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Caroline

Mamahood

4 Truths I’m Living by in this Crazy Season of Mamahood

January 26, 2018

“I can’t believe I said kids,” I told my husband this past weekend about a conversation I had the evening prior. As I recounted it all to him, I found myself catching up on the reality of my own life. While some moments it feels so natural and normal that we are parents of two littles, others I am left totally amazed by it.

The best word I can put to the last two months of adjusting to our new normal is that it’s been wild. Certain things have been much easier this time around – sleep deprivation isn’t as shocking and we’re not as worried by about each moan and groan our newborn makes. But having to juggle our toddler’s needs and transition on top of the typical newborn demands make for its own challenges.

In my current state of joy-meets-survival, I’ve been running over in my mind specific truths that are keeping me not only sane but actually living, breathing and enjoying the crazy of today. So in case you too are in a pressing, demanding, or overwhelming season, here are my four go-tos I’m reiterating to myself these days.

 

1. Grace, Grace, Grace…

…Because you and I can never extend ourselves enough grace. This has by far been one of the biggest lessons I’m learning as a mom, specifically to tap into the well of grace for myself. To drink and live from it. No one else can make me do this. Instead I must choose to extend myself the grace to live in the present and there be just as I am.

What I mean by that is that if you are weepy today, it’s okay to love and serve and live from that place. Don’t be concerned with “pulling yourself together,” but instead be as you are. Be your own offering of grace. Whisper to and remind yourself that you are doing your best and whatever that is today, it’s enough. Some days that won’t feel like much and even still, allow yourself to breathe and be as you are.

A lot changes in a day, a conversation, or an instance when we extend to ourselves the opportunity to be enough as we are.

2. It’s all a season.

At times these words bring me great comfort. As I’m currently going on 8 weeks of waking up multiple times in the night, this truth is like a gift I cannot wait to open. This will end, I remind my tired self each morning, and you will one day sleep more than 3 hours stretches again. Thank you God.

But these words are also a difficult reality to embrace because, though they are comforting, they carry the story that nothing stays as it is. As my eyes scan between my newborn and my toddler, I am deeply aware of the rapid passage of time. In a blink of an eye it all changes, and often unnoticed. I don’t remember the last time Eloise called Mark “Dada” or that her go-to was crawling. The changing was sudden, but so subtle too.

So reminding myself that this is a season allows me to access the patience and joy to live well whatever is right now, and there be present in it.

3. This is your story, so write it.

When Eloise was only eight months old I took her to a conference on faith and revival happening near us. It was three days of just the two of us. Nothing was easy about it, but I had purposed that this was important to me as her mom. It wasn’t a decision directed by someone else’s advice, which can feel like most of mamahood. Instead it was fueled by my personal desire to bring her with me into an atmosphere that would awaken her spirit.

What came out of that conference was unbelievable moments. I watched as she was blessed by one of my great heroes, prophesied by strangers about the woman she would grow into, and participated in what God was doing in the room in her eight-month-old way. It was one of the most empowering times I’ve had as a mom because it had to do with me actively partnering with God in writing the story of her life and our family.

And the unbelievable gift is that we can partake in writing that story. To make decisions that align with the desires we carry for ourselves, our families, and our futures. And so to honor the whisper we hear deep within us about who we are becoming.

4. You can always leave the cart.

The first time I ventured out solo with Eloise I texted my friend Erin telling her what I was about to do. At the time I was slightly terrified about what might happen out in public. I wondered how I would handle her screaming in the cereal aisle, or worse yet in the middle of us checking out. My mind ran through every possible scenario that could take place, all in which things went vastly awry.

But then Erin wrote back words I have never forgotten: just remember you can always leave the cart.

I read over them and couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought about that before. What Erin was suggesting was that if it didn’t work out this time, it didn’t matter. I didn’t have to force things. I could leave my food, walk out of the store with my baby, and try again another day. Things didn’t have to go a certain way for me to deem it a success.

Because the cart isn’t important and the food doesn’t matter.

I have often reminded myself of Erin’s words because of how freeing I found them to be. She reminded me to keep focused on what was important and not stress about what I couldn’t control. No matter how that excursion panned out, it was all good. Why? Because I was moving outside my comfort (and control) zone and actively participating in the story being written that day. And ultimately I’m pretty sure that’s what makes life fun and allows us to enjoy our present reality even when life is full-on crazy.

Life

Let’s Play Catch-Up

January 11, 2018

Well, after 18 months I am back.

I never intended to take such a long hiatus but then, as you know, life happens. Demands pile up. And so many memories are being lived out that it can be tricky to stop and actually write about them.

Last year started out with a resounding word of breakthrough for our family. God was so clear in this, nailing it home for me 3 times in those first 11 days of 2017. But breakthrough is funny because in theory it carries loads of excitement and possibility, but in actuality it means the entrance of unexpected twists, turns, and transitions to nicely laid plans. We shouldn’t be too surprised when upheaval becomes the passageway to breakthrough.

And so came one significant happening after another last year, to the point that I am amazed at how much our circumstances have changed since I last wrote. It’s probably the amount of transition we lived mixed with starting a fresh new year and turning a year older (34 today!) that make me ready to write and create again. Fresh seasons do that for me.

So in an effort to dust off this blog, let’s play a game of catch-up with more writings to come in much less time than the previous one found here.

The biggest news of last year is that our Caden Asher came into this world late November (and quickly, might I add). We are totally in love with his unique mixture of chill and spunk. I remember so clearly on my birthday a year ago looking at Eloise and having this overwhelming sense that everything she adds is life and goodness. All I could see in her was a world-changer and it was in that moment that I became ready to grow our family, to add more life and value to the world around. The transition has been wild and full of all kinds of challenges (more thoughts coming soon), but my mama heart is unbelievably thankful for these two littles.

Another big thing that happened was that I officially graduated from seminary with my Masters in Divinity. It’s a fancy name for what was way more about the journey than that piece of paper at the end. But I have to say, when I held that diploma in my hands in May (which as you can see from the photo was ginormous), it felt amazing. Not because I am now qualified for something special, but because I completed something that was way more difficult than I ever imagined.

Most of our 5 years of marriage I’ve spent in school. In fact it was only 2.5 months in that I signed up for two seminary classes on a whim. By the time I questioned my choice and wondered if I should quit, I was committed. And one thing about me is that, even if it may kill me in the process, I rarely quit when I have purposed to see something through.

As I waited for my name to be called 4.5 years later, I felt like I could collapse, burst into tears, or fall asleep. Thankfully I made it across the stage with my diploma in hand, so clearly sensing the overwhelming pleasure of God. Because really, this crazy season of school was all about partnership with him.

Other exciting things that have happened?

Well, we packed up our life in Orlando, I said goodbye to an unbelievable community of moms who I had done life with day-in and day-out, and we moved back to Atlanta. It’s hard to put into words all the reasons why because ultimately it was God’s whisper we heard above all the practicalities, to-dos, and common sense of the matter. We sensed his leading, so we followed.

And finally, one exciting creative project for me is that I wrote my first book. It’s been a dream of mine for a decade and this summer I actually put those words down on paper. I clearly sensed as I entered my second trimester last summer that it was going to happen then, or it’d be a long time before I’d find space and time again. I just knew it was my season. And little by little it took shape to a completed rough draft, though it’s definitely still in process.

One reason I wanted to share about my book is because it’s my goal to get it released this year in tangible form. I want to hold it. I want others to hold it. And I want to contribute an offering of hope and promise for those stuck in the middle of life’s waiting. So I’d say this is my commitment made public that this will happen, because sometimes the best way to keep moving forward in a dream is to tell others exactly what that dream is.

But the other reason I share is because I’m guessing you, like me, may have come into this year with some half-finished or barely-started dreams from 2017. And in case you think you need to start afresh on everything, instead you can take those things, as imperfect or incomplete as you may deem them to be, and keep journeying with them. I think some of the boldest resolutions are the ones where we purpose to keep going with that dream, to keep believing for it and working towards it and holding it closely because we’re not willing to give up on ourselves.

I’m guessing that’s probably enough for your Thursday, but I’ll be back soon and I can’t wait to share more.

Faith

The Cost of Revelation

May 16, 2016

Last week I submitted a giant paper – 39 pages in total. In high school 4 pages felt like an eternal task to overcome. But somehow I sent in that thing and it felt so good. So good.

So what did I write on?

Well, a whole 3 verses.

It sounds crazy to imagine writing so much on so little, but it’s easier than you might think. The minute I started reading over those verses, reciting and hearing myself speak them, opening books and pulling back the veil on the words, a world opened of connection, meaning and understanding.

Out it came, 3 verses, 4 months, 39 pages and more hours than I could ever count.

Not only was I up before dawn most days to squeeze in some writing before the first peep came from the nursery above, but so many others made this possible. At the beginning of the semester Mark and I assessed what needed to get done for my school along with his work (and our move) and looked at each other knowing we literally could not do this without help. That’s the thing about parenthood – it will get you so dependent on community that no matter what your feelings are prior to kiddos, the minute you have a little one you will need the help of others.

So the paper was made possible by our village. Friends took Eloise for an afternoon when we had no coverage. Family flew down for a weekend while I flew up to school. Others housed and fed me while I was away. And still another drove hours one evening to give me a big hug after a weekend of Hebrew (and a long month of moving).

Those verses demanded more than I was ever prepared to give. So when I pushed submit I was in total shock. I couldn’t believe it. My eyes were red and blurry from staring at the computer for so long, my hair hadn’t been washed in days, and my clothes were on repeat for the nth time that week.

But I was done.

I sat back, exhaled a huge sigh of relief and took a moment to let it soak in. There it hit me.

Revelation comes by hard work. And it will always cost.

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We think (hope) revelation has to do with luck. We bank on hitting the jackpot on some beautiful secret of the Kingdom that will provide understanding and intimacy and knowledge of God.

It’s easy to sit in church, at a conference, or listen to a podcast and hear some speaker release this incredible word of insight about God’s Kingdom. They may teach on a scripture we’ve heard for years, but something is so fresh. We’ve never heard it like that before. We leave hungry for more with excitement high and wonder if maybe we can grab hold of some nugget of truth with the same ease as when they taught it.

But not long after, we’re as dried up, burned out, and weary as ever.

Why? Two reasons.

1. We’re camping out in the false land that says the secrets of the Kingdom come by ease, quickness, or luck. They don’t. They never will.

2. We’ve feasted on the revelation of another as if it were our own. We stopped going to the source, willing to trade true nourishment for the quick fix of another’s treasure.

But the truth is that revelation has everything to do with cultivation, hard work, and blistered up hands from digging into the ground ourselves. The words of great anointing that set people free and release the Spirit of God are always anchored in stories of wrestling and struggling and plain old-fashioned hard work.

We say we want to know God more, to understand the greater depths of the Kingdom and to release something fresh upon this earth. But the question is, how much will we let it cost?

Revelation bears the price of life experience and it demands hard work. We can never carry or release a word we have not lived. Knowing God requires patience, seasons of obscurity, struggle or heartache, and a willingness to work hard for our own bread.

The only way to satisfy our hunger to know God is to dig into it for ourselves so we reap what will truly nourish the weary parts of us. There is no shortcut.

Life

Funny Unmet Expectations of Mamahood

March 11, 2016

Expectations are funny because they’re rarely met. It’s pretty safe to say the more you’re expecting something to go a certain way the more you can prepare that it likely won’t. Because how we envision things rarely (ever?) happen as we think. So we must learn to laugh. Laughing is good. I’m doing a lot of laughing in mamahood.

Since my current life remains a crazy swirl of packing and goodbyeing (and schooling and mothering and all the other roles), I figured today I’d laugh about some unmet expectations. Because there are many and thinking back to my pregnancy season and the first few months of mamahood has been funny.

So here are three stories about things not going as expected.

First, below you will see the pretty picture of our pristine white crib. I took this photo just weeks before Eloise was born. While I had surrendered to the fact that I wouldn’t have an official nursery, I did have a crib! And I was one proud wifey the night Mark put that crib together. I watched with glowing pregnant-mama eyes dreaming about the day I’d bring our little babe home and place her into it. Just the next day I carefully picked out the sweet sheets to go on it, laid out those dreft-smelling swaddles, and snapped this photo.

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The current reality is that Eloise is 4.5 months old and has yet to sleep in her crib once. In fact, as I write this her crib is upside down in a corner of our living room waiting to be dismantled by Mark once he gets over the fact that he will have to take apart the whole thing before she ever sleeps one night in it. Expectation of beautiful crib life straight off Pinterest definitely not met.

I also remember being so excited for newborn photos to be taken just after she was born, with all her wrinkles in full site and the falsity of a sleeping, peaceful baby beautifully framed forever. I imagined holding onto this photo as a keepsake for years to come, pulling it out to one day show Eloise of her little peaceful self captured in all its sweetness.

Real life told a different story. The day we were discharged from the hospital was the day the photographer came knocking at our door to take pictures. No one tells you that your room is a revolving door of doctors and nurses for the 48 hours you are in the hospital. Or that there is absolutely no consoling a hungry baby. Or that in your exhaustion you will likely have no idea who is before you, why they are there, or what they even want from you. But there the woman was, camera in hand ready to snap some pics. But there was also a hungry baby and deliriously tired parents. And that combo made for pictures like none other.

Here you have it, our very first newborn photo forever captured.

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And then there was the fact that somehow I never considered my own recovery after having Eloise. I didn’t have complications with her birth, so I somehow thought I would instantly bounce back to normal life. I think in reality, I had no clue the level of ibuprofen I was being dished out every few hours at the hospital.

So we came home and the next morning the weather was beautiful and I was ready to get outside. I had been home from the hospital for about 24 hours and hadn’t taken any meds, so I popped 1 measly ibuprofen and told my mom and Mark that we should go for a walk. So we tucked Eloise in my wrap and headed off.

Within about 10 steps, I noticed my mom and Mark walking way faster than I was comfortable with. I asked them to slow it on down and we continued forward. I had in my mind that we would walk a nice leisurely 1 mile. Instead we went the half block of our condo complex (50 yards?) and headed home.

I didn’t leave the couch for another 3 days.

Happy Friday, friends. Next time I write, it’s from our new home in FLORIDA!

Life

Sometimes We Simply Go

March 7, 2016

Mark and I have been packing machines this past week with our season in Atlanta quickly coming to a close. As I pull things down from the walls and stuff them to the brim into boxes, I find myself wondering what in the world is happening. On one hand, I know in that deep place that this is what’s next. But such knowledge doesn’t keep my tears from falling or questions from coming.

In this waiting place, I can easily spin. I look around at everything that must be put somewhere and am anxious to just get it done, thinking if I do it all then somehow the overwhelming emotions that come with this transition will dissolve. But in reality, all the boxes packed in the world will not displace the tension I feel.

We’ve felt the nudge of transition for a while, knowing that the time for a change was approaching. We weren’t necessarily attached to a specific plan of where we wanted to go. Instead we had a 5-card hand of options, each with its picture of what life could be. They were all appealing in their own way.

But this one, we never saw it coming.

I’ve vacillated between excitement and terror over the move. When we first found out, I couldn’t wait to FaceTime one of my best friends and tell her we were moving a mere 45 minutes away. Her face was total shock. “I didn’t even know Orlando was an option!” she exclaimed.

“Me neither!” I laughed back. That was one of my favorite moments.

But then there’s the side of this that means saying goodbye to a whole life here. Leaving friendships I have done life with for a decade. People who are as close as family. Relationships I never imagined I would hug goodbye and physically move away from.

My smattering of emotions is exhausting, most of all for me.

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So in the spinning, swirling, I-feel-totally-out-of-control place, I keep doing what I know best. I quiet myself. Put on music. Close my eyes. And soak in God’s presence. I let his words be an anchor for my soul and pour fresh life over my weary bones. His whisper blows away my anxiety and calms my craziness. His promises for what awaits ignite me. His presence grounds me.

In the stillness, I listen. And the words remind me again: sometimes, we simply go.

God tells his people at Mount Sinai words I can’t shake. Time and again these last few years these words have charged me to move forward in all kinds of situations that have unfolded. There, at that place where so much life happened for Israel, covenant was made and broken, mess and promise happening together, God tells them that they have stayed there long enough. It is time to get going and move ahead.

Sometimes, we must advance without the plan, guarantee, or comfort as companions. We go despite uncertainties. And declare by our movement that familiarity and safety do not set the boundary lines for our lives.

Here’s the thing. We may get lost. We may even fail. But we still go because we know we will hear a voice, his voice. And that alone makes it worth it. We move forward not because of what will happen for us, but because of who we will encounter. Even when we are terrified or stretched beyond what we can handle, we go so we will find him.

And that’s enough.

As my head spins and my heart overflows with emotion, I remind myself again that we’re going because of the potential that we will find something real in this next season. The counterfeit is not worth the cost, but the real thing – the real God – he is worth everything. To find him is worth laying down our control, our familiarity, our need to sculpt our own life and live by our own plans.

Sometimes we look at what is being asked and say yes because it means one more season of trusting and believing and waiting and hoping. And there, he is always found.

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