These are the Moments that Make up the Days.

Life is short. 

As unromantic as it may sound that is probably the single, greatest piece of marriage and family advice I’ve read and the one that runs through my head most often in the midst of life’s trials.

When Tom & I hurt each other in the same way for the hundredth (thousandth) time. 

When my daughter pours my water bottle on her pants for the third time in a day.

When the laundry, dishes and cleaning all need to be done. Again. 

When the bills are paid but there’s nothing left for any of the other financial goals we set. 

When “date night” is, once again, in the living room instead of out anywhere. 

When pregnancy pains have me up at night before another long day. 

When the writing deadlines cycle back around. 

When Tom needs a week of evenings to finish major projects and I am alone. 

When family is all far away. 

When Evie is awake at 3:00 a.m. for no apparent reason.

When cold & flu season just won’t end. 

When sunshine and warm weather seem like a thing of fairy tales. 

When Evie is eating veggie straws off the floor because she dropped her snack cup for the sixth time. 

When life is mundane, lonely and predictable. 

When your time with the Lord is punctuated with baby drool and sticky hands wanting to help turn the pages of the “bahble”.

In the midst of Valentine’s Day promotions and celebrations it’s easy to forget that love is not proved by roses, jewelry, spa gift cards, dinners out, cards, chocolate, new clothes, vacations, surprises and time away together. Love is not cemented in the moment of breathless yes that follows a proposal. It’s not sealed by the tears that stain hand-written marriage vows or finalized in the intimacy of a long-awaited honeymoon. Those are beautiful beginnings, sacred starts to a life together but they are not the proof of love.

Like love’s Author demonstrated, love is cemented by the very moments that you think it should be most absent. Arms spread wide on a wooden cross. In the splitting of yourself to serve another. In the gifting of grace at the cost of your own desires. In the laying down of your very life to make another’s life richer, more whole. More sweet.

That’s where love’s true mettle is allowed to shine. To be refined into something stronger than it was before it was broken. That’s where love is proven as the greatest of these. In every one of the moments that won’t make it on a Hallmark card.

When you’ve locked the door and your husband picks it, determined to hear the painful words you need to say. When you have been cut open in the most unexpected delivery so your daughter can enter the world and, despite the pain, nausea and blood he whispers that “you’re beautiful”. When you fall asleep in the middle of something important he’s trying to share with you because it’s late and you’re exhausted. When what he needs isn’t a romantic gesture on your part but just the chance to take a nap on the weekend. When love is stopping to fill the empty gas tank despite your own mental and physical tank being on empty. When your sacrifice isn’t noticed or thanked. When your surprise falls flat. When your hard work is taken for granted.

Those are the moments that make up the days that make up a life defined by love. A life that will be over all too fast.

Love doesn’t take a superhero’s strength. Just a willing heart. It doesn’t require trendy clothes, a model body or a full bank account. Just the commitment to empty yourself and be filled with the passions and goals of the Greatest Lover.

When the overwhelming days come; when my heart needs a reality check to be restored to its mission of love, I remember how fleeting the days are. How much I’ve been given in this life and how precious each day I get to hold my loved ones is. I remember how fragile life is, that while we are promised eternity we are not guaranteed tomorrow. I remember how sacred the role of shaping little lives is and how the most significant things you can do in life are rarely ones that are either visible or applauded.

Life is short. 

When Tom and I hurt each other I have the opportunity to be filled with a demonstrative grace again. To help him move one step closer towards the Lord by receiving grace.

When Evie pours water on her pants I can enjoy the sight of her wet little legs running for the kitchen where I already know she’ll desperately grab the dishtowel off the refrigerator and start drying her pants. 

When the laundry, dishes and cleaning all need to be done I can celebrate the roof over my head, food on my table and clothes on my back. 

When the bills are paid but there’s nothing left for any of the other financial goals we set I can rejoice that our financial obligations are met.

When “date night” is, once again, in the living room instead of out somewhere I can delight in the fact that I have a husband committed to his wife and his family. 

When pregnancy pains have me up at night before another long day I can pray for the little boy growing in my womb and rejoice in the moments I have left carrying him. 

When the writing deadlines cycle back around I can be grateful for the small amount of extra income the writing assignments bring us. 

When Tom needs a week of evenings to finish major projects and I am alone I can spend the time worshiping my Lord and finding new ways to help my family through this season of long days, short nights and limited income. 

When family is all far away I can be grateful to live in a day when communication, sharing pictures and updating each other on our lives has never been easier. 

When Evie is awake at 3:00 a.m. for no apparent reason I can delight in the weight of her small, healthy body and rejoice in the feel of her little arms clasped tightly to my neck. In that moment I am embodied love to her, all the security she needs. 

When cold & flu season just won’t end I can be grateful for the fact that my family has avoided any major illnesses and simply battled a few head colds and an ear infection. 

When sunshine and warm weather seem like a thing of fairy tales I can rejoice in a world that is soaking in its off-season. The earth is absorbing the rain and gray skies as spring incubates. 

When Evie is eating veggie straws off the floor because she dropped her snack cup for the sixth time I can accept the sweet innocence that makes her unconcerned about germs. 

When life is mundane, lonely and predictable I can meditate on three truths: joy is not dependent on exciting circumstances, loneliness is an important part of growth and predictable days are a gift in their own right. 

When my time with the Lord is punctuated with baby drool and sticky hands wanting to help turn the pages of the “bahble” I can delight in the fact that “Bible” was one of the first twenty words that Evie learned. 

Life is short, even when the days and moments are long. The gifts are abundant, even when the wrapping is unexpected. The opportunities for joy are frequent, even when all the circumstances aren’t ideal.

The choice to accept the gift of today is always ours.  Always mine.

The Mom Wars.

Is it just me or have the mom wars been especially volatile lately?

It’s both heartbreaking and deeply disturbing to me to see the way grown women feel they can address one another, especially behind the veil of social media. Why is it so easy to forget (or to blatantly disregard) the fact that our “opponent” on any given topic is a human being with their own life story, set of convictions and love for their child? Why is it so easy to believe that our personal opinions are the ONLY way for all parents everywhere to raise their children? Why does the list of things you can’t or shouldn’t ask about without fear of offending someone grow ever longer? Why are we so willing to sacrifice someone else’s good name to make ourselves feel better about our personal decisions?

The debates over letting your baby cry, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, vaccines, circumcision, co-sleeping, working vs. stay-at-home, formula and about 101 other topics are raging on. The internet is a blessing and a curse in that regard; information and opinions have never been more accessible but, sadly, it has never been easier to find research to be used as ammunition to support any viewpoint. And the enemy on the receiving end of fire? Another mom.

I think one of the biggest sources for the mom wars comes when we allow our value as moms to be defined by our mothering decisions. Instead of choosing to breastfeed we allow ourselves to be defined as a “breastfeeding mom”. Instead of choosing to cloth diaper we are a “cloth-diapering mom”. Any decision about vaccinations will be seen as controversial by someone and, whether we vaccinate, delay or forego our choice can become a defining mark of pride. Whatever our decisions we tend to appoint ourselves spokespeople and champion them when asked (and, often, even when not). We forget that choosing differently than someone else doesn’t make us better than anyone else and far to often confidence in our parenting decisions so easily becomes arrogance towards parents who have chosen differently.

How much richer would our lives be if we didn’t enter the literally endless debates on all things parenting verbally or mentally? I don’t always say a lot about complicated issues on social media or in conversation but, I sure spend the time mentally debating the pros and cons of other parenting choices.

It can feel like an obligation of parenting to read everything, research everything, agonize over everything and consistently revisit every topic to see what you might have missed. It’s endless and exhausting.  It IS our job as parents to make informed decisions for the unique set of circumstances surrounding each child we have. The topics mentioned at the beginning of this post are so hotly debated because they do matter (though, some definitely matter more than others) but, so much of the information out there, on every side of any debate, seems to be written or spoken from a place of such fear or arrogance. I don’t want to live the one life I have consumed by it all and I know a lot of other moms who feel the same way.

Why is balance so much more difficult to achieve than extremes?

Probably because it requires us to make decisions with a calm spirit – not out of fear or pride. For me that is literally impossible to achieve without the continual grace of Christ. Obviously it’s not that Scripture holds a list of vaccination ingredients or schedule for dropping naps – but, when my heart is filled with a peace that passes all understanding is when I am best able to make parenting decisions with Tom for Evie and Miles.

In that place of peace is when I’m free from concern about other’s opinions. Free from the need to consult “one more book” and free from the need to justify my decision to everyone I meet. It quells the fear because, really, I think so many of our parenting debates are tied to our desperate attempts to protect and control our children when the simple reality is that, even the decisions we feel most confident in, don’t come with guarantees.

Part of parenting is accepting the fact that you CAN’T predict the future, protect your child from every potential accident or ensure the outcome you want for their lives. It’s opening yourself up to a very vulnerable sort of love. Accepting that reality (which is a daily choice and desperately hard at times for me) actually reframes the circumstances surrounding so many parenting decisions for Tom & I.  It takes away the fear of “what if” and it allows me the freedom to enjoy what I know to be true today with my daughter instead of spending precious moments consumed with anxiety about what the future holds. And really, isn’t today all we have anyway?

Abiding in that place of peace also helps to helps to silence my need to engage in that many mom debates.

It’s my job to decide if Evie should have a chickenpox vaccine. Yes. But it’s also my job to model the decision-making process for her as a time of careful research and thoughtful consideration – not a time of panic, heated words towards other moms and medical professionals or catty remarks.

It’s my job to decide what kind of diapers we will use. Yes. But it’s also my job to teach my children that there isn’t one right, God-ordained way of diapering your baby and that it’s ok if other moms choose to use cloth, disposables or a combination. It’s my job to demonstrate how to differentiate between major and minor decisions and how to hold convictions with kindness.

So many of the topics we agonize over as moms are somewhat to fully resolved by 3-5 years of age. What remains after that is the ongoing job of raising a child into a man or women who has the tools they need spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically to make it through the rest of their lives. 

What kind of diapers were used is going to matter very little when she’s fifteen. What will matter is how I spent the 10-12 years diapers were a non-existent issue raising her. What will matter is the conversations we had, the apologies I spoke to her and to her father, the grace shown her when she made a mistake, the tone of our home (God, may be it place of peace and hope. May it be a place defined by honesty and love and forgiveness when that tone is broken). 

What am I teaching her by how I’m making decisions for her? 

It’s my job to teach her when her opinion should be shared and when it’s ok to remain silent.

It’s my job to teach her how to take fear out of the equation when making a decision.

It’s my job to teach her when to ask for help.

It’s my job to teach her to be a woman marked by gentleness and respect.

Parenting has stretched me to my limit on so many levels. Just when I think I can’t  love her more she does something new, something silly or something sweet and my heart expands to a level of affection for her that I didn’t know existed. Just when I think I’ve begun to grasp the level of responsibility Tom & I have undertaken in becoming parents I am faced with a new decision that requires me to be doctor, psychiatrist, nutritionist and sleep consultant all at once. Just when I think I can’t be more tired, well, she chooses that night to fight the comforts of her crib for no clear reason ;).

There are a lot of difficult jobs out there but the endless amount of mental responsibility, constant demands for more time and energy and complete inability to change the fact that once you are a parent you are always a parent help me better understand why there are mom wars. Being a parent is hard work.

It’s sad though; as parents, especially as moms, we have the capability to be each other’s greatest friends, most beneficial resources and sources of comfort. Can we please start choosing friendship at least as often as combat? To stand next to each other even when we disagree? To sometimes choose silence even when we have an opinion? To create an oasis of peace in a world that’s crazy enough? To choose calm conversation instead of fear-fueled attacks?

We have to. For the sake of the children we so dearly love, we have to.

Like a Weaned Child.

I’ve been mediating on Psalm 131 since my mother drew my attention to it shortly before Christmas of last year.

Like many things in Scripture the depth and richness of this passage have taken on a deeper meaning since I became a mother in September of 2013 (on that note, I am continually amazed at the unceasing richness of Scripture; it’s not that every devotional time is filled with new revelations but that this book is evergreen in its ability to speak to various stages of the human life).

Psalm 131

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; 

my eyes are not raised too high; 

I do not occupy myself with things

too great and too marvelous for me.

Choosing to posture yourself in dependent humility is a decision to, at least temporarily, choose stillness and reflection. To lay aside physical, mental and spiritual busyness.  I love David’s checklist of things he is choosing not to do; engage in intense emotions, be mired in anxiety or theological debates, look ahead into the future or try to immediately find answers to every question that disturbs him.

In loving God with his heart he is delighting in his position as  God’s child. He is seeking rest.

I ran across the following, beautiful words yesterday. By some miracle my little family slept in and I woke up refreshed a full 90 minutes before they did. When that happens, my first instinct will always be to see what I can get done while the house is quiet and little hands aren’t behind me undoing it as fast as I check it off my list. I compromised a bit – I spent five minutes sweeping up cracker crumbs that Evie had scattered around the living room couch, then…I sat. I read. I prayed. I meditated. I reflected.

I entered the “palace in time” that is the Sabbath.

“The Sabbath is a reminder of the two worlds–this world and the world to come; it is an example of both worlds. For the Sabbath is joy, holiness, and rest; joy is part of this world; holiness and rest are something of the world to come.
To observe the seventh day does not mean merely to obey or to conform to the strictness of a divine commandment.
To observe is to celebrate the creation of the world and to create the seventh day all over again, the majesty of holiness in time, a day of rest, a day of freedom, a day which is like a lord and king of all other days, a lord and king in the commonwealth of time…the seventh day is like a palace in time with a kingdom for all. It is not a date but an atmosphere.” – Abraham Heschel

I chose to quiet my soul.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, 

like a weaned child with its mother;

like a weaned child in my soul within me. 

David’s likening of his intentionally quieted soul to a weaned child is deeply poignant to me.

For the first fourteen months of her life I nursed Evie anywhere between 2-12 times a day. Those times with her, which are now memories, are achingly precious to me. The weight of her little body nestled in my arms as she ate, glancing sleepily (and, later on, not so sleepily) all around is something I am grateful we were able to experience together.

Early on though Tom & I learned something interesting: he was able to comfort Evie in a way that I was not.

When Evie was in my arms her instinct was for food. Immediately. She would squirm, cry and nestle closer and closer until she found what was looking for: nourishment.

When was she was in Tom’s arms her head would drop to his chest and she would snuggle, pressing closer and closer until she found what she was looking for: comfort.

When Evie weaned at the beginning of December there was a dramatic and immediate difference in her contentment in my arms. For the first time I was able to hold and comfort her without her looking for anything else. She was stilled by the simple fact that she was in my arms, enjoying her mama as a place of safety and peace.

How often my time with the Lord mirrors the same frantic need for something (often many things). I seek guidance, provision, direction, answers to prayer, discernment and patience – all well and good but how often do I just seek Him? How often do I allow myself the gift of simply receiving his comfort without asking for anything more?

Not often enough and the loss is my own.

Lord, grant me patience and grace to actively quiet my soul and receive the comfort I need.

O Israel, hope in the Lord

from this time forth and forevermore. 

I wonder what David’s conclusion would have been had this Psalm been written from a place of active study, questioning or action?

“O Israel, take up your weapons, fight from this time forth and forevermore”.

“O Israel, study your texts, defend truth from this time forth and forevermore”.

“O Israel, open your homes, host your neighbors from this time forth and forevermore”.

I don’t want to negate the importance of any of those; part of loving God is challenging our minds, speaking what is true, serving our neighbors and working with diligence.

Yet, after his time of stillness with the Lord David’s conclusion is equally simple – a whispered afterthought to a Psalm breathed as a quiet prayer; an ode to the sacredness of silence.

O Israel, hope in the Lord. Always hope in the Lord.


The Wholly (and Holy), Transformational Role of Sacrifice.

Yesterday I woke up to a lengthy list of items that needed to be accomplished: four loads of laundry to wash, fold and put away, grocery shopping requiring loading groceries into the cart, onto the belt, into the shopping cart, into the car, into the house and finally…into the pantry (when you’re pregnant every step counts), cleaning and organizing the pantry and refrigerator, meeting the maintenance man to change the air filter, grating soap to make laundry detergent, endless diaper changes, sweeping and vacuuming, cooking dinner, packing a lunch and preparing Tom’s work uniforms for the week, bills to pay and paperwork to catch up on.

On top of everything I had a little one coming down with a cold (her second – third? – this winter. A consequence of the fact that she LICKS EVERYTHING. Ugh) who needed extra time and attention and sometimes who just needed mama to stop and hold her.

Somewhere in the middle of the day, in the midst of many blocked goals and limited accomplishments, I re-read my life quote;

“To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life” (From An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor).

In that moment I was reminded (by the Holy Spirit of God….because I definitely did not have the resources to remind myself) that life is not measured by the amount we accomplish but by the attitude in which we do it. Times where sacrifice is required present us so many opportunities to cultivate a spirit that resonates embodied grace to others and to ourselves. That, that is the holy, transformational role of sacrifice that is available to us if we open ourselves to it.

There are many roles and opportunities in life to sacrifice beyond what you feel you have capability to give. A lot of what I write is drawn from the context I am currently immersed in, mothering, a present tense, action verb that’s ever-evolving in definition and ever-deepening in opportunity for sacrifice.

Evie’s sleep was interrupted often last night. She went to bed at 7 and woke up at 9, 11, 1 and 5. At 1:27 a.m I sat with her on the edge of the bathtub with the shower on its highest setting. The steam filled our small bathroom and swirled in the glow of the nightlight. Evie’s forehead was pressed into my shoulder and her small arms were wrapped firmly around my neck. She breathed in the steam and I felt her little body relax in the warmth of the room and the warmth of knowing mama was present for her.

In that moment I realized I had a choice (again, through Holy Spirit grace).

I could begrudge her repeated need of me through the night; caring for her physically but being emotionally distant. Sometimes I think that’s ok; the amount of sacrifices required of a mother mean that each one will likely be met with a varying level of emotional attentiveness. Mothers are human too.

Yet, in that moment I knew I had more to give her than physical care, something that would also be a gift to myself in the work it would do to transform my own eternal spirit. By grace I gave her the gift of emotional presence in her need. I engaged my senses with hers, put myself in her shoes (err, sleeper-clad feet) and allowed myself to soak in the beauty of her trust without wishing for a different set of circumstances (particularly a set of circumstances that had me still asleep in bed).

Emotional presence is what renders the same situation either mundane and forgettable or eternally transformative. Emotional presence is what opens our eyes to the deeper realities of our everyday situations and the significance they could have to our eternal souls should we allow it.

We each  have every ingredient we need to live a sacrificial life. To be changed by the ingredients of our lives right now, today.

The key is what we do with the painful, unexpected  and altogether mundane aspects of our lives.

The building blocks of trials, difficult circumstances, low-income seasons, relational disappoints, job loss, miscarriage, transitions, loss through death, children leaving, loved ones making choices you don’t agree with (to name just a few) are present in some way and degree in each of our lives. Each of those larger difficulties, and the hundreds of small inconveniences that fill our days, are composed of a thousand, little chances to be emotionally present in the pain, trial or annoyance.

The chance to be transformed just a little more through the sacrifice being asked of you. Of me.

My day rarely holds news-worthy stories of change. I haven’t been called on for any groundbreaking political contributions, made any life-changing medical discoveries, published anything that has changed the world or single-handedly altered the course of a third-world village.

Yet, every single day I have the chance to communicate tiny lessons of grace and responsibility to a little woman-in-training. I have the change to cool a meal, wash a dish, make the bed, say “I love you” and whisper a prayer in a way that communicates the innate value of the people I am serving and the eternal weight and transformational value of each seemingly mundane task.

I can be changed for a little more eternal good on this rainy, cold sick day in early December. So can you.

Sanctification, transformation, is not a separate mission from our earthly responsibilities. Those simple, everyday tasks are how we can be changed into His likeness – should we emotionally present to the wealth of opportunities they hold.

God, grant us eyes to see and the courage to be emotionally present in both the mundane and the groundbreaking moments of our lives. 

The Wild for the Wonderful.

To get the full feeling of this post you should probably turn up this song like I did while I wrote it.  Or this one – which I switched to after I listened to the first one 3748943651923 times. 


Today is a soaking wet day for introspection. For soul-searching melancholy. For the open-mouthed baby kisses my daughter specializes in. For the whole-body hugs Tom gives me that are actually more like our souls touching. For texted “I love you’s” without punctuation – the most honest kind. The kind that, in that moment, aren’t concerned with periods or exclamation points but with relaying the message.

It’s rain and clouds and the silhouettes of umbrellas marching steadily past my windows and the front of the coffee shop where I’m now writing. It’s the rain-slicked cobblestones that make my town perfect and the hunched shoulders of each dusk-weary passerby bracing the continually pelting rain.

I left home tonight.

For the first time since in months l left with no agenda. I’m not grocery shopping, going to a church meeting or on a planning committee. Instead I’m curled up, barefoot, at the local coffee shop (the kind of place with dinged furniture, crooked menus and perfect music that makes you wonder why coffee shop chains exist). I’m sitting here writing.

I didn’t come with a pre-planned topic just a thought I’ve been mulling over for the last few months.

Self-care, specifically mother-care.

Mothers need care too. Mothers need to reminded of who they were before littles came along because those truths remain a definitive part of who they are as mothers. If you’re reading this and you’re a mom – take care of you. Take the bubble bath, drink the coffee, steal the ten minutes outside at night to just sit.

Nights out like this one help me remember who I am as a woman. As a wife. As something other than a mom. Going to the coffee shop with my laptop to write used to be the norm for me- it has now been so long that I actually forgot where to plug my headphones in on the laptop.

Time away, perspective, is crucially important and life-giving to help ensure I continue to fulfill all three of those roles well; wife, mom and woman.

I think of it as The Wild.

I’m not someone who needs to get their hair done or go for a massage (though I certainly won’t turn it down if you’re offering). I don’t need a shopping trip or time at the mall.

I need the freedom to stand in the pouring rain and stare at things uninterrupted.

I need to breathe in a southern night full of humidity and possibility. I need to have  a quiet moment to daydream without the weight of dinner menus, diaper changes and bills that need to be paid. I need the bliss of doing one thing at a time.

I need to feel the unbridled wonder of nature. To feel the rush of possibilities that come with staring down an open road and seeing the way it winds with abandon. I need to stand on a beach at night and hear the crash of invisible waves pounding an ever-shifting shoreline.

Those things reach deep down into my soul and bring it to life.

They stir me to remember the Big Picture. To look beyond the days of little things, of the mundane chores and list making and to remember. Remember who I was created to be, to remember that life in all of its unbridled wonder, unexpected pain, fragile joys and moments of sheer delight is worthy of being lived with my eyes wide open even when I’m tired, overworked and weary of reading “Where is Baby’s Belly Button?”.

Sometimes it seems that out culture wants mothers to believe they can and should have it all. Freedom and babies, personal time and time with their littles, self-actualization and self-sacrifice.

Yet, on that last one maybe they’re right – we find our truest selves when we surrender ourselves and sacrifice is as intrinsic to the definition of motherhood as love is to the character of God. Plenty of opportunities to lay aside your own desires and, in the process, learn who you are – for better or for worse.

I knew that before I became a mama – as best as you can know something that you have to live to learn. Sacrificing in practical ways for my daughter is something I will do every single day. Same for her dad. Some days it’s hard, that is true, but it’s also something I find extremely fulfilling. I love preparing healthy meals, hanging clean, fluffy towels in the bathroom, putting clean sheets on the bed, making my own laundry detergent, gathering her in my arms to nurse, packing lunches, straightening carpets and filling our home with light and love.

Those things aren’t the true test for me of sacrifice.

It’s surrendering my freedom in The Wild.

The ability to go and do and be anything I want to be at any time. The freedom to hoist a sale and catch a ride whatever way the wind is blowing. The ultimate escape, into a book, for an uninterrupted six hours. Traveling to Mexico with my love. Last-minute road trips just because.

Those things aren’t a definitive part of my life right now. My days are extremely predictable and scheduled. Up at 6:30, naps at 9 and 1, three meals, three snacks, two cups of milk, two nursing sessions, 18 books read, five block towers built, one lunch packed, one dinner cooked, the living room vacuumed, the mail gotten, the bills paid, the calendar updated, the articles written, the cleaning done, groceries unpacked, menus made for the week, phone calls returned.


Every day. All day.

Motherhood is trading much of the wild for the wonderful.

And you know something? As I’m continuing to adjust to that new normal, I’m learning something key. Something that is encouraging me through the busy and often lonely days of mothering and transition as we attempt to build a new life here.

The wonderful can be just as fulfilling.

The wonderful is in my baby daughters eyes when she feels a raindrop on her face. It’s in my husbands smile when he suggests doing something crazy and taking a family walk in the woods. It’s in the companionship of friends who share your journey and in the solace of fellow mothers who are willing to swap jealousy and competition for authentic friendship.

It’s in a whirlwind hand of Dutch blitz with your husband before bed. It’s in the sudden smiles of a one-year old drinking in every bit of life she possibly can before her bedtime. It’s when you hear your husband and daughter playing hide-and-seek upstairs and laughing so hard that the floor is shaking. It’s in those moments that you know, that even though they’re filled with mundane tasks and small things, these are the best days. 

That, that discovery of the wild hidden in the wonderful, starts with the  unmatchable joy that shoots through every painful, bruised and broken part of your body when your child is first handed to you; breathing their first breaths of air and looking for something familiar, the only thing they know- you. 

Someday the freedom of the wild will come again in full force and, you know, I can’t help but think that, when it does, I’ll do anything to trade it back for one more day of wonderful. 

Time will tell. It’s incentive to live the days will a grateful heart knowing that each season is temporary.

And, for now, this season of freedom at the coffee shop is drawing to a close. My husband, who patiently handled bathtime and bedtime for the little, awaits me. He has grown even more dear to me as we continue down this road of life (how is it even possible that we’ll be married three years in December?). There is a lunch to be packed and a final load of laundry to put away before night falls on our home.

Tomorrow is a new day.

A day for making stew, muffins and bread. For cleaning the house and for taking Evie to library storytime. It’s a day for ironing Tom’s work shirts and finishing a phone interview for an article. By God’s grace it will be a day laced with prayer and moments of meditation. A day where I show grace to an eager, active little girl who’s desire to explore her world doesn’t always match my neat plans. A day where I am patient when Tom gets another late call at work and needs more time in the evening to do homework. It’s a day I only have the chance to live once.

And, by grace, tomorrow is a day for wild wonder.


My Top Ten Mama Must-Haves.

Exactly one year ago I was making a baby registry.

I was six months pregnant and dreaming about her little face, the nursery and all the other things that make up my life now (the real thing has proven harder but significantly better than my daydreams).

I spent hours registering. Pouring over options. Trying to guess what would be necessary and what wouldn’t. All of the items on this list won’t be necessary for everyone – but, in the early days of life with a baby who slept better with motion and needed lots of time with dad & mom well, they saved our lives.

1) The Moby wrap

When I say Evie lived in the Moby wrap for her first two months of life I mean she lived in it. We wore her all the time. I desperately bought the wrap late one night at Toys R’ Us (on one of my first babyless outings after she was born). It was the instant solution to us getting some sleep and, honestly, I loved wearing her – she’s still in it occasionally but, at eight months old, has a lot of exploring to do ;).

Added bonus: You’ll feel like a samurai warrior rapidly twirling the ends of the wrap around. Wrapping a baby in it 4-6 times a day means you will get impressively fast at it.

2) Slippers

We brought Evie home on the first day of fall. Winter weather and, for once, snow came quickly and, as any mother can tell you, socks on a newborn are an oxymoron. Evie was given the sweetest pair of slippers (thanks Johnny & Ryan!) that she wore for next oh, six, months – she couldn’t kick them off and they kept her little toes warm. Win win.



3) Aden & Anais Bamboo Swaddles

These are hands down, without competition, always and forever my favorite baby blankets. We were given one at a baby shower before Evie was born (thanks, Whitney!) and I loved it so much it came to the hospital with us. They’re super soft, lightweight and oversized so I’ve used it as a swaddle, nursing cover, carseat cover and blanket.

This week I finally purchased a few more – that’s right, we went from owning one to owning four of these swaddles. I’m giddy.

4) The Rock & Play Sleeper

When Evie was about three months old we realized that one of the biggest reasons she slept well in the swing was because it was elevated.  

Enter the rock & play sleeper.

I wish I’d known about this from the get-go. It’s lightweight, portable (nice for switching her from our room to the nursery or for going on road-trips!) and it not only kept her elevated but snuggled her in on each side (something she’s always loved).

For a next baby I’ll skip the bassinet/cradle phase and just use this.


5) AlvaBaby Cloth Diapers

I’ve already written a pretty lengthy post about my love of these diapers. Affordable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly? Yes please. We’re going on four months of exclusively using them and they’re still holding up perfectly! They’re available from Amazon and the AlvaBaby website

Two cautions: I’ve heard from a few friends that they’ve seen pretty crazy price fluctuations in the Amazon listings for the diaper bundles (I’m guessing the bundles are being sold by a second-seller trying to make a profit) AND there are apparently some knock-off version of AlvaBaby diapers being sold (which is kind of funny since the Alvas are basically a knockoff of Bumgenius diapers. It’s like the six degrees of Bumgenius). The knockoff Alvas don’t have the AlvaBaby tag sewn on the side – if you order them and that’s missing, get your money back!

It sounds complicated but, if you can sort through the marketing and ordering annoyance that comes with ordering off-brand  – you can get a good product for cheap!

First time in cloth :).

First time in cloth :).

6) Summer Infant 3-Stage Super Booster Seat

As soon as she had some decent head-control (for Evie that was around 8 weeks old) she was ready to SEE EVERYTHING. We carted this little chair everywhere – restaurants, small group, vacation, the kitchen counter, the dining room table, the bathroom counter, church.

At first she’d only be in it 5-10 minutes at a time but, as she got older, she’d sit in there for an hour or more watching me cook, get ready to go out, or playing with the attachable play tray. Personally I prefer to this to the Bumbo. It has a higher back which means she could use it earlier and it comes with the straps and playtray (so no extra cost for them)!

7) Swaddle blankets & Carseat blanket

Your need for these items will probably depend on the season and the size of your baby. Evie loved being swaddled – she instantly slept better when she was snuggled up in something (which was probably due to the fact that she weighed 7 lbs when we brought her home!).

At first we used the SwaddlePod ( pictured on the far left – I found a brand new one at a thrift store for $3.00!). I loved this blanket because there was no wrapping involved and it unzipped from the bottom which made nighttime diaper changes a lot easier.

When she got a little bigger (and a lot stronger) we switched to the Miracle Blanket (pictured in the middle). It was a little hefty in price BUT made the difference in her sleeping four hours or 45 minutes. So…worth it.

When Evie was about four months old and rolling everywhere we started the process of transitioning her out of the swaddle – we used a Zipadee-Zip (pictured on the far right – which I loved! It kept her safe and warm). She used that for about six weeks and it helped her adjust to sleeping in just her jammies. She’d been proudly swaddle free for almost two months now ;).

Also, a baby in the Zipadee-Zip attempting to pick things up is the cutest thing you’ll ever see.

Our carseat blanket was made for us by a dear friend (thanks, Marie)! It was perfect for the cold weather as it kept her warm and much more secure than trying to clip the buckles over a puffy snowsuit!

This picture cracks me up – she was grumpy because she wanted to eat but…her little furrowed brow. I can’t even handle it.


8) Coffee Grinder

Yup. You read that right.

My little $17.00 coffee grinder that we got as a wedding gift has been the best tool in making baby food! It purees soft fruit or steamed veggies with liquid in about 30 seconds. I grind up whole rolled-oats with wheat germ to make for Evie instead of baby oatmeal and I use it chop of meat or cheese into smaller pieces for her. WONDERFUL.

Take that $60.00 Baby Bullet.

9) Head supports

Since Evie spent a lot of time in the swing/carseat/rock & play we bought two head supports to prevent her getting a flat-spot on her head. Worked like a charm!


10) Nursing Pillow

I have to admit. I didn’t purchase a nursing pillow ahead of time and wouldn’t have afterwards unless a friend offered me her Boppy to try (thanks again, Kate!).

It saved my back. Seriously.

A nursing pillow for a baby who can’t support their own head is a must – it was also great as Evie was learning to sit up! We used the Boppy brand pillow but there are several good ones out there.


Honorable mention: The Boppy Lounger. 

Evie actually slept in the Boppy lounger for a while (it fit perfectly in the cradle we were using). If I’d known about the Rock & Play Sleeper it would probably have served the same purpose but, another bonus of the lounger was that we could easily carry her around the house! Until she was strong enough to move on her own it made a cozy resting spot :).



So, that’s my list! There were a few other things we used but, for the most part, these have been the ten items that have helped us along over the past 8 months. I’m not being paid for any advertising or clicks – they just genuinely made this list because they were that valuable, haha.

What’s on your list?! :)

On Mothering.


The dictionary definition of motherhood is spot-on (for once) and stunning in its profound simplicity; “to bring up a child with care and affection”. That’s all there is to it and yet, oh, how much is encompassed in those two words! 

Care and affection. Care and affection. Care and affection.

It would seem, and my incredibly limited experience at being a mother would affirm, that there is a profound difference between being a mother (a role. a title.) and mothering (a literally lifelong calling – should you choose to recognize it as such. And, if you don’t choose to recognize it that way, you have misunderstood mothering).

Care for a child is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. “Care” is teaching every life skill from how to swallow sweet potatoes to the slow, laborious process of tracing the over-sized block letters that make up their name. Caring is the process of creating healthy fear – of busy roads, bears and stinging bees and modeling resilience in the face of disappointment, loss and the inevitable griefs that accompany living life with an open heart. Care is helping a tiny person who knows nothing about life, safety, their own physical needs, dreams, faith, boundaries or relationships learn every.single.thing they need to know to build a life. Hopefully, whatever occupation or education is pursued, it’s a life defined by holy surrender and unconditional love – both of which lead to true freedom.

Care is spending 72 hours of your limited time on earth teaching a small person that they cannot keep trying to put your glasses down the air conditioning vent. Three days. Three days (or way more) of your life that you will never get back helping a child begin to understand they can’t lick the garbage can.

That’s the un-glamorous, irrefutably important, courageous, behind-the-scenes, slowly transformative work of mothering that is the most innate part of the job description and that makes up significantly more of your day’s percentage of time then any Instagrammable moment.

And, all of that physical care doesn’t even fully touch on the emotional side. It doesn’t even cover the moments at night when you lay in bed, picturing them in their crib, and everything inside you wants to run and cradle them close to your chest. Because you know the moments are making days and the days are growing into months and the entire process of mothering and caring for her is going so fast it makes you want to break down and cry (which is also probably leftover pregnancy hormones because the physical process of balancing back out post-baby is a beast). It doesn’t cover the way your heart feels like it will explode with joy when she sees you coming down the hallway and falls over herself and her blocks trying to crawl to you as fast as she can because literally all she wants in the entire world is to be in your arms. It doesn’t cover the low moments  – the sheer exhaustion when you haven’t slept more than two hours in a row for a week or are trying to recover from delivering a child from your body or welcoming a child into your home.

It seems that a mother’s ability to care for a child necessarily grows with the knowledge of  who that child is.

When Evie was put in my arms I loved her as My Daughter. I loved what I knew of her – which was that we’d been counting the seconds to her arrival. Been staring at her sonogram wondering who she was, listening to her heartbeat, musing about her future. But I didn’t love her the way I do now and I don’t love her now in the same way that I’ll love her in the future.


After experiencing the last eight months with her I love her as Evie.

I love the way she sleeps on her belly with her bottom in the air. I love the little birthmark on her back. I love the way her tiny mouth puckers in to a perfect “O” when she is about to cry. I love that, out of her entire container of blocks, she’ll always pick up the white, circular one first ( I’m certain she hopes that it’s a large cheerio). I love the careful way one, exploratory finger will gently poke at each new things she finds. I love that she still falls asleep the fastest when she’s being held to my or her dad’s chest. I love the sheer joy that bubbles out of her when she sees Tom walk in the door at the end of the day. I love the scent of her – her milky, soapiness with a hint of heaven. I love her determination and desire to explore her world.unnamed A mother’s other job, affection, is just as significant.

Affection. Affection is transformative knowledge. The communicated belief  that this small person is valuable. That their fears are valid, dreams worthy, purpose innate and life full of beauty. Regardless of appearance, race, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities or challenges. Affection is the foundation for a child’s confidence and ability to love. And, while no child is perfect (a truth they need to know as well) every child needs to know, HAS to know that they are loved and accepted as they are. As they are. 

My heart aches deep inside at the knowledge that many children never experience care and affection from a mother. That’s another topic for another day – but it’s significant motivation to extend a mother’s heart to more than just my own children. Mothering skills can be a gift and a blessing to far more than just biological offspring.

Care and affection.

That, that is why mothering is (rightly) heralded as a high, hard calling. It’s the only “job” I know of that is so thoroughly unrelenting in its responsibilities and so binding in its contract. Someone else could care for Evie’s physical needs, sure, but no one else can mother her. It’s my scent she knows, my body she grew in, my breasts that feed her, my voice that calms her and my arms that comfort her.  I am anything and everything she’ll associate with the word mama.

Mothering is transformative in a unique, permanent way. Giving yourself to the process of caring for and teaching affection to a child is a sacrifice. It seems that some choose it and, for others, it chooses them. Some accept it, some do not (though, that doesn’t negate their title of mother). Some come by it through a pregnancy, others through opening their hearts and homes through adoption. For some the process of trying to become a mother is the most painful and difficult journey they’ve ever walked while, others, seemingly don’t have to give it a second thought.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about mothering it’s that mothers need encouragement and support.  While babies are born, mothers are made. Made through a thousand nights of looking for a pacifier in a darkened nursery after two hours of sleep. Made through the experience of a thousand fears and concerns over the course of ten months of pregnancy or countless months waiting for a biological mother to choose you for the task of mothering and for a child to be placed in your waiting home. Made through sacrificing your very skin for the sake of someone smaller. We can’t do it (and shouldn’t do it) alone.

There’s so much to mothering that it only makes sense for it to take a lifetime. I think to feel prepared for mothering is impossible – the complexity, nuances and time-consuming nature of mothering make it a journey you learn as you walk the road. Sometimes you fall in potholes, sometimes you sprain your ankle. Sometimes you skip along in the sunshine. One day at a time, imperfectly, persistently with breaks for sanity when you can and one-sentence prayers for patience and wisdom when you can’t. It’s on the road that you recognize the resiliency of children and bless their forgiving nature a thousand times over. It’s when you beg God for courage – should anything ever happen to your heart that beats outside your body, exposed to so much unpredictability, anger and pain in the world.

Motherhood is humbling.

You suddenly realize how very little you know and how very much there is to know. You also realize (sometimes not until a little later) that it’s ok not to know everything. Or rather, you realize you don’t and won’t know everything and you can either panic over it or be ok with it and move ahead as best you can. You realize that the wisest place is on your knees and that simple faithfulness is sometimes the best gift you can give your baby. You begin to realize, when some of the fog of sleep-deprivation lifts, that you are being transformed. That mothering has a higher, holier task than “just” raising a child. You thank God for choosing you to be a mother to this child, you beg Him for the wisdom and grace to be worthy of it.

You also realize, one day in late May when your teething daughter finally falls asleep for a nap, that you’ve been thinking about all these things for the past four months and, even though you’re tired too, you really need to write them down. So you do. And there they stand, a marker, a memorial stone, a testimony to where you are today on your own journey of mothering.