My Heart Is a Garden.

"I have surrounded the borders of my garden with a protective hedge to keep any animals, winds, or other harmful varmints from getting in to destroy the plants I have so purposefully planted.  I am very intentional about my garden, it has provided me with many years of pure joy.  All gardens are prone toward ruin unless they are cared for every day.  But mine is a work of love, and so I am committed to keeping it beautiful every day, as long as I live."
                      -Sally Clarkson, quoting an unnamed British gardener

"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of live."
                        -Proverbs 4:23

Lately, I am learning the discipline of gardening my heart.  That is, bringing my doubts, complaints and pity party tendencies before the Lord and sewing seeds of thanksgiving and worship.  Fixing the eyes of my heart on beauty and my eternal hope and learning the practice of bringing every worry, every unknown before God and resting in Him.

 I say discipline and practice because this does not come naturally to me.  I can easily stew over a frustration or worry and work myself up into a tizzy.  I can easily let all kinds of weird ideas and beliefs rush through my garden gate and not protect that which is beautiful and life-giving.  Lord, help me to sew in truth and love and tend to the weeds that choke out life.


Kid Comps

First Kid: potty training encouraged.

Second Kid: "Mommy, I want to tee-tee in potty."
                    Me: "Are you sure? Why don't you just go in your diaper?"

Third Kid: I can't even imagine...


I Win & Looking Ahead

"I win!" is heard often coming from my eldest son's mouth along with these other charming phrases:

"I'm going to get there first!"
"I am going to beat you there!"
"I did it the fastest!"

Usually these observations and predictions are directed towards Elliot.  Elliot is still young enough that he doesn't really understand that he's being challenged or mocked and his happy-go-lucky personality has served him well with an intense bigger brother like Henry.

It makes me wonder what their dynamics will be like as they get older.  Hopefully we can keep the competition friendly and fun and with minimal tears.

On Saturday, we went swimming at Adam's parents' home and I snapped this picture of the three boys lying on the warm concrete.

In that moment, I imagined them in 10 years, riding their bikes together and camping with Adam.  I imagined them in 20 years with their heads all huddled together, still laughing about something silly like poop and gas. I imagined them in 30 years, maybe at the beach with their young families.  It made my heart glad.  I am so thankful that the Lord gifted my boys with one another.

I pray that the have enduring loyalty and love for one another and that fun and life is always evident in their friendships.

I pray that they encourage one another to persevere in following Jesus and to not grow weary in doing good.

I pray that they can laugh together one day about how weird Adam and I were, can sing our songs and impersonate our mannerisms but that they know, really, how much we loved them.

So much.


What Not to Say (& Other Funnies)

1. I was at Trader Joe's the other day and I had Collin in the ergo carrier. An older gentleman was working at the sample counter and he inquired after Collin, asking if he was an only child. I told the man that we had two other boys and he launched off into the following story:

There was a lady in here earlier, pregnant with twins. Now, she wasn't as old as you but she told me that she already had six children at home. God bless her!

Now, I'm going to be vain and hone in on the part of the story where he matter-of-factly told me that the woman wasn't as old as me. Ummm, I am 29 fracking years old for the next two weeks. And this woman already has six kids, she's probably not that much younger than me. And even if I look ├╝ber old, just don't assume, man. It's like not assuming anyone is pregnant ever, ever, ever.

Then, the next week, Adam told me that the cashier was like a younger version of me.  (Given, he said it because she was singing silly songs and she was like 18 but still...)

The lighting in trader joe's must really contrast harshly with my skin tone.

2. My allergies have been acting up for the last couple of weeks. I still feed Collin a couple of times during the night and it seems that as soon as I walk into his dark room, I am overcome with that pre-sneezing sensation. I try to fight it and bite my cheek really hard, not wanting to wake him up. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.

3. Henry & Elliot go to school two mornings a week. The last two times that I've come up to Henry's class for events, this little girl has come to sit by Henry- even when her little girlfriends ask her to sit with them. In fact, at the class picnic, it was Henry, Ella, baby Collin and me on a blanket. I sort of felt like I was supervising a date?

Henry never talks about girls so I inquired after Ella and if she was a friend.
Henry said, "We just hug and say 'I love you.'"

Oh, dear.

4. Elliot gets lots of words mixed up. He always confuses off & on, up & down, and many others. The funniest is when he toots and giggles, saying, "I burped."



The boys have cultivated a love for fishing (even pretend fishing) just like their Daddy.  Adam was introduced to fly fishing when we lived in Pennsylvania and so enjoyed it. It's been so good for him to share that with the big boys (or his "little buddies", as he calls them).  May has been an off-service month for Adam (not in the ER) and so he's been home every weekend and we have all enjoyed that tremendously.

Honestly, our boys were made for outside (as I'm sure many boys/girls are).  It seems to diffuse so much tension and anger and frustration and they just come alive, exploring and enjoying creation.

our neighborhood creek (where we saw a water moccasin this week...aaaaaaaagh!)

Benbrook Lake 
just Henry and Daddy and I think it was the best day of Henry's life



The evolution of our family walk.

1 Kid

2 Kids

(fishing poles in the back of Henry's backpack...he wants to be like his Daddy)

3 Kids.



Happy seventh anniversary to the love of my life.


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Year 7 
(sadly the most recent picture of the 5 of us that I could find)


Baby (& Big Boy) Dedication

Adam was off today. He took the boys while i slept late. We had all three kiddos dedicated at church this morning. Best Mothers' Day.


The Physical Side

I got so carried away in my last post about the heart change that came with paleo that I forgot to mention the physical changes. Here goes:

Adam has lost close to 10 pounds and I've lost 4-5. I can tell that he has lost a lot around his abdomen. Adam feels like he has more energy and I am hit or miss there but I think it's more because Collin is still up a couple of times during the night.

Not having beer or wine at night has been really good for us because we feel like we get more done at night once the kids are asleep. Adam says that he also has felt like he has more energy to play hard with the kids in the evening and I agree.

We do spend more at the grocery store, I won't lie, but we never eat out so I think it's making sense for us and the change is worth it.


Paleo Update.

It's so interesting to undertake a project that seems one-dimensional and then realize that there's a lot under the surface, baby.  That's how doing this paleo challenge has been for me (day 12- whoop!).  I noticed that during my first couple of days of paleo, I reached for my phone a lot more.  Especially during stressful moments with the kids or when I felt really tired, I was grabbing my phone more often to just distract and numb myself.  I had been doing that with food.  Grabbing handfuls of random junk whenever the boys were acting up or when I was feeling frustrated from not getting anyone to sleep.

What I had been craving was comfort;  comfort and ease of life and that is a crappy goal.

These past twelve days have been so eye-opening and so freeing, for me.  Not only to eat with intention but to begin learning how to press in and engage with the Lord during those hard moments of motherhood.  I feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes and I am seeing Jesus more clearly and what I'm seeing is not condemnation or judgement on my motherly failings but love and encouragement and peace and joy.  Deep in my heart, I am sensing more clearly his delight in me and my boys and I am having more fun and feeling more inspired in motherhood and life.  In my mind's eye, I see Jesus smiling upon me with intense love in his eyes.

Yes, I have lost my cool and screamed at them and had cruddy moments during these past twelve days but God is changing my heart and I am feeling so much less hazy.  I feel like my mind and heart are sharper and more focused and I'm more envisioned for intentional living and mothering.  I think that this month is a great prelude into my 30's and I am expectant for years of deeper peace and joy and adventure, years of knowing Jesus deeper still.


Bedtime shenanigans

Henry & Elliot have been sharing a room now for about two months. It's been an...adventure. Our strategy for getting and keeping the boys in bed has changed quite a few times and I've laughed and cried.

In the midst of some craziness and frustration, the beauty of the room sharing is the friendship arising. Bedtime sometimes seems like the only time of day that no one is crying, hitting, or taking toys. Even though I want them to sleep, I do love to hear them giggling and having fun together.

The problem is this: give then an inch and they take a mile. The giggling and whispering quickly turns into book throwing and room escapes to run laps around the house. It's maybe how sometimes riots start from peaceful demonstrations?

Ah, adventure.


In Spite of Me.

Confession:  There is fear in writing something like this because I am no theologian but I am learning to say things that not everyone will like or agree with and that's a good thing.

I was talking to my dear friend, Brooke, and we were talking about our weekends and I told her that I'd had a revelation over the weekend and it was this:  When I look back at the past 10 years of following Jesus, I see that even despite my failings and my disobedience and despite choosing comfort and selfishness much too often, I hear Jesus more clearly and know him better today than 10 years ago.  Brooke agreed and felt the same way.

This amazes me because ten years ago, I "performed" so much better than today.  I was a leader in our college ministry and I did my little daily quiet times a certain way and I went to college events and outreaches.  I was really going for it.  Today, I am often elbow-deep in poop and, because Adam is working 3/4ths of Sundays, we are not even in a small group right now (gasp!).  Between then and now, I've had seasons of apathy & laziness, not taking time to seek His face.  I've had seasons of idolatry, thinking that comfort or losing weight or whatever would be really satisfying.  But despite it all, despite me, the Lord has pulled me closer and closer to his heart.  He is speaking more clearly and I am seeing Him more and more.

This leads me to the following conclusion:  Scripture is true.  His mercies are new every day.  He is faithful even when I am faithless.  Any good thing in me is because of Him.  Jesus did not come to condemn me but to bring me freedom and nearness to the Father!

In fact, about 3 weeks ago, I had a "gray area" decision to make (a decision that was not wrong in and of itself) and I heard clearly from the Lord that this was not for me.  In fact, every time I'd ask him, the first thought that'd pop in my head was a gentle "No, babe.  This is not for you."

But I ignored it in a fit of optimism and I went down the gray area path for 2 weeks before I turned back and said "no" to it.  I felt so dumb.  Why didn't I just listen in the first place and save myself the time and stress of saying "yes"?  I was kind of beating myself up about it and something in me felt like I had to build up my rapport with the Lord again before He would speak again or trust me again or even bless me. Then, this weekend, I heard the Lord really clearly and was able to encourage someone who was struggling.  I felt so humbled.   After all, I hadn't been "performing" well.  And once again, it's clear:

His mercies are new every day. It's his grace and kindness that lead me and not my performance that earns His grace.

The enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10) and that voice that tells you that you have to build up your rapport with God before you draw near to Him is a lie.  Behold,  He stands at the door and knocks now (yes, even with all your junk!).  Life and freedom are in his hands and joy and peace are found in his presence.


Top 3 Kid Games for Tired Parents

1. Hide n' Seek. Especially as they get older and their endurance for hiding and seeking grows. Henry insists on being the seeker and so I find a really good hiding spot and have a couple of minutes of calm.

2. Doctor. It's simple: lie on the couch and let your child take care of you. Wonderful for a quick rest. Bonus is seeing your kids' imagination at work. I'm amazed at the everyday items that our boys turn into medical equipment (and vice versa)

i.e. Elliot playing with a chest tube from the hospital. It's a rocket!

3. Jail. Your kid is the policeman. You are the bad guy that they put in jail. Once in jail, you just sit there and don't escape!
the jailhouse

Honorable Mention: any game where you pretend to be asleep.


My Chief.

I am so proud of Adam. He was selected to be a chief resident for his last year of residency. Adam has worked his bum-bum off during residency and medical school. Basically, he's either working at the hospital or at home hanging with me & the kids or sleeping. Even when Adam's sleeping, the guy is listening to medical lectures on his headphones.  (EVERY night. True story. Then he dreams about it?)

The Lord has been so kind to us during these years and carried us through medical school and residency. I'm so thankful that He made a way for Adam to become a doctor because it is so clear that he is doing what he loves.  He cares a lot.  I love him and have loved watching God bring this passion and purpose into his life.

 Adam at his white coat ceremony
 1st year of medical school


The Pros Outweigh the Cons.

Collin's infanthood experience is much different than his brothers' experiences.  With Henry, I was able to rock and nurse him in a dark room, singing quietly.  Elliot got the quiet nursing treatment about 50% of the time, since Henry was 18 months old and still napped or Adam could wrangle Henry while I took care of Elliot's sweet moments.

Now, Collin comes around.  Adam is in residency and so it is often just me and my little guys.  So, many days, while I'm trying to get Collin to sleep in his dark room, Henry and Elliot come busting through the door.  Then Henry usually climbs on top of the chest of drawers and jumps off repeatedly.  Elliot likes to open the closet door and pretend it is a elevator and then jump out and say, "SURPRISE!"

Collin has less of the sweet, quiet moments.

But the trade off is this:  two older brothers who adore him and entertain him constantly.  The first time that Collin really laughed was as his two big brothers ran in circles, screaming, with their arms hanging out of their t-shirt neck holes.

I think he'll be okay.

(the two videos are Collin laughing at the big boys in the backyard.)

Mindless Munching

I think that the #1 thing that's been brought to my attention during these four days of paleo-ish has been how much mindless snacking I do. Kids don't finish a protein bar? I eat it! Pouring the kids Cheerios? I eat some! Feeling stressed? Grab a handful of anything!

If nothing else, I'm so glad to be made aware of how unintentionally I eat. It's ridiculous and often a response to stress or frustration or sleepiness, which in turn makes me feel cruddier.

Hoping to turn that knee jerk snacking impulse into prayer & thanksgiving. Give me a teachable spirit, Lord...