Today my oldest daughter leaves her teen years behind her, off in a land far away.

I figured that birthday would be a good opportunity to post some pictures of what’s going on with her over there in that Holy Land…A land that is “holy” for many reasons, but on a personal level it became such a holy place for my heart when I got to go there and do so many of the same things when I was close to the same age as Elle.

And I think it’s safe to say that it’s carved out a pretty large “holy” spot in her heart as well.

I’d love to have her do a little guest post to tell more about this experience but something tells me I shouldn’t hold my breath on that one so I’m going to write the snippets I know here to keep with our family record.

She has met so many people she loves and has learned and grown in so many ways.

I have loved the FaceTime opportunities we’ve had, and the things she’s shared with us over the last three and a half months in that place.

One of my favorite calls was when we got in a deeper discussion on the phone as I was trailing Lucy and a friend (who were chatting away in front of me) walking around a bay in California.  Elle was spilling out all the latest field trips, what she was learning in her classes, but most of all what she was learning from the people she is surrounded by there.  Professors and fellow students.  The discussions they’ve had and the lives they live, she’s learned so much from these good people she adores.

(These pics are from when she was in Tel Aviv….where I think she’s actually going to celebrate her birthday.)

I loved seeing these pictures at the Garden Tomb:

…a place I love so much.

I love that she found this wall under the center with my brother’s name right in the middle of it from when he was there:

(All of my siblings have been there…I think there are more of their names somewhere but I don’t see them in the picture.)

I love that she’s been to so many sacred spots.

…and so many Tels and places that have so many Bible stories surrounding them….and other places that I do not recognize and that don’t come with explanations, but I just love that she looks so happy!

(I took some of these pictures from random Instagram posts from kids there…so thanks to those who have posted!)

I love that she got to go to Greece (lucky girl!)

Usually they go to Egypt as a side-trip with this program, but for a few different reasons they chose Greece this time around.

…and she loved it.

She got to go to Petra (lucky girl x2)

She sent us a text one morning telling us all about how they got to be there at night with lanterns under the stars and someone was playing the flute and it was just one of the coolest nights.

Our friend who took care of her (along with his whole, awesome family) when she had her internship in London visits there for work a bunch and was able to take her and a bunch of friends to lunch one time.

(the same family we had just hung out with in NYC the week before)

Then it was on to Galilee.

She sent us this in the middle of our Bear Lake stint…

It looks so eerily similar to right where we were standing there at the lake when I got it.

She even sent me this:

Looks so much like our opening night music bonfire at the lake, but nope, it’s at Galilee with her group of students and professors.

Another phone conversation I loved with her was when I was walking around the isles of Costco when we just returned from summer and she was telling me all about how much she loves that beauty-place.

I think the rest of these are kind of random, but just figured I’d share.

 LOTS of school work mingled in with all the field trips.

That semester I was there was one of the most difficult in my whole college career and I don’t think it’s changed much since I was there.  They mean business I tell you!

Oh I do know this picture…she works with the Young Women in her branch over there and I think this is all of them.

 Looks like a pretty great group of girls.


Their “sabbath” is on Saturdays over there since that’s cultural and I think they spend most of their sabbath evenings out on this lawn overlooking the city with the sunset as a backdrop.

I love that very spot so much too.

She’s gonna miss that.  She’s been lamenting the fact that it’s all wrapping up this week.
So happy she’s been able to experience all that beauty, inside and out.
Ok, on to my TWENTY fav. things about this girl:
1) She won’t like that I’m doing these twenty things since she doesn’t like that much attention, but this is my b-day card to you, elle belle so forgive me 🙂
2) She knows how to live in the moment.  She thinks everything she’s in the middle of happens to be the best thing that ever hit the world and never wants it to end.
3) She has confident humility…a juxtaposition of words but they just fit her.
4)  She takes herself lightly and has thick skin.
5)  Every time I hear her talking on FaceTime with her sisters it just makes me happy.  She asks the best questions and makes each of them feel like a million bucks.
6)  She calls me mama.
7)  She knows how to learn. Not only does she know what to ask to help her understand, but she knows how to listen.
8)  There aren’t many adventures she’s too afraid to take.
9)  She’s not afraid of taking on a challenge either.  All kinds of them.
10)  She owns her height.
11)  I have loved to watch her connection with Heaven expand and grow.  She knows where to turn in times of sorrow and also in times of jubilation.
12)  She is low maintenance.  Granted sometimes in Hawaii we have tried to talk her into easing up on that a bit and brushing her hair from time to time (ha!), I love her natural beauty that is effortless.
13)  She reaches out to those who may need a kind word or a shoulder to lean on.  
14)  She has an uncanny knack to know exactly when that kind word or shoulder is needed, and gives them out freely.  
15) She can put Lucy in a good mood with a snap of her fingers.
16)  She is extremely similar to her dad in so many ways.  And I really like her dad 🙂
17)  She’s a lot like her mom in a lot of ways as well…and that makes life pretty fun with her because I know I’ll always have a hiking partner, a Japanese curry sharer, a fellow photography enthusiast, and now she even loves art history (telling me about doric columns, etc.)…could life get better??  Ha!  I do so love when she jokingly tells me she’s “too much like me.” And I realize it’s true.
18)  She’s a great conversationalist.  I love discussing the world with her when I get an opportunity.  
19) She is funny and makes me laugh.
20) I think in the last few months she has come to know Jesus as her Savior in a more personal way than ever before.  And that just makes me so happy.  That knowledge will get her through a lot in life..

Gosh I sure love you Wellesley Jade!  
Hope it’s the best birthday yet!


  1. Happy Birthday! And I think Charity's name is on the wall in blue to the left of Noah and slightly higher. Can't tell for sure though.

  2. SO many cute dresses ans skirts in this post. I am in dire need for my two teen girls. Can you tell us a few places you like to get dresses and skirts for your girls?

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