A Mother’s Day Prayer

I shared this prayer with our congregation this morning. Truth be told: Mother’s Day is a tricky holiday for me, as it is for so many. What a gift to give space for all of us around the table.

Good and gracious Father, we come today to talk to you about Mothers. Recognizing fully that within our midst some entered this day with pure joy, some with inescapable sadness, and many with some mixture of the two.

Some of us have recently given birth to new life and have bodies still recovering.

Some have never given birth and we carry disappointment, even pain within our bodies. 

Others have lost a child and that pain feels like too much on the best of days, but especially on a day like today. 

We have reason to celebrate and give thanks for all the ways our children succeed and thrive.

Yet, some of us parent children with high needs, and deep pain. We feel the weight of caring for them.

Some of us have empty nests and children who don’t call enough.

Others have a long list of accomplishments to brag about to the people around us and regular visits to enjoy.

And still others parent out of deep pain within ourselves and some days feel all too difficult. 

There are those among us who are called mother biologically, formally, legally, officially, and those who mother spiritually, unofficially, as a part of our community.

Those of us who parent alongside present and available partners and with family close by. 

And those of us who must be both mother and father and feel like we operate in isolation. 

Far too many are longing for a family of our own, for healing, for hope, for restoration.

Some of us are separated from our children and denied the privilege of caring for them.

And within all of that, we so deeply love these children we get to walk alongside. Goodness, how we love them.

Spiritual mothers, biological mothers, adoptive mothers, not-yet mothers, and never-plan- to-be (please just stop asking) mothers …all of us come together today.

For all of us, we pray for your presence and blessing on us and on the ones we parent.

Some of us are fortunate enough to mother out of a deep well of good and loving mothering. We thank you today for the mothers who have mothered us well. We ask your special blessing on their lives.

There are those who have had to say goodbye to our mothers. Father, be near.

Still others of us bear the grief of having been mistreated, neglected, abandoned or simply ignored. We strive to mother with no example but in a way that breaks generational curses. Be present with us, dear Jesus. Mother us to better mother those in our midst.

All of us go to sleep at night at times both thankful and exhausted. Hopeful and worried. Proud and discouraged.

And so, today, we ask for your blessing. We ask for your courage. For your kindness. For your wisdom. For your mercy. for your healing. For your good and holy rest.

May the women in our midst—whether they are called mother or not—all feel you rejoice over us with gladness.

May we gaze in wonder and adoration at the children in our midst that you fearfully and wonderfully made.

Meet us today wherever we are. May we feel loved and cherished and held safe.

In your good and gracious name we pray. Amen.

A certain kind of beautiful

It’s not that I didn’t know.

“When you move out of the city,” they said (from anonymous bloggers or neighborhood friends), “you’ll be lonely.”

One of the hidden gifts of parenting in the city is that you are surrounded with people doing it alongside you. I knew my neighbors well. The ones whose kids my kids loved to play with, the guy who sold ice cream and bottles of water in the park, the man who played the drums and bought all the kids cheap water guns, the several homeless people who slept in the park, the various store clerks, even the kids or people we knew to avoid.

Many of these people were simply on the same schedule as us, so it didn’t take any coordination for us to all play together every day. For others there were some text exchanges or simple, “we’re heading out” but effort was minimal.

We saw some people every single day, others were routinely peppered in throughout the week.

Community had a sort of rhythm to it. And while we had definitely put in work to start the engine, it didn’t seem to require much at all to keep going. It played to my “I forgot to plan ahead” strengths.

(Side note: of course, there were those friends who weren’t in our neighborhood. The coordination to see them was much more complicated.)

So, it’s not that I didn’t know what we had. I knew.

And it’s not that they didn’t try to warn me. They did.

Just a few short weeks ago we moved from Manhattan to Phoenix, Arizona. Moving across the country with kids isn’t simple, moving during an international pandemic makes it significantly more challenging. Coordinating the move amongst family tragedy complicated things even further.

But we’re here. We have good work to do and good friends to work alongside. We’re glad to be here. I’m actually eagerly expectant about all the new friendships we will form.

But I spent the last few days in a funk.

As I’ve been learning to embrace the feelings I have (instead of telling myself what I should feel instead), I’m trying to stop and listen to the sadness. It took me a few days (and an emotional breakdown) to identify loneliness. In 3 days I had only seen my family.

Even during the strictest part of the shut down I saw my neighbors (through a mask) when I took out the trash, did laundry downstairs, or went for a walk. Living in a pre-war Manhattan building has it’s challenges (and boy we could tell you some stories), but it also means I got to chat with Julia across the hall, and sweet Jesu next door. It means going for walks or to the park with our dear friends in 3B and even making awkward chit chat with other neighbors in the elevator.

It meant socially distanced happy hour in the park with a high school friend, and walking a few blocks to visit our dear friend after her surgery and take her little dog for a walk.

And when the playgrounds re-opened, even when we didn’t coordinate ahead of time, we saw people we knew every day.

As we do the work to find a place to live (we’re in a temporary spot right now), and discover all that is here in Phoenix, I imagine that a month from now I will be feeling differently.

But, for now, I’m missing our NYC life. It wasn’t even close to perfect (and could downright drive you crazy sometimes), but it was a certain kind of beautiful.

When the story finds you

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Fort Tryon park is incredibly beautiful. 

Today I got a few minutes to myself. So, I sat on a bench in Fort Tryon park with my daughter’s tulip pen and my son’s hedgehog notebook, and I took a stab at some things.

I’ve been wondering lately if I have anything to say — anything unique to contribute to the blogosphere.

Over the last few years, my self-confidence has taken a beating. Four years ago, I arrived in our new home in Arkansas full of purpose, full of God’s goodness. I was tired and spent but happy. I had a beautiful 18 month old and a wonderful husband. We were greeted by family and community.

We were an hour from some of our dearest friends and we had a holy sense of where God had us.

And the four years we spent there were full of good things. We brought home our daughter, we bought our first house, Brandon launched a huge project. We had college students in our home, we hosted holidays and community group. Our children made sweet friends. Our son learned to ride his bike. We did valuable work. We had the best neighbors ever and made wonderful new friends.

But, dear friends, I was crumbling. I struggled to find my place. And in the midst of a PCOS diagnosis and a few different health issues — I watched myself slip away. I smiled and I made friends–but I couldn’t give my whole self. I taught and I mentored but I felt increasingly alone.

And all the while I lost weight and then I gained weight. My hair began to fall out, my pain increased. I cried (oh, how i cried!!). I cried because I was lonely, I cried because of pain. I cried when doctor’s couldn’t give me answers. I cried when the answers became a little too overwhelming. I cried when my hormones wouldn’t let me do anything else. I cried when I wasn’t invited. I cried when I felt overwhelmed.

I began to forget things. I felt like only a part of myself.

And I resented our home.

And as someone who processes by writing, I was in a hard place because I couldn’t write about it. I didn’t want to wound the people that I loved and I didn’t know how to talk about this all without it.

For many months I blamed that place for my unhappiness.

But while that context brought a lot of hard, it wasn’t to blame.

The last six months in NYC have brought breathing room. And I have begun to embrace the broken pieces of me. In Arkansas I had come face to face with my faults. I sunk into depression. But without a community around me to point me to help, I retreated into myself.


I saw my weaknesses daily. And I felt rejected because of them.

And while a lot of the hard was beyond my control ….I am coming to terms with my own responsibility.

I made it hard for friendships to form. I made it hard for my husband to love me. I made it hard for people to get to know the real me.


All that to say, here’s the punch line.

When we arrived in Arkansas I had begun to find my voice. And four years later, in losing myself, I am finding my message. And it’s one woven in brokenness. And it’s one that isn’t all for the public.

Some of it is for my husband. Some of it is for my kids and my dear friends and family. And some of it is for you, my dear readers. And I don’t really know where all the pieces live just quite yet. And I’m doing my darnedest not to jump ahead.

Because now I find myself in a city I never imagined but have already come to love… building community with a diverse and incredible group of people.

People who have already challenged and acknowledged my gifts and abilities. People who have stretched and challenged me. People who have asked me to minister in ways I haven’t been invited to in awhile.

I have already stepped out of my comfort zone.

And I’m happy. Not because I’ve found any magic bullet but because I came to the end of myself, I survived, and I am now walking forward in God’s grace towards whatever He has for me.

And I realize that none of that is really a punchline, and maybe that’s because there isn’t one…yet. Because maybe this is when the real adventure starts to get good. Maybe.

So, thanks for reading. You guys are swell. I realize I come to you with a lot of personal revelations and I appreciate your journeying through them with me. And for anyone wondering how the O’Brien 4 are managing…here are a few snapshots.

Oh, and for those who have prayed with me for J and have prayed for our family as a whole…goodness, gracious I am so thankful for you.

So enjoy.


Oh…one more very important thing. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge a whole lot of people.

To the dear friends formed in Arkansas – I am so thankful for you. For fancy dinners and kid’s birthday parties and afternoons by the pool. 

To those girls who came into my home each week and invited me to speak and to love you and to mentor you – I am still incredibly honored and blessed by you. So very proud of the women you have blossomed into an the adventures you have gone on. You were a true lifeline.

To the women who wrestled and talked through Race and Reconciliation with me. I am still learning from each of you. Seriously. 

And to Pediatrics Plus. I wasn’t with you for long and sometimes I worry that I did more harm than good. But I am continually thankful for the opportunity you gave me to work and to use my gifts. To mess up and to fix it. To lead and to guide. You deepened my understanding of the value of a soul. And I am forever changed by the good work that you do.


Embracing the Tears



Lately I’ve been crying a lot. Due to some imbalances, I can’t help it… over the sock in the hallway, over the episode of Jane the Virgin, over the youtube video…

(Don’t you think Brandon’s world is just wonderful right now?!)

Here’s the thing… Crying at silly things makes me mistrust my emotions. My assumption is that my tears are (probably) unreasonable and (most likely) not actually “real.”

And it makes me feel like a crazy person.

But, recently, I decided that I was done with judging the validity of my tears. If I’m going to cry, I might as well embrace it.

And, friends, I began to see some beauty in that brokenness. Being quick to tears isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I began to see my tears as a gift.

This week I cried during worship.

I cried over a story from my son.
I cried as my children snuggled on a hotel room bed and watched a cartoon.
I cried when I saw pictures of devastating flooding in Louisiana.
I cried when I hugged my Nana.
I cried when I said goodbye to my brothers and when I saw my niece for the first time.
I cried as Eliza screamed for almost an hour on a road trip.
I cried as I looked with despair over the mounds of laundry and the mess in the living room.
I cried when my son accidentally kicked my shin.

And, with each moment, I became more comfortable with my emotions. Because some of these moments were worth stopping to feel. Some of these tears drew my attention to a moment that needed to be savored.

Sure, many of them were silly. But, as I learn to see my excessive tears as a gift, I begin to see moments that I (probably) would have missed.

I’m hopeful to gain some sanity back with some new treatments. I’m already seeing more ability to regulate my emotions.

It will be nice to not break down in tears while reading a children’s book (with my son looking at me like I’ve gone insane!)

But, honestly, I’m not ready for the tears to totally go away. I don’t want them to disappear.

They truly are a gift. And I am learning to enjoy them.

Shut up and listen!

In the week since the Charleston shooting I’ve been trying to find words. Honestly, for the last several years, as black lives have been taken and communities shattered I’ve been trying to find the words. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty to say to friends and family around me.

I’ve been angry, frustrated, sad…and angry all over again. I’ve looked at my son, my beautiful brown son, and I’ve been scared of what future many of my own family members think he deserves.

But I’ve struggled with what to say publicly. As someone who frequently pours my heart out in blog posts, I’ve been puzzled by my inability to write about this.

I’ve been inspired, humbled and amazed at the response of the victims of Charleston. As my white friends have argued about a flag, our black brothers and sisters have been showing us Jesus. As the tragedy was still fresh, wounds not healed, grief immense, they have offered forgiveness. They have shown love. They have extended grace.

And I haven’t known what to say. And I think I know why.

White friend, relatives, countrymen: it’s time that we sit down, shut up and listen.

That’s it: Shut up and listen! Starting now.

Our black brothers and sisters have earned the right to speak. [We should have been listening better long before now. ]

So, instead of defending ourselves, distancing ourselves from the hateful shooter, debating the meaning behind the confederate flag, excusing away the actions of police officers or posting ridiculous facebook memes that try to suggest that our country isn’t nearly as racist as this hateful, racist act has suggested…

Shut up!

Shut up and listen.

The time will come for us to speak. And, it’s not that you don’t play a role in moving forward. You do. I do. We do.

But right now, it’s not our turn. If we are to be a part of necessary change, we’ve got to take time to understand the suffering of the African American community. We’ve got to take time to understand what it’s like to be a person of color in America. We’ve got to stop putting words in their mouths and taking away their voice.

We’ve got to stop.

We’ve got to listen.

Jesus is on display right now. And if we can be quiet, look around and pay attention, we just might see what He’s up to.

But will He really provide?

Last week we had one of those days. You know the kind where everyone (including the 6 month old) wakes up in a bad mood…and it was a struggle. Finally, we got outside and stayed there for two hours. IMG_0778We played, we ate lunch and I drank a much needed cup of coffee. And we redeemed the day. Kind of. But I feel like I’ve been walking around in that day for the last week, or, if I’m honest, the last year and a half.

When God delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt He did it in a miraculous, incredible, very clear way.

Just in the escape itself there were the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. Then, after they had escaped He led them with a cloud by day and with fire by night. He fed them from the sky when they were hungry. He delivered their enemies in battle. He spoke to Moses on the mountain.

Yet, at almost every turn we see them doubt. We see them question whether He will provide. And we see a people who seem to have forgotten the provision God provided just yesterday or last week.

And, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself wondering how they could be so blind? How they could be so insensitive and whiny? How could they have forgotten manna from heaven? How could they forget the parting of the Red Sea?

Today I was reading Deuteronomy 1 (with the ladies over at If:Equip). In this opening chapter, we see that God is bringing his people into the Promised Land. He has proven himself faithful again and again and the moment has come. And what do they do? They get scared. They accuse one another. They see a battle too big to win. And they retreat.

And it’s easy for us to see the ridiculousness of their actions. I mean, God provided food from the sky for goodness sakes! He parted the Red Sea. I think He can handle an army.

We climb on our high horse and we thank God that we are nothing like the people of Israel.

I am a woman who has seen my God provide. When I was very young, He delivered me from life threatening illness a few times. After longing for 4 years to be a mom, He delivered my first born in a miraculous, only-He-can-do sort of way. And then two years later, He allowed us to grow our family again in a story that screams of His presence and provision. In the past year, God has worked through Brandon to start a college that wasn’t even a full fledged idea just a year and a half ago. The God that we worship has brought children to my dear friends and family. He has brought healing to many loved ones. He has redeemed so many. He is working through my parents to conquer evil and bring redemption in the darkest of circumstances. Our life screams of His Faithfulness!

And yet…

I am just like the people of Israel. I doubt Him. I doubt his provision. I rock my two miracles, I tuck them into their beds, I tell their stories with great excitement as a testimony to God’s faithfulness… Yet I live as if everything happens by own efforts. I doubt God’s provision at every step.

I am the one who asks But will He really provide?

And if I left it here, it would be a sad story indeed. But God, in his infinite mercy and grace, answers my doubt with Yes.

I am the one who is going before you, will fight for you… (Deuteronomy 1:30)

I am the one who created you fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139)

2014-06-28 09.19.43I am the one, the Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1)

James12I am the one who gives peace beyond understanding. (Philippians 4).

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And I am the one who

being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!

There’s God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2)

Photo Dec 25, 3 41 29 PMFriends, I am not capable. But the God of the universe is. It is He who works through me. It is He who works in me. It is He who has provided and will continue to do so. The Story is His, not mine. The praise is His. The Work is His.

And, on days when I doubt whether He will provide. On days I doubt my own ability as a mother, as a writer, as a minister, as a wife, as a teacher…. He is. He is. He is.

So, let’s get to work.

And then my cat died…

DSCN2913The day after Christmas, our little family of 4 made the drive up to Chicago to celebrate my mom for a week and then to Wheaton to reconnect with dear friends and relax some before the new semester. We had a wonderful time and at the end of it all, our souls were refreshed. We were ready for this new year.

And then on Sunday we made the long drive back to Conway. And when we walked back in the door at just after midnight we learned that our cat had died sometime in the two hours before we got there.

That’s right, we spent 10 days visiting family and friends. We spent 10 days being rejuvenated and we felt ourselves relax.

And then our cat died.

Now, we had some warning. Early in the weekend we got a report from our neighbors that things weren’t looking good. [Special note: These friends went out of their way to care for Mo and make sure he was comfortable and felt loved. They’re basically rockstars.]

But I don’t think we expected Mo to die that quickly. He went downhill fast in just a few days. And we so wanted to be there. Sure, he was a pest and my words haven’t been all too kind in the last few months.

But he was my cat for almost 8 years. He was our cat for 5 years before we were able to have children.

I loved my cat. And, as much as his particular neediness was driving me crazy, I didn’t want him gone.

So, for the last two days as I have unpacked and reorganized and prepared for what’s to come, I have also grieved. I wept when we came in the door that night. And I wept when we buried him in the yard the next day. And I’ve been learning how to grieve with a young child who is trying to understand what death means. Which translates to lots of questions and conversations. Lots of saying over and over again that Mo is dead and not coming back. And lots of remembering the good things.

And it’s all very surreal. This is the time of year that we dream about what’s to come. We make goals and draft plans for what this new year will hold. Along our trip, Brandon and I had talked a lot about what we hoped for 2015. We were eager and excited about what it might bring. What it might look like. We were energized and ready to take it on.

And then we came home to a dead cat.

A. dead. cat.

And this has got me thinking. Are we going about this whole “new year resolution” thing all wrong? When we dream and envision what a new year looks like, we rarely imagine the things that will hurt. We don’t anticipate the things that will cause us pain. We don’t care to think about the things that might break us.

I’m wondering if there might be a better way.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we start dreaming about the bad things. That would be weird and not at all helpful.

But, what if we spent time envisioning how we might handle that pain? What if we made goals to do better when the hard stuff comes? What if we not only talked about what the year might bring, but made plans for what type of people we want to be?

So, I’ve come up with a new plan for 2015.

When it all comes down to it, this year I want to reflect the image of my Savior and my Creator better. I want to love mercy and seek justice. I want to choose joy always, even in the midst of pain. I want to love others well.

How that looks in 2015… well that’s yet to be seen. First on the docket is for Brandon and me to draft a family mission statement. A statement that reflects first what we want to be. And then (and only then) what we hope to do.

And I’m once again eager and excited. But a little more measured and, perhaps, a little more hopeful about what this year might bring.

I miss my cat. But at least I can leave a glass of water out without him knocking it over…

Happy New Year, friends.

Just after we brought our little kitty home almost 8 years ago.

The O’Brien 4

This summer just got a whole lot more fun for the O’Brien family. And we are so excited to introduce you to our daughter: Eliza Faith O’Brien.

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When Jamie joined our family, it happened in less than 72 hours. Well, this time things went down a little differently. In February we were contacted by a friend from college about a young woman in Oklahoma who was making an adoption plan for her baby. Over the next few months we got to know a pretty amazing, brave and courageous young woman. And on June 28 she gave birth to a little girl who was  10 lbs 5 oz and 21.5 inches long. That’s right. She’s huge. We all knew her birthmom was amazing before that, but we’re pretty sure she’s a super hero now.

And she has entrusted us to raise her. We are incredibly blessed, amazed and truly humbled that she would trust us in this way.

And now the adventure begins!

We’ve kept this news close in the last few months and (for many reasons) we chose not to share it with everyone on social media. And it’s made for a sweet time for us and our community to pray over this precious girl and her family. It gave us time to really enjoy our last few months as a family of 3.

And we’ve loved it.

And it gave us time to get to know the birth family. They have truly become our family and we are blessed to have become a part of theirs.

But the only thing I have missed is the opportunity to write and share about our journey. But, it’s probably been good to really allow what God has been doing to sit and do it’s work. Sometimes I am too quick to share and talk and not nearly as quick to listen and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape me and form me in his timing.

And, friends, He has been doing a great work. And I can’t wait to share the story He has been writing.

But, before I do that, I am going to pause and enjoy these first few weeks of my new family. We’re going to cocoon together and allow God to weave our hearts. And we’re going to laugh and cry and walk and run..and we’re all gonna be a little bit tired.

But, isn’t it worth it?

A community of Moms

Holding my son for the very first time.

Holding my son for the very first time.

It took me awhile to gain the title of Mom. But on March 12, 2012 I held my son, James David O’Brien for the very first time. I love being his mom. And, even though today was a rough day for my sweet, strong-willed two year old, I wouldn’t trade any of it. I am truly blessed.

If I’m being honest, I’m not a huge fan of “holidays” like Mother’s Day or even Valentine’s Day. I figure I should probably make my mom feel loved all year. And, I’d prefer that my husband buy me flowers for a more creative reason than Hallmark told him to. Now birthdays, birthdays I love.

But for some reason, this Mother’s Day got me thinking. All week. About all of those moms who taught me what holding that title is all about.

Of course, my mom and my mom-in-law are foremost in that. And I could write an enter series of posts detailing for you what they have taught me about motherhood. And that’s not even mentioning what I have learned from my grandmothers and aunts.

But those aren’t the woman I want to talk about.

As Brandon and I hoped and planned and waited to have a child of our own, I was surrounded by a community of women who allowed me to enter into their lives. A community of moms. They gave me the honor of babysitting their children. Inviting me for walks in the park, or to join them for a play date. They trusted their child’s spiritual formation to my care and supervision. One of these sweet friends always made a point of honoring me on Mother’s Day with a small gift or a kind word or phone call. These friends shared their struggles and their joys. They allowed me to laugh with them, cry with them, and pray for them.  And on several occasions they even asked my advice. Me. Someone who wasn’t even a mom. Honestly, these women always treated me as if I was one of them. Long before James came home.

And all these years later, I am a better mom because of them.

Because of Nancy, Sarah, Annie, Amy, Cindy, Dee, Katie, Terese, Andrea, Heather, Annika, Kelly, and Laura. (and many, many more).

And I am so thankful. So truly, truly thankful.

Happy Mother’s Day, sweet friends. I love you more than words can say.

Looking back and dreaming forward

6 months.

We have now been in Arkansas for 6 months. 6 months. That’s half a year. That both seems too long and too short.

In many ways this place is still new, we are still new, we are still figuring out how we fit. But we have also begun to find a rhythm. We have begun to feel at home. We love where we are. We are being challenged in new and fresh ways at our new church and we continue to sense that God has us here. In this place. For this time. And we are content with that.

So, in the past few days I have been pondering what the last months have held. And I began to make a list. And then the list got longer. and then I cooked dinner and came back. And I decided I could make a list forever and at some point I just have to stop.

So, want to know what the last 6 months have been like for us? In the last 6 months we have….

  • Moved all of our belongings across two states
  • Stayed in a 1 bedroom apartment for more than 3 months
  • Bought our first house (along with our first washer, dryer, refrigerator). Since being home owners we have replaced 1 toliet, painted the entire interior, hung blinds, put in new carpet, bought furniture, painted trim, decorated our new home for Christmas (and cleaned it all up), and we plan to get our garage door fixed in the next week. 
  • We have visited friends and family in Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
  • Bought our first SUV
  • For Brandon specifically: He officially graduated with his PhD in August; turned 32; has spoken at 3 conferences / retreats; preached 1 weekend at our new church; taught 1 Bible survey course at Ouachita (his first college class as Dr. O’Brien); edited 6+ books (two of which were collaborations); worked as an acquisitions editor;  built a wall of shelves; did most of the painting in our house; and has written 2 books reviews and 2 articles for publication. Oh, and he did most of this while starting a new (full time) job on November 1 working on a partnership between Ouachita Baptist University and New Life Church.  As far as we can tell, this has only led to a few gray hairs.
  • And what about me? I have adjusted to a different pace of life;  done most of the unpacking; shopped copiously online for furniture deals; memorized roughly 20 children’s books including Little Blue Truck (city and country), Go Dogs go, several Sheep books and lots of Mo Willems; taught my first College course; found several Gluten-free options in Conway; learned to tie a scarf 1 handed (while simultaneously picking up a very strong, wiggly toddler with the other); have read at least half of about 10 books (the pile beside the bed keeps growing); and I continue to read all I can about Children’s Ministry / Spirituality; And I have recently mastered several other skills including: cutting Jamie’s hair, making smoothies and I make some pretty awesome gluten-free blueberry muffins. Oh, and I am still in my 20s. But just barely.
  • And Jamie? He is 22 months old. In the last few months, he has learned to speak in sentences; has developed an excellent throwing arm; has gone pee pee in the potty 3 times; learned that bodily functions (of any sort) are hilarious; has learned to tell his first joke; met LOTS of new family; is pretty great at walking backwards and can run down a hill at full speed without falling; he loves soup and eats a lot of it (seriously); he can count to 8 (much to the surprise of his parents); and has perfected the ability to bat his eyelashes and get anything he wants. from anyone. at any time. Oh, and he’s adorable. Seriously, completely, knock-your-socks-off adorable. and funny. Very, very funny. 
  • We spend Christmas with my family for the first time in several years.
  • In addition to all of the above, we have reunited with several college friends and are continuing to get to know LOTS of new people. 
  • We’ve hiked up Pinnacle mountain. 
  • And we have learned in new and overwhelming ways that God is truly faithful. He is good. He is enough. And we are so honored, privileged and amazed by his provision, his plan, his purpose and his leading.

And now it’s 2014. What does the next year hold?

  • Brandon will complete 2 more editing projects; write his third book; speak at a conference in South Korea, launch a new college campus; preach more; continue to perfect his roasted chicken; and he has grand plans to smoke his own bacon. So, you know, he’s pretty free.
  • Me? I will teach some more; have an opportunity to do some training / teaching / sharing my heart at a children’s ministry retreat;  would like to learn how to grind my own flours; will work for my parent’s ministry in Germany; turn 30; throw some pretty epic birthdays for my boys and I’d like to learn to juggle… you know, because everyone needs a party trick. And speaking of parties, I want to have both a St. Patrick’s Day and Chinese New Year party. Not together. That’d be weird.
  • And Jamie? He will turn 2; He plans to watch school buses and garbage trucks everyday; he will probably go to preschool in the Fall; will be working on potty training this Spring; will continue his love affair with soup and smoothies; will make lots of new friends; and continue to perfect the cuteness. Oh, and he plans to grow his eyelashes. Because you can’t have too much of a good thing, right?
  • We hope to go camping as a family and take a summer vacation.
  • We will be going to a few weddings and will hopefully introduce Jamie to more of his family. Poor kid sure does have a lot.
  • And we WILL travel internationally. I’ve been in one country too long. Something’s gotta give.
  • Oh, and we’d like to collect more records.
  • And learn some new recipes.
  • And we feel like 2014 might bring some big changes for our family. More details on that later on.

So there are my lists. Did you stick it out to the end? Thanks. That’s impressive. You’re impressive. 

The End.