the light always finds its way in.

As soon as the sun begins to sink in the sky, a long strip of light stretches onto our kitchen floor from the corner window behind the sink. It’s an obvious brightness, and as it bathes our kitchen in warmth, I always wish we had more west-facing windows to let in the sunshine.

But I realized something this week as I paid attention to the golden hour. It doesn’t matter where the windows face. The sun reaches through the cracks and stretches as far as it can across multiple rooms. Its glow shifts and dances around our house, never minding the fact that most of the windows look north.

The light always finds its way in.

Someday, my kids will ask me what all this was like, and I’ll tell them in earnest—making sure they know all the ways the sun reached through the cracks, stretched itself into everything, and bathed us with its warmth.

“The light found its way in,” I’ll tell them. “The light always finds its way in.”

This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “Go Where the Light Is”.

thoughts on grief and hope.

It was late spring and after 10:00 p.m. when Jake suggested we get out of our apartment and go for a walk. I don’t remember any specifics about this particular night except that we ended up sitting together on a bench while I cried and Jake—wordless and steady—held his arm around my shoulders as they shook with each sob. The next morning we were set to board a plane that would eventually lead us to Africa, and I was completely convinced we were going to die at some point on this trip.

It sounds dramatic, I know, but my skills as a worst-case scenarioist have always been next level. I figured if the plane didn’t go down, something would happen to us on the ground, but if everything proved fine there, well, there was still the flight home to get through. My mind raced, and my chest tightened, and, still, I knew I would go.

A few weeks earlier, I had told a woman at my church I was feeling anxious about the trip and she assured me that I didn’t need to worry. “Everything will be fine,” she said. “You’ll see.” While well-intentioned, this encouragement didn’t actually offer me any peace because I knew two things: She was unable to predict the future, and all the things I was anxious about, while unlikely, could happen. They were actual possibilities.

A.W. Tozer once famously said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” So, in the midst of my fear and unrest, I took a close look at my feelings, and I asked myself what I thought about God. If the “worst” was to come true, would I still trust him? Would I still believe he is good?


In John 11, Jesus got word from his friends Mary and Martha that their brother, Lazarus, was sick. Jesus was, at the time, in another town, and he waited there for two days before going to see them in Bethany. By the time he arrived, Lazarus had already died—his body buried in the tomb for four days. Martha greeted Jesus before Mary, but they each said the exact same thing: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” To Martha, Jesus spoke about resurrection and belief, but he didn’t have words for Mary. Instead, when he saw her weeping, “he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” And then when they took him to the tomb, Jesus wept with Mary and the other mourners. A few verses later, Lazarus walked out of the tomb, wrapped in linen burial cloths but very much alive. “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Jesus had asked Martha. It seems safe to assume that this encounter with Jesus solidified their faith in him.

There’s a small detail I left out of the beginning of the story—a single word I have been thinking about constantly since I read this account last week. Right after Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he said to his disciples, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Then, John includes these two sentences: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

So. Jesus loved his friends, so he didn’t go to them right away. It’s tempting to want to put a “but” there, isn’t it? It doesn’t make sense. When we love others, we try to spare them pain and sorrow, but the “so” remains which means it matters. Lazarus died because Jesus loved them. Even more peculiar, then, is Jesus’ response when he sees Mary. Three times before he gets to the tomb, Jesus says Lazarus will rise again. There is no suspense here for Jesus. He knows Lazarus will live. Yet still when he sees Mary, he is deeply moved by her grief and weeps with her before, moments later, calling Lazarus forth.

This story tells me two things about Jesus.

First, sometimes he allows us to experience temporary, earthly suffering because he loves us. Now I will be the first to admit that this concept is mysterious and complex and hard to swallow especially in the thick of difficult situations, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be true. Not every prayer ends as Mary and Martha’s did, but Lazarus walking alive from his tomb reminds us that just a short time later, Jesus did the same. His defeat of death is our hope, and anything that solidifies our belief in the resurrection and the glory of God is for our eternal good.

But goodness and difficulty aren’t mutually exclusive, and Jesus also shows us in this story that we can hold both grief and hope at the same time. We are not meant to face our trials while blithely proclaiming, “Everything will be okay!” We can acknowledge pain and sadness while also trusting God’s sovereignty. This is such a kindness to us—a Savior who weeps over brokenness even though he knows everything will be made new in the end.


I have been keeping a journal for the past few weeks. As soon as I could tell the nature of the coronavirus was ever-changing and unpredictable, I knew all the specifics of this time would blur together if I didn’t take time to write them down. So every morning, I log the events of the day before: News updates, changes to our daily patterns, how we fill our time, and my feelings in the midst of it all which have been frenetic—matched to the nature of this current reality.

Friday’s pages will tell you that the kids and I watched Jake’s car pull out of the driveway, unsure of when we will see it come back toward us again. They will tell you that we decided it would be best if he stays out of our house until after the virus peaks because we know it is inevitable that he will be exposed in the emergency room. They will tell you that I wept on and off for two straight days over the uncertainty of when we’ll all get to touch him again and the fact that while many kids, years from now, will remember this strange time with fond family memories, our kids will remember it as the season when dad had to stay at least six feet away.

Like that spring night in the park eight years ago, this is another significant opportunity to ask myself what I think about God. If my newest worst-case scenarios come true, will I still trust him? Will I still believe he is good even when he allows a global pandemic to completely upend everything around me?

I will. My hope is not tied to my circumstances, and if this experience refocuses my life on the One who is in control, then it is for my ultimate good.

But, still, I will weep because acknowledging my hope doesn’t negate the brokenness of this world. I will weep for those families also separated. For those who are anxious. For those who have lost their jobs. For those who face financial hardship. For those struggling to feed their families. For those who are sick. For those who are dying. For those who will die.

I will grieve over the shattered state of our world. I will sing of the glory of God. I will hold both things in my hand knowing that Jesus does too.

cleveland: the last chapter.

At this exact moment, my computer is sitting on top of a black and yellow Sterilite tote. To my left are two cardboard boxes labeled “Master Bedroom Misc,” and directly below me on a completely different floor are 20 more boxes carefully stacked in the corner of our living room—teasing our kids to come climb on them. Unfortunately for the kids, too many of those boxes are labeled “Fragile,” and, come to think of it, the main place they play probably wasn’t the best storage option for breakable kitchenware.

In a few days, I will watch as our house is emptied of these boxes. I’ll stand in the empty rooms left in the moving wake and feel the fullness of the memories each wall holds. I’ll hear the laughter of our kids, the cries of newborn babies, and sound of Jake’s footsteps coming up the steps in the middle of the night. I’ll breathe all these memories in, and then we’ll load up the van and drive away from this house for the last time.

I’ve been trying to figure out what there even is to say about this chapter as we close and move on to something new. Where do I even begin? How can I possibly sum up everything the past four years has taught me as it’s all about to go in the rearview mirror?

I can’t in this small space, but what I can say is this: Just because something can’t last doesn’t mean it can’t last.

This story, after all, isn’t about me. It’s about God. And, whatever God does endures forever.

Take our living room, for instance, even in its boxed-up state.

A cream-colored carpet square covers most of the floor. It’s not very soft—scratchy to your face if you lay down flat on it. I know this because, when we first moved here, it wasn’t unusual for Jake to come home from a long day at work to find me facedown on the carpet, crying and defeated after another hour-long bedtime battle at the end of another long, lonely day.

The walls are empty now, save for a lone painting in the corner. The textured pink walls we never got around to painting are chipped from nail holes and scuffed from the shelves we recently took down.

Then there is the oversized red leather chair and ottoman which I have claimed as my own. They sit in the corner of the room next to a small, antique side table, stacked tall with books, bibles, and journals. They’re right across from the biggest window in our house and where I sit almost every afternoon during rest time.

We’ll leave all this behind. The carpet. The empty walls. The corner of the living room I claimed as my own. But we’ll carry with us the things that last.

Those first months in our house were filled with long days and lonely nights—made more exhausting by our two-year-old’s bedtime screams reverberating through our house. I’d never choose to go back to that season where I ended many days flat on that scratchy carpet, but I’m forever changed by the way those days pointed me toward God. The ways they taught me to rest in his unchanging nature despite the fact that everything else had changed around me. I found strength in what should have been an unbearable circumstance because I could set my feet firm in that which wouldn’t change. The carpet stays, but the lesson goes.

I’ll never look at the badly painted pink walls again, and I’m sure the nail holes and scuff marks will soon be filled in and painted over by whoever moves in next. But those walls will always remind me of the good that comes when you make the effort to put holes in your walls. Not only did we make this house our home, but we also made Cleveland our home. We’ll leave the empty walls and a lot of good people behind, but the important reminders of community and how much better life is when you let people in will stay with us.

And then there’s the chair. That comes with, but it leaves behind my corner—the place where I learned how to rest. I’ll never read my bible with the same wide open window in front of me, but I’ll carry the habit along, always grateful for the ways Cleveland taught me to lean into God’s word before anything else.

Solomon is the one who says that “whatever God does endures forever” in Ecclesiastes 3, but there’s more to his point. “Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it,” he goes on to say. “God has done it, so that people fear (see: revere, stand in awe) before him.”

This Cleveland chapter isn’t about me. It’s about the work God has done in my life—work that lasts even though the chapter doesn’t—so that people will stand in awe before him.

We are standing on the other side of four particularly challenging years and an eight year journey that very easily could have broken us. I’m so proud of our family for all that we’ve endured—for the choices we’ve made and the hard work we have accomplished. But the credit is not ours. God has done it. God has done it, so that we can stand in awe before him.

I can’t pack that up with the glass kitchenware, but, thankfully, I can carry it with me forever.

It lasts.

ode to a backyard swing set.

Before there was a swing set, there was just an empty backyard.

The first time I planted my feet in the yard was the first day we moved into our house almost four years ago. The air was warm, and the sun was setting to my right. I held a baby on my hip as I moved my eyes around with each exhale of breath. There was a wooden fence on one side and a chain link on the other. The back was lined with four tall pine trees, a fence in their own right. In the corner stood a tall oak.

Jake would hang a baby swing from a branch in the oak a few days later, our first tangible mark on the yard. A few days after that, we would add a pink plastic pool.

But in that moment, it was empty. Untrodden by tiny toddler feet. I heard Jake talking to my mom in the house behind me, and I remembered being in a different room in a different state with her just three months earlier. We had thrown a baby shower for one of my best friends, and as I stood in the corner of the room watching my friends and family mingle that day, I saw all the things I would be leaving behind with the move to Ohio. Sadness washed over me. A sadness which was quickly followed by gratitude.

As I surveyed the room, I realized that my sadness meant Jake and I had done something right. We had put down roots and immersed ourselves in our community. The move felt so hard because we had filled our lives with so much good.

My mom laughed from inside my empty kitchen and brought me back to the present.

I shifted my weight forward to my toes.

“I hope it’s hard to leave here too,” I thought to myself.



The second summer we lived in Ohio, Jake decided we needed more than just a baby swing in the corner of our yard.

“I’m going to build the girls a swing set,” he said to me as we sat on our front porch one night after the girls had gone to bed.

I shifted in my rocking chair, seven-months pregnant with our third baby.

“They’re both too big for that baby swing, and it’ll be nice to throw them in the backyard to play once this new baby comes,” he continued.

“That sounds great,” I said.

Not even two days later, a swing set stood tall in our backyard, built piecemeal with wood Jake had found from the actual woods. Two swings hung from the center.

“It’s a little bigger than I was expecting,” I said, craning my neck and wondering if you could see it from the road, “but I love it.” That night I sat on a green lawn chair while I listened to the girls squeal as Jake pushed them on the swings. I pressed my toes into the grass, and our backyard felt full in all the right ways.



“I think I’m going to add a slide to the swing set.” The girls, now 4 and 2, were swinging happily while our 9-month-old baby boy sat picking clover leaves in the grass at my feet. It was our third summer.

“It will be great. I’ll just build a platform off to the side and bring up the slide from the basement. We can even put the kiddie pool at the base and use the hose to turn it into a water slide.

The platform took him a morning to assemble, but he ran into problems with the slide.

“They’re going to break the pool unless I can slow them down before they hit it.”

And so, our bonafide water slide was born. For two summers in a row, the girls spent hours climbing up a ladder and sliding down a yellow playground slide onto a flat wooden platform which sent them into a new pink plastic pool—an upgraded version from our first summer.

The second summer of the water slide, I sat in the shade, seven-months pregnant again and noticed the wear in our backyard. There were two dirt spots under the swings where grass once grew, and toys littered the clover all around me. But I didn’t just see marks from our own family. A fire pit sat nearby filled with ashes—a remnant of a gathering of our friends—and a bottle of bubbles was just beyond, emptied at the hands of a three-year-old friend. The fences showed wear too, likely from all the times our kids pressed against them talking to the neighbors who loved us all like family.

I felt the roots we had laid and saw all the beautiful things that had grown from them.



The swing set is gone now.

A few weeks ago, on a cold, February afternoon, Jake took a chainsaw to it. We can’t take it with us when we move back to Iowa in a few months, and he was worried the sagging crossbar was going to snap from the weight of the swings.

So, our backyard is empty again. Void of the towering wooden structure that kept our kids entertained for three summers in a row. All that remains are those two patches of dirt.

As I watched the wood and swings collapse that day, my breath fogging up the cold glass while I held the newest baby on my hip, I felt the thankful sadness wash over me again. We built memories for our kids here. Put down roots and erected swing sets and lived these years in Ohio as connected to others as we could.

It will be hard to leave this behind.


psssst! Each month, I send out a newsletter containing a few thoughts about all the things I read, write, love, and think about. If you want to get in on the fun, you can sign up HERE! 

the one about head lice and the Gospel.

I am pouring my second cup of coffee when I hear my phone ring in the living room. I have just returned home from our hour-long morning drop-off routine and am ready to sink into the couch and watch Sawyer play with his trucks.

I expect to find my mom on the other end since she’s typically the only person who calls me at 9:00 a.m. on a weekday morning but instead see the name of Lily’s school on the screen. I answer the phone almost certain I will hear the voice of the school nurse on the other end and am not mistaken.

“Mrs. Flinkman?”


“Hi, I’ve got Lily here in the nurse’s office. We found a small infestation of lice on her head, and I’m going to need you to come pick her up.”

I groan inwardly and suddenly feel very itchy. “Oh. Okay. I’ll be right there.”

Twenty minutes later, I’m standing in the nurse’s office with Lily at my side and a sheet of lice removal services in my hand.

“You’ll need to take all your kids to get checked and treated before Lily can come back to school.”

Lice protocol, it seems, is a little bit different than when I was a kid. I am told as I pick Norah up from preschool that lice have mutated and are resistant to the box kits you can buy at the store. So, apparently now I’m dealing with mutant lice.

My warm cup of coffee and relaxing Thursday morning turned into mutant lice in less than an hour.

Once home, I strip every piece of fabric from our beds and wonder how I can keep the girls’ heads from touching any surface in the house until our lice removal appointment at 3:30. It’s at this point—as my attempts to keep it all together are crumbling into complete hysteria—that Jake wakes up.

He takes Lily into the bathroom with a magnifying glass and emerges three minutes later.

“It’s dirt,” he says matter-of-factly. “The kids were playing in the trees in the backyard yesterday, and Lily’s hair is dirty. She doesn’t have lice.”

Jake’s diagnosis is confirmed later that afternoon when the mutant lice expert separates every section of hair on each girl’s head looking for nits.

“I don’t see anything that even resembles lice,” she says as she hands me a certificate declaring all of my kids lice-free.

As if this day wasn’t already weird enough, I am now in the possession of official documentation to prove it.

Hours later, Jake and I collapse on the couch. Our freshly bathed kids are asleep on clean sheets, and all that’s left for us to do is laugh.

I’ve been wondering since then though if I would’ve been able to laugh that night (or every single day since) if our kids actually did have lice. How would I have told this story differently if that had been the ending? What’s more, would I have told it at all?

The idea of bugs living on my kids’ heads freaked me out most of that morning, but to be completely honest, I was less worried about the actual bugs and was, instead, more concerned about the stigma that might get attached to our kids upon returning to school. I didn’t want this to be a label that stayed with our family. I didn’t want it to change the way people viewed us.

I suppose I could write that off as a protective maternal instinct, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that my fear about lice really reveals a pride that has burrowed deep down into my heart. A pride that I didn’t even realize was there.

I think almost daily about transformation and the abundant life God has shown me. I think less frequently about what He has saved me from—the wretchedness of my own heart. But where is the joy in my transformed life if I don’t first acknowledge where I began? Or, more importantly, where I need to begin?

I’m not a good person who has figured out how to live a great life. I’m a sinner—the same as anybody else—whom God has transformed and continues to transform. And the joy of my salvation comes from acknowledging the breadth of that spectrum.

All it took was a few hypothetical mutant lice to remind me of the beauty of the Gospel. Admittedly, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write, but I’m thankful all the same.

september in the rear view.

I always feel particularly conflicted at the end of September. On one hand, it is one of my favorite months, but on the other hand, it ushers in the beginning of fall which, I recognize is a funny point to make because the truth of the matter is also this:  I love fall too. It’s just that its official entrance is always marked by a twinge of sad anticipation because I know it will never last as long as I want it to.

That’s right, people. I feel a little sad at the beginning of fall because I’m already thinking about it ending.

My natural inclinations are a bit of a buzzkill sometimes. I’m working on it.

September, nevertheless, is now in the rear view mirror, and I’m happy to report that despite my overall level of exhaustion (sleep when the baby sleeps is so 2013), I’m still reading things over here!


Books I Read

I finished two more of The Chronicles of Narnia this month. While I’m reading, I’ve made a habit of dog-earing the pages I know I’ll want to come back to. As I looked back through those pages today, I realized I had marked two similar passages between these two books.

In the first, the Beavers are trying to explain who Aslan is to the Pevensie children. In the second, Shasta meets Aslan for the first time. In both, a unique sense of awe is beautifully described.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”

The Horse and His Boy 

“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.” …

“Who are you?”

“Myself,” said the voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time” Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.


Articles I Clicked

Last month was Pandas. This month, turtles. My favorite excerpt from this particular National Geographic article was this:

An absence of turtles would be a “cultural, psychological loss,” to many societies, Gibbons says. We revere their traits of persistence and serenity. They’re the one reptile that just about everyone likes. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Gosh, I hope a turtle doesn’t get into my house,” he says.

Also, if you are a person, like me, whose husband often works weird and/or long weekend hours, I highly recommend the last article on this list: “My Saturday Idol.”

O Autumn!

Since we’re on the topic of things I like to read, it only seems fitting to send my brain into October with this quote from one of my favorite books, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell:

October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

I’d just like to add this: October, breathe your crisp air steadily and light your vibrant colors on fire for all your days (and even into November if you’d like to).


the upheaval of august.

At this exact moment, I am sitting on the couch with a snoozy baby on my chest. I’m sipping hot coffee out of an old travel mug while watching Norah get her own baby packed up and ready for a walk in the stroller. I’m typing with a single thumb on my iPhone while we wait for Jake and Sawyer to get home from kindergarten drop off.

Our rhythms have changed in the past 31 days.

As a person who thrives on routine and expected outcomes, the complete upheaval a newborn brings is always the hardest thing for me to adjust to. “Just take it one day at a time” is not a mantra that comes naturally to me. Even on the good days, you can usually find me anticipating the harder ones.

We’ve done this dance four times now. And, each time even the upheaval has looked vastly different. Here’s one thing that hasn’t changed though: My ability to consume a completely random assortment of information and entertainment in the middle of the night. With Lily, it was Friends reruns and Jimmy Fallon clips, and with Norah, I alternated episodes of Chopped and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (that was almost 4 years ago, so I feel pretty ahead of the game on that one). As for Sawyer, I watched a lot of Chicago Cubs game summaries as they inched closer to the World Series.

It has been no different with baby Jude, and I thoroughly enjoyed remembering all the places my brain has been ping-ponging around in the last month.


So, without further ado:

Books I Read

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

I recently finished compiling my personal collection of The Chronicles of Narnia. I decided to reread the series because I can’t remember the last time I read them and, even more alarmingly, can’t remember if I ever actually finished all the books. I love the way Lewis narrates these stories, and I was especially captivated by his description of the World Between the Woods early on in this one:

“It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not the only pool. There were dozens of others–a pool every few yards as far as his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots. This wood was very much alive” (32).

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilken

I’ve been thinking for some time that, in my reading of the Bible, I’ve been relying too heavily on studies or devotionals to give me insight or understanding. While I like the thematic approach and wisdom of people like Catherine Martin or Beth Moore, I’ve been wondering lately why I feel as though I can’t read my Bible without the guidance of someone else. I started looking into the inductive method of Bible study and then saw this book recommended repeatedly. Wilken’s suggestions and wisdom are practical and added to a thought process I had already begun churning in my brain.

“I cannot truly be a God-worshipper without loving the Bible deeply and reverently. Otherwise, I worship and unknown god” (147).  

Articles I Clicked

This was my favorite list to round up because it is so obviously the work of a person who has been reading articles at literally all hours of the day. I mean, in the past 31 days, I have gained knowledge about Jimmy Carter, millennial evangelicals, AND the lengths one must go to in order to photograph pandas.

Follow-up question: Can you guess which one of those articles I read in the middle of the night?

Things I Watched

Speaking of things you do in the middle of the night when you have a newborn, “Watch Happy Things on YouTube” is one of my survival pro-tips. In the past few weeks, I have found some new things I had never seen before and also returned to some old feel-goods. I couldn’t resist passing them along in case you need an end of the month pick-me-up.

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda Wedding Surprise: Since I discovered the existence of this video a few weeks ago, I have already watched it five times because it makes me so happy. As if I didn’t already love Lin-Manuel Miranda enough, he surprised his wife with a rendition of “To Life” from Fiddler on the Roof with their entire bridal party. If you haven’t seen this, stop everything you’re doing and watch it immediately.
  • Joe Biden on The View: I actually watched this as it aired live last December and was so moved by the humanity of Joe Biden speaking to Meghan McCain about her dad’s cancer that I returned to it this week in light of John McCain’s death.
  • Like Real People Do: Sometimes all you need to brighten your spirits at 3:30 in the morning is a classic So You Think You Can Dance routine. (Or, is that just me?) Full disclosure: I couldn’t remember the name of either of these dancers or the song when I wanted to watch it last week, so I just typed “yellow dress sytycd” into Google and came out a winner 0.49 seconds later.
  • Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney: Okay, so this one is old news, but given that we just named a baby Jude, Jake and I obviously had to rewatch and sing along with this one.
  • The Great British Baking Show: There have been a few nights in which I’ve been up for multiple hours straight, but Paul and Mary kept me company while teaching me about proving and blind baking.
  • Journeywomen Podcast: Humor with Holly Mackle and Caroline Saunders: Technically I didn’t watch this one, but I did listen to it the other morning. I didn’t go into it thinking I would take that much away, and, instead, the opposite happened. As someone who tends to get a little too tightly wound about things that don’t really matter, this contained a lot of things I needed to hear, and it also made me laugh.

What I Wrote


Self-proclaimed maternity leave is FUN and it’s been refreshing to turn my inner taskmaster off.


Continued Upheaval

The baby woke up, so I moved to the floor. Sawyer is back now; Jake dropped him off when he came back for Lily’s forgotten backpack. I finished my coffee and am now typing with two thumbs while Sawyer and Norah play together and ask periodically if it’s “nack time.” Quiet doesn’t keep around here for long.

That’s nothing new though.

The newborn upheaval is expected. It doesn’t catch me off guard like it did the first few times, but it does continue to serve as a reminder that my life is not defined by the circumstances that surround me. It’s nice to have YouTube and my News app to keep me busy in the middle of the night, but those aren’t the things that get me through these long days.

God has continually reminded me in the past few weeks that He is my source of strength and contentment. Everything else might change (see: will change), but He doesn’t.

The same God who created panda bears to be particularly elusive creatures and gave humans a sense of curiosity to try to photograph them is also the same God who is with me every hour of every day. On the hard days. On the good days. On the uneventful ones too.

I’m back on the couch. I can’t tell you how long it’s taken me to write this. The baby is asleep again, my coffee is refilled, and I took a break to play with the two middle kids.

Everything looks different than it did 31 days ago, but also, the things that matter look exactly the same. August has been good to us.


so long sweet summer.

If it were possible to physically latch on to a single month, you would find me right now with a firm grip on July. I thought May was my favorite month and then July 2018 rolled around and set the gold standard. It was all the things.

Jake and I kicked off the month on the shores of Lake Erie with a kid-free weekend and rounded it out by celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary at our kitchen table with some takeout Indian food. In between, we mostly filled our days with trips to the pool, afternoons by the backyard waterslide, and walks around the neighborhood. It was all made possible by Jake’s miraculous July residency schedule which allowed him to be home more than he was at work.

Like I said, all the things.

But, time marches on as it always does. So, I’m loosening my hold on July and letting it slip into the memory banks. After all, who’s to say July will still have the gold standard by the end of next month?

In any case, here are a few things I read and wrote the past few months. (June included, because summer Molly is super flexible and let myself off the hook for that particular monthly review. I’m also working on letting unreasonable expectations slip through my fingertips.)


Books I Read

At the end of May, I was 84 pages into Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and, because my library loan ran out after my third renewal (oops), I’m still only 84 pages in and waiting for it to be available again. I did manage to read 3 books between June and July though, and they varied wildly in terms of content and topic. They all made me think and reflect in such different and powerful ways.

Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

I won this book in a drawing (as one does) and then let it sit untouched for a few months. I picked it up on a whim at the end of June and then finished it a week later. In short, DeMoss-Wolgemuth takes an in-depth look at the discipleship method found in Titus 2. My favorite chapter was her take on what it looks like to be workers of the home, and, more specifically, this excerpt:

Jesus, too, is a homemaker. “I go to prepare a place for you,” He said to His disciples on the eve of His betrayal. “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

At the heart of the gospel, at the heart of the cross, is the Lord Jesus opening His arms wide and saying, “I want you to come Home with me.”

And when we cultivate homes where others can grow and be nurtured, where they feel welcomed, loved, and cared for, we put the heart and character of God on display.

A few paragraphs later, she quotes her friend Jani Ortlund who similarly spoke to this thought:

Our homes, imperfect as they are, should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion. (222-223)

For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs by Sara Wallace

I can’t say enough good things about this particular parenting book. It’s quick and to the point, and Wallace gave me a lot to think about in terms of the words I use when correcting my kids. She has a great chapter on helping kids deal with fear as well as some really wise thoughts about the difference between childishness and disobedience. My favorite part though was in a chapter about finding the balance between disciplining too much and too little:

Consider this scenario: A mom pours her daughter some cereal in a blue bowl. She sets it down in front of her. The little girl screams in anger and pushes it away. “I want the pink bowl!” she screams, scowling and wildly kicking her legs under the table. The mom glances inside the cupboard. Yes, there is a pink bowl there. Sighing, the mom thinks to herself, “I have to choose my battles,” and she gets the pink bowl out of the cupboard and re-pours the cereal.

We’ve all be in similar situations. We’re tired. We want to make our kids happy. We think, “I’ll discipline my child when he does something really bad.” If we continue with the analogy of a battle, we can see how dangerous this thinking is. Imagine walking onto a real battlefield. The enemy comes rushing toward you. You’re seconds away from being face-to-face with your foe. You don’t have the option of saying “I don’t feel like fighting today” or “The enemy doesn’t look that strong. I’ll fight when a bigger enemy comes along.” We don’t get to choose whether or not we will battle our kids’ sin. We enter into the battle the day we become parents.

It’s important to remember we are never fighting against our own children. We are fighting alongside them. When we lay down our swords, we expose our kids to attack. They are too young to fight for themselves. We have to do battle for them. Doing battle with sin means getting our hands dirty. It means fighting for our kids’ hearts even when we’re too tired. (53-54)

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

I’m really late to the party on this one. This was published in 2014 and has been sitting on my shelf since last September when my friend Jess sent it to me for my birthday. At times it reads a little like a John Grisham novel except it’s written by Bryan Stevenson, a real human being who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system (per the back cover of the book).

Toward the end of the book, Stevenson reflects on what he has learned about brokenness and mercy and touches on something I’ve been thinking about since I read Brene Brown’s thoughts about “moving in” a few months ago.

Whenever things got really bad, and they were questioning the value of their lives, I would remind them that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I told them that if someone tells a lie, that person is not just a liar. If you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you are not just a thief. Even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. I told myself that evening what I had been telling my clients for years. I am more than broken. In fact, there is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can’t otherwise see; you hear things you can’t otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us. (290)

Things I Wrote

In May, I mentioned a 10,000 word writing goal that I had for myself. I came up a liiiiittle short with just shy of 8,500 words, but I did finish a fun project I’ve been working on since March.

But, since that’s all still a little in-progress, it’s also worth noting that I published some smaller pieces this month, too. I put my research cap on over at Mighty Moms to write about pacifier weaning (you know, the most fun thing ever) and toddler pool safety while also penning this love letter to first-time moms.

More personally, I also reflected upon our family’s two favorite July holidays: National Doctors’ Day and Our Wedding Anniversary. (Did I mention we celebrated a DECADE? It still feels like kind of a big deal.)


So Long, Sweet Summer

It’s possible that the impending addition to our family and the fact that Lily is only 16 days away from starting kindergarten have something to do with the fact that I’ve been over here trying to squeeze everything I can out of June and July before summer and the general status quo escapes my grasp.

But, if there’s something I’m learning as I reflect on the end of each month, it’s this: The looking forward to what’s to come is far superior to the wishing to hold on to the past.

So, so long sweet summer. We’re ready for all the things that are next.

may is my favorite (and other loosely connected thoughts).

For the past few months, I’ve been bragging about how many books and articles I’ve read, so it seems only fair to tell you that all I managed during the month of May was 84 pages of a 325 page book.

That’s kind of the nature of May though, isn’t it?

On the 29th, I actually contemplated trying to finish the remaining 241 pages in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine for the sake of meeting my monthly goal, but then quickly decided that plan was (as Lily lately likes to say) “Ridic-ee-lous.”

I opted to let myself off the hook instead. Eleanor can wait until June.

Because I don’t have any books to summarize and only published one article about surviving long road trips with kids, all that’s left to write about in May’s summation are the things I thought about. But, lucky for you, there is never a shortage of thoughts racing through my head. This month, my thoughts congregated around three main things:

Preschool Graduations

I used to think preschool graduations were about the dumbest thing on the face of the planet, and this, I guarantee, won’t be the last time I put my foot in my mouth about some childhood-related milestone that I once viewed as silly (Coming soon: My own overly emotional response to the first day of kindergarten).

Lily graduated from preschool a few weeks ago, and throughout the entire evening program, I choked back what could easily have been a steady stream of tears.

Three years ago, Jake and I were trying to navigate our first experience with the terribles, and our spirited Lily didn’t take it easy on us. Hour-long screaming tantrums were par for the course around here, and we often worried about what the future would look like for her.

One year ago, Lily wouldn’t even sing a single song in front of a classroom of parents. Instead, she would sidle up next to her teacher and cry the entire time.

This year, we watched our girl stand on a stage, sing, and dance with no hesitation, and it was impossible to ignore the growth she’s shown over the last few years.

Thankful is an understatement.

I feel sad and a teensy bit melodramatic about the end of preschool and our full days spent together (you may have already heard me refer to it as “the end of an era), but I was thinking about the word “commencement” the other day and realized that, by definition, a graduation ceremony isn’t celebrating the end of something at all. Instead, it marks a new start or beginning, and that feels about right.

This, I think, is the start (and continuation) of something really good.

At least, that’s what I’m going to be holding on to in a few months when she leaves me every day for kindergarten. Please plan on returning to this conversation in August.

Perennial Plants

My hostas pushed through the soil under our front tree a few weeks ago and have been growing steadily since. Every fall, I cut back their leaves, and then they lay dormant beneath the soil until spring when they faithfully burst back to life, larger than the summer before.

Last year, I was mesmerized by heliotropic flowers, a term I learned after I typed “flowers that turn toward the sun” into Google (in case you thought I was some kind of innate gardening expert).

But this spring, I find myself particularly captivated by the plants that require no replanting. The ones that live through winter as a waiting promise sitting beneath the earth.

I read recently (oh! I guess I did read something!) that it takes perennial plants 3 years to reach their full potential and gardening again feels like the most perfect metaphor to describe the growth I’ve seen in my own life over the past few years.

The cutting of dead things. The time it sometimes takes to see growth. The turning toward the Sun.

I am absolutely nowhere near any sense of full potential, but gardening continues to give me so many beautiful things to reflect on in my own life (in addition to the beautiful things it gives me to look at). I think I’ll keep at it.


Personality Types

I’m about to say something radical.

I don’t know what Enneagram number I am.

In fact, I don’t even know how many numbers there are or what the numbers even really mean.

This is an interesting fact because I am typically a person who is all in for personality assessments. Myers-Briggs. StrengthsFinder. DiSC. The one where I’m identified as a beaver.

I can tell you where I land in all of these personality tests because I totally geeked out and embraced them when they were in their heyday. I love the feeling of being known even if that only takes place in my own mind.

But, for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to embrace this whole Enneagram thing.

I don’t know; maybe I just don’t like the idea of being defined by a stranger anymore, and I certainly don’t want to be a person who just chalks everything in my life up to the fact that I’m an 18 (that’s an Enneagram number, right?).

All this to say, I’m open to conversion here, but I’m going to need someone to tell me how the Enneagram is going to A.) teach me something I don’t already know about myself and B.) make my life better in some way.

Please be in touch.

Come at Us, June!

I love everything about May. In my almost 32 years of life, I’ve never had to live outside the rhythms of a school calendar, so May always brings me both a sense of closure and anticipation.

It’s one of my favorite months.

But, just like that, now it’s in the rearview (along with Lily holding up four fingers when asked her age).

We’ve got plans for June, though. Among them, getting back to Eleanor Oliphant and starting on my writing goal of 10,000 words by August. You know, when I’m not living at our backyard water slide, letting the kids eat all the popsicles, or finding a new Cleveland gem to explore.

Enneagram 18s: We set slightly unrealistic goals, force metaphors on simple things like plant growth, and also indulge in all the summer treats.

It’s a good life.

the time i had a good attitude about april.

I considered starting this review by telling you what a buzzkill April was, but then as I looked back over everything we did this month, I realized that maybe my reaction to our less than ideal weather conditions was a little over dramatic.

Sure, we hardly even made it into the 50s most days, but when I really think about it, April brought us more good than maybe I acknowledged along the way.

We (even Jake!) celebrated Easter and threw the girls (not literally) into their very first swimming lesson. We (only Jake, obviously) cut a huge hole in our house for a sliding glass door and are now (all included) basking in all the new light pouring in. We had campfires in the driveway, blew bubbles in the front yard, and drank smoothies in front of a castle.


April, I’m sorry I gave you such a hard time. You didn’t deserve that.

Plus, I also found some good things to read and occupy my time this month. You know, in case you’re interested…

What Articles I Clicked

“Might As Well Laugh, Mama” by Holly Mackle

Sisterfriends are like a good elbow nudge, aren’t they? They’re a gentle shake from the realities of the moment, reminding us to step outside them, to evaluate the unset concrete moments from a different perspective, and oh look that’s actually pretty funny what just happened right there.

I need them when my kid starts purring like a kitten in the grocery checkout line. I need them when my oldest refers to Cinderella as the Old Testament and Cinderella II, Dreams Come True as the New Testament. I definitely need them when The Child Who Must Not Be Named asks if I can write out all her dinner options on a piece of paper and give it to her to choose from.

“Where’s My Daughter? Call Her Forth” by Callie Feyen

The opening line in Act 1, Scene 3 is a question and a command. “Where’s my daughter?” Lady Capulet asks the Nurse. “Call her forth to me.” We can interpret that line literally. Mrs. Capulet doesn’t know where her kid is and is asking the Nurse to help find her.

I think this line can be interpreted figuratively as well. That is, we mothers don’t always understand what’s going on with our children—their experience is not our own. Recognizing this can be scary, when we see them on the brink of adolescence, marriage, motherhood. Where’s the daughter we once knew? Who is she now? How much of this experience do we help her navigate? How do we help her become who she’s going to be? Why not bring in our friends to call forth something in our children.

“Do Good to Your Fellow Mom” by Chelsea Stanley

If we ask God for opportunities to do each other good, he will give them to us at just the right time, in just the right amount, just as he has prepared them.

What Books I Read

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

More than anything else in this book, I appreciate Brené Brown’s reminders of humanity. In an age of so much hateful rhetoric (coming from a lot of different directions), Brown continually urges readers to move in close. She reminds us of the importance of human connection, listening without an agenda, and living vulnerably. One of her most powerful chapters for me, People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In., contained one of my favorite paragraphs:

As the larger world engages in what feels like a complete collapse of moral judgment and productive communication, the women and men I interviewed who had the strongest sense of true belonging stayed zoomed in. They didn’t ignore what was happening in the world, nor did they stop advocating for their beliefs. They did, however, commit to assessing their lives and forming their opinions of people based on their actual, in-person experiences (64).

A few of her main summative points fell flat for me (a longer conversation), but the vast majority of her conclusions felt so timely and important.

Dance, Stand, Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground by Jess Connolly

Truthfully, I’m still processing the implications of this one. I basically used up an entire highlighter while I was reading, but here is one paragraph that I keep coming back to:

When we…seek His face and learn His word and trust His character, I believe we’ll become more hopeful and more anticipatory of His return and His rescue. We’ll see people in the correct light, as image bearers of our Holy God; we’ll see world events with more clarity; and we’ll perceive culture not as barren and broken beyond repair but as reachable and redeemable by the healer of all things (182).

The Teacher Diaries: Romeo and Juliet by Callie Feyen

I bought this one after I read the essay excerpt I referenced above and loved so much about it. Feyen teaches Romeo and Juliet to a new batch of 8th graders each year, and this book is basically a collection of essays in which she looks at the key scenes from the play and how they relate to the larger themes of her own (or her students’) life experiences.

I used to teach Romeo and Juliet each year which is maybe why this resonated with me. If any of my teaching friends are reading this, you’ll like this one. It’s quick, thoughtful, and filled with meaningful adolescent insights.

What I Wrote

I didn’t publish much this month, but it feels worth noting that I did attend a writing conference this past weekend at my local library.

I also bought a new pair of glasses because that felt like a writer-y thing to do.

You can find the one article I did push into the world wide web, “You need to Know Why Wordless Picture Books are Worth Shouting Over”, over at Mighty Moms.

What I Learned

It’s hard to learn to swim if you refuse to put your head under water. And, after just typing that sentence, I realize there’s probably a lot more to explore there.

Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch. Ducks? 28. Helping Lily with her fun fact research homework each week is one of my favorite things.

Gratitude isn’t contingent on circumstances. A recurring theme. Case in point: the April weather.

On that note, I just remembered that in addition to all the other pretty great April stuff, I also won my March madness bracket (sorry, mom) and got to see the Cubs play in person last week (thanks, mom!).

April, you were good to us.

(But May, you’re coming with some warmer temperatures, right?)