Friday, May 31, 2013


I haven't been this worn out in a very long time. I worked 92 hours a week one summer in San Francisco and lived in an abandoned school building. Hardest summer of my life. That's kind of how I feel right now.

Brody was sick for almost two weeks. He woke up every 2 hours at night, wanting to be held and nursed. So I would hold him and nurse him, because he was sick and miserable and it was the only thing that comforted him. About 5 minutes after Brody got better, Liam got a cold. Runny nose, cough, just doesn't feel good. I got back injections last week, and I'm hopeful they will help heal my back, but right now it just HURTS. When I bend over to pick up Brody, it feels like it might just snap. And, I got two moles removed on Wednesday. They were small and only needed one stitch each, but they hurt. After I put Brody down last night, I just laid on our bedroom floor, crying. Spent.

Sometimes, when things are tough with the kids, going to work is like a vacation. No one pulling on me, crying in my face, I don't have to wipe anyone else's nose or bottom. But lately I've just felt divided. Like I'm only half myself at work, missing my boys so much. And when I get home, I'm so worn out from trying to cram in everything that needs to be done, that I'm exhausted and just want the kids to sit and play quietly... which hasn't happened yet! I end up answering work emails while I'm nursing and replying to texts while pushing the swing. I usually have a rule where I don't do any work while I'm with my kids so I can be present. I like that rule and it works well. But there wasn't any Mother's Day Out this week and I had to juggle my work and kids. That's the beauty of my job, it's so very flexible and I'm so thankful to work somewhere where I can walk down the hall and feed Brody, where I can take my kids to the doctor when they're sick. I have so much to be thankful for every day. But today I'm tired.

I wanted to have an upswing to the end of this post. How God showed me something beautiful and changed my life through this time of being tired. Nope. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Today I'm just tired.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My heart is heavy with the tragic loss of life from the tornadoes in Moore yesterday. As I think about it and try to go on with my daily tasks, my eyes are filled with tears. In light of such heartache, I am choosing today to find ways to show God's kindness to others.  My prayer is for God to have mercy on those who are mourning the loss of life and property. Days like these make me long for heaven. 

As I was getting ready for work and looking for a necklace this morning, I stumbled across this box:

And inside, is one of my most precious possessions, a tiny starfish. You know that cheesy poem, where a man is walking along the beach and sees another man picking up a starfish out of the multitude of starfish, and throwing it back in the water? And then the man bends down, picks up another, and throws it to safety? The first man asks why he is doing it. There are so many starfish, what difference could he possibly make? "It made a difference to that one," was the second man's reply. That is my life's goal. My purpose. 

I spent two weeks in Mexico every summer during high school. Tijuana, the "armpit of the western hemisphere." One summer, as we were building houses and de-liceing kids in a local dump, I met a woman named Maria. Maria's husband had recently died from AIDS and she was trying to raise her four kids, the youngest, Elisabeth, was probably 6 months old. At the end of my time there, Maria asked me if I would take Elisabeth home with me and adopt her. I was 16 years old. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't take Elisabeth with me. That night, the leaders gave each one of us a tiny starfish and reminded us that we can do something every day to help someone else. I did what I could for Maria and Elisabeth while I was in Mexico and I still think about them and wonder what became of them. But the starfish image stuck with me. 

Sometimes I wonder why God has me in this job right now. And then I think of two little girls whose mommy "took too much medicine" and died. I hug those girls extra tight when I see them and I think of the starfish. God has be here to give mommy hugs when someone doesn't have a mommy who can hug them right now. God has me here to be a lap to sit on, to be someone to give a high five after a stunning performance of "I Dropped My Dolly in the Dirt" during a talent show. I get to be the hands and feet and arms and tears of Jesus. Not all the time. Sometimes I am the Xerox-copy-making hands of Jesus. Or the volunteer-calling voice of Jesus. Or the ordering-VBS-supplies hands of Jesus. It gets mundane. It gets frustrating. But today I remember the starfish. 

Since we are not there yet, I want to bring heaven to earth, even though my impact may be small. Will you join me?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hurry Sickness

I learned an important lesson last Monday. My mom watches the boys on Mondays and it was my second week back to work and I was running really late. My chest was tight from stressing out about trying to get us all packed up (it takes so much planning and STUFF to get ready for the day!) and out the door. I felt like I couldn't breathe because I hate being late…

I got the kids to my mom’s and was racing out the door to drive to work. Liam was playing with some blocks and said, “Mommy, sit down please. Play blocks.” I hesitated for a second and then said, “Sorry, baby. Mommy has to go to work.” I hugged him and kissed him and left. And sobbed, I mean blubbered, the whole way to work.

What an awful feeling! I was sad the whole day and missed my boys. When I got back to my mom’s I told her how sad I was all day. She told me that there is nothing so important at work that couldn't wait for me to sit down and play blocks with my kid for five minutes. I would have saved myself a day of heartache by just sitting down for a few minutes. And after a few minutes, Liam would have been done with me anyway and ready to do something else.

I love my boys so much and want to do what’s best for them every day. I hate it when I mess up but I’m learning and re-learning that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. I want to learn from my mistakes and be a better parent and one way to do that is to slow down and soak up the precious moments with my kids.

There is a chapter in the book, The Good and Beautiful God, that talks about “hurry sickness.” I have hurry sickness. I don’t want to pass it on to my kids. My prayer is that I will seek the Cure every day instead of losing myself in the midst of hurry. 

Monday, March 18, 2013


As 2012 turned to 2013, I spent the month of January asking God what he wanted for my 2013. I didn't feel like I needed to make a list of resolutions, I was already maxed out on things like that.

 This pregnancy was difficult for me. It wasn't high risk or difficult in that sense, its just that I spent 22 weeks throwing up and then the last 6 weeks in a wheelchair because my back and hip were "out". It was humbling to roll around church in a wheelchair and I think I learned a lot from that time, but more on that later.

After asking God what he wanted for 2013, I felt like he was saying that he wants me to be a human-being rather than a human-doing. I find my worth in what I do. I have as long as I can remember. And to change to being a human-being would be a big step. One that I long to take. I want to rest. Really rest. And not let my mind go a zillion miles per hour, thinking of all the things I should be doing. Laundry. Emptying the dish washer. Returning work emails. Reading to my kids. Loving my husband better. Blogging. I spend a whole lot of time thinking about what I should be doing. Even when I do try to relax, I jump up and start doing again. I feel like I must do the right things to earn my worth. To my husband, co-workers, kids, parents, friends.

 How do I learn to just be? It's easy for me to see it as being lazy. But what if there really is something to slowing down the pace and breathing in God's grace? Not being tempted by the Siren song of busyness and accomplishment. Of finding my worth in how much I did or did not accomplish that day. It's a difficult balance that I can't seem to maintain for more than a few minutes at a time. I pray that God will hold my hand and walk me through this, minute by minute.

What if I were someone who exudes grace and peace? That's what I want. I'm not saying change my personality, but to change how I respond to life. To change how I breathe and live and react and work. I'm certain that can only come by spending time in God's presence. It is a natural outcome to time spent with the Father. And I see how it's glaringly missing from my life. I miss God. I miss time spent in his presence. I hate to write that. Especially since I am a children's pastor. I just went to Facebook and deleted the post I just made with the link to my blog because I don't want to be that transparent. The times I've encountered God recently have quenched my thirsty soul. I don't get to go to worship on Sunday mornings because I'm working. We lead worship for the kids and I teach every other week, but it takes a lot more out of me than I get back. I leave Sundays feeling utterly drained with not an ounce of anything left to give.

Maternity leave has been great because I've been able to go to Sunday school and worship with Kyle. I feel my soul soaking up the nourishment every minute that I'm there.

I don't know the answer to slowing down and being more than doing. But, really, I guess I do. I want to be in God's presence and learn from him. Jesus says to take his yoke upon me because he is gentle and humble. That is my prayer. To walk in sync with Jesus. To be yoked with him. To stand next to him so that when a snarky comment is about to slip past my lips, he puts his hand on mine as a reminder to bite my tongue. And eventually, maybe the snarky comment won't even cross my mind.

 This post has been rambling and I'm not sure the point. More of a "dear diary" moment than anything else. But these things are ratting around in my head and I so desire to take a step back from my need to do. I want to be. A child of God. A wife. A mom. A children's pastor. All soaked in God's calming, healing presence.

Brody's Birth Story

I have twice as many kids as when I last posted a year ago. Brody Andrew Westfall was born January 24, one day after his due date, just like his big brother. I was scheduled to be induced the morning of the 24th so we dropped Liam at my parents' house after dinner on the 23rd. I'd been having contractions off and on for over a week and was 5cm dilated, so we knew he was coming soon either way. Some contractions had started about 5pm at our house, and were about 10 minutes apart. We got to my parents' and they stopped for about 30 minutes. They started back up on the way back to our house and were about 6 minutes apart for about 2 hours. Finally, Kyle asked what I thought we should do, since I was already dilated, etc. I said we should probably go to the hospital. As I stood up, I had another contraction that lasted 60 seconds and then started having contractions every minute and a half! Kyle was trying to prod me along to the car, but I kept having to stop for another contraction. The drive to the hospital was like you see on TV shows. I was having contractions every 90 seconds and hollering like they do on TV. I hate when they holler. I would roll the windows down and holler out the window (it was 10:30 at night so there weren't many cars) because no one likes to listen to hollering with the windows up! As I was being wheeled to labor and delivery, we passed my friend's mother-in-law. My friend, Megan, was in labor, too! (She beat me by 2 hours and had her baby girl that night). When I got to the delivery room, I was 8cm and the nurse said she didn't think I had time for an epidural. I assured her that we DID have time and that I was most definitely going to have an epidural. I made Kyle attend 21 hours of natural birthing class for Liam and ended up having an epi at 7cm, 13 hours into a 19 hour labor. Best decision of my life. So this time around, it wasn't even a consideration to NOT have one. The nurse was so nice and sped my blood work up and got an anesthesiologist to come. By then I was 9cm but she told him I was 8 so he'd still give me the epidural! After the epidural, I could still feel pain on my right side, but I think it helped me push. It took over 2 hours of pushing to get Liam ("old Big-Head") out so anything less than that was going to feel like a breeze. I was so surprised when Brody came after about 10 minutes of pushing! It's so funny how things can be so different the second time around. Things seem so much easier with your 2nd baby. I'm much more relaxed and feel like taking care of Brody comes so naturally. I'm not saying it's easy all the time though, things are so much harder sometimes with two. Like trying to get one down for a nap when the other is crying. Or playing a toy trumpet. But I love having my two boys. They bring me so much joy and make me laugh every day.