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Quiet and soft and slow

26th April 2021

Quiet. That was the word I chose this past January as my intention for 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic, one of my coworkers has been putting together a newsletter with relevant headlines and sharing it with a small group weekly. Sometimes she takes care to share a little quip about how she’s spending the morning with her kiddos, a favorite podcast or song. Around Christmas time, she shared a playlist featuring the song “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad. I was roughly halfway through my pregnancy with Baby W Numero Dos and surprised to be finding myself not anxious about when the world might get back to normal but instead, about how the heck our world would get back to normal. How would we handle two kids? A commute? A toddler and an infant?

Truth be told, we’ve relished in the slow quarantine life. While 2020 brought its own challenges, I would be remiss to believe it didn’t bring some wonderful change for our little family. 2020 challenged me to start my days later, to have breakfast daily with my little guy, to take lunch dates in the mini cooper with my husband.

The lyrics of this song spoke to me so deeply in this season and they inspired my 2021 word: quiet. 

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of heaven in Your flame
But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Fast forward to April 2, 2021: Good Friday. I would be 38 weeks pregnant and planned to take the day to myself and celebrate Chick-fil-A’s Good Friday devotion in the morning, take a long Peloton ride, prep tiny baby supplies – you know, do quiet things.

Of course, that didn’t happen. I wouldn’t be writing this post if it did.

I forgot that Beckham’s school was closed. I had a 3-hour morning meeting that I really didn’t want to miss. If 2020 taught me anything, it was how to juggle a work and baby schedule. We’ve got this. By lunch, we’d be playing toddler games and back to a sweet Good Friday.

Our last Family photo from the week before.

9:30, Beckham was yelling for a “stroller walk.” Beckham loves a good walk, but he’d never demanded one by name, especially when the stroller wasn’t even in sight. It was stored in my car. He was adamant. So I grabbed my headphones, lugged the stroller out and we set out on a multi-tasked stroller walk.

10:15, we walked back in the door and my contractions that had been happening for a week now we’re back, and strangely intense. I switched the call back to video from the playroom and set up the contraction counter, you know, just in case.

11:15, my contractions were roughly 7 minutes apart. The feeling that this Good Friday would be anything but quiet had crept into my mind. I texted my mother in law asking if she wanted to take B for the afternoon. I answered questions about a CFA subscription on the phone call.

11:30, I remained on the meeting, but abandoned all focus (sorry Dustin) and instead focused on throwing clothes into a bag for Beckham. I put together his Easter basket (#priorities).

12:00, the call ended and I put a call into my Doctor’s office. They advised I come in and we’d hop on the monitor and go from there. In my visit the day before I was just 1cm dilated and I was still 10 days away from my due date. Probably not labor they said (in my head: I’m definitely in labor).

1:00, we arrived at the OBGYN. I went in solo. My doctor was on call, we joked that I had a chat with the baby to remind him/her to arrive while my Doctor was on call. She set me up on the monitor and said “you know, you don’t look like you’re in labor” (in my head: this is my pain poker face).

2:00, contractions are now about 4 minutes apart. I’d progressed to 4cm. I make a case that we should have a baby today. Doctor agrees. She sends me over to the hospital. Good thing I packed Beckham all of those clothes…and the Easter basket.

3:00, we’re checked in. I’m oddly nervous. Contractions are two minutes apart. I opt for the epidural and since things are moving quite quickly, they send the anesthesiologist. It’s his birthday. We talk soccer and Atlanta schools and joke that 4.3.21 would be a cool birthday (in my head: this baby better come before tomorrow).

6:00, my Doctor is back and she breaks my water. We turn the epidural down a bit. She says “just give me a call when you get the urge to push, it could be :30 or three hours.” Fifteen minutes later I push the button.

6:49, after pushes during three contractions our sweet baby is here. She has a head full of hair. She has the longest, little fingers. She’s a she. A girl. Eloise Elizabeth.

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of heaven in Your flame
But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Quiet and soft and slow. Quiet strength. Quiet faith. Loud, brilliant joy. I felt every bit of that in my bones on this Good Friday. The best Friday. Welcome to our world, baby girl.

Baby Eloise, my prayer for you is that you seek the quiet moments. Today, we look at Good Friday as a pinnacle for faith. However, I’m sure those around Jesus didn’t feel so joyous when the sun set on that Friday. I pray that in those moments, you seek a quiet faith in His plan and remember that joy always, always comes in the morning.

Wife. Mama. Runner.

6th June 2020

Wife. Mama. Runner. Those are the first three words I’d use to describe myself to a stranger.

Here’s how those words look different to me this week:

I’m a wife who doesn’t have to fear that if my husband is pulled over he might not make it home alive.

I’m a mama who will never have to explain to her son that he can’t play hide and seek in the store clothing racks because someone might mistake him for trying to steal.

I’m a runner who doesn’t have to shout “on your left” out of concern that the color of my skin might scare the person I’m approaching.

That’s white privilege. Simple, ordinary privileges. Tied to simple, ordinary words.

Knowing where to start is hard, but I feel pretty confident I can start with words. Here are a few: I’m sorry. I love you. I stand with you. I believe you are worthy of more.

The Guanacos

17th March 2020

In late 2018, Patrick and I had the opportunity to travel to Chile to visit my brother who now lives north of Santiago as an astrophysicist (his actual job). The first stop on our South American adventure was to make the long trek down to Patagonia as a trio.

After a three hour flight south from Santiago and nearly five hours of driving the gravel “La Ruta del Fin del Mundo” or “The Road to the End of the World” set to this playlist, we arrived in the famed Torres del Paine National Park. The region is home to flamingos, pumas, penguins and even a famed giant sloth, but it’s one silly looking dude who’s clearly the star of the show here: the guanaco.

The guanaco is a relative of the llama, a South American deer if you will. He’s really not much to write home about compared to his roommates, but here, he’s king. We were quickly trained to focus our eyes to find one and while they have a population of more than 3,000 in the park, day by day went by without a sighting.

On day three, amidst what felt like hurricane strength winds we found a guanaco. He was on top of a ridge looking down on us shining with the true Simba status he deserves.

We’d quickly learn from our guide that you nearly always have to look up to find the first guanaco. Guanacos live in herds and while famous to us park goers, they aren’t exactly on the top of the food chain. See earlier puma mention. Guanacos appoint a sentinel, or look out, to stand at the highest point nearby and watch over the other guanacos as they graze below. Find the sentinel and you’ll likely spot his friends.

It was my favorite moment of the trip, as evidenced by this 100% genuine reaction to my brother when we saw him. The idea of the sentinel has stuck with me since. We all need a lookout. As Lauren Daigle might say, look up child.

I hope you have a greater lookout that you turn to for counsel. I know I do. I was reminded of these pictures this week as we enter days, weeks, maybe even months of uncertainty. Whatever you do next, look for the sentinels. Look for the helpers. Look for the stories of the people showing immeasurable care.

Maybe even put on your best guanaco impression and go be that sentinel. Your herd needs it now more than ever. And while you’re at it, wash your hands too.