"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

21 February 2014

A's Birth Story, Meaning of Her Name & More Photos

For those inquiring about her name and how we chose it: "Adelaide" was in our short list of top three girl names before we knew whether B was a boy or a girl, so it wasn't a hard choice to pick it this time around when we learned that she was a girl. As you may remember from when we were choosing B's name, we don't like names that are very common or trendy, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that this won't become one of those suddenly popular ones, either!

We debated between two names for her middle name, but finally went with "Charis" for several reasons, the biggest of which was its meaning. My name means "grace" in Hebrew; Charis is the Greek equivalent. I also liked the fact that both Daddy and B have middle names with the hard "c" sound and had some sentimental thought about how it would be nice for all three of them to share that in common (I don't have a middle name, so officially on paper, my maiden name is my middle name).

On Wednesday afternoon (February 19), my weekly OB appointment resulted in B and I heading over to the hospital for me to be checked in for bed rest and monitoring due to a sudden peak in blood pressure and protein spillage in my urine. B did a great job hanging out with me until N came to catch up on details and take him home for the night while I remained behind at the hospital for monitoring, blood work, and a 24-hour urine test.

As many of you know, yesterday was B's third birthday. Needless to say, I was a bit of an emotional wreck at missing out on all the plans we had made! I was also very glad that we had chosen to have his birthday party last weekend! We decided that N would take B to the zoo as planned while I continued to be monitored at the hospital. This was the longest stretch B and I have ever been apart in his life! 
Unfortunately, although the results of all the tests were not horrible, they did not permit me to be sent home that night either, as we had hoped. We were given the choice to either induce or remain on bed rest at the hospital indefinitely until I went into labor on my own. You all know that indefinite bed rest, especially at the hospital, would drive me bonkers! Since we were only a week and a few days to my official due date, we opted to induce, but to wait until after midnight, so our kiddos would not have to share a birthday.

N brought B by the hospital for a quick visit with me after dinner, during which B told me he had cried for me when he fell down at the zoo. Very rarely does B ever cry for me if he's with Daddy, so it made me tear up a little as he told me his sad little story as he cuddled with me on the bed. The snuggles seemed to help him feel better, though, and he hugged and kissed me goodnight before N took him to spend the night with some dear friends.

Once N returned, we were settled into a L&D room and I was prepped for being induced. Due to my elevated blood pressure, I had been warned of the chance of being put on magnesium (which apparently makes you feel like you have a horrible case of the flu) if it continued to spike. I had a close circle of friends praying for me/us from the beginning of all this, so I specifically asked for prayers to avoid magnesium! I also made the choice to receive an epidural just a few hours after I had been induced in my desire to avoid the magnesium and because I knew my nerves were a bit shot after the emotions of the previous day and having to spend a night at the hospital (which is not a good place to get a solid night's sleep). It worked! My blood pressure stayed steady (although elevated) and my water broke soon thereafter.

Just a mere nine hours after being induced, I was fully dilated, pushed hard three times, and out popped our baby girl! What a merciful blessing that quick and easy delivery was, especially after the emotionally trying day and a half preceding it. We are exceedingly grateful, for supportive friends who covered us in prayer and encouragement, for the gift of wonderful nurses and our terrific OB, and of course, for a healthy baby.

Welcome to our family, sweet girl! You are already thoroughly loved!

06 February 2014

A Genuine Snowy Day in Texas

This morning, before heading off to work, N popped his head back in to let us know that it was genuinely snowing outside. Our born-in-a-NY-snowstorm baby called, "Okay! Don't get wet, Daddy!" in response. He clearly doesn't remember too much about real snow.

Fun in the snow after nap time!

05 February 2014

One Word: A Compassion Post

One of the smaller hats I wear these days is blogging for Compassion. We receive monthly writing assignments to aid in their mission to "release children from poverty." With January came the annual challenge to select One Word that would mark this next year: "Prayerfully choosing one word that embodies the promise of the upcoming year is a discipline we've shared with you for many years. This practice of asking God for His yearly theme in our lives endows us with strength in the tough times. It renews the spirit and imbues us with purpose."

Needless to say, this is no easy task. I've been mulling over this for the past month. It is so hard to pick just One Word to encapsulate a divine promise for the next twelve months of my life, especially when there are so many unknowns up ahead. 

I read through some of the other Compassion bloggers' posts, hoping for some inspiration to hit. One of the writers had selected "Miracle" as her word, with hopes for God's supernatural hand to work in her life this year. And I got to thinking that maybe we miss the miracles in our daily lives because we don't see the way God sees.

Maybe there are hidden miracles in the mundane.

It reminded me of a passage from G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, which was, hands down, one of the best books I read in my undergraduate studies.

"Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE."

If there is anything I've learned and re-learned in my faith journey thus far, and have been reminded vividly over the past month, it is that God is always good. He is always faithful. He always makes a way -- even when the path ahead seems to end abruptly. And more often than not, His answers are much more beautiful and creative than anything I could have imagined, because "even when love says 'no' along the way, it always leads us to a greater 'yes' in the end."

So, as I await the birth of our new little one...

as we wait for answers regarding how to best provide for our family...

as I fight the daily battle between desiring what the world deems valuable (being pampered because I "deserve it", being able to afford the "right school" or "right program" for B, how "date nights" should look, how many vacations we should go on and where, etc.) and yearning for Jesus' heart for those who don't have access to running water, for children who are mutilated by their caregivers so they will garner more pity at the busy intersections where they beg for money, for mamas who feel they have no alternative other than sell their children into slavery, for those who do not yet have the Word of God in their native language...

I will shout, "ENCORE!"

Do it again, Lord! Do all that You've done and more, in my heart and in my life, and in the hearts and lives of all those around the world who call upon Your name.


02 February 2014


Years ago, I was introduced to Amy Shreve's music by an old friend, and over the years, I have been grateful to remember the promise of Psalm 116 in the difficult seasons of life. 

Each of us desires to be heard in the midst of the chaos of life, don't we? Especially in this frantic time of everyone having a voice on social media and when every other person you know is a "blogger," there is something deeply affirming to our souls for someone to look into our eyes and say, "I hear you. I know what you're saying."

I wrote last month about the rough patch we hit in the week post-Christmas. One thing after another went wrong, and honestly, it took a serious toll on our family. Satan takes full advantage of our weakness in those seasons to really up the ante for his devious plans; we ended up in a messy heap of anxiety, loneliness, and feeling like we were on a sad and deserted island with no hope for help or rescue. 

Into the second week of January, I knew I needed a major boost of spiritual support, so I carefully wrote out an email to five of my most trusted friends (two dear college friends and three older women who have been mentors and truth-speakers in my life), asking them to join me in prayer for specific provision from the Lord for various issues and for protection over our family in this suddenly-challenging season. 

I said last month that there is truth to the phrase, "When it rains, it pours." 

Well, in the aftermath of that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, it has continued to pour, but the storm has changed from raining trials to a downpour of blessings. 

The men from our life group came over last weekend and put a significant dent in the yard work we had wanted to get done before the baby arrived. We love having huge trees all over our property, but good heavens, the leaves! Not only were they able to rake and bag up most of the fallen leaves, but they also managed to clear most of the branches that had snapped off and fallen (or were precariously dangling) from the trees in the ice storm we had several weeks ago. They cleaned out our gutters, installed some shelving in our garage so we could have a better system of organization in there, and taped up the nursery so it is ready to be painted.

A couple of the men returned this weekend with a trailer to help N whisk away all those bags of leaves and branches. Our yard looks so much bigger now without the giant heap of branches taking up a third of it! 

We have also been more than abundantly blessed with baby showers for this little girl! In the past month, we have been showered three times with time with friends and special gifts. I've loved having the time to spend with other women. I've loved hearing their advice and funny stories about adjusting to life with more than one child. I've loved how different each shower was, from a gathering in our living room to a color-coordinated, prayerful event at the home of one of my MOMS, to a cozy girls' night out at a local cafe with my life group sisters.

The Lord has supplied us with material needs, too, as He supplied affordable, new-to-us (much-needed) dressers for us and B, several hand-me-downs for both B and the baby, and keeping my hooky fingers quite busy over the past month with orders. 

When I decided that it would be smarter to get my hair cut and donated before the baby arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a discount (on top of a wonderful cut and overall salon experience) from another leader in my MOMS group who came highly recommended by nearly every woman I know here. She also offered to ask her dad if we could borrow his laser level so we wouldn't be spending forever measuring out the stripes I want on the nursery wall. 

One of the girls at my MOMS table let us borrow her electric sander so we could get rid of the weird textured walls (at least in the nursery) that seem to have seen their hey-day in all the homes around here. 

Two other beautiful women from the MOMS leadership team offered to come help me paint the nursery this week. 

Our chiropractor has been a life saver as I've gone to her with various major aches through this pregnancy, particularly in these past couple weeks of lots of bending and lifting. 

And it's even in the tiny things, like a poetry "chain letter" going around FB, giving me a chance to indulge in some of my favorite poets, something I haven't done in years! Or discovering this treasure in the sea of the blogging world to remind me of my homeheartland.

Psalm 116:7 continues:

So even though both N and I have been laid low this past week with some kind of on-going virus and there are still several Big Things on our minds and to-do lists, our hearts are at rest and so.very.thankful. 

Because we know that we are heard.

And we know that we are loved. 

I hope that, today, your day is filled with reminders of how much YOU are loved, too. Because we all need to be reminded once in a while, don't we?