What Can 12 Days Hold?


I got to be with my sisters, sweet niece June, my kids, my mom, my grandparents…and do a backflip on the trampoline on my 35th birthday!

Between August 1st and 13th, I have been a part of:

  • A funeral/celebration of life service
  • A 35th birthday party (my own!)
  • A family reunion (in Colorado!)
  • A trip to the Denver Zoo
  • A Royals victory at Kauffman stadium
  • A first day of school

Oh what a heart can hold!

Oh how summer has flown, life has changed, kids have grown, awe has inspired, and hope has renewed.

Each of these events carries emotions that ride on the surface of their label, and a reality that comes from inside their existence as an event and seeps into the rhythm of my life, now beating to a slightly different beat.

Perhaps, a zoo is just a zoo and a Royal’s game can be won without changing my life…but the rest of these, happening on top of and in-between work, meals, and a lot of packed bags, have made their mark on me-mind, body, and soul.


A dream realized- we stopped in Oakley, Kansas for a photo shoot with our 2 year old Oakley!

By definition, a “reunion” implies separation and a coming together again. For our Torell family reunion”, the characters are connected through layers of family relationships, (originating with my paternal grandmother and her two siblings) and the time passed amounts to three years.

It strikes me, definitionally, that family reunions are different than a school reunion, where the re-gathered attendees were once part of a unified whole. On the contrary, in a family, growth, addition and rippling out means new people come into a whole that does not define their origin but includes them through relationship. Yes, there is connection even if you’re a spouse or a newly born baby to a 3rd generation mom, but the origin is getting farther away from new growth. Reuniting happens at the top; ¬†introductions and inclusion happen on the ground.

For my siblings and I last week in Colorado, we were reunited with each other, our Dad and Grandma- our original connected whole.  And we reunioned with our second and third cousins- good people we have come to know through reunions past. The benefits are many: history, tradition, memory, and connection. Plus, fun, laughter, great conversations, good food, speed scrabble, softball games, and life in Estes Park, CO.


We love our Grandpa!


Champion hikers on our Gem Lake hike!

I was honored and exhausted by the opportunity to play hostess of the event with my sisters this year. We applied our gifts and experiences, work skills, and idea energy, to bring out the benefits for the whole. We were blessed by people who played our games, sang our songs, and danced our square dance. We left with greater love and wisdom from conversations with peers and elders. We had a lot of fun and a little bit of sleep with our Sustad- sibling- and- spouse crew.

We returned to KC from Colorado on Sunday, went to the Royal’s game on Tuesday, and sent the big kids back to school today, Thursday.

School, by definition, means summer is over.

School offers routine, social interactions with friends, exposure to the real world with its beauty, risks, and flaws, and gives my kids the gift of learning…a gift we must unwrap and fully enjoy with gratitude.

This year, the first day of school has not wrecked me as it has done in the past. I don’t feel like I’m losing my kids, instead I feel like I’m sharing them with the world and trusting them to make it and themselves better. I offer them me and our house as a safe resting place for the end of every day.


3rd grade for Eli, 2nd for Andi girl!


Is Super Oaks sending them off or trying to keep them close?


Oaks has asked about them twice so far; they are missed dearly by their younger brother, feeling a bit left behind.

Today, I’m grateful for the good words of my good friend Ray who taught me:

Healthy Things Grow

Growing Things Change

Changing Things Challenge

Challenge Results In…(whining, resentment, quitting, resistance, or…) RISK

Risk Requires Trust and Obedience

Obedience Brings Health

Healthy Things… the cycle continues…

Here’s to life at it’s beginnings, ends, and inbetweens.

Here’s to connection required and relished.

Here’s to school and staying sane.

Here’s to 12 more days and what might come as we walk them out in awe, hope, and peace.

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