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Good friends are such a treasure. The older you get, the more of a treasure you realize a true friend is, right?! Life can be really hard and when you find a friend that sticks with you through some of your ugliest days, it is such a gift. I am so blessed to be surrounded by many friends like this. But I have one friend in particular who has walked through a lot of life with me and her friendship has been such a gift.

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Julie and I met in high school. We found out we were both going to be attending K-State and decided to be roommates. That was the beginning of such a precious friendship. And let me tell you, we have done a lot of life together since then. College, boyfriends, leading our first Bible study together, graduations, standing next to each other in our weddings, teaching, babies, PICU visits, NICU visits, Cora’s funeral, adoption, surgeries, BSF, cheering each other on through speaking events, leading more Bible studies together, lots of phone calls and texts, late night coffee and grocery runs, birthday parties, play dates…and so much more fun in between.


The past few years she has been the friend that lives closest to me…which is a big deal when you live in the country. During the summers we spent lots of time going back and forth between our houses for play dates. Our schedules were similar and I could call her at the last minute to hang out or if I needed someone to watch my kids. I knew she wouldn’t care if she came over and my kids were still in their pajamas or my house was a mess. And we we often would end our girl’s nights by picking up a few groceries or supplies for a birthday party because you just have to do those things when you are already in town…country problems.


The fun thing about doing life together for so long is that our kids have become really good friends. Really good friends. It has been the sweetest thing to watch. Levi is actually convinced that Julie’s kids are his cousins. Don’t try to tell him otherwise.


We have two kids that are very similar in personality. In case you need a hint, they are the littlest two. Haha. When I told the boys that the Johnsons were moving they were so sad. Almost as sad as their mama. Levi said, “But mom, I will NEVER see them!”. I know the feeling, buddy.


I had to say goodbye to Julie a few weeks ago as she left with her sweet family for a new adventure in Colorado. I had been dreading that day for weeks. This girl really knows me…and still likes me, she loves my kids like her own, she makes me laugh, and most importantly she is always challenging me to keep my eyes on Jesus. She and her family are an example to so many as they follow hard after Jesus even if it means doing something that is uncomfortable. I love that about them.

So the past few weeks we’ve all been pretty sad. I think the hardest thing is letting go of the fact that we won’t be “doing life” together anymore. I know Julie and I will always be friends but knowing that your kids will no longer be growing up together is hard. Honestly I’ve wanted to just sit around and pout about the whole thing. And some days I have. But I was thinking about what a gift even these past five years of being moms together have been. I’ve loved having a friend who lives so close and is in the same stage of life as me. I’ve loved the play dates and coffee dates. I’ve loved doing Bible studies together and leading Bible studies together. I’ve loved that we’ve been able to be there for each other through some really hard things and cheer each other on through some really great things. We have both grown and changed a lot. Our time together has been a really good gift. And for that, I am so grateful. God has filled my life with good things and one of those good things is my friendship with Julie. Our friendship will continue but life is going to look a little different now…but I can be confident that HE will keep filling me up!

He fills my life with good things!

Psalm 103:5

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  • Leiah - Nearly crying here. I feel for you! I moved 7 years ago to a new continent. It is very hard to make new friends. You know your friends are still your friends, but in daily life, you really miss them. *hugs*ReplyCancel


  • Michelle from Australia - Jess, you ‘introduced’ me to Julie when you asked for prayers for yet to be born Calla. And I feel Blessed to have been able to follow Julie’s journey since. I even once called on her to bake a cake for you 🙂

    My best friend and her husband moved to San Francisco 3 years ago. Which is a long way considering I live in Australia! But I’ve been to visit 3 times, she’s been here a few times and we make it work.

    I’m sorry you are missing your wonderful friend. But I hope and pray that Julie’s family will love their time in Colorado.

    God Bless both The Macs and The Johnsons xxReplyCancel


  • Melissa Joy - I love seeing glimpses of the sweet sisterhood & friendship you share with Julie (and your families together). Beautiful!
    We had a similar parting with our dearest friends (our kids thought they were cousins too!) two years ago, but we are so thankful it is only a 7+ hour drive between our houses, so we can still make it work once or twice a year to keep the bonds as best we can. But oh! saying goodbye is the worst. And the distance IS hard. (((hugs)))ReplyCancel


  • Toni :0) - I, too, found Julie through you to pray for Calla. I was so surprised they were moving but boy did God have his hand all over it! Thankfully FB and hopefully a yearly visit or two will continue to keep you each close to each other. Skype can be a wonderful thing as well! Friends are such a blessing!ReplyCancel


  • creole wisdom - Oh! What a sweet entry and tribute to your sweet friend. I remember chatting briefly with Julie at last year’s Hope Spoken and I could tell how much she loved you and what dear friends you are. Saying good-bye is hard, isn’t it!?ReplyCancel


  • Kristina - Made me sad to read! I believe her blog is how I found your blog. And now I follow both of you. 🙂 May God fill in those empty places that Julie leaves behind. God bless you both!ReplyCancel


Since I posted Jake’s six month photos I had to go back and look at all of my babies at six months…just for fun.



Cora :: 6 months

photos by Megan Duerksen


Levi :: 6 months

photos by Megan Duerksen


Griffin :: 6 months

photos by Megan Duerksen jake6months

Jake :: 6 months

photos by me

*    *    *    *    *

There were a few photos I took of Jake that reminded me so much of his big sister…

coraandjake2 coraandjake


Practically twins. I love that.

  • Michelle from Australia - Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and beautiful. Each one of them so very, very precious. Thank you for sharing Jess xxReplyCancel


  • andrea - So sweet…it’s beautiful to see the similarities and differences in each of them. 🙂ReplyCancel


  • ranee - Wow! Crazy how much they look alike…sweet sweet babies. 🙂ReplyCancel


  • Toni :0) - The similarities are uncanny. Beautiful children!ReplyCancel


  • Laura - Oh my goodness, what a blessing to see the similarities! All of those Mac babies are so beautiful. Hope you aren’t done having them. 😉ReplyCancel


  • Adrienne - I’ve followed your’s and Meg’s blogs for a long time. I even have two pillows made by Meg for Cora’s Playground. And I thought the same thing about Jake looking like Cora when you posted the other day. So special! You are a sweet mama with a precious family. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel


  • chrissi - such beautiful babies♥ReplyCancel


  • Jessica - Beautiful babies. Practically twins is right! I so look forward to your posts. 🙂ReplyCancel


  • Kimberly Dial - Oh the preciousness. Jake & Cora definitely look the most a like. Thanks for sharing your sweet babies.ReplyCancel


  • Deborah Pruden - There is so my joy in those little faces! Blessings to your beautiful family.


  • Jennifer Minor - Such cute, chunky babies!! LOVE it!! Thank you for sharing the comparison pics!! I can’t get over how much Jake looks like Cora. I agree, practically twins!!ReplyCancel


  • Rachel - Oh my goodness, they look so much alike! Both such beautiful babies. I’m so glad that you get to see a bit of Cora in your Jake. Such a wonderful reminder of your girl.
    You are one blessed mama!!ReplyCancel


  • Melissa Joy - Oh Jess, I love this. It brought immediate tears to my eyes, seeing all four of your sweet babies together at the top.
    And seeing pieces of Cora in her brothers is SO marvelous. I love how Griffin’s cheeks and eyes and hair and expressions give me chills, because that’s exactly what Cora looked like when I first started following your blog and praying for your family.
    Thank you for sharing your precious sweethearts with us today!ReplyCancel


  • kelli - wow. thank you Jesus!ReplyCancel


  • Jenni - Wow! All of your children looks like siblings! But Jake and Cora, my goodness they look so much a like. What a sweet little blessing!ReplyCancel


  • Megan - When you posted his first post of his 6mo pics I thought that bottom one looked SO much like Cora too. It makes my heart so happy that you can love and appreciate how similar they look. I imagine it must be heartbreaking on some level too but my goodness gracious … Those are four of the cutest faces ever!!!ReplyCancel


  • Mary Ann - Jake is the winner for looking most like his sissy. They are both so beautiful as are Griffin and Levi. I love the smiles and the chubby kissable cheeks. I love the photos you took.ReplyCancel


  • Pamel - The resemblance between Cora and Jake is amazing!!!!ReplyCancel


All of my babies have had six month photos taken. I love having them to compare…especially since I have six month photos of Cora too. They are treasures. Well life was a little crazy when six months rolled around for Jakey. I asked a few people about taking photos…and debated…and then it was just easier to take some myself. So, these definitely aren’t professional and Jake was actually more like seven months, but they will still be a treasure. Let’s pretend Jake isn’t ten months old and almost walking already. You can remember back a few months with me to that time when he was six months old and just sat still and smiled at us. 🙂


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I had to take a few with all three boys. They were being so silly (because their crazy dad was behind me making them laugh). You can tell how much they love their little brother though…I love that!

  • Ashley - oh be still my heart! He is just simply adorable! I just want to cuddle with him! And I see so much of cora in him! Love these pictures, and they are fantastic, I’d never guess they weren’t professional 😉ReplyCancel


  • Micah - They look professional to me! You always do a great job, Jess! I would love to see all your kids at 6 months. I too see so much of Cora in Jake. What a gift from God!ReplyCancel


  • Michaela - You got some great shots! They are so precious!ReplyCancel


  • Bethany - I’m sorry but you can’t do that…talk about all your babies’ 6 month pictures and then not show them!!! I (kindly) demand a comparison of your four babies at 6 months:)ReplyCancel


  • Joanie - Love these … He looks so much like his daddy! Very cute boys!ReplyCancel


  • Lea - Oh, I could just squeeze him, love those bare feet. Sweet, sweet little boys!ReplyCancel


  • JennySue - These photos are gorgeous! I don’t care if you don’t consider them professional- I would hire you any day to take photos for my family. Your little Jake is SOOOO cute and I love the ones of all the boys together- precious.ReplyCancel


  • andrea - those look pretty professional to me!! 🙂 love them!ReplyCancel


  • Joyce - They could be professional! You have a lovely family.ReplyCancel


  • Leiah - Love the photos of “tiny.” He’s so loveable!ReplyCancel


  • Sarah Joy - Wow what a chubby baby. I always want a chubby baby 🙁 My first was a 34 week preemie. My middle full term not chunbby. Last 32week preemie. And emergency c section andReplyCancel


  • Jennifer Minor - Please, please, please show us comparison pics of all 4!! 🙂 Please. 🙂ReplyCancel


  • Toni :0) - Nothing but adorable and I see sooo much of Cora in him! Just a doll!ReplyCancel


  • Mary Ann - So adorable. I love the photos. You did a great job. Those boys are treasures for sure.ReplyCancel



Every spring we take a day trip to the Flint Hills with Joel’s family. It is a day we all look forward to.


We always eat lunch first but it never fails that the kids go straight from the car to the creek. They can hardly wait.


We round them all up again…and lunch is served. Joel and I looked at Levi and Griffin and laughed because we could imagine them as two old men sitting in their camping chairs. I hope they still invite us to come along even when they are old!


The kids look forward to the swimming and fishing. I look forward to my mother-in-law’s fried chicken. It is well worth the trip for the fried chicken alone.


It seems like we have about five minutes (if that!) to eat and then the kids are running back into the water…and the dads are chasing after them.




Joel’s dad brought Jake over to where everyone was swimming. He tried to let him stand in the water but he kept folding his legs because he wanted to be IN the water. Dipping his toes in the water just wasn’t cutting it for him.


So into the water he went. I think he thought it was the best day of his life.


He would have sat there all day watching the kids play. I tried to put his pacifier in his mouth because he kept eating rocks. It didn’t work because every time I looked the other way he pulled his pacifier out and put a rock in his mouth again. Sneaky Baby Tiny.


Besides the rock eating, I think splashing in the water was his favorite. 🙂


Everyone was impressed by Uncle Ben’s rock skipping abilities. IMG_4966new

There was lots of swimming and laughing and fun until…


…a snake was spotted in the water.

Yes. A snake.

If you ever encounter a poisonous snake you would want my brother-in-law, Bill, around. He found the snake, shot it, and scooped it out of the water to make sure it was dead. Don’t worry. Everyone was very safe…except the snake, obviously.


When the snake was pronounced dead everyone had to gather around to check it out. It was a copperhead snake. Isn’t that crazy? And scarey? We were so thankful we saw it before any of the kids did. Or before it saw the kids. So thankful. Each year something memorable happens at the Flint Hills. This year will always be remembered as the year of the snake.


Everyone was a little nervous to be swimming in the snake water so we all moved to the very shallow water for the rest of the day.


The kids spent the rest of the time catching minnows and tiny frogs.



Baby Tiny did a little more splashing. IMG_5031new

And then we said goodbye to the Flint Hills until next year.


Such a fun day!

I had to go back and look at the posts from years past. So cute. They grow too fast!

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  • Mary Ann - I love your posts about Flint Hills. Yes, the kids grow and grow and there’s more of them each year. The photos are missing your beautiful girl but she’s there in the wind and sky, the beauty of the earth and the sounds of laughter. What a lovely tradition that is to go their each Spring. I know those children will continue to do this trip their entire lives…it is part of them and they will treasure those memories for years and years to come and will take their own children there someday. Yup….they’ll probably invite Grandma Jess and Grandpa Joel!! LOLReplyCancel


  • Christi {Jealous Hands} - What a fun tradition!ReplyCancel


  • Toni :0) - Loved all the photos! Looks like a wonderful time was had by all. Baby Tiny sitting in the water is so adorable! Very scary about the snake but way to go Bill-big bad snake hunter!! HahaReplyCancel


  • Brady - Ahhhh…….snakes. One of the few things I don’t like about Kansas. And I didn’t even know we had copper heads! That IS scary! Glad you guys got it before it got you! The Flint Hills are SO wonderful. My grandparents lived in that area for several years and I remember many days crawling around creek beds on their farm. Such good memories for you and your kiddos!ReplyCancel


  • Leiah - How is it already this time of the year? It seems like it was just a few months ago that you posted about this. I love this tradition!ReplyCancel



Dear Jakey,

Nine months has been a game changer. You are officially on the move, into everything and wanting to be with your brothers at all times. Apparently you think you are a big boy now. I have no idea where my baby went!

Moving  II  You started crawling on March 19. We thought you might drag one leg like Levi did (so funny!) but that only lasted a few days. Now you use both legs and are fast. You can get anywhere and into anything. On April 10 you decided you could stand yourself up too. So now you are pulling up on everything and your brothers are hiding all their toys. You love to be outside swinging, in your walker, or sometimes crawling around if I am nearby to pull everything out of your mouth. You are busy, busy, busy.

Firsts  II  Besides crawling and standing you had your first Easter, first four wheeler ride, first time riding in the front of the grocery cart (I can’t carry your car seat anymore because you are too heavy!), first finger foods (you love cheerios and peas) and are finally sleeping through the night (you usually still wake up once around five in the morning but that is so much better so we are counting it…woo-hoo!).

Growing  II  The fact that you are growing is pretty obvious. 🙂  Baby Tiny isn’t tiny anymore. At your 9-month checkup you weighed in at twenty-three pounds. You have so many baby rolls and your legs are so squishy. I love a chunky baby. Your hair is growing over your ears so now I have to try and see how long I can hold off before your daddy makes you get your first haircut.

Just like with your sister and brothers, I can’t believe how fast time is flying by. I can’t wait to see what you learn next, but don’t grow too fast. Love you to the moon, sweet boy.

Love, Mama

Jake 9 month collage

  • Mary Ann - Jake is so darling. They grow up way to fast, right? He must bring so much joy to your family.ReplyCancel


  • Toni :0) - Good gravy is he just so adorable!!! I love healthy and chunky babies. I think they are just the best. So much more to love!!! I grew a big boy, he’s now sixteen and in a size 14 shoe and nearly 6 feet tall! LOLReplyCancel


  • Emily - his rolls are adorable! and his little smile just melts my heart! 🙂ReplyCancel


  • Brady - Geez Louise. Every time you post about this cutie it makes me start seriously considering a third child! And I truly thought that first picture was of Cora (based off the pictures you’ve posted of her, of course)–I had to do a double take!ReplyCancel


  • andrea - he looks just like joel! so cute.ReplyCancel


  • Liana - Love all the toe grabbing in the pics! And so wish I’d done monthly pics with my 3. What awesome memories!ReplyCancel