Sometimes I am tempted to think we don’t do much in the way of great things here during our days. But, deep down I know that is only something I should be tempted to think. Because all big things start small, and this work is largely unseen. So, I thought a list of the little (big) things would be handy in case I lose my way in all this.

We are together in our home. I am creating/defining a “normal” for them– hopefully of rich, whole, life-giving things.

We learn manners and humility together through our sharp interactions. We get frustrated, we apologize, we forgive.IMG_0860

We create bonds. Sibling, parent, family.

We show our love through words and affection.

We speak of our Creator and give thanks together.

We pray for lost buckets at the beach. And see that God cares for us in the small things.

We read books all day long. We expand our vocabulary. We expand our world. We feast on the richness He has given to us.

We eat together and look in each others eyes. And laugh. And make the less desirable food be eaten.

We play outside and notice. We see the rocks, smell the flowers, jump in the mud, stand on the ice.

We build. Legos and relationships. IMG_1119

We snuggle.

We reach out to friends, new and old. The healthy and the hurting.

We invite people to sit on our comfy couches to feel belonging.

We adventure. Parks, museums, restaurants. We see.

We celebrate each other and intentionally move our focus to the “other.”

We serve others together by bringing meals, sending cards, delighting in the making of a gift for another.

We do this life together, the hills, the valleys, the joys and the sorrows. IMG_5347


My boys.

Sometimes I look at you when you are sitting still next to each other,

and I wonder…

I wonder, how am I  your mom? And how are you my children?

How are you both so unbelievably beautiful?

I wonder what on earth I am doing with you both some days…

If I am the right mama for you…

If I am up for this big gig.

But then my heart swells with love and I move on through my insecurities.

And I am thankful.

Two precious, God-breathed souls.

My cup overflows.

An Ode to my Valentine

This past weekend was Valentine’s Day. Darren made it very special as usual. A special treat in the morning with good coffee, a fun gift to open, a handmade card from my boys (complete with a dinosaur and “human body” drawing), and a delightful dinner out while our boys were watched by my parents. I did not have much in turn to give him, so I thought I would write an ode to my sweet HB here.
As we talked at dinner on Valentine’s, we talked of present and future things and as we talked, we organically were able to see how our roles within our marriage function. Through our talk we realized that I really look out how to further the boys development and Darren really looks out for me and our marriage. He does things to take care of me so I can better take care of the boys. I think these realizations made us appreciate each other even further. And I think it was an encouragement to each other that these roles works well for us, to maintain the health of our kids and marriage. Their are of course things we can both work on and do better, but it made me so thankful for all the little ways he takes care of me.

Darren is my hidden treasure that God gave me. Here are some things I am thankful for!
• He loves me more truly and deeply than anyone else. Being a recipient of his love regularly challenges me to love better.
• He is the steady ship that rides through the waves of my emotions and feelings. He can be counted on for wisdom.
• He is probably the funniest person I know, and he always has something to say.
• Conversation is usually pretty easy for us. These are some of things I love most about him and his care for me.
• He loves God and walks with Him through life– always giving him the credit for the ways God has blessed him.
• He is a great dad, always building something, reading or teaching something interesting to them!
• He knows me better than anyone else. Being known is such a gift.

I love you HB!

2014 Music Review

This year I decided to do a top 10 list of my favorite albums rather than a top 25. For me there weren’t enough solid albums to be able put together a top 25, plus it takes a long time. But before I get to my top 10 I did want write about a few albums that didn’t make my list.

My two favorite albums in 2014 that came out in 2013 were Lorde’s Pure Heroine and Haim’s Days Are Gone. These two albums are a lot fun and come from artists who are just getting started. I’m really exiting to see what Lorde and Haim end up doing next.

Weezer released an album this year… and it’s not bad… seriously! In fact it’s their best album since Pinkerton. Everything Will Be Alright in the End isn’t ground breaking by any means, but it’s thoughorly enjoyable. If you’ve given up on Weezer, trust me, this one is worth checking out.

Sucre released a phenomenal EP back in September titled Loner. I was really hoping for a full length, but I’ll take what I can get. Loner is a lot more bombastic than their debut album and it really works. If you were a fan of their first album or a fan of Eisley or just a fan of music in general you need to give Loner a listen.

Great worship music continues to come out of the Pacific Northwest with Citizens & Saints (formerly Citizens) putting out Join the Triumph and Kings Kaleidoscope putting out Becoming Who We Are. While neither of these albums made my top 10 they are right up there with my favorite worship albums. If you’re looking for some upbeat worship with great lyrics, look no further.

Comeback Kid’s Die Knowing and Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There just got edged out of my top 10. Die Knowing is one of the best hardcore albums I’ve heard in a long time. It’s thoroughly heavy, catchy as hardcore goes, and has those great fist pumping positive lyrics Comeback Kid is know for. Are We There is Sharon Van Etten at the top of her game. The lyrics are dark and moody while the music is stunningly beautiful. It’s not hard to get completely immersed in this album. An another note, I’m pretty sure this is the first time ever Comeback Kid and Sharon Van Etten have been written about together.

And now with out further adieu, my top 10!

10. ’68 – In Humor and Sadness

I love heavy music and I love two piece rock bands. This year the band ’68 filled both of those criteria with their debut In Humor and Sadness. ’68 is fronted by Josh Scoggin formerly of The Chariot and Norma Jean and is know for adding a healthy dose of insanity to his music. This is true for the ’68 as well but being a two piece there is also an incredible amount of restraint on this album. And it’s the interplay of boarding on insanity and restraint that make this album so good. They sound like what the White Stripes would sound like if you set them on fire.

9. Lykke Li – I Never Learn

Upon first listen I wasn’t feeling Lykke Li’s third album I Never Learn. However, I decided to revisit it later in the year and realized my first impression was way off the mark. I Never Learn is arguably Lykke Li’s best album to date. She sings about heart break in a way that feels cinematic and provocative. Musically, I Never Learn is more striped down and raw than Lykke Li’s previous albums, but is still full of great pop hooks.

8. Real Estate – Atlas

I nearly dropped Real Estate’s Atlas from my top 10, but I remembered this is the one album I’ve probably listened to the most this year. Atlas is a very listenable album. It’s great background music and you could keep listening to it over and over and not get sick of it. Those characteristics don’t necessarily make for a top album and could possibly be seen as criticisms. However, what makes Atlas great is the attention to detail. Each instrument sounds perfect, from the guitar tones, to the precision of the drums and the mix is spot on. Not to mention each song is catchier than the next.

7. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

Cloud Nothings’ Here and Nowhere Else is the best rock album of 2014, period. If I needed to get motivated or get my blood pumping this was the album I turned to this year. Cloud Nothings combine early punk with indie rock and even a little hardcore; throw in smart lyrics and you have an album that will keep you coming back for more.

6. Manchester Orchestra – Cope/Hope

Earlier this year one of my favorite bands Manchester Orchestra released their fourth full length album, Cope. Cope is a loud rock album that hits you in the face with a wall of guitar sound on every song. Conceptually the album is about the various ways in which people cope. I enjoyed the album, but it felt a little one dimensional especially compared to their previous work. Then the band did something rather unexpected, they released a second album later in the year titled Hope. Hope is reimagining of the album Cope. The songs and lyrics are the same, but the arrangements are completely different. Hope shows off Manchester’s softer side, with acoustic and piano driven songs. I loved Hope when I first heard it and kind of pushed Cope aside. Then I went back to Cope after having spent a lot time with Hope. I found that Hope made me appreciate Cope even more and that the two albums play off each other in a really cool way. In the end I felt like both albums work best as one body of work, which is the reason I put them together on this list.

5. Lecrae – Anomaly

Christian hip hop is not a genre I typically gravitate toward, but I’d heard a lot about Lecrae’s current release Anomaly, particularly that it hit number one on the Billboard charts. I decided it was worth giving a listen and it did not disappoint. Lecrae has managed to combine his faith and music in a way that diminishes neither. Despite being 15 tracks long the album never gets boring. The production is great and features a number of standout rappers and vocalists. Lecrae explores topics from politics, love, race, and his own personal struggles. His lyrics are honest, never preachy or cheesy and are delivered flawlessly.

4. Copeland – ixora

Copeland called it quits back in 2010, but left things open to possibly recording again in the future. The future turned out to be 2014 which found the band reuniting to record their fifth full length album titled, ixora. The time apart served the band well. They seemed creatively tapped out on their previous release You Are My Sunshine, while ixora finds the band reinvigorated. The music has a dreamy quality to it with each song building on the next. Lyrically the focus is love and works beautifully with the music.

3. Propaganda – Crimson Cord

If Lecrae is representing Christian hip hop in the mainstream Propaganda is representing Christian hip hop in the indie scene. Propaganda’s lyrics are smart, witty, and flow perfectly thanks to his background in spoken word. At times he’s straight up preaching the gospel and yet never sounds preachy. On the flip side he still knows how to get in your face on tough issues such as education and race. Propaganda’s passion is contagious and makes for great hip hop. Production by Beautiful Eulogy is once again incredible, which is the icing on the cake of an excellent album.

2. Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – We Don’t Have Each Other

Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties is the solo project of The Wonder Years frontman Dan Campbell. His debut album We Don’t Have Each Other is a concept album rolling a fictional character, Aaron West through a very tumultuous time in his life. The album is told from West’s perspective featuring very lyrical lyrics, which read much like a diary of sorts. Concept albums and literal lyrics don’t tend to work for me and yet Campbell has pulled off a story that is deeply compelling and moving. If you didn’t know the lyrics were fictional you’d think Campbell was singing about his own life. Thankfully he isn’t, as the story involves Aaron West losing his dad, he and his wife losing their baby and eventually divorcing, and his subsequent spiral into alcoholism and depression. Campbell brings so much emotion to the character through the lyrics and vocals. I found myself at times tearing up listening to this album. Musically the album is mostly acoustic which lends itself well to the story. This album is quite frankly really sad, however from what I can tell, the story has a happy ending. Maybe that’s just my interpretation, but either way you can’t help being kind of blown away when you get through the last song.

1. Switchfoot – Fading West

Fading West is Switchfoot’s ninth full length album and I think it’s their best yet. Switchfoot are known as a rock band, but on Fading West they indulge their every pop whim. I love it when bands reinvent themselves and not every band can pull of a transition to pop music without sounding ridiculous, but Switchfoot totally made it work. Each song is upbeat and filled with great pop melodies and hooks. While some pop music sounds simplistic, what Switchfoot have done on Fading West really shows off their experience as musicians and song writers. In addition to the great music this album finds frontman Jon Foreman at the top of his game lyrically. His lyrics are moving, inspiring, and up lifting. This album was exactly what I needed when it came out and continues to have the same effect on me every time I put it on.

Choosing the hard path

Today was a day not unlike many other days, and it was hard. There are a lot of things about living in a two bedroom apartment with two small children and husband working from home that are hard. For instance, today, I took the boys to our favorite library. But to do that, I had to hold Ollie and lug our big bag of books back to return, go down the elevator to the car and buckle both boys into their car seats. Once we got to the library, I got them both out of their car seats and brought them in. I placed Ollie on the carpet in the kids area while I picked out a bunch of books for Archie. After a while, we went upstairs to check out some books I was interested in. Of course, I realized Archie had left a toy up there once we were about to leave the library. So, we went up again and then back down again. When I went to check out books, I saw their was a fine on my account, but I didn’t have my credit card with me. So, I quickly go out to our van (right outside the building) with Ollie who is not bundled up to get my card. Once back inside, I go to a computer and type in all my info to pay my fine with one hand while Ollie is on my lap. Meanwhile, Archie is coloring on all of these little sheets of paper that need to be cleaned up. Once all that is done, I can check out my big o’ pile of books, while Ollie plays on the somewhat dirty floor to the entry way of the library. Then we head out, back into the cold and get buckled back in.


These are daily things that happen that stretch me. And I waffle a lot between “this is soooo hard” and “why am I complaining? look at what I have!” And today I was ultimately thinking, I really don’t want anything else, I am fully engaged and choosing this. Life can be a struggle right now because of the amount of sacrifice that it requires, but the amount of life-giving, joyful, real and alive moments it provides satisfies me to my core. It’s always the good stuff that comes from the hard stuff– and it’s choosing to embrace that constant process. I know all these little interactions with my kids, are developing a lot within them– how they see things, how they react to things, how they treat people, etc.

My boys won’t be this small, naive, curious, and innocent forever. Even though this season seems really hard and at times long, I know it will pass. Oliver will sleep through the night some day and Archie won’t ask me things like “So, where is Jesus?” and “What is war?”…and I will long for these days filled with a lot sacrifice and a lot of life. And I know that this work will pay off. These are the formative years and they are little sponges picking up on everything– acquiring a worldview, learning about character, becoming relational and so much more. Some days, I get little glimpses in the midst of the craziness– of what a mind-blowing thing I have the privilege of witnessing and having a big part of. The creation alone of these little humans stops me in my tracks sometimes and takes my breath away.


I am driven by my convictions. What I am doing, namely staying at home with my children is something I can’t not do. Every mother has to make sacrifices and every mother has her own set of convictions about her role, her identity, where her value is derived, etc. Personally, I feel a heavy, deeply rooted purpose in these hard-fought days. Walking through frustrating moments on a daily basis reveals my own sin, and I know I am slowly- through the fire being chiseled into a more patient, grace-filled person. My children need me, and because God graciously created them through Darren and I, I can care for them in an intimate way that no childcare worker can. And that alone is really beautiful to me- to be needed in that way and to be able to provide care in such a close-knit way.  They are of my flesh and I know them. And each day their uniqueness is being revealed to me more and more– what things make them tick, what things trouble them, etc.


So this is a picture of where I am at. I find worth in what I am doing, and find a lot of value in it even with so many other opportunities and options out there for women. Most days are hard, but I am invested and want to continue to work for fuller investment in what I am doing. I think about elderly people living alone, who look back on these years as the greatest years. I know I will do the same, because this season provides a lot of the meat of life. I don’t want to skip out on this season because of the hardness of it all. This is the time when we are really alive, when we go to sleep and are dog TIRED. When we watch connections happen, true joy flourish and family relationships root. It’s this constant ebb and flow of really hard moments with little peeks of heart-wrenching joy. And I am in it.

The story of letterpress

Whenever you make something by hand a story is told. The story may be simple or it may have many layers. The same is true for letterpress. A few weeks ago I was working on a small letterpress project Rachel came up with and I invited Rachel’s brother Andy to join me. He ended up filming the whole process and edited the footage into the short video below, which I think turned out great! On the surface the video tells the story of hand setting type, cutting paper, and ultimately printing on a small platen press. However, there is also a more involved story behind what I was printing (perhaps we will share more on that at some point). Additionally, there is the store of the video itself, which is Andy’s first video. I enjoy hearing stories, telling stories, and being a part of them. In it’s simplicity and in it’s complexity, this was a cool story to be involved in along with Rachel and Andy. I hope you enjoy it!

Three things to make before Spring

1.) The Geranium Baby/Little girl dress
Because what is sweeter than baby girl dresses? And since I don’t have a baby girl of my own to dress in adorable clothing, I figured making one of these dresses would fulfill that little longing deep in my soul. I searched and searched for baby girl dress patterns online and this is most what I was looking for. I don’t love the little v part of the neckline, so I would make omit that, but everything else appeals to me– the simpleness, the waistline, the gathers, the option for ruffle sleeves. And yes, I will be giving it to a sweet baby girl in my life.
(image via Made By Rae)

2.) A Braided Rag Rug
I could use a rug in my living room and all the rugs that I really like in-store or online are pretty spendy. Since I like the look of rag rugs, I thought this would be a good alternative. I think I will pick a lighter gray fabric, a bold gold fabric and a print of some sort to make up the three strands of the braid. The only thing I am worried about is the sturdiness of it since people will be walking on it. And it might break my heart a little bit if it got dirty or spilled on since it’s a handmade piece, but I will just have to make peace with that reality.

(image via ModaBakeShop)

3.) The Washi Dress
So I have never really done garment sewing, so this could be a bit of a disaster, but I do plan to get help from my mom and other trusted seamstresses. Like the baby girl Geranium dress, I found this pattern after much searching. And coincidentally, it is also a Made by Rae pattern! I was looking for something flattering to my body shape, something simple in appearance and craftsmanship. This could end up not being flattering, and hard to make, but I want to try it. The Washi dress on the girl below looks like a similar size/body type to me, so I am hoping that’s what it would roughly look like on me. Fingers crossed 😉

dear stella washi dress
(image via Skirt as Top)

For the love of reading

Over the past few years, my husband and I have developed quite a passion for reading. Neither of us grew up in homes that really fostered a love for reading, so we both feel it’s kind of unusual that we find ourselves in this position. Maybe it’s a mix of having a lot of really smart friends who read a lot and their love has rubbed off on us combined with getting a taste of some really good writing that left us hungry for more.

I think Donald Miller’s books introduced us both to this fresh, honest writing style that we both really connected with. And I think we realized that the world of books is vast. We are always adding to our book lists (or the goodreads app) and telling each other about what we are reading.
Blue-Like-Jazz-e1335535652212I feel like I missed out on a lot of great girlhood books, so that is something that I am very interested in right now. The interest in girlhood books may also be due to the fact that I am officially a mother to boys, so even though I am 31yrs old, this may be my only chance to indulge in this kind of reading. This year I read Anne of Green Gables, and I bought the Little House on the Prairie Series. I still want to read Christy, Heidi, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Anna Bond of Rifle, recently designed the book covers of some of just the books I am talking about, and they are gorgeously designed to boot! Christmas gift, hint, hint!
rifle booksSince my children were born I have been very interested in children’s books–in finding out about the good authors and which books make my three year old tick. So far he really loves books by authors Mo Willems, Oliver Jeffers and Holly Hobbie to name a few. I often find him just looking through books by himself. We have tried to incorporate the library into our weekly rhythm which has been really nice and free! I recently borrowed The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease from the library. It is a great resource of information about the great books to read aloud as well as tools to ignite a love of reading in little ones.
readaloudAfter hearing lots about this book, I ordered and old edition of The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer off of last year and I think that’s what got me really passionate about the importance of children reading. The book in a nut-shell is about classically educating kids at home. Whether or not my kids will be educated at home or in a school is still a bit unknown, but I do know that Darren and I will always be our kids biggest influence and greatest educators.
Well-Trained MindClassical education is divided up into three stages called the Trivium which starts with the grammar stage, followed by the logic stage and finishes with the rhetoric stage ending the last year of high school. The first stage of education according to the classical method, the grammar stage, emphasizes reading everything and anything. The goal is to fill and expand the mind while it is young and sponge-like! So that has been a goal of mine with my three year old. We pick out fiction and non-fiction, books about holidays and different cultures and crazy books that expand his imagination. It really has been a joy and I am excited to continue on this journey with him and in my own reading journey.

write because you have something to say

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Tsh Oxenreider posted that quote on instagram not that long ago and it stuck with me. Many days, I am here at home with my boys and I have a lot of time to think about things. I love that. I am a thinker, and I like having time to think and make connections. But often times I feel like I don’t have an outlet for these connections and conclusions that I come to.

I go in phases when I feel like I have something to say. Right now, I feel like sharing some thoughts but I know I won’t always feel like that. When I did blog more regularly at one time in my life, it stressed me out to think about content for my blog….like I had to have something to say. But I think the best blogs are the ones out there from people who think deeply about things and write honest reflections about what is going on in their lives. They aren’t saying things just to say them, they are saying them because they have something to say.

So, when I have time and energy, I am going to start saying some things in this space that I feel are worth sharing. Sometimes I feel mighty ambivalent about sharing stuff on the internet because for 1.) I don’t really know who my audience is, so it feels a bit impersonal, 2.) what’s the difference between me sharing here or writing in a journal…do people even care about what I have to say and 3.) words often cheapen deep, soul-satisfying truths that I have come to experience. When certain thoughts or conclusions have labels or words attached to them, they become less expansive.
But I do want to start writing. I have a whole list of topics on my phone that I would like to write about! So I am going to try to make that happen.

Empty Book Shelf Challenge – Darren Book #2


Title: What We Talk About When We Talk About God

Author: Rob Bell

What’s it about: Bell looks at how the world has historically talked about God and how Christians have historically talked about God and says, let’s reevaluate and make sure we’re talking about who God really is.

Why did I read it: I’ve followed Rob Bell for many years and read most of his books, so it seemed natural to read his latest work. Also, I felt his last book was a bit off track and I wanted to see what direction he would go. I really like where he went with this one.

Favorite idea: In one of the chapters he talks about how big the universe is and how small the universe is (he really gets into the science of all that and my mind was totally blown) and how God is present in all parts of it. Similarly he wraps up the book talking about how God is everywhere and in everything. That is really beautiful to me and something I need to be reminded of.