March 29, 2013


Perhaps we are all given a certain measure of strength or adrenaline or ability to travel down the paths that we find ourselves on.  Whatever challenges face us, somehow we live them and get through them even if we find ourselves sobbing in the shower or not making it out of our pajamas until 4:00 in the afternoon.  Aren't we all on a road that in some ways feels hard for us?  Whatever unique circumstances beset us, we have to endure some kind of challenge.

Lately, I have found myself to be the recipient of comments like, "Wow, you are superwoman!"  Or, "I don't know how you're doing it!"  Or, "You are so brave and courageous for what you're doing right now." 

And I don't know what to do with those comments, because I find myself bristling at them and rising up with contempt, or just wanting to break down and cry.  They don't feel true.

Being Superwoman is laughable - because Superwoman wouldn't have fed her three year old yogurt and graham crackers for dinner last night because she didn't have any energy to fight the familiar "eat what is on your plate" fight.  I feel anything but brave and courageous - more like wrecked and weary.  And how am I doing this?  I'm not really.  If I show up anywhere dressed and look put together with two children in tow, it's because the stars have magically aligned themselves to make that happen.  And God bless my friends, because if I'm out and about I have NO problem handing off the baby to be held or fed or sending Tommy with someone else to go potty.

I cannot do it all.  I'm not supposed to do it all.  We are not created to be able to do it all.

What is true is that I cry.  I cry EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.  I cry and I weep and I pray and ask God to somehow get me through another day because I'm exhausted and I deeply miss my husband and doing life all by myself is hard, hard, hard.  I still think God is nuts for thinking that I would be up to this - caring for a newborn AND Tommy, AND selling a house, AND healing from a c-section, AND doing everything without Todd here.  What is true is that I've been able to do what I needed to do to my house to get ready to sell is because I've had to.  I've had no choice but to carry on and somehow my body has cooperated to get it all done - even with recovery and lack of sleep. 

What's true is that I feel weak and needy and a mess. 

Somehow, I'm getting through this.  Maybe because this was the path that God has set out for me long ago.  Maybe because He shapes all of us and prepares and equips us for the challenges and hurdles that life will contain.  I've learned much of my neediness, of my weakness and my desperate glorious need to depend on Him for all things.  It's how I've seen this journey - an invitation to know Him more deeply and intimately in my places of weakness.  I don't feel like I'm getting through this picture-perfectly and I don't think I'm supposed to.  Perhaps that's why it feels hard for others to observe me that way.  I think the point is to get through this completely and solely dependent on the God who has called me and readied me for this.  And to know that it's going to look messy, and that it will probably look like more yogurt dinners and baby hand-off's to friends.

I've met Jesus sobbing in the shower and cleaning out my closets and sitting up at 3am feeding my baby.  I've met Jesus after losing it with Tommy - I've been short or just plain mean and I've had to go back and apologize and ask his forgiveness. 

Every day contains a measure of hardship and weariness and where I am is this: 

I want to feel what is there to feel - the excitement, the sorrow, the grief, the anticipation.

I want to remember to be kind to myself every day.

I want to get done what needs to get done and not worry about what didn't happen - like nutrious dinners or baths or anything Jesus-focused for Easter, or egg-dying whatsoever.

I want to remember to thank God in the moments where I'm soft enough to see blessings right in front of me.

And lastly, I want to and I will cry when all of this feels like it's more than I can handle. 

Because it most definitely feels that way.

March 27, 2013

For Sale

They say home is where the heart is.  Home is where your story begins.  Home sweet home.  My heart is definitely here.

When we bought our home over four years ago now, I didn't think it would even be possible.  When we found out we were expecting our first child we knew we needed a bigger space and longed to leave apartment living behind.  Todd began the search and to our surprise, we not only found a house that we loved, but we qualified to purchase it - a dream that neither of us thought we would ever see become a reality.

I remember walking in the first time - it felt like home is supposed to feel.  It was open and spacious.  I loved the kitchen and was immediately able to envision dinners around the table and where the Christmas tree would go and how I would place the furniture.  I remember sitting on the kitchen counter, holding my husbands hands and praying, asking God that if this was what He had for us, that He would make a way.  That we could call this lovely place our home.

And it was what He had in mind.  We qualified, closed easily and moved in Valentine's Day weekend of 2009. 

Oh, my home.  I have loved this place.  It has been everything I wanted our first place to be.  Warm, inviting, bright, and spacious.  It holds so many memories, so many faces that have entered our place for fellowship and parties, for prayer and tears, for Bible study, for meals and barbecues.
As I sit here and type, I write with a ball in my throat and tears streaming down my face.  Our realtor is due to arrive in the next half hour to take pictures, put the sign up in the yard and officially list our home to sell. 

At the moment, I feel as though I am the epitome of ambivalence.  I am excited and so ready for this North Dakota adventure.  So anxious to begin this process in hopes of the sooner that the house sells, the sooner we can be together and be a family again.  And I ache and cry and am so, so sad.  To leave this place, our first home, this beautiful place that I've decorated and dwelt in and that has been my shelter and place of comfort for four years - it will soon belong to someone else.  As much as I'm excited about the future, I am just as heartbroken.
The other day, I spent the evening putting bubble wrap over all of my family photos that I had hanging on our living room wall and putting into boxes.  Tears came easily as I thought how the next time I saw these would be when I was unpacking in a new place up north.  I remembered bubble-wrapping my friend's things when they made their move not that long ago and how hard it felt to pack away her memories and how much I would miss her, even wishing it was us that was going.  I remember wondering then if we would ever know that kind of change where we would be uprooted and taken on a big adventure like moving out of the state. 
Needless to say, it feels a bit surreal to be here - to be the ones that will be leaving and saying goodbye. To be the ones that God is moving and changing. 
That's the exciting part really.  To look back on the almost seven years that we have shared our life together and see where God has been moving us.  Even when we felt as though we were stuck and standing still, He was at work, going before us and preparing a way for the more and the change we were so craving.  All of this - the timing, the job, the place, the everything - has had God's handiwork and fingerprints all over it.  As we have taken one step at a time with all of this, He continues to make it clear that North Dakota is what He has in store for us.
But with adventure and change comes loss and grief.  There is so much to leave behind.  The very rooms of our home, the place we have done life together, cried together, prayed together, made love, eaten meals, played with Tommy, celebrated holidays, thrown parties....we have to leave this behind.  Soon, this home will be a memory, a place we used to live, a starting place for when our marriage was young and budding.
It's time though.  I can feel it in my gut.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is leading us out of the familiar and the known and has something big in store.  And not just Todd's new job - there is a reason He wants us in North Dakota.  Because God is able - He could have provided something here in Texas. 
He isn't just moving us to a new state, He is moving in our hearts and our lives.  He isn't just changing the scenery, He is changing us. 
For now, I will cry the tears that need crying - and there are many.  And at the same time, I will look forward to the future with excitement and readiness too.  My hope is that the perfect family will be able to call our home theirs.  That they may treasure and love this place as much as we have and that many more beauitful memories can be made within its walls. 
For Sale:  Three bedroom, two bath, two-car garage home.  Open floorplan, beautiful kitchen, corner lot.  Perfect for a young family.  Ideal for grilling in the backyard and having your friends over - who will probably pick a spot on the kitchen the floor to sit down and hang out.  The lawn still has weeds that never seem to go away, but it's ideal for water fights and playing in the rain.  Enough space in the living room for the dad to give horsey rides and for three year olds to ride toy motorcycles from the front door to the back door.  The living room window is perfect for sitting next to and reading with your morning cup of coffee, and it's quite lovely if you enjoy watching the rain.  When the sun sets in the fall, the house lights up amber and warm and it will remind you of what falling in love feels like.  Not just a house, but home sweet, sweet, home.

March 25, 2013

The lonely

My loneliest years were in my early twenties when my life felt small and insignificant.  All of my friends were still away at college, and me, the royal screw-up, was back in my hometown trying to figure out what it was I should even do with my life.  No one had given me that label, but it was how I saw myself.  I was defined by my past and my choices and failures and I felt as though I had messed everything up.

I "lost" my purity, I quit school and music and singing, I was at the heaviest weight of my life and I knew more of heartbreak and death at 20 years old than most people know by the age of 50.  I worked for a very small office playing secretary and doing light bookkeeping duties, and the church I went to had no one else my age that attended.  I lived with my grandmother and every single day after work, I would come home and eat until my stomach hurt and get lost in reality television shows until I would eventually doze off to sleep.

I remember that ache well.  This gnawing pain that no amount of food or TV could was ever able to keep me from feeling.  For some reason, those feelings and that time of my life feel easy to access in my memory.  It feels thick and tangible, almost as if those days were just yesterday instead of ten years ago.

The ever present feeling of loneliness - I could never escape it.  I was so very alone. 

The secrets I held kept me in isolation from the rest of the world.  I coped through my addictions - some seen and some not.  Then, I had no clue how to reach out or ask for help or that I even needed it.  I thought I was being punished and that God was punishing me. 

Oh how my perspective has shifted on how I see Him.  And how He has changed me...

With Todd gone, I've been aware of these feelings rising within me - and often.  Especially when both boys are sleeping and I'm left alone in a big quiet house, feeling the void, feeling alone.  Remembering the depressed young woman I was, desperate for friendship, for fellowship and community.  For intimacy and relationship with a man.  For a reason to laugh, or even cry at something other than how pathetic my life had become. 

This lonely isn't the same at all - I'm married, I have two children, I have a wonderful group of friends.  Yet without Todd here and feeling stuck doing life by myself again - this time, with a much fuller plate - the lonely feels just like it did back when I was twenty-something and longing for relationship.  I've felt this pull to old ways and addictions and things I've used in the past to numb out.  To kill what I'm hoping for, to try and keep myself from feeling any pain.  And it's been a fight to stay in this.  To let myself feel it. 

I've lost count of how many times I've opened the fridge to stare at its contents, then closing it and walking away - it must happen twenty times a day.  I may have a ways to go in the weight loss department, but I have learned to be mindful about my eating.  Even with all I've learned and lived out though, it's interesting how out of pure habit, I still go there.  I still look at the food.  I still think about what I could make or eat to distract me from the pain I'm feeling. 

Tonight, I'm aware of where loneliness is...well, it's lonely.

March 20, 2013

Come to life

It's in the air today.  Everyone seems to be buzzing about spring.  Grateful for warm sunshine and blooming flowers and winter nearing its end.  I never tire of the changing of the seasons even if the changes are more subtle here in the south. 

The rosebud tree outside my living room window is budding with it's usual pink flowers before growing it's yearly leaves shaped like hearts.
I can smell spring blowing through my house this Wednesday afternoon.  The windows are open, the curtains making their in and out motions as the breeze comes and goes.  My heart feels full and content as I busy with housework and the unending organizing projects underway as this time next week, it will be on the market, strangers coming to look at my walls deciding if they want to make them their own.  Much of my heart feels blessed and at rest and peace.

Even my bedroom feels peaceful.  Four years living here and I just now have our bedroom the way I had envisioned years ago.  A beautiful new bedspread, and a piece of watercolor art that my Great-Grandmother Dorothy painted.  Thankfully I can take it all with me and put it in a new home.  But I love the way the light from the windows warms everything.  Makes it bright and inviting.  Romantic even.  Just like a master suite should be.

In all of the projects and even in the beauty of my newly decorated bedroom, sadness is present too.  Knowing this is my last spring here, my last March of warm sunshine and budding trees and sandals.  It's not even 30 degrees in North Dakota - snow on the ground, snow still coming.  Spring still weeks (and weeks) away.

Before Todd left again, we had dinner with some good friends from church.  Our friend Andy commented to me how different my husband was - he was chatty and had a lot to say about his new job and North Dakota and this adventure ahead of us.  "He's different, he has this new sparkle in his eye," Andy said.  I smiled hearing someone else observe what I've seen change in my man. 

I've watched my husband come to life right in front of my eyes with all of these changes.  A new job and career, something he can take pride in, and up north - the place where he feels most like himself.  He has a new energy in his step, a lightness in his voice.  I've fallen in love with him all over again just seeing him soften and sparkle in ways that I've only ever seen glimpses of before. 

My husband has waited long and hard and slow in winter's grasp.  Of evil's assault on his heart telling him he would never be more than what he was.  That he would be stuck, that he was forgotten, that he wasn't worth anything more.  But God....

But God is able to do exceedingly above more than we could ever think or imagine!  Oh how true, how magnificent, how wild is our God!  Like a fierce wind and changing of a season, He brought a long awaited and highly anticipated spring to my beloved.

Thank you Lord for change.  For creation and budding flowers, for warm sunlight, and for making all things new.  Thank you for spring and adventures and grand surprises at the work of Your hands.  May I remember this warmth and beauty and peace in the seasons that are ahead...

March 19, 2013

Enjoying the little things

The sound of laundry tumbling round in the dryer while I'm at home during the day.
Listening to Jacob sigh when he sleeps, resting on my chest in complete infant beauty.
Tommy's tender heart.
Duck Dynasty - I'm officially on board.
Being back in my regular non-pregnant clothes.  Feels OH so good!
Sandals weather.
Not working.  Or driving in traffic.
My community of great, great friends.
Fun. - cannot get enough of their album right now.
Being able to shave my legs and paint my toenails with ease.
Organized cabinets and closets.
One Thousand Gifts - even better the second time reading through it.
Todd's ringtone and the feeling I get when he calls.
God's provision and how there is always, always enough.

March 17, 2013


Part of my heart is back in North Dakota.  Oh, do I ache.

Todd left early Saturday morning and much like I had anticipated, it was the hardest goodbye yet.  I sobbed and I cried and I squeezed him tight hoping to memorize his smell and the thickness of arms and exactly how it felt to feel him wrap around me in a tight embrace.  It was the hardest because I'm not certain when I'll see him again.  I don't have a date circled on the calendar or an event like the birth of a baby to dictate when he'll be here.  All I know is that I'll see him again pending the sale of our house and finding a place up there.  He will be back when it's time to pack up and move.  When it's time to say goodbye to everyone - then that will be the hardest goodbye.

It feels hard for life to feel up in the air just after you've brought a new baby into the world.  Nothing feels settled and everything feels like it's hinging on something on else to happen and I wonder how much of the change Jacob feels as an infant.  The more I clean and organize my home in preparation to put on the market, the more sterile it feels.  It's as if the homey feeling I've created here is being packed up little by little in efforts to create a space that feels neutral and inviting for prospective home-buyers.  This process is nauseating to me.  It's my home and our first house and I'm not quite ready to leave it just yet.

We had to declutter and rearrange Tommy's room over the weekend.  When he saw what we had done, he had a massive meltdown and cried everywhere.  His tantrum felt like looking into a mirror for my own heart because as excited as I feel about some of these changes, there is just as much sorrow and rage for all that I have to leave behind.  Tommy's emotions simply echo my own and all I have been able to do is tell him that I'm sorry and cry right alongside of him. 

Tears have come easily since the boxes came out and since my husband drove back north.  And I'm trying to give myself a break about it all, because I did just have a baby and hormones and all of the post-partum glory comes in to play too.  But I feel like a weepy mess and not having Todd here to hold me in all of my emotion and heartache feels unbearable when I let myself feel that void.

After he left Saturday morning, I sat on my bed and sobbed for a while and surrendered to prayer and poured my heart and my guts out to God.  And it wasn't like I hadn't prayed the entire time Todd had been home, but maybe I prayed less because I didn't need Him as much.  I was aware of how Todd's presence here lightened my load and that I was in a place where I didn't need to talk to God about every moment of every day and how I could get through it.  I depend on Todd for things and he loves and cares for me in such tangible ways and the last two and a half weeks felt like a refresher for my soul.  It almost felt like God allowed me to have this much needed break.  But here I am again, in desperate, grasping need for my Savior to get me through these hardest days.  I've dreaded them and am dreading them. 

I keep wondering how I can find joy when my heart aches and when there is so much to grieve.  When so much is up in the air, so much pending.

March 13, 2013

The tears came with the boxes

The tears have finally come.

I put all thoughts of moving away on the back burner toward the end of my pregnancy.  I felt like I had too much surrounding me that needed my heart and there was simply no space left to give to the thoughts of leaving home.  With Todd's absence, caring for the heart of my three year old, taking care of my body, and trying to get the rest I was told I needed, I felt completely occupied in the feeling department.

But today as I have been going through our closet and seeing things starting to go into boxes, I lost it.  Tears found me and suddenly I feel overwhelmed at all that I am losing and leaving. 

In this particular moment, it feels hard to remember that we wanted this.  That we prayed for this kind of change and hoped that God would lead us into an adventure like this someday.  I think I've always known deep down in my heart that we would end up in North Dakota.  Because even though it's never been my dream, it's been my husband's dream and I so wanted all of this for him.  The new job and occupation that he could be proud of that could provide for our family.  And in a place far from here where he feels most at home - where snow and mild summers and geese hunting abound.  I think I've always known that God would stretch us like this - and maybe more specifically, stretch me.
Especially in the last few months, I've been in this place of complete and utter dependence on God for just about everything.  And moving away and being without my community and my church and my family - talk about a whole new place of needing and depending on God.
While Jake has taken his naps today I've mostly worked on cleaning out our closet.  Purging and organizing and decluttering so that it looks open and spacious and appealing to a potential buyer.  I'd like to think that all of my HGTV watching has paid off and I'm hoping the realtor we meet with tomorrow will be impressed with my staging skills.  This project is just about done and our closet can definitely breathe again.
But there is much, much more to do still.  Obviously.
My heart feels a bit like this.  Cluttered, full and chaotic.  Memories made and memories that won't be made, faces of people I will miss and that I don't want to say goodbye to, and the unending lists of things to do come to my heart and mind as I've been working. 
I feel lost somewhere between busyness and grief.  And I have a feeling it might look like that for awhile.

March 12, 2013


According to the calendar, today is my 32nd birthday.  This is probably the first birthday I haven't really made a fuss over or advertised to the world.  If you know me well, you would know that if I want others to make a big deal about my birthday, I have no problem vocalizing that in many ways, shapes and forms. 

And it's not that I don't feel like celebrating - or maybe it is.

My birthday is another usual time of reflection for me, but once again, times of quiet and reflection are few these days as my world revolves around feedings and diaper changes and not sleeping and eighty-seven projects going on all at once around the house while Todd is still here.  And oy, the house projects.  Reality is sinking in that this home will no longer be mine.  Even though I've always known it was never a "forever" house, I did imagine making many more memories in it.  I've loved this house and trying to make it look more appealing to prospective buyers is a more difficult process emotionally than I anticipated it being.

Thirty-two doesn't feel old, but I don't feel young either.  (I feel like I should note here that Britney Spears "Circus" just started playing on my Spotify so take the old/young comment however you wish knowing this new piece of information). 

I do feel more grounded and sure of who I am as a woman - like how I can shamelessly admit to jamming out to Britney tunes.  I know what I like and what I don't and I find myself pretending less to be something or someone else just to get someone to like me.  I may be far from predictable, but I am more consistent - which for me, feels like a big deal.  The last year of life has been a huge year of growth and change in my heart -  especially where I have journeyed with God and all that Todd and I have been through together.  Because the last year has felt huge in those places, I feel like I've been prepped and been made ready for these changes and all of this that is unfolding for us.

Now here I am.  Thirty two and I'm about to pack up my house and my life and my whole heart and move it to the northest north.  It feels surreal.  Even though thirty-two isn't coming with some big party or celebration, I have a feeling I will remember it.  I will remember my chaos-filled home in Texas, my tiny baby boy, and all that was about to change for me.

And because we all need a little cuteness.....oh my heart.  My precious boys. 
I am so, so very blessed.

To be thirty-two. To be Todd's wife. To be entrusted with the hearts and lives of two precious boys that get to call me mommy. To have lived in such a wonderful place and be surrounded with so many people that I love and who love me that it make it so incredibly hard to say goodbye.  To be called His, to be loved by Him, wooed by Him and held so safely in His arms when I am so full of uncertainty. 

Thirty-two and blessed.  What more could I ask for?

March 9, 2013

Saturday Thoughts

It feels like there are ten thousand words inside of me dying to get out.  And there has been little time or rest or quietness to capture any of them.  The writer and deep feeler that I am is aching for solitude and I wonder how many more minutes I have left before Todd gets back from the store and Jacob wakes up ready to eat.  It feels selfish to want for that when a week from now, he will be gone again, and before I know it, our newborn son will be big and grown and these tiny baby moments will have flitted away.

Looking back on the end of my pregnancy and on Jacob's birthday, I feel only filled with gratitude and awe.  Seeing where God answered every single one of my prayers - how He heard me and showed up and was with me in all that I was fearing could happen.  How He granted me the biggest desire of my heart and allowed Todd to arrive moments before Jake was delivered.  These are the times I wonder why I ever doubt Him or His goodness.  And I know that I will doubt again - and here I have yet another extravagant piece in my story to point to of where God is God.  Where He went before me and stood behind.

Our house feels like chaos.  Between bottles and formula and laundry and keeping track of whose dish belongs to who (because our friends rock and are keeping us well fed) - and then of course ten different projects all started and some finished as we begin to prepare to put our house on the market.  As I step over tools and Home Depot bags, reality is beginning to sink in that this is really happening.  That we are drastically changing our lives and that the big move is really coming. 

I keep wondering if North Dakota will ever feel like home.  If I will ever get used to the snow.  If missing my family and my friends and community here will be too much for me and send me into another round of depression.  I wonder if I'm really strong enough to feel it and grieve the losses and hope for more in this new place - to live well in the midst of all that is changing.  All of this is starting to feel BIG.

Jacob is precious and sweet and when he wraps all five fingers around one of my own I melt and want to cry because his little life is such a gift and I feel so humbled at all of it.  He is tiny and fragile and newborn clothes fit him just right.  Every coo, every sneeze and sweet sigh - I find myself trying to memorize it all.  I want to soak in all of the new baby feelings and sounds and smells because it goes by so quickly. 

I hear a three year old calling my name, needing some of my attention.  Jake is stirring in his bassinet begging me to hold him close again.  And Todd is grilling some steaks on our firepit for dinner. 

Moments to enjoy and to savor - and to write about later.

March 5, 2013

February Baby

Our lives were changed forever the night of February 28, 2013 at 7:48pm.  Our perfect and precious boy, Jacob Paul, came into the world.
7lbs. 10oz. and 19.5 inches of beautiful, healthy and ours.
Even with some complications, everything that I had hoped, prayed and dreamed for came true.
Like holding my healthy, thriving baby shortly after he was born.
My Robin stayed with me until Todd arrived.
 Todd made it in from North Dakota literally half an hour before my c-section.  The greatest desire of my heart was that he wouldn't miss it - and God brought him home just in the nick of time.  God always seems to be right on time even when we think He's running late. 

My grandparents were some of our first visitors.  Jacob carries my Poppy's name as his middle name - his heritage and legacy will be lived out and remembered for always.
Tommy is the sweetest big brother I've ever seen.  Watching him interact with his baby brother makes me cry every single time.  My heart feels so full it could absolutely burst - having two children.  God giving us these miracles, this family, this everything.  I am overwhelmed at all of the goodness.
And going home day was the best. 
 And just a sneak preview of a few newborn shots that my sister-in-law took for us.

 There will be much, much more to share in the coming days.  For now, I'm recovering and healing and enjoying the precious firsts with our son.