Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.


The Leap Day Phenomenon

Leap Day fascinates me.  Living a day that only exists once every four years is curiously like living in a time traveling time warp. After all, how else could you add a day to my month--a whole 24 hours that appears out of thin air! Certainly not through a mere paper-shuffling, calendar-quibbling, name-game formality. Time warp is a much more delightful and intriguing theory behind Leap Day.

And so I am convinced that we need to celebrate Leap Day to its full potential. Honestly, who doesn't need an extra day in their lives? I for one am imagining all I could accomplish on a "bonus" day: catch up on every email I've been procrastinating on, plan the next six months of teaching, dig myself out of my (let's just be real, shall we?) disastrously messy room, file my taxes, and finish that big project I've been working on. 

But while I'm being real I should probably also admit that I'm going to need a whole lot more than one Leap Day to get it all done.  So, all fantastic time warps aside, I've been pondering this problem of "getting it all done" lately and have realized something.

If I am always feeling that I need an extra minute or hour or day, then perhaps what I really need is less packed into that minute or hour or day.  
Perhaps the real problem lies not in the constraints of time but in my lack of constraint.  Perhaps the root of my stress is that I am a chronic over-committer, finding it stupendously difficult to say no to things without feeling guilty. 
And perhaps...just perhaps...I am not alone in this.

We women know how to choose the best-tasting watermelon. We can decide in seconds if an outfit is adorable or homely. Yet we somehow lose our decision-making skills when it comes to regulating what we do or don't commit to. The worst part about this is that if you take on too many good things, you are overbooked, unavailable, and worn out when the best things come along.

So here are just a few questions that I've resolved to ask myself when considering adding something additional to my plate:
  • Is this going to advance God's kingdom or myself? 
  • Am I tempted to refuse this commitment simply because it would take me outside my comfort zone? 
  • Where is my mission field right now? Everyone has a mission field for each season of your life. So if you don't know what yours is, discovering God's mission field for you should be your first step. Knowing this will give you much clearer vision for what you should take on and what you should turn down. 
  • Is saying no painful because I am more worried about people not liking me if I don't please them than I am concerned about what God wants me to be doing right now?

These questions are only the beginning--I would love to hear what questions you ask when facing decisions!

.TimeMachine.,” © 2008 Sachin Sandhu, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license:


The Birth of Liam

Lessons on self, life, and God are a plodding process, but there are rare moments where God seems to turbocharge the lesson and condense it into a whirlwind that leaves me dizzy.

After 42 weeks of leisurely lessons--lessons in patience, body image, and discomfort--labor began, and with it, the whirlwind.

12 hours later, I was admitted to the hospital; 17 hours after labor began, Pitocin was started to move things along; 18 hours in, my midwife broke my water, and not long after that, hard labor began. I remember feeling as though this was something I couldn't do. "My strength is made perfect in weakness." I remember feeling intense gratitude for the support of my midwife, my mom, and Joel. "Two are better than one." I remember feeling as though I was in an interminable place of pain. "Why is my pain perpetual?" I remember feeling challenged emotionally, spiritually, and physically. "Our sufficiency is from God." I remember the moment when I wasn't progressing--only halfway dilated after 26 hours of labor!--and I wasn't at all sure that giving birth was something I could do. "You can do this," a nurse whom I had never seen before that day told me. She looked me straight in the eyes as she commanded me to relax.

4 hours later, Liam was born.

It didn't happen in that one second of his arrival at 1:18 AM on August 18, but in the 30 hours leading up to his arrival; and in the panicky moments after his birth when he was examined for meconium aspiration and, struggling to breathe, whisked away to the NICU after only a few moments on my chest; and in the 24 hours he stayed in the NICU (he is completely healthy now with no ill effects, praise the Lord!); and in the six months since then wherein Joel and I have learned what it means to have a son. Somewhere in the whirlwind of all that, I feel as though I have learned a lifetime of lessons.

September 2015

Never were tears and smiles so often blended together. I cried in pain as I gave birth. I cried when my brand new baby, whom I had yet to see, was across the room and surrounded by neonatologists with grave-looking faces. I cried when I held my baby for the first time and had only a precious minute to meet him and then say goodbye to him. I cried when I woke up without him, and I cried when he was discharged from the NICU. I cried when Liam smiled at me. I cried in weariness from a night and day of little sleep. I cried to say goodbye to my mom after four weeks together. Held in my husband's arms, I cried over my body I didn't seem to recognize anymore and which seemed to look flabby and unattractive in any outfit I tried on (my opinion--but, thankfully, not his!).

October 2015

I beamed when I found out that we had a son, and I beamed as I breastfed Liam for the first time in the NICU. I beamed as I watched Joel hold him close for the first time. I beamed as we posed for our first family picture together. I beamed when the nurses gushed over him (and the waitress, and every four year-old girl, and the cashier at Goodwill...). I beamed through those aforementioned tears when Liam first smiled at me. I beamed as friends and family met him for the first time. I beamed as I heard Joel talk about our son. I beamed at how adorable he was the first time I dressed him (and the 139th time).

February 2016
I have learned what love is in a way I never knew before. Perhaps I understand just a little bit better the love my parents have for me. Maybe, just maybe, I grasp God's love for Jesus in a way I didn't before. And God's gift of His only Son for the sake of the salvation of the world becomes an even greater sacrifice than I previously fathomed it to be.

P.S. This was written three weeks after Liam was born. It's hard to believe that he turned six months old yesterday!


I've Been Waiting My Whole Life for This!

Would you believe that in the last year I have experienced more "firsts" in my life than I ever thought possible?  

The truth is that nearly every day brings an opportunity for a "first" if my eyes are open in childlike wonder to them. I want to be like my four-year-old student who exclaimed when it finally snowed this January for the first time in his memory: "I've been waiting my whole life for this!" And he quite literally had!

But in order to have this joy in the new I have to welcome the fringes of my comfort zone.
I have to keep my priorities sturdy enough to motivate me yet soft enough to be moldable by the Holy Spirit.
I have to never lose a child's zest for exploration.

So maybe today's first is as seemingly banal as going to a new cafe or reading a new book, but it might be as life-changing as meeting a friend for the first time or starting a new job.  I should celebrate all of these firsts with child-like joy: I've been waiting my whole life for this!  So here is me choosing to celebrate:

1. As Mikaela already alluded to, I became an auntie!  I could type ferociously for an hour on how adorable I believe my nephew is and I could bog down your internet with pictures by the hundreds, but since Mikaela already promised some of that for next week, suffice it to say that I am in love.  And when I met him at only a few weeks old, I could hardly let him go. 

2. Last September a lifelong dream came true the moment I stepped onto a plane bound for the UK.  This unbelievable dream of a trip to Ireland, England, and Scotland brought:   
a cascade of first-time experiences {first time to use my passport!}
a flood of delight {charming castles by the side of the road!}
an insatiable wanderlust {can I move to Scotland?}
and an awe at this great world God has created {the world never before seemed so reachable yet so vast at the same time}.  

Here is just a taste of my two weeks:

 First time touching the Atlantic Ocean {in Scotland, no less!}

                        First time realizing what it feels like to step into a storybook castle...

 Devotions at sunrise in Edinburgh with an amazing group of people

Threave Castle.  First love. 

Edinburgh, my favorite city in the world.

 My travel partner in the most amazing trip ever! 
What wonderful memories we made together.

3. Some firsts I've recently experienced aren't so delightful as a trip to Europe or a new nephew, but nevertheless they have shaped the story of my life these last months: things like being sick on Christmas Day for the first time, or having my bank account information and $1500 stolen from me, or being a passerby in the street at the perfectly wrong moment and getting pepper-sprayed in the face.  But if those tiny drops of suffering soften me to be moldable by the Holy Spirit, then they are just as important and needed as the sunny days of joy.

4. 2016 in itself is a brand new experience with no mistakes in it yet!  January is already old news--folded up and shelved--and February is swiftly joining, but here is what I want to remember this year for all the firsts that await:

I've been waiting my whole life for this.  
What firsts have you experienced lately?


It's So Nice to See You Again!

Suddenly, it has been 227 days, 8 hours, and 19 minutes since I last posted here. In that time, my firstborn has arrived! Does the exhaustion of the last two months of pregnancy, the haze of recovering from labor, and the steep learning curve of being a new mother excuse me from my unplanned absence? 

I debated about whether I should just post as if everything was normal (sort of sliding into my desk in the back of the classroom, hoping the teacher doesn't notice my tardiness), or whether I should call attention to my long silence by announcing: "I'm back!" 

I've missed writing and am elated to be at it again. Furthermore, as I was coming up with my new and improved bio (read it under the "about us" tab if for no other reason than the fact that it contains a picture of my son!), I realized just how much of my life this blog has encompassed. This month marks the 7th year that One Bright Corner has been around, which is nearly a third of my life--and certainly the most eventful seven years of my life. It's a record of events and thoughts and trivial interests and lots of growth for which I am so grateful, and a record I am so excited to continue.

Look for new posts most every Friday around here. Lauren will be posting next week, and in two weeks I'll be back with heaps of pictures and as many words as I can manage to describe the birth of Liam and how he made me a mother.

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