[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Before I tell you my story, I want to thank you both, Kelli and Vanessa, for asking me to share on your beautiful blog. I am humbled, thankful, and quite frankly, a bit giddy.
I was born a preacher’s daughter, I had a beautiful childhood, one that I have only the warmest of feelings towards when I remember. Something I do not take for granted. In college I changed my major nearly a dozen times before, through the encouragement of my dad, I left school and entered full time missionary work. My wild heart could not be contained within the pressures I felt to follow a traditional career path, and that one decision single-handedly changed my life for the wonderful.
I have spent nearly a decade in full time ministry work, met and married my husband nearly six years ago, had two breathtaking children, and now ministry is the family business. Something I always dreamed of.
The majority of the last ten years we have traveled around the country with our non profit performing arts company. It has been an honor to visit hundreds of high schools and middle schools with our production, No More Victims. No More Victims, and our accompanying workshops, take a stand against the horrifying epidemic of bullying and violence that the youth in this nation deal with on a daily basis. Our mission is to lend our voice to those who suffer in silence. Every life deserves to be beautiful and we are honored to be a part of bringing that message to countless teens across the country.
I have always been driven, ambitious and willing to take on more than any rational person ever should. Nearly five years ago, upon learning I was pregnant, all of that changed. Early on in my pregnancy I became very ill, lost large amounts of weight, was plagued by horrible panic attacks, crippling anxiety, and my whole world slowed to a stop. I couldn’t work, I struggled just to make it through the day. I firmly believe that myself, my husband, and our marriage, only survived that time through the power of the praying community that surrounded us. However, one of the darkest times in my life produced more magic than I ever believed possible. My Ezra was born and life would never be the same.
My second pregnancy was also difficult, and shortly after giving birth to sweet Hudson, I was infected with a parasite. Before being diagnosed properly, I spent a year laying on the couch, trying desperately to find strength and energy to feed, bathe and clothe my children so that my husband could work. We existed in survival mode, our hearts broken. Dozens of doctors, too many wrong diagnoses, countless failed treatment options, and last February we finally found a doctor who refused to give up until I was healthy. He saved my life. I am still fragile, I get weak quickly, but I am healing. The past years of chronic illness have forever changed me. I recently told my husband that I despise what we walked through, but I like who I am better on this side of the storm. I walked through the valley, often crawled, had nothing to cling to but Jesus, and now understand suffering, compassion and love in an entirely new way. I am weaker than I was, yet stronger in the ways that matter most. There is beauty from pain.
[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Witnessing a lifelong friendship develop, from the very beginning. Seeing my boys learn how to play together, share belongings, put each other first, it just blows me away. Sometimes there are tears, hurt feelings, or bruised egos. But more and more often there is genuine kindness and concern for the other, an older brother teaching his younger brother about life, a little Hudson wanting to copy each and every single thing his Ezra does. Seeing their love develop is my greatest joy.
[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
This question is unbelievably difficult because I am inspired, and encouraged by so many mamas on instagram every single day. But these mamas are so special, I need the world to know!
Lane (@suprtucksmama), a dear friend who I am forever thankful to instagram for. Beautiful, strong, hysterical, a wonderful human being and mama to the one and only, Tuck. Her candid, genuine, powerful and always witty, stories of their daily life, which happens to include their war on autism, will touch your heart, and probably make you giggle. You would never regret following this amazing duo and their journey.
Lindsay (@herwelshness) is one of the brightest lights in my instagram feed. Her joy filled world exudes from her photos. Scriptures shared, encouragement offered, a beautiful life that inspires all who stop by.
Robyn (@erobyn), a true gem in the world of instagram. Her photography magical, her tender heart and wise soul evident in each word she shares. I often wish to pull up a chair at her table, sip a cup of tea, and be taught by her gentle spirit.
Patti (@aperfectlily) and her sweet Lily, make my heart burst. Lily has the greatest dance videos instagram ever did see. Patti is filled with adoration for her family, and overflowing with love for the Lord. Her willingness to share honestly about the joys and challenges faced as a special needs mama (on instagram as well as her blog), refreshes my soul.
Oops... that was four.
What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Remembering to take time for myself. Once your title becomes “mom”, life is no longer about you. But to be my best for these sweet boys who need nothing less, I have been learning, slowly, that I must make time for me. So I play hard, but also remember to take time for things that restore me. I say yes to a photo shoot, I take time to write a blog, I crochet (while watching Star Trek. I’m not ashamed). And these things make me better for those who are most important.
[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Our traditions are simple, but oh so dear. Every morning Hudson wakes up first. While his brother sleeps, we cuddle on the couch with his milk, a dozen stuffed animals, and watch Mickey. The rest of the day he is going non stop but those early morning moments, I will never forget.
After baths each night, the boys know it is time to wrestle. They spend the next half hour, sometimes longer, wrestling with, being chased by, caught by, tickled by, and giggling with their daddy. This is easily their favorite part of the day and watching my babies with their daddy, I could never get enough.
[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I would share this photo because I love our little kitchen, and how it brings our whole family together. We currently live in a house with my entire family. The four of us, plus my mom, sister, brother and his wife. It has been twelve years since we all lived in the same state, and now we are sharing one home. It’s a unique and different way to live and sometimes there are too many people in the kitchen to be able to move, and more dishes than I care to think about. But, giving my children the opportunity to live with their grandma and aunts and uncle, even for a short while, has been more special than I ever imagined.
[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I didn’t share this on instagram because the quality isn’t all that good. But I will love this photo for always. It shows my boys, their quirky imaginations, and the fact that Hudson wants to be EXACTLY like Ezra. It is also documented proof that they do indeed race a wooden rocking horse and a duck decoy across my living room. On a regular basis.