Bikes on the Lawn

Sofie keeps asking me, “Mom, is it still summer?” I tell her it is, technically speaking, — that although school has started and though I wore my favorite bomber jacket to work today, technically yes, it’s still summer for another week and a half.

I’ve been reluctant for this season to go, perhaps that’s why I’m still stretching it out for as long as the calendar with let me truthfully tell her yes, it’s still summer. I love fall. I love everything about it—the trees changing colors, the fresh air in my lungs as I breathe a sigh of relief at our return to routine, the soups and breads and cozy sweaters and jackets to accompany them in warming me on a cool, crisp day. I love every bit of it, except one thing. I hate saying goodbye to summer. And this summer, especially so.

When summer began we raced our way through each week with play dates every other day and the sprinkler on the days in between. We gardened and made popsicles and coffee-dated at the beach and play-dated at the spray-park. We soaked up every bit of what makes summer summer.

And then the smoke came and there was a month where we didn’t go many places because our eyes burned and our lungs choked on the smoke. But also in that month was something else, something so beautifully different about the second half of our summer, the reason I’m so reluctant to let it go— the bikes strewn across the lawn. This has been my favorite part about summer; something I didn’t think I’d see for a very long time. Yet there it was, like a mirror that reflects the not-so-distant past.

Not so long ago it was our bikes on this lawn and us playing hide ‘n seek. We owned this turf. It was our open-aired, un-gated playground for our uninhibited imaginations. We played ’til we were called home for dinner and then we played some more ’til we could no longer see well enough for the seeker to find.

Those summers were the best of our lives — or so we told ourselves; I was sure it was true.

We lived in the moment, for the moment, moment by moment, in the moments between meals when the world was ours. It came so naturally that we never could have imagined we’d soon struggle to treasure the very moments that once gave our lives meaning. That as adults it would become about making it to the next meal, the next break, the next deep breath, making it through each moment of every day instead of relishing in each moment that made us feel alive.

We as adults are on the same earth, breathing the same air, but we breathe in differently now, taking deep breaths and exhaling sighs. No longer do we exhale laughter and imaginative stories. We left them in our childhood along with the unwavering thrill of a summer day.

These bikes on the lawn don’t belong to me and my fellow cops ‘n robbers, but they belong to wild hearts, hearts as wild as ours once were. They belong to the ones who own this turf, who inherited from us. As we passed into adulthood, leaving behind our spirited youth, so these wild ones took our place and claimed it for their own.

This last month of summer brought it to my attention — the beauty of childhood found in a carefree summer day. It was the giggles and the “eenie, meeny, miny, moes” and the counting to ten while their friends all hid. It was the conversations with 8-year-olds while they lunched at our house or asked to pick plums from our backyard and the playing catch and the climbing of trees. But mostly, it was the bikes strewn across the lawn.

As fall draws nearer and the darkness closer, I’m reminded of all the changes that will come as the leaves start changing colors. In Seattle this means the rain comes and neighbors stay inside. It means I won’t see bikes on the grass or hear giggles through the open window for much longer.

It’s a temporary shift as we put on our winter coats and hibernate until spring, but this year it doesn’t feel so temporary. Yes, summer will come again, but in this next year it’s most likely that one of us will move away. We’ll be looking for a home of our own and our friends will be looking for a different home to fit their growing family. Oh, what a bittersweet end to this beautiful season we’ve had.

Soon we’ll have a different lawn and different wild hearts to know and adventure with. This summer will always have a special place in my heart though, for it was the first. The first summer where my girls found independence and friendship and adventure and knew that every second of it was truly as perfect as it seemed; the one where they lived in each moment and for the moment and moment by moment; where the thrill of summer was imprinted on their wild hearts.

This is the one I’ll remember, too, the one I’ll write on my own heart: the one with the bikes strewn across the lawn. And I’m sure that’s why I’m so reluctant to let it go.

So, yes, dear Sofie, it’s still summer. And it will still be summer until September 22nd, or for as long as we can hold onto it. But when the leaves change color, and when we stop opening the windows to feel the summer breeze, and when we start counting down the days ’til the pumpkin farm, — there will be beauty there, too, and I know we’ll find it, together, your wild heart and mine.





Goodnight Moon: I’m the Old Lady Whispering Hush

If you read Goodnight Moon as a child, you’ll find a room full of wonder. There are kittens playing, a mouse scurrying about. There is the picture of the cow jumping over the moon, and there is stargazing from a cozy bed.

When you read it as an adult, you probably know that it’s one of the most popular children’s books and that it is known as a literary piece of art. Though I agree, I think it’s also so. much. more. (And in fact, much simpler than what it might seem at first.)

If you’re a parent, this story will sound very familiar. This little bunny just doesn’t want to sleep. He puts it off in every way possible for one very long hour.

Little bunny is a handful. If you’ve read Runaway Bunny, you know the imagination and energy this little bunny has. He’s a little rascal. Goodnight Moon is no exception–

In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of — The cow jumping over the moon

And, and, and…

The little bunny’s eyes just can’t stop.

On the first page we see him sitting in his bed looking at the telephone (the first thing listed) and the list keeps going, until he’s listed just about everything of importance in that little green room.

Tonight as I read the book to my own little girls, I noticed something very important about the illustrations — the clock. Have you ever looked closely enough to notice the hands on the clock or the moon rising? Quite a bit of time passes in this short little story while the bunny is saying good night.

On the first page it’s 7:00pm. It’s bedtime (the bunny is sitting in bed), but the lights are on.

On the next colored page it’s 7:10pm and we’re shown the chair where the old lady will eventually sit, but she’s not there, only her knitting is there. I like to think she’s tucking the little bunny in to bed.

After the list of things in the room has concluded, (the page right after we’re shown the old lady whispering “hush”), it’s already 7:20pm.

Have you noticed the old lady whispering “hush”? As a parent I can totally identify with her. How many times do I yell at my 4-year-old to, “PLEASE BE QUIET AND GO BACK TO BED!”? — It’s a lot. Well, apparently, so does the mama bunny (except she’s whispering — I imagine a loud whisper and a strong HUSH).

The old lady is knitting in her chair, the lights are off, except the little night light on the bedside table, and the little bunny begins to say goodnight.

As the little bunny says goodnight to absolutely everything in his room, he climbs out of bed to turn around and look at his pictures– “good night bears, good night chairs.” Then on the next page that we see him, he’s sitting in his bed, untucked, and looking around at the room — “good night clocks, and good night socks.” Next, he’s turned to look at his bedside table — “good night comb and good night brush.” By this time, it’s already 7:50pm. This little bunny has been awake for 50 minutes after mama bunny first put him into bed. Or to be generous — 40 minutes since she tucked him in.

I definitely wouldn’t be whispering hush at this point. That little bunny would probably get some slightly-more-frustrated words from me.

His mind is racing. His eyes are darting all over the room. He’s full of energy, he’s climbing out of bed, he’s doing everything except lying his furry little head on the pillow, and his mama just wants him to sleep.

Can anyone relate? *every mom ever raises her hand*

“Mom, I need a glass of water!”
“Ummm, mommyyyy, I just wanted to say I love you.”
“Moooooommmyyyyyyy, I’m huuuuungry.” (Bowl full of mush, anyone?)
“Mommy! I NEED TO TELL YOU SOMETHING! Umm… I forgot.”

Finally the bunny is back in bed and he says, “good night to the old lady whispering ‘hush,'” and I can only assume that he’s looked as much as a bunny can look at everything in his room, so he gets back around to mama bunny to say good night and she whispers loudly again for him to HUSH.

Mama bunny is so done. Look how her knitting is all collected. Kittens are no longer playing with the knitting. They’re looking longingly at her, but she’s having none of it. She means serious business. “Listen, little bunny. I finished my knitting and I’m tired and I want to go to bed. You need to HUSH and go to sleep!” He knows she means business so he lies down, gets cozy in his covers, and his eyes wander to the window — “good night stars, good night air,”

“good night noises everywhere” — and he’s out.

FINALLY. This bunny is asleep. An hour later. That’s right. Take a look at the clock. It’s now 8:10pm.

Oh mama bunny, I totally get it. I’ve had my fair share of late nights and my own little bunnies with wandering eyes and big imaginations. Bed time is exhausting. But know that you’re not alone.

Who knew that this little classic children’s book could also be a salute to parents everywhere, a holding-hands-in-solidarity as parents of young children are in the trenches together. It says, “I see you, mama (and daddy), you’re so not alone.”

The ones who are hard to love.

Two days ago, we invited a young neighbor girl to Sofie’s birthday party. We’re not having a huge party this year, but I remember being the neighbor girl that was excluded (read: purposefully not invited), so I felt a lot compassion for this girl.

Sofie and I walked over to her house to deliver an invitation. I’ve been a neighbor of the girl’s mother for 25 years, but I’ve never once set foot on their property.

The reason is rooted in a deep fear. Their family has more trouble than the rest of the block combined. The mom of this little girl grew up on this block and still lives with her mom who struggles with alcoholism, and as I recently found out, struggles with hoarding and other mental illness. There is often yelling, screaming, cursing, very loud music, etc. coming from their house. Unlike me, policemen often frequent the place, sometimes because of complaints, and often because they’re on their patrol route. I would bet that this family knows the names of more police officers than they do their neighbors.

All of those reasons are legitimate ones to keep anyone away, but maybe, I thought, all of those reasons were exactly why I needed to cross the property line. We walked up and handed the invitation to the little girl. She was delighted. “What does it say! Read it!”

These neighbors have known my name for a while now because they recently started attending my church. We talk for a few minutes when we see each other, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount that the girl’s mom would share with me this time.

She told me the heaviest thing on her heart. One of her dog’s, the one she brought home at 5 weeks old and who she had for 11 years and who always slept with her — her dog died a week ago, and the worst part is that she suspected that her pup was poisoned. And it was all so much to bear for her since her dad’s passing.

Wait. Hold up. Did you just say your dad died? Yes. On April 5th.

Her dad has had health issues, but he was almost always out walking. Did I forget to notice? The saddest part to me is that this family has been our neighbors for 25 years and we went four and a half months without knowing her dad died.

These past few days I’ve been humbled as I realize that I’ve been quicker to judge these neighbors than I have been to offer a safe place, or an ear to listen, or a card and flowers to comfort. There’s so much more — so much more hurt and depth and emotion to this story– this family– than I can share. But because I stepped over that property line, I was able to listen to a hurting woman who doesn’t have many (any?) friends and I had a little girl and her brother over for a play date to share our safe place with them in the middle of their hurting. This mama is a really good mom who is doing her best with what she’s been given. And those little kids, they’re the sweetest. They’re kind and polite and eager to please.

When God said to love our neighbor as ourself, he wasn’t just talking about the ones who are easy to love. He was talking about all of them, perhaps, especially, the ones who are hard to love because they’re the ones who need it most. He didn’t tell the Israelites to love the only their people, he told them to love the Samaritans, too. I think he means the same for me.

Still, He will be found.

[I started writing this post in April 2015. It still feels appropriate for my life today, so I decided to add an ending and publish it.]

Some of my favorite verses in the Bible are found in Jeremiah 29. God speaks through Jeremiah to the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon. Most of us (North Americans) live with roofs over our heads, enough food to keep us healthy, and freedom to do as we please in the country where we were born. We are in no way in exile like the Israelites were, but sometimes I feel like I live in my own little exile away from where I should be.

should have my own house by now. I should have a full-time job in communications. (That is what I went to school for, right?) I should be involved in ministry in Costa Rica. I should be doing more with my life.

But all these “should’s” are of my own imagination and my own planning because God’s “should’s” have me right where I’m supposed to be. Maybe my decisions (good and bad) helped lead me here, but nevertheless, God has me here for a reason, so here is most definitely where I should be for now.

Do you ever feel like you’re in exile? Like life should be more than what it is or different from how it is now? I’m often eager to change the way life is now or anxious for what God has “next,” but it’s important to remember that this is what God has for me now and this is just as important as what he has for my future. This time right now and where I’m at and what I’m doing now, these are the foundation for what he has later. What good is my future without the foundation?

Though the Israelites were in exile, the Lord encouraged them to keep on living their lives as they would if they were in Jerusalem. He tells them to build houses, to settle down, to garden, to get married and have children.

It’s important to remember in that no matter how much we feel away from where we’re supposed to be, we must keep on living instead of being so eager to get out of whatever situation we find less than desirable. God knows. He knows and he still has me here for a reason.

These sleepless nights, unending line of dishes that need washing, the vacuuming and sweeping and toilet cleaning and cooking and diaper changing… it’s important, too. It’s a season that sometimes feels like exile, but God is in this, too. He is here with me. (With us.) It’s not always glamorous, but it’s purposeful. It’s foundational.

But here’s the best part. God sees us and is here with us. Sometimes in this season of “exile” I feel like it will be easier to follow God when I have my own house. Then I’ll have my own space for reading my Bible and I won’t get so frustrated with other people for making a mess after I just cleaned up, and I won’t do this and I will do that. Or it would be easier to seek God if ____________ .

But that’s not how God works. Because he has me here for a reason and because this is where I should be. God had this promise for the Israelites that is still true for me:

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you…”Jeremiah 29:13-14

God said this to the Israelites while they were in exile. He didn’t say, “Seek me as soon as you’re out of exile and I will be found by you.” No, he said, “Seek me and I will be found.” Right here, right now.

In the place where he has me, he can be found. And he will be found. There are no conditions except that we seek with all of our heart.

Words Fall Short At Times Like These

These past few months have been difficult to say the least. It’s a story that doesn’t bear repeating for the sake of the hearts involved. And even if I could share details, words would fall short.

(No, it’s not my marriage. No, it’s not my kids. No need to try to “figure it out.” Just let these words be enough. And I pray you glean something encouraging for your own heart.)

What do you do when the “right thing” isn’t the “right thing” for everyone? What do you do when your heart is heavy with a burden, a burden that shouldn’t be held alone, but one that can so easily pierce the hearts of others when they bear it too? To share the burden is to burden others with the load you once carried on your own. It weighs down their shoulders, but more, it weighs down their hearts. They carry it, they stumble with it. It is so devastatingly difficult for someone to carry another’s burdens when they still have their own to carry. And there’s no taking it back once it’s shared, leaving another heavy load upon your own shoulders– the guilt of having weighed someone else down.

Words fall short at times like these. They aren’t enough to say “I’m sorry”; they aren’t sufficient to heal the broken heart of the burdened one. There isn’t a single word in any language that would ever be enough.

I’ve been told I’m not enough, but I know it to be true, too. To strive to be something that I’m not (the “enough” that I wish I could be) is unfair and unrealistic. It’s another burden to add to the load. It’s a pair of shoes I was never meant to fill.

I am not a healer of hearts. I am not the one who is strong enough to carry burdens. I am not the repairer of broken things. Though my heart aches to be enough, to be able to take away the burden, to be able to repair what is broken and reconcile what seems so far gone, so lost, I can’t. I won’t ever be enough.

The only thing to do is to lighten the load again– to give that burden (the new one and the old) to the One who desires to take them, who is strong enough to carry them, who is big enough to not grow weary, who is enough to be all that you need.

I am not enough. But I know Him. I know the One who is enough. I know the healer, the strong one, the repairer. I’ve seen his work. I’ve been his work. He has healed and repaired my heart when I thought it was broken beyond repair. He has been all my strength when I had none. He has been the carrier of my burdens, and he carries them still.

I pray you find the One who can carry your burden. The ones you carry for yourself and the one I’ve left you with. I pray that you come to realize that you don’t have to carry them anymore. They’re heavy. They’re debilitating. They’re destructive– to yourself and to everyone who cares about you (that list is long; you are not alone).

Anger. Bitterness. Sadness. Hurt. Defeat. Grief. Confusion. Anxiety. Depression.

You weren’t meant to carry any of them. But oh how they weigh you down when you do carry them. Your heart aches with an aching that no one can heal. If only time could rewind. I get it. I’ve wished for the same thing so many times in my life. If only time could bring him back. If only time could put the words back in her mouth. If only time could erase the thoughts, take the burden away. If only time wasn’t such a thief.

There is no easy answer and for that I’m left with so few words. Not even one– not a single word– if you’re looking for words that can mend the broken heart. I don’t have words like that.

I’m not the healer. I’m not the repairer. I’m not the one who will carry your burden. I’m not enough, and I never will be.

But I know the One who is.


Tell Your Heart To Beat Again — Danny Gokey


Labor of Love

Because everyone loves a good labor story… Here is mine.

I was due with our second baby girl on January 14th. A few days prior I started to have irregular contractions and on my due date the contractions started becoming regular enough that I could time them.

It was around 5:30pm on the 14th and without saying a word to Rafael, I began rushing around the house, completing tasks that I wanted to have done before the baby came. I made tacos for dinner, but hardly ate. I wrote a list of things to do for our babysitter (Camille). I asked Rafael to give Sofie a bath. “Right now?” he asked. Yes, right now. He didn’t understand why, but I didn’t want to tell him I was in labor because I didn’t want him to start freaking out. Not yet anyway. It wasn’t quite time to freak out.

I started timing my contractions sometime in the 8 o’clock hour. They were 12 minutes apart to start. By 9:30 (ish) they were down to 8 minutes, but there was one contraction that just seemed to stick around. I decided to call the doctor because of the tightness that didn’t go away even though my contractions still weren’t very close together. She suggested I go to the hospital to get checked. Rafael and I finished packing our bags and waited for Camille to arrive so we could go.

When we got to the hospital (about 10:30pm) I was sent to triage where they set me up to the monitor to check on the baby. My contractions were about 6 minutes apart by this time. They checked my cervix (which had not been checked until this night) and I let the nurse know how painful it always was for me. I was in tears from the pain and from her sour attitude. “You’re getting an epidural, right?” She mocked me because I was crying from the pain. I was planning on it, but her attitude made me angry. Who has the right to tell a woman in labor that her pain tolerance is weak?

I was at 4cm. The nurse told me I needed to walk around for an hour and they would recheck me. I walked around with Rafael and my mom came to join us for the last few minutes. Though my contractions were getting closer together and stronger, they were still somewhat irregular. Sometimes as close as 3 minutes and up to 5 minutes apart.

Around midnight I was rechecked. The rude nurse told me my cervix hadn’t changed and neither had my contractions. Contrary to what she said and what she noted on the monitor, my contractions had become much stronger. It was hard for me to talk through them and they were notably closer together. She and the doctor didn’t listen. They listened only to the monitor. According to them, contractions are always stronger when you’re walking and will calm down once you’re sitting again. The monitor wasn’t showing them as being very strong.

They gave me two options: I could walk around for another hour to see how I progressed, or (their favored option) I could go home with a shot of morphine, get some sleep, and come back when I was really in labor. I told them I couldn’t physically walk around for an hour because I was in too much pain and that during Sofie’s labor the pain meds had no affect on me so I wasn’t too excited to try them again. These were different meds, the doctor tried to assure me. I didn’t believe it, but because I couldn’t walk around, I took the only other option they gave me. Around 12:45am on the 15th I reluctantly went home with a shot of morphine in my hip.

We got home around 1:00am. I tried to lie down and rest, but because my contractions were so strong and regular, I tried to no avail. Just as I had told them, the morphine had no affect. By 2:45-3:00 (ish) my contractions were growing increasingly painful and I decided to time them again. The first one I timed was 5 minutes from the next. By the third contraction I timed, they were 2 minutes apart. I woke Rafael and told him that we needed to go back to the hospital. If they still didn’t think I had progressed enough, I didn’t care. I wanted an epidural for this pain. In the amount of time it took him to get ready (get dressed, use the bathroom, put on shoes), I woke my mom up and told her we were going back. By this time it was around 3:30am and my contractions were so painful I couldn’t sit or stand properly and most definitely couldn’t talk through them.

We went to get in the car and I couldn’t. I couldn’t sit down. I tried a couple times before telling Rafael that I had to go in my mom’s car because it had more room so I could stretch out and not have to fully sit down. I got in my mom’s car and the whole way to the hospital I had to push. I told her I had to push, so she drove faster. I screamed at her not to drive too fast because every bump made my contractions more painful.

We arrived at the hospital around 3:45am (ish). The security guards recognized me. “Weren’t you just here?” they asked. Yes, I was and they sent me home, I told them. I refused a wheel chair because, again, I couldn’t sit down, and I walked myself to the elevator and up to the 7th floor, accompanied by Rafael and the security guard. The whole time I still had the urge to push the baby out.

When we got to the maternity floor I told them I was in active labor and they took me to my room. I told them I had to push and they wanted to check my cervix. Let me say that again. I told them I had to push and they wanted to check my cervix. Ok, so they started to check and the nurse pulled her hand out quickly and said, “Nope! We need to go.” …Or something close to that. I was in labor, so I don’t remember her exact words. I was crowning. Baby girl’s head was right there. She was ready to meet the world.

But of course they made me wait longer. The doctor wasn’t there. She went home at approximately 3:20am after waiting a couple hours for me because she thought I wouldn’t go into active labor. They called another doctor in. He’d been asleep so they had to wake him up. While he was waking up they were running around frantically getting the room set up to deliver a baby. They put in my IV, set up the light, got the doctor’s tool kit. I was screaming the whole time: I have to push! But they made me wait.

Finally the doctor arrived and I was allowed to push, but before my first push the doctor broke my water. It was such a relief from the pain. Pushing was so painful. Because, you know, they sent me home so I couldn’t get an epidural. I’d had one for this part with Sofie, so this pain was new to me. My contractions were still steady, probably 1-2 minutes apart, so I got breaks between pushes.

By the second push the delivering doctor who had gone home was back. I screamed, “I can’t do this!” The doctor told me, “One more push and she’ll be out!” Seriously? One push. I could do that. On the third push, her head was out. On the fourth, my baby girl was born and brought to my arms.

At 4:17am on January 15th, Nellie Jo was born into the world.

They had to take off my shirt still in order to have her skin on mine because there wasn’t time to fully undress when I arrived at the hospital. I delivered the placenta without a hitch and asked to see it. Amazing. There was that life-giving organ that sustained my baby girl inside me for so many months. No stitches. No new hemorrhoids.

Everything was great with our little Nellie Jo: 7lb, 12oz. 21in. 13in head. Tons of hair. Beautiful in every way.

We had trouble keeping her temperature up for a while, but lots of swaddling and cuddles cured that.

My delivering nurses were incredible and so kind. I never did talk with the rude nurse again, but if I’d seen her I might have let her know that this one I did without an epidural. And it was painful. But I did it. It was empowering. Next time I’ll make sure they listen. I know when I’m in labor and I really don’t want to have my next baby at home. (Because a few more minutes of waiting and I can assure you, this little girl would have been born in the car. Thank God that didn’t happen.)

Welcome to the world, Nellie Jo. It’s rough at times, but there’s beauty here too, and it’s a little more beautiful now that you’re here.


My ugly, grace-covered heart.

I’ve had a long period of silence on this dear blog, and I’ve decided it’s been long enough. I haven’t written partly for the lack of words, but mostly because if I wrote something from my heart, I feared it might be too ugly. And that’s because it is — it is ugly.

But in the past year I’ve realized that it’s the ugly parts of our hearts that we should share. When other people see the ugly parts in our own hearts, they realize that they’re not so alone and that if there’s ugliness in them and ugliness in me too, it’s probably just a regular part of being human.

And then there’s grace. Because I recognize that my heart isn’t always pretty, only then was I able to also recognize that I need grace. And grace — it’s far too beautiful for this old heart of mine, but Christ knew that when he gave it to me. That’s what grace is for. It’s for the ugly hearts, the angry hearts, the hurting hearts. If grace was meant for the beautiful ones, there wouldn’t be a need for grace.

So here I am, standing before you with an ugly heart that’s being painted beautiful by grace. And I want to share my heart with you again — the ugly parts, the grace-filled parts, the parts I want to hide in a closet and never let anyone see. Because when we’re all human it’s easier to share grace, easier to accept grace, and easier to know that we’re not alone. You’re not alone. I’m not perfect either. So let’s do this life thing, together, hand-in-hand, heart-in-heart, the truth and ugliness out in the open, so grace can come in and paint us beautiful again.

I understand why some women get abortions.

When I was living in Texas, Rafael and I accidentally got pregnant. It was so accidental he laughed when we walked down the pregnancy-test-aisle at Walmart. And it was so accidental that he didn’t believe me when I said it was positive.

It was so accidental because we didn’t technically have sex. We did stuff we shouldn’t have, and because of that I nervously scoured the internet for people that accidentally got pregnant like we had. Yes, it was possible. No, Rafael still didn’t believe me. So we went to urgent care and they did a test again. “Why did you come,” they asked. “Because I wanted to be sure,” I said. They told me if a pregnancy test is positive, it’s definitely positive. If it’s negative, you could still be pregnant, but if it’s positive there’s no doubt.

So I was pregnant. For a brief moment I thought, No one has to know. If I just get an abortion, it could all go away. No one would ever know what we did.

If you know me at all, you know that I’ve always been pro-life. Always. But I also never imagined myself getting pregnant before getting married. I never imagined the shame that I would feel of being the Christian girl who got pregnant before her wedding. But now I was. I got knocked up. So the thought did cross my mind.

The shame of abortion quickly overpowered the shame of having a baby, so I dismissed it, but it was there. That fleeting thought once occupied my mind and I felt dirty. I felt more shame because I had thought that at the expense of this little life inside of me, I could hide my sin.

I thought of how my life would change. My whole future flashed before my eyes, and it was hard to see. No more Costa Rica. No more spontaneous adventures. No more freedom or late night taco runs or midnight movies. For a moment, hiding the ugliness, stopping this “mistake” before it grew, that seemed better than the death of my freedom.

I understood, right then, why some women get abortions.

But I didn’t get an abortion that day. While abortion did cross my mind, it was drowned out by the thought of this is my baby girl. We didn’t know it was a girl at that time, but somehow I knew that baby was my little girl. I would take on the shame if I had to. I would lock up my freedom and throw away the key if that’s what it took. This little girl was my little girl and nothing, not even my own selfishness, could take her away from me.

Some months later, while I still felt ugly and ashamed, while I was hurting and depressed, God began to paint my heart with grace.

It’s ok, baby girl, he told me. It’s ok. This is why I died for you. For this. Don’t you remember? While you were still a sinner, I died for you.

It all made sense. That’s what grace was. It was for the sinner, for the imperfect, for the ugliness in our hearts. I didn’t feel worthy of the grace, but that’s exactly why it was given to me.

In his grace, I found beauty. Her name is Sofie Grace. And I’m so glad God chose me to be her mama.

** If you have had an abortion or are thinking about having one, know that you’re not alone. If you think there’s no other option, there are women who will be there for you and would love to help you. Love and grace are for you too.


Twenty goals for twenty-fourteen.

1. Go to Honduras with Rafael and Sofie.

2. Pay off all non-student loan debt.

3. Pay off (at least) one student loan.

4. Lose 40 pounds.

5. Get in the habit of reading the Bible and doing devotions every day.

6. Get life insurance.

7. Join Women’s Ministries.

8. Be involved at church.

9. Hike on Mt. Rainier with Rafael, Sofie, mom, Seth, and Nate.

10. Buy a house.

11. Have a tea party with friends.

12. Go to these parks with Rafael and Sofie: Discovery Park, Golden Gardens, Deception Pass, Carkeek Park, and Alki beach

13. Be a better wife and mother.

14. Go swimming with Sofie.

15. Go to a Sounders game with Rafael.

16. Go kayaking with my mom.

17. Spend more time with my brothers.

18. Volunteer (possibly tutoring in Spanish/English or at a radio station).

19. Legally change my name.

20. Be in control of my depression.

(21. Blog more often)

What are your goals for this year?

To prepare a place for you.

Since moving to Washington, we’ve been living at my mom’s house. It’s nice to be with my family, but I am desperate to move out with my new little family and have a house of our own. Since Rafael will be starting his new job soon, we’ve decided to stay with my mom for a bit longer to save up for a house instead of moving into an apartment.

Owning a house seems so far away, and yet it’s so close! In just a few months we could be looking at buying a house. So of course that means my daydreaming has begun. I dream of what the living room will look like, of putting books on a shelf and having hardwood floors and a pretty rug. I dream of the light coming in through the living room window in the morning and how that will look with the window open and the white curtains blowing in the breeze. I think of the colors I want to use in my kitchen and which Kitchen-Aid appliances I need to choose in order to match the walls.

I think of sitting at the kitchen table that we have yet to purchase, sipping a cup of coffee that I made in my own coffee maker, and reading my Bible while Sofie plays happily next to me. (It’s a dream.) She’s already crawling by then, or dear Lord, maybe walking. The house is quiet except for the hum of the washing machine and of the dish washer. In my daydream I look more like a mom, I’m a little bit older (not sure why I had to dream that up), and I anxiously wait for friends to come over for a cup of tea.

So, it’s a dream. Not all of it will come true, but in my head it’s perfect and I am so anxious to be able to prepare our future house. I’m ready to finally be able to nest in my own place, to create a room for Sofie and decorate the living room, to choose colors for our bathroom, and to find the perfect sofa for cuddles and sick days.

All I want is a place for my family to come home to. I want a place to call our own, where friends and family can come to lay their heads and laugh and share together. It’s what occupies my mind most days, and I wonder about what God thinks as he is preparing a place for me.

In John 14, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

God created men and women in his likeness. I imagine that we each got a piece of him and that’s why men and women are so different. The desire to work and to provide for the family, that is a gift that God gave men. And the desire to prepare a place, to make a home for the family, that is a gift that God gave women.

Just as I am anxious to prepare a place for my family, I wonder if God is thinking of us as he prepares a place for us in heaven with him. “I can’t wait til Hannah gets here!” he thinks. “It will be so wonderful to have her home with me!” I wonder what Jesus is doing to prepare a room for us. What kinds of things will he put in the room? Will it be a room that is filled with God’s glory? I imagine it will be. But will their be beds and rugs and kitchen tables?

There are so many mysteries that we won’t know until we get there, but I imagine God is just as ready to have us home as I am to have a place to call home.

Dear Sofie

Dear Sofie,BbehC1OCIAAXaN3

Every day I want to tell you how much I love you, but it seems that there are too many ways to tell you and not enough hours in the day. But I’ll try to tell you as best I can.

I love the way you cross your legs when you’re cuddling or sitting in my lap. You are a little lady, and you seem more like a little girl than a little baby. (But don’t rush it, you’re still my little baby.) I love the way you talk to me so seriously, as though you never had something more important to say. I could listen to you for hours and I will. Whatever you have to say, my ears are listening and so is my heart. I love how your whole face lights up and your face dimples when you see me, especially after waking up from a nap. You are gorgeous, and your smile is infectious. I love the way you flap your arms when you get excited. You look a little like a windmill, but you’re my windmill, and I love you.

I love the faces that you make, with your raised eyebrows and your pouty looks, your big smiles. I love how you bury your face in my shoulder when you’re happy or when you’re tired, or when you just want to cuddle.

I love the way you look at the world. You are so interested in everything and you watch the world quietly, taking in every piece of it. You are such a talkative little girl, full of joy and baby squeals, yet you are calm and full of peace when you are with me.

I love to think about your future and who you will be. Even two months from now when you’re sitting up on your own, or four months when you are learning to crawl. I’m excited to see that little baby girl, excited to see her excitement for the world grow.

You bring me so much joy, and I know you bring your daddy joy too. We love you more than we could ever say. You are our little love and I am overwhelmed with joy that I get to be your mama.