Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Goodness of God


I have long enjoyed the song “The Goodness of God”. I love the idea reminder that God is ALWAYS faithful, and ALWAYS good and ALWAYS running after me. Especially when it is hard to see tangible reminders. So, I sing the song to remember anyway.

Four years ago I was standing in church singing this song with tears just streaming down my face. I could barely get the words out. I KNEW that God was good, that God had been good to me, but in that season I was struggling to see the good. It was one of those seasons that I knew was hard when I was in it, but I couldn’t fully grasp how hard it truly was until I looked back. But there I was singing the song because I KNEW in my heart it was true, and I so desperately needed to know that the goodness of God was running after me. One of the main reasons I was clinging to the promise of this song in that season was because of intense challenges with Peter, which is going to be important in a minute.

And then sometimes the goodness of God shows up in ways that you just can’t miss.

Saturday night I had the delightful opportunity of taking Peter out on a date! We planned it all week. Peter wanted to wear fancy clothes and go to the fancy mall….and eat at Panda Express (not so fancy). We dropped off his brothers and off we went for our adventure. Peter and I had the best few hours. We ate yummy food and ice cream, we bought Legos, we rode the escalators AND the elevators. The entire time I was thinking “I never dreamed of this”. Never in my dreams for Peter 4 years ago in that hard season did I think that we would have a normal outing to the mall when he was 7. Never did I think he could read all the signs we passed in the stores. Never did I think he would look at the mall map and find our way through the mall. And there we were in this space where I could all but reach out and touch the goodness of God.

Like I knew, that the song was true that even when I couldn’t see it; the goodness of God is always running after me. I had no way of knowing that within months of that darkest night when I was crying in church that Peter’s vision would miraculously improve. I had no way of knowing that God was about to do even more than I thought to ask that Sunday in church. We didn’t deserve it. We didn’t even ask. But God was always holding us in his hands and his goodness was always running after us.

Sunday morning, we went to church and I bet you can guess the song we sang? OF COURSE, it was “The Goodness of God” because God also just likes to wink at me like that. I thought I would cry when I heard the opening chords, but I never did. I just sang and sang with the biggest smile on my face! His goodness is still running after me.


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Processing Endings Well


                                                                      (A picture from the evening, just because I felt like Cinderella)

My Saturday night was magical.

One time a year, my husband and I get FANCY dressed up and attend a fundraising gala for Encompass, a local pediatric therapy clinic. We go all in on this night. We arrange for overnight babysitting (thanks, Boppa and Grandmom-mom), we arrive to our hotel early in afternoon to rest and get ready for the evening event.

To be honest, the anticipation of this event has helped keep me going over the last few weeks. Weeks filled with some big challenges with kids, many medical appointments and tests for family members, and a full-scale review of an educational plan for one kid. All on top of daily life of a big family and the beginning of the school year. I just kept looking to Saturday night and dreaming about my dress and the fun and the food and the full night of sleep. On Friday I got my nails done and packed my bags, I had almost made it.

Then came Saturday and it was amazing, and I soaked in every minute of it. This year, I was gifted a stunning ball gown and I felt like Cinderella. I came home on Sunday happy and rested. (You can ask my husband about how he won half a hog in a silent auction sometime)

And it was over and all that was left of my fancy, long anticipated evening was the still glittery nail polish (which I am still looking at as a type). The event that had kept me going was done. Now what?

This is where all the work I have been doing on endings comes up yet again. Life has a whole lot of endings, so we need to learn how to handle them well. Otherwise, we can fall into two categories, one where we feel sad that it is over and then the sad gets attached to the event and we don’t even want to think about it because we think about the sad way we felt when it was over. The other one is where we decide it isn’t even worth it to anticipate anything because it always ends. Either way, our lives become generally more disappointing.

There is a healthier way to process the end of something we looked forward to and loved very much and now it is over. The key is we must process it. We need to finish well, even a Saturday night out may need some processing to finish well. And how do we do that? Here are some ideas:

Send a thank you. If there was a host/hostess of the event, send a thank you with an anecdotal highlight of your evening. Tell them how much it meant to you. Maybe send a picture of the event because hosts do not generally get to take many pictures. This doesn’t have to be complicated. In this story, I just sent an email with pictures attached on Monday.

Wrap it up. Do what you need to do to wrap up the event on your side and put everything away. Staring at a pile of unfinished business because you don’t want to think about the event being over is just going to bring you down. This is one reason I recommend unpacking as soon as you get home from a trip. In my story, I was given some phone numbers that I will need to follow up with in about a month, so I put the contacts in my phone and tossed the papers and cleared my desk. Just little things, but they all add up either to wrap up the fun or drag us down.

Find what’s next. A quote attributed to a few people goes like this “everyone needs something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.” I think these are words to live by and yet, the last one is not often done. If we are not careful, we just put our heads down and carry on. So, my last recommendation is to find your next thing to look forward to now that this one is over. My mom keeps a daily countdown on her phone to her next thing and she will reset it almost immediately, even if it is for 200 days later. She has her eye on the next fun thing to keep moving towards.

Having fun is important and on the hard days those things to look forward to and the memories once the event has past is something that we all need. Let’s process them well, remember them fondly, and look forward to the next thing…even when all that is left is the sparkly nail polish.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Marking the End of Seasons


For the past few years, we have had the opportunity to use a pool that is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Our kids love to swim so it has been our tradition in these years to be one of the last families out of the pool on Labor Day. Just how long can we make this season last, we ask ourselves as the shadows move over the pool. Then it is finally time to go and we head home from the pool for the last time that year. It is a time of transition between seasons. When we get home, I take a few extra minutes to clean out the swim bag (pro tip: IKEA bags make the best swim bags), putting away the sunscreen and hats, clearing out the leaves and wrappers. My husband asked why I take the time to do that routine in that moment. The practical answer is that when we swim the rest of the year, we do it indoors and we don’t need all the same things.

But the real answer runs deeper in my soul. It is a finishing of the season. It is a moment to put away, but also a moment to be thankful for a season well lived. It is a recognition of an end. As a society we seem excited for the next season, whatever that may be, but we don’t take as much time to think about the season we are letting go. Taking the time for this small physical ritual helps my heart with the more soulful feelings about the passing of time. To mark the end is just as necessary for my soul as it was to celebrate the beginning.

Summer is a hard season for me to let go. We live in a climate that has a short window of summer weather. I adore summer weather. Summer always feels too short. The ending of summer means shorter, darker days. It can mean my soul feels darker, too. But if I mark the ending and finish out my season by putting away and reflecting on the season, not to be sad that it is over, but to be grateful it was lived, I can let it go a whole lot easier.

In a few weeks I will change out the clothes in my kids’ dressers. I will make room for sweaters, setting aside the shorts. Not only does this ritual keep their rooms clean, their clothes easier to find, it helps me to process the passing of time. They may not wear these clothes again next year. It is as much spiritual organization as much as it is physical organization.

I have learned that if I take these moments to finish the small seasons, these yearly rhythms well, that I am better at processing much bigger life transitions between seasons. Our youngest child began Kindergarten last week. This is a big, exciting new season for her and our family. My parenting workload is undergoing a shift it hasn’t seen in years. I have been marking the end of the season of babies at home. I have done physical things to mark the end of the season, this summer I dropped my work and went to play outside as often as I could. And I have marked the end in my soul with much thinking and journaling about the last decade. It was 10 years well lived and I am grateful. My soul just needed to sit with those feelings and it could because of my small practices over time of marking the end of seasons. Seasons will always come and go, may our souls find comfort as they do.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Night Before Kindergarten

We have been preparing for weeks, or months, well, truly, for years (read below). Tomorrow is the day. Peter will put on his backpack, make his way down the block, get on the big kid bus, and finally go to Kindergarten.

He is ready.

My head is ready.

My heart is so not ready.

I promised myself years ago that I wouldn't totally lose it when my kids would go to Kindergarten. There are so many parents who would give anything for this moment who won't see their babies until heaven. I get mine back by dinnertime.

And I have kept that promise, yet there is also a tug at my heart with all the feelings on the night before Kindergarten. Especially for Peter....

Because 5 years ago our world was rocked by his ONH diagnosis. I have written a lot about that journey, but this week holds a special place. One of the questions I asked early on, like any mom would even though no one can exactly answer, was "what will his life be like? "what will he be able to do or not do?". Like good professionals, no one had an exact answer about the future but the one "long term" goal that was noted was main stream, general education Kindergarten with support for his vision. As he got older we learned that would mean attending a different school than his brothers. That was fine, as long as he had good support. Then a couple years ago his vision made a big leap and he was no longer in need of his white cane or learning Braille. He progressed academically in leaps and bounds. So not only is his starting general education Kindergarten tomorrow, he will be at the same school as his brothers. I never even asked or imagined and God answered anyway! So my heart is celebrating!

But more than any of my other kids, Peter has been a full time job. We met his diagnosis with our heads held high. There wasn't anything I wouldn't try or therapy I would turn away for the first 3 years of his life. I researched, called, explained, tried out new ideas like our future depended on it. Because it did. And it worked. God made little brains to be very flexible and Peter's hard work helped grow his brain in new ways. Then tomorrow, someone else has Peter for the majority of the day and that feels very very strange after the last 5 years.

Peter is also my last little boy, and while Ellie will be the very last to school, this #boymom is feeling fragile tonight. So my tears are just close to the surface as I write this.

Peter is ready to go. Peter will do great things. I said when Peter was a baby that God had a special plan for Peter because God made Peter special. I know this in my head and my heart. So I will watch him get his backpack, walk to the bus stop, and head to Kindergarten knowing that the world needs a special Peter, but there will probably be a few tears in my eyes as I walk back home.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Joel and the God who restores

 I have been a mom for a little over 9 years. At this season most people would know me as being a mom of 4 kids. I come in with a (fairly well behaved) circus. It wasn’t always this way. There was a season where I was known more for being the lady who really wanted kids.

While I have been a mom (through the miracle of adoption) for 9 years, I found out I finally had a viable pregnancy about 8 years ago. We were still just thrilled God had given us ONE baby, yes, we wanted more but we were not going to ask for too much. Then this second miracle baby was on his way and we had to name him.

It would sound really cool to say that I poured over my Bible and found just the perfect name for our second son. It didn’t happen that way at all. The real story is we wanted a second name from the Bible, then sorted through names we liked or people we would want to name our kids after. That is how we came upon Joel’s name; we both respected a family friend named Joel and decided to name our son after him and it was just super convenient the name was also in the Bible.

Confession: I am not certain I read the book of Joel any time in the decade before I wrote that name on a birth certificate. I did look up the meaning of the name, “the Lord is God”, which seemed a fitting name for a baby who was such a miracle. So, there was that.

Fast forward a bunch of years and recently a preacher referenced a verse from the book of Joel. Not a common book to come up in a sermon. Fun fact, I learned recently in my studies that Bible scholars don’t even know enough about Joel to know what time frame he was even alive during the years of the Old Testament so he doesn’t come up much.

But that verse? I hadn’t found just the perfect name for Joel, but God had. The book of Joel talks a lot about bugs. Lots and lots of destructive bugs. Then, in Joel 2:25 God says, “I will restore to you the years the swarming locust has eaten…” (ESV). God will restore the lost years. The hard years. The years of so much sadness. God will restore them to Israel.

I love it! I had these years where I had miscarriage after miscarriage. I had no way of knowing in that season that I would one day give birth to three babies. The “years of swarming locusts” doesn’t feel like too dramatic of a spin for the depths of infertility.  Turns out God had a restoration plan for me, too.

Today I look at Joel and think “these are the restored years”. I didn’t really expect one biological child, much less three of them. Joel is my in-the-flesh reminder that God restores. When the current season isn’t going quite like I wanted, Joel is my reminder that God has a way bigger plan than my wants. I think God knew my faith would need some really tangible reminders, reminders I could actually hug and snuggle, that He is the God who restores.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021



A good place to start writing for the year is my word of the year. I never push a word for the year, it either comes to me or it doesn’t, if it is forced then it is probably not a good fit.

In 2020, my word was “enough”. This started with a little sign that said “you do enough, you have enough, you are enough”. I was struggling with expectations, largely those imposed upon myself to be and do more. I had no idea what was going to hit the world! What I learned from my word varied as we moved through that unusual year. Our family was enough when we couldn’t see anyone else. Our home was enough when we were in lockdown. My stamina was enough to be there for my children all day every day. I didn’t accomplish what I had set out to do, but what I did do was enough. I think that was the overall take away. I really was enough being just me.

As we walked through an ever-changing year, it was hard to feel peace about the future and plans were impossible. As I watched a child fall apart, again, it was faith that kept me going to the next day. God has been faithful before and he would be faithful again. One of the songs I listened to over and over this year was “Goodness of God”. I love this song because I know it to be true that “all my life You have been faithful”. God has never not come through for us. God has always been faithful.

As life for my family changed, as my husband’s job changed and my kids came home for school, my focus shifted more into my home, rather than the speaking and writing out in the world I was expecting to do. At first it chaffed a little, in the middle I was just trying to stay afloat so I didn’t even think about it much, in the end I realized I was being faithful to my family. The very job God had given me to do. I did a reflection and planning retreat a few weeks ago. I wrote about what I wanted my life to look like a year from that day. The result of my thinking and writing was that I am moving forward on the path I need to be on. Really, that I need to remain faithful to my family, my faith, and the roles God has given me. There was nothing especially profound that came out of my retreat. Or maybe it was profound simply because it was simple and quiet….be faithful.

There was my word for the year in two places. Faithful. God has been and will be faithful for our family. He will direct our steps, especially in a season of unknows (when WILL school start again, anyone?). I will be faithful. I will lean in to the roles of wife and mother and friend and encourager. When I am chaffing against what seems like a lack of progress, I will remember that God is faithful and I will be, too.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

On Redemption

Redemption is a beautiful concept. To take something, or someone, that was lost or broken or hurt and saving it or them. I can’t think of redemption without getting some tears in my eyes. I love the idea of something or someone being saved, being rescued. Maybe because I can so deeply relate to needing redemption.

I have had several moments in my life when I needed saving. Quite frankly, I need the redemption of Jesus daily. But some seasons stand out as a having a moment of redemption. When the darkness became light. When the valley path started rising to the mountains. When beauty rose from ashes and tears. Today is a day where I celebrate redemption.

It was eight years ago today that I became a mom.

It wasn’t at all the way I expected, but it was the path we came to be on. The path that led to redemption.

In fact, my plan, after a battle with infertility was to give birth on February 22, 2012. I had finally gotten pregnant in June the year prior and this was my due date. Until it wasn’t because I miscarried. Again. The events following that miscarriage showed us that the path we were to take to parenthood was the path of adoption.

The path of infertility and adoption was one of my lowest valleys. It felt dark. It felt lonely. It felt stagnant.

And then came the redemption. The saving. On the very day I thought I would give birth to a baby; one was placed in my arms. I felt the saving. I felt the weight of the darkness start to lift. I started to see the mountain path. My world had felt upside down and this little boy was turning it right side up again. I was a mom for the very first time.

The light was dawning and would continue to get brighter in this corner of my life. Parenthood would prove to have its own challenges (of course!), but my season of longing for a baby was redeemed. There was beauty rising from the ashes in my soul. My tears were tears of joy in the morning.

Adoption is considered a triad relationship: the child, the birth parents, and the adoption parents. We had a blessed opportunity to spend time with Isaac’s birth mother in the days before and after Isaac’s birth. We heard her story. We listened deeply. We cried with her. Yet, there was redemption. I don’t share her story or the beginning of Isaac’s story because they are not mine to tell, but I can say that the moment he placed was in my arms, there was a lot of redemption in the room. How could a mom not think about the woman who gave birth to her son on his birthday? She was first on my mind this morning. She gave me a gift. A gift of redemption. I hope she still feels redemption, too.

I love celebrating Isaac’s birthday. Today he opted to spend the day at home with his family playing with Legos. I am listening to him banter with his brothers as I write this. The story wasn’t at all what I expected when I wanted a baby. But this story has redemption and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.