Friday, May 13, 2016

L's Goodbye

Dear Turtle,

Today you moved to your new home, and the void you’ve left behind is cavernous. The last few weeks we’ve been preparing to hand you gently off to your next family, and, if I'm being honest, I’ve let it distract me from this day. The day you’re gone and all the preparations are done and your crib is empty and you won’t wear those clothes anymore.

You filled a perfect little hole in our family, and we adored having you here. In the most secret places of my heart,  I prayed you would stay in that place forever. But God decided to move you on, and we’re choosing to trust in the goodness and rightness of His plan. Now, instead of your little person filling that space in our home, it’s brimming over with memories and joy and the honor of being the first ones to care for you.

And what an honor it was.

There is some grief here, but I would do these last 5 months over again in a heartbeat. I am humbled to my knees that mine was the hand that soothed you for the first 5 months of your precious little life. I got to pack you up in the hospital, dressing you in your first outfit, and bring you into my home.  I got to be the one to wake with you in the wee hours and feed you and rock you when you were only days old. I held you when you cried during your first rounds of shots. I sat in the ER with you when you couldn’t breathe. I know what toys you like and where you like to sit. I  know your laugh and what your cries mean. My hand has stroked your head and subdued your tears. Mine is the voice you've turned to in expectation of affection. My mama heart will never stop loving you.

What an incredible, undeserved privilege.

But there is a new mama who has been waiting for you, and she is so excited. She can’t wait to wake with you in the wee hours (although I’m guessing she’s glad you don’t wake up much at night anymore). She can’t wait to know your laugh and what your cries mean. She can’t wait to stroke your head and subdue your tears. She can’t wait for her voice to be the one you turn to in expectation of affection. She will love you so well, Little Turtle. She has waited and prayed and prepared, and she will be such a good mama to you.

And there are little people who have anxiously awaited your arrival too.

Big brother is not much bigger than you, and he’ll probably be jealous for a while. He’ll steal your pacifier and demand attention from your new mama when she’s feeding you. He’ll want to share your new play mat, and he’ll probably try to crawl into your crib. But once he gets used to you, you will be such great friends. Hopefully the best of friends as you face whatever life throws at you. Together.

And big sister has been so anxious for this day. She is overjoyed that she finally gets to share a home with you after all these long months. I can already see her curious, big eyes peeking through the slats of your crib, watching in wonder as you breathe  slow slumber. She will help take wonderful care of you. She'll speak sweetly to you and hold you close when you cry. She'll light up when you let go your raspy laughter. She will show you all her artwork and all her pretty dresses. She deserves to watch you grow up, and now she gets to. I'm so glad for you both.

This new home is where you should be, Turtle. As much as we loved you here, your place is there. It’s the best place for you. We will miss you so much. But don’t worry. We will be ok, because we know that you are exactly where you need to be. And any grief we might feel is brilliantly eclipsed by the joy we feel for you and your siblings and your new mama and daddy.

So, thank you, Turtle. Thank you for sharing our home. Thank you for invading and changing our hearts. Thank you for the opportunity to love and serve you. Thank you for growing our faith and trust in our mighty Father. You are already a world-changer, even at 5 months old.

You are forever imprinted on our hearts and we will love you for always. Be brave, little bear. This crazy, beautiful life is just beginning.


Mama Erika

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

If you meet me, you'll find out pretty quickly that I am Type A. I love to be organized. I loathe inefficiency and clutter. Administration is my spiritual gift.

So being a mom doesn't always mesh well with my personality type. I had to quickly choose between lightening up or being an organization dictator, and I chose the former. The dictator thing wasn't good for my blood pressure.

Kids are messy, and then they start school. And they start bringing home papers.

So. Many. Papers.

And my oldest wants to keep all the papers. I'm not kidding when I say she would keep every single scrap of paper that she has ever come in contact with if it was up to her. She would also display them prominently throughout the house.

Now, listen. I love my kids. And I love to display their work. But there comes a point where I run out of lightening up-ness and also wall space. We've had to designate some areas where their favorite projects are hung and it seems to be a compromise that works for everyone.

So the other day when Addison hollered from another room, "Mom, I made a Valentine's decoration. Can we hang it on the wall?" I started reorganizing that space in my head, trying to figure out where we could put her latest work of art.

Then she came into the room where I was. She held up her work--a string of red hearts cut out of a single piece of paper--and she was so proud. It was the first time I'd let her use "big girl" scissors all by herself and she had meticulously drawn and cut out her hearts in the hopes that she could help decorate our home. By God's sweet mercy, I was able to respond with grace and affirmation.

"I love it, B," I said. "And I would love to hang it on the wall.  We can put it anywhere you want. It will be a perfect Valentine's decoration."

She beamed.

And she picked the spot that's the first thing you see when you enter our house.

The simple acts of acknowledging her hard work and inviting her to help create beauty in our home seemed to give her a sense of pride and belonging. I loved doing that for my girl. And I love that God has brought me to a place where I can do that. Where I don't have to have things my way. Where I don't let my selfishness and sinful need to control force my kids' creativity into "designated areas." Where a little clutter and some mismatchy decorations are worth the Kingdom love it allows me to sow in their hearts.

I can do this because this is what God does for us. He acknowledges our hard work. He invites us to help create beauty in His world. As a mom, this is incredibly encouraging. Often the beauty we create is in the hearts of our littles, behind closed doors where no one sees us. No one sees us doing our best. No one sees us meticulously working away, shaping the hearts of these small people in our care. No one sees the moments where our kids get it right and we're beaming with pride. But He does. He sees. And I think He is so proud of us.

So when I am able to respond to my kids with grace--when I can affirm and acknowledge them--it's only because I've had a phenomenal example. I've been watching my Father.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let's Try This Again

So, I'm desperate to write again.

Like desperate desperate.

Like feel it in my bones, stay awake at night, ideas always swirling in my head, ready to explode if I don't do something besides make oatmeal and do laundry and change diapers desperate.

After some recent encouragement from some surprising places, I think I might be ready to dive back in. But for some reason, I feel nervous. I try thinking of the logistics of actually sitting down to write. Even now, between that last sentence and this, I had to take a 20 minute break to do all of the above mentioned activities. But I have to figure it out because I've made excuses for too long.

So I'm putting it out there. I'm not going to tell anyone I wrote this post because it's really more for me than them. But part of me feels like if I can get my intentions out into the universe then that will help. I've done the same before.

Maybe this time it will stick.

Monday, February 21, 2011

20 Weeks

So much for that update every week idea. Ah well.

As of yesterday, I am officially half way through my pregnancy. I can honestly say that I feel like it is flying by! And being able to say that makes me smile at God and His ability to make me forget how torturous the first few months were. During those days, where each movement produced an involuntary moan or pathetic whimper, I was convinced that I would never feel healthy again. That I was doomed to a life of constant nausea and mornings spent hanging my head over the toilet.

Yet, here I am, only a few weeks out of the sick stage and, lo, it is but a distant memory. Granted, heartburn has taken nausea’s place with a fierce dedication to my misery. Yet heartburn is but a shadow of a foe compared to that constant first trimester sickness.

I’ve been able to feel the baby moving since about 15 or 16 weeks, starting with that butterflies-in-your-stomach flutter and getting stronger all the time. It awes me every time he/she moves. Last night Adam got to feel him/her for the first time too. I love that part, where it all becomes real for him too.

Now I’m in the thick of my second trimester and I’m truly enjoying being pregnant. Really! And before you start throwing things at me, let me just say that I HATED being pregnant the first time around. Despised every minute of it. And I hated women who didn’t hate being pregnant. Women who were all, “Isn’t pregnancy simply delightful?” and, “Oh, I could just be pregnant forever!” and “Would you like to skip through a flower laden meadow with me and do a Pregnancy Celebration dance and make a circle of dandelions to wrap around my bulbous midsection?”

Those women made me want to boo and hiss and say nasty things about their swollen ankles.

This pregnancy, however, I determined beforehand to savor the time that God and I spent together, growing this little person. No, I didn’t expect to actually enjoy being sick and having heartburn and being sore as my body stretched to inhuman proportions. But I was so set on hating pregnancy last time that I forgot the wonder of it. I didn’t want to make that mistake again.

So now I’m 20 weeks along and I haven’t wasted (quite as much) time on being miserable. Instead, I’ve focused on the marvel of what is going on. And, oh, how I’ve marveled. I’ve marveled at God and His creativity. I’ve marveled at the ability He’s given me to carry and nurture a life into being. I’ve marveled at the curiosity of my twins as they begin to grasp the coming addition to our family.

No, I do NOT enjoy puking. Or feeling like my esophagus is aflame. Or having my legs buckle every time I stand up because my back muscles take a few seconds to kick it into gear. But those things fade in comparison to the awe. And the awe makes everything else worth it.

Look at me, deciding to change my mindset and actually doing it. It’s almost like I’m a real live grownup.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

9 Weeks

It's been one year, almost to the day, since I've blogged a thing. That's crazy! I guess I'll attribute that to a year of raising preschoolers, working part time, trying to run a business, leading a small group, volunteering at church, trying to cling to sanity, etc, etc.

For the last few weeks I've been wanting to hop back in to bloggy land. And I've had high hopes of coming up with some sort of a weekly blog, chronicling the journey of this pregnancy. I'm 9 weeks, so that obviously hasn't happened. But now's as good a time as ever to start, and we'll see if I can keep it up.

Adam and I started "trying" in August. That's always been a funny term to me - "trying" - because it's such a nice way of saying what's actually going on. Anyway, this was a year after our original plan of having a third child because we sort of chickened out last year. It only took us about 2 months to get pregnant, but for some reason those 2 months were torture for me. Each time it became obvious I wasn't pregnant I freaked and was was sure God wasn't going to allow me to have any more children. Somewhere in my crazy, self-critical mom mind I had convinced myself that I was doing a terrible job with my twins and God wasn't going to subject any more kids to my care. Silly, I know. I have no idea how people go through the "trying" period for very long. Those very short 2 months which felt like an eternity to me gave me a much deeper level of compassion and empathy for families that try and try for children. I finally had to come to a place where I was completely satisfied with my family and I realized that, even if God chose not to give me any more kids, He had already blessed me beyond belief with the kids I have. And, no, I'm not saying this is the magic tool to get pregnant. I hate when people say stuff like that. Things like, "You won't find a husband until you're completely content in your relationship with Christ." Because, honestly, some of the most content-in-their-relationship-with-God women I know are still single for whatever reason. Who knows why God does what He does?

Ok, enough of that rant. Since I haven't really done a week by week blog thus far, here's a little catch up...

Week 4 - Two pink lines!!! I'm pregnant!

Week 5 - The nausea sets in. Not horrible, just a little in the morning and usually feeling better by the afternoon.

Week 6-8 - The nausea! OH THE NAUSEA!!! It was debilitating and I sort of had to check out of life for a while.

Week 9 - I had my first doctor appointment and, hallelujah, there's only one baby in there. My doctor always does an ultrasound at the first appointment to verify due date and, for me, to see how large our family will be after this pregnancy is over. There is something absolutely breathtaking about seeing that precious little blob of a person, with its tiny heart beating and fluttering like dragonfly wings. At our ultrasound he or she was wiggling around and moving its arms and legs all over the place. At one point, we could even distinguish 5 little fingers. I'm still feeling sick, but I'm slowly reentering society, which has been nice.

So that's where I am at this point, and hopefully I'll be able to keep up a little bit a routine with this blogging thing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


My dear friend Sarah is holding a cookie exchange today and I thought I'd participate. It's a great way to get a lot of fun cookie recipes without coming home with 74 dozen cookies that will all end up in your thighs. So here's my recipe for Magic Cookie Bars. Super simple and super delicious!
Magic Cookie Bars:
1 can Eagle brand condensed milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chopped nuts (I prefer walnuts)
1 cup (6 oz pkg) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut
Pour melted buter in a 13x9x2 in. pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over bottom of pan.
Sprinkle chopped nuts over crumbs.
Sprinkle chocolate chips over nuts.
Sprinkle coconut over chocolate chips.
Pour milk evenly over coconut.
Bake at 350 for approx. 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and cut into bars.
Makes 2 dozen 3" x 1 1/2" bars.
(I've also tasted this recipe with butterscotch chips and different kinds of nuts added. It's an easy recipe to play with.) Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


When I was little, much to my mother’s chagrin, I loved forts. Once every few weeks I would build one in my room, gathering every spare sheet, blanket, and pillow that we owned. Then I ‘d crawl inside and make a little home for myself. All the things I loved lived there with me. My favorite books. My most beautiful dolls. My best stuffed animals. I would leave my fort up for days.

I loved the feeling of safety that my forts afforded, the sense that no one could see me or touch me. I loved that there were walls and a roof and they were so close that I could touch them, make sure they were intact.

Lately God has been revealing something to me. My fort building ways didn’t stop just because I grew up. I still build forts. In fact, I’ve become quite the expert. Only, now, I build them around my heart. And they are made of concrete.

Somewhere along the way, I believed the lie that I am too much to handle, that if people really knew me, they’d run away. Shrieking. If you know me, you have seen this evidenced in my propensity to apologize about everything—like I’m trying to apologize away my very existence—and in my tendency to keep people at arm’s length when it comes to any depth of relationship. Because, I figure, if I don’t let you in, then you can’t hurt the things I care about most. You can’t tear my favorite books or steal my most beautiful dolls.

It’s not such a happy way to live.

And so, in recent weeks, I’ve been working up the nerve to pick up the proverbial sledge hammer that God laid at my feet quite some time ago and start swinging away at those steel reinforced concrete walls. That’s one thing I love about God—He gives us the tools, but He never forces us to use them, only invites.

I have to admit, I’m a little bit terrified—even writing this has been hard. I actually started this particular blog entry weeks ago, I guess as a way to stick my head out of the fort and test the weather. And ya’ll…it’s been a hailstorm ever since. Enough to make me duck back inside for a couple weeks. But I don’t want to stay inside anymore, because while I’m protected from the storms, I also miss the sun.

And so. Here’s to the first swing of the hammer.