Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lessons from a Dream Job

Our baby girl is nine months old. 
She has now lived in this world the amount of time the Lord formed her inside me. 

These last nine months have quickly made me aware of my inadequacies of being a parent and training a child in righteousness. I lack the knowledge and wisdom. 

How am I to train a child as stubborn as her mother? Or simply teach her independence when I am not an independent person? How can I help her learn to tame her tongue when I can't tame it myself? How will she learn to display patience when I have no patience?  I guess in some ways I believed she would be a "mini-me", in other ways I hoped she wouldn't.

So how does a mother do this knowing her own sinfulness? God's Word. Grace. Faith. Though the last nine months have quickly shown my inadequacies, they've also proven my desperate need of God's Word and His grace. I fail many times over, but His grace and His Word preserves me, sustains me and guides me. And most of all it humbles me, knowing I am given infinitely more than I deserve. I still have no idea what I'm doing as a mother, but I constantly need to be reminded God's Word never returns void. Thankfully it gives us all we need for life and godliness. 

Being a mother to Vera was not exactly what I expected. Instead, my expectations were far exceeded. It is the greatest responsibility God has ever given me, yet it comes with the greatest reward. 

Today, through the pain of an old friend losing her precious 4 month old son, I am reminded of the fragility of Vera's little life and the lives of those I love dearly. I am overwhelmingly thankful for the nine months the Lord entrusted Vera to our care and even more grateful she is ultimately under the Lord's hand of protection. I pray I don't take one moment of her life for granted. 

I can't believe she was that small!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

St. Vallier

St. Vallier
This is our home for the next year. Hugging the Rhone and nestled between the hills. We quite enjoy this undisturbed little town. Quaint little cafes, delicious fruit stands, humble markets, quiet paths wandering to nowhere, vineyards that carpet the hills and charming french homes overlooking the river; these are what make this place special.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Life Lately

After taking the summer off in the States, updates are back on the blog. 

We are back in France as the new season begins. New town. New team. New people. New language (sort of). It is always an adjustment, but always an adventure and this time around we have an addition. Life continues to get more interesting!

So here is a recap....

About a week before heading to America from France we spontaneously decided two nights before to buy tickets to Ireland and visit our friends Johnny and Jenny McClaughlin and their 2 little ones.

Little Maisie and Vera, 4 days apart.

Giant's Causeway

 the history of Belfast

After getting back from Ireland, we packed up our house in France and headed home to California two days later to visit my family.

We were showered with love the first day home,

 saw dear friends, Brian and Stacie Jeanjaquet, for a fun day at Disneyland,

introduced Vera to America's greatest holiday at the parade,

explored the aquarium with sweet little cousins,

met our newest nephew Oliver and snapped a few shots of him and sweet brother Caleb.

and celebrated his birth with the family

touched toes in the Pacific Ocean,

...and the Atlantic,

spent quality time with family,

shared a soda at Pops on route 66,

gained a new sister,

aaaand enjoyed a delightful breakfast with Vera and Vera at Vera's Country Cafe.

This summer was full of time with family and friends. One thing we do know and are continually reminded of each time we come home is that we are blessed beyond belief.

Vera is now 5 1/2 months. Our lives are overwhelmingly full with her around.

She has been on 11 different flights, 4 of them international.  Quite the little traveler I'd say. She loves to jibber jabber all the time and is extremely active! It won't be long before she is crawling and all over the place.

We are back in Vera's birth country and feeling welcome and at home already. I hope to share a bit on our new little town and the time we've spent here in the next few days.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vera's Story

I've had some time to think about this post since it's been almost 6 weeks since the birth of our daughter Vera.  I intended to write this much sooner, but time for reflection has actually helped me collect my thoughts.  If I would have written this post 4 weeks ago it probably would have just contained details of the day of Vera's birth, but writing it now, I can see this post needs to go beyond that.

The memories of my pregnancy and the birth of Vera are so incredibly special to me because looking back I can see that is was a process and experience that took me outside myself and outside my comfort zone where only God could be in control. I attribute that to God's perfect grace and the prayers of all of you; my family and friends.  So many of you told me consistently throughout my pregnancy that you were praying for Ryan, Vera and me and I want this post to be about how the Lord answered your prayers and mine.

This may be longer and more detailed than you expect but I wanted to keep this as a record for myself of Vera's birth and convey to you how the Lord answered your prayers at every turn of my pregnancy.

We showed up in France not knowing a single word of French and trusting the advice of Ryan's agent who told us that the French health system was very good.  Upon arriving we were recommended a doctor by Ryan's coach.  He happened to speak English well and later we found out that he has a reputation for being one of the best OBYN doctors in the south of France. We also had 3-4 different people volunteer their time to translate at random appointments and classes just to keep things clear for us.

First and second fear eliminated!: language barrier and doctor.

At the end of each appointment the doctor would look at both Ryan and me and say, "everything is perfect".

Third fear eliminated!: a healthy mother and child.

Every year Ryan and I fly to another country and fit our entire lives into 2 suitcases each.  This season in France was no different, even though we knew we would be bringing more than just luggage home this time. Contrary to what seems like a "rock star" lifestyle, we live very simply, so we weren't sure what our baby would sleep in or if we would have to buy a car seat or stroller and then not be able to get them home on the plane.  This is where God's people serve each other like no other people on the planet!  One quick mention of these things at the church and we had numerous couples lined up to give us clothes, rockers, car seats, strollers, bassinets, etc...

Fourth fear eliminated!: lack of baby necessities

As the day of the birth approached, I quickly accumulated fears of the labor process, some elemental and others due to giving birth in another country.  How would I know when I was in labor and when to go to the hospital? Would I have to call the hospital in a pinch and not know how to communicate in French what was happening at the moment? Would the doctor we grew to trust be available? Would my labor be long and painful?  Would I have an enormous baby?  Should I get the epidural? How would nursing go? ... All these question flooded my mind for weeks prior to Vera's birth day.

Everything happened so quickly.  At 4:30 AM on March 16th I started feeling regular, but mild contractions which last a few hours but diminished once I woke and started moving around.  I wasn't sure at this time if I should call my doctor and go in to the hospital because I had an appointment scheduled with a mid-wife at 10:30 AM, so I decided to wait and see what she thought. This is when Ryan and I started getting very excited that Vera could be born that day.  Ryan went off to a shoot around to prepare for his game that night while I met with the mid-wife.  She told me that I wasn't dilated and the baby probably wouldn't come that day, which was very disappointing to Ryan, even though he would miss his game, when I told him on his return from practice.  Since it seemed safe that the baby wouldn't come any time soon, my parents decided to go out for a sight-seeing drive around 12:30 PM.  Ryan and I were a bit tired so we decided to stay back.  We skyped with Ryan's family back home, watched an episode of Modern Family, and decided to take a nap.  At 2:30 PM, while napping, I felt a big POP in my stomach.  I woke up Ryan and shouted, "I think my water just broke!".  He jumped up excitedly and said, "what do we do?".  One thing I did know is that if your water breaks you need to go to the hospital immediately.  Thankfully I left my phone with my parents, so we gave them a quick call and they weren't too far away.  They came back to our apartment, we packed the car and headed to the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital and checked in to a room, a mid-wife approached me and told me that our doctor could not make it because of a family emergency, and therefore, she would delivery the baby.

Side Note: Looking back on it now, I couldn't of asked for a sweeter person to deliver our baby.  Carroll spoke perfect English and was so encouraging through the whole process.  Even after the delivery we spent time talking about how special the delivery was for both of us.  She told me she felt challenged delivering a baby in English for the first time making it a special experience for her as well.  She told me to take the memory of Vera's birth home as a souvenir and that she wouldn't forget it either.

After about an hour in the hospital when I was hooked up to the IV and the monitors, we found out I was 6 centimeters dilated.  I asked for the epidural but it didn't seem to be working.  One side of my body was numb and I was still feeling intense contractions. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist was unable to get the drug to take full effect.

Side Note: As I look back on this moment I am actually thankful the drug didn't take full effect. Experiencing the contractions and the urge to push made the labor special and gave me a sense of accomplishment. A quick word about Dr. Durand, the anesthesiologist... He took a special liking to us because his wife is American and his daughter now lives in America. Throughout my three days in the hospital he was always checking up on me and asking if I needed anything. For how rare speaking English is in the south of France, even amongst doctors, the Lord blessed us with two doctors and a midwife who spoke English perfectly. It is incredible how the Lord provided in this area.

By 5 PM it was time for me to push and after about 3 pushes Vera was born at 5:17 PM, a tiny 6 pounds 3 ounces.

Now you can see how many fears were all for naught.  I could keep counting, but I think you get the point.

I feel undeserving for such a wonderful and smooth pregnancy and labor.  God has been so good and even though we don't know what the future holds for our little family, we know that is one thing that will never change!

I hope you can see how the Lord used your prayers to take care of us, even through our doubts, fears and sinfulness.  Thank you so much!

My mom and I had a fun little photo shoot of Vera at 1 week old.  We had fun messing around and tried to avoid getting pee everywhere with her diaper off ;) Enjoy!