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!


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.


(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!


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.”


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.


Until next time…







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.

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.

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.


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?
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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.



Change happens.  All the time.  Whether it’s a positive or negative change, whether you like change or not, it happens.  I always said that “I don’t deal well with change” until just recently, when I realized what I was actually saying and a major mind-shift happened.

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It all started with this new season of our lives…having a school-age child!  I thought I was ready for Abigail to go to school, but in the days leading up to the big day, it became very obvious that I was not okay 😦    She was so excited for her first day and while I said I was excited too, I really was not looking forward to it, because “I don’t deal well with change.”  And this was a big change!

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Two nights before her big day, we went to her restaurant of choice to celebrate this milestone, and thanks to my husband & his words, my mind-shift began that night and continued to reveal itself into the next day.  I had been busy getting things ready for her first day…clothes, shoes, supplies, etc., all the while thinking subconsciously “But what about me?  What about her mama?  Sure, Abigail’s excited about school, but what am I going to do while she’s gone?  Doesn’t anyone care about my sadness and how I’m going to miss her and how I don’t deal well with change?!”  (Yes, it really was as bad of a pity party as it sounds!)

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And here is where the mind-shift began to happen…Yes, it is a change and yes, there is an element of sadness to it and yes, it is okay to shed tears.  But.  What about my child and her excitement/nervousness for this change?  How can I be genuinely excited for her when I can’t see past my own feelings of “poor me”?  Because really, this is not about me.  To think that it is, is quite honestly, kind of selfish of me.  It’s about her and the new friends she will make and the exciting things she will learn this next year.  So, in the words of my husband, “let’s celebrate her and the beautiful milestone that this is in her life!”

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We had a wonderful time of celebration that night and when school started on Monday morning, I was so excited for Abigail and the adventure that she was starting.  And you know what?  She absolutely loves school!  She’s said multiple times, “I love going to school and I love coming home.”  That right there is confirmation to us that she is where she is supposed to be.

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I recognize that I could have handled this change a little better differently.  But I also know that the next time a new season comes, I will be able to handle it better, because this is what I felt the Lord telling me…”You are learning and growing, and you are able to handle change well, because I am walking with you and I am showing you how.”  The best part about experiencing changing circumstances, is that I serve the God who never changes and never will!

This is only the beginning of the many times we will need to let go of our children.  But I know that the same Spirit that is in me, is also in them.  And with all my heart, I choose to trust Him in them and trust that together they will make the choices that will best give Him glory.


California, part 2

So we left San Francisco Saturday night, driving 3.5 hours to Redding.  We were both so tired, but we wanted to make it to our destination so we wouldn’t have a long drive in the morning.  And we made it!  We found a scary motel and fell into bed.

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We actually overslept on Sunday morning, which was no surprise, considering how tired we were.  We went to the early church service at Bethel, arriving halfway through.  After the service, we were honored to talk with Bill & Beni Johnson.  They played a big part in our pregnancy journey with Elana (more on that story at a later time), and it was so rewarding to show them pictures of our miracle baby and thank them in person for their part.  We stayed for the second service too, and were so blessed by the people and their heart for God!

After lunch, finding a new motel, and some much-needed naps, we met some new friends at the coffee shop, and then had a wonderful evening of celebrating people getting baptized.  This was a baptism like I have never seen before…celebrating and honoring and rejoicing with those who were making a public declaration to follow our Jesus!

And those new friends we made?  Well, after the service we enjoyed more fellowship & food with them 🙂  I just love it, because when God puts people together, there is an instant connection of relationships that defy the length of time.  The neat part was that this couple was from our area…we just had to travel to the west coast to meet!

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Monday was a beautiful day, perfect for our plans.  We drove up to Whiskeytown Lake and hiked up to the falls.
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It was absolutely beautiful!  The weather was perfect for hiking, the scenery was gorgeous and the trail not too difficult to make us ache the next day.

Tuesday and Wednesday we sat in on some classes at the Bethel school, relaxed, spent some time at the Prayer House, relaxed, ate amazing food (thanks to a friends recommendations), relaxed, did laundry, relaxed…Can you tell we had a relaxing time together? 🙂

Wednesday afternoon, after school, we joined a friend in her Revival Group.  We had an amazing time of worship and remembering God’s goodness in our past.  Kenton was even able to share briefly of our journey and how God proved Himself faithful.  The leader of the group felt led to pray over Kenton, speaking life and blessing and prophecy over him.  It was so beautiful & God-ordained!  How else can you explain a complete stranger being able to speak into Kenton’s life about a heart-dream, except to give all credit to God?

It was the perfect way to end our time in Redding.  We still are in awe at all that God had planned for us that week and the many ways that proved He is the ultimate Travel Agent.

Thursday morning we headed south, taking the scenic route to Napa and the Valley.  Beautiful, beautiful country!  We wound our way through the mountains, stopping often to take pictures and stand in awe at God’s handiwork.  I especially, was thankful for the open windows and fresh air…it helped ease the rolling of my stomach as we rode the ups & downs & arounds of the mountains!
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The vineyards were empty of any fruit, but it was still beautiful and I can only imagine how that beauty is multiplied when the vines are lush with fresh grapes.
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We wound our way over to Sonoma (where we stopped for a picnic lunch), up through Santa Rosa, and on to Guerneville.  We stopped at the Armstrong Redwoods State Park and walked through the forest for a bit, marveling again at the what God created.  Our plan was to spend the night in Guerneville, but someone (uh,me.) wanted to keep driving, thinking that surely there would be towns along the coast and we could find a motel for the night.
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So we kept driving.  We found no motels, but we did find a most gorgeous west coast!  “Beautifully rugged” are the words that come to mind.
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We ended up driving down to San Francisco that night yet, and woke up on Friday with two goals for the day: walk the Golden Gate Bridge & get on an airplane.

We parked as close as could to the bridge, but still walked more than a mile to get to the bridge.  We weren’t rushed for time, so we were able to enjoy the scenery and San Francisco for one last time.
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We are on the bridge!
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We knew the Golden Gate Bridge was big, but when we got up close and personal, we realized just how BIG it really is!
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We ended our time in San Francisco with another great meal and some Peet’s Coffee.
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We made it to the airport with hours to spare and then we jetted across the country,  reuniting with our girlies the next day.  The trip was so much more and did so much more for us than I could ever explain, even in person.  We were so blessed on this trip and will forever carry the memory of it and all that God did, in our hearts.



…how to better mother & love on my two precious girls.
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…to take her up on her volunteering to mop the floor (she did an amazing job!).
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…that the memories of eating cookie dough are more important than worrying about the tiny bit of raw egg she would consume (because really, what is a childhood without experiencing cookie dough?!).
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…to see and feel God in all of creation & in every moment of every day; to recognize my completion in Him & allow myself to grow into that complete person.
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So that’s what I’m learning these days.  That, and how much I can fit in one carry-on bag for a week-long trip!  Yay! to spending time away with my man!

Still learning,


Where I grew up we had four seasons…winter, spring, summer, and fall; here in the south we have two seasons…hot, muggy summer and paradise 🙂  I have a dear friend who has shown me how life itself gives us many seasons…growing up, going to school, living at home, being on your own, singleness, dating, marriage…some seasons are for many years, some for only a short time. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 confirms this: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

  • be born – die
  • plant – uproot
  • kill – heal
  • tear down – build up
  • weep – laugh
  • mourn – dance
  • scatter stones – gather them up
  • embrace – refrain from embracing
  • search – give up
  • keep – throw away
  • tear – mind
  • silent – speak
  • love – hate
  • war – peace

I’m learning to enjoy the different seasons as they come into my life.  Sometimes that’s the hardest part…embracing and accepting whatever season that I am currently in.  This season of bed rest has been a combination of accepting and rejecting.  Accepting, because I want to do what’s best for baby girl & if that means lying down for weeks on end, then I will do that.  But rejecting, because I know that this is not how God designed a pregnancy to go and so praying and contending for a beautiful miracle of healing.

This season of bed rest holds another season inside of it…a season of “letting go”.  Letting go of a normal way of life and embracing a new normal.  Letting go of independence and depending on other people’s help.  Letting go of doing things my way and allowing my husband to do things his way (and he is doing an amazing job!).  Letting go of being there for every activity with Abigail and allowing other Godly women to step in and fill the void.  Letting go of looking nice when people stop in and being okay with constantly having a “bed head” (who knew that it’d be so hard to have nice-looking hair when you’re lying down 24/7? :). Letting go of pouring into a life and allowing others to pour into your own.  Letting go of giving to others and allowing yourself to receive.  Letting go of perfection and allowing God to work out the imperfect.  Letting go of the joy of allowing the public to see my “pregnant belly” and being content with knowing that God knows I love carrying life and I don’t have to show it off in order for Him to receive glory.

There have been numerous things I wanted to do this summer with Abigail and also as a family, but I haven’t been able to.  I’m slowly learning to be okay with that.  I can’t be and do everything I want to right now…All the things that “they” say a good wife/mother should do?  I can’t do a single one of them.

But that really doesn’t matter, because who I am, is not based on what I do.  God does not see what I do and love me for that; He loves me simply because He made me.  I am special and precious and worthy of the life of His Son, because He formed me and gave me life.

So what I can do, is much more valuable than any physical thing I could ever do for my family.  I can spend hours praying for them, bringing them and their needs to our Daddy who loves them even more than I do.  I have plenty of time to read my Bible, so when my husband comes home from a long day at work, I have a word from God to share with him & encourage him. I can cultivate a spirit of praise, and worship…an atmosphere of peace and joy and thankfulness in this house.

Right now, that is absolutely the best way I can help out.  And I’m still learning how to do it well.  I don’t want to look back on this season and wish I had done better, that I had spent more time praising and less time pouting.  Yes, I have had my times of pouting.  But bed rest is so much easier when I’m praising God and being thankful for all the ways He has blessed us & provided for us!

There will come a time when I will be back on my feet and I will be able to fill the God-given role of managing my home and taking care of my family.  I can’t wait to be able to do that 🙂  Until that season comes, I will care for them from my couch and I will do it with joy!