Sunday, September 17, 2017


Pregnancy is like a giant exercise in embracing distortion.

It starts with your thoughts and routines. The baby pops up constantly and everything gets a little distorted. You’ll think of something and say with a gasp, “Next time I’ll have a baby!”

Then it’s your body.

Your proportions start to look a little distorted. Your waistline expands, even if you’re the only one who notices it at first. Strange things happen. Your nose gets wider or your shoe size changes. Your ring feels too tight. Your belly button looks ridiculous.

Then it’s your marriage. You find yourself bringing up the pregnancy and the baby all the time, already changing the way you think and talk and relate. You give him a hug and there’s all this space between you now, space you can’t fill because that big belly stops you when it touches his stomach.
Finally, the baby comes… and now your whole life is distorted.

You can’t look at anything anymore without seeing safety hazards or thinking I can’t wait or she’ll love this! You are bigger—the biggest!—and yet you sometimes feel so very small. All these things you thought you knew, suddenly they’re a little distorted. You see how very much there still is to learn, how unprepared and out of control you are in this crazy game called life.

Your hair stops falling out and your body starts heading back to the body you used to have…but in some ways it stays a little distorted. There are scars running up and down your belly now, or none of your shoes fit, or all of your tops stay a little snug.

The things you used to think were so important? They don’t seem so important anymore.

Last night I lowered my aching body into a warm bath and watched in wonder as my fourth baby in five years distorted my belly, again and again. My stretch marks shifted as my belly grew bigger on one side or the other, as kicks and flips and rolls moved everything enough that even my belly button moved.

I thought about how much I hated that the first time. Gosh, I hated it! It was such a strange feeling I just couldn’t get used to. It scared me a little.

Now that I know I’m at the end, that this is the last time I’ll get to see this, everything feels a little sweeter and fascinates me a little more. I’m amazed at the miracle of it all.

My view has once again been distorted. 

Friday, September 15, 2017


We kinda-sorta taught C to play Candyland last week and now the whole family gets to play together, so fun! <3

It’s almost fallllll! I am getting so excited. I woke up this morning with cold feet, I saw the cloudy sky and excitedly threw on my favorite sweater (nope, still way too hot), and I excitedly pulled out all of our autumn picture books to display on the shelf as soon as September 23rd hits!
(My personal favorites: A Pumpkin Prayer // God Gave Us Thankful Hearts // ATale of Two Beasts [just the illustrations are super autumn-y]) and I always think of Anne of Green Gables in October so I am going to dig out our picture book version and see if Anne is available for DVD through NetFlix =D

We have been talking a lot about our plans to move out to the woods and have a big garden. The kids and I have decided to plant the following: blueberries, raspberries, honeycrisp apple trees, peach trees, cantaloupe, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, broccoli, celery, sweet potatoes, kale. I’ve planted quite a few of those but I’ve only ever had an actual harvest of raspberries, spinach, carrots, bell peppers, celery, and kale. We’ll be looking into all of it more and more this year!

Three blogs I’ve been loving lately: Everyday Reading // Pure Living for Life // Homeschooling Down Under

Currently reading… this is a no-joke list. Go grab a snack or take a nap and then come back. It’s getting outrageous. A People’s History of the US // Educating theWholeHearted Child // Only Love Today // Your Pregnancy Week by Week // Praying Through Your Pregnancy // Your Pregnancy Devotional // A Different Beautiful // The Zookeeper’s Wife

Prayers today are for continued health and growth for the sweet little one inside me, my wife/mom goals as always, Ayingeneye and our other Compassion child and their families, and the victims of the hurricanes and MT fires! Is there any way I can pray for you this week?

Instagram is one of my BEST marketing tools for my books and this blog. But I don't have an iPhone. My secret? Pre-scheduling posts with Buffergram. If you're interested, use my link so we both get free credits =] 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Daring to Hope

Naptime bliss.
I deeply relish my breaks and always try to insist that A spend at least 30 minutes of naptime doing quiet time in his room before we have mama-son time... but even still, my favorite way to spend naptime is doing my own thing with one (or both) of my sweet girls snuggled up to me.
I’ve never been crippled by a true tragedy. I’ve had my share of scary hurts—haven’t we all?— and some minor tragedies that felt much worse in the moment than they do now that they’ve come and gone, but I’ve never had a true tragedy rip through my family. We haven’t lost anyone, haven’t battled cancer, haven’t stood on a hillside and watched our home burn to the ground or huddled up on our roof and prayed a helicopter would reach us before water levels did.

There is tragedy all over the world—just look at what’s happening right now! Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, state-of-emergency fires in Montana, and all on the heels of the terrible Charleston aftermath—and there are more private tragedies occurring in families everywhere, everyday. Diagnoses that drop people to their knees, a screech of tires that changes everything, unthinkable devastation followed up with “I don’t understand it. I just looked away for one minute.”
Each and every time I hear or read about tragedies like these, my heart breaks a little more for the people involved… and I wonder so much. Why them? Why was I once again—thank you, Lord—spared? How could this happen? What if…

I think about my own faith quite often and how it’s so easy to have faith when things are going well… but what would my faith look like if I were plunged into a tragedy myself? I want to think that I would stay strong. I want to think that people would look at me with pity in their eyes and that whatever they said, I’d have the same response—“I know God will bring good out of this. I have faith that everything will be okay. Good, even.”

But imagining those thoughts and feeling them are two different things and all I can really do is hope I never have to find out.

I absolutely loved Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis and very quickly devoured her new book, Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors, in which she talks about the way God brought her goodness in spite of a family tragedy… and in spite of the many heartaches she’s constantly surrounded by in Uganda.
Just like her first book, this one was wrought with emotion and filled up my heart with peace, inspiration, and even hope. I highly recommend both books and am happy to say that I think they work things out in your heart whether you’re in the middle of a true tragedy or, like me, have never actually experienced anything so significant.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this (completely honest) review.

Monday, September 11, 2017

About Me

When I was in high school, and even during the first half of my college days, MySpace still reigned supreme. I still think MySpace was wayyyyyy cooler than Facebook (the customizable privacy settings! The customizable page! The widgets!!) and I’ll never understand how Facebook took over… but that’s beside the point.

I updated my MySpace page often. I changed the background wallpaper, the profile picture, the music. I rearranged my Top 8. I updated my About Me section as if it were my job.

I look back on that version of me with a little bit of fondness. Maybe an eyeroll or two, but mostly fondness.

Man, I was so young! I know someday I will look back at this version of me and think the same thing, which is even more fun to think about.

But gosh, that me had it all figured out. I mean, I wasn’t totally sure exactly what I believed in or what I wanted to do with my life but I at least had the important stuff figured out.

About Me- Multi-colored french manicures. Music up, windows down. Dancing and running. Polka dots. Pink. Audrey Hepburn. Drama club.

That was the truth to me. It never occurred to me that those were just things I liked—and temporarily, at that!—instead of who I actually am.

Today I don’t wear any nail polish. It’s time consuming and expensive, and also nail polish contains a lot of icky chemicals and holds a ton of bacteria. Also, all those colors on my fingers and toes were tacky. 
Windows down? Occasionally, but mostly it just annoys me because I always have weird postpartum hair now and all the tiny weird wisps that don’t stay in a ponytail just whip around in the wind and tickle my face. Music up, definitely not. It’s usually too loud for music… and when it isn’t? Gosh, I just relish the extremely rare quiet.
I am not into dancing these days and I hate running now. I love a good aqua aerobics session though, or one of my favorite workout DVDs, or a nice long walk/hike.
Polka dots and pink are much too bold for me these days. I like gray and navy. A gray nursing tank top with a navy sweater, a navy nursing tank top with a gray sweater… my perfect outfit.
Audrey Hepburn is fine but I don’t really watch her movies at all anymore and I mostly draw my inspiration from the words of Christian writers instead.
Drama club. Gosh. I still love to watch a good performance, but now I can’t even imagine the grueling rehearsal schedules or the idea of standing up in front of all those people.

I know a lot more about me—not just the temporary, surface-level me—these days. My core beliefs, my main flaws and quirks, my fears and dreams, my inner strengths… but I like the temporary surface-level me too.

I know now how quickly it all can change.

In 2012 I was a Winnebago enthusiast and a trailer park resident. I was a traveler, a teacher, an explorer. I had a travel blog that was starting to really take off. I read mostly young adult fiction and I watched TV shows I don’t really want to admit to these days.

In 2014 I was a cold-weather beast, thriving in my element in Minnesota. I was pureeing my own baby food, sewing, reading every Christian motherhood manual I could get my hands on, wearing my baby on my back and walking up-and-down-and-up-and-down the indoor stairs of our apartment complex on the days I didn’t go to my SoulFit exercise class at church.

Today I am homeschooling my preschooler and dreaming big dreams for the way it’ll look in the future. I am staying home as much as I can, mostly just leaving the house for library trips and midwife appointments. I am stroller walks, bedtime stories, stretch marks, grapes cut up small. I am post-bedtime Scrabble games and moans and groans because there’s a person lodged in my ribs, a fiction paired with a nonfiction, daily writing. 

None of this is me, of course. In five years I will have no more preschoolers and no more stretch marks (ha). There is no telling what I’ll be in five years. A painter? A pianist? A volunteer librarian?
How about my children? My superhero fan will be into other things. Skateboarding? Soccer? Robotics? My baby doll-obsessed bookworm might be obsessed with the weird arts & crafts projects I was at that age, or she might still be in love with dolls and books. My babies, gosh. They could be into just about anything.

I look forward to meeting me, to meeting them. I look forward to someday looking back at this season and realizing with a smile that none of this me is even really me

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pregnancy 4, Week 28

Originally found and then modified via That Mama Gretchen

How far along: 28 weeks

Gender predictions: A, B, and several other family members say boy. Ryan and I still guess girl, as does Ryan’s dad and one of my sisters-in-law. We’re getting more and more excited to find out!! I opened up another of those fun baby poll things so click here to make some guesses at Baby D’s gender, size, birthday, etc. =]

Fitness: The weather is cooling off! Lots of walks this week, plus one of my prenatal workout DVDs. No more recumbent bike! My belly is officially too in the way for it to feel comfortable.

Best moment this week: Heartbeat at my last appointment =]

Worst moment this week: Nothing comes to mind.

Movement: SO MUCH, and it’s now to the point where it’s mostly painful. It’s both reassuring and awful at the same time.

Cravings: Salads or smoothies. Everything else just sounds/feels too heavy right now. I’ll make lasagna because it sounds amazing and then I’ll have a few bites and fill up on the side salad, or I’ll make a big pan of scrambled eggs and then have a few bites and make a smoothie instead. My body is over big meals right now.

Aversions: Cooked vegetables. I really don’t know why. A hearty, vegetable-laden soup is normally one of my favorites but right now and it would make it a lot easier to enjoy something light but that just sounds so disgusting right now. Definitely a first in my life. I’ve always been a soup girl.  

Queasy or sick: A little bit!

Looking forward to: Seeing baby’s face! <3

What A thinks: “I wanna call him Squeaker because babies make squeaks.”

What B thinks: “IT’S A BOY!”

What C thinks: ---

Books, movies, etc we’ve enjoyed this week: Your Pregnancy Devotional // Your Pregnancy Week by Week // Praying through Your Pregnancy //  Lullaby by Sparrows Rising… it’s just such a sweet, precious song <3 // This is Our Baby, Born Today

Freezer Cooking: It's time to start thinking about freezer cooking!!! This week I made my list: 
-Sausage breakfast bake x 2
-Turkey chili
-Meatloaf x 2
-Paleo waffles
-Sloppy joe mixture + paleo buns
-Taco meat
-Zuppa toscana x 3
-Paleo garlic rolls
-Stuffed mushroom balls (ball of stuffing to pop inside a mushroom cap and bake)
-Shepherd's Pie
-Crockpot chicken recipes in a bag to just be dumped right in
-Meatballs x 3
-Baked ziti using lentil noodles (we like them, but I also feel like they're a firm enough texture that they'll hold up really well in the freezer)
I also plan to buy a few convenience meals like an Udi's frozen lasagna and some Ian's fish sticks, a few pre-packaged soups to serve with grilled cheese, and on several of Ryan's days off he'll be making a big breakfast for dinner, which we usually turn into breakfast sandwiches for the week. 

I bought my Italian sausage this week so I hope to make my stuffed mushroom balls and my first batch of zuppa tonight! 

Miscellaneous: Last week I plucked one solitary, inch-long black hair out of my belly. I had to do the same thing when I was pregnant with A! But I’m like 90% certain I had it with one of the girls too so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Also, I’m truly miserable if I try to go for a walk without wearing my maternity support band thing. I did “need” it with the first baby but now I seriously NEED it.