Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hello Wisconsin!

 Early this year Rob and I both had a sense that this would be a year of hope for our family. Of course, we had no idea what it would look like and how it would unfold, but we were trusting that 2016 was going to be a year of change--in a good way!

This picture doesn't even begin to do justice to some of the
beautiful countrysides we saw in Wisconsin!
We never could have imagined just how much change it would bring!

Late winter brought the sale of our condo, leaving us without any property ties to our current city.

Early spring brought a very surprising positive pregnancy test!

Mid spring brought a strong feeling that with a new little one on the horizon, we really wanted to pursue a return to full time ministry. Simply put, after a long season of waiting, it was time. Our whole family felt an itch to diligently look for full time ministry opportunities.

I distinctly remember a night in mid May that we set aside some time to look for jobs. Rob was absolutely convinced that he needed to put out at least one application that night. He had some school work to do so while he was working on one of his assignments I sat next to him and went to all of our normal job search places and started pulling up job postings. By the time he was finished with his school work, I had 15+ tabs open on my computer.

One by one I showed him what I had found and one by one he seemed to say, "They're not looking for someone like me, they want someone who is really good at..." In all fairness, it seems like nearly every church truly wanted to hire Super Man who can be all things to all people at all times.

But, there was one that really stood out to us. The job description specifically said they preferred someone who had some work experience outside of Christian ministry and they also wanted someone with a heart for small groups. Of course, they were hoping for some other specific things as well, namely a man with a gift for teaching and preaching, but they weren't looking for Super Man. In fact, it appeared that they might very well be looking for a man like Rob. As we read through the job posting again and again we finally stopped to ask, "Where exactly is this church?"


Isn't that somewhere over by the Great Lakes? Or is it more Mid West? Further East? Wait, where exactly is Wisconsin?

So, Rob sent out his cover letter and resume that evening, and as we've often done in the past, we waited to see if we would hear anything back from this church. Eventually we did hear from back from them. They had gotten Rob's application and they kept us in the loop as to where they were at in the hiring process. Then we started hearing from them with increasing frequency. Eventually we heard Rob was one of four they were seriously considering.
Obligatory PDX carpet picture as we set out to WI

Then we got the call one Thursday night.

They were down to one, and it was him. When Rob sat the kids down to tell them, Leeann who had recently read Lord of the Rings excitedly asked, "Are you the chosen one?!?!" Of course, we all burst out laughing.

Long story short, we flew to Wisconsin last Thursday. And we loved it! We loved the people. We loved the church. We loved the community. I woke up Saturday morning and asked Rob, "Do you get the sneaky suspicion that we are home?" He agreed that every step of the way so far, it seemed like God may very well be leading us in this direction.

We spent the long weekend with various groups of people. They asked us lots of questions and we asked many questions in return. One by one, the answers were what we had hoped to hear. Each step of the way we asked our kids how they were feeling and they both consistently said, "I hope they ask you to come!"

Rob got to preach on Sunday and we enjoyed a potluck after church. Then there was some Q&A time. After that we jumped straight into another meeting and then had dinner with some new friends at their farm. Our kids had already made fast friends with their kids and we all enjoyed our evening together.

Monday morning came around and we finally had a little bit of room to breathe and explore the town. The church would be voting that evening on whether or not they wanted to call Rob as their Lead Pastor. As we talked about whether or not we should take a few days to respond if they should offer the job, we came to the conclusion that there would be no need for further discussion. If they offered the job, we would accept.

We got a phone call after the meeting had concluded, and indeed, they did offer the job, and we accepted on the spot. The kids jumped up and down in nearly uncontainable excitement, and we sat down to start sketching out plans for a move across the country!

So, here goes nothing.

Our new church home
In just over two weeks we intend to load all of our worldly possessions into a UHaul and make our way across the country to Whitehall, Wisconsin. It sounds a little crazy to up and move that quickly, but I need to get settled in with a new doctor as soon as possible. Besides that, we are anxious and excited to start our new adventure!

Here are some pictures from our time in Wisconsin this past weekend:
Mall of America Sugar Shoppe
The most epic slip n' slide ever!
Mall of America Lego Store

Hearing a knife parable from one
of the most engaging gentleman I've ever
had the privilege of speaking with! 
Petting the animals
A little ride through the country side and story time time
Backseat drivers
Farm tour

Return trip


This picture pretty well sums up how we felt by the time we
returned to Portland night. Exhausted, but excited about
the future! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dear Little One-- How I Wonder Who You Are

Dear Little One,

You have no idea how much I think about you! I often wonder about your personality and ponder what you will look like. Will you look more like me, or daddy? Will you be short like your parents, or tall like your uncles? Who's personality will you take after? Will you be an introvert or an extrovert? Will academics come easily for you or will they be a struggle? Will you be outgoing or shy? Will you like sports? Will you be techy like your brother? Will you look out for the needs of others like your sister? Will you be a picky eater? A fitful sleeper? Will you be sensitive to noises, or sights, or sounds? Will you be wild and carefree or cautious and pensive? Mostly, I get caught up wondering how those personality traits are going to manifest themselves in your early days, and what our lives will look like as a result. One way or another, things are about to change around here!

All I know about you now is that you appear to be healthy and growing right on track, you are a boy, and you bounce back and forth doing karate in my womb on a regular basis. Based on your 20 week scan you appear to have a similar profile to Titus, but you can only tell so much from a black and white ultrasound picture.

The rest is yet a mystery. A really, really exciting mystery!

You are somewhere between 12 and 20 ounces this week. If you are born at the same weight your brother was, you will gain 6+ pounds between now and when you're born. The only problem is, I cannot for the life of me fathom where on earth you are going to fit within my womb! I already feel stretched to the brim, maxed out, and terribly uncomfortable. You kick me anytime I bend over as if to say, "Hey mom, stop squishing me!" I am consistently finding myself in awkward situations where I've gotten into a position while sitting or laying down that I cannot get out of, and I am almost constantly short of breath. At this point, it's just kind of comical... but I'm only half way there!

However, you are oh so worth every awkward moment, every ache, and every pain!

I just realized that almost every sentence I've written so far ends with an exclamation point. That's poor writing, I recognize, but it so perfectly captures where my heart is right now. My heart is so full. It's full of hope, full of wonder, full of excitement, and full of awe! I am giddy that every single morning when I wake up and every single night before I go to bed, you make your growing presence in my womb known. Daddy keeps catching me giggling and looking at me inquisitively, to which I regularly respond, "I just feel him moving"! It insights such joy in my heart that every last leap and twist and turn still sends me to cloud nine. I treasure these moments. I treasure you!



p.s. One thing I'm wondering right now is if you are going to be born in the Northwest or the Upper Midwest. Will you be a Beaver or a Badger? An Oregonian or a Wisconsinite? And most importantly, how do you feel about about wearing a block of cheese-shaped foam on your head?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cupcakes, Sprinkles, and Bacon, OH MY!

This weekend I had the pleasure of making cupcakes for a wedding reception. It was for an order that had been placed long before I knew I was pregnant, and it was for a friend, so I chugged through the back pain and swollen feet and spent the past few days "whipping up" 12+ dozen cupcakes in three yummy flavors. 

Let me introduce you to my new friends:

I never understood the maple bacon craze until now. Mostly because I choose not to eat a whole lot of meat and I haven't had bacon since before bacon became the "in" thing. But, of course I had to try some, you know, for quality control purposes. I candied this bacon and I have to say, I suddenly understand why bacon (especially maple and bacon together) have ended up with a cult-like following. It turns out that Baby is a fan of bacon, especially the bacon that was dipped in the leftover chocolate ganache! 

The cupcakes were beautifully displayed on this lovely dessert table and enjoyed by many. But mostly be me... because, well, I'm pregnant. And of course, I had to taste test these beautiful creatures every step of the way. You know, again, for quality control purposes!

I really enjoy having an edible outlet for my creative side, and honestly, it was nice to have a sizeable project to tackle to get me up and keep me moving. It's been all too easy to succumb to afternoon naps these days!

The best part is, at the beginning of the week I got a genius idea to invite my mom to drive up (from 4 hours away) to help me with these cupcakes, and as payment, she got to take my kids home with her for the next week. I'll let you decide who's getting the best of this deal!

It was a huge blessing to have her help, especially with the dishes. I'm pretty sure I could bake all day long if it weren't for the dishes. And the shopping. And the whole cleaning up after myself thing!

At the moment I'm kicking my feet up, relaxing, ingoring the powdered sugar mess on my floor, and dreaming about the future with my husband, all while the kids are getting fully spoiled at Grammy's.

Oh, and I'm eating leftover cupcakes. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dear Little One-- It's a...

Dear Little One, 

From the moment I found out about you I was utterly convinced that you were a girl. I envisioned frilly tutus and hair bows. I day dreamed about an introverted, quiet little girl with wavy brown hair and glasses sitting by my side quietly playing with her dolls. 

I envisioned a room full of Minnie Mouse style polka dots, and I collected a board full of little girl ideas on Pinterest. 

I had compiled a list of names so long that I knew I would have a hard time figuring out what to call you. Lydia, Elizabeth, Hattie, Norah, Hailey, Emmaline, Naomi, Lucy...

A few weeks before we found out your gender however, we decided what your name might be if you were a boy. We had compiled a short list but none of them were "sticking"... all the more reason I was convinced you were a girl. We had so many names to choose from!

But then a boy name stuck. Suddenly I had a hard time envisioning you as a girl, because I just couldn't let go of this name. I looked Titus in the face and thought, I think I could wrap my mind around cars, trucks, trains, and wild sound effects.

After our scare a few weeks back I decided to get the blood test that gives information about the makeup of your chromosomes. If something were wrong with your development, I wanted to know. Also, I was very persuaded by recognizing that in finding out more about your chromosomes I would find out your gender.

So, late one night (at 9:30 pm!) my doctor called and said, "Baby appears to be healthy on all accounts so far. Would you like to know the gender?"

"Yes! I would love to!" I whispered, trying not to draw attention to my late night phone call.

Then she told me the news...

This whole time I had thought I would be disappointed if I didn't end up getting to dress you up in tutus and hair bows.

But I wasn't. Not even a little. I knew that instant that you were exactly what our family needed! I rubbed my belly and tried your name out in my head, then I rushed in to tell daddy, who was also surprised, but oh-so excited! Titus was the only one who thought you were a boy. The rest of us were convinced you would be a girl!

The next day we told the kids with a blue-themed lunch and they also quickly became excited to learn a little bit more about who you are. Titus is a little bit concerned about having to share his room with a little one who will try to eat his legos, but I'm sure we'll work something out over time!

Yesterday we got to see you on our 20 week ultrasound scan. From what we could see, and what we were told, you are developing just perfectly and you are definitely a boy! We saw your brain, heart, kidneys, ambilical cord, gender, spine, limbs, and your sweet, sweet face. What a relief to my still anxious soul. Sometimes this whole thing just seems unreal, and far too good to be true!

You were (once again) quite active. This is the third ultrasound tech that has commented on how active you are. I have a sneaky suspicion that you might be less like the docile little girl I pictured and more like a rough and tumble, fearless little guy who never stops moving! The good news is, I definitely have experience in this department. Your brother went straight from standing to running and still has a hard time sitting still. I'm not going to lie, I get a little exhausted just thinking about chasing you around. I'm not 24 this time!

Regardless of whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, tall or short, focused or fidgety, etc., I pray you always know how much I love you. I look forward with great anticipation to learning who God has created you to be. It is my hope, dear son, that I can be a small part of helping you reach your full God-given potential. It is a joy I look forward to with the greatest of anticipation!



p.s. My friend Eroica took the family photos. I can guarentee this won't be the last time she'll take your picture!     

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dear Little One-- Half Way There!

Dear Little One,

You have been growing for 20 weeks, and you have 20 weeks to go (approximately). You are roughly the size of a banana weighing in at 10.1 ounces and measuring at 6.50 inches!

We got some Ben and Jerry's "Half Baked"
ice cream to celebrate your "Half Way"
Day today!
You are now yawning, hiccuping, sucking, and swallowing. You are also twisting, rolling, punching,and kicking. Daddy even gets to feel you move sometimes, without any doubt. You are quite active!

I, on the other hand, am not as active as I would prefer to be at this stage, but I do see light at the end of the tunnel and this pregnancy seems to be progressing rather quickly. I'm sure you'll be in our arms before we know it!

I try to pass time by thinking of my pregnancy with you in small increments. At first, it was counting down the days until we could see a heartbeat. Then I was counting one week to the next, praying for sweet relief from "morning" sickness (which still hasn't entirely gone away). I anxiously awaited getting past the first trimester, which held the highest risk of losing you. Then I wanted to find out your gender (which I already know, but haven't announced publicly yet). Next up is your 20 week anatomy scan, which is only 2 days away. Then I'll count down to 23 weeks which is when you begin to have a chance of living outside of my womb should something happen. Each week after that is another viability milestone, increasing your chances of being born healthy.

In late November/early December I'm going to start counting down the days until you get here instead of counting down the days of keeping you safe and tucked away in my womb. Ironic, isn't it?

In the meantime, your family is hustling and bustling with summer plans and projects. Most of my projects have been done from the couch with the help of Google, but I've also been able to fulfill a few cookie orders I already had scheduled for this summer before I knew about you. I've researched and ordered Leeann and Titus's school curriculum for next year, and I continue to schedule it out piece by piece, recognizing that I have no idea what this next year will hold. I'm hoping to more or less have the year planned out before it starts so they can keep going even if I end up in a spot where I can't help them as much as I'd like. Along with reading, writing and math, I anticipate that both your sister and your brother will always look back on this year thinking about how much they learned about pregnancy, childbirth and babies. Talk about a real world education!

I've also been doing a lot of research. On a church. In a town. In a state. That's kind of far away! We are currently walking through the process of figuring out whether or not daddy would be a good a pastor for a particular church, and whether or not the church and community would be a good fit for our family. So far, we are very excited about the possibility of this new opportunity, but it's a little weird to think you might not end up being born an Oregonian!  

This church's search committee has asked us a lot of questions, and have answered a lot of our questions. They've interviewed us and checked daddy's references. We are praying that God makes his desire for our family very clear in the weeks ahead, as we walk down the path of seeking his will together.

One thing you will learn in life, dear Little One, is that you simply never know what a day will bring. When I wrote our family update in March, I could not have dreamed what kind of excitement would be in store for us in 2016, but daddy and I were already calling it a year of hope. We still have no idea how this year will end, but there is plenty of excitement here in the middle as we watch God's will for our futures unfold!