Who Am I?


Running late to a doctor’s appointment, I still had a folder’s worth of new patient information to fill out. A personality quirk of mine is that I enjoy filling out forms, so I was buzzing along at a breakneck pace, answering questions that had obvious answers, until I hit the one that always throws me for a loop. Occupation. My pen hovered above the form, hesitant at even knowing the correct answer. Birthdate, spouse, medication amounts. Those things all have concrete answers, but this one? What did I feel like saying today?

Photographer. No, I’ve reduced my photography work back to the very infrequent photoshoot and am now shooting for the sheer pleasure of it because…

Student. Is taking one class per semester a reason to fill in the blank with this word? I mean, it is a graduate program so it takes up a substantial part of my thinking power each day, but no, this doesn’t work…

Writer. Nah. Writing, too, is now simply for fun. Or for school. But it’s not a paid endeavor. Hmm, are there any paid endeavors for me right now? No, I actually pay people to teach me stuff.

Church volunteer. Probably the truest description of my days, but it feels awfully weird to put that on a form for the doctor’s office.


Those four little letters put together do not make me feel awesome about life if I am honest. When I am dropping off a 7th grader for a large portion of the day, dare I call myself a Stay At Home Mom? It brings to mind bon bons and The Price is Right. Being a woman of leisure who buys only the cutest in athletic clothing, but rarely uses it to work out. It’s perusing Target more times than makes sense, being a lady who lunches, taking luxurious naps after all that exhausting work of shopping and eating.

Uh, wait a minute. I do take naps. Scratch that last one. I also really enjoy lunches. And Target. Okay, whatever.

My fight with the SAHM term is a real one because I find it to be reductionistic. The only word I really love out of the four is “mom.” I’m not really a “stay at home” person and now that I think of it, I might be a very strong-willed adult because, DON’T TELL ME TO STAY AT HOME THANKYOUVERYMUCH. Still, I feel like it reduces me to something I am not, to less than what I aspire to, to less than what I actually do and produce each day. So I will take back the SAHM label and explain a few things about it.

Choosing to stay at home with Livia when she arrived was the greatest pleasure in terms of choices. Before she came, I dreamed of becoming a mother and I was dreamy about what my life might look like as a parent. I could not wait for the gift of a child, and I anticipated our adventures with excitement. It was absolutely what I wanted to do with my life and I was eager to quit working in order to be home full time. Though real life was a thousand times harder than my idealistic dreams, every time I considered going back into paid employment I reaffirmed my desire to parent Livia instead. I felt completely confident in my choice to feed her each meal of her day, to be the one to hold her hands while she learned to walk, to listen to her babbles and then words and then lengthy conversations. It wasn’t that my job was easy—no, the monotonous “at home” work of baby-rearing can be brain-numbing at times and then utterly exhausting at others. Rather, it’s what I wanted to do. I did not want for Livia to spend much time in a daycare; I wanted to be the adult around her for a majority of her waking hours.

The truth is this: I still want to be the adult around her for the majority of her waking hours.

For numerous reasons, it’s important that Livia is educated by other adults, but when she is not at school, I still want to be the person closest to her. I can feel the years squeezing away from us now. Everyone has said these teenage years fly by, and so far they are right. I feel hugely sentimental about my time with Livia—at least when I’m reflecting upon it while she’s away from me. It’s easy to feel the warmth of parenting when we’re in good moments—reading together, cuddling, talking talking talking, driving around town—and much harder when we rub up against personality differences or hard, stressful days. But still, I choose this kid. I’ve got one kid, and that one is enormously special to me.

So there it is. My pen hovers over the line, I curse the way “occupation” hitches me up, and then I quickly scribble “SAHM” and this time I think I threw in a “/student” to make me feel better about the direction of my life. Will anyone at the office even care who or what I am? Will their eyes rest on that line for more than 2 seconds before moving on to type insurance information into their desktop computer? I doubt it. My existential crisis means nothing to them, and so much to me.

We’re Going to the Zoo Zoo Zoo





In Praise of the Turtle



Is “turtle photography” a thing? For sure I love serving in the church and taking seminary classes is such a good fit, but oh my goodness, I think I need to be a turtle photographer. The patterns and ridges, the shapes and patterns are endlessly fascinating to me. Doesn’t this creature look ancient? As though he’s seen world events you can’t even fathom?

I’m about to invest in kneepads and a nose clip (it smells pretty stinky near the turtle enclosure), and then beg the officials at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo to let me get in the turtle-y spaces to photograph them.

Norwex Products and Link!

Some of you may not know that I partner with my dear friend Maralee to photograph images she can use for her blog. Maralee advocates for children and covers a variety of topics including foster care, adoption, infertility and much more. I’m in a stage of life (hello, seminary!) where I’m shooting less so I enjoy getting an “assignment” from Maralee from time to time. (To be honest, Maralee has combed through my archives so many times she knows my blog far better than I do.) Yesterday I ended up retrieving six wool balls from my dryer and positioning an almost-unused dusting mitt in order to provide images for her post on Norwex.

I should add that I adore Norwex. I’ve been using their Envirocloth and window cloth faithfully for a few years now, and so far it’s meant that MANY of my cleaning products are sitting high on a shelf collecting dust. That’s a win for me and—guess what?!—now I can clean them with my handy-dandy dusting mitt. I hosted a Norwex party recently with the stated goal of earning myself a mop. I did earn it and haven’t even used it yet… ‘cuz that’s how I roll sometimes. I haven’t swept the floor either, so there.

If you’re interested in Norwex, you can buy items through Maralee.





Teeny Powerful Creatures



I could watch spiders work for a long time. I’m fascinated by their webs, their ability to wrap their prey so quickly, and their individual colorings. But I like to watch them from a safe distance. Every time my dog and I go out onto our deck I holler at Shiloh before he meanders into silvery treachery. Sure, wrecking a web is no big deal, but I don’t want spiders to land on him. And I really don’t want them to land on me.

The other day I was confidently heading down the outdoor stairs to our patio area and my face came within 3 inches of a spider in the middle of its web. I screamed, fell back hard on my behind, and felt like a big idiot. But! I managed to avoid getting an arachnid in my face so it was a win for me. The chiropractor fixed me the next day—I basically fell so hard that it felt like my head was on wrong—so all’s well that ends well.

It’s spider season, y’all. Pay attention. And maybe pull out a camera to grab a few fun shots.

First Day of 7th Grade

Father God, bless this girl as she starts 7th grade! May many middle school blessings of mercy, joy, grace and perseverance be poured over her this year. In Jesus’ name, amen.




All first day shots!

First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade
Sixth Grade

Poolside with Livia






Laughing Together


One of my favorite things in the world is to laugh, and I thank God for a daughter I laugh with on a regular basis. My mom and I can still get pretty darn giggly together if something strikes us as hilarious, and Livia and I have the same connection. A simple silly thing can absolutely take us down and pretty soon we’ll be wiping tears. It’s the kind of laughter that replaces sit-ups. Or so I tell myself. Come to think of it, I fell in love with Jeremy rather quickly because he, too, made me laugh. And he still does! In the middle of a serious life, laughter makes everything better.

Oh, Livia Raine. How I do love you!

For the Beauty of the Earth, For the Joy of Human Love


I stepped outside to my back deck this morning to soak up some sunshine and warm up from the air conditioning inside. It’s my private little oasis, a bit of a secret garden now as our Rose of Sharon bushes have lost their minds and grown into gargantuan shapes. They are blooming—fabulous purple trumpets open up into pink blooms that feed everything from bumblebees to hummingbirds to hummingbird moths. The roses—hibiscus really—cover one corner and a healthy green maple towers over me on the other side. In between are succulents and cherry tomatoes, sedum and a butterfly bush and a few pots of herbs. And in between those items are WEBS. It is spider season, my friends, and I was only slightly ashamed of letting my small dog take down the first few for me with his clueless waltz onto the deck. I left the webs alone that were situated in corners away from my seat in the sun. From my viewpoint I watched them in the spiders in their homes, now a bit more wobbly in the morning, and hoped they’d catch all manner of little critters. All around me buzzed this incredible world. My deck. My sweet oasis in the sun. Though I’ve just returned from a lodge with a fabulous long deck overlooking apple trees and a deeply shaded wood, I have this privilege of coming home to a vibrant scene all my own.

There’s not a thing around us that wasn’t made, fashioned, orchestrated by our Creator God. From the spider’s ability to build intricate webs to the unfolding of the tiny flowers that face the sun on my front steps, creation has been designed by God. He put all the scientific forces into play, and when I open my eyes and really look, I see how fabulous this world is. What’s even more stunning to me is that God made human beings and that he considers them more important than these little bits of flora and fauna I’ve been enjoying this morning.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the starts, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas. 
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

– from Psalm 8

A group of teens from church just returned from a trip to Guatemala. And though I’m sure they were surrounded by impressive scenery on their travels, they left the comforts of home for people, for the LOVE of people. God honors this work and wants us pouring out our lives for people. If he esteemed us so much, crowning us with honor and glory simply because we’re made in His image, then surely we need to mimic that. We need to care. On Sunday I was so impressed by the hearts of the girls who shared their thoughts about the Guatemala trip. Sure, this was their mountaintop experience (something many of us growing up in the church experienced after going to youth camps) but it was a significant one because God taught them something through it all. He graciously showed him how much He loves his people and that it’s worth giving up your money, your time, your security to care for others.

Just as there are women, men, and children in Guatemala who reflect the character of God, they are also here in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are in your town. As wealthy as we are here in America, we cannot be blinded to the hungry, the hurting, the lonely, the sick. If you’re a Christian, then you are called to love your brothers and sisters wherever God has placed you. Never be lulled into thinking that everyone around you is fine, that everyone in your city is fed, clothed, and nourished. It’s our job to care for others. Let’s continue to see people as the glorious creatures they are—creatures made in the image of God and esteemed by Him. Continue working for their good and by doing so you serve God.

Job, Essential Oils, and the Art of Listening


I composed the rant in my head as I drove through the rain-splattered streets of Lincoln this morning. I AM OFFENDED, I wanted to cry. I am tired of being offended! And to let you all know just how strongly I feel on the topic, I was prepared to write a post explaining my position and drawing a line in the sand so you know precisely where I stand on this VERY crucial subject of… essential oils. Oh yes, I had a title and everything: The Luxury of Essential Oils.

But then more happened. The ache I’ve been feeling in my soul—the restlessness, the sadness, the weight and burden—was comforted as I listened to my very own words that I gave to a friend yesterday: Read Job.

I’ve read Job before. I have various themes—important ones—in mind and I cherish the book. But you see, the word of God is active. As stagnant as we know books to be, the Bible is not that book. It’s alive and powerful, it has the ability to cut right through your spirit and bring godly truths to mind. What was true when it was written so many years ago is still true now. You have to have spiritual eyes to see the spiritual truths, but if you are listening, the word of God will always speak. And it did so this morning.

I opened the pages of my Bible to Job and the scene was laid before me. You’ve got Job and his wife and all his children right there on earth and they all really enjoyed one another. They feasted and celebrated. Job’s sons and daughters and families liked to be together, to drink wine and spend time in each other’s presence. Life was good, the family was prosperous. Happy times. And then you’ve got another scene presented, only this one is in the heavenly realms. The curtains are pulled back on a picture we humans are simply not privy to and it kind of astounded me. (Sidenote: our daughter has had unsavory dreams lately, so we’ve been talking a lot about the spiritual realm over the last few days. Do ghosts exist as we think of them? I’m not sure, but I do know that angels and demons are at play all the time; this the bible is quite clear about. Followers of Jesus are on the winning side ultimately, but there is always a spiritual battle waging around us.) As it turns out, angels have meetings with God! WHAT. I don’t know if these are like your once-a-week staff meetings or if it’s more like a yearly gathering of the angelic army, but it happens. In Job we’re told it happens. And what’s even crazier is that Satan can just show up. So he does. He shows up and he talks with God in his conniving destructive way. But it’s important to know that Satan is bound by God, ruled by God’s authority, and it’s only by God’s permission that Satan can do any work whatsoever.

Satan is allowed to attack Job. And within a few verses Job is reduced to a mess of a man. He has lost all his wealth. His children have perished. His body is covered, head to toe, with sores and his soul is in utter despair.

He does not curse God.

Instead he worships. He is facedown in the dirt, reduced to mere shreds of the life he enjoyed moments before, and he blesses the name of the Lord.

The book continues and is an utterly fascinating tale of beloved friends with misguided words, Job’s grief and despair, and the God who sustains life from the first of days to the last. It’s a book worthy of your time.

So… essential oils? Well, I’ve lost my fire on the topic. But here is what I long for, friends. I long for the ability to dialogue about things we might feel strongly convicted about. As I walk into Job’s life and start seeing what God allowed to happen to him, and as I begin to read the kind-but-dead-wrong words of his friends, I think it’s important that we listen to one another’s stories. We need more of that, don’t we? When a sister is struggling, will you simply sit silently with her in the ashes for a week as Job’s friend’s did? When she says she’s in pain—emotional or physical—will you hold off from recommending an oil to cure her ills? Will you pause and simply hear what’s going on and will you pray for her?

Today we are so quick to judge. We’re so quick to want to proclaim ourselves as Remedies, Healers, and Wizards. We’re sure that we know the right candidate, the right health care options, and the right oils to make that pain go away. We’re fast to make assumptions. We know for sure that guy reached for the gun instead of holding his hands up. We’re the Judge and the Jury. We’re so wise that we’re the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches wrapped into one.

Or maybe not.

Last night before bed I jabbed two needles into my thighs and administered a drug I hope will allow me to walk without too much discomfort. Will you sit with me in my story? Will you come watch and see what God is doing with me and will you encourage me to proclaim “blessed be the Lord”? I hope so. And I hope I will come sit with you as you swath yourself with lemon oil and perhaps touch your toes with a poultice made from healing herbs in your back garden. Let’s sit together. Let’s love one another and sit together and praise God with whatever strength we can muster.