The kitchen counter.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dear Liam,

These photos were taken a couple months ago, but I love what they represent: our every morning together.

You: Sitting on your knees at the counter, chatting a mile a minute, negotiating our plans for the day. You flash those dimples and can suddenly convince me of just about anything. A trip to Target to buy (another) Hot Wheels car? You got it. Make cookies at 8:30am? Well, ok.

Me: Brewing tea, listening for Lanie, and trying to keep up with your vivacity. Oh, and falling a little more in love with you.

I hope we have a kitchen counter in every home we ever live in together. And I hope one of the stools is always kept warm by you.


When you're feeling forgotten.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Here in Raleigh, I'm lucky to have a few friends who gave birth to babies around the time that Lanie was born. One friend even had a baby within 24 hours of Lanie's birth, just down the hall. It's been precious to be surrounded by many new mommies who are just a text away, day or night. In the early days after we got home from the hospital, we'd text encouragement to each other through long nights, breastfeeding woes, and sleeplessness. That connection was the thread that kept me going through many difficult nights. Knowing someone just across town was also sore and recovering, bleary-eyed, and soaking up the newborn days as best as one can... it was a comfort. It felt like a small slice of community in an otherwise isolating season of being sequestered at home with a tiny babe during flu season.

Fast forward 3 months. Lanie's baby buddies seemed to be leaving her behind in one glaring area: sleep. Because of issues related to her tongue tie, she was only sleeping for 2-hour increments. So when I heard updates from my friends that their babies had begun to sleep through the night, to eat on a schedule, and to be somewhat manageable as far as babies go, I wanted to be so thrilled for them. I wanted to say, "That is so wonderful!" without a blip of jealousy in my heart. Instead, I sulked. I felt isolated, forgotten, even bitter at times.

For months too long, I allowed Self Pity to befriend me. She lurked in the shadows, poised to whisper lies when I trudged down the hall for the fifth time in one night to scoop up a screaming baby. She was there at the messy lunch table while I sat alone, discouraged from a never-ending morning of cleaning up leaky sippy cups and shouldering the wearisome monotony of the day. Self Pity was quick to agree with me that what I had wasn't enough, that I worked too hard, and that I didn't get nearly enough credit for my efforts. She commiserated with me as I scanned social media to see sunny vacations and smiling children that felt so far from my reach. I let her keep me company for far too long. I welcomed her seductive, sorry presence. It's as if I believed the same lie that Eve believed in the Garden: that God was holding out on me. Thing could've been so much better, and He was withholding goodness from me.

But here's the thing... even as I've moved out of the sleepless season, it's still so easy to fall back into sulking. Easy to say, "I can't believe I just worked 10 hours at the hospital and now I have to get up with babies in 6 hours. It isn't fair." Easy to compare myself to so-and-so who surely gets 8 hours of sleep every night and has plenty of time for her morning devotions.

This kind of thinking is so isolating. Aren't we all dealing with something that can isolate us or pull us into the shadows of self pity if we let it? Maybe it isn't a difficult baby. Perhaps it's singleness. Maybe it feels like all of your friends have walked down the aisle and you've been left behind. Maybe you've been trying for a baby for years and keep hearing the news that another friend just accidentally got pregnant. You feel isolated. You feel forgotten.

One thing I've learned over the years of walking with Jesus is that He doesn't promise specific things like a marriage or a baby or the career you've always wanted. He doesn't promise me that I'll get more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep in the foreseeable future. He doesn't even promise comfort. Or happiness.

What He promises is His presence. He promises His peace.

In Psalm 32:8, He says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."

Did you catch that last part? It's like honey to me: With my eye upon you. He doesn't treat us as one big lump of humanity. He looks at you, sister. He looks at me. He knows our vulnerabilities, our temptations, our desires. He chooses to know your inmost being.

Can you imagine walking into a counselor's office and, without even telling the her what you were there to talk about, she just starts doling out advice? It would be absurd. God doesn't do that either. He isn't a removed, untouchable Being in the sky who makes rules and then leaves us to figure the rest out. Look at that one tiny verse in the psalms. He will counsel you with His eye upon you. Does that make you feel loved? Known?

I don't know who this post is for, but you, friend, are not forgotten. Not forsaken. Not alone. If you believe in Christ Jesus, you have Him. And in Him, you have more than everything you need.

I'm tired of the isolation. Of the self pity. Of course, I'm tired in general right now - but I'm choosing to acknowledge His sweet presence today.

Our mini-vacay to Wilmington.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On the porch of our little cottage for the week
Strolling through dreamy Southport, NC
On the beach at Oak Island

I probably set my hopes a little too high for our first ever family vacation. Because of our crazy schedules these days, it's rare that Shawn and I have one day a week that neither of us has to work, much less 5 days in a row. So we booked a lovely little bungalow in downtown Wilmington on Airbnb. It's only supposed to be a 2.5-hour driving trip, but 15 miles from our destination, our car overheated (the first time it's ever done that, of course), so our 2.5 hours became 6. That really doesn't sound so bad in hindsight, but with two nap-less kids and melting breastmilk in the back of your car, it feels pretty terrible. When we finally made it, we were sweaty, bedraggled, and exhausted. (Thanks to the mini-fridge in the mechanic's garage, the breastmilk survived.) I was begging for us to just turn around and go home. 

Thankfully, my much more level-headed other half said that no, we'd be staying and making the most of it. I'm so glad we did. The days were long and tiring - as all days are with a two-year-old and a 7-month-old - but we got some much needed time together that wouldn't have happened had we stayed at home and stuck to our normal routine. By the end, Shawn told me, "I think their love tanks are full." I totally agreed. 

Our last day there was by far our best: a trip to Southport, NC and then to Oak Island to meet up with some friends. We'd heard about Southport from friends but knew nothing about it until we rode the ferry just before sunset (so beautiful!) and drove into town. We immediately recognized it from seeing Safe Haven a few years ago... the movie was filmed there. And it's every bit as charming as it was in the movie. Liam learned to love the ocean at Oak Island, which we'll never forget. He had been so timid around the waves until he saw his little buddies from Raleigh jumping right in, and he finally got in and loved it. I've rarely seen him so delighted. 

We also loved Betsy's Crepes in downtown Wilmington enough to eat there twice in two days. (Hello, gluten-free crepes!)

The aquarium at Fort Fisher was also wonderful... Liam even got to touch a starfish and feed a horseshoe crab. 

Now we can't wait to explore it more. Being just two hours from the ocean is a pretty big perk of living in Raleigh.

6 months with Lane Eliette.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My little Lou (it's just about your only name around here),

You're well into your seventh month by the time I post this, but I still want to celebrate 6-month-old you. On your six month birthday, you decided it was the right time to start crawling. So you did. You'd been pushing up and rocking for weeks, but finally put one chubby hand in front of the other and crawled across Liam's carpet to a lamp cord (of course). And I smiled with tears in the corners of my eyes because a) I was so crazy proud of you and b) you spent so little time being a baby. 

You're the most joyful little girl I've ever met. You wake up in the morning and light up every room with your gorgeous smile and, lots of times, you're smiling even when no one's looking your way. After your first few horribly difficult months, this new Lanie is so surprising and delightful. And now, it's the only way I know you to be.

Some days, I want to tell you to slow down. To let me rock you. To sit still for just three seconds. But that wouldn't be true to who you are. I can already tell you're eager to explore the world around you. To create and learn and experience and be right in the middle of it all. What a privilege to get a front row seat to such a courageous spirit bundled up in one beautiful little girl.

I love you deeply,
Your mom

Free printable: Watercolor peonies.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

During Lanie's morning nap, Liam and I have some rare one-on-one time that I try to spend intentionally. Some days, it's the only time I have to shower before work and Liam ends up playing with his trains. But on other days, we do little projects together. When I tell him, "I have an idea," his face lights up and he asks, "What are mine options?" Recently, we've been watercoloring. It's easy setup and cleanup, and both of us have fun. We share the same tray of nothing-special-paints and brushes, but the time we spend creating side by side is just magic. The other day, Liam painted a dinosaur (can you see it?) and I dabbled with some abstract peonies.
It is so tempting for me to keep meddling with a painting, but this time, I kept it stark and simple and let the unpredictable bleed of the vibrant colors do all the work. The whole painting took less than five minutes, and I think if I would've added more time and thought to it, I wouldn't have liked it as much. I scanned it today in hopes of enlarging it for Lanie's room, and thought a few of you might want a copy, too. If you do, just click on the photo above and it should direct you to a size that's big enough to download and print as an 8"x10" piece to frame. To make it even more realistic, trim a piece of watercolor paper to fit your printer and print on the watercolor paper itself. It'll look like it just came off the drying rack.  
PS - Print or gift as many copies as you'd like. It's here for the taking. Just don't sell it (does that even need to be said?). Thanks friends.
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