4:55 p.m.

by Erica Layne on July 22, 2014

The 4:55 p.m. family hug.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:55 p.m., the alarm on my phone goes off (playing Frozen’s “Let It Go,” because of course), and I gather three grinning kiddos in for a family hug.

It’s a time of day when we can all benefit from a quick reset—a reminder of how lucky we are to have each other. And for me, because I’m looking at the big push through dinner and to bed, I try to take a few seconds to regroup and gear up. :)

I read the idea at the Abundant Mama a couple of months ago, and I’ve appreciated the mood boost we’ve gotten from it ever since, so I thought it was worth passing along! Let me know if you decide to try it, and I’ll think of you at 4:55 p.m. :)



The Magic of Motherhood

by Erica Layne on July 16, 2014

magic of motherhood I saw the telltale glow under his covers, so in the soft light of morning, I pulled up his quilt and climbed in. He shined the flashlight into my face as I asked him how he slept.

His brother dozed peacefully in the bed next to us, and I could hear the baby stirring in her crib across the hall.

It didn’t feel like magic, being snuggled up with my son and a flashlight at 7:02 am.

It felt normal.

It felt like…Did I start the dishwasher last night? What should we eat for breakfast? What errands do we need to run today? 

It felt like every morning for the last six years that I’ve been a mother.

They splash in the bath. The baby stands up and cautiously toddles over to grab a shampoo bottle. She plops down unceremoniously and concentrates on trying to get the lid open. Trenton, our oldest, suddenly turns on the water full force while Chase puts his hand over the faucet, redirecting the water to spray all over the room.

Sometimes I hide a laugh when this happens, sometimes I ignore it for a minute or two because at least they’re happy, and sometimes I tell them to cut it out.

It doesn’t feel like magic. I feels like water on my dry clothes.

But if I could watch it on a screen, I might see their bursting smiles instead of the mess.

She leans in when she’s eating.

When she’s in just the right mood, she leans deeply toward me with her head, while she sits in her high chair and I spoon her some yogurt. I lean my head in too, and we touch foreheads with sparkles in our eyes.

But it’s so quick and fleeting, and within seconds I’m standing to mop up a spill, or I’m bending down to pick up the half of her meal that she tossed onto the ground.

It doesn’t feel like magic. It feels like a tiny reward for loving them through the food throwing and the fit throwing and the I’m-going-to-throw-out-my-back-if-I-bend-down-one-more-time kind of days.

It feels like every day for the last six years that I’ve been a mother.

But it’ll feel like magic someday. It will feel like a dream.

So why not try to capture the magic now? While I’m actually living it.



We had just finished volunteering at a school for the day and had driven several miles away when our rickety bus broke down. We all piled out and stood around in groups, waiting to see how bad the damage was.

Within minutes, I felt little arms encircle my waist from both sides. There were no buildings in sight, but children started appearing out of the brush.

We barely spoke the same language, but I could see flecks of glitter on their hands and faces, so I knew they had been in my class that day.

That evening, with their whole hearts, they offered what they could give—companionship. I’ll always remember those glittered little faces passing the hours with us.

Ten years ago this month, this happened—

erica layne mothers without borders1

I spent a few weeks in Zambia, Africa with a fantastic, Utah-based organization, Mothers Without Borders.

It blows my mind that it’s been a decade. It doesn’t feel nearly that long.

In a stroke of perfect timing, Balsam Hill recently asked me about working with them to promote a charity of my choice. Considering this summer is the anniversary of having my life changed forever, saying yes and choosing Mothers Without Borders was a no-brainer.

Mothers Without Borders’ mission is to contribute sustainable solutions to the global orphan crisis. What I love most about this organization is that in addition to the other work they do in Africa, they house more than thirty orphans in a family setting.

Kids who had almost nothing before coming into the home have found themselves with a family and a new sense of belonging. I’ve watched them sing and dance on their dusty porch in the setting sun.

Here at Let Why Lead, I talk about building families that are so full of love and belonging that our children derive a deep sense of identity from our family units. On the opposite side of the world, Mothers Without Borders is helping 22 beautiful children have a second chance at that. It’s a perfect fit.

So if you’ve been looking for a nonprofit to support, I’ll give you my two cents: this is a great one. If you’re interested in going to Africa, go with MWB! If you’ve considered sponsoring a child, you can do it through them!


If you happen to have a few extra dollars in the family budget this month, you can donate by clicking here. Balsam Hill is matching donations, which is pretty awesome. And if you donate $25, they’ll send you a Christmas ornament.

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We love the ornaments they sent us! (Can you see our reflections in the gold ball?)

Have I thanked you lately for reading Let Why Lead? Thank you so much. It really means the world to me. For more info on this Christmas-in-July charity event, click here. And if you have any questions about Mothers Without Borders or the fundraiser, feel free to ask! Thank you to anyone who considers donating. You all have a great week!


One Family’s Mantra & How it Has Shaped Them

July 9, 2014
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A sweet & supportive friend of mine introduced me to Tiffany because she knew I’d like her family mantra. No surprise—she was right! Read this, and be prepared to want to do hard things!  Our family motto is “I can do hard things.” I first heard it back in 2007. It was just a blip […]

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18 Summers

July 8, 2014
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Every year the Nester talks at the beginning of summer about how we only have 18 summers with each child. Maybe because this is our first official summer break (now that our oldest has finished kindergarten), the concept really struck me this year. So we set out on our quest to have the best summer […]

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Marriage Diaries: How Having a Baby Has Affected Us

July 2, 2014
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I’m happy to have Kaitlyn of Wifessionals here today for our last post in this round of the Marriage Diaries! I really admire Kaitlyn for initiating her Tough Topics series, where she invites real women to talk about problems they’re facing, from infertility to a premature birth to parenting a special needs child, and much […]

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Wholehearted Living: Knowing Your Shame Triggers

June 24, 2014
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Right in the moment, my knees go weak. Then later my brain fixates on what happened and won’t let go. Brené Brown says our physical reaction to shame is much the same as our reaction to trauma. When I first heard Brené talk about shame, I didn’t think I’d relate. My life is pretty straightforward right now […]

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