So About This Fall…

Well apparently we’re a homeschool fam now…🤷🏼‍♀️….for sure did not see that one coming (on par #2020)

I believed all of the myths about homeschooling until I was sort of backed into a corner and had to re-evaluate why I had been against it in the first place. Homeschooling isn’t a choice between two extremes…in reality, educating your child is more of a beautifully wide spectrum of approaches, methods, & styles. The freedom to choose the HOW is perhaps the most appealing thing about homeschooling. 👏🏼

The more I researched, the more I uncovered my deepest desires for my children’s education. Things like: making savoring beauty a daily discipline as important as any other ✨a reclamation of childhood ✨cultivating a deep love of learning ✨utilizing nature, projects, and great literature to learn concepts ✨seeking growth instead of a checklist ✨becoming a student of my own child ✨full freedom for our faith to be integrated with education in a holistic way ✨and maybe most importantly, the decidedly undervalued gift of time.✨

I won’t begin to claim that we have everything figured out (not even close, as in AT ALL) or that any one decision is better than another (NO decision comes easy these days), or that we won’t ever send our kids back into a school building (because I’ve changed my mind before and might again). But I will say that the clarity, peace, and assurance our family has felt about this direction for this season has been supernatural and surprising.

Now don’t mind me while I nerd out over our Little House on the Prairie books that amazon just delivered (🤓📚YES!!) I may not be the smartest or the most patient teacher, but surely being a bookworm at heart & caring too much about spelling and grammar (😂) will serve me well in this new calling. WHATEVER you’re doing for school this fall: let’s do it WELL friends❤️

(*If you are even mildly curious about homeschool, I highly recommend starting with reading the book Wild + Free @wildandfree.co ).

Thanks to all of my HS friends who have patiently answered my questions and helped guide us as we get started ❤️ I’ll be sharing more about our approach and curriculum in a later post.

What is your family’s plans for school this fall?

Look up, child.

Friend. How’s your soul? Does it feel heavy? I know mine does. 
I am so deeply burdened for my city and nation right now. 
Does it all feel like too much to you, too? 

I have spent so much time looking around at what’s happening, assaulted on all sides from the groaning of our broken world. Constantly looking left, right, left again.
Pandemic, loss, death. 
Instability. Uncertainty.
Racial division, protests, riots.
And repeat. 

A news ticker streams relentlessly in my mind, regurgitating bits and pieces of headlines, distracting me throughout my day (and night…anyone else?) So much time spent looking around that I realize I’ve almost entirely forgotten how to look UP. 

Yes, UP. 

In the midst of this dark time, we are desperately searching for hope at ground-level, feeling around for it blindly and coming up completely empty-handed. But this should not surprise us. Why? It’s simple. Real hope isn’t found here. It doesn’t originate here. 

Hope is a heavenly entity. 

Listen closely: This is not some weak Christian platitude. No, this hope I’m talking about is living Hope. It’s real and it’s powerful. That’s because Hope is a Person. Jesus.

Earthly hope is crossed fingers at best, but heavenly Hope is guaranteed to not let you down.


So if you find yourself on your hands and knees, fumbling around in the dark, feeling for answers and remaining continually discouraged, I’d tell you you’re actually closer to hope than you might think. Stay on your knees – keep that posture – but lift your chin and direct your gaze heavenward. 

It’s time to quit searching horizontally for what can only be found vertically. 

Here is some balm for your soul. Read these next paragraphs with purpose (maybe slowly or aloud or multiple times) so they don’t just pass through your lips but they also infiltrate your heart.

I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2). Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:1-5)

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor (1 Peter 1:3-7)

*emphasis mine

Because “he turns his ear to listen, I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:2). Kneel in humble prayer and agree with the Spirit. Don’t know what to pray? Ask him to direct your paths and use you as a vessel of Light. Clenched, anxious fists? Open them in surrender. Open the pages of your Bible and seek him. Find the scriptures written above, highlight them, ask God to help you believe them. When we look to him, (can you believe we even get to look to him?), he will not look away

When we remove our gaze from this world and place it on Jesus, and an exchange takes place. Sorrow for joy. Mourning to dancing. Trials to triumph. Darkness for light. Burdens for relief. Chaos for calm. When your burden is being carried by Jesus instead of you, you’re freed up to move toward taking back ground for the kingdom of God.

Can you see it now? The more we behold him, the more we are made into His likeness, and the more his Light permeates the heavy darkness we find ourselves in. And the best part? His Light, his glory, is transformative. Meaning, it has the power to bring about actual change in people.

He transforms. He restores. He makes all things right and beautiful again.

He is able. And in turn, he enables us.

So, as Lauren Daigle would say, look up, child. Lock eyes with the Savior. Let your life be a holy broadcast of Living Hope. Our world needs it.

A Decoupage Birth Story, Part IV

If you haven’t already read the other parts to this story, click HERE to get caught up.

*SNAP

I hear my necklace break, in the same way a vivid dream can startle you awake, I am suddenly wide-eyed. 

I glance around but before I can register where exactly I am, I notice a small heaviness on my chest. 

I blink, look down, and there she is, clutching the chain of my necklace in her impossibly small fist. Here in the quiet calm of the early morning, I finally meet my daughter for the first time. It takes a minute for me to determine I’m no longer deep in dreamland. This is in fact, real. SHE is real.


keep reading…

A Decoupage Birth Story, Part III

If you missed Part I, click here.
For Part II, click here.

The sleeping medicine takes effect quickly.

After some time, I wake up slightly – but only because I’m experiencing extremely intense contractions. It’s involuntary, but I can feel my body trying to escape, attempting to leave itself behind on the bed and get somewhere safe. 

As soon as the contraction ends, I’m completely knocked out again. 

//

Unbeknownst to me in Ambien-land, the following takes place: 

Within just a few hours, I go from hardly 3 cm dilated to a full 6 cm. They order my epidural and Brandon texts my mom to alert her that labor is picking up, and she heads back to the hospital. It’s my assumption that the medication caused my body to relax so much that labor was able to progress very fast.

I am so out of it from the sleeping medication that I am utterly unaware of getting my first epidural. (I hope that conveys my level of “unconsciousness”!) It takes a team to hold me in place: Brandon, my mom, and a nurse while the anesthesiologist works in between my wake ups and contractions. Contractions are only minutes apart at this time.

A Decoupage Birth Story, Part II

If you missed Part I, click here.

Our third baby, a girl, yet unnamed, had been in a transverse (sideways) position for much of my pregnancy. In response, I ventured out to chiropractic appointments multiple times a week, utilizing a specific type of chiropractic care called Webster’s technique. I was familiar with Webster’s because it had been successful with Finn, my second baby, who was breech for almost the entire pregnancy.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about this baby’s positioning; it was the main subject of so many of my prayers. I even recruited my close friends and family to make it a matter of their prayers, too. I felt mostly sure that she would end up head-down, allowing for a typical vaginal delivery just like I had with my other babies.

Our last photo as a family of four!

May 21, 2019. It’s the day of my induction, four days past my due date. Every last one of my babies have had to be evicted…they just get way too cozy in there. My doctor has been out of town but is now back, so it’s time to get this baby out! I sneak in a last minute chiropractic appointment (baby is head-down, best we can tell), then I rest for the remainder of the day in the living room chair I’ve claimed for the majority of this pregnancy. Soon we kiss our babies and make our way to the hospital. 

Third baby, yet it’s every bit as surreal as the first go around. 

A Decoupage Birth Story, Part I

To jump to a different part of this story, just click these links:
PART II
PART III
PART IV

My last baby’s birth story. Big, deep breath. 

It’s not the story I wanted to write. In fact, I’ve basically avoided it for a full year. 

On May 23, she turns one (!!!), and it’s finally time I share the story of how she got here. It’s a wild one, a total whirlwind, and unlike any of my other birth experiences. 

Lost Things Found

Hello, again. 

:: dust, dust, dust ::
:: sweep, sweep, sweep ::

Picture me swaying sentimentally to the “Welcome Back” song of the ’70s as I write this to you.

Somehow nearly three years have passed since I’ve entered this space. I hardly remembered how to log in and navigate the interface, fumbling around like a grandma with the latest iPhone. Bless my heart.

Life has not slowed down since my last published post here – in fact, the opposite is true. My family and I moved, I quit my job in healthcare, began writing more freelance, and had another baby – a girl – who is well on her way to her first birthday! 

Well, I say life has not slowed down, but in recent weeks it actually has. And drastically so. Our whole world came to screeching halt in the wake of a global pandemic that we’re still in the messy middle of. Does it seem like a dream to anyone else? It just doesn’t seem real. 

And maybe it’s not quite fair to say life came to a halt – certainly some things did, most things, but not everything. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that our pace is what has slowed so dramatically. Nowhere to rush to. No bustling social life. No complicated calendars. 

I can say that even as a mom with a house full of loud little kids, things are eerily quiet. Things are still. Slow. 

Slow enough to reclaim some things that have been lost.

Like, say, a blog perhaps? 

I think when this is over everyone will have a different story of the beautiful thing they reclaimed in the midst of crisis. What will yours be?

Talk soon, friends!

5am.

It’s 5am.

We see this hour together often, and I know: it could be worse. Much worse. I whisper a quiet “thank you” to you for letting me catch up on some sleep. I think sleep might be my love language.

Finn-32You’re wide awake. I’m half-asleep. I go through the motions: I nurse you and burp you, then swaddle you back up tightly, because you are without a doubt the busiest-bodied baby with the strongest startle reflex I’ve ever seen. (God? Please bless the inventor of the swaddle, especially the Velcro ones. Amen.)

You stop squirming for a second and lay completely still. With my lamp glowing in the dark, I see you look right at me. We lock eyes, and in that instant, my mechanical mommy autopilot is switched off and I’m human again. I smile silently at you, because I can’t not, and you grin back. Baby gums, dimples, squinty eyes and all.

My eyes are still tired, but now they’re alive. Bright.

I dogear that moment purposefully.

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Finn’s Nursery

Despite the fact that Finn has yet to sleep a single wink in his nursery, it’s one of my favorite spaces in our entire house.

When we found out we were having a boy, it didn’t take long for me to start daydreaming about decorating a boy’s nursery. Since Aven’s room is so girly and whimsical (post coming soon), I was looking forward to going in a totally different direction.

Brandon and I knew we wanted a feature wall where the crib was, so that was our starting point. And then after seeing this amazing nursery on Pinterest, we decided on a rustic woodsy theme, using mostly neutral colors. (I purposely steered clear from elements that make the room look too baby-ish so we can keep most of it for a big boy room later on down the road.)

I am SO happy with how it turned out! And props to my husband for building that awesome wall.

*All sources listed at the bottom. Some links are affiliate links. 

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t h r e e

Shanna-17

Aven turned three years old just ten days before we welcomed her brother. I no longer do update or milestone posts, but I want to always remember the little things about her at each age. So here is my random, stream-of-consciousness, Things I Love About Aven Harper, Age Three, along with some of my favorite photos from the last few months.

Finn-22Finn-20

My sweet Aven,

You are three! “Fwee”, as you would say. We registered you for three-year-old preschool recently, and ohh myyy. I’ve had to keep my emotions in check over that one. (It’s only 9 hours a week, I keep telling myself. And it doesn’t even start till the fall, so I have time to prepare myself.)

I know you’re going to love it.

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