Dear Ellie …

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Today is your birthday.  It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been four years since we met … I remember your birth so vividly!  There were two doctors in the room with us.  Your dad had his head by mine – I could hear him praying in my ear.  He glanced up seconds later and the room was filled with more than a dozen people – all of them prepared for your birth to be as crazy-difficult-traumatic as your brother’s.  But with three pushes you were here – no drama, no life-saving techniques or machines needed.  You were placed on my chest, I kissed your red, splotchy face, and my heart was full.

You’ve changed a lot in the past four years.  Obviously, you can walk and talk and feed yourself, and you go to the bathroom on the toilet most of the time.  This past year, though, in particular, you’ve become fiercely independent:  You want to do everything by yourself, from pouring your breakfast cereal to brushing your hair to zipping up your winter jacket.  You’ve gone from following your brother’s every move, obeying his every beck and call, to telling him no every now and then.  Sometimes you take charge when you play together, building forts and obstacle courses and tents for your toys.  While I miss the days you called balls “gollys” and dogs “gogs”, I’m glad you’re becoming your own person!

Because I think you’re pretty amazing.  Even at the age of four, I can see great things in you!

You’re kind and compassionate.  You love others – “I love everybody in the whole world!” you frequently tell me.  I was so proud of you earlier this year when you noticed one little girl in your class who didn’t have any friends.  She’s so shy that she doesn’t even speak to your teachers, she only smiles.  But you made it your goal to become her friend – drawing pictures to give her, sharing your toys, inviting her to sit with you – and now you’re best friends!  She scrambles over the other kids to sit next to you at rug time and even though I have yet to hear her voice, she always makes sure you see her wave good-bye at the end of the day.

You’re persistent.  You don’t give up.  I’ve seen you stand at the parallel bar for ten minutes before your coach is able to help you – and you keep trying, over and over and over again, to pull your feet up between your hands into a tuck position.  And when you finally do it, your grin covers your entire face!

You’re organized.  Sometimes to an extreme– you line up all 47 of your ”pups” at least six times a day, then move them all over the house – in order! – and eventually back to your room, where you put them to bed for the night.  We’ve learned to start your bedtime routine 45 minutes earlier than your brother’s just so your pups can be tucked in in time!

You love to be the center of attention.  You’re always saying “Look at me, Mommy!  Look at this trick!”  Sometimes it’s a gymnastics trick – a somersault or a dog tail or a stork stand.  Sometimes it’s slurping up half a cup of juice with one pull on your curvy straw.  Whatever it is, you’re always so proud of yourself!

You also love to make people smile.  When someone is sad or hurt or sick, you’re the first to rush in, arms open, ready to offer a comforting hug.  When I’m not feeling well you bring me books, hug me and kiss me, and crawl under the covers to keep me company.

You’re helpful.  You’re always under my feet when I’m doing chores around the house.  “What can I do Mommy?  Can I help?  What’s my chore?” And (unlike your brother!) you never, ever ask for payment!

You’re an artist.  You can spend hours sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of white paper and crayons, drawing cats, dogs, dinosaurs, spiders, suns, and your latest favourite:  traffic lights.

I hope you don’t outgrow any of these things as you get older.

I hope you don’t forget about them.

I hope I don’t forget about them!

It’s my job as your mother to love you, to nurture you, to support you – to help you develop roots, but eventually watch you take wing and fly.

That thought terrifies me!

I pray for you every day, sweet girl.  I always have and I always will.

You’re growing up in a very different world – in a very different time! – than I did.

I pray for you to be strong.

I pray for you to be courageous.

I pray for you to be kind and compassionate, and to love others.

I pray for you to have a servant’s heart.

I pray for you to stay creative, and to pursue your passions.

But above all, I pray that God, “from his glorious, unlimited resources … will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  (Ephesians 3:16-19 – NLT)

I love you Elliebelle!

Happy birthday!

xoxo

Mama

Beauty for Ashes


Beauty for Ashes

Maybe it’s just me, but in my experience beauty goes hand in hand with pain. You can’t have one without the other.

Today I’m sharing a story of how God created beauty from ashes:

“Three years ago we bought our son an adorable little t-shirt: “Big Brother Team Captain”, it said. He wore it to Grandma and Grandpa’s house that evening – he was so excited to share the big secret he had been keeping.

My husband’s parents were ecstatic – they had been waiting for a second grandchild since the day our son was born!

Then I started bleeding.  Just a little spotting, at first.

Then more … ”

Read the rest at Anchored Voices.

Amy

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“Do you see her?  That girl, the one with the long blonde hair in a ponytail?  That’s who I am.  That’s what I look like.”  I was playing pretend with my sister, and of course I wanted to look different.  Short and thin with mousey brown hair and enormous pink glasses wasn’t who I wanted to be – in real life, or pretend.  Most days I wanted to be tall, thin, and blonde, with my hair pulled back into a bouncy ponytail or a long braid.  Sometimes I would even go the extra mile and put a pair of pantyhose on my head to get the desired effect of long hair!

For whatever reason, I thought that if I looked different, I was different.  As silly as it sounds, pantyhose on my head made me stand taller, be more bold, and act more confident.  When the game ended I went back to being regular old Holly, shy and quiet, afraid of making mistakes.

Not a lot has changed since those days.

Some days I’m happy with who I am:  A wife and mother, writer and business owner.  I have a loving husband and two amazing children. I’m happy with who I am and who where I am.

But then I see Amy, and nothing in my world seems good enough.

I’m not good enough.

* * *

See, Amy is everything I’m not.

She has three children under the age of five, but somehow she never looks less than amazing.  Her Pinterest boards are full of hairstyles and outfit combinations she clearly has the time to try.  Her girls are always dressed beautifully – and fashionably! – with their soft, untangled curls pulled back into perfect, complicated braids.  Her son doesn’t have any unruly cowlicks or dirt under his fingernails. Her children are always spotless and unwrinkled, and they are unfailingly polite.

Amy is never harried, never frantic, and never out of breath.

She’s a stay at home mom just like me, but she runs a direct from home sales business that makes enough money for her and her husband to escape on tropical vacations a couple of times each year.

And she homeschools.

* * *

On the outside, Amy looks like she has it all, and she has it all together – but does she really?

Do any of us?  

Or are we all just wearing pantyhose on our heads, trying to be something we’re not?

* * *

Sometimes I think that if I could be anyone in the entire world, I would be Amy.

But God didn’t make me Amy, he made me me.

Sometimes I wonder why he made me the way he did. Why do I have to be so short? Why doesn’t my hair cooperate when I try anything other than a simple ponytail? Why can’t I be more stylish? More outgoing? More easygoing? More confident?

Why can’t I be anybody but me?

Then I remember that God made “all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13, NLT) He made me short and thin, he made my mousey brown hair, he made the eyes that require enormous glasses. He created me, he knows me – and all of my insecurities.

I am a daughter of the King, and that is enough.

I am enough.

And so are you.

Enough

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Ever since I stopped working I’ve struggled with being enough.

I feel like such a hypocrite writing that, since it wasn’t that long ago that I shared this post about my decision to be a stay at home mom – but I want to be honest in this space, so there it is.

I have spent weeks trying to figure out how to make more, do more, and be more.

I explored work at home opportunities.  I researched ways to monetize a blog (ugh!).  I even debated whether or not to become some sort of direct sales consultant (Jamberry, perhaps?)

Then I decided that maybe I would feel better if I did more, so I cleaned our entire house from top to bottom, purging and reorganizing, doing minor repairs, washing walls and windows.

That didn’t help (well – maybe it did a little.  I do love a clean house!) so I volunteered to teach Topher’s Sunday school class.  I’m still debating whether or not to coach his soccer team.

I’ve been writing (and writing and writing and writing!) – building my portfolio and enjoying every second of it –

But nothing I do feels like enough, and I have no idea why I constantly feel like I should be doing something more.

Sometimes I forget how valuable it is that I’m able to be at home for my family right now.

I forget how important it is that I’m available to drive Topher to school – a good school, in a different neighbourhood.  I’m free to volunteer in his class or on field trips if that’s what I want to do.

I forget how important it is that I spend my mornings with Ellie.  Of course most of that time is spent driving her Paw Patrol pups from one room to another, or zipping them down the waterside into her Barbie pool – but we have lots of fun no matter what we’re doing!

I forget how important it is that I’m able to cook for my family every single day – and that we’re able to sit down at the table and eat as a family, without me skipping out early to start work in my corner-of-the-kitchen office.

I forget how important it is that I can coach Topher’s soccer team, if I want to.  Last year I had to book those days off – and almost missed one game because it got switched to a different day.

And I forget how important it is that I read the kids their bedtime stories and tuck them in at the end of the day, after two years of relinquishing the task to my husband.

Why do I need to remind myself what a privilege this is?

This is exactly where I want to be …

And being here is okay.

Joy in the Ordinary

Today I’m over at A Little Light – an online network for Canadian Christian women – sharing my story about how I find joy in the ordinary.

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Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen while my children played at the table.  I had brought the Christmas boxes in from the storage room and the first thing I unpacked was our nativity scene.  They immediately got to work setting it up, lining up the fences, arranging the animals just so, and moving Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus inside the stable to keep warm.  My two-year-old daughter placed the angel in its spot on the roof of the stable, pressing the button so the sound of joyful music filled the room. 

These are the moments I miss when I am busy.  

And Christmas is a very, very, VERY busy time for my little family …. 

Continue reading here.