There is freedom in exposure and power in written word.
I have found that documenting the seemingly mundane occurrences of ordinary days mystically unlocks the riches buried within them. Our lives are masterpieces, mosaics; Divinely composed of single moments- some dark and ominous, others bright and sparkling with promise- each working together to bring about a unique and extraordinary design. We are fashioned with purpose as unique expressions of God to our world. This is my attempt to illuminate and celebrate the various shades of the mosaic of my life.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Epic Road

Time (the mystical force that it is) with all its power to sway and rearrange me is progressively illuminating a great paradox within. I imagine it settled into my soul a decade or so ago, maybe two. This contradiction holds great influence over the evolution of my personhood. It is a force that persuades my perception- shading my past, haunting my present and shaping my future.

It is rooted in the small, southern town that rocked my cradle, in the humble house on a hill shaded by maple trees I once called home. I’m not sure of the day or hour or even the year, but at some point the simplicity and familiarity of all I had ever known began to irk me like a favorite shirt that doesn’t quite accommodate your abdomen in the same manner it used to.

There was a time jovial shouts of children echoed off the austere brick houses lining our street. My voice was amongst them. Wonder and innocence were my closest companions. They guided me into the magical nature of the ordinary, revealing dinosaur bones in gravel driveways and a babbling brook buried in the thick of trees that led to oceans and distant lands (or so we believed as we attempted to set sail Huck-Finn-style on a piece of birchwood). I danced barefoot on cool grass and sat indian-style under clouds shaped like animals making ornate jewelry with flowering weeds. I started fires with sunlight, magnifying glasses and hairspray and trapped lightening bugs in mason jars, freezing them into organic flashlights. In those days, I was blissfully unaware of the metaphorical ladder and hierarchy of the society in which we live.

Time slowly yet steadily lured me from that naivety, through cigarettes and R.L. Stine books, neither of which my conscience allowed me to indulge in, but both of which I associated with popular, pretty girls who wore plaid Duck Heads (whom I secretly longed to be). I would sit with them by the creek (the one I once viewed as a babbling brook that could transport me to exotic places) and breathe in the smoke that billowed from their lips. There was always a grand canyon between us, but I would pretend in those moments that they considered me a friend.

I mysteriously settled into a circle of girls in junior high and high school whose lives were notably different than my own. Their houses were twice (maybe three times) as big as mine. Their cars were sexy and new. They dressed and accessorized just like the magazines. They were effortlessly cool, and I . . . was a clumsy fraud. I attempted to dress the part (on credit of course), but always felt a bit like I was masquerading. I parked my long, grey Bonneville (or baby-blue-Caravan-with-wood-paneling, depending on the day) in the back of the gravel parking lot (as far from the school as possible), praying fervently every morning and afternoon that no one saw me behind the wheel. Yes, I was a fraud. I was silently embarrassed by my lack and could never really understand why such attractive, intelligent and affluent girls desired to associate with me. We loved God and so I assumed they were graced with the ability to overlook my material shortcomings and embrace the deeper me. Perhaps they were blissfully unaware of my differences. It’s quite possible it never crossed their minds, but it was incessantly on mine.

While sitting in a Wesleyan Sunday school room in northern Indiana a handful of snobby white kids with nasally voices interrogated me about life in the south (or “sticks” as they called it). Somewhere between a question pertaining to whether or not I wore shoes to school and a request that I say the word “ya’ll” a hundred times (with loads of subsequent snickering), I concluded that southerners are perceived as deep-fried idiots by the broader world.

Needless-to-say, I progressively grew restless with my roots and felt an overwhelming desire to prune myself from their power.

Interesting isn’t it? The word “root” literally meaning “the nodes that serve to support and sustain.” I desired to cast off the very culture, society and relationships that cultivated and nourished my beginning. I wanted move to some exotic place, marry a sophisticate (with unrivaled spiritual depth) and build the life I had always envied.

The irony of it all is that a decade later, I am married to a fellow native-Nashvillian (who just so happens to be a sophisticate with unrivaled spiritual depth) and we live exactly 12.11 miles from my childhood home. There is nothing exotic about our life (except perhaps our love). I couldn’t care less about cars and houses or the latest styles. Striving to attain status and acquire material riches seems in these days like such an empty and sad endeavor. I have come to view the proverbial social climb as futility at its finest. Suddenly, I see gold in the sweat on my father’s brow and the faith in my mother’s heart and honor in the depths of their humility. The simplicity of their existence does not evoke shame in the same manner it used to . . .

It’s quite tempting to pretend that I’ve settled into a place of utter resolve and that I am no longer disenchanted with my roots (in fact, I almost did in the last paragraph). However, if I am honest, the radical shift in my perception has not entirely freed me from the agitation and discomfort I sometimes feel when I reflect on my family and city of origin and the events surrounding it.

Venturing through the fragments of memory that comprise this paradox feels a bit like strolling down Broadway stark naked with the sun spotlighting every blemish. This abash journey of self-discovery is fueled by an ever-growing urgency to settle into my skin and live as authenticity as possible. I would not even step foot on this epic road if I didn’t fervently believe that reconciling with my roots can (and will) open worlds of contentment and understanding (not only of myself, but of humanity at large). And so my intent is to continue to walk (eyes-wide-open) through the pages of my life- the events and people and places that led me here . . . to this desk and this moment.

Yes, it is my mission to revel in the mosaic of my life; even the darkest colors.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Darkness swept over me, stealing my voice, and in the hush- chaos was unleashed. I ached and toiled for resolve in the silence, afraid to invite anyone in- even my most intimate friend. I was haunted by death and birth in the night, tangible life and the slipping of it.

Yes, darkness swept over me.

I could not speak. I, such a lover of words, could not apply language to the depth of this gloom, nor find an origin to the grief that struck. I became cold in the quiet, harboring friction of soul, progressively unable to open. Days turned to weeks. I cringed in isolation, aching for someone- anyone- to touch the ache, but it alluded even me. Shades of grey sat weighty within, breaking the back of hope and peace, but in my most desperate moment, tenderness met me through the gentle countenance of my most cherished companion. His touch and confession of the sting of this chill and the influence of this darkness resurrected my voice. The dam broke. Pain spilled from my soul and poured from my eyes. The chaos of night burst forth and I could see. Grief I thought I had relinquished gushed from me with fury. . . but he steadied me, with the safety of his arms, and as I gazed into his eyes- moist with emotion- I realized that this loss, this night. . . this ache is not my own. It is ours.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Creator and Sustainer

The birth of Jack and Caleb triggered in me an unexpected flood of recollection. Seeing their fragile bodies lying bare on tiny tables, Caleb’s wires and monitors and oxygen, jolted my heart and filled me with remembrance of our first days with Jonah- the joy and fulfillment of uniting with the life that had been one with me for so long and the fear and concern that gripped me in the face of unexpected complications. The ache I had to protect Jonah, to be his strength and comfort and advocate was more intense than any compulsion I’d ever known. It was quite overwhelming. I remember the seemingly endless adrenaline rush that peaked my senses for days. I couldn’t sleep; I felt that if I did, he’d die; like he needed me to be 100% alert and attentive to him at all times.

After several days of this mad and dizzying state, I broke. That night is so vivid in my mind . . . the flood of tears I couldn’t restrain, the desperation I felt to rest and my body’s inability to do so. My mother-n-law sensed how weary I had become and offered to take me to her place to recoup overnight. I had such a sick feeling in my stomach leaving Allen and Jonah at the hospital, but I will never forget the tranquility I experienced alone with God in my in-laws guest bedroom. Divine peace and rest settled on me differently than it ever has. I released Jonah as I laid in the darkness and accepted that he was God’s. I sensed a whisper in the spirit, “I am the creator AND sustainer of life.” The pressure and urgency I felt in days prior was lifted as that revelation settled into me. Though Jonah’s life had been entrusted to me, God was still on the scene. He was intimately united with and invested in my son. I could trust him to remain. He was at work in Jonah’s fragile body, nurturing him in ways far beyond my capability.

It is my prayer that the revelation that reached me (and resurfaces over and over on this journey with Jonah) would thunder in Molly and Kyle. May the hope and peace and sustaining power of God be real to them in these days. . .

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I am tense tonight, filled with such a paradox of emotion. I have sifted through page after page of information on breastfeeding toddlers and the weaning process (yes- this issue is still on my mind). The benefits of nursing are undeniable, yet I have been met in recent months with such opposition in this area that I find myself constantly questioning my decision to continue. I am shocked at how many gasp at the mention of breastfeeding beyond a year.

Jonah has expressed absolutely no interest in weaning. He hasn’t slowed or tapered one bit. In fact, it seems in recent weeks, his desire to nurse has increased. I contribute this to a need to reestablish a sense of security after exercising his independence. He is deeply comforted and soothed at the breast. It seems to be his centering place, a sanctuary of sorts.

And I must admit, during these days of ever increasing displays of freedom and autonomy it is satisfying to reconnect with Jonah in this way. It calms us and requires us to be still and skin-to-skin. It is a sacred exchange really, and all too fleeting.

That being said, I absolutely sense that it is time to institute boundaries in this area. Up until this point I have literally been at Jonah’s beck and call, which I don’t regret and will likely repeat with subsequent children. However, I am beginning to see that the rules and developmental necessities of toddlerhood are vastly different from infancy.

I am quickly finding that toddlers don’t have the best manners. They are often demanding and have very little emotional control in the face of opposition to their desires. If I deny Jonah the breast when he signals for it (which happens only during cluster feeds or in inappropriate places), he quickly shifts into tantrum mode. His cry is panicky and his sobbing is so intense it takes his breath away. He arches his back and kicks his legs as if to beg in desperation. It is, in my opinion, a feening of sorts much like you’d see in a rehab clinic. So, it’s definitely time to encourage nursing manners and establish boundaries for the sake of my sanity and our peace, but HOW?!

I ordered a book tonight called Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Burmgarner. I am hopeful that it will provide wisdom, validation and direction- God knows I need it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I aspired to become a “Babywise” mom while Jonah was in the womb. I read the book aloud to Allen a chapter-at-a-time during short commutes around town in an attempt to prepare for the challenge of parenting. Though at times we questioned the rigidity of Dr. Ezzo’s theory, the structure, predictability and control appealed to us. We genuinely believed we’d have no trouble instituting the suggested boundaries and strictly guiding our son’s schedule.

I smile as I reflect on the naivety of those days and assess our way with Jonah. I am far from scheduled and ridged. I am soft and responsive (those who know me well would likely add “overly”). I look nothing like the book said I should. I have entirely missed the mark- at least by Ezzo’s standards.

I am learning to accept that I am not (and never will be) a “Babywise” mom. I have entirely (albeit instinctively) subscribed to an attachment parenting philosophy. Jonah was in my arms, on my boob or strapped to my body for the first several months of his life. He has nursed on demand (around the clock) for 14 ½ months. He sleeps in a crib two feet from my pillow and often (almost nightly) finagles his way into our bed. I jump at his cry. I have on occasion attempted the “cry-it-out” method, exercising my authority, and it typically lasts all of three minutes before I cave.

Why am I sharing this? It feels a bit like a confession- like I am exposing some shameful shortcoming. The internal accusations and guilt we wrestle as mothers is maddening at times- continuously questioning whether the things we’re doing (or not doing) are causing irreparable damage to our children.

My parenting philosophy is dominant in my thoughts tonight because the topic of weaning surfaced in a conversation today (as it has countless times in the past few months). Every time it does I cringe as it is an area that boldly declares my un-Ezzoish ways! Though society says I should be ready and I often agree, settling into the idea and committing to the process has been more difficult than I ever imagined, and I’m not exactly sure why.

Perhaps I too highly revere the exclusive and intimate nature of nursing. Maybe I fear the loss of the bond it cultivates between Jonah and I or dread the inevitable tension and tears. Maybe we’re codependent, I need to needed and this is the only thing I have to offer that no one else can. Perhaps I view weaning as a substantial sign that my “baby” is no more and I resist letting go or simply have difficulty justifying cutting him off from nutrients and immunities that he craves. Quite possibly I fear my attachment philosophy has created a nursing-addict and Jonah’s feening coupled with my tenderheartedness is a recipe for failure . . .

Whatever it is, the resistance I feel toward the process is undeniable. So what do I do?? It seems I may need to seek the assistance of a professional to identify, mull over and gain freedom from the mental and emotional turmoil surrounding this decision. I’m a wreck!

I welcome advice from all of you seasoned mothers out there . . . Please impart your wisdom!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Tonight, I was bombarded by images of life fresh from the womb, photos and footage from lands far and near. I heard whispers of my story and saw glimpses of my child on unfamiliar faces. Sights of distant lands roused my deep. Humanity in raw obscurity gripped me tightly and holds me still. The purity of innocence haunts me. The intimate interaction of mother and child is universal . . . and quite entrancing. Who would guess that a movie with no dialogue could stir the soul in such a profound way? Babies. I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 10, 2010


The longer I am a mother, the more aware I become of the sacrifice and depth of love and devotion required to nurture and sustain the life of a child. I am in awe of the juggling act women proficiently master (of which I am still an amateur)- feeding, bathing, clothing, changing, washing, cleaning, consoling, playing, singing, shopping, teaching, planning, praying- the list could go on and on. And this times 2 or 3 or 4 (or MORE for some)!

I have become a keen observer of women with children. I study their touch, their tone, their way with those God has entrusted to them. I take note of the gentle and creative manner in which some usher their kids into an understanding of the intricacies of life, and purpose in my heart to do the same.

Of all the titles and positions I’ve held and aspired to, I am most proud and fulfilled by the role of “Mother.” The weightiness of this high call rests heavy on my heart. I am daily reminded of my inadequacy. I am riddled with weakness, but I am so thankful that the strength and wisdom of God supplements my lack in Christ. He is my help and sustenance, my counselor and guide . . . In Him I am entirely equipped to nurture and cultivate the sons and daughters he entrusts to me (both in the natural and in the faith).

As I reflect on this role and all its implications, I am overwhelmed with remembrance of my childhood and of the one through whom my life was given- the love she demonstrated, her humility and sacrifice, her tenderness and commitment to the cultivation of the depths of my potential in God.

She was the first to love and dream over me. She was the one who woke in the night to console and comfort me, the one who bathed and blanketed me, who warded off my hunger and protected me from harm. She is the one who ran to my aid and dried my tears, the one who whispered the purposes of God over me and awakened my spirit to the realities of the Kingdom.

How blessed I am to share the blood of one who so genuinely craves and adores the Lord. Peace and power have immeasurably entered my life through the doorway of her faithfulness and intercession.

Thank you, Mom, for every sacrifice you made to give me life and for teaching me to be a mother!

"Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
Proverbs 31: 28-30