In Awe and Wonder

Deuteronomy 10:21

He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.

Dear Little Girl,

As I feel your nondescript pokes and pinches and watch my belly take on a new form, I find myself daydreaming about who you’re going to become. I thought it would be fun to share my guesses and thoughts, my wonderings and hopes with you and then to watch you grow into exactly the girl God created you to be.  

Will you have green eyes like your Daddy or blue eyes like me?
Will your eye lashes be amazingly long like your Dad’s and your eyebrows a bit boisterous like mine?
Will you have a knack for music and fill our house with singing or piano tunes?
Will you be inclined to athleticism, though both your parents kept their distance from sports in school?
Will you like playing make-believe, pretending to be a school teacher or a doctor, a mommy or a cashier?
Will you enjoy the outdoors, swinging high and jumping rope and riding your bike?
Will you pick up on technology and learn to use it for good?
Will you be stubborn or submissive?
Will you have a contagious laugh and make silly faces and tell ridiculous jokes?
Will you love jumping into our laps for a story and sit in the corner with your favorite books for hours on end?
Will you like Barbies or baby dolls, Legos or puzzles, coloring or Playdoh?

I wonder what gifts God is forming in you.

I wonder exactly how beautiful you will be.

I wonder how open your heart will be to the work of the Spirit.

I love you already, Little Girl. I can’t wait to meet you.

The Summer Blur

Dear Little One,

This is a busy summer for your Dad and me. It’s been fun having so many friends get to share in our excitement in person. Hugs abound, enthusiasm for the Lord’s bounty is proclaimed, and a few “bump grabs” have been occurring. (For the record, I have started to show in a bit more obvious way, and I’m a “physical touch” type of person, so this is welcome.)

First there was a week at Family Camp. Somerset Beach is our home-away-from-home and I wrote all about it last year in a letter to you. Kevin was in utero when he first started “attending” this annual event and now we’ll get to say the same about you! The highlight of my week was getting to teach Holy Yoga at 7am each morning. It was thrilling to have not just 5 or 6 students (as I expected), but 17-25! At least two-thirds of the attendees were brand new to yoga and the student ages ranged from 12-65. Everyone did wonderfully, and I was so encouraged to continue my pursuit teaching. With all of the traveling and conference events we participate in, I hope to become an itinerant Holy Yoga instructor.


The next week we headed to Spring Arbor University for a week at Bible Quiz Nationals. This is an event that’s near and dear to our hearts, especially as we’ve made wonderful friends from all over. It’s our one opportunity to see those loved ones from Seattle and Wisconsin, New York and Kentucky. Having shared our story of your long-desired conception, there was so much rejoicing as we reunited!

Your Daddy was a Quiz Master for the week, getting to administrate the rounds of competition for Senior Teen Vet quizzers. Having been a quizzer and coach himself for many years, he knows the inner workings of the teams and does a wonderful job in this role. And then there’s the awesome benefit of hearing him preach each Sunday quoting the Scripture passages that have been deeply engrained into his soul thanks to years of study and discipline. Time well spent.

Here’s a “bumpie” from my week at SAU (July 2nd):


We had the next few days at home to recover, do laundry, catch up on meetings and counseling sessions for church, and prepare in advance for the next few Sunday services. We were off again on Friday, July 10th for2015-07-16 20.35.02 General Conference 2015. Every four years the North American Free Methodist Church has it’s week long business and worship sessions. This is an incredible time of fellowship and networking with pastors and missionaries, worship leaders and friends from literally all over the world. We got to know Dosseh, the district director of the Ivory Coast and Togo (Africa) FM Conference. Our church had just committed to giving toward the founding of the Ivory Coast church conference and it’s so exciting to put voices and faces with the names on a page.

We had lunch (or dinner or coffee dates) with so many good friends2015-07-17 10.50.28 – Randi & Kris who are moving back to Toledo! (three cheers for having a ministry couple, who’s our age and stage of life, just minutes from home!), Caitlin (a dear friend from college, who lives so close but we had to go to Orlando to meet up with her), Darryl & Tom and Randy and Jon and Rick & Kim (good friends from our Albion, NY church), Cathy & Steve (SoMi pastor friends), Colleen (a Pittsburgh pastor who we met briefly at quizzing a year ago and kept in touch with), and so so many more. Our hearts were full!

Plus, we stayed in this beautiful resort where the convention center was located. The pool and the sun were good for my soul!  

We spent this past week back at the homestead. More laundry. But lots of home cooking which tasted so good after only eating out for a week. We accomplished much and had some fantastic meetings with church friends. One of those days I got the gotta-rearrange-furniture bug (which I “catch” every month or two.) I consulted a measuring tape and your daddy’s geometrically minded brain and we set to work. He spoke my love language so beautifully as we worked together to bring our gigantic sectional upstairs to the living room. I had found it on Craigslist back in the fall for $500 and loved it. But it was to be used in the basement “man cave.” Then we rearranged everything and brought the tv and game system upstairs. This left the sectional all forlorn in the basement. 

I LOVE its new home in the living room and I LOVE my husband for taking the time to work with me.  IMG_3881

Today we’re loading the car again and driving back out to Somerset. This time I’ll be the speaker for Young Teen Camp all week! I’m honored to have been asked back, and feel a little more at ease knowing what to expect this time around. (I spoke last year at the same camp.) Kevin is coming with me to spend time away from the office sermon planning through Advent. (And also because I have a leeettle bit of separation anxiety. :)

As I take you with me to camp, I’m praying every day for you to grow to know Jesus (even now) and to seek wisdom. I’m praying that I’ll speak the right words this week, clearly and concisely and kindly, as God leads me. I’m praying these middle schoolers will see Jesus and learn to love him more.

And I’m so excited to watch you “popping out,” Little Girl. You’re beautiful.

IMG_3873_with words

I love you,


The Struggle to Change

Dear Daughter of Mine,

I am learning that being unable to control the physical changes to my body is a considerable mental struggle to overcome. I had suspected that I would have trouble with the weight gain and the clothing size upgrades, but part of me hoped that I’d just be so in love with YOU I might ignore these points of contention.IMG_3858 2.0

I am here to admit that the Lord is certainly using my pregnancy as another means of sanding off my rough edges, my need for control and management of life.

I am here to tell you, Child, that you are a privilege. Carrying you is the greatest honor ever given to me, and I echo the words of Mary, mother of Jesus (Luke 1:38)

I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be to me according to your word.

To be the vessel that God would choose to bring your life into this world leaves me breathless. In all my flaws and rough edges, my imperfections, my need for redemption and forgiveness, God asked me to be your mother. He answered my lifelong prayer. And I am praying His anointing over you even now.

So as the days tick by and my middle expands and my wardrobe dwindles, I am committing to you, Daughter, to live in a place of gratefulness. I will seek God’s strength to embrace these changes and the uncertain future of my body and your birth and this whole mothering thing. I will live in the questions and not seek resolution. I will seek Christ alone. May He remind me of my worth, my calling. May the lessons I learn in these weeks be a beautiful start to a new outlook on my physical being and usher in an attitude of health and wholeness which you will observe and embrace.

I love you, Little One.



The Soul’s Winter

It can’t stay winter forever.

At least that’s what we fervently hope every February or March as the bitter winds blow and the snow clouds roll in day after day. The first time you shovel or don a winter cap it feels exciting and new. But months into a Midwestern winter you begin praying for signs up Spring. The darkness and dreary skies, the depression of it all gets so old after a while.

And that is how it is for our souls. There are seasons for our souls, periods of falling snow and freezing temperatures that make you want to curl in on yourself. The days feel short and clouded with darkness.

But then you turn to Jesus. Those long, dark days continue, but the way the Lord meets you in your sorrow is like sun to a dying flower. He speaks to you almost audibly, you pursue new spiritual disciplines: any way to possibly connect with his goodness. 

You pray and pray for your answer to your pain. You hope and dream and cling to your plans for the future. And little by little the time and his grace chips away at your stubborn grip and you utter in a whisper

Not my will but Yours be done.

You try to convince yourself you believe those words. But your soul knows the truth. Your dream is still your priority and you’re kinda-sorta trying to manipulate the God of the universe into doing things your way. More years pass, appointments come and go, hope fades. But then that same relentless grace offers you freedom and a new hope. You lay down your desire once and for all and you mean it this time. You truly expect nothing in return, and trust the Lord to write you a beautiful new story.

When you look back over all those years of winter you see what God has done in you. He has taken you a few steps further away from your selfishness, your faithlessness. He has shown you glimpses of your gifting and your calling to ministry. He has filled you with a new confidence. He has given you a new heart for the broken people around you, a new sensitivity to the hurt in their eyes, and a new way of being their friend.

And you wouldn’t trade the winter for anything. You see that in the cold, dark, depressed days there had been glittering snow and crackling sidewalks and singing cardinals. Hope. And then the grass starts poking through the frozen earth, the snow melting into the dirty drainpipes of your soul. You embrace this prayer from Romans 15:13

May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

And just when you think you’re happy to be moving on, the Lord answers your prayers in the way you least expected. He says YES. You’re thrilled, over-the-moon, and in complete disbelief. You are ashamed to admit your frustration that after all these years and after you’ve finally moved on now God is answering your prayers. Seriously?! You were going to start grad school in the fall. You were going to [fill in the blank.]

But God’s goodness trumps all.
07_16_15 Flowers

And months later, you’re sitting in the first worship session of General Conference 2015. The worship team begins to read from Mark 5. You’ve heard the stories of the woman healed of her chronic bleeding and the child raised from the dead; you almost tune out. But then it’s as if Christ himself says to you,

“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

And you weep. You weep because He said yes. You weep because he has called you faithful. You weep because He healed you. You weep for the new story the Lord Jesus is writing for you, the way the colors of summer have sprung boldly into your life, a beauty beyond imagine when you’d been reluctant to leave the winter.


I wrote about similar topics twice before – The New Land and Hindsight is 20/20.


Dear Little One, 

We heard your heart beating fast and strong today. What a blessed relief it was! We were assured once again that you are safe and sound, alive and well. God has given me such a peace about your life and my pregnancy. But I still can’t know the future, and as this morning’s doctor’s appointment drew near I couldn’t help by dread the silence. What if there’s no heartbeat?

Cathy had no trouble finding that pumping sound. It was music to my ears. “SHE’S ALIVE!” I exclaimed in joy.

I pray over you every single day, Little Girl. Your life is already a gift; what an experience it will be to be witness to the work of God molding you before our eyes.

We’re still not sure of your name. Girl names were always “easy” for me when I was making baby name lists growing up. Now that you’re a physical part of my life, though, the decision feels so much more important. Even once we choose a name for you, though, we plan to cherish that as our secret before your Birth Day. And with that, I wanted to take a minute and share with our friends some answers to their Frequently Asked Questions.

Where did the name “Baby Fuji” come from?
When we found out we were 5 weeks pregnant, the interwebs told us the baby was the size of an appleseed. Kevin quickly picked a gender-neutral apple name – Fuji – to assign Baby Eccles while in utero. Since we’re keeping her name a surprise, Baby Fuji she will remain.

Have you started a baby registry?
With the adoption saga of February 2015, I opened a registry on Since finding out we’re having a Baby Girl, I have been editing the list to girly-specific items. For those who have asked, here’s the link to the Amazon Registry we created. We’ve also started a rough registry at Walmart for those who need a “physical store” to shop.

We chose a new Crib Bedding set which Kevin and I both love. It’s also perfect with the present room colors – the carpet and walls – and I’ve changed some registry color selections to match better. I purchased Aqua Drapes today that are already hung!

Screenshot 2015-07-08 18.52.47Screenshot 2015-07-08 18.52.56Screenshot 2015-07-08 18.53.03Screenshot 2015-07-08 22.13.12

As I mention in our registry note: Let it be known that you can go OFF REGISTRY if you’d like. We are completely welcoming of homemade gifts or Etsy purchases or thrift store finds or Ebay goods. (Bows & hair clips and other girly items especially welcome!) Any products you think are “essential” that we haven’t registered for? Go for it! Find something we’ve registered for at a cheaper price – do it!

Are you going to bottle feed or breast feed?
Prayerfully, I am planning to breast feed exclusively as long as we are able. I know circumstances cannot be predicted and I will brace myself for necessary changes to the plan. (I do love a good plan, though.)

Cloth or Disposable Diapers? 
Given our bent for frugality and au natural, we’re planning to do cloth diapering. I have done research and really love the BumGenius All-in-One (and one size fits all) diapers. As mentioned in the “registry note” above, however, if you happen make cloth diapers or find a deal at a garage sale or something crazy like that, I would not at all be opposed or offended by that.


Any other questions or suggestions are more than welcome, any time. (Just don’t touch the “weight” topic with a thousand foot pole, pleaseandthankyou.)