The sun wakes up and so do they, one right after the other.  They start their day so I start mine and we begin it all as one.  We start the dance of the morning with the coloring and the cooking and the yelling and the forgiving and the exploring and the experimenting and the actual dancing.  Our dance goes back and forth and around again as we each figure out the rhythm that this day will need, that our hearts will require.

Two steps forward and one step back and this one better than the last.  Two steps forward and one step back and we step on each other’s toes.

We’re all figuring this out together, you see.  One is discovering and exploring her world and one is discovering and exploring her independence and I am discovering and exploring them and me and my identity and my game plan and us together all at the same time.

I didn’t know the dance moves before we hit the floor, you see.  How I wish I did.  Right/left/box step/jazz hands would have been so helpful as I learned how to move with you and around you and holding you and for you.

kids imitate parents

But none of this came with an instruction manual, none of this came with a trainer, none of this came with a users guide.  Sure there are those that have gone before and those that go beside and those that offer advice from the grocery store aisle.  But this is our dance.  And we need to find our rhythm and our own back-and-forth together.  These are our days, each as unique as the one before.

One is learning how to become hers more than mine and the other is a bundle of energy learning and growing, but still mine more than her own.  And then one is on the floor screaming while the other is scavenging in the pantry and one is back-talking while the other is running away from me.  And then one is saying no while the other is saying no too.  And then they both are heaps on the floor, too exhausted from learning how to live in this world.

And I improvise my moves to each of theirs.  I match their moves, sometimes a step ahead and sometimes lagging behind and sometimes too exhausted to anticipate the next.

kids imitate parents

And here is what I see, the most important part of it all: they too, are matching their moves to mine.  It took me this long to see it, this long to notice the high and heavy purpose I carry each and every day: I am duplicating myself in them.  They watch and they analyze and they mimic and they do as they see me do.  Each of us is learning how, together, all at the same time, to do this well.  How to be a mama and how to be a sister and how to be a 3-year-old and how to be a 1-year-old and how to passionately engage in our world and be our best selves.  And so they imitate the one they are around the most, they emulate what they see me do, what they hear me say.

Both my moves that should be imitated and my moves that should be forgotten, each of them and every single one is replicated in mini-me fashion right beneath my toes.

The little one, the one still even just learning her words, looks me right in the eyes and screams an emphatic NO.  The bigger one, the one who grabs my hand spontaneously as we cuddle on the couch, this one also yells STOP IT.  RIGHT NOW.  JUST STOP IT.  And I ask myself where she has heard that phrase before.  

And they play with their pretend phones, pushing buttons and talking emphatic, distracted as ever.  I look down with my computer on my lap and my phone open to Instagram.

And then the older says phrases like Daddy, you are my best boy and Thanks for coming to my rescue and You’re just the cutest, baby girl.  Maybe I do say kind things sometimes?

And then as we are running late and the morning has been difficult and I am trying to rush rush rush them out the door and they mirror my emotions and mimic my stress, escalating the day into a ticking time bomb, each of us frustrated with the other.

It has taken me this long to completely and fully and really realize that I am duplicating myself in them.  The good and the bad and the better and the worse and the gentle and the ugly, they are following my footsteps, they are mimicking what they see me do, how they hear me talk, how they watch us interact; they watch my every move.

kids imitate parents

And I ask myself: am I worth duplicating?  Are my actions and my words and my responses and my reactions worthy of multiplication?  Sometimes.  Not always.  And so we continue to practice.  I continue to take deep breaths and pause before speaking and freeze before I grab her arm too forcefully and think about the consequences and how I want them to speak to me and to others and to themselves.  I snuggle them and I hold them tight and I whisper love over their tired hearts all the live-long day.  I ask forgiveness and we make it right and we all swim in grace.

And we move on and begin each day anew.  Because everyday holds rhythms of its own and we do this dance.  And we figure it out together and they watch me and I watch them and we match each others moves.

And so my girls, thank you for getting in the way of me.  Thank you for being my mirror and shaking my pride and reminding me how very much I do not have it together.  Because we are works in progress.  Our dance might be clunky and graceful all at the same time, but it is ours.  Thank you for your grace and restoration and laughter and bear hugs and bringing so much clarity with your complexity.

I needed that.

Now let’s go dance.

what to do when gratitude is hard {free printable}

I do think it’s going to be okay.


Just not now.

We were having yet another conversation about the house and the boxes and the paycheck and the move and the girls and the season and the unexpectedness everywhere.  We were talking about the future and the hopes and the dreams and the job and the degree and the potential and the trust and the fear and the ground shaking beneath us.

But eventually, he said, I do think it’s going to be okay.

when gratitude is hard to see

Sometimes all I can see is the unsettled.  Sometimes I see our past trajectory and how very unintentionally we are the model of downward mobility.  Sometimes I see the 4 moves in 6 months, the living with my parents for 5 months, the boxes and the boxes and the boxes out of which we live.

And then we calculate what our tithe, what our 10%, would be this month.

And it is just so funny.  Like, actually, completely hilarious.  And we laugh at our situation until our sides hurt, until I grab his arm and repeat the number and we start laughing all over again.

And I say the line to Lane about how very unintentionally we are the model of downward mobility and we die all over again, laughing until we cry.

And my question is, what do you do when you wake up one day so sure of how it would play out, and you go to bed that night reeling from the change of story?  How do you walk when the loss and the doubt and the lonely and the bank account weigh you down?  What about the hard thanksgiving?  What do you do when you have to squint in order to see gratitude?

Especially in a season such as this.  When we are reminded to do our 30 day gratitude challenges, when we pin notes reminding us to give thanks, when the upcoming holiday is wrapped up in Thanksgiving.

Lane and I went to the Denver Art Museum on Saturday night.  We walked within architecture inspired, colors magnificent, creativity completely.  The colors and the pieces authentic and the story behind each and the inspiration profound.

And then we walked upon the Monet.  The real, the true, the actually his, the not-a-replica.  And the plaque describing the artist next to the painting said that Claude Monet would often paint the same subject over and over and over, returning to a scene to see if he would be able to gain a new perspective the more he looked.  To see if he could capture something new, something that he had missed the last time.

And it hits me, that is how to do these good and heavy and hard days.  That is how to see the grateful when all your eyes fall on is the hard.

You paint your scene again.  You look at what you painted the first time, you see what is true, you process the feelings.  But then you look again.  Visit your subject once more, see if you can capture something new, maybe there’s a perspective to see for the first time.

Because I can sit once and I can see the boxes and the moves and the unexpected story and the shaking ground and the downward mobility.

But I sit again and I paint my scene again, looking and hoping for something new, trying to capture a new angle on my setting.

And I see them.  The tackles and the giggles and the Mama Please! and the loud and the developing friendship and the constant and the pitter-patter of one learning to run and the leaps across the carpet of the dancer.

when gratitude is hard to see

I see health.  Safe, healthy, whole bodies with big appetites and bigger energy stores and good sleep and strong muscles and sturdy lungs that can take deep breaths after running to the pond down the street and back again.

I see food on our table and a roof over our head.

I see him.  The one whose side I stand by through all of this and who stands by mine.  And the ground shakes beneath us and the wind blows but our muscles grow stronger and stronger still.  And it is unknown and uncomfortable but we laugh at our meager tithe because really, what other option is there?

And these unshakable things remain.

The girls, him, the roof, the food.  And the faith on which we stand.  Always that.

And suddenly my scene looks so very different to my tired eyes and weary bones.  What amazing gifts we have been given.  Really, truly, so very much to be grateful for.

And so when your ground shakes and you have to squint in order to see the grateful and the season of Thanksgiving just feels too heavy to carry, paint your scene again.

See if you can capture something new, maybe there’s something that shimmers amongst the hard.

So go, friends, grab a paintbrush.

{also, because this is the season of gratitude, I created two free printables for y’all.  they are both 8×10’s- go ahead and click on each picture to access the printable, then print off the pdf.  Maybe in a frame on your Thanksgiving table?  Maybe pin up above your kitchen sink?  I am grateful for each of you!}

give thanks Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.45.24 PM

fun toddler learning activity & the tunes we dance to

Brennan is three years old but we don’t have her enrolled in Preschool yet.  We’ll do that next year.  I kind of really love hanging out with the kid and like our rhythm of life right now.  But I still try to incorporate “Learning Time” with her when I can just to work on some of that basic knowledge.

Also, we love to dance.  Find us in the car, in the playroom, in the kitchen while making dinner and we are having a dance party.  I even made a “Girls Dance Party” playlist to have on hand to turn on whenever we feel the urge to move it:

Roar : Katy Perry
Shake It Off : T Swift
Love Story : T Swift
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together : T Swift
Party In The USA : Miley Cyrus
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough : Marvin Gaye
We Built This City : Starship
Don’t Stop Believin’ : Journey

It is So. Good.

When we were playing yesterday I realized that I could incorporate both of these loves of ours into a Learning Time activity.

I call it “Shake it and Know it.” hah!

: Take blank pieces of paper and write whatever piece of info you want to work on that day.  We used numbers and different colored shapes, but letters would be fun too.

{p.s. OF COURSE she’s wearing her Cinderella shoes}

toddler learning activity

: We turned this into a bit of Craft Time too. As I drew the shapes, we talked about the shape and what color it is and then both of the girls colored them in for me. Aside from these two, which I colored, it is very obvious that I had helpers in the coloring aspect.

toddler learning activity

: Find your very favorite music to jam to

toddler learning activity

: Spread the pieces of paper throughout the room

toddler learning activity

: Turn on the music and shake your little hearts out.  At any given time, pause the music and call out a shape and they have to run to it and jump on it.  Celebrate if they got it right, direct to the right one if they couldn’t find it, and turn the music right back on and dance some more.  Pause, call out a number, dance, repeat.

We did this for probably a solid 45 minutes this morning.  Seriously.  It was so fun.  And it tuckered them out.  Win/Win.

beauty lessons from the princess

We got her special Cinderella shoes today.

Every single morning before she is even out of bed, she transforms into Cinderella.  She puts on her dress and only responds to Cinderella.

I’m NOT Brennan.  I’m CINDERELLA, she says.  And then spins.

She has never even seen the movie.  But something in her connects at a deep level to the princess in blue.

And when we were in Target this morning we walked by these oh-so-special shoes and she just had to have them.  She exclaimed: Mama!  My shoes!  

See, she remembered.  Six months ago, she wanted these very same shoes.  We were there to buy one single pair of practical summer shoes and she wanted the Cinderella shoes.  I said no.  She melted down in the most epic of proportions.  Falling to the floor, flailing as I tried to lift her in the cart, I was absolutely THAT mama with the screaming three-year-old that I am sure other people were judging for my sub-par parenting that day.

And when she saw them again today, I caved.  They are NOT practical.

But they are beautiful.

And you should see her transform when she puts these shoes on.  Combine it with her Cinderella dress-up dress and this girl could take on the world.

She donned her complete outfit today- dress, shoes, and a tiara.  She took a deep breath; the kind that requires her whole entire body… in… and out.  Then she raised her hands to her mouth and ran to the mirror.

MAMA!  It is just AMAZING.  MAMA.  I look T-Riffic.  {Because that is how you pronounce “terrific” when you are a three-year-old princess and can do anything you please.  T-riffic.  All the time.}

MAMA!  And she spins.  Deep breath.  A big smile into the mirror.  I just look amazing.

And then, out of sheer glee, she runs full-tilt into my arms, tackles me to the ground and gives me the biggest Princess Cinderella hug she possibly can.

And then she spins.

And I just watch her.  Laughing at her delight.  In awe of the beauty she sees in herself.

Because the thing is, she is absolutely GORGEOUS.  She just is.

And she knows it.  And she walks in it.  And she delights in her beauty.

She has never had any other messages tell her anything otherwise.  She has never had any reason to doubt her beauty, never questioned if she was good enough or pretty enough.

And then I think of me.  Constantly comparing, wishing, analyzing.  Lifting up my shirt just to see what my stomach looks like that day, making mental notes to eat more salads.

But she looks in the mirror and sighs with contentment I just look AMAZING.  

When did we lose that?  That ability to fearlessly be ourselves?  That ability to look in the mirror and say I LOVE IT!  Everything I see in that mirror is just T-Riffic.  

And so I am trying to fearlessly be myself.  To take a cue from my Brennan girl.  When I look in the mirror for my gut reaction to not be criticism or longings of If only… but instead to speak truth and beauty over myself and this body and to exclaim This Is Amazing!

Join me.  In ways big and little.  When you look in the mirror, tell yourself what you love about what you see.  Ask for your eyes to be opened to your beauty.  Anytime a thought that says otherwise enters your mind throw it far away.  Exchange it for truth.  Tell yourself You. Are. Amazing.  and tell yourself  You. Are. Beautiful.

Because of the joy and the sheer delight I see in my girl as she experiences her own beauty and her own life, I am going to change the story I am writing over my body and my mind.  I am going to turn the narrative from one of criticism to one of joy and acceptance and sheer glee.  I am going to delight in everything I see.

I might even do a spin.

this is my motherhood

It’s deep into the afternoon and I’m just now wiping away the smudged mascara from underneath my eyes that I awoke with at 6:15am.  I am still wearing the clothes that I haphazardly threw on when the crying in the monitor snapped me out of my half-sleep.

The Instagram pictures that I scroll across each day pass through my mind as I gaze at myself in the mirror- the dreamy, faded lighting, the trendy mama with the boho-chic clothing and kids running through the field of wildflowers.  It crosses my mind how very much I do not look like her.

This is my motherhood.  Is that hers?

Because I can’t keep up with that.  I just can’t.

My motherhood looks like loading and unloading dishes, loading and unloading children.  My motherhood is days that are precious and days that aren’t.  My motherhood is dreaming and praying and hoping and fearing and gathering up the ounces of my strength and the threads of my nerves.

My motherhood is kissing owes and blowing bubbles and building towers and chasing toddler-sized dreams.  It is talking about trees and stars and friends and how to be brave.

My motherhood is offering up my body in order to construct theirs.  It is flowing in and out of jeans that fit and jeans that don’t.  It is arguments with the mirror, assuring my heart to believe what my eyes don’t see- that my value and my worth and my purpose is bigger and greater and more than the size of my pants.  It is accepting the fact that my body is never going to be the same again- regardless of the number on the scale- that it has shifted and evolved and stretched and changed and that is okay.  Because it brought me them.

this is motherhood

My motherhood is always a little bit broken, altogether completely tied up in their little life, fracturing over sad hearts, big emotions, and not always getting it right.

My motherhood is out of balance, the scale either tipping towards peace or threatening insanity.  It is days that flow peaceful, embrace questions, assure love.  And it is the the very next moments’ tantrum, a blindsided public meltdown.  It is grace for the day and limping across the finish line.

My motherhood is settling into the knee-dropping humility that can only descend once you actually have children and realize I have no idea what I’m doing. I delve deeper into that assurance the more children I have.  This is all one giant experiment.  Trial and error and finding what works for one kid doesn’t work for another.  Realizing what fits perfectly within one family’s system feels clunky and forced within your own.

It is fighting to uncover the magnificent amidst the mundane, fighting the boredom, breaking up fights.

And so to the mama who:

Has one baby and is overwhelmed.
Has multiple babies and is still overwhelmed.
Struggles that your only tangible victory of the day was keeping tiny humans alive.
Works from home.
Works out of the home.
Keeps a tidy house.
Keeps a loud house.
Wipes booties.
Loses her temper.
Drinks wine at 4:00pm.

This is worth it.  It just is.

this is motherhood

this is motherhood

Don’t for one single second think you are not enough.  That your unseen work at 3:00am doesn’t matter.  That either going to work or staying home makes you Less Than.  That your busy Saturdays and your busy homework hours and your busy minutes from wake up to bedtime don’t add up to purpose.

You love your babies fiercely.

You are doing a good job.

And really.  I cannot let the Insta picture world we live in dictate how I feel about myself or my babies.  I cannot let the filtered and edited snapshot into their life be the lens through which I see my own.

What you do matters.

Your work counts.

this is motherhood

Whatever your motherhood looks like, whatever season you’re in.

Just go look at those little fingers and toes smudged with yogurt.

Even when you are still wearing yesterday’s makeup and this morning’s sweatpants.  Even when you feel like you don’t have it together.  Even when this requires more than you have to give.  Even when you are at the end of yourself.

I kind of think that is the point.

8 phrases that help me in my parenting

Lane and I have been laughing lately at my “mommyisms.”  See, there are a handful of phrases that I keep in my back pocket and use regularly as the right situation arrises.  They are phrases that I have either picked up along the way or have heard other mamas I respect use with their own kiddos.

I told Lane that having these phrases helps me because it just gives off the appearance that I actually know what I’m doing.

Which I don’t.  See, I don’t follow just one parenting philosophy and I’m sure I don’t get it right 100% of the time.  But being consistent helps, and having phrases that the girls know and expect helps.

Having these phrases floating around my head helps me as I deal with the multitude of situations these darling and demanding and exhausting girls present before me every single day.

Maybe even just one of them will help you too.

: How are you going to make it right?  
I love this one so much.  When one child hurts another or somehow wrongs another, I’ve never really been able to grasp making them walk up, say sorry, gain forgiveness, hug it out and then go on playing.  Don’t get me wrong, I have done this too- I just don’t know the life lessons it produces… it feels too forced and too much of a transaction.  (Any thoughts on this?? Would love to hear some perspective)

What I love about the How are you going to make this right phrasing is that it places responsibility back on the child.  They realize that they have to think through how to right the situation and participate in justice.

: Wait quietly with a happy heart.  
So many times we tell our children to behave a certain way without defining what that actually looks like.  This phrase is the definition of patience.  So instead of telling our girls to “be patient,” we tell them to wait quietly with a happy heart.  It gives action to a word, it tells them what is expected of them.

: Let’s try that again.  
If Brennan is melting down, being demanding, or just generally being a 3 year old, I tend to say: Let’s try that again.  Not an automatic time out; instead a means to give grace, show me that you can do it better.

: Turn that into a question please. 
So often I hear: I want some milk!  I want to watch a show! Instead of just giving them what they demand, we ask that they turn that phrase into a question.  Polite, respectful, loving. And even at my girls’ young ages, they know what to do and quickly rephrase: Can I have some milk please, Mama?

: May I please… 
Similar to above, this is how we train our kiddos to ask questions whether it is at the dinner table or to the waiter at a restaurant.  No demands here, respectful phrasing.

: Rather than saying no all the time, instead… Yes, when: 
Sometimes I feel like the guillotine: No!  Stop that!  Not now!  No, no no.  I want our kiddos to hear yes more than no as they grow up.  So even if it still is directing them to complete or act on a behavior (Yes you can go play outside when you finish putting away your toys), it is still a positive phrasing.

: You have some pretty big feelings right now, don’t you: 
This can encompass a variety of emotions: anger, frustration, sadness, complete and total melt-downs.  So often my immediate reaction is to shut them down, react to how they are acting, whether with a timeout or getting frustrated myself.  But that doesn’t connect with the child and what they are feeling, it isn’t a compassionate response, coming across as cold and inflexible.  Validating that they are having Big Feelings gives me a second to evaluate the situation before responding, but it also affirms to our kiddo that they are feeling sad or angry.  We don’t ignore the behavior, just connect with the child before correcting.  And then once they calm down we are actually able to teach them how to express feelings appropriately.

: That isn’t good for your special body, let’s have this instead 
As we have had Brennan’s wheat allergy officially diagnosed, we have had to remove a lot of foods out of her diet that she dearly loves.  She still asks to have bread or rolls, so this is the response we have landed on.  I like the phrasing of “your special body,” and then just redirect to something that she can enjoy.


because even now, i am still good

We lived comfortably.
Double income, no kids.
We shopped when we wanted, traveled where we wanted, went out to eat as often as we wanted.

The American dream, right?

We worked hard.
We lived comfortable.
But our eyes were closed.

And then, we sensed a shift.
Go on Young Life staff. Raise your own support. And by the way, it will reduce your income by 60%.

And by the way, I am still good.
I promise you, you will be fine.

And so we followed and we dug in deep and we planted our roots.

And then, we sensed a shift.
Reduce to Part-Time Staff. Go to seminary too. I’m doing things.

And by the way, I am still good.
I promise you, you will be fine.

And so we followed and we trusted.
I fought a little bit and cried a little bit and wavered a little bit.
But He was still good and we were still fine.

And then, we sensed a shift.
It’s time to move.
Again, it will reduce your salary by half.
Half of the part time salary, that is.

But by the way, I am still good.
I promise you, you will be fine.
See, I am doing things.

And again, we sensed a shift.
Lane sensed it first. I fought against this shift. I didn’t want to listen.
It involved our things. Our possessions.
I love our possessions.

Give away your belongings.
1/3 of your household.
See, I am doing things.
Lessen your load. Your heart is too tied up. You can’t hear me.
You don’t see others. You see yourself and what you want.
You don’t need all of those things.
They are just things.
You will be fine.
Give them away.
To that guy.
And her.
And flag down that neighbor.
And leave that bed with a Free sign in your front yard.
Don’t wait for Thanks.

I am doing things in your heart.
And we removed the noise from our home and by doing so removed the noise in our hearts.
And actually see people.

See, my love, I am doing things.
And I am good. And you are fine. And we are going to do things.

And once again, a shift.
I thought I was done with these movements.

Isn’t that enough? Haven’t we proven our faithfulness? That our steps will match yours?

I love you.

But here’s the thing.

That salary?

It’s not going to come in this month.
Take some breathing space.
What appears to be your destruction is actually for your good.
This space is a gift.
It is.
It feels like a wound.
But it isn’t going to harm you.

Because even now, I am still good.
And you will be fine.
I will fight for you.
Just be still.

DIY jewelry organizer

I don’t know about you, but I have tried so many different methods for organizing my necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.

I discovered a fairly frugal and crafty {and cute!} way to organize my jewelry and you might want to give it a try if you’re in need of a pretty way to display your jewelry.  I created it while I was watching a movie with Lane- it took about the whole time, though I was distracted. {We were watching 21 Jump Street… his choice… stupid… but I couldn’t stop laughing.}

Here is what you need:

: 1 white canvas {2 pack for $7.99 at Hobby Lobby which I used my 40% off coupon on = $2.40 for 1 canvas}
: Burlap of your choice {1/2 yard for $5.99/yard- 30% off on sale = $2.09 for 1/2 yard}
: Ribbon and string {this is ribbon I already had on hand- I found it does help if it has natural “holes” in it to hang the necklaces or earrings by}

DIY jewelry organizer

: Using a hot glue gun, pretty tautly glue the burlap around the edges of the canvas

DIY jewelry organizer

: Measure the length of ribbon that you need and glue it securely onto the back of your canvas

DIY jewelry organizer

: You will need breaks in your ribbon across the canvas, otherwise all of your jewelry will just fall to the center. Every few inches or so, secure your ribbon to the canvas with a dot of hot glue to create natural spaces for the jewelry

DIY jewelry organizer

: I actually just happened to have all of these flower embellishments around- some are broken tops of rings, some from previous art projects.  Those at the top I just added to be pretty, but the four across the ribbon are where I glued down the ribbon.

DIY jewelry organizer

: Add your jewelry wherever it fits!

DIY jewelry organizer

DIY jewelry organizer


If you need a little organization or if you want a little craft project to play with over the weekend, enjoy!

Hope you love it~

parenting is hard.

It’s all hard.
Every ounce of it.
The very nature of the situation demands everything you’ve got, even when you have nothing left to give.
They need you because they need you.
Their day deliriously rotates around princess dresses and train tracks and apple slices and board books. Their world does not stop spinning around them to consider if you might be dizzy.
And whether you are ready or not, whether you are put together or not, rested or not, happy or not, the sun will rise and so will they.

It is exhausting.  It just is.

I spent every minute of last night awake with her.  I held her, she writhed and wriggled.  She played and then she cried and then she screamed.  She did not sleep and neither did I and I was just so very tired.  But there were moments- in the quiet of the night, the still of the darkness, that she laid her head upon my shoulder and I felt her body relax into mine.  For a few minutes at a time she gave up the fight and we lay on the bed, tummy to tummy.  In the still of the night she became still.  And I breathed deep and watched her body rise with my inhalations, feeling the weight of her body and the whisper of her fingers upon my neck.

The brokenness of exhaustion.  The victory of peace.
It was good and hard.
It was both.

parenting is hard

When we brought our firstborn, Brennan, home from the hospital she had severe jaundice and had to spend the first week of her life on a bili-bed.  I couldn’t hold her except to nurse.  Our little glowworm slept next to us, lighting up the room.  It broke my mama heart.

It was hard.

And that passed and she grew and she kicked and she rolled over and she talked.  She held our very hearts in her hands.

It was good.

And then she learned independence and how to test limits.  We had to learn how to reinforce and redirect and consistently love.

It was hard.

We had Ellie when Brennan was 23 months old.  Nursing and potty training and sleepless nights and discipline and consistent love and sleepless nights and sleepless nights.

It was hard.

And I witness miracle every single day.  I see a new concept connect.  I know them and they know me.  We play and we laugh and we dance and we explore.  I inspire and I correct and I lose my temper and I learn and I train.

It is good.

And they have my whole entire heart.  Every waking breath and the half-sleep that I fall into each night is theirs.  I worry, I fear, I question decisions and actions and how much I am going to cost them in therapy down the road.

It is good and hard.

See, it’s easy to believe that good and hard are mutually exclusive.  That they are opposing forces, unable to be reconciled.

But time and time again, I see they are actually connected deeper than we think.

Just because something is good does not mean it is absent of hard.
Just because something is hard does not mean it is not good.

Feeling one does not negate the other.

Parenting is both.

parenting is hard

Raising these babies is absolutely hard.  It is absolutely exhausting.  It demands everything, absolutely.  Raising these babies is absolutely good.  It is absolutely a gift.

It is fiercely worthwhile.

It’s okay to admit that it is hard- because it is.
It’s okay to admit that you are barely making it through the day and haven’t showered in three and it is exhausting- because it is.
It’s okay to admit that your babies are a gift- because they are.
It’s okay to admit that you treasure being with them- because it is the best.
Just because you feel one doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel the other and that your struggle lessons the ferocity of your love.

They are wonderful until they are not.
You have it together until you don’t.

parenting is hard

Every ounce of parenting is hard.

But also, also- every ounce of parenting is good and every ounce of ourselves that we pour out over them is worth the empty. Just because something demands a sacrifice doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.

It is good and it is hard. It always will be, every single season of parenting. It is a sacrifice and it is worth it. Really. We pour ourselves out to fill them up and see love and brave and power and creativity rise within their very hearts. It is good and it is hard. They are demanding and they are a gift.

It seems that good and hard don’t belong together.
But they do.
It seems that love shouldn’t require such strength.
But it does.

A relationship that carries and builds and gives and soothes and speaks peace and holds dreams and restores hope and inspires creativity and loves even when it’s hard…

It is exactly what love looks like.

the most darling craft {and a wonderful gift idea}

I spent our rainy Colorado day crafting my little heart away.  The girls either fought, or wrestled, or ate Pirate’s Booty, or watched Caillou.  But they survived, and I crafted.

I call today a Win.

Friends, just LOOK at that darling pile of shabby picture frame goodness.  I made the soft pink/blue flower frames for the room that the girls will {eventually…} share.  And for me, I am just a neutrals gal with a fondness for all things gold, so went ahead and made more frames to sprinkle throughout the rest of our home.

I’m going to show you how to make them.  They are super easy.  And frugal.  Very Easy.  Very Frugal.  Spread the love.

quilt top frame tutorial

: Either make a stop at the Dollar Store or raid your boxes and find old frames that you have lying around.

quilt top frame tutorial

: Take the back and the glass out of the frames. {I had a darling little helper}

quilt top frame tutorial

: Find fabric that you love. Either raid your scraps stash or visit a fabric store and use their coupon.

quilt top frame tutorial

quilt top frame tutorial

: Cut your fabric into strips of ribbon about 1″ wide.  I only needed about 20 for my 8×10 frames so you don’t need to go too crazy cutting lots of strips.

quilt top frame tutorial

: Using a hot glue gun, wrap your strips around the frame, putting dots of glue on the back as you wrap.

quilt top frame tutorial

: The 8×10’s only took me 25 minutes from start to finish. {cutting my strips of fabric to wrapping the yarn around.}  I finished the smaller ones in closer to 5 or 10.  They really are easy.  And look at how cute they turn out!

quilt top frame tutorial

quilt top frame tutorial

quilt top frame tutorial

So now, think big picture: can you even imagine how cute these would be with some vintage Christmas fabric and given out to teachers as Christmas presents?  Or with soft blues or pinks with a pregnancy photo to go in a new nursery?  With wedding colors to showcase wedding photos?  Really, the possibilities are endless.

Hope you love them as much as I do!

This idea came from this blog. I wanted to give y’all a more detailed tutorial though after I discovered how much I love them!

Take care, my friends.  Hope y’all enjoy your weekend!


making the switch to gluten free. {GF cookie recipe}

I took Brennan into a specialist last week to have her tested for allergies.  I explained what I have witnessed and what I suspect to our doctor and said: I don’t want to make gluten the bad guy if he’s not our bad guy, BUT I have been watching her for 3 years and there are just way too many consistencies with what she eats and how her body responds for me to think it might be something else.

Our doctor confirmed what I have suspected for 3 years: she has a wheat allergy.

It honestly, thankfully, won’t be that difficult to transition to a wheat-free lifestyle for us because we tend to eat on the paleo/gluten-free spectrum anyway, I just feel so much more empowered knowing what is going on with my baby.  Also… I think that most of the time, mamas just have that 6th sense.  It is so encouraging to have what I suspected be proven true… I wasn’t just going crazy!

All that to say, we’re officially going gluten-free over here.  Her allergy isn’t life-threatening, however it is best to keep wheat away from her system.

All of THAT to say, I’ve been doing some wheat-free baking.  It has turned out delicious and it’s nice knowing we don’t have to totally deprive ourselves if flour can’t be in the house.

If you’re gluten free, or would like to dabble in the world of paleo baking, OR even if you have zero interest in gluten-free anything, this is a delicious cookie recipe no matter where you fall on the food spectrum.  My dad loves them and has had them for dessert the last three nights.  {did you know we are STILL living with my parents?  yep.  since mid July.}

AB cookies


: 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
: 1/2 cup almond butter
: 3/4 cup brown sugar
: 1 egg
: 1 1/4 cup almond flour
: 1/2 cup walnuts
: 1/2 teaspoon salt
: 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
: 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
: 3/4 cup chocolate chips

* preheat oven to 350
* pulse walnuts in a food processor until the texture of coarse sand
* Mix coconut oil, almond butter, brown sugar, eggs, and walnuts in a medium bowl
* In a separate small bowl, mix almond flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Add to wet ingredients.
* Add chocolate chips
* Make 1″ balls of dough on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes
* Let cool on a baking sheet before moving to a wire rack.
* enjoy~!

ab 2 cookies

this is The Paleo Mom’s recipe.  Read her full post on it here.

when love expands

I didn’t want to leave you.

I knew you would cry, I knew I would cry, I knew ripping off the band-aid and walking out that door would hurt.

I ugly-cried when we got in the car, assuring your Daddy through the tears that I did, in fact, want to be with him.

But see, my girls, I love you so.

But the thing is, I love your Daddy too.

Is that possible?  To be so completely enamored with all of you?

On the day that I married your Daddy, I thought that my heart and my world were at capacity; it was impossible to grow.  Should I try to force it to contain any more love, I would burst.

But my love expanded.

You, my first girl, were born.  You my girl, with a passion and a love and a curiosity and a thirst for adventure that reverberates throughout your every word and your every inch.

And again, I worried- what if all of my love is taken up?  Will I ever, possibly love another as much as I adore my firstborn?

And my love expanded.

Because you were born; you, my second girl that oozes joy and spins and flirts and cuddles and blows kisses with reckless abandon.

And I learned that I don’t have to split my love between the three of you, breaking off pieces of me to go around.

Somehow rather than having to divide my heart, it is an act of sacred multiplication: my love increases.

You don’t understand this now, your sweet little world ever-rotating around you just as it should right now, but I actually have multiple identities.  Yes, I am your Mama.  And you are my world.

taking care of your children

But also, also I am Daddy’s wife.  And he is my rock.  Do you sometimes notice when we hug?  Do you sometimes see that as you dance around him when he walks in the door from work that he kisses me before he kisses you?

Sometimes, yes, he kisses you first, and that is okay with me; I want you to know and feel and grasp what it is like to be completely adored.  Adored completely.  I want you to know and feel the safety of your Daddy’s arms, to sit in the embrace of absolute acceptance, just as you are, tattered princess dress and dirt smeared across your face.

If you pay attention to it though, my loves, you will see Daddy catch my eye as he is tackled to the ground by the two of you.  If you turn your ear, listen to the rhythm just below the laughter as it cascades down your sides, you will hear him say Hey Babe.  You doing good?

It is me and it is him and it is both of you girls.  It is us.

taking care of your children

But see, this little family of ours began as just your Daddy and I.  And then you two girls arrived like flashes of lightening, casting light upon everything we thought we already knew.

I thought that my heart and my life were full, were whole, were right there in front of me.  I thought my heart was an ocean, wide and deep, but it really is the river that fills the ocean- a rushing force, cascading and laughing and never-ending.

And so know that even on those days when it seems like I am depleted and have nothing more to give, my love flows from waters that never dry up.

And you need me right now, and I need you.  And I dig in and memorize your ten little toes because soon enough they are going to be dashing out to the high school football game.  And I hold your hands, kissing your ears and squeezing your sides because all too soon you will brush me away, glancing to see if any of your friends noticed.  I let you fall asleep in my arms, breathing in deep your exhaustion.  See, my girls, I delight in you.

I’m not always going to get it right.  I am so very exhausted, so very doubt-filled, most of the time.  I worry about you, I worry about us- the decisions we make and the impact it will have on our family.  You know the days I talk about- the ones where we just don’t see eye-to-eye, my temper throbs just below the surface, and Big Feelings spill onto every corner of every room.

But see, your Daddy and I are doing our very best with the two of you.  How terrifying, how exhilarating to love something so completely, to be responsible with guarding your lives and building your hearts.  So we pray a whole lot.  And we seek guidance a whole lot.  And we build forts and we read books and we kiss owes and we go on nature hikes and we eat ice cream with spoons right out of the container because we love you so, and what better way to show that than bear hugs and empty ice cream bowls?

But also, also, the way we are loving you so and protecting your hearts and doing our very best with you?  It is loving each other.  It is fighting for our marriage.

And that looks different ways, my loves.  Sometimes all you will notice is your Daddy and I catching eyes and squeezing an elbow as we cross paths, each putting out the fires that flare up with you toddlers like a wrong dress choice or tossed dinner on the floor.  Sometimes, all you will hear is an encouragement tossed over to the others’ court: You’re doing good, or even Nailed It.  Sometimes, you won’t be there to see it because the only seconds with each other we can steal is a 9pm glass of wine on the front porch as we debrief our overflowing days.

But sometimes, oh-so-rarely, like we just did, your Daddy and I will go on a getaway together.  We will put you in the safest and most loving of care, and we will say goodbye to you- But I promise you this, we will return to you and we will miss you every single second.  And though I know you don’t understand this right now, it might not be until you are a wife and until you are a mother… but by taking care of our marriage, we are taking care of you.  I promise.

taking care of your children and marriage

One day, we will sit across the table from each other, maybe drinking coffee, and you’ll share with me that you have found your husband.  And I will watch you delight in love, and I will watch you stand in the assurance that you couldn’t possibly ever love anyone more than you do in that moment.

But, my girl, you don’t need to worry about having enough love to go around.  You will discover a heart that grows in correlation with the amount of love that you need to dispense.  You will feel the cascading, overpowering love that holds you through the rapids and steadies you through the canyons.  You will experience the divine multiplication that occurs when the more of yourself you give away, the more you have.

And I will stand right there beside you, holding your Daddy’s hand.

yes, even then, love unfailing.

{day 7 of our {hello}world series.  click here to see all posts in the challenge}

I’ve become a seeker of the mountains.
The mountains that rise, strong and brave and secure.
I’ve become a chaser of the hills.
The hills that are steady and sure.
It is there that I find rest.
It is there that my soul is quieted and it is there that I find my footing.
My feet tread the high places.
The mountains, unchanging. The hills, consistent.

It is best in the early morning, when the world is still quiet, the light stretching inch by inch across the rolling canvas of colors below, waking creation with a whisper.

even then, love unfailing

Because light always drives out dark.  Slowly and slower still, and then suddenly- it is day.

It’s as if I shake the dust from my eyes, squinting after a long nights sleep as the world comes back into focus.

My heart still feels the groaning of creation, of this heavy and hurting world- dark headlines and scary truth and unexpected sobering reality.

Looking west to the mountains has been my one consistent when all else feels so inconsistent and so unknown.

even then, love unfailing

And that is why Isaiah 54:10 held me with such force today.

Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Another translation proclaims- Even if the mountains heave up, I will not desert you… you can rely on my enduring love.

The first part of that verse stirs so much in me…

Though you have asked so much of us and all is so unknown…
Though I feel forgotten…
Though I sense such big dreams, unrealized…
Though we have stepped out in such faith…
Though we have such visions for our family…
Though we grieve…

Though it feels the world across is breaking…
Though there is so much heartache…
Though we cannot escape darkness and war…
Though there are so, so many hurting and helpless…
Though there are so many searching for dignity…
Though daily, I long for your movement the world across…

I can rely on your enduring love.

Even if those mountains, that are my hiding place, were to heave up.  Even if those hills, that are my refuge, were to shake.

Even then, you will not desert us.
Even then, you are with us.

Even the mountains are feeble.  Even the hills can shake.  The one consistent is His love.

Is there a list that you need to make today?

Do you need a reminder that…even then…His love unfailing and His compassion unending is with you?

Though that phone call rocked your very core…
Though there is such a deep sadness…
Though your child is wandering…
Though the appointment didn’t go as expected…
Though the baby cries All. Day. Long…
Though money is tight…
Though the job search is unending…
Though you were betrayed…
Though you are so, so, very exhausted…

Yes, even then.  We can rely on love enduring.

even then, love unfailing

So today, go make your list.  Write what you know, even if it stings.  Those spaces that feel the most looked over, the most restless, the most unrealized.  And tell Him.  And ask Him to remind you of that second part of the verse… even then, He is with us.

what heights of love

{click here to download the -free- heights of love printable} {8×10}

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i think i’m going to be brave today

Right around the time she turned 23 months old, my Brennan developed a healthy fear of elevators.  Maybe it was the enclosed spaces, maybe it was the feeling of weightlessness that occurs right as you reach your floor, maybe it was that one of the first times she was ever required to ride one was when my mom brought her up to the 5th floor of the hospital where, in the maternity ward, her Daddy and I eagerly waited with her newborn baby sister, ready to introduce the sure-to-be best friends.  A little too much of a world-rocking event projected into the closing of the elevator doors, perhaps?

Either way, from that moment forward, the closing of the doors was met with screams of terror.  When there wasn’t screaming, there was clawing up our legs, lifting high off the ground until she was safely in our arms.  Ellie in one arm, Brennan in the other, myself feeling like SuperMom with biceps of steel carrying my two girls while navigating the changing balance of an elevator.

A little after she changed from simply three years old to the oh-so-noteworthy Three-And-A-Half, once again we were riding in an elevator, and once again the fear struck.  Now, with her baby sister requiring more of my strength and effort, the happy compromise that we had reached in our Conquering Of The Elevator was for me to hold Ellie on my hip and Brennan to stand on my feet, clinging to my waist with her hands.  I heard her take her Deep Breaths that we use when we need to see things more clearly, but still she clung.

And then…


Yes, Baby?

I think I’m going to be brave today.

And just as sure as she made her declaration, she hopped off of my feet and rode that elevator with all the Brave she could assemble.

The Brave gathered around her, building the fortress, calling in the reinforcements.  I could see their strength rise.

She even did a happy dance when we exited the elevator, celebrating her Brave that was now coursing through her veins.

“Mama?” she had said, “I think I’m going to be brave today.”

brave today

What if we, too, declare I think I’m going to be brave today.

It doesn’t have to be: Brave for All The Things, or Brave for the entire week, or Brave until our kids graduate high school.

It is just I think I’m going to be brave today.

And then be brave today.
And then be brave tomorrow.
And then be brave for tomorrow’s tomorrow.

What is it that you need to be brave about today?

Have you been dreaming of taking a leap of faith?
Do you want to apply to that job?
Do you long to submit that project?
Was it simply waking up this morning that summoned all of your Brave?
Do you need to have a Hard Conversation?
Do you want to follow the stirring in your heart to Start Something New?

What stirs your soul?  What, in the heart of your hearts, sings the loudest in the quiet?  What is it that makes your heart sing?

Find that and you will tap into a deep well that will spring forth hope and purpose and joy.

Even if that thing requires a bit of brave.  Even if that thing requires a bit of a leap of faith.

So go.

Do That Thing that stirs your soul.

Go Be brave.

Take a note from my Brennan girl and declare I think I’m going to be brave today.  You even have my permission to do a happy dance afterwards.

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making marriage a priority

Today is the day I send him to war.

We didn’t set an alarm that morning.  He didn’t need to be at his office until four in the afternoon, so in honor of the heaviness of that day, we allowed ourselves to rest and let our bodies naturally wake us up.  We had fallen asleep the night before wrapped up in each other and as I awoke, I immediately kicked my leg over to the other side of the bed to make sure that my nightmare had not already started.

He’s still there.

My stomach felt uneasy, my pulse quickening with each passing moment, but I could not get out of our bed.  It was the last morning we had together.  So I nestled up into him and breathed his scent in deeply.

Today I send him to war.

I fought back the thoughts threatening to overtake me.  I will have plenty of time to miss him.  In this moment, be present and soak up every second you have left.

Fast-forward two years of goodbyes unending and fear constantly threatening:

All of the tension, disappointment, and hurt that had been sitting on the back burner came roaring to the forefront.  Our words in the car migrated from polite to accusatory:

Why didn’t you tell me this?
How could you think it was okay to…?
You always act like you’re better than me.
It’s always my fault. I’m never going to be good enough for you.
You have to leave again?

Through the tension in the car, I uttered the most hurtful thing that I have ever said to Lane: “I can understand why women whose husbands are in the Army cheat on their husbands.”

Would I ever, ever, ever cheat on Lane?  NO.  Ever.  It was more a statement that resonates with the loneliness that results from frequently being left behind, the lack of communication between spouses, and the desire to fill that void elsewhere.  I would never do it… but I understand it.

Fast-forward once again to now {nearly} 10 years of marriage, two babies, 12 {yes, TWELVE} moves, and a heap of big conversations and fun memories.

fighting for your marriage

When I tell you that we have seen our share of life together, we have.  When I tell you that we have been through the ringer together, we have.  When I tell you we have learned so, so much and are still learning so, so much… that is true too.

But fought-for love is sometimes the very best kind of love.  Intentional, taken-seriously, silly love that oozes grace and transparency and joy is sometimes a battle won.

Because really, we all just want to be loved.

fighting for your marriage

How easy it is for months {and months…} to pass before we realize that we are due for time together.  How easy it is for us to skip a date to save money.  Really, easier than you think, you can wander into Really Good Roommate territory.

What if we still treated our marriages the way we did when we were dating?  What if we still pursued each other with the tenacity that we felt before we said I do?  What would marriage look like then?  

What if we still courted, long after the guests had left and the flowers were taken down.  What if we still dated in the first year of marriage as well as in the 48th.

What if that is how we make our marriage a priority.  To still treat it with the love and care and intentionality that we did in those very first days.

When home is healthy and good, the rest of the pieces to the puzzle fall together with a bit more ease.  When you have fought for this so very important relationship and those curveballs of life come blaring into your world, they are so much more hittable when you’re swinging from a united front.

Be silly together.
Surprise them with a special dinner at home for no reason at all.
Write them notes and leave them in the car before work.
Go on a walk.
Find a surprise present.
Keep a gratitude journal about them.
Ask them questions about their day.
Kiss them before you kiss the kids when you walk inside from work.
Don’t turn on the tv until you’ve asked how their day was.
Don’t turn on the tv at all and play games together instead.
Go to an ice cream shop.
Reminisce on what it was like before you were married.

We’re getting ready to go on a trip just the two of us, minus the babies.  I am in a constant tug-of-war about wanting to go on such an amazing vacation with Lane and the guilt over leaving my children.  I will miss them dearly.  BUT, I know that paying attention to the Wife will make me a better Mama.  I know that for Lane and I to have a loving, committed, good, and fun relationship together will speak safe and love over our children.  We’re making it count.

It is worth it.

So today- go on… ask your spouse out on a date. ;)


{click here to download the –how beautiful– free printable} {4×6}

{day 5 of our {hello}world challenge.  click here to see all the posts & freebies}

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day 4: rhythms and routines and organizing it all

{on day 4 of {hello}world.  click here to see all of the posts so far on the {hello}world page}

Now we are officially into the school year.  The slow, yet chaotic, pace of summer has settled into the rhythm and routine of school days and structured schedules.

This determined flow of our days adds {sometimes} craved structure and {possible} routine to our minutes.

Because structure is good, because organization is good, because routine is good, this is where we sit today.

My minutes get away from me all too easily.  My tendency is to free-spirit it through the week and learn/do/act as I go.

But people need to be fed, groceries need to be bought, homes need to be cared for.

weekly planner

And so with the newness and fresh start that September rolls in with the crisp air, I take advantage of the familiar habits it calls me into.

Along with the unforced rhythms of life, I need routines.  And I need to be organized in it all.

I have developed some items that I use to help me fall into those habits and create the space and rhythms and the routines to make life work.

Because sometimes, digging into our days is about embracing the moment, going on adventures, and playing.

But also, equally importantly, leaning into these days is about navigation.  It’s about where to go, what to feed when, it’s about remembering someone needs to get picked up or sending that birthday present in the mail, it’s about what needs cleaning and what needs folding.  Leaning in to our days and embracing moments is a bit easier when we don’t feel completely overwhelmed and swamped with life.

birthday calendar

Here’s to less overwhelmed, more control.  Less in-over-our-heads, more rhythm to our weeks.

{click here to download the weekly planner printable}

{click here to download the birthday calendar printable}

day 3: how playing with our girl changed our family

{for a glimpse into what this September challenge is about, click here}

For 30 minutes a day, my Brennan girl is the leader.  She is the queen, she is the ruler, she holds the power.

For a certain amount of time each day, we play.  This time is unplugged, mama’s not scrolling through her phone, the computer is closed, there is no recording of groceries needed that week, no folding laundry and multi-tasking.

There is only focused, unplugged, unstructured play.

It is fascinating to watch.  My girl transforms.  She has my entire, complete, absolute undivided attention and she senses it.  She knows the difference between this time and the rest of the moments in our entire day and she works it.

It gives her a foothold on which to stand.  She flourishes before my eyes.  Suddenly, she is empowered; suddenly, her love tank is full.

She guides us to her castle {which she designed and I built out of sheets, pillows, and chairs}, and only responds to Queen Brennan.  She does my hair, she tells me we need to toss the ball, we move to the art table and color, we change Barbie’s outfit, we then need to read a book, we ride her scooter outside.  She leads me back downstairs, back to her castle, and she prepares a snack for me- dominos assembled on a miniature Minnie plate.

And though this kind of play was specifically designed because of some difficulties we were having, any child could feel love and affection and empowerment through it.

playing with your children

And really, this season that we went through with her this summer broke my heart.  Gosh, the tears I shed over our girl.  We had lost her for a little bit.  But friends, PLAY brought her back to us.  We PLAYED with her, we fought for her heart, and we got her back.

Oh, the wonder of play.  Oh, the magic of an undivided heart.  Oh, the gift of laughter.

: For 15 minutes, have a tickle fight
: Dump out the legos and have a tower building competition
: Break out the crayons, the paint, and the colored pencils and have craft time- together
: Take all of the pillows off of the couches and jump onto them
: Take whipped cream and “paint”
: Play hide and go seek, narrating every move and exaggerating how difficult it is to find them
Toddler play {click link for ideas!}
: Play their favorite board game- Memory, Candy Land, Zingo- whatever it is that they love, play it
: Turn on the music and have a dance party
: Go outside and make mud pies
: Throw a ball and play fetch… with your kid. It’s hilarious how much they love this
: Turn bowls into a drum set and let them bang away

If we’re honest with ourselves, we would maybe rather be doing something other than uninterrupted, undivided, unswerving play.  Maybe we’d rather be napping, or reading, or running, or writing, or being productive in some form.  I completely get that.  But really, truly, this is productive time.  Really, this speaks so much special over your child, you will see the markings of a child who feels heard and valued, a child well loved.

playing with your children

Put down the vacuum, put down the phone, put down the to-do list.  We are raising tiny humans.  They don’t get in the way of what we need to accomplish that day.  As opposed to how some days feel, they actually are not out to get us and thwart all of our plans.  They simply crave attention, they simply need love.

So let’s carve out time for our kiddos.  Yes you can set the timer, and no it doesn’t have to be that long.  But I assure you, it will fill them with love.  I assure you, it will help you lean in to your days and your world and your family and be in the moment.  I assure you, it will speak to their heart.

I’m getting to know my kids in such a deeper way by sitting and playing, listening and laughing.  And surprise of surprises, I even have a little bit of fun.

For an incredible article on playing with children, read this:
Playing with Your Child: Games for Connection and Emotional Intelligence

And because I love you guys just so darn much, here is your printable for the day!

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.09.37 PM

{click right here to print off this pdf!} {it’s a 4×4}

enjoy, my friends.

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day 2: greet your morning

{day 2 of our {hello}world challenge.  for the intro click here, or for day 1, click here}

If I am to hold tightly to my days, if I am actually going to Do. This Thing. then I need to have a healthy rhythm to my days.  I need to be operating from a place of wholeness, a place of peace.

All too easily the schedule fills up, the to-do list trumps all, and we run from item to item, from event to event.

But that just leads to burnout.  That just leads to weary.

Some of this challenge is about adventure and fun and living daringly.  But really, a significant element to {hello}world is operating from a place of wholeness and health so that we can live a full life.

What does it mean to restore?  How do we actually get to that place of wholeness?

Here’s what I want you to do: fight with every ounce of your being that today’s challenge might not be One More Thing on your to-do list.  Resist the urge to dismiss this out of impracticality.

Today, my friends, is life-giving.  Today just might become your very favorite part of {hello}world because of how much it restores you.

Here is the goal: greet your morning.

greet your morning

For one single week, I challenge you to wake up early.  You pick the time, as the rhythms of your house dictate, but wake up before the rest of your crew.

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 just begun.  Wake up during those hours.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit down with your bible, grab a journal and notebook.  Or maybe put on work-out clothes and start your day with movement.  Do something that is life-giving to you.

And start your day on your own terms, start your day with peace.

rise pic

This is about you.  This is not about perfection, it’s not about competition, it’s not about doing it “the right way.”  AND, let’s note: {There is ABSOLUTE grace here if your season of life deems this utterly impossible and exhausting… the heart is really to have open space for yourself, however that looks in your world right now.}

This is about restoration.  Daily.

This is about rejuvenation.  Healing.

This is about creating space for our own hearts in our oh-so-busy lives.

This is about being proactive in our world, not reacting to the crazy that inevitably takes over mornings.

When I wake up when the earth is still sleepy and my house is still quiet, my days seem to go much more smoothly.  Not easier, not perfectly, but more smoothly.  I start the day whole, rather than pieced together from the rattling of baby monitors, half-drank coffee, and thrown on sweat pants.

There is an element of control that I regain.  There is an element of peace that sweeps over my heart.  There is an element of wholeness that is able to flow from me into my home.

I am able to practice grace and gratitude.

I practice sitting in the quiet spaces.

I listen.

I read Jesus Calling.  Or my Celtic Daily Prayer book.


I sit.

I play some of my favorite worship songs, like this one.

and this one.

or this one.

or this one.

And because there is no formula to greeting our mornings, I think about what I need to accomplish that day, I think about what we’re eating for dinner, I think about who I need to call, I get breakfast ready. {on Day 4 of {hello}world I have some fantastic organization tools for you to use… stay tuned.}

And then I hear them slowly and sleepily wake up and rise the house.

And it is okay.  Because I have already greeted my morning.  I have thought through the day and gotten organized.  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 life-giving.  It is restoring.  It is energizing.

You just might love it enough to make it a habit.

But try it for one single week.

Just test me and see if it helps you tackle your days and take on your world.  I so hope it does.

Today’s printable is an open-ended one.  Fill it in with that day’s to-do list.  Write in a verse and tape it on your bathroom mirror.  Write out a note to your kids.  Use it as a meal planner.  Free write.  Doodle in the quiet.  Let it be for you to determine how you use it in your beautiful quiet place.

rise pdf pic


{it’s not too late to join in with us for this September challenge… to get our {hello}world challenge & my set of 10 verse cards delivered to your inbox, just sign up below}


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day 1: break out of the typical and go on an adventure

{We’re going through a series called {hello}world in which we explore ways to pay attention and act on our moments.  For the introduction to what this is all about click here}

What would happen if a day begins the way all days begin… You roll out of bed, they roll out of bed, you pour the cereal, pour your coffee.

What if this day begins like all of the rest… but then what if it changes?

What would happen if what they expected… transformed?

See, there is this thing about new that breaths life into a relationship, into a day, into a season.

Getting out of the typical, sparking creativity, being open to an unplanned schedule can do wonders to a spirit.  I even just read an article that stated research is showing that experiences tend to make people happier than material possessions. 

We had been in one of our zones.  A comfortable zone.  A trend in which most of our days looked the same, me not being willing to sacrifice the predictability we had conveniently fallen into.

But I wanted something new.  I wanted to step out of comfort.  I wanted to give the girls fun.  I wanted to give them adventure.  Granted, “adventure” to a 1 and a 3 year old is much different than for say, a 5 and a 7 year old… but the heart of adventure stays the same.  It’s an extraordinary experience.  It’s something bold.  It’s something when you don’t know the outcome.

And going on adventures is just plain fun.

go on an adventure

We talk about going on adventures constantly in our home.  We talk about being brave in our home, willing to embrace imagination and creativity, and stepping into life even when it might be a bit uncertain.  We want our kids to be able to handle the unknown as well as the known.  We want our kids to know they are brave, they are powerful, they are loved.

So this day of ours, we woke up, made pancakes, drank coffee.

And then, at just the right moment, we told our Brennan girl to get changed: We’re going on an adventure today!

Immediately, her eyes lit up: We are?!?

So we packed a picnic lunch, donned our adventure clothes, and set off in the car with no clear directions of where we were going- only open time, giddy hearts, and willing bodies.  We ended up at a favorite mountain park, comparing twisty slides to tall & straight slides, competing in skipping competitions through the field, hiking up to a lake and conducting rock throwing contests in the water.  Then we sat down and as the girls dug through the dirt with one hand, they ate their lunch with the other.

What a good, good day.

go on an adventure

Something happens when we give an entire day, or a half a day, or an hour to unstructured time.  When we allow our imagination to dictate what happens next, jumping from fun to brave to boredom to creativity.

Something inside of us comes alive in a way different than the rest of the day at the experience of adventure.

Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring a spirituality of creation, keeping us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always exceeds our calculation, that is always beyond anything we can make

Eugene Peterson

So for our first day of {hello}world, I challenge you to open up a day, embrace the unknown, and go on an adventure together.  I bet it will be a good, good day.  I would love to hear what you do!

Follow where inspiration strikes, where fun and creativity lead.  Or, use one of these ideas.

: go on a nature scavenger hunt

nature scavenger hunt

: go on a city scavenger hunt. {the rules: OPTION 1- as a family.  The family breaks up into two cars (mom driving one car and dad driving the other.)  The two cars agree on a fun place to meet at the end… froyo, a city park, etc.  Safely, each car tries to check off as many as possible items to find.  The first car to complete their scavenger hunt and arrive at the location wins and gets to decide what the family orders!  OPTION 2- One car goes out on the hunt.  Each person in the car gets a sheet.  The first person to complete their city scavenger hunt sheet wins and gets to decide the reward.}

city scavenger hunt

::: click here for the city scavenger hunt pdf to download and print off :::

: slide-bys {Load into your car.  Explain that you have 1 hour to test out all of the slides in your city.  Drive up to a park, have the kids run out of the car and slide down the slides as quickly as possible.  Run back to the car, and drive to the next park.  Have a sheet that they can rank how much they liked the slide on a scale from 1-10.  Find the best slide in the city.}

: outfit competition {Everyone gets $5 to come up with the best outfit (most outrageous, most creative, funniest, most colorful…)  Wear it to family dinner that night.

: taste test {get an ice cream cone from McDonald’s and froyo from another store and have a blind tasting competition}

: go to your nearest lake and see who can find the best skipping stone

: go on a hike, or a walk, and count how many bugs you can find

: buy a disposable camera. {visit downtown, tell your kids to take as many pictures as they want; see the world through their eyes}

: find the biggest hill in your city and roll down it

: go to a park and have a cartwheel competition

~ as helen keller said: life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all ~

life is a daring adventure

::: to download the above {free} printable, just click here and print it out :::

And above all, friends, have so much fun with your people!

to get the {hello}world challenge delivered right to your inbox so that you don’t miss one of our days, fill in the form below!  you will also have access to my set of 10 4×4 printable verse cards


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{hello}world: a challenge to embrace our days

We hear the voices telling us to “enjoy this.”  People near and far will step in and nudge us with a reminder: It goes so quickly… make sure you enjoy this time.  And while in our heart of hearts we know that’s true- time works on its own schedule, speeding up when we want it to slow down and crawling by when we need it to fly- sometimes the sentiment is lost within the moment.  But once we settle in to the statement… enjoy this… it is turned and folded to form a new word.

What if what is really within enjoy the moment is EMBRACE the moment.  Because time does go so quickly.  Moments are fleeting.  The difficult as well as the good ones.  But in the midst of the meltdowns, the public displays of defiance, the ornery and the power-struggle and the can-I-really-go-another-day questions that flash… in the midst of those are still moments.  And standing right next to those moments, are the ones saturated in love and curiosity and creativity and wonder.


And moments have this way of moving.  They tick and they flash and they creep by.  Every single one of them.  These moments are going to happen whether we want them to or not, whether we are ready for them or not.

So let’s focus on them.

Some will be easier to embrace than others, some will sting more than others, some will be sweeter than others, but every single one of them are moments that are ours to lean into.  To grasp, to hold.

Because something shifts in an embrace.  It’s a bit of a vulnerable act.  But it is also an act of bravery.  Don’t those go hand in hand?  Leaning in, digging deep, focusing on every moment even if there are a few thorns. Brave is embracing our moments and agreeing that this one… this one right here, is the one they speak of when they say “Enjoy this…” even if it sometimes is difficult.


Sometimes, it feels impossible to look further than the current moment- the temper tantrum, the Big Decision, the sleepless nights of newborns, the move.  Sometimes either the chaos or the monotony seems to trump the purpose and the love and the gift.

But when I get stuck in that spiral… I lose sight of them.  The precious and the hilarious who I get to spend my days with.  I lose sight of the miracle.  I lose sight of my people, my stage of life, my purpose, my foundation.  Because they are GIFTS.  This is all just a GIFT.

I don’t want to miss this.

And so I dig in.

I remind myself to see it all.  Notice the smudge of chocolate on her cheek from when you let her sneak a bit of ice cream mid-day.  Listen to the way she mixes up her words and then don’t correct her, she’ll make it right soon enough.  Notice how she is experimenting with increasingly large words: eventually, actually, and delicious all recently entered her vocabulary.  Dig.  In.  These moments will soon pass.  All too soon, they will pass.


We get to bring these people up.  These people are ours to enjoy, to mold, to live.

This life is ours to enjoy, to mold, to live.

And so let’s LIVE it.  I want to be able to look back on my years and know that I lived fully and completely… not only mostly.

And in order to live fully and completely and audaciously, we need to embrace these moments.

I have an idea.

I am starting a series that we’ll go through during the month of September.  I call it {hello}world.  Each part of this series I will focus on a specific aspect that I have learned helps me to embrace this life and see the gifts- and at the end of each day I will share a free printable with something that will help us do that- a verse or a quote or a tool that you can print off and use throughout your world.  We are going to dig in to our moments and interact with our world together.  We are going to create moments to enjoy and celebrate.

This is not going to be another “to-do” to add to our busy plates.  It is going to be life-giving.  It’s going to be fun.  Join me in this journey.  Let these days anchor you to this moment and this life and this miraculous God who says that this life and these moments matter.


I so hope you join me in saying {hello}world.

I can’t wait to see where we end up.

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