Sunday, October 2, 2016

He Is Still Good



August 2, 2016
You may remember seeing this picture of Nelson and Natalie running with their two balloons through Radnor Lake State Park back on our August 2nd due date. My “plan” was for them to release those that day in honor of our angel babies that we miscarried in December and March. Well, just being real, I forgot to blow them up with helium that day so in my heart I thought, “No biggie, I will let the kids run around and have fun with them today and then they can release them when we get to the next due date on October 2nd”...well, little did I know that we would be releasing three balloons today.


What a whirlwind of a month September was for us this year. On September 1st, much to our surprise, we found out the happy shocking news that I was pregnant. Too much to try and sum up here but I can say that all four of us were ecstatic and hopeful and praying for a miracle. I have continued to see our counselor so that I could face head on the trauma of our last two losses and we were very expectant and at peace trusting in the Lord’s perfect plan. Could not have asked for a happier month with visits to see family in Chattanooga, St. Louis, and in Auburn. Then on September 27th I had some spotting so we went to have an ultrasound just for peace of mind that everything was ok and found out the gut wrenching news that we were experiencing a third miscarriage. So on September 29th, 7 months after the last one, the process started over and I needed the Lord more than ever and He has made himself known more than ever. 


I know that by nature I am a very positive person but hear me say that this past week has been tough. When the physical part hits, that is when the emotional part really hits me. Without going into the gory details, when I am passing everything and Brandon is rubbing my back and I am waking in the night due to the intense cramping and contractions and say, “This feels like labor. I wish this was labor. I just want our baby!!” Those are the moments you would not wish on your worst enemy. Then having to share with the children (Nelson who by the way prayed ever single day for a month that God would give us a baby and was literally jumping for joy the minute we heard the news and the “mayor” side of him was quite evident the entire month of September as he loved sharing with anyone he saw, “Guess what, my MOM has a BABY in her BELLY!” and now having to tell him that mommy went to the doctor and found out that there is no longer a baby in my belly - those are the moments you know that this world is not our home and you need the Lord now more than ever. 



There is a dear family that we know and love and look up to them as mentors. They have three earthly children and as of a few weeks ago, just had their third miscarriage as well. They encouraged us so beautifully that, “There is no way around protecting our kids from grieving the miscarriages. It is part of the emotional process of growing up and maturing and we get the honor and privilege of leading them on how to take their grief to the Lord - we get to model proper grief response...With the surprise and unplanned part of this pregnancy, we all stood on the understanding that God plans all life and His plan was to increase our family. After our miscarriage, God revealed that He still is increasing our family just our family in heaven not on earth this time.” We can relate to every word of this. Such a beautiful picture of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

This past week has been a tender time of experiencing firsthand the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and realizing the peace that we have felt is not anything that the world can give us. I only want to read God’s Word because I know nothing else can satisfy the desires of my heart. Tonight Brandon and I were recapping the day and even this past week by saying that we want the Lord more than anything in this life. We feel so blessed to know Him as our personal Lord and Savior, to have each other, our precious son and daughter, our dear family and friends, and so many other blessings that we could go on and on about and there is no mistaken that our hearts are sad and we must grieve this loss but I keep thinking of even when your prayers aren’t answered how you so prayed, HE IS STILL GOOD. We know that another baby is not what we need to be happy. Only the Lord is. No matter what, He is all we need. 

We decided along time ago that we are not making any decisions based out of fear. So even going into the third pregnancy back in the Fall 2015, we knew this was a God given desire He had put on our hearts to have more children. When I think of the first miscarriage (December 14, 2015), I think of how we learned to be so THANKFUL for every single day of pregnancy. That little one went to Heaven at 7 weeks. Then when I think of the second miscarriage (February 29, 2016), I think of how we learned to have HOPE. When we saw that baby on the ultrasound and heard and saw the precious heart beating, I felt that the Lord was going to use this baby for us to share HOPE with the world and when this little one went to Heaven at 9 weeks, my counselor encouraged me that this baby would STILL be a message of HOPE to the world...even though I pictured this one in my arms as we shared the message, he or she will always be part of our story and therefore always be a part of sharing God’s HOPE with the world. And then the third miscarriage that we are experiencing right now that began at 8.5 weeks on September 29, 2016, has really shown me to be COURAGEOUS. Even in sharing our story in raw fashion right now, I felt there was no better day than today as we think of our three little ones that are in the arms of Jesus. This has been a wild ride these past ten months and certainly not what we thought things would be looking like on this day but the PEACE that God has given us that nothing is wrong, we are in His loving arms and under His loving care and He is leading and guiding us and taking care of us and our family and we can TRUST HIM no matter what, is a story I want to document so that we can always remember. EVEN WHEN our prayers don’t get answered the way we so prayed, HE IS STILL GOOD. So much more I could share but will wrap this up for now with these dear verses we are clinging to with our hearts and souls: 

“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 

Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s...Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

“I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 
If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” Psalm 139:7-10

“The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8:26-27

“So we do not lose heart. Thought our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18






Thursday, July 14, 2016

I'm An Overcomer

We are less than 3 weeks out from our baby #3's due date...August 2nd. For those of you that have been following along with our journey, Nelson was born in August 2012, Natalie was born in April 2014, I had a miscarriage with Baby #3 in December 2015, and a miscarriage with Baby #4 in March 2016. Some people may be getting a little antsy right now and wondering "why doesn't she stick with the happy pictures...this seems like too much information" but I have learned more so than ever this past year that when we share our stories, it opens up people to share their stories too. Part of how I process life is to write and this has become my outlet. If it had not been for the friends of mine a few steps ahead sharing their stories, I would not have felt so loved on each step of this journey. But because someone was real with me, I have felt encouraged and not alone and pointed to the ONE that gives HOPE while we grieve. So Lord willing, this post will encourage you with the road you are on or help you connect someone you know with me if they need encouragement along the way. 

Been thinking a lot about the labor process the past couple of weeks as I prepare for these upcoming days and weeks ahead. This time, not because I have a baby in my belly but because so much of the journey is relatable. I remember with both Nelson and Natalie, really hunkering down to get my mind and heart in a healthy spot going into their births by not listening to any negative stories or words people have to share but guarding my heart and my mind with The WORD and filling my mind with the TRUTH. In the same way, I find myself drawn to soaking in my worship music and craving time with Jesus. He is everything and all I need. He cares about every detail of my life and can be trusted with every thought I have going on. I have heard from friends that have walked this road before me that this year of all the "firsts" is the hardest...so with this due date approaching, I don't know what to expect or what it will all look like and feel like but I know that God is going to be with me and I am expectant of how He is going to be "close to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34:18). Thankful He has given me the boldness to step up and "Be Brave" and share because so many people I know just choose to stay silent and are eaten away from the inside out with wishing someone could relate. How fitting that today when I went out to get the mail, this beautiful pendant necklace with Joshua 1:9 was in the mail. God is into all of the details. As I got back in the car from my juice date with Nelson and Natalie earlier, one of my favorite songs by Mandisa came on the radio: "Overcomer" ... I'll close by sharing some of these powerful lyrics:


"The same Man, the Great I am. The One that overcame death. He's living inside of you. So just hold tight, fix your eyes on the one who holds your life. There's nothing He can't do. He's telling you (Take a breath, don't forget. Hang on to His promises) You're an overcomer. Stay in the fight 'til the final round. You're not going under. 'Cause God is holding you right now. You might be down for a moment. Feeling like it's hopeless. That's when He reminds you. That's you're an overcomer!" 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

This Is Not The End Of The Story

Instead of waiting for the “perfect time” to sit down and put my thoughts together, I have had a peace in my spirit that today is the day. Since it is the last day of March, it is my heart’s desire to share before another month goes by. 

Since it has been so long since we have shared here, let me catch you up to speed a little and give you some of the back story before going any further. Let’s see, the last time I blogged was on September 2, 2014 so I will take it from there. On September 6th, I was driving home from a good friend’s birthday party (about 30 minutes away from our house) and had Natalie (4 month old) in the car with me and we were leaving around 10:45pm. The bridge that is normally there to take home had burned down weeks before and I had forgotten to take a different way so instead of going North on the interstate, I was forced to go South. This put me about 30 minutes in the opposite direction I was needing to go so once I got off at an exit, I was now an hour from home. My snacks were all eaten, I had already finished my water bottle, Natalie was waking and ready to nurse, and I do not like feeling lost. My heart began to race and I was on the phone with a friend and we were praying and talking through this. When I was finally about 20 minutes away from home, I pulled off the interstate at a well known exit “Moores Lane” and stood on the ground in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant and said out, “In the name of Jesus, I pray for this awful feeling to stop right now”...I was able to regroup and make it home but was so shaken up by the physical symptoms I had felt in that moment that I couldn’t stop thinking about this episode for the days and weeks to follow. We were preparing to move from our then town home back into our “new old house” in a few days, I was exhausted, had two little ones 2 and under and had never had a panic attack but could openly admit that is what must have happened. 

I will spare you all the details from here, there, and in between but we got moved into our house the end of September, and I was taking it all one day at a time but did not feel myself that October, November, or December. That physical awful feeling would rush over me in this awful “fight or flight” feeling whenever I got into the car, which made it hard/impossible some days to go further than the grocery store or our church by myself. I remember taking Nelson and Natalie to Kindermusik once a week and that was 15 minutes from our house and that felt like the furthest I could go. In December, we were heading home for Christmas at my parent’s new house (newly built home after living in the other one I had grown up in for 20 years) and was so excited to all be together and have a wonderful merry Christmas and the next thing you know, Brandon got sick, Nelson got sick, my Dad got sick, and we had to leave in less than 48 hours after our arrival. My grandfather had fallen two days before we had gotten home (December 23rd) and we couldn’t even go see him because the visit was so quick and all were sick. I didn’t even get to see my grandmother, for the same reason. I was heartbroken but quickly learning that these things were out of my control. For so long, I felt like if you do A+B it will equal C. Now with kids and life in the fast lane, I see what even when you do “all right things” it doesn’t always end up like you hope. We are hardly ever sick and I couldn’t understand why all of a sudden this was all hitting at Christmas. My parents kindly spoke the truth to me in love encouraging me to “let it go” and “stop trying to figure it all out” and just to “surrender to the process”...whew, that is exactly what I needed. 

Moving on, my grandfather was starting to get a little better, with a long way still to go, at the beginning of January (still would not ever be going back home) and it was around that time on January 5, 2015 that my grandmother was starting to have some symptoms and family took her to the hospital and quickly saw her body shut down over the next week to ten days. Family came in from all over and had some of the most special moments with her, praying and singing and reading Scripture over her as her body was physically shutting down before our very eyes. I will never forget those days or the gift of her life. On January 14, 2015 she took her last breath on earth and was welcomed home into the loving arms of her Heavenly Father. Yet again, another time I had to put into practice facing the anxiousness and panic that had become such a part of my daily life at this point. It was effecting everything and it was starting to be too much to bear. Brandon’s company is based out of California, so he, Natalie, and I went out to the National Sales Meeting at the end of January. That was such a special trip and such a hard trip. I remember the morning we were suppose to go feeling like I had woken up with the stomach bug or something. Those who know me well know that I have not thrown up since highschool, and that morning I literally was doing any remedy I knew to not throw up because I had chills, the shakes, and felt like dry heaving. When mom got to the house to get Nelson before our flight, she looked at me and said, “This is stress. Let’s pray” and sure enough, that’s what it was. I got on the plane and was fine and then it wasn’t until a few days into our trip that Brandon and I had a major heart-to-heart about something eye opening. I will never forget one night after dinner when he said, “So are you saying that I am causing some of this anxiety?” and as hard as it was to say, I said “yes”...what was happening was he was trying to help calm me and saying *what was meant to be* encouraging things like, “Let’s take this thought captive. Remember the verse that says... You are stronger than this” and stuff like this but in those moments, hearing all of that was making the anxiousness come on more strong. It was at that time that he said, “I think you’re right. It’s time for us to reach out to a Christian counselor”...I had already met with our pastor months back (when this first happened) and had implemented the suggestions he had given me and then the one left go-to would be the Christian counselor. I had suggested that to Brandon but he had not felt that was necessary. And now I can see that only the person stuck in this realizes how it effects literally ev-ery-thing!!!! I was SO relieved when he said we could meet with a Christian counselor. That next day when I was flying home with Natalie (because Brandon was staying a few days more since his meetings hadn’t started yet), God arranged for me to sit next to the sweetest girl on the airplane that had actually experienced something very similar. She was SO encouraging about me getting help and how much it would help. I even got her email and wrote her a few days later to tell her we were in touch with a counselor and meeting with him in a few days.

When Brandon returned from his trip, we started meeting with a Christian counselor that had been highly recommended to us. That was the turning point. I felt so validated in that meeting and finally understood. All of a sudden, to sit there with someone who was saying these are normal feelings after a panic attack and my emotions are real, and so on and so forth, was so freeing! What he said that I will forever remember is, “Brandon, the best thing you can do for Whitney when these feelings come over is let her know she is in a safe place and let these feelings happen. When we try and stop them, it actually causes the anxiousness and panic to increase.” From that day forward, I can say that the anxiousness and panic like I had experienced from September to February did not happen again. I went through some intensive EMDR work with our counselor and was finally able to drive (by myself) from Nashville to Chattanooga again. That had been very frustrating to not even be able to drive home by myself. Family was so supportive and so patient- and still is if I ever notice any of my triggers (usually exhaustion or stress) weighing on me and needing extra support. I have talked with so many people, especially a lot of mom friends, who may not have experienced the exact same thing but something similar. Our bodies change so much as we enter into motherhood and have hormones going up, down, and all around and so much to remember and so much information we are constantly receiving at this day and age and so on and so forth. I had to learn and put into practice healthy boundaries for giving “my best yes” to people and learning to say “no”...a lot! And not compare my load to another’s and think, “If she has 6 babies, is pregnant, homeschools, and prepared me a fresh homecooked meal, surely I can get it together and take someone a homecooked meal and not something from the store”...NO! If I need to pick something up, then so be it! We are all different and must embrace that we are all carrying different loads. And I have noticed, true friends get it.
So from there, my dear grandfather passed away in May. Dad had a heart procedure in June. Said “goodbye on earth” to Brandon’s dear grandmother in July and she soon passed away in August. This was the last of our grandparents - for both Brandon and I. That was a big moment because we have both had these dear ones as part of our life since the very beginning. We said “goodbye for now” to my brother and sister-in-law in August as they were deployed in September. 

As you know, we had Natalie in April 2014 and then with the anxiousness that began in me that September, I knew that I needed a “break” for awhile before even talking about having more children. We knew in our hearts that, as far as the Lord had shown us, we still most definitely had the desire to have more children but I needed to take care of myself first. Wild to think that I became pregnant with our first pregnancy (Nelson) in October 2011 and have been pregnant or nursing Nelson or Natalie every day since then. As special as that is and a bond I wouldn’t trade for the world, I had to accept I am not superwoman and need to prioritize “self care” (including napping when the nap a lot of days) during this season. So I can remember after Brandon’s grandmother passed away (August 2015), us leaving the celebration of life weekend there and driving home sharing our hearts. It was at that point that something came alive in me to be willing to be open to a third pregnancy. For those of you that know our birth stories, both were “planned home births”. Healthy pregnancies and then in the final two weeks with each baby (week 38 with Nelson and week 35 with Natalie) my body began this horrid itching that started in the palms of my hands and soles of my feet and then would wreak havoc in the nighttime (usually 11pm to 7am was the worst) and my body would itch all over and I could not sleep. There is no rash -- all internal in your bloodstream. My liver enzymes (that are supposed to be in the teens) had elevated to very night numbers which meant I needed to plan on birthing at the hospital. We had two very positive natural birth experiences that were truly one of the best days of our life both times, but as you can imagine, after physically enduring something like that with the not sleeping for two weeks before each birth, my liver being compromised, and a lot of other factors...I needed to take a step back and prayerfully ask for the Lord’s guiding hand in giving us wisdom and direction about HIS timing for the next Baby Nall. 

Well, if you’re still reading...this is the part I was getting to but for the past year have wanted to share the part you just read so thank you for caring enough to read on. Feel free to go refill your coffee so you don’t get sleepy! 

In the Fall of 2015, we were open to the Lord’s timing as far as the next pregnancy and were just waiting to see what He had for our family. Meanwhile, it had been on my heart to meet with this highly recommended doctor to talk about supporting my liver *in my mind I was thinking BEFORE the next pregnancy* and as it turned out, I did all the pages and pages of paperwork to submit to even have a consult with him, then found out I was pregnant with our third pregnancy over Thanksgiving weekend, and had the consult with him the following Wednesday. We were overjoyed about the pregnancy and so very thankful how the Lord worked it out for me to meet with him at the beginning of this so we could be proactive in supporting my liver. Those first two weeks of December were filled with so much Christmas joy and an extra hop in our steps carrying around this blessing from the Lord inside of me!! On the weekend we were setting up our Christmas tree and decorating for Christmas, we hung a stocking for Baby Nall and Facetimed in our family (including my brother deployed overseas) to share with them our special news. Family was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to meet the precious one that was set to arrive on August 2, 2016. Nelson’s due date was August 6th so it was days apart to being a similar pregnancy timeline. Wouldn’t need new clothes or anything because I had already been pregnant in this season. So many sweet memories! 


The five of us!!
Our newest addition!!

On Sunday night, December 13th we went to our favorite Christmas concert “Behold the Lamb of God” with Andrew Peterson and friends and tears filled my eyes yet again during the “Labor of Love” song and the opportunity to carry another sweet life inside of me. Then on the morning of Monday, December 14th, I began miscarrying our precious little one at 7 weeks. I am more than open to share with you this process if any of you reading ever need to talk through something like this in more detail for personal encouragement, let me know. We are an open book and want to use these low points to bring God the glory even still. We were still hopeful that Monday that this little one would be OK but the pregnancy loss was confirmed that Tuesday at the ultrasound. It was sad and unlike anything we had ever had to process, and especially when you still have life living out right before your eyes. That Tuesday night was Nelson’s preschool Christmas performance and he was such a LIGHT to us and our family that night. Not to mention, the morning that I started bleeding (that Monday), Nelson saw my face sink at one point when I crawled into bed with the heating pad on my stomach and he looked at me and said, “Our God is so BIG, so strong and so MIGHTY, there’s nothing our GOD cannot do for YOU, Mommy”...oh my, no words for how precious when  your very own 3 year old son ministers to you. He then started praying, and asking the Lord to take care of mommy. The way the Lord has used Nelson and Natalie to be such LIFE giving blessing to me during this time is something that I will always cherish. We felt so loved by our family and friends and church and could feel the Lord comforting us in only ways that HE can during times like this. Some people would say, “I am so sorry that this has happened...especially at Christmastime” but the way I saw it was, this is why Jesus came for us...to heal the broken world. At the beginnings of January, Brandon and I got to go to Atlanta for a weekend away with *just the two of us* and thousands of college students (!!) as we had the opportunity to serve as Door Holders at the Passion 2016 conference. Very special, as we celebrated how the Lord had brought us together for the first time ever at Passion 2007 in Atlanta. That was a special weekend to regroup and have time hearing about the even bigger things God is doing in and through Christ followers all over the world, and just remember that the part of life we are in day in and day out is *ever so small* compared to the rest of the world. Doesn’t minimize it, just good perspective. 

On Monday, January 18th, after a few days of nausea, I took a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant with our fourth pregnancy. We were overjoyed and thankful all over again!! A friend of ours had been pregnant and had a miscarriage right before us in the Fall and then had found out she was pregnant recently too and was filled with so much fear and worry. I remember Brandon and I praying that if and when the Lord allows us to get pregnant again, that we would be filled with His JOY and HOPE and not live in fear. This was such a blessing to feel so hopeful, knowing that is not always the case in a pregnancy following a miscarriage. Soon after this, we got to go back to San Diego for this year’s National Sales Meeting and this year as just the two of us. It was night and day different to go there *without the anxiety* that I had been dealing with the year before. We had the BEST time and such a life giving time together, celebrating the new little life inside me. We had shared this special news with a few friends we live life with day in and day out in Nashville, but waited until after our first appointment to share this news with family. On Friday, February 5th, we went to our first ultrasound appointment and our prayer was to see a baby AND a heartbeat!! We weren’t sure how far along we were so we were excited to find that out as well. As the Lord would have it, they put the monitor on my belly and saw a baby and a flutter right away! As our midwife exclaimed, “This baby’s heart must have JUST started beating!!!!” I had chills and tears of joy, knowing that was an answer to our prayers. Thank you, Lord for that sweet blessing!!! The amazing thing, too, is that I was 5 weeks, 5 days at that point according to the measurements and sometimes people don’t even get to see a baby OR heartbeat that early. It was seriously a gift from God.


Came right home and had a frame ready for our precious one!!
Right on our dresser so we would be reminded to pray without ceasing! 


The next week was Valentine’s week and it was so special getting to call our family and share with them the news. So much LOVE for this little one already. Talk of if this is going to be a little brother or a little sister for Natalie. And the due date is October 2nd, and what a special time of year!!! We were finding out of other friends sharing with us their news, too, and so so many dear friends with babies due in August, September, and October. Thanking the Lord for the blessing of getting to be on this journey together. My belly was starting to pop and I was excited about getting closer to sharing with more and more people about this God given blessing that was our miracle baby we were so excited about!! 


Baby Nall ~ Due October 2016
7 weeks & approximately the size of a blueberry! 

So much love for this 'lil baby bump!!
Nelson & Natalie LOVE kissing baby!!! 

There is no easy way to transition into this part ... and this is much like it felt in real life when we had to share with friends and family ... I started miscarrying our little blessing at 9 weeks on Monday, February 29th (Leap Day) and it was one of the most painful days of my life ... physically and emotionally. There is no way in the world to describe how happy and joyful and HOPEFUL we were about this baby’s life. Then all in an instance for this pregnancy to end in another loss, broke this mother’s heart more than words. Tears stream down my face at this part of the story. I remember saying, “This is not the end of the story” ... we are going to grieve, we are going to be sad, we are going to embrace this, but this is NOT the end of the story. We know that we know that we know that GOD IS IN CONTROL NO MATTER WHAT. We TRUST HIM with our lives no matter what. And we can also cry tears of sadness because as our dear counselor has shared with us, “Sadness is the emotion we feel when we’ve lost something. This also tells us how much we value something. And it’s beautifully evident that this child had value to you and Brandon” ... AMEN! Our grief honors that. It is OK to not rush just to “move on” and “be ok” .... there is a physical connection, emotional connection, spiritual connection a parent (especially the mother) has with a baby (no matter the age) from the moment you find out that you are pregnant. 


We knew from the get-go that we wanted to be open with what we are feeling and vulnerable to sharing our story with the others and have seen over and over and over again the beauty of the body of Christ. We have felt more loved than ever before. It’s hard to put into words the COMFORT and PEACE we have felt from the Lord. When I sit here today on March 31 and think about all that we have gone through this month, there is part of me that can’t even believe we are still in the same month because of the amount of PEACE we feel today. There are certainly still times and moments and occasions that will raise up a strong emotion of sadness, but I acknowledge those and take a step back when they come and don’t try to just “push through” because I am a positive person. I have been encouraged again and again to grieve now - or this will come out one way or the other later. Even our pastor from home who is in his 50s now says he and his wife still talk about their two miscarriages. This will forever be part of our story. Because these are covenant children, we have been encouraged that we will see our two babies in Heaven one day. *Insert tears here* To say that Easter was more meaningful this year than ever is an understatement. The one word that keeps coming up ev-ery-where for me is H O P E. The HOPE I have because MY Lord, the KING OF KINGS, rose from the dead is one worth investing your whole life into. 

This has not been an easy month. If you got to read this whole entry, you’ve seen that this hasn’t been an easy year. But it’s wild because we don’t dwell on that. We praise the LORD for using the anxiety that I felt so strongly in January 2015 to connect us with our dear counselor in February 2015 to give us the tools for a stronger marriage and a stronger family in Jesus’ name that will be a gift to our children for our lifetime and beyond. Real life is messy. We are not afraid of sharing that. We also have experienced that there is LIFE happening all around us. Walk outside and open your eyes to the trees in your front yard -- this life is beautiful - because we personally know the CREATOR. This has been such a powerful and pivotal year for us. I pray to have the mental energy to continue to write more than once every year and a half on here, because it really is healing for me to share. Thank you immensely to those of you that have come over just to “be” with us, those of you that have brought us groceries, meals, flowers, written some of the most beautiful letters I have ever read, loved on our children, and spoken LIFE over us. I will close by saying that it’s unreal how God prepared us for this. Last year He began making the ROOTS of our marriage strong in a foundational way (I hope to share more about that in another post sometime), we have been able to share with family members in a different light after now having the tools, we have had peace in the midst of losing dear loved ones, we have have had peace in our hearts sending our brother and sister-in-law off to the other part of the world, we have had peace raising our children even when the days are long sometimes and the years are short, we have had the boldness to speak up to different friends about situations that need addressing, and so on and so forth...because of HIS grace! And even on a more personal sidenote, have also prayed for sometime now to be in a Bible study with childcare and our church started one in the Fall/Spring ... and I have prayed to be in some sort of mommy/child exercise class that I can be accountable too and I started that this January ... then got to see Natalie Grant in concert with a friend the week before the miscarriage in our fourth pregnancy ... and got to see Priscilla Shirer speak at a prayer conference for a book we are studying days before the miscarriage in our fourth pregnancy ... and even looking at all of these details big and small, I see how how to personally pour into me and equip me for this battle. One of the things that Priscilla said that night was, “Life is a battleground, not a playground”...and a friend, soon after this marriage, spoke over me that I am one of the most life giving people she knows and of course the enemy would love to get me down over a topic that I so love...LIFE! I love my husband, my children, pregnancy, even labor and delivery when thrown a curve ball, childbearing years as a whole and have felt called to minister to women in these stages and of course the enemy would love to make this an uncomfortable or awkward topic. But to stand STRONG knowing that “Greater is HE that is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)... and it has been such a blessing to have a God given desire to meet with the Lord each day and ask Him what HOPE filled message He has for me. Every day it has been spot on. The way He has lined it up for me to be a part of not one, but two powerful Bible studies this spring by Priscilla Shirer, Fervent AND Armor of God...and having the exercise with the mommas and babes on Mondays and Wednesday...and the Christian counselor...and the family and friends and church that love us so much...we have not felt alone. Thank you for reading. Thank you for listening. Thank you for praying. There is SO MUCH more I could share but I have tried to keep it to the highlights while this is all fresh on my mind and no more time passes. Because life is too short to not be real and share. To God be the glory!! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Difference One Year Makes!

Home Sweet Home!

Hopefully it won't become routine to wait every FOUR months to write a blog post but instead of mulling over that for a second longer...on to what we wanted to share!

One year ago today (the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend), we found out we were expecting our second baby. At the time, we did not know how far along we were, when my due date would be, or if we'd be having a daughter or son...but we knew our hearts were filled with JOY! Fast forward to today and we are enjoying each and every day with our #AdorableNels & #SweetNatalieJoy ... AND today marks the start of a new adventure for our family of four which is preparing to move back into the house that Brandon & I bought and lived in prior to our two year interim in Birmingham. 

It's hard to believe that we have already been back in Nashville for a year and a half now ... we could never have imagined how sweet this season would be. Getting to see our Nelson grow from a baby to a toddler, the pregnancy and birth of our precious daughter, living next door to some of our dear friends and getting to enjoy all that that entails with game nights, cookouts, wagon walks, and just living day in and day out so close...we stand in awe of how the Lord continues to show us that He is in all the details. There's certainly a mix of emotions about leaving the sweet street we're on now (even though the move to our house will be just around the corner) but we have seen over and over how the Lord is preparing our steps...

The tenants of three years are officially out as of yesterday and projects to freshen things up and prepare for our October move are about to begin. Thank you in advance for your prayers for our family during this exciting time! Read this quote earlier and thought it summed up what has been on our minds lately: "It takes intention to furnish a home with grace and rest and acceptance...I want to make a home on purpose — with purpose." -The Nester (aka: Myquillyn Smith)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Pway Pway"

Natalie Joy Nall ~ The newest member of Team Nall!!!
We can't remember our lives without you!
It's been 4 months since our last post and a lot has happened since then...including the birth of our precious baby girl, Natalie!! She was born on April 19, 2014 and it's hard to believe that she just turned one month already! Time is certainly flying and we are soaking in each and every moment with our two bundles of joy, Nelson and Natalie, which is why "free moments" are few and far between (aka: non-existent at this point!) and we have not updated the blog before now. So much to share about the Lord's work at our lives in these past days and months and our desire is to share about the amazing birth of our daughter and the days leading up to that soon...but for now it's on my heart to share what happened in our home tonight...a few minutes ago to be exact!

To set the stage...it's been a great day...a full day, but great! Two dear friends, who had babies a few days before and a few days after the birth of Natalie, came over with their other children today and we had some other friends stop by and had some cherished "girl time" while the littles played and we held our newborns. Then we enjoyed our "quiet hours" of 1-4pm which has been a Godsend to have both kiddos sleep during that time. A sweet friend brought over dinner (another true Godsend in this season to see friends and have food delivered) and then the four of us loaded up in Brandon's car to go retrieve my car that has been serviced the past two days since just last week the automatic doors on the van had been giving us some trouble (aka: stopped working!) ... After picking up the car around 6pm, we hugged "Daddy" (Brandon) bye as he headed on to his baseball game. As you may know, May to August in our house is baseball season -- Brandon has been part of a Men's Baseball League the past couple of years which is a very life-giving outlet for him and in turn, a life-giving thing for our family since it is so refreshing for him. It does take a little extra effort on my part on the nights he has games because now that we have two kiddos, any mom can tell you how helpful it is to have Dad home in the evenings helping with dinner, bath, bedtime routine and all. 

So tonight, we pulled in to our neighborhood around 6:45pm (Nelson usually goes down around 7pm) and instead of rushing in to try and fit our normal routine in...we got out the double stroller and enjoyed the gorgeous evening. Natalie slept and Nelson enjoyed seeing his neighbor friends. By the time I rallied the kiddos and got us inside, it was getting close to 7:30pm and I was almost dizzy from how hungry and t-totally exhausted I all of a sudden was feeling from our great but full day. I knew as soon as we walked in and it was time for Nelson and I to eat, that Natalie would wake up and it would be time to nurse her. So I hurried to get a quick bite and get Nelson's food on the table and sure enough, Natalie woke up! As I was nursing her, I prayed and asked the Lord for His strength to get through the next hour because I didn't know how I could physically do it in my own strength.


Before the hummus covered his body!
Meanwhile, I look over at Nelson who has chosen to eat the whole cucumber (skin and all) this evening and a few minutes later I see that he is covered head-to-toe in his hummus. I take Natalie upstairs and lay her down in hopes that she will stay resting while I take care of Nelson and sure enough, she stays sleeping and I get Nelson upstairs into the bath. After his bedtime routine of bath, pajamas, foot stretches, and putting on the snowboard...we go to sit in the glider chair in his room and he bear hugs me. Brandon has been the one putting Nelson to sleep in the past month since I have been usually nursing Natalie during this time. It was so precious to get to have this time with Nelson tonight. As we rocked in his glider, he starts saying: "pway pway" (pray pray) and I start praying as we always have for our family, the night's rest, thanking the Lord for our blessings and so forth. Never have I ever heard Nelson go to town like he did tonight ... it sounded like he was interceding or something as I was praying because I was praying and he was literally listing off each person (and thing) he knows: Ma-Ma, Da-Da, Nadlie, Suuue, Pops, LaLa, E, Lilly, ball, slide, bath, light...it literally brought me to tears. Even when I first said "Amen", he kept saying pway pway so I kept praying, thinking of all the other people and prayer requests we have been lifting up and many countless things there are to pray about. He kept wanting to pray...so my tears kept flowing. This precious son who God brought into the world 21 months ago and used to be a newborn like his dear sister, is now old enough to start talking and to see his brain at work and his desire to pray and lift up these dear friends and family...was so humbling and so rewarding all in the same. In that moment, I felt so refreshed. More so than any "spa day" or shower or "meal by myself" could have ever made me feel. In that moment, with the rest of the house in the beautiful mess that it is, I was so thankful that I had stopped and asked God to give me the strength to see His fingerprints on the rest of the night and not just "survive" the next hour. I had even texted a dear prayer warrior sister when we sat down at dinner to ask for her prayers that God could give me endurance. So grateful for the sisters God has placed in my life to be real with as we walk this road of motherhood. We know our hands are full, but so are our hearts. Thank you, LORD, for allowing me to find beauty in the mess all around me, because it is quite evident that LIFE is happening here. And I certainly don't want to be "so busy" to get to the next place or the next moment to "clean up" that I miss out on the hugs, the prayers, and baths here there and in between. Thanks for letting me share this...I am so thankful to be Brandon's wife, and Nelson and Natalie's mom. I have heard my parents talk about being parents my whole life but never have I understood the love you have for a child until having my own. And now to see Nelson's heart bent towards the Lord, that in and of itself is an answer to our prayers. May he (and his sister) always love the Lord and want to know Him more than anything else in this world...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Mouths Filled With Laughter!

"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." -Psalm 126:2

It's a new year on the blog!! So much has happened since our last post but instead of recapping every detail...we'll just pick right up with where the Lord has us now! Nelson will be 18 months next week (!!!) which is extremely hard to believe. Every day is such a gift with him and it's amazing to soak in each and every stage of growth. He is becoming more chatty and will copy the words we say...so cute! It's been quite cold here in Nashville lately and he loves to grab his coat and his shoes and go stand by the door to go "outside"...the cold doesn't seem to stop him from his love of the great outdoors! He is a great eater and amazes us at his love for "real food". He loves to read -- so cute to watch him bring us book after book. His laughter is absolutely contagious. Here is a peek into his precious laugh from earlier this evening...


He sleeps like a champ! That has been SUCH a huge blessing to this pregnant mama!! This may be news to some of you that simply keep up with us on the blog and not the other social media avenues...Nelson is going to be a big brother! We found out at Christmas that we will be having a baby girl in May...Natalie Joy Nall! I am 25 weeks right now and feeling great!! Very thankful :) Please keep us in your prayers as the Lord brings us to mind...that we will soak up each and every moment with dear Nelson and that the Lord would prepare us to welcome Natalie into this world in the next 15 weeks!! Time is flying! We are sooo very excited! Each day is a GIFT and we give thanks to the LORD for these blessings!!! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nelson is WALKING!

It only seems fitting with Thanksgiving around the corner, to share with you a huge praise report in which we cannot stop thanking the Lord for...Nelson is WALKING! 

For those of you who have followed our journey, Nelson was born with bilateral club foot (club foot in both feet) ... we prayed from day one that from the Lord's healing hand through the correction of the casts and "snowboard" (shoes with a bar) he would one day be able to walk, run, and play! He wore his first pair of casts at 3 weeks and then started in his snowboard when he was around 3 months ... finishing up with the 22 hour/per day snowboard wear when he was about 6 1/2 months. At 7 months, he started crawling and he steadily got faster and faster, crawled up and down the stairs, and Brandon loved to say that "Nelson is the fastest crawler this side of the Mississippi"...
3 weeks old: Getting his first pair of casts
August 2012

It was tradition to meet Baby Crawford & his Mama for "Pinkberry" (frozen yogurt)
as a treat after Club Foot appointments! These boys are 10 days apart!!

Comfy at home with his cute leg warmers over his casts. Help "soften the look" and
prevent an ultimate mess if potential pooplosions were to occur...ha! 

4 months old: Sportin' his snowboard at Christmastime
December 2012 
The snowboard did not prevent "legs lifted high" and fun times in the jungle!
No wonder he has such strong abs now!!!




7 months old: Started crawling all over creation!!
March 2013






9 months old: Nelson started standing and cruising all around!
May 2013

...then he started standing (while holding on) and cruising around 9-10 months old...then taking a few steps (1-2 steps) towards the end of October...then the first weekend of November he took about 5-7 steps...then around mid-November (13-16th) he started taking more and more steps by himself and then took off walking...and now that is his primary way of getting around! It's too cute for words to look over my shoulder while in the kitchen and see Nelson walking towards me! Brandon and I will stop what we're doing when he's home at night and just say, "Wow! Can you believe how far he's come??!" and just watch Nelson walk all around the house. And now, not only is he walking everywhere...but he has become quite the helper! One of his favorite things to carry around is the broom!! I think he's trying to help me with the sweeping :) 



Last week on Wednesday, November 20, Nelson had a great check-up in Birmingham with his doctor at Club Foot Clinic. It was one of the sweetest days to see the team of people that have been with us since he was 3 weeks old, and literally see the ladies who sit at the front window where you sign in peek over their desks and gather each other to the window saying, "Come look at Nelson...he's WALKING!" while he was walking around the waiting room while we waited. It's too funny because since Nelson has never met a stranger, now that he is walking...he goes up to people and smiles or waves...carrying so much joy wherever he goes! It was a moment I'll never forget when his doctor walked in and Nelson lit up with a big smile and then walked right over to her!! Thank you, LORD! She said that his feet look great and are right on track with where we want them to be and keep doing what we're doing...which is stretching his feet daily and still having him sleep in his snowboard at night. We will go back for our next check up in February. 

15 months old: Great check up and
walked in front of his doctor for the first time!!!
November 2013 

In the meantime, just wanted to fill you all in on this huge milestone in the life of Team Nall. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and love for our little man and family! Tears fill my eyes when I think back on that first moment we found out he had club foot ... to where we are now! Nothing short of a miracle!! May we never forget what the LORD has done!! Be encouraged wherever you are today and with whatever you are going through that the Lord is with you, He will carry you through whatever you are going through, and He is faithful! There is not one part of our story with Nelson that we would change. Isn't it a blessing that we don't know all the details of our life beforehand? That would just be overwhelming. God's grace and peace are sufficient for the moment we are in...may we live in the moment, in His presence, and keep our eyes on Jesus. Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving week. There is so much to be thankful for...so very much!!