June 30, 2013


Every so often, there comes a Sunday where we do the unthinkable - we don't go to church.  Because every so often, we need a breather and the usual Sunday morning routine becomes more burdensome than something we look forward to. 

Perhaps this makes me a complete heathen, but I don't usually go to church if I'm not wanting to.  I don't believe that Jesus is disappointed in me if I choose to stay home and take a morning "off." After all, He was the inventor of the sabbath - a whole day of nothing but rest.  I think it's silly that people feel like they have to go to church.  I don't think Jesus was about duty or this huge strict list of rules, like every-Sunday church going.

Besides we'll have church tonight....a gathering of friends for barbecue and fellowship and laughter.  If that's not church, I don't know what is.

This morning the washing machine is whirring away.  Every swish heard makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something, catching up on life where I'm feeling so very far behind.  I baked a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies because I enjoy baking and rarely get to anymore.  The menu for the week has been planned along with grocery list.  I  held my baby and put him back down for his morning nap and consumed a giant pot of coffee and drank it while reading a book.  And I'm starting on Tommy's 4th birthday party invitations.

None of this may seem like restful activity - but it is.  Caring for my home, my loved ones, myself.  It's all REST.  All of it feels life-giving and they are the kind of things that feed my soul rather than drain me of something.

We may have skipped church this morning, but it's been a very peaceful, blessed and delicious start to our Sunday.

June 29, 2013

Blurry June

It's nearly the end of June and I'm wondering a little bit where the month went.  Looking back on the calendar, there was Bible study, youth group, a month full of Saturdays with Todd working, a smattering of get-togethers and conversations and random friend hang outs, laughter and much life lived and enjoyed.  It seems though that June has gone by in somewhat of a blur and July and all of it's summer glory is just around the corner.

July means Independence Day celebrations, fireworks, an excessive amount of barbecue, some hopeful trips to the waterpark, and our oldest boy's birthday.  Oh summer....it really is my favorite.

With the month nearly behind me though, I'm left looking at all of the pieces of life that fell through the cracks this month.  The things I didn't get done or couldn't go to or that still remain on my to-do list that need accomplishing.  I've felt a bit on the discouraged side feeling like I should be able to stay on top of everything, especially the tiny details of life - like sending thank you cards and remembering to stop by my parents house when they were on vacation.  It tends to be the small things that fall through where I tend to beat myself up for because I feel like I should be more efficient or disciplined.

In all reality, I don't need a lesson on time management.  I need to consider rest.  And it's interesting how after the season of rest I just left, I have taken none of that with me into this one. 

Once again though, I feel like God is up to something in my heart and marriage and life.  I'm pondering some new things, doing some dreaming about possibilities for the future, and looking to Todd in ways that my heart has never been inclined to before.  It leaves me feeling curious and even excited, but it still does nothing for my current to-do list and life-load.

And speaking of the current to-do list....I have bills to pay, laundry to wash and bathrooms to clean before the baby wakes again. 

Looks like June will end in a blur of activity in the exact same way it's been all month.  I'm hopeful though for what clarity and peace and rest might be waiting for me in July....if I let it.

June 24, 2013

Filling the Full

Several weeks ago, I surrendered my umpteenth cell phone to a cup of a water while driving in the car with my friend.  Sadly, it couldn't survive the water torturing it experienced (and ya'll, that rice trick is a load of crock - totally didn't work), so it died a sad, agonizing and battery-hot-on-fire death.  The biggest loss was all of my phone numbers, which of course, I had backed up to nowhere because I'm awesomely organized like that.  And one can put "Hey, text me your digits 'cuz my phone died" on Facebook, but then like three people respond and you're basically still left with no numbers.

Obviously, this bothers me. 

Even still, all these weeks later, I am still trying to recover numbers and put them in my new (well, very used and old) phone.  But it's not the same.  There are still dozens missing.  It bothers me not having this full contact list in my phone.  There should be more.  The list should be fuller.


I have this amazing walk-in closet.  It's one of the perks to our huge master bedroom in this house.  Plenty of storage and lots of rack space for clothes.  And if you know me well, you would also know I'm something of a top-aholic.  I LOVE buying a new top or three on frequent occasion - especially if I can score a sale.

I'm ashamed to admit to the world exactly how many I have, but it's quite possibly more than anyone needs I'm sure.  There is something satisfying about going into my very full closet full of cute tops and the many choices before me.  Even though I could probably purge dozens of them since I simply don't ever wear them, I enjoy seeing them in my closet.  Looking full as if I've conquered the cute-top world and I have them all.


Life has been busy-busy lately.  And I'm left wondering if I'm doing too much or if it's just adding Jacob into the mix that makes it feel busier than usual.  My calendar is full of youth group, bible study, worship team (though I only sing twice a month), appointments, date nights, social gatherings, showers, outings, helping friends move - and so on.  And did I mention we have Schlitterbahn season passes?

Recently, I caught myself admitting, though somewhat humorously, to a friend, "I just want to do all the things!"

Anytime I go to write anything in, I feel this great sense of satisfaction.  Watching days fill up with activity and purpose and something to DO.  Some place to GO.  There is something about having a full calendar that makes me feel like I'm important, or wanted even.  It's interesting how a full calendar can make feel like that, but it can become burdensome too when you realize you simply don't have time for everything, even if you've scheduled it.

There are other things I like to see full.  

My bookshelves.  My picture frames.   My boxes of decorations for fall and Christmas. My Facebook photo albums.  My Instagram "likes."  My iPod.  My blog posts and comments, few though they may be. My Pinterest boards!

One thing is clear - I want the full.   

I know that I was created to be filled.  God made all of us empty and needy and He brought us into the world where we are completely dependent on someone else's care for us.  Someone else had to love us, fill us, feed us, nurture us.  He created us so that we would need Him to be our Great Filler.  To rely on Him for all that we need and desire. But at some point, we all learn to take care of that filling for ourselves.

As I've been pondering these thoughts the last few weeks, especially on my need to have things feel FULL, it's been easy for me to see where I've gone in my own neediness to seek fulfillment.

For a long time it was with food.  I would fill, and greatly overfill, my stomach with food.  And though my struggle there is much different now, I've become curious about other places where I might still be "binging" and seeking to find fullness for myself.

The clothes and the calendar especially - both places I might need to look at and ask myself some hard questions.

What am I trying to fill?  What am I hoping to get from them/it?  What am I needing?  What am I not looking to God for if I am filling my own time, my own closet and my own life?  What am I missing out on by doing the filling myself?  Is there any room left to experience God in these places?  Who is there not room for right now?

All questions at the moment that have no answers.  But places I want to sit in and think on as my heart feels pricked and grieved.  I may start with the closet.....it could be time to start purging some items and I wonder what I'll discover as I let some of the fullness go and sit in some space.

Wide, open, free, blank space.

I wonder what there could be room for.

June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice

There is something special about sunshine on a clear June afternoon and more so, when it's the officially official first day of summer.  I feel like a kid again, as if we're packing up the car and heading to the coast and I'll have nothing better to do that build sandcastles and see how long I can hold my breath under the water.  It hit me a couple of weeks ago that I think I've been wrong about my favorite season for years.  I may have this grand love affair with fall.  After all, it's quite appealing with all it's pumpkin-flavored things and scarf wearing and gray, cozy skies.  Autumn does something unique to my soul and so much of it speaks to me.  But really, nothing quite evokes playfulness and life in me like a perfect summer day.

Perhaps I'm just a season-lover.  It's the constant changing, the flow of life and how maybe you can't control what happens in those seasons, but you can always count on the fact that they will come.  You are promised the change no matter what.

I'm the kind of person who could literally sit in the sunshine for an entire day.  Reading a book, dipping my toes in the water, listening to music - country would be my choice.  Mostly because country music and summer simply go together.  You can't have one without the other.  And if I could find my way to the beach every weekend, I would go.  It seems only natural to dwell by water during summertime - even if it's only my blow-up mini pool.

Is this not THE color of summer?  Vibrant aqua.  It makes me happy just to look at it.
And if aqua is the official color of summer, then the official meal should be burgers with corn on the cob and fresh watermelon.  Which was how we ushered in the summer solstice last night. Perfection.
 And it absolutely must be topped off with s'mores.  I mean, it's only fair to summer.  Let's do this right.

I may be the only summer-lover in my family though.  Jacob thinks it's highly over-rated.  Apparently, I'll have a thing or two to teach him.

Another summer of my life is officially here and this one has been celebrated and ushered in.  And though in my neck of the woods it tends to stick around for much longer than it's supposed to, I plan on many more afternoons of sunshine and swimming, many more evenings of burgers, s'mores and late sunsets.  

Another hopeful season full of life cherished, enjoyed and lived.

June 17, 2013


Last year's anniversary celebration was so fun and romantic and full of adventure that we knew it would be hard to top it.  After all, we had much to celebrate especially since it had been the year that we had nearly fallen apart.  There was absolutely no chance of a getaway this year considering the way things worked out with North Dakota, which means absolutely zero vacation days for Todd the rest of the year. 

But last week, we tried to make the most of his grueling schedule and our limited together-time and headed off to a restaurant that is special for us.  We held our rehearsal dinner at a place called The Barn Door.  Maybe not the kind of location most would consider wedding rehearsal "elegant" - but Todd and I are more low-key and it suited us well.  I still remember that night - we all dressed in camo and had cut-outs of deer on the tables as decorations. Clearly, it was Todd-themed and casual - and I loved it.  We gathered our closest friends and family and we gave words and gifts to the people that meant the most to us and listened to their hearts for us too.  It was a sweet night I will treasure for always.  Going there to celebrate year seven of marriage just felt right.

We dined over some juicy steaks and reflected on the year behind us.  We thought about the special moments it held, how my pregnancy and Jacob and the North Dakota job changed so much for us.  How different life felt one year down the road from our last anniversary and that being parents of two feels much, much different than being parents of just one. 

In some ways the last year flew by.  And in others, the days were hard and long and struggle-filled.  And yet we looked at each other across the table and decided that the other was still the person that we wanted to do life with.

We talked about our hopes, our goals for the future - what we might like to see for year ten and where we might be three years from now.  We dreamed about a summer vacation next year, perhaps to Michigan to finally spend time with our much-missed friends there. 

But we caught ourselves dreaming.  About moving to New Braunfels (where we attend church and practically spend all our free time at now) at some point, about jobs, about things we wanted to do with our boys, about how we wanted to purpose to live in certain places, about adding on to our family later on.  Dreaming has never been something that has come easy for us.  We've usually been so discouraged by life and how things never work out and more often than not, we would sit and complain or talk about how life seems to work out for everyone else we knew and throw ourselves a pity-party.  True story. 

And even though we could easily add North Dakota to the list of things that didn't work out, that whole story has really done something in us.  We have become dreamers.

If year six was the year that God rescued us and held us together....year seven was the year he expanded our hearts and gave us the room to dream.
It is fun to wonder what might become of all of the dreaming.  Especially those that He has planted in our hearts....

June 12, 2013

An evening of Eucharisteo

Dinner on the stove, bubbling hot.

Thunder rumbling outside.  Grey, quiet sky, rain falling soft.  

Baby squeals and spit bubbles.

Laughing big laughs and making silly faces for the camera.

Snuggles with my footed sleeper baby.  His eyes drowsy and soft as he surrenders to the night.  

Story time with my big boy.  

Paying bills, writing checks.  Always enough, always.

Texts from friends - constant dialoguing.  Sweet reminders of sweet fellowship and community.

Strong arms of a husband around me.  Love fought for, lived for.

June 9, 2013

Mommy Confessions

It's hard to explain.  Having two kids feels like having so many more than one, and I simply don't know how this can be.  Perhaps it's because Tommy is so independent and self-sufficient.  He can get himself out of bed, take himself to the bathroom, turn on his morning cartoons, and come and ask for milk and breakfast.  He can play on his own if I need to get something done and he doesn't sit there and wail and beg to be held all the time.

Tommy is a blast.  We have the best conversations, we play together.  We tell jokes, I read him stories, he's even eating what we eat for dinner now without a huge battle waged over whether or not he will do it (most of the time anyway).  Tommy is easy to enjoy at this age, though with him, he has always felt easy to enjoy.  Maybe it's because he was my first - the one I prayed for and never thought I'd have.  Maybe it's because we are both firstborns and share a special connection.

And as wonderful as the baby thing can be - I mean they're so cute and cuddly and when they laugh for the first time it makes you cry - it requires so much tending to.  Maybe because it had been nearly four years, I forgot how much it takes out of you to mother a baby.  The holding, the feeding, the rocking, the getting pooped on, the sitting out with your baby while everyone else is doing something fun.  The never getting to make out with your husband because they seem to always wake up right when things are getting exciting.  And  the overwhelming feelings of just wanting to get out and do something that makes you feel like you the woman, rather than the mommy who just managed to get spit up on straight into the crotch area. 

I mean sometimes, I just want to put on a pair of heels, have a margarita and enjoy a conversation that doesn't come with a side of a restless, fussy baby or an episode of The Backyardigans.  What is uninterrupted, adult conversation anyway?

More often than not I have found myself disgruntled, discouraged, and frustrated.  I keep telling myself that I'm too old for this.  I'm too set in my ways to handle raising another baby from scratch all over again. And forget, FORGET, a number three.  Though of course in the deepest deep of my heart....

But the guilt.  The over-riding guilt because this time around, I want to be at work every day - I really do.  The guilt that comes when I would rather be in the pool than out of it holding Jacob.  The guilt I have when I need a break even on the weekend when it's some of the only quality time I have with my boys.  And the biggest chunk of guilt where I feel like I enjoy Tommy more than Jacob - where I'm struggling to connect with him and enjoy him.  It's hard not to travel down the whole "what the hell is wrong with me ?" road and "I'm so selfish it should be a crime."

Yesterday, I took Tommy to get his haircut and I was solo with both boys.  Managing this event all by myself with the two of them felt like this giant feat.  I was relieved that Jacob wasn't fussy and that Tommy didn't throw a major tantrum now that he has realized he has officially graduated from sitting in the cool cars to a big boy chair at the hair place.  I even felt good about myself, like maybe I was getting the hang of something.  Juggling the carseat, teaching Tommy to look both ways before stepping out into the street - I remember thinking, "Okay, I got this.  I'm doing it.  I can be a mother of two."

But then the evening came.  Todd was out of town and I was at a pool party with friends.  And I had to sit on the outside holding Jacob while everyone else got to play and enjoy themselves.  (I have yet to find size small swimming diapers or swimming shorts/shirts in his size so that he can come in the pool with me.  Baby girl swimsuits abound, but the boy things - they do not!)  And I lost it and had to go inside and cry everywhere for awhile.  And the tears were about more than that - because Todd wasn't there and I always feel lost without him.  Really, it was disappointment upon disappointment. 

At it's root was where I've been beating myself up for all the guilt.  The wishing Jacob was bigger already and wishing away his babyness - all so I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it.  And I've felt alone here.  Though I know I'm not the only woman who has ever felt this way, it feels like it most of the time. Even writing this I fear all of the mommies who might condemn me or leave me comments full of "encouragement" that feels more like a slap in the face and affirms all I have to be guilty over.

My biggest fear is that I will look back on this season of life with regret.  That I'll want to beat myself up for my selfishness and wishing away Jacob's smallness and I'll have missed all of these wonderful things because I was so self-centered.  I know I have my own limits as a woman and as a parent, but I feel like my limits look different than others.  That is a whole new can of worms I can open if I start comparing myself to all of my other fellow mother-friends and their own abilities and limitations.

There are moments though.  Small, fleeting ones where Jacob smiles at me and talks his awesome baby talk and I am so full of joy and delight I could bust open.  I can already tell that he will be much more social and vocal than Tommy was and is.  He wants to be in the action, see everything that's going on and he has a lot to say about it even only being three months old.  He is completely different than Tommy - in appearance, in attitude, in neediness, in every sense of the word.  And maybe I expected all of it, even how I felt, to be the exact same way the second time around.

At the end of a work day though, the first thing I want to do is hold him.  His laugh makes me light up inside and nothing beats that feeling when he has finally surrendered to sleep on my chest and I can hear his little breath.  I do cherish those times.  Small and fleeting though they may be, I have them.

I wish I could tie up my thoughts neatly as though I've figured something out.  But I haven't.  I have much to learn, much to wade through, and much more to struggle with and enjoy while Jacob is still small and dependent on me. 

One thing is for sure:  it's messy.  It's as messy as the poop I somehow managed to get all over my hand this morning during a diaper change.  It's as messy as his spit-uppy smiles.  Maybe all of it - my feelings, the experience, the everything that comes with being a mom and the parenthood journey is supposed to be that way.  Messy.

Learning to see and find the joy and the grace, even if you're covered in shit.  Messy indeed.

June 5, 2013

Salt n' Peppa

Perhaps the very best date nights are the impromptu ones.  When you haven't gotten all dressed up or made big plans and had been looking forward to it for a week.

The spur of the moment dates that just happen out of the blue because you need to run and get a book and stop by the second job, and while we're at it, why don't we share a bowl of queso and get a half price shake at Sonic too and pretend like we're on some romantic excursion?  Errand running without the boys morphed into date night.  I was in shorts and my hair was up and it was casual and on the fly.  And I absolutely loved it.
It was a random outing and a much needed one.  Life seems to speed by so fast these days, that stealing time away together as a couple feels next to impossible.  I keep wondering why two kids feels like so many more than just one?  How adjusting to a new family member seems to take longer somehow?  Needless to say, we were both a bit grateful to have some adult time with no one needing to be fed or taken to the potty or told to eat all of their green beans.

Our seven year anniversary is days away and we spent the evening reflecting on where we've been in the last year.  How Jacob and North Dakota and God has changed up everything and we are still trying to pick up the pieces - especially Todd.  It has been hard watching him go through his own set of struggles with all of this.  The disappointment, the loss of a dream, and the hurt and anger he carries about all of it.

We talked some about life and what it feels like to share it together.  Sometimes I feel as though I keep running ahead.  I spent so much of my life unhappy and miserable and not living, that now, I get so caught up in living and going and doing and saying yes, that I often forget that we are sharing this life together and maybe I need to slow down a bit.  Maybe I need to let him catch up.  Or maybe I need to take a few steps back and come alongside of him - and wait.   

We're different, he and I.  We couldn't be more opposite.  But we go together - it works.  I may or may not have gotten totally cheesy at the restaurant and used salt and pepper shakers to make my point. (Which totally means that I did.)

I've been reflecting on what living might look like in the waiting.  Where I might need to slow it down for the sake of loving my husband well and caring for his heart.  Even though he might not know what exactly he needs from me right now, I can be there - be present, be with him.  I think God called me to be the one who will forever invite him out of the corner of life and onto the main floor.  God chose me for a role that means putting a face and a touch and tears and a voice to the invitations that God is constantly extending to him - to all of us really.  The best thing we can do for any person, especially our spouse, is to encourage them to be more of who they were created to be.  Remind them of the truth of who God is and who He says that we are in Him.

I remember reading this last year in the book "The Meaning of Marriage" by Timothy Keller.  He writes:

"If you don't see your mate's deep flaws and weaknesses and dependencies, you're not even in the game.  But if you don't get excited about the person your spouse has already grown into and will become, you aren't tapping into the power of marriage as spiritual friendship.  The goal is to see something absolutely ravishing that God is making of the beloved.  You see even now flashes of glory.  You want to help your spouse become the person God wants him or her to be."

Since meeting Todd back in 2005, I have always been able to notice those flashes of glory.  I think that's what drew me to him.  From the beginning it was obvious that Todd gave me parts of his heart that he never trusted anyone else with.  I have honored and cherished that about him.  And I know, that as his wife, my role is to spur him on and encourage him to be the man that God created him to be.  Not to so I'll have some ultra-awesome husband (though that is a bonus).  But because that's simply part of what marriage is.  Loving another undeserving, flawed, needy human being - it's a reflection of how much we are loved by the King.

Sometimes life and marriage feels like it's simply one struggle to the next though.  You make it over one hurdle and you find out that the next one is just right around the corner.  But at the same time, there is so much joy and passion and life and love in between all of it if you can stop to notice and acknowledge it.
And Saturday night, amidst the queso and conversation, we noticed.

I am grateful to do life with a man who desires joy, passion, life and love.  And who wants to share those things....with me.

June 4, 2013


Have you ever been locked into a huge building with 30 teenagers all night long?  It might look something like a never ending game of nine square....
  And a session of Catch Phrase at midnight.
  Youth group lock-ins mean a round of beach-ball relay....
And sucking down baby food peas....because this is simply what you do when you're in high school youth group.
 Some of my greatest memories from high school were from my times spent at youth group.  Playing games, singing with friends, doing Bible studies - just figuring out who I was and wanted to be.  My hope is to not only have impact as we sit and talk in small groups about the Word or our struggles or questions about our faith, but to be an example of a woman that lives and loves and plays.

Since last year I've been helping out with the youth group at our church.  I lead a small group with another gal my age for the Junior/Senior girls - and I love it.  Youth ministry is a place I definitely feel called to.

Especially when it means that blow up Sumo suits are nearby.....
And you get to watch this go down!
 I got to teach the kids one of my all-time favorite games from youth group called "Do you love your neighbor?"  A crazy game of running around and chair-stealing and neighbor-loving and many toe injuries from all of the chaos.  I felt like I was sixteen again.
 But then the creepy-in-the-middle-of-the-night games started and that's when my age and lack of sleep started to catch up to me and I remembered that I was so not sixteen anymore.
  I pooped out at around 1:30am - I did after all, have a baby and an almost four year old to tend to in the morning and needed something in me to wake up and be mommy in the morning.
All of it did make for an exciting Friday night.

 And next year, we will probably do it all over again!

June 3, 2013


Since Jacob was about a month old, his hair has done this super cute thing.  Parts of it stand up straight and comes to this point and it's basically the cutest thing in the entire world.  This picture only captures about 25% of the cuteness, but really it's precious.  And it cracks me up.
 Mostly because he reminds me of Jack-Jack - from The Incredibles.  

See what I mean?  If my kid were a cartoon, would this not be him?

And when he smiles (which he simply won't do for the camera right now) he is almost a spitting image of this cartoon baby.  I love it.

Jacob has already snagged the nick-name "Jack-Jack".  And I'm feeling a Halloween costume in the making already....