Somebody’s Hazel Jane


Dear daughter,

You are my Hazel Jane.

As I begin writing this, you are safely nuzzled on my chest, your miniature nose and lips burrowed in my neck—a feeling for which I’m sure I’ll never find words. Sometimes you smile at me when you see me coming, filling me with both joy and unworthiness. Other times you bury your head in my arms, like the comfort of a hug before you learn to actually hug. How special you make me feel, knowing the one I love most in this world feels the same about me, at least for right now. Every time your little lungs fill with air, this fragile heart inside me fills with a little more love. The thought of someone treating you with anything but kindness is more than I can bear to ponder. I will rejoice with you in the easy times, fight for you in the hard times and love you in all times. Your life has led me to vulnerability outwardly inexplicable. Words cannot suffice, for it is only inside myself, locked in my own emotions and feelings that I can understand the depth to which your small yet immeasurable spirit has changed me. As my mom keeps telling me, you won’t understand how much I love you until you have a you of your own.

You are my Hazel Jane.

While your delicate spirit was gently swaddled inside my swollen yet secure belly, your dad and I occasionally asked ourselves, “What kind of world are we bringing her into?” The past few years have piloted us out of naiveté, for we are personally, nationally and globally aware that, baby girl, we delivered you into one broken place.

We live in a world where we ignore poverty and idolize violence. Encourage greed and endorse entitlement. It’s a world in which we recognize success in the form of money and power and fame instead of kindness, compassion and selflessness. People are shooting each other. Hate is acceptable rhetoric. Racism is rampant. People need a homeland and we won’t share ours. Girls are sold as property. Privilege is winning. Intolerance is growing. Fear is overpowering.

How could I bring you, my delightful innocent, my Hazel Jane, into such a place?

Oh, but daughter, there’s another world we live in, too. A world your dad and I believe in. A world that already exists though often seemingly shadowed by the other. A world where reconciliation becomes reality. Where dialogue changes fear into friendships. Where outstretched arms bring peace and unconditional love is above all else. Above ourselves. In this world, redemption sits just around the corner. We just have to push fear aside, peek our head around that corner and hope others will follow.

Hazel Jane, it’s our promise to you that from those first moments when we giddily brought you into your first breaths until the day we take our last, we will give every effort to usher you in to both of these worlds. Where sorrow and hope intermingle. Where reality and optimism coexist. Where despair is inescapably bordered by faith. Where we live for the good of all people and not just for our own people.

I believe in this world. I believe in you. I believe in you to be a part of both worlds. To understand the depths of pain in one but live in the realized hope of the other. To fight for this hope. I believe in you to help create restoration. To give thanks for and celebrate our differences. To use your life in a way that enhances other lives. I pray you’re unafraid to take on the responsibility of bearing others’ burdens, because you live within the confidence that your burdens have already been bared.

I believe in a world where everybody is somebody’s Hazel Jane.

When you see a picture of a hungry child, that’s not a picture. That’s somebody’s Hazel Jane.

When you drive by the sign on the corner that asks for food, that’s not a homeless man. That’s somebody’s Hazel Jane.

When a fellow student wears dirty jackets, gets teased by others and frustrates the teacher, that little girl is somebody’s Hazel Jane.

When the couple next to you at a restaurant dons a beard and a headscarf, they aren’t ‘weird,’ they are somebody’s Hazel Jane.

So peek your head around that corner, and rejoice with them in the easy times, fight for them in the hard times and love them in all times. Yes, this is a broken place, little one. But it’s still a beautiful place. Just look around, find it, and be one, sent by the One, who sustains, creates and multiplies the beauty.

Tonight as we relished in your favorite activity—staring at your reflection in the mirror—with each new bounce and look you giggled with thrill and clasped your pudgy little hands together in pure joy. It is my promise to you, that if you will open those hands to embrace and serve all types of people, you’ll find more joy than you could ever dream.

You are my Hazel Jane.


Almost there 

36 … Still feeling pretty good.   
37 … Still putting on real clothes.   

38…from my view …because there was NO hair or makeup or getting dressed this week.   

39 … Had to borrow a cane from church because I can barely walk. I think it’s time.   

In two days we hit week 40. Things I’m looking forward to:

1. Meeting our daughter

2. Bending over 

3. Sleeping on my back

4. Not using quite so many public restrooms 

5. The renewed use of my right leg

6. Staying on my side of the closet instead of shopping on Walker’s. 


Some fun photos from week 34. A week that brought some most welcome visitors- my ankle bones! For a few days following these pictures, I was able to relax and stay off my feet. And those most enthusiastically missed ankles of mine made a reappearance! But the wedding rings, they sadly disappeared as one day longer might have required a tiny chainsaw (what a cute thought, a chainsaw that tiny!). And on that note I will simply say 6 weeks and counting!    Plus this little gem that seemed to be a hit.

Instagram vs. Reality

33 weeks

Reflections on week 33 …  and life in general:

I threw a fit in the middle of taking these pictures. They weren’t turning out the way my head said they should. Being reunited with Opal after 5 weeks, a swelling baby belly, and the fact that Walker was still here on this earth, I just wanted some fun family photos Sunday afternoon. But Opal wasn’t cooperating. Walker was squinting. I was experiencing flabby arm body image issues. And the sun, the sun we’d been aching to see for weeks, threw me overboard. There was too much light. There were too many shadows. It was too bright or too dark to capture the vision voyaging through my head.

I wanted picture perfect. The picture perfect of the Internet that says these non-professional photos capture our real life in our perfectly curated home and our effortlessly styled outfits. The kind with captions that say it’s been a rough day but here’s a beautiful picture of my family in front of this awesome ivy wall we just happened upon. I wanted that picture perfect. And it just wasn’t happening. But a marital argument, that did start happening.

So into our bedroom I went. I launched (the only word to describe it these days) myself into our bed, on my left side of course, and the waterworks began to make their appearance. Some might contend the tears were only overemotional products of pregnancy hormones, but I must disagree. The door slam, yes, maybe I’ll blame that one on the hormones, but the tears, no. Those tears were tangible reactions to the reality of the weekend. A weekend that loudly proclaimed our life is not picture perfect. A weekend so intertwined with light and shadows that it left me wondering how I could feel so joyous yet so anxious about life at the same time.  Shadows: not so gentle reminders of what’s important.

On Friday around lunchtime Walker called to tell me he had been in a pretty serious accident. As I left my classroom crying, three teachers swiftly ushered me into a private room to collect myself and convince me it was okay to leave school. As I made my way upon the wreckage scene, I saw just what he meant by serious. There was his truck and the path it had clearly taken through two small trees, into a telephone pole and finally into a larger tree. Worse than I had thought, but there stood Walker alive and well and calming to my soul. In that moment, nothing else mattered.Light: an overwhelming burst or a tender glow of what really matters.

The next morning we found ourselves surrounded by friends and family, many who came long distances, to shower us with affection and gifts at our baby shower in Waco. Given by 4 of my closest friends, the shower was Pinterestly decorated and filled with so much love that all we could feel was special. But as I sat there opening generous gift after generous gift, I recognized that more important to me was their presence. It meant more than any gift card or swaddle blanket I received. For me, their generosity came in many forms, but most importantly in the realization that we were surrounded by close to 30 people who chose to dedicate a couple of hours to say ‘I love you’ by simply showing up.It’s so easy to want picture perfect. To desire a life that resembles a grid of dreamily curated Instagram pictures all shot in that golden hour of the setting sun. A life that disguises what it really means to live. Picture perfect tells us that stylish maternity clothes, impeccable nursery decor, scenic backgrounds and exotic travels actually matter. Don’t get me wrong, I love and enjoy beautiful pictures, but we so easily believe that these things are life and so easily forget that each new breath we are able to draw not only gives life but is life.

Our life may not be picture perfect, but it sure is a stunning picture of life. Full of light that lingers even into the shadows. Full of shadows that trickle into the light. A life that constantly reminds us to be thankful for light and for shadows, for without both, neither exists. We must brave the shadows to grasp the joy of the light.  Sometimes it takes a wreck and a baby shower all within 24 hours to remind us that being present in the lives of others and having them present in ours can never be taken for granted. That in all moments, nothing else matters. That reality reveals a more beautiful masterpiece than any edited photo ever could. That abundant life is ultimately revealed through the mingling of life and shadows. May we be have the courage to be witnesses of both. Baby of ours, you’ve been in our lives for 33 weeks. Thank you for being a constant source of light through any shadow that has come our way.

32 weeks

I’m a week behind with not much to say except I’m pretty sure starting Friday afternoon, this will be my summer wardrobe until you make your appearance. This is a little more realistic than those Sunday pictures anyway!  


31 weeks

Just a few things I’ve been thinking about the past week. Things I hope your dad and I live out before you. So maybe these are more reminders to myself instead of explicit advice to you, but anyway…

Give everything you have when it means being present in people’s lives. This might mean driving long distances, sitting in hospital waiting rooms, or saying yes even when you’re tired. People won’t always return the favor. And they won’t always express gratitude. Show up anyway. Every new day is a gift you’ve been given, and part of this gift means that time is not always your own. That time is a gift you can give to others. Be present.

Express gratitude. Maybe you’ll be better at writing thank you cards like your momma. Or good at saying thank you face to face like your dad. But take time to recognize your gratefulness and tell that person how much you appreciate them.

Be frugal so that you may give generously.

Commit. Said you’re going to do something? Do it. Furthermore, take the step of making commitments in the first place.

Life is about quality of close friends. Not quantity. Take it upon yourself to be the highest of quality.

It’s OK to get your feelings hurt. But when it’s time to move on, use it as a lesson in not hurting others in the same way.

Live in humble confidence and confident humility.

30 weeks

 I’m having some feelings of inadequacy. I just don’t seem to know what to say in these weekly writings to you.  People keep asking me if I talk to you. Nope, that’s your dad who has long, “secret” conversations with you. The kind where he tells me not to listen. I think about you all the time, literally, ALL the time, but the words just aren’t there. But instead of letting those feelings of inadequacy win, I’m going to tell myself it’s perfectly ok. Because I think that’s what I would tell you to do in the same situation. Not compare myself to those who write beautiful essays to their children or have the most breathtaking maternity photos. Because you and me, this week we both got good reports at the doctor. You have a ‘happy heartbeat.’ I have a full tube of Preparation H. And we both have Walker who is taking the best care of us. And in this 30th week, that’s all we need.  

29 weeks

I’m going to attempt better documentation during these last weeks of pregnancy. My goal was to write often to this girl of ours. Whoops. Pregnancy seems to have flown by, and between our crazy schedule and the end of the school year, I don’t see an end to that trend. So here’s to trying to slow down just a bit and remember these special moments. But first I’m backing up, backing up pretty far to the very first moments when the realization of new life first came to be. Because I want to remember the vulnerability, the excitement and the privilege of what those first few days held.


Hi there baby of mine,

I’m your momma. I suspect you growing inside of me and have for a few days now. Tomorrow morning, we’ll see for sure. Your dad is in Africa for two more days, so I celebrated just the two of us tonight. Well, you, me and a pizza. As much as I wish your dad was here, it’s kind of special, this time we have together. These few days where it’s our little secret. Soon your life will become a gift to so many people, but for now, the two of us are one. The only ones.

I’ll admit, you terrify me. I’m scared of the next few months in which you might take my energy and lend me nausea. I’m scared of the reality of actually delivering you into this world. But mostly, and selfishly, I’m panicked at losing control. You see I can’t control your birth date nor whether you will make it there. Your gender is not up to me. I’m unable to shield you from birth defects or the cruelty of the world. I can’t ensure that others won’t hurt you or that you won’t hurt others. You, oh baby of mine, are out of my control, out of my protection in so many ways. But I promise. I promise you this.

I can’t protect you from everything, but I can love you through anything. It’s you and me baby, today and tomorrow. Forever and always.


Two lines.

Two lives.

Changed this morning when those two little lines appeared.

Elbows on the counter and fists pushing my cheeks into my ears, my heart would not stop pounding as I leaned over and stared at that those two lines.

Last night you were a suspicion. Today you are a person.

So many thoughts rushed through my head as I began to attempt to lean into this new reality. What if I’ve already messed this up? Am I behind on vitamins and diet? Did I eat a food I shouldn’t have? I told you, you terrify me.

But as the day went on and the Internet provided me some answers and relief, fright turned into anxious excitement. I began to count the hours until your dad arrives home tomorrow. I’m ready for two to become three!

I’m still scared, but I also feel you are empowering me already. While I feel so far out of my comfort zone, in a way I already feel like I’m growing more into myself. I did everything I could to take care of you today. I ran to grab prenatal vitamins, stopped in to get a flu shot, drank water like it was my job, and reintroduced chicken back into my diet.

Tomorrow we become a family of three. Today and tomorrow, a family we’ll be.


We told your dad tonight. He reacted exactly as I imagined: theatrically excited, enthusiastically shocked, and dramatically sentimental. He was perfect.



As I left for school Friday morning, I jumped on a sleeping Walker:

K: Happy Birthday!!!!

W: I’m 100.

K: See you after school.

W: See you in heaven.

Walker has no recollection of this conversation, which really goes to show his year long struggle with turning 30, often proclaiming his life is over. But the truth is, it’s just beginning. Everyday is a new beginning, and I keep reminding him how thankful I am that he turned 30. That he has the chance to turn older. That I give thanks for every new day he’s given.

I think it’s safe to say that 29 could have been then hardest year of his life. He lost a sense of reality as he knew it and gained a whole new, shocking perspective on the world through an assortment of situations. I’ve watched him grieve and struggle, but I’ve also watched him meet every challenge with sincerity, humility and selflessness. No matter what has come his way, he has risen to every occasion by continuing to treat people kindly, give generously, and be present through it all. Even when physical and emotional exhaustion set in, he stayed committed to his friends, family, church and calling to love others, even keeping his sense of humor through it all.

And then on the other hand, the past year brought him many joyous adventures, too. He rocked his way through his first European vacation, mesmerized by new sights and cultures. He discovered a new love of a healthier lifestyle, eating a more disciplined diet and working out regularly. It has been such an inspiration to watch him work toward his goals and complete his first sprint triathlon, half marathons and most recently an Olympic triathlon. And a baby, too, he made a baby!

29 was a year of craziness. Good crazy and bad crazy. So, I choose to celebrate all of it. Every single bit that has only enhanced who Walker already was. I celebrate his perseverance, his discipline, his sacrificial commitment and his adventurous spirit.

So happiest of years to you, Walker! I’m glad you’re 30. I’m glad that as of now, you’re 30 and 2 days. I think the next 363 days are going to be some of the very best moments of your life!

            The only time I’ve been OK with sporting Aggie wear … in a moment of desperation during a downpour.

Couldn’t be more proud of Walker and Hall for completing the Kemah Triathlon!