“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”-Shakespeare.
Early in our dating years and marriage, Jon and I discovered we had an affinity—and talent—to gather loved ones. It makes sense, given we met in a place about hosting, gathering, and serving. We even started our own small-time catering gig to help save for our wedding someday. That is a story for another day.
We wanted our guests to leave feeling loved through thoughtfully prepared/served food and drink, through the endless laughter, meaningful conversations shared, and the memories made. I could write a book on all the gatherings we have hosted over the years. A lifetime of memories for sure.
At times—most often for Christmas gatherings or birthday celebrations—we wanted to send our guests home with a memory.
Usually, it was a handmade ornament—to remember our time together. One year Jon and I stayed up into the wee hours tying little bells to jute, creating terra cotta bell ornaments we made.
Over the years, our kids have adopted the same love for welcoming others into our home, especially during the season of hospitality. They love writing notes, making gifts to share with, setting the table, and baking and cooking their favorite holiday foods for those who enter our home. They did the same for Jon and me this year. Read more here.
That’s been true of life lately, too. Minus the welcoming others—for obvious reasons.
There has been deep sorrow—dynamics, expectations—in an already sorrowful time, tied to our holiday celebrations these last few years.
But we offer it up, give it to God and ask Him to do with it what He Wills.
He wastes nothing. So we create.
The kids have been busy helping us design, create and curate items to offer at Shop at the House of Love and Laughter.
This Shop has been evolving for years. It all started with an Advent Devotional Sophia and I wrote in 2019 as she was healing from an unpleasant experience in her early college days surrounding her hearing loss.
In 2020, as we were healing from the months of supporting and navigating Jon’s diagnosis and first surgery that rocked our world, we slowly added more items to our Shop. More was planned to be added in the fall, but with treatment, we had to postpone and focus all energy on Jon’s brain cancer journey.
In May 2021, it was more apparent that Jon’s tumor was showing progression once. We made some shirts for the “Go Grey in May Campaign” to bring awareness and inspire others to Jon’s courageous journey.
We are thrilled to send out many inspiring words and phrases for others to wear and show support for Jon and our family as we continue on this uncertain path of brain cancer.
We had plans to bring more items to the Christmas Shop last year. But our focus was solely on getting the two college kids acclimated to a new school (in a new state) while supporting Jon’s healing after an unexpected second tumor removal surgery in September and a stroke. Our focus was on rehab, managing the progression of a recurring and aggressive tumor, and keeping the girls at home on course with homeschool life.
It’s hard to believe it has been over a year since that second surgery and stroke. We have accumulated many hours of therapy and appointments for treatments on the car this year. No wonder both cars decided to act up in the last few months.
The girls spent time in dance and pottery last year. Creating and dancing was a gift to keep busy and away from all that has been happening here at home.
After a slow and restful summer, we decided to add new items created and designed by each family member with something that has impacted and inspired our lives. We even had a pop-up shop at AbbeyFest.
I won’t share all the sacred pieces of what motivates and tugs at my children’s hearts. Just know as they have spent time planning, rolling, crafting, and publishing things for our Shop, they have done this with their dad in mind and all of the little ways brain cancer and stroke healing have touched our lives and others.
As a birthday gift to Jon to show him love and support in September, we opened and expanded offerings in the Shop.
We wanted to show him that our work would be directed at helping to support our family—even in the smallest of ways—when he could not.
It is our offering —this Shop is created out of love with laughter.
The kids know Jon has worked tirelessly, and he does so without much complaining and is always as optimistic as ever.
So they were inspired to work for him and our family.
The Shop is a labor of love with a spirit of humor. We are the House of Love and Laughter.
While we would love to invite everyone who has been praying for us or supporting us these last two and a half years, we know we cannot.
We deeply miss hosting and gathering all the ways we are used to doing in our home over the years.
Just as Jon and I always wanted guests to leave our home feeling loved and having had a few extra laughs, we hope you feel the same love with the items created for our Shop.
Our Shop is a reminder of our desire to make others feel loved. We are grateful for the love and support you have shown us thus far.
It is fitting that Christmas Ornaments are included in the newest additions to the Shop. We are excited to share them with you. My girls have worked these last few weeks tirelessly on shop items while Jon and I have been driving to appointments to complete another round of intense treatment in hopes of stopping the progression we have been seeing these last several months.
We won’t know until December what effect this treatment had on the tumor or if aggressive brain cancer is trying to outsmart treatments.
But progression or not, it cannot outsmart God’s plan for Jon and our life.
So we trust.
We rest in Him.
We use our gifts as an offering to Him.
We share with the world in a way that will remind you that you are loved.
“As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” -1 Peter 4:10