Tuesday, May 3, 2016


At this moment, I am wife, mother, daughter, teacher, but I never stop being a mourner. I never stop thinking of you.  Imagining  you. Wondering what you would be like.  This doesn’t add or subtract from my love for your siblings. Instead it reflects my empty space. The hole you left in my heart.  We will always be a family missing a member.  It never ends. It lessens, eases, but it doesn’t leave. Here in this moment I am overwhelmed with longing for you.  It will pass, life will move on, but here and now you are close. The pain is close. The wings of grace which cover us will lift and fall, and we will continue on. You will go with us.  Always with us.  Never truly gone.   Grieving you is like breathing.  The reality of the pain resides deep inside. Planted and solid. A part of my being.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thankful for the rough

Lately life has been busy. Exhausting, overwhelming, constant stress busy. A baby, a three year old, life, change, finances, relationships, merely existing takes more energy than I sometime have. This is the eye of the storm. I am in the thick of my motherhood journey, and there are days when I am not sure I have what it takes.

Those moments used to break me, but now I find myself reveling in them. Not because I enjoy exhaustion, or am some strange sadistic Cinderella, but because those moments are a reflection of the blessing that have been poured out on us. When our children are both crying, the house is a disaster and I can't remember when I last showered, my husband will smile and remind me how hard I prayed for this.

I begged for the opportunity to build up these little people. God had to break me down and remake me. I had to learn to trust and be humble. I had to have my definition of success be replaced by His. The most important job I have is to raise these children. What an honor, and overwhelming responsibility.

Here, in the thick of it, I have found myself amazed at what trust God must have in us. My patience is short, my wit isn't as quick as it once was, my hair isn't done, I live in yoga pants and my successes are measured in love given and character molded. These two little people will be my greatest mission field. They are my greatest chance to spread the love of God.

In a few days, I will add working back to my mother title. There will be hectic mornings, and adjustment tears. I will struggle to find balance and energy. I am so thankful for the roughness of this time, because it forces me to humbly admit that I can't do it alone. I need Jesus everyday. I need Him to calm my anxious heart, and guard my tongue. I need Him to give me wisdom to discipline with grace and love. I need Him to
guide us as we enter a time of transition.

The small hearts Mothers are entrusted with are the most precious things we will ever hold. Protecting them, breathing love into them, filling them with God's perfect love is the greatest calling I have. I am thankful for the roughness of real love. For the laundry, dishes, tantrums, and cuddles are small stepping stones on our journey towards building a lasting legacy.

My Mother stood in the rough alone, but for the grace of God she may not have been able to love us all as much as she did. My Grandmother stood in the rough, and prayed for us before we were born. I am their legacy, I pray I can show my children the same kind of unconditional love that mirrors the great love of our Savior.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I am not responsible for my kid's happiness

Lately I have been annoyed with myself, and Christmas has highlighted my major issue.  Somehow, someway, I decided to be responsible for my children's happiness. I took on the task of ensuring they felt loved, adored and well, happy. This madness reached it's zenith when my three year old son tragically threw himself on the couch and told me, "I don't love you!" because I was nursing his sister and therefore unable to play cars.

It wasn't always like this. When Harry was younger I deliberately didn't play with him all the time. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of playing with my kid. I don't really want to. Now, I do like to do a craft or cook or read, and generally have conversations with him. I don't like to play hot wheels, or super heroes or whatever else he wants me to drop everything for. I used to be really good at saying no, but then. Well then I lost my second son at 20 weeks.

When Teddy died, I gave into this feeling that I had to make Harrison feel loved all the time. I was guilty about how the death of his brother and my ensuing recovery and grief stole me from him. I was determined to make it up to him. I threw myself into making him happy. We played and played, when he was upset we talked it out, we practice positive parenting, we did time ins, I praised him to give him positive attention. It all worked, my son was happy. The transition to a sister was bumpy, but we praised him, and talked about feelings and did time ins and he is happy. Harper is happy. Justin and I are tired.

I recently came across thisblog post by Jen Hatmaker, and the sun shined upon and I was made wise. I can't think of a single time my Mom played with me, or worried about my happiness. She cared for my needs, she cooked, baked, did crafts, watched movies and took me on special trips. She made sure I was loved and cared for, but she didn't manage my happiness.

I wasn't entertained, in fact I was sent off to entertain myself. No way would I tell her I was bored, who knew what gnarly chore I would get stuck with. If I was angry and went to my room to pout, fine, and I better be ready to apologize for my sassy attitude. My Mom was worried about me as an adult. She was trying to feed and clothe me, and she for sure wasn't giving me time ins. In fact, I remember being told to get outside or I would be in trouble. My cousin and I were often told to ask for stuff at the screen and not enter.

If Nicole and I, who are less than a year apart and lived across the street from one another, had a fight no one interfered. We wouldn't have dreamed of telling our Mom's about it. We worked it out.  I spent hours playing by myself, welcome to being seven years younger than your siblings, and I had fun. I developed a great imagination, which led to me being an adult who can think outside of the box and problem solve. Oh, and I can imagine how awful something may be and have empathy.  I developed a serious book obsession, and grew up to be an English teacher.

The point is, I was and am happy. This is pretty amazing considering some intense family drama that surrounded my childhood. Newly sober Dad reappears at 7 and "surprises" you at your Grandfather's funeral? Check Step-Dad gets so angry that he often screams, yells and throws things? Check. Father and Step-Father are masters in manipulation and emotional abuse? Check.  Fear of abandonment? Check. I had issues. Much larger and nastier issues than my kids will, and you know what, I was happy.

My Mom kept a roof over my head, food in my belly, clean clothes on my back and sheets on my bed. I came home to a clean and organized home and I always knew that I was loved. I was safe. There was routine and respect and love. We discussed the big feelings. I can't imagine how hard it was for my Mom to explain the return of a father that I believed was a fairy tale, was back and wanted a relationship with me. She then had to respect my decision and communicate to him that I didn't want said relationship, all while helping my older sister foster and build a relationship.  FYI, neither of our choices led to eternal happiness.

Nothing we do leads to eternal happiness. If I become responsible for my kid's happiness than I fail to train up adults who can find happiness in the darkest of circumstances. Yet, society tells me that if I let my kid be bored, I am not a good mom. If I don't play with him, then I am "wasting this fleeting time." If I focus on cleaning my house and getting dinner on the table, then we aren't "making memories." I feel guilty for choosing to sit down, for the first time all day, and read my book. My husband and I have been known to drop what we are doing to ensure my son feels heard and respected. I would have been told to wait respectfully.

After all of this introspective analysis of my parenting style and it's effect on my children's future happiness, also something I am sure my Mother never did, I am ceding the responsibility of my kids happiness to them. I will be responsible for their well-being, health, manners, accepting age appropriate responsibility, and generally not raising them to be annoyingly selfish jerks.

This means that they will be bored and sad. They will have to fix issues themselves, and sometimes the problems will be big and they will really hurt and it will kill me to stand back and see what happens. This means I must provide them with tools towards success instead of running ahead to ensure success.

We have been practicing this new philosophy for a week. My son is still sitting around telling me he is bored and giving me sad eyes. Tonight, while I was making dinner and his Dad was watching the game, he went to his room to pout and came out three times to make sure we knew he was in there pouting. This is a new reality for him, and I feel terrible for changing it. I want to rush in and talk it out and make sure he feels better, but I can't. I am too tired. Just when I thought I would go and check on him, he came running down the hall with his monster truck. He was lost in some grand adventure. He needs me to leave him alone even if he doesn't know it yet, besides, if he needs someone to provide him constant attention and play with him nonstop, he can always go to my Mom. She would move heaven and earth and to make him happy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Gospel of Hate

I am currently struggling with the gospel of hate. The rampant call to fear and hate those who are different than us is overwhelming my senses. It is on the news, in social media, within friend and familial relationships, on bumper stickers and signs and in every day conversations. "They", fill in the blank, are wrong, different, dangerous, racist, liars, manipulative, over-educated, under-educated, lacking patriotism, terrorists, evil, lazy, mentally ill, and on and on and on. "We", fill in the blank, are righteous, patriotic, honest, protecting our nation, hard-working, real Americans, healthy, right, Christians, and on and on and on. The point is that there is an us and a them. They are dangerous and must be stopped. We should be afraid, angry and fighting. If we do not wake up and take charge, then they will overwhelm us and destroy all we love. This makes me fear for my babies, for their future. Will they be an us or a them? Will they be on the right or wrong side? Will those people get to them and hurt them? How can I protect them?

This wears me down. The constant noise. The repeating of statements and manipulation of soundbites. I don't just hear it in the media, but in my everyday life. The political memes, articles, and angry statuses. The invitations to join this or that movement. The constant cruelty makes me tired. People are proselytising hate,committed to the gospel of digging in and building up walls of anger, bitterness, jealousy and fear. It is so easy to get caught up and join in. 

The world IS changing. The world IS a mess. The world HAS always been that way. The world IS supposed to be that way. We live in a broken society.  If our society wasn't broken, we wouldn't need salvation. There is a sick nostalgia that tells us that the world used to be perfect, it used be everything we wanted it to be, but now, now it is Babylon. Buying into this lie is dangerous. The Bible is a long catalog of a broken and sinful world. It was perfect in Eden, pre-apple, pre-banishment, pre-sin, but from that point on the world was and is sick. If it wasn't than why would we need salvation? When you glorify the past, you eliminate the need for Jesus. 

As a christian in this messy world we are called to change things. "We" are the lucky ones who have found salvation and been forgiven. If we respond to the call to hate, if we divide ourselves into "them" and "us" we will change things. We will create more division, we will be in a world that caters to our concept of right and justice, we will be surrounded by people who agree with us and support the same things. We will feel righteous and correct, leading charges to exclude and eliminate those who don't fit into our mold of those who deserve salvation. This is what happens when we put ourselves in the way of salvation. 

The messy world is built off selfish human desires. We are built to hate and divide. We bring that into the world. It is our natural inclination to selfishly protect ourselves and those we love. It is easy to rationalize our actions and cling to our petty justifications. We don't have to forgive, we don't have to engage, we don't have to interact with "them" and can give a hundred reasons why. Christ's love is the opposite of this. His salvation rises above our selfish desires, goes beyond our hate. The love we are offered is unconditional and all encompassing. In return we are asked to reflect that love back to the world. That is how we change the world. Not by embracing their gospel of hate, but by countering that with the more powerful gospel of love. 

"Beloved, let us love one another. For love is from God, and anyone that loves is born of God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God. For God is love." 1 John 4:7-8

If you can't love, you don't know God, because God is love.  We are called to love. Not those who are who like us, not just those who agree with us, but everyone. 

"Owe nothing to anyone-except your obligation to love one another. For he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law" Romans 13:8

"Love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:31

Clearly, love is the major motif here. Love, isn't limited to a certain group or cause. Neighbor isn't clearly explained. We are simply called to love. This is hard. It is the exact opposite of our instincts. Our nature cries out against it. How can we love those we fear? Why would we seek to love someone who hurt us, or another person we love? It can't be possible to combat the chaos and hatred we encounter on a daily basis. God is asking too much of us.

He really is. We, the fleshly selfish beings we are, cannot possibly be expected to do more than embrace the gospel of hate. We will categorize people and remember their wrongs. In some cases we actively seek to vilify those we do not understand or know. In some instances churches support this by "educating" their congregations on the dangers of one group or another.  We are weak. I am one of the weakest. I love judging people. I am super good at it. I love to think about what they have done wrong and mull over the ways they are inferior to me. I can easily list all the reasons I don't have to forgive someone, and why I am justified in my opinion that they are dumb.

So how do I, an embracer of the gospel of hate, learn to love so that I may know God and fulfill His law? It is rough, but here are some steps that have helped me shift towards the Gospel of Love.

1. Surrender: I suck at loving. I can't do it on my own. I have to actively seek God. Sometimes He pushes me to love at moments I really don't want to. Recently I have watched someone's actions truly hurt my Mother. I really wanted to bring down the Gospel of Hate. REALLY WANTED TO, but just as I was gearing up, a small voice told me to pray. Not for them, but for me. To ask God to help me surrender my anger and allow Him to teach me to forgive and love this person. I am currently praying this daily.

2. Walk Around in their Shoes: In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells Scout she can't understand other people until she walks around in their shoes. He is sharing wisdom for us all. Atticus couldn't imagine a world where we all walk around looking at screens and never in our neighbors eyes. Social media makes us forget that we are all humans. It makes it easy to judge, we are never at risk of stepping into another pair of shoes. Yet, we all need to do this. A few days ago I read some truly hateful comments on an article about a former student who is transgender. I was heartbroken. I have walked beside this person. I know they have feelings and dreams. In them I see my own children. We all need to put down the screens and start walking in the shoes of our fellow humans.

3. Love those who hurt us the most:  I have a relative who has made some shockingly poor choices. Those choices have upended the lives of my entire family. It has ripped what was a solid family unit apart. Sides have been chosen, lines have drawn, siblings don't speak to one another and it all boils down to one person's choice. This makes them hard to love. I don't want to. Again and again I find myself having to surrender to God. Having to pray. Having to fight against my basic human nature. I have to choose to believe that God will fix our family. His love is powerful enough to save all of us.

4. Faith: If we believe the world is a broken horrible place and we are called to change that place, then we must have faith that God's love is powerful enough to overwhelm our base natures and transform us into reflections of His loving salvation. The impossible becomes possible when the Holy Spirit is allowed to pour out love through us. Only then can we meet people where they are, love them for who they are and not expect them to change.

5.Do Something: God has been challenging me, not to sit at home and write a blog, but to go out and actively love. This means actively praying for God to create oppurtunities for His love to shine through me. It means embracing the idea that I don't have to understand or agree with someone to love them. I am still struggling to follow this call to humble myself and wash the feet of my neighbor. The other day I made myself go across the street and check on neighbor. I had to make myself do this, because I am busy and the baby was tired and it was rainy and I didn't want to try. God kept working on me. He answered my prayer to embrace chances to show love.

The Gospel of Hate is powerful and seductive. We all have been ardent missionaries spreading the message wherever we go. Luckily, The Gospel of Jesus is more powerful. This Christmas season, let's all try to be missionaries by spreading the message of God's unconditional love wherever we go. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


7 is the number of years I waited for my family to be complete.
7 is the number of times I thought I was pregnant.
7 is the amount of clomid rounds I did.
7 is the time I checked in for Teddy's delivery.
7 is the number of years we were married when Harper was born.
7 is the age Ashley was when she lived with us.
7 is the number of hours I pushed with Harrison
7 years is how long Egypt was in famine
7 days is how long it took God to create the Earth
7 years is how long Jacob worked for Rachel (and then 7 more after being tricked)
7 years is how long the Israelites were given to the Midians
7 years is how long it took to build Solomon's Temple
7 years is how long David had to wait to be crowned the King of Israel

It feels as if we have come out of a desert. We spent the past seven years focused on creating our family, and now we have the rest of our lives to build that family up. I was unsure that we would ever be at this point. For a long time, I was angry and bitter and sad.  I have been amazed and awestruck and astounded. My heart has been taken from me. I know now what real sorrow is. I also know happiness like I have never know before. I understand contentment. Patience has a new meaning. Life has slowed down and sped up at the same time.

Love is what we relied on when it was dark.
Love is not as simple as we thought it was.
Love is what kept us going.
Love is harder than I thought it was.
Love is what God showed me when I didn't deserve it.
Love is what our friends and family poured out on us.
Love is discipline and hard choices
Love is choosing to let go of what you want
Love is giving you child a peaceful death
Love is the sound of your little boy running to hug you
Love is the smile your baby gives when you kiss her
Love is the exhausted husband who stayed up so you can sleep
Love is the Mom who comes to help because you are her baby
Love is a God who gives us all this when we don't deserve it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tag Me Out Bro!

Today has been one of those Mama days. I have said "No", "What are you doing?", "Don't do that" "Why did you do that?", "Did you poop your pants?", "Why did you spread applesauce all over yourself?", "No, you cannot stand on the sit and spin.", "If you put your drill in your mouth it will hurt", "I am right here". You get the point. Add to that my son's inability to be less than six inches from me all day, no nap, intense back pain, a cat who is somehow always under my feet and a husband who is working hard to redo the kitchen cabinets and I am in that place.

I am eating peanut butter sandwich crackers and drinking a Pepsi. I put on the second movie and placed my son in front of it. I am sitting on a yoga ball that leaves me two inches too short for this desk and I am pretty sure that smell is me. The sink is full of dishes, and there is a pile of yet more vegetables that I need to freeze or can or throw out the window. I emptied half the dishwasher before realizing the dishes weren't clean. I have had to wash poop out of clothes.   Adulting has become too hard. I want to be tagged out pro-wrestling style.

My doppelganger can come in and I will go to hotel. One with a fancy lobby and rooms with incredible beds and super soft robes. Wearing the robe, I will read a book and order room service. I could spend sometime reveling in the silence. I could go to the bathroom by myself. I wouldn't need long. Twenty four hours would be enough.

Thanks to the glory of my Mom's group, I know that I am not alone. Other Mamas feel this too. They are also biting back the scream as they tell their child to not do something for the thousandth time. They feel the guilt that comes with your child wanting nothing but you and you wanting nothing but ten minutes to breath. They know that you can feel this overwhelmed and still revel in the wonder that is bed time snuggles. You can love being a Mom and still need to scream sometimes.

So scream, go into the bedroom, close the door and let loose. Dance to a song your kids probably shouldn't hear. Group text your Mom friends. Call your sister. Call your Mama, and pray she will take the kid for awhile. You may smell and your t-shirt is gross, but lipstick goes with anything. Know we are all in it with you. If you don't know other Mom's send me a message.  Adulting is hard. No one should do it alone.

Today was rough, but my kid is alive. I remembered to eat something and keep the baby growing. At some point I think I kissed my husband. I will give the cat some soft food to make up for all the stepping on. Now I will put on some headphones and listen to Sondheim while my kid watches one more episode of the Bob the Builder. Stay strong fellow Mama. I got your back.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tonight I Cry

I miss my son. As we prepare our home for our daughter, I find myself missing him more and more. Missing him doesn't negate excitement for her. It is just complicated and hard. Sometimes I have to cry. The pain doesn't go away. It lessens, but it doesn't leave.

Tonight it hurts, and I am crying for a myriad of reasons. There are so many women in the same place. Miscarriage is shockingly common, but we as a society tend to turn away from it. For the parents, the families, turning away isn't an option. They will always miss their child.

Tonight I am mourning my son. I am cursing Ancephaly and how it took his life. At the same time, my daughter is kicking me, reminding me she is healthy, my rainbow after the flood. In the room next to us, their older brother sleeps and reminds me that I have already been given a miracle.

Tonight I am praying for all the parents who have lost a child. I am hoping that they are as blessed with support as we are. I am asking God to comfort them as He has comforted is. I am wishing for a day when miscarriage is something that we can freely discuss.

I miss my son, I am excited for my daughter, and delighted to be the Mother of my three year old miracle baby. God is with me. He is beside me and will comfort me. It is complicated, painful and incredible all at once.