healthy family

I Am Not a Savior


I spent the first years of my marriage trying to make sure everything was perfect for my husband.

If he didn’t love the way I cooked a meal, I would change it the next time.

If the traffic was bad on the way to get where we were going, I would look for another route the next time.

If he got frustrated or angry at a situation, I would feel like a failure and try to anticipate that need and fix it the next time around.

He DID NOT blame me for situations going wrong around him. Yet I almost ALWAYS felt guilt and took responsibility for his reactions.

I did this because I thought that was what ‘good wives’ did. I thought my role as a wife was to make my husband happy. I was to think of him first before myself, right? My goal was to make his life painless. I did not write out this goal, I did not even consciously make this goal. But as I look back, I know that’s what I was trying to do.

I was actually pretty good at it too.  I am an organized person, a planner.  So I meticulously planned out events.  I am an overachiever, so when he said he would prefer something done differently, I jumped on it and learned how to do it differently.  I tried to stay one step ahead and clean up the messy footprints behind.

The first years of our marriage I was filled with a lot of unspoken sadness, frustration, and feelings of failure. I loved my husband. We had some ridiculously fun times and a lot of laughs. Still, I had an overwhelming feeling of drowning. Like I could never be good enough.

Around year eight I somehow realized that Brian did not marry me to be his mother. He was a full-on adult and he had deliberately chosen to get married and leave his mother. He had chosen me to be his companion. He chose me to be his friend, his lover, his partner.

This realization was freeing.  I no longer felt responsible for all his actions.  I did not stress about making sure he was fulfilling all his responsibilities.  I stopped feeling responsible when he overslept or when a family activity did not go as planned.  It was a turning point on my side of the relationship, but it still felt like something was off.  Something was missing.

It wasn’t until recently, year twelve of marriage, that I looked back on those early years and saw that I was not trying to be Brian’s mom after all. I was trying to be his Savior. Maybe more accurately, I was trying to erase his need for a savior all together.

His reactions to things that went wrong were often sinful. I took it as a personal mission to remove his sinful reactions by creating an atmosphere that was perfect. Again, he did not ask me to do this. I wrongly assumed it was my duty to do this. I thought I could place my husband in a perfect home environment, plan perfect family outings, give perfect advice for his problems, and respond perfectly to his requests and he would, in turn, be perfect in this atmosphere I had created.

That feels crazy when I say it so bluntly. 

The truth is, I can never create a perfect atmosphere. And it has never been my “job” to try.

I have changed the goal in my mind from being perfect to pointing to the One who is perfect. If I have a “job” as a wife, it is to point my husband to a perfect God each time he sins.

The reality of this is not easy.

For Brian marriage was honestly a lot more fun when I was making sure everything went his way. He didn’t know I was doing this and didn’t ask me to, but once I stopped ‘catering to him’ things had to get tougher before they could get better.

His changes did not come as a result of me telling him he needed to change. They came as a result of prayers on both of our parts. It came from me starting to feel safer opening up and sharing my heart with him. I began to tell him how I truly felt. I told him the times I was feeling like a failure so he could be aware of how his reactions were impacting me. And he began taking on a new role of guarding my heart.  

I really don’t know what would have happened to our marriage in the early days if I hadn’t been like I was. Maybe he would have spiritually matured a lot faster, maybe I stunted his growth.

We will never know. I just know I wish we had the marriage we have now back then.

I know we can’t go back and change the events and the attitudes that have brought us to the point we are at now, but I know we can surrender our current attitudes and habits and beg God to help us change.

And I know this is a continual work. It is a work that needs God’s Grace and mercy and love all over it. Because I am not a Savior, and each time I try to be one for someone—I will fail. But HE is a Savior and He will never fail.


healthy family, Healthy Soul

God Hears You.

Family Rainbow Balloons

I got pregnant in December and I felt God saying, share this news.

So we did.

Within a week we had shared it with our kids and then most of our family and close friends. We had a very public journey of loss and this journey of new life was going to be public too.

Then I had a miscarriage.

And I did not regret the decision to tell people we were pregnant early on. The loss of our baby was painful and I experienced it at home. I am glad my kids had a vague idea of what was going on and I did not have to keep our loss a secret from them.

I am glad our family and friends knew our exciting news early so they could pray for us throughout the early loss.

I did not, and still do not, regret going through our miscarriage publicly.

Then we got pregnant again. Rather quickly. It was exciting. It was a miracle (all life is). But the message pressed into both our hearts was much different.

This time we felt a strong sense of ‘Keep this news for yourselves’.

It was confusing, but it was clear.

It was confusing because the past three years Brian and I have been willing to be vulnerable. We have shared our emotions and experiences openly. We have both advocated for sharing this life with other people, not trying to do life alone.

But the message was clear. This time, this news, it was just for us.

The story of Mary and her miraculous pregnancy kept coming to mind. Specifically Luke 2:19 which says, ‘Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often’.

So I kept the news in my heart. Brian and I talked about it together, but we did not share the news with anyone.

It was weird. This was our fifth time to get pregnant and our first time to keep it a complete secret for so long.

I began to analyze all the whys. Why did I feel like I should keep this secret? Was it fear? Was it guilt? What was I supposed to be learning? What was the lesson in all this?  Because there is always a lesson, right?! There is always something to be learned.

For ten weeks I didn’t have any answers. Just a joyous little secret growing inside me. It was fun to share this intimate news with only my husband. But I didn’t think that was the point. But maybe there wasn’t a point. Maybe it was a simple act of obedience. I felt like God told me to wait to share the news, so I would wait.

Then as we got through week 8, the point of my previous miscarriage, and I continued to have nausea and symptoms of pregnancy I began to realize that God was listening to my prayers for a healthy pregnancy. And then it was week 11 and I was starting to feel better and feel more signs of the life inside me.

God was listening to my prayers and Brian’s prayers. That was it. Other people may have been praying for us throughout that time, but we were the only two that were praying knowing specifically for this little life.

And then it became so clear what I was learning through this experience. The message came flooding into my heart.

I knew:

The whisper of one small broken heart is just as important as the cry of an army of warriors.

God hears me.

He doesn’t hear me because other people are asking him to. He doesn’t hear me because I am a good person and deserve it. He doesn’t hear me because of anything about me.

He hears me because He loves me. And He hears you because He loves you.

God hears you. You are enough. All by yourself. Your voice is loud.

Miracle Square no info
healthy family, Healthy Soul

Daring to Dream Again

pregnant bw 1
July 2016. More than half-way through my third pregnancy.

I have been pregnant three times. Each time my husband and I have been pretty private about the fact that we would like to have a baby. Most the time we have not told anyone we were “trying”.

It’s like it is a fun little intimate secret we share alone. And we both love to surprise people! So we wait for the positive result and then share with close family and friends. Then we wait again for the sweet little ultrasound assuring us all is well, and then we take a cute photo and share our news with the world.

We love sharing the news, but we like to make sure we are in the “safe zone” first.

But when Beckett passed away at 4 months old, we realized there is no “safe zone”. There are no guarantees in this life.

For the past 2 years we have shared our journey of loss openly. We have followed doors that God has opened and we have known it was the right thing to do. It has felt natural.

Now we have decided to try for another baby, and we feel the exact same urging to share our story. But this time it is scary. It feels like maybe we are going to be over-sharing. Maybe it’s not really necessary to fill in the whole world on every little detail of our lives.

It’s scary because I don’t know how long it will take us to get pregnant this time. I don’t know IF I will ever be pregnant again.

However scared I am to share this journey, I can’t hold back. I feel compelled to share this part of our story as much anything I’ve ever written. I feel like I NEED to write this because I know I am not alone.

I know there are women reading this who have experienced loss and are scared to go through that again.

I know there are couples struggling because one partner wants another baby and the other one doesn’t. 

I know there is a mom with empty arms who just doesn’t feel ready to go through the pain again and needs to hear, ‘It’s okay. Take your time.’

I know there are people that have had their heart completely shattered and they don’t know if they can put themselves out there again.  

I know there are others who need to know that peace is possible.

I’m not just talking about pregnancy here. Maybe you have given your whole heart to go for a dream and it didn’t end the way you thought it would. And you just don’t know if you can do it again. You just don’t know if your heart can take being broken again.

I’m scared, but I’m more scared of not taking a chance. I don’t want to live my life in fear. And I don’t want that for you either.

So I’m going to share this journey. I’m going to write about the trials of trying to conceive after loss. And if you can relate directly, I’m sorry but I’m glad we have found each other. If you cannot relate directly, I pray you still find hope in what I write.

I don’t want to wait until after we have the happy result to share what this process has been like. I do not want to post a happy pregnancy announcement sometime in the future and not give acknowledgement to the tears, prayers, and waiting that are behind that announcement. This has been hard. Let me rephrase that, this IS hard.


This is hard on our marriage.

The loss of a child is hard on any marriage. I have read statistics that place divorce as high as 80% after the loss of a child. I have hesitated to say how our marriage has survived this loss because I know we have never truly made it to the “other side”. We consistently are reminded of the extra challenges we are still working through.

Brian has wanted another baby for a long time. Actually, while following the ambulance to the hospital, Brian cried out to God asking for the opportunity to raise another baby. As he held me in that same hospital that same night, I told him I didn’t know if I could ever have a baby again.

We have been patient with each other and as understanding as we could be, but for the first time in our relationship, we had different dreams and thoughts about what our “end-game” family would look like.

Brian quickly realized that no baby will ever replace Beckett, and he needed to spend some time adjusting to that loss instead of just plowing ahead into the future.

I have SLOWLY given my fears over to God. I have a lot of questions and concerns still. But I know I cannot live in those fears. Brian has patiently waited on me to be ready and left this decision in my hands.


This is hard because I don’t love being pregnant.

This reason has nothing to do with losing a child, but has a lot to do with my hesitancy to try again.

I am a horrible pregnant lady. Can I confess that I just don’t enjoy being pregnant? I know it is an honor and a privilege to be able to grow and carry a life inside of me. But I worry a lot. I think everything that can go wrong has gone wrong in between each check up.

My body doesn’t handle it real well either. I swell ALL OVER. I’ve had pre-eclampsia once and high blood pressure twice. It takes me about 2 years to get back to close to pre-pregnancy weight. The choice to get pregnant is a choice to give up my body. As much as I love my babies, I just don’t love being pregnant.


But the real reason I have been so scared to try again to have another baby:

I am fearful that it will break me. 


I am fearful I will never be able to lay that precious baby down, that I will not sleep for the first four months.

I am fearful I will neglect my husband.

I am fearful I will neglect my other two kids.

I am fearful I will lose another child.

I write this knowing full well that all of those fears are well founded. That as you read those last few sentences you can put yourself in my shoes and you would be fearful of the same things. Or maybe you are in my shoes and those are your fears as well.

But over the past two years I could never stop with those fears. I knew deep down in my soul, I wanted another baby. I love being a mom. I don’t feel like it all comes naturally to me. I often question whether I got the ‘mother’s intuition’ that supposedly comes along with a baby. As much as I make myself question my abilities, there is no denying my desire.

Up until this past summer I pretty much just accepted that that would be my future reality. I might lose myself for a time, our family dynamics might be tense for a time, I might live in fear, but it would all be worth it to add a precious new addition to our family.

Then I looked back on the past two years and I realized that fear and doubt do not have to rule my life through this process.

Almost two years ago we lost our precious baby boy. And in many ways it did break me. But in many more ways, I have witnessed a miracle. God has held me so tight through this time.

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Not only has my marriage held together, it has been strengthened by fire.

My kids have grieved the loss of a sibling, and through the process they have loved each other fiercely and are turning into pretty great little people.

I have neglected my body, fueled it with all the wrong things and been so angry at times about it. Then I have slowly come to a place of control knowing how to actually care for this physical body.

I have not lost my faith in God through this difficult time, I have clung to Him as my source of strength.


And if God could produce this kind of miracle in the past two years, why couldn’t He do it again?

Why do I trust Him to comfort and heal the pain of the past but not the unknown of the future?

So a few months ago, the same time Brian and I started feeling the urge from God to share this journey, we also felt the peace that He could bring about a miracle in our lives.

He could create a little life to carry inside of me. That in itself is a miracle each time it happens.

He could give me peace throughout that pregnancy.

He could give me strength if I have a healthy child in my arms.

He can calm my fears.

And if it all goes wrong—if I never get pregnant again, if I am unable to carry a child to full-term, even if I have to bury another child—even then, He can give me a strength and a peace that only comes from Him.

I’ve seen Him give me strength and peace before, and I believe I’ll see Him do it again.


I also share all this to ask for prayers. I speak of the peace and strength I have experienced since losing Beckett, and I know it comes from thousands of people all over the world lifting our family up in prayer. So I’m coming to you humbly again. I am thankful for your prayers and I still need them.

And while you are praying for this miracle for us, let me just throw this in—we aren’t just praying for one healthy addition to our family. We are praying for twins. Because if we are going to pray for a miracle, we figure we should go ahead and pray for the real desire of our hearts. And a set of boy/girl twins is what our heart desires. But what our heart desires even more than that is to be content with whatever God’s plan is for our life and our family. We desire to trust Him through this process and to be overwhelmed with a peace we know is from Him.

O God, listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
 Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of your wings!

Psalm 61


I would love to pray for you as well. Let me know below or privately what you are struggling to trust God with for the future. I’m not saying this lightly; we need to know we aren’t alone. We need to know someone is cheering us on.


– Rebekah





healthy family

The One Phrase that Upsets this Grieving Parent


me beckett beach square

I am a mother who has lost a child.

I am reminded of this every day.

I don’t say that to get sympathy. I am simply stating a fact.

I know some of you reading this know what I am talking about first hand. You have lost an unborn child, an infant, a toddler, a teenager, or an adult child. No matter the age, if you have lost a child you don’t forget that. Others reading this thankfully do not have personal knowledge, but you can imagine that you would never forget losing a child.

Sometimes I remember my sweet Beckett when one of my other kids mentions him. Sometimes I remember him when I see another child around his age and think of what he would be doing now.   Yesterday I found one of his big green pacifiers under our bed.

We have photos around our home and multiple boxes full of memories. Remembering Beckett is special. It’s something I WANT to do.

A year and a half into this life, I know people are still nervous about saying the wrong thing around me. I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me. I like remembering my son. I don’t mind if you, or your child, brings him up in a conversation.

Obviously, every grieving parent is different. But as for me, I’m not easily upset or offended. People around me say things without thinking and it normally doesn’t bother me. They can talk about their kids annoying them, and I don’t secretly shame them and think, ‘They should be thankful they have kids’. Listen, my kids annoy me sometimes too. It’s life. It’s not perfect, we aren’t perfect. I’m okay with that.

But there is one popular phrase that I just can’t stay silent about any longer.

It’s something I see on memes, t-shirts and coffee mugs. I hear it in conversations around me. It’s become the funny catch phrase of mom’s everywhere. It comes in many forms, but the punch line is usually:

“I kept the kids alive today, go me!”


“Goal: Keep the tiny humans alive”

google and pinterest search
If you are unfamiliar with this phrase, do a quick Google or Pinterest search and you’ll see it.


I get it. There is this whole mommy war/mom guilt culture going on where moms feel pressure to perform and live a Pinterest life. These memes are trying to put the pressure to be perfect to the side and focus on what’s really important in parenting.

But let me tell you, from my angle—these are painful.

The biggest thing I struggle with in my grief is a sense of failure. My job as a mom is to protect my child. And my child died. I know in my head that his death was not because of something I did or did not do. It was not my fault. I know that. But I still struggle with the nagging feeling of failure.

I have hesitated to write this post for so long because I do not want sympathy. (I’ll take prayer any day!), and I do not want to shame really good moms who I have seen jokingly use this phrase.

My aim is simply to make you think twice and make you think deeper.

I mentioned a sense of failure I feel. Failure is directly related to what we believe the goal is. If your goal really is just to keep your kids alive, then share the meme, buy the coffee mug—go all out. But when I look deep inside, that’s not my goal. And I’m willing to bet it’s not really your goal either.

Brian and I have a mutual goal in parenting, and it’s this:

We want our kids to experience a great love.

First, we pray they know the overwhelming love that comes from our Great God.

Then we pray they are secure in an unconditional love from their family, no matter the circumstances around them.

We also want them to display a love for other people and to love and enjoy the beauty of the world around them.

parenting goal

When your goal is for your child to experience love, you can accomplish this no matter how short their life is.

And if you show this love to your children, don’t be ashamed of it and don’t minimize it! In aiming to not shame other moms, I fear that we have gone too far to the other extreme. We are almost afraid to share the really good moments in life because we are afraid of sugar coating our life, or coming across like we have it all together. Let me put your mind at ease: nobody thinks you are perfect all the time. (And if they do, that’s on them—not on you!)

If you think I am perfect all the time, come live in my house for a day. It might not take that long, come visit for a few hours. In that time you will see me lose my patience, you may see me staring at my phone instead of the Lego creation my kid just made. You may find them sitting in front of the TV instead of a book.   You may see me eat a piece of chocolate instead of a carrot!

But you will also see me hug and love my kids. You might see me get down on their level and listen to a story they want to share about their day. You could see me work for an hour on a really healthy meal that will nourish my family. And you would be invited to sit with us around the table as we engage in real, meaningful conversation. And I’m not embarrassed about any of this. Because the truth is, you might be inspired to do the same in your own home!

I hope no one ever feels shame or embarrassment that they don’t measure up to the Wright family. Goodness, we should not be a ruler for anyone! But I do pray that our lives point to a God who gives us strength to live an intentional life full of His love.

Sweet struggling mom, I don’t want to call you out, I want to call you up.

I want to challenge you to pray and set some goals for your family that go a little further than just staying alive. Yes this life is hard. There are seasons of survival. I have been there. We have walked through that time. But that is not the season I want to live in forever. And it’s a season you don’t have to live in forever. There is hope. There are glimpses of really good even in the middle of bad. Open your eyes, sweet friend, and give yourself some credit when you see it.

Let’s start now and let’s start here. Comment below and tell me a parenting moment you are proud of or something in life you have succeeded in recently. Don’t do this to show the world how perfect you are, do it to encourage the rest of us.

Let’s be people that inspire each other!


healthy family

How to Raise an Enthusiastic Reader

5 Steps to Take Your Child from Media Zombie to Engaged Reader



I travelled many places growing up.

I went to the world’s largest chocolate factory that was only accessible with a golden ticket.

I became friends with a girl named Fern who was trying to save a runt pig.

I even went back and experienced primitive times on the prairie.

From my little small-town Indiana home, I could go anywhere with a good book. When I was reading those classic books, I was learning new vocabulary, I was learning about geography, I was expanding my worldview. I didn’t know this when I was young, I just knew I loved reading! And when I became a parent myself I knew I wanted my kids to love reading.

We have read to our children since they were babies. I think this has established a basis for them loving a good story. They love when daddy uses silly voices and the suspense that hangs in the air while you turn a page. I am a huge advocate for reading to your children. But that’s not where I am going here.

As our oldest learned to read on her own, we saw that just reading to her was not enough to make her love reading herself. There seemed to be a disconnect and a lack of desire to take the leap from passively listening to devouring the books herself. Last spring I realized I had a child who could read, but had no desire to read. I’ll be honest, this kind of broke my heart. I was not content to just say, “Oh well, reading is not her thing” and move on. I knew something needed to change.   I knew I needed to take action.

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When I was growing up my parents did not have to come up with a plan to make me love reading. I was a youngest child and I constantly saw the other people in my house reading and I wanted to read. I remember sitting with a pile of Berenstain Bear books and looking through pictures while the other four members of my family all sat with “real chapter books” on quiet week nights and I just couldn’t wait until I was old enough to do that too. Okay, I know I’m a nerd and this scenario might have been a bit weird even back in the late Eighties, but I cannot imagine this happening in too many living rooms in today’s culture!

So what has changed?

A lot has changed. But I think the glaring truth is, screens have invaded our kid’s lives. I know this sounds all doom and gloom, as if I think technology is the devil. I don’t think that at all. But I think the advancement of technology and amount that children are exposed to it has hugely impacted their attention span, interest levels, and lives in general.

I said that reading to my kids made them love a good story, but so did watching an exciting episode of Paw Patrol. They could be just as entertained by holding a tablet and watching a show or playing a game as they would be reading a book, and they didn’t have to think nearly as much to watch the show. The problem came when I told them to turn off that show and they either threw a fit or had no idea what to do on their own to have fun. They had a playroom full of toys, desk full of art supplies and shelf full of books, but they were constantly at a loss of what to do. I started realizing I was raising kids dependent on being entertained in an easy, fast way. And I didn’t like it.

Fortunately, I also realized my kids were still very young. I knew there was still plenty of time to make changes. I knew that technology was not the only problem. We made some changes in habits and I got a little more intentional about learning my own child, and it worked!

These are the steps we took:


  1. Limit Technology Time

This seems like an obvious first step. If you want to keep your children from being dependent on technology for entertainment, you need to keep them away from the technology. It sounds so simple. Yet this is probably the hardest step for us as the parents. Technology is easy. Technology is convenient. And chances are, your child already loves playing games or watching shows on their tablet, phone, or the TV.

When I got serious about wanting our oldest to love reading, we went on a 30-day no-screens adventure as a family. Yikes, this just got personal. If I wanted to detox her from the constant flow of images and screen time, I knew I needed to do it myself. Kids are excellent imitators. They also are excellent at pointing out hypocrisy. My husband and I were both on board to set a good example. Together we did 30 days of no TV, video games, or computer games and very little phone usage. We had a few exceptions—texting and face timing, business on the computer, or family movie nights. But we locked up the kindles for a month and told our kids they had to find a different way to entertain themselves.

Fortunately, we are at the stage in parenting where we can unplug the TV and hide the tablet and our kids don’t have a way of going around the system. As your kids get older, I’m sure this is harder to inforce. This is where you have to be determined. Your kid will throw a fit. They won’t like that you have taken their favorite toy away. The more reliant they were on the device before, the bigger the tantrum will be when you take it away.

But please, take this to heart—you are not depriving your child!

If the tears and the constant begging begins to wear down your resolve, take a moment to Google the effects of technology on a young child’s brain. (oh wait, that uses a screen, you better do it before you begin and print the article out!) There are studies that compare the use of screens to the use of heroin and the results are scary-similar.

However, all the articles I have read have also said that screen addiction might actually be harder to break and cure than drug addiction! What?! Mama, if your 5-year-old was hooked on cocaine, would you give up the detox a week in just because it was just too hard on them? No way!

As hard as that beginning week may be, keep the end goal in mind. During the thirty days, I actually saw my daughter blossom into a voracious reader! It was kind of amazing to watch. Now is this guaranteed to happen on a technology break? No, of course not. But your child might become a Lego-building maniac, or a dedicated artist, or develop their creativity in ways you did not even see coming. Be ready to notice these new developments and praise them like crazy when they happen!

I know I compared screens to a drug, but the problem is the addiction to the screen, not the screen itself. Technology is neither good nor bad—it is a tool. After the total break from technology, we brought it back in moderation. We use wisdom now to try to guard our kids from that addiction. They use their Kindles two evenings a week when we have company over and we basically need a babysitter.   They can watch TV on Fridays when their brains and emotions are tired from a long week at school. And sometimes this mama just needs to get some work done uninterrupted and they get to watch a show or movie.

We don’t have strict rules on technology. I think it’s fun. I think it’s useful. I think it is important for my kids to know how to use it. But more than anything, I think it needs to have an appropriate place in their hearts and priorities. In order for our family to get to that appropriate place, we had to start extreme.


  1. Discover Your Child’s Genre

Once your child is detoxed from technology and in a place where their creativity is awake, next you must begin to foster that love of reading. At this point the question becomes, what books would my child actually enjoy?   You can start by asking for recommendations or doing a Pinterest search for ideas. It’s a great start to find a general list on the Internet of ‘Books 7 year-old Girls Love’.

But not all seven-year-old girls are the same. Remember, I knew our daughter could read, she just didn’t want to read. So, we looked at her interests. The girl loves animals! She also loves make believe—fairies and magic. Once we combined those two loves and found some books on magical creatures and animals—she was engaged!

As her love developed and she read more and more she reached a point where her ability outreached her maturity. She could be have begun reading larger, more challenging books. But she was still seven-years-old and still loved short books about magical animals and people that get swept off to their land. I knew her time for bigger, more mature books would come, but I didn’t push it. The goal here was for her to enjoy reading.

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  1. Become Friends with your Local Library

We knew that short, magical books was our daughter’s sweet spot. The problem is that she can read one of those books in a night.

How do we keep fresh reading material for her without going broke? Use your local library!

Create a love of the library in your children. Most libraries have story times you can take your kids to when they are young. Make it a fun adventure to pick out books. Get to know the librarian by name. Let them know what types of books your children like so they can help.

Our local library is very small, so we checked out all of the fairy books and animal books there in a very short time! But they have an interlibrary sharing system with the entire county. So, when she finds a new book she likes and finds out it’s one of a series, we let the librarian know and we pull in books from all over! It’s an endless free stream of books at your fingertips.

I often check out a few books outside of her normal genre, just to see if she’s changing. Sometimes she reads them, sometimes she doesn’t. But I haven’t wasted any money if she looks at the cover and turns it down. Not only are we saving money with the library, but space as well. If you’re a mom who dislikes clutter, this is a great way to get books in your kid’s hands without having to find a place to put the large collection they are growing.

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  1. Set Attainable Goals and Rewards

Our girl began reading like crazy in the Spring. When summer holiday came around, I decided to challenge her. I told her she would earn £1 for every book she read. Money is a powerful motivator. Pick a reward you know your child will love, but be careful that it does not reinforce the wrong thing.

If 20 minutes of reading is rewarded with 1 hour on the tablet, you are not lessening the pull of technology on your child’s heart. I’m not a big fan of using food as a reward either, but do what works for you.

Summer holiday was six weeks long, we were gone for two of those weeks, I thought money was a reasonable reward. In those four weeks, she read 39 chapter books! Yikes! I don’t think we will be using money as a motivator for reading anymore—I can’t afford it!

The point is to find what motivates your child and go for it. What motivates your child may change as they grow and their ability grows. Don’t try to get it perfect from the beginning, just start with a small goal and small reward and work your way up.

Prize boxes work well for our kids at their current ages (seven and four). You could let them choose a small prize for every 100 pages read or 500 pages read as they grow. If you have multiple reading age children or a community of friends you can use competition as motivators as well. See who can read the most pages or books in a month, have a group ice cream party if they can read 100 books together over the summer.

Why limit parties and group goals to schools and classrooms? Bring the celebration home!

Once they start reading, don’t be conservative with your praise! If you really want your children to love reading, reinforce that with your words and face. After they finish a book, have a special date with that child to discuss the book. Make two hot chocolates and sit down at the table and listen as they describe all the events of the book. Ask them what the character’s names were, who in the book they liked the best, why they liked them.

Let your children relive the story in their own words.

If you are a reader yourself, you know you are never quite ready to exit that make-believe world in your head when you finish a book. Let your child stay there a little longer.

I’ll be honest here, magical creatures are not my genre (unless we are talking Harry Potter!). A story about a Pegasus who injures its hoof is not really peaking my interest. But for the ten minutes it takes my daughter to tell me all about the book, I act like it is the coolest thing I have ever heard.

We don’t discuss every book she reads, sometimes she is not in a talkative mood, but this gift of your attention and time can be a powerful reward for your child.

One last tool we use to track reading and rewards is This is a free site run by Amazon where you can record all the books you have read and review them. I set our daughter up with a private account (there is a social aspect that we don’t use) at the beginning of the year when she set a goal to read 100 books within the year. There is a tracker for your own personal reading challenge. She loves going in and recording which books she has read and watching the progress percentage go up. As she records what she has read, there are suggestions on the side of books that she may like. This has been a helpful tool for her as well.


5) Set the Example 

I touched on this earlier when talking about limiting technology, but I want to end by restating the importance of this. It was up to me, and my husband, to set the example of what would be important in our home.

In our family, I had to look at myself when I was questioning why my daughter was so addicted to technology. I went back to that same weeknight scenario in my childhood home, the one I talked about earlier. I compared the old image of my family sitting around reading books to the current situation in my adult home I was creating. My husband and I on our phones while the kids either ran around crazy or sat in front of their own screens. There was a constant cry of my heart that there wasn’t enough time in the day all while I spent countless hours scrolling through social media feeds.

I know that my children are their own little people with their own big personalities and hearts with very real desires, but they are a product of me. I don’t say this to guilt myself and for sure I do not say it to shame you if you have a child you are struggling with. (I have had many struggle moments, weeks, even years!)

I say this because I am passionate about having a healthy life and a healthy family. By ‘healthy’ I mean our bodies, our souls and our family rhythms. All these areas are important and they all take work. This health depends on a lot of balance. The funny thing about balance is you can’t just find it once and live out the rest of your life balanced. Balance is about constantly readjusting and changing to fit your needs. Keeping a balance requires action.

What action does your family need you to take?

Do you need to sit down with your partner and decide on a social media break?

Do you need to set aside ten minutes each day this week with your child to learn what they are interested in and encourage those interests?

Do you need to take a trip to your library and check out a book?

Maybe you can schedule a no-technology reading night tonight. (Seek and Find books are great for young non-readers on these nights.)

Whatever you decide, comment below and let me know. And give me your ideas! What works to motivate your kids to read? What books are they reading right now? I’m always looking for more ideas.



Note: All of these fun photos of our family reading together were part of our family photos last fall photographed by the amazing Hannah K Photography



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Four Ways Grief has Changed Our Family


Today marks one year since we lost our baby boy, Beckett.   In the past year we have learned a lot about grief and we have been changed by grief.

Our family has changed 4 different ways this year.

1) Brian
2) Rebekah
3) Brooklyn
4) Boston

Probably one of the hardest things to handle for Brian and I was this summer when four-year-old Boston started verbalizing his questions and grief. For a few weeks straight he prayed, “God, please send Beckett back to us.” He told us each on different occasions, “I didn’t know Beckett was going to die.” We have patiently explained that we didn’t know either and answered questions to the best of our ability.

We have prayed as seven-year-old Brooklyn has become more introspective and less talkative about her grief.

I am an introvert. I don’t feel comfortable talking in depth about all I am feeling. It takes an intimate setting and a lot of trust to pull these conversations out of me in person. But I also process my thoughts with a cup of coffee and a keyboard. I have found comfort in writing privately and publically throughout the year. Being around people often drains me.

Brian is more extroverted than me. He might not like to talk about his emotions, but he is energized when he is with a group of friends having fun and deep conversations about other aspects of life.

We hit ten years of marriage this year. I had long thought this was a milestone that would put me in the “expert” category. (I’m only slightly joking) Instead of feeling like we had things figured out after ten years of marriage, we found ourselves feeling more like we had no idea who we were anymore.

Grief is as individual as the people experiencing it. I don’t feel I can give any advice on how to comfort someone else going through the same situation we did, unless I know that person. It’s not about what has happened, it’s about whom it has happened to.

I don’t know what to say to anyone else, but I know how we have handled this year.

We have loved each other where we are. It’s been hard. But when Brian looks at me, or hears what is coming out of my mouth, and doesn’t recognize me, He has shown me love anyway. I don’t expect Brian to be the same husband today that he was a year ago. I don’t expect myself to be the same mom I was a year ago.

This is true for us in grief, but I think it’s a good rule for all relationships. People change. Hopefully we are changing and growing in good ways, sometimes we aren’t. But life is constantly changing and people change with it. In friendship we have to give people room to change. I love the friends that I can sit and talk with and explore new thoughts and concepts I am learning and not feel like I have to apologize for contradicting something I previously said. I’m not talking about being inconsistent, I’m talking about growing and changing as people and leaving room for others to do that in our relationships.

Grief is not something I like experiencing. But change—that’s becoming exciting. As we round the one-year corner, we are starting to feel a fresh stirring in our souls. I am starting to feel expectant for the year to come. I know God has not left us this past year, and I am excited to see what He has in store for the coming year. And I am excited to share those lessons with others.


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Celebrating and Grieving at Christmas Time

IMG_6563Christmas Baking Day 2016

Today was our 3rd annual Christmas baking day. The kids were excited, we had fun and we carried out our plan. We enjoyed the day. We have had a lot of fun this Christmas season already and we have a lot more plans for even more fun. When I smile and enjoy Christmas this year I am in no way being fake, I am enjoying the present.

But each new memory we make brings back memories from last year. Memories with Beckett. Sometimes we talk about those memories. Sometimes we just all get quiet and know what we are each thinking. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I get a bit hard to live with.

We are going to the States for Christmas. I am so excited to see my family! The kids are so excited to see grandparents and cousins and we have plans. I made an itinerary. For real. I am excited. But I am not going “home” for Christmas. I am home right now.

I am home because this is where God has placed our hearts. This is where we have a house that we have made memories in. I am home because this is where Beckett lived his life. As I walk the streets, as I do routine things, I remember him with me as I did those things a year ago. I daily see people that knew Beckett too. They held him, they cuddled him, they loved him. It keeps him close. I don’t have to talk about his memory, because it feels alive. It feels like it’s here. I had an irrational pain when we went to the States last February feeling like I was abandoning my baby. It didn’t make actual sense, he was gone, but the pain was real.

I know grief is a weird thing. It’s different for everyone. It knows no time boundaries and it knows no rules. I know if you are human, you have experienced loss in your life. Loss of a child, a parent, a friend, a person, a pet, a job, a dream; none of us escape grief completely. I also know Christmas is a time when people struggle more with handling this grief than most other times of the year.

As Christians, Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is no small thing that He was called Immanuel. Immanuel means God with us. As much as I grieve Beckett no longer being with us, I celebrate that God is always with me. He came in the form of a baby so many years ago, and He comes to me continually in Spirit form. He is the Comforter.  I don’t say this lightly. I say it because it’s His power that saves my life daily. ‘God with me’ is what I celebrate when I celebrate Christmas. And as hard as this Christmas season has been and will continue to be, it also has held a whole new meaning and specialness in my heart. I’ll say it again, everyone grieves differently and I certainly do not want to shame anyone who is struggling to celebrate this Christmas. But for me this Christmas, I’m not just putting on a smile for the kids. I’m not just faking my way through the holiday season. I feel like I have tried to be pretty transparent all year long and this is no exception. This Christmas I am celebrating. I am celebrating memories in my heart, new experiences, special time with family, and most importantly I am celebrating God with me. Thank you God for sending us a rescue plan!


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Choosing to Thrive

I believe you can go through life one of two ways: You can survive or you can thrive. I have a hard time defining what these two lifestyles look like, but I don’t think I have to. I think if you stop and think about your life, you will know exactly what I mean. You can probably think back on times of your life when you can say, man that was great, I was thriving! Then you could look at times—months, years, decades even—when you say, I was doing all I could to survive.

Before January 4, 2017, our little family was thriving. And then we lost Beckett. It was an event that we had no control over. It was not something that we chose, and it was not something that we liked. We slipped into survival mode. It took all of the energy Brian and I had to go through the normal motions of life. Grief is exhausting. Emotions take a lot of energy. Every day I miss Beckett. Every day I am reminded of him in some way. I could choose to focus on all of the things my life is missing. I believe this choice would plant me firmly in survival mode. I don’t want to live my life in survival mode.

Instead I want to choose to thrive. I still feel sad. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, if ever. I still do not like being a family of four again. This life we are living right now—it’s not part of my perfect plan. However, I believe with all of my heart that in the midst of imperfectness, we can catch glimpses of perfect. And when we begin to look for those things and notice and appreciate those little moments, we begin a mental shift that takes us from surviving to thriving.

This concept of thriving is not original to me. Over 2000 years ago Jesus told his followers, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) The Message puts that verse this way:

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

For me, my choice to follow Christ changes everything about this life. Yes, it gives me a hope for after this life. But right here, right now, in the midst of some serious ‘stealing, killing, and destroying’ of my life; I have a strength, a peace and a better life than I could ever dream of. And that strength does not come from me, it comes from God within me.

Sometime around the end of January, Brian and I took a look at our life and we decided it was time to make the choice to thrive again. It wasn’t an instantaneous, one time choice. The first time it was a choice we made to take Brooklyn and Boston out bowling for the first time. We laughed at the kids; we had fun as a family. We missed Beckett. Deciding to do one fun thing as a family did not “fix” our pain. But it did set us on a path to thrive. Next, we made a choice to get away as a couple for a night. The next month we went miniature golfing.   We did family nights and went for walks. The choices slowly started adding up.

At first, I had a hard time grasping the concept of thriving in these circumstances. It almost sounds irreverent or wrong to even think about.   I can’t give a generic definition of thriving, because I think it looks different for every person and every family. But if I personally define thriving as choosing to be thankful, choosing to look for glimpses of perfect, choosing to trust God despite how I feel—then I want nothing more than to thrive in this season of life. And I want nothing more than to encourage others to do the same. On the top of the mountain or in the bottom of the valley, look for the chance to thrive, thank God when you find it, and share it with someone else.




healthy family, Healthy Soul

Sharing the Joy, Sharing the Pain

It’s almost been one month since we lost our sweet baby boy.

In the past month:

I have learned that clueless three-year-olds are a gift from God. Boston has made us laugh and continued on with his happy little life in spite of everything going on around him.

I have decided if there were an award for grieving, Brooklyn would win it. She talks about Beckett at least once every day. She draws pictures of him and writes letters to him. She somehow lives her life in a way that remembers him and honors him, without any heaviness. She is sad, but she is strong. She is one amazing girl.

I have been thankful for my marriage. I ache for Brian’s pain. He wants to take mine away. We both have moments of strength and hard moments, but we have them together.

I have felt God’s strength and comfort in a way I have never experienced before. I have never needed to experience it to this extent before. I can’t explain it, and I don’t think I need to be able to explain it. I just know that I would not be handling this the way I am without Him.

God’s love for me does not surprise me. God is love. It’s what He does because it’s who He is. What amazes me is the love being shown to us by other people. I know myself. I am a sinner. I make mistakes. I know Brian. I think he’s the greatest husband in the world (obviously), but I know he is very human as well. We are not amazing or exceptional people.   But we have made an intentional choice to share our lives with other people, and it is a choice we would make again 100 times.

We brought Beckett home from the hospital on September 15th. That morning Brian’s parents flew back to the US. We were bringing our third child home from the hospital with our closest relative 4,000 miles away. We were faced with a choice at that time. We could pretend to be self-sufficient and try to make it through this newly complicated life on our own. “Our little family of five is great and we don’t need any help!” Or we could share our lives with those around us. We could ask for and accept help. In the first scenario, I think we would have survived. It would have been hard, but we could have made it through each day. But we didn’t choose that option.

When Beckett was born we chose to share our lives, and we chose to share our little boy with those God had placed around us. And we loved it. Beckett quickly captured the hearts of our friends, our church, and pretty much anyone we passed in the village. He had big bright eyes and around two-months-old he started showing off a big smile to go with it.

We shared our little boy through the beauty of technology as well. Our family that couldn’t hold Beckett with their arms got to smile and talk to him online. Even my 90-year-old grandmother got to hold the iPad right up to her face and admire her eighth great-grandchild. Our friends could meet Beckett through social media. And our financial and prayer supporters in ministry were able to rejoice with us from a distance.

Life was hard with three kids. But the friends and the community that surrounded us made it enjoyable. I knew this thing we were experiencing was special. Brian and I often asked ourselves what we did to deserve such blessings from God. Why did we get to be the lucky ones that loved life and thrived in our current circumstances?

On January 4th our circumstances changed. We lost our little boy. At that point we had another choice to make. We could huddle our little family of four close and retreat in our hurt. Or we could continue to share this life with others.

Those people we let into our lives, they were hurting too. Our community that rejoiced with us and loved our little boy, this affected them too. The people near and far, the people that held Beckett in their arms, and the ones that held him in their hearts, it touched all of us. Brian, Rebekah, Brooklyn, and Boston didn’t experience this hurt alone. So we chose to share the pain just like we shared the joy.

This month I have learned many lessons. Some were not new lessons, but reinforced truths. One thing I know is that this life is meant to be shared. We might have been able to survive Beckett’s life on our own, but I question whether we could have survived his death without our friends.

Choosing to share our lives is a choice we will make over and over again. And it’s a choice I would boldly tell you to make today.   I’m not suggesting you begin to post photos of all your meals and family outings on Facebook (though I won’t complain if you do). I’m suggesting you invite someone over for dinner tonight. Offer to babysit for a couple that could use some alone time. Take a new mom and her baby out for coffee. Stop to have a conversation with the neighbor you wave at in passing each day. I’m suggesting you take the first step to make a real connection.

This choice to share our lives—it is a choice that can leave us vulnerable to hurt and can end up quite messy. But it is also a choice that can bring us unbelievable hope and joy. It’s a choice that comes with a risk. But it’s a risk that I’m willing to take.

I look forward to continuing to share our life with you—the joy and the pain.



healthy family, Healthy Soul

Love the Moments You Have


At the beginning of 2016, Brian printed out a paper that said “Answered Prayers of 2016” and was full of blank lines. The 3rd thing written on that list was “We’re having a baby!” We learned the exciting news that we were pregnant with our 3rd child on the 11th of January 2016.

On the 4th of January 2017, we laid our sweet, healthy, 3 ½ month old baby boy, Beckett, down for a nap and he passed away in his sleep.

We went through a lifetime in one year. But it wasn’t just a birth and death that happened in that year, it was a deeper change in our family.

Around March I began a bible study with a friend that was centered on motherhood.  Through the Bible study, and through her influence, I began to fall more in love with my ministry of motherhood. I began to love and interact with my kids in a different way. Some ways were very subtle, but some ways were more extreme. I knew going into Beckett’s birth that I wanted to take a long period of time off from all other responsibilities and just focus on being his mom. And for the first 6 weeks of his life I did that. I focused on Brooklyn, Boston, and Beckett and I loved it. It was hard. Babies are hard work. I was continuously tired, was still learning what each of his cries meant, and seemed to be unable to put him down for more than 15 minutes during the day without him wanting held. But I knew what I was doing was important. And I cherished it.

It wasn’t just me that was making changes to prioritize our family this year. Brian bonded with Beckett quicker than our other two babies. Whether it was a change in Brian, Beckett’s personality, or quite simply just the grace of God- they were a great team from the start. As Beckett entered the smiling stage, it was his daddy that made his eyes light up and his smile shine. When he was fussy and we couldn’t figure out quite how to make him happy, it was his daddy’s arm and a little koala hold that would instantly calm him down.

Brooklyn loved her brother. She read to him from the time I was 20 weeks pregnant and told her the baby could hear sounds on the outside. Brooklyn’s heart and attitude have changed this past year and she has become sweeter, gentler, and more mature. She’s still a wild 6 year-old, I don’t want to paint any untrue perfect pictures here! But she loved her baby brother with a gentle, genuine love.

And then there is Boston! He had no idea the baby in mommy’s tummy was going to be real until he saw him at the hospital and immediately fell in love. His exact question was, “Where’d this Bucket come from?” And from that point on his brother was called “Bucket” and he thought he was so cute.

To say all of these things in the past tense seems unnatural. It seems unreal. It seems like it can’t be us. I feel numb. I feel intense emotion and hurt. No one knows what to say to us. We don’t know what to say to them. I want him back. I know the road ahead of us is long. I know we will have many different emotions and reactions along the way. I don’t know how I will handle every step of the journey, but right now I am choosing to be thankful.

We had close to 4 wonderful months with our little guy. We got to hold him and love him and create memories that will always be there. We are choosing to be thankful for those 4 months. We are choosing to believe that Beckett was a gift to our family. We loved that gift. We cherished him for the time we had him. I want my little boy back. I want him back so much. But I don’t want him back to do things differently. I want him back because I miss him.

I’m not saying I didn’t complain about the late nights or the lack of showers. I fell behind on housework, on recipe planning, on record keeping, on countless things and I felt like I was failing at times. I’m not saying we did everything right with Beckett at all. But I am saying we enjoyed him. I am saying we loved him well. And when I look back at his short time here, I am thankful for the priorities we chose.

I know our situation has brought out a lot of fear in other new moms and families. I understand and I think it’s natural. But if I could choose for you, I would say don’t let this bring you to fear. Let it bring you to LOVE. Love the moments you have, don’t fear the ones that are unknown.

That “Answered Prayer” list that Brian printed out at the beginning of the year, we went on to write 138 items on it. 2016 was a good year. It was a good year because we looked for the good. We looked for God at work and we saw Him. And 2017 is going to be a good year as well. I know this because I know my God. In the midst of my darkness, in the midst of my pain, He is there.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.  (Psalm 46:1-3,7)