Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A lifetime of mistakes

When I wrote the previous post, Two Pink Lines, I left out a side of the story that I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t want the other side to be dismissed.

Because I’ve been the one with the belittling words and disgusted looks. I’ve been the one with a distaste in my mouth and a feeling of superiority. I’ve been the one who has thought more about appearances than the heart and person in front of me.

You see, I’m so far from perfect, and in my lifetime I’ve left a wake of mistakes.

So often I’ve found myself the opposite of the prodigal father. Ready to point fingers and issue blame instead of just welcoming people in. Seems silly as I’m a Christian, but that’s where it’s not so silly after all. Because we all make mistakes. We all get it wrong sometimes.

There are words I wish I could take back, venom seeping without regret. There are looks and faces that I wish I could erase. I’ve been the receiver of so much dependent love that for a long time that was the only love I knew how to give. Love that only showed itself when the behavior or person in front of me met my approval.

Somehow I learned that the very thing that continues to break my heart, a love full of conditions, was the only way I knew how to show love myself.

What a mistake.

I wish so often that I could go back and take back the looks and the words and the hate and the conditions. That I could open my arms and see through the issue at hand. But what I’ve learned as I’ve healed and forgiven and made restitution is that I can’t take back the mistakes but I can change the way I react going forward.

And sometimes I still make mistakes.

And I will until I die. But I hope that today I’m more focused on the face in front of me, on loving unconditionally, on seeing a person on the other side fighting with everything that is within them to make sense of the mess they’ve found themselves in.

I wonder how abortion would change if we began seeing hurting women who need support and love and care and someone who needs someone to help them fight for life. If we started seeing them not for the mistakes they’ve made or the mess they’ve gotten into. But instead saw them as people just like you and me.  And gave them hope that their future would be better bringing forth life than trying to wipe away reality.

Because if I’ve learned anything from mistakes is that they never quite erase all the way. Somehow they leave a trail of dust…

Because meeting a mistake by making another isn’t the way to make things right.

All we can do is learn from them and do it better tomorrow.

Because if we’re honest we all have a lifetime of mistakes.

And we can always try to do it better.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two pink lines

I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw them. I was in a Target bathroom stall because infertility had made me slightly neurotic and every month I began testing a week in advance.

And tears welled up in my eyes as I saw them appear. And I knew one thing was certain.

There was a baby being formed inside of me.

I feel like this is something we can all relate to, those of us who have seen them appear, longed for them to appear, or wished to erase them. And I have to believe that as women two pink lines will always mean there is a baby. Whether your heart pulls toward thanksgiving or towards dispair, we all know when the test is positive only one thing is certain.

There's a baby.

A baby. And if you've had a baby then you know just how intricately each little part of them is knit together. In the week by week books you count down the baby's size, interested in what is going to happen today. Oh their heart started to beat (week 5), their cute little nose is forming (week 6), and now they are moving (week 8). Mind you, if you saw two pink lines once your period was late you would already be 6 weeks along.

And we desire to know all these details because there is a baby coming.

And when we wish each other congratulations we say congratulations on the baby or make reference to their new son or daughter. I have yet to hear anyone say "congratulations on your cluster of cells." It's always a baby.

Whether you were walking through years of infertility or planning the birth, whether is was a complete surprise under the direst of circumstances, or whether it was an ugly reminder of a disgusting act, it always registers deep down in a woman as a baby.

But that's just the beginning. Circumstances have to come into play. The other week I found our daughter unrolling the toilet paper from the roll. As soon as she saw me appear her hands full with wadded paper flew quickly up to her nose and began rubbing back and forth. We've never done this. On her own she learned to cover her wrong. Just like Eve with her leaves covering her newly revealed body.

What we have to hide or erase or embrace comes into play. When two lines appear one either finds great joy in the sight or their stomach sinks to the ground. That baby was either planned or unplanned. 

But either way it's still a baby.

I can only imagine what my first thought would have been if I had seen the lines appear in junior or senior high. Or post rape or one night stand. I can only imagine that my first thought would have been much like my daughters. To try and cover the evidence.

Try to erase the shame or the catalyst to my life taking a new path. Try to rid myself of the knowledge of what those two pink lines portray. 

My heart breaks for those situations where two pink lines indicating life bring tears of sadness and regret. When a woman faces her future and thinks that she just can't bear it. Where covering to escape shame and inconveinance means killing a baby.

And my heart breaks with the family that find out that little life they've come to embrace has something wrong. I don't have to imagine the emotions because when I was early in my pregnancy they told us there was a chance Elizabeth had Down's syndrome. And though I never once thought to rid her from our lives it was taste enough of the burden families feel when the news they hear would radically alter their lives.

Because there are no guarantees when two lines appear. 

And life always changes.

That's the fear isn't it. Because as soon as two lines appear you either believe truth, that a baby is growing within, or you start altering the facts. 

Believing the lies. The lie that what's within is just a bunch of cells. Believing the lie that your future life though altered would not be worthwhile. Believing the lie that no one needs to know and what is hidden is the way that is better for everyone.

But you see they are all lies. 

And my heart is aching for all the women who think standing up for a right to choose is something to rally behind. As a woman I don't want that right because I already have it. Everyone has the right to murder.

Somehow the child dying on the school floor as a result of a sick shooter is a tragedy while millions of babies being murdered in their own mothers' womb is just their right to choose. 

Somewhere we've went off course and stopped loving and caring for women in a difficult situation. Instead imposing upon them a stigma that the better alternative is to rid the baby of life. I'm not sure exactly what went awry. 

I can be quiet about a lot of things I believe but this is one area of huge injustice and wrongdoing that I cannot.

Every life deserves a chance.

On this anniversary of Roe vs. Wade stand with me in defending what two pink lines truly represent.

They represent life.

The life of a baby.

And every woman who finds herself filled with dread when two lines appear deserves to be embraced and supported and loved. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

we bred a fish

And her name is Elizabeth Mae.

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I think she could be part mermaid if they existed and if not a mermaid then a fish would work as well. I’m pretty certain I haven’t come across a baby yet who loves the water as much as Elizabeth or maybe that’s my (proud) mommy heart coming out.

But it’s true. With her first swimming lesson behind us it was obvious that it was her jam. With almost all the other kids in tears, Elizabeth added to the madness with happy shrieks and screams of joy. It was too much.


Alex is her number one swim partner so I just sit in the stands, take a bazillion pictures with my 50mm lens which is not right for swimming lessons, and watch with a giant smile pasted on my face. So the resulting photos as shown above our out of focus and blurry. Ugh.

For many of the 9 months I was pregnant I swam in the water. And I prayed for our daughter as I slowly made my way across the pool and I prayed she would come to enjoy the water. Her daddy and I are most certainly at home at the shore of a lake and water is like a second home to us. And after her first attempts at bath time went unsuccessfully, we didn’t quite know how this water thing would turn out.


But thankfully, she loves it. As seen most recently at her swim lesson where we could not let go of her arm or she would have jumped right in without anyone in the water to catch her. On our last trip to FL we tried out a puddle jumper life jacket now that she was too big for the inflatable raft and I would definitely recommend it. She has so much more freedom to move and swim and stay afloat on her tummy.

We’re looking forward with anticipation to our next lesson and the chaos of tears and shouts of joy intermixed. It’s quite the experience but the best part is seeing just what a fish we have.

To the water we go.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fighting winter colds: Chicken soup

It’s that time of year. Colds, sickness, sneezing…the whole bit seems to turn our worlds upside down with yucky crud. We’ve tasted our bit of winter flu over Christmas where our whole family battled through a 24 hour bug. But that’s a first for us. Thankfully we stay pretty healthy throughout the winters, maybe due to strong immune systems? I’m actually not very adamant or good about fighting germs…maybe that’s how our immune systems grew strong? Maybe this will come back to bite us, but for now we’re going with what works for us.

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But when the sick does come, we’ll be ready with this amazing chicken noodle soup. While we were in the middle of remodeling our kitchen I tried to embrace our crock pot more and in doing so this amazing soup was born. It’s traditional chicken noodle, but with inexpensive and good for you, organic ingredients, and the flavor is spot on. Because I use bone in chicken you get so much more flavor than using chicken without the bones. Plus there is added nutrition in the bones that you can take advantage of as well.

After years of trying to perfect my chicken noodle and being frustrated with the broth and attention to detail this recipe produces perfect results with little attention to detail. I’m so over bland boneless skinless chicken breasts and so this recipe uses my favorite new ingredient, organic free range chicken legs from Trader Joes. I can usually find a pound+ package for $3 or under which to me is the deal of the century. It’s true that using better ingredients will produce a better product and that’s what happens here.

Try this for combating your next cold…or just any day that chicken soup sounds delicious!


Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

1 - pkg of Trader Joe’s Organic chicken legs (or 1 lb. of other chicken)

1 - carton of Trader Joe’s Organic chicken broth or 4-5 C of chicken stock

1 - yellow onion diced

1 to 2C total – diced carrots and celery

1/4 teas. – thyme

salt and pepper

cooked pasta of choice (tiny stars or egg noodles are perfect)


1. Place chicken and diced onion in slow cooker. sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cover with broth. turn on low and cook for 2 – 2 1/2 hours

2. after 2 hours or so add in the diced carrots and celery and add the thyme. Cook for an additional hour.

3. After an hour or so remove the chicken…remove chicken from the bones, discarding bones and skin. place chicken back in crock pot.

4. at this point chicken soup is ready to eat. Add pasta to bowls and ladle soup over. (we like to store pasta separate from the soup so it doesn’t overcook but you can add the pasta straight to the soup at this point)…alternatively if you decide to add pasta to cook in the slow cooker you will need to add more broth.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

On Purpose

“You didn’t just end up here. God put you here on purpose. God wanted you here, and he had to have you here right now. Because he has a wonderful plan for you—something that only you can do…”

-excerpt from Thoughts to make your Heart Sing (pg. 103)

Lately I’ve been thinking much about my role. My role as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, a friend, a sister, and a passerby. Most days those roles unfold in a joyful, life giving way, and other days in a way laden with frustration and jealousy and discontentment.

The picture always looks better from a different point of view.

I gave a brief devotional at the baby shower of a dear friend about a month ago and I read this excerpt above but in full form. As a call for all of us women to find encouragement in the place we find ourselves right at this very moment. So often we can see only our errors and failings instead of seeing and really believing that we are right where we are meant to be.

I can’t help but have my heart swell a bit when I think that the Lord had no misjudgments when He put Elizabeth in my care. He knew I was slightly disorganized and a little quirky. He knew my faults and the history behind my heart. And He knew where I needed to grow and where I was doing exceedingly well. He knew the ways in which I would feel I as failing and how much my heart would ache for her to know Him.

Knowing that He ordained for me to be her mother and for Alex to be her father is an amazing thing. To know that what she needs isn't an organized mom or one who documents every moment of life. She doesn’t need what any other person I may strive to be could give her, she just needs me. And that’s the way it was created to be.

For me to be her momma.

And for her to be my girl.

This article today was such an encouragement to me…The Internet Makes Us All Miserable


“You are called to serve faithfully in whatever sphere God has placed you. On the final day, God will reward you based on how faithfully you used the talents he gave you. He won’t reward you based on how well everyone else did.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

setting it in my heart

The walls are a little barren now that Christmas has gone and the new year has started. We’ve wiped away the chalk words declaring His birth and removed our advent calendars from their nails.

Slowly new adornments have been making their way out. First the small aqua cards to match the paper on our kitchen walls. And then the verses on the board marking the way as we come and go. And now the prints, printed off for their place by the coffee pot for an afternoon pick me up.

Because what we need most is the only thing that can tame the enemy. We need the word of God. The only sword that really pierces, through bone and marrow and we need it immediately, for when the sly little snake creeps up when we least expect.

One of my resolves for the year is to add more to my storehouse, more words in my mind and in my heart, so that when the enemy comes, because he will, I will be ready with my sword for slaying. And I’m realizing more and more that the momma I want to be is the momma that is so deeply and strongly hanging onto Jesus that when Elizabeth looks at me she sees a sinner in need of a Savior and not a momma who’s got it all together.

I want her to see a momma who has issues and who is fighting them with all she’s got, in the word and on the offensive. I want her to see and know we don’t play being Christian. We don’t walk around with the chip so big it will drown us upon our shoulders but we walk humbly, holding tightly, fighting and slaying in the name of the Lord, because the road of the believer is never perfect. And I want her to see and know how important it is to have the word of God deep down in her heart. So when she’s scared and feeling alone, the words will bring peace and comfort.

And how can we model if we’re not doing it. And how can we impress the importance of the things of life if we are not actively teaching. And every day I’ll stumble and get things wrong but how much better is that lesson, the lesson of grace.

This year to learn the Word I’m utilizing some of my favorite resources.

1. The Fighter Verse App…They have songs that accompany the verses (I sang the fighter verse at our last small group and turned varying shades of red), quizzes, and more. For Apple & Android. We post the fighter verse of the week on our chalkboard wall near our entry.

2. The 50 Promises cards from Summer Harms…I ordered these cards before Christmas and they are perfect for placing around your house. I love the verses! These are placed around our house but the one I’m working on is behind our kitchen sink.

3. The Jesus Project: Scripture Memorization for the rest of us by Ann Voscamp. Excellent post on memorizing scripture and super cute prints for placing on your wall.

Grab hold of your sword and let’s fight through…

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Getting back on track


“The Mighty One, God, the LORD,

Speaks and summons the earth

from the rising of the sun to the

place where it sets.

From Zion, perfect in beauty,

God shines forth.”

psalm 50:1-2

The words met me this morning, just after I arose. Today I managed to unwind my limbs from the comfort of warm, soft sheets to enjoy the stillness of the morning. Coffee in hand I headed to our living room couch and opened the word. And God shone forth.

It’s the second of January and to me today feels like a Monday although it’s a Thursday. The tasks of the day actually were able to be checked off and it felt productive. I guess that’s how it goes; new year, new you. But I’m not going there. I’m resolving a thing or two but not because I’m under some vision-impaired notion that I can accomplish anything on my own. I need God, the LORD, who spoke and summoned the earth. He said “Come,” and into being the world came. So often I forget the most simple of truths…this powerhouse is for me.

Over the course of 2013 I found myself vacillating between contentment and yearning for more. I felt a bit stuck. Thing is, I’m full of fear. So much fear, cementing my feet to the ground, whisking away any sense of accomplishment, any sense that I actually could complete anything I put my mind to. And this year, along with other fellow bloggers, I’m ready to let go of some of the fear. I don’t want to live in this place, feeling like I cannot dream big and actually believe I *might* have the talent to finish the job. And believe me the dreams I’m dreaming are not so big. I’d like to make things and try new things and set my mind and heart to experience new things and somehow all these great things only happen in my mind or in conversation with my husband. I’m so afraid of failing that my feet just cannot move forward. Somewhere along the line I began believing the lie that every attempt was one of failure or caused disappointment.

And I don’t want to believe it anymore. I’m resolving to try. In all things, in all ways, try beyond what my brain says is possible and instead resolving to trust the one who set the moon in it’s place. Trusting that my best attempt cannot fail because He’s behind me.

My new year is starting out slow. Decorations put back in their place, my computer available or me to write. My Bible open, reading the stories to our girl over breakfast. If I get anything right in parenting I want her to know that when the Lord is her shepherd, she can do anything. And for her momma to even utter the words, I must also show her the way.

To a brand new year, to letting to of fear, to trusting the only one worth trusting.


My favorite posts/resources regarding the New Year and Resolutions:

A Grace Plan: A Doable Life-change Plan for a New Year, A new you by Ann Voscamp

A Little Theology of Resolutions by John Piper

Don’t waste your weaknesses in 2014 by John Piper

Power Sheets by Lara Casey (I’m using these as a regular mom/home manager)

Goals for the New Year by Jones Design Company