dear lincoln {you are two}.

[A few years back I decided to write a letter to each of my children on (near) their birthday. You can read past letters by clicking the label "A letter to my baby" at the bottom of the post. I haven't blogged in months, but you bet I will start again with a letter to my son. ]

My Dearest Lincoln Wayne,

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't say to myself 'I can't believe I have a boy' mainly because you give me a daily near-heart attack every day with your antics. Tonight was no different. We were at a friend's home, feeding their long-horn cows and I look over to ask your dad where you are, and he thinks you are sitting on the Gator, where you wanted to be most of the night. Except you weren't there. We look over to find that you have hopped the fence and you are darting toward the cows. Thankfully they didn't care about you, they were more interested in the snacks they were getting. But boy, you have no fear. And you know, I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for your bravery. My prayer is that strength and courage will go with you all the days of your life, but not by your own--with the Lord's strength. I pray Joshua 1:9 over you- "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

You know what I love about you? You make me notice things that I wouldn't have otherwise noticed or care. When we are in the car and you make an "oooooohhhhhhh!" sound, I know to look for a big truck, tractor, or machine. The excitement over anything big and that moves is pretty epic. Every single motorcycle we pass I hear "I wanna ride!" in the most pitiful voice as if your life will be over if I don't grant this request. We will cross that bridge when it comes, but I'll be honest, you driving a motorcycle is not my favorite idea. And I can just see you pulling out the Joshua 1:9 verse on me in the future when you want a bike. Oh man.

You will be two on Monday. Which means you have been rocked to sleep approximately 728 days in a row and still counting. Your dad and I pretty much fight over who gets to put you to sleep because you love to read books and you love to snuggle. You might be five and we are still rocking you to sleep because it's the perfect way to wind down the day.

I can't wait to celebrate your birthday tomorrow with friends and family and a train party. Your sisters are so excited. They love you so much. Naomi thinks she is about six years older than you, not 18 months, but I think soon she will realize that you aren't too far off from her. I'm excited to see your relationship with her grow. One of your favorite activities together is racing strollers around the house. She also likes to wipe your snot off with the words "hold still, buddy, I just got to get this." Audrey loves to write you letters and make pictures for you of things you like--like trains or dinosaurs. Tonight she was insisting on getting you a present for your birthday from her. She also said she didn't want to sleep because she was so excited to celebrate your birthday tomorrow. God put you right where you are suppose to be with two older sisters, and I'm so thankful for that.

I love watching your personality shape and I'm eager to see how God will use for His Glory. I know He has already used you to bring me and your daddy such deep joy.

Lincoln Wayne, you are loved. Very much so. Happy 2nd birthday!

Your Mama

P.S. You don't have a big opinion on what you wear, but you do prefer your hat backwards and ties are welcomed. I mean, you are just a cool kid. Love you.


why i got a tattoo.

[Did not expect my first blog post in 2014 to be about a tattoo. But I have a feeling this year is going be full of unexpected things.]

Asked me ten years ago about what I thought about tattoos and I would have said distasteful. Or why would anyone get something so permanent?!

If I was asked last year about ever getting a tattoo I would have said…
No, I don't like pain. 
No, I have better things to use my money for.
[Oh, wait, I said that just a few days before getting my tattoo.]

So, why? Why would I do something so permanent, costly, and painful and in a very visible location?

Because every one has a story. A story of triumph, a story of hardship, a story of perseverance. A story of grace. I decided I wanted a tattoo as a way to share my story and as a reminder to myself about how God has carried me through some dark storms.

I totally made a Pinterest tattoo board, in which I titled it Crazy Thought. I found my inspiration and went for it. And thanks to my 18 year old sister, that asked me to get one with her on her birthday!

Grace is enough.

Those were the words I wanted to be constantly reminded of, in a spot that I would look at often--my wrist with my own handwriting

The words are based on 2 Corinthians 12:9.

But he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

This is the verse I put in our Christmas letter this last year and this is the verse I clung to when our now, 3 year old, Naomi was diagnosed last summer with Neuroblastoma, the childhood cancer. When everything else seems to be going wrong, when I was facing my biggest fear, I still had hope because of God's grace. I'm so thankful that His grace is enough for me. And nothing can separate me from His love.

So, as I sometimes skip, hop, or trudge through this thing, we call life, I have a constant reminder of three simple words that bring me back to a time that God carried me through, and know that whatever lies ahead, His grace will always be there.

For the record, I did not cry. I prepped myself by saying I've been through 3 births, two of which were totally natural, so I can do this. It only took about 3 minutes, and I smiled, took deep breaths, and occasionally made funny faces through it. 

When I woke the next morning, the girls wanted a tattoo of course, too. Audrey wanted the exact same one. I was able to tell her--isn't it awesome that God's love will never leave us?! 

Oh, and I so appreciate all the love I've received from this decision on Facebook and Instagram. I think my favorite response is people being shocked that I would actually get one, they didn't peg me as a "tattoo" person.  And that's okay either way. I just want to be pegged as a Christ-follower. 


captured: first big snow

We lost approximately a zillion hours of sleep because the excitement was just too much.

(after an hour of being in bed)


2am send kids back to bed, not time yet

3am send kids back to bed, not time yet

4am- oldest is officially up and there isn't much hope she will sleep from here on out

5am- middle child is officially up, parents pretend to be asleep, but really we are just postponing the inevitable


Lincoln lasted 4 minutes in the snow and thought it was awesome until he sat in it.
Naomi lasted 8 minutes and thought it was awesome until she took her gloves off and decided to touch it with her BARE hands.
Audrey wanted to stay out forever, but had to go inside with the rest of the crew.

And naturally we had to have homemade hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles.

So, a zillion hours of lost sleep was totally worth the less than 10 minutes in the snow.

 Because this, this is childhood.


advent. {activities and readings}

The word advent means arrival.

The advent season for us, is remembering the arrival of Jesus and the hope we have in His return one day. So this Advent season, as we count down the days till Jesus' birthday, our goal in our family is to prepare our hearts for this amazing gift, our Savior, and to be purposeful with our time by spreading the life-giving aroma of Christ by serving and doing thoughtful things for others…and enjoying each other.

In the past, our Advent activities have been very full and very crafty. But now that my kids are getting a bit older, I feel like I can add in opportunity to bless others and lessen the amount of stuff we do that just fills time because that is what we are suppose to do. And let me tell you, we are only three days into Advent, and as much as we have enjoyed blessing others, we have been truly blessed ourselves.

Yesterday our activity was to create "kindness cards" to leave around our town that a stranger could pick up and find a little joy from it for their day. The girls created the cards, I wrote inside of them, and they each signed their own name. Lincoln's name was added as well, although this year he didn't have much say in it-ha. We prayed over each card for the person that would receive it. Then we put a small gift in it of $5, wrote on the outside "Please Take :)" and the girls chose where they would like to leave them around town. The kids anxiously wanted to wait around to see who would take the cards, but I told them that who ever did, they would just smile so big, I guarantee it, and then we walked away.

But you know what? God works in ways we can't foresee and imagine. Last night on Facebook someone wrote on my wall about their friend finding one of our cards at the grocery store! I would never have thought that we would find out who found even one of our cards. It was amazing to read how that little "kindness card" encouraged their day. And that stranger that received the card shared how they have been praying for our little Naomi since her diagnosis! And of course, since I'm a total sap, I cried heavy tears of joy knowing that strangers were praying for each other! Then it made me think about how our Heavenly Father thinks about us--when He does things for us to bring us joy and we show Him gratitude in return, I bet He cries tears of joy as well.

Today we made an assortment of cookies and packaged them up to deliver tomorrow to service people around town, we plan to hit up the fire station, the police station, our local Red Cross, and a local ministry.

Lincoln was napping, next year he will be able to take in more of the action. 
Not pictured: matching aprons and Christmas music blaring. 

I don't have plans to do an activity every single day, but I do plan on reading scripture every day. The kids are already used to the routine--right after lunch Audrey gets matches and lights our Advent candle that we lit on Sunday {and yes, she knows how to use a match, what the what} then they take turns getting the card out of our Advent calendar and I read or Andrew if he is on lunch break, while the candle burns, then we learn about our activity for the day. There isn't Elf on the Shelf  or a piece of candy every day or a crazy craft that we are doing. I'm keeping it simple because that's what I need. I know myself and I know that I love the holidays, but I also get overwhelmed easily and put this pressure on myself to do every single Christmas craft pinned to mankind on Pinterest. But this year, I'm giving myself a free pass. A pass to be. To enjoy. And do things, only, only if my heart is in it. Not because I see it plastered over social media. [And give yourself a free pass, not to use anything that I'm posting, don't feel obligated to do all these things, do what aligns yourself with Christ.] 


giving thanks.

We are well into the Christmas spirit in our household, we've had our {real} tree for a week, Christmas music playing since November 1, and we have already baked sugar cookies with snowflakes, trees, candy cane, and gingerbread cut-outs. But, that doesn't mean we passed up Thanksgiving and focused on a heart of gratitude. In fact, I would say this was probably one of the best Thanksgivings yet. And not for any particular reason, but we decided to be more intentional with our time and allow for open space--time to relax, time to not-do, time for quietness and to be still in our own home. And specifically, me, I'm learning to let go of seeing life, especially holidays, as a 'check-off-the-list' thing; learning to enjoy the process rather than the end result and letting go of "rules" I've given myself in the past that have hardened my mood. I want to be present and allow God to fill the empty spaces. And if I want to put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, I'll do that too. {grin}

 In the past, we've been quick to fill up each day with fun activities, feeling obligated to see all family members, Black Friday shopping, and the tradition of watching the lighting in our downtown.  This year we passed on most of that. And not that those things are bad or wrong, but for us, we are desiring a season, or seasons of just being.  And what I found this Thanksgiving, is that God used our time for Him. And I'm so thankful for that. We were able to open our home to unexpected little guests, give a blanket to a young boy who was walking around in a t-shirt in the freezing cold, and bless some new friends with their first trip to the big screen movies. These moments came in the in-between, in the unplanned.

Today I finished up our Advent calendar, with a reading for each day and an activity to do. There are some blank days with zero activities, and I'm already telling myself that it's okay to not do an activity if we don't feel like it when the day comes. But to be present, in whatever we do. And to keep the heart of gratitude flowing.

We took a pit stop at the Children's Museum on the way to visit family.

Caught these two sharing secrets at the table. Be still my heart. 

Our attempt at getting Lincoln to smile. Real life at it's finest. 

Andrew and I got to sneak away for an impromptu day-date, it was fabulous! We hit up a coffee shop and I read in between working on a little secret we are going to reveal soon! 

We decided last minute to hit up our Farmer's Market this morning, live reindeer were quite the hit. 

And just for the record, Thursday evening we came home from visiting family out of town and my family ate Ramen noodles and yogurt for dinner. On Thanksgiving. Ain't no shame here.


holiday cards. {tiny prints}

One of my favorite traditions of Christmas is sending out the Christmas card and receiving them. With technology and the accessibility to contact someone through email, social media, or texting, I just love the idea of exchanging hellos through the traditional mailbox. I make a little goal for myself to get my cards mailed out sometime close to December 1st. I love writing a letter to go along with the card, reflecting back on the year to see how God has been working in our lives. I keep our cards and the letter I write each year in a special keepsake to get out with all of the holiday decor, so fun to read by the fire, sipping some homemade hot chocolate and seeing how our family has grown over the years.

I'd say half the fun in choosing the card is picking which pictures to use--thankful for our annual family photo shoot in October. The other half of the fun is choosing the design. Or in the case of Tiny Prints, you can choose the design, the layout, the font, the texture of the paper, the shape of the card, and even the envelope liner. How fun is that?! I've used Tiny Prints in the past because of the quality of their prints, but also because of their commitment to costumer service. Plus, I love to know that their products are made with corporate sustainability and printed in South Carolina and Minnesota.

While I was checking out the new holiday designs for 2013, I couldn't help but be attracted to all the cards that have gold on them. I'm slightly obsessed with a little bit of gold everywhere. Yes, you too?

I had a lot of fun plugging in our pictures into some of my favorite designs:

1. Golden Greetings

2. Stunning Stand

3. Circling Joy

 4. Adored Ornaments 

I thought I would try out the round ones that can also be hung on the tree! 
5. Spray on Glitter

Now excuse me while I dwell over which card to choose! 


sugarplum fairies. {right now}

Brother is napping, I'm making broccoli and cheddar soup, and this is my view…

the sweetest sugarplum fairies (as they call themselves) that I ever did see. ..

And for a moment, all is well in the world. 

{Pssssss. That outfit Audrey has on was mine when I was a little girl.}