"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

9 Years

Nine years ago today, Nick and I were married. Nick reminded me (like I had forgotten) and he was shocked that it was 9 years! He says it just doesn’t seem like that long… and I agree. It has gone by so quickly… the 7 year itch just completely passed us by!

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Looking back I am amazed that the wonderful support that we received from family and friends! We were young by most people’s standards, 19 and 20 when we started dating, 20 and 21 when we became engaged and 21 and 22 when we were married. I hear so many stories about young people getting married and I am appalled at the lack of support and encouragement that they receive! Pet peeve and side note: encourage young marrieds to be successful and help them get the tools they need to be successful, don’t root for them to fail! That was not our case at all. Nick’s parents were excited and encouraging, and so were my parents.

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I know my dad was more anxious for Nick to propose than I was! My mom still talks about several nights where my dad was tossing and turning and wondering out loud “why hasn’t that boy proposed yet?” Hehe, we hadn’t even been together a year, but Nick won my dad’s heart by helping him clear brush and set up the Thistle Patch back when it was woods and overgrown underbrush. My mom told me that she was very excited and had nothing but peace around our getting married. And Nick’s mom said to me… “well from the beginning, ‘Nick and Stori’ just seemed go together!” And Nick’s dad has on more than one occasion mentioned to me that he doesn’t have children and children’s spouses… just children. Another side note and pet peeve: Nick and I both have wonderful relations with each other’s in laws, I don’t know where exactly it begins, but I can bet you it has a lot do with how kindly and welcoming each set of parents were towards us. Parents and children, be nice to your in laws!

As for our part, Nick and I had the sweetest courtship and I adore our story of how we started officially dating… and also our proposal story! I started a “How We Met and Got Together” series way back when… I think I will try to finish it this month. After all, I am not getting any younger and there reaches a point where no matter how much in love you still are with your spouse; it just gets annoying to other people to hear about it and for you to act all cutesy wootsy!

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(This one is a photo of a photo! I need to hunt down the cd with our engagement photos!)

Looking back we were naïve about so many things, including divorce. Growing up, I didn’t know that many divorced people and there were very few divorces that I witnessed first hand, if any, my parents acted as a buffer to the few I can recall. Both Nick and mine’s parents have been married for nearly 40 years. I am SO thankful for this and the witness and legacy that will be for my children. At this point, both of my siblings are divorced as well as many friends. Unfortunately I have been close enough to witness the devastation of divorce. Its ugly and destructive and not at all what God intended. I wonder if I would have been more gun shy if I had been closer to it and seen it firsthand. I can tell you this much, what I have seen helps me to never take my marriage or my husband for granted. I will never, ever say “that will not be us” because I have been shocked at the decimation of several of my friends’ and family members’ marriages. It could be us… but I pray that it isn’t and that God protects our marriage.

But here we are, 9 years married, and so happy. I don’t know why it works… probably because Nick is so patient and loving and steadfast, and that cannot be easy being married to me. I feel like our marriage is pretty easy and has been 9 years of mostly ups and very few downs. Several times, at wedding toasts, Nick has said “marriage isn’t always easy, but it is worth it!” so I guess Nick feels differently Smile, but you would never know it. He’s just the kind of person who doesn’t shy away from what’s hard, and loving your spouse unconditionally is hard. I’m so thankful that I married a man who loves and obeys the Lord!

We decided before we even were married that the Lord would be at the center of our marriage and that we would obey His rules, after all, marriage was His idea! God gave husbands ONE RULE: husbands, LOVE your wives and wives ONE RULE: wives, submit to your husbands! I know that “submit” is a loaded word in today’s culture, but I understand it. I wouldn’t say that I have a submissive personality at all, in fact I like to be the boss and in the past have been called a bully! But I respect my husband and I trust my husband enough to let him take the lead once in a while. He in turn, doesn’t boss me… we are just a team.

I could seriously gush about what I love about Nick all day long… but he would be embarrassed! I’m so curious to know what is in store for us since we have done quite a lot of moving in 9 years and I suspect more wandering is in our future. I don’t have any old pictures on this computer… I really need to work on cataloging our photos and moving them to one external drive, but here is a quick roadmap of our marriage with a few photos.

Year 1 (‘05 to ‘06): We moved to Dallas for a few months while Nick worked and I finished two correspondence courses so that I could graduate in August. (Yes, I married before I graduated, and my dad made sure that I was putting my maiden name on my diploma, hehe). Then we moved to Palo Alto, CA while Nick did a marathon master’s program at Stanford and finished in 10 months. I started my first real job at as a manufacturing engineer. I was so nervous applying for my first job out of college but Nick’s confidence in me helped so much. If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have gone to work in retail or something for fear of applying to real engineering companies!

Year 2 (‘06 to ‘07): We moved back to Houston and both started working in the oil and gas industry. Nick’s sister gave us Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover and we worked hard to implement it! We paid off our car note and Nick’s student loans in 9 months by being “gazelle intense” living off of rice and beans… $65,000 in total!

Year 3 (‘07 to ‘08): We saved for a down payment on a house and Nick started applying to all of the major energy companies and was quickly snatched up by his current employer. We moved to Madisonville, LA and bought our first house! My company flew me back and forth to Houston every single week and paid for my housing so that I could continue to work on my same project. I never really got settled into LA that first year.

Year 4 (‘08 to ‘09): I transferred to my company’s New Orleans's office and Nick and I started infertility treatments. We could not understand why after four years of marriage we were not pregnant!

Year 5 (‘09 to ‘10): We decided to stop treatments only to get pregnant on our own! And our Isla was born. Smile I retired after her birth to be a stay at home mom.

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Year 6 (‘10 to ‘11): We found out we were moving to RUSSIA! And then we did move. Craziness. But it was really wonderful and God provided us with a wonderful church home and so many friends we didn’t deserve.

Year 7 (‘11 to ‘12): Traveled a lot (Ireland, Moscow & St Pete, Italy, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur) and enjoyed our time as expats, and worked on expanding our family.

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Year 8 (‘12 to ‘13): Finally we became pregnant with Gemma after trying for a year. The rest of that year was spent navigating an international pregnancy (stressful!) since the hospital facilities in Novorossiysk were… not adequate. We also fulfilled a dream of mine and traveled to Jordan and saw the Dead Sea and Petra as well as Istanbul and Ephesus! And then we found out we were moving to Midland!

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(Daddy’s can do skin to skin too! This taken in the hospital right after Gemma’s birth.)

Year 9 (‘13 to ‘14): We moved to Midland and are now pregnant with our joyous little “accident” Baby Shaka!

Anyway, this is way longer than I intended, but I am so thankful for my husband and our 9 years of “wannderful” Smile. There’s no one else I would rather do life with, and I pray that God blesses us with many more precious years.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

***Happy Belated Memorial Day! I am so thankful for our men and women in service, including many who are in my family. While I am blessed to never have lost a relative, I am praying that those who have lost loved ones found peace and joy this past weekend in the honoring of our fallen.”

We had a quiet weekend at home this weekend… it rained a lot and we had quite a thunderstorm! Having lived in many sub tropical/tropical climates including the Golf Coast and Venezuela, I loved our regular monsoons; I missed them, so this was a welcome change to Midland’s dry desert climate. Unfortunately the rain meant we couldn’t go to the pool, which we haven’t done yet this season. Boo. As far as we could find, there weren’t any Memorial Day activities and it seemed like everyone in the city was gone. We just have to work on being happy with just us in the house to entertain ourselves!

I have had several woodworking projects in the pipeline for Nick to accomplish, and he asked me to bring one out over the long weekend! I pulled out a Rainbow Rocker project that my mom had sent me in January. I wanted it to be one of Gemma’s birthday presents… and it is, only 3 months late!

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This is the picture from the Ramblings from the Burbs blog where my mom found the plans! Nick went to Home Depot to get the materials and quickly pulled it together Saturday.

Here’s our version! I think it turned out very nice and the girls LOVE it! Besides rocking in it, Isla turns it over to make it into a hill or turns it on its side and makes it a counter where she takes food orders Winking smile. I didn’t have the neon food coloring, and thought I could mix from the gels I have. That is my one regret. The colors are nice, but not as nice as the ones above, and I could NOT get the purple right. Also the bit to make the pocket screws was $100 so Nick just did regular screws, and they are fine.

Here it is! Nick did a wonderful job, I love being married to a handyman. I think this is one of those pieces we will save for our grandchildren to use.

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Other than that, we just hung around and played inside and I did a little deep cleaning. Nick and I watched all of True Detective and it was really good… very dark and a little icky in parts, but very good.

I have also run out of bookcase real estate and I have been hunting high and low for a new one. My friend Crystal told me about a couple who owns the White House Table Company here in Midland and they do custom designed furniture and also knock off furniture for much less than the name brand. I met with Leslie and we went over a couple of designs that I like from Restoration Hardware and Ballard Designs and she is going to get back to me with some quotes! I am very excited, I moved all of our kid books into our old bookcase, and moved that bookcase into our TV/play room and they almost fill it up! And I bought a Sam’s Club bookcase that has all of my paperbacks and it is in the guest bedroom so all of my beloved classics in hardback are back in boxes. I can’t wait for them to go into their new home! The new bookcase is probably going to go where the white chair above is pictured.

That’s it. Just another quiet weekend in Midland! Tomorrow morning I drive to Abilene to meet Boo and Grandpa who will take Isla back to Temple where she is going to spend the next few days and then tomorrow night, Nick, Gemma and I will be on a plane to Spokane, WA! I am very excited and it will be a welcome change from Midland.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Songs About Texas

“I sing songs about Texas, I sing them often as if she were some old lover, I used to know,

wish I could follow them back to the homeland every time I hear
one on my radio.

Twin fiddles playing in my memory, my daddy sang the wonders
of an old cow town,

silver haired and he's still there, under a sky so warm and
fair,

I tell you friends there's a song in every town.”

Songs About Texas, by Pat Greene

So, through the ups and downs of living in Midland, there is one very big UP, and that is… at least I am in Texas! No matter how much I love “wandering” and enjoy living in other places, I just can’t imagine calling any other place my forever home. Pretty much once every few months when I am living elsewhere, I put on “Songs About Texas” and by the time Pat belts out “I wish I was stowed away on some fast moving train… GOING HOME!” I am in total tears.

“Well it's nothing short of the gospel hymns,

I guess that's why folks keep
writing 'em when I die, I want to go there too,

some day I hope to walk along
heaven's street,

and I'll still be looking for my taco meat and I swear I hear
a steel guitar rising in the air.”

In fact one time I dreamt I died and that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to Texas; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the meadow on the top of the Thistle Patch; where I woke sobbing for joy…

Hehe, I kid, I kid… but you get the idea, I love Texas!

And apparently Texas is the place to be right now! Everyone is discovering its secret.

For starters EVERYONE is moving to Texas!

And apparently once you get here, NO ONE wants to leave!

I get it, it’s a wonderful place to live. There’s a lot to do. There is a lot of state wide pride. Thanks to conservative politics, people can actually find decent jobs. The cost of living is fairly cheap and there’s no state income tax. I’m glad that people are discovering the secret, but I’m also a little bummed because it is starting to feel crowded… maybe it’s a secret I’ve been wanting to keep to myself!

If you are not familiar with Texas, for a quick humorous description of Texas in all its glory, I’ve included a brief clip from the hilarious movie Bernie… in case you’ve ever wondered where our Tex meets our Mex Winking smile.

So now that you’re acquainted with Texas, I have a little confession to make… I have never really liked any part of Texas other than Houston/East Texas! Nick and I love trees, and north Houston is the gateway to the Big Thicket and the piney woods of East Texas, and there are a lot of trees! We always used to say we wanted to settle down there someday. The closest we’ve come is our time in Louisiana, which had a similar landscape.

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I remember telling people that I loved Texas, but West Texas just didn’t even count. It was so flat, ugly and treeless. 

Well foolish me, there’s something I failed to realize… as Texas gets flatter, the sky just gets bigger and bigger. Now I am not a nature person at all, but I think that the sky out here in Midland is just breathtaking. Truly God is teaching me that there is nothing He created that is not good and beautiful.

Just take a look at the sky…

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So, I stole those pictures off of the internet, click on them to find where they came from, but that’s pretty much what I get to experience on a regular basis. Sure some days are cloudy and overcast, but most days I just stop and worship. I know people think that they have pretty skies where they come from, but its like God just made this country to showcase this part of creation. There’s nothing to impede the view and it stretches out in front of you and behind you and all around you for ever and ever… I hate it when people tell me Midland is ugly… because it isn’t. Its just a different kind of beautiful.

Now, even though we are farther from Houston than we were in Madisonville (Lousiana), somehow because its still Texas, we get called home to Houston far more than we ever did when we lived in LA. So we have also been able to drive through and get acquainted with central Texas a little bit better, and it just might be my favorite part! Now this is where I want to settle down and buy land, but Nick is still stuck on East Texas.

I LOVE THE HILL COUNTRY! I like that its rugged and not overly lush, but still still lovely. There just a part of my heart that loves cowboys and the wild west that it appeals to. My dream would be to live on a river in the hill country.

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And those rivers… LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

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My Uncle posted this picture on Facebook on Friday, its of people tubing the Guadalupe river over the weekend, and even as crazy as it was… I wish I could have been there tubing!

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There are so many little patches between Houston and Midland that I love to pass by!

Caldwell is really close to College Station, and I really like it… this could be Nick’s and mines compromise location, and best of all, its close to the Fightin’ Texas Aggies. Like any good Aggie, we would love to retire close to Aggieland. We never really paid attention to Caldwell until we lived in Midland.

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This picture is from a Zillow listing… if only we were rich enough to buy it NOW.. sigh.

I also really enjoy the Brownwood area. Its not green, but again, its that rugged beauty that I so enjoy.

We lived in Dallas for a while right after we were married, and I can’t lie, its not my favorite part. And Nick is from exactly where the “Tex meets the Mex” in Corpus Christi and has no desire to go back! So we don’t love all of Texas… and of course, I don’t think we’ll be staying in Midland longer than we need to, even with all of its attributes.

We both greatly love the San Antonio area, and if Nick were to leave his company, that’s probably where we would try to end up. Its our favorite Texas town – it has everything. Its rooted in Texas history and home of the Alamo, man made attractions, natural attractions, I LOVE the Texas / Mexican cultural fusion, and of course the lovely River Walk… I really want to move there! Hehe, well actually, we don’t know what we want to do… we have a lot of ideas though!

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And sadly, we have not ventured up to the Panhandle to uncover its beautiful secrets, but I do think we are going to try to do a trip to Palo Duro canyon sometime soon.

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And next year we would like to visit Big Bend National Park.

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There are just so many little pockets in Texas that I enjoy! Its so nice to get better acquainted with the state that I love so much, and I’m so thankful to be from such a beautiful place, with such a rich history and culture!

“When the night is real real still, swear I could hear a whippoorwill,

she knows there's music in the dirt down there,

hill country rain is a cleansing thing

and all I have to do is see one, sitting in a shallow creek got nothing to do.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer is officially here!

Yesterday was Isla’s last day of preschool! I am so glad that I decided to enroll her. She has really blossomed and I am so thankful for her teachers that loved her and taught her more about Jesus. As much as I love homeschooling and the idea of homeschooling, I think its just the sweet spot when you have teachers you trust and involved parents working together to help train up a child.

I dressed her and Gemma up in their new little Aggie girl outifts. I think we are going to make this a new family tradition for her first and last days of school! I plan to start begging her early and often… “please baby girl, please don’t ever go to t.u…” And just in case that doesn’t do the trick, hopefully at her high school graduation she will have a long line of school history photos pointing the way she should go!

Oh no, I just checked the photos I took and every single on of them looks like this! Oh well, jokes on me, but we will be recreating this tomorrow. Nick took a photography class and he has really been fiddling with the camera settings… me, I’m an auto girl!

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We don’t have any big summer plans. Next week Isla will be spending a few days with her Boo and Grandpa and Nick and I will take Gemma to Spokane, Washington for a few days. We have been wanting to go for a while since our church in Russia’s parent church is in Spokane and our friend Julie lives there. Originally we were planning a longer trip in August, but Baby Shaka sort of ruined our plans, and then Nick had a work trip to there so Gemma and I are tagging along.

Other than that, June is our busy Isla activity months! Swim lessons, tap and ballet lessons, and a Frozen themed gymnastics workshop… and then for July and August, nothing!

General plans are:

  • Go to the pool, I went and bought a maternity bathing suit
  • Revisit Balmorhea state park
  • Finish organizing and rearranging the house for Baby Shaka’s arrival

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Isla’s 4 Year Well Visit

Isla had her 4 year well visit today! By the way, I booked this appointment in February for after her 4th birthday (4/15) and this was the soonest they could get her in!!! Midland is so resource constrained right now. I’m just thankful that I managed get my girls into a PNP that I trust.

Height: 41.25” (~75th percentile)

Weight: 40 lbs (~80th percentile)

This is the face we have been getting when we ask Isla to smile… girlfriend’s a total ham!

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Those percentages are not from the Doctor, I had to Google them so they might not be accurate, but that feels about right me based on a visual comparison of her with her classmates. Isla is one of the bigger, stronger kids in her class! 

Her PNP and the nurses took a urine sample (weird), checked her vision and hearing, and also gave her two vaccines (MMR and Chicken Pox).

Side note: We vaccinate. That’s a tough one because its so controversial right now. I think every family should do what they think is best. I feel like it’s a crap shoot either way, but the odds of something going terribly wrong are more likely if we don’t vaccinate, so we vaccinate. I would never discount the anecdotal stories I hear from other moms, but for us, this is the choice we’ve made, and we are happy with it… but I’m not going to lie, I get a little nervous every time my babes get stuck with that needle!

Isla took the shots like a champ, and was very excited about her band aids and managed to negotiate 6 extra band aids as a parting gift. She keep telling me that “If so and so [me, Cookie, Gabby] get a bobo, then she had a band aid for us!”

The PNP gave me a questionnaire to help jar my memory on any developmental areas where I might be concerned. I am always a little worried about her fine motor skills, which our PNP checked and said she was maybe a little behind, but it was nothing to worry about. She commented that Isla is very verbal for her age, so that she may be behind in some physical areas… so true, she is smart and strong, but she is very uncoordinated! I work with her, but fine and gross motor coordination are areas where I have always worried a little bit.

I also asked about the Dr. OZzzz melatonin and chamomile supplements that we give Isla and our PNP said that it was fine and that was usually her first recommendation if patients had issues sleeping. I was relieved because everyone loves them, including Isla and it has made bedtime so much easier. It has greatly reduced the bedtime stress that we have experienced for the past 4 years and Isla loves not tossing and turning and not being able to fall asleep even when she’s tired!

We also had an appointment with her preschool teacher a couple of weeks ago to see how she felt Isla was doing and how Isla had progressed for the year. Thankfully she said Isla is a good student and seems to be progressing in all areas right along with her peers and that she didn’t have any major areas of concern other than Isla doesn’t really ride tricycles well!  We already knew that. We bought her a trike when she turned 3, but she gets frustrated easily and its hard to keep her motivated. She has done the same thing with her scooter, which she asked for so I thought it would be different, but after a couple of minutes, she gets discouraged and gives up! I’m not too worried, but I wish that I could keep her motivated. However, her attention span and obedience to the teacher were good, which were the two most important points to me. I always make sure to remind Isla to listen to her teacher. One of my pet peeves are kids who are rude or disrespectful with their teachers, and I firmly believe that attitude starts at home.

Another area that I asked was how Isla’s energy seemed at the end of the day compared to the other kids. A lot of the kids are still napping, and her teacher said that while some of the kids are falling down tired, Isla still seems raring to go on most days. I am beginning to think its time for Isla to get rid of quiet time since it rarely turns into naps, however I still need quiet time so I may turn it into TV or book time so that I can have a little time to recharge. She also said that Isla loved to play with the boys and that she’s faster than all of them on the playground! That’s so true, Isla is my little tomboy, however when she hears me say that she reminds me that she’s “not a boy, she’s a girl.”

Anyway, I love going to our PNP and hearing that Isla looks healthy and good and that there are no areas of concern! I’m so thankful for my big, healthy girl!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother’s Day 2014

This past Sunday was the sweetest Mother’s Day yet! I don’t know why it was sweeter than other Mother’s Day, but it just was. It could be because it is the only one that I have been pregnant for, but I don’t know. There have certainly been slower Mother’s Days with bigger or more thoughtful gifts and less rushed plans, but this one just made me so happy and thankful for my husband and kids.

Words of affirmation and gift giving are probably my two biggest love languages, so Mother’s Day is a day designed by corporations just for me and thankfully although these two love languages are not Nick’s strong areas, he tries to remember to do something on Mother’s Day and I appreciate the efforts he makes. One of the things I miss the most about working were my regular performance reviews where I would be told by my supervisor what a great job I was doing along with areas of improvement (but mostly good stuff!). I really craved that feedback and it motivated me to try harder. Its so hard not hearing that I am doing a good job as a wife and mother, and I am constantly doubting myself.  And I’m not going to hear that from my kids! Who knows if I’m doing a good job until they are grown, and as I said, words of affirmation are just not Nick’s strong area. On the flip side, words of complaint are not a strong area of his, so all in all I count my blessings! However, I’m kind of thankful that there is day that forces everyone to let me know I’m appreciated. I know that makes me sound terribly needy, but everyone likes to be appreciated every now and then!

Nick actually had to leave on an 11:30 AM flight for a work trip so he was going to be gone most of the day, plus we were in Magnolia and not home. I was actually in my parents’ bed (got pregnant uncomfortable, moved the couch and my dad found me and made me move to his spot on my parents’ temperpedic mattress). I woke up excited to see my kids and so I went out into the kitchen where my mom informed me that Isla and Nick were planning a surprise for me so I had to go back to bed and pretend to be asleep!

Nick, Isla and Gemma “woke me up” with a present and this little picture. It got some water damage between now and when they made it and was rolled up for the trip home, but it was so sweet. It has both the girls handprints and little hearts for all the girls (not one for daddy), including a tiny little heart that says Shakalakalace on it. I think the tiny heart is what did me in!

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The present was actually one that I had gone to Williams-Sonoma and picked out with Nick. It was just a couple of fancy gold pans that I have been wanting for a while (they are the most awesome nonstick pans ever!). Of course I knew how it was bought but I asked Isla “Did you get mommy a present?” Isla “No, Daddy bought it.” Haha!

Then we had to get up and give my mom her present and get Nick to the airport. I can’t even explain the sweet feeling that it left in my heart, but it did. I am certainly one blessed wife and mom… I will never understand what I did to deserve the family I have.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spirit Lead Me…

So, a couple of months ago, I took a little break from Facebook. I just needed some time to pray and disconnect because as I am sure many of you know… Facebook can be a little bit addictive and a complete timewaster. And it was lovely. Unfortunately one of the consequences was that I disconnected from the Reece’s Rainbow community too, which is not always a bad thing. Sometimes you need to step away, and remember that everything is not on your shoulders. There are others who God brings to the table and He is always raising people up!

You see I was so disheartened over the Russia/Ukraine situation. I know that it was sad when Russia shut their doors to American adoptions, but at least Russia had a right to do what they did. No matter how sad it made me, it was their right. Their children, their right.

The Ukraine situation is different. If Russia annexes all of Ukraine, then many of the Ukranian orphans that I have advocated for and fundraised for, will no longer be available for adoption, and Russia has no RIGHT to determine their future. This time I’m not just sad, I’m devastated and also spitting mad. I doubt that this particular consequence is even on Obama’s radar or has even registered with the state department, and probably rightly so. When a sovereign nation is facing a takeover from a superpower, you have bigger fish to fry… like whether or not to go to war. I know that this is a multifaceted issue with some “Ukrainian citizens” claiming that they want to be annexed by Russia, but to me this smells of Putin and I believe that he has driven this movement within Ukraine every step of the way. I was in Russia when Putin was reelected and oh the stories I heard! He lied and stole the election, and has robbed his country of billions of dollars. Why on earth would anyone vote to move under his “governance”?

I still don’t have a lot of clarity around what for Reece’s Rainbow to do or how to do it, but for now, God has put a few things on my heart that I want to share.

First, I had always wanted to “name” a Reece’s Rainbow child, but I always missed the naming sessions or someone else was able to name them first… so finally I just asked Michelle if I could! She was so nice and said yes. I asked if I could name a little girl “Hero”, which is one of my all time favorite girl names. I think its so beautiful and sweet, and the meaning is certainly fitting for these precious children who have so much to overcome.

Here is little lady Hero. She is beautiful and sweet, just like her name.

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Little Hero seemed to be lucky because she very quickly landed on the My Family Found Me Page and I was so overjoyed that the child I named had a family and wouldn’t have to wait very long! But sadly, within 24 hours we learned the little girl that I had named, had passed away during a surgery to repair her heart. She died all alone without a mommy to love her and only the Reece’s Rainbow community to mourn her. I remember when Gemma was in the hospital at 3 weeks old, and how much laying on my chest seemed to comfort her even as little as she was, she knew… how sad that Hero was alone in the end! She must have felt it. Rest in peace little Hero, you may be forgotten by most, but not by me.

You can find Hero on the In Loving Memory page on Reece’s Rainbow. Every single child on that top row had a family coming for them. Every. single. one. Now they are healed and in their true forever homes, but how I wish they had known the love of an earthly mommy and daddy.

Secondly, I need to share about my friend Julia who has SO MUCH on her plate. She is busier than a little baby bee, but for some reason, felt God tapping her on her shoulders… tap, tap, tapping, He had something planned!

 

Julia has been one of the most consistent orphan advocates around, and she fundraises and she yells and she is just a machine. She doesn’t stop!

For the last two years she has a huge fundraiser call the Mulligan Stew, and earlier this year she confided in me that with all of the work she had to do, she didn’t think she had it in her to do another one!

BUT then came the tapping! She couldn’t say no, not when the Lord is the builder and all she has to do is say YES!

Julia felt the Lord calling her to help fundraise $24,000 to help 400 orphans attend a summer camp program in the Ukraine. The money for an additional 200 (600 total) has already been given by another donor. Their world right now has gone mad, not only has there been fighting and disruption in their region, depending on how this Russia/Ukraine situation turns out, many of them may never have a chance at a family.

But they may have this! A chance to be loved on and cared for by a wonderful, trusted, ministry team. This precious team goes to the institute where my friend Julia’s son was adopted from and ministers the Lost Boys there. Precious boys who will probably spend their entire life behind those sad walls and playing in sheds.

The orphans who will be blessed by this are big and little, typical and special needs, each one precious in God’s eyes and worthy.

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Are we not God’s church and are we not called to help the orphans in distress? Helping them does not always mean to work towards their adoption. This is just one way to bless orphans, to help them hear that Good News that someone loves them and to experience care and attention here on this earth!

Click HERE to find out more about the Mulligan Stew and how you can join in helping these little ones have a blessed, fun summer. AND OF COURSE, since Julia is so awesome, she has also arranged for you have a chance to win many cool prizes!

I love that the Lord has reminded me that even if there comes a day that I cannot advocate for the adoption of special needs orphans in the Ukraine, I CAN still care for the least of these. God is always raising people up and opening doors! There is always hope.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”  ~from Oceans, by Hillsong United

Thursday, May 1, 2014

20 Weeks with Baby Shaka

So here we are halfway through! Its hard to believe how quickly this one is going, but not really… I have two little girls to keep me very distracted!

Doctor Switch

So one thing that really stinks about living in a boom town is that all of the resources are really constrained. Finding and getting into good doctors can be really difficult. I got really fed up with Midland Women’s Clinic and I decided the stress wasn’t worth it and so Nick and I decided to switch OBs. Basically the first doctor that I saw is notorious for being late and making his patient wait for hours. My first appointment I arrived at 12:30 PM and I didn’t leave until 5 PM. My second appointment I arrived at 1 PM and I waited for OVER TWO HOURS in the waiting room without having been seen before I had to leave to get the girls. I left in tears because seriously, all I wanted to do was hear my baby’s heartbeat!  Waiting for hours might have been fine before kids, but now with sitters and friends and Nick watching them for me, I really need a place where they run relatively on time. I expect some delays with an OB, but not every time and not hours upon hours.

I asked to switch to another doctor at the clinic and there was one accepting new patients… however he couldn’t see me for 3 weeks because that place is so overbooked! That would have put me at 21 weeks before my second appointment, my first was the one at 10 weeks… and everyone was ok with this! Doesn’t sound like good prenatal care to me, especially with my thyroid issues.

I was also fed up with the phone system and the complete disorganization of the office. Let me give you one real life example of trying to change an appointment. I called 12 times one morning, got a busy signal every single time. I called at 1:15 PM only to receive the after hours phone message (that doesn’t mention the length of their lunchtime FYI, and I have received this message between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM so I assume that’s how long they take lunch.) I called at 1:35 and finally got through to a person who put me on hold for 20 minutes. When they finally got around to me, the main receptionist said that she wasn’t allowed to schedule OB patients’ appointments and redirected me to another person, Sharmi. Guess what? Sharmi wasn’t at a her desk and so I left a message. She called back right when I couldn’t get to the phone for like 5 minutes and left a message for me… but do you think she left me a direct line or an extension to her? Of course not, she left me the same phone number that I had been dialing all morning long! I ran into that problem again and again, often the phone would ring forever and no one would pick up or they would put me through to someone and their voice mail wouldn’t switch over… it was so annoying.

Also we heard that the hospital Odessa is much better and we had heard some distressing things about the hospital in Midland…

So after many, frustrated crying sessions, we have switched doctors to a doctor in Odessa and we are very pleased with our choice. Honestly, this brought back one of the main reasons why I wanted to be in Houston – I had specifically told Nick that one of the reasons why I wanted to stay in Houston was because I had a wonderful OB there and I wasn’t too keen on having a 3rd c-section with a 3rd doctor… but here we are, making the best of it! I just wish that our first choice in Midland had been better and hadn’t stirred up all of those negative emotions from last year. I’m sure pregnancy hormones didn’t help the situation.

Baby Looks…

Healthy and good! We will have the results of the blood test to check for down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities at our next appointment as well as the detailed review of the big ultrasound. We are praying she is healthy, but we are not worried whatever happens and will welcome Baby Shaka however she comes! She’s our baby girl, no matter what. I loved seeing her little heart with all four chambers Smile.

Movement

I am starting to feel some movement, although not as much as I would like… could this be my calm baby? Its such a sweet feeling and never, ever gets old!

Oh my fiery feet…

My poor feet just continue to heat up! I am now to the point where I have to get up several times and run them under cold bathwater before I can fall asleep again. Also, everyone in the house has to suffer through freezing nights because I turn the AC so low. We are quickly getting to the point where I will need to keep a bucket of water next to the bed in order to fall back asleep. I feel like a cartoon character! I swear if I stuck my feet in snow, steam would rise up!

Sleep

Sleep isn’t terrible although I had a night with RLS the other night… and of course there’s the bathroom visits at least 5 times, along with the hot feet. Also my left hip has been sore, so I’m not sure what’s happening there. I find that I need to go to sleep a lot earlier than usual to make up for my night time disturbances. I am not a good mommy if I stay up past 10:30 PM.

Energy is lower than I would like, and I really try to get things done in the morning because I am pretty worthless in the afternoon. I don’t really need naps, but I take little rest sessions about 30 minutes in length, once or twice a day, where I just sit and rest my brain, my body, my eyes and that helps me get through the day.

Weight Gain

I gained TEN POUNDS between my 19 week appointment and my 10 week appointment. That is unheard of for me. I weigh what I weighed when I went in at 39 weeks to deliver Gemma! I never wrote this on the blog but when Gemma’s doctor was cutting me open she was like “You are so skinny!” Me: “Me?” Gemma’s doctor: “Who else’s insides am I looking at?” I will be treasuring that memory forever now because it will probably never be repeated!

I don’t think that I am eating much different from my first two pregnancies however I refuse to worry about it until Baby Shaka arrives. It may have something to do with my thyroid although all of my measurements are coming back ok… or maybe I am just eating more and I don’t realize it! Either way it gets me down for a bit, but then I can’t stress about it or not eat when I am hungry. I’m so thankful for Nick who seriously never makes me feel anything less than beautiful and desired. He’s just the best!

Random Stuff

I think that’s it! I really feel like those are such mild pregnancy side effects and I feel very blessed to be having such an easy pregnancy. I haven’t even had heart burn really yet, which was bad with Isla, and god awful terrible with Gemma, so I am sure its coming… or maybe not? After all, I can’t believe I made it through the first trimester with absolutely zero nausea or morning sickness!

Ok, I am probably forgetting stuff, but well… there’s just so little tell Smile.  Easy pregnancy = boring blog… HOORAY!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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