Parenting Expectations Revisited

When I was pregnant, I decided to meet with a midwife and go to a birth center.

When Asa was little, I learned all about the “crunchy” parenting things people were doing these days.

Asa has a Baltic amber teething necklace. (And full disclosure: I’m not sure if it works. It SURELY doesn’t make him drool less, as some parents claim.) Now that I’m writing, I’m a bit at a loss for what other “crunchy” things we do for him.

Let’s revisit a few of the things I THOUGHT I was going to do but didn’t:

  1. Make my own baby food. Some people do it. I would have loved to! I just didn’t have the capacity, and that’s ok.
  2. Co-sleep. Asa slept with us when he was little and our house let in cold air through the windows. Once he got bigger, though, he moved around a LOT and took up most of our bed. We all slept better when he was in his own bed. We sleep BEST when he is in his own room. After about 7-8 months, Asa moved from our room to his own, and I am not a bit sad now. IMG_20180212_153015_600.jpg
  3. Let Asa self-wean and eat table food early on. Asa had a super sensitive gag reflex until he was 11 months old. He wasn’t even eating oatmeal and baby food on a regular basis until he was probably 8 or 9 months old.
  4. Never let Asa eat sweet things or processed foods. We don’t let Asa walk around with cookies or candy, but he loves tasting new things. Except ice cream. He doesn’t like ice cream, but I think that’s just because it is really cold. Asa’s food staples at the moment: fruit, yogurt, and bread.
  5. Avoid ANY screen time for the first 2 years. When the only way I can get Asa to stay still enough to clip his fingernails is to play a video clip, it is worth it. Otherwise, Asa has claws. It isn’t great for a young child’s brain development to watch a lot of television or stare at screens. We did pretty well avoiding screen time that first year, but when you occasionally go to restaurants with screens, you just let go. Also, at the end of a long day, we have let Asa watch a movie with us. Or part of one.

Parenting has been a number of lessons in letting go of expectations. Letting go of rules. Embracing the moment. Occasionally letting Asa throw his food on the floor while I try to load up the dishwasher. There’s a place for teaching and discipline, yes. But there’s also a place for letting go. Asa will remember the fun times he had when I was present way more than all the super crunchy things I did for him to live a hippy life.

Is there something you thought you would do when your first kid came along but didn’t do? Is there something you anticipate wanting to do but not actually doing it?


How to Make: Kombucha

Several people have recently asked me how I make kombucha. Maybe you aren’t familiar with it, or maybe you only know of kombucha as a pricey, fermented, carbonated, tea drink from the store. If you have ever tasted the bottled stuff from the store, let me tell you that homemade kombucha is NOT going to taste like that. It just isn’t. While it won’t taste the same, homemade kombucha is going to be much nicer on your wallet.


So if you are gathering up supplies, you’ll need some large jars, some black tea, some cane sugar, and a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast).

Where can you get a SCOBY? You can order a SCOBY online, but I recommend asking around. Sometimes a post on Facebook asking your friends if they make kombucha will bring out a connection to someone who has an extra SCOBY. Or search Facebook for a holistic group in your city, and you are SURE to find someone who is willing to share a SCOBY with you. Why? Because with each batch, the SCOBY creates another SCOBY. I have a jar of SCOBYs in my pantry, sitting in starter liquid. Once you get your hands on 1 SCOBY, you should be SET.

For the second fermentation, you will need some airtight jars and some herbs, fruit, or other flavorings. That’s it. It also helps to have a funnel.

I’m not here to tell you all about the gut benefits of kombucha. There is SO much information out there, but I have included some of my favorite resources and links at the bottom of this post.

So here is my super simple recipe!

Ingredients for 1 Gallon of Kombucha

  • 8-10 black teabags or 8-12 teaspoons of loose leaf black tea
  • 1 cup of cane sugar (I buy organic, Fair Trade cane sugar from Aldi)
  • 1-2 cups Starter liquid (from your last batch of kombucha) or Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Filtered water
  • Jars (I use 2 half gallon Mason jars)

First Fermentation

  1. Fill a small saucepan with filtered water and place on the stove. Simmer the black tea on the stove and then turn to Low and let sit for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Let tea cool. Remove tea bags or strain loose leaf tea leaves.
  4. Pour the room temperature tea into your jar or jars.
  5. Add 1-2 cups of Starter Liquid to your jar. If you do not have starter liquid from a friend or from a previous batch of kombucha, you can use unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. I’ve done this when restarting kombucha without enough Starter Liquid.
  6. Add your SCOBY & top off the jar with room temperature filtered water.
  7. Cover with a light cloth and rubber band. Let sit on a dark counter for 10-14 days. Around day 7, begin tasting the kombucha. If you leave it too long, it will begin to taste more like vinegar. The warmer your home, the faster the kombucha will ferment. So just taste frequently!
  8. You can drink it just like this or move on to the second fermentation for more flavor and fizz!

*A quick note: if you are starting out your first batch with apple cider vinegar or just a small amount of starter liquid, it will probably take a little longer for your kombucha to reach its peak. When I started my jars up again, it took about 21 days before my kombucha was done with the first fermentation. However, after several batches, you will find a good rhythm. The key is to taste and keep note of what day you start your fermentations! I write it down on our hanging wall calendar.


Second Fermentation

  1. Set aside Starter Liquid for your next batch of kombucha (1-2 cups).
  2. Add kombucha to airtight jars. I use recycled jars from Aldi that originally contained French Lemonade. (See the picture below.)
  3. Add herbs, juice, or fruit. WAY more info on how to flavor here.
  4. Allow the jar to sit on the counter for another 3-5 days. Every day, “burp” your jar by opening it up and closing it again. You don’t want too much pressure to build up in your jars!
  5. Filter your kombucha and enjoy! Once it reaches the taste you like, put it in your fridge.


A quick note: I don’t measure the herbs I put into my kombucha. With my most recent batch, I just put a small palmful of elderberries, ginger chips, and a few cloves in each bottle. For more detailed instructions on how to flavor your kombucha with herbs or juice, check out Cultures for Health.


I hope you enjoy! And if you are in the Columbia area, I have some SCOBYs hanging out in my pantry waiting to be used again! Let me know if you make your own kombucha!



  1. LOTS of info about Kombucha:
  2. How to incorporate herbs into Kombucha:
  3. An Online Herbal Fermentation Course (I am currently taking the Introductory Course here!):
  4. A BRILLIANT place to learn more about flavoring and bottling kombucha:
  5. How to create a “SCOBY hotel” for your extra SCOBYs:

What is Motherhood?

Motherhood is not getting much sleep at night.

It is regularly cleaning up pee, poop, or milk.

It is becoming a child all over again.

After Asa was born, I had about 20 stitches to fix some tearing. Those 20 stitches reminded me of what it feels like to be helpless and vulnerable. They reminded me what it means to have childlike faith in someone. I couldn’t get up off the couch or out of bed without Landon’s help those first few days. I couldn’t dry off my legs for myself. I couldn’t feed myself because I was so tired. I was completely dependent on other people for help.

With that helplessness comes a need for childlike faith. I had to believe that my husband, my mom, and Landon’s mom would help me in the midst of my exhaustion. As Asa is completely dependent on me, I was completely dependent on others. The hardest part of labor for me was not the vulnerability of giving birth but the vulnerability of relying on others.

It is so scary to rely on others. Eventually, they let you down. I don’t say that because anyone has let me down in the last few weeks but because I know I have let so many people down in the past. I know I will let people down in the future, too. Trusting another person is a very vulnerable act that we all have to do if we are to live well with others.

I am a helpless child. I am a helpless child, and I am responsible for my own helpless child. I have never felt that responsibility more strongly than here in motherhood. Motherhood has caused me to cry out to God for help more desperately than ever before, especially while I was in the pain of healing from stitches. Without strength from the Lord, I wouldn’t be able to wake up in the middle of the night to nurse Asa, burp him, and change his diaper. Without strength from Him, I couldn’t get up in the morning and start my day. Once I’m up, I am awake, by the grace of God.


Motherhood is about humility. Motherhood is about recognizing my weaknesses, my pride, and my inability to do everything on my own. There’s no way I could function on my own. I have to remind myself of that. Rather, motherhood regularly reminds me of that when I begin to forget.

As a helpless child, I needed Landon to change Asa’s diapers in the middle of the night since I couldn’t get out of bed for myself. I needed my mom to help me with chores and Asa just so I could relax enough to take a nap. I needed Landon’s mom to pick up groceries and cuddle Asa so that I could breathe. I needed our church small group to bring us meals. I needed God to strengthen me when I was exhausted and in pain.

I still need Him. Every hour of every day. I need Him to give me childlike faith. I need Him to give me the strength to trust other people and be vulnerable with them.

Motherhood is learning to be a child again and believing the best of everyone.

Motherhood is completely worth it.

Advent: What It Feels Like to Wait for a Baby (And Comfort for Those Still Waiting)

I wrote this blog post on November 29th, but I want to share with you these honest thoughts and feelings I had before Asa was born on December 2nd, 2016. May the Lord use them to encourage and comfort.

In a world full of darkness and fear, I am learning to hope. I am learning to trust.

Nine months of pregnancy all began with a scare. Just 10 days after Landon and I discovered that we would be parents, we lost that joy. For four and a half days, we grieved and mourned the loss of our blueberry-sized baby. I sank into sadness and depression and apathy with one whole month of the school semester left. Emotionally, I did not have the strength to focus on academics in the midst of such sadness.

Spiritually, too, I was drained. We were not yet planning to start our family, and I was supposed to graduate with my undergraduate degree December 2016. A baby due in November 2016 would be a lot to handle with just one month left of school. However, we began to look forward to meeting our little “Blueberry.” When we thought we lost him, I didn’t understand why God would prepare us to receive such a precious gift only to snatch it away. I didn’t understand what He was doing.

Then I saw a doctor. Our Blueberry was okay… His heart was still beating… His light was still shining…

And I had a big choice to make: I could cling so tightly to this gift, terrified to let go lest I lose it again, or I could trust that the Lord’s plan was good and perfect and beautiful, whatever it held in store for us.

As Mary did when she sat at Jesus’ feet, ignoring Martha’s nagging to stress over the details of a meal, I believe I have chosen the better portion. I have taken my fear of loss and laid it at Jesus’ feet. I have chosen rest for my soul despite the possibility of hurt. Trust can be so scary if you don’t have Someone trustworthy to rely on.

Sometimes, my heart is tempted to stray away from trust. It is tempted to clutch tightly to the gift Landon and I are waiting for, despite God’s tender call to release my grip. At times, I tremble at the possibility of our little boy’s heart giving out so late in my pregnancy and feeling no more baby kicks. No more kneading on my bladder when our baby needs more room in my womb. No more.

Occasionally, I must talk myself down from a ledge of fear. The fear that I will fail. The fear that something tragic will happen to my child. The fear that my son’s heartbeat will stop and mine will have to continue on without his. These are just a few fears mothers experience.

That fear is a reality for so many parents. A worst fear realized.

“No parent should have to bury their child.”

Yet it happens in our world of darkness and despair. I will never stop wishing that this would change.

Sometimes, my heart is tempted to feel guilty that I thought I lost my tiny baby and didn’t. Sometimes, I don’t share my story for fear I will awaken painful memories in another woman’s heart and incite bitterness in her soul.

I don’t want my guilt to crowd out gratitude. It is not my merit that preserved Asa’s life thus far. It is God’s mercy. A mercy I do not understand. A mercy I wish would touch each broken woman of our world.

In a way, it does. Somehow.

That little baby we have all been waiting for… He came. He is the One we wait for each Advent as we celebrate His first coming and anticipate His return. Then, 2,000 years ago, the Father endured the death of His Son so that we might have life and joy and hope.


That is a hope and joy that will never be snatched away from the broken heart of the believing woman. The darkness cannot extinguish the Light of the Gospel.

My prayer for this season for those who have lost hope is that you will open your heart to healing and joy. I have had a taste of your pain. The teensiest, tiniest taste. And I mourn with you. I pray for you. My heart grieves with yours. May the Great Physician heal you and the Holy Spirit comfort you as you enter this season of waiting and wishing and anticipating.

Good morning!


You may ask why it is a good morning. I could give you the Gandalf spiel about mornings, but I will refrain.

I am awake. As I turn my head, the grace of God is far too great to count. I can begin to list all of God’s little showings of grace to me, but it would take all day.

As I have looked at this year with anticipation and joy and thankfulness, I also see discontent creeping in. It is the easiest thing to make New Year’s Resolutions, and it seems somehow even easier to break them. When 2016 rolled in, I didn’t make any hard and fast resolutions. However, I did make a small list of areas in which I want to grow. One of those areas is discipline.

Gross. Discipline. The dreaded word. It means you can’t do anything fun, right?

Totally wrong!

By exhibiting discipline in my homework and responsibilities, I have better time to do what I really want to do.

My dad always told me that I would be better off if I did my work before I did anything pleasurable, and he was right. He still is right.

Procrastination often leaves me feeling discontent. I put of my work for so long, but once I start it, I realize that it isn’t so bad after all. “If I had only done my homework first, then I would actually have to time to [blog, paint, write letters, read, bake, spend time with friends].

I don’t want to label myself as a procrastinator.

I want to know myself as someone who works hard and rests well. I want to say, at the end of the day, that I enjoyed the responsibilities and beautiful moments.

As I go through this year, I think the content of my blog will change a little bit. Not drastically. But I want to blog about the various things in which I find the joy of God. That means attempting to keep plants alive and being a giddy school kid when they bloom, and painting little pictures for people to brighten a letter.

And that means recognizing the grace of God in the little things. That means being disciplined in order to have time to look around me and appreciate the little things.

Sometimes, when I am on Pinterest or Facebook, I wish I had another’s life and beautiful moments. But more than that, I want my own beautiful moments. I wouldn’t trade my way of life for someone else’s. I just need to recognize the absolutely beautiful moments of my life by logging out of Facebook or closing Pinterest.

I have a beautiful life because Christ has redeemed me, and He has brought me before His throne and into His presence. He has blessed me by giving me a husband that encourages and challenges me towards Jesus. He has given me two families that serve the Lord and each other in beautiful ways. I have a beautiful life.

I will pause to see the beautiful moments.


Nothing Satisfies My Soul

For days, or really for years, I have been looking in all of the wrong places for something to satisfy my soul.

People. Social media. Acceptance. Hulu. Books. Talent.


I just want that instant satisfaction.


There are practices that the church is quick to condemn as sinful. But there are also practices we fail to recognize as sinful.

John Piper, in a Desiring God blog post, touches on how social media and electronics can be unhealthy, particularly if we begin our day with them. (To read his post titled “Six Wrong Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning,” click here.)

I wrestle with what to do first in the morning: have my quiet time or check Facebook? Have my quiet time or get ready for the day? And at some point the question becomes: check Facebook or get ready?

At some point, I remove time with the Lord from the equation. Anything can remove Jesus from the equation on a given morning – desire for more sleep, hunger, homework, procrastination, friends. Those aren’t bad things. (Okay, procrastination usually isn’t a good thing.) Nothing satisfies my soul. These things don’t address the longing in my heart for something deep and precious. It takes a lot of self-discipline and self-control to tear myself away from the world that I can see and touch and hear to spend time in the Word of God.

But my strength isn’t enough. It takes the grace of God to enable me to do what I need to do. Am I listening to Him?

If I never stop long enough to read His Work, to pray, to talk about the grace of God with other people, I cannot hear Him. My flesh and the Spirit of God do battle on a daily basis. How will I begin my day? How do I go about my day? How do I end it? I so often waste my time with what has no eternal value, and it frustrates me!

I love Piper’s quote that appears at the end of his article. He says this:

“I feel like I have to get saved every morning. I wake  up and the devil is sitting on my face.”

Every day is a battle. Each morning, what will I choose? I don’t always get it right. So often I put off my quiet time for the sake of homework or sleep or physical appearance (aka: not looking like a bum). But those things do not set my heart in the right place.; they don’t foster an eternal perspective. May the decisions I make bring honor to my Father in heaven. May the mystery and the power of the Word of God capture my heart. May the Gospel of Christ never lose its novelty in light of my sin. May the Holy Spirit use each morning to make me more like the Son who has risen once and for all for my sake. May I be satisfied in the holiness of the Lord who has poured out His life for me.

Hi, My Name Is Martha.

Well, my name is obviously not Martha. It is Emily. It has been for almost 21 years now.

But I know so often I act like a Martha. How does a Martha act? Well, how did this particular Martha act?

Jesus came to the house of Mary and Martha, two sister, and while one did all the work, the other sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to his teaching. The impression is that Martha did the wrong thing by not sitting at the feet of Jesus.

While that is so true, there is another good point about what she was doing and why it wasn’t good for her.

Jesus, the Messiah of the world, was sitting in her home, and she was distracted.

Luke 10 says this in the ESV:

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (10:40-42).

She was distracted, and because she was so, she was anxious and troubled.

By taking her eyes off of Jesus, Martha experienced the stress and frustration that comes with this fallen world. She grew worried when she needed peace. She grew tired when she needed rest. Jesus was offering these things to her, but she missed it.

Martha overlooked the gift Jesus was holding out to her in His own hands.

Oh, how often do I miss what Jesus has placed right in front of me! The Lord repeatedly gives me growing friendships, academic challenges, and grace for each day. I miss it. I miss out on the rest and peace that God tries to give me.

A great challenge of this life is learning to see the grace and peace that God gives for each day. May I see it. May you see it.

May we embrace the Father of peace and the Giver of grace.

This is What Life Looks Like

Sometimes it is messy. Sometimes it is busy. Sometimes you just need to sit down and do nothing and breathe.

Sometimes all you can really do at the end of the day is look ridiculous because you need to work out and the most fun way to do that is hula hooping on Wii Fit Plus without an actual hula hoop. (And sometimes your fiance will just laugh at you because you are sore from hula-hooping in the middle of a room without a hula hoop.)

But life is good. Life is now. Life doesn’t begin when I get married or when I graduate from college or when we start a family.

Susan, Queen of Narnia, forgot what she once was and left behind Narnia as a place of make believe in favor of growing up and maturing.

Oh, may I never fly through this phase of life, forgetting the treasures it holds!

This is what life looks like now:
It is full of planning a wedding.
It is full of quality time with international students, with middle school girls, and with sweet friends.
It is full of cleaning and organizing and throwing things away.
It is full of love and family and traveling.
It is full of celebrating and mourning.

There is a time for all of these things, and all of these things are worth the time.

May the Lord bless the time I have in this world for His glory. May recognizing joy now be worship to Christ.

Take a Breath

Rainy Day

This picture doesn’t capture the colorful glimpse I caught of the world yesterday. Yesterday, I saw soft blue paneling where there is actually eggshell paneling. A yellow shine on the roof reflected the light of a red setting sun. The grass sparkled green, cloaked in rain drops.

This sweet weather (grossly humid, but visually beautiful) was a pretty picture of sweet simplicity.

I took a breath.

In the midst of all the tired moments, God does not fail to provide rest and peace for his children. He amazes me with His faithfulness.

In all of the busyness of life, sometimes I forget to breathe. At least, I forget to take a deep breath. But there is so much to be thankful for and to admire.

One of the most beautiful blessings is getting to spend the rest of my life with Landon. Five weeks ago, Landon asked me to marry him, and I was so happy to say yes! This young man has blessed me. He has loved me in a way that reveals so much about the love of Christ. I couldn’t ask for more because I think he is the best already.

emily and landon 34

Landon teaches me so much about the Lord and about life. Recently, he reminded me to enjoy these moments of engagement now. This season of engagement naturally looks forward to marriage as we plan our wedding in December, but that isn’t the destination. We are in a relationship now, and it can still be filled with moments of joy and fun instead of crowded with stress and decision-making.

Enjoying the present is a difficult endeavor. But it is worth it.

With the stress of planning a wedding, it is so easy to get caught up in the details and forget to see the joy in everything. But I believe that it is more than worth it to actively pursue rest and joy.

For pursuing rest is an active quieting of the soul. It is actively trusting the Lord.

And I would rather not choose to dwell in my own stress when I can relax in the presence of the Lord.


A Pile of Stones

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

She waits. She flinches. Who will it be? Who is going to cast the first rock? Where will it hit? How long will she experience the pain?

But Jesus, the righteous Judge, the One Without Sin, does not cast the first stone. Instead, he asks this woman caught in adultery where her accusers have gone. They have left. They knew their own sin.

"Nether do I condemn you."

The Sinless Christ who could condemn chooses not to do so. Rather, He forgives, and urges the woman to leave her sin behind.

Note: While the Old Testament prescribes stoning as a punishment for some sin, it can also be seen as a picture of condemnation. Stoning was a condemnation from one’s community for an act that often affected more than just that individual.

As I stand here, I am both the condemned and the condemner. I am a hypocrite. I want to cast stones, yet I deserve to have stones cast at me. I rage against those who have sinned against me, yet I know I have sinned against others.

God seems to think that it is amusing to get me in a tizzy about something and then reminds me that I do the exact same thing I am upset about someone else doing to me.

In my desire to cast stones at someone else, my desire is actually to heap stones upon myself.


A mental image: Think about Super Mario Bros. You’ve picked up a Koopa shell to toss. It hits the corner wrong. And now you’ve just knocked yourself out. That’s exactly what I have done. (I apologize if you have no experience with Koopa shells and have no idea what I am talking about…)

Nearing the end of the semester, I faced a lot of discouragement when I heard that several people were saying uninformed things about me and my life without knowing what was going on. People were making judgments about my life without really knowing all of the pain I was experiencing. Some were “concerned” about me, and in positions to talk to me about their concerns, yet they didn’t; they merely talked about it with others. Some of their comments had merit, yes. But to hear about these comments from someone other than the source was painful.

It hurt. I had a heaping measure of righteous anger.

I was mad about something I myself do.

I have done that. I make judgments and comments. I don’t always love my brothers and sisters with my words. I justify my words with “concern” and the “need to process.”

I hate that. I hate that I may have hurt people as I have been hurt. And I may never know who I have hurt.

 "Go, and from now on sin no more."

Jesus does not want me to walk away from His grace unchanged. He pointed out His grace to me in the midst of my frustration. He asked me to forgive and to look at my own life. Before you check the speck, examine the plank in your own eye, right?

So that’s fun.

Looking at a mirror is a little terrifying sometimes.

But there is grace. There is hope. There is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ.