Parents, Lighten Up


My teeth were grated, my hands clenched her tiny little arms, my voice was loud. After telling her several times to stop tugging at the table cloth and her only response being laughing and proceeding to pull it off the table, I had had it. Beyond had it. So I lost it. Unfortunately, my point came across very loud and very clear. Instead of innocent laughter, her face now read hurt, sadness, and fear.

What had I done?

She was afraid of me – the one who’s supposed to comfort her, protect her, make her world feel safe.

I scooped her up and wept as I held her close and tried to remind her that it was still me. That she’s safe. That she’s loved and adored and far more important than a perfectly placed table cloth.

{To give you some context, we are currently in the process of moving, which means we have been living under a magnifying glass for the last two or so weeks. Moving is hard, but it’s life. It’s fun, nostalgic, sad, exciting.. all at the same time. We’ve been a bit scattered, to say the least. My point being I’m not that passionate about tablecloths; I just had a specific reason for caring if my table cloth was one inch more to the right: we needed to leave the house negative three minutes ago for a showing, and the potential home buyer’s decision would obviously hinge on a perfectly even table cloth.}

Why does this happen? How do we reach a point where we completely lose control and become the exact person we know we don’t want to be?

I can tell you it’s not because of crooked tablecloths. No, it’s much deeper.

The problem is that we fill our lives to the brim while simultaneously valuing perfection more than we value being present. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to choose between the two because they cannot coexist. Take it from a mom and wife who has spent more time than I am proud of ranting and nagging at the two people in my life who mean the most to me – certainly more than all of the things I’ve been ranting and nagging at them about. I get caught up. I go and do and overcommit and refuse to be seen as irresponsible or “less than.” And my family eats the cost.

Schedules build up. The house needs cleaning. The laundry needs washing. Meals need to be cooked. Sweet, tiny, grimy hands and faces need to be wiped {numerous times a day}.


Friends and family.

Volunteer work.

Play dates.

The list goes on.. but should it? How much space do we really have on our lists before we spread ourselves so thin that we aren’t able to love and connect genuinely anymore? I’m often pressured into thinking that efficiency and productivity are what define love.

But they don’t.

They are necessary; don’t hear me saying they aren’t.

But they are not more important than carving out time to be present. They are not more important than leaving wiggle room in your life to be more patient, loving, and tender, instead of short, edgy, and irritable. They are not more important than taking the time to listen and be observant of the well being of the people who mean the most to us.

So what’s the balance?

I don’t know that there is. There’s no formula, but I think that’s the point. Formulas sometimes rob us of the very presence I’m talking about. Maybe we should just practice being aware and reacting accordingly. Maybe we should lay down our need to produce and pick up the easy yoke of loving God and loving people, and take the rest one relationship at a time.

Yes – this “balance” consists of relationships. Not productivity, not success, not efficiency; at least not the full, to the brim, overflowing versions of all these things that we have made them out to be. We were created for connection and relationship; therefore, our measure of success should be love. Everything else – everything – is second to love.

This all hit home when Lucy and I went to the park yesterday. “Mommy, play!” She kept saying. So we rolled in the grass and ran up the hill and ran down the hill. We climbed up the slide and went down the slide. She laughed and laughed; she could have done it for hours, and so could I. I realized we don’t always get do-overs, especially as parents, but it is never too late to say “yes” to being present.

If there’s one thing I took away from my horrifying outburst, it is that life is too precious and beautiful a gift to waste being obsessed with to do lists and being too busy to notice the sweet in-between moments. Lucy wasn’t some disobedient inconvenience; she was trying to be like mommy and do as I was doing. Maybe if I hadn’t allowed my mind and schedule to be so overloaded, I would have been able to see that she was innocently trying to do the right thing, according to what she sees me doing on a daily basis.. or that she’s almost 2, and maybe she just doesn’t understand the big deal with table cloths anyway.






Old Made New

Today is Easter Sunday. It is the most important day on the Christian calendar because it is the day that Jesus declared victory over death by rising from it.

It is the day death died. Once and for all.

And yet I am conflicted this Resurrection Sunday because I still feel the pangs of death, as though it never fully died. I believe in my head that this is not the end; I know that. But if I am honest, I don’t feel it.

I feel heavy. I feel tired. I feel sad. I feel anxious. I feel stuck. I feel doubt because hurt still happens.

Death still takes the ones we love most and never gives them back.

Racism still destroys humanity and builds barriers that few of us actually have the courage to tear down.

Friends disappoint us; people disappoint us.

Children go unloved and uncared for.





B R O K E N N E S S.

It’s still here. We don’t have to look hard to find it.

But in the midst of the doubt, there are priceless moments of beauty that keep the resurrection flame of hope burning, even if it is dim at times.

The kindness of a stranger.

Seemingly miraculous forgiveness and healing from long time wounds.

Holding the hand of a loved one in their last days.

The tiny hands of a child grasping tightly to yours.

The hug or kiss from a loved one on your worst day when you least deserve it.

Friendship – the priceless kind that you know deep down is irreplaceable and true to the very end.

Flowers bloom.

R E S U R R E C T I O N.

It happened.

And if we have the boldness to be vulnerable enough to look for it amidst all of the doubt and the death and the brokenness, to trust that God is still present in all of it, our heads will reach our hearts, and we will realize that death is dead. That he is alive.

That he is risen.


Never Stop

Never stop, little one.

Never stop adventuring.

Never stop being bold.

Never stop being unafraid to wallow in a pile of dirt, picking it up and letting it seep through your fingers over and over again. 

Never choose un-grassed-stained jeans over playing hard, even if I seem frustrated that your pants are ruined. That’s my own problem – not yours. Remember that. Yes, play hard, little one. Because knowing how to play well will teach you to imagine. To know the beauty of wanting. It is in wanting that you will know the value in wanting what is true. And it is in the desire for truth that you will find life – real life.

Never stop coming to me in complete security and confidence that you are loved; right now that confidence is in knowing I’ll drop everything to sit on the ground to read “The Very Hungry Catepillar” to you for the 347th time, to dance with you, to sing to you when you’re sad, to cuddle when you’re tired or sick. But if you never stop, one day that will look like dropping everything to talk life, to talk God, to talk love, to talk pain, to talk joy, to talk silly girl stuff, to talk bad days, to talk good days, to talk anything. To cry with you, to pray with you, to help you, to laugh with you. Because you’re my kid, and one day {I pray} you will be one of my dearest friends – I’ll always have your back.

Never lose your love for “outside!” – the outdoors will teach you things about God that nothing else and no one else can.

Never stop kissing everything you love when you see it; expressing such genuine love is rare these days. That is what will change the world.

Never stop dancing when you hear music; your fearless, honest, and sometimes silly expression of what’s inside of you will result in authenticity. You will be more accepting of your true self and of others. You will experience deeper relationships. You will be a better friend. You will love and be loved more deeply. Sure, that type of honesty may make rejection hurt worse, but even that is better than being loved for being someone other than yourself.

Never stop being a fighter; know that though I am against your toddler tantrums, I am not teaching you not to fight, but to fight well and for the right things and in the right ways. Yes, fight hard, just be sure you are on the right side of justice.

Never stop learning; have the humility to know that there is always room to grow, more wisdom to be had.

Never stop growing {Even though sometimes I wish you would! …Kidding. Kind of.}

Never stop being you.
Because you are beautiful. You are you, which is exactly who God made you to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Nothing you do or don’t do will make you more or less loved – by me or by your Creator. And I pray that that would motivate you to be brave, to be courageous, to be creative.. to be free.


A Note to Facebook Politicians

Elephant in the room: politics.

I recently went on Facebook, as I sometimes do at the end of my day, and quickly regretted making that the last thing my mind ingested before falling asleep. I climbed into bed physically and emotionally ill and overwhelmed. Literally, my body ached with disgust at the uncivil, arrogant, downright  h a t e  I saw. {To my dismay, that feeling was still there the next morning. What a way to start a Monday.}

It seems that people forget that just because they are typing their opinions into a device and tapping “post” that those same words are being communicated to an actual human being, with actual feelings and real, personal reasons that they process life and the world the way that they do.

People, we must, must, must, must, must stop this.

Love: the foundation of the two greatest commandments given to humanity.

We spend more time voicing our opinions than we do listening to others. Regardless of how stark the differences may seem between us and other individuals, speaking over people with the sole intention of changing them is not love. To be perfectly transparent, I’m still learning on a daily basis what love means and is and encompasses, fully. But, what I am certain of about love is that it is not arrogant or rude.

Let me be clear – I am not advocating that everyone remain silent, or that we should not have bold, strong beliefs about life and love and politics and the world, or even that all opinions are created equal. I myself have beliefs that I hold very dearly and I do believe there are crucial times when it is necessary to stand firmly in those beliefs.

In fact, there are views in the world that do need to be evaluated and challenged.

{What if no one was allowed to question your love for fascism in the 1930s? Obviously, we wouldn’t call that love.}

There is undoubtedly evil in the world and we do need to stand in firm opposition to it.

As passionate as I am about that, it’s for another time and post.

But, 3 things:

  1. Be humble. Keep an open mind and heart because the chances that you are 100% right is likely false.
  2. Be kind. I don’t care how wrong you think someone is – they are human, created in the image of a holy God, just like you are.
  3. Be loving – both to who you are communicating with, while also keeping in mind the people you are standing for.

I simply want to urge all of us to love.

Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

I realize that that is a daily, sometimes hourly working out of what love looks like from person to person that we encounter. To your spouse, to your kids, to family members, to friends, to co-workers, to perfect strangers… to Facebook “friends.”

It’s hard.

This thing we call life is beautifully complicated and complex, on an individual level simply because humanity is broken – but even more largely because there are other people outside of our own personal selves who are also broken and trying to figure themselves out, let alone figure out what they think about this intricate world we live in.

May we be more considerate.

May we be more patient with each other.

May we  l i s t e n.

May we respect others unconditionally – regardless of how blatantly different or “wrong” you think they are, or even regardless of how much respect they don’t show you in return. Because that is another thing I am certain of about love – it is unconditional.

May we spend more time thoughtfully, carefully verbalizing our words to human faces with love – and again (I know I sound redundant),  l i s t e n i n g  to what those human faces have to say in return – than we do mindlessly, arrogantly, selfishly blasting our personal views of how the world works onto a screen.

For the sake of our broken world so desperate for more of it, I’ll say it again:

Let us love.


Unexpected Teachers

A few nights ago, Nate and I were watching a movie on the couch. We took what we call a “second dinner” break about half way through. As we walked to the kitchen, we nonchalantly looked outside to find everything completely white – it had snowed a good two inches in the last hour. We’d seen snow on the forecast, but thought we’d get more of a dusting, if any at all.

Just like that, our giddy selves were kids again. The two of us bundled up and ran out in the backyard. To make a long [sub]story short, late night snowball fights are something everyone should experience. Nate and I have both agreed that memory will never be forgotten.

We woke up the next morning to find that all of our footprints from our snowball shenanigans the night before had been completely “whited” out – yes, 6 more inches of snow.

Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of time indoors the last few days. At first I was a little nervous; there’s something a little unsettling about being trapped inside with a high-energy 17 month old.

Something about the pressure to fill roughly 9 waking hours of a busy, high-energy, small-attention-spanned-brain with some sort of entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong; this has been the most fun stage so far of parenting, but it has also been the most challenging. The irony of a tiny human gaining increasing amounts of independence every day is that in that process, they are actually extremely dependent and needy.

[Quick eFullSizeRender-1xample: Lucy is convinced that she can eat all by herself with silverware now. But her idea of that is me placing her food and utensils in front of her and letting her stir the food and ask for help in between each bite. It actually takes more of my time, energy, and patience for her to learn to eat with these tricky utensils (independence in this stage) than it does for her to just keep eating with her hands the way that she already knows how to do very well.]

All of this to say, the combination of being 1) cooped up in the house all day and 2) an ambitious, growing toddler has been an altogether fun, exhausting, frustrating, sobering, reflective experience.

The hard parts of parenting, or life in general for that matter, tend to be the ones I deter from. It’s much easier to throw Lucy in the car and run some errands to kill time in a day than it is to sit on the ground and play with her and consciously open my mind and imagination to enter her world, to see life through her eyes, to be with her as we play blocks or read books or practice for the millionth time what a doggie says. What a kitty cat says. What a bird says. What a cow says. {Repeat.}

But having the privilege – yes, privilege – to be smacked in the face with those indoor activities for three days straight has been extremely invigorating and exactly what I’ve needed in this tricky season of toddlerhood. Instead of needing her to just learn faster or communicate more clearly or better understand what I’m trying to teach her, I’ve needed a perspective check.

Thank you, snow, for being an excellent teacher.FullSizeRender-2

It’s exactly what Lucy needed, too. And it’s what she still needs every day as her mind is developing and growing and changing.

She needs time. She needs attention. She needs my presence – not just physically, but mentally. She needs me to be all there, seeking to better understand what she’s trying to communicate because for goodness’ sake, she’s just trying to learn how to be a human. That is no easy task for her, either.

And if I’m being real, I’m still learning too.

And if I’m being really real, I’m still pretty needy too. I need my most valued loved ones and mentors to be present and hold me accountable, too.

This is what it means to be human: Real love. Active love. Involved love. Messy love.

Young and old.

Because being human doesn’t just mean being able to operate eating utensils. Or being potty trained. Or learning the social graces of living in a society.

Those are all large parts, yes. But to say that’s what it means to be fully human would be to say that efficiency in life is the ultimate goal. And I’ve been learning lately that that’s just not the case.

Or it shouldn’t be, at least.

Thanks snow. Your timing was perfect.




Remind Yourself

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

For he knows our frame;

he remembers that we are dust.”

-Psalm 103:8-14

Today I’m thankful for a God who remembers that I am dust. For this beautiful reminder of God’s role first and foremost as a loving Father.

Whose expectation of me is surrender and trust in his unconditional love for me. Yes, because of this I have the freedom to embrace the fullness and chaos of life, knowing that my every shortcoming and failure is separated from me as far as the east is from the west.

Today I’m thankful for grace in a fallen, broken world. In a fallen, broken humanity.

In my fallen, broken self.

For I am merely a broken, dusty human. But my identity lies in the humanity that has been restored and made whole in the only perfect human to walk the earth. He paved the way for us because he knew we would be such needy people.

So take joy in being needy of him today – for that is all that he calls you to be.






1,461 Days of Election

November 8, 2016

Today is “Election Day.”

For some people, that means nothing. The controversy and insanity of this election has already brought so much disunity and chaos into the world that some have given up on politics altogether. The system is so broken and beyond repair that it’s not even worth trying to fix.

For others, this is a very scary election because both options seem terrible so no matter who gets voted in, we’re doomed.

Others have chosen one side firmly and are perfectly confident in their decision.

But let’s forget all of that for a minute.

The reality is that regardless of who gets nominated today, the majority of us will go on living our day-to-day lives. Obviously there will be policy changes that will affect and change things, but that is not what I’m referring to. I’m not talking about the decisions we make on paper, on our ballots. I’m talking about the little, unconscious decisions we make every single day that determine our character.

I’m talking about who we are.

The words we speak. The way we spend our free time. The way we spend our money. The things we do when no one is watching. How we treat people.

Who we are in real life.

We are so quick to sit back and point at political figures. They get all of the blame for the areas we’d like to see change in.

What we are missing completely is the power of the day-to-day.

Of our day-to-day.

The decisions that we make over and over again. The habit-forming choices we make to subconsciously become the humans (and therefore, society) that we have become.

We know hate so well in our world today because of who we are on a micro level – who we are to our spouses, our kids, our co workers, the cashier at the grocery store, people of different skin colors and backgrounds, orphans, widows, the poor.

We know racism so well today because of the selfish pretenses we have created to protect “me and my own.”

We know violence so well today because we don’t know how to love our enemies; rather, we aren’t even concerned with loving our enemies. We want revenge, we want what’s ours, we want what we “deserve,” we want it now.

We are all guilty of it. I don’t care what political party you associate with – we all fall short of the ideal humanity that we long to see.

Every human has the exact same responsibility. And that responsibility is not dependent on your political status, your ethnicity, or where your citizenship is. If you are a human, your duty is to love. That is what you were created to do.

Underneath each of our outer shells of put-togetherness, there is a deeply flawed human in need of grace.

Underneath that frail layer of human flesh, there is a soul that was very carefully and beautifully made in the image of a loving God who cares deeply for them – just as much as he cares about you.

If we would take the few extra seconds to remember that with every human encounter we had in a day, including the people all around the world that we encounter indirectly with the little decisions we make, I wonder how that would change how we respond to people.

I wonder how that would bring true change in our world as a whole.

The only way we will know this as a reality and not just an idea is if we choose to be the types of people to actually show grace in those small moments of our lives.

The types of people to actively choose selflessness in the small areas of our lives that form the selfish habits that make us selfish people.

So vote, yes. Absolutely vote. That is a right, a privilege, and a responsibility that we certainly should not take for granted or count as lost.

But vote every day with your heart, mind, and body, not just once every four years with your ballot.







Sunday Morning Madness

The faint melody of my alarm clock slowly brings me out of my glorious rem cycle, letting me know a new day has arrived. If I recall, my clock read 11:44pm as I finally drifted off to sleep last night, warranting a few more “snoozes” than usual before my feet actually hit the floor.

Sunday morning.

I make my way to the kitchen, flick the coffee pot on, pour a cup, and cozy up on the couch for a few minutes of quiet before the beautiful chaos of our get-to-church-on-time routine.

{The very fact that it is Sunday means every detail possible will work against our effort to actually get out the door on time.}

Now it is Lucy’s turn to slowly moan her way out of her glorious rem cycle until her moaning becomes “MAMAMAMA!”

The day begins.

I open the door to her room and see her happy little morning self. I’m reminded to savor these small, in-between moments.

{Breathe it in. Before the commotion of the next 45 minutes, take this moment in. Don’t miss it.}

Scrambling eggs to the chorus of crying because Lucy is suddenly convinced that she is starving to death. Slicing oranges into tiny, non-chokable-sized bites as fast as I possibly can. Before I can get her food on her tray, the now hangry (yes, hangry) cry quickly becomes: “Rldrldrldrldrldrld!!!” {MILK PLEASE}

All at once.

{25 minutes to go time. Oh, and I’m still in my pjs.}

Brush my teeth. Deodorant. Makeup. Clothes. Hair (Kind of).

{Negative 5 minutes to go time.}

Lucy’s sticky face. Poopy Diaper. Her church clothes that I forgot to lay out last night. Grab her beanie because there’s no time to rummage through her bows.

Nate grabs Lucy, I grab the diaper bag, and we are finally out the door.

~Sunday morning, ya’ll~

Just as we pull into the church parking lot, I realize I somehow forgot to eat breakfast. Nate parks while I grab a muffin from a nearby cafe and we both barely make it inside just in time for worship to start.

The worship team invites us all to stand as we worship Jesus together this morning.

I close my eyes, my sweet husband standing next to me holding little Lucy girl in his arms, the quiet hum of my fellow brothers and sisters singing along with me.. This is grace.

I am blessed.

{Another small, beautiful moment – breathe it in.}

We sit down and the sermon begins. Ten minutes in, and Lucy’s already bored with every item in her diaper bag. Here we go.

I look to my left and I see another mama also telling her little girl, Lucy’s age, not to make loud, spitty noises with her tongue.

Then there’s the embarrassed mama in the balcony who, in trying to entertain her toddler, accidentally flings several napkins down onto the ground-level folks.

It is here where I am overwhelmed with the gracious reminder that I am not alone. None of us are. We are all in this together – this beautifully messy Sunday morning routine. This routine where we gather from all different backgrounds to remind each other why we endure the day-to-day grind that is life. It is here where we remember how worth it it all is.

Remember today that it’s worth it. You were made for this.

Your heart is what Jesus is after. Never give into the temptation of believing that perfection is the end goal. You will be terribly disappointed and robbed of so much joy along the way.

Instead, embrace it – all of it. None of your shortcomings are too much to entrust to Jesus.

May your trust in his constant presence empower you to press on, facing each day {including Sunday mornings} with confidence.

Your strength is not your own, but that which flows from the perfect, forgiving, unconditional love of Jesus.








All the Colors of Fall

fall-3Orange, yellow, brown, green – sometimes all at once.

The leaves – oh, the leaves.


Cinnamon Sticks.

Squash of all kinds and colors: butternut, acorn, pumpkin.

Cider, coffee, tea.. any warm beverage, really.

Yummy, autumn-scented candles.

Blustery, rainy days spent cozied up inside.

Sunny days that bring all of the beautiful colors of fall to life.fall-2

Or both at once. Cause it’s fall, and “inconsistency” is fall’s weather forecast.

Good books.

Crafts & projects.


Anything and everything pumpkin: bread, pie, soup, coffee {Yes.. coffee gets counted again. Because I’m that excited about my new Pumpkin Spice blend I’ve recently discovered.}

Ah, yes, and soup. {Yep, soup gets counted again too. Just cause.. well, it’s soup.} The comforting warmth of soup on a chilly, fall day. I’ve recently spent more hours than I’m willing to admit on Pinterest stalking up on my soup recipes for the coming months.

And finally, running in the rain.

{This is one I dreaded until I tried it. But sometimes, what makes us stronger is facing the very things that we dread. There is something truly healing about being bold and fearless and running into the storm with full confidence. About the rush of physically pushing yourself beyond what you think you are capable of. It’s a powerful image of real life, and how approaching the inevitable obstacles and challenges of life are much like approaching a long run in the pouring-down-rain. It seems impossible and not fun in the least, at times. But coming out on the other side stronger than if you’d never tried at all – that’s not something you regret. Not to mention all of the beauty along the way that you don’t see if you choose not to run at all.}

Yes, sometimes we need to get drenched in the rain.


Fall. So much to love.

But my ultimate love for fall is that it embodies the beauty of each season in one. Both literally and figuratively, seasons exist in life. We need them all for the world to keep spinning. Each of them gives some sort of unique touch to the fullness of the human experience. Some seasons are harder, while others seem easier. But it is when we learn to be content in the One who created the seasons that we find beauty in each one, regardless of what they bring.


Laying Down Perfection

“You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’ ” -Psalm 27:8

The simplicity of this verse stills my soul. All of my lofty goals and ambitions are suddenly laid to rest.

“Seek my face.”

All you desire is for me to seek your face.

To dwell with you.



You desire my honesty. My raw self.

It is here where I am able to find real life. Where I find my worth. Where I find what determines my joy, my peace. Where striving ceases and your restful yoke of grace and strength for this present hour is placed on my shoulders.

Yes, Lord. You desire me – the “now” me.

Because the “now” me is where you find the hungriest version of me. The me who doesn’t have the answers and is so desperate for you that all pretenses and obstacles in your way of getting through to me are torn down.

This is real purity – because this is where I understand what it really means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. After all, that is what you’ve called me to do – it is all you’ve called me to do. You say it is when I hunger and thirst for you that I will inherit your kingdom and live with you forever. And I cannot hunger and thirst for you if my soul is quenched with my own false idea of achievement and success.

So, for now and for always, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

I will hunger.

I will thirst.

I will choose to set my face towards yours and find my rest.