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7.31.2014

Our Baby Story

It had been an unbelievably hard year. Every area of my life had seemed to crumble around me, no part of it seemed to be left untouched by the hand of sorrow, and I had almost given up the idea of ever being happy again. The most notable, and painful, part of my life that had suffered was my marriage. After 7 years of near bliss, our 8th took a nose-dive into the toilet.

After months of tears and lots of marriage counseling, I knew that we were going to survive. Not because we were doing anything special to "fix" it, but because we had both finally surrendered our whole lives to the author of our souls. It took a royal screw up to make us realize that we needed help, not just to alter the fate of our relationship, but to fully heal our broken, needy parts inside of us. Only Christ could satisfy our deepest, most secret needs. As spouses, we could not have those met within each other and we had been trying to do just that for years. And we were found wanting.



And although we were finally free from the burden of trying to perfectly love one another, when all we were doing was loving weakly on our best days, we still mourned the death of a marriage we once had and struggled to embrace the reality of the marriage we did have: a broken one in need of a lot of fixing. So I began praying for redemption. Spiritually speaking, whenever there is death in the Christian faith, there is hope of a resurrection. So, I prayed God would redeem my marriage and resurrect it to a new life.

I prayed this for months in the bottom of my bath tub, my ears filled with water to drown out the noise of the world. And I just mourned and prayed.




August came and with it the heat of the south. But I spent my days inside, praying out the heart ache. One special day, I shot up my usual prayer. I asked the Lord to redeem it all, to redeem it so much that I would actually be able to forget all of my suffering.

He spoke to me, to my heart. It wasn't an audible voice, it was just like my heart filled up with words that I didn't place there myself and they were "loud" enough, or I should say pressing enough, to make me stop and listen. I heard Him say to me, "How would you like me to redeem it all?" I froze, literally afraid to answer. And without saying an single word, I just replied in my heart, "Send me a baby."

And I heard nothing back. Shaken, I toweled off and probably managed to dress myself before sleeping most of the day away. That is what I did then to tally the weeks, to make time pass more quickly. And I nearly forgot about my request.



One month and 10 days later, on September 29th of 2013, I started another day. But I started it differently. Instead of sinking to the bottom of my tub, I woke in a panic from a dream. In my dream, I was urged to take a pregnancy test. So, when I opened my eyes, I just knew I needed to take one, even though I didn't want to get my hopes up. However, I didn't have one! Now, in my dream, there was a vision of my bathroom drawer and in the very back, one was buried. This might all seem supernatural to you, and to me, it definitely was! So, skeptically, I walked into my bathroom and opened my drawer. I dug around...just to see. Maybe I had stuck one in there a long time ago and forgot about it? My hand curled around something that felt a lot like a thermometer. And honestly, when I pulled my hand out of that drawer, I was incredibly surprised to see a pregnancy test resting in my grip.

I had no choice to but take the darn thing at that point!



Within seconds, seconds, there were 2 pink lines peering at me through that little pregnancy test window and I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it. I had been taking pregnancy tests for 8 years, each time a nervous wreck that it would proclaim my jump into parenthood, and I was always relieved when it read negative. I had never tried to get pregnant a day in my life, and in an instant, God gave me a baby. What kind of God is this?

I dropped to the floor and wept. I probably cried the words "Thank You" a hundred times before I could pull myself together enough to breathe. I didn't think about a single thing in that moment, not a sole other thing, except for that baby and my God who gave it to me. My deepest need, my need of knowing that I am fully, to the depthiest part of my soul, loved, was satisfied in that moment on an olive green bathroom rug. And I've been forever changed by the fullness of how Christ chose to win me, and humbled that He'd distract Himself from the glory of Himself for a moment to meet me where I was, just an inch above linoleum.





I sat there forever. Not needing to be anywhere else. Not wanting to leave that place of joy. And I knew that it was a little girl. And I knew I wanted to name her Manassah, meaning, "The Lord has made me forget my suffering." (Blog post on her name here.) And I knew it all in just mere minutes of knowing I was with child.

And then, I had to figure out how to tell Hunter about all that had happened. He didn't even know that I had prayed for a baby or that I was wanting to be a mommy or that I already decided the baby's name and gender, for that matter! And, in a funny turn of events, he called me on his way home and cancelled our dinner plans (where I had planned to tell him all about it) and told me to meet him at his sister's house. We visited with her family long enough to not be alone until midnight. By that time, I was such a ball of emotions, that when we got home, I sat on the edge of our bed and blurted out the news. Tears exploded out of my eyeballs.




After the shock coursed through his body, and across his face, he came and bowed a knee. And he prayed for our family. And he thanked God for the baby, too.

And now, after a 41 week and 4 day pregnancy, and after the birth of a healthy little girl, we are trying to live there: in a place with our knees bowed.

***Photo Credit: Greyside Photography by Greyson Johnston***


7.22.2014

Introducing Baby Darla


Two weeks ago, on 7-7-14 our sweet little girl FINALLY entered the world, 11 days late and full of light. She has been such a source of hope and joy in our lives. After a long labor and a day bathed in happiness at her safe arrival, we named her the next morning.

It took us a long time, a lot of list making, a lot of praying and some quality time with her to finally name this sweet bundle. We wanted her name to mean something and we wanted it to fit her.

DARLA MANASSAH

Darla means "Darling One"
Manassah means "The Lord has made me forget my suffering"

The day I found out I was pregnant, the Lord gave me the name Manassah. Manasseh (Biblical Spelling) was the name of Joseph's first son, born after a lifetime of affliction. When he entered the world, the Lord had brought Joseph into a life of abundance and redemption and the blessing poured out on his life had made him forget all the hardship. How great of a God do we have that He can redeem us that much? I changed the spelling a hair, to make it more feminine :)

Darla came to us during a time in our life where there seemed to be little hope. Things had gotten hard and we had entered into a long stream of events that caused a lot of pain. When I found out she was to come to us, I wept tears of hope. She is our beacon.

We had several first names picked out that we really liked, but when we saw her face, none of them suited her. I had written down the name Darla months before she was born, just as an option, but Hunter never really liked it. It was thrown out almost immediately. The morning after she was born, I watched him bounce her around the living room, the sunlight flooding in. I had already read through the list of our favorites and we discarded them all. Hunter asked me to read some of the "outliers". I read off the name Darla and he said, "That's it! That's her name."

Then he looked down at her and said, "Hey Darla."

Welcome her with us!




6.24.2014

My Internal Struggle With Social Media and the Changes I'll be making as a New Parent


During our baby moon a few weeks back, Hunter and I sat down and enjoyed some frozen chai at an outside table on a quaint little street downtown Amelia Island, off the coast of Florida. I was on an emotional high since our time together had been complete bliss and as I was sitting there, I began fantasizing about kissing our baby's sweet face, as we had just recently seen her via 3D ultrasound. And then like a record scratch, Hunter interrupted my happy trance when he said out of the blue, "I'm not sure I'm OK with you posting pictures of our baby on Facebook." I was all, "Huh?"

Did this guy just tunnel his way up from under a rock?

(By the way, it's important that I mention that he is not involved on any, single social media site whatsoever. So, in that way he is an extremist, which is why I was totally defensive at first.)

He explained, "I've always been fine with you posting whatever you wanted because it was stuff about you, you know? But this baby is part of me...and I don't like it." I sat and thought about what he was saying and asked him to elaborate his feelings on the topic, since it was just so strange and foreign to me. Who doesn't post stuff on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or...you name it?

So he began.

And his thoughts really, really challenged me. He asked my why I would have "friends" on Facebook that I haven't seen or talked to in years and years (hello, high school!) or why I'd have any "friends" on there at all that aren't super valuable to me who I make an effort to connect to, at least somewhat often. "It makes sense," he said, "that you'd want something like that (referencing fb) because of long-distance relationships that mean something--like close friends and family. Beyond that, it's just vanity."

VANITY?!? I almost fell out of my beautifully uncomfortable rod-iron chair.

"Why is everyone so obsessed with sharing their lives with people that don't really matter to them?" he asked. "Do we just want everyone to see how unrealistically and seemingly perfect our life is?" I thought about that statement. Then he continued, "Also, I hate when I run into an old acquaintance in town and they ask me about something that happened a few days prior and I'm all like, 'How did YOU know my wife got a new car? I haven't talked to you in 5 years!' And it turns out they saw some post or photo on Facebook. And then, then I feel like I lost my privacy." He continued, "I think it's vanity. People only share the best photos of themselves or their kids or their life, as if to say, 'Look how awesome I am! Look how cute my kids are...they are cuter than your kids for sure. Look at how great my life is! Do you hate yourself yet?' It's not the way that stuff should be used. If you are going to use it to connect, you should connect. And if you want to share photos of your life, it should only be for the purpose of connecting and sharing with really important people in your life who miss those moments, not virtual strangers."

I almost didn't know what to say or think. Everything he was saying was ringing true to me. Why do I have so many Facebook friends...most of which I will never, ever talk to? For a long time, I thought it was because I used Social Media as a great tool for growing my photography business and for growing my blog. And it IS a great tool for that. But you certainly don't have to compromise your privacy or your husband's privacy or the privacy of your child to grow a business. People can "like" my business page without being a personal fb friend. And once I sat and thought about it, it was a little creepy imagining practical strangers peeking in on my life THAT I POST INTO THE VIRTUAL WORLD (so they aren't really creepy...I put it out there after all). So all of this to say, is that it made me question what I AM DOING. Not what others are doing. If I put it out there, then it's free game. So I need to monitor what I put out there. Duh.

But I also need to monitor my Facebook and Instagram, especially since I share personal photos and such on there. It made me realize, that as a parent, you have to weigh the pros an cons of exposing your child to the social media world, and you have to decide what makes you comfortable.

After thinking about it for a long, long time, I decided that I am going to scour my Facebook friends log and be critical about who I'm sharing my life with. It's not to be exclusive, it's to be honest about who I'm connected to. I don't need to share my life with someone I haven't talked to in 10 years. It makes no logical sense at all. Beyond that, if I can't manage to use Facebook properly (according to my own standards) I should probably not be on there at all.

Social media is a great tool and a really fun world, but I'm convinced that wisdom in this area is really, really important. It has made me question all avenues of sharing, even this blog. I need to really sit and think about how much of my life I want to put out there and what I want to keep for myself. Will my child find it weird or awesome that they were posted all over the internet when they were tiny and without a choice? Will it not matter at all? Will it bother them? Will they feel unprotected or exposed?

I'm not sure. Just lots and lots of thoughts swish back and forth as I try to figure it out in our crazy, connected, insta-world of over-sharing.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on this?




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