Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Virtual Christmas Letter

Let me just wipe off the layers of dust from this old blog...

Happy Advent, dear friends, and so very soon a Merry Christmas!! I think I'm finally resigned to this season of my life not being a blogging season but I don't think I'll ever close it down for good, so here's a little peek into our life this year.

Honestly, it's been a wonderful year. The prior year held many challenges and this year felt redemptive. We still had our ups and downs this year (even some significant downs) but our marriage and family relationships just seemed to thrive through it all and that was such a blessing.

P. continued to stay busy with his pro-life and social justice work for the Church and has even been sought after as a speaker in other dioceses farther away. Remember how we almost adopted a baby who was scheduled to be aborted but the mother decided to parent? That story was picked up and published by the Day 41 magazine of 40 Days for Life, which was exciting for all of us (they very kindly gave us the complimentary family photos I'm including here). Besides his hard work for building a culture of life, he is an amazing daddy here at home. Even when we were dating, I knew he'd make a great dad whenever I watched the creative and energetic ways he played with his niece and nephews. As I write this, he is dressed in a "blanket cloak" being Joseph while my daughter is dressed as Mary and playing with baby doll "Jesus."

I have settled in more and more to my role on the home front and love it. Though there are many moments when I feel in over my head with the exhaustion and responsibility of it all, I really do treasure this opportunity to stay home with my babies every day. I'm also deeply grateful for a large network of mama support in our area. Several of us got to attend a mothers' retreat this Advent with the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor and it further deepened my gratitude for both my vocation and my friends. Besides full-time momming, I still write monthly for can see my posts here. This fall with some help from two other moms and my husband, I began a miscarriage ministry called Zelie Ministry. We have sent care packages to over a dozen grieving parents so far and I love that God is helping us "comfort those with the comfort we've received" (2 Cor 1:4).

G is our sweet, sensitive, smart, and imaginative girl. She has made incredible strides with her speech and delights us daily with her many thoughts and opinions. Her play skills are through the roof with creativity and I love to watch her play baby dolls or Barbies. She also is my little sous chef and crafting partner. She and little brother enjoy a once a week Musikgarten music class but otherwise we have not done any formal education. We have almost officially decided we will begin homeschooling next year but haven't completely ruled out our parish school or a local classical academy for down the road.

J is our impulsive, charming, energetic, and cuddly boy. His daily antics both exasperate me and melt my heart. We never knew our difficult reflux baby would turn into one of the happiest, funniest little buds you ever met. He is passionate and determined and loves to make people laugh. He loves music and will rarely sit still unless someone begins singing a song, then his attention is all yours.

Baby#3 (!!!) is currently growing rapidly and taking up lots of room in mommy's tummy. We have had several scares during this pregnancy (a fall down the stairs with a resulting bleed being the most complicated) but we continue to trust in the Lord's providence and presence, and we are so very grateful to be adding another child to our family. When you have walked the valleys of subfertility and miscarriage, every new child just feels like an overwhelming and abundant gift. We can't wait to meet this little one and watch the love and joy multiply.

If I were blogging more, I would also tell you more about some of my recent favorite things: homemade chocolate peppermint biscotti, DIY vinyl-lettered floursack towels for Christmas gifts, discussing The Heart of Perfection book by Colleen Carroll Campbell with my book club (I cannot recommend this book enough!!!), prayers and coffee by the light of the Christmas tree when I can sneak down alone in the morning, air-popped popcorn dates with my husband watching our newest series after the kids are in bed, and keeping up with my best friends long-distance using the Marco Polo app.

Wishing you and your families a Christmas season full of His true peace and joy, and a new year of blessings that draw you closer to His heart.

Emmanuel. We are grateful.

Friday, July 5, 2019


Since I pretty much only do occasional book reviews and even less occasional old-school blogging, I figured it's time for a post of the latter...maybe if I start these Friday Quick Takes tonight I'll be able to post them by next week. ;)

1. Food. Because we all know I think about it a lot. Cooking it. Eating it. Planning it. And all that good stuff. Child number one likes meat and veggies but has lately been unpredictably picky about what she wants (tonight refused pizza. I know). Child number two likes fruit and dairy and doesn't like to sit still enough to eat enough of either. Husband number one is on a dairy/egg free diet ordered by a doctor for two months. So for all these reasons, cooking and meal planning actually haven't been as fun for me as they usually are. I, however, am not pregnant or breastfeeding for the first time in almost three years and have zero dietary restrictions so give me all the summer potlucks and forbidden foods. I recently made myself (no one else was able/wanted to eat it) a delicious quiche from Magnolia Table (I heart Joanna Gaines) and even splurged on the fontina and gruyere cheeses it called for. I enjoyed that for breakfast daily for a week. Amazing!

as usual, my food photos reveal why I am not a food blogger

2. Mornings. Little Man is currently an early riser and is rather noisy and clingy when waking up. I didn't really enjoy my mornings very much when this first started occurring because it was such a difficult task to try to keep him content and quiet (sister sleeps an hour longer sometimes) while trying to pray myself and drink a cup of coffee. Enter summer mornings outdoors! Somehow I started taking him for a morning run in our jogger stroller and we both LOVE it! I have no major running goals but it feels so. good. to be out that early and getting the exercise. He loves the movement and nature. We both are refreshed when we get home and enjoy breakfast together (still a bit loud and messy on his end) and I have switched my devotion/coffee time to be during my breakfast. I'm also starting to add in walking or biking with him in addition to running (not all in the same day. ha. Just one of the three.)

3. Speaking of morning prayer, I will be sharing my current routine soon and would love to hear more about yours! Or your evening prayer routine-- my morning one is good but my evening one lacks badly!!

4. We had a HORRIBLE stomach bug this June. The kids got it the worst. It was Little Man's first time and that's just never fun to watch your baby throw up and feel awful and not understand why. It breaks your heart. Sweet G gets stomach viruses really severely and we had to take her to the ER. I am so, so grateful for health these past few weeks. Sometimes I tremble in my boots flip flops when I think of how much sickness we're going to have over the coming years as we raise and add little ones to our family. I know it builds their immune systems, but man.

5. In the weeks after our recovery, we have done all sorts of fun summer things. The weather is topping out in the 90's lately but we still are enjoying it! We have visited many metroparks, ate lunch with Daddy at work, played outside in our kiddie pool and sprinkler, ate popsicles, taken walks and bike rides...all the summer good stuff. This week P had off and we went to the zoo, a state park, a splash pad, and stayed with my parents at their river house. Sweet G fed a parakeet from her hand at the zoo with Daddy and loved it. Mommy was a little nervous walking through the "keet retreat" where they had 150 (doth my fear exaggerate this estimate? I know not) parakeets and other birds in a room on fake trees flying to and fro that you could feed (the birds were flying, not the, and you fed the birds not the trees...too lazy to go fix all that grammar).

little family photo op at a metropark

6. I'm reading a ton this year. I wish I had the time to update you on mini reviews of all of them. I love my Kindle so much. (maybe I shouldn't love an inanimate object? I greatly esteem it?...just finished Sense and Sensibility...). Currently reading a fascinating memoir by a Navy SEAL. Could talk forever about books but need to wrap this up so I can grab a snack and get to bed! We were up late at my parents' last night and we all need a normal night's sleep tonight in our own beds!

7. I have had some great scores as usual at the local garage sales. My kids get in on the excitement as you can see in the pictures. But seriously. Such deals! That cute winter coat for $1 and the booster high chair for $4! Also-- look how much my girl has changed! Thank you, Google photo, for those little time capsule photo things you send me. Oh my heart. That's all for now, friends. More to come someday on books, miscarriage ministry, road trips, and prayer routines! Thank you for your patience with my hurried, unedited blogging. Better unedited than never, right? ;) Have a wonderful weekend!

He is JUST as ornery and charming and high-energy and adorable as he looks!

All the heart eyes. 

Linking up with Kelly!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dear Mom Scrolling Through Social Media

Dear Mom Scrolling Through Social Media,
I see you there, after the bedtime craziness, taking a few minutes (or an hour? Oh, these addictive phones … ) to scroll through Pinterest, see what’s new on Facebook, and check your Instagram. It’s been a long day and you deserve this time to yourself. Grab a handful of chips and even a bowl of ice cream. I won’t judge … I eat a lot of ice cream.
But do you ever have those times when the social media and ice cream just aren’t cutting it? Instead of feeling relaxed and connected and content afterwards, you feel restless, unsettled, even a little empty or sad? Yeah. Me too.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Recent Reads

Earlier this year I mentioned how I had gotten into a habit of negative thinking and complaining. When I saw this book, I thought it looked like a fun read with a good message-- a serious topic dealt with using a bit of sympathy and humor based on the title! It was a great read! There were a few times I felt like it got long and drawn out. A few times it seemed like just another book on motherhood. But overall I have to say it really made me think and it really was convicting. The author is excellent about sharing her own story to be relatable but doesn't stop there with justification or excuse. Instead she calls both the reader and herself to a higher place and helps us examine our motives for why we allow ourselves to get into complaining or negativity about motherhood and 'the daily grind.' I really appreciated the way she gently yet persistently argued against acceptance of motherhood just being a hot mess (even though we all have those days) and encouraged the reader to dive deeper into our spiritual lives for things that might be holding us back from excellence (yet NOT perfection!) in motherhood. 4 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for my complimentary e-copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Oh, I wanted to like this one more than I did. I LOVE Amy Parker's children's books and was excited to see she was coming out with a collection of Biblical bedtime stories. Maybe I set myself up for disappointment with my high expectations. The stories are good. The pictures are good. The 'extras' are good. But it's all just good...and I kind of expected great. The book is smaller than I thought for a collection of stories and I think it would be better if it were a larger size. I couldn't figure out the target age range for the stories. On one hand, the book seems better for a child who can read it him/herself. Yet since it's a bedtime collection, it seems as if it should be read to a younger child. Plus there are some slightly cheesy rhymes with each story...maybe too cheesy for older kids? Yet my almost-3-year-old seems too young to understand the stories written as they are, especially without many pictures and in a smallish book. Am I being hard to please? Maybe. But unfortunately was just 3 out of 5 stars for me.

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days where all the crazy was shaken up and poured out. The house was so messy and I felt like I had a million things started and nothing finished. Crumbs, laundry, name it, it was on the floors. A plastic Easter egg full of play dough was mysteriously empty and I had to call Poison Control because most likely Little Man had eaten it. (I knew it was nontoxic but this was a huge amount!). Then later that afternoon I found him in the laundry room eating coughing up lint from the dryer. While he finished up a snack of applesauce and yogurt, I attempted to get dinner made...only to turn and find much of it in his hair while his big sister G was drawing black marker "tiger stripes" all over her arms and hands. So we had an impromptu bath before dinner and ate soup without the homemade breadsticks I wanted to make. Oy! It was one of those days!

But today was too. One of those days where everything runs smoothly. I swept and mopped and vacuumed the floors while Little Man napped. Miss G had her first eye doctor appointment and behaved like a ten-year-old instead of two-year-old...I was so proud of her. We had a fun outing to the library with both kids and they happily ate the peanut butter sandwiches I packed for lunch on the way home in their carseats while I peacefully drove. They played (mostly) quietly together in the afternoon. I didn't even have to make dinner because I had put meatloaf and veggies in the crockpot before we left in the morning. I even caught some time for a cup of tea and a book. Ahhh. It was one of those days.

Tonight I drove to the Adoration Chapel for some prayer time while my husband watched the kids (I need to do this way more often than I do!). As I passed by the cemetery and prayed a quick prayer for the souls (#Catholic), I reflected on the past couple days and realized what a drop in the bucket "those days" are. How fleeting this life can be. How the people in those graves had crazy days and smooth days and days in between. But those days are gone now and they're in eternity. My own days are numbered too and those days are going fast. I don't mean this in a creepy way or sad way but in a sobering, slow-down-and-live, think-of-eternity way. Some days I can't believe I'm married with two kids who are growing so fast-- the single years seemed so long! It's easy for me to let my thoughts and emotions be affected by how each day unfolds, but when I step back and think about the bigger picture I want to be more steadfast. More unshaken by the circumstances of my days (good or bad!) and more focused on a faithful development of virtue and gratitude in the daily life.

One of these days, I'll wake up and realize my kids slept through the night (soon, Lord, soon! ha!). But one of these days, I won't get to cuddle with a footie-pajama'd baby in the wee hours of the morning. One of these days, I might be able to concentrate for a whole Mass without interruption or littles tugging on me. But one of these days, I'll miss seeing the precious way my toddler tries to genuflect like mommy and daddy do.

One of these days, they'll be grown up and out of the house, even though I can't imagine that now.

One of these days, a long time from now God-willing, my days on earth will come to and end and I hope I'll enter into eternity with God in heaven.

But for today, just for today, I'll live with gratitude for this amazing gift of life and all the people who share it with me. Even if it's one of those pour-out-the-crazy days.

We found the play-dough today, if you were wondering.

Friday, March 22, 2019

7 Things That Got Me Through Winter

It's Sprrrriiiiiiinnnng! Yay!!! However, just for fun here are seven things that made my winter tolerable enjoyable. Linking up for Quick Takes today. Happy Friday, friends! :)

1. Podcasts. I have finally understood why people like podcasts! Downloading the Stitcher app was one key for me, as it makes it so much easier to subscribe to ones I like and easily access them as well as be notified of new episodes. My favorite podcast these days is At Home With Sally (Sally Clarkson). I have officially become a huge fan of her (I've reviewed her books on here before). I was originally intimidated but the more I read and listen, I am delighted to find she is a both wise and humble mentor for women in general, but especially for young mothers. Other podcasts I like are Don't Mom Alone, Messy Parenting, and Cultivating the Lovely. How about you? Are you a podcast fan? Let me know ones I should listen to if so!

2.  Fresh flowers. I love that Aldi carries beautiful bouquets (including roses!) for only $3.99. I've gotten a few different ones to last almost two weeks in our home. I loooooove flowers, so having fresh bouquets here and there throughout the winter, especially after Christmas was over, really brought me so much joy!

3.  These faces. I love them so much. Winter can be hard with littles and being cooped up inside so much, but there's also so much joy spending time with them, playing with them, singing and dancing and watching them learn and laugh each day.

4. New makeup regimen. I bought two new makeup items that decreased my routine in half. I don't wear a lot of makeup but just a bit each day makes me feel freshened up and ready for the day. My new items are Mineral Wear foundation powder (now one step instead of the previous tinted moisturizer and powder I used to use) and Burt's Bees blush/lip stick (now one item instead of both blush and lipstick). I haven't timed myself but I'm pretty sure I can do my makeup routine in literally one minute. It's great. If only I could make my hair look nice in that amount of time. ;)

5. The Office. I am such a closet fan of this show but I'm admitting it here. The first time I watched an episode was ten years ago and I thought it was the stupidest, most crude show ever...what does that say about me that I think it's funny now?? Oh dear. But P and I struggle to find stuff that we both enjoy if we watch TV in the evenings, and this show has provided so much lighthearted humor in only twenty minutes so we're able to do our own thing (read, pray, etc.) but then sit back for a twenty-minute episode before bed. Are you like the young me or the current me? Do you love the show or find it repulsive?

6. New projects. I continue to write for once a month and it's a great push for improving my writing. My latest article is here on a topic I'm currently passionate about (see #7). I also am in the process of organizing a miscarriage ministry for our diocese with two other moms. It's been on my heart for awhile now and there's just such a need. It's been incredible to see God send us signs that He wants this too.

7. Getting together with friends. I have been intentionally pursuing friendship for the past couple months and we try to have one to two play dates per week. I also try to send more cards in the mail to friends or connect through texting. I have also been going to mom's nights out after the kids are in bed since both sleep in their own beds these days!! It's so refreshing cultivating friendships with other women. I'm really grateful.

How did you survive winter this year? What are you most looking forward to this spring?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Recent Reads: Two Not-So-Great Book Reviews

This book was written well and the author is great at weaving words and drawing you into story...but I just didn't care for it. The author has a long list of fiction books she has written on historic Biblical women. This is her first nonfiction book but she definitely uses artistic license (likely similar to her fiction books...I haven't read any) in the way she describes the characters. The chapters each center around a woman from the Bible and begin with a fictional account in first person from that character, then the chapter moves on to the author's voice and a nonfiction tone as she describes what we can learn from the historic Biblical woman. It's a nice idea, and some people may like this, but I was not a fan. I don't like that much artistic license when it comes to the Bible, it honestly made me a bit uncomfortable and it doesn't really help me learn from that character when we don't know if that's truly how they were. It's really hard for me to admit I don't like a book and I do NOT like giving bad reviews...but sadly this one was just not my cup of tea. 2 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for my complimentary review copy. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]

I wanted to like this book. I love prayer books, devotionals, anything of the written word in a daily format to aid my prayer time. This one sounded beautiful with its variety of prayers from over the years and a wide range of authors. I loved that it included many Catholic prayers from the Liturgy/Mass as well as Liturgy of the Hours. I also like reading prayers from historical men and women. The book itself is a lovely hardcover with deckled page edges and a ribbon bookmark. That all being said, it fell a little flat for me. My favorite prayers were the ones I would get from reading the daily Mass (like Word Among Us devotionals) or the Liturgy of the Hours app on my phone, so I just didn't see a big need for this book in my life. Womp womp. Yet another so-so book review, guys. 3 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Saturday, February 16, 2019

An Easter Prayer: A Book Review

Now that I have kids, I'm getting pickier about what books we have in the house. I want fewer, higher quality books for our kids to look at and listen to because I know their little minds will be shaped by the pictures and stories! Although our daughter G is getting to an age where she loves real stories and will be attentive for longer books, she still enjoys the simple "touch and feel" story books. An Easter Prayer is a great little Touch and Feel book with charming illustrations of Spring animals and flowers. Each page has something for little ones to feel-- a smooth egg shell from a hatching chick, the soft green Easter grass, or a cuddly baby bunny's fur. The words are a simple rhyming prayer that flows along with the pictures and reminds your child to be thankful for the small joys of each season. I liked this book a lot even though it's very simple. A thoughtful prayer, sweet illustrations, and cute touch-and-feel options make this a perfect gift for an Easter basket! (Shhh...don't tell, but it will probably be in our Easter basket along with some sidewalk chalk and kites!)

[Thank you to Book Look Bloggers for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Friday, February 15, 2019

Life Is Beautiful...

Yes, motherhood is tough stuff sometimes. Life is tough stuff sometimes. You all know I write about that stuff like an open book. But life and motherhood are good, too. They're beautiful. Full of sweet moments of joy, delight, gratitude and grace. Here are a few from this year so far...(warning: major photo dump of cute babies.)

Post bath cuddles

Crafting with my mini me

Going to her first Valentine's Day party

This little love's twinkling eyes and mischievous smile

Seeing them interact as siblings (and in their cute church clothes)

Breakfast in a tent!

Play-doh with Nana

Exploring and loving anything that has wheels!

For once, just sitting in this chair instead of
climbing up the back and arms and giving me a heart attack

The days (and nights!) can be long but years are going fast already and wow, is my heart full of love for these two.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Winter and the Written Word

I just couldn't help myself with a bit of alliteration in that title...

Anyone else on a reading kick this winter? I have read so. many. great books this past year, and I've also branched out with different genres, authors, recommendations. It feels good to stretch my mind and preferences. I'm currently reading The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom, and it's so different from what I expected but in a good way. She is an INCREDIBLE woman and her gentle, humble faith has me in awe (and tears at times!). I'm about 3/4 of the way through and highly recommend it. Here are a few other books I've been into:

The Bible. Ha. Need I even say why I recommend this book? ;) But I'm actually more interested in sharing with you about this particular's the first complete journaling/coloring Bible for Catholics! I've been intrigued by all the talk of journaling Bibles and I'm kind of a sucker for pretty things. This Bible looked so lovely, I couldn't wait to receive it. It's a beautiful rose color and page edges are decorated with a colorful pink and blue butterfly/floral theme. It's a hardback Bible (I actually kind of wish it was softcover...seems a bit more mobile?) and comes with an elastic latch as well as a ribbon bookmark. The inside pages are thin like most Bibles but I've been impressed that my highlighting doesn't seem to bleed through to the opposite page. Every few pages, there are verses that have been scripted with illustrations on the side of the page that you can color. I'm not a big coloring person but I imagine I will be in a couple years when I can color along with my daughter (at this age, she prefers I help her color her current page, haha). For now, I enjoy the blank spaces for notes and journaling (which occur on all the pages that don't have the coloring verses). The thing I was most hesitant about with this Bible was the translation. It's a New Living Translation (NLT) and I generally like NRSV or DR or even the NAB. I tend to like the more word-for-word translations and my impression of the NLT is that it's a bit more modern. However, I haven't minded it at all thus far and still find it beautiful and accurate (I guess I was afraid it would be similar to the "Message" Protestant translation but it's not.). It's also approved by the Church (an Imprimatur) for personal reading and study, so that also reassured me. All in all, I'm thrilled to have a new Bible to read and write in. My old one was more from my youth and young adult days and written all over the place with thoughts from those days. I like having this gorgeous new Bible to begin journaling my motherhood years and how the Lord spoke to me through them and His word. 4.8 out of 5. (It would be 5 if it was the NRSV and a more subtle page edge decoration...the flowers and butterflies are pretty but a little bold).
[Thank you to Tyndale Blog Network for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

I'm always on the lookout for a new bedtime book. Our daughter loves having three books read to her each night before bed, and as she's getting older she's enjoying longer stories. The board books are fun but we're slowly graduating to longer, real-page books and it's just delightful. I grew up listening to Michael W. Smith's music so I thought this children's book co-authored by him would be a fun one to try. I like that it's in rhyme, and I like that it revolves around the bedtime routine of the characters (my daughter enjoyed seeing the similarities between the puppy's routine and her own). The story is a little silly and a few of the rhymes seem a little out there, but overall it's a cute book. Not my favorite, but one we've read more than once. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

This book deserves its own post. And I just might do another post expanding on it. I am flying through this one, nodding my head so many times. I've been pretty passionate about women friendships ever since I moved out on my own after college. I began hosting girls' nights once a month with anyone who would come-- old friends, new friends, church friends, school friends. I threw together themed parties and emailed anyone in my contact list. What grew from that were not only some amazing memories but some really deep and solid friendships even now ten years later. In this season of married life with littles, my time to connect with friends feels so much smaller (as well as interrupted) but this book has rekindled my desire to get past surface friendships and cultivate deep and lasting ones with the women around me, to hold onto my past friendships and keep nurturing them, and to be intentional in my relationships about both quality time and quality conversation. I've read several of the Clarkson family books before and have always enjoyed them, but this one has almost been a page-turner for me (occasionally a few chapters are slow but it hasn't been the norm). I've really enjoyed getting to know Sarah (Sally's daughter) more through this book and feel like we'd be kindred spirits. ;) I also think Joy (younger daughter) would be tons of fun. Overall all, this book is a refreshing, challenging, inspiring reflection on the authors' intentional friendships, the reasons they value friendship, and thought-provoking encouragement on how to create your own "girls club" of lasting friends.  5 out of 5 stars.
[Thank you to Tyndale Blog Network for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Thursday, January 31, 2019

He Is Shaping Us

I sighed as I stepped in a puddle of water on the kitchen floor as I microwaved some leftovers for my daughter to eat for lunch in front of the TV. The baby was sniffling through his fifth cold of the season as he attempted to nap on me in the carrier.

Can you say #momfails? A messy floor. Radiation from the microwave. Box mac and cheese. Screen time. A babe that doesn't sleep like the books say he should. I promise I don't do those things all the time...I do cook from scratch, come up with creative games, clean my house...but you know, sometimes I don't.

Motherhood isn't kind to the perfectionist. Prior to motherhood, I was fairly successful in education, the workplace, the social front. But motherhood has brought me down peg after peg after peg as many days end with a nagging fear that I'm not enough. I deeply, deeply love my children and am indescribably grateful for them, but some days I feel like the role of motherhood is ruining me. Where is that girl who was so hidden under messy buns and piles of laundry and self-doubt? So much of my weaknesses have been exposed, my limits have been reached. I've been painfully made aware of my lack of control when it comes to outcomes from my efforts.  It can be discouraging to feel like I'm not doing this whole vocation thing "right."

Yet perhaps therein lies the truth. I'm not suppose to focus on "doing" in this vocation but rather "becoming." Motherhood isn't ruining's simply exposing the parts of me that need grace and growth...and that may not otherwise have been exposed. Motherhood isn't crushing's shaping me.

God has recently been speaking to me through Isaiah 64:8 about the potter and the clay. He's been showing me that even on the days when I feel anything but beautiful and purposeful, He is still at work and is using these moments to make me into the woman He's called me to be. He is shaping me through everything He allows into my daily life. So those moments that I feel squashed by my inadequacy in motherhood?

They're really squashing the false notion that I'm in control.

They're squishing the belief that I can be perfect by my own strength.

They're squeezing out the selfishness of my flesh, the pride of self-sufficiency, and the temptation to measure my worth by what I accomplish in a day.

They are shaping me.

The kneading and molding is hard. Yet it's so important to be soft and open to His hand, remembering that the Potter is also our Father, a loving Father. By His grace, I've had the eyes to see this more and more lately. I'm less resistant to the molding and more expectant and hopeful to see parts of me taking shape. I'm trusting more in the beauty He's creating through this process-- and I'm seeing glimpses of it! 

Instead of lamenting that I'm not enough or I can't do this on my own, I'm finding strength and joy in those realities because I'm growing closer to the One who IS enough and who never asked me to do it on my own. It's only when we realize our own inadequacy that we turn to Him for grace and help-- and find it in abundance. There's a release and a relief to learn that we aren't in control, we don't have to be perfect, and our worth has nothing to do with success.

So even if it's a mac-and-cheese-in-front-of-the-TV kind of day...maybe that's not a #momfail. Maybe it's just one more opportunity for me to peacefully and trustingly open my hands and heart to God in the midst of the crazy and allow Him to shape me.

Where in your life do you feel like clay being squished and kneaded? Can you see God shaping beauty from it?

Friday, January 11, 2019

New Year Musings

My time for typing or writing is so minimal these days as we work on getting the baby to nap in his crib as well as just juggling two different naptimes in general for the kids. I tend to use any free "creative" time to write for, write in the kids' baby books, journal in my real-paper journal, or work on our family photo book (and then of course the housework, haha). All of which are good, but I love the moments when I can just sit and write with no specific purpose or deadline.

It's a new year. And man, was last year a Big Year. I'm ready for a fresh one, one with smaller events and smaller emotions for sure. Yet it's been helpful for me to reflect on the past year as I ponder what changes I want to make in this one. Though welcoming our son was the most amazing and beautiful event of 2018, there were a lot of Hard Things we dealt with last year. I had postpartum depression. We had a homeless man live with us in the summer. Neither of our kids slept well so neither did we. We almost adopted a baby who was scheduled to be aborted (like met with the social worker and everything...but the mother decided to parent.). My husband's work and renown continued to grow bigger while I learned to grow smaller and more hidden as a stay at home mom of two who were sick almost constantly this fall. All in all, it was just a challenging year. But we survived and we're on the other side of it. With each other and two precious children. And a whole fresh year ahead of us.

The hard stuff of 2018 found me at the end of it humbly admitting that I've gotten into a rut of negative thinking. I realized in a twisted sense of coping, I'd begun to look more at the hard things instead of the good things. A friend and I were both talking about our difficult 2018 and we both realized that even though we both had had some challenging events, our attitudes were almost leaving us more defeated than our actual circumstances. It's a hard truth but a profound one, and for me it's where I find hope for the New Year. I can't predict or change what will come, but I can foster more grateful, hopeful, positive attitudes and reactions to whatever events it holds.

My word for 2019 (for the first time chosen by someone other than me, thanks to Jen Fulwiler's random word generator) is HOLD. There's a lot of meaning in that for me and I have a feeling it wasn't such a random word (looking up at you, God! Hold onto my peace. Hold my babies and live in the moment. Hold back harsh words or criticism (self-talk too!). Look for ways the Lord holds me. I also have some more practical goals for the year. Look for a post on those coming soon (for's always better when they're written down in one place!).

How was your 2018? What do you desire for your 2019?