Hannah

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It’s been one month since we announced that we lost our second baby. This past month has been filled with all sorts of emotions. Grief is a very hard thing to explain, especially when it’s a silent grief that no one knows or sees the effects of but you. This is why I share my story. This is why I open up. There are countless women out there who have lost children due to miscarriage that silently suffer. They don’t know how to talk about it, they don’t want to make other people feel awkward, and often outsiders just don’t know how to handle the subject. So it becomes “easier” for everyone else if we just don’t mention it too much. But I have had so many ladies reach out to me thanking me for sharing our story because it has put words to some of their innermost thoughts that they didn’t know how to express. It has helped them know they’re not alone. So I will continue to put our journey out there. I will continue to try to offer encouragement and hope, when all feels hopeless and wasted.

I really debated sharing this publicly for fear of how it would be received. Would other people think it was weird? Would they think I was dwelling too much on our loss? Will they think I’m holding onto something too tightly and in an unhealthy way? I don’t know. I don’t know how it will be received, but I know that I want to put this out there. I want to let others know that it is okay to walk your grief path in the way that YOU need to, not the way that society expects you to. So with that, I want to tell you about our second daughter, Hannah.

We found out we lost Hannah on October 10th, one month ago. At the time, we didn’t know she was a little girl. We just knew we had prayed for a child, the Lord had answered, and then the Lord took her away. It hurt. It caused so many questions, so much doubt, and so much confusion. For someone who grew up in church and with a biblical foundation and loved Jesus with all of her heart, I found myself surprised by how much I was struggling with the goodness and character of God. It’s humbling to even type that for others to read because it often feels shameful to have such doubts, but they have been real and raw, and I’m sure I’m not alone in the questions. See, I’ve known this whole time that God is good and His ways are higher in my HEAD knowledge of the Lord, but it was having a very hard time transferring to my heart and my belief. I felt like there was a roadblock between my head and my heart and I didn’t know how to demolish it. So many prayers, so many tears, so much wrestling with Scripture and conversations with my husband that left me grieving more. I wanted to believe the truth, but it was still SO HARD. More often than not, we have many “why’s?” that we asked God. “Why did you answer our prayers for a baby?”, “Why did you let me believe everything would go as planned?”, “Why did you take this baby so soon?” “Why would you put us through this twice?” —and the list goes on and on. And God, in His sovereignty doesn’t always give us answers to those questions. He builds our faith on His character, on His track record, on His goodness, His faithfulness, His mercy, His provision. He gives us Jesus, and that is ALL we ever need.

But the sweet Lord knew that my heart needed just one of those why’s answered. He knew it would build my faith in Him more this time to give me one answer than to leave me questioning.

At the time of finding out we lost our baby, my doctor asked me if we wanted to do chromosomal testing. My initial thought was, “What good will that do? It doesn’t bring the baby back and it’s not like knowing what happened with this one will prevent a future miscarriage. We can’t control anything so what’s the point in finding out?” But on faith, we said we would have it done, just seeking some sort of answers. Three weeks went by with no explanation and then I received the call. My doctor told me that they DID find something, which turned out to be what brought the peace from God that passes all understanding. She explained to me that our baby was a little girl who was missing a vital chromosome for normal healthy life functions. She would have to receive medical intervention for the entirety of her life. It was then that I KNEW, deep in my heart, that the Lord had been gracious to her. He saved her from a life of severe medical conditions and ushered her into heaven perfectly healed and whole. He chose to heal her sooner rather than later, and for that I am grateful. If her heart had continued beating and she continued to grow in my womb, we would embrace every part of her condition with open arms. We would love her unconditionally despite all of it. Yet, God’s foreknowledge wanted to give her what was BEST -right now- , and now she is enjoying the presence of Jesus, a gift we are HONORED to give her even though our hearts wanted her here with us. We decided to name her Hannah, because it means God is gracious. He was gracious to allow her to be spared of this sin-filled world and immediately be where we all long to be. In the Bible, Hannah live a very unpleasant life for the majority of her time on earth, but through her bitter circumstances, her life produced a son that changed the course of history. Her pain led to even greater joy. We know that if we hadn’t lost our first baby we wouldn’t have Adalynn. If we hadn’t lost Hannah, we wouldn’t know the joy that is to come. It is through trials and suffering that we understand joy and grace so much more clearly. If we never experienced valleys, we wouldn’t know or appreciate the mountain tops.

Does God always give us answers to our why’s? No, He doesn’t. And He may never answer any of my others. At least not all of them. But even if we had never found out details about Hannah’s life, God knew what He was doing. He knew he was sparing her life. He knew he was protecting her. And if we walk this familiar road again one day and never find a reason for any future losses, whether they be children or anything else, we can rest in the fact that God knows exactly what He’s doing, and we don’t have to. It doesn’t take away the pain, and grief is still very much real; but we can rest in the truth of our Savior and in His deep, abiding love for us.

So if you have walked this road, are walking it currently, or find yourself a member of this club in the future, please know you’re not alone. God cares about all of your questions. He is big enough to handle all of your feelings, even if they are too embarrassing to admit to other people. He sees you and He is not going to waste your tears. Walk through your grief. Get to know the Lord in the midst of it. See Him for who He is when you’re at your most vulnerable state. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Love you all. Thank you for loving us so well.

Networking Marketing…for the Birds or for the Brave?

[Note: I wrote this in February but then experienced all the blog and website difficulties…so you’re receiving it later than I planned. However I still feel like it needs to be shared, so I hope you enjoy!]

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time, and seeing that I just celebrated my one year anniversary with the Juice Plus+ company in February, I thought this would be as fitting time as any to get some of these things out there for the world to read. For real, this could get lengthy because I have sooooo much to say.

Disclaimer: This post IS about the pros/cons of direct sales and my experiences with it during the past year. If you want to hear about my journey, read on…but if you want nothing to do with the conversation, please feel free to stop here. I’m not here to convince anyone of anything.

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As we all know, it seems like network marketing and direct sales have EXPLODED over the last few years. One in part due to social media and another because people are catching on. Listen, I’m a year in, so I’m a baby in this world, but the more I learn, the more I am intrigued. For years I have seen (mainly women, admittedly so, and I’ll go into more reason why I believe it attracts women more than men later) my facebook account has been overrun with people posting about this new product and that new product, as well as “if you join my team today, you’ll change your life forever!” rhetoric. I was ALWAYS turned off by it. I mean, literal eye rolls all day long. I found it so annoying when I was invited to purchase a new product from someone I hadn’t talked to since high school. I’m still frustrated when I’m added to groups or online parties without being asked first. That is what feels like you don’t really care about me as a person but literally just want to make a sale off of me, and I’m not down with that.

But here’s the ironic thing: there are many people who would now group me in that category. I am a part of a mission driven company that seeks to inspire healthy living around the world. How does it do that? Through people like you and me, sharing their stories on how Juice Plus has made a difference in their lives. To some, this is the most annoying business model out there. But to others, it is brilliant. Let me explain.

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All around me I see advocates for “shopping local” and “support small businesses.” As well as, “When you buy local you’re not buying a CEO another vacation home, you’re putting food on a family’s table and helping a mom get her kid in soccer.” Yet when it comes to supporting a mom (hi! me!) and allowing her to stay at home with her children by purchasing a product that you want* from her directly, all of a sudden she’s the most ignorant person on your friend list.

*I want to emphasize that you want. I’m not here to make you buy something you don’t have any interest in. If you don’t want what I’m offering, no hard feelings. Let’s both agree to disagree and still be friends in the process. Deal? 

When I first heard of Juice Plus (before I became a rep) I would ask the question, “why don’t they just sell it at a retail store so that it doesn’t carry a negative stigma to it when people find out it’s sold by independent distributors?” And then I learned that this is VERY intentional. If things are sold on the shelves of every convenience store, where is the integrity of the product? Where is the education? Where is the regulation? But when it is shared by individuals, then that gives me an opportunity to step into your life, teach you about whole food nutrition, share a product that is backed by 35 clinical research studies, and partner with you in your health journey. Call me crazy, but ain’t no Publix or Walmart gonna do that.

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Now. Let’s get back to why I think women are the main culprits 😉 to buy into this business world. In my experience, the VAST majority of women (not all, don’t hear me wrong), but most women, wives, and moms want just a few things from life: To feel valuable, to contribute to their world and their family in a meaningful way, to have time freedom to spend with their husbands, kids, friends, etc., and to pursue something they are passionate about. Who doesn’t want to love their job, spend time with their family, and contribute financially to the bills/paying off debt/fun money? Seriously? Who?? Women are seeing an opportunity that enables them to work from home, talk to people all the time, and be with their families. Is that something you can really be mad at them about?

Before I get too passionate, I’m going to bring this back home; to me and my life, and the past year of my experiences.

PROS:

  1. The Juice Plus product makes complete sense to our family. We’re lacking in the 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day we’re supposed to get, and this is a proven way to get that nutrition in our bodies. Check.
  2. I have seen family members and friends health positively change as a result of flooding their bodies with whole food nutrition every single day. Some examples? Matt’s sinus infections are gone. My asthma and allergies have dramatically decreased. Adalynn’s eczema has cleared up and she no longer has to live off of hydrocortisone and steroid cream.With those kind of results, I am compelled to share this with others. What kind of person would I be if I knew of something that could change someones health for the better and I kept it to myself?
  3. Financially, Juice Plus has been a blessing to our family. Have I gotten rich quick? Definitely not. But that’s why I respect this company so much. It’s a gradual building of residual income that directly helps you to see and connect with the lives that are changing as a result of this product.
  4. I have a hobby that I’m passionate about, fits into my lifestyle, and connects me with a community of like-minded people. I have made new friends and rekindled old ones. It has been so much fun sharing health with people that I care so much about.

CONS:

  1. If you can’t tell by my post, the main con I’ve experienced is the smug comments from others making it very clear to me that they think what I’m doing is “less than” their 9-5 job, and that just hurts my heart.
  2. It’s hard work. This business is not for the faint of heart. Just like starting any new business, starting your own virtual franchise doesn’t come without effort. Is it fun? Heck yes. But is it going to happen without being intentional? Nope.

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That’s it. Really. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, and for that, I am proud to be in network marketing. It took me a long time to be able to say that but I finally can. I am proud to be brave and to step out into a world that is made fun of, eye-rolled, and talked about under people’s breath. I am proud of taking a leap of faith to invest in something I believe in. I am proud to show my husband that I am working hard and want to help as much as I can with our finances to pay off student debt and keep our electricity on. I am grateful I can show my daughter what a hardworking woman looks like and to not give up in the face of adversity. I am pumped for the future…for the families whose lives will be changed by whole food nutrition, for my own family’s health and financial freedom, and for others who decide to step out of their comfort zone and willfully become part of the group that is considered annoying, less than, and selfish. Why? Because we know that that is the furthest from the truth. The truth is, individuals in network marketing are brave for stepping out on their own, entering an unknown world, going against status quo, doing what it takes to stay at home with their babies, and living their life for what they are passionate about instead of living in fear of what others think of them.

Has it been worth it? You better believe it. And I’m not stopping any time soon.

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A New Adventure

Hi friends! I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know about a new adventure I’m beginning. I decided to write about it on my blog so that I could go into a little bit more detail of why I’ve decided to do this and give a little bit of detail for those of you who are interested 🙂

Ready? I have decided to start selling Juice Plus+! (I’m sure there are some eyes already rolling), but I am very excited about this new endeavor. I’ve been curious about and interested in Juice Plus for several years now and been looking deeper into it for about a year. It’s one of those products that I was curious about ever since I first heard of it and that I just started gaining respect for the more I learned about it. For those of you who don’t know, Juice Plus+ is literally a capsule of fruits and vegetables. That’s it. Over 20 fruits and veggies per serving, and nothing else. Nothing added. Nothing concocted, just fruits and veggies. It is basically a way to bridge the gap between the fruits and vegetables that we do eat and the amount we should be eating. Nothing fancy or sketchy. Not a replacement for fruits and vegetables, but a capsule full of even more fruits and veggies to add to your intake.

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So why did I decide to start selling it? Several reasons. Everyone knows there’s about 103 businesses and products out there that you can “sell from home.” I’ve looked into tons of them. But none of them felt like anything I could really stand behind. I knew that before I ever tried to do one of those multi-level marketing things that it would HAVE to be a product that I believed in 100% for the long haul. Well the more I researched, the more I discovered that Juice Plus+ would be that product. The clinical research to back this stuff is ridiculous. A business that has thrived for over 40 years and seen countless success stories of growing healthy habits and reducing disease. I’m very impressed by it.
Not only do I want to have this for my own family’s health and well being, but selling it would give me the opportunity to stay at home with my girl and any future kiddos to come. So I decided to take a chance and see where this takes me.

Here is my promise to you: I promise to NOT be your friend that only ever talks about their business. I promise to not shove this down your throat and I promise to respect your decisions for your own family. The last thing I want is to be that annoying girl that only ever tries to sell you stuff. So from here on out, if you are interested in learning more, I would love to talk to you. But if you’re totally not interested, that’s cool too.

IF you want to check out my Juice Plus+ website, here is the link: www.crimsonrenney.juiceplus.com 

 

Have a happy day!

(Also, here is a picture of Adalynn because no blog post would be complete without one 🙂

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She’s Here! — Part Two.

To see the beginning of the story, see part one.

When we got into our room, Matt started calling family and texting friends to let them know that we would definitely be welcoming our baby later that day! My parents had already gotten to the hospital, and his were on their way. We were all so very excited. It was so surreal that it was finally here! Our nurse, Connie, asked me if I wanted to get an epidural and I assured her I would be getting one at some point, but I could still wait a little while. (Judge me all you want, but I had/have absolutely ZERO desire to try to deliver without the assistance of modern medicine. I know myself well enough to know that my pain threshold is just not that tough. Yes, women have done it for thousands of years, but I thank God for medical advancements and I’m not ashamed.)

I think it was about 2 hours later that I told them to call the anesthesiologist in to get this party started. It really wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Word to the wise: don’t look. Don’t look at the tray of supplies, don’t look at the needle, don’t look at anything but your husband. It was all going great until I asked him if I should be feeling warmth down my back. His reply was, “huh, that’s interesting. I’ve never seen that happen before.” Um, excuse me?! Never say that to a pregnant woman in pain that you just inserted a giant needle into her spine. Never. Ever. You can think it, but saying it out loud is completely unnecessary. Apparently the injection site wouldn’t stop bleeding and it was running down my back. Turns out it was nothing to be concerned about. He just applied pressure and it stopped in a couple of minutes. No worries. But seriously, keep your thoughts to yourself. Can I just say that epidurals are AMAZING? I could finally think straight and carry a conversation again. After a couple more hours, I was beginning to feel slight discomfort again, so I asked them to administer a little more of the epidural. Again, brilliant decision on my part. It just makes it all so much more enjoyable! I could actually relax and soak it all in. I highly recommend them. (Also, note: If you choose not to get epidurals and you can push a human out of your body by mere willpower, MORE POWER TO YOU. Seriously, you’re my hero. I applaud your strength and determination whole heartedly.)

Around 3:00 that afternoon (I think…it’s all a little fuzzy) my doctor came and checked me again. I was sitting at about 8 cm at this point. We decided to keep waiting it out and see if my body would keep progressing. Back and forth until 5:30 or so she continued to check me and monitor things. I was staying at 8 cm and beginning to swell. Keep in mind my daughter still had not dropped down into the birthing position yet. I carried her high my entire pregnancy, and she was still hanging out by my ribs. This is when we started making some decisions. My doctor (who I absolutely LOVE and respect entirely) said she would wait it out with me as long as I wanted to. But these were the facts: I’m 5’1. My baby was predicted to be 9 lbs due to how large I was measuring. I had been sitting at 8cm for several hours. My cervix started to swell, and she was still parked way up high. If I ever got to 10 cm, it would have probably led to 3-4 hours of pushing just because she wouldn’t drop down. So my doc gave me the choice to keep waiting it out, or go ahead and have a c-section. I asked how long it would take for her to be born if we went the c-section route and she said that she would be here within the hour. That information sealed the deal for me right there. I was ready to meet my baby girl. Prep me up and wheel me to that operating room. Let’s get this baby girl on this side.

I don’t want to get on a soap box here, but I really don’t understand the stigma that comes with having a c-section. Of course I didn’t prefer it to having her naturally, but if it gets the baby here safely, what’s the big deal? I’ve never seen so much controversy over a subject before getting pregnant. We need to stop condemning moms for having c-sections and instead just thank God for allowing doctors another way for babies to be delivered in the event that it’s in the best interest and for the health of the mother and child. Let’s stop judging each other and just be excited for new life being brought into the world.

They got me prepped and started wheeling me to the operating room. On the way I got extremely nauseous and had to throw up in a bag. As crazy as it sounds, I’m so glad I did. At this point I was falling asleep, and I was so thankful for vomitting because it woke me up enough to actually be alert for my daughter’s birth! #thingsyouneverthoughtyouwouldbethankfulfor

The rest of the story I will let pictures tell for themselves. These are precious to me and I am so thankful for the safe delivery of our sweet baby girl. Adalynn Grace, you were worth every bit of the sleepless nights, the nausea, the cravings, the false alarms, the swelling, the weight, and the wait. You are our greatest gift and we love you so very much.

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She’s Here! — Part One.

Adalynn Grace Renney was born on November 2, 2014 at 7:01 pm. She weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces and was 20 inches long. We were forever hers.

Obviously this post is WAY late (considering she is 6 weeks 9 weeks old now) but hey, new moms don’t even have enough time to shower, let alone sit down (without a baby in their arms) to write a blog post. So here I am, 6 weeks 9 weeks after her birth, attempting to finally blog her birth story while she naps in her room. Here goes! (Warning: This is the LONG version. I’m documenting it for my memories so that I can always look back and remember the details.)

It all started on the morning of October 31st when I thought my water broke. Long story short, I called the doctor and she said it sounded like it did, so to go ahead and head over to Labor and Delivery to get checked out. I texted Matt to come back home (he had just left for work an hour earlier) because we had to go to the hospital! We were both entirely freaking out at this point, not being able to believe that this was it! I took a shower and got ready and when he got back we went to Cracker Barrel for a good solid breakfast. We weren’t in too much of a hurry because I wasn’t in pain yet and I had been told that once you get checked in to the hospital you don’t really get to eat again until after you have the baby so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of food on my stomach to last me the whole day. We then decided to drive to Kennesaw Mountain and walk around a little bit before going in to make my labor progress a little more instead of having to walk the hospital halls. People thought we were crazy…with my 39 week preggo self walking up the trails of Kennesaw Mountain in a maxi skirt and flip flops. So we finished doing that and then headed to the hospital! We got checked in around 1:30 that afternoon and they started checking me. Turns out it wasn’t amniotic fluid that I leaked that morning (don’t ask me what it was…make your own conclusions) and I was still only dilated 1 cm–where I had been for 2 weeks. So they sent us home. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. Granted, I didn’t really want my baby to have a Halloween birthday, but I wanted to have my baby! And Matt might have been more disappointed than I was. When he left work that morning his coworkers were all patting him on the back and getting super excited to see baby pictures later that day, and he had to tell them after ALL of that that it was a false alarm.

We decided to go to my parents’ house at this point because it was closer to the hospital and we figured we could at least eat lunch with them and hang out for the afternoon. Matt decided to go ahead and go to the varsity football game that night since we wouldn’t be having a baby and I stayed with my parents. That evening, around 5:00, I started having my first REAL contractions. I had had Braxton Hicks since I was 26 weeks, but these were definitely the real thing. I knew it because they stopped me in my tracks and took my breath away. They started at 30 minutes apart and progressed to 15, 10, 9, 8, 6, and 5 until 2:00 am. They were so much more painful than I ever imagined contractions to be! How do women do this?! I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t distract myself, and couldn’t think of anything but breathing. When they got to 5 minutes apart I knew we had to go back to the hospital. I would be stupid not to at this point. So we loaded ourselves up again and at 2:30 am we headed back to the same place that had sent us home 12 hours earlier.

[November 1st]

We got to L&D and they checked me to see how much I was dilated. ONE CENTIMETER. ONE. I had been one for 2 weeks! What in the world were all those contractions doing if they weren’t moving things along?! I thought to myself, “If these are what contractions feel like at one centimeter, how am I ever going to survive anything closer to 10?!” The nurse told us we could walk the halls for an hour to see if things would progress any further, and then they would check me again. So at 4:00 in the morning Matt and I are pacing the halls of the hospital, praying that it will work. I’m pacing, doing squats, stretching, and repeating for an hour straight. She checked me again? ONE centimeter. Matt and I were just ticked off at this point. They sent us home, yet again, with no baby in our arms. We were determined not to come back until the following Tuesday (when I was scheduled to be induced). We went back to my parents’ house to sleep. I took 2 Tylenol to help with the pain and napped on and off until about noon. We headed home to do things around the house for the day and to distract ourselves from the disappointment of not having a baby that day. That evening we went to dinner with Matt’s parents at Provinos so that I could eat some eggplant parmesan. Provinos has this awesome deal that if you come there and eat their eggplant parmesan and have your baby within 48 hours, you get a $25 gift card to come back! We figured it was worth a shot! After we left there we went to our friends, Aaron and Caitlin’s gender reveal party for their baby due in March. (They’re having a boy!) I was still having contractions at this point but they were about 20-30 minutes apart and Tylenol was still helping with the pain a good bit, so I knew there was nothing to be concerned about. When we got home that night we stayed up till about midnight because we knew we wouldn’t be going to church the next day. We were exhausted and it would have just been too much to handle.

[November 2nd]

Around 3:00am I started having intense contractions again. I was downing Tylenol like it was my job, and it didn’t seem to be touching them. I tossed and turned, took a hot bath, and paced the house until 8:00am. Keep in mind it was also Daylight Savings Time, so when the rest of the country was enjoying their extra hour of sleep, I was enjoying my extra hour of labor. Miserable. Matt was sleeping soundly the entire time…lucky him! But I knew that if I woke him up there was nothing he could do anyway, and if we did happen to go to the hospital later that day I wanted him to be rested. But at 8:00 that morning he found me downstairs, kneeling over an ottoman, crying my eyes out because of the pain. I had been having 45 second contractions, 4-5 minutes apart since 3am. I was exhausted and frustrated because nothing in me wanted to go to the hospital just to be turned away again. I was determined not to go back until Tuesday when I knew they would induce me and let me stay. However, there’s a reason God gives us parents to impart wisdom to us when we’re not thinking clearly. My dad texted me at this point and asked me how I was doing. I replied “awful.” This was followed by a phone call from my mom telling me to GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW. I was being stubborn, but we packed up our stuff again and loaded into the car to go. Neither one of us were excited because we just knew we would be turned away again. I was in so much pain at this point that I just didn’t care anymore.

We got to the hospital around 10:00 am and went through the routine of checking in and waiting for them to see how much I was dilated. When they finally came in to check me I WAS 4 CENTIMETERS!! We both almost cried. Actually, I think I did cry. They admitted me to a Labor and Delivery room and called my doctor. We couldn’t believe it. We were going to have a baby TODAY!

For the rest of the story, see part two.

Her Name

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Say hello to our sweet little Adalynn Grace. Good grief she’s cute. At 30 weeks my doctor ordered an extra ultrasound for me because I was measuring about 2 weeks ahead and she just wanted to make sure everything was okay in there. It was! And I got a bonus picture of our little girl out of it. Of course, she’s being shy (or stubborn) and wouldn’t move her hands out of her face for the picture, but I still think she’s the most beautiful child I’ve ever seen. That nose and those pouty lips! I just can’t wait to kiss her whole face!

Anyway, many people have been so sweet and encouraging about the name we chose for her. I wanted to put a little background to why we chose it and what our prayer for this little one is. For as long as I’ve known I was going to marry Matt, I decided that if the Lord ever gave us a little girl I wanted her middle name to be Grace. It’s becoming such a popular name, but that doesn’t take away the meaning for me. Grace has been so evident in our lives. God’s grace saved us through Jesus. God’s grace brought the two of us together despite much different pasts that would typically be enough to keep us apart. Grace has carried us throughout our relationship and marriage. And grace is what we depend on to carry out God’s call on our lives. It’s a beautiful word. Full of promise. So Grace has always been chosen as the middle name of our first daughter, because we want her life to be driven by Grace as well.

The name Adalynn was less planned, but has stuck with us. Matt and I were driving to the apple orchards for a Fall date last Fall of 2013 when we knew we were pregnant with our first child but didn’t know yet that we had already lost him/her (I still wish we had confirmation on the gender of our first baby, but the Lord still hasn’t chosen to reveal that information to us). We were blissfully driving along, dreaming of being parents and talking about all sorts of names. Genuinely, I don’t remember who, one of us came up with the name Adalynn out of the blue. Neither of us had heard it before, but we immediately loved it.

Several weeks later, after losing our baby and walking through that season, we started looking at the meanings of names again, so that we could name our heaven baby. In the process of doing this, I remembered that we loved Adalynn, so I looked it up.

Adalynn is a feminine name that means “noble and beautiful.” I thought…oh my goodness. That’s perfect. If the Lord ever gives us a baby girl to raise this side of heaven, that will be her name for sure. Matt completely agreed and from that moment on, that was our “one day” baby name. Fast forward to this pregnancy just a few months later, and Matt and I both had strong feelings that I was carrying our sweet Adalynn. And the Lord was so precious and saw fit for this to be her. We couldn’t be more thankful.

Our prayer for our Adalynn Grace is that she be a woman of NOBLE character, a BEAUTIFUL spirit, and full of GRACE and truth. We pray that she is set apart for the glory of God, determined to take the Gospel to all she comes in contact with, and to be a beautiful reflection of Jesus Christ. Please join us in praying these things over our daughter, as well as that she comes to know Jesus at a very early age so that she will know the goodness of the Lord and be a faithful witness all of her days.

We can’t wait to meet you face to face, baby girl. Your Mom and Dad love you SO much.

Bump Update: 22 weeks!

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How far along: 22 weeks! I was supposed to do these bump updates every 2 weeks but obviously that hasn’t been happening…but I’m SO SO SO excited to be OVER HALFWAY!
Gender: Girl! Our sweet little Adalynn Grace 🙂
Weight gain: Do I have to answer this again?! 20 pounds okay? Ahhh. Even though my doctor says I’m doing great I’m just glad I’ve hit somewhat of a plateau. I haven’t gained any in about 2 weeks! That’s a win right?!
Maternity clothes: 100% of the time. I was blessed to borrow a whole lot of clothes from friends, but my work attire is getting slim. Dresses and cotton maxi skirts, for the win! I’m also carrying what feels like REALLY high. Which you would think would make pants fit better/longer, but quite the opposite is true. If I can’t wear full panel maternity pants/skirts, I’m miserable.
Stretch Marks: Except for a tiny few here and there, so far so good!
Belly button in or out: Let’s call it shallow. Reallllllly shallow.
Sleep: Tricky. Some nights are okay, other nights are terrible. I constantly have to have a pillow between my legs and I wake up every 2 hours or so to readjust, but I know it could be worse. The hardest part is getting comfortable but I sleep pretty well once I’m situated.
Best moment this week: Matt getting to consistently feel her kick! It’s one thing for me to feel her, it’s a whole other excitement when I see his face light up when he feels her kick 
Worst moment this week: I’ve had a catch in my lower back (completely unrelated to pregnancy) that has been bothering me for a few days. However, because I’m pregnant, I’m not able to move and stretch how I normally would to pop it back in place and it’s driving me crazy.
Miss anything: Sleeping on flat on my stomach still. I also miss being able to run up the stairs without feeling winded.
Movement: Feeling her kick is the greatest thing in the world! I pretty much feel her every day, but sometimes she is more active than others. I know the girl’s gotta sleep to grow, but mama gets worried!  Sometimes it tickles, and other times I just sit and stare down at my belly and watch it move. It’s the most amazing and crazy thing all at the same time.
Symptoms: Acne…everywhere. I think my skin is just getting worse and worse. My face, chest, shoulders, arms, back…you name it and there’s acne. I just ordered some soap that is supposed to dramatically help, so hopefully on my next update I can say that it has!
Cravings: I wish I had a more exciting answer for this. People ask me all the time. But I haven’t had any consistent cravings. Every once in a while I’ll think, Mmm ice cream! A cheeseburger! A Publix sub with tons of mayo and mustard! But nothing has been consistent. Although I have been eating a ton of raspberries and blueberries because I’m positive she’s more active when I eat those and that’s just fun.
Queasy or sick: Not too bad lately. I’m enjoying it while I can!
Looking forward to: Buying her crib and starting on the nursery! My husband being off in the summers is so great because we have more time to work on it. So the next step is to clean out the room we’ll be using (because up until now it’s been a collect-all room), and then start putting pieces together a little bit at a time!

Bump Update: 16 Weeks!

For the record, I’m not doing one of these week by week posts because I necessarily feel like it, but I’m doing it because I feel like I’ll be really glad I did once little baby Renney makes his/her arrival and I can’t remember anything from the previous 9 months of my life. One thing is for sure, pregnancy brain is a REAL thing and I’ve been assured it doesn’t go away once you have the baby. From then on it’s just known as “mommy brain” and there’s no hope of going back.

So without further ado, and for all of my friends and family out of state who don’t get to see me very much, an update!

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  • How far along: 16 weeks! I can’t believe I’m already 2 weeks into the second trimester. I literally never thought I would get here but now that I am, I feel like it’s going so fast!
  • Gender: We don’t know yet, but we’ll find out next week!! Matt and I both have a strong feeling about what it is, so if we’re wrong we’ll be completely shocked. You’ll have to wait for my next update to find out though!
  • Weight gain: A sickening, embarrassing, ridiculous 13.5 lbs. I don’t even want to talk about it. But I will. In my defense, my entire first trimester I couldn’t eat anything but protein and carbs. Vegetables and fruit made me sicker than ever, and I had to eat ALL THE TIME in order to even keep the food down. Thankfully, the weigh gaining has slowed quite a bit in the last 2 weeks. 11 of those pounds all happened in the first trimester. Yeah…
  • Maternity clothes: I am absolutely LOVING maternity clothes. Maybe I’m enjoying them so much already because I’ve gained more than baby weight, but either way, they are NICE. I was so blessed by some friends who lent me a LARGE amount of clothing that coincides with the season and I’ve only had to buy a few pieces here and there. Today I’m going shopping for a maternity swimsuit and I can tell you that I’m definitely not looking forward to that.
  • Stretch Marks: Some, but not on my belly yet. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. However, my mother in law gave me some special oil that she ordered that is supposed to help and she knows people who have used it and they never got stretch marks their entire pregnancy, so I’ve started using that and praying it at least slows the process.
  • Belly button in or out: In. We’d have problems if it was already out.
  • Sleep: It was rough the first trimester, who knows why. But it’s gotten better for the most part. I used to NEVER get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, so waking up between 3:00-4:00 in the morning every single night has definitely been something to get used to. But I’m thankful it’s just once right now and that I’m able to go right back to sleep afterwards. I’ve also always been a stomach sleeper so I started sleeping with a pillow propped under one leg and that has really helped a lot.
  • Best moment this week: So far, scheduling our gender reveal appointment. Something about it actually being on the calendar makes it so much more real!
  • Worst moment this week: Nights are still pretty rough in general. I usually look like I’m at least 25 weeks pregnant at night because I’m so bloated and I still get nauseous starting around 8:30, but I usually just go to bed and sleep it off, so that’s really not too bad.
  •  Miss anything: Sleeping on flat on my stomach and doing ab workouts. I know, that second one is weird, but it’s funny how when you’re not allowed to do something, you suddenly can’t stop thinking about how much you want to do it! I just remember this time last year I was probably in the best shape of my life after doing 30 Day Shred with my friend Kelsey, and I do miss feeling so much more fit. BUT, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. All of this weight gaining and not fitting in my normal clothes will be worth it when I’m holding my sweet precious baby in my arms.
  •  Movement: I KNOW I’ve felt some flutters. And I have for a few weeks. Random, tiny, little flutters. People say you can’t this early, especially with your first, but I know my body well enough to know what’s normal and what is a little bit different than anything I’ve ever felt before. Also, I love it. I can’t wait for the movement to be undeniable and all the time.
  •  Symptoms: I’ve been doing much better lately. Only nauseous as nighttime and I’ve got way more energy than I did first trimester. Definitely not pre-pregnancy energy but any improvement is welcomed. Also, pregnancy brain. I feel like I can’t remember anything these days. Matt finds it hilarious.
  •  Cravings: It’s different every day, but you can pretty much always count on anything cold and fruity. Popsicles, watermelon, raspberry lemonade, snow cones, Mmmm. Also, salt. I love salty things. I’ve cut back a LOT because when my fingers were getting so swollen that I couldn’t get my rings off, I knew it was time to make some major adjustments. Most consistently is any type of potatoes (baked, french fries, hashbrowns, tator tots, etc.), and pickles.
  • Queasy or sick: Mostly just queasy and just at night but I’ve learned my lesson about thinking I’m “done” being sick. Every time I think I won’t throw up anymore, typically that day I do. So I’m not counting on ever being finished.
  •  Looking forward to: This weekend we are going to my grandmother’s cabin on Smith Lake in Alabama. We went last year on Memorial Day and I’ve been looking forward to going back ever since. It’s the oldest cabin without any bells and whistles that my grandfather built by himself BY HAND, and that’s exactly what I love about it. It really requires you to disconnect and rest when you go and I couldn’t be more excited. My aunt and uncle and mom are going as well so I’m looking forward to some nice family time and some home cooked meals 🙂

Baby Renney coming November 2014!

I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to be writing this post. Obviously, we’ve already made our announcement, but the fact that we’re having a BABY deserves to be announced again! Matt and I will be welcoming a little baby Renney around November 4th this year and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

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For those of you who have followed our story, you know that we lost our first baby last November. To try to put into words the pain of that situation is impossible, but it’s amazing how through that the Lord has multiplied our joy in Him and in this new season of experiencing LIFE again. Last fall I was challenged like never before to pray without ceasing and to be bold in my prayers. It was a season of extreme valleys, but so much growth which led to amazing mountain tops.

Never before have I seen the Lord so specifically answer prayers. Matt and I were praying to get pregnant in February, and we did. We were elated and timid all wrapped up in two very cautious and excited individuals. I wanted so badly to be just as thrilled as I was last time, but it was hard not knowing what would happen with this baby. But the Lord was so faithful and patient with me in my doubts, and He answered prayers in ways He didn’t have to, but chose to just because He’s so good. The night before our first appointment, I was driving home by myself, and just broke down sobbing in the car. The radio was off and I was having a very candid, out-loud conversation with the Lord. I needed assurance everything was going to be okay. When just 4 months prior I had so much excitement going to my very first ultrasound appointment ever, and left with more heartbreak than I thought I could handle, it was hard to imagine a different outcome this time around. But after I poured out my heart to the Lord begging him for a strong heartbeat for this baby, I turned on the radio again and “God’s Great Dance Floor” by Chris Tomlin had just begun. The words that pierced my heart were “we feel Your heart, Your heartbeat for us…. I feel alive, I come alive, I am alive…” –now I’m not one to take things out of context, but I KNEW that this was from the Lord. So going into our appointment the next day, I was nervous, but oddly confident that everything was going to be okay. And it WAS! God had answered our prayer. Our little bean was 6 weeks and 3 days old but already had a heart rate of 124 bpm. On the way home I was telling Matt about the candid conversation I had had with God the night before and how that song ministered so much to me…and wouldn’t you know, right then the song came BACK on the radio as a sort of confirmation that God heard our prayers. I was brought to utter tears, knowing that the Lord cared so deeply for us and for this little life He began, and I couldn’t have been more overwhelmed.

Our next appointment was when I was 9 weeks. Again, I was completely nervous going to that one as well, because we found out we had lost our first baby at our 9 week appointment just a few months prior. So Matt and I prayed, candidly and openly again, and wouldn’t you know, “God’s Great Dance Floor” started playing through our speakers on the drive to the doctor’s office. I burst into tears, knowing the Lord was telling me that everything was going to be okay. And it WAS. Our baby had grown significantly over the course of the previous 3 weeks and the heart rate was a whopping 181 bpm. I couldn’t believe it. The sound of that precious heart beating was music to our ears. I’ve never heard anything so beautiful. And we even got to see our sweet little babe wiggling all over the ultrasound screen! Their little tiny arms were just wiggling back and forth and I almost died at the cuteness of it all.

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Fast forward another 3 weeks, and we had our next appointment scheduled. A week before, I had begun spotting a little bit. It terrified me. I couldn’t believe we had almost made it out of the danger zone of the 1st trimester and this was happening. I called my doctor at 11:00 at night and she just told me to rest, take a few days off my feet, and monitor everything closely. Praise the Lord, it only happened once and I never experienced any cramping. So on our way to our next appointment, I was nervous again, but my sweet husband kept assuring me that everything was perfectly fine. I had more confidence this time around, but until you see that picture and hear that heartbeat, a mama’s heart can only wonder. But as you all know, that appointment went beautifully as well! We saw our sweet baby’s profile and they probably have the cutest little button nose and chin I’ve EVER seen. It’s amazing to me how much they grow over such a short period of time. I constantly wonder at how amazing the developmental process is. ONLY GOD. Literally. I cannot understand how anyone can have a baby and not be drawn to the Lord. He is the Creator of Life and only He can sustain it.

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So to say we are excited is quite the understatement, and we want to give God all the glory for the great things He has done! I also want to say that for all of you who have responded and commented on Facebook and Instagram, THANK YOU for your encouraging and congratulatory words. I have been brought to tears several times reading through your comments of how you’ve been praying for us and how excited you are that we are getting to experience this amazing season. Thank you. If you read this and you desire to continue to pray for us, please do. Our next appointment is May 21st and I’ll be 16 weeks at that point. We love you ALL and are so grateful for the way you have prayed for us and with us through this journey over the last 6 months and for the confidence we have that you’ll continue to. To God be the glory!

 “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!” Psalm 126:3

My Nomadic Work Life

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(original photo source)

Roots. Settling down. Stillness. Comfort zone. Routine. All words that do not describe my current career life. It’s amazing to me that I went to college for 4 years, earned a degree that I absolutely loved, graduated with honors, and since then have spent the last 2.5 years working as a nanny for several different families. I’m not complaining. It’s just funny how God works. More often than I’d like to admit, I question the Lord and ask Him WHY? And very rarely does He give me a clear answer. I realize that I have used my degree in Biblical studies and Women’s Ministry in a variety of capacities since graduating, but nothing full time, and not at all how I envisioned my career path would look when I was actually getting my education.

Instead, I’ve had a very nomadic career these past 2.5 years. I’ve worked for 4 different families over the course of 30 months, which averages out to be looking for a new job, interviewing, and accepting brand new positions every 7.5 months. MONTHS! As soon as I get in my groove with one family, it’s time to pick up and leave again, venturing on to a whole new family in a new home, new city, new set of rules, and new ways to discipline. To say I’m exhausted from this is an understatement. To say it has stretched my faith and reliance on the Lord is a whole ‘notha level- which, I believe, might have been His purpose all along.

However, it’s still quite comical to me how much I stress and worry about the future as one job comes to a close and I have to begin looking for a new job again. I wonder if I’ll EVER find a job in my preferred interest of ministry. I wonder if I’ll ever make a certain amount financially that would not only help us pay bills, but stinkin pay off all those student loans that I had to get in order to even get my degree in the first place. I wonder if I’ll ever work close enough to home to not spend 30 minutes to an hour driving to and from work. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to branch out and find a type of work that would allow me to stay home with any future children we may have. Yet in all my questioning and wondering, I am reminded that the Lord has NEVER failed me. Never not provided. Never allowed us to get in such a tight spot that we can’t pay our bills or student loans. Never have we ever not had food on our table.

Even if my nomadic job state is not ideal and not what I would choose, deep down I’m grateful. Because the Lord provides through the most unexpected ways and He always keeps us dependent on Him, which if I’m honest, there’s no place else I’d rather be.