For those considering Easter…

Social media is a peculiar place. It is a platform that proves to be a blessing when you want to stay connected to new and old friends around the world. It is also a tragic place full of judgement and harsh words that cowardly people are empowered to use because a computer screen is separating them from the real people that their words are wounding.

Christians aren’t exempt from this new-age debacle. I would imagine you, like me, have seen ugly words from ‘christians’ on your social media screens who have mixed their spiritual life with an extreme form of politics and proudly boasted their support of men and women who represent much that is opposed to the way of Jesus. Likewise, many without a Christian world-view who would still say they are proponents of peace have found their way into my newsfeed attacking anyone with world-views that they don’t understand.

I’ve found that the cure for this WIDE gap of misunderstanding is proximity.

Last night, twenty or so college students filled my house for dinner and I would imagine many of them see the world through a different lens than I do. I would imagine we voted for different leaders and we read very different books. Some of them pray to the same God I do and some of them don’t pray at all. But proximity, being near to each other and sharing a meal, breaks down our borders. I see myself in them and they see themselves in me. While we may disagree on much, they hold my kiddos gentle in their arms and I adore them.

So this Holy Week, when millions of Christians are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus around the world, I would like to extend a virtual arm of proximity. I’ll be candid with you and you can try to love me in spite of how differently we might see the world. If you’re considering Easter this year, let me tell you about why I follow this Jesus who we believe was crucified on Friday and rose back to life on Sunday, defeating death and sin forever. 

Last Sunday I didn’t want to go to church. Just being candid. I wanted to sit at home in pjs and read. But there’s something sacred about gathering around with other people on their faith journeys. So we went. And while I was sitting in worship, self absorbed in my daunting to-do list for the day, we started singing. Slowly my eyes started looking up.

I saw the couple who ministers at the jail sitting with the woman they call friend who just happens to be an ex-convict.

I saw the teen mom and teen dad snuggling their adorable one year old and singing loud songs of praise to the God who has carried them through a big journey for people so young to take.

I saw the young woman I adore who God made with different abilities than you and I and her arms raised high in praise to the Jesus she loves.

Then as a ragamuffin body of Jesus followers, we started talking to Him. A woman behind me prayed for her dying friend. Someone prayed for the hopeless and asked God to give them mercy. Men prayed for each other and the struggles they are facing. And the man who struggles with addiction and has found himself behind bars started praying for our government. He asked Jesus to be with the leaders of our state and nation. He told Jesus thank you for them. He prayed the most loving prayers over men and women who didn’t think twice about locking him up. And while he prayed, this man was sitting right next to an affluent couple who look so put together but they sat closer than acquaintances. They sat like family sits. Proximity.

If you’ve never felt broken, unable, ashamed, hopeless then I assume you aren’t considering Easter much this year.

I lived those years. But my heart was so empty by the time I was 18, I couldn’t take much more. Partying only satisfied me one night at a time. I felt broken and full of shame about my choices. I longed to be loved unconditionally but I knew that if there was a holy, perfect God, I didn’t have much in common with Him. I doubted love could be found in some heavenly being or spiritual rituals.

Jesus agreed. So He chose proximity.

God has always perfectly existed. Glory. He was happy and fulfilled lacking no good thing. But we were far from him and unable to make ourselves perfect. Our sin problem caused suffering, fear, and brokenness of every kind. Christmas tells part of the story. God chose to put on flesh like a robe and leave the glory of heaven to become a helpless baby. He chose to be near. God with us.

Easter tells us the rest of the story. Jesus lived the perfect life that no one else has ever been able to live. He never chose selfishness or pride. He never let ambition cloud his love for others. He never failed to obey God His Father even when it costs his reputation dearly. He chose poverty when he could have easily been clothed in riches. He chose mercy when He was able to stand in judgement. And while his followers tried to follow in his footsteps, failing miserably, he loved them and washed their feet.

Perfect love clothed in flesh because he knew we needed proximity. Then he chose to die as a sacrifice for our sin. Nails didn’t hold him on the cross, love did. And when he chose to die, it was to ruin the power of sin and death so we could be his children. Instead of only knowing there is a Holy God, we can be known fully and loved fully by Jesus, our Redeemer.

So this week if you are considering Easter and we were sitting around the dinner table, I would want you to know that no matter what lifestyle you lead or choices you make, you are loved.  I know a God who is so busy being crazy about you, He doesn’t have any time to dislike you. Any rebellion you’ve chosen doesn’t phase Him a bit. Before you were born, He took care of it.

And this Holy Week, if you would like to know more about this Jesus, friend of sinners, you can talk to Him. He is alive and listening. Always near. Proximity matters to Him.

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10 Days of Easter

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Y’all might not know all that much about me… You might not know that I get anxious just talking about dental work (like poop my pants anxious). You might not know that one of my life goals is to be on a Shark Vacuum infomercial because I love my Shark with my whole entire heart. You might not know that I have the vocabulary of a conservative sailor. Somewhere in between f-bombs and Mother Theresa is where I try to land….

BUT if you’ve ever read this blog, you know that I LOVE EASTER. My whole world view hinges on this one day. I believe with every fiber of my being that Jesus really did die and come back to life again, conquer sin forever, take the sting out of death, and make a way for us to have abundant life on earth and eternal life with God in glory. Its just a tad bit life changing.

As a family we take just about every opportunity to celebrate. “Oh you did good on a spelling pre-test? LETS GET ICE CREAM!” So you better bet, at Easter time, we go all out. I want our family to have a chance to celebrate our Risen King together. But y’all know that with kids, we can’t just sit around on the couches and sing hymns out of a hymnal and think they are going to have the time of their lives. So I’ve gotten creative about how our family celebrates Easter.

And I want to share the wealth. Its supposed to take a village right? I can’t potty train my toddler for the life of me… but 10 Days of Easter, thats my jam. So here are links to our 10 Days of Easter – Free Family Devotionals

Here is how we celebrate 10 Days of Easter with our toddlers.

Here is how we celebrate 10 Days of Easter with our preschool age kiddos. 

Here is how we celebrate 10 Days of Easter with our elementary age kiddos. 

We would love for you to join us this year! I am taking today’s sick day with fluish kiddos and printing out the materials for 10 days of Easter.

Jesus is alive, friends. And it changes EVERYTHING.

March – The Month I Love

Most mornings, when its still dark outside, I peel my tired butt out of bed and tail it to the coffee pot. Because Josh Fieleke is the man of my dreams, he makes coffee for me faithfully almost every night so that the smell can woo me out of bed in the mornings. Coffee in one hand and baby Abigail nestled in the other arm, I walk into the big girl’s bedroom and whisper them awake. Soon Josh and Micah will follow.

We do the same thing each morning. The girls climb on the couches and raise the curtains for me. Snuggled up under cozy blankets with books sprawled around us, we wait. Eventually Micah pitter patters down the hallway to join us. And finally when the light is coming, I say the same thing every morning, “Kids look! The sun is waking up!” And we watch the light consume the dark together.

As sure as dawn breaks,
    so sure is his daily arrival.
He comes as rain comes,
    as spring rain refreshing the ground.”  Hosea 6:3 MSG

And so my prayer journal repeats over and over again each day, “Good Morning Daddy.”

I need it to be true, that His arrival is so sure – daily that He is with me. I believe it to be true with my whole heart. But winter comes. And the grey about does me in. I start to feel like He might be far away or that He may have turned his face from me. There isn’t a bit of truth to those feelings but they bound in each winter. So I’ve got to watch the sun wake up and tune my heart to sing along with one of my favorite songs, “As surely as the sun will rise, you’ll come to us.” I have to watch the light creep into every corner of the darkness and remind myself of the Gospel Truth – that is what He is doing in me, even when I can’t feel it.

I know its only March 1 but can we just declare that winter is over?!?! It needs to be over. March is the month I love. March means spring is near. A reminder that what once was dead will sprout up with new life. A reminder of the empty tomb.

The most amazing thing happened on this March 1 morning. While I sat in that same spot on the couch where I watch for the sun each morning, the grey was gone. The sun was beamed in on me and it warmed my neck, down to my shoulder, and onto my arms. I bet I whispered to Him, “Thank you for that” 20 times today. Spring is coming and I’m ever so grateful. Plus Abi and I look good in florals so….LETS DO THIS SPRING!

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A week in our life…February 2018

Last year, I posted my first week in the life blog (read it here) and I am so glad I took the time to write it. Its so funny how I would have forgotten all of those little details. So this year, I am posting a new one.

Every week looks a little different for us because we have such a unique job scenario but this week has been mostly normal. So here is our week in the life:

Saturday February 3

We woke up and basically lost our minds the whole morning because JuJu was coming so that meant the kids were going nuts trying to patiently wait for her.

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At some point Saturday morning I took a pic of our clean kitchen. Hahaha its so rare these days I had to document it.

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FINALLY, Juju got here. Ruth and Lydia had spent HOURS doing their hair and makeup to get ready for JuJu’s visit.

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About an hour after Juju arrived, our sweet C and her family came over for a visit! C is Micah’s first Mom and she brought her Grandma, Mom, and one of her sisters with her. They are all like family to us and we ADORE them. We hadn’t seen her extended family since November so we had lots to catch up on and everyone had fun meeting Abi. (I don’t share pictures on our blog because one day Micah’s story will be his to share and I’ll let him be as open or private as he wants to be)

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Micah got a new green ball and he is STILL thrilled about it. After they left, Daddy went and picked up JuJu’s favorite pizza and we ate pizza and played all night. Abi had some funny faces to show off after the older 3 went to bed.

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Sunday February 4

The kids all woke up around 7 excited to play with Juju another day. Mom and I sent Josh and Ruth to church and stayed home with the littles. Abi had caught the older kids cold and was starting to act a little under the weather. When they got home from church Ruth had evidence on her face to prove that she had eaten LOTS of goodies at church.

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We snuggled all afternoon and I prepped dinner for the Super Bowl that night.

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Micah wouldn’t take off his new gloves. He literally wore them all day.

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And Lydia does in fact wear heels from the time she wakes up until she goes to bed at night.

Once dinner was ready, we ate it in the basement and watched the Super Bowl. I was tuckered out from taking care of a sick baby so she and I went to bed around 7:30.

Monday February 5

Alarms go off at 6:30. I wake kids up and immediately pour a GIANT cup of coffee. It was a fun change having Juju here still that morning. Once everyone was dressed, we ate blueberry muffins I had made the day before and Josh took the bigs to school as Juju hit the road to go home to Springfield.

It was obvious by Monday that Abi had more than a cold so I made her an appt at the Doc for 1:20. That morning Micah and I sat home and watched shows while I kept a close eye on Abi.

Josh picked up Lydia from school at 11:30 and moved a meeting with his co-leader to our house so he could watch the littles while I got Abi to the doc. Sidenote, the doctors office during cold and flu season is my worst nightmare. IMG_2291

I made an effort to not touch ANYTHING while there. So I stood for 1 and a half hours while we waited to be seen. And even though the doctor thought she wasn’t too terribly symptomatic they still did an RSV test and she tested positive.

By Monday night, Abi was having chest retractions and wheezing so Josh ordered Chinese and I packed my baby girl up and drove her to Children’s Mercy to be seen. If the doctors office is my worst nightmare during flu season, then the ER waiting room was pure hell. I stood in the corner looking like a FOOL with a blanket over our heads. Not kidding. Thankfully they said that even though her wheezing was bad, that her oxygen was ok and my nose Frieda skills were top notch. So they sent us home to keep watching her and sucking the gunk out of her nose around the clock.

Josh had the older 3 asleep when I got home. I stripped naked in the laundry room and Lysol-ed the crap out of my diaper bag. Still not kidding. Josh made me dinner and brought it to me in bed at 9pm and we fell fast asleep with Abi propped up on pillows and snuggling us.

Tuesday February 6

6:30 wake up was brutal but the kids were happy to see Abi girl smiling a little bit. Josh got the bigs ready and let me stay in bed until 7. Then we all had breakfast and Josh took them to school and he went on to work from there. Lydia was celebrating 100 days of school so she brought the cape she had made with 100 noodles hot glued to it. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays Josh and our other staff are on campus at KU most of the day.

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Having four kids is significantly lowering all my standards. So Tuesday morning after the bigs left for school, Micah picked a bag of Famous Amos cookies for his second breakfast and I didn’t even bat an eye. Its that cute smile of his. Gets me every time. IMG_2302

Tuesday would have sucked so badly BUT NURSE JACKIE TO THE RESCUE. Our dearest Jackie dropped everything and drove to Lawrence to snuggle Abi and I for the day. She’s a Pediatric nurse and she basically kept me from losing my mind all day. Jackie is like a magical fairy who shows up with gifts and joy and somehow makes everything feel lighter. I want to be like her when I grow up. Plus we got to catch up on all God is doing in each others lives.

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Once Jackie left, it was Solly life for me and Abi the rest of the day. Josh did all the picking kids up from school.

And after listing our car and getting some sketchy offers on Facebook, Josh sold our old Santa Fe to a nice old couple who swung by and picked it up around 4:30.

I had put chicken breasts in the crockpot that morning. For dinner that night we had chicken noodle soup with some egg noodles Micah and I had made and frozen the week before.

This semester, Josh goes to a Bible Study at Haskell Indian Nations University on Tuesday evenings but he stayed home to keep me sane that night. Abi was starting to feel better but I was really tired.

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They sent Josh a picture since he couldn’t be there in person. We are both so grateful for a chance to get to know students there better.

I was in bed and fast asleep by 9.

Wednesday February 7

6:45 this morning was as early as we could get up because its the da** winter and its so grey and gross. And honestly, this is the only picture I took the whole day on Wednesday. I played with the little two all morning in the basement and then swung through Dunkin on my way to pick up Lydia at 11:30 and got myself and Lydia’s teacher a big coffee to get us through the afternoon. If I’m tired at home in my pjs, I don’t know how in the world teachers do it!

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Lydia, Micah, Abi and I worked on making muffins while we waited for Ru to get out of school because on of my besties took her FIVE kids to the doc and they all tested positive for the Flu. So we finished muffins just in time and dropped them off on her porch then picked up Ruth from school.

Wednesday Josh was on campus at KU all morning and then headed to Washburn for the afternoon. He was home by 4:30 and we hung out, ate leftover soup for dinner and then Josh and Ruth went to Gymnastics while I put the little 3 to bed. Josh snapped a picture before he left because Lydia and Abi were looking all cute and snuggly.

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Thursday February 8

Up at 6:30.  The kids usually get dressed and ready right away (after giving baby Abi all the good morning snotty kisses) and then we eat breakfast, do hair, pack lunches and snacks before jumping in the van and hitting the road.

I love Thursdays this semester because Josh is off work all morning! This Thursday we registered Micah for preschool in the fall and got to stop by for circle time when we dropped off his paperwork. Seeing our favorite preschool teachers made my heart SO happy!

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After preschool, Josh took Abi, Micah and I to target to get a few things and then we headed home to let Micah nap. By this point he had caught the gross cold we all had and he was a little cranky.

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And a nap helped lots. Heres our smiley boy again.

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Friday was dress like a Pioneer Day in Ruth’s class so I made a bonnet out of hot glue and scrap fabric while I made eggs and hash browns for dinner. We ate together (one child gagged the whole time because he or she HATES potatoes)

Then Josh was out the door by 7:30 for Cru’s weekly meeting at KU. I got the kiddos to bed and was fast asleep by the time Josh got home. Sleep is hard to come by since Abi eats every 2 or 3 hours through the night so I am going to bed SO early lately.

Friday February 9

Up at 6:30 and Lydia rejoiced that it was the last day of school for the week. Ruth was so excited to dress like Laura Ingalls Wilder and I snapped a pic of Abi because she was finally starting to act like herself again and the snot was fleeing.

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Josh took the big girls to school and went to a meeting and Micah, Abi and I waited impatiently for Beth and Lucy to come over for a playdate. We had fun catching up with dear friends and then me and the kids went to pick up Lydia at 11:30.

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Friday afternoon I went to the OB for a postpartum check up and time alone was so refreshing. Its hilarious that going to the OB and reading for 30 minutes in the waiting room felt like a break! But I love this chaotic life so I’ll count my blessings.

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I got groceries on the way home and brought home frozen ravioli for us to eat for dinner. AND I spotted the box of Ninja Turtle cookies on clearance that Micah has been begging for so I grabbed those too. Micah was living his best life. He made us (disgusting) green turtle cookies to eat while we watched the Olympic opening ceremony with our friend Daniel.

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Saturday February 10

Well, Micah decided to pull an all nighter (I’ll blame the toxic cookies) and he didn’t go to sleep until 11 pm the night before. Josh crashed with him on the pull out couch so Abi, Lydia, Ruth and I stayed in bed and watched Little House on the Prairie and kids cooking shows from 6am-8am.

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When Josh woke up, I was a cranky butt so I went back to bed from 9-11:30. Dude, the grey winter plus sleepless nights had me acting like a real joy to be around. I tried to shake my grumpiness away and offered to do the girls hair and makeup.

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I was still GRUMPY so Rebecca brought me her happy lamp – the kind that makes your body make more vitamin D. And then our friend Lewen dropped by leftover bread from his bakery. Between good friends and a really loving Hubs, I started to cheer up.

Josh worked on his computer most of the afternoon because we are leading a mission trip to Greece this summer (all 6 of us!) and he needed to work out housing details. I’m grateful he works so hard and he found us a great apartment to rent!

We lounged all afternoon and I made chicken spinach Alfredo pizza for dinner. Then the kids and I made sugar cookies for their Valentine parties at school this week. Full disclosure, I got impatient and asked them to watch a show so I could finish the cookies alone.

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And then as I was falling asleep, Rebecca texted me a little bit of hope for the week.

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Well thats it for last week. Thanks for reading about a week in our ordinary, crazy, sometimes sick, wouldn’t-want-it-any-other-way-life!

Things I’m loving this month…

Here’s the deal. I am up all night long. And I am sick and tired of reading articles on my news app about influenza. My dear husband is sick of the endless flu articles I read as well, because they lead me to holler anytime my kids touch their face, “NOOOO you’re going to get flu!!!!” (Being related to me is a real walk in the park!)

So, if you are looking for a motivational piece of any sort, this is NOT the post for you. But if you happen to be wide awake all night and looking for mindless fun, then look no further, friend!

Here are some things I am loving this month in no particular order of importance:

  1. Take a Moment by United Pursuit & Will Reagan: This song is on repeat around the clock. Its particularly entertaining when all the kids are in the car screaming and I turn it up as loud as I can so I don’t lose my mind.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJT-UQsgs60

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2. My paper white finally bloomed! I took really good care of that sucker and it took FOREVER to bloom. So I was thrilled when it finally opened! However, it smelled horrific so it will be my first and last time ever growing paper whites. Next winter I will try an amaryllis.

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3. My new shoes came in the mail today and I almost gave the mail lady a hug. I’ve been boot hunting all winter because I am still wearing the knock off UGGs Josh brought home for me from China 5 years ago. The problem is that all the super cute booties aren’t that practical because lets-be-honest I don’t really go anywhere fancy EVER and I am probably not going to start any time soon. So I fell in love with these and Josh Fieleke is my hero because he ordered them for me!

4. Me and my girlfriends have been having so much fun on the Marco Polo app on our phones! Its like texting but with videos. They don’t take up any storage on your phone. And you can have as many people you want in a group. Our big Fieleke family even started one this week and the cousins are having so much fun with it.

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5. Have I mentioned that I have a lot of down time and I am a bit bored while nursing a newborn all day?! Well, I am a bookworm anyways but this month I have already read 5 new books. I would so much rather read a book than stare at my phone screen. YALL. THIS. BOOK. It is easily the best book I’ve read in years. Even if you have a different view of God than I do, I can promise that you will find such beauty in the pages! The priest that wrote it is an incredible story teller with an affinity for well placed profanity which I always appreciate. Please read it and then call me and we can chat all about it. Or Marco Polo me. Even better.

https://www.amazon.com/Tattoos-Heart-Power-Boundless-Compassion/dp/1439153159.

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6. My Great Grandma Sally was the best at turning an average moment into something magical. And when I was spending the night at her house growing up, she always let me pick out a midnight snack to make together. In reality it was probably a 8pm snack but it was so special. So when Josh was out of town last Friday, the kids and I stole a page out of GG’s book and made her specialty, an Orange Julius! They were so yummy and now I can’t stop making them. And even better, I’m nursing away all my calories so my pants still fit!

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7. School pick up time is my jam. I like to be one of the first in line because we can get right out of there. And I mean business during pick up. So here are the rules for Micah and Lydia while we wait in line: Mom’s off duty – Do whatever you want in the back of the van but the front seat is OFF limits. Roll down the windows, get naked, scream to passersby, I truly don’t care – just don’t involve me. When we are home, I am super engaged. We all made muffins together this afternoon and played games. But during pickup, no ma’am,  I am listening to a podcast, reading, or chatting on the phone. Its delightful. Abi hasn’t caught onto this policy yet, but I’ll give her a little time. Self care people, self care!

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8. Give me all the baby snuggles. Abi is perfect and smiley and precious and totally my favorite kid right now. Unless your judging me for having a favorite, then I am totally kidding.

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What are your favorite things right now? Anything I totally need to add to my list?

 

2018 – My Year of Treasures

Every new year I ask God to speak a word to me – a prophecy of sorts – a word to focus on for the year ahead, that He will use for my growth, my good, and His glory. Jeremiah 33:3 comes to mind, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” (NLT) 

2015 – Thanksgiving

2016 – Rhythms

2017 – Rejoice

2018 – Treasure (verb) – to hold or keep as precious – to cherish, prize

As I was praying about what word God would have for me in 2018, I asked Josh what he thought. He thought on it quietly and said, “grace and worship”. He reminded me that I’m often hard on myself and need to rest in God’s grace, and that lifting my eyes and heart in worship is the fastest way to run to His throne of grace.

Ultimately, I feel like God is asking me to be intentional about what and who I treasure in 2018. I don’t think He wants me to have the carefully curated life that I often long for.  I can sense Him asking me to cherish the messy, broken moments that I often wish I could fast-forward through. And to often take inventory of my heart and see that He is my ultimate treasure because He is the only One who is worthy of sitting on the throne of my life.

Here is a small but embarrassing list of ridiculously dumb things I am tempted to treasure: a clean house, a pretty house, new boots, buying new things to replace things that don’t need replaced (aka couch pillows), picture perfect time with my kids that isn’t full of redirecting and discipline, ugh the list could just keep going….

2018 will be the last year that I groggily nurse a baby long into the night. It will be the year of firsts and all the Abigail sweetness I can soak up.

It will be the year that Josh and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. I’m so darn in love with him! This year, I want to hold our marriage as precious even when life feels chaotic and time together alone is sparse.

It will be the year that Micah needs me to hold his hand as we navigate through the stubborn two’s and the three-nage year, all the while delighting in him and shepherding him towards the way of Jesus.

It will be the year that my spunky, style maven Lydia needs me to be attentive to her sweet spirit and remind her to trust Jesus for a heart that loves to obey Him and honor others.

It will be the year that my 7-going-on-20-year-old, Ruth, needs me to listen to all of her school day stories and speak into the pockets of her life where she needs perspective, love, and care.

So my prayer for 2018 is that I can declare the sassy kiddo, dirty-house, piles of laundry, cranky mommy moments as precious and treasure up all of them because God is working in every single one of them. I’m praying for a heart that is quick to say “Thank you Jesus!” even when a moment is far from picture-perfect. I tell the kids daily, “Things don’t matter, people matter” – so I’m praying that will take root in my own heart as I live in the clutter of our four young kiddos life. And ultimately I’m praying that God will remind me daily that He alone is the all-satisfying treasure my heart so longs for!

Here are some of the moments I’m treasuring up so far this year: IMG_1585As the girls and I binge watched Full House one night, Micah and Daddy served us ice cream in bed. I love watching my son turn into a Servant-hearted man like his Daddy. He then joined us in bed and licked his bowl clean.IMG_1767IMG_1760The kids are still fighting over Abigail. Like all the time. Not going to lie, sometimes I want to swat all of them with a fly-swatter but I am SO THANKFUL that they love their sissy. IMG_1771Joshua got me a van! Ours got totaled by a college dude last year and it was manageable until Abi arrived, and then our need for a van became quite urgent. I’m so grateful for God’s provision and Josh’s van hunting skills on Car-Gurus. IMG_1777Today while Abigail and I snuggle in bed, Josh took the other 3 kids to see a movie as one last hurrah before school starts. Lydia spent an hour getting ready and completed her outfit by borrowing my jean jacket and leather clutch. Not pictured, Ruth kept things classy with chandelier earrings and yoga pants.
(I should note that our parenting goals are to major on the majors and minor on the minors. So yes, my kids often go out in public resembling drag queens and I’ve decided that its a total minor. Majors for us are things like character, integrity, self-control, love for God and others)IMG_1800 And I will spend the rest of my days in 2018 nursing this chunk because she is constantly hungry and always up for a milk-induced nap on Mommy.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my word of the year. Do any of you have one too? I would love to hear about them!

Abigail Grace

Abigail has been here 8 days now and to say we are smitten would be the understatement of our lives. She is pure sweetness. Remember a year ago when God gave me a word for the year – Rejoice – well He knew something I didn’t! It wasn’t until after we decided our baby girl would be named Abigail Grace that we realized her name meant: Father Rejoices or Father’s Joy. Our unexpected blessing has been the exclamation mark on my year of choosing to rejoice in everything.

She was set to arrive via scheduled C-section on December 12. Of all my concerns and anxieties during pregnancy, the fact that Abigail would come on her own early wasn’t even one of them. No wonder God tells me not to worry about anything! None of my worries came to fruition and God was totally with me in the actual hurdle we were facing.

Josh has been telling people that for as dramatic as I usually am in daily life, when serious situations hit, the Spirit takes over and I am as cool as a cucumber. Long story short, I went into labor Sunday night the 10th, insisted on driving myself to the hospital so that the kids didn’t have to wake up. They sent me home and told me to call my doc in the morning since I wasn’t dilated yet. By 5 am though, my contractions were 5 minutes apart. My doctor said to come into the hospital and they would get me into surgery as soon as an OR in labor and delivery opened up. Remember how cool, calm, and collected the normally crazy Maddi is during intense moments? None of the nurses thought I was actually progressing in labor because of how at peace I was. As Josh and Stephanie told me later, the most serious thing I said during my super painful back contractions was a calm, “Oh golly.”

When my water broke at 10:30 am everyone started taking things really seriously. I was dilated to a six and super UNINTERESTED in a VBAC with a 10 pound baby. They got me to the OR quickly and I was dilated to a 9 and feeling the urge to push. God had spoken Psalm 27 to my heart a few weeks earlier and I was reminded of it as I lay on the table. Peace ushered in with the sweet words of His faithful promises.

 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

At 11:11 AM Abigail was born. One of our dear friends was in the OR as a nurse to help get her cleaned up. Josh held her and we wept the happiest tears in the world. Later the kids got to come meet her with Grandmas and Grandpa. My best friend Stephanie was there to capture the whole day on film and just thinking about how thankful I am for her makes me weep hormonal hot tears.

Now we are home and I am slowly recovering, the kids are slowly adjusting, Josh is literally holding us all up with his servant heart, and all the Grandmas and Grandpas are surrounding us in love and support. My mom just left after a week of taking care of all of us and she was such an amazing blessing! Josh’s parents have been in and out visiting and bringing meals and loving on us so well. Now my Dad and Stepmom are here for the week to visit and I’m guessing between loving on us and playing endlessly with the big kids, they will go home really tired! Friends have loved us like Jesus, filling our fridge and bellies. We are worn out but our hearts feel like they are overflowing.

Abigail is the sweetest. She nurses like a champ around the clock. She has the perfect chubby cheeks. And her demeanor is so sweet. She doesn’t just want snuggled, she wants snuggled tight and close. I’m obsessed with smelling her breath and kissing her fat cheeks. Her fingers wrapped around mine slay me. And she has all of her Daddy’s heart. Brother and Sisters are enamored and fight over her most of the afternoon and well past bedtime.

Thanks you from the bottom of our hearts for the calls, prayers, texts, visits, groceries, gifts and love. We are so grateful. And thanks for reading about our newest love, Abigail!