Monday, December 2, 2013

Let the Festivities Begin!

Loaded up the kids last night to go pick out our Christmas tree. Woke up this morning to the wonderful smell of pine. Oh how I love getting a real Christmas tree every year! It is one of the simplest yet most wonderful little things about the season that I love.
It was a bit chaotic getting our impossibly shaped living room rearranged for everything to fit. Kids jumping and squealing wildly with excitement and running to and fro. Why can't adults have the same amount of energy as their kids? Haha!
It's December, and officially the most wonderful time of the year! I love the busy bustle, the carols, the gifts, the excitement of our kids, the smells, the beauty. Strange that it's going to be over 80 degrees today here in San Antonio! :P Let's hope it cools down again before too long!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Birth of Our Son

I'm finally getting around to writing my son's birth story. Dresden is 4 months old already and is as precious as can be! Seeing all the blues and greens in the laundry baskets, after the last couple of years with pink, still catches me off guard. As does the realization that I'm now the mother of 3! The transition to 3 children in such a short time, has been no easy task. It's a daily reminder to me of how much I have yet to learn, how much one can do while being exhausted, just how messy a house can get, and how big a mountain of clean laundry can be piled on the couch. Haha!

When I found out I was pregnant with our little guy, I will admit, I was scared...mainly at the thought of giving birth again. It was quite the journey over the next 9 months as God answered my prayers, put my heart at peace, and then gave me an amazingly empowering birth experience. I am thankful for the beautiful water birth arrival of our healthy baby boy right in the comfort of our living room...God is good!

After all the excitement and waiting for months, Dresden's due date (November 1), came and went. I went past my the due dates with both our girls, so though I wasn't thrilled, I expected this pregnancy to be no different. Little did I know how long he would end up taking to arrive... 

I was beyond miserable at the 42 week mark... I could tell our baby was very heavy, extra stretch marks were appearing, and my pregnancy waddle went from cute to hilarious. I had decent days and bad days at that point. One morning I'd be crying uncontrollably, and the next I would resign to the fact that I'd be pregnant forever :P  The day of the 14th, I went in for a midwife appointment. I was dilated to about 5/6 cm and pretty effaced. I had my membranes stripped, had some really good contractions consistently after that...then once again, everything slowed down. I went home and waited for my midwife to arrive and break my water. I planned on absolutely no interventions unless needed, but since my body appeared ready and I was so far along, we thought it was perfectly safe to give baby a "shove".  My midwife arrived and broke my water at about 7 p.m. It was a strong sack and didn't want to proved to be an interesting experience ;)

Then the waiting began. I was having contractions, but still didn't feel like I was in active labor. I walked a bit, but nothing seemed to my midwife and her assistant headed home. I talked with Vince for a while, we picked up our girls from my sister, tucked them into their own beds, then decided to head to bed myself and rest just in case something was going to happen... It was midnight at that point.

No sooner did I lay down, then the contractions started coming every 4-5 minutes. I was so doubtful after all I had been through with start and stop labor for 2 I just waited and continued to time the contractions. After a couple of hours, I decided that it was time to call our midwife since she lived about 40 minutes away and I really didn't feel like having our baby without her. lol!
Vince set up the birthing pool and I stayed in the soothing water until our Dresden was born. Labor was calm, peaceful, and powerful, as I felt the process take over my body every step of the way. Listening to music and praying, my heart and mind were ready for the difficulty ahead. At one point within an hour of when our little guy arrived, I needed to hear the encouraging voice of my Doula friend who lives in Michigan. Kathy was amazing over the phone...she prayed with me and helped remind me of the strength from within that God gives to women at just such a time. It was beautiful, empowering, and just what I needed to get through to the end. Love you girl!

Our midwife Salli was incredible as well. She was a quiet pillar of strength and reassurance. Having birthed 6 children herself, she knew exactly what I was facing. She did a perfect job of reminding me that my body knew just what to do on it's own...when to do it, and how to do it. I had never experienced this level of trust in God, and in myself as a birthing mother. It truly was life changing. I am blessed to have had the birth experience that I did. No, it was not, not at all! But I learned for the first time deep down, what strength I have. My husband was of course my rock and the one I held hands with through the most difficult moments. His presence is always my constant strength during the births of our children.

 Dresden Michael (Dresden is a city located in Germany and Michael is his daddy's middle name as well.) arrived at 5:17 a.m. on November 15 weighing 9 lbs. 10 oz. 22 inches long. Alert, peaceful, and having such beautifully colored skin. He "swam" with me in the water for a while before being passed off to his daddy.

 Our girls both slept through the entire labor amazingly! Vienna woke during my last push and walked into the room as Dresden emerged from the water. It was a precious moment...truly perfect timing...thank You God!


Dresden has been such a delight. Our biggest baby...and still growing like crazy. I love his laid back personality, his constant smiles throughout each day, and his love for snuggles.
I'm in awe that God gave him to us to raise, and can't wait to see what He has in store for our little boy as He grows. God is good!


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday, we had a delightful family outing at the Pumpkin Patch! Watching our children have fun is one of our greatest joys. Taking them to see new things, learn, and enjoy life is such a thrill! Life's road isn't easy, but the beautiful moments along it's path are priceless. Even the smallest of miracles like a smile on Sevilla's face or the mischievous twinkle in Vienna's eyes, the cooing noises of our baby who doesn't yet know how to talk, or the ramblings of our toddler who is daily learning new words.

Parenthood is full of ups and downs, feeling inadequate, daily being on your knees begging God for wisdom, and trying your best. All the sacrifice, the sleep deprivation, the lifting, the diapers, the tantrums, the messes, the discipline is all so worth it in light of their little giggles, their unique personalities, their unwavering love, and their eternal souls. Wow, I am in awe at the goodness of God in entrusting our two little angel babies to us. I love them more than I can begin to describe. They are such a gift. May I cherish each moment, even in the midst of often not having it all together. Even though I am weak, God is strong and He will meet their every need.

Truth is, as a mother, it is vital to wake up with a contagious joy that overflows to my children. I am often unsuccessful at this, but my heart longs to be. I want them to witness a faith, a love, a joy that they will want to have. Yes, children must be instructed, but let us not forget that the way they learn best is by observation. Just like they pick up on the things we'd rather they didn't...they also see and learn from our positive examples. I want to model for my kids what it means to be a devoted lover of Christ, a faithful loving wife, a patient and caring mother, a sacrificial servant to others in need. I have SO very far to go, but I know that life's path is one step at a time and God does not expect for us to "arrive" all in one day :) We must live out for our children what we want them to's more than words we must put before them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Burkina Faso 2010

Well... this post is a wee-bit overdue... like over a year. This is my first foray into the blogosphere, which is a rather daunting task considering all the brilliant posts my wife has such a talent for. So, without further ado...

Since childhood, Nikkae has had a heart for missions and dreamed of a life on the field. It's one of the things that really attracted me to her when we first met. How we get there together has been a nagging question ever since. Nikkae has been able to participate in short term trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. In March or April of last year we attended a informational meeting at Oak Hills Church about their short term missions program. The trip to Burkina Faso immediately captured my interest because of the water well ministry. But the cost for a trip for both of us to go seemed overwhelming so I didn't give it much serious consideration. A couple months later, Nikkae suggested that I should just go so I could catch a brief glimpse of what life on the mission field was like and see if it really was something I could see bringing my family into. So we took a leap of faith, not knowing where the money would come from. God provided just enough at the very last minute. Thanks to all who helped make that trip possible because it was truly a life changing experience.

Despite being thousands a miles away from my beloved family in strange land so different from anything I have ever known, I had never felt such peace that this is the kind of place God has been calling me towards. It's now my pleasure to share with you a few pictures from this experience. It has been no easy task trying to narrow down some 1200 pictures to a mere 20 or so (Nikkae found great humor over my angst during this selection process). Enjoy.

Apparently we went during a very beautiful time of year in Burkina. We were told not to be fooled, for much of the year the land looks much more barren than this.

Mr. Barry is a tailor that been befriended by the team in Dano. We had tea with him one afternoon. A very nice and gracious man.

Doing laundry outside of Mr. Barry's home

Every visit to a village began with after a time of socializing much like this. The approach used by the team in Burkina is very relational and this is a very important part of building those relationships.

Getting down and dirty with a well repair!

It works!!!

Access to clean water, something so easily taken for granted in America, improves nearly every facet of life in Africa.

First time I heard a story of Geoffrey Richter (left) being thanked with chickens, I have to admit I snickered. But when you realize how little the Dagara have, and yet you see them with grateful and joyful hearts giving up an important food source during the "Months of Hunger"... you can begin to see how honorable a gift of chicken can be.

Raising up leaders is a vital part of the process of building a self-sustaining Christian movement. Here, James Massie (left) observes as Andy Johnson (center) trains Yombechelli (right--and I know I've butchered the spelling). The team gets so excited to hear of the church spreading from village to village without their direct influence. The challenge then is to come in behind the church and help build a solid foundation.

The service we attended on Sunday made a huge impression on me. Christianity so new and fresh, this must be the closest thing I've ever experienced to what it must have been like for the early church. With only a few books of the Bible translated into their native language, the Dagara are hungry for more.

In Dagaran culture, parents select which of their children will attend school and which ones will have to focus on day to day living.

At dusk...

We went to the weekly market to pick up a few items for the widows sacks. People come from miles and miles around to sell their wares.

One of the widows that received one of the sacks that contained two meters of material, soap, comb, two pairs of flip flops, a sleeping mat, pasta, tomato sauce, and the biggest hit--bullion!

The widows were so grateful and proud of their gifts. I don't know how, but somehow they figured out how to bundle it all together and balance it on their heads.

A typical mud house.

Taking my talents to Burkina Faso... teaching Miriam and Miriam how to shoot hoops!

And the children... stole my heart...

Nikkae and I have hearing God calling us towards missions and finally we believe that God is calling us to this specific place, among the Dagara of Burkina Faso. We covet your prayers as we take the next steps in preparing for this extraordinary journey.