Monday, December 31, 2018

Great is His faithfulness

By Mary

There are less than two hours left in the year 2018. On the one hand, I have no idea where this year went, and on the other I'm so glad it's finally over. Every year comes with it's mix of ups and downs, and I can't really say this year has been that much more extreme compared to others. But it's been hard. Often lonely. Perhaps one of the darker years of my life, yet still full of light. And one that has yielded growth, I believe. Growth that I hope will continue into the days ahead, in this new year and each one that comes after. Because God is faithful. In every way, in every thing.

I see His faithfulness in so many ways, so many things. Just now, I'm so grateful for the way His faithfulness is pictured in the faithfulness of the friends He's blessed me with. I found a card written by one dear friend years ago that spoke encouragement to me yet again today because of the sweet words written then as well as the continued presence she has in my life even from miles away.

And Alanna. Alanna and I first really spoke to each other at an AWANA pizza party one November fourteen years ago. We've been friends for over half of my life, and while we haven't lived within walking distance of each other for more than 8 years now and far too much time goes by between when we talk, it's like nothing really changes. It's such a precious blessing. This coming year I could resolve a lot of things-a lot of good, helpful things. But what I want most of all is to treasure His goodness and faithfulness in every form in my life and to praise Him with my whole heart.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

the way you love me

by Alanna

It was Thanksgiving week.
I tried so hard all week, fought for joy and won.
Thursday we feasted and laughed
ate cheesecake with our toddlers by candlelight
But things built up in me and around me
and on Friday I fell apart.
I bared my soul and let you into that darkness
but your words hurt that day.
Because you are only a man,
and truth is there's only so much a man can take.
So I fled deep into myself and pushed you away
And when you came after me with love and apologies
I drove you away.
You tried so hard but I was afraid.
Swallowed lies and truth all mixed together
about who I am and who I'm not
and who I wish I could be.
I want to be here for you,
to feel whole and to love you from that wholeness.
But truth is we are all broken
and me most of all.
So I left the house
left you wondering why God had given me to you.
I took the kids and cried it out at a cold park
while they played unawares.
I thought you'd never come
couldn't see redemption in all the mess I had made.
But you came for me there
broke through all my defenses
and I heaved great sobs standing there in your arms.
You whispered you would never give up on me.
And yes, it's true, we all deserve to be given up on.
All of us with our sin and darkness.
But that's why Jesus came, isn't it?
To stand in our stead, to pay the price
to name us beloved.
I can't expect perfection from you
just like you can't from me.
Only my Jesus is always safe
always understanding and compassionate.
He alone will never hurt me with words
when I bare my soul to him.
He is a guarantee.
But this I know with certainty my love.
I feel safe with you.
No, you are not perfect.
And sometimes your words will hurt.
But I am resolved not to hide from you
not to pretend I am someone I am not. 
Because this is true love.
Us, wading through this, broken together.
And I'd rather be broken with you than alone.
Thank you my love, for not giving up on me.
You are imperfect but you have given me
the clearest picture I have ever known
of Jesus
and the way He loves me.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Ladies, gentlemen, and respectability

By Mary

Years ago there was this song I'd hear on the radio with a line that ended "and any girl like you deserves a gentleman". I was initially irritated by the thought, like only certain types of girls should have a good guy. It wasn't long after my first baby was born, a girl. I didn't like the idea of her growing up with that being a prevalent concept-like a girl had to look or act a certain way for a guy to treat them with decency. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was a flip side to it as well.  My son was only theoretical at the time, but I began to think about him and how I'd want him to be treated by a girl. And while this particular song was most likely shallow enough to be mostly referencing the girl's appearance, there was a lot more to it than that for me. The bottom line is that while I want my children to be treated well by others, always, I'm not necessarily going to expect it unless they are also treating others well themselves.

It's been said for the longest time that chivalry is dead: well if a real gentleman, or a knight in shining armor are few and far between these days, I can tell you that a real lady is a rare sighting too. They're both hard to find flourishing in an environment where even the thought of a moral compass is thrown out the window. Where morality is lacking, decency is lacking. So while I'll teach my daughters to hold out for a gentleman, I hope to teach them to be a lady worthy of one. And while I plan to raise my son to be a gentleman, I plan to tell him not to settle for less than a lady.

I want to raise both ladies and gentlemen, and that's what I expect them to be to whoever they meet in any type of relationship; personal, professional, passing acquaintance. Real men and women act in a respectful way towards others because of their own respectability, even when the other person hasn't done anything to earn it. We should learn to treat others with respect, but also everyone should learn to be respectable, to earn respect.

There seems to be such a men vs women mentality in the world lately. There's so much blame-shifting and finger-pointing and it's wearying to hear everyone pitted against each other and how everything is always someone else's fault. It seems everyone wants to be treated decently without behaving decently and nobody wants to take any responsibility for the part they play in any of it. I think it just gets harder and harder to bring up little men and little women, real ones, good ones, in a world that becomes more and more against them. So I'm so glad we don't do it alone. So thankful for grace upon grace and that all things are possible with God.

Friday, October 12, 2018


by Alanna

I lay in the dark on the kids' floor tonight. One sick toddler and two restless ones breathed in their beds nearby. Lullabies played on a borrowed CD. I remember one of these songs from when I was small. "Sleep sound in Jesus." So much nostalgia floods over me. Sharing a room for so many years with my sister, my best friend. Feeling safe and secure and loved. Falling asleep to that song in the dark. More memories tug at my heart. Singing songs in the darkness of South Africa. Singing with my "twin", singing with my cousin. Holding small dear hands until breathing became deep and peaceful. I prayed so much for those babies, cried so many tears with them and over them and across the ocean for them. I wanted so much for them. Families and homes. Jesus most of all. Most days I don't think about South Africa anymore.  But tonight I'm surprised at tears and this ache in my heart for them. I feel most strongly this absence where my first heart son took a piece of my heart and never returned it. I miss him tonight. I love him so much. I loved them all. I love these babies here too- these four under my roof, that God has given to me for this time. For only He knows how long. I cry tears for them too, because I want so much for them too. Wisdom, health, love, good friendships. Jesus most of all. Maybe I should spend more evenings laying on the floor in their room, just being near and hearing lullabies and remembering.  Remembering South Africa. Remembering my little one. Remembering how precious time is and how we have no guarantees. Remembering to love.   

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

grey days

by Alanna

Sometimes I try to deny that winter is coming. I still wear sandals every day, nevermind that it's in the 40s. I try to stick to a sweater and avoid the coat, still get outside every day despite the rain. I never ever check the weather forecast.

But now that we wake up to grey and eat dinner as it fades to black, I'm thankful I finally bought a sun lamp. I don't intend to give in to depression this winter, whatever that looks like.  Sometimes I feel like a caged animal, and I cry and shake my fists at the dumb clouds that won't part. But then I let my arms fall to my sides again because this is where God put me. And this is also where God put the clouds, and the cold, and the winter.

I'll probably never figure out if "seasonal depression" is a disease, or giving in to it a sin, or a little of both. I do know that there are days when my soul sings to Jesus but my mind is a haze and my heart dull. I fear sometimes. Fear the winter, fear dysfunctionality (which I can't even spell), fear not seeing the sun for perhaps weeks on end. But I know some things with confidence. That I will not give in to this darkness. That I will make my home a refuge of love and light. Play hymns and songs, bake good things, laugh and dance, invite people here. Whether or not my mind and heart will follow, my body and soul will sing to Jesus.

I also know that God uses broken people. Many lies whisper to me that this is not so. That my son is angry because I am not emotionally whole for him. That if I was not depressed my marriage problems would go away. That no one is blessed by me, that God cannot be glorified in me. But thankfully I know the truth to fight these lies. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (2nd Corinthians 4:7) God knows I am broken. He chose to make me His child anyhow.

I also know that God is all powerful, sovereign, enough. So every moment this winter, I will cling to Him. When I find myself weeping on the floor, when I can't think straight, when I have to apologize to my kids over and over again for my lack of patience, to my husband for my lack of a listening ear. When I miss the sun, when I miss the blue skies. I will come to Jesus. Every day, every moment.  I pray that in this fragile broken vessel of me, He will be glorified. That His great mercy would be all the more evident from the depths of my darkness. He is enough. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

prayers for grace and strength

by Alanna

God doesn't always answer the small prayers I want him to. That the line at the DMV would be short, that the baby would sleep during the wait, that he'd not need to nurse during lunchtime with the 3 toddlers, that the brown stuff smeared up the highchair could be banana and not poop. Life with four kids under four is going wonderful, as long as I redefine that word to match the expected for this season of life.  I have seen God answering other prayers. For grace, for love, for joy and laughter.( It's helpful to have a sense of humor when my 3-year old forgets to lift the lid and pees on top of the toilet). I think that God is teaching me a few things these days. One, to notice the things to be thankful for.  If I am nursing the baby and the one-year-old has a blowout, I thank Him that the toddlers are happily playing together. It could be worse.  If we had to give up at the DMV because it was taking too long with my four and the baby was screaming, I'm thankful that all three of my "big kids" were well-behaved, and that lunch was waiting for us in the oven. (Extra thankful for my delay-start oven). God is also teaching me to pray for grace, by myself, with my kids, especially in the moments. He is ever-present here. It is worth slowing down to stop and pray when I feel in over my head, instead of frantically trying to multitask to a new level.  These are lessons I am still learning, but I'm so thankful that I can always come to Him. He is ever faithful. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

drama queens and something better than capturing a city

by Alanna

My 3-year old daughter has reverted to babyhood lately. She crawls around and makes baby sounds, and wants her 2-year old brother to role play as her dad. Some of it is playful and healthy, and some of it involves a regression to temper tantrums and throwing fits when she is disappointed. Her fits are mostly quiet, fussing and whining and manipulative. A few days ago when she was pouting, she asked me to take her to the mirror. I was surprised because it's not a request I'd heard before, so I asked her why. She said she wanted to see what she looked like sad. I realized then that she was being a drama queen. Purposefully, intentionally, and she wanted to show off not just to me and whoever else was in the room at the time, but even in the mirror. I was astonished, but I showed her herself and then we made happy faces together and talked about how much more beautiful happy was than complaining.

Yonas and I are reading in Philippians, and that familiar verse came up about doing all things without grumbling or disputing. I know it; I had my kids memorize it not long ago. But complaining is ingrained in me. Habits that stretch back I know not how far, to speak negatively. It seems to be a popular thing in our culture too. To complain, to point out the bad in our society, our church, our government, our families, ourselves. Maybe that's why the author of Philippians goes on to say that not complaining would make us "shine as lights in the world", "in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation".  I don't want to be a drama queen. I don't want a heart full of complaining that manifests itself in my face and my words. I want a heart full of joy that overflows in abundant praise to Jesus. In constant remembrance and speaking aloud of His goodness.

We are memorizing a verse now that I feel is way over my toddlers' heads. "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city" (Proverbs 16:32). I chose it for my son, who struggles with anger that is vocal and aggressive. But I am realizing that my daughter and I need this more these days. A reminder that it is a powerful thing to rule your spirit. My husband and I walked around the lake after we read in Philippians, and I told him that often I want to do something "big" for God. But that maybe something as simple as doing all things without grumbling, maybe that would bring Him so much glory. Maybe not complaining would be better than capturing a city. So that is what I will ask for and fight for these days.

Monday, June 11, 2018


By Mary

"I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

It was something of a shock, moving to a Pacific Northwest winter from the coastal Carolina ones I'd become accustomed to. The change in temperature was welcome-I could actually wear these winter jackets and things I've had lying around for years! And really there was far less rain here than I anticipated. I had decided in advance we'd just have to figure out how to live like ducks and do everything in a continual drizzle. That hasn't been the case. (Coincidentally, I've read that both Chicago and New York get more rain annually on average than Seattle. Really!)

What has gotten to me are the cloudy skies. It might not be raining all the time, but overhead still seems so overcast. so. much. After one wintertime phone call with Alanna, having commiserated over the lack of sunshine in our new cities, I got to thinking about that verse, John 8:12. And several others, really. Ones about God being light, our light, ones about how we should be light. I'd never put much thought into the richness of light. It shows you the way, yes, it illuminates. But it also inspires. It motivates. It brings warmth. It beautifies. Nothing feels better than to sit in the sunlight when you've been battling sickness. It's restful, peaceful.

So while I'm still going to be wishing for plenty of sunny days during our time in Washington, I'm grateful for the reminder of all that God's light is to me-and of what He wants me to be.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Monday, May 21, 2018

another birthday

by Alanna

Yesterday was his birthday. The son of my heart, 9 years old and I'm not sure where all those years went. Did I meet him that long ago? We celebrated someone else's birthday at our small group, with brownies and ice cream. And I ate mine in celebration of my precious little one, not so little now. I don't shed tears anymore for him, because the sorrow in me is a distant ache for what I lost. I've gained so much more. I treasured moments yesterday, because through him God taught me that time is precious and I ought to spend every day loving with all of me. I remember counting down days in South Africa, the time before I had to say goodbye. But none of us really knows how many days we get with our children. Today could be the last. And even if we're given years, they fly so fast. I am struggling these days with being a parent, with the lie that I am not enough, and the bigger lie that I have to be. Yesterday reminded me that children are given to be surrendered. Not given to be held on to or hoarded or parented perfectly right. They are given by a good God to be surrendered, back into His heart. He loves them more than I ever could. He is enough. Enough for all the times I fail them. Enough to grow them into just who He wants them to be. Enough to guide them to the place He wants them. Enough to protect them. Enough to heal them. I know from experience that He was all these things for my first son. But in the daily I forget. Oh so quickly I forget. In some ways I want to live as if my children are an ocean away. Lots more praying, because you pray a lot when praying is all you can do.  Lots more trusting Jesus instead of depending on my own efforts to save them.  Even with all the crazy, every morning when I walk into their room I am astounded at the grace I've been given. I am the lucky one, to get them out of bed in the mornings. The one they want when they call "mama" in the night. I don't deserve these beautiful gifts, not at all. Nor do I know how to steward these gifts well. But God knows each child He has given me. The one of my heart, who is loved so well now in his own family. The three I can see and touch who live in my house. And the one inside of me kicking now.  God is powerful and trustworthy to care for them all. Lord, help me to hold them only ever in open hands.  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April in Minnesota

by Alanna

Trying to do things that are good for me, on days that are cloudy and cold. My husband was working at home so I left our youngest sleeping and took the two "big kids" to a close park. Here's some pictures, documenting thanks giving.

 Isabella was so brave, going down these huge slides!

Samuel wasn't so sure about the big slides, but he had fun on the smaller things.

 Isabella found this perfect circle of ice.

Which Samuel tried to lick....

We went home, dancing in the car to Ellie Holcomb music and made sunshine snacks with apples and yogurt. If the sun won't shine in April we have to seek harder for gifts. But they are definitely here! =) 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

words and heart change

by Alanna

I'm reading in James 3, and as usual convicted by my lack of self-control in the things I say. This time I am seeing something new too. I always believed that my thoughts and attitude were the problem. That if I didn't think so negatively, it wouldn't flow out into complaints. I think this is partly true, but also true that the things we say affect our hearts. I think this is especially true for people like me, who tend to speak before we think. I can feel pretty happy and thankful about life, and still speak negative things. Those complaints affect not just the people around me, but my own heart. 

"Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things."
 -James 3:4-5. 
I am asking God to change my habits. That I would speak thanksgiving out loud, speak things of joy and building up. I think that words have power, to change not just the people and world around us, but our own mindset and attitude. I want to give thanks. To speak well of my family to my family. To control my mouth.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


by Alanna

   I saw a man tidying outside his shop today, in shorts and a t-shirt. And I smiled because I think that, despite highs in the 30s and mountains of snow everywhere, spring is coming to Minneapolis. Somehow I think I expected it to come all at once, that the snow would disappear and trees would burst into life. I expect this of us too. That I will wake up one day to discover that my old sins are conquered, that I don't yell at my children or give in to despondency and hopelessness. I expect it of my family too. I long for it- sudden transformation. Winter gone without a trace. But it is not how spring arrives, and not how God seems to work in our hearts.  This slow changing is beautiful, but it is agonizing too. So I ask God for patience, and eyes to see the beauty in the changes all around me. My daughter asked twice lately, "Mom, why do those yards have grass?" Muddy though it looks, it's alive and no longer buried under white, and I'm thankful for this. I'm thankful for sunshine I can feel, for not having to put snow pants on the kids every time we walk out the door. I'm thankful for growth in our family too. That it's not hard for me to take my three tots to the mall by myself, because they listen well and don't throw fits when it's time to go.  That I am quicker to kneel when I am struggling, to tell my kids how much we all need Jesus. That we communicate better and more and that this is binding our marriage stronger.  I want to rejoice in this slow transformation. And someday....

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet....we shall be changed."

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


by Alanna

I originally titled this post "winter blues" and thought I'd write about all the ways the Minnesota winter may feed the fuel of my late struggles with depression.  But I am on a mission to change my thinking, to change my words, to change my heart. Not that I believe that speaking differently will guarantee the darkness not to return. But I am inspired tonight to battle against despondency ("a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage" says google.) So I will ask God for these things- hope and courage. And I will write about His faithfulness.

Here are a few ways He has blessed me this week.
1. My dad called on Monday, after one of the scariest and hardest weekends I can remember having emotionally. I don't know why he always calls after I've had a bad day, but he does. And I'm so thankful for him.
2. God answered prayers to take away nightmares.
3. A kind neighbor warned us to move our car so it wouldn't get towed during a "snow emergency" day.
4. A dear Colorado friend prayed on the phone with me during my roughest day, as she was having one too.
5. We got to go to a free zoo and conservatory. It was such a beautiful thing- the animals and then all those living green plants. Like a sanctuary of life in the midst of all the bleakness outside.
6. I saw evidences of the kids loving each other. My middle son, laying on the couch with a 102 fever, volunteered to share is own special blanket with his little brother. My oldest shared her special blanket later with my middle.
7. Today felt crazy because both my sons were sick and wanted to be held all day. But thankfully God granted them alternating naps so I was able to mostly hold each of them individually, all day long. And my bad hip isn't much worse than usual for it.
8. My daughter was a gem today. She was feeling fine and was so helpful with the other two and just a blessing to be around.
9. The weather was in the 40s this week! The kids stomped in puddles out front without snow pants or gloves.
10. I was blessed with the company of a new friend here in Minnesota. She inspires me to be a better wife and I'm thankful for that. 
11. God answered prayers for my parents and brother in Papau New Guinea!

"But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness."

Friday, February 2, 2018

Thoughts from house-cleaning

By Mary

We moved to our new house sight unseen. We were pretty much going off what was available within a short timeline, limited properties in our budget, even more limited properties making allowance for our dog, and finding an area where we felt pretty good about me being alone with the kids the majority of the time amidst mixed internet reviews of things like "love this city, there's no crime", and "my neighbor across the street was shot in broad daylight".

So when we moved, we knew we were dropping two bedrooms and about 1000 square feet off of our home size and were kind of just hoping for the best. And I'm so thankful for how well our things actually fit here, especially when we showed up and the layout was completely different from what I had anticipated from the pictures. I actually kind of love that the kids share rooms now, I like cleaning half the amount of toilets, and while I miss having a dedicated space for guests, at least it doesn't take me quite so long to vacuum. There's really only one thing I really don't care for-the kitchen counter-tops.

They're tile. And its not just that they're tile. The bathroom counter-tops are tile and they don't really bother me. They're these textured tiles that somehow cause my pots and pans to leave behind color that I have to really scrub to remove. They have these rounded edges that make it difficult to wipe crumbs up into the sink, or off the counter into my hand. And the grout lines are so thin, it seems impossible to really get clean. But its even harder to make it LOOK really clean. Somebody told me once that people loved the kind of stone counter-tops we had in Beaufort because the pattern camouflaged crumbs and spills so it appeared cleaner than it was. I never gave it much thought, but maybe that's part of why these tiles bother me so much. Maybe I miss the ease of the appearance of cleanliness.

On the other hand, the carpet here is sort of speckled, and I'm a little disappointed every time I vacuum because I don't get the impression of getting it quite as clean as I used to when I vacuumed the single-tone carpet where I could easily spot the dog hair and crumbs and crunched up leaves. I always felt so rewarded getting it really clean.

Somehow my random carpet-and-counter thoughts started me thinking about purity and righteousness while I was vacuuming the other day. I think it can be easy, comfortable, to let low standards make a little pattern on your life so you don't even notice sin's filth when it creeps in. How much harder to hold to God's standards of purity, where anything less than what is pure and lovely and noble and excellent makes a glaring mark. So I'm praying for my heart to be aligned with His, and for the reward of true purity to outweigh the ease of only having the appearance of cleanliness.

Monday, January 15, 2018

here we are

by Alanna

  We've lived in Minnesota for over 5 months now. And while I am tempted to call it this frigid state, I have to remind myself that winters here actually don't last forever. We had a beautiful few weeks in Colorado, living up the deep blue skies and drinking in the sunshine.  Spending time with my family that felt unrushed, unhurried, blessed.  It was the most relaxing couple weeks I have had since my first baby was born over 3 years ago.  I got to see some dear old friends who strengthened my heart.  Leaving Colorado (again) to drive home was very painful for me.  This cold city doesn't feel like home yet. It's unfamiliar, I don't belong.  I am learning people's names at church and helping in the nursery, but I feel far from having deep relationships with anyone. And my kids don't have any aunts, uncles, or cousins here.

  So I have had an ugly attitude.  Chosen to settle for darkness and cold in me.  Because honestly I don't want to be here.  I'd always dreamed my whole life of option A- living in Africa and doing mission work there.  If I can't have A I'll take B- living in Colorado where my family is and things feel more comfortable.  But C?  Living in this little house in this cold place with a growing number of kids and my mother-in-law?  For who knows how long?  I rebeled against this thought this past week.  And God, my patient Creator, lovingly gave me grace to see.  The importance of obedience.  Of submission to His plans.  Of "counting it all joy" wherever He has us.  A dear friend reminded me that if we are afraid of the future it is because we don't trust God's promises, or we ultimately want what we want more than what He wants.  I don't want that to be me.  I want to submit to my Savior.  He knows so much better than I do.  So I am praying for a constantly repentant heart, that rejoices, that chooses to love in the sphere He has put me.  That chooses to submit to His plans and rejoice in His love for me.  I don't ever want to fight against His plans.

  Amy Carmichael wrote these words about Psalm 4:7. They say what I would like to say, just much better.

"What David offered to his God was a heart that was utterly satisfied with His will.  There were no private reservations, no little whispered "if"- if only I can be where I want to be, and have what I want to have, then there will be gladness in my heart, O God; he did not say that- he did not even say, "By thy grace I am glad , I am as glad as I should be if I had those stores of corn and wine." He went further, he flew right out of all the restricting thoughts that might have caged his spirit, up and up into the free air of God , and he said, "Thou hast put a new kind of gladness in my heart.  It does not depend on what I have, it is more than that sort of gladness. It is a joy that is entirely independent of circumstances." 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Changing my prayers

By Mary

After Sofia was born, once we were back in our own house after the hurricane evacuation, I still felt a little overwhelmed. My parents had just left and I was missing them, missing also the help they'd been giving. I was trying to figure out how to make first grade happen for my oldest, when keeping the house clean and the kids alive seemed like a big enough job by itself. On top of that my one year-old was randomly waking up nightly after being a great sleeper for the longest time and I was already waking up with baby girl multiple times a night. It just felt like a lot.

But somewhere along the line I kinda stopped praying for more sleep, more help, less sibling drama.  Instead I began praying for more grace to pour out of me, more wisdom, more kindness, more joy. And I have to admit...when I'm praying this way, God never seems to say no.

New year, new baby, new zip code

By Mary

I guess I can't really say that the baby is new since she was born the beginning of September...but I'm not sure I even ever mentioned my fourth pregnancy, much less her birth or the daily ways she lights up our life. Sofia Nicole (wise, victorious) She's the sweetest thing. Part of me thinks the fourth kid just sort of has to be easy-going, but mostly I think God was just super kind and gracious and thoughtful and decided to cut me a little slack.

2018. Just crazy. I had to write the date for the first time the other day (signing in to urgent care unfortunately-shingles isn't the best thing to get when you're nursing a baby and you're everybody else's jungle gym) We had a whirlwind end to 2017, starting with Sofia's birth really. I checked out of the hospital the day after she was born and started helping my husband put up storm shutters over our windows for the hurricane coming our way. After that I tried to pack as best as possible for our newly grown family of six and evacuated to North Carolina where my husband had to work from the hotel for about a week, keeping accountability for everyone on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. On day two I was about to lose my mind so thankfully my parents changed up the timeline of their visit just a tad and came to save the day by meeting us at the hotel for the first half of their two week visit.

Once things began to settle from that whole adventure and we started getting in the swing of life with a newborn, homeschooling and AWANA starting up again, we had some surprise orders come our way, to about as far away as we could get-Washington state. And it's really amazing, because in that one week between being told about the move being a possibility and when the movers were actually packing up our house, God really worked a lot of things out. A family from our church mentioned needing temporary housing for their family while their new house was being built. And their timeline for moving in allowed for the perfect amount of time for us to move out and get the house cleaned up before they moved in. So we have a house on the market right now, filled with a sweet family till the spring time.

Just the fact that the military actually assigned us a moving company in the short window of time we had before leaving South Carolina was an act of God. And somehow this was by far our best move, all things considered. After some time in Colorado that went much too fast (and missing out on seeing Alanna by less than a month 😭) we hit the road again. This time we brought my mom with us which was the best idea ever. Honestly her presence made the road-trip a hundred times better, smoothed and speeded the unpacking process, and made the whole last month of 2017 a thousand times sweeter. We're all so grateful.

So here we are, at the beginning of a brand new year. I'm not sure what to think of it yet, or what to expect from it. It hasn't been the easiest start in just this one short week we've had. But I know that God is with us and there's no reason to fear. And there's more than enough reason to hope.