Monday, December 28, 2015

Glimpses: siblings

The afternoon sun is making its way into the door that leads from my bedroom to the outside. The house is at rest--my brother and his wife and their son all sleeping off some jet lag; my non-stop three-year-old tough boy dozing without moving a muscle in his toddler bed. And my five-year-old catching the eye of my seven-month-old. In an instant, baby Simon is grinning ear to ear. This is his brother in front of him: the one that has a special smile that's reserved only for him. I put Simon down on the floor so that he and Noah can play, giving in to the fact that only one of my children will nap this afternoon.

My mourning over lost nap time is truncated in an instant. Before my eyes are two handsome little boys, separated by five years minus six days. Their eyes are alive with delight in each other. Simon crawls over Noah's leg, nuzzling his face into Noah's pants and making Noah giggle. Noah gets on the floor next to Simon and lifts his body up and down, almost like a push-up, getting squeals of surprised joy from Simon.

first day at home together

playing around

I read somewhere about the gift of a sibling. When we as parents feel stretched, and feel as though there is no way we could ever divide ourselves enough to meet the needs of each child that calls us mom or dad, into that tough space is inserted the beautiful blessing of a sibling.

No grown-up (or very few) would have thought to entertain Simon the way that Noah had. Five year olds are gloriously creative! It was not planned or purposeful--it was accidental and hilarious, at least according to the baby, and that warranted repetition. Likewise, no baby responds to Noah the way that Simon does. In their short seven months of being brothers, they have developed a shared consciousness of joyful interaction. So it doesn't take them much to get going. And on this sunny December afternoon, Noah is soon in tears and Simon wears himself out from giggles.

I sit and watch and am amazed.

Simon on the left. A picture of Noah on the right.

Thank you, Lord, for making siblings. And for teaching me, bit by bit, of the importance of allowing other people into my children's lives to interact with them and bring joy to them in creative ways that I would never do.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Reminder

Oh, I have my moments when I feel like I can handle this three kid thing.
And then there are days like today when I wonder if this house and these boys wont just up and run off without me, leaving me in the dust, stunned and numb.
...When they are rowdy and loud up and down the hall while I'm trying to nurse the youngest one to sleep, and I've told them five times to be quiet and to stay out of the room, but it seems they are too loud and too busy to hear. ...When they take out everything that was put away and leave it on the floor in the kitchen, on the floor in the living room, on the floor in my bedroom, in the baby’s high chair, on top of the trash can lid, in my seat, on the couch, on the toilet. ...When they are frustrated that we can't follow through on spontaneous ideas, due to lack of energy or lack of margin. ...When the baby is not happy unless he’s being held, and I start to feel his 22-pound body put a strain on my back and my shoulders and my wrists. 
And I wonder how I can keep up.
I wonder about those words that I heard clearly a few days ago: that a big part of my job as mom is to be a blessing to my sons. That's my job. 
I confess: I was not focused on blessing them today.
Perhaps it is the lack of sleep from a gassy baby. Perhaps it is the stress of the season. Perhaps it is not being able to go outside much due to the shorter days. Perhaps it is just how it's going to be. 
Or perhaps it is God at work to give me a message--
--the same message I shared with an acquaintance this morning, when she asked how I was balancing the three.
“Balance?” I replied. “There’s no balance. When I am doing well in one area, I’m terrible at another. But,” I continued, “I knew I would be in over my head when I found out I was going to have another kid. So it makes me trust in God much more than before. And that’s a good thing.”
Perhaps he was just checking this evening to see if I still think it’s a good thing to need to trust in him more, to lean on him more, to depend on him for everything. Perhaps he saw it fit to remind me that instead of pushing harder, talking louder, working smarter, or feeling deeper, I need only to trust and obey. Perhaps he desired to give me a little reminder in this season of beauty and perfectly perfect-ness, that I am not perfect. That there is no way for me to raise these little children of his on my own. That these little royalty will be a picture of his glory shown through my weakness.
Just like it was his glory shining out of a small, weak town of Bethlehem, just like he gives answers in many unexpected places and ways, he can use an insignificant, hard night to remind me of my need for him. 
And that's a good thing.

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times."
He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.
Micah 5:2, 4

Monday, November 9, 2015


For the last nine months, my husband and I have had the week of "Nov. 2-6" reserved for an amazing conference hosted by the Pastoral Leadership Institute.  We had reserved time off from work, babysitters lined up, hotel and airlines booked--all for this conference. This conference has made a substantial difference in our relationships, our marriage, my view of self, my weekly schedule, and my relationship with my Lord.
This is a conference that loves, that teaches, that challenges and supports. And I am always a renewed spirit at the completion of the final session.
So you might be able to imagine how it felt when our 3-year-old was sick as a dog to his little tummy 12 hours before we were supposed to leave our home to fly halfway across the country for this conference--like the floor dropped out from under me. He was sick for seven straight hours on Nov. 1. His usual boundless energy was zapped for the lack of food in his system, so we put him to sleep early (surrounded by lots of towels) and prayed for mercy from the Lord.
What is a mom to do? Our dear friends had assured us that they would take the best care of him, and I knew they would. But what message would I send to his tender heart if I would choose attending a conference over attending to him in his sickness? On the flip side, what message would I send to my husband if I would choose to stay home with a sick boy rather than spend that precious week growing with him? 

God is doing a work in my heart, no doubt. There were many years before this one when I would have chosen fear or discouragement or self-pity when such a situation threatening to cause ruin to my beautiful plans. But that day, in those down-to-the-wire hours, I had peace knowing that if we stayed or went, that He would have a beautiful plan for either. I was strangely content in the midst of the struggle (after my brief worst-case-scenario freak out moment, of course).
Going to bed that night, I was mentally prepared to be up every hour, with a hungry babe on one knee and a sick little boy on the other. And I was worried about running out of lap space for the kindergartener, who I was certain would catch whatever bug had gone through the rest of our ranks.
And then it didn’t happen. 
I woke up once to feed the smallest one, and as I checked on my sick boy, he was sleeping peacefully in the same spot we had left him. The towels around him were still clean and dry. I said a quiet prayer of thanksgiving.
And at 5:15 the next morning, that sick little boy was climging on top of his dadda and over the couches, begging for “beckfrest.”
We were still holding our breath in anticipation of seeing those breakfast cheerios come up again, but they stayed down. And then some toast stayed down. And some milk. 
And we put our bags in the car. The kindergartener ready for the week ahead. The baby showing no signs of sickness. And my husband and I began to let ourselves get giddy with excitement. He was well! We were going to be able to go on our trip! We would not be separated for the week! We would not be spending hundreds of dollars on change-flight fees! 
God had heard our prayers, and in his mercy had given us just enough.

We had an amazing week. The conference revived my soul, my marriage, my long-distance friendships, my love for my Lord and my desire to work for Him.

As I return from “retreat” and enter into this season of “holiday,” this is a good word for my heart: that God gives us enough, that He is enough, that his gift of grace to us is enough. As I might get fretful about my to-do list and what will or will not go the way I expect, the Prince of Peace is present and has a Beautiful Plan that he wishes to introduce to me. No amount of worry on my part will do. The best thing I can do is confidently wait for him to show up. And he does. And he did. And he will.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.             Romans 15:13

Monday, October 26, 2015


I was asked this question last night: “What do you wish you would have known about having kids before actually having them?”
As my brain raced through all of the reactions in my head to this question, there was a silence on the phone line. How do I even begin to share what motherhood is like to a high school senior, conducting an interview to fulfill a child development assignment? My hands were wet in the sink busy with dinner dishes, my three-year-old in the midst of the post-bath naked dash to get a Pull-Up, my living room a mess of clothes needing to be folded and books scattered everywhere. 
What do I wish I would have known? How life-altering it is. How it can fill your heart and break it. How it magnifies every single selfish act. How it doesn’t stop. How it stretches you physically. How it is different for every person, with every child. How it exposes your weaknesses. How it challenges the way you spend your resources. How it opens doors to new experiences and situations and lots and lots of people. How it requires many weighty decisions. How it bonds. How it blesses. How it teaches. How it sieves out the unimportant. How it fulfills. How it empties. How complex it is. How much farther beyond one’s own capabilities it is. How wonderful picture books are. How amazing it is to introduce a young brain to life. How special to be someone else’s safe place. How honoring to be one of the voices to speak in to a little one’s soul. Tears find their way to the back of my eyes as I think about it.
But the ONE thing? Why not just ask me how to bring world peace? I think it might be easier to answer…
I exhaled and it came to me: the importance of a support system.
Because raising kids is beyond me. It’s beyond each of us. We can’t do it [well] on our own. And perhaps God planned it that way.
I think about what it would be like to try to be a mother without the help of my husband, without the example of my parents, without the experience of watching my brothers raise their children, without the unconditional love of the “grandparents” at church, without the friends and neighbors who welcome the boys alongside them as they change the oil or mow the lawn, without the people behind the websites that give advice, ideas and encouragement.
And, for me, the sticky, messy glue that holds these different pieces, prioritizes them puts them in their right place, and provides purpose for each piece is the Lord. My Father. The one whose wisdom, strength, courage, energy, determination, plan, foresight, forgiveness, compassion, love, and peace holds my life and heart. In every which way that I am weak as a mother, his strength is my support system. It sounds cliche as I write it down, but when my legs hit the ground chasing after three little people, I don’t need a small support. I need a BIG support. I don’t need just a mom’s group to see me through from week to week. I don't need just a date night every once in a while. I don’t need just another person to walk alongside me. I don’t need just a voice to give me advice.
I need God.
So I guess I wish I would have known how complex being a parent would be, and how I would desperately need a far-reaching support system. And how God would already be there, waiting for me and willingly giving me all that I would need.

“Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong.” Romans 16:24a

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Father's Lap

My five-month-old Simon is getting more and more mobile with each day that passes. I remember that with my first born, it seemed to take f - o - r - e - v - e - r for him to reach his gross motor milestones. With this one, it is happening way too fast. He’s rolling from his back to his stomach. He’s inching his way forwards and backwards. I saw him do a plank for a half a second today. And this week, he discovered he could roll from his stomach to his back. I feel like we’ve reached the point of no return. This little boy is going to move, whether the rest of us are ready for it or not.
Today he was sitting in my love’s lap, Dave doing what he could to keep him entertained while I got ready for the day. And this is what I saw: Simon squirming and wiggling with every developing muscle in his body, working his hardest to make his way out of that lap.

My dear friend Sherry, who has lots of experience raising kids and even more experience walking with the Lord, looked at Simon in my arms this past summer (when he was much more prone to cuddling), and was reminded of the way that God loves to hold us close. Ever since that day with her, my mind finds its way back to this picture of God holding us close, the way a parent holds their newborn baby—like there is nothing more precious, nothing more important for His arms to be doing than holding us close to His heart.
And how often do we respond in the way that a five-month-old might? We feel confident in our own newly-found abilities, we have our own ideas of what’s best for us, and we have the urge to get out. And God, in his wisdom and love, allows us to go… to wiggle… to squirm our way away from his lap. I’m sure we look ridiculous to him, as we slide down onto the ground and find ourselves in a position from which we don’t know the way out. Simon ended with his belly on the carpet and his face flat against Dave’s hairy leg. 

What follows is beautiful. 

Simon looked up at us with expectant eyes as if to say, “Can you get me out of here?” Of course, we did. And of course, God does. Every time that we think we know better than he does, he rescues us. Every time that somewhere else seems more appealing than his lap, he’s there to draw us back into his arms. Every time that we look up at him with those eyes that beg, “Can you get me out of here?” he reaches down in grace and love and pulls us up.

But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Psalm 73:28

Friday, October 2, 2015

If Only

The boys are on their two-week Fall Break right now. So, we’re getting lots of opportunities to have fun together, to spend time together, and, in the midst of our hours together, to grow in our relationships with each other—you know: the kind of growth that happens in the midst of good times and in the midst of bad times.
There we were, enjoying a laid-back meal together of the boys’ choosing. My love was working late, so our dinner was not as “formal” a time as normal, if our normal could be considered formal. The baby woke up as we were nearing the end of the meal, so I left the 5- and 3-year old to finish things up while I nursed Simon in the next room. Noah, the oldest, finished quickly. Apparently, whatever he ate gave his little frame a boost of energy;  pretty soon he was bounding into the living room, ready for action and giddily goofy. I sent him back to the kitchen to clear his dishes from the table, and then I returned to checking my email on my phone. About a minute passed and I realized that it was getting rowdy in the kitchen, and that Noah had not accomplished the task for which he had been sent. As I looked up from what I was doing, I saw Zeke (the 3-year-old always ready to hop on whatever bandwagon his brother is riding) toss his cup of milk across the table. [Thank God for cups with lids.] Well, throwing was not sufficient goofiness, so he proceeded to slam it around in his attempt to pick it up and then shake it. 
And all the moms know what happens next: 8 ounces of milk, all over the kitchen floor. Splatted on the wall. Wet on the legs of the table and chairs. Slippery in-between little three-year-old toes. If only I wouldn’t have given him a full cup! If only Simon would have slept a few more minutes! If only I wouldn’t have been on my phone! If only NOAH WOULD HAVE DONE WHAT I ASKED HIM TO DO!
As Zeke stood there, feet in milk, milk on floor, and I hurried to get Simon settled somewhere besides my lap, I was quick to anger and quicker to spout off from my mouth. “Zeke! We don’t throw cups! What is that?!?—The second time you’ve spilled a cup of milk today?? Why did you do that?!  Noah! Why didn't you do what I asked you to do? (grumbles under breath....)" 
If only, If only, If only.

Of course, spilled milk is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, so after a few towels and a conversation, we were able to put it behind us (and I began counting down the minutes until my love, a.k.a. my reliever, would come home).
Later that night, after all the boys were asleep, I read these words:
This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is good for you
and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Oh, that you had listened to my commands!
Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river
and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.” 
(Isaiah 48:17-18 NLT)
If only.
If only we would listen to God instead of going our own way. If only we would pay attention to our teacher and guide for the right path. He desires to bless our lives. He desires to give us peace and righteousness. How often do our lives look like we’re throwing cups and spilling milk, instead? How many good things have been wasted in our attempts to do things our own way?
If only.

Today, let’s pray for the understanding to hear our Leader’s voice, and for the wisdom to follow in his ways; that we would not be foolish with the blessings he has showered on us; and that we would not make hasty decisions based on what is popular around us. Let us look forward to His peace like a river and righteousness like the waves.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Bubble (the good and bad)

I have a confession: I live in a “mom bubble.”
My days consist of spending much of my time in my home.  When I’m not at home, I’m in my community running errands, at the schools where my boys attend, at my church, or in my friends’ homes. My most challenging conversations are with my kids’ friends who don't quite have all of their words and sounds perfected yet. Anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t watch much TV; anytime I do happen to catch the news, I don’t enjoy it. And if you looked at the apps on my phone, you would find Pinterest but not CNN. I read our community newspaper about once every three weeks, and I generally keep tabs on the world through my friends’ Facebook posts.
I’m not proud of this part of me, but it is definitely my M.O.
Usually, I find my bubble useful. I’m able to focus on the tasks in front of me—really investing in the lives that I have an ability to affect. I don’t stay up at night worrying about the stock market or national safety. I don’t waste hours keeping tabs on when the latest celeb will have her next baby. I find it’s easier to keep thoughts of God running through my brain rather than the spoutings of talking heads. My bubble helps me filter the voices that speak to my heart.
But, of course, my bubble has its down sides. I can’t generally join in on social conversations about what’s happening in the Middle East or what movies are playing at the theater on Friday. I don’t know what time the debate is scheduled for this week, and I can’t tell you what big legislation is or isn’t passing in the House right now. I don’t know the latest trend in kitchen gadgets or the hot styles for fall.
I wish I could filter what is good for my soul while letting in what is important for my head. 
While my current bubble is not perfect, I became thankful for one of its by-products this week: I am not over-sensitized.  When big stories make it through to my ears and head, they have a way of making it straight to my heart. 
Because I do not daily hear about tragedy, when I do, it is felt as just that: horrendous, heart-wrenching tragedy. Because I am not consistently exposed to the blackness of evil, when I see it, I can quickly identify it and hate it. When I hear about wars and torture and merciless men and hurting children and separated families and people fleeing their homes for their lives, my response is shock and compassion and hurt. I am all at once angry at the devil, worried about the future, thankful for blessings in my life, and awed by the individuals who live through such horrific trials. And my swelling heart cries out, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

I don’t know the best way to Raise Little Royalty in light of the sin in our world. I don’t know how thick or thin to shape their bubbles. All I know is that it is VITAL for me to introduce them to the One who is in charge of the heavens and the earth. The One who is worthy of these words:
O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
    You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.
You turn mighty cities into heaps of ruins.
    Cities with strong walls are turned to rubble.
Beautiful palaces in distant lands disappear and will never be rebuilt.
Therefore, strong nations will declare your glory;
    ruthless nations will fear you.
But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress.
You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat.
For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall, or like the relentless heat of the desert.
But you silence the roar of foreign nations.
    As the shade of a cloud cools relentless heat, so the boastful songs of ruthless people are stilled.

In Jerusalem, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world.
It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat.
There he will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth.
He will swallow up death forever!
    The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people.
    The Lord has spoken!
In that day the people will proclaim,
“This is our God!
    We trusted in him, and he saved us!
This is the Lord, in whom we trusted.
    Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!”

Isaiah 25:1-9

Saturday, September 12, 2015


My heart was heavy last night.
I got news of a kid I once knew, my little brother’s high school friend--the one that always had a mischievous smile and a quick joke. The news was this: that thirty-year-old kid was on a motorcycle one minute, and brain dead the next. God bless the off-duty nurse who was there to resuscitate his heart back to beating so that he could be transported to the hospital, so that his family could spend one last day with him.
My heart pictures his mom, and it hurts.

Oh, heart, why is it that no one speaks about this side of motherhood? How is it that our minds can be filled with images of sweet little baby toes and perfect nurseries and designer outfits, but that we can miss this very real side of motherhood? The side that hurts. The side that would give anything for one more day. The side that feels the weight of another’s life on one's own soul, but knows it lacks the strength to carry it. This, heart, is what you have been given wrapped up in your precious little bundle. Yes, there are many joys and laughter, but do not be a fool. There will also be events that will make you want to split in two and spill out all of the hurt that has bundled up inside. Dear heart, be wise. Be thankful. Do not be foolish and believe that right and wrong will always be so clear, or that the good you have now will be good forever. Treasure this moment, heart. Drink in deeply of healthy little ones who are kept safe under the same roof as your own. Treasure the requests for extra lovin’s, be thankful for the midnight wake-ups, rejoice in the little squabbles. These are gifts to you. Do not ignore them or think them light. They are preparing you for the weight of what the future might bring. Be wise, dear heart. Love today.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Saturday, August 29, 2015


August 28, 2015
Today is my birthday. 34. It feels like a funny year to celebrate. Perhaps the more and more kid’s’ parties I throw, the less and less exciting it is to have my own birthday. “What kind of party should we throw for Mom?” 5-year-old Noah asked my husband earlier this week. I’m sure he was thinking about Avengers or Minions or Frozen or something.
When we are little, birthdays seem like they are most importantly times for us to indulge in things we want. Even as adults, we do this. What do I want? What special thing  am I going to splurge on (or ask others to splurge on) so I can celebrate my birthday in the best way possible? What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? How do I get the most joy ?
This year, I didn’t have a desire to make my day exciting, to have friends over, or even for the boys to make me a cake. In years past, I’ve wanted to do things like going out for a long run or getting away by myself for a few hours or receiving exactly the present I was hoping for; but this year, I am out of shape, had alone time yesterday, and nothing on my list has a hold on my heart. So instead, we’re going to have a picnic in a park and go out for ice cream at a special place. It sounds perfect to me (especially since we’ve been out of ice cream in this house for the last two weeks!). Birthday Joy.
I got to sleep in this morning and was woken up by two sets of four limbs crawling onto my bed shouting, “Happy birthday!!  Wake up!! It’s time for breakfast!!” followed by secretive whispering, “We picked you flowers, but that’s not your present… and Dad’s going to bring home roses later, but that’s not your present either.” Birthday Joy.
I fumbled on my glasses and followed their happy feet out to the kitchen table where I found a cinnamon coffee cake muffin on a plate for me, one yellow candle sticking out of the center, and four impatiens petals scattered about. My love lit the candle, they sang, I made a wish and blew out the flame. Birthday Joy. 
I felt loved, appreciated and special. Birthday Joy.

But there is a joy that found its way into my heart and into my day that I did not anticipate or expect. At one point, my three-year-old Zeke (who was more than a little frustrating at various times throughout the morning), requested that we turn on some music and do some dancing. With baby Simon in my arms, we began singing and dancing around the living room. Zeke was happy, moving his body every which way and bounding around. A few moments into the song, I looked down, and there was three-month-old Simon, looking up at me and laughing. He had the biggest smile across his face, and he was giddy at the moves I was making. 
There is nothing like baby laughter to melt everything else in the world away. 
And with everything stripped away, I was left in my living room, holding this gift from God in my arms that brought joy to my soul. In that split second, God spoke something like this to me:

I have given you life. And your greatest joys will occur as you follow me. The rest of the stuff and the special things of this life do not matter—not even a little bit. Your Greatest Joy will be Me. Today, on this special day, and on every day, Christa, I am your joy.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Oh, the sweet sound of silence. I actually wish that I was writing this entry out by hand, so that all I could hear would be the sound of pen on journal paper. 9:38 p.m., and all I hear is the hum of the fridge, the click-clack of my keyboard, and a basketball hitting cement as the neighbor boy enjoys the temperate summer evening. 

This is the first time it’s been silent since 6:30 this morning, as I was woken up from my “morning nap” on the couch by two handsome and very energetic little boys. Since that time, I have gotten kids dressed and fed. I have studied Scripture with a friend. I have answered kid questions. I have gone to the grocery store. I have fed kids more. I have disciplined. I have soothed a baby’s cries. I have hung out with friends. I have pointed boys in the right way. I have sung song after song to get my three-year-old child to take a nap. I have picked up MagnaTiles and moved couches. I have pat the baby on my shoulder while reading a book to another child. I have worked over a soapy, watery sink with my five year old. I have been a listening ear for my husband.

And now this silence is so sweet to my ear and my soul. Some peace. Oh, sweet peace. Part of me wants to stay up all night and clean up my house in peace—put all the books back where they go and file all of the papers that need to get filed and throw away all of the old coupons that have been expired for two months. And the other part of me just wants to sit here and be silent with this silent house. I just want to let the silence weigh heavy in the air, let it soak into my bones, let it press its memory on my mind.

In this peace, in this silence, I want to hear God talk. Here in this place, all I need to think about is being His kid, not taking care of three kids. Here in this silence, I can begin to feel some restoration for my mind. My mind that is tired and a bit worn today. My mind that wonders if I’m up for this challenge of raising three boys, and doing it right. This mind that thinks a lot about giving anything, but wonders if I have anything to give.

My friend Katrina, who doesn’t like dust, asked tonight why anyone would willing put themselves into a position where they were camping. Well, Katrina, I think it’s the silence that draws me. I can get lost in the kind of silence that camping offers, surrounded by fir trees and stars. I can get lost in this silence that God is offering me this night. A chance to stop and to hear the voice he’s placed inside my heart—that quiet voice that often gets overrun by the noise around me. That voice that whispers, “I see you. You are loved. You are special. You are my precious kid. Rest here in my arms for a bit, my dear heart.”

Sounds good to me.

He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
Psalm 23:2-3

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Double Triple

Yesterday, we celebrated my second son's third birthday.

Ezekiel. The baby whose name caught us off guard. The baby whose strong will matched his strong frame. The baby who fought sleep. The toddler who brought me to tears. The toddler who screamed and used that voice to cut like a sword. The toddler who climbed up the ladder and slid down the slide on his own before he could even walk. The little boy who repeats everything his brother says (and does). The little boy who can hike up to Eagle Lake. The little boy whose hearty laugh infects the whole room. The little boy who shares all that he has with people around him. The little boy who is learning how to express his emotions. The little boy who is gaining an appreciation for using his strength for good.

This little boy turned three yesterday... and in the words of my dear friend, "he's two going on four."

As I was singing my energetic boy to sleep last night (ok, he was actually already asleep by the time I started singing--birthdays are draining!), God gave me a moment to glimpse into our past. The song I sang to my tuckered-out "big boy" was the same one I had made up a few years ago, when his refusal to sleep was wearing away at my sanity.

Oh, my little child, fall asleep;
Let the peace of Christ guard your heart.
Oh, my little child, fall asleep;
And from Him never depart.

Oh, my little child, close your eyes;
Wrap yourself in His great love.
Oh, my little child, close your eyes;
And dream sweetly of grace above.

And I saw for a moment how fleeting time is. Because it was not that long ago that I began to sing that song to him... but my worn-out three year old seems very far removed from that crying baby cradled in my arms.

It made me marvel at all the days that we have already passed through together, and it stirred excitement in my heart for the days ahead.

Happy Birthday, little guy. You are loved.

Praise [the Lord] for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Psalm 150:2

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Four weeks ago, we had the privilege of introducing another member to our family.

Simon's first day


He is amazing and perfectly perfect. He begun as God's idea, not ours (my love and I were quite happy with our two boys). God blessed our obedience to his will with an uneventful and fairly easy pregnancy and delivery. And now we are quite happy with our three boys.

We have been counting our blessings as we are adjusting to this new life. We are surrounded by the love and care of our church family, who have showered us with gifts, meals and kindness beyond our imagination. The outpouring of generosity has helped us in unspeakable ways as we transition to the new demands of having an infant in the house again.

The heart swells at different times when there's a newborn in your house. For me, my "falling in love" has been unique for each boy. With my first born, it came around week six, when he began responding to my interactions with him. With my second born, it was after he had been home for about a week. With Simon, my mom-heart loved him the moment I held him in my arms and witnessed his first breath.

But a few nights ago, I fell deeper. 

Simon's dark little eyes, which are now able to see much more than they could a few weeks ago, were focused on his big brother, Noah. We were all sitting together on the couch, reading our Bible storybook. Simon focused in on Noah's face and kept that focus, unwavering, for a few minutes. It was like he was taking time to memorize every single feature on his big brother's face.

That moment was made even more precious by the fact that this interaction took place on my oldest brother's birthday. Here is this new baby, a new soul, who is soaking up his environment, studying the face of his oldest brother--someone he will look up to and have a relationship with for many years to come. There will be a bond between them that is like none other. I thought about my special relationship with my oldest brother.

And my heart swelled with the thought of the special relationship these two will share.

Noah holds Simon for the first time

Who has done such mighty deeds,
    summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?
It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last.

    I alone am he.
Isaiah 41:2

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Trust and Patience

Well, yesterday was the day. The day that I had a five percent chance of meeting this little boy blessing who’s been residing within my body for the last 38 weeks. May 11. The day that’s been on the calendar and that’s been the topic of many conversations over the last half year.
I’m not frustrated that I didn’t get to meet him yesterday. Perhaps it’s the part of me that’s naturally patient. But even more than that, I feel like it’s the knowledge and trust I have in the God of all. The Lord of life itself, who challenged me over a year ago to relinquish my desire to control my family to him, has a plan for when this baby needs to be born. He will make it happen in his right time. And I am very satisfied to rest in that.
People are telling me that I’m “dropping” or that I look like it could happen at any time. That’s how I feel, but I also know from experience that people don’t really know what they’re talking about when it comes to gauging a pregnant lady’s “term.” I like how my doctor put it: her crystal ball is fuzzy. 

There’s just no way to know when a baby will be born, which in and of itself is a beautiful exercise in trust and patience. Perhaps God has each momma go through this exercise (multiple times for some of us) to give us a little practice in this trust and patience. There’s no doubt that as these little babies grow up into toddlers and young kids and old kids and grown kids that we continually must walk this line of trust and patience. 
We trust that God knows what’s best and has perfect timing in every circumstance. We trust that we are doing all we can as moms to aid the development of our children and provide for their safety and well-being.
We are patient (or if we’re not, we drive ourselves crazy with disappointment) for our children to reach each new milestone, to develop in ways that are good and pleasing, to make mature choices, to attain the ideals that we have set before them. And there is even more patience required when they do not even follow the path we desire for them, when they become who they are rather than who we want them to be.
Trust. Patience.

Perhaps I will forever be "practicing" this lesson.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I held him in my lap, his ear close to my heart, rocking back and forth slowly on the old rocking chair. This was not how it was.
Earlier, he had pushed my buttons to their limits. Earlier, he had looked at me with those testing eyes and done precisely what I had told him not to do. Earlier, he had been so whiny that I couldn’t even understand what he was trying to whine about. Earlier, he had been crying and frustrated. 
Earlier, I had no patience for his delays. Earlier, I had no grace for his deliberate disobedience. Earlier, I used my mean voice. Earlier, I put him in time out on multiple occasions. Earlier, I felt my heart filling with bitterness. Earlier, I buried my head in prayer because it was the only thing I had the strength to do. Earlier, I was crying and frustrated. 
Earlier, I thought that the battle to get his dirty pull-up changed followed by the battle to get him into his bed for nap would be the end of it. Earlier, I assumed that his poor attitude was from over-tiredness. Earlier, I was thankful for the silence I heard from the bedroom, signaling that sleep had come and that there was rest for my weary mom-soul.
But he woke from his nap groggy and crabby, still holding stubbornly to his idea of how the house should be run. I quickly put up my defenses, preparing for another hour of hard ball. He deliberately disobeyed; I threatened with more punishment. He cried and I looked at the clock, marking the minutes until my husband would be home. And I prayed again, “God, show me how to reach through to him.” I was tired of being frustrated with him, and he was sick of being the source of my frustration. He stood at the door to the backyard, weeping.
I put dinner in the oven and walked over to him, not knowing what to do. I picked him up and he held on tight. So I held on tight. I sat down in the rocking chair that gets rare use. And we rocked. He and I. Me and him. His sobs gradually slowing, and then silencing, as I lightly rubbed his back. We stayed like that for a long time. I talked to God about redemption, and thanked him for redeeming me as a mom and my son as a boy. Peace found its way back to my soul. I spoke in soothing words to my boy about forgiveness and love. He snuggled into me and his breathing slowed. I had dinner in the oven and a baby moving around in my belly, but I didn’t care. There was no other thing I wanted to be focused on in that moment than my relationship with my son. There was no room for anything in my heart than beholding the beautiful joy of being brought back together after pushing each other away. In a simple act, a simple sharing of space and silence and slowed breaths, the cares and frustrations from before vanished like smoke, and were replaced by true and lasting love from God. 

Dear heart, this is redemption. This is forgiveness. This is love.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me for I have redeemed you.
Isaiah 44:22

Monday, April 20, 2015


The afternoon breeze that moves the leaves of our large shade tree in back is cool today. The spring sun is warm, traveling down through blue sky, remiss of any cloud. The wind picks up again and there is a rustle of sweet beauty outside. Inside the house is silent. The boys are sleeping and my love is out for a run. Here in this tranquility, I am thankful for peace. Like the cool breeze that gives life to resting leaves, the peace of this quiet house is precious.

Soon, the boys stir, both waking up at the time time. The big one ready for a snuggle; the small one ready for a snack.Berry-flavored yogurts. Peanut butter and honey. Water. This, too, is precious: this peace of being able to provide for them as their mom. To give them food when they are hungry. To establish routines of predictability for their growing brains. To read them stories to inspire their imaginations. To have peace and love come together. Here is the joy of being a mom.
Now they sit in front of the TV for their screen time of the day, providing commentary to the video game in the unique way that boys do. There is no arguing, no hitting, no yelling. Just the relaxed conversations of boys who are home. Sweet peace.
A day is coming soon when we will introduce another little boy into this clan. As he moves to find a comfortable place within my belly, I wonder where his comfortable place will be within these walls and within this family. Will his arrival bring peace? My previous experiences with newborns stirs up in me senses of exhaustion and loud cries and constant demands: practically the opposite of peace in my head.
Perhaps that is why God has been working in me a great lesson in peace. He is showing me that it comes daily—that it cannot be stored up, but I must be dependent on him for its existence in my life. He is showing me how it comes in small times and in small ways, usually at times when I do not expect it, and when it would be easy to gloss over it; but those are the powerful moments—those moments when we are only aware of his magnificent work if we take a step back to look outside of ourselves to what is going on around us. His peace is precious indeed.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Balance: the ability to keep everything steady and in right alignment.

They say during pregnancy that one's balance is off. Blame the extra hormones and lax ligaments. This lack of balance has kept me from so much as touching my road bike for the last seven months, and it makes me extremely "tackle-able" by the boys. 

However, my physical balance hasn't been the only thing that's been off lately.  As I think this morning about the lessons I'm learning right now, and the ways in which I've been challenged in the previous month, a lack of balance seems to be at the core. For example:

  • Today I have plenty of energy and drive. I crossed five things off my to-do list before 9:00 a.m. I think that's twice as many things as I accomplished ALL DAY yesterday, when I was dragging to even get one kid into the car.
  • This week, I feel fully connected to my love, which is a glad change of events from last week, where I felt like I was spending more time with the dishes than I was with him.
  • On days where the boys are both in preschool or when they take long naps, I am organized and on top of the projects I'm working on. But... that's opposed to every other day of the week when there are either no naps or no down time. On those days, I wonder how I'll ever be able to follow through on the commitments that I've made.
  • There are days when I am confident that our family system can handle the change that a new baby will bring. And there are days that the fear of what is to come is so overwhelming that it freezes me in my tracks.

My love calls me a professional waffler. I think he's right. Even so, the chaos of imbalance of the day-to-day is almost enough to drive me bananas.

As long as I'm aware of my need for balance, and the steps to take to achieve it, it should be relatively easy to attain, right? But when I'm put into the driver's seat, I feel like a cautious four year old who isn't ready to give up his training wheels. I hold on to the things that make me comfortable: the very things that hinder me from attaining true balance.

So I land here: the only way to get the balance that I need is to put my mind and heart into complete imbalance, to forget the notion of having my life look like a level balance scale, and instead, to focus solely on the One who outweighs everything else.

There is the stability. There is the end to chaos. And through the imbalance of a heart that is focused, He can bring balance to all that is desired.

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Isaiah 26:3

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


A fever and my four-year-old.  It's like watching a merry-go-round in slow motion.

The cheer is still behind his words and there is a hint of sparkle still in his eyes, but his movement happens at a snail's pace.  His mind and heart are ready to join in the activity around him, but his body urges him to draw up his oversized green blanket and find a couch.

Our days are passed with thermometer readings, board games, puzzles, "What can we do now?", worksheets, screen time, books, naps and snuggling. Lots and lots of snuggling. Going on six days...

I've got to be honest: there is a part of me that wishes for less snuggling.  You mean you want me to ignore the veggies I just started sautéing on the stove?  You need to snuggle with me? Again? I wonder how I could multitask during this snuggle session...  But there is a wiser part of me that knows this time is brief, that for these passing moments, this little guy needs the comfort of companionship so that he is not alone in his sickness.  "Can you leave the door open? I'll just nap on the couch. Who's going to come be with me so I won't be lonely?" All phrases he has spoken more than once in recent days.  All phrases that give me a glimpse into his heart.

When he's hurting, he seeks to be in loving arms.

This afternoon, I'm challenged to think about how God responds to our needs for snuggles in the midst of our discomfort and pain. He never tells us that he has other things that he needs to be doing, or that time spent with us is not productive enough. He does not ask us to "go it alone" or tell us to wait until he's available.  He is always available.  Always willing.  Always attentive to our cries. 

When we are hurting, we can always seek out his loving arms.

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” 
Psalm 12:5

There is no one like the God of Israel.
    He rides across the heavens to help you,
    across the skies in majestic splendor.
The eternal God is your refuge,
    and his everlasting arms are under you. 
Deuteronomy 33:26-27

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young. 
Isaiah 40:11

The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders. 
Deuteronomy 33:12

That's enough to give me the motivation I need, for all the snuggling needed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


This morning, Noah and I had a discussion about our plan to "give something up" as a family for Lent.  I suggested not playing the Wii, using the iPad or eating treats out of their Halloween pumpkins (yes--we are still milking our Halloween candy around here).  Personally, I'd be happy to be the one to choose which option we pursue, but there's just something about imposing a sacrifice on someone else that seems hypocritical.

He came up to me later when I was putting away laundry:
"Mom, maybe we could not play outside during Lent, because I don't really like playing outside that much," he reasoned.

I can see this is going to be more difficult than I thought...

Hopefully, when Dave comes home, he can use some of his stellar "daddy-negotiation skills" to help us come to an agreement on our idea of sacrifice.


Earlier this week, I came up with a list of Lent and Easter ideas to do with little kids to share with my church.  I'm sharing it here, too.  Hope you enjoy picking out some activities for you to share the meaning of Lent with your kids! 

And if you have any ideas on convincing a four-year-old about the benefits of sacrifice, I'd love to hear them. 

20 Family Ideas for Celebrating Lent and Easter

  1. Follow a “path to Easter” like this one.
  2. Make a paper chain. Choose a certain color for the 40 days of Lent, and add a special color for each Sunday.  This is a great way to count down with little ones.
  3. Create a “Lenten Tree,” using a vase, tree limbs and 45 Bible verses (one for each day between Ash Wednesday and Easter). Read a verse together as a family each day as you take it off the tree. The tree will be bare by the Saturday before Easter, and then you can decorate that same tree Easter morning with beautiful Easter decor! Check out this for a visual.
  4. Decide as a family what to sacrifice during Lent: candy, a gaming system, soda, movies, eating out. Teach your kids why sacrifice reminds us of Jesus. Try to replace these things with prayer time or time serving others.
  5. Take one item out of your pantry every day of Lent.  By Easter, you’ll have a large donation bin of food that you can give to the local food bank.
  6. Memorize a simple prayer or Bible verse together.
  7. Start a “Sacrificial Love Jar.” Each time you see your kids (or spouse) acting in a way that reminds you of Jesus’ love for us, add a jellybean (or coin or other treat) to the jar. On Easter, enjoy the sweets of sacrifice!
  8. Read an Easter story together.
  9. Create/Plant an Easter Garden.  Here’s a great tutorial.
  10. Make an Easter Basket for a neighbor. Make sure to include items that help them know the true reason for Easter joy!
  11. Make a Crown of Thorns out of play-doh and toothpicks.
  12. Light a candle during dinner. You might want to add a candle for each of the days of Lent (better make sure you have 40 candles!) or just add one with each passing week of Lent.
  13. Gather spare change during the 40 days of Lent, keeping it in a special jar.  On Easter, you can make a meaningful offering as a family, or donate it to a charity.
  14. Watch an Easter movie, like Veggie Tales’ An Easter Carol.
  15. Make “Temptation Cookies.” Have the kids help you make cookies. Leave them out in the kitchen after they’ve been baked, but don’t allow the kids to eat them until the following day.  Talk about temptation, and how Jesus was tempted, but never sinned, so that we could have salvation. Sweet!
  16. Color Easter Eggs. Talk about how NEW LIFE represents what happens on Easter.
  17. Give your kids meaningful Easter Baskets.  Check this out for inspiration.
  18. Buy Resurrection Eggs for your family like these, or make your own set like this.
  19. Watch caterpillars morph to butterflies with a kit like this. Talk about how Jesus’ resurrection means changed lives for all Christians.
  20. Make Resurrection Rolls—my favorite!