August 31, 2012

When baby sisters grow up

I still remember the day she was born.  I was wearing short white overalls and a navy blue shirt with my sunflower scrunchie as the perfect accessory for such an outfit.  Clearly, it was the nineties.  My Aunt picked me up from school and took me to the hospital to wait for whoever it was that was about to make their entrance into the world.

My parents waited to find out what they were having.  And unlike every one of my parents friends and our family, I did not think she was having a boy.  I was absolutely sure it was a girl.  Maybe it was because what I wanted more than anything, was a sister.

A few hours later it was finally time for me to go into the room.  I saw my mom holding this tiny little bundled up thing with a red scrunched up face.

"Jennifer, meet your baby sister," my mom said beaming. 

I squealed with delight.  I got my sister, the one I had wanted more than anything.  Holding her in my arms for the first time was something I'll never forget.  I don't know many thirteen year old's who get the honor of holding their younger sibling in their arms at that age.

That was eighteen years ago today.  Eighteen years.  My once baby sister is now a grown adult woman.  How surreal.

There have been times when both Laura and I have vocalized to each other how hard it is to have a sister so far apart in age.  It's come with its challenges as she's grown and now that I'm married with a child (soon to be children!) of my own.  I have seen where in my own adultness, I've done damage and hurt her precious heart.  I've done things and lived in ways that she hasn't understood, and in that, I wounded both her and our relationship.  I ache to share in more closeness and depth with my sister, and I also see where things still need to heal.  Where we are still growing, and in that, growing into a relationship with each other that God had intended for us to always have together.

For years I have observed my sister and I wasn't sure what to do with the reality of seeing how different we are.  She is very confident in who she is and what she likes.  She doesn't pretend to be into something just to have someone be accepting of her.  She is talented and artsy and silly.  She has a great appreciation for music and acting and drawing.  She has my dad's dry sense of humor and has Robin's facial expressions down to a "t."  She has her own style and quirks that make her uniquely her.

Yet we share the same blood, the same mother.  We share so much of the same story - just lived at very different times.  And we share a special woman - one that I call my Robin and one that she calls mom.  The woman who I will be forever grateful is present in my sister's life so that she has never known the void of not having a mother in her life.
Now, my baby sister, that little blanketed baby I held in my arms for the first time eighteen years ago today, is officially an adult.  A young woman.  And I couldn't be more proud, more honored and more thankful that God gifted me with her life for always.

Happy Birthday to my "baby" sister.  I love you so.

August 29, 2012

Makeshift Fridge - Day Three

Our kitchen is still in disarray and the fridge situation is still unresolved.  A friend of mine got it perfectly when she commented the other day and said, "Stupid fridge."  Because even though I'm trying to muster up some gratefulness, that attitude was better suited for Monday.

Today is Wednesday, and I'm still ice-chesting my eggs.

I stayed home sick yesterday and sipped on grape juice and chicken noodle soup and went in and out of napping mode the entire day because I seem to have some summer coldish thing which is now a fun cough.  

Last night there was tense conversation between Todd and I that sounded something like: what-the-heck-are-we-gonna-do-with-another-baby-and-how-on-earth-can-we-afford-this?  And: should-you-deliver-pizzas-again-and-how-long-can-I-keep-working?  And: omigoodness-we're-having-another-baby-and-why-does-this-feel-complicated-instead-of-simply-wonderful?


Then this morning came, as mornings always do.  I had to leave early to make it to my doctor's appointment which I was trying very hard to not be nervous over.  And just as I pulled out of my neighborhood, the sun was about to peek through the clouds.  

And I did what I normally do when there's a sunrise.  I pulled over and watched it come.  It's a miraculous thing - a beauty I never tire of seeing.  It seemed as though what I needed this morning was an early morning meeting with the Son.
And only an hour later, after I witnessed a dawn-filled sky turn amber and bright, I saw in the depths and darkness of my womb, another glimpse of our sweet baby.  The little one He is knitting and forming together inside of me, making fearfully and wonderfully as He does with all life.  What glorious tears I was able to cry.

So, this is life right now.  Chaotic and messy and in disarray.  Full of chicken soup and sneezes.  Tense conversations and tears and true, intimate, lasting deep relationship.  Much to be figured out and planned for.  Miraculous and amazing and abundantly full - all at the same time. 

August 27, 2012

Makeshift fridge

I could get angry about how the compressor in our refrigerator went out.


I could be grateful that we had ice chests to put all of the contents in to keep everything cold.
I could complain about the cost of having to buy a part to repair it and how it won't be here until Wednesday.


I could be grateful that my husband is handy and can fix anything - including our dead fridge.  And we won't have to buy a new fridge regardless, because even if it's unfixable, some friends told us that they would give us their old one.
I could gripe about having to bend over just to get milk for my bowl of cereal.


I could be grateful that we have milk and food in abundance in our house.
I could be irritated, frustrated and upset.  I could let it ruin my day or my week because it always feels like the smaller irritations of life are the things that do us in.


I could be grateful for what I have.  For where things work out even if it doesn't look like I want.  I could be thankful for what I've been given, for how long things last and go without need for replacement or repair.  I could see my blessings in abundance and how I am somehow always taken care of.
Today I am choosing to be grateful for my makeshift fridge, in all of it's chaos, on our kitchen floor.

August 24, 2012

What's around the bend?

It's a bittersweet day today.  One of my most favorite co-workers ever is working her last day with us and my heart hurts.  She's leaving so she can be a stay-at-home mom to her baby boy who is due to arrive very soon.  And I don't know if it hurts because of how much I'll miss her and how hard it will feel to work with someone new.  Or if it hurts because it brings up my own ache and longings for more and for change in my own life. 

When I look with hope into my own future, it's hard not to wonder what will be there.  I can't help but wonder if this is it.  If this is all there is for me in this life that I get to live.  If this is my life forever and if God could or will ever bring about the changes we have been so desperately hoping for.  Some days I feel only discouragement and then guilt over my own discontentment.

So much of me wants to be happy and content right where I am, right now.  I want to be a woman full of gratitude because I have been given so much.  My life is full, really.  But, it's the longings though - those unfulfilled places where you hope and ache and want.  It's on the days when you look change and more in the face for someone else, and it feels hard.  It's difficult to see what you still don't have, what you are still waiting for and where you still are. 

I don't know where I will continue to journey on this life.  I don't know if things will change as I hope or if they will turn unexpectedly into something else.  It seems as though God only knows as only He is supposed to. 

My hope is that on days like today where discouragement tries to weasel its way into my day and my life and fill me with questions and doubts.  And when discontentment tries to breed and make itself at home in my heart, that I can be filled with rest.  With hope.  And that I can have courage in the waiting.

Not because things will change or because I will suddenly get everything I'm wanting.  But because He has me.  Because He loves me and knows what is best.  Because His timing is usually right on even if I don't think so.

He knows what's around that bend.  And in time, I will too.

August 22, 2012

a new day

It was in the air this morning.  Hope, change, autumn's promise to come.

I could smell it.  I felt it dance through my freshly washed hair.  I breathed it in and remembered that mornings are when I feel His presence most. 

God is in sunrises and breezes and amber colored light.  They tell me that He is for me and with me.  That I don't have to fear.  That He has me in His hands.  He deeply cares for my heart and it's why He continues to romance with mornings that I've come to love and find Him in.

He was there in the words of my father and my step-mom.  After I asked for what I needed, they responded and reached out.  Gave me life-giving words and good reminders and all of it felt sweet and redeeming and left me in awe of God and how He does things.  How He heals relationships and brings restoration to damaged places.

Tonight me and my unborn will be prayed for by some dear friends.  I'm aware of how much I need it and what it means to have people come along side of me who see the importance of lifting others up in prayer and that I'm worthy of their time on a Wednesday night to do that.

I hold my growing tummy and wonder about who is inside.  What our story will be together as I carry my precious little one.  I catch myself daydreaming about looking at their newly born face and holding a precious bundle in my arms all over again.  Wondering how I will contain the fullness of what it might possibly be like to be the mother of two precious miracles.

I breathe, and smile and relax a bit.  It's a new day.  There is nothing to fear.  I am loved and cared for and held. 

It was in the air this morning.  Hope, change, autumn's promise to come.

August 21, 2012


One of my greatest fears is that I would have my mother's story.  That I would share her fate because I am so much like her and there is so much of her in me.

We share similar facial features and singing voices and handwriting.  We have the same passion for autumn and holidays and nature's beauty.  I have found her in my playfulness and how tenderhearted I am.  She is in my decorating and I hear her when I wear a pair of high heels, clicking through the kitchen before we leave for church.

Yet, I've long feared that someday I would face the things she had to face and make the same choices that she did.  Leaving a path of destruction and wounds to others.  Self destructing, leaving my children without a mother and with a web of lies they would battle for the rest of their lives.

I've been this way since she died twelve Decembers ago.  It's exhausting to live this deeply in fear though it's not always this intense.  Most days I believe that I am more.  That I am not her and that I won't share her story or her fate.  That there is a strength in me that she didn't have.  That I'm different, because I am.

But it was my mom's second child that changed everything.  It changed my story.  It changed our relationship.  It changed my parent's marriage.  My brother being born with so many needs, so many health problems.  I have often feared that I too would have a child like him.  And what would I do?  How would I handle it?  Would I neglect my firstborn like she did of me?  Would I be able to handle it and live through it?  Would my marriage erode?  Would it all finally do me in?

It's where I've been sitting for weeks.  Trying to take my fears to God but feeling no peace or rest about anything.  Begging him to let everything be okay.  Wondering what I would do if I lost this baby, if they were premature, if they were sick and needed special care.  I've been wrestling and struggling here.  And I know it's bad for my health and well-being and baby and yet I keep on in it all.

Fear and worry woke me up the night before last.  I felt panicked and scared.  Fear seems to be following me around, robbing me of the joy I have of carrying life in me again.  And God's voice seems to be getting lost in all of my anxiety and worry.

I don't really know what to do with any of this.  It's where I am but far from where I want to be. 

And because I write about my journey and the parts that I often wish weren't part of it, this was something I needed to put into writing.

August 20, 2012


I'm always changing something in my house.  Rearranging and moving things around.  Perhaps I have this constant need for a change of scenery, but it seems as though I can never let things be for too long.

Over the weekend, I took down my wall of crosses (to be relocated elsewhere) and replaced it with a shelf.  Just a simple change really.
But  it made for dramatic effect.  I love how it looks.
Though now I have to find something new for the end table I swiped my pitcher of hydrangeas from.  Decorating is a never-ending process.  There is always, always something to tweek.

August 15, 2012

For who he is

Change came when I faced the truth.  When I sat honestly with the ugliness and selfishness of my heart. Change came when I realized that loving someone is hard sometimes.  And it came when I was able to see that I hadn't been loving him well at all. 

What was true was that I was at fault.  I had failed him, I had let him down.

Love him for who he is, not who you want him to be.

That was truth.  I can't remember now if I read it or pinned it or someone spoke it to me.  But it penetrated my heart and it shook me to my core and I knew it was something God wanted me to really hear.

I had been so stuck in this place of wanting more.  Wanting more out of our life together.  Wanting more out of my own life.  Wanting him to be more of that and less of this.  In all of my desires for more, which I believe started out as good, discontentment was born and then bitterness set in.  I ended up losing sight of him.  I lost us.  And we almost lost our marriage.

But change came.  It came when I started observing him - how he loved me. His love for me is visible and it's something I can touch.  It shows up in painted shelves and a clean garage and dishes washed because he knows that I hate to do them.  I felt gratitude that I could see proof of his love for me. 

Gratitude ended up being what I needed most when I found myself wanting to be done.  Finding thankfulness for what I had, for who he was, for what we did have together.  For knowing that he could have left and quit long before I began thinking about it.  It was gratitude that began to melt away the coldness of my heart.

I put aside all of my wants for more and different.  When I did that, it was as if I was able to see again.  

Love him for who he is, not who you want him to be.

My husband is so much.  He is kind and gentle.  He uses his words to lift me up and encourage me.  He is silly and fun and because of that, he frees me to be my quirky self.  He is quiet and thoughtful, caring and generous.  He is genuine and appreciates the genuine, real side of people.  He speaks when it's important, when his words are needed.  He accepts my invitations to play and laugh and dance and let loose.  He helps to calm my fears and stills my worries.  He cares and provides.  He works hard and is full of integrity.  He's handsome and dreamy and I still look at him sometimes and catch my breath because I remember he's mine.

And it's true that there are many things that he isn't.  I'm sure he could say the same for me.  We are both on a journey to be more of who God created us to be and we are far from it still.

But it was being able to see all the things that he was that ended up changing us and where we were.  It took us to feeling like we were at our end, to a new start. And somehow, it was my seeing that seemed to bring him back to life again.

Things have changed.  They're different.  We are different.  And there has been more.

The baby I'm carrying is proof of the more we've been enjoying together.  My heart swells and my eyes brim with tears at God's timing for us.  For a baby to be the finale of such a season to have gone through together and to be the beginning of something else.

Somehow in surrendering to my desires for the more that I was so desperately wanting, I'm very aware that all of a sudden, we have it.

August 13, 2012

Less is more

It's been a struggle to write lately.  I've decided it's because I don't feel like myself at all - it's as if I'm only a version of me right now.   Pregnancy does that I suppose.  Between  my lethargy and my crazy emotions and not being able to wear my cute clothes anymore (and already) I'm just not myself.

The scorching August heat doesn't help either.  Oh fall, please come.

There are parts of me that feel more "under control" most of the time, but they ooze out because of excessive hormones and tiredness and who knows why really.  Like how I hate having my picture taken all of a sudden because I'm self-conscious.   How I'm over-reacting to situations that I could normally talk myself down from.  And complaining about everything so much that I actually end up annoying myself. 

Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Pregnancy is a small amount of time, and all of it is gloriously miraculous.  I'm ecstatic to be with child and I don't want to sound complainy.   But like I said, I simply don't feel like me.

I'm not a "here's my pregnant belly" week-by-week kind of writer.  Nor am I a hard-core mommy blogger either.  I have things to say about both pregnancy and motherhood, just not every day.  Or every week.  It's just not my style.

All that to say, there's been less of me showing up here to write.  And there will probably continue to be less in the coming months.  In a way it feels like a quiet season for me.  To focus on taking care of myself, body and spirit.  Of waiting and hoping and resting.

In the meantime, I'll be reading and growing a baby and dreaming.  And I'll come to write on the days that feel just right.

August 10, 2012


Days like today where the heat comes down hard, I find myself wondering what it might be like to live somewhere that's cooler.  Where winter is what lasts long instead of summer.  Every August I'm ready for a cool down.  And every August I'm reminded that I have to wait until at least October before any real relief.

Clearly, I've still been daydreaming about fall decor and pumpkin pie and scarves. 

Butterscotch pudding.  It's what this baby wants when I have a sweet tooth.  Thankfully it's not terrible for me.

Last night I attended a women's ministry "brainstorming" meeting.  They wanted to pick the young married and young mom's brains about what our needs and wants our when it comes to focusing on ministering to the women of the church.  The theme of the night echoed again and again by the women present, was deep, intimate connection.  A longing to simply "do life" with a few other people.  All of it made my heart sing and reminded me that God has me exactly where He wants me.

I got a raise this week at work.  Very, very exciting.  And a huge blessing for us.

The weekend for me includes: Wreath-making, maternity clothes shopping, my step-mom's Mary Kay debut party, fajitas with my family, my cousin's bridal shower, and maybe-hopefully a trip to the movies to see the new Bourne flick. 

Don't ask me about next weekend though.  All I have to say about that, is  pregnancy is incredibly wonderful and amazing.  But it's SO not glamorous.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to enjoy my Friday. 


August 8, 2012


I saw the most glorious thing today.

The heartbeat of my second child.  The fast beating of life growing within my womb.

My baby.

I'm going to be a mommy all over again come March of next year.  In many ways, it feels too good to be true.

I've cleaned out the second bedroom and am already thinking of nursery ideas.  My closet has been organized with my maternity clothes and tops that will work for my growing tummy.  I'm resting and taking it easy.  Peeing every five seconds.  And craving butterscotch pudding?

I'm excited, scared, a bit anxious and completely thrilled that we are adding another precious life to our family.

A few months ago, I prayed for God's best.  For what He wanted for our family and that I would be at peace and have joy with whatever that looked like.  And July 7th when I took a pregnancy test, He answered with a resounding yes to another baby. we go again!

August 6, 2012

Why this?

Let me start by saying that it is not my heart or desire to stir up controversy or arguments, though maybe it's inevitable because of the nature of what I've written.  I hope we can remember kindness and grace for ALL.  Including my humble opinions that I'm risking to post on my little blog today....

I'm one of those people that "amen's" in church.  I hear truth and it stirs something in my soul and I agree, out loud.  It's what I do.  I probably got this from my Grandfather and my dad.  My lineage is made up of passionate believers and I'm no exception.  I have encountered my Savior in the depths of my heart and He has changed me.  This is what leads me to amen, to cry during a worship song, to write down questions when I hear something in a message that I don't understand or agree with.

To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with the church.  I know that I need to be a part of it, yet it's hard to be a part of it too because often times it leaves me feeling empty or disappointed or sad.  I find myself often not wanting to be affiliated with "religious" or "churchy" people, because I have found those kind of people either life-less or shaming.  And I want to be neither.

Yet I go because I love God.  Because He has invited me to consider church-going more than just something to do or get, but someone to be.  I don't just go to church.  I am the church.

Even though I am an "amen-er," I don't go to an amen-ing kind of church.  Just as an observer, it seems as though for the most part, people stay silent.  Amazing truth can be preached and declared and there is little or no reaction.

Yesterday's church service was different.  The pastor preached on marriage and when he declared that marriage was between one man and one woman, the church nearly erupted with amen's. Immediately I felt myself become furiously angry.  Not because I disagreed, but because my silent, seemingly passionate-less church, was amen-ing.  They haven't amen-ed anything else, but this?

The one man, one woman = marriage thing?  This, they amen?  This, they affirm?  This, they are passionate about?  Why this?  I simply don't understand.  Perhaps, this is what the world, the unbelieving, doesn't understand either.

And my fury turned soft and became great sorrow.

Maybe the world sees that the church has no real  passion or fervor or love for God.  When it comes to traditional marriage - this we stand by and become vocal about?  We stay silent and unmoved by poverty, by orphans and widows - all which Jesus made clear we were to take care of and minister to.  We have nothing to say to the imprisoned, the lost and the lonely.  We offer little to the hopeless, the depressed, the addicted and the oppressed.  The world is full of hurting, hungry, lonely, abused and abandoned people.  And where are we?

We have shown up in the masses to a fast food chain to take a stand for something.  This is what we show up to support.  This is what we amen in church.  Because this is what really matters? 

All of this confuses me.  Grieves me.

I can't help but feeling like we're missing something here.  Is our passion in the right place?  If the world doesn't see our passion for God and for others, if the world doesn't experience love and grace through us, then why would they listen or consider our beliefs on marriage?  Especially when we have failed them everywhere else.

We've stayed silent and quiet and motionless about every other thing.  And when we finally speak up, it's too little too late.  It seems like we have lost our ability to have any real impact.

Me personally, I struggle here.  I struggle with what the Bible does and doesn't say.  And unless I've missed something, Jesus never addressed homosexuality specifically during His ministry and I'm curious about that.  I struggle with knowing where to land, how to be, and what to say. 

Where would He be in this mess?  How would He speak in to all of this chaos?  This is what I've been curious about and where my prayers have been.  A friend of mine posted a scripture on his Facebook wall last week in response to some of the controversy going on:

2 Timothy 2:23-25 - "But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth..."

Will others know truth if we are in the middle of foolish and ignorant disputes?  Will others know His love if we are quarreling?  What would gentleness and humility look like here?

I think that maybe I lean towards the side of over-extending grace and compassion.  I want to be accepting and loving of others regardless of their sexual orientation.  And that is because of my heart - the heart He made, the heart He is mending, the heart He continues to change.   I really don't know where I stand here, what I believe, and what I'm supposed to do with all of this - with gay marriage, homosexuality, etc.  Honestly, I feel more convicted and sorrowful about my lack of involvement in helping the poor and the needy and the orphan than I do about whether or not our next President supports gay marriage.

I just know that I want to love others and live a life that reflects the grace that I've been extended by God.  I want to show up how He wants me to and I'm still figuring out what that is supposed to look like.

And for me, it was not standing in line for my favorite chicken sandwich.

August 1, 2012

Hello August

It's my least favorite month of all.

It's the hottest.
It's the longest.
It's the least eventful.

Its the start up of school which just means heavy morning traffic again after a summer of easy commutes.

I've simply never been a fan of August and all of the blazing summer that comes with it.

Though this August is a bit different. 
There's some excitement buzzing in the air.

Two wedding showers.
A baby shower.
A secret that needs telling.
A handful of birthdays.

Including my "baby" sister who turns a whopping EIGHTEEN.

And then there's a wedding to end it all the day after August comes to a close.

Maybe this will be an August like no other.

Happy first to you.