the early days

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We’ve gotten into this rhythm lately, after Wren’s early morning feeding.  Brandon rolls out of bed in the groggy dark and heads to the kitchen, and soon after I hear my coffee percolating on the stove.  These first few weeks since Wren was born, most mornings he brings it to me in bed.  I forgot what a luxury this is, to have coffee brought to me in bed. He doesn’t drink coffee (he usually makes chai tea for himself in the mornings) so it’s extra special when he makes my coffee.  And this is how the early mornings have been spent.  Savoring how amazing strong hot coffee tastes after a night of interrupted sleep with a newborn, savoring those few quiet moments before the sunlight wakes up the rest of the children.  I told Brandon the other day that coffee just didn’t taste right the whole pregnancy, but amazingly, instantly after the baby is born it goes back to tasting amazing.  So weird.  I’m glad to have this old friend back again.

So yes, we’ve been in the glorious exhausting newborn fog–seriously, the best of days.  I have been instagramming way too many baby photos and annoying everyone, I’m sure, but getting to know this new little soul and getting to hold and enjoy her really is what fills up my days lately.  Oh, this fourth time around, my perspective is quite different.  I’ve found myself enjoying this season far more than I complain about it, knowing truly how fleeting it is and precious.  I keep feeling absolutely shocked that I have a seven year old (!!!) and how big Noah is, how I feel like the last couple of years with him transforming from a toddler to a big kid has just flown by without me really savoring it.  Everyone says this thing goes by fast, and at the beginning I didn’t really feel like it was true.  But suddenly I’m starting to get it.  I can’t believe how quickly 7 years of parenting has gone by, what a blink it truly has been, and the fact that those years are behind us and never can we live a day of them again nearly breaks my heart.  So, I can’t complain about these newborn days.  My arms ache sometimes from holding her, and I’m afraid I’ll spoil her, but I’m holding her as much as I can, as if the holding can somehow slow down time, weigh it down and make it last.

The smell of milky breath.  The way newborn skin feels.  All the little peach fuzz on her shoulders and back that will disappear soon.  The tawny brown hairs I will soon find falling out on her blankets.  The milky midnight blue newborn eyes that will soon change.  The way she raises her eyebrows with wide open eyes as she focuses on me.  Her papery thin little fingers that reach around for mine to hold as she nurses.

Three weeks have gone by in a blur, and I know in a few weeks time I will hardly be able to remember these early days.  Brandon’s parents came the first week and his mom stayed to help me when Brandon went back to work.  They brought belated Christmas gifts for the kids and they were a huge help.  My parents have also been helping when they can, mom bringing me meals and coming some mornings to help with whatever needs to be done.  We’ve been trying to get back into a routine a bit this week, with me cooking a bit again, cleaning, and keeping on with school with phoebe.  Everything takes longer and is more interrupted than it used to be, but I’m trying to be patient with myself and everyone else, too.

 

i’ll let phoebe tell you…

Eee!  I am truly surprised, we all are.  We weren’t sure if we would find out baby’s gender this time around, and I kept going back and forth about it until Brandon said, “We’re just not those people who wait.”  I laughed.. well, so be it.  I think it’s good for us to know ahead–gives the kiddos time to wrap their minds around it–and me too!  I’m super shocked.  We had the 20 wk ultrasound on Tuesday, and everything looks good with the baby.  That’s always the biggest relief, and so fun to watch baby waving and wiggling and kicking.  We thought we’d do something more fancy for a gender reveal but Phoebe was begging me all day to open the envelope, and in reality, I don’t have much energy for fancy things lately.  It seemed fitting to just let her open it after dinner Tuesday evening and share the news together intimately as a family first.  So, there you have it.  I’ve already cast on the first baby knit!  Somehow “knowing” helps me want to knit for baby.

the baby is one

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We celebrated with family yesterday afternoon, opening gifts, enjoying a meal together, and feasting on cake (gluten-free + vegan!).  Our sweet babes are so blessed to have aunties + uncles and grandparents nearby who will love on them in this way and bless them with sweet gifts.  Phippa, as we call her, received some warm clothes, a new bike, and a doll from Brandon + I.  She was the first of our kiddos to not cry during the first-birthday song/cake experience, and to actually eat and enjoy her cake!  So I think she loved it.  We all did!  What a treat to be together with family and to all love on this sweet little gift from God to us, our precious girl.  We adore her!  My heart is a little sad that she is already one and moving on up, but it’s good to remember all the fun things that are ahead.  Her first steps, words forming into sentences, more + more that she is able to do and that we are able to know of her.  Her little party was a great way for us to begin Thanksgiving week.  Our hearts are ever mindful of the great kindness He has shown us in these little souls entrusted to our care!

Psalm 91 has been on my heart the last few days, these verses in particular my prayer for our little Philippa Ruth:

 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”
(Psalm 91:14-16 esv)

the bond of sisters

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How did this happen, that you are already days away from being O N E, my littlest one?  I love these ordinary days with you.  Ordinary, and yet when I look closer, when I quiet my complaining and squint past the piles of mess and the squabbling, days that are heavy with glory.  These days are full and exhausting, but I think they will always be my favorite.

Older sister clambers over crib rails into bed with the younger.  Giggles and laughter and momma rocking quiet with camera in hand, freezing ordinary glory into little squares.

Dedicated

We dedicated our darling little Philippa Ruth to the Lord this past Sunday, also dedicating ourselves to bring her up in the training + admonition of the Lord.  Making such a public statement of commitment is beautiful, but also difficult.  With our firstborn, we did so with innocent pride.  Now with our third, we do so fully aware of our complete inability to do the task at hand apart from Christ’s Spirit working in us.  We are so thankful for “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).  Apart from that promise, we truly would be hopeless!

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The familiar lines from Psalm 145 rang through my soul that day:

“One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.”  {Psalm 145:4-13 ESV}

Little Philippa,

We so hope to show you what a mighty God you have.  The One who breathed life into you, the One who formed you in the “secret places” of my womb long before we even knew you were in existence.  The One who shaped your very form to be exactly as it is.  The One who created you to reflect His image.  His works are awesome, child.  He is faithful in all His words, kind in all His works.  Indeed, His mercy is over all He has made.  He is rich in compassion.  Unlike your human parents, He is slow to anger.  He abounds in love.  He has already lavished such great love on you, littlest one, because He has entrusted you to us.  The hymn I have sung over you almost every night these past six months that we have held you has been an old one, “When All Thy Mercies, O My God.”

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I’m lost
In wonder, love, and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed
Before my infant heart could know
From whom those comforts flowed

When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou,
With health renewed my face,
And when in sins and sorrows bowed,
Revived my soul with grace.

Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue,
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.

My favorite line reminds me that He has lavished His love on you FIRST.  He first loved you, before your infant heart could know. He first loved you because He entrusted you to a mommy and daddy who are counted amongst His people, a mommy and daddy who are covered in grace, who will sing over you the song of His great love and mercy for ruined sinners such as ourselves.  A mommy and daddy who He has first lavished with the Gospel of grace, who in turn plan to ravish your heart with that Gospel.

We praise Him for your precious life and the joy you bring to our family.

We love you so!
Mommy + Daddy

{Photography by Celena Simpson Photography}

the birthday boy

Every baby, every life, is a miracle.  But this guy?  He is a MIRACLE.

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He was a fighter from the start.  Born three months early, weighing only 3 lbs, he came out screaming.  That his lungs were formed enough for him to scream was the first sign that this little guy was going to be a fighter and was probably going to be ok.

He spent weeks in NICU fighting to get the start in life that most full-term babies have, and the next two years fighting one scary illness after another (such as viral meningitis and emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia) to catch up to the health and growth that full-term babies have.

It seems so much was against him from the beginning, that something wanted to snuff out his existence before it even began.  And yet his young parents fought for his life on their knees and in the community of believers, praying him through those first two exhausting scary years.  They can attest to a number of miraculous times that God healed Brandon in those first two years of life.

We have an enemy in this life who lives only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  Jesus tells us the devil was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).  He is pictured by Peter as a roaring lion, roaming about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).  He is an opportunist, a smart + centuries-practiced adversary, an expert in human beings after years of studying and working to wreak havoc and destruction.  Like a lion, he would seek the weakest and easiest targets to devour.  What is weaker, what is more vulnerable and defenseless than a baby?

In his adolescent years, the enemy of his soul made other attempts to destroy him, to wipe out his joy, his effectiveness, his confidence.  He was successful for a season and inflicted some deep wounds.  Yet God’s hand was on Brandon’s life and over the course of the 10+ years I’ve known Brandon, I’ve seen God at work in him, pursuing, healing, guiding, restoring.  It’s been the privilege of my life to get to peek in on that process, to get to share in it and pray for him, knowing some of his private battles better than anyone else on this planet (as of course, he does the same for me in my own struggles + brokenness).

And now?  He’s one of the strongest guys I know.  I tease him that his legs are shorter because he was a premie and just grew sort of funny. 🙂  But he really is incredibly strong.  I’ve never known anyone like him when it comes to endurance.  Being that we’ve led multiple backpacking trips together and have been in some hairy situations, I’ve seen him persevere at great lengths and I’ve never seen him quit.  When more is asked of him, I see him consistently rise to the occasion.  When all of us are sick at home, typically he is the only one who doesn’t get it.  In fact, I can probably count the times he’s been really sick on one hand.  I tease him that he had to fight to survive from the beginning and it made him super strong.  There is always this part of him that was curious if he could have been a Navy Seal or a Ranger, wondering just what limits his endurance has.  He can go without sleep and without food and still be a normal, functioning human being.  He does not drink coffee (I know, see?  He’s crazy strong).  He is the primary one to get up in the night with our kids, and is often up early running long distances, training to run a marathon.  I repeat, he doesn’t drink coffee.  And not because he’s a snooty purist, he’s the least snobby person I know.  He just doesn’t like it.

I am so thankful for him and honestly can’t imagine doing life with anyone else.  Sure, we can drive each other crazy sometimes, as only people who passionately love each other can.  But we can have a lot of fun together, too.  He is such a sweet daddy, imperfect and growing, but his love for his kids runs deep.  He has always loved me even when I’ve been unlovable, always willing to give me the best.

So, happy birthday to this dude.  Just wanted to tell you a little about how special he is!  And a special thanks to his parents for doing such a stellar job raising up such a fine man.

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Lately

So, life has been a little busy lately.

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We are all sorts of tired over here, back in the midst of the beautiful crazy that a newborn brings.  The holiday season is upon us, and two of my favorite little people have birthdays coming up the week of Christmas, too.  It’s the best (and busiest) time of year!

We’ve been doing lots and lots of this lately:

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This time around, I know how quickly that little newborn will morph into a toddler.  How soon her little baby fuzz will fall off and these sleepy days will become wakeful (and more rest-less).  I’m being more intentional this time around to just spend time holding and savoring this little one while she’s this little.

A few days after our littlest was born, Thanksgiving was upon us.  Though we really probably shouldn’t have been out with her yet, we couldn’t resist the Thanksgiving feast with our sweet family nearby.  (I told Brandon later, I truly don’t know anyone who cooks as well as my parents do.  We often are treated to dinner at their house, and it is hands down better than any restaurant I’ve ever been to!)

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One of our favorite Christmas traditions is finding a little local Christmas tree farm and chopping down our own tree (see last year’s endeavor here).  Since I was just days out of the hospital, we didn’t feel like we could risk traipsing around with a newborn in December looking for a tree so we went to our favorite nursery nearby to pick it out.  It was still fun!  It is what you make it, right? 🙂

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(the kids decorated their own tiny tree for their room)

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It gets more and more fun every year to celebrate the Christmas season, building memories and our own little traditions and seeing these little ones come alive to the wonder of the season.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

I’d love to hear your favorite traditions and memories surrounding Christmas!  Hope your holiday season is full with all the fun things that draw families together and make for a warm home, and full of what draws our hearts to Christ and to remember the beauty of His incarnation.

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