Always and Forever Love

This man I exchanged rings with, tall, dark haired, and broad shouldered, helps me tuck clean sheets around mattress, and tells me he is going to massage my back. This man, who lost sleep last night due to my pain-filled, fitful slumber, wants to help soothe the ache and the pain away, shoo it off so I can find rest tonight. He spends time massaging oil into my back and shoulders, calves and feet, kneading out the tension and soreness as best he can, before tucking me between clean sheets, plugging in heating pad to deliver warmth to my spine, and going to gather my nighttime meds and cold water.

He has always amazed me, this man, with his ability to love me so well. He has taken tender care of me post-op times five, when depression reared its ugly head, through loss & grief, through episodes of extreme pain, and now, when chronic illness came to call. 

And somehow, despite all of my weaknesses, this man, this one I love, is still happy to spend forever with me.

All I can think is that God truly knows my needs. And since He knows the end from the beginning and sees the future, He knew that I would need this man.

This man, with his unconditional love, has been the closest thing I have encountered to God and His “unbreaking, never-ending, never giving up, always-and-forever love.”*

This is how Christ loves us, His bride! Not willing to spend forever without us, despite our flaws and weaknesses.

How loved are we?

*If you have young children at home, I whole-heartedly recommend the Jesus Storybook Bible.


Hope for the Weekend

It's one of those sleepy, rainy Fridays where the exhaustion of the week sets in. An afternoon for rest times and naps and doing the last few things that need to be done to welcome Sabbath.

It's a day where physical weariness reflects emotional weariness.

This week I was introduced, by a friend, to this new song by Matthew West. I wanted to share it here in the hope that you are blessed by it like I was:

Wishing you a restful, rejuvenating weekend. What's on your agenda?


Doing it "All" and Doing it Well

Today I'm thinking about how to make time for all the important things in my life. If what we focus on is what we succeed at, how do we spend the time to succeed at many things?

I want to succeed at raising my daughters -- be an intentional mother who helps my girls grow to be loving, secure, self-confident, happy and fulfilled women who love God and treat others with respect and compassion.

I want to succeed at marriage -- I don't want my husband to feel like I don't have time for him or for our relationship. I want to celebrate 50 years of marriage with him, unless death claims one of us first. I love that there are often times when either he or I feel that we are the lucky one. I always want to have that kind of marriage.

I want to succeed at homeschooling.

I want to succeed at interpersonal relationships -- investing time and love into my family and friends.

I want to succeed at writing. This is probably the only thing in my life that is purely for me. Writing makes me come alive; it's my passion. Blogging is one small aspect of this category, but journaling, and writing for publication are aspects as well. This category suffers a lot. It just doesn't seem there's time for every aspect mentioned, but I almost constantly have something in this category on my mind.

I want to learn to be intentional with my time and focus. That when I'm mothering, this is what I'm thinking about and 100% plugged into; when I'm working to help support our household income, this is what I'm focusing on, to make sure I do my best work; when I'm writing or engaging in creativity, I allow myself to truly enjoy it and claim that time for myself, without feeling pulled in other directions or guilty for not using the time to clean my house or be taking care of my other responsibilities.

In the past, I've discovered that the way to "do it all" is to not attempt to do everything every day. I surely can't pay adequate attention and time on all of the categories in my life every day and be intentional and stay non-stressed.

I also know that I can't take on too much. I must be intentional about what I say 'yes' to and what I place on my plate of responsibility. I subscribe to the theory that less is truly more. I refuse to give into our societal assumption that busy = important. I'm plenty busy just keeping up with my responsibilities and priorities without maxing out my planner.

Thoughts? How do you give yourself permission to have time for yourself? How do you create space and time for regular attention to your passions? I would love input in the comments section on this.


The Nights that No One Sees

It comes on gradually throughout the day and by evening I am quiet, thoughtful, moody. By bedtime I feel angry -- at the dishes that are overflowing from the sink for the second or third time today, at all the chores and responsibilities and stressers in my life, and at the lack of solitude and time for myself and the interests I want to pursue.

I go to bed, overheated from anger and doing yet another load of dishes.

I wad up in a ball and press my eyes -- left right left -- as if I mash my hand against my eyes enough times the tears won't be able to escape.

But they do.

My chin quivers and the tears pours out like they haven't in months and I can't figure out what I'm crying about.

It can't be the dishes.

He says he's sorry and is there anything he can do and volunteers to rub my back, and all I spit out is, "My back doesn't really hurt much right now."

It's 5 years from one of my post-miscarriage surgeries and I know that it's possible that my body stores memory and has some sort of internal calendar and that given the state of the pain in my lower abdomen, even if my best friend hadn't reminded me of the surgery anniversary today, my body would've remembered on its own.

I'm sobbing now. Big, loud, noisy sobs that turn my nose so stuffy I can't breathe and eventually I go to sleep with my mouth open, waking periodically with a mouth that feels like I've been sucking on a cotton ball. But not before I cry out a series of disjointed statements and phrases. Phrases about judgment and feeling uncomfortable in certain settings and the longing and the missing and the stress and the ridiculous things that come out at times like this that really aren't a big deal at all.

In the morning, purple eyelids inflated with tears greet me in the mirror. I feel embarrassed and ridiculous and still quiet -- hushed by the big loss of a very little life.


The Art of Letting Go...

Throughout the years I have had opportunity to learn how to let go. Of dreams, of capabilities, of loved ones, and even a child.

Now I am learning, again, how to let go. Throughout these last 16 months I have not been physically capable of doing things I want to -- I have missed a school field trip I wanted to attend with my daughter, I have not been able to take my walks anymore, I have not been able to drive myself and my daughters long distances anymore, due to pain and fatigue. I am not able to domestically whirlwind through the house anymore, due to lack of energy and limping. For now, I have let go of journaling retreats. I can't even sleep normally anymore.

I had a thought today... What if every time I have to let something go, I pick up something new?

What if I install new dreams and new goals and new activities that I can do?

What if when I lose out on one child, I gain another? What if since I can't have more kids due to my health, I sponsor one due to the love I still have to give?

What I'm learning is that this is the art of letting go. This is how to retain joy when sorrow comes knocking. This is how to reinvent myself. This is how.


One Thousand Gifts: My Review

Received and started reading Ann Voskamp's new book One Thousand Gifts today. Now, 100 pages in, I laugh from spontaneous joy, I gulp down the lump in my throat forming from the reminders of hard times, and I feel my eyes being opened in a new way. A way that is so clear I wonder how I have missed it all along.

Ann Voskamp's book is a series of revelations. If you have ever struggled over God's plan in loss and pain, wondered how to find happiness in the mundane, or searched for the keys to slow down amidst schedules and stress, this book is for you.

Don't miss it!


Don't know Ann? Ann writes the blog A Holy Experience, is a regular contributor on DaySpring's site, (in)courage, is wife to a farmer and homeschooling mother of 6. You'll love her heart and this gift of a book!



Last year was my first year to adopt a "Word of the Year" and I encouraged you to choose a word as well. The idea behind Word of the Year, or One Little Word as Ali Edwards calls it, is to choose a word to focus your year or your mindset for the year. It's a way to set a very specific priority.

Last year I chose Nest. Nest served me well in 2010 as I focused on raising little girls, making our home a refuge, homeschooling, nourishing our family with fresh bread and hot soups, and creating a comfortable and peaceful dwelling place. When illness struck, it reminded me to simplify; to use my energy wisely.

This year, I mulled over three different words before choosing Still.

A couple of posts ago, I reported feeling better, that although still not well, my treatment plan was helping me. Soon after I typed those words, my condition flared up again.

It's hard to paint a picture for you of what my life is like right now. If you live near me and see me out and about, you might see me limping or looking fatigued, or you might see me looking put together and think I was fine. The truth is that if I'm out and about, it usually means that either I'm having a better day than most, or I have responsibilities I must fulfill. Either way, I expend a great deal of energy, and may well pay for it for days to come. What you don't see is the pajamas and slippers, the heating pad and the pain meds, the recliner and the bed, the rest times and the struggle to get to the phone before it stops ringing.

This health trial has drawn me closer to God, and for that I am truly thankful. I find myself drawn into His hands and His presence in a new way. One that feels richer and more vital than ever before. I don't know what tomorrow holds and sometimes I fear the future and its possibilities, but I know that He is holding me.

So I chose Still ...

  • To remind me to rest, both physically and spiritually ("Be still and know that He is God." Psalm 46:10)
  • To encourage me that no matter what, God is still the great God He has always been, He still walks with me, and I am still His girl ("I still belong to You; You hold my hand." Psalm 73:23)
 "My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever."
Psalm 73:26  {new living translation}

I want to remember that I am special and God still has a great purpose and plan for my life. Life in a recliner? God can still use that, especially if I am writing for Him. Life in a wheelchair? God can still use that too, no problem. I know, too, that despite physical adversity, if I keep my attitude positive and my eyes open, I will grow. I can still do what I've always felt called to do -- encourage. I can still be a mom and be a good one, even if I can't do everything I want to, or do it alone, or do it perfectly. Sometimes perfection is just perception anyway.

I want to remember to stand tall and keep fighting and not give in to the lies that I am not good enough. I am still just what God can use.


Once Upon a Time: A (Not So) Fairy Tale Ending

Once upon a time there was a happily expectant family. Already blessed with a child, they were thrilled to be pregnant with their second child. They told all of their friends and family, purchased crib bedding and nursery decor, and the pregnant woman went to bed every night with her hand on her belly and What to Expect When You're Expecting on her nightstand.

And then something completely unexpected happened. Towards the end of her first trimester, the woman went in for an ultrasound, and with no warning whatsoever, was told that her baby had died.

We are that family.
I am that woman.
That was our reality just over five years ago.

A procedure was done and I went home no longer pregnant.

And then, perhaps because I was doing such a good job of keeping it together emotionally, my body fell apart.

Four surgeries happened: in January 2006, again in January 2006, January 2008, and March 2008.

And in between the surgeries, we were given the gift of joy: another baby. Born healthy.

And in between the surgeries and the pregnancy and the delivery and the raising of two beautiful girls, my body continued to throw a fit, this time in the form of chronic pelvic pain, often severe.

So here we are today, five years later, and our daughters are healthy and happy. Our youngest recently turned 4 and we are gearing up to celebrate our firstborn's 7th birthday, later this month.

And we are still one child short of what we expected.

So just after the 5th anniversary of losing our middle child, whom we named and loved and miss, we decided to pay tribute, somehow, to the memory of that sweet baby we wanted so badly.

Allow me to introduce to you a little boy who has stolen our hearts. This is Cristian:

Cristian is a little boy from South America, about to celebrate his 5th birthday. It is our privilege to sponsor him through Compassion International*. Cristian was born just a couple months before our baby's due date.

Sometimes Happily-Ever-After doesn't happen, but in this case, we found a way to make some good from bad.

*If you have never heard of Compassion, please take a moment to visit their website and learn more about them, 'Like them' on Facebook, or even consider sponsoring a child


Safely Abiding

Natalie is our snuggly child. As a newborn she was rarely content unless she was being held, and she particularly wanted to be held by me. Now, four years old, she still loves to be with me, whether I’m loading the dishwasher, folding the laundry, working at the computer, or resting on the couch. No matter how small of a space there is next to me, she loves to squeeze in. When I realized this, I began inviting her into the “niche” wherever I was and soon she would ask, in her version, if she could sit in the “mitch.” Wherever I am, she often wants to be. She craves the security of my presence.

And isn’t that just how we find ourselves, spiritually, sometimes… yearning for the security of His presence? In Psalms 91, David addressed this idea when he wrote, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

When she’s tired, lonely, afraid, or just wants to connect with me, Natalie asks for the “mitch.” Every day she subtly reminds me where to turn when I am tired, lonely, or afraid; how if I seek God, I will find Him, and that in His presence, there is joy.

Whether I find myself alone in a tight spot of resentment, bitterness, or insecurity,  or just want to connect with God, I want to be His “mitch-dweller.” Tucked safely under His wing, I’m right where I want to be – living in the shadow of His grace.

(in)courage: A Beautiful Spot

One of the things I most yearn to do in this life is encourage people around me. Since I was young I have wanted to help those who hurt, lift people up, and point them to the One who offers true healing.

In 2009 some fabulous ladies got together and teamed up with DaySpring to create (in)courage. If you have not yet been introduced, allow me to tell you a bit about this amazing site. (in)courage is all about offering hope and encouragement to women everywhere. At (in)courage, there are new doses of inspiration and authenticity served daily. 

(in)courage is a community and a project I am passionate about; I am honored to be featured today.

Have you ever felt like a dirty stain? Like despite your best efforts, your character was irreversibly stained? Click here to read my (in)courage story.
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