Show Up

When our first son was born, I was not quite 24 years old. We were attending a church where I felt supported and cared for, but many of the moms I knew with children my son’s age were much older, or they had older children who had other activities. Very few of my friends had children, so the concept of playdates seemed out of reach.

By the time my second son came along, not too long after the first, a few more people had kids, but now it was a mammoth task to try to get out of the house with both of them and keep everyone alive. We could handle small, contained places like the Chick-fil-a playground, although there was always the possibility I’d have to climb up into the play structure to retrieve a disobedient child who didn’t want to leave. Parks, libraries, museums… they were my worst nightmare.

The good thing, though, was that once my younger son was about 2 or so, he and his older brother were natural playmates. They didn’t always get along, but it was nice that we didn’t have to leave the house in order for them to practice social skills. They were socialized all day, every day, in the safe and familiar context of our own home. The problem, though, was that I wasn’t getting much time with other adults. It was me and the two boys most of the time.

Fast forward what feels like many years, and here I am with an 8-month-old baby girl. My boys are at school all day, so most days it is just me, the baby, and the dog at home. As 2017 drew to a close and I found that our days were becoming more predictable with the baby’s schedule, and as my closest friend and her baby girl moved halfway across the country, I knew that I wanted my daughter to develop friendships with children her own age, and I knew I needed to develop deeper friendships with moms I already knew a little bit.

A long time ago I read a book by Sally Clarkson in which she said that after moving to multiple places when her children were young, she found that if she wanted to find community with other moms, she was the one who had to initiate it. If she waited for someone else to, it would never happen. I’ve thought of that many times over the years, and I’ve taken action in smaller cases with individuals, but I never really tried bringing together a large group of people. To be honest, it felt risky. What if I tried and no one was interested? What if it started strong and then fizzled out? What if I was the only one feeling lonely and isolated at home some days?

I decided that I would pick something that I was going to do anyway: taking my daughter to the children’s room at the local library. It’s a newly renovated space that’s perfect for crawlers, early walkers, and older children. Then I picked when I would go: Wednesday, after her morning nap but before lunch. Then I made a list of other moms who I thought might be interested. Then I sent some individual texts to each mom. After that, I also posted it in a Facebook group for moms at our church in case I left anyone out or there were some new moms who I didn’t know yet.

The first week approached. Most of the moms I texted personally told me it sounded great and they hoped they could come, but from experience I know that doesn’t necessarily translate into action. I sent a reminder text the night before, but only one mom confirmed that she was definitely coming. I told myself that if it just ended up being me and her, that would be great. She’s a new mom who truly wanted to come for adult interaction, and we would be able to talk plenty if it was just the two of us.

The morning we were scheduled to meet, I received one more text from someone asking for the address of the library. OK, two other moms! When we got inside, there were two more moms already there. As we began to talk and I introduced a few of them to each other, more moms and kids trickled in. By the time everyone was there, there were nine moms, including me, and all of our kids: eleven out of the womb and three still in the womb. Two other moms texted me while we were there to say they had been hoping to come but had gotten sick. Then, to top it all off, before we left, one of our moms met another young mom who was there with her daughter. I introduced myself as well, and she asked me if we were part of a playgroup. I told her that if we were, it had just started, but we would be meeting weekly at this time and that she was welcome to join us.

I left feeling lighter. I don’t know if there will be nine moms next week. I don’t know if the mom we met will come back. But I’m going to be there next week, and every week that I can from there on out. It’s obvious I’m not the only one craving fellowship, relationship, community. And what’s even more amazing was that it was so simple. All I did was pick a place, time, and date that was good for me and said I was going to show up. And then a bunch of other people showed up, too.

As we drove home, my daughter talked to her stuffed dog and I listened to Jill Phillips’ song Show Up:

We’re so used to an immediate response
So used to giving up when things don’t work
We know the long obedience is hard
No short-cuts will make it easier
‘Cause the journey is so long
But the difference is made
By the million small steps along the way

You don’t have to save the world
All that hero talk is only superficial stuff
If you want to change the world
All you got to do is show up, show up, just show up


The Ride

Anna kicked the toys on the floor of the garage around. Her bike helmet was where it normally was—underneath her sisters’ belongings. She always put it in the same spot, but it was never there when she needed it. She sighed to herself, clipped the helmet under her chin, and joined her family in the street in front of their house.

Her sister Faith saddled her bike, leading the procession. As the youngest, she would set the pace the rest of the family would have to follow. Cora stood impatiently next to her bike, glaring at Anna. Anna knew it wasn’t worth it to even say anything, because the only explanation she could give for her delay was that Cora had left a mess in the garage. Better to just ignore.

The girls’ parents let Anna wheel her bike in between their bikes and her sisters’, the family lined up in age progression, and then they took off.

The Carters lived halfway down a hill that ended at the bottom of another hill. What this meant was that in order to even remotely make it up the second hill, you had to go as fast as you could down the remaining first hill. Even then, Faith and sometimes Cora both walked their bikes up the second hill.

It was slightly demoralizing to feel overcome by exhaustion so soon after starting a ride. Anna liked to run, too, and she often considered the one-and-a-half hills her warm-up; she wouldn’t begin running until she got up the second hill.

Despite the sweat already forming on their foreheads, the family was glad to be riding together. Even Anna didn’t begrudge this activity, on the cusp of adolescence though she was. The ride was fun. What was even better, though, was coming home. They had left their house just after dinner, and the neighborhood was relatively quiet. But by the time the Carters returned home, children and animals and a few adults would be spilling out into their front yards to enjoy the cool of the early summer evening.

Anna trailed her family as they entered their neighborhood at the end of the ride. If she waited until there was no danger of one of her sisters getting in her way, she could build up speed as she approached what was, from this direction, the first hill. Her goal was always to see how far up the hill toward their house she could get without pedaling.

She began to pedal, veering around cars parked on the street. The way down the hill was clear, but in the distance she could see that her sisters had stopped before they even got home to play with friends who were out on scooters. Her parents were farther up the hill, talking with the next-door neighbors. Honeysuckle flowers sent their sweet smell into the air around her as she began her descent down the hill. She flew down the hill toward her sisters, toward her parents, toward home.


I do not have many childhood memories in the kitchen, except from Christmas, when my mom would roll out the sugar cookie dough on the table and my sisters and I would decorate to our hearts’ content. But when I went to college and started to come into my own, I found myself to be someone who didn’t like to waste money and who actually enjoyed cooking. It was slow-going. A roommate taught me how to make her favorite Spanish rice. I slogged through a recipe for red velvet cake to surprise my then-boyfriend, which turned out mostly alright except for the bite he took of almost pure vinegar due to the fact that I hadn’t mixed the batter well enough.

When my husband and I were finally living in the same town after two years of long-distance dating, we would spend Sunday afternoon cooking a gigantic meal that he could eat leftovers from all week. That was my first encounter with Rachael Ray, and I began watching Food Network shows on the treadmill at the gym.

Our wedding registry was probably fifty percent kitchen items. A Kitchen-aid mixer. A food processor. Real chef knives. And then in subsequent Christmases, my wish list has often included another kitchen product: waffle maker, immersion blender, new measuring cups, silicone baking sheets.

I stand in the kitchen now, more than ten years after I started learning how to make more than boxed macaroni and cheese, and while I cannot tune out or ignore the begging dog, the requests from the den, the baby who has realized I have food that I am not giving her, I am soothed by techniques learned over the years. Rinse the onion after you slice it in half and it won’t make you cry. Add a couple spoonfuls of sour cream as you’re making hummus—not as authentic, but possibly even more delicious. If the spatula won’t fit under the pancake easily, it’s too early to flip. Muffins are done if they bounce back when you touch them.

So much of my little household cannot be controlled. The laundry never stops coming. I could vacuum the floors three times a day. The blanket we keep on the couch in the den to protect it from dog hair will inevitably come untucked every single day. But for a few minutes in the evening, I can put three handfuls of spinach in a bowl and place it on the table with the hummus and the yogurt sauce and the falafel and the homemade pita chips and it looks perfect and complete. In five minutes, half the falafel will be gone and I’ll be wiping drops of yogurt off the table. And yet I do it, night after night after night, because it brings me joy to create something new in this way and hopefully feel the pleasure of those eating it.

At Christmas, in lieu of storebought gifts for my children’s teachers and other close friends, I opt to bake cookies. Not just one batch, but three or four or five different kinds, and I will package them as an assortment, each one chosen and baked with love. Every year I try a new recipe and let my resident taste-testers decide if it will stay in the rotation or not. This year the dog narrowly avoided excommunication by only managing to snatch one cookie off the baking sheet when my back was turned. My anger at him was partly because I do not know how to break his food obsession, but also because every scoop of white chocolate macadamia nut dough was placed onto the parchment paper with care, a sentiment our traumatized rescue hound does not understand.

This is why when I have a few moments to myself on a library trip, I grab a stack of cookbooks to take home and read through. I rarely use any of the recipes, but I just enjoy seeing the pictures and getting a bit of inspiration. To spend time thinking about food I’m not going to cook feels luxurious.

These days, as I try to pull dinner together, my daughter sits on the counter in her little seat watching and munching on graham crackers and tidbits of what I’m making. I have told myself already that I will not make her wait until she is on her own to learn how to cook. When she can stand next to me with a spatula in her hand, we will start baking together, and whether she decides that she loves to cook or not, I will have more memories to layer in, memories of chubby hands and floured clothes, blended by love.



I perched on the edge of the exam table as the urgent care doctor looked at the rash on my back. “It’s classic shingles,” she said. “Are you under a lot of stress?”

I held back laughter, felt emotions rising with me, and told her that, well, I have three children and a dog, so probably. I didn’t tell her that my husband is a pastor, a calling that I affirm wholeheartedly, but that is stressful in and of itself—it is a lifestyle job, one that doesn’t end when he gets home at dinnertime. Sundays are very rarely a day of rest.

The symptoms of shingles have finally begun to fade after a week of antivirals and a lot of ibuprofen. I was telling a friend about it this week and as I processed out loud whether I am under any more stress than the average woman, I began to trace back the last eight-and-a-half years of marriage and children.

There is a helpful tool called the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale that I encountered in college in my psychology classes and that I’ve found extremely useful when talking to friends who start to tell me that they feel physically and/or emotionally unwell, but they’re not sure why. We’ll look through some of the items on the stress scale, even good things, like a new baby, and realize that if you add up everything that has happened to them in the previous year, it is no surprise that they are feeling stressed. This particular scale attempts to predict how likely you are to become ill as a result of stress based on your score. From 0-150 points, the risk is low to moderate. The risk increases from moderate to high between 150-300 points. If you score over 300 points, you are very likely to become ill.

If I look at each of the nine calendar years since my husband and I were married and add up all the things that happened in each year, there are three years in which I would have scored around 150 points—right on the cusp of moving from low to moderate risk. In five of these years I scored between 230 and 290 points, and in one year, a year that I already knew was the hardest year of our lives, I score well over 300.

There is a part of me that bristles when I realize this. Why has so much of our marriage been stacked with hard things? It has often felt like we’ve barely had time to catch our breath from one tragedy before another one hits. At times, these hard things layer on top of each other and I am crushed under their weight.

It is when I feel this heaviness that I have to stop and look around me and remember not just these hard things, but the easy things, and the things that have not been easy but have still been good.

A vision screening at the boys’ school revealed that one son needed glasses, which has changed his life for the better.

The other son’s teacher recommended him for speech therapy, which I didn’t even know was available through their school.

Our newest bundle was born healthy and strong, and she is an incarnate antidepressant for me as we spend our days together.

Our new dog is a faithful friend on nights when my husband is gone.

We bought a house, and it has been filled with laughter and yard work and painting and meals with friends.

Daily walks around our neighborhood have brought fresh air, exercise, and an appreciation for familiar roads and houses and barking dogs.

Although she is moving at the end of the year, my friend KM has been a precious gift.

Our families mostly live very close, and we see them fairly often.

Our church is not perfect, but it is healthy, which is more than can be said about some of the churches in our past.

My husband and I are finding ways to talk about hard things, and he is gracious and gentle with me.

God’s gifts of good things do not erase the hard things, but they do remind me that he is good. Shingles may come and go, and depression and anxiety may be my companions for the rest of my life. I may never see a year when my score on the stress scale is in the low range. But he paints his goodness in broad lines across each year, each month, each day, each hour, and it is good to remember.





The doctor presses her foot on the button that raises and lowers the chair so that his eyes are level with hers. I have never had a real eye exam before, so I watch with interest as she performs a number of small examinations on his eyes. She tells me that his eyes are working together—good. She tells me that he isn’t color blind—good. Then the chart of letters that doesn’t appear to have ever been updated appears backwards on the wall behind him. He can see them in a mirror in front of him, to my left, and the doctor has him cover one eye with what looks like a sturdy plastic spatula and read the letters.

He flies through them with ease. But these are the largest ones. The next line he reads correctly, but more slowly. On the third line he stumbles and misses a few, but the doctor doesn’t correct him. “Did I do good?” he asks in seven-year-old grammar. “You did great!” she affirms.

She has him switch the spatula to the other eye, the one that made it to the third line. Now he must do the same thing with his left eye. Again, the first line comes easily, although I have long suspected that he has a photographic memory, and so I’m unsure if he’s actually reading them or if he memorized them. In any case, he moves to the next line.

I don’t expect him to have as much difficulty as he does. He gets a few letters right, but confuses the rest with letters that look similar. On the third line it is as if he has reverted back to age one and not yet learned his alphabet. Not a single letter correct, and the ones he says look nothing like the actual letters on the chart.

The doctor uses words like astigmatism and tells me that he is far-sighted. I am shocked. My husband has poor eyesight, but we have never had any indication that our oldest child had any trouble seeing things that were far away.

She tells me that her last resort is to put children in glasses, but that she wants to see the extent of his poor vision before she makes a decision. She goes back to him in the high chair and swivels what looks like 4 sets of flat binoculars woven together. If you let your vision blur a bit, it looks like many clocks of different sizes and depths.

She has to interrupt his monologue about Halloween to keep asking him which lenses are better—through which one can he see most clearly? After many attempts, she covers his better eye and has him once again attempt to read the third line on the chart, the one that was in a foreign alphabet to him only 10 minutes earlier. He reads slowly, but he reads correctly.

I experience a mixture of relief and amazement. This can be corrected; his eyes will not have to strain so much; he just needs glasses. I am also amazed: first, that he didn’t realize that he couldn’t see; second, that I didn’t realize that he couldn’t see; third, that if we hadn’t come to the doctor, it could have gone on for who knows how long.

I hold his baby sister in my lap and let her investigate my hands as the doctor writes many things down and I contemplate more deeply what has just occurred. Do I ever think I don’t see things clearly—not just physical things, but spiritual things? Most of the time I assume my vision is accurate. What you see is what you get.

But have there ever been times when someone else has had to show me that I was seeing things incorrectly? My husband often serves this purpose, as gently and humbly as he is able to. He looks at the situation with his eyes and sees something different, and many times, what is actually true is somewhere in between, but I wouldn’t get there without him.

The scary thing is not that sometimes we don’t see clearly but that we don’t know we don’t see clearly. I am humbled as I consider how quickly I assume that my interpretations of events and circumstances are correct—sometimes even when others disagree. My son told me on the way to the doctor, adamant that he would not wear glasses, that he can see things just fine. But even though I’ve never worn glasses myself, I know from what others have said that what seems “fine” to him today will look blurry in a week once he is used to wearing his glasses. It is only when we can see that we realize how much we couldn’t see.



One Hour

There are times when I start to look back on the past few months, which extends to a year, which extends to the last major transition we had, and I start to realize that our family life has been in an almost constant state of one transition or another since we got married almost nine years ago. Job changes, church changes, pregnancy, childbirth, moving, sickness, school changes… some have been more significant than others, and most of them have been positive, but they still cause stress.

Then there are the things that have happened in the last 8.5 years that have been truly difficult. Seasons of anxiety and depression. Joblessness. Death of a loved one.

The reason why it’s been helpful to sometimes remember this past almost-decade is because there are seasons like the one I’m in right now when I feel overwhelmed and maxed-out but I can’t figure out why. Nothing monumental is happening on which I can pinpoint how I’m feeling, and yet thinking about living life at a high level of stress for so long means that even in a relatively peaceful season, I can still suffer from death by a thousand cuts.

That’s why reading Shona and David Murray’s new book Refresh felt like someone hooked me up to an oxygen tank and gave me the freedom to take several deep breaths. Not only is there so much practical and helpful advice in the book, but it was extremely encouraging to hear from someone with a very similar personality to mine put into words how I have felt for many years.

In one chapter, Shona encourages women to schedule an hour into each day where they can do, essentially, whatever they want. An hour to recharge and refresh. When I read that, I thought, Yes! That’s exactly what I need! And then I immediately thought, If I already feel overwhelmed with all the things I have to do, how in the world will I find an hour in each day?

I’ve been struggling to read my Bible and pray, let alone have an entire additional hour to myself. I expressed this to my husband, and he encouraged me to do a ‘time audit’; that is, write down everything I do each week and how much time I spend and see if there is anything I can change. While I didn’t think much would come of it unless I suddenly acquired the ability to create more hours in the day, I do love me a good spreadsheet, and so I began.

What I found was that in many ways, I was right. There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room. I do have many demands on my time, and very few of them are demands I can eliminate or even minimize. That said, it seemed like there were about 15 hours each week left over after taking everything else (including sleep) into account. Even if I had underestimated how long some of my weekly tasks take, it seemed like I could find 7 hours a week to schedule time for myself.

In Shona’s book, she says that studies have shown women spend an average of 2 hours a day on social media—not all at once, but about 9 times an hour, for a few minutes each time, which ends up adding up to 2 hours. I don’t know how much time I generally spend on Facebook and Instagram, but while I didn’t like the sound of 2 hours, it seemed feasible. And if you multiply 2 by 7, you get 14, which is about how many hours it seemed I had free in each week.

And so I decided to try something new. What if I took a break from social media for a month, got up 30 minutes earlier, went to bed 30 minutes earlier, and attempted to schedule an hour for myself into each day?

I’m only on my third day of trying this. But to my surprise, when I mapped out my week, even leaving in margin for unexpected events and things I had forgotten to account for, I easily had an hour to schedule in each day.

So far I have spent that hour mostly reading or writing in my journal. I have forbidden myself from doing any kind of planning/organizing, because while those things are fun for me (and I know that’s not true for everyone), they don’t give me any kind of mental relief. It’s just more of the treadmill that I already feel like I’m on all the time.

I gave myself until the end of November to try this experiment, so it’s too early to say how it will affect the mental burden I feel on a daily basis. But so far, I can say without hesitation that I haven’t missed Facebook or Instagram a bit. I have automatically gone to check them, yes, while holding my phone, but when I remember I deleted the apps, I just put my phone down and move on to the next thing.

It has given me more time even aside from the hour to myself, but more than that, it seems already like my brain feels less cluttered. I don’t understand the connection, and maybe I just need a complete break for a while and will be able to add periodic social media checks back in, but for now, I’m thankful for the respite.


Two Kinds

“There are two kinds of people in the church,” he said. “They are either self-sufficient—they think they can do everything themselves and will only ask for help in a true emergency—or they are, for lack of a better word, needy. These needy people know that life is better lived in community and so are willing to ask for help for emergencies as well as for lesser things.”

I balk at the word needy. I don’t want to need anything, even though these words are written with needful breath that infuses my lungs only by the grace of God. Everything but that, though, I can provide for myself. Who gets up first in the morning? Who lets the dog out and feeds him? Who packs lunches and thaws meat for dinner and notices when we’re running out of clean clothes and pays the bills on time? And yet, and yet…

And yet I don’t find myself in the self-sufficient camp, either. I know that I am not there because I know what it feels like to live there, because I once was there. And I do find myself sneaking back to that side of fence every now and then, which is made more obvious by the way I don’t want to feel needy.

It was two-and-a-half years ago that I stood on top of a mountain that I built with my own hands, a mountain I would gaze down from on all the people who just couldn’t stay on top of the important things. While I knew that my house wasn’t perfectly clean or our dinners perfectly healthy or my children perfectly behaved, I felt as though, overall, I was doing pretty darn good. My identity was in being able to run our household and care for my husband and our two sons.

And in one fell swoop, on a July morning, the mountain crumbled, and I stood there with great clods of dirt and stone in my hands, unable to even think clearly enough to start rebuilding it again. I would clumsily try to form something, anything, from the leftover pieces of earth, but it just slipped through my fingers back to the broken ground.

It has been a long and painful journey to come to a place where I stand on level ground, most of the time. There are no more mountains, and I can’t fool myself for long anymore. I have days or weeks where I start to rely on myself and then something unexpected happens and I am reminded that in the end, I am best off with my two feet planted squarely on the ground, content in the work that Jesus has already done for me.

One hard thing about being a needy person is having to be in relationships with people who are self-sufficient. When you are also self-sufficient, these kinds of relationships are very easy. You live in peaceful coexistence, willing to sacrifice something for a hospital visit or a car accident, but trusting that both of you are able to handle anything less serious.

But when you are the needy person and have to ask the self-sufficient person for help, it feels very risky. Will you be deemed worthy of help? Although you feel like your situation is desperate, will the other person see it that way? Or will the difficulty of the circumstance in which you need help be compounded by the judgment that you don’t actually need help, and you can probably handle it yourself if you just try a bit harder?

It is only in Jesus that the needy and the self-sufficient can find peace. Those who build mountains with their own hands will one day find that they are starting to slip down the side. And those who know the blessing of asking for and receiving help will one day find that human hands and hearts will fail them. The truth is that most of us vacillate back and forth between the two, and both can lead us to sin—pride, resentment, bitterness, envy, discontentment.

The gospel says that one day all of us will realize the equal footing we stand on. The needy will find true help, and the self-sufficient will realize their true need, and all of us will find ourselves kneeling at the feet of Jesus.



Like a Baby

Not yet weaned, and yet she is
Full and satisfied for now.
Held close with blanket tucked against
Her soft and sleeping face.

I hold her longer than I must
Just to watch breath in, breath out.
Then I lay her down in peace
To rest in quiet slumber.

I think of her face late that night
When my head hits the pillow.
My mind swirls with things to do,
Things undone, things overdue.

The voice inside my head tells me
How terrible I am at life,
But that if I try harder
I can make up for lost time.

Then I see her face again,
Perfectly content and calm.
Could this be how I can be
Or, at least, what he wants for me?

Father, let me lean on you
Just like this baby clings to me.
Content and calm, secure that you
Provide me all I need.


To the Mama with a New Baby

So many friends and acquaintances have been having babies recently. My husband and I have always been in a strange season compared to friends of similar age; because we had our first baby much earlier than our friends, I’ve had a few extra years to realize what was important at the time and what wasn’t. That said, I’m not any kind of expert. My only authority (which isn’t authority at all) is that I’ve had three babies. This is what I would want to say to my friends, if they asked–because I’m so against unsolicited advice! This is what I wish I had known almost eight years ago (and why I am presuming the baby is a boy, because my first one was!). 

Dear friend,

I am so happy for you. Regardless of your emotions surrounding your pregnancy and labor, now that your baby is here, my guess is that you feel overwhelmed by love for him. That is a gift from the Lord, because it doesn’t make sense to love something that just caused you a lot of pain. Enjoy those deep feelings of love. Take a thousand pictures in the hospital. Drink a couple of milkshakes. If you sleep, great. If you can’t sleep, enjoy texting all your friends about the details of your birth, because in future years, that will be what conversations with other pregnant moms always come back to. Dads don’t understand, usually, but most mamas will listen intently to a birth story.

When you get home, I only have one piece of advice, and it may make you feel like a bad mom, so feel free to ignore it. Let the baby sleep in another room. I found after one night that I couldn’t sleep listening to all the grunting and squeaking. The baby slept better in another room where I wasn’t tempted to pick him up when he wasn’t even awake, and I slept better, too. Good sleep is important for mamas and babies.

Read whatever you want to about breastfeeding and schedules and attachment and baby-wearing and all the information the Internet has to offer. Then think of a mom you know who has had at least one kid—a mom who parents in a way that you admire, or maybe just a mom with a kid who has slept well, or a mom who has breastfed, or whatever—and ask her what she thinks you should do about whatever you’re struggling with. You don’t have to take her advice completely, but just remember that the Internet is full of people speaking absolutes: “This always worked!” or “This never worked!” A real person you know will know you and love your baby and be willing to say, “That might work, or it might not. Either way, let me offer you some encouragement.” And if nothing else, you’ll have somebody to talk to when you’re frustrated and overwhelmed.

Don’t eat Pop-tarts all the time. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re probably starving, and that’s normal, but Pop-tarts are not your friend. Make some of these, or ask a friend to make them for you, and eat a few of those when you’re getting hangry. They are sweet and delicious but won’t make you feel like crap. Bonus: the ingredients help stimulate lactation!

Babies are very resilient. They are so tiny and fragile that it seems like anything could hurt them. I’m not going to tell the stories here, but let’s just say I cried more than once about something that happened to one of my babies that was my fault, and guess what? They’re in elementary school now and perfectly fine. When in doubt, call your doctor, and then let it go, because you only have so much brainpower.

Regardless of which method of feeding or scheduling you choose (or don’t choose), make it a priority to work toward getting 5-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. This may take months. Some babies take even longer. But if whatever you’re doing isn’t, even in a small way, progressing toward that goal, then it might be wise to re-evalute. You will be a better mom when you get good sleep. And there is a huge amount of sleep you will sacrifice in the early days. But if your baby is several months old and healthy and the thought of getting that much sleep still seems like a pipe dream, go find that mom I mentioned earlier and ask her what she thinks.

Remember that you are a mom, but you also have other names: daughter, friend, spouse, aunt, employee, etc. Your baby needs you, and so do other people. If someone offers to watch your baby while you go sit at Starbucks and read/write/stare at the wall, let them. You are a mom, yes, and it’s so important–but you are not just a mom.

Above all, revel in those beautiful yet mundane moments with your baby and then look at him and realize the depth of the Father’s love for you. Would you die for your baby?In a heartbeat. And your love, warm and strong as it is, is imperfect and will fail. God’s love never does. He sees you in the dark nursery at 2 a.m.  and knows you were there just an hour before and thought the baby would stay asleep for at least a couple hours. He knows that you’re tired. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindess, and you need all of those things in great abundance when you have a baby. Lean into him and know his comfort.

Grace and peace to you and to that new bundle of love,


I love talking about babies. I love being a listening ear for other moms, especially ones who are prone to anxiety and depression. Feel free to e-mail me at chelseykcrouch [at] gmail [dot] com.


Summer has passed, though it lingers in the temperatures. Fall has been teasing us with a few cool mornings, but they quickly turn into muggy afternoons. We wake up and put on long sleeves, but by the time our after-dinner walk begins, we change into shorts.

I didn’t know what to expect this fall. I longed for structure and routine, but adding a baby earlier this year and a dog right before school started meant that the routine has needed a lot of tweaking along the way. I’ve only just started getting full nights of sleep occasionally. The mornings are hectic, with me desperately trying to steal a few minutes to drink a cup of coffee in peace in between making breakfast and making sure the boys have their lunches and nursing the baby and feeding the dog and getting everyone to school on time. The evenings are better, if the baby is cooperating, but so much of the time I barely have the energy to get off the couch. The dog and I sprawl out and watch something mindless on the television.

But in the back of my mind, in the quieter places of my heart, has dwelt a longing to write, to get words out, to say what I think on the quiet ride to school in the afternoons with just the baby in the car, looking at herself in the mirror. Fifteen minutes of silence, and it’s glorious.

I don’t know what kinds of words will spill out in the coming weeks, or even if I will have time to write them. I want there to be time, and maybe I can figure out a way to squeeze minutes out of these overwhelming days.

There are words inside about anxiety, about depression, about having babies, about having boys who suddenly seem like they are older than they should be, about training a dog and the emotions it calls out, about looking at your heart after thirty one years and realizing it’s still very ugly, even after Jesus has made his home there.

I want to write about change and transition and loss. The way grief stays much longer than you wish it would, and the way it surprises you, and the way you have to look it in the face.

I have blogged and unblogged a dozen times in my life. This may well be a false start. But just in case it isn’t, welcome.