She Didn’t Know

She didn’t know what to expect. She was afraid, but she was excited.
Emotions were magnified by the hormones running through her body.
She rubbed her belly and she knew it would be okay. She dreamed of the bows and dresses and walks in the stroller. She planned for the photos and the announcements and all that would surely happen in the coming weeks.
Her doctor called her in on a Tuesday night. Nervous laughter filled the room as anxious hearts were ready to embark on a journey that they could never in a million years be prepared for.
After 13 emotional hours it happened.
She saw her. She saw the tiny little thing that would change her heart and change her life forever. She was in love. She held her. And she slept.
The bows and dresses and walks in the stroller came and went and she was left with a silly little toddler who dreamed of Disneyland and loved doggies.
It was everything she didn’t know she always wanted.
The second time she knew what to expect. But, she was still afraid and still very excited.
Emotions were magnified by the hormones running through her body.
She rubbed her belly and she knew it would be okay. She dreamed of baseballs and Batman and walks in the double stroller. She planned for the photos and the announcements and all that would surely happen in the coming weeks.
Her doctor called her in on a Saturday night, two days before her birthday. Nervous laughter filled the room as anxious hearts were ready to embark on a journey that they could never in a million years be prepared for.
After 20 anxious hours it happened.
She saw him. She saw the tiny thing that would change her heart and change her life forever. She was in love. She held him. And she couldn’t sleep.
The baseballs came and Batman didn’t, but Elmo did. She walked them in the double stroller and she was happy.
She loved them in a way she never knew she could love.
She loved them so much that she was afraid.
She loved them so much that she was excited.
She loved them so much that she knew everything would be okay.
It was everything she didn’t know she always wanted.
It was everything she didn’t know she always needed.
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This post was originally written as an assignment for a storytelling class I am taking. I hope it touched you reading it as much as it touched me to write it.
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A Letter To My Children

I pray for you everyday. I pray that you will know and love Jesus with all of your heart. I pray for your health and your happiness. I pray that you will never lose your kind heart, your imaginative spirit, your contagious laugh, your love for people and animals. I pray all of these things, for you both.

I also pray that you will live in a world where you have the freedom to achieve anything you set your mind to, and that you will never be made to feel less than. That you will know that you are equal members of society. None of greater worth than the other.

I pray that you will have the audacity to let your voice be heard. That you will not be afraid to speak your mind, and do so in love. I pray you will not buy into the belief that one voice cannot make a difference. You can change things. I pray you will.

I pray that you will surround yourself with a diverse group of friends who uplift, and encourage one another. That they will inspire you to be better. I pray that you challenge them, and that they challenge you.

I pray that you will stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves. I pray that you will have empathy for those whose shoes you have not walked in. That you will love them where they are and be unafraid to speak up for them if need be.

I pray you will listen, and seek to understand those who are different than you. I pray you will be open to conversation and difference of opinion. I pray that you stand firm in your beliefs, but allow yourself the grace to change your mind.

I pray that when you encounter those with whom you do not agree, you will love them. That you will show them respect despite your differences. I pray you will forgive those who do not treat you with that same respect, and that you will go high when they go low.

I pray that above all else, you will choose love. I pray that you will love those who you do not understand. I pray that you will love those who are different than you. I pray that you will embrace the outcasts. That you will stand with the marginalized. I pray that you will never treat anyone differently based on the color of their skin, their gender, their religion or who they choose to love.

I pray that you will see people just as they are, people.

I love you both. And I promise I will lead by example. I am sure at times I will fail. I pray you will give me grace when I do.

Be Jesus. Love them like He would. Love yourself as He loves you. He is your King. He is your compass.

-Mom


 

 

New Beginnings

I am a lover of new beginnings.

Starting a new job
A new hairstyle
Discovering talents
Changing seasons
Sweet newborn babes
Hearing great music for the first time

It sends a thrill through my bones and puts me right in my sweet spot.
I feel inspired and happy and all the good things.

We are moving into a season of big change. We are packing up our lives and our sweet home. The only home our babies have ever known. The place my sweet girl took her first steps. So many late nights laughing with friends. So many dinners cooked in our tiny kitchen. So many memories that I want to pack up into a little box to open and remember forever.

This change is inspiring. It is good. It is exciting.

But it is hard.

My heart is in this home, this neighborhood, this city.
My people are here.
My memories are here.

The beauty of this town is nothing compared to the beauty of all that has come from living in it.

I met my husband here.
Friendships turned to sisterhood on these streets.
I said “I do” in the hills above our home.
This is where I met my children and watched them grow.
So much laughter. So many tears.
We faced one of the hardest seasons of our lives and came out stronger.
We experienced rejection and learned how to love better.
We experienced compassion and leaned in.
More tears. More laughter.

We are packing up our home and our hearts and moving to a new city. Full of new beginnings. Full of more laughter. More tears. New friends. New jobs.

Somewhere in the scary hard of it all there is light. We are so excited to see all that God has for us and have never before felt more in His will. We have given up control and prayed for Him to lead us and…boy, He has. I cling to my husband and kiss my babies and something tells me it will all be okay.

After all, I am a lover of new beginnings.

 

It’s My Favorite Thing to Do

“Hold me, Mommy”
“It’s my favorite thing to do.” I say.

We have all heard the saying “The days are long, but the years are short.” I have been trying to be intentional about soaking in these ever moving days. They fly by all too fast.

As a mommy of two it is easy to get wrapped up in what my baby boy needs from me that sometimes I can mistake my toddlers needs for wants. But the truth is, she does need me. She needs me now in ways she won’t always need me.

I won’t always get to wash her hair.
She won’t always ask me to draw Cinderella with sidewalk chalk.
I won’t always wake up to the sound of her sweet voice.
She won’t always ask me to read her books.
I won’t always hold her hand as we cross the street.
She won’t always ask me to dance party with her.
I won’t always get to kiss her sweet face goodnight.
She won’t always call out to me when she is afraid.

In a world where the distractions are endless and the insecurities that lie within us all are fed by tiny squares that show perfect images of imperfect people it is easy to forget to slow the heck down. These babies need more than just our bodies, they need our hearts. They need our attention. They need our dance moves and our hugs and our owie kisses. And they won’t need those things forever.

So when she asks me to hold her. I say yes. And I tell her that it is my favorite thing to do.

 

I Kissed Donuts Goodbye

We are pregnant. Yep. Baby number two will be joining the Richards Family in March 2016. No morning sickness. No severe mood swings. I thought I was solid. This pregnancy was going to be a breeze. And then…

My baby girl was napping when I got the email and my heart sunk into my stomach when I read the words “Gestational Diabetes”. My friends and family tried to make me feel better by telling me that “it’s normal” and “it will go away after the baby comes”. I was quick to remind them that when you are outside of the situation it is easy to say these things. I was scared and I was very sad.

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My sadness turned into anger after we attended a class teaching me how to deal with my new diagnosis. Pricking myself with a needle four times a day sounded far less than ideal. And then the kicker. 1700 calories a day. What? Nope. I was pissed. Pregnancy is supposed to be the time you are able to indulge in your cravings. Eat an extra plate of pasta. Send your hubby to get frozen yogurt five seven days a week.

I spent the next few days sulking in my frustration. I allowed myself to be angry because I felt like I deserved at least that. I was not a happy camper and certainly not fun to live with. Call my husband…ten bucks says he will affirm that. But, not before hesitating. He’s a gentleman, of course.

Then, while watching Cupcake Wars (I know…self torture at its finest) food commercial after food commercial came on. I became more and more angry that I couldn’t eat what I wanted when I wanted to eat it. And then God spoke to me.

“Why are you so pissed off about this? Why are you so upset over food?”

And I had to confront that question. Why? Had I made food an idol in my life? I wouldn’t think so…but maybe I have? And to be honest I still don’t really have the answer. But what I do know is that God is working in me. I do know for certain that he has placed this very small trial in my life to remind me to put things in perspective and ask myself some hard questions.

Why does withholding a donut from my life make me act out in anger more than when I read an article about a sweet little refugee boy drowning in the ocean and being washed ashore? Why do I sulk in my frustration of not being able to eat pizza when very strong women (several that I know personally) pick themselves up everyday after having to pick out a casket for their sweet babies? Why does not being able to indulge in something so fleeting make me act like such an…ass?

Friends, this is not easy. Confronting these issues in my heart is uncomfortable and it is dark and ugly and scary to admit. But I know without a doubt in my mind that we all have something. I want to grow. And I want to be stretched. And when you pray for God to stretch you–I promise you He will. And it’s not fun. But friends, it is so necessary.

I am still praying through this heart journey of mine. And I pray that I come out on the other end of this seeing outside of myself and my little bubble of a life. I pray that I will have more perspective and compassion. And that I will do more to help when I can. That I will be more selfless. And that I will be more willing to deny myself the things that God is obviously asking me to let go of.

So friends, will you join me? What is God asking you to deny in your life? What is stopping you from living a life outside of your comfort zone? What is keeping you from clinging to Him? What is it that is blinding you from the realities of this world and causing you to fixate on yourself? Arm in Arm. We are in this together. I would love to pray for you. Would you pray for me?

Encouragement for the Tired Mama

After getting my sweet little bug all bathed and tucked in I plopped down on my bed and opened up Instagram. My feed was filled with trips to the river, Vegas pool parties, bonfires on the beach, fireworks at the rose bowl…and I am reminded of how much things have changed in my life.

While my husband was away working all day, I chased a toddler around. I cleaned up countless drawers that she decided she wanted to empty. I chased around a naked little body bribing her with cheese sticks to get her to jump in the shower. I kissed owies, washed dishes and changed diapers… After nap time I was able to muster up the energy to get my baby girl ready and out the door for a BBQ with friends. About three hours, two brownies and one untouched hot dog later, we were on our last leg and ready to head home. And that was our 4th of July.

What a beautiful day it was.

I am so tired, but to find contentment in a life full of normalcy is a freeing thing. Because, the truth is, I don’t need Vegas. I don’t need the beach. And I don’t need the river. These things are fun, but they are not eternal.

Friends, remember that while these very long, very exhausting days are hard–they are also fleeting. And while we are knee deep in the trenches of motherhood, there is hope for tomorrow.

Your feed may be filled with photos of glamorous adventures that are well behind you, but you are also on an adventure that will bear fruit to last a lifetime. Mamas…We are in this together. Arm in arm. And we must remember that motherhood is not our job, but it is our joy. It is not our obligation, but our opportunity. This time is a gift and it is not to be taken for granted.

We’ve got this. We are together in this.

These tiny hearts are in our hands. Pray for me, and I will pray for you.

XO, Em

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An Excellent Work

Scrolling through my Instagram feed I spot a pregnant, blonde, fabulously dressed (in heels) mama blogger. She has perfect hair, perfect nails, perfectly tanned skin and perfectly smiling babies. My mind wanders into thoughts of “Welp, she looks better than I do and she is pregnant with four kids!” and “Wow, I need to step up my mom game.” My instinctive reaction is feelings of inadequacy and competition.

Fast forward to the next day. I actually got myself ready and went to Target. Walking through the checkout line a mom in the isle across from me is quickly trying to pay while her toddler throws a fit. The woman behind her lifts her eyebrows, and rolls her eyes giving the young frantic mommy “the look”. My heart sinks as I realize that in my fully imperfect human skin I have been on both sides of this situation.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to each other? I don’t want to be your competition. I want to be your cheerleader.

Whether you are in heels or yoga pants.

Whether you’re hair is blown out to perfection or in a three day old top knot.

Whether you use disposable or cloth diapers.

Whether your baby is sittin’ pretty or throwing a tantrum in the middle of Target.

Whether you breast feed or you use formula.

Whether you gave birth in a bathtub with no meds or had a scheduled c-section.

Whether you use tylenol or essential oils.

Whether you wear your baby or push a stroller.

Lets stick together. We are different. But, friends, we are the same. We are daughters of the most high King, and we are mommies to those little souls.

So next time I see your little one throwing a fit at the grocery store, I will tell you that you are doing a good job. When I see that perfectly dressed pregnant mama in heels, I will tell her how great she looks. When I see you pulling out your formula container to get a bottle ready, I will smile and know that you are lovingly providing for that baby. I won’t judge you.

You are doing an excellent work. You are a good mom. You are not my competition.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

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A Letter to my Husband

From the very beginning I knew you were going to be a great dad.

When we were dating I would watch you play with the kids at church for hours. You genuinely enjoyed it. I would nag you about how you couldn’t just play video games with my cousins at family parties. You had to talk to my aunt and get to know my grandma. It’s not that you were being anti social or rude. You just loved kids. I couldn’t wait to watch you be a daddy.

Then life happened. Babies happened. Crazy work schedules happened.

In the chaos I forgot to tell you…

I forgot to tell you that I melt when I see you cuddling our baby girl.

That no one can impersonate Mickey Mouse better than you can.

That every time you make her belly laugh my heart skips a beat.

That you give the best bubble baths.

That she misses you when you are gone, and so do I.

That you make us feel safe and whole.

That I wouldn’t want any other person in the world to be her Daddy but you.

I may have forgotten to tell you, but I have never forgotten.

This parenting thing is brutal. It’s scary and exhausting. And its freaking incredible.

I am so glad that in the bitter and in the sweet, I get to find joy in the journey with you.

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Happy Fathers Day, Babe. I love you to the Moon.

Beautifully Ordinary {originally posted 06/12/15}

Our family is on the brink of transition. There are a million things that could change at any moment but God keeps telling us “Not yet”. I feel as if I am standing on the edge of the pool, toes touching the water just enough to feel cold, waiting for someone to tell me to jump. Right on the edge, but not quite there. I want to canon ball. But I can’t.

Why is waiting so hard? Why is contentment such a battle?

I have really been trying to be in the moment. Love my life right where it is, and not where I want it to be. Loving the simple things in life and soaking up the beauty of what is…
Dancing barefoot in the kitchen.
Singing with my baby girl.
Friends who get it.
Naptime dates with my husband. Thank God for nap time.
Walking to the pet store to play with the kittens.
Chasing the birds and stopping to smell the flowers.
Bedtime conversations about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
Wine with dinner and ice cream for dessert. And then wine for dessert…

(As I write this I realize we really are knee deep in the trenches of toddlerhood…I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

I don’t want to miss what is now because I am too wrapped up in what is coming. I thank Jesus for my baby girl who reminds me how important it is to slow down. She’s growing all too fast. I hold on tight and breathe her in. Remember these sweet moments.

This life is not for the faint of heart. Shit happens. And its messy and twisty and scary. But there is so much beauty in the ordinary of this world. Remember to hold on to those beautifully ordinary moments and lean in to your people. They will make you brave. And hold tight to the one who knows the depths of your heart. He knows. And he loves you deeply because of it.

Life is not coming. Life is here. It is happening right in this moment. Feel the water on your toes and the sun on your back. And remember that it won’t be this way forever. Enjoy it while you can.

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My 2014 Word {originally posted 01/27/14}

There are a few things I would like to try to do differently this year and I think that they can mostly be summed up in one word.

B R A V E.
this is my word for 2014.

BRAVE to speak truth.
BRAVE to hear truth.
BRAVE to keep my mouth shut.
BRAVE to step out of my comfort zone.
BRAVE to do what I love loudly.
BRAVE to be consistent.
BRAVE to be flexible.
BRAVE to not compare.
BRAVE to be myself.
BRAVE to trust wholeheartedly.
BRAVE to love unabandoned.
BRAVE to reach out.
BRAVE to forgive.
BRAVE to be open.
BRAVE to allow failure.
BRAVE to allow praise.
BRAVE to let him lead.

What is your word for 2014?
I would love to hear!

A little window into our week:

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