Finding a Church Home

One of the big things of moving to a new area is leaving our church behind and searching for a new one. The church we came from we were members of for five years. It very much was home to us. It was different than any other church we had been to up until that point, and it challenged us. At the same time, it fit us so well… though the funny thing is we often felt out of place and not the norm for the church. My point is that as we look for a new
church, the old one greatly affects how we search.

Currently there is only one church we have been to and really liked. Though we have only visited three. We really do not want a mega church, which there are a decent amount around here. We would love to go to one of our denomination (PCA) but we know that ours was rare and the one up here is a much older congregation. 

There is one other church the that their website has caught my eye. I’ve listened to a couple sermons and enjoyed them. Theologically they are very solid (Though it’d be a switch to Baptist from Presbyterian). They have studies, prayer meetings and services throughout the week. It seems they are very good at building up the body. Not so sure about their outward focus…

Then there is the one we have visited twice and like a lot. It’s nondenominational, but the pastor has a Presbyterian background. Theologically I am pretty sure we agree(their website doesn’t have as much detail but from talking to the pastor I feel confident as of now). Its downtown, very diverse (as much as a church can be in this town), and clearly has an outward focus. They are small and have lunch together every Sunday. They have one study for men and one for women during the week. One thing we are somewhat unsure of is their small groups. It doesn’t seem they have any, but they have groups that meet every other week. A little unsure there.

We want to be challenged. We want to be discipled. We want to have opportunities to serve. It’s funny because our old church was very focused on urban ministry and we never got involved in anything. Yet its something we really want in a church now. I think the season of our life at our old church was one of healing, trials, and more healing. That isn’t to say we should have served more, because I think we should/wish we would have. But thank God for grace. I think we are concerned that if we are at a good, Bible preaching church that doesn’t have much of a focus on outward ministry, we will remain inward focused. After all, its a lot easier to sit around with like minded people than be around those who don’t believe like you.

As of now we are planning on visiting the Baptist church. We feel like we should at least visit…after all we could be making up ideas about it that aren’t even true. And if we decide it’s not for us, we will begin going to the other one regularly.

I’ve given a lot of time to this issue. Why? Because for us, our church here will be our family. We have no family here. Our church will be a huge part of our lives…or at least that is our desire.

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Kitchen demo

We’ve been busy. We bought a foreclosure. The housing market here was/is completely crazy. We were one of ten bidders! It was honestly our last shot at buying a house before  moving and having to find temporary housing. Obviously God wanted us to have this house!

This house has a lot of things we love, but also plenty we don’t. It’s not our dream home, and we know it is not our forever home. But here are some things I do like about it;

  • We LOVE the neighborhood. So quiet! Right next to a park. Close to everything, while being tucked away.
  • The open floorplan and large windows.
  • Three bathrooms, three bedrooms
  • Hardwood floors
  • Large garage and deck

Some things I’m not so crazy about;

  • It isn’t that big
  • One bedroom is quite small
  • It needs work
  • The backyard is not very big

We had plans for when we moved in to paint the kitchen cabinets, and work on the basement which had been finished, but was not in good shape now. Instead, we came in and completely tore the kitchen out. The short version is we realized the cabinets weren’t in very good shape and we hated the linoleum floors (in the kitchen and dining). We debated tearing it all out, but decided it wasn’t in our budget right now. Then Matt moved the nasty oven and saw wood floors below! We were so excited! So we decided to go for it and tear it all out, including flooring. We learned it was pine subflooring in perfect shape. After some research decided we would finish it. Then someone brought up asbestos. And everything changed. The black paper covering the wood we are almost certain was asbestos. We decided to try to remove it by laying wet towels down and scraping (thanks again to quick research). It worked great at first. But then became terrible. It was awful, backbending labor. I did it for three nights. We realized we were going to just have to paint it at some point due to not being able to get all of it off and sanding would release the asbestos. Then we realized it wasn’t working and we were going to need new flooring. We decided to just put in cheap affordable pine and paint it. It won’t be a long term fix, but since we didn’t budget for a whole new floor and we wanted wood, we decided it would do. Also, this took so much longer than planned/expected! So many times one of us would say “Oh we can probably do this tonight and be done.” and it would always end up being longer. We went completely kitchen-less for a solid three weeks. Did you know that freezer meals can actually be pretty tasty? Well, we didn’t either four weeks ago!

 

 Here is the kitchen when we moved in.

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Here is the asbestos (or what we are presuming is asbestos). Oh and we had to pull up all the staples…one…by….one….

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This is the new wood floor over the subflooring after we gave up on it. We planned to paint it, but when we saw it put in like this, we actually really liked it and thought about staining it. But for multiple reasons we decided to stick with painting. imageThis is what it looks like after being painted! Well after being screwed in, puttied, sanded, puttied again, sanded again, and then painted! And we finally have a range! We are still trying to decide on a fridge (we’ve been searching for a month so open to suggestions) so that tiny one is all we have. Yes, we are going grocery shopping a lot. Matt is planning on building cabinets himself so he set this up in order for us to have a functioning kitchen while he works on it. It’s going to be a long road ahead…but at the end, it’ll be worth it. Or at least that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

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A Fresh Start

Here I go reviving a blog I didn’t keep up to begin with! This time, it’s the beginning of an exciting new start for us, rather than a hard and sad time. Since I still need to remember who the anchor to my soul is, I decided to keep this blog.

Last Wednesday we moved to Michigan after living in Indiana for seven years. We have wanted to move out of the city for a while, but were not sure where. After many months of hoping, planning and praying, we are in Holland! We have so many hopes and dreams for life up here. I know how reality can be though. Which is why I wanted to blog about our life. I’m hoping that if for no other reason, it helps me stay accountable.

One of the biggest ways we want to start over is how hospitable we are. It’s not that different from when we moved to Indy actually. But then the church plant we were a part of closed and sadly we let that begin to shift our focus for loving people around us. Then began a season of hardship in our life and we let that turn us more and more inward. Though we were usually pretty open about what was going on in our lives, I feel like practically we didn’t let many people surround us. And lastly, our house was very small and did not make it easy or even practical to have guests over.

Why is this a big issue for us? Because we know that as life happens in the home, so do relationships. We don’t want to live a life in isolation. Though that would be fairly easy for us as introverts. Our default is to retreat to our home alone. And I’m not saying I think that is bad. But I am saying I want to stretch to love others by inviting them into my life, imperfect as it is. I want to live outward focused. And that means being stretched by being more willing to attend events when we are invited also!

However, that is by no means all I will write about. I’ve thought about what I want the focus of this blog to be. And well, rather than focus on one or a few parts of my life, it’s just going to be about everything. That will likely include motherhood, home renovating and decorating, Jesus and anything else that is happening in our lives!

As you can see, we are excited to be here! And it wouldn’t be right to not share a picture of my 16 month old (!!!).

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The Birth of Hope

This is quite long. But I wanted to remember as many details as possible. It also wasn’t written specifically for this blog, but I figured I should really update! It starts at 9 days overdue. I also wish I could share all the ways God worked leading up to her birth like confirming her name and such, but alas, there isn’t enough time.

Tuesday, November 18th

Had an appointment with the midwife. I expressed the desire to want to do something to get this baby moving. I really didn’t want my sister to have to continue to stay and be away from her family any longer. Also, my mom was coming into town Friday and Matt and I really wanted some family time alone before she came. So my midwife checked me (wow that hurt! Was not prepared for how painful cervical checks were!) and I was 2-3 cm dilated. However, baby’s head was not on my cervix. Because of that, we made a plan to do Miles Circuit (basically lunges, curb walking, ect) all day that day. We talked about castor oil and cohosh but I was really struggling with the idea of either.

Wednesday, November 19th

Decided to go see the midwife to see if anything had changed in regards to baby’s position and do a membrane sweep if possible. Baby’s head had moved some, as well as my cervix wasn’t as posterior. We talked and decided to do castor oil the next morning. I wasn’t thrilled, but really needed things to get moving. Continued to do Miles Circuit that day.

Thursday, November 20th

Went to bed at midnight. Bad idea! Woke up at 3am with cramps. They kept coming and I realized this was likely contractions! I hadn’t been sure what contractions felt like up until now! I got up and when I did felt a gush of fluid, but it stopped. I went to the bathroom, and then sat on the birth ball. Decided that yes, these were definitely contractions. I downloaded an app to time them and they were two and a half minutes apart! I thought that was odd because they weren’t that intense and didn’t expect them to be so close together so soon! I debated waking my husband and sister, but decided I wanted them to get sleep and wanted to begin this adventure by myself. So from 3am-6am I ate two bowls of chicken noodle soup, bounced on the ball and prayed. At one point another gush of fluid came out and I couldn’t tell if I was peeing my pants or if my water broke because it stopped.

At 6am I woke up my husband and told him he didn’t have to go to work and I didn’t have to take castor oil! Our prayers were answered! He got up and a little later got my sister up. We watched a show on Netflix that we had been watching for the past 11 days of waiting. Called the midwife.

The midwife and her assistant came over in the morning. Because the contractions were two and a half minutes apart, everyone thought things were moving fairly fast. Everyone just hung out for a while. Eventually the midwives left. I got in the tub a few times because I was SO cold! I was walking around in three layers and a blanket. Not sure why? That was definitely a challenging part for me because it made my body tense when I was trying to stay relaxed through the contractions. I spent a lot of time sitting on the ball closing my eyes during the contractions. I had done Hypnobabies, but very early on when listening to the scripts felt super annoyed! So scratch that! The midwives came back that evening. They wanted me to try to sleep (which I had done a little here and there) because I had gotten so little sleep and it was clear by now that this was going to be a long labor. I always expected a long labor…and I’m so glad I did! So they gave me some herbal concoction, and an IV. They wanted to make sure I was really hydrated. The contractions the whole time had never lasted more than about 40 seconds, and by late evening they were 4-6 minutes apart. Yes, going backwards! I probably got an hour or two of sleep without waking, which was great! But laying down really made the contractions intense so it was hard to want to lay on my side.

Friday, November 21st

By 8am, the contractions had slowed down to 6-8 minutes apart. My midwives came over and checked me and I was 5-6cm and it didn’t look like my water had broken (probably a leak that sealed up or baby’s head stopped it). They then began bringing up the castor oil. They were concerned about how little sleep I had had for so long now. And there was no guarantee this baby would come today even. I really did not want to take castor oil now that I was having contractions! My sister asked if doing lunges and such would be helpful. I decided to do that for an hour or two and see what happens (they wanted me to take the castor oil before noon). I went onto the stairs and my sister was on the phone. She had called her midwife to ask her opinion. She said her midwife felt it sounded like my body was doing exactly what it needed to. I was glad for that opinion. My sister agreed and felt I should just give it time. She put some essential oils on my feet and prayed for me. I then began doing lunges on the stairs and texted a handful of people to ask them to pray that contractions would pick up faster and stronger. I spent probably an hour and a half by myself in the basement/on the stairs. I had my headphones in and just prayed and got in a zone. This was probably my favorite time during the labor. It was hard to place my body in positions that made things hurt and to hope for things to get more intense, yet it was what I knew needed to happen. I can’t sing but I sang along to my playlist, letting go of the fact that people could hear me upstairs.

I came upstairs and sat with my husband on our bedroom floor. He was really awesome during the whole labor by the way! I had been worried, but he really was great and very present. He would remind me to breathe which was really helpful. Then he switched out with my sister. We had talked about trying to wait to get into the tub till I felt I had to get in. I didn’t feel that way, but really wanted to get in. Contractions were still minutes apart, but lasting longer and I didn’t feel I was able to handle them quite so well. We decided to see how dilated I was first. 8cm! Time to get in!

Noon: Things picked up really quickly then. I remember asking Matt to breathe with me to help me focus on making sure I was breathing. My sister decided to leave to get stuff to make me a smoothie. I had to pee and I knew it was now or never. Every time I went to the bathroom or just sat on the toilet, the contractions would be intense…so I knew this was going to be hard. It was. I peed, stood up and grabbed the shelf and Matt. They were one on top of another now and I had lost control, which was scary. This is when I said “I can’t do this.” Which I knew meant I was almost there! And Matt was so great to encourage me. Got back into the tub. Had a couple more intense contractions and then felt a little pushy but wasn’t sure. HE called for the midwife (it had been just us in the room). As she came in I had a contraction and felt my body push. Craziest feeling! I was like “Uhh I’m pushing!!” My midwife told me to let my body do whatever it needed and she would check me. I don’t remember her ever checking me. Matt texted my sister to get back asap! But I remember saying “I think she’ll have time.” Again, I felt very prepared as to what to expect…long labor, long time pushing.

12:30-3pm. Pushed. It was good to get to do something! But it hurt at the beginning of every contraction at my lower belly. It was intense. In fact, over two weeks later that is the only part of me that still hurts! I remember my midwife saying to lean back into it when pushing which did help because it freed me up to push like a bowel movement…and well, that seemed to work. I held onto Matt’s hands almost the entire time. I was hot and they kept a cold cloth on my shoulders and my head. At one point they suggested I stand and squat to push. When I did I could feel it helping, the gravity. They would have me move in different positions every now and then, including holding my legs to relieve some of that lower belly pain. I remember feeling like surely her head is crowning! But when I asked if they could see her they said no. That was discouraging. Eventually they could and they suggested I get out to push for a bit. It was really important to me to give birth in the water, so I said that and they assured me I would. They had me lay on my back with my legs up and push. I didn’t understand how that would help but it seemed like it did. I remember them telling Matt “You don’t have to look.” But he did. At this point they had me reach down to feel her and told me she had hair! Matt restated that I wanted to be in the water so I got back in…somehow! Then Matt and one midwife held me up by my arms as I pushed and the other midwife was ready to catch. By this point I could see her head almost completely out. She was facing the wrong way (ROP I believe) which caused her to kind of get stuck for a bit as she crowned. I remember seeing Matt looking emotional as he watched…this really made me push! I wanted him to get to meet her! Her head came out, and I remember my midwife doing something down there but I had no clue what. I just remember thinking “Oh good, she is going to pull her the rest of the way so I don’t have to push!” ha! Turns out the cord was around her neck and body. A couple more pushes and I hear “Ok reach down and grab your baby.” That was the best part. Bringing that baby up to me! There was really a baby!! We waited three long years for that moment and it was awesome. But at the same time, it was like I envisioned it so much, it seemed so casual and normal to me. Like yep, here she is. Her being so alert and starring right at me was so amazing.IMG_1663 IMG_1665bw IMG_1730bw IMG_1743bw IMG_1750bw Hope IMG_1771bw IMG_1724bw  Overall, that’s how I felt about the whole experience. It was so normal. Never did I feel scared or worried. I really feel I learned to trust my body. I knew I’d be overdue, I knew my labor would be long and I’d push for a while. My midwife afterwards said she was so glad I did it on my own terms…as in with no castor oil. They joked that my body just needs to be threatened with castor oil since it worked twice! It’s funny, it felt like such a big decision to have a home birth, but during and after it really feels like no big deal. As in, it felt right. It felt normal. My husband has since told people he is totally sold on home birth when he was the one who was more hesitant about it!
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She is the joy of our lives. I cannot imagine life without her now.

Here is Hope today !

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Update; 25 weeks!

So I’ve failed once again at posting all I’d like to say. I’ve had posts running around in my head but they never seem to make it here. So I am going to do bullets in hopes of at least updating. I’ll start from earlier and move forward.

~The first trimester wasn’t fun. I didn’t have terrible morning sickness, but it was there. I ate all the time to make it better and gained 7lbs, while most hardly gain or even lose weight. And I felt fat. Anyone in the IF community knows that you aren’t supposed to complain whenever you do get pregnant because everyone always get so mad at those who do. Well, reality is that gaining weight and my body changing is hard. Harder than I thought. I feel like because of avoiding anything pregnancy related for three years made me totally forget the reality that growing a human isn’t easy.

~There was a lot of heartbreak still. In a sense being pregnant turned my heartbreak into joy instantly, and in another sense, it did not at all. There was guilt I felt and still somewhat do. Why me? Why should I be so blessed to conceive au natural? After only three years when others wait far longer with much more heartache? Mothers day was the hardest this year than ever…and I was pregnant. I felt like a foreigner. And my heart was still with all those in waiting. I think it always will be.

~I also dealt a lot with feeling dumb for avoiding all pregnancy/baby related things because now here I am pregnant, with no clue what I’m doing! There is great wisdom in learning from others even if you aren’t in that season of life.

~It’s taken a while for this to really sink in. Even at our 20week ultrasound, it was so surreal. Matt still will say “I can’t believe we’re having a baby.” Feeling her move all the time definitely has helped it sink in for me. And even better, is seeing her move from the outside because Matt can feel and see her move too! It is so amazing to know there is a child hanging out inside of me.

~There is a new fear now. I mostly don’t let myself “go there” but if I do, there is a great fear of something happening to this little life. Hitting that 12week mark was great, but it didn’t go away. Hitting 24weeks has helped a lot. But I know the reality is that it is just beginning. I heard a guy recently say he didn’t know he could kill someone until he held his daughter for the first time. Yeah. I am in awe of how God made us physically and emotionally and how all of this happens without any of our doing.

 

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Here she is! She moved a TON at the ultrasound. It was very hard to for the tech to get a good shot. This is the best profile one. What a cute little nose, eh?

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This is what we posted on facebook to announce. Which was so fun!

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 Here I am at 22 weeks and 5 days. It’s great to have actual bump!

Overall, I’m feeling very blessed. I am so thankful the Lord has turned my mourning into dancing. I am so blessed to be called a mother. And I am super, super excited to meet this girl! November cannot get here fast enough! Ok except for the fact that we have a lot of preparing to do.

Continue reading

The post I hoped to write

….and yet now don’t know exactly how to do it. So here goes.

Three weeks ago today I realized my period was four days late. All week I had been prepared and waiting. Four days is definitely abnormal for me, but not so odd that I thought too much of it. Friday came and went with nothing and I began to wonder. I didn’t tell Matt because I guess that would make it more real and since, of course I wasn’t pregnant, why bother to get his hopes up? Saturday morning I did tell him though…because now I was beginning to go crazy. If my period didn’t come that day, it would officially be the longest cycle ever. Saturday was the Longest. Day. Ever. And somehow at the end of the day, I resisted going and getting any tests. I remember taking a shower that evening and just crying. I remember pleading with the Lord for this to “be it.” At one point I stopped and asked myself/Jesus, “Do I trust you if it’s not?” My genuine answer kind of surprised me…yes, I do.  I’ve been through enough now to know he is trustworthy no matter what.

We couldn’t sleep because we couldn’t stop wondering ‘what if.’ So we stayed up too late watching funny videos online to distract us. Sunday morning still nothing. I decide to clean the house some to distract myself. Then at 10 I went to the dollar store to get some tests. You have to ask for them and the cashier asked how many I wanted. “Four,” I said. “Guuurllll.” I just laughed and said, “I can’t help myself.” “Yeah, I guess you can’t.”

When I came home I told Matt I was going to take it and to set a timer so I wouldn’t look too soon. As I took it, I watched the clear line go through the window as I’ve done so many times. But this time…there was a line instantly. It’s been so long since I have taken a test, I couldn’t remember if the one line I always saw was the first or second part. So I pick up the box to read the directions. If the first line is there, it’s positive. I yell to Matt that it’s already working. “Is it positive?” he asks. “Yes.” I said shakily. It can’t be. This begins the OH MY GOSH!! thoughts. I take the second test out and do it instantly (these tests you pee in a cup so yes, I saved the cup). Same result. Instantly.

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We hugged. I cried. He laughed. And laughed some more. I cried some more. Then we began saying what we would say constantly for about a week, “I can’t believe it!” or “I can’t believe you’re/I’m pregnant!” Literally, that day we probably said it a million times.

We told close friends at church about two hours later. Then my mom who screamed! As we talked she told me my step-dad was crying. Turns out, he fasted and prayed for me to get pregnant. Which totally blows me away. We told most of the rest of my family that day and many other close friends in the next couple of days. Sharing the news with those who hurt with us and prayed with and for us has been one of the best parts. It’s like a gift on top of a gift! Many screams and tears were shed 🙂

Today I am 7 weeks and four days. Due date is November 9th. We had our first appointment and now our first ultrasound will be this Monday. It’s a biggee for sure…praying for a good heartbeat and as much as we can see as possible.

There is so much to say. This post would be soo long if I were to continue. But I do want to share some more thoughts on what the Lord had/has been doing through it all as well as what it’s like to be pregnant (me and pregnant in the same sentence?? wuh??) after infertility thus far. So it’ll give me motivation to post again…since I’ve pretty much given up on this blog. Kind of like how I gave up on a baby in so many ways.

All of that to say, I still can hardly believe it. I can hardly believe the Lord has given me such a great gift…and I’m so convicted of that in itself. But I am so thankful he is good to me even when I doubt.

And for those still in waiting, he is still good. He is still trustworthy.

 

Healing

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It’s been over two weeks since Matt’s surgery. He has done amazingly well. He has been completely independent for a week now. He takes walks daily, visited work, went to church and the pre-season Colts game on Sunday! Yes, it was probably a bit much too soon. But he was glad to get out.

The first week was definitely hard, but for reasons other than I expected. I thought he would be in more pain which would be hard for both of us. His pain has been very minimal the whole time. He went off the pain meds pretty early and cold turkey. It never occurred to me that he would have withdraws, but he did. Mostly hot and cold flashes for days. This meant very little sleep for both of us, mostly for him.

During this time I saw a lot of my heart. Can you guess what I saw? Ugliness. Selfishness. When he woke up the fourth time because he needed help moving, I wanted to say no. As the days went on with so much interrupted sleep, I had to consciously remind myself that I had to help him. It was like reminding myself that I love him! One of the last nights he said he had to yell to wake me up like four times and when I did wake up, I just stared as I debated getting up. I realize some people are simply servants. I am not. As a believer I am of course, called to be a servant. Que the conviction. Wait no. That didn’t hit until a couple days after I caught up on sleep. So I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to give me a servants heart. Matt’s mom was here helping out as well and I am so quick to let her do things that I should have done…like dishes. She did them every day. I’m so thankful for that! And yes, she was here to help, but I know my heart. I know that my heart was selfish and lazy in letting her do it constantly.

It was also a wake up call (no pun intended) as to what being a mother would be like. I understand how even getting 8 hours of sleep, but only in small doses can make one incredibly tired still. Also, the giving up of oneself. I know being a mother is hard and painful because you have to die to yourself. I think I know a little better now. But please know that my husband who is a big baby when sick, was definitely not that way for either surgeries! That has been fun to see his personality and his determination to be independent as much as possible. Just wanted to clarify that the comparison between being a mother and caring for my husband are of course greatly different.

Here we are prior to his surgery. 
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And here he is taking a walk outside the day he got home from the hospital. He walked around the neighborhood shirtless for the first four days or so. 🙂 This led to finding out a neighbors friend has the same scar as Matt…only from a stab wound. We may live in a somewhat ghettoish neighborhood….

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