friday close-ups with: Kalyn Merriner

It has been way too long since we have had a Friday Close-up. If you are interested in being interviewed or being a guest poster please email me at

Kalyn Merriner went to seminary with my husband Nick at Westminster Seminary California. She is now married with a sweet baby girl and is someone who is always smiling and has something encouraging to say. 

1. How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have one daughter who just turned 11 months old.

2. What has been the hardest part of being a mom?

One of the hardest parts (so far) of becoming a mom has been surrendering my schedule to Ellie’s. Having another person completely dependent on me at all times, and knowing that my plans for the day or night will most likely be interrupted frequently has really stretched me.

3. What is the best part of being a mom?

My favorite part of being a mom is probably the same as the hardest part, being really needed all the time. While it’s exhausting, it’s the most fulfilling and meaningful work I think I have ever done! It gets me outside of myself and I know I’m doing exactly what I was made to do. (Also I LOVE the big smiles I get when I get her out of bed).

4. What is the best advice you have been given?

The best advice I have gotten was from my Mom while I was still pregnant and freaking out about possibly losing her. She told me that the sooner I surrendered her to Jesus the better, because there would just be more and more things that were out of my control. This advice comforts me so much now when I start to be scared about raising her well to love the Lord. It is such a daunting and intimidating task until I remember to fix my eyes on Jesus, the faithful Shepherd of little ones, and His power and might and promises.

5. What is something that you do for you? (hobby or craft or read, etc.)

Something I do for me….right now my favorite thing to do for me is really any time that I get to spend with my husband – he’s working on a MBA and working full time, so my favorite “me” time is “us” time. ;) I also volunteer once a week at a pregnancy center – the ladies there have become a second family to me and are helping me to grow in my understanding and living the truth of the Gospel. Being there refreshes my soul!

6. How has kids effected your marriage?

I would say that overall having a baby has strengthened our marriage. While it can be trickier to spend time just the two of us, our hearts are bonded together in the purpose of caring for a little Sweetie. I also have never been so in love or grateful for my husband as I was during labor and those first few weeks afterward as he took care of us. Seeing him grow as a daddy is my favorite.

7. What is your favorite baby products?

Since they got their new line of baby products, Aldi is my favorite place to buy diapers, wipes, puffs, formula and other baby snacks. The diapers in particular I have been super impressed by – she can sleep through the night in them (7:30-5ish), and they are so reasonably priced!

8. What has been the best resource for you since being a mom?

My little sister and my mom have been my best resources for Mommy questions. My sister has been great because she had two babies in the few years before I had mine, so she is right ahead of me and able to answer a lot of my questions. My Mom has 8 children (6 are now adults and two were adopted and are still little and at home) - so she is a veteran and has also been really helpful.

9. What is your go-to snack? 

My favorite snack right now is a bowl of Aldi-brand cheerios with honey drizzled on them and milk

.10. What is something you have learned about yourself since being a mom?

I think, similar to marriage, having a baby has revealed the depths of my selfishness and my own finiteness. Basically, motherhood continually shows me my need for Jesus. I am so grateful for His blood that covers me for His Spirit who strengthens and changes me. Before I had Ellie, I was given a booklet by Barbara Miller Juliani called "Preparing for Motherhood", which I highly recommend (even for already- Mamas). In it she talks about Isaiah 40:11 "He will tend His flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." This sweet promise is such an encouragement- as I struggle against my selfish desires and strive to love my family selflessly, and when I feel at the end of myself, Jesus has promised to gently lead and carry me as I care for my precious little Ellie. 



new friends wanted.

Our family has just said goodbye to some good friends for the 6th consecutive year. After college, Nick and I moved to our current area so that he could attend seminary. If you know anything about seminary life, you know that almost all of the students come from different parts of the world and most people (unlike us) move somewhere away after graduation. So for years we have been making the sweetest of friendships only to know that we would have to say good-bye two to four years later. Nick and I have dealt with these farewells as best as possible (good-byes are never easy), but saying goodbye these days takes on a whole new aspect since our kids are involved.

No parent likes to see their child sad, ever. Calvin and Max love people quickly and dearly, so it breaks my heart to hear them asking me if their friends can come over when they have moved across the country. We are also unable to have a lot of our friends and church family over since the drive and traffic can get pretty brutal at our church, so they get sad over this too. We are even going to give Calvin a Disneyland birthday party this year with just family in order to distract him from the fact that he cannot invite his best friends over for a party; because they don't live close by anymore :/. Poor guy. Loss and pain is inevitably going to hit my kids in life and I do want them to learn how to deal with this inevitability. At the same time though, I also want to be wise and sensitive to their feelings. It's because of this that I am hoping to venture out and make some new friends who will be around for longer than just a few short years.

I'm a person who does not like change and would stay in my own comfortable bubble of friends if I could. By venturing out in search of new friends of different backgrounds and places that we normally wouldn't meet, I hope as a family that we can make some great new friends. Calvin starts preschool this year at a christian school that is in a different denomination than our own (we are in the PCA), so I know that will open many doors to make some new friends. While Calvin is at school, I hope to try out a "mommy and me" class with Max. In addition to this, by going to new date night spots and through being more open with our neighbors and community members we hope that we can make a whole new set of friends; ones that might not move very soon or who have long had roots in our area. I can just see it now though. We make new friends and then watch, we will be the ones to move away. I know that life happens. I'm trying to have realistic expectations, especially to Nick's particular vocational path. Our families desire to have friends over for hospitality and to have a group of people to do life together with has been placed upon our hearts from God. 

So if you are like me and you find yourself in need of some new friends (while still loving on the far away ones), join me in being bold and doing something completely different. Let's friend those whom we would not normally talk to and open our hearts and homes to the possibility of making new lifelong friends. As the children's nursery rhyme goes, "make new friends, but keep the old." 

Our sweet friends from Romania we just said good bye to. 

Our sweet friends from Romania we just said good bye to. 

Some of my best friends also happen to be family. 

Some of my best friends also happen to be family. 

who checks in on you?

Monday and Tuesday Nick and I were in San Clemente with a great group of local pastors and wives in our presbytery (we are part of the Presbyterian Church of America, or PCA for short). It was very encouraging to meet and connect with other couples that are in a very similar stage of life as us and also laboring in ministry in Southern California. The whole event was exactly what we needed: encouragement, fellowship with couples we could relate with, and some alone time. The one thing that stuck out to me the most from our discussions with other couples was when our small group leader asked us "Do you guys have people in your life that check in on your marriage and family life? Do you have another couple or a friend who you feel comfortable with sharing your struggles and burdens with?" Many of us have a handful of close friends and family whom we trust and love, but to have someone that you can come to on a different and more intimate level with is another story.

And it was not a surprise to me that most people did not have people in their lives that checked in on their marriage or that they felt comfortable with sharing things about their marriage/family with. Yes, our spouse is and should be our best friend and most intimate partner, and they should be someone we can go to about anything. But what if you need advice and counsel from someone about your spouse? If you need encouragement about sin you are struggling with or a rough patch in your stage of life? Who then should you turn to?

By God's grace, Nick and I were able to confidently say 'yes' to that question. We do have this support and I do not share this with you to boast but to share how valuable these relationships are for our marriage. When sharing such deep and personal situations with someone that is not your spouse, there is a lot of wisdom that goes into finding and trusting someone that you can open up to. A lot of the time our pride and sins get in the way of being able to admit to someone that we are sinners and in need of help. The support and encouragement both Nick and I have received from our "check-in friends" has been invaluable.

So if you are contemplating if you should have someone to help keep you accountable and encourage you like this then please let me reassure you: it is worth it! I have found it most helpful that my friend is almost the same age as me, has the same amount of kids as me, has similar philosophies as I do in parenting and in life,  is a pastors wife like myself, and is obviously a Christian. Both of us feel as though we have two-way communication with our friends in that it is a two-way street of checking-in with one another. If you can't think of a friend whom you could pick up the phone and call and share deep parts of your heart with, then try being that kind of friend for someone else. If you know a friend who is going through a dry valley or could use some encouragement, reach out to them. A card, phone call, bible verse/passage, or coffee date can not only help that person but their whole family as well. 

Our conference leader and Nick's professor at Westminster Seminary, Dr. Dennis Johnson quoted a murder mystery book in which the main character tries to get cracked and broken people to admit 1. I'm wrong. 2. I'm sorry. 3. I need help. and 4. I don't know. These are four sentences that are difficult for any person to admit and reveal to someone. This struck a cord with me since I often find myself struggling to discuss things like this when something is not going as planned. Having a friend to confide in can not only help you confront your sins, quite possible save your marriage and family life from ever slipping away from you, but they also can and should constantly lead you to the cross--the only place where we are reminded of our nakedness before God, and our shamelessness through Jesus Christ. It is there where we are forgiven, restored, and renewed.

 Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear one another's burdens."

 Colossians 1:9-10 - "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as walk in a manner worth of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." 


Sunset dinner with friends on the San Clemente Pier.

Sunset dinner with friends on the San Clemente Pier.

View from our hotel room.

View from our hotel room.

The best coffee! We got this on our way up.

Dr. Johnson was the keynote speaker and also gave us free copies of us his new book.

Dr. Johnson was the keynote speaker and also gave us free copies of us his new book.