the searles

Will is 6! February 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — aksearles @ 10:57 pm

A much anticipated 6 year old birthday was celebrated a few weeks.  He finally agreed to let me take down streamers and balloons just a few days ago. (“But aren’t you going to keep them up all year?” While younger brother is patiently waiting in the wings for March to appear to celebrate HIS birthday..)

I haven’t written anything down for a weeks yet, because there’s so much that has happened this year for him, and well, me that it has been quite a big year of growing, stretching, yearning, and learning that its taken me some time to process it all. But I think I’m dawning on it all, and wanted to let my heart and words catch up together to be on the same page (ha).

Dear Will,

You have had quite a big year from 5-6!  We couldn’t be more proud of you, of your courage in taking on NEW things, and bravery to overcome fears, and excitement in learning new things and ways of the Lord.  You are compassionate, funny, sweet, silly, have deep thoughts and cute quotes.  You are very energetic, keep us moving as you never stop moving :)

This year you…

  • Began Kindergarten at Husmann School!  We were all a bundle of nerves and excitement, anxious to see how you would adjust and take in the ‘big’ school.  You have adjusted well, and continue to adjust to ever changing, ever higher expectations at school.  You love being at school with all the “fun” stuff (P.E., music, art, and friends at recess)  You are growing into the idea that you will continue to have to do hard things like math and reading, and writing.  But I’m so proud of your good attitude, and your sense of humor in all things!   We pray every day for you to be a light in your classroom, with your peers and in your school, and firmly believe God is answering and calling you out for good and big purposes!  You are confident in what you think and believe and even declarative (ie: Announcing to the class Santa isn’t real, and its really your moms and dads. ;0, and asking if other people believe in Jesus like you do! :))
  • Learned to ride your bike last summer!  Many frustrations and starts and stops and finally you were off, and even last week, you biked around the driveway in your winter coat, gloves and boots because it was dry.  It is fun to see you take off, and being more confident, brave and independent.  I’m looking forward to spring and summer days watching you speed away again.  (Not too fast, ok?  And remember your helmet..) IMG_7800
  • You broke your elbow this fall.  It was pretty scary stuff.  I have never seen you that upset before and knew that something was more hurt than the usual.  After a rest overnight, we decided maybe we should get it checked out and discovered your fracture.  Much to your complete satisfaction, the 2 week cast proved to be quite the attention-getter and we marveled at how that didn’t really slow you down!IMG_3967IMG_3968IMG_8179
  • 2 weeks after the cast came off, your ended up in needed several staples in your head after close contact/rough housing/fighting/scuffling with Isaac!  That goodness for insurance, a healing body and good attitudes all around.. You both haven’t slowed down yet! IMG_8241
  • You loved fall and winter activities, friends and lots of cousin time!
  • IMG_8261IMG_8280IMG_8474We are so proud of you and love you so much, Will.  I love watching you develop your skills, giftings, strengths, and interests, and love hearing you sing to God, and developing your sense of individual identity in Christ and acknowledgement of Him!



Life December 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — aksearles @ 8:54 pm

I’m a blob of emotions today.  I  know its part female, part droopy weather, but still here I am this afternoon, where Chris Tomlin makes me weep, and I took a longer than expected nap with a sweet 3 year old, and laundry gets left unfolded.

Its December.  Which means I usually take alot of stock in the past year, and in the future events, while still trying to sneak in as much as Christ centered little moments of the Baby Jesus, manager, Advent as we anticipate our upcoming Christmas.  Will thought after putting up the tree (Mom, this is so, so, so fun!) that meant Christmas and unwrapping presents would be coming the next morning!  Poor guy!  I know its hard to wait for exciting things.  In my heart, isn’t that true for me, too?  Hard to wait til the moment we’ve “arrived”, til my kids are independent, til we get open long awaited presents, til we see family after a long span of time, til we know our family, our finances , or our jobs are in a good spot.  God always reminds me its in these NOW moments he is still with me, working on the current issue of my heart (patience, grace, forgiveness, etc..)

So, we will wait to open Christmas, and yet in the meantime, enjoy the treasures of this season; opening up the days of reading through our Advent book, lighting candles each week for Advent celebration, anticipating with my children Christmas morning, looking for opportunities to give little nuggets that its truly more about Christ than gifts and what the world tells us.

I’ll continue to stay emotional today; sad that my kids are growing so fast, disappointed about aspects of my life that are so different from what God establishes, and yet rejoicing that His ways are far better than ever I could try to build on my own.

Thank you Lord, that you continue to move past my own struggles to bring good, faithfulness, and joy, even despite my own weaknesses and sin.

“I will give them singleness of heart and action; so that they will always fear me for their own good, and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them:  I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.  I will rejoice in doing them good, and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”  Jeremiah 32:39-40




Grace turns 1! November 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — aksearles @ 12:31 am

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I knew it would happen, but it snuck up on me so fast this year!  1 years old.  You are smiley and sweet, full of wonder and curiousity about the world around you, and always, climbing and moving, and crawling closer to your brothers (and your brothers’ things).  You are full of delight and joy in our home.  We are ever so blessed to call you a daughter and sister.  We feel your name fits perfect; God has graced us with such a beautiful gift.

We spent the day celebrating you, and even though you didn’t know what was happening, your brothers were sure excited for you!  We had a small little party w/ Grandma/Grandpa Searles, complete with dinner, presents and cake/ice cream.  Watching you squeal with delight at your first 3 (!) dolls is so sweet and awesome, and wierd in the land of Legos that we’ve known.  You fully hug every doll around its neck, and try to gouch out the eyes, as your excitement cannot be contained.

You are the apple of your parents’ eye, and your brothers adore you; trying to pick you up, and give you things,  and protect you (for the most part).  You are crawling and cruising; getting closer to walking on your own.  You love to climb the stairs to your brothers room, and love it more when we come up behind you, as evidenced by your high pitched squeal of delight.  You love to dance, and clap; love to try to make words using the cutest gurgling vocalizations that totally make sense to you.  You love all foods; but can be picky about your veggies (already?), you love anything sweet, and will point to any food we’re eating until we give in.  Puppies and animals are intriguing and exciting from afar, but oh so scary when they are near you. You  dislike baths unless its with your brothers; you don’t like being left in the nursery, but oh, look, here’s some toys.  You  continue to suck your thumb and snuggle w/ your pink blanket making you irresistable.  I am sad that you’re getting into the toddler years, but still cherish every snuggle and cuddle with you while you still have the baby-ness in you.   We love you, Grace!


On public school and Kindergarten.. September 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — aksearles @ 7:39 pm

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Dear Will,

Last week you started Kindergarten.  To say that it was an emotional upheaval for your mother would be an underestimate..  This journey has taken us through hills and valleys, lots of questions, pondering, picking the brains of respected peers, family and friends.  After much prayer and thought, we decided to enroll you in Husmann Elementary this past July.  It took us that long to consider options, hear a confirmation from the Lord, and for your mom to pick up her feet and actually register you for school!  All throughout your little years, -toddler, preschool moments- it was easy to have you underfoot; no big emotional decisions to make… just lots of emotional moments and physical tiredness throughout the days!  But now, I’m feeling it turn.  Turning to letting you become more independent, brave on your own, not needing me every step of the way.  I see you turn to me with one little wave before you head into school every morning.  Once you were shy, and uncertain, and now I’m seeing you becoming bolder and braver, more certain of yourself, your foundations, your capabilities.  I’m so, so proud.  We do not know any other family in the Kinder section.  We didn’t know anything about your teacher, the principal, or any of who your friends would be.  This season has taught me alot more of trusting in God who has your best interests in mind, who fully has you in the palm of his hands.  That’s hard for me.  I want to be the one keeping an eye on your friendships, interactions during home-play dates.  I want to know what is being spoken to you, with what intention while you’re away from me. And yet, God has called us to this season of the public school for a purpose.  I’m not sure what it is yet,  but I’m certain that God would never have called us to this, without having a plan for his greater good.   He’s also calling me to let go of control and let Him lead and guide you, and believe it or not, protect you better than I could!  So, every morning, our family gathers together and we pray for you, over you.  We are praying for your heart to be open to others, to be kind and compassionate. We are praying that your mind would be activated by the Holy Spirit and you would learn and take in wisdom. We pray that you would have a heart for obedience and respect for authorities.   We are trusting God in this season, even though its not always easy. I cried all day long the first day of school.  Not because I didn’t want you to be there.  I think I knew that was your place.  I cried because its a transition, a change in our family and in your life, and because I just miss seeing your face so dang much!   But God already has your weepy moms’ emotions in his hands too.  And for that I’m so grateful.

You are so inquisitive about school.  You tell me snippets when it comes to mind (“my favorite part of the day is rest time because we get to lay on our towels”  “I wrote the letter j today” ” I met a friend, but I dont know his name”)  I know the first few days even felt awkward for you.  You told me later you cried when you missed us, and I thought my heart would break open.  But I see you every morning, excited to get out the door, knowing there’s something special about school, and something new happening every day.  I’m so grateful God gave you a heart of excitement and energy for it every day.   You are paving the way for your brother and sister.  And when I hear you singing “I’m no longer a slave to fear.. I am a child of God”  I smile and praise God that all the while, during this new transition, you are a light to your peers and teachers.  Never, ever loose that identity in Christ sweet boy!  I’m excited to see God move and speak to you this year!


Little family April 4, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — aksearles @ 1:29 am

I’ll just pretend I haven’t missed any of the past 6 months, and just continue on as if nothing happened.  I mean in the realm of life, what’s 6 months, right?  Actually a lot if you happen to be 7 months old, so, I’ll just zoom ahead and start with filling the blog up with the youngest and work my way up, hows that?
Dear Grace,

You are  every bit a charmer and sweetheart as imagined from the beginning.  You have completely wrapped yourself around your Daddy’s fingers and have a death grip.  I routinely hear ” I don’t know what to do, she is so cute!” from your Dad, and it seems like you are playing that cute card well. You continue to bless us with smiles, giggles and coos, and you continue to be the most content and happy baby. Just the other night, my Mom and extended relatives were Skype calling from CA, and wanting to say hello, asked to see you.  You had been asleep for a good 1/2 hour or so, but I got you up any way in the name of family and love, and you cooed, smiled and did your thing for the next 20 minutes before promptly going right back to sleep without a peep.  I mean, seriously!?  Never. happened.before.    Thank you for being a sweet-natured, easy going #3 child (I mean, aren’t they all?) We eagerly (not too much, though) await your next few milestones, as you’re on the brink of scooting, sitting independently, and taking in more solids.  You laugh the hardest around Isaac who continually makes silly things out of nothing, and amazed at silenced by both your brothers’ antics, wrestling and jumping off furniture.  You have stood your ground with taking a pass on the pacifier, but content to fall asleep on your own.  Your dimples and dark eyes put me in a trance, and wait, do I see hair starting to sprout!?   Time will tell if its the lighter or golden hues, but for now safe to say you’re tracking after big bro Will. Love you to pieces, XOX Mom

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Dear Isaac,

You have come into your own with the turn of the corner into year 3.  It was a big year for you, with lots of big emotion and passion and energy.  Your dad and I have loved your spirit and spunk with every corner, and heard myself say “Age 2 is the cutest age, but also the most work!”  You had me going from sun-up to sun-down sometimes with tears and tantrums to start and end the day :)  Even so, I admire every little thing about you.  I want to bottle up the image I have of you racing with arms pumping after a ball, your brother, food, or to get out of the house.  You are silly and full of humor and always have a twinkle in your eye.  Your speech and use of words continue to keep up smirking and smiling and we don’t EVER want to correct your Boston-accent laden language  (IE: “Come ova here” ) and the sound of the slush of your s’s and ch’s!  Its what makes you unique and lovable!  Your latest sayings are in 3 year old fashion:  “I need some help ova here/its kinda heavy ova here” Need some prvacy, Mom” “That’s danjerous, Will” (Or for anytime you’re saying Will ~ “Whil”) and my personal favorite, “Thats not ‘propriate”  Isaac, you LOVE stories. Anything that can be made into a story, or a Once Upon a time moment and your eyes are locked, and your gaze is set.  I can see your wheels in your brain moving the story through and thinking about all the different characters and events.  You continue to love on Will (“Mom, Whil’s my best frwend”) which thoroughly makes me all melty inside.  You love giggling, eating, imitating Will, getting tossed, wrestled and acting tough, or  watching Planes 2 anything, and being with your buddy, Henry.  You have a soft side, too, and will be the first to show compassion, look out for Grace, or offer me a Band-aid.  When you turned 3, and opened up a gift that had 2 action figures inside, you immediately gave one to Will without thinking twice. (MELT).  You have  a soft spot for snuggling and hugging.  I love you to pieces, little man, XOX Mom

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Dear Will,

To my oldest and (sigh, weep) about to be a Kindergartener!  I don’t know where 5 years has gone, but certainly, looking at you, I know you’re not as dependent as you were once were.  You are capable, responsible, and have a great memory. You continue to love Childrens Gate Montessori and even though you don’t tell us a whole lot about your day, I know your brain is working hard taking it all in, and trying to recite it back to me. You remember every song learned from Ms. Karen, and love every detail of music. You love drawing and pointing out the parts of an animal book, or favorite types of animals you’re recently learning. You like numbers, but only as it relates to food (!) and in connecting it with live events happening around you/pretending its a game.  You LOVE computer games, and figuring out problems and using aspects of the computer.  You love to snuggle, read a book, and make up stories, songs, and games.  I love how you help and become such good buddies with Isaac.  The awe he has for you is like no other.  You are curious, thoughtful, compassionate and loving.  I am so blessed to be your Mommy.  You have a tender heart for others, and enjoy being with just 1-2 other friends.  Its what makes you special and unique; your quiet and loving pursuit to be with others, a leader and yet a follower all in one. You are aware of yourself and what others might want or feel, and that is a sign of the Holy Spirit in your heart.   We’ve had big discussions lately about you and education for next year.  It looks like you’ll be going around the corner to the “big” school in the neighborhood.  You have no idea the prayers we are praying for you, and on your path ahead.  We trust in God for all your steps, and are so blessed to see you seek Him in the little ways you know and are learning more about Him.  I’m so proud of the little man you’re becoming more each day. Love you to pieces, XO MOM

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Grace Evelyn – Birth Story October 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — aksearles @ 2:39 am

Dear Grace Evelyn,

Where to begin?  We are completely smitten by you.  You are a delight and a joy.  God is so, so good to us in giving us such a precious gift!

I must back up.. My memory is already foggy and days and nights are quickly mashing into another, but I want to capture the details of your birth, because just like your big bros, it contains such sweet and precious moments.  As mentioned, Friday, August 29th, my midwife informed me I was already at 5 cm and to start preparing for a baby to come!  Excitement, anxiety, anticipation all at once!  We tried to anticipate each labor pain as the real thing, but each pain would slowly subside to nothing and the wait would start all over again.  We tried to relax all weekend, and keep occupied, but was hard to do since our church family was up in Green Lake Wisconsin for annual Labor day weekend.  We were blessed to have Grandma Searles nearby for support and childcare, and camaraderie with our friends, the Sommerfields, also expecting baby any day.  We got away to the beach Sunday afternoon and soaked in last minute family of 4 moments. I was feeling uncomfortable, timing contractions on and off, but nothing that would send me further into labor.  Monday came and instead of waiting, and trying to stay busy at home, we ventured out of the house, doing errands as a family. At night, we headed to the Searles for a family dinner, walked to the school park and headed home.   I was feeling the weight of the busyness of the day with more cramping and aches.  Every time I was about to get discouraged or agitated that you hadn’t come (mind you, still one week ahead of your due date!) I would say a prayer and remind myself that all this work and cramping at home is putting me further into labor, and closer to meeting you!  In the end,  I am grateful for the weekend to mentally prepare for the birth ahead and felt it was very peaceful as we all anticipated your arrival.

Monday night we went to bed, and around 4:00am I started having solid, painful contractions.  10 minutes… 8 minutes…6 minutes apart.  I woke up your dad (he probably woke up with all my groaning and squirming anyway) and we knew it was time to go to the hospital.  How quickly your brain activates to pain of childbirth… “Oh yeah, there’s the pain, I forgot exactly how it felt..”  We knew we didn’t have alot of time, but made a quick call to Grandma and Grandpa Searles, asking them to come and cover the boys, while we loaded up.  We actually left before they got to the house, but we knew they would be minutes behind us.  Dad made the call to the midwife on the way to the hospital, and I vaguely remember telling him to take shortcuts to get to the hospital faster.  I had no idea how progressive labor was, I just knew it was really intense at this point! I was so thankful labor started this time of day with little traffic and while the boys were asleep!  It was an answer to prayer!  We got to the ER, and Aaron briefly chatted with a nurse saying I was already in labor, was 5 cm, and was probably much further along, he quickly ran out to move the car.  I then realized I was alone, and that the ER nurses didn’t really take me seriously.  I was moaning in pain with every contraction, and there was NO help from them!   I was started to grow agitated and…annoyed.  Aaron was back by my side and I started telling nurses I needed to push!  (OK, I really didn’t know if I needed to push, per instructions by Gretchen, one of the midwives, it would help them move a little faster in the ER…!)  Instead of moving things right along, they decided to lay me down in a stretcher in the ER. I kept hearing voices from one person to the other.. “Hey, do you know where we keep the OB kit?” What?  Are you kidding, I’m going to deliver a baby in a closet sized ER room with only a kit for supplies??  Ever grateful for the wimpy curtain they pulled across, because finally someone from OB showed up and checked me.  She then confirmed I was at 10 cm. and we needed to head upstairs. (Really?  I was loosing my patience)  I tried not to open my eyes during the wheel ride upstairs, and prayed I would not have to stop again.  We finally made to the OB unit and was greeted by Diane.  I remember thinking she was looking really pulled together and fresh, like she had just showered and put on lipstick, and I was jealous b/c I didn’t have time to brush my teeth..

Anyway, they were able to maneuver me into the delivery bed in between contractions, and Rebecca came in.  I was not used to her or her style but was surprised how little she engaged or communicated with us.  I had not had her for previous births as a midwife, and didn’t know what to expect. All this time I was trying to breathe and calm down in between contractions, all the things that they tell you to do.  I wasn’t feeling like it was going… right. Nurses kept coming in and asking random (stupid) questions like, “Is the baby getting such and such done?”  “I’m going to start putting an IV in now..” I kept being rude and pushing people away and telling them “No” but I didn’t care at that point.  The pain was intense, and I was growing frustrated that it was taking this long to get the baby out (It wasn’t taking long, but it felt like hours to me)   I was looking around for someone to boss me around and tell me how to get this baby out!  Every contraction came, and I was pushing against gravity, away from the pain, instead of letting it work with my body and to help transition the baby out.  We tried holding onto a bar, and finally one nurse said, “You have to get mad, and bear down, and get this baby out!” And “Do you want to have a baby or what?”  I didn’t know if  I wanted to cry or yell at her, but I do know that was motivation to adjust how I was moving and pushing.  And then everyone got a bit more excited.  I could tell contractions were actually helping and pushing was actually getting me somewhere!  I was hoping for a little more guidance like “I can see the head”  or “you’re crowning” SOMETHING to tell me how things were going, but I don’t remember much of that. I just remember Rebecca reaching and guiding and all of a sudden, I knew you were there!  And then that magical moment when I heard you cry and you were in my arms and there was instant RELIEF and JOY and LOVE all crashing in on me at the same time.  Its like the whole room breathed and I was so overjoyed the hard part was done and I looked down at yet another precious little sight; your snuggly warm body right on my chest. What a beautiful little baby. Perfect.  Everyone said you were very healthy, because the umbilical cord was VERY strong and thick.  But Daddy got to cut that and then we marveled at you in those first precious minutes.   There’s nothing in the world that prepares for that moment of holding your baby for the first time, and the emotion and joy that overwhelms.  We didn’t think long about your name, even thought we didn’t have it put together before we got to the hospital.  Grace Evelyn.  It seemed to fit you perfectly, like God laid it on our hearts; chosen for you.

You were born at 5:43am, just as the light was coming in from the window.  Your dad was so proud and happy and calm.  The first thing I noticed about you was how long and delicate your fingers were; and how you instantly reminded me of Isaac.  Strange because now, at 7 weeks you resemble Will so much more.  We knew you were a girl from around 30 weeks, but we kept it a secret from everyone else.  We had fun processing, and planning together, but also anticipating everyones reaction to a girl!  We called Grandma and Grandpa Rietema right away.  I had texted my mom just as were heading to the hospital but being around 2am, didn’t know if they received it.  They hadn’t.  It was a big shock to them to not only get a face-time call around 3:45am that I was IN the hospital, but that I had also given BIRTH already and that it was a GIRL!  Their reactions were priceless!  We also face-timed Uncle John and Aunt Erin, because living in Korea has its time perks, and they were just finishing the day, got to be one of the first to see you too.

Afterwards, it was a blur.  I was grateful that everything moved quickly; that you were a healthy baby and things were all unremarkable in the days following.  You are precious and a perfect part in our family.  The boys have adored you and loved to be close to you since day 1.  They have been their usual boisterous selves, including having a major fight and meltdown that ended in loud wailing the minute we got home from the hospital with you.  But you handled it ever so calmly, sleeping through the chaos!
We are so thrilled you are here, and life has not been the same, but for perfectly good reasons.  When it seems overwhelming and busy and out of control with an infant and 2 other young children, I am reminded that God’s grace is sufficient to parent and to love for exactly what you need.  He has chosen you from the beginning to be in our family, and we are the ones who get to be the beneficiaries of such a great gift!  We love you, Grace!

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Thoughts on 39 weeks.. August 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — aksearles @ 7:56 pm

On Friday, I had an appointment with Gretchen who let me know that I was already at 5 cm dilated w/ Babe #3.   To most this would send them to the hospital, but for me, this is normal-ish as the last two have slowly dilated until the time comes, then everything happens at once.  So, aside from having total mind games all weekend, we are enjoying the last few days of family of 4.  Its actually been more peaceful and quiet than I thought.  Normally on Green Lake weekend, we would be with our church family in Green Lake Wisconsin for family camp.  We are missing that time there, but have been planning to stay for a while now, so its not unexpected.  We’ve had the chance to visit another church we wouldn’t normally attend, go out to dinner, and having Diane’s company here has helped.  We also have friends down the street who are in the same position, awaiting their first baby, so we can commiserate together on the waiting game!   I’ve had contractions and cramps off and on; it seems like its been a never ending game of false labor, and timing contractions with no progression (even though I know its helping Little One come)

Even so, its led me to have more quiet time, more time to dig into the Word and realize this wait is NOT forever, there will be a change soon, and to embrace this small little season of waiting.  I’ve wrestled with some fears and anxieties, and the anticipation of birth and laboring.  I am feeling more and more that God has given me this time, these few days to mentally prepare for what is ahead.  What I’m taking away:

FEAR is not of God.  My body was created to do this thing, and He provides the Strength and never has he said will He leave me.

Zeph. 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, do not let your hands hang limp, He is with you.. He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with his Love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Fear is a liar and so is Shame.

Taking captive my thoughts is so, so, so, so, so hard, but so important to do in the moment by moment, day by day.

“You make me brave, you call me out unto the shores.. No Fear can conquer where you have made a way”

Prov. 14:23 A heart at peace gives life to the body

It is so gracious of God to allow me to have progressed halfway and not even have to be in the hospital.  I know this is not the norm for most women, and it has been a true and deep answer to prayer that there would be peace and favor in this birth process.

I have been surrounded by friends’ and family prayers and encouragement.  Those who have gone before me, with pain medications, or with natural birth experiences, and each one has encouraged and lifted my spirits.  I know the other side will be AMAZING to bring a new little person home and what an honor to be the carrier of this gift!

I have received phone calls, texts and emails that have been perfectly timed in need, including this:

“Surrender. Quit. Stop being in charge of your pregnancy today. Quit.  Turn in your notice. Tell your employer – Sir Fearalot that you are no longer in charge of strategizing pain management.  No more watching labor/delivery shows, reading testimonials about child birth, no Pinterest or dear diary entries that feed the temptation.  If you’ve become addicted to fear, as God whats at the core and stay curious about it.  What is he asking you to focus on in its place? Probably things which are lovely, good, kind, etc.”

Thank you all for standing in gap, waiting, praying, rallying around our family in this time.  Next time I will have more news how God used this time and turned it to a wonderful birth story for our little precious one!




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