Freshman Year of College

I’m in many “sandwiched” friendships. I’m close friends with women in their 40s who are getting ready to send their kids off to college for the first time. I’m also friends with those 16-20 year old kids of theirs. It’s a really fun dynamic.

Many of our conversations are centered around the topic of college and I’ve been feeling rather sentimental about my own experience.


Let it be known that when I left for college in 2004, I was equipped with exactly zero computers.  I may have stashed my TI-83 calculator in my bookbag for good luck, but basically I had a pile of ruled notebooks. Oh, and I had a stack of floppy discs for saving my work on the library computers. (No flash drives, no google drive or dropbox, not even re-writable cds. Kevin would tell you I was completely behind the times, and I was a tiny bit, but this was how my high school had taught me.) A few months into school, I bought Kevin’s old laptop off of him so he could buy the iBook4 (which had 60 gbs of memory).

My school email address was my first ever and it was a doozy:  mf230298@arbor.edu. Kevin taught me how to AIM instant messenger and I chatted online with my college friends as “arborfish19.” (My maiden name was “Fish.”) I had a Xanga blog (which I tried to find just now and it has been archived because it hasn’t been used in 5 years …or 10).

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please note: these photos were scanned onto my computer. They were taken with film cameras. I didn’t get a digital camera until junior year. 

I didn’t get a cell phone until the end of my sophomore year and it was a Motorola flip phone with…get this…an antenna you had to pull out to make a call. There was no text messaging.  Each dorm room had a land line phone with an extension and you could call for free from across campus. To make phone calls home, I was loaded with a 1000 minute calling card. You’d better believe I had those 16 digits and a pin memorized.

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Facebook was just getting started my freshman year, and I boycotted this up-and-coming internet-thingy for one and a half school years until I succumbed to the madness. There were no games or chats or even pokes on FB. It was just faces and short statuses that all began with the prompt: “Melanie is…”

I say all this as a way of confessing that I am a bit behind the times, but also to tell you that while technology changes, the disciplines with which you choose to live your life do not need to change. 


To you, sweet girl, going off to college,

What you are about to do is most definitely a big deal. It’s a big deal for you and a big deal for your family. I remember thinking to myself, “Everything is about to change. Nothing will ever be the way it was before.” And while that’s a bit overly dramatic, it’s basically true.

But here’s the bigger truth – You are at a most exciting precipice of life, getting to step more fully into the you God created you to be.

You are going to be met with many new influences – friends, professors, employers, books, theologies, pastors – and you’re going to be forming your own individual worldview. You will take what you’ve been taught by your family, your teachers, your childhood friends, and your church and you’ll add to that foundation a broader view of life.

It’ll be a bit scary at first. You might feel like you’re questioning everything you’ve ever known. (Your parents might freak out a bit too.) But it’s good to question. Questions lead to well-developed answers, answers that you’ve researched and debated and talked to death with your friends in the wee hours of the night. And those answers will transform you. You will come out the other side stronger and more confident, firmer in your faith in Christ. Don’t fear the questions; God isn’t afraid of your questionsBecause in all that searching the Truth will come out and the Truth always sets you free.

You’re going to do a lot of growing up in the next four years. It’s a beautiful time of transition, a gracious movement into adulthood. Why? Well, you’re getting a taste of independence while still having the backing (perhaps even financial backing) of your family back home. Win-Win. But here’s the thing with independence – it must be used wisely. You can survive college on energy drinks and all-nighters and last-minute study sessions and leftover pizza; tons of people do that and do “just fine.” But the thing of it is, God has called you to live a full life, a life honoring to him. I challenge you to make each of your decisions – big and small – with this mindset (Colossians 3:23)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

With that foundation, here are my bullet-pointed list of goals for you:

  1. Go to bed. For the love of all that is holy go to bed at a decent hour. Like 10 or 11pm. You can stay up ridiculously late on Friday night if you want, but you’re in college for a reason and you have a job to do. Getting a decent night’s sleep is absolutely essential to living with excellence.
  2. Eat Well. The “freshman 15” is real and is sometimes more like the “freshman 30.” This phenomenon occurs because you have an unlimited buffet at every meal and no one to tell you to stop eating. So try the soft serve ice cream, but decide to limit yourself. Eat the fancy-pants, sugary cereal that your mom never bought you, but limit yourself. Indulge in the delicious French fries and the fountain pop, but limit yourself. Go ahead and buy a pizza or a burger at ten o’clock at night, but only every once in a while. (The fourth-meal syndrome is a big problem and is often solved by going to bed at a decent hour forthelove.) Choose to try vegetables you used to despise and get to know that salad bar. Maybe even have a salad for one meal a day (not with tons of ranch or caesar dressing… that kind of defeats the purpose). Eat whole fruit once or twice a day. Go out to Denny’s at 1am with your friends, but not every week.
  3. Exercise.  This one is really tough for even the best students. Getting up early to work out or run sounds like cruel torture, but it is totally worth it. Waking up an hour early is not too difficult if you’re going to bed at a decent hour and the time alone with your thoughts (often before everyone else gets up) is priceless. You’ll be energized for your day and fight off those extra pounds with ease.
  4. Create a daily routine for yourself. All of the above kind of work into this one. You may not have class until 12:30pm, but perhaps the wise thing to do with your independence is to get up around 7am, go workout, shower, eat breakfast (I know, I’m asking a lot here), and have time in quiet with the Lord.
  5. Set aside at least 30 minutes a day for private devotion with Jesus. This may be in a corner of your dorm room before your roommate wakes up or while she’s at class. It may be in a prayer chapel or under a certain tree you love or on the quiet floor of the library. But get alone with God. Pray. Listen. Journal. Read. Study. I’ll list a bunch of my favorite spiritual discipline resources at the bottom. (And I’d love to have a conversation with you about this topic if you need some guidance.)
  6. Friends. Make lots of friends. Be brave. Go up to that girl and introduce yourself. She feels just as awkward and uncomfortable as you do. Every one of you is leaving the home you’ve always known and having to live with people you’ve never met. It’s going to be hard and your going to feel out of place sometimes. But know you’re not alone. And you’re probably about to make some the greatest friendships. Living with people will do that. :)
  7. Roommates. I highly recommend leaving your freshman-year-roommates up to fate. I’ve known too many people who choose their roommate based on a high school friendship or meeting someone at registration day and then it goes horribly wrong and you lose a friend. Just let Admissions do their job the first time around. And live in a community dorm at least your freshman year. It forces you to share space with others with whom you might successfully ignore if you have a private suite-style room. It’ll be good for you, I swear.
  8. Boys. This could easily be another series of posts. I don’t have succinct advice on this one. But I will say that I made some of my best guy-friends during college and I found my husband during college. So pray a lot. Don’t give in to the pressure to get  “ring by spring.” And enjoy your friendships with guys. If you want to talk more, I’m listening.
  9. Your major. It’s ok to switch your major a million times. I don’t know how anyone expects an 18 year old to know what they’re going to be doing for the rest of your life. I’m 30 years old and only now figuring out what I’m going to be when I grow up. While you have the space in your academic schedule take a class or two that interest you, just for fun. But be sure to have that 4 year academic plan nailed down as soon as you can so you don’t have to tack on a 5th year (especially if you’re going into education.)
  10. Classes. Go to them. Get to class on time, be prepared. Take that syllabus (the whole semester’s plan) on day one and write down all assignments in a planner of some sort. By doing this for all of your classes you’ll know when your weeks are going to be heavy and when they’ll be light. Maybe, just maybe, you can plan to work ahead in one class when you have a ton of stuff due for another class on the same week. Just an idea. For the most part, no professor is going to tell you what’s due and when it’s due. The syllabus was created for that reason and you’re expected to follow it on your own …or get left behind. Sometimes readings are assigned and you’ll never hear them mentioned or even referenced in class…but then there’s stuff on the exams from that material. So follow the plan.

Ok, well, it’s past my grown-up bedtime, so I think I’ll close with this:

I love you. I believe in you. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and challenge you and help you become more fully the person God intended you to be.

 

Continue reading “Freshman Year of College”

Days Like This

Dear Little Girl,

Our days together, in this intimate relationship of pregnancy, are drawing to a close. As difficult as it has been to carry you, I am certain that I will miss (even grieve) your nearness. Over these months I have described many times the challenges of being pregnant. It is a hard, hard thing that cannot be truly explained with words.

But it is so beautiful. Isn’t that the way of creation? The hardest challenges can reap the most wonderful gifts? It’s even the way of God. The gift of our salvation, our restoration to righteousness, came as a result of Christ taking on human flesh and bearing a cross.

So I am grateful to be a part of this difficult, beautiful creation – your life. I cannot wait to meet you.

And I am so surprised at how I feel these days. As big and huge as I am, as near to meeting face to face as we are, I feel more “myself” than at any point during this pregnancy. In fact I feel stronger and more confident. I have been able to practice yoga every single day since the week of Thanksgiving (a first in many months!) I have been walking about 3 miles most days, often with your Daddy. We love that time together; we can’t wait to add a stroller to the mix.

And despite a cold affecting my health and the nearness of delivery looming, I decided it would be a good time to cook up that turkey and have some friends over. So I’m hosting a big, delicious dinner tonight, complete with homemade pies and cranberry sauce. Oh, and I did I mention it’s 60+ degrees out today…on DECEMBER 12TH?! what???? I might just get my wish of walking the parking lot (or the park) during early labor!

Here’s to you, Little One! Come quickly.

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Niagara on the Lake

Kevin and I travel a lot. We have many church conferences and training trips and spiritual retreats and family get-togethers and a myriad of other obligations. We’re used to packing our bags, loading the car, and getting to our destination with time to spare. It’s almost a challenge, then, to change our mindset to “vacation mode” where there are no time constraints or agendas to follow. But once a year, most every November we take a week for just the two of us.

With Baby Girl on the way, we didn’t want to travel long and far (like to DC or Myrtle Beach or the Bahamas as we did in past years). We didn’t want to spend too much money or too much time getting there. The goal was time together, in a new place, with all responsibilities set aside. I tend to be the travel agent because I love researching and price comparing until I’m blue in the face.

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We settled on Niagara on the Lake, Ontario. This town is about a half hour from the more famous Niagara Falls, but its quaint quietness is much preferred for our style. We got a fantastic deal (Hotwire once again) on the Colonel Butler Best Western which is the nicest Best Western either of us has ever seen. 2015-11-12 11.07.23

The free parking and free internet and free hot breakfast are all “wins” in our book, and the sidewalks stretch from our front door to the Tim Horton’s across the street and all the way to the Niagara River and boutique shopping downtown.

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We took many walks around these historic neighborhoods, admiring the architecture and landscaping and fall foliage and emerging Christmas decor…

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…and then we’d sit at Starbucks for an hour or two. Because coffee & conversation are total wins.

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We drove to nearby Outlet Malls and Shopping Malls, mostly browsing and being together. We ordered pizza and wings to enjoy over rousing episodes of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. (We don’t have cable, so this is fun stuff, people!)

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And on our last day, we packed up, enjoyed our hot complementary breakfast, and drove to THE Falls. We had visited the American side of Niagara Falls a time or two while living in Western New York, but this was the first time in many years either of us had been to the Canadian side.

The combination of my pregnancy hormones and my sensory receptiveness and the sheer glory that is this God-wonder brought tears to my eyes. I could not contain the reaction to such a breath-taking site. If you have never been to the Falls, please plan a trip.

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2015-11-13 11.39.46 After walking around the chilly, windy mist, browsing a gift shop and snapping a few photos that don’t do it justice, we hopped back in the car. Twenty minutes later we had crossed into the US and made our way to Olive Garden for lunch on our way to Albion.  And yes, we topped off our “Baby Moon” vacation with a weekend in our former home town. It was wonderful time with dear friends and teens and littles who still share our love and lives. They showered us with a crazy-awesome amount of gifts for Baby Girl and exchanged hugs and stories.  with LeBarons 3

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I’m so thankful for our time away, our time alone, our time with friends.

Our Church

One of my friends sent me a birthday text that included encouragement of what I’d “accomplished” in my 30 years. She listed “several flourished ministries” and I stopped dead in my tracks, thanking God for the privilege of being a part of his Kingdom Work.

Last Sunday we were excited to attend our former church family in Albion, New York. It was so glorious to be back in the presence of friends-turned-family, to feel the love and knowingness that hadn’t faded because of time or space. Being in that town makes me smile. Eating at that Tim Horton’s, walking down Main Street and waving to passers-by, walking through the halls of that familiar church building. I loved every minute, every conversation, every hug.

And I have to be completely honest when I say I expected to feel some discontentment rising up in my heart during that weekend. For we loved that place and those people fiercely and it was terribly hard to leave. The last year and a half in full time, lead-pastoral ministry has been intense for the Eccles. It’s a big job with a steep learning curve. I thought I’d want to quit and go back to my “happy place.”

But even as I braced myself for the ride home when I might cry wishing I could stay in My Albion, I found that the Lord had already laid seeds in my heart for something totally unexpected – deep contentment, true joy, and resonating peace. As we drive those many turnpike miles, Kevin and I could hardly stop talking about all the things we love about our church, Our Monroe. We had truly missed worshiping with our congregation that Sunday. We realized we truly love everything about Monroe FMC.

And I was somehow surprised that God had done this work. I was surprised that I still felt all the love and affection for my New York church while feeling eagerness and deep connection with my Michigan church. It’s hard for a pastor’s wife to feel truly safe among her congregation. There’s this unspoken expectation that our family should be better and holier than others, that we should have everything all together. It’s hard to know who to trust and who to talk to because your church people are somehow supposed to be those under your shepherding leadership, but also those with whom you share life authentically. It’s a tricky situation. So to have prayer gatherings where tears are shed, life’s hard stories are shared, meaningful hugs are exchanged…it’s like taking a deep breath of fresh air. It’s what Church is supposed to be. And I get to be a part of a growing congregation that is learning this true-life kind of Christianity.

These people know me. I mean, for Pete’s sake I received peanut butter M&Ms, Reese’s cups, Chai Tea, a Nintendo 64, music note earrings, and KALE for my birthday. Those are my favorite things ever. To be known is every heart’s desire. And to be known by the congregation to which you were called to shepherd…THAT is a true blessing. 

 

FAQs

Dear Little One, 

We heard your heart beating fast and strong today. What a blessed relief it was! We were assured once again that you are safe and sound, alive and well. God has given me such a peace about your life and my pregnancy. But I still can’t know the future, and as this morning’s doctor’s appointment drew near I couldn’t help by dread the silence. What if there’s no heartbeat?

Cathy had no trouble finding that pumping sound. It was music to my ears. “SHE’S ALIVE!” I exclaimed in joy.

I pray over you every single day, Little Girl. Your life is already a gift; what an experience it will be to be witness to the work of God molding you before our eyes.

We’re still not sure of your name. Girl names were always “easy” for me when I was making baby name lists growing up. Now that you’re a physical part of my life, though, the decision feels so much more important. Even once we choose a name for you, though, we plan to cherish that as our secret before your Birth Day. And with that, I wanted to take a minute and share with our friends some answers to their Frequently Asked Questions.


Where did the name “Baby Fuji” come from?
When we found out we were 5 weeks pregnant, the interwebs told us the baby was the size of an appleseed. Kevin quickly picked a gender-neutral apple name – Fuji – to assign Baby Eccles while in utero. Since we’re keeping her name a surprise, Baby Fuji she will remain.

Have you started a baby registry?
With the adoption saga of February 2015, I opened a registry on Amazon.com. Since finding out we’re having a Baby Girl, I have been editing the list to girly-specific items. For those who have asked, here’s the link to the Amazon Registry we created. We’ve also started a rough registry at Walmart for those who need a “physical store” to shop.

We chose a new Crib Bedding set which Kevin and I both love. It’s also perfect with the present room colors – the carpet and walls – and I’ve changed some registry color selections to match better. I purchased Aqua Drapes today that are already hung!

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As I mention in our registry note: Let it be known that you can go OFF REGISTRY if you’d like. We are completely welcoming of homemade gifts or Etsy purchases or thrift store finds or Ebay goods. (Bows & hair clips and other girly items especially welcome!) Any products you think are “essential” that we haven’t registered for? Go for it! Find something we’ve registered for at a cheaper price – do it!

Are you going to bottle feed or breast feed?
Prayerfully, I am planning to breast feed exclusively as long as we are able. I know circumstances cannot be predicted and I will brace myself for necessary changes to the plan. (I do love a good plan, though.)

Cloth or Disposable Diapers? 
Given our bent for frugality and au natural, we’re planning to do cloth diapering. I have done research and really love the BumGenius All-in-One (and one size fits all) diapers. As mentioned in the “registry note” above, however, if you happen make cloth diapers or find a deal at a garage sale or something crazy like that, I would not at all be opposed or offended by that.


Friends,

Any other questions or suggestions are more than welcome, any time. (Just don’t touch the “weight” topic with a thousand foot pole, pleaseandthankyou.)

The Nest

Dear Child of Mine,

I can almost picture you. You’re no longer some far-off dream of mine. I have been busy preparing for your arrival every day since February 1st. Yes, this includes doing the necessary paperwork, but also readying my home, researching baby equipment, and getting all sort of wonderful tips from friends. This morning I thought to myself, “You know you’re nesting when you spend Valentine’s morning cleaning the mold off of the bathroom ceiling with vinegar, having been disgusted by it for 9 months and never done anything about it previously.” I just knew, “I can’t have my baby in this environment!” (Apparently it wasn’t a big enough deal when it was just us, or the slew of visitors we have over.)

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Within days of your adoption even being an option, I set to work painting your nursery. I didn’t care that I had the worst headache ever; it needed to be done. Absolutely essential. I realize it’s totally not that important, but this is how motivating my maternal instincts are. They’ve been stifled for years, stuffed down deep so as to not step foot in the baby department or get lost for hours on mommy blogs. But now, Child, my nesting nature is in season and working overtime to catch up on 9 months of preparations.

In 2010 when we started trying to get pregnant, I turned my garage sale inclinations to all things baby. I had built up quite a stock pile of beautiful onesies, bottles, bibs, and gadgets. As the years went by and we moved homes again and again, I slowly started getting rid of these items. The only things I kept were 5 Avent bottles, 4 onesies (U of M, 2 Hungry Caterpillar, “Little Squirt”), an adorable bedroom set (including an impractical comforter, window valence, clothes hamper, mobile, and a bumper which I hear I’m not supposed to use), an inexpensive front carrier, and a beautiful red jogging stroller.

It’s taken all of my self control (and a little of my husband’s) to keep me from buying a crib, diapers, wipes, formula, new bottle nipples, car seat, changing pad, bathing necessities and a slew of onesies. We’ve already received so many offers of hand-me-downs as well as rumors of baby showers, that we know many of these purchases won’t be necessary. Now if I can just stifle my nesting needs just a little while longer.

Our people are seriously incredible. On a daily basis I am reminded of the friends and family who are rooting for us, praying fervently for us, and overwhelmingly supportive. I have received lengthy emails giving me all of the details of baby supplies and needs. The details are so important to my psyche and I can’t believe so many would take the time to share their experiences. I have friends who tell me, “You’re going to be fine. I promise.”

In the past few days, there have been a handful of emails that have brought me to near tears. (Side note, I haven’t had a big cry over all of this yet. It’s like my tears have dried up in exchange for the productivity necessary. I’m just waiting to be overtaken by sobs. I’ll get back to you on that.) These particular words are exactly what I needed to hear; I was already worried about this. How did she know? I am certainly going to need to return to often over the next season of life.

“Even though you desperately want a baby, and have been trying for YEARS and paying lots of money and undergoing multiple uncomfortable medical procedures, and even though you’re doing everything you can to adopt this baby successfully, and you really, really want to hold his little self in your arms and just be his mom…even though ALL this is true, you’re still allowed to be overwhelmed sometimes, especially at first. You’re allowed to have bad days, and you’re allowed to think wistfully back on the days before the baby and remember how you could get the sleep you needed, or how it was easier to do what you want when you wanted. ALL moms have those feelings, but I don’t want you to feel that because you’ve done so much more than most people to get a baby, that to feel that way is somehow ungrateful. The truth is, being a mom is amazing and wonderful and so, so good, but it’s also brutally hard and exhausting and overwhelming. That’s just normal. And you have every right to feel that way too.”

Child, as much as you are loved and prayed for, know that your Mom and Dad are also covered in care. We are so thankful.

Come quickly, Child.

Love, Mama


Help Kevin & Melanie bring home #BabyEccles at YouCaring.

 

Sowing and Reaping

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Dear Child of Ours,

Sometimes there are so many swirling thoughts, countless circumstances being juggled, it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s easy to feel paralyzed by the options and opinions. Deep breath. One thing at a time.

I’m a future-planner. A get-all-my-ducks-in-a-row kind of person. Thus, I am so thankful for your Daddy, the guy who speaks truth and peace into my harried lifestyle. He empowers me to accomplish one task, well. Then we’ll move on to the next. Because of him, I haven’t had to do any brown-paper-bag breathing. (Thanks, dear.)

You see, Child, for the first time in nearly five years of barrenness, we are beginning to see a glimmer of hope, that perhaps you are going to join us. And before I go any further let me tell you how much I love you already. I don’t even know you yet, but you, Child, are loved a hundred times over. And not just by your Daddy and me, but by countless people who have treaded this path with us. They, too, have dreamed about this day, prayed for you to join our family. You are widely and richly loved.

Sunday, February 1st dawned cold and snowy. The flakes fell hard and fast, covering the path behind us even as we shoveled. Your Dad and I got to church at 7:30am and readied the sanctuary for the brave souls who might venture out in this weather. The service was undeniably small – 27 people compared to our usual 60 – but the warmth and intimacy was felt by everyone in the room. We worshiped together as friends.

But just before the service started our good friend, Cathy, dropped an incredible opportunity in our laps. In her practice as a nurse midwife, she had begun caring for a young woman who was 34 weeks pregnant and had another baby at home already. (I will not be sharing the details of her story, as it’s not mine to tell.)  In the flow of conversation, the idea of adoption came up and Cathy’s mind instantly fled to “Kevin and Melanie.” She cautiously broached the subject, not wanting to scare this delicate girl away. The response from the birth mother was positive, wanting to know more about us and the adoption process.

So here we are, Sunday morning, getting ready to do what we do – lead a church service together – when suddenly we realize we might be parents in a month! Instantly we said yes, but weren’t very optimistic that this was actually going to happen. We were afraid to breathe.

At the end of the service, I felt led to tell our entire congregation about this adoption possibility. We need our church family, side by side, shouldering this with us. And they responded so wonderfully. The whole group came forward and laid hands on us as we prayed – for this unborn baby, for this birth mother and her family, and for us. May the name of the Lord be praised.

In the 13 days since this announcement we have hit the ground running. I literally had not stopped working on this adoption in all my waking hours until last night around 6pm. There was so much to be done. Thankfully, God had been preparing for the speed of this process as we prepared an application for another agency back in August. A few months ago, we had put the adoption app on hold, feeling like we just needed to wait on God’s “yes.”

God’s “Yes” came with neon, flashing lights, and the speed and intensity of the Top Thrill Dragster! We have filled out applications. We have received letters of recommendation from three references (thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, friends). We compiled our official documents – birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, social security cards, marriage license (one copy for the social worker, one for the lawyer). We have been fingerprinted. (This is the longest part of the process – pray that the government works miraculously fast on our background checks.) We typed 12 pages detailing our personal history. Thanks to Cathy, our messenger, we shared our “Dear Birth Mother” scrapbook with the birth mother and her family. (Shutterfly scrapbooks are an A+ in my book, and a beautiful way to introduce to this unborn baby’s family in a heartfelt, but hands-off way.)

We learned that the baby – a BOY! –  is healthy, measuring now at 36 weeks. The final key to all of this is the birth father. We learned on Monday that he has agreed to sign off on the adoption. Praise be to God! Birth mother has repeatedly told Cathy of her certainty that we are the right family for her baby and that she is absolutely going through with the adoption. Her family and the birth father’s family are all supportive as well. We are as certain as we can be until the baby is born and both mother and father sign their names.

Oh right, we found an incredible adoption agency to do our home study in an expedited fashion, and we found a lawyer right in town who can very easily facilitate our adoption. We have met with both the social worker and the lawyer, filled out the necessary paperwork – pages and pages, and paid both in full. The home study will be finalized next week, followed by the lawyer drawing up his papers for the court.

And we bought a baby-mobile! It’s a 2009 Mazda 5 – described as a minivan crossed with a station wagon. It’s got sliding doors, two bucket seats, and a two seater bench in the back. We love it! The gas mileage is a bit frustrating given our history of 38mpg cars, but totally worth it for the ease and safety of this vehicle. Our little beloved blueberry – a 2008 Toyota Yaris – just wasn’t the right vehicle to bring home baby. We’re selling it if anyone is interested.

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The #BabyEccles Mobile

 

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For Sale! Click on the image for the complete listing.

 

Child, we are readying a room just for you. We have been given clothes and bottles and swings and carriers from friends who want to help us prepare. I wasn’t expecting to have to compress 10 months worth of preparations into 10 days, but we are totally ok with this. I started out feeling fearful, struggling to be excited because we’ve been disappointed time and time again. But one of my friend counseled me by saying “the joy of anticipation now is greater than what the sorrow of disappointment would be.” And truly I believe God will hold our hearts through this, as He has over the past many years. We want to eagerly anticipate the arrival of you – our firstborn son – not live in skepticism and fear.

And so we wait with open arms and hearts full of love.

Eagerly praying,

Mama


Dear Readers,

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for following our journey. It has been completely overwhelming to discover the number of people who care deeply about our story, having read my entries from the beginning. I first shared this struggle 31 months into our infertility – January 2013. In December 2013, I began to write Letters to my Future Children, a venture which allowed me to share my life, my thoughts, and my dreams with the little ones who I prayed would join our family. Thank you for being faithful to pray for us, for telling me of your joy and excitement over this announcement.

My deepest desire is that the name of the Lord be praised. Our God does great things.

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Believing that many of you would want to help us in some way, we started a YouCaring fundraising page. Again, we are blown away by the generous investment in our family. Thank you for contributing to the finances of this adoption. It’s come fast and furious, and our hearts rest easier as we watch God provide through your donations.

Love,
Kevin and Mel

#MomForAWeek

Dear Little One,

This week I’ve experienced life as a single mom of four kids. It had only day 3 and I was like, wow, exhausted. The kids have been great and we’ve had lots of fun together. But I have a whole new level of respect for moms of any kind – let alone those doing it alone. (To be fair to myself, I did gain 4 kids overnight and I’m in a house that isn’t mine…but still. :)) Kudos to you, Mom-Heroes.
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Over the past 4 days, we’ve gone to friends’ houses, tried to ice skate, watched movies, had a scavenger hunt, made ice cream sundaes and pizza and cookies, practiced piano, enjoyed good conversations over dinner, had many bath times, snuggled, read books, visited the library, played board games, braided many pig tails, gone shopping, had a Tim Hortons date, went to piano lessons, hosted friends over, and done laundry and dishes.

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In addition to the fun I’ve had with the four L kids, I’ve gotten to see so many of the wonderful people I loved and left here in Albion. I thought it’d be fun to tell you who all I’ve managed to see in the 5 days I’ve been back in town.

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Sunday night: Randy, Sheryl, Ashlyn, Brendan, Madison, and Jillian
Monday morning at school: Katelyn, Lucy, Zoe, Sydney, Reuben, Corey, Nancy
Coffee with: Tom & Darryl
Lunch with: Tara, then saw Catherine, Jacob, and Sarah
Around town while taking kids to piano lessons and going for a walk: Lisa, Zach, Mike, Rick, Brooke, Marsha and Lucy, Margy, Wayne, Tara, Hanna, Sarah, Catherine, Hannah, Tod, Anna, Amelia, Henry, Charlotte
Evening visit with: Olivia
Tuesday (off school): ice skating with Tara, Catherine, Jacob, Ashlyn, Jillian, and Victor; Andrea, Zach, Jadon and Kasey; Lisa, Jody, Jaimie, Lucy, Adam
Wednesday at school: Peggy (aka Leggy!), Kristen and Abby, Corey, Kiera, Lisa,
Coffee with: Hannah
Visit with: Anna and Amelia
Survivor Night: Jon, Jack, Wayne, Grant and Jan
Morning School: Clara, Peggy, Greg
Girls night reunion! Catherine, Olivia, Marella, Savannah, Trinity, Jessy, Vivian, Tara, Jacob and Sarah.

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My body is so tired. My heart is so full.

In a Downpour of Love

Dear Little One,

I’m not sure what prompted me to share my very personal procedure with the “world” on Facebook yesterday. It’s a strange thing, sharing the private details of your life with so many. But there was something inside of me that knew the people who love me would want to know, would want to partner with me, would want to pray. So I clicked “share post” and walked away from the computer.

Over the past 24 hours I have received the most immense blessings. My heart is overflowing in a way I never anticipated. Friends and family, near and far, from childhood or high school, from this church or that church, from Bible Quizzing and friends of friends, from college or conferences, youth ministry years and blogging friends, known in decades past or just weeks ago – all of these have all been posting their support for me.

The only correlation I can find in past experiences is that epic walk down the aisle. As I approached my groom at the altar, arm linked with my father, I somehow found the ability to look out over the crowd. I saw a conglomeration of loved ones from every age and stage of my life, and I was completely and utterly overwhelmed by the love I’ve experienced.

Who knew I would know an even wider, deeper downpour through social media?

Thus, I’m using this letter to you, Child, to commemorate these gifts I’ve received, reminders of the many graces God has poured onto my life. That even in barrenness, there can come oasis


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And this afternoon, I responded:

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Going Under

Dear Child of Mine,

Tomorrow morning at 6:30, I’m going to try my best to think happy thoughts of you. I’m going to pray that what I’m about to do is successful and that God’s grace will pour out on us in the form of the pregnancy we’ve longed for.

You see, early in the morning, I will be arriving at the surgical institute for laparoscopic surgery. After the anesthesia knocks me out (which won’t take much), our wonderful new doctor will be exploring my abdominal cavity for any signs of endometriosis. Should she find scar tissue or adhesions on my organs, she’ll remove them during the procedure. If in fact I do have endometriosis, this could be the cause of my infertility – my missing you. This diagnosis would also bring enlightenment and proper treatment for my intense abdominal pain during my monthly cycle, as well as my consistent intestinal issues which have gone undiagnosed for years. If lesions of endometrial tissue are found on my colon or intestines or bowel, perhaps my “weak stomach” isn’t just weak.

As strange as it sounds, I hope I do have endometriosis. After years of questions and decades of suffering, I may have a cause, a reason behind my pain and (most importantly) my barren womb.

In addition to the laparoscopy, Doctor is going to do a hysteroscopy and D&C to clean out any possible scarring in my uterus. She will be testing the fluid of my egg follicles because she has a slight suspicion of poly cystic ovarian syndrome as well. My blood work came back normal – good thyroid and progesterone levels. The ultrasounds have been relatively clear, although two different sets of eyes have noted fluid around an ovary. (Possible sign of endometriosis again.) The ultrasound tech today did say multiple times, “Your anatomy is textbook perfect. It’s beautiful.” Why thank you. (I think?)

It occurred to me, just today, that this procedure…this surgery…may have an affect on my life beyond just tomorrow. I am praying for a speedy recovery, but I’m certainly aware of possible physical discomfort and limitations. I don’t like limitations, so resting and healing will prove a challenge for a fast-paced girl like me.

But, Child, I am thankful. I am thankful for a doctor and a nurse-friend who advocate for us. I’m thankful for the friends and family who put things like my surgery on their calendars to remind themselves to be with me in thought and prayer. I am thankful for my husband who’ll be by my side, take good care of me, and force me to rest, and maybe laugh a little when I’m totally groggy from the anesthesia. I’m beyond appreciative of the good insurance we have that is helping us finally get the answers we’ve needed.

And Dear Jesus, I’m thankful for these years of testing, of waiting and wondering, of pain and sadness; because they’ve drawn me into a deeper fellowship with you. Because of this struggle, I’ve seen your faithfulness. Because of my pain, I’m learning of my calling. Go with me tomorrow, Lord Jesus. Calm my nerves. Steady the doctor’s hands. Heal me well.