Taking Myself Out of the Running

When did I become obsessed with being the best?

Did it start the first time my parents applauded me for reciting every word of Beauty and the Beast? Was it in 3rd grade, when our class raced to see who could memorize all their multiplication facts first? Is it simply a product of that typical first-born mentality? I don’t know. By the time high school rolled around and the pursuit of scholarships and test scores and college acceptances was in full-swing, my desire to be the best had long-ago solidified.

You know that game “Two Truths and a Lie”? Well, here’s one of my go-to truths: I don’t know how to ride a bike. I never learned. It started out as fear: I fell one afternoon while my dad was trying to teach me to ride without training wheels, and I got scared. So much time went by before my next attempt that I decided I did not want to try again. In 4th grade, a P.E. coach unsuccessfully tried to teach me during a bike safety unit. Evan has tried to teach me once or twice since we’ve been a couple, but no luck there either. The truth is, I gave up a long time ago and decided it was something I will never know how to do. What started as a fear of skinned knees evolved into a conviction that I just wasn’t good at it, and therefore, it wasn’t worth attempting.

And because I’m nothing if not consistent, I’ve avoided anything I “knew” I couldn’t do well: bike riding, dancing, basketball, math, grilling, running, small talk. Why risk failure? Why risk embarrassment? Why look silly or disheveled or incompetent? Somewhere along the line, I began to believe that what I stood to lose in these situations was more significant that anything I might gain.

If I couldn’t be “the best” (or very, very close to it), I stopped trying.

Recently, I listened to Jamie Ivey’s conversation with Jess Connolly on The Happy Hour Podcast. Jess is someone I love to follow on-line because she is honest and forthcoming about her struggles and is great at noticing and celebrating what God’s up to in her life (or so it seems from a distance).

On this particular episode, Jess shared a phrase that was becoming her personal mantra. She said that she repeats it to herself when comparison, competition, and life threaten to overwhelm. The phrase is, “I am taking myself out of the running.”

If she was disappointed with her mothering, she’d think, “I am taking myself out of the running to be the best mom.” In business, “I am taking myself out of the running for most successful company.” On social media, “I am taking myself out of the running for the most likes and comments.”

I immediately knew that I needed this phrase in my life and my heart, and I’ve been saying it ever since.

I sometimes needs to be reminded that I’m not competing against anyone, including myself. I don’t need to be better than you or even a better version of myself. When I take myself out of the running, whatever I manage to eek out on any given day is more than enough. I don’t need to meet a self-imposed, imaginary benchmark. And there’s freedom in that.

I am setting out to do my best on any given day, and I’ve given myself permission to embrace the ebbs and flows in what that looks like. On a day when Ian requires an extra dose of patience, the laundry will need to sit unfolded. When I’m determined to finish a writing or scrapbooking project, Ian may play cars all by himself for a little longer than normal. I am learning to be ok with that give and take.

Over time, I’ve grown comfortable sharing some of my shortcomings with others. I’ll happily share that I’m not very good at managing impulse spending, that I can not wake up early to save my life, and that I almost never mop my floors. But sharing those things out loud didn’t change the fact that internally, each of them still felt like a failure.

I still feel that way sometimes. But most days, I’m learning to remind myself that when it comes to being the most frugal, waking up the earliest, or keeping the cleanest house, I am choosing to never enter the race.

Over time, with lots of self-compassion and help from Jesus, maybe I will actually get better at saving or cleaning. Maybe one day and I’ll even learn to ride a bike without training wheels. But maybe not. For the first time, I’m learning to be ok with the “maybe not.”

I have taken myself out of the running.

“I imagine that God…puts his hand on my head, on my heart, on my savage insecurities, and as he does it, he thinks thankful thoughts about me. In my best moments, when I calm down and listen closely, God says, “I didn’t ask you to become new and improved today. That wasn’t the goal. You were broken down and strange yesterday, and you still are today, and the only one freaked out about it is you.” –Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

Simply Tuesday

When I was in high school, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series was in its heyday, and some of my friends and I were just as obsessed as you’d expect a group of high school girls to be. What I loved most about those books, though, was that the characters were progressing through life at the same pace I was. When Lena was falling in love for the first time, so was I. When they graduated from high school, so did I. Each book was released with just perfect timing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I didn’t enjoy Cather in the Rye: I didn’t read it until almost the end of college, and all my angst and rebellion and wanderlust were pretty much worked out. I couldn’t relate to Holden Caufield. I simply missed my window of opportunity to truly get that book.

When I met Emily Freeman at the Writer’s Barn last fall (a full year ago, now!), I teared up as I [very awkwardly] tried to thank her for what her writing has meant to me, the way it has changed my walk with Jesus and subsequently the whole of my life.  Grace for the Good Girl and A Million Little Ways were each released with near perfect timing: they spoke to exactly what I was struggling with in that season and helped me uncover how sin manifests itself in my life. They helped me invite Jesus further in to the process of becoming more the person He made me to be. Emily’s writing has helped me learn to be more fully myself in the presence of others, and she’s helped me to embrace all the disparate parts of my life–interests and ambitions and responsibilities–and bring them all into the presence of Christ.

And now, once more, her new book, Simply Tuesday, is out, and the timing seems perfect.

I have been struggling with my smallness lately. I’ve been pretty open about the fact that leaving my job at the church (which had felt significant, life-giving, and kingdom-building) has been hard for me, as has moving away from our friends and community. No one expected it to be easy, right? But what I didn’t see coming was the ugly stuff in my heart and mind that this process would reveal, and a large part of the challenge has been confessing and recognizing that along the way. Moving and leaving my job revealed that I was carrying around an awful lot of pride.

The truth is, I like feeling known, significant, and influential. The prideful part of my heart took some pleasure in knowing that it mattered whether or not I showed up to church on a Sunday morning, not simply because I have value as a child of God or member of the community, but because my job description said so. My friend Eddie recently Tweeted, “One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned about myself is that being insanely busy has way more to do with ego than with time management.” That’s true for me as well. I like feeling important. It’s not pretty, it sounds arrogant, and I know it. But it’s the truth.

Now, stripped of the job title, I find myself looking for worth in a million different ways and spending a lot of my mental energy thinking about what I’m going to do next, instead of perhaps asking, “Who is God asking me to become? What does this small moment hold for me?”

In Simply Tuesday, Emily shares the stories and discoveries that have helped her embrace “small-moment living in a fast-moving world.” Part of that transformation happened when her husband left his job as a youth pastor, and while I’ve been following that journey through Emily’s blog the past few years, I hadn’t made the connection to my own journey until picking up the book. Emily writes about that, about her own journey as a writer and mom and friend and Jesus-follower, and each page felt like looking into a mirror.

My life feels small right now. I don’t have deadlines to meet or an overflowing e-mail inbox. No one is waiting for me to tell them where and when they need to show up or asking my opinion on curriculum. And I hate admitting it but the truth is, I have felt like something was missing and that I was less valuable without it. (And this is just when it comes to vocation and work…I could go on and on about motherhood and community and social media and all the other ways this is manifesting itself.)

“I know the pain of inefficiency, the addiction of ambition, the longing to build something important, and the disappointment that comes when the outcome looks different than I thought.”

Simply Tuesday is helping me remember that Jesus always chose the smaller, simpler way. “He came as a baby, small among men. He began to build his kingdom in the womb of young Mary. Jesus himself arrived small on earth, but he was not insufficient or lacking in significance. Simply, he did not hold on to his own glory.” When Jesus talked about faith, he talked about small things: salt, yeast, and mustard seeds. He distanced himself from the crowds, and asked his friends not to talk about his miracles, and built the kingdom but without seeking glory for himself. It’s the strangest of paradoxes, but it makes me love him all the more.

I have felt what Emily calls “the pain of smallness,” because I have been striving to build a life and manufacture influence: dismissing “small” as a negative thing, though it was subconscious most of the time. Instead, I’m now learning to embrace small, to accept the life that Christ is building within me.

“I’m figuring out how to walk with Christ into my day, into Target, into church, into the kitchen, and most importantly, into the lives of other people. Christ doesn’t stop being relevant just because I’m standing at my sink, cleaning out my closet, meeting or coffee, driving to the bank…Sometimes, that’s what prayer is. Simply inviting God to join us where we actually are, not because he isn’t already here but because inviting him reminds us that it’s true.”

I have underlined almost the entire book. It is dog-eared and sticky-noted and has been pulled off the bookshelf a million times. I cried my way through certain chapters and paragraphs, and when I read the prayers at the end of each section, I actually had to stop and put the book down and close my eyes and say, “Amen,” because I knew how profoundly true Emily’s words were and needed to be in my life.

Truthfully, I feel more healed and whole, and I didn’t know I needed healing before I set out. I’m more grateful for the job I held, the team I led, the ministry I was a part of.  I’m also no longer resentful of the small in my life, and as Emily writes, “small is my new free.”

Paying attention and finding enough

Ian has entered a new phase in which he demands asks me to play with him. He says things like, “Mama sit” or “Mama drive blue car,” or “Mama walk house,” while pushing me out of the kitchen and into the living room. (Sometimes, he even throws in “Yes pwease, Mama,” which melts my heart every dang time.) This small development is hardly earth-shattering but is one of the changes that makes me think, “Oh man. He is such a big boy now!” I plop my very-pregnant self onto the floor and we drive Hot Wheels around, roll a soccer ball back and forth, or read a Pete the Cat book.


At the same time, I’m super grateful that he is often content to play by himself. (I often quip that he’s an introverted baby, and maybe this is evidence of that fact.) A few days ago, he was contentedly playing in his room: pulling plastic animals in and out of his big red barn, flipping through Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, helping his stuffed animals “walk” around the room. I decided it was a good time to put away the two baskets of clean laundry currently overflowing in my bedroom. (One nice thing about our teeny-tiny upstairs is that I can hear what Ian’s up to no matter which room we’re each in.)

I walked into our room, plopped a laundry basket onto the bed, and thought, “I should run downstairs to grab my phone.” My thought was that I could check the time and listen to a podcast while I sorted and folded. Normally, I would have done just that without a second thought or moment’s hesitation, but on this particular afternoon, I paused at the top of the stairs and something prompted me to think, “You don’t need to know what time it is every second of the day, and putting the laundry away is productive enough.”

I don’t like how attached I am to my phone. I know it’s probably a trendy, cliche thing to say right now: “We’re addicted! We’re distracted! #millenialproblems” I certainly am addicted to and distracted by my phone. It’s like when I’m driving down the interstate and see a police car approaching in my review mirror, or when I can’t focus on my dinner because I know a chocolate cake is waiting in the kitchen for dessert, or like being at work and wondering if I left the iron on at home. I am always subtly (or not so subtly) aware of it’s presence, listening for notification pings and wondering what’s happening on social media. My phone is in the always background, sucking my attention and focus.

But to be honest, I’m not even so worried about the distraction. I know that when absolutely necessary, I can muster up the self-control to focus. I’m more concerned about what my continual reaching for the phone reveals about a dangerous refrain that’s playing on repeat in my head: not enough, not enough, not enough.

Putting laundry away isn’t productive enough, so I put on a podcast so I’m learning something at the same time. My living room doesn’t like enough like something Joanna Gaines would create, so I scroll through Pinterest for suggestions as to how I might rearrange my bookshelf or gallery wall. My outfit isn’t trendy enough, so I visit some fashion blogs to see if there’s a style I can copy. Catching up on Project Runway or The Tonight show isn’t entertaining enough, so I scroll through Twitter at each commercial break.


Every time I reach for my phone, I’m saying that the life I’m living in that moment is simply not enough for me: not beautiful, entertaining, productive, stylized, trendy, fulfilling enough. I reach for my phone in a subconscious attempt to imbue my moments with more value than they hold on their own, and in the process, I’m revealing a lack of gratitude and appreciation for the innumerable gifts that sit in front of me, waiting for me to pay attention.

Full attention.

On this particular afternoon, I made the better choice. I noticed the value of the moment, the small grace-gifts that were overflowing, just the same way that socks and t-shirts spilled out from the laundry basket. The familiar fresh scent of dryer sheets. The soft worn cotton of Ian’s dinosaur t-shirt, almost too small for him to wear. The funny way Ian talks to himself while he plays, repeating certain phrases and talking loudly just because he can. The chorus of birds singing in the backyard, their voices coming in strong through the bedroom window. The cool breeze that hints at the autumn to come.


So many gifts, each more than enough on its own and almost overwhelmingly good when all together. Each more than deserving of a double-tap, but not one of them needing it.

What a day of following taught me about saying “yes.”

Ian’s birthday was very low-key: a normal day, hanging out at my parents’ house during our vacation, opening presents and eating cake with my parents and sisters at the end of the day. Knowing that would be the case, I found myself wondering what I could do to make his day extra fun and enjoyable without making it complicated. (Of course, I knew that as a 2 year old, he wouldn’t remember the details of our day, but I still wanted to help him have a good time in the midst of it.)


As I thought about it, I remembered how Elise recently wrote that on her daughter’s birthday, it was her goal to say “yes” as much as possible. Let’s be honest: Ian is a loud, messy, stubborn, silly, get-into-everything toddler. I say “no” quite a bit, or at the very least, I redirect and make alternative suggestions. (Which are often ignored or rebelled against.) I decided Ian’s birthday was a good day to say “yes” more often.

I said “yes” to riding those electronic car in the mall, which I normally walk past very quickly. (You know the ones? The red plastic race car and pretend ice cream truck?) I said “yes” to running around Grandma & Grandpa’s backyard despite the 95-degree heat, and I said “yes” to 3 packages of fruit snacks. I said “yes” when he asked to push his stroller around the store. (Within reason. When he started careening into walls and getting dangerously close to people’s ankles, I stepped in. Had to draw the line somewhere, you know?)

It wasn’t revolutionary or life-changing. I doubt Ian noticed a difference in our day. But you know what? I did.

When it was his bedtime, I was more relaxed than normal. I wasn’t worrying about the power struggles we had that day (though we still had some). Instead of my typical “There’s still much more to do!” feeling, I felt good about what had been accomplished (which was, objectively speaking, not much of anything). The difference was tangible, and I spent days asking why that was.


When it comes to life as a stay at home mom, I’ve felt the need to approach each day with a plan. I like to know what we’re doing, when, and how: I like to plan outings, to know exactly when Ian is going to eat and nap, to know what is for lunch each day. On the one hand, routine is good for both Ian and me, and I’m in a better frame of mind when I avoid decision fatigue.

But after Ian’s birthday, it occurred to me that maybe those behaviors don’t simply reflect a desire for routine, but for control. I like to set the agenda, and I don’t like to deviate from it. This made teaching hard for me, because I couldn’t always control when my students were absent, when thunderstorms meant no recess, or when a parent-teacher conference went poorly. Similarly, this tendency made children’s ministry hard for me when my job responsibilities changed four times in less than 3 years. And no surprise, this can cause an awful lot of frustration when parenting a toddler, who seems to wake up with his own agenda every day.

Reflecting on my days with Ian, I see now that I have so many opportunities to listen to what Ian wanted and let him set the agenda. Because he’s a child, I fall into the mentality of thinking, “I’m in charge.” And truly, I am…but I don’t need to be at every moment. When I want to go to Target, but Ian says, “No bye-bye. I want ball,” we don’t always have to go to Target.

After all, don’t we often express love to someone by doing something the he or she wants to do? I watch UCF football with Evan, and I listen to my sister talk about CrossFit, and I choose a restaurant I know my friend enjoys. Sometimes, that’s how we love people best. Relationships are not meant to be about control.

When I set an agenda, I measure the day’s worth (and often, my worth) by what I did or didn’t accomplish. Did I cross everything off my to-do list? Did I meet all the goals I set? Normally, the answer is no, and I’m left thinking more about what the day lacked instead of all that it held.

When I decided it was Ian’s turn to set the agenda, I needed to assume that very little would be accomplished and that made me feel FREE. My day had only one purpose: let Ian do what he wanted. Mall rides and fruit snacks not withstanding, most of what he wanted is what he wants every day: play with cars, sing songs, run around outside. But I was able to enjoy it immensely more, because I wasn’t sitting around thinking about what else needed to be done. My worth wasn’t tied to the outcome.

Of course, I’ve started wondering how this affects the other relationships in my life, especially with Jesus. If I am bent on setting the agenda every single day, how can I be in relationship with someone who’s primary request to his disciples was, “Follow me”? I don’t want to boss my children around just because I can. Instead, I want to live life alongside them, paying attention to how they are experiencing the world on that given day, and enter into their experiences. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and pray, “Jesus, here is my plan for today. You are welcome to show up and cooperate with it.” I want to say, “Jesus, I invite you into my day. Show me how to walk with you.”

I can trust that my agenda is less important than loving the people around me well, and I can trust that my agenda will not leave me feeling fulfilled in the same as that surrendering to the ways of Jesus.

“I’m learning…how to bring my nothing into the presence of Christ, and simply be with him–no agenda, no checklist, no accomplishing allowed…My agenda isn’t the most important one and, many times, may not be important at all. Knowing this is a great first step toward cultivating a lightness of heart.” –Emily Freeman, Simply Tuesday

“…we enter the lifelong process of no longer arranging the world and the people on our terms. We embrace what is given to us–people, spouse, children, forests, weather, city–just as they are given to us, and sit and stare, look and listen until we begin to see and hear the God-dimensions in each gift, and engage with what God has given, with what he is doing. Every time we set out, leaving our self-define or culture-defined state, leaving behind our partial and immature projects, a wider vista opens up before us, a landscape with larger promise.” –Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way

I want to lead less and follow more, because I’m learning that therein lies freedom.

My job to do

While listening to a podcast the other day, I heard a passing reference to King David doing the work God had set out for him to do, and I’ve been mulling that over: picturing the small shepherd boy in the field, slinging a stone at Goliath. I don’t really compare myself to David very often; he’s not the person in Scripture I relate to most easily. But the way I read this story still shows me a lot about the way comparison functions in my life.

When I read the account of David and Goliath, I immediately begin comparing David to his brothers and the other Israelite soldiers who are supposed to be responsible for fighting the Goliath and his Philistine army. I look at them and think that they were weak, they were fearful, they were defeatist, and they didn’t trust God. I’m not saying I blame them for it, but it’s certainly how they come across. In comparison, David looks pretty good. He clearly seems like the only guy for the job. Logically, that must be why God chose him.

But now I’m not so sure that’s actually how it works.

We know that David was a young shepherd, and that’s what makes the story seem amazing–someone who was smaller and weaker and had less training could accomplish the task. We all love a good underdog. And then of course, we think about how David seems exceptionally brave.

I no longer think that’s the point. I’ve decided that it’s completely irrelevant how big, how well-equipped, how well-trained, how trusting, or how courageous David was. I’m no expert in ancient weaponry, so it’s possible that this required exceptional skill I don’t understand, but I imagine there were likely other soldiers within Saul’s army who could have accomplished the same task if it occurred to them. God didn’t care if David was “more” or “less” anything.

Only one thing mattered: defeating Goliath was a task God chose for David. This was just going to be his job.

I spend a lot of time obsessing about what characteristics and habits I need to develop or rid myself of, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what circumstances in my life need to change. Before I can write a book, I need more alone time, more practice, more self-discipline, and a better story. Before I can parent this new baby well, I need more time, more money, more energy, more patience. Before I feel at home in Grand Rapids, I need more friends, a more adventurous spirit, fewer home projects to tackle.

And that’s just looking at myself; I do the same thing when I compare myself to other people. If I was more independent like so-and-so, I’d better manage Evan’s long work hours. If it was more self-assured like that writer, I wouldn’t second-guess myself. If I was a morning person like that friend, I’d be more productive.

I’ve understood that none of these thoughts were exactly helpful, but I still believed they were true. Now I’m not so sure.

I think God’s called me to do a few things:

1. Write.

2. Be Evan’s wife.

3. Parent Ian and his new little brother.

4. Love God, love people, exactly where I am, with what I have.

It’s not exactly an easy assignment, but neither was confronting a 9-foot tall, combative and belligerent soldier. It’s not an easy assignment, but it’s mine.

Comparison is something I wrestle with constantly, and to not compare is something I must choose moment-by-moment. I don’t always choose well, but when I fall into the comparison trap, I can remind myself that it’s not important how I measure up compared to any other person or even yesterday’s version of myself. My “success” in any of these roles can’t be measured on a ruler or a scale. Just like David, I can only respond with a “yes” or a “no.” One yes is all it takes, and I can trust that God is with me as I go.

Summer Manifesto Wrap-Up


At the beginning of the summer, I sat down and made a list of all the things I wanted our family to do this season. I knew some things would happen whether they were written down anywhere or not, like Ian’s birthday and Evan’s soccer games. At the same time, I knew the opportunity for other things might slip by if I didn’t intentionally seek it out, like eating dinner on the porch or making homemade ice cream.

At the same time, I was very aware of the fact that in the midst of our attempts to make everything Pinterest and Instagram worthy, there seemed to be an awful lot of pressure on summertime this year. Or rather, the pressure was on us to make summertime awesome. I wasn’t so much interested in that. What I DID want to do was enjoy what Grand Rapids has to offer in the summer because it’s our first summer here. I wanted to enjoy this time with Ian before the new baby joins us this fall.

So, I made a list and started calling it our “Summer Manifesto,” inspired by what Ali Edwards does each year. As I wrote it up, it occurred to me that a “manifesto” and a to-do list (even a “bucket list”) are two very different things. Maybe this is semantics, but it seems to me that one casts vision while the other gives…well, boxes to check off. So after I had my checklist, I looked back over it and asked, “What’s the theme?” What verbs did I repeat often, and what types of activities seem to feature prominently?

And I landed on our 2015 Summer Manifesto:

We will relax.

We will explore.

We will get outside.

We will celebrate.

(In retrospect, I think I should have added “We will eat,” if you’re judging based on the most prominent types of activities…ha!)

And That’s it! I put together a super fast 8.5×11 scrapbook page with the manifesto and checklist, and I stuck it up on our fridge. Nothing revolutionary, for sure. But it helped shaped my expectations for what I wanted to do this summer, and it helped us make the most of our days.

In the end, here’s what we didn’t do:

-We never had a picnic at the park.

-We did not put Ian in swimming lessons.

-We did not visit Mackinac Island.

-We didn’t go to the zoo. (Though Ian did go to the zoo one day with his Gram while Evan and I were in Chicago celebrating our anniversary. So I’ll give partial credit for that one.)

-And we didn’t make homemade lemonade.

Of those, the only one I’m truly disappointed about is that we didn’t get Ian in swimming lessons. (Aren’t we horrible Floridians? ha!) But I’d say that 18 out of 23 items is pretty good. Each time I walked past our fridge, I loved having a reminder of all we had been up to lately and a bunch of ideas for things we could do when time and energy allowed. Evan and I can both be pretty indecisive, so it was nice to have ideas at the ready.

Not to mention, people in Michigan seem to really make the most of their summers. There was more happening in Grand Rapids each week than we could have ever done. I guess that’s what happens when you basically need to hibernate 6 months out of the year; you enjoy the good weather when you get it. I’m accustomed to never wanting to go outside during Florida summers, because the heat and I do not get along. A Michigan summer was a lovely change of pace.


Now I’ll just slip this page into a scrapbook album and always have a little record of what we were up to in the summer of 2015. That’s one of the added benefits of this: even if I never do another scrapbook page to document this summer, I already have a glimpse of what was important to us, what exciting things happened, and what we were up to in this season.

I’m planning on writing up an autumn manifesto, too. I started brainstorming ideas this morning, and I’ll be sure to share that here soon.

Dear Baby (32 weeks)

Hello, little one.

This afternoon I had my 32 week prenatal appointment to see how you’re growing and make sure you’re happy in there. It seems that you are: lots of squirming, a strong (and loud!) heartbeat, getting bigger every day. So much to be grateful for right there!

Meanwhile, we haven’t yet settled on a name for you. We have two front-runners: Leo and Jonah. (Ian likes to say, “baby Leo” but won’t attempt to say “Jonah,” so maybe we should take that as a sign?) I keep trying to convince your dad that we must decide right this minute, but as usual, he reminds me that we still have time. With both you and your brother, I’ve felt strongly that choosing a name is just a big deal.

I was reading The Jesus Way while your brother ate his breakfast. The author was writing about the importance names play in the narrative of Scripture, especially in the Torah. And he said this:

“A name is a seed. When it germinates it becomes a story.” –Eugene Peterson

It’s so hard for me to imagine what you might be like and how our family rhythms will shake out when we become a team of four. But this I do know: God keeps writing his story of grace and love and community within our family, and you have a role to play. Long before your dad and I could even have dreamt about you, your story was written.

I sit here and wonder about your forthcoming sleep patterns and how stubborn or flexible you will be. I stare at calendar pages and fret over when you’ll arrive, and if your birth will coincide with your grandmothers’ travel plans. I wonder about how smoothly (or not) labor will go and how smoothly (or not) nursing will go after that. I consider whether Ian will be sweet and affectionate or annoyed by your cries, and I repeatedly count how many long-sleeved onesies we own.

But you know what? All of those details pale in comparison to the reality that you are our son, and you always have been. From the very beginning, God has been crafting and writing your story: your sleep patterns and growth spurts; your injuries and adventures; your desires, missteps, and dreams.

What an amazing story it’s going to be, little guy. I’m so glad I get to be a part of it!