My Birthday | A Post About Whimsy & My Mid-Thirties

I stood with my back to the counter in our kitchen. My husband, the young one that he is, held out his hands and said with glowing eyes and a wide, w i d e smile, “Laura! You are officially in your mid-thirties!(!!!!!!!!!!!)” My eyes rolled then just as they are now.

Friends, today I turn 34.

Sometimes I think it’s the fact that I cannot imagine myself being “old”, but the truth is, by all life-experience accounts, I’m excited for the growth in wisdom and experience that lies ahead. I’m excited to watch my children grow and to get to participate with them as they walk into the fullness of their creation. I’m excited to get to save for those bucket list moments like bringing our kids to the Black Hills, or getting to finally take that dream trek up the west coast with my 3 favorite people in tow. I’m excited for the day I’ll get to stay up and play games and eat popcorn until midnight with them, and for the mornings us parents can actually leisurely rise because the children are old enough to fend for themselves (and survive).

There’s a lot of really great things to look forward to, and that’s just a morsel of things pertaining to this little family of mine alone. I cannot wait for the friendships that will blossom in the years ahead, the new places we’ll call home one day, the sides of those we know and love that we will come to learn through shared meals and campsites and heartache.

Life is dang beautiful, and I’m putting another tick on the board of years I’ve gotten to experience it.

So what’s with the uneasiness in my belly about turning 34? If I know that I know that I would never trade the wisdom gained to go back a decade, then, what’s behind the resistance to welcome a new year with open arms?

I think it’s whimsy.

When I ask myself why, this is what I come up with. There’s this whimsy about youth—carefree and ready for all that life will hold. Teen years hold within them all of the potential for what you might become. What job you’ll have, where you’ll go to school. Twenties hold within them the excitement of truly entering adulthood. New jobs. New relationships. New homesteads. And for some, commitments that will carry them to the end of their lives. This was true for me and it was exciting, challenging, and beautiful.

But thirties. There’s this air of hunkering down; whether it’s because kids are growing older, or jobs are getting serious and you’re doing things like buying houses and cars that mean you have to keep that job and stay put because everything depends on it.

And hunkering down sounds like the antithesis of whimsy.

So here I sit, in that literal transition from one year to another, wishing I could bend the ear of that little girl who used to put on dance shows in the living room and run with arms flailing across the great big back yard clothed in nothing but a swimsuit and sheer joy. That little girl with big hazel eyes and a boyish haircut who’s favorite thing was using her imagination. Who wrote love letters to Devon Sawa and clung to boy bands like barnacles to a boat.

What would she tell me about today?

I think she’d say that 34 is a number and I actually have the choice to embrace as much whimsy as I’m willing to welcome. I can choose to hunker down and survive or I can choose to embrace each and every opportunity to live in the magic of the life God has given me.

I think she’d tell me to stop being so serious—that we could work on that together. I think she’d tell me to buy a pet bunny and invite it to tea (an activity she hosted often). I think she’d ask me all about the man she’d one day marry—do his eyes sparkle when he looks at us? What does it feel like when he holds our hand? Do we dance together in the kitchen when our favorite song comes on?

Then I think she’d want to know about the kids she always dreamed of—Who are they? Do they look like us? Do we paint with them and explore and have dance parties together? Do they like to dunk Oreos between their pointer and middle or are they sort that hold it with their thumb and pointer finger? Do they love playing grocery store as much as we do? What do their laughs sound like?

I’m so grateful for that girl—little Lulu. She’s a pretty special girl, and I find the older I get, the more I am trying to be like her. While I don’t have the slightest idea of what’s ahead of me in this, my 35th trip around the sun, one thing I do know—for all of my days, I will give Him praise, for He has given me this one, good thing: a life beyond my life, where the beauty of this one will collide with the perfection of the one to come, and I will fully, truly, live.

“As for me, I will wait for the Eternal, even though He feels absent, even though He has hidden His face from the family of Jacob. I will put all hope in Him You see, I and my children whom the Eternal One gave to me, we personify the promise.” -Isaiah 8:17

This verse is my 34. Assurance that the only hope I have is the one I have in my unfailing God, and the complete certainty of this one thing: this life and where He has taken me proves that I, Laura, personify the promise of God.

“The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me.
    The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to repair broken hearts,
And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison,
    “Be free from your imprisonment!”” -Isaiah 61:1

At 34, I am a receiver of good news, bound up, and set free. And fully released to take hold of all of the whimsy I can get my hands on. Hallelujah!

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ME! I’m grateful for all of the versions of myself that I have been over these 34 years. Leaning in and learning all that I can from what God has given me so far, knowing full well that what is to come will be sweet and beautiful and full of that heavenly magic that only God can bring.

fullsizeoutput_4679.jpg

Some Changes | A Post About Saying Yes and No

Hey there. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here with you. The reason is two-fold: 1. I am a chronic starter-stopper. I could stand to grow in the area of longevity. And 2. I’ve been distracted by my own life and yours. Well, maybe not yours specifically, but the lives of others in the world that I follow along with on social media.

But I’m changing some things.

C37C07D0-E70D-4922-ADFE-73C455036EFA.jpg

With these changes, I hope to be on here more—sharing the “little things” I’ve shared in days past on things like Instagram. Maybe these little things on here will become something meaningful to others, but I know they will prove meaningful to me and I hope one day to my children.

To answer the question I’m guessing you’re asking, the changes are as follows:

  • Eliminate social media and any other technological distraction in my life:

    • This is a really tough one because, for the last 7 or so years, I’ve been pouring out my life’s lessons, words to my children, and overall grumblings-turned-humble-pie over on Instagram. I’ve loved it. I’ve loved sharing both words and pictures of my life, because it is a really beautiful one, and finding commonality with so many other beautiful women of God. But what was once a place for me to share, has now become the place by which I seek to find where I measure in the world of all things. Am I popular? Am I liked? Am I valued? How do my talents measure up to others? What can I do to be better? These are all things I thought in middle school, high school, college, new churches, old churches, friend groups, life groups, jobs… basically everywhere. But add to those questions the boundary-less world of the internet and I’m a goner. The truth is, I don’t measure up in a lot of ways. But in my own life and for my own community—I’m exactly where I should be. I forget that when my eyes and heart are glued to that little screen filled with beautiful squares. So much that is so beautiful—but is that beauty intended for me? Or could it serve as a means for the enemy to rob me of joy in my surroundings.

    • Creating strict boundaries on tv watching is another hard step I am learning how to take. Whether it’s due to a childhood of television, or countless seasons where I’ve been without my husband and people like Jessica Day or Leslie Knope have become my best friends, I’ve grown to find some sort of comfort in television. With a humbling awareness of the place I’ve let this outlet take in my life, I’m stepping into what God is asking and learning to limit the time I spend in front of the tv.

  • Trying (and failing) to get rid of WiFi:

    • We set out to eliminate WiFi from our home all together, but one little afternoon of a cut connection quickly made us realize that about 75% of our movies (for both us and our demanding, adorable little children) are on iTunes. *way to go, Apple. Your sneaky plans have succeeded. So we reexamined our options and what would be the next best thing, and opted for a slower speed with a cheaper price, while setting strict boundaries on device usage. With slower speeds comes less accessibility and more frustration—and hopefully less of a draw to grab a device.

  • Saying “no” to some really good things:

    • There are some really wonderful things in my life, but I’m hearing and receiving the reality that they might not be the best things for me today. So in life and ministry I am learning what seasons are coming to an end and how to navigate the unknowns of majorly clearing my metaphorical plate.

It dawned on me some time ago that I’ve been on facebook for 14 years. That’s 14 years of my life chasing something, always. Acceptance, popularity, approval. While driving the other day I had a cute little slogan run through my mind that made me chuckle:


Instagram: leaving me feeling inadequate, insecure, and discontent for 7 years.


I’ve had to ask myself over and over in the recent days a question I will ask you, too, because the pull to give it all up and keep things status quo has been strong.

If God had written all the days of your life in His book before you ever took your first breath (Psalm 139), do you think He included in there this platform that would distract you from the gift of life being lived around you? Would He have included a source of discontentment that would shade your eyes from the blessing and love of God all around you?

The answer, to me, is a resounding NO! These are questions I’ve had to ask myself because for me, social media, tv, and overall distractedness has robbed me of years and moments I will never get back.

So I’m saying yes to slowing down and being present. I’m saying yes to building relationships with the people God has placed in my own community. I’m saying yes to these years with my children because, from what I hear, they are short. I’m saying yes because I trust that God holds all of my dreams and all of His plans and will, together, make for me a beautiful life.

We only live once and, by golly, I refuse to miss any more of it because of distraction.

I’m ready to be here, now.



Having said all of that, will you do something for me? If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post, will you sign-up for the email list below? I PROMISE they won’t come too frequently (🤗) and I don’t have any connections to anyone who wants your email

How's Your Sight? | Reflections from Luke 11

Whatever color you want to call them, if we’re not intentional and vigilant, we can throw these colored glasses on without even thinking twice. And this is where I want to talk about this thing that the Lord was so patient and purposeful in showing me, and in doing so reminding me that I have a choice in this.

“You need a light to see. Only an idiot would light a lamp and then put it beneath the floor or under a bucket. No, any intelligent person would put the lamp on a table so everyone who comes in the house can see. Listen, your eye, your outlook, the way you see is your lamp. If your way of seeing is functioning well, then your whole life will be enlightened. But if your way of seeing is darkened, then your life will be a dark, dark place. So be careful, people, because your light may be malfunctioning. If your outlook is good, then your whole life will be bright, with no shadowy corners, as when a radiant lamp brightens your home.” -Luke 11:33-36 | the Voice

Read more

Looking To The Right Or Left | A Blog on Worship & The People Around Us

“My friend, this is what we were designed for. We were made to worship, the only problem is that we often worship those around us more than we worship the One who made us. There’s so much talk about the worship of other things, but maybe we need to start talking about how many of us are worshipping one another?

Through comparison, through envy, through striving to keep up with the Joneses, we are in many ways worshipping each other and they ways we believe we can be satisfied through relationships.”

Read more

P E A C E & loss | A Blog for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

It passed without me realizing it, as it usually does. It’s been almost exactly 4 years since we went to that doctors appointment and saw nothing instead of something. I still remember the confusion on Thomas’ face… how do you understand everything and nothing all at the same time?

IMG_0125.jpg

I remember this girl above. Newly pregnant and so excited about the things to come. Sometimes I look at her and cringe a bit at the events that are about to unfold. If only she hadn’t gone on that road trip to Chicago. Maybe she wouldn’t have gotten that blood clot that might have caused her miscarriage. The thing with if only statements in that we see things one-sided. Had the events not unfolded as they did, would we have had our sweet Hazel? An answer I’ll never be able to find, but what I do know is that God works everything together for our good. And His. And He wanted Hazel to set her feet on the soil of this earth.

Then last year another loss, one unexpected in so many more ways than just the obvious. The pregnancy was a surprise; the loss left me utterly perplexed. What was it for, Lord? I guess we find those answers along the way, but we can’t let the answers be our destination. Our destination must always be closeness with Christ.


My grief has worn a lot of different shades over these last 4 years, and I imagine it will continue to change in the years to come. The mistake I’ve made is in thinking that I’ve finished grieving, or that I will one day. I’m thinking, today anyways, that if we ever got to a place where we were done grieving the things that cause us pain in this life, then we’d have no need for the peace of Christ.

I forgot I needed it for awhile.

Around Christmas time last year I went to a church service specifically for those grieving the loss of a loved one. I went for my grandma, and I realized not too far into it that I was really there for my babes. I was recognizing the places in me that had yet to accept their swift journey Home. Maybe this was the cause for the anxiety always on the rise inside of me?

My pregnancy with Hazel was full of depression and anxiety, which was odd because I felt the best I’ve ever felt when I carried Malachi. I didn’t know a person could become depressed during pregnancy, and unfortunately I had to learn that in real-time. And then that anxiety never really went away. Like my grief, it just sort of took on another shade, and I learned how to live amongst it. But it was always there, creeping up on me and doing a dang good job of sounding convincing.

Amidst a hurricane of anxiety and fear this week, the Lord kindly called my attention to Philippians 4:6-7:

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.”

I don’t know the answer to this anxiety that has come upon me since the loss of our first babe other than it comes when I saturate my life with prayer each. and. every. day. His peace was there in that doctors office. And on that phone call. And in that hospital room. And as we faced one another and soaked our pillows with tears.

What I know is He is good. And that His peace is a promise He will always keep.

There's a peace far beyond all understanding
May it ever set my heart at ease
What anxiety fails to remember is peace is a promise You keep
Peace is a promise You keep

-Peace | Hillsong Young & Free



To that girl down there who was about to enter into a kind of heartbreak she’d never known before, what I know to be true is that God will be faithful. He sees you, He loves you, and He is already working everything out in a way that will leave you feeling the unexplainable peace and contentment that only He can give.

IMG_0120.jpg

To every person out there who is living their days as the “1” they refer to in the 1 in 4 who will experience miscarriage or infant loss, your story and their little life, is immeasurably valuable. I’m grateful for a God who is still good, even through life’s greatest hurts.

Reflections From Acts 9 | The Unmentioned Aspects of Conversion

You know that Enneagram train everyone is riding these days? Yep. I’m on it. Maybe it’s because I am unashamedly curious about all the ways I can get better at being Laura, or maybe it’s because I weirdly like having spelled-out before me the areas that I am weak and need improving. Whatever the reason, the Enneagram has me hooked and I want to know everyone’s number and talk about all the ways we can become the best versions of ourselves. (For those dying to know… I’m a 9 ;) )

What’s crazy about the Enneagram is that the belief behind the system is that we take on the version of ourselves that we are as adults when we are children. So it’s not necessarily that we were born this way, but rather that life circumstances and choices forced us to put on a certain self as a coping mechanism or a way of navigating our own little worlds, and thus we became the people we are today.

It’s fascinating to me just how influential our surroundings are in the people we become. Where we lived, who we spent our time with, the kinds of food, music, and activities we consumed—it all weaves together the tapestry that is each individual person.

IMG_7717.JPG

Our surroundings shape the pages that write the beginnings of our lives.

I wonder at the details of Paul’s surroundings early on in his life. (Or Saul, rather, at that point in time.) The book of Acts tells us that he was a severe man, with a fiery intentionality for whatever he set out to do. In the case of the early church, Saul set out to persecute and rid the world of all those who claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Later on, after his conversion, he tells us that he was as straight as they came in terms of his Hebrew heritage and way of living. Not only did he dot every “i” and cross every “t”, he did it better than all the rest. So the pride, and social status that fueled his actions was likely of astronomical proportions (Acts 22:1-5).

In his circle, he was doing all the right things.

And then Jesus Christ, the One Saul had devoted all of his time, energy, and resources to slander, intersects his life in a blinding way, and everything in Saul’s life turns upside down.

[You can read the story of the road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-18. What I want to point out are the days following this miraculous conversion.]

Verse 19 of chapter 9 tells us that,

He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days.”

As I read that I wondered, what about all the guys he was traveling with, all on their way to persecute believers in Damascus? Paul had made a HUGE decision to follow Jesus. And he didn’t do it privately so that no one in his regular life knew about it. He was baptized and proceeded to then spend all of his time with those he had intended to kill.

What did his friends think? His family? His boss? The other Jewish believers who saw him as a wise and powerful man “on their side”?

He had ditched his comrades and the life he lived before that moment he met Jesus, and the word spread quickly.

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 9:20-22 | NIV).

Paul had “everything to lose” and yet he knew that he had, in fact, gained everything the moment he gave his life to Christ. People were dumbfounded that this man was now living for the One with whom he had devoted his life to wiping out. As I read this, I am floored by the reality that we as believers live our lives so ashamed of this incredible gift we have been given. We try to hide from a watching world the eternal life and salvation we have been given through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

There is so much we can learn from Paul—God knew the tenacity with which this man would get after anything he was passionate about, so He made sure Paul would be passionate about His Son.

Couldn’t that be true of you and I, too?

He knows the exact way He wants to use you and your commitment to Christ to influence your surroundings. He knows the head-strong people you work with, or share a family name and genetics with. He knows the story of your past and all the ways people like to define you by it. He knows where you’ve been and He knows where you’re going. And He wants His Name to be what defines your life from here on out.

So don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of who you were or who they are. Perfect love drives out fear, and His love in you and for you and through you is perfect. He knows how to wash-white your past, He knows how to supply your every present need, and He knows how to lovingly navigate your future, so that His Name would be made great through your passionate love of His Son.

So can you and I be like Paul, and run head-long towards the One from which we have been given true and lasting LIFE? Can we cease caring about how life will go on for those around us, and start leaning in and doing life with those who are devoted to Jesus, trusting that He will use our stories to speak to the hearts of those who have influenced us before we met Christ?

It wasn’t easy for Paul, at first. But he pressed on, and was given an advocate—someone to encourage him, guide him, and support him on his journey towards complete devotion to Christ. RPromise me you’ll read the rest of the story—it can be found here. If you are new to your faith, like Paul was here, find yourself a Barnabas. If you can’t, then pray with boat-loads of faith that God would bring you one. His heart is not for you to do this life of faith alone, so broaden your vantage point and start looking to places you’ve never looked before. I promise you, you’ll find your Barnabas.

What could happen to this lost and lonely world if we all turned and followed like Paul did? Lord, would you do this again in each one of our lives; that Your church would grow and the lost would be found in Jesus.

Reflections From Mark 5 | That Woman Who Dared To Believe

We're adjusting to a new normal over here these days. With M now away at school most days, I find myself actually free to do some of the things I regularly tuck away in the back of my mind and never find time to dig out again. Really, by "some" things I mean one: writing.

Another activity that's been quietly beckoning my attention again is journaling--the lack of which leaves me feeling embarrassed and exasperated. Who has time to journal? My abide time so easily turns into a quick read (or a long one) without the effort to process and pray through what He showed me. Man, I used to journal all the time, and I can see the shift in my heart and mind because I've neglected to make the effort. Dang.

It's funny, because for whatever reason (or an all too-intentional one) I've had this line from a video at church this last weekend constantly on my mind. Something to the affect of,

"I kept spending time with Jesus, and at first it was difficult and took a lot of effort, and then eventually it became natural and easy to be with Him."

I remember hearing that and thinking, "time with Jesus difficult? Pff! How could time with Jesus be difficult?" And then, not too soon to be embarrassing but soon enough to sting a little, I remembered just how painstakingly difficult it feels for me to journal.

Well geez.

So I guess this is why that line keeps hanging around. I, Laura, admit that it is difficult for me to spend time with Jesus with a pen in my hand and paper on my lap. Can't we just talk about it via my thoughts? That's so much more accessible to me when I've got to deal with H whining at me, demanding more cookies or cereal or Moana.

Turns out, one-sided dialogue via my scrambled thoughts isn't exactly amounting to a real relationship with my Lord. So today, after we sent the big boy off on the bus (which, for those wondering, is getting easier. K, you were all right.), I hunkered down on the couch with my Bible AND my journal, gave H some Sesame Street crackers for breakfast (#winning at this mom thing) and dove back into Mark 5, where I left off yesterday.

I made it a whole 2 verses before I had a thought cross my mind that I just had to journal about. Two pages later, I had processed through this crazy cool revelation of who Christ is. (And if you want, I'll share that one with you.) Then I made it a whole ZERO verses down through that story because the story within the story caused me to stop and write AGAIN (for Pete's sakes, Lord let Hazel be eerily pleased with these crackers and Moana in the background because I can't stop now!). And this is what I want to share with you today.

F26C020D-C14A-4D24-948E-99D25EE82548.jpg

We know her. The bleeding woman. This woman, for a long season of my life, gave me so much comfort, because I felt like she would've known my own pain well. She bled for 12 years. I bled for 5. Maybe if she had been sick during our time of medical advancement, she wouldn't have suffered for quite as long. Regardless, she was a woman who had been forced to define her life by her body and how it was failing her. She didn't know how to control it. She spent everything she had to try to fix it. She was cast out because of it. She was a desperate woman, left with an out-of-her-control body, and if I were a betting gal, I'd put money on her slowly losing a grip on the woman she was before this all began.

She was the bleeding woman.

Many of us have our own version of this story. The thing that happened to us that was out of our control, and has therefore become our identity. Disease, abuse, circumstances out of your control, born into a seemingly inescapable world of sin. So much of life is about what's happening around us, and if we don't intentionally find our identity in the One who made us, we will identity with that which is the easiest to claim.

You may come from a family of addicts, but your identity in Christ is that of adopted child of the King.

You may have been wronged physically, emotionally, or verbally, but your identity is one rescued by the One True Victor, Jesus Christ.

You may have a body that seemingly "fails" you every day, resistant to your efforts to find health and answers. But your identity is found in your Heavenly realities--that this life and this body is not your own, but for the telling of the story of the Gospel that says you aren't Home yet, and if this failing body is the vehicle that takes you there, then hallelujah amidst the pain and sorrow.

We all relate to the bleeding woman in some way. Which is why I can't not tell you what He showed me this morning.

Jesus is on His way, with His disciples and a man named Jairus, to see Jairus' daughter. Mark specifically tells us that there were people pressing into Jesus on all sides. And there's this woman, with this faith that could barely be contained inside her weak body, who believes that if she can at least touch His cloak, she will be healed. Scripture tells us in Mark 5:29, "As soon as her fingers brushed His cloak, the bleeding stopped. She could feel that she was whole again."

First of all--brushed His cloak--for goodness sakes she didn't even have to GRAB ONTO His cloak and she was healed. Immediately this disease that not only consumed her body physically, but changed every single aspect of her life, was gone. Amidst a crowd of people all around her, the most incredible thing that would ever happen to her in her lifetime, took place. And here's the clincher:

Had Jesus not stopped and asked a question (one I believe He very well knew the answer to) no one would've known it.

"He stopped. Everyone stopped. He looked around.

'Who just touched My robe?'"

God is omniscient--all-knowing--so this question is really for the benefit of everyone else. In the tizzy of people following Him to watch Him do the thing they had all heard He could do, which was bring someone back from the dead, He caused them all to stop. 

I find what the Disciples did next to be entertaining, mostly because it's what many of us do in the church all the time. Amidst the likely awkward silence, the disciples offer up a little bit of that holy common sense that we are all-too good at giving.

They had to remind Him that the crowd was thick, so obviously someone had touched Him. What's with the question then, boss?

"But Jesus waited" (vs 32)

He didn't answer them. He waited. He looked for her. He knew her, and He waited for her to have the courage to step out and grab hold of that which had been done for her.

"At last, the woman--knowing He was talking about her--pushed forward and dropped to her knees. She was shaking with fear and amazement."

You know that feeling--when the Spirit is like, "Hey, I'm picking you to share. I'm not going to stop tapping your shoulder until you open your mouth and start talking!" Jesus just waited. No amount of common sense observations from His disciples would cause Him to let this moment pass by. This woman needed to proclaim what He had done for her. 

For her benefit and for theirs.

As I journaled through this I wondered 2 things:

1) How many others had received their own silent miracle at the touch of Jesus? Had He not paused, this woman's story would've gone undocumented. So who else received a new life, a new identity, simply at His touch?

2) Had she not voiced her miracle, would she have truly moved forward made-whole? When you find your identity in your circumstances for years on end, how do you suddenly stop slapping that label on yourself? How would she, in a place where physical illness made her unclean and unable to be in certain places and around certain people, have gone on healed and whole, without somehow letting others see it for themselves? I believe Jesus knew this. I believe He knew her propensity to throw that label back on herself, and I believe He knew the likelihood of others continuing to shun her despite this miraculous healing. And so He called her out. He made her talk.

And because of it, countless people have been spurred on to have faith like that of the bleeding woman. I sure wish I knew her name, because even now it seems unfitting to identity her with what no longer suits her.

There are people who are longing for a story of faith to help spur them on in their own journey... dare I say, your story. I believe that Jesus pauses and waits for each of us to open our mouths and to tell those around us of the miracles He is doing in our lives. Where is He showing us our freedom and redemption? Where is He fighting our battles for us? Where is He bringing peace despite our pain?

He waits for you to come forward. And He'll wait as long as it takes.

Verse 34 is the cherry on top, in my opinion: "Daughter, you are well because you dared to believe. Go in peace, and stay well." Oh how He knows our tendency to go backwards, even if it's back into illness or sin. So He sends her off with peace and the command to keep her feet firmly planted on this new ground He has given her.

Phew. What an incredible insight into such a special story. My prayer is that we would never assume we know the stories of Jesus. We just simply don't. God is far too intentional to ever be fully known, even in the retelling of His time here on earth by mere men. 

Go tell your story. Step forward and let the world around you know who this Jesus is that you call your Lord! Let Him get His glory.


Lord, keep my eyes ever-open to who You are. Let me never assume that I know You "well-enough". And give me the courage to come forward in the crowds and tell of what You have done for me.

Stop & Take It In | A Call To Pause

The best piece of advice I was given before my wedding was to pause and take it all in. To quite literally stop, look around and let my mind take in what was happening at that given moment. I vividly remember sitting at our little head table, looking out over a beautiful, warmly lit ballroom filled with the sounds and sights of significant people in our lives, all gathered to celebrate two lives becoming one. In that moment and in this one today I am grateful for the advice to pause and take it in.

 

IMG_2200.JPG

This morning as I fed Hazel her bottle I found myself mindlessly staring at her eyelashes--taking her in without even realizing I was doing it. I then began to intentionally take in this miracle girl as she dozed off into her beloved and trusty morning rest. My mind then wandered back to my time of worship last Sunday morning. How I had to painstakingly bring myself to sing with i.n.t.e.n.t.i.o.n.a.l.i.t.y. Even with the good and beautiful things, our minds have been made in such a way that they jump right into what is familiar and well practiced without much intention or effort. I can worship my Almighty God and still wander about in my thoughts regarding what I'm wearing or what we are going to do later or the tray of donuts that are always calling my name a mere handful of feet away. To worship Him, really worship with my entire being, required the effort intentionality calls for.

The pause to take all of Him in.

Pausing takes a lot of effort if you really think about it. We are wired to go, go, go. So today I paused and took in my daughter. "She is really mine. She has been given breath and life and a soul that will long for the Savior the same way mine did and still does even now. This life with her is real and happening now and will never happen in this same way again."

As I walked throughout my home, I was acutely aware (as I usually am) of the amount of toys, socks, and randomly misplaced items strewn about each room. Usually this causes me to swing into a flurry of irritability, frustration, and panic while a rain cloud of "should's" begins to pour over me, drowning me in my apparent "failure at life and keeping it all together". But this morning I was given the incredible gift of pause.

There will be a day where there are no toys strewn about.

There will be a day when all the things stay in their place because little hands are now big and responsible and have their own things in their own places.

There will be a day when neither my arms or my provision will be required for that daughter of mine to fall asleep or find the rest she longs for.

There will be a day when that son of mine will help himself to snacks and shows and decisions and mistakes. Neither my ability to create adventure nor my opinion on what is considered adventurous will be required because he will have become a man of his own ideas and faith and living.

4A692FD5-7C8E-4EAF-B13F-F6B2A13A7F92.jpg

So today I took in all the toys, the sounds of his laughter from the other room while he watched Curious George, and each and every demanding and exhausting detail of this current life. Each day I have a choice: wish my life looked easier/prettier/freer or love every single raw and real bit that is now.

I'm pausing today for the days ahead. The days when:

Fake tattoos become real ones

The cries of a bumped noggin become the ones of a broken heart

The nonexistent "me-time" becomes a search for a new passion and purpose in this calling of motherhood

The two little sets of feet crawling about our bed find their own place to land and the two of us that started this thing become "just the two of us" once again.

698D9596-4FCC-49ED-82A3-CBEC387B4073.jpg

 

Can you see the weight of beauty and glory that is this one life we get to live? If you cannot, the best advice I can give you is the same that was given to me at the start of this all.

Pause. Take it in. This thing that is happening is yours.

IMG_2202.JPG

Reverence | An Awakening

Earlier this year I felt led to submit an article to two different online magazines. I felt smoked by the Spirit as I wrote this, and yet neither magazine wanted it. The words are still His and it's time I share them.

So, without further ado, a word on Reverence


Maybe it’s because we live in first-world Americana, but the idea of reverence seems to be lost on many. We can’t tangibly understand the idea because, after all, we live for ourselves much of the time. The Christ-follower in this culture might believe that she is “dying to herself” and revering the Lord she serves, but there are so many simple and yet humbling questions to be asked of her.

We don’t know what it is to bow before a Sovereign, and for some, if given a face-to-face meeting with the President, it would almost be frowned upon if they did not greet him with words of disdain and disrespect.

We are not a culture that reveres.

We boast, we bully, we believe that the ideas created within ourselves are the best of the best and anyone who disagrees loses their place at our table.

And somewhere in the midst of that lies the Sovereign Most High.

 

“For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” -Joshua 4:23-24 | NIV

 

What would happen inside of us if we closed our eyes, quieted our hearts, and let the reality of these events (and the countless others) sink deep into our souls, past our inward-focus, past our distractibility?  What if we entered into the House of God fully aware of the God we were about to meet?

The God who told Moses to take off his sandals because in His presence, the ground is Holy.

The God who is worshipped around the clock with tongues of fire belonging to beings our minds cannot even begin to imagine.

The God who saw the deepest stains of sin and bondage within her and decided to wash her as white as snow.

Could it be that God desires an awakening of reverence? He has not forgotten about His majesty and might, but He has seen each and every time we have.  And in His mercy and grace, He patiently awaits our reverence. He invites us to take off our sandals. He invites us to unveil our faces. He beckons us to lift up our hands.

Because He is worthy of all of that and so much more.

Reverence: to cause astonishment and awe; be held in awe.

When we look beyond ourselves, when we remove the veil of pride, disengagement, and fear, we can do nothing but stand in awe of the God we serve. 

 

I will remember the actions the Eternal has taken,

    reminisce on Your ancient wonders.

I will reflect on all of Your work;

    indeed, I will study all You have performed. 

O God, Your way is so different, so distinct, so divine.

    No other god compares with our God.

You, God, and Your works evoke wonder.

    You have proved Your strength to the nations. 

-Psalm 77:11-14 | the Voice

 

Jess Connolly says in her book, Wild and Free, “The full picture, you see, requires you and me to acknowledge that the main character of the story is not the masterpiece, but its Creator.” How many of us enter into worship and inevitably worship ourselves? Our hands are raised and our hair is done for the glory and praise of the wrong “one”. But the heart that reveres worships with abandon. The ambassador who glorifies and honors the One she represents does so in accordance with what He says is right and true.

 

“Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 | AMP

 

Imagine yourself a little girl, leaping downstairs to twirl in front of your Papa in your brand new dress. Do you know the One it is that you twirl before? He is the Papa who says, “Darling, that dress is lovely,” and placing His big, tender, powerful hand over your heart, He continues, “but you [the “you” that rests in here] are beautiful.”

When we stand in awe of this God who chose us, we lose interest in standing our ground on our rights as free women who can “do as we please” because the longing to worship in truth and grace is far too great.

We remove our sandals and unveil our faces.

We stand in abandoned awe at this Holy King who says to each one of us, “I choose you.”

 

The Day He Asked Me Why | Entering Into Healing

My son has this obsession with Band-aids. I'm going to be honest with you--it drives me completely crazy. There are band-aid wrappers all over the house, and even worse, used band-aids in odd, and questionable places. For every owie, and everything that could maybe, potentially be an owie, a band-aid is a must.


Today I asked myself a couple of times, "why don't you want to get healed?" An interesting observation on my part, because my prayer life would reflect that I do, in fact, seek healing in specific areas of my life, and yet when approached with the opportunity, I hesitate.

Interesting.

Later on I heard that same question but from my Savior. "Why don't you want to get healed?" You see, when I ask it of myself, I do so under the false assumption that I have some sort of control over the matter, which would be the reason why I never actually answered myself in the first place.

But when asked that question from the One who holds within Himself all power to restore and renew, I feel the breath lost from my lungs. There's a gasp in my spirit--like embarrassment mixed with shame mixed with maybe-I-can-pretend-I-didn't-hear-myself-the-first-two-times.

The Savior Jesus wants to know why I don't want what He wants to give to me.


Remember my band-aid obsessed kid? Well, one of the reasons he drives me bonkers with these band-aids is that he will keep them on for. days. I tell him repeatedly, "Malachi, if you do not take it off and let it heal you will get an infection. I don't think you understand what that means--you will have to see the dr and get a shot and it will be so so so so so so bad." (Maybe my tactic isn't the greatest, but I'm grabbing at straws on my best days.) And as I drove home from work today I saw that I am, in fact, worse than my son.

I want my band-aids; my coverings. I want my hope and security in the thing that is hurting in me to be found in something tangible instead of trusting that time and fresh air and healing balm with make it all better. If I cover it up then that must mean it's safe. Phew. Except that that couldn't be further from the truth.

Often times, I will find Malachi with his hand wrapped around the finger of his other hand, strenuously attempting to keep a gross, no-longer-sticky band-aid on. Today I see myself doing the same thing. I've got wounds that have been around for more years than I can recount, and I'm still here, a 32 year old woman of God, working that bandage like it's the day I put it on.

So I guess I might need to give Malachi a little slack seeing as I'm more of a band-aid freak than he is.

As I sit here and ask the Lord, "what do I do with this? How do I get to a place of uncovering so that You can do what You do?" And immediately I'm reminded of a restorative holy yoga class I led last weekend. I asked the women 3 questions and today He asks me the same:

"Is God good?"

"Is God good to me?"

"Is God good at being God?"

It's as if I can see His face, and hear His gentle voice as He whispers over me the very same words I whisper (or shout) over Malachi: "You have to trust Me. I need to be the best Savior that I can be, and that means asking you to do something scary and trusting Me while you do it."

I have to reach my hands out, however shaky they might be, and I need to loose my lips, however much they might quiver, and I need to let Him do what He does. I need to say yes to healing, and believe that even if the other side seems scary and unfamiliar, that He is in that place, too.


I don't have any answers for you and I can't proceed to give you a testimony of received healing. I'm walking this out, today. But I know that His question to me is also His question to you. So, my dear friend, 

"Why don't you want to get healed?"

 

To My Grown Children | On Making Plans and Keeping The Faith

I've been where you are. Dreaming. Making plans and piecing all of the information you have together into some sort of understanding of life as it has been, as it is now, and as it will be in the days, months, and years to come. You do what you can with what you have. You take the information that God has given you and you say, "ok, this is the plan I'm setting out on because it is what makes the most sense."

Maybe that will be your story--I pray it is. And maybe it won't be. I'm banking on the latter, as that seems to be the story for many of God's chosen. I think it's because He wants us to depend solely on Him, and not on our own understanding. And, shocker, I'm not the first one to come to that conclusion (shout out to Solomon)-- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Right now you are 4 (almost 5) and 11 months (almost 1) and Dad and I are as wayward and squirmy as you two combined when it comes to abiding in this instruction. Which is why I felt it pertinent to jot this down for you--I'd hate for you to believe the lie that you are the only ones who aren't on the path to success in your generation.

big. fat. lie.

Dad and I experience that, too. When we look around all seems to be right in the lives of most, and yet here we sit. Asking God so many questions and hearing so few answers. Just abide. Just sit and watch. It's hard, my loves. It's hard on this day and it will be hard for you on the day you read this. Also ask questions. Get to know those around you--the ones who's lives seem to together and forward-moving. I bet you'll feel better about your lot and be built up in faith and fervor when you do. When you really get to know those living their lives for God, He will give you a grander scope of life and success and the reality that life is raw and, at times, ugly for everyone. Not just you.

Just as the struggle doesn't change over the ages, neither does the faithful hand of God. Keep trusting Him. Force yourself. Move yourself, step. by. step. by. step. to the altar of God. Dad and I are doing everything we can to leave behind us a legacy of faith--the example (however messy and imperfect it may be) of people who drag themselves before the throne, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes desperate and raw, and sometimes proud and stubborn. You might find yourself asking the question, "what if it's all for nothing?" I asked that question, too. On this very day. And it is all worth it. It just has to be. I don't have the answer for you today, but on the day you read this, I know without a shadow of doubt that I will have a fiery joy as I tell you how it was all worth it. You won't understand, and my story might leave you feeling just as you did before it began, but I promise you one day you will understand. You will see the faithfulness of God in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

Just like Dad and I will, too. 

So make plans. Piece together what you know, but hold it loosely. He is going to ask you to trust, and it is going to be hard. Probably one of the hardest things you'll ever do. He is not a safe God, and Dad and I have just begun to scratch the surface of how He is both unsafe and yet a mighty fortress and shield.

When you doubt that He is listening--that He isn't moving and pursuing you and your deepest need and desire, remember that when Jesus comes back He will have a new Name-- Faithful and True. Those traits aren't awaiting the title. He is both faithful and true now and forever.

Maybe today, as you read this, you are twenty and think you know it all. Maybe you are thirty and are desperate in your absolute lack of understanding of all the things. Maybe you are fifty and feel like the ground has given way beneath you. Keep making plans with what you know, and keep choosing faith--forcing faith, abiding in faith, pursuing faith--because He is Faithful and True, and my darling loves...

He sees you.

We Asked For Adventure | Two Years Later

I'm sitting here with a bowl of chocolate chips, a big mug of herbal tea and an anxious and desperate heart. Here's why:

Two years ago we got this idea. We wanted adventure with God. It sounded and felt so dreamy. At least, that's what I vaguely remember it feeling like when I am reminded of my own words two years ago.

11722467_10101384249351992_6237746244331914226_o.jpg

"I'm itching for adventure. And not the kind that I can come up with on my own. I'm praying for big, beautiful, only-God-could've-done-this adventure. I believe that if we ask Him to write a beautiful adventurous story with our lives He will deliver. He's so creative, and I'm desperate for Him to showcase His skills with my life and my family... We live one life. I want to live it the best way He allows."

Words straight from the heart of a woman just beginning her adventure towards understanding.

I'm two years in (maybe even more) and on the outside life looks a lot like it did when I typed those words, just with one additional little person. Still waiting. Still hoping. Still white-knuckling my way towards the promise and the secure future that I know is mine.

I think I believed that if I just gave God permission to move me to the beautiful mountains and give me this dreamy life that He would do it--like I was the one keeping Him from getting that ball rolling.

Apparently He wasn't waiting for my permission.

Do you have a dream for your life? A thing that, if you close your eyes tight you can see it play out before you? I do. And it's that adventurous life that I "gave God permission" to write for me. It's frolicking through His highest mountains and twirling with my eyes raised towards the sky in His grassy valleys. But as I sit here and write this I'm realizing that He's never told me I can't frolic on the mountain tops and twirl in the valleys.

It might just take place in my heart and not in my body.

To the one who craves adventure with God--who is ready to throw caution to the wind and let God take them wherever He wants: don't do it unless you're ready to let go of the reigns and really go wherever He wants. Because where He wants just might be where you already are.

At least it is for us. For now.

Jesus informed me in John 14 a few weeks back that He doesn't give gifts the way the world does and that I should not lose heart. I'm a sign-reader by nature, a trait that I try desperately to squelch because I know who my God is and He is not confusing or mystical. He is clear and firm. Loving and generous. Sovereign and Holy. So when I read this in John I had to fight hard against my tendency to read all the signs in my life and see how this gift-giving strategy of God's holds up against all the things I've received.

I can't help but think of Malachi.

Kids have a way of trying to make a gift out of anything. And they usually end up enjoying the thing that wasn't intended to be the awesome, expensive, super-thought-out gift in the first place. 

Jesus also tells me to be more like the little ones, and if the world gives the awesome, expensive, super-thought-out gifts then I guess I'm finding joy in the box it comes in. 

I'm still drinking my herbal tea (in desperation that it will bring the peace and calm it is widely acclaimed for.. pshh), I'm on my second bowl of chocolate chips, and my heart is still processing this place we are in.

This place we are in is an entirely new place, a new and promised land, where we believe with little hesitation in the character, love, provision, goodness, mercy, sovereignty, might, holiness, and love of God. We want adventure, even now knowing that it isn't going to look like what we first imagined. We are even more desperate for and sure of the provision and promise of God.

We are in new land, and it's spacious and beautiful just as He promised it would be; I need only take heart and receive.

If you're craving adventure, keep on keeping on. If you are afraid of adventure, don't just dip a toe in--cannonball. This life of adventure with God is raw and real and vulnerable and hard, but it's also vibrant and full of real life and love and joy and commitment. It's the beautiful, adventurous story I asked Him to write for me.

I will not wait around--push pause on living vibrantly and with a receptive heart-- until He brings me to the place I thought we were setting out for two years ago. I will live this adventure wherever I am and with whomever I'm with, because He is the One who makes my heart skip a beat with excitement and my eyes gaze with wonder at His glory. I will explore His beauty, dive deep into the souls of His beloveds around me, and fall even deeper in love with Him because this is the adventure and I've been living it all along.

Choose Your Words Wisely

You know how God tends to speak in themes? Well, here's the theme for me as of late.

Choose your words wisely

Recently at our Mamas Lifegroup we were discussing the way in which we speak about church involvement to our kids. I was curious of their opinions on how to raise kids in the church and not bring them to a point of running for the hills as soon as they turn 18. One of my friends had such simple and beautiful advice: 

"We get to go to church" not "We have to go to church"

She went on to share how when they go and serve in the baby room, she talks with her daughter about how they get to go serve Jesus--of which she then later repeats, in typical 4 year old fashion, with great enthusiasm as she tells of their day's activities.

It's all about the words.

Then yesterday, as I mind-numbingly scrolled Instagram, I came across a post that ignited soul-exposing truth and conviction in a way that brought with it mercy and empowerment and a setting-of-my-place that was so incredibly necessary.

Let me back-track a bit first.

I've got all these dreams and to-do's. I will talk about all the ways I'm going to get this thing done or stop doing that other thing that doesn't serve me, or how I'm going to one day be a part of this other big thing that will spill over into people's lives in a really beautiful and God-honoring way. This type of self-talk has also developed in the way that I handle the everyday-ness of my life--how eventually I will mother this way, or wife in that way. 

There's a whole lot of "one day"'s and not many "today"'s.

The root of it is that I have this tendency to distract my soul. All of the hard work and perseverance to do any and all of those things is found in an alive and active soul. But apparently I like to keep mine distracted.

(I also came upon this revelation whilst scrolling Instagram. Good to know God is mighty enough to use my soul's greatest distraction to bring conviction and release and truth in Light.)

So yesterday, when I read the words that brought my soul to a halt, I could've cried at the conviction and the mercy that collided right before my eyes.

"I'll do it tomorrow. Four words, that seem like basic procrastination, are actually a hiding place for so much sin... "I'll do" and "tomorrow" are staples in my mental vocabulary, giving me a false sense of power, security, and dominion over my flesh. But they lie. The lie of "I'll do..." is that in my own efforts, by my own intelligence and savvy, I can muster up the ability to create lasting change. It's thinking that I'm able to wake up one day and be different, just because I want to be. It's living in the delusion that my flesh isn't that strong, sin isn't that bad, and I'm not that enslaved. I can do it. The lie of "tomorrow" is that I'm in control of time and don't live by human limitations. Although the sins of others need to be stopped immediately, I can do mine for a little longer without really reaping any serious consequences. It's presuming God's grace, making it cheap for my own convenience. It's thinking that I'm in charge of what happens tomorrow, and believing it's guaranteed to be there." -Risen Motherhood's Emily Jensen

Can you see the collision? The conviction, oh the conviction! Sin has a way of coming off as so innocent, doesn't it? It's not like I set out to do these completely inappropriate things in the face of God's incredible mercy and favor. But they happened. I assumed my sin was not as appalling as someone else's. I  gave my own willpower and can-do spirit credentials that are completely unfitting. I assumed, somewhere inside of me, without realizing it, that I was going to be the one to bring about change in the way in which life happens in my world.

Excuse me while I bring my palm to my face and slowly shake my head from side to side.

Emily continues on by saying, 

"Instead of "I'll do it tomorrow", it's time to start saying, "God, help me.... today." It's immediate repentance when I feel my heart resisting holiness and longing to live for myself. It's stopping in my tracks, acknowledging my own inability, and crying out for His ability. It's getting down to pray in those moments, even with my kids beside me, to admit, "Mommy needs God's help."

Funny how changing just a couple of the words we use can either make or break where we find ourselves at the table with God, and where others find themselves, too. Either eager and full of zeal for who He is and the place in which we stand in service to Him, or full of pride and distant, believing that His death wasn't as strong as our own will-power.

A collision of conviction and mercy.

Will you be choosy with me? In the words we use and the posture we take? Sin, while at times seemingly innocent, will not hold back it's sting. Knowing that, lets make the first words we choose be, "God, help me... today. Thank You for all of the 'get-to's'!"

We've Got The Bread

Based on my usually vague and yet broadly informative social media posts, I would say most people have a general knowledge of the "road to career-dom" we've been on these last three years; by "we" I mean Thomas, but the reality is it's a journey for each person in our family when it is the journey of the main-man of the crew.

 

We thought we were on our way, that we had finally "arrived", at least for a little while. We still held onto hope that eventually we would see our biggest dream fulfilled and have the mountains in our "backyard", but to have a "real job" seemed a lot like arriving, and we were thankful. 

 

Then came the most random tearing of an ACL in the history of young, handsome Canadian men, and we were left wondering what God was up to--again.

 

This week T had to, for the second time, withdraw from promotion into law enforcement due to aforementioned injury. So here we sit... again... wondering what's happening.

 

Last night was one of those ugly, finger-shaking-at-God kind of nights and in my tizzy I picked up an old study guide from church that Hazel had taken out of my journal. Of course, in typical all-knowing and Sovereign God fashion, the lesson from months ago contained just the words my heart and head needed last night.

"Focus on what I do understand--about God, about who I am, about my circumstances."

This is what I had written along the top of the paper and the very thing I needed to do in light of our once-again questionable circumstances. 

"Let His faithfulness in the past propel me into my future."

I had also written that.

So it turns out I actually had processed all the things I needed to face yet another round of uncertainty, and in pretty typical human-fashion I had forgotten all of it.

Then I read Mark 8 and remembered that Jesus had a name for those who forget so easily:

hard-hearted.

Well dang.

"...Jesus asked them, 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Are you hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" -Mark 8:17-19 | NIV

Allow me to show you the conviction with which I received from these few words, in chronological order:

1) I'm talking like I've got no bread. When has He ever left us with no bread? Never.

2) My heart is harder than I'd ever care to admit--for the sake of my ego it's a good thing I didn't realize it. In my pride, I credit myself as one who has a good handle on common sense, but apparently my common sense of the character of God escapes me regularly. So yep... I don't understand.

3) There's a link to my eyes and ears and the memory of the miles behind me. I'll proclaim all I want of the faithfulness of God, but an immediate bout of blindness and Alzheimers has the tendency to come upon me when everything seems uncertain and God seems confusing.

4) Remember that time, just recently, when I did that thing you were so desperate for? Sigh... man, Pops... how could I forget so quickly?

 

It's a crazy ride, living a life of expectant faith. Choosing to believe what your eyes cannot see is hard work. It sounds enchanting but in reality its ugly and tough and full of a lot of pacing and flailing arms. I think what I'm the most thankful for though is that none of that surprises or deters God from doing what He set out to do a long time ago when He invited us into this. He's consistent, and His faithfulness doesn't depend on mine. So with that, I'll stand up, grab a slice of sprouted Ezekiel bread and give a loud, "we've got bread!"  

 

And I'm also leaving out my breadbasket, for whenever He plans on stopping by and giving it a good fill.