Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

What We Wonder August 30, 2017

Filed under: Motherhood,Uncategorized — dayna @ 11:50 pm

He was doing his usual investigations. Under a huge patio umbrella outside a fast food place, eyes big and thinking out loud. “So… you turn this handle around and around and that makes the rods push up and out and the umbrella goes up…” Pleased with himself, he pauses for moment.

“He always wonders about how things work” the oldest muses. “He has to figure it all out and understand why and how things do what they do… Is there something wrong with me that I don’t wonder about that? I mean, I’m not that curious about how things work. I’m just glad that they do,” she finishes simply.

I smile and reassure her. “Not at all, honey. He does wonder about that all the time though, hunh? You’re probably curious about other things.”

“Yeah.” She agrees with her honest confidence. The four of us meander across the parking lot and load up in our van.

“I guess we all wonder about different sorts of things. What do you wonder about?” I continue. Turning onto an unfamiliar street, I’m faced with a large hill off the side of the road. “For example, I wonder where does that street go? What’s up that hill? Can we get to it? How would we get up it?”

“Let’s climb up it!” he suggests excitedly. With nowhere we really need to be, I point the van in the direction of the large empty hill oddly on the outskirts of town.

My oldest continues our easy dialogue as we go. “Well,  I guess I wonder about people. Like when I see someone walking or in their car going somewhere, I wonder where they are going and what their story is. I wonder about their life and the people they know. Or if I see a wall or a gate, I wonder what’s behind it. What’s happening there?”

I’m smiling a bit to myself as the van winds and ascends. Treasuring in my heart the simple self-awareness of this writer-girl.

My little-middle girl pipes up. “I wonder if things are true. I wonder what’s real or not. Like in stories, and legends or things we hear about. I want to know what is true.”

Dazzled, my breath catches a bit. I’m in awe of them and us and the things we talk about.

“That’s true isn’t it, Jo? You do seem to seek what is real and true.” I see her matter-of-fact expression in the rearview mirror as my heart swells gratefully.

We go to that hill, pull to the side of the road and start to head up it on foot.

We discover, as is so often the case, that while from far away it looked green and soft, underfoot it’s rocky and covered in high, sharp weeds. There’s no visible trail and we don’t have the right shoes this night.

After a few minutes of exploring, we add the climb to the list for another day and load back up.

The gentle conversation about “wonderings” resumes and my heart is bursting full- of who they are and what they think.  The profound gleams in the midst of all the ordinary.



Near January 2, 2013

Filed under: Milestones,Motherhood — dayna @ 11:55 pm

These pictures were taken a little more than a month ago, and already you’ve changed so much.

Now, I can see your personality emerging with the crinkling of your nose, each gummy smile, and every breathy coo. My sweet son, you’re growing faster than even I could have imagined, and there are so many things about right now that I never want to forget…

The perfect way your bottom fits into the crook of my elbow as we go about our day. I can still balance you, head tucked under my chin, when I need to use both hands in the kitchen or to help a little girl.

The downy softness of your hair, (all that hair!), against my cheek and nose as I nuzzle it like a proud mama-dog.

Your breath still smelling of the purest, freshest air. Heaven’s own air, it seems.

Your tiny fist always clutching my hair, my shirt, or a strap when I draw you close.

That contented shudder-sigh as you settle into the sweet rhthym of a precious feeding session.

And then your milk-drunk collapse across my lap with your warm belly impossibly full.

Or the weight of you on my chest and shoulder as we sway in the recliner- together drifting in and out of sleep.

I can’t get enough of this memorizing of details, of holding you near and breathing you in. Because I know, son, that we will never be physically closer than we are right now. That for the rest of your life, I will be gradually letting you go…

You are two months, my boy, and I love you so, so much.

*Photo credit to (the talented and patient) Pepper Wooters of Zeebug Photography.


So here we are… December 19, 2012

Filed under: Faith,Motherhood — dayna @ 12:00 am

It’s not very often these days that I’m relatively alone. My little threesome and I are a wolfpack of sorts. Ok: a messy, chirpy, sparkly wolfpack. But pretty much always together.

A few weeks ago though, it was only the babe and me in the minivan. I’m driving to shake my postpartum self at a “Zumba-thon” to raise funds and support for a former co-worker fighting the battle of his life. And I’m wondering (almost aloud), if each of my family members knows just exactly how I feel about them…

On the rare occasion that I am semi-alone, I almost always find myself with the same urgency. Feeling a gnawing that my daughters may be unaware of what it is that I adore about them right now. That my husband might not know exactly why he is still the man I choose to be in love with until my dying day. That this little baby wouldn’t know that I already see glimpses of his personality and cherish him well beyond his weeks.

And my thoughts wander to my friend Heather who lost her mother at a very young age and to my friend Amanda whose mom passed away when she was a teen. Were these women (who are now incredible mothers themselves) certain with every bit of their soul just how glorious their mothers already knew they were?

I want my crew to know. To know that I see them. And that they are spectacular.

And I ask: if something happened right now, would my life, my words, resonate with them in a loving way? Would they know exactly what they mean to me? How special they are?

I wretch out a nauseous gut cry as I mentally answer. Of course, they couldn’t! Not with the way I act most of the time these days. With all the snapping and the shortness and the griping. With the tired sighs and continuous correcting.

Yes, I do need to behave better. But I also know I need to write it down. To write to them. Perhaps a letter to each, I think. I resolve on the drive.

And then that Friday happens.

Suddenly we’re all reeling. Mouths gaping at the evil. Breath taken at the heroism. Hearts breaking at the emptiness…

The next day I go to a small local production of the Nutcracker with my kids. I catch myself quietly sobbing at the precious multitude of gumdrops and baby mice. Because across the country, there is undoubtedly a production of the Nutcracker that is missing some gumdrops. Or baby mice. Or ginger children.

I know many of my mama friends are feeling it too. The weight of the privilege of this time with our ones. And we’re all hugging our kindergarteners and 1st graders especially tight.

Later that night, my husband and I are watching news coverage and speaking in hushed tones. We’re shaking our heads and looking at each other wide-eyed.

“Can you imagine?” he says. “Coming home without her…?” His voice trails off as I squeeze my eyes shut hard and hang my head.

And I gulp because I do. Imagine it. More often than any healthy person should. Occupational hazard, I guess. Sadly, I know many of my co-workers and I do occasionally imagine the scape of our homes without our little ones. Right now we’re all picturing life without these insightful, creative, goofy school age kids. I feel sick when I imagine the very sound of my home without her constant singing and narrating all-the-time…

Or I shudder at the possibility of even having to talk honestly to my sensitive girl about what she witnessed happen to her friends, or to her teacher.

Then I tell my husband about the preacher from Colorado that I saw being interviewed on television earlier. The one that was really telling it. Talking about a fallen world and evil and how God is still with us, in and through it all.

And suddenly we’re having church up in our living room. We’re talking of mourning and comfort. We’re looking up verses like 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. We’re wondering how to best be the very hands of God and offer some peace in the midst of crisis and disaster.

Then the baby really gets going. And so I’m up pacing with him.

But still there is that gnawing, that urging, that knowing that I’m supposed to be living a life obedient. Supposed to write some stuff down. Supposed to be prepared.

As the babe and I shuffle, I’m humming the tune “Better than a Hallejuh” and thinking of those precious lyrics: “God loves a lullaby in a mother’s tears in the dead of night better than a hallelujah sometimes… We pour out our miseries. God just hears a melody. Beautiful, the mess we are. The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah.”

I’m praying as I stride thinking “Please Lord, don’t let me forget. Help me to say what you would have me say.”

Because it’s really hard to write when you pace the tile floors, shoulder covered in spit up, and arms full of colicky baby.

But I’m thankful… because my arms are so full.


Nearly wordless February 1, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Sometimes, I can scarcely say…

… they take my breath away.


the crux January 21, 2012

Filed under: Better life,Faith,Motherhood — dayna @ 12:00 pm

*This post was originally scheduled for the day my father-in-law passed away. When he died so suddenly, I pulled it, uncertain of the timing. In the days to come though, we’ve had many frank discussions with our little girls. Somehow, these conversations I managed to scribble down a few weeks prior seemed to give comfort and provide a starting point for the topics to come…


She’d been talking crosses all day.

Right after we settled the tiny one down for a nap, we were in the middle of picking up the house. I scurried about in anticipation of friends dropping by to exchange belated Christmas gifts.

“But, how did they keep him on the cross, Mommy?” She asks abruptly, as if we were mid-discussion.

Not sure I heard her correctly, I turn to meet her eyes. “What, hon?”

“How did they put Jesus on the cross, Mommy?” she continues insistently.

I’m close to her now. Hands on her shoulders, I drop to my knees to be level. I draw in my breath, buying time with a stumbling, “You really want to know, babe? It’s tough…”

She nods.

I know that this kid, as much as any I have ever met, needs deserves honesty. It’s just the extent of the detail that sometimes wants tempering…

“Well… they nailed him there,” I answer quietly. Her brow furrows, perplexed.

“Big nails…” I gulp to explain. Her eyes are wide.

I feel my face twist a bit. And my tears wanting to stream.

“And it must’ve hurt really bad. But he wanted to do it. He came to do it… You know why?”

“Why?” Earnestly curious.

“Because he loved us so much. He loved you so much. He loved me that much. So, he was willing… so we could be rescued!” (We love that word around here).


Later that night, as we lay in her bed ready for prayers, being mauled by the clambering two-year old, she continues…

“Which one did he die on?”

“What do you mean?”

“Which cross?! All those ones we see when we drive…which one was his?”

Suddenly, I understand. This girl who watches so intently out the mini-van window as the world goes by…thinks she may have been seeing Jesus’ very own cross in every road side memorial! In the little shrines so present in our town that I almost don’t notice them anymore.

I explain that those smaller crosses are markers in memory of other people who have died- perhaps Christ-followers themselves.

Her questions come faster now. I find myself being urged to explain the three crosses on “that page in her Jesus Storybook Bible,” and realizing with shock that she thinks everyone’s life ends on a cross. Her logical pre-schooler questioning continues on into an exploration of varied ways that people can die. Oh my.

Bedtime when you are four and your mind is electric!

And then…

“How do you get to heaven, Mommy?”

She’s a bloodhound sniffing out a trail. She’s pressing me. Certain that this whole cross thing is key.

Then I hear myself talking about telling God we’re sorry. Me. Straight reeking of sinful nature mere minutes after lashing out at my husband and babes in the exhausting “to bed” hustle.

Talking about messing up and forgiveness and about how Jesus is the only perfect. The only way to fix this mess.

To fix us.

“And we can pray and talk to God, right Mommy?” She beams, nodding, and then snuggles in close. Satisfied for a brief moment.

I’m slightly dumbfounded. Her wheels still turn.

Next: “But what were the legs of the manger made out of?” She’s obviously recalling the concrete-stucco trough our pastor produced to show the kids at Christmas Eve service. She grills me for dimensions with her hands spacing, “How big was it? Was it this big? This big?”

I sigh and breathe an “I honestly don’t know, honey. Let’s talk about this more tomorrow, ok? It really is late.”

This year, the connection of the manger to the cross becomes just a little more clear.

We say prayers. Even the tiny two-year old settles, doing her own whispery listing of loved ones.

And the Almighty leans in close to hear their sweet voices lift…


garden girls December 7, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood,sisters — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Last month, when the weather was still unseasonably warm, we visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

We enjoy the local flavor and ambling feel of this converted home and its surrounding gardens.

The vibrant colors and regional vegetation lend distinct Tucson flair, while seasonal festivities such as Luminaria nights and Butterfly magic help make each visit unique.

Overall, it is an enchanting experience, especially when shared with sweet friends.

Note: this is not one Tucson’s most budget-friendly family excursions. You might want to bring your coupons, membership cards, and picnic lunches!


Blessings in the sickies October 29, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood — dayna @ 12:00 pm

For what has seemed like an eternity, (okay, maybe it’s been about a week), we’ve been swamped with the sick around here.

As it often does, it all started with a family wide round of good old-fashioned snot. It then progressed to a tummy bug in the little one before waging all out war in my big girl’s body. I’ve been watching with slow horror as my bouncy, robust almost four-year old wasted away to a gaunt ghost of a girl in a matter of days. Even I found myself shocked at how quickly the transformation occurred.

The last twenty-four hours at least, she is improving. Her recent rally seems to indicate that we have probably avoided a trip to the emergency room this time. Aren’t we always thankful for that?

Having a houseful of “blech” is tough though, I’ll admit. The laundry piles up even more endlessly than usual and simultaneous sickies can tear a mama’s heart to shreds. I found myself holding back hair, holding onto buckets, with the little one at my knee, arms outstretched pleading “Mommy, hold you!” (Oh, how I do love that she still mixes up those personal pronouns).

But somewhere in the midst of the mess, there are actually blessings to be found. Always with the lessons to be learned, right?

Here I go:

1. I am reminded that there is virtually nothing in my schedule that is non-negotiable. I was amazed that as busy as we usually keep, filling our days with fun activities, Bible studies, and friends, when the babies are sick, nothing matters more than their health. Priorities become very clear.

2.When we are homebound, I am delightfully reminded how much we like our little space in this world. We have a lovely, comfy, safe home that we can enjoy as much, if not more, than any other place to which we might dart about: doing, spending, experiencing. There are seemingly endless activities, books, and tasks that we can use to entertain ourselves right inside these four walls.

3. Even the grocery store trip planned earlier in the week was not really necessary! I’m reminded to be thankful for the relatively well-stocked pantry that enables me to putter around the kitchen trying to get creative in feeding myself and the little crew. I’m not going to lie; it was mostly broth and crackers, but still, there were endless options.

4. I am reminded to be thankful for modern medicine. Although I try to approach illness with a mostly natural approach, I find comfort in knowing that we are privileged to raise our girls in a country that rarely experiences fatalities due to dehydration or treatable illnesses. My heart aches to think of mothers in many parts of the world watching their babes waste away with inadequate nutrition or oral rehydration therapies. I feel blessed to know that, if need be, my children are mere minutes from life saving medical treatments.

5. Finally, I am blessed by all the holding. My generally snuggly girls become even more enamored with being held when they don’t feel well. I am reminded to cherish this holding. To listen to them breathe. To simply sit with them. While we read a book, sing, pray, or even watch t.v. together.  I am blessed to tend to these normally busy little people with achy bodies in need of soothing, hair that begs stroking, and backs that want rubbing. And it heals us all.

So you see, I definitely won’t miss the sick when it leaves our house, but I hope I don’t soon forget the reminders that it brings.

Update: thanks for all the great pumpkin patch recommendations! Sadly, we will probably have to wait until next year:(

But there are so many good options, we might just have to squeeze in two trips. Here’s to October 2012!


boogie shoes September 22, 2011

Filed under: Better life,Motherhood — dayna @ 2:30 pm

Our great room sees more than its fair share of mom-and-girls disco parties. We love to dance and jump around to a cheesy roller disco CD that includes KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes”. C’mon, you know the one…

“I wanna put on my my my…”

(Embarrassing reveal: don’t tell the big sister, but she used to belt out straight-faced that she wanted to put on her her her “booger shoes!” No, thank you.)

The other night, we were preparing for our summer schedule post-sunset stroll around the cul-de-sac. I had my hands full diapering the little one, and the big girl was desperate to help.

“Why don’t you get her a pair of shoes?” I suggested. She delights in playing stylist to a still tolerant baby sis.

She pulled out these puppies:

How fabulous are they?

She has been trying to get her sister into these for weeks. That is, ever since we found them on serious sidewalk-outside-the store kind of clearance at the Osh Kosh outlet…

…for less than two dollars.

What a whole lot of shiny for under two bucks!

But for some reason, Mommy has been resisting putting them on the babe. They just seemed too sparkly, too tacky, too “very special occasion”-ish.

But really, what special occasion does my not yet two-year old have going on? She isn’t going to prom, a grand opening, or even a wedding anytime soon.

So I relented.

And they fit perfectly. The little one grinned and announced “good!” as she hopped down.

They actually seemed super-comfy; just little ballet flats with bling.

She pranced the whole loop. (Even more than usual). And they lit up the night.

Oh, the things one can learn from an almost four-year old and an almost two-year old.

How many things do I have that never get used, worn, said, or experienced because I am waiting for just the right occasion.

Seriously, what am I waiting for?

Today is special.

Right now is so special…

…and utterly, completely deserving of boogie shoes and two dollar bling.

What are you saving for later? I hope now you’ll understand when I’m the one over here pushing swings in my wedding gown. 😉


unsuspecting rabbit September 7, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Consider yourself warned: If you insist on toddling around the house in fuzzy bunny ears, your “striving-to-maintain-a-sense-of-humor” mother may not be able to resist stealthily scotch-taping a cotton ball to your adorable oblivious behind.


little fears July 19, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Motherhood — dayna @ 1:00 am

Yesterday, we were females facing fears.

The little girls and I went to the community pool in the mid-morning. As a mom outnumbered, I kept them mostly in the shallow end. We waded, paddled, and floated as the clouds gathered. The sky became increasingly threatening and finally after a few impressive lightning flashes, we reluctantly packed up and headed home.

The torrential downpour hit as we drove the short two minutes home.  Unable to resist the monsoon “lakes” growing in our street and front yard, the big girl pulled on her  rain-boots and jumped with all her might. Not much cuter than a little girl in a swimsuit and galoshes, is there? :)The tiny one and I found ourselves joining her with glee.

Then there was the rinsing, drying, and snacking.

I snuggled the little one and tried to put her down for her nap. I slipped out of her door and headed to grab the video monitor to make sure she didn’t have one of her breath-holding spells. (I’ll elaborate on those fears someday, promise). As I passed by the living room, I noticed the front door swung wide open.

Where was the big sister?!

In spite of our builder’s idiotic placement of the dead-bolt right above the door handle, our 3.5 year old is usually so good about this. She knows to check before answering a knock or door bell. She knows that she is not supposed to open this door without permission. And yet there it was- open wide.

My breath escaped me as I ran to find her… in the front yard picking up mesquite beans. I think I uttered a “What are you doing?!”  as I scooped her up and set her inside the door. I thought my expression said it all as I told her I would be right back after I checked on the breath-holding baby.

I resettled the little one and returned to find my big girl clearly not grasping the gravity of what had just happened. I started lecturing, searching for something that would get her attention here. Suddenly, I thought of her forceful imagination.  I suggested “Let’s pretend something!” We re-enacted the scary (to-me) situation. She opened the door and strolled out, innocent as a little lamb.

Moments later I snatched her- a bad guy taking her far away from her family.

Her eyes were wide as I set her down, and her lower lip started to tremble as we talked about how scary this was and how much we all would miss each other. We embraced, cried, and theorized about doors, danger, and what else could happen. Both visibly shaken by the topics and tactics, we found comfort in our routine of story-reading while the little one napped.

Later that evening there was yet another fearful encounter. As we did our nightly lap around the cul-de-sac, I looked ahead to see a prancing foot about to step on an enormous hairy tarantula. Yup, these scary looking beasts really come out after a summer rain. They are huge and  supposedly harmless, but they seriously look like fake Halloween decorations- functional fangs and all. Of course I scream, grab the big girl (again) and turn, only to see the spider headed straight for the tiny one now sitting in the middle of a driveway! Tossing my surprised firstborn to the side, I scoop up the baby. The traumatized spider scuttles under a car. Two little bewildered faces stare up at their clearly crazy mama.

They never even saw the tarantula. Biology lesson missed.

We head back to the house, me cracking Little Miss Muffet jokes all the way in an attempt to reassure them that I am not completely off my rocker.

But later that night, the real fears set in. While the babies are tucked in bed, mommy fears creep. Sinister whispers of doubt and what-ifs.

Were we safe enough in the pool? And how about that breath-holding, oh the breath-holding…? Were my runaway stranger-danger tactics excessive? Cruel even? When she just “wanted to see if it had stopped raining, mommy!” Did I scare her too much? Was it too little? Did either (or both) of them feel tossed aside during the spider incident? Am I a worthy mom? On and on…

In the wee hours I mull. And speculate. And strategize on how to raise reasonable healthy humans. Little people who are safely obedient, but not afraid to experience the great big world.

And yes, we will be getting that security door sooner rather than later.

But there is no security door for their hearts. Or mine. We’re just doing the best we can. And learning as we go.

What to do with those fears?

Then I notice that it’s after midnight so I check my phone for the new “call” I have been getting daily lately. It started with the little Jesus Calling devotional book that seemed so on target each day. And then my friend found an app for that.

I click on the day 7/19 and there it is. He called it…

“Bring Me all your feelings, even the ones you wish you didn’t have…Blazing missiles of fear fly at you day and night… affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel…Do not hide from your fear or pretend it isn’t there… Bring your anxieties out into the Light of My Presence, where we can deal with them together. Concentrate on trusting Me, and fearfulness will gradually lose its foothold within you.”

There is freedom from fear.

“Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 12:2