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You Said Her Name In That Way {an Easter morning meditation*}

Doorway

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him,“Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). – excerpt from John 20:11-18*

You conquered the world’s limitation, and You called her by name.

She stumbled, unknowingly, to the rock which held resurrection’s imprint. She hadn’t received Your words of promise. She lived her years beside You, but didn’t understand You. She wept for a loss that was, instead, great gain.

Mary’s easter Sunday was still the dark, black night.

This is the flesh You came to save.

You didn’t chastise her lack of expectation or her mourning as unnecessary.

You called her by name. … continue reading ‘You Said Her Name In That Way {an Easter morning meditation*}’…

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Latest Morning Chai Devotion

You Made a Daughter of Me {an adoration meditation}

Girl

 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18**

I think of them — those little ones under my roof and their friends on the other side of the ocean — but You, also, think of me.

They came to us with parched lips and cracked skin and hearts clamoring for the delight of another in them. They were famished, inside and out. Hungry for a Father’s touch.

And I came to You, fully robed and well-fed, with parents at every game and recital, yet You still saw the orphan parts of my heart that needed Your promise. You knew the wholeness I craved was one that only Your Spirit could fulfill.

You made me ..read more

Recent Postings

My Birthday Gift

Balloons

Today is my birthday. For many years, birthdays have brought with them a weight. I’d feel them approaching with a subtle, hardly identifiable dread. They were like an hourglass, reminding me — the one who was desperately clinging to hope — of what still hung in suspension, all while time progressed. No surprise, this birthday feels a little different. And in honor of both the shift of outward life and all those years where the outward hung, stationary, but the inner flame grew I have a gift to give YOU on my birthday. Read through to the end for details …

That lump in my throat — sometimes it might as well be permanent, it’s so ..read more

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Playing with Fire {for the one who is waiting}

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I pushed the cart through the last-minute Valentine’s Day bustle, collecting bananas and strawberries and graham crackers (all for our fondue family tradition), appreciating that I had a distraction. But the thoughts of what might yet be weren’t polite to wait their turn.

I’ve never been this close to having my ages-old prayer take tangible shape, I thought, as I scooted through the mass.

Yes, you have! came another. You know you’re playing with fire here, to hope.

The rest of the evening went much like this. Little brown fingers and faces cloaked themselves in chocolate. We laughed by candlelight, celebrating what we loved best about each other. And my mind entertained thoughts elsewhere.

We’d decided the next morning that I’d confirm ..read more

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Pressing Pause

LucyOPhotofilmfamily002

Rest. Breathe. Inhale.

The theme of my Year to Trust Wildly has morphed its way into rest (because a weaned  child is a trusting child and rest is one of the indicators that a wee-thing has found trust in the arms of another).

The irony of this theme is that our bedrooms are teeming with children and we spent nearly 30 days of this summer on the road in four (plus) cities and my body is in the final stages of preparing to birth this boy. Those things, alone, tip the scales on the other side of what one might assume is rest.

But His call to me in this season hasn’t changed. It’s as if He keeps saying: it’s ..read more

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What You Said {with August adoration printable}

Nightime Adoration “When my soul begins to tremble and I feel panic settling in, praying adoration has begun to un-strangle me. Praying God’s attributes back to Him has been a life-changing practice that has me falling even more in love with Jesus.”

This is one of the reminders I’ve had drop into my inbox that I’m not the only one being changed by adoring this God-Man. He’s moving you, too, in your closets and over your sinks and on your morning commutes. And another …

“I downloaded your July Adorations and began to focus my heart there, on Him, as I had my quiet times over subsequent days. THAT has been my rescue, the place of safety that has ..read more
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Some Favorites for Your Friday

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“God walked through a door into someone’s home,” she said, recounting how merely listening to the gospels on audio surfaced new understandings and angles of Him. We laughed at this notion, so small, that has implications so big. And we gleaned.

One of the most tangible ways, outside of my home, that I am seeing the layered diversity of how our God shows up is in this group of women that I rub elbows with each Wednesday. A commentary may make the heart of one race, while another shares what He whispered in her basement laundry room. Each one of us lives Him, so very different, and our letting a room enclose our thoughts and hearts ..read more

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Why I Adopt {the first half of the story}

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{If you haven’t yet, read the precursor to this post, which is actually the second half of this story.}

And this is how I found the heart at the center of justice …

College witnessed his first growth spurt. By what can only be attributed to the hand of God, Nate landed himself amid a group of boys (ready to be men) who had an early understanding that no part of knowing God was passive. They had a zest for life and for Him and for a life in Him that wasn’t just attractive, but was real.

They wrestled in the basement of this house-made-into-bullpen — pushed the furniture back and let the floor absorb their sweat as they sought ..read more

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Why I Adopt {the second half* of the story}

Feet MJ

We wait under fluorescent lights for the girls to file in. Though there are some new faces each month, the veterans’ familiarity with us sets all the girls at ease. They know what to expect this night, these children of routine and rhythm, whose variables have been eliminated so that they might have one last chance at childhood peace.

They bound in, freshly showered — though many of them with hair in knots. Their locks are missing a mama’s touch.

All are dressed for bed but with hearts ready for play.

We’ve been instructed not to hug or hold, as touch has been a weapon wielded against many of these innocents. We’ve come somewhat in stealth to this secular ..read more

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Those Years When Her Body Knew No Embrace, and He Loved Her

Girl Holding Flower MJ

She let me in on the conversation in her head as she casually cut tomatoes on the kitchen counter.

“I can’t believe all those years in Africa I never knew what a hug was.” Said just as matter-of-fact as “Mommy, these tomatoes are ripe,” her words pressed, heavy, on my chest.

What was enabling this kind of adult-like retrospection? Nate and I have grown to live in this sort of analysis of our children. When she pulls back and her body stiffens as I lean in, compassion comes when I understand her history. And when I bristle at toddler-like behavior in her big-girl body, it’s obvious I’ve forgotten where her feet have walked.

But how did she get ..read more

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The Sand-Filled Bathing Suits of Summer (a post for the rule-following mama)

Balloons

Six people and all of our detritus for a month fit snuggly into the once-new-to-us suburban — that in two years of our vigorous use has become rusty, old. We belted songs, loud, and listened to books and counted hawks on telephone wires all the way across middle America. All of us full of the expectation of what summer might hold.

For me, summer has been rest and rest comes from calm and calm happens when the boxes are checked and the shoes are in their bin and all the trains run on time.

But this June, He began redefining summer for me, this Lord of the seasons.

Ten days into the trip and I’m muttering to Nate from the ..read more

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The Beauty of the Unlikely {why celebrating their “gotcha days” isn’t just for them}

Gottcha Day MJ

Ever feel like you’re “here all over again”? Same face of the mountain, same trek, same mass of feelings that well right up inside of you, just a different set of circumstances to ignite them.

We are approaching the week of celebration and I am “here all over again.” This week, every year, we remember. All four of them came into the home of our arms within days of each other (though years apart). The adoption world has termed these days their “gotcha day.”

Nate and I give them books filled with pages of pictures from their past year, making up for the years when there were no pictures. They each have a Mommy-Daddy Date – just us ..read more

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The Whisper Louder Than Noise {with July adoration printable}

Bubbles MJ

How do you pass twelve hours in the car across middle America with four children, strapped in — and not just by seatbelts but by the accumulating detritus of life “on the road” tucked between their seats, behind their heads, and under their feet?

Half way through the trip we introduced a game of questions that we’d inherited in our swag bag from this rich winter weekend, months before.

If you could spend the day with anyone, who would it be and what would you do?

Are you more like a teddy bear or a polar bear?

Name one of your favorite things about the person sitting next to you.

All kinds of questions that might typically drive my free-range husband crazy, ..read more

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Because They Cannot Repay You

Hand Shells MJ

Three weeks into summer and they’ve already logged a season full of memories as we drive our suburban across the country to visit old friends and family and fill our lungs with the salt air of the east coast. That night a few days ago that they stayed up way too late, catching fireflies under the Virginia sky just so we could linger, longer, with friends from dusk to dark, was the night I might as well have crawled back into my six year-old skin.

Fourth of July when I was six meant emptying out jars of last year’s fireflies only to catch them anew at my grandparents house by the river.

My children get a second ..read more

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Trust is a Father

Hands MJ3

He came home from a morning prayer meeting and said “I think we need to go now.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. It was as if I’d lost nine years’ work in nine seconds. Back again to newlywed – nearly heart-dead from crafting schemes to win him to my ways. All so that I wouldn’t have to trust.

“Now?” I said. Although my four-page trip prep checklist was nearly completed, we still had no sign of a court date. And the Ugandan courts closed July 15th (just a three short weeks away) for the summer recess. If we went now, we chanced staying months in-country and breathing in all the emotional and financial expenditures that come from raising ..read more

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Strong Words for the 21st Century Mama

Doorknob

You know that moment you wish you could capture in still-frame — just freeze it and frame it and have it within arm’s reach — but you know if you did it might spoil the purity of it all?

I had one of those today, interrupting my mundanity.

One of my littles was struggling again with that same old lie. I see it in her body before her words ever speak it — she slouches when it haunts her. Her eyes half-shut under the weight of those eyelids, hiding her.

Shame is her food: not as good as her siblings, never was as good as her siblings, never will be as good as her siblings. Bad, bad, bad is the ..read more

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Summer Love {with links and printables for your new season}

Girl Swing Cherish

Summer was marked for me when I was fifteen. When my curfew got extended and my alarm clock collected dust, I made a spot for myself on the old wooden swing in our backyard. On the nights when the moon hid, the spotlight off our back porch illuminated my bedtime reading.

Out with friends and back home before too late, His Word was my nightcap.

It was summer love.

I can still feel, now, how my heart quickened when I opened those fresh pages. Those Words were for me, for just that moment. He was as thick as the anticipatory night air always is in June.

He was love.

He waited for me to come meet with Him in that ..read more

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Being a Closet Radical {UPDATED with June Adoration prayer printable}

Butterfly Hand Boy

Sometimes these ears of mine, they’re clogged. I have little vignettes return to me, from time-to-time, of true friends who tried to be what friends are meant to be and I just couldn’t hear them. Then.

I can’t wait to have tea with that old college housemate who stopped me on my way up the stairs as I passed by her room with this: “You say everything’s fine — all the time. But it can’t be.” I skirted her observation, wrapped my response – your observation is wrong — in christian-ese and went on my way.

But I found out years later that she was right.

And another went like this: we were headed out of town and this ..read more

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Prayer That Breathes

Eden LT

The stoplight at the intersection of Route 250 and Old Ivy drips with memory. It always will since that night.

Just before he flipped his blinker, I told him.

“I have to talk to you about something,” I swallowed, in an attempt to force my heart back down from my throat.

“I have a problem,” I eked out and paused — but not long enough to give myself chance to consider retracting my lead-in. “All I want to do is be with you.”

He subtly accelerated through that traffic light.

I was more than outside of my comfort zone, I was outside of myself. Though he’d professed much more than this towards me days earlier I still didn’t feel safe with my ..read more

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When the Ones We Love Fail Us and What Their Failures Teach Us About Love {with May adoration printable}

Pots MJ

Disclaimer: though the title could be, perhaps, inflammatory — my sweet husband loves this post. It is written with permission ;).

We sat at a local favorite and it was all new to me. I had flown in for a weekend interview and knew nothing of how pregnant this little town was to be with the future of my heart. Conversation was easy and the third person brought in to interview me acted as if he were a rubber stamp.

I wasn’t nervous, but he asked one question of me that I knew I didn’t answer right.

“Describe to me a time you’ve failed. Big.” he said casually, as if I’d be quick to retrieve an answer. Little ..read more

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Whose Linda Will You Be?

Balloons

Mother’s Day was for hiding.

Some years it was behind my apron, fixing up a feast at home for my mother-in-law while Nate attended church, and other years it was underneath my covers, seeing this thin sheath between me and the world (which had what I wanted) as my greatest ally.

Our church seemed unusually prolific, busting at the seams with round-bellied women and diapered toddlers. It often felt like work for me to walk into a room and see them for His beauty on them and not simply as women who knew this apparent “rite of passage” — that I couldn’t quite get. At times, this surfaced envy and at others just that thick ache of ..read more

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Of My Own

Lion MJ

“If Mommy gets a baby in her belly, will you send me back?” she asked him, with nervous eyes searching the floor, inhaling the shame of those words as if they were her indictment.

It’s often near the surface for this one — not the year she was “chosen” and a mommy and daddy flew all the way across the ocean to look her in the eyes and call her daughter — but the too-many, earlier years that still seem to weigh heavier. These days, she lives buoyant and giddy. Her eyes have found a sparkle and we see them more than we see those hands that spent nearly a year awkwardly covering them. My little girl laughs. ..read more

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What I Would Say To Her

New Shoot MJ

He brought me tulips in winter and the card read: “To long, quiet love … and new life.”

They hadn’t been on my counter for 12 hours before he awoke to my sobs from the other room.

Could it be? Could it really be?

We found each other in the dark and wept a new kind of tears over this heartache that had the dust of nearly a decade.

Today we were crossing over Jordan.

Though it was February, this portion of our lives – still hanging in the balance of winter — was over.

Spring had come.

My womb had opened. I was carrying a child, within.

We lingered for weeks into months cupping our hands around this sacred secret.

It even feels ..read more

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When True Hope Raises the Roof

Rainbow Cherish

Tonight was my night. I hadn’t noticed her pattern until it landed right on me. I sat down to dinner to find a homespun, little-Hagerty-made, knit purse chock full of paper cut-outs, each with one word on them. One love-letter strung across a series of scraps. And wasn’t this her life?

She’d spent her rest time each day making something new out of something old, or creating treasure from what she found in the corners of her desk drawer. All for her family.

The best part was watching her response as she gave these offerings. I couldn’t isolate what I saw from the child whose unfettered feist interrupted my expectations of family nearly two years ago. Then, ..read more

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A Week to Receive

Boy Field MJ

I stood at the starting line with split-times written on my hand beside women who looked like this was their life not their hobby. The race might have been a fun outing for the thousands lined up behind us, but for those of us who could see the starter pistol it wasn’t just about fun. It was about making our times.  I didn’t know then that this one race mirrored my life.

We were all sweating, early. Who knew it would be an 85 degree morning in September? We took off in a pack and I pressed mute on all around me: the music, the cheering, the high fives among racing buddies, the heat. It was me ..read more

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I Am the Bruised Reed

Baby Feet MJ

“It’s a bad, bad day,” I hear from the other side of the door, as the child who was just narrating her morning routine with song begins to slowly devolve into that puddle of emotions, unrestrained.

“It’s always a bad day for me. Every day is a bad day,” she says between sobs. How can the child whose mouth is so often full of praise so quickly use that same tongue to lash? Herself?

We’ve been here before. Enough times to prepare and coach when we’re not here and to pray after we’ve been here. Yet despite such focused attention, her heart-rift still lingers.

Before the sun comes up, just hours after Nate and I uttered prayers in ..read more

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Letting Words Sing Again

BranchMJ

I strained my eyes through the cracked wooden doors that hid me in my dress from the long aisle of that nearly two hundred year-old church, trying to absorb the music above the pounding in my chest. The pews were packed with those who came to see this little girl say “yes” with her life and hear those vows that would one-day make a woman out of her.

The song from our friend’s mouth, initiating the ceremony, reverberated against the stained glass and left an echo even louder in my heart. He had chosen what would be a declaration over our union, even still now. He bellowed the words of the psalmist with an emotion that ..read more

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Giving Permission to Hunger

Winter BranchMJ

After a day together — of filling up that bucket of hers with cuddles and kisses and long minutes-turned-into-hours of time, with our elbows bumping up against each others’ — came the barrage of questions.

“Can we have ice cream tonight, Mommy?”

“Can I stay up past bedtime?”

“What about a slice of your fresh bread, before dinner?

“Would I be able to get another doll?”

“Could I get a camera of my own so I can take pictures?”

They were peppered in between my instructions for setting the table and pouring drinks and picking up the days’ detritus, disguised. I didn’t catch how interconnected they were right at first. But that night I saw the pattern.

We’d been home for just a few ..read more

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A Few of My February Favorites (including an update on Stella) …

Two Girls

My best ideas are stolen from others. I’ve never been a creative thinker, just one who tries really hard to imitate others’ creativity. Pinterest would be a gold mine for me except that I’m still trying to remember to shut down my computer after use and all those windows that just keep popping up, at least once every few weeks. So this next idea, two people removed from the source — a friend shared it from something she saw on pinterest — is one that seems to be opening a window into my little girl’s heart.

We’ve become pen-pals, me and Lily. One pink moleskine journal passed back and forth between the two of us has carved a ..read more

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The Love Project

Shoes

We found each other when life felt carefree, untainted, and we forged a sisterhood over late-night daydreams of changing the world — and sugar. A decade-plus spanned the distance between those high school nights and when we were later reacquainted. As we caught up over phone calls, and, eventually, in-person visits, time revealed that we also shared scars.

I didn’t pray by her bedside when she lost her first baby and she wasn’t there to cry with me when we hit our first year of expectation, childless.

It didn’t take long through the reacquainting to realize that we understood the other’s road, intimately. We shared parallel tracks that ranged from chasing paper for Ethiopian adoptions to giving ..read more

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She Doesn’t Know She’s Beautiful

Bride

Though there were a series of stories just like these, I hold on to one. The only way I can date it is by remembering that awful blue we painted in the spare bedroom of our quaint newlywed cottage. We were painting that day.

The walls were almost dry, we were on the last coat, and maybe it was the way he painted — it likely would have been something that small — that sent my color-within-the-lines self reeling.

And I had words. Lots of them.

I had an adulthood, up until marriage, of not a lot of words like these. I was studied enough to know that these weren’t words you said out loud; but boy, did ..read more

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How to Really Fall in Love

Candles

Summer nights still hold their wonder for me after that summer following my first “yes” to Him. The light off our back-porch filled in the gaps of the moon’s light as I spent night after night on the back-yard swing poring over the pages of my Bible. Curfew wasn’t the end of those teenage nights, it was the beginning.

His Word was alive, both in me and to me.

Every night was new. This was my version of summer love.

Not too long after, I made a type-A decision to start highlighting every verse I read  from His Word (ahem …yes, every single verse) in hopes that I might one day have that Bible all painted. A shift ..read more

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Will You Sign Up Once More?

Feet

As her big day neared, we told everyone we saw about what my little girl was asking. Snow on my birthday, please, Jesus, was the prayer of this African, who had never studied the fresh flakes on her woolen mitten or crested a hill on her sled.

So many of her new-to-Him prayers had already been answered. She had prayed we would come on one particular Tuesday — a cry out of left field for a child whose paperwork was nowhere near ready to file for a court date. Little did she know that her Daddy was making the craziest move of his life and putting his family on a plane, a premature move by most standards. And ..read more

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Go Again

Holding Hands

We stand in line at the grocery store like clockwork. It’s Friday. The cashiers know my family and my children know them by name. Miss Misty is having a baby. Eden called it months before it was obvious and I hushed her in fear that she’d engaged in the taboo question all children have a hard time containing. Mr. Ty’s daddy just died. Caleb prayed for him to be healed nearly every day since he’d told us, but Mr. Ty’s heart seemed to be healed in the meantime. “I believe in God, now,” he tells them as he weighs my cucumbers. Miss Sata has a new hairstyle, again, and Mr. Roger still isn’t quite sure ..read more

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When Little Eyes Look Up

Flowers in Hand

The car was brimming with towels and snacks and goggles as they talked over the music in a frenzy of anticipation. It was a family day, a Hagerty favorite, all-around. There was a pause among their eager little voices just long enough for me to catch her mumbling.

“Looks like it’s gonna rain,” she said, louder than a whisper, but not loud enough to invite commentary.

The sky was crystal, not a cloud in sight. Rain wasn’t in the forecast for days.

Her words showed her hand. If you live by giving regular permission to worst-case-scenario expectations when they are possible, the situations that are mere longshots for disappointment still end up getting tainted with that soot.

Though my girls ..read more

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When He Makes a Misstep

Ring

We were young when Nate started his first business. Though trained in trade, young hearts need training beyond the task at hand.

Entrepreneurship was his chisel.

I wasn’t overjoyed at the route God had taken him, but I had enough years logged in marriage to have seen my natural intuition about Nate and his heart run a bit amuck. This had become the question-asking phase of my marriage. In the early years, I had answers. Lots of them. I was full of opinions about both me and him. Most of my frustrations, albeit subtle, came from his unwillingness to bend to who I wanted him to be.

But I exhausted that season (and myself) in the meantime. God ..read more

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She’s Her Mama’s Baby

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“She’s you,” he said.

The house was quiet and I was free to breathe and to let him hold the vulnerable version of me and the snowball of my questions that had accumulated between 7am and dark.

“It hasn’t been that long, has it?” His memory sharper than mine in this area.

I always knew I was his training grounds for her — but I just didn’t think God had used me to train me for her. Nate held me when I lashed out at him and wasn’t threatened by what felt like a deluge of emotions when our first year of marriage made it safe enough for me to cry. He locked the car doors when I wanted to ..read more

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Some of My 2013 Favorites … and an Update on My Favorite Story

Screen with hole

Unbeknownst to her, as she sleeps in the place she’s known as home for most all of her life, a cradle is being built for her state-side. You have held this child with your prayers. You have demonstrated His heart for her with your actions.

In my inbox this December came notices from families whose gift under the tree helped grow a new branch in that child’s family tree. And those hair stylists in Columbus, Ohio who — for six weeks — gave their cash tips towards Stella’s homecoming? Well, just one of them raised $1331 in that time.

God is alive in this story.

(And we’re still raising funds! The Wilkerson’s are over half-way towards the estimated amount ..read more

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The header and logo for this blog were designed by the wonderful and talented Dara Schwartz. The rest of the design is my husband's fault :)


Many of the photographs on this website have come courtesy of extremely talented sources. Specifically ...

Cherish Andrea Photography
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Lucy O Photography
(Charlottesville, VA)
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