The last week or so has been a series of small, but significant, "aha!" moments. I feel refreshed in a way I haven't in quite some time...even though I am physically exhausted.

It's almost as if I have been asleep for a while and something in me woke up. It's pretty amazing really.

And you know what started it all? Committing to 10 days of corporate prayer with my church, earlier this year.

I had not been terribly excited about it. It was a hard commitment, and I wasn't even able to make it each night. Babies are far less interested in mom making it to prayer.

Some nights, even while I was there, I felt kind of blah and disconnected. My mind would wander and I'd have to retrain my thoughts back on God. I wasn't really "getting a lot" out of most evenings. I was going, I was participating, and my heart was fully there...and still some nights just ended. I went home and when asked about the evening I'd say they were "good."

Through it all though, I was *very* aware that God was moving. In subtle, hard to see, yet still powerful and life changing, ways.

Tonight hammered that in for me a bit.

I realized tonight while sitting in service, listening to my pastor preach about all being a part of one body, the importance of each piece...I realized that an old familiar hurt, so often aggravated by these types of lessons, was missing.

It wasn't whispering "ya, but" s in my ear or pointing to the actions of others. If anything I was reminded of the grace and forgiveness that God and people have shown me, countless times. I saw the billions of acts of love and kindness that have been shown me and my family.

Instead of pain there was peace.

I can trace the healing to a specific moment in those prayer meetings. Not a big deliberate moment either, just a stirring that something was changing.

Tonight? I saw the change.

Once again, I am awed that such a great big God cares so much about the little things in my small life.
It is a wild and windy night tonight. I can hear the wind whistling through the chimney of my tiny gas fireplace.

All the kiddos, including the biggest one of all, my husband, are snuggled in their beds.

I am thinking about running.

Yes, running.

Just last week I embarked on a little adventure and decided to train to *run* a 5k. I have been known to say that you really shouldn't run unless someone is chasing you, but as I get closer and closer to 40, I want something more active and challenging. I want to set a goal, and do something outside my comfort zone.

So today, day two, I went running. Armed with a borrowed iphone and a handy little app, I set out to run. I had been looking forward to this little break in my day. To a little time, on my own, doing something just for me.

Then my daughter asked if she could join me. I think I just heard a chorus of exhausted mothers just groan.

This? Was not my plan. 30 minutes with the daughter who's emotions have en all over the map lately, while I pushed myself past the point of reasonable breathing did not sound like fun.

Yet, I heard myself agree.

So we strapped on our shoes and I strapped on my less selfish attitude and off we went. It was as hard as I expected. It might have been nice to be panting on my own...but the smile on my baby's face as she was included in "my" time, ushered in with no complaints, showed me something much more important.

Maybe my little girl needs to do this as much as I do? For herself. To prove she can.

More importantly, maybe she just needs to know she belongs. With me. Her mama.
Today was one of those pause and take it in kind of days. Where, for just a second, I can kind of stop and see through the business of every day, silence the constant din, and take one brief moment to reflect, remember, and erect a remembrance stone in my heart.

I was working in the church nursery, a job I used to dread but now find pretty enjoyable, and just chatting with other women. The kids were all in great spirits today and playing pretty well so it was very relaxing and sweet.

As women do we covered everything from jeans, to mixers, to obesity, to diapers.

We discussed our mothers, the mothers we are or hope to be. The wounds, the triumphs. Life in general.

Somewhere in here I had a moment to think on Zoe's birth and the moment she was placed on my chest in the post surgical recovery room.

Zoe's pregnancy was filled with reassurances. Every test. Every ultrasound. Every routine appointment. Each and every one was confirmation that she was going to be ok. That she was coming home with us, whole and healthy. That our arms would be filled when we exited the hospital doors. That all of our tears would be tears of gladness (or exhaustion from sleepless weeks).

Yet, I don't think I exhaled for those nine months.

When she was born, Steven looked at me and whispered "She's perfect." So much in those two words. "God heard our prayers. He's blessed us beyond measure. There won't be heartbreak this time. we can rejoice."

The wave of emotion was palpable.

Yet still, hearing her precious cry and looking into her little face for the first time...those were nothing compared to that first moment where I could lay her on my chest and just drink her in.

Holding God's promise, skin to skin, in the quiet curtained space...I will never forget.

Unlike with all the other kids, there was no rush to share her with the world. I was grateful for that enforced time of just us three. I needed to hold her, alone. I needed to silently praise a God who had stood with me in the darkest time in my life, holding me up and giving me strength beyond myself. I needed to embrace her with every piece of my heart, including the parts I couldn't open before I held her.

So today, I watcher her walk, and laugh, and eat cherrios by the cupful... and I drank it all in again. My God, who never stopped loving me, though He asked me to walk a painful path, also set my feet here, in this place of much rejoicing.

Thank you Lord, for every gift you have given me...and those things that brought me anguish, that you allowed to open up such deep places of joyfulness. Thank you...a million times, Thank you.

My Dear Readers,

When Saturday comes. I wake up and always think there will be time for a great post...but there never is.

I think I may have to rethink a 7 day a week blog, and stick to Monday-Friday.

In any case, I pray you are blessed and that this weekend you will laugh from the deepest place in your heart and that you will feel God's incredible love.

Thank you for your understanding,
I keep staring at this screen, starting a post, backspacing.

Coming up with something interesting to say for 10 days straight I hard! Some days, like today, my brain simply shuts off as soon as the last kid has run out of reasons to prolong going to bed. Those days I sit on the couch and watch some truly mindless tv. The computer is too much effort. The toys stay where ever they landed. And I just sit.

Tonight was one of those nights. The day was wonderful and filled with special moments like a visit with a new friend and her sweet baby, but after adding in a new sport and some frantic running from point a to point b, I was spent.

I had a terse conversation that turned into a beautiful, but emotionally exhausting one, with my daughter *and* my husband.

So I have just been sitting.

Everything I think to write about seems forced, because the only real thing I can think of, is how desperately I want a pedicure.

I tried to write about the beautiful truths I found in Proverbs today...but they just sounded flat.

I could try and pick up on the Joy Dare again...but I kind of got lost there. I often felt like I was just not connecting to the questions...and that's ok.

So tonight I will just leave you with this simple truth...No matter how hard and exhausting life gets, I am grateful everyday that I have been given the chance to live it. Especially the life God has blessed me with.
It seems silly to be so excited and feel so... accomplished? for doing something as simple as ordering some inexpensive glasses...but tonight when I hit "Submit" on the order page I was positively giddy.

Today, in the midst of our daily chaos and with far too many things on my plate, I actually took the time to go and get the eye exam i have needed forever.

Then, when I realized I had no coverage to actually purchase glasses I went home and looked up a discount eyeglass site that I have heard good things about...and I actually ordered glasses. For me.

I have a bad habit, that is all too common in moms...or even just in women. I notoriously put off things for me, to do for my family. Which is noble, except when it is detrimental.

It's good to stay up late getting laundry done. It's bad to sacrifice vision because you never make the time.

So today, making the time, spending the money...they reminded me that I matter and that I am important...that is a good thing
A few months back I was reading this post by Michelle Duggar, yes, the one with all the kids.

I remember I had two thoughts:

First, was "Oh Thank God, she's had those days too!" I think every mom wonders, as they weep over dishes, sweeping, errand running, nursing, diapers, or any of the millions of things we feel so responsible for, if they are the only woman who has ever felt this way. If they are the only one failing. I have. A million times I have looked at my list of things to do and thought "I'm a failure. I can't do this. God, it's too much and too hard."

I just sent a series of those messages to a friend two weeks ago.

Sometimes my job is just.plain.hard.

We don't like to talk about it either, us mothers. When we say it out loud? Well, that's another failure. How can we look at all our blessings and thing it's too hard. This is the life we wanted and now we complain? Shame on us. Failure.

Somehow, knowing a woman with 19 children running around her home, who by all appearances are kindhearted, decent, loving kids. Rambunctious, but obedient kids. Kids who have learned well...somehow, if she has the strength to admit her 1am crying jags and utter exhaustion, then I'm not alone.

The second thing I noted was far less gracious... "I don't have someone who will help me with my laundry." Cue more crying.

I had a deep envy for a piano tutor who would help with laundry. None of my kids want to play piano, but still.

I quickly repented of my envy, but did tell God, "I could sure use help like that."

That was the end of it. I didn't sit and pitch a tent in my wallowing place and I didn't begin to seek after a laundress either.

There was a third thing I should have taken more note of. Michelle cried out in her desperation and God heard. He didn't just hear, but he acted.

The past few months have been trying. All of my kids are at pretty important junctures in their lives and I feel like my oldest daughter is really at a crossroads. Not between good and evil, but between knowing herself and being further beat up by the world. I have watched her struggle against herself, against me, but thankfully, not against God...though i have seen her struggle to grasp onto the truth of who He has created her to be.

And through all of this I have been her mother, her adviser, her corrector...and her teacher. I have felt so over burdened by these many hats...and I cried out that "God, it's too much. I can't keep doing it all. I am so overwhelmed!" and I waited for God to strengthen me.

I have felt his strength holding me up, pushing me forward, but I have still been overwhelmed.

And tonight? He sent me my laundress. Only in the form of someone suited to tutor my daughter in the two areas she struggles most in. The areas where she simply put up a block when it came to learning from me. Someone came alongside who passionately loves my little girl and sees a need and is willing to sacrifice to help meet it.

As I am typing this I can't even hold back the tears.

I have feared that I failed her. that I continued to fail her. I was so lost.

God heard me. He is blessing me by blessing my daughter. I am deeply humbled and couldn't be any more grateful.
Today was one of those days when I had soooo many good intentions.

I was going to do so many wonderful things while my older three kids were at one of their two days a week at school. It would be just me ant the baby so I'd have all kinds of time, right?

When will I ever learn?

It started well, I got the kids dropped off before the rain showed up, stopped at the grocery store for the few things I needed for dinner. Look at me, dinner already figured out at 9am. I was on a roll!

Get home and it was just a sprinkle so no mad dashes...only to realize that we forgot to close the door on our way out. How does an entire family forget to close the door? Horray for no hard rains and living set back of the main road!

So I started some laundry, but then I needed to change the I got sidetracked. Then she was hungry...and my mom called. So I fed the baby while talking to my mom. Just as our conversation was wrapping up my awfully determined baby...ok, she's a toddler...can I please just call her the baby? Anyway, she decided it was time to nurse. NOW!

She is the most distractable nurser on the planet so I got off the phone and spent some time snuggled up with her. Then we played some games and it was naptime!

I tried to eat breakfast in there somewhere. And I know I had my toast because I remember sharing bites with the boss. She's just too darn cute (and loud) to deny.

So, naptime...which also equals coffee time. Zoe is still very sensitive to caffeine so I have 3 small windows a day in which I can consume my daily cup. Just one cup, but 3 chances. And I had been mentally preparing this cup since I got in the car, talking myself out of going the long way home, just to hit a drive thru Starbucks.

Coffee brewed, cup in hand I stole a few minutes to watch the first half of my new favorite show. As soon as I finished my cup I whipped up a batch of lemon muffins from a tasty looking recipe and I put some eggs on to boil. Yay! putting a dent in my list!

The muffins were horrible. I'm not even sure the glaze on top saves them. Sad day. The eggs are ok, I think.

I had some lunch before being summoned by the princess.

And here is where everything goes haywire.

Apparently Zoe is part simian because she now climbs. Today it was the couch and I couldn't stop her or leave her side because climbing up was way more fun when it included running across, with no regard for edges or calamity! I tried to start dinner, and somehow did get it made...but there was a lot of whining, holding, snacking, and diapering in the mix.

And then Daddy was home and it was bedtime.

There is a good chunk of hours in there that just sort of happened. In a blur they went by with new discoveries, lots of excitement, and no real accomplishments.

Most days the pile of half finished laundry, gross muffins, and things not crossed off the list really bums me out. It's easy to look at today's failures and set up camp there...but today I can rest in the knowledge that I handled the important things.

And it's going to be enough.
Do you remember that scene in the movie Parenthood, at the end when wise old grandma is describing family life as either a merry-go-round or a roller coaster? If you haven't seen the movie, I can't say it's the greatest movie I've ever seen, but I do remember it had it's moments...and I still remember this scene, years later.

I couldn't help but think of it yesterday while my youngest son squealed in delight at his first finally tall enough to ride it, big roller coaster ride.

I was terrified for him. I knew he was safe, but he's my baby. Here he was about to be flung hundreds of feet in the air, flipping upside down, and defying gravity...and he just couldn't wait.

He had no idea what was ahead, but he knew it would rock his little world and usher in a new experience he'd never forget.

What he didn't know was that this was going to change me. This was one tiny step in letting him grow up and letting him spread his wings.

Before I know it he'll be grown, and I know how fast it goes because his big brother, my first baby, is on the cusp of manhood and reaching for new independence every day.

I don't know if I'm ready for this part of the ride, but I'm strapped in and holding on because before I know it we'll take off and I don't want to miss a second of the ride.
This is a 159 character text message post as I forgot to blog until I was cozy in bed. I return to real posts tomorrow.
This would be much easier with a laptop.
Sometimes I take a second, look around at my life, past the sticky fingerprints, sink full of dishes, and toys that litter the living room floor like so many tiny landmines and marvel at who I am, and where I've ended up.

I never imagined this life, twenty years ago when I was getting to know my best friend outside of a coffee bar, when I married him, or even headed down the road in our little red car on the way to deliver our first child.

I couldn't see the nights we stayed up way to late just talking, the 19 unit college semesters my husband slaved to get to the career God was calling him too, the first smiles of each of our children, the pain of saying goodbye to one of them, the absolute bliss of holding our miracle. I never imagined the struggles would be as hard and that they would lead to the sweetest places.

I look back at those kids walking down the aisle and I laugh at how little they knew about the road they would take.

This is not the life I imagined.

It is soooo much more.

I never knew the mundane things that would define me, would be things I would treasure.

I guess, once again, God is reminding me that His plans so much further exceed my imaginations.
Tonight, no good "first lines" are coming to me.

We all know how important that first line in an essay (or blog post) is. We learned back in middle school. That's the line that makes the audience decide whether they are going to keep reading. It has to be catchy. It has to grab the reader, draw them in...and I have backspaced my first line a million times.

I've got no good intro so I guess I'll just jump in.

Can that be okay for tonight? I mean, I'm bound to have 15 or 20 good intros this month, so a few super boring, sub par ones are acceptable right?

Back at the 10 days of prayer I did something new. It was pretty outlandish actually.

I have been carrying around this secret dream for nearly a year. An aching secret dream that I have mentioned to God in prayer a time or two, but knew it wasn't really n the realm of human possibility so I prayed things like "God, you know I really want this but I know it's probably not your will so help me to be content."

The same God I begged and believed would heal my daughter, I just wrote off as wanting me to have this other impractical dream. Sometimes I have to laugh at my own ridiculousness.

So here I was, at day 7 or so and sitting in my "personal prayer time" seat. Listening to the worship music and focusing on God and trying to be quiet and listen...and I started to pray about this dream.

Now let me be clear. It wasn't just big like "We need a new car." It was crazy big...and the desire for it was nearly crushing. To the point of tears at the thought of it being a dream never realized. For months I carried this around. Aching in my soul.

So I start to really be honest with God and pour my emotion all over the pew. I was utterly transparent in my dream. In the crushing weight of it. I poured it all out and gave it 100% to God, knowing he might say "no".

And I think that was my fear all along, that He would say "no" when I wanted to hope for a yes more than anything.

My God has plans for my life that are better than anything I can ever imagine. He has shown me that time and time again. In so many ways He has shown me...but this dream, it felt to big to let go of.

Until that day. I let it all go.

And it wasn't until last week that I realized that the heaviness and burden for my outlandish dream had vanished. I was no longer dragging around this heavy sack of fear and desire. God totally has freed me from it, by taking my burden as His. Even for something as simple as *my* crazy dream.

As for the answer to my crazy prayer? Maybe this post would be better if I ended with "And you know what? As soon as I let it go He said YES!!" But in truth, I'm fairly certain the answer is "No, this isn't my plan for you, sweet daughter". The amazing part is, I'm okay with that. Not just okay...but great with that. Because my dream was pretty big and amazing, so if He's got better for me? How can that be bad.
Do you hear that? Just now, the dryer stopped, the TV is off, and everyone is asleep. It is beautifully, blissfully the tap, tap, tap of the keyboard.

One of my favorite sounds.

I need to get up and put the kids' martial arts uniforms in the dryer and finish a project for a client tomorrow, but I'm just going to take a few minutes and write...sound good?

And yes, I did just say client. :) tomorrow I am meeting with a couple to help them create a personalized, styled photoshoot with my amazing friend Stacee Lianna and I am so excited. Styling shoots is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things. It's all the fun of wedding and party planning on a much smaller and more personal scale!

It's funny, because I didn't really see this happening, I was always just along for the ride and moral support with Stacee. I always knew she'd be behind the lens for epic shoots, but I didn't know I'd get to play a part in helping her clients build these amazing memories. Documenting special events and relationships in deeply personal ways.

I love how God is so remarkable like that. One of my most favorite things I used to have the opportunity to do when I volunteered with the Women's Ministry at my church was decorating and coming up with themed events. I LOVED it. I loved how a cute table setting would imediatly connect women to the central message of the day or weekend.

I have missed it. Deeply.

But God, in his immeasurable love, has given me a chance to practice what I love again. Isn't that so like him to care about something so insignificant? Because I care. And He loves me.

I am so blessed.

I tried to back myself out of this again. I always do :p

But it's February and here I am, I'm trying to carve out a few mins each day to sit and reflect.

Things are really weird for me right now because I feel like a few weeks back everything changed for me, and not one single circumstance in my life did. Finances didn't multiply, relationships didn't change, schedules didn't slow down, the baby didn't start sleeping.

Nothing changed...except me.

It's no secret I have struggled with a lot of stuff over the last few years. Mostly relational stuff. The hardest things to struggle through for me are relational stuff.

So how did it change?

God. No question.

A few weeks back we were having 10 nights of prayer meetings at my church. They weren't at the best times and they were hard to get to, but I really wanted to be a part of things. I wanted to see, first hand, how God would move.

I wanted to see all the incredible signs and wonders. Healing. Dancing in the aisles. I wanted to see it all.

What I saw instead was a family. A quiet family, waiting together and sharing in an intimate season together. God moved, yes. Pain was removed. Hope was restored. Faith was renewed.

And my heart was healed. Healed and open to what ever God wants to do.