Our Christmas(es)

We spent Christmas this year with our families, who, as I've mentioned before, live about an hour away on each side of us. Some of Pierce's siblings - as well as my older sister - live out of state, but we're all from the metro Atlanta area so it makes traveling for us pretty easy. Thank goodness for that, too, because Lucy.

The week before Christmas, my dad and stepmother hosted our family's annual party and it was a chaotic, messy, wonderful time with all those kiddos and people wandering around. I love them so much. We played White Elephant and Lucy got spoiled and it was great fun. I won't say I wasn't exhausted when it was over, but yeah. I really don't know how my parents lugged us all around so much when we were younger. 

On Sunday that weekend we went to our church's beautiful Christmas service and I finally got to hear someone (Chinua Hawk...a man I am convinced got his voice from the angels themselves) sing the real, raw, untampered with version of my absolute favorite carol of all time, "O, Holy Night." Chills

A pretty building I saw one day after work.
On Christmas Eve, we spent the night at my mom's house and ate dinner, played games, made fun of each other (don't come around us if you don't have at least a touch of sarcasm in your blood; you won't have any fun, although we definitely will...at your expense), drank wine, watched It's a Wonderful Life (because duh) and fell asleep much later than we intended. Christmas morning was a big breakfast with my mom, Pierce, Lucy, and little sister, and then we got dressed and drove to my in-law's house, where stuffed our faces, opened gifts, may or may not have taken naps, and played Scattergories. 

On the way home, Pierce and I talked about how much fun we had. But also about how next year we're going away for Christmas, just the three of us, and lounging around in our pajamas the whole time. My big sister and her husband are moving to Hawaii in two weeks so maybe we'll just head there. I really wouldn't complain about it.

See you all in the new year!

2015. Geez. Didn't Y2K just happen?

Merry Christmas!

When you get a shot of the whole family smiling at once, you use it for the Christmas card, people. No matter how grainy. 

Merry Christmas! We love you all and wish you the very best of this beautiful season.

How I Got Published in The Huffington Post

Well, hasn't this been an extraordinary few days?

On Wednesday night, I was driving home from work, listening to Taylor Swift's 1989 and thinking, "How in the world can I get anyone to care about my book if they don't even know who I am?" The existential and philosophical elements of this experience can be set aside for another post because, yes, they are a large part of it. But, for now, I'll stick with the practical stuff.

As you know, my debut novel will be released this June. And it's being published by a wonderful small press called BookFish Books. The upside to having a small press is that you get to know people. They talk to you, not at you. They care what you think and why. They champion your work. But the downside (a better word might be "challenge") is that much of the marketing for my book has to be done by me. Of course, my publisher works hard at that, too, but, as the name implies, it is a small press. Not a large one. So even though I have a few hundred followers on Facebook, a few hundred on Twitter, and a few hundred on Instagram, it's really not all that much. Not in terms of book sales. It needs to grow and you can't just make people push a button and follow you. It has to be more organic than that. Strategic, but organic. They have to care about what you're saying. And they have to like you. But, first, they have to know who the hell you are.

Which brings me to the lightbulb moment I had in my car.

Hey! I thought. Taylor Swift's birthday is December 13th. And she'll be 25, which is a nice, round number. I should write a fun piece listing 25 things to love about her.

Which, for a self-professed Swiftie, is not hard to do. I wrote most of the post that night on my iPhone and finalized it the next day.

For months, I had been trying to get published on The Huffington Post. I'd Googled a number of other bloggers who had written about this very subject. And their advice was super helpful. (Thanks!) But since you're here and not there, I'll tell you what worked for me.

There is a contact form on HuffPo's website where bloggers can pitch a post. It's pretty basic and I had submitted two other articles using it before. No response. From what I've read, it's kind of a black hole. I imagine it would be considering HuffPo's international audience and the number of submissions they probably receive via that form. Lots of bloggers suggested submitting to the blog team's email, but that account is reserved for current HuffPo writers who have already been published on the site. It's not for new submissions. (As I found out for myself.) Some had emailed Arianna Huffington directly and had success. Some had been approached by HuffPo when their original blog post went viral. But most had simply found the contact info for a relevant editor and submitted directly to him or her.

Which is exactly what I did.

First, I submitted my post via the contact form. And then I went back and re-read the tips I'd found and discovered one of the writers had shared a link with the names of current HuffPo editors. I searched the name of the entertainment editor on HuffPo, found an article of hers, and voila! Right beneath her byline was her email address.

At noon I emailed her my complete blog pitch and post, including links to my social media accounts, a bio, and a headshot for convenience. And five hours later I got an email from another editor welcoming me to the HuffPo blogging community. He sent me the link to set up my account and, from there, I recreated the Taylor Swift post within the HuffPo blogger dashboard. It's not that dissimilar from a Wordpress or Blogger platform. And the most wonderful part about having an account with HuffPo is that I can submit as often as I want. It's certainly not guaranteed that everything I write will be published, but it has a far greater chance.

In other words, once you're in, you're in.

I can't say for sure what grabbed their attention, but I can guess:

1) The post was timely and relevant. 

It's Taylor Swift's world right now. Her new album is selling like Girl Scout cookies and everyone (well, most everyone) loves it. And her birthday is December 13. I submitted my post on December 11.

2) I made it fun, a little humorous, and easy to read.

The Huffington Post publishes everything from topics like politics, travel, and environmental issues to parenting, books, and entertainment. But for the purpose of my post, and for the audience who would read it, the content needed to be slightly fluffy. It wasn't meant to be serious, hard-hitting journalism. It was meant to be a celebration of Taylor's birthday and a celebration of who she is as an artist and person.

3) It was a list.

HuffPo likes lists. They're easily shareable and quick reads. So I made a list. It's genuine, but also light-hearted. I couldn't really go wrong.

Also, I didn't just send the post in an email without including a pitch to grab the editor's attention. In addition, I linked almost every reference I made where I thought readers would want to see how I got my information. It was a little tedious, but it likely made the editor's job a bit easier. That's always a plus.

Here's a screenshot of the original email I sent over, the one that garnered me acceptance into the HuffPo blogging community:

If you want to read the full article, just click the link below.

To Celebrate Taylor Swift's 25th Birthday, Here are 25 Things to Love About Her

What I learned from this experience is that success, small and big, can come from unexpected places and in unexpected ways. In fact, I have learned this lesson a couple times in the last year. And having my article published in HuffPo is a stepping stone to write about other, more serious issues that are also close to my heart. It's yet another way for readers to find out about my book and my publisher. It's a bite out of the elephant that is writing and telling stories. Most importantly, it gives me a chance to show people who I am and what I'm about. And it gives them a chance to care.

Have you been published in The Huffington Post? What's your story?

He is.

Dear Lucy,

It’s Christmastime and that means your mama is filling up our house with all the things. Allllll the evergreen, quotable, shiny, sparkly, merry things. There’s this website called Pinterest and it’s really popular right now. It’s a virtual pin board for practically everything you could ever want/need/envy and it’s kind of dangerous. It can suck you in. I fall into it, quite on purpose, nearly every holiday, especially this one. It’s just so fun! It has all the ideas, all the crafts, all the stuff. It’s beautiful. But it’s not reality, so your mama is trying to learn how to be careful. It’s easy to get trapped and think the whole world looks like a Pinterest photo when, in reality, a huge pile of laundry is usually hidden back behind the camera. Nothing, and no one, is perfect, Lucy Jane. Don’t forget that.

But it’s our imperfections that often make for the best stories. The happiest memories. The funniest jokes. I have quite a few about your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, and your cousins that I would love to share with you one day. Imperfection is really quite lovely if you think about it. Seriously. How boring would the world be if we never had to grow, or learn, or say we’re sorry? Sometimes the sweetest moments come after the most bitter arguments. Should we always try our best to be kind, to love the way Jesus loved? Of course. But we aren’t Jesus. That’s the whole point of Jesus. He took care of our messes so we could stop thinking that we had to be perfect all the time. He makes us perfect so we can be free and live. Love. Serve. Imperfections and all.

Which brings me back to my original point: It’s CHRISTMAS. Hell yeah, Christmas. It’s the best ever.

Your first Christmas came just one short month after you were born. I was still in that “Oh no, who thought it was a good idea to give me a baby?” phase and, so, the holiday was a little tougher than I liked to admit. Thank sweet baby Jesus that you were (and still are) such a sweet kid because my hormones and emotions were wreaking havoc on me. Your dad and I didn’t have the energy to go out and purchase a real tree again, so we put up our trusty, old fake one. And she did her job well. She was pre-lit so all we had to do was pop you in your rocker, fluff some branches, and hang the ornaments. You stared at the lights like they were boobies and it was feeding time. And on Christmas Eve, I was determined to initiate you into the It’s a Wonderful Life Fan Club, so the three of us snuggled up together on the couch together and proceeded to watch the greatest Christmas movie ever made.

But sometime around eleven thirty, I woke up and realized we had missed the last half hour, the very best part. The classic, ugly cry-inducing portion where George Bailey realizes his life has value and Clarence gets his wings. I was so upset. How could I have failed at motherhood so quickly? Your daddy tried to console me, but it was fruitless. We turned off the tree and went to bed and I fell asleep feeling like, somehow, I had just lowered the standard for every Christmas to come. 

But here we are again, one year later, and everything is a bit brighter, a bit jollier than normal. Just like every December. The world still has lots of terrible things going on, some of which have hit very close to your mama’s heart, but one thing has not changed. And that is Christmas. When your life gets hard, as it most certainly will sometimes, you will always have Christmas. It might not be December when you fail that test or when you lose someone you love or when you say something you shouldn’t…but Christ is constant. He is Emmanuel, God With Us. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is all the grace you need when you lose your patience or make a mistake. He is love and life and joy. He is laundry piles behind cameras and candid laughter caught on film. He is everything that is good.

He IS.



5 Things I Didn't Know Before I Became a Wife & Mother

Before I got married, I heard this a hundred times:

"When are you having kids? You don't want to wait too long!"

And right after I gave birth to my daughter, this followed:

"When do you think you'll have another one? She's going to need a little brother or sister."

People, please. Get a grip on yourselves, okay? What's the hurry? I'll be the first to admit that, as humans, time is not on our side. And in our culture we feel an almost desperate urgency to CREATE! ACCOMPLISH! HURRY! RUSH! So much is at our fingertips. But relationships take time. Making a baby takes time. Building a family and a home takes time. We understand your inquiries. Really, we do. But it doesn't mean they're always welcome, particularly right after we've just put a ring on it. Or when we're still sporting giant mesh underwear from the hospital.

I have been so guilty of these things. I have been the well-meaning stranger who just didn't get it. And that's the purpose of this post. I can't expect anyone to fully understand what they haven't experienced, but maybe I can help point them in a better direction when they feel the urge to assume their words are better spoken. For those of you who have experienced marriage and parenthood, you should know better. Let's do better.

Now, while there are definitely more than just five things I didn't know before I became a wife and mommy, these are the five I've found to be most valuable. And I want to pass them on to others who don't yet know what it's like, or who have no interest in knowing but still feel the need to offer their opinions.

1) It's totally okay to have beliefs about a subject. About any subject. But if you want to make it in the world, and not push everyone away in the process, you've got to be open to the idea that your beliefs might change.

It's called being flexible. I'm not talking a commitment to your faith here. I'm talking about issues regarding finances, sex, communication, lifestyle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, raising children, and more. Before I got married, I was decidedly against a woman not changing her last name. But once I became a wife, I understood that maintaining your own identity in a marriage is not only necessary, it's healthy. And while my belief that marriage was designed for the unity of flesh, spirit, and purpose, I also think the legal red tape is a pain in the a-double-s and I can see why some people avoid it. I can also see how choosing not to change your last name is a way of holding onto your distinct identity within the marriage. Having the same surname is my personal preference, but I don't think not having one in any way prevents couples from being united.

That being said, everyone is entitled to their opinions, no matter their age, life experience, or background. But until you've actually been married or had a child, be aware the rest of us are looking at you and thinking, "Uh-huh. Just wait."

2) You will not always like your husband. Or your child.

Love is such an incredibly complex and, yet, stunningly simple thing. We fall into it but then we have to keep choosing it. Falling is easy. Staying can be hard.

To make a marriage work, you have to look at your spouse on days when things are falling apart and choose to love him or her despite the mess. The emotions attached to love are very much hormonal. Nothing proved that more to me than giving birth. But hormones change. Your free will doesn't, and that's the gift you've been given which allows you the awesome opportunity to keep working. Keep talking. Keep nurturing. Keep praying. Keep loving. Your baby is cute right now, but when she's been screaming in the backseat for half an hour you will not be her biggest fan.

I, for one, am glad that my life is not totally under the authority of my emotions because they can be fickle and impressionable. The beauty is that I get to choose. And when I see my husband giggling with our daughter, it's easy to forget the other stuff.

3) The hand-held devices are dangerous. Put them away.

I mean this in a literal sense. Have you ever been watching Netflix on your iPhone and had it fall on your face? Ouch.

I also mean it in a figurative sense. There is nothing more mindlessly entertaining than social media, but if we want to connect with people, especially our families, we have to LET. GO. AND. STEP. AWAY. FROM. THE. IPHONE.

Smart phones weren't really a big thing when I married my husband back in 2008, but my Kindle was. And so was the television. And gaming consoles. Sometimes, Pierce and I would play Super Mario Kart or Rock Band on the Wii together. But more often than not these devices served as tools that would accidentally distract us from each other. And the risk of distraction is even higher now with more at our fingertips and a busy baby on-the-go.

This is one my hubby and I still struggle with because we are both very active on social media and interested in the news. But we are getting better. And I'm telling you now how important it is to be intentional with your family because the busier you get, the easier it is to turn to meaningless entertainment for release. Take the time to turn to each other.

4) Breastfeeding hurts. So do what you've got to do.

Even if you choose not to breastfeed, there will come a time when your beautiful boobies become hard as rocks, either because you're allowing the milk to dry up or because it's been too long since a feeding. It's a fact of being pregnant and giving birth. And it hurts almost as much as contractions do. It's like getting a titty-twister for hours on end and then lighting your nipples on fire.

If you're going with formula and letting your supply dry up, I will pray for God to send you angels with ice packs. If you're nursing, you need to get your baby (or pump) STAT. People who haven't experienced this pain should be quiet about nursing moms. You don't know their story, so don't assume they're trying to make you uncomfortable or being disrespectful by nursing in public. First, it's their right, whether you like it or not. Second, it's a mother feeding her child. Hooray for babies not going hungry! And, third, if you are still vehemently opposed to a split-second flash of breast (Oh, the horror!), I'll give you an hour-long titty-twister and then we can talk.

5) When you become a mother, there will be things that people didn't tell you are hard. And there will be things people told you are hard that aren't.

Every mother is different. Every child is different. Your son's struggle with sleeping might not be mine. My daughter's difficulty gaining weight might not be yours. So have some grace for the mamas, even if you aren't one. We're all just trying to do the best we can with what we have.

What five things would you share about marriage and parenthood?


This is my 500th post. And while I don't think writing about my own life and adding yet another personal diary to the interwebs makes me Special Sally, it's still nice to reach this milestone. It's a beautiful thing to me, mostly because I know Lucy will always have a place that commemorates the early years of her mom and dad's marriage, as well as the early years of her life. I want her to know what we were like before we became parents. What we were like when we were trying be grown-ups for the first time. What we were like when we found out she was on her way. Growing up, I never really thought of my mom and dad as anyone except, well, Mom and Dad. And sometimes I wish I could have known them before that time. This blog remains for just that reason: it's a virtual scrapbook. A photo album and journal. A time capsule for when we're all too old to remember.

Before I go, I thought I'd share a few Thanksgiving photos. We spent the day with my in-laws and it was so relaxing. We weren't running from here to there, trying to fit in visits with everyone on the same day. There are perks to both of us having grown up in the metro Atlanta area, but the gas bill is not one of them.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

My sweet sister-in-law, Cassi

"Lucy, where's your tongue?"

Lucy's first taste of stuffing...she loved it!

"Seriously, you guys?"

Papa Ray with the glorious bird

Ready for a big, messy dinner

Because what Thanksgiving is complete without The Holiday to kickstart Christmas season?

Black Friday shopping with Lucy and Lena, who basically killed us with this sweetness

And, now, onto all the Christmas things!

twelve months

Lucy OUT.
I feel like I've pretty much exhausted all the resources I have for commiserating the sappy, emotional experience that is watching my baby turn one. In truth, I feel overwhelmed with gladness even more than I feel nostalgic, although I certainly won't deny the tears I've cried. I've said the things I hated hearing when she was a tiny little baby (wait, she was almost ten pounds at birth...she was never tiny). 

"Where did the time go?!"

"Are we really here already?"

"Babies don't keep."

It happens to the best of us. I just hope I can stop myself before I say it to an unsuspecting new mommy one day while we're standing in line at the grocery store. I was successful at the doctor's office yesterday, so there's that.

I suppose I should skip the novel since I've already written so many of them about Lucy and just say this has been a wonderful, awkward, messy, fearful, stretching, growing, refining year. One of the best ever. And I'm glad it's over. I feel like I have some confidence and gumption under my belt now. I don't know it all, but I know something. And something is a lot more than nothing. So I move forward into my second year as a mother (technically my third year, but for the first I was gestating so, really, I can only claim excellence at being a living human) and I do it with the relief that we all survived. We made it through and we are the happier for it. Our faith got a bit bigger. Our tear ducts made themselves useful. And mama got herself a few more smile lines. 

Now, onto the milestones!

Height: 29 inches

Weight: 24 pounds

Mobility: A full-blown walker baby, baby. Starting to climb (eek!).

Food: Transitioning now from formula to whole milk. Seems to be going okay, so far, but our pediatrician informed us she's still getting too much and we need to trim it back to about 16 oz. a day. She eats three meals a day, plus a snack or two of veggie sticks or cheerios, but we almost always give her some kind of bottle with them or as a replacement meal. Our goal is to have her down to one bottle when she wakes up and one at night before bed within a few weeks. She eats pretty much anything, so at least that's not a concern. I'm going to make a meal plan for her soon ("You have a plan to make a plan?" Name that movie!).

Sleeping: Through the night, with occasional wake-up calls for a diaper change or bottle. Naps twice a day for about 1-2 hours.

Favorites: Eating, sleeping, playing, music, "reading" her books, climbing up onto and rocking her little chair, general silliness, being in new places, babbling to strangers and pointing at them, learning new words (she giggles a lot when we practice them together)

Dislikes: Not getting fed fast enough, missing naps, being dropped off with new people (like Sunday school), being stopped in the car for two long (red lights, grr), loud noises, shots, sitting on the paper at the doctor's office (see below)

Can Sign: All done, more, milk, please (makes my heart burst every time!), her own little version of mama, and food

Can Say: Mama, Dada, dog ("dah!"), cat ("kah!"), uh-oh, duck (duh!"), all done ("ah duh!") and a few others I can't remember

Can Point Out: Dog, cat, favorite toys, her head, her ears, and her toes

Lucy Turns One + A Video

Have you ever looked around at your life and just thought, "This is it. This. Is. It!" I had one of those moments on Saturday during baby girl's first birthday party. I was sitting on the living room floor with Pierce and Lucy, surrounded by family and friends, opening her gifts, and I could have just cried. I've never been someone who throws good parties. I wish I had that skill, I really do. I'm crafty and I'm friendly, but I'm not a skilled hostess. I would rather invite you over, let you rummage through my pantry, and give you a blanket so you could cuddle up on the couch in your sweats. That's my jam, right there. But on Saturday everything came together beautifully and, without a doubt, it all comes down to the big, fat, beautiful love we all share for Lucy Jane. It turns out she's been the missing piece to so much in our lives. 

It was one of the best days I can remember. Thank you, with all of my heart, to everyone who came to celebrate our girl. Thank you for your time, your hugs, your excitement, your gifts, and your love. You guys are my people.

Also, a big thanks to Kati, our unofficial family photographer, and to Cassi, for capturing such sweet moments. Love you guys.

Finally, here's the video I put together for Lucy's first year. I totally didn't cry the whole time, either. Not at all.


It's so strange that this day has finally arrived.

Kati, you were such a surprise, in so many different ways.

I was the youngest. I didn't want a younger sibling. And, yet, there you were, all red-faced and smooshy-nosed and needing all kinds of things I didn't understand as an eleven year old.

I rocked you to sleep in mom and dad's bedroom, cradling you awkwardly in two long, gangly arms and whispering "Shush, shush, Kati" over and over. You cried, I cried. It was all very "Circle of Life" and I wondered why in the world anyone ever had children. Now I know.

My favorite memories of us are driving around town in my Camaro together, eating Wendy's french fries and talking about things that were far beyond your years, and probably mine, too. I grew up as I watched you grow up and, now, the eleven years that separate us don't seem so far apart.

You got all the good stuff, kid: Beth's heart, Tommy's humor, my faith. You are the best of all of us. It's been some of the best years of my life, being your sister.

And that very early morning I left for college, when you fell asleep holding a picture of us together at Disney World? It makes total sense now. Someone get me that photo, stat.

Happy birthday Kati Bug. I love you.

catching up and taking stock

Hello friends!

Been seeing a lot of these lists lately on blogs I love, and since my only original ideas are the ones I use for book writing, well, here we are. 

 plans for Lucy's birthday next week (!)
drinking: an iced caramel coffee...I'm the person who still loves iced drinks even in 30 degree weather
wanting: a hairstylist
watching: Gilmore Girls (almost done with season six!)
listening: lately it's been nothing but those 1989 jams
eating: cinnamon oatmeal with apples and raisins
smelling: pumpkin candles and coffee brewing
wishing: for peace
enjoying: every new milestone with Lucy and time with dear friends
loving: my husband and teeny tiny baby topknots
hoping: for a slow holiday season...it always speeds by too quickly
needing: wisdom and patience
feeling: happy and full of excitement for all the good things to come
wearing: gray tights, a white tee, wool socks, and a big, cozy sweater
bookmarking: this last week of Lucy's first year (cue the leaky faucet)

What are you taking stock of these days?

11 Months

Clearly, Lucy is not a fan of the monthly photos anymore.

Here are some quick updates on our girl, as well as a post I never meant to write, but couldn't help.

Food: Lucy eats well; not much has changed there. We're trying to wean her off the bottle by introducing the sippy cup. She's not having it. I've had glimpses of her teenage self during this period of transition. She's rather talented at throwing things in protest.

Milestones: Baby girl is chatting up a storm these days. She still babbles most of the time, but it's becoming more consistent with her experiences, such as pointing and "asking" something in an inquisitive tone of voice. She can say "mama", "dada", "gah" or "dah" (both of these mean dog), "ki ka" (kitty cat), "neh ka" (necklace), "ah dah" (all done), "baba (bottle), and, her absolute favorite, "uh oh" which she likes to use whenever she purposefully drops something. Also, Lucy can sign "milk" and "bottle" (which can basically be used interchangeably), "mama", "please", "all done", "food" and "eat (again, used interchangeably), and "more". It's so fun to watch her learn language skills and see how quickly she picks everything up!

Lucy is also taking a few steps on her own. She can stand easily without support and move, but she usually gets so excited about walking that she'll start waving her arms and fall over. It's adorable. Full-fledge walking is coming soon...

Teeth: 6 (four on top, two on bottom)

Height/Weight: At her last appointment a month ago, Lucy weighed 22 pounds and was 28.5 inches long. She is already growing out of some of her 12 month clothing and wearing 18 month sizes.

Favorites: Mama, daddy, family and friends, being in new places, watching people, eating, playing, reading, sleeping, putting every. single. thing. in her mouth, bath time, Lamby (her stuffed lamb), being outdoors, sweet flavors, making music, dancing, and singing (she is starting to imitate melodies...and it kills me every time!)

Dislikes: Being in the car for too long, missing naps, playing alone in her crib for longer than five minutes, having her teeth brushed, having her face wiped, loud noises


One more month. That's all. And then baby Lucy won't be a baby anymore. She's already moving so quickly away from that particular category that it make me feel sort of panicked. And also sort of relieved. Sometimes I still can't believe we made it through the first month. Lucy was (is) such a sweet, easy-going child, but the emotions...oh, the emotions. The anxiety. The crippling fear that somehow I was going to end up breaking her and myself in the process. But that fear, although not completely gone, has slipped quietly under the bed of truth I now rest on and it only comes out in the dark moments, when the light isn't keeping it hidden and just as frightened of failing as the rest of us. That's all fear really is, I've decided. Insecure. Hoping to be noticed. Wanting to succeed. But it never will because it can't really. It's not real. Thank God for that.

As we get well into this new season, I've discovered a peace that certainly surpasses all understanding. Things aren't always easy, but that's what makes this peace so rich. So encompassing, like a favorite sweater, or a cup of coffee, during a winter storm. And having this peace, experiencing all these wonderful new joys during my favorite time of year, has given me a more intimate look at my Jesus, how He loves to love us. When I watch Lucy sleep, I feel what it must be like for our heavenly Father: the deep, burning desire to give her all the good things in the world. The hope that she will come to know and love her Savior, and that His love will pour out of her into everyone she meets. I see flashes of her future - talkative and curious at age four, gentle and imaginative at age seven, awkward and angsty at age thirteen, independent and headstrong at seventeen - and pray that she will come through every stage knowing a little bit more about how much we love her. And, yes, I pray that she will love me back. Because I might be an adult but being a mother makes me needy for love in ways I've never been before. I have felt it in the way it's meant to be felt: fully, unconditionally, down to the marrow of my bones. And there's no coming back from that.

I love you, Lucy darling. That's all there is to say.

A Walk with My Best Girl

Yesterday, after work, I took Lucy on a walk around the neighborhood. It was a perfect crisp afternoon and the leaves are starting to fall around here, so we couldn't pass it up. At the risk of sounding incredibly redundant, I just love this season. The last three months of the year are an eternal favorite, not least of all because of the holidays, particularly Christmas, but also because of the smells, the sounds, and the beautiful colors. The only downside to it is that cooler weather means winter is around the bend, but let's not talk about that now. Let's just talk about these pictures.

*Lucy's hat was a gift from a relative who is living as a missionary in Latvia with her husband