March 18, 2015

I have Jesus, Part 2 (the days after we lost Grace)

This is Part 2 of my last post. I didn't mean to leave you hanging but I have such limited time during nap time to write and I also didn't want it to get too long. :)

Click here if you haven't read Part 1 yet.

In the days after we lost Grace I completely withdrew from almost everyone and everything. Social media. Friends. Face-to-face interactions. Grocery stores. Everything. I was terrified of people. Terrified of having to converse with people, of having to supply something they needed, whether it be comfort, encouraging words, anything. I had nothing to give.

I was both in awe of my sons, that they were living and mine, and terrified of them needing anything from me. I did zero parenting in those first days and weeks.

Family was really the only people coming over for the most part and I could only handle so much and then I would literally abruptly stand up and walk out in the middle of conversation and escape to our room where I would curl up on our bed and start the process of crying and surviving all over again.

(You may be wondering why I'm sharing such a behind-the-scenes look into grief. One, because I have a point, and two, I can only share this now. I could have never shared this before, it was still too raw and painful. It still is painful but less so; I feel more removed from that blistering first season of grief.)

This was just a few weeks after we lost her and my smile never reached my eyes in those days. It was hard to find joy.

But if there's one thing I had in those days, it was Jesus. And this is so difficult to explain because I can't handle it sounding so churchy but there's no other way to say it. I heard a Focus on the Family broadcast recently and the guest was explaining how difficult it is to explain God's kindness and nearness when you're walking through such painful times, that it's like describing a color nobody else has ever seen, and that completely resonated with me.

Because here's the thing. While I did cry and lament to Matt every single day, he alone wouldn't have ever been enough to bear my grief. Nobody saw the full extent of my grief. I knew almost immediately that nobody would be strong enough to bear it except Jesus. Even the best comforter, best husband, best mom, best friend, is not good enough or strong enough to alone hold you up.

Day after day I locked myself in our office and opened my Bible, desperate to meet with Jesus. I journaled constantly, unable to really speak my pain but able to write it. I was desperate to be anchored in truth. I needed to remind myself daily that I had his hope as an anchor for my soul. That my story and pain had eternal weight and that he was the same God he'd always been, he had never changed.

There is something powerful about meeting with God in the secret, something so precious, so intrinsically valuable. It grieves my heart when I hear people describe having to spend time with God, having to get it done, get it checked off. He's so rich and so wise and so full of depth and mystery, there's no end to discovering him!

When you have Jesus, when you really have him, when you walk with him in the secret, anchored in his Word day after day, it solves about a million other things at once. Not to mean that it solves you of your sinful nature and the battle between the flesh and the spirit, just this morning I yelled at my son in our rush and my frustration and had to repent to him, but it solves so many of our counterfeit life-finding attempts.

There's this woman I know and I really, really (really) look up to her. She's godly, she's wise, she is who she is without pretense (my favorite type), she speaks truth and doesn't put on a churchy face. I just really, really like her. And recently I found myself wanting to impress her. I wanted to "drop" a comment about what I'd been learning in my devotional times and I wanted her to think it sounded wise. (Right?? What the?)

And while I regularly have to repent of doing something out of pride or with impure motives, this time I was able to remind myself: I don't have to do that. I have Jesus. Our meeting time is a treasure and so rich and something to be prized in my heart, not diminished by trying to prove myself. 

On another occasion recently I was introduced to a new friend. She's beautiful and confident and in my younger, immature days I would have been tempted to find something disagreeable about her so I felt better about being less pretty than her. (Seriously, the thoughts.) But I was able to remind myself that I have Jesus. I have my place in him, the Creator of so much beauty and wisdom and light and goodness, and I need never have to compete or prove or fault-find. And it frees me up to rejoice in others' beauty and gifts and abilities, especially if I don't possess them. I can speak face to face and rejoice in my heart for them, be intentional to speak encouraging words to them.

Because I have Jesus.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, when life is great and when it feels like a crapshoot, when others receive and I didn't, when I receive and others didn't, when I'm understood or not, when people assume and they're wrong, or maybe they're right, at the end of the day, I have Jesus.

And he's just so much better than every other counterfeit treasure. He can withstand the storms of grief. He can withstand the insecure heart. He can withstand the fears that form into anger. And only he can withstand them. Not even the best person in the whole world (and believe me, I know some quality ones) can bear up under the weight of our hearts and minds and souls and all that they bring to life.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." 
Psalm 34:8

Taste. See for yourself. He is good. And he is a refuge.

And if you need proof that Matt is one of those quality ones, these pictures from last night are it. Let me preface them by giving you some context.

The boys: Mom, can we help you paint?

Me: No.

The boys: Dad, can we help you paint?

Matt: Sure thing, I need some help right here. Great job, guys!

Hashtag he's definitely the better parent.

And one more for good measure.

March 16, 2015

I Have Jesus (the days leading up to the day we lost Grace)

Wow, it's been awhile. I haven't had a huge desire to write, though I do have about half a dozen posts half-written in my head. This is one though that compels me to put pen to paper. Sometimes I have the strongest compulsion to write a post and not to would be disobedient. So here we are.

I've traveled quite extensively out of the country and though I don't fear flying and I don't fear traveling alone, I hate flying alone. (Is that possible?)

I hate it for how lonely it is. The layovers, the flights themselves (especially the long international ones), the arrivals, the people-watching. It all exacerbates this feeling of being truly alone amidst so many people.

One time in particular in college I was on my way to visit my friend in France for Thanksgiving break. Being Thanksgiving it was the height of travel time for approximately 5 billion people.

Same trip but we went on an overnight to Geneva, Switzerland. 

Annecy, France. If you want to live in a magical place, this is it.
You know I visited one of these chocolate stores everyday. 

Oh yes I did.

The French Alps. Unbelievably beautiful.

Taking the train to Switzerland. This was actually a very sad time in my life as my college boyfriend and I had just broken up. I think this picture showed a glimpse behind the scenes of my normally extroverted self.

Sonia, my friend I was visiting, lived just down the road from where I'm standing here. NBD.

I had a layover in Minneapolis (the former airline employee in me ((<- I worked for two major airlines for 5 years)) desperately wanted to write MSP) and while waiting for my flight I suddenly had this intensely strong feeling of stark, raving loneliness come over me. It was so sudden and so strong it felt like it physically cloaked me.

And almost immediately following that feeling I had this equally strong thought: I'm not alone. I have Jesus. I'm never alone.

I had to share that first because that phrase, I have Jesus, came to me so strongly again yesterday as I reflected on those first days and weeks of losing Grace that I knew I needed to write about it.

I haven't talked about her much recently and part of it is because it's hidden down deep in my heart, only between the Lord and I. I think about her constantly but different than before. Before I thought about her in her loss. Now I think about her in what we're losing. (It's hard work conveying such deeply-held feelings into words so I'm not sure if this is making complete sense.) Before, it was her physical loss. We held and loved her for hours. My body physically lost her. She went from the safety of my belly to complete and utter emptiness with no evidence that I had carried her. I ached for her constantly.

Now, I think about what we're losing today. She would be almost two years old and I don't know if you've had the privilege of being around an almost-two year old recently but they're about the cutest thing you've ever seen. They're unsteady on their feet and speak incoherently but just coherently enough that your heart can't stretch wide enough to capture its sweetness. And if she was anything like our boys, she would be roly-poly with thighs that looked like they were strangling her diaper, and she would have a very deep attachment to Matt and I.

So I think less about the sudden loss of then and more about what we're missing now and it's just too painful to casually speak about, so most of the time I avoid the conversation.

But I want to talk about her today because I think Jesus wants someone to hear this.

One of the extremely difficult things about receiving a poor diagnosis and prognosis while pregnant is that you have lots and lots of time to imagine your worst fear becoming true. Many pregnant women fear losing their baby but I not only had that fear but a high probability of it happening. In fact, in that final week before we went in for that last ultrasound at 30 weeks I had, up to that point, never been so undone in my entire life. I felt like I was losing my mind to fear and subsequently, anger.

The day before that last ultrasound I was so completely undone with pain and the fear of impending loss that I literally packed my sons up and drove to another town 45 minutes away because I felt like I had to escape my life. I really did. It makes me well up even now thinking about how desperate I was. I sat on a swing at a park with my sons and I couldn't stop the tears that flowed constantly that entire day because while I was in another town and was able to respond to the questioning passers-by with a soft, It's a girl, I hadn't escaped my reality at all. The fear and pain and anger followed me and cloaked me in the same way that feeling of loneliness had so many years previous in that airport.

I was angry with God, why He didn't heal. Why he had prepared my heart to lose her. It would be such a small thing for him. Please, God, hear us, heal her!

That evening, back in our home after a severe time of wrestling and tears and anger I finally, truly, yielded her life and my desires to God. It was a profound moment for me (and a story in itself) and a turning point in my faith. I chose to love him and trust him more than I wanted the deepest desire of my heart, the physical healing of my only daughter. I felt her kick one final time that night and the next morning when I woke up, I knew in my heart. She was gone.

Baby Grace in my belly.

Big brother love.

The pain I had felt the day before was nothing compared to what was coming.

But I had Jesus.

Part 2 to come.

December 28, 2014

When friendships are tough and you feel like an outsider

I was in 5th grade. Their names were Danielle and Jessica and it was recess. The three of us were standing there doing what 5th grade girls do (which is mostly giggle and talk about....I'm not sure exactly what we talked about) when suddenly the two of them looked at each other, exchanged a secret eye signal, and then ran away from me as fast as they could. I stood there for a moment confused, not sure exactly what had just happened. Thinking they were just being silly I ran after them and caught up to them and we immediately commenced our gaggle and giggles.

But just a few moments later they did it again. And this time it hit me. They were doing it on purpose.  They were purposefully running away from me, leaving me behind. They didn't want me to be their friend or a part of their circle (literally and figuratively) so they worked out a secret signal to exclude me.

Not long after that I went back to the playground and monkey bars and found the pin (the small, circular button kind that pin to your shirt) I had given them that day as a token of friendship smashed on the ground.

(It was a mullet Billy Ray Cyrus one no less. The nerve.)

Every word of this story is true. And every feeling of bereft-ness and leftout-ness and awkwardness and embarrassment that I felt then can still be conjured up today at just the memory of that experience.

And while that's sad and makes me want to lock my sons away in our house forever to spare them the cruelty of others, the sadder thing is that I'm 31 years old and I still see these same kinds of things happening, and between women especially. And I see it just as much within the Church as without.

(I know I've written some strong words towards the Church recently but it's because I know we can do better. I know that Jesus' words are truth and if we act on them, we'll actually be marked by knowing and loving him and loving others and it'll be evident at all times to all people, not just when we get our Church face on.)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one anotherJohn 13:35

I see pictures season after season of the same groups of people doing the same things with the same groups of people and do you know what my thought was recently when I saw yet another one (not that many people care that much about my opinion but I'll share it anyways)? Where are the new people? Where are the poor? Where are the minorities? 

Why aren't we regularly immersed with the "least" and the "outcasts"? Why are our small groups and church groups and social clubs made up of the same people year after year?

The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters (the hungry, thirsty, stranger, homeless, sick, prisoner) of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40

Lately, I've battled feelings of loneliness and those feelings of being on the outside looking in, those same feelings of being left out that I had on the playground in 5th grade.

And as the Lord has continued to break our hearts for the "least" and convicted and compelled us to act in love by opening our home and family, giving not just money (which I really think is easier) but our time and attention to those who don't know him or those that society considers to be the bottom, to intentionally share the Gospel and disciple others, these feelings of relational loneliness have gotten stronger.

While our spirits have been the most refreshed they've been in a long while and while our walk with the Lord has gotten deeper and stronger, we've battled loneliness more than ever.

I have a friend. (Yes, I do, thank you very much.)

I have a friend named Courtney. I've written about her before. And that's mostly because she's had such a profound impact on my life. This girl loves Jesus and people so much. And not in a warm and fuzzy way (though there's that too) but in a gives-her-life-away-on-behalf-of-others sort of way.

That's Courtney.

One of the things I love the most about Courtney is that she resists the cliques and clubs and innies, at the expense of her own feelings of belonging. She's more interested in making space in her life for the hurting and the lonely and the newbie than she is for making sure she gets her coffee date every week with her familiar friends.

Yesterday we got to hang out for the first time in a long while and we got to talking about all these things and discovered we'd been feeling the same way, battling those same feelings of loneliness and leftout-ness.

But here's the thing. And this is what I believe Jesus has been teaching us both. There's a cost to following him. And it's not going to cost everyone the same thing in every season. Just like he didn't ask everyone he encountered to sell everything they had and give it to the poor. He's a personal God and he calls us personally and while that call looks differently for everyone, there's going to be some common ground like sacrifice, perseverance, hardship, etc.

And the sacrifice in one season for you might be different than the sacrifice in another. In one season the cost might be giving still even though you have more month than money, as the wise ones like to say. In another, it might be those expensive coffee drinks to meet a real need, or downsizing your lifestyle, or giving up the familiarity of the same small group you've always known to invite new people in, or your sense of control and personal bubble to disciple someone else, or your clean floors and house to invite new families in, and on and on it goes. There is no one size fits all.

Except that if we're truly loving God in word AND in deed, it will cost us something.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1st John 3:18

And for us right now in this season, with little spare time, that cost has been the safe comfort of a familiar friendship. Time together is scarce. But would we really trade the encounters with the poor and unbelievers and lonely just so we could have our coffee time? It's a harder road, yes, but the eternal rewards are so much more worth it.

These are the verses that Jesus brought to mind as I lamented this new season and some of the difficult things that have come with it.

Then Peter spoke up, "We have left everything to follow you!" "Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life." Luke 18:29-30

We can't control how much other people include us or how they make us feel. But we can control how much we include others and how we make them feel. Let's think about the way we make people feel, either intentionally or unintentionally, and like I tell our boys all the time, I want you to show love to your brother/friends/mom/dad.

Let's not be the Jessica or Danielle of 5th grade. Let's show love. Tangibly, sacrificially, inclusively.

November 13, 2014


But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1st John 1:7.

I'm going there. I'm doing it. I've had too many "coincidental" conversations and situations recently that have become the straw that broke my back.

I grew up in a church culture of secrecy.

What do I mean by that? I mean that when someone was caught in sin, everyone else was outwardly horrified (though probably inwardly relieved it wasn't them) and that person was gossiped about (i.e. prayed for) for a long time to come.

The pastor caught in pornography. The married man caught kissing someone else. The married man leaving his family for someone else. The girl with multiple partners. The prescription pain pill addiction. The movie watching (remember, we weren't supposed to own TVs or watch movies?). The pot smoking. So many examples I could use. And so many more stories that I know I barely know the inkling of.

But none of these things were ever talked about in an open, constructive, edifying, safe way. Not from the pastors, not from the ministry leaders, not from the families. I never one time participated in a safe discussion about any of these kinds of things.

You struggle with pornography? You better hope nobody ever finds out about that or you'll be "kicked out of ministry."

You throw your food up when nobody's looking or starve yourself? You better hope nobody ever finds out because "Christians don't struggle with those things."

Everything was an either/or situation. Either you don't struggle or you struggle but you keep it a secret so you're not punished or shamed.

Perfection or secrecy.

Not too long ago I was listening to a pastor on the radio who was speaking on the air with his wife about marriage. And she said something to the effect of, "I know this may be surprising but _______ and I have our moments of disagreement."

You know what ticked me right off about that? Why is that surprising? Why would it surprise us that two sinful people married to one another would have a disagreement? Do we really actually think that once you become a pastor or ministry staff person that you leave your sinful nature at the door? Of course you still have disagreements! I can't remember the last alive person I met that had finally reached perfection.

But what makes me really sad about all of this is that at the end of our secrets, Satan wins.

We don't get the perfect family, we don't get the perfect body, marriage, kids, ministry, life, we hoped we were presenting; we just get a lot of hypocrisy and double-living and secrets upon secrets and ultimately, either relational shallowness or relational dysfunction. Because you can't have safe and open and deep relationship with someone who's keeping secrets.

Recently, someone confided in me (and I have her permission to share this; I would never write about someone without their express permission) a very real struggle she has had for years. She had alluded for months that she wanted to talk about it but could never bring herself to share. Finally, one day I oh-so-gently pressed and it ever-so-slowly came out. And honestly? Honestly, all I could do was cry. I just told her over and over again through my tears, I'm just so sorry. I'm so sorry that you've carried this alone for so long and that you felt ashamed about it. I'm so sorry that you felt like that would change the way I would see you. I love who you are. That doesn't change anything about how I feel about you. I'm so sorry.

And I am so sorry. I'm so sorry that so many followers of Christ live in secrecy and darkness because they're terrified of being found out. But being found out about what? That Jesus is still transforming and refining them? That they aren't perfect?

And I'm not talking about license. I don't mean people who claim "freedom" as a means to continue in their sin. Because that person is still a slave to whatever that thing is.

I'm talking about freedom from shame and fear because we're not There yet.

I started Galatians this morning in my Bible reading plan. "Coincidentally" Galatians is chocked full of freedom, freedom, freedom.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

You did not turn to Christ by faith and receive a new nature and Spirit only to continue trying really hard to get it right and live in fear of people finding out you're actually not perfect. And you still struggle with stuff.

That first moment of saving grace that Christ poured out on you when you turned to him in faith, receiving his mercy, was just the beginning. The Gospel doesn't stop there. The gospel continues to be good news to us. I have to remind myself of the gospel on a weekly basis.

It's good news that when I snapped and yelled at my sons yesterday that I'm not a slave to my failure and subsequent shame, that repentance and forgiveness are mine. Jesus, I'm sorry for giving vent to my anger. Your word says that fools do that and I'm sorry for being a fool and hurting my sons' hearts. And then I sit my sons down and look them in their eyes and in complete sincerity and godly sorrow I ask their forgiveness, Boys, I'm sorry I exploded in anger towards you. That was wrong. I got stressed and I took it out on you and that was wrong of me to do that. Did I hurt your hearts? I'm sorry I hurt your hearts. Do you forgive me? And then lots of hugs and kisses.

If the Good News is not true then the bad news is: I'm stuck. I have nowhere to turn except resignation and despair. And trying reeeeally hard.

It's not by my good works. It's not by your good works. It's faith and repentance and grace and mercy and forgiveness. Jesus, you love me. You always love me. I'm covered in your mercy. Your grace. I'm forgiven. 

And that compels me to love him more. To turn away from sin and towards Jesus. Do I get it perfect? No. Absolutely not. But then I remind myself of the good news.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1st John 1:9

You need not be ashamed that you still struggle. You need not let Satan enslave you to your secrets in a dark place where nobody wins, especially not you. You need not fear that others will know you're not perfect. You're not and we already know. Because we're not either.

The Good News is really, really good news.

(And because I can't not leave you with a few pictures of my favorite boys and I didn't do a Halloween are Mister Fox, Chubby Raccoon, and my handsome fighter jet pilot.)

October 20, 2014

When I was Wrong

I'm just going to start writing and see the form this post takes.

Something bothered me about my last post but I couldn't quite totally put my finger on it. I kept asking God, What is it? Please give me your wisdom and discernment. If I said anything wrong, please show me, I want to correct it. Why don't I have peace? What is it??

And I think after prayer and time in the Word and a timely conversation with a friend and a couple sermons, it came down to two things:

1) I love the Church. I do. But have you ever read something that created contempt in you towards something or someone? I'm trying to think of something specific... Like if you read a very anti-fill-in-the-blank post or opinion or comment or status you come away with this contempt and disgust towards that specific topic/person/party/subject? I think my last post, however inadvertently and unintended, had a high likelihood of creating contempt towards preaching and pastors and the Church in America.

Don't get me wrong. There's a place for sound judgment, and that's Biblical. But I think when we exercise Biblical judgment it should be specific and have strong Biblical grounds. But if we just make blanket statements towards something overall, it paints the entire picture in a negative light, when in reality there are a lot of people in the body of Christ in America who love Jesus and his Word and are seeking to follow him as best as they know how.

With that said, I shouldn't have generally targeted topical teaching or the Church overall in America. Because while I'm inside my head and know exactly what I mean, nobody else is and so you only hear what I write and not all the inner dialogue that accompanies it.

So to clarify: what do I even mean about a small God and what did topical teaching or the Church in American have to do with my statement?

I'm going to use an illustration Matt uses that I think is so wise and helps us easily understand. If I don't eat anything all week and then Sunday morning comes along and I finally eat something, I'm going to scarf it down because I'm starving. But I'm going to be starving again in a few hours because my body is malnourished but that's too bad because my next meal isn't for seven more days. Well, to add to that, what if the meal I had was just a hotel-type breakfast buffet? Very light, non-substantive food. That adds to an already serious problem.

Unfortunately, I think that's what can often happen in many believers' walk with God. We don't seek God or read his Word or talk with him at all during the week and then Sunday comes along and we try to spiritually stuff ourselves, hoping it'll last but most often it doesn't and then we start the week off again in that same pattern and it doesn't take long before we're spiritually malnourished. Well, what if we add to an already serious problem and the only spiritual food we get on Sunday is light and fluffy and non-substantive? It doesn't teach or equip us how to know and walk with God ourselves, which is very, very Biblical and is actually what shepherds in the New Testament are encouraged to do: equip believers into maturity in their faith and knowing Christ.

This is a downwards spiral that is very likely to lead us into all sorts of unBiblical thinking, like: something bad happened to me, God doesn't love me; I don't feel God so he must not love me or be near to me; I don't feel like reading his Word so I won't; I'm not equipped to talk about God or share Jesus with others so I won't; I'm afraid what people will think of me when I pray so I don't, and on and on.

The only way those types of beliefs (and many others) about God are confronted and grown is in light of the truth of Scripture and growing in the knowledge of Christ, both through his Word and in communing with him. If we're not doing these things, we easily develop a small or inaccurate view of God.

It's always awkward when you're first getting to know someone; it takes time and intentionality and purposefulness to get to a place of familiarity and deeper trust and I think the same is often true of God as we pursue knowing him and getting to a place of trust and loving him and stepping out in faith (which gets deeper and deeper the longer we pursue him and walk with him).

Which I think lends to a bigger and more accurate view of God, a big God if you will. Does it take tragedy to become discontent with shallow belief and a desire to know him more? No, absolutely not. It takes a starting place. For me, it happened in college. I grew up in a legalistic church where knowing God equated trying not to do bad things (like have a TV in your home) and trying really hard to do good things (like be at every church event). Both of those were outward things and hardly indicative of a truly transformed heart. I can't remember one time hearing that Jesus transforms us from the inside out and gives us his Holy Spirit to do what we can't do in our natural selves, however well-intentioned we may be; like Ravi Zacharias has so perfectly said, The Holy Spirit doesn't just change what we do, he changes what we want to do. Boom. Yes.

Our desires change. And when we sin, it grieves us. And when we've gone several days without spending any time with him, we feel it. When I said that for me it started in college, this is what it looked like: I had a woman (hi, Laura!) start meeting with me every week and for the first time I was actually being equipped and taught to study the Bible for myself and talk to Jesus normally and without fanciful words and invoking a passionate voice (anyone relate? or was that just me?). But the number one thing I started doing was to simply ask Jesus for what I lacked (and it's a discipline I do to this very day): Lord, would you give me a desire to read your word? Would you give me a desire to meet with you? Would you fill me with hunger and passion to know you and your Word? Would you stir the affections of my heart to love you and to love what you love?

I asked and I still ask. I began to be gut-honest with him about where I was at and my lack of desire. And that continues to this day. I've become more and more gut-honest with him through the years, particularly after the last almost-two years.

Does this all make sense? I feel like I'm rambling.

So, reigning it in. I shouldn't have made such general statements about the Church in America because we can get wisdom and grow from topical or less-inductive sermons. It just can't be our only spiritual food. It has to be coupled with knowing and loving Jesus for ourselves or we'll be ill-equipped for anything other than good tidings.

And (and I promise this is it),

2) This one is brief. I strongly recommended reading, Rare Bird, and I still do but just keep in mind that it's a memoir so it shouldn't be read as a prescriptive book on grief, but rather a descriptive book on one woman's journey of grief. That means I would recommend using discernment on a couple things mentioned in there. Overall, a great book though.

Ok, whew, what are your thoughts? Can you relate? Any stories of your own?

And a couple pictures to make up for my rambling...

(These are oldies but goodies.)

Blankie marks on Asher's face, he's woken up like that since he was about a month old!