The Self-care Series: Nurturing a Mindful Marriage, by Karli Von Herbulis

As a wife and a mom bent on being both emotionally and physically healthy, it didn’t take me long to discover that my aspirations for self-care and intentional rhythms in my life didn’t mean squat if my husband wasn’t on board. Our life has been nomadic to say the least. In 7 years of marriage we have moved 8 times (not counting semi-settled stages for a month or so here and there) living in 3 states, 2 countries, and even a stint touring the country coast to coast in a van. It’s been a steep learning curve as we’ve each figured out how the other works, what makes us feel fulfilled, what we need from one another, and how to function well, but we’ve learned a bit along the way. Now living in East Africa with a very active toddler and another baby on the way, this has become even more important to us! 

Self-care is a journey—just like marriage. It ebbs and flows and requires grace and flexibility and constant evolution. Here’s some of the foundational principles I suggest to anyone seeking to be more mindful in their marriage: Continue reading

Kindy: July in Review

I wrote already about how we were planning to start Seb’s Kindergarten/1st grade year in July, and what my plans were. In reality, yes, we started, but things have been slow going. We enjoyed visitors in July, and then again last week, so between those welcome interruptions and the fact that I’m nannying 3 days a week still, it’s been difficult to find consistency. I quickly realized that focusing on just a few subjects for a period would be more practical for our summer schedule. Below I’ll list what we did, and mark subjects we have yet to pursue fully with “n/a.”

It doesn’t sound like much of a success story at this point, but I’ve learned a lot, and I think that this slow introduction to a school-time rhythm has been well worth the effort. I’m glad we began to figure things out during the summer months so that we can be even more intentional during the school year, which is upon us! Cody starts his 3rd year at Baylor on Monday!

If you missed it, you can catch up on Kindy: The Plan before reading how our first month of school unfolded.

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The Self-care Series: Weakness and Surrendering the Best Hours, by Ela Nelson

If I’d had a tail when Mary invited me to share my thoughts on spiritual care for mommies it would’ve been wagging. It’s a subject I’ve put a great deal of thought into over the last few years and through much trial and error I’ve found a rhythm that works well for me and bears some truly beautiful fruit. I can only speak to my own experience but if what I’ve learned as a wife and mother of seven (one in Heaven plus one in the oven) can be helpful or encouraging to other mommies I’m so happy to share.

Loving Motherhood

Let me start by saying that I love being a mom. It’s such a tremendous honor and privilege. I love being pregnant. I love participating in God’s infinite creativity through the bearing and raising of these beautiful little humans. There truly isn’t a day that goes by that my breath isn’t taken away by something one of them has said, created or done. There is no therapy like that of a toddler’s arms around my neck; no joy like seeing any of them discover something beautiful and true; no sweetness like the cheeks of a baby new waked from sleep – warm and soft and sweet like chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. Being a mother is new every morning, endlessly creative; redemptive, and full of so much laughter, love and joy.

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Raising Good Stewards: Lessons I Learned from my Parents

Recently on a drive somewhere I told Cody that I desire for our children to grow up thinking that eating an apple while reading a decent book is a good time.

We do not know what our children will be called to, where they will go, who they will live with, or where they will serve. But I do know that I will have done my child a great disservice if he is called to love God and love his neighbor in a remote village in Russia and does not know how to find delight in the simplest of things. In fact, I will have done him this same disservice even if he becomes a multimillionaire CEO. Things do not satisfy. Continue reading

You Can Thrive as a Family in Graduate School

We have been a graduate school family for 5 years now, and are about to begin our sixth. Each year we get better at it, and we finally feel like we’re over the hump and are beginning to thrive in this weird world of graduate student adulthood. We already had our first child when we began this journey, and I fell pregnant with our second during my husband’s first semester of graduate school at Duke Divinity. Now we eagerly await the arrival of our third just as Cody begins his 6th year of graduate school, and 3rd in his doctoral program. We’ve had epic adventures, with kids by our side, and have seen our family grow and mature not in spite of graduate school, but in part because of graduate school. We are grateful for the restrictions it has placed on us, and for the ways that we’ve had to work hard at living well and intentionally where we are placed.

This is how we do it. Continue reading

The Self-care Series: “There is music wherever there is rhythm” by Abby Hummel

“There is music wherever there is rhythm, as there is life wherever there beats a pulse.” – Igor Stravinsky, from his notes accompanying The Rite of Spring

In what now feels like a former life, I had one of my dream jobs: teaching piano lessons from home.  Did I suddenly desire self-employment or hearing clunky renditions of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and “Lightly Row”? Not exactly. I’d already spent countless hours on my own piano practicing, composing, competing, and earning a college degree, long before I hung out my shingle. Any piano student remembers the repetition required for proficiency: there are five-finger patterns, then scales, then arpeggios; songs in C-major, then A-flat, then F-sharp; works from Mozart, then Beethoven, then Chopin, then Stravinsky.

For all the music I’ve played in the past, I haven’t touched a piano in a year. There aren’t a lot of good ways to “improve work-life balance” with children as small and needy as mine. My baby insists on nursing only (and often), so I’m on call every few hours, all day, every day. I could look at my limits and give up – someday the kids will get bigger and the baby will wean, or my husband will get a raise, or I’ll start teaching, or we’ll settle into our new town…  then I’ll be able to take care of myself Continue reading

I’m Singing the praises of the 3rd Trimester, and You Should, too.

Last week I felt myself slipping into the third trimester slump. I had been holding out, staying positive, staying active, not getting too down on myself about my weight gain, etc. etc. But I could feel it all slipping away. I was grunting audibly when I’d sit down or stand up, my restless legs were beginning to get worse, I went nearly two weeks without a single workout, and I had two tussles with heartburn that kept me up late into the night. My peace and patience were definitely on the decline, and I couldn’t think about much else other than getting this baby earth-side ASAP.

Well that’s no way to live, is it? I have 6 weeks remaining until my due date. My babies have come early so far, so maybe I have less. Regardless, I am thinking we have at least a month to go, if not more.

This pregnancy has been great all these long weeks, I don’t want to end it with groaning and discontentment as I languish on the couch. So here I’ll take a moment to sing the praises of the 3rd trimester, the unsung hero of it all.  Continue reading

The Self-Care Series: Being Well In Your Own Skin, by Hannah

My senior year in high school, I had an English teacher that I loved, one who wept when she read us poetry, laughed when she read us Shakespeare, did not share any of my core religious beliefs, and routinely chanted to us the two great maxims for success: know thyself, and nothing in excess. I rolled my eyes at her words because they seemed too cliché, too reminiscent of self-help books and inspirational mugs. Continue reading

What Mansfield Park Taught Me about Peaceful Living

Recently I finished reading Mansfield Park. The writing that follows is nothing if not an attempt to ease the pain of separation that inevitably follows having read a really, really, good story.

It was slow going at first as I sludged through the first chapters, not sure where the story was going and daunted by the number of pages ahead of me. There are no hooks at the beginning of this novel, nothing to lure the reader in, and the pace of the story continues in much the same way for the duration of the novel with a few hills and valleys interspersed throughout. Fanny Price, the heroine, is not much of a heroine, or so it would seem. At first introduction she is a poor, 9 year old girl who is entirely dependent on the favors and benevolence of her wealthy Uncle and her two Aunts. She holds no power, and is constantly pushed down. She is more than a servant, but less than a daughter. She lives in a world that will not have her in and will not have her out.  Continue reading

The Self-Care Series: We Can’t Afford to Wait by Chandler Smith

Ah, self-care. That elusive thing we’ve all heard of, but don’t know how to practice.

I have a lot of room to grow in this part of being a human, but over the last few years I’ve pieced together some healthy exercise and food rhythms that have taught me a lot about nurturing and valuing my body. But first—my background with “wellness.” I used to hate to exercise. Before I had kids, working out was always fueled by vanity. I wouldn’t have used that word, but I dieted and exercised because I wanted to look a certain way or be a certain size. Because, if I was a size 2 then everyone in the world would love me, I would be accepted and adored, and everything would be great all the time. (That sounds so silly. But that’s the reality of where my heart was. Ugh.) “Healthy living” was always a burden; something I hated but needed to do to look the way I wanted. I never enjoyed it, and never felt like I had done enough. After I had my son, I continued to exercise, but my motivations totally changed. It was a completely different experience from working out pre-motherhood.

Here’s how having children shifted my attitude towards working out and dieting. Continue reading