The Weekender
Good Friday Edition

Sunrise - Christ is Risen!

Today is Good Friday which is a big day in our household so I decided to write a Good Friday version of The Weekender to commemorate this very special day.

Every year on Good Friday our church does a service where 7 different people share their testimony inspired by the last 7 words Jesus shared on the cross. It is by far my favorite church service of the year. I thought I would do a post loosely inspired by this. Mine will not be full stories, but little snippets of how these words would speak to me today based on what God has been showing me lately in my life.

1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” An innocent man on a cross, with criminals on either side of him. He has been denied and deserted by those closest to Him. And then there’s us, He’s on the cross because of me too. And in the midst of His most extreme physical suffering, He lives out love and forgiveness. Until the very end, until His last breath. But most days, I live out judgement. That’s what I’ve been learning lately. And while His words are filled with love, mine can often be filled with offense. That has been my prayer these last few days. That my words would be marked by love, not judgement.

2. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” If I am being honest, I often fear death. My own or those very near and dear to me. And now that I’m a mother, it’s even stronger. But this verse disarms the power of my fear. Today, if I were to die, I would be with my Creator in Paradise. Jesus’ death and resurrection gives me that hope and assurance. Without Him, I could be crippled by this fear. But God has been reminding me, there is nothing in this life I need but Him.

3. “Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.” Reading these words as a mother now is so different. I can now see a glimpse of the agony Mary must have felt watching her son be mocked, betrayed and suffer in such severe ways. But she knew. This was God’s plan. It didn’t make it easier or less painful for her. As much as I want to protect Rose and craft the perfect plan for her life, I can’t. God is sovereign. His ways or not my ways. He has the perfect plan for her life. I know there are days ahead that I am going to hurt seeing my baby hurt. There are days now that I do, in small ways. But I try to keep reminding myself that she is in good hands because she is in His hands. My hands will fail her, but His never will.

4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I uttered these words once. I can recall the moment I opened the door to doubt and it took a foothold in my heart. I sat on Vitaliy’s lap in the hallway of a hospital in Ukraine. We had already lost Vitaliy’s parents and little brother and his two sisters were in critical condition in the hospital. And one of them, his sister Tanya, looked as if she was going to lose the battle. I saw nothing good around us and I began to doubt His faithfulness. That little seed of doubt grew in my heart for 7 years. But God never let go of me. He never turned His back on me even when I thought the worst of Him. Until one day, He finally broke through my hard heart and reminded me of who He is and who I am. And He did it with so much love and grace. I was wrong about Him, all those years. His faithfulness never ended, nor did His love. And nothing demonstrates that better than this moment in Jesus’ life. When He died in my place. What love is that! While I wanted to reject this portion of God’s story for my life, Jesus walked faithfully through His story on the cross.

5. “I thirst.” Jesus was fully God, but He was fully human too. This word speaks to His humanity. I have never felt more human, more incapable and physically weak since becoming a mother. My body fails me every day. I haven’t slept 8 hours straight in more than a year. My baby is just not one who sleeps through the night. I have agonized over this. Cried over this. And prayed over this more than most things. It broke me. And I am so thankful it did. Because at my breaking point, came surrender. As I realized my weakness, I was reminded of His strength. In me, and around me, and in spite of me. All I need is Him. For my thirst, for my strength, for my salvation, for everything!

6. “It is finished.” These are the craziest words of all. Crazy! It is finished – He accomplished what He came to do. The cross didn’t just happen to Him. He chose it! He willed it! He was in control. He came to do this very thing and He did it. His job is now done, He says. This is the best news of today. I’m convinced this has to be the reason why it’s called Good Friday. Because what can be good about a man dying on a cross? It seems so dark and horrid. But it’s so good for you and me! Because He took our place. My sin should result in death and eternal separation from my heavenly Father, but…BUT JESUS. He took on my penalty and sentencing and His death let me go free.

7. “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” I was a Christian during those 7 years of doubt I mentioned earlier. The journey of a Christian doesn’t mean perfection. And it’s definitely not all fairytale, like I originally thought. And if I’m being totally honest, most days I feel like I would prefer staying here on earth than going to heaven to be with Him. There are a lot of things I like down here! But that’s not my hope and prayer. In reality, I know I’m missing out. As I read God’s word and His promises, I can see that I’m missing out on so many blessings that He’s already given to me. Like I’m sitting on a treasure chest of blessings, been given the key, and yet, I choose most days not to open it. Paul said, to live is Christ and to die is gain. To die is gain! The more I get to know Him, the more I start to believe those words, the more I long to be with Him.

I am praying for you and for me, that we would accept and enjoy this amazing gift only found in Jesus. I hope you all have a wonderful and special Easter weekend.

2016 Spring Bucket List


This Sunday is the first day of Spring! Since having Rose, life seems to be passing by even faster than before.

When we first started our business, our work/life balance was definitely tipped more towards the work side. But we eventually reached a point of burnout and now we are much more intentional about taking time to play. I don’t know about you, but when I have a free day I’m often sitting around trying to think of something to do. And this usually ends up wasting valuable free time. I started writing seasonal bucket lists as a way to prepare ahead of time so we can hit the ground running on our days off. We can check the weather and our energy levels and just pick one of the items on our list. I think it also helps to fully embrace then season we’re in and make the most of our days together. With all that being said, here’s my Spring Bucket List.

2016 Spring Bucket List

1. Plant our garden seedlings to prepare for a summer harvest.

2. Watch Rose attempt her first Easter egg hunt.

3. Travel to Portland to see grandma….and eat donuts!

4. Clean up the backyard and put up stringed lights to prepare for BBQ season.

5. Picnic in San Francisco at a park we’ve never been to before.

6. Research local farms and find out where you can purchase raw dairy products.

7. Host a Giants Home Opener party.

8. Celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with intention…and rest!

9. Family Field Trip to hike the Twin Peaks Summit.

10. Go antiquing with mom in a small California town.

11. Schedule a Saturday morning girls’ brunch with friends.

12. Spend a day in the city with Vitaliy doing the walking tour Amy told us about.

13. Host a playdate.

14. Shop the local farmer’s market and cook with seasonal fruits and veggies.

15. Grab lunch at Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall, on Tomales Bay.

Am I missing anything? Any tips for my bucket list items? What are your plans for this Spring season? Leave me a note – I’d love to hear from you!

For inspiration, you can also check out our last year’s summer bucket list.

The Weekender

It’s Friday! I’m currently writing while watching my daughter dance to worship music. This girl loves to dance! She’s got rhythm and regardless of the genre, she is ready to drop it like it’s hot.

So, now that you’ve got a peek into my current moment, let’s get to the latest installment of The Weekender.
Tesseme’s: We are currently on Day 34 of our Whole 66. There are days that are harder than others, but I’m so happy we made the commitment. Actually, I’m happy I shared it publicly or I might have quit yesterday. When we did our first Whole 30 over a year ago, I survived because of apples and almond butter. This time around I’m surviving because of Tesseme’s Buffalo Sauce. Their Lemon Garlic dressing is killer too. Don’t let their ketchup trick you though, I was highly disappointed. If you are doing a Whole 30 and like spicy, go buy the two pack of their Buffalo Sauce now and thank me later!

Classical Stretch: I am a HUGE Tracy Anderson workout fan. Huge! I did her Metamorphosis program prior to getting pregnant with Rose. Then I did her pregnancy series when a became pregnant. And I’ve tried and tried to go back to the Metamorphosis, but I just can’t seem to make it happen. I don’t have enough strength yet and I don’t have a full hour to commit to working out. Then a couple weekends ago, I stumbled upon Miranda Esmond White’s Classical Stretch workouts on PBS. I know, I know! I’m officially an old lady watching infomercials on PBS. But the research was fascinating and convincing! It reminds me a lot of Yoga which is my other favorite workout, combining stretch and strengthening. And it’s a 20 minute workout! I much prefer working out everyday to get my blood pumping and my energy ignited and Miranda’s workouts do just that. I’ve even got my mom and Vitaliy to join me a few times. The video itself is a bit dated, but the workouts are great.

Date Night: We had a mini date last night after putting Rose to bed. Catching up after a busy week, eating dried fruit and drinking hot tea (we seriously are 80 years old!) and ending the night with the Warriors game. But I’m actually so excited for our double date happening on Saturday night with another couple from our church. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been on a double date and I can’t wait to get to know and learn from this seasoned couple.

Kendal Marie Photography: We had the pleasure of doing a one-on-one mentorship last year with Kendal from Kendal Marie Photography. It was such a great experience! First off, Kendal is the sweetest person! And I am so thankful to now call her my friend. But I also learned so much from the experience. Including the fact that we really enjoy teaching and mentoring, and more importantly, encouraging. We’re hoping to start implementing more of that into Pictilio and possibly even offering future one-on-one mentoring sessions, in case anyone else is interested. I was so excited when Kendal hired us to photograph her headshots! This girl is beautiful inside and out and her clients are lucky to have her.

Design For Mankind: There is a lot of noise out there, but Erin Loechner is not a part of the noise, she is a voice. And one worth listening to! Her writing is impeccable and filled with purpose and, most importantly, with love. If she writes about mothering, you never feel like less of a mother. You leave feeling inspired and enough. If she writes about marriage, you don’t leave feeling like yours is less than. You leave feeling understood. I cannot wait for her book to come out! I don’t even know what it’s about, but I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I will soak in every word. On top of all those topics, she also manages to openly share pieces of her life while including a product review in the process. And her opinion can be trusted because you know she is a truth teller. I now have her to thank for the best water purifier, my new favorite pajamas, and a favorite salad recipe! Design For Mankind is by far my favorite blog and I hope you enjoy it now too.

Ok, we’ve now moved onto dancing to Adele! And on that note, happy weekend! I hope yours is filled with adventure and rest.

San Francisco portraits and headshots