when May reminds you of what you’re missing

May is usually pictured as cheerful. Kids running through fields of wildflowers, or picking strawberries with red juice staining white frocks. The world coming awake from its wintry hibernation. It is happy. It’s spring. The earth is blooming. 

But what about when you feel at odds with the world outside? Like the inevitable good-byes that come when you live in a military community. Like remembering the bittersweet end of each school year – mostly sweet, because the long, lovely days of summer were ahead; but a bit bitter, too, when it meant change was around the corner. I remember the year I graduated from the only school I’d known because I’d be attending high school the next fall. I can recall the joyous grief when I graduated from high school, as we all were about to scatter to our next stages of life. And college graduation was probably the most distinct. Those four years were a sweet, sweet season of my life that I wept at leaving behind. The drive back to South Carolina from Chicago that May was a trail of tears … mine as I kept wanting to look in the rearview and remember the good times, as if that might help them to last forever.

So I think it’s normal (I tell myself) that each May I feel a mixture of all of the Mays I’ve lived. The excitement, the anticipation, the anxiety, the regret, the sad farewells to friends and seasons. And I can’t help but remember the May two years ago when friends lost their 17-year-old son to tragedy. In meeting with this friend a few weeks ago, she talked about the way that May seems to drag on forever some years (like this one).

If you have felt the May blues in whatever degree, take heart. You’re not alone. Change, well, it’s unsettling at any stage of life. This May our across-the-street beloved neighbors moved. They were the kind of friends you felt truly #blessed to have as neighbors. My husband and I enjoyed the company of the parents as much as our kids loved playing together. We left for vacation for a week and when we came back, they’d moved already. We knew it was coming, but after the fact … it feels like something is missing. Life on our street doesn’t feel the same.

And I’ll be honest. As a mom of twin 5-year-olds, summer feels rather daunting. I want to be the mom who enjoys the extra free time at home with her children (and some days I do), but I too often feel like the mom who gets tired of being camp director/chef/cleaning boss/chief disciplinarian. Times 100 in the summer because of all.those.hours. Every day. And so.much.heat. And no.more.naps. I don’t want to default to PBS kids’ marathons Mon-Fri because “mama just can’t take it anymore.” So while the finish line of preschool edges ever so close these next few weeks, I am trying to remember the “sweet” part of “bittersweet May” and to remind myself that these days with these 5-year-olds will one day be a wistful glance in the rearview of my life. 






on the eve of preschool

Tomorrow. Tomorrow it begins. Enter the song from “Annie,”

Tomorrow, tomorrow,
I love you, tomorrow;
you’re only a day away!

Tomorrow my almost-3-year-old twins will enter preschool. This DAY I’ve longed for, that felt too far ahead into that distant Future which I couldn’t see through the hazy, sleep-deprived gaze of newborn days and toddler tantrums. Friends who’d journeyed there said the oft-repeated and often-frustrating-when-you’re-in-the-midst-of-it cliche of, “the days are long, but the years are short.” I find myself repeating that phrase myself to friends with weeks-old newborns, who are struggling with finding their way through the maze of feedings, advice, sleep(lessness), diapers, and colic. I’ve said it to friends who are still a few months away from welcoming their first babe into their hearts, and who feel alternately daunted and excited by such a venture.

As I thought about this post, I wasn’t sure whether to camp out in nostalgic-how-did-my-babies-get-so-big, or to join Glennon in the ranks of “hallelujah! Free at last!” I offer my story, which is a combination of both. Only this morning, I have felt both extremes. When my blue-eyed blonde beauties look up at me and say, “I love you, Mommy!” followed by a melt-my-heart hug; when one says, “Daddy is my best Daddy ever!”; when I see them creatively playing and sweetly cooperating with one another, I think that I am going to miss this. Granted, I will still have plenty of it (they’re only going two mornings a week), yet I know this is sort of the beginning of School. We are probably not going to go the homeschool route personally (and I have great respect for those of you who are), so School will likely mean that the next 15 years will include fostering their academic pursuits outside of the home. That’s terrifying when I realize that I am giving over the reigns of control to someone else, even for six hours a week. Will they be ok? What will I miss in terms of small moments you can’t capture? What if they are holy terrors for their teachers or their fellow students? [disclamor: I have no reason to believe that they will be since they are always MUCH better behaved with those other than us … but you never know …] Who will help her if she can’t figure out how to get her lunchbox open or if she skins her knee? Can I bear the thought that it will be someone besides me?

Well, yes. I can if I remember the part of me that can’t wait for tomorrow. I am looking forward to preschool because I want them to learn to play with other kids, to do wildly messy and creative art projects that I won’t have to clean up, to learn to be under another authority besides me, to be guided in their curiosity about this world by teachers trained to do so. This sounds quite noble, and I wish I could stop there. But I won’t. Because I bet there are others out there who, like me, also cannot WAIT for the break. The break from being a referee/personal chef/activities director for two seemingly impossible to please toddlers. Parenting has been as much my journey of finding out who God’s made me as it has been nurturing my children into who God’s making them. And a few things I’ve learned about myself these parenting years set me up for preschool being a lovely break at precisely the right time:

  • I don’t enjoy arts and crafts. In theory, yes, but the actuality feels too messy and frustrating most of the time.
  • I’m not naturally a playful mom, meaning that getting on the floor and doing lego towers for hours (or even 10 minutes) can feel tiring. I do it still because I love the girls who love legos, but it’s just hard for me. Same reason that I don’t really like playgrounds either.
  • I am most refreshed by time alone or with a few friends with whom I can connect on a deep level. To say that’s been a scarcity in these first three years as a mom is an understatement.
  • I am passionate about what God’s called me to outside of my home, too. I enjoy teaching women the beauty of the gospel found in God’s Word; mentoring younger women in their faith journeys; counseling those in difficult places; and writing. The freedom of two mornings a week without my children will free me up to pursue these a tiny bit more than I’ve been able to before now.
  • I am a better mom when I have a regular break to anticipate and in which to find refreshment. I’m not saying that God has not met me in the midst of the trenches of these past few years, but I am saying that I’ve found that I am able to love my husband and children better with regular breaks. This may not be your story, but this has been mine. And I suspect there are many of you in the church especially who have not felt free to admit this. Admit it; ask for grace in the midst of each day; don’t demand breaks in order to be a better mom but DO take breaks as you can, for spiritual and emotional refreshment. Take a break in order to re-engage those God’s called you to in self-sacrificial love.

Will I be a tearful mom tomorrow as I send off my big girls with their tiny backpacks? Of course. Will I be a joyful mom who will feel like three hours is a blissful luxury not to be squandered lightly? Equally so. I expect crying and rejoicing to each be present in this mom’s heart. And for both aspects, I am thankful for a God who weeps with me and rejoices with me and who goes with me and with my daughters as we’ll part for three hours. I imagine that I’ll blink and be writing a similar post about college. Oh my. That may really get the tears going, so I’ll stop while I’m ahead.

tears and transitions

As the tea kettle began its high-pitched whistle, releasing steam from the boiling water inside, I felt it to be the perfect metaphor for the emotions steaming within me. After an hour of bedtime antics, I was D.O.N.E. We would sternly warn them not to get out of bed, they would say, “yes ma’am,” to indicate understanding, and as soon as we settled into our comfy spots on the sofa, we would hear yet again the tell-tale pitter patter of feet on the floor above us. Too bad for them, it’s a squeaky floor in an old house and so there is no hiding their delight to exercise their newfound freedom now that they’re in “big girl beds.” We would parade upstairs, trying to be firm and unemotional and the PARENTS-whom -they -should-respect-and -listen-to-and-obey. We would enforce our consequences, march them back to bed, trying to be no-nonsense and all business. And it would not even seem to matter.

So after about the fourth round of this, I did what every sane mother does: I put on the teakettle and told Seth that it was all him from here on out. I was here for his emotional support, but I could NOT take it anymore. It shouldn’t surprise me that monumental transitions for my daughters are equally difficult for me. And yet this one seemed to catch me by surprise in the intensity of emotions their “failure to comply” evoked for me. Their dream performance on their first evening in big girl beds (with absolutely no testing) also lulled me into unrealistic expectations for the future evenings. Which have become progressively worse with each bedtime. It certainly didn’t help that last night’s bedtime fiasco followed a day in which we were cooped up at home due to Hurricane Sandy. All of us were stir crazy, and apparently they still had some extra energy to burn off at 9:30 pm – a solid two hours past their bedtime.

Ironically enough, I am preparing to be part of a panel for moms at our church on the topic of “Nurturing Emotional Health as a Mom” and my focus will be anger. Strictly from a clinical standpoint, of course, utilizing my counseling training/etc. Ahem … right. And if you believe that, you must have skipped about half of my blog posts about my struggles as a mom. It never fails that anytime I am preparing to speak or teach on a certain topic, God makes sure to arrange that I have plenty of “fresh material” to use. It keeps me humble, for sure, and I can only hope that how God meets me in the depths of my struggle with anger as a mom will and can be used to help other moms who may feel isolated and alone in similar ways.

So right now, what am I learning? First of all, it’s usually when I think I’ve turned a corner on an area in my life that I’ve been working on that God sees fit to test me – to reveal how deeply I still need the saving work of Christ to forgive my sin and to empower me to overcome my sin. As I was working on this anger material (in quiet nap times, in coffeeshops on the weekends while my husband watched our daughters), I thought that I had really begun to get a handle on it. Then last night I was faced again with how quickly my heart can be triggered into irrational anger. I still want control of most things. I still want peace and quiet and feel like I deserve and am entitled to those blissful gifts at a certain time (7:30 pm or shortly thereafter, to be precise). I still don’t really want to serve my children. And I still doubt that God is good and is here and cares about me, even in moments when I’m pretty frustrated.

I wanted to begin doing some major internet research and friend research into the best methods to keep your two-year-old in bed once they’re not in cribs anymore. And I did start a little of this. Which isn’t bad, of course. But a wise friend wrote the following to me, and I think she captured the heart of my struggle right now:

I wish like crazy that I had some advice for you but unfortunately all I know is that this transition is just one that takes time and patience. Child rearing is such a sanctifying experience as it provides us with so many opportunities to practice patience, flexibility, empathy with others, etc. Hang in there. It does get better with time. The novelty will wear off and a routine will develop. The girls will learn to go to bed and stay there till the morning. I promise.

I’m clinging to those last three sentences in particular. And I’m asking God for the endurance and wisdom to learn and practice patience, flexibility, empathy with others … etc. Join me in this? We need one another on this journey. And as for tonight, after a few rounds of the spring-loaded toddler out of bed act, I decided to give everyone a break and split up the twins for the night. Lucia’s now peacefully asleep in her pack n’ play in the guest room, and Alethia finally settled down for the night in her big girl bed in the nursery. Whew. Exhale. Breathe. Reflect, and ask God for strength for tomorrow. Because I’m sure I’ll need it then, too.

Now I’m going to read a few more chapters of my latest favorite book, “Unglued,” by Lysa TerKeurst. You’ll be hearing more from me on that front soon.

on becoming two


We celebrated two with a fanfare of a birthday party, no theme other than good-old-fashioned-birthday – meaning we had balloons, birthday-themed plates, and two “cakes” designed from cupcakes. Almost all of the girls’ friends and neighbors came for a Labor Day cookout/birthday party. And good times were had by all.

But this isn’t a mommy-specific blog, where I ooh & aah you with all of my Pinterest-worthy aspects of our party. I love reading other blogs that do that, although I must admit that I can struggle with creativity-envy afterwards. Or I may be inspired by such blogs and Pinterest pins, just depends on where my heart is in a given day.

The twins becoming two has been a slow, ever-increasing process that began around 6 months ago as both the tantrums and the precocious nature blossomed. Now both aspects are in full bloom, which leaves me both laughing in delight and exasperated in anger in the course of a day (or 10 minutes). Many moments, it is wonderful to watch the way they will play together, yelling “Come find me!” and running away for her sister to chase her. They love their new sandbox on our back deck, and they end each day laughing and “talking” to each other as they drift off to sleep in cribs across the room. Other moments, I again feel the twin-pull that’s been present since birth. Of TWO very needy children in the same stage, wanting the same thing from their ONE Mommy. And I feel completely at a loss of how to respond. How do you triage the toddler who just got bitten with the toddler who bit her? The girls who are both melting down with fear or with tiredness or hunger and want to be held now while also expecting me to meet their need (of cooking dinner, for instance, or putting each down for a nap). I am faced with a sense of inadequacy in these moments. One that I should be used to by now, but which still feels hard. Maybe it’s more of a cumulative effect, building with each month, rather than one that goes away.

In one such moment, I desperately opened the Bible (rather than the cookie jar or Facebook or email), and this verse jumped off the page for me: “Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19) I’m going to take a big hermeneutical leap and jump straight to applying it to my life as a mom. I know that’s not the original context (persecution of the early Church was), but I think God who was present with those suffering Christians then also wants to be present to us when we suffer now in the self-sacrificial calling of motherhood. The frustrations of motherhood fit into this category of suffering according to God’s will. And so what am I called to do? Entrust my soul (what’s in danger of harm) to God, my Creator who is faithful. While continuing to do good. This is Christianity on the go. Spirituality that I can live with as a mom.

God says to us, “Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s good work. Yes, it involves suffering which will test and try your very soul. But I, who made you and created you, am faithful to care for you, strengthen you, empower you to continue to do good. Your suffering in the pouring out of your life for these little ones is according to my will for you. I who strengthened your Savior who endured this and more, will strengthen you also. By His very life – the life of Christ available to you, dwelling within you by the Spirit.”

I finally sat down to write this out because (surprise, surprise) I need to hear it again in this moment. The morning was lovely, I was able to get tasks accomplished after we played with a neighbor down the street, lunch was battle-free, and then naptime hit and they rebelled. My heart did so, too, in response. We are the same. We need the same Savior. My only hope for pointing them to Him is that I run to Him myself.

As a small comical ending, in reading “Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender?” (a developmental classic by Ilg & Ames), they concluded their book with some practical pointers that I recommend to myself and all of you fellow parents of two-year-olds. Doubly so, if they’re also twins:


1. Avoid any expectation that all daily routines will go smoothly. Even if you do your best, your child will not always cooperate fully.

2. Do not introduce any sudden changes in routine without warning or without some cushioning buildup.

3. Avoid any questions that can be answered by “No,” such as, “Do you want to have your bath now?”

4. Do not give choices when it matters.

5. Do not expect your child to wait for things or to take turns easily.

6. Avoid ultimatums, such as, “You have to eat all your lunch before you can go out and play.”

7. Avoid getting all upset by your child’s demands and rigidities. Try to see these behaviors not as badness or rebellion but rather as immaturity. Try to appreciate the wonder and complexity of growing behavior, even when it makes trouble for you.

8. Do not be surprised or upset at “No” or “No, I won’t.”

9. Do not take away or object to your child’s security blanket or favorite, bedraggled toy. Do not fuss at him when he sucks his thumb.

10. Do not expect your child to share easily with other children.

… and my personal favorite: 11. Do not be surprised if you are unduly fatigued at the end of the day.

Sound familiar, anyone? Yes, I see those hands! Though published in 1976, I’ve found it to be helpful in at least attempting to understand what’s going on with my 2-year-olds. Now, doing what they recommend as a result will take much more than my self-effort. See my thoughts on obtaining grace in other posts (and re-read 1 Peter 4:19).


An open letter to a beloved friend, soon to be gone

Dear Paci (or Binky, or “Bo-bo,” or whatever Lucia’s special name for you is – which we don’t know because she has YOU in her mouth when she says it),
I am realizing as the hour approaches when we are going to say good-bye how much I value you. I know that your primary attachment is to Lucia, and her to you, but I think I might have a secondary codependency with you. I encourage my daughter’s codependency with you because you have helped her sleep on nights when I was weary, quieted her during screaming fests that felt unbearable to me, in short, you have been there for her when I could not be. And that has made me happy while allowing you and Lucia to have a special, comforting relationship.

But now it’s time for you to go. As all “great” codependent relationships go, there comes a time when their harm becomes unavoidably obvious. And the irony is that the earlier a codependent relationship is broken, the easier it will be to extricate yourself from it. So now that Lucia is solidly attached to you, it is time for you to leave her – to leave us – to leave our family. We will send you away in a beautiful way, that honors your role (short as it has been) in our family yet also sets you free of each other forever.  You will be attached to a brilliant helium-filled balloon, and will be released by Lucia to soar into the clear blue sky. Perhaps “paci heaven”? I’m not sure how Lucia will respond initially, but I am sure she will go through withdrawal. Sleep might be more difficult for all of us. I will likely cry for your return alongside my daughter.

But, alas, you will be gone forever. We will have memories and many pictures to acknowledge your presence in our family’s lives. And we will mark your passing with grief. Yet it will be mixed with relief – relief that your impact on our daughter’s speech will be over and that any mark you left on her dental framework can begin to be reversed.

So I guess it’s good-bye, farewell, sayonara, adios. Enjoy your trip to the heavenlies, and think of us fondly…

Heather, for all of us

birthday reflections – a year of extremes


Today was my birthday (or still is, as a matter of fact, for two more hours). Due to my husband’s work commitments, I ended up having much of this afternoon and evening by myself with the girls – and now that they’re in bed, alone to reflect on this past year. Certainly a much quieter birthday than years past (like the year I had three surprise birthday parties!). It was definitely the messiest birthday dinner I’ve had, since my dinner guests smeared food all over their faces and threw it on the floor before deciding that their patience was up about halfway through my meal. But such is life with 9-month-old twins! And for all of the “inconveniences” or frustrations, there is an unspeakable joy that comes with having them in my life. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

More reflections on this past year, which has been the year of extremes, follow:

Time is a strange thing, how it seems to speed up and slow down, yet keeps constantly ticking along. And birthdays are a reminder of that. As I think about life as it has been radically re-defined for me in the last year, I cannot imagine it any other way. I could not picture a life absent of the gifts of our twin daughters. And they are the gifts that have come with an equally heavy load of responsibility. God has given with them the gift of seeing a new depth of my need for Jesus Christ, exposing the places of false comfort I have sought for refuge instead of my Rock. I have found out how solid my God is when life has felt shaky. Literally – when we wondered whether these girls would make it far enough along before their birth.

This past year, more than any other so far, I have lived the extremes. God has shown me both extremes of resting in simply being (through over two months of bed rest) when I could not be active and of resting when there was no time to rest or sleep or do anything but survive and help these babies thrive.  There have been days that felt endless because of lack of activity and days that felt endless because of an absence of anything but activity. I have gone from lonely days to days when I wished for one moment alone. I have had months of anticipating the twins’ arrival and preparing for life to change dramatically and all the months since of reflecting and processing and adjusting to how their arrival has transformed our lives. I can remember what it was like to believe the illusion that I alone was in control of my schedule, my to-do list, my sleep, and could choose how to spend free time. The illusion has been exposed and those days are like a dream.

And yet the other extreme to the life-turned-upside-down adventure that parenting has been is the joy I have felt. I didn’t know how I would see these little faces and fall instantly in love. And how, six days later when we had to take our babies to the ER of the Children’s Hospital, a deep-seated fear would grip me as I realized how fragile were the lives of these little ones who had my heart.Then the relief I would feel a week later when we all arrived home (again) and Seth and I placed them in their crib to nestle next to each other, free of monitors and IV lines.  During that week in between, I experienced the wrestling of faith to entrust these ones to the God who cared about them more than I do and who had compassion on me that went even deeper than mine for them. Yes, it has been quite a year. The end result? More awareness of my weakness. More clinging to Christ for strength. More joy independent of circumstances. I can only hope and pray for more of that in the year to come. Only this coming year, I’m not planning on doubling our family size as in the year past!

a steep six-month learning curve: the first half of year one with twins

A few weeks ago (ok – actually almost three weeks ago now), our twins turned 6 months old. Since it was also the day after their Daddy’s 30th birthday, we didn’t really have a huge fanfare for them in celebration. Yet I’ve found myself celebrating various milestones and achievements – mostly along the lines of, “Yes! We all made it through half of a year!” So as I’ve had various thoughts flit through my head, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned in six months, both humorous and heart-rending:

I’ve learned …

  • that I can survive on MUCH less sleep than I ever thought possible
  • how to cut a baby’s finger nails without cutting their fingers
  • changing diapers in the middle of the night is rarely worth the wake-up – that’s why “dry max” was invented. we often push the 12-hour limits unless it’s of the smelly category (thankfully the girls usually save those for the day)
  • hearing my babies’ cries can induce my own tears or anger, depending on the moment
  • how heart-wrenching “crying it out” can feel
  • the twins are more likely to synch their schedules together than to synch their schedules to my plans for them
  • our twins’ average length for a nap is 45 minutes
  • it is so tempting to compare my babies/parenting to others and feel either self-righteous or self-condemned
  • guilt is part and parcel of being a mom: whether you feel guilty for how you feed them, whether you co-sleep or not, whether you work or not, for wanting time alone and then when you are alone for being apart from them …
  • I will only take the girls out shopping with me if I am ready to answer, “so … are they twins?” and the ensuing questions, “are they identical or fraternal? … do they have the same personalities? … how do you tell them apart? … ” etc.
  • they love music, dancing, and clapping
  • Lucia and Alethia have very different personalities which require different care and nurture
  • feeding solids really doesn’t help babies sleep through the night
  • feeding solids is REALLY messy
  • the church nursery is a wonderful way to care for families (they had their first experience there last Wednesday during our weekly women’s Bible study)
  • a double ear infection means a cranky baby who has a difficult time sleeping & eating
  • trust my instincts – so glad I took Alethia to the doctor to get diagnosed with her double ear infection the day I did
  • I cannot be a good mother without my amazing, supportive husband alongside me and being such a great father
  • we need our community to raise these girls
  • there is nothing better than my baby’s smile at me
  • I can choose to get things done during a day or to be present with and attentive towards my babies – usually not both (at least not well)
  • babies get cold quickly!
  • parenting is impossible without God’s daily and moment-by-moment grace (which often includes sending help just when we need it)
  • it’s 10:30 pm and I really should have gotten to bed an hour ago – because the girls will be waking up at 6:30 am regardless of when I go to bed … so off to bed I go!

September already!

There are many reasons why I can hardly believe that it’s September. Like so many of you, I’m asking, “Where did the summer go?” Yet unlike many of you, my answer is rather mundane: umm … it passed while I sat in a recliner observing the comings and goings of our Norfolk neighborhood, wondering how close I was to delivering these twins. There is some grief – that I couldn’t make it to Bryan & Megan’s wedding, that Seth & I only spent a couple days at the beach together (in contrast to last summer when we took full advantage of being only 30 minutes from the beach by going every Saturday), that my favorite of seasons is almost gone, that hanging out with friends and family was always in the same atmosphere: our house. Of course, I would say that it was all worth it – and certainly will be once we meet these daughters of ours.

I am certainly in a very different season of expectancy now. All of my self-given “projects” are over; leaving me to read and write and chat with friends. I feel like “circling the wagons,” in the sense of wanting to soak up each minute of time left when family time still consists of just Seth and me. We are as prepared as we can be, knowing full well that there is nothing that will quite prepare us for the chaotic joy that is ahead of us. I am not sleeping well at night because I can’t get comfortable, and then once I do, I inevitably wake 1-2 hours later and then can’t get back to sleep. I’m not too tired during the day, surprisingly, but I wish I could store up more sleep for the sleepless days & nights sure to come.

And there’s a hurricane coming through this weekend. Three people have told me that the low barometric pressure brought on by such a storm makes labor much more likely. There is some interesting research that seems to support this. And so now that I am at 34 weeks and now that we are in September and now that I feel like there’s really nothing left I need to do … I can’t help but wonder if this weekend (Labor Day weekend, incidentally) will be “the” weekend. Part of me is scared and part of me is excited. It’s similar to the way I’ve felt before each mission trip I’ve embarked upon (to Haiti, Mexico, Ireland, New Orleans): once preparations are completed and it’s the night before leaving, I have a sense of exhilaration mixed with fear. Like I am diving off of a cliff and can’t quite see what’s below. Yet each time, my faith in the God who flies with me – who not only beckons me beyond the comfortable but also goes with me into the unknown – has been strengthened tremendously. I see new sides to God that I never would have noticed had I stayed in the comfortable. Certainly becoming parents to twins will be even more faith-building as we must trust God in ways we cannot even anticipate. Here’s to the journey ahead … which will take me far beyond what has been a comfortable (albeit boring and mundane at times) summer.

A Time to Read and a Time to Write

In thinking about life as seasons, I believe that the book of Ecclesiastes gives much wisdom in its most well-known (and oft-quoted) passage about the passing of time – and what different times are for (Eccl 3:1-8):

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

We have recently transitioned from our “time of saying good-bye” to a “time of saying hello” and are coming out of our “time of adjustment.” The grocery store doesn’t feel so foreign anymore. I don’t usually get lost going to the places I need to go in a week. We are making new friends. I have my two favorite classes at the gym that I schedule my week around (Casey’s awesome TurboKick class and Becky’s BodyFlow class – combo tai-chi/yoga/pilates). I now go to ballet class with two friends on Wednesday evenings where I’m learning how to pirouette (and arabesque and demi-plie …). Church is beginning to be filled with more people who are familiar rather than unfamiliar. Women’s Bible Study started two weeks ago. Seth & I have begun weekly tutoring with underprivileged kids in Norfolk, and we had week two of our community group tonight. Counseling is gradually picking up week to week.

imagesAnd yet even in the midst of so much going on, I’ve been in a season of reading rather than writing. I know there’s a lot to process still, but I’m enjoying a “time to read.” And that season will eventually (like tonight) overflow into a “time to write.” On my bookshelf right now:

Freakonomics by Levitt/Dubner – reading this for book club – more interesting than I thought it would be, as one who is certainly NOT economically inclined

In The Company of Cheerful Ladies the 6th in “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series by Alexander McCall Smith – the fictional series about a female detective who sets up shop in a small African town in Botswana – very interesting read!

Undoing Depression by Richard O’Connor – it’s been surprisingly refreshing to read as an honest look at depression and its treatment – though not from a Christian point of view, his viewpoint does not readily espouse any one particular psychological school of thought and he advocated for ideas that I see as being answered fully with a Biblical worldview. Here’s his commentary on the series of various psychological theories over the past few decades:

“Now most new ideas are being touted as paradigm-shifters. The concept is in danger of losing its meaning by being trivialized. But the fact is that the Freudian theory of human functioning has been on its last legs for some time, and we wait for a new theory, a new paradigm, to replace it. … New medications have helped literally millions of people, and understanding certain problems as physiologically rather than psychologically based has changed somewhat how we think of ourselves. But although there is a wish to achieve a biochemical theory of human behavior, our current knowledge leaves us far from it; and if we had it, it would not answer our most interesting human questions. (p. 51)”

Talk about a set-up for a “new” paradigm to be introduced! Yet one that has been in existence since the beginning of the world … And especially since my philosophy is that these “most interesting human questions” cannot be answered except by the author of those most interesting humans, God Himself.

There’s one more segment that I found especially poignant as well:

“Anyone who defines himself in terms of other people is at risk for depression. The more sources of gratification one has in one’s life, and the more predictable and controllable those resources, the less risk for depression. If a woman is taught to define her worth in terms of keeping her husband happy, she is too dependent on an arbitrary and capricious source of gratification. If she is taught that her worth is measured by raising happy and successful children, her self-esteem depends on forces over which she really has very little control.”

Although O’Connor’s point here is to show how cultural expectations contribute to more depression in women than men (who primarily define themselves by a “more predictable source of gratification” in their jobs), his observations ring true to Biblical teaching. St. Augustine said “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” And there is warning after warning throughout the Bible not to put your trust in people but in God. We are created in God’s image, and so we are created to glorify God. How do we do so? A modern-day theologian, John Piper, summarizes Biblical teaching well when he says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Again and again there are invitations throughout the Bible to “come, you who are thirsty, come and eat …” (Is. 55) and “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). So certainly any counseling for one struggling with depression should include attention not only to the physical aspects but also to the underlying spiritual aspect as well – which is a soul desirous of a closer relationship with the Creator and Redeemer.

In my “cue” to read next is Beautiful Boy about a father’s journey through his son’s addiction. No more light summer reading for me!

Hello to Norfolk, VA

IMG_3286I realize this post has been several weeks in coming. All I have to say is that moving is quite disruptive. Although we had physically unpacked our boxes in less than a week, the “emotional” unpacking and settling in can’t be managed that quickly. And especially since we journeyed back to Philadelphia after our first week here for an unexpected and permanent farewell to a dear friend (Beverlee Kirkland) who has gone Home to Jesus. I hope to be able to blog about her life in a future post. The emotions are a bit too fresh now. She had lived a very full life – 61 years – and she was physically tired from complications of diabetes for 25 years. But she is very dearly missed, as she and her husband, Collier, were mentors for us during our time at Cresheim Valley Church.

Now about Norfolk … in short, we love it. It’s been a very smooth move, with a warm welcome from the church where Seth is an assistant pastor (Trinity Presbyterian). Here are my top 10 favorite things about it so far (but not necessarily in order):

(1) our BEAUTIFUL spacious apartment!! where we even have a guest room … and the luxuries of a dishwasher and washer/dryer

(2) being walking distance from a river walk area and the church and the grocery store and friends


(3) the Chrysler Art Museum, which we’ve visited twice already, is a 5 min walk from us and actually an impressive collection of art

(4) 30 minutes to the beach! (and you don’t have to buy beach tags once you’re there)

IMG_3282(5)  the people at Trinity Pres. Church – they’ve showered us with dinner invitations and beach invitations .. we feel very welcomed already

(6) the sound of Southern summer crickets every night

(7) people are friendly, for the most part – like you say “hi” to strangers you pass on the street

(8) the  local “Naro” theater in Ghent, where we walked to see “Up” (a good movie – I recommend it!) and paid only $6/ticket

(9) water, water everywhere … we’re a peninsula surrounded by water: the Chesapeake Bay, the Elizabeth River, and the Atlantic Ocean

(10) I’m back in the South again. Enough said y’all …