Saying No.

Restraining strong limbs in time out.

Holding down on the changing table.

Saying No.

Setting boundaries.

Monitoring EVERYTHING.

Maintaining boundaries.

Saying No.

Keeping our schedule.

Saying No. 

I’m exhausted.  So is he.

So sometimes I just let go. 

I let him play in the dirt and the mud.  Absolute heaven for my boy.  Letting go. 

I let him bring blankie into the store.  Letting go. 

I let him fall asleep in the car even if that means no nap time when we get home.  Letting go. 

I let him run around naked, giggling and laughing maniacally up and down the hallway.  Letting go.

I let him eat sweets before lunch, candy corn is yummy.  Letting go. 

And as much joy as he gets out of the freedom of being diaper-free and getting filthy and not being pestered in the car when he is trying to close his eyes, I also get some joy.

After all, he is growing up so fast. 

And sometimes it feels so good to just say yes and see my Zachy Boy play, run, eat and sleep – even if he wants to do these things at inopportune times or in inopportune ways. 

Letting him indulge.  Letting myself relax.

Letting ourselves enjoy these precious days with earth and sugar and cuddles and laughter.

My Mommy Heart

His face and hands were painted with his favorite food, peanut butter, and snot, OH MY GOODNESS THE SNOT, was pouring out of both nostrils (which he had been smearing over everything in the house for the last two days, including our brand-spanking-new carpet) and I had run into the kitchen to check on him because I heard the now-familiar sound of crayon hitting laminate.

It had been a long few days with parent #2 out-of-town and us being primarily house bound (to spare the general population from the snot-smearing).  So when I looked down at this mess of a two-year old holding a blue crayon it was the perfect set-up for a mommy freak out. 

I peered into the brightest of blue eyes, looking sheepishly up at me and instead of a tightening in my chest, my heart melted in an instant and I scooped up my son.  All of a sudden the snot and the peanut butter and the crayon and the chubby cheeks and mischievous grin were all I wanted to see for the rest of my life. 

Sure he lost crayon privileges for the rest of the day, and I had to bust out the Magic Eraser and pin him down so I could wipe his nose (again) and bring out my stern voice, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.  But my heart was full of love and grace and mushy, sappy, goodness. 

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

When God leads us mother sheep, it can look a lot of different ways.

Sometimes it is Him providing wisdom and discernment on where to send them to school and what words to say and which battles to fight and when to call the doctor.

It can look like leading us, brave and armed, into spiritual warfare so that we would pray for our little ones.

It can look like providing a community of moms to remind us that we’re not insane and alone, after all.

It can look like the supernatural strength required to survive on no sleep, to wash those sheets again, the strength needed to go to work, and the strength needed to stay home.

Today, for me, The Good Shepherd tended to me by melting a weary heart to the floor in a pile of gooey, sappy, giddy mommy-love.

How is God caring for and leading you, today?

Dear Zachary

Dear Zachary,
We had you dedicated at church last Sunday, September 11, which was also your big sister birthday!

You don’t know this now because you’re still just my wee little babe, but our faith in Jesus impacts every area of our lives, and when your daddy and I say that we ‘dedicate’ you to the Lord, it means that we will be inviting you into that life, praying that God’s Word and Spirit will get a hold of you as you grow into a young man.

These are some of the things you can expect to experience as our son, as we dedicate you, and our entire family and lives, to Yaweh.

1) We don’t just go to church, we are the Church. We are living out God’s purposes in our lives to know him more, and to bless others. You will get to feed the homeless with us. You will get to pray for those in need. You will share lots of meals with old and new friends that come into our lives. We pray for you Zachary, that you will grow to be a man who has God’s heart for justice and Jesus’ compassion for the hurting.

2) We don’t follow the world, we follow God. This might be hard for you in your younger years because it might mean not having as many new things like your friends might have, and doing crazy things like traveling to third world countries, We pray for you Zachary that you will find joy in following God, and be free from the things this world has to offer.

3) We won’t parent you with legalism, but instead with grace. We will teach you to obey and honor us, and we will teach you to obey and honor God – but we understand that you will struggle and stumble, just as we do. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it. We pray for you Zachary, that you will experience the Grace of God through Christ Jesus, and that He will be the foundation upon which you live your life.

Zachary you are blessed to have wise grandfathers, Godly uncles and a strong father who are all men after God’s own heart. I pray that for you as well.

I love you so much and I am so humbled and pleased that I get to be the one who firsts disciples you. You remind me, as does your name, that the Lord gives and the Lord remembers, thank you for being a symbol of his faithfulness to us.


To see Evangeline’s dedication, click here: Dear Evangeline

I Got You

Dear Jon

These last five years of marriage have been such a blessing to me. You have given me so much. Because of you and our life together…

I have a partner in life – some one who does the every day, nitty-gritty with me. Paying bills, doing dishes, changing diapers, running errands, eating meals. Its nice to not do these things alone!

I have real-life romance. Thank you for still pursuing me in the same way you pursued me when we first began dating. Thank you for valuing our time together, our relationship and our marriage.

I have two beautiful children. You have not only give me Evangeline and Zachary, but all the ways you love our little ones are really gifts to me, too. I couldn’t wish for a better father for the two little people I love more than life itself. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the kind of dad you are.

I have someone to lead me. I know I can be a feisty, stubborn, opinionated, sassy and difficult wife at times! Thank you for being so wise, Godly and strong in directing our family. I respect you so much.

I have someone to fight for me, someone to care for me, someone to laugh with me, someone to mourn with me, someone to work with me, someone to parent with me, someone to dance with me and someone to follow Jesus alongside me.

I have all of these things and so much more, all because I have you.

I love you and happy five year anniversary!

To celebrate Jon and I are going to enjoy a dinner (just the two of us!) at California Pizza Kitchen. We’re thankful for children who are pretty good at going to bed and friends who will hold down the fort for us while we go out.

Zachary Jonathan Phillips

There are really no words that I can come up with to tell of the emotional, physical and spiritual experiences of giving birth, so I think I’ll just share some stats and pictures to start with.

Zachary – The Lord remembers.
Jonathan – The Lord gives.
Born May 24th (my in-laws anniversary!) via c-section at 1:38 pm.
8lbs 9 oz
20 inches long

Our first family photo. I hate having to be on the operating table during this once in a lifetime moment but loved getting to look at him, hear his cry and see his daddy holding him.

The doctor assured us after his last ultrasound that he would be well over 9lbs but he came out at 8lb 9oz – still a healthy size!

Love at first sight. Getting to hold Zach right after the doctor ‘put me back together’ was wonderful. I’ve been holding him as much as possible since that moment, knowing that this time to love on my newborn is precious and limited.

So handsome I can hardly stand it!

Two handsome fellows!

More cuddling.

My babies and my babies’ daddy.

More cuddling!

More cuteness!

Ready to leave the hospital and go home.

Beautiful eyes, they look like his sisters’ at this age.

Some lovin’ from Grandma Liz!

His Touch

I remember the day at our 20 week ultrasound when they found that our baby had hydronephrosis. I didn’t even know what hydro was at that point. I just knew our baby was sick. Since then every appointment has brought with it one word: BIGGER. The kidney kept getting bigger – getting so severe that doctors couldn’t hide their reactions, that we were told this would never heal on its own, that he would have to have surgery earlier than they normally do surgery on newborn babies.

Through all of this we have been surrounded by our prayer warriors, and their prayer warriors, and their prayer warriors. The most recent of which was last night when our graduating seniors laid hands on me and prayed for healing. What a beautiful parting gift for them to give us.

I myself tried praying in a new way. Rather than praying the usual”God I really want you to heal his kidney, but I understand that you don’t always do that…”

I prayed this instead “Jesus, you heal with a touch. All the bleeding woman wanted was to simply touch your robe. The blind men just wanted to have you touch their eyes. And there was something about your touch that healed them. And more. Please touch my son’s kidney. That’s all he needs. Simply touch that blockage in the ureter. And he will be healed. I know it”.

I say this not to boast about how I pray, but to boast about the work that the Lord does in my heart.

Today we had our last ultrasound with the high risk ob. And somewhere in me I knew, I just knew, that we were going to see a kidney that was completely healed.

Not with severe hydronephrosis.

Not with moderate hydronephrosis.

Not with mild hydronephrosis.

No hydronephrosis.

And that’s exactly what we got!

The sonographer had to keep double checking her chart to make sure that it was in fact the left kidney that had been damaged. She measured both the right and the left three times. Both kidneys are completely normal.

No hdyronephrosis.

I said to the doctor “I was told a case this severe doesn’t correct itself”.

And she said with an amazed look on her face “It doesn’t”

I want to thank you if you prayed and also invite you to rejoice with us. You got to be witness to, and part of, a miracle. Rejoice in knowing the one true God who hears our prayers, who heals with a touch.

Good News?

We had yet another ultrasound this morning and our little baby seems to be as cute as ever.

I have really come to dread the ultrasounds, mostly because we have gotten worse news at each one we have had since our 20 week anatomy scan.

This morning however, it was a little different. Worst case scenario going into these ultrasounds is always a) Left Kidney has gotten bigger b) Right Kidney is also dilated c) other problems arise reflecting chromosomal problems.

Today I saw a perfectly-sized right kidney, a healthy brain and heart and bladder.

And…. a left kidney that didn’t get any bigger in the last month!

In fact, the sonographer says it was measuring slightly smaller (not really enough to make it significant or indicate the problem is correcting itself, but I”ll take it!).

Finally, the doctor saw lots of healthy, functioning tissue around the dilated kidney.

I don’t think I was in a place this morning to hear worse news – so even though this wasn’t earth shattering, I feel encouraged and blessed. Thanks to all our friends and family who are praying for this little guy!

His Hands

We finally met with the pediatric urologist, and Jon and I really liked him. He was very tender, patient and intelligent – all good things. I have been doing a lot of my own research so I didn’t learn a ton of new information today, but reading about something on the internet is very different than hearing it from a doctor who will actually be performing these things. Here are the details of what we walked away with:

1) There are typically two main causes of kidney dilation: reflux or an obstruction. Because of the severity of this case of hydronephrosis he seems pretty positive that it is an obstruction and not reflux.

2) Here what my son’s first month of life will be like (besides lots of eating, sleeping, pooping and cuddling of course):

Day 1: start on antibiotics. This will be to help fight the urinary tract/kidney infections that are likely to occur given his condition.

Day 3 – Ultrasound to measure kidney size after birth, get a good look at his tissue, etc..

Day 3 – VCUG. This stands for Voiding Cystourethrogram. Basically a fluid will be inserted through his urethra and through x-ray technology they will check to see if the fluid shoots back up to the kidney. This test is done to determine if reflux is the cause, so although our doctor doesn’t think it is, he wants to be able to rule it out. This seems to be a very uncomfortable procedure that lasts a couple of hours. I’m glad he will be too young to remember it.

1 Month: Renal scan (mag 3). During this test a low-level radioactive material is inserted through an IV and then the doctors wait and see how his kidneys process it. This will determine how much Kidney function he has left at this point and also help determine more info. about the obstruction (which is most likely right where the ureter meets the kidney). This is about a two hour procedure during which he may have to be mildly sedated.

1 month: Surgery. If little boy has less than 15% kidney function (which is determined by the Mag 3) on the left side he will remove the kidney. If he has greater than 15% function, he will do surgery to correct the obstruction. This surgery of correcting the obstruction has a high success rate (90-95% success rate). He said a month is the very earliest he would prefer to do surgery, however given the severity of what he is seeing now he thinks that is the best idea.

How I’m feeling about all this: It feels good to meet the man who will be treating our son, to have an idea about a time line of events. It feels awful to know that our son, at the fragile age of one month, will be put under general anesthesia and with the way things are looking now, most likely say good-bye to a major organ.

I kept looking at the doctor’s hands, realizing that these were the hands that were going to be caring for our baby’s urological health, the hands that would eventually be cutting into his tiny body, removing his tiny kidney or re-attaching his tiny ureter.

He wore a wedding ring, and his hands seemed calm and steady. I feel good that this appointment is done with and that we are on the road to treatment with what appears to be a competent pediatric urologist, however I can’t trust him fully. His hands are human.

The only Hands I can really trust are our Fathers. I pray that His Hands will continue to be upon our boy, and that Dr. Ashley’s hands will really be God’s hands as he deals tenderly with our newborn.

A visual aid

I think ultrasounds are fascinating and even though I now sort of dread them I am intrigued to see all the organs and everything.

Here is a picture of our cutie’s abdomen to give you a better idea. The two large ‘blobs’ toward the top are actually his one dilated kidney. Like I said in my last post it seems there are two ‘compartments’ (for lack of a medical word) divided by tissue.

Beneath these you can see several smaller black spots. One of those, the one with the two little cross hairs on either end for measurement, is the healthy kidney.


There are events in my life that just make me want to hit the pause button, because they effect me in a way that just make it too difficult to carry on with normal life.

We had our follow-up with the perinatologist this morning to look at baby boy’s kidney – we had been praying for the best case scenario – that his kidney will have drained properly and gone down in size. We knew that was a possibility in a lot of hydronephrosis cases and had family and church praying for that outcome.

Unfortunately that’s not what we got. His dear little kidney has in fact gotten bigger. So big that it seems to have created a whole new compartment to store all this fluid.

“Oooh – that’s definitely severe” were the doctor’s words, actually.

She also used the words ‘impressive’ and “one of the bigger ones I’ve seen” and “there is no hope of that correcting on it’s own, not a case that severe”.

Gee, thanks doctor.

There were a couple of other things on my wishlist that I wanted to come away with today, that I did get, even if I didn’t get a normal functioning left kidney.

Those are:

*A right kidney that is still functioning and at a normal size. Thank you God. I think I am in love with his right kidney.

*Assurance that every other anatomical aspect is still developing and functioning normally (heart, brain, bladder, stomach, etc…)

*A referral to see a pediatric urologist. This will hopefully happen in the next few weeks. I wish I could see him tomorrow as the perinatologist has told us everything she can about what this means for baby’s future outside the womb, but alas more waiting is in store for us.

Jon and I both left the appointment feeling disheartened with resurrected fears of the size of his kidney affecting other organs or even bursting. And just that awful feeling that everything is not perfect with our son.

We have been told by doctors that of all the things that could possibly go wrong, this is the one you would choose if you had to. You only need one kidney.

But I don’t care and those words are not encouraging.

I don’t want this for my son.

So while those statements are true and we are still grateful we are not dealing with anything that appears to be life-threatening or fatal, it doesn’t feel like that today.

Today I wish I could hit the pause button, as I don’t feel like teaching or meeting with students or cooking dinner.

Pause life to take some time to process and cry and come to terms, once again, that my ways are not God’s ways.