Dear Instagram Mom

Sometimes I feel like my blog is misstitled. Like I feel almost as though it should be something birth control oriented because I talk about miscarriage and the hardships of parenthood, not the rosy aspects of raising kids. Seriously though, children are an absolute joy and my life would be so incomplete without them, but I would be dishonest if I told you they don’t drive me batshit crazy sometimes (sorry for my “french” mom…).

Today, for example. I have coffee every Friday with two women who are phenomenal. We get together over the roar of our kids playing/crying/nursing, and we intentionally talk about real things. One lesson you must learn as a mom, you don’t have time to shoot the breeze. You get to it, or get off the pot. I’ve always hated small talk, so this aspect of motherhood is one I fully embrace and quite enjoy.

So today my friend and I were discussing life, as per usual. And it came into my head that the woman we were lamenting about was the typical “Instagram mom.” You know who I mean. The one who Pinterests crafts and documents it. Who has a rocking body, despite an infinite amount of children/breastfeeding, and goes on weekly dates with her husband in which they are never tired, or just wanting to sit on the couch and sleep. She finds joy in every mother-f-ing second spent with her kids. She’s a DIY queen, and her home is always clean and in the best Joanna Gaines state.

Dear Instagram mom, do you exist for real? Dear Instagram mom who puts on the front– WHY?!? You are only causing SO MUCH STRESS for the rest of your peers. I’ve got wrinkles and stretch marks from my babies. Yeah, I try to work out once in a while, but most of the time I have to pick something that can be easily interrupted because I’ve got a four year old and one year old crawling all over me. For goodness sakes, I went to poop today and decided to close the door (God forbid) and opened it to find my four year old crying because he couldn’t find me. Seriously?

But my real questions are, when, dear IG mom, do you find time to shop/wear/keep clean the clothes that you have that are not only trendy but functional? What does your husband do that you can afford a $95 baby carseat cover that doubles as a nursing cover that the rest of us schmucks have to use a regular blanket for? How did you “just wake up like that” not covered in spit up or yogurt, or dried milk? How did you get your hair done just so? Where do you find your infinite drive and energy? And how are you and your husband so bright-eyed looking in your weekly date night pictures? How do you get a weekly date night? How are you not just wilting on the couch? WTF?!? Dear IG mom, please do not keep your secrets from the rest of us. Share them. Write them down and publish them for the world to read. I would gladly pay money to find out the secrets of your ways. Also, if this is just a front for your social media audience, I beg you, please stop it.

Sincerely,

Regular mom.

 

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1-7-2016::Lennon Ruth

I’ve had two amazing births. Neither one happened naturally, but I’ve loved them both just the same. And though both of my babies do things on their own time and in their own way, each one made it easy on me when it came to their delivery.

In July, 2012, Kyle and I became parents when Judah was born. And, as many of you know, between July 2013 to May 2014, we experienced three miscarriages. (You can read their stories here, here, and here). After going through so much heartache, we came to the decision that we would try one last time for another baby. Thank goodness we did, and thank God that His timing is perfect.

In early May, Judah and I surprised Kyle with the news that I was expecting again. With the history we had, going to her initial ultrasound appointment was quite the roller coaster of emotion. Thankfully, we heard a strong little heartbeat and saw our girl for the first time.

I did not enjoy being pregnant this time around. Though I didn’t experience morning sickness, it was physically very different than my previous pregnancies. My hips were in so much pain that it was hard for me to walk some days. I couldn’t sit on the floor and play with my son, which was devastating. I couldn’t sleep a majority of nights, and I was constantly exhausted. Not to mention the “what ifs” that come from experiencing three failed pregnancies. Thankfully being pregnant is temporary and the reward is so much greater than the short time of discomfort.

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Lennon’s due date was January 7. She was positioned very low in my pelvis, and I had been experiencing early labor for weeks. This, among other factors led to an induction. I remember my doctor scheduling it and feeling like I had failed. I wanted to know what it was like to go into labor naturally, be able to work through it at home for a majority of the time, and then rush to the hospital while yelling at my husband to drive more carefully, yet with lightning speed in the car 😉  But honestly, feeling guilty about it was so stupid. She was full term, and for some reason, my body requires a little jump start to get the party started. Besides, I was already at 4 cm, almost completely effaced, and I have gone from five to 10 cm in the snap of a  finger and I’m pretty sure Kyle didn’t want to deliver this baby in our living room.  It turned out that my induction was necessary anyway, because my doctor tried to break my water only to find out it had been leaking for an unknown amount of time.

On January 7, we headed to the hospital early in the morning to have our baby. I was hooked up to all my machines and my drip started at 8 AM. About an hour into it, I was asked if I wanted an epidural. I said no because though my contractions were progressing quickly, again, I felt that guilt of not “really” experiencing those intensely painful moments, almost as if it’s a right of passage to getting your baby. However, my husband, nurse, and anesthesiologist looked at my contraction patterns and told me if I didn’t want to feel the “ring of fire,” now was the time. They also told me, no one gets an extra prize for not getting one. I agreed and was thankful I did.

At 11 AM, my nurse informed us she was heading out to her lunch break. She checked me and I was still around 6 cm, so we all figured in her half hour break, not much would happen and we’d see her when she got back. A few minutes later, I felt a lot of pressure and pretty “pushy” as they would call it. I held off for a couple more minutes, certain that it was not yet time because I was just checked moments ago and still so far away from pushing time. However, it was getting more intense feeling, so I called a nurse. She checked me and sure enough, within ten minutes I had gone from a 6 to a 10 and it was time to have our baby. I pushed three times, and our girl was born at 11:31 AM. (I told you my kids make it easy on me!) She was eight pounds, three ounces, and 19 inches long.

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I remember so vividly seeing her little purple body, all scrunched up, being lifted into the air and placed in my arms. Her first cries were amazing. She was the spitting image of her brother, and Kyle and I were instantly so in love with this beautiful little girl.

We “oohed” and “ahhed” over her for several hours. Those first moments with your baby are pure magic–examining every inch of their little bodies, snuggling them close, and whispering “happy birthday, little love” over and over.

Then it was time for Judah to meet his sister. He fell in love with her instantly and has been the best, most gentle, and loving big brother from that moment on. We couldn’t have asked for a better transition. Our little guy loves his baby sister something fierce. And it’s totally true, all those moments I spent worrying about how I could love another being as much as my first baby were instantly gone the moment I laid eyes on her. And just when you think you can’t love your kids more than you do, you see your son holding his new sister and your heart beats so fast, you feel like you could burst.

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Lennon, we dreamt of this day for so long. I hope you know how deeply loved you are, and how highly anticipated your life has been. You were born at the perfect time for our family. You are treasured, you are precious, you are prized, and you are adored. I cannot wait to watch you grow and marvel at the person  you become. Happy birthday, beautiful girl, I love you.

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“Burt, are we fuck ups?”

I know, I dropped the f-bomb in the title. But, it’s a quote, and it makes sense in this particular post. So, can we all be mature and get past that for a second? Mmmk, thanks.

The past two years have been a whirlwind. Those of you who keep up with my blog know what I’m talking about. Those of you who don’t, here’s a recap of some of the highlights: We moved across the country, suffered three miscarriages, my husband has gone through three job transitions, I was laid off from my job, we bought a house, and now we are expecting a little girl this January. Phew. That’s a hell of a lot to go through in a two year span. Oh, and through it all, Kyle and I are miraculously still married…but seriously. A move, a job change, or a loss of a child alone can put a marriage through the ringer. Going through all of that plus more in a short span of time has definitely made for some tense months. But we’ve prevailed, and we still are.

Something happens to your world when you know a child is coming. You start to look at yourself with a bit more scrutiny. You no longer let the days just simply pass by because you’re well aware that you’re shortly going to be responsible for another life. There is a shift in your actions. Even before your child arrives, you start doing everything for them. This is what’s happening in our world right now.

After Judah was born, that pressure has remained, it just somehow settled into a routine. Despite all these transitions and highs and lows, we’ve somehow begun to just go through the motions, doing things as expected. I just received a text from my husband, who inspired this post, saying that he’s realized how much he’s let society and other people dictate who he has become and he’s getting pissed about it. I think that’s amazing. Look at this man I’ve married, recognizing this and taking his life back!

This last time that Kyle and I decided to try again for a baby was our last effort. We had a hard road, not as hard as some though, when it came to having as second baby. So when you give it “one last try,” you also have to allow yourself to start to accept your life as it is. We were starting to become okay with just Judah. We were beginning to look into things like adoption (which is still very much a desire of ours in the future). I was accepting the fact that I might never carry another child again, and that was alright. I was also beginning to recognize that in a short time, I was going to need to find a new job, as Judah would be starting school. And then, we were lucky enough to become pregnant. And again, our perspectives, our lives, altered.

Kyle and I watched the movie “Away We Go” before having Judah, and we watched it again a few weeks ago. The characters in the movie are ridiculous, but there are comparabilities to each of the people that the lead personas come in contact with who also represent people in our lives. And there are similarities to that, “holy crap, we are going to be responsible for someone else and we have no idea who we are ourselves” plight that the main characters are going through. There’s a line in the movie before the official journey to find a home for the lead characters begins. Maya Rudolf’s character looks at her longtime boyfriend, played by John Krasinski and asks, “Burt, are we fuck ups?” I think this is something Kyle and I have asked before having each kid.

From society’s standpoint, I think we are. Sure, we’ve got a house, a dog, and a jankie fenced yard, two healthy kids, and a good church. However, I stay at home when we really can’t afford it, and Kyle barely makes enough money for us to sustain our mortgage. We’re on state assistance. We’ve never vacationed anywhere, unless you count visiting family, Kyle and I are both still wearing most of our clothes from college (and some from high school…it’s considered vintage now right?), a splurge on dinner out is a $7.99 pizza maybe once a month, and most of the things we own have been craigslist finds or gifted to us by our very generous parents. All this is maybe considered okay by society for someone just out of college, but we’re nearing thirty and have two kids. Hashtag winning?

I think what both my husband and I are going through is recognizing again that it’s not what jobs we have, how much money we make, or how many kids we raise that defines us. It’s the character we have, the friends and community we surround ourselves with, and the balance of all these things that makes up what we say about ourselves. And I think there’s a bit of that looming question, “are we fuck ups” that remains in everyone, especially during major transitions in life.

Point blank, it’s scary to look at your life realistically. It’s also really refreshing when you can begin to do so outside of what “the general public” expects you to make of it. Who decides that anyway? Who said by the time we were thirty we had to have it all figured out and a steady 401K ready for us when we reach the ripe age of 65 so we could gloat on our millions and become snow birds? Who says you can’t have kids until you make X number of dollars every month? We sure don’t. And let me tell you, Judah is one happy child. Money, career, it’s not everything.

We’re figuring it out one day at a time. Really, aren’t we all just a bunch of kids running around trying to parent other kids? Well, I’m taking a step in the direction of my husband’s lead and rediscovering me, outside of what society says I should or shouldn’t be. And my goodness, isn’t that one of the best things we can gift our kids with anyway? Nope, life’s not rainbows and butterflies in our house right now. There is a lot of financial stress and pressure and many tears (I am six months pregnant after all). But there’s also hope. We have Christ present in our home. Not always as much as he should be, but he’s there, leading the charge. I respect my husband fiercely. We love our kids deeply. We are far from perfect and far from normal in society’s eyes, but we’re doing our best, and I think our best is yet to come.

And, if you’ve never watched “Away We Go,” you should get on that. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to understand where we are, it’ll give you a pretty good glimpse.

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

5 Years

This past Friday, Kyle and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Holy crap. Are we really at five years already? Our wedding day literally seems like it was yesterday…yet also such a long time ago. Over the last five years, we have grown so much both individually, and as a couple.

The night before our anniversary came, I looked over at Kyle and said, “This year’s been a doosey hasn’t it?” We laughed about it, but really, it has. This year alone, we have been stretched in more ways than I think each of us have experienced in one short time span ever in our lives. Roughly in the last year, we have and continue to grieve three miscarriages, we moved across the country leaving our family and friends behind, faced job uncertainty, and lost significant friendships.  Honestly, I think we’ve had more arguments this year alone than our previous four years combined.

However, these trials we have faced are also some of the best things that have happened to us. Experiencing the loss of our unborn babies has opened up new conversations for us about our family structure and what we really want that to look like. It has also, in a strange way, given us a renewed love and appreciation for the beautiful son we have. Our time with job uncertainty has helped me to learn the value in the way my husband relentlessly pursues his passions. He does not give up. And he ALWAYS wants the best for me and for Judah. Leaving our friends and family has caused us to rely on one another in ways we haven’t always needed to. Yes, it’s caused some strain for obvious reasons, but it’s also pushed us to finally consider what is best for our core family unit, not everyone else’s. It has allowed us to step back and begin weeding through what we want and don’t want as parents, as a couple, and as a family.

This year reminded us that marriage is tough. It’s not all happiness and fun times. Marriage takes hard work, and it takes commitment. Though this year has been both amazing and difficult, I wouldn’t trade it in. This year has opened up our eyes to new ways in which to communicate to each other, to encourage one another, pray for each other, and love each other. For me personally, this year has shown me the amazing patience Kyle has for me and my shortcomings. It has also revealed to me the length that he would go to help me become the best person I can be.

Looking back five years ago, I didn’t think this is where we would be now. Sure, some things have lined up, but others haven’t. And you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Doing life with this man has been an incredible ride that always keeps me on my toes, and I cannot wait to look back another five years from now.

Thanks for asking me to be your wife, Kyle. I’m one lucky lady.

Photo Booth pictures courtesy of Roth Photography

Photo Booth pictures courtesy of Roth Photography

 

Engagement Anniversary

First, I want to thank everyone for your kind words, positive thoughts, and prayers since my previous post. Kyle and I have felt each and every one. It always blows my mind how many people actually take the time to read the nonsense I post here, and it is unbelievable to me the amount of support we have received from sharing our story with you. Every passing day we are getting better and moving on in our process of healing, and you my friends have played a large role in that. 

There are very few “anniversaries” that I keep up with. I mean, really, I can only keep track of so many things. But, I do remember the day that Kyle and I got engaged. I remember it like it was yesterday because well, it is one of my most favorite memories of all time. Kyle and I are not super romantic. Just for reference if you don’t know Kyle, he’s kind of  the Harry Potter loving mixture of Chandler Bing from Friends and Nick Miller from New Girl. Not sure what that says about me, but whatever, he’s my favorite. And, his proposal was one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me. 

Anyway, five years ago today, Kyle asked me to be his wife, so I feel like it’s time I share our little story.

We went to the same small college in the middle of Indiana, but we didn’t officially meet there. There were several occasions that we could have introduced ourselves to one another, but we never did, and thank goodness. We would not have dated if so. Seriously. We were definitely not in the same friend group at that time in our lives and I think it was a good thing, because it molded us into the people we were when our paths finally did cross.

We were just babies!

We were just babies!

So how did we meet if we never crossed paths when Kyle was the RA on my brother floor? How did we never meet up when our rooms were directly across the roof from one another? How did we never meet considering we went to the same little church, I went to see his band play a few times, and we had so many mutual friends? Definitely a God thing.

Truth be told, we met on Facebook. Yep, Facebook. Thanks Mark Zuckerberg! It’s a little embarrassing, but totally true. Yes, Kyle and I both knew who we were, our college was small and you pretty much had an idea of who everyone was. However, he had already graduated and I was just about to enter my senior year.  I checked my Facebook one night and saw that he had messaged me. I thought it was strange, but I replied anyway. Yet another God-thing. I would have never responded to some guy trying to flirt with me via Facebook message. But, for some reason I did.

Kyle was living in Colorado at the time and didn’t have any intention of coming back. Anyway, in my college-aged head I felt messaging was harmless because I knew that nothing other than a friendship (yeah right) would occur since I was headed back east after graduation with no desires of Colorado anywhere near.  We messaged, AIMed (yeah, it was still cool back then), and eventually shared our phone numbers with one another and talked personally. With each conversation, our relationship grew and our respect for each other increased. Kyle made me feel comfortable, perhaps because he was so far away, and he helped me through one of my most challenging phases of life.

Well, later on he told me he needed another knee surgery and because of that, he would be coming back to Indiana. I got super excited because this “boy out west” was definitely not just some anonymous friend any more. Silly me for thinking so in the first place. As we continued to talk our feelings for each other grew, and we knew we’d be dating as soon as he came home. And that we did. We dated for five months before Kyle put a ring on it.

Kyle was adamant about never proposing on Valentine’s day. We didn’t celebrate it, nor do we to this day, other than buying discounted chocolate and candy the day after, let’s face it, we do that after every holiday. But, Kyle told me he did have a little surprise planned and wanted me to come to his parent’s house a few days after Valentine’s day. So, I got ready and drove over, expecting we’d have dinner and watch a movie or something.

Kyle met me at the door and took me through his house where he had a very elaborate plan in place. We started downstairs in the basement. Strewn on the floor were photos of me from birth through high school, and a plastic slide, very crucial to my toddler years, that he had somehow tracked down. We looked through the photos together, laughing at my awkward braces-filled, middle-school years, thanking the Lord that I didn’t actually stay that way. Then, Kyle led me back upstairs to his parent’s office.

Once we got there, I was presented with a blanket fort Kyle had made. We had made a blanket fort during one of our first dates. Blanket forts are the bomb.com, seriously. Underneath it were more pictures. This time, the photos were from my college years. Also in that pile was a notebook full of all of the Facebook messages that we had sent back and forth to one another over the summer, and Kyle had bolded several of the messages that really stood out to him in defining our relationship. What a stud! We perused through the photos together and I read the sections that Kyle had highlighted in our book. And we had a blast laughing at ourselves looking back at our “first impressions” of one another. 

Next, Kyle took me back downstairs into the living room. Now, most of you are probably thinking, oh, you must have known it was coming! How did you keep it together so long? Well, fun fact about me, I’m totally oblivious to everything romantic/flirting/engagement. Seriously. Despite the fact that we had talked about getting married, and had previously gone ring shopping, the whole time this was happening the words “engaged,” “ring,” or “marriage,” never crossed my mind. I seriously thought that he was just going out of his way to give me a really thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift. Yeah, I know.

Anyway, back in the living room, Kyle took my hands and explained that the downstairs had represented my past, upstairs my present, and here, where there were no photos, just the two of us, was our future. (I know, I know, you’re all thinking, “Bethany…you’re killing me, you have to know now!!!” No. I didn’t. Seriously, I’m oblivious.) Kyle was nervous and his hands were shaking. In the middle of his speech, letting me know how much he wanted to be a part of my future, I stopped him and said, “Kyle, why are you so nervous? It’s just me!” Seriously girl, it’s so obvious! Anyway, he responded to me, “Just let me get through this.” So, I smiled awkwardly and he continued. After saying so many sweet things, he pulled out a Polly Pocket from a drawer on a side table. I used to collect Polly Pockets as a little girl, I had like 45 or something ridiculous. Those things were my WORLD. He opened it up, and inside it was a small plastic ring. He looked me in the eye, and said, “Will you be my wife?”

One, he did not get on his knee, and I appreciate that. Instead, he looked me right, square in the eye, as his equal, his partner. Two, he didn’t ask me to marry him, he asked me to be his wife. He asked me to be in it for the long haul, to be his wife, and everything that comes with that. Points my friend.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Of course I said YES! And he put that little plastic ring on my finger as far as it would go. It was made for a 4 year old, so it didn’t quite fit.

A few minutes later, after our initial celebrations, he pulled out the real rock. And man, is it a rock! He did a great job. We called our families and closest friends and rejoiced together. It was one of the best moments of my life.

And, if you don’t think my husband is the sweetest after that story, here’s a bonus. My family lives in Western New York, and we were in Indiana at the time. Kyle drove all the way to my parent’s house to ask my dad’s permission in person. And, on the way there, he called my sister, who is also my bestie for life and asked her permission as well.

Yeah, I know, he’s pretty dreamy.

Five months later, we were married. And in August, we will celebrate five years of marriage.  Happy engagement anniversary to us!!

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

 

Another Goodbye.

Early in the morning on January 6, Kyle and I rejoiced together–we were going to have another baby. We excitedly told our son, Judah that he was going to be a big brother. We had wanted our kids to be fairly close in age, and were elated to be expanding our family.

Being new to the area, I had no idea what doctors were the best, but some friends filled me in, and we were able to find a great one. We scheduled our first appointment to meet her and begin the journey to having another child.

Because this wasn’t my first pregnancy, I began to show pretty quickly. Here I am one evening before bed, approximately seven weeks along. It was exciting to me to be looking pregnant so soon, I always loved the “cute” pregnant time, when you have those small baby bumps, regular sized ankles, and a normal amount of energy.

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Kyle and I Skyped with our parents, who were all overjoyed with the news of adding another grandchild to the family. A bit later, we told our siblings and a select few friends. We began planning out how we’d configure our living space for another little one, and I dug out all my old maternity clothes, and began taking inventory of new purchases I’d need to make to keep myself comfortable in the upcoming summer months with a big belly in tow.

A few weeks passed, and we were scheduled for an ultrasound to pinpoint a more accurate due date. On February 4, one month after finding out our exciting news, we woke up early and excited. We never had an early ultrasound with Judah, so this was a new experience for both Kyle and I, and we were so excited to see our little babe. I remember going into the doctor’s office and seeing a fellow patient come out of the door to the waiting room looking at pictures of her ultrasound, a smile spread across her face. She was looking at some of her baby’s first precious photos. This made my excitement grow ten-fold.

Shortly after observing this woman, Kyle and I were called back to the ultrasound room. I got ready, and my doctor came in, time to see our baby! She spread that warm jelly around my belly, and immediately, we saw our little babe. There it was! So small, but so defined. We could see it’s little nose, and the beginnings of what would be hands and feet. As soon as I saw it, my heart was overflowing with love. It was real. We were a family of four now. Judah was a big brother, and we were parents of two. I couldn’t wait to meet my child.

The doctor adjusted the wand once, and asked me if I had been experiencing any abnormalities. When I said no, she smiled at me. Then she let me know she was going to refocus the picture and walk us through what was on the screen. First, she said, “Here is the pregnancy.”

I beamed. That was my baby! Here it is! But I should have known. It was foreshadowing. She didn’t call it a baby. She called it, “the pregnancy.”

The smile that was spread across my face was quickly swiped away with the next five words the doctor spoke. Five words that changed me. Five words that changed Kyle.

“Unfortunately, there is no heartbeat.”

Unfortunately. Unfortunately. That word echoes over and over in my head on a daily basis. Unfortunately.

Immediately I began to weep. I could see my baby, my precious baby, but it was gone. Taken from us in an instant. Gone before I could ever hold him or her. Gone before we could meet it. Gone before we even knew if it was a boy or girl. Gone before Judah was able to play with him or her. Gone before we could say happy birthday. Gone before we could whisper, “I love you.”

Gone.

The rest of the appointment was a blur. I remember asking her how far along the baby was and she told me 8 weeks. After that, all I kept hearing was, “unfortunately” over and over again. That, and feeling the strongest desire to run so fast to the car and just sob uncontrollably. Somehow, we made it through the rest of the appointment, and thankfully, no one was in the waiting room when we left. I don’t know if I could have bared to see a happily expecting mother in that moment.  (*Side note, I’m okay with seeing expecting mothers now. In fact, it still makes me smile just as much as it did before.*)

Kyle and I cried together in the car, and I wept for the rest of the way home. The worst part to me was that my baby was alone. I couldn’t hold my child during their final moments. I couldn’t kiss my baby and soothe any discomfort it might have felt. I was helpless. Sure, my baby was with me, but I couldn’t mother him or her the way I wanted to–the way I would have, had I been able. I felt so devastated that its life and final moments were spent alone.

Kyle was so strong, has been so strong for me. He’s let me cry, talked with me, weighed our next steps, and took care of Judah when I couldn’t.

In the midst of our heartache, we have been surrounded by so much support. From new friends who barely know us, to old ones who call or send texts from afar just to check in. We have felt so much prayer from both family and friends, and our healing has begun because of it.

During our days of hardest grief, we were battling with what steps to take next. Frankly, insurance blows. It’s terrible, and I was so angry that we had to navigate over-priced deductibles and fees when we should have solely been focusing on grieving and celebrating the life of this little child. Luckily, God answered our prayers and has provided for us in ways we never expected.

This weekend, Kyle and I will be saying good-bye to the earthly parts of our baby. We know our child’s soul is already dancing in Heaven, and we cannot wait to be reunited someday.

Sweet baby, it was such an honor, such a privilege to carry you for the time I was able. I hope with all my heart that you know how loved you are. That you know how highly anticipated your arrival was. That you understand the joy you brought to our lives. And, so you don’t go without hearing it, happy birthday. I love you. 

British Mick.

We’ve been here in Oregon for two months now, almost two and a half. Truth be told, my husband Kyle is no closer to finding a job now than he was the day we decided to make the trek here. Oddly enough, I’m not discouraged. We’re not discouraged.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have remembered a status I posted sometime in December about getting a flat tire up in the mountains and receiving a great rescue from a British man. I’d like to share more of that story with you today along with the reason it has made such an impact on both Kyle and I.

Lets back up a bit. Kyle has wanted to get into student development at a college ever since I met him. The time he was in college and the people in residence life at that time were so influential to who he is today, it’s no wonder he has a desire to spread that type of influence to others. He is so passionate about this area and I truly believe God has given him the talents, patience, and heart needed for this work. So, every year for the last four years, I have stood by him while he has applied for job, after job, after job, at college, upon college, upon college. I supported him while he received his master’s in hopes of increasing his chances of selection. I’ve stood by while he has been interviewed countless times over the phone or on various campuses. But he always gets this answer: “You are a great candidate, and we would have chosen you, but we went in a different direction,” or “we went with someone with more experience,” or my favorite…and WORST, “you were our second choice, please try again in the future.”

After years of this, after years of seeing my husband beaten down from no, after no, I got pretty angry. Why would God place the passion for something like this in Kyle’s heart, provide him with the talents, and the desires to do this if He wasn’t providing an opportunity? Even worse is when people pass it off like it’s an easy job to get. Like he’d just be hanging out playing frisbee on campus all day, getting a free place to live. To those who feel this way: you try going to grad school full time while working a full time job, then spending hours each day after work filling out applications, going through rounds of interviews, traveling to different campuses, and discussing the issues like racism, homosexuality, future careers, academics, spirituality, and all the other issues 18-23 year olds wrestle with as they define who they are. You tell me how much you’d be willing to give up buying a house for your family to live in a tiny apartment attached to a dorm so you are accessible 24/7 to meet the needs of those you serve. You tell me how easy it would be to live on a small salary while working around the clock. You tell me how easy it would be disciple hundreds of students at one of their most formative times in life. You tell me then how it’s all frisbee and free t-shirts, and some easy gig.

Luckily, through it all, Kyle was working. He was developing his skill base, gaining world experience outside of the college bubble, and all the while continuing to dream about how this experience would further aid him to be better at his dream job. I watched as my husband struggled through working with children and adolescents with mental illness, navigating his way through helping them succeed in school, at home, and through their time on probation. We are so thankful for these jobs, they allowed me to stay home with our son, but it was hard. I watched as day after day, he would come home, emotionally exhausted from seeing and hearing devastating things, and drained because he wasn’t doing what he should be.

As time passed, I grew increasingly upset and impatient as to why he couldn’t get his foot in the door. I would watch as friends and acquaintances received jobs at colleges with absolutely no prior experience, or simply working there because it was there–not because it was something they were passionate about. All these things are fine, and a job is a job, but it’s hard to see when someone you love would give his right arm to be sitting where they were.

Time continued to pass, jobs continued to be filled, and we decided a change was necessary. We had always planned to move, we just thought a college would take us there. But, God had other plans, so we finally came around to the pushes He was giving us, and we made our way out to Oregon. And it has been so good.

We knew coming here and getting a fresh start would be great, but I was still feeling seeds of doubt regarding jobs, and let me tell you, I’ve had some harsh words with God about it. However, just as those seeds started to grow, our family decided to take a drive up into the mountains. It was in the 40’s that day, and being from Indiana, we thought this was a pretty awesomely warm winter day. So, off we went to explore.

No, it was not this beautiful the day we went up...but this is the destination we had in mind.

No, it was not this beautiful the day we went up…but this is the mountain we were in.

We quickly realized no one goes into the mountains in December. Once we began the climb, we were the only car for miles. We passed a few houses here and there, but eventually it was just us and the beautiful Oregon nature. Obviously, it was getting colder the higher we climbed. Eventually we pulled over and walked for a bit, I snapped some photos, and then we decided we better go, since no trails were open and we couldn’t go any further due to the massive amounts of fallen rock in the road.

We had Judah with us, obviously, and normally we’re pretty well-prepared for outings with our toddler. But that day, we weren’t…and I don’t know why. I somehow didn’t pack any diapers, something that is always a first to travel with us. I also failed to grab an extra blanket for him, or anything to drink. Again, I have no idea why.

We began our decent down to head home and we hit one of those fallen rocks. Then we saw a light on our dashboard reading, “low tire pressure.” Kyle pulled over and listened and heard that pssssssssssssst sound of the air steadily leaving and our tire going flat. At the time, we were on a gravel road, so we decided to try and at least reach the pavement. And we did. I think we made it about five feet onto the pavement before we were forced to stop due to hearing our hubcap scraping the earth.

Well, crap.

Kyle had never changed a tire before and I had no idea what to do, so I was of no help. There we were, halfway down a mountain, flat tire, cold winter day quickly turning to night, and a very underprepared family. Kyle got out the spare and jack and began working. He couldn’t quite get the jack in place, and the car thudded down. At that moment, we knew we needed help. We had no cell service, so I agreed to jog ahead with Judah in the stroller to try and knock on one of the doors of the houses we had passed a few miles earlier (I use the term jog loosely. I don’t think I’ve jogged for two years). I started on our trek, and then heard Kyle calling after me. He decided to come too because he wasn’t comfortable sending his wife and son away in the mountains alone. Understandable. As the sun steadily lowered, we began to stress more and more.

Then, out of the blue, we heard a car. Coming down from somewhere way up in the mountain was this jeep. We flagged it down and asked for help. And that’s how we met Mick. He happily agreed to help us, in his charming British accent, and said he just happened to be coming down that way to visit a friend, so he was in no hurry. Mick had our tire changed and pointed us in the direction of the nearest repair place within 20 minutes.

Kyle and I just looked at each other, baffled at how a situation that could have been seriously devastating, turned out to be a quick fix. We went through all the what-ifs together on our drive back into town. What if we didn’t make it to the pavement? What if we had stayed by the car for even just a minute longer? What if Mick hadn’t come?

It was clear. God was there. And we needed to see it. I needed to see it. I needed that flat tire more than anything, I just didn’t know it. Through our talk on the drive back, we realized that God has his hand in our lives. He knows where we need to be, He knows what jobs we’ll hold, He knows. Our job is to follow His direction, take His lead, and let Him intervene when our tires get flat.

So, Kyle is still searching, and his passion for college work is still stirring. And he’s going to keep trying. And you bet I’m still going to be proudly standing next to him the whole time.

 

Four Years!!

It’s been four years with this gem and I can’t believe it’s already been that long.

photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

I feel like we’ve known each other forever, but I still feel like newlyweds, and I think I always will. See, I’ve got a good one. He tells the corniest jokes, does crazy dance moves around our apartment, cooks a mean omelet, and loves me unconditionally.

Kyle and I formally met, dated, were engaged, and married within a year. Some might say that’s a bit crazy, but I say, when you know, you know. And we knew.

photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Because of our quicker pace, our first year of marriage was the typical adjustment and then some. Yes, it’s hard to get used to living with someone and being around them all the time, even when you are head over heals in love with them. It’s difficult to pick out dishes, throw pillows (ask my husband about that one), and decide on our bathroom schedule and who does what around the house. But Kyle and I also had to learn how to disagree, how to fight with each other, and how to communicate through that. Luckily for us, it only took a few months until we finally got it together…for the most part.

We continue to grow and learn with each other, constantly figuring out what makes the other tick. And that’s what marriage is, it’s continual, it’s not giving up, it’s pushing through and sticking it out, even if you don’t end up sleeping in the same bed when you’re fighting. (I know some people say, “never go to bed mad,” but come on, sometimes you just gotta sleep.)

This past year has been our most defining yet. We’ve had some of our highest highs and lowest lows. Highest being the birth of our son. I have always thought Kyle was the best lookin’ guy around, but then to see him as a father — SMOKIN’! (or should I say…steamin’ hot?…inside joke.)

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This year we have both changed jobs, moved twice, become parents, lived with parents, soothed a colicky baby, went through a miscarriage (more on that later), and determined we are going to move, yet again. Phew.

To say there weren’t some testy moments this year would be a complete and total sham. There were some. There were some nights sleeping in separate rooms. There were also some great discussions, deeper understanding of one another, encouragement, laughs, and a sense of family. I would venture to say, this has been the hardest, but best year of our marriage.

Kyle is an outstanding husband. He defends me, nurtures me, respects me, trusts me, and loves me more than I deserve.

Four years ago, I made a choice and promised Kyle that I would love him through the best and worst years, through thick and thin. It was the best promise I have ever made. Cheers our beautiful family, the last four years, and the next 65 to come. Happy Anniversary, Kyle.

photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Father’s Day

We had the privilege of having some photos done this weekend by the talented Annie Cline of Furore Photography. This gifted mama gave up the better part of her afternoon and precious time with her daughters and husband to photograph several families and give the profits to Destiny Rescue, a ministry dedicated to fighting sex trafficking. It’s very near and dear to both our hearts, and I’m so happy there are people like Annie to help spread the word and support such a wonderful cause.

I realized that I never wrote a post about Kyle’s first official Father’s Day. I’m sure it doesn’t bother him, but I feel like his day deserves a little recognition on the blog 😉 We didn’t have any big “to do,” just a nice, relaxing Sunday at home. Judah and I made Kyle some breakfast and gave him a photo album full of some great father/son moments. It was a great family day.

This preview that Annie posted from our session just melts me. My husband loves his son in such an amazing way and he deserves to have an outstanding Father’s Day every year. He is patient, kind, loving, playful, and nurturing in all the ways a father should be. The way my husband loves our son is a beautiful thing. Thank you Annie for capturing this moment and for using your talents to further the Kingdom.

Photo taken by Furore Photography

Photo taken by Furore Photography

Kyle is a fantastic father, simply put. It’s such an honor to be able to partner with this great man in raising a family. Judah and I are certainly two lucky people to have snagged this one. We love you to the moon and back.

Speed Dating

**This Post is Featured on The Emerald Homestead!!**

Along with the many other challenges and rewards that come with being a first time parent, you also have to figure out how to be a first time parent in a couple. How do you still find alone time with your spouse when you’re running on little sleep, there are toys strewn all over the house, you are way behind on laundry, and you’re wearing the same sweatpants for the third day in a row?

For the rest of this post, please visit The Emerald Homestead.