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A good God is not OK with this.

One of the biggest complaints that I hear against God is this: “How could a good God be ok with the evil that happens in the world? Or more frequently it’s, “How could God let this happen to me?” Although there are many questions about God that do, this question has never given me heartache. Here’s why (I’ll give you a hint, it turns out He’s actually NOT ok with it):

God created a flawless world for us and gave us free reign of it. More than that, He gave us himself and perfect relationship with Him. We rejected the latter and as a result, we completely and entirely corrupted the former. At the moment of this first betrayal God already saw all of the evil that would happen for all of time unfolding—shootings and bombings to “smaller,” individual, daily acts of racism and hate. His grief was immense. He was, in fact, NOT “ok” with it. And from that moment, at the beginning of creation, He put a plan in place to repair, heal, and restore – both the creation and the relationship.

Before we even knew evil, God was grieving it and He was writing the redemption story.

So when people say “How could God not…” my immediate thought is “He does and that’s why He…”

I listened to a Tim Keller podcast the other day and one line struck me like an arrow to my heart: “Jesus didn’t come to bring judgment to the world, He came to bear it.” Exactly. 

Some people hear the claim that “Jesus suffered and died to save us” and it doesn’t really mean much of anything to them. What I think often goes unrecognized is that the magnitude of Jesus’s suffering wasn’t in the physical suffering. It was in the “bearing of judgment.” Jesus bore the wrath and grief of God toward all evil (including the events of this week). That, my friends, is how NOT ok God is with evil. That was His own son, if you remember. The magnitude of his death wasn’t actually in the death itself either – but rather the fact that he LITERALLY raised himself from the dead in an act of utter defeat of death and evil.

My church often reminds us that Jesus’ kingdom looks eerily like the world He created (go figure): People of ALL color, ALL nations, ALL races, ALL genders, ALL ages. The idea of any one group holding more value in His kingdom than another is preposterous, and so should the idea be to us, even here. Jesus is the great equalizer. We are all equal before Him; equally sinful, equally loved, equally covered by the blood.

Whenever one of these evil tragedies that we’ve become so accustomed to takes place, I find myself reading and reading and reading people’s responses to it. I want so badly to know how people are hurting so I can try to hurt with them. I think I am also searching desperately for hope in their conclusions. But at the end of the day the only place I find even the faintest comfort is at the feet of Jesus where I can confidently say:

“THIS SUCKS. This hurts. This is the deepest kind of wrong. My friends are hurting. My country is hurting. Our world is SERIOUSLY HURTING. Don’t even get me started thinking about my kids growing up in this place…And yet, I never doubt whether you are OK with this or not. I know this hurts you even more than it hurts us. And I know that’s exactly why you came and bore the weight of all evil and death in order to redeem the world. You purchased us back from the grips of all the evil we are facing today with your precious blood.  

If you were just “OK” with evil, you’d have turned your back the moment we chose to rebel against you and washed your hands of us all. You'd have left us to our own demise. Thank you for not doing that. Thank you that even now, as we continue to rebel against you every day, you still love us. Thank you that even now, as we experience great evil right under our noses, you have already defeated it. Thank you for your perfect peace in a world torn apart by terror. Thank you for the light of eternity.”


Clive + Rainier

Sweet "Buddy Boy",
(As your sissy likes to call you)

It took us a long time to settle on your name. A boy's name has to one day be a man's name and to give a man his "man name" is a big deal. We kinda felt liked we killed it when naming your sister Florence (no shame) and so we had a lot to live up to.

The simple story is that Mamma and Papa were lying in bed one night reading one of the best books and greatest love stories in the entire world. (If you haven't read A Severe Mercy, go pick yourself up a copy as quick as you can Prime it. Or go to a local bookstore...)

In the book there are lots of letters back and forth between the author and one of his dear friends, C.S. Lewis. If there is one author that has impacted our faith the most, it's probably Mr. C.S. So the naming of our first born son went something like this:

"Hmm, C.S. Lewis...his first name was Clive right? What about Clive? Yes, Clive is sweet. Wait, is Clive weird or is it sweet? Clive is sweet. Let's name him Clive! Clive Owen is kinda hunky too and that's who most people will think of..."

Romantic right? I wish we had a better story for you sweetie.

(Fun fact: we later discovered that Clive Staples Lewis' mother's name was Florence. Meant to be).

As for Rainier, that was a bit harder. We flirted with lots of middle names for you and then Rainier jumped into the mix. We had a similar dialogue:

"Is Rainier too weird? Is it too weird to pair it with Clive, which is already a little weird? We don't want him to have a weird name. Will people in Washington think we named him after a mountain and think it's weird? ARE we naming him after a mountain? If Mt. Rainier erupts, will we regret using the name Rainier? No, Rainier is sweet. Clive Rainier sounds killer together. Clive Rainier Nelson. Check."

So whether we named you after a mountain or we were just inspired by the name of the mountain, we'll never really know. But one thing I know is that my whole life, that mountain has been the definition of God's majesty in creation to me. So if we did name you after a mountain, that would be ok too.

Mr. Clive, we think the name fits you perfectly! And you fit us perfectly too. Love you heaps and heaps our little man.


Yo Mamma


No expectations

I signed in today and actually had to reorient myself with how google blogger works. That's how long it's been since I've visited this corner of my universe. I gasped when I saw the pictures of Florence in the last post and tried to remember what that little girl sounded like, smelled like, and felt like snuggled in my lap. I couldn't. I've already forgotten so much, but I'm so busy trying to climb inside her little toddler world and get to know the little lady she's becoming, that I've come to terms with the fact that stages go quickly and there is no way to bottle it matter how hard you try or how many instas you gram. As my dear friend Brett likes to say, "babies don't keep." No, they don't. And speaking of...

I HAVE A NEW BABY SINCE I LAST BLOGGED. (And he's already not keeping).

In fact, I was pregnant with him for 9 months, brought him into this lovely Spring world, and have kept two kids alive for almost 4 weeks since I last blogged.

So why am I here? I'm not entirely sure except that today I had an overwhelming desire to crack this book back open and try to put some thoughts to pen again.

Honestly, I don't know whether I'll be writing every week, every month, or whether I will basically peace out after this post and write in another year and half. As the title of the post suggests, I have very few expectations of myself these days when it comes to a lot of things...and especially when it comes to this blog. But here's to taking it off the shelf and blowing off the dust at least...perhaps just to gather dust again on my coffee table (along with the pacifier, tubs of playdough, baby socks, dirty diapers, empty tea cups...)

Cheers to being back!

PS, I included an obligatory cute photo because if there is one thing I remember it's that it doesn't count as a post to ninety percent of your readers without a good still involved.


the things i'm noticing about you.

florence ruth,

life has been happening so fast that i've hardly had time to notice it all. i have been trying to take little snippets of time lately to work on that. to work on noticing more. noticing all the little things that i just adore about you, your sweet self, and your stinking-hilarious personality.

you are almost ten months but you still cry every time you hear sudden laughter. which makes everyone laugh. which makes you cry more. you giggle so hard your eyes water sometimes. but if anyone else laughs, you get so upset. we aren’t laughing at you girl. we just think you are the cutest thing. (because you are the cutest thing).

you smile so big every single time you sneeze. there's not a feeling in the world you love more than a good sneeze. except for getting your diaper changed. you let us know just how much you love this by fussing 75% of the time we change you. and then there is the 25% of the time when you smile and giggle during the process. which encourages us to forge on with diaper changes. i think they are worth it honey.

you love to dance and bounce your booty to any brightly colored plastic musical toy that you can get your hands on. talk about something that makes me smile. my little white girl shaking her thang. it’s a beautiful sight.

whenever you are around older babies you watch. you love to watch, observe, and then jump in. cautious but courageous, you are. you will climb the stairs just because your best friend lily did. or crawl around after your cousin eden. you are not about to miss out on the fun. but you like to stop and smell the roses too. you move fast, but the smallest thing will stop you in your tracks and draw you in. gah, i love it.

you like to point at things. and wave at things. and poke and pick at things. your little pointer finger gets a lot of work on an average day. and when you aren't point, pick, or poking you are chewing...on everything!

you have two little teeth in the bottom of your smile...and yes you may have anything you want.

oh my gracious and have i mentioned yet that you recently learned to kiss? you like to kiss with your whole mouth. some might call it eating your mamma’s face off. but i call it a smoochy. and i couldn’t get enough smoochies in a day if i tried.

and PRAISE the good LORD, but i think my little girl has finally full-heartedly inherited her mamma’s snuggle-gene. around nine months you caught on to the fact that snuggling all cozy-like in your mamma’s arms is indeed the best feeling in the world. and you do it before every nap, before every bedtime, and sometimes just because (what??!!). i am high right now just thinking about it. if it were possible to have anything be better than your smoochies, it would be your snuggles.

your hair is long enough for pigtails now, but i can't bring myself to do it because i'm legitimately afraid that i might explode. but it's happening soon, just so you know.

baby girl, i could never put you on paper.
i could never write you in a letter, even though i try.
you are just too much.
my heart literally grows every day.


(smoochies and snuggles)


that time florence turned six months and then I didn’t blog again for a month…

and then she was seven months.
and that’s basically the end of that story.

between my job at duke, my arbonne business, my seven month old (see above) and the 100 other things that are constantly in orbit around my tired head, i rarely have time to post on this abandoned space of mine anymore. i would apologize and say i’ll try harder, but to be honest i am not sure that i can. but ok, i'll try harder. i think.

but today i have a second. so today, i write!

i could write about florence turning seven months. i mean, literally i could write every day about how she’s changed since the day before. no two days are the same when you are growing at ten times the speed of light. one thing of note, she is finally starting to fill out and officially has TWO legs rolls now, albeit small ones. but to be honest, y’all probably just want to see pictures more than read a bunch of mushy gushy mamma love. and that’s all i have to offer on the topic of florence right now so….

what i will write about is this: during the past 5 months i have been working two jobs and trying desperately to spend as much time as that allows with my baby girl. and one crazy and unideal thing about the world of grant funded research is that grants run out. and research teams have to find new grants or new jobs. soooo fun right? well our grant is ending and so starting tomorrow i will be unemployed by duke and home with my baby until God (hopefully asap) opens up the next door for me. it’s scary because, well, bills. (and mortgage and groceries and…you know, the basic things that kind of require income). but i am trying hard to not allow the fear of finances take away from this unexpected extra time with my SWEETHEART, which ideally i could afford to have a lot more of. J so if you were wondering what’s going on with us over here, there you have it! unemployment! arbonne! and a 10 day dose of the west coast starting thursday evening! 

anyways, one way that God has provided for us in the most unexpectedly beautiful way in this season-of-surprise-child (and therefore surprise expenses behind every door) is through arbonne. that’s right i said arbonne again. but seriously, one of these days i am going to share just what it’s done for us and how pretty amazingly-crazy-awesome it’s been. but not today because it is deserving of it’s own post, for sure. but hopefully it will happen before florence is eight months. which will basically be tomorrow.

 love you all!!!


six months.

beautiful baby girl,

you have survived half of a year. and the crazy thing is that somehow, so have i. this time last year i was fourteen weeks pregnant with you and still getting over the shock. this time this year, i can't remember not knowing you. you are such a little joy. and such a little girl now. your papa and i love to make you laugh, to watch you sleep, to take you to all of our favorites places, and to see all of our favorite people. you are so small, yet you feel like our best friend. we could stare and stare at you all day because you have a different precious expression each second. it's amazing how much you say with just your face. it's amazing how much you say with your sweet little voice too. we have NO idea what you are saying to us, but we love it when you do. keep it coming girl!

in these six months you've learned how to do all of those things you are "supposed" to learn. you are making your way in this world just fine little gal. you are tall and thin and no matter how hard i try to beef you up you just keep getting taller and skinnier. you have exactly one roll. i love that roll. sometimes i call it your sushi roll, which makes no sense, but i love sushi and i love your one little cute little chubby roll. it's on your right leg. it gives me hope that someday you'll get some chunk on your skinny self.

you are so distracted by everything and you never stop moving. it's fun, exhausting, and so much fun. i can't even imagine what you'll be like once you start crawling. i'll turn my head and you'll be halfway to florence in ten seconds flat. that's ok, i'll follow you there. we can have some gelato together on the steps of ponte vecchio. i love to dream with you girl. dream of our future relationship. dream of our mother-daughter bond. dream of the adventures we'll go on together. dream of days at the beach and evenings in forts reading books.

you look more and more like your papa all the time and everyone likes to tell me that. of course, it's one of my favorite things about you. i mean, have you seen your papa? he's a good one to take after. i think you have a little bit of me in there somewhere. i mean, you do have my tongue. it's long and pointy and you stick it out ALL the time. yeah, it's adorable.

i could keep gushing but i'm sure i've thoroughly embarrassed you by now. get used to that BABE. i've got all those crazy mamma tendencies already when it comes to you.

i love you more than all the love. tvb.



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