Marionah Hope Joens

Around 850 days of waiting. But today.. Today she is officially Marionah Hope Joens!  I can not even begin to explain all of my emotions today. But i think my strongest feeling is that of thankfulness. Mari has been a gift since the day she came into our home, and I am forever thankful that God allowed us to take care of Her. Today is the day when I can finally feel at peace calling her my daughter. She is first and foremost God’s and that lesson is drilled into my being, but now God has allowed me to take care of her in this place. Thank you all for the prayers and care during this whole process. Now I want to write to Mari 🙂
You are simply a gift from God. You have been Hope when I had none, light in my darkness, and the only Joy I was able to cling to. Being with you has given me life and purpose. God has already done mighty things through you and will continue to do so. One day you will understand the significance of your middle name and the person that poured Her life into you, you will carry Hope with you forever and you will honor that namesake. You will make mistakes and so will I, but we will carry each other through those mistakes and we will not let each other go. You love without bounds and you teach me how to love in that same way. Hope taught you all of these things, she set that tone in your life. I could not be more proud of you, nothing you can do can make me love you more and nothing you can do can make me love you less. My love for you has no bounds Mari. I’m so excited to be apart of your story and your life, God has knit us together and we will honor him all of our days. Let’s make the most of this adventure! I LOVE YOU.

    We give thanks that you created the world,

Though it turned from your ways.

We give thanks that you began a people

to bless this world,

though it did not always bless.

We give thanks, with greatest reverence,

for eh gift of your Son, Jesus Christ,

who indeed blessed the world.

Thanks be to you for the signs and glory of the Lamb of God.

In him, we are all adopted children of God.

We are brought into the divine redemption,

which now subsists in each embrace,

each extensions of love.

Each sacrament, each kiss and act of service.

May the adoption of this beloved child Marionah Hope Joens be blessed.

Almighty God, you adopted your people in Egypt,

and they came out into the wilderness to pitch a tent.

May we the family of this beloved child enjoy the presence of God

in the tent of life together as they look toward the pillar of fire by day –

a sign of your coming glorious redemption; and the pillar of cloud by night –

a sign of your presence amid our trials and darkness.

In Christ, the Son of God, There is neither adoptive nor natural parents and children.

We are all born again in the Spirit of God.

This Spirit redeems us with the substance of faith, hope, and love.

May this child be blessed by the mysterious presence, mercy, and grace of the Trinity.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


This first picture below is from the day when we picked Mari up from the hospital here in SF.


Marionah Hope Joens

Self Portrait




This is a picture of myself. But it’s more than that. The look on my face is how I feel inside the majority of the time, yet the majority of the time you see me I will have some sort of smile or laugh across my face.

I just finished reading this book called Scary Close. You should read it, it will most likely wreck your world a bit. But in the best possible way. The author addresses our desire and attempt to always put on a show for people.. To act for people so that we receive love and acceptance. I do this all the time. I’ve done it my whole life. It’s not always a bad thing, but it’s not always genuine. And if I can drop this act and still be loved, that will be genuine.

All of my closest friends and family tell me it’s ok to be myself around them and that I can be like this and make this face even when I’m with them.. AND I believe it. But it’s an internal struggle for me. I know there will be times of joy and laughter and it can be genuine. But the fake stuff sucks. Next time you see me faking it call me on it, but in a gentle way. Letting this wall down can be hard, and tiring, I’ve been building it for most of my life. But it must come down a bit.

We will all love a bit better when we learn to accept our flaws, our messes and our pains. And when drop the act.


Below are some nuggets from Scary Close.

“those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either”

“How can we be loved if we are always in hiding”

“what if part of God’s message to the world was you? The true and real you?”

“honesty is the soil intimacy grows in.”

Self Portrait

better days

If you looked in my house right now, you wouldn’t find any fall decorations, you wouldn’t smell a pumpkin candle burning through the house, and you wouldn’t see pumpkins neatly lined up along my steps. Fall is here, and november is almost gone, and I never even bought a pumpkin.

This month has been hard, life has been hard, and has thrown us in every direction. Right when we think we have our head above the water, we get plunged under again. But soon, I know we will be able to come up for air, maybe tomorrow even. But for now I am going to keep holding my breath as long as I can.

This blog post isn’t about the hard days this month, instead I want to remember the good days. These photos are from a walk we took a couple of months ago. It was a beautiful sunny day, we had a beautiful view of the ocean and the city, and Mari picked yellow flowers to match her yellow dress. It was a good day.

_IMG_2073 IMG_2076 IMG_2078 IMG_2080 IMG_2084 IMG_2202 IMG_2094 IMG_2099 IMG_2110 IMG_2143 IMG_2147 IMG_2174 IMG_2180

better days


Friendship is not defined by the numbers of years you’ve known each other, or how compatible you might be, it isn’t defined by how often you talk or how many inside jokes you share. Friendship is defined by the bond that holds two or more hearts together.
There were five of us. If you looked at us, you wouldn’t think that a deep friendship was the glue that held us together. We were all different, but we all fit together perfectly. The babe bartender who can mix the perfect cocktail and make you fall in love with her. But her gypsy heart longs for a place to call home and arms to hold her. The young successful Fashion merchandiser who is as giddy as a school girl, and as dramatic as teenager, but has taken New York city by the balls. The shy book editor who has all the style, grace and mystery of a young Diane Keaton. And the artsy project manager who would rather be figuring out life on a road trip than sitting in her cubical, she has the heart of a tom boy and a smile that could break you in pieces. Then there’s me, the stay at home Mom who has been married for almost ten years, who doesn’t like to let her walls down and will never admit how insecure she is. But she’ll always make you laugh.
 We’d hadn’t always been friends, some of us were closer than others and shared a longer history. Some of us had been roommates, and ended up becoming a lifeline for the other. But the real friendship started through emails. Alise started a group email to us while she was traveling to Boston for a prayer tour. She wrote to us in a time of uncertainty of life and doubt for the future. She was hoping Boston would help her find the answers.  When she wrote her…words came alive, and you wanted to keep reading. When she told stories you felt as if you were right there. She brought us inside her world, and although it was unstable and unclear, we wanted to be right there with her. This email began a series of emails from each of us. One by one we wrote about our messy lives and broken hearts. We wrote like no one would ever read them. We told secrets that we dared no one would ever hear. We became vulnerable and our faults were exposed. These emails have taken us through every stage of our lives, the good the bad, and the really ugly. I have read about hearts that were broken too many times and dreams that were conquered and lost. I have traveled with each one as they have started new lives in New York, San Diago and Vermont. They were there with me when I would cry about not being a mother. And they were there and cried with me when I became a mother. It was through these emails that a bond was built, and a lifelong friendship was created.
It had been months since some of us had seen each other, and almost a year since we’d all been in the same room. With Alise in San Diago, Aimee and Jen in New York, and Emily in Berkeley, there were no plans of us being together in the near or far future.
When I heard someone knock on my front door at 11:30pm I didn’t expect it to be her. I stood there in shock and couldn’t believe my eyes. Aimee was standing in front of me. I kept asking why she was here and if I was dreaming. She had just landed from new York York and she came to spend the weekend here, she came to surprise me.
I was definitely surprised.
The surprises didn’t end there.
We spent the next day catching up and drinking endless cups of coffee. she said that we had dinner plans that night with Emily. With the evening approaching we began to get ready, when there was a knock on the door I expected Emily to be there, but she wasn’t, instead it was Jen. I looked at her with almost as much shock as when I saw Aimee, I hugged her, so happy to see her and asked why she was here. I figured she was here for work and that it was just a coincidence. But she said she was here to have dinner with us, and that she flew in from New York to do so. I started putting two and two together, and while I was doing so, someone else was at the door. I turned around and in walked Alise, i yelled “You’re here too?! I knew it I knew it!” We hugged like we hadn’t seen each other in years. Not even a minute after that, in walks Emily, and right behind her is Casey with glasses of champagne for each of us. They all gathered around me, they lifted their champagne glasses and said “We came here to celebrate you and your birthday, we won’t be here for your real birthday next month, so we flew down last night and are spending the whole weekend with you, Happy 30th birthday Hope”. I couldn’t believe it, I stood there speechless with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I was overwhelmed with love, and the feeling of being loved. They came all the way here for me and had been planning it for months. Everyone was in on the surprise, and I had no idea.
 We went to a beautiful dinner at a beautiful restaurant. We ordered two bottles of Champagne and talked about all the things girls talk about on a girls night. After we couldn’t eat anymore we walked to a bar. The five blocks to the bar were walked in silence as we were each in our own moment of nostalgia. We were taking everything in, the way the light of the moon was bouncing off the tall buildings, the beeping horns of the taxis, the clacking of our heels on the dirty sidewalks, and the way the cool crisp air danced on our cheeks. It was the perfect SF night.
 The next morning we drank coffee in our pajamas till 11am. Casey made everyone waffles and Alise made bloody mary’s. We ate in the backyard along with our friends Josh and Alexis and my good friend Rachel who drove 2 hours just to join us for brunch, because she was in on the surprise too. The times sitting around sharing a meal together and talking for hours are always my favorite. And this weekend was full of them.
  I was in a state of awe and wonder those two days. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening and what these girls did for me. I remember looking at each one of them during dinner, trying to memorize their smiles, they’re laugh, the taste of the chocolate cream pie and the sound of the music that was playing. I wanted to remember this moment forever. I wanted to remember this weekend forever. I wanted to remember this feeling of being loved in a way I had never felt before. I felt full and overflowing. I felt as though I would burst and that this love would shoot out of my fingers and toes. I was humbled.
We might not always be friends, and some of us don’t not always get a long. But there is something deeper here, there is a realness and an honesty, there is love. And there are these emails. These emails that may have become more personal than our own diaries. I know they will continue to carry us through each season of our lives, through every heartbreak and joy. These emails and these stories are what made us, and they are what will keep us together.
Happy early birthday to me.
IMG_3073 IMG_3081 IMG_3108 IMG_3090IMG_3178

this moment counts

One of the greatest honors and joys in my life is being Mari’s mother. And I do not take for granted the ability I have to stay at home with her. I quit my job the day we got the call for her, and I haven’t looked back. Of course there are days I miss working, days when I miss being my own person, adult interaction and wearing high heels. But I treasure every moment I have with her, and I would rather sing the wheels on the bus a thousand times and have peanut butter in my hair, than to miss out on special moments with her everyday.

Being a stay at home Mom is wonderful, but not always easy. There is always a mess to clean up, dirty dishes, laundry overflowing, and toys EVERYWHERE. Some days I feel like the only words I speak are “No Mari, don’t do that, don’t touch, no yelling, no throwing fits”. There are nights when Casey gets home from work and I realize I haven’t even thought about dinner, much less looked in a mirror. Some days I am so overwhelmed, and I am left with the feeling that my best efforts are not really the best after all .

Today was that day. I had a hundred things on my to-do list, laundry that is overflowing, floors that desperately need to be mopped, and zero energy (and patience) to keep up with a toddler. So instead of putting on one of her favorite shows for her while I hurried around the house completing my tasks, I said “lets go for a walk”. So we did. We left the mess and the to-do list and we walked to our local coffee shop Andytown. I ordered the tea latte for myself and steamed milk for her. We sat at the table eating a pumpkin chocolate chip scone and had the best time drinking our “coffees”. She was so excited to have her very own coffee, she held onto it like it was a prized possession and  kept saying “Mari coffee, Mari coffee”.  We walked home hand in hand, pointing out shapes on the houses and colors on the flowers. She hummed and sang little songs the whole time, and said hello to everyone that passed by. These are the kind of moments that fill my heart with so much joy, the moment her face lit up when she realized I bought a coffee just for her, and how she couldn’t stop smiling because she felt like such a big girl sitting with Mama. Holding her hand as we walked, tears filled my eyes because I realized how blessed I am, for her, for this life, and for the honor of being a stay at home Mom (even with a messy house). I know that these moments, even the mundane ones, are the ones that count.

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

this moment counts

listen to the music

Last weekend San Francisco hosted one of its biggest annual events of the year, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park. It is a free 3 day music festival with over 100 musicians on 7 different stages. Its a pretty big deal. We went the first year we moved here, and we vowed to never go again. It was hot, there were thousands of people, most which were drunk and no where to sit or even walk, we were miserable. And we have kept our vow, except for this year. On the main stage one of our favorite musicians Ryan Adams was playing, so we knew we had to go. We went with our good friend Alexis and Mari’s best friend Levi. We sat up on a hill, far enough away from the thousands of people, and this time it was so much fun. The kids danced, laughed and had so much fun. And we had just as much watching them and listening to the beautiful music. These are the things that make San Francisco even more amazing.


















listen to the music

sail away

Throughout our whole relationship Casey has always loved to surprise me. Whether it be big or small, he loves to do it. He does it every chance he gets. He will surprise me in the funniest ways, like when our good friends decide the last minute to come for the weekend and I come home to find them hiding in my room. Or when we had been shopping for a camera and found the one I wanted,  he said it wasn’t the right one, and then one day he comes home with a bag of groceries and I find the camera box at the bottom of the grocery bag. If we go on a date, he will plan it all and not tell me a thing, but leave me with the exciting anticipation all night.

I love this about him, I love this about us. It is something small and maybe even silly, but for me it always makes that moment, whether big or small a little more special.

On Saturday we were sitting at the table eating indian take out for dinner. We were both exhausted from a physically and emotionally exhausting week. He asked me what we should do the next day, and I replied “oh probably the usual, go to church, rush back home to nap Mari, eat sandwiches for lunch. You’ll probably nap on the couch and we’ll just hang out because you love to relax on Sundays”. Because that’s usually what we always do. I don’t mind this scenario, I know he is the one who works all week so he needs a day of rest, a day to relax and not do anything. He laughed and said he had a better idea. He went into our bedroom and brought back one of my striped nautical shirts and said that I will need to wear that because tomorrow we are going sailing. Surprise number 10,568. Our friends Zak and Whitney have a sailboat and post the most beautiful photos of their sailing adventures around the bay. We have all talked many times about going sailing together, and Casey and Zak finally made it happen.

We went sailing, and it was the most beautiful and perfect day for it. The sun was hot and the bay was blue.We had so much fun and it was a perfect end to a long week. And the surprise made it that much more special.


Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 preset












sail away