Browsing Tag



I’m Thankful for the Hard Weeks

March 21, 2017


Last week Monday Joe and I had just returned from our trip out to California and I was looking forward to digging into a new week. Fresh off our trip, I had so many good ideas I planned to translate into work and great food finds I wanted to blog about. In my new schedule Mondays are always my at-home days with Ainsley. We go to music class, grab coffee, and do things like run errands, laundry, etc. But Monday morning it became very clear to me that what I thought was a toddler who missed momma was quickly becoming a toddler that was getting really sick really fast.

A day full of cuddles and Curious George gave way to a high fever, irritability and very restless sleep for six days and nights. Of course, we didn’t know that it would last so long at the time, so one day at home with Ainsley for me turned into an entire week, canceled weekend plans and a very tired, emotional and behind on work momma come Saturday. Was it the hardest of the hard? Absolutely not. Was it a really challenging and difficult week? Yes, indeed!

While I’m not eager to have a repeat of last week any time soon, as I found myself reflecting on the week we just had I realized how hard days, weeks and even months give way to such a season of gratitude in my heart. I can, like most people, become easily dissatisfied with the here and how. Sometimes I find myself trudging through a workout or not wanting to do that email follow-up that’s been on my to-do list for a number of days. Or maybe it’s the freelance bookkeeping – admittedly my least favorite part about my job – that I need to reconcile at the end of the month. Sometimes I bring a really crappy attitude to it all when I lose perspective of the gift of work and motherhood and finding a balance between the two.

But this week, with last week still very clear in my mind, I found myself SO eager, thankful and excited to do all the tasks that might otherwise seem mundane. Suddenly doing laundry, making toddler lunch, cleaning up subsequent toddler mess, working through emails and making the bed had an added layer of sparkle. Heck, I was just glad we weren’t watching the same 10 episodes of Curious George over and over! But most of all I was very thankful to have my bright, expressive and even strong-willed toddler back. Seeing her listless and sick for days on end without her usual spark was so incredibly sad; even though I don’t relish the meltdowns and battles of the will that come with this age, I found myself thankful that she was feeling good enough to show off that spunk.

For me, I think one of the best and most difficult parts about motherhood has been that it teaches reliance on God by stripping you of the things you think you need the most. Basic needs like sleep become a rarity and personal space, which for an introvert like me is crucial, can be stripped in an instant. And while it’s important to find rest in the margins of motherhood, God’s grace and sufficiency becomes clear when we don’t have the things we “need” to lean on. (Side note: God’s grace is also very evident in the form of moms who come and spend the weekend with you, organizing your house and doing your laundry…)

I have a feeling that in eight weeks or so, with baby girl is here, I’ll be coming back to read this post and preach to myself as I learn to navigate life with two little ones. ūüôā



seeking, seeing and affirming the best

December 14, 2016


Let me brag on my husband for a quick second, will you? On Monday I returned from five days away with my mom in NYC. My mom took me as her plus one on a fun work-related trip, so our schedule was predetermined, and I was a little nervous about leaving for five whole days. I’ve gone on weekends away, even four days, but five days away from Ainsley (and five days of solo parenting duty for Joe) was a first.

Now my husband, friends, isn’t one to complain. In fact I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when he did gripe or complain about much of anything. He’s my better half in so many ways. Patient, even-keeled, steadfast, adaptable. Being the parent with the flexible job, I spend quite a bit more time with Ainsley during the weekdays, so I made every effort to prepare for three different drop-offs, pick-ups and meals while I was away. Oh, and did I mention that while I was away Ainsley decided that 5:30 is her new favorite time to wake up for the day.

All things considered, I fully expected to walk into a house Monday night that looked a little messy, maybe a little out of place. My baby was happy and things had gone well while I was away, so that was my primary concern. But the house, you guys, the house! It was spotless. Ainsley was in bed. Laundry had been done and, knowing my need for a bath the second I get home from a trip, the tub had been scrubbed and thoroughly cleaned.

Such a long story, right? But the next day I found myself walking around thinking, mediating on how amazing my husband is. How selfless, skilled and thoughtful he is. How well he parents and how easy he makes it look while I’m away. And I started to realize that more often than I would like to admit, I get stuck in a pattern of picking out the bad, rather than the good, about my spouse. I think we all do, right? Little minor annoyances and things that are done differently than I would have them done. But small thing after small thing becomes what I mediate on, leaving me dissatisfied and hard to please. Not really something I hope to be known for by my husband.

Spending my day thinking about all the things my husband does well we so refreshing. Not that I walk around every day thinking about the things he doesn’t do well, but I felt a shift in thought process. Seeking and seeing the good rather than walking through my day with a perspective of correction and criticism.

This attitude and frame of thinking has so many other applications, of course. Meditating on God and His goodness. Our children and their shining qualities rather than their shortcomings. Difficult relationships in our life. Our relationship with ourselves. I’m sure it will take a little bit of practice on my part, but I hope to become a more affirming and less critical person over time, affirming the good in those around me rather than picking out their shortcomings.

Family, Infertility and Miscarriage

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

October 10, 2016
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

October is my birthday month, and it has always been one of my favorite months of the year. It’s also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a fact I was blissfully unaware of until a few years ago when I was struggling with my own feelings of loss and grief over miscarrying our first child the month prior.

I’ve been so grateful to have connected with so many of you over the years who have resonated with my posts about miscarriage. Although I was hesitant to share our journey on the blog initially, it’s been one of the greatest blessings to me, and I hope it’s been a blessing and comfort to others who know the pain of losing a baby to miscarriage.

To this day, e-mails come into my inbox on the regular. Women who, like me, were caught by surprise and shock when they miscarried for the first time. Who turned to the only place they knew they could find answers and camaraderie, the internet, and happened to find my posts on the subject. When I was deep in the murky waters of miscarriage – of blood tests and D&C’s and more questions than answers – I, too, turned to blogs that talked about the subject. I didn’t have friends or family members who had miscarried and desperately needed to connect with others who understood my pain.

I’ve learned, through loss, heartbreak and pain, that even in the valley, our God is above all things good. He cares about our pain and holds our children in His arms in heaven, even when we struggle to understand His plan. And trust me, there were/are plenty of times that I’ve questioned what the purpose of all this loss and sadness was.

Out of the women who have reached out to me via e-mail and Facebook messages over the years, there is a common thread. What these women want, more than anything, is to be validated that their pain and grief is real. For so long, our culture’s silence on the topic sends the message that the lives lost to miscarriage are not really lives at all, or at least not something that we should talk about publicly. Which is why I’ll say, and continue to say, that life begins at conception. Of that I’m certain. And that we can and should grieve the lives that have been lost in the womb, whether those lives were counted in days, weeks or months.

Thank you, brave friends, for sharing your stories with me and honoring the lives of your little ones – the ones that made you moms and gave you every reason to remember, grieve and celebrate such a precious gift.



Don’t Miss the Point

March 14, 2016


It’s no secret that Joe and I are a little bit like a 70-year-old couple. We like to go to bed at a decent hour, wake up early, watch the Nightly News after dinner and watch 60 Minutes on Sunday nights. I have no shame in my love for 60 Minutes – it always leaves me feeling a little more informed about current events and is a great conversation started for us as a couple since they frequently talk about topics that come with some degree of controversy.

Last night we watched a segment that talked about “Death with Dignity” (also called “Assisted Suicide”) for terminally-ill patients that have less than six months to live. I’m not interested in talking about the ethics of that particular topic since I’m not even sure how I feel about it personally, but it did get me thinking about death in a more general sense.

As Joe and I were laying in bed later that night, I told him that I’m deeply afraid of missing the point in this short bit of time we have on the earth. The point being that it’s not about me, but it’s about living a life that constantly points back to Jesus and our life in eternity. Thinking about death isn’t something I enjoy thinking or talking about, but I find that it’s necessary in order for me to keep life’s trials, tribulations and even successes in perspective. In a culture that is pushing, promoting, buying and marketing 24/7, I’m afraid that the true purpose of our time on earth can easily get lost in the noise.

“Be IN this world, but not OF it.”

What does that look like practically? How do you live life, make a living and pursue your passions while pointing it all back to Jesus? I’ve been mulling that over a lot lately with no great answers or resolution.

Below, I did a little “faith in the everyday” exercise to clarify WHY I do what I do, and HOW that can relate back to Jesus and my faith. If you’re struggling, like I am, with clarity of purpose in your everyday, I would strongly recommend doing the same. It was a good reminder of how I can relate the everyday back to what matters most.

Worldly Lens // I work in social media marketing for FLYJOY energy bars. My goal is to promote FLYJOY so they can sell more product.

God-Focused Lens // FLYJOY donates 10% of their sales to HOPE International to fund small-business loans in developing countries. Helping FLYJOY succeed also helps others who need assistance.

Worldly Lens // I do freelance recipe development for brands. My goal is to promote myself and my skills to make more money and get more jobs.

God-Focused Lens // God has gifted me with a passion for food and skills for recipe development. Using those skills is honoring to God. I can challenge myself to always be Christ-like in my business interactions and always hold myself to a standard of honesty and integrity they way Christ would.

Worldly Lens // I sell Beautycounter products. My goal is to sell more product to make more money.

God-Focused Lens // I believe in safer beauty products and using those products to help others live healthier, more fulfilling lives. I want to honor and cherish the body God has given me (and my family) by caring for it well. Not obsessively or excessively, but as well as I can within reason.

Worldly Lens // I blog and use social media. My goal is to gain more followers to grow my site and networks.

God-Focused Lens // My blog and social media can be a source of encouragement, so it’s my aim to use it as such. It’s my job to think carefully and be mindful of what I put on social media, making sure it’s something that is God-honoring, even if it’s about something trivial.

I’m not saying that I’ll perfect this mindset overnight, but I’m starting my week thinking about my work differently than before. Although some tasks may seem trivial or worldly or even unpleasant, even my attitude and how I approach those situations can be honoring to God.

Have a wonderful start to your week, friends!



Risen Motherhood // An interview with Emily & Laura

February 23, 2016


I’ve been excited about today’s post for weeks, you guys! As many of you know, my friend Laura blogs over at Oakland Avenue. Laura and I went to college together and then lived in Minneapolis at the same time for a couple years. While living in Minneapolis, I started reading Laura’s sister-in-law’s blog, Emily Jensen Writes. I’ve been constantly challenged and encouraged by both of these amazing ladies – their heart for the Gospel and for raising Godly children, their commitment to motherhood and family, and their conversational and encouraging writing styles.

Recently Laura and Emily launched a new podcast + website called Risen Motherhood. Trust me when I say this podcast is so heavy on the good stuff.¬†It’s incredibly encouraging (and sometimes a little convicting!) to listen to Christ-centered talk about motherhood. I feel like I have two best friends sitting in my living room with me.¬†So today Emily and Laura agreed to do a little interview/Q&A with me for Espresso and Cream readers. I hope you enjoy and I hope you’ll head over to Risen Motherhood to learn more.

RM profile picture

Questions for Emily & Laura:

Do you record your posts together at the same time? Or remotely from two separate locations? 

Emily: ¬†Oh, it would be so fun if we could always record them together in person!¬† But, since we live about 5 hours apart, we typically¬† record via Skype.¬† Because of our kids’ schedules, recording has to happen at about¬†6:00am.¬† It’s early, but it challenges us to make good use of our time and we both think most clearly in the morning.

Laura:¬†Ditto to Em. We’re usually both chugging our coffee as fast as we can before we hit record since we can’t actually drink while we record. I mean, that would be the worst sound to hear someone slurping on the show! It kills me to not drink my coffee slowly like usual, but I need the caffeine too much to wait until we’re done recording!

Do you talk together about what you’re going to say or let the conversation flow naturally?

Emily: ¬†We’ve actually tried several different strategies, because Laura and I process differently.¬† I need more notes, and don’t do well just speaking “off the cuff”, but Laura gets anxious and bogged down by too many word-for-word points.¬† So it’s been interesting finding a happy medium!¬†¬†When we get an idea for content, we ¬†discuss it informally over Voxer or Skype .¬† Once we know what ¬† the main ¬†points we want to make are , we develop a loose show outline¬† to¬†make sure our conversation stays on track.

Laura :¬†One of our biggest struggles is finding a balance between sharing stories and relatable content, while also trying to make sure key points are shared about how the gospel impacts that particular topic. Emily and I are really different in how we consume and deliver content, so it’s been interesting as we learn to work with each other’s dynamic while still feeling like we’re “ourselves” on the show. One great thing is our strengths balance each other’s weaknesses. Emily’s tendency is to keep things deep, serious and impactful, while I lean towards wanting to keep everything lighthearted, funny and relatable. But at the heart, we value making the same impact: pointing moms to Christ – so somehow, even with our different focuses, it works, and I actually think it helps us strike a nice balance on the show.

How have you decided on the topics to cover? 

Emily: ¬†Most of it is just gathered from our own life experiences – what we are learning about, what we are struggling with and so-on. If there is a topic we are both excited and passionate about we run with it!¬† We also want to talk more about unbiblical messages moms are getting on social media and on blogs – I’m pretty passionate about dispelling those “myths” or false teachings.

Laura:¬†We get ideas everywhere! Honestly, all I have to do it look at my Facebook feed and find no shortage of topics to cover. One of our biggest focuses is to flesh out content that young moms are dealing with right now – and show them a) how they’re not alone, because we struggle with the same things, b) yet at the same time encourage them to “aim higher” in their mothering towards gospel-truth. The beautiful thing is, the gospel relates to everything! Which means no topic is off limits for the show.

What are your plans for the Risen Motherhood podcast going forward?

Emily:¬†¬†I am just excited to focus on releasing helpful, quality content and getting to know our listers better.¬† Laura and I have been so encouraged by all the positive feedback and personal stories of God using this podcast in the lives of everyday moms.¬† It’s a joy to be a part of that!

Laura :¬†Right now, I’m trying to bask in the fact that the website is finally done and live! That thing was a beast to program, so it feels good to have it done. Emily and I have lots of dreams for Risen Motherhood, but right now we’re looking at adding interviews to the show and taking on Q&A’s from listeners. It’s still mind-boggling to me that we would even have listeners to take questions from!

10 Questions with Laura

Favorite food: Anything fried. Ramen Noodles. Fritos. While I have decent self-control for this stuff normally, I’ll admit that these three vices are the reason I gain so much weight while pregnant. The train of thought goes something like this: “I’m preggers. I’ll eat what I want. Bring it or I’ll bounce you with my belly.”

Number of kids you have:  Two kiddos, a boy and a girl, 20 months apart, and finally РFINALLY Рstarting to play together. Game. Changer.

Hidden talent: I have a double jointed pinky … is that a talent? What can I say, I exploit the few talents I have! Nothing’s hidden anymore!

Favorite time of day:¬† I’m all about early morning. My husband gets up and goes to work early in the morning, so I started getting up with him and it’s turned me into an early riser. I love that it’s so quiet – and dare I say peaceful? – I can get a lot done in those few hours before the kiddos get up.

Least favorite task around the house:¬† Mopping floors and baseboards. In our house we have all white trim, but usually it just looks grey because there’s so much dirt and dust on it.¬†Whoops.

Naturally messy or organized: ¬†Naturally organized, but that’s not to be confused with clean. As long as the house looks picked-up, I’m happy.¬†See “least favorite task.”

Guilty pleasure: My mom won’t like this one, but probably The Bachelor. It’s just such a game and I love trying to figure out what the producers made the contestants do, or how long they must have interviewed someone until they finally broke and cried. I just love the contrived drama of it all, what can I say?

Favorite way to de-stress: ¬†Intentionally arriving to a hair cut 30 minutes early so I can binge-read magazines.¬†Or just treating myself to a cup of coffee someone else made while I people-watch. That one’s much less expensive.

Best piece of marriage advice:¬† Believe the best in your husband. Usually, you’re wrong when you assume his motives. Trust he’s trying his best and affirm him in the process. Be his biggest fan.

Most embarrassing mom moment:¬† That time I walked around with my jeans unzipped. Oh wait, that wasn’t just one time, that was for three months straight each time I had a kid and switched from wearing maternity jeans to real jeans.¬†

10 Questions with Emily

Favorite food:  Sushi (particularly, spicy tuna rolls)  Рand I will almost never turn down a good cookie!

Number of kids you have: 4 (all boys, ages: 3.5, twin 2-year-olds, and 6 months)

Hidden talent: ¬†I would never do this in front of other adults, but I can put on a pretty great show when I read a children’s story.¬† It’s fun to be dorky around my kids!

Favorite time of day:¬†I never thought I would say this, but I love the early morning.¬† The 5:00-6:00am hour is the best time. Everything is quiet, my brain is sharp, I feel somewhat rested, the sun is rising, and I’m alone with the Lord.

Least favorite task around the house:  Unloading the dishwasher, putting away folded laundry, and making the bed. (can I have 3 least favorite things?)

Naturally messy or organized: ¬†I’m naturally messy, but have learned to really appreciate and enjoy a tidy space. Life with a family of 6 just goes so much smoother when our stuff is organized and under control!¬† It gives me more space to care for people instead of things.

Guilty pleasure: ¬†When the kids are in the car, I am selective about what the type of content they watch and listen to, which means I’m usually blaring some type of toddler tunes. So my “guilty pleasure” is listening to whatever I want on the radio when I’m driving alone!

Favorite way to de-stress: ¬†You can catch me taking long epsom salt baths while reading a book (until my water is no longer warm or I’m falling asleep).¬† When I’m really struggling to wind down, I’ll lay under my heated blanket in bed and listen to relaxing worship music. I learned that technique when I was pregnant, and I still love it!

Best piece of marriage advice:¬†(Laura and I pretty much wrote the same answer for this question, but it’s so important, I’ll say it again!)¬†Believe the best of your husband’s intentions and be his biggest encouragement. He needs to know you hold him in high regard and that you enjoy the life you have together.

Most embarrassing mom moment:¬†Pretty much anytime I’m out with my 4 kids on my own, I have an embarrassing moment (which is why I don’t do it very often). I’ve had a couple of experiences at the park or leaving bible study where I’ve had to carry them individually kicking and screaming to the car while friends helped keep track of my other kids. It’s like they sense that I don’t have enough limbs to grab them all at once, so they purposefully lay themselves on the ground or disobey. Sometimes I’m “that mom” that everyone’s NOT jealous of!

Thanks, ladies, for taking the time to share! I’m so looking forward to finding out where this Risen Motherhood journey takes you!