My Favorite, Non-Fancy Coffee

It’s an understatement, I know, but I really enjoy coffee. I love everything about it … the warmth, smell, and the taste. For me, I especially drink coffee because it’s what my family has always done and I love partaking in the same special routine I grew up doing and know my parents and siblings are probably doing at the same moment I am. We start in the morning with a few good cups before the day starts, enjoy an afternoon tea cup of joe, and then end the evening with one more cup while we visit or watch our favorite shows. It has always been this way and I love knowing that it’s something that, no matter the timezone or differing locations, we keep doing.

As much as I love coffee I love that I’m not that big of a coffee snob. Unless I’m at a coffee shop (when I’ll get a vanilla latte) I like my coffee fresh, hot, and black. Pretty simple, right? 😉

My current favorites are 8 O’Clocks original mild flavor and Starbuck’s Cinnamon Dolce. YUM. There’s nothing better than starting out the day with my Keurig humming in the background as I quietly open the blinds (so not wake Uriah) or brew a second cup when he and I sit down for a diaper change and reading books. 🙂

What is your favorite coffee or tea? Do you consider yourself a coffee snob or are you pretty easy going in the joe department? Comment below — I love to hear your thoughts! 

With love, blessings, and OF COURSE coffee,

Frannie

Catching Up with You // Day 179 in the NICU

Keeping in touch @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Hello, sweet people. Ages have past since the last real update on Uriah; in fact, the last time I shared about our little guy’s progress he was only 3 1/2 months old. Now, he is two days away from 6 months. Let me share with you some of the amazing, hard, wonderful things we’ve been through over the last 5 months!

We have been in the NICU a total of 179 days. We’ve seen our little guy go through SO much and have been amazed by the goodness of God in his life.

Uriah has finally gotten used to his trach. The tracheotomy felt like a last resort but it has ended up being one of the best decisions we could have made. Now that he is no longer on the ventilator and breathing tube Uriah has so much freedom! I’m able to pick him up, play with him, do tummy time and roll around on the floor.

Speaking of tummy time, Uriah loves it! He loves to hold his head up on his own and is beginning to roll over! (Which is a lot for someone with a head in the 99th percentile!) 😀 He loves to stroke his hair, suck on his hands, and especially likes to bang his toys as hard as he can.

He’s begun teething and drools without end. The sad thing about having a trach is that it can keep you from using your voice; the doctors had told me not to expect to hear when Uriah cries, coos, or laughs. And while I cannot hear him in those traditional ways I was surprised and thrilled when he began making sounds around his trach. It’s a lot of gurgling breathing sounds but I’m positive he makes most of the noises on purpose — after all, he wants to talk and knows this is the only way he can! This morning I mimicked his gurgles and he got the funniest look on his face … I guess I was speaking his language!

Right now, we are hoping to go home in 6 to 8 weeks. Uriah has still not gotten to eat by mouth because it was discovered that his TE Fistula had reconnected and there was a small leak from his esophagus into his trachea and lungs. He has had two small procedures where they cauterize and place glue over the connection hoping that this will seal up the leak.

Hopefully, he will have a Swallow Study done next week and, if there is no leak, we can begin the process of eating! For a baby who is 6 months old and has never been able to eat by mouth this will be a ginormous task. But, we believe God is incredibly good and kind and that His ultimate will is best. Instead of being anxious over this step we’re finding ways to be thankful that we have even gotten this far!

This is a fun stage to be entering. As we think about going home in the next two months I’ve begun talking with private nursing agencies and had an inspector come to our home to ensure it would meet Uriah’s equipment needs. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed when I think about how different life will be — nighttime nurses in our home, carrying an “army’s worth” of supplies when we leave the home (or even move to a different room), and calling the electric company to put us on the “priority list” in case of a power outage are just a few things to consider.

But then I watch my baby boy play. This is a living, thriving, happy baby who was given so little hope in the beginning. This is the baby who watches me walk around his bed even though we were told he was blind. This is the baby who loves to listen to music even though we were told he was likely deaf. And this is the miracle who is thriving even though we were told there was too much damage to even try the necessary procedure. Being Uriah’s mom is a role I absolutely love and it is sweet.

Please keep lifting our family up in prayers as we near the finish of our NICU season. Some specific requests are:

  • For Uriah’s Swallow Study to be successful and the TE Fistula repaired so that we can begin eating by mouth
  • For Uriah to have the drive and want to to eat by mouth
  • For his current case of tracheitis (bacteria in his trach) to be controlled and subdued
  • For his little, upcoming teeth 🙂
  • For Dalton and I to have renewed joy and strength … I’ll tell ya, being separated most of the week for several months is not fun, not easy, and not enjoyable! But, I have to brag on Dalton! Every week, he finds ways to bless and encourage me. He is always finding ways to bring me refreshment even though he is the one working and alone all week. Thank You, Lord God, for giving me such a man!
  • For God’s will concerning private nursing. We are required to have someone awake with Uriah at all times because of his trach so we are applying for night nursing to help as we can’t be awake all the time and live normal, healthy, thriving lives.

And most importantly, thank you for all the love and prayers you have given us. There are days when I still can’t believe I’m not at home … it feels almost surreal to be away from home this long. But you have made this time not only bearable but time to enjoy, grow, and be blessed in. We thank God for you!

With love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie 

Small, Beautiful Dreams

AuthenticVirtue.com

We’ve had a long season waiting out fall and winter. The last 6 months have been full of unknowns, fearful nights, and anxious possibilities; I almost feel like we’ve been soldiers, working through the hard days, with our backs to the plow. Simple joys have become sweeter than ever — cozy nights and early mornings with coffee in our own home are rare treasures.

I’m also four months postpartum and I think hormones are beginning to fluctuate into a new normal; my mind is less foggy and my body is feeling better than ever. I’m so thankful for the springtime that is outside and within my heart.

I was browsing Pinterest looking for spring-time decor ideas I could use for our home when it hit me … I’m dreaming again. I’m dreaming of being home with our family (#DuncanPartyOfThree). I dream of planting flowers on the porch with Uriah in a swing beside me. My mind’s eye plays over our upcoming nights — how fun it will be to welcome Dalton home and finish dinner while he plays with our darling son. I’m dreaming of resuming weekly coffee visits with my dear coffee-loving friend while Uriah plays or naps. I ache to snuggle with my family on the couch and read, talk, and play together. To make dinners in my creamy yellow kitchen with a baby in the house and a husband who loves to come home to us every day.

There’s something so refreshing and good about dreams. I used to think that dreams needed to be big and spiritual or else they were not worthy. But these last 6 months have taught me that even the smallest dreams, done with joy and love and for the Lord, are absolutely what we need in our homes and lives. We need mothers who dream of serving their families with love. We need men who desire to work hard for their families and yearn even more for times together. It’s okay to dream about planting gardens, keeping home, and visiting with friends and reaching out to community. These hopes are small but they’re life-giving.

The beautiful thing? I remember writing a post about dreams in 2011 (I was 21 and had yet to meet Dalton). In almost every way, God has met those dreams I shared. Isn’t that beautiful? To think that I have been so blessed renews my heart with so much praise. Thank You, God, for knowing and caring for your people so well!

So, here’s to dreaming. Here’s to waiting for better days and looking forward to living life fully with those around us. Tell me … what are you dreaming about these days? Are they large and glamorous? Or quiet and gentle? I would love to hear from you! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

How Will You Inspire Your Year?

What word will power you through 2017?

There’s something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they will take you. – Miss Potter

There is something delicious about new things. New books, new houses, new clothes — they all carry an innate specialness. Even more importantly, new years are something to be look forward to.

It’s time for me to begin planning for the year ahead. Last year I really benefited from choosing a word and making it the theme of the year. 2016 was the year I chose delight.

This year, my theme for 2017 is the word season.

I’m in a time of life where I need to remember our lives are made up of seasons. In the last 135 days I’ve been home twice. My sweet 2 month old is in the NICU and some days I forget that real life is lived outside hospital walls. It’s important for me to remember that this is only a season of life; a short paragraph in our story.

The beautiful thing about seasons is that they are each unique and require different attitudes and actions from us. During spring we prepare gardens, clean homes, and refresh closets while summer days find us sweating in the sun; autumn is full of harvest and winter rest, lit fires, and warm blankets.

Our live’s seasons are also unique and require different attitudes and actions. I don’t want to waste these days dreaming of our homecoming or dreading the hours spent in the hospital. I want this season of life to count for something.

So, what does this mean practically?

I want to find ways to make the most of our time in the NICU.

I want to pursue my husband and marriage even while this season of life has us apart most of the week. I also want to find courage and creativity in seasoning our marriage with more romance and encouraging other women to do the same. (You know, spice things up?) 😉

I want to find creative ways to tell our story and God’s goodness throughout this entire season.

I want to invest in people.

I want to organize and declutter our home now so that when Uriah comes home I can focus (more easily) on him than on the stuff around me.

I want to get to know my Lord better during this season of whispered prayers, exhaustion, stress, and rough introduction to motherhood.

I want to sow now, so that later I may reap a good harvest. 

What’s your theme for 2017? Do you make resolutions or are you a word sort of person? Are you as surprised by February’s arrival as I am? 🙂 Share your thoughts below!

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Scriptures for the High-Risk Pregnancy

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Across my medieval hospital desk I have index cards with various Scriptures written across them. I intended these to be read to me while I labored and birthed Uriah in our cozy home, with Dalton next to me, and a trusty midwife helping us along.

Now, the verses bring comfort in another way. My water has been ruptured for 19 days now and this is our 18th in the hospital (with 8 weeks to go, Lord willing!). There have been days when these verses were constantly being browsed over; during the first week especially I needed reminders of God’s goodness, control, and love.

Below are 5 verses which seem to always be finding their way from the plastic, gray drawer and across the fake wooden top of the desk. These are the top 5 verses I have found comfort in during our high-risk pregnancy.

“Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defense.” Psalm 59:9

I love this verse; the whole chapter is of David spilling out his woes, fears, and impressions of his enemies, yet, in the end he determines that he will wait on God because He is his defense. Realistically, I don’t have enemies; I’m not being hunted by villains or persecuted by crooked family. But I do have enemies of the heart: fear, doubt, and faithlessness constantly harassing me. Simple, ordinary fears pummel high-risk pregnancy (fear of labor, fear of the unknown medical questions, fear of the worst case scenario). Because the strength of my enemies I will wait on You, LORD God, because You are my defense and so much stronger than the strongest foe I face. 

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I know that 10 weeks of bed rest is the perfect time to bond with my little, rest, and prepare for the upcoming labor and life to follow. But it is so easy to let the days be consumed with the spirit of fear! I love that God has not only not given us fear but He has given us power, love, and a sound, controlled mind. As Christians, we can literally say to our mental minds, “Is this thought powered by fear? Because, if so, it is not of God and it no longer needs my attention.” We can confidently enjoy God’s gifts of power, love, and a sound mind; we don’t need to be a doormat to fear-filled thoughts.

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.” Genesis 4:1 

I love this verse because it is simply so simple. The very first birth of the entire world was followed by words spoken by a woman who had never before experienced labor, never talked with a doctor, and never even heard the term “breech position.”

And at the end of her experience she said simply, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” By His kindness, by His great creativeness, by His power, and by His help, she received a man-child.

And guess what, sweet, preggo person? So have you. It’s the very same Lord Who walked with Adam and Eve, Who gave them a child, and Who helped her through labor that is giving you your child.

During my high-risk bed rest, labor and pain, and all the unknown days ahead I want to remember, “I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.”

“I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth will show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the LORD God: I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. ” Psalm 71:14, 16

This has been one of my go-to verses from the moment we discovered Uriah may have health issues. And once I was admitted to the hospital for an early membrane rupture I again turned to this verse (I was actually repeating it to myself as we drove to the hospital).

Why? Because it gives me purpose. I will hope continually (as in I will keep on hoping when hope seems ridiculous). I will praise You more and more (because You Lord are worthy of praise even in what looks like our tragedy). I will speak of Your righteousness and salvation all day (because these are the only things worth speaking of and there are people in this hospital Who need to know you and the numbers of them are unknowable!). I will go (to bed when I feel restless, to the ultrasound when I don’t want to hear bad news, to get another heparin shot …) in the strength of the LORD. I will make mention of Your righteousness only (because it is this righteousness which makes our lives worth living).

See how deep, how real, and how applicable these words are? They’re life-giving and doable and beautiful.

“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” Psalm 25:10

Finally, a last reminder of God’s amazing purpose and kindness in our perfectly imperfect pregnancy. From a human standpoint our pregnancy has looked riddled with “mistakes.” A misdiagnosed miscarriage, a 20 week diagnosis of Hydrocephalus, an early rupture at 24 weeks with a following discovery of Lobar Holoprosensephaly, topped with 10 weeks of hospitalized bed rest and countless unknowns until our little miracle makes his appearance.

From a human viewpoint, it looks bad.

But, sweet people, it is anything but. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth. All of them. From the moment Uriah Lee was conceived, fashioned in the image of God, and formed with the Creator’s own hands, his path has been covered with God’s mercy and truth.

This isn’t a mistake. This isn’t an oversight. This isn’t a punishment. This isn’t bad. This isn’t the end of the world. This isn’t something to change or even wish away.

This is a path God has given us and it is filled with mercy and truth. Every day is filled with His grace. Every moment I spend in the hospital is overflowing with His goodness. Every hour Uriah remains in my womb is a gift. And every day following his birth, whether hard or easy, healed or disabled, is full of mercy and truth and graciously given by God.

And it’s the same for you, preggo Momma. I don’t know what sort of pregnancy you’re experiencing. I’m not sure if you’ve been labeled high-risk or are experiencing some trauma.

But, God’s Word is true. And every path He lets His people walk … you can guarantee it’s covered with mercy and truth.

What Scriptures brought you comfort during a hard season of your life? Share with us below in the comments — I love hearing from you! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie