Category Archives: To learn

Humbled almost every day

I can’t remember perfectly clearly, but I think I may have thought I had it all together before I had kids. This is probably just my memory playing tricks on me, or sleep deprivation playing tricks on me, but this is how I’m thinking these days. Sure, I didn’t have it all together, but I certainly never let others down, or myself down, to the degree I do now that I’m a mother- especially a mother of two.

Today I raised my voice at my 20 month old. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d do that. In my pre-kid dreams of one day being a mother, I thought I’d have endless patience, a calm voice day and night, a serene, yet super fun demeanor despite any challenges that were posed day or night.

That was before I was tested. I think it’s easier to think you have it all together when you have lots of time to yourself, when you can go out with your spouse to a dinner and movie and not think about how much you’ll pay for that late night with the 6am wake-up call, when you can make dinner without one yelling from the bathroom to come wipe their bottom and the other hanging on your leg begging you to wipe their green snot off their face (bet you’re itching for an invitation to our home for dinner now!), when you drink coffee hot…

A round of illness is working it’s way through our house. Since I’ve not slept well for over a week- I can’t get into a deep sleep when I hear their coughs from another room and know I’ll be needed any minute- now I’m the last to get sick. Sophia seems to be on the upswing- praise!- and if I can find time to sleep, to drink a hot cup of tea, to get outside for fresh air, I may feel better soon as well. And, I hope this grumpy mommy leaves as well, although this grumpiness that flares up from seemingly nowhere reminds me of my need for Jesus, so I’m thankful for it.


Someone else is fed up with this illness that is working it’s way through our house!

I’m so thankful for my children. I’m so thankful that life with them shows me that I really, REALLY, don’t have it all together. I train them and mold them best I know how, and then I fail, and need to ask forgiveness, and by my failings, and through my repentance, I show them that I need Jesus too- more than I ever thought! I remind myself that I need grace just as much as they need grace. I’m humbled because not only do I not have it all together, I can’t even begin to fool myself or anyone else into thinking I have it all together. For better or worse.

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

I’m always praying and asking for more wisdom…. first things first, I guess!

Even when tired, there’s always the joy that comes when baking with a really cute ballerina.balletbaking


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2016 Reading adventures

I hope to continue to read and learn more in this year than ever. I have plans to really scale down social media and other time wasters to enjoy letting my brain soak up more of what really matters to me most.


Here are some of the books I’ve read already:

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics– The ultimate, and I mean ultimate, underdog story. Scott and I read this one aloud together, and I think we always wanted to read one more chapter. I’m proud to be an American!

Desperate: Hope for the Mom who needs to breathe; Sally Clarkson is just so darn wise. I couldn’t resist as it was only $1.99. I don’t feel particular desperate in this season, but I thought a little dose of encouragement wouldn’t hurt. Glad I read it. Good reminders in there, and so much wisdom.

The Fringe Hours; The perfect book for me in this new year. I also snagged this one for $1.99 on kindle. If you are someone who wants to be a little more strategic with how to spend your time, and also want to think about how fitting self-care into an already time-tight schedule, then this book is for you.

Gilead– I dubbed this one the right book at the wrong time. This book is quiet, the ponderings of an Iowa pastor who is nearing death. It is also a pulitzer prize winner and written by an author from the great state of Iowa, the same state my husband is from. I think I’ll pick it up again another time.

As for 2016…

Peace Like a River– this one is a recommendation from my mother-in-law. She is a voracious reader and a writer, so I’m looking forward to this selection.

Caffeine Blues– I’m physically addicted to caffeine, and emotionally addicted to coffee. The smell, the taste…even the thought of drinking it can make me feel better. But, I had a disturbing thought recently.  What if it’s actually worse for me than I think? Maybe I should just see…. Guess I’ll find out!

Jane Eyre– I’ve wanted to read this one for some time. It’s our February book club selection, so I’m glad I’ll finally get to enjoy it. I’ve heard great things. I’m excited!

And, well, probably a few more…



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Marriage exposes the blemishes on our soul


In light of the unfortunate release of the 50 Shades of Grey Movie this weekend, I thought I would write a post honoring marriage. I try to read a marriage book once a year, and this year I’m reading The Mystery of Marriage which was recommended by Elisabeth Elliot in one of her books that I read last month. This marriage book is different than so many others I’ve read. It’s not full of tales and guided instruction on what-to, what-not-to, how-to handle this thing called marriage. It’s written rather poetically and so far in my reading explores some of the implications for the heart and soul that come from saying “I do”. One quote I read last week has stuck with me even though the analogy was a little gross. I guess that’s probably why it stuck with me! Well, that in addition to its poignancy. It’s regarding how deeply we are exposed to this other person and to ourselves as a result of the depth of intimacy that comes from sharing life with someone.

“If a man has a pimple on his private parts, then his wife will know about it, and only his wife, and the same will be true of the minutest blemishes on his soul. For hiding is not what marriage is about.” (emphasis mine)pic2

And that’s what is so scary about this movie. I haven’t read the book, won’t watch the movie, and don’t care to know more than what I already know about it. According to what I’ve heard, lots of (strange and often abusive) physical intimacy between an unmarried, uncommitted man and woman (I don’t know to what extent or any details). The beautiful thing about marriage is that you are fully exposed, can’t hide, and everyone’s ugly side eventually will come out. And, there you are with someone who loves you, is committed to you for better or worse, and is there despite knowing your worse. Heck! I didn’t even know my own ugliest side until I got married.

It’s toxic to be so physically intimate with a person, to expose that side of yourself while wearing a mask over your soul. It’s toxic to them, it’s toxic to you. They never know you who you really are, and you never will know who you really are. They never work out the kinks in their selfish soul, and neither do you. Nothing good can come of such a relationship.

pic3But marriage. Whoa! Get ready for sanctification in the best way! Get ready to realize you are a work in progress. You may have thought you had it all together, thought you were incapable of such deep selfishness, thought you really weren’t that in need of grace. We all do to some degree, don’t we? I can’t tell you the blessing though of realizing this deep sin, and having someone walk along side you encouraging you to kill it. And the fruit of realizing from one year to the next that by the grace of God you really are a leeeetttlllle bit more patient, more kind, more full of grace. Oh I know I still have such a long way to go, but I can tell a vast difference in my heart from our first year to now, year six. My husband even remarks how I’ve grown to be so much more gracious, though I don’t think overall I’m nearly as gracious as I hope someday to be. What if I just had a purely sexual relationship with him, and never sought to be more gracious, more kind, more holy? Ugh! I would hate me! Yuck! I’m still often disappointed by how far I know I have to go, but am encouraged by the work that has been done and is still continuing. But we must open our hearts fully, let them be fully exposed. It will hurt, but the greatness of His work in our lives is so rewarding!

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


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Getting my read on

love-of-booksA few weeks ago I stumbled across a really fun idea for selecting books to read in 2015. Check it out! I had already selected several books I’d like to read this year, but this list is particularly fun because it pushes me just a little bit out of my reading comfort zone and challenges me to tackle reads I otherwise might have not considered.

Here’s my 2015 list.

1) Nesting place (published 2014) (Book published this year) (January)

2) 1,000 white women (This is a book that my mom loves) (April)

3) Harry potter– I know, I know, I know. About time! Everyone has read it!

4) Crime and punishment (originally published in Russian- this will be the toughest one!)- finally got my hands on a hard back copy. will read this year, 2016.

5) Of mice and men (should have read in high school)

6) Bird by bird (author I like- Anne Lamott) (January)

7) Either The Tiger’s wife or Blind man’s garden (My friend Deb has great taste and she recommended both of these.)

8) Disciplines of a godly woman (I love the cover!)
9) A family apart (childhood read) In fact, the only book I remember from my childhood besides Sweet Valley High. And there is no way I could stand the mortification if my husband caught me reading Sweet Valley High books. – read- yep, kid book.

10) Parenting with love and logic (This is one I have been meaning to read)

11) Unbroken (on bestseller list) (February)

12) Lonesome dove (A genre I don’t usually read)- read- dark.

book What are you reading this year?

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You can’t have the crop without the ox

Today I was reading in Proverbs 14. I’ve felt thirsty for fresh wisdom from the Proverbs as of late, so that’s where I try to park every morning with freshly brewed coffee in hand and an open heart.

This morning proved a struggle. I was up for 2 hours in the wee hours of the night with a teething little one. After I put her down for her morning nap, all the chores that I really hadn’t the heart to attend to at the time were calling my name, as usual. But, I decided I needed to get my heart in check first. So, I sat down on the couch and tried to ignore the toys scattered everywhere, tried to not think about the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the washer waiting to be put in the dryer.


Keeping it real

As I was reading I stumbled upon a humbling verse.

Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

My take away today: Where there are no children, the house is clean, but abundant JOY comes by the delight of children.


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Living the Dream

Okay, maybe we’re not living the dream, but we’re living our dream, and it’s such a sweet season for us. I’m so thankful that 8 months ago we moved to Istanbul. I feel like our family belongs here. I adore the challenge of living life in a place where I have to learn a new language, culture and way of living. I like making discoveries such as finding the freshest eggs in town, learning to use local ingredients in cooking, and figuring out how to manage conversations in a tongue that is foreign to me but enchanting nonetheless. Have you heard Turkish? It’s a harmonic language, so it sounds lovely to the ear.

scottbookWe’ve been keeping busy as usual. Scott is currently writing a dissertation that requires him to research material in several foreign languages. Imagine that?! Not only does the poor guy have to write a book, but he only can write it after reading tomes and tomes of material, old material, mind you, in Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Persian and Arabic, with a side of French to boot! In addition to this, he teaches English to Japanese people on the internet, is involved in translation projects for a local university, and has written several e-books that have been released in the past fews months. My personal favorite is his book on Insane Rulers which you should definitely check-out!

He is also a great husband and father, and is quite involved in our local church. He helps lead a weekly small group and once a month translates the sermon for guests that don’t understand Turkish. Did I mention he’s really a great husband and father?

I should have started with an update about me because it’s hard to come after that! At any rate, I’m also doing well. My big life endeavors continue to be raising Ellie and learning Turkish. I’ve been trying my hand at several Montesorri ideas with Ellie, and it’s been fun to see how well she responds. For example, I decided to see what would happen if I let her run around naked and point her to the potty when she goes. As it turns out, at her own will, she’s gone in the potty 4 times and told me, I’ll spare you the specific details on this one, but has told me that she has gone #2 twice.

In addition, she’s speaking a lot. She even likes to sing “Row, row, row your boat”- row, row, row, boat…so sweet. Also, E, I, E, I, O  is a big hit around here! Some of her favorite things to say are “apple, no, brown bear, book,  mama, daddy, bye bye, olive, bible, doggy, and gel (Turkish for come). Yesterday she conquered the stairs and the slide at the park on her own. Prior to that I’d help her, but yesterday she was ready to show me how independent she can be. However, I suppose she’s still not ready to leave the nest just yet as she’s nursing several times a day and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Women here aim to nurse for 2 years, so no one is rolling their eyes at me just yet.

Learning Turkish is so much fun! So far, I’ve only been able to actually take one course with lack of childcare available to us, but I’ve done a lot of self-study and study with a friend. Scott helps me untangle a lot of the grammar, and I practice everyday while I’m out and about. In fact, I’ll speak with anyone who will let me! Ellie adores going to the grocery store because she ends up getting several free bananas and pickles, but I like to go because I get in good practice! Also, I continue to watch a Turkish drama as many times a week as I can. Each episode is about an hour and a half, and I try to get in at least 3 a week. I learn a lot of vocabulary and situational Turkish. It’s really great! Also, truth be told, I’m totally addicted to the program and secretly (well, not anymore) hope to bump into the actors on the street. I’m sure if they stumbled upon Ellie’s big blue eyes and dimples they’d insist for her to be in their next show!

Ellie and Scott and two peas in a pod

Ellie and Scott are two peas in a pod

What? You don't read books while out on a walk with your mom?

What? You don’t read books while out on a walk with your mom?

Ellie's favorite cashier.

Ellie’s favorite cashier.

One of my favorite study on your own Turkish books.

One of my favorite study on your own Turkish books.

Our park on 9am Monday morning. We had it all to ourselves!

Our park on 9am Monday morning. We had it all to ourselves!

There are some really fun parks around here. Ellie approved!

There are some really fun parks around here. Ellie approved!

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What Parenting has Taught me about God

There’s nothing quite like becoming a parent. People tell you about the unexplainable love they have for their children, but it’s a little surreal  until you are holding a kid in your arms that’s yours. And something I didn’t expect, but I’m supremely thankful for, is how much I’ve learned about God in these past 13 months.Godslove

My friend Keri is full of wisdom and I have remembered many wise things she’s said over the past 10 years that I’ve known her. One that sticks out now and I’ve added to is this: “When you are single you get to do things for God, when you are married you get to know God.” I think I’ll add: and when you have kids you really, really, really get to know God.

You see, in theory I have always known God loves me. I’ve always known He desires and wills my good. But until I became a mom I didn’t know what unconditional love was. Now I do, and now I truly understand a little bit more about the character of God.

One specific way I’ve always failed to trust God’s love is when it comes to His provision. This is pretty silly considering He has always provided well for me. I reflected recently with my husband on how we’ve never gone hungry, never couldn’t pay our electricity bill, always made rent. Moreover, we usually have a few extra dollars/liras/forints in our budget for me to have a latte or two with friends. But the abundant love a parent has for their child isn’t about simply meeting their base needs. If so, the market for children’s toys wouldn’t claim billions of dollars a year! Remember the tickle me Elmo riots a few Christmases back? We love our children and we desire to bless them immensely! So why don’t I always believe God wants to bless me immensely?

My friend Kim and I were reflecting on this reality of unconditional love recently, and framing it in the context of our children approaching us how we approach God. She remarked, “If Evan  walked up to me timidly and asked, “Mom, will you feed me today?” my heart would absolutely break. I’d respond, “Of course I’ll feed you baby! I’d starve before letting you go hungry.” So why can’t we believe that God feels exactly the same way about us??!

Walking this journey with Eleanor has helped me to understand the depths of God’s love for me a little bit more, and for that I’m so grateful. And, how beautiful that He loves all his children like this! He made all of us, knit us together in our mother’s womb! godslove2

If we fully do embrace this truth, how does it change us and impact us daily? What does this truth mean to you?

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