A Wife Loved Like The Church

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I come from a really big family. I’ve got four brothers and one sister. My mom is the oldest of five children. Each of my aunts/uncles have several children. Which means I have something like 1 bijillion* cousins {and like 14 bijillion second/third/fourth cousins}.  *Bijillion is the official number used when counting large families. 

And being from a big family has always left a soft spot in my heart for movies about big families. Perhaps one of my favorite is The Family Stone. I love stories of families that are big and loud, fairly dysfunctional, but loving and fiercely close.

Sadly, my family isn’t very close. We’ve all gone our own ways, and haven’t done the best job of keeping in touch. While I’ve seen changes since moving back to Texas, it’s still not Hollywood awesome.

But then my two younger brothers moved in with us last year.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 9.39.58 AMAnd it’s been amazing.

In fact, it’s better than Hollywood awesome.

We are doing life together. Fighting and laughing. Arguing and agreeing. And forming a bond that is deeper than I could have ever expected.

I see my brothers in a whole new way. When I moved away from home, they were 7 & 9 years old. Little kids, who I loved because they were my brothers but didn’t really know. Now they are 20 & 22, and I love them because I really know them. They are ridiculous and funny. They can be so, so lazy {I mean, who would ever sleep until 11 am?!? Oh wait, I would…}. Yet, they support me and rally behind me like only brothers can do.

While it’s crazy in our American culture to have so.many.people living together, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s cramped at times, wildly messy all the time, and occasionally smells like a frat house. {And don’t even get me started on the ping pong table in our garage.} But this life, this life with family, is beautiful.  Our lives will never look like a movie, but it is so much better than any Hollywood rendition of family.

Motherhood didn’t come naturally to me. But because it seemed like it came naturally to so many other moms around me, I was crushed when I found it to be hard and overwhelming. I’ve never once had someone tell me “You’re such a natural at mothering.” Nope. Not me. I work every day against my own selfish desires to parent and love my children. The work is hard, but the work is good.


Lunch time

However, when we started exploring homeschooling, I figured that teaching at least would come naturally. I naturally like learning and exploring. I naturally like teaching my children new ideas. I naturally like the concept of home learning.

But three weeks into our school year and I’m realizing I am going to have to work at homeschooling, just as much as I work at parenting.

And the learning curve is steep.

I’m figuring out how to mother and teach. I’m figuring out when Julia focuses best and when I’m most patient. I’m figuring out what this new role looks like for our family.


P.E. at Zilker


So, homeschooling doesn’t come as naturally as I hoped. But, I’m willing to fight for it. I’m willing to put in the time and energy it takes to learn how to teach my children. Just like I have fought for learning to parent over the past {nearly} six years.

And for me, fighting for something makes me value it even more than if it were to come “naturally”. So here’s to a cause worth fighting for!

Five. Just five Saturdays until Jonathan is done with his weekly MBA classes.

Two. Just two more week+ trips until Jonathan is done with his MBA.

Y’all. Seriously. I can’t even put into words how ridiculously happy I am.


While Jonathan, in all his logical sense, has been able to see the end since the beginning, frankly, I haven’t. And when he started counting down from 20 {“only 20 more classes” he’d say}, I got that overwhelming feeling you get when you know something good is coming but it is taking forever to get here. F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

But now? Now I can see the finish line. I can tell myself, “Just five more Saturdays. Just two more trips. Come Thanksgiving, we.are.done. DONE.”

Oh sweet Lord. It makes me want to cry tears of joy and triumph. And I didn’t even go through the program.

As for Jonathan? I don’t even know how he does it. Not only does he work full-time while getting his MBA from Cornell {hello, genius!}, he makes it seems easy. Not in a I-don’t-have-to-even-try sorta easy, but in a I-don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff sorta easy. Which blows me away, cause I always sweat the small stuff. Man, he makes me one proud wife.

While the last year has not been easy, the Lord has proven gracious and merciful. As always. He has shown me how to pursue Him for myself, how to rely on Him and Him alone, and how to have freedom in Him because my freedom is from Him. It’s been hard lessons learned, ones that have taken years {literally years} to teach me. With the heart aches and hardships that intensified with Jonathan’s crazy schedule, I see how God used this time to break down so many walls I built up. And as hard as it was to believe in the middle of the storm, I’m grateful we went through what we did.

Almost there, y’all. We are almost there. Only five Saturdays left.

As of today, all three kids are out of the house for 5+ hours. 

photo (3)


*The heavens parted and angels sing*

Julia has on-campus school M/W. Hannah and Joseph’s preschool (aka Mother’s Day Out) started today, which also meets M/W. That leaves me kid-free from 9-2. Can I just tell ya, I haven’t been kid-free on this kind of basis since having kids? I’m just a little giddy

In fact, as of this morning, I’ve already worked out, my house is clean, and I drank my coffee in silence. Silence. Ahhh….

Now, I’m sure I’ll hear all those “You’ll miss these days. Just you wait…”

Yes. I will miss these days. I will miss the days when my babies are little. I will miss the days when Julia is convinced that I know everything, when Hannah thinks I am the most beautiful woman, and Joseph chooses me over anyone else.

Yes, I will miss these days.

But, honestly, having a reprieve twice a week helps keep this mama sane. We decided to have a classical education approach with Julia (and later with Hannah and Joe Joe) just so I/we could spend more time with them. So, as much as I know I will miss these days of having littles, I am really enjoying having some down time.

Besides, we all know come 2 o’clock, I’ll be itching to see my bambinos. I’m a softy like that.


I love Austin. It is my happy place. No matter where I travel in the world, I would choose Austin over it all. There is a comfort here that I have never had anywhere else I’ve lived. From the moment I step on UT’s campus over a decade ago, I knew that Austin is my home.


I love Austin, but…

I miss fall weather. Not gonna lie. After all, fall is my favorite time of year – the leaves changing, the crisp air, the apple pies, the reprieve from summer.

Austin doesn’t have fall.  Austin has summer and not summer. There are no seasons, no changing leaves, no crisp fall air. There is simply summer and not summer. I’ve admitted before that I haven’t always enjoyed summer (though I have a newfound love for it). Summer to me has usually just been the months you endure before fall.

But as the paradigm shift in me has begun – the shift of loving summer more – I’ve found myself missing fall but being willing to redefine fall. I still secretly want our family to spend our fall days in the Adirondacks {hint, hint Jonathan}, but I’m enjoying fall looking like 70* days and sleeping with our windows open until January. I’m redefining fall as lingering summer days that give my kids more time outside. Cooler {but not cold} mornings for my outdoor runs. And having outdoor BBQ’s in December.

Fall in Austin will never been like fall in Iowa. But I love Austin enough to embrace my sweet city’s version of fall. Though I wouldn’t mind a trip to upstate New York come October.


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Rather than enter the politico scene, I prefer to let others engage in politics. Bordering on apathy, I’ve found that world events don’t effect my daily life quite like caring for three young kids. And because of that, I don’t pay attention to them.

But as the civil war in Syria exalts to a deafening tone, I’m struck by my apathy.

If my husband, brothers, father, friends, were being killed, would I want others to be outraged?

If my children were gassed, would I want other mothers to weep for me?

Or would I sit back and say

“It’s ok. You can’t do anything about it, so don’t even worry about us.”

Hell no.

As a mother, I would want to know that other mothers are weeping at the loss of my child. I would want to know that they see my pain, they see my devastation, and they mourn with me. Not because we even know each other, but because we are mothers. And as mothers we are united in our love for our children.

I can sit back in the comfort of my home and blissfully ignore a war that is raging. I can block out the bad. I can ignore the pain. I can dull my senses. Because that is far easier. It is far easier to not know, than to know and be helpless.

Yet this morning as I listened to NPR, I realized that I cannot ignore Syria. Syria needs to matter to me. It needs to matter to me because I am a wife, a mother, a woman. But more than that, Syria needs to matter to me because it matters to God.

God calls His people to be a light in this dark world. God calls His people to pray. God calls His people to love like He loves.

While I am not naive enough to believe that I can change any issues in Syria, I refuse to willfully ignore their pain and suffering.  I refuse to let my comforts override their needs.  So, I challenge myself to let my heart break for the Syrians. To push off my comforts and imagine a life that is riddled with pain and suffering. And then to pray. Pray that God’s light shines. Pray that God’s glory be known. Pray that God’s Truth bring healing to the brokenhearted.

Let us not be a people so wrapped up in our own comforts that we are not willing to let other’s pain effect us. Let us be a people who view this world as God views this world. Let us be a people who love those we do not know. Let us be a people stand before the Lord on behalf of those who cannot.  Let us be a people moved to pray.


(I can neither confirm nor deny that her sass is genetic)

Last week Julia started her first day at Kindergarten.

Talk about a big year. I’m proud of myself since I did NOT cry. Tear up? Form a lump in my throat? Have to turn away so as to not cry? Yes. Yes. And yes. But, I did NOT cry. *pats self on back*

We have the amazing opportunity to send Julia to Veritas Academy, which is a university model school. Veritas teaches a classical education based on a Biblical worldview, while using a university model that prepares children for college. After researching Veritas {read, stalking} since 2011, I’m super excited to finally be a part of the community.

And perhaps the best part of Veritas? There is a high level of parent involvement.

How is that? you ask.

Through calling on parents to be co-teachers alongside the primary teacher. In other words, Julia attends classes on campus twice a week, then I homeschool her the other days.

We follow a curriculum and syllabus set up by the school/teacher. Every week we receive the weekly lesson plans to be used by both the primary teacher and the co-teachers (co-teachers typically being the child’s mom). It lays out what the primary teacher will teach in class while on campus and then what co-teachers are to teach while children are at home. The campus days/home days alternate, so at the kindergarten level Julia is home every other day (ex :: on campus M/W, at home T/Th/F).

Many of you may know, that since before having children it has been on Jonathan and my heart to play a very active role in our children’s education. For many years, we assumed that would manifest in doing full-time homeschool. But over the past 3 years, we have felt the Lord calling us to a scenario more like Veritas. And while we are only in our second week {and while homeschool yesterday was ridiculously attitude challenging}, I am already so grateful for the community that we are forming.


Julia, Kate, Lily

Julia has formed some sweet, sweet friendships already. She went to mother’s day out last year with several of her Veritas classmates from this year. In fact, two of her best friends, Kate and Lily, are in the same classroom as Julia.

There are a total of five girls {out of 12 kids} in Julia’s class. It’s precious to see how quickly friendships have been formed in such a short amount of time. Let’s just say, I imagine there being lots of special memories made by these girls.


I’m sure that there will be plenty of bumps along the way. Let’s be real, I’m probably not the best teacher {and I’m not always praised for my abundance of patience – just keeping it honest}. But, I am so grateful that God has allowed me to have the chance to stay so connected to Julia during her early years of education. Because, while I may not be the best teacher, it is my true heart’s desire to be Julia’s life teacher. And I am so glad that God is allowing me to be just that.

(photo credit to Mollie Burpo of Bloom Photography)

In September of last year, I started a development program with our church, The Austin Stone. The program is a year long training to equip women {and men} with biblical knowledge and truth. It was pretty intensive at times, but God grew and challenged me in ways I never imagined.

Part of the women’s development program is to participate in a mission trip. For the past several years, the program has worked with a mission organization in London, England. The women who go get to spend a week sharing the Gospel with Muslims in London.

Today, I am one of those women.

I am leaving for London in less than 2 hours. We will arrive early Saturday morning and launch into our training. Then we will spend the next 7 days loving and serving others and bringing them Good News. I am nervous and anxious, yet feeling peaceful and calm. An odd combination, I know.

The last month in preparing for my trip has been kind of a joke. If you can think of something that might possibly go wrong, and it’s gone wrong. This past week? Even more of a joke. I’ve lost my passport AND my driver’s license {thankfully my passport turned up. On a copier. At Kinko’s. My driver’s license is still missing}. I’ve felt more overwhelmed then excited as I have raced between prepping for the trip and spending the week in training for Julia’s school this fall. And speaking of Julia.. she is so upset that I am leaving, that she’s asked me several times to cancel the trip.

But you know what? God is proving to be the calm in my storm. A week before my trip and I was still $475 short of my funding. When the funding deadline came and went, I may have cried as I found myself grasping at straws on how to round up the remaining funds. Then, like I beacon of calm, my friend Adriane prompted me to start asking more people about helping. It was perhaps the last thing I wanted to do – it felt embarrassing and scary. But, I did it. I sent out more emails, called more people and God blessed. I truly didn’t expected it, but He pulled through the remaining $475 in two days. Two days. It blew me away.

So now my bags are packed, my passport is safely in my wallet {whew} and I am ready for my trip.

I don’t know what is going to happen over the next 9 days. I’ve laid all my expectations to the side and decided to let the Lord do as He wills. But, even though I don’t know what may happen, I know this :: God is in control. And He is always good and can always be trusted. 

When you read this, would you take a moment to pray for me? Pray for safety and godly wisdom. Pray for my family, who will go 9 whole days without their wife and mama {the longest time ever for the kids}. Pray for God’s glory to be known and for lives to be changed. Thanks my sweet friends. Your prayers mean a lot.

I never had braces when I was younger. Not that I didn’t need them, I just never got them. Once I was an adult, I tossed around the idea of getting braces but never talked to an orthodontist. After all, I’m 30-something and who really wants to relive junior high or high school?

Then a few weeks ago, Jonathan casually mentioned that a co-worker got braces (thus there being no shame in adulthood braces) and that if I still wanted to finally talk to an orthodontist, he’d support me in getting them. I straight up told him he was cray-cray, that I’d never get braces and how dare he even imply that my crooked teeth were less than perfect. I may or may not have looked like the crazy cat lady on 30 Rock. But whatevs. Jonathan’s use to me going all nutso on him. I ended our talk with a maniacal laughter-cry. And Jonathan assumed the subject was done.

That was until I emailed him an hour later to inform him I had an appointment with an orthodontist the following day. If you’re wondering, Jonathan was totally unfazed by this aburpt change in attitude. Not only is he well equipped to handle my nutso-ness, he’s quite use to me having horribly negative effects to seemingly simple suggestions. (Don’t you just wish you lived with me?)

I went for my initial consult to learn about different braces (traditional, clear and Invisalign). I got some really terrifyingly close fabulously close pictures taken of my teeth and mouth, along with a breakdown of the process, and a visit with my doctor. Side note – I’m not a fan of doctors in general. As normal people they are all wonderful. But as health care professionals I make it a rule to avoid seeing them. I’ve only had one doctor in my entire life that I don’t cringe at being inside their office. After I met my orthodontist, I now have two doctors I don’t cringe at being inside their office.

Jonathan and I discussed the options and decided to move forward with the Invisalign braces. In case you are unfamiliar with Invisalign braces, they are clear trays you wear over your teeth that act a like plastic straight jacket. Think of a hug that hurts.


(photo credit)

I got my first round of trays yesterday. Based on my research and prepping from the orthodontist, I was expecting them to be extremely painful and to sound like Donald Duck for a day or two. Neither of these side effects happened. Only one of them am I disappointed about.

Now fully into day two of wearing the liners, I’ve discovered a whole new level of self control. I’ve brushed and flossed my teeth about three times so far. And I’ve managed to pass on both a cupcake (with cream cheese frosting no less!) and a chocolate-mint granola bar. Not because I’ve actually mastered self control when it comes to sweets, but because these liners are kind of a pain in the butt to remove (and you have to brush every.single.time you reinsert them) and frankly nothing right now is worth the hassle. Though, to be honest, last night having chips and salsa with a beer after the kids were in bed was totally worth the hassle (and lest you judge, my doctor recommended a glass of alcohol to help ease any pain, I was merely following her rule.)

My mouth still feels pretty weird and I’m battling some awesome dry lips, but I’ve been reassured these side effects will pass with time. But, if you know this to be different, just let me bask in my Invisalign ignorance.

And just think, in 2 years I’ll have straight teeth and ridiculously meticulous dental hygiene habits without ever being called “metal mouth”. Score!


I believe in coffee dates with friends. I believe in surprising my husband with a date night. I believe in running as therapy. I believe in laughing often. I believe in enjoying every moment of summer with my children. I believe in crying during a good book. I believe in family dinner around the table. I believe in a saving grace I never deserved. 


I’m linking up to Just Jilly’s I Believe In…