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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why We Gave you a Hippie Name like Jude River

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her. 
Luke 1:45


You were named for the people of the promise. Chosen to be loved by God for no reason other than they were his. Your name reminds us that God loved us first, that he chose and loved us before we knew Him and regardless of if we choose Him.


Rivers hold a certain mystery and beauty for both me and your dad. They also are a kind of fork in the road. An opportunity or an obstacle, I guess it really depends on your perspective. 

Your dad and I spent the weekend of our 8th anniversary paddling the Chattahoochee river, talking about where we’d been and where we hoped to go in life. It was a chilly November morning and we had just spent a weekend with an adoption agency exploring international adoption. I asked if he was ready to take the plunge and submit our paperwork. He hesitated. (Your dad is a man of thought before action. I am wired the other way around…we find it works well.) Then he suggested maybe we should have a kid the old-fashioned way. I scoffed and said something sassy along the lines of, "well, we need to make a decision one way or another because my vision of our family doesn’t include large age gaps." He said we should probably pray about it.

We actually prayed about it.

The following weekend I didn’t feel quite right.  Granted, it was the day after Thanksgiving, but my pants didn’t fit quite right and I admitted to myself they hadn’t for a few days. I dug around the bathroom cabinet, found what I was in search of and went into the bathroom. It’s probably just turkey and pie, I told myself over and over again. Two minutes later I came out of the bathroom, white-faced and shaking. I couldn’t breathe well. I think I was having a minor panic attack. I told your dad to put the kids down for naps. Now. We needed to talk. Talking looked like me silently sliding the stick across the dining room table with trembling hands.

“I’m pregnant.”

I didn’t want to be pregnant again. We didn’t have maternity insurance. We had dropped it a year prior to save money each month. I just kept thinking - we can't afford this. Also, I badly wanted to adopt. A perfect doll of a girl from China. That was my plan for our 4th child. Despite your dad’s jolly suggestion that we have another – we had not tried for you. In fact, we had been trying very hard not to try.

In that moment my inside was screaming out that this was not the plan. This was not okay. This was not supposed to happen. As tears slipped down my face I told myself I was a wretch to be pissed off about a pregnancy. I recited the names of friends who could not get pregnant month after month. I recalled the face of a friend who had just buried a baby. I knew, knew that babies were blessings, not burdens. That children are a gift given, not a weight to bear. 

I spoke the words to myself that in everything we are to praise Him. 

For the thing we hope and pray for and for the thing we hope and pray against. So I thanked Him. For a pregnancy we didn’t want and this blessing that felt so much like a burden. I squeezed your dad’s hand so I wouldn’t fall apart and I said Thank You aloud at the dining room table. I felt like a fraud as I forced the words out of my mouth.

And as I spoke, something changed.

Like when you slide a key into a lock and you can feel the pins as they fall into place. The tumbler turns. It was instantaneous. I don’t have many moments in my life where I have felt a shift like that. When something wasn't okay and then it was.  Most circumstances in life take a long time to mold me. I’m stubborn like that. This was different. 

I said Thank You out loud and an other-worldly peace came over me. 

Like a river.

Like the river God brought the Israelites to after Moses led them out of Egypt. So much time had passed since they crossed the Red Sea. And here they stood again, facing this river. Did God know where they walked? Was he still providing for them? Could they still trust him?  At that river, God showed up in power, assured them of his provision and stayed true to his promise.

Like the Israelites, He has taken us all across the river. 

We named you Jude, because we are his people. We named you River because he has shown up in power to fulfill all his promises to us. 

After Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan, God instructed them to go back and choose 12 stones from the middle of the river, and set them up as a memorial so that in seasons of doubt they would be able to look at the stones and recall God's faithfulness.

My favorite part of this story is when God says, "In the future, your children will ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' Then you can tell them..."

Your name serves as one of our family's stones. I greatly anticipate the day you come and ask us what it means. Then we can tell you...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Current Obsessions

Georgia peaches. They are here and they are perfection. Go to the farmer's market and getcha some.

This movie - SO good! 

This book. It's the author's first and I can't put it down. Also, all things WWII apparently.

This podcast. It's the story of a reporter investigating a murder from 1999. Each episode gives you a little more detail from the case and you get to hear actual courtroom testimony, police interrogations and phone calls between the reporter and the man convicted of the crime. Fascinating!! Thanks for the recommendation Bonnie. 

These sunglasses. For my birthday my folks gave me my first pair of big-girl sunglasses. I'm trying my very best to put them back in the case every time I take them off. Unfortunately I am very good at dropping and scratching lenses. Yikes. 

These white belts. Did you see my post on Instagram? Brit and E started karate last week and I LOVE it. The coaches teach focus, discipline and respect in addition to all the kicks and jabs. Um yes please.
This ice cream. Try it, you'll thank me. 

This work out plan. Currently on Week 9 of 12, it is keeping me on my toes and helping shake the last of the baby weight. It is not a coincidence that ice cream and a work-out plan are both on this list. 

This recipe. YUM. Probably making it onto my master meal rotation because - easy & delicious.

What are you obsessed with currently? Any podcasts, make-up items, songs, recipes, TV shows I need to know about??

Friday, July 10, 2015

10 Lessons Mom Taught Me Without Trying

1. Read your Bible early and often. My mom actually wears Bibles out. She reads and annotates and studies them until the binding is useless and the cover is worn off. I have never known anyone to love the Word the way my mother does.

2. The tongue has the power of life and death. As I came into my own as an adult I started to notice adults are not much different from high schoolers when it comes to how they speak of others. But my mom has never been in that category. I have never, NEVER heard her utter an unkind word about a family member (even her in-laws!) Until my early twenties I didn't even notice that all moms weren't like her. Her friends are not a topic of discussion unless she's telling me something wonderful about them or making plans. She brings life to our family through her words.

3. Drink more water. Growing up, whenever my sister or I would approach Mom with an ailment or affliction, almost without fail her response was, "Go drink a glass of water." We would huff and roll our eyes, but 95% of the time it did the trick.

4. You'll never regret re-applying lipstick before a picture is taken.  I berate myself often for forgetting to do this.

5. It's likely your children will not appreciate the sacrifices you make for them - and that's ok. When my sister and I were young, our family never lived closer than 3 hours away from hers. And we were only that close for a few years. We moved frequently and most often it took a flight plus a few hours of driving to reach her own family. I never appreciated that growing up. Ever. She had two babies 22 months apart and was never able to call her mom or sisters over when she just wanted adult conversation, or needed to go to the grocery store alone. But I never felt like a burden and she never took her load out on me or my sister. So hey - it's a bit belated, but thank you Mom. I recognize how much you set aside  to stay-at-home with us and live that transient lifestyle.

6. Wear moisturizer and sunscreen. Her skin is FLAWLESS. At 33 I have more wrinkles than her already.

7.  It's important to have your own hobbies. She's obsessed with hiking and gets out in the national parks around us often. But every couple of years she goes abroad to hike in hoity-toity locales. Brittany? Barcelona? The Cotswolds? Sign her up. She stays in 4-star hotels and feasts on fresh local fare with a group of similarly passionate hikers. She goes with or without my dad and does her thing. I love it.

8. There's no such thing as too many pairs of shoes. 

9. Mom and Dad are always on the same team.  I'll never forget the time my dad was presented with an opportunity to take a job overseas; I was in 8th grade at the time, my sister a well-established high schooler. We all loved the city we lived in. Had a great house, good friends, a church we felt at home in. But Dad wanted to go for it. Over dinner one night he proposed a family vote on the issue - Mom, Anna and I each had a vote but in the event of a tie, he got an additional vote. Anna and I exchanged a pleading glance with Mom - if she would side with us we could perform a coup and keep our perfect little lives intact. She looked directly at us with tears brimming on her lashes and voted with Dad. We were heartbroken and pissed off. (At 13 and 15 years old we could throw an attitude around with the best of them.) We moved to London and had a three year adventure that changed us all permanently for the better.

10. Education is a life-long pursuit. Mom would bring 3 books with her on vacation back before Kindles made this convenient. She got her Masters' degree at age 53. There has rarely been a season of her life when she was not enrolled in a Bible study. She even makes valiant attempts to figure out her iPhone before calling me.

Happy birthday Mom! You are simply one of the best people on the planet and I learn more from you every year. 

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