motherhood. it isn’t what you think.


Motherhood is quite ordinary. My version is anyway.

It’s yoga pants and dirty dishes and diaper explosions. Motherhood is meal planning and mountains of laundry and a soaking wet floor during bath time. It’s being on duty every second of every day, never sleeping soundly ever again and being kicked in the stomach, by tiny feet, all night long. It’s cuddling a feverish toddler instead of mopping the floors. Motherhood is first steps and first dates and first jobs.

Motherhood is grainy selfies in the mirror with no make up on because your life isn’t glamorous but it is your own version of perfect. And that’s worth documenting.



Motherhood is exhausting and overwhelming and magnificent.



Motherhood is deeply personal and wonderfully unique to each woman.

Motherhood is a woman working two jobs and going to college online so she can take care of her little ones. It’s tears cried for the lives of babies lost or never held. It’s heartbreak in the doctor’s office when fertility treatments fail again. Motherhood is a mama flying across the globe to hold her three year old baby for the very first time. It’s a second grade teacher bringing snacks for her students who she knows didn’t have breakfast at home. It’s an auntie playing pirates because they asked so nice, how could she resist?

Motherhood is faithful. Motherhood is brave and courageous and strong. Motherhood is compassionate and gentle and home. Motherhood is a daily battle for patience and grace and joy.

Motherhood is love.



Every woman is writing a story, and in each story motherhood will look different. But whether a woman has twelve kids or zero kids isn’t the point.

The point is that every woman was created to give life.

The unending capacity for deep, life-giving love, is not only given to women who bear children. It lives in all women and is integral to every single relationship we nurture.

Where a woman plants her love, beauty will grow.

So, the simple truth is this…

Motherhood is the quiet place in a woman’s heart whispering that her love will change the world.

So today, on Mother’s Day, I’m choosing to celebrate all women and the gentle, compassionate, stubborn, and fierce way that we love our people. It’s a world-changing sort of love, and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.


{oh look, i created a monster.} when spirited parents have spirited children.


2:30am this morning. I heard my three year old calling for me. Most of the time if I go lay with him he will fall back to sleep quickly. Other times he is awake for hours. I always know within ten seconds of entering his room which one of those scenarios I’m walking into.

If he cuddles up next to me and closes his eyes, I am in the clear. However, if instead of cuddles he blurts out, “I’m so hungwy!” I know I’m in trouble.

This morning he was hungry.

I got him a banana while he cried because, “it’s gonna take you a long time!” Typically getting a banana takes me anywhere from 12-15 seconds, but when you’re that hungry I guess it could feel like an eternity. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not.

I gave him the banana. He held onto the banana while he wiped his tears and sniffled, still recovering from the long wait and the trauma of it all. Then somehow, tragically, the overripe banana broke right in half.

His eyes grew wide with horror.

I gasped audibly.

All of the things hit the fan in that moment.


This kid is serious about his food. When he is hangry it is not pretty. I’m the same way, so I guess he comes by it honestly. But when you’re hangry, and you’re three, and you’re half asleep, there is no reasoning with you.

His hysterics woke the whole house. He needed a new banana RIGHT NOW! But, as fate would have it, that poor broken banana was the last banana in the whole house. (Note to self. Next time buy more bananas than you could ever possibly need. And then get one more just to be safe.) I told him so and knew that in his mind there was no reason good enough to warrant me not producing a new banana right then and there.

That scene lasted almost an hour.

Because when your banana is broken, the only possible solution is to get another banana.


That’s the thing with three-year-old logic. It is confident and sure and incapable of seeing how any other point of view could possibly be right. It knows what it wants and when things don’t go its way, the wrath is very real. Also, it doesn’t care who is watching. How public their display might be. They will fight for their truth no matter what.


This afternoon we went to Whole Foods. I quickly grabbed the two things I needed and made a beeline for the cashier. The day had already been rough, I had chased my kid around the salad bar island for too long while he laughed hysterically AT me, and for my sanity I needed to get out of there. Little did I know my tiny hurricane had the grand finale up his sleeve.

As I checked out his eyes fell on the carts from hell. You know the ones I’m talking about. The shopping cart with an entire kids car attached to the front. It’s long and impossible to steer and you will always clip someone in the ankles while driving it.

Hudson took off running and practically dove headfirst into the plastic police car. I let him sit there and honk the horn while I paid one million dollars for toothpaste. Maybe he could just get it out of his system.

Denial is such a wonderful place to be.

As I gathered my bags I told him we needed to go. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He gestured frantically at my shopping bags, tears already coursing down his cheeks, and screamed at me.

“NO!!!!! Put all of that back on the shelf!!!! We have to start over!!!!!!”

I laughed. Out loud. Because I knew he was serious and I knew what was coming. And sometimes you laugh so you don’t cry.

I told him I was so sorry he felt sad, I know he loves this cart. Maybe next time we can use it.

“PUT THE FOOD BACK! We have to start over!!!!!”

Sometimes you can pretend no one is staring at you if you just don’t look up. I zeroed in on my boy’s face and tried to prevent a scene without restocking my sea salt chick peas. I told him I would put the grocery bags into the police car cart and we could drive the new cart to the car.

You would have thought I suggested he give up cheese.

He was now screaming at full volume, face red and tear-stained, I was pretty sure he was going to hyperventilate as he likes to do when he’s really angry. I knew what I had to do.

I crouched down and basically climbed into the cop car to get my arms around him. I wrestled him out of the car, he was flailing and screaming and furious. And the ridiculous thing is I understood why he was mad. He saw a problem. He knew how to fix it. And I wasn’t listening.

Three-year-old logic does not like to be ignored.

Spirited three-year-old logic becomes indignant, and a little violent.

I hoisted my baby boy, who is filled with so much fire, onto my hip. I pushed our cart with the malfunctioning wheel, out of the store, past the staring shoppers, across the parking lot, while   holding on for dear life to a flailing, and surprisingly strong, three-year-old who was not getting his way.

We somehow made it to the car, he eventually calmed down and fell fast asleep. My head was pounding, my nerves frayed, and I needed chocolate like now.


I realized there are four ways to handle spirited three-year-old logic.

  1. Scream and cry louder than them.
  2. Give in to their every demand.
  3. Never go out in public ever again.
  4. Be the adult, choose my words carefully, and help my baby learn how to be in control of his emotions. Understand that the process will be a long one and the journey will not always be smooth, but he is so worth it.

As much as number one seems easier and who doesn’t love a good cry? Today I realized all over again the gift that is my youngest son. He is wild, he is fire, he is spirited, he is passionate and he is strong.


It’s easy for me to see the naughty, to hear the defiance, and want to change his behavior. But once I’m calm, once I stop and breathe, I remember. My greatest responsibility as a mama is not to force my child to fit inside a box of stereotypes, or to make sure he conforms to a list of who he should be and how he should act.

As his mama my job is to love every single part of who he was created to be. I get to celebrate the person he is, encourage his strengths and challenge him in areas where I know he can grow.

I never want that fire in his spirit to be snuffed out. I want it to be used for the extraordinary things I know he is capable of. I just want to teach him how to not let broken bananas or police car shopping carts turn his world upside down.


And if I want to teach him self-control, I guess I better exercise my own as well. Because, if you ask my mama she will tell you. The child I call Tiny, the one who tests every limit and toes every line, the one who kisses me fierce and hugs me tight. This little person is the spitting image of his mama. Once upon a time I toed every line and tested every limit and made my fair share of public scenes. I knew I was right and hated to be told I was wrong. And God gave me a mama strong enough to handle my fire but gentle enough to teach that red-headed hurricane how to be the very best version of me she could possibly be.


And she taught me that motherhood is far from easy. There are days I will worry, days I will cry, days I will scream. There will be days like today where the battle of wills seems more like survival of the fittest. But the truth is, the beauty of seeing your child become who they were created to be, playing a role in shaping a life, cheering on someone you believe in more than you ever thought possible, it makes all of those days so very worth it.


On those difficult days, I am so thankful that His mercies are new every morning.

Also, chocolate is a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism.


if you’re wondering why i’m terrified of peanuts.

I haven’t eaten peanuts since 2008.

I used to eat extra crunchy Jif by the spoonful and call it dinner. I needed peanut butter like most adults need coffee. Now I won’t touch anything with peanuts anywhere in the ingredient list.

But why? It’s simple really.

I’m scared of peanuts.

I see that confused look on your face and I truly can’t blame you. I also know your next question.

Are you allergic to peanuts or something?

No. But that is a logical conclusion. Unfortunately anxiety is the opposite of logic.

Anxiety. My lifelong nemesis. A constant companion for most of the days I can remember. However in 2008 my chronic, but underlying, anxiety disorder became a full blown panic disorder.


I was pregnant. Hormones are more powerful than I ever realized. And I lived in crisis mode for nine months. I became paralyzingly afraid that I had developed a severe peanut allergy and if I ate one the worst would happen.

Honestly, peanuts were the least of my worries.

Every second of my life was shrouded in morbid fears that I could not escape. Daily tasks were now risky and dangerous. My physical symptoms spiraled out of control and I rarely left my bed.

And I knew it was crazy. I knew I sounded nuts. I knew no one else was worried about falling through a sewer grate or contracting every deadly disease mentioned on the evening news. I knew not everyone was convinced they were dying.

But you try reasoning with someone knee-deep in a panic attack. It is not typically an effective approach.

Someday I will share my full story of healing and restoration. It would be approximately 79,823,987,564 pages long, but the description on the back would read something like this:

“When an ordinary day becomes the day you have your first panic attack, life probably won’t ever be the same. Six years later I look back on my journey and see the darkest storms of my life but I also see healing, restoration, and hope. Those storms caused total devastation. I was obliterated and left for lost. But hope doesn’t give up. Hope believes, it trusts, it stays. Hope rebuilds what was destroyed. Hope sees what is impossible and knows Jesus still can. Today I can’t believe where I was, how far I’ve come or the beauty of the person rebuilt from that place of desperation and loss. But I know one thing for sure, there is purpose in our pain. Also, I still don’t eat peanuts, but I like to consider that a cute little battle scar.”

Anxiety tried to destroy me. It stole so much, and it will always be a part of my story. But it will not win. Maybe it’s a part of your story, too. Hear me say this. It does not have to win.

I’m not here to talk about how medication or therapy or acupuncture or diet or Jesus (well, I’m always a fan of Jesus) will be your quick fix. I’m not talking about how I beat anxiety and because this and this worked for me it will work for you. I believe with all of my heart that each story is different. Each healing journey is different. But most of all I believe that anxiety does not get to win. Once upon a time I couldn’t imagine beating it and I needed someone to remind me. Some days I still need the reminder.


I have two babies now. They hate it when I call them babies but I tell them to deal with it because they’ll be my babies tomorrow and when they go to prom and when they have babies of their own. I’ll always kiss them in public too. But I digress.

I have two babies. They are the best thing I have ever done, the most precious thing in my life and that is some scary business.

Mixing motherhood with anxiety?

It’s a perfect storm really.

Like I didn’t have enough anxiety ammunition before there were two tiny people I would do anything for.


Now I have to keep them safe? I’m in charge of them? Me? The one who is afraid of peanuts and taxi drivers? Now I have to worry about choking hazards and SIDS and correctly installing a car seat?

(Insert a myriad of colorful language here.)

But hold on. I didn’t see this coming. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you didn’t either. Yes you, mama. The one almost ready to give birth or with a tiny one in your arms while you read this. The one who fights fear all day every day. The one who maybe feels like less than a great mama because anxiety monopolizes your time and your sleep and your smile. I’m talking to you. Listen to me.

If you’ll let them, your tiny child will be the catalyst for healing in your life.


Life is terrifying. We need only turn on the news to understand that this world is broken and life is fragile. It always has been and it always will be. We worry because the worst can happen and someday it might.


Life is more wonderful than it is terrifying. Sometimes I just forget.

When I look at my boys I know that worry is not the legacy I want to pass on. Anxiety is not their birthright. Fear will not define them.

So I fight.

I have fought for six years. I have spent endless hours, and money I didn’t have, to find answers. I have prayed desperate and when words failed me I know Jesus understood my tears. I have doubted. I have questioned. I have been angry and defeated and fatigued. I have screamed at my God in one breath and begged him to save me in the next. I tried to walk away but he followed me.


And in the worst of the terrible moments, when fear was doing a victory lap, I looked into the faces of the babies I adore and I knew if I didn’t want to fight for me I needed to fight for them. I don’t want to teach them a lifestyle of worry. I won’t.

Today I can hardly believe how far I’ve come. The months of constant panic seem more like a bad dream than a life that I lived. But I did live them. I still worry more than most. Anxiety grips me when I least expect it and takes my breath away. But it no longer controls me.

I don’t know what your journey has been like. I don’t know how you will find healing. But I know it is possible. I know you are worth fighting for. I know my Jesus never leaves your side.

I know my boys may someday face fear that feels unbeatable. That thought brings me to my knees. Not my babies. Not them. Please, no.

I can’t protect them from everything. Including their own fears. But I can show them what it looks like to never give up. I can show them that prayer changes things. I can be an example of vulnerability and honesty and willingness to share my journey if it could possibly help one person. I can discuss anxiety like the true thief it is instead of teaching them to be ashamed or embarrassed by it. I can teach them that life is a gift and to celebrate the beauty instead of being paralyzed by fear.

I can teach them that if a day comes when fear feels too strong that there is always hope.

I will show them that sometimes true courage is driving a car for the first time in half a decade. Tell them that bravery is not just for knights and ninjas. Sometimes the bravest person is the one who flies across the country by herself, shaking and sweating, because anxiety sucks but Jesus makes me brave.

And who knows. Maybe someday I’ll show them that healing is eating a handful of peanuts. Unless you’re actually have a peanut allergy. Then please do not eat a handful of peanuts.


ten things my husband can sleep through. and why it makes me crazy.

You guys. I am so tired.

So very tired.

I blame it on the fact that I don’t think I’ve achieved REM sleep since my first child was born. That is almost six years people. Six years! That’s a long freaking time to be half awake.

Last night my three year old and my almost six year old took turns waking up every two hours just to torture me and also to remind me why another newborn is just not gonna happen right now.

Sometimes I think about how tired I am and I get angry.

When an Irish girl gets angry it is not pretty. Trust me. I get angry because no matter how hard I try, no matter how long my day, how busy we were, how excited I am for sleep, once my head hits the pillow at night I am just laying there waiting, expecting, knowing, that the second I give in to true deep sleep it will happen.

A child is going to climb into my bed and knee me in the gut for the rest of the night. Someone will need a drink. At least one child will develop a mystery nighttime only illness that will definitely be gone when the sun comes up but for now it is terrible and life threatening and the only thing that will heal them is for me to not sleep at all ever again. There will be a wet bed. A spontaneous bloody nose. Or a dog will vomit ON MY PILLOW.

If I go to sleep something will happen to destroy that sleep so I will just never let myself fully sleep again because then I can’t be disappointed when they literally rip my dreams away from me.

Then I glance over to the other side of the bed and I see my handsome, funny, smart, loving husband sleeping like it is truly his job and he is the employee of the freaking month.

How dare he knock me up and then get a good night’s sleep every single night for the duration of my kid’s childhood while I lay awake and do all of the worrying.

And honestly? I want to smack him. Right there in the chiseled jawline. 

Who am I kidding. He would just sleep right through it.

He has always been able to sleep right through it.

One time I handed him our newborn son because I was deteriorating fast under the pressure of being a new mom, having breasts that felt like they were on fire every time that little person tried to nurse, and zero sleep. I slept hard that night. It was bliss. Then in the morning my husband informs me that he has no recollection of actually being handed the baby and he woke up in the hallway, carrying my child, not knowing how long he had been pacing in his sleep.

He was never allowed to help with the children at night ever again. For their safety and my sanity.

And so he slept. And I let him. But I didn’t like it.

I did actually try to ask him for help at night one more time with our second son. I called his name. I didn’t yell. I didn’t shake him. Just tried to wake him up gently. We lived in Hawaii at the time and our apartment had recently been invaded by enormous centipedes. When he heard me call his name something in him assumed there was a centipede crawling ON him. He jumped out of bed to save himself and RAN INTO THE WALL.

That was the end of asking him for help at night.

During the day we are a team. A task force. An unstoppable parenting duo.

At night?

Not so much.

His sleeping skills are so impressive I’ve made a list of all the incredible events he has managed to sleep through.

10 things my husband can sleep through

  1. A screaming newborn at 2am. No matter how long they scream, no matter how long I laid there and pretended to be asleep to see if he would wake up and get his child, he never stirred.
  2. Being sprayed in the face by an out of control stream of breast milk while the baby screams because he can’t latch on and I cry because I can’t remember what sleep feels like.
  3. Middle of the night snack and drink requests. He snores while I’m a waitress at a 24 hour diner.
  4. Croup attacks, puking kiddos, and growing pains.
  5. Getting peed on by a three year old. The kid wakes up. Mama wakes up. Daddy sleeps in the soggy sheets. 
  6. Seventeen alarm clocks.
  7. Me, throwing the curtains open, and yelling that we have to leave the house in three minutes.
  8. Me, shaking him violently, and screaming that we have to leave the house in thirty seconds.
  9. Dogs barking two inches from his ear.
  10. Brothers fighting, biting, pinching, and kicking. On top of him. All 85 pounds of them crushing his skull. And he’ll never know.

But we all know the one thing he would wake up for. Every. Single. Time. I won’t say it here because my mother-in-law reads my blog. (Hi mom!) But you know it and I know it and that’s all that matters.

Almost seven years into marriage we have reached an understanding. He gets to sleep. He also gets to do the dishes. I’m still tired but I really hate doing dishes so we call it a deal. And we keep the peace.


See. Peace.

#helovesme #johnnyandgingerforever #heapprovedthispost

Okay now tell me, so I know I’m not the only one, what ridiculousness does your husband sleep through?

confessions of an impatient mom.

They say patience is a virtue. I looked up the definition of patience, just to see if maybe there was a loophole I could cling to for dear life and claim to posses said virtue.

Patience. The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Well crap. That settles it.

I am the most impatient person in the world.


I have never been a patient person. Growing up I would see something I wanted and immediately the obsession would begin. I would harass my parents, think about it constantly, there may have been some whining involved. Charming right? I was also pretty good with words so I could usually talk my way into things.

Just last week I found a three page essay I wrote to my parents when I was fifteen years old. It was typed, with proper heading, and entitled “The Pros and Cons of a Cellular Phone.” It included golden arguments such as, “If I am ever with one of my friends and they run out of gas or they have a flat tire, someone kidnaps us etc, and they don’t have a phone, I will have one.” I rocked that neon yellow phone hard.

One day I showed up at my house with a dog that my friend was giving away, because the second I saw that pup, I desperately needed a dog. We had Maggie for thirteen years.

Waiting for Christmas morning was torture. Forget about college application responses. And sitting by the phone wondering when that super cute boy was going to call me? No way. I would just call him. Patience may be a problem, but boldness I posses.

I think we all have stories like this. Learning patience is part of growing up. Controlling our reactions is part of maturing. Realizing when something is a want and not a need, I think they call that adulthood. Living with life’s little annoyances, is something we all do. Nobody enjoys slow drivers, or traffic jams, or long lines at target. But most of the time we don’t fly off the handle, yelling at the cashier to hurry it up or lay on our horn in standstill traffic because we think it will magically make things change. (Notice I said most of the time. There’s always that one horn honker.) So then we think wow, I’m a really cool, calm, collected, person. My patience is to be admired. At least that’s what I thought.

Then I had kids.


Two of them.


My days were suddenly filled with breastfeeding and cuddling and kissing and staring. My nights were no longer filled with sleep. It is so much harder to feel wonder and awe when your exhaustion is overwhelming. When I heard my tiny son cry in the middle of the night my immediate reaction was not joy and delight. It was frustration, maybe even a twinge of annoyance. Then the entire time I fed him, I was racked with guilt because I wasn’t loving every single second of this motherhood journey. I was tapping my foot and waiting impatiently for him to fall back to sleep so I could also. What was wrong with me?

Toddlerhood came quickly. So did my second son. Managing a two year old and a newborn is similar to climbing Mount Everest. But probably a little bit harder. In my postpartum haze, still nursing a toddler as well as a ravenous newborn, and sleeping almost never, I wondered how we would make it.

But we did, and now here we are.




The last five years have tested me and stretched me and broken me in so many ways. This journey of motherhood is not for the faint of heart. But it is for the heart who knows imperfection is beautiful and that in our weakness He makes us strong.

The reality is this.

I still sigh too often while they search long for the right pair of shoes. I hurry them more than I let them tarry looking at a tiny bug. My words feel sharp when they delay bedtime or don’t clean up right away. There are days my hands are too busy with a to do list and I know I have missed cuddles we both needed, giggles that bring joy uncontainable, and quiet moments that I cannot steal back.

You see I am still not a patient person. But I do pray for patience every single morning, the second my eyes open and I remember that his mercies are brand new right now and today is a whole new chance to love better, speak gently, stare longer, and choose my words with meticulous care.

I recently read these painful but beautiful words from Mr. Jon Bloom, the president of Desiring God. “The pattern in everything is this, the greater joys are obtained through struggle and difficulty and pain – things you must force yourself to do when you don’t feel like it.”

I always feel like loving my boys deep. But I do not always feel like fighting for the discipline and self-control required to exercise true patience. Sometimes it is easier to throw a tantrum when they throw a tantrum. Or yell at them from across the room instead of dropping my task and calmly discipling them in the way the should go. Too many times I have let words come out sharp and painful instead of breathing deep and choosing words that encourage and heal.

To live a life of patience takes energy and dedication and consistency and a whole lot of patience. It is mundane and exhausting and overwhelming. It is a battle with the strong will of a three year old who knows better than you. It is a struggle with the questionable logic of a five year old.

It is an opportunity to fall on your knees.

When the day is too long and the bickering is too loud. When you cannot do it all and the beds are undone. When they need all of you but you have nothing left.

When motherhood seems too tall a mountain to climb.


He is enough.

The God that created me and you, the one who loved us first and always. He knows our hearts, our hopes, our dreams, and our weaknesses. He invites us to come to Him. He wants us to ask Him to be strong where we are not. He gives patience. He gives self-control. He gives peace.

But sometimes in the busy I forget to ask. Which is really a shame because oh, when I do ask. When I remember that I cannot carry the weight of our tiny little world alone. When I lay on my face, words fall short, but tears are the cry of my heart. When I decrease so He can increase. Our life changes.

This surrender, this daily acknowledgement that I need Him so desperately, it’s not easy. It is a struggle. It is a daily choice. It is the breaking of patterns and pride worn deep into the fabric of who I am and who I do not want to raise my boys to be. So I work hard to remember, I fight long to die to myself so these boys can see their mama choose Jesus time and time again.

It may not be simple but it is so very worth it.

You see my boys don’t need me to be perfect. They need me to be a mama willing to admit mistakes, ask forgiveness, pray hard, then pray some more, practice what she preaches, laugh hard and love deep. They need a mama who may not be a patient person but who is committed to learning more and more every day how to practice the art of patience.

And that I can do.

So can you.

Along the journey, let’s always remind ourselves. Practice does not make perfect, but practice does become habit. And I want to be in the habit of living a life worthy of their imitation and admiration. Also all of their belly laughs.


five reasons to fight for sisterhood.


I spent most of my free time during high school in the basement of a dear friend, sitting on an old couch, and watching Wrestlemania. It’s hard to picture. I know. But there I was. Me. Maybe one other girl. And lots of dudes.

Because I was one of the guys. Because girls are too much drama. Because I just get along better with boys.

Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I’ll tell you what I was really doing.

I was searching for as much attention as possible from the opposite sex, and I was avoiding friendships with girls like the plague because girls are scary, and mean and they judge you with their eyes.

High school ended. Then there was college. My first job. Marriage. Babies.

Somehow those adolescent insecurities followed me through it all.

A few persistent women forced their way through my carefully constructed walls, and I eventually learned to love them. Trust them. Need them.

Today, they are the foundation of my passion for sisterhood.

But I get it. I hear your protest. I know you’ve been hurt. I know the scars still sting. I know not all friendships can be saved. I know you feel battle weary and the last thing you want to do is put your heart on the line again. I know she broke your heart. You probably broke hers too. I know she didn’t end up being the person you believed she was. I know promises were broken.

I know it’s easier to text your husband. Binge on Netflix. Stay busy with the kids. Or scroll through Pinterest. Anything is easier than admitting you are lonely. I mean, you are busy, and you are needed, maybe you even have a large family and a doting spouse. You’ll be fine.

I hear you. I have been you.

You can survive without sisterhood.

But can you really live?

Without sisterhood there is loneliness.


I believe that as women we are our best in community with each other. I also believe that we are all human and every single one of us has hurt someone we care about and most likely each one of us has been hurt by someone we love. This is the reality of relationship.

Sisterhood is an enormous risk. Sisterhood is scary. Sisterhood can make you feel like the awkward thirteen year old version of yourself watching the popular girls walk past while you pick food out of your rainbow-colored braces and try to hide your giant nose pimple behind a novel.

Sisterhood can be terribly uncomfortable in the beginning. Like a new pair of shoes. You will probably get blisters. You might even bleed a little bit. But once they’re worn in there is nothing else in the world you would rather wear.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me. It’s also okay if you sort of wish you could slap me because how dare I assume that every single woman needs sisterhood. And why is she talking about blisters? I understand how crazy I might sound. But experiencing true sisterhood can prove even the staunchest critic wrong.

I’m not here to convince you I’m right. I’m here to share five reasons sisterhood is worth fighting for, and then you can decide for yourself.


five reasons to fight for sisterhood

  1. Sisterhood tells you when you have food in your teeth. She has your back no matter what and she will always tell you the truth. Because no one wants to walk around with food in their teeth or toilet paper stuck to their shoe or live in a toxic dating relationship without someone telling them the truth. It might be difficult, and awkward and you might be mad at her for a minute but at the end of the day you know sisterhood loves the crap out of you and that’s why she will tell you things no one else will.
  2. Sisterhood comes to your pity party just to kick your ass back to reality. We have all spent days buried under the covers feeling sorry for ourselves. Sisterhood knows when we need her to cuddle up next to us and she also knows when we’re milking it for all it’s worth. Then she drags us out of the depths, kicking and screaming, and reminds us how wonderful the world can be and that we should really become human again. We resist but eventually all the sunshine and all the chocolate and the obnoxious persistent sister convince us that the hermit life is not the best life.
  3. Sisterhood doesn’t pass out when you give birth. Husbands might but sisterhood won’t. Sisterhood holds your legs, tells you to push when all you want to do is scream. And that is how sisterhood loves you through each and every storm in your life. She cheers you on, carries you when necessary, and she knows you can when you’re positive you cannot.
  4. Sisterhood loves you deeper than is expected and longer than is convenient. Everyone is annoying sometimes. I am. You are. Sisterhood loves you even then. She loves all of you. She loves all of me. It’s crazy and nearly incomprehensible to think that we could be loved that deeply, but it’s true. Sisterhood knows your secrets, has seen your worst, has heard it all, and it doesn’t change how her heart loves you. Not one tiny little bit. Distance doesn’t matter. Time doesn’t matter. Your kids screaming in the background of your phone call doesn’t matter. She is truly, madly, deeply committed to loving you and you are just going to have to live with that.
  5. Sisterhood doesn’t knock. and it borrows your favorite dress without asking. The greatest gift of sisterhood is that it is home. It doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t remind you of home. It is home. Sisterhood throws her doors wide open and says come on in, how rude of you to knock. Help yourself to some food. I’ll be busy letting myself into your house and borrowing that dress I love and probably grabbing some tampons because I’m out and those things are stinking expensive. Sisterhood doesn’t ask your permission to do life with you, it just does. Because that’s what sisters do.

So you see, it’s worth the fight. It’s worth the messy of relationship. Because the good is so much greater than the bad.

You will definitely have to step outside of your comfort zone. I’m not saying you have to decide to love manicures if you don’t, or that you have to go to Crossfit if yoga is your jam. I’m not saying you have to be best friends with every woman you meet. No. I’m saying put yourself out there. Have real conversations. And see what happens.

You might connect most deeply with women who have the same passions as you. Or you may find some of the women who become your closest friends are your total opposite. They might introduce you to new things you never would have tried otherwise. Maybe you will teach them about something they will grow to love.

Maybe you will find a little bit of both. Because no two friendships look exactly the same.

You might get hurt again. You might not. But once you find true sisterhood, it will make the entire journey worth it. You can quote me, the one who fought against the idea of sisterhood for way too long, on that.


There are incredible stories of sisterhood surrounding us and so often we don’t get to hear them. Everyone asks to hear a couple’s love story. Well, what about our sisterhood stories? We need to hear these stories and be reminded that sisterhood is important and wonderful and worth it.

Next week I will be launching a blog series called “A Portrait of Sisterhood”.


A Portrait of Sisterhood will be a series of posts highlighting friendships. I am currently interviewing and photographing incredible women and cannot wait to share their real stories with you. Sisterhood is not easy, but when I listen to their stories I am reminded over and over again that sisterhood is so worth it. I cannot wait to share these incredible women with you. I hope and pray that more and more stories will be brought to my attention to share with the world because let’s face it, we need to hear them!


keep the training wheels. toss the tv.

I adore my children.

I believe that most who know me, know this is true.


Lately I feel like the president of the Crappy Mom Club.

Impatient. Short fused. Ugly voice. Snapping at my kids. Forgetting gentleness. Telling them we’ll cuddle later. Yelling across the house when I hear bickering. And on and on.

There are a million things I want to blame it on. I’ve considered deleting this post a dozen times already. But this is the real. The raw. The ugly.

Last night Ezra was fighting sleep. Like always. And not listening to me. Like always. And watching a movie. Like always. And I snapped. It wasn’t kind or loving or even remotely thought through.

“Ezra! I am so sick of your attitude!”

He looked at me. Held my gaze. I saw in his eyes the same nasty glare that was in mine at that exact moment.

“I am so sick of you!”

I gasped. He quickly said, “Sorry mom!” And rolled back to his show.

I, however, was not so quick to recover. What is happening to my child? Who was that? The past couple of months I have watched him struggle to listen. Fail to obey simple instructions. I have seen him become angry. I have watched my sweet boy react physically when a friend or his brother upset him. He has started bursting into tears the second something doesn’t go his way instead of communicating with words.

And I have blamed my frustration. My stress. My bad attitude. My terrible parenting. On my kids and the way they drive me wild.

Then I felt the tap tap tap on my shoulder. The tap I hate because it means I have done something wrong. The tap I trust with my whole heart because I know it is my Jesus making me more like him.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

My sweet child. Listen to me. Those boys you love. The ones you hold so dear. They will only become the men they are meant to be if you guide them there. Speak gently. Love fiercely. Teach wisely. And live a life worthy of emulating.

Truth I already knew.
Truth I forget all too often.
Truth so heartbreaking. So convicting. So very clear.

Truth overflowing with hope.

I grasped tight. I clung desperate. I claimed that hope as my own.

In the book, Home-Making, by J.R. Miller (one of the best books ever written, in my opinion) the truth is shared as this.

“Selfishness in parents will spread the same unhappy spirit through all the household life. They must be, not in seeming but in reality, what they want their children to be. The lessons they would teach, they must live.”

Oh my heart. My aching, heavy heart.

How dare I act one way and expect my children to act another.
How dare I speak with courtesy and compassion to a stranger, yet pour my frustration out on my babies.
How dare I forget each word I utter has the power of life and death.
How dare I act like the very person I never want to be.
How dare I think I can raise Godly men without first falling daily at the feet of my Jesus.
How dare I think anything good will pour from me when my cup is dry.
How dare I give anything less than the best of me to my boys.

How gracious is my God to gently remind me. Lovingly guide me. Tirelessly teach me. How to be the mama my boys need.

Every time I think I’m ready to take the training wheels off. Think I can handle this parenting thing on my own. Think that I’ve got this.

Tap. tap. tap.
He reminds me.

Parenting always requires training wheels. We are never perfect. We never have it all figured out. And his guidance, his wisdom, his grace, his love, is how we make it through. How our children become their very best selves. How our mistakes are forgiven and relationships are restored.

I think I’ll keep those training wheels. 

I’ll choose not to become overwhelmed by how imperfect I am. How many things I need to work on. How many ways I fail. I will focus on being the best version of me I can be today. Breathing deep and asking myself,

“Is this the way I would want my children to act in this situation?”

Simple enough in theory. Overwhelmingly difficult in execution. Life changing power in this new habit.

Today is day one of this venture into more purposeful parenting. More humble loving. More depth in relationship. And within this large idea of how to be better, there are several practical changes I know we need to make in our household. Changes long thought about but too overwhelming or scary to face. Until now.

Because let’s face it. Our kids are worth being better for. No matter how hard it might seem.

So we start small. One change at a time. Change number one is an enormous thorn in my side. A terrible habit that formed slowly and gradually became a regular part of our daily routine.

Television. Way. Too. Much. Television.

Well, Netflix, YouTube Toy Reviews and Disney Movies to be exact. But too much screen time all the same.

What started as a show or two a day became much more and the worst part of this habit is that for a year or more, Ezra has fallen asleep at night while watching his beloved “calm down shows.” Sometimes it takes hours for him to fall asleep, we’re talking midnight or later, but I so desperately craved quiet time to myself, that at the time it didn’t matter what the cost. So what if he watches shows at night? It can’t be that big of a deal. Can it?

The past several weeks as I began to feel more strongly about kicking this habit of ours, I started reading articles and watching videos about the effects of too much tv and young kids brains. The science behind it has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. How easy it was to stick my kids in front of the tv and not think about how detrimental it really was because I chose not to do the research.

The more I have read. The more I have learned. And the more convinced I am that the majority of Ezra’s behavioral issues lately are a result of way too much screen time. Too much stimulation for his little brain. If this sounds dramatic, I promise you it’s not. Below I have posted a fantastic TED Talk, delivered by a doctor who has done extensive research into the effects of tv on a young brain. It is well worth your time to watch.

How could I watch that and not be changed? How could I see Ezra’s shortening attention span and his disinterest in books and games that are “boring”, and not see the connection?

I made a mistake. 

But we’re changing it. 

We have already cut tv completely out of our days, except for Hudson’s nap time when Ezra watches a couple shows. It’s been about a week and it has been ROUGH at times, but the boys have begun to engage in much more imaginative play. They are playing together more. They are creating games. They are also bickering more. But at least I know that means their minds are engaged.

Tonight is the night I have been preparing Ezra for. Tonight we are not going to watch any shows at bedtime. Him or me. I am committed to not watching shows of my own when my boys are awake, so they know this is a change for the whole family. (I’ll still watch a Star Trek episode or two after they doze off… obviously.) I need prayers for strength and resolve to not give in, but I think we’re ready and I know a couple of rough nights will be totally worth it on the other end. The next goal will be to cut out Ezra’s shows during Hudson’s nap time. My ultimate goal is not to have them never ever watch a show again. My goal is for shows to be an occasional treat. For movie nights to be something looked forward to and not expected. For interest in books and play to be chosen over the desire, or the tantrum, demanding mindless entertainment. For me to engage my kids in my daily tasks instead of having Disney Junior babysit while I clean the house.

Even reading those goals I get a little overwhelmed. My palms are sweaty. I’m a tad nauseous. But I mean it. I’m sticking to it. And if you want to follow our journey, or even better, want to join in (we’re stronger in numbers) visit or share on the tag #purposefullyunplugged on Instagram.

Thank you Jesus for grace.

Not Tonight Babe, I’m Watching Star Trek. A Blog Post About Priorities.

Toes warm inside Husband’s boots. Giant sweater pulled close. Breathe oxygen deep. Crisp, cool, alive, it refreshes and restores. Eyes filled with majestic towering trees, the lake nearly frozen, snow silently landing, creation loudly singing His praise. Settle back against an ancient log, the smell of smoke from the fire brings a million memories to life. Tucking a blanket around my legs, then another, I open my bag. Touch a beloved novel, catch a glimpse of my worn journal, find headphones just begging me to listen, nearly dig to the bottom for my camera. Instead, I contemplate each, then set them all aside. Today I will just sit. Just be. Just rest. For as long as I want.

My eyes close, my heart at peace.

I awake to screaming. Blood curdling, terrifying, someone is in horrible danger, screams. My eyes fly open, maybe someone has fallen through the too thin ice…

I jump to my feet and as the brain fog clears, my vision steadies, the screaming continues, reality envelops.

I am in my bed.
It is five o’clock in the morning.
The screaming is coming through the static filled baby monitor on my bedside table.

Good morning to me.

After a half asleep argument with my husband about who got the baby yesterday, it is determined that today is my turn. I mentally give my husband props for the falling back asleep trick he just pulled and then wonder why men were given the ability to fall fast asleep while their child screams. Jealousy is my primary emotion as I drag myself out of bed.

It’s pep talk time.

“Alright, I’ve got this. I don’t need more than five hours of sleep. The baby waking up early only means extra cuddle time. The early bird gets the worm. I’ve been wanting to become a morning person. At least it’s not four o’clock in the morning. I asked for this. I miss my campfire in the peaceful forest. How dare he wake up two hours early.”

My internal monologue deteriorates rapidly as I approach my son’s door.

Enter mom mode. This is a mode no one, except for moms, can truly understand. It’s similar to the fight or flight response.

Be a mom. Curling up in a ball is not an option. Deal with it.

I open his door, I look at his ridiculously gorgeous face, and I call out GOOD MORNING! I’m convinced he can see straight through me. I hope he at least appreciates the effort. It is morning. But good is an overstatement and he knows it. He’s got that look in his eyes. The one that accuses, this is a sweat pants all day sort of day isn’t it?

We get up. We don’t get dressed. He does get a diaper change. We watch more Netflix than recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. He eats an entire carton of grapes, and a couple cookies. Breakfast of champions. Then we watch more Netflix. It is now eight o’clock in the morning.

We wake up Big Brother. This infuriates him. There is the flailing of limbs, some hair pulling. Finally he opens his eyes and asks for eggs. Eight thirty.

Our day continues on, much like the days before and the days to come. There is playing, there is schoolwork, there is perhaps a grocery store run. There is fighting, sometimes biting, there are tears and there are apologies. Often there is a meeting that I either drag my children to and attempt to pay attention while also keeping them occupied, or I Skype into the meeting and although it’s nice that no one can see the giant hole in my sweat pants, I sort of miss being in the same room as other adults.

When Husband comes home I glance at him and keep making dinner, usually asking him for help with something before asking about his day. Occasionally the picture I envisioned as a young, romantic, single person, sneaks into my mind, and guilt overtakes that I haven’t rushed to the door and thrown my arms around his neck declaring loudly how much I missed him all day.

I did miss him. Truth is, I miss myself too.

I finish dinner, and the boys wrestle with their daddy. The sound of his laughter and their hysterical screams and squeals, brings tears to my eyes. Not because it’s so beautiful how they love each other, even though that is true. The tears come because I have forgotten how to play. I am very good at making it through the day, going through the proper motions, and loving my family deeply. But fun, play, hysterical laughter, they seem to have been misplaced.

After scraping dinner dishes, and mopping up a floor soaked by a rowdy bath, bedtime is so close I can almost taste it. If both of my children are asleep by ten o’clock it is cause for celebration. If they are both asleep by nine o’clock, or earlier, then I assume that if I pulled the curtains back I would see pigs flying down the street. Whatever the time may be, once they are asleep, I typically fall into bed, with my dinner, which I prefer to eat late, and in peace. I immediately plug in my headphones and press play.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see him looking at me. You ladies know the look. The look you try to pretend you don’t notice because you’re just so weary and you need time to yourself. Finally, wishing I had perfected his fall asleep on command trick, I look over at my sweet husband. He smiles. I respond.

“Not tonight babe. I’m watching Star Trek.”
(Yes. Star Trek. Don’t judge.)

I look back at my screen but all I see is the hurt in his eyes.

While the crew of the Enterprise saves the universe once again, I mentally argue with myself. I explain over and over why I need this time, how important it is for me to unwind, how every second of every day someone needs something from me, how exhausting it is. And then I glance towards my husband, I see his back turned, his own headphones pouring out empty entertainment. And I know I’m being unfair. It’s not his fault his children are sucking the life out of me.

You guys, I adore being a mom. I love my children obsessively. But those two tiny people are so ridiculously needy. And in meeting their needs, most days, I’m ignoring mine. The hour, possibly two, that I get to myself each day, I spend watching Star Trek, or scrolling through social media feeds, instead of hanging out with my husband, and then we aren’t connecting and nobody wins. I wake wondering why I am constantly depleted. Wondering when I became such a crappy mom. And wife.

If I had my guess, I’d say it was around the time I let mom mode take over and forgot everything else.

I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only one stuck in mom mode.

For me to be the very best mom I can be, I have to make time for things that give me life.

I have to write.
I have to take photos.
I have to read.
I have to talk and laugh with my friends, without kids climbing on my back.
I have to go on dates with my husband.
And hold his hand.
I have to spend time reading my bible and praying.
Really praying.

These things are not optional. They are not add-ons to life, things I’ll do if time allows. Because let’s be honest.

Time never allows.
I have to find time.
Make time.
Steal time.

Because I can only be the best mama version, the best wife version, of myself when I’m the best version of my whole entire self.

This is not a how to blog post with pretty bullet points explaining how to successfully balance your life and be the Pinterest perfect wife and mom. There is a place for those posts I’m sure, but this is not it.

This is a mama, still in the thick of it, figuring out how to be mom without losing herself in the process. This is brutal honesty, shared because I am convinced that I am not the only woman trying desperately to be all things to everyone she loves and falling flat on her face in the process. This is, I hope, the start of a much needed conversation and community centered around encouraging and inspiring others who struggle to balance life, while learning to laugh at ourselves in the process.

In a world filled with comparison, competition, and jealousy, it is no wonder so many incredible mamas think they are failing. It is no wonder so many single people think there is something wrong with them because no one has married them yet. It is no wonder that thirteen year old girls are throwing up their lunch after a photoshopped image showed them how they “should” look.

So here I am, in the thick of rediscovering myself, as me, as a wife and as a mama, sharing my story to perhaps encourage you that you are not alone. And to invite you to join me on this journey of prioritizing your life so you can fully live. And love.

I have started a brand new facebook page called, TO HOLD YOU DEAR. A BLOG. If you can relate to this post, head over, like the page and let’s all encourage each other along the journey.

Start today.
Start with baby steps.
Today I’m not going to worry about my to do list. I’m just going to play. I’m also going to lock the door when I go to the bathroom so I can breathe. And I might even skip Star Trek for the night. Maybe. I said baby steps.

So much love, and grace to you.

kryptonite and two tiny dreams.

Friday we will have been married five years.
My firstborn will be four years old before the temperature outside drops below 80.
My baby can talk, and most of our extended family and some of our closest friends haven’t ever met him.
The days pass me by, I find myself waking up already excited for bedtime.
I go through the motions.
Sometimes even the motions are too hard.
Five years.
Who decided to fast forward time?

This carousel of doctors visits.
A cabinet filled with some effective,
most ineffective,
medications and supplements.
Good days,
bad weeks.
Contagious giggles,
and temper,
Hope peaking,
hope waning.

I want off.

I step outside myself and I peer back in.
Removed from my emotions I see the truth.

I am stronger.
I am healing.
Sick does not define me.
Weak is not my forever.
I am stuck.

Allow the emotions back in and I am paralyzed.

Fear has always been my enemy.
Allowing fear to push me into a stagnate life, this is my kryptonite.

1. to cease to run or flow.
2. to be or become stale or foul from standing, as a pool of water.
3. to stop developing, growing, progressing, or advancing.
4. to be or become sluggish and dull.

 I read these definitions, immediately cringing. In all honesty I almost deleted the beginnings of this post and started again with something prettier.

 But this is important.
Too important to delete.
Too important to forget.
So I continue.

 I think anyone walking through crisis, trauma, illness, divorce, job loss, and the list goes on, finds their own version of survival mode. I’m no psychiatrist, but I believe survival mode looks different for each person. I also believe that it is vitally important. Survival mode is what prompts people to look at the single mom dealing with four kids while working full-time, and then some, to pay the bills, and declare, “I don’t know how you do it!” Survival mode is what causes people to read blogs or Facebook pages started in support of a young child dealing with a life altering illness or injury and wonder, “How do they stay so strong? How are their parents making it through each day?” Survival mode is what keeps up standing through the deepest and darkest of life’s valleys.

 Survival mode is one of God’s great gifts to us.
We will face difficulties in this life.
That is guaranteed.
But God’s grace is sufficient and through the crisis, we continue on.
Knowing our strength is not our own.

Enter the problem with survival mode.

Here I am.
Not the strongest I have ever been.
But no longer the weakest.
Yet I live my days in survival mode.
Auto pilot.
Survival mode was never meant to last forever,
too much of what makes us thrive is lost during that time.
Yet I can’t seem to turn it off.

I am terrified to believe I am getting stronger.
Some strange place in my head tells me that as soon as I accept that beautiful dream as truth, I will get worse again.
I have wonderful days and then five minutes of weakness, or exhaustion, or anxiety, convinces me that the entire process is starting all over again. I’m immediately convinced that I’ll be bedridden by tomorrow.

The constant fear of the next catastrophe stops me in my tracks.
Paralyzes my emotions.
Forces my entire being into stagnation.

That is where all of the time goes.
That is what takes all of my energy.
Preparing to survive the next horrible thing that is definitely coming, always lurking around the next corner.
And the only way to make it through these imagined, horrifying, inevitable, disasters is to turn everything that defines me, that moves me, that is me, off.

And in this place.
I cease to flow.
I am stale.
I am foul.
I stop growing.
I am sluggish.
I am dull.

 And my heart breaks.

I find joy and beauty in moments of my day.
I write them down.
Photograph them.
Cherish them.

 I kiss my boys loudly.
I stare at them in awe.
I shower them with as much love as any human ever could.

But when I look into my heart,
deeper than the naked eye can see,
I see a broken connection.
A switch flipped to off.
An engine stuck in neutral,
revving loudly but going nowhere.

Who is this person?

When I am outside peering in, I feel sad for her.
When I am inside, I am ashamed.

How could I let this happen?

 Survival mode no longer necessary.
So I chose this?
I am here voluntarily?
This is what I want for my life?

Now I am angry.

Until recently I chose to be oblivious to the sad state of my heart.
I knew life had been hard, I knew I needed healing, I knew it would be a long road, but I blamed my circumstances and refused to take any responsibility for my stagnate heart.
And then something happened, unexpected, almost unwanted, as I tried to protect my fragile existence.

 Two tiny dreams flew into my heart, they nestled deep into my wounds so open and raw.
Two tiny dreams that made old wounds bleed but somehow my heart felt full.
A feeling so foreign but so much like home.
Two tiny dreams that whispered of the life I know I was born to live.
Two tiny dreams that caused a battle so fierce between my oldest foe, fear and new hope fighting desperately to take hold.
Two tiny whispers play on repeat in my ears, a tumultuous love song causing my mind to spin.

 In that chaotic cyclone, I see it.
I see the moment.
I see the truth.
I see my fear.
I see my excuses.
I see my choice to stop trusting the One who gave me life.
I see his heartbreak.
I see the path I took to now.

Jesus, please let me un-see it.

Jesus, please say this is not my fault.

Jesus, I had to protect myself.

Jesus, it just seems too hard.

Jesus, thank you for new dreams.
I touch the spot on my chest, once again full.

 Jesus, I’m so sorry I broke your heart.

 Knees bent, heart bleeding, tears running, hope healing, dreams living, trust growing, Jesus holding.

 Baby steps forward.

 This life I was meant to live.
This life I chose not to live.
This life He gave back to me.

Only a fool would believe the battle is over.
Only a fool would believe God will not always win.

Today my joy is found in knowing, believing and trusting that Jesus will never give up. He will never let me settle for stagnate. And even when they cause fear to knock at my back door, he will always give me dreams.

I just have to choose to move.


“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

Rainy Days

When I woke up this morning it was raining.

Torrential downpour kind of rain.

I wanted to pull the covers back up over my weary head and stay in bed until the sun was shining and I miraculously felt energized and alert. However I have babies, and babies wake up and want milk and food and books read to them and toys to be played with and squabbles to be solved for them. So when I heard H’s little voice on the monitor, I’ll admit that I laid in bed and just listened to him chat with himself for a few minutes, but when his chatter turned into t rex style squeals, I pushed the covers off and opened the door to my baby boys room and was greeted with his sunshine smile and outstretched arms.

Unfortunately my day did not consist of much more sunshine. The rain continued to pour outside, Hudson quickly became a tantrum throwing, cranky monster, who is either teething or has another ear infection (fingers crossed it’s teething). Ezra woke up and the two boys together were somehow able to use up any reserve of energy that I had stored up by around 10am.

But we made it through the day.

It wasn’t pretty. I spoke more harshly at times than I needed to. I lost my patience more quickly than I’d care to admit. But for some reason my boys still love me and still wanted to hug me and kiss me and cuddle me. I genuinely believe that they know the days when my health is not as strong and I believe that God gives them extra grace and mercy for me as a mama. And extra kisses and cuddles too.

For those of you who are not familiar with our journey, let me share briefly. I had two very rough pregnancies. I was quite physically ill with both of them, losing a lot of weight and having many other strange physical symptoms due to weakness. I also began having severe panic attacks that lasted throughout Ezra’s entire pregnancy and resurfaced during Hudson’s pregnancy. After each pregnancy I began to slowly regain my health, however about three months after Hudson was born I began to get much worse. Doctors initially told me that it was just stress and anxiety, because once you have struggled with anxiety, many doctors want to blame any problems that you have in the future on that. It is an extremely frustrating situation to be in, especially when you know that what you’re experiencing is not anxiety, but finding a doctor to listen to me took quite some time.

To make an incredibly long story, sort of short, we have spent the last year visiting countless doctors. My symptoms seemed random and strange to them and blood work always came back clear. So to explain away my migraines, extreme weakness, chronic fatigue, vision changes, breathing difficulties, etc, I was told I needed to take an anti-depressant. I am a big believer in the proper medication for a condition, but these doctors were throwing anti-depressants at me because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.

Finally, after over a year of sickness, many days not being able to get off my couch or care for my boys by myself, I have found a wonderful combination of two doctors who have taken on my case and have recognized that there is more than meets the eye, and they were determined to figure it out. I had my adrenal gland function tested last summer and those lab results showed very low adrenal function, which could definitely account for many of my symptoms, but after pursuing adrenal treatment for over six months and not seeing improvement, I spoke to my new applied kinesiologist about why I wasn’t healing and he began to look further. He discovered that there was an infection in my body, at the time not knowing what sort of infection, we began super boosting my immune system to help my body fight this mystery infection. I immediately began to see some results, more than I had seen in over a year. As we continued treatment he began to treat me more specifically for a parasite that we believe I was infected with during my final week living in Hawaii when I went canoeing in a river (note to self: never canoe again). I began to have severe symptoms about two days after that. Since beginning this treatment I have seen steady improvement in my energy levels, my weakness, my moods, and so on. I have a long way to go to achieve total health, since my body has been weak for so long. But for the first time in a long time it appears we are on the right track and I am finally beginning to believe that healing is possible.

Chronic, long-term illness of any kind is scary and exhausting and frustrating, and so many other things all wrapped up in one super unattractive package. A lot of days, including days like today, I find myself giving in to the frustration and the heartache of not being the mom or the wife that I want to be. I yell at my kids because I’m mad at myself for not having the energy to play with them. I put Hudson down for a nap and I park Ezra in front of the tv so I can nap on the couch and hopefully wake up with enough energy to make dinner. I stare at healthy, energetic moms chasing their kids around the park with their nice clothes and their hair done, with a mix of adoration and jealousy of what they are able to do. A lot of days I am a little bit sad and a lot embarrassed by my weaknesses, and although I know in my head it’s not my fault, sometimes my heart still betrays me.

In life, it is always far too easy to focus on the bad, the heart break, the struggle. We are all guilty of letting the bad take over from time to time. And when you are faced with any sort of long-term challenge, survival mode kicks in and all you are concerned with is making it through the day, existing to see tomorrow.

Dreams stop coming.

Laughter is strained.

Hope is gone.

And if that were the end of the story this would be one of the most depressing blog posts ever written. Thank goodness that is not the end.

This struggle has stolen so much from me. So many of the things I prided myself on are now only distant memories. And even the things I still do are only a shadow of what I wish they could be. But in this process I have become someone who I never would have been without this struggle.

I didn’t wish for this struggle. But when I look closely at my heart, I really like the person this season has left behind. Because behind all of the hard moments, beneath the frustration and the embarrassment, is a raw, broken heart that is slowly being pieced back together by her Jesus whispering to her who she truly is.

Who I truly am.

I am stronger, more compassionate, more loving, more grateful for the gift of life than I was before this difficult road began. And my sincere prayer is that this journey and the things I have learned will continue to mold me and who I am every day for the rest of my life.

I believe I am on the road to healing. And I don’t just mean physically. After such a difficult season my heart and mind need healing as well. One of the main ways I am trying to heal my heart is by purposely finding the beautiful moments, the joy filled seconds in my day, and recording them so that even in the midst of a difficult season I will have hundreds and hundreds of beautiful memories to look back on. It is rare that you would find me without my camera because snapping those tiny moments of wonderful and creating a scrapbook of happy for myself and my family has forced me to recognize how much beauty is overflowing from our life, even when it seems like there is only pain and struggle. My previous post talks about my New Years resolution to find joy in life and since then that simple resolution has become an entire community of people on instagram (@thepursuitofjoyproject) all dedicated to finding the beauty in life, the wonderful in ordinary moments, and sharing those moments and inspirational stories with each other. It has been so healing for me to see what brings happiness to other people, to hear others stories of heartbreak and see how they have found beauty in the midst of their heartache.

Life is not at all what I imagined it would be like right now. But I do know one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt, God knew that this was the path life would bring myself and my family down, and he didn’t abandon us here to fend for ourselves. He brought us here because his purpose is greater than ours and my deepest hope is that our struggle can encourage and inspire others. Other mamas who aren’t able to do as much as they think they ‘should’, other families going through illness and feeling like it will never end, people who just need to know that no matter where they are in life, that God has not forgotten them and that there will be beauty from pain. If our story brings even one person closer to Jesus, then I consider every tear worth it.

It’s late. Ezra is in bed next to me, waking up every few minutes with a coughing fit. I’m exhausted in every way, but when I remind myself to take the time to find the beauty in this moment, my stress fades and all I notice is my baby boy’s tiny fingers reaching out for mine, and the way his little body tucks up against mine perfectly and the rhythmic song of his snore. I notice these things and I tuck them away to cherish forever, and i’ll take them out and cry happy tears as I remember them long after he’s holding another girl’s hand.

These tiny fleeting moments, that so many of us miss because we don’t take the time to notice them, are so very precious. Take time today, no matter how difficult things might seem, to look for the beauty and tuck it away to hold on to forever.

I promise you will not regret it.