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Monday, August 22, 2016

In which I become a free woman.

After a week of intense preparation and checking off supplies from my four (very long) lists of supplies, I saw my kiddos off for their first day of school!

This year is quite significant as it is the first year that all four of the children will be in school for a full day! Yes. You read that correctly- This mama will be child-free for about 5 whole hours, 5 days a week! I feel like I might be in a dream, that this really is too good to be true, that someone will be waking me up real soon and breaking the news to me that this was not reality.

In order to fully aprreciate this moment with me, you must understand the extent to which I have sacrificed alone time for the sake of mothering. I have never had a nanny nor a consistent, designated babysitter. Thank God for grandparents and godparents and good friends who have taken the children in so hubby and I could enjoy date nights or even weekend getaways as the kids got older. 

Nevertheless, with hubby working full time, guess who has been with the children every day for 95% of the time for almost 11 years. Yep. That would be me. That is not to mention the fact that not one of them has ever set foot in a day care or an after school program or a summer camp, for that matter. Not only that, but I exclusivley breastfed three of them for nearly 18 months each. This meant they slept in the bed with me (usually smack dab in between hubby and I). I forgot what  it felt like to have good night's sleep. I had a perpetual crick in my neck. This meant that there was not more than 2-4 hours that I was without them for the first year and a half of their lives. 

Needless to say, it got real. My time devoted to mothering has been thrilling as well as intense. Having babies and toddlers in tow often meant my plans went awry. I have laughed and I have also shed many tears of frustration, sometimes feeling trapped and longing for time alone. I have nurtured. I have cuddled. I have read many books and sang many songs. I have been a madwoman. I have been a "mean mommy" at times. Many an evening, as my husband walked in the house coming from work, I was grabbing car keys and walking out of the house without saying a word. All you heard was the screeching of the car as I wizzed out of the driveway. It seems as though, in some ways, those days are over. And, as crazy, mixed up, and twisted as this may sound: I am a little sad about it.

I guess that is just the paradox that defines motherhood. As much as you want to get away from your kids, you can't stand to be without them. As much as you want them to hurry up and grow up, you miss their tiny little hands and sweet little hugs. I know that no season can last forever. So, although I did cry a few tears today as I thought about how I no longer have any babies at home,  I am also looking forward to and leaning into new adventures as a mom and as an individual

Here is a photo taken on the first day of school last year. 

Noelle - 4th grade, Bella - 3rd grade, Noah - 1st grade, Halle - Preschool. (2015-2016 School Year)

Here is the picture I took of them this morning.

 Noelle - 5th grade, Bella - 4th grade, Noah - 2nd grade, Halle - Kindergarten. (2016-2017 School Year)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bedside Bookstack

Raise your hand if you agree that there are not many things better than the beggining stages of digging into a new book. I am with you!

Isn't something how the books we read can become such a central part of who we are? This is especially true of those books we read and re-read over and over again. It's true of those books that become "life reference materials" in which we revisit and reference along various seasons of life. Below is a photo of some of the most defining books that have shaped my current thinking about my relationship with God, myself, my husband, my children, and my friends.

Do you have a bedside bookstack or some books that have had great impact on your life? Which ones? Feel free to share a photo of them in the comments section!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Unexpected Summer Blessings

I will tell you something about me. Every single time the season changes, I get giddy with excitement. There is something about the feeling that something new is on the horizon, that there is room for new possibilities or another chance to really dig my heels in and make "it" happen. "It" can be a variety of things and it depends on which season is upon me.

As summer vacation approached this year, I had that same giddy excitement. I was eager for the school year to end. I had plans to really get my workouts in, to take my children to the splash pad park, to the track, to the new Super Walmart that just opened by my house! Nevertheless, I injured my knee at the start of the summer and was in a car accident a few weeks later.

This meant: no car, no workouts, no splashpad park, no track, and no Super Walmart (at least not that depended on my driving there :-). Did I have my lip poked out? You better believe it. Needless to say,  in spite of moments of dissapointment, God always seems to find a way to make challenging or dissapointing setbacks into exciting new adventures or unexpected blessings. He did that for me this summer, for sure.

Being in the predicament I was in, I discovered something important: I have a lot of folks who love me enough to make sure I have a way to be carted around town.

Not only was I overwhelmed by some friends of ours who let us drive their minivan for weeks, other friends ensured that I could get to the stores if needed, to the airport when I went out of town, and even just out of the house so I did not lose my mind! What a display of love and generosity I have felt!

In addition to these displays of love, there were many highlights this summer. One was that hubby and I took the children to a water park and a state fair. We had so much fun and made new memories. The kids are at an age where they have a pretty seriously funny sense of humor and I enjoyed them throwing me in a waterfall and their exctiement around the water slides, rides, and a hotel stay. It reminded me that you don't have to break the bank to have a good time and that simplicity is key. My children are growing up so fast, so I live for these moments!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Project Purity

Project Purity  is dedicated to supporting singles in discovering purpose in their journey of becoming whole. They are also a group of men and women who encourage celibacy in a way that is attainable in your dating and pursuit of marriage.

Each month, Project Purity features married couples who share their stories of the dating process and life after marriage. Singles, wouldn't you like to know what married life is really about from the marital perspective? Check out this month's couples and read about their journey of marriage!

Kenneth and I were happy to participate in an interview and be featured as one of the featured couples. Below is a snippet of our interview. Jump over and check out the rest of it here!

Kenneth & LaSandra Hutchinson

Length of marriage: 12 years

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We went to high school together. Kenneth can remember the first time he saw me freshman year in English class,room 108. He still describes what I was wearing that day. We began our friendship during sophmore year while in World History class.

2. What are your views on marriage?

We view marriage as a blessing from the Lord, an opportunity to experience love and companionship. It also refines your character and causes you to have to really grapple with your own shortcomings.

3. How has it changed you?

Marriage has helped both of us to mature. We have grown in selflessness, in mercy, and compassion. Both of us have become more of who God has ordained us to be through the marriage as well. We both push the other towards their destiny and have supported each other.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It is Finished!

Hubby and I were married by the time we were 21 and 22, parents by 23 and 24, homeowners and parents of 4 kiddos by 28 and 29. Needless to say, our twenties were jam packed by life changing and beautiful moments as well as major responsibilities. In many ways, those years are a blur. A few years ago, when we began to evaluate where we were and were we headed as a family, we felt strongly that there were some desired steps that we had not taken.

Being the sole breadwinner, my hubby had focused much of his energies on being successful in the workplace and supporting his family. Nevertheless, we both agreed that for what we hoped to accomplish in the earth during our time here, graduate school was still on our life's to-do list. We found out about a great Masters program that equips professionals with leadership, management, and effective communication skills at our alma mater, Northwestern University. Hubby applied, was accepted, and began classes in fall 2015.

It has not been not easy. Hubby has been in class nearly every Saturday since September. There were many late nights and assignments that were done on airplanes and in cars when he had to travel for work. There have been moments of sacrifice and sheer exhaustion. However, my hubby has completed all of his program requirements and will graduate this Saturday!

I am super proud of my husband for investing in himself and accomplishing one of his goals! On to the next!

Do you have dreams or goals you have put off for a more convienent time or because of fear? I am here to tell you, its not too late!
“People generally fall into one of three groups: the few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen, and the overwhelming majority who have no notion of what happens. Every person is either a creator of fact or a creature of circumstance. He either puts color into his environment, or, like a chameleon, takes color from his environment.”      ― Myles Munroe, Understanding Your Potential

World Changing - Haiti Missions Trip 2016

We are half way through 2016 and there are many exciting details to share!

One of my favorite happens to be that hubby attended his first "formal" missions trip in July! The missions trip was sponsored by our church and the team had such an amazing time. Below are some pictures on my hubby hanging out with members of the missions team and preaching the gospel in Haiti!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello 2016!

Happy New Year!

I have heard 2015 described as "The year of the whirlwind." It was indeed a whirlwind for me in terms of all of the changes that took place in my life. Hubby started a new job, we both started graduate programs, and we embarked on a journey at a new church this year. That was a lot of transition in a short span of time and I am looking forward to building on those changes in 2016!

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Anatomy of Trust

In a season when I am praying about and looking to strengthen my relationships and my relational ability, this talk is so relevant and helpful! Take a listen and let me know what you think.

I have hard days.

Really hard. Here is my Facebook post after a "wild" evening with the kids...

It all started when one of them starting crying because they couldn't find one of their gloves. That crying continued for about 10 minutes in the car. As I entered the grocery store I realized I forgot my list. I could not remember giving the children any candy, but they acted as if they had each ate a half pound of sugar. Of course, three had a bathroom emergency in the midst. After almost an hour of shenanigans, one dropped a glass jar of pesto sauce in the aisle. Oh, the shame.

I finally got all of them in the car. I could feel my upper back muscles tensing up as I loaded the groceries in the trunk. It is now dark, cold, the wind is blowing my hair all over my head. Just when I thought I had a moment of silence, I hear one say in a dramatic, story-telling voice, "Oh, poor Mommy. The wind is blowing as she tugs the heavy groceries into the car..." as if she is narrating my saga...Really?

I need everyone to close their eyes and stretch their hands toward the computer screen in a moment of silent prayer for me right now. ‪#‎Jesusberestraint‬ ‪#‎nowitshomeworktime‬ ‪#‎ihavetomovebedtimeuptonight‬

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Good Good Father

I think most of us can identify times when God has been portrayed as a hard taskmaster. We may pinpoint times in which he has been presented to us or viewed by us as distant, indifferent or detached. Nevertheless, that is not an adequate portrayal of who God is or how he wants us to view/relate Him.

In fact, I have recently been hearing the term "sonship" be used to address this issue. Although I am still learning, it is my understanding that embracing sonship means to embrace and be rooted and grounded in the truth that we are sons and daughters of God. We have been adopted by Him and therefore, can approach him with all of the confidence and surety of a child approaching his or her dad. I think this song speaks well to that truth, the essence of our relationship with God, and how we should view Him. It has really been ministering to me. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On skipping and the wonders of childhood.

My Halle is currently 4 years old and she skips. And I mean she skips everywhere! In the kitchen, up the stairs, to the school bus, around the house, in the driveway. I must tell you, it brings me so much joy to see her skipping.

One of my favorite bloggers - Katherine from, wrote this about motherhood:

I will never forget a conversation I had with my mom once. I was an exhausted young mother, drowning in the incessance of the job, (is that a word, even?). Somewhere in the middle of my dronings about the difficulty I was facing, she got quiet and said, "When I think about the years with you kids at home [there were four of us], it's almost like it was all a dream."

Now that I am but two years away from my first child leaving home I am beginning to understand what she meant.

These years are frustrating, tiring, monotonous, tedious. I have never been so angry, so bewildered, so entirely consumed with discouragement, fear, or doubt.

And yet...they are filled with a kind of wonder and happiness and hope and the breathtaking exhilaration of looking up one day and realizing that that amorphous blip on the sonogram suddenly resembles a mature young man or woman (or, depending on where you are, maybe they are just getting, say, potty trained). And that the circle of life is about to come around and give you whiplash.

I completely identify with Katherine's sentiments and they bring so much perspective. I became a mother at the age of 23. Now, at 33, I realize how completely not ready I was and how difficult that adjustment was for me. In some respect, I have heard moms who started their families at a much later age than I, express similar frustrations and struggles similar to what I experienced transitioning into parenthood. Perhaps certain frustrations just come with the territory. Nevertheless, now that I am ten years in (I cannot believe I have a 10-year-old, but that is another post), I can see how indeed time is fleeting. It is really beginning to feel like the past years (when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, and trying to control toddlers) now almost feels like a dream.

If I could go back some 5-10 years, I think I would have relaxed a bit. I would not have been so focused on being the perfect homemaker or mother. Instead, I would have taken more time to savor sweet and delightful things like lullabies, silly songs, and skipping.

So, yep. That's all I have for you today...skipping. I am enjoying it very much at the moment and hoping she doesn't stop anytime soon :-)

Northwestern vs. University of Illinois

Hello blog!

I am posting sparingly nowadays, but there is still much going on in my life! I have been contemplating a return back to regular blogging as a way to help me continue to capture, process, and savor life's moments. I have mentioned before that I love being able to jump on here and see where my mind was at and all that was going on at various season's of life. The most challenging thing might just be carving out time to create posts, but I think I am going to give it a try. Interestingly enough, I noticed that it was exactly a year ago today that I last posted!

Here are some photos of my family and I at a NU football game the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Although we were pretty cold, this was exciting for all of us because hubby and I are both Northwestern alum and this was the first college football game the children ever attended! Most exciting of all, NU won! Go wildcats!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bargaining, Negotiation and Vegetables

I am not sure who is winning the war in getting their kids to eat their vegetables. But, our kids are finding new and creative ways to avoid such habits. In fact, we have recently entered into a bit of bargaining and negotiation with Noah.

It usually plays out like this:

 "Noah, eat your vegetables."

*groaning and looking as if we asked him to eat poison* "How many spoonfuls?*

 "Give us eight."




 "Okay. Six."


So, I'm not sure if we are winning or losing. You be the judge.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Favorite Moments

I know summer has passed and we are entering into the winter months. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist sharing some of my favorite photos with you.
I think that by far, most of my favorite photos of my kids are the ones where we caught them in motion, laughing, playing and having fun. Below are some photos I took of Halle as she ran through the sprinklers at a Splash Pad park near our home. She ran, jumped, and sang songs impromptu. One of them was a simple chant, "Let's get this party started! Let's get this party started!..." She even solicited other kids in the park that she didn't know to join in with her singing and playing. They too picked up on the chant.
I am not quite sure what to think about the appropriateness of that chant for my 3-year old. However, one thing is for sure: My Halle certainly knows how to have a good time:-)