Burp Cloths, Sleepless Nights & Thankful Hearts

With the holidays quickly approaching and a long Saturday with my little family and some dear friends, it is hard for me not to find myself reflective and eager to write out my thoughts this evening.

It’s easy to be reflective during the holiday season for most of us. With many cherished and sometimes painful memories flooding our hearts, we find ourselves thinking of days past as we plan and prepare for the days ahead.  In many ways, I will do that this year just as I have always done.  But unlike the years prior, this year I hold a new memory in my heart.

At just about this time, on this very day last year, my husband was returning from a work trip.  Unbeknownst to him, or to anyone, I was waiting with a very BIG surprise.  In the early evening of November 21st, 2014, I sat, paced, cried, laughed and felt more emotion in the span of 5 minutes than I ever had before. I was alone in our home, two pregnancy tests in my hand, with a total of 4 soft pink lines staring back at me.  I cannot explain the intensity of feeling and thought, swirling together to create a whirlwind in my mind that night.

I was terrified. Overjoyed. Shocked. And I knew that I could not contain this secret from my husband for more than a few hours time.  When he came home, I gave him a card and the wrapped tests.  Seeing his reaction will likely remain one of the greatest memories I have of him in our marriage.  We sat, stunned, together in silence, laughter and tears that night.  We knew our lives were changed forever.  We just never could have understood just how much.

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Tonight we gathered with friends, as we have every year for awhile now, for a “Friendsgiving” feast.  Laughter and song and the pattering of tiny feet were filling the house up and Judson’s eyes grew wide at the sight of blueberry crisp and hymns sung in a cappella.  As I think about those who sat around me and the tapestry of time that has woven all of us together, I can’t help but feel a true, deep thankfulness.  When I consider our children, carefully and wonderfully and wholly created and knit together, I stand in awe of the One who gives and takes life away.

And then, tonight, as the clock continued on and I rocked & sang my sweet baby to sleep, my voice turned to a song that I have probably sung dozens, if not hundreds of times.  It’s lyrics resonated deeply as they always do, but this time, with so many memories of the last year and all it has held for us.  As I considered where Jason and I were one year ago at this very same time, my eyes were wet.

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Stunned.  Amazed. Overjoyed. Thankful.

These words still describe the fullness of our hearts and the thankfulness that puts a lump in my throat in the very best way.

This thankfulness did not come through a Pinterest-picturesque life together. The beauty of our deepest joy and thankfulness often comes from the dark, hard, painful places we have stumbled through, praying to see an end in sight.  The wait and discomfort of nine long months of pregnancy, doctor’s appointments and even a scare or two.  The anguish and groanings of the most intense labor pains.  The dozens of soiled burp cloths piled in the laundry and heaps of dirty diapers and sleepless nights that seem like they might not ever end.  And even several moments of hot tears and frustrations and wondering if life would ever feel “normal” again.

What a blessing that the most beautiful, precious gifts of our lives are birthed (sometimes literally!) out of the greatest of agony and struggle! So much thanks is in order when we stop to consider the sweet joys that come from the moments that once felt so fear-inducing and overwhelming to us.  And my fickle heart is…well…fickle.  Tomorrow I will forget.

I will want to cry over spit up and too-much-laundry and sleeplessness. I will probably get angry over dirty dishes and have a moment or two of self-pity or self-loathing for not being able to do more, be more, etc, etc. But I pray that these little moments…memories and traditions and baby giggles and hymns sung in rocking chairs with tired eyes…will remind me.  And today…today, I will give thanks for burp cloths and sleepless nights and God’s great, great faithfulness.
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The Adding of Increments

Fact: It will take me somewhere between 3 and 20 increments of time to finish this one blog post.  Why? Because I am one month into the crazy, busy, wonderful world of motherhood.

No one ever told me that my new life with this little guy would be measured in increments.  Of course I heard many versions of “Your time will not be your own” but I wasn’t quite prepared for the stop-and-go feeling that comes with caring 24/7 for a little one.  Go to the bathroom.  Change a diaper.  Brush hair.  Soothe a cry.  Turn on stove for breakfast.  Change another diaper. Clean spit-up.  Change baby’s clothes. Change your own clothes. Come back to burnt breakfast.  Throw breakfast away.  Feed baby.  Burp baby.  Change baby.  Let dogs out.  Feed dogs.  Soothe baby back to sleep.  Guess what? It’s noon.  Try starting lunch…

Life is now measured in seconds, minutes…sometimes hours if we are lucky, when it comes to getting things done.  It’s been a hard transition at times, not being able to see things through or finish a task without 18 interruptions.  Today I completed one load of laundry before 3pm and it felt like I had succeeded in climbing Mount Everest.  Needless to say, life is a bit messy these days…quite literally in fact.  Dishes pile up faster than they ever have, food goes bad in the refrigerator before we have a spare moment to eat it, small piles of laundry lay half folded and hung, the rest waiting for another day, and my most common wardrobe accessories are baby wraps and the spit up I frequently wear in my hair or on my shoulder.

Yes, we knew that parenthood would be difficult.  But it is a different kind of difficult than we ever really could understand before his arrival.  It’s a draining kind of difficult that forces you to rely on one another to get through a second, a minute and hour…whatever your increment is at that particular time.  It’s a challenging, growing kind of difficult.  A difficult that makes you stronger, more spontaneous and quite honestly, a truer version of yourself (there is no time to spare to be anyone or anything else).  It’s also a beautiful, world-slowing difficult.  The kind of difficult that gives you endless opportunities to be present, soaking in a coo or a smile or the strengthening hug and encouraging word of a spouse in the midst of a long night of tears and sleeplessness…the kind of difficult that makes time slow down and brings the deepest levels of gratitude for the crazy life you are living.

I am slowly beginning to see (through my bleary, bloodshot eyes) how all of those increments of time spent getting things done are, in reality, the interruptions…while the difficult things I so often view as interruptions, are actually the heartbeat and soul of our becoming parents.

So I’ll take the spit-up stained shirts, sleepless nights, endless cries and dirty diapers.  I’ll take the piles of laundry and sink full of dishes and half-eaten meals.  I’ll take the frustration and the exhaustion and the pain and stress of it all.  And I will do my best to remember in the difficulty that all these increments add up to stretch and grow and challenge and change us and make something truly beautiful.

Nesting, Life Hacks and The Final Countdown

This is not, by nature, a how-to blog by any means.  But from time to time, I find myself in a frenzy of DIY and Pinterest-laiden madness and I wish that it were.  And hey, it is my blog, so who says that from time to time, it can’t be?

As we are in the final few weeks of waiting for our little boy to arrive, our to-do list has slowly dwindled down to next to nothing and I have found myself consumed with thinking, “WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO PLAN, PREPARE AND BUSY MYSELF?!”

And so, these last few weeks, I have answered that looming question by what every “nesting” pregnant woman tends to do…

1. Nursery/baby prep
2. Cleaning like a mad woman
3. Prepping meals, cooking and baking…and eating (obviously).
4. Passing out from discomfort and exhaustion every 35 minutes on the couch, bed or nearest location that is able to hold my increasing weight and is elevated enough that I will not be stuck there for eternity.

I thought I’d take the time to share some fun projects I’ve been into, some nursery photos as it is coming together and a few meal/life hacks I have tried and tested over the course of these weeks of prepping and waiting.  So, here ya go!

Food:

We have an ARMY of support around us in our local friends and family and have already been given the head’s up that we should not go hungry in the first few weeks post-partum.  We are so insanely grateful for this, because who doesn’t want meals they don’t have to cook, particularly when sleep deprived and/or busy being enthralled by a tiny, new creature in the house? With that said, I really love to cook.  And I find some serious validation in making a good meal that I know my hubby and I will both love.  So, I did some research on good meals and meal components for freezer prepping and got to work.  This was the result:

That's 6-8 servings of Cabbage Roll Soup, 4-5 servings of mild Paleo chili, 8-10 servings of quinoa, a dozen mini blueberry muffins and a few large ones, 3 bags of BF oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and several bags of frozen herbs from our local CSA - they are amazing when added to meals and smell heavenly!

That’s 6-8 servings of Cabbage Roll Soup, 4-5 servings of mild Paleo chili, 8-10 servings of quinoa, a dozen mini blueberry muffins and a few large ones, 3 bags of BF oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and several bags of frozen herbs from our local CSA – they are amazing when added to meals and smell heavenly!

Oh and the blueberry muffins deserve their own picture, because…Summer and farmer’s market berries and deliciousness…

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Baby Prep:

On top of making delicious goodies to freeze (and taste test currently), we’ve been doing things here and there to prep for our little’s arrival as well.  Including making a sweet, multi-use nursery space and trying a little DIY baby wipes project as well. Thanks to some time, creativity and shower decor, Judson’s travel/adventure-themed nursery is coming together beautifully and is still seeming to be functional enough for some of our home office needs.  We also tried it out as a spare room when our friend Kaitlin came into town recently (as it holds a pull-out loveseat) and it works perfectly for our place our family of 3 can bunk up in the event that we need or want to host a friend in our bedroom for a night or two.

My favorite things in the room are the small details of missions and travel and culture that are sprinkled through the space.  We also made the mobile ourselves, for under $20, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.  It’s still a work in progress, but it is a sweet space that I know will get lots of use and be filled up with special memories.

IMG_0359 IMG_0360 IMG_0361 IMG_0363 IMG_0365 IMG_0367 IMG_0368 IMG_0370A much smaller project, which could prove to have a big impact on saving us some cold, hard cash, was making DIY wipes.  This could not have been a simpler undertaking and at the urging of a few savvy momma friends and some good blog posts, I decided to give it a whirl.  While we still haven’t baby-tested them, we are really happy with what we can see of the results so far.  They smell A-MAZING and are the perfect level of moisturizing without a greasy residue.  Best of all, we know exactly what is in them!

Our version included 1/2 a roll of paper towels- Bounty, as suggested by basically everyone who makes these regularly + 1TBSP Burts Bees Baby Wash + 1 TBSP of Coconut Oil (our fave is Carrington Farms brand which we order from Amazon every few months) + 1 CP (warm) Water ...mix ingrediants, pour over paper towels that you've placed inside the container, let sit for one hour and remove the cardboard tube.  Viola! You've got yourself some DIY wipes!

Our version included 1/2 a roll of paper towels- Bounty, as suggested by basically everyone who makes these regularly + 1TBSP Burts Bees Baby Wash + 1 TBSP of Coconut Oil (our fave is Carrington Farms brand which we order from Amazon every few months) + 1 CP (warm) Water …mix ingrediants, pour over paper towels that you’ve placed inside the container, let sit for one hour and remove the cardboard tube. Viola! You’ve got yourself some DIY wipes!

All in all, it’s been a very productive time of waiting in anticipation for our son and keeping busy while we are at it.  Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire and encourage others, as many of them have for me.  Feel free to contact me for recipes, hacks, etc if you are looking to try any of this for yourself or your fam.

And now, there isn’t much left but to wait…and possibly eat that bag of cookies that didn’t quite make it to the freezer…

What’s In A Name?

For eight months we have been wondering…wishing…waiting…eagerly longing for the day we would meet our son.  And quickly into those eight months we began to wonder what we would name him.  This has been, quite simply, one of the most difficult decisions I personally have ever made.

Naming a chid has been, for us, an extremely delicate and precious task.  While there are a plethora of names we have liked the sound of along the way, few have seemed worthy of a little life that is already so important to us.  In our early weeks of pregnancy, we often prayed together and with others over our son (and still do) and from those very early days, our prayers have been filled with the hope and desire that he would grow to be a man who loves God, loves people and has a passionate, tender and brave heart for the world around him.

We thought through names of the Bible, names of influential authors, artists, preachers, missionaries and even common names with significant meanings. Over the months, our list remained small and one name continued to bombard our thoughts and our conversations.  We allowed ourselves months upon months to marinate in the name, turning it over in our minds and on our lips until we were the surest of sure that we should name our son…Judson.

Several years ago, just before Jason and I began dating, I made the decision to travel to India for the first time.  Even as a young girl, I can remember being moved by sermons and advertisements and movies and books about travel and adventure and culture and missions.  I regularly wept over stories of the impoverished, the needy, the dying and the lost.  As I grew older, this flame only burned more brightly in my heart.  As I prepared to go to India, a friend encouraged me to read a book that few have heard of…To The Golden Shore.  This book recounted the life and mission of Adoniram Judson, the first American Protestant missionary to travel across the seas to India.  Judson was not always brave or sure, and in fact spent many years running from the idea of being used by God in such an extreme way.  Once he made the commitment to go, he was met with much criticism and question.  His dedication in both his spiritual and personal life was a trademark of his makeup and he spent years of toil and difficulty before seeing the fruit of his labor.

In a letter to his to-be father in law, Judson penned the following, which gives just a small glimpse of his heart, aching to serve with his soon to be wife at any and all costs:

“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world. Whether you can consent to see her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

Though it could be assumed from this that Judson was selfish or inconsiderate of his wife’s safety, this could not have been further from the truth.  He was a man undoubtedly fervent about the Gospel and about risking everything for God’s glory.  But in his wife’s own account, he did not forsake her for a moment in their ministry and life together, as they struggled, rejoiced and grieved in their marriage on the other side of the world, calling him “the kindest, most faithful and affectionate of husbands”.

Judson was, by many, many accounts, a man who trusted and served God, loved people and the world around him with a passionate, tender and brave heart.  As we have re-read and considered his story over many months, we realized more and more that the story of his life is one we hope to tell our son.  We determined to name our son Judson Oliver, as we pray this will inspire and guide him to grow to be brave and (like the symbol of the olive branch) equally peaceful and kind hearted to all those he meets, loves and serves over the years.  Our Judson’s nursery is haphazard at the moment, half-thrown together as we finish last minute touches, but the common theme is of the world, of life and exploration and adventure.  We long for him to see and touch and taste the beauty of many cultures, languages, foods and lands, both at home and abroad.  We ourselves have been so grateful for these experiences and have been shaped by them in a way that has been truly life-altering.

Our expectations are not that our son would be an identical makeup of his namesake, but that the heartbeat of his life would be consumed by the same desire to follow God at any cost and with all the hope and dedication and love his heart can handle. There is so much ahead for our little one and so much we hope for, but we are confident that as Judson said himself, “The future is a bright as the promises of God.”

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And For The Better

I should probably just say upfront that I am exceptionally emotional and introspective today.  It could be raging pregnancy hormones or it could be my newly acquired sleep regimen (read: lack of sleep & waking up every hour) or it could just be the day.  In any event, I have found myself pondering all that is ahead as an almost-family-of-three with this little bundle of person inside me and all that is behind us as a family of two.

With Mother’s Day fast approaching and our little baby boy practicing barrel rolls and karate kicks, I feel overcome with a sense of awe and amazement.  Not only for the life that is inside me, but for the life I have experienced to get to this point.  I am wise enough to know that no one is exempt from hardship and suffering in this life.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has an ache at some point that seems it will never subside.  In my own life, I have had my fair share of difficult seasons, will-it-ever-end nights and closeted demons that I tried my best to hide until I learned the beauty of transparency and “bearing one another’s burdens”.  All this to say, a year ago or two or four or six, my heart longed, often with a sense of hopelessness, for so many things that I have today.  I wondered if I would ever see the things that now, I often take for granted and forget are so dear and so precious to me.

Today marks the anniversary of the day that my husband proposed.  Just one example of these too often forgotten blessings.  We sat in a favorite spot beside a bubbling, busy river and in a few short moments after some fumbling of words (and the ring!) and a moment of silent shock before a tearful yes, our lives were changed forever. And for the better.

The few years that have followed have been full of adventure, travels, trial and error and more slamming doors and painful, sleepless nights than either of us ever anticipated.  And with each “Will you please forgive me? Will you wipe the slate clean?” we would, at times unknowingly, be saying yes and I do all over again.  Striving to be humble and honest and allow others into the mess has never been an easy task in our marriage, but each time we pushed into the discomfort, our lives were changed forever.  And for the better.

Our uninvited marriage guests, Difficulty, Long-Suffering and Pride seemed to begin to fade away, or at least become less frequent visitors, as we found ourselves in a steady rhythm of loving and knowing one another well and seeking the help and counsel of others.  We began to dream about things beyond ourselves more.  About the future.  About family and ministry and missions.  On one night in particular, we laughed at our own nervousness and apprehension about all of this.  “We will probably have to be the couple that never feels ready until it all just happens.” And then one evening, I sat in our bedroom, with tears streaming down my face as I stared in utter disbelief, fear and joy at the pink lines in front of me.  Our lives had been changed forever.  And for the better.

And now I sit looking down at the bumps and rolls coming from inside my stomach and I wonder how in the world I could ever be this fortunate…all while feeling a bittersweet fearfulness of losing an aspect of “us” that has been such a long, beautiful, rocky journey to create over these last few years together.  I am sure I cannot be alone in these thoughts, as I have heard many other first time moms-to-be and dads-to-be say much of the same.  And in a way, it makes this waiting for our son a little sweeter and a little more slow than it might otherwise be.

Each quiet conversation and spontaneous date night or Netflix episode from the couch becomes a moment that I treasure more deeply than I have in years past.  Every activity together and with others has an intentionality behind it that I don’t think we have ever truly experienced before.  Of course there will be dates again post-baby and there will be quiet conversations and spontaneous (though I am sure, more limited) outings together, but I am not naive to think that anything will be the same.  My great hope and prayer has now become that what does stay the same will be that all the crazy, chaotic, ever-changing moments will continue to be moments that capture my heart and my attention as much as they do today, and that this incredible foundation we have laid, often with tired backs and calloused hands and tearful eyes, will serve us well under the weight of all life has yet to bring our way.

Certainly, our lives are about to change forever.  And for the better.

“And we know that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

11 Years

Today marks a special type of anniversary for me that I have posted about many times before. Today marks 11 years since I was diagnosed with Type One, or Juvenile, Diabetes. And in many ways, it is just another day for me. And in some ways, it’s just another “diabeteversary”. But this year is one that carries such a heavy weight and significance for me personally, because unlike all the rest, this year I am pregnant.  Today is an extraordinary average day.

In all the fear and chaos that I remember feeling on the day I was rushed into the hospital after my diagnosis was handed to me, one question loomed in my mind. I was handed brochure after brochure of information and though I didn’t dare speak it out loud, I quietly shuffled through them, my eyes darting across each index and chapter heading of each booklet, looking for an answer. Would I be able to have children?

Knowing nothing of the disease I had suddenly acquired, I had no information other than a few short, vague sentences about how this would impact my ability to start a family one day. Later I learned that, yes, it was possible and no, it wouldn’t look like it does for everyone else (much like the rest of life lived with Diabetes). My fear was mixed with hope as I moved forward into my adult years and I was thankful to have married a man who helped me to study and learn and understand all that we could in order to watch my blood sugars steadily drop further and further into a non-Diabetic range that was safest for planning to have a child. And today, well, here we are. Six months into a mostly textbook pregnancy with one small (HUGE) difference…my dear sidekick who never leaves…Diabetes.

If pregnancy is a long and difficult road for most women (and it is) than pregnancy with Type One Diabetes could probably be described as an all-uphill hike filled with quicksand, scorching heat and an occasional blizzard. Pregnancy with Diabetes means more appointments, more critics, more restrictions, more icky symptoms and much more work. It is not for the faint of heart. And sometimes, my heart is fainter than I would like to admit.

What I have found is that though Diabetes does create the potential for anxiety in every waking moment of pregnancy, it also provides the potential for consistent growth, thankfulness and practice of self-sacrifice and suffering well for the sake of my child. And from what I hear, these qualities are instrumental in the many years to come as a mother.

Each day is filled with an endless balancing act of managing pregnancy symptoms and diabetes and the two do not always play well together. I frequently find myself exhausted from the sheer effort and diligence it takes to safely grow this child and manage my own health. Fluctuating blood sugars and insulin needs and everything going into my body and all the exercise coming out are no longer just my own. Each movement and decision is creating a direct impact onto the very small, but very real person living inside of me, even moreso than the average pregnant woman would experience. And just like the days of pre-pregnancy, I can let these decisions define me and stir up the deep fears and concerns in my weak heart or I can regularly remind myself and be encouraged by others that all I can do is the best that I can do. Too often I forget God’s faithfulness in all of this…the gift of this child, the gift of the health I do have and the great strength and character that is instilled in me as I suffer with discomfort and fear in a way that is hopeful and joy-filled. I am grateful that Diabetes, though often an exhausting and ruthless tyrant, is also a catalyst of growth for me in so many ways.

Having Type One for 11 years has surely taught me all of this in varying degrees, but never has it been so constant as it has since the day I became pregnant and every day thereafter.

And when these days are particularly long and hard and worrisome, there is extra sweetness in the normalcy of this pregnancy that speaks volumes in encouraging and lifting me up. While I may lay my head down at night or crash onto the couch in the middle of the afternoon, feeling defeated and wondering if I have failed, I am often met with the soft thumping rhythm of my son’s kicks…the most poignant and beautiful reminder that no day is too difficult and no suffering is to great for the joy that is ahead. After 11 years with Diabetes, I am still learning, still growing and still struggling, but there is always joy to be found and treasured and hope that gives strength for this life-long journey.

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Recent Happenings

It’s been forever since I have written anything here, but not for lack of material! Life has been busy!

And even now, I am in-between the events of the evenings, with not a lot of time to really write and recap.  But I did want to do a moderately short post on one of the biggest and most exciting happenings that has been keeping our attention.  We’ve moved! And the story of why and how is pretty fantastic.

As many know, we have been working hard to eliminate our debt in order to be viable church-planters/missionaries/ministry-minded folks in whatever God has for us in the upcoming years.  While we were making huge sacrifices, it felt like we were digging a hole to china with a plastic spoon…one tiny shovel at a time.  Jason began feeling discouraged at the thought of working a job outside of a ministry-related position in order to increase our income, but, we made the leap and after months of hard work, applications and interviews, he landed a work-from-home job in the field of homeless outreach.  Around this time, we also put out an ad on Craigslist, looking for DIRT-CHEAP rent in exchange for manual labor on fixer uppers or property caretaking.  And to our surprise, we quickly received several responses.  Most of which were housing options filled with mold, broken glass and weeds growing into the rooms and up the walls.  Visiting these places and truly considering living in them in order to fix them up for the owners was humbling and concerning for both of us, to say the least.  We kept looking…kept praying…kept considering, when we received another response, this time from a friend who joined our church earlier this year.  She invited us to dinner and gave us an incredible offer which consisted of living in her partially finished basement (which we would be able to help her in finishing) in order to speed up our debt elimination and process of meeting future goals.  The location was perfect, the dogs would have a large, fenced yard and we would have more space than we knew what to do with, at an extremely generous rate.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of labor, paint-covered hair, chipped fingernails and sore backs.  We have been helped by so many dear friends who have sacrificed time, energy and resources to help us get in and settled and though it has been a busy time, it has been an incredibly thankful and joy-filled one.  And so today, I want to share some photos of all this hard work and this incredible blessing.  Thanks, Mikael and Maddie, for opening your home to us and giving us such a great gift.  Thanks to our friends and families who have helped us over the last few weeks with prayer, meals, tools and help! Enjoy the pics of the process so far and our new place! 🙂

The living room and kitchen/dining area are shown below.  Jason and I first grinded down all the carpet glue and paint on the concrete floors and then cleaned them.  After finishing this process, Jason was able to paint the floors with an epoxy floor paint.
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Here is some of the kitchen/dining/living room and entry now.
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As you can see, the kitchen will be a work in progress for awhile as we gradually put in cabinets and appliances.

As you can see, the kitchen will be a work in progress for awhile as we gradually put in cabinets and appliances.

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We also have an additional sitting area, which could have been converted into a third bedroom.  For the time being, we chose to make it a library/reading room.  Here are the before and after shots…

before
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Our new bathroom provides TONS of space and after a fresh coat of paint, has oddly become one of my favorite spots in the whole place.

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Our home office was made Jason-approved after we added these awesome standing desks.  The Ikea sofa bed, which was already a resident of the basement, is a great spot for movie watching and will be an easy way to convert this space when we have guests for a night or two.  The before photos show that this room had the walls needing the most TLC – a fresh coat of paint was magical in here!

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Lastly, our bedroom.  The least in need of a makeover, but still turned out lovely! 🙂

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It only took us a night or two of moving in and unpacking and making it our own before Jason looked at me and said, “I think this place looks more ‘us’ than anywhere we have lived before.”  The dogs are loving life and all their new outdoor freedom and we are loving that our sweat equity is paying off so beautifully that it really is beginning to feel like “home”.

Whispers & Words – The Shop!

Over the last few weeks and months, I’ve been quite the busy bee starting up a new venture for myself and my family. If you haven’t already heard, I’ve opened an Etsy shop, fondly named after my blog, Whispers and Words. Whispers and Words is now both a blog and a shop featuring unique, handmade art for home and office décor. I wanted to take a minute and share just what this shop means to me, how the idea was birthed and what it’s all about.

As long as I can recall, I’ve had my fingers in just about anything I could consider a medium. From methodically covering carpets in dirt from my grandparent’s potted plants, to scribbling shaky stick figures to sketches and photographs to poetry and journal after journal of song, prayer and heartache. In recent years, I’ve dabbled in a bit of all of these (though my dirt on the carpet art now has manifested in yearly gardening) and have found myself in love with paint. I discovered through a particularly tough set of years that painting was a way for me to relax, escape and drift into a world of colors and movement. When I began combining that with some of my favorite inspirational songs, quotes and scriptures, I found a new benefit to my art…worship.

All of a sudden, the paintings around my house became deeply meaningful to me. Each one provided a reminder of some blessing or promise God had provided for me and for my family. Some paintings, like a large world map that now hangs in our living room, reminded me to pray for those across the globe that I deeply love and for the world as a whole. These paintings became devotionals, catching my eye while I drank my morning coffee or settled into bed at night’s end.

Soon, our home was full of them. Our friends would visit and remark over a quote or verse or image. A few began to ask if I could make something for their homes. A few more began to encourage me to sell some of my work. And after a great deal of prodding and encouragement from my husband, I decided to take the leap.

My hope is that this art never becomes trivial to me or to my buyers. My hope is that, like in our home, these pieces would speak encouragement, hope and light into the places they reside. And above all, as with everything, I hope that this shop is a reflection of my even greater dream…to honor and glorify God with my heart, my mind, my speech and the work of my hands.

You can learn more about Whispers & Words by visiting http://www.etsy.com/shop/WhispersAndWords
or like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhispersAndWords for regular updates on new listings, giveaways and more!

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Dear Friend With Kids

It has come to my attention that “parents with kids” and their “childless friends” are making waves in the blogosphere this week and attracting all kind of attention with their attempts to make sense of the “what is our friendship becoming” debacle. Sorry for all these quotes.

These articles inspired me to write up my own little addition. I have been navigating the murky waters of being a childless friend to many friends with kids for a few years now and with plenty of time to ponder the subject and a refreshed view this week, I feel like it may be time to spill my guts.

 

Dear Friend with Kids,

There are a few things I really want you to know about me and you and our friendship. I hope that as you read them, you are reassured and encouraged in who you are right now and how much I care for you.

1. We don’t have to do anything.
Babies, toddlers, kiddos, tweens, teens…they all need a great deal of time, commitment, scheduling and energy. They are literally dependent on you for everything. I, on the other hand, am not (even though my feelings may sometimes deceive me into believing that I need you as much as they do). You can say no to my requests to hang out, you can ignore my text for a week until you remember it was there and you can take a hiatus from our relationship until you have your feet back under you. I promise to keep checking in, keep stopping by, keep offering to babysit or bring you a coffee, a meal or a hug. You can’t get rid of me that easy!

2. But I’d really like it if you’d invite me into your chaos.
One of the most rewarding things for me these days is to be there for you by pitching in on all those menial, draining tasks you have in front of you. Dirty diaper? Pass that smelly baby my way! Curdled milk in a sippy cup? My dish washing skills while simultaneously holding my breath are undefeated. Entertain/mediate two bickering siblings while they argue over a board game? You got it. It’s true that this is different than what society says is “fun times with your girlfriends” but I’m not all that interested in what society says. I’d rather clean up mashed peas off your 1 year old’s chubby cheeks so you can breathe for 8 minutes because I really do love you.

3. It makes my heart swell with pride when you greet me at the door in a tattered t-shirt, sweat pants and no make-up.
It’s real, believable and shows me you are comfortable with me. Thank you for being honest.

4. It’s ok to get out every now and then. You are a person, not only a mom.
Let’s take it slow. We can just push the stroller around the neighborhood or drive to the gas station and get a candy bar (or a Red Bull in your case). When dinner needs to be on the stove or the kids need to be picked up from school or the baby needs a nap, we can turn around immediately and head back. I’ll even bring you some sunglasses since it’s been awhile since you’ve seen the light of day.

5. I think you’re one heck of an amazing mom and friend.
I can see it in your eyes on the days you are going crazy. The newborn won’t sleep. The 12 year old is starting to hate you. The potty-training toddler just had an accident for the 8th time this week. You see crumbs and poop and tears and tantrums and a husband coming through the door who needs a wife and a mountain of laundry and a pot boiling over. You look in the mirror and see a tired, weak woman who can’t seem to get anything right. And I see a beautiful, strong woman who is giving everything of herself in a very normal house with very normal people problems who is doing an abnormally incredible job. And somehow, in the midst of all that, you even make time to check in and care for me. And on good days, we might even make eye contact.

So thank you, friends with kids, for letting me in and for being real. Thanks for letting me help and for giving me an example and taste of the season that you’re in. Thanks most of all, for somehow keeping me in the mix, crazy as it might be at times. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Love,

The Childless Friend

“The Diabetes Girl” – A Decade of Diabetes

A decade sounds so much longer than 10 years.  “I’ve had Diabetes for a whole decade…” I said today to my husband, “I feel so old.” Truly, the scared, stubborn 15 year old in that hospital bed that I was 10 years ago seems so very distant in comparison to the woman I am today.  Last night Jason and I talked about some Diabetes-related things and he wondered out loud what it would be like for me to write a book on my experiences, specifically in regards to the radical improvements we’ve made through a change in eating plans over the last year.  I nodded quietly and then added, “We could do that…but I just don’t want to become ‘The Diabetes Girl’ ya’ know?”

I guess in that way, I’m still a lot like that 15 year old girl.  A girl struggling to find instant independence and understanding in learning to give myself multiple, daily injections of insulin and decipher a sea of medical terms that sounded like Greek.  A girl simply trying to convince everyone around her (including herself) that Diabetes wouldn’t be a big deal…that it wouldn’t consume her thoughts and emotions.  A girl terrified of being labeled the victim of a life-long “illness”.  A girl pushing hard into the idea that Diabetes could not and would not define her life or corner her into a stereotype of what could or couldn’t be done.  A girl who desired to be known for many things…Diabetes not reigning chief among them.  Yes, in lots of ways, that 15 year old girl, clawing desperately for a way to find herself apart from her diagnosis, is a lot like me on some days.  I think today might be one of them.

Sure, I want to reflect on a decade with Juvenile Diabetes.  And part of me wants to do something special, like eat a ridiculous amount of ice cream topped with goodies or an indulgent frozen margarita…and maybe I will.  Part of me wants to make this post all about what new (or well seasoned) Type One Diabetics and their families can do to cope or lessen the sting or lower their A1C results. Part of me wants to write narratives of what these 10 years have been like…what has hurt and what has been joyful.  What I want most of all though, is what I have already been given over these last 10 years.

I want to stand with that scared 15 year old girl and say that today (and every day) I am not just “The Diabetes Girl”.  Ten years has not changed the fact that I really am so much more than a day full of finger pricks, high and low blood sugars, careful eating choices, extra doctor appointments and insulin shots.  Each of those things have played a role in defining me, in teaching me the meaning of suffering well, enduring, being patient, being an advocate for myself and others and being steadfast in all circumstances…but none of them encompass all of me and who I’ve been and who I will be or what I have done or will do.

Today I will reflect, wonder, dream, find joy, hope, research, monitor, teach and perhaps indulge more than I would on any other day, but there is so much more to think about than just the day of my diagnosis.  I never was “The Diabetes Girl” and never will be.  That’s worth celebrating.