December 11, 2012

dear elliot: a labor of love

"We worked so hard to get you here."

Those were your daddy's first words to you, and they were spoken through choked back tears. He was right. That moment when the midwife said "Grab your baby!" and I reached down into the water to scoop you into my was hard-earned.

We prayed for you. Our hearts ached for you, before we knew you would one day be ours. I cried, night after night, wondering why God had given my heart such a longing for motherhood, if His plan was not to fulfill that desire.

I think God made my heart ache for you, because He knew you Elliot. He knew you before you had even come to be. He knew you, and the beautiful story He had planned for you. And so He didn't take that ache from my heart.

So we prayed. And then we stepped forward in faith. And we worked so hard to get you here.

I was sick for the entire pregnancy, Elliot. But God provided. Every single morning, I woke up and said "I can't do this." And God said, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness."

Every night, I fell asleep fearful that something was going to happen to you. And God said "In quietness and trust will you find strength."

We worked hard, Elliot...but it was not truly of us. It was a labor of trust, a labor of daily submitting our story to the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

And now, when we hold you in our arms, we marvel at the blessing of your story unfolding before us, and still, we labor. Every day, we strive to submit our hopes and fears, our triumphs and failures, our weaknesses and strengths, to Jesus.

Someday all too soon, you will be leaving home. And your daddy will hold my hand, and we will both know in our hearts those same words, spoken through tears...we worked so hard to get you here. But we will know, in that moment, that it wasn't our work or striving that wrote your story. He is the One who is writing your story. And we are so blessed to be a part of whatever He has in store for your life.

December 10, 2012

bringing heaven to earth: barefoot children

As a new mom, I have been trying to think through the type of life I want to lead, what priorities I want to guard within our home. I don't want my children growing up hearing about how they need to be good to make Jesus happy. They don't need to work for His approval. What I want is for my daughter to grow up in love with Jesus' heart for the lost, and the plan that God set forth from the beginning...a plan to right the wrong, to bring healing to the broken, to make all things new. He is bringing Heaven to Earth, and we are so blessed to be a part of it.

The city where I currently reside is considered one of the top 10 cities in America to raise a family. And yet, recently in the church-wide women's Bible study I attend, there was an announcement made that children in several elementary schools have been walking to school barefoot. It's December. And it's quite likely that if these children do not have shoes, then they do not have coats or hats either.

As a former teacher in a school with much poverty, I can attest to the fact that if a child does not have their basic needs met, they cannot focus on school work. Meeting the basic needs of a child not only serves them as they walk to school, but also serves them by helping them learn so that they can continue on to graduate high school and build a life for themselves.

Beyond that, I have noticed an attitude among the wealthy high school student population in this city that considers the high school where these elementary schools feed into "the ghetto". Many of these students have been raised in Christian families. What saddens me most about this is the lack of compassion and the misunderstanding projected on these students. I wonder where these affluent students would be if they had grown up walking to school barefoot in the snow?

Teaching at a school where poverty is high and family lives are complicated and stressful is also a very challenging task. Often I found myself feeling like I had no more options. I couldn't get a hold of parents. I didn't know how to reach the students. Every story, every family situation, was so complex and different.

If you know a teacher who is working at a school like this, I can guarantee it would do such wonderful things for their hearts (and their stamina!) if you were to check in with them to see if there is any way you can help!

And if you want to help the students, I know that shoes, hats, scarves, coats...any clothing item that YOUR child needs for school would probably be a lovely gift for a student who is struggling.

In the end, as believers, I think it is important for us to remember that it isn't the governments job to take care of the poor. Whatever you believe about taxes, whatever bitterness you might harbor towards the cycle of poverty and homelessness, those are issues for you to work through. But in the end, the final truth is that God called US as His Body to take care of orphans, widows, and the poor.

It's time for us to stop making excuses and start investing in the lives of the people who need to know that God is the God who sees, provides, and protects.

December 5, 2012

on grieving: motherhood

Every night, I sit in the rocking chair in our bedroom while I feed Elliot, and we talk about our day. We read a book. I sing her a song – usually Great is Thy Faithfulness – and then I tell her a story about my mom.

I tell her about how much Grandma Arlene loved to play piano. I tell her about baking Christmas cookies, dancing in the kitchen, being home-schooled. I share memories that I haven't shared with anyone else, and stories that I hope will settle into her heart and stay there forever. And I do mean forever. Because I also tell her about heaven, and how someday we will all sit together and retell these stories and laugh and cry and finally we will be “us”. Grandma, mommy and daughter.

I knew that this season would bring a new ache to my heart. I knew that motherhood would make me miss my mommy. But honestly, I didn't know. I didn't know how it would feel when I nursed my baby in the dark, sang my mother's favorite hymn to her, and prayed over her the same way my mom prayed over me. I knew my heart would ache...but I didn't realize that this would be an ache that filled every moment of motherhood.

This is an ache that goes with me everywhere, like it was when she first died. In that first year, everything reminded me of her or made me miss her – grocery shopping, putting on makeup, eating Onion rings, playing piano, shopping for school clothes...that's the problem with doing everything with someone. When they're gone, everything reminds you of them. Therefore, every single moment of the day hurts.

That's how it is now. Everything new that this little baby does, I think how I wish I could call and tell her. She burped! She cooed! She pooped! She's not pooping! She's smiling! I can still hear her laughter, her cheerful voice, the joy that she found in the little moments, and how amazing she was at making the ordinary feel like a celebration. That's who my mom was. She loved in a way that made sharing the little things so special. And so I miss her with every little celebration, every little happening.

I see her everywhere. I feel her absence, and I ache, and I pray. I pray for this baby girl that I hold in my arms. I pray that God will redeem what has been lost. I pray that I can live with joy and savor every year, every day, every minute with this daughter, with gratitude for a mother who modeled this type of living, and gave me more in 15 years of knowing me as her daughter than some daughters experience in a lifetime.

December 3, 2012


elliot kaylene 
born october 3, 2012
7 pounds 11 ounces
20.5 inches long
my favorite baby ever. 

one day old
4 weeks old
5 weeks old
7 weeks old

maternity pics - 36 weeks (Labor Day, 2012)

photography by Jared Goertzen at

September 29, 2012

the nursery

Well, it was a long process, but my amazing husband didn't give up, and the nursery is finally ready to go! I wish we had some good before pics - to summarize, it looked like a prison cell! :) Stone walls, concrete floor, cobwebby ceiling, pipes and vents exposed in the ceiling... it's a good feeling to have this finished! Our house when we moved in had a half-finished basement, so we moved our bedroom down into the large finished room and just lived with the unfinished part. It's amazing how refreshing it is to have it be so clean and ready for a baby!! Good work Jeremy!!

September 12, 2012

catching up...

Here are a couple of pictures I have managed to coerce people into taking of me. It's hard to take maternity pictures. Harder than I thought they would be. It's just so awkward. What do you do with your hands? Do you hold the belly? Do you put your (huge) arms at your side? What angle is the best angle to eliminate as many chins and rolls as possible? It's an endless combination of awkward pictures...but we managed to get one good(ish) picture at a wedding back in August...I would have been just hitting 7 months when this first picture was taken!

And then this picture was taken right before my Lincoln baby shower, which was right after I hit the big 3-2!

I normally would have posted a picture of me currently, at 37 weeks (tomorrow!), however that would mean permanent (VISUAL) documentation of this special time in know, that time when you get ready and put on makeup and look at yourself and think "Oh yeah, I look gooooooood!" but really you just look "good" in comparison to what you looked like before you put on makeup, which was "really not good..." and then you get out into the real world full of non bloated/pregnant women, and suddenly you understand why people have been staring at you. It's not because you're beautiful and radiant. It's because they're trying to decide why your face is so huge. :)

I'm joking of course. I know that I'm still gorgeous. Why, just this morning, I was shoving myself into a pair of underwear in an amazing feat of balance and grace.  As I hoisted my legs up, squishing my huge belly into my rib cage to force myself into my undergarments, I thought "wow, this really is the epitome of beauty." And then, looking up at my husband as he choked back laughter (yes, he was watching me like we watch the monkeys attempt to do "normal human things" at the zoo) I saw it in his eyes as well. This really is a beautiful time.

 Hahah, okay, I'm done. Anyways, I'm super happy to have made it to 37 weeks. We're getting down to business now, and Elliot is starting to head-butt her way down toward the place where all of our dreams will come true, which is exciting (read-painful and awkward).

 At 37 weeks, she:

 -has perfected the art of kicking my ribs just soft enough to not break them, but definitely hard enough to give me the guilt-inducing experience of trying not to swear at my unborn child.

 -gets hiccups all the time. So cute (again, read- awkward...I can feel the little vibrations in all of the wrong places!) -has a "beautiful" heartbeat, according to all of the nurses. My little overachiever! I can't wait to see her ACT scores someday!!

 -Alternates between days where she never moves, sending me into a panic-induced phone call to the midwife and trips to the hospital to make sure she's still alive, where she (of course, just like a Knott) begins to kick and show off her "beautiful heartrates" as soon as she's hooked up to the monitor... and days where she makes up for the lack of kicks and movement by tricking me into thinking she has flipped to a breech position.

We are getting carpet installed in the nursery TODAY, and hopefully things will be ready and waiting by the weekend! And then we can start sending our "baby, come out!" thoughts to her and wait for the fireworks to begin!

August 27, 2012

sweet provision

This summer has been full of transitions. Transition from work to staying home. Transition from two incomes to one. Transition toward motherhood.

Jeremy and I have learned a lot about ourselves and each other this summer as we have been adjusting to life on one income. It's amazing how your values and priorities really shine through when you don't have money to buy everything you want.

I wouldn't say that we lived extravagant lives when we were both working, but we definitely lived in the luxury of buying clothes when we wanted them, going out to eat when we wanted to, going to movies without thinking twice, etc... You know, typical married-without-kids stuff.

Now, on one income, we are learning to live in the beauty of simplicity. Eating at home. Transforming date nights from full-dinner-dessert nights to eat-at-home-get-coffee-later date nights. The list goes on and on of things we have had to discuss, negotiate, and learn from each other. And it has been extremely beautiful and good for each of us as individuals, in our relationship with God, and our marriage and growing family.

The thing that I am most looking forward to about living on one income are the conversations that I have just mentioned: learning to value the eternal, to not cling to material things, to not value comfort or convenience over relationship or time spent with each other.

But also, it is the privilege to live in a position where we will monthly, weekly, daily be trusting God to provide for our needs - and to help us define our needs according to his sweet mercies.

Already this summer, as doubts have flooded my heart time and time again about whether or not I should have quit my job to stay home, God has affirmed (and reaffirmed) the decision with a quiet peace. And then, He has provided. Not everything we want. There are plenty of times I walk into BabyGap and see outfits (just on the sale rack even!) that I want but know aren't necessary. I don't buy plenty of things.

But the truth is, over time, there is such a sense of freedom and joy from not being a slave to consuming, not being a slave to buying into secular thinking.  And there is SUCH joy when we pare down our list of things from "wants" to "needs", and see God provide so faithfully.

Cribs, changing tables, car seats, given from God's people, God's abundant resources, God's riches in Jesus.

I remember my parents living in this sweet reality as a child. I remember going garage saleing with my mom and hearing her pray outloud that God would provide exactly the school clothes or bike or shoes that He knew we needed at a price that we could afford. And He always did. He led us to the right sale, the right house, the right store. Time and time again, we watched and waited as He gave us exactly what we needed.

I know people looking in, especially those who haven't been able to trust God as a Father yet, might view this as a shallow view of God, a view of God that we appreciate because He's giving us everything we need. Sure we trust him when he's making life easier for us.

But you know what, that's not how I learned to trust God as a Father. I learned to trust God as a Father by watching Him give me what I needed in ways that were really painful. I watched Him take my family through a lot of really awful trials - deaths, cancer, more death, depression, sorrow, more depression, more sorrow. I personally have walked through a lot of seasons where it didn't feel like my needs were being met.

But they were. And in the quietness of those moments when I was crying out to God for rescue from suicide, from despair, from depression, He was building a slow, silent trust - a trust that, in the long run, would come to know that God giving us what we need doesn't apply to only material things, not only to money. It means that his Perfect Plan is so redemptive, so beautiful, so complete, that even when the pathway is filled with suffering, even when it feels like everyone around us is getting a better shot at life than we are, even when "tears are my food both day and night"...even then, I have learned to trust that God is giving me exactly what I need. And through this process of trusting God to meet my needs, I have learned that on every level - the material and tangible, the spiritual and unseen, in relationships, in the unknown times to come, that this Father, this God of goodness and abundant life, truly will provide for every single need through the riches that come through Jesus.

And oh, my, I am just so thankful for community and being eternal known by this Provisional, Good God.

April 26, 2012

it's official

well, folks.  I've been trying to figure out how to return from the blog-world hiatus with this news, so I guess I'll just come out and say it.

I'm pregnant.

The baby has bumped.  There's no hiding this belly. 17 weeks along, the baby is currently the size of...wait for onion.

You read it right. An onion. Kind of weird. Not as cute as a raspberry or a peach, but that's how life goes.

Yesterday we heard the heartbeat, and it was very reassuring to hear it beating fast and strong. There's a real human in there, growing very, very quickly.

I will be sharing more details of this journey in the future, since last I shared on this blog was talk about adoption/not having babies biologically. It has been quite the process, and I am looking forward to sharing the ups and downs and ins and outs. But for now, I will sum up with the following truths:

God is extremely faithful, we are so thankful for this baby, and while these past four months have been very different than what I would have asked for in an ideal situation, God has stayed true to the promises that we clung to when my mom was dying of cancer:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

Stay tuned.