On Travel. With Kids.

One of my favorite reads this summer has been Tsh Oxenreider's At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe. If you aren't familiar with this new release, it follows Tsh's family (herself+husband+3 kids) as they travel through countries, continents, and cultures over the course of nearly a year. I found it both fascinating and inspiring. It answered a lot of questions that I had about traveling with kids and gave me the courage to think confidently about our own future travel journeys.

I have 3 kids who are, like any parent of multiple children knows, very different. In terms of "travel personality": I have one Voyager child with an insatiable appetite for adventure and learning. He would leave to go anywhere at a moment's notice. He's flexible, adaptive, and generally restless at home.

I also have one hard-core Homebody. He, unlike his older brother, does not like change and would prefer to never leave the comfort of his home. When we are traveling he will often ask when we are going back home and how much longer we have to stay "here"- wherever "here" is at that moment.  The outside world is unpredictable, but home is a safe and secure place for him- his base, his center.

And then I have one To-Be-Decided kiddo. She loves all things new and exciting, but is also domestic and comfortable at home. It will be fun to see how she develops.

Traveling with these three unique personalities is no walk-in-the-park and, up until recently, hasn't been something we have a done a lot of. (Traveling with babies/toddlers can be brutal) But the older they get, the more I want them to learn the rhythms of traveling and all of its great benefits (see previous post).

I am NO expert on this topic. I am constantly watching and learning from others, but I do know this:

One of my greatest desires for my children is that they will be lifelong learners who are comfortable interacting with a wide variety of individuals in a wide array of settings. And I whole-heartedly believe that traveling is one of the very best way to cultivate these qualities. I see this lived out in the people and families that I admire most.

So, are we ready for a trip across Europe? No way. Not even close. But, like most things, the more you travel the better you get at it. We are starting small around here. Beach trips. Short trips to see  baseball games. Disney. Long weekends in a city. Cruises. And hopefully one day we will be ready for that big, beautiful international trip. Fingers crossed.

On Travel.

I've been thinking about travel lately. Why we do it. What it creates in us. And why I want my kids to experience it.

I've loved to travel since I was a little girl. We traveled a great deal throughout my childhood- to the extent that when I was asked to join a competitive swim team at 7 or 8 years old (my one shot at ever "playing" a sport) I was forced to decline because "we traveled too much during the summer".

 As I got older, I was always the kid up for a spontaneous trip- anytime, anywhere, any place. If you had asked me to list my hobbies, you would have found traveling (along with reading) at the top of the list every time. 

Fast forward to adulthood when responsibilities (jobs, kids, finances...) began to take over and we were forced to press down hard on the travel brakes. But now, as our kids have gotten older (no more nursing! no more diapers!) and we have a little more flexibility in our schedules, the travel bug has started to bite again.

I've spent time recently reflecting on the WHY behind traveling. Why spend money on it? Why explore new places? Is is really worth it?

Here are a few of the reasons that traveling is becoming a priority for our family:

-It gives us a glimpse of the beauty God created
-It helps us in becoming lifelong learners
-It allows us to have an appreciation for different types of cultures and "ways of being"
-Perhaps most importantly- travel is a reminder that the world is SO much bigger than us. So much bigger than the egocentricity of our small, everyday lives.

As I rode a very crowded subway in New York last month, and as I tried to calm the personal-space-conscious side of me (so much touching, so many smells), I reminded myself that ALL of these people were created in the image of our Almighty God. Every last one of them. Every skin color, every facial feature, every personality reflects a part of our Creator.

Traveling gives us unexpected gifts. An appreciation for the world outside of ourselves- our problems, our complaints, our comfort-zones- might be the greatest one.



One of my favorite experiences is when you sense God calling you to do something ... and as you begin to take the baby steps of obedience toward that calling, He sends you little signs of confirmation that you are doing the right thing.

For example, when you sense that you need to spend more time reading and studying the Word, so you do... a few minutes here or there when you can find the time... and a particular scripture jumps off the page and into your heart. Then, you are at church or Bible Study or in a conversation or (gasp!) on Facebook- and low and behold there is the exact.same.scripture. that spoke to you only days before!

I have had this happen to me more times than I can count. And maybe I read into things too much or am too desperate for a signal of approval, but I've always been a believer that sending us a "sign" is just another way that God can speak. It's not coincidence or chance or the universe aligning.

So when you believe that God is prompting you to do something you feel so deeply inside of you and aren't actually "qualified" to do, but you say yes to Him anyway...
And you begin to take teeny, tiny baby steps in that direction...
And then He sends you "sign" upon "sign" upon "sign" that you are headed down the right path...
What do you do?
Allow the fear and discouraging voices in your head dictate your next move?
Or trust that the God who made you knows exactly how He wants to knit together your unique gifts and experiences?

I am praying for wisdom as I search for the next step to take. I'm riddled with fear and eaten up with insecurity and self-doubt, but I will do my best to be obedient to His calling.

I don't know what God has laid on your heart, but listen carefully to what He might be whispering to you. Don't ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It just might lead to your greatest calling and the awakening of your soul.

"This is what the Lord says:
Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls."
Jeremiah 6:16

Healing Words

I came across this blog post the other day by one of my favorite writers/authors, Shauna Niequist. Read it if you have time-- it's worth it, I promise.

It got me thinking about motherhood and "using our words". I began to recall the instances that someone has taken the time to say, "You are a good mom, April" or "I love how you ____"or "I'm so proud of the parent you've become".

Last year I received a Facebook message from an adult from my childhood. Someone who I admired then and have the upmost respect for now. Her words were along these lines, "It is a joy to watch you parent...I'm praying for you... and cheering you on..."

As I read them, tears streamed down my face and I was shocked at how much I didn't even know that I needed to hear them. I inhaled them like clean, fresh, life-giving air to someone who was drowning. I had prayed earlier that day that the Lord would send some encouragement my way, as I was in a particularly challenging season of life. And as always, He was faithful to hear my cry.

So here's my point:

Maybe you are like me and motherhood, as glorious and wonderful as it is, has humbled you beyond anything you could have imagined. Maybe you are like me and motherhood has made you question your abilities and worth (and sanity!) more times than you would like to admit. Let's make a deal, ok? Let's use our words carefully, wisely, and intentionally. Let's encourage and build each other up. Let's not be afraid to give a meaningful, sincere, life-giving compliment to someone-- no strings attached.

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24

2015 Books

In need of a good read? Here are some of the books I read in 2015..
They cross a variety of genres and most (if not all) should be available at your local library or, of course, Amazon.

  • 41
  • What Alice Forgot
  • Notes from a Blue Bike
  • Maude
  • Women of the Word
  • The Hiding Place
  • Strong Mothers, Strong Sons
  • Dinner: A Love Story
  • The Circle Maker
  • Ordering Your Private World
  • The Nazi Officer's Wife
  • All the Light We Cannot See
  • The Nightingale
  • The Husband's Secret
  • Angels Walking
  • Chasing Sunsets
  • The Imitation of Wings
  • Rosemary
Happy Reading! 


Starting Again

I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately. About how God has used it as a nearly therapeutic tool in my past. A way to allow me to express my thoughts and musings about life, while also documenting the lives of my little people. Yes, we have various forms of social media that give us an avenue for photo documentation, but there is something about the written word (more than 40 characters or a few sentences) that is just so powerful. And while I might not have anything particularly profound to add to the already overly saturated blog-world, I think this is something that God has been nudging me toward for awhile now. Mostly for me and my own personal journey of faith-- but maybe for you too.


My Favorite Days 2013

2013 was a rough year for reasons far more personal than could ever be shared via a blog or social media. And quite honestly, it's not one that I'm sad to see go. However, there were so many special memories that I don't ever want to forget... and here are a few:

1. Our trip to DC was technically at the end of 2012, but I never really documented it so I'm going to include it in this list. Most everyone would agree that DC is an amazing city, but for us it is a very emotionally charged city as well. Jeremy and I got engaged, married, pregnant, and miscarried for the first time in this city. (Though we were actually engaged in NYC and married in Nashville- we still lived there during this time)

Jeremy had a work event that we tagged along for and really only had one full day in the city, but we packed it full from morning to night! We started off with breakfast at one of our favorite spots, then did some site seeing.

We ate hot dogs from street vendors...

Enjoyed some Christmas shopping...

Visited the Smithsonian...

Observed ice skaters...

I hiked up to the top of the Arlington Cemetery while the boys napped in the car...

And of course after reading a bazillion Kennedy books, visiting his grave was a must...

We ate dinner at another favorite spot, then headed to Georgetown and finished the night with Georgetown Cupcakes!

2. January 3, 2013 
On Jeremy's 33rd birthday we found out that we were having a daughter! 

3. January 4, 2013
Favorite Things Party!

4. May 8, 2013
We took Carter to a nice dinner and then to see The Lion King at TPAC. It was a complete surprise and such a magical night for both him and us! 

5. May 22, 2013

We met our daughter, Alexandra Jane. She made my dreams of having a little girl come true and is by far our biggest blessing this year!

6.  July 2013
A last minute Disney trip provided this unforgettable experience- Carter got to participate in The Lion King show at Animal Kingdom! So fun!

7. August 2013
Carter started Pre-K! We are SO SO thankful for this experience!

8. We were on the hunt for something fun to do as a family during one of the few Saturdays we were all together this fall and tried Lucky Ladd Farm for the first time. It was a huge hit! Sometimes the best days are the unexpected ones :)

9. November 15, 2013
This sweet girl and I have been friends for as long as I can remember. I'm talking 20+ years and more vacations than I can count! We finally got to see each other and catch up for a few hours over dinner at BrickTop's. She's like family to me and I seriously hope it isn't so long until the next time I see her.
{Nashville is a great town and JT may or may not be moving here.... just sayin'!}

As this year closes, I am so grateful for the fresh start that 2014 will bring. I CRAVE the new year and the new beginning it offers. Happy New Year to you all!