Francis, Party of 4!

Chad and I are happy to announce that we have started the process for domestic infant adoption! Adoption has been part of our “Plan A” since before we were married, and our heart for adoption has only grown as we’ve more fully realized how beautifully it shadows the gospel, how huge the need is, and how our pro-life stance could be backed by our action.

It was right around when I was pregnant with M that Chad started considering adopting sooner in the birth order rather than later. We had friends who were adopting before trying for biological children, and it inspired Chad to reconsider our birth order. (Our original plan was to adopt after having 2 biological children.)

When M was about 2/2.5 months old, about a week after she started sleeping through the night consistently and the fog of sleeplessness was starting to clear, Chad and I started talking about timing for starting the adoption process. After praying about it and openly discussing it among family and friends, we decided to begin actively pursuing adoption at the end of summer when M was about 7 months old.

And here we are! We have signed on with a adoption consulting group and are in the thick of paperwork, completing our home study, and putting together our family profile.

We will be sharing details as we have them, but for now we ask that you pray with us:

  1. For kiddo #2. Pray for his/her biological mama and the difficult decision she faces in choosing who to adopt her precious child; pray that she would have comfort and peace throughout the process and thank God for her decision to choose life for her baby.
  2. For us. We know that God’s perfect plan will unravel in his timing and in his ways, and ask that you would pray alongside us for patience, wisdom, and increasing faith as we navigate the adoption process.
  3. For M. She’s gonna be a big sister!

Thanks for joining us on our journey of adoption! For more on God’s heart for adoption, read: Adoption is the Heart of the Gospel, by John Piper


Be Yourself!

I am very okay at a lot of things. But I am not, and never have been, the best at anything.

I’ve never been the prettiest, smartest, artsiest, friendliest, fittest… you name it. I can always name someone I know who is better at (insert appropriate phrase here) than I am.

Up until recently, I’ve always seen this as a problem. Do I have too many interests? Am I a jack of all trades and master of none? (Is that really a bad thing?) Am I wasting away my gifts by not specializing in one?

It wasn’t until I laid awake the other night wondering about my problem that I realized that my desire to hone in on one expertise and become the master of it was largely driven by pride & culture rather than calling. God doesn’t give the same gifts to his people, and some people have more focused gifts than others (Ephesians 4:7). And that is okay. I can still use whatever gifts I’ve been given, whatever platform I’ve been given, to God’s glory–and it doesn’t need to just be focused on one thing. Of course, I want to strive to be better in all of my endeavors, but I don’t need to pursue only one interest if that is not where I’ve been called.

As that realization moved down into my heart, I felt so at peace. I don’t need to start an Etsy shop with my hand-lettered creations. I don’t need to have thousands of followers on my social media accounts. I don’t need to be known by people in Christian subculture. Heck, I don’t need to be a Yelp Elite reviewer. I can just be me, a woman who loves Jesus, loves my family, loves my church, loves teaching Pure Barre, and loves #pencilligraphy.

How freeing!


When Darkness Hits, Fight.

My news feed today was one piece of crushing news after another. While some news was shallow (traffic), I saw multiple posts from friends and friends of friends regarding losing babies. Infants. Kids close to M’s age.

And my heart broke.

There are few things more sobering than death. I wish I could say I sat here singing, “O death, where is your victory; where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55), when I read the different stories.

But I’m not.

Though I know it is true, it doesn’t feel true. It feels crushing, hopeless, worthy of despair.

And to an extent, it should. The world we live in is broken and in need of a Savior. Life is hard. Death stings.

At this point, though, I have two options: callous my heart or fight for hope.

Option 1: Callous my heart.

I shift my attention to my current show on Netflix, focus on my fitness goals, and look up some funny memes in an attempt to distract my saddened heart. It is easier–so much easier–to divert my attention to something happier and not give thought to the broken-heartedness of the situation.

However, callousing my heart is essentially building a wall that inhibits vulnerability: with God, with Chad, with friends, and with others. Unfortunately hearts can’t be compartmentalized efficiently, and you can’t callous just one portion of it without affecting the whole thing. I know this from experience.

Result of Option 1: Make life a little bit more shallow (which seems OK until you’ve experienced the depths of how full life can be otherwise). This leads me to…

Option 2: Fight for hope.

I bring my broken heart to Jesus. I confess that I don’t believe that he is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and that one day, he’s going to tear open the sky and make all things new; that he’s going to be with us forever and make it so tears and sorrow are no more (Revelation 21:3-4). On occasion, I also write as I convince myself to fight.

Unbelief always precedes belief, and until I admit that I don’t believe, God doesn’t have much to work with. (Self-sufficient, can-do attitudes don’t work so well with grace.) Thankfully, God is a good Father who is faithful and cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13). He gives his children his peace AND his presence (Philippians 4:5-9) as we bring him our troubles in unbelief.

Result of Option 2: A deeper relationship with God, which can also result in deeper relationships with others.

I don’t always choose Option 2, but I never regret when I do. In the while it’s taken for me to process through this in writing (it’s kind of like a more thought-through version of prayer), God has been gracious to grant me his peace and his presence. And I’m reminded of what I’ve been reading in 1 Peter:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV, emphasis mine

So, friends, when darkness shows its ugly face, I urge you to fight.


Letting Go

Babies are very good at grabbing onto things, but not so good at letting them go. They often become frustrated, banging whatever it is they’re grabbing onto on themselves or on the surface in front of them.

The two main ways to get a baby to let go of whatever they’re holding on to are either

  1. diverting their attention to something else that they are tricked into thinking they want instead, or
  2. prying it out of their hands.

Isn’t that true of growing up? The more we mature, the easier it is to let things go on our own, without diversion tactics or prying it out of our proverbial hands.




Shadows of the gospel and of the Christian faith are everywhere. We just need to look.

Yesterday M was walking in her walker towards me, but every time she would try to pass her clip-on high chair she would stop moving forward. The clip-on high chair was closer and too distracting. 

So she’d end up moving backwards from looking at the high chair. 

And then getting frustrated that she wasn’t near me. 

It was a gentle reminder that it’s hard to go where we aren’t looking, and a reminder that when the Lord doesn’t feel near enough, it may have been because our eyes had wandered elsewhere.

View More: http://jessiechristensen.pass.us/madelyndaniellefrancis

Baby Sleep Schedules: 0-6 Months

Now that M is down to 2 naps (7 months old) and I feel like I can breathe again, I thought I should document the scheduling for the first 6 months of her life for future reference.

birth-2 weeks & 2 weeks-1 month | “operation survival”

Things we focused on:

  • establishing nursing relationship & milk supply (feeding every 3 hours during the day, full feeds); we stopped waking to feed at night when M was well over her birth weight at her 2-week check-up
  • pre-sleep routine: diaper change, swaddle, song, down in crib
  • minimizing sleep props (rocking, holding, nursing to sleep, etc.)
  • sleeping in the crib (except her witching “hour,” which lasted from about 6-10pm)

Schedule at 1 week:

7 DWT (nurse, diaper change, sleep)
7:35ish-10 nap
10 wake, nurse
10:45-1 nap
1 wake, nurse
1:45-4 nap
4 wake, nurse
4:45-7 nap
7 wake, nurse
7:45-10 nap (fussy pants, usually slept on us)
10 nurse
10:45-ish “down for the night” — usually fussy, slept on Chad
2 MOTN feedings at 3 hours from the previous feed.

Schedule at 1 month:

DWT 6:30, nurse
7:15-9:30 nap
9:30 wake, nurse
10:30-12:30 nap
12:30 wake, nurse
1:30-3:30 nap
3:30 wake, nurse
4:30-6 nap
6 wake, nurse
7-8:30 nap (this “nap” was mostly on Chad or me — super fussy)
8:30 nurse (she would usually wake up)
9-ish down for the night
1 MOTN feed; mostly around


I stressed wayyyyy too much about scheduling (first time mom problems) and probably should have cleaned a little less and slept a little more. M basically slept the entire month, so going out was stressful knowing I’d have to wake her up. I was also new to town so most relationships weren’t the most life-giving, so I think next round will be significantly different!

1-2 months | “operation bye-bye witching hour”

Things we focused on:

  • DWT (desired/daily wake time) to help regulate M’s 24-hour cycle
  • stretching the night sleep cycle

Schedule at 2 months:

7 DWT, nurse
8-10:30 nap (this was her best nap of the day so I’d let her sleep)
10:30 nurse
11:30-1:30 nap
1:30 nurse
2:30-4 nap
4 nurse
5-6 nap
6 nurse
7-8 nap
8 nurse (we aimed to cluster feed to fill her up; she would fuss most of the evening hours anyway up until 8/9 weeks)
9 bedtime
11 late evening feed — M would wake up when I fed her but would go straight to bed afterwards.


This was the month we traveled to Maui for my father-in-law’s wedding. M was just shy of 6 weeks old. She did great on the flight–slept on me almost the entire time (did one eat-wake-sleep cycle). Turns out M would also nap on me while we went out and slept incredibly well.

2-3 months | “operation earlier bedtime”

Things we focused on:

  • dropping the late evening feed, which happened at 10 weeks

Schedule at 3 months:

6/6:30 DWT, nurse (when we dropped the late night feed she was doing about 11-hour nights)
7/7:30-9:30 nap
9:30 nurse
10:30-12:30 nap
12:30 nurse
1:45-3:30 nap
3:30 nurse
4:30-5:30 catnap
5:30 wake time
6:30 nurse & bedtime around 7/7:30


M dropped the late night feed and never looked back–okay, she may have looked back once or twice since then. Haha. This was also the first month we left M with non-family members after she went down (one time for a nap) and went on a few dates/outings. It was hard, but we did it! And she slept! Yay!

3-4 months | “operation drop-a-nap”

Things we focused on:

  • ridding of the crap-nap (45-minute naps)
  • stretching wake time
  • stretching the 11-hour night to 12 hours

Schedule at 4 months:

6 DWT, nurse (just kept creeping up!) — wake times dramatically increased this month
7:30-9:30 nap
9:30 nurse
11:15-12:45 nap
12:45 nurse
2:30-4 nap
4 nurse
6 nurse & bed


This month’s “schedule” was all over the place. :) Every day was different, or so it seemed. I kept playing with wake times and we ended up on a 3.5-hour-ish schedule.

4-5 months | “operation drop-another-nap”

Things we focused on:

  • figuring out whether M needed 2 or 3 naps

Schedule at 5 months:

6:30 DWT, nurse
7:30/8 nurse again
9-11 nap
11:30/12 nurse
1-3 nap
3 nurse
5:30 nurse, bed by 6


We figured out how to keep M’s naps long: nurse twice during the first wake time. The problem, though, was that she was between 2 and 3 naps. Instead of going with 3, I pushed for 2 too soon. She was overtired every night at bedtime and would cry for what seemed like forever–every, single, night. (Insert tears-down-the-face emoji.) On days where a nap went to crap and was short, I would try to squeeze in the catnap… Anyway, if I were to do it again, I would keep 3 naps for longer until she was ready to drop it.

5-6 months | “operation no schedule”

Things we focused on:

  • going with the flow: colds, travels, vaccinations…
  • surviving 10-day vacation sharing a room with M

Schedule at 6 months:

6:30 DWT, nurse
7:30/8 nurse again
8:30-10 nap
11/11:30 nurse
12:30-2:30/3 nap
3 nurse
5:30 nurse & bed around 6


I’m pretty sure she only abided to that schedule twice the entire month. With getting her first cold, going to California, and then coming home to vaccinations, we basically flew by the seat of our pants. It was terrible, but it definitely taught me to always continue with the schedule and to watch out which sleep props I introduce when M isn’t perfectly healthy or when she’s thrown off schedule. In retrospect, I would have just kept her out with me late instead of having her cry it out at my mom’s without me there, all while she was overtired… Oh gosh, thinking back on this month was painful!


3 Tips for Babywise Success

Chad and I both have type-A personalities and thrive on routine, schedules, and to-do lists. It seemed to be a no-brainer that we would, for our own sanity, try to set some sort of routine for our baby as well. We were recommended to use Babywise from a number of friends and started with M day 1.

For those who are not familiar with Babywise, there are plenty of misconceptions around it, and some parents hold so strictly to a schedule that it’s unhealthy for them and the baby; however, when done correctly (and from what I believe, as the author intended) Babywise causes both the parents and the baby to thrive. I found this SparkNotes version of Babywise helpful if you’re interested–it’s far more than just about scheduling!

We are 7+ months in to doing the Babywise routine with M. She follows the eat-wake-sleep pattern, “eats” full meals when she nurses for maximum nutritional benefits, and falls asleep on her own when it’s time for bed. We couldn’t ask for a happier, healthier baby.

There are a few things that I need to remember for our next kid, though. So today, while I feel sane and my baby is napping right on schedule, I have a few tips for the future, stressed out version of me that perhaps you could find useful as well.

3 tips for Babywise scheduling success:

  1. Remember that every baby is different.

    What works for one family doesn’t work for another, and trying to conform your baby into someone else’s will suck the life out of you. My next child will probably not be exactly like M. He/she might not sleep through the night at 2 months, and that is okay. Every baby is different and that is a good thing. Your primary job is to love your baby and care for him/her, however s/he was designed (Psalm 139:13-16). Training is important, but it will look different for your baby than it does for mine.

  2. Babywise principles are meant to serve you, not the other way around.

    At the end of the day, a human being cannot be controlled or manipulated into a robotic schedule. Even with the best routines and on the days where you do “everything” right, your baby still might not sleep on cue or sleep as long as they should. On those days, ask for help. Get outside of your head, humble yourself, cast your anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:6-7), and try to replace fixating on the problem of your schedule/sleeplessness on something greater. Or have a glass of wine. :)

  3. Flexibility will not kill your scheduled baby. Flexibility is also good for your soul.

    Just like your life shouldn’t revolve around you, you shouldn’t revolve it around your baby. Remember your priorities, and if you’re anything like I am, try to schedule at least one schedule-stretching event a week. Don’t throw your baby’s schedule out the window, but it’s never too early to start training your baby that their world doesn’t revolve around them. Sometimes they will need to stay awake longer or go to bed earlier, or sleep in a foreign place. Sometimes they cry. It won’t be the end of the world and each outing gets easier!

In the coming days (hopefully tomorrow) I will be posting an overview of M’s schedules for the first 6 months, with tidbits I’d learned in our scheduling successes and failures. Stay tuned!