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.

The Magic.

Evie’s growing up.

While far from a teenager and even farther from an adult she’s not that far from a toddler and then a child. She’s a busy, curious seven-month old that want’s to see everything, touch everything, examine everything and be…well, everywhere.

I love that about her.

I love the sheer energy that makes her little legs kick against the stroller bars. I love the way her entire face lights up when she smiles. I absolutely cannot get enough of her face, when she’s happy her entire body wriggles with sheer joy. I love the speed with which one pudgy hand can reach the pen, glass of water or book that is just out of her reach (but not quite far enough). I love the way I can tell what she’s pondering by the million little expressions that flicker across her face. I love how her little arms are learning what a hug is, clinging tighter and tighter to mom and dad’s neck. I love how fascinated she is by the snaps on her diaper, picking curiously at each one (one day she’ll succeed in getting it off and I may not love that…as much). The way she takes every.single.toy out of her basket and spreads them in a perfect circle around her little body, the way she thinks that anything that moves near her is playing peekaboo – the curtain fluttering, the cat running past – all of them get her happiest smile. The way she grins at a single cheerio that fell on the floor and her determination as she desperately front rolls, flips and wiggles her way to it

This girl is one of God’s greatest gifts to me.

There was a brief time in my life when I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children. As silly as it sounds to me now, for those months I really wrestled with whether that was something I wanted and God wanted for my life – then, one night the struggle resolved so suddenly. I was driving home from a friend’s house around Christmas of that year and, while waiting at  stop sign, this thought hit me: if I don’t have children I can’t introduce them to the Chronicles of Narnia. That little thought made me stay parked at the stop sign in tears (I’m nothing if not ridiculously sentimental). Tom wasn’t in the picture yet and I really had no idea when I would marry or have children – I just knew that I personally wanted the privilege, responsibility and joy of introducing little people to the world (and, obviously, the world of Narnia ;)).

Fast-forward five years and I find myself a married woman of almost 27 with a baby that makes my heart swell with a God-inspired loved when I look at her.

Lately, I find myself thinking – what do I want to introduce her to? What do I need to introduce her to? Her awareness is growing, her comprehension is growing, her understanding is growing. My role as her mamma has already shifted from “just” physical caretaker as I carried her in my body, to nurturer and source of comfort as I (and the safety of her daddy’s arms) was all she knew the first few months of her life, to beginning to build on those things and becoming even more of a teacher to her little heart.

There’s so much I want her precious self to know.

I want her to know that the true magic of childhood doesn’t cost a penny.

It’s not at Disney World or the toy aisle of Wal*Mart. It’s not in having a huge bedroom of her own or eating at all the best restaurants.

The magic of childhood is something she can experience every day.

I want her to know the joy of holding buttercups under her chin and the skill of packing a baseball helmet with snow to make a snow turkey. I want her to know the sticky frustration of pine sap between her bare toes and the way you can always smell honeysuckle before you can see it.

I want her to know the true freedom that comes with knowing when to say “no” as well as “yes” and the importance of boundaries to protect herself and those around her.

I want to model a tender heart.

A heart that draw boundaries but doesn’t create barriers out of fear or anger – a heart that is tender enough to be broken because a heart that can’t be broken also cannot fully love.

I want her to experience the anticipation of the non-seasons, those moments in between the changes, the coming of fall with chilled air and vividly hued leaves and the anticipation of spring with its floral breezes and crescendo of blossoms.

I want her to know that the world does not revolve around her but that she’s an irreplaceable, indispensable part of it.

I want her to see Jesus.

I want her to be able to look past the mistakes of Christians (and, sometimes, the outright, painful wounds) and see Christ. If she can do that she will find a faith that sustains her.

I want her to know how to handle fear. To remember to breathe through the shock of loss (which, inevitably, will come) and to allow herself the space to grieve when she needs it.

I want her to laugh wholeheartedly. To persist through the nightmare of learning to tie her shoes (😉 ), to go to bed ecstatic that it’s almost Christmas and counting down the days until we get to do our family tradition of decorating a gingerbread house (a tradition that started two years before she was even born). I want her to find her peace in the holy hush of advent and the soaring joy of Easter.

I want to introduce her to bobbing waves in the ocean, melting Italian ice, making popcorn on the stovetop, the importance of saving money, the need to eat healthily, how to make envelopes and write her name. Tom and I want to create a home for her and our future babies that is full of grace and boundaries, love that disciplines, exploration and respect – paradoxes the Gospel makes sense of.

I want her to see the endless journeys she can take into books and the way her imagination can make anything interesting.

There’s so much she has yet to experience: her toes in the ocean, the thrill of flying, picking out an outfit for herself, making her bed, plunging her hands into the sticky yeastiness of bread dough, eating watermelon in the summer, picking dandelions, puddle-jumping, pushing a shopping cart, running up a hill so fast she can’t breathe, saying a bedtime prayer, playing dress up decorating cookies, getting a letter in the mail, holding her baby brother or sister, picking out shapes in the clouds, helping wash the dishes, dancing around the living room.

I love seeing her eyes light up at life, I want to be there every step of the way to soak in the magic with her.

This parenting thing is something I feel inadequate for every day but wake up eager to do at the same time.

I’m new at it, I’m only at the beginning of the journey – but by God’s grace there are many days yet to come. As I’m already learning, the days full of little moments add up to make a big impact. We only get one today, only one right now and I want to live them faithfully and well with her.

On her first picnic🙂.

Life Lately.

It took typing up a silly post about cloth diapering for me to realize how much joy and identity I find in writing. I feel I haven’t fully accepted, grieved or processed something (anything) until I’ve found a way to put it into words. It’s a necessary challenge for me – the act of pairing emotions or experiences with the  strings of letters that come closest to matching them.

So much has happened in the past six months I’m not sure where to begin summarizing (though, the goal isn’t necessarily to share the entirety of my experiences – that’s both too extravagant and, I feel, too vulnerable for an unknown audience).

So, what then? What if not summarizing?

Describing? For some day when the moments that made up today are a memory that I think of with a fond, longing ache in my heart?

I know there are many things about this season of my life I want to always remember (though, I don’t feel I could forget them even if I was choosing to do so).  These feel like the best days I’ve ever had? Will they be?

I want to remember the scent of my baby daughter’s hair when she’s fresh from her bath; the way her skin smells like powder and honey. I want to remember the sleepy weight of her small body, worn out from knocking over (and over and over) her block towers, as she nurses herself into a nap – the last thing she remembers is the scent of mommy and taste of milk.

I want to remember the light in Tom’s eyes when he walks up the front path at the end of the workday. The way he sometimes stops to knock on the window and makes faces at me through the bushes. The way he still looks at me after three years of increasing familiarity – with love and longing. I want to remember the stubborn, red curl that twists by his left ear and the way he drops his lunch bag on the floor so he can immediately lay on the floor and make his baby laugh.

Sometimes I think if I could stop time at any point it would be now – during the years when our babies are young and so are we. If only being unspeakably grateful for things was enough to let you hold on to them forever.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I’m 26 going on 27 not 26 going 77. I don’t know why but, since I was small, I’ve been acutely sensitive to the passing of time. When I look at my daughter I can see her walking, writing her letters, becoming a big sister, falling in love and getting married…it’s as vivid as the hands I see typing this post. I can see her daddy in another twenty years. Laugh lines more creased around his eyes, heart full of even more love.

I can see myself.

A mother more times over (please, God) but a wife first. I can see the sacrifices my body will make to give life to someone smaller. I can see the way my heart will always walk around outside my body in the form of my husband and babies. I can see it all. I can see the woman I want to continue be for Tom; the partner, companion and lover.

I can see the time passing and I know, all too soon, It’ll be past. It’s a challenge to myself to do the small things that make big differences today. 

To speak the loving words, to spend the five minutes snuggling the child, to plant the herbs, to pray together, to find joy in the littleness of these days of small things, to choose the path of peace instead of offense, to pet the cat, to write the email, to spend moments in silence becoming instead doing.

More than ever my heart needs its God. Not one of small stories or tidy boxes but one strong enough to sustain me in the face of grief and be my reason for celebrating. He is there and I’m continuing to learn him in a new way through new stages. I want to remember how this process of breaking into new territory feels. Will I ever understand all His ways? No. Not in their fulness. Lately he has chosen? permitted? not intervened? in ways I don’t understand – my heart aches for friends going through losses. His blend of power and reticence, action and restraint seems so paradoxical at times.

Despite my questions, I want to remember this season too. How divinely alright it felt to be nothing other than exactly who I am today. Questions, fears and all. The way it felt to be journeying with my daughter as she discovers daffodils, the sensation of carpet on bare feet and raindrops on her face. The ever-growing comfort and strength of my hand in Toms.

When I die, when all of these remembrances are tomorrow,  I want to be all used up.

I want everything I have; every ounce of bodily strength, every bit of passion, every possession to be given away to someone who needs it more.

What is the purpose of life if not to pour yourself out like an offering for someone else? To give comfort to one who feels alone? To grieve with one who has an aching heart? To put yourself and your preferences to the side for the sake of another?

I want to remember.

“This is the true joy in life — being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one… being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake.
Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.” 
~ George Bernard Shaw

Reviewed: Alvababy Cloth Diapers.

So, I’m diving back into blogging after a three-month hiatus with a post about…cloth diapers.

I understand if this is only of marginal interest to the faithful ones who read this blog. However, if you’re a mom (or mom-to-be) who is considering cloth diapering – well, this is for you.

I was a reluctant convert to cloth diapering.

It has been on my radar since before Evie was born and I’d decided for and against it multiple times. My sleep-deprived mind went around and around on it – Pro’s: money saved, environment conserved, cute diapers. Con’s: start-up cost, extra work.

Finally, about six weeks ago, we made The Decision. We were going to cloth diaper. I was encouraged watching a few friends who seemed like they still had time to occasionally shower while still being a cloth-diapering family (i.e. it apparently doesn’t take up every second of every day). We’d been saving an Amazon gift card to help with the start-up expenses should we choose to cloth diaper and, finally, all the stars aligned to indicate it was time.

I went online to order and BOOM discovered there are 43r6943758123845=375 brands and styles of cloth diapers – not to mention an entire vocabulary you need a codebook to decipher (stripping? it’s not what you think. doublers? not just for twins).

I spent the next five hours of my life researching cloth diapers.

Eventually, I limited it to what I could order off Amazon (due to the gift card). In doing so I found Alvababy which, as best I can tell, is an off-brand version of bumGenius. The bumGenius brand diapers are excellent quality but, with prices ranging from $14.00 -$18.00 per diaper and, not enough time to slowly save or buy on sale, they were out of our price range.

(Sidenote: if you’re looking for discounts on the bumGenius brand keep an eye on this site – oh, and this one for deals!)

In researching Alvababy I found that they were the same pocket style that I liked (for newbies – like myself six weeks ago- pocket style diapers have an opening (i.e. pocket) between the diaper lining and the waterproof exterior – you stuff it with an absorbent insert). Alvababy diapers come with either one or two rows of snaps. I strongly prefer the style with two rows of snaps because the second row allows the diaper to be tightened snugly around the legs (versus just around the waist).

Photo Credit – Amazon

So, on to the review.

Somehow, miraculously, these diapers made me a fan of both the Alvababy brand AND cloth diapering.

1) Price: The most expensive diaper I could find on the Alvababy website is $6.99 (average price is around $4.80 a diaper). If you’re a last-minute convert to cloth-diapering (or just trying not to spend a lot) these are an extremely affordable selection! Bundling different diapers can make you eligible for different discounts and, if you purchase 20 or more, free express shipping!

I tried to find a graphic that accurately expressed the amount of money saved by cloth diapering. I’m sure one exists but I feel like most of the ones I found exaggerate the amount disposable diapers cost in an attempt to push people towards cloth diapering (most moms I know will not be paying full-price for name-brand disposable diapers).  It IS safe to say that it’s undoubtedly cheaper to cloth diaper. That much I know. We spent a total of $170.00 on our cloth diaper system – that was for a total of 18 diapers, 50 inserts, three wet bags (one large, two small), a drying rack and a large container of the detergent needed to wash the diapers. Minus our $100.00 gift card it cost us $70.00 for a permanent system of diapering. I’m sure that over time I’ll have to replace a diaper or two but, the money saved over the course of a few years and multiple kids in diapers will add up significantly.

2) Variety: The selections are abundant and CUTE. Oh my word. In addition to an array of solid colors and great prints and patterns you can get different snap styles and a lot of different types of inserts (bamboo, hemp, bamboo charcoal, microfiber, fleece, suede). For your viewing pleasure I’ve created a small gallery of some of the prints.

3) Durability/Quality: With spending only about $5.00 per diaper this was obviously my biggest concern. These diapers really did  exceed my expectations. They’re well-made and properly sewn. I chose the microfiber lined diapers with microfiber inserts and purchased a total of 18 diapers (two bundles of solid colors and one bundle of prints off Amazon) and have been throughly pleased over the last month that I’ve used them.

Thanks to the double-row of snaps I’m able to adjust the diapers for a snugger fit –  because Evie is a longer/leaner baby the second row of snaps allows for a tighter fit around only semi-chubby thighs (on the blue diaper you can better see the second row of snaps I’m referring to) which has led to very minimal problems with leaking (more on that below). The diapers are easy to stuff – for nighttime I put two inserts in Evie’s diaper – depending how often she wakes up to nurse either 1 or 2 double-stuffed diapers take her a full twelve hours (she wakes 1-2 times to nurse over that twelve-hour period). During the day, when the diapers only have one insert, I change her every 2-3 hours and we don’t have trouble with leaking.


My single “con” regarding Alvababy diapers would be in regards to their quality control. Both bundles of solid color diapers came with 12 inserts – we were also given some inserts as a shower gift before she was born which led us having 40 inserts before my patterned diapers/inserts even arrived.

This turned out to be in our favor. Dun dun dun.

Pictured: The inserts I received with the solid-color diapers (on bottom) and the ones that came with my patterned diapers.



I tried the smaller, rounded inserts out of curiosity (expecting they would probably leak) and, sure enough, they did. As you can see in this picture below they don’t even match the shape of the diaper! Since I only received six of the small inserts (and we already had so many) I didn’t bother mailing them back –  I just assumed Alvababy meant to gift me some cleaning rags in addition to the patterned diapers😉.

From reviews that I’ve read Alvababy does seem to have a good return policy – if this happened with a larger shipment of diapers or inserts it doesn’t seem there would be a problem returning/exchanging them. I’m glad that I did receive some of both inserts – if all my diapers had smaller inserts I would probably have returned all assuming the entire brand was poor quality.


4) Care: My other great fear with cloth diapering was the amount of time I expected to spend on them. It’s true that cloth diapers take more time than disposable diapers BUT it’s a difference of maybe one hour a week? Even with only 18 diapers (which is on the low-end of “suggested amounts”) I only have to do a load of diapers every other day. Evie uses 1-2 diapers at night and 5-7 during the day which means we have plenty to only wash diapers 3x a week (sidenote: cloth diapering a newborn, which I did NOT do, would equal more frequent washing, more staining due to meconium and more stuffing because of the smaller inserts needed. It’s totally doable but just a FYI that this review/estimations are what I’ve found as a cloth diapering mom who started with a five-month old).

I pre-washed my diapers/inserts  3x before using them the first time – reviews I read said that absorbency increases each time until the 8th wash. I didn’t notice a distinct difference but…at least my diapers were extremely clean😉.

When diapers are soiled I separate the insert and diaper and put both pieces in a large wet bag I have hanging next to the changing table (I have small wet bags for the diaper bag when we’re out). I haven’t found it necessary to do any soaking or pre-washing for my diapers (occasionally, for a really messy one I’ll wash it out. Note: have a pair of plastic gloves on hand).

For daily care I do a cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse with Charlie’s Soap (which smells weird but keeps detergents etc. from soaking into the diapers and lessening their absorbency). I DO wash my diapers, inserts and wet bags together – over the past month I haven’t noticed any problems with the diapers elasticity lessening etc. I tumble dry the inserts and line dry the diapers. Once dry, I stuff all the diapers – this is the most time-consuming part – but still takes less than ten minutes and re-fill the diaper bin. DONE for the next two days.

When it’s sunny out I put the diapers on the porch, on rainy days they dry in my living room. The sunshine helps keep them white (I have very light stains on 1-2 of my inserts but none on my diapers). They dry quickly and fully either location.

Diaper day!
Diaper day!

Like I said, it adds maybe an hour a week to my schedule? Three ten-minute periods of stuffing diapers. An extra thirty-seconds per diaper change to do up the snaps and maybe fifteen minutes spent putting diapers in the washer, transferring them to the dryer and hanging them on my drying rack. I spend more time per-week washing dishes than diapers.

Is cloth diapering for everyone? Nope. Should you feel guilty if you choose not to cloth diaper? No. Cloth diapering doesn’t make you a better parent it just keeps a little extra money in your pocket. If the tradeoff of extra work for extra money is worth it to you, do it! If not, don’t!  Either way you choose, I hope this review helped to answer some questions – if there’s anything I missed feel free to ask it below!

Cloth diaper booty – AHH!

In summary:

As Alvababy’s website promises: “check out our many colors and prints – bright colors bring happy and harmonious feeling to baby and make diapering enjoyable!”

The harmony these diapers have brought to my home is hard to find words for. Place your order today.

P.S. writing this post has made me realize how much I miss blogging. More please!