Wednesday, December 28, 2011


So, it's the day after my thirtieth birthday. I have been hoping to carve out a little time to click-clack my thoughts about these three decades, to hear the rhythm of the keyboard as I process how much I've learned and how much more I desire to see and do and experience.

To start: in the last decade I was a video game look alike, on MTV, came to follow Christ, met, dated and married the best of men, graduated from college, became a dog owner, put the aforementioned man through medical school, managed a Starbucks store, given birth (unmedicated!) to three amazing babies in less than four years, bought a house, ran two marathons, watched from the alter as my best friend married my husband's brother, lost some friends, gained some true ones, changed churches and learned more about myself and life than I would think possible. Yet I sense an aching truth that there still is SO much to learn, to change, to bend and flex to.

For my birthday Corey bundled, in pretty bows and envelopes, thirty letters from family, and friends I've made along the way. I've read twenty seven of them so far and many times I've cried, or laughed or both. Mostly I've just felt moved that so many would have such kind things to say of me. You know, I have just lived my life. I have wanted desperately to do it well, to not waste the uncertain time that has been allotted me, to open my heart and my mind fully to the potential that the world I'm in in each moment has to offer. What I learned most from reading these letters is that love and truth and acts of devotion rarely go unnoticed. Even if the person receiving your gift and blessing feigns to show gratitude, there is always some one watching and waiting to be inspired. We each make impacts and deposits in one another's lives, often without ever knowing it at the time, perhaps we even have forgotten the acts of grace we've extended, but they have been daily remembered by another. If these letters are all true, then I matter. My life, it has mattered. I can scarcely type that sentence with out feeling the warm swell of salt and emotion on my cheeks. I'm reading these kind words and insecurity bubbles up, I wonder if they are mere flattery, if there is truth behind the poetry of it all. I know then, in those moments of trial, that these encouragements must be truth, or the evil one would not be attacking the wisdom they are laying on my heart.

Growth is never sudden, and when it seems to be there is certainly falsehood woven within it. At least that's how the story has played over and over again in my life. The times that change seemed to come easily, quickly and abundantly I look back to see the deceit in my heart and how eventually the facade always fell. I know that I am a very different woman now, at thirty, than I was at twenty. I don't know that I'm much more confident or sure of myself, to my shame, but I do know that I'm getting there. That I'm starting to believe what God and Corey and those closest to me have tried to remind me all along. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of praise. I am finding myself.

So this year, this first of a new decade of life, I dedicate to being ME, the me that God is molding. To fighting insecurity in daily life. I will push with all of me past doubt and into a place where I listen closely to Holy Spirit and trust that who I am and the things I do are "good enough," because God is behind it all. I will be humble, I will share openly and in detail the extent of my life, I will trust my instincts and my God as I raise these precious children and support this indescribable husband. I will prioritize without second guessing because I know the hierarchy of importance that has been laid on my heart. I will never claim to have it all together, but I am determined to follow the leadings of the Lord in my life and trust that even the mistakes are his will and way of stirring the most in me. I'm weary of operating within a fog of insecurity. The wind of change is here. I am standing tall, facing it head on, ready to walk along the next path with a confidence that only thirty years of life could have sown.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


My son has an abundant affinity for super heroes. It's over the top. He wakes up wanting me to be a bad guy so he can be Iron Man, or Captain America or some other masked crusader; he then proceeds to pummel, punch and yell at me until I'm adequately defeated. The intensity goes up several notches when Dad gets home. I kind of grew up like an only child so the essences of boyhood are so foreign to me, I am learning every day how differently they tick. Maybe it's more of a...tock.

I'm wondering how I can tie his media driven super hero obsession to MY hero obsession, I want to know how to help him understand that God is a super hero that can beat up all the other super heroes, that HE MADE UP super powers!!! The issue I'm running into stems from a profound statement Asher made just today. During nap time we cuddled June and sang a song and I tickled his back a little bit, then he looked at me with dense and sleepy half closed eyes as he said, "Momma, know why I don't pray? Because when I do God just doesn't talk to me. I feel frustrated and sometimes sad." You see he stopped praying with us for the most part, about six months ago, and we never knew why. We decided not to pressure him. Perhaps he is just now discovering how to articulate his thoughts and feelings, but I'm standing, jaw dropped, on a precipice of unknown here.

My first temptation was to "stage" an answered prayer, tell him to pray for something specific then do everything I can to make it happen. That's my controlling, protective, "Momma Bear" instinct coming out, but it's not a response of faith. Instead I want to have the faith to tell him to ask God for something and then wait patiently and faithfully together as we watch it come to be, but truth is...I'm too scared.

What if God decided NOT to answer him, will Asher spiral into a pit of disappointment and despair, giving up on a God he hardly knows? He's such a tender hearted, emotionally mature child in so many ways, I don't imagine him rebounding from a blow like that as easily as other children. He's not as resilient as other boys seem to be. So here I am wanting my boy to experience God speaking to him the way I have SO many times, but I still stand in fear.

All of this brought to light my own inadequacies of faith, that maybe in the back of my mind God is not actually Asher's super hero, perhaps in my mind, I am. Don't we all want to be this for our children, swooping in at the first sign of trouble, scooping them up before the are the victim of some evil genius scheme? It seems that in my hopes to teach him of a real hero, I'm making myself out to be a better one, and that is a real farce indeed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


In my mind I have a grand idea that maybe some day I might be a writer, but then most of the time fear and indignation step in front telling me I wouldn't have the drive to finish anything, and even if I did, no one would want to read it anyway. It's a tough critic, this heart of mine.

Now that I have that little barrier thrown out there in the open, I suppose I should write something, at least for the time being.

I've been caught in contemplation quite a lot lately, mostly in regard to who I am today and who I was and how alternatively different those two people are. Chatting with a friend today I was reminded that just ten years ago I had no desire to be a wife, and certainly not a stay at home mother. I wanted to do something that made me look smarter than I am, I wanted to have a string of letters behind my name that made people steep in insecurity over how great my resume must be, a statement that I was somehow better than they were. At one point I thought maybe I'd be a fashion buyer, a merchandiser buying what would be the next biggest trend. Everyone would thank me. Whatever it was that I chose to be, in my mind it had to say something, it had to have "stick it to 'em" written all over it in permanent pen.

And in many many ways, who I became says anything but that.

What I know to be true now, what I had no glimpse or glimmer of in those days past, is that who I am today is exactly who I was made to be. I have peace and joy everyday, contentment in increasing measure. What I know is that I could never be happy fighting against who it is that God made me to be. We need to stop asking God to help us follow our dream, we need to ask him, "What are you dreaming for me?" and in the same moment, with the same breath, utter "Because whatever it is, I trust you. I will do it, I will live it to the full and pursue it wildly." In this there is forward motion, peace.

This most recent year here in Peoria has been a year of stretching and growing and learning about so many things. Things of God and who He is to me, in my life, in this stage of raising little ones, expectations and living humbly. My marriage is growing to be better than it ever has before as I learn to give and give and deny myself and my temptations for expectation. I'm seeing how lax I can be in providing boundaries for my children all the while losing my own self control in my attempts to strengthen theirs. I see that there is true power not in lording over others, but in meek mannered service, in doing things for my husband and strangers that they could do for themselves and doing them joyfully.

I'm trying to listen more.

It's amazing how empowered I have felt as I do more and more for those around me without desire for reciprocity, the me that I've been looking for has found a pin hole of light and I am slowly crawling my way out of the darkness. I hope you can too.

Monday, July 18, 2011

June Helen

I sense that quiet moments like these are going to be scarce in this house, but I'll revel in this moment with three peaceful sleepers, a cup of steaming chai and the easy strokes of MacBook keys at my fingertips. I want to write about June Helen, about her birth and the days that lead up to it, about the waiting and the trusting in a timing bigger than my own and what a joy it is to add her to our home. I want to write so I don't forget.

This third pregnancy was HARD. It was the most difficult of the three, not only because I had a three year old and a 1 year old to keep up with, but because various medical conditions kept creeping in, causing pain, causing distress. Varicose veins kept my left leg perma-bound in a compression stocking, pelvic symphysis kept me home bound more days than I was used to. Many many nights I was kept awake for hours at a time, insomnia became the norm, I expected it nightly at 3am, I fought every day not to be a wretched grouch to my children, my husband. It was such a battle. Four weeks prior to her birth I started having long bouts of false labor, contractions for 2-3 hours, contractions when I walked, did laundry, played with my kids, like a boa cinching my insides when I dared to move.

I wanted desperately to be done with it, to just have the baby early and be finished with the trials of pregnancy. I reminded myself daily to be thankful, knowing so many women who long desperately for a baby, willing to endure anything for the chance at another life. The whole process forced me to trust, to be content that God alone had a perfect time for our little bundle, whose gender remained a mystery. I knew that while I didn't understand at the time, on the day our baby came I would see the whole picture, it would all be clear.

At 330a on July 7th I awoke (as per the norm) to contractions. I laid in bed for an hour, they continued, I couldn't sleep at the hope that maybe, just maybe, this was it. I got up, when downstairs and read some scripture on peace. Another hour passed by and I started getting pretty elated, they were coming stronger and faster than ever before. I decided to put on a little makeup, fix my hair, get dressed in the event things picked up. I wanted to look nice when I went to the hospital. Ha!

Corey woke up around 630a, I told him how things were going, told him it would probably be a good idea for him to stay home from work just in case, I called his mom so she could drive the 45mins in from Havana where she had been staying.

When Melanie arrived at the house shortly after 7 the commotion of her arrival compounded by an ashen faced and groggy Asher (saying he felt sick) caused a halt in the contractions all together. Corey and I decided to get out of the house; thinking that walking would get things going again we made trips to Target, the mall, Fresh Market, all the while the contractions remained anywhere between 10 and 20 mins apart. We ate lunch together at Qdoba. We realized that while frustrating, this time was really such a blessing. We were able to spend the whole morning together, just the two of us, talking and laughing and indulging in new types of chocolate. The unexpected "date" on what we hoped was our little one's birthday was special, preparing us for the arduous task of what was yet to come.

At 145 I went to a scheduled appointment with my midwives and the bumpy drive on Rt. 6 to the Center for Health seemed to kick start things again. I started having contractions consistently every 5-10 minutes. I chose to get "checked" for the first time my whole pregnancy and discovered I was at 4cm, +2 station, progress was being made despite the starts and stops. We left and decided to go ahead and "preregister" at Proctor, since I had procrastinated on doing so. I had a strong contraction while signing the paper work. Corey joked with the woman at the desk that we'd see them later that night and we strolled to a nearby bench to see if relaxing together in the sun might keep things afloat. It didn't, we went home.

I went to our upstairs bedroom alone, disappointed, near tears, thinking how strange it was to lay there hoping for more pain. For it to be faster and stronger. I prayed to meet my baby that day, but also resigned the choice to God, professing a genuine trust that He knew what was best. Forty five minutes into resting things started getting intense. The contractions were still only ten minutes apart but so strong I could hardly breathe. I called my midwife, she said she could tell by my voice it was time to go to the hospital. I ran down the stairs between contractions in near tears of joy and pain!

We arrived at Proctor around 430P and I could scarcely get into my gown between the intensity of the contractions. Shortly after my friend Krystal strolled in, she is training to be a doula and I wanted so much for her to be there for this birth, for her to see how crazy and glorious an unmedicated birth can be. I was scared that maybe this time I'd wimp out and disappoint her, having some one less familiar in the room produced more insecurity in me than I had thought. Sherry Hartenbower was in the room shortly after Krystal, her infectious smile and maternal presence seemed to help me relax despite the contractions moving fast. After testing out 3 of the hospital's birthing balls that Corey dug out of a closet for me, I settled on one and got as comfortable as possible. I had my 20 minutes of monitoring and was set free to move about. Corey's iPhone was streaming some mellow tunes in the style of Zero 7, my feet were cold while the rest of me was sweating, Krystal and Sherry helped to keep my shoulders relaxed with gentle massage while Corey did the hard work of keeping counter pressure on my lower back during contractions. I was soon to find out that the extra pain there was thanks for posterior positioning of the baby.

For 3 hours I labored in ever changing positions as Sherry tried to encourage the baby to turn. I preferred the birthing ball, but also labored on my hands and knees, standing, laying on my left side. Transition came, it was hard and rapid and I found myself growling to alleviate the pain despite an insecurity in the back of my mind that I was most likely being heard by the entire floor of this small, quiet hospital and a fear I was really freaking Krystal out! There came a point where I knew transition was over, but the need to push was weak, there was very little pressure, though pushing seemed right. I kept telling Sherry it "felt good" to push but that it didn't feel like I was pushing anything. After a short time, Sherry told me she felt that I was "breathing" through the contractions more than pushing through them. With the next one I pushed with some gusto and watched as the bag of waters exploded across the room like one of those water canons on the pirate rides at Disney World. I mean, it was like a clip they might use on SNL when a woman gives birth to some hairy faced man baby smoking a cigar. But at this deluge, I could tell pushing was going to be different.

After several bouts of pushing I started feeling hopeless, like my efforts weren't getting me anywhere. Corey whispered to me that he felt like I was insecure about being "loud" and I realized I needed to do whatever it took to get this job done. I felt like pushing in a squatting position was going to be most productive, so I stood on the bed with one arm each around Corey and Krystal. I remember feeling nervous about the first push in this position, afraid I would tear if I pushed too hard, not sure how different it would feel. Sherry told me to push HARD, so with the next contraction I pushed as hard as I could, eyes closed, shrill banshee screaming uncontrollably. I opened my eyes to find that I was full out standing on the bed, barely even holding Corey and Krystal, towering over everyone while I panted like a crazed wildebeest about to enter stampede. It was a little embarrassing. Sherry told me she needed to hear LOW sounds, that I needed to focus on making everything low; in my legs, my sounds, my efforts. I took a break with the next contraction, and as felt the next one coming on I tried my best to "go low" and lo and behold, I got to look right into the face of our little bundle (which was cool and a little creepy at the same time). Sherry had me reach down with the next push and I was able to actually pull the baby onto my chest myself!

To some one who has never had a baby, I just can't explain to you the joy and relief and elation of this moment. The fatigue and fear of the prior moments just melts away as this bluish, squirmy little life lays shocked and wailing against your skin for the first time. There is a love that is so instantaneous, you forget that you ever worried that you wouldn't have enough love for another addition to your family, you forget that you wondered if they would be cute, or if you'd be able to handle this little child. In that glorious moment as you cradle this precious gift against you, time is still and you just KNOW that it will all be alright. Everyone stood staring at this sweet little baby for several full minutes before the nurse asked, "Do we know the gender?!" Hilarious as it seems, we didn't even think to look! As little June squirmed and wiggled and the umbilical cord pulsated we kept flipping her around to try to find the story telling parts. It took probably a full minute before we realized she was a girl! Corey's hopes were heard and my dreams of a built in best friend-playmate for Shiloh were realized. She was wonderful from that very minute. The staff at Proctor let her nurse and snuggle for what seemed like so long, I savored every minute of her near me. When she seemed satisfied with nursing I let them take her to get wiped down and weighed. She was exactly 7 lbs, 18inches, bald as can be and perfect in every way. Her little head gave no indication that she had just been through such a taxing process, she looked several days old from that very hour.

By the time all of this was done and little June Helen was being taken to the nursery I was spent. Hours of labor tacked onto a long day of hoping preceded by less than 4 hours of sleep sank in as utter exhaustion. Krystal, more serving and helpful than I could have hoped, took off for Chile's to pick up dinner for Corey and I at 9 at night (as neither of us had eaten since noon!) and I laid there near passing out while Corey chuckled at Jon Stewart's late night shenanigans. Something about the normalcy of this moment with him, laying there while he watched TV, just seemed so fitting of us, how we weather everything so seamlessly, how nothing seems to shake him. He is such a solid force for our family, a stability I missed growing up without a dad. I loved him even more in that private moment together as he held my hand and we joked about cable being the best part of the hospital.

I bonded with June right away. I can't say exactly why, it took longer with Shiloh though I think I bonded with Asher before he was even born. June has a sweetness to her, and old soul, a peaceful way handling the crazy world around her. I just can't wait to see who she'll turn out to be.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Sometimes I feel like there are words bulging at the very tips of my fingers, dormant and aching to be released. I feel that way often these days with busy little ones vying for my time and no access to a keyboard for quick out pours of thought. My iPhone is a wonderful blessing, but blogging from it is a frustrating exercise, both tedious and consuming.

Tonight I was blessed by the words of others. My dear dear Rachel who knows me so well enticed others to share their words with me, about me, and while this can often be an awkward, uncomfortable encounter it always leaves the recipient a little lighter and more full of joy than before. As I wander through these days of young motherhood, struggling to learn how to best serve my husband, my children, the kingdom and those who need it I can't help but wonder if I'm doing well, how others perceive my constant push and shove to learn and grow. To never remain stagnant, never walk in circles. At this precipice of new addition it is so so sacred to hear words of encouragement, that other women who have both walked this road before me or who are walking it along side me see good in me, that the gold in me isn't just good intention but that I am living it out enough for it to shine.

I guess in light of that, this is a thank you. Thank you to you ladies who shared laughs and booty shakes with me tonight over coffee and savory treats. Who were willing to share vulnerably the things they see in me. Know that it came at JUST the right time, and that I love you all more for it.

And baby D#3 will be well diapered to boot!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Seven short days separate me from the day I was married. Six years ago on that day I made a commitment, I spoke vows, I kissed the man I had loved for so long for the first time. The interesting thing about marriage though, is that it wasn't just me that did all of those things, WE did those things, together.

I'm learning as years pass and life changes and new little people enter the picture; as Corey finds a rhythm and purpose for his career, that no matter what other factors are in place this one truth remains: the most important part of my forever here on this Earth, has to do with this man. Who we are together and who we help one another to be when apart shapes and shades everything else. I CAN stand alone and be who I want to be, but at what cost?

In these six years I have learned more from Corey, from union, from highs and lows, than I've learned anywhere else, any other time, but the most important element of life I've learned from him is integrity. This man is HONORABLE. He was everyday of our dating adventure, never putting us in a situation to compromise the well being of our love, he is in his daily walk, he is at work, at home, in the car. In every way he is worthy of this description. I aspire to be a suitable helper in his fierce battle for this everyday. It has made me better. Honor was never really my strength of character before him.

I think God knew I needed marriage to grow this way. He knew I could only know Him intimately through engaging this married life. He knew that having been abandoned by my own father, I needed to see Corey raise up these children to understand how He has been there raising me up all along. Not everyone needs this. I know I did. And I LOVE knowing that this is forever for me, there is NO option of separation, of life apart, of growing cold or old or too much of something for each other because when you marry a man of honor, you can put your trust and faith in that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

long time coming

I want to write more often. So badly. Between the obligations of each day, and the perfunctory joys I find little time for the things that are solely for me. I accept that as this era, this glimmering moment in time when my babies are little and my husband is away many hours. This time just isn't for me.

Even so I am learning to revel in the minors, the details that make me savor. I've so enjoyed waking up to the sunrise in my kitchen, pulling back curtains to feed the little vase of flowers I keep, observing how the flowers I planted have grown and are thriving all the more even just from the night before. Planting and growing and making the mundane beautiful is a gift, I've felt so often that kneeling in the dirt with flats of flowers and border vines is soothing to my soul, and that God speaks to me in those moments. My children run about in the yard with shovels of sand or wands for making bubbles and He speaks to me about creation and my place in it and sometimes things make sense to me there, that would otherwise have remained a mystery.

I've started REALLY praying for my husband for the first time in six years. Not just the mundane "Please help him, Lord"s but a daily list of specific details for his life that I would otherwise have never known to speak. It makes me feel more connected to him, to what he is when he isn't here. I never worry that he is not the same man, I married a man whose strength is his integrity, his penchant for honor and truthfulness. All the same, praying that he enjoys his day, his activities, his relationships outside of our family, even praying over his manliness as he strives to pattern it after Christ is helping me see him a little bit differently.

I know that soon, likely less than 8 weeks from today, my mornings will be shared with a new little wide eyed soul. Fresh and innocent to the ups and downs and striving of this life. I have a responsibility to maintain that innocence as long as possible, my children have a right to savor childhood as long as possible. It is so much up to me to ensure that, and to do so I must make myself innocent in my example. This is so hard to do in a world with worldly pressures. Even now I'm at the crest of deciding painful things that will speak volumes in the lives of others, the question of do I meddle and in trying to do what's right, potentially do harm? Or is more wrong done in simply ignoring otherwise unseen evils? These are hard rocks I face and must protect my children from for now.

It's 7am now and time for everyone to rise, but this simple thirty minutes of expression feels good, I think I need to make more time for times such as these.