"he died on the cross for our hearts."

easter twenty seventeen looked like this.

luca is three years; jack is seven months.

i got in late on thursday night. i actually got out of work early that day, but what i gained from getting an earlier start, i later lost to traffic: leaving nashville, passing through knoxville, and wherever there was new construction along I-40E, because there's always something. thankfully, i was loaded up with podcasts and snacks because i know better. (i've only been doing this basically every month for almost four years.) (wow.)

on good friday, we stopped to get donuts before spending the day at the park. on the way, i got to hold both of my nephews' hands (as they were both feeling a bit cranky) and witness the seemingly bi-polar behavior of a toddler, who says he wants to eat a donut at the park as we're pulling into the donut shop parking lot, but then complains about it when he realizes where we are because he doesn't want to go there.

also, for comparison (for you, T), here is how serious luca and i are about our backseat hand-holding.

from october 2015 to april 2017.

the only photos i took at the park were of the donuts and jack. so i guess you'll never know if we had any fun at all. (or if lee and luca were even there?)

jk, luca was definitely there because both of the bites taken from those donuts in the box are from him. and almost immediately after i snapped that photo, he asked for a bite of mine too.

on saturday morning, i babysat the boys while T and lee ran errands. which mostly happened because T asked me to go with her and i said no because i'd rather hang out with luca. (i believe those were my exact words.) sorry, not sorry i'm choosing your toddler over you. i didn't want to leave her hanging though, so i offered to babysit so she and lee could go out, sans kids.

i think it worked out well for everyone (i hear running errands alone can be something of a romantic adventure when you're two kids in), but mostly it worked out for me because luca is more apt to choose me to play with him when both of his parents aren't around. also when i have chocolate eggs to offer.

we painted. we played catch with the tennis ball in the garage (so we could be "outside" but not where it's sunny) (that was his reasoning and, no, i did not teach him that). we played hide and seek. we had a pillow fight. and about twenty minutes before T and lee got home, jack finally woke up to join the party.

i'm including that photo with the dollhouse potty because, well, luca's face. but also, T has her dollhouse toys in the garage, which luca sometimes plays with, and there was something about that potty that jack found to be really soothing to his teething self. and it became something of a joke, because it was the toy we reached for when he became fussy. "where's your potty?" we'd ask.

why spend $20+ on sophie when a dollhouse potty will also do the trick?

on saturday night, we were finally successful in getting ready early enough to have a non-stressful photo shoot in our easter outfits before church. and by finally, i mean we have been trying for this every year since luca was born.

here, i will share just 47 of my favorites.

i just can't, with their suspenders and bowties and faces.

and then there is this, my favorite thing of all. he died on the cross for our hearts.

"now i'm done?"

on the way to church, i don't even know how i noticed it – if i wanted to take a photo and noticed luca was grumpy, or if i noticed he was grumpy and went for the photo-cheer-up. either way, this series of photos is my favorite. because, it worked. i got him to crack.

jack, on the other hand, tried to pull me into his car seat with him?

on the way home, jack was not having it. he kept pulling me in, trying to chew on my fingers, and then pushing me away like he couldn't decide what he wanted. at one point, he was pushing me away with his foot, while his hand was clawing at my arm to pull me in.

hello, teething baby.

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it reminded me of when luca was in a rear-facing carseat and he'd put his foot up, not to push you away, but to simply use your arm as a foot rest. which, of course, feels like that happened last week and not two years ago.

mom and dad got the post-church photo shoot. which was prompted by me saying, "can you get up and take some photos with me so i can go change into sweatpants?"

recently, i was reading through old journals i wrote (for school) in third grade. in one entry, i write half a page about how much i hate dresses, including the one i was wearing as i wrote about it. almost twenty years later, i still feel the same way.

on easter sunday, we had brunch at my parents' house. and an easter egg hunt (favorite). and we painted eggs. (and i truly mean "we" because luca colored only like four of the dozen T boiled.)

jack got a single egg, compared to luca's 26. they were all filled with money, which i have my dad on video explaining how that's because "chocolate melts outside."

adults were not allowed to join in on the egg hunt.

it was such a fun weekend, as easter weekends usually are. like the truth just hangs in the air. you don't need to be thinking about the empty tomb, in particular, to feel the joy and freedom it brings.

two years ago, i wrote this: and it's things like this, a perfectly average easter egg hunt with a 1.5 year old, that get me. i want to bottle these moments up and save them for a rainy day. or the day when he goes to kindergarten or get his driver's license. because, there was nothing particularly extraordinary about this day, except for the fact that there will only ever be this one easter.

i remember writing that, trying to capture this feeling of being so in love with our day, though our activities weren't anything out of the ordinary. this year was much the same, and i texted T the other day that i would like to re-live this easter weekend. eating donuts at the park, playing with luca and making jack laugh, watching luca collect all the eggs and documenting what jack's face looks like at exactly seven months.

everything except the end.

because that's what it was: an ending. i knew this time would be the last time with bailey, that my goodbye would be forever. and i couldn't handle it. saying goodbye, letting go, and driving away is never easy.

for the first time in four years, i actually drove away and then turned around to go back.

eventually, i left for real and made it all the way back home to nashville. and part of me hates to end this post with that, just as i hated leaving charlotte carrying the weight of it, but that's what's real.

this weekend was bittersweet. it will forever be marked by the happiest and sadness moments.

every year you grow.

c.s. lewis, prince caspian.

c.s. lewis, prince caspian.

“aslan,” said lucy. “you’re bigger.”
“that’s because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“not because you are?”
“i am not. but every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

 

this feels like a pretty accurate summary of the past year.

every day, i wake up and i am a little bit older and i find him a little bit bigger, and i want more.


i recently read through the chronicles of narnia for the first time. i don’t know why nobody ever put them in front of me, but here i will be that person for you: go find copies at the library, order them from amazon, borrow a friend’s set, and read them.

they are full of these little nuggets.

that is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. the fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after.

who said anything about safe? ‘course he isn’t safe. but he’s good. he’s the king, i tell you.

child, said the voice. i am telling you your story. i tell no one any story but his own.

to know what would have happened, child? no. nobody is ever told that.
but anyone can find out what will happen.

courage, dear heart.

take great care that it does not confuse your mind. and the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there.

they will not let us help them. they have chosen cunning instead of belief. their prison is in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.

the stories are short and easy to read. they were written for children, after all.

but then, aren’t all children’s stories written for grown ups too? i think there's something to that.

matthew 6:3

matthew 6:3

i keep coming back to this: every year you grow, you will find me bigger.

at first, i copied the quote down wrong. i wrote, “every year you grow older.” when i realized my mistake, i realized how much more depth it has.

if “older” is included, the weight shifts from growth to age. as if your age is what determines your level of understanding of who god is. lucy is older, but she has grown.

it seems obvious, like your typical children's story. but what if you haven't been taking advantage of the years you've had? if you aren't finding, with every year, that god is bigger––because you know he is bigger. what if you've stopped digging, stopped searching, stopped pushing for more?

sometimes i think we forget god does not get bigger or deeper or wider the more we seek him. we aren’t pushing him to be more. he already is more. we push because we want more.

i can never fully know him, but i can’t just settle for what i already have. it’s not enough; i want more.

Q1: books of 2017.

last year, i recapped my year in books in a single post. this year, i have more lofty goals. of reading more books, and of telling you about them sooner.

i didn't really plan out how i would do it, but it's now april so how about quarterly recaps?

okay, cool.

top pick.

chasing slow (erin loechner) my boss came home with this book one day, and i hadn't even heard of erin, but i totally judged that book by its cover and wanted to read it. while she read and i waited, i dove into erin's blog archives. she is (with her writing) everything i wish to be.

chasing slow is an extension of her posts online: a collection of essays that tell, not of the point-A-to-point-B, but of the trying, the being, the failing, the trying again, when it comes to reaching for the life you want. she is honest, sharing relatable stories, and encourages you to embrace the and – the fact that "we are not either/ors. we are the both/ands."

other favorites.

love warrior (glennon doyle melton) if you know anything about glennon, you might already be giving me a side-eye. yes, this is her book about saving her marriage to a man she is now divorced from. but! the thing about this book is that it's about one aspect of her life, and one aspect of a person's life is not her whole life. anything that happens outside, or after, this storytelling does not impact the book for what it is: a raw and honest portrayal of the journey she took in this marriage. as always, her words are insightful and thought-provoking.

the chronicles of narnia (c.s. lewis) this is basically a cheat answer because there are seven books in this series. so what i'm saying is, more than half the books i read are my favorites. but i loved them all, separately and together. and i think i'm most surprised by the fact that, for how well known they are, a surprising number of people (read: everyone i've talked to about it) haven't read them at all, or not more than one or two of them. you guys! please read them all and then come talk to me about how it ends.

english lessons (andrea lucado) okay, i did get a free advanced copy of this book because i signed up to be part of the launch team for it, but that's not why i'm highlighting it. i actually thought about it for days after i finished reading it, and marking up all the pages. partly because it's all stories from her time studying in oxford, england and it makes me want to live abroad somewhere for a year. and partly because it's all about her life and her faith and, basically, the struggle that is your twenties. and as a person still in my twenties, i feel that.

(english lessons releases on may 2, but you can pre-order it now and get some beautiful, free things. if for nothing else, do it for the print of the quote from the chronicles of narnia. it's one of my faaavorites.)

 

all of them.


in case you can't get enough of my love for (mostly) non-fiction, i have a whole page of favorites.

and, of course, there is everything filed under the tag "good reads."

march forward.

these tiny toes are 4 months, 10 months, and 1 year old.

these tiny toes are 4 months, 10 months, and 1 year old.

the first two months of the year felt quiet. slow moving. march felt like a small shift. a stirring of the pot. maybe because i worked a lot, which always feels productive. maybe because february was short, which always makes march feel longer.

it's still march, i caught myself thinking on multiple occasions. but then, so what if it is? that just means there's still time.

that's what march felt like for me. progress. making moves. baby steps. and every time i felt tired or stuck: keep going. there's still time.

other march things.

wearing this new lyric tee from andrew belle.
like every day. (and i mean every day i'm not wearing my nanny uniform, i'm wearing this shirt.) because, no big deal, but that's just my handwriting. on a t-shirt. for andrew belle. (!!) you can get one here.

supporting branden harvey's goodnewspaper.
i've already written about this, but it launched this month and the window for you to get in on it closes the morning of april 12. here's the thing: it is already fully funded on kickstarter. so no, this project doesn't need you in order for it to be created. but i think you need this project. subscribe here.

following along with the "seven mile miracle" series at elevation church.
i will maybe tell you about each new series they do this year, but only because they are so good. "no more nails" is the one that had me clapping and crying in my car on the way to work.

trying out nanny sharing.
i actually didn't know this was a thing until i did some research on what to charge for watching two babies from two separate families at the same time. what i did was a two week arrangement to fill in the gap between the mom going back to work and the baby going to daycare.

it was a long two weeks, and props to moms of multiples, is all i have to say about that.

listening to souvenir, by drew holcomb and the neighbors.
this was the first album drew has released since i quit working for him a year and a half ago, and it felt weird to not be part of this project. to not know the songs and the words and the stories behind them, fueling the excitement for their release. i was worried i wouldn't like this one, that it would be hard to follow up a much loved album like medicine, but i keep coming back to these songs. of course i do. drew holcomb is one of a kind.

it almost feels a little full-circle with "mama's sunshine, daddy's rain," a song describing how grown and different EL is now, compared to when i'd push her back and forth in the stroller backstage, playing "good light" over and over, trying to get her to sleep.

reading the magnolia story.
y'all, i don't even watch fixer upper, but a friend let me borrow her copy. (who doesn't love chip and jo?) i need a chip gaines in my life, is what i'm gathering so far. someone who looks at my "someday" notebook and challenges me to take action right now.