“…but the years are short.” 

Most of our neighbors are elderly. And whenever I spend time with them I walk away reminded to cherish this season of life I’m in. 

When they share their lives and stories with me, they never share about how perfect they were. 

They don’t share about how impeccable their lawns were (currently my lawn is dead and stressing me out) or how decorated their homes were. They aren’t sharing about how amazing the meals they made were. They don’t share about how much or how little they had in their bank accounts.

They share about memories they had, life they lived with their kiddos/families. They shared about what made/makes them feel alive, and the trend I hear among them all is it isn’t in anything they possessed or a status they held.

It’s who they held, and the memories they made along the way. It was the simple moments. 

They share about how much they miss these years when the kids are young. 

They tell me to soak it up. 

To savor it.
 My neighbor Marie just kept kissing Atlas and speaking this to me repeatedly. 

I came home again today and this (the images on this post) is what happened and what I saw. 

This isn’t staged. 

This is our real life. 

It is messy, imperfect and truly so beautiful simultaneously. 

We hear “the days are long but the years are short” often but man do I feel an emphasis on “the years are short”, today. 

(It’s also rare they ever share with me how tired or worn out they felt, either! So guess what, fellow mommas, I’m assuming maybe that’s the part we won’t remember the most in the long run! 🙌🏻) 

Finding A Rhythm  

Yesterday by 7PM I realized, besides feeding him, I hadn’t actually held Atlas. I hadn’t soaked in his newborn squishy, soft sweetness. It wasn’t intentional, of course, but it broke my heart a little. 

And then Ted captured this sweet moment where our Wonder-boy was wide awake and staring up at me. We both just sat and took each other in, it was so precious and oh so needed. 

In many ways right now, I felt like I’m re-adjusting and learning to navigate these parenting waters and often am drowning – so to speak. I was writing tonight and felt to share for someone out there who may need this. 

Moms, we all know giving and pouring out are musts as a momma. But pausing to rest, soak in, savor, take time to recharge – these all {must} be intentional. We have to find a rhythm between filling up and pouring out. 

Over the years as a mom I’ve recognized my need to fill up and have started to realize that it isn’t selfish but actually one of the best things I can do for my family. 

When I first became a mom I wish someone had taken my by the shoulders, shook me a little and said to me: It ISN’T selfish to take time for yourself. And you are NOT weak if you need to ask for help. Now I’ve had many whom I love do this to me but it’s because I’m obviously bat sh*t crazy. 😉

Don’t let yourself go, or get to this crazy state. I mean there will always be a level of CRAY as a mom, let’s be real – but I’m talking about the I-feel-like-I’m-drowning-haven’t-had-a-minute-to-myself-in-months kind of crazy. 

Take time for yourself, get out (or stay in or even just sit in your vehicle!) and do something you love. 

And if you’re local and you’re going crazy, reach out to me. Seriously. I’m here and yes I have many kiddos but that’s also a perk because well, I have many kiddos so what’s one or 4 more haha! 

I know this is a novel, but if you stuck to the end you must have needed it. We’ve got this, mommas! 

Meet Atlas

Meet our littlest man, our “bookend boy”, Atlas! As you can see I think he photo above, he arrived nearly 3 weeks ago now! We are all smitten! 

He shocked us all by having a head full of A. HAIR. And B. DARK HAIR (like momma!!) I’m still obviously freaking out over this. 

We had many feelings and words for this sweet boy and I thought I’d share a few main ones!He is/will be a boy/man who:

– is filled with awe and wonder for life. “He who carries/captures wonder.” I also saw this quote right before he was born that I really loved too “Be filled with with wonder, be touched by peace.” -a boy/man of strength and quiet confidence.-defender of the weak and broken. – like King David, a man after God’s own heart. The youngest brother but a great leader. 

Our little Wonder-boy has captured our hearts greatly in his few weeks with us. He’s the sweetest and quietest baby! Sleeps and eats like a champ, too. He caught his first cold by weeks 2 because, well he had a sick welcoming committee when we arrived home. But now he (and everyone) is doing great! 

Mourning into Joy 

I have the honour of being a part of a series called mourning into joy stories started by Sharon McKeeman (@sharonmckeeman on instagram #mourningintojoystories). As I began to write, I realized that there was more I wanted to share than a few sentences on instagram hence this blog post. I feel like sharing my own process might help someone out there.

*Disclaimer, this post is super raw and real and deals a lot with loss, mess and mental illness. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, please feel free to avoid this post!*

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2017. We’ve now entered the 7th year since we lost our daughter Eisley. In some ways it definitely feels like it’s been years, and in others it feel as though it was just yesterday. Here is a bit of our journey and my own honest process through loss.

At 13 weeks pregnant I bled, they found a blood clot which ultimately killed 2/3 of my placenta by week 19. And so began our journey with our Eisley-girl. Nearly every day for months we were told that we would lose her (due to the lack of nourishment to her body). That we should abort her and get on with our lives. But she fought, she held on longer than they’d ever expected. So much longer that the day before she passed away they shared with us that they’d deemed her “viable” and they would deliver her the next Friday. While her potential death had been lingering in it minds for months, it was still a complete shock to our systems when she passed away. It felt unbelievable – she’d held on for so long (7 months). We were so close. We had prayed and believed with everything in us. Many around the world prayed for her. And yet there we were, suddenly thrown into a world of loss: deciding how to birth her (we choose induction and she came 3 days later), preparing to meet her only to say goodbye, planning arrangements for her body, a memorial service to honour her life… and then the years of grief that have followed since.

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At first, I felt peace. Along with many, many things and I let myself feel through them all. I thought I was grieving “well”, to be honest. And then year after year I noticed my heart growing harder, I realized my prayer life had died along with our sweet girl. I didn’t even know how to pray and even how to believe for the best anymore. I denied these things, of course. Until the ache and bitterness inside me seeped out. Into my marriage, my family, my friends. My dreams and desires had changed, even my beliefs shifted. 2015 was my toughest year – I found myself depressed beyond what I’d ever imagined. My marriage was falling apart due to distance I’d created. I felt angry and bitter at everything, especially with God.

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I found myself living defensively, afraid to be broken again – believing I couldn’t possibly live through anymore brokenness and I’d do my best to control all things to avoid this. Having control seemed like the place to be. It seemed safer than giving anyone or God the reigns, that much was certain. So I clenched my fists and held on. But what I found instead was I felt out of control trying to maintain control. I was always angry (still struggle with this bad habit), always defensive and overly protective, always building new walls, all while trying to appear as though I had it all together. Trying to show loss hadn’t broken me beyond repair, that God was still on the throne of my life, that having two healthy pregnancies after Eisley had “redeemed” many things. Yet beneath the hardened shell was a broken Jami who didn’t even know if she believed in God anymore, and she certainly didn’t believe the sayings she’d heard others speak over her to cover her grieving and broken heart. Beneath it all was a girl who felt she’d scarred her marriage, her children and her own life beyond repair. A girl who felt all hope was lost and constantly wondered how she’d carry on.
I hit rock bottom March 2015. I entered the new year pregnant yet lost the baby at 8 weeks. Less than a month later, our daughter Everly (almost 1) was hospitalized with RSV and it triggered memories of loss and I imagined the worst case scenario possible during the scary times with her. Though she was only in for 4 days and recovered well it triggered grief I’d shoved away and it all felt too much to handle. And to be completely honest, the best option I saw was to leave this world of pain and heartache. I walked my husband and family through hell on that terrible night in March, when I felt I couldn’t continue living the way I was.

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But Jesus met me in my brokeness. When I felt all hope was lost. He met me and I didn’t feel hopeless even though I didn’t know what was next. My husband and I started counseling. I got on medication for depression and anxiety. And we fought: for life, for restoration, for hope, for dreams.
By the time 2016 came I still felt broken though healing was happening. Ted had to move away to Alaska to provide for us as a family and I suddenly was thrown into parenting alone and actually two of my worst fears were combined: I felt so alone. And I felt judged and misunderstood by those around me.
It was unfair to place expectations on others to look after me, especially when I wasn’t honest with where I was really at emotionally/mentally. But I did. And guess what? I was wounded and expectations weren’t met. And I felt utterly alone – so alone in fact it felt physically painful.
And He met me again. Jesus, without any amount of phony sayings to get me through suffering, He just met me in my broken mess. I picture it like this: I’m sitting on the ground with huge glass mirrors shattered all around me. No one wants to come close because of the mess and the fear of being hurt themselves, but here comes this guy I’d rejected so much in the past few years. He didn’t care about the mess, the chance of being wounded… He cared about ME. In fact so much that He joined me in the thick of the mess and brokenness.

“In brokenness I see your face, the colour of your eyes and the taste of your ways.”

(I wrote this years ago and it’s so very true. I realized how close He really was. He’s in my suffering with me.)

Finals-14(September 17, 2013. Eisley’s 3rd birthday, and pregnant with our second daughter, Everly)

Suffering is so complex. And I still have my doubts, I still have questions, and still have no full answers but one thing I do believe with everything within me is that He meets me here. In this mess, in the suffering. He doesn’t shun me for asking the hard questions or for having doubt. He can handle me at my worst and is unashamed of me. He is not disappointed with me. He’s WITH me in my suffering.
Whatever you are going through currently or still processing from years and maybe decades past, HE is with you in your suffering. And anyone who tells you that you must have blind faith, and accept that He “gives and takes away”. Let it go. It isn’t true. He is a good and loving Father and He didn’t do “this” to you. (Seriously, go and watch the sermon on Job by Greg Boyd called Twisted Scripture – it wrecked me in the best way!)
People may not be able to handle you at your worst, but Jesus sure can. Go to Him, He will walk beside you until you find your feet and even then He stays put, helping you as you walk through this journey of loss, heartache and pain.

Through every ebb and flow of grief’s waves. Through every memory that still stings, through every present ache that exists.

He is with you, carrying you, holding you, crying with you…

He will be with you always.

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He can turn your mourning into joy.

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Since the loss of our Eisley-girl, we have since welcomed two healthy pregnancies and babies into our family. While they do not take the place of our sweet girl or perfectly redeem what we’ve walked through, their precious lives have helped in our healing process. We are so grateful for who they are, and how much they’ve impacted our family!

Shailo Valour (5) – We were terrified during his pregnancy yet felt so strongly that he was everything we named him, Shailo (Shiloh) – God’s gift, a place of peace and rest and worship in a time of battle and Valour (Valor) meaning courage in the face of fear/battle, brave. He has truly, even from the womb, been our brave little gift from God in the midst of fear/anxiety/battle. Seriously, our lives are so much more full, exciting and adventurous with Shailo Valour in our lives.

And Everly Selah (almost 3) –  I remember crying out to Him one evening and journaling my heart out. There was a part of me that felt we would have another daughter someday, and I decided on that evening her name would be a reflection (of who He is to us, to her and who she is to Him) and a declaration that would mean “Forever Amen”. I knew that I wanted her name to declare that He is forever sovereign, good, loving, caring, worthy, etc, etc, etc… amen. We wanted to declare that even though we’ve walked through the darkest valley (for us) He is still all of the beautiful things we believed He was. Despite our suffering and loss, He was still good and caring. We were still His and He was still our Father who loved us. I decided I wanted our next girl’s name to mean forever… so I decided on Ever and added ‘ly’ to fit with our Eisley-girl’s name. Though she ins’t here with us on Earth, I still, very much so, wanted her to be apart of our family. Even when it comes to names. 

We are now 30 weeks pregnant with our 3rd son, and we are hopeful and believing he will be joining us come early March! 

Pumpkin Painting 2016

pumpkinpainting2016-2Each year we paint our pumpkins. I’m not a huge fan of carving pumpkins and I’d much rather  clean up paint than pumpkin “guts” haha. So we paint! I started this when Chase was 2, and it’s been a hit ever since!pumpkinpainting2016-3pumpkinpainting2016-1-2pumpkinpainting2016-1pumpkinpainting2016-18pumpkinpainting2016-15pumpkinpainting2016-16Cutie pumpkinpainting2016-14

Concentrating :) Shailo made many things on his pumpkin including an A. pumpkinpainting2016-9pumpkinpainting2016-10pumpkinpainting2016-11Ever chose many shades of pink, some purple, teal and gold. On her own – that’s my girl ;) pumpkinpainting2016-17

Chase did a dragon breathing fire. pumpkinpainting2016-7pumpkinpainting2016-6Love these crazy, fun kids!

Past pumpkin fun that I’ve shared here:

“Punkin” painting 2011

Pumpkin Painting 2012

Pumpkin Patch 2016

This year we ventured to Canon City, Colorado to Diana’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch. It was worth the drive and really reasonable compared to other pumpkin patches around! I recommend it!fall2016_pumpkinpatch-1fall2016_pumpkinpatch-2fall2016_pumpkinpatch-3fall2016_pumpkinpatch-12fall2016_pumpkinpatch-7Searching for their “perfect” pumpkins. fall2016_pumpkinpatch-9fall2016_pumpkinpatch-8fall2016_pumpkinpatch-5

fall2016_pumpkinpatch-11fall2016_pumpkinpatch-14Above: I found my perfect pumpkins :) fall2016_pumpkinpatch-18

Our littlest “pumpkin” – okay, okay I’ll stop with the fall references ;) fallkids2016-1-2

Ted strongly suggested that I got in the picture. I really dislike being in front of the camera anymore. But I knew for the kids sake and the fact that we can now look back years later and have THIS amazing gem, it would be worth it! I honestly almost didn’t share this image because this momma isn’t as tiny as she used to be. My biggest yet, but it is where I’m at and I know I won’t be here forever. Thankful for this little one growing inside!

Ted took all of the above photos with our Canon and I edited them. Below are iphone photos.

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“Mommy, where are my toes? … There they are!”

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Chaseyboy helping Evey down the biggest slide.

Another fun, HOT trip to the pumpkin patch for the books!

Some “throwbacks” below minus a few years I didn’t blog:

Baby Chase – Harvest Farm 2009

Pregnant with Shailo – “Punkin” patch 2011

Pumpkin Patch 2012

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Apple Orchard + Pumpkin Patch 2015

Aspens + Kiddos

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Chaseyboy, age 7.

I love this boy’s spirit of adventure. He’s always up for a trip to the mountains, or a nearby creek or trail. Here he is with his newly lost top tooth next to the giant one which came out months ago :)fall2016-1fall2016-2Shai, almost 5-years-old.

Literally everywhere we go Shailo collects sticks or rocks or pinecones. “Treasures” to him! We have many lying around our yard from all over Colorado.

fall2016-15Ever, 2.5-years-old.

She can be super girly and usually will choose a pretty dress over anything else, however, she’s always running just a step behind her brothers. She’s a brave little wildflower!fallkids2016-1-6Everly in her beautiful dress made by The Simple Kind . We couldn’t pack it up for fall, so she’ll be wearing it with leggings and a sweater when the weather cools down! fall2016-13

It was a beautiful and quite memorable trip to spot the changing Aspens! Just to keep it real – and look back and laugh someday – the drive 1.5 hours into the mountains was great but upon arrival there were many tears she by Little Miss Ever over her jacket hood being down. We also forgot our dog Lewis’ leash and he wasn’t allowed to wander about so we had to leave him in the car which caused more tears and frustration from ALL of the kids. The mom and dad of this adorable bunch exchanged some not-so-kind words in the midst of the chaos. And THEN we enjoyed our time in the mountains. :) Well worth it all in the end. Will we do it again, yes. Will it be chaotic, you bet. Such is this life that we’ve chosen and I find it truly amazing!

ALL photos above were taken by Ted and edited by me. The photo below was snapped on my iphone to capture daddy in the pics as well. <3

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No small thing.

I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you. – Isaiah 46:4

10398778_8392886988_2318_n(statue in Thailand, from one of our times there)

I see it on the news, on social media feeds, on newspapers, even if you were to avoid all of that – you still see it in the eyes of neighbors, or someone you pass at the grocery store: suffering and pain. This world overwhelms me with its incredible pain and suffering, and it isn’t ceasing, if anything it increases daily.

I sometimes want to turn away and ignore what’s before me. Whether it be something I see in our own neighbors or the homeless man whom we see almost daily near our home’s exit, or what I know is happening in my extended families, or what we’ve seen overseas from Red Light District in Amsterdam and Thailand to the streets of Indonesia and Malayasia, or maybe it’s in the stories we’ve heard of starving children in refugee camps.
THERE IS SO MUCH pain. Too much.
I felt overwhelmed this morning, angry even, crying out about the needs and brokenness I see. I was remembered this verse. It’s one of my favorites. And I know personally, His carrying, sustaining and rescuing doesn’t always look like what we might imagine, but He always does pull through, even if it’s simply His presence and peace felt in a season of chaos, ruin of dreams or lives, and even death.

There is a sense of peace that comes when remembering HE has overcome the world. HE has made, carries, sustains and rescues our broken souls, even our own and whatever “little” to big thing we may be walking through.

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(from my trip to Indonesia)

Every single soul we come in contact with has meaning and purpose.

Well, duh! We all know this, right?

There is something I’ve noticed in my own life. It isn’t pretty and it’s tempting to skip over this part.

Something can happen when you’ve traveled around the world and seen the things we’ve seen. What’s before us, here in front of us in our typical American neighborhood, can seem so small and insignificant. I once heard someone say that they couldn’t engage with others here (in America) because of the things they had seen overseas. They’d decided that the people’s problems were small and insignifanct compared. I was surprised by that perspective but then I had my own moment at a soccer game where I realized I too had this sense of entitlement, where I had decided someone’s story/life were insignificant.

A fellow soccer mom who I had engaged with throughout the soccer season, asked to swap numbers. I caught myself, and it hit me, when had I started thinking it was okay to decide  that someone’s life/pain was less significant or meaningful because they aren’t walking through the horror/tragedy I’ve seen others walking through? I feel like it was a moment that has forever changed my perspective. It’s like this,

“Saying someone can’t be sad because someone else may have it worse is like saying someone can’t be happy because someone else may have it better. ~Unknown”

Since Ted has been gone this quote had truly popped up in my mind SO many times. I had many, many, many people compare their life and circumstances to my own – without my husband here – and talk their own struggles down. And I constantly thought it and spoke it out when I could, their struggle or pain or exhaustion was REAL.

There story/life wasn’t insignificant simply because my own personal walk looked different than theirs. 

But what does this mean? To actively live this out, recognizing that every person we come in contact – along with their problems – is signigicant, does that mean we bear even more weight of the world?

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It would feel easy to get all wrapped up in feeling overwhelmed again. To either shut down and ignore it or try to carry it all. But friends, maybe it isn’t our job to carry all the weight of all the world, but instead lighten it whenever we can, in whatever capacity we can.

Is there any act of good that is small? I really don’t believe there is!

I immediately think of my own life, in this season since Ted has been away, and the seemingly small things that have had a huge impact on my life that others have done to take care of us. From meals, watching my kids, speaking truth where I’ve believed lies, a friend offering her husband to come over and chase my boys around since their daddy is gone, asking me how it’s going, inviting me to things, helping carry the weight of my husband being away. THESE ARE NO SMALL THINGS.

Listening to the neighbors or a friend that just need a listening ear, a word of compassion or encouragement. That is NO SMALL THING.

Making eye contact or even introducing yourself to another momma at the park. That is NO SMALL THING.

Giving a water and granola bar to the homeless man with kind eyes, who often stands at your home’s exit. That is NO SMALL THING.

Being a parent. Enough said, right? That is NO SMALL THING.

Asking others about their life, showing that you care and desire to know how they are doing. That is NO SMALL THING.

One of my dearest friends in one of the most giving and humble souls I know. She is constantly doing good, with whomever she comes in contact with – from her neighbors to the refugee center she takes her 3 small children too biweekly. It isn’t for other eyes to behold, her name isn’t shinning in light as she never shares it publicly. She simply does good for the sake of being Jesus to others. It’s unseen to others, but the people she’s reaching THEY see it. And that is NO SMALL THING. (I do love to read of the good others are doing elsewhere or here in my own town, so I’m not saying sharing publicly is an issue! )

What I am saying is that these good things that are done, even the seemingly insignificant ones, even the unseen ones, they are NO SMALL THINGS.

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(another one from one of our times in Thailand)

We are doing good. We are being Jesus. We might not even recognize it because it can sometimes feel it’s too simple, not significant enough to make a difference, not blog-worthy enough to write home about even, but it is truly significant. We are being light and goodness, even on a small-scale, it is impactful to the heart of that person.

Which is NO SMALL THING.

Take heart, friends. Do what you can. And remember Jesus has overcome (fill in the blank)__________. He is your Maker, your Carrier, your Sustainer, and your Rescuer.

He is also THEIR Maker, Carrier, Sustainer and Rescuer.

Be Jesus and let Him carry the weight of the world while you/we do good.

Spring Puddle Fun.

Yesterday it snowed, and today the warmth of the close Colorado sun melted it away. You can imagine the puddles! My kids were overjoyed to to get outside.  Heckman-16.jpgI peeked out my window, while cleaning the kitchen, to spot Shailo jumping in the largest puddle. I decided to put aside my cleaning and pick up my Canon. Heckman-5Heckman-6Everly and Chase made their way to the largest puddle and soon joined in with our Wild and Free Shai. Heckman-7Heckman-17Heckman-9I’d count to 3 and they’d jump. The giggles were amazing, the mess even greater ;) I only regret that I didn’t snap photos of their faces! What was I thinking? haha. Heckman-12Heckman-13Heckman-18Well, I guess I did get one. But this was when Everly had reached her breaking point…

Heckman-15… when brothers jumped and splashed her and she wasn’t ready.Heckman-14

I swooped her up and off we went to dry of the little wildflower of the house ;) I love all of these moments, and capturing these moments today was fun. I finally have my cameras back, and can’t wait to capture more!

Wild Explorers (Club)

We’re now a month into what’s called the Wild Explorers Club, and let me tell you, it has been a blast. We heard about it when introduced to the Wild and Free Children, which is equally amazing! Unfortunately, I can’t find any groups locally. But that didn’t discourage us, we decided to do it on our own (if you’d ever want to join us, let me know!)

HeckmanThis ‘program’ has truly helped nurture and guide my naturally adventurous crew. They are currently a wolf – and are making their way up to be a bald eagle. (It is a 24 month program with 10 levels. Click the link above for more details.) Each animal (level) they complete, they can get a embroidered patch of that animal! Heckman-14

Each new week they are given an assignment, which they anxiously await to hear. To share an example, the week we snapped these photos, their assignment was to simply find a hiking stick which they can take with us every time we venture out.

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We already have quite a few at home, but we went out in search of the ‘best’ and they each found one.Heckman-25

Well, Everly found two :)Heckman-17We then tore off the bark, making it bare. (we later used a pocket knife to finish it) Heckman-26

They then tested their hiking sticks, using it to help cross treacherous waters ;) Heckman-20

It has, so far, been very doable for our lifestyle and schedules. Heckman-9Heckman-10We pick the day(s) we go out and explore. It’s rarely the same day each week, and since we homeschool and make most of our own schedule, it has truly been easy to find time for. Heckman-7And now, Lewie comes along, if the trial allows. Heckman-5

You should check out this program if you have little or bigs who enjoy nature and exploring! Shailo and Everly even join in though it’s mostly for Chase’s age and older. Heckman-4

Me and my girl. Faces of concentration ;) I’m usually behind the lens, so it was special to have Ted (who was visiting from Alaska) capture this one and a few from above.