Engaging Holy Week with All 5 Senses

If you do a Pinterest search for “Good Friday,” “Easter,” or “Resurrection crafts,” you’ll see a slew of bunnies, recipes for resurrection rolls and Hot Cross Buns, and empty tombs made of paper plates. The ideas are few, but the variations endless. I am not in the least opposed to paper crafts or food that illustrates the miracle of the Resurrection, or even cute spring bunnies, for that matter. In fact I am a huge fan of all of these categories, particularly when done well.

But I think we can all agree (even if you’re a rebel maximalist) that more is not always better. And when it comes to teaching the littlest Christians, I think we desire for these activities, crafts, foods, and experiences to be rich with meaning. My hope for our family as we follow the life of Christ throughout the year is that we’ll have traditions that engage all of our senses and speak boldly of the hope we have in Jesus.

I plan to develop this more in the coming year, but did not want to miss the opportunity to share the beginnings of this endeavor toward meaningfully sharing the light of Christ with our children as we create traditions together. Perhaps these thoughts will assist you in thinking about how you can share Holy Week and the Easter season with your children. Continue reading

In My Pocket this Week, Volume Six

I feel a little like I want to play catch up with you all. My life feels drastically different than it did even a year ago, and yet it’s very much the same. We’re still in Waco, while Cody continues work towards his PhD in Religion. At the beginning of May he will complete his 3rd year. And suddenly, it feels like it’s all going by so quickly.

Cody and I will celebrate our 8th anniversary in May, and I am beginning to see that the formation of a family is complex and takes patience, purpose, and time—lots of time. We’re starting to see the fruit forming (or maybe it’s just the buds) on the tree we planted a long time ago and have watered and watched, as well as neglected and abused. Lately I’ve been a bit in awe over this as I see my interests change and take better shape, as our boys grow and mature, and as Cody nears the completion of a very long, arduous, and meaningful education. I do not long for Cody to be done with school. I like our lives here in Waco. We’re always seeking to do things better, trying to live fully right where we are, but still dreaming a lot about what might be possible. Continue reading

These are the Thoughts I Think

I have an old blog, one that I probably should have never abandoned. On it I shared bits about my days with my boys, photos, and the simple things I was into at the time. I called it And Mary, because it was about me in the crevices. Me in the small spaces I could find to just be me—the me that is and has been from a young age interested in fashion. The me that feels younger than even my young 29, marvels at the fact that I have 3 children, and struggles with contentment, building friendships, and making a home, just like every one else.

I think I started this new space with the idea that I needed to say more important things. Continue reading

The Good Grad School Life

Our five and a half years in graduate school have brought me to some of my lowest moments (months?), and my highest. We’ve been married for all of these years, we’ve had children for all of these years, and I’ve been a stay at home mom for all of these years. We’ve gotten fairly good at grad student life, but there are seasons that things are simply difficult. Once we have things “figured out,” something changes and throws everything off balance again. Life was pretty smooth for our first 2 years of phD work, but then we added a baby, and it was like how a surprise collision at the farmer’s market would go down. Two people collide, baskets fly dramatically into the air and all the contents get jumbled and bruised and broken. Your metaphorical feathers are ruffled, and you have to at once splutter apologies and scramble to salvage what you can of your life, er, I mean produce. Of course, adding a baby is hardly a tragic change, and for that we’re grateful. But it’s still a big change. A beautiful, wonderful, and completely miraculous one. Just look at that guy!

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Gifts to Nurture the Whole Child

The word “whole” seems to be quite the buzzword these days. We all know that we should stick to a “whole foods” diet, and should take care of our “whole self.” We can’t seem to forget it, it would seem. Lately as I’ve done a gift search for my kids, I’ve felt the need more than ever to find things that will nurture them in their development and growth. We all want that, I think, but just picking toys made of natural materials as opposed to plastic and flashing lights, doesn’t always cut it. Yes, those more natural products are typically more beautiful, and that in itself is to be desired, but I think we often want more than aesthetic appeal. We want the things that we gift our children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren to be fun, of course. We want these gifts to bring them joy; but we also want these toys to have longevity, and prod them on in their growth as unique human beings with a divine purpose.

Here are some ideas that might get the wheels turning for you as you wrap up your shopping. Continue reading

Three Birth Stories

Twelve days ago, we welcomed our third son. I’ve had several requests for his birth story, but as I started to write, felt that I needed to give a little background with my other births. They all build on each other, and perhaps some might enjoy or possibly even benefit from seeing the continuing education that goes into birth and the ways we change and grow as mothers. None of these are exhaustive, but are brief windows into my 3 very different experiences. If you’ve written your birth story, I’d love to read it. You can link to it in the comments.

Birthing Cosmas was hands down the most difficult and intense thing I’ve endured. Of my three sons, this was my second unmedicated birth, and very different from the first.

I tried to keep the details limited, but these are birth stories, so read at your own risk.

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Waiting and Small Joys

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. -Romans 8: 18-27

I am 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant as I write this. Continue reading

The Self-care Series: Habits and the Book We Should All Read, by Bethany Kjergaard

When Mary asked me to write about self-care I was a little unsure until I actually read her entire note. I’m probably one of the laziest people I know when it comes to personal grooming. I love reading about elaborate beauty routines, but I come from a family of women who shower a shockingly low number of times/week. The motto of the Kjergaard women is “we clean up well.” So I wasn’t sure what I could write about in terms of grooming or beauty routines. Then I actually read what Mary had written instead of skimming through, and it was more focused on habits and discipline. When it comes to habits, I could write all day, but I’ll focus on how habits tie in with self-care and the one habit that helped me to take care of myself. Continue reading

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