You May Remember When Your Shoes Felt A Little Too Big

I see you in the back of our minivan. You are strapped into your carseat and you are trying so hard to crank your neck over the high back to join in on the conversation your two big brothers are having behind you. All the cranking and trying is frustrating for you because you are strapped in too tight and those big boys in the third row can’t seem to hear you anyway.


I see you there. The third brother but not the baby. The baby sister you hold dear is sitting on your right.

I see you sitting there with those light up Spiderman sandals. The ones I pulled out for you just a week ago. I know those sandals have seen two spring and summers before they have graced your feet. I know they are a whole size too big. But for now, you don’t seem to mind. I think of the pants you wear that are almost always worn down to their last threads around the knees. The pants that have reprised for the third time. The shirts that have been stained from years past. The hand-me-downs that are worn with grass stains and stories from previous summers.

I wondered today if you’ll ever grow up and think about why you almost never had a new pair of shoes or a new pair of pants. I wondered if you will remember when your shoes felt a little too big.

I was sad for you for a minute because I know how this kind of thing can develop in the story of a child and get tangled up in hurt and pain. I was sad because I know you never get first pick when it comes to Halloween Costumes or which movies we watch.


Being the third brother, I know, is tough. It is tough now and it will be tough as you grow into a boy and a man.

I think about you and those light up shoes that are one size too big, your pants with holes and your shirts with stains.

I hope when think of those shoes you will remember the hand-me-downs, you love those light up shoes. But I hope you won’t stop there. I hope that you will not measure your worth on the things you had that were brand new with stickers and tags versus the things that you had that came up from storage and were a reprise of you big brother’s last summer.

I want you to always know the big love that we all have for you. Even brand new shoes and pants off the rack could never express how much big love we have for the third brother with those light up shoes that feel just a little too big.

I want to give you the world. I want you to feel important and unique and worthy. I just don’t go about it by buying you new shoes or new clothes every season.

My love for you is deeper and richer than things.

My love is more deeper than shoes that are one size too big.

My love is richer than reprised pants.

My love sees you. My love sits with you when you are sad and laughs with you when you are happy. My love holds you when you are sick and carries you up the stairs every night.

My love will stay with you and never leave, even when your feet grow up and out of those little light up shoes and you move on to more new-to-you shoes and new-to-you seasons.

As you grow you will learn that these things are worth so much more than clothes with new tags or shoes fresh out of the box.

I’m not a third child so I don’t know what it is like to be stuck somewhere in the middle or towards the end with the shoes that are a little too big and the reprised pants. But I wondered today. I saw you today.

I saw that perfectly unique and special boy who sits right behind the passenger seat of my minivan. That special boy who gets to give new adventures to those shoes that are too big, new stains to the old shirts, and the one who gets to tear the hole all the way through on those reprised pants.

I see you. And you are deeply and richly loved. Much more than shiny new shoes or a fresh pair of pants.

Because A Mother Is Beautiful All By Herself

There was a time not too long ago when I didn’t want to have my picture taken. Sometimes I was the one taking the pictures but other times I just didn’t want to see myself photographed. I was unhappy with the way I looked and I did not want my children to remember the time when mommy’s hips were more rounded and her face was a little fuller.

Specifically I remember being at a baseball game and I was gathering my boys close for a picture of them with their rally caps on. A young guy in the row in front of us sweetly turned around and offered to take the photo for us. He immediately looked puzzled when I quickly declined and told him I wasn’t planning on seeing myself in pictures for at least ten more years.


That was really true and there it was: Out of my mouth my heart spoke the words: I am not beautiful enough to be remembered for who I am, right now, just this way. 

I have heard this story before. My mom rarely wanted to be photographed while she was battling cancer while I was a child. I hear my grandmother tell me, she did not want you all to remember her that way. I love my mother and that was her wish but now here I am left without her and I barely have any pictures with her and me in them. I cannot think of more than five photos I have of her and me together from the age of five until she passed away when I was fourteen.

To me she was beautiful.

As a child, I didn’t see a bald woman or a woman with only one breast. I saw my mother. And a mother is beautiful all by herself.



To my children, a mother is beautiful all by herself.

There will be a time when I am no longer here on this earth and my sweet children will be longing for memories of me. My children will not be concerned about my chin, my dark circles, or my roots that should have been touched up last week. My children will just want to see me. And them. They will want to hold something more tangible than a memory that puts me with them in that place at that time.

Our children don’t care how we look for the camera, because to them, a mother is beautiful all by herself.

You can see I have some unraveling to do when it comes to this whole idea of being beautiful. Just the way I am. Right now. In this time. In this place.

I will tell you I know what the Bible says about being beautiful. I will even tell you I have those verses memorized.  But even though I know what the Bible teaches on a cognitive level about beauty –  it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the attitude of my heart and my unwillingness to be photographed show a tangled up mess of belief and unbelief when it comes to my appearance. What I believe and what I actually do just don’t match up.


As God has been faithful to work on my unbelieving heart I can see the places where I have the “beliefs of the world” tangled up in what is true about beauty from the passages of Scripture.

I’ve realized that to the people who matter, a mother is beautiful all by herself.

God speaks to beauty in His words to us in the Bible and according to Him our beauty has nothing to do with the amounts of hairs on our head, the clothes that we wear or what the scale is saying about us on any given day.


“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3)

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on appearance. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful.” Song of Solomon 1:15


God’s words in the Bible do not say the same things the world is screaming to us about beauty. It is challenging to unravel the untruth from the truth. Mostly because as a mom, I am constantly surrounded by a world telling me to be thinner, to wear the latest trendiest boots, to be a hot mommy, to make sure my thighs aren’t touching. I could go on for days. Days.

God is telling us from His word that beauty comes from the blatant opposite or what our world tells us is beautiful.

Beauty comes from giving up of yourself. And chasing after Good.

Beauty does from bravely enduring hardship. Like my mother. She is a heroine and I just won’t stop saying that.

Beauty is a mother. Giving up herself. 

A mother is beautiful all by herself. A mother doesn’t need to hit that weight loss goal, make her hair the right color or wear the trendiest clothes. To God, your husband, you children, none of that matters. They want you in those photos. I know. And I am telling you.

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful.” Song of Solomon 1:15

Go and be photographed. Hang those photos on the wall and post them to Facebook. Because a mother is beautiful all by herself.

They Can Hear You

We have kids. A few of them. Four to be exact and we had them all right in a row. Our three sons came first within three years of one another and then our daughter is our youngest. Our oldest will begin kindergarten in a few weeks which means for the last few months I have had the opportunity to take all four of my small children out into the world with me wherever I go.

If you have young kids, or have encountered anyone with young children, or even if you’ve read my blog before, you will not be surprised to hear the comments I have received when I venture out into the big world with my small family.

You have your hands full. 

Do you know what causes that to happen? 

Wow. Are they all yours?

Three boys, bless your heart.

You got your girl. (This is a new one.)

And recently my favorite, Wow, you are either crazy or very unlucky.

Now, I am not saying all of these comments are said with ill will or evil intent. Sometimes my four small children hanging off the Kroger shopping cart is quite a miraculous thing to see. Not everyone is out and about with all their children and I understand that when you see us you don’t know what to say. So one of the above comes out… (hopefully not the last one.)

For the last year I have processed these phrases I hear when I am out only thinking about how the words made me feel. It wasn’t until today that this has changed.

A kind man passed us by in the parking lot and said one of the above phrases. He was kind. He was applauding all my efforts. He was not intending evil but my four year old commented, “I heard that.”

He heard it.

For all these years it has slipped my mind that my children are hearing these phrases with their functioning ears and active minds.

They can hear the comments, see the looks and interpret the phrases. This has completely changed the way I think about hearing “you’ve got your hands full” when I am out in the world with my young family.

They can hear you. My kids can hear you.

What broke my heart in that moment was the sadness in my little one’s voice, “I heard that” was said with sorrow. He wanted me to know he can hear the words too. He is standing right there.

He is not a circus act. He is a person, a person created by the Most High God and perfectly placed in our young family at just the right time and that Most High God perfectly placed just the right amount of months…and days…and years in between all four of my young kids.

My children are not accessories in the stroller or shopping cart, they are people and they can hear you.

I began to imagine what it has been like for them to hear the uncomfortable phrases for all these years. Especially when someone calls me unlucky to have them or comments something implying that my boys were just unsuccessful attempts for my prize daughter. They probably have felt hurt, mistreated and unwanted when we are out in this big, big world.

I know my husband has his hands full with me but no one would say that aloud to him when I am standing right by his side. Any person would avoid saying, “is she yours?” It’s just bad manners.

Why in our culture have we deemed it acceptable to say things about children we would never say about adults?

My kids can hear what you are saying. I want you to know. You comment is ringing in their ears.

As a mom, I fight to teach my kids that they are important and loved by the Most High God. I fight to teach them they were brought into the world for a purpose, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I fight to teach them they are precious to me because they are precious to God. Their existence is not unimportant or invisible to God.

God sees my kids hanging off the cart. God always sees them and He knows my kids by their names. God sees them as important. God knows all four of my kids so intimately that He knows the numbers of hairs on each of their heads.

So if you know they can hear you and you know God does not think of them as a handful, or a curse, or an unsuccessful attempt to have a daughter does this change how you might respond to us when you see us in the aisles of your grocery store?

Knowing they can hear you changes the way I think about “this way we have learned to talk about children” in our culture that is just bad manners.

I would like to share some encouraging comments I have received in hopes that we can redress these awkward encounters with the truth about children. I hope we can fight to redress the awkward comments to reflect how God views having lots of young kids hanging off shopping carts.

Next time try one of these instead…

Look at all your beautiful children. 

The Lord has truly blessed you. 

I bet those boys love their little sister.

What nice boys and girls you have, I’m sure it’s not easy for them to tag along on errands with mom. 

Pslam 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

They can hear you. I hope this might help you think about how you are talking about them.


Why Gerber Is A Fine Choice


I sat there in the restaurant with my husband and four children praying for the sweet mercy of Jesus to rain down on us so we could enjoy a nice lunch out sans meltdowns.

When the server came to take our order I knew my five year old was going to order some kind of seafood.

He asked for the shrimp.

The waitress asked if he wanted them fried or grilled.

He wanted grilled.

The server then asked if he would like fries or vegetables.

He wanted vegetables.

I sat there amazed. My other two sons only want to eat fries and chicken nuggets and cookies. And dip. Lots of dip. I even saw one of them slurp their dip up the straw from across the table.

I wrinkle my nose when I hear someone saying that homemade baby food makes better eaters.

My first born child is the one who ate only gerber baby food. The non organic kind. I fed him fruits first, not vegetables.

This was exactly what you weren’t supposed to do! But I was a new mom and trying to figure this new little baby out. I did not have time to make homemade baby food.

Everything your supposed to do to create a “good eater” I skipped or did backwards and here he is making great independent choices despite what was on his spoon when he was six months old.

I used to feel tremendous guilt over the store bought baby food. I was ashamed of my mothering and I had visions of my first born growing up to only eat donuts and happy meals.

Eating store bought baby food didn’t mess him up too bad at all. My first born is a great eater. He has been known to go into a panic at bedtime if he realizes I failed to let him have fresh fruit that day and has also been known to request a salad in the drive thru at Wendy’s.

My other two sons, the ones who love fries, chicken nuggets and cookies were fed all organic homemade baby food. Yep. All that hard work of grinding and blending and freezing to start them off on the right foot and they’re the ones slurping the barbecue sauce up their straws.


Same with the diapers. I’ve heard it rumored that cloth diapered children are easier to potty train.

My oldest son wore pampers for every single diaper change until he was twenty-five months. He was potty trained in about two weeks. Even overnight he rarely needed a pull up. He was completely diaper free well before two and a half.

My other two have both worn fuzzi bunz cloth diapers. (Which I love.) However, my three and a half year old still loves to poop in his diaper. He really does. Loves it. He tells me he loves it too.

So I am here to testify that I think our kids are going to be themselves no matter what efforts we go to when they are little.

There are myths that say homemade baby food produces better eaters and cloth diapering makes potty training easier.

It is true both save money. It’s true both are better for our environment. But I wouldn’t give homemade baby food or cloth diapers any more credit than that.


As parents we sometimes hold on too tightly to the latest trend and work ourselves to death grinding out that organic baby food or washing mountains of poopy diapers because we’ve heard the myths.

Our kids are going to be who God made them to be no matter what. One choice is not better than the other. They are just different choices. My gerber baby just ordered a healthier lunch than I did at a restaurant and frequently requests salads at the drive thru at Wendy’s. (I’m thirty and I never go to Wendy’s for their salads.)

Nothing I have done has taught him to eat the way he does. It’s who he is.

If your fretting about the cloth diapers and homemade baby food, forget about it. It is great for saving some money but your child will not be a horrible eater or a delayed potty trainer if you opt for gerber and pampers on your registry instead of the homemade baby food maker and cloth diapering starter kit.

Give yourself grace.

Pampers and gerber are great, healthy, normal choices for babies.

My gerber baby is doing just fine.

My other two, I’m afraid. We need to work on slurping the condiments up the straws thing.

And who knows what my fourth child will be like. She’s been eating gerber thus far because I am just too tired to add one more extra thing to my agenda.

The difference this time around is, she can eat the gerber and I have freedom from my guilt because I know she will be just fine no matter what her first foods might be.

I am praying for the sweet mercy of Jesus she will be potty trained before three and a half. I’m about to lose my mind with potty training my second child.

This post is just based on my experience with my four kids five and under. Your story may be different and that’s okay. Neither choice is better or worse. Just different.

Why The Twos Aren’t Terrible

I cringe every time I hear someone say the phrase.

It’s like anticipating a great meal at a restaurant and someone tells you, oh… but it’s terrible. Or the movie you’ve waited to see all year gets a terrible review and you read it right after purchasing your ticket.

Hearing the phrase “terrible twos” can be a major let down. It sets young mothers up to anticipate a year of pure horror. I cringe when I hear a more experienced mom telling a newer mom these words. It makes moms look at the year of two through a lens of negativity, anticipating the worst.

Now in all seriousness, I am a realist and I don’t live in on a fluffy cloud of sparkles with rainbows and unicorns. My children are just like all other children. They throw tantrums and disobey my voice. My children are opinionated, strong willed and have been found to lay face down on the floor crying during church. But my children are far from terrible.

My oldest is four and a half and my second born turns three in a few days. I am not an expert but I have recently lived through two (almost) consecutive years of life with a two year old (I have a twenty one month old as well so I am on the brink of another stab at it).

And I will say it. The twos aren’t terrible at all and I really wish I would stop hearing the bummer phrase. I am really on a mission to stop the phrase all together.

The year of two should be called “The Passionate Twos” instead.

Okay, so the alliteration is not there but the terrible defined is: to cause great fear or alarm or even dreadful.

In contrast, passionate defined is: capable of having or dominated by powerful emotions.

Have you ever looked at a two year old and sensed great fear?

The Passionate Twos

I don’t sense great fear looking at that baby face.

But The Passionate Two Year Old is very capable of having powerful emotions (like: laying face down on the floor and crying their sweet little eyes out).

They cry big but the laugh big and love big too.

The Passionate Two Year Old is learning to express what they want.

Instead of a “grown up” nonchalant eye roll or deep sigh, twos only know how to lay on the floor and cry.

And I don’t blame them either. A two year old does not yet have the social cues to know that it is unacceptable to lay on the floor and cry and a two year old has not quite learned how to deal with disappointment because they have experienced very few disappointing circumstances in their short seven hundred and thirtyish days of living.

Really, since birth a two year old has (pretty much) gotten what they needed when they needed it.

Diaper changes, food, sleep and playtime and then when their little brains start thinking in their own way and hear the word “no” we as adults have decided to call the The Passionate Two Year Old, being dominated by intense emotion, terrible or dreadful.

Why do we do that? And why do we then feel like we are important enough to turn around and let younger moms know “what is coming.”

How could this be terrible?


How could someone who wants to “be cozy with you” be terrible?

How could someone who builds a tall tower for the first time and says, “I did it mommy” be terrible?

Two year olds go through so much change and we should give them more credit. Their ability to speak and reason change dramatically in their second year and most two year olds change to a toddler bed, get a new sibling, give up their pacifiers and learn how to use the potty in the year of two.

That is an enormous amount of change for a little one.

As adults we ask two year olds to cope with so much and then gasp when they express intense emotion.

I think two year olds are pretty amazing.


And sweet.

But just because they are passionate does not make them terrible at all.

If you are expecting, have an infant or a one year old please know what is coming next is not terrible, dreadful or a year of intense fear.

The year of two is teaching your precious, sweet, curious child to deal with their intense emotions they are experiencing for the first time like disappointment, jealousy, envy and loss. (I honestly know many adults well into their thirties who don’t handle any of those emotions very well yet.)

The year of two is filled with some of the best story times, longest snuggles, I love you mommys, first sweet thankful prayers, bear hugs, imaginative play and curiosity that cannot be harnessed.

Advocate for your Passionate Two Year Old and stop saying “Terrible Twos!”

Sheesh, two year olds are not terrible at all.

Happy Birthday Sweet Asher, your passion, sweetness and curiosity have inspired this post and made me a better mommy.


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