Friday, August 10, 2018

I will remember

I lost a cousin who was very dear to me Sunday night. We were the very best of friends and then we slowly drifted apart. There was a bit of a yo-yo affect where we’d talk all the time and then just through social media and the occasional text, then all the time, then just a little. We were in a period of talking very little and I did nothing to reach out and pull her back in because, after all, this was just our pattern. We had separate lives thousands of miles apart and we both were busy with three and four children. I would occasionally lament this to Ryan and we’d both always agree that we were both busy and that we’d come back together soon enough.
Except that we were wrong. She is gone now and on top of grieving the loss of the time I will never have in the future, I’m also deeply grieving the loss of the time we could easily have had if I had made more of an effort, had held on tighter and reached out further.
The past few days have been excruciating, infuriating, and shockingly numbing. In the midst of that I find myself feeling tender and loving and endeared to my adorable children, even smiling and laughing at their isms and antics. I am on the world’s worst roller coaster and I just can’t seem to get off it.

Ryan’s cousin texted me this morning and when I shared my heart, she reminded me to filter my thoughts through Philippians 4:8. It was powerfully transforming because I realized I was doing exactly none of that and was mostly just focusing on things I wished I’d said, (and, naturally, things I wished I hadn’t), phone calls I wished I’d made, visits I wished I’d saved up for. I was remembering an awful lot of the dumb things I said when I was 17, 18, 19 (and knew everything), or even 20, 21, 22 (and now knew everything). I was remembering things I said simply about myself that I was suddenly worried may have alienated her without my realizing it, basically thinking myself into a very deep pit where every single thing I ever said (or didn’t) and did (or didn’t) was being overanalyzed and making me sick to my stomach.
But that is not what Philippians 4:8 would have me do. So now I am focusing on the good. I am focusing not on the things I’m suddenly perceiving, but instead on what I know to be true. I’m focusing on what is lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy. These are the things I will remember.

I will remember her sweetness and sass, that perfectly God-balanced combination that made her pull over to help a woman with a smoking radiator, and then whip out a hilariously witty retort minutes later.

I will remember the way she cooed at her babies when they were placed on her chest for the first time, on the precious and beautiful gift she gave me in allowing me to witness two of their entrances to the world.

I will remember her love for music. Listening to music, making music, sharing music.

I will remember her smile, her laugh, and the delight in her eyes when she looked at or talked about her children.

I will remember her Skyping me while she drove, me saying again and again, “Are you sure you don’t want to call me when you get home? Focus on the road?” and her saying, “Seriously, it’s fine.”

I will remember picking up right where we left off every time life and time let us drift apart.

I will remember baring my soul to her and being met with “I get it” and reciprocated openness instead of judgement or criticism.

I will remember splitting a massive milkshake, dying Easter eggs, making mac & cheese and fish sticks, walking around downtown, driving late at night with the radio up loud, trying on shirts that looked amazing on the mannequins but terrible on both of our very different bodies, hosting her as the very first houseguest in my tiny studio apartment.

I will remember how adorably funny a big baby belly looked on her tiny frame.

I will remember losing track of time talking with her. In person, on the phone, MySpace IMing or Facebook messenger, through Skype, through text… it wasn’t hard to get lost in conversation with her and realize suddenly, “I have to go! This paper is due in an hour!” or “Ryan should be home any minute and I still haven’t gotten to the store to get anything for dinner!”

I will remember hugging her when she was at her tiniest, the way I was almost afraid to, the way she felt so delicate in my arms in spite of the bold and larger-than-life personality that somehow lived inside her. I will remember how hard she laughed when I told her.

I will remember her happiness for me when I told her all about my crush on Ryan, her celebrating our wedding with us, her making the effort to drive to see us one last time before we left Arizona, three little ones all in car seats in her backseat.

I will remember her delighted squeal when I held up a positive pregnancy test during a Skype conversation.

I will remember the sight of her holding my firstborn when he was just tiny—“I swear my babies were never this tiny”—and offering to babysit him so my husband and I could have a much-needed date night. I texted her all through the movie and she texted back each time, “Everything’s fine, but I don’t mind you texting to make sure.” I will remember hurrying home, nervous and antsy after the most time I’d ever spent away from my tiny baby, opening our door to find her rocking him gently with a soft glow from the changing table lamp illuminating them. I will remember how wide her eyes got the next day when we tried some Boba-tea-smoothie fusion thing that literally changed flavors in your mouth.

I will remember how special her children’s holiday meal traditions were to her. I will remember that everyone was always dressed up for their meal… and I will remember how amazing I always thought her green bean casserole was.

I will remember how much she loved to take, look at, and display photos.

I will remember the paintings on her walls. The ones she made and the ones her babies made, the times she stripped them down to diapers and let them finger-paint canvas to their hearts’ delight.

I will remember how much she loved Texas, unicorns, the Dallas Cowboys, deep family bonds, her friends, and a job that let her make a difference for so many people.

I will remember how unabashedly fearless she was about singing or dancing to a song she liked in the middle of a store.

I will remember her unique voice, her adorable (albeit frequently off-color) driving commentaries, and the many different colors and styles of her hair framing her forever-youthful face.

I will remember the sparkle in her brown eyes before she made a joke, how it was just as easy to laugh as it was to cry with her.

I will remember that she was supportive, generous, fiercely gentle and gently fierce, bold, protective, lively, thoughtful, vivacious, beautiful, spirited, playful, hard-working, courageous. She was an encourager, a cheerleader, a filled-with-love friend.

The time I did get with her was far more precious than it was short and that’s what I’m going to remember.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hero Tales

I read a short and simple blog post earlier this year about inspiring our children with tales of Christian heroes. The same sentiment is echoed by Sally Clarkson and y'all know how I feel about SC. <3

My mom bought us Everyone a Child Should Know, I read one of the books in Geoff and Janet Benge's series and Dave & Neta Jackson's book on Christian heroes of black history, and I squealed with delight when I discovered several like-new copies of books in their Trailblazers series for $.10 apiece at a garage sale just last week!

So you can imagine my excitement when 12 Faithful Men popped up in my list of potential review books. The subtitle reads "portraits of courageous endurance in pastoral ministry" and the men written about are the apostle Paul, John Calvin, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards,
john Newton, Andrew Fuller, Charles Simeon, John Chavis, CH Spurgeon, JC Ryle, Janani Luwum, and Wang Ming-Dao.

To be a little blunt, I just didn't care for it enough to finish it. I did read quite a bit of it but it simply wasn't speaking to me. I do think it would be very inspiring for those involved in pastoral ministry of any kind but for me, it just wasn't giving me the kind of inspiration I had gone into it looking for.

I don't think it's a bad read by any means, I just don't think it's probably going to be super engaging for you if you aren't already excited about the subject.

*I received a free copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for this honest review. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018


Scrambled eggs with salsa, tropical smoothies.

Pick out a pretty dress.

Rush, rush, rush.

Make it on time, with just two minutes to spare... or show up late. Very, very late.

Eyes closed, heads bowed, hands folded.

"Stay awake on the drive home! You'll take your nap after lunch!"

"Know what we learned in Sunday School?"

Lunch, naps, quiet time.

Zero guilt about all the unfolded laundry on the couch--it's Sunday.

A chapter or two.

A board game or puzzle.

Ryan's arm around me in the backyard swing, our littlest in my lap, laughing while we watch our babies play.

A family stroller walk? A hike? A lazy evening?



Saturday, August 4, 2018


I never had a sister but if I did, I'd want to have the relationship with her that my girls already have with each other.

We watched a children's documentary about poetry and sweet three-year-old B wrote her own poem about baby D.

Hands so sweet
his hair is blonde 
his foots are tiny 
his belly button is super super super tiny. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summer ’18

I recently read and really liked a blog post on Everyday Reading, “What I’ll Remember about Summer 2018.”

Today I thought I’d fill out my own version. This summer we’ve been…

Listening: to audiobooks when we drive!

Playing: all our usuals… but we’ve also been enjoying a few game-activities from A’s homeschool curriculum, and I’ve been engaging in more pretend play with the kids lately. This is still hard for me outside of dollhouse or Schleich animals, but I played pirates with A the other day (“I’’m the captain, matey! And Mom is my scurvy dog crew!” =D) and when the kids were playing house (which the girls always call “Baby and Mom,”) I got down on all fours and pretended to be their dog. A and B were totally thrilled by this surprise but C is terrified of dogs and she hated this. When I broke character to remind her it was just me she visibly relaxed LOL, and then when the other kids pet me she timidly stuck her hand out with her shoulders raised high, just like she does with a real dog, and finally pulled her hand back and said, “I no pet you, Mommy. I no like dis. I not want you be a doggy (“goggy”). I just want you a be Mommy.”

Wearing: clothes, begrudgingly. It’s so hot. I die.

Eating: mostly our usual foods, but with less meat and dairy… but also lots and lots of homemade popsicles. We whip up a smoothie or “ice cream” in the blender and then pour some into popsicle molds before putting the rest in cups or bowls, respectively.
TROPICAL GREENS- 1c orange juice, 1c water, I handful of kale/spinach/half of both, 1 banana, eyeballed frozen mango, eyeballed frozen strawberries, smidge o chia seeds (you are so welcome for all this precision)
CHOCOLATE AVOCADO- 1c water, 1c “milk,” 1 big scoop o cocoa powder, 1 handful o greens, 1 avocado (minus peel and pit, just in case you’ve never), so many chocolate chips you don’t get to call it healthy anymore (preferably fair trade chocolate chips now that I know more about what my chocolate addiction does to the poorest parts of the world if I don’t stick with fair trade), tray and a half of ice cubes.

Watching: Ryan and I recently borrowed Frontier House from the library, a six-episode mini series where three modern (early 2000s) families live like it’s 1883… they wear the clothes, build the cabins, and completely homestead like they would have then. There were a few things that we didn’t like, and of course a little reality-TV-esque drama, but in general we did really love it and we’ve been talking about it almost every day since we started it. Grandma, I think you and Grandpa would love it if you can find it! The people-drama is irritating but the show itself is so fascinating! We’ve also been watching Blue Bloods, a cleaner cop show (though still with its grit and ickiness because how could a cop show not have some, I guess), and the kids don’t really watch much aside from their one or two “movie days” each week (and we rotate through who gets to pick the movie since it’s pretty much NEVER that they all feel like watching the same thing) but lately A has been picking one of the three Wilderness Family adventures or a Narnia movie, B has been picking “the Daniel Tiger baby movie,” and C is the wildcard who keeps it fresh.

Reading: All the books, always! But The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been our read-aloud and it’s been such a hit. A is smitten, B is interested enough that we never read it without her, and even little C sometimes asks me questions about the pictures or asks me to read a chapter of it while they play. Up next I think we’ll read Lions in the Barn which also came from A’s homeschool curriculum company. Ryan has been reading all kinds of books on homesteading and I’ve been reading one children’s novel for every grown-up book I read. (I say grown-up book because “adult book” sounds like another book entirely)

Still on our radar for this summer: a super exciting trip we’ve been wanting to take for YEARS, finishing the robot costume A started making all by himself one day at naptime, hopefully finishing my current fiction writing project, and getting just that much closer to a big goal we’re working towards!