Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy 4 Weeks Hailey Grace

I can’t believe that 4 weeks ago I was nine months pregnant! I have been hit with the realization that life really does FLY by! Especially when you are having fun with your new baby!

The transition to being parents has been an incredible experience! We truly are loving every minute of it. Well almost every minute J I can’t believe how much Hailey has changed in just four short weeks. She is such a good baby! She rarely fusses, and has created her own schedule (which I’m sure won’t be permanent, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless). She is more alert now, and has started smiling. Every smile is a heart melter! I’m proud to say that she smiles at me the most. Of course, Matt and I are in a competition to see who gets the most smiles per day. Matt and I are enamored with all her little noises and funny faces. If someone had a camera in our house watching us interact with her, we would probably look ridiculous. I surprise myself with all the goofy dances I do and sounds I make. It’s pretty embarrassing really! I’m pretty sure Gus (our dog) thinks I’ve lost it. Speaking of Gus, he absolutely loves Hailey. Every time a peep comes from her, he immediately runs to her side. He will poke his head over the side of her bassinet to look at her and make sure she is ok. He has done great being aware of her too. I wasn’t sure how he would do with a new baby, but so far so good!

I can see her adjusting to life on the outside! It’s amazing how fast she has adapted! She is completely used to getting her diaper changed, and getting dressed. She loves the bath (as long as the water is running over her). She has chosen which kind of pacifier she likes (MAMS…thanks Brooke for the recommendationJ). She focuses her eyes on faces and I can see her taking in the world around her constantly. She is still wearing newborn size clothes, but she isn’t swimming in them like when we brought her home. A few things are looking a little snug already. She sleeps GREAT! I really can’t complain. She usually will sleep about five hours and then wake to eat. After eating she falls right back asleep for another 3 and a half to four hours! I am getting more rest now than when I was pregnant. I’m hoping this keeps up!

Being a mom is THE BIGGEST joy I have ever experienced! There have been some frustrating times…like when my milk came in and I ballooned up to four sizes bigger in a day…or when I find myself covered in puke or poop in the middle of the night. All that is eclipsed by the love that I have for her. I still cannot believe that I am a mom and that I have a DAUGHTER. I spend my days imagining her getting bigger…going to school…growing up and getting married! It is crazy that this beautiful little person will one day be an adult…will one day make her own decisions and have her own relationship with God. I could cry just thinking about it. I’m doing well. Just trying to heal and rest as much as I can. I am still not working which is a blessing but makes me antsy all the same. I still haven’t figured out exactly what will happen when I return to work, but I am not too worried about it. Hailey has PLENTY of people that have offered to spend time with her if I need it.

Matt is back at work. I think I’m adjusting to trying to figure out how to handle it all on my own during the day. I have been so spoiled having him off work. Getting out the door for a daily outing takes quite the effort. Matt started at a new store and likes it so far. It’s in Del Paso Heights, so things are pretty interesting compared to Folsom. I have to say that Matt is THE BEST dad ever. The other day one of our friends told me that she has never seen a Dad so in love with his daughter. It is so true. The second he comes in the door from work he rushes to hold her. He is the biggest help. I am still recovering (SLOWLY) and I can’t be on my feet for too long. He makes sure that I am fed and rested as much as possible. I try not to wake him in the middle of the night, but if I need something he is MORE than willing to get up and get it. We are making a great team in raising this little one, and our marriage is such an incredible blessing from God.

This last Sunday was her dedication ceremony to the Lord. It was such a huge blessing to have our friends and family join us! Thank you so much to those of you that came! It was such an honor to hear the church commit to being an example and supporting us as parents. Hailey is so lucky to have such godly influences in her life. She was ADORABLE in her pink dress, huge bow, and tights. We can’t find any shoes that will fit her yet, so we found tights that have little ballet slippers on them. It’s so fun having a little girl!

Next week, Matt’s mom Diane is coming into town to meet little Hailey! We are so excited to see her and spend time with her over the holiday. I’m giddy thinking that Christmas will be here soon. There is something about this season that just gives me SO MUCH joy! Sometimes I look at Hailey and am in awe that our Lord came to earth as innocent and helpless as she is. MIRACULOUS! Below are some photos from the last 4 weeks!

Thanks for reading!

In the Hospital


Pea in the Pod!
Smiling at Auntie

Best Friends



Pastor Michael praying over Hailey

Proud Parents

We Love You Reynolds

Best Friends!

Photo Shoot




Mom I hate these bows






Saturday, November 7, 2009


It is hard to believe that a little over three weeks ago I gave birth to Hailey Grace Jennings! She was born on Tuesday, October 20th at 11:26 am. I will never forget the week before she was born!

She was due on October 11th. Toward the end of my pregnancy, me and everyone else seemed to be sure that she would not make it to her due date. My tummy looked SOOO ready! So many people would say, "Holy Moly she is SOOO LOW." or "That baby is coming ANY DAY!" Everyday I would wake up to countless facebook and text messages predicting that day as the day she would be born. And then she didn't come. I had set myself up to NOT BE disappointed if she didn't come early. Naturally, I felt done physically, but mentally I was doing pretty well. However, all that changed on October 12th, the day after my due date! It changed even more on Tuesday the 13th when the doctor told me I was only
1 cm and not really effaced. My doctor stripped my membranes that day (Youch!) which I thought would at least jump start something...and then there was nothing...I remember my doctor saying, usually there will be spotting that follows and some cramping after membranes are stripped. Not a cramp could be felt...not a drop of blood could be seen. I would start making things up...swearing that there was a pink tinge on the toilet paper...but there wasn't!

I have to say that I PRAYED everyday that I would not have to be induced. My plan was to go unmedicated as long as possible. I was told that I may not be able to have an epidural because of some platelet issues. I was preparing for the worst and the thought of pitocin and no epidural didn't sit so well with me! On the Thursday before I went into labor on my own (PRAISE GOD), I started having some pretty heavy bleeding. I called the advice nurse and she said to just keep an eye on it. When you are pregnant for the first time and have no idea what to expect, your first reaction is "Keep an eye on WHAT?!" On Saturday I was still bleeding quite a bit. Not enough to compare to a period, but more than spotting. I had always heard that when you have "bloody show" that labor is not far off. It had been days of bleeding and not even a cramp. I called Labor and Delivery again that night, and they said that I should come in to just make sure everything was ok. I was pretty frustrated because I knew I was not in labor. I had made up my mind that I would not be one of those women that is in and out of the hospital 40 times before they ACTUALLY go into labor. I threw on some slippers and didn't bring anything that I had packed. After Matt and I enjoyed Kaiser's cable, the prognosis was that I should go home. That night I was still 1 cm, but was now 75% effaced. I was a little encouraged knowing that my body was doing something!

Sunday was another hard day. I went to church and endured the countless comments about how everyone could not believe that I was still pregnant. Everyone was so sweet, but I was a huge grumpy overdue hippo! I remember worshipping that Sunday and asking God to try and keep me focused on Him...I was so distracted. Not to mention the back pain from the hard squeaky pews. After church I retreated home back to my couch to sit it out. I had heard a lot of things about how to induce labor...eat spicy food! (check), walk a LOT (check), do lunges (check), somehow bribe your husband and figure out how to have sex (check). That Sunday, I was done with the labor inducing techniques. I resorted to eating brownies on the couch. I forgot to mention that by this time we were on a time crunch. My friend Corinne had come into town specifically to see Hailey born. She had plans to leave on Monday because there was NO WAY that I could go any longer! Sunday evening, I finally felt SOMETHING! Little contractions here and there...they stabilized to about every 10 minutes and were getting stronger. Then, they stopped. I'm not sure what triggered them to stop, but probably because Gus (our dog) ran in the house and to our surprise had been SKUNKED! The house smelled horrible, the dog smelled horrible. I can only laugh now thinking about how wild that night was. My friends Corinne and Mallory gave him a crazy bath which included tomato paste. My little black and white dog was now a pinkish color and smelled like skunky tomatoes. Needless to say, I went to bed wondering if this baby was EVER going to come out. I slept GREAT that night. I don't think I woke up at all, not even to go to the bathroom (which is a common day miracle!)

Monday morning, I woke up out of my sleep at 7am with a pretty strong contraction! 7 minutes later, another...and another and another. By 9am, I woke Matt up and told him that he should probably let his work know that he was starting leave! I hopped in the shower to get ready for the day. Contractions were hard, but as long as I breathed they were VERY doable! Matt was so great timing them for me! He had a little piece of paper where he listed the times, and he would always yell out how far apart the one before had taken place. By noon, they were about 6 minutes apart and getting longer and stronger. We decided to go grab a bite to eat at Chilis to pass the time. In the birth class that we took, the midwife was telling us that being up and moving during early labor is the best way to get things progressing. Because of the epidural issue, I wanted to stay at home as long as possible. I had told my doctor this and she told me that I should come to the hospital when my contractions were 3 minutes apart. After eating, Matt and I went to Target. Thinking back on this is pretty comical. Every 4 minutes we would have to stop so I could breathe. I'm sure the people in Target were wondering what the heck was going on! We walked through almost every aisle there. Matt did a pretty good at cracking me up during this time...which actually made my pain worse. We were both so excited. I remember we bought something but I can't remember what. By the time we left my contractions were about every 3 to 4 minutes and hurting pretty bad! At this point we decided that we should run home and get things in the car to go to the hospital.

I was nervous about making the decision to go the hospital. I don't think I could have handled them telling me to leave and go home and wait it out, or to sit in triage waiting for my body to progress until they thought I was ready to be admitted. I had been having contractions ALL DAY LONG! We arrived at the hospital around 5:30. Once they hooked me up to the monitor, you could definitely see my contractions rise and fall. At this point, there was no talking through them. I would just have to breathe. Even though they hurt, I was surprised how easy it was to get through them. The doctor came in and checked me and I was 4 cm and ready to be admitted! I can't tell you how thankful I was at that moment. I think I said outloud, "PRAISE GOD." Stacey (my sister in law) came to say hi in triage and I'm pretty sure I was smiling through my contractions at that point! Matt unloaded the car while they moved me into a beautiful labor suite. The room was huge and gorgeous. Matt called my mom to let her know and she headed to the hospital. Once we got all settled I can remember thinking, "Now what?" We had a few visitors...Thank you to Jeff and Laurie for coming and praying over me that night! The next hours were full of breathing and walking. I was progressing pretty slowly, but I don't remember feeling impatient. Around 1 am I was only 6 cm, but still getting through contractions ok! I seemed to get on this rotation. I would sit on the birth ball that I had which was very comfortable. After about 30 minutes of the ball, I would get into the shower and sit under the hot water. After about 30 minutes of the shower, I was too hot and would get out and then walk for a while with Matt. At 4:30 in the morning, I am not exaggerating when I say I was feeling great. I was tired because it was 4:30 in the morning, but I felt very relaxed and in control! I was so surprised by how well I was doing and I think everyone else was too. All my labor support that was there was probably feeling like this thing was uneventful. The midwife came in around 4:30 and I was 7 cm. She told me that she thought that we should break my water. I asked her a few questions. I knew that once my water broke my contractions would be stronger, but things would go by a lot faster. In my own research, I had read a lot about transition labor (the hardest part of labor next to pushing). Everything I had read said that it is usually only a few hours long and then pushing begins. Someone in a class I took once taught that transition is sometimes as short as 13 contractions. I braced myself for the hard road ahead and decided to have my water broken. I'm not sure why, but it took a while for her to break my water. It was a crazy feeling to have all that water pouring out everywhere...all over me and the bed. I was a little embarrassed, but the staff was great in letting me know that I had nothing to feel weird about.

That first contraction after my water broke was a WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME! My contractions became VERY strong and VERY long. They were only 2 minutes apart at most. I remember thinking that if I could just get in a different position it would feel a little better, but there wasn't enough time between them to even get there! It was a little stressful at this point...I never felt ready for the next contraction because I didn't have time to prepare! This is when my labor team came to my rescue. My amazing friend Kristin would massage my lower back, while my friend Mallory held my arms and talked me through them. My mom would massage my feet and help me breathe! Corinne decided to stay in town so she was there too! She held Mallory's baby and just her presence was a life saver (yes we had a FULL room). Everyone had a role and they were all great at it. For three hours I breathed through these contractions and tried to focus. I was getting really tired and started thinking that I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be able to get through it. The whole time God kept my mind steady. I knew exactly what I wanted. I had decided that if I was close to pushing time, I would opt for a small does of morphine or something like that to take the edge off. If I was still far off, I wanted an epidural if I could have one. The nurse came in to check me around 8:00am. At this point, I was in a lot of pain. My contractions were out of control close together and hard! I can't remember what Matt was doing but I'm pretty sure he was SLEEPING! ha The nurse checked me through a contraction which was the worst pain of the whole experience. She said "You're about the same," to which I immediately said, "I would like an epidural." I love my labor team for supporting me! No one ever asked if I was sure, and no one ever suggested it before I decided to get one. I was not disappointed. My platelets were fine and the doctor said it would be about 20 minutes before they arrived, to which I said, "Can we make it sooner?" Around 8:15 the anesthesiologist came in. She was a little rude I have to admit. She made some people leave the room, and she told me that I waited too long. But I loved her all the same! Getting the epidural was really hard. Trying to hold still through those contractions seemed to be impossible. It took a really long time and a lot of contractions before it was in place. Around 9:00am the epidural was in place, and by 9:3o I was feeling relief! It was the MOST glorious feeling ever! I remember thinking, "Ok, I'm only 7 cm so I should get a few hours to sleep and get ready to push this baby out!" 45 minutes later, the nurse came in and checked me because Hailey's heart rate was showing signs that I was progressing. I was 10 CM! Ready to push! So much for sleeping! I think the epidural was exactly what I need to relax to get me to the point where my body could finish this thing! By 10:30, I gave my first pushing attempt. I was surprised how I could feel the pressure of pushing, but no pain! Matt held one leg and my mom held the other. After the first push the midwife was surprised that her head could already be seen. The midwife pulled out a flashlight and called everyone around to see her head. I remember cracking up and saying, "ok guys, I've never had so many people looking at my crotch under a flashlight before!" A lot of people might think I was crazy for having so many people in the room (my sisters and Matt's Aunt Barb joined us at the very end to see her come into the world), but honestly it was an incredibly exciting time and there support was soothing to me!

Pushing was very easy compared the pain of transition labor. The pressure was uncomfortable, but again, very doable. I could feel each contraction come even though I had the epidural. The midwife that delivered was absolutely amazing! I can still hear her voice in my head...so calming! After a little less than an hour of pushing, Hailey Grace came into the world! All glorious 7 pounds 15 ounces of her...20.5 inches long! As any mom knows, there is nothing so amazing in your entire life as holding that new life for the very first time. They put her on my chest and she looked up at me right away. I will NEVER forget that moment or that feeling! We were all in tears (including Matt...sorry to call you out). She really was gorgeous...I remember thinking that I couldn't believe how cute she was already :)

The next part was probably the worst part of all. They began to stitch what they thought was only a few mild tears. However, once the midwife started stitching, she quickly realized that they needed a doctor to come in and finish. Once the doctor took a look at me, she immediately ordered the nurse to have my epidural turned on full blast. I have NEVER felt so numb in my life. I couldn't even hold my own body up above the waist! Such a weird feeling, but I'm sure better than the alternative. The doctor than began to put me back together. After THREE HOURS and 150 stitches, she was finally done. I remember feeling so bad for my dad who was standing out in the hall all that time just waiting to come in! It seemed like forever. The doctor said that since my blood platelets were low it made my tissue very soft in the birth canal. As Hailey came down, things just began to tear one right after the other. I can tell you that if I ever write a book about pregnancy or motherhood, it will be about postpartum recovery! Maybe call it The Last Six Weeks (and beyond.......) I was prepared for labor and delivery, but not for recovery! While I can tell that I am getting better every day, it is still pretty painful. I am so antsy just sitting around doing nothing. I try and do a small outing everyday, but after about 5 minutes of walking, I'm quickly over it!

A lot of people have asked me why they didn't just take her out via C Section because the process was so long...to that I say I THANK GOD that I didn't have a C Section. Labor is hard, don't get me wrong, and there probably isn't anything that can really prepare you for the pain...However, I am not lying when I say I am truly blessed to have the experience that I did. I know that there were a lot of you praying for me through the end of the never ending pregnancy, and I can't tell you just how thankful I am for you all! Since that day, there have been a few hard ones trying to figure out motherhood, but it's the most precious gift God has ever given to me. That He would entrust little Hailey to us as her parents is the highest honor. Matt says all the time that he understands God's love for us so much better. To give up His only son...when you have your own child that sacrifice is made much more real.

Thanks for reading this long one!

Jeff and Laurie praying!

Walking the halls...the nureses labeled me "The Walker" ha

Proud Parents!

Beautiful Hailey

I love him

Daddy's Girl

Friday, October 9, 2009

Finally! An UPDATE!

OK OK...so I know I am the worst blogger ever...I wish I was a Brooke Odgers or Paige Jennings (some of my favorite blogs) and I apologize to ALL OF OUR FAMILY (plus Jason) who have been asking for an update! So hereee weeee gooo!

Well, I'm still pregnant. Two days away from my actual due date. People ask me a lot if I feel like I'm getting close to the end...to which I can only say, "I SURE HOPE SO!" Everyday, or middle of the night, I wake up and think with excitement that TODAY COULD BE HER BIRTHDAY! Matt and I talk about her constantly, and I'm consumed with the thought that I will hold her any day now somewhere other than my tummy! Physically, the last 5 weeks of this pregnancy have been a challenge. I honestly thought that I would not make it to the end...that she would HAVE to come early because there was no way my 5'0 body could hold her...hehe Well, now we know this little body can and DID hold her to the very end. When I look in the mirror I literally think, "Ok God this is getting a little ridiculous!" I have carried her STRAIGHT OUT! Some would see this as a blessing saying things like, "You can't even tell you're pregnant from behind" or exclaiming that I look like I have a basketball under my shirt. I will tell you, it would be nice if I would carry her wider because she hardly feels like a basketball...she feels like a CONCRETE slab under my shirt! I feel like I could tip over at any second and almost have a few times. And it's great that you can't tell I'm pregnant from behind, but from the front and the battle wound stretch marks people will ALWAYS know that I am and was pregnant!
Overall, this pregnancy has been very easy. I do have some blood platelet issues and a separated pubic bone (fun fun) that have been hard, but it has only been this last few weeks that I have been feeling DONE...more than I can ask for when comparing other pregnancies of friends or stories I've heard. People ask me daily if I am scared to give birth. While I know what to expect (I will push a baby out or she will be taken out), there are a few things that I am nervous about. Because my blood platelets are low, I may not be able to have an epidural. From my understanding, platelets effect your ability to clot...and putting something in your spine without the ability to clot blood isn't such a good idea. While I would LOVE to give birth unmedicated and have that as my goal, I DO want the option! Also, I do not want a blood transfusion if for some reason I lose too much. If you remember, just pray it isn't an issue when I go into labor! Along with thinking about those things, there are the normal hopes that Hailey Grace be in the best health she possibly could! I have been so thankful to God for the peace He has given me throughout all these unknowns. I recognize that worrying about these things cannot change a single thing, and that we will just have to cross those bridges when we get to them (if we could cross them today it would be great...ha)
One of the BIGGEST blessings of this entire pregnancy has been sharing the experience with my incredible friend Mallory Reynolds! We found out we were pregnant only a few months apart, and we have countless (now funny but then terrible) memories that we will forever share. She has been an incredible support to me and I thank God for putting her in my life at the time that He did. On top of it all, her ADORABLE daughter Avery Sofia was born on my birthday, July 29th. It was the best spent birthday ever and the best gift to be able to be there when she was born. I will never forget it! Below are some photos of Avery girl!

The last couple of weeks I haven't been working which has been a huge adjustment for me mentally. As a lot of you know, I am generally pretty busy. I thought that I couldn't wait to just rest, but after about two days I found myself a little antzy, but at the same time no energy to be productive. I am thankful though to have the time that I have had to rest and get ready! There have been a lot of changes recently too. My mom moved back into town which has been a blessing to have all of my immediate family (parents and sisters) in the same city! They have been a huge help. The other day, they all came over and cleaned my house, and then we cooked dinner and watched a movie. So much fun to have a girls night! On top of that blessing, my dad is now married to the best woman! Jennie has been nothing but a support to Matt and I, and it has been so great having her as a part of our family! Also, Wednesday we bought a car! We had a two door civic with a tiny backseat. At first, we were thinking we would just suck it up and deal with it. Wednesday I woke up and asked Matt if we could just go look at options for trading it in for a four door sedan. My IDEAL would be a Honda Pilot, a huge beast of a car, but I didn't want to settle for an old one with lots of miles to fit our budget. So we made our way to the Roseville Automall and looked at a few things. At our last stop, we found a 2009 Camry slightly used for a ridiculously low price. After a few hours of talking with the salesman, we got everything we wanted. PRAISE GOD! We are paying the same monthly for a newer car that is bigger and our insurance is cheaper! I feel like such a momma when I drive it...hehe It's nice to not have Hailey's carseat sticking out into the front seat, and it will save our backs getting her out of the backseat once she's here! Its definitely a luxury and a blessing from God!

Overall, we are all set for our little one to be born! Thank you to EVERYONE who helped us in preparing for her arrival! We couldn't have done it without you and Hailey is so blessed to have what she has!

To all of our family, I will update photos of Hailey when she is born along with a birth story! I PROMISE! hehe

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feeling Kicks!

Can you believe it?? Two blogs in one week! ha Just wanted to do a quick baby update! Last week I felt the first baby kick! I will never forget that moment. I had been feeling what many call "flutters" for a little bit, but no substantial kick. I was driving and listening to the radio when all of a sudden BOOM! It took me by surprise and I jumped and gasped a little! I called Matt right away to which he said "I want to feel!!!" We were both so excited!

Since then, there have been many more kicking moments. It still takes me by surprise, and I am always overwhelmed by it! Today, in the middle of a leadership seminar, she kicked four times in a row. I found myself smiling on the brink of laughter. I had to hold back from cracking up! It is an incredible joy that you can't imagine! I am always struck with the thought, "I'm going to be a MOM!!!" Her kicks make it all the more real! It is always funny to me that no one else knows what is going on when I feel like a baby is dancing around inside me! It will be hard to not be completely distracted all the time by her movement!

Below are some photos of the adorable things people have given to us. I always want to giggle when I look at these little girl items! So precious and small! Can't wait until a baby is here to fill them!
Can you believe how cute?
My personal favorite...thanks Nicole!
Random pic of our first born...Gus!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Finally an update!!

Hello All!

I am the worst blogger ever! :) I think I start every blog that way! Matt and I are finally coming out of our whirlwind...I currently am in a Finals hole, but I shall be out on Thursday! I cannot tell you how excited I am for school to be out. This semester has been trying on me. My classes are pretty tough (all upper division history), and being pregnant doesn't help contribute to the energy factor. I am due in October (early October if I don't go late), and I had a tough decision to make. I am supposed to graduate this next fall, but I will be due mid semester. At the beginning of this journey, my thought was, "I will just power through...it will be hard but it will pass after a few months." The farther I get into my pregnancy, the more I am understanding how important it is to me to be there for every move my little baby makes in the first months of her life! (Yes her life!!! It's a girl!). The final decision has been made...my registration date for classes has come and gone (scary for me to not be in school), and I have decided that I will not be taking classes in the fall. I will postpone graduation to the next semester, and even then, maybe not until the next fall depending on how motherhood takes to me :) I know a lot of people have opinions about what I should do, but I have so much confidence that this is what is right for Matt and I and our little baby girl!

We had an ultrasound two weeks ago to find out the sex and as you know we are having a little girl! I was SHOCKED! There are so many wives tales about how to tell what you are having, and even though I didn't think I believed any of them, I did! I wasn't sick at all...My belly is sticking straight out, etc...All boy wives tales! I was sold that it was a boy...claiming it was maternal instinct. Well so much for that :) The moment I showed Matt the pregnancy test he said loudly, "It's a GIRL!"...I was like slow down tiger, I'm not used to It's a BABY! Anyway, we had a bet going. If it was a boy he would have to take me to the melting pot (I think he still should) and if it was a girl he would get a tattoo! THAT'S how sure I was that it was a boy! It took me like three days to adjust to girl thinking! A girl at work gave me the cutest mini jellies (sandals) and they have sparkles on them. I think that was the moment I realized! I am so so excited! Girl stuff is so stinking cute...mini dresses and bows! I love it ALL! We haven't decided on official names yet, but I will post when we do! We have another ultrasound in two weeks! Can't wait to see the growth that has happened already! I am currently 18 weeks and 2 days...it is going by so fast! I have been feeling amazing...just the last few days had some back pain and trouble sleeping (hoping it doesn't stay that way for the rest!)

Next huge thing...We MOVED! A few weeks ago we moved into our new ammmmmaaazzzing home! It was such a blessing from heaven. We have an incredibly low rent for a beautiful home that I feel like I could live in forever! The owner is an awesome lady that I can call to do things like go and pick out couches, etc...We absolutely love it! I sit at home in silence sometimes and just smile and thank God for this place...it is a dream come true for us. Living on our own has been an AWESOME adjustment. My dad was such a great house guest, but we did miss the privacy of having our own space. So far, I have had 4 parties! ha...I forgot how much I loved to entertain! Below are pictures from a baby shower that was held at my home and a few others!

Overall, life is going absolutely wonderfully...My work at the church has been so fulfilling. Matt and I are currently teaching a series together on purity for youth! I was pretty nervous because I am not used to teaching people younger than me! (You think I would be more nervous for adults!) Last week, I had a girl approach me and tell me that she wasn't a Christian but she wanted to be pure again. After talking with her she decided to give her life to Christ. God gave me the opportunity to pray with her! There is NOTHING more fulfilling than moments like that! I feel unworthy to experience it...I know that none of it is anything that I do, but all God's work...I am so priviledged to witness His glory like that!

We do not have the internet yet at our home, but are hoping too soon! I will be posting more often about what God is doing in our lives!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our Baby!

As many of you know, Matt and I are having our first little baby! As any mother would say, I can't explain the words to you about what it is like to be pregnant...there are so many things going around in my head. I could cry at any second (probably hormones) thinking about the miracle of life inside me, and I could puke at any second (definitely hormones) thinking about how many things we need to get done before this baby comes!

It is so funny the way that God works. When I was 14, I was diagnosed with ovarian cysts that would periodically rupture! YOOOUCH! So I had been on birth control for years to stop this from happening. I have seen countless doctors and taken countless medications. The general consensus has always been that it would be really hard to get pregnant, if I could get pregnant at all. This statement has haunted me forever! I have always wanted to be a mom...ALWAYS! The thought of not being able to have children has always been very hard. Adoption has always been something that I planned on and expected in my life.

Needless to say, I saw a doctor back in February of 2008 about my condition, and told her that Matt and I were talking about kids. She was very reassuring and said that most couples try for a year, and then if I wasn't pregnant by then, that I would need to see a fertility specialist. I remember leaving that appointment excited and like a weight had been lifted off of my chest. I don't know if I was thinking that I would be pregnant in a week, or if I just was excited that there was a possibility that I could have children...

Well, if anyone of you has tried to get pregnant but didn't, you know the frustration. It is so funny, because I don't think I understood the journey that God would take us on trying to have this baby! We tried for a few months...nothing...we tried a few more months...nothing...all the while, it seemed that everyone around us got pregnant by just thinking about it...By the end of 2008, still nothing. I actually had a false positive pregnancy test (who does that happen to?) at the end of December. At that point, Matt and I both were so incredibly discouraged...after all, only a few more tries before we would need to go see a fertility specialist. Throughout the entire journey, I had thought I had surrendered the whole thing to God...I felt like I was being as patient as I could...I cried only a few tears...Matt and I prayed to God for strength...etc. But, when it came down to it, I don't think I had really said to God, "I trust you with my life...children or no children." Matt and I decided that we would take a few months off from baby talk in December to refocus on trusting God. In January, I began praying and looking into a mission's trip to Cambodia to fight human trafficking...The contact lady said that I was a perfect candidate and emailed me the application to fill out. As much as I wanted it, there was a check in my spirit...it was then that I ovulated 8 days early which never happens and TA DA! Baby!

Through this experience, I have learned so much, but mostly that God is the one with the plan for my life...he doesn't just watch over me as I go through the life that I planned...he actually has a set path for me to walk on. I have so much more peace knowing for a fact that God is holding me in His hands so tightly! Psalm 121 says "he will never let your foot slip..." As a former rock climber, I have this imagery of God as the ultimate spotter as I am climbing a cliff! He won't let me fall!

Overall, I have been feeling great! The first few weeks I was mostly tired...now I am still tired but not as overwhelmingly tired...I can actually do normal things, like laundry or blogging! ha I am not too sick as long as I eat often! Matt has been the best husband, as usual, taking care of me and making sure that I am ok. He never hesitates to get up and make me breakfast, or bring me lunch if I ate all my food before lunch time...ha He is the best! So far there has been no weight gain...I don't crave anything except lucky charms which give me heart burn I have learned! Probably good that I don't eat them so that my baby doesn't come out looking like a leprechaun!

We had our first ultrasound last week...it was AMAZING! You could see our baby's heart beating STRONG! Matt said loudly, "THAT IS SO COOl!"...he also told our nurse to not call our baby a critter...he said later he was "offended by the comment." Ha, so funny coming from someone who barely ever says anything. I had some blood work and testing done too and everything is looking good so far! We won't find out the sex until the end of April! I am currently due October 13!

There are so many things to think about! Don't eat this, do eat this...don't go there go here...do have natural...don't have natural...SO MANY decisions to make. However, I am still on cloud nine knowing that God breathed life into my child...that the day those cardiac cells starting beating in time together, God touched me....that everyday another fingernail or toe becomes more defined, God is sculpting my child from within me...it is a MIRACLE!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Human Trafficking...

Hey All!

I just got back from a last minute decision to go to Azusa to see my good friend Corinne!!! I was only there Monday and then came back today, but it was awesome! We drove down the coast for a few hours and walked on the beach...it was exactly what I needed...some 80 degree weather and to see the ocean! The drive there is roughly six hours long...can I just say, "I love my HONDA!" I got 42 miles to the gallon! I want to have it forever! On the way down I listened to my first book on CD...I think I am now addicted to it! From now on, every time I have a long drive I am going to get one!

The book was The Road To Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam. It is her memoir of her experience with human trafficking in Cambodia. She was sold into a brothel at nine years old...This topic is something very close to my heart. In June, when we first went to Crossroads, a girl asked me if I wanted to go with her to San Francisco...seeing an opportunity to make a new friend, I went thinking we were going to go shopping...instead we attended an informational seminar on human trafficking...at this time my eyes were opened wider than ever before to the world we live in...human trafficking in a sentence is modern day slavery...over 27 million people are enslaved right now and growing! Stats say that every 90 seconds someone is trafficked...These victims are forced into slavery, forced to do everything under the sun from cleaning and farming, to sex and prostitution...My heart broke completely as I watched a video at this seminar where a man in Cambodia payed only $6.00 for a nine year old girl...to have his way with her and then return her to a brothel...Can you even imagine it? I couldn't believe my eyes and ears as I watched...learning that in Cambodia...girls as young as 5 years old are sold into brothels...women are forced into prostitution and beaten...they are left empty, bleeding, and feeling like trash in the gutter...I was even more appalled to hear that one of the largest places in the world for trafficking is in San Francisco...and that even in Sacramento girls and boys are sold to work for unpaid wages and prostitution! Again I ask, Can you even believe it? Over the last few months I responded to a call and open doors to get involved in the effort to raise awareness on human trafficking...I was affirmed in this calling at the Women's Retreat in November...Joanne Lyon talked about trafficking and how World Hope is getting involved...She told stories of girls that had nothing...no education, no skill, no money, no family, no friends...just a torn up body and a traumatized mind. World Hope rescues these women and brings them to Christ...their lives change dramatically and a new HOPE is restored in them! After the retreat, God began to open the doors to get involved...Elizabeth Holmes, our pastor's wife, began to tell me that she too was called to get involved. I was asked to join the mission's team at church. I prayed about it, asking God if He wanted me to add one more thing to my already full plate...after a few days, I got this overwhelming feeling in my quiet times...I began to hear "How could you not get involved?...You have the ANSWER! You have the HOPE! I have great plans for you to reveal that HOPE!" So I attended our first meeting. After discussing the agenda, our leader at then end asked if there were any more comments...I felt an urge to share my passion for anti-trafficking...for victims in Cambodia and in the US...after I spilled my guts not sure if I made any sense at all, it was to my surprise that other's felt the same way! God had already prepared our hearts to get on board...we just didn't know it yet! So, we decided to start by hosting an informational night at our church (will be FEB 28 at 6:30 - everyone invited!!) and explored the possibility of going to Cambodia in November to work in the after care process with victims...since then, I have done a lot of research on the issue...some which is overwhelmingly heart breaking...last week I attended a meeting for the Sacramento Coalition of Resources to Stop Human Trafficking...it was inspiring to hear so many people speak (including the leader of the human trafficking wing of the FBI!), but so disappointing to hear of all the loop holes and lack of resources there are to help these victims...I am looking for open doors...to see where we can help and provide clothing or food or shelter...we are starting from scratch...taking on the world just one victim at a time! I am constantly bewildered...there are so many things on my heart and I ask God all the time, how is it all going to fit? I only have 90 years or so! ha He reminds me everyday that he makes a way...I can see it happening already, the trail blazed before me to follow His footsteps! You and everyone you know are invited to attend our informational night on Human Trafficking...we are having incredible speakers come and share ways that we can get involved to stopping something so evil...some amazing websites are
http://www.love146.org/ (watch the video...it's amazing...) and http://www.notforsale.com/ and http://www.worldhope.org/

Thanks for reading another LONG entry!

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Year's Resolution: UPDATE BLOG

Ok ok so I have been getting a lot of flack (rightly so) for not updating...I SWEAR to you all I will not neglect the blog any longer! ha Truth is I was surprised how many people actually do READ blogs...So here I go

Matt and I are doing great! I feel as if we have taken a breath of fresh air. Not sure what attributed to that feeling, maybe a New Year turning...but I love it! I feel very optimistic, and like God has given me a vision for our future. A new season and a new time! I can't wait!

PLEASE be praying! We are hoping to move in March (would love a cute duplex)...I can't tell you how much I want this to happen! All of our stuff is in storage...and I am finally starting to realize, oh yeah I have a whole kitchen packed away somewhere, and photos, and cute candles, and a bunch of meaningless stuff that feels like home! While we have lived without it for a year now, I can't wait to make a place our own again! We have been blessed where we are, and I can't say thank you enough for such gracious hearts...but it's time for a change!

Also add to the Matt and Ashley prayer list (because I'm sure you have one racked up by now): Matt has applied for a promotion at work...his District Manager told his Store Manager (don't you feel back in middle school now) that she loved his personality and that she was looking forward to getting to know him better...that is REALLY good news and we will know by February if he has been accepted into the store manager training program!

School starts next week (Blah...) I definitely have senioritis...ALMOST DONE! I am taking a full load (won't tell you exactly how full). My classes are really good ones this semester...I no longer have to take random electives (like jewelry making or calculus). All classes from here on out are specifically for my major which I love. I am also going to be taking classes through the Wesleyan Church to become a licensed minister! Got my little packet and recommendation letters on the to do list!

Leading the college group is UH-MAZ-ING! We had group last night and the room was overflowing! I am going to have risers built to put along the back wall to accommodate more people! AH! I have been seeking God asking Him what he wants ROOTS Young Adult Ministries to DO! What is our purpose? How can we support our church in this growing time? What do you want to challenge us with? Well, He answered! The other week or so I was cleaning out one of our rooms in the church...(Side note: I moved a HUGE book shelf all by myself from one room to the other!...just wanted to brag!)...anyway I was sorting through a trillion different books and a few random items in the room. I came across this banner from like 40 years ago that said "Playground donated in honor of Irene Peace's mother." Irene Peace is one of the matriarch's of our church...you know the dedicated sold out people that support the church no matter what...no matter what style of music or leadership comes in...She just recently had a stroke, but is doing very well now with speech therapy...and she COMES TO CHURCH every Sunday...people like this are my inspiration! To say all that, my heart broke a little when I read that banner...I looked out the window at our playground...with it's broken swing and rusted equipment...no children ever play on it (mostly because it is unsafe) and it sits at the front of our church for all the world to see...Over the next few days the playground was really on my heart...just the sadness of the whole thing...what it symbolized...a church that has been through hell and back...a battered, tired, worn down place. Since we have been there in June, there is a new spirit there! There is a spirit of adventure, of life, of love, of community that has never been there before! It is a miracle! The playground does not fit into that...God told me he wants our college group to fund raise and donate a new playground. I cried thinking of the incredible symbolism that it held...so much more than a playground...but something to show the LIFE that is infused into our bones at Crossroads! To draw families and children (which we have none of yet...just college age and over 45 for the most part) SO I announced all that nervously last night and when I finished I heard a hearty AMEN from a girl in the corner! Everyone was super excited! We are going to have a planning meeting soon, so please pray if you think of it! I can't wait to see how God uses us to bring about His plan! I can't believe this is my life! I am so blessed and honored...I am constantly reminded that God uses the weak to lead the strong...humbling to be a leader of incredible people...it is for sure that it is ALL God and no me...just a willingness to be used...that's all.

There is so much more to say which I will save for my next blog...or six blogs! But I just wanted to end on a funny holiday memory! My sisters came to town for Christmas, and my dad and I went to the airport to pick them up...you will not believe your eyes when you see the videos below! Let's just say, I hope I am still as much a child as my father is at 45!