Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 8)

On the eve of womanhood

Fourteen years ago at this very moment I was just a couple of hours away from one of the most influential moments in my life. I was tossing and turning in a dark hospital room and getting ready to meet the little girl who would make me a mom for the first time. I was preparing to step into one of the most frightening and fulfilling roles I would ever undertake.

I had no idea what would await me on the other side of that experience. Like most first-time moms I expected to fall in love with my daughter. I expected to find her adorable and cute and sweet. I did not expect to flash forward 14 years and find myself looking at her in utter awe and amazement at what a breathtakingly amazing human she had become.

Let me tell you a little something about the girl who turns 14 tomorrow. She is strong and kind. She loves fiercely and fights hard when she sees injustice. She is smart and funny and exhausting and inspiring and every other complicated thing a teenage girl is supposed to be. And when I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday weekend she had one immediate answer: “Serve the homeless in town.” I had imagined a shopping spree or a movie or a mother-daughter mani/pedi date. But no. Not Kai. And it just so happened that Loving Won by One, the ministry we serve with, had scheduled a trip this weekend so I promised her we would go. I am not exaggerating when I say that serving with my family is always a profound experience. We come away changed each time we walk back in the door from serving our friends in town. We learn about the needs of others. We learn about privilege. We learn to take the focus off of ourselves and look outward into our community.

But this week I especially learned something new along the way. Our second stop is always at the bridge where we see ladies and gentlemen with the most profoundly obvious needs. These are men and women who live under the bridge right beside the train tracks. This week we walked across to a spot to deliver hot meals to those who couldn’t get up from their beds to get plates. To say the places we see are rough would be an understatement. And in this particular situation we met an older woman living inside a wall of shopping carts filled to the brim with old clothes. She was laying on a mattress and box spring not even 3 feet from the busy street. When I tell you that the smell of urine was enough to knock you over when you got within a few feet of her I am not saying that to malign her or shame her or even to shock you. It was a fact. There was a powerful odor. The air was heavy with it. And as we were standing there gathering some hygiene kits and food for her Kai looked at me and said, “I think the Lord is telling me I need to pray for her.” To which I said, “Oh, no no no. Someone else will do that.”

But Kai was like a racehorse waiting for the starting bell. She was off in a flash. She walked over to the woman and asked her if she could pray with her and when the woman said that she would love that I watched her climb into the urine soaked bed wrap her arms around her and pray for her. Let me just tell you, I saw Jesus right there, friends. Meeting needs and unabashedly loving on others. There is nothing like the sight of your baby girl praying in bed with a homeless woman on the side of the road to really make you realize what is at stake in this whole parenting thing. Raising good humans is the name of the game. And I stood there with tears streaming down my face as I watched her embrace this woman’s humanity.

When she got finished she hugged her one more time and came with me to finish serving. I told her again she didn’t have to do that. That someone else would have stepped in and done it.

“I AM the someone, mom.”

I was undone. Because I realized she really is the someone.  And so I am I. And so are you. This girl, this precious one who I swear just yesterday was learning to walk and talk, has taught me so much about what it means to be a good human. About following where the Holy Spirit leads. And about taking a flying leap right out of my comfort zone. I suppose that’s what she’s been doing since the first moment I laid eyes on her and realized that motherhood was so much bigger than a pretty pink nursery and frilly baby dresses.

Tomorrow she turns 14. And she is one year closer to going out into this world on her own. I used to think when she grew up my daughter would change the world. But this weekend I realized, she already has.


I’m fairly certain I took this pic of Kai on a flip phone which means both of us are getting old!



It’s been a long and stressful day for no particular reason. Just that mundane feeling of busyness that sits on your chest and keeps that deeply coveted breathe of calm out of reach.

Tonight after kids trickled off to bed (not until after 10 — whyyyyy??) I got a chance to sit in quiet and have a creative moment or two. I had found this large family Bible at a Catholic thrift store and snatched it up despite the fact that someone had rudely written its $4 price in black sharpie on the cover. I figured I would give it a little redo before putting it on our coffee table. I am by no means a painter but putting brush to canvas tonight felt like a good idea and I set about transforming this book. There was something so peaceful about sitting alone in the dimly lit kitchen working over this holy book that had sat in someone else’s home for years. It’s well preserved cover made me believe it was not an often used book and convicted me of how often my own Bible sits unopened beside my bed. It should have made me feel guilty or disappointed in myself. But with each stroke of paint on the cover I felt a renewing in my spirit and  a freedom from the expectations I had heaped upon my head.

I’ve been making a habit of praying through the Anglican rosary as a way to still my thoughts and calm my mind in times when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Tonight the words that echoed through my mind as I painted,

All shall be well,

All shall be well,

And all manner of things shall be well.

It was a hope. And a promise. And a deeply heartfelt prayer.

Doing a renewing work is such a deceptively simple task. Whether the change is big or small it all starts with the first overwhelming step. Renewal lives on the other side of that step and we have the chance to take it daily.

I think that is why at the heart of all of my creative endeavors there is a theme of re-creation. I love making something new out of something discarded. There is such hope in that act of renewal. Perhaps it’s because I hope that I, too, can find that renewal daily in my own life. Tonight it was simply the renewal of this sacred book. Tomorrow, perhaps, the continued renewal of my heart and spirit and further progress on the journey to becoming the person I am meant to be. 

Nashville Day Three: All over the map

Vomit free on Day Three! Maybe it was a random stomach bug? Maybe it was just our awesome luck. Either way, no more pukey kids and for that we are thankful!


Day Three took us to the top of the Dyer Observatory here in Nashville. This place is a perfect example of our favorite types of places to visit on a trip. It was 1) Free and 2) seemingly a secret from the rest of the world. We followed our Waze to a quiet wooded mountain top and found ourselves at what appeared to be a regular-ish house (save for the dome on top) with a car or two parked out front. I have a knack for finding “attractions” that you initially pull into and wonder if you’re actually allowed to be there. We once drove a few miles off our route to pull into an “American Girl doll clothing store” that was actually just a lady’s garage set up like a store with hundreds of outfits she had sewn herself. The observatory was one of those places. Also a note about these kinds of places: always always always embrace a sense of adventure and go. The people are amazing and they’re often so excited that another human being found their place that you get an amazing experience!

So, back to the Dyer Observatory. The woman working there today was seriously just the nicest. They don’t do “tours” or anything and she was basically in the middle of her office hours but she so graciously offered to give us a tour of the building and show us the telescope up close and personal. They have this amazing LED model of the 100 stars nearest to us that their Astronomer made for the observatory. It’s fun and interactive and was such an unexpected treat. The kids loved it!

After our tour, we headed into the woods to see the Star Chamber and Equinox Stones they have. I’m not gonna lie. The Star Chamber looked a little Blair Witch and opening the door to discover a hanging snake skin didn’t help matters but we pushed on and explored and it was really just super cool. My favorite part was trying to leave in the pitch dark and Trav charging the door in a panic to get out and leaving the rest of us behind in the dark with spiders, snake skins, and that pesky Blair Witch.

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We packed up after that and headed to pretty much the most opposite attraction you could find: The Opryland Resort.

We had tried to visit it the day before but when we saw that parking was $30 we decided paying that to visit a hotel lobby just wasn’t our idea of fun and moved on. But thanks to some friendly locals we discovered that if you park at the Opry Mills mall you can park for free dollars, as my kids are fond of saying, and explore the hotel until your heart’s content!

The hotel was amazing. We took the boat tour through the hotel and it was a fun little experience. Was it worth $50 for us to do it? I don’t know. But the kids liked it and it kept us in air conditioning and out of the heat for a while so it served its purpose. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a fun little diversion.

We spent the rest of our time there exploring the hotel and taking pics. It really is a beautiful place.

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Our final tourist destination was the Willie Nelson & Family General Store. Here’s the backstory on this stop. A few weeks ago at the end of a busy day Thomas was like, “hey what’s up with the Willie Nelson look today?” Y’all. NO. Here’s a tip gentleman of the universe: Never ever ever tell your wife she looks like Willie Nelson. Especially not at the end of the day when she’s been around a hundred people apparently dressed like Mr. Nelson. (And no, saying you mean “a SEXY Willie Nelson” and googling that search term does not make things better.)

So, yeah, we had to make a trip there so I could continue to bust Thomas about his slip up. I even bought a Willie shirt with his adorable face on it. I plan to wear it to bed every night. Sexy Willie Nelson, indeed.


Day Three concluded with too much BBQ, a trusty roller bottle of tummy support oils, and sending Thomas and the kids off to a Haunted Hearse Tour of Nashville while I curled up with little kids and binge watched the Big Bang Theory. It was a good end to a good day.

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I don’t have a clue what we’ll do for our last day here tomorrow. We check out at 11 but I can’t pick Thomas up until 4 so I’m sure we will have fun killing time!

Nashville Family Travel: Day One

You know what makes a road trip with 5 kids a piece of cake? Pack your car the night before, wake up at the crack of dawn,  get everyone loaded up and let them sleep the whole way!

At least I think that sounds like a good way to do it. I’ll let you know how it works if we ever pull that off.  We pack at about 2 am, sleep later than we mean to, load the car in a rush, and hit the road with a slew of restless kids. But, hey, we made it right?

Nashville really is just a shot hop from Atlanta so our road trip wasn’t a bad one at all. Four short hours (that’s really only THREE complete viewings of Frozen. Hooray.)  and we were in Music City!

Here’s how we do trips. We figure out where we are going and get a general sense of what we could do while there. We find out all of the places Anthony Bourdain says to eat, add those to the list, and hit the road. A little bit of planning  and a LOT of spontaneity makes for so much fun.

Today we stumbled upon the Nashville Biscuit House where the kids got pancakes bigger than their heads and we had some seriously good burgers. We headed out to the Parthenon and explored Centennial Park.

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On our way to see the Opryland Hotel we got a bit distracted by the super cool Madame Tussaud’s that we stumbled upon. There was lots of eye rolling and complaining when we told the kids we were heading into a wax museum but by the end they declared it the best museum visit in the history of museums. Clearly, we are a cultured group.

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We grabbed dinner after at The Aquarium restaurant afterwards.  Yeah, it’s touristy and not exactly a super culturally rich experience but our kids called us rock star parents for a whole two hours before we were demoted to worst parents ever for making them share a pull out couch. It was a glorious two hours!

Tomorrow we adventure to the Star Chamber, The Hermitage, and whatever else we find along the way…

Summer Lovings

This summer has been a really beautiful one so far. I feel so thankful for the long days that wind to a close with kids playing and screaming outside with neighborhood friends and afternoons spent at the pool getting brown (the kids – not me. #redheadproblems) and splashing in the water. I feel like we are in a really special season of life and some days I want to just marinate in the sepia toned goodness of it all.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s exhausting, too. Toddler tantrums and teenage angst collide into me some afternoons and those days can be hard. I grump and whine about it on Facebook and commiserate with friends in similar stages of life. I will never be one to pretend this life of ours is perfect or easy or without its challenges. But it is good. Oh, so good.

Sometimes I think back on the days before I was someone’s mom and reflect on what I thought motherhood would feel like. I assumed I would be making lunches and washing clothes and helping with homework but none of my estimations of motherhood ever included the amazing camaraderie that I would experience with other moms. In my short sightedness I tend to think this is due to the digital age and our ability to connect with moms on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I read funny tweets from other moms and think how lucky I am to be a mom in these days where we can share our experiences so easily. And I am. And sharing is easy now, that is true.

But, the more I read and reflect and think about this sacred experience the more I realize that this role of motherhood has always been one that connects women. A shared experience of beauty and exhaustion and love and frustration. A beautiful journey of wholeness and incompleteness all at once. Some of my richest experiences have to do with being a mom. Not just with my children, but through bonding with other moms who are a part of this ocean of feeling that comes with being the guardian of the hearts of their children.

On days when I just cannot even last one more second with the level of craziness in my house, when I am exhausted from all these sweet beloved hands pulling and grabbing me, and the unending chaos that is a homeschoolers home at 5:00 on a Thursday afternoon I am blessed to know that a call, text, or FB post will result in multiple offers of wine delivery, hugs, or rescue. I have sent children to play at a neighbor friend’s house, had wine deliveries, and dinner offered to us on days when motherhood just seemed to be too much. Likewise we have shared our home with neighborhood refugees whose mother’s needed a moment to themselves. It is a give and take. A community of understanding. One I am blessed to be included in.

Modern day parenthood is not without its challenges. But it is not without its beauty either. I am thankful for these days and moments and summers full of chaos, craziness, and so much happiness. Thank you to all the moms, both past and present, who have made this journey of mine possible. I owe much of my enjoyment of these sweet summer days to your willingness to share the burden of motherhood with me. And those super important deliveries of wine at 3:00 on a weekday afternoon!

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It’s Monday and not my favorite of days but the kids are at their hybrid school and Viola is napping (Hallelujah!) and I have a moment where the house is quiet. I figured I would take a second to step back into this blog space and reflect on the weekend and things that have been happening around the Loving house lately.

We spent our weekend filled with friendship and community and fellowship and I realized (for the millionth time) just how much it matters to me to create a strong sense of community for our family. Between sleepovers, dinners at home with friends, and date nights out with friends we really got to soak up the friendships we have created this weekend. A simple Saturday dinner with 2 other families meant a house full of 13 kids and lots of noise to drive the neighbors crazy, but it was such a welcome and beautiful chaos that I sat snuggled up on the floor with a sleepy toddler and realized how precious these moments are to us and how wonderful the memories being made will be for our children.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  — Thomas Aquinas

Sunday meant church and worship and gathering again with those close to us who have share our faith but who also push us to expand our understanding of it and embrace the difficult spaces that sometimes come along with that. I feel a growing and a changing come along for me lately. A new chapter in my faith where I am learning more about who God is and who He has called us to be. As we explore Lent as a family and as a church we are being encouraged to really understand and embrace patience. If you know me in real life then you know patience is not my strength. I like to make things happen. Or make them not happen, as the case may sometimes be. In short, I am not good at idling. But, I am learning that God is not in a hurry. And so, it seems, I should start to recognize and embrace that. Most of the major mistakes and heartaches in my life come down to me trying to rush things. It absolutely never ends well. For Lent I decided to give up swearing. Which might seem like a silly shallow thing to give up. I don’t actually have a huge problem with “swear” words for lots of reasons but with a house full of kids I probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. You’re probably thinking there are better or more meaningful to give up, right? Except as I have experienced a week of mostly no swearing (I’m not perfect, y’all, but I am working on being better) I have realized how much those bits of profanity are evidence of a bigger picture. My impatience often is what leads to my frustration and eventual sailor-esque conversational habits. It’s a symptom of something bigger. And giving up on that immediate release of frustration has forced me to deal more with what is going on inside. Kind of amazing how something so minor can help you see a bigger picture in yourself.

So, yeah, patience. It’s a virtue I do not possess but one that I am working on. And I have this nasty feeling that even just putting that out there into the universe means I am going to get more than my share of patience testing this Lenten season but that’s okay. How else can I develop a skill other than by practice, right?

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”   — Saint Augustine

Lest you think our weekend was all peace and friendship and worship there was another huge part of the weekend that our entirely family took part in. LAUNDRY. If you ever wondered where the world’s largest dirty clothes pile resides I can tell you with confidence that it lives in my house. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. So, yeah, don’t think for a moment our weekend wasn’t filled with the mundane wrangling of dirty clothes. It was and is and forever will be. Jesus & Laundry. The two constants in my life.

“Based on the amount of laundry in my house I am going to have to assume there are people living here that I haven’t met yet.” — Every Mother Everywhere


Essential Living Class Starting!

imageI’m starting a new online essential living class on Wednesday, August 17th. Learn the basics of using essential oils, how to make safe cleaners for your home, and how your whole family can enjoy the benefits of these natural oils!

This will be an all online FB class with videos and helpful info that you can do at your own pace! The cost for the class is $5 and you will receive two rollerball bottles of essential oil blends to try and enjoy. Message me to sign up and I will drop your bottles in the mail this weekend!

A Day in My Life: Orthodontist Edition

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I have five kids in the orthodontist’s office drinking the” free to parents only” cappuccino.

The two-year-old has “I’m a little butt.” written on her arm by a bigger kid.
The five-year-old is wearing the toddler’s shortie shorts and fur boots.
And the 7-year-old announces to the waiting room “I sure do wish our house was as clean as this office.”

Let’s just all take a moment to say the Serenity Prayer. And, Lord, please bless these folks who have to put up with us.


The Seed and Soul Collective

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Let’s talk about essential oils!

I’m admittedly a dirty hippie type so it wasn’t too hard for me to be convinced of the benefits of essential oils. Still it took me a while to fully integrate them into our family’s life because I lacked the knowledge and support of other people using them to get me really using them to their full potential.

When my son was 6 he was plagued with a chest full of yucky warts. The hurt him and bothered him and we made three trips to the dermatologist for treatment with no success. We had an appointment for a fourth round of treatment but before our visit our pediatrician recommended we try a combo of Lemon and Frankincense essential oils on his warts. I was desperate enough to try most anything so we gave it a shot. I made him his own roller bottle of these oils in a carrier oil of coconut oil and gave it to him to use three times a day. I didn’t give it much thought until he walked into my bedroom two weeks later excited because all of his warts were gone! I was hooked from that day forward!

At the time I was using lots of different brands of essential oils but when I got more serious about it I started researching Young Living essential oils and loved their company values and commitment to quality. I started using them exclusively and have been thrilled with the amount of support and education they provide access to on all of their products.

I guess you can say I really embraced the whole “crazy oil lady” mentality and began to represent their product and introduce other moms and families to the benefits. It’s been one of the best decisions I have ever made for my family.

I love to share about essential oils and their benefits over in my private FB group, The Seed and Soul Collective. It’s a closed group for the oil enthusiast and oil curious, alike. Head over and join if you’d like to know more about how oils can be integrated into your family.

You can also visit my public FB page The Seed and Soul for a taste of the videos and info I provide if you’d like to check it out without joining the group. My favorite part of the group is the fantastic dialog that happens amongst the members, though, so I highly encourage joining.

If you’d like more info on buying oils (click here to shop!) or on why I chose to pursue the business side of things please feel free to message me! I love to talk about what led us to these decisions!


On grieving.

I’m finding the grieving process to be more complicated than I anticipated. What I want is to come to terms quickly with the loss we’ve experienced and wrap my heart around it and move on to happier days. That’s proving a bit difficult for a couple of reasons. First, it’s hard to grieve with a house full of kids and a life that doesn’t stop and wait for you to be sad. Pushing past emotions to get on with “life” has become the easiest way to get through the day. My kids need me. My husband needs me. My family needs me. And sitting on the couch reflecting on my feelings (as much as I think it might be good to do from time to time) just isn’t always high on the day’s priorities.

But, perhaps the biggest obstacle to the grieving process has been my body’s inability (or unwillingness) to let go. It has been 2 weeks since we found out the baby passed and 3 weeks since he or she actually passed away and still there is…nothing. Well, nothing except nausea and sore breasts and the heavy full feeling of early pregnancy. Every second. Every moment. I am distinctly aware of the  loss that hangs heavy inside me.

Last night I went for a second ultrasound. I had no real reason to anticipate a different outcome. But, I wanted that final closure. I thought that perhaps seeing that nothing had changed would allow my body to let go. I saw the baby again. Same size. Same small little body. Same quiet vacuum of a womb. I think because I knew what to expect it was more therapeutic. I had gone to a crisis pregnancy center because our insurance wouldn’t cover another ultrasound and they offered free ones and the thought of going to one of those happy places where you see your baby in 4-D was too unbearable. The moments spent in there with women who prayed for me were so compassionate and kind. They sent me home with a picture of the baby which was something I had refused at my first ultrasound. But I am glad now to have it. It’s funny how you collect these things with each child. I’ve never been good at baby books, but I do keep a baby box full of ultrasound pictures and congratulations cards and the celebrations of the life that friends and family send. I have the same collection started for this baby. I have a couple of congratulations cards and a few keepsakes. And now condolence cards. And an ultrasound picture. But I realized yesterday I have these things saved and no one will ever see them. Who are they for? Why am I keeping them? I can’t throw them away. But each baby box I create I have always planned to give to my children. Not this one. This one I hold onto forever. It makes this process seem so lonely and makes me realize the loss we’ve really experienced.

I had this vision of what a miscarriage looks like based on my two previous ones. And it never included carrying around my baby for weeks before my body let go. And I want it to be over which makes me feel guilty. And I don’t want it to be over because this will be the last time I will be this close to my baby. And that makes me feel like I’m a bit crazy. The whole process is confusing and schizophrenic and hard. So very hard.

I’ve chosen a natural miscarriage. I’ve chosen to wait and see the process to the end. Not exactly the home birth I had always dreamed of but I guess it is a home birth of sorts. But that means waiting. And wondering. And lots and lots of praying.

The prevailing question from my children throughout all this continues to be “why?” And for days I had no answer.

Why would God create a baby and let us love it and then take it away? I don’t know. But, after attending a recent Bible study about the nature of God, Thomas had an answer that was a balm to all of our broken hearts. There are flowers that bloom in parts of the dessert that will never be seen by a single living person. Why? Because sometimes God creates something beautiful and wonderful for His own enjoyment. I am choosing to believe that this baby is one such thing. A special life that is cherished and loved and created for God’s own enjoyment. This wasn’t a lost baby. Or a forgotten baby. No, this was a baby fearfully and wonderfully made to be a part of God’s kingdom. Just not this side of His kingdom. As sad as we are not to know this child, thinking about him or her and how they were created for God’s joy gives me great comfort and peace. And in this situation, comfort and peace are almost as satisfying as happiness. Almost.

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