11.16.2017

Beautiful, Unexpected Grace in the Gospel and Adoption {guest post}

November is Adoption Awareness Month, and how better to celebrate the good news of adoption and redemption than to invite a guest blogger to this corner of the internet! 

Naomi has some great words to share with us today about the beauty and grace we find- in adoption, and ultimately, in the Gospel itself. Thanks for joining us today, Naomi! 



Every adoption is born out of two things: trauma and loss. For an infant, who leaves the hospital in the arms of their loving parents- there is trauma and loss. For a toddler, who cannot verbalize their past and calls their new parents "Mommy" and "Daddy" right away- there is trauma and loss. For a school aged child who for the first time is living as a child instead of as a fill-in parent- there is trauma and loss. For a teen, who finally has someone to provide their needs- there is trauma and loss.

Often, adoption is either romaticized or criminalized. The truth this, it is both beautiful and hard. Adoption should be a story of trauma, loss, and grief that is met with love, compassion, and healing.

How can I state what every adoption story should be? Because that's the way our Father wrote our adoption story. And His Word is the standard by which we should be operating.

11.14.2017

Great Stuff to Give Parents in the NICU

When we announced the birth of our little boy- who arrived eight weeks early- and the fact that we'd be in the NICU for at least several weeks, our people were incredibly supportive. Friends and family immediately asked what they could do, what we needed, what they could bring.

And honestly, we had no idea.


gifts for parents of preemies how to help a family with a baby in the NICU

This post contains affiliate links

I mean, my little guy is in a great hospital, and they really provide just about everything. I decided that I'd stay with our baby as much as possible, which was easy to do in our NICU. The rooms had couches that folded into a bed, there were showers and laundry facilities available for families, we got meal vouchers that allowed us to eat in the cafeteria... and of course, everything our baby could possibly need was provided as well.

But even though we had no idea what would be helpful, we did have several friends (and one very sweet former NICU mom who I actually didn't know at all) who gave us things that were amazing and made the journey so much easier.

While I can't take credit for any of these ideas (since they are all things that were given to me), here were a few of my recommendations of gifts to give a family with a baby in the NICU.



A Hands-Free Nursing Bra


Holy moly.

This thing was life changing. Seriously. It was given to me by a total stranger - a former NICU mom who I actually met in a Facebook group - and it was amazing. My little guy couldn't breast or bottle feed right away, since he was so early, so I pumped exclusively for weeks so he could be fed mama milk through his feeding tube. The NICU nurses called breastmilk "the first medicine," and really encouraged feeding breastmilk to help my baby's immune system, and since I planned on breastfeeding eventually anyway, establishing a supply was important to me.

Pumping wasn't terrible... but it was annoying, time consuming, and frankly a little boring.

Enter this bra. (I have it in a size large-- fits great)

It made such a difference to be able to do something else while pumping-- usually I scrolled through Facebook or googled stuff about ways to help my baby grow. It made the time go so much faster, and the little bit of distraction actually usually helped my supply. Love this thing.


Unscented Lotion

Hand washing is a huge deal in the NICU- no surprise there. Between my own little one's premature immune system and lots of other babies who were dealing with infections or recovering from surgeries, keeping germs out was so important.

After a couple of weeks of rigorous hand washing and hand sanitizing, my skin had about had it. My knuckles started cracking and my hands got rough and dry. I loved having hand lotion right there in my room- I'd wash my hands on the way to the NICU, use hand sanitizer at the door to our room, and then lotion up to protect my poor hands.

Unscented is the best bet, because little babies are so sensitive to smell- especially preemies.


A Cute Blanket 

Okay, so the hospital did provide blankets for parents who were sleeping in the room (and sheets and towels, too), but when my small group ladies gave me a cute blanket, it really made all the difference.

While I wasn't uncomfortable in the NICU, it still didn't feel like home. Having a couple of things that didn't belong to the hospital - like a cute blanket for my bed - made it feel much more cozy in our room.


Receiving Blankets


On the same note, having some things of ours specifically for the baby made a big difference, too. While the hospital did have lots of crib sheets and blankets and swaddles for our little guy, they weren't "ours."

This was another gift given by the former NICU mama- she said that she used the blankets as crib sheets and swaddles and it made her feel more like her baby was her baby instead of belonging to the hospital. I totally get that. Anything to make it feel more like home! We used these a lot.


A Cute Sleeper


Since all of my baby clothes stock was sitting in boxes on the living room floor, I didn't have much for baby clothes ready and available for our little guy... and most of the clothes we had wouldn't fit him yet anyway (since we purchased more 3-6 month stuff and bigger).

A cute sleeper- either preemie sized or newborn sized- had the same effect as the blankets. It made me feel good to have some clothes of his own to put him in instead of just NICU clothes. Make sure you get the ones with snaps, not zippers, because of the monitor wires.

(Don't go overboard on this one, though-- preemies grow fast! I think we had four little sleepers, and that was plenty.)

First Year Calendar


My mother-in-law bought us this calendar (there are a whole bunch of different colors and styles of it, too)- and I really loved it because honestly, NICU days really start to run together.

With a calendar, I wasn't too pressured to write a lot down or take a lot of time recording things, but instead I would make quick notes about milestones reached, or people who came to visit, or cute things that our baby was doing that day.


Other Helpful Things


If you're still stumped for more gift ideas, I'd also recommend...

Gas Gift Cards- especially if the NICU isn't local, gas gift cards could be really helpful for a family going back and forth a lot.

Travel Sized Hand Sanitizer- anytime I went anywhere outside of the NICU, I was certain that I was picking up all the terrible germs. Having a little bottle of sanitizer in my purse made me feel a little bit better about touching door handles or shopping carts.

Freezer Meals- while all our food needs were taken care of while we were in the hospital, having a baby two months early meant that a lot of the things I'd planned on prepping at home were no where near ready. I thought I'd have months to prepare frozen meals for when we brought baby home... but nope. Make a couple freezer meals for when the baby comes home and the new family is trying to adjust to life outside the NICU.

Snacks- hospital cafeteria food wasn't too bad, but it does get tired after a while. It was nice to have a little variety in snack form- especially treats! Cookies, bars, granola, candy... all good choices.




We were so blessed by the many many people who showed us how much they care about us by bringing us stuff-- but also know that just a supportive text or a quick visit makes such a difference, too. All theses gifts were so wonderful, but even more wonderful was the love that we felt from our friends and family-- and for that we'll always be grateful!


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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.

11.07.2017

Dear NICU Mom...

nicu encouragement preemie medically fragile baby premature


I'm walking down the hall toward the elevators and the cafeteria when I see you.

You're wearing cheery pajama pants and an oversized sweatshirt that doesn't match, inching your way down the hall in your slippers, a shell-shocked expression on your face.

You see me coming and step to the side to let me by, and I see you glace at my name tag and notice the word "parent," and your expression changes a little- a mix of camaraderie, disbelief, sadness, and hope.

I know exactly how you're feeling.

Just weeks ago, I was you.

10.27.2017

Blessings this Week: 10.20.2017 and 10.27.2017

I'll be totally honest... these past two weeks have had their great moments, but they've also had some hard moments. 

And while in the middle of it, it's difficult for me to see the blessings and trust the One who sends them. But just like this earth He's created, there are seasons for everything- and when sorrow lasts for the night, He promises joy in the morning. 


The fields are emptying- no more soybeans by my house! It's incredible how the landscape changes after harvest.

10.13.2017

Blessings this Week: 10.13.2017 Edition

It's somehow Friday again, and it's somehow already the middle of October, and I'm not sure where the time went or how this week has flown by, but the leaves are changing colors all around me and sometimes I feel like I'm missing it.

Counting blessings helps me cling to each moment, noticing, being present before it passes by.

Because goodness is it going fast.



10.11.2017

I Hate Periodic Breathing, and Other Confessions of a Preemie Mom

So many of our friends and family have told us that we seem to be doing remarkably well, given the circumstances. And yes, we have managed to stay generally upbeat, keep our sense of humor, and cling to faith during our NICU stay with our teeny tiny premature son (born at 32 weeks).

But honestly?

This hasn't been easy.

nicu life confessions parenting preemie baby infant premature baby struggles with mental health after having a premature baby


I've been really working to stay positive, clinging to the blessings, praising God for each and every step in the right direction... but it's hard. And I think that acknowledging the difficulty will help me work through it and recognize the blessings more readily. And if you're a preemie parent, too, hopefully reading this will give you a little reassurance that you're not alone in how you're feeling.


10.05.2017

Little E's Birth Story

As the nurse and anesthesiologist lifted my now completely numb legs onto the operating table, it finally started to hit me...

This is happening.

After a very short 32 weeks, I was about to meet my baby.



9.29.2017

Blessings this Week: 09.29.2017 Edition

I can hardly believe that this week is already over- after last week's craziness, I thought this week would seem much slower. But that hasn't been the case at all. In fact, this week almost seemed quicker somehow.

Our baby is changing every day, and it seems like I'm having trouble keeping up with all the changes- his expressions, adjustments to his care, challenges of being a parent, new things I'm learning daily.

But I'm trying to just stay present in the moment, to enjoy every minute of this new life we have. I still can't believe how blessed we are.


9.22.2017

Blessings these Weeks: 09.15.2017 and 09.22.2017

(Just a very quick post today-- there have been so many blessings, but my biggest blessing is taking up a lot of my time and attention at the moment!)


Thirty-two weeks of pregnancy with our little one


9.09.2017

Blessings this Week: 09.08.2017 Edition

And just like that, it's September.

Summer is definitely changing to fall, and I know that pretty soon, our Iowa landscape will be changing, too- the corn that grew into hedges will soon be gone and the views will suddenly open up again to miles and miles of sky.



It's the one thing we can count on, it seems- this change.

And it feels like there are so many changes coming and so quickly, and I don't feel at all prepared.

It won't be long until our house gets a new roof, it won't be long until we're holding our baby in our arms, it won't be long until we're packing up to move back to Colorado, it won't be long until we're incredibly busy again with snowmobiles and phone calls.

But for now, I'm trying to be here. To enjoy the blessings of this moment, before everything changes and new blessings come.

...   ...   ...


Sunsets and windmills. 

...   ...   ...

There have been hawks everywhere for the past few weeks- I see them as I drive home, as I walk the dog, in the trees in our grove. I know they're hunting field mice (and I'm so grateful for that!), but they look so graceful as they glide, like a dance. 

(Oh, and I saw one hawk flying with a snake in its beak the other day- pretty neat to see)

...   ...   ...


While Trevor's working on the heavy stuff (like moving piles of gravel and measuring roof lines and hooking up a washer and dryer), I've been doing little projects around the house, too. 

Like decorating above the kitchen cabinets, finally weeding my little flower garden, and cleaning antlers to put by the fireplace. 


Those little tiny changes make a difference, and they make me happy.

...   ...   ...


This happy dog who's always ready for a walk (and a treat- which is how I got him to "smile" for this picture). 

...   ...   ...


(Because I missed the pictures from last week...) - 30 weeks pregnant, and...


31 weeks. 

Baby is coming so soon! We had a bit of a surprise shower with some dear ladies I know from Camp- they brought toys and books and blankets, and a very cute burp rag big enough for Trevor's burly shoulders (he was a good sport modeling it for all us giggling girls!). We're so blessed by these ladies who love us so well. 

Our little baby doesn't feel near so little anymore- I can feel him pressing on me all the time now, and it's fun to be able to watch him move as well as feel him. Just another change that means we're getting closer to meeting our little one!



Have a wonderful weekend, and count the blessings!

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.

9.06.2017

Motherhood: Wrecking and Recreating Me in the Best Ways {Guest Post}

I'm excited to welcome back Natalie Brenner as a guest poster again today. Natalie is a fellow sister in the infertility struggle, victorious through Jesus. Welcome back, Natalie, we're glad to have you!


motherhood lessons changes wrecking recreating recreation


When she placed him in my arms, my whole body released a tension I didn’t realize it carried and simultaneously grew a necessary wound in my heart.

The gravity of a tiny life—which wasn’t tiny at all—shifted my whole world, changing me.

I breathed in his sweetness, only to exhale a gripping understanding of the sacred moments I was living.

There in the hospital we existed in complete complexity: immense and unexplainable joy crashing right into immeasurable grief and tragedy.

I could have never prepared for the sacred weight those moments held: his first mama placing him into my arms to become his mama.

Those moments changed me. Those moments of her deeming me worthy to be mother to her son changed me in ways difficult to process.

As I transitioned from childless and waiting to full arms and full heart...so much of myself changed.

Or maybe I simply became more of who I was created to be.




Either way, He has been using motherhood to transform me by placing a magnifying glass over my greatest weaknesses and strengths.

As she handed her son to me, making me mama, I stepped further into who He created me to be.

A confidence I hadn’t yet experienced bubbled up inside of me as I grabbed ahold of the commitment to protect, serve, and raise my new son with everything I had.This confidence created in me a bold courage I didn’t otherwise have.

Simultaneously a humility laid into me, bringing to focus the reality that I had so much to learn and so far to grow. A humility reminding me continuously that he is hers in a way he’ll never be mine, and vice versa. A humility reminding me there are so many hurt humans walking around due to their parents lack of humility...and I was not about to step into parenthood thinking I knew it all.




Becoming a mom has made me both more fierce and more gentle.

Motherhood has been teaching me the importance of courage and bravery, even when unpopular and uncomfortable. Motherhood has been teaching me the importance of sitting on my hands and listening to other’s experiences without trying to teach in return. Motherhood has been teaching me both speaking up and quieting down, honesty and grace infused in every piece.

Becoming a mama has changed me by inching me further along in my process of becoming more like Him. It is sanctifying in all the hardest ways, demanding my self-control and patience, demanding I set aside idols and ideals and control.

I’ve only been at this mama-thing for just shy of 19 months. By the grace of Jesus, I have two one year olds. Mothering has stretched me thin and also built me up. It has taught me patience and endurance. It has cracked my heart wide open in the best ways possible and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.



Before I was made mama, I thought motherhood would be hard...but I also thought it would be a delight.

It is. It is such a delight and such a gift and something I do my best not to take for granted.

Becoming a mom has changed me and wrecked me and broken me and is recreating me...and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



NATALIE BRENNER is wife to Loren and mom to two under two. She authored This Undeserved Life: Uncovering the gifts of grief and fullness of life which will be released September 18. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable.

Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. You can love Jesus or not, go to church or not: she'd love to have coffee with you. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a wanna-be runner. Connect with her at NatalieBrennerWrites.com and join her popular email list.

Preorder her book, email her “I preordered,” and receive pretty prints: This Undeserved Life
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.

8.28.2017

Planners and Pregnancy: how keeping my bullet journal has helped me keep my sanity while I'm expecting

We all know that I might be just a tad obsessed with having and using a planner.

It keeps my life so much more organized than if I didn't have it in my life. It's changed forms a little the past few years, but it's a mainstay, and I still lug it around everywhere. Especially now that I'm pregnant.

pregnancy planner bullet journal during pregnancy trimester while expecting planning during pregnancy


8.25.2017

Blessings this Week: 08.25.2017 Edition


We spent the last couple weeks out where the buffalo roam... or in our case, where they remain lying down and swat flies off of themselves without paying any mind to the motorcycle passing by.

Our annual Black Hills trip is always something we look forward to- ten days camping with family and friends in the beautiful mountains- who could ask for more?



8.23.2017

He Is with Me + He Is Trustworthy {Guest Post}

I'm honored to share my little space here today with Natalie Brenner, a fellow sister in the infertility struggle, victorious through Jesus. I asked her how her journey of infertility and loss shaped her faith and her understanding of who God is, and I know you'll love her thoughts just as much as I do. 

infertility motherhood after infertility and miscarriage adoption what infertility teaches us about God


I’ve always been a Jesus girl.

In middle school I had a crush on Ethan Souers and he wrote me a little note saying I was the most Christian-girl he’d ever known. My heart swooned and I was sure I’d marry him.

I didn’t marry him but I did carry around his flattering compliment. I carried it with me as a reminder that people notice when we have great faith, people see when we genuinely love Jesus, even when we aren’t trying to put on a show. I simply loved Jesus and wanted to love other people like Him, even in my flawed, awkward, middle school stage of life.

He was with me when my parents yelled and fought, I knew He’d be with me forever. He deemed Himself trustworthy to me at a young age.


8.16.2017

What Surprised Me Most about Motherhood {Guest Post}

Lisa Newton has been a great support to me, and to a lot of other sisters in the infertility struggle, I'm sure. Her blog and her friendship have been mainstays in my journey through infertility for years, and I'm honored to have her here today to share with us! I asked Lisa to tell me about what surprised her most about becoming a mother, and I'm sure you'll enjoy what she had to say. 


parenting pregnancy infants surprises in the first year


8.12.2017

Blessings this Week: 08.11.2017

This week has been absolutely gorgeous- and the weather has just mirrored all the many God-given blessings from this busy, but wonderful week.

...   ...   ...





My morning view- I never get tired of it.

8.04.2017

Blessings this Week: 08.04.2017


And just like that, it's August.

My landscaping is showcasing an impressive weed jungle, there are buildings to be roofed and vacations to be taken and babies to plan for... and I'm feeling a little overrun and a lot rushed.

Because it's August already.

But I'm trying to slow down, to look at the small things, and to give thanks in this moment instead of focusing on the moments to come.

8.02.2017

My Favorite (Non-Maternity) Second Trimester Clothes

six months pregnant clothes fashion wardrobe maternity clothes you can wear while pregnant best non-maternity outfits


Disclaimer: I am not a fashion blogger. I am not a fashionable person in general (just ask my sister...), and most of my wardrobe consists of camp t-shirts and flannel.

But being pregnant this summer has necessitated a bit of a clothing update. I still wear lots of camp t-shirts, though.

Because of the whole "not a fashionable person" thing, shopping for clothes is not my favorite- especially shopping for clothes that I'll only wear for a few more months. It also isn't very financially practical to spend a lot of money on a maternity wardrobe, and I'm cheap. I wanted to use what I've got as much as possible, buy things that helped the stuff in my closet stretch for a while longer, and purchase clothes that can be worn when I'm not pregnant, too.

Here's what I came up with:

7.28.2017

Blessings this Week: 07.28.2017

This week flew right by with to do lists and activities and a whole lot of preparing for the next couple months... and in the middle of the busy, finding the blessings slows life down a bit.

And I need that, this summer!

...   ...   ...



7.21.2017

Blessings this Week: 07.21.2017

Have you ever had one of those moments when you realize, in the span of just a moment, how very blessed you are?

I have those more often... and not usually at profound moments or in big sun-rays-through-the-clouds type situations, but in small things.

Like, this week? Breakfast pizza on a Wednesday.



7.19.2017

Saving My Sanity in the First Trimester

pregnancy morning sickness first trimester anxiety three months pregnant


As soon as that second line showed up on that pregnancy test, my anxiety level went through the roof.

Infertility has tossed me into a community with lots of testimonies of all the struggles of early pregnancy- HCG levels, low progesterone, spotting and heart rates and all the things that could go wrong. I knew more than many people about all the risks facing me, and man. I worried.

So I spent most of my fifth week of pregnancy researching symptoms, reading forums, freaking out, hanging around in the comments section of Pregnant Chicken, crying for no real reason (thanks progesterone injections!), and googling "How Not To Freak Out First Trimester."

Obviously, it was a very productive week. Ha. I got even less productive about a week later when I added morning sickness into the mix. Feeling crummy and getting stuff done do not jive well.

Now that I'm (finally) past the first fourteen weeks, I've been looking back at some of the more healthy ways I coped with the stress and sickness that came along with those first few months.


7.17.2017

Surrender

devotion control surrender Christian short reading devo about trusting God


Tonight, after we got home from work, my husband Trevor and I got into a fight.

The reason for our big blow out?

Well, I partially blame pregnancy hormones (because man, they are a-raging...), but really, the conflict surrounded a camping trip. A bachelor-party-type camping trip that Trevor's been planning for his cousin. I'm not even going. But see, the issue was that my husband, in getting ready for this trip, was doing everything wrong.

7.14.2017

Blessings this Week: 07.14.2017


My flowers are blooming and I'm choosing to ignore the weeds... because it's more important to focus on blessings than on to-do lists and conflicts and issues. And usually, I'm really good and finding the conflicts and issues. Finding blessings takes practice.


7.11.2017

Christmas in July!




We had a very busy weekend... because it was Christmas!

With my family spread out in Kansas and Iowa, and with us in Colorado over the holidays, we didn't get a chance to have my side of the family's annual Christmas party this year. So we decided to turn the calendar on its head and have Christmas in July, instead!

7.07.2017

Blessings this Week: 07.07.2017

Well! 

It's been quite a busy week- chock full of fireworks and friends and family, and of course, full of the many gifts God has given us.
...   ...   ...




Rescuing a turtle who was crossing the road...

7.05.2017

Pregnancy After Infertility

Being pregnant after years of infertility has been complicated in ways I didn't expect


Pregnancy after years of infertility is hard.

It's complicated in ways that I didn't expect. While lots of newly pregnant ladies are busy looking up bassinets and bonnets, I spend much more time researching potential issues and learning how to do injections. Financially, emotionally, physically... being pregnant after dealing with infertility is just different.

Granted, we've been very, very blessed with a healthy and easy pregnancy so far- I'm sure that many of my formerly infertile sisters could add many things to this list that I've been fortunate enough not to experience- but I've found that so far, the biggest differences are medical stuff, fear, jealousy, and guilt.


6.30.2017

Blessings this Week: 06.30.2017


My lilies are blooming, the sun is out, and it's already the end of June. How did that happen? This summer is just speeding by, and capturing the moments seems more important than ever.


6.23.2017

Blessings this Week: 06.23.2017

First and foremost, this week I've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and well wishes about our exciting news-- thank you all so much for your prayers and excitement!

...   ...   ...



Distant rain brought us a double rainbow

6.20.2017

For this Child...



"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him." - 1 Samuel 1:27

We are overwhelmed with God's love, and excited to announce that our little miracle will be arriving in November!

I know that there have been many of you who have prayed for us throughout our infertility journey. Thank you for your prayers, and we are so incredibly filled with joy as we now ask you to lift up prayers of thanksgiving for this amazing blessing!



DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.

6.16.2017

Blessings this Week: 06.16.2017

The past few busy months have been chock full of many things, but the one thing distinctly missing has been this practice of counting the blessings. There have been so many, but they flit in and out of my consciousness like the barn swallow that are swooping past my window as I write this. Barely recognized before my mind is on to something else... and I miss the opportunity to reach out and take hold of them, to claim the blessings as mind, to give thanks for them.

I have to be intentional about finding and naming the blessings, or I miss them.

...   ...   ...



Lazy Sunday afternoons, and a silly dog who makes us laugh (especially when he walked right off the side of the dock and plunged into the water.... he was so surprised!) 

5.10.2017

Shedding Season: A SleekEZ Dog Brush Review

The weather is warming up, the sun is shining, and this guy is shedding all over the place. 


(Good thing he's cute.)

I don't know if it's because Bear had his very first Colorado winter, or that he's getting a bit older, or maybe it's the altitude (I blame everything on the altitude), but it seems like this spring, our pooch is just exuding hair.

This is pretty inopportune, seeing as we'll be heading back to Iowa soon, and the idea of locking ourselves in a vehicle with Mr. Sheds-A-Lot for ten hours isn't really appealing. 

4.03.2017

Come to the Table: Enough



It's noon on a typical Saturday... one of those Saturdays that make me wish this wasn't typical.

Saturdays are demanding. And this Saturday in particular is one in the same. The phone is ringing, the little sleigh bells I put on the doors are jingling merrily as guests arrive, and I still don't have a single guide in the outpost to help contain the crazy, to help direct the crowds.

I feel a bit like sitting on the floor behind my desk so no one can see me.

A customer comes upstairs to alert me to the fact that there's no toilet paper in the bathroom (again), just as the first guide rounds the corner, frustrated because he worked hard and didn't get the tip he thought he'd earned, and I've just about had it.



For someone who struggles with people-pleasing as much as I do, this job has been.... stretching. Between conflicts with customers and disappointed (sometimes whiny) staff members, I feel like I'm not making anyone happy. No one at all.

I just don't have enough. 


I know in my head that this feeling isn't unique to this job or to this season of life... we all feel like this from time to time. Whether you're a teacher, parent, computer engineer... I think we all say it on those hard days. 

I don't have enough. 


I yell in my mind at all these people.

What do you want from me? I can't do everything!

And those words, repeated like a mantra, become my war chant. No more mercy, no more grace- I've given all I have to give.

3.27.2017

Come to the Table: Water for the Thirsty

lent devotion devotional reading short lenten ash wednesday water thirst bible christian devotion about being thirsty the woman at the well


I'm sitting at the bar that serves as my work desk, taking a moment to absent-mindedly trace the deep scars in the surface of the wood.

I'm replaying an imaginary conversation in which I respond to a customer's angry ranting online review. It's the same conversation I've been having in my mind and occasionally in my dreams for the past week.

My Trevor says I need to let it go.

I can't.

I just can't seem to release this feeling of indignation, of offense, that the best I could do was still not enough for this customer. Instead, the restless feeling of unresolved conflict winds its way around my thoughts and my heart and my stomach and makes it hard to find the waters of peace. It dries me out- I'm parched and rough, inflexible and brittle. Exposed.

It's a symptom. I know that this fire-in-my-veins restlessness comes from somewhere deeper, somewhere where my identity lies.

And I've spent long enough tracing the dry, old, worn out cattle paths in my mind to know where this trail comes from.

I have an unquenchable thirst for approval. 

Being liked, or needed, or valued by other people drives so many of my decisions, so many of my behaviors. I don't handle it well when they (whoever they are... it really doesn't matter) are unhappy with me.

3.24.2017

Blessings this Week: 03.24.2016

Just in case there was any denying the changing of seasons, this week was full of signs of Spring.


3.20.2017

Come to the Table: Sweetness

devotion devotional reading short God is good sweetness God's love for us marriage reflecting God's love


My fingers feel the almost painful cold as I dig through the chest freezer in the garage. I'm careful to try not to start an avalanche of frozen food, carefully jigsaw-stacked to fit as much as we can- roasts and chicken, mixed fruit and frozen pizza wedged in so tightly I can barely move them aside to get to what I'm looking for.

I'm pulling out ground beef to thaw for supper sometime this week, and that's when I see it.

Caramel Delight Girl Scout Cookie Ice Cream.

I gasp and quickly recover the container. I didn't know it was in here, and being that I'm typically the one putting groceries away, it's surprising.

And all at once, my fingers don't feel quite so cold and I smile because I know my husband loves me.

The ice cream told me so. 

3.17.2017

Blessings this Week: 03.10.17 and 03.17.17

So, I missed putting up my blessings post last week, which ended up being a good thing because this past week was busy and full of rushing around without time to take many pictures... so unless you like long wordy updates, it's better this way.

3.13.2017

Come to the Table: Hunger

lent devotions short working mother Christian post devotion about Lent Matthew 4 devotion


"Welcome back!" I call out to the group of snow-covered, rosy cheeked adventurers as they burst through the doors of the lodge.

They're talking all at once, smiling broadly, replaying the excursion with breathless excitement and laughter.

Another successful tour.

And I realize that this is already the last tour of the day- and somehow nine hours have sped by with me barely noticing, the din of constant, steady phone calls and credit card payments and waiver forms keeping me too busy to sit, too busy to notice the dark creeping into the sky.

My husband comes in, smelling like snow and two-stroke exhaust, as I return the goggles to their boxes, the forms to their drawer.

"Come eat with me," he says, and I remember the lunch I packed nearly ten hours before, sitting neglected under my desk in the corner.

3.06.2017

Come to the Table: The Invitation

devotion devotional Lent reading infertility struggling to conceive invitations friends
Original Image used with permission- thanks to The Accidental Nomad


I'm sitting at a barely big enough kitchen table, the toddler determined to get herself into precarious situations climbing on stools and stretching her chubby little legs to hop from one chair to the other, your boys offering up commentary and asking for second helpings.

It feels a lot like my own childhood, crammed into a little kitchen full of noise and laughter and an occasional reminder to chew with mouths closed. Familiar.

And I realize how much I missed this.

Infertility has stolen so much, touched so many places in my soul that I'm still recognizing just how much its affected me.

It has changed the way I do friendship.

My adult friendships often make me feel unimportant, immature, like I can't relate. I love Bible studies with these women and the opportunities we have to connect over the Word of God, but when it comes to talk of potty training or discipline or pregnancy pains, I have nothing to contribute.

I listen and learn and squirrel away the information for a someday I know may never come. I take in the grace and wisdom of their experiences, but I still feel the pain of the not knowing. Of being "other."

2.20.2017

Dirt

christian devotion parables dirt soil sower seeds


"Wouldn't it be nice," he said, looking over the mountain range stretching across the clear blue sky, "if we could get our acreage out here? Like, same set up and buildings, same house, same size, for the same price? And with the same soil, too."

It wasn't the first time I'd heard it.



We're really enjoying this Colorado adventure of ours- interesting jobs, the chance to meet people from all over, the beautiful views- but I do feel a little homesick for our little Iowa acreage.

I love our acreage. The pond, the long pasture grass, worn red barn wood, my yellow kitchen with the original hardwood floors... it's home.



And while I agree that it would be pretty awesome if we could find the same thing out here in Iowa, I can't help but be amused by my husband's way of thinking.

The soil. He'd want the same soil.

You can take the farm boy away from his dirt, but you can't take the dirt out of the mind of the farm boy, I suppose.

And it's just another one of those things that I'm now surprisingly familiar with... the city-girl inside of me shakes her head that I know exactly what he means. Soil is important.

As I write this, I'm looking out the window of our Colorado home, with snow melted away by the unusually warm weather this week, seeing the scrubby tufts of grass and the low lying shrubs in our yard. Nothing like the lush green of back in Iowa-- and it's because of the soil.

It's rocky here- dry, rocky, sandy-colored instead of the dark black richness of back in Iowa.

It makes a difference. There's a reason Iowa farmland produces so much and farms are few here where we are in Colorado. The soil.


2.17.2017

Blessings this Week: 02.17.2017

It's already time to recap the week!



The week started with a much-needed snowstorm. I answered calls and drank coffee in my nice cozy house and watched the snow fall.

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