Baby Bump 3: Week 29

did you notice my socks don't match? cause they don't.

Dear Baby,

The last week in our twenties! How is that possible? This week was tough on me. I developed some new aches and pains and didn't feel great at the beginning of the week. I just can't do as much as I'm used to being able to do. And leg cramps at night are coming back. And not being able to get comfortable when sleeping. It was just tough. But you're still healthy. And we have ten/eleven weeks left and we can do this, baby girl! 

You are all out rolling and kicking me in the ribs and just doing your thing in there and it's my favorite. Even though these last months are more uncomfortable, I love how big you feel and how much easier it is to picture you on the outside, in my arms. Blythe has felt you kick her when she's sitting on my lap and she'll look up at me with big eyes. She also noticed that you "pushed my belly button out."

Your sister also got sick this week. I just hate it so much. I hate that she's miserable and I hate that there is so little I can do. So I hold her. I pray relentlessly for her. And as I was holding her and you kicked and squirmed I thought about how I'll do this for you some day too. I'll hate it for you. I'll hold you. I'll pray for you. But you'll have to go through it. And in your weariness and sickness and weakness, God will hold you in ways I can't. If I've learned anything about parenting it's that God is a far better parent than I can ever be, and there will be many times I will have to re-release you into his care and into his arms.

We now will be going to our doctor every two weeks. I always feel like when we get to this point it's really game time. And so here we are, at the end of a month, at the end of another of our 40 weeks on this journey together. And I love you so much. More and more every day I'm ready to hold you.

Love, Mom


For the Love: a review

 Remember when I used to get books to review? The last one I got was in July or August, and I promptly started reading it and then promptly remembered how much I can't read in my first trimester. SO. I gradually finished this one, and this may not be the best review.

Many of you have heard of this book by the popular blogger, Jen Hatmaker. For the Love was a book I was really excited about reading. Several of my friends read this book and loved this book. The "blurb" for the book is as follows:

The popular writer, blogger, and television personality reveals with humor and style how Jesus' extravagant grace is the key to dealing with life's biggest challenge: people.

The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning first with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, live for, go to church with, don't like, don't understand, fear, struggle with, compare ourselves to, and judge. People are the best and worst thing about the human life.

Jen Hatmaker knows this all too well, and so she reveals how to practice kindness, grace, truthfulness, vision, and love to ourselves and those around us. By doing this, For the Love leads our generation to reimagine Jesus' grace as a way of life, and it does it in a funny yet profound manner that Christian readers will love. Along the way, Hatmaker shows readers how to reclaim their prophetic voices and become Good News again to a hurting, polarized world.
 However, I had really mixed feelings about this book. Let me say this: I LOVE Jen Hatmaker. All you have to do is visit her blog and you will fall in love too. And her voice is as funny and inviting in For the Love. So why my mixed feelings? I feel like it is all over the place. One chapter she is really digging into my soul and talking about Jesus, and then on the very next page she she starts a chapter on her yoga pants. It just wasn't cohesive, and my brain struggled to catch up.

However, I did laugh throughout it. And there were a few chapters that really resonated with me, namely the chapter about calling and the chapter about our front porches/community. But overall I was hoping it would have more depth, I guess. I wanted more of what her subtitle suggested: Fighting for Grace in a world of Impossible Standards, and more of her pointing people to that grace. However, it is very light on bible references, and heavy on sarcasm and "love God, love People." Don't get me wrong: I agree with "Love God. Love people." And I love sarcasm. But it just felt like the inconsistent subject matter and the lack of depth were too much for me. I still think it's a decent book to read if you're already a Christian, but I feel like some people may get hung up in her snarky chapters where she airs some grievances and then have a hard time coming back to a chapter about how we should love people.

I was maybe being too critical because I really wanted to like this book. [However, I would recommend her books Interrupted or 7 far and above this one].

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for review. This is my honest opinion. 


Brent's Haiti Trip


At the beginning of January Brent was able to take a trip to Haiti with our church. Here is what he wrote about the experience: 

     Before the trip even began, God was moving within me. As my disdain grew for my own indifference towards the vulnerable, it was clear God was calling me to grow and be challenged by the biblical call to care for orphans, widows, and the vulnerable.  It had become too easy to ignore the poor. 
     But as God was moving, I was slowing him down.  “Wait God.  Not all at once, let me address this issue in small doses.”  And so I procrastinated a bit, which unfortunately is a usual occurrence, and the trip to Haiti filled up quickly.  But even after the team was capped, I was allowed to sign up. One of many instances that seemed small at the moment but all combined into an overwhelming message of, “Brent. Go.”  So I listened and obeyed. 

     A song struck me as I drove to the airport to leave the country:  “My Heart is Yours (I Surrender All)” by Kristian Sanfill.  I often look for brilliant-C.S. Lewis-type revelations from God when I go on trips like this, but often it’s as if God wants to show me another side of a basic truth.  When this song, one I’ve heard many times before, played that that early morning the simplicity struck me:  “Take it all, take it all, my life in your hands....All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.”  I wrote in my journal later that day that “More and more the Spirit is leading my heart into a better understanding of what it means to “surrender all and freely give”.  At that time I didn’t know just how my heart would have ample opportunity to surrender and freely give on this trip.
     Upon arrival in Haiti our first destination was the Go-Ex manufacturing plant which was started by Global Orphan Project.  This plant offers opportunity.  It houses jobs for some 80+ Haitians to earn a living wage.  The purpose of the plant is to prevent children from being orphaned by creating jobs-- to prevent parents from having to make the unbelievable choice between allowing their kids to starve, or giving them up to an orphanage that will take care of them. This plant also helps fund the orphanages. With unemployment near 70%, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of the problem as the manager shared an example of this desperation.  He said, “If I told my employees we’re needing 5 more employees and to tell their family and friends who needs jobs to apply, that he’d have 2,000 Haitians at his door the next morning.”  That was one of many times in which I experienced the reality of many Haitians.  Desperation. I slowly began to realize that there were walls in my heart of privilege and affluence that kept others at arms length--from being compassionate, kind, generous, and empathetic. 

Although we visited a few other similar places that provided jobs for Haitians as well as orphan prevention/care, we were able to visit 3 orphanages [we maximized our time there and kept busy!].  Our bus would arrive carrying 16 of us and in an instant 80 kids would surround our door.  We were sucked out of the bus at each place like a wave slams into you.  A child or a few children would take us off one by one into the orphanage.  Leading us by the hand or with one arm around our neck, they’d have us from the very first moment we met.  I was so humbled and blessed by the time spent playing with those kids.  Whether it was soccer or marbles, spinning them or throwing them up, teaching them to juggle or playing a made up game with rocks, it was all slowly changing me in some way.  Before leaving for the trip I read a passage that spoke to this change that was happening.  It said, “Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him or her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of uncertainty, and give up control and self-determination.”  

     Late one evening as we gathered to try and verbalize our physical/emotion/spiritual state, one spoke up and made the connection between how the kids would come to us and how Jesus called a little child to come to him.  Matt. 18:1-4 says, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Jesus challenged us that night to ask ourselves, “Do we run to him like those kids ran to us?” 
     Lastly, the question I’m wrestling with is, “What now?”.  What areas of my life do I need to surrender? How can I care for the vulnerable in my sphere of influence? Do I run to Jesus like a child?  As the questions pile up, the only answer I have reached is to have the faith to trust God knows how to best answer them.  I tend to answer for God in ways I feel would be best for my life, but they often work out to be just the opposite. At one place we visited, I stood amazed as I watched Haitian women form mugs on a pottery wheel. It was a visual picture of the work God is doing in my heart.  

So maybe you gave to this trip to help, or support me, but I hope that through this process God is challenging you also to step out and experience God’s heart for the vulnerable.  Would you join me in the scary journey surrendering all and to whatever God has for us?  To asking God each day, “What would you have me do?” 



Baby bump 3: week 28

Dear Baby,

Is it just me or are the weeks flying be? And is it just me or are you non-stop moving and grooving in there? You're starting to jab in my ribs even and your rolls are like full on tidal waves. I love it. One time you made me audibly gasp this week because you kicked so hard. I know you're just gearing up for this third child gig and trying to make a name for yourself, but I hear ya ;)!

This week your dad and I got to go to a bed and breakfast that we love. We went there when I was pregnant with Becks too, and it's just nice to have some time and quiet to talk with each other and really think about what adding you to our family will look like. Obviously, on this side of things we don't have much of an idea, but we like to dream. Over some mexican food we were able to finally decide on your four traits: we've always picked four traits to pray for our babies, and it was high time we decided yours so we could start praying! We are now praying that you are humble, attentive, faithful, and generous. I'll write more in depth about these sometime so you know just why we pray these for you. We can't wait to see how God will use you in these areas.

I can still feel you hiccup from time to time, which I just love. We also had another appointment this week, which kicked off our every-two-week-visits now [how are we here already!] Your heartbeat sounded strong and I was measuring one week small. This happened with your sisters and the doctor said it could be because I have a long torso or because you'll be a small baby, but we'll keep an eye on it just the same.

We love you so much. I'm really ready to have you in my arms to hold and love. Blythe said she doesn't love you in my belly but will love you when you come out of my belly. Get ready for some full on love!

Love, Mom
taking belly pictures can get dangerous when Mulan/Ping is running around your house


Baby bump 3: week 27

 For this week's viewing pleasure, I give you 9 o'clock at night in sweats: 

Dear baby,

You are moving and grooving now… or maybe you're just a lot bigger and I can feel you more now, either way I don't mind too much. It has made for a few uncomfortable nights, but I always remind myself that I am so grateful it is you in there.

I have felt like I've had twenty pound bags on me, just weighing me down, begging me to sit and rest and sleep. I've obviously had to do more throughout the days this time around, as your sisters don't want to give me the day off. The other morning I crawled in bed with Blythe after she woke up, hoping she'd take a hint and rest a little longer. She told me it was time to get up and so I told her she could just be in charge for the day. She said, "Littler girls can't take care of everything. We can't reach stuff." So I had to get out of bed to reach stuff all day.

Your dad returned safely from Haiti, and we're all glad to have him back. We were just talking about how when you girls all get older we would love to take a trip like that together. How neat it will be to get to watch you girls love and serve and learn from another culture and people; to get to see that God is the same in Haiti as He is here.

Oh girl. I'm starting to dream more about you. What you'll look like. What you'll be like. Will you like music like your sisters? Will you like to draw pictures on a blank piece of paper, or will you prefer to color in pictures already printed in a coloring book? Will you love to be outside? Will you talk early? Walk early? [My guess on the last two is probably and highly doubt it, if you follow the patterns set before you]. Will you love Jesus early? Will you be a good sleeper? [Please Lord, let her be a good sleeper]. So many unknowns and yet I know this with all my heart: we will love you as we learn who you are.



but even if He doesn't in 2016

I know. It's practically the middle of January but I want to talk about the fact that we are staring down the face of a brand new year. 2016. Criminitly, I feel old. [As you all hang your head, thinking, "You just used "criminitly"; you are old."]

I don't ever do a big thing for the new year. I've tried a few resolutions before. Last year I wanted to remember two truths  I had learned as I headed into the year; the year before that I took an image with me into 2014.

This year, as we tossed our old calendars and hung up the new one, I was able to spend a day in a little solitude. It was so good for my soul. And during that time I had a few things stand out to me that I want to remember as I head into this year, a year of unknowns as we add another girl to our family.

// I want to remember that day of solitude, and how good it is to abide in Christ. He is rest for the weary, and sometimes I just need His rest above all.

// In one of my first devotions for the year was the phrase: confident peace. In Christ I can have confident peace as I step into unknowns, as I face chaotic days, and as I grow fearful and weary. Confident Peace. Amen. 

// I finished a book at the end of the year called "Just Show Up". It was about exactly that: just show up for people. Sit with them in their grief and in their messes and in their hard stuff. Don't try to fix things for them or heal them: just show up. I want to do that more.

// And lastly: I was able to reflect some on the story in Daniel 3 of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego [it's really a shame I didn't have three boys…]. In that story, when they are confronted by King Nebuchadnezzer [or four boys…] for not bowing down to the golden image they say, "Throw us in the fire and our God will save us… But even if He doesn't we still won't bow down." God will show up. But even if He doesn't. That's a bold move. That's real, gritty, hard faith. And in 2016 I want to remember that and have that kind of "throw me in the fire" faith. I've been listening to a Lauren Daigle song called "Trust in You" on repeat [if you aren't, you should be too], and in it she proclaims the truth, "There is no place that I'll go, He's not already stood." 

I want to walk through hard things with people, abide in Christ, have confident peace at His hands, pray hard, and despite what happens… even if He doesn't … I want to still trust in Him. Because He's already stood in 2016.

Let's get this party started.


Baby bump 3: week 26

remember that one time I thought I would take all of my bump pictures with a good camera and good lighting next to a brick wall? 
This week my three year old took them on my phone. 

Dear Baby,

Hey girl! I'm way behind on writing you this week, but here's the deal: Your dad was in Haiti this week, playing with some kids at orphanages over there, so it was just me and your sisters holding down the fort. I realized that I was already behind and really needed a picture, so I handed my phone to Blythe and she snapped these. 

This week one of my favorite things happened: I got to feel you hiccup for the first time. This is one of my favorite sensations, because it just makes you seem even more real to me. I can picture you in my arms hiccuping as I hold you. 

I'm also to the point that I have to gauge whether bending over is really worth it. I'm definitely way more sore all over this time than the previous two. My cousin just told me that when she was pregnant she would kick all the toys to the center of the room and just bend down one time to pick them up. This is genius! 

I'm entering the land of very tired again, but that also means the end is in site which is hardly believable! It was bitterly cold this week, and I found myself longing for spring again; a spring in which you'll be in my arms. I love you so much. 



A year in review: 2015

 Brent always loves when I write my "Year in Review" posts so he can remember what we did last week. I know I spend more time on them than I should, because I know no one else really cares. This year I decided to just pick one or two pictures for each month, and then highlight a few things I wrote about during that time. Everything in italics is linked to an older post that you can read or re-read.


I wrote about a day at the spa [ha], and a story my wedding ring told me. 

And I wrote about trusting the mess and the grace in my days at home with the girls.


I decided to get in the boat more with the girls. We said good-bye to a life time neighbor and I reflected on what it really meant to be a neighbor. Oh, and I wrote some letters to women I see everyday. 


Blythe turned THREE and had a party and I wrote her her birthday letter.
I also gave a detailed how-to for having a phone conversation with your sister.   

I even busted out a little poetry to honor my old My Little Ponies.  [and still get teary eyed when I read this….shhhh]

[I wrote a lot in March, apparently, and I would be remiss to not also mention I wrote about a hawk flying around my house as a child and I also wrote an open letter the high chair which I am so sad I will have to bust back out…]


We took a trip to Kentucky and I wrote about what worked for us with traveling with little ones. Blythe left a BandAid on for nine days and it made me wonder what my "BandAids" are.  

I turned 29 and finally realized my identity. << [this was one of my biggest lessons/reflections from the year].


Our sweet Becks turned ONE and had a party and I wrote her her birthday letter. 

I also went out on a limb and shared my first round of dirty pics and everyone's response was awesome.  I pondered if texting or parenting while driving was more dangerous, and learned to give myself twenty minutes. 


I wrote about the power of the person in front of us, and I took a girls for a walk by myself for the first time ever.  Brent ran another half marathon, no big deal.

Oh, and I started praying that Jesus would get "stuck in my mouth" and I had my first garage sale meaning Blythe had her first lemonade stand. 


My writing began to slow down, but I took time to think about what it takes to create authentic community. I FREAKED the heck out and read Harper Lee's NEW/OLD book in less than five hours then wrote this review.  I thought about fences in my life

And because it was church camp season, I wrote 8 reasons you should send your kid to church camp: Part I and Part II. 


I started a new job, and softball season, and got pregnant [though no one knew yet], and took a lot of pictures for people. I barely wrote. 

And we had to say goodbye to Grandma Pat. 


Well, in September I just didn't blog at all. But I took A LOT of naps and coached A LOT of softball.


We finally made our big announcement, and I shared the piece I actually wrote on August 3rd, the day we buried Grandma Pat and the day I found out I was pregnant.

And I hung up my coaching hat and said goodbye to being a part of a team. 
We also took a super quick trip to Iowa and hit up my old college and did a pumpkin patch with the girls.


I took a ton of pictures and started writing letters to baby number 3.  

Brent ran 30k for his 30th birthday, which I just realized I never blogged about. Maybe I'll do that.  We also went to Nashville for a week, and I never blogged about it.


I shared how I am trying. I really am. Not so much on the "real pants" thing though.

And I realized how thankful I am to have a good, good Father who continually calls out the good in me. [this was another big lesson for me this year]

I wrote our "Christmas Letter", and even managed to get a list up of the books I read this year. 



A full year. A year of growth, as I hope every year is. Donald Miller once wrote:

…everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like the seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God's way. All my life I have been changing... Everybody has to change, or they expire…. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently. Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning.

And we did that, little by little, in 2015. And my prayer is that we'll do that even more in 2016; that we'll allow God to move us away from the people we were a moment ago and move us toward Him in bigger and better ways. 


Baby Bump 3: Week 25

Dear Baby,

It's a new year, and it's the year that you'll be joining our lives. People asked me what my new year's resolutions were and well, if I'm being honest getting you here is the highest on my priority list. Which will be happen in three short months. I'm starting to think more about your arrival, as both of your sisters' were fast and furious. I wonder if you'll be the same? There is a part of me that is always a little anxious we won't make it to the hospital, but I'm praying you'll give me enough warning. 

You are moving so much more these days. I can put my hand on my belly and feel you roll. It's incredible. I still haven't got Blythe to sit long enough or you to kick at the right time for her to be able to feel you, but I'm looking forward to that day. She has changed her favorite name for you from Ariel to Aurora…but Becks has a hard time saying that so she thought maybe Dora would be better. I told her one time what your real name is and she said, "That's interesting." She wasn't fully paying attention I don't think or I would have never told her because I know she would tell everyone! 

I think my second trimester appetite is starting to slow down and that third trimester tiredness is starting to creep in. If I sit down or, worse, lay horizontal while playing with the girls I don't want to move at all. It takes a lot of motivation for me to want to get back up. I know that all of that tired just means your still growing, and that's all I can ask for at this point. 

I'm starting to dream more and more about my days with you; getting to know you and hold you and love you face to face. I'm sure our days will be chaotic, but I also know that every so often there will be moments of quiet and moments I want to bottle up forever. I can't wait to see what you add to our family, and how you teach me to love in new ways. 

Love, Mom


2016 Book List

I have had a lot of recommendations, plus books that just seem to always remain on my list because I can't get my hands on them! So my list for 2016 is from here and there and there is a wide variety, which I'm really excited about.

Plus, just this past week I went to Grandma Pat's house to look through her books and I discovered a treasure: tucked in a drawer was "a book lover's journal". She only had 37 entries, but it's given me 37 more times I can enter back into this book-discussion space "with her." Plus some of her comments made me laugh: "Didn't like it." or "Good but predictable." I have already read the first book she had an entry for [The Education of Little Tree] and I remember talking about it with her and it was such a good little book. I love the second entry pictured here as well: Date began: August 31. Date Finished: and she simply put " ". My kind of lady, finishing a book in the same day. All that to say, I haven't even added some books from this book to my list yet, but I will most likely be reading some of these this year as well.

Here is my list, in no particular order. And I didn't include all the authors just to save some time. If you're curious, just ask.

The Antelope in the Living Room
Sparkly Green Earrings
Let's All Be Brave
The Nesting Place
My Sister's Keeper
Lonesome Dove
The Boy on the Wooden Box
The Lightening Keeper
Calling Me Home
The Boys in the Boat
The Nightingale
The Red Tent
The Emerald Mile
Inside the O'Briens
To Say Nothing of the Dog
When Crickets Cry
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
The Secret History
I Am Pilgrim
The Mountain Story
The Girl on the Train
Irresistible Revolution
A Spool of Blue Thread
I Just Want to Pee Alone
Everything Else
From Tablet to Table
Nobody's Cuter Than You
Tuesday Morning
Just Mercy
Don't Give Up
A Star for Mrs. Blake
The Reason I Jump
Destiny of the Republic
The Book of Unknown Americans
The Beautiful Daughters
Big Little LIes
Marcelo in the Real World
Ordinary Grace
Everything I Never Told You
We Never Asked for Wings
Deep Down Dark
Hands Free Mama
Being Mortal
What Alice Forgot
Ava's Man
Thieves of Manhattan
Station Eleven
Shotgun Love Songs
The Long Knife
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Black Eyed Susans
Her Final Breath
Hotel Moscow
Reluctant Midwife
The Same Sky
You Changed My Life
School for Good and Evil
The Vactioners
Fates and Furies
The Best Yes

That is 65. My goal is 52. I never read all the books on my list and I always read books that aren't on my list. But I'm excited about having a list this great and varied to begin with! Hope this helps you too if you're looking for something to read this year. 

Happy New Year! Happy reading!