This little blog of mine has been quiet since my now two-and-a-half-year-old turned one. But if there's any reason for a little revival, it's the fact that nine of my favorite humans are officially 2017 high school graduates. Nine girls who I've had the privilege of walking through life with, most since they were freshman. Which was yesterday, by the way. Nine girls who committed to spending their Sunday nights piled around my table and on my couch, learning and praying and carrying one another's burdens.

May has been filled with a senior blessing, the senior Sunday service, our final official iNgroup supper (though not the final unofficial, of course), and their graduations. I can't not think about them as freshman, the funny things they said in all their freshman-ness. And how now they're friends, friends who I will miss terribly. On Senior Sunday, I turned the corner into our youth room where they were all lined up to hear many of them say "Meagaaan!" as walked in. I was immediately struck how much I will miss that enthusiastic greeting, voices of familiarity that I've grown so accustom to for four years. Simply, the more you know and love people, the more you miss them when they're not around. And I am so thankful to know and love them so dearly. And of course, I can't stop thinking about missing them while sitting through one bazillion emotionally-charged graduation blessings and speeches in my overly-emotional pregnant state. I'm a super cute crier.

I was able to say a few things at their senior blessing night, so instead of go on and on about how fabulous I think they are (which is super amazing fabulously awesome), I thought I'd include it below. As a tribute to our four years together. Life will surely look different next year, but I'll be thankful for cell phones and social media and will be watching eagerly as they dive head first into another wonderful four years.

When Dustin and I joined LBC a little over four years ago, I asked Ian if there was a space for us to plug into youth ministry as I always found myself drawn to high schoolers, wondering what was going on in their lives and their heads. Little did I know what perfect timing it was – that we get paired with this stellar incoming freshman class and have the privilege of moving up with them every year until we made it to this place where we never really imagined we’d make it – graduation. Not because they’re not incredibly capable and smart and ambitious, but because it never seemed like four years could possibly go by this fast.

I’ll never forget signing up to help host a progressive dinner for the girls the summer before their freshman year. A lot of people would assume freshman timid, maybe a little awkward. Not these girls – they came bounding into my house and in turn my life that summer evening and neither have been the same since. Over the next four years, we’ve added more faces, and I have spent this past year with them curled up around my table and on my couch every Sunday night – quickly my favorite night of the week. I believe we each have a place that we are called to serve within our church family, a race specifically set before each of us. And yes sacrifice comes with any service, but never did I imagine the blessings that would come from being these students’ small group leader.

Hopefully they learned a little from us over the years, but I could go on about the things I’ve learned from them: the importance of sharing life with others, the fun of unplanned visits and spontaneity, how to celebrate one another – from awards and successes to birthdays and baby showers (for me, not for any of them), and how to make the people around them feel seen and remembered. And one thing I could say especially about this group here tonight is that they are an incredible example of loyalty. They stuck around, remaining loyal to the end to their commitment to this group. Even between school and sports and family and AP tests. I don’t know if that was always an easy choice to make, but I can tell you that our group would not be the same without one less of these souls a part of it so I, for one, am so thankful for their loyalty.

I have had the privilege of watching their identities grow over the last four years, and I have seen the Lord slowly but very surely ground them not as students of certain schools or teams or friend groups, but of children of God. They’ve allowed themselves to wonder about the mysteries of God, and they’ve asked the hard questions (which I often told them I’d ask someone smarter than me and get back to them). They have dug and developed a faith that is so importantly their own. And next year, y’all, it’s even more up to you. Continue to show up, to be loyal even when no one is making you. Allow the hard questions to be frustrating but not defeating and dig and pray until you find the answers. I feel like you probably know where I’m going with this. The lesson I’ve kind of sort of crammed down your throats the last four years – abide with Jesus. My favorite chapter – John 15 – says as the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can we unless we abide with Jesus.

Abide with Him so you can love your roommates and family and future spouses and perfect strangers with the love of Jesus. Abide to have joy and peace no matter the circumstance, finding true contentment that is so rare in our world. Abide so you exemplify patience – again with roommates and family and future spouses but also with waiting for the Lord’s direction and voice. Abide with Jesus because your kindness, your goodness, and your faithfulness are in short supply but His never are. Abide so you can be gentle with others and also with yourselves. Abide so you can show true self-control in your consumption and words and time.

It has been my privilege to walk through these last four years with y’all. Parents, thank you for allowing them to share these brief and precious years with me. And y’all don’t be thinking that just because you’re moving away that you’re getting rid of me. Expect nagging texts from me as I expect unplanned visits from you when you’re back in town. I am eagerly sitting on the front row to see what is next – where the Lord takes you, failures and successes, lessons learned even over and over again. Eventually another set of graduations or moves, life changes or weddings or more school. I promise to be there continuing to attempt to answer the hard questions and cheering you on every step of the way. I love y’all.


Lottie Turns One

Our dear Lottie,

Today you are one. Everyone says it because everyone is right - it was the fastest and best year of my life. Except the "best" part doesn't seem quite right. Language fails to explain how good this year was because you were here in the middle of it, turning our lives upside down in the best possible way. How is it possible that a year with an above average amount of emotion and exhaustion and confusion can still be the best? Well, better than best. Like I said when you were this teeny tiny newborn, you split our hearts wide open and continue to do so. Sometimes I think if I run full speed into a very very hard wall then I just might be able to physically feel the amount of feels I have for you. [Anyone else? Just me?]

We have quickly turned into those totally obnoxious parents thanks to you. We hang on every new sound and discovery and dance move. Never did I ever think I'd be so excited to hear you say "bah bah" after I hold up the sheep puzzle piece. Granted, all the animals say "bah bah" at this point, but it totally counts girlfriend! Other than the obnoxious thing, you've taught us lots about ourselves and God's love for us. You've taught us to trust Him more, remembering that He loves you so much more than I ever could imagine. Though that doesn't stop me from peeking in at you every night to make sure you're breathing. I'm not sure how long that will last - 3 years old? 16ish?

Whether I'm watching you sleep or downing some steamed carrots in your high chair or playing in the living room, I imagine this big bright and sparkly and exciting life coiled up inside all your smallness. I know they'll be some rocky valleys where the Lord [I'm praying] will draw you nearer to Himself. But right now, sparkles [mixed with cheerio crust] are the vibe I'm getting from your precious one year old self. Regardless, I'm on the edge of my seat, watching it all unfold with every new discovery and word and milestone. We are so thankful for you and how you have changed everything about this wonderful life. We love you. You are better than best.


new-ish year

I had lots of plans and thoughts and scribbles for a new year post. One about a fresh start and no big impending change for this year (you know, like a baby) and feeling like this is normal compared to the fog of new parenthood that was 2015. And also a post about this undercurrent of potential change and praying and seeking and feeling clueless all at the same time. But it's not really any of those things fully. And I'm beginning to understand that that's a good thing.

See, I would have said that we feel like the Lord has something potentially different for us. (That's that undercurrent I was talking about. We don't know what it is, but we don't think the both of us are making it up.) And I would have said we are "seeking the Lord" on what that is. And even "waiting patiently." But when I step back and take a look at my days as a whole, I'm not. I'm saying a quick prayer about it as I'm reading down my request list. We're praying about it before bed, half asleep. And in the meantime I'm worrying about D's stress level (part of the potential change reasoning), researching real estate in different places, and asking advice from others. Not to mention slightly obsessing over Lottie's birthday, cleaning house, taking care of lots of different obligations I've said yes to, having lunch with friends, forcing baby sign language on my child (she's going to sign "please" if it kills me), day dreaming, texting, social media-ing it up, watering house plants (lol, they wish), picking up living room toys yet again, cursing Jillian Michaels, slowly responding to work emails. The list goes on. Once D gets home, I find my list still half way done and myself explaining to him that it seems so difficult to get anything for real done with our precious little mobile chick. And I find the days flying by. One after another after another. Each feeling like a total blur. It gives me whip lash just to think back on the last week.

I look at those days and think - they're all pretty good things. They were happy days. But the noise created by those days left me feeling "clueless" and "stuck." Quotation marks because I've said those exact things to D numerous times. There are two things that I know: 1) I want to follow Jesus step by step by step, wherever He leads, wherever He desires us to be. We say that we'd rather live uncomfortably inside God's will instead of comfortably outside of it. And we want to stop just saying it. And 2) I want to be a wife whose family knows that they are living in God's will and favor and blessings partly because they're wife and mom wouldn't let their names fall from the Lord's ears. (I totally stole that from somewhere that I can't remember, but it's true.) I just want to bug him to death about them (oh dang, the theology, I know).

So I'm going to clear out some noise. I mean, I really like a lot of it. I love communication and encouragement (and tv). But the ratios need to shift a little. Because The Bachelor + The Today Show vs. Jesus in a pie chart might be a really sad sight right now. And that's still just a small piece of what consumes my day and thoughts and efforts. I'm clearing out some noise because I feel that it's the only way I'll start making even small strides towards those two goals above. And besides them being the two things that I want most, He is deserving of that. I don't have to even worry about giving anything up simply because of who He is. He is the Great I AM. The fullness of that name makes my head want to explode. More fullness is not possible. HOW COOL IS THAT? And having that ability because of knowing who He is makes me want to know Him and His promises more. I'm missing so much!

Even if the questions aren't answered and this year feels somewhat in between and unglamorous, we will stand on the promise that He will faithfully lead us when and where we wants if we'll just get rid of some noise and listen. I want to do my part so that the wondering will be eliminated. Because even if He isn't moving us - He's doing His part. I mean, sometimes I wish I could just have it the easy way - a big road sign or billboard or, you know, a pillar a fire. He does it that way sometimes. But not most times. What kind of relationship does that build anyway? Not one of intimacy and reliance day in and day out. And that's what I want with the Great I AM. So that He'll lead us where He wants, no matter where that is. Because "God is good to us and God is good at being God" (preach, Lysa T.). I guess what I'm saying is that I'm realizing more and more how much of a responsibility I have in this relationship. Duh, right?

One quick word on getting rid of noise in a non-audible sense. Can I tell you how much less brain fog I have after cleaning out my closets and other stackable surfaces? I actually still look around and think WHAT'S WITH ALL THIS STUFF?! And I can say this, because never have I ever claimed to be OCD or tidy or whatever that gift is. So it truly does make a difference to someone who doesn't mind clutter. After Christmas, we came home with baby's first Christmas gifts from two families (OMG) and several boxes worth of stuff that I wanted from my grandmother's house. So I seriously slowly cleaned everything out, loving the feeling of it more and more with every closet and cabinet. And I really think that Lord used that as part of my realization about noise. He had to use getting rid of my outdated college decor (easy) to work up to getting rid of other noise (really hard - I'm looking at you Matt and Savannah because I LOVE YOU SO MUCH).

So that's where I am. Seeking God without as much noise. I mean, I'm still in the getting-rid-of-noise process and probably always will be. I don't expect life made up of serene days with plenty of time to read and highlight and pray. See: almost twelve month old. And I'm certain things will get even more crazy during these (Lord willing) big family raising years. So I'll start now with the optional noise (because, let's be honest, a lot of it isn't all that optional) and try to choose Jesus and get back up when I will surely fail a lot. A lot, y'all. Because with less noise I'll get to know Jesus more and will be able to stand on His promises day in and day out, wherever we happen to be that day and whatever the Lord allows to happen.

I went to a conference where Lysa Terkeurst spoke a lot about standing on God's promises and "establishing a pattern of promises." It was awesome, but the point of me saying that is to tell you that I've had the hymn "Standing on the Promises" stuck in my head all week like any good baptist girl. It was always one of my faves growing up - kind of upbeat and the men with the deeper voices would do that fun little echo part. I looked up the lyrics while I was thinking about this. So good, y'all.

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
List’ning every moment to the Spirit’s call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

So. Less noise, more promises. Working on it!


remembering mamaw loyce

Most of life seems gradual, moving from one milestone to the next with all sort of busyness in between. Though every so often we stop in our tracks and think, I can't believe we've lived in this house three years already, or when did you get so tall? Also, where did my newborn/infant/toddler go? And even with those moments of realization along the way, life continues to barrel forward without us realizing it.

When we finally pulled up at mom's house the day of Mamaw's visitation, we piled our bags in the keeping room and all landed in mom's bedroom. Audrey and Anna were pulling out my old dance costumes and Lottie was rolling and smiling all over the palette mom had laid out for her. There were Mamaw's three great granddaughters - so full of life and youth, energy and giggles - surrounding mom, Moll, and myself as mom told us of Mamaw's last moments. About the peaceful way she left her earthly home with her daughter holding her hand, by her side like she always had been. In that moment I felt so proud to be a part of that line of mothers and daughters. And in that moment life didn't seem so gradual. We had experienced an ending. And with my precious six month old wiggling on the floor in front of me, the juxtaposition between life and death felt severe, heavy.

During visitation and the funeral, there was a lot of talk about Mamaw's love. It was a love of life and of people. It was spilled onto friends and family and strangers alike. It wasn't just something you say because someone died. She had an above average amount of love, and it was evident to everyone we spoke to over those couple of days. We heard "life of the party" a lot. That was so true. But she also loved us in the quiet, every day moments. Through comfort, through prayers, through food (really good food). It was so strange to be with our very large extended family (my mom is the youngest of 23 first counsins, daughters and sons of my grandmother's eight siblings), and Mamaw not be there. Because of her very large presence, she was easily missed. A Loyce-sized hole, some might say. It made me think a lot about the same thing that their long time pastor mentioned at the funeral - legacy. A legacy of love, simply put. And how desperately I want to continue that legacy - through comfort, prayers, food. Through how I raise my babies and support my husband. Through how I celebrate my friends and love every moment of life I've been given. "I just love this living," she would say. It showed.

Moll and I said a few words at her funeral. We're criers, so it was touch and go. But we knew we wanted everyone to know how much we loved our Mamaw. I added mine below so you could know a little of Mamaw Loyce too.


I’m Meagan – Mamaw’s fifth grandchild and self-proclaimed favorite. Most of my family and friends call me Meg, but my favorite nickname – usually only heard at the occasional family reunion or kinfolk shower – is Little Loyce. It’s probably the Fallin coloring, but I sure hope that I can – at least some day – live up to the name. 

My Mamaw Loyce embodied the phrase “to know her is to love her.” And it sure didn’t matter if you knew her all your life or if it was a matter of minutes. There was never an outing where she didn’t make a new friend – from waiters to cashiers to stewardesses. It was natural and it was effortless because it was Mamaw. I’ll never forget asking her how one of her stints in physical therapy was going. She told me that that day had been better than others because some else was actually in the therapy room at the same time she was, and when she walked in she thought, “Oh look, somebody for me to talk to!”

I have a six month old baby girl. I thank the Lord for His gracious timing – that their precious lives overlapped and that Mamaw was able to love on her several times in her young life. That someone so dear to me was able to share in our excitement and joy at the birth of her third great granddaughter. And I thank Him that I had a grandmother who created such a legacy of love in our family. She walked with Jesus, and we were blessed by His love that Mamaw showed us. Because of Christ in Mamaw, I know what steadfast love looks like – it is firm, never-changing. It was the look on her face or the sound in her voice every time we visited or called. It was her consistent presence in our lives. It was so deep and fierce that its effects will outlive her and effect many future generations. I may never be able to make her hot water cornbread, but I hope and I pray that I can be a fraction of the mother, wife, sister, church member, friend, and – one day – grandmother that she was. And I hope, like Mamaw, that I have the time of my life doing it.


feed your baby

I suppose you don't want to tell a happily first-time-pregnant mom of the difficulties awaiting her when trying to do what seems like the most natural thing in the world - feeding her baby. I honestly expected to have no problem breastfeeding Lottie unless I was in the extremely small percentage of women whose milk never came in in the first place. After all, we had taken the class at the hospital. I read the book they gave us cover to cover (except the chapter about feeding multiples, praise Him). I practiced the cradle hold AND the football hold just days before Lottie's birth. It wasn't until I started raking in advice from fellow mamas that I realized that, for the majority of these families, feeding was the most treacherous and emotional and confusing part about having a newborn. It wasn't that some of those feedings took place in the middle of the night and you're all of a sudden sleeping like NOT AT ALL. No. It was that they had low supply or no supply or mastitis or a slow let down or an over active let down or a zillion other possible issues. It was what everyone was now saying that they cried the most over. Which I, of course, now understood since I was shocked to be in the thick of the most emotional three weeks of my life due to nursing issues.

Supposedly I had a sleepy eater with a bit of torticollis which gave her an "unorganized suck" as well as seemingly unsolvable low supply. Whatever. I couldn't feed my baby and I was shocked and heartbroken and exhausted and so very confused.

I'm glad to say that those feelings have subsided. My stomach no longer ties itself in knots every time we give our baby a bottle of formula. I don't hold her and cry hot, sad tears when she hungry cries while I have nothing left to give her instead of happy tears like during that week-o-ecstasy following her birth (and since!). The turning point from those unexpected low moments was one of the clearest conversations I've ever had with The Lord.

Ironically, it happened when I was driving to rent an infant intake scale from the private, in-home lactation consultant that had come to see us a few days earlier. We saw her after our pediatrician, after three visits to the hospital's LC who was finally out of ideas for me and my little non-eater (this was the emotionally low point), and after countless hours of research and picking the brains of loooots of very patient friends. The two days before I had "power pumped" (it sucks as much as it sounds, no pun intended) and was renting this scale so that we could weigh, nurse, weigh again, supplement, and then pump. And by the time it was all done, start over again thirty minutes later. But I was down for it. Very determined. Motivated by love and emotion and, unfortunately, a little bit of pride. I'd do it as long as it helped even though I was so desperate to know what our feeding situation would look like long term. What our normal would be.

This private LC had been amazing and incredibly knowledgeable. I counted eight friends who had used her and all said that she was the reason they were able to breastfeed. She was "magic" and "wonder woman," and I just knew that surely I wouldn't be one of the only people with an unsolvable issue. Plus, her website is literally feedyourbaby.com (SC friends - she really is amazing!), so SURELY she could fix us. See? Expectations are the killer. I was gripping onto expectations within my bigger, disintegrating expectations.

After several more days of that weighing and pumping and supplementing grind, unfortunately this magic-maker was eventually out of ideas for us too. But this time I wasn't as heartbroken as I was afraid I would be if it came to this, and that was because of that in-car conversation with a loving God. There's been few times when I've heard this clearly from the Lord. Most of the time it's through the truth of His Word. Or the encouragement from voices in our families and community. Maybe this time was different because He was speaking directly to the tender heart of a new mother. Maybe it was because all the wonderful people he was speaking through in my life weren't getting through my emotional fog.

I was driving and praying for this next strategy to work and that I would be able to exclusively breastfeed my baby just as I had prayed throughout pregnancy. When we first met with the LC, I had to fill out a form that informed her of any pregnancy and birth issues we had that may affect nursing. I checked a box next to PCOS, told her about a few pregnancy issues, and about the c-section. And when we were getting started with our appointment, she commented that we had had "quite the time of it" or something like that. To me, it was our normal. But as soon as she said that, I started feeling sorry for myself. We battled through a few issues already, couldn't this just be easy? Didn't I deserve to be able to do what was best for my baby?

After days of wallowing in those thoughts, I was reminded that we live in an imperfect, fallen world where our bodies don't work perfectly. Duh. And I was convicted for feeling like I deserved to be able to do this. That's a dangerous place to be. The only thing we deserve in this life is wrath and judgement and separation.

But because I haven't gotten what I deserve and have been given so much grace that nothing else should really compare, I could hear Him telling me to simply trust Him with feeding Lottie. I could hear Him remind me that He loves her so much more than I do. I'm sure it was the beginning of letting go of lots of control over her life. D had said that the Lord would give her all she needed, and that finally rang true with me. He even said that Jesus could turn that formula into breastmilk in her belly if He saw fit! I'm so thankful for his steady faithfulness. And I'm sure he's thankful for this clear conversation with the Lord so that I could finally talk without crying.

I had asked Him to make it clear to us how we should provide for her and for me to be able to joyfully follow His direction. I knew it would be hard to officially make the decision to stop all of the crazy remedies (even though they were officially not helping), and I'm so thankful for the peaceful transition into nursing and then offering Lottie a bottle since she was always still hungry. I was (and am) a peaceful appetizer. I am thankful for all the help that we received, but I had read so much and asked so many questions until I could feel my mothers intuition getting louder and saying STOP IGNORING ME. Because the Lord answered our prayer for direction, I was able to do what was best for us as a family instead of having "breast is best" flashing in my brain at every feeding. And though I agree with those annoying websites and blogs and message boards, I also wanted to punch them in the face every time they said "you CAN do this!" Nope. Can't, unfortunately. And that was (finally) ok.

It's not always super easy. Sometimes I still don't like that I have to pack a bottle and formula in the diaper bag (even though we've been really happy with The Honest Company's new formula, if you're curious about that option). Sometimes my heart still breaks when I read things like, "there's no way to replicate a mother's milk exactly, because it contains living cells, antibodies, enzymes, and hormones that can't be added to formula." But most of the time I embrace the peace and encouragement given on that turn-around day. And, most importantly, I check my perspective. She's healthy, she's growing, and she's ours. Three things (among many more) that we certainly don't deserve.