A New Baby, Lockdown, and Peace in the Storm

A few weeks ago, life was normal. We went to a coffee shop with friends, invited 15 people over for a grill-out, went shopping at the nearby mall, and attended church service with almost 1,000 other people.

Today, we can’t do any of the above. Suddenly, a world-wide pandemic happened and our city (along with many, many other places all around the world), went into lockdown. I can’t leave my house unless it is for essentials. I can’t invite friends over. I can’t go to a restaurant and dine-in. Public gatherings are banned and places are empty.

Suddenly, the economy is shaking, futures are uncertain, and panic is rising. There’s a shortage of supplies and some things are impossible to find.

And here I am, about to have a baby. Any day now, we will welcome our second child and our first son into our lives. Right in the middle of a lockdown and pandemic.

Has it been hard for me? YES. Being completely vulnerable, I’ve had multiple breakdowns where everything felt too much and all I could do was cry. I’m saddened and shaken by what is going on around me, and I’m also dealing with quite a few disappointments about how my last few weeks of pregnancy, my birthing experience, and potentially the weeks after his birth will be. It’s not what I had pictured and several things I was really looking forward to are now completely gone.

The reality is, every day has been a battle of the mind. Everyday has been a choice to choose peace over fear, gratitude over complaining, and hope over despair. I’ve tried so hard to keep my heart and mind in the right place. Sometimes I’ve won, sometimes I’ve lost.  Many times I’ve told the Lord, “My heart feels so weak right now.” And you know, many times I’ve felt Him come around me, breathe peace, and it’s as if He whispers, “I know. And it’s ok.”

Now isn’t the time for me to pretend to be strong. I mean, come on, I’m 38 weeks pregnant – that’s a hard time anyway to be strong, let alone when the world is in a chaos like never before. It isn’t time for me to try to hold myself together and put up a strong front. It’s the time to be real, honest, and process it all with the Lord.

And that’s where I’ve been. These last few weeks I’ve been more honest with the Lord and myself than I ever remember being. I’ve poured out my heart and emotions to Him and anyone who would listen.

And now, day 4 into our city’s stay-at-home order, I feel a peace I’ve never felt before.

The sunshine looks brighter. The sky is bluer. My daughter’s laughter is sweeter. And I’m feeling a deep gratitude for the life God has given me and the family He has blessed me with.

Am I still afraid and concerned? Yeh, I am. I won’t lie. But I’m grateful for this time and choosing to find the beauty in the stillness, the peace in the storm, and listening for the voice of my Father amidst the noise of a world gone wild.

If I could say anything to you my friend, I would say this: it’s normal and ok to feel fear, confusion and to be overwhelmed; after all, you are human. What isn’t ok is to let it take over your heart and mind. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear and He has called us to set our minds on things above. He has given us the strength and weapons to fight against the enemy and to come out victorious.

The world may be falling apart right outside my door. My city may be under lockdown. But I’m determining this: No one or no circumstance will lockdown my joy. Nothing will take away from me the preciousness of this season and the beautiful experience of welcoming our son into the world. Try as hard as he may, the enemy will not be win this battle over my heart. I will come out of this victoriously. We all will.




These Past Five Years

It doesn’t seem possible as I write this out that we have been married for five years. I remember like yesterday counting down the days until our wedding and feeling like it would never come. And then suddenly, here we are, 5 years later and we have lived so much life together.

Fady and Mary Cathryn Wedding. September 2014. Her Song Photographs-767.jpg

I’m pretty sure I’ve lived more life in these past 5 years than I did in the 26 years prior to my marriage…

We have each changed jobs multiple times, moved more times than I care to remember, became parents, and started a successful and growing business.

We have travelled together to Egypt 3 times, multiple times to Canada, as well as Jordan, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ukraine, Germany, and Romania.

We have spoken at youth conferences, led a small-group of college students, hiked the Colorado Rockies and in the Alps of Germany, walked through the streets of Amsterdam and Brussels, and taken thousands of selfies.

If you follow either of us on social media, you’ve probably seen pictures of all the above and more. But what you haven’t seen is the day in and day out mundane and the beauty and struggle of marriage that has brought us to where we are today.

I believe that so many people (especially single people) look at social media accounts and think, “Wow, that couple has an amazing marriage. Look at all the fun and awesome things they are doing. They must be perfectly happy…”

This reality become very present to me last year when we traveled to Austria on our way to Egypt. We took lots of pictures. We saw the tourist spots in Vienna and tried all the food and what the culture had to offer us. People kept messaging us, “Man, this trip is amazing. I’m so jealous.”  But what no one could see was the pain and heaviness in our hearts those days as we were about to travel to Egypt and visit Fady’s father for what would be the last time we would see him this side of heaven.

That experience reminded me that life is fragile and every day is a gift. Yes, our marriage has been loads of fun and we’ve been blessed to do amazing things, but we’ve had our share of challenges, too. We’ve worked through issues together and come out stronger and more in love.

Travelling the world, becoming parents, etc, etc, – those things have been blessings, but they haven’t made us the happy couple we are today. It’s the late night hours we’ve spent talking through things. It’s the resolve to not allow any offense or frustration in our hearts against each other. It’s the times we’ve called each other to something higher and stood next to the other person when they were to weak to stand alone.

If I could go back five years ago and tell myself anything, it would be to never forget that marriage isn’t meant to be a romantic and blissful ride through life; it isn’t the “finally I’m physically and emotionally satisfied” phase of existence. It’s the get your hands dirty, pour out tears and sweat and all your heart and soul to another human being who is just as broken and messed up as you are. And together, you will become refined and purified through the pain, challenges, and beauty of life as God brings forth His work in your hearts.

Fady and Mary Cathryn Wedding. September 2014. Her Song Photographs-347.jpg

So if you’re single and reading this, I would tell you, don’t look for someone who just makes you feel happy and you have fun with. Yes, that’s important. But find someone who fights for you, who cries with you, who is not ok to see you live anything less than God means for you to be.

And if you are married and reading this, please don’t let any offense or anger come between you. Enjoy your life and your time together, but remember, God brought you together for something more and there is so much power in the union of a husband and wife. The enemy will do whatever he can to break that down and you must be on constant guard to protect the sacredness of your marriage.

And so I sit here today, five years married to the man of my dreams. He’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. Our marriage isn’t perfect. But our God is perfect and He is continually redefining who we are and that to me, is the perfect marriage.

Fady and Mary Cathryn Wedding. September 2014. Her Song Photographs-625.jpg


Fady and Mary Cathryn Wedding. September 2014. Her Song Photographs-463.jpg


Fady and Mary Cathryn Wedding. September 2014. Her Song Photographs-433.jpg


Photo Credit: Lydia Faith Photography

Our Trip to Austria Part 2: Salzburg

IMG_7986After stopping in Hallstatt, we drove on to Salzburg where we would stay for two nights. Through a friend, we were able to connect with a local ministry and stay there at their mission base. It was a lovely place located very close to the attractions and along the river.

It was around 9pm when we arrived into the city. We were exhausted, jet-lagged, and very hungry. We found this wonderful restaurant nearby our lodging called Barenwirt.

The inside was warm, cozy, and very traditional German/Austrian feel. We each ordered a different entree: Fady ordered an amazing roasted goose with gravy and mashed potatoes, I ordered polish sausage with potatoes, and my mother ordered a very traditional Austrian dish called schnitzel.

The next morning after enjoying a European breakfast of breads, jam, butter, and yogurt, we went out to explore the city.

The river running through the city is very pretty and makes for lovely pictures.


My favorite part of the city was the Getreidegasse. This street is a busy, high-class shopping district with beautiful European architect. It is also the street where Mozart was born in 1756! We walked here several times and stopped at a restaurant, Cafe Mozart, while waiting for the rain to pass.


We also toured the Hohensazlburg Fortress. This 11th century structure sits a top a hill overlooking the city. It was really interesting and provided amazing views of Salzburg. If you’re a history geek like me, read here to learn more!


We also toured Mirabell Gardens. If you are familiar with the movie Sound of Music, the Do-Re-Mi scene was filmed here. It was quite pretty, but I believe we were there a little too late in the season to see the flowers.


On our last night in the city, Fady and I went out for a date while Mom and Nora went to bed early. It was late and we had to walk far to find a place where the kitchen was open. Fady ordered schnitzel but I wasn’t too hungry for a meal and ordered a plate of apricot crepes. They were DELICIOUS!

Salzburg was a wonderful city and I really enjoyed being there. It didn’t have as much to offer as Vienna, but the views of the mountains and river against the European buildings was quite stunning. If you are ever in Austria and have time, I recommend going to Salzburg.



Photo Credit: Fady Gergis


5G3A9645I’m sitting by the fireside, huddled under my favorite blanket. The Christmas lights and decorations above the mantle glisten and I feel a sweet peace and calm. It’s cold outside, my daughter is sleeping, and there’s nothing left on today’s to-do list.

It’s just me, Jesus, and the silence.

As I stare at the lights I realize, my heart has felt more aware of the true meaning of Christmas this year. I’ve always known we celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ, but this year, His coming and all that means is echoing louder in my heart.

It seems I keep hearing it from so many places – friends, friends of friends, social media, and even in our family – the brokenness, the tragedy, the heartbreaks of living in this world.

I’m reminded that each one of us have painful chapters in our stories. We all have places in our hearts we don’t want to go because of the hurts. We all have been rejected, hurt, and forgotten. We are all scarred, whether big or small, by this broken world.

BUT, our brokenness is not where the story ends…

Sickness taking away a loved one.

Lost job and bills left to be paid.

Years of infertility with no explanation.

Promising relationship suddenly comes to an end.

Life going on as normal and in a moment tragedy strikes.

A broken marriage; an unexpected diagnosis; dreams crushed in a moment.

Or maybe it’s nothing tragic. You’re just overwhelmed with work and life. Your baby doesn’t sleep at night and you’re tired. Your boss is really hard to work with.  You really want to have friends but you never seem to fit in.


He came into this world to come into our brokenness. He came to shine light into the darkness. He came to set us free from the chains that hold us back. Chains of death, sickness, hurts and wounds.

He came as Emmanuel. God with us.

We don’t have to live in the bondage of our wounds. Our pasts don’t have to keep us from living the lives of freedom He means for us to live. Our circumstances shouldn’t control us. Instead, we have an invitation to accept healing and restoration, regardless of the pain in our stories.

He came as the Savior, leaving behind His glory and Kingdom. He was spotless and perfect and He chose to take on the weight of our sins. His life and death paid the way for us to be set free and to be in right standing with God.

When we were broken and lost, He came to heal and to bring us home. When we were dead, He came to give us life. And He didn’t leave us once He completed the work of the cross. He is still with us – still now, in 2018, wherever you are in the world – He is with you. He is Emmanuel, God with us. 

More than pretty lights and heartwarming carols, my friends, I invite you this Christmas season to make Emmanuel personal. Whether you are walking through the darkest season or one of the happiest times of your life, remember, He is with you. He is near and He knows you.

He is Emmanuel, God with us.


Photo Credit: Anna Troyer Photography









Our Trip to Austria Part 1: The Countryside and Hallstatt


I have always dreamed of going to Europe. Seeing the beautiful countryside, the stunning architecture in the cities, the cathedrals and the landscape.

That dream recently came true on a 4-day layover trip in Austria on our way to see my husband’s family in Egypt. Austria far exceeding my expectations of Europe and will forever have a special place in my heart as the first European country I ever visited.

We stayed in two cities: Salzburg and Vienna. We flew from Chicago to Vienna with plans to fly on to Salzburg. Our flight from Chicago was delayed, which didn’t give us enough time to catch our flight from Vienna to Salzburg. After figuring things out with airlines, we decided that due to our limited time in Austria, the best thing to do was skip our flight from Vienna to Salzburg and rent a car and drive instead.

I’m so glad we did! The Lord worked it all to our good and we were able to see a lot more of the countryside then we would have seen otherwise.

Due to the weather forecast and our limited time, we decided to drive from Vienna to Hallstatt and then back to Salzburg for the night. From Vienna, we took highways B227, A4, A23,A9, B320, B145, and on into Hallstatt.



The countryside was perfect. Rolling hills, majestic mountains, little chapels, picturesque villages, and stunning blue sky.


The pictures don’t even begin to do it justice.


Once we got closer to Hallstatt, we came up to this beautiful lake and village. I wish I could have stayed here for hours and stared at this view, but it was getting dark and we wanted to make it to Hallstatt.


And finally, Hallstatt…this place was so beautiful I cried. A little village, built on the side of a crystal clear lake and surrounded by mountains. It looked too beautiful to be true.




The houses and shops along the streets of Hallstatt were little perfect European cottages with their charming structures and lovely flowers.


IMG_7976This day is one that will forever be etched in my memory. Not only because I saw such incredable beauty, but also because the day had some interesting challenges.

We were over an hour delayed leaving the airport due to a luggage issue, we were jet-lagged and very tired, and… our darling almost-two-year-old threw up four times on the ride from Vienna to Hallstatt.

I thought it would be a great idea to buy her milk from a conveince store for the road trip. Obviously, I was very wrong. Shortly after drinking the milk, she threw it up all over herself and the carseat. We pulled over on the side of the road, cleaned her and the carseat up, and then shortly after getting back on the road, it happened again.

The final two times we were smart enough to keep a bag under her chin to avoid her messing herself up again, but the car reeked with the smell of milk vomit.

After a long day of flying, driving, tending a sick child, and taking lots of pictures, we made it to Salzburg. Nora was feeling much better by this time and we all crashed on the bed.  New post about our time in Salzburg coming soon!

Photo Credit: Fady Gergis



The Story He’s Writing


It was 5am. We were awake from jet-lag and decided to go downstairs and make a cup of coffee instead of trying to force ourselves back to sleep.

The wind was blowing outside and snow was gently falling. A few days ago, we had been wearing shorts on the beach. Now, we were huddled under a blanket next to the fireplace while the world outside turned white.

This morning was special to me. I normally wake up on weekdays around 5am, often 3 hours before my husband does. We are normally on different schedules but this day, thanks to jet-lag, we were together sipping coffee before the sun was even up.

A few days previous to this, I had an eye procedure that made me take a mandatory break from screens. I couldn’t scroll through my phone, share my days with Instagram, or see what the rest of the world was up to.

During those few days, the Lord kept speaking to my heart to look around me and see the beauty of the moment I was living in. Not just to share the highlights of my day with social media. Not to watch other peoples lives and get distracted by what I don’t have and they do. But to embrace these moments and live deeply in them.

As we set cuddled on that couch, the Lord gently whispered to my heart, “This is the story I am writing for you.”

This. This is my story. This is what He has for me.

His words played over again in my head as I looked around me and took it in.

This little home in the landlocked midwest. The challenges and joys of being a working mother. The pains of living a life behind the scenes. The joys of traveling and the times I have to stay home. The endless circle of diapers, laundry, dishes. The early morning and late nights just to try to keep everything under control.

Standing in Hallstatt, Austria with tears in my eyes as I looked around at the perfect beauty. Walking the streets of Cairo, Egypt. Picking up groceries for a friend and cooking a meal for a new mom. Climbing out of bed at 5am for quiet time, an hour in the gym, and answering emails before 8am. Staying up an hour past bedtime to catch up on laundry. Date nights with my husband and the times of figuring out which insurance to enroll in.

All of these little moments, the big ones and the small ones, these are all part of the story He is writing for me. This is my story. This is the story of my family.

And these are also the moments I miss and overlook when I compare my story to others. When I’m filling my mind with what others have and are doing, it often clouds my eyes to the beauty of my story.

This is what the Lord is calling me to as this year closes and a new one begins – to look closer at the story He is writing for me and embrace every aspect of it. Sure, Continue reading “The Story He’s Writing”

When No One Sees You

Empty Bench Picture

The door closed and the lock clicked loudly. I watched the car drive down the road and tears began slipping down my cheeks. I already missed him and wasn’t looking forward to the next 10 days with him gone.

Walking up the stairs, I was greeted by my screaming toddler. There were gold fish cracker crumbs in the floor, dishes in the sink, and two extra loads of laundry I hadn’t yet gotten to.

I sat down in the kitchen floor and joined Nora in a crying-party. The enemy kept whispering to me, “What are you doing? Your husband is going to speak at conferences on the other side of the world and you are stuck here. You are so insignificant.”

For a few minutes, I gave in. I felt sick in my heart. Then the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Don’t give in to those lies. Everything you do for Him is significant. Even if it is staying behind and keeping the home.”

Nora and I held hands, we prayed, wiped away our tears and I told her that we had to be strong. We had to continue to serve the Lord well here while Daddy was away in Amsterdam. We needed to rejoice and be happy. This is what we were called to do right now.

To everyone who feels like no one sees you, I understand. To everyone who feels like what you are doing is less than others are doing, I understand. It is a valid feeling and it hurts. We look around and see people on stages, with microphones and lights. We see people leading world-changing businesses. We watch the success and promotions of others around us. And meanwhile, here we are, serving endlessly and yet no one notices us.

We want so desperately to be seen and to be validated. To be known and to be praised. We want someone to tell us that we are doing a good job, that we are awesome. We want to receive recognition and feel important.

But beloved, let me remind you, you are seen. You are known. By the King of Kings; by the God of the universe; by the Creator of the world.

You are seen by the One who sees behind closed doors to places that no one else sees. You are known by the One who knows the depths of the heart, when everyone one else only knows the surface. You are loved by the One who loves unconditionally.

It doesn’t matter what our “stage” is. Maybe we are standing on a platform in front of 20,000. Maybe we are speaking at conferences around the world. Maybe we work in a coffee shop or a retail store. Maybe we are sitting in our child’s room in the middle of the night, changing diapers and nursing a hungry baby.

It’s the posture of our heart that matters. It’s Who we live for. Do we live for the applause and recognition of men? Do we only feel important when people sing our praises? Or are we ok to never be known, to make daily sacrifices and never get recognition?

In our modern day social media society, it’s easy to fall in the trap of comparison. All it takes is a 30 second scroll down your Instagram feed to find someone who is more impactful than you. We often forget that while some of us will never get national recognition, best-selling books, or a 100,000 followers on Instagram, we will be known in Heaven and rewarded for what we have done.

One day, each and every one of us – regardless of how famous or hidden we were -we will stand before the King of Glory.  Imagine the moment when you hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. I saw you when no one else did. I heard you the world thought you were silent. And you delighted my Heart.”

Whatever you are called to, my friend, remember – you are seen. You are known. And you are never doing anything that you do in His name in vain.


Photo Credit: Fady Gergis