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.


welcome, safe, enough, brave

4 words to describe us

I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

Maybe it’s because my mind is naturally prone to dream.  Maybe it’s because life is a lot of things right now and the only way I know how to deal with it all is retreating into my mind rather than dealing with the reality of crazy.

And here is something I know about myself: my tendency is to fear.  So easily I will let anxiety write itself over the walls of my heart so fiercely that nothing else can break through.  So slowly sometimes that I’m not even aware it is happening, I simply learn how to live anxious.  I build up a tolerance, each day looking for something new to fear, something new to compare myself to, something new to perfect and achieve that I can control.

The other day Lane took the girls for a few hours, casually mentioning some of the things he was going to do with them- errands they would run, parks they would play at- and my gut reaction was fear.  Hearing they would go to a crowded store, my very first thought was What if one gets lost?  What if someone takes her?  What if she chokes at lunch?  Should I leave the girls with someone, anyone, else?  

Do you have those thoughts too or am I just Crazy Mama??

And the thing is, it’s not even about Lane.  He’s an incredible, capable dad.  It’s not about how many crazy worst-case scenarios and irrational fears I play out in my head in a given day.

It’s about listening to fear more than I listen to trust.

It’s about not letting go of control and letting anxiety pin me down.

It’s about losing my balance based on the events of any given day rather than sitting in a hope and a trust and a love so complete that it carries me through whatever each day holds.

It’s about forgetting what I know to be true.

And I don’t want to be sidelined because I let my mind win.  I’m not satisfied with simply getting through these days as I worry my way through my moments.  I want to make my minutes matter.  I want to be aware of the stories around me, to act on these days, to step deeper into the story that God has for me.  And that involves trust and truth and freedom.

And so there are words that have been fluttering around in my mind this last week as I work on this struggle that are beginning to function as my anchors, keeping me steady in those moments where my mind begins to wander.

These words that so simply and so completely speak my heart and my hope for our community here too:

Welcome. Safe. Enough. Brave.

Because in these words, these four little words, I am reminded of the call I want to place upon other women’s lives as well as the truths I want to continually step into in my own.

: You are welcome here.  This little community of ours that is growing into something authentic and real and beautiful.  Wherever life has you, you are welcome here.

: Your story and your words and your experiences and you are safe here.  Because sometimes you just need to take a breath, sometimes you need to be reminded that you are not alone, and that your story- whatever it is, is safe right here with us as we figure out how to live this life well.  Don’t worry about the dishes in the sink or the 2 year old who keeps having meltdowns in public or that sometimes you feel a little bit psycho.  We’re in this together.

: You are enough. Just as you are.  Not once you lose 10 pounds, not once you get a hold of your laundry schedule, not once you secure that job, not once you get better makeup, not when you finally go get a haircut.  Just as you are, right here, right now, you are enough.  Don’t compare yourself to anyone else because you are enough.  Keep going, you are doing a good job.

: You are brave.  Hear that.  You are.  You get up every single morning and go to that job or take care of those babies or believe in that dream or school your kids when you are exhausted or travel to those dark and lonely and hurting spaces or speak love into the hearts of those that need it or teach those students or show up to that appointment with no guarantee of the news.  You do the hard thing.  You take those steps.  You are doing everything you can to live this life well.  And you are brave.

Welcome. Safe. Enough. Brave.

These are the words over us, in this space, over this time, right here and right now.

So my friends, as you go through your week this week, keep your eyes and your hearts open.  If you face a moment that just seems like too much, or your mind is beginning to take you to those worst-case scenarios that you don’t need to go to, or you feel yourself begin to lose your balance, or you catch yourself doing the dangerous dance of comparison just a little too often, just take a deep breath.  Remind yourself of what you know is true, let that anchor steady you.

And know that when you join us here, you are welcome here, you are safe here, you are enough, and you are brave.

Walk in that today.


the next 10 books i want to read

I just hit 29 weeks pregnant.  This baby is coming our way sometime in July and we couldn’t be more excited.  I also feel that ticking time bomb that I remember so well with the other pregnancies to make this time count.  Be productive! Clean the house! Leave with no children before you have a nursing babe in tow for a year!

And on my list of things to do before the baby comes is to read as much as I can.  For as long as I can remember, I have loved books and loved reading but I think that when Ellie, our second, was born I didn’t read a full book for an entire year.  I don’t know if that is going to happen again, but I do know that our world is about to capsize once again in the very best of ways and leisure reading might not make it on my priority list.

So, I have compiled a list of books that I have not yet read that I want to read before she comes.  I probably (definitely) won’t read all of these by July, but having them in print at least gives me a starting place and accountability.

Have you read any of these?  Where should I start?  Are you going to add any to your summer reading list?

:::The next 10 books I want to read:::

books to read

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequiest

I love all things Shauna.  I have become her disciple, sitting at her feet, reading every single word she writes… on her blog.  I’ve grabbed her books in bookstores and found myself mesmerized by her storytelling, sitting down right there on the carpet to read for as long as I can, but I haven’t read one of her books from start to finish and I need to.  I think any of her books would be a gem, but Cold Tangerines is focused on finding the extraordinary in the everyday moments, a focus I am working on having in my own everydays.

books to read

A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle

When I was in the fifth grade I read A Wrinkle in Time and it always held a special, nostalgic place in my childhood so I re-read it a few weeks ago and fell in love anew.  It reminded me how much I love Madeline L’Engle and her writing and imagination.  I have heard so much of A Circle of Quiet, her memoir, and it comes highly recommended with life wisdom as if you are gleaning life wisdom from a loving, older woman in your life.

books to read

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I need to admit something to you- I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice.  Don’t hate me.  In fact, a recent goal of mine has been to read more classics and I started last fall with Jane Eyre but I need to keep checking off classics and this seems like a logical next step.

all the light we cannot see

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doer

I’m a sucker for all things WWII related.  It’s partially the history teacher in me coming out, partially my upbringing, partially it was such a fascinating and heartbreaking part of our world’s narrative that I can’t help but want to learn more.  This novel won the pulitzer prize and the writing is fantastic.

yes please

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Because Amy Poehler.  Lighthearted, hilarious, poignant.


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

If you haven’t read this book or seen the movie yet (like me), it’s the story of a woman whose life fell apart so she set out on a journey across the Pacific Crest Trail.  Supposedly great writing, and an incredible story of determination and redemption.

till we have faces

Till We Have Faces CS Lewis

To be completely honest, I don’t have a great grasp on this book.  I know that it is a work of fiction based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche and has been called CS Lewis’ best work.  Considering all that this man wrote, that’s reason enough for me to want to add it to my collection.  Along with reading more classics, I would love to read more CS Lewis.

anne of green gables

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Another one that I am ashamed to admit to you that I have never read.  And (gulp!) I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the movie the whole way through.  I can picture a scene with her walking on top of the barn (right?) but that’s about it.  I know.  I’m ashamed.  I need to read this.


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I haven’t read this one yet because I didn’t want to read it when it was super popular just to jump on the bandwagon, but I continue to hear so much about it that it seems like a story that I need to know.  What do you think?  Is it that good?  Is the whole vampire thing weird?

tattoos on the heart


Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

I feel like when you keep hearing over and over about the same thing, you need to start paying attention.  Tattoos on the Heart is one of those books that keeps crossing my radar.  This man, the life he has lived, how he stands up for love is unbelievable.  Father Boyle runs a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles and this book is his stories about working in the ghetto.

What would you recommend I have on this list?  What is your must-read book right now?


becoming what our children need

becoming a bridge for our kids

Dear husband, please don’t take it personally.  When you get home, later than you thought might I add, and I don’t- can’t- greet you in the way you might imagine your homecoming to be, it’s not because of you, really.  When you are walking in the door, right as I yawn at the kitchen counter, trying to rally the energy to make dinner, please know it’s not about you.

Husband, when I had planned to make pork chops, baked potatoes and a salad for dinner and what we ended up with were chocolate chip pancakes, please know that I tried today, I really did.  Pancakes were my capacity today, it was the best I could do.  Please notice that I at least made them in the shape of Mickey Mouse.

When you walk in the door, and all three of us are in pajamas of some fashion and you ask “Is she in her pajamas because you got her ready for bed extra early or… was this from… earlier?” please, I ask you not to judge us for our state of affairs.  I shower most days, I do.  Today was just not one of those days.

Today was one of the days that holds All Of The Things.  Every single one.  We didn’t sleep last night and then they screamed at each other and then they screamed at me and I took deep breaths and walked out of the room to eat nutella by myself in the kitchen.  And right after that they played chase and then they dressed up in princess dresses and then they twirled.  And the littlest is perfecting the art of walking backwards and pride cascades down her body as she shows off her skill.  And the oldest is learning how to draw and the fridge is covered with her art.  And they hold hands and they spin and my heart is about to explode.  And then they tackle and scream and I am a referee once again.  Their moods and their emotions and their bodies fly around like a kite in a storm and it is my role to keep them grounded.


And so husband, when you walk in the door and my hair is in a top-knot and it looks like we had a day, it is because we did.  If it looks like I don’t have anything more to give, it is because I don’t.  Please know that I tried.

Because all day long I shifted into role after role after role and I am tired.  I have learned that being a mama forces you into adaptability whether you like it or not, whether you are tired or not, whether you are ready for it or not.  We’re not adaptable because we like to morph from referee to chef to preschool teacher to counselor to janitor to wife to consoler to round-the-clock nurse to midnight-back-rubber and monster-chaser to referee all over again.  We adapt because it’s what is required of us and we grow into what the moment demands.

We’re adaptable because when faced with something difficult, you do what you have to do to survive the moment and be what you need to be to help train these little people how to live and how to love in this world.

And so I become what they need me to be in any given moment.  I am like a bridge covering the canyon of our days, helping them make their way across, flexing and wobbling as we navigate this uncharted territory.  Because really, that is what it is, right?  Uncharted territory each and every day.  I’m not ever sure I really know exactly what I’m doing and if I ever do it’s only because I’m faking it confidently.

But see, here’s the thing about a bridge.  It can shift and flex and carry the weight that it needs to in any given moment.  We might bend but we don’t break.  We might be stretched but we don’t shatter.  They walk on us as they learn their way through this world but that’s okay because we have a strength that they don’t have yet.  They need to borrow ours until they discover their own.

So husband, I appreciate your look of concern, really I do.  I thank you for wanting to make my days easier.  But really, know that I am fine.  These days, they shift and flex and so we shift and flex depending on the needs of the moment.  Sometimes that involves chocolate and grace and reminding to do it better next time and sometimes that involves sheer delight and joy and it is light and easy.  And so we do these moments and we are their bridge from one day to the next and one feeling to the next.  They fly through the air and we keep them grounded and we feel all of the things.

One more thing about a bridge, though?  In order for it to work, it must be anchored to something.  Something stronger, something immovable, something unchanging.

We have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7

So friends, as we do these heavy and busy and demanding and light days that contain all of the things, lets be their bridge and lets become what they need to cross through their unknown and sometimes scary days.  But lets never become so sure of our own strength that we try to do these days on our own.  Because that is when we will break, that is when we will shatter.  So lets continually seek this great power that is not from ourselves and that is how we will adapt and be strong and become what our kiddos need us to be.


birthday love letters: a gift for my children

the letters i write

I’m not the mama who makes first year baby books.  I’m not the mama who scrapbooks and chronicles and organizes major milestones, events, and pictures.  I love those mamas; I wish I were one of those mamas.

I’m just not.

But I love remembering.  I love taking note of life and those I love and treasuring what we have together.  I love the art of paying attention.  {I wrote about a time I did that with my husband here, and here is a letter I wrote for Brennan on her 3rd birthday.}

And so I have a tradition that I do on each of my girls’ birthday that I want to pass on to you in case you want something special to do for your own. {And it’s okay if you don’t/didn’t start at the 1st birthday!  Grace here, friends.  Begin where you can, it will still be special.}

Because you see, this one turns four today.

4th birthday

And it has gone by in a blink.  And I know it will only continue to speed up because that is what time does, especially when it is precious.

And so each year I write them a letter on their birthday.  I talk about what I see in them, ways they grew and changed that year, my hopes for who they become.  My plan is to keep it close to my own heart and then on each of their 18th birthdays give a whole binder full of love letters written especially for them and about them and to them.

And they will be able to look back and read about who they were, how they changed, what we saw in them.  I want them to know how very much we have adored them from the very start.

Again, I’m not much of a scrapbook-type mama, so the best I could come up with was a binder that I found at Hobby Lobby with plastic sheet protectors.  Because the last thing I want is for the ink to get smudged or wear off through the years.  Classy?  Probably not.  Practical?  Absolutely.

The first page is all of her birth day stats that I might forget over the years but it would be neat for her to know: she was born on a Friday, height, weight, etc.

birth stats page

And I intentionally hand-wrote the notes rather than typed them out for her.  Won’t it be so meaningful twenty, thirty years from now to be able to look back and see her 32-year-old mama’s handwriting?

And I can commit to this.  I can commit to loving my girl each day, noticing who she is and what she loves, and then on her birthday writing a letter to her telling her what I see.  I can do that.

{And just in case you’re like me and your creativity is sparked by anothers’ and you need a jumping off point for your own letter to your kiddo, here is what I wrote in her 4-year-old letter:

You’re growing up too fast, my girl.  But I sure do love life with you.  You’re not in preschool yet, and I get to be home with you and Ellie all day so we get a lot of quality time together.  We know each other completely and just today you said that Ellie is your best friend.  Truth be told, my love, your 3-year-old year was a bit of a rough one for us.  Our family went through a lot of transitions and we asked a lot of you.  And you are learning your independence just as we need to train you how to live and how to love in this world.  But as you turn 4 years old, I still see the passionate, adventure-loving, social girl that we love.  But I also see you become a little shy at times, I see you choosing safety over risk, I see you needing time to warm up.  And that is fine, I want you to feel free to always be yourself and know that we love you no matter who you are.  You love artwork, riding your scooter throughout our house, and singing.  You love to play with your sister and be silly- your favorite game right now is crawling around on the floor like different animals.  You love to organize, direct, and help, truly independent and a good leader.  You, my girl, are a gem.  Happy 4th Birthday!!! }


on learning to be with my kids

living right here, right now

We were at the park.  The one so close to our home with a perfect walking trail that loops around a lake, a view of the mountains kissed by the Colorado blue sky.  The one with trees blooming so lushly along the route it looks like a million snowballs cover the branches.  And the afternoon was beautiful and the girls were laughing and the sun was good for our souls.

And I was on my phone.

See, it had been a tough day.  It started before I was ready, Lane was gone, I never felt like I had it together, a child was hanging on me every moment… so easily I threw myself a pity party.

So while they played, I deserved a breather, right?  This time at the park could be my sanity saver, right?

So I sat on the bench while they climbed and they laughed.  I surfed Facebook and then I surfed Instagram and right when I was about to move to Pinterest, Brennan called out to me to push her on the swing.

My gut reaction?  Annoyance.

My child wanted to interact with her mama and my first instinct was that she was a disturbance.

See, life happens so easily.

I have noticed that in those moments and in those days where I feel so disjointed or so stressed or so frustrated, I tend to turn in.  I think that I need a breather, a sanity-regainer, a time-out from real life, and so I turn inward to my phone.  I scroll news sites, I surf social media, I glance through pictures and quotes and life in 140 characters or less.

Because I deserve it, right?

It is so easy for life to become lopsided.  For the tyranny of the urgent to dictate how the rest of the day will play out.  Because when you least expect it emails happen, or errands happen, or a laundry disaster, or an ornery 3-year-old or a dish that slips to the floor sending the meal flying everywhere.  Or a 2-year-old who refuses to put on shoes which makes you late for the appointment and you hit traffic on the way there.  Or you’re working on a project but any moment of silence is immediately interrupted by all of the animal noises two little kids can create.

Life happens so easily.

But here is what I know about it all: My girls are not an interruption to life.  The are my life.

And so when one calls out to me, I don’t want my gut reaction to be annoyance.  I don’t want to see them as a disruption to what I am doing.

Two things have been going over and over in my head since I have pinpointed this tendency in myself:

: Be with my kids when I am with my kids.  This time is precious and they are a gift.  There are absolutely difficult moments and difficult days but that does not negate the truth that they are a gift.  And so this means not grabbing my phone when I play with them in case I get bored.  It means not trying to multi-task because I have learned they always get the short end of the stick.  It means putting boundaries on my social media downtime to twice a day- once when I wake up and once as I am winding down for bed and not a single time in between.  It means being protective of my mind and my heart and my time.

: I ask myself the question What does love look like right now?  In a moment of disobedience, I ask myself this question.  In a moment when I am exhausted, I ask this question.  In a moment when they are loud and I am frustrated or when I am discouraged, I ask myself this question.  I try to view my moments within this way of thinking and it reframes how I see and how I interact with them.  It looks like taking a breath.  It looks like a prayer, shaking it off, and participating in their world.

Even if it can’t happen 100% of the entire day, I at least make an effort for some dedicated portion of the day to be with them while I’m with them.  It looks like playing with them, asking them questions, getting on the floor for a tea party, working on letters, spontaneous dance parties, running through the backyard barefoot.

And when I think this way- being with them when I’m with them and asking myself what does love look like right now- I notice my girls and I see the gifts in the day.

And I feel my soul soften.  I no longer feel brittle, ready to shatter at any moment gone awry.  I remember to breathe through a frustration, a broken decoration, a spilled bowl of cereal.  I notice moments again: the springtime flowers blooming on the tree, the 2-year-old running up and down and up and down the hallway, her hand so gently resting on my forearm when she sits on my lap, their creative and imaginative play that can only be formed between two best friends.

Yes, life happens.  But I never want them to feel like an afterthought.  I don’t want to be distracted through the course of these years I have with them.  I want to have my priorities right and have the most important things be the most important.

Here I go, learning how to slow down and be right here, right now.

You with me? 😉


carry on, mama

carry on mama

You are doing a beautiful thing.

Do you need to hear that today?

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that what you do matters, that the multitude of unseen hours add up to purpose, that your words are slowly softening that hard heart, that it all really is a beautiful thing.

But it is.

It might not seem like it: you might be in the trenches with a child or with a sleepless newborn or with your own mind.

Because this parenting thing is hard, and there will be a thousand reasons to make you doubt yourself.

But I need you to believe this and remind yourself again and again and again.

We arrived at Target at the same time the other day, she was strapping in her toddler just as I was putting my two in the cart next to her.  Both of us with a messy bun, neither of us with makeup or any attempts to get dressed beyond yoga pants and a workout top.  It’s Target after all, the safe place of all moms everywhere.  No words were exchanged between us but we did meet eyes for just a moment.  A moment of solidarity, a look to say “Here we go.  May the odds be ever in your favor.”

And as my girls and I meandered through the kids section and over to the decor and over to the beauty and office aisles, we passed her several times, each time I saw her nerves become more and more ragged and her resolve more frazzled as her daughter required more and more.  She was trying to keep it together, but I knew that look anywhere.  I have been that mama more times than I can count.

And I didn’t stop her or say anything to her because sometimes you just need to stay in the zone and do your thing and she was there with her kiddo.  But I felt this solidarity with her, I was cheering for her.  Mamas are amazing, everywhere.  We put our kids first and take care of ourselves later.  We find patience when we are threadbare.  We find whatever creative solution we can to invent and reimagine and to make learning fun.  We dig through our purses and combine two completely unrelated objects into a toy that will give us 5 more minutes of sanity at Target.

And this mama that I saw?  In her yoga pants and her messy bun and her deep breaths before talking to her daughter?  It was beautiful.

Because we are all doing the best we can, we really are.

And so I need to tell you something: You are doing a beautiful thing.  All of the corralling the chaos, all of the putting them first, all of the showing up in public in yoga pants, all of the fixing lunches, all of the washing hands, all of the redirecting, all of the craft times, all of the breaking up fights, all of it.

Just take it one day at a time.

Better yet, take it 15 minutes at a time.  You can do anything for 15 minutes.

Because what you are doing is a good work.  It is a beautiful thing.

So do your thing.

And carry on, Mama.


free springtime printable

Hey sweet friends!

Isn’t this a wonderful time of year?  I love the crisp Spring air, the freshness and new all around, and I absolutely love the hope and promise that we celebrate on Easter.

Yesterday the girls woke up to special Easter baskets, we went to church in their new and darling dresses, and then straight on to my parents house with our extended family including an egg hunt and them sneaking rolls and cookies off of the counters all day long, chocolate dripping all over their new dresses that were by then smudged with dirt from playing outside.  It was a great Easter.

To bring the lightness and the new and the beauty going on all around into our home, I created a little springtime printable that I wanted to share with y’all:

life of love printable

I wanted to keep it beautiful and simple with the flowers, but I also love the words live a life of love from Ephesians.  Because isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?  Just live a life of love.  That’s the only thing that matters.

This is an 8×10 printable that you can download and print as many as you’d like for your own home, or to give as a gift.
{one word: if you print it to put it in a frame like I did, before cutting with scissors, measure against the glass in your frame and cut based on that… I learned that the actual 8×10 print needs a little more on the edges to fit into an 8×10 frame.}

I design and create my own printables, but just wanted to let y’all know that a lot of the actual graphics I use I get from an incredible designer you can find at angiemakes.com. She has darling creations and some great grapics and clip art available if you want to check her out!


hope you all are well


on why i wake up early

Most mornings these days, I have my alarm set for 5:58am.  Most mornings these days, I actually wake up to my alarm, stretch, and walk out to the kitchen while the house is still quiet and the world is still dark.

on waking up early

I start a pot of coffee.
I grab an apple.
I put on my glasses.

I assemble my assortment that keeps me company in these first few minutes of the day: my computer, my bible, my journal.

Sometimes I begin with my bible and flip to whatever book, chapter, verse strikes me that morning.  Sometimes I’ll listen to a few worship songs.  Sometimes I’ll write.

Sometimes I will just sit in the quiet and think.

Sometimes I have an entire half an hour to myself before one stirs and I even make a to-do list for the day and a grocery list for the week.  Sometimes they inch so beautifully near the seven-o’clock hour that I can celebrate so much time to gather my thoughts and my heart and my sanity before the day begins and I can even start a load of laundry.

But sometimes there are those mornings when my alarm is set to go off, and at 5:55 a certain 3-year-old stumbles into my bedroom, finds her way to my side of the bed and begins to tap my shoulder: Mommy.  Momma.  Goodmorning mommy!

But more often than not, I choose to wake up early and the house is mine and I can begin the day on my own terms.

Because something significant happens in those early hours where the earth is still sleepy, the house is still quiet, nature is waking up.  Those early hours where the sun hasn’t quite risen, the day has only just begun.  Something significant happens in those hours.

When I wake up and start my day in this order, my days seem to go much more smoothly.  Not easier, not perfectly, but more smoothly.

I’m not reacting to the crazy that happens once two littles wake up and begin the race of the day that very same second.  I’m proactive in gaining an element of control to my day, an element of peace in my heart, an element of wholeness in my home.

CS Lewis talks about the first and second things:

Put first things first and we get second things thrown in; put second things first and we lose both first and second things.

When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of first and second things.  My first thing is my relationship with Jesus and how {and if} my heart is turned toward him or if I am trying to get through my days on my own.

And this morning routine helps me to keep my own first things first.  It brings so much rejuvenation, so much healing, so much life.  It creates space in my heart in the midst of an oh-so-busy world for these first things to have the space they need.  Because I have learned over and over and over again, that when my life is not in the order that it should be it feels off-kilter.  I feel like I am leaning a little too heavily on my own ragged self.  It feels like I put too much emphasis on Lane filling my needs, or focus on body image a little too much, or don’t have the patience that a preschooler and toddler require, or feel one step behind the entire day.

But on these mornings, I have had the quiet and the space and the time and the love for myself so that I feel whole and ready to pour into those that need it.

It is much more energizing than I imagined it would be so now it is time that I fight for, it is time that is precious.  It is time that reminds me of what is most precious.

What if you tried waking up early every now and then?  How would it change the pace of your days?  Would it help you to keep the first things first?


courage, dear heart

courage dear heart

I see you everywhere.

You’re there in the store, attempting to try on maternity clothes with the toddler climbing underneath the door, spotting her window of escape.

You’re in your driveway at 7am, already dressed and getting in the car and heading to work and starting the new day.

You’re next to me at the stoplight, resting your forehead in your hands as we wait those few moments for the light to turn green.

You’re exhausted and in the cold and flu remedy aisle and a pajama-clad, equally exhausted preschooler holds onto your leg as you read the symptoms and directions and dosage requirements.

You’re there in the library, walking in late to story time, hand firmly wrapped around the wrist of a stubborn heart that is dragging his feet.

You’re sitting in your front yard, watching the kids play in the cul-de-sac and stealing glances at Pinterest, trying not to get caught.

You’re there in the kindergarten pick-up line, ball cap and yoga pants, rubbing your temples.

You’re there, pregnant belly and little kids all around, moving so slowly.

I see you.

You wonder if you will make it through the day.
You wonder how you lost your temper so quickly.
You wonder if your husband will ever start to help raise the kids.
You wonder how to rally for another busy day away at work.
You wonder if you should have tried another solution.
You wonder if you’re capable of raising another child when you already feel at capacity.
You wonder if your very best is good enough.
You wonder what other methods to try with the one who tests every ounce of authority and pushes every boundary laid down.
You wonder what triggered that epic meltdown and if you should have tried a different tactic.
You wonder how you can entertain and engage and contain that toddler’s energy.

Maybe today, in this moment, you feel alone, you feel not good enough, you feel tired.  Because I know how your days go.  I know the thoughts that you have, I know the questions you ask, the fears you battle, the worries you chase down.

But dear one?  I need you to know something.  You are enough.  You already have what it takes.

But no one except Lucy knew that as the albatross circled the mast, it had whispered to her
and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s

~CS Lewis

My friend, listen for that small voice in those moments that you need to hear it.  In the car, in the pick up line, in the grocery store aisle, in the backyard.  When everything around you seems to be demanding more of you and when you might not know where the road might lead and when you question and doubt and are just plain tired…


And know that right here, in our little space right here, we are in this together.  As we go through our worlds and our lives raising these people, I say to you, “Me too.”

Because do you want to know something that I’ve learned along the way? One of the best ways to become stronger than you are is to invite others into your journey with you.

They carry you when you can’t find the strength and offer up words of love and truth when you are taking your brave steps.

So take that deep breath, gather your strength


You can do this.