Some of my fondest memories of marriage fall in those last few hours before we close our eyes together every evening:

-sitting on the bathroom floor deep in conversation, realizing an hour has past since we went in to brush our teeth.

-jumping on the bed, wrestling, being young and goofy and crazy and strange.

-heartfelt conversations in that tiny space between our pillows.





Last week we were moments from sleep when I turned to D to voice my fears.  It had been a wonderful evening of dreaming together over projects we wanted to complete in our house: starting our raised garden, being inspired for artwork I had been creating to cover our little old house’s battered walls- yet as I lay in bed and daydreamed, I realized I was scared.

Scared I was falling into the “american dream” of a pretty little house with a pretty little fence.  Scared that I would provide a sense of entitlement to my kids.  Scared that I was growing wrapped up in the temporary.

I prefaced my fears with the fact that we have a desire to bless the people who enter our home.  “Groceries” is the only flexible category in our budget since it means we had oodles of people being fed in our home.  We want a place that is welcoming and comforting,  aplace where people feel rejuvenated.  And I love to “arts”.  It feeds my soul and gives me energy.  But where is the line in “living here” but not “living for here”?




Derek hugely encouraged me that night in saying we’re far from there, but then he went on to say something hugely encouraging to me.  God is a creator.  And we are made in His image to create.  It’s a gift.  A HUGE gift, and we’re meant to take joy in it.


As I thought over this again tonight, I plumbed the depths a bit further…God created the world for His glory, yes, but He clearly had us in mind as well.  His heart for us is so apparent in the beauty around us…and this is so gorgeously astounding.




Tonight I was again staring at Rainee, thinking out loud to Derek how crazy it is that God gave us any little part in helping to bring her to life.  (We’re totally going to be that old couple elbowing each other in our kid’s recitals and talent shows, giggling, “We made that!”)







God is a poet.  A romantic. An artist.





But to sum it up….

Go out and “arts” something, and thank God for creativity and wonder and beauty and the opportunity to model His heart.  It’s not a waste of time.  It’s a gift.




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The Start

These days I feel like I’m at the start of the grandest adventure, looking into the foggy distance and catching tiny glimpses of the terrific, terrifying, absolutely grand journey ahead.


Like how I used to be able to fool myself that my time was my own when I was newly married…how that concept has quickly disappeared with one child and is bound to fully disappear with a few more.


Like how I can understand how marriages become tired with a million extra responsibilities piled on…two people who are used to relying on each other being simultaneously overwhelmed, unable to help one another.  Bitterness can happen.  You can lose a sense of who you are when you are focused on making all the dreams happen for the littles.  It might happen to us one day at times…I pray we can guard against it and love like Christ through the exhaustion.


Like how easy it is to be sucked into the American dream….the perfect house, the best career….the things I promised myself I wouldn’t be suckered into…the things that don’t last.  Seek to invest in those around me, and in the little souls entrusted me.


Like how my heart will most likely continue to expand, reach new places of awareness, see new places of sensitivity as we grow our family.  Understanding now what my mom was doing all those nights I woke up to find her whispering to me that I was loved…now that I go to check my child in the middle of the night.  Yes, she’s still breathing.

New fears at 2 am when I wake my husband with questions like, “Will we need a fence to block off the highway?  Is there a smoke alarm in the nursery?  Do you know how to dive!?”, and realizing how terrifying it must have been for my mom to watch me jump into the deep end, pushing myself to the bottom of the pool, as she watched, fully aware she couldn’t swim.

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Like how I see more of Christ’s heart for me as I learn how to brokenly parent.


Like how His characteristics are the only steady on the late nights where I contemplate the future, what I need to learn, what I need to be, who I am in Him.

This life is a terrific, terrifying, absolutely grand adventure.  And it’s just beginning.







When you become a parent, you quickly learn to identify your baby’s cries: filled diaper, exhaustion, irrational cranky/whininess, and hunger.  Hunger is the most persistent cry, in my opinion.  Rainee can be distracted in the other scenarios, but not hunger.  She is focused on one thing.

Learning to nurse the first week, 1 Peter 2:2-3 kept coming to mind.  “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  

Once little lady is hungry, the signs are unmistakeable–nuzzling, licking her lips, nudging, “baby birding it” and she won’t be satisfied until she’s satisfied.

Once she begins nursing, she literally goes cross-eyed with focus.  Her lips blister from the intensity of her sucking.IMG_2863

And once she is fed, fully satiated, she falls into a “milk coma”.  If she’s not asleep, she’s half-dazed, smiling sleepily into the distance.  Completely at peace.

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Do I long for the Word like this?  Ravenous, focused on my next meal, the highlight of my day?

Do I attack my time in the Word fully focused, not distracted.  Is it my top priority?

His Word brings meaning to life, direction in confusion, peace in turmoil.

It’s sad how easy it is to skip over my time with the Lord or be only half there.  When I am fully engaged I find myself thinking, “Why has it taken me so long to get here?  I found resolution to these issues/encouragement for life/motivation/been reminded of the gospel/etc. days ago.

I HAVE tasted the goodness of the Lord.  May I continue to, for without it, I am starved.IMG_2823IMG_2830

If I was to sum up Rainee’s birth in 3 words it would be: Fast. Intense. Beautiful.

I prayed for fast and intense.  Beautiful was just an added bonus from God.

Derek and I headed into the hospital Tuesday at 12 to be induced, as the midwife was fearing the placenta timing out with our happy very content baby still showing no signs of appearing.

Discovering I was only 2 cm dilated, the decision was made to use a foley balloon to mechanically help me dilate.  As the midwife began the procedure, my water broke, discontinuing that route as a possibility.  It was absolutely hilarious for Derek and I as the midwife exclaimed loudly, “This has never happened!” and she and the nurse tried to clean up the mess (and themselves).  There were more exclamations of, “Did we burst a tube?!? No, no, that’s just more amniotic fluid,” and the midwife cracked up to turn around and find my curious husband sniffing the puddles, as people had told us over and over how odd amniotic fluid smelled.


See how optimistic we were?

We were pretty thrilled that things were progressing on their own, but I was personally frustrated that contractions weren’t intensifying.  After two months of non-productive, relatively consistent contractions, I was ready.  We did all we could think of to get the show on the road, as the rain began outside.

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Lots of walking…


Even some walking in the rain…


And of course, we danced (a challenge in and of itself at 41 weeks, folks…)

At 10:30 pm the midwife made the call to insert cervidil.  She explained, “Once in a blue moon this will put someone into labor, but it’s very rare.  Expect a few cramps, get some sleep, and we’ll remove it in 12 hours.”  I had to stay in bed for the first two hours to be monitored, and right away my contractions picked up.  Derek began breathing exercises with me as I tried to relax and listen to quiet piano music.  Contractions progressed and intensified, joined by the shakes, and the last half hour I began to experience something I was completely unprepared for: back labor.  As Derek’s mom pressed on my back, Derek breathed with me, and my mom held my legs between contractions to relieve the shakes.

As the midwife prepped to check me again, the nurse excitedly said, “The shakes are something you normally experience at 4cm or 8cm.  You’re moving along great!” Just as the midwife checked to tell us I had no change at all.

I was too stunned and in too much pain to shed a tear over this, as contraction after contraction hit hard.  On top of everything, the cervidil slipped out and I was exhausted at 12:30 am, not at all prepared to labor through the night.   The shakes had subsided, but back labor increased and I gave up.


We decided to get a combination shot of Demerol and Benadryl to help with pain.  The nurse said later my contractions were too far along that she didn’t think the Demerol helped, but the Benadryl helped me relax my body between contractions.



2 and a half hours later (time had lost it’s meaning with me) I gasped to Derek, “I feel like I need to push! I need to push!”  Shirley coached with new breathing exercises as the nurse ran to get the midwife, but the urge was hard to breathe through as I gasped, “It’s too soon!  It’s too soon!”  convinced I was tricking myself somehow.

The midwife appeared, checked me, and shouted, “Let’s have a baby!” and the room erupted into a whirlwind of new faces prepping for our daughter’s arrival.  In two and a half hours I had gone from 2 cm to fully dilated and ready to push.  Back labor was intense because Rainee was descending so quickly.DSCF6508

Derek said he had never seen such determination on my face as I pushed.  30 minutes later, Rainee arrived at 3:29, as 2 minutes earlier the tornado causing the rain touched down in the area.



Our first meeting


Rainee was very vocal the first hour as I held her, probably largely due to her sensing my nerves as they stitched me up for an entire hour (one of the bummers of not having an IV or an epidural was the fact that I needed shots for all my stitches and still felt quite a few of them).  She calmed down when Derek and I sang her the song we’d dubbed as hers, a song we’d sung to her throughout pregnancy, “Happy Birthday” by The Innocence Mission.

My favorite series of pictures from my mom's camera: Derek holding Rainee for the first time

My favorite series of pictures from my mom’s camera: Derek holding Rainee for the first time.


We were super thankful that both our moms could be there to support us.  They were so invaluable and such a great team, and captured the birth as well.  (The nurses even raved about them later.)


All in all, we’re pretty enthralled with our little lady, who passed her birth weight of 6 lbs 6 oz to 6 lbs 15 oz after just 4 days.  Nursing has had its challenges, but it’s totally worth it.


Thank you for praying for us through the pregnancy and the delivery.  We are so grateful.  Praise the Lord with us for a healthy baby now home with us!  We’re loving being parents.

Now, we covet your prayers as we begin parenting: for wisdom, an abundance of grace, and our refining through the process.

He is so good.




A pregnant girl’s gotta do what a pregnant girl’s gotta do.

There were many things that I didn’t anticipate with pregnancy:
-The frequent trips to the bathroom
-The two months of being terrifically sick all the time
-The lower back pain
-The way my heart would feel the first time I realized we were having a baby
-The deep love I would feel for a tiny someone who just came into my life a few weeks ago
-The intense joy the first time we saw our little one
-A continued better understanding of the way Christ must love us, His children


I didn’t anticipate the worry I would feel.
I’ve trusted God through some heart wrenching circumstances, so I was caught completely off guard by the worry that swept over me regarding our little one.
The first few weeks I was honestly terrified to love….scared to invest emotions or hope into our little blessing, convinced we would lose him/her. Having witnessed my mother miscarry and being surrounded by others who miscarried, I accepted this as my fate. I truly wished to skip ahead to when we were certain we could keep this life.

The Lord has been faithful to speak to me through the Word and my godly husband.


D has consistently prayed with me at night, corrected me when I doubted, spoken deep truths to me that I’ve known for ages but failed to recently believe.

Why is it so easy to trust the Lord with my life but fail to trust Him with the life He has created and entrusted me with?

The words of Psalm 139 have been my prayer, my comfort, my rebuke.


They hang on my fridge now, as a daily reminder.  The phrase “fearfully” in the original Greek means “with great reverence and heartfelt respect” and “wonderfully” translates as “unique, set apart, uniquely marvelous”.  So incredible!  My eyes still mist over when I ponder “How precious to me are your thoughts, oh God! How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”

The God who created me, who treasures me, who watches over me, who has always been faithful….the God of me is the God of my husband, the God of my child…He loves us each deeper, more perfectly than anyone could ever love us.


There will never be a time I will be certain of my child’s safety…and I doubt it will ever get easier.  But I’d better start learning now to trust the One who loves us more than we could imagine.

Oh, this is already a crazy adventure, and I am already greatly humbled by my inadequacies.

But He is so faithful to show Himself greatly in the midst of our failings, am I right?

Terrifically humbled, excited, and anticipating,



I love weddings.  The love in the husband’s eyes as his bride walks down the aisle, the celebration, the support, the tangible feeling of love.  But I almost love seeing them return into social life a few weeks later just as much.  There’s a look in both of their eyes….some couples whole faces seem different.  There’s a feeling of maturity, but much more so a sense of solidarity, comfort, peace.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I’ve always seen this.  I was telling Derek this a few weeks into our marriage, realizing as I looked at recently snapped pictures that we had that same look and resolution on our faces.

There’s something deeply potent about realizing someone has known your whole unfiltered self and not run away.  He’s seen that little mole on your back, your meaningless tears and emotions (and the real ones too), your sickly, sweaty self, your selfishness, your sinfulness…and he’s loved you anyways.  And that sense of steadfast pursuit, he’s not going anywhere, impacts you daily.

At this point, you probably see where I’m going with this.  As I was meditating on how these last beautiful 5 months of imperfect human love have changed me already, I began to ponder how 17 years of searching out the depths of Christ love has impacted me, my life, my face.

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us…By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:16-18)

The greek word phobos used to describe fear here literally means terror.  There is no terror in this real, solid relationship with Him.  He pursues me so diligently and loves me so well.

Marital love has given me the confidence that my husband will return home in the evening, faithful to me.  Christ’s love has given me the confidence that He is always with me, now and forever.  Marital love provides me with a sense of security: I won’t be abused by my protector.  Christ’s love gives security in the present and the future:  Eternity is filled with joy, not fear, praise, not tears.

There is hope for today and hope for the future.  And I pray that daily realization is conveyed in my life, in my actions, on my face.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Stay homesick, Friend.

I said goodbye to my dear girls at the house and dragged my huge suitcase out the entryway.  Deb, house mom at the ministry home, noticed I had traded the normal small bag for my giant leather suitcase.  She smiled and remarked, “Still haven’t decided what to wear yet, hmmm?”

The day was crisper, the music sounded better, the leaves were turning colors along the highway.  My excitement was unquenchable, palpable, nervous, overwhelming.  Excitement over everything I thought you might be…could be.

Now we’re 1 year past our first date.  My excitement in you is deeper now.

It’s confirmed in the way you squeeze my hand in gratitude after a meal I’ve prepared, or happily fold 2 loads of laundry for me without a second thought.  It’s built in the way you speak passionately about Christ, call us to prayer, repent humbly.  It resides in the way you cross over protectively to my other side to stand between me and a passing stranger, the way you hold me and rub my neck when I have a migraine, the way you love on me when I’m discouraged.  It revisits me when you chase me around the house like a child and we collapse into a pile, giggling, or when you whisper “I love you” and kiss my cheek at 4:30 in the morning.  It lies in the new discoveries, the old discoveries rediscovered, in who you are and who you are becoming.

There’s excitement in discovery.  You were my best discovery.

And I’m still discovering you.

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