Comfort-Seeking Missile

August 4th, 2015

Last night Andy and I sat on the patio with plans to discuss the next couple of months.  Specifically he wanted to run a few travel questions by me and I was all too happy to hang out with him under the patio lights in the cool summer evening air. I think we may have gotten more use out of the patio this year than any year before, but it still never feels like we’re using it enough.  I’m such a nut about seasonal experiences…have I done enough summer stuff?  Grilled out enough?  Gone swimming enough? Have I done enough fall stuff?  Eaten enough pumpkin stuff? Enjoyed the colorful fall leaves enough?

Never.  I never seem to do any of it enough.

But I digress…

We sat outside enjoying the evening and tossing dates and travel options back and forth.  Which residency interview will be a phone call?  Which will be an in-person visit?  When will you fly?  Drive?  How will that fit in?  Where are the residency spots for that specialty?  How many are there?  How does that work?  What’s a GMO tour?  How likely is that to happen?

You guys.

There are soooo many decisions to make right now.

My head swirls with the thought of it all.  For the most part I just offer feedback in the way of, “Whatever you think will be best, babe.  I’m totally on board with anything.  I trust your choices.”

That usually is my gut feeling.  Plus, I can tell myself what a good and supportive wife I am.

If I slow down and really think about it all though, I get nervous.

Not so much about Andy’s upcoming travel and interviews and rotations.  But about our life.  The trajectory it is going to take.

I may convince myself that I’m ok with whatever and I’m totally up for the adventure of it all and I completely trust God to lead us and keep us as we move forward.

But once in a while, like last night, it all really hits me.

We are moving away.

It’s not pretend.  It’s not just a long vacation.  It’s not even far away anymore.

It’s right around the corner and it’s happening and we aren’t coming back.

Even typing those words gives me a lump in my throat.

Even if we do come back when Andy has fulfilled his obligation to the Navy, we are looking at like 10 years from now.

A decade.

I’ll be 45.

Grace will be 15!  Avery will be 12!  Drew will be 10!

Lord have mercy.

That’s forever and no time at all.

When we decided to join the Navy 3 years ago, we prayed and thought long and hard about it.  It was the option that made sense to us.  Andy felt proud to serve his country.  I felt hope at not having to be the primary bread winner throughout Andy’s school tenure.  We felt relief that there was some way for us to move forward with our family and his career.

I still feel that way.  I’m beyond grateful for all the Navy has provided us over the past 3 years.

But back then things were different.  I was working full time and I was stressed out.  I was striving for, yet failing at, work-life balance.  I was disconnected with many of my friends.  My family had just been divided by my parent’s divorce.  I was living out my faith in more of a token way and I wasn’t plugged into my church.  I felt like I was an island.

Back then moving away didn’t sound so bad.  In fact, it sounded like relief.  An escape.

In theory I knew, “Everywhere you go, there you are” and that my issues wouldn’t go away even if I did, but the cost of having the Navy decide our whereabouts seemed like a bargain for what we were getting.  Plus, it was 4 years away and that felt like a lifetime.

It’s not a lifetime.

I’m staring down this final year and last night, under the patio lights, it all felt very real and very close.

Friends have recently moved away.  It was real.

Family is moving away this week.  It is real.

The lump formed in my throat as we were talking.  My eyes became wet with tears.

We sorted out various dates and travel ideas for the fall and then we prayed.  Just as we have every night for the past couple of weeks.  Andy has been really torn about which specialty to pursue, so we decided to pray together consistently for 30 days to seek God.  Ultimately we say our lives belong to Him, so we wanted to discipline ourselves to hear from Him about the next chapter.

As we prayed I listened to Andy’s words.  I heard Him thanking God for going before us and walking beside us and being all around us.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

I’ve heard this verse before.  I’ve belted it out as I drive my car around my familiar neighborhood, to and from all the same places week after week.

I know it to be true and it comforted me last night.

But I still felt anxious and afraid.

I asked myself why.  Why, if I know He will be with me wherever I go, am I still afraid and anxious and uncertain?


I’m comfortable here.  I know the area.  I have friends and family who love me.  I’m plugged into a church.  I’m living in community with people around me.  I know this place and these people.  I’m comfortable.

And, as much as it pains me to admit it, I value my comfort more than I trust God.

say I want to follow wherever He leads me and that I’ll trust whatever He has for me, but when the rubber is meeting the road, I’m scared.

The things I’ve been learning and mulling around in my heart and mind have been powerful.  I’ve convinced myself the truths God has been illuminating for me are rooted deep in my heart.  I’ve imagined various scenarios that might test my faith and I’ve imagined myself clinging to God and not freaking out.

But once again, the minute I feel confident that I’ve “arrived” somewhere in my faith is the minute something happens to shake me up.

To remind me of my humanity.  My selfishness.  My weakness.

Before that prayer time last night, I honestly didn’t see this comfort idol.  It was a total blind spot for me.

As much as I examine and re-examine myself, my thoughts, and my motives, it always catches me by surprise when the Lord reveals a blind spot to me.

Last summer it was pride.  This summer it’s the way I idolize comfort.


I’m so grateful for these words…

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10


How We’ve Been Enjoying Netflix This Summer

July 31st, 2015

Tomorrow is August.


In my mind that means 30 more days of Summer.  The minute September hits I’m all, “Bouquets of sharpened pencils, come hither!”

To me, September = Fall.

Here in Michigan it will likely be hot and humid, our mitten not having received the memo that brisk red and gold days are in and muggy hot nights are out.

I’ve got 30 days to cram in as many twinkle light patio nights, barbecue dinners, chlorine scented afternoons, and after dinner family walks as possible.

When I’m not sucking the marrow out of summer, I’ve been checking out some of the movies from my last Netflix post.

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I had a chance to watch Chef and while the language was intense, I really enjoyed the story line.  Food, friends, family, and a happy ending.  I was all about it.

I also watched the documentary Fed Up.  Oh my goodness.  I used to be a sugar nazi, but I’ve really upped my game!  The film focuses on the childhood obesity epidemic and how so much of the problem is related to sugar consumption.  It’s everywhere.  Not just foods you think of as being sweet.  We’re talking crackers, condiments, marinara sauce, bread, everywhere.  You know how nutrition labels tell you how much fat, protein, calories, sugar, etc is in an item?  You know how they also tell you what percentage that is of your daily recommended intake?  Well they don’t give you the percentage for sugar.  You know why?  Because you’d be shocked at how your innocent looking yogurt is like 200% of your daily allowance of sugar.  Yeah.  It’s cray.  Check it out!

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I haven’t yet had a chance to watch the other items on my list, but Andy and I did stumble across a really cute movie.  Over the weekend we popped some popcorn and watched a fun romantic comedy starring Michael Keaton (who has somehow gotten old…like really old) and Diane Keaton (who continues to look fabulous).  I loved the setting, the storyline, the humor and the warm fuzzy family feelings.  We went in with low expectations and really enjoyed this one.  Check it out :)

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Grace and Avery have their regular favorites and a few newer ones like these….

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I can’t exactly figure out what makes them like a show.  Each thing they get really into is different from the next and some of them I just don’t understand.  But I’m happy that the Netflix kid profiles really are full of decent programming.  I still closely monitor what they watch, but so far there hasn’t been anything sketchy.  Thank you Netflix!

Have you been watching anything good on Netflix lately??  I’m always looking for recommendations, so leave them in the comments! :)


Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.



Summer Lovin’ (Happened So Fast)

July 20th, 2015

More than halfway through July.

Makes me want to cry.

Hey! I’m a poet and didn’t even know it ;)

But seriously.  Summer is my absolute favorite and I feel it slipping away.  I want to hold on tight and never let it go.  I want to slow down and say no to every single thing but lazy mornings and afternoons outside and dinners on the grill.  I want to memorize every drop of perspiration falling from my girls’ foreheads.  I want to mentally snapshot Drew sitting in the grass trying his hardest to munch on a single blade of green.

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Over the weekend I bought a citronella lantern and new string lights for the patio.  I’m sitting outside right now and want to spend every night out here knowing colder temps and darker evenings are on the horizon.

It’s been a cooler than normal summer and while part of me has appreciated the milder temperatures, there’s another part of me….the summer lovin’ little girl who wanted to swim every day and stay out till after dark every night.

That girl wants to recreate those memories with her daughters rather than spending time inside.  I’d love to wake up every day and eat breakfast fast so we can all head outside.  The girls would run around, climb the playscape, ride their bikes, play in the sand and splash in the baby pool.  The boy would wear his sunhat and bounce in his Johnny Jumper while I sipped my coffee and wrote in my journal.

We’ve had a stretch of hot days that have been more conducive to that dream, but my kids haven’t gotten the memo ;)  They’d rather talk me into a few shows while I doze on the couch.  They’d rather putz during breakfast and insist they aren’t full after 2 helpings.  So I get a third and refill water cups and finally get around to cooking up my own breakfast.

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By this point I’ve accumulated enough dishes that it’s time to tackle them before they get unruly.  By this time Drew is up from his morning nap and ready to eat again.  Diaper changes abound.  Poopy bottoms in triplicate.  Bickering and unkind tones arise from the girls room.

I want to yell up the stairs to make it stop.  I’m working at taking a breath.  Uttering a prayer of surrender to my Father.  Asking for grace and mercy that it might flow through me to the girls in all of the many arguments that will inevitably occur throughout the day.  I’m reminded that the Lord desires transformation and restoration more than punishment.  Am I seeking to restore them or just dole out punishment after punishment?  It’s often the latter, but I’m asking God to give me wisdom as to how to restore two small girls who are steeped in sibling rivalry.

I have 18 years to raise these children.  My perspective on those years recently changed.  It occurred to me that I could become frustrated when it’s necessary to teach each lesson over and over and over again, sometimes without any apparent progress.  OR I can understand that it may take 18 years, give or take, to learn some of these basic virtues and each time I teach the lesson, each time I ask God to help me restore them, is another drop in the bucket of them becoming men and women of good character.

I know I’ve only just started to fully embrace the character and virtue I always wanted to look like I had.  Seems to me these sweet little sinful humans ought to be given grace as they navigate these rough waters.

All that and so much more has been swirling in my mind these summer days.  I’ve been waging war against the anxiety that threatens to gain footing every day.  Prayer and journaling have helped.  Vetiver oil has also helped, despite my skepticism that it would.  I also happen to adore its woodsy scent.

It feels like I’m climbing great mountains in my mind each day while I am going about all the regular things.  Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cooking.

I’ve been working on my grilling skills and also trying to come up with healthy, Whole30 compliant, summery dinners.

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Grilled veggies and organic rotisserie chicken fit the bill the other night and made the most scrumptious lunch today. (Throwing the chicken carcass into my crockpot and covering it with water on low for 24 hours makes the easiest bone broth!)

i dont always

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!  I made this comment to Andy the other day when I got the crockpot set up to make the broth…it cracked me up then and even more now that I made the meme!  HAHAHAHA!

This shrimp, zucchini and pesto zoodle dinner was also very tasty.  I’ll be making it again for sure!

We had our first date night in far too long about 2 weeks ago.  We dined at Green Dot Stables and loved everything that crossed our mouths.  I chose four different delicious sliders with a tiny wedge salad and ridiculously good truffle and herb fries.

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We loved the restaurant music and atmosphere and had a great time talking and getting really caught up with each other, free of interruptions from our little minions :)

Just this past weekend we enjoyed sushi and a boat ride with friends we haven’t hung out with in over 4 years.  Where on earth does the time go?

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It was an absolutely gorgeous night and we loved being out on the water filling our bellies and our hearts in good company.  Too bad it takes us 4 years to get around to hanging out with people.  I know life isn’t going to slow down so lately I’m consumed with trying to figure out how to spend time with everyone we love without being constantly on the go because these years with little ones are no joke.  My kids do very well with predictable routines and plenty of time at home with both parents.  I cannot seem to find balance lately and I so wish I could.

It’s time for bed and although I could keep writing and writing about our summer so far, I’m going to head to bed for a little reading before it gets too late.  And before I break 1000 words.

I’m in the running for the ultimate verbal processor.  The competition’s got nothing on this wordy woman! LOL

Grace Turns Five

July 9th, 2015

It is almost beyond my comprehension that my sweet baby girl, pictured here on the day she was born, is now a tall, beautiful, smart and spunky 5 year old.

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Where did the last 5 years go and can I please slow down the next 5??

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For all the emotion I feel about Grace growing up, I have to also admit that I’ve gotten a glimpse of what life will be like with bigger kids and I’m honestly excited for the changes ahead.

Five years old is very different than four or even four and a half.  Grace’s personality is in full force and she’s so fun.  She’s also a handful, but on good days I can view her high passion and emotion as a strength that will take her far and allow her to be a powerful force in God’s kingdom.

On bad days I feel overwhelmed and terrified that I’m doing everything wrong and I want to run away screaming. #truestory

Remembering that God sees her, that He loves her more than I even do, that she is His masterpiece and He has prepared good works for her to do (Ephesians 2:10), and that He is faithful to complete His good work in her until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6) gives me such hope and it calms my fearful heart.

He is so good.  My finite mind cannot even conceive all His goodness.

Now that Grace has left her baby and toddler years behind and is barreling full force into childhood, I’m able to see how our life will change as each of our children grows up and enters this territory.  We can talk with them more to understand what’s on their minds and in their hearts, we can share deeper truths with them and help them wrestle through tough things, we can set off on adventures without being interrupted by nap time, or skipping nap and paying for it by 5pm.  We can stay up late and have bonfires in the summer nights when it’s finally dark.  We can push the boundaries of bed time to watch a fun movie and enjoy a little sleeping in the next morning.  We can watch their creativity blossom as they run and jump or color and dance.  We can explore what they are interested in and move forward with extra curricular lessons and activities.

There’s a whole new frontier ahead and even though it’s only peeking over the horizon, I’m excited for what it holds.

In the meantime, I’m still soaking up snuggles and baby rolls and infancy and toddlerhood…

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Well I am when it’s not pushing me to my knees in prayer over how incredibly selfish and demanding I am.  Let’s not gloss over how challenging parenting really is.

But let’s not miss all the ways it is incredibly beautiful.

Isn’t all of life like that?

Excruciating and euphoric.

Maybe just for a highly emotional gal such as myself :)

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But this big girl with all of her personality and unique fashion sense is

We celebrated the weekend before her birthday with a few friends and a small My Little Pony party.  That was the theme she chose when we went to Party City and wandered the aisles.  She had so much fun choosing party favors and decorations.  I’m glad I thought to include her in the process instead of just doing what I wanted.

My mom spent the night before with us and was SO HELPFUL the day of the party…watching Drew, cutting and washing fruit, giving decoration advice and keeping the birthday girl happy while she eagerly anticipated the party start time :)









Grace also chose all of the snacks (ruffled potato chips, Cheez-Its, strawberries, blueberries and juice boxes) and her birthday cake (vanilla cake with pink frosting and pearl sprinkles)

This girl knows what she wants!


I had fun making my mom’s Bonnie Butter Cake recipe and decorating the cake with all of Grace’s decoration picks.  I will say that cake stands really ought to be bigger!  They are only slightly larger than a standard round cake which leaves NO ROOM for any piping or decorating.  This meant I smooshed the sides and bottom of the cake when I put the glass lid on it and I wasn’t a happy camper about that let me tell you.  Fortunately I was able to touch it up the day of the party and I don’t think anyone but me noticed the messy parts.

The girls all arrived and after a little bit of shyness all started to play together.



I didn’t plan any party games, but they had fun blowing bubbles, playing ring-around-the-rosy, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and running around.




A few of the moms stayed and we enjoyed chatting while the girls played :)


Cake and ice cream (mint chip and orange creamsicle) were enjoyed by everyone.



Her sweet friends were all very generous and brought lovely gifts that she’s been enjoying ever since!






Andy and I bought her a big girl bike and helmet and while it’s still a little too big for her (20″ bike) she’s getting better and better at riding it and she’ll be able to use it for years to come!

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On her actual birthday I took her to get her ears pierced.  We weren’t sure we were ready for it, but after getting her a set of clip ons and seeing how cute and proud she looked in them, we decided to go for it.

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I didn’t get any pics of the actual process because I was holding her hands and helping her get through it (it looked painful and was done one ear at a time!) but here’s an “after” shot when she was picking out a stuffed animal :)

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My sister took her to the movies that afternoon and they had fun playing games and eating popcorn and slushies.  That night we had dinner at Red Robin and the waitstaff very loudly sang a happy birthday song to her.  She was totally freaked out and intimidated by the loud singing but enjoyed half of the ice cream sundae they brought her :)

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Overall it was a great WEEK of celebrating and I’m excited to see what this fifth year of life has in store for my sweet Gracie Bear.

Summer Netflix Watch List

June 30th, 2015

This weekend Andy and I did something we haven’t done in ages.

We rented a movie.

It used to be a regular occurrence for us, but with Netflix we usually don’t have any reason to venture out to the video store.

This weekend we were in the mood for something a little different and we both like watching Oscar nominated films so we rented The Theory of Everything.  It was a great film and certainly worthy of the nominations it received.  Eddie Redmayne was absolutely brilliant in the role of Stephen Hawking.  I always find it fascinating to learn more about the lives of real people, so this movie was right up my alley.

(This movie is available on DVD through Netflix, but my Netflix subscription includes instant streaming only which is why we cheated on Netflix with Family Video!)

I really really enjoy movies.  I love the way they teach me things, expand my knowledge base, pique my imagination and take me to faraway lands from the comfort of my sofa.  Watching a movie over the weekend instead of putzing around the house or wasting time on my phone reminded me how much I enjoy movies.  It made me want to put my darn phone down more often and pick up a good film (or documentary) instead.

I do well with lists, so I decided to put together a “watch list” to reference the next time I find myself wasting an evening in the Bermuda Triangle of social media on my phone.

Here are some of the titles that made my list….these are all available to watch Instantly on Netflix:

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The Butler: This is another Oscar film that I remember wanting to watch when I first heard about it.

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Chef: This movie was recommended to me by my dad and it involves a food truck, so I’m basically sold.

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Fed Up: This one is a documentary and I’m a total and complete sucker for documentary films.  It talks about the crazy sugar problem in America.  After doing the Whole30 and being utterly astounded at the amount of sugar in so many foods that aren’t even sweet, I’m a total sugar nazi now and scour nutrition labels to see how much sugar things contain.

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The Mind of a Chef: Anthony Bourdain interviews renown chefs to learn about their creative process.  There are two seasons of this show and I’d like to try a few episodes to see if it grips me as much as I think it will.  You know me and food :)

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Chef’s Table: This is a Netflix original 6-part documentary series that peeks inside the kitchens and minds of 6 international food stars.  Netflix has proven itself pretty awesome at creating original programs and again, this one is about food, so sign me up!

I’m realizing the bulk of the items on this list aren’t even movies at all which kind of negates the point I was making in the beginning about how I want to carve out more time to enjoy movies.  But they are about food and that’s another passion of mine, so you can see how I couldn’t resist them when I was making my list!

What about you?

Have you streamed anything awesome on Netflix lately???  Hit me with your recommendations, I want to add to my list!



Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.




Cucumbers and Jalapeños

June 24th, 2015

A while back my friend Kristi wrote a blog post about the days when parenting is awkward.

I remember nodding my head through the entire post.

“YES!!” I kept thinking, “Yes, I do usually feel like a traveling 3 ring circus when I take the kids out.”

It was oddly comforting to know at least one other person felt the same way.

You know that expression “as cool as a cucumber”?

That’s how I want to feel when I take the kids out.  Whether I’m alone or out with Andy, I just want to feel put together and cool and breezy.


I feel more like a hot mess.

I’m as “hot as a jalapeño” instead.

Including the sweat.

I’m constantly sweating.  Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, I’m usually sweating profusely as I lug the kids in and out of the car, in and out of the church, in and out of their coats, in and out of the store, in and out of the carseats.

Falling breathlessly into my seat when it’s over, I almost always feel like I need a shower.

I also feel like I’m doing something wrong.  Like all this should be easier.

I’ve blogged before about how I white knuckle my way through each of my days.  Pushing so hard.  Always so intense and focused. Trying to accomplish just a little more.

It’s the same way when I’m on the go with the kids.  I strive SO HARD to keep it all together.  To keep track of everyone.  To have fun.  To be safe.  To look cool as a cucumber even though I’m hot as a jalepeño (literally and figuratively).

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Now that summer is in full swing, my outings often lead me to parks and pools with all 3 of my babies.

Before leaving the house, I carefully pack our bag, making sure I’m fully prepared for every situation…thinking this might help me stay cool while we are there.

Inevitably I forget something anyway.  But, even when I don’t, I still feel like a hot mess juggling everyone and everything.

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I look around at the other moms (and nannies) and everyone else seems to be running well-oiled machines.  They look fashionable not flustered.  Breezy not sweaty.  Perfectly prepared not hairy canary.

Just the other day I was at the park for swim lessons experiencing all that I’ve just mentioned.  While I was sitting on the edge of the pool sweating and stressing, it occurred to me to take a step back (or maybe 30,000 feet) to look at myself.

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I too rolled up in a double jogging stroller with 2 out of 3 kiddos buckled in and reclining peacefully (no one else could tell Drew had been up since 6am crying constantly and that I was worried Avery would start melting down at any minute from also being up too early).

I too had a cute duffle bag packed to the brim with everything but the kitchen sink (which no one else could tell was digging into my shoulder, making me sore and angry with every step I took).

I too was sitting on the edge of the baby pool talking to a friend while my kids played in the water (no one else could tell I was experiencing full-on ADD trying to watch both girls play while keeping Drew out of the sun and attempting to have a soul-bonding conversation with my friend, all the while feeling like I was failing at all three).

I too packed a lunch for my kids and sat feeding the baby while they mostly ate everything set before them (no one else could tell that I was doing complex algorithms in my head to determine whether the girls were getting enough veggies and protein in relation to what they ate for breakfast and would be eating for dinner or that I was extremely self conscious giving Drew a bottle in front of my friend who only breastfeeds).

From the outside things didn’t look so bad.  No one could see how much inner turmoil I was experiencing at every turn.

It occurred to me that maybe I looked cool and breezy to someone else!  That maybe all of us are frantically schlepping our kids all over town and feeling like a hot mess in the process!

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I love love love Glennon Doyle Melton and I remember taking a huge breath of relief when she suggested that life isn’t hard because we’re doing it wrong.

It’s just HARD.

But we can do hard things!

I’m starting to figure out that life is not an “us” and “them” situation.

There isn’t a group of moms who have it all together and those who are a complete disaster.  We are all a complete disaster sometimes.  We all have good days where we’re shining and feeling full of life and hope too.

We don’t know much of anything about anyone else from what we see on the outside.  We could be catching them on their best or worst day.  We could watch them looking like a cucumber when they’re really feeling like a jalapeño.

This makes me want to give us all the benefit of the doubt more often.  Not to criticize someone who’s having an outwardly bad moment.  Not to idolize someone who seems to have it all together.

I want to remember that we are all standing side by side on a level plane.  We’re all desperately human.  Flawed and magnificent all at the same time.

Created in the image of a holy God and rescued from our endless sin by his very own Son.

Cucumber or jalapeño, we need him and we need to love, accept, and encourage one another.

This is all giving me something to chew on lately… (no pun intended ;)

Everyday Life

June 9th, 2015

May was a doozy.  Tough in a million little ways.  I’m glad to see it fading in the rearview mirror of my mind.

We may not know what Andy wants to specialize in, but, after his month-long ER rotation, we know it’s not Emergency Medicine.  The ups and downs of that schedule were not for us.

No thank you!

June is proving to be better all around.  Summer is my favorite and even though it hasn’t officially begun, we’ve already had some very fun summery days.

We were invited to go swimming with Grace’s preschool friends one sunny evening last week.  Grace was infinitely more brave than she was last summer, and she beamed with pride at her own courage.  Avery played it safe along the edges, which allowed me to keep a close eye on her without having to get into the pool since Drew was planted firmly on my hip, squinting his sensitive baby blues as the sun went down.

We’ve spent long days in the yard and eaten dinner on the patio.  Salmon, corn on the cob and veggie kabobs were followed with fresh pineapple for a summery dinner that pleased every last one of us.  I pretty much want to grill all the food as soon as June hits.

Andy is tidying up our garden beds, adding fresh mulch, and finally installing some edging after years of debating whether it was worth it.

It’s totally worth it :)

I can’t wait for him to have a chance to finish up the job.  It looks so nice and makes me want to sit outside all day admiring it.

I’ve been weeding as though my life depended on it.  As much as weeding can be a pain, I’ve found it to be oddly therapeutic.  I find my mind wandering to the many ways my spirituality is like a garden.

In gardening, negligence is a breeding ground for weeds of all kinds to thrive and choke out the good.  I find this to be so true when I neglect spiritual disciplines like prayer, bible reading, and meditation.

Then there are some weeds that look so tall and threatening, but they’re really no big deal.  They have shallow roots and practically leap out of the soil as soon as you give them a little tug.  This reminds me of the obstacles in my life that feel overwhelming, but aren’t really such a big deal at all once I determine to give them a tug.

Deep thoughts with Rebecca in the garden :)

There’s just something about coming inside after a whole day in the back yard.  Clothes smelling like sunshine.  Kids sleepy from all the exertion.  It all makes me smile.

Another thing making me smile lately is Avery’s new haircut…

Photo May 28, 5 11 38 PM

I cannot resist a little girl with a bob.  It’s so neat and adorable.  I’m glad Andy had the idea to get Avery’s hair cut now before she develops an opinion about it like big sister who wants Rapunzel hair.  Lord help me.

Drew used to sleep on his belly (taboo, I know, but he loved it) and now that he’s more mobile he will roll onto his side sometimes.  I just love sneaking a peek (on the video monitor) of him sleeping and I smile when I see him like this…

The little hands!  The leg and foot!  The diapered bottom!  I can’t even handle the cute.

Drew smiles at just about everything…

That face.  OMG.

I smile watching Grace spend HOURS drawing and coloring at the dining room table.  Her love for art has really blossomed in the past few weeks and it’s a joy to watch her create.  We updated her art stash with a giant box of fresh crayons and a new set of water color paints.  We bought a fat new coloring book and a ream of white paper too.  These simple supplies have provided hours upon hours of entertainment for her.  I found a YouTube channel dedicated to “how to draw” videos that are perfectly tailored to young artists.  Grace has had a ball working her way through each of the videos.  This Mickey Mouse was one of the early products of the video tutorials and I was so impressed with it!

Photo Jun 04, 11 14 17 AM

Her passion and talent make me smile.

I’ve had very generous friends watch the kids lately and I’m overwhelmed by their help.  Andy and I were able to sneak off to Lansing for a scholarship dinner thanks to a good friend and my sister for taking care of all 3 kids.  Another friend took the girls for an entire day and I only had Drew to care for (which feels like a vacation let me tell you!) and I smiled as I sat outside with a good book and refreshing drink while my little mister took his afternoon nap…

Photo Jun 03, 4 18 27 PM

Just the other day I read a sample of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I was so hooked by the few paragraphs I read that I instantly had to purchase the ebook.

I read the whole thing in a day, and I felt like Marie Kondo was inside my head putting words to all of my frustrations.

I often joke about being a hoarder, but it’s actually not very funny.  I have entirely too much stuff and I probably spend 30% of each day hating the stuff, stressing about the stuff, trying to organize the stuff, cleaning around the stuff, or downright feeling overwhelmed by the stuff.

After reading this book, I’m THRILLED at the idea of taking care of this problem once and for all.  The author boasts that very few of her clients ever relapse after properly tidying their homes.


If I had 3 weeks of alone time to devote to properly tidying my home (aka getting rid of probably half of all we own) I’d be all over it like white on rice.

I don’t happen to have that kind of unencumbered time, so I plan to carve out what time I can and get to work getting rid of everything and anything that doesn’t “spark joy” –  the process that Kondo details in her book.

I may even have a garage sale despite the fact I’m a die-hard “donate everything” gal.  I just don’t know that it would be feasible to transfer everything I want to purge all the way to the donation site.  I may just get it out onto the driveway and sell it all for super cheap.

I’ll keep you posted on the great tidying of 2015.  I think I’m done being a hoarder once and for all.

Clutter is awful and I just don’t have the mental or physical time for it anymore!

Stay tuned…

Retro Family Fun With Netflix

May 31st, 2015

A couple weeks ago my sister and soon to be brother-in-law came over for a Mad Men finale dinner party.  Some of us have been big fans of the show for a while now, and Andy’s always down for good food and good company ;)

Photo May 17, 5 57 20 PM

I thought it would be fun to have a retro dinner party featuring food and drinks from the 60’s, the decade in which most of the show was set.

Ellen and Kevin brought the drinks (Gin & Tonics and Old Fashioneds) and garnishes (hence the perfectly coordinated fruit in the picture above) and I supplied the meal.

Photo May 17, 6 08 20 PM

We started with shrimp cocktail served up in style :)

After enjoying cocktails and appetizers while listening to actual vinyl records, we headed into the dining room for the main course.

It was fun to set the table with fancy linens and our wedding china.  Every time I pull all that stuff out I think about how I should do it more often!

Photo May 17, 5 33 34 PM (1)

I used this tutorial to quickly learn how to fold the cloth napkins into the crowns you see on each plate.  So easy and such a fun touch!

We were all pretty hungry, so I didn’t snap any pictures, but we enjoyed Beef Wellington, Potatoes Au Gratin and Creamed Spinach.

I chose these dishes based on food featured on the show…Betty orders those sides at a restaurant in episode 2 of the first season and Beef Wellington was featured as a part of room service to Joan and Roger a few episodes later.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from foods so different than our usual repertoire, but OMG everything was so delicious!!!

I found it interesting that the potatoes didn’t call for any cheese, only crème fraîche and heavy cream which more than made up for the cheese that’s typical in so many modern potato recipes.

The Beef Wellington called for pâté , and that is hardly a common ingredient, but I know it contributed to the rich savory flavors of the beef wrapped in the light and flakey puffed pastry.

Creamed spinach may sound like some kind of torture you’d be dished up by a grumpy lunch lady, but holy yum was it good!  That stuff could turn me into Popeye any day!

We hung out after dinner and let our stomachs rest while we listened to more records and got the kiddies off to bed.  Shortly before the last.ever.episode of the show aired, I popped into the kitchen to whip up the topping for the Baked Alaska I’d prepped earlier in the day.

Photo May 17, 9 42 18 PM (2)

I used this recipe and was so proud of myself for pulling off a dessert that involved BAKING ICE CREAM!

I may have gone on and on about it during every commercial break. LOL

It was such a unique and delicious dessert! I know I’ll be making it again.

baked alaska

I thought the series finale of the show was perfect.  It tied up some story lines, but still left much to the imagination.  It didn’t “finish” the characters off, rather it gave us a peek into the directions they were heading.

mad men

Mad Men was such an artful drama.  For me it was just as much about the costumes and design as it was about the story line.  The series felt like an honest look into the past and how life was then.  It was also a real display of human nature.  How flawed and cyclical our lives are.  People are complex and dysfunctional and contradictory and beautiful and messed up.  They were then and they are now.

Netflix currently has season 1 through the first half of season 7 available to stream.  I don’t have the time to re-watch the whole series, but I have gone back to watch the first few episodes again, and it’s so interesting to see how everyone started off.

We had fun talking about our favorite moments in the show and anticipating the ending.  TV can often seem like a time waster, but I think when you enjoy it with people you love, it can be a cool way to bring everyone together.

I’m so glad we decided to have our little viewing party to watch the finale.  It was a sweet evening that I’ll remember for years to come.

Thanks Netflix for getting me hooked on the show in the first place!  Allowing me to binge watch great shows like this one commercial-free is the bomb dot com.


Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Times, They Are A Changin’

May 29th, 2015

It’s all starting to happen at once and I find myself grieving.

Friends of ours are moving to Tampa this weekend and yesterday was the last day Grace and her little buddy were able to play together.  Just this week I sat next to this friend, one I don’t even hang out with much, and we had the best conversation.  We related so much to one another, being in such a similar phase of life.

It made me sad realizing that we probably won’t talk like that at all anymore – knowing how bad I am at keeping in touch with people after they move away.

We have other family who just found out they are moving out of state this summer.  They’ve been talking about the possibility for a while, but now it’s really happening.

Both of these changes make make me skip ahead and think about us moving…to a place we don’t even know.  The time we have left here feels like sand slipping through an hourglass, my heart quickening with each grain that slips by.

I want to hold on tighter.  I feel greedy about my time here and my experiences and relationships.  Instead of being open-handed and receiving what God has for me, I want to be selfish with what I have left.

On top of these changes, Andy’s school schedule has really ramped up over the past month.  It’s going to intensify even more over the summer and fall as he takes exams and travels for some of his rotations.  His travels will take him to FL and NC.  Each of those spots have military hospitals where he could potentially do his residency.

It will be good for him to gain experience, get his foot in the door, and get the lay of the land.  Although we don’t ultimately have a say in where we end up, it would be nice to get a feeling for some of the options as we prepare to uproot our Michigan life and head out to a whole new land.  It would probably be good for me and the kids to travel with him for at least part of the time.  Plus, it’s really hard on all of us to be away from Andy for so long.  This month has really shown that.

But then the grip on my life here begins to tighten and I don’t want to miss a second of what is here for me.

I’ve got to really pray for wisdom and discernment and then trust God to guide me and to give me the grace to obey him, even if it’s really hard.

As I’ve been pondering all of this, it strikes me how much we want comfort.

Well, at least how much I do.

I want my life to be trouble-free, comfortable, and progressing up and to the right, as if life is measured on some imaginary graph.


But are comfort and “progress” what truly satisfy our souls?

I don’t think so.

I think it’s struggle and pain and downward mobility.

Try writing a best selling book featuring those goals.  Ha!  America would laugh in your face.

But God wouldn’t.

Jesus was the epitome of downward mobility.  He left the riches and glory of His seat at the right hand of the God of the Universe to become a lowly baby.  He gave up everything that we might become heirs of everything – HIS inheritance.


The beauty of that makes me want to weep.

Yet I live day-in-and-day-out in my little suburban bungalow striving for a comfortable, pain-free, up-and-to-the-right kind of life.

I pursue this for myself and I pursue it for each one of my children.

That’s why I monitor every minute of screen time and do complex math to make sure they’re eating the proper ratio of healthy foods. That’s why I “couldn’t possibly send them to our local elementary school” and why I want them to have good manners, clean teeth, obedient hearts and trimmed fingernails.

I want them to be shiny little success minions if I’m brutally honest with myself.

And for what?

So that they too can experience self-righteousness, entitlement, boredom, and overindulgence?

Am I really doing them any favors?

Dr. Robert Coles, a Pulitzer Prize winning psychiatrist, has this to say about an alternative kind of life:

There is a worldview which says that anxiety, pain, and fear are part of what life is meant to be, that God himself assumed such a life, that he lived under continual anxiety, pain, and fear, and ended up as a common criminal strung up on a cross and killed.  Now, if you take that kind of existence as a very important one and as a model of sorts, then you’re going to have a difficult time becoming as “successful” as you may have been told you ought to be if you come from a middle-class family.  You have a moral dilemma.

The dilemma becomes, “Do I want to seek after all that the world deems worthy? Or do I want to pick up my cross and follow Christ, even if it looks backwards to the world at large?”

What does that downward mobility even look like in my suburban stay-at-home-mom world?

I know it means letting go of the fear of change.  Letting go of the fear of those who aren’t like me.  Embracing risk in the relationships I have and embracing risk even more, to develop new relationships.

I think it means re-evaluating what I’m trying to make happen in each of my kids.  To be less worried about their grain intake and more concerned that their little souls are being fed the truth about who God is and how majestic His kingdom is.  How they were each specially made to carry out a purpose in that kingdom and how that starts now.  That they can play a part in bringing Heaven to earth.

Even in small moments.

I also want to re-evaluate what I’m trying to make happen in my own life.  I’m so worried about what I should be doing every minute of the day, but it’s always temporal things. I want to be more caught up in eternal things.

Lord give me the grace to lean into all this and not shy away from it…

Our Little Graduate

May 25th, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!!

I’m beyond grateful for the service of each and every man and woman who gave their life for our freedom.  May we not forget what that really means and may we live in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice!

It’s pretty quiet around here today.  Our very own military man is traveling to take an exam, so the kids and I are laying low and trying to get back on schedule after a fun weekend.


I’ve finally had a chance to upload a couple videos from Grace’s preschool graduation program and I’m so glad that I was able to capture a little sampling of the wonderful ceremony.  Preschool was a very positive experience for us and I’m so proud of the way Grace has grown academically and emotionally.  No matter what we do from here on out with homeschooling next year and potential public or private school later on, I think I’d like Avery and Drew to each have a preschool experience after what I saw this year with Grace.


How on earth did the last year go by so fast??


I remember when our little boo bear was a tiny baby and now she’s this big girl so full of spunk and sass.

She was very proud of each song she sang in the program.  Here are a few short clips…



She was such a little ham!  I had several other parents come up to me and comment how comfortable Grace was in front of everyone and how “into” it she was.  We may have a little performer on our hands!


When she walked up to receive her certificate of completion, I had a total flash-forward to her high school graduation and I just know the time between now and then is going to fly.  Dear Lord please help me to appreciate and wisely steward all of the moments I have with her between now and then.



The preschool chapter has closed and we have a carefree summer ahead of us before homeschooling kicks off in the fall.  I’m both excited and terrified of what we’re in for with Kindergarten and I can only imagine the blog posts that will be born out of that experience!

Congratulations Gracie Bear.  Daddy and I are so proud of you :)


Friday Funday: The DIA

May 16th, 2015

Andy is currently doing his ER rotation and that means the kids and I are on our own quite a bit lately.  He’s going between working afternoon shift and working midnights, so he’s usually gone or asleep which has been sad for all of us.

When he decided to be a doctor, I was so happy for him and for the future of our family, but I don’t think I really realized what it would mean for our schedule.

His OB rotation is next and that comes with crazy hours too, so I’m working on keeping a positive attitude and making fun memories in the mean time.

Yesterday I wanted to get us all out of the house for some fun so Andy could sleep in peace.  After thinking through a few options and taking the gloomy weather into consideration, we decided to spend the afternoon at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

I wasn’t sure how it would go with 3 small children, but the day was a great success!


The girls were so well behaved and didn’t touch anything they weren’t supposed to.  They really loved the “Eye Spy” activities sprinkled throughout the various exhibits.  Grace was able to find all but one of the picture snippets!

Avery was happy to see the sights and she too did an awesome job keeping her hands to herself.  For being only 2 years old, I was so impressed with her!

closeup statue

Drew is really easygoing in general and yesterday was no exception.  He had fun seeing new things and being doted on by so many other museum goers :)

me and drew in atrium

One of our favorite features was a projection table that walked us through a 3 course french meal.  We liked seeing all of the pretty dishes and the yummy looking foods!  Grace’s favorite part of the meal was the 3rd course…dessert!

table setting

She is sitting with me while I put together this post and I want to capture some of her thoughts on our fun outing, so here’s what she has to say…

I really liked the cakes… that was the dessert.  My favorite of all was the plates because they were pink and white and those are 2 of my favorite colors.  I really loved the meal!  That was amazing. I really liked it so much.  I couldn’t even scream because it was so much fun!!!!

And we had so much fun together. I really loved the museum.  So that is one of my favorite places to go because it’s so fun and I could even see a horse painting.

Mom let us get a treat.  I chose a frosted cookie and milk.  It was super yummy and it smelled like vanilla!  It tasted like vanilla too and it made my fingers blue.  That’s all I want to say.

grace with cookie

avery with cookie

Avery would hardly sit still for a picture, so it’s blurry but I just love her cheesy smile!  Whenever I ask her to smile I get this face.  LOL

Drew could hardly stay awake from all the activity.  Well that, and it was his nap time.

me and drew

How cute is he with that thumb?!

After our little snack break, we ventured up to the 3rd floor where we took a quick walk around before getting really tired and deciding it was time to head home.

girls in atrium

Admission is free for residents of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties and kids are always free!  What an awesome way to spend the afternoon.  I only wish I’d have had this idea during the LONGGGG winter.

Have you been to the DIA lately?  I want to head back for one of their craft and activity events for the kids.  I know they’d love that since they were so interested in being there just looking around.  What a special memory that I’ll treasure :)

Grace wanted to “edit” some of our museum pics too, so here are her works of art :)


closeup statue edited

princesses at table


She could have spent hours working at the computer fancying up her pictures!  I think she’s got a future in graphic design!

Photo May 16, 2 23 49 PM


May 12th, 2015

I’m calling uncle.

Surrendering under the weight of everything.

Try as I might to engage “beast mode” and conquer all I face with strength and determination, I’m just not cutting it.

I’m not standing victorious on a heap of rubble at the end of the day, cheeks flushed with pride and accomplishment.  I’m dragging my limp legs to the couch where I want to curl up to hibernate.

I like to think I can do it all and then some, but the truth is that I can’t.

I just can’t.

And I hate the sound of that.  I hate seeing those words staring back at me in black and white.  I hate acknowledging that I have any weakness whatsoever.

Weakness disgusts me.

When I try to get to the bottom of why that’s the case, I guess it’s ultimately fear.

Weakness says, “I can’t do it.  I need help.  I’m not enough.” Those sentiments scare me because they imply dependence.

I don’t want to be dependent.  I don’t want to need anyone’s help.

Not even God’s help.

I’m a prideful wretch.  Seeking to be my own savior.  Seeking to protect myself from being hurt. You can’t hurt me if I don’t need you.

I can’t be hurt if I don’t depend on anyone for anything.

I can’t be loved either.

I can’t live in community or relationship if I’m not vulnerable.

If I don’t admit my failings and my humanity.

No hurt, but no joy either.

No risk, but no intimacy either.

We recently completed a church-wide Bible study about vulnerability and taking down the curtains we have between ourselves & God and ourselves & other people.  As we wrapped up that study, I felt God calling me to humility.

I told Him I wanted whatever He had for me.  Anything.

He called me to humble myself.  To allow Him to strip me of my pride and usher me into a sacred space called humility.

I begged Him to humble me without destroying me.  To humble me without taking all that I hold dear (namely my husband and children).  To be gentle with me.  To have mercy on my stubborn and prideful soul.

He has been so gentle with me.  Brutally gentle, but gentle nonetheless.

He hasn’t deemed it necessary to yank the rug out from under me, but he’s been excruciatingly clipping off fruitless branches.

Holding a mirror to my face so that I can peer inside and see my own weakness and His glorious strength.

Like strands of sticky red licorice held tightly in my clenched fist, He has been pulling out the things I go to for my sense of value and worth and control.

I cry and squeeze the strands tighter, but He keeps pulling harder.  He doesn’t yank.  He doesn’t shame or condemn me.  He just smiles at my red, tear-stained face as He keeps pulling.

My self-reliant approach to parenting.

He pulls…

My confidence in my own competence.

He pulls…

My frantic attempts at self-justification.

He pulls…

My tendency to martyr myself and pretend it’s loving service to others.

He pulls…

My inauthentic dance with my husband.

He pulls…

My attempts to rescue myself and alleviate my fears with logic.

He pulls…

Each one of them leaves a gooey mess behind as God graciously pries them out of my hand.  He wants to wash the sticky shame of it all away.  He wants to replace my twisted substitutes for worth with His truth of who I am.

Loved by Him.


He’s a good father and I’m loved by Him.

End of story.

No amount of success or failure changes the way He loves me.

He loves me fully and completely and that’s

Take a couple of minutes to listen to this and let it soak into your heart.  It’s been on repeat over here for months and I cannot hear it enough.


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