Daily Mountains

Laura taught me something that has helped me have a deeper understanding as a peer in this world.  Her boldness and braveness about her mental health mended some wounds of mine. 

Laura wasn’t my only family member who struggled day to day. My brother has schizophrenia. Growing up he was too young to diagnose. But he did have some unique behaviors. I have a core memory of telling him it’s time for dinner for distraction so I could let the frogs and lizards free that we had caught in fear of him killing them. Another one of me waking of to a bloody nose from being punched by him. This happened twice. It was in the teenage years where his behavior looked more rebellious on the outside and the rest of us standing helpless on the outside.

Everyone was aching. But he ached even more. Steamy tears drip down as I recall him being rushed to the ER the first attempt of suicide of his on Halloween night. His arms filleted open as his cry for help. 

His chaotic episodes and behavior was his internal cry for help. I was angry and even bitter. The worry on our parents faces froze like stone became daily as they yearned for their son. The ache became agony for all of us. 

I’m a firm believer of medication and if it weren’t for it I never would have met Laura and my brother wouldn’t be alive. 

So when I hear comments like: 

“There always seems to be something with your brother. “

“Your just going to enable him.”

“When is he going to grow up.”

Your right. 

There is always something going on with my brother. That something is something he never chose. That something is forever crippling and haunting his life if unmedicated. 

Laura helped me see that. The people who are struggling hate their thorn in their side as much as we do. They are trying to manage it. They need to push a little harder then most just to function in the world. 

As an outsider I support my brother the best I can by being his listening ear. 

There’s a balance that needs to take place in taking care of my mental health while encouraging someone who is struggling with a weight that is unbearable at times. I let him know what times we can chat that way I can give him the best encouragement I can. As a mom and wife I’m split. If I’m going through a rough season that’s when I take a step back and take care of myself before reconnecting with him. I love my brother for who he is and proud of all the work he is doing to overcome this daily mountain. 

Left Hungry

Instead of craving the moments of silence with a survival mindset I’m hoping to pour my open time into nights where I tune my heart and nourish my soul in the word. This is how I want to end my days moving forward not only into 2023 but in my life. 

These past few years I’ve craved silence more then ever since becoming a mom. I knew motherhood would be loud. But I didn’t know the pain that would come with it for me. Sometimes it’s physically or sometimes emotional. Read more on this topic here.

I’d reach for my phone for a 5 minute mental breather sending a txt, or scroll on social media. 

I’d fuel my weariness in sitting in silence but was left hungry.  I began my counseling journey and was given tools to help me break down my 28 years of thinking. All I knew had to become gravel and my minds foundation has to be slowly built up. The tools are helpful but they are not a strong enough foundation.  I’m not ending my nights reliant on the temporary helpful tools anymore. I’m ending in abundance, growth, peace, calmness, and rest in prayer and the word. 

You Don’t Fit Me

You don’t fit me.
Because you don’t fit my season anymore.

It’s refreshing to give this away as I choose to be comfortable in my body now. I clung onto a single girl in her 20’s when I’m a mom in her 30’s.
Hanging onto these meant hanging on to the impossible. Hanging onto these doesn’t make room for my growth in my journey. Could I be this size again? Sure. But for now I can always buy new pants.

Chasing A Seven Year Dream

When Peter and I were Newlywed we often talked about our future.

We’d have kids, a home, and find ways to bless people with our home. 

Over time the realities were covering the dreams and I began to stop dreaming. I was discouraged. Some may say I had given up or settled. When in reality I had to work on learning to be content in all seasons. To take in the beauty set before me. Two beautiful healthy strong boys. A present husband and father who goes great lengths for us. 

This Spring a lot of our friends started letting us know they were moving and Peter was looking for a change in his work. 

This opened up conversations in passing and then they became longer. 

Weeks later we then realized we both want to move for different reasons. More talking happened. 

The more we talked the more we realized that Washington does not have what we want for our children. We want more financial freedom and time with our children. With selling our home we are hoping to buy and have the next place paid off or mostly paid off. The past year was also hard with raising little active boys because it rains so much. So we are moving somewhere where we can be outside more often. I am eager to live far from town and have more privacy as well. 

Our conversations began to snow ball into the steps of us talking to our real estate agent, preparing the house and getting ready to move.

We are moving out of state! 

I’d like to conclude with thanking those who have touched our house making it what it is today. 

The Lewis’s, the Martin’s, Paul Catt, John skubic, The Stabler’s, Steve and Sara, Kiana, Zach Ricks, Tracy Reineer, our neighbor Johnny, and The Schauer’s. 

See it here: 

Christmas Letter 2021

I want to talk about all the fun things and happy things when I start writing these letters. But this year was not one of those years. We were filled with challenges that we did not ever think we would face. Starting with losing our sister in law unexpectedly in the Spring, and ending the year with losing my grandma in the fall. 

The summer was filled with stressors of Peter on an awkward work schedule that did not work well for our family and not having water in the kitchen most of the Summer due to our kitchen project. So we would buy it. As I reflect I can still count the blessings of having two healthy boys, my colorstreet group growing, and friendships growing and being formed by a play group that was started over the Summer. Jason started going to a private preschool, and Logan is learning to talk. God has given us these gifts and blessings and we are humbly privileged as we are constantly learning, renewing our minds as raise our sweet boys. 

Merry Christmas and blessings to you all,

Echols family 

Peter, Mihaela, Jason (3), and baby Logan (19 months) 

If You Knew Her You Loved Her

If you knew her you loved her.

I remember when I first met Laura she was open and genuine. She really wanted to take the time to get to know all of us and build a relationship with all of us before taking the next big step with Jordan. She was the girl Jordan was txting the night before our wedding so I knew this girl was special. She quickly was welcomed with open arms and at almost every family event.

And if you knew her she would have wanted a genuine relationship with you too.

Although she had a hard life, she was still the most genuine, kind, encouraging, and understanding person. Through her struggles she knew the Lord’s strength would get her through hard seasons her and Jordan had faced. She never asked for much because she knew prayer was enough.

To the girl who I want to send the silly pictures of today’s adventure, the one I could always vent to and never be judged. The girl who I prayed for for my brother. The girl who loved him more then anyone I’ve ever known encouraging him to be better and loving him for who he is. What I would give to see you saw this post. What I would give for another sister to sister chat. What I would give to hear her call my boys name over face time. To see her. To hear her laugh. To see my phone go off and her name pop up. She was more then I could ever have asked for in a sister in law. I had the privilege to watch her grow in her faith over these past 5 1/2 years. I had the privilege to call her sister, the auntie to my children and friend.

I just want to txt her silly pictures as if it were yesterday. I miss you and love you sister.

No description available.
She had such a heart for children, especially her nieces and nephews.
No description available.
Her meeting our youngest last Summer.
No description available.
No description available.
Auntie Laura sharing Jordan’s childhood cars
No description available.
Two years ago meeting our first baby.
No description available.
The day we first met! we went on a fun date to a pumpkin patch. Jordan climbed the hay and we were worried and Laura started laughing out of love.
No description available.
Walking back after this light house picture I asked them what was taking them so long for getting married? I knew they were in love and she was absolutely perfect for Jordan.

How We Teach Our Children About Halloween

We have chosen to raise our children to celebrate Halloween in a fun and innocent way. In our home we give the pumpkin and season of fall itself the spot light. We do pumpkin painting every year, fall crafts, pumpkin story books, Charlie Brown movies, and trick or treating. Usually we would do a Trunk or Treat with our Church.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting
Daddy and our oldest almost 2
No photo description available.
Both of the boys pumpkins
No photo description available.
(our youngest’s pumpkin. 4 months here)

I grew up seeing some friends not being able to Trick or Treat and felt as if they were missing out on so much fun. I wouldn’t want our children to miss out as well.

The HUGE dilemma with most parents is wanting to avoid the Halloween characters, as I call them. The: ghosts, goblins, skeletons, witches, vampires and werewolf’s.

The reality is they are everywhere and they are also PRETEND. Our two year old is starting to notice them in his pumpkin books, and in stores. We were walking through Walmart the other day and he pointed out the big blow up skeleton with the axe. “Yep baby that’s a Halloween character, he is spooky but he is pretend.”

He may not know what any of that means yet. But he will over time as we continue to talk about it each year. I use the term ‘character’ just as I would for the Leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day, The Easter Bunny for Easter, and Santa for Christmas. If we dramatize the ‘characters’ then they may appear more scary and real instead of pretend. I wouldn’t bring our children to a haunted house or show them scary movies to prove my point. But I cannot shut the Halloween characters out from the world we live in. So as we see them in books, and at the stores they are as I mentioned above PRETEND spooky but not real. They cannot hurt us.

We plan to celebrate the season, the pumpkin, and innocent fun that we choose Halloween to be for our family.

A Dog Called Grace

A dog I’ve never met touched my heart in a way only she could.

I reflect on the hurt of the loss the owner which strikes my heart every time I see a “Grace dog”. I delighted in watching her adventures on social media and reading the fun stories they once had.

A dog called Grace has touched my heart.

It was a week after the loss a year ago I saw a dog who looked just like her. My heavy heart froze. I got out of my car and my eyes locked with the dog sitting in the car parked next to ours. The no bark and long gaze caught me off guard. It was as if I was able to take the awkward stare down and be reminded to pray and to allow my heart to grieve before getting our little out of the back seat. Every “Grace dog” reminds me to say a silent prayer for his family.

Happy Birthday To Baby #2

    It’s 11pm my body hurts. I’m thinking I’m in labor. Our 18 month old woke up crying at 11:24. So I go in the room to snuggle him. I knew I was in labor at that point. He was sad for about an hour but finally went to sleep. It’s like he knew something was going on with mommy.

    By 2:30 we called our friend to come stay with Jason. I was puking and pooping by then. He got to our house by 3:30.Thankfully Jason was able to get some sleep before we left. Saying goodbye to Jason went pretty well. We had him say hi to our friend and he went to him and I ran out before I started to get too emotional about leaving him.

We got to the birthing center by 4 a.m. I went in and puked. I jumped in the scale 145 lbs! After hours of laboring at the center I was at a 3 for progress. Then I got in the big beautiful tub. My water broke after at about 9:35. I lifted my stomach up and it broke! Five hours later of being at the center I was at an 8 for progress. But then even with pressure points I could start feeling the labor in my back. And our baby was trying to come out too early. When they asked if I wanted nitro oxide or go to the hospital to get an epidural to slow down the contractions. I was confused and soon felt a sense of failure as if I did something wrong. I chose the hospital.They said I was so swollen that I would’ve torn my cervix that could lead to a surgery.

I was afraid that he’s come out too early and if the nitro oxide didn’t work I would’ve had to go to the hospital anyway.

My mind was filled with negative thoughts:

I should’ve known something would’ve gone wrong.” 

“I should’ve seen this coming”

“This was a mistake”

I thought I was at home stretch. I was discouraged and afraid that I was going to have him in the car. We get in and all I feel is pressure. The contractions kept on pushing.

“I’m not going to let you have your baby in your car” One of the midwives reassured me.

I was afraid that he was going to slip out. Frantically I pretended  to blow birthday candles on the way. I could feel him pushing down. My midwife, Holly kept saying “Almost there. Longest part is the 10 minute car ride.”

When we got out of our car I hung on to her. Then a lady came out and asked why we were there. My midwife  said “Labor! I should have a room ready for her.” She had called before we had even left the birthing center and had a team lined up for me.

“They can’t tell we’re in labor?” She asked to me. I was so happy to have a midwife as straight forward as she was. 

 The receptionist tried to slow her down and  get us to do paper work. We kept walking with me and said “Nope no paper work I need a wheelchair now!  You guys should have a room ready for me. I called ahead. “

They came at me with a mask. (This is the time of COVID-19) I snapped “NO!” 

I needed to breathe I’m in labor and my baby was about to come out. As they wheeled me I kept asking for epidural. My midwife answered all questions for me. I chatted with her after I got it placed in. Peter went to get himself some food. We both napped. The nurse came in and said I had progressed at a 9 and 3/4 and I had the option to push if I wanted or I could wait till I got to 10. I said since I was on drugs I can wait. I’m so thankful I did. An hour and 43 minutes of pushing Logan came out. His shoulders got stuck and needed help out. Peter cut his cord. And oh was I sooo happy to hear his little cry. I looked to see and yep a boy! The first thing I said was “He’s fat!”

19hours 43minutes


May 11th 2020 8.7lbs

Logan peter.

I walk away with zero regrets of choosing a birthing center. They were with us the entire journey. They were intentional from the beginning. They included both my husband and our 18 month old in as much as they could. Our oldest would come to all my appointments and listen to Logan’s heart beat. They made sure I got the proper care I needed especially with fighting hyperemesis. I never once had to wait more then five minutes for my appointment and my appointments would last an hour making it worth the drive. I never felt like a visit was a waste of time. Twice I had missed an appointment and they were so understanding and just rescheduled me.  They even gave referrals for a new place to take our children for pediatric care. I have had my first postpartum visit and they lined me up with a lactacian consultant right away and I have been able to nurse Logan more smoothly since. I love that they do  check ups for post partum care and are checking in on our whole family not just me.  Looking back I would do the experience of this pregnancy and who was apart of our journey again. 

Image may contain: one or more people, people sleeping and indoor

When Time Is A Ministry

After I had my baby I didn’t want to leave the house. I had two friends who would come to see him and visit. Neither of them knew how much it meant to me for them to give me their time and remember my baby in the business of their own lives. It reminded me how giving our time can be used to minister to those around us.  

They never said anything about me rocking the leggings, messy bun, and T-shirts, or how tired I looked, or if there were dishes in the sink. Those simple visits meant the world to me. Neither of them knew I had been struggling with PPD (Post Partum Depression), or that I had been wanting to stay in contact with friends but leaving the house was a struggle for me.

Time is something you can’t get back and can be the most precious blessing to give. 

You never know what seeds you are planting or just reminding believers that God is good. We live in the world of excuses where most forget about friendships that could be made or hearts that could be encouraged by an hour of chatting over coffee.