Tag Archives: family birthday blessing

Averi-Girl: The 5th grandbebe turns 7!


I was so proud of myself when I took this picture of you at 1 1/2 years old. But I did have to chase you around the yard for an hour as you excitedly explored the garden before I got this! You make me smile! Oh, yes, you do!

Hey, my sweet birthday girl~

averi & sisters

 The day we all did our make-up. :)

Happy-hApPy-delightful-delirious-joyful-head-over-heels-laughing-dancing-rejoicing-fun-FUN-fun-gladhearted-jumping-jelly-beans-cartwheels- & -kisses Birthday, Little Miss Averi!

Oh your Nonna loves you, girl. You know that, right? You’re funny and sweet and wry and so-very-mature and insightful. You’re considerate and thoughtful and every bit the perfect firstborn, and big-sister. I just don’t know what we ever did without you! You make life sweeter and neater and so much more beautiful! Every time I think of you, I smile. When I get to see you, well, I just go a little bonkers with happiness!

averi 7th

 I thank God for you, Averi Jadyn! I think He outdid Himself in creating you! I thank Him and I add my blessing. I bless your days and all your ways. I bless those piercing, liquid-blue eyes. I bless those oh-so-kissable cheeks.

I bless you as a big sister and a good cousin. I bless you as the perfect niece and a wonderful granddaughter {we’re so lucky to have you}.


You were 4 or 5 months here and so scrumptious I could just eat you up!

I bless the things you’ll see, that you may see them with God’s eyes. I bless your hands, those beautiful, graceful little hands, that they’ll be applied to good works God prepared ahead of time for you to do – even before you were born.


I bless you as an honoring daughter – knowing that as you honor your mommy and daddy, the Bible promises it will go well for you and you’ll live long on the earth! What will go well? LIFE! The life Jesus came to give you, abundant and wondrous and free from any kind of captivity! I bless your life. May you always be in Christ. May you find your most treasured identity and home in Him!

You’re becoming more beautiful by the day because it is coming from the inside. As I see you growing up, 7 going on 17, I see a deep radiance, a caring girl. It is lighting you up from the inside out. And oh, how your Nonna loves you and is blessed by you. I know God is pleased by you, too. I sense His joy in you!


Someday, when you need reminding about what I have always thought of you and maybe you’ll need to know how much God loves you, I hope you’ll remember to come to this blog and read these words again and know that Nonna is shaking heaven’s gates for you, praying for your life, for good things for you. And I am reminding God over and over that I want Him to be with you always and make His face to shine right on you and to surround you with His favor like a shield and to give you grace to be all He created you to be and to do all He calls you to do.

And you what? He has already promised that He will do and be all these things to you in His Word! All the wonderful secrets are there – in your Bible! But I will keep on praying for you and reminding Him for you, anyway. And I will agree with His good plans for your life and shout AMEN! Yes, Lord! Let it be!

Happy Birth~week, my sweet! You are a good girl. And I’m so proud of you!

Love, {Nonna}

Happy Birthday to Dessy

June 13, 1983 was this amazing day…

So, this may be the latest I have ever been in posting a birthday blog, but the added days have only made me ever more grateful for you, the day you were born and all the days since…

dessa at tea

I know, I know – I am always reminiscing about the days you kiddos were born and how those sacred, over-the-top-amazing moments changed my life forever. Maybe I see them through rose-colored glasses, but your arrivals were, to me, so monumental, so divinely, lightening-bolt powerful. Well, I mean they were like day six in the garden of Eden, the day God made man in His image. That’s a pretty big deal, I’d say.

And you own June, Tre-Tre. You own June days and purple irises and rose bushes in full bloom. You are the sound of cheering at church ball games and yellow layettes and a handmade diaper bag in dotted-swiss, Easter green, embroidered by Grandma with love. You are a hot summer and a headful of black hair with big, lacy barrettes that had plenty to hang on to. You are the baby girl who arrived to two of the sweetest, giggliest big sisters who mentioned you in their nightly prayers, calling you Twe-dessa-Christina (even though it should have been Tredessa Christine).

Dessa studio 818

You were born in to love, a mommy and daddy who were still newlyweds, madly in love with each other and church life and our three little girls and afternoons splashing in the backyard wading pool while the radio played, “Never gonna let you go...”

You just slipped in unobtrusively and cuddled into a little corner of our lives and hearts and then we were 5, our little tribe.  And 1983 is so special in my heart for your arrival. And June became a month I revere and romanticize for your birth. And you, my little mystery, were heaven-sent, without a doubt.

dessa and ryan

Happy Birthday to Tredessa Christine, my 3rd baby and the centerpiece of the little Rhoades familia.

Hey, Dessy-Pooh, you are an extraordinary woman, you are! I am still thanking God He sent you to us, He formed you and fashioned you in very interesting and distinct ways. You possess such strength, such deep-rooted fortitude, I’d put money on you over a tornado any day. Best of luck to the winds and waves that try to defy you, one who so deeply understands her place in God’s heart. They’d just as soon die down and whimper away than try to quench the fiery wall that is Dessa. Seriously.

Dessa and Eva right after birth

Intrigue and espionage, power and war

You, my sweet (hasn’t the whole family always known?), could run America with your brain and mighty valorous heart, the wisdom of God and your anointed insight! The FBI or the CIA would be in good hands with you at the helm, if you decided against a bid for the White House, that is. :)  I leave nothing outside the realm of possibility, for you, an Esther, a Rebekah, a Deborah, for sure – you are a viable leadership option for the healing of this nation in the hands of God. I for sure BELIVE that! Now if you can somehow miraculously do it without becoming a politician…

But that is the thing. You could and you will do amazing things in your life (because you have already started and accomplished so much), but your strength is that you are willing and always content to wait on God’s timing in your life, for your life.  So few of us have mastered that or want to. The vision that speaks of the end (Habakkuk 2.3): Give it to me now, we demand. But not you, Dessy, you wait with a twinkle in your eye, a knowing in your heart, a calm spirit and determination in your step.

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Hab. 2.2-3

And you have a wisdom beyond your years and haven’t you used it to challenge my imprisonments, to bring enlightenment and yes, even some correction to your ol’ momma? You have. I will answer that for you, you little booger.  ;)  And I take it from you.

But what else could I do from a daughter who has repeatedly, intentionally received the counsel of her mom and chosen to accept all God had for her through even me for her own life? I love that you know we were paired by God on purpose and that you have searched for the treasure in it, even when it has been hard to find at times! I appreciate you giving me credit for many of your wonderful attributes even though I know you far surpass me in most everything you put your hand to…perhaps just – everything!

I love that you still look for the things you can learn from me and call for baby advice when, like your sisters, you are a completely incredible mommy, so much smarter and better equipped at it than  I ever was, but still, you ask me, “What did you do when...” and “How did you handle..?” And the years roll back – back – back and I am in 1983 again and just so grateful to God for the blessing of you that June day you were presented to me from Creator and for the blessing of you now.

Dessa and Stormie

So, let me speak this blessing and prayer over you as we celebrate the day you came and the life you are leading, woman of God, devoted daughter, admirable human being:

God make you righteous and strong and able. May your Creator deal with you as He does with the Daughter of Zion in His Word. His patience and loving care for His people is sure and He considers it an affront to Himself when the enemy threatens His royal offspring. And so I remind Him daily to guard and protect you the same way.

May God bless you and watch over you and keep you.

I pray that not only will He see you and notice you and hear you, but that you will know He does. I pray that not only will He hear your prayers and hear your heart’s cry and answer you in days of trouble, but that you will never forget to call out to Him.

You are quiet and not given to voicing every little thing, but at the faintest whisper from your lips, I pray God is watching and will attend to you, as He promised. May He bless you, spirit, soul, body, in fruitfulness, mothering, love and marriage, may He bless you.

I pray that you will prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers. I bless you on the occasion of the celebration of your birth and life with the blessing of God and His watchfulness over you.

May God shine His face toward you and show you favor and great grace.

I know your light and life make God smile. They make me smile. So, I pray that the warmth and power of His outrageous love for you and Ryan and Evangeline and all the little Faalands-to-come will just radiate like fire in you, through you, around you and for you.

Write words that will change everything, Dess. Soak in the Word of God for all you’re worth and love it and live it and stand on it for your home and marriage and life and mommying and calling and walk worthy because you are {in Him}. Bring order to chaos,  spread numbers on sheets and make accounts whole and holy (those things you do so very well) . Speak out what God tells you because your words bring life to the lifeless, hope to the hopeless, and courage for the battle.

May God be favorably disposed towards you, and may He grant you peace.

I pray God just face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball gives you His absolute approval and you have the courage and grace to just receive it and soak it in. So that all those dreams you and Ryan have –  dreaming of ways you can support the things of the Kingdom, all the plans and aspirations that are bubbling up in both of you to change the world and make a place for the Presence – may you be courageous and bold and strong and take hold of them.

{Remember the little girl whose favorite worship song for many years was “Be bold, be strong, for the Lord thy God is with you! I am not afraid, I am not dismayed, for I’m walking in faith and victory, yes…”? I do! I believe her battle cry took root!}

And may you live in peace, peace with God and with man and may your household be a place of rest and joy, refreshment and grace.

Dessa, steampunk photo shoot for work

Beloved daughter, treasured friend~

I couldn’t have dreamed you up. You are beyond anything I could have asked for or even thought a daughter should be. You have been a delight since I first laid eyes on you in Kokomo 31 years ago. You’re a peacemaker, a thoughtful friend and an honoring daughter. May you receive and reap the full benefit of all you have given and sown to be so. I love you truly, madly, deeply, my darling daughter, my girl-child.  {With love from your oh-so-thankful mom}   

Bo-Bear Turned 29 on the 29th

Happy Birthday to Rocky Rhoades, who turned 29 on September the 29th

My son – I am so pleased with you. rocky and jovan

I have told you the story of your birth so many times, haven’t I?  You arrived early and the doctor had told me not to leave town in case that happened, but I left town and I was so stressed out because I don’t like to get caught breaking the rules.  And Tara just reminded me the other night how stressed she was, too, as a 5-year old, because we started on our trip, got halfway there, went home, and then decided to go anyway…and barely walked into the grandparent’s house before it was time for me to zoom right on over to the hospital.  Well,  I mean, I had planned to make it home so the doctor wouldn’t be any-the-wiser, but you were like, NOW! ~which is so still you.   :)

And I have told you that you surprised me beyond anything I could have imagined.  I could not believe I got the boy, THE boy I secretly hoped for even though in reality I was totally FINE with having a girl.  I already had 3 girls, one more made such sense for balance and symmetry.  Omygoodness – the words, “You have a boy” sent me into delirious happiness.

rocky baby

You looked directly at me, your eyes blinked in slow-motion and it knocked the breath from my body.   I was dizzy in love, unable to even think about sleep that night, all night, as an oxytocin and dopamine cocktail surged through my veins as if it were coming directly through the IV drip.  I had a boy…my very own baby boy!

And you may not realize it, but every time I ever see you, even now, I am thinking the same thing: THAT is MY boy!

rocky at easter

I am so proud of you, Rock, not only for the man you are, but for the man you are becoming more and more everyday.  This whole flood thing has been a devastation in some ways and an aggravation, for certain, in the life of your family, your ministry.  There was loss that probably feels overwhelming and unbearable (as $40-50,000 plus time and effort and re-building will be).  I know you look forward to getting your wife and baby girls back home, safe and sound.  And then you’ll look and see the possibly long-haul ahead for replacing all the instruments and computers and sound equipment and the studio you’d spent time assembling ~ lots of time and money and hard work ahead.

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For …this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.. .  2 Corinthians 6.10-12

But it will come back to you.  The things you have sown will take root and grow.  And I have watched you and Jovan these past few years grow in grace and grow in giving and giving selflessly and giving big and making the conscious decision to live a life of giving and whenever it has been in your power to do so, you have given away anything and everything you could.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows…whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6.7-8

And God isn’t unaware.  He’ll see to it that the seeds of kindness and giving that you have already sown will grow and flourish and you’ll reap all that you have sown.  Even when you didn’t know you’d need it – you were planting, you were dropping the seeds of compassion and kindness and generosity into the ground – and what you couldn’t see was that God wasn’t surprised by this thing that happened to your house, your home and belongings and He was smiling, I just know it, because He knew you were already doing what needed done – before it needed done.  God knew you were planting for a harvest of big-time reaping, financially!

rocky and family

“The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.'”  Genesis 7.1

For Noah, for all mankind, the flood was a line in the sand.  It was a before and after.  It was : things used to be like that, then there was the flood, and now they are  like this.  The flood was an ending AND a beginning.  Things were lost in the flood, but the promises of God are found there, too.  Not just for an ark builder for thousands of years ago, but for a worshiper/songwriter right now, in Frederick, CO – man who leads his family and wants to write songs that literally bring healing.

Of course certain things had to die and float away for a dream, a calling, a vision like that.  But it is all just so you’ll never forget that the LORD is the promise-keeper and you didn’t do it by yourself, because you couldn’t have.  How many times have you told me, since you were 18 or 19, “God won’t share His glory.”  You have pointed out highly celebrated, gifted musicians and singers and recognized the call of God on their lives,  but watched as they held it for themselves.  That is not the standard you are living by and this flood is just a yes and amen to deep-down determinations you have already made to give God all, everything that is His and His alone – you have already said it.  The flood is a checkpoint – do you mean it, Rock-man?  And I know you do and I know the healing songs are going to pour out from here, like flood waters for the glory of the LORD.

But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord just as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2.14

rocky and jovanie

Do you know what I think?

I believe, and I actually know this to be true because I have known you every second of these 29 years+ and you have made me cry and worry and laugh like nobody’s business and also so very proud because you are forthright and honest and talented and thoughtful and honoring and you love your mommy.  So this is what I think:

No one is more beautiful or handsome than my boy, my Rocky ~ from the inside out.


“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

This is the post-flood promise of God!  On the occasion of your 29th birthday.  It is coming back to you, all of it and more!  I love you!

NOTE:  Rocky and Jovan got flooded out during the Colorado rains in September.  I have written a little about it here and here.  You can learn more about helping them re-build {HERE}!

Our newest son


Ryan Faaland.  I have only known him for a year and 6 days.  But all along he was being prepared, God was readying our family and preparing the way for him to be grafted into the Rhoades tribe.  He and Tredessa fell for each other quickly and I am pretty sure that his first huge family dinner with us made him like Tredessa even more.  Haha.

We asked him 10,872 questions.  And it was loud.  And we played Charades.  He laughed easy and he fit – just right.  Prepared.  A new son…

Happy 28th Birthday, Ryan!

Your parents raised a good son.  I know they are pleased with the man you have turned out to be.  You are a man of integrity and character.  You are caring and affectionate.  You are the tender love God wanted to bless Tredessa with.  You were prayed for and highly anticipated.  You were long-awaited and appointed to a place of high honor, that of the man of Tredessa’s dreams – a place so unique, so protected in its’ scope and future, 3 massive music festivals turned up dry, man-wise.  There was only one who would do…and it was you.

Just words.

Below is your “birthday card.”  It has a few of the words that describe you, things I see, things I was impressed by the Holy Spirit to impress upon you.  I hope you will know the deep, full meaning of each.  I pray your heart will resonate as these things confirm God’s call on your life, His plans for you, and His deep love for you, Ryan.

I wrote “You brought a part we didn’t know we were missing.”   And even though we were waiting for you and looking for you, the gift God gave was more than we could have hoped or asked.  We didn’t even know what we really needed.  But God is good and He knew.  And we love Him for the gift.  We love you!


Happy Birthday to My Dad

Happy Birthday, Dad~

Seventy-one years ago today Ressie Belle, widowed just weeks earlier by a tragic automobile accident, cradled you in her arms: a son who would carry on his father’s name, A. Ross Moslander.

That’s a tough start during hard times.  But you have done that name proud.  You’ve lived vigorously, for both yourself and the father you never knew.

No one in the world could ever doubt you were born for God’s purposes, papasan.  Since you found Jesus and He found you under that starry sky on Missouri farmland when you were 15, you’ve been on an adventureous journey of faith with all the Type-A, driven  energy of an Olympic runner, eyes set on the prize.

And you have spurred the rest of us along ~ thousands of friends and relatives and acquaintances and church members along the way, but especially your family, us kids.  And your zeal burns hot into the next generation, your impact is just getting revved up.  I am spending my life trying to keep up with my amazing dad.

You are the Psalms 127 and 128 man, dad.  You are the man in Psalms 112:  you are blessed and your children are mighty in the land.  Your heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Your family is fruitful and growing and you have received so much heritage from the Lord (talk about a full quiver!).  Your sons and grandsons are like arrows in your hands – the enemy does not want to contend with you when he sees this army you have unleashed in the land!  Look at your children and their children and now their children’s children:  we all love you, honor you, respect you and celebrate you!

Happy birthday, holy man.  Happy Birthday, my dad and my hero.  I love you….Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Call dad.  Wish him a happy birthday.

Youtube: Got together the other night for dinner and sang to you.  Stephanie and Gavin weren’t there, but the rest of us Rhoades-Kelleys-Powers were.  

Gavin is Four!


Gavin-you silly, delightful boy, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I cannot believe I was once trepidatious about becoming a “Grandma,” better known around these parts as *nonna.*   It is true what they say: Grandchildren are your reward for not killing your own children.  I won!  I hit the jackpot!

As I write this – you’re innocently asleep in your bed and have no idea of the 3-D dinosaur cake I am preparing for your party and how its’ head just fell off.  You won’t even wonder why my hands are dyed green when I arrive.  You, being you, will just be excited about the cake and tell me it is wonderful because you are my little encourager.  You’re my red-headed fella and one of the most energetic human beings I have ever known.  You’re the double-sworded Leonardo who has explained more to me about “Turtle Power” than I ever wanted to know.  You are my delight!


Thanks for enduring the kiss and remember: YOU CRACK ME UP!!!

I am blessed…”Nonna”

NOTE TO SELF: Try to remember – was there life before Gavin?

The Preemie, Stephanie May Kelley


Happy Birthday, Stephanie, my second-born, my preemie, my miracle-girl, my rainbow woman.  You are the child I prayed for, and God gave me what I asked!

It is your 25th birthday.  How fast the years have flown.  Much like my pregnancy with you, when you arrived a full 5+ weeks early, on a  beautiful lilac-scented day in Kokomo, IN, even beating Prince William, after whom you were “scheduled” to be born.

In retrospect, at the hospital, they should have stopped the labor and tried to determine what was causing the bleeding (was it “The Twister” –  that amusement park ride that pinned my head to the back of the seat?).

Five or more weeks early is too early.

Instead, my doctor said I probably just mis-calculated the date and he estimated that you weighed well over 7 pounds and he didn’t even put me on a monitor before breaking my water to get labor underway.  I had always liked his old-fashioned, grandfatherly ways, but being the older and wiser woman I am now, I should have slapped him a good one.

A little after 2 on a Friday afternoon, here you came, full of trust in the parents God had given you, and we, probably not worthy of it.  I really couldn’t tell what was happening.

At first, they all oohed and awed, the medical staff.  You were tiny. They did the first apgar and gave you an 8 out of 10.  They let dad hold you while I looked on.  The second apgar had dropped to 4 and they started looking frantic and they didn’t even let me hold you, you were whisked from the room.  Not only did I not know what was going on, they placated me with assurances and didn’t tell me anything.  They were the authorities – just “taking precautions.”

Later they told me a team was coming from Indianapolis to “help.”

By the time I saw you again at 7:30 pm, you were wired up on the sides of your head and on breathing machines and I could only touch your hand through a small opening in the incubator.  A crisis life team, who had been at work saving your life when I couldn’t even comprehend how much saving you needed, was transporting you to James Whitcomb Riley Hospital in Indianapolis and I could only say good-bye.

The lady in the bed next to me and all her firends were smoking.  As I watched you struggle to breathe, “pre-mature infant lung disease,” they called it (your chest caved in where developed lungs would be normally), I asked a nurse to remove the smokers.  They assurred me you were safe from it.  That didn’t matter.  It was all I knew to do to protect you.  I wanted you to breathe safely…

In what felt like the middle of the night, but was probably only 10:30 or 11:00, your doctor called from Children’s to say that they had you stabilized.  In monotone, he told me it was unlikely you would leave there in anything less than 3 months and that he was giving you a “30% chance of survival.” It was a shock to my system.  It was unthinkable.  It was not even on my radar that you might die.  He asked if I had questions and I couldn’t even think of any – grogginess?  stupity?  Probably both..

In those moments, I became instantly alert and I cried out to God on your behalf.  I did not feel like some giant woman of faith.  I knew my prayers were feeble compared to many, but I was a mommy on a mission to knock on heaven’s door for the life of my newborn, struggling-to-breathe, yet unnamed baby girl who was too many miles from me.  And I will tell you that soon, very soon, the Presence of the Lord washed over me, bringing such peace, that never once did I doubt the Lord would show up for you when I could not.  That night, I was not alone and I met God in a new way.  I met Him as a healer.  Like Hannah in the Bible, who prayed for a child, He heard my prayer. I knew He was with you, too…

When I was finally released, in terrible pain from the worst stitches ever and the discomfort of having no child to nurse (at the time, I didn’t comprehend the emotion of that – everything inside is screaming out: where is my baby?) I prepared to go to Indianapolis to see you.  A song was playing,

“He means more to me today because of yesterday
I was in the valley and I had to pray
Then He showed me His favor in a special way
He means more to me today because of yesterday…”

I cried when I heard those words, because they were true. I was getting to know the Healer in a way I had never needed to know Him before.

Ten days later, Children’s Hospital released you to come back to Kokomo because you were progressing so well every day.  They were in awe.  We were rare, they told us.  At 12 days old, Howard Community Hospital released you to come home.  They said your lungs were actually recovering and developing every day.  Though you were only 4 and half pounds when we brought you home, you were gaining weight each day just like you should be – not much, but a little.  It was miraculous in every way!

God healed you, Stephanie!  The Creator finished the work and you came home with the loudest cry we had ever heard.  And you cried a lot and I thought we were doing something wrong, but you were just working those little lungs, strengthening them up!


When I sat down to fill out the birth announcements I had chosen in the weeks before you were born, the scripture on them seemed suddenly prophetic.  I had read it before, surely, but now I read it with full understanding:

“For this child I prayed and the LORD has granted that which I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1.27

You were a gift for Tara, you’re “Rainbow Bear,” a child of promise. You could talk in lovely conversations by 18 months, but weren’t an early walker, as you preferred to be carried like a princess.  You came with the softest heart for people around you (the odd little girl from a harsh home would call you to read to her, which you would faithfully do for long periods, keeping her company – and you couldn’t even read yet!), and the most developed sense of humor – always making your sisters laugh.  I remember you falling asleep in the middle of singing the alphabet song and awaking a few hours later to pick up right where you left off.  At our conference with your 2nd grade teacher, she said you were the child who, when some one dropped a pencil across the room, would run to pick it up for them.  She said, “That is who Stephanie is.”

She was right.  You are the one in the family who makes sure everyone gets honored regularly and that they receive the most thoughtful gifts and that no one forgets special things coming up.  You watch over us all with great care.

You gave us a wonderful son when you chose, so well, Tristan, as your husband.  You gave us our first grandchild, Gavin, and our first granddaughter, Guinivere and they thrill our hearts and are mothered so well by you.  Any moment now – you will bring us a new granddaughter (our 4th grandchild).  I hope she comes today – right on your birthday – as a special gift of celebration of who you are, Stephie.  But whatever – Happy Birthday, my sweet one.  Thank-you for all the happy days you have brought (and I will ever cherish the extra 5 weeks we have had together!).

Great love,  mom

NOTE TO SELF:  I am blessed! I don’t deserve it, but I am blessed…

(pictures:  Stephanie at 4 months and about 10 pounds, Stephie and me at her 3rd grade play, Stephanie (8 months pregnant and glowing!) and her family on Easter at Northern Hills, where, by the way, she and Tris helped lead some incredible worship! 

Liquid Joy – Tara J. Powers


Happy Birthday to my first-born.

May 9, 1979 was such a special day, I could not have comprehended it at the time.  There was no way for me to know at exactly 7:16 p.m. when you made your first appearance, how my life was about to change, how God was going to make Himself so real, His love so apparent, my life so blessed by your coming.  I didn’t realize at the time that you were going to be a river of “liquid joy” that would wash over my heart and gift me and cause me to flourish in a way I’d never had the opportunity to before.

Liquid joy.  That was a name Lisa Bierer gave you when you were about 12 or 13.  It summed you up beautifully.  From the time you arrived, I’d never seen such unabashed happiness and innate joy in a human being.

I was serious and sarcastic.  I was un-trusting and wounded.  You slid down the very rays of the sun into my house and life and arms and coaxed the hope in my heart to grow and believe life could be different.  You refused to leave me in my hidden guilt-driven, shame-based stupor, but even as a toddler, pulled me into the merry-go-round that is life.  You lived your whole life (almost) as a joyfully obedient girl, a big Jesus-lover, full of compassion and mercy for everyone around you.

Us. Est. 1979

You grew and you blessed us all.  First, there was just me and you.  Then dad came along and we were a family.  Because I was so young and naive and really stupid about being a mom, you, naturally as the first born, had to help teach me what it was all about.  For all the siblings who followed, you stood in the gap and represented them, watched over them and defended them.

The giggles and laughter and make-believe and street ball-games and bike races and tether-ball matches that never ended and babysitting businesses and new neighbors as friends and pretend weddings and dress-up and bread sticks from mixes and first boyfriends and ska and singing competitions and basketball and volleyball teams and Five Iron Frenzy and funny fashions and crazy hair and piercings and innocence and sweetness and exuberance and passion – these are all things Stephanie and Tredessa and Rocky and Stormie have to thank you for.  I adore you for them all.

When you were 14, I was going through some heartbreak.  You were praying for me and came to me with a song to listen to and you carefully gave me a word of encouragement, a word of rebuke, too, really, but with utmost caution.  I listened and as I stood doing the dishes, listening to the song and thinking about what you’d just told me, I was strongly aware that God Himself had sent you and I trembled inside from both the discipline of it and the awe that my little Tara was so sensitive to the things of God.

Hope seemed lost for a time.  There were those days when the enemy of your soul set out to rip you away from God’s plan for your life.  It was a time of grave danger to your heart, your mind, your soul, your spirit, and even your physical being.  You’d been away from home for quite awhile, but had returned for a couple of months and when you were leaving again, the enemy tried to tell me I was losing you (to this poor choice/direction you were taking) for good.  That morning before you left the house (and you saw the hot, stinging tears shoot from my eyes as I plead with you not to go), I wrote this in a notebook:

8.4.02  It’s the morning of the day Tara is moving out, disentangling herself of the strong emotional ties we have – trying to make her own way, trying to shine to us, not realizing that I have already seen her light so bright – spots dance before my eyes.
Already the house seems empty.  Already a void grows.
I have to trust God that my sorrows over what could’ve been –
the seeming loss of all hope will give way to what He knows can be greater-
and that in all things
He is at work, making a way and that
His love will not let her go.

And it didn’t.  His love didn’t let you go and when things seemed the most hopeless – God was about to turn it all around.  Those days were hard, my love, but I am so thankful that I learned to pray during that time.  I learned to battle for what was God’s and I grew in faith. I will ever cherish what was accomplished for God’s glory and for you!


You are an incredible mother to Hunter.  I love how you love your husband, Dave.  I am inspired by and admire your work for the kingdom of God.  I am so pleased with you, honey.  Your mommy is so pleased with you! God gave you to me (what a gift).  I gave you back to Him.  And look at what He is doing!

Happy Birthday, Tara…Love, mom

NOTE TO SELF:  I was so honored to have Tara with me last night at the Chapel Hill MOPS group! Give her an extra hug for that!

(photos: Tara and I when she was 2 and Tara with her husband, Dave, and son Hunter – who is 2!)

Stormie Dae “She’s the baby-gotta love her!”


A couple of days after splashing in the pool with our first 4 kids during an unusually hot and sunny beginning to spring in Sioux City, Iowa, a freak ice storm hit the area and there were many travel warnings.  “Don’t go out in this unless you have to,” they said.

We had to.

It was high-time for baby number 5, Stormie Dae Rhoades, to arrive and luckily, we lived just a block from the hospital, perhaps 3 if you count having to go around and enter at the emergency room exit (an area where just weeks later, Rocky, age 1 & 1/2 would “drive” our car into the side of the hospital wall when we had to make a quick trip back…that is another story entirely…).

Back then, you didn’t know the sex of the baby ahead of time.  It was all speculation, but a very strong heartbeat and her mammoth size pointed toward a strong, healthy girl.  She had been due on April 2.  Thirteen very long days later: volia!  And weighing in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces, we were certain we had not mixed up the dates.

Stormie was planned as a “gift” for her brother, Rocky (in a sort of “oh, we’re pregnant again” **surprise** way).  We’d had a girl…then another…then another…and one more try for that boy…we may have stopped having kids then if Rocky, the fourth child, hadn’t turned out to be a B O Y!  We felt we must try for a brother for him, or at least make him an older brother to a sister so he could learn to hold his own.  I would say to this very day, even as she is turning 21, she remains a great gift to Rocky (the only sister who took no crap off of him) and a great gift to us all.

How she got her name.  Naturally, you have already figured out that since she was born in a freak ice and snow storm, the name “Stormie” fits, but what you don’t know is that I had almost used the name “Stormie” with every single previous daughter.

When I was pregnant with Tara, I ran across some lyrics written by Stormie Omartian called, “Seasons of the Soul.”  I was so moved by them, Tara nearly had a different name.

By the time Steph came along a few years later, I had read a magazine article or two about Stormie Omartian and heard more of her music and Stephie was in line to get the name, but she ended up being premature and the name “Stormie” just seemed too overwhelming for our tiny, struggling-to-breathe baby girl.  When our third daughter came along “Stormie” was on the table again, but we decided to go with “Tredessa” (the name of a sweet little girl I babysat as a teen) because she looked so exotic.  “Stormie” didn’t seem right for Rocky, either, so it was still available when our last little one was born and there was no question by that time.

So, really – she was named for Stormie Omartian – an incredibly godly woman whose personal testimony and way of communicating through song has touched my life deeply over the years (not to mention her notoriety as one of the leading prayer authors/experts alive today).  My Stormie reads Stormie Omartian’s books and knows she is named for a woman who trusted God to turn her hurts into healing for others, an admirable life, worthy of emulation.

The servant.  Stormie is a servant-hearted girl and big giver. The whole family can rely on her and she keeps “adopting” needy children around the world to support.  I have seen her quietly give big gifts to families in crisis and watched her cry big tears for the broken.  Her heart is bigger than she is, held ever-so-gently by the compassionate hands of Christ, I have no doubt.


 Stormie, I am so pleased with you.  You have been our little Stinky, mommy’s cuddler.  I have seen you play in a tutu (with your long, skinny toothpick legs) doing a roller-skating routine and watched you careen by with scraped knees chasing Rocky on rollerblades.  I got to watch the woman in you emerge when, as you wore your first bra and wore a dress and tights and black, patent-leather shoes in honor of the milestone, you told us, “It feels so nice to be a lady.”

When you saw a need on a worship team and were asked to learn, you spent countless hours alone learning to play the bass to bring glory to God, to be a blessing.  And just this past Sunday, on Easter, I watched you in the shadows once again, playing for His Name, His acclaim with your siblings and I loved you even more…again. I am waiting for you to go public with that beautiful voice, when the time is right and the song rises so strong within you that it cannot be silenced. I am so pleased with you, Stormie – who God has created you to be, and how you are dying to self to become that woman.

Happy birthday, Stormkins.  Your mommy loves you.  “As long as you’re living, my baby you’ll be…” Mom

NOTE TO SELF: Kiss my little Stormkins all over her face.  Give her many, many hugs.  Celebrate her life and thank God for the joy she has brought to me.

(pictured: Top- Stormie, 9 months & me in Jan. 1987; Above – That’s me and the baby on Easter Sunday 2007)