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

Hospital Adventure: Week 25 and a New Diagnosis

Join us for our hospital adventure with baby Uriah @ AuthenticVirtue.com Hello, sweet readers! I realized that I shared our latest hospital update with my Facebook friends but forgot you lovely souls. We met with the doctor on Monday and got a little more info on what they think is going on.

Uriah does still have Hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) pretty significantly but they think it has been caused by him having Lobar Holoprosencephaly (where his upper front brain didn’t divide as it should).

Now, the good thing is that the “Lobar” version is the most mild version of Holoprocsencephaly.

We will not know what the outcome will be because there are so many factors with both Hydrocephalus and the Lobar Holoprosencephaly. Many kids can develop normally, some have medium learning disabilities, and some can be far worse.

But the good news is that it they think it is the “Lobar” level (the mildest version) and his other organs look good.

So, some very possible things we will have to deal with are: intellectual and mental delays or disabilities, seizures, disabilities with his motor functions (muscle control and such), possible optic problems (his sight), and he will still need a shunt placed to drain the fluid.

But, even though those may sound bad, this was good for us to hear! It will be hard but we can work with Uriah on these issues. He may never be a “level 10” intellectually (or he totally could be!) but that doesn’t mean he has to be a “level 0.” We are both dedicated to helping him grow through these things even if they take much longer for him than for other kids. We can help him by being hands-on, getting him therapy, and working with his muscles.

At least we know that he has a good chance for survival and has the mildest form of the “Lobar” level.

Plus, its been 10 days since my water broke and no contractions or labor so I’m cleared for wheel chair rides, eating lunch in the cafeteria, and going outside. 🙂 The doctor feels I have a good chance of carrying Uriah to the 34 week mark (although things can always change especially if I were to get an infection). Dalton’s already wheeled me outside into the sun and around the cafeteria (he’s still the best).

That’s our latest news. To some people this could sound bad but we actually feel hopeful again. Thank you all for your love, prayers, and support. We SO appreciate you!

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Quiet, Summertime Changes: Currently Series

Currently Series with Authentic Virtue Blog

I am thankful for the seasons life brings us. It’s summertime and the days are passing by as quickly as July’s rainstorms roll in. Our vacation time is over, we’ve settled in our new rental, and the fears of my first trimester and the misdiagnosed miscarriage are beginning to look more like memories instead of terrifying, first-hand experiences.

Life is quieting down and I’m finding new ways to make the most of my given time. I will not be teaching this year which means I’m not scurrying around decorating a classroom or writing lesson plans. The timing of baby’s birth did not combine well with the year’s contract. So, now is a season of letting go and preparing for what’s to come. Change is always difficult for my personality so there were quite a few emotions as I cleaned out my desk and put away lesson plans and curriculum. I’m going to miss the routine of being a part-time teacher and all the benefits that come from being in the student’s lives; I am looking forward to substituting though.

Dalton gently reminded me to focus on baby and all the joy this new season brings. I was a bit embarrassed by that — of course I’m loving baby and all that pregnancy means. But his words also reminded me that change is good and should be embraced. Now isn’t the time to mourn over a part-time job or be sorry over my changing routine and schedule. Now is the time to begin planning, dreaming, and investing in the new life which will forever change ours

I’m so glad I have time to plan for our new family member. His/her bedroom is slowly turning from a guest room/library to a garden and Beatrix Potter themed nursery combined with the guest room. Baby clothes have been folded and set into different categories. Blankets are being washed.

In the kitchen I’m trying new recipes, looking at freezer meal recipes (in preparation for our busy, recovering time), and trying to discover the best ways to accomplish meal prep a head of time. (Since waking up – cheerfully – and making breakfast for my Darling Man is a bit difficult these days.) I think I need to take a second look at my morning routines for being successful. 😉

Our new home is becoming more nest-like and comfortable. I finally have enough energy to weed through closets, the motivation to toss what I no longer need, and the desire to find the best ways to decorate our home. I’m hoping with each change I make it becomes more peaceful and welcoming.

Most importantly, I’m endeavoring to bring more focus on the Lord into my heart and home. Hymns and worship music are filling the air, negative thought patterns are being weeded out, and Scripture themed prayers are becoming more common. We have loved ones who need God’s grace in their lives, relationships which need treasured and protected, and a little one to raise up for the Lord; these are all things which come from God and are accomplished through His good will. They’re also things I can ask for in confidence knowing my Heavenly Father hears my pleas and understands my heart.

AuthenticVirtue.com // Currently Series on homemaking, pregnancy, and the grace poured into every day life

What beautiful things have come your way this week? Are there any changes you’re trying to adjust to? I love your comments and growing together as friends. Let me know what you’re thinking! 🙂

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie