Christmas at our House

This year, for the first time in 10 years of being married, we had an “at home” Christmas.  We have always spent Christmas with either my family or Kenton’s, and about half of those Christmases we would be traveling to our destination.  So this year it was nice to not be traveling anywhere and being at home gave us a chance to start some traditions as our own family.

On Christmas Eve we went to a friend’s home for lunch and had a wonderful time with them and some of their friends.  The food was delicious, the company sweet and everyone had a great time.

That evening, Kenton pulled our mattress into the living room and we let the girls stay up way past their bedtime, enjoying lots of quality time and watching Christmas movie after Christmas movie.  I’m pretty sure that was the beginning of a fun Christmas Eve tradition.  The girls had the best time, and loved having everyone sleeping out in the living room together.

img_20161224_191929822img_20161224_232652607

Christmas morning was filled with the sounds of paper tearing, screams of excitement, and many giggles as gifts were opened and new toys were played with.  I even got to play with my new “toy”, a Kitchen Aid hand mixer, when I made some yummy waffles for our brunch.

And that’s where our traditional Christmas day ended.  Because that afternoon we broke all the traditional Christmas “rules”.  This happened…

img_20161226_094902274

…the beginning of our bathroom/closet renovation!  Our master bath & closet were about the same size, so we are moving the wall into our closet almost 2 feet.  So yes, we will have a smaller closet, but we will definitely enjoy having a larger bathroom!  This means we will have a large, walk-in shower and a vanity/sink almost 2 times what we’ve been using.  Besides, I’ve been meaning to go more minimalist on my wardrobe, so having a smaller closet shouldn’t be an issue 😉

img_20161225_190322998

This little guy thinks that wearing Daddy’s beanie and “helping” him with the renovations is just the best thing ever!

So that was our Christmas.  How was yours?  Did you make any new traditions this year?  Were you with extended family or was your day a little quieter than usual, too?

Now I’m off to do some organizing/cleaning of this house and turn it from pure chaos into organized chaos 🙂  Y’all enjoy your evening!

–sherri

Advertisements

Elana’s Story, Part 2

So, picking up where I left off… I was 37 weeks pregnant and had just been released from 15 weeks of bed rest.  (Feel free to go here if you missed the first part).

Those last few weeks of pregnancy were so wonderful!  I felt like a new person and it was so good to be able to go out with Kenton & Abigail. After being inside for the past 4 months, getting outside for fresh air and exercise felt like such a gift!

img_20130922_183227

We were still declaring that I would carry Elana past my due date, to October 7.  My doctor, though amazed that I had carried the baby this far, was still very skeptical that I would even get to my due date.  My last appointment was on October 2nd and at this point I was 5 centimeters dilated, but still having no contractions.  She gave me detailed and strict instructions of what to do if I felt even a hint of labor.  Her fear was that I would have this baby in the car, and she did NOT want that to happen!  Just for the record, we didn’t want that to happen either 😉

Sunday came, and from the moment I woke up, I knew something was different.  I still wasn’t having contractions, but my body just felt different.  We had a restful day at home, took Abigail to the grandparents for the night, and enjoyed frozen yogurt with some friends.

After we got home that evening, I took a nap on the couch and when I woke up at 11:00 I felt cramping in my lower back.  I knew immediately that it was time to go to the hospital and it was on the way there that my contractions started coming every 2-3 minutes.  Thankfully, the hospital was only 10 minutes away and traffic was light, but we still didn’t waste any time getting there!

Up to this point, I was able to talk through the contractions.  While we were finding a place to park I had my first hard, can’t-talk-through-it contraction.  They put me in a wheelchair and we finally made it to the labor/delivery floor.  While signing in at the registration desk, the head nurse came over.  She observed me having a contraction and immediately suggested I do the paperwork later and just get into a bed.  I am so thankful for her timing and insight, because if not for her, Elana would probably have been born in the hallway of the labor/delivery unit!!

They put me in a bed and wrapped the baby monitor around me.  I was still talking and laughing with Kenton and the nurses and everything was fairly calm.  Kenton was amazing and was constantly by my side. He was praying in my ear, holding my hand, and talking me through each contraction.  I had been praying and believing for a supernatural birth. I wanted a labor with no pain.  I did experience one contraction where all I felt was the tension of my muscles, and there was no pain involved.  I remember telling Kenton to keep praying, because it was working!

All of that calm changed in an instant, when the nurse checked me.  Her next words were “Baby’s head is right here!” and immediately there were 8-10 more people in the room moving as fast as they possibly could!  I remember hearing people say that there was no doctor available and that I shouldn’t push yet.  By this time, my body was pushing on its own and there was nothing I could do about it!  At one point, a nurse shoved her finger in my face and said “my finger is a candle and you need to blow it out!  Just don’t push yet!!” It’s funny now, but at the time all I could think was “I’m not pushing!  And why is your finger in my face?!”

But my body and this baby girl were not listening to any of the nurses and she was coming whether a doctor was there or not!  Thankfully, the on-call doctor walked into the room at the perfect time and was able to pull his gloves on just in time to catch Elana.  I pushed one time and then, finally, I could hold this precious miracle in my arms!

Elana Raine, born on October 6, at 11:51 p.m.

img_20131007_060505

(Yes, my entire labor was less than one hour, with my official time on the monitors being a grand 8 minutes!  Even as I’m writing this, reliving it, I still find it hard to believe that all of that took place in 51 minutes.)

While we were still in the delivery room, Abigail was able to come and meet her new sister.  She was thrilled to finally get to hold her!  All of it felt so surreal!

img_20131007_105901

We were so grateful to God for allowing me to carry Elana to full term, and even past my due date!  We did wonder why she was 9 minutes “early” and why she couldn’t have waited just a bit longer to make it to the 7th like we believed for.  Well, we had our answer five months later.  That March, we celebrated our 8th anniversary in California.  (For details on that trip, read Part 1 & Part 2.)  We were able to attend a service at Bethel church, where we again had the chance to talk to Bill and Beni Johnson.  We briefly told them about the prayer time, the pregnancy, and the birth date.  Bill said “Well, that’s perfect.  When we pray over couples to become pregnant, our desire is to see that fulfilled within a year.”  So no, Elana wasn’t born 9 minutes “too early”.  She was born with 9 minutes to spare in that time frame of “within a year.”

img_20131009_115325

Her story, from the beginning to now, has been so amazing and God-filled!  I’ve heard people say that babies who’s lives were in danger in the womb have a strength and spunk that most other children don’t have.  They had to fight for their lives and that is reflected in their personalities.  That is so true for Elana!  She has a fire and a spunk in her that sometimes makes me want to cry one minute and laugh the next.  But as fiery and determined as she is, she is also just as cuddly and sweet.  We feel so honored and blessed to be the ones to raise her and we’re excited to be on the front lines of seeing how God will lead and use her.

img_20161031_110345283

Until next time…

–Sherri

 

 

 

 

Date Night

You know all those people who say that the best thing you can do for your marriage is to date your spouse?  It’s true.  Do it!!

img_20161022_154254744

It had been a looooong time since we’d had a date.  But on Saturday, thanks to a sweet friend offering to watch the kiddos, we had ourselves a few “you & me” hours.  And since Kenton wanted to get in some flying hours, what better way to spend those hours than in the air?  We flew up to Bowling Green, KY, ate amazing food at Montana Grille, and then flew home to the backdrop of a beautiful sunset.

download_20161023_205054

And it was so.much.fun!  Nothing spectacular happened (besides the fact that my husband flew us to our destination) ;), we didn’t make any life-changing decisions and we didn’t talk about anything groundbreaking.  We just had normal conversation, held hands, laughed, and enjoyed being together.  In my opinion, that is the best kind of date.

download_20161022_215746

So take the time.  Make the time!  And go enjoy some one-on-one with your significant other.  You’ll be glad you did!

–Sherri

 

The Birthday Girl’s Story, Part 1

This sweet child turned 3 last week:img_20161006_063201465

She had talked for weeks before about this birthday & her excitement just bubbled over.  She loved to tell people that “I am 2, but I’m turning 3 and I’m getting bigger!”  She answers to Elana, Ellie, Ellie-muffin, sweet pea & baby girl (to name a few).  But this girl…she is feisty, sweet, determined, energetic, her Daddy & big sister are her heroes, and ballet is her new found love.

A little back story first…our oldest, Abigail, was born in November 2008.  July 2009, I got pregnant again, this time with a boy.  New Year’s Eve, at 25 weeks gestation, I went into preterm labor.  The doctors were unable to stop it & our son, Brady, was born.  He lived for less than an hour (I’ll go into more detail when I post about his birthday celebrations).  After his death, we had about 2 1/2 years of not being able to get pregnant.

And now here is Elana’s story:

Her story begins with a change in Kenton’s heart, a desire to have a real relationship with God and not just know about Him, but really know Him.  The Lord answered in an unexpected way and the year 2012 was a year of amazing & beautiful growth for Kenton & myself.  Through out that year we learned the truth that God is good All.the.time.  We saw the importance of giving thanks and praising and we watched how it changed our hearts so beautifully!

On October 7, a group of ladies, led by Bill Johnson, prayed healing & fertility over me.  It was amazing & faith growing for me to experience the love & faith of people that I had never met before, yet they all believed with me that God wanted me to be pregnant and have more babies.

Three months went by…three months of learning and trusting and praising.  I’ll never forget that day in January 2013 when I saw that positive pregnancy test…tears & awe & laughter!  It was so much fun to tell our family & friends…these were people who had walked with us in our journey of grief & pain and knew just how much this pregnancy meant to us.

img_20130704_071519
At 27 weeks.

My doctor had suspicions that Brady was born early because my cervix was weak.  We agreed to do extra ultrasounds to visually see if anything was going wrong.  We found out at 19 weeks, that I was carrying a girl and everyone was ecstatic!  Abigail especially, was so excited!  As soon as I told her I was pregnant, she had said that the baby was a girl.  She was right & completely thrilled to be having a sister!

At 21 weeks, I went in for an ultrasound and we saw that my cervix was thinning, and it was half as thick as what it should have been.  According to my doctor, a normal cervix should be 5 cm thick and mine was 2.5cm.  I was put on moderate bed rest and told to come in the following week.  That next ultrasound showed that it had thinned even more, now down to 2 cm.  I was sent to the hospital to see if I was contracting.  Thankfully, I wasn’t.  The doctor that was in charge there, called me a “ticking time bomb” and basically said that he is sending me home, but I should prepare myself to have this baby soon.  So I was put on strict bed rest…I could get up to go to the bathroom and shower, but the rest of the time I was to be laying flat.

At this point, we began declaring that I would carry this baby to full term and would even go past my due date of October 5, and have this baby on October 7.  This day would be exactly one year since I had been prayed for.

So for 15 weeks, I lay on the couch and allowed others to care for my family.  And it was amazing!  Our friends from church came around us (literally & figuratively) and helped in so many ways…meals, cleaning, laundry, helping with Abigail, taking me to Doctor visits, prayers, words of encouragement, and just being there.  I’ve been asked the question “Didn’t you go crazy laying on the couch for that long?!”  Surprisingly, no.  I read, prayed and journaled for hours. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that God’s grace was all over me that summer & He was the One who carried me & our family.  It was amazing, hard and beautiful all at the same time.  But even in the middle of it all…when it looked impossible for me to carry this baby to full term, when we could feel the fear from the doctors, when our own fears & doubts threatened to overwhelm us…we could feel God with us, and those God-moments are what carried us through.

img_20130809_184722Celebrating my 30th birthday!

I’ve heard recently that ‘hard is not always bad.’  That describes my pregnancy perfectly!  It was hard, but it was also amazing and it was a time of deep growth for myself personally, and also us as a family.

My cervix kept thinning, I stayed on the couch, and then, finally, I made it to full term, 37 weeks!  The ultrasound technician, my doctor, the nurses…they were all so excited to see me at full term & still carrying this baby!  At this point, since Elana was full term & would do fine if she was born, I was able to come off of bed rest.  It was such a good feeling to be up and getting ready for this miracle baby to be born.

img_20130919_130526
I was up & driving myself to a doctor appointment!

When I started writing this, I soon realized that I’m going to have to do 2 parts.  Her story is just that big!  So this is the end of Part 1, and I’ll be back soon for Part 2.

–Sherri

Hello!

Y’all.  May 2015 was my last post.  Wow!  A lot of life, love, laughter and a few tears have happened since then.  The temptation to do a big post and catch you all up on our lives is hovering in my head, but that would probably be the longest post EVER.  So my plan is to just jump right in as though I never left and hopefully be able to fill in the gaps as I go.  Sound good?  I thought so, too 😉

#88 128

October starts the birthday season for the kids…2 in October, 1 in November & then the memory celebration of our heavenly baby in December.  Because I love them so much & because I want to have it documented, I’ll be writing out their birth stories as we celebrate their lives.  So that will be on here soon.

But for now, let me just tell you how amazing & wonderful it is to be in a state where there is Fall!  I am loving this cooler weather & would seriously be okay with it if it was like this year round!  And because I’m loving this season so much, I’ll leave you with this quote from LM Montgomery, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Be back soon!  –sherri

Here’s the latest…

Well, things have certainly changed in our lives since I last posted! And I will gladly use that as the reason for my lack of keeping y’all updated 🙂

So, here’s the short version: My husband got a new job, we moved to Tennessee and I’m pregnant!

For my detail-loving friends, here is the long version:
It all started when we as a family took a quick trip to Pennsylvania at the end of January for the funeral of my Grandma.  She was a wonderful Grandma, full of spunk and life and love.  The weekend was packed full of family, old friends, food, laughter and tears. It also included a conversation that has changed our lives.               #96 015#96 025

#96 033

This conversation that took place was between Kenton and a business owner.  During the course of conversation this was said: “We have this new purchasing position we just created in our business. What would you think about moving to Tennessee and filling that position?”
#97 003

What followed next felt like an amazing whirlwind of conversations and phone calls and decisions and “Are we really doing this?”  And then came the e-mail that said “You have the job if you want it.”  We were so aware of God walking with us through this whole process…His peace, good nights of sleep, words of encouragement and confirmation.  There was also the fact that our house sold in less than 48 hours! #97 030 And then when we moved, we had literally the exact amount of cardboard boxes and we were able to rent a moving truck for 1/3 the price we had budgeted!  All of this and more, have been so good to remind ourselves of when we begin to wonder if we’re doing the right thing.#97 116 #98 057

So Kenton did his week of training and is enjoying getting settled into his new position at the company.  He is so excited about working for Wood-Tex Products and being part of this wonderful team!  And the really neat part?  They’re family!  It was my uncle that started the company and now his 2 sons have grown it to what it is today.#98 095

And the pregnancy?  Well, 3 days after that life-changing e-mail, we found out the family-growing news that I am pregnant!  A friend said “Moving while pregnant is not for the faint of heart!”  And I definitely agree.  But I took naps and went slowly and thankfully, had some help with packing.  I am currently 17 weeks along and feeling really well!  Naps are still a very close friend 🙂 #98 1302

So, that’s the latest in this journey the Lord has us on.  I am increasingly aware of the truth of this blog’s name…He really is “with me always” and we are so grateful and in awe of His presence.

Blessings!  –sherri

It starts with me.

  Growing up, I often heard my parents say that there will always be someone watching me, and there will always be someone who is looking to see how I do something or listening to what I say so they can do/say it the way I do.  I never liked  hearing that, mostly because I didn’t want to accept that responsibility.  As I got older though, I began to realize the truth of that statement.  We all have influence, good or bad, whether we want that responsibility or not.  So now, enter in the fact that I have been blessed with two beautiful girls.  And what do they do?  They observe my every move and hear my every word.  Not only that, but they also copy my actions and my words!

There is something I’ve been learning on a deeper level the past few years…attitude is everything!  All of life is made up of choices…some are made for us, some we make.  But always, always, we get to choose our attitude.  What we choose, consciously or subconsciously, can make all the difference in a day, a year, a lifetime!  How?  Because what we set our focus on, is what sets our days and therefore our life.#94 004

If you choose to focus on the negative, then that is what you will see…the dark clouds, the sun that is too bright, the slow person in front of you on the drive to work, the child getting distracted from their responsibility, or the husband leaving his clothes draped on the chair.  But if you choose to focus on the positive?  Then you get to notice the sunbeams shining from behind the dark cloud, the fluffy clouds on a sunny day, the happy person singing along with the radio, the child whose imagination has her doing dishes in the Queen’s castle and the husband who remembered not to drop his clothes on the floor.

Anyone, believer or unbeliever, can choose to change the way they look at life.  Just a twist in the way you view your life and your circumstances can change things drastically!  The difference for those who live in the power of Holy Spirit, is when you choose to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, it is multiplied exponentially and an unexplained joy and peace will flow from you that is only because of Him.#94 012

So a few weeks ago as I was thinking about this, I began to realize just how much of what my girls are going to learn in life, starts with me.  Whether it’s baking/cooking, decorating, loving their Daddy, making good choices, showing hospitality, having a joyful attitude, serving others, living for God…it starts with me.  Why?  Because it’s me that they see in the day-to-day of life.  So if I want to teach my girls what being filled with Holy Spirit looks like, if I want to teach them anything, it starts with me.  It starts with me spending time in His presence so I know how to be the person that God sees me as.  It starts with me making good choices so they have a model to follow.

At this point in life, I am the one they see doing these things…I am their model of what a mother and housewife/manager of domestic affairs/home manager looks like.  I am their model of how a wife shows love & respect to her husband, and who models how a woman should be treated.  Even now, with the holiday season having just ended, I get to model how to enjoy the season without stressing out, or eat the yummy goodies while still exercising self-control or how to laugh when the baby just destroyed the plate of cookies meant for a neighbor.  I am their model of what Jesus looks like.  And when I am acting out my negative emotions?  It means I have a chance to show them how to stop acting that way and choose to act out of the love and joy that is in me, because of Who is in me.#94 0482

I’ve heard it said that the mother sets the tone of the house…”If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”  Right?  And I’ve found that to be so true!  I’m usually very quick to want to take the credit for happy children and a peaceful atmosphere.  But honestly?  When there are tears and whining and grumpiness?  Well, then it’s not because of me and my impatience or attitude, but it’s because the baby needs a nap or someone’s hungry or…you get the picture.

If I want to teach my girls that they are in control of their attitudes and feelings, who better than me to show them?  Who else is going to teach them that it’s okay to take a “mommy time-out” so I can set my mind right and then speak to them in love?  Who else is going to show them that in the business of homework and supper preparation, we can stop and  dance to a song and reset the mood in the house?
#94 045

This responsibility could be heavy at times, but it’s not.  Why?  Because I’m not doing this alone.  Yes, I have my husband and he is amazing and I am so blessed with how he helps me when I need it.  This job, this responsibility, would be overwhelming and so heavy without my Jesus!  He is the One whose presence I need so I have strength for this awesome responsibility of raising my girls.  He reminds me to stop and think before I speak.  He gives me peace in a crazy situation.  He gives me patience when I want to hurry them up.  He helps me laugh when I want to cry.

It is because of Him and only with His help, that I can accept the responsibility and do my best at being wife and mommy.  It is because of Him that I can choose to live life with joy and love.  And it all starts with me recognizing that He is my everything and with Him I can do anything…It starts with me.

Blessings!
–sherri