When You're Brought Low

When You’re Brought Low

Low feels like being curled on your bathroom floor, hugging the toilet as if it’s your new best friend.

Low feels like explaining to your doctor all the embarrassing, gory details.

Low feels like lying awake at 2am, knowing you’ll be even more exhausted come morning.

Low feels like snapping at your husband, just after he gives you a kiss.

I want to walk with a can-do swagger, slinging a purse on my shoulder while I hike a baby up on my hip because I don’t need any help thankyouverymuch.

At least, I don’t need any help until I faceplant like a fool.

Y’all, I am so quick to rely on my own strength. I’ll beg and plead and pray and ask the Lord to put me back together. And He does. Then I pretend like I’m the one who did all the work. I won’t say it out loud (because that would be uncomfortably honest), but I give myself silent pats on the back. “Well done, Victoria! You’re really nailing this Christian/wife/mom/writer thing. You’re a rockstar!”

Why do I act immune to the grace that saved me?

When You're Brought Low

Low is my own personal reality check.

It’s not pretty, but it is necessary.

It’s not enjoyable, but it is sanctifying.

When you’re brought low you can see matters without the filter of “I’m fine.” 

Will I ever stop needing to be brought low before I look up? To gaze at the God whose grace saved me and sustains me. To “know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)

If low is what it takes to keep me clinging to Christ, then I say, “Bring me lower, Lord.” 

I Didn't Marry My Dream Man

I Didn’t Marry My Dream Man

Ben and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary this week. Which, of course, makes me a bastion of marriage knowledge. Except not.

If I may, I want to candidly share a thought with you that has been brewing in my mind over the past two years. (And I do so with my husband’s full permission and blessing.)

The thought is this: I didn’t marry my dream man.

Will you Marry Me Book Proposal

Like most impressionable girls growing up in the evangelical world, I dipped my toes in the “True Love Waits” movement. I wore a purity ring. I read books with titles like And The Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets To Sexual Purity and I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I lived with eager anticipation that any Christian man I saw might just be ‘The One’.  I wrote letters to my future husband (which he still has not read, by the way). I prayed for my future husband. And, of course, I made a meticulous list of what this man should be.

He looked something like this:

  • A Christian. (Obviously, had to include that one.)
  • Someone taller than me.
  • A great sense of humor,
  • but with a serious, brooding, Mr. Rochester-esque side.
  • Dark hair I can run my fingers through. (?!?!?!?!?)
  • Someone who would write poems and songs for me.
  • Someone who would chop down firewood for our home. (Because Nicholas Sparks.)
  • Preferably, a man with a sexy accent. (A very important qualification.)
  • A man who would take me around the world.

You can imagine.

In short, I wanted to marry a unicorn. A serious, brooding unicorn with dark hair I could run my fingers through.

It should be obvious at this point that I didn’t marry my dream man, let alone meet him.

My husband Ben is about my height. He doesn’t have long, dark hair (though his beard is quite epic.) He doesn’t have a sexy accent, unless ‘Southern Ohio’ counts as a sexy accent. He isn’t fond of traveling. He has yet to write me a poem or a song. I’d bet money that he’s never chopped any firewood.

I didn’t marry my dream man, but I married the better man.

Library Engagement Session

My dream man would have wrecked me. And not like the Holy Spirit does. My dream man would have wrecked my life. He would have been everything I wanted, but nothing I needed. He would have led me into self-indulgent temptation. He wouldn’t have pointed me to Christ. I don’t need a man to pander to my foolish whims and desires. I need a man that will care more about my holiness than my happiness.

I need a man like my husband Ben.

He doesn’t write poems, but he does pray with me and for me. Ben doesn’t travel the world with me, but he does plumb the riches of Christ with me.

These past two years God has so kindled a love for Ben that I never knew I would have for another human. My husband is seriously the most godly man I’ve met. He serves me so well. In these two years I’ve cried over him and yelled at him and disregarded him – but still he opens his arms and says, “Come here. I love you.” Ben is my brother. He is my battle buddy. He’s my best friend. He’s actually pretty funny. And he’s hot. So there’s that.

With only two years of marriage down, and a lifetime to go, I’m not sure that I’m qualified to dish out any advice or sage takeaway. I can tell you that your dream man will fail you, but the better man will make you. He will play such an instrumental role in making you the woman God intended for you to be. Know that the best of men are the ones that look like THE Best Man: like Jesus. So if you have a list, even something as small as a vague inkling, of your dream man, I invite you to throw it out. Instead, reflect on the image of Christ. And should you come across a fellow that looks a lot like this Jesus you’ve been gazing at, then maybe he’s the perfect man for you.

I Didn't Marry My Dream Man, I Married The Better Man

Winter Wonderland First Birthday Party

Winter Wonderland First Birthday Party (+ Giveaway!!!)

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party

All photo credits via.

First birthdays are worth celebrating because, let’s face it, you kept a tiny human alive for a whole entire year! You made it through teething and feedings and shots and falling off beds and every other adventure life with a new baby brings.

Celebrate this occasion.

It’s about you and your spouse and your little bundle of joy. It’s about the doting grandparents. Your friends that love cuddling babies. It’s about kids hopped up on birthday cake. It’s about one year down…and 17 more to go. (And typing that reeeeally makes me want to take a nap.) 

Here’s a peek at Carson’s first birthday party.

(Pssst! Are you planning a party? Scroll to the bottom for a sweet party package giveaway!)

Winter Wonderland First Birthday Party

We chose a ‘winter wonderland’ theme because Carson’s birthday is in January, and January is in winter, and we are original. Click here to see my Winter Wonderland first birthday party pinboard. (And don’t judge me for all of the things I didn’t carry out! It’s about inspiration, not copy-ation.)

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party

I designed her invitations myself (!!!) using a combination of PicMonkey (front) and Canva (back).

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party

Though the party theme colors were blues, silvers, and whites, we made this pendant to compliment our neutral living room. Other than this little vignette, the party decorations were confined to the kitchen.

First Birthday Guest Book

First Birthday Guestbook

For Carson’s guest book, we decided to use a story book and let people sign the inside pages. It really added a personal touch, and was fun for the guests!

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party

My sister-in-law baked the most perfect little smash cake! We made the pendant from scrapbook paper and stickers, held together by twine and two dow rods.

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party {Giveaway}

I found this birthday shirt at our local grocery store months before Carson’s birthday, and used the shirt as a guide for her pink, white, and blue no-sew tutu. The baby TOMS were a gift at one of my showers. (I’m a MASSIVE reduce/reuse/recycle fan. Her party decorations were largely recycled/upcycled; for example, most of the tulle came from a combination of her Halloween costume and our wedding!)

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party

Carson was the most darling birthday girl! I love her so!!!!!Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party

I liked the idea of putting an embellishment on the high chair tray, but wasn’t a fan of the really elaborate ones I’d seen. I made this simple pendant from scrapbook paper and taped (yes, taped!) it onto her tray. Then gathered white tulle along the top added a nice winter-y touch.

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday Party

 

C 1st Birthday 3

We used this backdrop (from Carson’s room) to make a prettier background for photos.

Winter Wonderland DIY First Birthday PartyCarson didn’t really make a mess with her cake! She does, however, love playing the drums and will tap out a beat on anything she can get her hands on – including two spoons and her birthday cake!

Happy Parents at First Birthday

Ben and I feel so blessed to be the parents of this little girl. She’s feisty and passionate and darling and OURS!Happy Birthday Carson

Giveaway from M Paper Designs [WON BY BEK :)]

M paper design giveaway 1

In honor of Carson’s birthday, Ashley of M Paper Designs graciously provided a party package giveaway from her Etsy shop. (So sweet! Thank you Ashley!)

BEK won a garland of her choice, and a package of paper straws along with a Mason jar topper.

PLEASE visit Ashley’s shop and send her some love! I wish I would have heard about her Etsy shop before Carson’s party!

Connect with Ashley by:

  1. Visiting M Paper Designs‘ Etsy shop.
  2. Liking M Paper Designs on Facebook.
  3. Following Ashley on Instagram at @ourfulltable

Thanks for helping us celebrate Carson’s first year! 

Good Friends & Good Books Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

Good Friends & Good Books: Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

When did you realize you had made a friend for life?

It could have been when she helped you borrow the neighbor’s canoe to have an Anne Of Green Gables-style adventure on the lake. (The neighbor who happened to be out of town…and didn’t necessarily give you permission to borrow the canoe in question. But that’s besides the point.)

It could have been when you explored a new country together, wanderlusters.

Was it that time you pulled an all-nighter, not to cram for a final, but to tackle life’s big questions?

Speaking of college, perhaps it happened the weekend you attempted to bake gourmet desserts in an ill-equipped dormitory kitchen.

Maybe it was when you compared bellies and swollen ankles in your last trimesters, waiting for babies.

Reflecting on my best of friends leaves me feeling nostalgic and cozy, but also as if I’m on the cusp of adventure. And that is the same sort of feeling I got when reading Caroline Starr Rose’s latest book, Blue Birds.

Good Friends & Good Books Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose & Tea

Navigating her role as the only girl in the English settlement of Roanoke, Alis is thrilled with the blue-sky freedom of the New World. Our plucky heroine Alis isn’t content with keeping at her mother’s skirts and cleaning house, though (don’t blame her!) She frequently sneaks off to explore more of the Island, and it is through her exploring that she meets a Native American girl named Kimi. As if in real time, Kimi shares her perspective of meeting Alis, granting the readers a sort of dual reality. While Alis and Kimi forge a strong cross-cultural friendship, tensions between the Roanokes and English rise. The girls find themselves in the middle of political power plays, must question their own perspectives, and ultimately take a stand for what they know to be right.

Blue Birds is written in verse, which I found incredibly compelling. The only other verse novel I’ve read is Paradise Lost (and, if we’re being perfectly honest, I actually skimmed that one. Sorry Dr. Crachiolo!) Though I’m a verbose person, I actually love the simplicity of poetry. Being able to say a lot in a few words is a skill, one that Caroline Starr Rose has near-mastered. Rose’s debut novel, May B., was also in verse form and you can bet I’m putting that one on my reading list.

As I mentioned before, Blue Birds is one story told from dual perspectives: one of an English settler and one of a Roanoke native. I especially enjoyed scenes in which Alis’ and Kimi’s lines intersect with each other as they witness the same event. It was almost like watching a film, with fast action and telling close ups. At those points, for me, the story really lept off the page. You can see an example of what I mean in the photo below.

Dual Verse Lines from Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

I know book reviews shouldn’t be all glowy, but I honestly don’t have any real criticism to offer. Caroline Starr Rose’s dedicated journey to becoming a published author is inspiring. In reading her work it is evident she has spent years developing her craft and, so, has a great handle on plot and pacing. I enjoyed Blue Birds and heartily recommend it to you!

Side Note: I especially think this book would go over well with your teacher friends. I can see it making a unit on Early American history come alive, which makes perfect sense as Rose is a veteran teacher!

Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book Blue Birds. Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this beautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19. Simply click through to order from AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks A MillionIndieBound, or Powell’s, then email a copy of your receipt to caroline@carolinestarrrose.com by Monday, January 19. PDFs will be sent out January 20(You know my deep love of gallery walls, this print would look just perfect on one!)

(created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios)

Visit Caroline Starr Rose’s site for more details, and to pre-order Blue Birds!

As growing older goes, time or distance have separated me from many of my best friends. But there is a part, an undeniable part, of them that has stayed with me. A part of them that has left me different. Changed for the better.

Just like a good book.

When The Fog Clears - VictoriaEasterWilson.com

When The Fog Clears

Have you ever been knee-deep and neck-high in a fog?

Not just a I-could-use-a-second-cup-of-coffee fog, I’m talking about a will-this-last-forever? fog. The kind of fog that’s so dense, you can’t remember the warmth of the sun or the color of the sky. That kind of fog.

A year after the birth of my first child, I feel as if I’m emerging from underneath a cloud. Like I’m resurfacing from the water for a gasp of air.

I feel like Victoria again.

But a changed Victoria.

I’m a bit softer, I think. Less zippy. More reflective. Not as fussed. I’m not quite the person I was, and maybe you aren’t either after coming out of a fog.

But when the fog (finally) clears, it’s time to move forward with crisp vision.

It’s time to brew a cup.

It’s time to be intentional.

It’s time to press onward.

It’s time to open your hands, both to receive and pour back out the blessings God has given to you.

The fog has cleared.

It’s time.

To My Daughter, On Her First Birthday

To My Daughter, On Her First Birthday

Dear Carson,

This is certainly not the first “letter to my daughter” floating around on the Internet, but it is the first from me to you – so let that uniqueness mark it.

Today, you are one year old.

One, glorious year old.

It’s been three-hundred and sixty-five days since you burst into our lives with all the fierceness and passion your little personality holds.

To My Daughter, On Her First Birthday

It’s been a year since your Dad and I became parents. Bumbling and clumsy, but trying and praying-our-guts out parents.

We literally had have no idea what we’re doing.

On that note, I do owe you an apology. I’m sorry for all those clumsy things we’ve done this past year. You’ve never been a Carson before, we’ve never been a Mom or a Dad before. Sorry for that one time we let you fall off the bed…and the couch…and then the bed again. Okay, sorry for those three times. Sorry for being so attached to nursing you I was afraid to let you try solids. Sorry for not making you homemade baby food like I said I would on Pinterest. Sorry not sorry for co-sleeping out of exhaustion (we actually really adore those bed-sharing snuggles.) Sorry for being slow to realize you’re growing up on us, slow to catch up to your transitions and new tricks.

DSC_0655

There is no such thing as Parenting 101. Well, I suppose there is: your firstborn child. And that’s you, Peach. Thanks for bearing the brunt.

It hasn’t been an awful year though, has it? We’ve had some really fun times, our little family. Those walks around our neighborhood. The playdates. The holidays. The family trips. The quiet, ordinary days when my heart would near-burst over the sheer joy of being your mom. It’s been quite a lovely year.

But I’m not writing this letter in a nostalgic haze. I remember the trenches. I remember the fear that comes with finding yourself and a newborn alone in the house, knowing I was the one responsible to meet all of your needs. I remember countless nights of sitting on a running dryer, rocking back hand forth, and begging you to go to sleep. I remember holding you, sobbing because breastfeeding you hurt so bad. I remember those times when I had to put you in your crib and walk away, protecting you from the ugliness in my heart. I remember those nights when neither of us were sure of why the other was screaming.

On your first birthday I am tempted to forget all of those awful moments. But I am sure the sweetness of your first year would be lessened without remembering God’s amazing grace at work in my life and in yours. Carson, you need to know that God saves messy people. He makes it His business. God saved your mom years ago, and I pray earnestly that He will save you one day. God takes care of us, He doesn’t leave us in the mess.

When I tell you about this year, I want you to taste and see that the Lord is good – as I have done. You’ll need to know that we, your Dad and I, are incapable of parenting you well apart from the love of Christ. I want you to know how God has made my heart so tender towards you and, by His grace, makes it tender still. One of my greatest aspirations is to be a godly mommy to you, Carson. To make our home a place where you experience God’s love and grace all day long.

To My Daughter, On Her First Birthday

Today, we celebrate. We celebrate a year of you being you. You’re going to wear that adorable tutu Aunt Amanda made for you and eat cake and play with your friends and open presents. I want you to giggle until you fall over from laughing so hard. Then at night, I’m going to scoop you up and give you as many kisses as you’ll stand because you. are. my. daughter. You’re the best Carson Wilson there is. And I love you.

Happy Birthday, my darling girl.

Love,

Mommy

Startup Stock Photos

2015 Goals

Goal-setting used to make my stomach turn. Not jotting down New Year’s Resolutions on an office bulletin board. That’s cake. I mean real goal-setting. The kind where you announce, “I will do this thing!!!” And then go do it. For real. I’ve always been wonderful at declaring what I want to do, but having the fortitude to follow through? Not so much.

As we find ourselves in that quirky space between the wane of an old year and dawn of a new one, I notice that I’m at peace with goal-setting.

But the funny thing about goal-setting is that you’re never really done.

Goals are like laundry baskets.

Like a laundry basket empty for five seconds, as long as we keep living, our goals will keep moving. And growing. And getting holes ripped in the jeans. And we’ll keep mending and tending until the day we die.

And that’s okay.

Because it’s about progress, not perfection.

That’s the heart behind Lara Casey’s PowerSheets. I’m fairly new to Lara’s work, but already I can see she’s got something special going on. Just read her end-of-year recap post. This woman truly makes things happen.

2015 Let's Do This - Lara Casey

Just as I hoped, thinking about goal-setting in this way has alleviated my skepticism. PowerSheets tie goals to your core, to what’s most important. That means your goals may change, but your motivations don’t.

Here are my goals for 2015.

Here’s my heart.

  1. See & Savor Jesus More than anything else, I desire to become increasingly satisfied with Christ in 2015. Without him I have nothing to say. Nothing to do. Nothing to be.
  2. Establish Intentional Routines One discovery I made through PowerSheets is that most (if not all!) of what didn’t work for me in 2014 was due to a lack of planning and/or executing a plan I made. I think that’s largely due to not having a lifestyle supported by routine. I’m very prone to throwing things together. I used to be proud of that fact, but let me say that flying by the seat of your pants means you work your bum off and get nowhere. My prayer is that established routines will help me live a more paced and less chaotic life.
  3. Gut-Write I want to pursue more “gut-writing”.  Here, on the blog, or on social media I purpose to only write if I have something to say.
  4. Say Yes To Saying No I am prone to over-committing and stretching myself thin because I often fear man more than God and compare my bandwith to others. This year, I’m going to start saying “No.” I can’t be all things to all people.
  5. Love Carson As My Daughter, Not My Responsibility It hurts my heart to admit I need this goal, but I do. Motherhood is joyful, but I am not intentional about pursuing the joy to be had. I want my heart to become more tender towards Carson in the new year.
  6. Bless Others I can be horribly self-centered. Yes, that’s an ugly truth about myself that I’d rather you not know. My desire this year is to be more alert and sensitive to the needs of others (in particular, my church family) and to be a blessing to them.
  7. Enrich The VictoriaEasterWilson.com Brand I want to make this online space more dynamic and set-up for longevity. That will mean offering more to you, my readers, through free resources and giveaways. It also will mean pursuing a few opportunities that will allow me to compensate my time online.
  8. Pray Earnestly I don’t pray enough. Prayer is powerful. I want to pray more.
  9. Appreciate Art I’d like to do more this year to cultivate creativity in myself, my home, and in others. One way we glorify our Creator God is to create. I want to appreciate more art in 2015.
  10. Share The Gospel I am unashamedly a Christian, but I am often hesitant to be explicit about my faith. It fires me up when people take a stand and stick to their guns on matters of importance. In 2015, I’m doing that with the most important matter of my life.

If you’re weirdly into goal-setting also, I recommend Jess Connolly’s tips on how to goal-set (and meet!) in this post.

If you’re interested in PowerSheets, you can follow the action by tracking any one of these hashtags: #PowerSheets, #MakeItHappen, #2015MyBestYearYet. (Know that I’m not getting anything for writing about PowerSheets, I just really am finding them useful!)

Are you planning for 2015? I would love to hear about your goals and what you’re doing to meet them in the new year!

Reader Survey I Asked, You Answered

Reader Survey: I Asked, You Answered

My very first reader survey went so well, thanks to your generosity!!! I mean, hey, who else would take a survey with the disclaimer, “There usually is some sort of incentive for these sorts of things, but I’m not doing one”? YOU GUYS!

THANK YOU!

Here’s what I discovered about you!

  1. Y’all are the best. Seriously the best. (But you already knew that, right!?)
  2. Most of you identify as Christian and want faith-focused content. This really surprised me. Oddly, perhaps. I’m confidently a Christian, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting my faith to be such a draw to my writing. I don’t see myself as a “Christian blogger.” Ann Voskamp is a Christian blogger, right? Honestly, I think I wanted to be all things to all people. Though I am a Christian, I have many friends who aren’t. I don’t want to ostracize them from this space. But, as this survey showed me, I can’t hide who I am. I have to believe that my readers and friends – Christian or not – choose to read my work based on its own merits.
  3. Sisters before Misters. No offense dudes, but it seems that the majority of my readers are women! Interestingly, many of you are not moms. I realize I’ve been posting a lot about mommy life over the past, say 365 days, and I promise I’ll be more cognizant about the number of mom posts.
  4. You really like using Facebook. Like. A lot. I’ll start doing more focused content there in 2015. (Any ideas? What’s your favorite Facebook page to follow?)
  5. Collectively, your biggest fear can be summed up as not living a life that matters. A few of you chose to answer my admittedly personal question about fear. Of those that responded, the fear you listed had to do with not living a full, meaningful life. That’s heady. Believe me when I say I feel the weight. I have a deep sense of responsibility to point you to the one who can lift every burden: Christ. (One respondent did report they were most afraid of drones which cracked me up, until I actually thought about it. Drones are pretty scary.)
  6. This blog has some pretty enthusiastic fans! I was completely blessed and humbled by the sweet, sweet comments you guys shared! It sounds like reading my blog really is a bright spot in your day and, for that, I am grateful.

Reader Picture

I’ll keep this survey link live if you still want to add your two cents.

I’m praying 2015 is a great year for all of us! You can expect some giveaways, reviews, guest posts, richer content, and more social interaction.

Thank you, again, from the bottom of my blogger heart for investing in my work.

<3
Victoria

A Christmas Reflection

A Christmas Reflection

I’m a slow burn when it comes to the holidays. By December 24th I usually have slung myself into the Christmas spirit, but it takes that long. My husband affectionately calls me “Victoria Scrooge” during this time of the year. For me, Christmas is linked to a handful of memories that aren’t very merry and bright. I find it difficult to go all in, and hold my heart at a distance. Dearly wanting to stand close to the fireplace, but afraid I’ll get burned.

Because it takes the entire month of December for me to warm up to the idea of Christmas, I usually savor the day – and promptly feel lost on the 26th.

But this December 26th, I don’t feel lost at all.

Almost like Ebeneezer, I feel stirrings of how future Christmases could be.

baby's first christmas ornament

his and hers christmas stockingsKnowing Ben and I have a parental duty to make Christmas magic happen for our little girl, and we pray her siblings to come, both terrifies and excites me. It terrifies me because I’m afraid I’ll chuck all of my baggage onto her. It excites me because as she unwraps Christmas for herself, I’ll be unwrapping it anew.

Watching Carson interact with her first Christmas pushed me forward. It pushed me to dream about ways I can cast my cynicism aside and make Christmas a special time for her. Advent wreaths and Christmas crafting and tree decorating and cookie baking and caroling. (Probably not Elf on The Shelf, but that’s another story.)

And that’s what Christmas is supposed to do: push us forward.
christmas hot chocolate

christmas gift wrap idea

Christmastime is nostalgic. We sing songs about the “glories of Christmases long, long ago.” But what if the point of Christmas is not to look back, but to look forward?

Advent comes in two parts: already and not yet. Already Christ has come, not yet has he returned. By holding ourselves in this tension, we focus better on the here. Namely, that God is here with us. That is the greatest Christmas present. We. get. God! 

We look forward to life made available in Christ. We look forward the work God has given to us. We look forward to the kingdom of Heaven growing. We look forward to the day when Christ will make all things right.

And that’s something to reflect on.

nativity manger scene