Baby Number Four: A Birth Story

I came to a different and awed understanding of what life is. It’s not what you think it is. First, what you call your life is not yours at all – not yours to plan, manipulate, or control, at least not very often. That’s a staggering realization. I was humbled to see that the maturity and serenity I thought I had achieved was simply the result of having things my way all the time. If life wasn’t mine, what was it? In fleeting moments of deep satisfaction and insight, I saw the absolute truth of life…love that is no mere word, love that goes beyond feeling, love that is life itself. I was filled with a rush of respect for all mothers everywhere. This was how we all got here. What miracles, what sacrifice, what love! I never knew, nor could I have, before now. Can you imagine this love? Can you anticipate it, fabricate it, measure and evaluate it? No, you can’t, you can only be love, and your child will release its magnitude within you. -from Momma Zen, by Karen Maezen Miller

Where do I start? Continue reading “Baby Number Four: A Birth Story”

The Source of Bad Days

Being a parent is way harder than I ever expected. I don’t know what I expected, exactly, but it wasn’t this.

I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to learn what I needed/need to know.

All I knew, at the time, was that Edward and Bella were in love and about to have a baby and ohmygosh I’M IN LOVE and I’M ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY! (Yes, I was reading Twilight when I was pregnant with my first. I have no regrets about this fact.)

Continue reading “The Source of Bad Days”

The Beautiful And The Brutal

In recent days, we’ve experienced the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. The most beautiful of beautiful that life has to offer, and the absolute most brutal of brutal.

And really, I’m sure you have too.

Whether it is in listening to the news or listening to a friend share her heart, the beautiful and the brutal seem to never be too far apart. They coexist on the same plane. Life never seems to be all roses, but truly, nor is it ever all thorns. Continue reading “The Beautiful And The Brutal”

We Did This. We Built Busy

I do this thing where I will emphatically, without any doubt in my mind, come to a decision. Done. Decided. Good to go.

But then, as I’m in conversation with others and start to feel a hint of either disapproval or maybe even just differing viewpoint on the subject, I start to doubt. This of course leads me to obsessively attempting to explain myself. I start to feel crazy at the thought that the other person doesn’t agree, because does that mean I’ve made a mistake? I believe what I believe so strongly! What does it say about me if what I believe so strongly isn’t reflected in the beliefs of the people I so admire?

I tailspin from there.

I’m just being honest with you. I don’t know why I feel the need to preface today’s post with this little caveat, I just do. Maybe it’s because I process my thoughts through my writing, and I’m really trying to get to the other side of this annoying little habit of mine. Because really, it’s super annoying.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with defending my beliefs on busyness.

Here’s the thing. The pull of my heart has been away from busyness and towards a life of hard work and meaning. I’m starting to understand that most of us confuse hard work with busyness. We think we are achieving so much by our busyness, yet simultaneously making ourselves and everyone else around us miserable in the pursuit of busyness.

You might say, “But I don’t pursue busyness, it just happens. Life is just busy!”

Bull crap. Cancer happens. Loss of a loved one happens. Fertility struggles happen. Busyness doesn’t just happen, we choose it. We choose it by not choosing the alternative. We choosing it by not asking ourselves if there is an alternative. We choose it by allowing others to dictate to us what is important. We build a cage of our own making, and then flail against it’s bars bemoaning the loss of our freedom and our happiness, never once stopping to notice the tools that built the cage which are still in our very own hands.

We did this. We built busy. Continue reading “We Did This. We Built Busy”

Two Children’s Books, Reviewed!

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetI recently signed up to become a book reviewer and I’m looooving the gig. It’s been fun seeing what shows up at my doorstep.

Recently, I received two kids books that I was pretty impressed with, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. This isn’t a sponsored post. I was simply given an advanced copy of these books in exchange for my unbiased review. Take a look!

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Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall & Denver MooreProcessed with VSCO with m5 preset

Denver Moore spent years as a homeless man on the streets of Fort Worth Texas, until he met Debbie and Ron Hall who befriended him and gave him a fresh start in life. Together, they wrote this book and traveled the states, reminding others that we are the “same kind of different,” because we are all different from each other. Their story gives “homeless” a name, a story, and a face.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a touching and inspirational story of compassion, faith, and of the importance of becoming the hands and feet of Jesus. The story is told in a way that is easy for children to understand, but is sure to inspire readers of all ages.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Denver Moore, and would be a wonderful addition to any home library, inspiring us all with the important reminder that, “You can help somebody too.”

I. Loved. This. Book.

It inspired me. It moved me. I can’t wait to read it to my kids.

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Jesus Calling, The International Children’s Bible, with devotions from Sarah YoungProcessed with VSCO with m5 preset

First, let’s start with how the Bible looks. It’s a hard back, with lovely illustrations and regular weighted paper pages. The back of the Bible says it translated at a third grade reading level. Some third graders will be ready to care for this Bible, which looks and feels more like an adult Bible than the heavier weighted pages of a board book geared towards the toddler aged set, but some will not.

The Bible reads like a book, with the chapter and verses clearly marked. I liked that they kept the text simple, both in the translation and in the sense that they kept it free from extra notes or references. The appearance is clean, straightforward, and easy to read.

Scattered throughout the Bible are devotions that start to nudge kids towards understanding and applying the truth of the text. I particularly liked the “Jesus Calling Moments” where a single verse and truth is pulled out to help the little readers understand the heart of the message.

The back of the Bible has a fantastic dictionary, a quick reference guide titled “Where Do I Find It?,” a thoughtfully curated list of God’s promises and memory verses for young readers, and a space for notes.

I loved the translation, and found it easy to read and understand. Although translated at a third grade reading level, it is simple enough for even younger children to grasp if read aloud to them. For example:

The Lord listens when I pray to him.

Psalms 4:3

This Bible would best suit children who are already reading on their own and are ready to start spending time reading for their own personal interest and application.

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So, what did you think? Helpful? Let me know if you’d like to continue hearing my reviews of other books as I receive them. They will cover a variety of topics, genres, and ages.

Happy reading!

On Dreams, And Staying In Your Bullseye

Thanks to Christy Nockels and her amazing podcast, The Glorious in The Mundane, for the inspiration of the bullseye image!

God created us to dream. Our dreams are not meant to taunt or tease us. They are not an accident. They are God-given, on purpose, for a purpose.

The problem for most of us, though, is that we start with a dream. God grant me this…God do this work in my life…God fulfill this dream

We decide what our dreams are, then take them to God and ask that he make them happen. We dare to stand before the creator of dreams, the creator of imagination, and say: I want this thing, please make it happen. I know what’s best.

And then, when our dreams don’t come true, we blame God. We think that perhaps he doesn’t care about our dreams. We think that perhaps, he doesn’t want what is best for us. We think that perhaps, there is no point in dreaming.

The reality, of course, is that there is no bigger dreamer than God. He invented dreams and passions and creativity and placed them inside all of us. But – It doesn’t start with a dream – it starts with him.

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God has been teaching me about dreams lately, but in the most unusual of ways. He has showed me the paradox of dreams; that we don’t start with the dream, we start with the dream giver.

We start, with God.

Picture a bullseye.  Continue reading “On Dreams, And Staying In Your Bullseye”

This Is Our Exit

PART I
When God takes you down a path you never knew you wanted, to lead you to things you never knew you needed. 

I’ve heard some people say that the idea of finding balance in life is a myth.

That, for lack of better terms, and also because I’m a 90 year old woman at heart – is malarky.

The myth, is our understanding of balance.

More often than not, we seek this perfect blend of factors that will yield us peace, happiness, and contentment by attempting to manipulate our scales.

You put this amount of work hours here, and I’ll put this amount of work hours there. I’ll manage this task, while you manage these. You spend this amount of money on me, and I’ll reward you with this amount of affection. I’ll watch our children these days but you watch them on these days. The scales tip, first one way, then then the other, and suddenly…balance. Steady. Even. Still.

That form of balance is a myth. I’ll grant you that. But that is not balance. That’s bartering at best, manipulation at worst.  Continue reading “This Is Our Exit”

On Anxiety

I’ve struggled with anxiety for the past few years. Ironically the more clearly I could hear the gentle whispers of God telling who he made me to be, the stronger I felt the pressure of other people’s expectations.

More often than not, anxiety is breed in the fertile ground between who we feel and know we are, and who people say we should be.

The space that says, you are not enough. You should be more. You should do more. You should do differently. You are too different. You are not worthy. You do not belong. You are unwanted. You are unsuccessful. You will never measure up.

That space. Continue reading “On Anxiety”