40 / 52 – Home

40 / 52 – Home

Today is my Mom’s birthday!  It’s also our last day in the States before heading to the mission field in Ireland.

I got to spend the day with her yesterday, celebrating her (and running around trying to get all my last minute stuff done before leaving!)  We picked up a birthday gift, did a little shopping, and got massages, but mostly it was just really sweet to hang out together.


There have been a lot of seasons in my relationship with my Mom.  We’ve lived in my parents’ basement for a little over a year now.  It has had a few challenging moments, but for the most part, it’s been a gift, giving us time together before the season ahead, and I am so grateful!

We have this routine right now.  Before she heads to work in the morning, I get up and make her breakfast. We get a few minutes to chat before heading in different directions and beginning the day.  It’s been simple and become beautifully habitual.  And I think it’s going to be one of things I miss the most about home.

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There was a time when our hearts were away from each other.  Now we’re the closest we’ve ever been, and physical distance will separate us.  The word “Mom” has become synonymous for “Home.”  I’m so thankful for her, and for the year that we’ve had to be together.  Of all the things that are challenging in this transition, I think leaving her will be one of the hardest.  It’s not just that she’s walked with me through all the small and huge steps of the last year leading to Ireland.  It’s also the every day chats, eating food at her table and sitting down to meals together, sharing chores and kissing her goodbye before she leaves for work.

I’m thankful that as the Lord leads us, He is faithful to take care of our hearts.  In Him, we are not so far apart, and the promise of eternity teaches us to fix our hearts and minds on things above.  Home is ahead and not behind, and these days will be spent loving and living for the King and His heart to bring the world back to Himself.

Today my heart is both full and hurting.  In Jesus there is often both.  Tomorrow starts a new adventure, but today we’ll celebrate my Mom and enjoy family and look forward together.

33 / 52 – Fifteen Years

33 / 52 – Fifteen Years

Last week was Branden’s and my fifteenth wedding anniversary!  Branden and I got married 8 days after I turned 18, and I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet!  We were really young and had A LOT to learn.  The last decade and a half has brought a lot of life our way – marriage, ministry, kids, moving, and now missions.  It’s strange to feel like our life together has been so full and also that we’re standing at another new beginning!

And I am incredibly grateful – for God’s grace and faithfulness to us, and for a man who follows Christ’s example in how to love and serve, not only us, but everyone around him.  Branden is sweet, funny, smart, talented, and passionate about teaching kids about Jesus.  He’s a man of great character and integrity, and he looks like a movie star!  Branden says he got the better end of the bargain, but I know the truth – I’m the blessed one, truly.

This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding day.  Ceremony and reception were all over.  We were getting ready to leave the church, and he picked me up to carry me through the door.  Seriously, we were so young!


And this was us, almost a year ago.  Still making me smile :)  I can honestly say I love him more now than ever before!  Or maybe that I know more about love than I did before :)


Last week I shared my new tattoos.  Well Branden got one too :)  They were anniversary tattoos!

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The artist did an awesome job!  His tattoo is of little red riding hood and the big bad wolf (in the trees, do you see it?)  Branden collects books of fables and fairy tales and uses them a lot in teaching kids about Biblical principles.  Red riding hood represents us as believers, sent to serve and covered in the blood of Jesus.  The things that cause us fear or keep us from following the Lord can’t harm us.  We can walk in faith and freedom and follow Jesus wholeheartedly!


Thanks for being mine Babe!  I love living this life adventure alongside you!  The best truly is yet to come!

18 / 52 – Seven

18 / 52 – Seven

I remember the day Ethan was born.  I had gotten sick with preeclampsia and we had to be induced three weeks early.  The pregnancy had already been stressful, but I was a mess at the news we’d be delivering nearly a month early.  We already had a one year old in the house, the crib wasn’t even put together yet, and I was still warming up to thought of having two full time diaper wearers!

Branden and I hadn’t settled on a name yet.  He had a list and I had a list, but no matches.  Pulling into the hospital parking lot that day, Branden said, “Just pick the name you love the most and that’ll be it.  But I get to pick the next one!”

“I love Ethan.” I said without hesitating.

“What about the middle name?” he asked.

“Cole.  Ethan Cole.”


I don’t remember much about the induction.  I’m sure everything went just as it was supposed to – checking in, settling into our room, getting hooked up to all the monitors.  I have high blood pressure, which is what led to the preeclampsia, so some special precautions were being taken.  The anesthesiologist came in to give me my epidural.  I remember Branden wanting to watch (no thanks!)  The anesthesiologist let him as long as he was sitting down.  He told Branden that if he fainted, he wasn’t going to be able to help him up!


I was progressing with the medicine.  Soon my doctor came in to break my water.  We had a short exchange about how I didn’t want to end up with a c-section.  He reassured me I was at very little risk since my labor with Silas only lasted 8 hours.  He broke my water and stepped out of the room.

The nurse that was with me put an internal monitor on Ethan’s head.  Within seconds I remember her saying how the baby didn’t like something.  She asked me to get on my hands and knees.  I’m sure I looked at her with complete confusion.  Wires were running from me to several machines, and my epidural was in full effect!  She didn’t wait for me.  I’m not sure how, but she grabbed my ankles and within seconds, I was on all fours!


Branden and my mom were the only ones in the room with us at the time.  I remember my mom starting to cry.  She came to the bed, kissed my forehead, and said she was going to step out.  We have a long history of women with high blood pressure in our family, and I knew she was scared.  So was I.

A team of five or six women burst into the room.  They were all yelling at each other.  Wires were unhooked and the bed began to move.  We were going to an operating room.

I remember just crying at this point, not knowing what was happening, if my baby was okay, if Branden was going to be with me when I delivered.  The OR was chaotic and loud.  Things were happening without me.  I could see my doctor getting into his operating gear.  I was moved onto a new bed and quickly prepped for surgery.  A nurse came and put an oxygen mask over my face.


“What’s happening?”  I was still crying.

“Your baby’s heart rate dropped, but it’s starting to come up.  Can you hear it?”

I listened for that familiar “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” of the heartbeat through the machine.  I could hear it.

“We have to get your baby out right now,” she said calmly.

The anesthesiologist I had seen an hour or so before was standing at the head of my bed.  He was yelling into the room, “Do I put her out?  Do I put her out?”  No one was answering him.  “Do I put her out?!”

“Just put her out!” someone yelled back.

I looked up at the nurse.  “Can my husband come in here?” I asked desperately.

“I’m sorry, no.”

And I was out.


The next few hours were less chaotic, but equally emotional.  I woke up to a new room, a new nurse, Branden and my mom, but no baby.  He was fine, being monitored because of the stressful delivery, but it was hours before I got to meet or hold him.

Branden told me later that it was only about 15 minutes between the time they wheeled me out of the room to when they handed him the baby, all cleaned up and swaddled.  A video was taken of our families meeting him and of Branden sharing the name we’d picked for him that morning.

The next day my doctor came in to check on me.  He explained that Ethan’s cord had been wrapped around his body five times – more times than the doctor had ever seen in his ten years of delivering babies!


We stayed in the hospital almost a week.  My blood pressure needed to be monitored, new medicine figured out, and there was a list of things that needed to be “checked off” before we were discharged.

In the wake of it all, I remember finally getting home and walking through the unexpected events of Ethan’s birth.  Branden said, “Maybe it needed to happen that way, so you would know that no matter what, God is in control.”

Later I remember the Lord speaking to me about it, helping me realize that getting sick and having to deliver earlier likely saved both Ethan’s and my life.  If my water had broken at home (as it did with Silas), neither of us would probably have made it.


God is so good, isn’t He?  Saving us before we even know we need it?

We always have our plans, our ideas, expectations.  But God is quietly working things out the way they need to be.  So often I realize in hindsight how little faith I’ve had.  But there is no condemnation or “I told you so” booming from Heaven.  Only grace, and a love that chooses to keep walking with me.


When the fog lies low on the path ahead, and I am unsure or even afraid.  When I’m full of doubt or feeling frantic because I have no control (I do like control!) I need to remember, I belong to God – the One that would let nothing keep me from Him!  Whatever His plans might include, they are for my ultimate good, not harm, and for His glory.  I am safe with Him.


And Ethan :)  He’s seven!  He was spoiled by so many in Texas as we traveled through and then here in Colorado when we got home!

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He’s this amazing combination of cleverness and innocence, still excited at the things he’s learning about the world around him!  He’s funny and quirky and loves music.  He’s embarrassed easily but also loves to make people laugh.  He still likes to snuggle, which makes me happy :)  He’s little and big at the same time.  Maybe I’ll always feel that way, but it’s true today!


Happy seventh birthday sweet boy!

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