Overflowing Joy

These past many months I have been marveling at the sweetness of God. I have experienced His presence, His nearness with me almost constantly in a way more intimate than before. Rather than only noticing God at work around me – in conversations or in nature – my spirit is simply aware of Spirit, comfortably communing together.

I have been learning to recognize my limitations, giving myself grace and permission to embrace a rhythm of rest in my everyday rather than filling every moment with frantic productivity. I’m really good at being productive. I love working.  I love brainstorming and then instantly nailing down the details. I have a drive to do everything with excellence, especially my grad school homework. And while all of those things are good in and of themselves, if they are not tempered with self-acceptance, they can be harmful. When my productivity and goal-striving become efforts to prove myself and receive love in return, I have wandered away from my inherent worthiness.

Thus, I have entered into a season of “good enough is good enough.” I give myself time constraints for writing papers or reading books and what gets done is all I get done for that done. Somehow, miraculously, all assignments are completed, my grades remain S+ (“satisfactory plus” as was the kindergarten grading scale), and glory upon glory I have time and space for the people I love and the life God is calling me to participate in. This is good.

Perhaps the sweetest gift of all in these past few months has been the surprising gift of a second pregnancy! Kevin and I had questioned whether or not we would be able to conceive a second child after Kirsten’s birth, having dealt with five years of infertility. There had been no birth control usage in the months after Kirsten was born and by the time she was 18 months old, we were recognizing the need to come to terms with having only one biological child. As we came to a place of sincere contentedness, we were happy and at peace with what God had granted us, making zero efforts to time conception.

On Friday, October 13th, I randomly took a pregnancy test after Kevin and I had said how hilarious it would be if I was pregnant after all that “coming to grips” talk. Sure enough, those two pink strips shone clearly, and I laughed out loud. When Kevin got home, I was trying to wait nonchalantly for the right moment to tell him the news, but he spoiled my lead-up, instantly declaring, “You’re pregnant aren’t you?!” We smiled and hugged and laughed. And decided to keep our little secret between the two of us for the first few months. It was lovely.

I am now 22 weeks pregnant with Baby Girl, due in June 2018. We are absolutely delighted that God saw fit to grant us another girl – a sister for Kirsten! I wept tears of joy the day after our anatomy ultrasound as I contemplated the sweet love of God, the way He continually surpasses my plans or expectations. Ever since I was young, I had wanted to have two daughters. Fearful of disappointment,  I kept that desire to myself, never asking God for what I deeply longed for or sharing it with my husband. God knew, though, and in His abundant grace saw fit to grant us two precious daughters.

Everything about this second pregnancy has been characterized by joy and peace, virtues I have been hungry for since those desert days of barrenness. Looking back, I am so thankful He didn’t grant me my wishes in my timing. Because of those extra years, I have had time to experience more spiritual formation and come into confidence in my gifts and calling. I probably never would have said yes to God’s beckoning me for pastoral ministry, but as it stands now, He is equipping me to preach and raising me up as a leader of the next generation of female disciples – my own daughters! Kevin and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in May, and wow! am I am grateful for all those sweet years we had to grow up together. I’ll be finishing graduate school in July and ordination next June (glory be!) And what a gift it will be to have two girls in school together in the future. Everything about this life is gracious and so, so generous.

God has certainly filled me to overflowing.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

My Postpartum Self

My dear sweet Kirsten,

This is the first letter I’m writing to you as I look at your sweet little face, asleep and expressive right beside me. Last night was the hardest night yet, mostly because you’ve been such an amazing sleeper and eater. I think the most difficult part of your crying is when there seems to be nothing left to do to soothe you. The painful screaming just cuts open my heart. I was actually weeping with you last night, so sad that I couldn’t comfort you.

2016-01-07 22.12.45 But besides those rare moments, you are an incredibly “good” baby. You are an answer to my prayers in more ways than just your presence in my life. First, I prayed long and hard that you and I would learn to breastfeed well. I have heard so many painful and frustrating stories from friends, and I just wasn’t sure I could endure that struggle. Once again, God was overly gracious to me and you were an excellent nurser from minute one. We have been a great team, you and I. In fact, your pediatrician was thoroughly impressed with your health at your 10 day appointment. You weighed 7lbs 1/4 oz (we just ignore that quarter ounce because really?…) at birth and left the hospital at 6lbs 9oz. Just a week later you were up to 7lbs 3oz! What? You were surpassing your birth weight so quickly? and you’re breastfed? by a first time mom? Doctor really couldn’t believe it. And neither could I. That appointment went so well that rather than having us come in weekly for your weigh-ins, the Doctor said just come back at 30 days! Go you, Kirsten!

You have the silliest involuntary facial expressions. I crack up laughing sometimes and I can hardly wait to see you using those muscles on purpose.

2016-01-11 12.07.55

You have officially had two diaper blow outs. The first was a week ago and just a quarter-sized ring wet through your clothes and onto my jeans. But this morning…oh, this morning…after our longer-than-ever night last night it was as if you just had to put the cherry on top. Daddy and I were sitting in bed; I was nursing you and he was reading. You were eating and eating and pooping and pooping. I took a moment to lay you on your daddy while I got out of bed and I asked him to change you. That’s when I saw it! My sheets and my nightgown were soaked through with a huge amount of your poo! And of course I had conveniently just spread the mess to the duvet cover when I laid you on your daddy. Wow, way to go, Little Girl. We got you to the bathroom and cleaned you up. The bed was stripped and sheets were washed..and now I am officially a pro at putting on a duvet cover. I should make a youtube video or something. :)

And then there’s me, your momma. How am I doing, you ask? Thanks to be to God who poured out more incredible blessings. After my long marathon of labor and six+ hours of pushing, I managed to be controlled enough during that last push that I didn’t tear or need any stitches. What?! Another specific answer to a long-prayed prayer? Thank you, Lord. I was sore and moved cautiously those first 3 days after delivery. The sorest part of my body, though, were my arms and shoulders from all that pulling myself up during various pushing tactics. Oh and that TDap shot. ouch.


By day 10 I felt really great and went on my first 3 mile walk down Keegan. It was a beautiful day and your daddy kept you cozy at home while I spent 45 minutes alone with God. Glorious. I went on another walk that week and the three of us walked laps at the mall last Saturday (since it was bitter cold outside). I have accomplished three different (highly modified) Jillian Michaels workouts, mostly doing strength training – weights and squats. I am avoiding all ab work because unfortunately I did end up with a diastasis. If I avoid making it worse with planks or crunches these next few weeks, I may be able to keep from permanent damage. I pray this is the case because all of yoga is core-based and I need (really want) to be back firing on all cylinders eventually.

Breastfeeding is the most amazing weight loss plan, though. Wow, I didn’t really believe I would be this lucky. I went into labor at 174 pounds, up 34 pounds from my original weight. (right on target. yay!) But even this 174 was distributed through my arms and legs, keeping me from fitting into almost any of my pre-pregnancy shirts and pants very early on. I thought for sure this would hang on for months after delivery. Nope. I came home 164lbs. By Day 8 I was 157lbs and this morning (Day 18), I was 149lbs. Never in a million years did I think I’d see the 140s again so quickly. I am able to wear all of my pre-pregnancy shirts already and most of my workout/yoga gear. My pants situation is a little different because right before I got pregnant I got rid of my “bigger” jeans – those 8s I was so acclimated to. I was smaller than ever and wearing 4s and 6s. Thus, I needed some “in between” pants. I went to goodwill last week and found four pairs of size 10s and was amazed I was already wearing 10s. And now this week, they’re already too big for me. Holy Moly. I’ll take it, though!

I have been managing about 6 hours of broken sleep a night which I appreciate. I tend to feel great and energized all morning and if I don’t get at least one nap before 4pm I’m kind of a mess, physically and emotionally. Know your limits, Mel, and respect them.


Thank you, Father God, for healing my body so quickly and getting me back on my feet and feeling more beautiful than ever. My perception of my body has changed completely, and even if I never look exactly the same (I can’t imagine ever looking exactly the way I did before carrying and delivering a child), I am so, so thankful for the body I’ve been given. I am going to care for myself with respect and gratitude. And for now, I’m going to keep eating like a horse because ohmygosh breastfeeding makes you ravenous.

Her Name

Nearly a lifetime ago, a sauve 17 year old boy made his intentions clear. The girl was 18 and naive to the world of dating, but she was confident that this guy could be trusted. God was good to weave our stories together, teaching us how to love, how to argue, how to commit.

It was 2004 and we didn’t go on lots of fancy or “official” dates during our dating years. Neither of us had a car, and money was needed for school expenses. Thus, we spent much of our time just hanging out around campus with friends and homework and dining commons food. And we liked it just fine. After one evening walk around the “P” loop, that young boy walked me back to my dorm. Somehow the topic of children came up, and Kevin shared with me a beautiful secret that I instantly cherished.

He said, with a twinkle in his eye, “If I have a daughter one day, I am going to name her Kjiersten Sophia.” He proceeded to explain the Swedish spelling to me (with that pesky “j”) and the correct pronunciation of “keerstin.” (Kevin’s maternal lineage is Swedish.) He remembered this name from his mom’s list when she wondered if her second baby would be a girl. (Hi, Brian!)

I practically melted into a puddle of sentiment right in front of him. This boy I was learning to love already had thoughts of wanting to be a dad someday. He had thought about her name and confided in me. I was smitten.

Years later in 2008, we entered into a covenant marriage during a sacred ceremony with family and friends. And after years of grad school and six moves and new drivers’ licenses and ministry and infertility we found ourselves expecting our firstborn, a daughter.

With just 6 weeks left until we meet our long-desired little girl, the reality of her life continues to point to God’s grace. Many people said, “You deserved this” or “we knew this would happen.” But the thing is, we didn’t deserve this child. We did nothing to earn favor in God’s eyes in March 2015. We had done nothing to deserve the years of infertility either. Part of me had come so completely into contentment with our childlessness that I wanted to remain the couple that displayed the grace of God for all to see, even though we never bore the child our hearts’ desired.

But for whatever reason, beyond our control, beyond our behavior, beyond our desires, God said to us,

This. This is the moment. This. This is the child to be born into the world. You. You are to be her parents. Raise her to love me, to serve me, to serve my world.

And just as we said “yes” to the barrenness and “yes” to adoption, we said “yes” to the pregnancy.

We found out by week 11 that our child was a girl. (Thanks to Natera and their fancy new DNA tests.) Immediately I set out on a name hunt. I pulled up the lists I had been collecting over the years. I scoured the internet for meanings and pronunciations, for popularity and spellings. We both determined that the meaning of the name was of utmost importance to us. Thus, any names we loved but lacked meaning were crossed off. We narrowed down our options. And I piled on more possibilities. Finally, on a long road trip, I read through the names and had Kevin veto any he didn’t like. That left us with about 10 choices for first names and 3 for middle names.

We made our decision. And a few weeks later, I changed my mind again. And again. Kevin patiently waited as I brought up new options and waffled back and forth, back and forth. At some point I settled on our original choice and we haven’t looked back. I became so certain, I used a generous gift card from a dear friend to purchase a Lisa Leonard necklace with Baby Girl’s name stamped on it. We managed to keep our lips completely sealed for the past many months, and we’re pretty sure some of you are DYING to know.

It is with great joy that we introduce to you Kirsten Grace Eccles.


Kirsten (“kur-stin”) = Follower of Christ, anointed
Grace = Free and unmerited favor of God
Eccles = English version of the Greek and Latin (ekklesia and ecclesia), meaning church or assembly. (Not that we chose her last name, but still a pretty sweet meaning.)

Her name is our prayer and our thanks. May our daughter be anointed as a follower of Christ by the grace of God. IMG_4957

And now for a few more notes of explanation. For simplicity’s sake, we opted for a variant of the Swedish spelling and pronunciation (Kjiersten) of Kirsten. Given this first name connection to Kevin’s side of the family, it’s fitting that the middle name is in my family’s lineage. My maternal Grandmother’s middle name is Grace. (Hi, Grams!) And some of you may know that one of our dear friends and former youth group member’s name is Kirsten. We thought long and hard about whether or not to choose this exact name (mostly because I don’t like being a “copy cat.”) But in all of our correspondence with Kirsten over the past two years, we have been nothing but convinced that our desire would be to have our daughter live a life much like this young woman’s. She is passionate and unashamed of her commitment to Christ. She is genuine and kind, intellectual and studious. She is proof that “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). So while our daughter is not name after Kirsten L., we would be most pleased if she grows up to live that kind of life.


Dear Daughter of Mine,
As I write this post from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Tim Horton’s, you seem to know I’m talking about you. You are squirming and kicking and bouncing, almost as if you’re excited to say hello to me face to face. I can tell you with every assurance that I am even more eager to meet you. I pray for our journey ahead, those hours where we’ll work together to bring your life into this world. Your dad and I pray consistently that God would anoint you with his grace even now, and that we would be prepared to let you serve him however He calls. It is with great joy that I tell the world of my love for you, Kirsten Grace.

Your mom IMG_4956

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.

IMG_4753 - with Kevin//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsIMG_4740//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js



Baby Girl’s Bedroom

Dear Baby Girl,

We are as prepared as we can be for your arrival. The task lists are completed, and we know that the next step is jumping into parenthood head first, ready or not. Before you join us on the outside, along with the sleepless, glorious, craziness that is sure to accompany you, I thought I’d share a sneak peak into your nursery.

I didn’t really want a “theme” room (elephants or Pooh or princess or whatnot). I just wanted a room that felt like you and me, together. So I chose a portrait as inspiration and went with the bright pink, mint, and burgundy color scheme. It sounds weird, but it works.

This first picture is as you walk in the door. It’s almost impossible for me to figure out how to properly set my camera to take into the bright light, so I apologize for the hazy/hack photo edit job.

IMG_4687 - 2

Curtains: Meijer
Rug: Aldi
Boppy Cover: garage sale find!

IMG_4684 Baby Girl, we hope you love to read as much as we do! You have a fantastic collection of books thanks to the many people who already love you! This shelf is mostly board books; there’s a large shelf in the closet with many more “bigger kid” books.


Under the end table is this cutesy basket filled with all the toys and rattles and cuddly things you received (tags still attached at the moment).


This incredible quilt was made by one of my mom’s longest friends, Peggy. The underside is a cozy flannel, and the quilting is just stunning. (Now I know what quilting is thanks to my friend, Tara.)


The crib an Amazon find, a gift from my grandparents and parents. It was put together by your daddy; I mostly just watched and handed him things as needed. It’s a 3-in-1 convertible bed, so it can become a toddler bed and one day a headboard/footboard for a double bed.


These are just a *few* of the MANY blankets you received. We have loads of muslin swaddle blankets, many hand-crocheted or knitted, and lots luxurious soft throws. There’s also a basket full of velcro swaddles and lots of spit rags (store bought and handmade, of every fabric you can imagine.)


Your changing station is all set up! This picture doesn’t include the cute mint cover we received with an Amazon gift card. The drawers are filled with your littlest outfits, socks, hats, sleepers, and 16 BumGenius all in one cloth diapers.

The prints are online purchases, and the lovely fans match just right – they’re from my Monroe Shower decorations, thanks to Amanda.


A few more decorations from the shower!  The pink afghan on top is one I made for you during General Conference in July.  The adorable owl tack quilt was made by Nancy Liedel from MFMC.


See that set of prints over your bed? That’s from Meijer! It really pulled the colors together nicely.

The bag on the door is my hospital bag, mostly ready with your things and mine. It was a Thirty One purchase, embroidered with “Eccles” on the front, from my mom. It will be a perfect carry-on or overnight bag.


And this print was designed by my good friend and amazing artist, Katrina. Three years ago I purchased some stationary from her Etsy shop and commented on that design, saying I hoped to one day have reason to buy it. She included it in my order as a gift, sending her prayers to cover us. I have saved it all those years and now proudly display it in your nursery, Little One.

For this child I have prayed.

1 Samuel 1:27

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.

2015-11-12 10.43.33

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.

2015-11-12 10.47.34

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

2015-11-12 10.51.08

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

2015-11-10 16.33.26

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!)

2015-11-12 11.06.06

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.

2015-11-13 11.36.28

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


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

The Glory Days

Pregnancy has been a different journey than I could have anticipated. Those first two trimesters were not very enjoyable. I dealt with body image issues, weight gain, nausea, acid reflux, physical limitations, shortness of breath, exhaustion, and finding a whole new wardrobe. I didn’t enjoy any of that. Little Girl wasn’t moving noticeably which meant my mind wasn’t making the connection that all of those changes were due to a growing child in my womb.

*IMG_4395 - with words

Thus, I was surprised and relieved to experience such peace and joy during these first six weeks in the “dreaded” third trimester. I’m certain that my golden days are limited as Baby Girl gains weight rapidly and my “glow” turns into a pleading expression of “please get this child out of me.” But for now I’m relishing this feeling.

What’s changed for you, Mel? you ask?

Feeling Baby Girl moving almost continually is the most glorious experience no one can describe. I’m trying to bottle up these memories of movement, to cherish them in future days. Part of my MyersBriggs personality is “sensing” and I finally understand how strongly I am driven by my five senses. For instance, it is normal and important for me to have the perfectly shaped mug with the perfect temperature of tea, while sitting in the perfect chair, with the perfect amount of light, with the perfect book to accompany me. Sound ridiculous? Maybe it is. But it’s my reality. I say all that as background support for the concept that experiencing my unborn Baby’s movements are intensely important and wonderfully glorious for me, particularly because of my sensory perceptions.

Oddly enough my physical body feels more “like me” than in the previous trimesters. I am eating more like pre-pregnancy Melanie used to eat, desiring healthy salads and fruits, drinking tons of water, enjoying meat, and limiting the breads and dairy. None of this is intentional, it’s just where my body has naturally equilibrated. Having spent most of my first months eating junk food, dairy and breads (after a year or more basically bread-free) I felt really yucky. That perhaps added to the fullness (bloating) in my face and arms that I noticed rather early on. I have had my dream come true at least 5 times in the past week as I’ve heard friends, family, and strangers say, “You can’t even tell she’s pregnant from the back.” Seriously. dream. come. true. I’m so very thankful that my body seems to have figured out how to care for me and my child while maintaining a new normal of health and strength.*IMG_4403 - cropped

For some reason I had crazy flare ups of heartburn, nausea, morning sickness, and vomitting over the past month. Even with my prescription meds I was throwing up from all the heartburn. But that didn’t manage to deter the positive mood I seemed to be carrying. Weird, but I’ll take it.

Another “negative but not really” has been my sleep patterns. First of all, I haven’t needed to get up during the night to use the bathroom at all. And during first and second trimesters it was 2-4 times a night. Strange. I have, however, begun to need less sleep, going to bed later than user, waking up bright eyed a few times during the night, and still getting out of bed as early as 5 or 6am without an alarm. What the…? If this the Lord’s way of preparing my body for caring for my newborn daughter, I’m ok with that.

My husband and I have been enjoying quality date times on a regular basis, which has always been a favorite activity. We’ve been especially thankful for the number of friends who have sent us gifts in the form of gift cards for dates. I know Baby will change things, but we strongly believe in the importance of our dates, even if just for coffee. This theory has been reinforced by many wise people in recent days.

2015-10-28 19.07.26We set up the Baby’s crib together (thanks so much to my parents and grandparents for this gift). We have washed loads of beautiful clothes and blankets and washcloths and bibs and burp rags (from more friends than we can list). I have figured out how to operate the fancy schmancy breast pump (thanks so much, Sara!). The car seat installation has been practiced and it’s ready to go in coming weeks. We’ve kept up on developing an organization and storage system for baby products (thanks to mom for getting me started). I began compiling a hospital bag packing list that will work for me based on a slew of Facebook threads and Pinterest posts. The breast feeding class has been registered for, and Cathy gave us a private tour of the maternity ward at the hospital.

It all feels real and so close. We’re ready to meet this beautiful daughter of ours. And certain that nothing can prepare us for all of the ways she will rock our world. To God be the glory.

Always Aware

My dear, sweet girl,

There is so much about pregnancy that no amount of research or real-talk with friends can prepare you for. I knew you would kick and squirm now and then. I had seen pictures or videos of the baby’s movements in mother’s belly. But I never imagined how incredible your motions would feel inside of me. It’s absolutely indescribable. It’s a holy thing, really. God…creating life…knitting you together…plumping you up…choosing me to keep you safe all these months. 

As your movements get super intense (to the point of you startling me now and then) I wish I could share the experience with others…especially with your dad. No one gets to see your kicks or feel you move or anticipate your turns like I do. But this journey is just for you and me, Little Girl. It’s a beautiful, quiet journey…a sort of sweet loneliness.

And I’ve finally come to a place of acceptance with the physical changes in my body. Things have “balanced” out as you’ve made your presence known to all who look at me. I appear decidedly pregnant and not awkwardly chubby. I like that. And even now God is refining my own self-image, preparing me for what my appearance may or may not be after giving birth. He is teaching me grace. The beauty of freedom and peace and confidence.

So I will carry you with confidence.  I will carry you with joy. 

We have just 8 (ish) weeks left in this intimate setting, Child. A part of me cannot wait for next step – meeting you face to face, holding you in my arms. But the other part of me knows I will never get this opportunity again; this chance of intimacy between you and I; this knowing and feeling of you in my inmost being. So I will cherish the next weeks, for they will certainly go by too quickly. Even as my belly (and ankles) swell with you, Child, as positions get uncomfortable and complaints lengthen…I will remember. I will choose joy. I will be a vessel worthy of carrying you until the Lord says, Now.

All my love,

Your mama


Thirty Week Update

Here we are, Baby Girl, 30 weeks into our mother-daughter relationship. This 7th month has been – by far – my favorite. I have started taking prescription meds for the heartburn which is a medical blessing. I look unquestionably pregnant and don’t yet feel like a blimp. My energy level and emotions have been well-balanced. (Although you might want to ask your dad if that’s an accurate statement or not.)

first day of subbing selfie

Your movements are so frequent and definitive. I love it! I can press my hand to my belly and feel you press back. I can tell which body part is protruding (or I like to think I can). It is the coolest. You seem to be stubborn and/or mysteriously calmed whenever your daddy tries to feel the squirms and kicks. I hope he has that effect on you after birth too. (Please, Lord, let it be so.)

I am feeling more and more prepared and less fearful for the impending labor and delivery. This is mostly thanks to the Lord and to my 4 week Holy Yoga pre-natal instruction class I’m taking right now. Also, the weekly yoga  class I teach has been physically encouraging and helping me stay strong. It’s mentally calming to have many of the ladies tell me how much my trained breathing and focus in yoga will aid in childbirth. I have begun to pray earnestly for the process: that God would be my steadfast focus, and that I would seek his peace. May God keep us both safe, Little Girl, and deliver you strong and healthy into my weary, weepy arms. 

a sweet subbing gift from a sweet friend

Speaking of which, I cannot wait to hold you. And I’m almost more excited for your daddy to wrap his arms around you. It seems a little unfair – these months I get to spend just me and you.

I have been substitute teaching a few days a week. It’s been a healthy distraction from the ticking of time and a good challenge. The students have been wonderful for my self-confidence – telling me how beautiful I am, being excited about the baby, whispering in the hall about how I’m their favorite. Every single class tries to weasel your name out of me. “We don’t even know you! You can tell us!” But I’ve kept our little secret between just your dad and me. I have also been thrilled with my consistent headache-free state in which I return home. That’s a miracle, for real. I love telling stories about the kids or my teaching tactics, and your dad and I often go for a long walk or hit the $1 hour at Arby’s to talk. The only downside to teaching would have to be vomiting in public school restrooms. This morning was a first and I hope it’s the last.

subbing selfie. 30wks 3 days.

We are now to the point of bi-weekly prenatal appointments. It’s become a nicely predictable routine: blood pressure (~114/60), pulse (in the 80s or 90s which is way high for me, but good because hello extra liters of blood), weight (on target), baby’s heart beat (140bpm), belly measurement (right on schedule) and Q&A. All has been wonderfully “textbook” and we are so thankful. Plus we get to hang out with our dear friend and neighbor and worship team member and church board member, Cathy (our CNM), at every single visit. Kinda cool how that works. I think it’s funny to imagine what onlookers think as the three of us banter, as they have no clue how well we know one another.

Come quickly, Little One. (But not really soon. Wait at least 8 weeks.)