Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Going to Hutchmoot is a bit like stepping into an alternate universe. You are filled to the brim. You try your darndest to drink as much of the life giving water from the firehose that you can; but alas, it is impossible to take it all in. There are bits of brilliance that enter your mind and enlighten you. There are beautiful songs that envelope you in their melodies and carry you away with their refrains for a few sacred moments. And then there are the avalanches. The thoughts or ideas or new paradigms that make their way into your heart and crash down on everything else around them, making their presence known and changing you forever. 

Though a few weeks have gone by since the 'moot, I do not feel as though I've recovered yet. And I mean this in the best possible sense. Some things are so completely beautiful, so utterly grand and saturated with meaning, that it is almost too much for one heart to bear. There is a sense in which it almost brings me pain how beautiful this Hutchmoot thing was. It causes me to ache in a deep and profound way. Even now, trying to describe it with words only dilutes the true experience of it and frustrates this writer a bit.

I returned home a happier, more vibrant version of myself. I'd been gifted with a renewal unlike any I've had in years. It was as if I'd found myself again. The table was prepared for me by so many hard working kindred souls who put this thing on, and it created an environment where I was able to be served by God through them. I was fed with the richest of fare: truth, beauty, love, kinship, creation, and rest. My eyes are now open to see so much more than when I left: the golden hues of the sun on tree tops stops me in my tracks. The scent of the gardenias in my backyard makes me want to call all the neighbors over to savor this heavenly scent.

I was just so thoroughly plumb happy that it made me think for a minute that if I died while I was there, I might not have noticed if I was in this life or the next.

How could I be the recipient of such grace as to experience this delight? God knew. God knew I needed this gift. Let me tell you, friends, I was as dry and burnt as the Sahara in a heat wave when I arrived in Nashville; and when I left, I was a lush, green garden bursting with the rainbow colors of Eden. I was a different woman when I returned home. Not because of a Peterson, an Overstreet, or an Enger, but because of an extravagant God who rained down lavish grace on his dear daughter. And this daughter could not be more grateful. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cloth Diapering: Not As Bad As You Stink

When I was pregnant I never ever dreamed I would cloth diaper my baby. I had an image in my mind that involved safety pins, putrid diaper pails, and a mommy up to her elbows in poo. But, when Shiloh was 4 months old, I read a statistic:

An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year.

Did you get that? Twenty seven BILLION each YEAR just in the United States ALONE! That was too much for my little tree-hugging heart to bear. I had to know more. So, I started researching. I read about the effects of disposable and cloth diapers on the environment. I talked to cloth diapering moms, and tried to determine if this was a viable, sustainable endeavor for our family. The more I researched, the more I became excited about it and convinced that this was something I wanted to try.

So, we took the plunge. I bought mostly GroVia and Flip diapers. Both of these are the "hybrid" or "cover/insert" system of diaper, which consist of a cloth insert and a waterproof diaper cover. The inner insert gets soiled and changed, but as long as the outer cover is clean, it can be reused. I like this system because it makes for less laundry than other "all in one" diapers where the entire diaper needs to be laundered after each use. GroVia diapers even have a snap-together system so the insert and the cover are sure to stay in place! In fact, all of our diapers are snap or velcro closures so there's not a safety pin in sight!

I immediately loved cloth diapering. As with anything new there is a learning curve for sure, but especially while Shiloh was exclusively breastfeeding, the cleanup was a breeze. It just worked for me. Of course when we introduced solids into her diet, things became more interesting. Which brings me to the biggest thing folks are afraid of when they imagine cloth diapering: 


The answer is simple. You put it where it belongs: in the toilet. 

This is one of the great benefits of cloth for me, the poo is immediately flushed and not sitting in my house, where it will then be transferred to rot in a landfill somewhere. It is disposed of and then treated as it should be. I like that. I also use these awesome liners that "catch" the poo and are completely flushable (think of strong tissue paper). So when there is a dirty diaper I just take it to the bathroom, hold it over the potty, and flush. That's it!

I use a regular old trash can with a lid for the cloth diaper pail, and then just dump the whole thing into the wash every few days. A drop or two of tea tree oil keeps any odor at bay. I actually like how it smells! I am a person who really hates doing laundry, so when I tell you it's not that bad, you can believe me. Otherwise I would have stopped a long time ago.

Now, I am fully aware that cloth diapers have their own impact on the environment. They use large amounts of water and energy every time they are laundered. So, here are the things I'm doing to combat our carbon footprint:

~ I only wash full loads of diapers
~ I line dry my diapers whenever possible
~ I plan to use these diapers for future children
~ We bought "one size" diapers that grow with our baby, so we only need one set

I like to think that by implementing these few things, we are decreasing our family's impact on the environment. At least I know that our pile of diapers in the local landfill will be a small one.

That said, there are times when we use disposables. If we're traveling it's a no-brainer, as well as when Shiloh goes to preschool. We also reached a point when she was 11 or 12 months old where we switched to using a disposable at night because of the sheer amount of liquid that needed to be contained. Who knew someone less than a year old could hold Niagara Falls in her bladder?!

All in all, I love cloth. Some of the other benefits of cloth for us include a HUGE cost savings, a drastic decrease in diaper leaks and/or explosions, and the simple fact that they are downright cute. :) So, if you're considering cloth, please don't be intimidated. Give it a try! Reach out to a cloth diapering friend or a cloth diapering community. In Charlotte The Milky Way and The Baby Grocery Store are two fabulous places to get you started and each offer their own (free!) cloth diapering classes. There are also tons of online communities that offer support and even sell and trade diapers as well. I would also be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Having said all that, however, cloth diapering isn't for everyone. Each parent has to make their own decision about what is best for them and their child, so no judgment here if you choose disposables. This is just what works for us. To each his own! 

So whatever that choice may be for you and yours, happy bottoms to you, and good luck with whatever your diapers hold today! :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Guilt, Part 1

I love to watch the Ellen Show. She is generous, kind-hearted and so SO funny. One day during my pregnancy while I was watching the show, Ellen was interviewing a celebrity who had recently become a mom for the first time. When she asked her guest about the biggest surprise motherhood had brought her, her answer came quickly, "The guilt." 

The GUILT?! Shoot. I'm doomed. I could not have been more surprised by her answer.

You see, I was born with a guilty conscious. I feel guilty at the drop of a hat, often for unwarranted reasons. I was raised attending an ultra conservative church, in which each week I walked out feeling guilty for not being a better person and/or Christian. It has been a consistent theme throughout my life.

Smash cut to today and it is no mystery why I feel guilt for so many illegitimate reasons. My circumstances are different than they were when I was a child yet so many of my emotions and thought processes are the same. Call it people-pleasing, over-analyzing, or whatever you'd like. Whatever its name, it is a hard way to live.

We live in the information age. There is no excuse not to be educated about the topics you care about. This is an asset and a privilege. It is also a burden. We have unlimited access to as many books, articles, blogs, and opinions we care to consume. Whatever the opinion/statistic, there is someone somewhere who thinks the exact opposite and can find statistics to support it. For those of us who want to be sure we're doing to the exact right thing every time (like Superwoman), this is a breeding ground for guilt.

For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics 
recommends that children under 2 years of age not watch any TV. None. It is linked to things like obesity and high blood pressure even in children. This is why when I sometimes put on Curious George for my daughter while I'm making dinner or taking a shower, the Guilt Monster is screeching in my ear. "There is scientific evidence showing that TV is detrimental to your child's brain! You're not doing what's best for your daughter. You know better and you're doing it anyway. Shame on you."

I realize this is unhealthy and at least partially untrue, but it is a daily issue for me. And the reality is, "TV under 2" is a fairly benign example of an ocean of issues. Pick your poison: think you've come up with a healthy snack? Dig a little deeper. There is arsenic in those fruit leathers if you look close enough...or at least there is a health guru somewhere telling you that is the last thing you or your child should be putting into your bodies. 

Right when you started to feel good about the choice you made, you are inclined toward guilt once again. I repeat: this is a hard way to live. It is particularly miserable when the issues relate to the health and well-being of your child. Everything is portrayed to be a life or death scenario and anyone who disagrees is jeopardizing the welfare of their child. 

Guilt in itself is not a bad thing. It serves a purpose. It is how our conscience lets us know that we've done something wrong. The problem for many of us comes when we feel illegitimate guilt for things we've done that are not wrong. But like I said, someone somewhere probably disagrees with whatever it is you are doing, and their opinion (and their scientific study to back it up) is only a Google away.

Thankfully this has been less of an issue for me in recent days (which is probably why I am at a place where I can write about it.) Maybe others out there will resonate with this, or maybe one day if my children have children they will read this and realize it's OK to ease up on themselves a bit as parents. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What I Wish I Knew

I have been a momma for 17 months. And although most days I can barely remember life without a child, relatively speaking 17 months is not a long time; so, before 17 months turns into 17 years, I want to chronicle some things while they are still fresh. With any luck they'll be useful to someone else, too. 

Here are five things I wish someone would have sat me down and said to me before I became a parent:

* Becoming a parent is indescribably beautiful. Whether you give birth to a child, adopt a child, or become a guardian in another way, any time a child comes into your life you are changed forever. While I was pregnant I heard much about sleepless nights, diaper explosions, and other horror stories that experienced parents inexplicably inflict onto soon-to-be parents; but, what I didn't know was that the joy, beauty, and wonder a child brings into your life is more than worth all of that other stuff. I am astounded at how much I absolutely love being a mom (see the post "Surprises"). It is a beautiful thing to pour into a little life and watch it grow.

* Take no one's advice. (Okay, someone did tell me this, but it is worth repeating.) God gave this child to you. You are the perfect parent for them, and they are the perfect child for you. Whether you call it providence, fate, or chance, your lives have crossed and you are the one(s) who will know this child best. Yes, there is much to be gleaned from the wisdom of others and there is certainly a place for that; however, at the end of the day you must make your own choices about how to raise your child. There is an intricate but elegant dance between the weight of this responsibility and the gift of its honor.

* There is no secret combo. This was an expectation I didn't know I had: if I have fed, burped, changed, swaddled, and soothed my baby, she should be happy. Right? WRONG. I think I knew this in theory, but in practice I was shocked! Why is my baby still crying after I have met every one of her needs that I can possibly think of? Why won't she go to sleep?! This is when you must remember the previous point. Your instinct is your best asset. Go with it. There isn't a secret combination to your child's happiness; and, just when you think you may have found one, it will change. Which leads me to my next thought...

* Murphy's Law becomes your new life rule. It becomes exponentially more true in your life when you have children. Think your situation can't get any worse? It will. Can it go wrong? It will. That day that you all have the stomach flu (the two-ender of course) and you just don't think you will make it, will absolutely positively without question become the day that the dog runs away, the power goes out, your basement floods, your car won't start, and your hair catches fire. Not even kidding. I used to think that these kinds of things were just funny things parents said for attention or sympathy. But no. They say it because it's true. You have been warned.

* Guilt and worry are your new BFF's. At least they are for me, and most of my mommy-friends. I remember being out-of-my-mind worried about SIDS. Here you are with your beautiful, brand new bundle of joy, and all of the experts are warning you about the very real possibility that your baby could suddenly and without cause, die. It is a very real and tragic occurrence for many families, so it is worth worrying about. But it doesn't stop there. Each new stage brings new worries. And the guilt. OH, the GUILT. Are you a working mom? You'll feel guilty for being away from your child. Stay-at-home-mom? You'll feel guilty for not helping to provide financially. Get a little bored with the same-old-mundane-every-day routine? You'll feel guilty for not "cherishing every moment". Live close to grandparents? You'll feel guilty for how often you ask them to watch the kids. Live far away from grandparents? You'll feel guilty for how infrequently they get to see the kids. You catch my drift. Whatever you do, you will always wonder if you could have done it differently or better. That is part of the gig, and part of the great adventure.

What kinds of things do you wish you knew before becoming a parent? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Beauty in the Ordinary

A scene from NBC's The Office

"There is so much beauty in ordinary things. But that's kind of the point, isn't it?"

Those of you who are fans of The Office know exactly where this quote came from: this week's series finale of the beloved show. This hilarious comedy took a mundane desk-job environment and extracted all the love, humor, and quirkiness it could get out of it. After 9 seasons on air, the brilliant finale ended Thursday with that one simple line. Beauty in the ordinary. It filled me up and knocked me over all at once. That is exactly what I have been feeling in my own life.

I live in the suburbs. I am a stay-at-home-mom of a white, middle class family. We have one child, two dogs, four bedrooms, and 3.2 million toys. If we travel, it is to visit grandparents. If we party, it is because it's someone's birthday. Our favorite kind of Friday night is one where we order pizza and watch something on Netflix. We have no claim to fame, and certainly not to fortune. Our lives are remarkably unremarkable.


look a little deeper, 

and there are gold mines.

Look at the house that has become a home and a place of safety, belonging, and familiarity for a couple weary of moving. Look at the upstairs office that was turned into a nursery to welcome home a beautiful baby girl who is thriving and flourishing and bringing almost unbearable amounts of joy to her parents. Look at the couple who has had their share of ups and downs but is now closer than ever. Look at the friends that frequent our doorstep, the pictures that grace the mantle, and the toys that scatter the floor. All these are so very ordinary, and yet so full of depth and meaning. 

An ordinary day in the Huber living room.
Life with small children can be terribly mundane. Each day holds the same meals, messes, clean-ups, naps, diaper changes, and play times as the day before it did. And the day before that. And the day before that. It can all feel so stale and boring. (Sara Groves has the perfect song and music video for this stage of life called Setting Up the Pins.) But...BUT...I steal a sweet, slobbery kiss each time I strap Shiloh into her car seat. I get to see my husband, the love of my life, unfold into a confident and compassionate father; and, I can watch as my baby girl runs into his arms when he arrives home and goes back for as many zerberts as she can get. I get a first hand look at a tiny human learning all there is to know about life, and experience a mother's love - a love more desperate and beautiful than any I'd ever known. You see, there is so much beauty in the ordinary it is simply indescribable. It is impossible to put into words. 

This week as I laid in my hammock in our back yard I sensed the beauty almost tangibly. The baby was asleep, my hubby was working in the yard, my two crazy dogs were chasing each other around, and the beautiful Carolina blue skies held my gaze. It was just so simple, so utterly and completely ordinary, and so breathtakingly beautiful. It is those moments we will miss when we find ourselves in the next hard season. The next time the phone rings with bad news, it will be those peaceful, boring, gut-wrenchingly ordinary days that I will miss.

So for today, I will cherish the ordinary. I will take the time to reflect on the lack of drama in our lives and be thankful.

"I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you left them." (Thanks yet again, The Office.)

You know something? I think that is exactly what this is.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Changing Landscape

This post runs deep.

This past year has been a roller coaster for our little family. While the major parts of our lives are the same, it feels much different than it did last year at this time: our then tiny sack-of-potatoes infant now busies herself running around the house and yard; several dear friends have moved many miles away; my husband has a new role at work; I have developed some confidence about how to navigate the ever changing landscape of stay-at-home-mommy-hood; and I can't neglect to mention the latest four-legged addition to our family, Quinn. Some of our relationships have changed, we have faced turmoil at times, and generally our roles as people and as parents have changed.

With change comes re-evaluation. At least for me. It forces me to take stock of who I am, where I am, where I've been, and where I want to be. I do this a lot. A LOT. Probably daily. I have strong values and an equally strong need to stay in line with those values. Constantly re-evaluating my life keeps my high values, well...high. Also it is exhausting. Things like relationships, creativity, and faith are of extremely high value to me, and I prioritize them ruthlessly. I expect this of myself. Because this is the filter through which we see all of life, for people like me, the every-day mundane tasks are particularly distressing. Why, why, why would I spend time mopping the floor when I could connect with a friend, spend time with my daughter, or create something beautiful?! Pragmatically this poses a number of problems, not to mention the fact that it is a petri-dish for guilt. I read something in a personality profile recently that put words to the tension I wrestle with every single day. It said that my personality type, "...needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives." Um, hello?! Did someone reach inside my brain and dictate my thoughts?! This IS my life. Those who know me well know just how much this is true. Ultimately, I just want to be me. Rachel. That is all.

As I had a little down time this last week on vacation, I re-evaluated some more. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a strong musical streak, but is music what I want to do with my life? If so, what kind of music? Maybe I want to be a therapist, or an interior designer, or a labor and delivery nurse. I have daydreamed about all of those things at one time or another. Is there just one thing I should do? What is realistic in my current life stage? What am I designed to do? What would make me happiest and be most fulfilling? I think about these questions every day, but right now I am sensing them very strongly. When I am 100 I want to look back on my life and know that I followed my dreams. Or at least that I tried. The problem arises when dreams are unclear. I only have a sense of inner unrest, I do not have a clear path, or even a clear desire. This blog was birthed out of some of that unrest, and the need for some kind of outlet. The unrest is not a bad thing! I am embracing it and am excited for what changes it will bring and where it will lead. It could be something as simple as finding a new friend or a new hobby, but I know whatever it is, it will be good. (I am not trying to be cryptic about anything here, please don't read into this.)

I am thankful for the stable parts of my life: family, home, job, community, that allow me to explore, and dream, and venture out in other areas. Even admidst the unrest, I must also acknowledge the deep sense of contentment and simple joy I have. I am deeply grateful both for my settled-ness and unsettled-ness. It is a good place to be.

The Invitation
by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know 
if you will risk 
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are 
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you 
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know 
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
If you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Zoom Zoom : Embracing Limitations Part Two

Getting out of my own head is one of the hardest things for me to do. 

I have way too much going on in there.

You know those times when you begin to Google which flowers hold up in direct sunlight, and two hours later you find yourself with 15 tabs open on your browser and you are all worked up over the amount of fluoride in your local drinking water? That's what it's like to be inside my head. All day. Every day.

It is exhausting.

For example, right now some of the tabs open on the internet browser of my mind are: 

* getting to bed early tonight
* friends I want to call
* there are so many people I miss

* this house needs to be cleaned
* need to do taxes
* remedies for seasonal allergies
* dog training
* scheduling A/C maintenance
* front yard needs attention
* baby's ongoing diaper rash
* way overdue for a haircut
* did I pay too much for the shoes I just bought

These are just a sampling from the smorgasbord that is my mind. My hunch is that this is how a lot of us function. (Especially us women...I think we are hard wired this way to an extent.) Often when I stop to look at the smorgasbord, the never-ending list of demands, I become paralyzed. I cannot possibly do it all, so how can I do any of it? Where do I even begin? This overwhelmed, paralyzed state is all too familiar to me.

Then, out of the blue the other day, this thought dawned on me: Zoom. There is always going to be a laundry list of things I could spend my time and energy on. What I need to do is Zoom In on some things, and Zoom Out from others. For some reason when I thought of it in terms of taking a photograph, it suddenly seemed attainable. Staying in the so-overwhelmed-I-am-paralyzed stage gets me nowhere. In fact, it just drains the energy I could be using to Zoom In on getting something done.

So, in that moment I identified the things I needed to Zoom In on. They were very few: my and my family's health (we are all recovering from weeks of being ill), and positive thoughts and affirmations. The things I did that day needed to be related to one of these things. I believed that if I focused on these things, the other necessary parts of my day would naturally fall into place. This is more than a "to-do" list or finding my "big rocks". This is a way to see my days, and my life. While some days tasks like "do taxes" might be on my Zoom In list, I need to purposefully make room for these things by Zooming Out on other things.

Closing all those other browser tabs is a scary thing to do. What if I forget about something? What if something important gets neglected? This is exactly why I need to close them. I am so easily distracted. I must be ruthless about clearing out cobwebs and simplifying down to what is essential for me that day. I am not limitless. (See my original post on embracing limitations here.) I have a very specific amount of mental, physical, and emotional energy allotted to me each day; therefore, I must Zoom Out from some things so that I can have the CHOICE of where to focus my energy.

I needed to Zoom Out from Facebook. I needed to Zoom Out from self put-downs about all the things that have been neglected while I've been sick. I needed to Zoom Out from other people's opinions of me (including Superwoman's). I also took a minute to set a few simple, reasonable, attainable goals for myself for the week. This kind of concrete goal-setting and intentional thinking is not something I'm in the habit of doing. It doesn't come naturally to my personality type. But, it felt SO good when I had these few things written down in my journal and had a little light shed on the path in front of me, showing me where I wanted to go.

The day I came up with and implemented this method was a great day for me! It felt easy, it felt right, and it felt like me. I realize that this will not be my every day. Many days things happen to us that thwart even our best efforts at Zooming. But, this is how I hope to handle a lot of my days. This will help my daily and weekly flow immensely.

As I reflect on these ideas, it occurs to me that this is simply part of learning about adulthood. Maybe these are things everyone else already knows and does regularly. Not me. This girl, even at age 31, is still transitioning from being a child to being an adult, and maybe that will be true for the rest of my life. But for now, I am content with my one recent lesson about taking a good picture, and leading a cleaner, simpler, more contented life.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Superwoman on My Shoulder: Embracing Limitations

As I write this I am laying in bed and have been for several days. I have a nasty case of bronchitis. It’s something I’m easily susceptible to, and although the warmer North Carolina climate has given me a reprieve from it for a few winters, this bout has done its typical bang-up job of knocking me down flat. When I did get myself to the doctor, she gave me medicine and told me to do one of the most difficult things for me to do right now: rest. I have to admit that I chuckled inwardly when she said that as I thought of my typical day at home: chasing around my one year old, trying to stop her from eating the dog’s food or playing in the toilet. We stay-at-home-parents are not afforded sick days. 

How exactly do I get rest?! How do parents with lots of children manage rest? What about parents who are chronically or terminally ill? Or, the underlying question seems to be: What do we do when we encounter our limitations? 

Now, I know some people who push through the pain no matter what. They scoff at the likes of bronchitis: "So you have a little cold: suck it up and deal with it." I presume they think it makes you stronger to just keep going, or maybe that resting is lazy and/or weak. In all fairness, there is probably a measure of truth to their line of thinking, and I'll be the first to admit that I could use less self-pity and more out-right gumption in my life. But, what about legitimate limitations? When is it okay to say, "I am really not in a good place right now and I need to ask for your help"? When is it okay to say no to a potentially good thing because it would mean stretching yourself too thin? What about embracing the limitations with which we were created? 

Every one of us was designed with a need for a pretty hefty amount of sleep each night: 8 out of every 24 hours. That is one-third of our lives! What does that tell you about the fragility of our nature? If you think about all of the things we need to do regularly: sleep, eat, breathe, use the bathroom, bathe, be with others...these are all reminders of our limitations. Maybe God was trying to tell us something when he made our bodies with needs for such constant and continual maintenance. Maybe my body was trying to tell me something this past week when it slammed my lungs full of junk and forced me to S T O P.  

A big part of my story is my evil sidekick, Superwoman, that sits on my shoulder every single day. She tells me that my house should always be clean and ready for visitors, my meals should be homemade and hot, and my body should look like Megan Fox. She and I do battle numerous times. Every. Single. Day. Call it perfectionism, idealism, peer pressure, people pleasing, or whatever you wish. She is the enemy in my battle to embrace my limitations. She tells me there is absolutely no excuse to slow down, to stop, or to say no.

Superwoman tells me things like I am a failure as a homeowner and decorator because the shepherd's hook in my front yard (and it's, if you can call it that) has been empty for at least a year now. She whispers, "You should at least have some pretty seasonal flowers hanging so it looks like someone lives there. much time does it take to buy a few hanging plants and throw them up there?"

Superwoman tells me that I am lazy because I only cooked a hot meal for my family one night last week - especially for an Italian!

She tells me that it's understandable for there to be a few toys scattered around, but shames me for how long it's been since I scrubbed the shower in the master bathroom. 

Superwoman tells me that I'm a terrible mother because I need some time away from my baby once in a while. 

But, in the rare moments when I stop to think about it logically, these things make sense in light of embracing natural limitations. Maybe my shepherd's hook is bare because I am trying to focus on the people inside of my house instead of the people outside. Maybe I've bought dinner so often because I know I only have a small window of time during week nights with my family together and I'd like to sit and enjoy them instead of stressing out over another burnt pot of rice. And maybe, just maybe...putting my child in Parent's Day Out once a week is okay. Maybe it is me learning to create some space for keeping myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy. (Although even as I write this Superwoman is telling me that these are all excuses and that these are not my true motivations for what I've done/not done.)

These are our natural limitations: we want to do it all, but we can't. I can't. Accepting what's left after I've embraced these limitations is the tricky part. That pile of dishes is hard to look at, the pile of laundry will haunt me tomorrow when there are no clean clothes to wear, or most painfully, the pile of GUILT will plague me even more. (Guilt is another enormous issue for me that I will deal with in a future post.)

A few years ago I read a book by Rob Bell called Velvet Elvis. In it he talks about his struggle with his own "superpastor" in these words:

"I had this false sense of guilt and subsequent shame because I believed deep down that I wasn't working hard enough. And I believed the not-working-hard-enough lie because I didn't function like superpastor, who isn't real anyway. So I had one choice - I had to kill superpastor. I had to take him out back and end his pathetic existence.
I meet so many people who have superwhatever rattling around in their head. They have this person they are convinced they are supposed to be, and their superwhatever is killing them. They have this image they picked up over the years of how they are supposed to look and act and work and play and talk, and it's like a voice that never stops shouting in their ear.
And the only way to not be killed by it is to shoot first. Yes, that is what I meant to write. You have to kill your superwhatever. And you have to do it right now. Because your superwhatever will rob you of today and tomorrow and the next day until you take it out back and end its life. Go do it. The book will be here when you get back."

So at the end of the day, it seems the best thing I can do to Superwoman is to put a pair of cement boots on her and throw her in the river. I had to do that this week. I had to lay in the bed and ask people for help so I could allow my body to heal. And you know what? I’m getting better. The world hasn't stopped spinning and my family and friends haven't stopped loving me. My husband and friends have actually shown me their love all the more in how they've taken care of me. I hope that I can help them embrace their limitations and serve them next time they need it. 

So let me be as clear as possible to myself and everyone else: Superwoman, I am not.

(For further reading, check out The Gospel Coalition's, Limitations: Our Gift from God)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


In late December of 2011 I became a mom for the first time. The word "miraculous" does not even begin to describe what that was like. You can ask me more about this if you want to either a) see me cry, or b) hear lots of gory details that you probably didn't want to know. But I am shameless about the fact that I love to tell her (our) birth story. The nine long months prior to that were filled with nausea, fears, restless nights, cravings, impatience, more fears, and learning how to respond to the tactless yet bold things people say to pregnant women (my favorite was from a woman I hardly knew who looked me up and down and then tried to guess how much weight I'd gained). But in addition to the bothersome aspects, pregnancy also brought an ever increasing anticipation, daydreams about singing my baby to sleep, holding her in my arms, and playing with her all day every day. I was given the gift of being able to conceive and carry a child. I am and will forever be grateful to experience that miracle.

That said, I had no real idea what it meant to be a parent. Who of us does before we have children of our own? I imagined it being fun to have a child of my own, but I also imagined that it would be virtually all hard. It would mean little to no sleep. It would mean giving up any shred of independence and spontaneity for the necessary evils of changing dirty diapers and being home by 7:00 pm. It would mean sacrifice on a grander level than I had ever experienced or imagined. Now, granted, all of that was true. I was up to my elbows in baby poo. I was sleep deprived to the point of delirium (and our baby was a good sleeper)! I even remember a time when a friend told me that she had a new baby niece, and my next question to her was to ask if it was a boy or a girl. I remember the intense emptiness I felt those first few weeks and months as I grappled with my new role as the primary life-sustainer for this tiny innocent human being and clung to my sanity by a thread.

What I did not imagine was how much indescribable joy would saturate my life the night Shiloh was born. It was instantaneous. From the first moment they put her on my chest I was madly in love and totally enamored with that baby girl. The moment after that moment I was yelling, "What's a girl gotta do to get a cheeseburger around here?! I am STARVING!" True story. Pushing a human out of your body will really take it out of you. No pun intended. Plus they don't let you eat while you're in labor. I guess they figure that you're already all jacked up with hormones and delirious from the pain so why bother with feeding you? Anyway...I digress.

The truth is that I was surprised by how much I simply enjoy being a mom. I am fulfilled in a deep and gratifying way every time I hold my girl. She is the spitting image of her daddy and that in and of itself brings me joy. The role of Mommy fits me and I love it. My priorities are very clear in my job as a mom: Shiloh comes first. Everything else comes second. I can do that.

"What has been the most surprising thing to you about being a mom?" It seems to be a question I get a lot. My answer is usually the same. The first part is what I've already said about the enjoyment and fulfillment I get from being someone's momma. The second part is that I am consistently surprised by how quickly being with your child can go from the height of happiness to the height of frustration in 0.5 seconds flat. One second we are cuddling on the couch together having a moment of tranquil mother-daughter bonding and the next second she is screaming at the top of her lungs, throwing a full-blown tantrum because I will not let her have some of my Diet Coke. From contentment to contention in less than 2 seconds. As I am writing this I'm realizing that it is not all that different from those very first few moments after giving birth: dreamy, yet ravenous. As the late great Rich Mullins said, "Our hells and our heavens are so few inches apart." It is true in so many ways.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


I've thought about starting a blog many times. But inevitably I came back to the thought, "There are already so many people who blog. Most of them lead much more interesting lives than I do and have much better things to say. Why would anyone want to read what I write?" But I recently came across some lyrics (actually through another blog) that changed my perspective in a big way. Josh Ritter in his song California sings:

"Don't say the trip's been done a hundred thousand times,
                                                cause this one is mine."

I doubt I'll have any mind-blowing revelations or that I'll make you double-over with laughter. I probably won't inspire you go after your life-long dream of becoming an astronaut, or motivate you to organize your entire home alphabetically one room at a time. 

What I will do, though, is share myself with you. That is all I can do. You are under absolutely no obligation to read this; but, at this moment in my life, this 30-something feels obligated to (or at least the need to) write. I believe that everyone's story is part of a bigger story: God's story, humanity's story, our family's story. This is a sneak peek into my story as a woman, a wife, a mom, a Christian, a singer/artist, a Yankee living in the south, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend; and maybe, if we are lucky, a peek into the Greater Story that's being told.