The Best Advice I’ve Ever Gotten.

Yesterday was our 8-year wedding anniversary. Last night after dinner, the four of us sat down to watch our wedding video. As our girls sat one on each side of me and Reid lay on the couch behind us, we enjoyed moments of laughter, silence, and even a few tears (one guess who shed those). I found myself touched deeply as I listened to the words spoken over us, the words we spoke to each other, and I thought about how far we’ve come in the last 8 years. We are stronger, wholer, and happier than we have ever been.

This morning I listened to a podcast while I got ready for work. I do that on most mornings. I’ve been intentional this year about filling my time with things that feed my spirit, renew my mind and help me grow. Today I listened to a sermon that was recommended to me several weeks back. The title was “How to Get Healthy” by Dr. Les Parrott.

While the title may indicate otherwise, he talked about relationships. And I listened to him give one bit of advice that I replayed over and over. I wrote it down. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

If you try to build intimacy with another person before you have gotten whole on your own, all of your relationships will become an attempt to complete yourself.

This. These words. This is the reason my marriage is strong today. This is the reason our relationship has grown and is still growing.

We are getting whole on our own.

How often in a relationship do we find ourselves disappointed because the other person doesn’t make us happy? How often do we fall flat on our face in a relationship and only blame the other person?

Radical candor right here.

I’m fasting social media through Lent. But this was worth sharing.

We live in a culture that’s riddled with broken relationships. Marriages are in trouble. People are lost. I can think of so many people in my circle who I pray will read these words. I know if I had heard them years ago, we’d have fast tracked to this place much sooner. And it’s inspiring me to be even better, love even more compassionately and hold myself even more accountable.

So good.

Real Talk.

Parenting is hard. Such a short sentence packed with so much truth and vulnerability…

Before I begin, let me say that I am beyond grateful for both of my children. As a woman who was told “children won’t be likely”, I can assure you that not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for them. I often look into their eyes and feel awe and a sense of wonder and feel just downright lucky that they are mine to care for. I often get a lump in my throat when I think about how far we’ve come.

Soon after Sadler was born almost 7 years ago, someone told me, “if parenting is easy, you aren’t doing it right.”

Reid and I have been in a season with Everly lately that has tested every bit of patience we’ve prayed for and has aroused every ounce of fear hiding in the shadows of my mind that say, “You’re not doing enough”, “You’re not a good mom.”, “You’ll never measure up.” Yes, we know what happens when you pray for patience. You don’t get patience, you get opportunities to *be patient*. And I have not passed all the tests.

There’s an ebb and flow of emotion, where I find myself smiling while encapsulated in their voices and stories one moment, and biting my lip in a fit of anger in the next. In the blink of an eye, it all seems to go awry sometimes.

Thankfully, there is an awareness that continues to sweep over me and I catch myself often before this happens. But it still happens from time to time, and lately it’s been happening almost every night at bedtime.

I will be the first to admit that mornings at 5AM when the house is quiet and I can sit in stillness and peace, I’m at my best. But bedtime has come to be the part of the day that I absolutely dread. I literally anticipate whats to come and work myself up to thinking it will be different this time. And by the time we are ready to say our prayers, I’m literally crying as I ask for forgiveness for losing my temper.

Tonight at gymnastics, I talked about our 3-year-old bedtime tantrums with a fellow mama/friend/family member —one who happens to have *double* the amount of children we do and often comes to mind when I feel like *I’ve* got a lot on my plate. (She literally is my parenting hero.) We swapped stories and laughed as we shared book titles that have been recommended to us through the years. It was encouraging to be reminded that we aren’t alone, and to also be validated in our thinking that whomever dubbed the “terrible twos” as the hardest part of toddlerhood got it WAY WRONG.

Tonight after dinner, a wave of peace and confidence came over me. Bath (shower) time was actually enjoyable rather than a fight. We sang. We laughed. We acted silly.

I decided to read one my all time favorites to them, “The Velveteen Rabbit”. They recently watched the movie so Sadler was eager to spot the differences between the book and the movie. Everly assisted with turning the pages and we made it about 3/4 the way through before I could tell they were getting sleepy. We decided we’d finish it tomorrow night, said our prayers and tucked in for bed.

As I read my favorite part of the book, I couldn’t help but think how God is using this season of my life to make something real out of me. Yes, my outward appearance may be wearing down in the making, and I may feel tired and defeated at the end of a day, but he’s awakening my heart and bringing me to life.

It’s easy to think when we scroll through social media that those people and families we see “have it all together”. That their lives are only made up of what is shown in the pictures they post. That they are perfectly designed so they won’t break and are full of knowledge of things and places, much like those toys The Skin Horse refers to.

Maybe you look at me and think I’m all put together, too. I am here to tell you that I am most certainly not. I am fragile, I break easily and sometimes my edges are sharp. But if there is one thing I’ve learned to be true, God uses all things for good for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Ever so slowly, He is turning me into something real and full of life, and that takes time.

I know I will look back on these moments with my kids and laugh. That I will miss the simplicity of bedtime struggles when life hands me something new in another season.

I am optimistic that just sharing this story with you will free me from expectations tomorrow night and will give me a new perspective when I’m faced with a bedtime challenge. I am thankful that even amidst the struggle, there is always a shimmer of beauty amongst the strife.

As I snuck upstairs to snap a pic of these pages in the book, there they lay. Sound asleep. Peaceful. Content. Quiet. The light from the bedside table looked like the view from inside a diamond as it gleamed around the room.

We’ve got much to be thankful for.

The Spirit of Sedona

I’ve been drawn to the idea of taking a solo vacation for about a year now. I don’t recall when I first felt it exactly, but I saw it in my mind many times. Beautiful scenery, rest, relaxation, reading, writing, outdoor exploration, disconnecting from the busyness of life. I didn’t have a strong pull toward any specific place, I just felt the urge to take a trip by myself.

Toward the end of the year, I kept being led to Sedona. I had no idea why. I’d only heard it mentioned in a Houndmouth song and honestly knew nothing about it. I didn’t even know it was in Arizona. It just kept popping up into my thoughts. I Googled it, and quickly realized that this was my place. It had all that I was looking for and I felt it through the photos on my phone screen that it was my place.

My soul sister, Ashli lives in California. We met 13 years ago at a temporary job I worked and quickly became friends. We’d only spend 6 months together before she moved away to New Jersey. And then New York. And then London. And then San Francisco. But she never left my heart, and we always have a way of picking up right where we left off each time we see other, which is hardly as often as either of us would like.

In a text conversation with her at the end of November, I mentioned my vision of taking this solo vacation. Being born a mere 14 hours apart, we decided to celebrate our January birthdays by taking a trip together. I pitched Sedona to her and the little bit I’d learned, and plans moved into motion. Flights booked. VRBO secured. It seemed too good to be true.

Work life and home life the weeks leading up to our trip had presented a good amount of stress, and I’d found myself in a bit of a funk prior to flying out Wednesday morning. I longed to be in a place of silence and solitude. Reid was completely supportive of the trip and could see how badly my soul needed it.

When I booked my flights, I didn’t select any of my seats on in advance and accepted taking it as chance where I’d sit. As I boarded my first flight in Greensboro to Charlotte, I realized I was sitting in the very last row – with a window seat at least. As I walked down the aisle to my seat, I spotted a familiar face from church. I smiled. He smiled. What are the odds that I’d see someone I know on this flight? The gentleman in the aisle seat in the back row had barely enough time to get up to move to make room for me to squeeze in before the flight attendant said, “Sir, I’m actually going to move you over here. These 2 seats are open for standby. This way you two can have a bit more room.” Score. I had both seats all to myself.
Our flight was delayed by 50 minutes, which didn’t bother me in the slightest. It gave me more time to sit and read my Bible, journal, and read a book I couldn’t wait to sink into to. Time that seems to be difficult to find in my normal life. So, I was grateful for the delay.

I landed in Charlotte with just enough time to dart to another terminal to board my flight to Phoenix. I grabbed a seat close to the boarding gate, put some Burt’s Bees on my chapped lips and chugged some water. I looked over my right shoulder and noticed a petite woman standing, seeming as if she had something to say. I smiled, and asked her if she knew where the restroom was. She pointed down the carpeted stretch of the terminal and I realized there was not enough time before I had to board. I will just go on the plane. She began to tell me that she missed her last flight because she went to the wrong airport in Washington DC and had to take a later flight. Her brother had just passed away. She was on standby for this flight and she wanted to go home. She began to weep. Hugging her seemed like the right thing in that moment. She thanked me. God, please make a way for this woman to get home, and bring her peace.

My 4 1/2 hour flight from Charlotte to Phoenix was as perfect as a middle-seat flight that long can possibly be. My new AirPods (birthday gift from my love) came in handy as I listened to the few songs I had downloaded on Apple Music on repeat. Bit the bullet and paid $16 for in-flight internet and spent 2 hours cleaning up the 5,000 emails in my Gmail, unsubscribed from a hundred emails I never read, and began to organize myself digitally. It felt cleansing, refreshing, and wonderful. To my right, a precious elderly lady who played Candy Crush on her iPad the entire flight, reading her Nicholas Sparks in between losing lives. To my left, a middle-aged male who read the newspaper and magazines. Both were pleasant. Quiet. And still. It was perfect.

As our flight landed and people began to move about the cabin, I looked 3 rows ahead of me and saw the lady from the boarding gate who was on standby. I smiled. She made it home. My heart swelled.

As I walked through the airport to the next terminal to board my last flight to Flagstaff, I texted Ashli to let her know when I would land. I texted Reid to let him know I had landed again. I enjoyed the fast pace of the conveyor belt walkway that airports have – you know, the ones that get you there just a tiny bit faster than walking with your own energy – I enjoyed the ride and watching the people that passed by.

I grabbed a quick salad and as I walked to my gate, I heard a familiar voice. “Are you on my flight, my love?!” It was my Ashli. Reunited at last, and it felt so good. A hug that seemed to last for 7 minutes quickly turned to conversation that took many turns in a short period. Our conversations are always authentic. Always deep. Always magic to my soul.

We switched our seats around so we could sit together and chatted the whole half hour to Flagstaff. We exited the plane and found ourselves in the tiniest, most precious airport imaginable. With baggage claim and the car rental desk right in front of us, it seemed like a dream.

Since Flagstaff was expecting snow in the upcoming days, the convertible she rented for us as a surprise wasn’t available, but a shiny black Jeep Wrangler Sahara was! We immediately took the top off, bundled up in our scarves and jackets and made the drive to the Grand Canyon. The Enterprise clerk suggested we take 89 all the way to the Desert View entrance – “because that’s just where the best views are”. In part due to the conversations taking place and not paying attention, we missed our exit and ended up arriving at the main entrance to Grand Canyon National Park instead. No big deal, we will just drive through the park and enjoy the views along the way to Desert View.We pulled over to put the top back on (it was pretty cold), got stuck in the mud, realized we were in a Jeep and quickly escaped. We had a good laugh.

Our unplanned detour worked to our benefit, as we could stop at several view spots along the way and get some great pictures, while taking in the serene beauty of it all. As luck would have it, we found our way to Desert View, almost exactly at sunset. Seeing the Grand Canyon with snow was a bonus and one neither of us expected. We both talked about how magical it would be to be the only people there. The silence. The tranquility. The vastness of God’s creation out in the open. It was breathtaking.

We hopped back in the Jeep to head back through Flagstaff on our way to Sedona. Scored dinner at the most incredible eclectic restaurant, SWITCH. Potato Leek Soup with Apples, Pickled French Fries, Sunchoke Panna Cotta, Braised Cauliflower, and Orange Granita with a Root Beer Sauce. IT. WAS. DELICIOUS.

On the hour drive into Sedona, my eyes were heavy. My body thought it was 11PM, and I’d been snoozing for sure if back in NC. But I stayed awake as Ashli navigated the windy roads through Sedona. I can’t wait to see this place in the daylight.

We unpacked, washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and tucked into bed. I was wide awake at 6AM the next morning, made some green tea, threw on a hoodie and toboggan, grabbed my Bible and phone and came outside to watch the sun come up. The sky was glorious. The millions of stars from the night before were fading into the distance as the sunlight kissed the sky. The mountains came to life as the light peeked over their tops. The clouds were like an abyss of cotton candy and tranquility, blended into the most beautiful sky I’ve ever laid eyes on.

As 10AM approached and my night-owl, late sleeping soul sister continued to rest, I was hungry. We hadn’t picked up any food yet for the house and my body thought it was noon. Must get food.

I showered, took the keys to the Jeep and headed out to get some breakfast. I had spotted a place called Wildflower Bread Company on our way in the night before and learned on Google that it has the “best breakfast views”. So, I ventured off on the 10-minute drive with the windows down to grab some food. When I pulled into the parking lot, I hopped out of the Jeep, not really knowing where I was going within the shopping center. I noticed a man getting out of a beautiful convertible to my right. We made eye contact, quickly. No smiles exchanged, we both just kept going about our journey.

I walked into the restaurant to get in line to order my food and noticed the same man in line in front of me. The cashier commented on his accent. “I took French in college, but I don’t remember much”, she said.

“I’m actually from Holland”, he replied.

He got his bread loaf to go, I ordered my frittata and latte and headed to a corner table outside on the veranda. Just as I was snapping my first breathtaking photo of my breakfast view, I looked over my shoulder as the same man walked outside. With arms extended, he said, “Isn’t it amazing?!”


“Oh my goodness, it really is.”

He came over to my table and sat down. It was an immediate level of comfort that is difficult to put into words. He asked where I was from and what brought me to Sedona. He and his girlfriend had lived in Sedona for 8 years; they moved here for spiritual reasons. He went on to talk about how the energy in Sedona is so very healing, and how many people visit and leave with their lives transformed. I mentioned that Ashli and I were interested in some energy healing while we were in town, and that we had a place in mind. He told me that the place we were considering was “okay”, but if we wanted a truly amazing experience, we should check out his friend, Cherie, instead. He gave me her contact information and I put it into my phone. There was an immediate sense of trust that I should listen to his guidance. This is God’s grace, guiding me in this moment.

He looked at me mid-bite of my home fries to say, “You know, when I saw you get out of your Jeep, I knew there was something you needed from me. I didn’t know what it was but when I saw you again inside the restaurant, I trusted my intuition and I approached you.” He and his girlfriend, Iona, rent out part of their home on AirBNB. He passed along their business card. Well, I know where I will be staying next time I’m here. I can’t wait for Reid to visit this amazing place. The views were breathtaking.

Huib told me about the myofascial release work that he does–that he and Iona are healers themselves. He talked about how our society today is so very quick to hear from doctor that their hip needs to be replaced, when taking a whole-body approach to determine the root cause of the pain or symptom is more effective. Music to my ears, and I couldn’t have agreed more. I mentioned how chiropractic care was a big part of wellness for my family and that I didn’t rely much on manmade medications. “I knew that when I saw you”, he said.

Huib told me about free spiritual classes that were held every day in Sedona. I tucked the card into my wallet and couldn’t wait to get back to Ashli to share about all my new findings.
As I finished my breakfast and savored the moment of solitude and reflection, I sent a text to Cherie, the energy healer. We were chatting on the phone within 15 minutes and appointments for sessions the very next were booked. I drove back to our house and couldn’t help but thank God for the miracle I’d just encountered.

Ashli and I headed out to Safeway to get groceries for the next 4 days, came home and unpacked them and headed back out for some Sedona exploration. We spent a few hours at The Chapel of the Holy Cross. I’d seen a picture prior to making the trip, but never could have I imagined the breathtaking site in person of what I’d witness: a giant wooden cross, dropped into the face of the mountain, overlooking the serene landscape of Sedona. On the other side of the cross, a massive artistic form of Jesus himself, hanging on the cross. As I entered the chapel, I became warm. Tingly. Comfortable. Immediately at peace. It was such a welcoming place of worship, and it was truly an honor to be in such a space with so many others from around the world.


I approached the alter and prayed for what felt like hours. Moments of tears, moments of smiles. Intertwined with full gratitude and moments of thankfulness to God for the miracles before me. Being in the presence of the land in Sedona has a way of opening the heart, quietening the mind, and awakening the soul. I kept picturing Reid there with me, and manifested a vision of our return together in the very near future.


We came upon Tlequepaque Arts and Shopping Village. The smells of The Secret Garden Cafe led us to an unexpected happy hour, where we enjoyed some delicious tapas and refreshing beverages, and we were back home before the sun set.
What’s a girl’s trip without wine? We played Trivial Pursuit, sang in the kitchen, laughed, cried, and enjoyed the presence of being together. It felt like home in that moment. We decided that we’d have weekly FaceTime date night form this point forward, as we both realized the necessary healing our friendship brings about for the other.
The next morning, we headed to the Sedona Community Center to check out “A Course in Miracles” and “A Course in Love”. We’d spend the next hour and a half amongst the most open, authentic, Christ-centered individuals. Sharing. Healing. Praying. It was divine. And who would be in the chairs beside us, but none other than my friend Huib from the bread company, and his girlfriend Iona.

At the end of the class, he said to me, “So now you see that meeting me yesterday was no coincidence, yes?” A single tear formed in my eye as I soaked in the truth of what was being spoken to me. As it turns out, Huib and Iona were hosting a dinner party at their home that night. Ashli and I received an invitation to join 7 others and were excited about what the night would bring.

After the class, we ventured the 5-minute drive to our energy healing appointment and met Cherie. I’d read her story on her website prior to our appointment, but in person, she truly was a breath of fresh air. Of authenticity. Of openness and of wholehearted healing. She works out of her home, and it was an inviting, safe, warm, joyful space that brought about a level of trust and comfort for both Ashli and me. I felt connected to her instantly. And the work she’d do on me would leave me transformed. As God would have it, Cherie would be one of the dinner guests that night and we’d be fortunate to spend more time in her presence.

After our energy healing session, we needed nourishment, and took Cherie’s recommendation and visited ChocolaTree. With a table in the garden out back, we’d enjoy fresh ginger lemonade, live spring rolls, vegan chili, goddess salad and the kindest people in the world it seemed. The décor and little ornate signage all around the building caught my eye. Even the parking spaces spoke to me.

We had just enough time to rest at our getaway home, reflect on the day, and just be in the presence of God and each other before we headed out to dinner.

We arrived at Huib and Iona’s home promptly at 7PM and I nearly ran the Jeep off the side of the mountain as I took in the views on the drive in. Ashli was mid-sentence, talking excitedly about something I honestly don’t even recall. “Ashli, stop. Take this in.” It was majestic. It seemed as if we were in a movie, traversing through Hollywood Hills, or somewhere we weren’t meant to be. I had chills as I made the drive through the gate of their home.


The company we’d meet that night was nothing short of delightful. Everyone within those walls was open to trusting intuition, open to trusting God, open to healing, open to authenticity, open to divine grace. I instantly had a vision of visiting this home again, this time with my husband. Throughout the night, I continued to talk about the idea of living there. The energy was calling me. It felt like home. It felt like where I belonged.
I mentioned how several times while in Sedona, I’d seen 11:11 on the clock. 2:22. 3:33. 4:44. 5:55. 11:22. The synchronicities the universe presented to me only reiterated that I was right where I was meant to be and that everything was unfolding exactly as it was intended to unfold. For through God, there are no coincidences. I knew this before, but now there is no question.


Ashli and I ended up making appointments with Huib for myofascial release the next day. It’s funny – I’ve heard my massage therapist talk about it before, and just sort of brushed it off. I thought it was massage work on the face. Little did I know that it moves connective tissue in the body to expose emotional trauma and stale energy. Very similar to massage, but much more transforming. I’ve never cried during a massage session. During this, I cried. Beautiful tears trickled down my cheeks as I released old stories, lies I’ve told myself, broke free from patterns of unhealthy thinking. I felt release on the table in that session. I felt healed. I felt my heart open and each breath that I took in: life. Each breath that I exhaled: things that no longer served me. It was a deep expression of love and awareness that I never expected.

As we left the house that day, I could tell Ashli had been transformed, too. I’d stumbled upon a hot yoga studio that morning while she was in session, and during my session she did a little hiking and journaling at a trail nearby. We both spent the morning in our own healing spaces, doing what our souls needed. No judgement. Very little words. Just being.


At the dinner party Friday night, as I soaked in the library of books adorning the shelves, Iona and I were in conversation. She said something to me that I won’t soon forget. “There are different levels of consciousness that we as humans can experience. When someone can’t hear you, or can’t see you, it’s not their fault. Because that is the level of consciousness they are in. They can’t help it. So we must love them right where they are.” Those words moved me. And will resonate in my heart forever. I often feel like I’m misunderstood, alone in the world, unable to be seen for my authentic self by many in my circle. I realized that this is likely due to not living my authentic self. For trying to please others. For saying what I think people want to hear rather than what’s really in my heart. For melting into the vibrations of others rather than holding my own energy and protecting it. That night in Sedona, I felt I’d found my tribe.

Coming home from this trip, I know and accept that I’m not the same person who left just five days ago. Sedona transformed my spirit. Awakened my soul. Healed old wounds. Re-wrote my story.

I’ve missed my family, but I didn’t want to come home.
I see our life here.
I see my children here.
I see my husband here, and long for him to come visit with me –soon. To experience the journey in his own way, on his own time. For his soul to be quenched, too.

I pray that the healing and divine transformations that Ashli and I discovered in Sedona will remain in our hearts forever. That others will travel to this magnificent place to find their own healing. That we may remain in our true self and express a deeper love to everyone around us. I pray blessings over every single person who touched our souls on that trip. That God may cover them with peace, protection, wisdom, grace, and miracles every day.

I’m grateful for trusting my intuition and going where I felt God leading me.

I’m grateful for a friend who trusted alongside me.

Our openness led to vast moments that transcended the understanding of our own minds. It led to a deepening in our friendship we didn’t fathom existed.

It reminded me of the power that lies within trusting the Holy Spirit to lead and guide, and reminded me that planning isn’t the plan at all. The process is the plan.

Thank you, Sedona. You are our miracle.

10 Things No One Told Me Before Having a Baby

This post won’t be for the faint at heart. Or for people who don’t like hearing (or talking) about bodily fluids, pregnancy and childbirth. If that’s you, I warned you.

If that’s not you, and you have a curious and open mind to the best mama advice I’ve got, I hope you enjoy the next 4 minutes of your life as you read over this list. And maybe share it with a friend who needs it. Lord knows I wish somebody had told me all this stuff.

Secret # 1:

Your blood pressure will drop significantly after the baby is born and YOU WILL BE FREEZING COLD. I recall being in a hoodie and sweatpants underneath 2 blankets in July, sitting in our leather recliner with my 4 day old baby. It was super strange.

Secret # 2:

If you have a C-section, it’s totally normal to pass a blood clot the size of a cantaloupe. I literally pulled the emergency cord in the hospital bathroom because I thought my liver fell into the toilet. When the nurse came running in to see if I was dying, she explained all this with that “Bless your heart” look about her. I didn’t find it very funny at the time, but will admit I felt much better after freeing this mass of dried blood from my body. Not to mention, several of my husbands MALE coworkers were in the hospital room and heard the whole thing happen. Kind of them to show up with Chick-Fil-A? Yes. Would I have preferred to experience that alone? Most definitely.

Secret # 3:

Breastfeeding is REALLY hard in the early days. But it gets easier after 2 weeks. The desire to throw in the towel will come early on, but if you set small goals to just make it through one feeding at a time, before you know it you’ll be on your way to painless, beautifully enjoyable and bonding nursing sessions with your tiny human. Lean on your support (by support I mean, all those friends you have that have done it before, ask them. Women who breastfed their babies usually LOVE to talk about their experience and will help you in a skinny minute). Have tons of grace with yourself. If the lactation consultant tells you to try a different position, trust them. If they suggest you try the nipple shield, try it. If your nipple looks like a tube of lipstick when the baby stops drinking, you’re doing it wrong and they can help with that. Trust me, it hurts like hell to keep letting them make lipstick nipples out of you.

Secret # 4:

Postpartum depression is NO JOKE. Be vigilant about noticing changes in your emotions and make sure your partner is aware enough to recognize changes in your mood and behavior, too. Locking yourself in the bathroom to cry with a newborn in your arms is OK, even if you have a house full of people waiting to hold the baby. But staying in there all day and doing it again the next day could mean it’s time to call your doc. Placenta encapsulation was a game-changer for me the second time around. If you have considered this, my advice is: It’s the best $200 you will ever spend on yourself. Just don’t forget to tell the nurses you want to keep your placenta. They may throw it out pretty quickly otherwise.

Secret # 5:

With regard to #4, saying NO to visitors is OK and encouraged. It’s a big life adjustment and you need all the alone time with the new human you just pushed out that you can possibly get. I am pretty sure my precious Grandparents are still upset with me because they were at our house in the driveway when we pulled up with our first baby six years ago. Grateful that they were there with lunch and cared enough to come visit? Of course I was. But having time to get in and get settled would have been nice, too. I’d have been much more engaged and present during their visit had it been just a few hours later. I had no idea what I was doing as a parent and had literally just been cut open from hip bone to hip bone 3 days before. (Love you Granny and Papa – please forgive me for seeming ungrateful. I promise I was just trying to figure out my new life and needed some space.)

Secret # 6:

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says that, I know. And it kind of sounds like annoying advice before you actually have the baby, but it really is true. While I was on maternity leave, I was slightly delusional to think I’d craft like Martha Stewart, start a business, and have a hot dinner on the table for my husband every day when he came home from work. I was lucky if I showered every other day and yoga pants and maternity tanks were the only laundry I had to worry about for myself. For 3 months.

Secret # 7:

If you have a C-section, you may experience the most gruesome pain AFTER you get home. I remember for at least a week after coming home from the hospital, every time I would sit down on the toilet to pee, a terrifying pain would shoot from my tailbone up to the middle of my back. The first time it happened I literally wailed as if I was being stabbed. It happened 2 dozen more times but seemed to lessen in severity over a week or so. I was told this was an after effect of the spinal block given to numb me before the incision, but I didn’t expect it. (I could see how an epidural would cause this also, but it didn’t happen to me with my second delivery.)

Secret # 8:

If you are fortunate enough to exclusively breastfeed your baby, know that it’s normal for them to go several days without pooping. And when they do poop, be ready. Hot, yellow, vinegary mess of a load it will be. But no need to be alarmed if a week passes between BMs. The way it was explained to me: breastmilk is so nutritious, there is very little waste for them to get rid of. Their bodies use almost all of your milk.

Secret # 9:

When you change their diaper, if you use a changing table, alternate the direction you lay them each time. They will naturally want to look at you while you change them, and if you lay them the same way ever time, you run the risk of causing their head to flatten on one side. Using the couch or bed and laying them directly in front of you works well, too.

Secret # 10:

When you go into labor, it may feel like you have to poop. With my second, I woke up at 3AM, rolled my giant body out of bed and waddled to the bathroom “to poop”. And then 20 minutes later…again. And then 10 minutes later… again. After an hour, I texted my husband who was sleeping upstairs because I was beyond the point of being an enjoyable bed partner, to tell him I thought I was in labor. After pacing laps around our living room and kitchen for another hour, my water broke and we had s baby soon after.

Don’t let any of this stuff freak you out. Having a baby is the greatest miracle I’ve ever known. It’s all worth it in the end, I promise.

Peace, be still.

Ever wondered what it’d be like to sit on a beach alone at 5:30 in the morning? It’s so dark that the white crests of the waves are the only way to tell where the sand stops and just becomes water. Every few seconds, the Bald Head Island lighthouse flickers white. The Big Dipper and Small Dipper, both above me in the big, dark sky – they are getting fainter now as the lavender light of the morning sun creeps in over the horizon. The tide is low and rough, and I can hear the swell and crash of every wave. The breeze is perfect and the air smells warm and salty. I wonder if there is anyone else out here.

Yesterday on my sunrise walk, I saw a woman sleeping. Pillow, beach towel, and peace are the three things I noticed. A few yards further, I saw a man meditating, his fingers connected to make a circle at the fronts of his shins, his eyes closed and his legs crossed. Again, peace.

It’s 6:09 now and much easier to see. I can read the words in my Bible without a flashlight. The sky looks like cotton candy and every time I pause from writing to look up, I see a new cloud.

I smile. Peace, once more.

I spot an animal down the beach and notice tracks beside me. Did this little guy walk past me and I missed him?

I see more people. Mostly alone. Some couples. Two parents with their young children. And then, they all stop to stare.

“Sonder” – the realization that each random passerby is living a live as vivid and complex as your own.

The same man I saw meditating yesterday was out again today, and I saw him walk closer to the shore to take a picture.

Being fully surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation…

Connecting all of the senses simultaneously in wonder and awe…

Just being still, knowing that a new day is beginning and having gratitude for the breath just taken…

That’s p e a c e.

Realizing that we have choices each day, the ability to choose joy and peace and love rather than sadness or anger or hate. Realizing that we can choose to be kind, no matter how others treat us, because negative people are suffering. Realizing that maybe a smile or kind word is what they need to turn their gaze the other way.

The choices we make craft our life, and if we aren’t careful we will spend our lives focusing on all that’s wrong and miss all that’s available, all that’s peaceful and all that’s beautiful.

May peace be with you today, and always.

#BeTheChange

My 30 Day Social Media Experiment

For a good while, I’ve tried to embrace the love/hate relationship that I have developed with social media.

I love the way it connects us to people we aren’t physically close to, and I love how we can encourage and inspire others by sharing our stories and experiences. I love how it helps us find an apartment or a yoga studio or a good networking opportunity. I love the way we have a handheld way to chronicle our lives through photographs and paragraphs and share these memories with those who want to be a part of our journey through the screen and scroll.

Yet I hate the scroll. I hate the comparison trap. I hate the divisiveness. I hate the hatred.

We take our selfies when we’re at our best and post them for others to see when they are in potentially their worst. We showcase our new stuff and our big houses and our vacations and our family memories and our sporting events and our flowers and our jewelry and our cars and then press the home button to get back to real life.

We hop from one app to the other, scrolling for something new that gets our attention. What comment threads can we read? What assumptions can we make about people by reading their thoughts in a heated online argument (because even if you don’t think you will, you are.) and do we comment also?

I find myself taking photos of my kids, and thinking they must be posted right away (because I’ll forget, of course). And then I spend a few minutes thinking about the caption, and if it needs hashtags, and should I do only hashtags or a caption, too? Should I include their names in the hashtag?…

Then the little red numbers start popping up on the icon on my phone. Someone liked my picture. {smile and heart swell}. They commented. Do I comment back? Sometimes I try, but sometimes I just don’t want to. Is that rude? Oh, another comment – this is so flattering! People think my kids are just as amazing as I do.

Maybe I will just take the app off my phone and that way I can only see Facebook if I go to the website. And turn off the notifications so that there are no distracting red numbers in circles.

But what if I just don’t look at all. (Well, with the exception of monitoring business pages for my job once a day, which I will explain later…). But what if I just don’t Facebook at all, for 30 days. What would that look like?

Most of you probably don’t know this about me, but I am incredibly sensitive and feel things around me much differently than you most likely do. (If you are a “feeler” like me, lets chat because I am always looking to build my tribe with those who get it.) Through the lens of social media, I am able to discern in others: pain, joy, authenticity, rage, fear, dishonesty and thankfully, love. But it’s heavy. I’ve wondered what it would be like to just cut off social media altogether. But then, I discover a fantastic new restaurant to take my family to by a Facebook share. It’s tough, I know.

So, for me personally, I am ready to do something about it. I’m off Facebook–a test with a strategy coming alive as my fingers strike these keys. Here’s my plan:

  1. Starting right this minute and for the next thirty days, I will not use Facebook for personal reasons*. I have already deleted the app from my phone.
  2. Because my job requires me to monitor the digital presence of our apartment communities, I will view each business page once per day and will only be on Facebook for this purpose. (Don’t worry SPG, my duties will not slack by way of this experiment!)
  3. I will continue to take pictures of my kids and life as it happens, and at the end of the thirty days, I will share the good ones, sort of as the comic strip of our summer. I appreciate that many of you truly love seeing our photos – we’ve got family all over the country and watching our girls grow up online is a blessing that I am grateful for.
  4. In the time I’ve now gained in my day, I will spend it living more in the moment, and less in the story. I’m gonna time block specific times in my day to check Facebook for work, and to check email.
  5. I’m gonna spend my downtime filling out paperwork and reading books to finish my doula certification because God’s answered my prayer and that’s just what I’m supposed to do. Thinking back on those hours when I served those three different mamas, in three different stages of their journey, and the joy I truly felt deep into my core. I won’t ever forget the way that felt. And God will make a way for me to doula for mothers while working in my current role, too. I feel it in my bones.
  6. Lastly, anytime I take a picture of the girls and normally would have posted it to Facebook or IG, I’m going to email it to them instead. I set up email addresses for each of the girls when they were born and I honestly don’t send them stuff as much as I could. Instead of posting to FB or IG over the next 30, I can send them their own personal captions along with the video or pic. I imagine how cool it will be for Sadler to turn 14 and find out she has an email account full of emails from the last decade of her life. (I would have loved this!)..her own digital scrapbook from her mama’s perspective (and anyone else who emails her – that’s the beauty of it, her grandparents and daddy and cousins and family friends who have her email address can send her things, too.) This has been one of my biggest parenting wins and I’ve patted myself on the back a couple of times for setting it up, I just need a pat on the butt to keep it moving along! So hopefully this experiment will light a spark to send more emails to my little ladies.

I’m excited about this. I hope I’ve inspired someone to take a break, too.

Optimistic this downtime from social media will allow me to be more present. (I plan to disconnect from Instagram, too. I deleted it from my phone.) I hope this downtime will allow me to be more sensitive to God’s purpose for me. To center me and reset me and desensitize me from the junk of the world.

Expect a followup post about my journey through this experiment. Namaste, y’all.

*Sadler’s birthday is coming up very soon and we will use Facebook as our source of invitation. Friends and family that normally get those from us, look for that to come from Reid most likely 😉

10 Things Learned While Hanging Out In The Airport

I’ve been in San Diego for a work conference since Wednesday. When this trip was planned back in January, it only made sense to take advantage of being on the West coast and extend my time here with a mini-vacation with Reid. With friends in San Francisco that we rarely get to see, it was an easy decision to book a flight to get Reid out here, too.

My flight was scheduled to leave at 10AM today. It was a packed flight, and because of this, the airline was looking for a volunteer to give up their seat in exchange for a $450 voucher. I volunteered without hesitation and prepared myself to spend the next 7 hours hanging out in the San Diego airport.

Here’s what today taught me:

  1. Being flexible pays off. Recently, Reid and I made the decision to cancel a trip to NYC for a wedding so that we could attend a marriage conference instead. We were out $400 when this decision was made but felt our marriage was worth it. Today’s decision got my $400 back, plus some.
  2. Wearing a shirt that says “Jesus” on it will get you lots of looks, questions and seemingly extra kindness from complete strangers. It also allows you to somehow get through security without a boarding pass without hesitation.
  3. I love babies. I love smiling at them. And when they smile back, I melt a little.
  4. Eating both breakfast and lunch in the airport won’t provide the best-tasting food, or the best prices in town for that matter. My $13 yogurt and granola would have been better with a $17 Bloody Mary. But paying more for a drink than for breakfast just didn’t seem right to me.
  5. Having someone to talk to whilst waiting for your flight makes the time pass with more joy. I was thankful that my co-worker was willing to be my airport buddy and talk about life with me this morning.
  6. Sometimes, we think we’re over something from our past. But sometimes, we talk about those same things from our past and we cry. Unexpectedly.
  7. People-watching is best done in an airport. Or an amusement park. But an airport offers good watching for sure.
  8. Airports should have nap pods.
  9. Not all TSA workers are grumpy people. I’ve been treated with more kindness than I expected, and even met a TSA worker from Greensboro, who went to high school less than a mile from my house. (He asked me about my shirt and where I got it. Hence #2 on this list.)
  10. People really are addicted to their cell phones. It’s actually kind of crazy to look around and see everyone so captivated by a handheld device. There could be naked people walking around and no one would even notice. Even the kids around me are on some sort of tablet or phone. Very little conversation, yet so much noise.

I’m ready to explore San Francisco, kiss my husband and hug my friends. I miss my children immensely but appreciate what so much alone time can offer. It’s like pressing a reset button in the soul. Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you do something of the path of the plan.

Stay classy, San Diego airport. Until next time…