Reflections from 2018

I say this every year but I am not about new year's goals that lead to silly resolutions. I am all about looking back and pausing, reflecting on the past year in order to make good goals and lifestyle changes. I make goals every month and each month I reflect on last month's wins and areas to improve in, but at the end of the year it really does bless me to reflect and look back at what all God is doing. Sometimes, I think, we can too busy to even remember. To see the growth and to celebrate it. God tells the Israelites so many times to "remember" and I want to be faithful in remembering all God has done and is doing in my life. 

The obvious highlight of 2018 was welcoming our baby girl into our family. She has been such a joy, a true gift from God and I can't stop thanking Him for her. She completes our family in a way that I didn't know we all needed. The newborn days can be a blur and I'm still not sleeping through the night but looking back, I see it all as a gift. My heart is still so tender and I think often about all the children who aren't getting kisses or snuggles or being given proper sleep or food and it grieves me so deeply. I know I need to wait for my biological children to be a bit older before we explore foster care, but I also know there is so much I can do for these sweet kiddos in the meantime.  I know that pregnancy and delivery are not my thing and my body does not do well with them. I am so looking forward to 2019 where I will stop nursing and potentially get my body back. It's been a long three years of always being pregnant or nursing and I am excited to hopefully sleep and feel myself again soon. 

Mark was in school, getting his masters this entire year - which added it's normal share of stress when a spouse and father is in school along with a full time job. I watched my husband lead our family and home and also work so hard at so many things. I watched him wrestle with knowing when to have date nights in, or play on the floor with the kiddos or lock himself in the Muskoka room to listen to lectures. I love my husband more deeply each day but watching him balance all of the things in 2018 made me appreciate him and fall more in love with his character and heart than ever before. He never once complained, never rejected Jackson or Marlowe or myself, always helped clean up dinners and put kiddos to bed. 2018 was a long year of school but I want to remember the strength Mark showed and the character we all built through this time. I know you grown and learn through the hard times, so I am thankful for this year but wow, am I giddy with excitement to know that my husband has his masters and we are done school!!!! All the praise hands:) I'm so expectant for how we can use our time to serve others and invest in different things. Expectantly praying for all God will do this coming year.

2018 was our first full year in Gravenhurst. If I'm being totally honest, I was hesitant to make friends and really invest in the community because I thought we would probably be leaving in two years. I really wrestled with how much time to invest in my friendships back home and what that practically looked like now that I moved away. I knew all my mentoring relationships weren't really possible to carry over and I knew that if I focused all my energy on maintaining friendships back home that I wasn't giving myself room to invest in the community God had told me to go too. It's been a balance and I've had to grieve a few things but little by little the Lord has given me a heart for the people of Gravenhurst. A heart to support my husband as he leads and pastors these people and a heart for the people of Gravenhurst to know the hope found in Jesus Christ. Elmira is definitely a white middle class town with everyone saying they are ok with their two car garage and decent incomes. In Gravenhurst, 1/3 of the population lives under the poverty line, there are two prisons nearby with lots of girlfriends and wives and kids living in the town while they partner serves their time and everything you get with a small, rural town. It was a bit of a culture shock, which I never thought moving a few hours up north would bring, but instead of rejecting it this year I started falling in love with these people. I started reading the newspaper every week and finding out what makes Gravenhurst tick. I started looking people in the eye and making conversation in the town. I started praying more boldly and asking God for opportunities and He has given me plenty. There hasn't been a life giving, thriving, bible believing church in Gravenhurst and I believe God is calling us to be lights to this town and to invest. Do I have a time limit on how long we will be here? Nope, do you have a timeline on your life? Nope. But whatever time I have in whatever area I am, I know I want to invest, dig deep and be present because the Lord has called me here. This is a wonderful lesson I've been able to walk through in 2018.

God gave me the verse early in 2018 in Luke 10:2 that says: "the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." When I lived in Elmira there was a church on every corner and many of them are preaching biblical Christianity. There was a place for kids and students to go for mid week programs. There are lots of faithful workers to bring about the harvest. But up here? There was no mid-week kids program, no youth group in the town and I just felt the Lord speak so clearly to me saying "I brought you up here to be another worker. Partner alongside these workers that are here and bring my hope to this weary world." There are definitely less workers the more north you go and I am so grateful to be up and partner with these workers.

So Gravenhurst feels like home. I have friends here now, an incredible church family (they are literally the best!) and a deep sense that for however long, I am called here. If you are reading this, please remember that whenever you are living right now - you have been called there. You have been called to love on and serve and be Jesus to the people around you in all areas of your life. You aren't there by accident and until you hear the Lord call you somewhere else, you better believe He wants you right where you are, investing in those around you. Also, in feeling this way, we bought a house! It's a new build and won't be ready for over a year but we are so excited to put down some roots - in faith:) 

My word for 2018 was unseen. What a wonderful blessing this word has been to my year. It has grounded me so many times and brought my focus back on what matters. I wrote in my blog post last year that "God has been showing me that the really sacred things are not meant to be shared in public. We validate social media and sharing our highlight reels and great moments but God has been teaching me that the great moments according to His word are the things in secret, the things to sacred to share."

Oh how this statement has been so true this past year. I fell in love with Jesus in a fresh new way. I didn't rely pastors to give me God's word, or podcasts or instagram captions. Typing this at the end of 2018 I can say that I don't even desire these things - they don't satisfy me like they once did. I heard it said that these things are a vitamin not a meal and that really resonated with me. I still listen to podcasts and sermons weekly but they are on top of my alone time with Jesus. I can't stress this enough - spending time alone with God's word and directly hearing from Him is the best. He wants to connect with you, to talk to you, to meet with you - we just need to give Him that time and space. And in these unseen moments where it was just me and Jesus and no one else - these are the highlights of 2018; processing it with Him, sitting at His feet and just in the stillness meeting with my creator - this is where we grow. This is the good stuff. Being unseen this past year has produced in me a foundation and love of the bible that I pray will continue and deepen in this coming year.

Spending time with Jesus and His word is never wasted time. I've learnt that. I wasn't able to do this all the time this year #newbornbabynosleep but the times I did get weren't wasted. Never. Even if I didn't understand what I was reading I know the Lord met me and honoured the time. 

In a world of production and highlight reels and feeling validated when you are seen, it was hard for me to resist this and seek the unseen. But wow, is it ever freeing when it becomes a practice. I know that being a pastor's wife my life will be 'seen.' My kids will be 'seen' and a lot of my ministry will be public. I love teaching the bible, speaking at conferences and doing a lot of 'seen' ministry. I know this season will come - but for 2018 I can look back and smile, knowing I prioritized the unseen and the Lord was faithful and met me in the quiet. I built a love for God's word and learned more about what the bible has to say so that when I go into public ministry I have a slightly better understanding (however the more you read the bible, the more you realize you don't know it all). 

2018 you were so good to our family! I can't wait to see that all 2019 will hold. I know there will be highs and lows - there always is but I am excited to learn and love and give God away. 



Dear Jackson // 2.5 years

My dear boy,

I've been using this blog doing month by month entries of your first year of life but want to continue writing down things that I don't want to remember each year of your life. This blog post is really only for me, to remember all the things. Looking back in five years from now, I can't wait to read these entries - I would say they are for you to read (and the rest of the world!) but you are a true boy and I doubt you will be interested in these letters.

You are 2.5 years and are a true delight! I couldn't love you any more if I tried! Literally, we put you to bed at night and then your Dad and I go through the day and swap stories about what you did that day and how much we love you. We watch the baby monitor and just can't get enough of you.

At two years you weighed 23 pounds and are just tiny. Because we didn't have to worry about the length of pants in the summer, you wore 3 month shorts. Marlowe was wearing 6 months... You are average height so pants are just a struggle. Most of your pants this winter are more like capri's because we cannot find pants with a small enough waist and long enough length. When we look at baby pictures of Mark, he had that petite frame so you are just following in his footsteps.

You love your sister. I want to remember that every morning you go into her crib and climb in. You say "Hi Mar Mar" and give her a kiss and hug. Then you ask for her to get out of her sleep sack so you can play with her. If she is still sleeping, you ask about her all morning long until it's time to get her and I can never get her without you. You think it is your duty to see and take care of Marlowe.
Today when Mark came home from work he was telling you how much he missed you. Without a pause you asked if Mark missed Marlowe too. You just always are conscious of her and are so sensitive to her needs and taking care of her. I know sibling relationships are a lot of work, but this season is beautiful - how you love and take care of her even at 2.5 years old. Thank you for being such an incredible big brother. Marlowe truly loves you! She sits up and watches you as you run around and make her laugh. You are the only one that can really make her deep belly laugh as you run around in circles calling "Mar Mar."

Another thing Marlowe loves when you do is bounce on Gary. You love Gary! Gary is a rabbit that Aunty Carmen bought you last Christmas. You bounce around the house and it is the most precious thing ever. You actually get height as you bounce around, but it just reminds me that the simple things are the best. You are having the best time and have no care in the world. You bring us such joy!

You need to have everything in order and a good day is when you know what your day looks like so you can prepare your emotions. It is a very interesting part of your personality. I will tell you what we are doing - we make lists and you repeat them and everything is great. When I spring something on you, you don't take it well and this often leads to a temper tantrum. For example, when we give you screen time if we tell you to shut it off - tantrum. If we set an alarm on our phones and the alarm goes off you turn off the iPad, put it away without any care because that is how it is suppose to be.

You love hide and seek and actually know how to play now (mid Dec 2018). You hid tonight in the laundry and stayed quiet the entire time. I love playing hide and seek with you - I want to remember these evenings.

Bedtime is at 7:30 and you manipulate your way most evenings and because you are so stinkin adorable your Daddy and I continue to rub your back, kiss you all over and take a long time praying because we just can't leave your room. You really have us wrapped around your finger.

You are now stringing words together - it is still a struggle but I understand you and we can have conversations. To the general public... they would have no idea what you are saying:) We are working on speaking, but I'm not worried at all.

You can cook better than most adults. You know all the ingredients to many different recipes and you cook and bake with us always. You know what size pot we make rice in and that we need a dash of salt and butter along with the wooden spoon. You get all of those things ready for us for so many meals. You love love the kitchen. You will pick out eggs and stir pancake mix, wash all the dishes (while being naked, because you don't like getting wet) and use your stool Grammie and Papa bought you with such independence. You are a little man when you are in the kitchen.

How could I forget our activity EVERY SINGLE DAY! Garbage man, garbage truck, blue bins, green bins, putting garbage men to sleep, garbage men riding on the back of your trucks, owning seven garbage trucks, dumping all your toys out and meticulously organizing all our neighbours garbage on the living room floor, not allowing us to clean up any of the garbage when you nap and only able to clean it up when "it is dark." We count the sleeps until garbage day every week and the night before is the best. You collect all the garbages from all our rooms and bring it to the garage. Then you and Daddy drag it out onto the road and you watch with delight. On garbage day you immediately run to the window and inspect what neighbours have put out their garbage particularly "Caleb, Bruce, Bubba, Kristine" and every single member of the family. We wait all morning by the window until we see the garbage truck drive by. Because we live on a dead end street we race with glee to get on all our things, or candles in the summer and run out to watch the garbage. All the garbage workers knows who you are and honk, wave and make small talk as we watch them take our garbage/recycling bin. Then we watch it go to the end of the street and you call it "down down down." Then when it disappears you say "bye broom broom, see you next week" and wave. I die every time inside at how cute you are. You have been addicted to garbage trucks for a year now and I wonder when you will stop. Even when we colour pictures, you only want to create art for the "broom broom man." Everything relates to garbage all the time. We talk about garbage the moment you wake up till the moment you go to bed. In your stocking this year we only have more "garbage supplies" for you and know that will be your favourite present. Today while reading books I pleaded with you to read a book other than your garbage ones and you refused in protest.

We started potty training the last few days in August and you did such a good job. Potty training with you was really easy. It obviously took a couple weeks but you were amazing! You know are fully trained and you just sleep in diapers at night because I am not interested in waking up with you yet to go potty- let's wait till your Momma gets Marlowe sleeping through the night before I want to start waking up again ahah!

You stay in your room till 7am - thank you Gro Clock! We love love love the Gro clock and so do you. There are stars and it counts down until 7am. Once your clock turns 7am the colour changes from blue to yellow and you know it is time to get up. This has saved us so much because you normally wake up by 6:30am but know to stay in your bed/room until your clock turns yellow.

You eat mostly everything and it is always in "two's." Two num nums. Always in two.  But you are a really good eater - just you don't gain any weight even though you eat a lot.

You best words are "hmmmmm" and you put your index finger on your cheek and are in deep deep thought.  and "oh yeah" when we explain something to you.

You still snuggle us and you love snuggling with you Daddy.

You made up your first song - it is called the Momma, Dadda song and the lyrics go like this: Momma, Dadda song, Momma Dadda song, Momma Dadda song, yay yay yay."

You also love jingle bells and do the twist by the wiggles.

Library is your second favourite time of the week (after garbage truck of course)

You understand Christmas - but as Jesus birthday and are excited to make him a cake and blow out his candles. You are terrified of Santa so we haven't even tried that - we want it to be magical not terrifying!

OK, I will add some more things to this post as I want to remember them. We love and adore you Mr. Jackson Thomas Hockley. You are the best.

Love your Momma


Dear Marlowe // Eight Months

My dear baby girl,

Happy happy eight months! What a month it has been - no one was sick this month and we are fully in Christmas mode. Your dad is obsessed with Christmas and we have to put up our tree the first weekend in November and take out all the decorations. He loves Christmas so much because he loves to give gifts. He loves this holiday because he is crazy in love with blessing others and is so excited for you to experience your first Christmas... even though we know you won't remember it - hey, that is what pictures are for!

Just like your earthly father adores giving gifts, we know that your Heavenly Daddy loves to give good gifts to His children as well (Matthew 7:11). Marlowe, I say this almost every day - you are the best gift. I know Jesus loves you so much more than I ever can or could, and loves you with a pure love, not my broken human understanding of love - but know baby girl you are a gift to us. A true, beautiful blessing in my life.  You make me marvel at the goodness of God. When I look into your eyes and think of how he has entrusted me for this short time on earth to love you and raise you up to know His love it amazes me what a gift that is.

Changes to this month: we have dropped your third nap in the afternoon. You weren't really interested in it anymore but you go to bed super early now because you are still tired- always before 6:30pm because when you wake up at 2:30pm you are exhausted by 5pm. I know as you get older you will be able to last longer and even stay up till 7! :) hahah - but right now this works out really well because I can put you down to sleep and then work on Mr. Jackson's bedtime. I've also been diligent on keeping you in your room for 1.5 hours to help you learn to take two naps that last this long during the day. This is definitely a "still in process" thing at eight months old but I am happy to write in this blog that there is progress - good progress. Let's hope when I write your next month letter that we can check this off the list.

You still wake up once in the night to feed. It has gotten earlier (sometimes as early as 3am) because you go to bed so early but as long as it is one time in the night I'm going to be OK. Also solids - I'm worried I can't drop the last night feed because you have no solid food in you. We really need to get you to eat.

Speaking of eating - you have interest. Not in a spoon or anything puree but you will now eat a "mum mum" and chew on an arrowroot. There is progress - things are going in your mouth and you aren't fully rejecting them. Still no bottle, sippy cup etc. but I've come to learn with you, everything is slow and steady - at your own pace. Again small progress but progress none the less. This still is the biggest stress that I face with you - which I know is nothing compared to a lot of Mommas so I am not complaining.

Your eczema on your face was really bad this month and we rushed your dermatologist appointment because it was causing you so much pain - which means I was in pain too. She saw us for maybe five minutes and declared you will have this for life and to just try to control it and prevent the flare ups. She was not helpful and didn't answer any of questions so we left the appointment pretty discouraged for you - but not loosing hope. The 2% steroid cream defiantly helps but everyone told us (doctor's and pharmacist) that it can thin your skin... and I would never want your face to be thinned out and droopy. However, this dermatologist said to use it for a couple years before that would ever happen... which is confusing and she didn't explain why, even though I asked 10 times. But we are using it a bit more frequently to try and not let you skin become open, because once you get a flare up and start scratching it is really hard to get you to stop. Your Momma will keep researching and buying expensive creams in hope that we can kick this thing. I am also hopeful that it might go away once I stop breast-feeding.. I've heard this could be a thing?

Moving. You roll over both ways and enjoy being on your tummy. You turn around in circles but still no crawling or moving forward, sometimes you move backwards. I'm definitely not forcing this still because I really enjoy setting you down on the floor so I can use the bathroom and being confident you will be in the same spot upon my arrival.

You love your home and your schedules. You thrive off of these two things and when they aren't present it is hard for you. Your brother loves you so much and gets into your crib every single morning without fail to greet you. He says hello and gives you a hug and a kiss. It melts me every time. I love seeing the way he loves you and the ways you return the love as well. Even though you are eight months old it is amazing watching the ways you both interact. I hope you will continue to be friends and bond as you get older.

You spend a lot of the time sitting up now, by yourself, playing with all your toys. As long as you can watch us and see Momma at all times you are happy and content. You are a true joy to mother and we can't wait to experience 'all the things' with you - Christmas!!

I pray for you every day Marlowe and pray that I would show you a true and right picture of what living for Jesus looks like. That you would know from a young age that Jesus is life, true hope and is coming again to make all this brokenness go away. He is coming back for us and we will live alongside him forever on the new earth so very soon. I long for Jesus to come back and restore this broken world, but I know His timing is the best and His heart longs for more people to come to know Him - He is patient and will come at the right time. For now, we love Him and make disciples and give God away and I pray and beg the Lord you would see that in your Daddy and I and grow up to know the amazing unending love that Jesus has for you.

We love you baby girl, so very very much.  We will always be here cheering you on, loving you and showing you how much Jesus adores you. Happy eight months!

Your Momma



Dear Marlowe // Six and Seven Months

Miss Marlowe,

Happy Six and Seven Months my beautiful baby girl. So yes, I'm combining two months because, well, these past two months have been insane. I kept thinking I needed to write your six month letter and then it kept getting pushed back and now it's your seven month birthday - so I must ask you for grace as I summarize your last two months. Let's be clear - you haven't been the problem - sickness has. Your Momma was sick for six weeks. Yes, you are a reading that right - SIX WEEKS! I can't even. I still have an awful cough at night but can confidently type that I am better. When your Dad and I look at our calendars we knew September/October was going to be busy. I was coordinating three weddings, heading back to work. Mark was launching all the fall events and the church ramps up again at this time. The weeks are busy and the weekends are full. We knew we would need to work together as a team to get through... and then we both got sick. I got it the worst but Jackson was sick and so was your Dad. We didn't even make it to thanksgiving this year - so sad. But baby girl, you were a champ. You were the only one who didn't get sick - thank you breastmilk is all I can say.
You are a trooper and I am so glad we made it through!

You were weighed today at exactly seven months and came in at 50% weighing 16 pounds 1.5 ounces. Your length is 70% and head is 85%. You've definitely thinned out a bit but I am still obsessed with your legs. They are my favourite and I never want to forget those chunks - I can't even - you are too cute.

You still won't take a bottle, a soother or any food. We tried introduce solids at five months and you just won't take it. I've lost so much sleep and stressed about this so much but looking back - we did it. You did go 15 hours without food at one wedding and I just think you are like your Father - beyond stubborn. Who doesn't eat for 15 hours? You. So I return to my office job at Beacon tomorrow and guess what - you have to come with me because I can't leave you for eight hours without food. I do struggle with "mom guilt" so we will see how trying to work an office job with a seven month old goes... grace... we just need grace in this season. You did eat willingly once on October 21 but then never again. You gave me such hope but I will keep trying - you just do things on your own time. But please Miss Marlowe - you can start eating or taking a sippy cup anytime now - that would be amazing!

You aren't "on the move" yet but you definitely move. I can't leave you in your bumbo and you have to strapped in everywhere we go. You roll confidently from your front to your back and back to front and have even started sleeping on your stomach in your sleep because you roll around so much. I have to be careful what is on the floor and where you will go. You love tummy time and spend a lot of time on your stomach, playing with toys and watching your crazy brother.

You still head to bed around 6:30pm and sleep until 7am with one feed. I will try to eliminate the last feed this month (or next) we will see how you do and how I am feeling. But you are a good sleeper! I've had difficulty in naps and after talking to my girlfriends at 6.5 months I started letting you stay in your crib for 1.5 hours in the morning and afternoon nap even if you only slept for 30 minutes. It was a hard week of "cry it out" but you barely cried and just whined for a couple days. After one week of difficulty you do have some sort of sleep rhythm in the day. You have transitioned from the 2 hours of awake time to needing a nap to following more of a clock schedule.

Right now at seven months this is where we are at: Wake up around 7am - feed and play. Feed again at 9am and you have your first nap. Wake up around 10:30 and feed around 11ish. Feed again around 12:45 when you go down for your second nap. Hope you sleep around 2-2:30 (we are still working on this nap being longer than 1 hr) but then the third nap is always hit or miss and then you sleep anywhere from 5:30 (if you don't nap) till 7 (if you've napped). You've slept through the night twice in your whole life randomly one of these times being on September 17.

Oh and your teeth! You first tooth came in September 27 (5.5 months). It was your bottom right tooth. Since then your other bottom tooth has come through and just last week your top right tooth is poking through. Lots of drooling and it is bothering you a bit - we've had some good snuggles and I've rocked you to sleep a couple times but that has been amazing because I miss those snuggles already.

You were dedicated on September 16 and it was a beautiful service. I often catch myself dreaming of when you are older and we can do more together but am trying to slow down and embrace these moments, knowing I will miss them so much.

Marlowe you are truly amazing. You have the best temperament and just love us and your dear brother who is crazy about you! When you cry he will run up to you and give you a hug, rub your belly and kiss you. He longs to see you every morning when he wakes up and he is always telling your Dad or I when you are awake and that your eyes are open. He jumps into your crib and snuggles you and always talks about you. If you are coming with us every time we go out to the grocery store or library or any activity. Your relationship makes my heart burst and I am so excited to see how it continues... once you start crawling and taking his beloved garbage!

You use to love being alone - you preferred this in the past, but this last month you now know when we leave the room and you cry. You love being held and given a toy to play with. You still do like time alone but I would say this is slowly going away - especially since you've been teething you've wanted lots of love.

You also travelled to the states with your cousin Cora as we went to see Jennie Allen and Christy Nockels on their freedom project tour. It was such a good couple days but wow, I was so sick and so tired and travelling with two babies on different schedules was rough... not going to lie. But you do travel well. We've had lots of trips back to Elmira visiting family and friends and you've been a trooper through it all.

I'm crazy in love with you. You have taught me so much and give me such grace. I am so grateful to have you as my daughter. Happy Six and Seven months my dear baby girl. I couldn't love you more if I tried.

Your Momma

 photo copyright.jpg
envye template.