"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

29 July 2011

An angel must have heard me...

Okay, so I don't really believe that, but it's a cute thought. :~)

Anyway, earlier this week, I was catching up on writing in Brennan's journal and at the end, I said something along the lines of, "You're such a terrific baby in every way, and if there was just one thing I would ask, it's that you sleep better." Well, wouldn't you know it? As of that night, he has been waking up just once - that's right, ONCE - during the night. His bedtime routine also has shortened considerably in length. Before, we'd give him his bath, put him in his night-time diaper and pjs, read 2-3 books, and sing and bounce, sing and bounce, sing and bounce. This could go on for at least 20 minutes. Now, we give him a bath, put him in his pjs, read the books, and sing a couple songs, and he conks right out.

He has also started falling asleep on his own for naps. All I have to do is look for his sleepy signs (which I did before, so that hasn't changed), put him in his crib, give him his pacifier and teddy bear, and tuck him in.

I thought maybe it was a fluke, but he has done this consistently for four days now. And even if this is just a "phase," I sure am glad for it. If I were smarter, I would be getting more rest, too, but:

1. I stayed up WAY too late on the first two nights because I "just knew" he was going to wake up just as I headed to bed so I "might as well stay up." He didn't, and I felt kind of dumb the next morning.

2. Too many thoughts have been going through my head, unrelated thoughts. About multicultural marriages. About where Brennan will go to school. About what musical instrument I want him to play. About whether or not I'll ever get to have a career in an environment I want to teach in. About whether or not I'm meeting Nich's needs and blessing him every day as his wife.

I guess this is what happens when a multi-tasking, hyper-organized, likes-to-stay-busy woman becomes a stay-at-home mom. All that frenzy is stuck in my head now, because being a mom forces me to slow down in actual life. I find myself listing to Nich all the things I accomplished throughout the day when he comes home, as if I need to validate my status as a stay-at-home mom, as though the inner performer in me is saying, "See, see? I DO a lot of work!" It's funny and weird and I really shouldn't need to do that.

But that's just me.

However, I have been making a point to write almost every day, whether it's here, in my journal, or in Brennan's journal. I also try to read my Bible every day (the reading it through in a year plan went out the window last month), and since we started making a ritual of going to the farmer's market and the library every Saturday morning, I've been reading two books a week, too. This is how I maintain sanity, through words, lots and lots of words.

25 July 2011


I'm still going through this bout of sad loneliness, but the sun is shining cheerily this morning. I got up to let it in through the bedroom windows and then crawled back into bed, soaking in the warmth and light, reading my book, and listening to Nich's shower.

He came after he got dressed for work and nuzzled me with kisses before he left. Then he backed his car up just because, somehow, he knew I would be waiting at the bedroom windows for one last wave goodbye for the day.

The best miracle of it all is that Brennan is still fast asleep in his room, and it's nearly 8:00. I almost hesitate writing that down for fear I will jinx it all, and he won't ever do it again, or worse, wake up before I brush my teeth.

These are the sort of things I appreciate these days. Waking up and lying in bed - on my back - with no baby next to me. Brushing my teeth, putting up my hair, getting dressed in blissful silence. In those moments, I almost wonder if I resent motherhood, but then I tiptoe into the nursery and peer over the side of the crib at my sleeping boy and I fall in love all over again.

I read this from Song of Solomon (2:11-13) this morning: "See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance." This is the nugget of hope from God for me this Monday morning.

23 July 2011


Have you ever felt like you were so unsafe with the majority of a group of people that you couldn't really be yourself? That you couldn't share your thoughts, feelings, insights, opinions, and interests because you would be condemned, judged, despised, passively rejected for them? That you are so "odd" that even after a long, long time, you still just don't quite fit?

This is how we feel after five years.

Nich and I had a hard conversation tonight about our hearts' desires and needs. As we talked, I came to the realization that I have no - I'm not exaggerating here - friends through our church with whom I feel completely safe being me.

Not only that, I don't know anyone I can call up and say, "Hey, did you hear what happened in Norway? Isn't that awful? Can we pray for the country?" I don't know anyone who would be aware of anything going on outside of this nation's borders and really care.

I hurt thinking of this.

And I want to be a part of a body of Christ that is safe for us ... even though we don't look like everyone else, even though we come from completely different places and cultures, even though we may think differently ... I want to be loved, accepted, and valued as a part of God's family.

Never before in my life have I had such a hard time finding friends. Some days, I'm so lonely, I just cry out to God for just one friend. I'm starting to feel like He's not hearing me; maybe I'm not hearing Him?

We ask for prayer, for discernment, for wisdom. Neither Nich nor I have been advocates of the church-hopping mentality, but I'm getting desperate for friendship.

22 July 2011


There's nothing like the cruelty of someone who doesn't know who you really are to make you yearn for the companionship of your close friends.

It was a rough night. I'm still reeling a little bit from all the name-calling and accusations, but it's a new day. God knows who I am and what my heart looks like. My husband adores me, my baby is safe, happy and healthy, and I have wonderful friends and family in my life.

I will hold on to those truths and try to shake off the lies.

Oh, for the friendship of like-minded people! I'm trying, trying, trying to be content where God has us right now, but I just yearn for friends whose world-view isn't limited to ... this.

14 July 2011

Surrendering the "Good" Things

I'm not done reading yet (a few more pages to go!), but I know what I want to post about this week.

"Is there some part of your life which you are refusing to surrender at his behest, some sinful passion, maybe, or some animosity, some hope, perhaps your ambition or your reason?" (67)

This line stopped me in my tracks this morning. Don't get all excited; I don't have some huge sin to confess. :~) Actually, it's quite the opposite. Those of you who have known me for a while know that one of my biggest dreams is to teach third culture kids in an international school in a developing nation, possibly with missions. Because I grew up in such an environment, I feel like I can relate to those students in ways that many adults cannot. On a more selfish note, I want my kids to know that life. I want them to grow up in that domain, where simplicity is acceptable, where childhood lasts a little bit longer, where innocence is preserved, and where making the right choices isn't always uncool.

Obviously, the Lord hasn't taken us there yet. And as hard as it is for me to write these words, maybe He never will. I have a really, really hard time accepting that. In fact, when I think about that being the truth, I actually start tearing up.

Recently, one of my friends wrote this in her family's prayer letter: "We are learning to put down roots where we are while still keeping our eyes on the goal of overseas." She is a French teacher, her husband is a pilot, and they have two small children. They are in Seattle, working with Moody and Wycliffe, preparing to return (eventually) to Africa, where they both grew up. I've taken these words to heart. They're even written on my kitchen whiteboard, where we keep our special prayer requests for family and friends (so we'll see them every day). Not once have I considered that maybe it isn't God's plan for me, for our family, to live overseas.

When I read Bonhoeffer's words this morning, though, I was hit with the thought that even dreams need to be surrendered. I asked myself, "Am I refusing to give up my dreams in exchange for the unknown that He has for me?" Frankly, the answer is yes. I've always been of the persuasion that God puts dreams, ambitions, and passions in our hearts for a reason. When the subbing life got unbearable, on those days when I'd come home and cry, my hopeful reminder to myself was that this was not what God had prepared me for, that my "real" teaching career was yet to come.

I don't know that it isn't in God's plan to send us overseas, but I don't know that it IS, either. I guess the key is in contentment with where He has us in the present and trust for where He will take us in the future. It's a bitter pill for me to swallow, but I know I have to give it up to Him.


13 July 2011

COD Reflections: Part 1

A group of friends, Nich, and I are reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship together with the intent of posting once a week on our reading. I like this sort of communal reading, and although we all live in different places, most of those participating used to be in a Bible study together, so we have a sense of intimacy there already. This is reminiscent of literature circles, and in a way, I like that we are posting our thoughts instead of gathering to talk. I'm hoping that the posts will be more intentional and reflective than mere speaking would be.

I've been reflecting on lukewarm faith and living passionately for God. Part of this stemmed from Pastor Steve's sermon this past week, but also from an Elderedge quote someone posted yesterday about really hungering and thirsting after God. It reminded me of the lyrics to Chris Tomlin's song: "Give me one pure and holy passion. Give me one magnificent obsession. Give me one glorious ambition for my life, to know and to follow hard after You."

In a way, I feel like I am more able to be passionate for God now as a mom. Motherhood has given me a singular focus that I have never had before in my life. It's not challenging to my spirit the way an external job could be (i.e. subbing), but somehow, it is easier to remember that this, this raising up of a child of God, brings glory to my Abba.

As I read through "Memoir" (side note: found the title to be bothersome, as it's more of a biography), I underlined this: "... it was not enough to follow Christ by preaching, teaching, and writing. No, he was in deadly earnest when he called for Christian action and self-sacrifice" (23). I relate to this on a relatively (compared to what Bonhoeffer was encouraging) microscopic level. This new season of my life, as a mom to a little one, calls me to self-sacrifice in a way I've never experienced before. It's hard to give up/take a backseat on leadership roles (community groups, 20Somethings), to cease "teaching" (through subbing, Bible studies), and especially to give up precious writing time for me. Each morning, as I plan out the day, I have ensure that Brennan gets fed enough, plays enough, rests enough, and stays clean enough in the midst of the rest of daily life. Sometimes (and for this extrovert, this is most difficult when friends make plans for evening/night time events), I have to say no to things I really want to do, because it would be better for Brennan. At the end of the day, though, when I'm cuddling with my baby, I know it's all worth it.

I think that's how we're supposed to feel about God, too. That even when we're giving things up for Him, even when it's inconvenient, even when it's downright HARD, we know that it's worth it.

In "Memoir," Bonhoeffer is quoted as saying, from prison a few months before his death, "It all depends on whether or not the fragment of our life reveals the plan and material of the whole. There are fragments which are only good to be thrown away, and others which are important for centuries to come because their fulfillment can only be divine work. They are fragments of necessity. If our life, however remotely, reflects such a fragment ... we shall not have to bewail our fragmentary life, but, on the contrary, rejoice in it" (33). Pastor Steve reminded us on Sunday that we are not promised even one more day on this earth. I want each day that I am given to count for eternity, and for me right now, that's investing in my baby throughout the day. I just finished reading Genesis again, and the effect of one man's faithfulness (Abraham) on the generations after him was impressed upon me. I want to have that kind of joyful faith, that kind of trusting hope in God, so that my children can't help but love Jesus.

This is hardest when others "get in the way." :~) On Sunday, Nich and I were faced with a circumstance where our "Papa and Mama Bear" instincts kicked into high gear. Thankfully, over the years, I have slowly been learning to keep my mouth shut when I'm that angry, but as Nich and I talked and prayed through the situation that night as we went to bed, I found that my heart really didn't WANT to forgive the offending party. We asked for forgiving hearts. Bonhoeffer summed it up pretty well at the end of the "Introduction": "May God grant us JOY as we strive earnestly to follow the way of discipleship. May we be enabled to say 'No' to sin and 'Yes' to the sinner. May we withstand our foes, and yet hold out to them the Word of the gospel which woos and wins the souls of men" (emphasis mine).

06 July 2011


We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

03 July 2011

Are You Alive In There?

Much of my thought life in the past four months has been consumed with Brennan's sleep patterns. I suppose this is the life of any mother whose child isn't one of those champion snoozers.

Starting the week before our move, Brennan started waking up every couple hours at night and would not go back to sleep without nursing. Eventually, I got to the point where I was so tired in the middle of the night that I would just keep him in bed with me instead of putting him back on his own little palette on the floor (because we'd already packed up the crib and his pack and play).

Let me just say, in retrospect:



a bad,


bad idea.

It led to poor sleeping habits, but again, I was exhausted from the constant awakening.

After we settled in a bit here at our new home, I decided that this just could not continue. Nich and I were perpetually tired, and although I am able to function remarkably well on little sleep, Nich was having to consume copious amounts of caffeine in order to feel alert at work. After discussing with Nich what we were and weren't okay with (such as letting Brennan cry himself to sleep - not okay with us), I began researching various books and sleeping aids online. I settled on Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution (and can I just say that I love Amazon Mom and the Amazon Prime shipping privileges that come with it?). The book arrived, I read it cover to cover in two days, made up our bedtime routine, and began implementing it.

I won't stay that it was an immediate, miraculous change, and we've had to adjust the routine (eliminating elements that didn't work, keeping what did), but what a difference from that first 24-hour period where I had to log Brennan's sleeping as we began the Pantley method. I didn't realize quite how little he was sleeping throughout a 24-hour period until I looked at the log. Overnight, he was really only sleeping about six hours, and then he would only take 3 45 minutes to hour-and-a-half-long naps during the day. Definitely not enough sleep for a little guy!

Now, four weeks later, he's doing so much better. The book recommends doing the sleep log every 10 days to encourage yourself, but we began seeing results within a few days so I didn't feel I really needed the extra motivation. We hit a couple bumps in the road (when we derailed from the bedtime routine), but now that we've seen the importance of keeping said routine, we're all much better rested.

Last night, Brennan slept six hours straight, woke up to marathon-nurse, and slept another four hours. He woke up for the day at 6 (at which point I was happy to wake up with him, since I was well-rested as well), nursed and played, and went down for another nap at 8:45. It is currently 11:12 and he is still fast asleep.

When he was little (ha, ha), I would peer over the side of his pack and play bassinet in our room at night to make sure he was still breathing, because all the ominous warnings about SIDS and suffocation from the hospital were fresh in my mind. This morning, I found myself going into the nursery to stare at his belly to make sure he was breathing.

I never thought "Are you alive in there?" would be a good question to ask about your baby, but in a way, it really, really is.