Mothering with Open Hands


[daycare dropoff April 17, 2018]

The following post is something I wrote and submitted to an online site that was accepting blog submissions on the topic of the Gospel and motherhood. This post idea came to me easily, since we had just studied 1 Samuel at church the previous week, and I was really excited to submit this. We were told to wait a certain amount of time, and if we didn't hear back, our submission had been rejected and we could publish or submit it elsewhere. I admit that this was the sixth time I've submitted a blog post to another website (not all the same one) and gotten rejected. It's embarrassing to tell you that, but there it is. At least I'll never reject myself from my own blog ;)

I tell you that not to fish for compliments that I really am a great writer (I know I am. It's fine. I'm fine.). I say it only as a disclaimer that the post below is slightly different from my typical Lady Okie Blog writing style. But I do think the message here is important, especially as summer ends and so many moms start their kids in some form of school away from home. 

I will also be completely honest with you about something, though, and I do have a point, so hear me out if you will. This time of year, social media is filled with moms posting tearful goodbyes as they send their children off to preschool for a few hours a few days a week. As someone who has been away from their kids nine hours a day for five days a week since they were just a few months old, it's hard for me to sympathize with stories of difficult preschool or parent's day out dropoffs. I'm more like "yes! see what I have to do every day! get on my level!" than I am feeling bad for them. 

But (and here's my point) I do know that leaving your child, no matter how long or how often you do it, is hard. And I'm sure it's probably harder for people who don't do it as often as I do. Or maybe it's the same hard, but my heart has just become a calloused block of stone ha. 

Before I submitted this, I sent it to a friend of mine who is a stay-at-home mom and asked her if she could relate to what I wrote, because I don't always want to write just as a working mom but as a mom. I hope this is encouraging to anyone who has to leave their child somewhere. We can't avoid the fact that terrible, tragic things happen all the time; but at least for me, I can rest in the peace of knowing that God's plan for my child's life is better than the one I would plan for them (even if it doesn't seem to quite make sense at the time). I might not be there with them all the time, but they aren't alone.


I took my daughter to daycare for the first time when she was three months old. I had always known that for various reasons it would be necessary for our family that I continue to work full time after maternity leave. We had toured the daycares and weighed our childcare options, and we were confident in the place we had chosen—a faith-based traditional daycare center operating out of a local church—but as the day of my return to work approached, I could barely even think about it without crying.

That first morning, I carried her into the infant room, and they handed me a “Baby’s First Day” worksheet to fill out. “It helps the teachers get to know her,” they told me. It included questions like “How does she best fall asleep?” and “How often does she eat?” and then at the bottom, there were five blank lines and this: Is there anything else you want her teachers to know?

My eyes filled with tears, and my hand holding the pen shook a little as I looked over at my sweet girl, sitting calmly in a bouncy seat chewing on a rattle. She looked up at me, her dark brown eyes full of complete trust.

Is there anything else you want her teachers to know?

I remember feeling frozen. There’s not enough space here, I wanted to say. There aren’t enough lines.

I want to tell them about everything, about how silly and smart she is, about how much she makes me laugh. How she loves to cuddle in the morning, what her favorite toy is, and how she likes to be held. How to tell the difference between her hunger and tired cries, and that she favors her right side and we are trying to watch it and avoid a flat spot.

Tears streamed down my face as everything I’d learned about my daughter in her first three months of life flashed by as though I were flipping through a deck of cards.


The first chapter of 1 Samuel tells the story of Hannah, a woman who was barren until the Lord “remembered her” and she gave birth to a son, Samuel. (1 Samuel 1:19-20)

A few verses later, Hannah says what has become a much-beloved and often-quoted verse about the blessing of a child: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

Chosen for baby dedications, printed on the back of birth announcements, and quoted as part of pregnancy reveals, this verse is beloved as a symbol of blessing and the joy of answered prayer. But what can be easy to forget about Hannah’s story is verse 28: “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

Hannah prayed “year after year” (v.7) for a child, and then she took him to be dedicated at the house of the Lord “after he was weaned” (v. 24), which we can estimate at that time was about three years. Just as I learned so much about my daughter her first three months, I suspect Hannah had a hundred times the memories and moments with her son before she left him with Eli the priest at three years old.

I can only imagine how her eyes filled with tears and her hand trembled a bit as she kissed her firstborn son and prepared to leave the house of God. And maybe just before she turned away, Eli asked her, “Is there anything else you want me to know?”

As mothers, we want to believe we know our children the best, that we love them the most. But Hannah knew better, and her story is both a reminder and an encouragement of God’s sovereign control and righteous ownership over everything we have, including and perhaps especially over our children. We can pray for our children, love our children, provide for our children, but ultimately we need to remember whose they were first—and then give them back to God with open hands.

Having open hands as mothers is something God requires of all of us, no matter where you spend your days. Just as Hannah physically left her son with Eli the priest, so too do we leave our children at daycare or with the babysitter or in the church nursery or with their preschool teacher. It’s scary. It’s hard.

Hannah’s story is a reminder that while we may physically leave them for a period of time, God never does. And when we do, there is no first-day worksheet. There are no questions to answer or blank lines to fill in. After all, it was he who “knit us together” in the womb (Psalm 139:13). He knows our children more intimately and completely than we will ever know them in three months or three years or three decades.

We are finite human beings, unable to see beyond what we are facing today. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34 not to worry about tomorrow, and while that is a nice saying for Sunday school, it is hard for us mothers to put into practice when there’s so much to worry about for our children. We need to daily remind ourselves that they are God’s first, and we need to have open hands with the gift he gave us.

In 1 Samuel 2:19, the Bible tells us that each year Hannah made Samuel a robe and brought it to him when she went to offer her annual sacrifice. I wonder if she cried while carefully sewing that robe together for her child. I wonder how long she was able to see him and if they were able to talk at all.

It’s been two and a half years of daycare drop-offs, and recently we added a baby boy to our family and I now have a second bag to pack every morning. On that very first day, they handed me the same worksheet, and once again I was frozen by the last question: Is there anything else you want his teachers to know?

Everything, I thought. There’s just not enough space.

I left him there that morning with tears in my eyes but peace in my heart. It is comforting to know that God fills in all the blanks, and he is right there with my children even when I’m not. He loves them more than I could and knows them better than I ever will.

Hannah honored God by returning her blessing back to him, and the last we hear of her is in 1 Samuel 2:21: “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.”

It’s hard to let them go, but they are his first. An answer to prayer, and an opportunity to give our treasured gift back to Christ. For what better, more holy place for our children to be than in the presence of the most holy Lord. 

Will Sing for Money


We really don't talk about princesses a lot at our house. I'm not against them, but it's just not like we make a point to watch princess movies and buy R princess-themed pajamas and coloring books. And in fact, honestly I hate shirts with giant logos/pictures on them of any kind, so she doesn't have any clothes with princesses on them except for two dresses we got from a friend who was getting rid of a bunch of stuff. I thought maybe she'd like having a couple "dress-up" dresses around the house for fun.

I had her 3rd birthday outfit picked out for a few months before her party: the same green and pink onesie she wore for the birthday photos I took (the outfit is in the above photo in her new fort!). She wore it for opening presents, until she opened the card my parents got her, which had a built-in princess crown you could tear out to wear. She saw the girl on the crown and shouted, "I NEED MY PURPLE DRESS" and went racing off to her room, emerging seconds later with one of her dress-up dresses that had the exact same princess on the front.

My brother and sister-in-law got R a microphone and stand for her birthday. (Here's a link to a similar microphone from the same brand as hers, but I can't find the exact microphone combo she got online!) The microphone has settings for different voices and can even record a song to play back. To say she put on a show is a bit of an understatement. We got the microphone hooked up, and R put her crown on with her matching dress and sang her little heart out.

My grandparents were able to drive from Illinois just for the day to be at R's party! They had hunted all over for a pink piggy bank to get her, and then while she was singing, my mother-in-law told R to put the piggy bank next to her and she went up and dropped some change into it. A few more people pulled out some pennies and dropped them into the piggy bank while R was singing, and R kept smiling and laughing.
When I look back at the pictures taken at the party, most of them show R in a purple princess dress. If I'm being totally honest, at first I was a bit disappointed because that wasn't exactly my favorite choice for a cute birthday outfit. I don't even know if that will make sense to anyone else or just sound dumb of me to be at all concerned about something so silly even for just a minute or two. But she was so happy, and that made me happy.

I'm also so thankful that our families get along so well. Both Jordan's and my parents are married, so there isn't any awkwardness with multiple different families around, and I try not to take that for granted because I know it's not exactly what everyone else experiences all the time. Having family around is something I look forward to, and I hope it's the same for my kids as they get older.
Before R's 1st birthday, a friend gave me some really great advice that I've tried to keep in mind for all of the kid's birthday parties since then. She said that the day will be full of family and people. It will be stressful and chaotic. But make sure to take a minute--one full minute--at some point during the day and actually just stop and look around. Take in the moment, the people, the laughter.

That might sound kind of cliche, but it really has been a good reminder for me these past 3 years of being a mom. It hasn't always looked like I thought it would or been as easy as I think it should be, but there are so many great things too. Things I might miss if I didn't intentionally remind myself to stop and take it in every once in a while.

My two cents for what it's worth. I'm still new to this parenting gig ;)

Birthday Weekend + Blogging Thoughts


Over the weekend we hosted family for R's birthday! She turned 3 on Friday, and we had the party on Saturday. I took short video clips all day both days and hope to put together a 3rd birthday video collage soon. For whatever reason I think making videos is so fun and love doing it. (Here is how I make them, if you're interested!)

I haven't gone through all the pictures yet, but maybe soon I'll share a post with pics from the day. It was pretty low key with minimal decorations, and mostly everything was recycled from my "party cabinet" where I keep all the decorations I've made over the past few years along with paper goods and other Target dollar-spot finds I collect. We did a taco bar and had pink cupcakes. It was really fun!
Right before the party my brother noticed that the side fence in our backyard had fallen over in the storm the night before. The only reason it wasn't completely over was because it was being held up by our neighbor's shed. We have had a few house projects lately, and we are not the type of people who enjoy doing house projects. And by "we" I mean Jordan. I've tried to be handy and end up hanging things unevenly and putting giant holes in the wall on accident, so I leave all the handiness to him, but since he does manual labor all day at work, he doesn't so much want to do it at home. 

Anyway, we clearly need to pay to get our fence repaired (yay adulting!), but in the meantime he rigged up some rope, and the fence is at least mostly upright at the moment. We also have a broken pillar off our front porch, and our front screen door is busted so there's a piece of packing tape holding the lock down. In June we used our cash emergency fund for the very first time to pay for maintenance on my car, so we are Very Excited to pay for a new fence.

I need to sign us up for one of those home improvement shows before Jordan goes insane from the stress and pays someone to burn our house down so we can collect insurance money. (He might have mentioned doing that, but I think he was kidding.)
We are pretty stressed out at the moment, to be honest. As I mentioned in my last post, this summer has been so full of wonderful things and awesome family time, but it has been FULL nonetheless, and we are tired. We really packed it in this summer, and all four of us have a birthday within 2 months of one another so that adds a bit of extra excitement too.

But how are you? No, seriously. How are you doing? Are you feeling stressed out by anything, or are you in a relaxing season at the moment? It's so easy to get caught up in the stress of daily life, going from one thing to the next and not really paying attention to how other people are doing. If I can be an encouragement to you in any way, let me know!

Blogging is weird. You get a glimpse into someone's life that you haven't ever met (in most cases), and if you follow them for long enough you begin to feel like you know them a little bit. But you may not know this about me: I can get insecure about what I say online. I'm not really all that afraid of confrontation usually, and I often say/write what I think. Sometimes I feel like I offend people, and especially online it's hard to accurately convey tone of voice and meaning. I also hate to go back and reread old posts because I get super embarrassed by how dramatic I sound. But those were my honest thoughts at the time, so that's what I wrote! haha. Plus also if you don't know me in real life, I can be kind of dramatic ;)

Just know that I do appreciate everyone who comes and reads. I've taken a huge step back this past year in the frequency of my posts, but I still enjoy sharing in this space and hearing from you! 

I'd like to try and get some photos from R's party edited and posted, but in the meantime I wanted to let you all know about a new Facebook group I started for anyone who loves books! The group is private so you have to request to join, but I'll accept anyone as long as you love books and promise to be a nice person in the group :) It's not a book club, just a place to chat books. Join here!

Happy Monday!

Skip the Store with Essentials from Amazon


This post is sponsored by Kleenex, Scott, Cottonelle, and Viva, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I cannot get my life together right now. This summer has been full of so many good things and so much family time, but it has been FULL. And since we both work full time, the daily grind of alarm clocks, daycare dropoffs, and morning commutes marches on even in the summer. I don't think R will be going to an official preschool next year because she's at daycare full time, and they do basically everything there that she would at preschool, but I know once she starts elementary school, things are going to get even crazier!

If there is one thing I said I would never do it, write a sponsored blog post for something like toilet paper. But you know what? We had two rolls left, and I had no time (and no desire) to go to the store, and I was offered an opportunity to buy toilet paper from Amazon and have it delivered to my house the next day so yes I took it. I DID. And I have no regrets because, let's be honest: Cottonelle is actually the best. Also the best? Having things arrive magically on your doorstep.

I also bought some Kleenex facial tissues, which are going to be great for keeping in the diaper bag and backpack. R has gotten into a habit of swiping across her cheek with the back of her hand, and the side of her face has constant gunk on it so....  I need these.

I asked her to test the Kleenex wipes out on her face, and she was such a good model! Then she wanted to try them out on her feet haha ;)

Shop smarter and quicker on Amazon for Kleenex, Cottonelle, Scott, and Viva products! There's this handy page with everything in one section for easier shopping. There are even coupons to clip up, and you can get 15% off by signing up for the subscribe and save.

I suppose I should, as they say, never say never. Because sometimes you do run out of toilet paper. And sometimes it's nice to have it shipped right to your front door and waiting for you when you get home from work. 

Sometimes being an adult is awesome and means eating ice cream for dinner. And sometimes it means getting excited about toilet paper in the mail. Life is weird.

Stock up with household and back-to-school supplies on Amazon and save here!



I was hanging out with some friends a few months ago, and one of my friends mentioned another friend of hers who had recently gotten a new car. "I'm really not ever jealous of people," she said. "But I'm a little jealous of her awesome car."

My first reaction was to think, Wow I'm jealous of people all the time. I wish I was never jealous. My second reaction was to realize that by wishing I were able to not be jealous like my friend, I just proved my own point.

This is one of the things I really don't like about myself: my constant comparing. It's nearly instantaneous when I see or hear something, and it's an embarrassing thing to share because it sounds so... so ungrateful. So entitled.

The truth is, I'm not at all unhappy with my life. I've been blessed in so many ways, and I'm so thankful. But I really struggle with comparing and jealousy. Social media in particular can be a big trigger for me. I go in waves where I consider deleting all of it, but I do like parts of it too,  and I just haven't figured out the balance. It seems to be all or nothing with me, and I wish I could find a good solution!

I shared this struggle with my mom some time ago, and she said that it's easy to pick and choose pieces of someone's life that we'd like to have, but you can't just switch out parts you want and leave the rest. If you want to trade one aspect of someone's life, you have to be okay with trading all of it: their family, their spouse, their kids, their job. And of course I don't want to do that. I'd just maybe like to replace a few of my things with a few of their things, but I don't want it all.

I honestly get so frustrated with myself. Philippians 1:6 says: "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it at the day of Jesus Christ." I love that verse for the promise it holds that Christ is working on me, perfecting my weakness and giving me grace to wake up and try again the next day, next hour, next minute.

I don't know if this whole thing sounds lame or sad or just pathetic, but I share with the hope that if you struggle with this too, you aren't alone. And the awareness of the struggle is a gift from God, allowing our eyes to be opened to our sin so that we can ask for help from the one who is, even now, doing a very good work. It's an encouragement to me, and I hope it is for you too :)

*Comments turned off. Sometimes I just like to share without the pressure of comments, but as always I'd love to hear from you if you do have a response!

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