our place to land

We sat in the middle of the living room floor, tears both streaming down her face and welling up in my eyes. We were both wearied from this struggle we were in the midst of; it had lasted at least an hour and a half at this point and presently, there seemed no end in sight. It began with a simple task that she does daily, but for whatever reason today, was just not going to have it. As soon as her first reply came out I had a feeling we were in for a tough one. Now, here we sat, both cross-legged and facing each other with Jack playing with toys around us. We were still working through it.

Then she looked up at me and said, “Mommy, why can’t I do it? Why is it so hard to obey?” My heart split wide open at these words. I wanted to wrap her up and comfort her, I wanted to explain everything all at once and fully, I wanted to relate to her and tell her “oh baby girl, mommy struggles with the very same thing!”. Most of all, though, the most present thought in my mind was wanting to give her hope. I didn’t want her to sit in the feeling that she HAS to figure this out all on her own or that she has to strive within herself for the rest of ever. I wanted to encourage her that she is far from alone; not only is in the company of others who struggle with that exact same question, but she has a Jesus who desperately wants her to know His perfect love and help.

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It’s in moments like these where I’m reminded of how much more motherhood is than the parts that so often sit forefront. I’m reminded that I need to rub the blur of scattered toys and meal preparation and homeschool and the ever present parental questions out of my eyes and remember that those sit on a foundation of so much more. The best thing I can give her each day is Jesus. The best thing I can show her that I need each day is Jesus. He must be the very life and breath of our home, the presence that the rest of everything flows out of. He is the joy that sits behind the unending cycle of tidying up those scattered toys, the love that spurs on the 3,496 meal prepared, the strength that brings rest and excitement into the school days, the wisdom that gives confidence in knowing He will give answers to the parental worries and questions.

I want to show her this Jesus in all His fullness and satisfying goodness. In all His enough-ness and His perfect ability to help us. In His gentle Shepherd posture, chasing us down when we go astray and keeping us close to Himself. In all His perfect grace to make Himself like us so that He might make a way for us to then become like Him, to be His own, and to never have to handle anything on our own if we simple believe. In those moments where she feels her own lack, facing that battle that wages so hard in our hearts, I want to point her, every single time, to the One who does not lack one thing and gave His very life so that she doesn’t have to stay in that tear-filled place. In those moments where my mama heart wants so badly to fix it and make it better and help it not be so hard for her, may I always be quick to fall to my knees before her, take her hands in mine, tell her “I understand”, and then turn both of our eyes upon Jesus. He’s the place where we both must land, and what a gentle, kind, loving landing place He is.

6 years old


There you are, my six year old girl. 

It's absolutely true, what they say. You blink and, in that instant, 6 years have gone by.

6 years ago, at 6:41pm, they handed you to me for the first time, laying you right down on my chest. I close my eyes now and I can see that moment like a home video in my mind. I remember what I felt to hold you that first time, taking in every aspect of you, and feeling so giddy about your head of hair.

You were beautiful. You were here. You were ours.

As they rolled me out of the delivery room, moving me into recovery, with you snuggled next to me and your daddy walking right beside us, I just remember the greatest sense of peace and a very special kind of gratitude coming over me. 

To be given your daddy and then for us to be given you? Utter grace.

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And now we are here, opening the door to your 6th year. I can't wait to see what's on the other side. Something tells me it's going to be a rather wonderful year.

The other day daddy and I asked you what you were most excited about in turning 6 and you responded, without a moments hesitation, "Holding my baby brother." Sweeter words I've never heard.

Soon you will get to do just that. You will get to hold the answer to the quiet prayers you've prayed and the tender hopes you've carried. Daddy and I couldn't be more ready to see that moment. I know it's going to be just like the one I described on the day you were born. Utter grace.

And you, sweet Little Bit, are going to be the loveliest big sister. With all the plans you are already forming and communicating to us about what you are going to do with baby brother and teach baby brother and show baby brother, I know all the more that this little boy is so very blessed to have you.

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My mind is playing all the memories from this past year of your life like a slideshow as I write this to you, Little. We have seen the Lord work in boundless ways in you. Through the heartaches and the struggle, the victories and the celebrations, the many many "new things" you have tried and done, the countless ways you've been brave, the deep thoughts you've begun to have and slowly shared with us, the ways you've stepped out of what is comfortable to you, the ways you've loved those around you and learned to  respond when they love you, the beautiful truths that you are mulling over in your heart, the way you gently speak truth to us, the hundreds of times you've helped, and the desire that you have for all people to know God. It has been stunning to watch Him work so masterfully in your heart. I pray that so soon your heart comes to know His love for you is best, His knowledge of you is the deepest, and His desire for that eternal relationship with you is the greatest hope.

I love seeing all the pieces of you come alive even more with each year, all the characteristics and qualities of you that God knit together inside of me in just the way He had always planned. Those pieces of you are a tool He uses daily in my life -- you challenge me, you encourage me, you inspire me, and through you He shows me so much grace. Utter grace.

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To have you as my daughter, my hour by hour sidekick, my little companion, is to have a tangible picture of that utter grace looking right at me, with expressive blue eyes and the most contagious belly laugh. It's beautiful.

So on this, your 6th birthday, know this, my darling Anna Kate: I am so very thankful for you, so very proud of you and forever changed by being your mama.

Happy Birthday, my Bit!!

I love you with all my heart.

"when can we have a baby, Mommy?"


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"Mommy, I'm going to be the BEST big sister." She said these words, out of the blue, as we were driving one day and the road ahead instantly became blurry because of the tears that filled my eyes. "Yes, sweetheart. Yes, you will be," being the words I could force out with decent control.

And I believe those words with every piece of my heart. This tender, brave, strong, beautiful little soul that made me a mommy will be the BEST big sister a baby could know, if the Lord chooses that. That "if" is the hard part; the piece that makes these conversations we have with AK some of the most painful we've faced these past 3.5 years. These are the conversations where my heart sinks to its deepest and the tears flow the heaviest, because if I could, I would move heaven and earth to make that big sister dream a reality for her.

When we wander through the baby section at Gap or Target to buy a gift and she says, "We should get one of these for our baby!" When I watch her sit in awe as I hold a friend's newborn baby and she gently strokes baby's head or tiny hands. When she pretends she's playing with her "little brother and sister." When she asks me, "When can we have a baby, Mommy?" When those imploring blue eyes search my face for answers. When she asks if I have a baby in my tummy, too, and I have to say "no" and her little eager clasped hands drop to her side. Whenever I see the painful side of our reality right now touch her heart in really tender ways, that is when I especially wish that I could tap into some secret formula that makes all the pain go away and place in her hands a snuggly pink or blue bundle that's all her own.

But as much as my mothering instincts want to put up a 10 foot high fence and hire some Jedi-like warrior to guard and protect her from any sort of pain or sorrow, I know that isn't actually the best thing for her. She's been given to me, to us, to train and teach, to mold and guide, and one of the hardest parts of that is letting her come face to face with the truth that "all is not right in the world." We have to let her see the tears run down. We have to say the actual words. Obviously, in a way that is right and good for her 5 year old heart and mind to digest, but we still have to look into those imploring eyes, pull her on our laps, hold her dimpled hands, and say, "we don't know."

As hard as it was the first time to explain to her the little pieces of "why" that we can and as much as the gut-wrenching feeling never goes away when we have to explain it again, those moments sit apart in my mind because those are moments where we get to plant little seeds of glorious truth. We don't have to leave it at, "we don't know", kiss her forehead, and set her down with a despairing heart. We get to add, "but He knows and He's going to right this world one day," kiss her forehead, and set her down with a hopeful heart. We get to use this longing that all of us have, a longing that aches until we feel our hearts might break in two, to teach her about the character of our sweet Savior, His perfect love, His gentle presence, and the beauty that He spreads across even the hardest pages of suffering. We get to tell her about what we've learned, about what we are still learning. We get to be real with her about the struggles we face and tell her about how the Lord has met us there and refueled our hearts and minds with all the truths of Scripture He's planted there. Goodness gracious, we get to tell her about HER, the most beautiful answer to longings and prayers that He allowed to be placed in our arms 5.5 years ago. We get to say, "look in the mirror. you are one of the best, dearest pieces of God's grace." We get to tell her about hope, hope that does not disappoint, that will bring complete satisfaction and fullness of joy when Jesus is our Savior. 

We have been given the sweetest task to guide this little one, to take her hand and not just walk ahead of her a step or two, but let her walk right alongside us, being real about how much the pain hurts, yet pointing her to the One who gives us a multitude of reasons to smile and laugh and find beauty among the ashes. Most of all and more than anything, we pray that she knows Him as that good good Father. So, we must let pages of her story be marked up by our present reality, the hard and the beautiful, entrust those to His wise hands, and watch to see all the ways He chooses to use them. 

"You know, Little, like we always talk about, we can stop and pray to God anytime about how we want to have a baby," J told her at dinner a couple nights ago. "Yeah! Why don't we pray right now?" That was her reply, with the biggest smile spread across her face.