Baby Dedication – A Tale of 30 minute naps, 30 second prayers, and choosing to laugh

This morning at church John and I dedicated Samuel Charles to the Lord. It’s an important step in our parenting journey – the moment where we publicly acknowledge before our church family that our hope for our son is intimacy with Christ and life lived fully on His mission.

And this morning was a hot mess.

It started with Samuel waking up happy and bubbly as can be. I fed him and played with him and all was normal and fine until I realized – nap time is exactly when we needed to be at the church, standing in front of a bunch of people and solemnly praying over our son. Uh-Oh.

If there’s one thing John and I are so grateful for, it’s that Samuel now has a routine. He is so much more predictable than before. Yes it could change. We KNOW. But for now it is such a life-saver. With that in mind – whenever this routine is meddled with be it a doctor’s appointment, errands, or a baby dedication, our little munchkin doesn’t easily “go with the flow.”

And so, as he rubbed his sleepy eyes and yawned his ginormo yawns, I packed him in the car seat while withering under his icy stares and fussy protests. “MOM. THIS IS NOT MY CRIB. WHY DO YOU HATE ME RIGHT NOW?!” It’s OK though because mom and dad had this awesome game plan involving strapping him onto mom during the service in the hopes that he would fall asleep and all would be well. La de dah. Bippidi- Boppidi- NOPE.

Now we’re in the church parking lot. He fell asleep during the 8 minute drive to church BECAUSE OF COURSE. John looked over at me, standing in the parking lot with the carrier strapped on then back at our sleeping son and said, “Ugh. I hate this.” I did too but I knew he wouldn’t last in that carseat more than 10 minutes and the idea of pulling him out of the carseat just to bring him in front of the congregation wailing like a drunken Pentecostal was just not cutting it for me. So we strap him in, he protests only a little but is now extremely awake and had the scowl to prove it.

Then, seconds later, mama slips and falls on a patch of leaves scattered on a slope of the parking lot. I fell backwards (thank GOD), caught myself before my butt could actually slam into the pavement and managed not to tweak or twist any joint or ligament. It was just as much a debacle as a miracle. The greeters at the door gasped as did the people walking into church. “HA!” I said. “Of course.” This isn’t the first time I’ve slipped and fell in public (HELLOOOO High School Senior Awards ceremony) and it probably won’t be the last.

I took T-Swift’s advice, I shook it off. I also gave Satan the middle finger because he always deserves it. Especially on Sunday mornings where I’m convinced he works overtime to rattle God’s people. I have many pastor and pastor wife friends who will back me up on this theory.


Uhhh. What are we supposed to pray over our son? #NAILINGIT

Uhhh. What are we supposed to pray over our son? #NAILINGIT

We make it into the service and find our seats. The dedication is one of the first things of the service yet Samuel is getting more and more determined to remind us that he is tired and we’re making him miss his nap and he’s not amused. Our pastor finally says, “The Lavoie family” and we hustle to the front while I shove a paci in Samuel’s mouth and pray a silent prayer of, “Get us through this with no wailing and/or pooping, amen.” A part of the dedication was the parents writing a small prayer to pray over their child. I had sent John the prayer in an email yesterday once we had it all put together. 10 seconds before going to the front of the room, I saw it on John’s phone screen — he was ready.

Then we get up to the front and John (who just

Oh, Samuel. If there's one thing we know how to do -- it's laugh at ourselves. You'll catch on quickly.

Oh, Samuel. If there’s one thing we know how to do — it’s laugh at ourselves. You’ll catch on quickly.

loves public speaking, by the way) looks down at his phone and the email is gone. There is no explanation. So I fumble my phone from my butt pocket, locate the prayer, hand my phone to John who then asks the congregation to “Pray FOR me” instead of “pray with me” — and John and I just couldn’t help but laugh at how that Freudian slip was so well-timed and accurate. In fact, everybody laughed — the parents loudest and longest. We’re riding this crazy train together after all- SOLIDARITY.

John did such an awesome job praying over our son. Despite it all, it was a sweet, solemn moment that I will always cherish. Well done, babe. And another middle finger for Satan.

The rest of the service was spent with me walking all around the church both outside and inside to get Samuel to fall asleep. He did. For 30 minutes. Then he woke up right as communion was being served so I snuck into a room to nurse him before bringing him out as the service ended.

At the end of it all, we stood before our church

My favorite men. <3

My favorite men. ❤

family with our son and said, “We are in this and we need you.” And we received a collective, “We’ve got your back.” It was good and right and done well. Also – get a load of John and Samuel’s matching outfits.  SO MUCH CUTE.

**Many people told John after the service that they loved the prayer for Samuel so I wanted to share it with you here. If you’re a parent, I hope it encourages and inspires you to love your children towards the saving grace of Jesus.**

“Father, we acknowledge that Samuel was yours before we heard his voice or felt his heartbeat or held him in our arms. We ask that you would quickly and completely captivate the heart of our son. Create in him a heart that seeks your face, a mind that delights in the things above and a body that serves and grows in strength and humility. We recognize that the establishment and endurance of a life of discipleship ultimately belongs to to you, the Author of our Salvation. He must choose you for himself and not just piggy back on our faith in you. We ask that you compel him with your irresistable grace and give us wisdom as his parents to nurture his curiosity, encourage him in his gifts and disicpline him in his waywardness. Thank you for the privilege it is to raise this child, give us the patience and perspective to do it all with great joy. Amen.”




Soil and strollers and a God who makes it all work.

Its 6:40pm on Monday night and the mailman rings the doorbell. I open the door, expecting to see another Amazon box filled with cliff bars or theology books (welcome to my world) and instead I find a USPS box addressed by dear friends in New York.
I rip open the package and almost immediately find myself swallowing sobs and smiling like an elf on
Mustache pacifier, y'all. I LOVE IT!

Mustache pacifier, y’all. I LOVE IT!

Christmas: little boy onesies and a myriad of baby accessories spill onto the kitchen counter as I fish in the box for the little envelope knocking around. I read the words of our dear friends sharing in our excitement and I cry harder because these people are so precious to us. They’re cheering for us and praying for us and believing for us that God will make all of the unknowns of first-time parenthood, surmountable and doable. The timing of this package couldn’t be more perfect.

The day before, my pastor had preached on a parable that addressed how our hearts receive the Word of God (Luke 8:4-15). One response to the hearing of God’s Word is to accept and begin to grow in faith but then have your growth and maturity stunted by all the cares and riches and pleasures of the life happening all around you. Basically, life gets in the way of your faith. Or rather — life convinces you that your faith in God cannot possibly satisfy, provide, protect, or sustain you.  As I took notes, I heard a soft voice ask, “Do you care more that I am real and present?… Or about what you’re gonna put on your baby registry?”
I swallowed. Hard. Because He never asks questions to be vindictive or spiteful, He always asks questions to guide and direct (and re-direct) me to Himself. Lately, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by all the millions of details that have to fall into place for baby’s arrival or oh my gosh he’ll be sleeping in a cardboard box and ALL OF THIS IS GONNA BE A TRAIN WRECK.
Also, hormones are a thing during pregnancy.
I confessed my anxiety and asked for a heart that was willing to be brave and believe. I want a faith that scorns the thorns and digs deep into the promises of God. A thorn-scornin’ faith. How’s THAT for a song title?
Anyways, I have a sneaking suspicion/affirmation from dozens of mothers that this worry over your child is one that needs to be constantly placed back at the feet of Jesus. If we’re not careful, we will be lured into the chokehold of worry or lust or greed or whatever idol Satan slides into the weak parts of our heart. 
I’m realizing if I continue to operate out of a place of fear, I’m gonna miss some pretty special fruit. I’m gonna fuss over all the this-and-thats of preparing for my son and forget to enjoy the fact that he’s been given to me and John as a gift.
My face says it all. This is how I feel about being halfway through my pregnancy. ;)

My face says it all. This is how I feel about being halfway through my pregnancy. 😉

My Heavenly Father longs to help me become an earthly mama. Imagine! The Creator of my little boy longs to commune with me, and guide me through this next chapter. And here I am, eyes glazed over as I scroll through endless websites filled with innumerable varieties of car seats and strollers and cribs etc. Missing it… missing HIM.

I’m still going to do my best to prepare well for this little rascal. I’ll still read articles and seek advice and by golly we WILL get a baby registry together! But I need to do some thorn-scornin’ work in my own heart first. Beginning with the lie that I have to figure all of this out on my own and I better do it perfectly OR ALL IS LOST.
Literally, 12 hours after realizing my need to surrender control over all of this STUFF I received texts from two different people offering a variety of helpful baby gear I could borrow/have and then BAM! a package of faith-building love lands on my doorstep. So I may be all weepy over a bunch of onesies (to be expected) but I’m also sowing new seeds into good soil for this season.
This isn’t to say I’ll never worry again, but rather by the grace of God, I will be quicker to remove myself from the chokehold of worry and slip into the open arms of a God who gives courage to the weak-kneed expectant mother and offers perspective in the face of an ever-growing to-do list.
What about you, reader? Are there thorns in your heart that are choking out your faith? How can you begin the process of breaking free from their grasp?
It’s time to get our hands dirty in some serious thorn-scornin’ work, y’all.

Good and Faithful

IMG_0635Every person I know who follows Jesus, longs to hear Him say the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” when their time on Earth is done.

But somewhere along the way we’ve convinced ourselves that a good and faithful life takes shape in some extravagant display of radical living.  We start thinking, “If I really take Jesus seriously I need to move to a nation hostile to Christianity, adopt a child from overseas, choose a life of celibacy, write a best-selling book etc.” None of those choices/circumstances are wrong, they just aren’t ultimate. They aren’t the standard to which we, as people who love Jesus, ought to hold our lives up to.

Instead, we hold our lives up next to Jesus — imitating him, listening to his words, letting him direct us towards the life he has purposed for us. So many of us are going to lead lives that will receive no standing ovation from the world. And that’s a great thing.

Faithful living is not elaborate or fancy, it’s by nature — quite the opposite. It’s stubbornly moving towards the same goal, day after day, hour to hour. Every person I have talked with whose walk with God I desire to emulate, teach me that faith is a million little decisions you make every moment of every day that are influenced by a common belief: God is real and trustworthy and bigger.

God is real — His existence ought to change the way we see our own.

God is trustworthy — All the promises He says in the Bible, will be fulfilled. Regardless of what the current state of the world leads us to believe.

God is bigger — Nothing is too difficult for Him, but not everything He does or does not do will make sense to us. He is always bigger than the boxes we make for Him. 

IMG_0633 A few months ago I sat on the couch with a woman who is so familiar with faith playing out in  the ordinary. She lives a normal life, raising her kids and loving her husband and spending her  days basically up to her ears in the nitty-gritty of life – laundry, bills, soccer games, all while battling a sickness that has pushed her into new depths of dependence on God.

As we tucked our slippered feet under the couch cushions and cradled our mugs of steaming hot coffee, I asked her a million things. We talked about marriage, careers, sex, parenting,  vacations. We just talked about life. And I realized as I sat across from this woman that she was a difference-maker and a world-changer in her sphere of influence. She was not looking for fame or applause or approval from a sea of faceless people she’s never met. She was consistently looking to Jesus and it filled me just up to be near her.

Her faithfulness to show up and do it all again and believe it all again, even when no one was watching — THAT is the stuff that changes people and communities and churches. 

It all starts with surrender. Every good and faithful life is born out of a genuine desire to submit to the will of God. In my experience, whenever I do this I almost inevitably end up connecting with people.  In fact, whenever I give Him free reign over my day or week or season of life — He runs with it. He runs straight to people and says, “This. This is where I want you.”

It’s almost like he meant what he said when he tells us to love our neighbors. Imagine that.

When you lay your life at the feet of Jesus, the most difficult thing He’s going to ask you to do is trust Him with it. Wherever you are, in whatever season or storm, you cannot lose by surrendering to Jesus.

Instead of trying to make your life measure up alongside of anybody else’s, live your own. Give it a rest. Put down the measuring stick and run with endurance the race that was set before you. Cheer on those whom you see doing the same thing. Let’s arrive together at the throne of grace and just dump all of our wild misconceptions about what a good and faithful life “should” be and  start trusting that the Author of our faith knows what that looks like way better than we ever will.

The Best Parts of Life


Last night we said goodbye to close friends we’ve walked through life with over the past several years. For John, he was saying goodbye to someone he’s been in community with for 10 years. And that’s hard.

After all the festivities of the goodbye celebration and putting away all the leftovers of their fridge into ours (what are good friends for right?), John and I sat on our patio to soak up the remainder of the unusually cool evening. It’s in moments like these when the pain that’s been throbbing in the back of your heart finally gets the attention it’s been craving. When life grows quiet we naturally find ourselves looking on the inside and assessing how we’re really doing.

We had sent our friends off with absolutely zero question in their minds of how much we loved them and are so thrilled for their new adventure. Our appreciation for them has grown from a place of countless gatherings, many tears as we stood by them during deep and dark waters of grief, and hours of laughter and encouragement. As I was processing this transition with John last night I recognized in me this compulsion to push aside the feelings of pain welling up in my heart and force myself to think of all the ways this move is wonderful and God-honoring etc.

I am a stubborn optimist but sometimes I can’t get out of my own way and just grieve. I struggle to let myself sit in the reality that I can’t pop in for a visit or spontaneously spend a Friday night with them anymore. It hurts to go there, you know? To let yourself think about it.

I’m learning that there really is no reason to be unnecessarily brave when your heart is breaking. Let it break. And over time, watch as it fills up with an appreciation for your life and the people in it that wasn’t there before. 

As a Virginia girl falling in love with the Lonestar State, as a sister embracing the role of “crazy aunt Rachel in TX” , as a friend learning to make sporadic emails and phone calls count for something, I am amazed at the resiliency of relationships. All of our hearts are so fragile and yet we willingly enter into each other’s lives because we need each other. All of those ugly cries in the car and quiet streaming tears on the back patio, are proof that you have chosen to invest yourself in something more important than your own happiness. Love is a beautiful, difficult giving away of yourself.

I have become too familiar with the throbbing pulse of “I hate this” in my throat as I enter into each new chapter of sending/ leaving/missing. Yet I have also experienced the balm of genuine friendship, laughed until I cried, held a brand-new human being and carried loved ones in prayer through those chapters. New chapters have always lead me to new loved ones because God is in the business of making sure we share what He has given us. The more of myself I have given away, the more I have experienced the best parts of life.

Last night I scooped up my rambunctious 3-year-old godson for the last time for a long time, planted a big kiss on his cheek and said, “Buddy? Do you know that I love you?” “Yes!” he responded, with joy sparkling in his eyes, “And I love you too!” As I watched him run off to play, I let my heart break. I admitted to myself that this was hard but I realized I didn’t regret one moment I spent loving that little booger or his family.

Love has a funny way of filling us up even as we pour ourselves out.


“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:7


A prayer for Iraq.

I went for a walk by the lake this morning. I had intended on going for a run but my back (that I had hurt earlier this week) cried out in disapproval when I tried to run. But I found myself grateful for the opportunity to  take in my surroundings slowly as I traded my techno for  sweet hymns and Rachmaninoff. My thoughts turned to Mosul, Iraq as I stared out at sparkling water reflecting a perfectly blue sky. What a contrast. Depravity and Luxury. A gaggle of Saturday morning joggers and bikers versus worn-down buildings spilling out with displaced and terrified people. I don’t think God leads us to feel guilty for our blessings, but He’s pretty clear about weeping with those who weep and lifting up fellow believers when they are too tired, harassed, and grieving to lift up their heads. So, I prayed.


I pray for my brothers and sisters who are in unimaginable pain right now. Oh God be their comfort. Draw them to you in all of this. Just as Joseph endured terrible hardships at the hands of his own brothers but was then made a man of influence and peace, so too I ask you use this evil for good. God you are the only one who can redeem this.

No amount of humanitarian aid or missile strikes can quell hatred or bring back loved ones who were massacred. God I ask for you, in this moment, to meet with my brothers and sisters in Iraq.

I know you love them more than I do. I know you know them more than I do. I know you understand their pain and horror more than I do. And I ask that you intervene. Oh God would you protect those who have fled? Would you give them their daily bread? Would you fill them with the peace that surpasses the terrifying numbness of horror and suffering?

Place them on the hearts of the global church. God may we be a faithful people, a faithful family.

So many things divide your church, God. So many theologies and sects and “do this” and “not that” and “be this” and “say that”‘s. So many stupid stupid nuances. Oh God would we lay those aside today! Compel us Lord to clasp hands with anyone who loves you. Anyone. That we may all look to the day where political persuasions and denominational divisions are laid waste at the Kingdom Table. Where we will all sing to You. Rejoicing in the sacrifice of Jesus, delighting in the Presence of our Father. Thank you, God. That today, when wicked men did the unthinkable because they are so consumed with hatred, that their violence ultimately led our brothers and sisters to peace. Evil ushered them into eternal rest. Thank you that your grace welcomes them. Thank you that they fought the good fight. Thank you that because of Jesus we can know that this isn’t it. Thank you that you are a God who feels pain, who understands betrayal, who was wrapped in skin and once slaughtered on our behalf.

Oh God we ask all of this evil to stop. We ask for your intervention, your redemption in all of this. But even if today doesn’t mark the end of these horrors may we be unapologetically faithful to tell the world that there will be a day when evil has no place among God’s children. That you have made a way out of this madness, this broken world. That death does not get the final word for all who believe in Jesus. We beseech you for deliverance of our family. We look to the skies for your return. And we absolutely believe that you are good. Oh God forgive us our unbelief and make us more desperate for you. Remind us this world is temporary so that we may not sacrifice our convictions for comforts nor our purposes for pride or power.

So many people are hurting today God. People we don’t even see. Our scope is limited to the news, Your eyes see the souls of every human being. The forgotten and discarded and marginalized. The martyred and persecuted and small. Oh God thank you. Thank you that you see and know and care and love. Thank you that you made a way for us to find you. That eternal life is accessible for anyone. Even when we try and put up hoops to jump through or things to say, you always break it back down to grace. Grace. Believe that God really does love you so much that He gave His Son for you. That you may not die but have a forever in paradise.

Help us not to mistake this world for paradise. God I pray that you would find me to be faithful. Even in all of my issues and problems and insecurities and wayward thoughts and sour attitudes, use me. Please use me to bring your Son to people.

I can say all of this, knowing it’s heard by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.


Let it be so.

I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you to do the same. To pray. To plead. And to remember that hope is not lost in the midst of horrors, it is instead, the only thing that can withstand it.



"For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song." - Isaiah 51:3

“For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.” – Isaiah 51:3