I Just Miss You Today


Sweet baby,
I miss you today.

As we turned the corner into a new year, I realized it has been almost 4 years since I saw you last. Four years ago on my (our) birthday, I woke up knowing I wouldn’t ever hold you in my arms. Instead I stroked your delicate body with my index finger when I saw you on my maxi pad. You were beautiful, formed exactly as you should have been at 6 1/2 weeks gestation. But your heart had stopped its tiny beating, and your cells had stopped their rapid splitting, and my heart was cut deeply when your life was cut short.

I just miss you today.

Today, four years later, I’m sitting on a new couch in a new house watching Daniel Tiger with your baby brother. I imagined moving to this house with you. Our Bonus Baby just had a bath after drawing on his face with markers, a funny little habit your big brother, my Sweet Prince, had when he was a toddler. He always loved wearing costumes and insisted on drawing on his “mask” to be more authentic. I wonder if you would have liked costumes like your brothers do? Of course he taught Little Carrot to draw on his face too, because Carrot did everything just like our Prince. They have always been built-in best friends, and I’m so glad they still are.

I wish Bonus had you.

You would have been born in October, and I conceived our Bonus in December. I have never felt like our rainbow baby was a replacement baby, because you had a place in our family. You could have been born, and so could he, and then there would be 5 of you, and my heart would grow all the more to make room. You and Bonus would have been built-in best friends. You would be in the bathtub together after drawing all over each other with marker, and instead of watching Daniel Tiger you would be playing dress up. Maybe you would be teaching him about lipstick or fighting over the orange football. You would get the pink cup and he would get the green one, but as a 3-year-old, you might decide you only want your milk in a blue cup today, because that’s what 3-year-olds do. That’s what you would do, if you were here.

I just miss you today. 

If you were here, the days would be louder. I would spend an hour trying to get you and Bonus to nap at the same time in your shared room, or maybe I would put you in my bed to keep you from playing. At lunch time I could cut your sandwich into the shape of a hippo and Bonus’ in the shape of a dinosaur, and you would each pretend to be your animal while you ate. I would still be cutting your grapes when you’re 3 because you two giggle so much when you’re chomping on snacks. You would dance in tutus and make Bonus play the prince to your princess. “I so pretty, brubber?” you would say. I can hear you two jabbering in your little toddler language as you snuggle under a blanket fort to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad.

Because every time I look at Bonus, I see you. I see what could have been, the life I expected and not the one I’m living. Don’t get me wrong, the life you are living right now is perfect, and I can’t wait to live it with you one day. But sometimes it hurts, and today is one of those days. Whenever I look at your little brother,

I just miss you.


Use Your Voice: It Starts at Home

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“Will you tickle my back, mama?”

I heard her whisper from halfway down the stairs as I sat scrolling Facebook on my phone. She had been in bed for 30 minutes already, but on this night she was needing that extra touch only mom can give.

“Okay hon, I’ll be up as soon as I finish this,” I said softly, hoping none of the other kids would hear. I had just come across a news article shared by a friend: One dead and 19 injured as car strikes crowds along route of white nationalist rally in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash. In just the few hours it took to eat dinner and put the kids to bed, I had missed important news.

The more I read, the more my heart broke. Just yesterday, before the torch-bearing hate march began at the University of Virginia, I shared a blog about the need for racial reconciliation in the Church, evangelicalism in particular. The responses were varied, but it met a good bit of criticism and defensiveness from my white friends (as expected). I had spent several hours on my phone throughout the day responding to people I love and respect who, for whatever reasons, do not see the problems I am seeing – and so many of our brothers and sisters of color are screaming! – in the Church.

How to we bridge this divide?

When I saw news of the march Friday night, I cringed, prayed, and honestly hoped for the best. Then my privilege and I went to bed and enjoyed a good night’s rest that was not afforded to the people of color that fear for their lives in the face of emboldened domestic terrorists who gather on public university campuses. I won’t get that kind of rest tonight, because friends, I am staying up with you, praying with you, asking God how I can use my position and privilege to defend and protect you. And I am doing everything in my power to influence a generation that will do the same. How do we bridge this divide? Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” For me, it starts at home.

“Sweet girl,” I whispered, fingers gliding gently along her skin in fluid strokes as her breathing became slower and her shoulders melted into the pillow. “I am so proud of you.”

“Why, mama?”

“I am so proud of the way you love other people, and when you see someone hurting another person, you don’t just sit back and watch. You do something about it. You aren’t afraid to stand up to bullies and tell them not to talk to your friends that way. You tell the teacher when someone is hurt. You don’t back down. I want you to promise me you will ALWAYS do that. Because in your life, you’re going to see a lot of people doing the wrong thing. And even worse, you’re going to see a lot more people not doing a thing about it. They’ll ignore it, justify it, or say it’s none of their business. They will tell you to stay out of it. But don’t you listen. When you see someone doing something wrong, you stand up and do what is right. You have that deep inside you, I know you do.”

“How do you know that, mama?”

“I know because that is the Holy Spirit in you. God made you so very sensitive. You hear when he talks to you, and you are upset when you see people hurting others. God gave you a voice and position, and you must always use it to help other people. You remember when we talked about our words, how they can be hurtful words or healing words? I want your voice to be healing, because there is so much hurt, baby. God wants to use you to help people. Don’t you ever be afraid to help. Okay??”

“Okay, mama,” she whispered. “You know, I really want a guitar, so I can write songs. Maybe that’s how I can use my voice.”

Baby girl, you got it. This child, her brothers, the children and teens I love and lead – they will know how to use their voice. They will bring healing. I promise.

Get On The Floor: Change Your Perspective, Change Your Parenting

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This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on January 24, 2017. To read this post in its entirety, please follow the link to the KMB website.

My son loves photography. My mom has a fancy DSLR camera she occasionally lets him cart around his neck on a strap (supervised, of course!), and he always comes away with a bunch of blurry shots of random things around the room: the back of a chair, the corner joist of the porch railing, a lamp shade. Whenever he gets a hold of my iPhone, I usually find 50-100 rapid fire shots of whatever TV show he was watching, horribly unflattering shots of me dozing off on the couch, his dirty shoes piled up in the corner by the door. I guess it’s arguable whether he actually enjoys “photography,” per se, or just that he derives sensory pleasure from the little clicking sound the device makes whenever he snaps a photo of whatever the camera happened to be pointing at.

But I like to think there’s more. These seemingly random pictures my son regularly captures don’t just show the mere directionality of the camera he happened to be holding. Whether or not the subject matter is intentional, these pictures tell me something about my son:

His perspective.

To me, the pictures my son takes are weird, random, and poorly executed. The subject matter is uninteresting, the lighting is terrible, and the shot is out of focus. It would be easy for me to call them “bad” pictures, but is that really true? As an adult, it’s easy to look at the world around us as the grand, all-knowing beneficiaries of the wisdom that comes from age. Certainly it is our responsibility to help our children navigate life from our lens of experience, but what have we lost as we have “grown up,” both figuratively and literally?

Sometimes, to help kids understand and grow from their own experience, we need a little change of perspective.

I used to get so frustrated that my baby would cry whenever I vacuumed. He was fine if I was holding him, but set him down for a second and he would be screaming. What difference should it make if he is in my arms or in the chair? The vacuum is still the vacuum. Then one day it hit me that the vacuum is nearly a foot taller than him, and when I’m pushing it away from myself, it appears to be going toward him. It was then I realized that what makes the vacuum less scary isn’t me, it’s the perspective of being taller and pushing it away that help him feel secure. However, I didn’t figure this out until I was laying on the ground when the vacuum was nearby. Sometimes it requires actual physical repositioning in order to gain empathy for our children.

In other words, get on the floor.

…To continue reading this post, please visit Knoxville Moms Blog! Enjoy!

Dear Worried Mother… from the Babysitter’s Mom

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on October 19, 2016.


Dear Worried Mother,

Tonight is the big night, huh? The first time you are leaving your little angel with a babysitter. This is a huge deal! You have spent these early months doing everything for your baby. You feed him, bathe him, soothe him, swaddle him… You are his everything! What a precious gift that is, to have this time to bond with him. As hard as this has been, you will never regret it, as I’m sure you know: the days are long, but the years are so very short.

As wonderful as this time with baby has been, it’s time, isn’t it? Time for a mental break. Time for bodily fluid-free clothing and hair styled in something other than the trusted mommy-tail. Time for uninterrupted conversation with your husband, or a carefree night out with the girls, or an afternoon of shopping all alone… Whatever the occasion, I know this break is much needed and well deserved. Even though we both know you will be thinking about your baby while you’re gone, you need to feel safe knowing you are leaving your little one in trustworthy hands. This is scary, and you need to know everything will be fine.

so get that. Really. Tonight is a big deal for me too, because your babysitter, the one with whom you have entrusted your entire world all wrapped up in a tiny body, is my entire world wrapped up in a slightly larger body. Your babysitter is my daughter.

To continue reading, please visit the Knoxville Moms Blog to view the full post. Thanks, and remember to be kind to the babysitter!

15 Affirmations Your Child Needs to Hear Today

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on September 22, 2016. 


Watching my kids get off the school bus every day is a special treat for me. They bound down the steps like prisoners set free, looking back and giggling as their friends call to them from the windows. Once their big, yellow ride is out of sight, they turn and head toward home, just a few houses down. I have a clear view of their path from my front porch, and I can often discern how their day went by observing their gait. Most days they race each other to the mailbox, or skip along the curb toting a prize they received in class. Other days they leap off that bus, not a care in the world, but as they start toward the house I can see it hit them: I have to tell mom what happened today. The skip slows to a walk and then to a trudge with head hanging low as they confess the bad grade, the poor behavior, the hurtful interaction with a classmate.

With a limited realm of life experience, these simple slip-ups can truly feel like the end of the world to a child, especially if they are repeated. Of course we want our children to be their best selves, but they need to be reassured they are capable of better. I do not suggest children be coddled or go undisciplined. As parents, though, we must recognize that words matter, and if we want our children to realize their potential, we must speak that truth to them.

Here are 15 affirmations your child needs to hear from you:

1. You are a good boy/girl.

2. You belong in this family, and nothing will ever change that.

3. You have an important contribution to make in the world.

To read the full list, check out the original post on Knoxville Moms Blog and encourage a child in your life today!

To My Fourth Child…

To My Fourth Child

Photo used with permission by Stephanie Lancaster of Adara Photography.

Hi Baby,

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we welcomed you into our family. It’s been a wild ride already, hasn’t it? People always say you’re the happiest baby in the world, and I know it’s because you’re so loved by so many people. You would never know it, but things are a lot different for you than your big sister and brothers.

When your sister was born, things were much…quieter. She had a room all to herself, full of brand new pink baby things that belonged only to her. In the mornings she would wake up early, and Daddy and I would hear her laughing and talking to herself as she started to stir. During the day, she got love and snuggles from so many people at day care while Mommy and Daddy went to work, and we were both so anxious to give her our undivided attention when we got home! At bedtime, we would gently rock in the glider, singing sweet, quiet songs as she drifted off to sleep.

You, dear child…

Well, that story probably sounds like a fairy tale to you. Your room is shared with big sister’s furniture, clothes, and 8-year-old girl stuff. The only thing in there that belongs to you is your crib and pile of diapers in the top dresser drawer. Those are pretty much the only things that belong to you period, since everything else is a hand-me-down from someone. You are almost always awoken abruptly by a sibling who either does’t understand the word “whisper” or several who are fighting over who gets to hold you first. During the day we shuffle back and forth to the gym, Walmart, Chick-fil-A, and…well, those are pretty much the only places we go. You spend as much time in your car seat in an average week as any of your siblings did in a month. And bedtime? HA! It’s more like a circus, complete with clowns, acrobatics, and plenty of animal noises. Rather than peacefully laying you in your quiet bed to drift off as your sleep-trained older siblings did, Daddy and I take turns hurriedly bouncing you (the glider is in my room serving as a holder of clean laundry I probably will never fold) because you’re over-tired thanks to the big kids who make way too much noise for you to sleep when you want to.

When your brothers were your age, they had playmates. Our Prince Charming had big sister, just two years his senior, then he became a middle child at just about your age when Sweet Carrot came along. Those two boys have always been inseparable. Mommy started staying home when Sweet Carrot was born, and our mornings were filled with costumes and sword fights and coloring each other with markers when Mommy wasn’t looking. Now two of your siblings are in elementary school, and the other one would rather play by himself than with you most of the time. He just doesn’t seem to appreciate the way you chew on his action figures and throw them across the room, does he? You don’t seem to mind too much, though, as long as there’s a roll of toilet paper to unravel because Mommy forgot to shut the bathroom door again.

There are a lot of things you don’t have. You don’t have a keepsake box because I keep forgetting to buy one (but there is a pile on my dresser…), I already lost the lock of hair from your first trim (in my defense, you tried to eat it while I was helping sister with a project, and it got scattered), and you didn’t even have a first birthday party (you won’t remember, it’s cool). I don’t read to you unless you overhear me helping the big kids with their homework, and I don’t flinch when you eat Cheerios off the floor. (Sweet Carrot probably put them there for you.) You don’t have much 1-on-1 time with me, and sometimes I wonder if you’re getting the short end of the stick.

And then I remember your tribe.

To continue reading this post, please click here to view the full version on Knoxville Moms Blog!

The Good in the World: Small Acts of Kindness

Good in the World

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on June 16, 2016. To read the post in its entirety, please click the link below to view the main page. Thanks and enjoy!

When my mom shared with her mother that she was pregnant, my grandmother cried. These were not tears of joy for the sweet little baby to love and cuddle; nope, she was sad.

Now before you go and think my grandmother is a horrible person – she is really quite delightful – let me explain. My grandmother lived through the Great Depression in a rural Tennessee town and lost her twin sister and baby brother due to lack of medical care. She saw many of her friends and family head off to Europe and Japan during World War II only to come home changed forever. She raised a family during the Civil Rights movement in Memphis, one of the most violent places in the country (then and now). She has seen wars, natural disasters, violence, hatred, death, and all the pain and sorrow of this broken world, and she genuinely feared for the next generation.

Truthfully, my grandmother’s concern was not baseless. This world is hard. And dark. And painful. But there is hope.

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“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Small Acts of Kindness and Love

True, there is much darkness in the world, but I believe there is more light. It only takes the small light of a candle to dispel the darkness of an entire room, so by each of us shining a little, I believe we can make this world a better place. My grandmother was right about life’s troubles, but she was wrong to fear. Since I was born in 1985, we have seen immense advances in medicine, social justice, protection of vulnerable people groups, tolerance, love, and more. We do not need to fear for our children; our children give us hope.

How do we raise up a generation that will change things for the better? We teach them the value of small acts of kindness and love. Model it for them, and invite them into the process. As Arthur Ashe famously said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

If you are enjoying this blog so far, please head over to Knoxville Moms Blog to read the full post. Keep on hoping, friends!