He Gives His Beloved Sleep

…”It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

Psalm 127:2

I awoke this morning when my body wanted to wake up. Not to the rush of children, not to the kiss of a husband bringing me coffee. My eyes simply opened when they were ready.

Now I am reclining in a fluffy bed all to myself, a fan making gentle white noise in the room while I read and rest. The fact is, without the fan, my ears were actually throbbing – this place was completely quiet. As quiet as my home during a power outage while my family is away on vacation. Too quiet.

My husband sent me away to give me some time off. He wanted me to sleep, to relax, to refill my vessel, to take a breather from the tyranny of the urgent I spend my life upon in the day to day, to step away for a day from the anxiety of the never-ending to-do list.

He actually wanted to send me to a nice hotel in town, and then have me spend a day reading and writing and sipping coffee in bookshops or bakeries. But when I said I didn’t want to spend money on that when there are so many other more worthy (or necessary) things pulling on our pocketbook, he arranged for me to stay next door.

That’s right. Next door.
My parents are our nearest neighbors, which is a bit of a jaunt for the average suburbanite – around the pond, through the marsh, over the rocky bluff, on the other side of the forest, up the hill. Yep. That’s the most direct route from our home to the home of our neighbors, my parents. And since my parents were planning to take a weekend to get away to a lake for their own time of rest and retreat, Steven decided it would be the perfect opportunity for me to get away to their home. With satellite tv and a featherbed, it’s as good as any hotel!

My husband is now home with our children doing the homeschooling for a day while I am retreating (yes, he used a vacation day on his wife). The kids promised me they would be extremely well behaved and do even better on their schoolwork than normal. But I told them not to make it too easy for Daddy or he will never know how hard Mommy has to normally work every day! I wrote out their assignments for today before I left, and I didn’t load them up too thickly – they’ll be okay. And hopefully it will be a good thing for all of us: Steven and the kids getting to spend a normal day together and experience what that is like, while I get some headspace and extra sleep.

My beloved is kind. And I am grateful for his thought in caring for me in this way. Life has a way of being very busy, of having no margin.
That is actually part of the reason behind Paideia Northwest bringing an annual conference for Christian mamas to get a day of refilling their vessel. It is a different kind of retreat; but it is an opportunity for women to come together for fellowship, for hearing encouragement & exhortation based on truth, goodness, and beauty urging them toward courageous faithfulness. There will also be food and drink to fill the body and new friends to make to feed the soul. But Steven knows that for me, it will be a big work day. Running a conference is not exactly restful – it is good work. I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring this event to life, and to have the front row seat to see what God does with our little offering by faith.

So for today, I rest. I relax. I retreat.
I will write and read and plan my baby boy’s third birthday party.
I will watch the Food Network and munch on easy food.
I will have a grateful heart for the hubby who loves me and who longs to give me rest.

[Extra]Ordinary Loves

I feel like a school girl sometimes because I just totally miss my hubby while he is away at work during the day. He’s gone from just a little after 6am until a little before 6pm, and most of the time it’s only M-F.

But seriously? I spend the mornings just eagerly waiting for him to call around noon. And then I spend the afternoons anticipating him coming home and wrapping me up in a big snuggly hug when he gets home for dinner. I send him little email snippets during the days sometimes just to let him know how much he’s on my mind and how much I love him, and often times it takes some serious self-control not to just flood his inbox with love notes all day (because I think he would not appreciate that, LOL). :wub:

It’s not like I pine away all day, unable to accomplish my own work from missing him, of course. :lol: Just a desperate love for him, and a feeling of incompleteness while he’s away. I’m SO proud of the work he does, and the success the Lord gives him while he works each day. But it’s that idea of “distance makes the heart grow fonder” because even just the day hours where he is gone, my heart can’t wait to have him back with me for the evening and night hours.

I love my man & can’t believe God blessed my life with him.


Three of the children who bear our image are frollicking around in the front yard at the moment. Bikes and Nerf and rubber boots. Sidewalk chalk covering the legs of my toddling daughter. Children who delight in everything from chasing wild turkeys off the grass to taking communion in faith at Sunday worship. Children with joy & love for one another ~ have I mentioned how the boys call their sister, “sweetie” more often than not?! Children who love their freedom yet long for responsibilities. Children who follow in our footsteps yet still pave their own ways. Children who are so alike yet so unique.
Children who I had thought, not so very long ago, would not have been mine to raise on this earth.
Children whose lives could so easily be taken for granted, but whose lives are positively miraculous in the sense that they survived my womb while nine of their siblings didn’t. These are children who should be on billboards for the pro-life movement. Not because they survived abortion, but because they simply survived.

I would have loved them with every thread of my being even if I did not scale mountains to have them. But because I did, I love and appreciate them just that much more.
They have siblings who I have held in the palm of my hand… and I can’t tell you the utter delight it gives me that God has given me at least these three whose hands are daily held & squeezed in that same palm.


And then there’s my littlest love, currently hiccuping underneath the stretchy skin of my belly. I am just sitting here, amazed that I am still pregnant. It’s beyond incredible.

My little Heritage would have been a year old this week… my Fidelis would have been eight months…
A year ago we thought the door to growing our family again had been closed forever due to my immune health problems.

But here I am. Over 24 weeks pregnant with a healthy, active little boy.

This pregnancy has not been without its complications, and it has been full of anxiety. It’s anything but ordinary: it’s miraculous.
The fact that I’m pregnant today just blows my mind… God’s mercy toward me with the life of this tiny son just overwhelms me with amazement. :happytears:
I love this little boy so much! A huge part of me just can’t wait to be done being pregnant so I can start looking at him, touching his hands, kissing his cheeks, nursing him, babywearing him, watching his siblings adore him, stare at him fall asleep on his daddy’s chest. But then there is this other part of me that knows this season will pass all too quickly, and it will be gone forever. Never again will I feel jabs and rolls and hiccups from the inside. Never again will this ball-like belly be my profile when I see my shadow on the pavement. Never again will my reflection fill out my maternity clothes. So I don’t wish it away. I drink it in. I love it to pieces.

In Faith

Posting this kind of thing takes a lot of faith from me. So! In faith, I am sharing a recent belly bump picture, as well as a painting I did for Steven for Father’s Day which represents all 13 of our babies. The Lord is gracious, and that is enough.



…You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

My Family


That’s how family gets made.
Not by ceremonies or certificates, and not by parties and celebrations.
Family gets made when you decide to hold hands and sit shoulder to shoulder
when it seems like the sky is falling.
Family gets made when the world becomes strange and disorienting,
and the only face you recognize is his.
Family gets made when the future obscures itself like a solar eclipse,
and in the intervening darkness,
you decide that no matter what happens in the night,
you’ll face it as one.
~Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p29~


Then & Now

May 2007 & May 2015~

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May 2008 & May 2015~

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…and after having numerous miscarriages and fertility struggles in May months in previous years (esp 2010 and 2014, but there were a couple other Mays right up there too…), this is marvelous for May 2015~



We were made in the image of God.
We were created to delight, as He does,
in the resident goodness of creation.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p91~

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There is a habit that plagues many so-called spiritual minds:
they imagine that matter and spirit are somehow at odds with each other
and that the right course for human life is to escape
from the world of matter into some finer and purer (and undoubtedly duller) realm.

To me, that is a crashing mistake—
and it is, above all, a theological mistake.
Because, in fact, it was God who invented dirt, onions and turnip greens;
God who invented human beings, with their strange compulsion to cook their food;
God who, at the end of each day of creation,
pronounced a resounding “Good!” over his own concoctions.
And it is God’s unrelenting love of all the stuff of this world
that keeps it in being at every moment.

So, if we are fascinated, even intoxicated, by matter, it is no surprise:
we are made in the image of the Ultimate Materialist.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, xxvi~

Sharp Regard


At the root of many a woman’s failure to become a great cook
lies her failure to develop of a workmanlike regard for knives.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p56~

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Properly edged and skillfully used,
a cleaver will prepare whole meals without the assistance of another knife.
But it does more.
It bolsters your ego as a cook.
Parting chickens with aplomb, you begin to believe you really might make it.
And so does everyone else.
A woman with cleaver in mid-swing is no mere woman.
She breaks upon the eye of the beholder as an epiphany of power,
as mistress of a house in which only trifles may be trifled with—
and in which she defines the trifles.
A man who has seen women only as gentle arrangers of flowers
has not seen all that women have to offer.
Unsuspected majesties await him.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p61~

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Blessed is the woman whose husband surreptitiously touches up her knives
It may cost her a few surprise cuts now and then, but they are a small price for perfection.
Thrice blessed, though, is the woman who does the job herself.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p61~


fortification for the every day

When my husband got home, the kids were watching a video and I was sitting at my desk, with eyes trying to focus on some reading while my head rested in the palm of a hand and a weighted heating pad balanced on the aching muscles of my neck and shoulders. Lunch bag and stack of mail were set on the kitchen island as usual, and my hardworking handsome man came over to give me a hug & long-awaited kiss. Those big hugs and warm kisses at the start of the evening are marvelous, aren’t they?

But then came the inevitable question.
“How was your afternoon?” he asked. “What did you do?”

On this particular day, I bit my lip for a moment before just closing my eyes and chuckling. He seemed to wonder what was so suddenly comical in such a simple question.

I lifted my right index finger to indicate wait just a second, and I grabbed for a little book that I had just finished reading that afternoon. I paged through a couple chapters trying to figure out where the pertinent paragraph was.

Aha! I found it. And I read it to my husband:

If there’s one thing that can defeat a mother, it’s the monotony. Get up, feed the baby, wash the laundry, change the diapers, do the dishes, make the car pool run, wrestle the math homework, figure out a new way to make chicken, change the sheets—times 365 days in a row. It’s hard to see the significance when you’re so weighed down by the mundane. And it can feel like everyone else around you is busy doing big, important things while you have worn the same spit-up-stained sweatpants three days in a row. You dread the “So what did you do today?” question as you rack your brain to come up with more than, “Cleaned up after the kids.”
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Surprised By Motherhood, p113~


At that, my husband laughed. Then he kissed my forehead, made a comment about how he was glad that I “had an afternoon” and went about his business for the rest of the evening.

The normal chaos of family life ensued with playtime, dinnertime, cleanup, bedtime routines, and calming the chaos into rest while an almost full moon poured lunar glory through the windows and the screams of nearby coyotes filtered in around the panes. I played piano while the children rested in bed, and while my husband reclined for some Scripture reading. Then it was showers and time to recline myself in bed beside my husband. The best way to end the day. Any day. Every day.

As I ooched myself comfortably onto pillows and under duvet, my husband seemed to pause thoughtfully, and then turned to grab my attention with some subdued cue. “Thank you,” he said, “for doing all the mundane and monotonous things.” I felt my eyes begin to burn, and this time it wasn’t an eyelash poking around in places it ought not. “Thank you for making a delicious dinner. Thank you for taking care of the kids. Thank you for doing all the laundry. I love you.

And oh ~ I felt my heart go all melty mooshy & my toes start to twitch nervously as I bashfully muttered, “you’re welcome,” and “I love you too.”

There is no part of our everyday, wash-and-repeat routine of kids and laundry and life and fights and worries and playdates and aching budgets and preschool orientations and work and marriage and love and new life and bedtime marathons that Jesus doesn’t look deep into and say, “That is Mine.” In Him all things hold together.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Surprised By Motherhood, p116~


Then I gave him a kiss… soft kisses are such a gift… and I turned onto my side so that I could scootch my thighs and my knees and my back and my toes into all the most comfortable places, that rest right in the warm nooks of my husband. This man who notices the wash-and-repeat routine that I perform every day even when I don’t realize it, and who helps me to remember that all these things are glorious because all these things are for The King and His Kingdom.


And I slept all night in his arms, content and cozy, so I could face the next day with strengthened arms and fortified soul.

Date Night: Daily & Divine


Food and cooking are among the richest subjects in the world. Every day of our lives, they preoccupy, delight, and refresh us. Food is not just some fuel we need to get us going toward higher things. Cooking is not a drudgery we put up with in order to get the fuel delivered. Rather, each is a heart’s astonishment. Both stop us dead in our tracks with wonder. Even more, they sit us down evening after evening, and in the company that forms around our dinner tables, they actually create our humanity.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb~


Food matters because it’s one of the things that forces us to live in this world—this tactile, physical, messy, and beautiful world—no matter how hard we try to escape into our minds and our ideals. Food is a reminder of our humanity, our fragility, our createdness. Try to think yourself through starvation. Try to command yourself not to be hungry, using your own sheer will. It will work for a while, maybe, but at some point you’ll find yourself—no matter how high-minded or iron-willed—face-to-face with your own hungry, and with that hunger, your own humanity.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p250~


So try it. Try Keller’s three-times plan. Make it once according to the recipe. Then you know how the chef or recipe writer intended it to taste. Practice your scales. And then write your own version of the recipe. And then make it entirely from memory, at which point it’s yours.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p102~


But our goal, remember, is to feed around our table the people we love. We’re not chefs or restaurateurs or culinary school graduates, and we shouldn’t try to be. Make it the way the people you love want to eat it. Make it the way you love it. Try it a million ways and cross a few off the list because they were terrible, but celebrate the fact that you found a few new ways too—ways that are fresh and possibly unconventional but perfect for your family. That’s the goal. Learn, little by little, meal by meal, to feed yourself and the people you love, because food is one of the ways we love each other, and the table is one of the most sacred places we gather.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p51~


I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean that I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine. Like every Christian, I recognize the two as food and drink, and also, at the very same time, I recognize them as something much greater—mystery and tradition and symbol. Bread is bread, and wine is wine, but bread-and-wine is another thing entirely. The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p11~