How to invite your children into a narrative that speaks life

Wednesday, January 15

 As a mama, a therapist, and someone who's primary love language is words of affirmation, the following message is my heartbeat.

The way we speak to our children,
the narrative we invite them into,
the modeling we display....

is not just incredibly important,
it is life changing and vital.

Our children are not neutral.
They do not take in information and remain neutral about it.
They are a vacuum that sucks every bit of positive or negative energy up,
and then dumps out precisely what they have just taken in.

Children also are not born knowing what to do. That is why it's called child training:) We are constantly in a state of training our children, both directly and indirectly by our actions.

When we invite them into a narrative that speaks life to others,
they will build momentum in that direction.

Since Everett has been born, we are constantly saying to Avonlea,
"isn't Everett so cute??"
We aren't saying that merely so Avonlea will just agree with us or to stroke our own egos that we created a pretty adorable human:)


We are modeling to her what it looks like to verbally affirm her brother. And not only that, we are hoping that by affirming on repeat over and over, it creates a culture of verbal affirmation in our household that is normal and not awkward (because lezzz be honest friends, how many sitcoms mock or downplay the importance of actually telling each other how we feel?? We've got the Full House sap on one side of the spectrum and we've got pretty much any modern day sitcom on the other side that just makes fun of each other for sport)

Because children don't need us to teach them how to be frustrated with one another. That is purely natural, amirightttttt?!?!?! Watch your child take a toy from your other child, and out comes all the animal instincts that run the gamut of anger, frustration, rage, annoyance. WWIII is on.

But children do need us to invite them into a story where they can become each other's finest cheerleaders and best friends. Now on repeat, Avonlea is constantly telling us "Everett is such a cutie boy!". She has begun to catch the vision that she can delight in her brother. It is now a part of our family culture.

While we fall short in so many parenting ideals, we have always worked hard to delight in our children, and invite our children to delight in one another. Because who wants to live in a household where we are always frustrated with each other? NOT I!

A few weeks ago, Everett started learning to crawl. So I asked Avonlea to come with me to the other side of the room and get down on our knees, and clap and cheer little buddy on in his newfound movement.

Avie got SO excited to be a part of her brother's victory, hooping and hollering in what felt like echos from heaven. To watch my 2.5 year old daughter believe in her brother and cheer him on felt holy. "You can do it little buddy...come on...go buddy go!"
A glimpse of glory. 

Friends, by God's gracious design, we mama's play a huge part in cultivating a sense of delight in our home. Here are a few phrases I love to say to my kids...

"I loved spending time with you today, you're so fun to be with"

"You're my favorite girl/boy in the whole world"

"Do you know how much I love you? Sooooo much" (I say this about 10x a day, and now Avie resends with "I love YOU sooooo much")

Children soak up what we give them, and then they pour it out.
So today, practice delighting in your children.
Practice inviting them into a narrative that speaks life to others,
and cultivate opportunities for them to be cheerleaders for others, especially their siblings!

What a treasure to delight in our children and watch them delight in return.
Truly a glimpse of heaven:)

What I've been up to these last 4 years

Monday, January 13

I was absolutely overwhelmed at the love I received when I announced I was going to start blogging again. Like, literally, blown away...I cried tears of JOY that evening and celebrated the warmth and kindness of women.

I thought I'd take some time and share with you what I've been up to these last four years!!

started out with a bang...and brought a lot of change...
We spent that winter in Europe on a family Christmas trip in Switzerland, France and Germany. I hope to share some pictures with you on IG about that, so feel free to follow me @hopeengaged if you want to see them:)

Coming back from Europe, we packed up all of our earthly possessions and drove them from Southern California (where we had been living with Kevin's parents while I went to graduate school) up to Northern California (which is where I grew up and where we were moving!). We bought a house!! (I'm hoping to share a TON of project's we've slowly been working on over the last 4 years, so stay tuned!!)

After moving our stuff in for like 2 days...we jet setting out on a plane to India!! The amazing company Sari Bari flew us to Calcutta to take pictures of the women who make their gorgeous bags! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!

I got a job at a local Christian Counseling Center. As a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), you have to get 3,000 clinical hours before you can become licensed. I have been working hard these last 4 years and have a big announcement to come about stay tuned (I may say this on repeat, haha)

We were blessed to be sent on a yacht cruise around Tahiti with Inspiration Cruises & Tours!!! (Visiting Bora Bora, Moorea, and other islands!)

We got pregnant & found out it's a girl!!

We hosted our British Friends for a 3 week trip around California!! 

We visited our family in New York City at Christmas & prepped for baby girl!

was a sweet year of family...

I was so incredibly showered (6 showers!) for baby girl.

I went on maternity leave in March, and on April 4th, our precious peanut, Avonlea Grace, was born. (her birth story here)

Becoming a mother was astounding, I loved (and currently love) it more than I could have imagined! The sweetness, the connection, the bonding...ohhhh I wanted to bottle all those newborn feels up (except for lack of sleep, hahah)

We took a few domestic trips but took it pretty easy this year.

was a year of TRAVEL....

We arrived in England on New Years day of 2018 and spent the next 3 weeks with our best friends (who are British) traveling through the Lake District, the island of Jersey, and The Cotswolds. You guys, it was such a. life-giving trip. Our friends rolled out the red carpet for us and every night we laughed, swapped stories, and relived our adventures. Its as so fun. I didn't blog a single blog about England, so get ready for those pictures this year!!

{in Liverpool at the Beatles Museum!}

That summer we visited Kevin's sister (and her family) in Delft, Holland. Our brother-in-law was doing his PhD there and we stayed in their 4 story Dutch house in the fairytale city of Delft (I want to move there, haha). We then took a flight over to Sweden to visit my family and attend our family reunion! I didn't blog any of those pictures either, so hopefully we'll get on that. Sweden is a dream...our family was so hospitable and cooked for us and took us all around. Such a lovely time!

Sadly, the year ended with the Camp Fire burning down the entire town of Paradise (10 miles from the city where we live). My mother's childhood house was burned to the ground (along with most of the city) and my parent's were evacuated from their home (although the fire didn't make it there). It was devastating and people are still reeling from the loss.

was a year of pressing into meaningful projects and facing fears...

In the spring, I spoke at two difference women's for my church's women's retreat, and the other for CRU's women's retreat. It was so amazing to ask the Lord for His words to flow out of me, and watch as he crafted a message that ministered to hearts of women. I love speaking and bringing God's word to other women:)

I also had an incredibly difficult last month of pregnancy. I had terrible pregnancy insomnia which kept me up all night for almost 3 weeks, it was quite scary.  I think between the stress of seeing client's, and the responsibility of crafting numerous talks for my speaking engagements, my fears started flying out of control and my thinking was so skewed. Thankfully on Easter, a few weeks before our boy was born, God freed me from the insomnia and the anxiety. (All the praise hands for that!! Thank you Jesus!)

On May 13th 2019, our cherub of a boy, Everett William Cook, was born. I still need to write out his birth story (so stay tuned, haha). He has been the biggest blessing of my life this year...his smile and countenance have lifted the most dreary of day. I adore him.
The rest of 2019 has been pretty chill, trips to Washington, Hawaii, and San Diego with the family, and mostly just learning how to be a mama of two kids!!

I also have almost completed my MFT "stay tuned" for an announcement regarding that!! (How many times can I say "stay tuned" in one blog post? ha!!)

Sooo I guess as a recap, the last four years have found us in Northern California, having babies, working as a counselor, and figuring out how to love and care for our neighbors in this place. It's been a totally different season being a mama, but I wouldn't trade it one bit!!

I can't wait to spend 2020 with all of you seeing what God does with this space and in my heart!! Please update me on the last few years of YOUR life! I'd love to connect more with you. And again, if you are on IG, please come say hi @hopeengaged.

My word for 2020

Friday, January 10

I've been hit or miss when it comes to picking a word each year. I love the concept of living into a meaningful word and painting it on the blank canvas of the future. In 2013, the year we left for Nepal, my word was metamorphous, to literally become new. And by the end of that year, I rendered myself new, in mind and body (you can see this post as proof for emotional health and this post as true for physical health!)

So this year, I have been believing for healing and freedom, and thought that one of those two words would be THE word. I cozied up on my couch, tea in hand, and started to praise God and press into what HE has for me these next 365 days.

The minute I closed my eyes the word came....

It seemed so funny and so light and airy and refreshing,
I literally started to laugh,
giggled with childish delight.

I immediately loved it and the corners of my mouth turned up in smile to our heavenly father, who truly is the creative One.

I looked it up...

"the state or period of greatest beauty, freshness, or vigor" 

ok. I like where this is going.

"a youthful or healthy glow in a person's complexion"

Stunned, yes.
THIS. this. this is what I desire...

a beauty of heart
a freshness for life
a vigor for God's kingdom
a glow that comes only from the Holy Spirit who radiates through us

May this be a year where the hibernation ends and the springtime bloom begins.
Lord, I am ready for this.

Come dear Gardener of my heart,
till the soil mingled with truth and lies.
Throw out the rocks of deceit,
nourish me with the fruit of your spirit.

and may I bloom and grow in the sunshine of your love,
may every petal sing your glory forever more.

Aaaannnddddd, if I needed a further sign that this was my word, let me tell you a true story...

Right after God downloaded this word to me, I opened my eyes and the song Edelweiss from the Sound of Music was playing (Avie's new favorite movie, which makes me a proud mama...I digress)
 Can you guess what line blared into my ears right at that very moment?

"BLOOM & Grow...BLOOM and grow foreeeevvvveeerrrrrr"

Oh sweet Jesus. He is good.

Did you pick a word this year? Would love to hear what it is:) xoxo

ps- Thank YOU for all the love you gave me on my last post via IG, FB or my blog. You guys, I cried  tears of love because of the way you rallied around and breathed life into my weary soul. Thank you!