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Faith Featured Loss Motherhood

I Hope You Choose Joy: A Letter to my Kids

October 14, 2017

I hope your life is full.

I hope your days on this planet consist of unspeakable joy, adventure, and love so deep that it takes your breath away.

I pray that you may never know the sting of crushing loss or betrayal.

And yet.

I also hope you experience enough adversity to know what it is like to uncover joy. True joy.

There is a joy that is burried beneath the soil of adversity-its siblings are perverence and positivity,

and it is only unearthed by the fingers of hope.

Many people never experience joy.

Oftentimes, the soil of life so completely encapsulates the seed of joy that it stays buried forever

but it is there, nonetheless.

Living, actual living is uncovered in the aftermath of trial.

The joy of abundant living is often found in the satisfaction of walking out pain… not immediately, but eventually.

Happiness is dependent on your circumstances, but joy is a posture of your heart.

I hope your life is characterized by the resilience of being an overcomer and the gratification of having chose joy in the face of bleak circumstances.

I must tell you, at times you might feel like YOU are burried.

But you always have a choice.

You can stay burried. Or you can climb out. It might take weeks, even months to push through the dirt, debris, and ground.

But I hope you have the strength to emerge from the soil,

because you will be better for it,

and your life is too precious not to live it to the fullest.

I pray you always fight so that the soil of your heart is a perfect garden in which to cultivate joy.

xo, Mom


Photo by: Tori Vandament

Faith Loss Relationships

lean in

July 17, 2017

Reflecting on life’s journey, I become aware of the highs and lows. The present can feel chaotic and random, but when held up in light of the past, I see purpose in every step. Each moment has brought me to this place.

The turns and twists, the ups and downs, have taught me that there are indeed rhythms, but often we can only discern them in retrospect. The loss, the change, and the struggle have yielded great fruit in my life. I find myself surprised to discover I may actually be grateful for the way hardships have transformed me.

For I have learned to lean in.

The ability to lean in is a conscious choice, an act of the will. To lean in is to embrace discomfort with the knowledge that surrender facilitates healing and growth.  The energy once expended resisting pain is instead channeled toward allowing said pain to enable advancement of character and faith.

To lean in is to have the courage to stare pain in the eyes until the trappings of selfishness, frivolity, and vanity have been burned away and we are able to truly live life to the fullest. To take from pain its power and realize our own strength.

To lean in is to be fully attentive to the experience of joy without bracing for its ending. To root ourselves in the present. To allow ourselves to be affected. To posture our heart for change.

To lean in is to reject emotional shortcuts. To refuse to rob ourselves of the gift of today by numbing the sensations of pain, but rather to glean and learn from them, for the aggravations of struggle refine our very souls.

To lean in is to accept.

To lean in is to surrender.

To lean in is to trust.

To lean in is to hope.

We lean in to pain. We lean in to joy. We lean in to life because it is ever-changing and evolving. We lean in because the only moment we have is the one we presently behold.

Photo by: Tori Vandament


morning glory

February 28, 2017

If you have any introvert qualities whatsoever, becoming a mom throws you for loop. It is a glorious, rewarding, and stretching loop, but a loop nonetheless …

Us, semi-introverts, thrive on refueling time. Coffee. Quiet. Reflection. Coffee. Peace. Occasional solitude (remember I said “semi” introverts) coffee…. These words are our friends. We like them.

A baby changes everything.

Your time is no longer your own.

So when people ask: “How do you find the will…no, the motivation to get up early before your kids do?” I smile sweetly but am inwardly thinking, “You have no flipping clue. I have to.”

My mornings are my literal emotional survival.

Drinking coffee uninterrupted might be the SIXTH love language they forgot to include in the book (“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman).

I’m not sure, but I may have solved 99% of the world’s problems before my children’s feet even hit the floor everyday.

In all seriousness, my mornings are a blissful gift. I look forward to when my alarm goes off at (don’t freak out) 5 or 5:30 am… at least 3 or 4 mornings a week, I’m the first one up… and its’ so gloriously rewarding that I keep coming back again and again and again.

I might even be addicted to early mornings.

I have crafted these pre-dawn hours in such a way that they are immensely life-giving. I have a prayer room. However, you don’t need a whole room, but a spot or chair helps to create a small personal space ‘away’.

My prayer room has my comfy chair, a lamp, a space for my coffee and books. I even have favorite verses on the wall and hope to even add a rug and wall hangings once I get around to it (probably once my kids leave for college at this point).

“What do you actually do during this time?” You might wonder… Well I’m glad you asked because I will tell you. WHATEVER THE HECK I WANT.

I pray. I pray for my kids, my husband, extended family. I also journal. I take an inner inventory of how I’m “actually” doing and process that. I read books that inspire me, I get caught up on book study for women group too. Sometimes, I just turn on soft music and sit.

The magic of solitary early mornings is: they keep giving back. I promise you it is awe-inspiring to have formed a coherent thought before seeing your child. After my alone time, I’m actually excited and ready to engage my children when they wake.

There is also something to be said for the fact that my kids see me get up early to read my bible and spend time alone. I’m frequently in the ‘prayer room’ when they wake up and come looking for me. In the spirit of “caught not taught,” I’m hoping this is an appealing practice that they utilize themselves one day.

I also notice my mental state is elevated the whole day. I feel starting my day before everyone else gives me capacity. I have the wherewithal to make higher level brain choices that employ compassion and empathy over reaction and irritation.

So try it! But disclaimer: I always take a few month hiatus from early mornings when I have a newborn…. But my sheer need for the refreshment it brings always has me quickly reestablishing this beloved routine.

*Photo by Tori Vandament