Dreams are beautiful. They can lure you forward, towards a destination or a trip. They can be fuel to your fire to pursue something that you’ve envisioned but didn’t think was possible. They can also be the closing of a full circle.
My recent book tour back to our other home, Northern Ireland, was all of these things. Since arriving home, I have been trying to recount the adventure in my journal. I am still savoring, soaking, and processing all that happened in this brief whimsical window of time.
Over the next few weeks or maybe even longer, I will try to unpack my mental and emotional suitcase and share it with you, my lovely readers. As I unpack the journey, I invite you to come along. I want to help you feel the warmth of this place I love. To sense the spirit of exploring both inward and outward that took place not only for me but for my two incredible friends who joined me.
So come, reflect with me, walk down the winding lanes with me, enter the chapels and coffee shops.
Live this precious pilgrimage with me.
For now, I am happy and thankful to be home. Happy to be reunited with my Hot Hubby Chud, Kiki Bear, and Coco Bean. They survived just fine without me by the way, that’s the beauty of a marriage partnership!
Now back to the other parts of my dreamy life, like laundry and cooking. Which I am also utterly thankful for because it means I have a husband I love and sons that I longed to care for and nurture. I am so very rich and it’s not lost on me. Maybe you need to be reminded of that today too as you stare at your mountain of clean clothes or think of tidying up the house one, more, time.
One of the boys favourite little games we play right now is fee-fi-fo-fum. They run down the hall, jump into our bed and ‘hide-hide-hide’ under the covers until I stomp down the hall pretending to be a giant shouting for them. Recently I have been invited into the game in a new role. They take turns playing the giant and want me to hide under the covers with them. Some days I don’t want to play these little games that feel like ground hog day and there’s a pile of laundry flooding out of the next room. But then there are these moments. The kind that cause me to stop breathing. The kind that make me realize how short life is. How short this time with the boys being little is. The moments that I am pretty sure are going to replay in my mind when I watch them ride a bike for the first time, drive for the first time, graduate, get married, etc.
When we are playing this sweet game and we are hiding under the covers, they come in close. Each of them. They whisper to me to be quiet, that we are hiding. I get to have their faces inches from mine. I get to study their different and distinctly blue eyes, their mouths with ruby lips, their wild blonde curls. I get to smell their hot little boy breath that doesn’t stink yet but smells warm and sweet. Sometimes they will grab my hand or snuggle in close for only a second. One. Little. Second.
These seconds are precious and so tiny I almost miss them some days. Because as the other little man stomps down the hall, the anticipation builds. The door bursts open with a squeal of delight and we are all joining in! The noise is astounding as is the untamed excitement. We all end up on the bed laughing and wrestling as that’s what most things turn into when you are a mom of little boys.
This little glimpse is teaching me a lot about my own life. I struggle to live in the present on a daily basis. I am a future kind of girl. Always thinking, dreaming and planning for the next step. That is useful and helpful at times but also can steal joy in the present, very real and beautiful moments of my day to day life. I am working on being more mindful. Breathing more deeply. Not pushing myself to run on fumes. To learn what real rest looks like for me and be okay with taking that rest when I need it. Thankfully I am married to an incredible man who sees me so clearly and knows what I need often before I do.
This ‘living in the present’ struggle also runs into many other areas of my life. But now more than ever I see the desperate need to live in the here and now. To look people in the eye and tell them I love them. To truly listen when someone shares what they are going through. To find connection in even the briefest of moments because I am really seeing the person I am with, not moving on to the next time we get together.
So what I am hoping for is a few more seconds…
Lately I have been feeling extra tired. This is from lack of self-care with one of my biggest needs…sleep. I am not one of those people who can run on six hours of sleep for weeks on end. That is a recipe for emotional and physical breakdown for me. Yet somehow it often happens. The boys sleep great through the night most of the time but they have been pushing their bedtime back farther and farther each day and consistently waking up around 6am. You do the math and it makes sense that I am probably not getting the recommended amount of sleep needed per night nor is Bryan. We know it’s a season and it will pass but it still means we are tired a lot of the time.
Recently I was at a Moms group and we were talking about Self-Care. It was a great reminder that not only does my mind, heart and spirit need tending but my body as well. Grace and kindness applied to myself in lavish doses is what is required. Is this what you need to? Do you find yourself tired, functioning in a not so ‘present’ way with your spouse and children? Can you make time for more sleep/rest in the days and weeks to come? If so, do it!!! You will not regret it!!
Yet I also want to thank lack of sleep for a sweet moment I had with both my boys this morning. Cohen ended up coming and sleeping in bed with me at 4am (which never happens as I sleep even less with little bodies next to me) and by 5:30am both Cohen and Kidran were in bed with me, wide awake. Cohen was sitting up in our bed, jabbering/talking away poking at my eyes, nose and teeth while Kidran lay on the other side of me softly stroking my arm. I know there will come a day when they are grown up that I would give anything to capture one of these moments again and hold onto it for just a little bit longer which is why I am writing about it today. I will look back and long for my little boys to be 2 1/2, in bed with me in all their cuteness, snuggling, no boundaries, no concerns, just being present with their Momma whom they show generous love to daily. Yes, I will remember this morning in the coming years.
Last Sunday night I went to St. Mark’s on Capital Hill with a friend to listen to the Monks chant. This is something that I used to do on my own as well as with Bryan during university. Since moving back I have wanted to go again and experience the peace and calmness that this environment produces. In this massive church you have bodies sitting upright in pews, other sprinkled in the exterior benches and some laying down on the floor on the blanket they brought for the occasion. It is holy and unconventional. Reverent in it’s irreverence. People from all walks of life come, in silence, contemplation and respect of each other. God is clearly sang about and praised yet I imagine not everyone who attends proclaims to be a follower of Jesus. Yet when they enter this space they, in what some may consider irreverence, join in the reverence and stand, sit and lay in awe. They pause and marvel. Both those who are convinced and those still searching. It’s a beautiful illustration of the inclusiveness of Christ. He was not offended by those who did not profess him to be the Christ nor should we be offended.
This evening as I played with the boys and gave them their bath I began to think of all the areas of irreverent reverence my life encompasses, especially when it comes to my boys. So much of motherhood is finding the sacred in the ordinary. It’s finding the reverence and worship in changing the poopy nappy or wiping a dirty little face clean of food. It’s tidying up the messes that these little people create everywhere they go with a patient attitude considering it all as acts of worship. My life is full of activities that are irreverent or could be considered so, except I don’t. I choose to worship with play, with dirt, with slides and dirty hands. I worship with a tired and exhausted body that falls into bed muttering a prayer asking for a full night of uninterrupted sleep. (yes, I still pray that prayer.)
I love the pictures I have shared in this post. The bath scene is one of my favourites. My boys, initiated by Kidran, exit the bath and run into my arms. They dry off the front of their wet bodies with my clothes and I let them. They nestle in close and I hum in their ears. These are holy moments. Yes Lord, they are. When we wrestle or get ready in the morning we are together. Sometimes they pound down the door until I open it when I am doing my hair and makeup. They just want to be where I am. That is where I am moving towards with my Father. I just want to be where He is. I am asking Him to help me see the reverence in all the irreverent areas of my life. Would you consider doing the same? I would love to hear how you approach this new way of thinking and living. How do you do it? How does it change your view of your precious life? I look forward to hearing from you!
Have you ever given someone a really tight hug? The kind where your chest is pressed against their chest? The type of hug where something special takes place that you can’t always explain? That’s the kind of hug I have shared recently with the three main men in my life.
The first took place early one morning after breakfast. The boys had been up, fed and Cohen was outside crashing around as he often does. Kidran however had wandered back into the kitchen, raised his arms to me to be lifted and then proceeded to snuggle in for the sweetest, cheek to cheek, heart to heart hug. He is getting more cuddly by the day and I love it!!! What Momma wouldn’t?
Cohen’s hug came the night we got back from a short trip to Portugal to celebrate our 14 year wedding anniversary. (This only happened because of some incredible friends who took turns rotating in shifts to mind our boys!!! Laura, Lila, Lee and Louise…THANK YOU!!!!!) I was getting ready to put the boys down for bed when Cohen crawled up onto my lap. He threw his arms around my neck and squeezed me so tight with the most precious little boy hug! Cohen loves life passionately and doesn’t do things halfway!
Today Bryan and I shared one of these hugs. I am currently working on a project that I will reveal soon here on the blog. Bryan had been reviewing the project for me and afterwards, we ended up in one of those embraces. The kind that says so much without using words. The kind that says I know this body, these arms, this heart. I know this man and his life. I know him and he knows me. We shared heartbeats.
Over the years Bryan and my heart have beat for the same things, but one of the strongest heartbeats we have shared was our desire for our family. We both knew that we wanted to have children and be parents but as time went on, we weren’t exactly sure how or when that would happen. A new friend and her husband are in the same process as we were in not all that long ago. The Wheelers are a super sweet couple who have already been through several rounds of transfer and are still waiting for their miracle. They are bravely walking this journey through YouTube and you can follow them if you are interested. If you think of them, say a prayer! I am hoping and praying for their miracle! Standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes the other day I found myself sending my thoughts and prayers their direction.
Hugging my two sons is a constant reminder that I am living my miracle. Actually two of them! Bryan and I always knew we would continue to share heartbeats, we knew we would make it regardless of the outcome of our infertility treatment. Yet our hearts sharing beats with our two sons, that is beyond what I could have imagined!!!
I wish you some shared heartbeats today!!!
(These pics are from a day trip we took to the North Coast for Bryan’s birthday. Our good friend Marieke was visiting from Holland and joined us for the day. We will never tire of the Irish coastline!!!)
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We have had our 20 week scan and are delighted to announce that we will be having two boys!!! They were very proud and showed off quite a bit for us. My good friend Lynne Archer came with me to the appointment since Bryan was in Austria. It was lovely to be able to share in that moment with Lynne as she is one of the many friends who has carried our burden with us over the years so thank you Lynne! The scan was so much fun! The woman performing it was great and explained everything as she went and she was very happy with everything she saw. The boys are growing well and developing at the right rate so praise God for two beautiful, healthy boys!! The first picture above is two of our scan photos. As you can see they look quite different already which is wonderful and as soon as I saw their profiles I just fell in love!!! I cannot wait to kiss their lips and faces and just cuddle them! Bryan was so excited too and I know it was difficult for him to not be here for such a memorable moment but we have made the best out of this time and are feeling thankful for God’s continued provision and for this blessing we are experiencing.
The next two pics give you an idea of how much I am growing! I feel huge at times and have put on probably around 25lbs. I am taking it all in stride though as I am amazed at what the human body can do. The fact that I can grow and sustain the lives of these two little ones never ceases to amaze me! Thankfully I am now experiencing more pregnancy symptoms than anything else. There are still times where I can feel the scar tissue trying to stretch as the babies are growing but overall it’s not too bad. One of my favourite pregnancy symptoms is the movement of the babies! I love feeling each kick and punch. Feels like assurance that all is okay and that they are healthy, just very special.
This week is a pretty big one for us as Bryan arrives home Wednesday evening!!!! The boys and I are so excited to have their Daddy back and start working on the nursery and getting everything ready for the babies arrival. (The last pic shows a bit of what we have collected for them so far, much of it is thanks to my amazing family who threw us a baby shower before we left the states!) Bryan completed his course and passed with flying colours and I am so proud of all that he accomplished while he was away!! He truly amazes me with his ability to learn and absorb so much information in such a short time as well as his heart for people. I know he is going to be an incredible father as he already is a great husband! I also start back to work this week so I am looking forward to seeing everyone again and having a bit of routine back in my life.
Overall my heart feels full. We are in such a precious season of life and are surrounded by incredible people who have blessed us in more ways then we can count (ie. Sunday lunches at the McCammon’s, Cheryl Roberts coming and hoovering for me to keep the house nice and tidy-to name a few). Our church has truly been the church to us through this whole time. The generosity of so many has made me want to be more generous. I think knowing that we will be bringing two little lives into this world to shape and mould has made me look at our lives and ponder them. I want our boys to know how to be kind, how to be giving, how to be fun and spontaneous, adventurous and how to be intentional. More than anything though I want them to know Jesus. That has become very clear to me since becoming pregnant. Jesus is the central figure in Bryan and my life and that is the greatest legacy we can leave to our children. Not religion, not rules and regulation but a genuine and real relationship with the Creator of the universe.
My prayer is this: Abba, our children are yours. We give them back to you and thank you for entrusting them to us. Thank you!!!!!!
We left the states on the 23rd February, had a 25 hour layover in Iceland for my birthday and landed back in Belfast, Northern Ireland at 4:20pm 25th February, 2014. When our plane landed it brought me back to 9 years ago when we first moved to Northern Ireland. We had very few contacts, no jobs, no church, nothing really that would make the transition smooth. What we did have was a belief that God had called us to Northern Ireland and that He would meet us there.
This time when we landed we came home, the place where we have invested the last 9 years of our life. One of our dear friends who is more family than friend, Julie, collected us at the airport. We had our lovely home to go back to. We had a bed, food in the cupboards and a few other friends had already been ahead of us and cleaned the house for us. We were coming back to a wonderful church family that we love and have missed so much while being away. We were coming back with a promise fulfilled and it felt strangely familiar to our first arrival yet so very different. Even though it was so difficult saying our goodbyes to our incredible families and friends in the states whom we love dearly, we knew we were coming to the right place. Our hope that God would meet us here 9 years ago has been physically displayed to us by all that we have come back to and all that has happened through the years.
As you can see in the picture above, we did not travel lightly. I collected many new clothes (including both maternity and baby) while away and Bryan aquired skis and boots. We both had our concerns about how the journey home would be. Traveling with that much luggage is not easy, especially when one of you is not allowed to lift anything heavy. From our first port in Seattle our trip was smooth sailing. We had help from Pete and Molly getting everything sorted in Seattle. When we arrived in Iceland all our bags were there as were trolleys for us to push our heavy bags with. We were able to collect our rental car no problem and they extended our rental till the morning we left. All our bags fit in this tiny car like puzzle pieces perfectly cut. Our bags then arrived in Gatwick and were checked into Easyjet with only one bag being additionally charged. The whole journey was so smooth and easy. Thank you God!!!
As we reflected on the journey both Bryan and I felt God’s hand had been with us. I am not trying to over-spiritualize traveling and our luggage but we both could see it. In many ways it felt like a confirmation that we were headed to the right place. It felt like a reminder of God’s faithfulness. It also spoke to us of God’s ability and desire to show up when His children do.
Our journey back to the states to invest in our families did not seem like the logical think to do. We had finally arrived at the point where both of us had full time employment and life felt comfortable. In our history when life feels comfortable that is usually when God begins stirring us to do something unique. I am not saying this is a recipe that every person should adhere to but this seems to be the way God speaks and moves in our lives. Going back to the states was a gamble and a risk financially. Yet God provided for us every step of the way after what we had saved was gone. Family and friends dug very deep at times to take care of us. Thank you family and friends for doing so. We watched you be the church and God’s hands and feet to us during our time in the US. Without your extreme and outrageous generosity we would not be pregnant today.
When we went back to the states we also left with no intention of going through fertility treatment again. Now look at us, pregnant with twins! We thought we were merely going back to invest into our own families while God could see that we would be investing in the future of our own as well. Wow!!! What a beautiful experience to have gone through it all with our families standing by our sides!
Now we are back in our lovely home living normal life. Looking for jobs, cars, making plans for the next year and settling in again, but oh it feels so good. Daily I feel God gently reminding me that He is aware of our biggest and smallest needs. Once again we are seeing miracles daily in God’s ability to provide for our needs better than we can provide for ourselves. Our past has been a continual reminder that when we are proactive and take a few risks that God tends to show up in the gap that we could not fill. Our past is also occurring in our present and I am confident that it will be the same in the future.
Abba, thank you for bringing us back to this place that represents your promises fulfilled in so many areas of our lives. Thank you for allowing us to have a home over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear and even sunshine today. Thank you for preparing the way when we cannot even see a path. Thank you for my husband and his support in my life. Thank you for our expanding family and showing yourself faithful to us this way. Thank you for our family and friends who are still loving and supporting us from a distance and for our friends who are doing it up close. We give back to you these little lives that you have given us. We dedicate them to you. We will love them to the best of our ability and be thankful that you will always fill in the gaps. Simply put… thank you Jesus! Our hearts are full as are our lives!