While I Wait for a New Dance

Today I am 10 days overdue with my third child, our first little boy.  Wow.  Talk about plenty of time for reflection and seeking the Lord's purpose in something.  My dates of knowing when things happened were so accurate I thought the whole time this could be a due date baby.  Now that is laughable to me.  :)  I am so, so thankful that I have not missed these past 10 days though, knowing we will for sure meet this little guy on Thursday if he does not come before.  We have made sweet memories with the girls, the Lord has blessed me with maybe some of the best rest of my life, even at the end of pregnancy; he is giving me an experience or conversation every day that makes me glad I didn't miss it, and He has already taught me so much about trust, waiting, overcoming fear, casting out lies, seeking his wisdom, and surrendering to His perfect plan.  I feel like spiritually I've walked a hundred miles in 10 days.

I was also quite anxious leading up to the due date and a few days after, for some reason extra concerned about having all the little things ready.  I mean, I am not one who has a clean house very often, or who finds delight in busying myself with chores or to do lists. (unfortunately, maybe?) This is why I always have an extra appreciation for the crazy nesting energy that makes me more productive than usual.  I've been quite the busy bee in my prep and our house was clean for about 3 weeks.  The night before the due date I finally finished the baby quilt, which has been what I've told people was what I needed to have done to be ready. Ha.  Some people need to clean baseboards, apparently I need to finish my sewing. Now I've told my family that clean house reality might have past.  I mean, seriously.  We've done our "last grocery trip so the girls have food" about 4 times already - ha! I'm actually considering rewashing the baby clothes and the quilt.  Just to use up the last bit of nesting energy and get that fresh baby Dreft scent back. :)  By now the Lord has had plenty of time to strip away what I thought might be necessary for prep, and remind me of all that really matters.  (Meaning not the color of my hair :)

Yesterday was a super emotional day where I was driving to the hospital for yet another non stress test for baby boy, after actually canceling an induction yesterday morning as a result of much prayer and discussion with Kevin, because I didn't have peace about it, and didn't feel like my body was ready.  I was worshipping in the car and became overwhelmed with His reminder that this is his child we have prayed for and are praying so much for.  And it's a great and wonderful privilege that he would allow us the experience of carrying him, raising him, and loving him so mightily.  We are naming him a name that means mighty warrior, because I have prayed for this little one before I ever conceived that that's is exactly who he would be for God's kingdom.  My heartbeat and passion is to partner with Christ in building his kingdom and standing victorious against the enemy.  I pray we are a family who does that, though it is certainly no small task.

Sunday during worship I became overcome with having to surrender my fears...those that have attacked me in the overdue days, even when I want to just enjoy it.  Because he's just right here with me, and sometimes I think, oh let's just get him in my arms, whatever it takes!  And sometimes it comes to that...but I have been praying so hard for wisdom and so desperately wanting to follow the Lord's lead in this.  He filled me with peace and confirmation yesterday, and in the past several days has opened my eyes to this brand new experience he's leading me into.  I know the Lord's will for me is to not open my ears to the enemy's lies.  So I renounce that author of fear in Jesus' name.

I've been working on my labor music, which both times has been for me one of the most powerful parts of being in the Lord's presence while he brings a new life into the world.  I absolutely cannot get enough of "We Dance" by Steffany Gretzinger right now, from the You Make Me Brave album.  Oh my goodness, so beautiful and powerful, and the girls and I have listened and danced to it so many times this past week.  I realized a few days ago that I was surprised by all these overdue days and my lack of rapid dilation for a 3rd child because all I've been doing is comparing this pregnancy to the past ones.  I guess I have oddly expected to travel the same road, for it to go relatively the same, whether being induced or going naturally, because I've experienced both.  It's almost like God is prepping me that this child is a new creation, knit together in his own way, just like our other two.  I cannot plan for exactly how to raise this one, because God will have to lead me in that, just like with Selah and Zoe.

(Fun at a new park, including a long walk with my girls this morning)

All of a sudden, one day last week when I was really worshipping and reflecting during this song, God gave me the revelation that this is a new day, a new dance with him.  I need to lock eyes with Him and what He's doing, prepare to enter into this intense and painful and beautiful experience with my heart completely dependent on and desperate for Him.  He has intention in each different kind of dance he leads us in during our life times.  But he does lead, and when we trust, though in our own strength that is always easier said than done, we will follow.  So this is where I'm at.  Waiting, as most of us probably know to different degrees at different seasons in our lives, can be such a time of awakening from the Lord.  Because there's just nothing left but to seek him.  It has been funny at this point to have reminders of all those last handful of years of singleness when people started giving me all kinds of tips and ideas on how I could take into my own hands meeting this one and only man God had planned for me.  I'm getting to the point in this pregnancy where so many sweet people have offered all the ideas for bringing this little guy into the world.  I just made the connection today and was comforted at how I had nothing to do with meeting Kevin, but had every confidence that God ordained that on time and on purpose; and I am coming to confidence in Him to do the same now.  (Not to say I'm not thankful and willing to try some though! :)

We are so incredibly excited to meet this new little one whom I've had an extra 10 days to pray for and carry, while remaining in a place of desperately seeking the Lord for his sovereignty, His mighty hand to deliver, protect and save, His perfect timing, His carrying me through this often daunting though amazing process of bringing into the world another beautiful creation of his.  This is powerful to me you all.  And I'm determined not to miss it.  Our son's story has already had it's own unique start, and I can't wait to one day share it all with my little mighty warrior.

"Thank you Lord for the past 41 and a half weeks; thank you for the rest of the week as we meet our son and watch our girls witness your glory displayed, as we've promised them it would be; and for the years ahead where we pray you allow us the privilege and joy of raising these little ones you have blessed us with to know you and love you, to join you in the battle for your kingdom.  Thank you for the body of Christ who has surrounded us and lifted us up with prayer and encouragement.  They have blessed us in so many ways.  We need you, we ask for your angel armies to be sent to guard us, for your mighty hand to deliver and save.  Holy Spirit you are welcome here.  Thank you for Father for the invitation to this dance.  We will lock eyes with the One who's chosen us."


To My Two Sweet Baby Girls (before your brother comes :)

5-30-15 (started about a week ago ;)

(Taken this morning, a walk to the downtown coffee shop, 41 weeks with brother
Good job with the group selfie Selah!)

My dear sweet Selah and Zoe,

You, beautiful girls, literally bring delight to my soul.  I have never seen such beauty, held such sweet, pure love, or experienced such grace and life giving moments before I was given the joy of you two.  We are in the sweetest stage right now...and I honestly thought that last summer too.  But now we're actually all sleeping, (for a moment ;), and you two are the best of friends.  You love each other and you love your family.  Both of you have delighted in each of our dr.'s appts. to hear the baby's heart "beep."  By now you are pros and Selah packs a great bag herself, as well as reminds me to bring the snacks.  You've started taking your babies everywhere and this past week you checked them when I was done.  Surely it seems to you two that we have been waiting for a very long time, (and it's seeming that way to us too ;), but we have made such sweet memories in the meantime.  I am picking up this blog post at a point where we are exactly a week overdue, and we are praying so hard little brother comes on his own this weekend before the dr.'s help him out.

Selah, some of our sweet times have been at bedtime when I lay down and he moves around like crazy, or we snuggle and you feel him kicking.  I have loved when you've talked to him like Daddy, saying, "Hi brother, we can't wait to meet you!"  One day you couldn't sleep at nap time and sat on my lap when the baby happened to be his most active.  You giggled like crazy every time you felt him jump or move.  That's one of those memories I do wish I had on video.  Though I need those nap time breaks, it's always special when we have a break in routine like that and get some unexpected one on one time.  You love to snuggle and share those sweet, tired moments together.  You have the best questions about being the biggest sister, what it will be like when we go to the hospital, how things will work with our newest addition.  You have loved moving to the back row of the van as the biggest sister now, though Zoe cried her eyes out when you went back there.  Thankfully she is now excited that Baby brother is coming and is going to sit right there next to her!  You are already such an amazing helper to me, and such a great encourager.  Your heart is so beautiful sweet girl, and I love your love for God and for your family.  I love how much compassion and gentleness you have, with others and especially with your sister.  You are often happy to help her or teach her or let her do whatever you're doing with you, and that is so kind and loving.  I pray that is the Spirit in you!

Zoe, you love to put your hand on my belly, get really excited, and say, "Baby kicking!!"  And you love to kiss my belly - and kiss everything.  You now walk around saying, "Baby brother coming!"  And you are going to be over the moon delighted when he actually does.  You love doctor's appts., and have recently started asking every day if we're going to another one.  You have learned well from your very best friend, and you are going to be such a wonderful big sister.  You have such a caring, nurturing heart.  Thursday we went to a friend's house and you wanted to "hold" their new baby over and over.  This past month there were a couple times when you weren't feeling well or just wanted to, "Hold you," and you took your nap with me in the La-Z-boy.  Even though you had to maneuver around my big belly I just took you in as my baby for the last little while, and loved those sweet moments with you.  You've loved that spot best literally since the moment you were born...and it is special to share those times snuggling you.  I won't take it for granted or give up the unexpected times like that...because you are growing all too quickly like your sister!  Even since turning two you have tossed the babyhood aside and are now wanting to be a big girl in every way.  And saying everything to prove it.  You are so unbelievably cute and adorable - it's such a joy to watch you experience life and experience it with you!

I think we have had more fun with you two girls these last two weeks, thinking he's coming, making memory after memory as family of four, as we ever have.  Yesterday we picked strawberries at Spencer Farms, and it was hot and very sunny, but so much fun.  Last night we made milkshakes, this morning strawberry shortcakes, and tonight strawberry muffins.  This morning I took you two on a walk downtown to the coffee shop and it was once again so sweet for me just to enjoy you.  And to think that we will have many more girl times together when the boys do their thing.  I love, love, love having daughters and love that you have each other as sisters, more than you could ever know.  I am thanking the Lord constantly.  Tonight we had a ballerina dance party in the living room to, "We Dance," by Steffany Frizzle...and it was the sweetest time - oh how I will treasure that precious memory with you two, trying to dance this brother out, worshiping Jesus, and dancing together.  These are my dreams come to life.

Our family is about to look and feel different, as Daddy and I are about to be outnumbered. Just tonight when each of us were laying with one of you I was thinking about how our little guy will soon be on our minds and need us too at that time.  But let me tell you - these siblings the Lord is blessing you with are the greatest gift.  You will be each other's best friends, biggest cheerleaders, and strongest support as you go through life.  This is how we will raise you and what we will pray for.  While I still get so sentimental getting ready to go through this intense transition, I now know what it's like to watch my children love each other so fully, and enjoy each other so well...and I am just thrilled to be adding to that.  So very thankful.

Daddy and I are always learning, growing, sometimes succeeding, often failing, but constantly desperate and fully dependent on God.  I pray you continue to grow in trusting us and trusting the Lord with your whole hearts.  I am so thankful for your joy and love of life.  I know God will give us the strength we need for the little sleep, transitional days ahead.

I am so proud of you girls.  It is my joy and my honor to be your mama.  It is the calling of my soul to be in that role and I do everything I can to treasure it daily, even when my patience wears thin and my efforts are less than the intentional mom I hope to be.  We are praying for you in every way, we can't wait to see you welcome and love on your little brother.  What a great adventure.  You are both precious, unique pearls that God created for his glory.  Don't ever forget that.

I love you so very much. You will always be my two sweet baby girls.



There Is a Little Boy

...who currently lives in my belly. :)  What's crazy is, he was due yesterday and this is the first blog post I might finish about him!  What a difference the 3rd baby makes.  It's obviously tough to know where to start, considering I never even began telling his story here, so I think I'll include some highlights and my thoughts now, as we are excitedly awaiting his pending arrival.  I will first say this time around has gone so amazingly quick that about a month ago I thought I would be in complete shock when an actual baby was placed in my arms.  Now I'm so huge it's a little easier to believe. ;)

(Just took these pics tonight on our walk...thus the only ones that made the post for now. ;)

We found out we were pregnant on September 30th.  I actually was with my mom, making a quick stop at Target on our way to my then future sister-in-law's bridal shower in Kentucky.  I had decided to let my body tell me this time if I was pregnant, because I had some negative tests the months prior and I just didn't want to get back on that emotional roller coaster when I could just wait.  But I was getting a little curious because I was at least a week late I think.  So I grabbed a test at Target, took it in the bathroom, threw it in my purse...and peeked down at it while Selah and I were almost to the car.  Needless to say, I was excitedly shocked, not expecting that moment to be the one I found out about my 3rd baby. :)  And I really wanted to Kevin to be the first to know, so I actually made it the whole day and trip without telling my mom, which was certainly tough!

That night when I got home I told Kevin I got him something that day and gave him a bag with the test in it.  It was sweet and we felt overwhelmingly thankful!  I was 5 weeks at that point.  And oddly enough, I was doing that Whole 30 thing and still had a week left - which I endured, but it wasn't my favorite.  For the rest of my pregnancy I have loathed the thought of Paleo things, even just reading about it. Ha.  Must be something about being nauseous with what you're eating a lot of at the time.

Our first super fun moment of the pregnancy was telling Selah (and Zoe).  We had been praying with both of them for awhile that God would provide a brother or sister, so Selah was anxious for this prayer request to be answered.  We sat them down and asked what we had been praying for, and Selah said, "A baby."  Then we showed her the ultrasound and said look what God put in mommy's belly!  Of course she wanted to know if it was a girl or boy and proceeded to say in the cutest way for the next several weeks, "We don't know yet," in her sing-song way.  I have loved, loved, loved feeling the baby kick and experiencing it with the girls.  They just giggle and smile and think it's the neatest thing when they actually get to feel it or see him move.  We actually face timed our family's on halloween, to show the girls' costumes and tell everyone what our "treat" was.  They loved it.

The most shocking thing about this pregnancy...I have not thrown up one time!!!  Isn't that crazy??  If you have read my other pregnancy journeys you would certainly know that it is.  Physically this time has actually been so smooth in a way I'm not used to but have loved.  I started out way more fit than I have in the past, and I have no idea if that has contributed or not.  My fatigue in the first two trimesters was absolutely crazy though...and I don't think the winter helped much.  My emotions also took a huge toll during this pregnancy - I got pretty low in those dark winter months.  It felt much more like 'time of the month' nonstop hormones than it has in the past.  As much as I've documented and journaled for many years, it's been interesting to me to see how hard of a time I've had putting my thoughts and feelings on paper when I've had moments of struggling.  Thankfully with the beauty of the Spring and the fun end of this sweet pregnancy, I am just enjoying this little one I have grown to fiercely love and know to some extent, as well as his amazingly sweet two older sisters.  Oh my goodness I just cannot wait to see them with him.  They are in the cutest stage right now, the best of friends and blooming personalities.  We sincerely adore our two beauties and are delighting over them daily.  Such an amazing way to connect to the Father's heart, but knowing and enjoying them.

One of the first significant times I felt this sweet one move/kick was during the reception of my brother's wedding, which was 18 weeks.  I was sitting at the table eating the delicious dinner they had and I felt it - it was neat because that was an amazing day...I have absolutely love seeing my brother and sweet sister-in-law Emilee experience the purest, most intentional kind of love.  I am so, so thankful for how the Lord answered many years of prayer with their relationship and union.

We did find out on January 6th, my 34th birthday, that we are having a sweet baby BOY!  We honestly were excited about any possibility, knowing the moment we met our sweet baby he/she would be the perfect one for our family.  I had a strong feeling towards boy simply because of my crazy lack of sickness.  But we were truly shocked when we opened the envelope/present we had wrapped it in...mostly because we have been in deep with girls and pink around here.  But Selah was so cute and started saying right after we found out, "I knew it was a boy." Ha.  So funny.  It's also been so sweet to see Zoe grow through this experience and become more and more aware.  She loves, "Baby brother," she always wants to pray for him, and she knows he's why mama's lap has lost so much room for her.  While she is so good at being my baby girl, and love and needs her mama, she also has such a nurturing heart and will be a great big sister.  It is just going to be so much fun to see, even with the transitions we'll inevitably have to walk through with her.  Selah is such a flexible gal, so good at adapting to new things, with an adventurous and trusting spirit.  I think one of the toughest transitions for me might be how big Selah will inevitably and automatically seem with her baby brother here.  And she will rise to the occasion of the responsible and helpful biggest sister, which will be awesome but such a reality check of how fast she is growing up.  I cannot believe she has left the toddlerhood and will be four in September.  Wow.  Wasn't I just writing about her being in my belly?  The sweet days just fly by and I desperately treasure as much as I can.  Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord for these answered prayers.  May my whole life be an expression of gratitude for these precious people and the purposes you've created them for.

Our little guy has been such a mover, with the funniest kicks and rolls, the kind that sometimes make me self-conscious that someone might notice me and think, "Whoa, what's going on in there?" ;)  That part definitely reminds me of Zoe.  But he reminds me of Selah in that he pretty much found his favorite spot and has kind of stuck to it, especially this last trimester.  It seems like he's been curled in a sweet little ball, he'll stick his bottom out and firmly kick my right side.  I've come to expect it so much that now I'll just say, "Hi there little buddy."  I know that I don't know that this little guy is going to sincerely rock my world and melt my heart.  Getting to have him all to myself for a bit is always such a sacred, special time of bonding for me and my babies.  I don't rush the end and am super sentimental because I know soon I'll have to share and eventually experience separation.  Probably sounds a little silly, but until they come out and remind me it's much better in my arms, it's a real "end of the pregnancy" feeling.  I also consider myself an "under-productive procrastinator," so having bonus nesting time at the end always turns out super fruitful!  Like I finally finished his quilt, my most complicated yet.  Some people like to get the baseboards clean; I feel the need to finish the quilt! :)

And truth be told, especially with the physical ease of this one, I just love being pregnant.  But even with the girls, I've never felt more right in my own body, and I'm kept in a constant place of gratitude and worship, that this can actually take place.  I don't normally get stretch marks until the last two weeks, then I receive my special little souvenirs to carry with me always that will remind me of this sweet and amazing privilege and blessing.  I do not take it for granted, and I am humbled and in awe of the whole thing.  I cannot believe my third time around is almost over - I don't know how the Lord might choose us to bless us in the future, but it's hard not to feel shock that I am already almost finished with my first three times to have this amazing experience.  I am doing everything I can to treasure it, and I will do the same when this sweet boy makes his arrival!

I am definitely excited to see Kevin experience the arrival of his son too.  I think t's already harder for husbands to really grasp all that's going on during pregnancy, and they don't get the neat experience of bonding through the carrying and getting to know all the little details and movements of the little ones.  He is always overwhelmed when he meets our new babies for the first time, completely in awe of what has just happened.  But I think the reality of a son, that we have neither one experienced yet is going to be special in a new way too.

When it comes to our little guy's name, we are not officially sharing until he's born.  But it was surprisingly not as easy to land on this time around.  I had been praying a specific prayer about this baby before we ever conceive, largely based on the purpose I feel God has laid on my heart in light of  some of our experiences and what He's taught us over the past few years.  We have always had one boy bible name for a son, and weren't expecting to not just go with that.  But one day I googled bible names for a specific meaning, and what popped up took me by surprise, while also beginning to engrave itself on my heart.  Kevin wasn't totally sold and we prayed many prayers and had quite a few discussions.  We went back and forth with a few arrangements and ideas, but finally have excitement and peace over this little guy's name.  It might be a bit different in some sense, but filled with meaning and was completely inspired, which is truly us, and the same as it's been for our other two sweet ones.  We are both really excited.  Now I just want to put a name with a face and snuggle this sweet guy.  Nothing compares to that overwhelming first moment meeting a new life...truly, nothing.  Such a sacred experience, that brings greater meaning and understanding of the power of new life in the Lord as well.  I just can't believe I'm about to be surrounded by more than my arms can hold...but thankfully not my heart.

I have started getting a lot of, "You have your hands full" comments, especially with this big belly on my short body that has been measuring a week ahead.  I always say, "In the best way possible."  Though I have my fair share of parenting tears and fatigue, being overwhelmed can be a beautiful experience.  We have been really intentional about having sweet family time with the girls this week and I have just treasured soaking them in during this time.  We went to Barnes and Noble a couple cooler mornings this past week and sat on the floor reading until accidental going past lunch time both days.  I love that.  We also had a fun morning at Conner Prairie, took walks with Daddy to the playground at night, went to our favorite donut place, got pedicures, (Selah and I), went to the Farmer's Market and the library.  Today we took our weekly trip to Trader Joe's and walked on this beautiful night downtown.  The girls just come to life with so much time as a family, as Selah would say.  I feel like things are brewing in there with all this activity, but my sweet ones come just when they're ready.  I'm thankful for all these memory making moments as the four of us...and can't wait to see us all five together.  It is truly so, so surreal still.


I think I'll end this post by linking to a song our family loves to belt in worship together when we're in the car and it comes on.  Thank you Lord for overwhelming us in this way, for drawing us to yourself through our little ones.  Thank you for knitting this baby boy together for your glory, for forming him and loving him, and carrying us all to this time and place.  We ask for your powerful protection and provision in delivering him and bringing him into this world and our arms.  In Jesus' name.

(**Please note, this is an obviously fast and brief overview of a lot of life lived over the last 9-10 months.  There is so much not mentioned about life and friends and family; hurts and hardships/joys and sorrows we've walked through with others during this baby growing time. Just wanted to say that. :) )


Dear Zoe (On the Night Before You're One)

Sweet Zoe girl....how can we be at this moment, how can I be sitting down to write this today??  That precious, painful, beautiful night of bringing you into this world does not seems like a year ago.  I still remember every little detail of that life changing day.  It was actually at this exact time that I was checking in the hospital, unknowingly at 7cm, but in crazy pain waiting for somebody to come to the desk.  What an incredible night.  We have been through so much together since you came into this world.  It has not been easy by any means...but you my sweet girl are an amazing blessing to this family.  This past 12 months have seemingly flown by now that I'm in this moment...but in many ways it's been quite a long and hard year.  It's surreal that the joy of meeting you has been in the same year as the pain of losing our dear friend.  This will always be a time in your life that I will use to teach you about trusting the Lord and clinging to his strength. There have been intense and painful moments...but completely and overwhelmingly joy-filled ones as well.  You my sweet daughter, are my precious Zoe Joy.  I will never pretend like our first year together was always peaches and rainbows because one day when, prayerfully, you're a mommy who adores her babies, you will be more encouraged by the truth than anything I could say to pretend it away.

As I sit here and reflect on all the days that brought us here, I remember few of them without a million snuggles a day with you.  That is one thing I treasure about you...you love love.  From the moment you were born - literally - you wanted to be close to your mama.  You wanted to feel me, touch me, know I was right there.  And you are still that way.  It most certainly took me awhile to learn how to live without very long stretches of time of being able to use two hands. ;)  You have occupied my arms during your little life more than you have not, I'm almost certain.  And oh how you loathe sleep and recently I've made some desperate pleas to the Lord for help.  But I have always known the tough part of this training for you comes from how much you just really don't want to be alone in this life.  And baby girl, that is okay.  It is really important that you start sleeping a lot more soon ;), but I don't ever want you to believe the lie that needing others is a bad thing.  It's wonderful to know how precious and important relationships are.  God has given us such an amazing gift to have each other to love, and you have such a gift of pouring it out and being so open to receiving it.

The honest truth is that you have been amazing through so many changes and experiences you've had in your first year of life.  You learned to travel well and relax in the car, even though it took months.  You've always been so good at being my baby, and it seems weird that now your entering into toddler hood.  I am still amazed we survived through the moving and all the traveling and adjusting - it's crazy when I think back.  But we figured it out.  I hope you'll be gracious to forgive how the fatigue has affected my memory so much more fully this time around.  But even if I don't have each sweet detail perfectly documented, always know baby girl that I am present with you and your sister every day.  And even on the hard, exhausted, not so pretty days, there are always a million moments that I stand back and stare at you two in complete fascination.  I LOVE talking to you in my mama voice and just getting that big Zoe grin in return.  And the way you open those hands wide and reach out for me is the sweetest.  It's almost so amazing and surreal that I can't emotionally comprehend it a lot of the time.  I pray some day you will be blessed with little ones of your own and know just what I mean.

Some things we've grown to know and love about you....you are a mover and a shaker.  Just like in the womb.  That part does not surprise me at all.  You amaze me with how you move even while your nursing.  It's actually kind of hilarious.  And while you have always, always loved sitting on a lap and listening to books being read, most other times you are wiggly and busy.  You do love being worn in the carrier and you ADORE being in the stroller and walking.  It's the sweetest contentment.  You are curious and determined, you have sort of rushed through the stages and I just go with it, even though I certainly don't encourage it. ;) You hardly did any baby food at all, and are a champ at eating.  That's what's sweet about you...as much as you do not want to be alone or too far from somebody else, you are the most flexible little gal.  You really do go with the flow and honestly just want to have a good time.

Which leads me to what everyone has noticed first about you since the moment you were born...

you are CUTE.  So stinking cute.  A lot of times I write a little update blog post in my head and I always want to start with, "She's so cute I can't stand it."  Seriously baby girl, you smile with your whole face.  You lean your head back and giggle your little heart out.  You are the easiest person to photograph because you've always looked right at me and smiled.  You love when someone looks at you, notices you, loves on you....and you always reward with the biggest, toothiest, happiest smile.  You have a sweet, curious, playful little heart, and I'm so glad you are mine.

There is no way I could write about you without talking about your very best friend...your sister Selah. It brings me the greatest joy ever to see the way you two love each other.  It's amazing and fascinating and I am so beyond thankful that you have one another.  Every morning you are both so eager to see each other.  Selah still calls you "Yo-ee,"  but I can tell she's about to transition out of that.  For the first 6 months at least it was "Baby."  It's all been so cute I don't rush any of it away.  No one makes you smile like she does, and you want to participate in whatever she is doing.  She absolutely adores you Zoe, don't ever forget that.  Even now when you are really starting to let your own personality and preferences shine, and you two get in some little squabbles, I still see you are for each other and your friendship is deep.  I pray that is always true, even as the squabbles potentially get a little more intense throughout life.  You are best friends and God has blessed you deeply by giving you to one another.  Selah has always looked out for you and wanted what's best for you since the day you joined our family.  She is always telling mama what baby sister needs. :)

And now the night before your very first birthday.  It's crazy, truly.  Though I may be obviously really tired, I am even more thankful.  This role is special, this life is special, every single little minute we have together is so special.  Every day, every month, every year I hope I'm growing at this mothering privilege.  I'll never forget a moment I had with you at my 6 week dr.'s appointment after you were born.  I looked at you and knew deep in my heart you would not be interested in staying a baby for long.  I knew you'd always need me, but there has always been a sparkle in your eye to grow and live and move and explore.  I pray my heavenly Father keeps leading me to know how to love and lead you best.  It's a big role and I'm having a whole lot of fun, even when the days bring tears.  I love you Zoe Joy.  We all love you so very much.  Your daddy is so proud of you and so delighted by you.  We love how you crawl right up into our laps and hug us tight around the neck when we are sitting on the floor. Or how anytime we get you out of your crib you give us the biggest squeeze.  You even already love giving kisses and smacking your little lips together.  You amaze me sweet thing.  I'm excited to continue celebrating you tomorrow on your big day.  It's been fun to celebrate you already with our families.  God created you for a purpose precious girl, and I pray he pursues your heart more and more every day, and that you would be drawn into relationship with him and trust him with your whole heart.  Here's to year two with you Zoe Joy Marie...we are sure looking forward to it!  Happy almost birthday sweet one. :)


The Only Relief in Grief

Grief can be wearying.  It often feels like a struggle to want to make sense of what feels awful, while actually having to surrender the reality.  It's a fight to selfishly want to understand and get some control over what feels like chaos, while accepting that we are the created, not the Creator...the children, not the Father.  It can grip your heart, invade your dreams, tempt you with fears.  It is shocking when you least expect it.  Sometimes it is lonely and confusing.  Though the process might be natural, that doesn't mean it's comfortable.

We are continuing to grieve over the loss of our dear friend Kristen Sauder.  It does not feel right that we have lost her from this life.  My guess was true a couple weeks ago when I assumed we would only miss this precious friend more and more as the days passed.  It feels like the wind gets knocked out of me when I want to pick up my phone and text her, or when I so desperately wish for another conversation...another experience of her sweet smile, her infectious laugh, her deep, soulful, Jesus seeking wisdom.  When I want to see her sweet family, all together.  When I think of all the lessons, the teaching, the memories, the moments, the experiences shared, her incredible family...it aches.  I did not get to know her long enough.  We are in a new place and a new ministry and talk about her all the time, trying to explain to people just who this amazing woman was, and how she so greatly influenced our lives...and it always brings me to tears.  It feels sweet but sad when my daughter recites her first "Picture Scripture."  I want to be able to share with Kristen face to face what a difference she's making in my family.  I'm constantly thinking, "we need her here."  Actually I believe the whole world needs her here.  I want her here for her family.  For her husband to love, adore and enjoy, for her children to have her affections, her leadership, her friendship.  For more memories to be made here.  She was an amazing wife and mother.  And I know I don't even know the depth of how amazing they know her to be.  We are really hurting for them.  It's actually incredible how intensely she and Kurt have affected every area of our family and ministry.   How they are intertwined forever in how we seek after Jesus, long to know his word while shining our light for him, and prayerfully lead our children to as well.

So we have had some seriously sad days, continuing to hurt and question, to wonder and seek the Lord and his truth in all this.  Just like the day she went to be with Jesus, I randomly have times where I feel like someone is taking a bat to my knees and I might fall on my face.  There are moments it grips me painfully hard, especially when I am focused on my own understanding, or lack thereof.

There is only one thing that brings me relief, that picks me up from a low place when I am tempted to stay there...

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an ETERNAL GLORY that far outweighs them all.  So we FIX OUR EYES not on what is seen, but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Now we know if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
LONGING to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
because when we are clothed, will not be found naked.
For while we are in this tent we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our HEAVENLY DWELLING, 
so that
what is mortal may be swallowed up by LIFE.
Now it is GOD who has made us for this VERY PURPOSE
and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
(2 Corinthians 4:17-5:5)

Do you know what brings me relief in grief?  It is in the knowing, in the realizing that if we think what we are living here on earth is LIFE, then we are greatly deceived.  A body and "life" that is mortal has an end.  REAL LIFE does not end..."real" life is abundant, eternal, EVERLASTING.  There is no grief in "real" life!  It is actually a gift of grace from our Father that we are allowed to know so much joy, beauty, and goodness in these earthly, mortal dwellings.

We must fix our eyes on Jesus.  We are like grasshoppers you all.  This is serious.  Open up to the Psalms, or to Isaiah, and get to know the One who made you.  When I think about me, my plans, my purpose, my understanding, I am not in a good place.  But when I crack open my bible, pour over those divinely inspired words, and turn the worship music up loud, I dwell on the character of God, the sovereignty of my Creator, and I know peace.  I admit I wanted him to answer our fervent intercession for her life differently.  Yet that is my own understanding.  I do not know the plans, but He knows them well...they are his.  They are good plans.  Kristen said so herself on her blog.  This "life" on earth is but a vapor, a mist, a breath.  What awaits us is an eternal glory that far outweighs it all.

We aren't here for ourselves...we are here for HIM, so that one day all may come to him.  We are here right now for the opportunity to know him forever and be known by him here and experience it now and then.  There is work to be done here, and a relationship with our heavenly Father to be poured into here.  He will give us rest for our weary souls.  

While this time often has a sad stillness lingering over it, like how can we move forward in life and ministry without a woman who led us and loved us so well through it, that is exactly what we have to do.  We will continue to enjoy her sweet self by sharing memories of her, spurring each other on with all she taught us and poured out with her life.  In honor of her, for the sake of Christ.  Kristen was battling boldly for the purpose of her Lord.  She wanted ALL to come to the saving knowledge of him.  She prayed for and sought after revival.  The Jesus whose feet she sits at now, is the very one she longed for all to be in relationship with.  I will carry on equipped with the Word of the Lord, and spurred on with the encouragement of a sister who faithfully laid out the path.  You know how she knew the path?  She knew Jesus.  And now she KNOWS him.  EVERY time I want to ask her what I should do in a certain situation, I KNOW what she would say...pray.  Take it to Jesus.  Get on your knees.  Work it out in your journal, look for it in scripture,go back and forth in conversation with him.   Be relentless in your seeking after him.  He exists to be found, so do the searching!  Offer yourself to the good plans he has for here, which have significance that lasts way beyond.

I hurt with her family and her friends, her loved ones, and all who just don't want to see any sort of future without her right here in the present.  Oh how there was so much more "life" here to be lived with her.  But oh how short this "light and momentary" present will really turn out to be.

You might think you want it all here friends.  But trust me, you don't.  There is so much more at stake.  

I wrote out almost all of 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 in my journal yesterday.  Read it.  Read all around it.  It is rich and good.  It is life-giving.  Earlier in the chapter Paul writes,

"We are hard-pressed on every side,
but not crushed;
but not in despair;
but not abandoned;
Struck down,
but not destroyed.

We always carry in our bodies the death of Jesus, 
so that 
the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body....
All this is for your benefit,
SO that
the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to OVERFLOW to the GLORY OF GOD.
Therefore, we DO NOT LOSE HEART."

I do not know what you personally are going through, but do not lose heart.  I could have saved you all the reading of this post by simply typing out the oh-so-powerful lyrics of "Come to Me," sung by Jenn Johnson.  It is on an intense repeat for me right now.  This is my anthem.  This is what he's calling us to do friends.  Run there, meet him there.  Keep your eyes on him.  He's all you need.

I am the Lord your God,
I go before you now.
I stand beside you
I’m all around you
And though you feel I’m far away
I’m closer than your breath
I am with you
More than you know

I am the Lord your peace
No evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind
Come into my rest
And oh, let your faith arise
And lift up your weary head
I am with you
Wherever you go

Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m everything
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m your everything

I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
And I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you
I’m your faithful strength
And I am with you
Wherever you go

Don’t look to the right or to the left, keep your eyes on me
You will not be shaken, you will not be moved

I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way
Just come to me, come to me
Cause I’m all that you need


The Anchor Holds

"I have fought the good fight, 
I have finished the race, 
I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

Kristen most certainly did.  Last Wednesday morning, our friend and sister in Christ,  Kristen Sauder, went home to be with Jesus.

Kevin and I have been friends with the Sauder family for several years, we were in ministry with them in Louisville for a season, and have stayed with their children on several occasions. We have a deep, deep love for them.  They have both mentored us, loved us, encouraged us, prayed for us, and believed in us.  We hold dear our memories with this faithful family.  We are heartbroken.

There are no words adequate to describe the journey we have been on this past 13 months, battling for our sister in prayer, seeking the Lord to show himself faithful, to restore life to this precious woman of God.  We have wept and wept, clung to one another for comfort, covered her four amazing children and beloved husband in the strongest prayer we know how.  This really, really hurts.

It is a gut-wrenching kind of pain to lose a life so precious, so impactful, so significant to so many.  We really, really miss her presence with us here....and that reality will not go away.  Here's the truth I've concluded.  This life on earth...it will rip your heart out.  And honestly, I know I don't have to convince most of you of that, because you already know.  Yet God is GOOD, his Word is TRUE, and he sent his son that we may have abundant LIFE.  He did not intend for death.  That is the very reason it is awful.  Death is not from our Creator, our Father, our Healer and Redeemer.  Death is dark, it is intended by the evil one to steal, kill, and destroy.  We know the minute it happens that this is not how it was meant to be.  While we are here we are meant to be longing fully for heaven, to be in the presence of Jesus.  You might remember only 18 months ago when I wrote about the loss of our brother in Christ, Matt D, due to a heartbreaking tragedy. While we rejoice for him and know that the Lord is always healing, the heartache of that loss remains.  At the time he was on staff with Kristen's husband Kurt, as well as with my husband.  When we celebrated his life I sat right beside Kristen, worshipped and wept with her.  Honestly, this just feels shocking and surreal.  But just as it was true then, it is true now: we have been struck down but not destroyed.  This world is not our home...and the battle rages on.  Yet this enemy has been DEFEATED.  We are in the presence of the mighty God of angel armies and he ALWAYS has the final say.  Kristen is home, where God intended and longs for us all to be, and she is more ALIVE than she's ever been before.  It does not matter what pain-inducing attempts the enemy makes to strike us and shake us and convince us that we are abandoned....he is WEAK.

He knows who holds the future and the VICTORY.  We are not abandoned, we are not alone, we will not be shaken....God is FOR US.  Jesus reigns forever.  (worshipping to this today)  He is FAITHFUL.  He WILL sustain the Sauder family, and get them through the hardest of days.  We will be battling in prayer for Him to do so.  He will work mightily throughout the entire community she left.  His promises are good and true, and we can stand firmly on them.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible, right at the top of my list of life leading verses, is Isaiah 40:21-22:

"Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood since the earth was found.  
He sits ENTHRONED above the circle of the earth, and its people are like GRASSHOPPERS. 
           He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in."

I actually could write out all of Isaiah 40.  There is so much rich, comforting, ground shaking truth....
our Lord sits enthroned above the earth and we are like grasshoppers.  It is crazy because it's impossible for us to comprehend, we are unable to even fully take in what this means.  I don't love this verse because it is the most comforting at first glance...but it is what assures me that the Rock I put my faith and trust in is worthy, faithful, and immovable.  He is SOVEREIGN.  Life here does not happen by chance, and there is a Ruler over all...and he is GOOD.  I am like a grasshopper in comparison...who am I to question my Creator, THE Creator?!  Here are some other verses that God is using to assure my heart through this...

Psalm 18 "I love you O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.  My God is my ROCK in whom I take refuge.  He is my SHIELD and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is WORTHY OF PRAISE, and I am saved from my enemies....

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless, He is a shield for all who take refuge in him....it is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect....

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.  The statutes of the Lord are TRUSTWORTHY, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the Lord are RIGHT, giving JOY to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are RADIANT, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is PURE, enduring forever.  The ordinances of the Lord are SURE and altogether righteous.  They are more precious than gold; they are sweeter than honey....

I am STILL confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
WAIT for the Lord.  Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord!

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.  
The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with PEACE."

Psalm 31 - "I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.  You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place...

Be merciful to me, O Lord, for  I am in distress;
my eyes grow weary with sorrow.
My soul and my body with grief.
My life is consumed with anguish and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak....

But I TRUST IN YOU, O Lord; I say, "You are my God."  My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies, and from those who pursue me.  Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love...How great is your goodness; which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men, on those who take refuge in you.

So our church family in Louisville, alongside Kristen's family and other dear friends, are in a time of grieving for the loss of this lovely, passionate, and mighty woman/warrior of God who we all asked God so fervently to allow to remain with us for a longer time....while we are left here on earth to carry on.  Yet we are also joined together to PRAISE him through this pain, not only because we know he is worthy of praise, in every season, but because that is what our friend Kristen led us to do all throughout her courageous battle with cancer.  God is sovereign in a way that we cannot comprehend and often don't even like.  Our understanding is so limited....we often want answers but have to remember again and again that He IS the answer.  We ask why he would allow pain like this to people who are seeking hard after him, to a family who is as devoted to him as any person you will ever find.  And he responds by telling us to TRUST.  To seek after him and to WAIT.  That was part of the message given at her funeral, truly a celebration of her life.  God asks us to trust who he says he is, and to look to him for strength for the days we have to endure until we can be with him as well.  He has the final say, he knows what he's doing, and his plan is to bring all to him.  His plan is for good, and he knows this time on earth is a vapor, a mist, a breath.  We feel like the joy should be found here, but He knows the JOY is found in him and with him.  His ways are not our ways, but we do know that we are all on our way to the plans he has for us. Good plans for those who love him.   And we do know that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.   He intends for us to do the work!  It won't be long until the ultimate redemption is realized, until all is made new, until all is made whole, until we can be with our friend Kristen and many other loved ones again.  Yet his work on earth is not finished and he asks those of us devoted to him to sow, sow, sow.  Do not hesitate, do not waste another minute waiting to share the salvation intended for all.  If God is waiting to make his return until the work is done, then we certainly need to increase the effort.

The spiritual temperature is rising, do not doubt that for a minute.

God is on the move, there is a battle at hand.  The enemy prowls around and won't stop at anything to try and manipulate our focus off of the very fact that we are in the middle of the battle.  He wants us to want it all here on earth, to believe that this is all there is.  To think there's no such thing as eternal significance.  A place where it is all about us, and now and 'live for today.'

 Do not think it is a coincidence when you are tempted on all sides, when you can't seem to find time to read the Word, when prayer seems too difficult or boring, when you feel hate or judgment for those around you or spend your time invested in things that don't matter...or things that frankly bring zero glory to God.  There is an enemy intentionally at work here.  But the good news is still the GOOD NEWS.  We have broken all of our promises and fall flat on our faces in failure to live honorably before the Lord we belong to.  Yet He, in his gracious mercy and love, out of the kindness that He is, sacrificed his only son to pay the price so His promise of redemption and eternal, abundant, amazing LIFE would belong to ALL who believe and surrender their lives back to him.  He has armed us for this battle.  Run to Him.  Ask him to change you with life shattering truths when you open your Bible.  Then open it.  Make an appointment with him and be changed by your encounter with your Creator.  You will find no rejection.  The invitation is always open.

As much as our world is desperately trying to become a very "gray" place to live, do not be deceived.  You do have to choose a side.  To either be following the Spirit's lead, or living by the flesh.  The scariest place to be is one where you think all of your choices are not either born of the flesh OR born of the Spirit.  The power of the Holy Spirit is a great one, and leads only to life.  This is not a battle against flesh and blood, but a spiritual battle, and the forces of evil futilely working to steal, kill, and destroy lives do not rest.  BUT they are weak, they will not have the final say, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit, the very same power Jesus had when he stood up to the enemy here on earth. God is love, and he draws us to himself, so that very love can flow through us onto a hurting and lost world.

You might think this is the grief talking...and it definitely is.  But that's because if God gets the glory and he works ALL things together for the good of those who love him, then let that goodness start now.  It has never felt more real or clear to me that this world has nothing for me, and this earth is not our home.  What a privilege that He even allows us to know so much joy here.

Honestly, we all wanted so desperately for Kristen to live....here, with us, right now.  She was doing a mighty work here on earth for the glory of the Lord with her family.  She was FAITHFUL.  I still want her to be here, I wanted many more days of knowing her, learning from her, following her lead in life and ministry, enjoying her friendship.  I love her children with an intense love, and I want them to be able to be held by their mother for longer here.  That's because I am still so human, so earthly unable to grasp that her present reality is the REWARD she lived for.  She is alive.  For now I only know in part.  The truth is, over time God will be faithful to heal our hearts in some way.  But with each new season of life, a soul like Kristen's will only be missed more.  God has created us with a longing for Heaven.  So if you've ever wondered if this is all there is, a life that inevitably keeps offering pain, the answer is joyfully no.  More awaits than I can comprehend.

I have so, so much more to share about this sweet soul we lost, the impact she had on me, the legacy she has left, and all that she has taught me, especially in this last year as we were forever changed by learning to fervently seek after the Lord.  But for now I felt the desperate need to share what I know without a doubt is truly needed for us to do...

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace."

Fix your eyes fully on Jesus my friends, and this earth and the sorrow it tries to weigh us down with will be dimmed.  Kristen most certainly knew this and lived this....she drew ALL of us to this...and now she worships right there in his presence, she is rewarded in full.  She would want you to know this....God loves you so much, more than you can imagine.  He is inviting you to come and see the abundant life he has for you too.  He is waiting for YOU.  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)  Kristen absolutely did, and we are so thankful for how it has radically changed us all.  We will miss her every day until the Lord takes us home too.

Please, please pray for Kristen's husband Kurt, and their children.  They are experiencing the most intense kind of grief.  Their sadness is so deep....yet their faith remains unshaken.  They know the Lord is faithful and that He will carry them.  Also read her story and hear Kristen's very own heart on their blog, Further Still.  There you can also find resources, authored by her and her husband, that will change your life.

Kristen did this interview a little over a month ago, after she was told she had 5 days to live.  Take this amazing woman's words to heart.  "I have sought the Lord and I have found him....when your worst nightmare comes true, the anchor holds.  I am with the One who loves me."

When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!!

(If the video doesn't show up, click on the word 'post' to go to it.)


Blog Post Catch Up/Overload

Hi friends! I'm back in a big/kind of crazy way. ;) I have been writing here and there over the last several months, and last weekend worked hard to add pictures to the blogs I've written and get them ready to post. So I'm doing that now, back dating a couple because it just makes sense to me in my head to do it that way, posting them when I wrote them. So hopefully that doesn't create some pretty annoying blog feeds, but at least I'll be caught up! I hate feeling behind, and I'd love to start writing right where I'm at. To make it easier to read all the posts, (which I'm really only expecting from my mom and mother-in-law, let's be honest ;), I'm linking to them here. A LOT has happened with our little family over the last several months, which why I'm excited to finally be documenting it here. Going through the process of working on these has humbled me all over again with how God is working in our lives. And how our loving Father is always pouring out so much to be thankful for.

Here are the links to my posts:

Zoe - 1 month
Zoe - 2 months
Zoe - 3 months
On An Adventure (the first time I wrote after WE MOVED)
Zoe - 4 and 5 months
Selah is 2/Life Update
Zoe - 6 and 7 months

So yes, you can read all about how our family moved...apparently after those crazy newborn months we didn't think we needed a rest. ;) So we headed off to IN when Zoe was 4 months old and Selah was almost 2. We were sent off with an abundance of love and prayer, though it was an especially tough time. Not a particularly easy move for us. It took a lot of prayer and what felt like courage to leave a place we loved and amazing, irreplaceable relationships. We will always be missing friends and family in Louisville, but I'm so thankful for how our new church family has been amazing in welcoming us here. We were sent off joyfully with so much support and wisdom from our Southeast church family, (where Kevin worked for the last 7 yrs. - for my blog world friends ;), and we moved to Indiana on mission to keep doing the work He has for us. We are so grateful for having been taught and prepared the way we were at Southeast. We are excited to be a part of our new church family, where Kevin is the Small group/Discipleship pastor, as well as having opportunities to preach. God is clearly at work here and we are excited to join him on this adventure. After only being here for a few months, I can honestly say we're really loving being here. We've had our ups and downs in the moving process, (along with moments of shock), but God has been faithful to continue going before us.

To our friends and family, THANK YOU does not adequately express how much we appreciate your prayers and encouragement through this. It is amazing to experience the kind of support we did before moving, as well as what we have after. Definitely overwhelming in the best possible way. So here I am, back online, where this is hopefully just the start of sharing all God is teaching me on this journey....in ministry, in motherhood, and in life. What a privilege to be created by such a loving Father, and pursued by him everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!!


Zoe - 6 and 7 months!

Well, I feel like I started writing this post when Zoe turned 6 months, but obviously didn't get finished. And now she's 7 months old as of last Friday!  Whew, slow down with this growing up little babies!  6 months was a huge turning point/growth spurt for Zoe, much like 3 months was. From 4-6 months she remained just happy to be held or touched, or loved on. The girls and I developed quite the rhythm of getting out and about and having fun, especially because our town lends itself to lots of walking, parks, and storytimes. I always get Zoe out first, put her in my Pikkolo carrier, then get Selah so I can hold her hand. And Zoe was happy to just hang out with me, no matter what we were doing. She is still that way mostly. She used to easily fall asleep while being worn. But in the last couple weeks she has refused to miss out on the action. And just a couple days ago she started sitting next to Selah during storytime, and wanting to be out and about and on the move when we're somewhere. I remember this time with Selah too...it's such a shift from sleepy bitty baby to excited about life older baby! This past month has had so many new things for baby Zoe...TWO bottom teeth, sitting up on her own, crawling on her knees, dumping the dog bowl, not falling asleep in the baby carrier, wanting to be with her sister and participate during outings, and napping at the same time as her sister - yay for mommy!!

These two could not love each other more!  
And even big sister can't resist those squishy cheeks :)

Oh how I adore these two.  And trust me, they both have the cutest dose of silly as part of their personalities!  This will be so fun to keep watching within our family dynamics.  Now that Selah is talking all the time she is cracking us up.  I have no doubt Zoe will be much the same!

This is a signature Zoe face.  She can curl the best lip, 
and sometimes it's just to be silly!

 It's so funny because both Kevin and I thought that the first 6 months were pretty similar for Zoe...the same squishy, snuggly baby who has an old soul and notices everything.  Kevin said once, "I don't feel like she's changed at all."  Which isn't true, but she did really hold steady with her personality and preferences.  Even the cashier at Trader Joe's the other day said she seems so much older just by the way she looks at you. It's funny. I have always said about Zoe that she has never preferred being a baby, and is in a bit of a rush to grow out of it! That said, Zoe seems to have two moods...super duper happy, or super duper not. ;) As I mentioned before, baby girl cried so much those first few months. And she was not a long napper. She really seemed to thrive on movement and closeness. She was literally like this from day one too.  It has definitely been so sweet to get to know her more and more.  I think I'll make a list to commemorate this little 7 months old of mine.  Maybe 7 things about my littlest baby girl.

ONE:  My sweet girl needs her mama.  She's always been one who wants to be close and where I am.  Two days ago she went from her army crawling that she's been doing for a month and a half, to full on crawling on her knees!!  What is happening around here?!  It's adorable though, and she is THRILLED to be so mobile.  One thing that's made it easier to embrace her "growing up" is we've always known the more she can control her position the happier she'll be!  She's also sitting up great, and though I hate to admit it...she pulled herself up today.  Boo hoo, baby's growing up!  It really is crazy, the first baby you kind of expect to get bigger, and wait to see what's next.  The next baby you say, "Slow down little one, no need to rush out of this stage to the next!"  But anyone who has kids or loves kids knows that the next new thing they learn just adds to the fun and wonder of childhood and getting to be a parent.   She has always loved to reach out and hold on to something.  When I'm feeding her she grabs my chin, mouth, or nose.  If I wear her she holds my shirt or the carrier.  She has quite the grip and it's always been a part of who she is!

Zoe crawled over to the stack of books we just brought
 home from the library and sat right down on one of them.
  So far both my girls are sweet little readers, after their mommy and daddy's hearts!

TWO: Zoe is CUTE.  She has the roundest little head, she's always loved to have it rubbed, and she has the sweetest, squishiest little cheeks.  I think she also has such beautiful hands.  She's always moved them so sweet and delicately.  Everywhere she goes she's told she's a beautiful baby, and she just gives that big grin in return.  God definitely gave this girl a sparkle and a joy to share with the world!  She also seems to be a little more compact like her mama.  Which I think is sweet.  She also has the most adorable rolls and always has.  Another way she's so different than her sister.  From day one my two sweet girls have each shown they are their own unique little gals.  I'm excited to see how their similarities and differences will come to life more and more in our family and through their friendship.

THREE: Baby girl LOVES TO MOVE.  She is my little wiggle worm.  I will never forget one morning leading Bible study at church last winter and saying, "I think my baby girl wants to come out!"  She was always leaping and lurching and kicking when she was in my belly.  It was crazy sometimes.  One day I was in Trader Joe's and thought people might be looking at me funny because my belly was moving out of control.  Ha.  Well, the same little lady is quite the gymnast outside the womb.  It's hilarious the way she eats.  It's not this peaceful, stare into my baby's eyes experience.  She twists and turns her body the whole time.  And she eats quick - 5 to 7 min. max.  Crazy compared to last time!  It's actually hilarious how used to it I am.  I LOVE how God prepares and equips us to be mamas to such unique and different children.  Though it can take some work and lots of prayer, it's such a fun adventure to the parenting journey for sure.  Zoe's been rocking the super fast army crawl for about a month, but just this past week she discovered the ability to go from room to room.  As much as she loves to be where we are, she has developed a new drive to explore every corner.  Time to close the doors and put up the gates! :)  This baby girl makes a beeline for the water bowl every time.  And if anyone is on the floor she wants to crawl all over them.  It's hilarious, and if Selah doesn't want her to get into something she'll say, "Yo-ee (Zoe) Mommy hold."

One of the first days when Zoe started rocking on those knees at the beginning of this month.

FOUR: Zoe totally did a 180 and turned fussy into flexible and FUN.  I had gushing milk at the beginning and I have no idea if that contributed to her colicky nature those first few months.  But even if it did, she always, always hated being flat on her back, from day one in the hospital.  Which makes safe sleeping tough.  (and reiterates my love for the rock-n-play!)  This baby girl rolled onto her tummy at 3 months and 4 days and has never ever slept on her back since then.  Which didn't even make me nearly as nervous, even when she was tiny, because it helped so much with her sleeping.  It's funny because while I didn't get to have long, luxurious times of sitting and holding her, taking her all in, much like I did with her sister, I did get to hold her and love on her a lot while walking, moving, bouncing, doing life, etc.  So I still got my precious newborn, once-in-a-lifetime snuggles, they were just a little more active than last time.  And now she still loves to be involved in any and everything.  She is up for anything, anytime, just as long as she gets to see what's going on or participate....and as long as she's not alone. :)  The girl needs her people for sure.  Even though she's always on the go, she will happily give a snuggle session anytime!

FIVE:  Baby girl is not a big fan of sleep.  She has certainly gotten better, but this sweet gal could party all night and day long it seems.  Her daddy just said the other day he thinks she might be one of those who doesn't need much.  Uh, I would have to disagree...that is NOT in her genes. ;)  The other 3 people in her family actually love a good snooze.  But true to her 'life of the party' self she sure loves music.  She even just started bouncing to it during our dance parties which is awesome!  At first I wasn't really sure she was doing it, but today I tested it and it was so cute.  Definitely need a video.  She also loves to put everything in her mouth.  She is a chewer for sure, and will keep me on my toes with the things she finds to gnaw on.  I could have stopped with she will keep me on my toes.

SIX: Zoe LOVES HER SISTER.  And she has a sister that absolutely ADORES her.  I teach the girls that they are best friends and talk to them about how to treat each other in light of that.  My prayer is constantly that they would be so blessed to share life together and be best friends the whole way.  And neither one is as happy as they would be if the other is not there.  Yet they both are happy to have their one on one time when they need it.  It is so sweet how Selah gets upset if she hurts Zoe, whether on accident or on purpose.  And if Selah starts crying then Zoe looks at her and thinks she should be crying.  The drama is thick here you all.  That is definitely in their genes, I have to say!  Their daddy and I take all the responsibility for that.

Look at those sweet and squishy legs!  And yes, for 10 days during the move
I used disposables...that was a GREAT decision for my sanity :)

Selah had her crib in the main room for awhile after we moved for various reasons,  and would always say, "Baby in," after she woke up from her nap.  So I would let them snuggle together in there, which they both always love.

She was not sitting on her.  And no, I do not let her do this.  But that's
not to say she doesn't try!  

How hilarious is this?  
Selah got a baby picture of mine and set it right in between them.  Ha!

SEVEN: Zoe is a daughter I always dreamed of.  She and her sister both.  Oh how I could never have imagined how amazing these days would be.  I cannot believe He is giving Kevin and I this amazing honor and privilege of loving two little girls, being filled with joy as we experience life with our daughters.  God has taught me so much through Selah and Zoe, (and motherhood in general).  One lesson I'm finally learning is to be gracious with my children and gracious with myself.  Being a mom is hard work, but amazing work.  It hits me all the time that I am living the answers to years and years of prayers when I longed to hold my own sweet babies in my arms.  And every day when I'm juggling these two sweet girls, through constant diapers to change, meals to make, training to follow Jesus, obey mommy and daddy, and be kind...I am thankful.  I don't always have a great attitude or get everything done that I think I "should."  But I will tell you this....I do not take this life for granted.  The Lord is so gracious to give us these days to make memories with these little ones.  And wow, how I've learned so much more about his love for me.  I am reading the book Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson and it is amazing.  Rocking my world in the best way.  God has shown me some of my faulty thinking while I have been reading it and saying, "Oh my goodness yes!  This is exactly for me...this speaks straight to my heart."  But at the same time thinking no one else must need that encouragement.  Yet somehow it is growing quickly in popularity and I've heard others say it has been amazing to them as well.  That alone gave me so much peace to know....I am not alone.  I am not the only one who struggles with different aspects of motherhood even while I embrace my littles so completely.  The enemy might attack me and want me to believe that I am alone and crazy and everyone else has it together.  But my Father in heaven gently calms me and says, "Fix your eyes on me, not the world.  I will give you rest and be all you need as you train up these sweet ones in righteousness.  Know me...love me...seek me, and be graceful with others."  

It is my desperate cry that we as mothers and even those who long to be mothers would be one another's greatest encouragers.  That we wouldn't make it our place to judge or overly advise when listening and praying for is what is required.  That we could embrace how uniquely the Lord has designed us all, and how each must follow the convictions the Spirit has placed in her own life.  I think a lot of freedom will come from that.  Shocking realization:  There is not one way to raise these little people, not one way to parent.  We all certainly have our preferences and opinions, but outside of what the Bible teaches, God leaves a lot left to need to come to him for in the way of wisdom and learning.  Which is why we have to be asking Him to lead the way.  We are raising kingdom workers, prayer warriors, and God's children.  That is big time.  We need each other and we sure need Jesus.  There is rarely a day when I go to a story hour and don't meet someone new.  And whenever I ask about them or hear a little bit of their story I see over and over women needing to be encouraged on this journey.  If you go to any events like this throughout the week, I encourage you to always, always talk to someone you don't know.  Show them some sort of kindness and learn their name.  Smile, be sweet to their baby, let them go first.  It is such an opportunity to be a light and show love to another mom who just needs to know she is noticed and she's doing a good job.  

Well, I think that will wrap it up for now!  I am excited to be "caught up" with some of these blogs I've been partially writing so that I can start writing as it happens now.  I feel like there are so many details I'm always wanting to blog about, or heart stuff I want to share, but needed to catch myself up first.