one-year-old self. i need to take this moment to get on the same page as my husband. we’re currently … totally not. sometimes, i feel as though we’re unconsciously working against each other instead of with each other, especially now that i’m home all the time. we don’t have a rhythm. or, if we do, i don’t see it. or, if we do, we’re at least not moving to the same tempo. this makes mothering and working and living hard for me.

part of my silence and frustrations have revolved around me feeling alone.

i suppose this is part of the burden of freelancing, but i also know in my heart it doesn’t have to be so. there’s plenty of community out there if i’m willing to invest myself in it.

i need to invest some more of myself in my home, in my relationships first, however. i just hope that my motivation is reciprocated.

i miss blogging. i feel as though i’ve lost my voice.

having a little home here in the internet has been dear to me since i was just a kid. an awkward high school kid. for me, the interwebs is just as much a comfortable place as my couch. i need to spend some time here like i need hot showers. however, i can tell there’s been a disconnect. i’m still trying to put things back together again and it’s been more difficult than i expected. more difficult to put into words. there’s a lot going on and i’m still trying to juggle it, i guess. or something. i’m not entirely sure.

it’s abstract but heavy for me. a burden on my daily thoughts.

for now, i’ll just say that i want to have this space back. i want to reclaim this particular bloggy part of myself. while i’ll also be blogging separately on my business website, i want sojourning, us to be a place where i explore family life, spiritual life, and personal stuff. this is the other part of me, though it is certainly not separated from the working part. i don’t really feel like myself when the creative is separated from the personal. work for me usually requires just as much of my whole self as family life, so i can’t promise this place to be devoid of shop talk.

anyway. i don’t really know who reads this anymore, but i’m sorry i’ve been so quiet. i’ve struggled to carve out time for this sort of thing, but i’m slowly getting better.

let’s hang out some more. i’ve missed you.

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In the process of starting my own business, I never intended this place to grow silent. Unfortunately, I kind of let it go to the wayside while focusing on designing my portfolio and getting the ball rolling seeking out clients and work. Now, I really miss this place and have been trying to figure out ways to relight the fire.

Sorry for my absence.

I’m on a quest to find my voice and I hope that this place can once again become a part of that.

So, I’ll be back on Monday.

Thanks for waiting.

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Baby Eli, just born.

one month old

two months!

three months

Elisha is 4 months old!

5 months

six months!

yep, i can do this nom nom nom

baby e with papa 8 months

9 months!

yup, i'm 10 months old. Woah. Where did 11 months go?

Elisha's First Birthday!

Elisha's First Birthday!

Elisha's First Birthday!

I’m still finding it hard to believe that a year has gone by already. I can still remember labor. And delivery. I can still remember the first few weeks. I remember so much of this year, but I also can admit it’s been a bit blurry. Fast. Fleeting. Beautiful.

Elisha is walking. Talking. Laughing. Playing. Eating. Growing. Exploring. Cuddling. Loving. He’s been an absolute joy.

We love cloth diapering. Twelve solid months of cloth diapers and I really, really believe more people should give them a try. No epic blowouts. No serious leaks. No stinkies. No diaper rash. Just a bit of extra laundry here and there. Cloth diapers are easy, not scary … though I will admit Elisha goes more in the potty than he does in his diapers these days. Elimination communication has been amazing, interesting, and fun. It’s not about potty training early, either. It’s about meeting needs. I still love our fluff, even if more of our fluff has turned into training pants than new diapers. We’ve settled on our favorites (cloth diaperers call this “stash nirvana”), and those include Green Mountain Diaper’s Clotheez prefolds and prefitteds, GroVia All-in-One diapers (with snaps), and Sustainablebabyish snapless multi-sized bamboo fitteds.

Elisha wears Hannah Andersson organic cotton training pants around the house, though on days we have too many misses (like when he’s teething or hitting milestones like walking), he wears a diaper instead. We have pretty much made the transition to going coverless, but he’ll sometimes hang out in wool so no one gets too wet if he’s too busy playing to let us know he needs to pee.

We still love breastfeeding. I always figured we’d wean by now, but I’ve since changed my mind. He doesn’t really like cow’s milk, and I know his little growing brain needs all the healthy fat it can get to grow into a processing machine of awesomeness. When he signs milk or points and asks for “naa-naah” (his own made up word for milk), we’re communicating now. It’s pretty amazing. No, he doesn’t sleep through the night yet. No, I’m not always a fan of his acrobatics while nursing. But, I don’t believe a baby has to sleep through the night at this age to be “normal” and we both still manage to get plenty of rest.

He really is a joy. A light. A blessing from the Lord in so many ways neither of us can entirely put into words. An enhancement to our lives that I don’t think either of us really could have imagined. Waking up to baby smiles is the best feeling ever.

We’ve watched him grow and change from a tiny little newborn to a walking, talking almost toddler for these past 365 days, only to have him grow us and change us on the inside in ways I never imagined.

Happy birthday, Elisha Paul. Mama and Papa love you.

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no, really, it did.

11 months has flown by. it’s been a falling star—streaking across the sky in all it’s wonderful bright goodness, only to fade from view before you can catch your breath. it’s been a flash in the pan—the smoke is in your nostrils before you’re even finished blinking. i’m left clinging to my memories (and photos) of a squishy newb like waking up from a dream and trying to keep it in your thoughts all day long. it goes by so fast. everyone told me it would, but secretly i tried not to believe them.

here. soak it in. gloat a little. you were all so very right.

Woah. Where did 11 months go?

9 months of pregnancy felt like eternity. like watching all three of the Lord of the Rings movies in one sitting (mind you, i like them, but i am not a marathoner when it comes to movies … i tend to fall asleep). the last month of carrying Elisha in my belly felt like the longest possible stretch of time any human being should be made to endure this side of eternity (not that anything in heaven will be labeled under the category of “enduring” … that will all be “enjoying” i’m sure). still. seriously.

i am still in shock that in less than 30 days, my sweet baby who i can still remember birthing will be a whole friggin’ year old.

where does the time go?

let me tell you: it went to nursing. to fluffy cloth diapered bottoms. to snuggling. to laughing. to growing. to rolling. to crawling. to eating. to sleeping. to more nursing. to clapping. to grinning. to pointing. to dressing. to bathing. to teething. to over-tired crying. to rocking. to reading. to more reading. to more crying. to smiling. to more nursing. to almost walking. to some talking. to … wow. yeah. you get the picture.

in December, i quit my job to become self-employed. that is still … brewing. things have gotten started, but i still feel like i 1) have lost my personal style and must find it again and 2) have a lot to catch up on if i want to really “be myself” out in the business world. i’m intimidated, but in a good way. it’s like going back to school again only i can do it in my pajamas while taking naps with my baby on occasion. (okay, every day. sssh. don’t tell the boss—oh wait, that’s me … hahaha.)

anyway, these past two months (almost three) since i’ve been home with hubby and Elisha have gone by even faster than the previous 9 months of baby-dom. we’re around each other all the time and it’s good but challenging in a sometimes i-don’t-know-why-i-did-this-to-myself sort of way. and yet, i wouldn’t want it any other way. i don’t think i can ever go back to being employed in any other fashion, and i’ve only just started this journey of working for myself.

okay, back to the baby.

he’s probably going to walk before his birthday.

he says words. well, he signs one. he signs milk. he’s a boob man. he also says boob. yes. there, internet, there is your one piece of blackmail on me. my child’s first words revolve around breastfeeding. i laugh. i think it’s cute. other people may not. still, he’s always been a hungry babe and that part has not changed (with the exception of his love for solid food … oranges and grapes in particular). he also says “nigh-nigh” for bedtime and sometimes will even honor us with a “mama” or a “dada” or a “papa” when he feels so inclined.

i’m aware that he’s setting the bar just a little high for his future siblings.

just a little.

wow. look. i wrote a long blog post. time to go reward myself with some hot chocolate.

did you miss me?

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i’ve been inspired by the non-goals floating around some of my frequented inspirational sites. now that i’ve reflected on the amazing ride 2010 has been, here is me encouraging myself to keep up the good work in 2011:

1. last year (9 months ago, to be exact), you had a baby. it was an awesome experience and you totally love being a mama. enjoy it because it’s only going to keep getting crazier from here—you’re going to have a 1-year old soon!

2. you loved your job, but you realized it was time to chase your dreams instead of play it safe. you’ve gotten nothing but positive reactions and plenty of support, so don’t be afraid. go for it this year. really, really go for it.

3. you did a great job losing that pregnancy weight. now, there’s some extra stuff you didn’t even like before you were pregnant, so let’s keep the ball rolling and get rid of that this year, too.

4. this year, you’ve really begun to crack down on distractions. let’s stay focused on making your new business work and keeping your family together.

5. the reconnection with your family, especially your mom, is going great. hang in there and keep loving on them and supporting them. it feels good and is the right thing to do. real life can hurt sometimes, but you already knew that.

6. these past few months, you’ve really tried to get back into blogging again. you know you want to, so go on, find your voice and get into it. people do read your blog and all three (or four or ten) of them still want to hear from you. maybe there’s people out there waiting to hear from you and they don’t even know it yet! yeah!

7. it was hard, but you mostly stuck to your budget with hubby and a baby this year. sure, there were a couple of tight months, and that was with a salary! now that you’ll be in charge of your own income, let’s tighten that belt and keep up the savings.

8. you’ve rediscovered your love for cleaning and organizing, especially while you were in that nesting phase of pregnancy your last trimester. let’s, uh, keep that up especially once you’re working from home, okay?

9. since you’ve decided to pursue your passions, don’t leave God out of the picture this year. you know what your heart’s been saying—don’t forget your first love amidst all the awesomeness. He’s the one who’s going to be making it all happen.

10. love your baby. love your husband. you’re already pretty darn good at that, what with them being so darn cute and all. keep it up. it’s been fantastic, hasn’t it?

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