My Dear Sweet Son,
You’ve had a whirlwind of a week. You’ve been hauled across three states, put to bed in an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar apartment. Honestly, I feel I’ve ripped you away from anyone who knows you well.
You’ll never know the Northwoods the way you could have, so there’s a couple things I want to tell you about the place where you were born. I’m very proud to have been born where I was (in East Michigan), and I hope someday you’ll recognize and appreciate the same about your own birthplace.
It took no time for women in our church and community to reach out to me and include me in dinners and Bachelor nights where we screamed at the television when the wrong woman walked away with a rose or the bachelor acted like an idiot (looking at you, Nick Viall). It’s not a show I ever cared about before, but being in a community of women became important to me.
I worked a few strange jobs, one in particular that I would only do all over again because it would lead me to First & Vine, the shop Kate and I owned together. This shop, and especially the relationship behind it, became a pillar in my life. While your dad followed his heart and passion in youth ministry, my heart lied in this shop and the creative outlet it gave me. In some ways, it saved me.
There were several times over these last five years when I didn’t feel adequate, when your dad didn’t feel adequate either. We sometimes felt unqualified to be married, let alone lead a ministry in Northwest Wisconsin and ten hours from family. We put pressure on ourselves to cover all our bases, and sometimes had to step back to prioritize what was most important to us.
But there were wonderful, life-changing times too. And those trumped the hard times by a mile. From games nights with friends to trips to Duluth, we found ways to recoup. We found friends who poured into us. Some of my fondest memories happened when the lines between friendship and family blurred so much that we were invited to sacred Christmas Eve days and birthdays. We were taken to family cabins. We were driven out on pontoons. We were thrown the most beautiful, fun, and thoughtful baby shower I’ve ever seen – something done just for you, sweet boy. We were invested in, believed in, and loved.
In our final weeks there, the Darby crew gave us an incredibly thoughtful gift. They surprised us with family pictures. I was floored. Anyone who knows me knows I love surprises. It’s my love language. I’ll also accept coffee and kind words. Write that down, buddy, for the day you break my kitchen window with a baseball. At the end of a busy Saturday at the shop, your dad carried you in to see me. Close behind, you were followed by Kate and Kristin Tischer, a friend who’s done photography for our shop on a few occasions. I had five minutes to throw on my cute outfit and head out the door.
And because Kate can read my mind, she had her extended family photobomb the final pictures back at the shop, knowing that I would appreciate that. They taught me so much about friendship, motherhood, and Jesus. They lead by example and love people with their whole hearts. They’re generous, kind, and forgiving. I grew more confident over these last five years, and a big part of that is due to them. I’m a better friend and mother because of them. More than once, Kate walked in our house and grabbed you without asking because you had just peed all over me or choshed all over the couch. She’d drop off dinner or invite me to run errands just because she sensed I was getting cabin fever and needed Caribou Coffee to get through the day. They’re family, Maddox. But you already knew that.
I think this is the moment Bentley told me we were all headed to a taco bar party:
Me pretending to be a Foss:
Three days before we moved out, we were thrown a going away party on one of my favorite properties on the lake. This time it was with all of the wonderful friends we’ve grown close to over the last five years; the people we’ve done life with, laughed with, cried with, and turned to. These girls see a need and make it disappear. I’m stepping out of the local churches in the Northwoods just before they (God willing) step into important leadership positions. These women are the church and Spooner is lucky to have them.
Maddie, the place where you were born has really become special for us. It’s where we chose to have you. The people who know you best and the ones you’re most familiar with are still living there. Our time in Spooner became a pivotal point in our lives and in our family. It’s become home. And while I’m nervous to embark on a new adventure – to leave our friends, the shop, and everything familiar and easy – I know that my last adventure led to one of the best decisions of my life.
Be brave, sweet boy. And remember where you came from. You are so loved.