While You’re in Africa

While you are in Africa, I will be here.

I will be here.

Doing all the things here requires. Like waking up with the little one long before the sun rises. And teaching the five year old to read one letter at a time. Begging a child to eat half a sandwich for dinner, while sweeping up the half that’s been chewed up and spit out on the floor. I’ll be settling a minimum of 20 skirmishes a day, and wiping away at least a hundred times that many tears, some of which are bound to be my own. I’ll be tickling little feet, coloring pictures, singing songs, playing hide and seek. I will teach the manners, the values, the important life skills, and hug away all the bad things. I’ll be tending two lives, while cradling another inside. All day. Every day.

I will be here. I will be here.

So you can be there. Because there the children don’t have someone to make them a sandwich. There is no one to answer life’s questions, or sing them a song, or pull a thorn from their feet. No one to show them the love of their Father. Unless you go. Unless you help. Unless you give.

Somewhere out there you will be filling souls. And I will be here, filling these. In my moments of doubt, it seems like a lot. But then again, He has given us a lot. And these next several days He will make us enough to go around.

Broken-in vs. Worn-out

I’ve been feeling restless. Out of place. Like something is not right. As people we are made to flourish, designed from the beginning to thrive. To last. But for too long life has not felt alive. It has not felt wide and open and like I can breathe.

I mostly ignored it. That nagging feeling in my soul that something was wrong. That this is not where we are suppose to be. I pushed aside the feelings of frustration and prayed for endurance. Just keep going; press on a little longer. Because with two little kids, one on the way, and a man who is depending on me to stand by him, I don’t have the luxury of stopping. I don’t have the luxury of being burnt out.

But slowly this unsettled voice inside my soul became too loud to ignore. The Holy Spirit moved within, stirring me to action. And in the grand mystery of His ways, He softened the heart of the one closest to me. Drawing us together, uniting His vision in our hearts. Making us one.

Because deep down, we both felt it. The exhaustion of running from one crisis to the next. The mold–however innocent–that living in a nice house in a big city forces a family into. We felt the irony in loading up for a day of hiking only to sit in smoggy traffic on the way to a crowded trail. The sinking feeling of boarding a plane, saying goodbye for months on end to family we love so far away. For years we’ve justified a way around it, searching for the positives, focusing on the wins, trying out new coping mechanisms, and reminding ourselves of all the difficulties a big change would bring. But really all the positives we found were far from our hopes and dreams. The wins were a long way from our vision for this family. And all the while I wondered, where is the peace? Where is the simplicity? Where is the space and the joy and the giving?

What good is an established life if its killing you to live it? What good is the most well-intended plan if it’s not working?

So we stopped. We looked up over all the obstacles and rehashed plans, over the expectations and pressures we placed upon ourselves. And He opened our eyes, giving us courage to follow His lead. Humbling our hearts, moving us to change. His plans are far better than ours, even when we can’t see the end.

And now, in a state of flux when everything is unfamiliar, somehow there is peace. Harmony. As a refreshing wind blows us north, a feeling of rightness has settled in. It is never easy to leave the known. To say goodbye to what is comfortable and broken-in. But the line between broken-in and worn-out is thin, and we crossed it long ago.

So we thank this chapter for it’s gift. We remember the wonderful moments it has brought and the teacher it has been. With anticipation we close the door, stepping out into a wide new land with adventures and lessons of its own. The future stretches before us, calling us forward and bringing us closer to home.

On Morning Sickness

This summer was slow. The days dragged on and I felt as though I was wilting. Maybe it was the intense heat of living in the high desert. Maybe it was misery of nausea that lasted all day and night. Probably both.

Are you one of those lucky women who barely noticed just a few queasy moments the first three months? No, me either. For me the term “nausea” is putting it mildly.

Every day I would wake up to a knawing stomach growling in hunger, only to rebell at the first sip of water or bite of breakfast put into it. Some days–the good ones–it would be more like a chronic annoyance reminding me of the blueberry inhabiting my lower abdomen. But most days the nausea would turn into dry heaves (or often worse), then settle back to an all day ebb and flow of constant nausea, fluctuating between bad, miserable, and borderline debilitating. By evening I would be spent, dreading the few minutes it would take to fall asleep without a TV show to distract me from the sickening revolt of my stomach.

Ginger didn’t help. Neither did saltines, fizzy water, warm Dr. Pepper, SeaBands, vitamin B6, essential oils, citrus scents, or the two prescriptions my midwife gave me. After slogging through three preganacies of nausea/vomiting and spending a total of nearly a year of my life in what feels like the worlds worst stomach flu, I have finally accepted the fact that this awful feeling is something that I just have to endure.

But the worst part is the guilt. The feeling so bad that I can’t be a better mom, a more engaged mom. A mom who takes her kids to the park on a summer day and doesn’t dry heave the second she steps into the heat. A mom who can make a whip up a real meal and not barely manage to fill four glasses with a mixed berry smoothie for dinner. A mom who doesn’t need dad to come in a put the toddler down for a nap, or let him find the kids in front of the TV again after a long day of work with wet laundry clinging to the inside of the washer and a kitchen floor covered in spilled Cheerios.

The guilt is awful. As a mother I don’t know a worse feeling than that of letting your family down. When mom is down, the whole house just stops.

But in my laying around I have realized, I’m not a bad mom. I’m dealing with nausea that’s on the extreme end of what’s considered normal. It’s ok to be sick. It’s ok to rest. I am a better mom when I ease up on myself and conserve my energy than when I try to meet the demands of everyone. Demands that usually are not urgent or concerning. Wet laundry will eventually dry.

Someday soon this will be done and I’ll feel better. I’ll be able to cook, and eat, and enjoy my daily responsibilities again. But until then, I cut myself some slack. I take a break, not just from the chores and expectations, but from the guilt of not being able. Because the guilt and pressure to be something I physically can’t right now isn’t worth it.

What is worth it is feeling cared for. It’s seeing my five year old make his little sister a PB&J for lunch because Mom is too sick to move. Or watching the glee of the two year old when I serve up a tall glass of her favorite breakfast for dinner. It’s worth it to let my husband pick up the slack because he sees what he can do to make this baby a little easier on me.

In my misery, my family has grown. They have started to see how a new life will ask more of mom, and how they need to mature. Because nothing will be the same when the baby comes. Life doesn’t go back to normal. It grows into a new normal; a family, who as it expands, also depends more upon the others. Soon there will be a third looking to me for everything it needs. But right now, I’m looking to them. And they have not disappointed.

Three Precious Stones

There is a third precious stone in our midst. A pebble, really. For it is still so small, barely perceptible. But life is surely there.

Already the River is weaving and spinning, etching a unique design into this tiny being. As the midwife announces that everything seems normal so far, I think no baby is normal. No baby is the same as the generations that have come before it. Healthy–yes. But normal? No. This child is unlike any other. This one is precious indeed, surprising us with its life when we least expected it.

Already this little pebble turns and twists in its furious growth, churning my own insides with it. The undulating waves of nausea landing me on the sofa for weeks, left only to rest while my body prepares itself to undertake a sacred task of cradling this growing life for the next six months.

Each day I carry this baby is a reminder of the Hebrew understanding that God gives and God takes away. And for whatever reason unknown to me, He saw fit to expand our family right now. In this lean season of life. In the middle of uncertainties and unknowns. He has given a life, while stripping away all my expectations of what life was suppose to be. Because I think deep down we all wish for security, stablity, a sure thing.

But the thing is, for those of faith, we do not live on the sandy shore. We dwell in the River. Sometimes calm and quiet, sometimes raging high, forever changing course according to His unchanging design. Life in the River promises to be wild. We are warned of its unpredictable and often trying nature. But when the tumbling stops and we reach the end, we wash up smooth, brilliant. Eden in His hands. The precious stones He has made us to be.

While my soul may not understand why my husband and I have been given this child in this seemingly challenging time of life, I am reminded: I am not the River, nor do I know where it is leading. It is not my job to chart the course or calm the rapids. I am merely the Stone-Keeper: the one who holds these little lives until they are ready for a life of their own. A life He has breathed; a course He has planned to build the family He has chosen from the beginning.

Your journey is long, little pebble. But the path is glorious. Joyfully we await your arrival, eager and ready to shower you with all the love He has lavished on us. Ready to wade with you into the River and let the Life-Giver do His marvelous work.

Fears of the Homeschool Mom

What if they’re right? What if all the tests and scores and papers are worth the fight for their little minds.

What if the system wins? What if the proven track is where success really lives? Even if dreams die.

What if they say “they need to know all of this before graduation day.”  What happens if it’s not enough, and they fail? Will I fail too?

Do I give them tools and scrap the rules? What if the all the lists and “need to knows” are really true? What does it prove?

But what if they’re wrong. What if I should have trusted my heart all along? What if my first guess was really the right one? What if they’re wrong?

And what if I’m right? What if the answer to all they need to know is found in living life? What if they love to learn and learn to love without textbooks. Despite the looks.

And what if they’re strong? Learning and growing as we go along. Should we go along?

And what if I’m brave. And I stick to this despite what the critics say? I trust in You. Can they trust me too?

What if this whole thing is all we ever dreamed and so much more? They’re worth so much more.

Am I wrong? Am I right? Jesus, give me the answers I need tonight.

Give them what they need for life.

Summer Girl

13220765_10154204067272558_3489939116661034578_oShe is all sunshine and butterflies. A warm, sweet personality from day one. This week my July Ruby turns two years old. And what a beautiful two years it has been.

Her birth–magical and rare–left the entire hospital buzzing, each nurse wanting to catch a glimpse of the baby born completely enclosed inside the cozy sac that kept her safe for nine months. Those first few weeks with her were bliss. A baby so good and so sweet, it was hard to find a reason to complain about life with a newborn. She was content, and happy; the dream baby who almost never cried.


And as she got older, we only fell more hopelessly in love with the little dear. She began to reveal her sweet disposition and easy-going nature, with just enough spice to keep things a little interesting. Soon she was walking, then talking. Language came fast, words exploding to sentences, and sentences into thoughts. In my shock, she even started to voice her feelings, a task her older brother still struggles with.

Today songs of all kinds fill our home, usually coming from her little voice toddling around. Where five year old feet pound down the hall, two smaller ones can be heard never far behind. Big brother is her best friend, even with the daily skirmishes. This little girl loves her family; loves being apart of life with the three other people that make up her world.

Someday she will gain more independence. She will more forcefully exercise her will. Eventually she will have preferences on toys and games and what she wants for dinner. A time is coming when more will be expected of her; more will be asked. Life will bring change, and new waves of maturity will swell in her.

But for now, I hold my Ruby close. I cherish the ease of her agreeable nature and celebrate the wonderful joy she has brought to our family. Sunshine and butterflies–summer in the shape of a little girl.

Happy Two Years, my darling.

Of Bunbun and Owl

_MG_5273She lies heavy in my arms. The full weight of her 22lbs limp and motionless as she drifts off against my chest. Heat radiates against me. A dewy stickiness coats her forehead. But I don’t dare move her. Not yet. Not after the morning we had. She needs this nap.

Reluctantly I relax into the back of the rocking chair, counting the seconds before it’s safe to transfer her to the crib. Each gentle glide soothes her cranky mood and eases my cranky spirit. All I wanted was to pick up some groceries, all she wanted was to get out of the cart, and what really happened was a miniature World War Three in the pasta aisle. And so with every fiber of patience I could muster, I picked her up with one arm, summoned the 5 year old with the other, and calmly left the store. No groceries. No dignity. Only defeat starting me in the face while I wrestled her into the car seat and drove home.

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