pregnant

Irreverent reverence…

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Last Sunday night I went to St. Mark’s on Capital Hill with a friend to listen to the Monks chant. This is something that I used to do on my own as well as with Bryan during university. Since moving back I have wanted to go again and experience the peace and calmness that this environment produces. In this massive church you have bodies sitting upright in pews, other sprinkled in the exterior benches and some laying down on the floor on the blanket they brought for the occasion. It is holy and unconventional. Reverent in it’s irreverence. People from all walks of life come, in silence, contemplation and respect of each other. God is clearly sang about and praised yet I imagine not everyone who attends proclaims to be a follower of Jesus. Yet when they enter this space they, in what some may consider irreverence, join in the reverence and stand, sit and lay in awe. They pause and marvel. Both those who are convinced and those still searching. It’s a beautiful illustration of the inclusiveness of Christ. He was not offended by those who did not profess him to be the Christ nor should we be offended.

This evening as I played with the boys and gave them their bath I began to think of all the areas of irreverent reverence my life encompasses, especially when it comes to my boys. So much of motherhood is finding the sacred in the ordinary. It’s finding the reverence and worship in changing the poopy nappy or wiping a dirty little face clean of food. It’s tidying up the messes that these little people create everywhere they go with a patient attitude considering it all as acts of worship. My life is full of activities that are irreverent or could be considered so, except I don’t. I choose to worship with play, with dirt, with slides and dirty hands. I worship with a tired and exhausted body that falls into bed muttering a prayer asking for a full night of uninterrupted sleep. (yes, I still pray that prayer.)

I love the pictures I have shared in this post. The bath scene is one of my favourites. My boys, initiated by Kidran, exit the bath and run into my arms. They dry off the front of their wet bodies with my clothes and I let them. They nestle in close and I hum in their ears. These are holy moments. Yes Lord, they are. When we wrestle or get ready in the morning we are together. Sometimes they pound down the door until I open it when I am doing my hair and makeup. They just want to be where I am. That is where I am moving towards with my Father. I just want to be where He is. I am asking Him to help me see the reverence in all the irreverent areas of my life. Would you consider doing the same? I would love to hear how you approach this new way of thinking and living. How do you do it? How does it change your view of your precious life? I look forward to hearing from you!

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The Necklace…

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Last night I gave our two energetic boys a bath. While they played in the bath I put fresh sheets on our bed. I could hear Cohen whining a bit so I went back into the bathroom to find that Cohen (it’s always Cohen) had pooped in the bath. Thus a fresh bath was drawn and the boys enjoyed having more time to splash and play. Once Cohen was dried and in his PJ’s, he headed downstairs to watch a show while I got Kidran out to get him ready for bed. In the moments while I dried him off, I lifted him up to put his arms into his PJ’s. Each time I tried to put his arm into his sleeve he leaned into me and hugged me tight. This went on for five minutes at least. He would lean out, look at me, smile and then lean in for another tight squeeze. Of course my Momma’s heart melted. These are the moments I am sure Mary pondered in her heart. These are the moments that feel like I am touching heaven. In these moments, I am the reality of a dream so long sought after. I am a mother, who is holding her precious child. These are also the moments I hoped for that caused me so much pain at times as I wondered if they would ever come to be.

Flashback to the image above. The one of me wearing a beautifully crafted necklace, eyes closed tightly, touching my swollen bump while multiple hands pour out heartfelt prayers over me. I remember that moment so clearly. It was two days before my scheduled C-Section. I was uncomfortably large, feeling sharper pains by the day, anticipating the arrival of our two miracles. The women hosting my baby shower and those attending had walked this painfully long journey of infertility with me. These babies were as much theirs as they were mine. Each of them had cried with or for me at some stage, prayed and longed for the day when they would see me become a mother. In that moment I had the privilege of representing hope fulfilled, no longer hope deferred.

After a nine year wait I knew what it meant to experience hope deferred. At times I wanted to throw hope into the sea and never think of it again. I couldn’t squelch my hope though, which if I’m honest was annoying. My hope kept rising, kept resurfacing, kept appearing.

Over those difficult years I wore the necklace you see in that picture. I used to rub it between my fingers as I prayed for our future children. I used it as the image for a women’s conference at our church and now I even have it tattooed on my wrist. So many people knew of this necklace, they knew of its significance to me. The necklace was a timely gift from my dear friend Ailsa during one of my lowest points. I treasured the generous gift from the moment I received it and the necklace became a reminder of hope. A hope that was strong, resilient and based on the promise from a good God that someday I would be a mother. It brought me strength on days when I didn’t believe or couldn’t believe it would happen. It reminded me on days when I wanted to forget. It brought me comfort when I needed it the most. In many ways it was my own Ebenezer stone, reminding me of all God had done so far in my life, and encouraging me to keep believing for what He hadn’t done. It kept my flickering flame of a dwindling hope alive when the circumstances of our situation nearly snuffed that flame out.

I will not lie to you and say that this hope was easy to carry. It was not. Some days it felt like a ton weight placed on my back. This hope caused me to question my faith, caused me to correct some faulty doctrines in my own belief system, this hope caused me to relinquish the way in which I saw myself as a mother and allowed me to open my heart to many other forms of mothering. Some of you may be at the beginning of a very long journey, one which may be causing you much heartache. Some of you may be in the middle and some of you may be approaching the end of a difficult period of time. Where is your hope? Do you need more hope today? What would remind you, visually of God’s faithfulness and character on the days when you need it the most? What would ignite your own hope fire? Whatever it is, find it, use it, do it and keep at it.

After the boys went to bed last night, I looked down at my wrist. My symbol of hope has been birthed into two, vivacious boys. My hope that was deferred has been resurrected in abundance. I could not and would not have planned the way my hope was fulfilled and most likely you can’t either. This is the way of Jesus and His mystery. He has a third way for you as He did for me. Your situation or circumstances are not unchangeable. Yet your outcome may look very different to what you are dreaming. So today, as you look at the picture of my wrist, with this tattoo forever marking this personal journey for me, look also at my open hand. Keep your hands open to that which God may place in it. Open up your dreams and your hopes, because most likely what He has in store is far better than you could dream up yourself!

Forever changed…forever blessed!

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On the 1st September 2014, Bryan and I welcomed the arrival of our two beautiful sons. Kidran J Caleb Chud was born at 11:48am weighing 5lbs6oz and Cohen V Ryan Chud was born at 11:49am weighing 5lbs1oz. From the moment we heard Kidran and Cohen’s first cries our lives were forever changed. The boys are incredible! They are handsome, sweet, have reasonably chilled attitudes so far but with very distinctive personalities. We are in love! Hours are spent each day simply staring at their perfection and the blessing that they represent in our lives from God. We are caught in the web of not wanting them to grow up already yet longing to see how they change and develop in time. Each day is precious whether it be an easy day or a difficult one. We are living each moment as much as we can and enjoying the journey. Thankfully this has been made easier by the help of my giving and generous parents who are here for 6 weeks. We also had the privilege of our good friend Molly Olsen coming and helping us get onto pure breastfeeding for a whole week! The help doesn’t end there as Bryan’s mum Lynda arrives the beginning of October to stay for 3 months. It has been such a huge adjustment having our two wee bundles at home but we are loving it. We have been inundated with such extreme generosity from our family, church family and friends both here and in America and feel incredibly fortunate that so many people are celebrating the birth of our boys with us! Thank you to each person who has blessed us!!!!

There is so much I could say but my brain won’t really allow me too and there’s not a lot of time as the boys feed every 3 hours at the moment. (Totally worth the sleep deprivation as Kidran now weighs 6lbs1oz and Cohen weighs 5lbs15oz!) As you can imagine there have been so many moments that have wrecked both Bryan and I when we contemplate the road we have travelled to arrive where we are. God’s faithfulness displayed in such splendor is almost too much at times to take in! Yet one of my favourite moments that comes to mind is the day we brought our boys home from the hospital. As we drove down the M1 back to Dungannon Bryan played an album by Kristine Mueller- Those Who Dream. (If you can, buy this album! You will not be sorry!) The album has special significance to us as it was played non-stop during our first two failed attempts at IVF. A few years on we lost the album when our computer crashed. This Christmas Bryan was able to get it again and as we moved forward with another round of treatment the songs took on greater meaning. One of the lyrics talks about God making us into mountains that cannot be moved or shaken. Throughout our journey to start our family we have felt God so close and had many ‘thin place’ experiences. We do not believe He orchestrated our struggle to have a family but we do believe He walked through it with us. He used the experience to make us into mountains. Mountains that display the grandeur of God’s faithfulness and His attention to every detail of our lives. Through the process we have become stronger, our faith more solid than ever before. Things that used to shake us or tried to move us have less of a hold. That does not mean what lies ahead will be easy or we will be unshaken. Still we have the promise of God always being with us and this settles my heart and mind. Another lyric states this fact: ‘Over and over, you prove yourself faithful’. As we drove home with our physical representations of God’s promises fulfilled, we were both overwhelmed by God’s proof of being faithful. Our eyes filled with tears, our hearts beat that much fuller and we knew we had met with God, we had experienced one of the holiest moments of our lives.

So here are a few pictures of our beautiful boys! They are from the first week so already they have changed and grown so much but I wanted to capture them this way as much as we could! Enjoy!!!

Labour Day…

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I will keep this post short as it is already 11:14pm and we have to be at the hospital for 6:45am tomorrow morning. We can’t believe it is the night before our boys make their way into this world! I don’t know if you can fully let the reality of these moments sink in and properly digest them. We feel excited, terrified, so ready to meet our boys yet nervous all at the same time. I am pretty sure these are all the appropriate emotions for becoming parents and bringing new lives into this world. Yet we are so incredibly thankful to have experienced this whole journey so far and for the future of raising our children, God’s gifts, in a way that points them to Him.

The picture above is from Saturday 30th August at our Northern Irish Baby Shower. Baby Showers are not the norm here so I was thrilled when my good friends Julie and Chelle decided to throw us one. We had brunch, played a few fun games, opened gifts and then the wonderful women of our community surrounded me and prayed for us. As people shared, the tears began to flow. This has been such a long journey and at times felt like our prayers to have a family would not be answered. So many people have walked this with us, cried with us and petitioned God on our behalf. Still over the years God has continued to speak to us about our family. It never felt that God was saying ‘No’, just ‘Not yet’. Hearing other people share their perspectives of our journey was so special, moving and encouraging. We have had moments of discouragement, disillusionment, hurt and frustration but more than that we have been convinced of God’s faithfulness to us in the midst of pain, suffering and hardship. Yes, there is so much pain in this world that far surpasses ours but God is so personal that He always met us where we were, wept with us and journeyed with us. Never once did He leave us alone.

Tomorrow morning we will wake up early, get into our new miracle car (thanks to the Fentons), drive up the M1 to Craigavon Hospital, check into the Assessment Unit at 6:45am and hopefully find out what time our section will be at. Then through the hands of our skilled surgeon and team of medical staff we will meet our beautiful baby boys whom we are already in love with. Our hearts will be full whilst overwhelmed at the responsibility we will possess in caring for these two precious human beings. We cannot wait to introduce you all to our boys!!!! Bringing them home will be one of the greatest moments we have experienced. Then they will get to meet their Grandparents and so many others who love them already. Our story has been incredible already and we cannot wait to see how much our lives will be challenged and enriched by this next step. God, you have so much more to teach us.

So boys, your Dad and Mom can’t wait to meet you, see your faces, hold you, cuddle you, feed you, change your bums, wipe your tears away, discipline you, teach you things…but most importantly love you unconditionally every day!!!  Happy Birthday- 1st September, 2014!!!

32 weeks and counting!!!!

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Looking back at the blog I see that it has now been nearly two months since I last posted anything!!! Where does the time go? It seems like so much has happened since my last post and I will do my best to condense it. The two new pictures are of me with some of my fellow prego mommies!! Our church seems to be having a baby boom as there are a few ladies not even in this pic from our church who are pregnant. There is also another girl pregnant with twins so we have had fun comparing notes. I think it is a sign that God truly is up to something magnificent and big for the upcoming years as these little boys and girls grow up in His presence!

Shortly after the last entry Bryan and I went and stayed two nights in Belfast at the Europa Hotel to celebrate our 12 year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that it has been 12 years since we said ‘I do’ but a lot has happened to fill those years. We had a wonderful, relaxing time in Belfast. The highlight would have to be our anniversary journals. One of our wedding gifts when we got married were two journals, one for each of us. The couple who gave them to us encouraged us to write about each year of our marriage and then share that with each other as part of our anniversary traditions. We have done this each year and found it to be tedious yet rewarding and this year was no different. Although there was a difference. In our entries over the years we have written about our trials and the ups and downs of our journey to start a family. Sharing those entries has been bittersweet at times as we were never blind to the fact that we still had not been able to start a family yet we always were overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, presence and extreme blessings in our lives. This year we sat in the piano bar at the Europa Hotel, with the World Cup muted in the background and read to each other our view of this last year. As we did, we both sat with tears streaming down our faces at the miraculous events that had taken place in our lives namely us finally getting pregnant. It felt so monumental for our journey and seems to us like a script that not even Hollywood could write. God does love a good story and He is the giver of good gifts and good surprises and we are proof of that. After all the years of waiting, of hoping, of crying, of anger, of pain…at the end was a beautiful picture of resurrection. (If you own Nathan Chud’s album Moratorium, now would be a good time to listen to resurrection.) Jesus had taken our dead and buried dreams and brought them back to life in fullness! Thank you Father for hearing every prayer and giving us this privilege of become parents and having a family!

After our time in Belfast we came back to Dungannon for church that Sunday morning. Bryan celebrated his first Father’s Day and it was awesome to experience!! That brings us into July where we had people come and stay with us nearly every weekend of the month. We enjoyed the time catching up with friends and family whom we have not seen for quite some time but I must admit I was a little tired by the end of it and have enjoyed time with just Bryan since everyone has gone.

Something else marked July for us unfortunately and that was the death of my beloved Grandpa Maier on the 10th July, 2014. My Grandpa was one of my favourite people and growing up I respected him so much and that only grew as I became an adult. He loved people, served people and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. More importantly he was a man who gave his entire being to Jesus and was so passionately in love with Jesus that he couldn’t help but be a contagious spreader of the love of Christ. I always said to him that I wanted a double portion of what he had and my Mom kindly reminded me that I had been given that double portion, God had given us two boys! When he passed he was surrounded by my lovely Grandma Ardith, my Mom and her sisters and the entire Maier clan. They sang old hymns and songs to him, they told him their favourite memories and was there until he breathed his last. Moments like this make the distance between us and the rest of my family so very big and hard. I just wanted to be there with my Mom, my Grandma and the rest of my family who were grieving the loss of this incredible patriarch. I wanted to cry with them, tell stories with them, relive our best moments with Grandpa Maier (him tickle/pinching us as kids, making us wooden toys, him leading the Lion of Judah at convention, him preaching at Fellowship Tabernacle, the list goes on and on). I just wanted to be with my family. So being heavily pregnant was probably the only good excuse I could use to justify to myself not being there with all of them. Thankfully Brent, my eldest brother, organized to have the funeral streamed so I was able to witness the celebration of his life and his incredible legacy. I will miss and love you forever Grandpa, thank you for showing me what a life centered around Jesus looks like and the fulfillment that only He can bring to this life looks like. You will never be replaced but always remembered.

Now we are into August and I am 32 weeks today! This baffles me! The time has flown by and outside of the whole appendix episode, the pregnancy has gone really well. I have been enjoying feeling more movements from the boys as they are now estimated to weigh 4lbs 3oz and 4lbs 10oz! So when they move it is no longer a gentle nudge or tap but feels more like a wrestling match is going on inside of my stomach! We have made great strides in getting the nursery set up for the boys arrival thanks to the generosity of so many and even have the hospital bag and nappy bag packed in case I go into preterm labour. I am scheduled to have another scan on the 28th August and will then get a date for my C-section.

I have also finished up my job which was a wonderful job during this time but my body was ready to rest. Over here it is quite common for women to finish work a month before their due date to rest and prepare for the arrival of the baby/ies and I am so thankful to be living here because of this! I know it’s not that way for my American friends. At work they made me a sweet little peanut butter and buttercream iced cake that said Yummy Mummy on it and we all had a coffee break together, it was very sweet. Now it is time to get the rest of the nursery set up, try to make a few meals for the freezer and clean the house from top to bottom (which because of the lack of negotiating I can do with the bump will take me probably two weeks)!!! There is always the chance that the babies could come earlier than planned which is okay as their weights are getting up there and we have already had the steroid injections to mature their lungs. Yet it would be nice to have my Mom and Dad here before they come or at least as soon as they arrive. I know we can’t control this aspect of pregnancy so we are trusting that they will come when they are ready and healthy enough to be brought home.

To finish this long overdue and lengthy update I wanted to share a very sweet moment I had the other evening. Bryan was playing a chilled out song on the guitar that was beautiful and as he was playing I was folding the baby clothes that I have washed so far and picking out which pieces I would pack for the hospital. As I stood their in that moment, tears began to fill my eyes. The complete reality of what I was doing hit me. I was folding the clothes that our little boys will wear. Our boys. Not someone else’s miracles but ours, the two gifts that God has blessed us with. It was one of those surreal moments that felt like time stood still. My heart felt like it could explode in gratitude and joy! I paused and thanked God for every prayer He heard, for every tear He kept and for releasing His Kingdom power into our lives in this way at this time. It was precious and not a moment I will ever forget. Bryan came in a few minutes later and we both stood, hugging, in awe of what these little clothes represented in our story. Thank you Abba!

If you would like to pray for us here are a few prayer points that we would love you to partner with us in:
*Pray for continued healthy development of the boys and that they will come only when they are healthy, strong and ready to come home.
*Pray for us to find a new car that will be more suitable for our growing family needs:)
*Pray for job opportunities for Bryan to come up.
*Pray for the safe arrival of our family and friends who are so graciously coming to help support us through the first few months of becoming parents, hallelujah!!!
*Pray that the delivery, whatever way it happens, is smooth and uncomplicated.

Thank you for your continued support!!!

Boys it is!!!!!

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Boys it is!!!!!

We have had our 20 week scan and are delighted to announce that we will be having two boys!!! They were very proud and showed off quite a bit for us. My good friend Lynne Archer came with me to the appointment since Bryan was in Austria. It was lovely to be able to share in that moment with Lynne as she is one of the many friends who has carried our burden with us over the years so thank you Lynne! The scan was so much fun! The woman performing it was great and explained everything as she went and she was very happy with everything she saw. The boys are growing well and developing at the right rate so praise God for two beautiful, healthy boys!! The first picture above is two of our scan photos. As you can see they look quite different already which is wonderful and as soon as I saw their profiles I just fell in love!!! I cannot wait to kiss their lips and faces and just cuddle them! Bryan was so excited too and I know it was difficult for him to not be here for such a memorable moment but we have made the best out of this time and are feeling thankful for God’s continued provision and for this blessing we are experiencing.
The next two pics give you an idea of how much I am growing! I feel huge at times and have put on probably around 25lbs. I am taking it all in stride though as I am amazed at what the human body can do. The fact that I can grow and sustain the lives of these two little ones never ceases to amaze me! Thankfully I am now experiencing more pregnancy symptoms than anything else. There are still times where I can feel the scar tissue trying to stretch as the babies are growing but overall it’s not too bad. One of my favourite pregnancy symptoms is the movement of the babies! I love feeling each kick and punch. Feels like assurance that all is okay and that they are healthy, just very special.
This week is a pretty big one for us as Bryan arrives home Wednesday evening!!!! The boys and I are so excited to have their Daddy back and start working on the nursery and getting everything ready for the babies arrival. (The last pic shows a bit of what we have collected for them so far, much of it is thanks to my amazing family who threw us a baby shower before we left the states!) Bryan completed his course and passed with flying colours and I am so proud of all that he accomplished while he was away!! He truly amazes me with his ability to learn and absorb so much information in such a short time as well as his heart for people. I know he is going to be an incredible father as he already is a great husband! I also start back to work this week so I am looking forward to seeing everyone again and having a bit of routine back in my life.
Overall my heart feels full. We are in such a precious season of life and are surrounded by incredible people who have blessed us in more ways then we can count (ie. Sunday lunches at the McCammon’s, Cheryl Roberts coming and hoovering for me to keep the house nice and tidy-to name a few). Our church has truly been the church to us through this whole time. The generosity of so many has made me want to be more generous. I think knowing that we will be bringing two little lives into this world to shape and mould has made me look at our lives and ponder them. I want our boys to know how to be kind, how to be giving, how to be fun and spontaneous, adventurous and how to be intentional. More than anything though I want them to know Jesus. That has become very clear to me since becoming pregnant. Jesus is the central figure in Bryan and my life and that is the greatest legacy we can leave to our children. Not religion, not rules and regulation but a genuine and real relationship with the Creator of the universe.
My prayer is this: Abba, our children are yours. We give them back to you and thank you for entrusting them to us. Thank you!!!!!!

20 weeks!!!

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The big scan is coming up this Wednesday so we will find out for sure if it is two boys as they think it is. Very excited to see them for an extended period of time at the big scan and to see what they look like at this stage (more human than white blob:) ). This picture gives you an idea of what we are looking like at 20 weeks though. People keep saying the bump is growing everyday which I definitely feel. A wee prayer point though, please pray for the scar from the appendix that it will grow and stretch with the growth of these babies. Plus Bryan has only about 2 1/2 weeks left before he is home so I am delighted with that fact! I will also hopefully be going back to work after the 30th of May and seeing how long I can last. I have started collecting bits and pieces as well for the babies arrival and it feels nice to finally do something productive for them coming. Sitting and relaxing has been great but I have also gone into nesting mode, but don’t worry! I am not lifting/moving furniture as that will be Bryan’s job when he gets home. Now bring on Wednesday!!!!