Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thank YOU

You know, women have a bad rap for being petty, gossipy, immature and back-stabby.

In truth, I had very few female friends in my life until about 6 years ago when I knew I needed to refocus and re-center my life. But I wasn't sure how - it seemed to me most of the women I knew were awful.

In 2010, God began to reveal a funny little passion I never knew I had. It was a passion for seeing a community of women grow and flourish in each other and in Christ. I guess some might even call it women's ministry. I pushed back for a long time because I held on to a lot of past issues with 'friends' and kept telling myself that no, no - women's groups and women's issues were NOT my thing.

I've had some hits and misses when it comes to finding and keeping female friends. We just don't click with everyone and women are emotional beings who get their feelings hurt easily. Some days I feel like I'm back in high school and I want to throw my hands up and say FORGET IT. Who has time for it? I need people in my life who understand where I'm at and can respect what I'm able to give. That hasn't been easy to find, but I'm fortunate to have a few friends who just get it.

And over the past 4+ years I've dipped my toe in the pool a few times, and jumped back out but year after year, God reignites this passion of mine in different degrees and a variety of ways. I'm still very much figuring out what this looks like and how to take it on. I'm a mama who works part time for a non profit organization, homeschools a teenager, takes care of one highly spirited threenager and a 14 month old stage 5 clinger.

The great thing about knowing that this is part of what God is calling me to do is knowing that if I pursue him in the process, the pieces will come together. I don't have to sweat about it, stress about it, freak out about it. I feel excited but I also feel calm.

But until I have the pieces in place, I want to say this to you, my sweet friends.

You are so, so loved.

I wish there was a better way to convey that or fancier words to use. But that's the truth. My heart is so encouraged by how many of you reached out to me after my last blog post. I was terrified to post, worried that I'd hear nothing but crickets chirping. In fact, the opposite happened. So many of you answered and shared your hearts with me. You told me of past pain and current hang ups. You told me your heart craves the same thing. You told me you were all in, and you wanted to help in any way you could. You told me you desired a space where you could be free of the pressures of books and studies and weekly commitments. You told me you saw a space like I saw. Women gathered in homes, around tables, playing Cootie (you had to be there...) sharing conversation and eventually sharing your lives.

And there were many of you who reached out to me privately to share pain and heartache and things you felt were too personal to share on Facebook. I want each of you to know that I felt your hearts aching as you shared your stories with me. And I want you to know that I won't forget about you and I will be praying very specific prayers for each of you.

I know that God wants what we all so desperately crave - for the walls of condemnation, of judgment, of insecurity and fear to come crashing down. For us to sit with each other as sisters and friends and learn to love with grace and acceptance.

I am truly excited. And I am extremely thankful that so many of you were willing to share your heart with me. I believe that we each have a beautiful gift to share, beautiful and broken stories that will heal the pain of others who will realize they aren't alone. This process is already unfolding in front of me. It started with a Facebook conversation and I can't wait to see what comes out of that. Thank you for taking a risk and being willing to be part of what's coming!

Take heart, dear friend. The creator of the universe knows you intimately and He weeps when you weep, He rejoices when you rejoice.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Dreaming Big for 2015

Are you ever in a place in your life where you feel like you're the person who needs the constant help, encouragement, support, words of wisdom?

Can I confess something to you guys? Sometimes I feel like a vacuum. You know, like WHEN THE FLIP DID I GET SO NEEDY? Why am I sucking so much out of other people?

Seriously. When? And why?

Every year I pick a word at the beginning of the year that I hope to embody that year. This year I'm picking authenticity.

Some of you may have seen that I ordered Lara Casey's Powersheet goal setting system for 2015. One of my biggest goals this year is to stop focusing on what's all out of whack and chaotic about my own life, and reach out to encourage other women who are experiencing the chaos of their own lives. It's so easy to shut down when your own life is all topsy turvy but here is what I know about life and about God. Shutting down, turning inward and closing people off isn't the answer. It doesn't help, it doesn't make anything better and it's in opposition to what God wants for us.

I desire and crave so much an authentic community of women - one where there is honesty and love and support and it's messy and gritty and real. A number of years ago I led a Life Group with a friend of mine called Confessions of a Good Christian Girl, based on a book of the same name. It was my intention then to get a small group of women to experience the freedom of unleashing their burdens, their fears, their guilt and secrets - it was my intention for women to find that they were STILL loved and needed and valuable to others even if their deepest, darkest secrets were out in the light.

It didn't turn out quite the way I hoped, but I think it was a decent starting point. And still, deep down inside of me I feel a stirring for more of this type of community. I am dreaming big this year, dreaming with a couple other like minded women about what this could look like.

What if we as women sat across from each other in coffee shops and living rooms and drank coffee and stopped talking about new hair color and what our kids were up to. What if instead we spilled our fears, our desires, our hopes and dreams and talked about what holds us back? What if we stopped viewing each other as the competition and started viewing each other as sisters and friends in Christ? What if we stopped trying to BE the competition, stopped taking things that don't belong to us and stopped trying to outdo one another?

I am beyond fortunate to have a few close girlfriends who know everything - seriously, everything - about me. Every mistake I've made, every shameful secret I want hidden from the world, every struggle I have, every ounce of turmoil I've experienced. And that's amazing, it is. But I want and crave more. Not just for myself, but for all the women I know and will come to know. It is so freeing to have a friend in Christ who is there for you no matter what.

So if you're female, and you're reading this - will you leave a comment here or on my Facebook page telling me what this would look like for you? Do you crave a community like this? What would it look like, feel like, be like? Will you pray for me and for those that are dreaming big with me? What holds you back from being authentic and open with other women? What are the hurts you've experienced and what are the gifts you've received when you've been in a solid community of female friendship?

I would love to know what a beautiful community of authentic women could accomplish, in the name of Christ. I imagine big, amazing and glorious things and I think we can make it happen.

Monday, November 10, 2014

what's the deal with ties?

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile now - it might not pertain to everyone, but I am hoping that our experience will help at least one more overwhelmed mommy out there.

My youngest was born Oct 18th of 2013. As of about Oct 20th, 2013 I wondered what we had signed on for. He was miserable - beyond the normal kind of crying that newborns do. Beyond anything I had ever personally dealt with, and I have 3 kids! He screamed incessantly. Slept in short spurts. Seemed to be in pain, and he was inconsolable.

Doctors seemed puzzled, but offered little help. Most of them patted me reassuringly on the back and 'there there'd' me, and most of them thought I was a nervous first time mom. A few of them agreed that things didn't seem quite right. When Declan nursed he would sweat like a grown man. Big beads of sweat rolling down his face. I took a picture to show his pediatrician and she admitted she'd never seen anything quite like it. She went for a 2nd opinion, but no one knew what might cause it.

In December there was a stretch of time that I didn't leave my home for 9 straight days because he screamed so much. I was at the end of my rope, and desperate for something that would help. I called the pediatrician and demanded to try Zantac for possible silent reflux. It may have been the crazy in my voice, but they called in the script. In a few days we saw a fairly significant improvement. He definitely wasn't a happy baby by any means, but he wasn't screaming inconsolably for hours on end. I felt hopeful.

But pretty soon, things were back to normal. He cried a lot, he slept hardly any, he wasn't gaining weight at a healthy rate and I felt back to square one. I cut out dairy, wheat and soy. We tried bottles and formula. I saw lots and lots of doctors through this time. We cycled through pediatricians like it was our job. I finally threw in the towel on conventional medicine and sought the advice of a more naturopathic pediatrician in town.

My first meeting with her was amazing. She sat and spoke with me for 90 minutes. She listened to
everything I said, she asked question after question. She validated my concerns and she vowed to help. She sent me home with a list of things to try and other professionals to consult with.

One of the first things we tried was chiropractic care. I had high hopes for this, as it is supposed to be very helpful for reflux babies. But a few months into our care, even our chiro suggested we look into further testing, telling me that Declan was one of the most difficult babies he'd ever seen in his practice.

Back to the naturopathic pediatrician for more advice. I felt discouraged and overwhelmed. Sometimes I felt plain crazy. I started to doubt myself - maybe I was making more of this than it was? But then, in the worst of moments I knew I wasn't crazy. This was, after all, my third child. I wasn't new at this. I've been around babies my entire life! One day I remembered something the holistic ped offhandedly mentioned to me - something about his thick upper frenulum. And she had asked if Declan had ever been checked for a tie.

So I started doing a little research about this thick upper frenulum (also knows as an upper lip tie). The more reading I did about it, the more I became sure that this was Declan's problem. So many of the symptoms described him exactly. A baby with a tongue or lip tie experiences reflux-like symptoms, and it is often diagnosed as such. Or many mothers are told they don't have a good milk supply and they should switch to formula. Of course there are mothers who struggle with milk production, just as there are babies who have real reflux problems - but often times these issues are wrongly diagnosed.

Medical providers and often even some lactation consultants aren't well versed in this area. A lot of people don't understand the correlation between a lip and tongue tie and the breastfeeding relationship. A few doctors pooh poohed Declan's upper lip tie as being no big deal, and told me there was no way it would affect his breastfeeding.

Although I was discouraged, I pushed on. Through further research, I began to educate myself and what I learned was that if an upper lip tie is present (like Declan's), the majority of the time there is a tongue tie as well. Many pediatricians understand an anterior tongue tie - that often prevents a child from sticking his tongue out. But what many professionals don't understand is that a tongue can have a posterior tie. Declan could stick his tongue out but he couldn't lift it up. And without the ability to lift his tongue, he was unable to latch correctly and nurse efficiently. When he would cry, his tongue would lay flat and square on the bottom of his mouth. When a baby without a tongue tie cries, the tongue should lift up towards the roof.

A baby who latches correctly should have an upper lip that flanges out like a fish, and a tongue that curls around the nipple. A baby who can't latch correctly will have an upper lip that curls under, which is what Declan had. The inability to lift his tongue caused him to gulp lots of air while feeding, and to tire quickly. Nursing was so excruciating for him that it caused him to sweat profusely.

Through further research, I found a local dentist who performs the lip and tongue tie procedure. Not only does he perform them, he is one of the leading specialists in the area.

Declan's procedure was very quick, and his recovery was pretty easy. I felt an IMMEDIATE difference in his latch following the procedure. Within minutes, I could tell he was nursing differently. But the baby needs to re-learn how to feed. A baby begins to learn how to suck in utero - which means many times, it's a long road to teach a child how to suck correctly.

It's been a long, long road with my little peanut. Babies are supposed to triple their birth weight by a year old, and he just doubled his. But his development is on track and we are slowly finding a rhythm with him. After 9 months of him being hungry, exhausted, and unable to feed correctly or sleep well we have a lot of behavior to unlearn and fix. We just began working with an occupational therapist and I am hopeful we will continue to make great strides.

My gut told me that babies shouldn't cry like that for no good reason. That the ever elusive 'colic' diagnosis just didn't make sense. And that letting a baby cry to break him of bad habits or manipulation wasn't at all what was going to work in this situation. My child was, quite literally, starving and no one seemed to think it was a big deal.

If you have questions about any of it, you'll probably find your answers here. I am so grateful to the doctors who trusted my instincts as a mother, and who listened to my concerns and vowed to help me find the answers. I wish I had been able to piece it together earlier, but I hope that this experience will help me to educate others in similar situations.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hey P-Dub

Hey P-Dub,

(No, not Pioneer Woman) P-Dub...PW...Pastor's Wife.

Hey, you.

I see you.

Not in a voyeuristic type of way - in an I see you kind of way.

I see you at church on Sunday mornings, clothes carefully picked out and a smile on your face as you greet person after person, hoping to remember everyone's name.

I see you late at night, as you lie in bed and try to sleep as you fight back the tears worrying about the pressures of ministry and their effects on your husband and family.

I see you leading a women's group, or a circle, or small group or life group - I see you as you leave your family to serve, as you stay up late at night cramming and praying and hoping to find some pearls of wisdom to impart or for the ability to share a story that will inspire others.

I see you as you move from volunteer position to volunteer position, filling the gaps as they are needed, still smiling.

I see you sitting in your home, feeling lonely and isolated and wishing that someone would reach out. Wishing that someone would ask you how you were doing - and that someone would really mean it.

I see you as you fight with your husband, both of you weary from the 24 hour a day, 7 day a week demands of ministry life. I see you depleted and exhausted.

I see you feeling self conscious because someone in your family did something or said something or acted in a way that may make others raise an eyebrow. I see you worried and beating yourself up because you can't possibly attain the level of perfection expected of you.

I see you lonely and isolated, as you worry and pray for your husband, wishing you could share your struggles with someone. Wishing you had a safe place.

I see you loving on the people who come through the doors of your church. I see your genuine compassion and your beautiful heart that shines for Jesus not just on Sundays but on every other day of the week.

I see you loving your children and maintaining your home. I see you praying for strength and grace to be the kind of mother He wants you to be.

I see you plead with God to give you the stamina and the understanding to know how best to support your husband as he gives of himself day after day and comes home weary and tired and forever changed by the things he's seen, the stories he's heard, the broken people he's counseled.

I see the way your eyes light up when your husband preaches or leads worship, I see how much you love him and how proud you are at the way he is using his God given gifts.

I see your internal battle as you struggle to be accessible, but not too vulnerable. I see you weigh how much of yourself you can share.

I see you wince when you accidentally overhear criticism about your husband, or the church, or the music, or the staff, or the chairs, the children's ministry...I see you rise above and smile anyway. I can almost feel that pit in your stomach because you know every prayerful, angst filled moment given to making each decision.

I see you shove aside personal pain and anguish as you strive to fulfill your role in ministry. I see you succeed at times, and I see you fail many times.

I see you as you struggle to breathe because the stress and the pressure feels like a very real, very heavy block sitting squarely on your chest.

Dear Pastor's Wife: I see you. I see behind the role, behind the title, behind the persona and I see you.

It is a beautiful road you are walking. One that is special and God-filled and grace-filled. It is one that many people will never understand. It is a road that at times feels so lonely and dark and twisty and at other times feels so full of joy and amazing and breathtaking that you can scarcely believe you get to walk it.

Dear Pastor's Wife: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. Not just by many people at your church, not just by your kids and your husband and not just by the few close friends you have - but by your Heavenly Father. Oh, Pastor's Wife - He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.

And whether you knew your entire life that you were destined for this role or you became a Pastor's Wife without any preparation - whether your church has 100 or 10,000 members - whether your church plays hymns or loud music - God sees you. He sees every smile, every tear, every heartache, every fear. He sees you awake at night, worried and feeling alone.

You are not alone.

He sees you.

And I see you too. I am praying for you tonight, and every night. I am praying for you, dear Pastor's Wife. I know it's a tough, lonely road but I also know you are strong. You are stronger than you think and stronger than you know. You are treasured.

You Are Loved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

now that i have seen

I want to tell you a story.

But truthfully, it's hard to put into words what God has placed on my heart this past year - hard to formulate swirly thoughts into written words about the things I've read, the things I've prayed for, the promises I've made, the leaps I've taken, the fear I've felt, the frustration and apprehension, the joy and certainty.

I could list all the books I've read over the past year that have begun to chip away at me, take hold of a place in my heart and push me out of my comfort zone. I could tell you every thing that has inspired me along the way but this journey has been mine and your journey may be different. It may not look anything like mine. You may gather inspiration from completely different sources. God will tell you something completely different than He's telling me. He may be telling you to rest in motherhood right now, or to go back to school, to dive in at work, to invest in a friend.

So here is what I want to tell you. This year, I knew that God would radically shape who I was. I knew that I was being called to do something else with my life than what I was currently doing. I knew that this year was going to rattle and stretch me.

He took me from a comfortable place in motherhood and handed me a baby who needed much more than I thought I could give. He took me from a comfortable place of worship with other believers just like me and put me in a multi-cultural worship environment with people who are not just like me. He took my husband and I from a comfortable position where we couldn't discuss our weaknesses and brought us on staff with people who know our struggles.

And He told me to get up out of my comfortable Christianity and to branch out of my once a month volunteer church position and give of myself.

For 10 months I've been talking to God about all of this, about where He was taking me, what He was doing. For 10 months I've been asking him to break my heart for what breaks His - and in the words of Jen Hatmaker, to "raise up in me a holy passion"

I prayed, I pondered, I researched, I analyzed the dreams I had in rare moments of sleep. I took one step forward and then doubted myself, and took ten steps back. I questioned God. I looked around at my chaotic life and laughed, thinking - there is no way. There is no way I can do more.

But, friends, I am really - truly - excited to let you all in on the little secret I've been keeping for awhile now. To tell you that God has led me into territory that is frightening and heartbreaking but is exactly where God wants me to be. I will be joining up with the already amazing team at End Slavery in Charlotte, a fantastic organization and justice initiative of 24-7 that exists to raise awareness about modern day slavery.

Human trafficking, sex trafficking - these are areas I will immerse myself in over the coming months. My role at ESC will be partially in the social media capacity, and partially as a writer and blogger as I record my personal journey through this process. I will write about what I learn, about the people I meet, about the safe houses being acquired for victims, and I am sure I will write about much, much more.

It is my hope to not only raise awareness for the 800,000 victims trafficked each year, but to tell the stories of those who have been rescued. To put faces and stories and lives behind those numbers. The statistics I'm learning are already breaking my heart. There is no way I can turn away now. What I know is too powerful, too tragic and it is not ok.

I hope you'll follow along with me on this journey. I'm excited to share it with you.


Friday, September 26, 2014

For Such a Time

Last night was the season premiere of two of my favorite shows: Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. I put the kids down and settled into my couch. A trailer for the 11 o'clock news was playing: "70 year old man beaten to death with a brick...A shooting in a school parking lot...Charlotte Hornets player arrested in domestic assault"

With each story headline presented, I felt myself shutting down. I have such a hard time processing how human beings can cause severe physical harm to other human beings. I can't wrap my mind around it, and I tend to shut down. Turn it off. Turn away. Ignore.

Opening the floodgate to stories like that hurt my heart. They make me weep with fear for my children. They make me want to sit on my couch wrapped in a blanket and never leave the house. They make me fearful to send my children out alone. Fearful to trust anyone.

I know that the news tends to focus on the negative, and I'm well aware that beauty exists and that good people are out there doing good things. Doing GREAT things. And I know that we are commanded not to be afraid. I know the enemy is counting on us to be fearful, to lower our gaze and divert our eyes.

I told you all awhile back that I felt God wiggling His way into my already crowded and over-stressed existence. I told you that even though I feel overwhelmed at times, God is nudging me, quietly whispering that He has plans for me above and beyond those things. I have been praying for several months now, quietly communing with Him, asking Him over and over to show me what He has in store for me. I have been asking Him to break my heart for what breaks His.

And He is showing up. He is revealing a purpose for me. A cause for me to dive into. A cause that I know breaks His heart. A cause that I know will rip my heart open and leave it shattered on the floor. A cause that will leave me tempted to shut down, lower my gaze and weep. I am scared, I am full of passion, I am excited and nervous. I cannot wait to get going, but at the same time I know it is going to rip me apart and leave me exposed and vulnerable and needing God more than ever before.

I have a habit of shutting down. God is telling me to open up. He is telling me that if I declare myself a follower of Christ, I need to show it in my actions. I need to face the ugly, to side with those who are poor and vulnerable and broken in spirit. To step outside of my comfortable Christianity - my community of middle class believers who are just like me.

I can't wait to share more of my journey with you. The pieces are falling into place now, and when the time is right, I will share more.

And I'm asking you to pray for me. That God would continue to reveal Himself and His purpose for me and that I would always be in a place to receive it. That when the enemy fights back, and I know he will, that I would be in a place to withstand it. And when you're ready, I encourage you to pray the same prayer I have - for God to break your heart for what breaks His.

We can all find encouragement in Mordecai's message to Esther, found in Esther 4:14:

"For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 

Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In honor & Celebration of

This time, 2 years ago, I was getting ready for a routine 16 week appointment with my OB. Later that day we would find out that our baby's heart had stopped beating. Their best guess was that it happened just a few days before.

Since that day, there has been pain, sadness, happiness, joy, death, life, loss, and growth. Life moves on, even in the face of tragedy.

I have written a lot about Lilia, and I'm grateful to have been able to process my grief through words. I'm grateful to so many of you for letting me speak, for talking to me about her, for grieving with me. Someone recently told me they thought I was acting like a victim for posting about her.

Let me be clear.

I am not 'acting like a victim'.

I am a grieving mother, who lost her daughter.

And here is what I know from the last 2 years. Many of you have also lost daughters and sons. Some of you may lose a child in the future. I'm not trying to be morbid, but the American Pregnancy Association says that the risk of miscarriage, on average, is about 20-30%.

I know that miscarriage and pregnancy/baby loss is a lonely and dark place.

I know that using my voice from this experience has helped other women, because they've told me so. I know that I personally found healing through the voices of other women who shared their experiences.

Today, in honor and celebration of Lilia I will be donating my wedding gown to be used to make burial gowns for tiny babies who leave this earth too soon. If you know someone who has been impacted by the loss of a child, consider donating either your wedding gown, your money (just $10 can make a gown!), or your talents as a seamstress to NICU Helping Hands Angel Gowns program.

And to those of you who allow me to honor my daughter through written word or conversation, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.


Also grateful to Amanda from Joy Ever After for photographing various stages of pregnancy with the fruit that correlates to the size of the baby.

We love and miss you Lilia Faith!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I have a blissful hour to myself today - it's a rare, rare thing these days. As a mother to a homeschooled teen, a threenager and a high needs babe, I am with someone almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But in the last few weeks, God is stirring something inside of me. I don't know all the ins, outs, ups, downs, wheres and hows right now - but what I do know is I'm ready.

I'm excited to see where God leads me in all of this.

A bunch of years ago I had the word Hosanna in Hebrew tattooed on my back. I wanted it to serve as a reminder of this line in the song Hosanna by Hillsong: "Break my heart for what breaks yours"

Over the past few years, I have let that passion slip to the wayside. I have let myself become burdened by family stress, by motherhood, by change, by finances, by sleeplessness, by ministry. I told myself that the best I could do was to donate money to causes I felt passionate about. I felt fortunate that we were able to do this. Sponsoring a couple of kids in Peru? Check. Volunteering at my church? Check. Tithe? Check. A husband in ministry? Check. Isn't that enough? And in truth, at times - it was as much as I could handle.

But it's been way too easy to get wrapped up in my new normal - a normal which leaks stress and tension into every area of my life. A normal which has spanned over the last year and included some of the most difficult, dark, lonely, and angst filled moments I've ever experienced. I have been sleep deprived to the point of insanity (at least it feels like it!) My doctor told me I was in adrenal fatigue. My counselor told me I was heading towards a breakdown.

And even though what we have experienced with Declan and other things going on in our life is real and valid, I have felt the not so gentle tug to stop focusing inward. To stop letting myself be weighed down with what is going on within my four walls. I've felt a nudge from God that says I can carry more burden.

Say what?

Isn't this the problem when you ask God to work in your life? He's going to answer you, and the answer probably isn't what you want to hear. What I wanted to hear was that God was going to remove the problems and the stress. That He was going to bless my baby and make him start sleeping through the night. And while we are seeing some progress with Declan, it's been slow and I have been chanting to myself "The days are long but the years are short."

And in the midst of that, God told me that I can open my heart to the burdens of others around me. After all, isn't He the one that takes our burdens from us? Isn't He the one who asks us to cast our worries on Him?

A few weeks ago, I had a friend ask me why I was 'white knuckling it'.  I had to really take a good, long look at myself and my life and come to terms with the fact that I was trying too hard to control things I have very little control over.

He is whispering at me to look at things from a global and eternal perspective, and to hold my hands open in worship of Him, to beg Him to break my heart for what breaks His. I am ready to accept His call. I don't know what it will look like yet. I am at the very beginning stages of finding out how God wants to use me. It might be small, it might be big. It might here in my home, in my family or it might be elsewhere. I'm ready, and waiting.

I have been sitting pretty in my "comfortable Christianity" for too long. I am ready for my world to get rocked.

Who's with me?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Parenthood is a Battle


I'm not one to ask for much, usually. I'm not one to do a whole lot of complaining publicly. I try to put on a happy, smiling, brave face even when my real life face is stressed or sad or bawling. I joke or keep things light on Facebook and post happy pictures, even when things are really, really hard.

I sat down here to try to put into words what the last 9 months of life have been like. What life after Declan's birth have been like. But nothing is coming out right. Nothing could have prepared me for how difficult this has been, how helpless I have felt.

I'm here to humbly ask for your prayers. Prayers for this exhausted mama and her exhausted baby.

Pregnancy insomnia kicks in pretty darn early for me, and it was no different with Declan's pregnancy.

And then he was born - and he sleeps in 30-45 minute increments. I've been fortunate (?) enough that there have been several odd nights in 9 months that he's slept 5-7 hour stretches, but in the last 18 months I don't believe I've had much more than half a dozen nights of a full night's sleep. And when he's not cat napping, he's doing a lot of crying. And wanting to be held. But then he squirms to be put down. And then he cries to be picked up. And then squirms to be put down. Then fusses some more.

I'm tired, friends. Tired right to the core of my bones. And I'm stressed like I never understood stress. And I'm sad. Sad for my baby, who has had one battle after another since he was born and sad for myself who is exhausted but honestly? Mostly sad for my family who is also suffering right along with me. Sad for a husband who already battles stress and sleep issues and still has to get up and go to work to support our family. Sad for a son who spends his summers away from me and couldn't get any one on one time with me before he left because his little brother cried all night. Sad for a toddler who has adjusted to life so well and so easily and been the best big brother I could have asked for but who seems to be finally hitting his little 3 year old limit.

I'm sad for my eyebrows which really need their own zip code these days, and for my hair which is down to my waist for no other reason than I can't actually be alone long enough to get it cut!

I'm sad for friends I've lost over the past 9 months because I just don't have time for friendships much anymore. And if I find the time, I barely have the energy. I'm sad for myself because I'll always have this ache in my heart for a baby girl, but can't imagine ever going through this again. I'm sad for the people, the events, the things I've blown off because I can't muster motivation to do anything but sit at home and hold my children and cry some days.

This is hard y'all. Really, really hard. And one thing I've learned in my years of blogging is that if I'm going through some crap...there is someone else out there who is going through something similar. I try to share of myself so that maybe one other person out there feels a little less alone.

There is (I hope) a small glimmering light at the end of this really dark tunnel.

In the midst of an ongoing internal battle of wanting to accept that Declan was just a highly difficult child and my instinct that something was wrong - Declan was finally (FINALLY) diagnosed with an upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie which has been causing him a lot of difficulty with nursing and with solids. We had those revised last week, and there has been much improvement with his food intake. I am hanging in there, hoping this inevitably brings a happier - and sleepier - and fatter - child. These sleepless days that turn into sleepless nights are hard on everyone, and probably hardest on a growing baby who isn't ever feeling quite right.

So if you think of it, please pray for this tired mama. And for all the other tired mamas out there who are doing their best to survive the day. Parenthood is a battle, on even the best of days.


Sunday, March 30, 2014


This morning, I pulled into our church parking lot about 1 minute before the service was to start. Couldn't find a place to park, Declan was screaming his head off, and I was flustered. All I could think about was getting my kids dropped off in the nursery before my favorite part of church (music, duh) started.  I was scattered and it was windy and COLD and as we made our way into the building, I realized I couldn't find my phone.

I half paid attention as we got the kids signed in and dropped off in their respective classes. I was mentally retracing my steps to figure out where I might have left the phone. I knew I'd had it minutes before pulling into the parking lot because I'd texted my husband (at a stoplight!) that I was almost there.

We made it into the service about 2 minutes late, couldn't find anywhere to sit, still mentally retracing all of my steps as the ushers got out extra chairs for us.

During worship, I sent my 13 year old back out to the parking lot to look for the phone. I figured it must have fallen out of the car when I was in such a rush and was sure to be lying, smashed in a million pieces, on the pavement. He came back a little bit later with no phone.

The phone wasn't in my purse, and it wasn't in the diaper bag. It wasn't in any of my pockets. It wasn't lying smashed in a million pieces on the parking lot. It wasn't in the car, under a seat, behind a toy or in a cupholder.  The phone had somehow managed to disappear in the 5 minute timespan from texting my husband to getting out of my car.

Todd is out of town from Monday to Friday this week and I was - truly - panicked at the idea of having no phone while he was traveling and away. But, after thoroughly searching everywhere it could be after church let out, I resigned myself to no phone. Almost in tears at what I'd lost from a financial standpoint - and let's face it, I feel like my whole life is on my phone these days - I pulled out of the church parking lot.

A few miles down the road I heard an odd little thump coming from what sounded like the roof of my car. Logan and I looked at each other and as I was saying aloud, "what in the world was that?" I suddenly had a flashback of jumping out of my car and setting my travel mug and phone on the roof of the car while I pulled Declan screaming from his carseat.

Realizing that the thumping sound was very likely the sound of my precious and expensive phone careening off the roof of my car and shattering onto the road behind me, I turned around as quickly as possible and retraced our steps (er, drive). I even turned on my hazards and got out of the car to search the road and the grass for the phone.

As I was about to give up and get back in the car, I glanced at the roof in a last ditch attempt to see if perhaps the phone hadn't actually fallen off and was still somehow on top of the car.

And do you know what?

It was. That stupid iPhone was {somewhat} safely nestled between two of the racks on top of my car. Relief flooded over me as I saw the phone was no worse for the wear. My lifeline was back!

Warning - cheesy analogy ahead.

I wish I could say that whenever I realize I've set God aside in the chaos of life that I was that frantic to find Him again. I wish I could tell you that I spend that much energy and emotion tracking Him down when I remember it's been awhile since I've last touched base.

This isn't a 'your iPhone is of the devil' kind of blog post. Really, I do love my phone.

But it is a simple reminder not to trade God's miracle for the world's magical. (Thank you, Pastor Rusty!)
  A reminder that when you wonder where He's gone since you last touched base, He's not that far at all.

I am, perhaps, slightly embarrassed at how distraught I got over a missing iPhone, especially when I discovered it on the roof of my car. But today it reminded me that God is not far from me, ever, and for that I am grateful.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Here are ten things I'm loving lately...

From left to right:

1. Organic Fiji Virgin Coconut Oil with Pineapple lotion This stuff smells like tropical paradise. Because it's a coconut oil, you'll probably need to run the bottle under hot water for a few minutes to get it to liquify but it's worth every precious second.

2. Glass Cafe Mug - It's just pretty.

3. Stainless Steel Straws - These are my new favorite smoothie straws. They come with a cleaning brush (totally necessary for smoothie drinking) AND they won't warp or melt in the dishwasher. Winning!

4. Boots No 7 Vanilla Body Scrub - I grabbed this because Target had them on clearance for $3. Smells so good!

5. Frozen  - I mean, it's Disney. Enough said.

6. Noonday Collection Very Versatile Bracelet - honestly, I have loved all my Noonday stuff, but this is hands down my favorite piece. It's kind of on the pricey side, but I got a great discount for hosting a party. If you want to host a party, let me know and I will hook you up with Amanda!

7. Swanson's Pea Protein Powder - my doctor has me adding protein powder to my morning smoothies and this is my favorite. It has a lot of protein and doesn't taste chalky or weird. It's also PURE pea protein - no added ingredients or things you can't pronounce and it's non GMO. Also winning.

8. J.R. Watkins Lemon hand cream - This smells like a lemon cupcake. It's a delicious scent.

9. Dang Toasted Coconut Chips - Eat some of these and you will definitely say, "Dang! These are good!"

10. Hunter Rain Boots - I have been eyeing Hunter rain boots since I was a fetus. Ok, not really. But for years. I am CHEAP when it comes to shoes (Target anyone?) but I finally splurged on these (AFTER selling something!) - and I've worn them half a dozen times already. Thanks for the rain, Charlotte!

What have you been loving lately?

Also, you may have heard me talk about Vitacost recently - if you want to check it out follow THIS LINK for $10 off your order!
Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND Bars Recipe

Did you guys know there are people on YouTube that are kind of like bloggers, only they talk on video instead of write?

Ok, yes I know I'm way behind the times. But I just recently discovered some great YouTube vloggers (??) and I am kind of excited about it.

One of them shared a recipe for homemade KIND bars that kind of made me jump up and down. We LOVE all manner of granola, nut, or fruit bars in this house and I almost always have a stash of Lara or Kind bars in the pantry.  The problem is, even buying them in bulk gets pricey. My husband travels a lot for work, and he likes to have some to take with him.

When I saw this recipe on YouTube I knew I needed to try it! I found it a little annoying to cook from a video recipe, so I wrote it down and I'm going to share it with you!  The recipe below is the original - I actually used cashews, pecans and almonds instead of walnuts, peanuts and almonds.

One thing - you WILL need a candy thermometer for this, unless you are a seasoned candy expert and know when your syrup will hit the soft ball stage.  If you have no idea what I just said, definitely use a candy thermometer.

Dark Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt KIND Bars
Printable Recipe

- 3/4 c. walnuts
- 3/4 c. peanuts
- 2 c. almonds
- 1 c. dark chocolate chips for melting
- 1 tbslp flax meal
- 1/2 c. millet
- 1/2 c. honey
- 1/3 c. Brown Rice Syrup
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla


Roast your walnuts, peanuts and almonds for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spray a mixing bowl and a 9x13 inch cookie sheet with a non-stick spray (I used olive oil)  Add your nuts, the millet and flax meal.  Set aside.

On medium high heat, cook honey, brown rice syrup, vanilla and salt. Stir frequently. Heat until 260 degrees, using a candy thermometer.

Once your syrup reaches 260 degrees, you'll want to work quickly. Pour the syrup into the nut mixture and stir to evenly coat.  Then pour into a greased cookie sheet. You can flatten the nut mixture with the bottom of a greased glass or with wax paper. Once you've flattened the nuts out, let cool for 30 minutes.

After cooled, flip your cookie sheet over to release the mixture - it should come out in a big rectangle. Cut into bars.

Melt your dark chocolate chips with a double broiler or in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.  Dip the underside/bottom of each bar into the chocolate and put on wax paper to cool. After the bottoms of all the bars are dipped in chocolate, use the leftover to drizzle on top of each bar with a spoon.

You can refrigerate or freeze until the chocolate is hard and then wrap each bar individually in wax paper.  


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cherry + Beet Smoothie

I posted a pic the other day on Facebook of my new favorite (ok, second favorite) smoothie recipe and a ton of you have asked for it - because I hadn't really measured things out, I typed out what I *thought* it would be a few times and then I decided I would pay attention to what I was putting in the blender so I could share the correct amounts with you!

I've been seeing a naturopathic doctor to help me rebalance myself after having a bunch o'babies and to effectively take off (and KEEP off) baby weight - she mentioned how much she loved beets in her smoothies and then rattled off a few other ingredients she puts in there as well. We didn't talk about measurements, so this probably varies from what she does but I've been really enjoying it as an alternative to my ALL TIME favorite smoothie (the Glowing Green Smoothie).

A few things to note - beets have a very earthy flavor and while I don't find it overpowering or unpleasant, it is noticeable.  Because I use raw beet, it is a little fibrous but again, I don't mind it. And if you don't have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you'll probably want to roast your beets first to make it easier.

And as with any smoothie recipe, you may need to tweak it to make it your own.

Anyway, here it is! Enjoy!

Beet Cherry Smoothie

- 1 c. almond milk
- 1/2 c. filtered water
- 1 beet, peeled and chopped (you can start with half if you aren't sure how you'll like the flavor)
- beet greens/stems from one beet (or, you can throw in a handful of other greens)
- 1 c. frozen cherries, whole
- 3/4 c. blueberries
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp powdered turmeric
- splash of Organic Pure Pineapple Juice (optional)
- 1 Tblsp Garden of Life Organic Chia Seed (optional)
- 1 scoop unflavored Pure Pea Protein Powder (optional)

Blend until smooth!

Monday, March 3, 2014


"Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways." ~Proverbs 4:25-26

Have you ever watched a toddler navigate through something he's really excited about?  We have a loop in our house that Beckett loves to run over and over and over again. He's usually giggling and laughing and - looking behind him as he runs. Most of the time, he's hoping someone is chasing after him.

Yesterday, on the way home from our neighborhood playground we stopped by our friend's house to chat, enjoy the sunshine and let the kids play for a few minutes.  This particular friend of Beckett's has a very cool kid-sized kid-driveable Mustang. Beckett was so excited to have a chance to drive the car, and I couldn't help but notice that as he drove, he kept his eyes fixed backwards, watching the tires as they turned.

In our house, or on the road - one thing is bound to happen when Beckett looks behind him while charging full speed ahead. He's going to hit a wall (or a tree, or a mailbox, or a person) He can't safely navigate where he's going without his gaze fixed securely in front of him.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep your eyes forward - to keep your gaze fixed upon the One who wants so desperately to lead us deeper than we can imagine.  

I love this excerpt from Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton

'It’s easy to spend time in the shallow end of faith. It’s not a real commitment. You can just hop in, stand around in tight circles, and people-watch. You can examine your nails, read, reread, and catch up on all the gossip. You can talk and talk and talk and come to a great many conclusions and decisions and still maintain your hairstyle and even avoid smudging your makeup.

I think the reason we don’t hear from people in the deep end as often is because they’re actually swimming. In the deep end, you have to keep moving. It’s hard to look cool. It’s tiring and scary even, since it’s just you and your head and your heart in the silence of the depths. There’s not much chatting or safety in numbers in the deep end. You have to spend most of your time there alone. And it’s impossible to get any solid footing. You just have to trust that the water will hold you, and you have no other choice but to flail about and gasp for air and get soaking wet, head to toe.'

That. That is what I want. 

I want that kind of faith. The kind of faith where my eyes are fixed forward, where I am too busy kicking and flailing in the deep end to stand on the sidelines admiring my manicure, playing games, staring at the spinning tires or looking behind me to see if anyone is chasing me. 

In church recently, the pastor said, "Make God North on your compass. Pursue Him first." I want to know that no matter what is going on in my rearview mirror, I've got the sunroof open and the music blaring and I am going north.  Heading into the deep end.

Yes. That.