She carries my name, she carries my heart.

I am currently writing this with a sleeping baby laying on my chest. She is soft and tiny and precious and rather determined to spend as much time with me as possible – usually between the hours of 8 PM and 8 AM. Our sweet Ella Elisabeth arrived on Sunday, July 13 at 1:07 PM. I woke up at home that morning in some of the most intense pain I’ve ever felt. Within two hours we had dropped our boys off at a friend’s home and were racing to the hospital. We arrived only to be told that I could quite possibly have the baby within the hour – my body was more than ready to go.

It wasn’t within the hour, but a short few hours later, our sweet Ella emerged in all 9 pounds of her glory. Almost immediately, however, we were told something that shocked and amazed us: Upon emerging, it was discovered that Ella’s umbilical cord had a knot in it. This is extremely rare and also something that can be exceedingly dangerous for the baby. For those of you who remember our last pregnancy, you’ll recall how we lost our daughter 24 weeks into the pregnancy, also due to a cord issue. The significance was not lost on us.

Oh, Ella, God’s hand is so evident on your little life already! I look at you and you seem so small, so fragile. Yet I know that within the sleeping baby lies a world-changer. You have already changed my world more than I can even say. You have challenged me to be better as a mom and as a woman. You came in, and with tiny fingers and tiny toes, turned the whole face and reality of our family upside down. You have impact, even at a mere five days old.

I look forward to all the things that Ella will undoubtedly teach me. I hope to share many of them with you here on this blog. Thank you for your prayers and love! I feel every bit of them!



LMKTM: What Makes a Great Day

The other day I made sure to put dinner in the crock pot before taking the boys to a water park for hours of fun, treating them to ice cream, and then enjoying an afternoon movie at home. I was truly patting myself on the back for pulling off what I considered to be a fantastic day. When we sat down for (home-cooked!) dinner that night, my son Joey posed his usual mealtime inquiry of “On a scale of 1 to 10, how was your day?” I smiled and readied myself for their exuberant answers of 10. Imagine my surprise when instead, my oldest child said, “Um, I guess an 8.”

My jaw dropped. Keep in mind, this is the same child who will throw out “10′s” at the slightest drop of a hat – he got a Ring Pop that day, his favorite TV show was on, etc. My exhausted, pregnant self was astounded that all my hard work had amounted to such a meager rating (because on his scale, an 8 might as well be a 2). I huffed in my indignation and sulked in my surety that I had done everything right that day. I mean, I had made dinner! I had taken them to a water park! I even bought them ice cream! Surely they realized the effort it took for me to execute that day?

But the truth is that my kids have vastly different worldviews than I do. They are equally as happy (maybe more!) with pizza night in the living room as they are with nights I sweat and strive and make a from-scratch meal. They like water parks, but they also like running through the sprinkler in our back yard. They like when I spend unreasonable money on ice cream at the specialty stores, but they also like simple jello at home.

My point here is that I stress a lot about what I do for my kids, when in reality, they are easier to please than I realize. All they need is to laugh and to feel love, and their day is a 10! Parents, let’s give ourselves a little grace. Not every day of our children’s’ lives can be a circus of activities and treats, nor should it be! We need to stop feeling as if we’ve failed in some way if we haven’t daily done something exuberant to please our children. Life is always a lot simpler than we make it, and how we parent is no exception.

Keep it simple, have fun, and have a GREAT day today!

A Summer Project for You and Your Kids!

I know I’ve been a little less frequent with my blogs lately, and I can’t promise that you’ll see much improvement on that front in the near future. I’m so close to having this baby girl and I’m also trying to enjoy every moment with my boys that I can while they’re home for the summer. On that note, however, I am here today to bring you a fun and thought-provoking summer project for you and your kids to do together. It’s a great conversation-starter and it’s easy, too!

The boys and I are making homeless bags. What are homeless bags? Large Ziploc bags that we keep in our car and have handy when we see someone on the side of the road asking for help. How many times have we all been out of cash or in a rush and had no time to go back and help someone when our heart really felt as if we should? By keeping these bags handy, you’ll never have to worry about that again!

The moments when we come across someone in need are great teaching moments for our kids. Do we impact them by turning our head the other way and ignoring the problem altogether? Do we make snide remarks about how they should get a “real job”? Or do we take that moment to instill in our children a worldview that includes those less fortunate and shows them that we can make a difference one small step at a time?

The bags are really easy to make! All you need to do it pick up 1-gallon or 2-gallon size Ziploc bags as well as the items to go in them. Here are a few suggestions, but feel freedom to add whatever you think will help!

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • A comb
  • A gift card for a fast food restaurant or super market
  • deodorant
  • A small Bible or book
  • Napkins, tissues, and/or wet wipes
  • A water bottle
  • A granola bar

I have watched my boys absolutely light up in excitement when we go to pick out the items for our bags. It is fun, it helps them think past themselves, and it may just change someone’s life! Feel free to share your own bag suggestions or stories below!

Today is one of those days…

That blows your mind with its significance. This morning we went to my 36-week ultrasound. We got to see our sweet baby Ella and were told that she is plump and healthy and soon-coming our way! I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted how amazing the miracle of birth is. To see that there is a living, breathing baby inside of me? I still can hardly believe it! Yes, I’ve done this before, but each time it is still miraculous. Today was a day of joy and celebration and good news.

But on this very same day 9 years ago, I was getting much different news. It was June 24, 2005 when I got the call diagnosing me with cancer. It was a chilling, surreal moment. I don’t think I will ever be able to forget all I felt as I received that call. I know exactly where I was, who I was with, and what went through my mind as the doctor’s words resonated throughout my understanding.

That’s quite a dichotomy of events all taking place on the same date. And what’s the point of noticing this? To show that life is just a series of seasons. God can restore your worst day and replace it with a day of beauty and joy. He’s done it for me and I believe the same for you.

Who are you listening to?

Lately, I’ve been feeling anxious. There’s no other real way to describe it, I just plain feel anxious. I think a lot can be attributed to being at the end of my pregnancy and looking forward to the impending arrival of my precious daughter. But there are parts of this emotional spectrum that are not new to me at all. They are sadly downright familiar, in fact. I know the tingling of anxiety all too well, so it is simple to recognize when I am being encroached upon by these unwelcome emotions.

No matter how heavy the anxiety gets, though, there are always tools we have with which to fight back. Just feeling the anxiety does not mean that I have to accept the anxiety. Believe me, it took me a long time to realize that. I used to be a veritable slave to my emotions. I thought because I felt something it had to become my reality. But over the years, the Lord has shown me that I have a choice whether to accept those emotions as truth or not.

When I start to feel anxious, I need to immediately do some mind-sifting and try to recognize where all the voices are coming from. Do my anxious thoughts sound like something God would say to me? If not, then I can choose to disregard them – yes, even if they feel like the realist reality of them all! I need to be very careful and make a conscious effort to only let The Voice of Truth permeate my life and reality. If not, the anxiety will only give way to more anxiety and leave me feeling weak, helpless, and hopeless.

Today, whose voice are you listening to? The influences we allow in our lives will impact and shape our day-to-day existence, so choose wisely!

Reflections of Another Year

Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday. There, I’ve said it. I know women around my age will start to flib and flob when it comes to admitting the exact numeric value of their candle count, but I can’t say I relate to that just yet. I think because life is so rich and full and I want to celebrate the fact that it’s been 32 years of an incredibly fun, twisty, unpredictable journey.

This is the year that I will become a mom to a daughter! Talk about life-changing. I will also go from being a mother of 2 to a mother of 3. Our family will expand from 4 to 5 members. So many changes! Knowing me, you can look forward to lots of reflective, revelation-type posts concerning the new things that have become clear to me in this new season of life.

Each year gives us a new chance to have a starting point. Tomorrow, as the calendar tells me that I am another year older, I can seize the opportunity and make it a brand new beginning. What am I going to do with my new year? What changes will I make? Whose lives will I impact? How will I grow as a mother, a wife, and a child of God? I don’t know what the future holds, but the good news is that I do know WHO holds the future. That’s enough for me to be excited and look forward with anticipation to the year to come!

Scar Stories: Part II

On Tuesday, I shared the importance of recognizing our scars and realizing how not all of them will be on the outside of our being. Many of us bare invisible scars that are still as real as any of those that mar the physical, outward appearance. I think we tend to view these scars in an incredibly negative light many times. But today, I want to suggest a change in perception.

Instead of our scars reminding us of past pain, let’s allow them to be a reminder of victory!

Yes, our scars, physical or not, have left marks on us and may have come from a time of great pain. But they also represent the fact that we are past that point of pain and have made it out to the other side alive and well! Scars can be celebrated and even seen as beautiful, because more than the pain that caused them, they show the strength of the person baring them.

Let’s change the way we look at scars. Don’t despise them. Embrace them and bare them proudly. They have a story to tell, and so do you!

Scar Stories: Part I

I have a scar on the upper left portion of my collar/chest area. It is no longer than maybe an inch or two, but it’s there. If I wear clothes that show this area of my body, it is highly noticeable. Sometimes people ask about it. Sometimes they just stare. One time, while buying tickets for a movie, the guy working the booth said to me, “I’m so sorry for asking, but is that a scar from a port?”

I was taken aback. Not by his question, but by his accuracy. Very few people recognize my scar for what it is. The guesses I’ve received as to its origins are laughable. But this young gentleman was spot on. My scar was indeed caused by a port, or port catheter. It’s a small thumb-sized device with a tiny “tail” of tubing that connects to a vein. It sits underneath the skin and allows for easy blood draws and drug injections.

I told the young man behind the counter that it was indeed a port scar. He smiled and slipped his starch white shirt to the side to reveal a scar that was eerily similar to my own. “Lymphoma,” he stated simply. “I’m a little over 2 years out.” My eyes lit up in an immediate kinship as I instantly supplied back, “Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, I’ve been cancer-free since 2005!”

Meeting someone with a similar life story to me was thrilling. There is something instantaneous that happens when you find someone who understands you. But there are other scars, deeper, more hidden, that leave no mark on the outward appearance, yet are as undeniable as the scar that mars my outward body. I like to think of these as “soul scars.” We all have them, they just vary in cause. But, like me and the movie theater employee, when you find someone who bares a matching soul scar, it is an instant connection and understanding.

What scars are you wearing today? Are they on the outside or the inside? What (or who) caused them? Do you know anyone else who wears a similar scar? What’s your scar story?

The Danger of Knowing Too Much

I love social media. I think it’s so incredibly cool that I’m able to connect with people all over the world in a matter of seconds. It’s great for keeping in touch with friends from near and far. It’s also a great way to spread the word about various causes and issues that would otherwise not find their way to our attention.

Like most things, however, what can be a tool of great communication can also be used as a source of great fear. It’s hard to turn on the TV or open up the computer without seeing news of a new illness to fear, a new potential hazard to our children, or a danger in our vicinity. It can really make one feel as if the world is falling apart all around them.

So how do I stay in touch with the things happening around me, absorb the wisdom in knowing of them, and yet, not allow them to control me with their fear-inducing suggestions? The answer, I believe, is in balance. It’s a good thing to know what’s happening around us. It’s a good thing to know of potential dangers to my children so that I can protect them to the best of my ability. What’s not a good thing, however, is when I allow the things I see or read to instill a fear in me that controls my thoughts and actions.

For some of us, we are under-informed and could really benefit from a trip around the internet block. Do some reading, get some knowledge. We have resources available to us today that could have saved lives as recently as a few years ago. For others, however, we are over-submerged in knowledge. We jump at every new headline, we know exactly what happened in the last hour nationally, and we can tell you the latest tragedy that occurred in our area. As a result, we have lost focus on Christ and His authority in our lives, and have, instead, become filled with dread over our present and futures.

Let’s try to find balance in our knowledge. When we feel out of touch, let’s get out there a bit and find some info. But when we start to feel overwhelmed with all we’re seeing and hearing, let’s take a step back and go to the one source that is our constant: God’s Word. It never changes and it always remains the same.

What I’m Reading: Praying Circles Around Your Children

032550_1_ftc If you’ve been around my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard me rave about a book by Mark Batterson called “The Circle Maker.” That book, in short, changed my life. It changed the way I prayed, it changed the way I saw my connection to God, and it changed me – plain and simple.

This Mother’s Day at Access, each mom was given a copy of an offshoot of that book, this one called “Praying Circles around your Children.” I can already tell that this book will be much like it’s predecessor in that it will be life-altering. It’s not that I haven’t been praying for my kids before this. Of course I have! But it’s the way I’ve been praying and the level of expectation with which I pray that is changing.

Mark talks about making it a point to set aside time with your kids for God things. As much as I like to talk about God and write about God, do I take the time to actually sit down with my kids and answer their questions about God? Do I explain the things of God to them and then introduce them to the basics of Spirituality?

I have already been challenged by this book and I know any parent out there would be, as well. Do yourself a favor and pick one up today. While you’re at it, pick one up for a friend, as well. Let’s use this summer as a time of breakthrough and increase in our prayer lives, specifically where our precious children are concerned. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we did that and found that this summer also became a time of milestones and important days in our children’s individual Spiritual journeys, as well? Let it be!

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