Monday, December 26, 2011

Reflections on Christmas

There have been many things on my mind this Christmas season. A post about Carter's first Christmas will be coming soon, but I wanted to take a minute to bullet point some of my reflections of experiencing Christmas at ACCH.

-For some of our kids this is one of the hardest times of year. This can be wonderful as we can help make it very special for them. On the other hand this can make it hard because it can mean an increase in frustrating behavior because of the emotions they are dealing with.

-Many, many groups of people want to donate to our children at Christmas. This is a huge blessing!

-My perspective on giving gifts to others in need at Christmas time has very much changed since being here at the Home.

-We did not even give our children everything that was donated. If we had, they may have received upwards of 40+ gifts each. I've learned it gets a little ridiculous. And this is AFTER turning many people away that want to donate.

-It's really hard to teach gratefulness when these kids have not been taught that before AND they get EVERYTHING they could possibly want.

-I've learned that some of the people giving to others at Christmas are actually doing it for themselves not for the ones they are giving to. We had people that wanted to come see the kids on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to sit with them for a while and give them gifts so they would not be alone on Christmas Day. When we explained that they are not alone-they are a part of a family with normal family Christmas plans and activities and therefore they could not come people were truly upset. They did not want to drop off gifts if they could not come on the big day. If we told groups we had more than enough gifts for Christmas would they be interested in coming for a birthday or at Valentine's Day or some other activity they would tell us no-only Christmas. We have more people "interested" in our kids between Dec 1st and 25th than the entire rest of the year combined. To me this has been heartbreaking, and I've had to work on anger regarding this as well. I've also wondered if I ever gave to others during the holidays for my sake more than theirs? Hmmmmm... I pray I never do that again!

-Despite the emotions of the holidays for my kiddos, Christmas still allows them moments to JUST BE KIDS! For just a minute they can forget about adoption processes, visiting parents in jail, wondering if they will ever have a "normal" family, and all the other things going on in their young heads that I don't even know. They were able to JUST BE KIDS! It was wonderful to see!

It's been an emotionally overwhelming holiday in many ways. I'm so thankful we had 3 of our kids with us for Christmas. I pray that in some precious way we have touched their hearts this holiday with the spirit of Jesus!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Long Time No Post

Wow! It is really hard for me to make time to post. When I finally have a moment, I'm too tired to put any coherent words together. So, let me see if I can do a good update without being too long-winded.

Taylor is doing well and getting more involved in many things. He is apart of a men's BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group on Monday nights. It was very important to both of us that he get involved in some type of study, so we decided to make this a priority even though it's on a weeknight when the kids are home. My mom is able to come by and lend me a hand so that he can go and enjoy this time. He has begun leading worship at the church we have been attending. They do a song leading rotation and he's leading a time or two a month. I love that he gets to continue using that gift but also get to sit with him at times too. It's the best of both worlds. On the Sundays he doesn't lead he is usually holding Carter singing tenor into his ear. Carter loves it! Shortly after we got married, Taylor had a short stint as a tenor in a southern gospel group from east Texas. Due to many reasons, it did not work out at that time. Interestingly, it seems that it is going to work for him to sing with them again even though now we are another state and time zone away. The guys are making plans to sing occasionally while we are on relief. They may not get to sing each month, but will try to as much as they can. The group will be able to fly Taylor out for the weekend, sing once or twice, and then he can fly back for the rest of our relief. He is really excited about this possibility! I'm thankful for it as well. He NEEDS this in his life.

I am also involved in a BSF group on Thursday mornings. BSF has an incredible children's program as well, so Carter gets to go with me. He loves it, and his teachers are fabulous. They spend their time with him singing hymns and praying over him. They will also begin teaching him some simple signs. I'm so thankful to be apart of BSF. It's a weekly respite that revives and challenges me. I am hoping to begin spending a couple times a month with another young mom just as a chance for some socializing with another woman at this same stage that I am in.

As far as life here at the home-we are still trucking along. It is definitely THE hardest thing we've ever done. We have days where we aren't sure we will make it through the day, but then something happens that reassures us we are exactly where we need to be. One of the reasons we talked about doing this is the idea that God doesn't call us to do things that are easy. If it wasn't hard we wouldn't need His grace to do it.

Now about my sweet boy! Carter turned 6 months old on Monday. He is growing and changing so fast! He is such a great little boy. Easy going most of the time which is such a blessing considering all of the other craziness going on around us. He is beginning to learn that he can make the other kids laugh, so he's becoming a little ham at times. It's fun to watch. It won't be too long before we have to start telling the kids when not to laugh at him so we can teach him when he can't do something (like continually throwing food on the floor-or something like that). Here's some facts about my boy:
-14 lbs., 13 oz (10th percentile)
-26 1/2 in (50th percentile)
-his head circumference is also in the 50th percentile
-started solid food at 5 months old
-nurses 5 times a day - occasionally throwing in a 6th feeding
-3 of those times he also gets solid food
-Foods we have tried: bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, peaches, pears, brown rice cereal, and green beans. I am making all of his food. He has yet to reject something.
-He usually makes a funny face on his first bite no matter what it is-even if he's had it several times. I don't know if he's just trying to remember which food it is, or what...but after that first bite he gobbles up the rest with no problem.
-Can roll both directions when he wants to
-Sat up by himself for a few seconds on November 27th. He is doing really well staying pretty balanced sitting with the boppy surrounding him.
-LOVES music...he will stop whatever he is doing to listen
-has recently developed a love of cuddling-more so than he ever has before. He is still SUPER wiggly, so you have to be prepared for him to jump out of your lap at any moment. But, he has recently decided he likes to lay his head down and snuggle from time to time.
-He still prefers to be put down to fall to sleep on his own, but he likes to snuggle before then.
-He is weaned from his swaddle-goes down with a cuddle blankie and a blanket on his legs
-Talks and laughs often during the day
-He is developing several different voices including a way to let you know he's frustrated. He will just yell if he's impatient-not cry-just yell. That won't fly for very long.
-We love him more and more every day!!!

Here's some pictures of my sweet little one. Once I get a few videos downloaded to the computer I will post those too.







Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ABCs About Me

I snatched this survey from my friend, Leah. I love these things!

A. Age: 30
B. Bed size: Queen Size - it got crowded when I was pregnant, but other than that it's been just enough room for us.
C. Chore that you hate: Cleaning the bathtub. My hubby is really great at it though so we share the responsibility.
D. Dogs: Rori-4 year old, white, Shih Tzu - she was my big purchase when I was single. Love her!
E. Essential start to your day: HOT TEA with sugar and cream!
F. Favorite color: pink - my mom calls it my signature color
G. Gold or Silver: silver
H. Height: 5'6
I. Instruments you play: piano - took lessons for a total of 5 years growing up. I've lost a lot of it though
J. Job title: Stay at home wife and mom and house mom at Albuquerque Christian Children's Home
K. Kids: Carter - 4 1/2 months old, foster kids: M-17, A-15, K-13, V-12
L. Live: Albuquerque, NM
M. Mother’s name: Karla
N. Nicknames: Never really had any nicknames until I met Taylor. One of the little boys in our wedding couldn't say Kristi-he said Kiki. Even after he could say Kristi, Kiki had stuck. Taylor adopted it as well and still uses it.
O. Overnight hospital stays: After C-section with Carter - 4 nights
P. Pet peeves: Others in a conversation with me putting words in my mouth
Q. Quote from a movie: Inconceivable!
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: Sister - Kara, Brothers-in-law - Jordan and Kevin, soon to be sister-in-law - Kim
T. Truth or Dare: Truth. I'm not a big enough risk-taker for dares.
U. Ultimate Vacation: I have no idea, actually...hmmmmm
V. Vegetable you hate: Asparagus
W. What makes you run late: I hate running late--I usually go out of my way to be ready on time. Currently though, I run late when Carter takes 45 minutes to nurse because he wants to talk to me instead of his normal 20-so I haven't left enough time.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: arm-age 10, knee-age 11, stomach-age 25
Y. Yummy food that you make: Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes
Z. Zoo animal: Favorite one? Monkey

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Four Months Old

My sweet little boy turned 4 months old last week. I cannot believe it's already been 4 months. When I go back and look at pictures from the beginning, I'm amazed at how much he's changed. We went to the doctor on Friday. He is a very healthy little boy! He's doing so well nursing and growing as he should be, that we are not going to start him on solid food until 6 months. The pediatrician assured me that he is getting everything he needs in my milk, and that there are studies showing a couple negative possibilities to starting solid food before 6 months-namely increase in allergies and increase in childhood obesity. This isn't true for all children, of course, but since Carter is doing perfectly fine with only nursing then we aren't going to rush that transition.

My biggest concern I asked the pedi about is his head. From the beginning Carter's head has been slightly flatter on the right side than left. We've tried a few things to help with this, but we were still concerned about it. The dr wants to wait until 6 months to see what changes, and then we'll determine if we need to visit a neurosurgeon (not for surgery, but most likely for a helmet). In the meantime we will be spending even more time putting Carter in the Bumbo and on his tummy to see if that will help. Not that a helmet will be the end of the world, but we'd love to avoid that if possible.

Here's a look at Carter at 4 months:
-Weight: 12 lbs. 7 oz - 10th percentile
-Length: 24 3/4 in - 50th percentile
-Head circumference: 16 1/4 cm - 25th percentile
-can roll from his belly to his back if he wants to...He's done it several times, but doesn't do it every time he's on his belly.
-has rolled once from his back to belly-no one saw it. :)
-talks and talks and talks and talks. When he's older we will have to have serious conversations about what it means to use an inside voice.
-Is just beginning to use his tongue when he's talking so that his coos are turning more into babbles and "syllables"
-has the most adorable giggle. However-he's like his mama and after just a couple minutes of hard laughing he ends up with a terrible case of the hiccups.
-he LOVES to listen to music-especially Southern Gospel. This is about the only time he is still. He is so intent in listening that we actually cannot even play music when he's going to sleep. He won't go to sleep. He pays too close attention to go to sleep-I think he has his daddy's very sophisticated musical ear.
-He's wearing most 3 month size clothes and several 3-6 months. He always grows out of clothes in length before width. I put him in a t-shirt and pants the other day instead of a onesie and his pants wouldn't stay up. :) They only stay up if he has a onesie on. This is just the beginning of saggy pants for us, I believe.
-He is transitioning from napping between every feeding to a long morning nap, long afternoon nap, and short evening cat-nap. Not every day works this way, but most do.
-Usually goes to bed 8-8:30, but still needs a feeding around 10. He goes right back down after that. He goes anywhere from 6-9 hours after the 10:00 feeding and usually goes right back down after that first feeding of the day. Basically he's sleeping from about 8-8:30pm until 8-9am with a 10 pm feeding and a feeding anywhere between 4 and 7 am. He's a great sleeper!!! I tend to think he won't drop the 10:00 feeding until we add solid food. I'm not worried about that.
-He's beginning to show signs of teething. Lots of drooling...random fussiness for reasons we can't figure out...acting like he doesn't feel good...chewing on his fingers...and a few low grade fevers. No swollen gums yet, but the beginning of this phase has begun.

He is a wonderful baby! He brings us more joy than we could ever have imagined. We are so thankful for him and so content with our family for right now. Becoming parents has been such an amazing adventure!!!

Here's some pictures from the last week since Carter turned 4 months! Taylor took a couple pictures of me and Carter on his phone the other day, but I didn't have those available. I'll have to post them later. Enjoy!









Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Compassion Fatigue and Pinterest

I know...weird title, huh? I promise the two are related.

A month or so ago, I finally asked the Facebook world what this "Pinterest" thing was. A friend of mine filled me in, invited me to join, and into the Pinterest world I entered. Sort of. I thought the premise was really neat, but I wasn't sure how to use it. I kept putting off figuring it out.

This past weekend I was a little under the weather; so while Carter was sleeping and everyone else was at church, I laid in bed and jumped into my Pinterest page. WOW!!! I became hugely addicted. So many ideas! And, my Pinterest boards didn't have to be like anyone elses, so I could organize, create, pin, etc. in my own personal way. I L.O.V.E. that you can pin anything you see on the Internet, but also "steal" anyone else's pins for your own boards. It opened up a whole new world to me.

Pause the Pinterest story.

Part of our experience as houseparents is something called "compassion fatigue." It's a unique type of fatigue that comes from taking on the emotional stresses of our kids and their backgrounds, diagnoses, etc. If not handled well, then compassion fatigue can lead to serious burn out.

To combat compassion fatigue it is important to, of course, take care of yourself - exercise, eat right, get lots of rest, etc. It's important to find and maintain healthy adult relationships. Also-finding a creative outlet will help combat compassion fatigue!

Now to connect the two subjects: Pinterest has become my creative outlet! It is giving me something to think about, to be "outside the box" with, and to distract myself and my emotions with for a period of time. There are also several things I've found that would be fun to do with the kids- being my creative outlet as well as good quality time together. This may possibly even by therapeutic for the kids. It is a blast!!!

I decided to try to do at least 1 project a week. This may vary due to what is on our schedule or how simple/complicated the project is. Plus, some of what I've found is new recipes, so I may try more than one in a week!!

This week I tried two things. I found several printables of different types of weekly to-do lists. The way I have to maintain things around here has been a challenge for my normal type of list-making, so I am trying several different versions to see if something works best.

My second project this week was a fall decor project for our cottage. There may be another one or two more of these in the next couple of weeks, but this is where I started. Here's some pictures of the final product!!









What fall projects do you have planned?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Update and Memory Verse 18

Hi all!!! Another week has gone by since I last posted. Since coming back from relief, Taylor and I feel that things have gone much more smoothly with the kids. I don't know if the kids can tell a difference at all, but we definitely can! It's beginning to feel more like home to us, and a comfortable, family rapport and environment is really taking shape. We are so thankful for that!!! Almost every day we are met with something from these kids or about their lives that is hard to wrap our minds around and deal with. But knowing we have created and are creating an environment that is safe and comfortable helps us see and feel our purpose at the Home. Here's a brief look at regular-life stuff we've done this week:

1. Math homework - last Sunday night while M was at work, Taylor and I divided up between the other two to help with math homework. Taylor worked with V on long division, and I worked with A on geometry. It was a mentally draining night for all of us. :)
2. Grilling lessons - Taylor has grilled out twice this past week and used this as an opportunity to teach V how to grill. What a great man-bonding activity!
3. Youth group activities - Sunday night devo and games and Friday night late night movie. Oh, those were the days!
4. Doctors appointments - We are getting great experience in checking kids out of school, taking them to the doctor, and getting them back to school in a timely manner. Makes for busy days!
5. Chores - what kind of family environment would it be if everyone didn't have daily/weekly chores? Our kids are great with their chores most of the time. They rarely need any reminders, and do a good job of getting them done correctly the first time.
6. Post-chore/homework chill out time with the Wii or Rock Band - of course! (P.S. - I hate rock band. The noise drives me bonkers. Oh well. :) )

Moving on - I'm late on my next Memory Verse. I was supposed to post it on Thursday. Oh well...better late than never. I am starting a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) study this week. The verse I chose for the next two weeks is listed on the BSF website. I thought it was very appropriate and a great way to start off this next several months of study! Here it is:

Romans 15:4 NLT

"Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled."

And just because I think he's cute:



Have a great week everyone!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sweet Relief

In 4 hours, our foster children will once again enter our home and the craziness will begin again. That's not a bad thing at all. We are ready to see them, to catch up on how their weeks were, and to continue to love them as Jesus does. However, we have learned in the world of foster care, "relief" is called that for a reason! About once a month we get a week off. The kids move next door to the relief houseparents home, and we get a week of "relief." Considering this is a 24/7 job that also comes with huge amounts of compassion fatigue due to the different struggles/backgrounds of the kids, a week off a month is VERY necessary. Relief allows us to recharge, refocus, rest, spend some quality Belt family time, and engage in extra stress-relieving activities. Today marks the end of our first week of relief. Here's a snapshot of what our week looked like.

* We spent a couple nights at my parents house just to get off campus and away. It was nice to let mom cook and take a break from cooking for a little bit. I spent some time on Sunday morning reading my Bible and journaling on their back porch in beautiful weather looking at the mountains (ACCH is down in the valley by the river, and we actually can't see the mountains from where we are).
* Last Friday after we moved the kids next door, we went some friends' house for dinner. It was so nice to do something like that and have some adult time. It was a very uplifting evening for us.
* Sunday night, Taylor had planned for us to get away for a night as a belated mother's day and birthday gift for me. We left Carter with my parents and spend 24 glorious hours away-just the two of us! We went out to dinner at Standard Diner (featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives!) and stayed at the Hotel Andaluz in downtown ABQ. We slept in, had breakfast in bed, then did a little shopping before heading back to mom and dads'. We were so ready to see Carter when we got back, but we had a wonderful time! Carter did great on his first night without us. He was a little extra cuddly after we got back, but he wasn't upset while we were gone!
*We watched a few movies. Two old timers (Shenandoah and Friendly Persuasion) and a new one (Inception)! Inception blew our minds away. We loved it though.
*I spent a lot of time reading. I'm working my way through One Thousand Gifts right now. I really like, but have to take it slow cause it's so thought provoking. I'm beginning to be tired of it though, and ready to move on to something else. I also read through a few Real Simple magazines from my mom's stash. I'm quickly falling in love with this publication!!! I think I'm going to put a subscription to it on my Christmas list!
* Taylor and I were able to sit down and visit about what is working in our house and what isn't working. We talked about this in light of our foster kids, as Carter's parents, in our marriage, etc. Just really analyzed how this change in our life is affecting everything. It was SO nice to have time to talk through that and to know what is going really well and what we need to work on - individually and as a couple.
* We had Carter's 3 month portraits taken at JCPenney! He did SO great! They are just precious!!! I'll see if I can get some up on the Internet sometime soon.
* We went for a couple walks enjoying this amazing ABQ weather and trying to make an effort to get back into shape. We are hoping to start making a habit out of heading to the park to walk right after we have put everyone on the school bus.
* I was able to use birthday money to update my wardrobe which was wonderful!!! I felt like I was wearing the same 3 things over and over again cause that's all I had that either fit or flattered my post-baby figure. Now I feel like I have many more options.
* Oh, and of course, we slept in and took naps!

And, that's a quick glance at our week. It was a great week. We are ready to get our kids back and resume foster parenting. We did have one disappointing thing happen while we were gone. One of our kids (our 9 year old) decided to go back home. We weren't even able to say bye. We can now simply pray for him and that, Lord willing, we planted some seeds in his life. Because of this, the dynamics in our home will change slightly. We will see what it will be like.

As always, I'm so thankful to any and all of you that are praying for us. To say this job is hard is an understatement, but we know without a doubt that this is where we are supposed to be. Please continue to pray for us and our children. We really can feel your support and prayers!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-3 months old



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Memory Verse 17

Hebrews 4:16 from the New Living Translation

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thought Provoking Day

It has been a very good day. In the midst of a fun day, my mind has been spinning on some events of the last couple of days. I knew when we took this position that God would be using this to make me more like Christ. The last couple of days I have been remembering the way Jesus interacted with people in the Bible and have been reminding myself to emulate him. So, please permit me to sort through my thoughts in text. I'm not sure if it will flow well or make much sense, but I wanted to share this with you.

One of the boys in our house turned 12 today. His mother had to call us to ask permission to take him to lunch. I can't imagine having to ask someone else permission to spend time with my child. It's weird being in a position where Taylor and I have the ability to tell a parent no if we feel that is best for any reason. We did not need to do that today in this situation, but it is humbling to be in that position.

This morning to wake him up we went into his room and sang Happy Birthday to him. We hung streamers from his bedroom door and wrapped his chair at the table in streamers. He was SO excited. By just a few streamers. That really put in perspective for me how materialistic society has become-I was worried a few streamers wouldn't be good enough of a celebration. I was terribly wrong. After breakfast this morning, I made his cake from a mix. He walked into the kitchen while I was doing it. He asked if I was making breakfast for tomorrow morning. It was heart breaking to me that this 12 year old has had so few birthdays celebrated (if any) that he couldn't guess that I was making a cake for him.

Later on tonight I found myself wrestling with a little anger and the feelings of not knowing how to handle a situation. We had invited his mother over for dinner. He had asked us to make steaks (after days and days of telling me he'd eat anything I wanted to make I finally got him to tell me he'd love steaks), and so we invited her to join us to help him celebrate. I'm not sure she has ever celebrated a birthday with him. I was nervous. I was nervous about whether or not the evening would be awkward...if we'd have anything to talk about. And I was fighting the urge to be angry with this woman who has treated him so poorly yet is now working to repair that relationship. There is a part of me that wants to tell her she's not allowed to. She's hurt him too many times that she doesn't get any more chances. He is deeply hurt because of her. In fact, I am not even describing my anger correctly because I can't divulge anything else about his situation.

BUT-as all of this was running through my mind the thought that joined all this was, "She is exactly the type of person Jesus would spend time with." Tonight we invited a broken woman who has done a multitude of wrongs to all of her children to sit at our table and enjoy a normal birthday meal with us and her son. We talked together. We laughed together. We celebrated her son's life together. In fact, we wouldn't be blessed with his sweet self in our house if she hadn't had him in the first place. Often times the way God works things together towards His will doesn't always make sense to me. This boy is a huge blessing to me. I'm learning much from being his foster mother. But, I would not have had this opportunity with him if his mother had not really messed up and had to put him here.

I came face to face tonight with the reality that God sent us here to minister to the parents as much as the children. I think some part of me ignored that part. I was coming to show Jesus to these children that have endured more in 5-17 years than I can even imagine in my 30 years. But, in truth, their parents need to see Jesus from us as well. Many of our children are placed here by their parents not by the state so we have regular contact with them. It is VERY difficult to sort through my feelings in order to allow my heart to be touched for the parents as much as for the children. And tonight God gave us an opportunity to sit and just be Jesus to our 12 year old's mom. Jesus ate with those that others would not so that he could build a relationship with them. Tonight we added another layer to our new relationship with his mom. I'm still scared for him...about what happens if she doesn't continue putting forth the effort to be a mom that she has just recently began exhibiting. But, that's not for me to control. My Father above is working all of that out. He has placed this child into our home to love and minister to as he tries to just be 12 and let go of his rough past. He is allowing us to have a relationship with this woman who is as much His daughter as I am. Who am I to spend time in fear when He can use me in these lives right now.

At the end of the day, our brand new 12 year old declared this to be "the best birthday he's ever had." Knowing what I know, I think that was the truth. It was simple and effortless, but the fact that his birthday was remembered and celebrated at all made it the best ever.

I'm thankful that he is now resting in his bed peacefully feeling as important as the Lord created Him to be. I'm thankful that the Lord opened my eyes tonight to how He is working and using us in this home, in these children's lives, and in the lives of their parents. I pray that my eyes continue to be opened to how I can grow more like Christ every day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday









Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So I Don't Forget

While in the shower this morning I was thinking about some of the things I've observed/learned since the boys moved in on Saturday. I wanted to write some of it down so that I don't forget and thought I'd share it with you at the same time.

1. Boys eat - A LOT! I knew this, but watching it in action with my own cooking is quite something.
2. Children who have experienced hunger at some point in their life will thank you for ANYTHING you put on their plate-often times before they even eat it, then again while eating it, and then again at the end. Even if it's been years since they went hungry.
3. 17 year old boys will still laugh at things you do to make 9 year old boys laugh, but they don't want to admit that they also think it's funny.
4. Boys think baby monitors are really cool, but are bummed out that you can't make noise back in them the opposite direction like you can a walkie talkie.
5. Having two washers and dryers is a life saver!
6. Sitting down to eat dinner together can be one of the most fun parts of the day.
7. These children in my house have an instinct ability to be safe and gentle around our baby. They also make sure I know EVERY time Carter cries. :)
8. When the dishwasher is out, and you are cooking for 5 the dishes quickly take over the kitchen in a way that can be very scary. ;) This leads to the feeling of spending ALL day in the kitchen washing dishes.
9. 11 year old boys sometimes find nothing more fun than going to help out the handy man on campus.
10. Rori LOVES have little boys to play catch with and to cuddle up with on the couch at night.
11. Sometimes it's okay to have a good cry as I adjust to our new life. I've had a few of these (usually while sitting quietly nursing Carter), but am realizing that it really helps me release the emotional and physical exhaustion of this transition. Afterwards, I can come back out to the rest of the family, focus on the kids, and know that tomorrow is another day one step closer to a good routine.

And, this is just the beginning!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Memory Verse 16

Yes, I missed memory verse 15. Somehow I managed to stay on top of my memory verses through Carter's birth, but not through moving to Albuquerque. Oh well...back on track now.

The day before we left Dallas, some sweet friends came over to say bye. They brought a gift for Carter and in it they included a book called Promises from God for Parents. It's a great collection of verses that are grouped by different categories. It's a wonderful resource to grab if I want to look at several verses surrounding one subject. The other day I was reading through the section on Commitment and this verse was listed. It is very appropriate for where I am right now. I am experiencing wide ranges of emotions as we settle into our new home and new life. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Lord orchestrated for us to be here, and I am so thankful for this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. But in moments of exhaustion while feeling unsettled I have found myself questioning if we made the right decision. This is simply a question born out of emotions (and probably hormones). My mind and heart know this is where we need to be. I'm finding myself clinging to the Lord more strongly than I perhaps ever have. With all that said, my verse for the next two weeks is from Galatians.

Galatians 6:9 NLT

"Don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Carter Ashton is Two Months Old!

I can't believe how fast time flies. My little boy is two months old already!!! He is growing so fast and is such a good boy! Here's some information about what he is doing at 2 months old:

-weighs 10 lbs. 6 oz (50%ile) - gained 1 lb, 6oz since 1 month visit
-23 1/4 inches long (60-65%ile) - grew 1 inch since 1 month visit
-head circumference is in 25%ile
-He eats 6-7 times a day. I nurse him for 5-6 of those feedings, and Taylor gives him a pumped bottle for his late night feeding.
-He is a very efficient nurser-eating in about 15 minutes. Occasionally he wants a break in the middle, but we are typically completely done feeding in 15-20 minutes.
-He typically sleeps 7-8 hours at night starting after his 10-10:30 feeding. He's been doing this since 6 weeks old!
-After he eats in the morning between 5:30 and 6:30 he goes back down for another 2-3 hours letting us sleep some more as well!
-He is really good at putting himself to sleep for most of his daytime naps. When he gets sleepy I swaddle him, give him his paci, and maybe rock for a couple minutes. Once he is calm and laid down he does the rest on his own.
-His late afternoon/evening naps he prefers to cuddle to sleep and this is his fussy time anyway.
-He is very smiley now. He has even started smiling at people that talk to him that he has never seen before.
-He is finding his voice. His coos and gurgles are becoming stronger and more frequent.
-He has started rolling over to his sides. He favors his right but has rolled to both. I think he'll be rolling over to his belly in the near future.
-He is a fun combination of a snuggler but also liking his own space. If he has been held too long (like on Sundays at church), he can be made happy by simply finding a place to lay him down and let him kick and squirm.
-After we have been out and around he really likes to be laid in his bed to kick and talk to the bears on his mobile. I think this is how he detoxes from the stimulation of extra people and new environments.
-He has a new play gym that he LOVES to lay on. One of the toys on it has a mirror, and he really likes to talk to himself. We have heard the beginnings of giggles when he talks to himself in the mirror, but that's the only time he does it right now.
-He loves to take a bath. I'm really looking forward to being able to put him in his bath chair in a regular tub once we move instead of using the sink.
-He is a big time wiggler and squirmer (has been since months before he was born).
-When I was pregnant, Carter would go still when there was music playing (or me or Taylor singing). He would kick when it would stop. We see that in person now as well. He gets pretty calm and still when there is music playing and you can tell he's listening. I often wonder if he has his daddy's musical ear that analyzes the sounds.

We love him more every day. We can't get over what an amazing thing it is to be parents and to watch our sweet child grow and change. We work hard every day to absorb each moment since he changes so incredibly quickly. This next month will be full of change for all of us, and I can't wait to see what God has in store.


May 28, 2011


June 23, 2011


June 24, 2011


June 27, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

20 Things I Have Learned in My Short Time as a Mom

1. There is nothing more precious than your child smiling at you!
2. Catching spit up in your hand is an art.
3. The sound my little guy makes when we clean out his nose is one of the most heart-wrenching things I've ever heard.
4. Being "trapped" in stillness while nursing is a great time to pray, practice my memory verses (even saying them out loud over Carter), and talk to my boy.
5. The things that used to distract me while I would try to be productive are suddenly not distracting anymore when I know I have to make the most of the time he is asleep! If I'm very efficient I can cram a lot into that time between feedings!
6. I can get myself ready faster than I thought I could!
7. There is something so very sweet about a baby after a bath-a different kind of contentment.
8. Ceiling fans are pure entertainment!
9. Watching and laughing at the silly faces and funny sounds Carter makes is nothing but pure joy.
10. Sleeping through the night a wonderful thing.
11. Each separate grandparent thinks that everything Carter does is for them personally--SO funny!
12. Grandparents fight amongst themselves as to who gets more time with him-NOT Taylor's parents versus my parents BUT Mama K vs. Papa (my parents) and Bibi vs. Pops (Taylor's parents). HA!
13. Taylor and I have lost all priority in our parents' eyes. They call to ask only about Carter and want to see him before saying hi to us. :)
14. The washer and dryer eat little bitty baby socks-there is just no other explanation!
15. Grandmothers are good for putting the baby to sleep. Grandfathers are good for listening to stories.
16. I treasure the time that I get to sit through a church service, and will very much treasure the time when Carter is ready for the nursery. But I believe my time spent out of the service with him is just as much worship to God as the time spent in service!
17. I've always been a slave to my to-do list. That's the Martha side of me. This part of me can be negative when I let things that are more important (people, etc.) go to the side just so I can finish my to-do list. I believe having a list is a good thing. It keeps me on target and keeps me from getting distracted. BUT-as a mom I've realized that the top of my to-do list is always Carter! If I have to put laundry, cleaning, etc. to the side because he needs to cuddle or wants to play longer than I thought he would or decides to eat a little earlier then I am honoring the Lord! Mommyhood is teaching me to be more like Mary.
18. Mommyhood is also teaching me to be more like Mary in our marriage. The to-do list has to go to the wayside for that as well. Our time alone (and awake) is limited and precious-and will be even more so once we move.
19. Watching my husband becoming a dad makes me love him more every day in a way I didn't realize was possible.
20. As I was told before Carter was born, it is so true that now my "heart is 'walking' around outside of my body."

Wordless Wednesday



Saturday, July 16, 2011

Memory Verse 14

I was reading in Colossians this week, and this verse stuck out to me. I think it hits home as something good to lay on my heart as we enter this journey as house parents!

Colossian 3:12 New Living Translation

"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday



Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday on Thursday



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

WE'RE MOVING!

In my previous post, I said I would explain later why I chose Psalm 32:8 as my memory verse for the next two weeks. Well, as you read the following I think it will become clear.

Taylor, Carter, and I are embarking on a God-directed adventure as a young family. On August 1st, we will be leaving the DFW metroplex and moving to Albuquerque, NM. We have accepted a position as house parents at the Albuquerque Christian Children's Home!!! We are incredibly excited (as well as nervous) about this amazing opportunity!!!

Right before Carter was born we learned about this position. My mom is on the board for ACCH, and she mentioned that they were looking for house parents. She wanted to toss it out there believing we had the gifts to do this job. We completely blew it off. However, the idea kept plaguing both of us individually. The Lord has a way of keeping something on your heart and mind when He has a better plan than you. We began having long conversations about it. We asked lots and lots of questions. We found out all kinds of details from my mom; we called ACCH and asked one of the directors several questions in multiple different conversations. Finally we decided that we needed to pursue this. We could not stop thinking of this as an incredible missional opportunity to authentically, daily be the hands and feet of Jesus to these kids. My cousin and his wife are in the process of adopting a sweet boy from Ethiopia, and they have consistently talked about how taking care of orphans is in direct obedience to the gospel of Christ. Taylor and I have been very touched and convicted by this idea as well. This position at ACCH offers us this opportunity.

So, because I am still on restrictions due to my C-section recovery we were able to schedule a couple interviews via skype! (Isn't technology wonderful sometimes?!?!) Within a couple weeks, we had gone through the entire process and been asked to join them at the home. We excitedly accepted. School starts mid-August, so our goal is to get there, move in, go through a little training, and move the kids into our house before school starts. It's going to be a wild August, but we cannot wait!!

Here's a little about what we will be doing. The Home has 3 houses on property-2 that house children full-time, and 1 that the kids move over to a week at a time while their house parents are on relief. Each house is equipped to hold 8 children-your personal children count as part of that total. So, we will be equipped to hold 7 other kids in addition to Carter. As of right now, we will have 3 boys-ages 9, 11, and 17. That can, of course, change at any given time. We will also not necessarily always have boys-that's just how it is at this time. As you probably know, I cannot give their names nor any details about them as I learn them. We don't have many details yet about each of their situations. We do know that the kids at the Home are very much in need. Most of them are not orphans in the sense that their parent(s) are not deceased. Many have been abandoned or severely neglected. The more we learn, the more we prepare and pray for these kids, the more our hearts begin to break for them-and we cannot wait to get there and share Christ's love with them.

This will be the only job either of us holds while house parents. ACCH is only licensed to take school-age children, so during the day Taylor, Carter, and I will have time just the 3 of us. We will also have a week off a month to rest, refresh ourselves, and spend time as a family and a couple. Many people have expressed concern over us deciding to do this with an infant. Believe me-this was a HUGE part of our conversations before considering this position. In many ways we will have to view daily life like Carter already had older siblings. He will just go along with us to whatever we are needing to do with the other boys just like he would if he had older biological siblings. I admit that if Taylor had to have another job that would leave me at home caring for Carter and up to 7 more kids at the same time we would probably not have been able to do this right now. We will very much be working as a team in this endeavor-and that part is so exciting to us. We can also not get away from the fact, that immediately in his young life, we will be living out in front of Carter what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Isn't that our most important job as parents anyway? There is no time like the present to start including Carter in and teaching him about what it means to be like Christ!

This decision does not come without fears or feelings of being overwhelmed at times. But, again and again in our conversations Taylor and I kept coming back to the fact that God does not call us to stay comfortable. No where in the Bible does He demonstrate that His followers can just stay where they are comfortable. He asks individuals in the Bible over and over again to follow him, instructing them to not be afraid...He will not leave us. He wants us to trust him as we do something that scares us a little (or a lot) knowing that He is the Author and Perfecter of Life! He will guide us, keep us safe, and use us to His glory-as long as we are willing to step out there and let Him!

With that being said: here we go!

Psalm 32:8
"I will instruct you and show you where to go;
with My eye on you, I will give counsel."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Memory Verse 13

Love this verse! Will give more details about why I chose it later.

Psalm 32:8 Holman Christian Standard Bible

"I will instruct you and show you the way to go;
with My eye on you, I will give counsel."

Monday, June 27, 2011

One Month Check Up

Carter had a one month well visit today. He is in great shape! The doctor said he looks great, has grown more than they usually ask for in a month-but not too much. I've noticed a few things that made me ask about reflux. Dr. Raine said he may be experiencing a little, but not enough to put him on medication at this time. I'm fine with that. The only "issue" he mentioned was to get him to lay on his left side a little more. Carter naturally rolls over onto his right side when you lay him on his back. His head is flattening out a little bit on the right side. Not enough to be concerned yet, but he wants us to force him some on his left so that we can avoid needing a helmet. All in all we have a very healthy, happy little boy. Here's his stats and a few pictures!!!

Weight: 9lbs even, 50th percentile (up from 7lbs, 5 oz at 5 days old)
Length: 22 1/4 in, 75th percentile (up from 20 in. at birth and 5 days old)
Head: 50th percentile

Ready for the Ranger Game-check out his cute socks!


Hanging out with Dad


Cuddling with Uncle Jordan


After Bath Time

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Memory Verse 12

Here's what I'm working on for the next couple of weeks. Proverbs 16:3 from the New Living Translation:

"Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Learning Curve

As a new parent there is a big learning curve. If you are a parent you know that. The learning curve encompasses many different areas of life. One of the most important learning curves is learning to understand and interpret the child. Here's some things I believe I have learned about Carter:

-He is really good at sleeping in his crib. He doesn't spend every nap in his crib, but many of them. And almost each sleep time at night.
-He typically eats every 2 1/2 to 3 hours and has from the beginning.
-He appears to thrive on a schedule.
-He likes some alone time already. Usually a couple of times a day we can put him in his crib, and he will lay awake looking around-often putting himself to sleep before it's all over.
-He likes his paci if he's sleepy but not usually any other time.
-He LOVES to listen to music! That's not really surprising though, is it?
-He loves to be sung too.
-He cannot concentrate on eating if he fills his diaper in the process. We must fix that issue before he can continue.
-He likes to be swaddled, but his arms need to be out.

I'm learning more and more every day. The last couple of days we've had some minor nursing set backs, so I'm working to figure out what I can do to help with that. He's a sweet, sweet boy; and we love him to pieces!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Birth of Our Son

Saturday, May 28th started out calm and peaceful in our house. Taylor was beginning to think he was fighting a sinus infection, so he ran to Care Now that morning to plead for some medicine so that he wouldn't have to wear a mask in the delivery room whenever Carter arrived. He came home and was getting settled back in when at 10:30 my water broke. So, we put our "last minute packing plan" into motion and were out the door in half an hour. My contractions had not started yet, so the 45 minute drive that Taylor had been really worried about was quite calm as both of us made phone calls to all kinds of people passing on our news.

By 11:45 I was in a room beginning the process of getting admitted and hooked up to everything. They gave me until 1:00 to get into a good contraction pattern before putting me on pitocin. It didn't happen. Onto pitocin I went. By 2:30 I was ready for an epidural. That was the best decision I made all day. :) To make a long story short the next 8 hours were a combination of trying to find a the perfect pitocin level to keep me on that didn't send Carter into distress. We went through 3 episodes with his heart rate dropping too low which resulted in much work and effort from me and my nurses to get him back where he needed to be. Each time that happened they ended up stopping my labor with a medication and then would have to restart with pitocin. Consequently, by 10:00 that night I was only 5 cm dilated. I have to stop and say at this point that this whole 8 hour experience was not traumatic on me at all. My nurses were incredible. They were so calm every time this happened even though they were extremely focused and efficient in working to keep Carter safe. Taylor was so helpful and encouraging, and because I had the epidural I wasn't in any pain through any of it. I was able to focus on the nurses instructions and collaborate with them to help Carter without having to breath through painful contractions. Sometime after 10, the doctor (not mine, it was the on-call doc) came in to discuss with us our options. She was willing to be patient and wait it out a little longer, but we all agreed it was time to go get him. While having this discussion Carter's heart rate was back at normal, so we didn't have to rush into emergency surgery. They prepped me and Taylor and took us on in.

My memory of the C-section is a little fuzzy, but as far as me it went like clockwork. When they got Carter out, they discovered the cord was around his neck and he was sunny-side up. Both of these things would have been for a very difficult delivery with the chances for an even more difficult recovery than a C-section. We were very thankful we made the decision to go ahead and go get him. When Carter came out he was blue. They quickly showed him to me over the curtain then moved him across the room to work on him. It wasn't going well. He wasn't breathing and the nurses kept saying his heart wasn't very good. I don't know how many minutes it was, but to Taylor it was forever. I was still pretty out of it to register to much fear. I do remember noticing he wasn't crying. After a few minutes, Carter finally pinked up and started breathing, but he never cried. Because of this and his very low initial Apgar score, they decided to send him to the NICU. They put him on my chest for about 1 minute to look at him, then rushed him out of there. Taylor stayed with me at that point cause I was beginning to not feel very good. They were able to get some medicine into me to help with that, but I was feeling pretty gross and anxious for a little while.
After about 20 minutes or so Taylor asked a nurse if someone could check on Carter. They called and let him know that he was great and being moved to the newborn nursery. So, in the end he was only in NICU for 20-30 minutes!

They brought Carter to me in recovery to nurse, and from what I remember we had a pretty good go of it at first. :) By 3:00 I was my room. We brought our families in briefly to see him. By 4:00 we had done another feeding and sent him to the nursery for a little bit so Taylor and I could sleep for a few hours.

The Lord blessed us so much. Carter never had another issue after such a rough start. It caused no issues with nursing or with my milk coming in. He was perfectly healthy. They told us that he was just stunned from the labor and C-section. I don't have any memories of being panicked because of all of the medicine and the surgery, but Taylor was extremely terrified for a little while. He did an amazing job of communicating calmness to me.

Though the day was very long and scary at moments, we both agree that we don't look back at his birth as traumatic. It was a blessing and a very memorable day. Our experience at the hospital was so incredibly special. We look back on that time as the perfect way to start our family!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memory Verse 11

Psalm 8:2 New Century Version

"You have taught children and babies to sing praises to you because of your enemies. And so you silence your enemies and destroy those that try to get even."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

He's Here!

There will be more pictures and posts later, but for now I just wanted to announce my little man's arrival.

Carter Ashton arrived on Saturday, May 28th at 10:47pm by C-section (labor story to be posted later). He weighed 7 lbs, 9 oz, and measured 20 inches long. He has a little bit of blonde hair with no signs of red at this point. He very much favors his daddy right now. There are certain faces he makes that will remind us of me-especially around his mouth, but he is very much his daddy's boy! More about Carter's first few days coming soon. For now, I leave you with this:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Random Thoughts Before Life as I Know It Changes

This is just a series of random thoughts I want to throw out into cyber space before Carter arrives and my world forever changes.

-There are plenty of things I will NOT miss about being pregnant. Things that really aren't even appropriate for me to put out into public airways. If you've been pregnant before, you'll know what I mean. Suffice it to say, pregnancy-while beautiful and amazing-isn't always glamorous. :)

-I will miss feeling my little one move inside of me. I am at the point now where I'd like to have my abdomen back, but it is such an awesome feeling as he moves, kicks, wiggles, hiccups, and stretches inside of me. I was thinking this morning that despite the pain and discomfort it really is amazing how God created the female body to prepare for childbirth. The way that our entire body changes, adapts, and moves to make room for this child and then to birth him into the world. I will miss watching my husband be in awe of the process. Taylor is very ready for Carter to be here so that he can begin bonding in a way that I have already bonded, but there is something about a husband watching his wife through this process that is very special.

-For awhile now I've been done with advice and preparation. I am a student by nature. I like to study up on things, read, ask questions, and learn. So, for the majority of the pregnancy I have soaked up all I could in mental preparation for the changes. I've read a couple great books, taken several classes at the hospital, and of course visited with good friends and my mom. But, about a month or so ago I realized I was done with that. I had enough mental foreknowledge, and I was ready for the baptism by fire that only comes from experience. It's true there is only so much you can learn by reading and studying before you just have to do it. I'm ready for that. It's going to be new and probably difficult, but let's get on with it! :)

-I'm also tired of well-meaning advice from individuals that is not very helpful at all. I really get tired of being told, "Just wait until..." "...you are sleep deprived..." "...you try to nurse, then you'll see how hard it is..." "...your life will never be the same..." "...you will never have time for that..." "...good luck following that plan..." --- all said in a way that makes it sound like being a parent is the most terrible thing we could have signed up for. I appreciate genuine advice that helps me prepare for the reality of parenting. I do not appreciate doom and gloom put upon me about parenting and decisions we want to make. Especially from fellow Christians. This is a time to rejoice with those who rejoice...not fill our minds with negativity and pessimism. I would be naive to think this will stop after Carter is born, but I pray that I will be able to cling to positive thoughts and surround myself with those that want to encourage and lift us up during a time that will be both incredibly special and hard.

-Taylor and I were given advice by a friend last month to do everything in our power to treasure the first few weeks while the adjustment is difficult and the sleep deprivation gets heavy. He encouraged us to find ways to use the extra awake time to praise God and pray over each other, our marriage, our son, and others as well. I read in my mommy journal today about the suckings of babes as they eat is praise to the ears of God. I pray that as I am awake at 2 am listening to Carter eat that I can soak up those moments that will be so fleeting, and also praise the Lord along with Carter's sweet suckings. I pray that we can remember these sweet, newborn moments,, while exhausting and seemingly long are but a very short time. I want to use these early weeks as times to learn as much as I can about my son and pray over our future as parents. I pray that I will remember that the exhausting cycle and schedule of a newborn and my role in that cycle is to the glory of God. My most important goal as a parent during those first weeks is to provide for Carter's needs. I'm glorifying God by doing that. It will become tiresome and mundane. I will be exhausted and emotional. But, God created this process. It is to His glory, and He will sustain us through this time. I pray that I will not complain nor wish away this time too quickly, but that I will choose to glorify the Lord and bring Him praise as He carries us through the early stages of parenthood.

-While we hate it when people tell us, "Your life will never be the same." in a manner that is just plain negative; Taylor and I have admitted to mourning the end of this early era of marriage. We know life will never be the same. We are looking forward to the change and the next stage of our lives and marriage. We made this choice to start our family, and we are very excited about it. But, we do have moments when we just want to cling for a little bit longer to being just the two of us. In many ways, I think that realization has been very good for us. It has caused us to have several conversations about how to protect and encourage our marriage through our years with children at home. We want to get to the other side of parenthood-to our next set of years just to the two of us-and still know why we enjoy spending time together. We want to look forward in eager anticipation to the time when we can once again be "just us." We don't want to rush our years with children at home, but we absolutely do not want to forget the fact that the children will leave. We pledged to live together til death do us part, and it will be the two of us until that time. The children will be such an incredible part of our lives, but in the end it will once again be just us-and we want to protect that and cherish it even through these years with children at home. I'm thankful for the conversations we have had in this regard, and I look forward to finding out how we can creatively put this into practice.

Well, that's enough randomness for now. What an amazing time this is-unlike anything I have ever experienced!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Memory Verse 10

Hello all!

It's time for my next memory verse. The reason behind this one is very short and sweet: I'm due to have our first child in 18 days. It's a time of so much excitement that is occasionally mixed with fear and worry. I want this verse buried in my heart in the delivery room and during the weeks that follow.

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back to Infusions

A few weeks ago, my hematologist suggested waiting a little bit to redo blood work and then determine if I needed more iron. During the break I worked to transfer us to a hematologist here in Arlington to keep us from even more long trips to Frisco. That ended up being a disaster. The Arlington office was extremely unreliable and even rude at times. So, after waiting too long, I decided to just suck it up and go back to Frisco where I was taken very good care of anyway.

We went in last Friday for blood work to check and see where my levels are. I didn't get exact numbers on the phone today, but Dr. T. does want me to receive more iron. So, I go back in for another infusion this Thursday. We will also see the dr at that time to determine how many more infusions he wants me to have.

I'm definitely ready to be done with all of this, but we are so close to Carter's due date it can't last much longer. Lord willing, I'll soon be back to my normal blood levels! We shall see. Thanks so much for your prayers!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Resurrection Unleashed

I'm still processing so much from our retreat this weekend. In an effort to help process, I decided to just get on here and bullet some things that were said or talked about this weekend that made an impact on me.

-If we say we need resurrection, then we have to die because God resurrects dead things.

-There are a lot of people living like they just want Jesus' blood (like a get out of hell free card), BUT Jesus is a way of life!

-In Luke 22, Jesus looks at Peter after the third rooster crows. What face do I picture on Jesus? Is it disappointment? Is it compassion? Is it shame? Is it the same face I see on God in response to my sin?

-Jesus' Resurrection reverses the shame of the Fall in Genesis 3. He is alive, right here, right now.

-Sometimes we are living under the guilt and shame of past sin letting the guilt and shame guide our lives. So, what do we do to open ourselves up to the Power of the Resurrection that will take away the guilt and shame?

-Do I believe the resurrection is the best news for the world?

-How do we measure the fruit of the resurrection and how it's unleashed in our lives? Maybe using Galatians 5?

-In Genesis 1 and 2, the stage is set for the resurrection. The Hebrew word for "formless void" means "chaos." God created out of chaos. The God of the Resurrection is the same God that created out of chaos. He created out of chaos in the beginning and He can create out of chaos in my life right now. THAT'S the power of the resurrection!

-In John 19, we see that Jesus is buried in a garden. When Mary comes to the tomb that morning, she mistakes Jesus for the gardener. In a way, Jesus does become the gardener restoring life to the way it was meant to be. Am I willing to let Jesus be the gardener in my life?

-If I was followed around for a month, what fruit would be represented in my life that shows I'm living the power of the Resurrection?

-When we come to believe in the Power of the Resurrection, then we believe that sin, shame, guilt, cities, families, etc. will bow down to the power of God.

-Have an imagination with God so that we can dream with Him of the possibilities that He can redeem.

-What does it say about a God who would choose to descend and get into the middle of brokenness with people? There is a God who enters into the brokenness and mess of life to REDEEM IT! (If you read my Memory Verse 9, this is the other reason I chose John 1:14)

-Do you believe that God has the power to enter your life to rewrite the next _______ years of your life? To redeem what's happened in the previous________ years of your life? This is the Power of the Resurrection!

Like I said, so much to process! Biggest question right now: Am I letting the Power of the Resurrection be Unleashed in my life???

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Memory Verse 9

It's time for my next memory verse! During the last couple of weeks I discovered that going over my verses while I"m putting on my makeup or drying my hair is a really great time for me. I think using that time in this way is going to make a big difference in how ingrained in my brain and on my heart these verses become!

There is actually a couple reasons for this next verse. The first reason has to do with the weekend retreat we just had at our church. I am going to post my thoughts about that in the next couple of days, so I will address how it relates to this verse at that time. The second reason has to do with a lot of thought and conversation I've been having recently about being a person that is full of both grace and truth like Jesus. As Christians we tend to fall one of two directions-either fully on the side of grace that we forget to hold people accountable to the truth. Or so focused on truth that we forget to be gracious and forgiving. When Jesus came into the world, He was full of both and represented both in all his relationships throughout Scripture. I am needing to learn how to do that. So, here's the verse I am going to be learning and meditating on for the next two weeks:

John 1:14
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

More to come about our church retreat in the near future!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Update on Gestational Anemia

Hello all!!!

I saw Dr. T. on Monday (my hematologist), and all the blood work results were back yesterday. My iron levels not only recovered from being low they are now on the high side. There's nothing wrong with that, so we are very excited to know that the iron infusions worked extremely well!!! My hemoglobin levels did not change a whole lot though. While hemoglobin levels are very tied to iron levels, mine didn't move very much because of my Thalassemia. As of right now, Dr. T. wants me to come in again next week to recheck my hemoglobin levels. Depending on what has changed in a week's time will determine whether or not he wants me to get two more rounds of infusions. I've been a little confused as to why he would recommend more iron infusions if my iron is now high and it's just my hemoglobin that's low, but he's the "blood doctor." He is trying to make all things in my blood work together to my benefit. He's still trying to find a balance in treating the Thalassemia and the anemia. Anyway, there has been much progress, and I have definitely been feeling better. Now we wait another week to see if I need to do a little more or not. As always, thanks so much for all of your prayers! We are 6 weeks away from my due date, and it's feeling very real. I'm thankful that the doctors are striving to have me in a very healthy place to deliver! Love you all!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Memory Verse 8

The next memory verse is due tomorrow. We have a very busy, very fun weekend planned and I didn't want to get behind like last time. I was thinking today about all kinds of different things all while knowing in the back of my mind that I needed to choose a verse. Anyway, I was thinking about how sensitive I have become to negativity in others. It drives me bonkers and makes me angry when Christians spend SO much time focusing on the negative and complaining constantly. But, then I realized that it ends up dragging me into the negativity by spending time angry at them for their negativity. It's a vicious circle. And, that's why negativity is so awful-it's contagious. On top of that I realized how easy it is at this point in the pregnancy to focus on the less-than-glamorous, painful, and frustrating parts of pregnancy forgetting to be in awe of the miracle that's happening.

SO-with all of that rambling in my head, this verse popped in my mind. I decided it was perfect for the next two weeks. I know it enough for it to pop in my mind, but I don't have the entire thing engraved on my heart, and I would like to change that. With that said, my next verse is:

Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Infusions Complete

Hi all! I finished round 4 of my iron infusions yesterday! We do not know official results of how it is working yet. Dr. Trillo wanted to give this last round a full week to get into my system before doing follow up blood work. So, I go back up there next Monday to visit with him and get my blood work done. I'm praying that sometime mid-late week next week we will be told that my iron levels are looking great, and I am all clear to deliver (when Carter is ready, that is).

What I do know is that I am feeling much better. I am able to be up and around doing stuff WAY more than I could a couple-three weeks ago. I do still have some very tired moments, but the fact of the matter is that my Thalassemia is still affecting me and I'm in my third trimester. Who isn't tired during their third trimester? :) The tired I'm experiencing now is very different though than the pervasive exhaustion of a few weeks ago. One of the biggest differences is that a night's sleep or a good nap is actually refreshing now when before it didn't matter.

We are very thankful for how the treatments have worked. It was scary early on, but it has been so helpful. I'm so glad that I can be in nesting mode getting our house and Carter's room ready for him. Thank you so, so much for all of you that have be praying for me. Please keep it up as I progress through these next 7 1/2 weeks til my little man arrives!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Memory Verse 7 and Iron Update

Hi all! Yes, it's April 6th, and I'm just now documenting my verse for the first half of the month. I have had a very crazy first week of the month. In fact, all of April is just nuts! It's time for me to buckle down and start making this a bigger priority cause I'm sure once my little man is here it will become easy for me to forget about this. The verse I've chosen for the next two weeks is just perfect for this time of our lives. We have so many changes coming up and so much unknown as we add to our family that I want to start engraving this on my heart RIGHT NOW! Life is about taking it one day at a time, and I need to enter into parenthood with that in mind as well!

Matthew 6:34
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I also wanted to give a brief update to how my infusions are going. I'm down 3 with one to go on Monday the 11th. About mid-week last week after my 2nd infusion I began to notice a difference. My mom came into town for several days to help me with some baby stuff and go to my church shower, and I was able to be very active the whole time she was here. I'm definitely not at pre-pregnancy energy levels, but I'm beginning to be able to do more. In the end, I'm still in my 3rd trimester and will tire out quickly; BUT I'm noticing a HUGE difference. I want to do stuff around the house or get out and run errands, and I can. I'm also finding that as I get a little more energy I'm finally able to give into the nesting I've been wanting to do. I'm working to pay really close attention to my body so that I can sit or lay down and rest if I need to, but I'm also thrilled to be more active for the time being. Round 4 will be on the 11th, then on the 18th they will check my levels and see if they are high enough for me to deliver safely. It's been a time commitment the last few weeks, but we are so excited to see it working! Thank you for your prayers!!! Keep them coming!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Am I Feeling?

I have had many ask me how I am feeling this week. The answer is not any better and not any worse-which is what I was supposed to feel like this week. It will take 2 to 3 infusions for me to begin to feel any positive results. And, of course, we didn't want any adverse reactions which I have had none. So, although I still feel exhausted and beyond fatigued this week it's kind of like saying, "No news is good news." I'm getting yet another lesson in patience and taking it one day at a time. My husband is an awesome support and so good at protecting me and making sure I am not overdoing it right now! I am able to get out and do things or be up and around to do things, but my stamina does not last very long at all. That's okay though. I am being taken care of, and I do not want for anything. Thank you so much for everyone's concern and prayers!!! We appreciate it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anemia Treatment has Begun!

My first IV Iron Infusion was this morning. All went well! We met with Dr. T. first. He had done another set of blood work last Wednesday and wanted to go over the results with us. My iron was still very low. My hemoglobin is low but had gone up a little bit. My folic acid, B12, and D3 levels were all normal, so no shots! The infusion process took longer than we expected. Dr. T. had told us it would take about 30 minutes. Once in the infusion room the nurse told us she doesn't like to do that amount of iron in less than an hour and a half. So, we settled in for a little longer morning than planned. They hooked me all up to the IV, and then brought it the good stuff - it looks like Coke. It's dark brown. It was gross. I kept thinking that it is really weird to watch all of this dark brown stuff pumping into my veins. But, oh well. It didn't hurt. :)

I had no allergic reactions which is apparently the most common reaction; though most people don't have any reactions at all. The biggest "issue" we had was that my IV site keep aching. It turned out it was because my arm was really, really cold. They ended up wrapping my arm in a heating pad and that helped some, so we know how to fix that now if we need to. They give me Tylenol and Benadryl at the start to help with any reactions, etc. I think they do this each time. By the time the infusion was finished the Benadryl was well in my system, and I was S-L-E-E-P-Y! :) We grabbed lunch and came home, and I crashed!

So, it was a very successful morning despite being longer than we anticipated. One of the strangest things about the whole experience was sitting in a room full of people receiving chemo. It was weird to be sitting there hooked up to the same machine as them, and it was hard to think about those sweet individuals sitting there with poison pumping into their veins. I pray that all of them experience success from their treatments!

The plan is to continue this same dosage (300 mg of iron) once a week for 4 weeks - today was week 1. So, 3 more infusions, and then on week 5 I will go back in to have more blood work done to see if it brought my numbers up to where they want them to be before I deliver. That's as far as we know right now!

I appreciate all of the prayers so much. Taylor and I had been a little nervous about this since it was unknown territory. After today we are feeling much better about the actual infusions. We are still praying and need prayers that this will do what it is supposed to do so that I can have a healthy delivery! We love each of you! Thank you again for lifting us and our sweet son up to the Father!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Research and OB recommendation

Hello again,

Well, we have had some time to absorb the doc's info yesterday; and we are feeling a little better about the plan. My dad sat down last night and did a lot of research regarding my situation. It turns out that gestational anemia in patients with Thalassemia is very common. While Thalassemia patients do not need iron normally (in fact it's toxic), many pregnant Thalassemia patients do. The best method for this treatment is intravenously-which is what Dr. T recommended yesterday. My grandmother is having some complications with her Thalassemia, and Dad is taking her to see a hematologist tomorrow. He's gonna try to throw in a pregnancy question and get a "back door second opinion" while he's there. :)

I also talked to the nurse at my OB's office. They like Dr. T's recommendation and assured me it is perfectly safe for me. Her main point to me was that with my iron as low as it is delivery will be very dangerous for me if we do not get my iron levels back up.

So-my iron infusions will begin on Monday morning. I'm still slightly nervous about a negative reaction, but will be praying through that between now and then. I have a little more clarity for a couple questions I want to ask Dr. T that I didn't think about yesterday, but it won't change the plan.

Thanks so much for the prayers! We really appreciate them!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hematologist

Hi all,

We made it to the hematologist today. We both left a little shell shocked. Not because there was any bad news, but just because we were a little confused. We are dealing in an area that neither one of us really knows much about, so we are having to put a lot of trust in a doc we just met today. Taylor has very little understanding of Thalassemia, obviously; and I have never had any concerns that warranted receiving extensive treatments for it. So, it's all a little outside of our experience and understanding. Because of that I may not make tons of sense. I'll try to just bullet out what we know right now and go from there.

-First of all, Carter is unaffected by all of this right now. He is healthy and strong. He's taking all of the good stuff which is why I feel lousy. :) It's a sacrifice I'm making willingly (albeit forced into) for my son. :)

-The main thing accomplished today was more bloodwork. Dr. Trillo is running another CBC along with iron studies. He is also checking my B12, Folic Acid, and D3 levels. All of these vitamin levels are affected by Thalassemia and depending on what the levels are may require me to receive some shots of any or all of these supplements. This was not surprising to me and no big deal. We should have these results on Monday.

-My understanding at this point is that my Thalassemia numbers are very low, but that I have also developed anemia which is, of course, common in pregnancy. I cannot take iron, so we were closely watching this knowing it was a possibility. It seems Dr. Trillo's top priority is to focus on the anemia. He said that what he does for the anemia will impact the Thalassemia to some extent, but will not put me at my pre-pregnancy levels. We basically have to get my levels a little more stable before I can deliver and then after Carter is born my body will recover on its own to my own normal levels. Now, this is what I believe he was saying his priority was. We both left a little unclear on this. We are going to try to nail this down a little better in the next couple days.

-Dr. Trillo's other recommendation for me is to receive IV Iron in 4 separate infusions over the next 4 weeks. We would go to the office once a week for them to infuse 250 mg of Iron that is also laced with B12. This sent red flags up for me from the get go because I have always been told do not take iron, do not take iron. But, I also haven't ever been anemic. One of the reasons for this recommendation is that my body will use it better by IV than it would by an oral supplement. He said the dosage he is recommending is safe for my Thalassemia but needed because I'm pregnant and anemic. So, I'm having to have a lot of trust with this because he is the doctor. :) I did ask why this option instead of a blood transfusion. A blood transfusion would carry 300 mg of Iron, but his concern with that route has to do with introducing me and Carter to foreign red blood cells. He doesn't want to unnecessarily compromise Carter's blood supply or develop antibodies in me that could cause a poor reaction should I ever need an emergency transfusion. I think we are dealing with some very interesting variables when trying to get my levels up while still maintaining a safe environment for Carter. He was taking all of that into consideration with his recommendations.

-Dr. Trillo also mentioned that this plan will not have an immediate effect...that's the reason for 4 weeks of infusions, and I will need blood work to monitor progress as we go. He agreed with my OB that we need my levels up before I deliver. There will still be a possibility of needing another round of treatment of some sort when I deliver, but we will figure that out later.

So, that's the info we got. Taylor and I left with some questions. We talked to my dad some who also has Thalassemia and has spent more time talking to hematologists than we have. I also am really feeling the need to visit with my OB before the first infusion. I have a call in to them, and hope to get their opinion tomorrow. We are both a little nervous since this is completely new territory. I'm nervous about a reaction to the infusion, but also aware that this may be our best option for helping me feel better. We are so thankful that this is not a serious issue. It will in many ways fix itself once Carter is here and my body recovers from delivery. It's just something that needs to be addressed at this time to help me get through the next 11 weeks. We are very thankful that Carter is healthy and continues to grow as he should. All in all, it was an informative afternoon even if a little confusing. We hope to have a little more clarity after talking to my OB and getting the blood work results from today. My first infusion is for now scheduled for Monday morning.

That's a long update, but I knew some of you would want to know the details so you could be praying specifically. We appreciate your prayers. For now, please know that I am fine besides extreme fatigue. Taylor is doing a wonderful job of filling in around here when I just can't stand up anymore. He's an incredible support to me, and I'm so thankful he's the one on this journey of life with me! Thank you for your prayers!!!