A daily...meh, weekly dose of babies, reality, and love.
You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I love reality tv. I do. It's shameful, I'm sure, and most people would probably not admit to such a low-level pleasure, but COME ON. It's addicting to watch 'real life' on screen, scripted or no, because it feeds the obscene voyeuristic side of my personality- the same reason I read mostly non-fiction, the same reason I like to watch my neighbors out my kitchen window while I wash dishes, the same reason I have to delete Instagram off my phone every few weeks or so because I just can't stop looking.

Shameful confessions aside, one of the shows I like best is Master Chef. I'd never watched any cooking shows before this one, and there's this one phrase that they use all the time. I wonder if it's part of every cooking contest, but one thing the contestants aim for is to "elevate their dish." Basically, this means that instead of making macaroni and cheese, you make macaroni and cheese with, say, a truffle sauce. To 'elevate' food is to give it finesse, give it flair, make the flavors new again and make the dish a product of imagination and love. With the right skill set and the right open mind, a good chef can elevate even the most basic of foods.

That idea sticks with me. Not just because I love to cook, and I love to try new dishes. But because the thought that something like a stupid hotdog, in the capable hands of a talented chef, could become a surprising and delicious meal. That's fascinating. And challenging. And pardon my love for a good metaphor, but isn't that the key to living a good life? What can I do to elevate my daily living, to re-imagine its place and reassign its value?

How do I make the basic into the beautiful?

Most religions have some pillar based on this very idea, actually. Buddhists call it utthana-sampada, or working diligently at all you do. Mormons work hard to do good because they are aiming towards their own godhood, attaining deification.
And Christians offer themselves up to a life of being "holy."
Or, the way I learned it, being set apart.

All of these theologies encourage an elevation of the mundane, an understanding that everything matters. Every act, every word, every moment of every day has a meaning with roots deeper than we can see. Some elevate for the sake of understanding, some for the sake of castles in the sky. For me, as a Christian, the reason for elevation isn't a reason at all. It's a calling.

It's not about 'inner peace'. Or karma, or any sort of celestial reward system. For me, learning to sanctify the act of hanging tiny t-shirts in a closet, or nursing my baby, or teaching my daughter to be kind: it's all a matter of re-branding. Re-branding the mundane for the sake of the Holy, for the sake of my soul and my place on this earth as a loved daughter of the King. Elevating that which seems lowly by way of a changed heart, because I know for a fact that all of this matters very, very much.

And while I know this is a short season of my life, this home bound, inward universe of raising my young children, I'm learning a lesson that I couldn't have absorbed anywhere bigger than my house.

It was easy for me to feel gratified in past occupations. It was easy to elevate my day to day activities.
Running an after school program for elementary school kids? Easy to see the purpose, easy to accept the love and thanks of the families we served. Attending college the last 3 years? It was easy to push forward because finishing my degree seemed pertinent, to me and to my future.

I've served coffee at Starbucks, I've directed summer camps, I've worked at churches and insurance offices and even a Japanese karaoke bar in Hawaii. Some of those jobs were draining and some of them were exciting, but every single one of them came with some sort of extrinsic value, like paychecks or community support or free drinks.

But now? Being a mom? It has a different sort of value system. It's more difficult for me to elevate. It takes purposeful heart checks throughout each hour to remember the incredible investments I am making in my family, in my kids and every person they will ever meet.

I miss having a paycheck. Or feedback. But I have to say, there is a sincerity to my every day movements that has not been there before. I think it's the lack of external motivation, the lack of accolades from any sort of public opinion or authority figure, from professors or managers, because it's just me. It's just me and these kids and honestly, they won't even remember most of what goes on during these early years of their development. These days belong to us, to our ins and outs, to our moods, to our small but meaningful accomplishments. These days belong to me and my God, and the act of elevation is a discipline that is at once softening me, and also hardening a core of truth about What Is Holy and What Matters.

I think at some point, we all fight that hollow feeling of What Am I Doing Here? We work at jobs we hate, we are in relationships we don't understand, we forgot what we meant when we started out and everything looks like cold noodles and hot dogs.

We have to elevate.
We have to know that when we are loved so enormously by a God who gives every sparrow a nest and every heart a new mercy with each sunrise, our moments surely matter.

When we sit in a planning meeting.
When our hands are dirty with another day of work.
When we pay our bills at night.
When we feel stuck.
When we fight against the injustice of poverty and yet it never seems to be enough.
When we write into the void.

It matters. More than we could ever know, it all matters.

I'll try to remember that later, when I gather baby Sam in tight while he cries through another night of teething. When he sighs with desperate relief because his mom is near.

Elevating. It's not feigning relevance. It's not inflation or vanity;
it's perception.
it's mindful.
it's the heart of God, one day at a time.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart." - Paul the apostle 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

releasing the gaps.

I was 16 years old before I realized my parents had faults. I mean, maybe I suspected it before then and of course I was rotten to them for years before that but still. It was a shock to me when they became human. I wonder if everyone has that moment, or if comes more gradually for some of us, that moment when our moms and dads shrink a little and the world sort of zeroes in on their inadequacies and suddenly, SUDDENLY nothing can be trusted. If my parents don't know everything, then what the heck does any of this mean? we might ask ourselves in that moment of revelation. There are times I look at my own kids wondering if they aren't just looking right back through me, already aware of my deep, abiding failures as a human being.

A while ago we went to Washington to visit our family. Sam left me and the kids there for the week while he went back home to work. It was the first time I'd ever been away by myself with Clara and Sammy, and each night of our trip was a small battle for a full night's sleep. They couldn't relax, they couldn't get comfortable, and, of course, they both came down with a cold. Every night I laid in a twin bed in the downstairs office, the babies burrowed into my sides, occasionally waking themselves in a start and reaching out for me with shaky arms. They would whimper my name and feel around in the dark for my face. Assured I was still there, they would fall back asleep with limbs draped over me and each other, safe in the knowledge that their mother was close by.

And it occurred to me on that trip; in the dark of the small office where the three of us slept side by side, their bodies tucked into mine; in the kitchen where I settled each of them on a hip during those cranky late afternoon hours; when I would come up the stairs and watch both of their faces light up at the wondrous sight of their mother approachingit occurred to me what an enormous privilege it is to be someones everything.

It's also scary as hell.

These babies, you know, they live and die by me. They would follow me to the ends of the earth and I am the center of their knee-high universe.
But about when my kids stop worshipping me? What about when they wake up and realize that beyond being imperfect, I have actively been screwing them up for decades?

It's probably going to take my kids a long time to see me and their dad through the open truth of adulthood. They will adore us for years to come, copying our every steps and voicing our opinions like they are their own, reenacting our way of life because, just like every kid, they will believe it is the only way of life. It's scary, isn't it, that kids believe and trust their parents so willingly? We are their first mirror. They seem themselves through our vision, they see the world through our lenses, they believe what they believe because we say it so.

And yeah, YES, that is unsettling.
Because I know me.
I know what they will eventually find out about me, I can count to the stars and back all the ways that I fear letting them down, those gaps in my parenting and my person hood, and it is deeply terrifying.

Parents make enormous mistakes. Parents hurt their kids. They try and they fail to be everything their own parents were not and they try and they fail to be the one family who doesn't screw everything up.

And you know what? You might do a really good job of that for awhile. You might do your best and things will be fine but let me tell you! Let me tell you. The day will come. Problems will arise. It will all hit the proverbial fan and it. will. stink.


The good news.

The news I carry around for safe keeping.

It is in my mistakes that God shines through. It is in the gaps that the God-light of true and perfect love has room to break through and warm my kids' hearts, melt away those ugly parts of them that I can't reach or even begin to understand. That is a God job. And He will use my mistakes to do it. Just like that feeling of safety in the dark and that wonder in their eyes when my babies know I am near, that is a whisper to them of the safety and wonder in their true Father's arms. It's both things, you guys. We know goodness through our parents and we know failure through our parents, and both are so important to our growth.

This is why God puts us in families.
Why He gives us parents, I think.
To see His goodness in their goodness. 
And His completion in their faults.  

The failures of me as a mother reveal my lacking. My defects. And I hope- I pray- that the lack will send them hunting. Send my kids to search for something better. Something that fulfills them and knows them more than even I could dream.
Someone without defect. Someone with perfect love.

May any goodness in me point you towards heaven, babies.
And may my mistakes do the same.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Stuff I've been meaning to tell you. Volume I.

I like to tell people about good things I've recently tried/found/used/loved, and this seems like an easier way to do it than sending a bunch of texts or e-mails. So! Here you go.

5 things I've been meaning to tell you.

I posted about this on my instagram, but it's too great not to share here as well. Have you guys ever heard of The Skimm? I get really overwhelmed about where and how to read the news every day, and I can't always count on my brother Robert's facebook page to tell me what I need to hear. But this service, called The Skimm, is a FREE e-mail subscription to a round up of the most important news stories each day. It's run by two young woman (my age, doing this amazing thing, WHAT AM I EVEN DOING WITH MY LIFE) and they write about the news in a way that is entirely intelligent and easy to digest, like a chat with your super smart and witty friend. Plus, each story has links to their sources, so you can choose which news you want to dig further into. It's a 10 minute read every morning that keeps me connected and educated about what's going on, and I can not recommend it more highly.
Follow this link. Get signed up. Thank me later.

Ok so a million years ago (when I was about 7 months pregnant with Sammy) my friend Tyler invited me to visit his brand new business venture, called Stillwater Float Center. Tyler is the kind of guy who doesn't talk very often, but when he does, I listen. Mostly because he's a top 3 funniest people for me (seriously) but also because he's incredibly sharp. He and his friend planned and saved and planned some more for a few years before they opened this float center, and their success is sort of unprecedented for a new small business. Here's what you need to know:

-Stillwater Float Center. Downtown Boise. Beautiful location. Beautiful space.
-Saltwater Pods. Full of body temperature saltwater, at such a concentration that you are completely buoyant. You enter a private, quiet room. You get undressed, you take a warm shower, you climb in the pod and you float on your back for an entire hour.
-You will relax. You might fall asleep, or you might just settle so deeply that you daydream for an hour. Your body comes to a complete and total point of rest, during which any pain, stress, or burdens you carried in with you will quite honestly float away. Pun intended. But probably not approved by Tyler.
-Soft music lets you know the hour is up. You climb out, and if you are me, you revel in a feeling of euphoria that is almost disorienting. You don't want to leave. You beg Tyler to let you live there. He asks you politely to stop drinking all his fancy tea and go to the poetry class you are late for.

Like a modern day Roman bath house (minus the political scheming and undercurrent of debauchery) (that I knew about anyways) Stillwater is an experience like you can't imagine. You need to try it. Better than a massage, better than a long run, better than a stiff drink, these float pods are pools of repose and will reset your whole week. And if you see a tall handsome redhead at the front desk, make sure to listen when he talks. And drink the fancy tea, it's a treat.

My family has a chocolate chip cookie recipe that we ride or die by and it is absolutely delicious. But over the last few weeks I've been baking through my every feeling (I think I have a disproportionate amount of feelings for the average person) and I found a contender for my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world. Just in case I'm wrong I'll probably try another batch of recipes this month, you know, for accuracy, not for my cookie addiction, it's not about that at all you guys. For now, make these. Make sure to chop up your chocolate, for some reason it tastes better.

And eat two big ol' crispy chewy cookies at once, with a glass of milk.

picture and recipe by Joy the Baker. Whom I adore. 

How annoying are these videos when people post them and say "Your life will never be the same!" or "You'll never guess the surprise this mom found!"
But honestly, your life will never be the same because of the surprise this mom found. This is gonna make you want a kid. Proceed with caution.

Maybe while you're wearing sweats. Drinking coffee. Waxing poetic about the coming autumn.
Or eating copious amounts of cookies.

Happy Happy Weekending, friends.