I quit.


So the book in this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, except for the fact that the title kind of fits with where I'm at today. And where I'll be tomorrow.

You guys, I'm quitting. I'm quitting with the crap that fills up my life and my stomach and my mind and I'm starting over. Fresh. Renewed. Refilled.

Alive.

I've been dead to true goodness for a long time. I've allowed these long-lasting seasons of anxiety to infect my entire life and lead me to other bad habits, one of those being the way I eat. 

Sugar tastes good. Okay, it tastes amazing. And I'm utterly addicted to it.

MSGs taste good, too. And so do preservatives. And partially hydrogenated oils. But man, oh man, do they make me feel like crap. Useless. Dried up. And in two hours I'm craving them more.

It's the same story with my money, my time, and my thoughts.

I want more and more. And then I waste it all on junk. Just like an addict.

I feel so tired of it, you guys. So tired of filling myself up with things, things that aren't bad on their own, but have become crutches for me to avoid filling myself up with God. With real food. With the Word.

I so long for a new spirit. For a new mind. For a new body.

I long for a new life. 

I've spent a lot of time missing my "better" days. The college days. The early marriage days. When life was simple and my confidence soared. But the truth is that the seeds of insecurity and fear were planted long before those days and I had no idea they were growing like weeds inside my heart. Until one day they burst through the soil and took over all the places I treasured most.

So I quit. Enough is enough.

There is no magic day to make changes. Every moment is an opportunity to change. But I wanted to prepare myself for the all-or-nothing transformation I have decided to undergo, so I put a date on it. 

May 1st, 2014.

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow I'm giving up refined and processed sugars. Tomorrow I stop eating ingredients I can't pronounce (unless they're in French because, hello). Tomorrow I get up early to spend time in the Word. Time with God. REAL time. Conversation. Intimacy. And coffee, of course.

For months I've been praying for answers to my questions and worries. I've been searching my heart and the hearts of others to get some peace about what I feel. And the only answer that keeps coming back to me is more of God. More of His creation. More of what's real...in EVERY way.

If you would, I'd like to ask you to pray for me. Giving up sugar and processed foods + being diligent about my time with the Lord are not going to be easy things. Not at all. But I am excited. So excited! 

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go finish my Zaxby's chicken fingers.

5 months


Baby girl is five months old today! Last night, I spent an hour going through all her clothes, folding up the newborn and 0-3 month outfits she can't wear and pulling out the 6-9 month clothes stored underneath her crib. It's incredible how fast she's grown and how quickly we've gone through so many tiny things. I got a little misty as I was packing up the items the want to save, like the outfit she wore home from the hospital, the dress from her first Christmas, and the little hat and jacket combo she wore on Thanksgiving. I topped it off with one half of her first pair of shoes (the other half was lost in the church parking garage), the tan booties Pierce and I were holding in our pregnancy announcement. I can't wait to show her all those special things when she's a bit older.

Anyway, here are some updates on our little miss Lucy:

Likes: Rice cereal (see video below for her first feeding...so darling!), boobies + bottles, talk time, playing with her toys, smiling at mama and papa, cuddles, being worn, music, loud places like restaurants and church (such a blessing for us that this sweet girl is so interested in the world + could nap during a hurricane), people watching, listening to us read (hooray!), her paci, bath/shower time, and being outside.


Dislikes: Being left alone for more than five seconds (I promise she's safe if we walk out of the room...she's usually lying in her rocker or sitting in her Bounce Bounce Baby), stopping at red lights + stop signs, missing naps (mama and papa don't like that either), diaper + outfit changes, and sudden loud noises.

New Milestones: I'm pretty sure I've already mentioned that Lucy has found her feet + loves putting her toes in her mouth. It's pretty darn adorable. She's also propping herself up very well on her elbows, "swimming" when she's on her tummy, rolling from front to back, grabbing things she's interested in (like toys, bottles, or mama's hair), and babbling more intelligibly (most common sounds are "ba ba ba" and "da da da"...Pierce loves that).

Height + Weight: At her 4-month check-up last week, Lucy was 25.6 inches long and weighed 14.5 pounds. So glad she's finally catching up!

Happy 5 months, baby girl! You are our favorite.


like Masterpiece Theater, but not.


I'm a little bit of a nerd, in a whole lot of ways, and one of those ways is genealogy. I've always loved history - particularly American and British history - and when you mix that up with family, you may as well have offered me crack for how excited I get.

(Another nerdy obsession of mine: the British monarchy...I actually got up at 6 a.m. local time to watch the royal wedding a few years ago...I mean, the Duchess of Cambridge? C'mon. Gorge.)

I love movies like "The Patriot" and "Braveheart" (maybe I just love Mel Gibson?) and when I was little Felicity was my favorite American Girl doll. There's just something so romantic about a group of people coming together to fight for something they believe in...and winning. Knowing that my ancestors were Scottish and English has often made me wonder whether they were witness to these events. Did they fight in any wars? When did they arrive in America? What did they do here? 

Who were they?

My mind tends to wander, if you haven't already noticed, and when I'm standing in an old building or walking through an antique shop, I often stop to imagine what those things have seen. What happened in their rooms. What precious personal items they held. Time is such a strange thing, the way it passes. How it never stops. And seconds turn to hours which turn to days and weeks and years. Generations. Centuries. How someone you know knew someone else who knew someone else who knew your ancestor. It kind of blows my mind. We're never that far removed from our roots.

Over the years, I've learned the stories of my family. My grandfather's sister, Linda, has told us all kinds of things about their great-grandfather, John Gillian Barclay. We thought he was the first of our family who moved here from Scotland, but it turns out his father came, too. I have a small, silver snuffbox he was gifted by the employees of the Ferguson Brother's Factory Mile End in Glasgow for his "impartial conduct towards them" in 1839. This week, I found the record of his arrival on Ancestry. It's likely father and son came together and their ship, the Franconus, arrived in New York on May 29, 1850. 

This is the first tangible evidence I've found of John Gillian's father, who was also named John. And I write these things here to protect them, to keep them safe in one place where I won't lose them, to write them out and commit them to memory. These pieces of history are little treasures to me.

Amazingly, if you dig enough on Ancestry you'll stumble across other living family members. John Gillian has multiple profiles because multiple people have created them for their family trees. My aunt and I each have one. And a couple other people do, too; however, their profiles of him are incomplete because he's a more obscure relative of theirs and they know little about him. It's crazy to look through their family trees and discover that I'm looking at the Ancestry account of my 6th cousin. I emailed back and forth with a lady who is descended from John Gillian and his first wife, Mary. I'm descended from the children of his third wife, Martha. The woman I talked to lives in Oklahoma and she didn't even know John Gillian was married more than once...and he is her great-great-grandfather! I was able to tell her where he was buried, that he served in the Union Navy, and had many more children. 

But what she gave me was even more precious. 


This is a photo of my great-great-great-grandfather, John Gillian Barclay. All I'd ever seen up to last week was a painting of him (pictured at the top of this post). He is the spitting image of my father and seven years ago, when my great-aunt Linda pulled that painting out of storage, we all gasped because it was like looking at an older version of my dad. 

When I stumbled across this photo of John Gillian, I gaped at it for about five minutes, taking in all the elements of his dress, his expression, his posture. And that top hat! Can we just marvel at that for a second, please?

Here was a man who traveled across an ocean to start a new life in New York, who served this country as a lowly landsman in the Civil War, who married and was widowed and married twice more, who raised babies who became my family, who moved to Georgia and died and was buried, alone, in a quiet country cemetery in 1906. 

I wish I had more answers to my questions. There are secrets surrounding his departure from Scotland that we might never discover. Whispers of murder and then mob activity in New York, prompting him to sign up for military service. Whether these things were accidental or the regrets of a young man too foolish to know better, I'm sure I'll never know. But I suppose that's part of the fun. The mystery of who we are and where we come from. The good and the bad, the mundane and the exciting. 

His story is part of mine, and mine will one day be part of another. And thanks to the internet and this little blog, maybe they'll have fewer unanswered questions. 

So cheers to you, family! I'm so glad you're mine.

what "they" can't tell you


Everyone tries, Lucy girl. Oh, Lord, how they try.

They try to tell you that when you become a mother, everything will change. That sleep will become an elusive creature whose presence will make you remember that you were once a living, breathing person and not a zombie. That time will stop and speed up. That you will never, ever be the same.

They'll also tell you about remedies for this illness or that, about why breastfeeding is best or actually not necessary, about how co-sleeping is dangerous and so are crib bumpers, and about how your body will never go back to the way it was.

I think the most important thing I've learned since becoming a mother is that people Never. Stop. Talking. And it's up to you whether or not you want to listen.

Lucy, love, t won't start when you get pregnant or when your first baby is born. It will start as soon as you make your own voice heard. Sometimes people will agree with you and other times they won't. Please don't be afraid to speak up, with grace and a little bit of gumption, and tell them how you feel. As long as you do it with both, you can't be held accountable for how they respond. You'll try because you care. But that will only make you frustrated and weary. 

So listen up: the only people we can control are ourselves. And that's hard enough.

At some point (maybe even now, if you're old enough to read and understand this), I will become one of "them" to you. My voice will put you on edge and you'll probably think I'm completely out of touch with reality. I'm okay with that (well, not really, but hopefully I will be by the time you feel that way). I'm not here to make you happy. Do I want you to be happy? Of course, I do. That's why I hug you and kiss you and sing to you and play silly games and make faces. To see you smile. To make you happy. To help you understand how much your papa and I adore you. But that's only part of why we're here. Your happiness is not our ultimate goal. Your peace is.

Unfortunately, peace is hard to come by. Our world is chaotic, and busy, and distracted. Things (especially iPhones) often get in the way of people, which means we'll have to fight to get your attention in ways my own parents never had to...but we'll find a way. Your peace is too important to cast aside along with the things we treasure for so fleeting a time. 

When you need a reminder of what is good and what is real, don't look to "them". The world. Your phone. Your computer. Your books (though I can't say I'll be disappointed if, in the throes of teen angst, you spend your days cooped up in your bedroom reading...just in case you're wondering, that is my preferred method of brooding). Your papa and I will give you reminders - and so will all your other loved ones - as much as we can. But while you're still listening to my voice, here's what I need you to do when the shit hits the fan:

Look up. Look to the One who made you. He can make sense of things that don't make sense. And even if He chooses not to (because He's God and sometimes He does that), trust that His ways are not ours and that's a good thing. We tend to make messes.

Lucy, I look at you and marvel every day. To think of how my body made yours - of how God designed my womb to carefully craft your every intricate detail - is nothing short of magnificent. And, I'll be honest, it's far too easy to forget that when schedules and work and to-do lists (and our damn iPhones) get in the way. Don't worry, though; we don't forget for too long. Because as easy as it can be to let our minds get caught up in the chaos, loving you is even easier. 

"They" won't tell you that. But we will. And so will He.

Day in and day out.

Atlanta in the spring

It's raining cats and dogs here today (and I can't really complain because at least it's getting rid of all that nasty yellow pollen), but the last week has been perfection. Sunny, clear skies, warm days, and lots of Vitamin D. We've taken Lucy to the park to swing and slide, had picnics while Daddy played basketball, and last Friday we took her on her first field trip to the Newton County Fire Department with Amber (our daycare provider) and her daughter, Naphtali.

Spring, feel free to stick around as long as you'd like.















{All photos via my iPhone; hence, the poor quality}

Becoming Mrs. Walsh: A Review + Interview with Author Jessica Gordon


Hello there and happy Friday! Today I've got author Jessica Gordon stopping by to answer a few questions about her new novel Becoming Mrs. Walsh - a fun, easy read filled with some good ol' fashioned romance and family drama - and I'm excited to introduce her to you guys! But, first, let's get to know more about her book, yes?

Becoming Mrs. Walsh: A Summary
Shoshana Thompson is 26 years old, miles from home, and engaged to Andrew Walsh, the last single Walsh brother of one of Washington, D.C.’s wealthiest families. Throughout her engagement she becomes enamored with the Walsh lifestyle. Life in the fast lane comes to a screeching halt when Shoshana develops feelings for another man. When she discovers the feelings may not be one-sided, things are about to get a lot more complicated. This man is not only part of her fancy new world, he is also completely off-limits.

Becoming Mrs. Walsh: What I Think
I think we can all relate to this story in one way or another. At some point in time, we've been on the outside of a very inclusive family, whether it's the family of a friend or significant other. And it can be tough to try and respect existing family dynamics while also establishing a place for yourself. I've seen it in my own family and I've experienced it as a new girlfriend (and now wife) with my in-laws. In Becoming Mrs. Walsh, Sho faces this same dilemma. The real tension, however, comes from Sho's changing feelings towards her fiance, Drew. It's not easy being engaged to someone who has to keep so much of himself secret...and learning to love his family at the same time means Sho is somewhat at odds with herself...more, I felt, than with the Walsh family.

What I loved most about this novel is that, to me, it felt like a story about women. Strong women. Privileged women. Insecure women. And all the issues that we face in our lives and in our relationships. Perhaps it's because I just had a baby and am still experiencing so much of that postpartum transition, but that's where this book really connected with me.

Want to learn more about Becoming Mrs. Walsh? Check out my interview with Jessica Gordon below!

Jessica Gordon
WK: "It's difficult for anyone to find their place in a new family. How would you say Shoshana succeeded in her attempts to navigate those sometimes treacherous waters?"

JG: "I think Shoshana did the best she could with what was at hand. She tried to fit in but fitting in with the Walshes is especially hard.The Walsh world is so vastly different than anything she had ever experienced especially coming from such modest roots. I found that she was completely overwhelmed yet in awe of their lifestyle. This made it hard for her because she lost sight of herself somewhere along the way. For the moments when she is unsure and doesn't stay true to herself I find her less successful at it. I wanted to see her rise to the challenge more. On the other hand, I think she did a very good job of being astute and adaptable. She rolled with the punches and all things considered became very acclimated to Walsh-world in a small period of time and that is no easy task." 

WK: "What or who was your inspiration for Birdie?"

JG: "Birdie is one of my favorite characters. I love her resilience, grace and beauty. She is such a special woman. My mother-in-law is a very strong woman who is extremely accomplished, efficient, and effervescent. My own mother has a quiet strength and elegance. The women in my life are independent and interesting. Birdie has a piece of each woman in my life that I admire."

WK: "Why did you want to share this story and what gave you the encouragement you needed to see it through to the end?"

JG: "I love that it is a story of relationships. Relationships between family members, in-laws, brothers, and sisters-in-law. The encouragement I needed really came from my passion for this story. I loved writing it and I really enjoyed the Walsh family. I liked seeing how they interacted and by the end of the book I wanted to be part of the fun. I had a reader ask me where she can get a Walsh brother. I thought that was pretty funny. It is a family that seems fun and glamorous. No family is perfect, but they come pretty close. The sisters-in-law are also such an important part of the book. As Sho said, "They are like the halfway point between a sister and a friend." I was very struck by that. Having two sisters-in-law myself and a sister, I found the dynamic fascinating. With sisters-in-law you have the intimate shared family experience the same as sisters but you grew up in different homes, same as friends. It is like being intimate with people that were perfect strangers before you met them yet you now share the same family secrets."

Connect with Jessica by visiting her official website here, or say hello on Twitter or Facebook

Thank you for letting me into the Walsh World, Jessica, and I look forward to reading your next book!