Family. Home. These words remind us that we have a place. That we have a space and people to come home to that is safe and warm and full of grace and hope.
Home is a place to come and heal after mistakes are made, or to recover injuries from ugly words thrown around like darts at our heads. For us, family is about being the best “us” we can be for each other in times of joy and sadness.
Quite often, we forget. We get selfish, run behind, pour into the important and pass over the eternal. We fight. We stick with our correct and rightly defended arguments. We fuss over silly things and make room for unreasonalbitlty when our own self gets in the way.
Family is hard. Five personalities stretching and pulling and growing to boundless dreams and limits and further in to independence pulls at all of our hearts. There is pulling, stretching and hurting as growing pains do often hurt.
In these times, it is important for us to practice long held traditions. Practicing our family traditions remind all of us what makes a Wegner a Wegner.
One especially fun tradition Rob and I have kept since moving away from Chicago and deep dish pizza in 1993 is creating our very own likeness of our favorite. We make the pizza together, and eat. Our tradition has gone from the two of us, then Maddie helped us. When Maddie was old enough she would show Whitney how it’s done and pour the cheese like a pro. When Belle was old enough, she had four people to tell her how it’s done, so she usually does it her own way, which is what makes it even more special.
Since the girls were old enough to hold a spoon and stir, they have been our little helpers. Everyone matters in our family. Everyone is equally important an is needed to fulfill this task. There have been years our pizza barely made it through the process of being made because there were spills, tears, dogs grabbing a sausage and running away, but these are the real moments that make family family. We laugh so much when we are all together. Watching my girls grown in independence, creativity, boldness and humor have been the biggest joy filled surprised of my mommy-hood.
We come home at the end of the day to life, to love, to tradition, to family.
My family, my world. I am more grateful every day for the people God gifted me with, called family. We are not perfect. We are flawed–Pretty much all of us. But, we love. We forgive. We grant pardon, we embrace, we venture on, because This is Us. This is our family.
We moved from Indiana to Kansas on May 2. Every single day since then, I have had a lesson in the form of humility from one source or another. Every place I go, I have to rely on Siri or my instincts to figure out where I am and where I am going, and how to get there. The days I rely on my instincts, I get lost.
Other than daily getting lost or finding myself driving down the wrong way on a one way street, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Kansas. Our new church family, Westside Family Church, has welcomed us with grace and peace and so, so much kindness.
Every day is a new introduction. A new something somewhere. I am a deeply settled person. I enjoy roots, predictability, and the peace that comes from knowing what happens next. Learning the in’s and outs and shortcuts will take time, I’m sure.
As I am being humbled by learning all things new, I thought I’d take a minute to blog about what I DO know. These are the people I know best in the world–their in’s and out’s, their shortcuts, what makes them who they are. I’d like to introduce my family. Understand these are bird’s-eye-view introductions. Each one of us is incredibly complex. Our girls are very spirited–The dynamics of raising three girls in one family are intense, insanely fun, and keep Rob and I on an incredibly high learning curve .
Rob and got married 21 years ago when he was 21 and I was 19. We were close friends from the time I was 12 and he was 14. I still remember clear as day the first time I saw him. He radiated joy and warmth and he was the funniest person I knew (besides myself, of course)
Rob is a phenomenally gifted communicator and teacher of Jesus and His ways. He is a wonderful husband and amazing father to our three girls. He is patient and kind with them, leading them by his example and courage to follow Jesus wherever He leads. Rob is a guitarist and musician. Music oozes out of him wherever he goes. It’s in his soul and spirit. He’s a dreamer of really big dreams, and a huge believer in helping others implement their own. I’m proud to be his wife.
Maddie is 15. She is an old soul in a young body. She’s an introvert, a Noticer, and deeply compassionate. Maddie is wise beyond her years and can spot a faker in a second (someone who says they are one thing but really are not who they say they are). She’s deeply intuitive and an amazing photographer. She’s hilarious and fun, practical and precise. She is a wonderful role model to her younger sisters. I am so proud to be her mom.
Whitney is 14. She is the tallest of our girls, and is made of solid muscle. She’s a strawberry blonde beauty. She’s intense, incredibly fun, an extremely strong leader, bold, loud, confident, and courageous. Whit is the kind of kid who is a friend to literally everyone she knows and an underdog for the outcast kind of kids. She has a gift for making those around her feel loved, included and important. Whitney makes me laugh every day. I’m so proud to be her Mamma.
Isabelle Joy(Belle, Isabob, Corndog, LIttle Mac, Is., Peanut)
Belle is 10. She exudes joy and life like no one I’ve ever known. From the minute she wakes up until her head hits the pillow at night, she oozes life and radiates joy. She is so much fun, non-stop. She is a Rainbow Loom genius, making bracelets and crafts several hours a day. She is deeply sensitive, is easily hurt, but comes alongside those who hurt because she knows how it feels. Belle is a best friend and buddy to whomever she is with. She is the definition of joy. Her smile and laugh light up a room like magic. I’m so proud to be Belle’s Mamma.
Me – I’m 41. I’ve written for several magazine publications over the past 10 or so years about family life and spiritual matters. I am a mega introvert. I need lots and lots of time alone, and people often misunderstand this part of me as snobbishness or aloofness. I promise I am neither of those. I love people. I love Jesus.
I love my family with all of my heart. I love anything artsy or creative or fun. Driving my Jeep with the top down, taking photos along the way with the sun on my face (or even in the pouring rain) fills me up. I’m often in nature alone, photographing stuff that point me to my Creator. I see Him through my camera lens, and hear His voice in the wind.
That’s enough introducing for now. Your eyeballs are probably tired from this very, very long post. Go take a nap and give your eyes a break. It’s been so lovely getting to know you all. Thanks for being gracious and kind as we humbly get to know you back.
I mentioned in a previous post that one of the unexpected surprises for me personally along our sabbatical journey this summer was the way I saw God everywhere. The God who made me made the Grand Tetons. The God who made me made Old Faithful to spout, spray, and show off every 88 minutes or so. The God who made me saw Pike’s Peak before Katherine Bates hiked up in 1893 and was so moved that she composed the lyrics to “America the Beautiful” at the top.”
Our friend Steve at the Potter’s Inn made a point to tell us as we sat on his porch with his wife Gwen, “See that mountain over there…Pikes Peak? God made that mountain. God made you. Katherine Bates wrote a song about how beautiful the mountain was. But God wouldn’t sing a song about a mountain. He’d sing a song about YOU.” And we all got it. God loves US, His Beloved.
The beauty we saw while wandering in the west this summer stunned our souls. We had so many moments where all we could say was “Wow”…or even better, just nothing.
So, I made a video today of some of the pictures I took along the way. The very last photo of the lightning hitting the Grand Tetons was taken by my amazingly gifted daughter Maddie.
Our family is moving at a high rate of speed, bumping and rumbling alone in a rented RV somewhere around where Wyoming meets Utah. I’ve personally never met Utah, so surprise awaits us all I am sure. We have just spent an absolutely incredible week in Yellowstone and the Great Tetons.
In one day, I’ve watched the landscape around me change from towering jagged snow capped mountains to rolling green hills and now the greens of Wyoming are slowly giving way to the browns and oranges of Utah.
Driving across the West has taught me a few things about myself, my family, and my Creator.
I am a camping Diva. I never used to mind the “roughing it” part of camping. Now I do.
I like to eat way more than I like to cook. Especially in an RV.
Being in the wide open for so long has brought me great joy. The deep satisfying kind of joy that sticks around for awhile.
I am a noticer. I notice all sorts of things other people pass right by. I used to think I was odd for this. But I’m starting to realize it is a gift.
I could sit and stare at the mountains for hours and never get bored.
We collectively are very funny. There have been more tears of laughter than tears of frustration. This has been good for all of us.
We are better “together”. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing is just so much more awesome because we are all doing it together.
We all have extremely strong opinions about everything. We are learning to share those opinions with grace and compassion.
We all love adventures equally and passionately. We are so grateful for this time we have together doing what we all love to do.
Walking wildflower paths on snow capped mountains, watching my kids swim in a mountain lake, wandering outside at midnight in awe of the sky, so bright with stars, they lit up my eyes, then my heart, I have seen a Great Artist behind it all.
The Great Artist knew we might occasionally feel alone, so he put the stars and the mountain tops and the green green grass right where we could see them so we’d know He’s right there. We are never alone.
In the darkest pit of a cave, no lights at all, my hand invisible in front of my face, His voice moved in my heart, whispering, “I’m here.” Swaying in a hammock from the breeze coming over the mountain, The wind saying, “Shhhh….” through the treetops. “Know I am here.”
We are so, so grateful for every second we get together as a family on this sabbatical. We truly are Better Together.