Valuing the Sanctity of Life

Around 6 months ago I was asked to speak to the student body of Cedarville University at one of their weekly chapel meetings about our story with Sophie.   As Kevin and I thought and prayed about this opportunity we sensed that by September 11, we would be more emotionally able to step into an opportunity like this.  So I said yes!  Not more than a month later we found out that our little girl we are now carrying, Dasah, also has a similar condition to Sophie.   I thought soon after we are going to have to cancel coming to Cedarville to speak because who knows what our emotions will be like by then and how Dasah will be doing.  Yet, as we prayed it seemed as though God was continuing to lead us into this opportunity and had something He wanted to say through our lives, and even something He wanted to do in our lives.  Two weeks ago, as I started to more intensely prepare for this time, in the midst of all the emotions that surfaced around Sophie’s 1 year birthday (not to mention all the pregnancy emotions raging) do you know how often I thought I was crazy for not canceling???  Like, everyday, all throughout the day.  Okay, maybe not that often but seriously, I was in need of Jesus intervening in a mighty way to help me prepare for this and get through it without being a weepy mess.  (Which, I’m fine with being a weepy mess… it’s just that when you’re trying to communicate to an audience of 3,000 it might be helpful for them to hear what you’re actually saying through your tears and with the way I often cry, that’s not always possible!).   So, we had a little army covering us in prayer that I will be forever thankful for!   My nerves were all over the place the few days leading up to speaking  as I thought of the reality that I was about to speak in front of 3000 people and do you know the last time I did that… ummm… never!  So as I found myself in Psalm 116 the words of the Psalmist struck me as he declared all that God had done for him, all the ways He had rescued and provided for him and said:

“I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.”

I kept thinking of these words of the psalmist and thinking this is our opportunity to tell of what God has done, to glorify His name in the presence of his people.  So, our prayer is that you would be blessed and your eyes lifted to the greatness of our King and the great value He places on human life as you listen to Kevin and I speak of what God has been writing on our hearts, our offering of thanksgiving to the One most worthy of praise…

Watch the Video Version:

Valuing the Sanctity of Life – Video Message

Audio Version:

Valuing the Sanctity of Life – Audio Message

Sophie’s First Birthday…

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Sophie graced our lives for 10 hours on September 1, 2013.   Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and other times it feels like a world away… I hate that part.  I think of Sophie EVERY single day and miss her EVERY single day and I know that that is how it will be for the rest of my life, but as time goes on the emotions of those thoughts and longings have ebbed and flowed.  However, the emotions of last weekend crept up on me.   Our focus has been much on celebrating Dasah and moving into our new home that it felt as though my grief for Sophie was in some ways put on hold.   How do you grieve the loss of your first child and the anticipation of the loss of your second? I have absolutely no idea, and so I just embrace (that sounds like too kind of a word…),  more like allow the emotions to come as they come.   But new waves of grief caught up to me last weekend as I allowed myself to spend the weekend just remembering our Sophie.   We didn’t really start thinking through how we would spend the day until a few weeks before hand because life had been so full.  True confessions… I had guilty mom complex for a while because I felt as though I wasn’t doing enough to celebrate my little girl and was so worried that the day would just come and go.  In some ways, it was a welcome emotion… an emotion that made me feel a little more like a normal mom, who even in the loss of her child experiences some of the same emotions as mommas with their children in their arms… I like that.

Everyone who has lost a child grieves differently and has unique desires for how they would spend the birthdays of the loved ones they lost.   As I share what we did for Sophie, I just want to acknowledge that reality, that those who are reading this and walking a similar journey would feel the freedom to celebrate their child as simply or as extravagantly as they desire.  Our prayer was that God would lead us to celebrate her in ways that would truly be meaningful to us and our family and not just doing things because we feel like we “should”.

So, all we knew for Sophie’s birthday is that we wanted to have time for just the two of us and time with people who have been a close part of this journey.  (The people part I wasn’t so sure about, but knew that the day would be emotionally hard and typically being around our friends who know us well alleviates some of the intensity of emotions and enables us to celebrate a little more!)

So here is the unfolding of Sophie’s birthday…

First off we began to receive countless texts and messages from people thinking of us and Sophie and that was the most precious gift!  A friend of ours had put together a virtual Prayer Shower evite asking people to simply shower us in prayer and encouragement that day knowing it would be a hard day.  We weren’t able to respond to everyone but please know that if you were a part of that we are so incredibly thankful! I had nothing I really wanted to write about that day but I was so thankful when my mom and brother wrote blogs that day that were both incredibly meaningful to us that we would love for you to read!  My mom’s blog: Celebrating Sophie – A Glorious Unfolding    My brother, Luke’s blog:  When Love is Withheld from us: In honor of my late niece, Sophie

Our morning began with some delicious Trader Joe almond croissants, sparkling juice, watching Sophie videos with a much needed box of tissues at hand!

Our morning began with some delicious Trader Joe almond croissants, sparkling juice, watching Sophie videos with a much needed box of tissues at hand!

 

This was a hard one, Kevin and I don’t often visit her gravesite, but for some reason in the midst of all the emotions being at her gravesite brings it also strangely reminds me of hope.  You drive into a cemetery, full of stories of lives lost and it reminds me the most vividly that this is not the end.  That in the greatest place that shouts out the finality of death, there is a louder shout of what it truly means that Jesus conquered death.  That death is not the end.  Though tears poured as we sat at her gravesite, each reading her notes we had written her for her birthday we left with our spirits a little lighter, a little greater hope, a little more perspective.   Yet, even in the midst of the hope of heaven, her birthday was still a day of just missing my little girl so deeply I can’t even put it into words.   I was thankful as we left the cemetery that we were inviting friends over for a little  picnic celebrating Sophie’s life.   I told several friends that had we not had that to look forward to I think I would have emotionally pulled an Anne of Green Gables and fallen into the “depths of despair”, which would’ve been ok but in the midst of the tears I wanted to be able to truly remember the celebration of Sophie’s life, the people that surrounded us, cared for us and not just sink into the abyss of sadness.   We headed home and prepared for our little celebration, putting the finishing touches on things we had made to decorate for the day which had been so fun to make thinking of Sophie…

My fun project... creating a fabric backdrop and birthday sign for Sophie...

My fun project… creating a fabric backdrop and birthday sign for Sophie…

We had wanted to give everyone who came a photo of a piece of Sophie’s story that meant so much to us that they were a part of, and a photo of Sophie’s feet with the quote “There is no foot too small that it can’t leave an imprint on the world”. It was so sweet to print off these photos and think of the countless ways God used the body of Christ to help us love and celebrate our little girl.  Though there are SOOO many others who were a part of this story and we would have loved to invite everyone,  we knew that a large party would probably be harder for us emotionally. So, please know that for EVERYONE who was a part of Sophie’s life, celebrations, praying for us… we are so grateful for you!

Every month on the 1st we’ve been releasing the number of balloons of how old Sophie would be, writing notes on them and taking a moment to just celebrate her.   Beginning on her 1 year birthday we decided we would start over with 1 balloon for 1 year and move to releasing balloons yearly.    So of course, we wanted a giant balloon for her first birthday.  We knew we’d be writing on them so we got two just in case one popped… I know, so smart.   We had also asked our friends who came to the picnic and friends on Facebook to send us a “gift” for Sophie.  Since we’re unable to give her physical gifts, which saddens our hearts deeply, we wanted to hear from others of the gifts that Sophie has given them through her life.  So every comment, message, note sent, was printed off and attached to the balloon that we released.  Thankful it was so large, because we needed a lot of helium to get all those notes up!  If you sent a note in, thank you! We have read almost every one (are still working through them) and they mean the world to us to hear how Sophie’s life has blessed so many!

We skyped family in, several of who were also releasing balloons with us at the same time, prayed and sent our sweet balloon into the sky (I like to think I may get to heaven and Sophie will have a collection of all the balloons we’ve released for… perhaps that just makes me feel a little better about littering in the sky :) )

We also had a surprise for everyone and after we released Sophie’s balloon we had ordered 12 butterflies to release for 12 months.  Butterflies have been a sweet reminder to us of how God takes the broken and seemingly “ugly” things of the world and creates unimaginable beauty.  So we think of Sophie every time we see a butterfly and are reminded of the beauty God continues to create out of great brokenness.  A friend of ours wrote the sweetest note to Sophie about butterflies that continues to be meaningful to us… you can find that here:  Sophie’s Butterfly Week

We had one last little surprise for everyone… this was the very first idea I had several months ago when we first started thinking of how we could bring some lightness and joy to such a heavy day.   Among the many things that are sad about not having Sophie here to celebrate her 1st birthday one of the hardest things for me has been that I don’t get to see her eat her first cake… perhaps that’s strange but that’s just my reality.  So, we thought “What if, we have everyone else eat a cake the way they think Sophie would have eaten it???”.   So, thats what we did… and people had some really great impressions… Perhaps my favorite was Lisa, simply putting the entire cupcake in her mouth at once. (Kevin’s was pretty good too).. joy to our hearts!  It’s the little things.  I, of course didn’t participate because as the mom I simply wanted the pleasure of watching everyone else devour their cakes, just as I would watch Sophie if she were here.

We finished the night breaking into the cake I had made for Sophie… a replica of the first one I had made for her when we had announced her name.  A black raspberry chip graters ice cream cake… and it’s every bit as delicious as it sounds!   We watched a short “Celebrating Sophie” video together, shared some tears throughout the evening and called it a night.

 

In the midst of the joy you see on our faces, the truth about the day was that though there was joy, it was still a bittersweet day.  Even as people came over it was hard for me to engage in conversation, to know even what to say, the reality of what we were celebrating that day simply all too real.   But, I’m thankful.  I’m thankful for people to cry and laugh with.  I’m thankful we were able to spend the day simply being present in the emotions that came and went.  And I’m thankful that people were just present with us.   Those few hours celebrating Sophie in community truly did bring lightness and lifted our hearts and we are so thankful for those who continue to step into our lives and story.   And the entire day was a sweet reminder of God’s faithful hand on our lives, how He provided for us every step of the way in our journey with Sophie.   These reminders are especially sweet to us as we walk this journey with Dasah and cling to God’s faithfulness that just as He walked us through Sophie’s life, birth and death, so He will continue to walk us through whatever unfolds with Dasah’s story.

Our dog, Toby enjoyed the celebration and probably a little extra food in the process...

Our dog, Toby enjoyed the celebration and probably a little extra food in the process…

all over the place…

Literally, that’s where I’ve been this past month.  Physically all over the place, emotionally all over the place and mentally all over the place.  I haven’t written in a while partially because of that, partially because my heart has just felt weary that it seems every time I had thoughts swirling around in my head the effort to bring those thoughts from my head to a page just took too much.   So I’d move on to other less mentally challenging things, like finding new creative things to do on pinterest and looking for great deals on craigslist.   Seriously, I have spent WAY too much time on these two sites (however, I have a lot of great pins on my “home decor” board as a result, and more projects then I could possibly do stirring in my head).   Besides pinterest and craigslist (which you’ll understand why in a moment those sites have so recently captured me), here’s a taste of what our past couple of months have been like.  We wrapped up our summer assignment for our ministry (working with a group of students who come down here for the summer to learn how to walk with Jesus on a summer missions trip) the beginning of July and then moved in with a couple of dear friends for 2 weeks as the new house we were renting (ahhh… now you understand pinterest and craigslist!) wasn’t available until August 1.   We had a family reunion out in Yosemite (of which I continue to confuse with Yellowstone… I’m not from the west), so we decided to head out a week before hand and take Dasah on her first (and really our first) Dennis Family Vacation and road trip through California (It was absolutely refreshing, we made some sweet sweet family memories and I’ll write about that next post).  After 2 weeks on vacation we spent a night with our friends back in Orlando and then moved into our new rental home of which I got sick on the day we moved in (I wasn’t really doing a whole lot anyways since one of the perks of pregnancy is no one expects you to lift anything… so I directed the 15 men that showed up from our church to help!).   We had a few days to unpack before we had a week of wrapping up things for our summer assignment and now we are in the thick of settling into our new home and thinking so much about Sophie as we approach her 1 year birthday.   This past month has been stressful, to say it mildly, but it has still been filled with some sweet sweet times with friends and family and enjoying the time the Lord gives us with Dasah.   However, even in a “normal” season of life, with “normal” heightened stresses (what’s really “normal” anyways?) often the first thing to go is my time with the Lord.  And to be totally honest, it was the same for me this time.   I have to fight to create time to meet with the Lord, to drink deeply from His word and sometimes I just don’t have the energy to fight for that time.   I still walked with Jesus this month, I still talked with Him, but I knew I was trying to get through each day living off of last weeks spiritual bread.  Can you imagine a pregnant woman trying to live off of last weeks bread… she’d be a crazy person after missing just one meal!  That was me… only spiritually (don’t worry… I still ate actual food very often).  My heart was more frazzled, less at peace, more irritable, fearful, anxious for the future, I could go on.   Yet, I am so thankful for His grace, that “His mercies are new EVERY morning”, that He is faithful even when I am not.   Even so, the past few weeks the Lord has opened my eyes to new depths of what it means that His word is my LIFE.   There is NOTHING that has brought me life this month like His word has.   NOTHING.   Stick me by the ocean, with incredible views non stop (like what we had for a majority of our California trip) and my heart is typically happy, free and full of life.   However, this time I didn’t experience His creation giving me life in the ways I’m used to and I realized that what my heart craves, needs in a way I grasped a little deeper this past month… is Him.

“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul PANTS for YOU.” Psalm 42:1

“My soul clings to the dust; give me LIFE according to your WORD!” Psalm 119:25

 “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your WORD!” Psalm 119: 28

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.  I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me LIFE.” Psalm 119:92-93 (emphasis mine)

This past month I’ve tasted what the psalmist knew to be true that if God’s word is not invading my heart on a consistent basis I will not find life.   A stressful season for anyone is often an easy time to find yourself soothing the stress with quick fixes, quick moments of what we think will refresh us fully (okay so it does REALLY feel good to finish a project, unpack a box, and pin a few hundred great ideas you know you’ll never get to on pinterest)… but still those moments of refreshment can be so fleeting.   And the moments when I’ve experienced “peace that passes understanding” have consistently been the times when I’m leaning into Jesus, when His words are fresh on my heart and mind, whether simply a verse or a passage I read earlier.  Isaiah 55:10,11 says

10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it ALWAYS produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (emphasis mine)

Always.. His word will ALWAYS produce fruit, it will NEVER return empty.   Even in the times where I open up His word and it can “feel” so dry and empty… still His words are DOING something in my heart and working for His purposes… that is how powerful His word is.  Not my words, not a great author or speakers words… only HIS words produce that kind of life and fruit.

Are His words your very life? Do you hunger for them in the way that the psalmist does?  I do not like this season of life that I’m in right now, yet even as I write I’m realizing that it is a priviledge to be in a season of sorrow, of stress, where nothing brings me life like He does.   To know Him like that, to know how He really is the only true giver of life and true joy… that is a great great gift.

If you want to know how to pray for us, I could give you a huge long list, but right now… pray that we would find life in the Lord and His word in far richer ways then we’ve ever known this season.

Just a view from a stop along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway).

Just a view from a stop along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway).

A little blog hop…

So, a few weeks ago I was asked by a friend, Dayle Rogers, to participate in a blog hop. I’m still learning about what it is, but simply put, it’s a way to learn about new blogs and introduce others to your blog! I feel honored that Dayle, a woman I met several years ago while I was working at Cru Headquarters in Orlando, wanted to include me in hers!  Her blog is Tip of the Iceberg and I’d love for you to check out some of her writings!

So, for this blog hop I’m to respond to a few questions.  I hope they help you get to know me a little more and why I write!

1. What am I writing or working on?

This is a loaded question, what I’m working on in writing is documenting a story that is still very fresh as it unfolds in my life.   I began writing because I wanted to write about how our lives are but a vapor in light of eternity and how that affects the way that we live and who we live for.   My writing quickly evolved into a very fresh experience of the reality of that vapor as my first daughter was diagnosed in the womb with a fatal disorder that would not allow her to live long once born.   So, I began to write about grief, hope, joy, loss, celebrating life and how all those seemingly opposite things can co-exsist and bring great richness to one’s life as we look to Jesus.  I thought what I began writing about may begin to change as we buried our firstborn daughter and begin to walk through more intense grief and watched God begin to restore and heal our broken hearts.   8 months later we found out our 2nd daughter, that I am currently carrying has a different fatal disorder that still will not allow her to live long once born.   So, now I still write about grief, hope, joy, loss and celebrating life but I’m also writing about who God is in the midst of deep disappointment, when dreams are shattered and our expectations for how our lives would turn out are far different from reality.   And for some crazy reason, I’m letting others into this story that is being written for our lives in the hopes that it would bring joy and hope to those who choose to enter in and above all else that this story would point to a far grander story being written by our Creator.

2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?

I write about what I’m experiencing in the freshness of the grief I’m walking through.  Yet, it’s not just a sad story that I write about, but one that is consistently infused with hope and joy.  I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, I began a relationship with Him many years ago and knowing Him has dramatically affected my perspective in the midst of great pain.  This is what makes this story different from many that I have read. And even though I’ve heard many of my entries have brought tears to the eyes of may readers, there is also a sense of hope and joy that comes with my writings.  I also write about the celebration of life ,even a life that may be far too short.  It’s an odd dynamic of extreme grief mixed with great celebration of life.  I don’t try to make sense of how those two aspects of what I’m experiencing co-exsist but simply write about how both are being experienced and how Jesus is meeting me through it all.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Writing is a form of grief work for me.  It’s a way of processing the things I’m learning, gaining perspective and remembering what God is doing in my life.  But many years ago I became convinced that life is not just about me, that the things we walk through in life are not just for our own personal growth and that an authentic relationship with Jesus is living just that, authentically.  So, I write that even the broken pieces of my life may have a ripple effect into the lives of others.  I so desire that others would see what it’s really like to walk with Jesus through the ups and downs of life and experience, even if it’s just through writing, authentic Christianity.   And I write because I know I’m not the only one walking through grief and loss, I’m not the only one whose story is turning out far differently then I thought, and I want those reading who are walking through something similar to know you are not alone.

4. How does my writing process work?

It’s quite simple, I write what God is putting on my heart to write and I write when I’m able to write.  As someone writing in the midst of the freshness of grief I don’t always have the words to say in the torrent of emotions I’m experiencing on any given day.  Yet, as the things I’m learning become more clear I keep a running list of ideas and thoughts in my head that I eventually want to put to paper.  My hope is that each week, at least one of those ideas makes it to paper.  I prefer to write about what is fresh not what I learned yesterday, so that you get my fresh thoughts and fresh wrestlings and so that I get my fresh thoughts and fresh wrestlings!  Writing is a way to let others into what God is doing, but it’s also a way I process what God is doing and am rooted more firmly in what He’s teaching me!

So there you go, some reasons why I write what I do!

Camp KIVU & family celebrate Dasah

A little over a month ago, our friends threw us a gender reveal CARNIVAL, where we let everyone in on the big secret with a “pink” paint fight.  (As a side, I say “pink” because once the paint started flying all the paint was free game… so in case you’re confused, everyone just needed ammo and blue started flying too!).  You can watch the video of that day  here.

Most of our family was able to Skype into the event but weren’t there to participate.  So not to be outdone by our epic carnival, my little brother decided he’d throw a carnival of his own for Dasah… the following text and pictures were sent to us the next day…IMG_5936

Needless to say that made our day and brought lots of joy and laughter!   About a week later my parents, sister, brother in law and nephews surprised us via video with their own pink party…

And then the other day we received this email with the following video, from my other brother, Luke (one of the directors at Camp KIVU in Colorado)…

“Hey Linz and kevin!

So yesterday a little surprise took place here at Kivu.  After your gender revealing and Dan’s goofy picture in the park of celebrating Dasah, I ordered 25lbs of pink powder so we could also celebrate here.  However, after ordering the powder I asked our leadership staff to help me celebrate…and here’s what they surprised me with yesterday before lunch!  Hope you enjoy!  This is for you guys and Dasah!  
Love you!”

We cried our way through the video out of sweet joy that others are celebrating Dasah, and helping our family continue to celebrate her!  These past couple of months have been heavy, our hearts are heavy and many days the cloud of sadness just sits on top of us.  God is working in our hearts and rooting our faith much deeper in this season and providing sweet moments like these to remind us that in the midst of the sadness He will bring sweet rays of light and joy to remind us of the life that He gives, and the life that He’s given our daughter.  Our eyes are lifted,  if even for a moment, to the grander story being written for our life and our daughters’ that is bringing His name great glory.  So thank you, to our family, friends and even strangers (who we feel are like family) who are helping us to experience these sweet moments of celebration and life in the midst of the deep sadness that surrounds us.  We are so grateful!

Our second daughter’s name, and the meaning behind it…

So, we made a little video to introduce our baby girl’s name…

 

 and here’s the story behind it…

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14b

 

There is a true story in the Bible of a woman named Esther (in the book of Esther), a common Jewish girl, who was brought into the palace of the king, chosen to become his wife and ultimately used by God to bring deliverance to the Jewish people.   As Esther found out as the new queen that there was a plot against her people, her only hope was to speak with the king on the behalf of her people and ask him to spare their lives. However entering the kings’ presence without being summoned in that time (even as his wife), had the potential of leading to death.   Esther had great fear and yet, was reminded by Mordecai, the man who raised her, that God would surely find a way to deliver His people, but what if God had chosen her to be a part of that deliverance “FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS.” Esther called on the name of the Lord, fasted and prayed and determined to enter the presence of the king to plead for her people and declared with great courage and faith “If I perish, I perish.” Ultimately, the king had favor on her, and her people were saved.

 This has been a story of faith, courage, and deliverance that I have always loved in the Bible. Esther has been a picture of what it looks like to walk by faith and not by sight. And as Kevin and I have prayed about the name for this little girl, the phrase “For such a time as this” has continued to surface in our hearts.   We don’t know what God has in store for our second daughter, but we do believe that He has set the stage to produce something in and through our family’s life that will bring Him great glory and hope to many “For such a time as this.”   The Hebrew name for Esther has been one I have always loved… Hadassah.   Hadassah means “myrtle tree”.   Which on the surface may seem insignificant, however as we have studied the myrtle tree we’ve discovered that it is a highly esteemed plant in Judaism.   Its branches were to be used during the Jewish Feast of Booths, where they celebrate and remember God’s presence with them in the wilderness and ultimately foreshadowing the time when we will permanently dwell with Jesus!   Perhaps the sweetest thing I have discovered about the myrtle tree is that the flowers on the tree, though bitter to the taste, when crushed produce an aroma that is sweeter than a rose. It is our prayer that out of the bitterness of this journey the Lord will produce a sweet aroma that flows out of our lives and into the lives of others. We don’t know how He will do it, right now it feels so bitter, but we are trusting Him for the sweet.   And so we took the name Hadassah and shortened it to DASAH for our little girl’s first name.

 In keeping with Kevin’s Irish heritage we knew we wanted a Gaelic name somewhere in there and so discovered the name Brielle. And like Sophie’s middle name, Kyla, Brielle is both Gaelic and Hebrew.   In Gaelic it simply means “Hill” and in Hebrew it means “God is our might”. Surely, He is our might and the one, the only one who can produce life and joy and hope through such a journey as the one He has asked us to walk with our sweet…

 DASAH BRIELLE DENNIS

(pronounced DAW-sa)

 Who knows but God has chosen Dasah to enter our lives “for such a time as this” to leave a sweeter aroma in our lives and those around us then we could even imagine.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:13

 

The Dennis Family Float Trip!

The heaviness and weight of the story God is asking us to step into with our newest little girl has been overwhelming, yet has made the days where there is more laughter than tears and more joy than sorrow all the more fun.   Two fridays ago was one of those days.  We embarked on the first of many Dennis Family Day’s to come, with 2 of our dearest friends in town.   We had planned to take our little family (and friends, Josh and Maddie, who are practically family… their little girl, Ruth was one of Sophie’s besties last summer), to a beautiful natural lazy river in Kelly Park (Apopka, Fl… look it up, you should go!).  The day began and Josh and Maddie showed up at our door like this…

photo 1

We laughed (and I cried… because wouldn’t friends showing up with “Dennis Family Float Trip” T-shirts make you cry too?).   However, the weather was not looking too promising…

photo 1

but like any good family day complete with family t-shirts our trip was NOT going to be ruined by a little rain (or monsoon, but who defines these storms anyways?).   We headed to a delicious BBQ place in Orlando for some lunch and to give the rain some time to pass (4 Rivers Smokehouse… another place you need to check out if you ever find yourself in Orlando)

photo 2

 

And then we headed off to Kelly Park, our belly’s full, our smiles big, and laughter the norm between people asking us “Ummm… what’s a float trip?”  to being determined to drive an hour even if it looked like rain would be the forecast for the day.   We stopped at “Ron’s Discount Tubes and Propane” to rent tubes… and then had the thought… “Ummm… I wonder if the tubes will fit in our car?”

photo 3

hmmm…

photo 4

and it worked, Maddie being very secure in our car for the rest of the ride.   The skies were clearing, much to our surprise and our Float Trip was a go!

photo 5

Such a fun and relaxing day, floating down the most beautiful little river (once Maddie and I stopped freaking out about whether or not an alligator was going to get us… the lifeguards assured us they hadn’t seen any that DAY, though we’re convinced we saw a little small one)…

And our first Dennis Family Day was a success!  We’re looking forward to our weekly family day’s together, celebrating and enjoying the time the Lord gives us with our little girl, making memories and enjoying who God allows us to make those memories with!  So thankful for Maddie and Josh for making it extra special!