Monday, February 25, 2013


Dear Lilia,

Today should have been your due date.  I don't know if I'd be sitting here on the couch, snuggling a precious newborn or if you'd be cozy in my belly and staying put for awhile longer.  If you're anything like your big brother Beckett, you'd have been my March baby.

I really only have a few ultrasound pictures of you.  Just your profile at 12 weeks.  They took a lot of pictures of you at 16 weeks, but I never got one to take home.  They don't print off the pictures of a baby after they've died.  I feel mad at myself that I never asked for one.

I think about you every day.  Every single day, I think about you - my daughter.  I wonder what you would have smelled like, looked like, felt like.  I wonder how your smile would have lit up your face and how your laughter would have sounded.

I imagine you now, a grown woman, flawless and radiant complete with the joy that comes with eternity.  I wonder if you know how much I miss you.  I wonder if you know how sad I am without you here.

It still startles me how much my heart aches for someone I never got to meet.  I carried you for only 16 weeks and yet you have left a mark that can never be erased.

Your dad and I chose your name because of the Hebrew meaning, which is 'what belongs to me belongs to God'.  I wanted to have a beautiful reminder of that every time I thought of you.  Your name invokes joy, rather than sadness and bitterness.  I cannot be angry when I say your name, because it is a constant reminder that you belong to God and that is absolutely beautiful.

Still, with the sadness over losing you, there has been joy.  Your brothers are all getting older.  We bought a house.  At times I look down the hall and imagine a pretty pink nursery breaking up all the blue rooms.  I have made new friendships through this journey, and strengthened old ones.  Already today my phone has been filled with beautiful messages from friends who remember you.

Tonight, I think we'll light a pink candle and read through the cards and letters we received after you died.  I hope that you are looking down on us and knowing how loved you are, sweet girl.

You are always loved, always remembered.

Your Mom
Friday, February 22, 2013


From about 2008 until 2012 I was part of a worship team.

I started singing background vocals as someone still figuring out who I was, where I was on my journey and very unsure of myself.  It quickly became the only way I knew how to connect with God.  On stage, I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself.  I felt, in those moments, that I was right where God wanted me to be.

In 2012, I took a break from singing.  There were extenuating circumstances - I was really, really busy. When I married Todd, I jumped into serving full force.  I sang on the worship team, I volunteered on the First Impressions team.  I helped out with the Girls Night Out women's ministry, I led Life Groups.  I met women for coffee, talked about life and mistakes and redemption and grace.  I parented my then 10/11 year old, I had a newborn.  Then the newborn got bigger, and the Thursday night rehearsals and Sundays were too much.

But - it was more than that.  While my relationship with God was growing, I still was fighting this NEED to be part of the worship team to feel connected to God.  I was learning other ways to connect with Him, yes - but there was no denying that the tangible act of getting up on a stage and singing worship songs was by far the most significant way I could connect with Him.  And I knew there was more for me - I knew it was time to be molded, to be shaped, to be pushed and to grow.  So I took a break.

Recently Harrison, our worship pastor, asked me if I ever got the itch to get up there and sing again.

And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't.  I'd be lying if I said some Sundays my heart didn't ache for the familiarity of that stage.  For the early morning call time and final run throughs, for the comraderie of the band members.  For the way I maneuvered past amps, guitars and cords in heels - for the rush of the countdown clock hitting zero.  I miss the way we'd all file off stage and into the band room, congratulating each other on a job well done or offering up constructive criticism on how to fix what went wrong.  And most of all, I miss that moment on stage when you just forget that there are hundreds of people with their eyes on you, and you raise your arms and are alone, connected, worshipping your God.

I have never been a great vocalist.  I've always wanted to be, but it's not my gift.  Yes, I can sing and carry a song decently - but I'll never grace the stage of American Idol or front a band.  I know I'll never make it big or be famous.  But there aren't many things that can reach down into my soul and grab hold of me like a worship song.  Play me a song about Jesus and I'll probably cry.  Because music touches me.  And it touches most people.  It's a medium that reaches across all ages, all genders - from children to seniors, music moves people.

And I was blessed - SO blessed - to be a part of it for a long time.  And I hope that someday, I'll be ready to take part of it again.

For now, I'm forcing myself to sit still.  To find peace.  To learn how to connect with God in a less tangible way than on a stage.  To find those worshipful moments when it's quiet and when I'm alone.  Or when I'm with my kids, or my husband.  To learn how to praise and give thanks without a spotlight.  For me, it was a much needed break.  God is stretching me, and He's teaching me, and He's using me in other ways.

Singing has been part of my life since I was a child.  But now, I choose to make peace with that being a season in my life that has prepared me for another season.  And I pray I'll revisit that season again, but this season - my season now - is exactly where God intends me to be.

All of my life
in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship.
         - Desert Song, Hillsong

Is God moving you to enter a new season in your life?

Thursday, February 21, 2013


One thing I've really wanted to get better at doing is prepping healthy foods and snacks ahead of time, so that when we are on the go, in a rush or super starving there is always a good choice readily available.

I wish I was better at it, but I am definitely not.  And if I'm going to be shopping for and purchasing a lot of fresh produce, I need to use it up before it goes bad.  We were using a TON of it for juicing but then we had a dishwasher disaster which involved our apparently recalled dishwasher, a heating element that wouldn't turn off, something about a fire hazard, and yes - plastic {dishwasher safe!} juicer parts that are now melted and completely unusable.  So without the option to currently juice our veggies - I knew I had to get moving and prep them for the week for snacking.  It'd be stupid to let them all go bad!

I saw a great Sunday night prep blog post on Green Plate Rule and it gave me the motivation I needed to get moving this afternoon while Beckett was napping.

I started by making one of our favorite healthy snacks - No Bake Energy Bites.

Then I started some dark chocolate and coconut butter granola!  You might see this recipe on an upcoming post at The Pinterest Project so you'll have to wait for it!

And then while that was baking, I started my produce prep.  I washed my produce in a white vinegar and water rinse and got to chopping!

And now we are all set and ready to go for the weekend!

Beckett's already had his hand in the cucumber container...

Got any food prep tips for me??
Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Even a crazy food lady like me has to make concessions for things like girl scout cookies.

Beckett's first - the do-si-do.

I think he liked it.

This kid now says "No, no, no" when he sees me bust out a camera.  Pretty soon, no one around here will let me photograph them.  Jeez.

If I'm quick though, I can still catch a little grin.

Why yes, his shirt IS dirty, thank you for noticing.  It happens.  Lunch + toddlers + independence = mess.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Grief + Acceptance

Yesterday would have marked the start of my 39th week of pregnancy.

Grief is a greedy emotion.

It's like being in a relationship with a partner who takes and takes and takes.  It's unrelenting in its persistence.  It's hard to move forward - and just when you think you have - it pops out from around a corner at you and gets all up in your business.  All you want to do is just. move. on.

A little innocence dies in you when you lose a pregnancy.  The innocent, naive joy that comes with pregnancy - it goes away.  There's a dark and twisty side that rears its ugly head.  It's the piece that feels cynical about other people's pregnancies.  A whisper that reminds you a positive pregnancy test and a due date doesn't mean you'll actually bring a baby home.

In the days that followed our loss, I found myself tempted to blurt out the news at the most inappropriate times to people I didn't even know.  "I know I look normal, but would you believe I just found out the baby I was carrying died and I had no idea until a doctor told me so"

Grief makes you question your own sanity.

And it's exhausting.

And every night, as darkness falls and the questions begin to swirl around in your head AGAIN, you're reminded just how exhausting it is to wonder, to ask why, to wish for things that aren't.

You're so very ready to just move on.  To not feel sad.  To not grieve.  To not cry anymore.  When the tears come,  you stop and scold yourself.  At times, you want to take yourself by the shoulders and yell "JUST STOP."  You give yourself pep talks.  After all, people have it worse.  People go through worse.  People have been through it more times than you have.

Buck up, buttercup.

Grief will make you angry.  It can isolate you.  It can squash you and make you feel like you can't breathe.

So - there has to be acceptance.   Acceptance that things just aren't.  Acceptance that life is unfair, that people hurt, and things don't go according to our plan.  Acceptance that pregnancy still IS life affirming, and beautiful and joyous.  Acceptance that other people will have healthy pregnancies and deliver precious babies.  And these moments are beautiful, even if they are painful.

And acceptance brings peace.  Peace that will come more and more often and push out the grief.  Sure, the grief will always be there - always - but peace will settle in.  You'll find yourself smiling with pregnant friends, praying for their healthy pregnancies and babies, feeling joy over their squishy little bundles.  Even in the pain and the sadness, there will be joy and peace.

The next time grief shows up, you can welcome it with open arms.  Let it stay awhile and cozy up on the couch with you, next to a fireplace.  Sit still and feel it.  And then, ever so kindly, send it on its way - knowing that you will meet again some day.

And take comfort in this.

Lamentations 3:31-33

For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.

For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Three years ago today, my husband asked me a very important question.

Only, he wasn't my husband then, he was just my boyfriend.

And he asked me to marry him.

We have had a crazy ride already and I can't even imagine the craziness of the rest of our lives.

There are only a handful of times I can say with certainty that God spoke to me - in a way that felt VERY real - and the decision to marry Todd was one of those times.

Happy 3 year anniversary of our engagement to my husband!

Thursday, February 14, 2013


My husband beat me to the punch this morning with his Valentine's Day post on Facebook:

I love having someone to celebrate Valentine's Day with. But today, my heart and prayers go as well to those who are single (and don't want to be), widowed or widowers, divorced, or separated. The culture makes this a tough holiday for you and today I want you to know how much you are loved.

I had a whole blog post formulating in my head about this subject, so I'm kind of mad at him for beating me to it, but ah well.  At least it shows we are on the same page, right?  Plus he usually says things better than I do anyway.

But I did not want this "holiday" to pass by without me acknowledging a group of people very dear to my heart.  Single parents.  And, because I was one not so long ago, single moms.  Regardless of the circumstance that put you where you are, being a single mom is a kick your butt to the moon and back, exhausting and often times thankless job.  In fact, people generally have pretty strong opinions and ideas about who you are, what you're doing wrong, how you're raising your child(ren) and what you should be doing better.

And well meaning married friends try to show solidarity with you by telling you they are doing the "single parent thing" while their husbands are out of town and they just don't know how you do it.

Well, as someone who is now home with children while my husband travels for work, I can say it's just not the same as being a single mom.  Because my husband comes home.  He takes out the garbage.  He brings in the income so that I can stay home with my children.  He runs errands, he does the laundry.  He brings home an income.  He is here when I need to talk through something frustrating or get advice.  He kills spiders.  He brings home an income.

You know what I'm saying.  As a single parent (mom OR dad) you do all of those things.  You're the spider killer, the laundry do-er, the boo boo kisser, the bedtime story reader, the nightmare soother, the bring home the bacon-er, the broken toilet fixer, the garbage taker outer...

And then holidays like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day roll around and it gets you down.  Even when you tell yourself it's just a dumb Hallmark holiday and it doesn't really matter - it will get you down.

So to all the single mamas (and daddies) out there - I get it.  You're loved and appreciated more than you know - not only by the kidlets you work so hard for but by Jesus, who is the lover of your soul.


Happy Valentine's Day to all of the single parents out there - and happy Valentine's Day to my husband who does all of our laundry and rolls out the garbage for garbage day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


We had a park day yesterday.

I'm homeschooling my oldest this year, and we are part of a history co-op every Tuesday.  One of the other moms suggested we meet at the park for some Olympic games.  While the older boys competed in the Olympics, Beckett kept busy chasing squirrels, climbing on play structures and getting really, really dirty.

Playing peek a boo with a squirrel.  Little man was determined to catch it!

I kept noticing his sheer determination yesterday.  Met with rocky terrain, mud, sand, branches and tree roots he fell more often than not.  Poor kid face planted all afternoon long.

But every time he fell over, he got up and kept running full speed ahead.

This one is going to give me a run for my money.  He has no fear.  Before I could even blink he had scurried up to the highest slide on the playground - you know the kind of slide that twirls all the way down and isn't for toddlers, but the big kids?  I couldn't get to him fast enough, so I said a prayer and watched him come careening around the slide full speed ahead.

I couldn't help but be in a little bit of awe of his determination to do it himself.  To keep going.  He's not unusual in this, most kids are the exact same way.  They run, they fall, they get up.  They run, they fall, they get up.  They always keep going.

My children remind me often of things I should be working on and getting better at. 

Like wearing cool shoes and playing in the mud.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Yesterday was a reminder to keep going, even when I fall down.  Even when I face plant.  Get up, and keep going.  Play peek a boo with squirrels, find delight in the little things.  Be determined and keep trying.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Cross

A friend and I have been emailing back and forth a lot lately, about God and loss, about how to move forward in your life when things are falling apart around you and completely out of your control.

She posed a question to me in her last email that really got me thinking.  It's not a question that I haven't thought of myself many times, but it was the way she worded it.

Basically she mentioned how when good things happen to us, we praise God for His blessing upon us. We give him all the credit for the good.  But when the bad happens, we say things like, "God can't intervene and stop the bad.  People have free will.  We live in a broken world"  And those things ARE all true, and I believe them whole heartedly.  But I admit, I paused when I read her words.  If God intervenes in our life enough to bless us with good things, why DOESN'T he intervene and stop the junk from happening?

And the truth is, this is just one of those questions Christians and non Christians alike have been asking themselves for ages.  It's one of the biggest questions out there - why would a good God let awful things happen?  Why does He allow suffering and pain when He COULD wipe it all out?  And why are we quick to jump in and offer praise over the good but write off the bad with a shrug and a quick response about free will and a broken world?

I was chatting with my husband about it, trying to figure out how I could translate my thoughts, my feelings, my faith into words that would make enough sense.  How could I give her the right words to express what I know in my heart to be true?    That sometimes there are no concrete answers our human minds can understand and sometimes it takes just pure and complete faith that He is there and He loves us.

Then Todd said something that I will never forget.

He said, "It all comes back to the cross, Miranda. Imagine you just had one son.  Just one.  He's your only son, your only child.  How much would you have to love someone else to give him up?  How much love would you have to feel to sacrifice your only son for people who sometimes hate you?  For people who don't care about you?  To see your only son being tortured and in complete agony and not swoop in and take it all away..."

It's not that this is a new concept for me - of course I know and believe that God sent His son to suffer for the sins of the world - for all of us.  But it was really good to reframe that idea - instead of wondering why God won't save US from our troubles, we can look to the cross and know that there has to be something bigger for us.  He didn't save his only son from being crucified and hung on a cross to die a slow and unbelievably painful death.

He did that for US and that means that even though we may not understand why we struggle or why unfair things happen in our lives and in the lives of those we know and love - the cross is always a great reminder to keep going and to have faith.  To look forward because there IS something better.

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Over the past several years, I've been reading and educating myself on food.

Yep, food.

It makes me furious really that I have to EDUCATE myself on one of the most basic necessities of life - but it's true.  I am becoming more and more passionate about eating well, eating local and making sure we stick to a lot of plant based foods.  We don't eat processed, we don't eat processed frozen and we rarely, RARELY eat out.

When most people hear about this, they roll their eyes.  They tell me they could never do it, it's too hard, it's too complicated, it's too confusing, it's too overwhelming.

And honestly?  They are just about right.  It IS hard.  It IS complicated.  It IS confusing and heck yes, it's terribly overwhelming.  But something about that pushes me forward - because it's our FOOD.  It's our source of fuel.  It's what keeps us going.  We need it to survive, and I'll be darned if I'm going to throw my hands up because certain companies have been successful in confusing the heck out of consumers.  It gets me seriously fired up.

And it is frustrating that after several years of reading and learning, there are still things that puzzle me or confuse me.  I'm always learning something new.  It takes total patience and dedication and most people don't have the time for it.

But - it's a cause that is important to me.  The more I learn about what is in our food supply, what we are feeding our children, and the long term effects it has - the more dedicated I feel to figuring it out.  This is a puzzle that shouldn't be a puzzle, you know?  Reading labels on the back of food shouldn't require a dictionary or a trip to google to find out how to pronounce it and what it's used for.

Today's goal was to try to determine the cheapest place to buy the foods we eat.  This is no small task - groceries seem to be cheaper when you're grabbing the unhealthy, quick fixes.  To track down organic produce, local and grass fed meats without having to take out a second mortgage on your house takes some crafty planning.

I wish I had the answers yet - I don't.

I was surprised to compare Harris Teeter pricing to Earth Fare pricing and realize that Earth Fare came out cheaper on a good majority of what I buy.  Even though I had long suspected I wasn't actually spending that much more when I frequented Earth Fare, I wasn't anticipating the pricing to be so much more (actually double in one case!).

If you're looking to start this process yourself, here is a great list of places to visit:

Local Farmers Markets (Charlotte, NC)

And if you have any good tips for me on a reasonably priced source for organic, local foods - please share!  I can't wait for summer produce to show up at the Farmers Market!
Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Last year, I read the book Bloom, by Kelle Hampton.  Twice.

If you haven't heard of Kelle, the short recap is that she gave birth to a daughter with down syndrome.  She and her husband had no idea their little girl would have it, and it is a very gritty, real and painful account of them coming to terms with it and how it has affected their lives.  It's beautifully written, and very poignant.

But there was another theme to the book that I can't get out of my head.  In every aspect of her life, in every trial or in every triumph, Kelle is surrounded by community.  Friends.  People who love her and support her and her family.

Truth be told, I don't make friends easily.  In fact, it was really only recently that I began to see the value in having friendships with women.  I told myself women were catty and mean and spiteful and judgmental and opening myself up to friendships with them would only bring trouble. I never pursued a friendship for fear of rejection.  Even to this day, I have a hard time with that - I do much better if someone pursues a friendship with me.

But like we were reminded this past Sunday at church, and many Sundays before - we were created for community.  Even the very first Christ followers met together in small groups.  We were designed by our creator to love each other, to support each other, to be there for each other.

But how does this look, practically?  What does it REALLY mean to be in community or to be a friend to someone?  If I meet someone for coffee occasionally, or we send funny texts to each other daily - is that friendship the way God intended it?

I think God intended us for more than that.  I think we are supposed to get all up in each others lives and get messy.  And this is hard.  Because we aren't perfect.  We are sinful and broken and annoying at times.  We say hurtful things, we make mistakes.  And we're busy, right?  At the end of the day who wants to be an intentional friend?  We want to go home, climb under a blanket and watch the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy.  What, is that just me?

The term intentional friendship has been bouncing around in my head now for quite some time.  Friendship can't be one sided.  You can't have one person doing all the work - it's a relationship between two people, and each person must be intentional about it.  You have to choose to try, to overlook mistakes, to see past the not so perfect qualities.  You have to be willing to be open and honest and to share.  To admit that you yourself aren't so perfect.

I'm so excited that our church is getting ready to kick off another Life Group semester.  And even though it's honestly hard for me to admit it, I know I need this in my life.  I know I need a small group of people to get connected with.  I need to learn about them, about their lives and families.  I need to know their struggles and their triumphs.  I need to see them cry and laugh.  And even more than that - I need them to do those things for me.

If you attend Next Level - get connected.  God intended you to live your life WITH people.  If you're not a church goer - find a few close friends and open up to them.  Have them hold you accountable for things in your life.  Be there for them.  Reach out when they are hurting.

It's not easy.  It's time consuming and hard work.  It will be mentally exhausting at times and you'll wonder why you bother.  But I know the rewards of living in community far outweigh the minor discomforts and annoyances.

My word for 2013 is intentional.  Specifically pertaining to friendships and community.  I will be intentional about growing relationships and friendships and opening up to people.  I will not hide under my blanket and behind Grey's Anatomy.  I will push myself to be uncomfortable because I know God desires more for my life.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


"Yeah, but..."

This has become kind of a funny little joke around here.  My oldest, Logan, prefaces almost every sentence with the phrase, "yeah but..."

Bless his heart.

I giggle to myself every time I hear it, but the truth is I found myself thinking the other day how many times I do it in my own life.  Ok, maybe I don't exactly say "yeah, but..." out loud but sometimes actions speak louder than words.

We run into problems when we try to be the God of our own life.

"yeah, but.."

I'm as guilty of it as anyone else.  I like to THINK I have turned it all over to God, but honestly, more times than I care to admit I'm whispering to myself..."yeah, but"

When I think about losing Lilia - my brain says, "Listen - God is in control.  He loves you.  He wants the best for you.  This may not make sense now, but it will someday.  He will reveal his plan in due time.  Eternity is bigger than this.   Your pain is temporary, and human..."

But my heart says, "Yeah, but..."  Yeah, but it hurts.  It hurts now.  I'm sad now.  I want a baby in my arms now.  I don't want to be blogging about miscarriage.  I want to be blogging about newborn life, and tiny little dresses and hair bows.  Yeah, but I wanted a daughter.

Or when I pray for a struggle our family is going through.

And my head tells me, "Be patient.  The Lord hears you.  Be persistent.  Persevere.  Don't lose faith.  Keep going"

But my heart says, "Yeah, but.  I've prayed about it 3 times already.  Heck, one time I even cried.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I asked reeeeal nice like.  I don't WANT to wait anymore..."

I think there will always be a balance between choosing God and battling the urge to be God of our own lives. It's something I have to remind myself of more times than I'd care to admit, honestly.

It is good for me to look back on my life, and see where God has provided.  Where he's taken care of me.  It's a cliche, but it's true - hindsight really is 20/20. Maybe He didn't swoop in and save me from a terrible trial, or maybe it didn't work out the way that I wanted to.  But the truth is, I'm not the God of my own life.  And the harder I try to be, the stickier it becomes.

Identifying your "yeah, but..." moments will help you realize where you need to focus on strengthening your relationship with God.  Where are the areas of weakness where you want to grab the reigns and make decisions based on your own desires, wants and feelings?

I'm working on narrowing mine down.

What are yours?

Friday, February 1, 2013


Logan turned 12 on January 1st...he was out of state, and then we were out of town, and then there was a big bad snowstorm here (haaaa) and then finally, last night, we got to celebrate with family.

12 reasons why I love my firstborn: (in no particular order!)

12.  He has a really good heart.  He loves kids and animals, and that's always a good trait to have.

11.  He has an independent spirit - This kid wants to do it himself, by himself and has for years.  While this might get him into trouble a few times during school group projects (heh), over the years it has translated into him being a HUGE help at home because he learns to do things by himself.

10.  He is musical - he won't admit it, but he's got musical ability.  I hope someday he learns to channel it into an instrument or voice.

9.  Logan is a great big brother - Seriously, 10 years between the 2 of them, but he plays with Beckett and keeps him entertained for me.  He can tell when I'm at my wits end and often swoops in to help out, without being asked.

8.  He is trustworthy - He does what he's asked (even if it takes a few times!)  I think he's one of the more responsible 12 year olds I know.

7.  He's also smart - He's always been ahead in his classes and on the honor roll, generally without trying hard.  He's gifted academically and I hope he continues to use it!

6.   Logan is the random facts king.  He brings up the most random facts all the time - because he is always learning and reading and researching.

5.   He is compassionate - He doesn't like hurting people's feelings or seeing people upset.

4.   He's got a killer smile.  With a little dimple or two if he's really, genuinely smiling.

3.   He is an individual - Logan is not afraid to be different.  He hasn't given in to peer pressure to change who he is to be popular or like anyone else.  He knows what he likes, and he likes it without apology.

2.  Logan is a collector - I prefer this term over hoarder.  Ahem.

1.  And he's a communicator - Logan can TALK.  He is a very detailed communicator and I know this will come in handy in his life.

I can't believe he's 12 - I always think of him like this:

That little guy is growing up way, way too fast.

Happy Twelve, Logan.  I love you!