Saturday, May 26, 2012

In Awe

He is perfect.  Seriously.  I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how God knits our children within our wombs and knows exactly how to fashion them for us.  With and after each pregnancy I have endured, I become more in awe of God and His ability to create to perfection. 

When Daniel was born, after months of ultrasounds for high kidney fluid levels, we learned that the fluid was gone.  This, of course, was amazing to his doctors (and us), but NOT to his God.  When Samuel was born at 38 weeks instead of when he had tried to come at 33 and on his big brother's first birthday, he was healthy and thriving.  We feared the trama of pre-term labor may have effected him, but there is no fear in God.  When Elias was born, his ambilical cord was wrapped around his neck.  His purple tint was alarming to my husband, but NOT to my God. 

Years of miscarriages and healthy babies have taught me that life is not in my hands.  I have realized that it is not my responsibility to worry or fear over what could happen or what might have been.  God is constantly working out all things for our good if we love Him (Romans 8:28). 

Had you asked me 4 years ago what good came out of my first miscarriage, I would have said, "Nothing."  However, today, I can see the good, and its name is Daniel.  Had I never miscarried, I would have never had Daniel.  I cannot fathom not having this rambunctious, determined, intelligent boy in my life. 

Had you asked me what good came out of getting pregnant when my firstborn was only 3 months old, I would have told you then that it wasn't.  However, today, I see the face of my sweet Samuel, and I understand why God gave him to us so quickly.  He teaches us to love deeper.  He shows us how to laugh harder.  He makes us feel special by just being in his presence because he cares for us that much.

Ask me what good came out of my fourth pregnancy, and I can tell you that miscarrying wasn't easy or good.  It broke my heart but it allowed me to appreciate my two living children in ways I cannot explain.  I looked at heaven differently as well...  I began looking forward to it instead of being afraid to die.

Just recently, I've heard the phrases, "This oughta be good," and "How will you handle it?" in reference to being pregnant again (fifth child) with two toddlers at home.  I'll tell you now that then I responded with, "It's going to be hard," and "I don't know what God was thinking."  Today, I'm seeing so much more of God in my full house.  I will say that it is difficult and I still don't know exactly why God allowed me to have another child so quickly, but I won't question what God has given me. 

My heart is so overwhelmed with joy that I cannot put it into words.  These are HIS plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and I certainly believe they are far better than any I could have made for myself.  Looking around at my blessings today reminded me just how awestruck I am over my God.  He is far too good to me, and yes, He and His plans are absolutely perfect.

The big brothers welcome baby Elias home.

Daniel is quite thrilled when holding Elias.

Samuel loves to give his baby brother kisses.

My Three Sons :)

I wanna give it to him, Momma.

Laying in the floor together.

Sharing a sweet moment together.

Look at my rockets, Elias!

Sticker time at the table,
and yes, Elias had to join in.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Day Samuel Turned Two

Turning two really didn't seem to matter that much to Samuel until he actually realized it was his birthday.  We, of course, had to stay home with the baby being only 6 days old, but we wanted to make certain Samuel felt special on his big day.  So, here is his second birthday in pictures...

Enjoying his Sonic milkshake
the night before his actual birthday.

Waiting for Daddy to bring out
the surprise the morning of his birthday.

Happy to help.

Mimi came to visit and helped Samuel
with his dinosaur stickers.

Pretending to be a puppy
while waiting for his drink.

Helping Daddy with the surprise some more.

Getting to try out the new trampoline!

Opening up his birthday card from Pop and Gra-Ju

Loving his SINGING Elmo card from
Aunt Cathy, Uncle Ricky,
Zach, and Anna Laura.

Listening to Elmo sing
"Happy Birthday" to him!

Ms. Jennifer also came to visit Samuel...
They went to the park, went down the slide,
and then fed the birds in our backyard.
Samuel ate most of his "bird food."
He loves crackers.

Getting ready to blow out his candles
on the cake ball(s) Ashley made for us!

Samuel Cannot Already Be Two

I'm just sayin'...

This week, among the craziness that is life with three boys under three, our sweet Samuel Levi turned 2 years old.  It's almost surreal thinking that two years ago, I was holding Samuel in my arms, and today, two years later, he's wanting to hold his newborn baby brother in his arms.  I'm so proud of him...  how he's adjusted, grown, and blossomed in the past two years.  He is an amazing gift to our family.  His sweet personality fills our home with such joy and peace.  God knew what He was doing when He gave us Samuel two years ago.

In His 24th Month, Samuel:
Weighed 28.5 lbs (50th percentile).
Was 32 inches tall (10th percentile).
Wore size 18 month clothes.
Wore a size 5 1/2 extra wide in shoes.
Still in size 4 diapers.
Had no interest in the potty.
Really liked milkshakes.
Became a fan of swinging.
Liked going for walks
     or rides in the stroller.
Was scared of slides, bugs, and strangers.
Liked playing in boxes and/or buckets.
Was a great "pretender."
Began throwing temper tantrums.
Disliked being told what to do.
BUT usually followed directions.
UNLESS it involved finishing his meal...
     in order to have desert.
His tantrums usually involved:
     crying unconsolably.
     saying, "no," over and over.
     running to his bedroom.
     laying in his bed.
     getting tired of crying.
     coming out of room as if nothing happened.
Loved, loved, loved books.
Disliked sunscreen.
Loved his big brother.
Was always singing.
Had his "End of Year" program for MDO.
Actually stayed on the stage!
Didn't cry at all!
Really enjoyed balloons.
Had his last day of MDO (until summer).
Celebrated Mother's Day with Mommy.
Ate sweet potatoes and green beans that day.
Gave Mimi her Mother's Day shutterfly book.
Liked looking at the pictures with her.
Spent lots of time with Ms. Jennifer.
Loved to talk on the phone.
Got to meet (or be completely frightened by)
     Bob and Larry from Veggie Tales
     at Chick Fil A's family night.
Did NOT like the crowd or the cows.
Really liked his puppy dog balloon.
Spent the day before baby brother arrived
     at McDonalds eating fries and ice cream,
     taking a walk around the neighborhood,
     and reading books with Mommy.
Got to meet his baby brother in the hospital!
Wasn't too sure of Elias at first.
Loved him once he got to touch him.
Danced around the hospital room!
Spent his birthday at home, getting loved on.
Got a mini-trampoline!
Yes, he actually jumped on it.
Got two awesome birthday cards in the mail!
Talked up a storm!
Had the most hilarious out-loud laugh!
Always wanted to wear a hat.
Became a bit mischievious.
Started using stools to unlock doors.

Samuel's Favorites this Month:
  • Color:  green
  • Book:  How Do Dinosaurs Laugh Out Loud?
  • Song:   ABCs, My God is So Big
  • People:  Daddy, Ms. Jennifer, Daniel, Mimi
  • Food:  hamburger, spaghetti, rolls or biscuits
  • Snack:  ice cream, gummies, watermelon, grapes
  • Toy:  balloons, swingset, telephones
  • Movie:  none (he'd rather read or sing)

Popular Phrases:
  • Where's he going?
  • Daniel Johnson!
  • No, don't do that.
  • Oh, my goodness!
  • Goodness gracious.
  • He's so funny.
  • What're you doing?
  • I hungry.
  • I wanna snack.
  • Let me go outside.
  • I ready to go.
  • It's my favorite.
  • That one (when choosing between two things).
  • I need to call _____.
Pictures from Samuel's 24th Month:

Swinging at the park with Grandpa

Showing Mimi all of his bedtime buddies

Soaking up story time before bed

HAS to have a hat...
Someone please buy this child a Vandy one!

Loving on his big brother

Noticing a balloon onthe ceiling
at his MDO program

Mother's Day 2012

At Chick Fil A's Family Night

He tolerated the oversized Bob and Larry;
he handled the crazy balloon man, but
the Chick Fil A cows were too much for Samuel!

This picture still makes me
laugh hysterically,
because Mimi was upset over
how upset Samuel was. 

His face made it clear that he
DID NOT want the cows
coming to our table!

Who needs fries when you can have ketchup?!

Our last walk and night as a family of four!

Meeting baby brother for the first time

Welcoming his baby home!
Playing with Elias' feet

I can do it, Mommy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Your Great Name(s)

Written by my husband, Brian

As many of you know, choosing baby names has been an adventure in our household. I’ll never forget about 5 weeks before Daniel was born trying to persuade Jenna that all of her "ETJ" and "Elijah" monogrammed bags and burp cloths were not going to be of any use if she wanted to keep up with the fashion of having your baby’s name match up to all of the monogrammed baby items. We had originally chosen the name Elijah Thomas for the baby’s name. However, life changed quickly, and the Lord spoke clearly. Our first born son's name was going to be Daniel Benjamin. Daniel means, “My LORD is Judge.” Benjamin means “Son of my Right Hand.” When you put them both together, it describes the hope that Jenna and I have in our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because God will judge sin, it is appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment. Man has no hope in and of himself. We need a Savior, and Jesus, God’s Son, sits at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. He is an all-sufficient and all-satisfying Savior. As our three-year-old walks around the house, his name reminds us of the glorious gospel which has changed our lives.

Four months later, the Lord decided to give us another surprise. I was shocked when Jenna used a positive pregnancy test as a bookmark in my Bible on Psalm 139. This psalm exalts God’s all-seeing eye from the womb to the tomb and beyond. He sees everything, and He knew how surprised we were. This would mean that our boys would be 13 months apart. Although, we had lost her grandmother, my granddaddy, a child to miscarriage, my dad, and my mom, God had heard our prayer much like he did Hannah’s in the book of Samuel. This is the name we chose, because Samuel meant “heard of God" or "asked of God.” God, our Abba Father, hears the cries of his children both day and night. He definitely was showing us that He could do more than we could ask or think. Since the boys we so close, we chose the middle name to be Levi. It means, “joined together.” The Levites were also the servants in the Temple and the tribe from which the High Priest came. Our Samuel Levi loves his brother and loves to pretend to have a song book in his hand as he sings his heart out. It is our prayer that he becomes a mighty man of God like Samuel was in the Old Testament.

This week, on Thursday, May 17th, we welcomed our third son, Elias Joseph, into the world.

Now, you may be wondering how we chose the name Elias Joseph for our third son. If you remember, Daniel was supposed to be Elijah Thomas. This may be a story I will never live down. We have always been fond of the name Elijah. He was a common man who served the Uncommon God. He was a man who stood boldly for the truth before King Ahab, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Ashterah in one of the greatest showdowns in history. You can read Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 17- 2 Kings 2. The reason we chose this name is because Elias (a derivative of Elijah) means, “My LORD is God.” When Jenna saw his face on the ultrasound picture on January 5th, this is the name the Lord spoke to her heart. After telling the boys about the two names we had chosen, they both would walk around saying “E-li-as.”

His name will be a great reminder for us as we grow old together. There is only One True God, and we are living in a culture of toleration where the Bible and absolute truth are seen as old fashioned and outdated. The prophet Elijah was not afraid to stand in the face of doubters, skeptics, or the confused and say, “Let the true God answer by fire.” I have stood on Mt. Carmel in Israel and taught from 1 Kings 17-18. The plain surrounding the mountain would have provided a magnificent picture of the glory of God as He answered Elijah’s prayer by sending down fire from heaven. We still need some fire to be kindled in the heart of God’s people. We are serving the eternal God, and He is able to do extraordinary things through common people who are submitted to His will.

Our little one's middle name is Joseph. This happens to be a family name and a Biblical name. My great grandfather was named William Joseph Johnson, but we called him Pappy Joe. He was a man of God. It has been told to me on a few occasions that he had read the Bible so much that he could cross-reference verses back and forth from the Old Testament to the New Testament. His grandfather’s name was also Joseph. Beyond the family tree, the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis is one of my favorite. This young man had God-given dreams of greatness, but he did not know that he would be betrayed, sold into slavery, lied about, or abandoned in prison. However, God was with him producing a heart of humility, service, faith, conviction, and forgiveness. In the end, Joseph told his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant it for good. Joseph was able to completely forgive his brothers for all the wrong they had done against him. His life is a beautiful picture of what Jesus has accomplished for us— salvation in a world suffering from a spiritual famine, forgiveness of sins, and hope for today and tomorrow through His infinite wisdom and grace.

Throughout our marriage, we have experienced the meaning of Joseph’s name, “God will Increase.” We have been in pits, tight spots, spinning cars, and crossroads wondering what we should do. Our Sovereign Lord has been watching over us through it all and given us sufficient grace to meet each challenge. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Moments after Arriving:
Thursday, May 17, 2012
12:06 p.m.
8 lbs, 12 oz
20 inches long

Mommy, Daddy, and Elias

Big Brothers, Samuel and Daniel,
Meet Elias for the First Time

Ten Tiny Toes

One Amazing Gift

On this day (5/17), we want to introduce you to Elias Joseph and to remind you of the following verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). God is truly making all things new!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Delightfully Different

It's been pointed out to me more than once today that next week everything will be different.  Oh, how I long for different!  I've become more and more overwhelmed excited that there will be three little ones dwelling within our four walls in the last few days.  Maybe because I'm ready to stop having heartburn or that I'm anxious to sleep comfortably again even if for only a few, short hours...  Either way, I cannot wait to see what God has in store.

It's hard to imagine change when it hasn't happened yet.  I cannot put into words how many times I've thought about the upcoming arrival and wondered how it would effect our family.  I've worried over Daniel and Samuel's reactions, and I have even tried thinking of ways to manage it all.  But, honestly, what do I know?!  There's not much that's certain right now...  yet I know that my Lord has chosen us for such a time as this.  He's allowed me to carry this child to 39+ weeks (who would have thought?!), and He'll carry me through whatever it is that lies ahead.

I'm delighted to see the work of God's hands.  I've been looking into my boys' faces so much differently this week as we anticipate the birth of this, our third son.  I have seen how wonderfully God designed Daniel and Samuel and how amazingly different each of them is.  However, I've noticed how much they resemble Brian and me,  how their personalities reflect our good qualities and our not-so-flattering traits, and how God intended us to be their parents.  What will this boy be like?  Who will he favor?  Will he be rambunctious like Daniel or timid like Samuel?  Will he have Mommy's nose like the other two boys or will he have Daddy's stature?  It's all so thrilling when I think next week will be different, Lord willing, and I will have another God-given face to view.

Next week.  We cannot wait to see you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Things I'm Getting Good at Repeating

  • Lord, if this baby could just come today...
  • It is so hot in here.
  • Did you turn off the air?
  • Daniel, stay out of the refrigerator.
  • You cannot have another snack.  You've already had 4.
  • Daniel, where does pee-pee go?  
  • Son, please hurry up.
  • We are late, that's why.
  • Because I said so, that's why.
  • Come here.
  • Stay out of the closet!
  • This is your warning, Daniel.  
  • Samuel, a bowl is the same as a (ziploc) bag.  Just eat your snack.
  • You are not eating anymore _____.  Your belly is going to be sick!
  • Whoa, be easy!
  • Get OFF of him!
  • Keep your hands to yourself.
  • Take your shoes off.  We aren't going anywhere.
  • Baby, I'm sorry.  We cannot go shopping at Target today.
  • I'm sorry, sweetie.  I can't take you to Chicken Lay again today.
  • You are NOT sick.  You do NOT need to go to the doctor.
  • A sucker is the last thing you need.
  • Those are Samuel's shorts.  Why are YOU wearing them?
  • Mommy's sorry for being too tired for Play-doh.
  • Please do NOT make a mess with that.
  • I can't take you outside right now.  Maybe when Mommy's not so big...
  • Three boys?  Lord, how in the world?!
It's quite obvious from my most-used phrases lately that life is a bit hectic and overwhelming.  It could be that I am nine months pregnant and hormonal, but I am beginning to realize that there are only a few days left before this baby comes and I'll no longer be a mother of two.  It's hard to imagine how life could change any more than it already does on a constant basis, but I know that God has great plans for our family.  I'm excited to see what's in store.  While my current position is challenging at times, I don't want to take one crazy, frustrated, wild moment for granted.  I am so blessed.  I really, really am.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Waiting on You

For eight months, I have waited on you.  I've envisioned what you have in store for me.  I've pictured the gift that is to come.  I've imagined holding this baby in my arms while frantically taking care of our other two boys.  I have endured the kicks, scrapes, and emotions along the way, and yet, here I am, still waiting on you. 

There are many things I've waited on in my mere 29 years.  I've waited to lose my first tooth, receive my first kiss, and drive my first car.  I waited not-so-patiently for the man I was to marry to be revealed to me.  I waited through an almost unbearable 4 months of depression after losing our first child to miscarriage to finally feel at peace.  I waited through 21 hours of labor and then 2 full hours of pushing to finally meet our firstborn son.  I waited through 8 days of magnesium, 10 days of bed rest, and 2 more weeks for our second son to arrive healthy and full term.  More recently, I have waited in the children's ER for the doctors to put a cast on my toddler's broken leg.  To be honest, I've waited on people, children, flights, phone calls, and a number of other things, but in all my years, I have learned that there is nothing more difficult to wait upon than the Lord.

Yet, it is my pleasure to do so.  Had I not waited on Him all those times before, I cannot fathom what a mess I would have made out of those situations.  I've been reminded today of this jewel, But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  I have found myself waiting quite impatiently for the Lord to allow this pregnancy to come full term before His time. 

However, God's plan and timing are not to be compared or interfered with or even attempted to be changed.  He knows exactly what He has in store for me.  He knows everything about this child in my womb, and He knows when he should arrive.  It is my honor and privilege to wait for God to make His move.  He promises to give me strength to endure, and He gladly speaks sweet words of encouragement in my ears and to my heart.  That's what the verse in Isaiah 40:31 did for me today.  It allowed me to hear the voice of my Father, saying, "Just wait."

Can you imagine what He has in store for us?!  All of the things I had wanted for my life are nothing in comparison to what God has ended up blessing me with.  Are we too impatient and fast-paced in this busy life to allow God to take His time and BLESS US far above what we could ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20)?!  Today, I'm learning to be grateful and patient in this season of waiting.  What (and who) lies ahead is most definitely worth it!