Category Archives: being mom

{moments in mothering}

there’s times I feel like I can’t keep up as a mom –
especially with the big age gap between all my kids.
I feel like Gumby, the green stretch man most days..
tugged and pulled in all directions.

major life decisions being made with the oldest.
while still helping the youngest brush (all) her teeth before bed.
and every extreme between!

there’s days of getting it all pretty right.
and days of getting most of it wrong.
on Monday, after a crazy weekend,
and looking at an even crazier week,
I was feeling so overwhelmed.
how could I do it all?
but most importantly, BE all I needed to be?
mainly to the people in my own home.
I found myself praying, “Lord, give me moments.”
one on one connection.
quality time.
sensitivity to what they need.
patience to put them first.

I felt acutely aware of my prayer last night..
after a crazy day of running non-stop.
getting home at ten.
then sitting in the driveway answering texts and messages,
when all of a sudden the back car door opens.
I hadn’t even seen her dash out.
my littlest in her night shirt. no pants. only underwear.
looking for the books we’d bought earlier at the book fair after school.

“mom.. can we read now?”

I start to say, it’s late. you need to go to bed. you’re only in your underwear!
but I hear that prayer for moments in my head. so I nod.
I stay in the front seat where I am and she in hers behind me as she begins.
it’s a long process as those of you with beginner readers know.
and I turn to tell her words and close my eyes a few times asking again
for patience to put her first over my tiredness.
and finally when she’s done one, there’s a second one..
that of course has to be read too.
so I nod again.
and think how these haven’t always been the choices of my younger mom years.
but I wish they had been.
so I try to relax and remember this is the stuff that matters.
and then, 30-minutes-to-read-6-pages later!!
she slaps it shut and says she’s going in, calling as she jumps out –

“I’ll have to run cause it’s raining..”
and halfway up the driveway I hear,

(a little clip from our late night reading sesh in the car)

moms.. if you’re feeling that you’re under the waves more than you’re
on top of them lately – pray for moments.

sure, we’re going to mess up.
we’re going to get it wrong.
some days they’ll watch more tv shows than they should.
eat mac n cheese for dinner.
and not even brush their teeth before bed.
you’ll feel you’re totally screwing up.
there’s one that’s falling through the cracks.
that maybe you can’t get through to.
or you haven’t connected with in awhile.

it’s easy to spazz in those times.
to jump into control mode and force things.
but often that only leaves us more overwhelmed.
I’ve learned, and am still, to give myself grace..
and “give” isn’t necessarily the right word.
TAKE the grace God provides.
it’s nothing I do and all what He’s already done!
and that thought makes me sink into rest vs. despair..
which we tend to do as moms.
feel like a failure.
like we can’t do it all.
and yes, we can’t always.
life gets busy.
we get tired. grumpy.
but that’s the beauty of grace. it always arrives fresh. every morning.
I love the quote that says, “courage doesn’t always roar…
sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says
I’ll try again tomorrow.”

praise God for tomorrows!

so, maybe there weren’t really any great dinners this week.
or grand adventures.
but there were some sweet times tucked in among all the crazy.
like the one in the driveway, in the rain, listening to a little reader stumble through her words.

those are the things our kids will remember one day.
those are the things they’ll hold on to.

Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They ARE the most important work. – C.S. Lewis


{a new rhythm in parenting}


last sunday morning, we dropped the little girls off at a birthday party..
after the whole gong show of having to turn around halfway there to go back to
get the birthday present we’d forgotten.
pick kate up from a friend’s house where she’d spent the night.
get the little girls situated at the party.
and realize we were now 20 minutes late for church.
we decided to take the older kids advice and go out for breakfast with them instead.

there would have been a time i would have been more,
“no. we’re going to church. you kids need Jesus!”
and though i love church. and it is, and will always be a huge part of my life.
it’s certainly not the only place to find Jesus on a Sunday morning!
sitting in the breakfast house restaurant talking about life and universities,
and future plans and sex, {yep. that came up in the conversation too}.
and laughing, and listening and interacting, felt even more God-ordained
than sitting in a straight row in the church pew.

can i just insert here that, parents, if you want to keep the hearts of your kids.
keep the communication lines open between you, it might mean at times bending
on some of those things you never thought you’d bend on.
you can force your kids to do what you ask.
yes, your house. your rules!
we’ve actually had that conversation with our kids about church.
“as long as you live here you go where we go.
church together as a family is not an option.”

but, letting them skip out every now and then to go somewhere else?
or not even go at all?
taking off to the city with friends?
or a breakfast date with mom and dad?
okay, then. there’s exceptions to the rule.

we have to learn to bend so that we don’t break the relationship all together.
in my opinion, yes, relationship is more important than church attendance.
i’ve seen far too many parents force outward conformity at the expense of losing
the heart of their child all together.
it can be a tricky thing –
this delicate dance of knowing when to bend and when to stand firm.
it’s a rhythm i’m still working to find.

i LOVE having older kids.
it really is my favorite phase so far.
but i’ll be honest.. it’s the phase i’ve felt most lost in!
i’m not always sure how to respond. what the next step should be.
and how to maneuver through it all with grace and calm.
i remind my kids often, “i’ve never done this before!
i’ve never parented a 19 and 17 year old..
i haven’t a clue what in the world i’m doing!!”

it really has just been alot of trial and error.
alot of, i messed up. i got it wrong. forgive me.
alot of talks and tears and figuring it out together.

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when kate first came back from south africa we went through
such a period of just clashing!
it seemed no matter what i said it was wrong.
how do you give a curfew and say, no, you can’t do that when they’re of legal age
and basically lived on their own for a year?
independence once tasted is hard to be retrieved.
and it took some tough times and humbling myself to listen to her.
i had to hear from her what she needed from me and how i could do better
at mothering her at this point in her life.

it was HARD!

i thought these things would naturally align themselves.
wouldn’t my kids just always adore me like they did when they were five?
one of the hardest things for me has been to not parent from my emotions.
guys, i don’t do that well!!

the thing with your grown kids is they can hurt your feelings.
man! it can sting.
and my flesh, my emotions, wants to retaliate.
“fine.. hitchhike to ball practice! make your own dinner!”
no more sacrificing on my end!!
i’m not going to put myself out there to be hurt.
please tell me i’m not the only immature parent out there.

shayne is so much better at it. that mature parenting thing.
he’s calm and cool and wise.
lays out the boundaries and sticks to his guns.
i’m a hot mess. so easily swayed.
one minute full of mercy. the next..
“i brought you into this world and i’ll take you out if you act that stupid again!!”
i’ve had to learn/ am learning that even though i might be freaking out inside
i can’t let it show on my face.
“what the what?”
that’s hard for me. i’m pretty much an open book.
but, i know from experience.. you freak out on your kid when they’ve made
a bad choice or had a bad attitude, or whatever it is, and you will shut their
spirit off to you in a heartbeat.

there’s a quote i like – “being kind is better than being right.”
i think that applies big time to our kids.
be kind to them when they make mistakes.
be kind as they’re trying to figure it all out.
who they are. what they’re doing with their life.
and most importantly, be kind, even if those choices don’t
look like what you think you should.

i never really cared much about what other parents thought of my parenting..
i mean, my kid was the pacy-sucking, disposable diaper wearing,
formula drinking one asleep on their belly!
i didn’t care what all my crunchy granola mama friends said about no peanut butter
until they’re two and no chewing gum until they’re six. whatever.
but put two college age kids on my hands? that everyone’s favorite question is,
“so.. what are kate and ben doing with their lives?”
and suddenly, i found myself caring a whole lot about what other parents think!

after the first couple of times of staring blankly at people when they asked
i went to the kids and said, “give me something, guys!”
to which is was something like,
“travel the world and run a lama zoo!”
so i knew i better come up with a better answer myself.

once, at a ballgame this past summer..
i was sitting a few bleachers up from kate when i heard another mom ask,
“so, kate.. what are you doing?”
kate shrugged, “oh, nothing!”
because as frustrating as it is being the parent of a college student undecided
on what they want to do, it’s even more frustrating for the student.
kate had said that was going to be her new standard answer.
but, caring about others opinions of our parenting in this new phase i did the
totally creepy mom, i’m listening to your conversation from all the way up here,
thing as i called down with a laugh, “oh, she’s joking!!
she’s working two jobs and saving her money and looking at different universities..
right, kate??”

kate just gave a half-smile and nod. she knew what i was doing.
i embarrassed myself that day! and decided from then on, going forward,
the best answer to give that i had struggled to find was just the honest one.
“she doesn’t know what she wants to do yet.”
and you know what?
that’s okay.
she has a better idea now than she did last summer
and we’re working on mapping that out with her.
but man! there is so much pressure on these kids straight out of high school
to know what they want to do with their lives, for the rest of their lives.
when reality is, here we are as parents at 42 and 43, still figuring it out ourselves as well.

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one of the biggest things in parenting older kids is giving them SPACE.
space to just be!
yes, we are there to guide and give advice and instruct
and there are times to put our foot down and say, “absolutely not!”
but most of the time, at this time in their life –
the foot putting down days are over.
and they have to be given the freedom to think and decide things for themselves.
and guys, that is the freakiest part of all in parenting!

and here we thought it was bad when they pooped up their backs when they were babies!

there’s moments with your older kids you’d give anything to have *that*
be the toughest part of your day again.
from, “which book do you want?” at bedtime.
to, “what do you mean one o’clock in the morning is too early of a curfew?”

i’m sure parents of older kids reading this are probably groaning and laughing
all in the same breath. i know you get it.
and parents of littles, don’t be afraid. ha!
it’s wonderful. i promise!
the good far outweighs the bad.
it’s a blast and nothing has burst my heart wide open with so much joy than having
young adult kids that i just find so cool as individuals and love hanging out with.

but it stretches your faith like nothing else.
that’s really what the “hard” is all about.
we say we trust God..
it’s the expected answer.
but the answer we know in our heads is alot different to live out!

those times of lying awake in the middle of the night,
worrying over something they’re going through.
or waiting on them to get home, when you know they’re with friends
who aren’t your first choice for them to be with.
when there’s been struggles and attitudes and beliefs they’re not sure they share.
those times of fear and what if’s? and feeling completely at a loss.
and what if all we’ve trained and taught them and tried to pour into them..
what if they choose a path opposite than ours?

as followers of Christ, we believe ultimate fulfillment is found in Him alone.
but what if our kids don’t share that belief? or veer away from it for a time?
what about those times?
will you trust Him then?
that He is faithful.
that He is sovereign.
that He cares.
that He’s at work.
that no amount of rules or lectures or 10 p.m. curfews or church services
or forced bible time or controlling or circling the wagons can change what
is inside their heart.

only God can do that.

and that.
that can be the hardest point of all our lives to trust Him with.

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of course it doesn’t mean we do nothing.
like, i’m just going to sit here twiddling my thumbs, trusting Jesus.
yes, it’s about faith in God. but it’s active faith!
as my kids would tell you, i’m not silent with them when it comes to what
i think they should and could be doing, saying, acting, living.
we talk ALOT.
we get passionate about our opinions.
we disagree.
we argue.
there’s still plenty of just plain, “i’m the parent that’s why!”
but more and more. little by little.
there’s this whole releasing thing too.
learning to parent hands-free.

hands-free parenting just means you’re face planted on the floor more.


i’ve never been great at it.
but man! i’m learning.
i’ve been reading priscilla shirer’s book, fervent.
so, so good!

coming home the other night i had kate on my mind so strongly.
she was gone for the night with friends and suddenly, i was worrying about her.
usually, i’m halfway down the toilet drain of lies..
she’s kidnapped, dead, and gone before i even think to stop and pray!
anybody know what i mean?
but in trying to spot those early signs of beginning to circle the bowl,
i stopped right then and just went to God with my concerns.
kate told me the next day there was a weird guy hitting on her that night.
and when i asked about what time..
right around when i was feeling that way!

guys, we can never underestimate the power of prayer and the promptings of the Spirit in us.

i’m so far from having all the answers.
i don’t write these blogs because i think i have it all together..
but, because i don’t!
and for any of the rest of you out there maybe feeling the same way.

mothering of all our jobs is so closely knit to our identity.
such a reflection of who we are, and for years i struggled to feel that
i had to get it all right in order to feel i’d succeeded in my role.
now, it’s kind of this strange realization that it’s actually been, mostly,
in the times i’ve gotten it wrong.
the times of brokenness and not having a clue that have propelled
me to be the best mom i can possibly be..
because it’s been those times that have pushed me more into Christ
and seeing my great need for Him.
i’m convinced this parenting journey is far more about what God is doing
in me than what it is i think i’m teaching my kids.
the “success” of any of it is having a heart that is rooted deeper and deeper in Him.
and if my kids see that in my life? despite all my flaws and failures..
then i think i’ve done my job well.

this past summer we were at a waterfall with some friends.
after splashing around at the bottom for awhile, ben, in typical ben fashion
decides to climb up the side of the falls.
soon after, and again in typical fashion, he calls to kate who goes and
begins following him up.

i’m sitting on a rock close by watching them.
i feel a little nervous, but not too bad.
i’ve watched them do this sort of thing their whole lives.
but then, they get higher. and ben’s hand slips and he falls down a bit,
knocking kate off balance.
i stand up and call ben’s name, then kate’s.
they go a little further and i see ben struggling again.
the ledge is narrow and the rocks are slippery.
now my heart is beating fast and i try to get closer..
yelling out their names, but the water is too loud, too overpowering.
they can’t hear me.
i’m almost directly beneath them but they’re both oblivious.

and so i just stand there.
and hold my breath.

i know one of them will fall at any moment.
i’m almost sure of it.
expecting it.
i grimace as i see them go higher.
it’s the last ledge before the top and here i’m positive they won’t make it.
i shut my eyes, waiting on the scream.
when i hear none i open them up slowly, one at a time.
and as i squint against the sun trying to see, there they are.
at the top laughing and waving and, “hi, mom!”
and i just smile and shake my head and wave back.

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i’ve thought of that story so many times since then.
how parenting and struggling to find my rhythm in this new section
feels much that way. a bit helpless at times.
the roar of other influences so loud.
any attempt to control or change the course, futile.
there’s no going back.
all i can do is look up.
watching. grimacing at times. yelling against the drowning flow at other times.
but mostly, just trusting.

trusting God.
trusting them.
trusting this whole process.
that they’re learning to climb on their own.
and come to discover the Rock that is higher than any of this.


world changers.

on the way to church yesterday i was scrolling through my Facebook.
after a highly charged political weekend it was FULL of emotions.
i have quite a diverse group of friends so there were opinions from every side.
i was reading some of them out loud to shayne and by the time i got to church
i just couldn’t turn my brain off.
our pastor was preaching a message titled, “living in babylon,”
which felt very fitting.
i dug in my purse for a pen and paper and couldn’t find anything except the babies-r-us registry
i had printed the day before for a friend’s shower.
so between the medela harmony breast pump line and bamboo muslin swaddle blanket,
i started scribbling thoughts as my mind swirled…

i was thinking of the unrest i feel coming from my country.
this sense of something so much bigger than me, and what am i to do about it?
what’s my part? how do i contribute?

i’m not sure i’ll ever be able to do much to actually change policies in washington.
but i do know i have influence with the lives within my own home.

i can teach my son to respect women. to be honorable and polite.
and if you haven’t had a blunt, lay it out conversation with your boys of what
exactly “objectifying women” looks like, you need to.
from loose locker talk after the game to every version of porn {which is the real issue we should be raging war against!} at their fingertips at every turn.

i try to tell ben, “don’t participate in any way when the guys are talking rude about a girl..”
don’t laugh. don’t listen. walk away.
it might be the “norm.” but it doesn’t have to be you!
be known for treating women well.
and how you treat women is how you view women.
and how you view women is based on the condition of your heart!

being a guy who strives for purity is not an easy thing in our society.
i totally believe moral responsibility is individual.
you cannot blame anyone for your lack of self-control.

but, i also want to teach my girls that beautiful does not equate sexual.
you can be attractive, love your body, embrace your sexuality without
having to have it on display.
your confidence comes from so much more than what you look like
and true worth is found in what cannot change.
no one can take the power you possess as a woman unless you give it!
we were created equal, but we can choose to serve.

men and women ARE different.
{and thank God we are!}
different is good!
we are not limited by our differences but strengthened
because there are certain things each brings to the table.
there are different roles to play, and that’s okay. that’s cool. that’s to be celebrated.

how society wants to define us is not the sum of who we are.
men are not sexual beasts any more than women are sexual objects.
we are so much MORE!

and this – God’s design is not bondage or anything to make excuses for.
God’s design done God’s way is freedom – Ultimate Freedom.
recognizing who i am. who i was created to be. and what i have to offer.

it’s easy to look around at the unrest or animosity in our country
and wonder if we can truly do anything to have an impact or bring change.
some feel they are to storm the castle of washington.
to rally and march and lift their voices with thousands of others.
those things have their place, and every one is entitled to their opinions.

but there is another arena. a quieter arena.
one with less pomp and pizzazz.
with no banners or signs or special t-shirts.
there’s no news report to broadcast and most will never know exactly all you do.
but you better believe a castle is being stormed nonetheless and voices lifted.
a battle is being raged and the trenches are deep.
we might not march shoulder to shoulder but we are in this together.

you might not see it now.
and you probably don’t feel it most days..
maybe you’re tired. a little overwhelmed.
but listen to me, women. moms. you ARE world changers!!
and in the most important place we need change
right in our own homes!
in the hearts and lives of the next generation.

don’t ever think for one second that because your voice isn’t as loud,
it is any less powerful.
or your work so mundane that it isn’t significant.
that wiping bums and chopping veggies and folding laundry and
kissing owies isn’t kingdom work.
it matters.
it’s important.
and you hold so much power {more than you know} to truly make a difference.

“if you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” -Mother Teresa

so, carry on warrior mama’s.
our country needs the work you’re doing.

{letter from kate}

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it’s been a little over a month that she left for south africa.
since then she’s spent time on the streets of germany on the way there.
hugged a few lions.
hung out with penguins.
listened to lectures by two close friends of nelson mandela.
met desmond tutu.
and spent time teaching a classroom full of little swazi kindergarteners for a whole week..
which she said has been her favorite thing so far.

i talk to her on the phone and catch myself smiling.
i hear everything she says. hang on every word. every detail.
i picture it all in my mind.
but more than that. i find myself really listening to her voice.
i can’t describe it..
except, i listen, and i hear it.
the change. the maturity. it’s like she’s growing up even as she’s speaking to me.

her voice is sounding different.
and i love hearing it.

i think of her almost constantly.
like there’s never a time she’s not somewhere in my thoughts.
i wonder where she is at the moment. what she’s doing. how she’s feeling.
but i think a lot too about years past with her.
when she was little. when she was home last.
conversations. memories.
they all just spin and collide in one big mash-up in our hearts.
this beautiful medley only us mama’s hear..
of our babies becoming the people they were meant to be.
every part of everything that’s happened to them is so important. so necessary.
i’ve said to kate a dozen times – “no part of your story doesn’t have purpose.”

there’s a reason.

a reason that happened in grade nine. why you walked through that in grade eleven.
why we moved here when you were thirteen. why you felt your life was over.
why you hurt. why you questioned.
there’s purpose in it all.

and i think that’s one of the greatest joys as a parent –
seeing your kids take what once caused pain or confusion or insecurity
and using it to let others know they’re not alone.
communicating compassion and understanding that you only learn by walking that way yourself.

i miss her.
it makes me sigh even now.
to close my eyes and picture her face. her smile.
she’s not just my girl. she’s a best friend.

i love her company.

a few days after she left i was sitting in the mall parking lot in shayne’s big white truck
about to go in, digging around in my bottomless purse looking for something..
and out falls this two page letter.
i picked it up off the floor and seriously! i kid you not –
instantly miranda lambert’s song, “the house that built me,” starts playing over the radio
which is kinda like “our song.”
and i sat there. with that song. and her letter. and tears streaming as i read.


anyone who knows kate knows she’s a note writer.
she’s an encourager and likes using notes to do that.
i’ve gotten so many from her through the years, but this one felt different.
like her voice i hear changing. this wasn’t just from my daughter..
this was from a woman. my equal. my friend.
she exhorted and inspired and spoke comfort to wounds i didn’t even know she knew i had!
iron sharpening iron. her words gave LIFE!
and there’s this beautiful shift you experience as your kids get older
where suddenly, they are pouring back into you!
it’s so precious.
the friendship between a parent and adult child.

but the thing is, it’s not always been “precious” between us.
there was a time. a set of about six months at the beginning of grade ten where..
man! i just didn’t know!!
didn’t know if the darkness that had closed over her would lift.
didn’t know if the things i wanted and desired for her would ever be reality.
if our relationship would move past that sense of strain and disconnect.
of walking out of counseling and feeling.. just hopeless.

that time seems so very distant now. just a bleep compared to everything else.
that spot of dark so dim compared to all the amazing light God has brought.

and i wanted to share that here because i feel there might be a mama reading this who’s struggling.
who’s feeling that dark heaviness. the worry and wonder over one of your kids.
a bit hopeless.

even you young mama’s – i know it’s hard to think that this little one you’re with 24/7 will ever do anything but take EVERY SINGLE OUNCE OF ENERGY you have!!
but can i just reassure you. remind you. there are better times ahead!!!
not just better – – but times you can’t even imagine right now they’re going to be THAT good!
with as much as you love your kids and your heart feels it’ll burst wide open..
just wait.
it’s going to burst even more!!

hang in there. and most importantly. hang on to your Heavenly Father.
keep giving them to Him again and again.
love unconditionally.
go in the other room to scream if you have to. but never let them feel your love has conditions.
and never {ever ever} underestimate the power of prayer. cry out when you feel at a loss.
He promises to give wisdom to those who ask. and He’ll do it.
He’ll guide your steps as you maneuver this holy ground of raising these kids.
You can trust Him.
He’s working.
even when it seems He’s not. He is!

someday you’ll have your parking lot experience too of just weeping your eyes out at missing your grown up kid somewhere far away, but mainly just weeping from God’s work of mercy in your home. in your hearts.

He’s a Good, Good Father!




{about south africa and that time kate graduated high school}


it’s been just about a month ago now..
i sat in an over crowded, hot gym on a thursday night straining and standing on tip toes,
along with all the other parents, trying to catch a glimpse of our kids coming down the aisle.

a very slow and slightly off-key version of pomp and circumstance was being played by the band. and tassels flung back and forth as the black robed graduates filed in.

i was to the side, on the bleachers, towards the front.
i couldn’t see -so i climbed up and stood on my seat.
then, i spotted her. smiling brightly, with that bit of nervousness at the corners of her mouth, only a mom would know.
my eyes went misty as she walked and found her place and faded in the crown.
i stood on my seat a few seconds longer before realizing i was the only one still standing.
i got down quickly, looking to the left and right of the packed row of heads in front of me
trying to find her again.

someone came to the mic and began talking and i turned my attention to listen.
but my mind raced back..
back to that afternoon i found out i was pregnant with her.
because as moms, isn’t that what we do in moments like this? almost by default..
flip through the index of memories inside?
it was three months into marriage. dead of winter. northern canada.
i remember being nervous.

life felt so weird. i felt so out of sorts. still finding my way in my new home. new life.
a new country. and new family – that was all like, “who the heck is this crazy american chick?” ;) wife and pastor’s wife on top of that! which, being raised in a pastor’s home i swore i’d never marry one. i have so much respect for pastor’s wives, i just wasn’t a good one.

that afternoon, i remember wondering if we should have been more strict with birth control -should we have waited? planned better? traveled more? saved more?
i’m not sure you can ever be “ready” for kids but i’m glad kate came when she did!
i wouldn’t change a thing about having kids within the first few years of our marriage.


whenever young wives ask me about the pros and cons of waiting i tell them only what i’ve discovered to be true – the time you have being a mom really pales in comparison to all the time you’ll have for other things. seriously, “me time” compared to “mom time” throughout your life always tips heavier.

it doesn’t feel that way when you’re all up in it day after day – the diapers and nursing every hour and up in the night and messes and long days and dark circles under the eyes. but it’s true! as older women told me, and now i’m telling you :) your kids DO eventually grow up! and graduate. and leave…

and that last part. as i glance over into the kitchen, i see it on the counter.
the letter from CMU and her acceptance into their one year discipleship/missions
program. and i heard shayne on the phone, confirming her spot on the team for south africa. south africa? really?
she only just learned to parallel park, for crying out loud, and not very good!!!!

oh, my heart catches and those emotions rise in a hurry.

but i want to be so careful what i express to her. i’ve seen it, felt it. that temptation as parents of older kids to cling a bit tighter when you should be loosening your grip. to even, unintentionally, make them feel guilty for wanting to go. or play into their
emotions with it all. or worse, let the fears of unknowns cause us to control. manipulate. it’s hard when you just kinda like having your kids around. no ulterior motive at all other than you enjoy them. enjoy their friendship. their company. their humor. their
personality. what they bring to the family. add to the home. ben has been gone to camp for four weeks now, almost five, and goodness, i’ve missed him! we’ve talked about it so much, all of us, how much it’s changed even the very feeling around here. ~ and i’m not really sure how to “handle” my kids leaving. when i hugged ben goodbye at camp the first of july, i kept my glasses on ;) because i was surprised how tough it really was. to think of not seeing him day after day. i told shayne on the way home, “i’ve never been separated from my kids for longer than like two weeks max!!”

it’s strange. it’s new. these ones so part of you. so used to having around. suddenly, not! so it’s new territory for me. i’m sure i’ll be writing more as i process and learn. or, maybe i’ll just be sitting all quiet because there aren’t any words. haha. but a few weeks ago when kate had driven herself somewhere a couple hours south of here, and ended up lost, in toronto, in rush hour traffic and called and i could hear the panic in her voice.. shayne and i sat all crouched around my cell phone, with her on speaker phone, as shayne tried to talk her through where she needed to be and helping her find her way back to the highway, though we didn’t have a clue where she was. and when we were all through and she was safe on her way again, we hung up and i looked at him all wide eyed and a bit breathless.

“oh, babe! this is just the beginning!”


but i remember the start of her life. how i felt so much the same.
and all the phases between. those moments of,
“oh, man! i don’t have a clue what i’m doing!”
and still. seventeen, almost eighteen years later, not much has changed there.
yet.. i know we’ll cross over into this next chapter with her as we’ve done every other –
with some fear? sure. a little nervousness at the unknowns and “what if’s?”.. of course.
but mostly with joy. a whole lot of joy. that we get to do this!
that we get to learn together what it means to trust and rest and believe in a God that’s so got this!

and as i look over again at that inevitable letter on the kitchen counter..
i’m reminded, it’s really, the only way to live.

Graduate-1_MG_9050_MG_9072_MG_9053-mom & kate

“You, who have been upheld by Me from birth.
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He.
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” {isa.46:3,4}

{we’re not through yet}


i sit on the bed and he across from me on the other side of the room.
both our shoulders slumped.
mine even more.

i feel the extra burden of wanting so badly to say the magic words to make the light come on and everything to suddenly make sense and be easy like it was when he was younger and i thought my worst battle was trying to get him to sit still and not hang upside down from his chair while i homeschooled him.

now. moments like this…
i wish for those simpler days of a hyper boy standing on his head during math.

i stand to leave his room. and pause.
“is there anything else you want to say?”

and you wait for something like,”thanks, mom! this is exactly what i needed!! i know God is using you and dad in my life and tomorrow, i think i’m going to go start a bible study in the neighborhood…” ;)

instead. it’s only a shrug and slight nod, “no.”
and i pause longer. {oh, those pauses. how many will we have throughout motherhood – when everything inside us is screaming to just “fix it,” and yet you know.. you know the fixing cannot come from you} so, i let out a soft sigh under my breath and turn and walk out.

later i tell shayne, “sometimes i get fearful in all this parenting stuff. are we doing it right? are they going to make it?” {and when things weigh heavy on our hearts the enemy of our soul works overtime to convince us the darkness is darker and light cannot win.}

but shayne smiles calm, as he always does, and puts his arm around me –

“we’re not through yet. there’s going to be tough places along the way, but i’m confident the kids are going to be just fine!”



it’s been weeks ago now that i recorded that in my journal.
but a conversation in the kitchen last night, going into the wee hours of the morning..
and feeling that familiar fear, had this truth meeting my discouraged heart when i woke up.

we’re not through yet!

i love that word. through.
it’s a journey.
beautiful. wonderful.
we’re crossing this life together.
kids. parents. all learning.
but there’s going to be rocky parts.
the ebb and flow of the tide.
things are going to get stormy.
there will be those times of stale mate across a bedroom floor.
midnight talks in the kitchen of tears and frustration.
those feelings that you’ve completely screwed up. done it all wrong. ruined them.

that they’re too far gone.
heart too hardened.
nothing can penetrate.

but when God is our God, that’s just not the case.
because greater is HE.
GREATER is He!!!
He never stops saving us. rescuing. coming to our aid as we cry out.
He doesn’t just restore, He redeems.
He takes what might seem broken and all wrong, and gives back something better.
nothing stumps Him. nothing stops Him. nothing sever’s His will being accomplished.

so in God’s economy –
there’s no such thing as too far gone.
too hardened.
or too screwed up.

and as we’re going t h r o u g h we can go through with calm and confidence.
there’s no need to fear.
because we’ve got this?
no. because of WHO’s got us!!

i’m learning, or relearning some things lately though.
like, choosing battles in parenting.
asking myself, “why does it matter?”
is it based in fear? my own pride? wanting to squeeze them into my mold? worrying what other’s might think?

oh, man! how i’ve parented too many times from the perspective of others opinions!
social media has revealed this in my heart big time.
“you put WHAT on twitter?” ;)
not necessarily because it was “bad,” only… yes, “what will so-so think?”
so there’s times i have to just let them be themselves and let something go –
even if it might cause others to judge them. i have to rest in how God is calling shayne and i to parent.
and no, that’s not always like everyone else parents.

but in letting things go, i also have to be willing to hold onto some things too.
to not be afraid to take strong stands with my kids.
they’re my best friends and of course i want to please them and be “popular” with them ;)
but i’m their parent first and have to be willing at times to risk a little popularity
in order to protect and guide where they can’t see they need it.
to remind them that yeah, they better believe i love them exactly as they are right now –
but i love their future selves as well!
and they don’t always get that.
{it’s okay. they will one day}

how many of us can recall things we hated and didn’t understand our parents doing?
a decision. a boundary. a rule. a sleep-over we weren’t allowed going to?
and yet, looking back we see the wisdom of it.

love them through.
walk them through.
PRAY them through.

more important than clean rooms and pants pulled up over their boxers are HEARTS!
and good thing God is in the heart changing business and always a very present help when it seems their hearts are far away.

it’s such a delicate balance of guiding these young, moldable hearts
and yet not allowing ourselves to get in the way of GOD’s work in their hearts.


i remember when my two oldest started high school after homeschooling them the eight years prior.
i was afraid of all the things people said about public school.
what if it was true? the drugs and partying and sex?

well, it turns out what they say about public school is pretty accurate.
lots of scary stuff there.

one day while washing the dishes and worrying over the, “what if’s?”
it’s like God said to me, “yes, what if? am i not big enough for those things too?”

and though we’ve not had drugs, or drinking, or sex to deal with yet we have had other things..
some that landed us in counseling with one child a year and a half ago.
and i went through the shame at first, but then, crazy found freedom that, we were that family! and it was okay.

no matter what.
public school.
super strict rules.
or more lenient.
unless The Lord had been our help we would have never made it through.
and be making it through still!

it’s about daily humbling ourselves and recognizing we can’t do this in our own strength.
that we have a God that loves our kids far more than we ever could and we must avail ourselves of His power by coming boldly before His throne of grace, crying out for our sons and daughters. do we think that Christ would die on the cross for us when we were still sinners, and now that we are His children He’s going to leave us desolate and not come to our aid?

i’m convinced more and more that all these things –
the hardships. the battles. the fears. they are for our GOOD!
because they drive us to Him. dependent. needy.
and in our need He meets us there and His glory shines through all our cracks and brokenness.

so keep running to The One whose parent heart beats deepest.
and rest on His unconditional, all-wise love.

i know the battle is intense for these kids of ours.
and i want to shout out loud and clear to all you fellow warrior mama’s –

carry on!!

carry on.


and since this feels to be a very personal post..
anytime i write about my kids i weigh the words carefully.
i want to say to those who have asked before about me being so open here-
God has brought shayne and i, and the older kids, to a place where we’re kinda tired of the bull crap. {anyone?}

we don’t want to just do the “good christian, cookie cutter thing.”
to play a part. go through the motions.

we want real and authentic.
and at times that means opening our mouths and making ourselves vulnerable to share our story.
easy to do 10 years down the road, but harder when we’re still going through it..
but sometimes, God wants while still in the middle. before its necessarily all sorted out nice and neat.

and there is a wonderful freedom in letting go of what others think.
to be able to own your own junk and be okay with it.
to admit, this is where we are.
and it might not be where we need to be. where we could be.
but praise God, it’s not where we used to be!!

every day is NEW. and we’re moving forward.
one grace paved step at a time!



{letter to my senior}

_MG_2705 edit_MG_2762 edit_MG_2637 edit_MG_2714 edit

dear kate,

you bounded down the steps with your hair curled and floral book bag
draped over your shoulder.

“it’s my last first day of school, mom!” you beamed.

i just stared.

those moments where you seem so big and so little all at the same time.
and i wonder, how can it feel only days?

only days since i first found out you were in me.
only days of first steps and first words and that first day of school.
sitting across from me at the kitchen table.
how inadequate i felt. always.
to teach you all you needed. still do.

i so often feel i haven’t got a clue.
but you’ve been the best child to learn to parent on.
you’ve made it easy.
you are gracious and patient and let things go quickly.
i’m sure this is why we’re still friends.
not because of anything right i’ve actually done but because of how forgiving you are.

your spirit of easily letting go will take you far.
far in relationships.
far in freedom you’ll find within.
far in keeping your heart tender.
never lose that.
your open heart towards others.
hurts will come and you’ll want to shut down. cave in. give up on people.
but when you stay tender. sensitive. you win!

because loving the way Jesus did always does.

_MG_2742 edit

i love that you already see this.
that taking a chance on people is what it’s all about.
that a life lived for others is a life truly lived.

i pray your senior year finds you living hard. living free.
living full and living without fear.
there’s so much talk and emphasis put on what you’ll do when school is done.
don’t sweat it, babe.
you’ll do what you always do. what any of us can do –
you’ll do the next thing.

the same God who’s led you till now will keep right on leading.
people plan and save and map out their lives.
nothing wrong with that. only..
all the preparation in the world matters little if it’s not His voice you’re following.

sure. chase dreams. follow your passions. embrace your gifts. run after adventure.
but always let your steps be guided by the still small voice within.
His way – though not ours – is best.
and His will – though not always making sense –
is exactly what we’d choose if we knew all the facts.

you can trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God.


i think of how much i love you. how my love only grows..
and the more i know you the more i fall in love with who you are.
but in all that. in the deepest, most glued tight together bond a mother feels for her child
it can’t compare to that of your Heavenly Parent.
His love is perfect. it is everlasting. it is your life-line.
and it is, and will be, your confidence.
loved by God. cherished daughter of the King. crafted by the Creator of the Universe.
who thought about you. planned for you. made you on purpose. for a purpose.
of any title you could ever claim remember it is this one, “He knows me”
where your true identity is found.
it always comes back to that.
that we know Him and are known of Him. and loved just as we are.

it is the hope that anchors us.
you are precious and valued.
you matter to God!
where else can hope like that be found?

education can inflate.
degrees fade.
friends disperse.
plans change.
dreams take on new forms.
and paths aren’t always as straight as we once perceived.
but this.
love God. love others.
this is success!
this is eternal.
this is life!

i don’t know what the beginning of all these lasts this year looks like.
we’ve never walked this way before.
where you’ll be next year. what lies ahead.
but i have confidence in the One who gave you to me to begin with
and i put you, once again, where i’ve put a thousand times since..
right back in His more than capable arms.

fly high little bird.
you were made to soar.
do it without fear.


i love you.


{sunday sweetness & giveaway winner}



yesterday was good and full.
starting at 6:30 a.m.
heading north to be with shayne’s family for church and lunch.
then a tour of the town daddy grew up in for the kids.
they’ve seen it before but always like hearing his stories.
a romp through a random field in our bare feet.
driving home in the rain.
trying out the new yogurt shop by the lake.
dipping our feet in the water to feel how chilly it was.
taking a walk.
meeting an old man with two birds on this shoulders.
watching the kids all play together.
the two older. the two younger.
the fascinating dynamics of siblings.
finishing the night at the park.
with poutine’s, sweet potato fries and dollar drinks from mcdonald’s.
shayne pushing the little girls on the tire swing.
the older ones sitting at the picnic table by me.
ben says, “I like our family..
we might not have a lot of money to do stuff but we make our own fun.”

i immediately felt a lump in my throat, “aw, ben!”

“well, it’s true,” he went on.
“we just have a good time no matter what. and we laugh a lot.”
then he got that cute little boy grin
that even though he’s not so little anymore, still comes out.
“we’re a cool family!”

now tears are full on brimming..
you have to know. ben doesn’t just say these kinds of things.

“that’s the best mother’s day present right there, bud. what you just said.”

and he smiled, then turned to watch his sisters playing, while i kept watching him.
a moment i’ll remember for a long, long time to come.



on saturday kate took me to a pottery sale and told me to pick out whatever i wanted.
i choose these adorable tiny pots with succulents.

i’ve never had succulents but i’d been wanting some.
i’ll have to google how to care for them so i don’t kill them.
for now i’m just admiring their daintiness.
they’re my new favorite things!


when i came home. ben had made me this arrow from an old pallet.
i had shown him a picture of some and said i would love one.
and i do. it’s perfect.
i’d like three more so i have a set of four.

“as arrows are in the hand of a warrior so are children of thy youth…” ps.127


and the little girls showered me with homemade notes and cards and flowers.

when i asked reese what her card said she took it and in all seriousness began to read-
“i love you mom. you are my favorite. you are my best friend. and i love you.”
of course that’s what those purple swirls said!


my heart just spills right over in thankfulness that i get to be their mom.
every day that thankfulness grows even more.
no matter what – it is so worthwhile.~

i am your mother
you are my child
i am your quiet place.
you are my wild.
i am your calm face.
you are my giggle.
i am your wait.
you are my wiggle.
i am your dinner.
you are my cake.
i am your bedtime.
you are my wide awake.
i am your lullaby.
you are my peekaboo.
i am your goodnight kiss.
you are my “i love you.” -maryann k cusimano

_MG_6299kiddos_MG_6307these42_MG_6306these four

happy monday moms!


AND… the giveaway winner is: sherri
i’ll be emailing you deets!
thanks to all who entered.
let’s do it again SOON. xo

{we love you, moms}

kat and mama
I love my mom because she has more integrity than anyone else I’ve ever met in my life. She is true to what she believes, through and through, and I respect her so much for it.

holly and mama
I love my mom for the personal sacrifices she made for me, not fully comprehended until I, too, became a mom.

my mom and I
I love my mom for her service to others. Putting other’s needs above her own, time and time again.

michelle and mama
I love my mom for the way that she has loved us without limits. Despite every circumstance, the highs and the lows she has never stopped showing us love.

I love my mom because there has never been a day in my life I have not felt loved! With her having Stage 4 Cancer, I do carry a bit of sadness in my heart for the type of relationship I will never have with her – but a lot of joy in my heart as well that I do still in-fact have her here.

laura and mama
I love my mom because of the example she sets as a godly women who loves The Lord.

I love my mom because of her deep passion for God, her sense of humor, and her always perfect skin! We can laugh about the stupidest things that no one else would understand. I’ll count myself lucky if i can ever turn out to be half the Mom that she is.

Mom and I 12-08 copy
I love my mom for how she has taught me to trust the Lord, even in the worst of
circumstances. How to love those who continue to hurt us. How to work hard and laugh
harder (especially at myself!)

sarah and susie
I love my mom {in law} for the way she lavishes Scripture, love, presence, and wisdom upon my life. Christ is clearly her hope of glory. {And for our 1 a.m. Taco Bell feasts!}

I love my mother for the way that she has always believed in me, prayed for me, and spoken blessings over me. I am richly blessed in so many ways because of her.

I love my Mother because she’s the only one who loves my children like I do. she patiently listens. she’s a Godly woman with a tremendous amount of wisdom. she’s scrappy. she is what I strive to be.~selfless~compassionate~bold~faithful~

amber and mama
I love my mom for being grace personified in my life. For being my best friend.

grace and mama
I love my mom for her unwavering commitment to loving and serving her husband and family.

I love my mom because her love for Jesus pours out into my life, and everyone she meets.

I love my mom for teaching me through years of example what it means to PRAY. I love her for allowing my brothers and I to grow up in a family that’s not torn up by unfaithfulness and deceit. I love her for her heart of compassion and kindness for those in need.

cindy and mama
I love my mom for her gentleness.

eastlyn and mama
I love my mom for being undaunted and tender.

mom and sisters
I love my mom for how she taught us four girls by example to honor and respect our husbands because she lives that out, and she taught me to love being a mother because of the way I saw her delight in it.

Mom and I
I love my Mom for being the amazing woman she is. Her laughter from the heart warms every room she enters!

I love my mom for being consistent, for being content & for choosing an attitude of grace. For being faithful & loving Jesus.

jenn and mama
I love my mom because she is the most selfless and caring person I know. We have the best laughs together and she knows what I am thinking without me having to say a word.

robin and mama
I love my mom for being everything that I am not and showing me that differences make the world a better place. I love her smell, the feel of her hands, her smile, her accent, her soft cheeks and the way she makes me feel loved.

I love my mom because she is always there to listen to me and help me through
problems. She is gracious and always tells me everything will be okay.

shannon and mama
I love my Mom for always being there for me.

jenny and mama
I love how my life overlaps with my mom’s on a daily basis. Not in an intrusive, smothering way, but on a way where we don’t need to get “all caught up” each time we see each other.

anna and mama
I love my mom for teaching me what it means to love God and love others.

maddy and mama2
I love my mom because she is always showing me what it looks like to be a woman of Christ. She is always there to care, love and support me in everything.

I love my mom because she’s just as wacky as I am; because she dances and sings to Taylor Swift with me; because she sits with me when there are tornado warnings and I’m terrified.

I love my Mom for always being willing and happy to help others. Her selfless example of service is an inspiration to me and so many others.

emily and mama
I love my mom because when I look at her, I see what the best version of myself would look like. My dream is to be just like her!



{a village that smiles & a mom’s day giveaway}


i love moms!

love mine.
love being one.
love being part of this community.
the craziness.
the comfort.
the comradery.

whoever said it takes a village, sure got it right!
how we need each other.

and our lives spin non-stop most days..
we don’t always have the time we’d like to sit and talk over tea.
but i’ll never forget what an older lady said to me once.
“let your smile say what your words often can’t.”

and i think of that in regards to motherhood.

when i see a mom in the check out lane with her screaming toddler.
that chance i have to just smile an, “i’ve been there,” kind of smile.

or the mom yesterday, sitting in her car next to me in the school parking lot..
holding her coffee cup up in the air and i nodded and smiled back big.
i knew what she was saying.

the mom who’s balancing a baby on her hip, another by the hand,
and one strolling behind.
the mom whose girl is getting married a week from saturday.
the mom who’s heartbroken her son’s turned his back on the Lord.
the mom whose daughter lives 800 miles away.
the mom who just tragically lost her 3-year-old last friday.
the new mom full of nervous excitement.
the old mom with an empty nest.
the moms in heart only.
the moms who wait for us in heaven.

in the busyness of our lives, no matter what..
may we always have time for that understanding smile.
as we pass, whether face to face, or here across this screen.
may we not allow preconceived ideas to cause us to stand back.
assumptions to cloud. or differing opinions divide.
may comparison not steal what we have to offer.
and may jealousy not blind our eyes to who someone really is.
may we simply see moms. just like us. doing the best they can.
clinging hard. carrying on. needing encouragement. needing support.
fellow travelers on this journey, same as us.
and may we take the time, if even ever so briefly,
and if only every now and again, to stop.
to notice that one across the path.

may we be a village known for its smiles.
and may it be contagious!



_MG_1425give away

i’m so happy to be able to do a giveaway in honor of MOMS!
i chose one of my favorite quotes on parenting by beth woolsey~
jana from the chalk shop so beautifully designed it..
and i think she said within a half hour sitting at starbucks! {crazy talented girl}


to enter::

please leave a comment here on the blog
{facebook comments will not be counted, sorry!}
telling me why you love being a mom, or what you love most about yours!

multiples entries accepted for sharing this giveaway on facebook or instagram
{please link to blog on fb or tag me on instagram @ _amberhutchins}

this giveaway is open to all who would like to enter
and will close sunday, the 11th, at 6 p.m.
winner announced monday, may 12th, and will be notified by email.
{please make sure to leave a valid email with your entry}



happy entering and …