that’s what she said, virgin style


I’m sitting here with Tavryn Joelle, our miracle born this October, bundled against me, snoozing her content little heart out. The fire is crackling. Lights are twinkling. Dog is prancing. Husband is dinner-prepping. And yes, the stockings are hung with care.

And a woman’s voice echoes in my ear. Faint. Distant. About 2000 years old. Last year her words whispered to me, held my attention, and became a roaring anthem of 2019.

Her story was one I knew. And yet didn’t, too. I’d heard it so many times but last year there was something so new and so captivating to me. I read through Luke 1-2 at Christmas, and then I didn’t leave that passage for months. Instead, I saturated, returning to it day after day indefinitely, taken anew with this woman’s voice when she said “may it be to me according to your Word.”

So basically, you should stop reading this and go read Luke 1-2. Go read what she said.

This voice, this woman, was of course Mary. And those words were her response to the Angel Gabriel announcing that she, a virgin, would bear Jesus, the Messiah. His proof text was that Elizabeth, the barren woman, was also pregnant – yeah, we’ll come back to that.

I was mesmerized by both of these women and their responses to the unexpected.

… may it be to me according to your Word …

These words – this short, simple sentence – contains a lifetime’s worth of wisdom. Of surrender. And of power. You could sum up the Christian call in these words. May it be to me – to us – according to the Word of God.

The Word that is true. That is alive. That is both shocking and comforting. That calls us to things that are daunting and delightful. That asks the impossible – and then delivers it.

Aristotle once said that he would rather the probable impossible than the improbable possible. Me too. At least I like the romance of it. Sometimes the living of it is much harder.

I’ve lived both. And when Mary’s words crossed my path as if for the first time last year, I had no idea the tone they’d set for the year that was to come. I was in the midst of deep grief after the death of a dear friend. I was wrestling against a brutal diagnosis of a loved one. I was asking for impossible things.

And Mary’s words – this simple anthem, this prayer – found deep roots in my heart each day. May it be to me according to your Word.

And you know, that friend is still gone. That diagnosis hasn’t changed. And I’m still asking for the same impossible things.

Because this prayer isn’t meant to fix all, but to surrender all.

All while unbeknownst to me, I was about to be the unexpectedly pregnant barren woman. Get this. Here I sat last year, saturating in this passage throughout the Christmas season and through the whole month of January, just totally captivated by it, praying prayers about trusting God to do the impossible, resonating with a story of reconciliation and surrender. And about a million light years away from the idea that I’d ever be pregnant. That wasn’t the impossible thing I was asking for.

I find so much of God’s kindness in having me saturate in the story of Elizabeth and Mary right before finding out our own impossible news. These women who will forever herald for me the idea of surrender and reconciliation to stories we can’t write. Women who lived the probable impossible.

I stayed in their story for months as it anchored me to my own.

So here I sit, a Christmas later, marveling at how formative this anthem was for 2019. Thankful for it.

Seriously, go read Luke 1-2. Maybe just for the day, maybe for weeks or months. Don’t just read it for the Christmas story. Read it for your own.

Dare to ask yourself what it looks like to echo “may it be to ME according to YOUR word.” I don’t know if there are more vulnerable words that we can be more confident in.





P.S. It really is SUCH a rich passage. I LOVED studying it further. If you want to dive deeper with me, I got to unpack it more in a sermon earlier this year – on Mother’s Day, actually. It’s good stuff (not my words so much but His).

Mothers Day 2019 from Saltworks on Vimeo.


unexpectedly expecting – he gets to be a DAD!!!


But you guys … he gets to be a DAD!!!!!!

So here has been my absolute number one favorite thing about being pregnant: she kicks to his voice. I know, stop it already, right?

Jason started reading to her each night around week 20 – an early introduction to Aslan.

And right about when my clever little app said she’d start recognizing and remembering noises, I noticed that she would start spinning/kicking within about two minutes of him reading to her.

The first of so many daddy-daughter moments.

I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to recognizing a good Dad, only because I have one of the best. A dad who loves being a Dad. We always knew we were (are) his favorite thing about his life – I mean, not a lot of kids get to say that. And yeah he was a workaholic and yeah he wasn’t perfect, but man we never ever doubted where we fit on his priority list. And he made things FUN, taking us on tractor rides (usually in the backhoe bucket), almost daily outings on the boat throughout summer, and bless the man he even tried to learn how to ski to join my brother and I on the slopes – a one day attempt that had all too many comical tumbles involved.

So now JASON gets to be a Dad! And he’s already an amazing one. And she will never doubt if she is loved, and he will have her dance on his toes and ride on his back and with every look make her know she’s celebrated even when she’s exhausting.

There are a lot of paths we thought we’d take to parenting, including some failed adoptions, and then ultimately the release of parenting, at least traditionally. It included stepping into the foster care world through Royal Family Kids and getting our own home certified. Not to mention the countless number of college “kids” that

have been part of our life since our marriage began on the campus of Cal Baptist University all those years ago.

So there’s a lot of Dad-ing he’s already got under his belt. I’m just excited to see it flood him with a new identity. To see her kicks and giggles in real life when he reads to her. To watch her bounce on his shoulders. To see him in her eyes (reallllly hoping she gets his eyes).

There are so many things that almost weren’t. When everything inside me ached in saying goodbye to this man. This man who’s been my rock, my best friend, my co world adventurer, my driveway dancing partner, my safe place.

This man that God gave back so we could shout Amen to the Long Road.

And now, you guys, Amen to the Long Road paved with DIAPERS because HE GETS TO BE A DAD!


unexpectedly expecting


So I’m 40. And pregnant. HA! Didn’t see that coming. But then, my 30s did teach me a lot about just how much I don’t know.

Not a story I could ever write, but one I’d like to write down at least a bit of. I mean holy goodness. So much holy. So much goodness.

About 12 years ago we started our journey into unplanned unparenthood. About 6 years ago we stopped all tests and “trying”, found happy again, embraced an unplanned but brilliant life and even adopted the childless fistbump. And then of course 3 years ago we learned firsthand the fragility of life and the power of living a miracle.

So much holy. So much goodness. My 30s brought a lot of life.

And now 40 is bringing a whole new life. What the what? Literally as I sit here typing, with my laptop perched on an ever-growing belly, weeks (days maybe!) away from meeting her, I still have a hard time believing it. Goodness and mercy aren’t just following me, they’re kicking me from the inside out!

From unplanned unparenthood to unexpectedly expecting.

To say this little peanut caught us off guard would be an understatement. Our whole world got flipped upside down when we saw those two pink lines. Immediate laughter filled the room – the laughs of wonder, delight, and pure shock. About five minutes later the terror showed up, where suddenly I felt super responsible for this fragile life, and super vulnerable to what a positive pregnancy test meant, deeply deeply aware of the many directions it could go. Nothing can make you more wary of a pee stick than infertility kicking you in the teeth over and over again.

My first doctor’s appointment was entertaining to the staff because I remained in a stupor, just dumbfounded. One nurse said “you’re the most chill pregnant lady I’ve ever seen” and I looked at her like she’d just told me I was calmly growing a third arm. I mean, that’s how bizarre the whole thing felt.

About a week later we heard a heartbeat. It was at week 10 when she looked like a little person. And waved at us. I just marvel that now we are so close to waving back at her.

Turns out that this little surprise came home with us from a trip to Rome over the New Year – same week that these two little Protestants were blessed by the Pope, actually – do with that what you will. It was our first international trip post-heart attack (complete with my hot-mess tears on the flight). We didn’t post a single photo from that trip. It was just ours. As we rang in 2019, there wasn’t even a flicker in our mind that this little girl would be coming home as our little Italian souvenir.

In the weeks that followed that positive test, my mind and heart did somersaults – which paired nicely with the nausea I was experiencing. We had fallen in love with the unexpected life we were living, and I couldn’t find right side up for a bit as we tumbled into this new narrative. Simply put, it’s disorienting to be expecting so many years after you’ve released expectation.

I think finally, all these months later, I’ve found just a few words to capture this season. Hoping to get some of them on paper in the coming moments before she arrives.

Right off the bat I felt smacked with the word kindness. But by itself it doesn’t tell the whole story. Because kindness came before this gift. Better and fuller is that this is another measure of God’s kindness.

another … this word matters to me, it’s not just tossed in as an extra, it’s there because we knew God’s kindness before those two pink lines arrived, as we lived out the story we were given, as we learned to let infertility describe but not define us. To all hearts still waiting in some season of barrenness: He sees you. Watch for His kindness, I promise you will find it. In the barrenness, not just in the fullness. Actually, that’s not my promise, which is why I can be confident in it – it’s His.

measure … blame it on being a PhD wife, as Jason wraps up his doctorate this year, but I’ve learned a lot about measures and metrics as I’ve watched him study. I’ve watched him research and calibrate data, and while I’ve understood less than half of what he’s doing, what’s not lost on me is that the measures are precise and timely. But they also measure only a precise time and space. A good researcher pays attention to what the precise measurements tell him, to be sure, but also to what the whole picture is. So too, as we’ve marveled at this new life, we’ve known it is but one measure of God’s kindness, the one He’s using right now to show us more of who He is, but by no means the only one. She’s not the whole picture – maybe that’s part of the gift of receiving her after all these years, we finally know that while she will add so much to us, she does not have to live with the pressure of being what completes us.

of God’s … no pretending or wondering if anyone but God decided this life would exist. It is against all odds for a couple to conceive after 12 years of unexplained infertility (no matter how many stories you hear about it “always happening”, it doesn’t – the actual math and science of it all tells quite a humbling story), not to mention that this little girl’s Dad shouldn’t have survived by medical standards. So yeah, she’s God’s handiwork and declaration through and through.

kindness … just giggly sweet kindness. Like a ray of sunshine that you can feel. Like a smile from lips etched in cotton candy. Like a stream giggling along the rocks. Kindness that kicks me awake both physically and figuratively. Something He didn’t have to give, but chose to.

I’m hoping to capture a few more thoughts from these past months as we head into the home stretch of meeting this wee face. Signing off with bare feet, white hairs, deeply grooved smile lines, all of it. So much holy. So much goodness.