Changes Ahead

2013 was a pretty intense year for us… Peter and I dated, got engaged, planned a wedding, got married, and lived in the same state for the first time. I changed jobs and moved a thousand miles from home. We bought a house. Everything felt new.

When 2014 came, I desperately craved stability. I just wanted a year in which things could settle down a bit. I’m sure there were some bumps in the road, but overall, I got what I wanted.

2015 has been a whole different story.

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In January, we found out we are expecting and due in September.

In February, Peter changed jobs and started working so close to our home, he might as well be in our backyard.

In April, we found out we are having a girl.

At the end of May, we began the process of having both of our bathrooms completely gutted and redone – embarking on our first major home renovation together.

And in late May/early June, I made an unexpected decision to change jobs. I will now teach first grade in a classroom that is approximately four blocks from my house.

The decision wasn’t easy. There were so many pros and cons to both jobs. I hadn’t ever really been in a situation before involving a major job change by choice instead of by need (such as moving). Ultimately this change revolved heavily around prioritizing my growing family and reclaiming more time in the workday from a long commute. Though I had planned to spend the summer nesting or relaxing in my cool basement with my feet propped up as I grow larger each day and Miss Adalyn Grace kicks, squirms, and rolls around, I will now be setting up a classroom and writing lesson plans.

I’m so excited.

I love a fresh start. I love a challenge. I love the warmth that has already greeted me at my new school and in our community.

I imagine the transition could once again be a lot to handle, especially as I adjust to so many changes personally and professionally at the same time.

But I guess I’ve kind of been there and done that. Maybe 2016 will be a bit calmer. :)

19 Weeks and Counting…

Well, we made it to 19 weeks in this pregnancy so far, and I am celebrating with a sick day at home… I’ve started learning a lot over the last five-ish months, including the fact that pregnancy lowers your body’s immunity to germs. I know God planned it that way so that our bodies would accept and nurture this new being growing inside, but it doesn’t necessarily bode well for an elementary school teacher in the winter and spring. On top of morning sickness (which is better now but can still cause me to toss my cookies sometimes, or toss my oatmeal in the shower, as was the case yesterday morning. FYI – it doesn’t drain as well as one would hope.), I have had two really hard colds, one miserable sinus infection, and most recently strep throat. I’m just amazed and thankful that I never got the stomach virus that Peter endured all alone a few months ago. I basically abandoned him for a couple of days so I would be minimally exposed to it.

On the bright side, we have three weeks and two days left until summer break, and I am incredibly hopeful that I will stay healthy when I am not constantly working closely with germy children. (Fingers crossed!)

In other news, in case anyone missed the Facebook announcement…

Girl announcement

We are having a girl!!!

We found out a few weeks early because I had probably been exposed to a virus that is common in children but could be very dangerous for the baby if I got it while pregnant. (See? Running theme… Teaching = germs.) At first, I stayed really calm and relaxed about it all. I read online that there was only a small risk, and I felt pretty confident that we were taking the overly-cautious-but-it’s-probably-fine route by going through the testing. I had lab work done on a Wednesday afternoon, and we waited to find out if I had the virus at the time or if it indicated I had it in the past, in which case I would be immune to it now. Obviously, that was our prayer, but I had never heard of it before and didn’t feel confident that it would be the case.

I waited pretty calmly for results on the first day, but as the second day crept by and I kept checking my phone and email for alerts, my anxiety level began to creep up. I made the HORRIBLE decision to try to research it a bit more online, and I found a forum where lots of mothers shared their stories about losing their babies because of exposure to this virus. Then I struggled with feeling bitter toward the child for putting my baby in danger, even though he didn’t know and couldn’t help it. I felt angry that I could lose my child and endure such terrible suffering all because I was doing my job well. I knew that during his likely contagious period, I had sat closely to him, passed materials back and forth, hugged him, and held his hand while walking around the playground. I just kept thinking that it wasn’t fair…

Well, God’s timing is pretty specific. The nurse had told me on the phone that we would receive the results in the next day or two, and as the first day passed, I was struggling. I know that it is no coincidence that I spent the second day flying to meet my mom in Indiana to visit family. God knew I needed her. In fact, within the first hour of being together after she picked me up, we talked openly about it and I cried. I admitted that it had all happened so quickly that I didn’t have the ability to step back and see the big picture through faith. Instead, I went into more of a desperate panic mode. I needed my mom to speak truth and encourage me about God’s sovereignty and His goodness. She told me that this was just the beginning of surrendering control over this child and that even if everything turned out okay in this situation, I would not be able to perfectly shield and protect his or her life. Whether in the womb or outside of it, I cannot control everything that he or she is exposed to. I just have to TRUST God’s plans and release my own.

I felt so much better after that conversation, and it was now about 6:00 on a Friday evening, so I was prepared to wait until Monday for the results. Yet about an hour later, I received an email with the link to my chart, and I was able to celebrate with my mom that my blood work showed the antibodies that suggested I had the virus previously and should be immune to it now. The baby should be safe from this scare. Praise the Lord!!!

Fast forward one week, and we continued as planned for an extra ultrasound and a consultation with a high-risk pregnancy doctor. Peter was able to miss a few hours of work to come with me because although we had good reason to believe that everything would be fine, we also knew there was a possibility that we could learn the gender. The ultrasound tech moved quickly through a detailed look at the baby, stopping frequently to take pictures and measurements. She started at the head and moved down, and I had to catch my breath for a minute when we saw the little hands and fingers. I reached for Peter’s hand behind me, and we held hands through the rest of the time. When the time came to look for the gender, the tech seemed very confident. “There’s a leg. There’s a leg. And there in the middle are three lines. It’s a girl!”

WHAT?!?

Part of me thinks we would have been surprised either way because it made things seem a bit more real. However, there were also lots of people predicting it would be a boy, and we had already picked out a boy name!

I still can’t believe it… I have spent almost all of my thirty years of life thinking about being a mom. I was the child who was obsessed with baby dolls. (Even now, I see tutorials on Pinterest for how to swaddle a baby, and I think, “I already know how. My mom taught me to do that with my dolls!”) I just can’t believe that God has given us a daughter.

We think we have a name now, but I’m not quite ready to share it yet just in case we change our minds. The permanent commitment is a little daunting!

The ultrasound was moving along normally. (I always get flashbacks to Friends when Rachel is watching the ultrasound of Emma and she cries because she can’t see it… I’m getting a little better, but it can really be hard sometimes!) The next thing we knew, the tech hit a button and suddenly everything on the screen changed and came to life. She switched it to 4D! We were able to see our little girl’s face! Actually, at first we saw part of her face with her hand over it as if to say, “No… Don’t take my picture!” We were filled with wonder at her little personality! Will she be dramatic? opinionated? (With us as parents, this is HIGHLY LIKELY.) resistant? Even now, we sometimes make up funny comments of what she would say about us, as if we already embarrass her, and we cover our faces like she did. Peter wants to make t-shirts… She will never live this down. Haha…

The next thing we knew, the tech pushed on my stomach a bit with the probe and got her to move her hand. I swear she shook her head back and forth like she was saying, “No!” (Yikes… I’m starting to think we are really in for it!) Then we got a clearer view of her face, and although I didn’t notice it at the time, the printed pictures make it look like she may have even been sucking her thumb. (Like mother, like daughter!)

After the ultrasound tech finished, she left briefly and returned with the doctor. He had looked over the images in his office, and he always likes to come in and see the babies live as well. He confirmed that the blood work looked very positive, and the ultrasound looked healthy and fine. He also double-checked and agreed that she is a girl! One of our favorite parts of the whole morning was his ultrasound because he didn’t fly through different views like she did. Instead, he would find her with the probe and simply sit still with that view so that we had the time to watch her move. It was amazing. I still don’t know that I can feel her moving yet, and although I’m definitely growing, I don’t feel large enough to have a person inside of me. Being able to watch her like that was such a joy. I remember thinking, “Aww, okay. I’ll be sick for her. She’s worth it.”

Even though everything looks good, we will go back to him one more time for another detailed ultrasound in the first week of May to check on her again and try to get an even better look at her heart after it has had a few more weeks to develop. In some ways, I’m thankful for this because we get an even more thorough look at her through the eyes of a highly trained specialist. Every once in a while, fear returns and my mind slips into, “What if this is all for a reason? What if there really is a problem, and this is God’s way of helping us find it.” This whole trust, faith, and lack of control thing will definitely be a life-long journey for me. In some ways, my family has been through some significant trials, and it’s like I come to expect them more than blessings. I’m hopeful that God will restore my faith in the balance.

So today I’m just resting and waiting for the antibiotics to kick in so I shouldn’t be contagious anymore. My throat hurt the worst last weekend, so this feels like it’s a day late and a dollar short. I feel bad for missing work, but I guess I need to start adjusting to life using up my sick days. It really won’t be long, and there will be two of us to care for!

Enough

I haven’t been writing…

I’ve blamed it on time, or the lack thereof, and that is partly true. However, I also think it is because of pressure.

Whenever I do something, I want to do it well or not do it at all. I guess last year I read one too many books, articles, and blog posts about blogging, and all of a sudden – there were too many rules. It was too complicated.

Well, I’m over it. I miss reflective writing and sharing.

Our lives have been pretty tiring and challenging lately. Peter started a new job in our town, and it’s been going well, but it’s still a transition and a change. All the while, I was going through the first trimester, which I guess some have called the “worst trimester.” I certainly hope that is true. I’m 14 weeks and 3 days right now, so I am really hoping that the second trimester is the light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Even though I’ve been pretty sick (with morning sickness that lasts all day), I know it could have been much worse, so I feel guilty for all the complaining that I have done. Most days, my job has been all that I could (barely) handle, and I have spent my evenings, nights, and weekends being anything but productive. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything, and I basically went into a late winter hibernation, especially through February. My energy is finally coming back, and I felt really good on Friday and most of the day on Saturday until I accidentally got hungry before supper. (Maybe it’s a boy since I get super hungry every three or four hours?!?)

Even my faith has suffered through the last couple of months. Most days have slipped by in survival mode, and I have forgotten or avoided the efforts and delights of fellowship, prayer, and reading Scripture.

Just this morning I was reading encouragement from a sweet friend, and I felt my soul breathe out, “God, I’m sorry, but I just have nothing else to give.”

And I felt like He told me, “It’s enough.”

I don’t want to be lazy or make excuses, but I am thankful that this is a temporary season, and God’s love for me and approval of me have not changed because of my lacking productivity. I’m thankful He is constant.

It’s funny to me now, but a week before we found out we are expecting, I took some time to journal out a deeply honest prayer about my unfulfilled desire to be a mom. We hadn’t been trying for long yet, but I had already begun to worry that it would never happen for us. Then I realized that most of my major life decisions for the last 15 years have revolved around my desire to be a wife and mother. It affected my education and career choices, shaped my dreams of life here with Peter, and even became the motivating vision for buying this house. All I had ever pictured for my adult life was to serve the Lord in my marriage and by raising children to know Him. If that wasn’t what my life and faith would look like, then what? I felt aimless.

I wonder if God laughs at us sometimes when He can see the big picture and we can’t. Little did I know, even as I was writing out these questions, He was forming life inside of me. It’s amazing.

I guess my heart hasn’t changed very much in the last three years, because He brought me to similar questions and prayers right before I met Peter. A few months before we met, I remember having a very eye-opening conversation after Bible study with my friend Katie in which I realized and tried to explain that nothing in my life felt like it would be fulfilling if I never got married. I reached a point where I was willing to give it all away – my job, my education, my goals, etc. – to share my life with someone. Maybe God had to bring me to that place of willing surrender because He knew that I was really going to give up those things to follow Him to a man in South Dakota.

So now this feels very similar. God works in my heart first before He changes my circumstances. Perhaps I needed to realize that this is not about my plans, my timing, or my comparison with others. Instead, it’s about serving Him by raising and teaching a child (or children) to know, follow, and love Him.

I still don’t feel “ready,” but I’m doing it one day at a time. Even though it looks different than my life and faith before, I’m already serving Him through motherhood.

And I’m thankful that’s enough for now.

Home Is Where My People Are

For possibly the first time since I moved to this frozen tundra, today both Alabama and South Dakota received snow…

The ironic part? My home in Alabama got significantly more.

The sad part? While my friends, family, and former coworkers got a much-deserved day off that will not have to be made up, I still had to go to work. Boo…

Home has really been on my mind and heart lately. Perhaps it’s because of the doldrums of winter. Perhaps it’s because of sickness and exhaustion that come along with the first trimester. (Hopefully you’ve heard, we’re expecting our first baby September 19th!) Regardless of the reason, I find myself prowling on Facebook for familiar pictures and updates, and I’ve even resorted to checking websites for the local news in Birmingham pretty frequently. (By the way, that is really more depressing than comforting.)

Enter this book.

Home

Have you ever read a book that just felt like summer? I am telling you, this kept me company on a few very cold winter nights and really warmed my heart. I loved the storytelling, the familiarity of southern culture, and the wisdom and humor scattered throughout.

I’ve been following Sophie Hudson’s blog for a while now, so I knew that she would be sharing stories about growing up in Mississippi and eventually moving to Birmingham, Alabama. (By the way – stalker alert – we went to the same church for awhile! She still goes there. I moved a thousand miles away. You know the story.) What I didn’t know was that she would begin teaching me things right from the start in Chapter 1.

Home 2

I loved feeling encouraged that “home” is more about people than a place, and she reminded me that it really is possible to have two homes. Loving South Dakota and my life here does not mean that I have turned my back on my home in Alabama. However, missing my home in Alabama does not mean that I am dissatisfied or unhappy with my home here. I’m blessed to have both.

I really recommend this book as an easy and enjoyable read that will also encourage you at the same time. Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the Tyndale publishing company. You can also ask for it in your local Christian book store.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review. I also retrieved the images in this post from the book’s website.

A Little More Like Home…

Winter is not even here yet, and I am already starting to struggle with the long days. Waking up before the sun is not my spiritual gift, and pulling into my driveway, exhausted, as the dark returns can feel defeating day after day. The weather hasn’t been awful yet, so I am thankful. However, two weeks off from school and a week in Alabama will hopefully provide refreshment to cheer up my spirit.

Until then, there is this:

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These friends are an answer to prayer for which I can never express enough thanks.

We laugh and cry and pray… We run after Jesus, all wanting to go deeper in His Word – to know and love Him more, and to become more like Him… We figure out marriage and home-owning… We rock a couple of babies (and hopefully there will be more babies to rock as time goes on!)… We eat together often, and next weekend some of us will spend a day baking treats and exchanging gifts…

I always feel encouraged and stronger when we have been together…

They help South Dakota feel more like home.

We Met Online: Last Post in the Series

In the last post, I shared about our decision to get married and the long-distance logistics that led us to set a wedding date before Peter actually bought a ring and proposed. In fact, we booked the church and I bought a dress first too!

Our proposal story has already been posted here.

Then I moved to South Dakota, and I officially started this blog on June 17, 2013 with a post called The Beginning.

That means we have basically made it to the end of this story.

March-June flew by pretty quickly in a whirlwind of resigning from my job, packing up my classroom and my personal things, saying lots of goodbyes, and wedding planning… Peter and I began to learn about give and take as we made decisions for the wedding. I gave him a church wedding, but I worked extremely hard to keep it simple and put my own spin on it. I used a picture of a tablescape from Pinterest to inspire my colors, and I ran with it from there…

Wedding details

I found the picture of the table setting on Pinterest, and I have no idea who should receive credit for it. It inspired our colors. :)

Weddings are a lot of work… I mean, they are if you decide to be the bride, planner, florist, caterer, decorator, etc., etc., etc. I think I’m still tired and glad all of the decisions and work are done, but I’m thankful when I look back on our day. I remember feeling like it was going by too quickly. I didn’t feel like I imagined a bride would feel. I kind of felt like a little girl playing dress up.

Our wedding

We tried to design our ceremony, not to point to us, but to point to the Lord and to be a time of thanksgiving, celebration, and worship. Even though this is the end of what we call “our story,” it was really just the beginning of our commitment to each other. We desire to love each other well and to honor, love, and serve the Lord together. I can’t think of a better way to end this series than with our vows. I heard them at a friend’s wedding and discovered they had been written by my pastor and edited just a bit. We didn’t change a thing. Today, they hang on our living room wall beneath our wedding photo to remind us of the story that God is still writing.

I, Peter, take you, Jamey, to be my wife.
I commit to love you as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25).
I will lead you by serving you, and serve you by leading you (Mk. 10:45).
I will encourage you to treasure Christ above everything else in this world (Phil. 3:1-10).
I will forgive you as Christ has forgiven me (Matthew 6:9-15).
I will care for you with humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience (Col. 3:12-17).
I will please you by putting your interests above my own (Phil. 2:1-11).
I will honor you with my purity (Hebrews 13:4).
I will join with you in the global mission God has entrusted to us (Ps. 67; Matt. 28:18-20).
I will sacrifice my life for your sake (1 John 3:16-18).
I will cherish you as a child of God (Gal. 4:4-8).
And by the grace of God, I will be faithful to this covenant as long as we both shall live (Gen. 2:22-24).

I, Jamey, take you, Peter, to be my husband.
I commit to love you as the church loves Christ (Eph. 5:23).
I will trust you by submitting to you (Eph. 5:24).
I will encourage you to treasure Christ above everything else in this world (Phil. 3:1-10).
I will forgive you as Christ has forgiven me (Matthew 6:9-15).
I will care for you with humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience (Col. 3:12-17).
I will please you by putting your interests above my own (Phil. 2:1-11).
I will honor you with my purity (Hebrews 13:4).
I will join with you in the global mission God has entrusted to us (Ps. 67; Matt. 28:18-20).
I will sacrifice my life for your sake (1 John 3:16-18).
I will cherish you as a child of God (Gal. 4:4-8).
And by the grace of God, I will be faithful to this covenant as long as we both shall live (Gen. 2:22-24).

We Met Online: Wednesday Series at www.themiddleoflife.com

This is the eighteenth post in a series called We Met Online: Wednesday Series! Start from the beginning here, or you can also retrace the whole story here! I hope to write every Wednesday, using my old journals, photos, and memories to tell our story. I truly hope that it blesses you and brings glory to our Savior. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to share this with others and check back for more soon! You can also subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss anything!

We Met Online: Kinda-Sorta but Not Really Engaged

Can you believe it?!? We’ve almost made it to the end of the story… However, since these stories are leading toward my move to South Dakota and our marriage, perhaps we’ve almost made it to the beginning? Haha…

Quick recap: We met online. Emailed. Talked on the phone. Met in person with our moms. Talked on the phone. Visited each other. Talked on the phone. Chose to love. Talked on the phone. And decided to get married.

In fact, it was during my visit to South Dakota in March of 2013 when we officially started talking about a date for the wedding.

In comparison with the others, this trip really wasn’t one of our most adventurous. Because we lived so far away from each other, our dating relationship centered largely around vacations. This visit was probably our first that looked even similar to real life. Though I had an entire week off from school, Peter had to work. There were no holidays or large family gatherings. We didn’t do a lot of sight-seeing. (I’m pretty sure my first trip to the mall in Yankton doesn’t count as sight-seeing because there are only about three stores and a movie theater there. However, we did splurge and sit for a few minutes in the vibrating massage chairs right in the middle of the mall as the older people walked laps around us. I also may or may not have tried on something round and sparkly…)

Yankton

I’m not sure if we were more motivated to discuss marriage because of emotion or practicality. Each goodbye was getting harder, and the breaks between our visits were feeling more difficult. I was even toying around with the idea of moving to South Dakota whether or not we were engaged. I wondered if we were wise to make such a monumental commitment to each other before living in the same place and practicing some consistency. Regardless, I knew summer was approaching and I would need to make a decision about a job very soon. We had vaguely discussed a holiday wedding around Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I knew
1) I couldn’t get married on the same day as the Iron Bowl football game and
2) It felt silly to be a teacher and not take advantage of summer for planning and preparation.

Because I wanted a summer wedding, I basically told him that I wanted to get married that summer or wait a year. He really didn’t want to wait that long, so we needed to pick up the pace. I think that a sense of urgency hit home with Peter when I clued him in to some of the timelines necessary for planning a wedding. I was concerned that he was going to want to propose in June and get married in July! (Now that I think about it, this was an ironic concern since he was the one who wanted a wedding and I wanted to elope or go to the courthouse… Ha!)

When we began to think about dates, we started asking about a wedding in Alabama on July 27th because that was the day we spent together with our moms in the Black Hills when we met for the first time in person. Unfortunately, that was the same day that Peter’s cousin had already planned a South Dakota reception for his California wedding. This would mean that Peter’s uncle would not be able to officiate our wedding. We were also having a hard time working around Peter’s sisters’ busy schedules in New Mexico and Arkansas. It just wasn’t coming together smoothly.

Yet, we believed that God had brought us together and blessed us. I chose this trip as the perfect opportunity to share my favorite part of our story with Peter for the first time. I remember sitting side-by-side, placing my left hand on his back, and saying, “Peter, He knows your name.”

That was the crucial detail of confirmation. We didn’t choose to get married all because the distance became too complicated or because I needed to know what to do with my job. It wasn’t even because we were so googly-eyed or wanting to shorten the time to protect our physical purity.

We chose to get married because we believed it was God’s will for our lives.

“Falling in love” with Peter wasn’t only about feeling butterflies in my stomach or getting swept up in a romantic fairy tale. It was so natural. We fit together. We had peace. Little by little, we began to grow together. We were able to see how our similarities and differences showed God’s detailed design of balance, love, and delight. It truly didn’t take very long to just begin to feel like he was home for me. It was like he had been in my life all along.

That part still amazes me… I was that hopeless romantic Christian girl who looked for her husband at every youth group function, Christian camp, and coed Bible study. All of a sudden, I found him and it was the real thing. Three years ago today, we were strangers. Now we are husband and wife under a marriage covenant. That’s why I chose “Great is Thy Faithfulness” for his mom and sisters to sing at our wedding. I think it should be the theme song of our lives.

When I boarded the plane at the end of the week and turned my phone off, texts were flying to debate various summer dates. Little did I know, Peter also used this perfect opportunity as I was flying from Sioux Falls to Chicago to call my mom and get the ball rolling for his plans to fly down to propose. Then my mom had to LIE TO MY FACE for six weeks to keep the secret and help me wait. Who knew she was such a good actress? I hope she only uses this power for good and not for evil.

I’m glad she was able to see that we’re a really great match!

Silly

We Met Online: Wednesday Series at www.themiddleoflife.com

This is the seventeenth post in a series called We Met Online: Wednesday Series! Start from the beginning here, or you can also retrace the whole story here! I hope to write every Wednesday, using my old journals, photos, and memories to tell our story. I truly hope that it blesses you and brings glory to our Savior. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to share this with others and check back for more soon! You can also subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss anything!