New House Details – Part III

I’ll preface this post with this: it was surprisingly challenging for me to take and share photos of our house, because I wanted the house to be perfect when I took the photos.  I wanted everything to be decorated, cleaned, and perfectly arranged– with beautiful natural daylight to boot.  However, it turns out that that my kids won’t play quietly in their beds while I clean and stage our home (RUDE), and that Project Furnish To Perfection needs some time.  Also, I can only be fake for about 10 seconds…SO, I decided to hurry up and capture things au natural.

Welcome to our home on a November evening around dinner time.  You can see calzones cooling on the stovetop and Apple Radio on in the background.


Pants are, apparently, optional in our home.

IMG_4818Our dog in her natural habitat…right under Riley’s high chair.
IMG_4820How much do you think this table (and two unpictured extension leaves) cost? What about these antique chairs with laminate fabric that you can wipe dry? Why is my husband looking up sports statistics when the table isn’t set? Leave your guesses for these pressing questions in the comments section.

Oh hey, part of our playroom! You look like you’ve been well-loved today.  


(Somehow, I did not get a photo of the rest of the playroom, but just imagine a kitchen set, more toys, and an “art wall” with cute paintings and drawings that the girls made on it.  Also, my mom made those beautiful curtains). 

View of the cool wine rack, the coffee station, and the front hall closet (door to be added at a later date…the previous owners apparently did not believe in “closet doors”).
IMG_4824One of my favorite features of the house—bay windows.  If you have any ideas for how I could decorate these window sills appropriately, please let me know.  Right now, I am using some random vases with decorative grasses from our old house as a placeholder (the stack of library books are just there for practicality’s sake), but I’m not convinced that they are a permanent solution.  I like clean lines so I don’t want clutter, but it’s a little cold with NOTHING there.


(Eventually, we want to get a sectional for this room).  

Our house has a pretty open floor plan, and had lots of nice details like crown molding, ample closets, and my favorite: this built-in bookshelf.  I REALLY want my girls to love reading, so I’ve intentionally stored a selection of children’s books in most rooms of our house.  I rotate the books from room to room and try to “spotlight” some in each location so they’ll be tempted to sit down and read for a few minutes.  This bookshelf is a HUGE hit.  I pick ~20 different books off the floor each day after Zoe’s reading jags.  I love it!


(The top shelf has been organized and cleared since this photo was taken, so you don’t have to stare at my zoom lens box anymore).  

Here’s a snapshot of our bedroom.  It looks a little dingy in these photos, but in the daylight, the walls are a gorgeous and peaceful cream.  (The carpet is still dingy in the daylight…we ran out of money in our flooring budget after redoing 4 rooms and one hallway, but we’re coming for you at some point, carpet.) We have no real decor or style in our room yet, so sorry, it’s kind of boring to look at.  Isn’t it a cliche that the parents’ room is the last to get decorated?


However, I DO have my little office nook set up! Well, sort of–it’s functional, but I need to figure out where to file and store things in this new space.  I may add some under-desk storage or floating shelving.  We’ll see.


I sat on this post for a few days and decided that I didn’t feel very comfortable putting my entire house on the Internet, so I’ll end our tour here, but just for fun, here are some before and after shots from when we toured the house to present day (the angles are a bit different—but you get the general idea!):

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One final perk of our new home? For whatever reason, we get bigger sky here than in our last two neighborhoods.  I’m sure not complaining.


A few nights ago when the girls were in bed, David and I sat under the stars with a glass of wine and watched lightning storms in the distance.  We couldn’t remember the last time we had been able to see stars (our last two streets had bright streetlights).  These extra glimpses of nature are AWESOME.

This likely concludes my house posting.  Coming up next…an update on how my fall goals have been going.

The Beautiful Things

There are brilliant, wonderful, glorious gifts in front of me every single day, if I just turn my eyes and my mind to see them.

That’s one thing motherhood has taught me.

It’s easy to get lost in the work in front of me.  But there are so many moments of goodness along the way—moments where light and color and the physical and the spiritual worlds meet—and when I pay attention, I realize what an extraordinary gift these “ordinary” moments really are.

I want to pay attention more often.  

In that spirit, here are a few shots that I’ve never shared on the blog.  These photos weren’t captured during special events, but to me, they brim with the supernatural—the soft and gentle calling of a Creator who loves to speak to us through light, color, beauty, family, belonging, innocence, simplicity, His sufficiency in the face of our weakness, perseverance, hope, and love.

IMG_0483IMG_0554zoe and papaIMG_2403

IMG_2404IMG_2406IMG_2137IMG_2614Photo on 7-28-14 at 6.45 AM #2IMG_3099IMG_3159IMG_3066IMG_3614IMG_4594IMG_4647IMG_4667IMG_4604IMG_4663IMG_4749

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”  –Philippians 4:8-9 

October So Far

Hi friends! Another quick update.  Our move went well, minus the demise of our kitchen table (turns out it was literally on its last leg, HAHAHAHAHA you’re welcome) and we’re mostly settled into our new house! Here is where I would like to show you pictures of perfectly pulled-together rooms, but I have children, so this is the best I can do:


It was clean and organized until 5:45 am.  Use your imagination to turn back time, or just enjoy it as it is 95% of the time (and note the “neutral AND bright” color that David and I convened on…it works, right?!!) Still to come in this playroom: art, a possible rug, and the removal of the last 3 moving boxes.

Our living room, shot from a hideous angle so you won’t see the stack of frames yet to be hung (“this weekend’s” project that may never be completed because kids):


The real view, because I like vulnerability:


Part of our massive backyard, complete with cute enjoyer-of-the-backyard:


I’ll share more photos as I have opportunity to take them, and may even get fancy and do a “before and after” post for you chock full of juicy details like “paid someone to do this, so don’t ask questions because I honestly don’t know,” “this paint color is kind of blue and kind of green, and it has a name…er…” and “ask my dad.”  I will rule the home design blog genre.

Here are four of my favorite things about this new house so far:

-It provided an excuse for both of my parents to come visit.  I love seeing them, my girls love spending time with them, and no visit is ever long enough.  Tear.

-The chance for new rhythms.  For example, in this new house, I am decidedly starting each morning with quiet time.  The “wake up before your kids to meet with Jesus” concept has been a non-starter for us since these weirdos get up between 4:30-5:30 am and that’s just ungodly.  In our old house’s maze-like layout, the kids could easily wander and commit acts of violence if I didn’t move with them, so quiet time got replaced by “mommy is our constant companion” time.  Swell. Our new house’s layout is much more conducive to breezily keeping an eye on them while I do my own thing AND they’re both over 1 now, which is old enough to sit in A PLAYROOM FULL OF TOYS and PLAY for 10 minutes.  Zoe said the other day “I’m going to read my Bible because it’s morning time,” so I think it’s working.

-My good friend and her sweet daughter live next door.  Number of spontaneous play dates so far: too many to count.  This is awesome.

-Our double front driveway is the perfect size for car and bicycle riding, and our street is quiet enough that I can relax instead of patrolling the edge of the driveway.  We happily spend at least 20 minutes a day out here waving to airplanes, watching the clouds, peddling, and giggling.



Unrelated to our new house, but still amazing: let it be known that on the morning of October 15, a slight chill entered the air.  You’d better believe the entire family went out for a walk in our lightweight fleeces as soon as the sun rose.  Mid-to-late-fall mornings in Florida are the bomb.

My goals for the remainder of the month are:

-be a little less self-centered and figure out what’s going on in other people’s lives.  The home buying, moving, and unpacking process have necessitated an intense internal focus for the last 2 months, but I’m eager to expand my gaze a little and figure out what the heck is going on outside of my paperwork and boxes.  It’s not a very specific goal, but I know it when I’m doing it, and my goal is to feel a few glimmers of that joy that comes in losing track of myself in serving and loving another.

-exercise 3-5 x/ week (3 Jazzercise classes + walks)

-bring my discipline and focus to work again after a few weeks of being a little more home-focused.  Get some clarity about winter/spring work projects and where I’m going next.

-get my updated will signed and notarized (hi next gathering of friends, I’m about to make you all contemplate mortality for a minute.  Bring a pen)

-hang those dang pictures.

bonus goals: enjoy Halloween with my ladies and possibly make it a threepeat month for Saturday beach trips…


Talk to you soon! 

New House Details – Part II

Just a super quick update to say: we’re officially homeowners!! Whoa!

My words as soon as we left the closing were “David, I think I might throw up.”  Being in charge of A HOUSE THAT I OWN is terrifying and exciting, all at the same time.

It’s terrifying, because:
a) the gene for “spatial intelligence” was completely absorbed by my engineer father and I couldn’t tell you how to fix anything
b) I am used to seeing a lot more money in my bank account
c) I sing “the wise man built his house upon the rock / the foolish man built his house upon the sand” to Zoe…and then David always jokes “the entire state of Florida is the foolish man.”  We now own a chunk of that sand and a house built upon it.

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We may be idiots.

It’s exciting because:
a) I am ECSTATIC about the house’s layout
b) I am THRILLED with our new yard
c) the kitchen makes me want to cook again, unlike the pass-through hallway that I try to get out of as soon as possible in our current house (no offense, current house—I love you otherwise) 
d) I like my new neighborhood and the roads that I’ll drive and walk most often
e) my friend and her sweet daughter live next door, with another little buddy soon to join us!

We rented our home to the sellers through the weekend (we went from homeowners to owners of a RENTAL PROPERTY all in one week! I’m so dramatic), so we’ll get some keys tonight and get in there tomorrow to start some fast and furious renos!

Pray for a good week of work for my sweet husband who has a lot to endure—both in terms of physical labor as he paints multiple rooms, and emotionally as he has to deal with my complete waffling and indecision on the last color selection (for our playroom and eat-in area).  He wants a bright color, I want a neutral, he is willing to give up the bright color but that’s not enough for me because I want him to want what I want and be happy about a neutral.  It’s going to be a great week for everyone!

This will not become a home decor blog, because I am just as qualified to write that as I would be to write a spatial intelligence blog, but I might give you a few more updates in weeks ahead.  I may also write a sappy blog post about moving, as my friend Jeanette pointed out today that what I was telling her about all that I’ve learned in this house sounded like “a blog post in the making.”  I love my friends.

All joking aside, I went into this house during our home tour and instantly thought “this is a great house for ministry.”  This house has the best layout for packing in people to cook for and serve and love…the best backyard for imperfect parties where people can get dirty and have fun playing football and soccer…the best little nook for Bible study with another mom or two while our kiddos play in the adjoining playroom…the best kitchen window to stand at while my coffee brews and look out and praise God for another day.

We’ve never had the opportunity to choose a home before, but we’ve always made each living situation work—so I don’t feel like we “needed” this upgrade.  However, it is a huge blessing to have had the chance to choose a home based on the activities and people that are most important to us.  I can’t wait to see what God does in us, through us, and with us in this home!


See you in a new house! (unless I need to use my coping strategy of writing sooner due to paint-related issues!)

New House Details – Part I

I’ve been getting requests to “GIVE US MORE HOUSE DETAILS!”

Okay.  Here they are.

FullSizeRenderMy bedroom right now

Honestly, we didn’t have any intention of buying a home this year.  I like being a renter.  I’m scared of unknown expenses, spending my weekends on home maintenance, and being tied down to a geographic area.

Adding fuel to my “renters fo’ lyfe” argument is the fact that home prices in our area are ridiculously expensive, yet I don’t want to live anywhere else.  After living through Rat House (which, by the way, is now legitimately a Boy Scout hut…practice your trapping inside, I guess!), the thought of sifting through the crummy homes we could afford in this area and trying to decide was the least crappy so we could spend all of our money on it sounded pretty unappealing.  Our current rental has been great (although when your standard is “not infested by rats and insects,” there’s nowhere to go but up), and I didn’t think we’d be able to find anything remotely close to our preferences—in which case, I thought, whyyyyyyy???

However, our landlords decided to sell our rental house.

We don’t want to keep moving all the time, we needed somewhere to live, and it turned out we had a down payment.  David said we are done spending down payments on adopting children (I know, the guy who hates the traditional Christian interpretation of “head of the household” suddenly decides to get all authoritarian on me?!!) so we began investigating the housing market with a realtor and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Well! It turned out that by moving outside of our preferred middle and high school district (but staying within 3 minutes of our current neighborhood and inside my “area” boundaries) we could afford something we liked.  Since Zoe and Riley aren’t even in preschool yet, we decided that we could probably risk it.  Within a few weeks, we found something we liked, decided what we’d want to pay for it, put in our offer, and had ourselves a little deal.  That’s not really how it’s supposed to work in this area (there’s usually drama and bidding wars), so we’re feeling like this is probably our house.

Or like we are making a giant mistake that everyone but us can see.  One of the two.  Usually the first.

We are supposed to close Wednesday, complete some small renovations the next week, and move on the 29th.  I feel a little weird sharing photos of the house before it is officially ours, but I’ll share some (and some before and afters) once we move in.

IMG_2082Sneak preview.  Goodbye, hideous carpet.

In the meantime, we are packing, and I’ve discovered the incredibly fun and time-wasting world of home renovation blogs.  While I usually use Pinterest mostly to blatantly piggyback on my friend Jaima’s meal planning efforts (thanks Jaima,) I’ve been Pinning home ideas like a madwoman recently.  I have plans to implement exactly 0 of these ideas, but seeing what I’m attracted to has still been beneficial as we’ve picked paint colors and flooring and decided what our longer-term furniture goals are.

Yes, I suddenly have long-term furniture goals.

Mom, you should be proud.

More sneak previews: my favorite features of the house are the open floor plan, the huge backyard, the updated kitchen, the French doors going out to the backyard, and the bonus that my friend lives next door!

More to come if closing is successful!

(Also: blogging twice in one week?! Must have a grant I don’t feel like writing…)

What I’ve Learned Working Part-Time

I dream of being part of a really cool community of part-time working moms who occasionally get together for coffee and conversation about their experiences and how they make it all work. In reality, I don’t know many moms who work part-time, despite efforts to meet them.

So, in case you’re a part-time working mom who also feels a little isolated from the full-time SAHM conversations AND the full-time working mom conversations, I’ll initiate and share what I’ve been learning along this journey…and I’d love to hear what has worked for you!

What I've Learned

1. I’ve learned to define my own success.  

I recently stumbled on this fabulous video with personal examples of what I’ve learned over the last 2.5 years—that “success” can (and should) have a very personal definition.

To me, “success” in this stage of life means being with my girls most mornings and afternoons, taking on projects that excite and challenge me yet have fairly predictable project timelines, building skills and relationships that will help me transition to increased employment in the future, achieving a certain profit margin between my childcare expenses and the work that I take on, and achieving a certain yearly income. “Success” right now also means only taking on projects that are 90% portable and able to be done from home (or the beach, or my parents’ house, or wherever the fun flexibility of SAHM life may take us…yes, I’m spoiled!) 


To someone else, this vision might not seem very “successful.”  To another person, it might seem overwhelming.  But for me, it’s perfect, because it’s my version of success.

2. I’ve learned that God will give me enough time to do the things I’m called to do.

God does not call us to lives of frustration and striving—He wants to equip us for the tasks that are ours.  I’ve learned over the last 2.5 years that the things that matter most (from God’s perspective!) WILL happen if I prayerfully surrender my time to God and let Him assign and direct my steps.

Letting Him assign my steps means that I recognize that I’m not in charge of what I take on—that I have a running dialogue with God about what tasks are actually “mine” and what should be someone else’s.

Letting Him direct my steps involves a lot of short prayers about my priorities each day, praying that He will let me know what is most important in that day, in that hour, in that minute for me to do.  I pray that He can help me focus and work productively and energetically on what is most important to Him.  And then I try to listen for His voice of “this is important now” or “this isn’t important now” and actually obey.

3. I’ve learned to accept that sometimes the house wins, and sometimes work wins. 

It has been critical for me to accept that some days/weeks/seasons are more work heavy and others are more house-and- family-needs heavy, and that I can’t hold myself to a standard of perfect balance between the two.

I also can’t expect myself to do both roles perfectly.  I am not a full-time housewife.  I am not a full-time worker.  My attention is divided because of the roles I have chosen.  I’ve had to accept that, and part of that means that I have given up on trying to be outstanding at both domains all the time.

I try to let whatever is most important win—not what is most pressing.

Sometimes, this means relaxing my standards for house cleanliness or what constitutes a healthy meal, working through all of the “relaxation” time in a weekend because I have a work project, or barely parenting for 20 minutes.

Photo on 9-22-14 at 8.18 PM8:18 pm.  If you aren’t going to sleep, you’re going to watch me write a grant.

Other times, this means putting a project away before it’s “perfect” to drink a glass of wine with David, folding laundry instead of taking careful notes while on a conference call, or saying no to a speaking engagement because the event is being held during Zoe’s swim lessons and I enjoy watching her swim.

I don’t always choose the right domain to focus on.  But I am grateful to have both, and try to steward both well.

4. I’ve learned to own—and learn from—my choices.  

If I get stressed or aggravated with the balance of a certain time, I remind myself that each season is the result of my choices.  I’ll lean into whatever needs to be done and finish it up—but I also pay attention to see if I can learn anything.

For example, I worked with a client who has great programming and a good reputation.  It’s easy to win grants for them (in 15 hours of work, I helped them win over $75,000). But it was hard to write grants for them because they ignored project timelines and gave me information last minute.  Their work style (which I could not change) resulted in me spending multiple afternoons working while Riley sat in an Exersaucer fussing and Zoe watched TV (this is NOT my parenting style).


It was tempting to stay on the client, because winning grants builds my reputation and shows that I am “successful.”  But I didn’t feel successful at my other, more important role as a mommy when I worked with this client.

I recognized that I was choosing stress by choosing to keep working with this client, so I passed them on to someone else who could accommodate their last-minute work style.  I now ask more questions about a client’s work style before accepting them as a client.

I have learned that I don’t operate in a vacuum.  Every time I accept a new project, I’m choosing a little extra stress and maybe some time away from my family, and so I have learned to think carefully about the project to make sure it’s worth it.  Sometimes, it is, and I say yes and own the choice I made and its implications.  Other times, I say no and remember that I’m not “losing” them—I’m choosing something better—and own that choice.

I’ve also realized that by working part-time, I end up missing out on a few opportunities.  My girls miss playdates and parties sometimes because of my work schedule, and I can’t always relate well to the conversation topics or stressors of full-time SAHMs or working women or feel understood by them.  But again, I recognize that this is a result of my choices—choices I am blessed to have.

5. I’ve learned how to schedule work time.  

Right now, I work 10-12 hours a week & have childcare 6 of those hours.  I’ve played around with different levels of childcare and different times of day for the childcare.  I’m pretty fond of my current 2-5 pm twice a week, because honestly, 2-5 is my least favorite time of day with my kids and they’re probably better off with someone else twice a week during that time.  I get to do all the fun morning activities with them, and then leave them in someone else’s energetic arms.  No guilt in that!

2 pm isn’t naturally my strongest work time, but I’ve learned to make it so (and coffee helps).


Also, since I do about 50% of my work in hour-long spurts during the girls’ naptime, I’ve learned to leave good notes for myself about where I stopped and where I was headed when I end a work session.  I keep a master deadline spreadsheet and do some weekly planning each Sunday to map out the week’s work tasks.   Each naptime and work session has a task and a list of back-up tasks, which (mostly) keeps me from puttering.

6. I’ve learned to savor this wonderful gift.  

I am very grateful for the opportunity to do meaningful work, both with my girls and with students and clients.  I am thankful that our world has evolved enough that I can contribute to it beyond my role as a mommy.  I am proud and thankful that my 2.5 year old does this:


and that she also sets herself up at my desk and says:


“I work like mommy.” 

This is a beautiful life.

The Beauty of Unplugging

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
-Anne Lamott

About eight months ago, David approached me about a conference that he wanted to attend at our old college in Washington.  He was rambling on about the theologians that would be speaking and the workshops he could attend and how great the Pacific Northwest is, and my tired eyes were glazing over until he spoke these magic words: “and they have a childcare program if you wanted to put the girls in.  I think they take them for the whole day or something.”

David had mentioned this conference to me every single year since 2010 and had tried to engage me in serious conversations about conference logistics for the last two or three years.  I was noncommittal.  Disinterested.  Why fly across the country to go to a few workshops?

But this year…it suddenly made perfect sense.

Childcare program.



All day. 

I was in.  Ohhhhhh, I was in.

In early December I told my mom over the phone that we were probably going to the conference and that I was considering putting the girls in the conference childcare program.

“I’m not sure why you’d feel a need to do that,” my mom said. IMG_3986

I knew why.

Over Christmas, she watched the girls for a few hours.

A few days after we came home, she called me.  “I think you should put your kids in the conference childcare program.  I’d like to pay for one of them to go.”

We signed up.  And the thought of a WEEK OF CHILDCARE pulled me through the exhausting moments of winter and spring.

Riley’s fighting sleep training for 7.5 weeks? Oh well, she’s going to childcare for a week in July.  I’ll sleep then.  

Zoe has a virus mimicking strep throat and literally hasn’t stopped screaming or crying for six days? Wow, it will feel nice to get my break in July.

Tantrums? For a week in July, this will be someone else’s problem. 

There’s a study that shows that happiness is boosted more from the anticipation of a vacation than from the actual vacation.  I only wound up using the conference childcare for 3.5 days, but I milked about six months of anticipation from it.  And it delivered.

When we originally talked about the conference, I dreamed of spending the week writing.  About 2.5 months before the conference, as I began praying over what my project should be, I realized that what I needed most wasn’t a project.  What I needed most was to spend a week producing nothing.

And that’s exactly what I did.  I took a hike every morning.

photo 2-8

I read books.  I read the Bible.  I journaled.  I researched houses (we’re under contract now! More details to come.)  I napped.  I met up with a friend for coffee.  I went to the workout center on the college campus.  I spent time sitting outside doing nothing beyond enjoying the breeze.

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David and I went on a “coffee and hiking” date.  We also re-visited the place where we met for the first time.  Sweet, sweet memories :)

photo 1-8

I went to 1 hour and 20 minutes of educational programming (I know, go easier next time, right?) I did not do any cooking, meal cleanup, or laundry.

We extended our trip for 5 days after the conference ended, spending some friend time and family time, as well as some “Sarah/David/Zoe/Riley” time.  I got to spend substantial time with three of my favorite college girlfriends.



(not pictured: the night we took a newborn to a wine bar)

I met up for a hike and coffee with two other great friends from college.  We saw my in-laws and celebrated Riley’s birthday with a great group of friends.


We took Zoe and Riley to a few favorite spots from college, found a few new ones, ate great food, drank amazing coffee and wine, hiked 8/10 days, rested, relaxed, and enjoyed the beauty of one of my favorite areas of the country and world.

photo 5-7


photo 4-8

It was a giant exhale.  And it was so, so needed.

When Zoe was almost 1, I began to feel like I was getting my mojo back.  I suddenly felt energy to do things that had seemed too hard for 11 months.  Although Riley still wakes up between 4:50 and 5:15 every morning, we are mostly sleeping through the night over here, and I’m beginning to feel the same way again.

I want to be more active and challenge myself physically again.  I want to make a little more space for myself to do some of my favorite things.  I want to occasionally straighten my hair.

I am going to be a mom for a very long time.  I want to be a person too.  

This trip was a great kickstart to that process.

Shortly after we got back, my sweet and thoughtful husband surprised me with an unlimited month pass to a barre studio near our house and told me his gift included handling the girls so that I could go.  So three times a week, I’ve been feeding my family canned soup or sandwiches for dinner, putting my kids to bed a little early, and heading out to barre class.

It’s funny—knowing I’m going to barre class that night is kind of like knowing that childcare is happening for a week in July.

Regardless of how my girls are behaving or how my work ends up being interrupted, I know on my barre class days that I will have some space and margin to just be me and focus on myself.  (I also know I won’t have to really cook dinner or do a lot of dishes…which is surprisingly helpful to the ol’ energy supply.)

Barre class focuses on the mind-body connection.  After a year of ignoring almost every message my body has sent me (because resting when it told me to was legitimately not an option with two young kids and no family in town),  it feels foreign but important to focus on this connection again.  I’ve found myself going to sleep a little earlier some days, and other days, pushing my body or mind a little further.  I’ve been alternating Jazzercise and barre classes and am pleasantly surprised to find that my body can still be challenged without breaking down—it seems that even though I spent a year feeling weak, I’m actually still pretty tough.

My goal for the fall is to keep connecting with me, with rest, and with margin.  I want to make more space for joy and surprise.

My prayer for the fall: Lord, make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside quiet waters.  Restore my soul.  Make your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.  Open my ears and eyes to see it.  

One Year Later

This summer has been really, really sweet.  And it would be easy to write about what my family has been up to, but somehow, it’s harder to write about how I think and feel…it requires reflection and honesty and time.

But it’s good for me to make that space and time for myself to reflect, so that’s what the next few posts are going to be about—how I am, and what I’ve been thinking about and feeling lately.

Riley turned one a few weeks ago, which means it’s been one year since my “mom of two” journey began.  Man, what a humbling year.  The fatigue.  The constant feelings of inadequacy. The never-ending needs.  Laying myself down, over and over again.  Getting up morning after morning and praying for strength I knew I didn’t possess.  Messing up.  Getting it right. Messing up again.  Taking help.  Thanking God for help.  Wishing I didn’t need help. Enjoying the gift of my girls.  Resenting the burden of my caring for my girls.  Loving one moment.  Wishing the next moment would end.  I never felt one emotion for long.

As we approached Riley’s birthday, I started to realize that even though I had spent an entire year feeling inadequate and over my head, everyone was still alive and doing well one year later.  I had made it.  And that somehow, despite how hard it was, I was better than I was a year ago.  This year showed me many places where I am weak and need to grow—but along the way, I did grow, and that is something to celebrate.

photo-79So did the birthday girl! Isn’t she beautiful?!

I’m not the same person I was a year ago.  I am definitely more run down, which is a negative (I’ll talk about that in my next post).  But I’m also more focused, more intentional with my time and friendships, less concerned with outcomes and more patient with process, and less affected by worry and anxiety.  One year later, I’m more at peace with myself and my calling, even if I struggle with the implementation of that calling sometimes when the toddler moments strike and the baby needs me and the dog is barking and a client is calling wanting to talk for the eleventh time about the timeline of a grant proposal I turned in last week.

I have dreams of doing “big,” cool things for God’s kingdom someday—writing a book, doing some speaking, sharing some wisdom.  But I have to get wisdom first, and I feel challenged and encouraged that what I am doing every day in this stage of my life is the way to develop that.

I’m not a natural mom to two babies this close together.  It’s not easy for me, and the multitasking and casualness it requires is not the best fit for my personality.

But I’ve hung in there anyway because I want to be refined.  I want to do the hard work.  I want to dig in every single day with all that I have and serve and love those around me, even when it’s not natural.  I want to pursue wisdom and learn how the Lord wants me to live, and 99% of my days, I feel like I am actually doing that.  If I never get to do those “bigger” things, I’ll still be glad with how I spent my time and energy—on the biggest things there are—and I will still have lived a “big” life that I can be proud of.

I am more concerned with developing right character than a big calling.  And this year offered lots of opportunities to build character.

My exercise instructor said recently as the class struggled through an exercise, “if you’re shaking, that means you’re working.  If you’re shaking, you’re changing.”  I love this thought—that just because something is HARD doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong, or that it isn’t getting me somewhere.  How naturally hard or easy something is isn’t really important.  What’s important is how I respond to the challenge: whether I keep trying and grow, or take the easy way out and stay the same.

Each August on our anniversary, David and I reflect on and write down our highlights of the year in a special journal.  This year, we wrote: WE SURVIVED.

222014-2015: no one in this photo is dead.  That sums it up.

We’re definitely not the same people that we were a year ago, and I am grateful for the growth.  But I am personally ready to move beyond subsistence.  Maybe :)

More in my next post!

Summer Photo Dump: June and July Edition

Because it’s hard to write words in summer.


Zoe started swim lessons in May.  After her first week (which involved lots of screaming), she decided that she LOVES her lesson and her coaches.  She can now paddle about 5 feet to the wall.  I love watching her swim.


The sweetest little princess you ever did see


Sure, I’d rather sleep in (especially on vacation), but our little roosters sure push us to see some beautiful things.    A 7 am marsh walk in Amelia Island.  IMG_1730

“Yay for early mornings!”


Direct quote: “Look, mama. It’s pretty, because of God.” All the feels…


“Heh heh! Zoe’s asleep and doesn’t know that I’m on her car…”


“Mama, I wanna match Riley.”IMG_4543 IMG_4544 IMG_4545

I cannot handle their cuteness sometimes.


These little kittens did not want their Daddy to leave for his summer work trips.  Mommy did not either. BUT! Thanks to necessity, coffee, and the grace of God, we not only survived–but enjoyed!–two weeks without him!


Cheers to Daddy being back!



“I am hysterical.”IMG_4561

I see what you have to do to get attention around here.” IMG_4562IMG_4578

Sweet sisters.


Getting some work done on a rainy afternoon.  I’ve been teaching a summer intensive, and my students have been AWESOME.  It’s been a blast to teach such an engaged bunch.  I also just got trained to complete 501c3 applications for initiatives and ministries that want to go through the process of becoming “official” nonprofit organizations, and have had a few other fun projects over the summer. I love being a professional AND a mama.


Oh yes! We exist too! :) Date night with my love.


A good summary of how we feel about summer so far.

How is your summer going?!! 

A Prayer, A Protest

I’ve written before about how I didn’t think about race for a lot of my life—a luxury I didn’t understand at the time.  Having two children with visually obvious black heritage has taught me something different.

I was very aware of the racial differences between myself and my daughters at first, but over time, my day-to-day acknowledgment and awareness have abated because I am just so busy taking care of their daily needs.  I don’t have a lot of conversations related to my children’s heritage anymore, and I have learned to walk away from unsolicited comments or insensitive conversations with my hypothetical fingers in my ears.

Recent events remind me that I need to pay attention.  For my children’s safety.   

I have never hated because of race.  But some people do.

I have never moved into a neighborhood and wondered, “is someone peering out the window with hatred in their heart because of what we look like?” But it happens every day to people who look just like my daughters.

I look at mixed-race families and smile—to me, they look like the family of God.  But to some people, my family is an abomination.


My innocence to these facts might feel more comfortable, but it’s also ignorant to the reality of what some of our country actually looks like, thinks like, acts like.  This is a country where people who look like me literally wave flags of prejudice—and care more about our right to do so than the sense of oppression it makes our brothers and sisters feel.  I don’t understand the hatred.  I don’t have to live in fear of it, either (and I don’t plan to).  But I have to be aware of it.

Oh, how I want more for our children.

When pondering what happened in Charleston, all I could think of was the interconnectedness Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (which is fantastic reading):

“Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 

…There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

…Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Abraham Lincoln: ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .’

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.

Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Lord, raise us up to be creative extremists in our churches, families, and communities.  Help us transform this stupid, messed up, full-of-potential world into a place that reflects Your love for all of us.