Thursday, November 15, 2012


Just us three.

Soon to be four.

Doing what we do. 

Watching the Lord do what He does.

We live in Memphis. Where it is crinkly and fallish.

Lately my days in the Mother Hood with my toddler and Bean bump are sunny.

Its been a hard year. But the Lord has been so faithful. And we are so thankful.

His mercies endureth forever and His love is new every morning.

So this thanksgiving season, as we do our days far from a lot of things, we give thanks for the nearness of our Savior, and the closeness of His grace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

what God has been saying: Genesis 1

Sometime mid September, I started attending Bible Study Fellowship with my neighbor Danielle. I looked forward to Leilani having some time in a Sabbath School environment with children her age, and I was glad for an opportunity to get into the word more consistently. I really did not expect for the Lord to meet me there like He did, and to have prepared my heart and life for this specific study.

This year, BSF is starting at the beginning and studying Genesis. While I have read through this book many times and am generally quite familiar with its contents, I have never gone in depth. I did not realize how much I missed in just a read through, and I was not prepared for how relevant to my life this study is.

BSF incorporates lecture, personal study and small group discussion for each lesson. From the first lecture on Genesis one, the Lord had my attention. I want to try and document here some of what I have been learning. Going back through my notes helps me to remember what I have covered, and writing it out again helps me to process it. I hope that something in what I ramblewrite will bless you too.

Genesis was written by Moses to remind his people of Who their God is, and who they were and where they came from. It is a God-centric story that clearly shows us that we are in His story, not the other way around. Unlike every other creation story from every other culture, there was no struggle. God simply spoke, and it was. Part of the beauty of Genesis is how clearly God demonstrates how much He wants us to know Him. Even from before the moment where He took Adam's face in His hands and breathed life into his nostrils, He has been calling out to us. We were created to know Him, personally and intimately. We were created in His image, to be a physical reminder to everyone and everything, of Who God is. We were created to bring Him glory and to point all of creation to Him.

Spending time focusing on who I am as a child created in the image of God with a very specific purpose has been very grounding. Slowly, the Lord is showing me who He created me to be, and what it means to be "created in His image," living with a clearer sense of purpose and intention is something I am striving to master.

Another lesson brought out in our first study was the process the Lord used in creating. His creative work began with a separating work. He separated light from dark, water from sky, land from water, night from day. "He prepares for the fullness of life through His separating work."

Our speaker said that first week during her lecture "Maybe you have just moved to Memphis, and you are separated from the familiar... you are feeling the pain of that separation. But these things are not wrong. They are preparing you... This separating work may feel severe, but it is a severe mercy... When all you have is God, you will find that God is enough. This is our God. He is our Father, and He is forming your life to prepare you for fullness."

Bam. Straight to my heart as if she was looking right at me in the midst of some discouraged homesickness.

God first formed before He filled. On Day One, He formed Light, before filling the light with the sun, moon and stars on Day Four. On Day Two, He formed the skies and sea, before He filled them on Day Five with birds and fish. And on Day Three, He formed the land before filling it on Day Six with animals and lastly, man.

Before He could form, He had to separate, and before He could fill, He had to form.

I recorded in my journal that day how "formless and void" my heart felt, and the Lord brought my attention to Genesis1:2. Over the face of the deep, in the midst of the nothing, His Spirit hovered. There was life in that darkness, and a future for that void.

He showed me that week how He was in the midst of my void, His "severe separations" in my life were in reality "severe mercies." God is carefully, intentionally forming my heart and my life in preparation for fullness. Yes, I am in many ways empty, but He is separating my night from day and forming land and sky from my murky waters. I can not experience the fullness that He intends without the separating and forming coming first. I was so encouraged by this look into His plan for my life and heart and so blessed by this study.

"Emptiness can be good... IF you allow God to fill it. The problem comes when we try to fill it ourselves. Sometimes we need to wait on God."

Monday, October 22, 2012

the way things look these days

October is drawing to a rapid close. Technically, it is fall. And some days it feels like it. But Memphis gets confused, and so we are having another week of summer this week. Hello 80s.

I am feeling much more like myself lately. In keeping with the roller coaster pattern of my life/emotions, I have been feeling generally pretty chipper. The house has more frequent "Oh look, someone takes care of things in here" days, food is cooked most nights and Leilani looks less neglected when she goes out in public. Here she is walking through a community garden in Germantown the other day. Thats right. I drove to Germantown to go look at a garden and chickens. MAMA IS BACK YALL.

This child is delicious. Look at her. Shes like a big piece of cake. (I think about food a lot these days. But really. She is scrumptious.) And seriously, does anyone have cake? It has been 30 minutes since my after lunch snack and I am starving.

I really needed fall this year. The cooler temperatures (generally) and the overall "fallish" atmosphere to things have been so refreshing to my heart. After a few years of summer loving, I am remembering my roots as an avid fall savoring, sweater wearing, chilly appreciator.

We get outside a bit more these days. Nothing like fresh air and the smell of nature to calm a person down. Leilani has discovered a penchant for pulling up weeds, wandering behind the shrubs, and digging in the dirt for rocks. It makes my heart happy (yet sometimes a bit appalled) to see her covered in grass clippings, dirt and leafy particles.

Although Memphis does not really "get" the whole Fall thing, she still manages to remind the occasional leaf to spruce up a bit. I can count on one hand the number of fully turned trees I have seen, they typical pattern that I usually notice is green, brown, then they fall off and manage to turn some shade of rusty something once they hit the ground. 

These little gentlemen are such blessings to my girl. She sure has been missing all of her cousins and aunts back home, but Simon and Harvey do a great job of keeping her occupied during the week. Thankful for these friends, and the laughter and mischief they bring to our mornings. 

We are all sleeping better these days. Leilani goes right down for her naps all by herself and has been sleeping through most nights. The insanely loud train still startles me awake, but she has seemingly adjusted.  Hugely thankful to the Lord for His grace in this area. Yall know how much Mama has had to fight the sleep monster with this child, I'm so relieved that for now, the war has been won.

Thankful too for sweet neighbors who spoil my smallish one with new tights and stripy, hooded tunics. We really have some of the greatest people to call neighbors. It is crazy, and so clearly the Lord's provision. Over the late end of the summer, while I was battling the first trimester woes (and some selfish self pity and homesickness and discouragement and...) these friends helped me keep sight of the rightness of being here, and daily make Memphis our home away from our other home. God knew we needed these guys, and it amazes me how He called us to all be here together.

Watching Leilani grow and learn and play every day gets me more and more excited to welcome our new little one. Motherhood sure is challenging, but she proves it every day to be worth it. Thankful for her grace with me as I blunder along, for her cheery companionship and conversation, and for how she shows me Jesus.

That's our lately. I really don't know how to catch up on all the months I missed documenting, but perhaps it is better to move on with the present. I was a sick crankypot for much of the past while, and I know my perspective was shaped by my physical circumstances.

I think the most consistent thing (perhaps the only consistent thing?) that kept me somewhat buoyant despite my droopy attitude, has been Jesus. I can not explain how faithfully He has been calling and wooing and encouraging these past two months. "The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen could ever tell." Every day I see myself more clearly for the child I am, and Him for the patient Father that He is.

That's all for now folks.

Coming up: What God Has Been Saying and Oh Look, I am Pregnant.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

its almost september.

obviously, i have been doing an amazing job of documenting the past few weeks/ months.

it is september.

mosquitoes, your days are numbered.

ladies and gents, i am a pregapottomas. but you knew that already.

in two days, Bean infant will be all of 12 weeks old. i have spent the past few weeks feeling less than amazing. apparently, a growing human is not a favorite neighbor of my stomach. i gag like a pro, but have managed to overcome getting sick every day after about a month of it. God is gracious!

this is my excuse for being so stellar at loosing track of the end of the summer.  

my heart is so ready for this new little one. april feels so far away! i cant wait for this baby to join our family. Leilani is quite ready for a sibling. i know she will be a terrific big sister.

but oh my goodness. i am really struggling to keep up with every day life. i am so thankful to feel such improvement overall, keeping food down is usually the norm, and less makes me gag these days. but my energy comes and goes in frustratingly unpredictable waves, and my get up and go, got up and left weeks ago.

my house is never clean. and i am not being modest and heavy sighing over a sock in the livingroom and some toys scattered across the house. overflowing trash cans, piles of laundry (washed and unwashed) plates with breakfast on them from two days ago sitting on the table... don't get me started at the science projects trying to grow in my kitchen. its really a mess. food shopping and prep often feels like an insurmountable task most days.

i am not discrediting the value and importance of keeping Leilani clean and fed (for the most part), or the physical work it requires to grow a baby person. but i really feel frustrated with my inability to maintain a "put-together, everything is under control" environment. my heart always feels heavy as i try to determine how much of my lethargic attitude comes from the genuine physical restraints of the first trimester of pregnancy, and how much is the result of a slothful heart. and how much of my concern and embarrassment is the result of actual responsibility or is it just pride?

so yes. every day life feels kinda out of control these days.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What is working these days?

I don't think that mothers/wives/women spend enough time celebrating and finding peace in the things that are working in life. We spend so much time bemoaning our failures in wifehood/motherhood/this-is-my-life-hood, that we lose sight of the Grace that covers us in so many other areas of our lives. I am probably the best example of this. I stress so much over what needs work in my heart, how far my marriage needs to grow, how often I fail as a mother, that I every day miss the good, the grace, and the right that God has blessed me with.

So I want to start this week off on a different foot. I want to give thanks for some of the things that are really working in my life right now. Not that any of this is because of anything good or skilled on my part mind you. I am a screw up. But my Jesus is a mighty kind Savior and He makes things good.

Memphis is working.

 We are home here. In only two months, the Lord has radically changed our lives, and poured out His grace over our hearts. We have made the adjustment in unbelievable time. Completely unexpected, and such a blessing. The Lord has allowed us to be fully present here, and while we miss so much from Maryland and while our hearts truly miss our families, we are not discontent. He has brought us here, and so far, we love it.

Running is working.

Wait, what? Yes. I run jogwalk now. This may shock many of you to your core, and you may be questioning your reality. I feel the same way,  but somehow, I am actually getting up in the 6 o'clock hour three days a week, to pursue physical exertion. And it is working. God wakes me up, right on time, and gives me the strength to sweat it out for two miles of jog/walk alternations. Thanks to some excellent purple swirly Mizunos gifted to me by my terrific sister Abi, I am working towards a goal of running a 5K (what the what?). There is one coming up in December that MTR participates in every year, but I am hoping to be ready for one at the end of August. Lord willin and the creek don't rise, I shall be consistent and make it happen. Waking up before Leilani every day, and running three of those mornings, is working.

Doodles are working.

Several times a week, I pick up a pen, and a doodle happens. Being intentional with the artsy stuff that makes me happy has never been a strong suit of mine. Frequency was usually prevented by a lack of motivation or inspiration or both. But lately, the pens come out every few days, I have also gotten out my glue gun several times, AND tried my hand at acrylic paint-by-numbering. I am creating with frequency, I craftish here and there, Leilani gets out some fingerpaint sometimes... And it is working. I am so thankful for every attempted and/or completed project. So excited by every finished dot and line. So happy to be pursuing colors and lines in odd spare moments. All creativity comes from the Lord, and I am so thankful for it. Being crafty more often is working.

Moments in the Mommyhood are working.

While I still have so much growing to do, I am so thankful to be at a place where I can see the growing that has already occured. I praise the Lord for the love and patience that He is nurturing, and for the little insights He is providing. Oh goodness, I am so far from perfect. I fail every five minutes at least, if not outwardly, in my heart for sure. But I am so excited to see that patience comes a little easier, that my spirit is checked a little faster, and that my love is (slowly!) becoming a little more selfless. Watching the Lord challenge and change my heart is as painful as it is exciting, and He is faithful to do both. His gardening in my character is working.

*wow writing that down and acknowledging it is so encouraging. i just got teary.*

Playtime is sometimes working.

She pitches the biggest fits over sharing almost anything. They don't really see eye to eye, (metaphorically and physically) and the mediating of most playtimes boarders on stressful. But I am watching my daughter learn how to be a friend, and it is good. Every time she decides to share, every friendly exclamation and pleasant interaction is a victory. She is progressing through a difficult, and very important stage in her development, and I am really proud. The Lord is working in her heart too. What a blessing!

She is sleeping easier and with consistent uninterrupted nights, she is eager to try potty training, she is so affectionate and cheery, and her vocabulary is incredible. Leilani is a fabulous little girl, and I am so thankful to be her Mama.

That is a whole lot of good, a whole lot of positive, a whole lot of Grace. God is so good, and He is working in my life!

Now it is your turn. Step on that ho-hum and discouragement and find where God is giving you grace everyday. Ask Him to give you the eyes to see Him.

Be of good cheer! Be excited and encouraged.  

HE is working.

What is working in YOUR life these days?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sunbeams and Grace

I have never been a summer fan. It gets hot in Maryland, but somehow, it feels more intense here. When I first came to Memphis, I was sure I would melt into a sticky puddle, that I would never be able to accept this southern summer and that I would be confined to the reaches of my air conditioning. When the AC broke in our car, I felt that I would evaporate for sure.

But in keeping with the pattern of our story so far, I have instead found His grace, waiting to meet my expectations. Summer has enveloped, but this year, I feel embraced rather than smothered. The sun shines bright, rather than glares, and I suddenly find that summer seems to dance. It almost feels alive these past few days, breathing hot, glistening, shimmering off of the air itself. Its weight is a tangible presence, drenching us in perspiration within minutes of stepping into its gaze. But the whispering, occasional breeze wafts by, bringing a coolness that can only be experienced in the midst of a flushed heat. Summer has not changed, but I think my heart has. He has given me the grace I needed to stand up under a hot summer sun.
 We left Maryland a month ago, headed towards a home we did not really know or understand, flying along on this Great Adventure that seemed overwhelming. But from the first hour of our departure, we met with Grace. His Faithfulness has brought us here, to home. Our hearts miss the pieces we left behind with the nearness of our loved ones, but He has spared us from the ache that I so feared. Instead, I feel the warmth of their love that has traveled this distance with us. It closes the separation and fills it with nearness. We are so thankful for the friendship and family that has prepared us for all of this newness.

We took a leap into an unknown future last September, and many others came before. Following the Lord to Memphis seemed so difficult. But His grace wrapped us from behind and pulled us along every step of the way.

Just a month later, we can already see many of the fruits of His plan. He is faithful. His lovingkindness knows no limits.

We have been here mere weeks, and I feel that my horizons have opened up, and the sky seems higher. I no longer feel limited and held back in my day to day. I feel much more free than I have ever felt as a mother. I feel full.

We sat around a table full of smiles and laughter at lunch today during a break in Ryan's classes. Around the room, Leilani ran, often chased and twirled by new friends, all godly people that I already admire and respect. Only days later, and the day to day companionship and camaraderie is unlike any I have experienced before.   

He is so good, and I am so thankful.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We have moved. And we are now connected to the interweb.

*Cue an enthusiastic dance number in celebration of both*

Today marks the completion of our third week here in our new city. We be Memphians, yall!

***To read the whole story on why we are out here, check out my short version here,  or Ryan's more in depth look here. ***

I sit in our sunny little apartment, whilst my toddler sleeps, and the top hits from Stax Studio jazzes and snazzes up the calm. I am writing today, freshly connected to working wifi for the first time in three weeks. I wish I could say "look at how much time I survived without google and facebook!" but alas. My iphone kept me rolling along.

Thanks to the iphone, I managed to document much of the past two month's goings on, despite my lack of connection to blogger. Let me (as usual) play catch up on the story.

We packed up #701.
Many of our dear Marylanders helped.
Stuffing 100% of one's possessions into boxes is tricky.
Please enjoy the enthusiasm that I fuzzily captured at the end of our last day:

Wow. I am so thankful for our three years in those sunny little rooms, for the love that built it, the love that filled it, and the love that we hopefully overflowed into the air for the next family to feel. It is my prayer that those walls will forever be filled by His presence, regardless of who lives there, and that our new renters (hallelujah for them) will feel the love that He flooded each corner with.

 On May 25, Friday, at 7:00 a.m., we left! My heart was heavy and I admit I was quite anxious about the drive. 18 hours is no joke, especially with a toddler in tow. After two nights spent sleeping in our parents' homes, we were already tired and missing "home."

But from that very first hour, He led us. His grace was behind and before, and He kept us the whole way. She slept, she laughed, she watched Finding Nemo and Hortnon Hears a Who about 100 times each, ate her body weight in goldfish and fruit snacks, but not once, not ONE time did she have a melt down or cause us stress. I saw His goodness poured out on us on our long drive from Columbia to Memphis. We knew we were on the right road.

We drove from Maryland to Eastern Tennessee with my family. Leilani and I stuffed in their truck with Dad, Mom, Esther, Hannah and Sam, while Elijah rode with Ryan who was driving the moving truck (with our car in tow!).


Friday night, we arrived in Jellico, Tennesee to spend that night through Sabbath night in my family's soon to be new home. (They will be relocating to Jellico sometime next year.)

Before we left early Sunday morning, my wonderful parents prayed over us, and all along the way (starting early Friday morning) we had consistently received cheers and prayers from our loved ones that we were steadily growing farther from. I admit, I left both mornings full of anxious thoughts, already feeling the ache of what we were leaving behind. But about an hour into our drive on the 26th, His peace conquered all of it. It was a glorious morning, full of coolness and sunshine.

Confident of our heading, and surrounded by love and His presence, we drove the 8+ hours to Memphis.

Just before dinner time, we arrived at my Grandma's house to spend that night with her, before heading to our new place early Monday morning. Coming to the house that I visited often as a child, this time to live in the same city, was such a surreal feeling. Pizza, salad and familiar faces helped.

Monday morning, we were Home.

And it didn't take long before everything felt comfortable again, though it took several weeks to settle in.

 At the start of our fourth week here, I can really say that Memphis is home. From that first week, we have been embraced and supported by our new community. The MTR has done an amazing job of establishing a terrific community of motivated, godly, friendly and devoted individuals, I am so excited to get to be a part of it.

Ryan has already started his classes, and is enjoying the new challenge and environment. We now know how to get aroundish, and my "Yall" is fluent.

We have a train, it likes to WOOOOWOOOO by every other hour during the day, and at the quietest parts of the night (4 am, really?). Leilani loves it, and both her and Ryan usually sleep right through those early whistles.

Summers don't play around here. We arrived on the hottest day of the year so far (a muggy 103+) and those first two days were staggering. But then the Lord had pity on us and gave over two weeks of MUCH milder, and often very pleasant weather. This week, the summer will be back from vacation. Hello upper 90s.

We have the best back porch to eat popsicles on.

Our front door that faces the lawn. We are the bottom right four windows.

I am so thankful that there is another mommy nearby (just a few doors down!) to spend the days with while our husbands are schooling. I at last have a stroller pushing, little person raising, summer adventure buddy! God is good, I am so thankful for the group of young wives (three of us are mommies!) that He has put me in.

We are really missing our Maryland people, but we feel so at home here already. He is establishing us, and we are so excited to be on this journey with Him!

There to Here! And done.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mama and Lei

Embracing the camera today with Emily and sharing a picture from this past weekend of Leilani and I.


Friday, April 13, 2012

A Family Filled Easter

I always felt like I  had the biggest family in the world. Growing up with 9 people around the dinner table, with 6 of them being your siblings, can do that to you. Add grandparents and my uncle and his family of 4 to many holiday/ weekend dinners, and that table feels the fullest and loudest that one could sit at. I loved how big and loud we were, and I enjoyed it when we were all together. When Ryan and I started dating, I quickly found out that I was wrong. HE must have the biggest and loudest family in the world. Aunts and uncles, cousins and kids galore make every holiday and family get together loads of fun. There is so much I love about my family. I am so thankful that Leilani has gotten to grow up this far with all of them surrounding her. Everywhere she turns she has a friend, a playmate, a Christian adult giving her a good example, doting grand (and great grand) parents, godly men and women and strong families. What an incredible blessing.

Wow. I am so going to miss them.

Yes. Anywhoo, Easter weekend was so much fun. I managed to only take a few pictures on my phone while at church and none at all on Sunday. Thankfully, Ryan's awesome cousin did. Here they all be.

Yay for blurry iphone photos! Mom and I wore coincidentally matching saris! *note: I can now twirl and pleat myself into a sari. All by myself. This is a huge big deal. * Also, my feet appear to be on backwards... That was my one photo. Here are the rest! (Thank you acca!)

The kids got sneaky this year and were trying to spy while we hid eggs. It is getting harder every year to make this even remotely challenging for the older few. We had to handicap the boys and told them they could only find the green and yellow eggs since they blended in the best... It sorta worked.

Leilani was just learning to stand last year. (oh my goodness, really?) So this was her first year running around with her cousins hunting down her loot. 
She was quite excited. And happily, did not seem to realize there was candy involved with this venture, and was only interested in her eggs. That will not last through next year.

Be still my heart. How is she this big? Its the pigtails I am pretty sure. She is still a baby despite the hairdoo, right?

The boys held an inspection to make sure none of the littles had collected any of their yellow and green eggs. When they got to us, I was covertly removing all of the candy from Leilani's pile of eggs. Cruel, I know. So the guys made out with the "leftovers."


Group photo time! The range of faces in these are amazing. Have I mentioned HOW OLD AND HUGE EVERYONE IS GETTING? Slow down already everyone! 

Leilani wanted none of family picture time. The eggs were far more interesting.

At least she sat still.

The past two? (Three?) years we have tried to get all the kids on this little couch for a picture. This year, everyone was too big (and we had a new member!) and they overflowed. What a nice looking bunch they are.

Now we come to this next series of pictures. I took one look and had to caption them all. Their faces were asking for words. It was like a preview of the future to when they are all teenagers.

(R to L)
K: So ladies, here is what happened.
R: Oh my goodness. I still can't get over how dreamy he was.
D: You guys are whack. It totally went down like this...
R: Oh my goodness. Did you tell mom yet?
L: Cut the chatter ladies, two cuties just walked in.

(L to R)
L: TOLD you he was cute.
R: Oh my goodness. I think I am in love.
D: Woah. Wait. Which guy? That one over there is funny lookin.
R: Oh no. Wrong guy. The other guy was cute. Trust me.
K: Guys, I found a bug. Seriously, come check this out.

 L: Ew, a bug?
R: You know, I still think I am in love.
D: Ok, ladies, enough with bugs and boys. I'm hungry.
R: Yeah, me too. I think we should eat...
K: Well we could always eat my bug.

...So I got carried away. It was just too much fun. These girlies have such great personalities and faces. Oh, and here are the cute boys.

I remember when Leilani was the little baby, now she is the big cousin! So great to watch families grow.

Then we all went to the playground after lots of sugar. This was a wise move. 5 minutes after getting into the car to head to my parent's house for dinner, Leilani crashed and was sound asleep, instead of being wired till midnight. Hurrah naps!

So as you can see, it was a fun filled weekend. I am so thankful for all of the terrific holidays that we have gotten to spend full of family and friends.