{when we think we’ve missed the miracle}

i sat with a friend last night in her living room.
the warm fireplace flickering to the side, glowing orange.
i stared into her face. warm, flush from the fire.
but something more –
this glowing that i would say i’ve only ever seen in few people.
it’s the glow of intimacy with God and you recognize it.

i had went with gift in hand to try to offer some sort of solace
a slight encouragement, maybe.
it was the anniversary of her daughter passing.
seven years ago now. and jennie would be seventeen.
same as kate.
i didn’t know her. we only met their family recently.
but i wished i had.
i love what i’ve heard of her.
i think she and kate would have been grand friends.

i sit. coat still on. not wanting to stay long.
not wanting to intrude. this ground of grief so sacred. so precious.
and i just listen..
listen as this mother talks.
talks of what it’s like to lose a child.
talks of loss. of pain unthinkable.
of things that can’t even be put into words.
and how i wished i had a pen and paper to write all the wisdom.
those who have weathered these kind of storms and not turned back-
they’re the ones i want to learn from.
i feel a lump rise in my throat and chills go up my arms as she looks
me in the eyes and leans forward slightly, saying,
with her british accent faint except on the word, “God,” and then i hear it clear.

“God is a good God. He really is.
i believe that with all my heart.”

and she talks on. of having to come to this place of believing.
that there comes a time in all our lives where we must choose. is it true?
more than the sunday school answers. the spiritual jargon we’ve heard our whole life.
when things shake us to our core we’re faced with the gut wrenching battle of,
“God is either who He says He is, or He is not.”

“but where is hope if not for him.” my friend says with a smile.

“it is not the life i would have chosen. nor ever imagined in a thousand years.
but i believe that God {that strong british accent again} knows what He’s doing.”

and i was gripped and challenged and my own problems seemed so miniscule.
this courage she had seemed contagious –
i felt it filling me.
we can trust His sovereignty.
the answer to our why is always Who!

“so many people said to us, ‘we prayed for a miracle, and it didn’t happen..’ ”

and i see a softness in her.

“but this is the miracle – He sustains.”

and i swallow and blink hard.

“and keeps doing so…
when i didn’t have any idea in the world how i was going to survive.
how i was going to get through a single day. go on.
i look back now and all i can say, He sustains.”

and i nod. this understanding. this hope. i get it.

we pray for healing. for help.
for bills to be met. for relationships to be mended.
we want rescued. relieved. ease. comfort. evidence.

we think God hasn’t given the miracles we’ve sought.
but that He has carried us through it all.
that we have been SUSTAINED.

THIS is the miracle.


“And the radical wonder of it stuns me happy, hushes me still:
it’s all Christ. Every moment, every event, every happening.
It’s all Christ and in Christ we are always safe…

When bridges seem to give way, we fall into Christ’s safe arms,
true bridge, and not into hopelessness. It is safe to trust!

We can be too weak to go on because His strength is made perfect
in utter brokenness and nail-pierced hands help up. It is safe to trust!

We can give thanks in everything because there’s a good God leading,
working all things into good. It is safe to trust!

The million bridges behind us may seem flattened to the earthly eye,
but all bridges ultimately hold, fastened by nails. It is safe to trust!

Each bridge I need cross, from one moment to moment to next, is wholly safe,
each leading me deeper into Him and closer Home.

And I hear that hurting voice again.. those aching voices I have known and still cry:
There are moments that as sure as I bruise don’t feel like good things
have been given. What of all the memories where Christ seems absent?
When the bridge shakes and heaves..

Trauma’s storm can mask the Christ and feelings can lie.

I draw all the hurting voices close and I touch their scars with a whisper:
sometimes we don’t fully see that in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ,
He does give us all things good – until we have the perspective of years.

In time, years, dust settles.
In memory, ages, God emerges.

Then when we look back, we see God…”     -one thousand gifts


{the next day}

you know how it is, moms, when your kids are in school.
the PAPERWORK!!! {can we just take a moment?}
there’s just so much. every day. all the time. i can never keep up with it all.
new ones come before the old ones are read.
and i try, really i do, at first, in the beginning..
when there’s 50 million forms to sign and safe arrival? do we want that?
consent to play sports, go to the library, drink milk, use the class kleenex box…?
i’m pretty sure somewhere in there i’ve signed my kids first two years out of high
school away to serve in the royal Canadian Mounties.

but, seriously!

the agendas. and calendars. and lunch programs. and fundraisers. and special events. the side of my fridge is like a filing cabinet with all the kids constantly shuffling their
papers, making sure theirs is at the front of the stack. and always the, “hey.. who moved my football schedule?” or, “hey.. where’s my class list?” and things get buried. and
forgotten. even lost! {the fridge must be a relative of the dryer-things magically
disappear} and the paper about the kindergarten christmas program i’m pretty sure is still in a pile on top of the paint can sitting in the middle of my kitchen floor, covered in about six inches of drywall dust. good thing reese’s teacher emails too and when i got that one, way back the first of december, i immediately tore out a sheet of paper from the notebook in front of me and wrote the date and time and all the details in big letters across the whole page and stuck it front and center on the fridge!!

as the weeks passed and the time got closer i would often ask Reese, “are you excited about your christmas program? daddy and i can’t wait to see it!” and she’d grin all shy and proud and tell me she might forget some of the words. so we’d work on them. when sunday night rolled around i did my mental list of each kid for the week and what was happening and where and when they needed to be places. i knew reese had to have a red or green shirt for the program and i made sure to take care of that first thing. and there was basketball and volleyball and emma had some make up classes for dance.

by wednesday i was glad for a little break of the crazy two days and finally got my
christmas cards ordered and a bit caught up on some editing. i strolled over to the school early to get the girls and thought is was odd no other parents were waiting
outside the kindergarten class like they usually are. when the teacher saw me and opened the door reese was the only one left. i’m usually one of the first ones to pick up so i thought everyone else must have just been really on the ball and extra early to my
earliness. i thanked the teacher, like always, and told her we’d see her tomorrow. she smiled and waved and reese and i walked over to where we meet up with emma.

“how was your day?” i asked reese as we walked.

“dood.” she stopped and kicked at a pile of snow, then jumped over it. “our prodram was today.”

“what program?”

“da one for da moms and dads.”

by this time emma was with us and emma piped in, “your program wasn’t today, reesey..
that was the primary classes in the gym.”

“NO! IT WAS TODAY!!” reese insisted.

“i don’t think it was, mom.” emma went on, “the primary classes put on two programs and i was at both of them and i didn’t see reese on stage..”

“i was in da ober stage.”

“reesey, i think you must have just been practicing.” i told her. “your program is
TOMORROW. on thursday. mommy has it all written down and everything. your teacher emailed me. daddy and i are coming tomorrow, THURSDAY, to watch your show!”

by now we were to the van and the talk of school and programs kind of dies off. the rest of the night was spent picking up older kids, watching basketball games, a trip to the grocery, and not another thought about the program that was, for sure, TOMORROW.

this morning, i got up in enough time to give reese a bath and wash her hair. her little red and white shirt laid out all ready for her to wear. as i dressed her and asked if she was nervous and did she think she’d remember the words for her songs she looked at me confused,

“i did. i did it yesterday..”

suddenly. it was one of those mom moments where you’re looking into your kids eyes and you know! you just know!! and i went to my laptop and opened my email, searching quickly and finding the one with the subject line, “Kindergarten Christmas Program.” i clicked on it and my heart immediately fell as i saw in bold, black letter
“Parents are invited to join us in celebrating the Christmas season on WEDNESDAY…”
i didn’t even get past that part. i just sat there. staring at the word, WEDNESDAY.


“no, wait? is today wednesday? i think it is? the 17th right?”

and i went and dug my pocket organizer out of my purse {a lot of good that thing does me!} to see what today’s date actually was. “the 18th? that can’t be right! did we skip the 17th? is this like those months that only have 30 days and i can never remember which ones they are? every 10 years we skip the 17th day of december or something? why did i think thursday? and WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THAT PIECE OF NOTEBOOK PAPER I PUT ON THE FRIDGE???”

as the harsh reality set in that there wasn’t actually some kind of cosmic lapse of dates i felt sick to my stomach. literally! s i c k. who does that? this wasn’t, “oh, i forgot it was ‘wear your reindeer antlers to school’!” no. this was, “it’s my baby’s first ever christmas program at school!!” and i was sitting, not even FIVE minutes away at home, editing
pictures!! clueless.

i went to reese and got down on my knees at her eye level.
“reesey, ” i gulped. “your program was YESTERDAY!!!!!”
she just looked at me blankly. “i know!”
“i’m so, so sorry daddy and i missed it..” launching into this whole, long explanation that i’m not sure her four-year brain really got, or even cared.

“vell.. i didn’t know where you duys were and i ask-ed my teacher and she said i tood sit wif her tause you weren’t there. but tristian’s mom wasn’t there eiber but he didn’t sit wif da teacher..”

and my heart just sank as i listened.

EVERYONE was there! {well, except christian’s mom but still.. that’s practically
EVERYONE!} and i hated thinking of her looking for us. anticipating us being there.
and not. and then. bless her! she had gotten herself dressed that morning – a little brown shirt and black leggings with a hole at the knee that i didn’t see until we were walking out the door, and then it was too late to change and i had thrown her hair up into a couple lopsided pigtails after we pulled into the school parking lot. i cringed a bit
inside picturing the scene.. like in a movie, as every other child stands festive and coordinated and hair combed, and my sweet little bright-haired, sad-faced raggamuffin with her brown shirt and holey leggings and lopsided pigtails looking like an orphan child!

when we got to school this morning i went in and explained to the teacher.
she was kind and, “oh, there were a few others that forgot too..”

“but.. i DIDN’T forget!” i wanted to say. “i just wrote down the WRONG date!! and that’s SO not the same thing as forgetting!!” but i smiled weakly and thanked her and said, yes, i would like a picture of all the kids from the program {yesterday} when she offered to email one. and all day i just.could.not.get.over.it. i felt so awful!!

worst mom of the year award?
{*raises hand* pass it down?}

because as moms THIS is what we do!! this is it.
our lives. pouring into theirs.
every day. all day. trying not to miss a thing. trying to get it right.

and we’re constantly thinking of who is where and where is who and when is this and what is that. are they too hot? are they too cold? did they eat enough veggies? did they eat TOO many veggies? are we being too strict? are we being too lenient? did we take enough time? did we make them feel loved? accepted? cared for? important? this is our JOB! our priority. and though crazy chaotic most days. we.love.it. because we love them. that’s why we organize and pack and prepare and keep track and remind and read and stay on top of it all and get up and make up and most days no make up because there isn’t any time and we get everyone where and when and how they’re supposed to be somewhere. and always, always we SHOW UP!

so this? this of all things. of not being there when she needed me.
this feeling i had let her down. it crushed and defeated me a good part of the day –
but then driving back from home depot this afternoon i had to smile remembering as i put reese’s boots on her this morning. emma, ever my little encourager, saying brightly, “it’s okay that you missed the program, mom. you’re still the best mom in the world!.” and then a little prodding to her sister, “isn’t she reese?”

and reese looked up, hesitating a minute, and i cupped her face in my hands and put my nose to hers, “what do you think, baby?” and she broke out into this huge smile and threw her arms around my neck, squeezing hard, “you’re my favorite!”

and i held that little girl and thanked God for the resilience and tenderness of young hearts and how old hearts have much to learn from them!

yes. there’s going to be days we get it right.
and days we get it oh, so wrong.

but there is something called the next day
and it waits with fresh mercies and new opportunities.

so we let it go, and move on.

October 29, 2014_Hutchins Family_181 October 29, 2014_Hutchins Family_184 October 29, 2014_Hutchins Family_187

*photo credit to the beautiful alyssa fleming of joline photography :)

{shop.the.house.-a little bedroom facelift}


it all started on wednesday with me deciding to make my bed at four in the afternoon..

which led to me noticing all the dust that had piled up on the carpet around the bed posts. which led to me lifting the bed skirt in an attempt to get to it. which led to me realizing someone had obviously been LIVING UNDER OUR BED!!!!

oh, the STUFF!

and the only way to get it out was to move the bed.
which resulted in needing to rearrange the whole room. {of course}.

since the boys were gone to basketball practice i called the girls in to help.
and with christmas music piping out in the background we all pushed and pulled and LAUGHED at our efforts and finally decided taking mattresses off beds and drawers out of dressers make things WAAAY lighter and easier to move!

we eventually got things where we were trying to go.
and after “shopping the house” to pull in some new additions including my garage sale chandelier that used to hang in the kitchen, i’m pleased with the open, brighter feel.

not to mention completely EMPTY space under our bed!!
with the downstairs still in disarray from the kitchen renovations it’s nice to have a spot that’s clean and together.

_MG_8325 _MG_8389


i’ve been wanting to do a gallery wall somewhere in the house for a while and realized the other night one of the big long walls in our rooms would be perfect –
so after gathering up all the frames i could find and laying them out on the floor first to kinda have an idea of where to hang them, i started nailing away. i always cringe and chuckle at the same time thinking whoever would buy this house after us.. once all my things are off the walls it’ll look like someone was having target practice in here.
my husband tells me there’s such a thing as a tape measure and level, but.. ain’t nobody got time for that!!! ;)

i don’t have any before & after pictures since i wasn’t exactly planning to tackle this room, but i do have a couple of shots from last year that show the “gallery wall” before.

here it is before:


and after:


our bedroom furniture is what we’ve had since we were first married.
18 years old now.
it was dark cherry and i ordered it from j.c. penny catalog.
i remember how thrilled i was at the idea of our very own first pieces of furniture!

when i got tired of the dark color a few years ago and wanted different i broke out the white spray paint.

the little bookshelf that sits behind the door was actually mine when i was a teenager.
it’s been nearly every color in the world – including my attempt at a rose vine down the sides when i was in my “artist phase.” ;)

{there’s nothing a little white spray paint can’t fix!}

i’d paint that confederate blue carpet too if i could.
but for now, it’ll do.
besides, if you squint just right it kind of, sort of, could be grey, no? haha.


i mentioned in my last post about contentment
and our homes feel like such a center of that often for us as women.

i know the budget isn’t always there for us to do the things we want or even need to do at times but i think with a little creativity and determination there is so much we CAN do. with what we already have.

my mom was so great at this when i was growing up.
i would watch how she would rearrange the living furniture every few months –
angle a chair just so. throw a cozy looking blanket over the footstool.
all small touches that made big differences without having to spend a dime.

amazing how the right perspective effects even our decorating.
i love it. i think it’s cool watching it all unfold and grow..
not only with our style changes but heart changes too.


happy week-ending, friends. xo

{the mess of christmas}



yesterday was one of those mornings i felt tired before even getting out of bed.
followed soon after by the toddler meltdown over having to wear her coat to school.
{sorry, baby. we live in CANADA! get your flippin coat on!!!!!!!}
then the dog tracked mud all over the entry.
and the whole middle of the house looks like it’s been blown up from the kitchen reno.
{those shows on hgtv? yeah, lies!! all of them!!}

after the kids were finally off to school i sat on the couch.
my shoulders slumping over further with the mess that seemed to
meet me in every direction i looked-
plywood floors colored over by my kids and every other kid in the neighborhood.
pipes exposed. two by fours piled. sawdust building. pots and pans
stacked along the wall.

“i’m just not sure much christmas is going to get up..” i thought to myself.
and i could feel the grumpiness, the discontentment, setting in.





funny with all that, because for 18 years i’ve had these tiny, ugly kitchens..
never owned a brand new anything hardly.
now that we’re gutting the kitchen and getting all this new
you would think i’d be ecstatic.
which i am.
and this is the thing with discontentment.
it’s never about what i have. or even what i’m getting.
discontentment only looks at the now!
it’s always about what i don’t have. in this moment!

like a disease
eating away at my peace.
and when my life is not grounded in peace, i am easily shaken by the tiniest things…
stressed. overwhelmed. consumed. miserable.

what is going on INSIDE me is what comes OUT of me!
and what comes out of me is what aura will fill my home.
{sobering thought}



later that evening. as the little girls sat next to me on the couch.
emma, out of the blue {but sometimes i wonder if God doesn’t just even..}
pipes up and says, “I love our house.”

i looked down at her. almost shocked.
and she wasn’t even looking at me.
she was fiddling with whatever was in her hand and saying it as if to no one.
but i knew who it was for.
i smiled. though she couldn’t see me. and kissed her head. “i’m glad.”
and suddenly, right then, it clicked.
i saw it.

that the beauty of our home to my family is {way} more in what is felt than what is seen.
what matters most is a place of safety and acceptance and unconditional.
it is the spirit i create more than the spaces i decorate.

sure i like to decorate. i think it’s important. even needed. i think my family likes it too.
but not to the extent of allowing it to rob my joy.
cause me to get sulky and snappy when things aren’t as i want.
or living in comparison to everyone else whose homes seem
more perfect and put together.
thinking somehow if mine were, that my kids would be happier? feel more loved?

i wonder at times why i do what i do.
when i get wound up all tight that another day’s past and the tree’s not up or the storage bins even down from the garage. who is it all for? could we have christmas without all the s t u f f?

i know it’ll happen. eventually.
we’ll haul those bins in. the tree will make it.
we might even stay on schedule with our advent.
we’ll have christmas, just like every other year, and it will be grand.
but. even if it doesn’t all end up looking exactly how i wish, or go according to plan..
that’s okay too.

i want to be a mom that creates and nurtures a home my kids want
to come to. enjoy being in.
and i have a feeling that has nothing to do with how well it’s decorated.
and everything to do with how i made them feel.

and when things get messy. as they do and will. and some seasons messier than others.
may i remember even in that there is good.
because what does the mess represent?



so. excuse me while i go wipe the dry wall dust from a plate for my lunch and sit and look around at the same mess that was here yesterday – only, it’s looking a little different today.



a contented heart makes the loveliest homes.


{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!



{surviving love}

it was eighteen years ago today i walked down the aisle and became his wife.
funny how eighteen years can seem only a few days and a lifetime all in one.~


i laid in bed long after he left this morning.
the sound of the wind howling and fierce all around as my mind went back over the years..
of all the winds that have threatened to rip us right apart, and near did.
those times when i felt we might not make it to this point.
and then i smiled as, “but we survived,” washed across all the other thoughts swirling..

to say you’ve “survived” sounds about the most unromantic thing you could say about your marriage.
i’ve heard older couples say it and wrinkled my nose in the past. positive they must have lost sight of true love.
but. now i wonder if they didn’t know more than i gave them credit for.

maybe those who’ve made it the longest know love the truest.

surviving love.
committed. loyal. determined.

and maybe surviving love is really the most romantic love after all.
the real kind. the kind only God can give. the kind that has endured the battle. stayed.

the kind that says i’m not just fighting beside you. i’m fighting with you. for you.
we’re going to make it to the other side. and we’re going to make it together.
we might be limping. we might even be crawling. and yes, there might be times one will carry the other.
but we will get there. we will survive.


how easily we forget or grow passive about the fact that we have an enemy of our souls that’s stops at nothing in trying to destroy our homes and marriages and lives. he never lets up. he never gets tired. and he’ll never feel he’s suddenly done enough and just leave you alone. he is constantly {constantly} seeking those he can bring down and devour and he loves nothing more than taking something that is supposed to be the very picture of Christ and his church and making a mockery of it. making it seem that God has lost His power. that maybe He’s not strong enough to change and transform lives and hold hearts together.

but i’m here to say today. that’s not true!
He does transform. and yes, and amen! He does hold us together.

these past two years have been hell for our marriage..
the hardest we have yet to face.
i’m ashamed to say the word divorce crossed both our thoughts if not our lips.
it’s what happens when focus is on self and you’re looking to someone to be your saviour other than who your Saviour truly is.
that’s what i was doing in my marriage. trying to put my husband in the position only God can fill.
but no human alive can meet the deepest needs of our heart apart from God.

we try so desperately to cram in what’s tangible. what we can see. what seems to be bringing fulfillment at the time but it’s not lasting. not solid. not the kind of stuff battles are won from and storms endured.


you can be married to the sweetest guy in the world. i know i am!
you can be great lovers and have the hottest sex.
enjoy each other’s company and be the best of friends.
but if you’re not constantly looking and running and finding your source to love IN HIM..
when the battle intensifies, the winds increase, the burdens press in..
well, all the sweetness and sex and best friend feelings in the world cannot sustain and carry you through.

we need HIM.

our marriages need Him.

and though my marriage is not where i want it to be. i praise God it’s not where it used to be.
i hope i never feel completely content with where it’s at but always want deeper and more and closer.

and i just want to encourage anyone reading this that no matter where your marriage is at.. keep on!
if it’s good – keep fighting for better.
if it’s shaky – remember where the victory lies.

there is healing for the hells of our lives.
and there is {always} grace to be and room to become.

there is love that survives because there is a Saviour that redeems!



*from the archives:
because sometimes you just need to replay redemption’s song.
how great is our God. sing with me, how great!

{letter to my senior}

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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.


{the shards that remain}


i’ve always cooked my roast in the crock pot.
same as my mom always did.
then. my crock pot broke and when it came time to fix another pot roast,
i’d yet to replace it.
so, as things like this can go i happened to be watching the food network late one night.
trisha yearwood was sharing her favorite pot roast recipe where she cooked it in the oven. in a pan.
“well, there i go,” i thought.
“tomorrow i’m going to make my pot roast, in a pan. in the oven.”

about 2 in the afternoon i put it in.
a whole onion chopped on top. salt and pepper to taste. aluminum foil wrapped round.
and tucked down into a glass 9×12 pan with a layer of water in the bottom..
i remember there was a lot of emphasis on making sure to keep water in the pan.
i set the oven at 250 and pretty soon the house was filled with it’s alluring smell.

i love meals like that.
10 minute prep. cooks all afternoon.practically fixing itself.
ready.set. go at dinner time.
always makes me feel like such a june cleaver kind of mom.
so organized and with it!

and with head held high at my rare super mom status for the day,
i went to take a walk with reese.
we were just going around the block. but we pass the park..
so of course, there had to be a stop.
and then all the pretty flowers {weeds} blooming everywhere she just has to pick for me.
by the time we got home i was rushing to grab the van keys to hurry to pick up one
of the older kids from somewhere…
but passing through the kitchen a smell that wasn’t quite burnt
but soon to be caught my nose.

“my roast!!!” i said, as i threw open the oven door.
totally forgetting that earlier feeling of accomplishment as i stared at my very
parched looking roast sitting in a very dry pan.

i grabbed the oven mitts and pulled the rack out to access the roast.
all i could think was trisha yearwood said, “whatever you do don’t let that
water dry up in the bottom of the pan!”
so i grabbed a glass of water from the tap and poured it over the roast
as if putting out a fire.
and the instant.. the instant, that first drop spilled over the edge
and before i could even turn my wrist back upright again,
i suddenly realized what i had just done.

extremely hot pan. cold glass of water?

i turned my head back in the opposite direction to brace myself just as..
the glass exploded with a loud bang in every single direction possible.
and when i turned back. there was my poor little roast
sitting on the only tiny section of what was left of the shattered pan,
looking quite pitiful.

it took awhile to clean up the mess.
and even days of making the kids wear their shoes because i knew i missed slivers of it…
there was just no way to possibly get every little piece.
i knew there were some i had missed.

but crazy thing is. this was months ago. and even after all this time now –
still, i’m finding remnants of what happened that afternoon.

just the other day something shiny caught my eye in front of the sink on the floor.
looking closer, i saw it was glass.
and yesterday. sweeping, as i’ve done a dozen times since,
a huge piece came out from under the stove!
“how?” i thought.
“i’ve swept this same place so many times since then.
why is this piece just now coming out?”

and as i moved the stove to find even more pieces i had missed..
i began thinking of times throughout my life where my heart has felt the exact same.


shattered by something that happened. something someone did. someone said.
a lie. a humor. a piece of gossip.
an action. something you never expected coming from that direction.
something that came quickly. suddenly. poured out over what was going to be so good.
and.. just like that, and in that moment. in an instant.
sending your heart. your trust. your insecurities. your fears.
your relationship. your belief… flying in a thousand pieces.

and as most hurts go.
we pick up the major pieces right away.
the ones we see. the ones obvious.
but that’s the thing with anything that’s broken..
we don’t always know exactly where all the pieces landed.
where they ended up. where they might be tucked away.
and there are times. times when we least expect it.
times we feel we’re doing just fine. times we think we’ve got it all dealt with.
then. one casual, any kind of day, we’re sweeping away in the kitchen and bam!
there it is.
a huge chunk we didn’t realize was still there.

an ugly jagged piece.
a piece it seems too obvious to have missed.
a piece that even puzzles us.
and we sweep it away. and hope there aren’t any more.
but somehow, we know there will be.
somehow when things shatter you can never really, truly, find every single
tiny part and put it together again.
with some things, there is no putting together again as it was.

at first, as i’m cleaning behind my stove and thinking all this, it saddened me.
that what was, could never be that way again.
that things can’t just go back to how they were.
that once shattered. there is no fixing.

but then, this truth came to mind.
i give beauty for ashes.
and the years the locust have eaten i restore.
behold, i make all things new.

it doesn’t say He gives back what was.
and He doesn’t give what we had. He gives beauty in place of ashes.
yes, He puts the broken pieces together again. but He puts them together in His way.

a vessel with cracks and marred and imperfect.
but the holes only give His light more places to shine!

suddenly i see that the things that have shattered me
have not rendered me less valuable or useless.
only the opposite.

and though there will still be pieces always coming from places i didn’t expect.
that’s okay.
with each piece i can see it as a chance for His grace to fuse together what was broken.

there is beauty in the shards that remain.
the pieces missing.
the pieces still to be discovered.
each one an opportunity to allow Him to take and put together again. as it should be.

as only He can do.

cottage weekend-leamington 356 cottage time 480 _MG_2649

“I’ll make up for the years of the locust,
the great locust devastation—
You’ll eat your fill of good food.
You’ll be full of praises to your God,
You’ll know without question
that I’m in the thick of life with you,
That I’m your God, yes, your God,
the one and only real God.” joel 2:25

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” isa 43:19

{the house we bought but didn’t move to}


thank you all so much for all the love and kindness over the last post.
i am forever floored by this community of online people.~

i wanted to clarify since a few wrote and asked..
the reason we waited so long to tell about the miscarriage
was simply because it took a month and a half from the time i went to the clinic,
to when i had my tests, and then the doctor’s appointment for the results back.
(that’s national healthcare for ya – if you’re not near dead or dying they don’t
really get in a hurry)
only half kidding! ;)

we feel total peace about the Lord’s decision.
we know the little ones that haven’t been able to stay with us here are not lost to us..
they have only gone on before us home, and we will see them again someday in heaven.

it’s a day that grows only more dear.


but for the pain and hard of these past months
it has carried much joy as well.
which seems so often the case –
the good and bad cradling each other.
both, strangely needed in order to fully appreciate and see the depth of the other.

one of those joys was being able to, for the first time ever, become homeowners!
we bought a house, y’all!!
which i know alot already know since i shared on instagram..
it just feels really good to say.
we bought a house, y’all.

i finally feel all official and grown up or something.
guess a huge amount of debt does that to ya, huh?

but the coolest part there was no packing.
no going around to wal-mart and costco to collect brown boxes.
no u-haul or planning where to put things in a new place.

we bought the house we’d been renting here for the past two and a half years!

i could just leave it at that.

it’s pretty great right there.
but this is one of those stories that means way more if you know the back story!~
so if you’re a back story liking kind of person.. cozy down. here goes.


it was last november –
we had just gotten back from thanksgiving.
a day of 10plus hours in the van and exhaustion and emotion leaving family behind.
pulling onto our street, finally, late in the early hours of the morning.
i thought i could see something in the front yard.. but not sure.
was that our house?
or the one next door?
it looked like a sign. a.. for sale sign?

as we neared and slowed and pulled in,
any doubt was confirmed as the headlights glared the words plain and bright.
i can still remember my heart instantly catching. pounding nervously.
all the questions and what if’s? that came pouring in.
we knew our landlord was thinking of selling.
we just didn’t know it was going to be, now!

those months that followed were strange. and strained, if i’m honest.
to suddenly feel not at home in your home.
to wonder where your home was going to be six months from now. even sooner?

and it wasn’t just the house being for sale.
there were decisions shayne was making with his company..
other possibilities. opportunities. all south of the border! ;)

funny though, it was shayne who was more ready to leave than me.
and i confused even myself with what i wanted.

we talked and prayed and went round with all the options.

we included the kids in everything. especially the older ones.
talking about it at length as a family.
wanting to know their thoughts. their hearts.
every single one certainly with their own opinions.

kate wanted to stay. to finish school.
ben wanted to stay. or move somewhere with snow so he could snowboard.
it was all about the boarding for him!
emma wanted to go back to cincinnati. right next door to mamaw and papaw.
and reese said, “where you go, mommy?” she was just all about being by me.

my heart ran in all directions and it was hard to decipher.
there were too many emotions clouding everything.
and so i learned, what i’ve learned again and again, and seem to always come back to;
just to live where i am for that moment.
to find the joy and remember His faithfulness.

and so each day became that.

taking my eyes off further down the road and looking only to the next step.
bringing it to Him and laying it down.
my prayer becoming, very simply, “open and close doors, Lord. lead us in your way”

and day after day as i looked out the window and saw that for sale sign..
i found my heart catching less and less.
the fear of the unknown never completely gone, only, much quieter.
cushioned against His grace.


then, came the week of the open house.
and here i would say, i take back everything i just wrote in the above two paragraphs.
of living day by day, of trusting His faithfulness.
people began to buzz this place and i freaked!
strangers stopping and looking.
cars sitting in front of the house, pulling in the driveway.
people randomly coming to the door to ask to see inside.

and on saturday, as i cleaned, i thought of how odd it was to be “preparing” the house.
what had been OUR house for two and a half years..
for someone else to come in and like and be impressed with and want to buy!

i asked shayne to come upstairs to the bedroom.
because i didn’t want the kids to see me cry.
you know those times in life when you’re trying to be so strong for your kids?
but you feel nothing more than an abnormally tall 10-year-old yourself?
once upstairs, i told shayne, through tears, that we needed to come to a conclusion.
and it was one i felt he was going to have to make for all of us.
there was no making everyone happy. there was no truly knowing, or guarantee.
and i did one of the hardest things i’ve ever done in our married life – –
i told him i’d trust him completely with whatever answer he gave.

not that i’ve never trusted my husband.
i do. explicitly.
there’s no one in the world i have more confidence in.
but this was one of those times as a wife i could feel how heavy my influence was.
that with just the right turn or tug i could sway him. and it scared me.
that much control. and not knowing if i would control it in the right direction.
so i turned it over to him.

i wondered if i was being cowardly – yielding my right to help make the decision.
but as soon as the words came out of my mouth, i knew just how much courage it actually took.
trusting that an all-wise God can work in and through others for my benefit?

trusting God alone is one thing.
trusting Him through flawed individuals is a completely different kind of trust.

the next morning, sunday, the day of the open house,
shayne said he had prayed about it.

“i think God wants US to buy this house, babe!”

i stared at him blankly for several minutes before saying,
“and.. what’s plan b?”


being self-employed has always been the main deterrent to us owning our own home.
and if you’re self employed, you know what i’m talking about.
not to mention, real estate here in canada is double what we pay in midwest america.
so even if we were in a position to secure a mortgage,
no way we could get approved for the asking price of this house.

shayne said we should look at it like a fleece.
because yes, so much had to happen for that to ever be a reality.
a lot more than just a wet and dry side, i was thinking.
if you don’t know what i’m talking about, look up the story of Gideon in the bible.
bless him! so glad for guy’s like that that make me feel a bit more normal in my doubting.

shayne text our landlord, “we’d be interested in buying the house.”

of course i’m thinking the timing couldn’t be any worse..
hours before the open house.
where i’m pretty sure people were lined around the block like the nanny scene in mary poppins to buy it!

we went to church. out to eat. browsed stores. waiting for the time to pass.
still no word from our landlord.

when we returned later, after we were sure everyone was gone
there was a guy in his car in the driveway.
as soon as we got out, he did too.

“um.. so i understand you guys might buy this place?
and i want you to know that if you don’t, i am!”

shayne and i just looked at each other. then him, “okay..?”

later that evening our landlord came to the door.
he told us he had 3 offers that day, for the full asking price.
my heart fell. and his voice muffled in my head until,
“but, i’d rather see you guys have the place than anyone…”
my eyes shot straight to shayne’s to hear his response.
to see if i had misunderstood.

shayne told him we weren’t sure we could get approved for the loan.
he said, no problem. he would hold the mortgage.
and a few days later as we sat down to more officially go over things
he said he would like to take all the back rent and use as a down payment.
as well as lowered the price considerably than the original asking price.
{let’s just refresh here – that THREE others had been willing to pay!}

who does that kind of stuff?

God does.

the God of mama’s that fret and worry and think we’ll be living in a tent.
the God of people who need fleeces.
that need both sides. wet and dry!
the God who can strengthen a wife’s faith to trust Him through her husband.
to move a landlord’s heart to do what’s out of the ordinary.
a husband’s resolve to lead his family.
and four kids whose eyes lit up when we told them there would be no moving.

we had bought a house.
and we weren’t going anywhere.

to see the relief wash over their faces..
i hadn’t realized how much of a worry it was to them.
wondering where we would end up. what the days ahead held.
and my peace felt more solidified from their response.


i will admit that as exciting as this whole new homeowner thing is –
when i dreamed of buying a house all these years, canada wasn’t exactly the location i had imagined.
especially since it seems to make this “temporary move” even more permanent.
i felt, and still do, this strangeness of emotions of finally being settled, and yet the struggle of
contentment at where it is we have settled, after all. for now anyway.

but the thing is this.
when you’ve walked with the Lord through so much..
look back and see all He’s done. witnessed His faithfulness.
there is comfort in that.
knowing no matter what lies ahead it’s going to be okay.
the same One who walked with me then, walks with me now.

He will lead me safely home.
to my true home.

there’s no fear –
when He’s your travel companion.