Charlotte’s Web and The Broken Way

I’ve read the book. Seen the movie—the old animated one—dozens of times. Was in the play as a middle-schooler when my school put it on.

The spider dies in the end. We all know this. Our beloved Charlotte saves her friend Wilbur, the pig whose days were numbered unless someone intervened.

And then her time is up.

As a child listening to my teacher read the story for the first time, as a 13-year-old acting it out, as a mom listening to my husband read the E.B. White classic aloud with the baby draped over one shoulder and our then 6-year-old on his lap, I got the sadness of Charlotte’s Web. 

That’s what it was—sad. Books about animals always are.

But then last week, that little girl who once curled up with her dad to listen to the tale became Charlotte in a (highly anticipated) 3rd-grade, 30-minute version.

I sat there perched on the second row of that little corner theatre, camera in one hand and phone in the other, and watched her intently.

And my heart broke all over the place, because as she spoke her last lines in her little voice and the lights dimmed, I—for the first time—fully wrapped my mind around what Charlotte had just done.

I finally got it.  Continue reading

The kids are watching [our response to those in need]

I guided our red minivan into the left turn lane, the one closest to the median, and the man standing on it, leaning against the traffic sign, looked up, searching for a driver in the line to lock eyes with him. His shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops on a cooler-than-usual Florida day, along with the cardboard sign he held, indicated need. I caught his eye and nodded.

I am the woman who obsessively locks whatever can be locked—the front door, the screen door, the garage door, windows, car doors. I stash valuables; I buckle my kids tight; I creep silently to the peephole when the doorbell rings, wary of strangers. 

The man walked toward the van as I rummaged around in the center console and the tote bag on the front seat. I’m a mom; it’s in my job description to travel with snacks. My 2-year-old daughter grinned at me in the rearview mirror, and I locked eyes with her, too. My fingers finally landed on what I knew was somewhere in the bag, and I emerged with a chocolate chip granola bar.

I wished I had more, but it was something. I need to make care bags to keep with me.

I rolled down my window and offered it to the man.

“Would you like a granola bar?”

He had a crooked smile, weathered skin, and kind blue eyes. I wonder what his story is, but does it matter? 

“Thank you, ma’am.”

My throat was tight and all I could do was look him in the eyes and nod.

I rolled the window back up as the light turned green and we pulled forward. I glanced at the rearview mirror again as my little girl strained against her carseat straps to watch the man walk away.

“Did you gave him a ganolga bar, Mommy?” (One of those words I secretly hope she mispronounces forever.)  Continue reading

What I learned {the summer edition}

What I learned_ summer 2016

There are still three weeks of summer left, if we’re getting technical about it, but my kids have been back in school for two weeks already and I’m itching for the next season. So, here we go!

I should never, ever post a photo online of the stack of books I’m planning to read in three months. It’s just embarrassing. There were seven books in my stack, one of which I’d already read most of and so will not count here (Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler).


Seven books didn’t seem like a totally outrageous goal. But here’s what I actually finished: 

1. Stacey Thacker’s new book, Fresh Out of Amazing, which I had the pleasure of getting my hands on early as part of her book launch team. It was wonderful. Stacey’s stories are so clearly God-written, and I kept forgetting I’ve never met her in person—the more I read, the more I thought of her as a friend and a mentor. Her words are those of the girlfriend you sit and chat with over coffee at Panera, and I appreciate that kind of writing.

2. Three-fourths of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography. Fine, one-half.

That’s it. No, really. I blame Netflix and my children.

Before helping your child say buh-bye to the pacifier, be sure you are prepared with chocolate. And earplugs. One day in July, I decided I was tired of chasing down my 2-year-old’s pacifiers. So I did something rash I never would have gotten away with when her big sis was little: I walked around the house with a pair of scissors and cut the end off every paci I could find. (Pure evil, I know. I know.) The look on her sweet face when she tried to put them in her mouth! She declared them all “broking” and threw them in the garbage, and I thought, Hurrah! I’ve won! I’m a genius!

And that moment was followed by the worst three days we had all summer.

This is why I’m not spontaneous.

Building websites is fun. My friend Lindsey and I launched a new monthly email newsletter just last week, and I had the best time pulling together the website (really!). We used Squarespace, which I was already familiar with and is pretty easy to use—I’m no master coder or anything. But there was something incredibly satisfying about working on it—the challenges, formatting, troubleshooting, coming up with work-arounds when Squarespace wouldn’t let me do what I had in mind. Nerd alert!

TheDraftingDesk_promo1PS: Go subscribe to The Drafting Desk!

It was harder than I expected to send both my girls off to school this year

IMG_7094_blogThere are coyotes in Florida. Silly me for not knowing this, right? I’d heard about local spottings via my neighborhood board, but the only coyotes I’d ever seen myself were on Wild Kratts, and this one:

wile_e_coyote(Doesn’t count.) Until last weekend, when this one showed up in my backyard. IMG_9389

So, who wants to send their kids over to play now?

On a solemn note, I won’t be able to recall the summer of 2016 in future years without acknowledging the Pulse shooting. I’m still struggling to fully wrap my mind around the devastation that occured less than three miles from the house I grew up in. We witnessed something incredible in the aftermath of the horror though. I watched (as did my little girls) an entire community come together, uniting in prayer, hugging total strangers, and giving—giving so much. My 8-year-old and I scrambled around our house to find notepads, pens, snacks, and little gifts for those stuck waiting at local hospitals for their wounded loved ones, and together we delivered them to a local church. She and I sat and wrote notes to encourage people we will never meet. And I learned that though my children won’t fully understand the tragedy or significance of that day for years to come, our response mattered. Our prayers mattered. More tragedy was to come in the weeks that followed, here in our country and around the world. I believe God continues to sing comfort and love over those still wrapped in grief.


I felt a cool breeze over the weekend, and the meteorologist might say it’s the result of tropical weather, but I’m calling it hope. Fall is coming, everyone. Hang in there.

I missed Emily Freeman’s link-up this time around, but if you want to check out my past editions of What I Learned, you can find them here

Back to school and a prayer for my girls

IMG_6839I am not one of those moms who wishes it was always summer.

I love those moms. But I’ve had to accept the fact that at this stage at least, I’m just not one of them. Last year I made one of those summer bucket lists for me and the kids—sure, it was on sticky notes, but at least I wrote it—and guess how many items we checked off?


I love a good list, but you know what I loathe? Not accomplishing anything on a list I made for myself.

So this year, there were no lists, no plans, no expectations. And summer has gone a lot more smoothly  than I thought it would, until two weeks ago, when all the together time started getting to the three of us—the 2-year-old, the 8-year-old, and me.

Overnight, they were done with summer, and I was done with summer. My darling angel children were now kicking, picking, and yelling at each other. All that unscheduled time was starting to make me feel twitchy and prone to yelling too, and all of a sudden, heading back to school sounded like the Best Idea Ever.

It’s been like waiting for Christmas ever since. HOW MANY MORE SLEEPS? (That’s me asking, not the girls.)

It’s not the getting-the-kids-out-of-the-house part I’ve been most looking forward to—though let’s be honest, I do look forward to that. It’s the return of a schedule I can count on, and shopping for school supplies and new sneakers, and the promise of a turning season. I know it won’t cool off here in hot, hot Florida for a good long while, but I don’t care. When the school year begins, it means fall is coming soon, and fall is my favorite time of the year. Turn, turn, turn. Let’s get this show on the road.

But now I’m sitting here at the dinner table at 9:42pm thinking about tomorrow morning, when my baby—who was just born yesterday, wasn’t she?—will step into a preschool classroom for the first time. She’s been talking about it for weeks now. “I’m going to PRESCHOOL! I have friends and a TEACHER!” I know that those two days a week are going to be fun and valuable for her, and I know that God is giving me those precious hours to myself because there are words He wants me to write and goals He is pushing me toward, for my own heart and for the kingdom. But preschool feels so big.

And then tomorrow afternoon, after scooping up my toddler from her first day and kissing her smooshy little face off, I will take my other baby—wasn’t she just born yesterday, too?—to meet her 3rd grade teacher. Third grade. Third grade. 

My mind is just one big pile of clichés about kids growing up too fast and savoring the moment and days being long but years being short. When more seasoned parents say those things to me, I roll my eyes. Yes, I know, I know.

But I’ve been weepy for days and just realized why. It’s because Christmas is almost here—we’re down to just hours away—and maybe I’m not quite as ready as I thought. What if they’re not ready? Have I prepared my daughters well for the next season? Cue the tears again.

Where else to go but to my knees?

God, hold their sweet, soft hands as they step into the new and different.

Make their hearts tender and sensitive to the feelings of others—both their peers and their teachers.

Remind them of Your Word, tucked safely in their hearts.

Give them eyes to see the child who needs a friend.

Make them bold enough to be that friend.

May they observe other potty trained children and take note (You know which one I’m talking about). Okay, I’m kidding. Kind of.  

Help them to make thoughtful choices.

Fill them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Help them to give themselves grace when they make mistakes. Guide them in their I’m sorrys. May they extend grace to others and forgive freely.

Help them to be kind-hearted and to serve, even when it’s hard.

Open their minds to all that You have to teach them this year. Help them to soak up knowledge and grow in wisdom and in their love for You.

May whatever they do—from fingerpainting and building with blocks to writing book reports and performing in class plays—be done with their whole hearts.

Lord, please make them brave girls.

Make me brave, too.

For the mothers

My minivan didn’t come with any techy stuff, because at the time we purchased it, we were simply grateful to be buying a second car. Bare bones was fine with us—no media jacks, no DVD player, no automatic doors. Wheels, a solid engine, and a/c was all we needed, thank you Mr. Salesman.

Unfortunately, that means when it comes to music, our options are the radio or whatever CDs we have that still play without skipping. So yesterday morning, I did like I always do when I get tired of the local stations and fished one of the two CDs I keep in the car (JJ Heller and Ellie Holcomb, my favorites) out from under a pile of board books and shoes and stale pretzels on the floor. I blew the crumbs off and slid it into the player.

It had been—it has been—a long, long week.

I just needed to quiet some of the voices. No more news alerts popping up on my phone today, please Jesus. No more horrifying headlines to scroll through. No more “We interrupt this program for the following breaking news.” No more live conferences. It’s just been too much. Too much.

The CD player whirred (I sighed with relief, it’s working today), and JJ’s clear, soothing voice surrounded me and my girls on our drive. The title track, “I Dream of You,” is a mother singing love and sweet dreams over her child as she drifts off to sleep. I play it for my girls often, and I play it when I hold little ones in the church nursery. It always has a quieting, calming effect—on them and on me:

When you fall asleep
What will you dream
Castles and kings

The story’s been read
And you rest your head
Warm in your bed

My love, may you dream
Of beautiful things
’Til the dawn of the day bright and new

Wherever you go
I want you to know
When I dream
I dream of you

Fly over the sea
Float on the breeze
Careless and free

When your journey ends
Wake up and then
Dream it again

My Love, may you dream
Of beautiful things
’Til the dawn of the day bright and new

Wherever you go
I want you to know
When I dream…

I dream of gentle wind blowing in
Time seems to slow
Away we go 

Moonlight fills up your room
Darling, you are my dream come true

(by JJ Heller and David Heller)

The evidence of that morning’s round of crying had barely vanished from my face—I am a splotchy crier—and there I was, driving through suburbia in my minivan, kids in the backseat, just a routine morning, tears rolling down my face.

Because of the mothers.

I sing songs over my children, I do it all the time. I sing in the car and while I change diapers. I pray for them as they drift off to sleep, that they won’t be afraid and that their dreams will be happy. Those mothers, the ones who lost their children this week—at a concert venue, at a nightclub, during a family vacation—I’m sure they sang songs of love over their babies, too.

I cry for the mothers.

I ache for them. They are living through the unimaginable. Your babies are your babies, no matter their age.

And yet, I know that there is hope and the promise of peace. That those lullabies we sing to comfort our babies aren’t only for their little hearts. They’re for the mothers’ hearts, too.


Our Father is singing over us, over all of this fallen world. He knows His children by name, and He weeps with us. He knows we might be afraid to close our eyes at night, that we don’t want to see what our dreams are bound to drag to the surface from the depths of our minds. He knows that the darkness feels scary and lonely and that right now, the daylight doesn’t feel much better.

He is singing a sweet lullaby of peace, the kind of peace that is beyond what we can comprehend. The only kind of peace that can bind up a broken heart.

A song for the mothers.

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What I learned in May

What I learned_ May2016

It’s June 3rd, and the temptation to skip last month’s What I Learned post is big. We’re not even one full week into summer break and I’m running low on energy and inspiration. There are a few weeks’ worth of half-written blog drafts taunting me from their teeny minimized versions at the bottom right of my screen. Writer’s block has been real this month. Powering through, right? Here are four quick thoughts:

• I was introduced to this new month called Maycember, and ahhhhh, I get it. May brought with it the looming end of the school year, which meant extra activities, parties, a summer birthday to celebrate early, sorting out summer schedules and signing up for camps and dance class, rounding up thoughtful items for Teacher Appreciation Week, writing thank-you notes, attending closing ceremonies, and saying farewells for the summer. The jam-packedness of May rivaled the chaos leading up to Christmas break in December… dum da da dum, Maycember. (This blog post from Jen Hatmaker sums it up pretty well.)

• I don’t like cooking. That’s not something I learned this month; I’ve known that for a long time. I can cook. I just don’t find it fun. All that work, it’s gone within five minutes, and then you have to clean? Nah. (Don’t worry, family, I will continue to feed you anyway because I love you.) What I did discover in May is that cooking is a lot less of a chore when you’ve got an ’80s party mix blasting in the background. I’ve started rounding up my girls around 4pm every day for a dance party. We shake out the afternoon crankies to The Bangles and MJ and Cyndi Lauper (“Mommy, is this a grown up singing? It sounds like a little girl!”), and it is good. For some reason, I feel much more willing to feed them after that.

It’s already too hot to drag my 2-year-old in and out of Target for stuff. She won’t stay in the cart, and there is a serious lack of free cookies and balloons to bribe her with (God bless Publix, though). By the time I’ve finished wrangling/half-carrying her like a football around the store while pushing the cart with one hand and listening to her scream just for kicks (followed by a grin and a “That’s loud, mommy!”), I’m sweaty and ready for the day to be over. And that’s before tackling the checkout situation, getting the cart back to its corral, and safely loading kids into the minivan (constant vigilance!). It’s only 10am and I am done. Forget that. I will be ordering diapers and other necessities online this summer, thankyouverymuch. This is why God gave moms the internet.

• This article: Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life. It’s one of those pieces I had to read, think about, and read again, because Wow. I hope you’ll check it out. Let the Holy Spirit use her story to give you fresh eyes and a better understanding of people and the incredible ways God draws us to Himself.

Until next month…

Check out what others learned in May here, and join in! 

Want to check out past editions of What I Learned? You can find them here


What I learned in April

What I learned_ April

April went by so fast (cliché, I know, I know), yet its beginning feels so distant at this point that I’m struggling to remember—so I’m especially grateful today for my little yellow Moleskine notebook and that I had my wits about me enough to jot a few things down throughout the month. If I hadn’t, well, buh-bye memories. (Full disclosure, I spent 10 minutes looking for the notebook in order to write this post.)

So here’s April in a nutshell, short and sweet (well I tried, anyway): 

• I attended the Influence Network‘s one-day conference in Charlotte on the 9th (the first of several they’ll offer this year), and it’s tempting to just transcribe my scribbles for you here because there were so many takeaways that I found poignant during this season. (I won’t, though.) The kicker for me was this: Want to invite people into your life? Share your story. I listened to women talk bravely and honestly all day long, some through nervous laughter, some through tears. And I was completely ashamed of myself when I realized I had made judgment calls about several of them before walking in the door that day—solely based on their appearances and social media presence—and I had been so, so wrong. These were real women who had walked (or were still walking) through times of real pain and real struggle. I had no idea. Their faith was astounding. I was blown away by their testimonies and honored that they were willing to invite a room full of strangers into their stories.

There’s a lot more there, but this isn’t supposed to be one of those posts, so I’ll leave it for now.

Hamilton. I’m talking about the Broadway musical. (Yes, I was just introduced this month. Yes, maybe I do live under a rock.) Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? 

• Ready for another cliché? I blinked, and all of a sudden my tiny newborn baby turned 2. Didn’t we just bring her home from the hospital last week? When did she go from this:

10293562_10154158508470324_2110380520204866727_oto this?



Even journalism majors need to work on their writing skills. I’ve been taking Ann Swindell’s online course, Writing With Grace, and while it was humbling to acknowledge my need for a creative writing refresher, her course has turned out to be an incredible encouragement to me on this little journey. We’re a little over halfway through the six weeks, but I’m already willing to say I highly recommend it. There’s always room for improvement, and there’s always something new to be learned—not to mention the publishing field is ever-changing, and it’s been about, oh, 13 years since I’ve taken a writing class. Yeah, I was overdue. Onward!

• Finally, this month being brave looked like:

not pretending I like something just because it’s popular. Doesn’t that sound silly? But certain books, music, movies, blogs, podcasts, whatever—it’s hard for me to say, “Actually, I didn’t really enjoy that” when someone (especially someone I admire) is raving about it.

answering the question, “So, are you going to have any more kids?” with all the back story you could ever want. It was probably the most challenging post I’ve written to date, but God’s nudging on this one was not to be ignored. I was moved by the many responses I received, and it was affirmation, once again: When God tells you to share your story, share it. You need to tell it, and someone out there needs to hear it.

Until next month…

Check out what others learned in April here, and join in! 

Miss the March edition of What I Learned? You can find it here. 

Every family has a story

Photo in photo: Dearly Photography

Photo in photo: Dearly Photography

You might look at our family of four and think, Picture perfect. They’re so blessed. And I wouldn’t argue with you—God has been good to us. Two healthy little girls, nearly six years apart, one favoring my hubby and the other favoring me (depending on who you ask).

But a photograph doesn’t tell you about the journey to today. It doesn’t tell you about the years of longing, about the negative pregnancy tests, about the envy, about the long conversations, about the prayers, or about the loss.

For every photo of a smiling family, there is a story. 

I can’t speak to the unimaginable pain and grief that accompanies infertility testing, treatments, and the like. I won’t pretend to be able to understand what that’s like. But I have walked through seasons of unanswered questions, waiting, and wondering if my family dreams were just that: dreams.

Our story is, most simply, that pregnancy has never come easily.

Early in our marriage, I watched women around me become pregnant and families begin to grow, the news of each new life delivering a stinging blow to my heart. I wanted to say I was happy for others and mean it. I dreamed of being a mom. One year went by, then two, then three. I had a pretty intense fear of doctors at that point and chose ignorance as the better option, though I was secretly deeply afraid that I wasn’t able to conceive and carry a child. Looking back, my three years of struggling were nothing but a drop in the bucket—I know this now. But at the time they felt endless. I know women who have endured much longer and who continue to endure. Pain in the waiting is real, whether it lasts one year or 15.

Then one cool November day, I discovered I was pregnant. One season of my life ended, and another began. It was the beginning of what can best be described as a totally bananas pregnancy and birth (that’s the medical term for it, totally bananas). The curveballs started early and kept on coming (hyperemesis gravidarum and kidney stones were two), and God taught me lesson after lesson about adjusting my expectations. Those lessons didn’t stop after she was born, either, but that, my friends, is a story for another day.

Ten months later, I was blindsided by an emergency surgery for a problem I didn’t know I had until it was too late. (If you ever have a nagging feeling that you should go to the doctor, go to the doctor.) When I awoke from the anesthesia, there was a doctor by my bed explaining they’d removed a good portion of my reproductive organs but that I shouldn’t worry, because one ovary “should” do the job of two. Wait, what now? Don’t you know how long it took to conceive the last baby? And that was with two ovaries! Now I only have one? What if all my eggs were literally in one basket? What if that was my good side, and now it’s gone? 

I felt robbed. The whole thing had been so sudden and so shocking. My feelings of loss were wrapped around dreams of babies that didn’t even exist, but I grieved. I felt my body had not only let me down, but my husband as well. What about his family dreams? Together we released our future to God and moved on, focusing all of our attention on our little girl. Faith sustained me. This wasn’t at all what I had in mind, but I knew I could trust Him.

I needed to believe with my whole being that God’s plans for me were better than anything I could dream up on my own. 

For the next four years I hovered in a strange place of wondering whether I was capable of conceiving another child. If it was medically an impossibility, I just didn’t want to know. When you start marking years off the calendar, you begin to assume. We talked frequently about our daughter being an only child; we dove into adoption research; my previous health issue threatened to repeat itself; I went back to work. Life moved on. And then—just as unexpectedly as it had happened the first time—we discovered that after all those years of no babies, I was pregnant.

The nervousness, excitement, and complete shock gave way to grief when I miscarried several weeks later. (Can I just say? No one warns you about what that’s like, physically or emotionally. Perhaps nothing can truly prepare you for it. Still, if you’ve been there, I wish I could hug you and tell you—everything you’ve felt or are feeling right now? Go ahead and feel it. You have permission to grieve even the tiniest life.)

Our sadness swallowed us up for a while. When I came up for air, my practical response was to reduce the entire horrible experience to a big, flashing sign from God that we weren’t meant to grow our family further—our daughter would be an only child, and we needed to be okay with that.

But that wasn’t the end. He would soon remind me, once again (why am I always surprised by this?), that He was the one writing the story, not me. He had more chapters coming, and the next one just happened to be really good.


Photo: WriteTheRoughDraft

Our baby, our second little girl, turned 2 last weekend.

The chapter about the flood was followed by the part about the rainbow.

I know that no season in my life thus far has been without purpose—even if that purpose was simply for me to share this story with one of you reading right now, for His glory. I believe that wholeheartedly. I believe it for me, and I believe it for you, too—even if you are in the midst of what feels like the worst chapter of your life. He will redeem your story. There is more to come.

People have started asking if we’re planning to have any more kids. Close family and friends—and now all of you!—know our story, so at this stage of my life I don’t mind being asked. (But please, on behalf of those secretly struggling, don’t let curiosity get the better of you.)

I usually just laugh, shrug awkwardly, and stammer through some vague response. Knowing the twists and turns of our story so far, how could I assume to know the answer to that question?

I can’t peek ahead at the next chapter. The story of our family is in the hands of the Author.

We have to keep reading, turning one page at a time, soaking up the wonders, joys, heartaches, and love in every paragraph, trusting all along that He is good and that He loves us—and believing that He writes the best stories.

An extra note, because it is heavy on my heart this week:

If you are in a season of wondering and waiting, if you have received a diagnosis, if you are wading through the adoption process, if you are raising funds, if you are undergoing procedures, if you are grieving loss, if you are questioning what in the world God is planning for your family—you are not alone. 

And if you have walked through the dark days and broken through to light on the other side, whether it be through a child born, a child brought into your forever home, or simply peace in the uncertainty, praise God! Share your stories and yell hallelujahs for the miracles. Continue to support those who are still in the thick of it. You don’t have to give advice—just be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Offer hope. Reach out. Squeeze a hand. Pray. 

We each have a story. Let’s be in this together. 


April 24-30, 2016 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Read more here. 

What I learned in March

What I learned_ March

It’s a new month, and I’m here (a few days late) to link up with Emily Freeman for the March edition of What I Learned. I’ve been keeping a tiny notepad handy and jotting these things down so I wouldn’t forget—I’m so glad I did!

So, without further ado, here are some things I learned in March:

 For me, sometimes being brave looks like:

holding a friend accountable

saying yes to a playdate

asking for help

being honest—more specifically, not pretending I know what someone is talking about and then googling it later

chaperoning a 2nd-grade field trip

• I have been missing out my entire life by not going strawberry picking. We took our kids for the first time, and they loved it. This activity is going on the list of new family traditions. Which leads to…

Just because you can pick 8 pounds of strawberries doesn’t mean you should. My kids were all, “Yum, strawberries!” and “These are the best strawberries I’ve ever had!” until we got home from the patch, at which point they decided they were really more in the mood for other fruit.

Me: Want some strawberries? 

Toddler: I want bana! 

Me: But we have all these yummy strawberries, don’t you want some?

Toddler: I want booberries! 

You get the idea. I now have about 6 pounds of strawberries in my freezer. Who wants a smoothie?

Daniel Tiger offers good advice to my kids about 87 percent of the time. The other 13 percent have me running to turn off the TV.

Some examples:

“Whatever you do, think about what other people need too.” Good advice!

“When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” Not bad, Daniel.

“If you have to go potty, stop and go right away.” Yes, that’s wise, thank you!

“When you can’t do what you want, stomp three times to make yourself feel better.” Wait, what? Are you telling my kid to throw a tantrum? Daniel, I don’t know how I feel about you right now. 

Moving on.

OXO Good Grips POP Containers have helped us make major strides with our shortage of kitchen storage. They stack. The lids are interchangeable. The food stays fresh. And there’s no crumple crumple of cereal bags waking up the toddler in the morning. Add these to the list of items I should have registered for had I not been 23 years old when I got married. (Because at 23, I was not thinking about kids and goldfish crackers and all the cereal.) Thanks, Bed Bath & Beyond, for that 20 percent off coupon—I finally used it this month!

The Inside Out soundtrack is worth purchasing for $7.99. I love it, my kids love it. It’s delightful and inspiring. (That goes for the movie too, for that matter.)

• And [appropriately] last, I learned that sometimes it’s best to just be quiet. 


Check out what others learned in March here, and join in! 

Miss February’s edition of What I Learned? You can find it here

Bikes, bruises, and growing up

At age 7 and a half—’cause we all know the halves are important—my daughter has learned to ride her bike training-wheel free.

It took three afternoons. Three long, are-we-doing-this-parenting-thing-right?, call-upon-the-name-of-Jesus afternoons.

I’m being a little dramatic, but then, so was she. I don’t know where she gets it from.

[Side note, I now know all about balance bikes. We missed the memo. That’s what second kids are for, right?] 

The process began rather abruptly with the announcement that she was ready for the training wheels to come off. Peer pressure might have had something to do with it, as most of her classmates and quite a few much younger friends have already passed this milestone. She’s been aware of this and has taken it in stride. For her, it wasn’t the time yet. She hadn’t been ready, and that was okay with her and okay with us.

We’ve learned to trust her instincts with things like this. When she received her first big-girl bike with training wheels for Christmas a few years ago, she lovingly ran her hands over its shiny pink surface. She was effusive in expressing her gratitude to Mom and Dad for the gift. She even sat on it for a minute so I could take a photo. But no no no, she was not ready to take it outside and put her feet to the pedals just yet.

So it sat, and we waited, and all the while she thought it over. And then one day, she hopped on and rode away, and that was that.

It was a huge learning moment for us as parents as we began to understand just a little bit more about how this girl worked and the intricacies of the traits God had woven into her personality.

We found ourselves back in the same boat again when a birthday passed, and then another, and she was no no no, not ready to take those training wheels off.

But three days ago, she decided it was time.

Day 1 was… well, I’m not going to talk about Day 1.

On Day 2, things were starting to come together—the pedaling, the steering—but boy was she quick to throw herself off the bike when she felt she was losing control. It became the routine: start to wobble, wail like a banshee, and leap off the beast bike and into the safety of the grass. This was simultaneously frustrating and entertaining. But we began to notice that despite the scrapes and bruises she was accumulating and the sweat, dirt, and tears of frustration running down her sweet face, she was not and I mean not going to stop. She was getting so close, but after a couple hours of this torture (for all of us), I had to set a timer to put an end to it and promised we’d be back at it the next day.

So, Day 3. She had a fierce gleam in her eye as she strapped on the purple princess helmet. She let me take a picture of her sitting on the bike. And then she kicked off and just rode away. For the next two hours I watched her wheel up and down the sidewalk in front of our home, turn around in the neighbors’ driveways, and swing back by again while I cheered, shot video, texted the grandparents to share the news, and breathed a massive sigh of relief.


Learning to ride a bike. I can’t remember what the process was like when I was the one wibbling and wobbling on two wheels for the first time. But if it was anything like this, well, bless my dear parents.

This morning we noticed she’d selected a pair of tall socks for school, which she had pulled up past her shins. I thought it was an odd selection (temps here are reaching the 80s already) and raised an eyebrow at my husband.

“She’s covering up the bruises,” he explained. She pulled down the socks to show me her shins.

Small blue and purple bruises marked paths up the fronts of both legs—wounds from all those collisions with her pedals while falling off the bike. I grimaced, but encouraged her that it was okay and she didn’t need to hide them. Her dad chimed in, telling her they were awesome battle scars and that made them cool.

She looked at us skeptically and hiked the socks back up.

We’ve been seeing the signs of a little girl who’s growing up. Lingering a little longer in the mirror when she brushes her hair. Getting embarrassed more easily. Writing a note to a boy: “You’re cute.” (My husband nearly died.) Showing concern over having the right thing to wear. Simultaneously wanting my arms around her at all times and wanting me to leave her alone.

But this, with the bruises. There is so much for us to learn, 7-year-olds and parents.

The bruises are ugly. Why would we want anyone to see them?

Because there is beauty in those wounds. There is a story.

What strength and determination my daughter discovered within herself in those moments as she struggled to conquer this thing she’d set out to do! But perhaps more significant, she recognized after time and time of falling—struggling alone through the frustration—that Mom and Dad were right there for her, calling out advice, ready to swoop in and scoop her back up, help her get back on track if she would only let us.

We fall; He offers us a hand and helps us to our feet. We brush ourselves off. He sets us back on the path and we try, try again. When we finally overcome it, whatever challenge we face, we take with us those black and blue reminders of the struggle. But we also walk away with a story to tell—a beautiful, grace-filled story.

Don’t be ashamed that you fell down, baby girl. Show your bruises and tell your story, and know your mama is trying her best to do the same.