Happy Birthday, Bryan

Bryan and Ashley

Ten years ago today Mark and I were in Germany celebrating with Bryan on his 17th birthday. He was on the tail end of his adventurous junior year as an exchange student and we wanted to get a glimpse of what his life was like for that year. What we found is that Bryan was placed with an incredible family. He was loved, challenged and exposed to a world of beautiful music by this family. He met and became friends with other exchange students from all over the world. Last week Bryan was able to introduce his girlfriend Ashley to his German family and meet some of his friends while on a nine-day vacation in Germany. Bryan’s host dad Peter sent us this family photo after spending four days with Bryan and Ashley at his home in Mannheim.

Bryan's Host Family

Bryan,

You are twenty-seven years old today and you continue to amaze us with your vibrant and loving personality. We are so proud of who you’ve become.

Happy birthday. We love you so much.

Mom and Dad

Caio and Bryan

The Gift of Reading

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Have you ever had someone read to you? If you haven’t it’s a beautiful gift to give and receive. This past year my friends Marcy and Sheila have read to me weekly. Marcy often reads from her favorite book, the Bible, and on occasion will read me a children’s book with a beautiful message.

One of the books Sheila read to me was The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe. This book is about a daughter trying to find herself and learn more about her family. Along the way we learn about the fascinating life and migration of monarch butterflies.

This winter Mark started to read to me after my sister Deb brought us a signed copy of our family friend Terry Nolan’s book Reunion By Murder. Although Terry’s book is fiction he mentions many of Muskegon’s landmarks which made us feel like we were traveling around town with the characters in his book. Terry’s book is well-written and will captivate your interest to the final chapter.

The last book I want to talk about has not been published yet. Our good friend Bruce Olsen told us that when his sons Todd and Craig were young he would make up bedtime stories for them. He put one of the stories to paper. We loved Journey to the Pumpkin River. Look for it to be published some day.

It’s Called Love

A few weeks ago Corey was home for a short visit but extended his stay to help Mark care for me while I was so sick. We spent a lot of quality time together and he happened to be here when my Wednesday night girlfriends came to visit. Corey has a beautifully written blog of his own and in one of his posts he described perfectly what our Wednesday nights are all about so I asked him if I could share that post on my blog and he said yes.

It's Called Love

Earlier tonight, much like they’ve done on most other Wednesday nights since ALS bound my sweet mother to a wheelchair, three of her best friends journeyed to my parents’ condo from the far side of town for a visit. They used to hike and jog and throw outrageous backyard dinner parties together, did the four of them, but now, because my mom can’t do much else, they mostly just sit around my parents’ dining room table keeping one another company. Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they cry, but always, without fail, they show my mom and dad a rare and dazzling and inexplicable kind of love that blurs the line between friends and family and makes me wonder how we got so damn lucky to know so many of these kinds of people.

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”

A. A. Milne