Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrating the Year

It’s that time again, the time where we all look ahead to the new year in front of us and assess where we want to be and what we hope to accomplish. But it’s also a time where we may criticize ourselves for all the things we aren’t, or feel bad about the goals we set for this year but didn’t accomplish.

Well, I don’t feel like doing that right now. You know what? No, the year wasn’t perfect, and no, I’m not perfect. But some great things happened and I know I’ve made progress in several areas of my life. So instead of jumping right into deciding how to improve my life next year, I’d like to take a look back at what’s gone well this year.

When 2012 began, I had only been a mom of three for less than a month. I was still adjusting to our new normal and trying to figure out how to best meet everyone’s needs while also staying reasonably sane myself. Looking back over the past twelve months, I think I succeeded, for the most part. And that is an accomplishment worth celebrating! There is something really awesome about realizing that our family came through a very challenging time, and we didn’t just survive– we thrived. We struggled, we stretched, we adjusted, we changed. We grew.

I spent several weeks hunkering down and trying to adjust to parenting three kids while my husband worked and went to school. And then I started facing some challenges that felt big and scary, but it was necessary to do something about them. For a long time I’d been worried about my three year old’s speech; his language development was fine but he was so hard to understand. I had tried not to stress out about it for a while, and I told myself that if I was still concerned once he turned three, I’d contact the school and have him evaluated. Well, he was three and I was still worried, so in February (on my birthday!) we went for the speech evaluation. It was quickly apparent that he would need speech, and although it took a few weeks to get everything set up, in April he began going to speech twice a week through the school.

Around the same time, I also decided I needed to seek further help for some issues we were encountering with my oldest. After doing some research on different ways to approach the issue, I made an appointment for him to be evaluated at a pediatric therapy center. The day of his intake appointment arrived and I had to take all three kids. The woman we met with did his intake, gave a preliminary diagnosis of Asperger’s (we would have to come back for further evaluations, of course), then asked me a question that momentarily stunned me: she wanted to know if I would like to schedule an intake appointment for my three year old as well. During our time there, she had noticed not just his speech problems but also that he was abnormally hyperactive and sensory seeking. And all this time I thought he was just a typical three year old– it turns out I was wrong!

So in the spring, both the older boys began evaluations. The oldest was diagnosed with Asperger’s in the summer and he began weekly communication therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. The three year old was diagnosed with apraxia and was found to have delays in fine motor and gross motor skills, plus he was very sensory-seeking. He also began weekly individual speech therapy (in addition to the group therapy he was getting twice a week at our school), physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

Last week, my oldest graduated from all his therapy! He has made amazing progress. So far he has not needed an IEP at school because his Asperger’s is mild and doesn’t seem to be affecting him very significantly in the classroom. Obviously we will seek out an IEP if he shows signs of needing one, but for now he is doing very well both academically and socially.

My middle child is still going to weekly therapy at the pediatric therapy center, and he is also still going to speech at the school. He will probably continue for quite a while, at least in speech, but he has also been making incredible progress. He is so much easier to understand now! He has also made major improvements in his fine and gross motor skills and he has calmed down considerably (although some days are still rough– but you know, he’s only four, and all four year olds have rough days sometimes). He’s also in preschool two mornings a week and loves it there.

I guess that is what I feel proudest of this year– that I faced the challenges my children were having, got them into therapy, and have seen amazing results. We are in such a different place than we were at the beginning of the year!

But I am also proud of accomplishments that I have made personally. After struggling for a long time with my desire to go back to school versus the pressure I was putting on myself to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, I finally made the decision over the summer to apply for a master’s program in school counseling. Obviously it added a lot to my plate, even though I’m only going part time. But you know what? It’s nowhere near as overwhelming as I feared. I actually am so much happier and more energized now that I’m back in school.

On December 4, 2011 I gave birth to my third baby; on December 4, 2012 I finished my first semester of graduate school (and with A’s in my classes, to boot). I never would have imagined at the beginning of the year that this is where I’d be at the end of it, but I’m so glad I made this decision.
Overall, I feel like I have faced a lot of challenges this year. There were times that I felt like I had been brought so low; it all felt too hard and I didn’t know how I was going to make it through to the other side. I was barely making it. But I feel like I can confidently say that I have made it through. Even though some times were really, really tough, I feel like I have come out a better person. I know I am more patient, more self-confident, and stronger.

And I look forward to even better things in 2013. I believe that even when there are challenges (and of course there will be, because there always are!) my family and I will face them head-on and come out better and stronger.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Different Kind of Love

Recently a friend pointed out that those of us who claim to be followers of Christ are called to a different kind of love. It’s more than simply having compassion toward those who are hurt, oppressed, or otherwise mistreated. We are also called to love those who oppress… to recognize that they are people made in the image of God and, as such, they have value.

As much as we talk about love, I wonder if we are still in the beginning stages of learning how to live it in the way God desires. We are pretty good at loving each other– those who are like us in most respects. We may be doing all right at loving those who are suffering spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially.

But how good are we at loving those we disagree with?

And how good are we at loving those who do things that are horrific and evil?

That is HARD to do. When I think of someone spreading messages that are damaging and not true to the gospel… or damaging a child physically or emotionally… or sexually exploiting a child… or walking into a school and killing six year olds… or abusing a spouse… or taking advantage of people who are vulnerable… my first reaction does not often resemble love in any way.

Yet there is something within me that whispers a quiet reminder that although the person has done a terrible thing… they are still a person created in God’s image, a person God loves just as much as he loves me… a person God can forgive just as he’s forgiven me.

It doesn’t lessen my heartbreak, it doesn’t take away from my compassion for the victim, it doesn’t decrease my feelings of horror over atrocities committed… it doesn’t stop me from speaking truth… but it does remind me that every one of us is human and every one of us is broken. And when I think about the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness that has been shown to me, grace I do not deserve and never could… it softens my heart toward the person who has harmed someone else.

Luke 6 says the following and I think it’s appropriate to this topic:
32 If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

How do we love our enemies? What does that look like?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Darkness and Light

There are so many hundreds of thousands of words that have been posted already about the tragedy in Connecticut. A part of me doesn’t want to add to the words. But the rest of me has no choice. Writing is how I work through my thoughts and feelings. It’s how I process things that have happened. It’s something I have to do.

I have no answers. I won’t pretend I do. Anyone who claims to have answers is lying to themselves. There is no explanation for the hows and whys of such horror. Or, perhaps, there are too many explanations. Perhaps it is all so convoluted and complicated that there is really no way to pin down a simple, black and white explanation.

No, I don’t have answers. But I sure do have questions, and a whole bunch of fears. I have been brought to my knees sobbing, I have held my three precious children closely and thanked God for them, I have had uncontrollable thoughts of how unfathomably horrific it would be to be in the shoes of one of those families.

It’s my worst fear, losing one of my children. It’s a fear that has kept me awake at night many times, a fear that springs to the forefront of my mind every single time I read of a tragedy involving a child– horrible accidents, fatal illnesses, physical and sexual abuse, murder.

I am reminded that even though I love my children more than anyone or anything in this world, and even though I would do everything in my power to keep them safe… there are so very many things that are NOT within my power… so many things I cannot control. The fact is, a tragedy could happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

I can never guarantee that my children will be safe from harm.

None of us can.

And that is terrifying.

This is true every single day, but I’d say most of us don’t think about it every day. And then we are reminded so suddenly, and it’s overwhelming. It’s an unbearable truth that we must grapple with.

This life is not permanent. This life is nowhere near as safe as we’d like to imagine it is. There is so much evil and hatred and pain and death in this world. So much darkness.

And yet, somehow, there is also so much goodness and love. So much light.

I am equal parts desperate and hopeful. A part of me wishes it all would end, because I look around at this world and I see so much misery and pain. Another part of me holds on to hope that maybe, somehow, the love and goodness may outweigh the evil and hatred.

All I know to do is to continue to plant seeds of love, hope, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, understanding, and compassion… even when it feels futile… even when I feel desperate and angry and fearful… even when my faith falters in the face of tragedy.

There is no other good and reasonable choice that I can see.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Something about my kids’ birthdays, and particularly their first birthdays, causes me to stop and reflect on their births and the past year. I suppose it’s because birth is such a momentous occasion, and the changes that occur in the first year of a baby’s life are incredible.

As I reflect, I realize how much the emotions of labor and birth have paralleled my life over the last year. Although he was my third baby and second totally natural home birth, his birth felt the most difficult to me. Labor was long and slow for many hours, then when it finally picked up the pace, it was like being hit by a train. Although those there with me have assured me that my struggles were internal, and that I appeared calm and strong throughout labor and birth, I clearly recall times where I felt so desperate, needy, and weak. The moment came, as it does in most labors, where I just wanted to give up; I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore and I didn’t want to do it anymore.

Emotionally, I felt weak and tired. But my body was strong, and it forged ahead and did exactly what needed to be done, pulling the rest of me along for the ride. A beautiful baby was born and he changed my world.

Could there be a more fitting description of the last year of my life?

There have been times where the days have dragged, and I felt frustrated, wishing life would just pick up the pace already. Then the pace did increase, and oh boy, a lot of things have happened!

I have given my all emotionally, physically, and spiritually: to labor and birth, to actively and positively parenting, to getting testing and resources for my children who needed a little extra help, to going back to school myself to work on my long-term career goals.

During the times I have felt the weakest– when I’ve been exhausted and overwhelmed, when I’ve just wanted to give up– an inner strength I didn’t even realize I had has emerged. And it is this strength that has kept me moving, dragging the rest of me along for the ride regardless of how I felt about it.
And now here we are. The baby is a year old today. I am turning in my final papers to finish my first semester of graduate school today. My oldest will be finished with therapy at the end of this month, and the middle one has made amazing progress in speech.

The first birthday signifies just how much change can take place in the span of a year. This is an especially poignant reminder for me this year, because my baby is not the only one who has changed and grown exponentially. A year ago, I could never have imagined that this is where we would all be.
And you know what amazes me the most? I no longer feel weak. I know I am strong. I know I can do so much more than I even think I am capable of. I know I will not be defeated by circumstances that feel overwhelming.

A stronger me has been born, and my world has been changed.

Monday, December 3, 2012


For the first time ever, my family is celebrating Advent. Well, kind of. Part of the point of Advent is to slow down and reflect, and while we are doing that, we are also staying pretty busy throughout the Christmas season. But through it all, we’re putting an intentional focus on family togetherness, the significance of Jesus’ birth, and showing love to others.

After an unsuccessful last-minute search for an Advent calendar that was exactly what I wanted, I decided to make my own. It turned out really well, and I love seeing it hanging on the wall beside our kitchen table. It’s so festive and fun!

It was really simple to make. I used card stock, scrapbooking paper, card sleeves I “borrowed” from my husband, number stickers, and ribbon. The picture below shows mini clothespins, which I originally intended to use but I changed my plan as I was making it.

Here is is hanging on our kitchen wall. I’ll be honest, I’m not an exceptionally crafty person. This thing is held together with scotch tape and staples. Seriously.

Isn’t it fun? We’re putting little slips of paper in each pocket with an activity for the day. On day one, we went to our city’s Christmas parade, and on day two we put up our Christmas tree. Later in the month, we’ll take the kids out to buy gifts for family and friends, go out to see Christmas lights, make treats and crafts, have family movie nights, do some random acts of kindness, and go to a few parties and dinners. We’re also reading a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible each day.

I’m excited! It’s going to be a great month.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Click Like if You Like Me

Conversations with several friends and in my classes over the past few months have me rethinking Facebook and other forms of social media.

I think we all know intellectually that social media is changing communication norms, but even so, it’s not the same as face-to-face communication and real relationship. We all know that if we don’t use social media very carefully, it can play an inappropriate role in our lives. We all know it can make relationships appear deeper when they actually are shallow.

But do we really know? Or do we know just enough to acknowledge it verbally before jumping back into the fray?

I am preparing to become a school counselor, and in my classes we’ve talked about the effects of social media on teens. Their tendency to determine their self-worth based on their perception of their friends’ opinions plays out on Facebook as well: If you like or comment on my posts, you care about me. If you don’t like or comment on my posts, you don’t care about me.

But come on. Let’s be honest. That’s not just something teenagers do. I’ve seen plenty of it in adults, myself included. Do we really think that we can measure people’s love for us by their likes and comments on Facebook? Intellectually, no, most people don’t believe that. Realistically, um, yeah– we believe it!

We post and then watch for the notifications to come in. As the likes and comments start piling up, we feel better about ourselves. They like me, they really like me! And if we don’t get as much Facebook recognition as we’d like, we start to feel small, insignificant. Doesn’t anyone care? What did I do wrong? Am I not interesting enough, clever enough, insightful enough? Am I so unimportant that people couldn’t even take the time to click like?

Don’t they know that it’s more than just clicking the mouse? It’s affirmation of my worth!

We carefully concoct posts that are humorous or insightful, then sit back and watch the affirmation come in. We construct false lives in hopes that people will like us more. We post our struggles and hope someone will affirm that we are loved. We add people to our friend list and feel as though we are actually adding real relationships to our lives.

It’s a farce. A ridiculous farce. And it’s dangerous to the concept of real relationship. Instead of reaching out to people face-to-face, we post to large numbers of people on Facebook. We look for encouragement and support in the form of likes and comments. We trade in our authentic, messy selves and authentic, messy relationships for our online image and shallow affirmation.

Obviously social media can be used in a way that enhances real relationships, if approached very intentionally. But how many of us actually use it that way?

Everyone reading this post is probably thinking it’s about them. Well, duh. Of course it is. It’s about all of us. And I am tired of polishing up my image and making myself look a certain way just to get false affirmation online. I am tired of measuring my self-worth based on how many likes and comments I get.

Now more than ever, I just want to get together with my friends face-to-face, one-on-one or in small groups, and share in authentic relationships.

If you’re with me, don’t just post a comment or click “like.” Step away from the computer, put down the smart phone, and make an effort to reach out to people one-on-one in your life. It’s worth it.

Monday, October 15, 2012


It’s been ten months since the baby was born, and it still blows my mind every time I reflect on the fact that I have three children. Three! I know to some people that doesn’t seem like much, and to others it sounds like too many– but for me, it’s so perfect. It doesn’t seem like too many years ago that we had one child, with no plans to have more. Our oldest son was six years old when our second was born. While I was still pregnant with our second, I had an undeniably strong gut feeling that there would be a third. But by the time our second son was two, I’d convinced myself that my “gut feeling” had just been a pregnancy-hormone-induced hallucination… until that unmistakably positive test on April Fool’s Day of last year.

Now the baby will be a year old before I can even blink, and the middle is nearly four, and the oldest is ten. We are speeding through time so fast, the baby walks, the preschooler makes his own bowls of cereal and tells me I’m his “hewo,” the oldest is officially a tween and is inches away from surpassing me in height.

It isn’t always easy, of course. The first weeks (months, even) of having three kids were a blur of exhausted emotions. Life had been shaken up, and we had to settle into a new normal. (With five people, that takes some time!) And all along the way, we are facing the challenges typical of each age and stage, along with other challenges that are unique to our circumstances. Some days I fail epically at being the kind of mother I strive to be: patience wears thin, unkind words spill out, and my hands come up empty even as I grasp for gentleness. Those days have been a profound reminder of the unending, unmerited forgiveness, grace, and patience God has for me.

But through it all, I look at these boys with awe– their unique strengths and personalities, each of them artful representations of their Creator. They are compassionate, generous, joyful, thoughtful, intelligent, curious, persistent. I am so blessed to have these amazing people in my life, teaching me as I teach them, stretching me in ways I never thought possible, moving me toward a deeper understanding of God’s love.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Words to Live By

God is love.

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love does not envy or boast.

Love is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way.

Love is not irritable or resentful.

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
These are the words that have been rattling around in my head lately, reminding me just how much it matters to choose love, patience, kindness, and gentleness in my own life… even when the alternatives might feel easier or, selfishly, more satisfying in the moment.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Over the years, I’ve collected a huge amount of knowledge about several topics that are near and dear to me personally: pregnancy and birth, breastfeeding, attachment theory, positive parenting, special needs, sensory play, education, psychology, self-discovery… the list could go on and on, honestly, because I have tons of interests and experiences! ;)

But until recently, I didn’t realize just how important these things really are. I think for a long time I have unconsciously devalued my own knowledge and experiences. I’ve viewed them as being largely inconsequential; perhaps they are helpful for me, but they’re probably not all that interesting to anyone else, or useful beyond their everyday application in my life.

But whoa, was I ever wrong. I am only in my first semester of graduate school, studying to become a school counselor– but I draw on my experiences and the knowledge gained from them every single day. The counseling techniques and theories that inform them make so much sense to me because I have been reading about and practicing so many of these things for years now with my own children. (As a sidenote, it is incredibly encouraging and validating to see that I have been on the right track with my personal research on these things!) My years of experience with special needs, evaluations (both in the school system and privately), therapies, IEPs, and the school system itself is invaluable. So many of the things I already know and have experienced are proving to be helpful to me as I prepare for my career. And even in my personal life, I have seen that my knowledge and experiences are useful outside of my own immediate circumstances, as people have come to me to talk about some of these things.

But this post isn’t just about me; it’s about you, too. The things you’ve experienced, the things you’ve learned about, the things that you’re interested in and passionate about– those things matter! Let’s be honest, there are always going to be people who invalidate your knowledge and experience– but don’t do it to yourself. Recognize and appreciate these things, and put them to good use!

So, tell me– what have you learned or experienced that is helping you and others? :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Importance of Being Heard

In my classes, I have been reading about several different approaches to counseling. And while each method differs in some ways, they each have had some very important things in common. The more I think about this, the more I believe that these common components are helpful not just in counseling, but in everyday life. One commonality I’ve noticed is the importance of actively listening and empathizing when a person is sharing their thoughts and feelings.

You’ve probably had this experience: Something has happened in your life, and you have feelings about it. Maybe you feel angry, sad, worried, scared, depressed, rejected, or lonely. You talk to the significant people in your life about it, but you walk away from the conversation feeling frustrated, unheard, and still feeling the same as you did before. And you can’t figure out why. You know the person you talked to cares about you, but they seem to be trying to jump straight into determining the cause of the problem or offering solutions to the problem. And yes, you want to find solutions, but you also desperately want someone to be with you through your pain, to walk with you and understand why you are hurting.

Here’s the thing: a person is unlikely to make any forward progress or feel better emotionally until they know they have been heard and understood. As friends or family, if we don’t take the time to listen to their pain, and to communicate that we truly do understand what they’re feeling and why they’re feeling it… then we probably will not be able to help them in a significant way.

But that’s not easy! Meeting someone where they are, in their pain, and walking alongside them as they move through it is hard. But it is loving, and it will speak to their heart in a way that platitudes, advice, and quickly-devised solutions will not. So I encourage us all to make the effort to really hear and understand the people in our lives. It’s such an integral step toward health.

Monday, September 10, 2012


For the past year or so, I have spent a lot of time thinking about truth.

It began last fall as I inwardly puzzled over the scriptures about Jesus and the fig tree. The story seems bizarre at first, with Jesus cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit when it wasn’t even the season for figs. I mean, I can understand irrationally cursing something for not doing what I want it to do (see: every experience I have ever had with a printer), but this is Jesus. I kinda think he didn’t impatiently curse stuff for not doing what he wanted. Just a guess on my part.

So I wondered, what’s the deal? The story confused me. I knew there had to be more to it than met the eye, so I dug deeper. And I found that although it was technically not the right season for figs, the tree was in leaf– which meant figs should have been on the tree. Upon first glance, it appeared as though the tree was bearing fruit, but a closer inspection revealed that it was not.

The tree gave the appearance that it was something it really wasn’t. And upon cursing it, Jesus guaranteed that the tree would never fool anyone with its false appearance again. From then on, it would be seen for what it was.

And that is what Jesus did; he saw people for who they were, and he exposed the truth. To those who appeared outwardly righteous when they really were not, he exposed their inner unrighteousness. To those who appeared outwardly sinful and broken, he scrubbed away the layers of sin and revealed the truth that had been hidden beneath: God’s image in them and his unfailing mercy and compassion for them.

So for the past year, this theme of living in the truth has been on my mind. I want to do away with false pretenses in my life, revealing myself for who I really am. And I want to encourage others to do the same. Let’s stop hiding our broken relationships, addictions, and sins under a facade of righteousness. And in the church, let’s commit to being a mirror that reflects the truth back to the people around us– not the truth of their sins and struggles, but the truth that they are deeply loved by God and made in his image.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Planning For the Future Is Another Form of Laziness

While decluttering my house, I found several old notebooks I used for journaling and listmaking through the years. As I flipped through the pages, a sinking feeling came over me. I still have so many of the same struggles, worries, and frustrations. In some cases, I even have similar lists of changes I need to make and goals I want to accomplish. In some areas of my life, I can see clear growth and progress, and that’s encouraging. But in so many areas, it seems as though I am constantly spinning my wheels.

It is clear from looking at these old notebooks that I know the things I need to do, but in many cases I haven’t demonstrated the ability and/or self-discipline to follow through.

The “shoulds” get me every time. I can be so distracted by making lists of what I should do and coming up with plans for personal improvement that I forget to focus on what I can do in that moment. I am more likely to look at the situation and think, “I should come up with better screen time rules for the kids; they are in front of screens too much and I am too, so I should implement xyz” instead of, “Hmm, we’ve all been in front of screens too much today. Time to turn ‘em off and play a board game!” See the difference?

I’ve noticed that when I quit focusing on the “shoulds,” and stop getting hung up on my perceived failures… when I look at the present moment instead of projecting so much into the future… I am better able to do what I know needs to be done. I have wasted so much time and energy making plans and procedures for future improvement, rather than focusing simply on what can be done in that particular moment.

But it’s easier for me to make lists about future change than it is to make a different choice in the moment. Planning for the future can be deceptively lazy; it looks and feels like I’m doing something worthwhile and productive when I am actually putting off making the changes under the guise of “planning.”

Looking back at my last few years of lists and journals, it’s clear that detailing my shortcomings and making lists of goals and plans hasn’t worked for me. I don’t need more systems and plans; I need to be present and active in the moment.

So, I’m gonna try that. ;)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Phase of Life

August has been a month of change for our family. Each week, we’ve had someone starting school: the oldest began fourth grade, the middle started attending preschool a couple mornings a week, I started graduate school part-time, and this week my husband’s classes are beginning. Our lives are busy, but exciting.

I’m learning that without the right combination of things to keep me busy, I’m a wreck. I’m so grateful that I have been able to be home with my children while they’re young, but at the same time, my brain craves outside stimulation, something else to do and think about. I need that variety in my life; it’s refreshing and honestly it enables me to be more focused and engaged when I’m with my children. For the past seven years I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom, and I have often made myself feel guilty for wanting or needing a breather. I told myself that if I were a good mom, I wouldn’t need or even want time away from them. Please note that I held no one else to this standard, only myself!

The past year has been a whirlwind. I was solo parenting for 12+ hours a day some days while my husband was both working and going to school full time; we had our third child; we found out one of the kids has Asperger’s and another has apraxia; I’ve been taking the kids to several weekly therapy appointments. And the chaos, stress, and personal growth of the past year finally brought me to the point where I realized it was time to do something for me. It’s time to be honest and admit that yes, I want and need to do something in addition to mothering, and that is okay!

I am already seeing that I actually accomplish more when I’m busier, partially because I simply have more things that need to be done, and partially because I am forced to manage my time better.

I am so excited about the growth and future possibilities for our family. My husband and I are both preparing for careers we will love, I am taking steps to get back in shape (more on that later!), we are preparing to put our house on the market, and the kids are making huge improvements thanks to speech, occupational, and physical therapies. After a few years of feeling stuck in several aspects of life, things are looking up.

I am hopeful. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Over the years, I have believed a huge lie about myself. Perhaps you have believed it about yourself too.

This is the deception that far too many of us are familiar with: Who you are isn’t good enough. Your talents, interests, and dreams are too small and unimportant. If you had different talents, then you’d be valuable and admirable.

Because of this deception, I have tried to play roles based on traits and abilities I admire in others. I have convinced myself that who I am isn’t good enough and I need to be something different. Maybe if I were an artist or a homeschooler or an excellent cook, or whatever… maybe then I would be valuable and admirable.

It ain’t a pretty sight. Even if I do manage to play the role for a while, it is clearly not a good fit. It doesn’t come naturally. I am not like water, effortlessly taking the shape of whatever container I am put in.

I don’t want to keep playing roles that do not mesh with who I am. I do not want to imitate someone else’s life; it is ill-fitting and uncomfortable. It is time to find and cultivate my own path.
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bold is Beautiful

My talents, interests, and experiences are an important part of who I am. I love listening to people and letting them know they are valued. I enjoy building one-on-one relationships. I have a strong sense of empathy and compassion. I have always liked writing and reading. I am great at planning and organization. I love talking about practical applications of faith in everyday life. I was a teen parent and married young. I am fascinated by pregnancy and birth; I have birthed three children, two of which were unmedicated homebirths, and I have had a lot of experience with breastfeeding. I am educated in child development and positive discipline. I have experience dealing with special needs such as developmental delays, Asperger’s, sensory issues (both sensory-avoidance and sensory-seeking), and apraxia.

When I am in environments where my strengths and experiences are useful and appreciated, I feel fulfilled. Alive. Buzzing with energy and excitement. I feel wholly like myself.

And yet I make the mistake of downplaying or ignoring my strengths and passions. Sometimes I try too hard to be what I think other people want me to be, at the expense of who I truly am. Because I want to matter to other people and be liked, I end up trying to figure out what they want from me so I can hopefully deliver that, rather than giving them who and what I really am. What if who I really am isn’t what they want? I fear being seen as uninteresting, irrelevant, or offensive by people I care about. And I end up being uncomfortable, reserved, and guarded, presenting half-truths of who I really am.

I have tried for too long to paint over my bold colors with muted shades. Something must change here. I want to boldly live in my passions and strengths, rather than trying to be a people-pleaser.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Maryanne Williamson

Sunday, August 12, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week

I meant to post this during World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7 each year) but life was chaotic as always and I forgot to come back and finish the post. So here it is, a few days later than I intended, but that’s okay!

I was 18 years old when I first attempted breastfeeding. My oldest son had a hard time latching, I was in terrible pain, and I switched to formula after a few tearful, exhausting weeks.

Ten years later, I am typing this post while nursing my third baby. He is eight months old and still going strong. My second child weaned at 27 months old.

What changed? Was it easier to establish nursing with my second and third children? No, not really. With my second child, I had a particularly hard time with latching at first. It took several weeks for nursing to be as easy and comfortable as I had expected. It took less time with my third, I suppose because I was much more experienced at breastfeeding by then, but it still wasn’t easy right away.
I think people often assume that because breastfeeding is nature’s design, it will come very naturally. But for me and many others that hasn’t been the case. It really does take practice and patience. Sometimes it takes time to figure out a good latch and to find the most comfortable breastfeeding positions for you and your baby. Some women have trouble producing enough milk; some have issues with oversupply. And sometimes it can be frustrating!

But the benefits of breastfeeding are so worth it. Not continuing to breastfeed my oldest is one of my biggest regrets. Looking back, I truly believe we could have continued successfully if I’d had more education, support, and encouragement from professionals, friends, and family. I did have some, but it wasn’t enough.

And that is why I am posting this: to inform people of the benefits of breastfeeding and to encourage new moms to seek support. It is why I breastfeed publicly when my child is hungry, to demonstrate that it is natural, normal, and beneficial. It is why I offer friends encouragement and support when they have babies. Many new moms have called or messaged me over the past few years asking for advice or just needing someone to commiserate with them, to affirm that yes, it can be hard at first; yes, you can do it; and yes, it is totally and completely worth it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, then continued breastfeeding with complementary foods up to age 2 or beyond. Breastfeeding offers so many benefits. The baby receives antibodies through breastmilk, has a reduced chance of developing ear infections and diabetes, and the baby’s brain development is boosted. Breastfeeding moms benefit too, with a lower risk of breast cancer and the lovely calorie-burning perks of breastfeeding (yours truly has lost all her pregnancy weight along with another 15 pounds, thanks to breastfeeding). And that’s not all; the benefits of breastfeeding could fill a book– and many such books have been written! I recommend The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding or The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers.

Also, I saw this sign at my local breastfeeding support group and wanted to share.


Friday, July 27, 2012


I am broken and fervently trying to patch up the cracks with good deeds so no one sees the chasms within.

This messy heart is juxtaposed with a redeemed soul, a beautiful tragedy.

I make futile efforts to scrub up my own mess but the dirt piles up continually.

But the light in the cracks and buried under the dirt and deeds refuses to be extinguished. It shines steadily, and my soul testifies to redemption when my weary flesh cannot.

I don’t need to strive to shine, because he is shining for me.
I don’t need to strive to clean the mess, because he has cleansed me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pinterest and Faith

I’m embarrassed to admit that I easily get distracted by Pinterest. If I’m not careful, I can spend way too much time pinning crafty ideas, creative party themes, and organization tips. Look at all those beautiful pictures and fantastic ideas! Look at all the things I could do, all the things I want to be.

But after a few days of Pinterest, I get depressed. The truth is, I know I’m gonna end up wasting a lot of time finding examples of things I want to do, but very little time actually following through with any of them. Occasionally I will stop and look through all the pictures, lovely snapshots I’ve collected to represent the person I want to be, the life I want to have. And then I will go back to my everyday life and put very few of these ideas into practice.

I wonder if sometimes many of us do the same thing with our faith. We go to church and discuss the Bible with other people– lovely scriptures that paint a beautiful picture of who we could be as God’s redeemed– but do we put those things into practice? Or are we simply collecting snapshots and ideas of what we want to be, without putting nearly the same amount of energy into living them? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Words that look very nice stenciled on a wall, words that sound lovely when discussed in small groups of believers, words that will change us and the people around us if lived in our daily lives.

I want to stop musing over all I could be, and start being. I want to spend less time dreaming, and more time doing… less time discussing and more time living. 1 John says, “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” It is so much easier to talk about faith and to discuss how it should impact our lives than it is to actually live it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You...

Have you ever looked at your life and realized that it is not what you had hoped it would be? Maybe it’s your relationships, your finances, your career, your circumstances, or something else, but you look at where you are compared to where you hoped you would be by now, and you feel a sinking feeling deep inside.

This isn’t what I expected.

This isn’t what I wanted.

I suspect we have all been there in some form. There is a feeling of despair and hopelessness that can come with the realization that you are only getting older, and your life isn’t what you hoped it would be.

I’ve been there myself. The past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with our third child, several major things broke down and needed expensive repairs, we’ve struggled a lot financially, one of the most supportive people in my life (my mom) moved 8 hours away, I did a lot of solo parenting because my husband went back to school on top of working full-time, we had a new baby, our oldest two children are currently going through some (expensive) evaluations and therapies, and I’m looking for a job.

Whoa. That is a LOT, and none of it is where I expected to be at this point in my life. At times, it has felt so hard that I desperately wanted to give up, crumble under the weight of it all, and sink into despair. I lived in that place for months, feeling as though I was barely dragging myself from one day to the next, wishing that things could somehow be different.

But recently, as I sat on the couch nursing the baby and thinking about life, something changed inside me. I realized that through all the stress and the challenges that have been thrown my way, I am emerging as a stronger, more capable person. Yes, I still sometimes fall apart and sink into despair, but I don’t have to stay there. I can mourn the loss of my expectations, take some time to recharge from all the stress, and then get back up and keep going. I look back at who I was just one year ago and I can see clearly that I have changed, and I am still changing.

I’m becoming more patient, more understanding, more independent, more assertive. I am stronger than I once was. Things that would have stressed me out terribly a year ago aren’t such a big deal anymore. And I suspect that the things that stress me out so much now may not feel so difficult another year from now.

I am not helpless, no matter how hard it gets. I can choose to sink into despair in the face of new challenges… or I can rise to the challenge, fight back, overcome, and in the process be changed for the better.

The choice to sink or rise is mine.

And I choose to rise.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Let's Get It Started

For several years, I have thought of myself as the type of person who has a hard time finishing things. I told myself that I go into projects excited, then when the newness wears off, so does the excitement, and then I have trouble finishing what I’ve started. But the older I get, and the more honest I am with myself, the more I realize that my biggest problem has nothing to do with finishing; actually, when I get started on something, I am pretty much bound and determined to see it through to completion.

No, my problem is with getting started in the first place. You see, I feel an enormous amount of excitement over new ideas and plans. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps I have mistaken this initial emotional high/excitement for “getting started.” I have a propensity to go over an idea in my head, dream big dreams, then get bored and want to move on to something else. Problem is, I haven’t actually started anything!

And actually, I think saying that I “get bored and want to move on” isn’t entirely honest. No, I’m not usually bored; I’m discouraged. I get all excited about an idea, start projecting way into the future, come up with grand plans– and then reality slaps me in the face. These ideas and plans will take money I don’t have, time I don’t have, abilities I don’t have, resources I don’t have. The excitement fades, the plan is shelved, I get discouraged, and I move on to something else.

This is part of the reason I struggle with getting started. The obstacles seem totally insurmountable. Even if I try to break a plan down into small, manageable steps, it usually doesn’t take too many steps until the huge obstacles pop right back up. I cannot magically produce money or time or resources. Combine that discouragement with my perfectionism and my all-or-nothing tendencies… and yeah, it’s really no surprise that my biggest struggle is with getting started on a plan. I get stuck at the point where I have to make the leap from dreaming to doing.

I’m not sure what the solution is here. I just know that I don’t want to keep dreaming and never doing. I am sick of just thinking and talking, but (for one reason or another) not acting.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Death and Life

I’ve been thinking about death recently. I’m only 28, so I more than likely have many years left to live. But what if I don’t? Young people die every day. Cancer, car accidents– these are not uncommon occurrences. I have cried many, many times lying in bed at night thinking the unthinkable; what if one day my young children are left motherless? Will they be okay? Will they be able to move forward? Will they remember me? And how will they remember me?

And then the thoughts of death turn to thoughts about life. Do I make the most of it? I don’t mean in the “every moment is an adventure” kind of way; obviously there are many mundane, common moments in everyday life. But overall, as a general pattern, am I living in the moment? Am I truly present with my children? Many times I am only partially present; I am physically there, but my mind is a million miles away, thinking about hopes and dreams, planning for the future. And of course there is nothing bad about hoping, dreaming, and planning; that’s not where I’m headed with this.

But I do think I could be more present in the moment more often than I am. I get preoccupied with whatever’s going on in my head at the time, and I have a propensity to drift into discontentment when comparing reality with my ideals,  and then it can be hard to pull myself back into the beauty of the present… listening to my 9 year old talk animatedly about his current interests, enjoying my 3 year old’s exuberance toward life, appreciating the wonder of a nursing baby.

Balance always seems to be the answer. I need balance in my life; I must find a way to dream and plan while also making the most of the everyday moments with my children. I want them to look back at their childhood and remember a mom who listened to them, who was patient and kind, who appreciated them for who they were and knew them well, who took time to read to them and take them places they’d enjoy, who loved them without condition or reserve. I don’t want them to ever wonder if they were important, appreciated, or loved– I want them to know they were. I want them to know they are.

That is the life I want to live. For the next fifty years, or for the next five– that is who I want to be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Existential Crisis

Lately I suppose I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis.

It’s really hit me that this is the only chance at this life that I will ever get, and the only one my children will get too. And what am I doing with it? Am I letting it pass me by? Am I doing anything meaningful? Am I giving my children what they need? Am I simply moving on from day to day without appreciating it or doing anything significant? What have I really accomplished?

Perhaps I am too young to be having such a crisis, but nevertheless, here it is. Maybe it is driven by the fact that I am officially creeping up on a “milestone” age (30). Maybe it’s the fact that, whoa, I am responsible for three children’s lives and not just my own. That still hits me like a ton of bricks occasionally, and the baby is almost five months old. Three children. That feels like a HUGE responsibility to me. Or maybe this all has something to do with the fact that the not-quite-five-month-old baby is nearly crawling. His babyhood is flying by at a dizzying speed– all of their childhoods are, really– and I wonder if I am giving them what they need, all the care and attention and love and opportunities these children deserve.

Or maybe it’s coming from having to decide whether or not to pursue graduate school anytime soon. I am in my last months that I could apply without having to re-take the GRE. So many other people and circumstances need my time and attention right now, and I am unsure whether or not to throw graduate school into the mix. But oh, how I want to go.

Or maybe it’s coming from the realization that we have reached the point where the financial demands on our family are so great that it would be wise for me to bring in an income. While the rhythm and structure of working in an office certainly appeal to me (and excite me), the prospect also terrifies me a bit. It would be a huge change from the life to which my children and I are accustomed. And change is scary, even change that could be good for my family.

At any rate, whatever is causing the existential crisis, it is here. And I face it every day. I ask myself these questions every day. What am I doing with this one and only life I have been given? What am I doing for my children in the one and only life they’ve been given?

Is it enough?

No pressure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updates on My Life

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I’ve recently realized that I’ve said to at least six different people, “We should get together sometime soon!” And I mean it. I truly do. And then life continues on with all the busyness, and before I know it, weeks have passed and I’ve never made plans with anyone. I haven’t forgotten them, and I do want to spend time with them– but right now my life is like a juggling act, with so many balls in the air, and I can’t afford to drop any of them.

I just looked back at my calendar for the past few months. Between doctor’s visits, the chiropractor, a couple trips to the mechanic, and other random appointments and commitments, I’m averaging 2-3 appointments a week. This is on top of all that it takes to parent three children, while trying to keep my house at a manageable level of chaos, and my husband is gone 12 hours a day plus sometimes on the weekend. Oh, and the baby had RSV… and the whole family caught a stomach bug… and there are some other issues/concerns that I won’t detail here but that are consuming a LOT of time and energy. I am drained.

So to the people I’ve been meaning to get together with… I am truly sorry.  :(   I can barely catch a minute to think these days. I’m hoping things slow down a bit soon.

To wrap this up, here’s a message from my 3 year old, who has been sitting on my lap as I edit this post and he desperately wants to participate: