Texas Hill Country

We had a really fun and relaxing weekend in Horseshoe Bay and hiking Enchanted Rock trail. Audrey was thrilled about swimming and going up a “mountain” with the dogs.

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choose joy

When life doesn’t go the way you expected, choose joy. This is something we have been learning as a family for a long time.

We find ourselves moving once again, this time just down the street with my parents. We moved to Waco last fall, trusting that God was leading us here to have rest and healing after a traumatic year in Denver with open heart surgeries, lots of stays at the Children’s hospital, saying goodbye to many good friends as they moved away and being so far away from family. We were so thankful that God provided us money and a place to go to just rest. We soon found a rental house and Will got a good job with Magnolia Market, we started making a few friends. We’ve been trying to make Waco home but we just don’t feel like it’s home forever. Anyway, Will was promoted to management after only working for a month and we have insurance and we see my parents almost daily.

Since we moved to our rental house, there has been a dog next door that barks incessantly when his owner is gone and sometimes over night! We’ve asked the owner three times to please do something about it and, while it seems she’s given a small effort, it just didn’t get better. Meanwhile my parents said we could stay with them and rent a couple rooms over the summer. So we decided to do it. It helps during this transition of figuring out life and what’s next. When I see other people’s lives and how settled they are, I feel so far from that place. It’s so strange to meet people and make friends when they ask what we are doing here etc, we are like “uh we don’t know”. At the same time we feel God has us here and is working in ways we don’t know. We still feel like we will move back to Denver in time, we just don’t know when.

So, we tried to settle here and it just hasn’t worked out yet. We are hoping and praying for some direction over the summer. Meanwhile, we’ve both received times of healing prayer and counseling for me. We have met some cool people and have had so many moments of joy and life.

So I was going to share once we were settled and life was perfect and sunny, but is life ever like that? I keep thinking one day we will get there but now I’m wondering if we just need to go with this and be present in each day. So, today we are choosing joy and laughter in this strange event of moving again back in with my parents. We are excited about what’s to come. Here’s some fun pictures from this past Easter weekend that I feel are really representative of our life right now😊

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War Room

Well I just saw the movie, The War Room and had to write about it. I know Christian movies can sometimes not be so good and even corny. However, this one was super good.

How is your prayer life? That is the question asked from the movie. My own personal prayer life has been spotty and inconsistent. I strive with structure in every area of my life so I’ve always done best spending time with God when I have a guideline such as a Bible Study, class or accountability group. Since having Audrey, it’s been really hard for me to make consistent time with God. When she’s asleep I just want to watch t.v. or go run to Target. When I was in high school and college I had a journal that I would regularly use for prayers and notes from my current Bible study. I basically have just been praying when I remember but definitely very rarely for others.

I’m constantly distracted by my phone, the tablet or t.v. I’m almost always online. It’s so annoying. When I saw this movie, I was so inspired and convicted (but a good conviction). In the movie the main character has a prayer room in a closet where she prays and journals.

Before Will and I married I lived with a bunch of girls in a fancy townhouse with tons of walk-in closets. There was one closet under the stairs that we decided to use as a prayer room. Everyone put different items in there to make it cozy. We spent so much time in the individually and sometimes in pairs talking, praying and journaling. Right after Will and I married I tried to use half of one our coat closets to pray but it was really squished and full so I didn’t use it that much. Our other houses didn’t have walk-in closets so I just couldn’t do the prayer room thing.

Well currently the house we are living has lots of walk-in closets. After the movie, I drove straight to the store to get a rug, some cozy throw pillows and a couple soy pumpkin scented candles. It’s super cozy and inviting. The best thing about it? There’s just enough room for one person, the pillows, candles and a journal/Bible. No room for phones, computers or tablets! You have no idea how helpful this is…. to be solely focused on praying and listening to God without the distractions of modern technology.

Make a prayer closet!!

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Well, we have lived in Waco officially for one week!

The move went pretty smoothly and we have just been unpacking and getting lost while looking for stores!

We visited two churches on Sunday, and enjoyed meeting some new people. This week our plan is to continue unpacking and to start looking for jobs.

Audrey seems to love the new house! She runs around from room to room, hiding in closets and exploring every new space. She loves running around the backyard, looking at pecans and bugs. The dogs are very happy too, as they have much more room than our Denver house.

We went to the Farmer’s Market downtown this past Saturday and we were really impressed! I found some cute, stretchy headbands and some lavender essential oils spray. We are hoping to go to these markets regularly. Here is a picture from the market:

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I can’t believe we were in Denver for 4 years! So much has changed. Here is a photo from a hike when we first moved to Denver:

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One year ago today

One year ago today Audrey had her open heart surgery.

Will and I woke up around 3:30 or 4am, got our things together and drove to Children’s hospital with Audrey. My parents followed shortly after and met us at the hospital with donuts and coffee as we awaited Audrey’s surgery.

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Audrey was taken back and we waited, talked, prayed, waited more. I was really nervous about seeing Audrey after the surgery. I knew it would be extremely difficult to see her like that and not be able to do anything. I wouldn’t be able to pick her up or feed her. I began thinking of ways I could show her that she wasn’t alone.

Finally the surgeon came back and let us know that everything was finished and it went well. Audrey did great and we would be able to see her soon. With a heavy heart, Will, my parents and I headed to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit to see Audrey.

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Audrey looked so defeated. I broke down immediately and just stood there crying. We talked to Audrey and we hugged each other. Then we took turns standing beside her and holding our hand on her head so that she could have skin to skin and feel our presence.

The first night was most definitely the hardest as we just had to push through. By the end of the night a nurse let me hold and feed Audrey. Of course I didn’t let her go after that. My mom, Will and I then began taking shifts holding her. She had a tube coming from her tummy and a bag of blood. She had a IV coming from her neck and arm. It was quite scary with all the tubes and chords but we got used to them. Audrey stayed in CICU for two nights and then we moved to the Cardiac Progressive Unit. Everyone was saying she was doing so well.

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I was so relieved when we got to the Cardiac Progressive Unit. I thought, we are so on our way out of here soon! However, we ended up staying in that unit for 4 days. Those 4 days in the hospital felt like an eternity when Audrey was throwing up everything she ate, not gaining weight and crying every time she was awake because of the medicine and pain. The nurses gave me a hard time for letting her breastfeed whenever she wanted and for not putting her down in the crib. I began to feel like I was going crazy by the 5th day in the hospital (3rd in the progressive unit). Thankfully, Audrey finally gained a little weight so everyone calmed down. The surgery was successful so she didn’t need oxygen anymore.

One night a sweet nurse brought in a swing for Audrey and we saw this beautiful smile.

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The nurses then started letting Will and I go for walks around the hospital wing.

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We went for walks a lot the last couple of nights in the hospital. My parents had gone home and we had to get out of the room to keep our sanity. One particular night we were walking in this vacant wing next to ours and there was this room with a bunch of chairs. Will and I were so exhausted we just started walking around these chairs in circles and started singing the children’s song “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” and laughing.

Audrey was finally discharged and we got to go home. Once we got home Audrey had about two weeks of really, really bad reflux where she was throwing up a ton. We finally got her the right reflux medicine and things started calming down. We never really knew “normal” with Audrey at that point because we only had 2 weeks with her when she was born when she went to the hospital for the first time. At two weeks she was put on oxygen and the doctors knew she would have surgery sometime soon. So, when we got home from her surgery and everything was over, it was like we could finally relax a little and find a new “normal”.

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This has definitely been the hardest year of our lives. We are so thankful for Audrey’s medical team and care but it has been so hard. After her surgery, her left pulmonary artery was stretched to the main pulmonary artery. The left artery is now very thin, so she has gone in for angioplasties to stretch it out. At first she was going every 3 months, then every 4 months and now it will be every 6 months. We’ve finally gotten a little more used to the angioplasties. For the last angioplasty a couple months ago, Audrey didn’t even need to stay the night. The doctor said her body is getting used to these procedures and her artery is stretching.

So we celebrate today being a year past Audrey’s open heart surgery, but we also celebrate getting through this year. We feel like it’s a symbolic new beginning with hope for the next chapter. Audrey is such a joy. She is beautiful in all it’s meanings. We praise God for Audrey and all that He has done in her life and in ours this year.

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birthdays, pumpkins and avocados, oh my!

Much needed update! Well in the past couple of months, I started working, Will went back to “school” (just one class this semester) and we’ve had the normal church/friends/life busyness. My job is going fine. I’m a nanny for a baby girl 3 months younger than Audrey. Audrey and I go to baby Olive’s house Tuesday-Thursday each week for most of the day. It’s a full 3 days and we don’t plan much else on those days but when they are done Audrey and I have 4 days of weekend. I’m thankful to have this schedule. I do get a little restless though taking care of babies. I’d like to do something else with my life but I don’t know how because Audrey is still very dependent on me right now. I’ve recently looked into volunteering with Catholic Charities so hopefully something will work out for a couple hours a week. I don’t know what I’m going to “do” with my life! I just want to encourage people or help them, I just don’t know how. It can be very frustrating!

Will is enjoying his job restoring antique furniture but he is looking into teaching opportunities. One of his professors has offered for Will to teach a class so that’s a plus. Will is going to try and start substitute teaching at Colorado Christian University next semester and hopefully make some connections there. We have also just started the process of selling our house. Our neighbor and friend is a realtor and came by last week to give us some ideas on how to get our house ready. We have been up in the air about whether we will stay here in Denver or move back to Texas or somewhere else but both Will and I feel that Denver makes the most sense still. We have our church community, friends and we love the city and the mountains. We’re hoping once we sell our house to find a good deal on a place with at least 3 bedrooms so people can come and visit more comfortably. We’d also like to foster children and eventually adopt. We’ve also talked with our friends Ryan and Karissa about buying a duplex or large home together and sharing it. So, there are a lot of options, we’ll see what happens.

We started having a home group through our church every Sunday night. It’s going well! There’s about 12 of us that meet up at someone’s house and we do a potluck dinner and hang out. So far we’ve just each shared our life story and when everyone is finished we will decide what we want to talk about next. It’s really nice to have Sunday dinners with this group of people every week, it’s beginning to feel like family.

Some of our closest friends, Matt and Stacey, recently decided they will probably move closer to their family in the next few months. We are pretty bummed about that because they are like family to us, but I guess you have to get used to people moving often in a transient city.

Here are a few recent photos of Will’s birthday and random ones. Will’s birthday was last month and I surprised him with tickets to the Denver historic homes tour (he likes old houses) and a date night to a new restaurant. Our friends babysat Audrey and it was the first time she has stayed with anyone other than my mom. She did well for the first hour and then got fussy. I think she may have gotten a little scared. Then we had celebration cake on Will’s actual birthday at our home group. Anyway, Audrey has been doing well. She is eating solid foods now about twice a day and her favorites include avocados, bananas and green beans. Anytime WIll or I drink from a cup Audrey wants to try and take a sip which is pretty cute. She’s working on crawling, she’s very active and curious. She’s still pretty happy but a little more fussy lately because I think she’s having some teething pain. She already has two bottom teeth. Oh and she’s “talking” a lot more. She says “bababa, dadada, heeeeyyy” among other things! Okay here’s the pictures.

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Okay these pictures are mixed up! Audrey is 6 months in the picture with the red striped tee, and she turned 7 months in the grey sweatshirt/pink pants outfit. Time flies! We’ve had a beautiful Fall season, as you can see from the photos. We are very thankful for our little family 🙂

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Reflecting on another upcoming surgery

 

Today we found out that Audrey will most likely need another surgery in the next year. I guess there’s really no way the doctors could have predicted this, but it still feels like a surprise. Today we had a follow up appointment after the angioplasty a few weeks ago. Dr. Shaffer explained the approximate upcoming year plan for Audrey: angioplasties every 2-3 months until Audrey’s artery is wide enough for a surgery.

Honestly there are moments of panic when I just want to move back “home” to Dallas where my parents and family live, thinking it will be better to face this reality with them. Just a few weeks ago I was suggesting to Will that we can just sell our house and move back to Dallas. However, I know that’s not what needs to be done. Driving home after the doctor appointment today I thought of this option but then quickly dismissed it. Our home is here in Denver with our church, friends and this city. Just last night Will and I were talking about how perfect my new job is, how God clearly has been providing for us. I only work Tuesday-Thursday each week and it’s a pretty peaceful situation, taking care of Audrey and one other little baby. I get a 4 day weekend every week, so it feels like I have vacation at the end of each work week. I thought about this today as I look ahead at the coming year. We make Audrey’s angioplasty appointments for Fridays, then come home Saturday and we still have Sunday and Monday off before work. It’s really going to be okay.

I asked Dr. Shaffer when all this would be over and I guess there is no answer. The surgery would make Audrey’s artery larger but then it might need to be worked on again as she grows bigger. This next surgery will hopefully solve the main issue of blood flow to her left lung and the rest would just be maintenance.

It’s really hard imagining your baby in the hospital over and over and over. This is why I have thought about moving home so many times, because I would rather hide in a cave than face this reality of being strong for Audrey. Each hospital visit is being strong and happy with her, pressing forward and hoping for the best. It’s emotionally exhausting! She is an extremely happy baby though and she’s doing so wonderfully. I thank God for her joy and for giving Will and I patience and love for her. I’m also really thankful for our Bradley Method birthing classes and Attachment Parenting for teaching Will and I how to nurture and comfort Audrey in ways I was unaware of before she was born. I have a desire to encourage other moms to hold their little babies close, especially in hospital situations. Maybe this is a new calling, maybe it’s not about me at all.

We are going to stay here in Denver though, and press forward through all of these hospital visits and another surgery. We aren’t going to focus on the visits though, we are going to continue living our life each day and finding the joy and beauty around us. I haven’t always trusted God through all of Audrey’s health issues, but I can honestly say that I know God is good and He is taking care of us.

 

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