Family

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!!!!!!

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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!!!!

The silence ends…

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Hello blog world! It has been nearly two months since I last updated the blog, embarrassing – yes, reasons to follow – yes. Once we arrived back in Northern Ireland we started working and life ticked on, fairly uneventful. We were reconnecting with old friends and some new ones. We were thankful for our jobs and God’s provision. At the end of March we celebrated Vineyard Church Dungannon’s 10 year anniversary which was extremely special and a bit emotional for me. In the years since we have been living here, a good chunk of that time has been spent pursuing the start of our family. Sitting, chatting with friends all while being pregnant that evening felt very much like the fulfillment of so many promises over the 10 years that we felt God had given us. We are so thankful that God called us here and included us in the mission, work and life blood of our church. It truly is the most incredible church we have been a part of and we have seen some good ones over the years. Yet the way our church lives out the Word of God, embodies Jesus and shares Him with this town has always been the hook that kept us here. We couldn’t ask or imagine a better church family to be a part of.

The pregnancy was going well, we were enjoying each day as it came and just living life. We then had our first scan here on the 7th of April which is the scan pic above (the bump pic of me in pink is also from around that same time, maybe a little later). The babies were growing well, all looked good and we even found out that it’s very likely we are having at least one boy!!! (Insert little squeal of delight here!!) Wow! That was such a surprise to be able to find out so early and also a huge blessing for both of us to share in that moment together as Bryan won’t be able to attend the Big Scan (he will be taking a ski instructing course in Austria).

From the 7th April to the 11th life was just life, nothing too eventful just enjoying each day. Then the evening of 11th April I came down with a tummy bug. Being pregnant has it’s own set of rules and one of those rules is that when you are pregnant any kind of sickness is at least 10 times worse (at least that was my experience for this bug). I don’t remember the last time I had been so ill and wretched so violently. I broke blood vessels around my eyes, on my forehead and neck due to the force in which I was being sick with. I will spare you the gorry details but let’s just say it wasn’t only the top of my body that suffered. So from Friday night to about Sunday the bug had knocked me flat on my back. Sunday evening I took extreme abdominal pain and thought death might be a better option (okay, slightly exaggerated but in the moment didn’t seem like a bad option). A few hours later the abdominal pain subsided, wasn’t just as intense but then localized to my lower right abdomen area. From Sunday night to Tuesday night I did little else other than lay on our couch in pain and watched TV. The effort and pain it caused to get up and move around was very unpleasant and things like going to the toilet or taking a bath were so hard. Tuesday night we realized maybe the soreness I was feeling was more than just muscle soreness from being so sick. Bryan gently tossed a blanket to me and it landed on my right abdomen where I was experiencing the most severe pain and I immediately burst into tears. At that point we both thought maybe this was worth going and checking out. We attended doctors on call at 11:40pm and they then sent me to the Craigavon Hospital and around 3am I was admitted.

By 5pm that same day the doctors and surgeons had decided that I needed to have surgery to remove my appendix. (Above is also a pic of my bump with the staples in after the surgery). At 7pm I was taken into surgery where they took two hours removing my appendix and cleaning up the areas in which it had spread, scraping around organs and the womb. Waking up from the anesthesia I saw Bryan and I was so relieved to see his face!!! The whole day leading up to the surgery I was drugged up and resting thankfully. So seeing his face at the end of the day was just wonderful! I wanted to hold his hand and know that he was there. By about 11pm that same night I was taken to the surgical ward and said goodnight to Bryan as well as Pete, Julie and Soph McCammon who had come up with Bryan for support. (Thank you McCammon’s!!!)

Thursday was a tough day as I was so sore and moving was difficult. (I was even beaten to the toilet by a little old man around 90. This made Bryan laugh so hard!) Thankfully Bryan came up Thursday and spent the whole day with me. Hospitals are pretty boring places when you are there for a few days so having Bryan and his energy around was just lovely! He also waited till midnight with me to have the scan of the babies post op but missed it as she didn’t come till nearly 1am! He would make me smile (not laugh as that was too painful) and made the day a whole lot brighter. I thankfully had visitors Thursday evening, Friday morning and then Friday afternoon before I was discharged. Having people come to see you when you can’t go anywhere is so important so if you have a friend or family member sick, in hospital or stuck at home or in a care facility, go visit them!

We were also fortunate during my stay at the hospital to have 4 additional scans to make sure the babies were okay which they were. They seemed totally un-phased by the whole ordeal which was nice to see. It’s never ideal to operate on a pregnant woman so the relief we both felt when we knew they were okay was quite great as you can imagine. These babies must be tough!

I got home Friday evening and have spent the last two and half weeks recovering. Thankfully the first week and a half home Bryan was here so he was looking after me between work and trying to get ready to go to Austria. Having a helpful and supportive spouse is one of God’s greatest gifts to me! Thank you Bryan for being amazing, for loving and caring for me and for always making my life better! You have been the biggest blessing in my life and I love you so much!!! (You also make a great shower assistant!)

Once Bryan left I had so many visitors call over, I have had friends come and stay the night with me and people from church are bringing me dinner each night because I can’t make my own food yet. Even though I am fit and healthy and the pregnancy was going well, this recovery is still a slow process. You aren’t allowed to lift anything heavy, I can’t go back to work for another few weeks at least and I still can’t drive. Having a church family and friends rally around us during this time is the only thing that is getting us through.

Now my job is to rest, recover and take good care of these babies. I am eating normally again so as you can see in the above pictures with me in the gray tank top, I am beginning to show a proper baby bump. I haven’t felt any movement yet but I am just 18 weeks. Our Big Scan is scheduled for the 21st May but I have a scan before then so hopefully we will find out on the 21st if not before what the sex of the other baby is. I can’t really begin to put into words how I have been feeling as so much has happened in a short space of time. I have been emotional at times, I have been exhausted, I have been so sore, I have been incredibly happy and incredibly sad. I guess that is pregnancy! Overall though, I am thankful. Thankful to be healthy, recovering and have our babies be healthy and safe. I am thankful I have a husband who loves me so well. I am thankful that this happened here in Northern Ireland as opposed to America. I am thankful for each person who has blessed me with either their food, flowers or visit while I am stuck at home. Of course this was not part of anyone’s plan and not ideal but at the end of each day I am thankful. Thank You Abba for protecting our beautiful little babies and me and for meeting us in the place of our deepest needs during this time. Thank You!

Once again though I ask you to cover us in prayer. Bryan will be away 33 more days and as much as seeing his dream come true of becoming a ski instructor is amazing, it is also difficult for him to be away from me and the babies right now. His desire to care for us is so strong and this hasn’t been easy. Pray as well for his body to hold up under the intensity of the course both physically and mentally as this course is one of the top courses and therefore extremely hard. Pray that my body makes a full recovery from the surgery and has no complications due to the surgery later on. Continue praying for these little lives I carry that they will grow and develop well and that they will be healthy and strong throughout the duration of the pregnancy. We so value and feel each prayer that is prayed so please keep them coming! Thank you! (Apologies for the length of this entry, shorter entries will be in the future!)

Back to real life…

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We left the states on the 23rd February, had a 25 hour layover in Iceland for my birthday and landed back in Belfast, Northern Ireland at 4:20pm 25th February, 2014. When our plane landed it brought me back to 9 years ago when we first moved to Northern Ireland. We had very few contacts, no jobs, no church, nothing really that would make the transition smooth. What we did have was a belief that God had called us to Northern Ireland and that He would meet us there.

This time when we landed we came home, the place where we have invested the last 9 years of our life. One of our dear friends who is more family than friend, Julie, collected us at the airport. We had our lovely home to go back to. We had a bed, food in the cupboards and a few other friends had already been ahead of us and cleaned the house for us. We were coming back to a wonderful church family that we love and have missed so much while being away. We were coming back with a promise fulfilled and it felt strangely familiar to our first arrival yet so very different. Even though it was so difficult saying our goodbyes to our incredible families and friends in the states whom we love dearly, we knew we were coming to the right place. Our hope that God would meet us here 9 years ago has been physically displayed to us by all that we have come back to and all that has happened through the years.

As you can see in the picture above, we did not travel lightly. I collected many new clothes (including both maternity and baby) while away and Bryan aquired skis and boots. We both had our concerns about how the journey home would be. Traveling with that much luggage is not easy, especially when one of you is not allowed to lift anything heavy. From our first port in Seattle our trip was smooth sailing. We had help from Pete and Molly getting everything sorted in Seattle. When we arrived in Iceland all our bags were there as were trolleys for us to push our heavy bags with. We were able to collect our rental car no problem and they extended our rental till the morning we left. All our bags fit in this tiny car like puzzle pieces perfectly cut. Our bags then arrived in Gatwick and were checked into Easyjet with only one bag being additionally charged. The whole journey was so smooth and easy. Thank you God!!!

As we reflected on the journey both Bryan and I felt God’s hand had been with us. I am not trying to over-spiritualize traveling and our luggage but we both could see it. In many ways it felt like a confirmation that we were headed to the right place. It felt like a reminder of God’s faithfulness. It also spoke to us of God’s ability and desire to show up when His children do.

Our journey back to the states to invest in our families did not seem like the logical think to do. We had finally arrived at the point where both of us had full time employment and life felt comfortable. In our history when life feels comfortable that is usually when God begins stirring us to do something unique. I am not saying this is a recipe that every person should adhere to but this seems to be the way God speaks and moves in our lives. Going back to the states was a gamble and a risk financially. Yet God provided for us every step of the way after what we had saved was gone. Family and friends dug very deep at times to take care of us. Thank you family and friends for doing so. We watched you be the church and God’s hands and feet to us during our time in the US. Without your extreme and outrageous generosity we would not be pregnant today.

When we went back to the states we also left with no intention of going through fertility treatment again. Now look at us, pregnant with twins! We thought we were merely going back to invest into our own families while God could see that we would be investing in the future of our own as well. Wow!!! What a beautiful experience to have gone through it all with our families standing by our sides!

Now we are back in our lovely home living normal life. Looking for jobs, cars, making plans for the next year and settling in again, but oh it feels so good. Daily I feel God gently reminding me that He is aware of our biggest and smallest needs. Once again we are seeing miracles daily in God’s ability to provide for our needs better than we can provide for ourselves. Our past has been a continual reminder that when we are proactive and take a few risks that God tends to show up in the gap that we could not fill. Our past is also occurring in our present and I am confident that it will be the same in the future.

Abba, thank you for bringing us back to this place that represents your promises fulfilled in so many areas of our lives. Thank you for allowing us to have a home over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear and even sunshine today. Thank you for preparing the way when we cannot even see a path. Thank you for my husband and his support in my life. Thank you for our expanding family and showing yourself faithful to us this way. Thank you for our family and friends who are still loving and supporting us from a distance and for our friends who are doing it up close. We give back to you these little lives that you have given us. We dedicate them to you. We will love them to the best of our ability and be thankful that you will always fill in the gaps. Simply put… thank you Jesus! Our hearts are full as are our lives!

There is always hope…

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This winter while in Alaska, my lovely mother-in-law taught me to paint watercolours. I am in love! I relax when I paint and the world fades away, plus the best part is I feel connected to my Creator when I create.

The picture above is a watercolour I did for some dear family members of ours. This family is one of warmth, authenticity, love and fun. This family recently endured something that I cannot even begin to fathom and if I am honest never want to. They have two beautiful children but sadly lost their third child, Levi Joshua. He was gorgeous! Tiny but perfect in many ways. This family has been open and have shared this journey as they have plowed their way through the piles of emotions that would obviously surface when this kind of tragedy hits. All I can say is that they have walked the faithful walk of trust even without understanding. Grace when they would have preferred bitterness. They inspire me to love God for who He is, not what He does and gives us. Those things are part of God’s nature, but at the end of each day, my (or your) circumstances will never and can never dictate the character of God. For that I am forever grateful.

As I go to bed each night I pray now, more than I ever have, for this little life that is growing inside of me. I thank God for him/her. I pray our child/ren come to know Jesus and who He really is at a young age. I pray for joy, peace and passion for life. As I pray, my heart also wanders to those who are still waiting. Waiting for their breakthrough. Waiting for God to take their pain away and to change their situation. Waiting for the anger that comes from miscarriage to subside. Waiting for the jealousy of another persons joy to fade, even just a little bit. I feel the tension here, in this place.

That was our story for 8 years. Every announcement made that wasn’t ours, every baby gift bought that wasn’t for our baby, every dedication that wasn’t ours. So as much as I am rejoicing, completely elated with the moments we are living in right now and soaking it all in. My heart is still breaking for my friends or your friends who I either know personally or who I have only heard of that are still waiting.

As a follower of Jesus, the one thing that I couldn’t contain was my hope that someday we would have a family. I had let go of the specifics of this a long time ago but hadn’t let go of the desire and innate yearning to be a mother, to see Bryan cradle our children, to see our family expand. Today I encourage those who are still in the waiting…there is always hope. For those who are praying for someone, pray they do not lose hope. It truly is the anchor of our souls and true hope is only found in Jesus. Pray they keep their eyes on Him. He is overly aware of every thought, feeling and circumstance in our lives. Nothing sneaks by Him so put your hope and trust in Him. We are still standing with you in this gap.

Preparing for change and loving every second of it!

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As you all know, our world has drastically changed since last Friday. A few days on I am still reeling from the news and shock that after our long wait, (sometimes feeling like eternity) we are pregnant. I am carrying a precious life inside of me. I will be a mother and Bryan will be a father. Our family is expanding and I don’t think either of us could be more delighted! We have watched from the outside looking in at so many of our friends over the years to have sufficiently dissipated all illusions that this next phase of life will be easy, blissful or perfect. What we do hope for is to have our hearts and minds expand as we love another human being more than we thought possible. To grow in grace for ourselves, each other and this little person/s who will demand everything from us and give us very little in return for quite sometime. To cradle our newborn and stare in awe at him/her and wonder what we ever did with our time before. There are so many hopes and dreams attached to having a family and many of them I haven’t even begun to realize. So I am praying a lot. Praying that God dreams over me as I dream over our baby. That our baby encounters Him at a young age and falls in love with Jesus the way her/his parents have. So many hopes.

Some of you may like to know how we told our families so I will give you the brief version. Once we took the phone call, heard the news, fell apart and started shaking, we made our first call to MamaChud who anxiously awaited in Alaska. It was a special moment seeing her face and knowing her heart! Then we went to the ever cool Starbucks located in the Nampa Target store and borrowed their wifi. Bryan called his brother Aaron while I called Carla, Aaron’s wife. We told them at the same time. Then repeat the cycle with Bryan’s brother Nate and his wife Marisa. These 4 conversations were so much fun, there were tears shed, questions asked and overall joy at the faithfulness of God and the ways in which only He can move our mountains.

Then came the difficult task of lying to my parents as we waited for a family dinner that night. We wanted to tell them all together so we lied, saying the clinic called and said it would be later…and later. Once we were at the restaurant (Dad, Mom, Brad, Lainie, Kyle and Cali as Chase was gone) and everyone had ordered Bryan gave me the wink ‘Are you going to show them the bruises on your stomach from the injections?’ I obliged, stood and lifted up my shirt to reveal what Bryan had written on my belly: ‘Coming Oct 4th  Baby Chud!!!’ It was hilarious watching the confusion in some of their faces and then seeing the lights go on and the celebrations began! My mother started shouting ‘Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!’ over and over again and everyone was squealing with delight! The wait was over, the answer was here and God had granted us our request! Amazing! Still feeling the moments of that first day. My niece Cali sent a picture of my stomach to my brother Brent and his wife as they joined us later. They were so excited that they stopped and picked up the sweetest pair of Nike trainers for one of our first baby gifts. You can see them in the picture above as well as the adorable fur booties that Lynda gave us (they used to be Bryan’s and she saved them) and the pacifier that my mom couldn’t help but buy at breakfast one morning. It’s all so memorable and we are soaking it all in!!

We also made a few calls to friends in the states, Canada and then Northern Ireland! There was rejoicing all over the place and it was lovely to be the ones making the announcement this time! (Sorry to keep so many NI folks awake that night!!)

So now what? Well I go back in for another blood test to check my Beta levels on the 3rd Feb and then I have our first ultrasound on Valentine’s Day, how great is that? Happy Valentine’s Day to us!! At this ultrasound we will find out if we are having one or two (or as my nephew seems to think four) and we will be absolutely, 100% delighted with any number as long as the baby is healthy, strong and growing! Of course the additional bills are still rolling in and we continue to trust God for His miraculous provision this way. They told us from the beginning that there would be unforeseen costs as we went through the process and they were not lying. Yet right now it seems silly to do anything else but trust God as we have watched His hand at work through this whole process and even the timing of being stateside for it all to begin. If you still feel the desire to help us then don’t hesitate to contact us, we still need prayers and financial miracles and as always we are honest about that. We know that none of this could have happened without the prayers and financial support of each of you so once again we thank you from the depths of my belly where this child is making it’s home:) I am praying for a bit of each of your DNA to be transferred into this baby as in so many ways it is your child too.

Prayer points:

Healthy development of the baby

Healthy pregnancy

Direction as we embark on our biggest adventure yet!

Provision

I was reading in Psalm 33:18-22 and 34:4-5 today, it says this:

(Ps. 33)

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.

Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.

(Ps.34)

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.

They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.

I pray these verses encourage you as they have me. We had hoped for the lovingkindness of our God and have experienced it all these years of waiting. He is what kept us alive in this personal and emotional famine, He was our manna. Our souls waited on the Lord over the years and He was our shield, protecting us. He has been and always will be our one, true hope. Through this all our prayer has been to glorify God and to walk this path in faithfulness to God. The road was rocky but because we continued to look to Him, He made us radiant, and we will never be ashamed of our belief in Him, regardless of our circumstances. Yet we are so very thankful that He moved heaven and earth on our behalf this time. Thank you Abba.

Thank you!!!

Breakthrough…

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There is so much that we could say but I feel the picture says it all. The world will be welcoming baby Chud somewhere around the 4th October 2014!!!!!!!!! We found out today, the 24th January at 11:45am that our treatment was successful and that we will become parents this year!!!! Thank you so much to our family and friends who have prayed for, supported in every way/shape/form and carried us during this journey over the last 8 years. This is as much your breakthrough as it is ours!

Abba, thank you for remembering us and being faithful to keep your promise. Amen and Amen!!!!