Small, Beautiful Dreams

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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

One Month Ago Today: Hospital Anniversary

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It’s amazing to think that one month ago yesterday I spent the morning frantically changing my outfits not sure which would be best for our day out and our appointment with our midwife. I knew this wasn’t going to be the traditional check-up; we had recently gotten news of Uriah having Hydrocephalus and my midwife (being the awesome lady that she is!) had asked to continue seeing me (free of charge!) so that she could keep up with my health and be a soundboard for bad days or questions (as we’d be moving my care to a specialist).

Dalton and I drove the 30 minutes and had a hundred questions answered and someone willing to listen to our concerns. What do we do with finances? Which hospital would have the most experience? How could I best prepare for a c-section? The list was a mile long and the 20+ years of experience Susan had definitely came through. We left her home feeling hopeful and glad; we can do this. We can do this.

It was date day which means all sorts of fun in our home. We visited several Mennonite-run stores gawking at the low prices and great variety. Lunch included handmade sandwiches and trail-mix. Dalton had never been to these stops before so that always make the adventure fun. Our last stop was a shop with gorgeous pumpkins of all sizes. We were in the check-out line with a bag of brown rice and a lump of blue cheese when I had to find the restroom.

In that tiny room my water broke. I wobbled out, stood by Dalton as he finished the transaction, mentioned that I think something weird happened, and smiled when he still remembered to ask the cashier for three pumpkins. Before we hopped in the car I picked out the most adorable dwarf pumpkins and Dalton found a large, blue-ish-green specimen he loved.

One month ago yesterday, my water broke. Today is the one month anniversary of our being in the hospital. Thirty-one days of monitoring, pokes and prods, and the ever impersonal, funny question, “Have you had a bowel movement today?”

One month of unknowns, new diagnosis’, nurses, doctors, and getting to know the staff who bring me my meals and clean our room with smiling faces. One month of being more social than I have been in my life, feeling more loved by friends and family than I ever knew, and getting dressed earlier in the morning (quick, put the bra on before the nurses arrive!) than I knew routinely possible. (In normal life I get dressed after Dalton heads to work … at 9 am.) 😉

And we have been so blessed.

Since my water broke God has graciously given Uriah 32 more days to grow, thrive, and develop in my womb. Plus, with no major contractions, it looks like He may be giving us more!

Since my water broke we’ve had countless cards, goody baskets, surprise packages, promises of prayer, and financial support pour through the mail system and into our little room.

Since my water broke I’ve connected with families who have experience with Hydrocephalus and Holoprosensephaly. Amazing families who love their children without conditions or questions. People who give me hope and let me know that children with special needs are still children and worthy of every ounce of love we can give. People with children who defy doctor’s prognosis’ and expectations.

Since my water broke I’ve lived in two different hospital rooms; one for labor and delivery and the other for maternity. I’ve met so many people. Dr. Mohammed, Letensie from Eritrea, Africa, and Rita from India. Not to mention the nurses from more local areas. They all have a story to share; one had an arranged marriage which is 35 years strong and experience serving in her once war-torn country, one raises alpacas and rescues puppies she find on the street. Another invites me to the Christian church in Columbia when I’m able. Then there’s the sweetest housekeeper who raises horses and asks me questions about my Christian walk no one has ever asked before.

Since my water broke I’ve drank more water than ever before. In an hour I down 30 ounces or more. My complexion should be beaming before this is over! 😉

Since my water broke I’ve had more people see me in my jammies than I ever thought possible. But these are the people who stop by and pour their love on our family. These are the folk who take time out of their day to sit on an uncomfortable couch and ask about Uriah and his latest news.

Since my water broke Dalton has made this hospital his home. Our days have developed a routine. He heads to work early to beat the traffic and change into his uniform at home, works his 10 hour shift, drives home for a quick shower and picks up the mail and fresh laundry, then heads back to the hospital by 8 to 8:30. He pulls “Lawrence” close to my bed and we watch “Whose Line” reruns while we eat dinner. Then, he helps set up the monitoring equipment so we can hear Uriah’s heartbeat; most of the nurses are impressed with his ability to work the machinery and how much easier he makes their job. I’m just grateful because I like him snuggled so close to me. Afterwards, I get my heparin shot and we both fall asleep faster than I think possible for a bed rest patient and her easily-woken husband. He’s does this without complaint or grunt. Our weekends are full of quiet, relaxing times full of wheel chair rides outside, a special dinner, movies, and Minecraft.

Since my water broke I’ve gotten to lean closer to the Lord than ever before. Oh, I’ve had times where I’ve leaned into the Lord but there is something urgent, something necessary about drawing close to the Lord in the unknown. Since my water broke my God has taught me:

That He does, in fact, answer prayer. 

That His Word really can bring comfort and healing to the soul. 

That He is, indeed, very present. As in, He is in this room with me. 

That He cares about every need, the big and small, in our lives. 

That He does carry the pregnant woman and child like a Shepherd carries His sheep. 

That sometimes praising Him is the only way to defeat anxiety and fear. 

It’s been amazing how fast a month can pass by. When the doctor first recommended my staying here for 10 weeks I nearly choked. But time passes pleasantly, I am able to stay busy, and I’ve gotten the perfect time to bound with little Uriah before he even enters the world. Plus, this has taught me how to best be with people when I have nothing to offer them. And I’ve discovered, again, that my and Dalton’s marriage and friendship can run so much deeper; we just have to be purposeful.

Thank You, LORD, for this good month. Thank You for carrying us, like small, fragile sheep, through the wilderness. Thank You for being with us every step of the way. You are trustworthy, faithful, and full of mercy. “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 …” (Ps. 71:14,16a)

God is so very good, my friends.

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

Being Purposeful in Loving

Practicing a protective, purposeful heart with AuthenticVirtue.com

If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.” – F. Burton Howard

Today I want to encourage you to protect what you love. Life can be corroding and chaotic, breaking down beauty with its salt-like wind and billows.

Shield what you love. When we plant young sprouts we protect them; we carefully tie stakes to the tender shoots and we water when the sun would rather dry everything out.

Marriages, relationships, and walking with the Lord are precious items meant to be special and protected. Too much harm comes from growing careless, bored, and unimpressed with what makes life special.

Sweet friend, take a few moments to cherish and polish what you never want to lose. Kiss your husband a little longer tonight; read to your child one more time before bed; call your out-of-state friend just to say hello; wake up a few minutes earlier to read God’s Word.

Practice protecting what you never want to lose and watch how precious and special the thing becomes.

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

 

Bump Update: 16 Weeks

Weekly pregnancy updates at AuthenticVirtue.com

It’s a sweltering July day and, sweet people, I’m sixteen weeks and a few days pregnant.

Baby Update: We’re 16 weeks and with 24 weeks to countdown! 🙂 Isn’t that exciting? Baby is now the size of an avocado. (Awe!)

Fun Fact: Baby Duncan may be able to finally listen to outside sounds! That’s perfect because I’ve 1) been talking to baby since day one and 2) have so many lovely classic pieces, lullabies, hymns, and sound tracks to fill our time and hearts with.

Mood: My mood has been much more relaxed and hopeful than in previous weeks. June was full of sweet busy times with family but it was also exhausting. July has been much more relaxed and helpful in my settling into our new home and establishing a routine which in turn has helped me settle into the reality of becoming a momma.

At 16 weeks moodiness seems to be taking a back seat although, like my friend Angel, I can struggle with strong and unexplained feelings of irritation or anger. My unexplained anger was actually my first prompt for taking a pregnancy test! I’ve also been told that I was abnormally aggressive during my first trimester which is something I hope is calming down.

So, overall, emotions are stabilizing back toward my normal. I still get weepy during sad movies (I cried again while watching Jin and Sun reconnect on Lost and during the last episode of The Office). I’m thankful God has shown some areas I can work on and given me the grace to 1) learn to be gracious again and 2) be gracious with myself and realize my 1st trimester was really stressful, crazy, and hormonal and mood changes are to be expected.

Sleep: Ah, sleep. It’s been interesting learning to sleep with my 16 week belly. Normally, I’m a stomach sleeper so learning to lay on my side has been difficult. I love it when Dalton turns to his side — I literally leech to him using his back like a pregnancy pillow. He graciously lets me do this (most of the time) except for when the house is hot (our thermostat has been chaotic). He hates waking up to me sticking to his back with both of us sweaty! Haha!

Weight Gain: Honestly, this is why I have avoided bump updates (tisk, tisk, Frannie — why are you so vain?!). I had read that few mommies gain weight during their 1st trimester and some even lose weight. At 16 weeks I’ve gained around 5 pounds.

I’ve been on slight bed rest/light rest orders since week 9 and have had two subchorionic hematomas (blood clots) most likely from two separate placenta tears. Plus, Missouri is hot, hot, hot this summer! In other words, my first trimester I took pretty easy. 🙂

When we discovered we were pregnant I began an awesome exercise routine but after spotting began I didn’t want to aggravate any issues. So, I’ve been pretty exercise-free these past months.

Mainly, my weight gain has been in the tummy region (hello, belly) and in the chest region (hello, bra size increase). 😉 Honestly, I’m not too worried about my weight gain because, other than special occasions, we have a healthy diet. I haven’t had one poptart or bowl of sugary cereal even though I’m dying to partake in these cravings!

Cravings: Speaking of, I am craving all things carby and sugary, like the said poptarts and cereal. Donuts, root beer floats, and pumpkin pie are also on the want-list. 😉

Exercise: With my blood clots being absorbed and decreasing in size I am feeling brave enough to begin exercising again. My plan? Stretching, long walks (on cool days), and kegels.

 Sickness: I’ve been enjoying nausea-free days for the last two weeks or so although I have headaches from dawn until dusk. I’ve been focusing on eating more protein (to fight against low blood sugar headaches) and good posture (to fight against tension headaches). Neither seem to be helping so until I discover why I’m getting headaches every day I’ll continue taking an afternoon nap which is the only thing that eases the pain for a few hours.

I am thankful that my sciatic pain is nearly gone. During week 14 and 15 I struggled with a sharp pain any time I lifted or moved my legs. I began some sciatic-specific stretches which eased the pain. Now, at week 16, I haven’t had one sharp twinge which is wonderful!

Best Part of Week 15: Dalton and I had a really great weekend together; God has been so kind in giving me such a hard-working, loving man and I love spending time with him! Also, my mom was able to visit for 2 days which was utter delight — she spoiled me with a homemade bag of puppy chow and we had lots of good time visiting and antiquing.

Looking Forward To: Seeing more family this week as well as an upcoming coffee date with a sweet friend. Also, I’m only a few weeks away from our next ultrasound! (Yay!)

Look at that bump! @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Are you a preggy Mommy? Maybe you’ve already had your little one? Or maybe you’re a single friend who isn’t near the season of having children yet? Either way, what are some things that surprised you about my list or that you experienced yourself? Do you have any ideas of what pregnancy will be like? 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie