An Epic Reunion

Hold on to your hats, folks, this is going to be a LONG post.  If ever there was an event difficult to capture in words, it would be the reunion I enjoyed this past weekend.  I spent a gap year in college touring with Up With People and my amazing cast gathered in Santa Barbara over the long President’s Day weekend for our nearly 33 year reunion!

For the unfortunate ones out there who have never experienced an encounter with Up With People, here’s a little background…

What would become known as UWP began in the mid-sixties through regional “Sing Out” performances linked to the Moral Re-armament movement (MRA).  By 1968, J. Blanton Belk took leadership and separated from the MRA to create a non-profit, cross-cultural educational organization for the purpose of inspiring young people to make a difference in the world and build bridges of communication between people of all nations through music and community service.  By the time I began my year in 1986, UWP had grown in popularity with 5 casts of 120 students each criss-crossing the world every year performing anywhere from venues in rural communities to high profile appearances like the Super Bowl Halftime!

My cast was made up of 120+ students and staff who came from 35 U.S. States, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Mexico, Panama, Canada, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland, what was West Germany at the time, Holland, Belgium and Bermuda! (Did I leave anyone out?  That’s me on the top row about a third of the way in from the left)

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Some of the highlights for my cast included performing on TV at the World Cycling Championships, touring the Olympic Village in Colorado Springs, performing special corporate shows in Las Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix, participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in Canada with Shari Lewis (you know, the Lamb Chop lady) and Pat & Debby Boone, performing for the first lady (Nancy Reagan) and touring the White House, working at the Special Olympics in Connecticut, a meet and greet with singer Natalie Cole and the hundreds of school assemblies and classroom visits we had with children all over the world! 😉

I pulled out my UWP photo albums and memorabilia in preparation for the reunion and discovered this forgotten letter I wrote to my supporters when I returned from my tour.  It’s kind of interesting to listen to my 21 year old self try to communicate the impact the experience had on me…

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Fast forward 32 1/2 years…

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Longtime Rudy’s Beat readers will remember my accounts of our 25th Anniversary in 2011 and our 30th in 2016.

This time around we had over 50 (!) cast mates, a couple of spouses and a handful of the next generation descend upon our small town to “Raise A Ruckus” (*show tune reference) for 4 days in chilly, breezy Santa Barbara.

The weekend began with a group headed to Costco to stock up on food and beverages…5 carts and $1500 later…   IMG_2547

Shortly after this picture was taken, I got a text from a friend of mine who works at Costco that read “I just saw a bunch of people who love you so much at Costco!”.  Ha Ha  I am NOT surprised that random small world connection was made.  “Up, up with people.  You meet ’em wherever you go.” (*another show tune reference)

The excitement for me built to a fever pitch on Friday as I anticipated seeing everyone that night AND having the boys home for a couple of days!!!!  YAY!!!

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The MOHD Squad was thrilled to have the boys home to share in this special weekend!!!

I heard from several people prior to the reunion that they were nervous about coming…for some it was rooted in the insecurities that come with not having seen this group in so long, for many it was anxiety about seeing me.  I totally get it and prayed that any fear or concern people were bringing with them would be wiped away completely once we were together and that is CERTAINLY what happened…

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IMG_2630Saturday was another full day of hanging out.  The cast assembled mid-afternoon for a circle time centered on ME and extending love and support to my family.  Much to my surprise “TrishFest 2019” was unveiled in full!!  Ha Ha  Although it was very surreal and most humbling to have a significant amount of time focused on me, I felt the enormous love and embraced it all with much gratitude.

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Some of the “TrishFest” swag!

 

 

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We dusted off the old songbook and serenaded each other with our show’s inspiring final anthem…(the kids brought their instruments and jumped in to accompany us with no run through!  I LOVE that!!!)

Oh, and just in case you think the singing ended there…think again!

(Thank you Charlene, Deanna and ALL for putting yourselves out there…these videos definitely capture the thoughtful and fun spirit of this group)

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A visual reminder of all the love!!

The party continued well into the night with entertainment provided by Wilson, Max, J.D., our family friend Jeremy and a handful of others on shaker eggs and tambourines! 🙂

Coast Community Church nearly doubled in size on Sunday morning with the inclusion of the visiting Uppies!  How precious is was for our family to share our church community with our out of town friends and vice versa…it was a magical morning of worship and friendship!

The fun continued throughout the day on Sunday and we all enjoyed dinner prepared by this capable crew:

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Thanks kids!

Honestly, the greatest joy for me throughout the weekend was sitting back and watching small groups gather all over the house and backyard at any given time literally soaking each other up…there was so much catching up to do and laughter to be shared!  Everyone really took advantage of every second!

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Catching up with the offspring!

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The two drummers in my life!

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IMG_2642I was sharing all about the reunion with a friend and she stopped me mid-sentence and pointed out that I used the word “freedom” several times in my description of the weekend and how poignant it is that I’d feel so free while being so restricted physically.  I love that observation.  It’s so true!  Without the typical distractions of daily living, I have the freedom to truly live in. the. moment. FULLY and boy, I sure did that all weekend.  I also experienced a refreshing freedom to speak bold words of encouragement into the lives of my friends.  Not that I haven’t said encouraging things in the past but it hit me this weekend how many thousands of opportunities I missed out on in my lifetime to speak into the lives of others because I was shy or didn’t want to intrude on a person’s personal life or was too busy to sit and really observe what was going on around me.  There were no such obstacles this weekend and it was a rich, rich time for me emotionally.  In the same way, I felt the freedom to communicate my love but it didn’t feel sad like “this is the last time I’m gonna get to say it so I’ll say it” kind of thing…just a real genuine, “grab your face and look you in the eye” kind of thing.  Of course, this is an easy crowd to encourage and love but there is a precious shift in perspective, nonetheless, when you live your emotional life knowing you have absolutely nothing to lose.

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I LOVE that this moment was captured. 😉

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Cast C ’86-’87 (in part)

So now what?  I kind of feel like 21 year old Trish after the tour ended not knowing where to go from here…my heart is so full, my body is so tired, I’m sad to see all the social media posts of everyone headed home and I so wish I could go to our 35th in Scottsdale, AZ!  Who knows, maybe I will be able to.  😉

I asked Rolf what his take away was from the weekend and he said it was good for he and the kids to see me loved so well and how touched he is by the extravagance of Cast C!  So sweet.

Well Cast C, you heard from the big guy himself!  You are a loving and an extravagant group and we thank you for lavishing all that goodness on us!  As I said in our circle time, the circumstances suck and I would give anything for things to be different but I am tremendously grateful for the time and presence of mind to be able to say “I love you and I’m so grateful for the remarkable history we share”.

P.S. I was so busy “living in the moment” I didn’t take any pictures this weekend so thank you all for the pictures and videos you shared with me…I give you photo and video credit! 😉

Love and MORE love, Trish

 

 

 

An Ugly Truth

I recognize I ended my last post boasting about how gracefully I’m letting go of certain things in the ALS process and today’s post is about the not-so-very graceful subject of jealousy…it’s a contradiction, I know, but both are true…

Jealousy actually isn’t something I struggled with in my life in general…especially in recent years.  I’ve certainly had my share of insecurities but those insecurities rarely manifested in being jealous of others which is why I’m surprised by the jealousy I’m experiencing now.  It isn’t a constant feeling but is just under the surface and rears it’s ugly head from time to time…it surfaces when I’m out and about and see able bodied people busily going about their day without having to think twice about how they’re going to navigate their day…it surfaces when I swipe through my FB feed and see all the fun life being lived…it even surfaced this past week as I watched all the Kay and Zales Valentines commercials on tv wishing I could build my “Silver By Trish” business and fulfill by dreams of being the next “Tiffany and Co”.  Ha Ha Ha  Did you catch that?  I’m jealous of Kay and Zales Jewelers?!?!  That’s silly!

At times, though, it’s also more personal…I’m jealous of my friends who are living out or anticipating life transitions that I long to experience, I’m jealous of those I watch seemingly making all the “wrong” choices in life and yet are also seemingly thriving (OUCH!  Super judgmental, I know!!  Forgive me!) and I’m jealous of Rolf and the unique relationship he’ll have with our children in my absence.  Eew!  I don’t like the way any of that sounds but it’s good to speak honestly because I’m learning that jealousy loses a good bit of it’s power when it’s exposed.  And just in case you fall into any of the categories listed above, DON’T FRET, because I’m also learning that my being jealous has NOTHING to do with the object of my jealousy and EVERYTHING to do with… me.  It’s my burden to work through and grow from!  Being jealous and bitter isn’t where I want to land but I am discovering some beautiful expressions of God’s mercy in the act of confronting and interacting with the dark feelings.

For example, the reason I’m jealous of Rolf also happens to be my deepest comfort in facing death!  How grateful I am that Rolf is a good dad, has a close relationship with our kids, communicates well with them and will be living life with our kids for us BOTH!!!  What a huge gift!!  God has also given me a gift in the area of music…especially as it relates to worship.  It’s no secret that leading worship is something I’ve cherished since I was a young adult and is the last remaining commitment on my weekly calendar.  With an amazing amount of practical support from my bandmates, I’ve been able to continue to lead worship at my church much longer than I thought possible.  My contributions are stripped down though…I’m no longer able to sing lead in most of our songs and I packed away my guitar for the last time this past week…I just don’t have the arm strength to keep up with any kind of tempo anymore.  What I can offer musically has been whittled down to a few harmony lines and a strike or two of the tambourine 🙂 and it’s clear that my season as a music maker and corporate worship leader is nearing it’s end.  I can feel it coming and it breaks my heart.

God’s mercy in all this for me is the kids.  God has allowed life to unfold in such a way that one of my greatest personal heartbreaks is being met with one of my greatest joys…the partnership I’ve had with my kids over the years in leading worship at our church is allowing me to pass the baton of leadership (figuratively and literally) to these precious souls that I know intimately, wholly trust and couldn’t be more inspired by!  Wow!  What. a. gift.  Instead of being jealous, I’m overjoyed!  I don’t put this in writing to put any kind of expectation on my children because their journey will be their own and I trust that…this is about me…in this moment…and how God is lovingly dulling the sharp pain of this transition through my kids.  It makes me chuckle, really, because it’s not like our kids’ involvement in music is something we orchestrated or pushed in our household…Rolf and I didn’t even invest in music lessons for our kids for heaven’s sake!!  I think music was just something Rolf and I valued through our different tastes in music and various expressions of appreciation and we invited the kids to enjoy it with us.  Once introduced, they took control of their own relationship with music and are already far more musically literate and gifted than me.  Combine that with a thirst for God and, wow, there’s power in that.

(The expression of Wilson’s heart means the most to me in this recent video…at 4:20 especially – sing it Wilson!)

(Max has the gift of making worship FUN…)

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(Olivia has a confidence in her expression through singing that inspires me…and how grateful I am that she can sing my soprano parts!)

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I praise God for entrusting these three to me and, in turn, I’m able to entrust something I cherish to them – without hesitation.  May God continue to reveal Himself through their pursuit of Him and in their offering of praise…individually and together!!!  🙂

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Back in November of 2017

 

 

 

 

It’s Officially Christmastime!

It’s officially Christmastime.  Yay!!  We were blessed with another family gathering over the weekend, this time in San Diego.  Rolf and I drove south on Thursday to visit some friends in Los Angeles and catch Wilson leading worship at an APU chapel, we then made our way to San Diego where we enjoyed some down time with Max on Friday.  By Saturday, Olivia and Wilson joined us in SD and we all got to attend Max’s choir Christmas concert…a perfect way to usher in December!  In the midst of all the family fun, Rolf made arrangements to surprise me with a mini reunion of my good friends and former co-workers at the restaurant we all gathered at 26 years ago for Rolf’s and my wedding rehearsal dinner!  What a sweet time of reminiscing, affirmation and prayer with old friends.

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Our first stop was a quick visit with Justin and Victoria Nelson…Moriah’s parents. It’s always a sacred time with these two!
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Rudy and Moriah in 2013.

Wilson has been a percussionist in the APU Liturgical Chapel Band since he was a sophomore and we’ve not attended any of his chapels in person so going to Thursday’s chapel was an extra-special treat.  Wilson has a love for hymns and it shows in his leading of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”! 🙂

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It was a blustery day in SD on Friday and the surf was wild but oh, so mesmerizing to watch!
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The leaning Christmas Tree of Ocean Beach!
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EL INDIO dinner with the Vans!!!!

Wilson, having never seen an eyelash curler before, asked Olivia what she was doing and so she demonstrated on him!  His eyelashes never looked better!!!!  Ha ha

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A family selfie on Shelter Island!
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Why?!? Why do they always end up in a headlock?
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Our mini reunion…The kids? A bit taller. The grown ups? A bit grayer. The friendships? So much sweeter!

PLNU’s Annual Cider Celebration was, once again, a blessed time filled with a variety of goofy and worshipful moments.  Max’s professor always includes really fascinating arrangements that leave the listener thinking…like this unique arrangement of “Silent Night”…

It’s tradition to close every concert with this benediction.  The camera work isn’t anything to look at so turn up the volume, sit back, close your eyes and receive the blessing that it holds for you.  😉

The VERY astute Rudy’s Beat reader will notice I’m in a new wheelchair.  My custom wheelchair was delivered last Wednesday just in time for our road trip.  It’s just like the loaner I was using in function but has much more comfy chair pads and fits my measurements perfectly.  I ended up sleeping in it two nights in the hotel because I can adjust my body position automatically as needed throughout the night…something that’s getting harder to do in bed by myself.  I’m very thankful for the comfort and function it gives me and I don’t take for granted the gift it is even though it’s bittersweet.  I catch glimpses of my silhouette in storefront windows all hunched over in a wheelchair and think “Who is that?…How did I get here?…I’m not the person people see at face value?” and yet it IS me…it’s part of the ever-changing definition of me.  A definition that’s hard to deny the more durable medical equipment I need and the more dependent on others I become…my mind, however, is slow to adjust to the transitions my body is making.  And so, I come home from a really fun and full weekend like this past weekend, surprised by how wiped out and completely useless (practically speaking) I am.  I have a couple of big events this week but mostly I’ll have time to rest up and hopefully regain a bit of energy.  You know, ‘kinda feel the need to listen to that blessing again…

Happy December Everybody…’wishing you fun and festive holiday prep in these few weeks leading up to Christmas!

 

Thankful

And just. like. that. our fun Thanksgiving weekend is over.  The boys left yesterday after church and arrived back to their campuses safely.  Olivia is pretty unmotivated to head back to school this morning after her week long break and I feel her pain…I don’t want her to go back either.  Ha Ha  But, then again, getting back to our normal routine isn’t a bad thing and we get to see the boys again this weekend so we shouldn’t complain!

Our long holiday weekend consisted of a lot of this…

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Bed snuggling and Christmas movie watching with Olivia and Co.!!!
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More snuggling while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
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And some MORE chilling in bed!!!

Although it was pretty tempting to stay in bed, we did manage to make it out of the house to celebrate Thanksgiving with good friends and the dear folks at the rescue mission…

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Homeless dogs get some love too!

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Enjoying the sounds of the “Geyling Trio”.

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Once again, there was magic in the air at the SBRM annual Thanksgiving feast…magic in the form of unconditional love, a strong sense of community and light-hearted fun.  The kids helped set the mood with their music in the courtyard with a varied playlist of classic rock ‘n roll, contemporary country, worship songs and what turned into impromptu sing-a-longs…at one point, the homeless guests waiting in line for lunch started singing along to the kids’ rendition of “Stand By Me” and it was a fun moment for the guests and residents and staff hanging out together.  Here’s a little sample of their sound…

I was sitting with one of the residents in the recovery program and we were handing out new socks to the homeless guests as they left the dining room after lunch.  One of the guests came up with one hand carrying a to-go box of food and his other hand was holding up his pants…he fumbled a bit trying to grab the socks we were offering him while not letting go of his pants or dropping his container of food.  The resident next to me said “Hey man, you need a belt?” to which the guest responded “Yeah man”.  Without a second thought, the resident stood up and took off his belt and handed it to the guest.  At first, the guest resisted saying “Oh, nah man!” but the resident insisted, “Take it man, it’s okay”.  The guest put his things down, quickly put the belt on and picked up his food and socks and some toiletries that were also being given away with a big smile of gratitude on his face.  My description doesn’t do it justice…but it was so powerful.  I just sat there quietly, watching this precious interaction unfold and selfishly soaking up the magic that filled the day.  So good!

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We also headed out to the movie theater, enjoyed the pretty decorations downtown…
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…got a jump start on our own holiday decorating…and cheered for a friend at his bball game…
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Our last outing was a picnic lunch with Rudy yesterday (the 25th) before the boys headed back to school.

I guess it can go without saying that is was also a weekend filled with much emotion.  My emotions are constantly just under the surface and it doesn’t take much to make me sob…I know it’s not a comfortable space for most to share with me but the reality is it’s hard to control once the tears start and it’s where I’m at…it’s honest.  Have you noticed how honesty can hurt so, so deeply and often requires effort to be worked through but is always infused with movement, life, transformation and the power to draw us closer?  There’s a gift to be excavated in those moments for sure.

So, the Christmas season is officially here and we look forward to an even longer break with the boys in just about 3 weeks!  Woo Hoo…the countdown is ON!  Happy Belated Thanksgiving dear friends…Thankful for you.

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Poor Harley, this is what she looks like when everybody leaves.

 

“We’re Family”

I was given the honor of sharing a charge with the graduates at the latest SBRM graduation a couple of weeks ago.  Sharing at the November graduation specifically had personal significance for me because Rolf, the big kids and I attended our first graduation in November of 2006 when Rolf interviewed for his current position as President.  That graduation was my first exposure to the work and people of the SBRM and as I sat with tears streaming down my face overwhelmed by the transparency and love that filled the church that evening, I knew our family needed to be a part of it.  Luckily, the search committee and board of directors felt the same way and Rolf began his SBRM employment two months later!!  He commuted between LA and Santa Barbara for 6 long months until our house in Los Angeles sold and we relocated the whole family the following July!  Our family’s relationship with the rescue mission was natural and casual from the very start…the kids related easily to the residents through football scrimmages in the parking lot and impromptu music sessions in the chapel and to the homeless guests at mealtimes and hanging out in the courtyard.  I may have shared this story before but I remember when the big kids were young, they were interviewed on a local radio show and the host asked the kids if they liked volunteering at the rescue mission.  There was an awkward radio silence until one of them said “no, we don’t volunteer there.”!!  Not hearing the response she expected, the host quickly changed the subject.  Afterward, I asked the kids what they were thinking…”why didn’t you answer her question?  You guys are there all the time!” .  The kids looked at me a little confused and said “but we aren’t volunteers, we’re family.”  Ah, yes, indeed.  That was a special season in the life of our young family.  I miss our weekly family dinners in the dining hall with the residents and guests as well as our drop in visits to see the women at the Bethel House.

The Rescue Mission is in the middle of a $10 million remodel…a capital campaign that Rolf and his team have been working hard on for the past few years.  Phase 1 of the remodel was recently completed and the administrative staff got to move into their new offices.  Olivia and I went over to help Rolf hang his pictures and unpack boxes.  It is a beautiful facility and will serve our community well for many decades to come.  I’m so proud of all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this project so far.  There is much work left to be done but there is light at the end of the tunnel and morale is high.  I admit I got overwhelmed touring the new building and seeing all the amazing potential for future ministry and programs.  I guess I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I was in this remodel project and how deeply I wish I could be a part of the great work that is going to fill the freshly painted halls of this very special space in the future.

Sharing words of encouragement to the graduates also allowed me the opportunity to share my genuine love for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission…the work done through it, the people that fill it and the God who empowers it to “rebuild broken lives”.  ‘Just to be clear, it isn’t a perfect place but it’s genuine in it’s intent for good and in it’s dependency on God and that is a powerful combination!!!

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The video of my charge was shared on the SBRM website so I’ve attached it below for the record. 😉  You’re welcome to listen to it if you have 12 minutes to spare.

Helicopter Parents

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Rolf and I enjoyed a gorgeous Saturday up in San Luis Obispo this weekend to watch Wilson compete in this year’s Ranger Challenge.  He has been a member of his ROTC battalion’s Ranger team every year since he was a freshman and it was a real treat to finally see him and his teammates in action.  We did, however, stick out like sore thumbs since these are not typically spectator events buuuut…..we didn’t care!  Ha Ha

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LTC Doyle caught a picture of Wilson being a beast while Rolf and I were in the background looking like dorks with our cameras fixated on our boy! 🙂  #helicopterparents
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Team work!
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Ok, I admit, in our excitement, Rolf and I might have gone a little overboard in our photo documentation…the quote of the day was by Wilson right after this picture was taken…”So, we’ll see you at the next station then?” Which is code for “You can move along now.” 🙂

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Each competition course is different but all consist of several timed stations that require the team to complete a task.  Yesterday’s stations were spaced along a 12 mile course that the participants marched with their 40lb rucksacks!  After 6 1/2 hours of continuous competition and ruck marching, the cadets had to complete an obstacle course that included the following…

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Over and under EACH rung!!
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To the top and back!

It was an impressive effort by all the cadets and Rolf and I were in awe of their determination and grit.  When all was said and done the Cal Poly SLO team had home base advantage and won the competition but Wilson’s team came in 2nd place! Woo Hoo

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So proud of you Wilson!
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And, while we’re at it, here’s an important PSA for ya!

The base we were on had a display of antique helicopters, army airplanes and trucks.  Rolf and I couldn’t help but think of Rudy the entire time we were there…he would have LOVED this outing…no crowds, lots of cool vehicles to explore & room to roam and, best of all, seeing Wilson!!

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April 2017

He is never far from our thoughts in all that we do, that’s for sure.

 

 

 

Public Appearances

The past couple of weeks have been fuller than normal for us in recent months and I’m paying for it now but it’s soooo worth it!  My limitations continue to be an adjustment for us all but we’re figuring it out, finding a sweet rhythm and learning to pace ourselves.  I’m grateful for the support of family and friends that help make the life we attempt to do possible.  Although I’m not as independent with the wheelchair as I hoped I’d be, I do enjoy outings more with it and am so grateful for the fun it allowed me to have this past week especially…

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Wilson came home last weekend and was able to join us for the SB Rescue Mission’s annual fundraising event out at Dos Pueblos Ranch…it was a beautiful afternoon..’so glad these two and Oma were with us.
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Last weekend was also DP’s homecoming…and Olivia’s debut as the Charger mascot!
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And how fun it was to crash Olivia’s homecoming photo shoot with her friends…

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A girl and her dad and Oma.
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Missing Max!

On Wednesday, our local Fellowship of Christian Athlete clubs participated in an annual city-wide outreach and, as a member of the student leadership team, Olivia shared part of her story.  Olivia does not typically share personal things publicly so the significance of her willingness to share was not lost on me and Rolf leading up to Wednesday…how very grateful I am that she chose to put herself out there…for her own heart health as well as those who got to hear her share.  Her story impacted me deeply and taught me something new.  Thank you Livy Jo.

Rolf and I drove down to San Diego on Thursday to watch Max perform on campus at a gathering called Musoffee (music and coffee)…

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Dinner with friends Andrew and Noelle before the show!

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It was so much fun watching him have a blast doing something he loves to do…

 

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An added bonus for me was the chance to connect with this sweet gal…a good high school friend from Indy who just “happened” to be in San Diego for a family celebration! So, so grateful for Annie’s friendship and the chance to give her a BIG SQUEEZE! God is good to me 😉

Grateful!