Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Fun!

We have finally had some beautiful weather and it is starting to feel like fall.  After the hottest summer on record in Texas (don't think I won't be reminding sweet little Ruthie Grayce of that when she is 16 and sassy...), the change is very much welcomed.

Lolly and I treked out to the Dallas Arboretum with Gara and her clan to bum around and see all the "punkins".  Let's just say that it was Noah's heaven.  And that I am glad Lolly joined us :-)  I saw many moms flying solo with multiple kids... one even with triplets Noah's age.  I almost asked them what they were on and if I could have some... I'm not that brave! 

For most of the time I had Ruthie Grayce strapped to me (she hates the carseat... boo!) and chased after Noah trying to snap a picture that was actually in focus.  I took about 200 pictures and about 50 are in focus.  Ha!  Wish I could bottle up his energy for when he is a teenager and doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning.  When I tried to take pictures of Ruthie, she wasn't exactly.... thrilled. I did manage to get one or two smiles out of her, but the rest of the pictures are just comical.

Looking at the pictures of Travis and Noah together make me giggle. They are SO polar opposite. Luckily they still like eachother :-)  Travis gathered several pumpkins and made his own little photo-op in the middle of the walkway. Noah thought it was more fun trying to balance on top of them and feed Travis his snacks.

Noah also had his first experience getting his fance painted.  I was SHOCKED at how still he sat. He was so interested in what was going on! 

It only took about 4 seconds to get a few smudges...!

~The Grant Gang

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quiet Book Swap

A Quiet Book example

For you moms on Pinterest, have you seen the Quiet Books floating around?

Quiet Books are these awesome books made of felt with a simple activity sewn onto each page. Kids can tie a shoe, learn to count, works snaps, play with zippers, fiddle with buckles, sort colors and match shapes.

There's a great introduction to quiet books at How to Make a Quiet Book.

I would LOVE to make one of these but am a bit overwhelmed at the time it would take to create all of the fun pages. So, why not host a swap and hopefully cut down on the cost and workload?! And, it will be just in time for the perfect Christmas present.

A quiet book pages swap will work like this:

Each participant will make 20 (or less, depending on how many people sign up - we will cap it at 20) of the same quiet book page. Hopefully this will streamline the creating process and save money on the cost of materials. We will then get together and swap all of our pages until we have a fun book filled with awesome quiet book pages.

We have pre-chosen 20 different pages to ensure that there's a variety. We've tried to pick pages that teach a concept or can be played with creatively so that there's something for the child to do on each page.  (We may choose to just assign a skill, rather than a specific page, to allow some creative liberty.  Those details will be given after people sign up!)

**NOTE: All pages do involve some sewing and ironing fusible webbing.**

Want to participate?
  1. Email me ( by Saturday, November 5th and let me know you'd like to sign up. Please let me know if you're comfortable with sewing a more intricate page or if you'd prefer something straightforward and simple.
  2. We will then assign everyone a page. We will be emailing you with your specific page, instructions and links to any directions/templates to help you along.
  3. Everyone will then have about a month create their pages. We will be getting together some time at the beginning of December to exchange our pages.  Specific date to follow.
  4. Out of towners are more than welcome to participate - you'll just have to cover the cost of shipping & handling via Priority Mail.
**This idea is taken from Still:Living

~The Grant Gang

Saturday, October 15, 2011

RG's Birth Story: Joyce's rendition

September 9, 2011 (7:53PM CST)

Dear Ruthie Grayce,

It’s so funny that there’s already so much to say to sweet girl. Your first name was fuzzy. Then Fuzzette, then Ruthie Grayce. I don’t know you yet – none of us do, but something tells me that Ruthie Grayce is the perfect name for you. The journey to meeting you has been quiet an adventure. It’s been one that has had many people before the Throne of God Almighty. There are so many reasons why I already love you, but that fact you in your short existence have drawn so many closer to God is a huge one. You’ve also given your little family the opportunity to experience community in its richest form – through service. You see little Miss, you will have no recollection of these days in your momma’s belly, but this season has been engraved in our minds forever.

About 10 weeks before it was safe for you to make your arrival, you have been showing signs of wanting to come out! Your mom has been dealing with symptoms of pre-term labor for a long time. Because of this, she was on modified bed rest for several weeks. It has affected every person in your family. Your daddy had to take on momma roles while continuing to tend to his daddy responsibilities. I’m sure it was tough for him, but he stepped up to the plate beautifully. Your big brother got to be “shipped off” to different adventures daily. At first it may have been difficult for him, but eventually, I think he loved all the fun things he got to do! Your Mor Mor, Lolly and Tita Mandy got to spend their summer break hanging with your big bro and loving on your momma. That’s just the beginning…there were numerous people that took Noah for playdates, brought food over, came to clean, and more. The coolest thing, though, has been watching people rally around your family in prayer. People have been so eager to lift up you and your momma so that you would “cook” as long as you needed to in your momma’s belly and both of you would be safe. Your momma was even given a poster board of scriptures to lift her up in this time from perfect strangers that work with your Tita Mandy. Now that, little one, is just amazing!

Currently it’s about 8:30pm in Texas and your momma is experiencing contractions 5-6 minutes apart. It’s wild to think you may actually be here soon. During this whole pregnancy, your mom has claimed Hebrews 12:1-2. It says, “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning it’s shame sat down at the right hand of God .” Ruthie Grayce, that scripture has come to life through your little life.

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses

Your daddy and momma are surrounded by an incredible cloud of witnesses. They have an incredibly strong family who have faith in God Almighty. Another part of their “great cloud of witnesses” is the church you are being born into. The community there is God-fearing, selfless, and faithful prayer warriors for one another.

let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us

Your momma has been diligent throughout this whole pregnancy to not allow her mind, heart or spirit to be bogged down. She has been disciplined in her mind to not allow things to deter her from the plan God had for her. She embraced His will through this journey so beautifully! She has been before the Lord asking Him to shape her perspective. She’s experienced His Peace in ways that she never expected.

let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us.

Perseverance has definitely characterized this pregnancy. Early pregnancy was difficult as she was often nauseous. She was still nursing your big brother, so she had to learn early on the sacrifices of caring for two children quickly. There was a season where your mom was frustrated that working out was a challenge. She wanted to be able to have good work outs regularly and wasn’t able to. Just a few short weeks after sharing that with me, she was put on bedrest. She faced that reality gracefully before her Lord and ran the bedrest stage stretch of pregnancy with an incredible attitude. Now in the final days of pregnancy she is delighting in having you in the womb. She’s done so many craft products preparing for you. She’s filled her freezer with food to provide good home cooked meals during this season of transition to a larger family because she won’t be able to cook for a while. She has persevered beautifully in each season of pregnancy!

September 10, 2011 (2:08am CST)
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning it’s shame sat down at the right hand of God .

This is the part of the scripture that first drew your mom to this verse. Your momma longed to share in Jesus’s sufferings by enduring the pain of labor because of the joy set before her in having you baby girl! She has fixed her eyes on Jesus so incredibly diligently. If there was ever a day she was discouraged or in a “funk” (as she likes to call them), she ran to the Throne of Grace and laid there before her Lord. As our Gracious Father does He grounded her and gave her Peace over and over again. Your momma has lived this scripture and it has sharpened her tremendously in awaiting your arrival!

It’s now 2 in the morning and your momma is confident she is in active labor. I just spoke with her and she sounds awesome! Her voice is quiet and attentive as she concentrates in laboring for your arrival. She speaks in excitement, though her voice doesn’t sound excited. That’s the incredible oxymoron of labor sweet girl…. your momma’s heart is leaping from her chest in shear joy that you are making your way, but her body aches and groans as you make your way!

She will be calling Dr. Cindy her incredible midwife to let her know how she’s progressing. Dr. Cindy has been an incredible gift to your momma through this whole pregnancy. She’s been an incredible care taker as she’s navigated the waters of this tricky pregnancy, but more so than that, she’s been a friend, mentor, and sister to your momma. Time and time again, she has wisely counseled your momma to remain before the Throne of God wrestle out her difficulties with Him!

You, Ruthie Grayce, will be born in the comfort of your own home. You will be surrounded by those who love you. Many will be laboring with your momma in praying for your arrival! I just sent out an email to several of those women who have asked to be a part of your momma’s “gang” in lifting her and the birth team up. Your daddy will be a constant source of support and encouragement to your momma as he was in your brothers birth. Your grandparents will be pacing joyfully wondering what they can do to help. Your Tita Mandy will be a little busy bee either getting something done or praying for the labor. Gara will be snapping pictures to document this incredible experience for your family. She’ll be praying and supporting your momma every step of the way! I sweet Ruthie Grayce am wide awake on the other side of the country longing to be at your mommas side, but so thankful that I can be a big part of this labor in praying. For your momma – that’s really her biggest desire is for people to be praying. This is what makes your arrival so powerfully miraculous. The Power of God, will carry you from your momma’s womb. Because your momma has been intentional about asking Him, we will get to see that power in the most tangible way through prayer!
9/10/11 4:54AM CST
“9/10/11 would be a really cool birth date!” was one of the first things your momma thought when she first learned of your due date. So here we are 5 in the morning on 9/10/11 and your momma’s getting ready to push. I was able to pray with her just a few minutes ago. When I asked how she was doing she said “Great!” God is so good Ruthie Grayce. For your momma to be great at this point is just a testament of God’s faithful hand. We are praying for your water to break. Everyone is so ready to meet you. Dr. Cindy says once your water breaks you will be here! Such excitement! I have gotten to skype! I got to see your momma in the birthing tub. Your daddy is standing next to her outside the tub coming to her side when she has contractions. Dr. Cindy is also at her side supporting her and monitoring. The house is full of people! Mor Mor, Lolly, Popsie, Tita Mandy, Gara, Maryn is sleeping (I think in your bed!!) Dr. Cindy and DonnaLynn, and of course your brother Noah! He’s woke up but is playing in his room! Daddy said he’ll need a nap. Dr. Cindy said, “We all will!” On other side of the country is your Uncle Aaron and Tita Joyce sitting by the computer. Your daddy and Uncle Aaron just talked on the phone. They share an incredible friendship. They’ve been friends for over 13 years now. Your momma and I are so thankful for the bond they share as and it serves as a foundation for the friendships our families share! We’re praying, waiting, and skyping as we can! I can’t rest, so I’m writing to you sweet one!

6:13AM CST
We just prayed that the Lord would break your water. The contraction immediately following that, you said you felt like you peed. Dr. Cindy said your fore tissue of your sac seems like it broke. The next contraction you said you felt like you peed more. This is within minutes of praying for your water to break. That, sweet girl, is the Lord’s faithfulness. In prayer we get to experience it!

6:34AM CST
Your momma is getting tired. Several of us read scriptures over her and encouraged her to remember the Lord’s faithfulness. We prayed that she would only hear God’s voice and that satan’s voice would not have any influence in your momma’s ears.

I can’t help but share with you about your daddy during a contraction. Your momma is standing up and with her arms around your dad’s neck. The contraction is about to begin. Your dad looks up at your Tita Mandy and gives this huge smurk smile. Your dad has this smile that a big laugh lurks underneath, but he holds it in. I don’t know what he was smiling at, but it was classic of your daddy. Your momma loves this smile and usually when she sees it she breaks out into laughter!
6:48AM CST
Your momma moved to the bed. Your daddy is on the bed with her and she is leaning up against him. We pray this will be a comfortable move and help her to progress well. Your momma is getting a bit discouraged. She is tired. We are praying God’s strength over her. Dr. Cindy checked her and they learned she was only at a 6/7. So she stopped pushing and is working on resting/relaxing through contractions.

8:15AM CST
Tita Mandy called me to talk with your momma for some encouragement.

Do not fear for I am with you. Do not look anxiously about your, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10

Your momma has claimed these promises over and over as she faced various fears throughout the pregnancy. We are claiming them for her again this morning praying that God would shatter any lies that tell her she can’t go on because she’s too tired. We are trusting God’s hand of help and strength. Come on Ruthie Grayce. Display the Lord’s glory!

11:10AM CST
You are born! I cannot give you any details as I was at the park with my boys. Your Tita Mandy called me. I heard they saw head and seconds later, I heard your cry. I cried. What a joy to hear you for the first time. Some else will have to fill you in on the details of the final three hours of labor, but I will say I am certain it was glorious!
Glorious Father I thank you so much that Ruthie Grayce has been born into a life surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. I pray that over the course of her life, You will always provide for her a great cloud of witnesses to fellowship with and grow with. My she learn at an early age to throw off things that hinder her from the perfect plan you have for her. May she practice discipline in steering away from sin that will entangle her. May she see this modeled in the lives of her parents. May she have her eyes continuously fixed upon You Jesus as you have written and will perfect the story of her faith. May she be intimately connected with you that your joy would characterize her life. May she run with great intentionality and perseverance the race you have before her. Praise You for this little lady, born into this scripture. Through your powerful Spirit, I pray that she would live into it!
I love you dear little one!

~Your Tita Joyce 

~The Grant Gang

RG's Birth Story: Gara's rendition

In my total type-a planning mode, I had been joking with Krista that the weekend of 9-9 thru 9-12 would be a good one for Ruthie Grayce to come since Lovey was gonna be in town. I knew the help would definitely be needed/wanted on my end. I had guessed 9-9-11 as Krista's delivery date since it would be the exact same gestational age as Maryn's delivery. Since I felt like I single-handedly (obviously God was in control, but He sure did hear my prayers to get everybody on the 2 under 2 bandwagon!) willed them to conceive, I figured I might as well single-handedly will her out. ;)

Krista said if RG was gonna hang in that long then she might as well hang on til 9-10-11 since that would be a cool birthdate!

I had been praying about RG's arrival. First, for her to STAY IN, and then, for her to GET OUT, but always for her to get here safe and sound! Funny how prayers change over time. I was excited and anxious about my role in RG's birth. Krista had asked me to do the birth photography for RG's birth. I have never taken pictures of a birth. In fact, besides my own two babies, I had never witnessed another's birth. I have lots of great friends that have babies, but have never been there for any of them - the labor, the pushing, the recovery. I definitely wanted to be the photographer although wasn't quite sure of the logistics since I knew I would have a little one of my own. I agreed and had faith that it would all just work out. And, as always, He was faithful and it was beautiful. Although I was nervous about the photography aspect of it, I was way more nervous about the other roles I might be asked to play during the labor and birth. BFF, supporter, advocate, prayer warrior, comic relief, etc. I prayed that I could be the person Krista needed to be and when she needed me to be it. I hope I was that person!

I sent her a text at 8:37 pm asking if we could have a baby (and move the treadmill) on Saturday. She said she would see what she could do. They went to Fuzzy's, and I told her what a fitting last meal as a family of 3. After that convo, I'm not sure why I didn't get my crap together. HELLO!!! God was kinda telling us that it was about time. But did I take a shower? No. Did I pack my camera bag? No. Did I think thru details of Miss Maryn? No. I went to bed. DUH! I got the first text about midnight. Krista is confident "this is it." I start diligently praying for effective contractions. You ask that I pray for sleep first. I read that as go back to sleep! Krista texts me at 2:14 says Cindy is coming soon. Her mom calls about 3 and says that Krista would like me there. In my stupor, I didn't ask any important questions like OMGAREWEABOUTTOHAVEABABY? I freak the heck out. I was so stinking excited I couldn't even think straight! Brandon thankfully is calm during this freak-out. I guess I was confused about does Krista want me there as a BFF or does Krista want me there as a photog? If just the latter, then I was freaking out because that meant baby was coming RIGHT THEN!! It sure would have been a good question to ask! In my defense, my baby girl had just started sleeping thru the night, and I was enjoying that blissful sleep! I get my camera bag ready and tell Brandon to check in after while, and he looks at me like I have 3 eyes. He's like aren't you gonna take Maryn?? Oh yeah, exclusively breastfed baby upstairs, yes, I should take her. I text Krista telling her I'm on my way with baby in tow. She graciously offers up RG's crib. Aww, first sleepover. Maryn and I arrive about 3:20.

Krista is all smiles. I give her a quick kiss on the cheek and haul Maryn into RG's room to nurse her and get her back down. I pray while I'm feeding. Prayers for Maryn to sleep, prayers for Krista and RG, prayers for Cindy (her midwife), and prayers for me. I was anxious and nervous, but put on my best game face. Maryn crashed back out like a champ and it was time to work. I'm so thankful I was the one behind the camera - I looked terrible! I joked that I enjoyed this laboring business way better when I was the one supporting the laborer and not the laborer! Dr. Cindy and several other women present all agreed! I had never been involved with a birth with a midwife or a birth at home so both of these were new to me. I kinda sorta loved it! Something so neat and comforting about being in your own surroundings and surrounded by people you love. I loved that the midwives were all God-fearing women who not only provided medical advice, but also scriptural encouragement and Jesus love.

Being pregnant and delivering a baby is the most spiritual experience I've ever had. Something so "bigger than us" about the whole process. A journey about provision and faithfulness like no other. Krista was by my side during my journey, and I was so excited to be by her side during hers. I knew that God would make His presence known throughout her labor and delivery. He did just that, and I was blessed to have been a part of it. Midwives roll with a much more "your body knows what its doing so just kinda go with it" approach. I've come to appreciate it, and it was so interesting to see it all play out. Krista had been pushing in the tub for a while. She was exhausted. Micah was exhausted. Dr. Cindy encouraged her onto the bed where she determined that she was not as dilated as she had thought. After this discovery, Krista could have easily been upset, discouraged, angry, etc. To be honest, I remember holding my breath waiting to see what Krista's response was going to be. She was relieved!! Totally GOD talking there, friends! She was glad to know that there was not some other impediment to the pushing and that she was encouraged that it would just decrease the pushing later on. If her body had led her to push then, it must have known what it was doing. Krista decided that she was gonna try to get some rest (since she wasn't ready to push). I kinda played an "intermediary" sometimes. I generally was all up in the business of Krista and the midwives so I got to hear all the discussions and then would go relay to the rest of the family.

Krista is laboring out of the pool for a while. An email had gone out to a chosen group of girls that had all been praying for Krista and RG during the whole pregnancy and especially the last few months. I responded to all asking for some specific prayers and laying out what had gone on. Responses started pouring in. I loved reading to Krista words of encouragement from her dear Jesus friends. I loved how God used me to reach out to them. One special friend asked if we needed a coffee run (it's maybe 7ish by now) and said she lived close. Before I even knew what I was doing and definitely before I asked anybody else (Krista included), I had asked her to stop by for 5 minutes to pray over Krista. I knew first-hand the power of prayer during labor and delivery! I will never forget the smile that came over Krista's face when she realized that it wasn't mine or Mandy's or Cindy's voice praying. Some fresh mojo is always good! I lined up another for about an hour down the road. She came with her scripture book and read scriptures in between contractions. Finally, a sweet life-long friend came. She prayed and loved on Krista, but her usefulness did not end there. She played with Maryn in the next room when RG came into the world. Loved having a hand in getting these women to shower Krista with love. Krista's mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law all helped with Maryn. You could just tell that they were anxiously waiting their turn with their own sweet baby girl!

Throughout the labor, I felt myself taking charge (even when I had no business!). It's just sort of what I do in stressful situations some time. Noah was waking up, and we needed a plan. :) Me and the grandmas were asking Krista about what to do. She gave us the look and told us to figure it out. We walked to the living room, and I layed out the plan. I told Lolly to haul Noah to my house. He would be attending Joshua's birthday party with Travis, Lovey, and Brandon. :) I didn't want one of them to have to take Noah away and miss RG's arrival. They all went along with it, and I was so glad that Lovey was here! After we got Noah off, I sent Micah to get some rest. He mumbled something about "nobody being his boss" and then traipsed off to Noah's room. (Little did we know he actually got in Noah's bed!) Micah had been working hard and doing lots of "strength training" with Krista in the pool. There were plenty of hands to help Krista labor, and we didn't know how much help he was gonna need to be when it came time to push again.

I'm seriously glad that nobody needed to pee because when the time came for RG to arrive, there was no time! Krista was definitely the epitome of her body taking over. It was wild. A little something from the Discovery channel or Animal Planet. She started growling and howling and roaring. Ok, maybe not. :) But she did get this fierce look in her eyes, and I firmly believe her body started pushing before her mind was engaged in what was happening. Almost like her head was not connected. She pushed halfway thru one contraction and then RG arrived on the next push or contraction. Honestly, its all a bit of a blur. It's a wonder any of the photos are in focus. I was crying and sniffling and hugging the rest of the family just like I was one of them. In fact, I'm pretty sure I am one of them. :) At one point, while Krista was laboring in the pool, she needed some pressure applied to her hips. I had been doing this throughout (even using my chin to hit a pressure point that felt good on her spine), but had not done it in the pool. Let's be honest - the pool had some goo in it. In fact, I was very excited when I saw goo, because I knew it meant progress. Hadn't really wrapped my head around sticking my hands in the goo-ladened water though. I literally had to do a little processing before I decided to stick my hands in. The decision went like this - if Krista needed a kidney, would I give it to her? I said yes - so off my hands went into the pool. That's friendship, folks!

While I feel like the photos ended up a bit amateurish, I wouldn't change it a bit. Taking pictures was the afterthought. Being there to love and support my sister was what was first in my mind. Krista was a pillar of strength and was so graceful even in the painful throes of labor. Her groundedness in her God and her full surrender from the beginning made for a beautiful journey. I love that all of those
For more pictures, visit Gara's blog.

~The Grant Gang

Friday, October 14, 2011

RG Birth Story

I can warn you from the beginning: this will be long.  I know the details do not matter to many, but they matter to me, and I imagine that they will matter to Ruthie Grayce one day as well.  From the very, very beginning her life has been a testimony of the Lord's goodness and love for us, and I have no doubt that her life will continue reflect that love.  So, grab a cup coffee and stay a while. ;-)

Early along in my pregnancy, I got "stuck" in Job 1:21.  "The Lord gave and the Lord has take away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."  It ran over and over again in my head.  I heard the song on the radio, on my iPod, and in church.  The scripture would come up in bible studies and devotionals.  I just couldn't get away from it, and it Freaked. Me. Out.  I did not really share this with anyone as I tried to ignore process through it.  I mentioned it a bit to my accountability group, but that was it.  I prayed about it, and finally came to the conclusion that the Lord was just trying to remind me that although He had taken away my energy and although I felt really crummy, He had given me a child... and I was to be thankful.  I kind of let it go at that point, but it still nagged at me. 

Fast forward a month or so and I had an appointment with my midwife.  I was measuring several weeks ahead and we were not sure why.  Cindy gave me several possibilities (even joking around that she was glad we were getting a sono to "just be sure there aren't more in there"), but was not concerned at all.  I walked away from the appointment not thinking much about it, until several days later.  I was at the gym and I just kept hearing that scripture over and over and over again in my head.  I started to freak out.  I texted Cindy and, sensing that something was off with me, she called.  Right in the middle of the gym I lost it.  I gave her the background and she listened.  She encouraged me, out of the blue, to talk to Micah about it all.  And she left me with an encouraging scripture: "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you."  Isaiah 26:3.  That scripture became my lifeline as I clung to it for the next 5 months. 
This was posted in our kitchen for most of my pregnancy.

I decided to email Micah when I got home from the gym and spilled my guts (I had not shared with him any of this prior).  Cindy must have been really tuned in to the Holy Spirit as Micah's response was exactly what I needed:
"Thank you for sharing your feelings with me. It sounds like you are being attacked by fear. It seems that your feelings seem to be stemming from this fear that something is going to go horribly wrong. That is error or the devil trying to challenge you. I think you have to resist the temptation to buy into the fear game. If you believe in an omnipotent, saving, merciful, and loving God then you should have no reason to fear. Of course we are all imperfect humans and we sometimes allow fear to creep into our thought, but we have to come back to our faith in God and trust in God. We know that God is perfect, he created us and he is in the process of creating Fuzzy right now. If that is true, then he is doing a much more perfect job than we could ever imagine or do ourselves. Fear can paralyze you if you let it. I try to remember that no matter what happens, even if bad things happen, I know that God will still be there. I can always call on Him for comfort, support, and direction. Nothing that happens to us can ever destroy the personal relationship that we have with God. When you recognize that relationship as indestructible you don't feel like you have a huge burden on your own shoulders. You don't have to know all the answers, you just have to rest in knowing that God does and strengthening your trust in Him. The only solution is to turn over your fear to God, tell him that it is too much for you to bear, and ask for comfort.

Check out how many times the word fear or afraid appears in the Bible. Hundreds. I wonder if it was the Lord who had you stuck in Job 1:21 or if it was fear that had you stuck there. It sounds like Cindy was very reassuring that she had absolutely no reason to be concerned. My recommendation would be to pray about it, ask God if we should get a sonogram earlier than 23 weeks and see how He convicts you. I have been praying for Fuzzy and I will continue to pray for you and Fuzzy."
He was spot on.  I was being overcome by fear.  (side note:  How stinkin' awesome is my husband?!)  I was really caught of guard as fear is not an emotion I default to very often... in fact, I am often quite fearless.  It was foreign to me, and I imagine that is why it took someone else to identify it.  In that moment I knew that God was using this little life to teach me a lesson.  I reached out to my friends and my family to pray for me as I worked to overcome fear, and I searched scripture to find verses of comfort.  It was sweet to know that my community surrounding me was praying for us.  Over time, my fear was replaced with trust and I felt a great sense of peace.... or so I thought.

Such an encourager!
A few days after I turned 29 weeks I had some intense pain in my lower abdomen, accompanied by some preasure.  The pain was so intense it brought me to tears (and I never shed a tear during the 36 hours of natural labor with Noah!)  I disregarded it temporarily until I briefly mentioned it to Gara.  I beleive her response was something along the lines of "call Cindy... now."  So I did.  Cindy encouraged me to take a hot bath and drink a glass of wine, something they suggest when you are term and think you are in labor, and told me I needed to stay in bed, laying down, for the next several days.  Long story short, I was having early labor symptoms (several other symptoms followed this) and was put on bed rest for the next 6.5 weeks.  I guess God wanted to make sure that I was really over this whole fear issue. :-)

I handled this situation much better than the previous one, but I still had my moments of freaking out.  I cried many times, fearful that I was neglecting Noah in the last few months we had together... fearful that I would not be able to be a good wife and mother... fearful that the scripture I was stuck in months prior really meant something... "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away".  At least this time I was able to stay in front of the fear and not let it take hold of me.  I had plenty of time to read and reflect, and God and I really got to wrestle some things out.  He was still working on me.

My family and friends were all sorts of amazing during this... it made me really realize, once again, what an amazing community I am surrounded with.  There is something to be said about a community of believers and the way they love on eachother when there is a need.  Micah stepped up and picked up where I left off.  He kept the house picked up and the family fed.  My family coordinated "Noah duty" and took him on sorts of fun adventures.  My mother and sister in law got the nursery started (oops... I guess I should have not procrastinated on that!). Friends offered play dates and our sunday school class brought us meals.  Things were so well taken care that I could exclusively focus on keeping baby girl nice and comfy as long as possible.

36 weeks arrived and we were both in great shape... and I was SO excited to get back to my "normal" life.  I wasn't sure how much time I had before Ruthie Grayce decided to come, so I hit the ground running.  Noah and I spent some really sweet time together as we prepared for the addition of a baby sister.  We went to the park, went to the zoo, and ran a gazillion errands that had been neglected the last month or two.  My mom, mother in law and I cooked meals for the freezer, and I made finishing touches on the nursery.  The Lord was so sweet in giving me this time... I was actually enjoying my pregnancy!  I glowed, and I felt good.  I still had contractions very regularly, and even got to the point at 38 weeks where I could time them.  At 39 weeks I had an evening where I timed them and they were every 5 minutes consistantly for 2 hours.  I kept telling myself that each contraction I had was one more contractions I never had to do again.... and hoped that each contraction was cutting off 10 minutes of labor.  ha!

When I found out I was pregnant and calculated my due date (September 8), I told Micah that it would be cool to have her on Sept 10... 9/10/11.  I think we both chuckled, thinking that only going 2 days past my EDD was a dream (Noah was 2 weeks late).  On the morning of September 9 I woke up having contractions.  Not painful, and not intense, but regular and consistant contractions.  That being said, I had experienced these regular contractions in the evening for days... weeks... but not that early in the day.  I did some shopping that morning and arranged for a lunch play date at the park with some good friends.  I took an awesome nap and headed to Gara's that afternoon for some distraction.  I texted Cindy to give her an update, fully expecting it to be another false alarm, but wanting Cindy to have plenty of heads up just in case (she has an almost 3 year old and a 9 month old.)  Micah and I went to eat at Fuzzy's for dinner (pretty ironic as I look back!) and the contractions continued, but at this point Micah could tell when I was having one.  They still weren't painful, but they made me stop in my tracks for a minute. 

As the evening went on, I started sensing that we were atleast at the beginning of the real deal.  Cindy encouraged me to take a hot bath and drink a glass of wine to slow things down so I could get some rest.  I ended up calling my dear friend Joyce, who recently moved to New York, to keep my mind occupied while in the bath... I was miserable in it!  Getting to talk to her at this point was really sweet... up until this point, we both had been a part of eachother's labors and births... and we were both really sad that she was not going to get to be there in person for Ruthie Grayce's.  Knowing that she was one of the very few people who knew I was in labor was a sweet way to start out!  I talked to another sweet, sweet friend (who will remain nameless until she shares the news) who just found out she was pregnant and rejoiced with her, then decided to head to bed.  Looking back, I love thinking about her starting her pregnancy journey as I was finishing mine!

I woke up around midnight, just as Micah was going to sleep, and had trouble going back to bed.  I layed in bed for a few hours as the contractions grew closer together and more and more intense.  I finally decided I need to "call in the troops" around 2:00am.  I woke up Micah so he could help me get the bed prepared and the birth pool blown up... which pretty much took an act of congress. It went something like this..
Me: "Beeb?"
Micah: (Lifts his head, very out of it..) "Huh?"
Me: "Things are really starting to move along.  I need you to wake up so we can fix the bed and get the birth pool blown up."
Micah: Puts his head back on the pillow.  No response.
Me: "Micah.."  (Nothing in response...)  "Micah!"
Micah: "What? Huh?" as he sits up...
Me: "I need you to... oooooohh.... ummm.... hang on...." (as I have a contraction)
Micah: Lays back down.
Me: "Micah! Get up! I am in labor!"
Oh, my sweet sweet husband.  I wish I slept as soundly as him!
My mom, my midwife and assistants, Gara (who played multiple roles... primarily BFF & photagrapher), my mother in law, and my sister in law all arrived within the hour.  We cut off our bracelets in celebration, looking forward to the hours ahead!  I labored while walking around and chit-chatting, stopping to breath through a contraction and then went back to enjoying everyone's company.  My play list was going with hymns and praise and worship music as I moved from position to position. I got into some funky positions this go-round... things I would have never thought to do but my body encouraged me to get in them.  It was really neat to experience my body taking the lead and to be in an environment that allowed that to happen. 

Around 4:30am I starting feeling pressure... lots and lots of pressure.  My contractions were getting much closer together, sometimes one starting as soon as the previous one finished, and I was getting pretty uncomfortable walking around.  The birth tub was ready, so I decided to labor there for a while.  Things did not slow down a bit... in fact, they continued to intesify. Cindy decided to check me (I had not wanted to get checked before this point) while I was in the tub.  Right as she started to check me, a contraction began... and I asked (or told... or yelled...) for her to stop.  Not the best feeling in the world!  Although she didn't get to spend much time checking, coupled with the overlapping contractions and feelings of pressure, she felt like I was complete.  She encouraged me to start pushing when I had the energy. 

Skyping with Joyce
I pushed.  And I pushed.  And I pushed.  We prayed, and scripture was read over me.  My prayer & encouragement cards were read.  Joyce skyped in to pray with me and speak words of encouragement over me.  And nothing happened.  I started getting frustrated.  It didn't make sense that it was taking so long with no real progress.  My heart rate was fine... Baby girl's heart rate was fine... but nothing was happening.  I think I pushed for close to 2.5 hours. 

Pretty sure Micah got a hard workout supporting me (both physically and emotionally)

The song playing is "I Surrender All".... didn't realize it at the time, but pretty darn fitting.
We realized we needed to change something.  So, around 7:15am I decided to get out of the tub and push on the bed.  I delivered Noah on the bed, on my back, with Micah supporting me from behind, so maybe I would feel more comfortable this way.... and they could get a better look at what was going on.  After one push Donnellyn, the assisting midwife, asked to check me.  I was up for anything at this point... I wanted to know what was going on!  I could tell almost immediately something was up.  She felt around, changed positions, and felt some more. Then the news came: I was only dilated 6cm.  I do not remember much about that moment except all I could think and say was "Thank you, Jesus! I am so relieved!"

My box of scriptures and notes of encouragement
As I look back, all I can think is "What the heck?! I was relieved that I was not nearly as far along as they thought I was and just pushed for no reason for 2.5 hours?!"  I had two choices in that moment... to become overcome with fear or to go with it.  The Lord was with me, no doubt.  As I reflect, I realize God used the situation to test me.  How much had I learned about fear and God's protection and love for me?  Had I really learned to trust Him with this pregnancy... with my daughter?  Somehow, in that moment, I went immediately to a place of peace, knowing that things were OK.  I was not afraid, I was comforted.  He kept me in perfect peace... just as He promised in Isaiah 26:3.  I passed His test, and I was about to experience His rewards in a way I could have never dreamed.

I decided to ask everyone to leave the room for a while so I could try to rest.  I was exhausted.  I asked someone to change my music as I was sick of what I had been listening to... and I realized some music my mom gave to me had not been playing.  Somehow (um, thanks God.) the entire CD she had given me disappeared from my play list, so I had not heard it up to that point. My mom got it off the computer and brought it to me, and I went into a deep trance.  I listened to the music quite a bit prior to being in labor, and that really seemed to help me "get in the zone" and just let my body ride with the contractions. 
While I was resting, Noah woke up... and my husband went to sleep in my toddler's toddler bed.  To this day that still makes me laugh.  Gara asked me at one point what I wanted to do with Noah... I had several options that I had arranged not knowing what the circumstance would be when I needed to call on someone for help.  I think my exact words to Gara were, "I don't care. Handle it."  Good thing she loves me :-)  They decided to ship Noah off to Travis' house (Gara's son) where Lovey (Gara's mom) and Brandon (Gara's hubby) would entertain him for a bit, then take him to a birthday party.  Courtney, one of my sweet accountability partners, would be there and could help watch Noah during the party.  It was handled. :-)

Micah sleeping in Noah's bed
At some point Gara felt called to ask a few prayer warrior friends to come over sporadically and pray with me.  It was SUCH a blessing to have these girls be a part of Ruthie Grayce's birth.  I had no idea she was doing this until I, while laying in bed, felt a hand grab mine and I heard my sweet friend Chelsea begin to pray.  A smile swept over my face and a serge of energy came upon me.  Hebrews 12:1-2 was being lived out before my very eyes.  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 
Chelsea, the first friend to arrive, praying over me wih Mandy and Donnellyn
That scripture had been one I clung to as I began my journey towards natural childbirth, but in that moment it took on a completely different light.  Once again, the community I was surrounded with was supporting me and loving on me as I was working hard to bring a little miracle into the world.  I do not know if Gara knew how impactful those new faces/voices would be to me... but they helped me shake off the exhaustion and provided me with a renewed energy.  I am so thankful she was in tune to the Holy Spirit's guidance and followed His lead.

I got out of bed an hour or two later ready to roll.  I followed my body's lead once again, and did my best to relax through contractions.  My hips started to really bother me... as if they were being pried apart (I guess they kind of were!)  Luckily, my midwife is also a chiropractor... and she adjusted me several times to help relieve the pain.  Everyone (and I mean everyone!) took turns applying counterpressure to my hips and back during contractions to help me through them.  There were often two or three sets of hands on me, applying pressure in different areas.  My mom held my hand, and Mandy rubbed my arm.  Everyone was pitching in, and I can't imagine how hard it would have been without that support.  Several more friends came to pray with me and encourage me, each showing up at just the perfect time.  I received text messages and emails as well, all providing me encouragement and strength as they were read aloud to me.

Cindy is clearly an impressive multi-tasker!
Krista, another friend, reading scriptures
Sometime around 10:30 I started to have trouble relaxing through the contractions and decided I need the relief of the water to help me.  Cindy decided to check me before I got in (we learned our lesson!) and I was at a solid 9.  Praise the Lord for fast progress!!  I asked someone to wake up Micah as I felt like I was beginning to really need him to help me stay focused.
Gara, the "everything girl" of the day, doing her thing.  SO thankful for her presence!

My dear friend from childhood, Corey, who I reconnected with after Noah was born.  So sweet having her back in my life and a part of Ruthie's birth!
It was not long before I started feeling my body bearing down at the peak of a contraction... and it felt good.  Somehow it relieved some of the intensity from the contraction.  But, it only beared down for a few seconds and then I went back to trying to relax through the remainder of the contraction.  Before I knew it, I said to Cindy, "It is starting to burn!"  I had not voluntarily pushed at all, and I felt like Ruthie Grayce was crowning.  My family started to scramble to get in the room, and Mandy rushed to get Joyce on Skype (she ended up just having time to call her).

With the next contraction came a complete out of body experience.  As I was trying to relax, my body intensely bore down and I started to let out the most random, loud, animalistic roar.  I have no idea where it came from, and I am quite certain I could not replicate it today.  As my body pushed, I felt like I was delivering the head.  I reached down to feel and I realized I was essentially delivering my bag of waters!  I had forgotten that my water had not broken yet.  It was unreal!  Towards the end of that contraction, the bag popped (after I pushed out about the size of a melon worth of it).  Talk about a weird, indescribable feeling. 

Before I knew it, my body started to bear down again with incredible intensity and Ruthie Grayce was born.  Two involuntary pushes and she was here.  She arrived so quickly that Cindy had to say "someone, catch the baby!" as she knew that either or Micah or I wanted to be the one to catch her.  I reached down and lifted my sweet baby girl to my chest, completely in awe that she was already here.  Micah cried and I laughed in excitement.  I got to nurse Ruthie Grayce within minutes of her entering the world, and she was as healthy as could be.  We were now a family of four! 

After I got cleaned up we got to enjoy a sweet, healing herbal bath.  I loved this time with Noah, and it was equally as special with Ruthie Grayce.  I was especially grateful for the nice, big tub we put in 6 months ago!

After measurements were taken (8lbs 15oz and 21") and newborn screen complete, it was only fitting that we end the day in prayer, thanking God for a beautiful day and a healthy baby. It was one of the sweetest moments of the day for me.

As I reflect on the entire journey, I am beginning to realize that God uses pregnancy to teach me some pretty huge things. In fact, I told Cindy at one point that I needed to start listening to God better while not pregnant or He was going to keep getting me knocked up just so He could teach me something :-) I love that He used my sweet baby girl to draw me closer to Him, and to draw me closer to my community.  There is something so sweet, so intimate, and so connecting to share the birth of your child with someone!  I can not wait to see what the Lord has in store for my baby girl!

Enjoy a few more of my favorite pictures!  Thanks, again, Gara Hill!   

Dr. Cindy posing with us (I think we were joking around about how we missed our opportunity for the "high school chearleeder pose")