favorite books, studies and devotionals

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My inbox is filled regularly with questions like:

  • “What devotional should I read next?”
  • “Is there a parenting book you suggest?”
  • “My small group doesn’t know what study to do next, any suggestions?”

Knowing that greats are always coming into the market, I will try to do a quick snapshot of some of my current and past favorites for different seasons. If you are looking for a good match, take some time to peruse the descriptions through the link, I will try to give  the quickest synopsis here!

For those struggling with infertility:

For those struggling with a difficult season, needing hope (infertility or not):

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For those looking for encouragement as a mom in a season of parenting;

  • Power of a Praying Parent: 31 chapters broken into different ways you can be praying for your child(ren) with written prayers. Incredibly powerful and easy to apply over and over again.
  • Homegrown: I had the chance to preview this with Lifeway and love that this one is for the whole family, kids included! It focuses on cultivating the fruit of the Spirit within each member of the family.
  • Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus: A small daily devotional with Biblical roots and encouragement no matter what mothering season you are in. 

  • Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday: I just finished this book with my summer book club and it was a game-changer. I was worried I wouldn’t relate to it as I don’t see myself as “grumpy”, but it was incredibly impact-ful in how I view my role as a parent and this season with littles.

  • Parenting: The 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family: This book contains practical and gospel-centered principles that have been incredibly eye opening and incorporate methods with Biblical truths. I will be rereading this as the kiddos get older as well.

  • The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively: Admittedly I have not read this one yet, but have read several other versions of the authors 5 Love Languages. This is on my list for the upcoming year as I now as able to see my children’s personalities (and potential love languages) emerge. 

  • Night Light for Parents: This daily devotional (written by Dr. Dobson) is a filled with practical parenting advice and biblical wisdom. Great for doing with a spouse! 

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Great for a small group of women:

  • Grace Not Perfection: Linked is the companion DVD that goes along with the book. I love when great books add small-group resources. This one is a four-session video series.
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More: This DVD based study kit has everything you need – from the DVD, to conversation cards, to the study guide. It’s based off of Jennie Allen’s book Restless and while this is just one I have chosen, all her small group curriculum’s are awesome. I also have been part of a study that did Stuck which was great.
  • I love Beth Moore studies, like this one, Quest, however, there is A LOT of homework, which is based on terrific content, however, know your audience and the season they are in.
  • WEIRD: Because Normal Isn’t WorkingMy small group did this years ago and it’s made a resounding impact on how to live in a way that is against what the world deems “normal” and focus on what God says. Good for male or female groups. There is a correlating DVD series and workbook, but they don’t necessarily line up with the book itself. I found the book to be very valuable for discussion! 

  • The Armor of God: All of Priscilla Shirer’s books and devotionals are outstanding.  This is a 7-week study is a workbook style.

 

Authors I like and would recommend – many of which has questions in the back of their books for conversation – linking a fave by each below;

I am certain I am forgetting many great books, so I will update this post regularly with an Edit below to add. In the meantime, have I missed one of your favorites? I’d love to hear below in the comments!


This post contains affiliate links, which doesn’t impact my opinion at all, but offers my family a small commission if you choose to purchase something through my links. It’s at no extra cost to you and if you choose to use them, I thank you so much!

an august note.

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A summer of blueberry grins!

Happy August my friends!

I saw someone post something the other day that said August is the Sunday of summer, and goodness, that feels so true! I love the slightly slower pace of August, much like a Sunday, and it also holds the gnawing reminder that routine is starting shortly and the grind is about to pick up. We had such a lovely July filled with wonderfully fun things. Josh started building a play set for the kids at the end of May and come July, finally finished the hard work and we were able to roll out the surprise to the kiddos! It’s been a hit! (Note to self: Costco deals are great … there also are 1,039,204 pieces involved.)

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Here’s a peek at the standing three’s:

  • Here’s the August playlist! It’s pretty eclectic. Don’t judge.
  • Ready to sink back into an overview of the summer?  You can download this exclusive free download that’ll give you a place to process through some highlights and gratitudes of the summer! I find sometimes its really easy to fall into the mundane and forget about all the special moments along the way. I hope you find this fun to pause for 10 minutes and think back to all the special moments of the summer! It’s also a fun activity to do with kids in your life!
  • Try a new recipe! This orzo dish is a hit with everyone who tries it and is personally one of our faves.

Ingredients:

  • a box Orzo pasta
  •  EVOO
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • 1 package crumbled Feta cheese

Steps:

  1. Boil pot of water + 2 Tblsp salt, Add pasta & cook orzo for about 9 minutes or until al dente.
  2. In separate pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil, add 1 yellow onion (finely chopped) + 2 chopped cloves of garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Cook on med/low for 10 minutes, stirring.
  3. Cut up cherry tomatoes (in quarters) & add to onion mix. Cook on low for 15 minutes, stirring.
  4. Add 1 cup chopped fresh basil. Heat & set aside.
  5. Combine chicken, pasta & tomato/onion mix.
  6. Add package of crumbled Feta cheese.
  7. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You’ll find a few books in my bag right now: this book (which as I grabbed the link for, noticed they are making it into a tv series), next on my reading list, and my current morning read, written by my own pastor! We go through books here all the time, making trips to the library and often buying ones that we just can’t say goodbye too. Right now, Kirsten brings me this book multiple times a day (shout out to Daniel Tiger), and Logan is bringing me this one which is the perfect bedtime read. The colors are phenominal and all of this author’s books are our faves here.

My kiddos have been obsessed with “cleaning” with this Melissa and Doug setIt’s never too early to create good habits right? And maybe help mom out a bit too 😊. My dear fellow twin mom, Rachel, sent Kirsten this gorgeous dress asa surprise and we have been spending the month doing a whole lot of twirls.

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And lastly, we were invited to partner with Huggies on their new diaper line, Special Delivery Diapers, and as part of their promotion, I got to sneak in a photo shoot with my littles. (I know, a rarity as a mom!). (But we also love that we got to fall in love with a new kind of diaper that’s fragrance-free, paraben-free, lotion-free and free of elemental chlorine bleach.)

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My birthday is next week (Monday!) and somehow I flew through my 33rd year in a blink. Maybe more on that later. 😉

Love always,

Chelsea

PS – Our family lost one of the best this month. 💔 Though age and health let us know it was coming, hearing that Josh’s grandma passed away last week wasn’t easy. She repeatedly told me when she passes, she wants this picture shared. “It’s one of my favorites.”, she’d say. It was our prayer for so long that she’d live to see the day we had children, and we are so grateful for the 2+ years she got to spend in their lives. While they may never remember their Gigi, and while that reality hurts our hearts, we are immensely grateful that we will forever treasure 2 years of abundant memories.

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This woman was one of the strongest I know. She made sure we knew we were loved by her, even though she was tough as nails and a little spicy.

She made and held onto our future child’s blanket for years. I remember the day of our last egg retrieval, she sent me an email saying “The blankets (one blue and one pink) are patiently waiting. Of course I’m praying.” …. and it brought us so much joy when we got to tell her we’d be using them both.

In one note she wrote after a miscarriage, she shared “I’ll probably get to heaven before you so you can bet I’ll hold these babies. I’ll tell them how much their Mother loved them and wanted them. I’ll take care of them until you and Josh get there. Love you honey.”

Grandma Jones, I know you’re making good on your promise and are in the presence of Jesus now. Though our hearts hurt for what we’ve lost, we rejoice in the freedom, joy, and new life you’re experiencing. We’ll miss you until we meet again. 💕


This post contains affiliate links, which doesn’t impact my opinion at all, but offers my family a small commission if you choose to purchase something through my links. It’s at no extra cost to you and if you choose to use them, I thank you so much!

July Faves

Hi friend!

We are (almost) half way through July and I’m not really sure where it’s gone! How are you? How’s your summer going so far? Are you knee-deep in popsicle sticks, sprinklers, and BBQ’s too? We are LOVING IT. Although my husband is cringing a little bit about sticky hands all the time, hehe.

I am trying to get back to my space here and figured a monthly note would be a great place to start. I’d love to pack it with some free downloads, my monthly playlist, and some of my (and my family’s) favorite things at the moment. I hope you stick around each month as I play around with it!

The standing Top THREE’S will always be music, free downloads, and a fave recipe. At least that’s what I say for now. ;)

  1. Take a listen to my July playlist! It’s a little bit of the old, a little bit of the new, with a splash of encouragement. I am all about easy listening and I think you’ll find my music tastes stamped all over this one!
  2. It’s never too late to write out your summer bucket list!  I am teaming up with Courtney from Courtney Joy Designs to give you this exclusive free download for a printable summer bucket list. Scratch down some ideas and then get out there and do them! (A few on our list this summer have been a family trip to the zoo, an outdoor concert, making s’mores in the yard, and trying a slip’n’slide. We are about 50% through our list and it’s been a blast to try new things together.)
  3. Try a new recipe! My go-to salad for get-together’s in the summer is my Summer Corn Salad. The trick is, don’t have a recipe. ;) But since that doesn’t help anyone here, I’ll share what I throw in there, although it ebbs and flows with what’s in my fridge!
    • 6 corns of fresh summer corn cut off the cob (uncooked – it gives it the yummiest crunch!)
    • a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes
    • a half of a red onion, finely diced
    • 2 ripe avocados
    • 1-1.5 cups of feta (the best salty bite – add to yous tastes. I can’t get enough!)
    • optional add in’s – diced cucumbers, fresh herbs like basil or cilantro, black beans, chick peas, nice thick shreds of Parmesan
      • Once you have your veggies prepped, mixed them together in a bowl with a nice glug of extra virgin olive oil to coat. (a least a few tablespoons). Squeeze a half of lemon (or lime!) over the whole thing to brighten it up. Don’t forget to add your salt and pepper! I love kosher salt in salts like this.

Here’s what I am currently reading: a fiction book, my book club book, and my devotional. My kiddos favorites books right now are this one and this one. We read them ALL. THE. TIME. and your guess is as good as mine as to why they are so loved. Although when I mention them to other moms, or give them as gifts, the parents say the same thing – they are so loved!

A few favorite clothing items finds lately are this Amazon kimono that ends up getting an almost uncomfortable amount of compliments, these leggings with side pockets (LIFE CHANGER), and these pj pants from Target that I want to live in.

My kiddos favorite activities recently have been coloring with these AMAZING paint stix (think our old glue sticks, but kids paint that dries in 90-seconds and washes off with water), playing “cooking” with this 50+ piece pasta set, and playing with these pom poms. (Easy clean up when wet – wring them out, throw them in a pillow case knotted up, and wash and dry as usual!)

Our life saver this summer no doubt has been the Bug Bite Thing. For under $10, I am rallying everyone to grab one (especially parents because stings and bites aren’t fun!) and keep it in your purse. It works wonderful on mosquitoes and I feel safer knowing when we do get our first bee sting, I will have this close by to eliminate some of the worry!

I’m always sharing my life over on Instagram, so you are welcome to follow along there for peeks into the sweet memories we are making, adventures in twin toddlerland, and a whole lot of keepin’ it real.

I’m wishing you all the best rest of the month … keep an eye out for next month’s note and let me know what you think of this new monthly fun!

Love always,

Chelsea

PS – Did you know we were in the New York Times last month? You can read more about my thoughts on the article + my story on this IG postWe also had a bear in our backyard, which, given the sound of my shocked voice in the video, is NOT common. We also celebrated 14-years of marriage at the beginning of the month which is a blessed-treat and took the kids to the movie theater for their first time. Fun all around!

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This post contains affiliate links, which doesn’t impact my opinion at all, but offers my family a small commission if you choose to purchase something through my links. It’s at no extra cost to you and if you choose to use them, I thank you so much!

losing cali.

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Her absence feels enormous. After over 13 years together, Cali became a part of me. My life revolved around her life. She was woven into my daily world. It’s silly to say she was more than a dog to me, but she was. She was a part of my soul, my first baby, my best friend, the child I couldn’t have for so many years.

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Our sweet Cali girl crossed the rainbow bridge on April 28th and I am painfully aware that my life with never again be the same without her presence. She brought me joy in seasons where infertility stole so much of it away. She was loyal to the end, showing us unconditional love, and quiet acceptance when her world got changed at the arrival of Kirsten and Logan. She was patient with me, put up with so many silly things we’d do, and I hope to never forget the way she smelled like nacho chips.

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Our loss, although necessary as she faced the many challenges of old age, has crippled me. My world has shifted and I miss my 8 pound best friend more than words can say. Grief is exhausting, hiding it even more draining, and if I am being honest, I often wonder if it will ever stop hurting. I wish I could go back to our last day together, cuddle her longer, thank her one last time for being such a good friend. I am alone in a world without her, which for so long was my greatest fear. It’s here I feel like I should apologize for the weight of my words, as she was, as many would say, “just a dog”, but she was more than that to me, and grief is such a personal experience. You may or may not understand, but I want to honor the life she had, the love she gave, the healing she brought me, and allow myself to feel the grief as it takes me.

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For so long, through each miscarriage or failed infertility treatment, Cali was there, providing kisses and snuggles, a gentle balm to a raw and hurting heart. She matched her emotions to mimic mine and together we would pick ourselves back up and get back in the game. We walked, talked, worked, and functioned as we needed to and soon, we learned to cope and focus our energies forward, on the next IVF cycle, or at least, making a plan. And now without her here, and the grief overwhelming, it’s hard to focus on what’s ahead.

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This may all sound morbid. Don’t worry, I am able to function as the mom and (fill in all other roles here) I need to be, but at the end of the night, when I close my eyes, I feel sad. I look over at the paw print the vet took after she passed, and I open and smell the tiny envelope filled with her fur clippings.

Sharing this here is scary, as I don’t want to overdo it and cause concern, however grief can be isolating and there is no shame in being sad when something sad happens.

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I shared this message last week on social media:

Here’s the thing about grief. It’s an unknown beast. It sneaks up on you at the strangest times & leaves you gutted when 5 minutes earlier you were “okay”. It’s not neat. It comes it waves. It can be sorrow filled or anger laden. Sometimes you want to talk about it. Sometimes you don’t. Loss is loss. It could be a dog or a person or a dream. I’m here to remind you today it’s okay to cry. It’s okay if you feel out of control with your tears. It’s okay if you’re still in the denial phase and it’s okay if you feel grief mixed with peace. Your grief is your journey. It’s part of your story. It’s okay if what made you feel better yesterday doesn’t today. It’s okay to muddle through and it’s okay if what you’re grieving isn’t what everyone considers “grief-worthy”. I’ve found the greatest way to honor grief, whether it’s been my miscarriages, or now my best fur baby friend, is by acknowledging it. Validating it’s importance to me. Not being afraid to speak its weight and to let the tears flow when they spring up from nowhere.

This isn’t shared for sympathies or pity, but for the reminder that your grief doesn’t need to be something you’re ashamed of. Let’s carry on as the strong women we are, tears and all.

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Maybe you are going through grief of some kind too. I pray you feel God’s gentle comfort and reminders of His presence as I have. I hope you also know that you can turn to Him with your tears and questions, and even if you don’t get an answer, know He has still heard you and is still with you. He is with us. And He created those we miss – whether it’s Cali, or your child, your parent or your partner. He understands love and longing.

I wanted to share just some of the most helpful and soothing things people have shared with me since her passing, in case you find yourself supporting a friend who has lost their furbaby. The key themes that stand out are validating the pain, sharing in the love and loss, and making the sympathies personal. I also feel so grateful and blessed when others acknowledge our love for her and the joy she experienced being in our family.

  • I hope you know that Cali had the BEST life full of love, and that’s all because of you.
  • Oh Cali Bug, you sure fulfilled your purpose.
  • Your sweet Cali girl touched many hearts. I always looked forward to “her” posts.
  • Cali has been loved by us all for years.
  • i know she was such a steadfast friend to you and your family.
  • I feel like Cali got so many of us through our infertility journeys.
  • (Dog name) will eat a doggie treat in her honor tonight.
  • She let you cry tears into her fur during every heartbreak you experienced and made room for two sweet babies that were prayed for and welcomed into your family.
  • We all have become attached to little Cali. My heart breaks for you.
  • She was so loved and had such a great life and family.
  • I’m am just so SO sorry for this loss…. this little girl was your first baby…. and by your side through so much. My heart is truly broken for you guys… the pain is like no other.
  • I don’t have the right words, but I’m so sorry Chelsea. That hurts the heart so deeply.
  • she will be missed by everyone
  • I 💗 Cali pictures!!!! Always with the little head tilt. She was with you through everything.
  • She was a such a sweetheart. I’ll never forget her sitting on her back to legs next to me like a human at bible study. [such] a good laugh. She had such a sweet personality.
  • I loved Cali’s cameos with your kiddos, the way she played along for special occasion photos and her classic and adorable first day of school pics. I hope you continue to post your memories with her.
  • I’m going to miss seeing her photogenic face 😭 prayers that the loss lessens over time.

Cali girl, Bugsy, Littlest, Teeny Tiny, Puppy, Cali O’Malley, Ms. Otis, Baby Bear … you, my dear first baby, taught me about unconditional love, the importance of afternoon naps, and the beauty of how God provides for us in ways we least expect it. I love you and miss you sweet girl. Run those fields of heaven, chase those squirrels, hide those Dingos, and Momma will see you again soon.

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this is two.

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This is TWO.

Two is realizing how fast time is going.

Two is watching with amazement at how fast Kirsten and Logan can learn something new.

Two is investigating different things and trying to do everything “faster”.

Two is “luv you”s with genuine joy when they look into our eyes and say it.

Two is tears. A whole lot of them. It’s learning to share, finding out about patience, and practicing what it means to be kind.

Two is splashing in the bath and a whole lot of giggles.

Two is snuggles. Tiny arms wrapped around my neck, squishy fingers touching my cheeks.

Two is learning what they like. Buzz Lightyear. Babies. Veggie Tales. Books. Stacking things and knocking them down. It’s also learning what they don’t like. Carrots. Long car rides. Having to sit down in a cart. Kiwis.

Two is not likely to say goodbye to mom or dad. It’s hearing “mom” 4,502 times a day and even when I am tired, it still makes me melt.

Two is learning to love each other. It’s Logan calling out – “Sis! Come here.” and Kirsten rubbing his back when he’s sad.

Two is learning to bicker and fine tune what drives the other crazy. A stolen pacifier or toy swiped sends one set of feet running in the opposite direction and chaos and hysteria ensues.

Two is fiercely craving independence. Climbing up to their toddler chair with no help wanted. It’s picking out the plate they want to eat lunch on and having a specific opinion on what fork they will (or won’t) use.

Two is singing songs. Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, I Had a Little Turtle, and Praise Ye the Lord (Hallelujah) are among your favorites. Two is thinking Hickory Dickory Dock (Simple Songs version) is hilarious and listening to it over and over and over again.

Two is saying “bye bye” to everything. A leaf blowing away, a goose flying overhead, a flushed toilet.

Two is joy. It’s being so proud of how smart they are. It’s being in awe of how little brains learn and adapt so quickly. It’s thinking they are the cutest beings in the whole wide world.

Two is high highs and low lows. It’s adjusting. It’s exhausting, but wonderfully so. It’s a whole lot of asking for forgiveness, saying “I’m sorry”, and kissing boo-boos.

Two is folded hands and asking to “prayers”. It’s listing out our days and thanking God for our blessings, including Shrek, Sully, and Mikey. It’s tightly clinched eyes and erupting in giggles before we get to “amen”. It’s making sure we never forget to pray for our brother or sister.

Two is still trying to find myself as a mom, tightly walking the line of serving my family and taking care of myself.

Two is filled with “no thank you”, “all done”, “’excuse me”, and “mine”.

Sweet littles, I cannot believe you are two. You are the biggest and best joys in your dad and my lives.

Kirsten, you are the most precious little girl we have ever set our eyes on. We chuckle every time you run somewhere, because you love to swing your arms wildly and giggle most of the way.  You love to “get dizzy”, spinning in circles and cackling like you are doing the most adventurous thing in the world. You love to gasp at things you consider shocking, like a book page with a kitty cat near a bath tub. You love watching my reaction to things and always are making sure I am watching you and dad in case you are doing something funny. You thrive on compliments, are brave in new situations, and find yourself comfortable around big groups of people and unknown activities. You love projects. You would sort things all day if you could. You love to unload my grocery bags and hand me each item to put away. You take pride in emptying the dishwasher with me and you find joy in pouring things from one cup to another. You are a caretaker – loving to give your cousin Elijah a bottle or cereal, and will take off running to grab anything he may need, no matter where it is or how awkward it is to carry. You love pizza, so much, just like your daddy. You are spunky, sweet, full of Sissy spice, and I burst when I think about how much I love you.

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Logan, you are my sensitive and darling baby boy. We are in awe of how much you like “typical” boy activities, so different than your sister. She builds and you love to wipe it out. You love to show everyone how fast you run. Around and around the kitchen island you go. “Choo choo! FASTER!” you yell, and you wait for everyone to compliment and ohhh-and-ahhhhh your speed. You love to hide and you think jumping out to scare someone is a real hoot. You are the definition of a mommy’s boy and we have to say “Mommy will always come back” together before being separated for a short time. You will always tell me what snacks you ate as the primary news whenever you are at BSF, MOPS, Sunday School, or gramma’s. You are a gentle spirit, caring and always ready to give hugs. You are cautious, usually watching your sister try something first, and then warming your way into something new. You are funny – so silly – and you think your Daddy is the funniest thing in the world. “Daaadddddy!” you squeal in an exasperated voice every time he does something goofy. You beg me at night to snuggle, and you point to the rocking chair and mold yourself into my neck. You’d live on snacks if you could and every time you drink water, which is often, you act like you’ve been in a desert for a year, gasping for air as you finish the glass. You have a sweet tooth just like your daddy. You are precious, spirited, careful and active and I melt when I think about how sweet you are.

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You two have us wrapped around your fingers. We are buried in love and will never have this parenthood thing all figured out. We are growing and adjusting, settling in and learning to balance the chaos. We love you two so much.

Happy 2ND birthday my loves.

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cheers

This is life at two. Cheers, chaos, and extraordinary gratitude.

the weary world rejoices.

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As I sit here the house is quiet. It’s 6 am. Josh is at the gym and here I sit, December 1st, the beginning of the advent season.

The Christmas lights on the tree are twinkling next to me. Everything around me is silent, aside from the gentle murmur of the video monitor and Cali’s breathy snores under foot. Moments like these are precious, magical even, as the calm sets in and I pause for a moment to think about what’s to come this month.

Welcome to the advent season friends. I have to be honest, for ages I wasn’t entirely sure what this season was all about, other than knowing it was a time to get ready for Christmas. Ah, that means 24 days to bake the cookies, wrap the gifts, do the shopping, throw the party, and cram in 104 Hallmark Christmas movies, right?

Ummmm, a little off girlfriend.

As I grew older, and particularly over the last decade as Josh and I were consumed by a waiting season of our own, I learned more about what advent truly means, and now, it represents 24 days that are incredibly sacred in my heart.

Advent is about longing. It’s a time we prepare to celebrate His birth and acknowledge that we are still waiting for His second coming, when broken will be made new and every tear will be wiped from our eyes. It’s such a beautiful season in our faith because it takes intentional time to pause and focus on the waiting. Advent is tender, hopeful, and builds on anticipation. You see, from the end of the Old Testament until the start of the New Testament, there was 400 years of silence. Every year I share that and it never gets old, because I cannot fathom the anticipation, wondering, silence, and waiting the occurred in those FOUR HUNDRED years.

Ummmm is this Jesus ever really coming?

Did we mishear something?

Did God abandon us?

Okay, well, I am about to die, so make sure to tell the future generation to keep waiting well.

And then, the anguish of waiting was over. When the time was right, the answer came.

Louis Giglio writes “The wait was over. The silence was broken. Heaven unleashed thunderous applause. And in a messy manger, Jesus was born. God to human flesh! The Son of God had become the Son of Man – Emmanuel – God with us!”

The advent season gives us time to prepare for that celebration. To focus on the upcoming arrival. To sit in the wait.

Yet, for those who are in their own waiting season, whether it’s infertility, illness, a heavenly reunion with a child or spouse who’s passed, awaiting adoption placement, financial instability, marital strife, singleness, a wayward child – the holiday season can mix in unanticipated grief. It feels you are barely holding it all together as it is; now you’re being told you have to focus on more waiting? And do so joyfully?

Here’s a promise friend – no matter what your heart is carrying this advent season, God will be with you. He will slow our pace, shift our eyes, and remind us how much He loves us. I truly believe He will replace the whirling anxiety and remind us that He will come through on His promises. 400 years of silence was not in vain. He will lift our eyes to see Him. He will gently soothe our aching, bleeding, writhing hearts and tell us how loved we are, how seen we are, how faithful He is, how capable He is, and how we can trust in His hope and promises.

My friend Marissa sent me a beautiful blog post on advent last week, written by a woman who faced infertility and pregnancy loss, which included this snippet:

“As I learned in particular through our lost babies, one after another after another, the joy born out of suffering and longing is more beautiful for its very complexity. I am learning it again in these days in particular when so many are grieving and angry, sad and wounded from the pain of living in this world as it stands right now. The joy doesn’t erase the longing and the sadness that came before but it does redeem it, it may even stain backwards changing how we look at those days or years. But the joy is made more real, richer and deeper perhaps, because we longed for it with all our hearts for so many days.” (emphasis my own)

So good. So true. So rich.

Now, a note to those who are attempting to navigate the holidays while carrying the heavy burden of infertility, I see you. I see how you are being bombarded with images of young children under the tree with their family, and social media hitting you day after day with the joy others are experiencing, not to mention the dreaded Christmas card opening where it seems like everyone you know is announcing a “surprise!” pregnancy. Friend, I know how hard this is and I know that your deepest longing is for a child of your own. The reminders are constant, and you are heavy with sorrow that had you not miscarried, or had your sweet baby girl not been born a week before viability, that this Christmas would look so different. I see you and God sees your pain too.

And now here we go – into Christmas – a season where we are focused entirely about a miraculous birth. And it can be oh so hard. We think about the fact that a virgin got pregnant, and instead of being filled with awe, we think “Well, of course she did! Everyone but me can get pregnant!” (Been there!)

First of all, sweet friend, know that’s okay to come to God’s feet and pray for peace and patience. It’s okay to ask Him honestly why your child isn’t here yet. He’s big enough to handle these questions. It’s okay to tell Him this cross of infertility feels too heavy. These are difficult emotions and feelings to wrestle too, so don’t try to wrestle with them alone. Carry them to Him and maintain open and honest conversation, even if you feel like you are met with silence. His silence does not mean He is absent, I have learned this many times over the years, so hang on tight and be reminded this holiday that God comes through on His promises. It may take what feels like 400 years, but the waiting is not in vain.

My prayer for you this holiday season is that you know how deeply loved you are, that you know you are not forgotten, that you know your grief is valid and real. I pray that you give yourself grace this season to take care of yourself, whether that’s declining an invitation to an event, or starting a new tradition instead of pressing pause on all celebrations until your family grows. I pray that your grief doesn’t stop you from living and being present in the wonder of this season. It’s okay to bake cookies, take a walk to look at Christmas lights, snuggle up and watch some of your favorite Christmas movies, and deck those halls. And I pray fervently, that in this season of waiting and hope, even in the midst of your brokenness, grief and infertility, that your heart can connect with what Christmas is truly about.

For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son. He looked at the brokenness of the world, and instead of responding with justice, he responded with tender mercy and grace. God took human flesh, His own Son, and Jesus humbled Himself to take on the form of a human and it all began at Christmas.

Paul David Tripp writes: “He would suffer every single day of his life so that he could, with his life, give grace to rebels, extend love to those who would deny his existence, impart wisdom to those who think they know better, and extend forgiveness to everyone who seeks Him.

The love of Jesus didn’t end 2000+ years ago. It is still alive and offered. I pray that as you wait and long this Christmas season, that you remain close to the One who can carry you through this and allow yourself to be held by His gentle peace and comfort.

Happy Advent my dear friends. The weary world rejoices!


I just started a wonderful Advent book this morning, a 24 days devotional called Come Let Us Adore Him. It’s not too late to Amazon Prime one to you if you’d like to do it along with me! Depending on where you are in the USA, it appears same day delivery is available!

Gift Guide for HER.

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I couldn’t help myself, I had to share an old picture of Baby K because THOSE CHEEKS!!!!

We have a tradition in my groups of friends to give gifts called “Favorite Things”. We wrap up a box filled with some of our favorite things from the last year. Everyone has different budgets for different people, so I wanted to share with you a roundup of some of MY favorite things for the year! I hope you find this fun and also, inspirational! As I started to pull link + images, I was SHOCKED at how marked down some of it is – well below the listed price below as we approach the holidays. Scoop things up fast – they won’t stay on the shelves long!

PS – I wrote this before Black Friday deals were going on, so the prices you can snag these for will be even BETTER! Whoooohooooo!

Happy shopping!

Under $15

plaid-alphabet-mug-c

Pottery Barn Plaid Alphabet Mug ($8)

notebook

Kate Spade Initial Notebook ($12)

popsocket

Pop Socket for iPhone ($10)

dish

Everyday Baking Dish $10

line a day

One Line a Day Memory Book ($10)

candle

Anthrolopologie Voluspa Macaron Mini Candle ($13)

gilmore girls

Gilmore Girls tee-shirt on sale! ($8)

primer

Urban Decay Travel Size Eye Shadow Primer ($13)

bowl

Crate and Barrel Ruffle Dip Bowl ($8)

Under $30

blinc

Blinc Mascara ($29)

EARRINGS.jpg

Madewell Gemline Stud Earrings ($18)

devotional

New Morning Mercies Devotional ($23)

leggings

90 Degree By Reflex – High Waist Power Flex Legging – Tummy Control

lash

Sephora Favorites Lashstash To Go Set ($28)

sheets

Mellanni Bed Sheet Set ($29)

bag

Old Navy Canvas Tote Bag ($30)

HOPE.jpg

Hope in the Dark book ($20)

shapetape

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer ($27)

native

Native Travel Sample Pack (5 scents) $24

oribe

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($22)

journal

Exposed Spine Cloth Journal ($18)

Under $50

pants

Hanna Andersson pajama pants ($30-43)

blanket

Plaid Electric Blanket ($40)

bible

ESV Study Bible ($43)

dryer

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Travel Dryer ($34)

cardigan

Loft Open Pocket Cardigan ($50)

BROW.jpg

Clinique Pretty Brow Palette ($34.50) 

Under $100

ugg

Ugg Slippers ($100)

DD.jpg

Day Designer 2019 Planner ($64)

sneaker

Earth Zane Slip on Sneaker ($87 sale price)

c

Kate Spade Initial Necklace ($60)

BED.jpg

Down Comforter ($110)  – OKAY, I know this is over but this blanket was the best gift I received this year and I LOVE IT.


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