"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Monday, June 30, 2014

An Empty Bedroom

Her room is empty, save the wall decor and the desk and lamp she does not have room for in her apartment.

Her apartment.


How did we get to this place?

I will never forget the very first time I placed our tiny firstborn baby in her crib for the very first time.  She was the answer to my very deepest desire - to be a mommy.  There has never been anything I longed for more than that, never.  On that very first night, I remember praying over her as she slept.  I prayed the prayer that my mom and dad had prayed with me when I was tiny. . .

"Now I lay you down to sleep,
I pray the Lord your soul to keep,
if you should die. . ."

At the word die, I started to weep.

The idea that I could ever be separated from this tiny one whom I loved with my entire being was completely unbearable.  Though she was only a day or two old, I could not imagine my life without her.

In those moments I felt the Lord speaking to me patiently yet sternly saying, "Don't hold on too tight Alicia.  Always remember that she is mine.  Trust her to me.  Today and always."

Those words have never left me.


Over the years there have been many, many, many, many, many times in which I have held on too tightly.  I have often forgotten that she is not mine, she is a daughter of the One True King first and foremost.

I MUST trust Him above all else.

I have been always been grateful for this lesson - but never more so than now.

Now when she is gone.

Living her own life.

Doing things her way.

Being whoever she chooses to be.

No matter where she goes, who she hangs out with, how she pays her bills, etc, etc, etc. . .  she belongs to Him.  He will never, ever leave her.  Never, ever.

Father God, I remember.  She is Yours.  I trust You with her.  Watch over our daughter, Lord.  Hold her close.  Protect her and direct her as only You can.  Thank you for choosing me to be her momma.  It is an honor and privilege that even now brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Re-Learning to be a Stay At Home Mom

(Photo credits go to Joshua.  He's practicing taking selfies for when he gets a phone. Yep. Really.)

When Krissy was born I had NO desire to EVER be a stay at home mom.  Ever.  Perhaps the greatest surprise of our marriage came the day I told Chad that rather than apply for teaching jobs after I graduated magna cum laude from college, I thought I should stay at home with Krissy for a year.  After all, I reasoned, if I went to work for a year we would change our spending habits and my chance to try motherhood as a profession would be gone forever.  He agreed, with the added idea that we have our second child during my year at home.

My first year as a stay at home mom was HARD!  Not because I didn't enjoy being with the kids - but because I struggled to see myself as important.  I had long measured my personal worth by measurable achievements - grades, pay checks, promotions, words of affirmation.  As a stay at home mom those measurable achievements are not very evident.  That was hard on me.

Finally Chad encouraged me to get a job.  He told me that since I obviously did not feel good about being home with the kids, I should work. He said he knew I did many important things throughout the day, but if I could not recognize that then working might be a good idea.  All he wanted was for me to feel good about myself.

That was a life-changing conversation for me.  It freed me in so many ways to just be me.  And who I have always been called to be was a mom.

During my tenure as a stay at home mom I almost always had some sort of paying job or another.  Sometimes I had two.  But always, always my "other jobs" allowed my main focus to be my mommy job.  For me that is ideal.

During the past three years though, I have functioned as a full time working mom. Being a full time working girl changed everything. I sent Joshua to day care - which to me was terribly, horribly difficult.  I do see how God used that experience to grow my son, but in complete honesty, if I had those years to live over again AND I had the financial option to be home more, I would never, ever send him to day care as much as he was sent.  I truly believe that Joshua did not suffer (with the exception of his first day care placement which was TERRIBLE); however, I can not say the same for me.

Although I never got accustomed to sending my child to day care, I did get used to rushing all the time.  I got used to having time away from the chatter and needs of my children.  Sure, I was in an office and constantly needed - but being needed as a professional is much different than as a mom.  I got used to buying groceries in a crazy rush - alone.  I got used to feeling guilty all the time.  I got used to my brain being too full of "to do's" to really listen to anyone.  I got used to being tired and overwhelmed all the time.  I got used to being able to get more things done in a day than should be humanly possible.  In my own way, I learned to balance it all.  We made it work.

After Mataya was born, I felt like I was on vacation.  I was SO very happy to be home - but I never let ,y guard down.  I thought I was heading back to both jobs, so although I rested and enjoyed my time at home with our baby girl, I never let my brain fully relax.  It was busy with plans for how we would manage once I went back to work.  

About two weeks before I was due back at my job, some things happened and Chad and I decided it would be best for everyone if I did not return to my job.  At first that decision was just plain old stressful.  Was it really wisest?  What if... and what if... and what if...

However three weeks later, it is just so sweet!  I feel myself and our whole household decompressing.  My brain is finally slowing down.  When the kids talk I can totally focus on what they say.  I ask fewer questions because I actually remember what they tell me.  When Chad calls, I can actually listen to the details he is sharing about his day.  Some days I jump on the trampoline!  I have had coffee with friends. The kids have friends over all the time - and it is not stressful to me.  I do not feel like I am always running behind, always failing just a little bit.  If I do not have my entire house clean by the time I go to bed on Sunday night, I am not in a panic.  I will be able to clean Monday.  I have time to lay on the floor and giggle with Mataya.  I force Joshua's focus off the stinkin' TV, and talk him into reading books. . .  and he likes it!  I make lunch.  I get to greet Jamison after XC practice and hear about his run.  I am learning to snap chat via my teens (and I really stink at it).  When Chad takes a nap many nights after dinner, I think it's cute.  I drive Sierra to practice and enjoy the time I have with her in the car.  Some days, I even get to go for a run.

Nineteen years into mothering, the transition to being a stay at home mom once again has felt like coming home.  It feels like I am able to be who God created me to be.  It feels like finally fitting into my favorite jeans once again  (at least I think this is what that will feel like - LOL!).

That does not mean my life is stress free.  I get way less sleep than is advisable - but if I get up really early I can get all my book work for Chad's company done before the kids wake up.  I have three teenagers, one who plans to move out very, very soon - need I say more.  There is always an errand to run, which means I must wake up the sleeping baby all the time and that breaks every mom rule in the book!  Juggling it all is still crazy - but this juggling is what I was created to do.  I am thriving rather than surviving, and it feels wonderful.

And for the record, although the last three years have been my most stressful ever, I do not regret them.  My tenure at our church helped make our church's partnership with CHC possible.  Working with CHC in Ethiopia represents a personal dream of mine.  I am so very thankful that God has given that dream wings.  Also without my job, Mataya would probably not be here.  We have not had maternity insurance for years, but my insurance through the church made having another baby possible.  And she is, without a doubt, the most amazing "bonus" I could ever, ever ask for!

This Fall, Mataya and I will transition back into office life.  Once Chad has moved his business to our new location, Mataya and I will spend three days a week at the office.  I'm sure that will make life a bit crazier, however, it will be far less crazy than the 2 job juggle I have been doing for the past several years!

This summer is a gift.  I feel like my soul is awakening.  I feel free to be me.

Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

May you, my children, be Filled to the Measure of all the fullness of God.

For the past month, I have been stuck one a Bible passage.  Every time I sit down with my Bible, I start here

"In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you (Krissy, Jamison, Sierra, Brenna, Joshua, and Mataya) with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts (Krissy, Jamison, Sierra, Brenna, Joshua, and Mataya) through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -  that you (Krissy, Jamison, Sierra, Brenna, Joshua, and Mataya) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Ephesians 3: 12, 16-19

This passage has become a deep, constant prayer for my kids.

More than anything else, I want them to have Christ dwelling in their hearts through faith.

I want them to be rooted and established in love.

I want them to know how much He loves them.


In every situation.

No matter what.

I SO want them to that His love surpasses everything.

I want them to be filled. . . filled to the measure of the fullness of their God.

If they are rooted and established in Him, if they are filled with Him, they will be successful.


If they are filled by Him. . . to the measure of fullness only He can grant. . . all striving, all seeking, all searching will cease.

The very hardest parenting I have done thus far is happening right now.  Right now, my oldest children are fighting to understand who they are.  For themselves.  Not for me.  Not who I want/expect them to be - but who they will choose to be all on their own.  They are searching.  They are trying to figure it out.  They try on many different attitudes, friendships, habits. . . searching for what feels right for them.

Some choices bring me worry.

Some bring me pain.

Some bring me joy.

Some bring me gratitude.

Some bring me hope.

However, this time is NOT about me.  In many ways I have done all I can.  I have said all I can say.  I have planted every seed I have known to plant.  (Yes, they will always need me.  I will always be a voice in their life.  But the parenting of the past, the training, shaping, consequences and rewards, are coming to an end with my oldest children.  It is a time of letting go and praying they will soar.)

I am not comfortable with this form of parenting.  It is new and hard and so very uncomfortable.  I want to force them to STOP when I see them making choices that will leave scars.  I want to save them from the pain I can see coming.  I want to. . .

I am learning.  I am growing.  I am trying.  I am seeking.  I mess up all. the. time.  I say too much.  I get angry, hurt, afraid.  Letting go of my precious ones is the hardest thing ever.

One of my lessons in this time is just how much God loves us.  I stand in awe of Him.  He has given us free will.  That was the craziest thing ever.  He knows how miserable we will make ourselves.  He knows we will dishonor Him, Him who created us and loves us more than we can ever comprehend.  He knows how many crummy decisions we will make.  He knows our behavior will disappoint Him - but He lets us go, choose.  And every minute of every day He is there to love us, to listen, to scoop us up and wipe away our tears.  He always, always loves.  He always, always forgives.  He always, always takes us back.  And then He lets us go off again, fully realizing just how stupid we will be.

I want to love like He loves.

And I am trying. . . but I really stink at it.  (Sigh.)

What I am good at is hitting my knees and praying, seeking our Savior, again and again and again and again.

He is the only One who sustains.

The only One.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Many Faces of Mataya Hope at 3 Months!

She is pure sweetness.

Love you SO much little one.
Love you sooooo much!

3 Months Old

Mataya Hope is 3 months old today!

She is a sweet, sweet, sweet, and very content baby.
For a while this month Mataya decided that she HATED her bath.  She rarely cries, but she SCREAMED throughout her bath. . .until I bought her this bath chair/hammock.  Now she LOVES, LOVES bath time once again.  She kicks and smiles and coos.

She is so very expressive.  She loves to "talk"  and when she is really excited her eyes get HUGE like in the picture above.
 Although I like to think I am her number one (smile), Mataya loves her daddy.

She also loves to sit with her back to our knees, like above, and "chat."  She response with lots of coos, squeals, and smiles to every phrase we say.  It is so fun!
 Look at her look at him. . . they make me melt!

Chad is so very good with Mataya.  Although he adored all of our babies, outside of Krissy, he has left most of the baby care to me.  He always felt like the big kids needed his attention and I needed his help, so I would keep the baby and he would entertain the older kids.  With the age gap between Joshua and Mataya being 6.5 years, our older kids are not the same kind of needy as they have been when we have had infants in the past giving daddy the opportunity to soak in some baby time.  He still leaves the dirty jobs to me (like bath, diapers, and early morning feedings) but he has spent more time playing with and cuddling Mataya than he has been able to with many of our other babies.  It is really special.
 I'd love to know what she is thinking!  Because she did not cry, my guess is she was thinking something similar to "Really Dad?"
 This photo cracks me up!  It had been a loooong week  - Chad and Mataya were fast asleep by 6 pm last Friday night.
Just after I took this picture, Mataya giggled for the first time!
I was talking and playing with her and as I crawled my fingers across her tummy she giggled! 
 Mataya has discovered herself in the mirror. . .
or maybe she has discovered a baby in the mirror?
Either way, she likes to gaze at her reflection while riding in her carseat.

We can certainly tell that she can see farther and farther.  She interacts with us from across a small room now.
 Mataya also loves new toys.
Just today, Joshua put together this mobile for her.
She is thrilled with it - kicking and cooing as it rotates above her.
Joshua was thrilled with her appreciation of his hard work!

The only form of play Mataya does NOT like is tummy time!
She does love to read books, play under her floor gym, kick in the bouncy chair, swing, and rides in the stroller. 
 I think this photo accurately describes Mataya at 3 months.  She is just so very joyful and sweet.
(Plus you can see her sweet curls! She has the most precious hair!)

One other change this month is that Mataya only looks like Mataya.  Although there are some characteristics of all of us in her look, she is truly an individual.  I LOVE that!  Our babies have each had their own look and personality.  I have NO problem identifying them in baby pictures, each one is totally unique.
 The only bummer about the last month is that I quit nursing.  Unfortunately, Mataya was not gaining weight well while nursing.  She loved, loved snuggling close to mom - but she preferred to doze over really eating.  After trying EVERYTHING anyone recommended, I finally listened to my pediatrician and switched to formula.  This was HARD for me.  In all honesty I am still sad - but I can also see that she is doing better on formula.  She gained a pound the first week alone.

Even on formula, Mataya is not the easiest baby to feed.  She wants to eat ONLY when she is good and ready.  If I try to feed her even 15 minutes early she REFUSES.  She has a mind of her own and is not overly interested in food.  

She has decided that a pacifier is great when she is falling asleep though.  Which means the new "game" around our house is called "find the paci."
 We are still rocking Mataya to sleep - partially because she is still so young and partially because I adore it.  She is the sweetest little snuggler.  She loves, loves, loves to be cuddled close.  However, she does NOT like to be swaddled anymore.  Last Wednesday, when I swaddled her for bed, she "escaped" almost immediately.  Her Daddy thought it was hilarious.  "No more turning my baby into a burrito!" was his comment. 

We do (almost always) lay her down to nap in her crib.  When the kids first began their summer vacation she really struggled to nap with the extra noise all around, but we added a sound machine to her room and she is now sleeping better.

Her sleep pattern varies daily.  She prefers a cat nap between each feeding - but I am experimenting with keeping her up sometimes and trying to get her to take  longer naps during the morning and the afternoon.  This is having limited success, in part because depending on the kids' activities she often ends up napping in her carseat.  The only true routine is bedtime.  After a bath, she has her final bottle at 9 pm.  We then rock an snuggle until about 10:30 pm.  She still sleeps at night in rock and play next to my bed.  She sleeps until 5 am!!! At 5 she wants a bottle and then usually goes back to sleep until nearly 9 am.  I do my very best to get all the work I do for Chad done during these early morning hours so that I can focus on family stuff the rest of the day.

I am a little concerned about driving with Mataya after the kids go back to school in the fall.  She is VERY used to a high level of  service when she is in her carseat.  Joshua makes sure she is never "lonely" or wishing for her paci.  He is just so very sweet with her, especially in the car.

Mataya Hope, you are such a precious gift.  I will never be able to put into words just how thankful I am for your arrival.  I simply adore you.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

She's the Icing on My Cake

Although I chose to resign from my job for reasons outside of Mataya's birth, she is MOST CERTAINLY the icing on my cake! 

On Tuesday, Mataya Hope was 12 weeks old.  Had things gone as planned, she would have started day care on that day.  While I was comfortable with the child care arrangements we had made, I am also thrilled that we will not be needing them.  

The kids all agree.  We went out for dinner on Tuesday night to celebrate my under-employment.  When I told them it was supposed to be Mataya's first day at day care, they unanimously agreed that snuggled up with momma is a much better spot for her.  Jamison is the one who appears least worried about our little lady and he said, "Woah!  Already?  She's way too little!"  (Sometimes the importance of my kids supporting my decisions surprises me.  Their simple words of affirmation made me feel so good.)

I often say that contracting is a lot like farming. . . when it is good, it is really good - but when it's not good, it is really not good!  I have no idea how long I will be able to work only for Chad.  It may be forever or it may be just six months.  I am tempted to worry about what I will do next, and then she smiles her crazy joyful, full-body smile and I remember that today is enough.  Today I have the honor of being with her each and every moment.  Instead of worrying about what life will be like in six months, I am choosing to rejoice in today knowing that God will always take care of our tomorrows.

FYI - I am thrilled to be home with ALL of my kids.  The benefit is not just for the baby; however since she is the only one who would have been shipped off to day care this summer, the benefit seems largest with her.  Being home to hang with our older kids is beyond priceless as well.  I adore being home as they roll out of bed each morning.  I love hearing their stories throughout the day.  I am so thankful that we can have their friends here all the time, and I am never left wondering what is going on at my house while I am away.  I love being able to get them to their activities with so much less stress.  I love the much more relaxed feeling that permeates out home these days.  Having the time to savor motherhood is a gift.  I am very grateful for this time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Life is filled with transitions.


And yet sometimes there are more changes than others.

Right now, our home is abounding in transitions.

Krissy is done with high school.  We are all trying to figure out how to navigate this new season with three adults living in our home.

All the kids are home for the summer.  That means all sorts of activity. . . at all hours.

Brenna is headed to middle school next year.

Joshua will begin elementary.

Sierra transitions to high school.

All of the older kids are dating.

We have sold our current shop/office for our company.  We have purchased a new building - which needs a complete remodel.  In the next months that move will begin.  Because it is currently not fit for use, officing will take place at home for a time.

Mataya changes every minute.  As soon as I have one schedule figured out. . . it changes.

And - I quit my job at our church.

Processing all of these changes is exhausting.  Trying to mentally prepare for the changes each family member is going through takes a ton of focus.  Giving each of the kids the "right" combination of freedom and boundaries is challenging to say the least!  Prayerfully considering how to best use my time now that I am "under-employed" (as Chad calls it) has become my focus.

At the moment our life is a whirl-wind.  Almost everything feels unsettled, while at the same time things feel perfectly perfect.  Being home so much and available to listen to our kids is such a blessing.  Slowing down, refusing to rush, thinking more and deciding less, listening more and speaking less is healing a part of my soul that I did not even realize was broken.

There is much on my heart.  As I sift through it and as I discover a new rhythm, I hope to write again.  Writing is a release to me, a long slow sigh of sorts, and I miss it.  At the same time, I am peaceful.  In fact, I am more peaceful than I have been in a long time.  I am learning that God gives me time for everything He wants me to do.  In Him, I am enough.  I am learning to be thankful for the moments, to let go of my agenda and grasp the opportunities that each day gives - whether they were on my to-do list or not.

So far, this summer is NOTHING like I had expected it to be.

I am so thankful to serve a Savior whose plan is always better than anything I could imagine.