how we rebuild our ordinary marriage

real love

I remember the first time I saw you.  I remember the time after that and the time after that too.

I remember the walk up the Colorado mountain when you asked me to marry you.

And I remember watching you walk up to me, slowly emerging from the group of soldiers that still carried the Middle Eastern dust on their boots, an ocean and gunfire no longer separating us.

I remember watching you walk through our house holding each of our new babies, bouncing and shushing this tiny new life, so small in your arms.

And I remember walking the trail with you, our safe space, dreaming and planning and venting when those dreams and plans seemed so far off.

And these moments form the framework of our life together, this world that we have built between the two of us.  But it’s actually not the share-worthy moments that hold up this world of ours.  It’s not the events that seem so big, so noteworthy that we stand on.

It is the days that add up between those moments, thousands of them by now, that gather around holding us up that form the building blocks of our world.  An entire decade lived side by side, a million simple moments shared.

This love of ours, this everyday ordinary, embracing the adventure, growing older together kind of love of ours, is built in the everyday small.

Catching each other’s eye across the room.  Squeezing your elbow as we pass in the kitchen.  Grabbing a spoon and eating out of the ice cream carton.  Loads of laundry and belly laughs and sitting on the couch and Saturdays and cookies in the back yard.

Yeah, those are our building blocks.  This life we’ve built, this day after day after day of a life together, we’ve built through the ordinary and the small and the details that combine.

But what about when those blocks crumble?  What about when some of the walls begin to crack?

Because when we stood there on that twilight lit evening in June we said In sickness and in health, For better and for worse, For richer and for poorer.

Because then there are the conversations that become a little tense.  Or the curveball that wasn’t in the life plan.  Or that terrible thing I said when I lashed out at you.

Or the simple fact that we change over the course of our years together.

Can our foundation flex enough to withstand it all?  The two people changing, the sickness and health, the better and worse?  Are our building blocks strong enough to crack but not collapse?

I begin to notice what he’s not doing.  I get bitter with how he spends his time- thinking that he needs to give more of himself to us.

I get caught up in the stress of the day.  The exhaustion of the kids.  The anxiety over the job and money and our living situation.  I listen to worry.

We stop spending time together.  School and work and kids and stress speak more loudly and demand more attention.

We live together, sure.  We spoke when we had to, sure, but hadn’t really talked in a month.  Fatigue from the baby and the strain from work broke us a little bit; total exhaustion and survival built a wedge between us.

So many cracked blocks.

How do we rebuild what’s been broken?

And it’s right in front of me.  Rebuild the exact same way we started.  We rebuild us by living in the everyday ordinary all over again.  We reclaim control over the blueprints of our world, of our marriage, when we remember that we began building in the first place using the simplest of bricks.

And so I make a point to notice what he does.  I tell myself that he just cleaned the dishes.  And make note that he’s playing with the girls.  And that he came home early.  I make a point to notice.  And I remember what he does.  And it changes me.

He invites me into celebration.  We inject a little bit of fun into our days again and don’t take life so seriously.  A sunset picnic in the backyard.  Indulging in chocolate chip cookies for dessert after lunch.  Retelling our favorite moments of the day.

We start talking again.  First with small, simple words.  Then we loosened up a little, embraced a little more silly.  We shared how we were actually doing.  We turned up the music real loud and poured a glass of wine and danced in the kitchen.  We remembered what it was like to laugh together and the more we laughed, the more we talked.

We started building shared memories together again.  We went on hikes and made daily iced coffees and cooked dinner together.  We discovered our favorite local joints and made a summer bucket list.

See, there’s this funny thing about marriage.  In it, because of it, through it, the very most ordinary moment matters.  The simple forms the glue that holds you two together.  Add enough simple, everyday moments together they form a day and then a month and then the years upon years that you live together.

And the simplicity of days forms a strong enough glue to hold together the moments that crack, the days that feel like they’re crumbling beneath you.

I stumble out of bed in the morning- the night and the newborn were hard.  I see you in the kitchen, coffee made, beginning to chop veggies for breakfast, the girls doing puzzles. You let the day begin without me, you gave me space to recover, you serve me in the simple.

And in that moment right there, early morning bedhead, coffee in hand, I love you more than I ever have.

//xoxoxo//

finding what i’m looking for

we find what we look for

Every single night when I put the girls down for bed and we say our prayers, I thank God for the roof over our heads and the food on our table.

The most basic of provisions.  Food and shelter.

I do it to remind our girls, even at their young ages, that there are people in this world who don’t have somewhere to sleep that night and who don’t have food on their table.  Maybe one day they will connect the dots and begin to ask the questions about how we can step into those stories.

But also, I do it as a check for my own heart.  I do it to remind myself to actually be grateful for where we live.

Because our driveway is a parking lot off of two main streets in urban Denver.  We park between the diagonal yellow lines and walk through the chain link fence to get to the backyard of a single family home on our church’s property.  Our front door is actually a back door in this home.  This home is a duplex of sorts, the church renovating the basement into an apartment for us to live in while Lane works there.  So we park in the parking lot, enter through the backyard chain link fence, go to the back door which is really our front door, and go down the stairs into our 900 square foot basement home.

We live subterranean, friends.
Without much natural light.
Or much room for the girls to play without being right on top of us.
Or, for the love, a dishwasher.

And because this is so very far from the home I expected us to be living in when we are nearing our mid-30’s, figuring out career paths, and living as a family of 5, it can be difficult for me to be grateful about our home.

And so I thank God for it every single night.

Because I know how easy it is to become bitter.  I know how easily my heart turns to resentment and discontent and longing for what I don’t have.

It’s all about the story we tell ourselves.
Because it’s all about how we see things.

Lane and I have been waiting with baited breath for word from the Army about if he got hired as a Chaplain, when he starts, where we’ll live.

And we’re starting to hear word and the pieces of our lives that we’ve been working on assembling for the past three years are finally beginning to fit together.

But we thought he’d be starting in October- it’s not going to be until January.
We thought he would be stationed in Colorado- odds are it’s going to be much farther away than that.
We thought some other things too… but it’s not exactly playing out how we thought it would.

And we will continue to live in our basement home for the remainder of the year until he begins in January.

And these are curveballs.
They feel a little uncomfortable.
Feeling the reality of life in the Army where so much continues to be unknown as they dictate your story feels a little risky, a little out of control.

But I think that there is something beautiful that happens right there.

Right where life meets the unknown, right where risk meets stepping out in faith, right where we need to fight for new vision, that is where God meets us if we let him.

Because here is what I have learned in our 18 months of transition, 9 months of living in our basement home, raising 3 little girls, and our future being completely unknown in the midst of it all (all because God told us to):

You find what you’re looking for.

I could see this delay in not starting Army Chaplaincy until January as a burden // or I can jump into it as our newest adventure.

I could look in the mirror and see the lingering pregnancy pounds as a source of insecurity // or I can see it as a badge of honor that my body grew this little life and rejoice in the purpose behind the pounds.

I could see the messy and small house and get annoyed and frazzled // or I can choose joy that life happens within these walls as healthy and imaginative kids play and create and explore.

I could look ahead to what life in the Army might entail and become anxious and fearful // or I can sit in peace and trust and hopeful anticipation of what we will encounter.

I could get frustrated with the unending requests of my children // or I can fight against the urge to see them as an interruption to my day and see them as the purpose to my days.

I can look around this house and get annoyed at how small it is or how it does not, for the love, even have a dishwasher // or I can thank God for the roof over our heads and the food on our table.

Because we see what we want to see.

And so I make the constant and deliberate choice to change my vision.
Transforming my heart.
Awakening myself to these days.

And opening my eyes just a little wider to see that there might just be another story going on.

So today, I am going to look for joy and adventure and gratitude and creativity and contentment and beauty.

And I have a feeling I’m going to find it.

//xoxoxo//

what my husband said when i was at the very end of myself

too much

By the end of this day, I was at the end of myself.

By the end of this day, I was exhausted and undone and insecure and felt like a failure and exhausted again.

By the end of this particular day, it had been me flying solo with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old and a newborn for a whole day.  It was Lane’s first day back at work, my first day as a mama to three, our first dabble with our new reality.

There were glimmers of it being okay.  I had tastes of the wonderful world we’ve stepped into as we expand our family.  But really, for the most part, I crawled across the finish line.  The newborn struggled nursing and struggled to stay asleep after a whole night of not being asleep.  The older two needed entertainment and activities and food and help and just their mama, really.  But when they got feisty or ornery or pushed their limits, I snapped and yelled and then felt guilty so cuddled and asked for forgiveness but then a few minutes later they needed more than I could give again so I snapped again and felt guilty again.  It was a vicious cycle of a day.

Lane walked in the door after work and I was attempting to fix dinner with a fussy baby in hand, a messy house, and two older kids who had pushed limits all the live long day.

I fell into one of my very worst tendencies: When I am at the end of myself, I turn into myself.  I don’t ask for help, I get snappy, I get annoyed.  I don’t communicate, I build up walls.  I really didn’t want to break, I did not want to cry.  I really didn’t want to feel weak, I really didn’t want to admit my failings.  Even with my husband, especially with him.

And he felt the ice as soon as he walked in the door.

It’s a protection mechanism, really.  When I am on the absolute brink of losing it- when I have {barely} kept it together all day long- I build those walls so that none of my cracks show because I know that so easily the dam will break, the tears will come, and I will feel weak.  In my need for survival of the day, of making through each of these desperate moments, I push the big feelings below the surface and just do. my. thing.

And so I put up a wall, pretend to be stronger than I am, and brush off questions of how I am actually doing.

But he knows me.

He knows those tendencies of mine.

And he doesn’t let me pull that crap on him.

And so as I pretended to be so busy cooking dinner so that I didn’t have to answer questions about how our day went, he grabbed my shoulders and pulled me into a hug.

And I started to cry about how I felt like a failure of a mom and this is more than my capacity and they’ve been crazy all day and what in the world were we thinking having a third kid…

And he looked me in the eyes and said “Not every day is going to be like today.”

In nine short words, he gave me the greatest gift I needed in that moment.  Validation that yes, today was hard but also a powerful dose of hope that it will get better.  He didn’t brush aside my feelings, he didn’t try to fix it.

Just a simple Not every day is going to be like today.

And you know what?  We’re five days removed from that day and it has only gotten better.  I’m getting my feet underneath me, we’re discovering our new rhythm within our new normal, and with each new day I can see a little more clearly than the one before and feel like it is, in fact, going to be okay.

Each day has felt a little more alive, a little more colorful.  I’ve been a little more attuned to the whispers of grace, the moments of wonder, the mercies that abound.

Each day has felt a little more free.

I don’t know if many of you have three-week-old babies at home like me, so that might not be your thing right now.

But maybe you are in the throes of toddler tantrums.
Or you just got some bad news.
Or have a husband that works crazy hours.
Or just moved to a new town and feel the emptiness of having to start friendships over.

Or have some other hard thing that just feels like a little too much, like a little beyond your capacity.

So I want you to know:

Not every day is going to be like today.

It will get better.

And as you walk through whatever season life has you in, it’s okay for it to feel a little beyond your capacity.

Because at that exact place- where the end of you begins- is the place that God steps in and whispers just a little more strength, a little more patience, a little more hope, a little more life into your world.

So just keep going.

There is freedom ahead.

xoxoxo~

 

the days that don’t stand still

Sometimes it feels like days do stand still, like I last wrote about so many days ago.

You wait and you wait and you wait and then suddenly, all at once,

newborn love

You wait and you wait and you wait and then suddenly- what you wait for is underneath your very feet.  The decision has been made, the move is here, the job begins, the baby arrives.

Life changes right underneath our feet.  We’re on a simple walk, and then we realize there is a burning bush right before us.  Just like that, a moment shifts.

There are days that seem to form a pause between the bigness of life, the monotony and the everydayness forming the cadence of our minutes as we wait for what’s next.

And then there are days that just rush right underneath us as we play catch up with the demands of our world.

Right now my days don’t stand still.

I’m trying to regain my footing amidst the sleepless nights, the half-drank cups of coffee because the 2-year-old needs love and the 4-year-old needs play and the coffee just sits, and the baby needs to be fed and the house needs to be packed, and oh- the laundry, and oh- the tired body.

But then I catch this

sisters

and this

daddy playtime

And I take a breath.

Life is a bit crazy, isn’t it?  It seems like we’re always trying to regain our footing from the curveballs tossed our way whether they be large, like a job transition, or small, like the errands that need to be run but just sit, waiting to be checked off.

But despite me feeling a bit threadbare, a bit exhausted, a bit overwhelmed at what the next months hold for us, I do a check in with my heart and I know

It is well with my soul.

And I rediscover some of the joy I had been missing when I was focused on the exhaustion, the needs of these babies of mine, the ever-growing to-do list, the messy house, the transition and the discomfort of the unknown.

newborn love

And I think that is the gift of these days that don’t stand still.  They force us to re-evaluate our vision and what we choose to see in the rush of the moments.

I can choose to sit in the hard
Or I can rediscover and renew and reclaim JOY.

Where do you sit right now?  The rush of days?  Waiting and everydayness?  Would love to hear~

xoxoxo~

 

how to find purpose during the spaces in between

journal photo

We are firmly planted in the sands of summertime.  Lazy mornings, lingering in nature, sunscreen scented babies, water play and popsicle-stained clothes.  Hands dirty from playing in the sand, bodies tired from swim lessons and tree climbing, sassy attitudes from playing outside too long and going to sleep with the sun rather than with the clock.

We’re waiting for this baby to arrive, looking at the calendar, counting the days while trying to distract myself from counting the days, waiting waiting waiting.

We sit after seminary graduation and ordination but before Army Chaplaincy.  After late work nights and papers to write but before the responsibilities of the military.  We sit here as our time comes to a close in this city, in this home, but before we have a home of our own.  Saying goodbye to one community before finding it again in our next.

We sit in these spaces in between.

In between babies, in between jobs, in between homes, in between community.

We wait on each.

And that’s what all of summertime is, right?  It’s a space in between.

It’s the connector of school years, the grounds for looser schedule commitments, the building block between growing children.

Sometimes these in between spaces feel less noteworthy, less purposeful than the milestones that they connect.  Sometimes we can’t wait until the next thing just begins already.  Sometimes it is easier to pay more attention to the big moments than the sleepy, waiting periods in between.

We go, go, go, racing to get to the next thing.  Always wanting to check off the box, always wanting to make it to the next event, always filling our schedule with activities, obligations, commitments.  Anxious for the big moment to come, restless for the next stage of life to arrive, impatiently sitting in the here and now looking ahead to there and then.

But sometimes I wonder, what if these in between spaces are the very most important pieces of our lives?

Those spaces that maybe aren’t as glamorous, that don’t contain a life milestone, that don’t necessarily qualify as an “event.”  Those here and now spaces where you’re just… living.

summertime hiking

I am convinced that it is in these in between spaces that, if we pay attention, form the true markers of our lives.

It is in the waiting that faithfulness is refined.
It is in the mundane that gratitude is practiced.
It is in the silence that hope is sharpened.

Because a whole lot of life rests in these in between times.  A whole lot of life happens while we wait for the next big thing.

What if rather than always looking ahead to what is ahead of us, we instead live in these million little moments that combine to form the building blocks of our lives?

What if we just rest in where life has us?

Maybe you’re waiting on a contract on your house.  Maybe you’re waiting for your wedding date to finally arrive.  Maybe you’re waiting on a baby.  Or adoption paperwork.  Or for the first day of school to just get here already.  Or for the job interview.  Or for home to just feel like home.

What does sitting in the spaces in between these events look like?

Maybe it looks like embracing the boredom and chaos of summer and starting a bucket list halfway through to make it through the final push.
Maybe it looks like starting a gratitude journal.
Maybe it looks like calling up a new friend to ask them over for coffee.
Or introducing yourself to the neighbors.
Or hosting a summer block party.
Or waking up a little earlier than the kids to start the day on your own terms.
Or actually wrestling with those hard questions bouncing around in your head.
Or taking the leap and finally doing something for yourself rather than waiting until it’s convenient.

You’ll know.

What I do know is this: It looks like contentment.  It looks like gratitude. It looks like rest.

I don’t want to spend my hours waiting for the baby to be born or for when we move or for when we get word on the job.  I can’t control any of that.  What I can control is how I spend my minutes right now.  What I can control is what I do in these in between spaces of our summer and our family rhythm.

The milestones of our lives are a piece of our story.  But the time in between tells a story too.

It’s never too late to grab the pen.

xoxoxo~

easy summertime smoothie recipe

berry smoothie

With these summer months, our schedule is a bit more relaxed and we’re playing outside a whole lot more.  I’m not as structured with meal planning and don’t love to cook in this warm weather.  Smoothies have made their entrance as a daily regular around here- easy to prepare, don’t require the heat of the oven, and are a fantastic method to get some servings of fruits and veggies into those little ones {or yourselves!}.

I love how versatile smoothies can be and our girls gobble them down.  I sip on one every day too, and I love knowing the goodness that’s inside.  I completely believe that kids should be taught to eat vegetables in the original form, but I also know that my kids would only live on carrot sticks and grapes if left to their own devices and smoothies are a great method to get some greens into them without their awareness. 😉

::: smoothie recipe :::

: 1 cup coconut milk {feel free to switch in regular milk, or even water, but I think the coconut gives a bit of a different, yummy flavor}
: 2 cups berries {summertime provides such assortment of whatever berries you love, but you can even use frozen berries here if that’s what you have around}
: 1 cup chopped pineapple
: leafy greens {I’ve used either kale or spinach: 2 stalks’ worth of kale or a very generous handful of spinach leaves does the trick}

–> Combine all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.

–> We all eat a smoothie once a day.  They make a great snack or are an easy side to put next to whatever protein they’re eating at mealtime.

–> We drink them out of mason jars with our favorite straws.  It helps to make mealtime fun, even for adults.

–> This makes 3-4 servings

Enjoy these open, fun, precious days of summer!

xoxoxo~

holding on to both {free printable}

We are tired this morning.  Last night a certain four-year-old couldn’t sleep.  She first came out of her room about 9 pm while Lane and I were still up watching tv, pretty distraught, bad dreams the culprit.

It was a lot of back and forth until I remembered that when I was a little girl about her age and had trouble sleeping, my dad would make me a glass of warm milk and it would calm me down and help me sleep.  So for the first time in my own journey as a mama, I recreated this portion of my childhood for one of my own.

And I held her in my lap as she drank her warm milk and it seemed significant.  Recreating a family tradition.  Doing for my own what my parents did for me.

Love and familiarity in a mug of warm milk.

I was sad for her heart and how distraught she was that she couldn’t fall asleep.
But I also kind of loved holding this one that doesn’t let me hold her as much anymore.

I felt both.

And I think that is where life has us in a lot of ways right now.  Smack in the middle of both.

Life has taken a different journey for us than we imagined it taking and these last 12 months have been difficult.  These last few weeks, especially so.  Maybe one day I will be able to tell you guys more about all of it.  For now, it’s just been a whole lot of heavy, a whole lot of questions, a whole lot of big feelings.

And we hold onto all of this difficult and heavy in the exact same moments as Lane is finishing his seminary degree and getting his Masters that he {we} have been working toward for So. Long.  And we are so close to having our baby.  And so close to finally getting to apply to the Army again, a dream that God whispered deeply into our hearts on a December weekend 2 1/2 years ago.  I’m working toward some dreams of my own that were fanned a bit when I went to my writing conference in May.

Life never seems to be all one or the other, does it?

I find that so often, it is a delicate balance of not letting the difficult drown out the whispers of grace but also not letting the good numb your hearts to the wrestling going on within you and in the world around you.

So I created two printables, thinking that no matter where life has you, one of them will hopefully speak to wherever you’re at.

Maybe you, like me, need both right now.

I created them as 5×7’s- intentionally smaller than some of the other ones I’ve made so that you can use them in a variety of ways~ maybe use as a bookmark in your summer reads this summer, maybe stick on your car dashboard, maybe pin on your bulletin board that you walk by every day.  {click on the image to download the free pdf printable}

: choose joy

For those days that seem a little difficult.  After the restless night, before a big decision, during the heavy season, when you need to remind yourself to rejoice always, when the kids are home from summer and you’ve already tapped out all creative ideas.  Choose joy.  It helps.  I promise.

choose joy

: dream big

When life is open and light and exciting and you’re dreaming about that next thing.  Maybe a baby is on the way, maybe you’ve prayed a big prayer and are waiting to see what happens, maybe you’re in the middle of interviewing for that dream job, maybe you’re pursuing your own crazy dream, maybe you’re raising your own littles and dreaming big dreams on their behalf.  It’s possible.  Dream big~!

dream big

Hope you are well, my friends.  No matter where life has you, even if it’s smack in the middle of choosing joy as you dream your big dreams, carry on!  You’ve got this.

xoxoxo~!

to the brides getting married this summer, from one 10 years in

10 years of marriage

You are in love.  He got down on one knee with whispered promises and hopes and truth and forever after that.

You go through the magazines, planning burlap and lace and wildflowers everywhere.  You stand in the store, finding the dress of your dreams and your mama cried when she saw you.  You plan details and bring friends alongside and the colors are the perfect union between gold and taupe.

And the day will be perfect.
Or, it might not be. Some little details might go a little awry.
But that’s okay because it will be you and him and your people in a place celebrating a new beginning that stems from a love story.

And here’s the thing: This new beginning is bigger and more important and more magnificent than one wedding day could ever be.  Right now you are building a magical day, but really, you are building a life.

See, today is our 10-year wedding anniversary.  It feels like just yesterday I was the one in white and he was the one in a suit.  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were the ones pledging I do and I will and forever after that?

But here we stand, 10 years and 3 babies later.  12 moves, 3 deployments, mountain getaways and beach anniversary trips, hurtful hurled words and working to work it out, tears and dark, lonely and full, mountain hikes and riverside picnics, road trips and neighborhood walks, excitement and change and hard jobs and curveballs unseen.

Because in 10 years, a lot of life happens.  In our 10 years, we have made the decision to choose love over and over and over again because it is the little decisions that build a life.  It seems like a marriage is built on the big moments: the wedding day, the job promotion, the decision not to do something, the move to follow a dream.

But really, what I have learned is that a marriage is built on the million moments within the 3,600 days within our 10 years.

10 years of marriage

Marriage is commissioned on the I do’s and the I will’s and the forever after promises that are said on the wedding day.  But the cornerstone and the building blocks and the archways that form between you and him as you build your life are much simpler than it might first appear.  It is in the morning coffee cups, the greetings after work, the questions that follow up a conversation.  The building blocks of a marriage are the glance across the room, filling up the gas tank, offering to help.  It is built in the daily ringing of the alarm clock and the momentary decision to silence the text message in the middle of a conversation.  It is in making the bed and undoing the hurt.  It is in leaning in to the hard conversation and moving away from the selfishness.

Small, everyday moments that add up to a life.

The building blocks to our 10-year marriage are as simple and as complex as they appear.

: We talk. A lot.  About our days and the weird dreams we had last night and about what steps we are taking to pursue our dreams.  About why that conversation was awkward or why we were disengaged.  About how we were hurt or how we want to be better.  About our kids and about our families and about high school memories.  About that phone conversation and the best meal we’ve ever had and about work that day.  We’ve learned the day that we stop talking is the day that we venture down the path of really good roommates instead of husband and wife.  We talk through it all because he is my person and it is how we stay connected in the busy of life.

: We build memories together.  We work to do things together and as a family and to fight against going so many different directions.  We share a love of the outdoors so we take our family hiking, to the park, on a walk.  We climb mountains, go backpacking, climb rocks.  We set time aside to get away, just the two of us.  We host parties and go laser-tagging and drink coffee on the back porch.  We do life together because it is in building a cache of shared memories that we have a foundation to stand on and experiences to continue to unite us.

: We have our people that know us and love us and want to hear our real.  Our people are the ones we can go out with, call up at a moments notice, and talk about how we are doing.  We know how vital it is to have outside people that love us no matter how transparent we need to be with them.  When our relationship hits those rhythms of hard, sometimes all you want to do is hide in a corner but sometimes all you need is a safe space where you can tell your truth.  Having friendships that support our marriage but also support our hearts breathe life into the dark places that need it.

: We support the others passions.  We have experienced how being a healthy, whole individual is such a factor on the health of our marriage.  When we are weak and needy, we don’t have anything to offer the other.  When we are healthy spiritually, emotionally, and physically, we can love the other better.  We both stay active and support the other in those efforts, even if that means a little extra time at the gym away from the family.  We encourage the other in our individual spiritual journey.  Lane worked it out for me to go to a writing conference last month even though that meant juggling a few things around because he knew how important it was for me.  He is playing in a summer lacrosse league here in Denver because it is a love of his. Two healthy individuals equals a healthier marriage.

And it is within these rhythms and on these building blocks that we have built our marriage.  We’ve had rhythms of dark and hard and where we’re not connecting and have to fight to stay unified.  But our rhythms of sweet and good and laughter and togetherness have outweighed the hard and I think that it is because of our million little moments upon which we stand.  We have the shared memories to fall back on, we have our people surrounding and supporting us, we have our individual health to offer, we have our big and little conversations.

Our building blocks have come from these little moments that add up to a life together.  And I’ll take the comfort and familiarity and unity and fun that we have from building a life together over the excitement of a wedding day any day.

We said I do and I will and forever after that and now we have seen that we can and we have and we still do and we still will.

xoxoxo~

practicing being present

being a mama

I was about one step behind my crew of girlfriends in beginning our family.  For the most part, my firstborn lined up with their second baby and as we were forming our friendships, I felt so far behind these wise and seasoned mamas.  I met them before I was a mama, they saw me walk through my first pregnancy, and now here I am in my third.

I watched them with awe- the newbie, the rookie, who had no idea what I was doing and grasped each nugget of wisdom like a lifeline.

They told me that when she is tiny and when she is new and when it is 2 in the morning and I am exhausted but she’s not, to study her lips and stare at her nose and to enjoy rocking my baby because they are only tiny for such a short amount of time.

And it sounded good.

But then again it also sounded terrible.

When I’m exhausted and my baby is crying and I’m on Day 38 without a full nights rest they were advising me to enjoy this?

Telling me to Enjoy This sounds good in theory, but in practice isn’t it a bit harder?  Doesn’t it sometimes sound terrible?

Don’t you sometimes want to smack the person on the other end of this sentiment?

Because it comes in the perfect timing, of course, when a toddler is melting down in the checkout line when she doesn’t get a chocolate candy bar or in the front yard when someone loses it over putting on the sparkle shoes instead of the rain boots.  Maybe someone an older generation than you strolls by with nostalgia replacing the memory of any of the hard times from when they were raising their own babies.

authentic parenting

And here’s the thing: I am such a believer in authentic parenting.  I would so much rather you tell me that your kid just screamed at you for 2 hours so you shut yourself in your bedroom than for you to put on the pretty face.  I want to be with you in your hard because it is hard for me.  I know and I know and I know that this season is hard, that you will be stretched beyond what you thought you could bear, that you will learn the depths of your strength as you raise these babies.

But here’s the other thing.

It does go fast.

And there are some moments that are precious.

When my friends who had more babies than I did and who had walked this road a little longer than I had told me to at least try to enjoy my baby in those very moments when I least want to… I at least tried.

And there were nights that it just didn’t work.  There were moments with each of my babies that I lost it more fiercely and desperately than they did because I was at capacity.  There have been moments when I did not have the patience and I did not have the grace and I got angry and I broke.  Because parenting is hard and we do life with these littles and it is hard and it is hard.

But there were also times that I tried to be in the moment even when it was hard, I fought to be present with my children.  Because I had people in my life that I loved that were just a little further down the road than I was who told me to memorize her newborn cheeks.

And so I did.

And because I developed the practice then, it is serving me now too.

In these moments, these everyday moments of hard and mundane, magnificent and extraordinary, I look around for what I can memorize.  I look for the strand, even when I am threadbare myself, to hold onto to tether me to the day.

Because see, enjoy this doesn’t only have to apply to parenting.

It is a mindset to be all here- right here, right now.  It is a practice in participating.  It is an agreement that in all of life’s hard, that there is a shimmer of grace.

And so my friends, you might be in a season of life’s hard.  Or life’s mundane.  Or life’s unknown.  Or life’s everyday normal.

But look around.  There’s something shimmering for you to memorize for this day, this moment.  You might need to squint to see it, depending on the day.

But it just might be your tether.  Take hold.

xoxoxo~

a letter to my fellow mamas of littles

dear mama of littles

Dear mama,

This is quite the season, isn’t it?

It is crazy and chaotic and exhausting.
Beautiful? Absolutely.
Worthwhile? Fiercely.

But crazy and chaotic and exhausting still.

You pour the cereal and you pour the juice.  You pour the coffee and then you pour it again.  You pour out the blocks and then they move on to the crayons so you pour those out too.  You pour the love on thick as you weave it with discipline and redirection.  You pour the ketchup and then you pour the bubble bath.

You pour your very heart over them and around them.

And mama?  I know it’s hard.  I know it’s exhausting.  That sometimes you need just a little more patience, just a little more grace, just a little more strength because the process of raising these littles requires an emptying of yourself so that they might be filled.

And as we empty and as we pour, we give them the best and purest picture of love complete.  As we live these days of crazy and exhausting and fiercely worthwhile, we show these rambunctious little ones that they are worth our emptying.

We give them our everything as an offering of love- we make sure that we are the ones to get poured out so that they never have to come up empty.

Because see, fellow mamas, we have a source that they don’t have yet.  As we pour ourselves and as we empty, we can be filled again and again and again from the water that flows with life.

Otherwise we just come to them dry and brittle.

Because, my fellow mamas, I am tired.  I bet you are too.  I know that from the moment you rise until the moment your head hits the pillow you are moving.  Your feet go from room to room, picking up and cleaning and organizing.  Your car goes across town and around to stores and carpools kids.  Your mind disciplines and corrects and reminds.  Your heart worries about the move or the job or the fight or the hopes you want to step into five months from now.

Moving, always.  Pouring, always.

And so mama, as you begin your day today, I need you to know something.

Mothering will always be a process of pouring ourselves out for them and over them and because of them.  But what I want you to hold tightly to within it all is that there is a purpose in the process.  You pouring yourself out for them again and again and again will not come back void.

Right here, right now, what you are doing for them matters.  Right here, right now, even if you feel empty and dry and brittle because this season is busy and hard, giving of yourself to them is worth it.

What better way for them to learn love than to be loved so deeply and completely?
What better way for them to learn purpose than to witness it lived out every day in your home?
What better way for them to learn worth and value and confidence and strength than to have someone offer their life to prove to you how worthwhile they think you are?

It’s not about getting it right every single moment.  It’s not about always being the shining example of love and patience and grace that you think you should be.

It’s about showing up again and again and again.  It’s about you being the exact mama that these littles need.  It’s about remembering that you are a good mom, even when you feel empty.

And so to the busy and tired and exhausted mama of littles,
And to the precious and loving-it mama of littles,

Keep emptying yourself for them.  Keep pouring your heart and your body out for them.  They are witnessing strength, even when you feel weak.  They are witnessing grace, even when you feel brittle.

So mama, keep doing exactly what you’re doing.

They’re going to be just fine.

And so are you.

xoxoxo~