To the Girl Who’s Taught Me So Much – on Your 9th Birthday

Sure, the whole world might’ve thought us crazy to have one more babe while still toting around two nurslings at home.

But none of us could have ever guessed that you would be this blue-eyed beauty that taught me to breathe through grief and find joy in the sorrow.

And today, nine years later, you’ve still got the most glorious way of illuminating beauty amidst the dirt of anyone I know.

Kayla's 9th Birthday

Kayla's Birthday!

beauty in the dirt

Sister's Birthday

Oh, my precious Kayla, our lives are richer and deeper and a whole lot more joy-filled because of you.

Without you, I never would’ve known what it was like to giggle and squeal together during the best parts of the story.

Without you, it would’ve taken me a whole lot longer to experience a love that just keeps on multiplying.

Without you, I wouldn’t ever have known what it was truly like to see things through your eyes as you continually are awed by the splendor found in the little things – the birds and the bunnies, the slugs and the babies.

kitty time

Kayla Birthday

Happy Birthday!

birthday muffins

And without you, I may never have learned that God meets us right here in our mess – with the coos of a babe, the hugs of a daughter, the smiles across the room from a girl grown to be a young lady.

For despite your deepest desires, these nine years have taught you that life can get a whole lot mucky.

That sometimes a sister’s lashing tongue or a mama’s frustrations can plop you right on your face in the tears and mud.

But let those times on your knees be a reminder that the greatest displays of beauty always begin at His feet.

Kayla is 9

beauty in the mud

Kayla and Mommy

fun birthday day

Keep getting up when you fall!

Keep looking to God with such passion!

Keep showing beauty and grace and love!

Keep giggling with this mama!

And please don’t ever stop finding Joy surrounding!

Kayla and Daddy

Kayla's Birthday

Happy 9th Birthday, Kayla Ann!
You will always be a reminder that God is good – and brings joy to the hurting.
Oh, how we love you!

For All the Mothers Everywhere

For all of you mamas with precious little (and not-quite-so-little-anymore) ones that have filled your womb, your home, or your heart – your labor of love and prayers and kingdom work matters!

“To the best mommy ever.”

Words written in bright crayon after the morning of frustration and doors slamming and yelling over muddy footprints and smashed Rice Krispies and unfinished chores and bikes left out.

And then there were the children crumpling in tears and a mama collapsing in defeat.

Not to mention the sticky floors and favorite shoes missing and dirty hearts rubbed bare till all that was left was grace and knees worn from praying and praying and praying.

For the truth of motherhood is there is no perfection and a lot of ugly being perfected. With miscarriages and infertility and screaming children and tantrum throwing and wombs and arms and hearts of kids and mamas ripped empty.

And those things don’t fit nicely tied with a bow.

to all the moms

And yet in five-year-old writing flipped backwards and crooked, a beautiful message sent from God.

And you might not have a letter scrawled out to prove it,

But the beauty is there in grace and forgiveness and joy and wisdom found even in the hurt-filled moments that lean into God.

For God attached these children to our hearts, and this kingdom work, this raising generations, this shaping of souls, this laboring for Jesus – matters so very much to God and to those hearts strung to our own.

to moms everywhere

For who else would be tender enough to get up at all hours of the night to love and to hold the most frail of all humanity – to cradle and nourish and rock back and forth, back and forth though her eyes barely stay open and her body goes dizzy?

Who would be strong enough to go to battle for the hearts of her children? To know that labor is only the beginning and to withstand needle pricks and pokes and prods and toddler tantrums and sibling rivalry and teenage drama and one more failed adoption?

Who would be broken enough to fall to her knees in prayer? To ask for forgiveness and model a need for Jesus and to extend grace when the ugliness glares?

Who would be creative enough to hide in the laundry room to sneak in a few minutes of quiet with God – to make food out of nothing day after day and distract toddlers with a box of straws and explain multiplication using Cheerios and find ways to make learning possible for that overly labeled little one?

Who would be silly enough to make faces through the window and not feel shy to stand and wave to the preschooler in the end-of-the-year program and cheer loudly at the high-school graduation? Who would wear spit-up stains with honor, hair thrown in a ponytail, and a mixture of glitter and paint on her nose? And yet get all dressed up like Cinderella and later challenge the seven-year-old to a sword fighting duel?

Who would be brave enough to dig shiny objects out of little noses and half eaten ladybugs out of mouths and pull out teeth that are hanging by a thread and to let kids help bake in the kitchen? To go to battle for protection and innocence and to know when to let go, to let climb, to let live?

to all moms

Who would be patient enough to find the missing pajamas and divvy out the fruit snacks evenly and put hair up in braids and get crusted lasagna off of pans – all with a babe on her hip or glued to her leg? Who would read the same books over and over and over and teach a three-year-old to share and a sixteen-year-old to drive and would listen to an oh-so-long dream about a fire a hippo and a fly? And who would sit in the pediatrician’s office for hours and try to keep those kids from touching all the germ infested toys?

Who would be diligent enough to take that pregnancy test once again and fill out yet another stack of papers – to work from morning till night to care for young ones and stay up late decorating and wake up early making chocolate chip gluten free pancakes before it all starts over again?

Who would be gracious enough to bring a meal to a new mother, to sit and grieve with the hurting, to teach how to get crayon out of carpet, and play a fierce game of Chutes and Ladders when she’s exhausted and would much rather go to bed?

YOU, sweet mother.

“The best mommy ever.”

to moms

The days aren’t perfect. The note of love gets crinkled and buried. Days have no end and we don’t always like our mothers or like being a mother, and we wonder if we should frame it or just tear that sweet little note right up.

For a God-formed life in our wombs or raised in our homes doesn’t make us holier or better. It makes us mothers. Mothers in need of His strength and His grace to keep battling for hearts and to continue passionately, tenderly, joyfully loving.

Frame those words – as a gift, as a prayer – not for perfection, but as a reminder that joy can be found in the broken. And that we can get back up after we fall and keep going for hours and hours. For molding hearts matters. And raising generations matters. And the little ones scribbling notes on a page and bringing smiles to our day – they matter.

And you – you matter!

You newly pregnant and you with ten precious children. You with grandchildren you love with all your heart. You with a baby taken from your womb and you with a child taken from your arms. You with hope swirling and longing for a blessing. You adopting and fostering and caring for the hurting. You giving your child away with heart aching yet trusting. You, missing your mother something fierce. You, step-mothers and mother-in-laws tenderly, carefully walking. You, sisters and aunts and friends and mentors giving of life through time, tears and love –

Your fostering of kingdom work,

Your laboring of love and prayers,

Your shaping of young souls…

It matters for eternity. It matters to God.

Have a beautiful Mothers’ Day weekend!

When Grief Touches Your Life

My-Daddy.jpg

With gentle tears spilling over… I felt the knots tight. With belly swollen round and abdomen bulging so as I couldn’t see over or around or through. Two babes toddled at my feet as I inhaled and exhaled the pain. Five minutes and I felt the contractions deep once again – searing as I tried […]

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Dear Mama Who Doesn’t Like Being a Mom Today

Dear Mama Who Doesn't Like Being a Mom Today

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To You Mamas With Little Ones in Church

Dear-Mamas-With-Little-Ones-in-Church.jpg

I watched as you walked in through the doors – hair pulled back in a ponytail with a babe on your hip, holding the hand of a little boy whose dusty brown shoe just found your toes with a crunch. Your little pigtailed girl trailed along behind, dragging the blue canvas bag containing coloring pages […]

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The Story We Must Tell Our Kids

The Story We Must Tell Our Kids

Oh- this beautiful story of Truth and Redemption, Of great Forgiveness and Grace, Of a Savior’s deep Love and Sacrifice – With hearts growing in faith and hope all for His glory. It’s THE STORY I want my children to know and love and claim as their very own – not just during Holy Week, […]

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Making Easter Truly About JESUS!

Making Easter Truly About Jesus

So, yeah, the story of Easter is tough. It is painful, soul-ripping, and gloriously beautiful. In the end we find it’s a story of deep sacrifice, extraordinary love, and ultimate victory. But getting to that point can be quite excruciating. At Christmas we fall in love with Jesus – God with us – right there […]

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When Fearful You Are Not Enough

When Fearful You are Not Enough

Come the one hundred thirty-second day of school, you can find yourself standing at the kitchen sink with a girl crunching apples to the beat of the clock ticking loud – Beating as if it were your own heart thumping lower. And you can stare out the window watching snow dripping muddy puddles and the […]

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To My Only Son – on Your 7th Birthday

To My Only Son

Sure, everywhere we go, you’re the boy with all those sisters – The one with crazy energy and far more passion than I ever thought possible. The little man striving to exhibit incredible strength, courage, and honor amidst all things girly. The son that I never in a million years could’ve realized how very much […]

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Dear Mama Who Has No Time for God

Dear Mama Who Has No Time for God

You wonder how – since you barely ever go to the bathroom alone – is it possible to add one more thing to your already never-ending list by taking time to seek the heart of God through prayer and Bible study!? These words are for you (and for me too)… You were up half the […]

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