It’s amazing how many times peace is right in front of my face and I still look everywhere else for it…

I’ve been overwhelmed with stormy thoughts lately. The fear and sorrow of the last 3 years–from dealing with the dark hole that was PPD to suffering through the absolute heartbreak of two miscarriages–have finally reached their peak. Throughout this pregnancy I’ve faced those demons and lies in small doses–from worrying about missing my ever important supplements just once to having to struggle to even get out baby clothes, a crib, and the other essentials for little man. There have been times where it’s felt completely terrifying to actually believe that I am still pregnant with him.

Surely by now something had to have gone wrong…  Don’t get out the clothes, he probably won’t make it anyway…   Even if you make it to a healthy birth, you’ll probably lose your mind again…  You aren’t even close to being able to handle another child…  Fear after fear wells up in my heart and overtakes my mind. Each night I lie awake for two to three hours wanting nothing more than to turn off my mind and just feel peace. Instead more often than not, I feel helpless, paralyzed in fear, and exhausted from the battle in my heart.

I wasn’t even aware of what was truly at the core of this never-ceasing fear until last night. It finally clicked. Every struggle and heartache from the past 3 years came crashing over me. I went into a full blown panic attack. I fear losing my baby boy or ending up with crushing PPD again. When I reach down deep, those are the lies I find buried in my heart. Satan is a wicked one for certain. He knows just where to hit me…he knows my weakest point.

But…there is Peace. There is Truth. There is Hope.

Tonight during our Bible story time with L, we read about Jesus calming the storm. There it is. Right in front of me–Jesus. I don’t know if it’s how this particular children’s Bible writer wrote the story, but I was holding back tears. The big storms, the ones that overwhelm and overtake. The ones that keep me awake at night. The sadness. The fear. They are too much for even the seasoned sufferer to bear alone.

But there He is with His strength and peace. He simply says, “Hush.” With one word He can not only calm my daily fears but has secured a place of ever-lasting, unimaginable peace. With one word He points me toward Himself. He intimately knows what plagues my heart. He knows the weak points and there in those times, He shows His incomprehensible strength. He knows how I try to find peace here. How I struggle to keep it all in my control. And He simply says, “Hush.”

My absolute favorite verse in all of scripture is John 16:33 where Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Through the rest of this pregnancy and after we meet our son, I am sure I will struggle to keep my heart focused on Jesus and the eternal peace He won for me . But I am even more sure that I have His grace covers each of those wavering steps.


15 Fabulous CHRISTmas Story Books!

There’s something amazingly wonderful about the Advent season. The anticipation leading up to Christmas is so exciting and I love how my daughter is old enough to start getting into the “Christmas spirit!”

To help her realize what this season is all about, we don’t do Elf on the Shelf or visits to Santa. We talk about Jesus—his birth, the angels visiting the shepherds, the journey to Bethlehem, the promise of God fulfilled on that peaceful night in the town of David.


I’ve shared before about our Advent calendar with its passages and ornaments for her little Christmas tree. This time I’ve compiled a list of our favorite CHRISTmas picture books—ones that keep the focus on Jesus, the true reason for the season. Reading to your child every day is so important for their development and incorporating CHRISTmas themed picture and board books into the mix is so much fun. We’ve even wrapped a few new ones up for Laura to open on the Wednesdays leading up to Christmas!

So take a peek. Add some to your Christmas list. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

20131202_131230 The Story of Christmas by Patricia A. Pingry, illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh

This board book is so simple that it’s perfect for introducing Advent and Jesus’ birth to toddlers and infants. The pictures keep the littles’ attention and it’s just a short 22 pages so it’s just long enough to tell the story—short and sweet.

20131202_131317 Bright Star, Bright Star by Cassandre Maxwell

This picture book is wonderfully repetitive which is awesome for literacy development in young children. I especially like how this story begins with the Wise Men being far away and stays more true to the belief that they arrived much later than the actual day of Jesus’ birth. It’s easy for littles to follow along and be able to eventually say it with you. This is by far one of the most adaptable for a little children’s Christmas program at your church or school, too!

20131202_131303  This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotton, illustrated by Delana Bettoli

Of all of the Christmas picture books we have, this is by far my favorite. The pictures are stunning, filling the pages with beautiful colors and details. The mesmerizing display of the angels singing to the shepherds in the fields is one that sticks with me each year. It really takes you away to that stable, far, far away.

20131202_131134  The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

This children’s bible is truly like no other that I’ve read. It seamlessly weaves the story of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus throughout each and every story. I’ve never recommended a book as often and with such great reactions upon purchasing as this book. If you buy the deluxe edition it comes with the entire book on cd read in such a captivating way. It’s truly one of a kind. I cannot adequately describe how much I LOVE this children’s bible!

Below I’ve posted titles and amazon links for as many of our CHRIStmas themed children’s books as I could find. I hope you’ll add some to your collection this Advent season as we all get ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Christ the Savior is Born by Tim Wesemann 

What Star is This? by Joseph Slate

An Angel Came to Nazareth by Anthony Knott

No Room at the Inn: The Nativity Story by Jean M. Malone

The First Night by B.G.Hennessy

On This Special Night by Claire Freedman and Simon Mendez

Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate & Ashley Wolfe

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Away in a Manger-Thomas Kinkade Studios

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier

***If you have a favorite CHRISTmas children’s book, please let me know! I’d love to check out more books! Post it in the comments below!***

_________ versus _________

I’ve learned in a very short time how many decisions a parent needs to make. For the past year+, the hubs and I have been bombarded with information, opinions, books & articles from experts, nudges from well-meaning family & friends…enough to give me an ulcer, make my head spin, & literally cause me practically a nervous breakdown at the same time. Here’s the short list of the things that we as first time parents have “had” to think about:

  • obstetrician or midwife
  • hospital, birth center, or home birth
  • find out the sex or let it be a surprise
  • natural birth or epidural
  • breastfeeding, formula feeding, or combo
  • get LL vaccinated or wait and see
  • co-sleeping or bassinet & crib
  • no cry or cry it out sleep training
  • baby-wearing or allow LL independence
  • stay at home mommy or working mommy
  • in-home babysitter, small daycare, or larger center
  • disposable or cloth diapers
  • rice cereal or oatmeal
  • pureed foods or baby-led weaning
  • homemade baby food or store bought
  • conventional or natural & alternative remedies for LL’s ears

And those are only the items I can list at this moment! For the longest time I agonized over these decisions….until the other day at LL’s 9th pediatrician appointment in 6 weeks. She had just received her second of three horribly painful Rocephin injections in an attempt to beat this awful, seemingly never-ending double ear infection. I was emotionally, mentally, & physically drained and was pleading for her to be better. But, she needed yet another injection. I fought back tears as my sweet baby girl was holding her breath in pain & then let out a wail that still causes me to cringe & choke up when I think about it. I couldn’t think of anything to soothe her. No matter what I tried I felt helpless as she just screamed in agony. By God’s grace I began singing “Jesus Loves Me,” the KV version:

Jesus loves you this I know
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you…the Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves you, He who died
heaven’s gates to open wide.
He has washed away your sin
letting little Laura in.
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you…the Bible tells me so.

Amazingly she calmed almost instantly & began to smile. I could have cried for joy. A few days later as the hubs (& in my opinion the best daddy around!) was singing the same song to LL, he leaned over and said: “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

In that single moment I realized that the only decision that has eternal importance for LL is that we teach her who her Savior is…that she know Jesus. We had her baptized the day after she was born. We pray with her. We sing “Jesus” songs & hymns to her. We take her to church with us to hear God’s glorious word. Of all the things that we “need” to make sure she knows, our single most important mission is that we raise this precious gift of God as a Christian doing everything we can to ensure that she will spend eternity with God. None of the rest of it is worth losing sleep over. While we will use our God-given intelligence to make the best choices for our family in our circumstances, in the long run, the only choice that I will always rest peacefully with is teaching her God’s word every day. There is an indescribable calm and strength like none other as a parent when you realize that simple truth.

That, my friends, is goodness defined.

LL’s favorite book! How I love watching her smile as she sings along in her beautiful baby babbling!