Friday, June 21, 2013

Brooke's Graduation

I can't believe this little girl is old enough to graduate college!
Sometime around 1992 (hence the awesome jeans!)
My grandma custom made Brooke her own Pocahantas outfit
and she wore is EVERYWHERE!
This past weekend we celebrated Brooke's graduation from the University of Washington. She double majored in Psychology and Sociology. So basically, at this point in her education, she can just look at you and be able to tell you everything about how and why you are the way you are. Just a fair warning to her future husband...!

Anyways, Thursday night we gathered together to watch her graduation from the Psychology Department, and then Saturday we all trekked down to Qwest Field to celebrate with thousands of other graduates and their families. 

Some pictures from this weekend:
Pysch Graduation
Making it official!
Classic Husky Dawg pic!
With the graduate!
Proud Parents!

UW Grad!
Brooke and Sam
Grad caps
UW alumnae!

Husband and wife UW alum!
Down at Qwest Field
Graduates entering the stadium (hint: look at the bottom right of the photo...)

"Do you see her? Where is she?"
"Wait, is that her...?"
Found her!
Yep - that's her!
The variety of expressions in this photo makes me laugh...and then there is Brooke, always smiling!
Getting ready to cross the stage!
Diploma in hand!
Just a few thousand young adults who are going to be looking for jobs...congrats graduates!
Proud dad!
So proud of you Brookie!
Brooke with some of her sorority sisters: Macy, Bailey, Brooke and Sam
Outside of the Hard Rock Cafe after dinner

Dad with his girls!
Such a fun weekend celebrating Brooke!
After Brooke becomes an auntie this summer, she'll be settling into a year-long internship with the University Presbyterian Church in the U-District. She'll be working with three other interns, doing ministry outreach to college students in the area. I'm so excited to see where this next year takes her!

Giving it grace: It's so fun to watch my little sister grow up, but it's a little scary too. I find myself wanting to protect her from the realities of life after college, but also not wanting to keep her from continuing to grow into the young woman God has designed her to be. At this point in life, I consider Brooke much more of a friend than my "baby sister", but I also can't help but feel the call of God's instruction to older women in Titus 2. In Titus 2, we learn that "older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." That's a tall order! I often don't feel up to the task, as it was Brooke that ultimately led me to can I be the one to train her now? I'd love to say that I've nailed being a Titus 2 woman. In reality, I'm not sure how often I happen to do or say things that would come close to qualifying me as a Titus 2 woman. I do know, however, that when I do have moments of Titus 2 womanhood, it's 100%, undeniably Jesus - in His grace - working through me, and nothing I'm doing on my own merit. I pray that as Brooke continues to grow and mature, that I would continue to learn to be a Titus 2 woman in her life. In the meantime, I am comforted knowing that God - in His grace - is loving her and leading her down his perfect path for her life.

Love you Arnold - so proud of you!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Confession (and bump update!)

For the past six weeks I've been struggling with intense pain (numbness, tingling, burning, aching) in my arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. While that hasn't been a secret, the part I must confess is the guilt I feel when talking about the pain I've been in.

This is the dirty flip-side to struggling to get pregnant and then getting pregnant: I don't want it to ever seem like I don't want this, every second of it - painful or not. Add to that having many women in my life whom I love trying to get pregnant (or having struggled in the past), and I've found myself afraid to be honest about how I'm doing when people ask.

To be clear, I would never trade the pains related to pregnancy for not being pregnant. I wanted this so badly, and everything that goes along with it. But - I would like to trade in the guilt for the freedom to be open about the experience of being pregnant - even the painful parts.

That begs the question though: how does one talk about the physical pains of pregnancy without sounding ungrateful, or worse - seeming to be unaware that there women out there that would give anything to be experiencing the pain I have been in? I'm not sure if it's possible, but if it is, here goes.

The reason I bring this up is because I feel compelled to share what I've taken away from this experience. Mid-way through the whole ordeal, instead of thinking about the pain itself, I began thinking about God's comforts in the face of pain. His comfort has come in the form of those who have tried everything in their power to alleviate my pain, and those who have surrounded me in encouragement and lifted me up in prayer. God was there through Kyle at 2:30 AM in the morning when I was crying in pain for the 12th night in a row. God was there through my dad when he drove around town to pick me up a heating blanket, bring it to me on the couch, plug it in, and tuck me in it. God was there through my community group, and my mom's community group, as they were praying constantly for relief for me. God was there through my girlfriends when they texted me repeatedly to see how I was doing. God was there through both my employers as they were gracious and sympathetic when I had to miss work because I hadn't slept, and couldn't use my hands even if I had slept.

And most importantly, God was there to make all of this clear to me in the wee hours of the morning. Instead of wallowing in my situation, God pulled another one of His "here I am - right here with you" maneuvers that I've come to expect from Him. I could feel the desire to whine, complain, mope, or cry out "it's not fair!" And I could feel God ushering me to turn away from that, and look at what He was trying to show me: that His actual promises are way better than the promises I make up for myself. Never does God promise a life on earth without pain (He promises that for heaven, not earth). My initial frustration in my pain was a direct result of me demanding something of God that He never promised me.

Instead, He promises something much better: His comfort for me, during this life on earth. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 says: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort."

While this scripture uses the word "comfort" abundantly, there are countless additional verses in scripture that subtly indicate God's comfort is always evident and available. The only thing that bars us from it is when we decide to define comfort in our own personal way, instead of looking for it in God's promised ways.

Now - without further adieu, bump updates! You'll see in the pics below that we gave up on fruit and veggie comparisons. The pregnancy websites are surprisingly inconsistent on what fruit/veggie comparisons go with each week, and we made the mistake of bouncing back and forth between two websites not realizing they would overlap. Also, I couldn't feel my hands/fingers during most of these photos so the chalkboard "art" is more like chalkboard...nothing.

I hadn't slept the night before this picture, and had spent much of the past
24 hours before it crying. As much as I like to "keep it real", I gotta draw the line somewhere! 

Giving it grace: So how does this update end? Kyle and I tried the following to ease the pain in my arms (in this order):
  • Tylenol 
  • Me sleeping our bed, sitting up
  • Pregnancy aerobics
  • Me sleeping on the couch, sitting up with no cushion on either side of me (so my arms could extend down perfectly straight)
  • Sleeping pills prescribed by my OBGYN; these worked for about 3 nights until I started waking up despite them. A drowsy, crying pregnant woman at 1AM in the morning should be every husband's worst nightmare.
  • Physical therapy (they had no idea what was wrong, but tried lymph nod massage...?)
  • Water aerobics 
  • Acupuncture (nothing like a needle in your forehead when you can't feel your hands!)
  • Me sleeping on the couch, sitting up, with wrist braces on to keep my wrists perfectly straight
You get the idea - we tried everythinggggggg. Then, I was reading in one of my pregnancy books one night and came across something I had read about many times: pregnancy carpel tunnel. Having had wrist surgeries before, I called up a well-known wrist and hand doctor and made an appointment. Sure enough, I had "advanced" pregnancy carpel tunnel that had been wrecking havoc on my circulation for weeks. I was given cortisone shots on the spot (safe for baby but boy do they HURT!). Once the soreness of the shots faded, I began feeling relief by the next day. 

Now, I'm in a place that's bearable. I'm still experiencing numbness that requires me to sleep sitting up for most of the night, and the numbness also often prevents me from daily activities I used to take for granted: writing, using a toothbrush, doing my make-up or hair. Clearly, typing is manageable, but in small doses (it's taken me a week to draft this blog post! But overall, the intense pain has subsided for now, and that makes me thankful. 

Would I change this experience? Never. God used that pain to get my attention. Had I not been giving my attention, I would have missed Him working in the lives of those around me, and I would have missed His comfort. And I would much prefer His comfort to any comfort on this earth, because His comfort is surrounded in grace and will never disappoint!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Maternity Pics

When I was about 20 weeks pregnant, I thought getting maternity photos would be a really fun thing to do. When you're 20 weeks pregnant, anything baby-related sounds great - because you're typically past the morning sickness phase, but haven't yet gotten to the increased blood volume/massive water retention/where are my ankles/I feel like a baby whale phase.

I contacted a friend and fabulous photographer who helped with some of our wedding day photos to see if she was available to do the photos, and got on her calendar for the week we returned from Hawaii. At that time, I was thinking "oh great, I'll be nice and relaxed - and tan".

What I didn't consider was that at the time of the photos, I would definitely be in the "I feel like a baby whale" phase, and that my previous week on vacation eating pancakes, shaved ice, and pizza would not be helping my situation.

Also, I'm super awkward at being photographed in general. Picture me like Chandler in this video:

I was thisclose to canceling the photos, but Kyle made me go because we had already paid for them.

And let me tell you - after a few hours with Stacy - I felt like the most beautiful pregnant woman there ever was. Pregnant ladies - Stacy is THE gal you want behind that lens taking your picture when you are wondering if you will ever see your ankles again. She made me feel SO comfortable, and just "ohh-ed" and "ahh-ed" from behind the lens the entire time. Even if she was faking her excitement over the photos, it totally worked at boosting my confidence! Kyle and I ended up having a really fun and relaxed time, and have nothing but positive memories of the experience - and that's the whole point of capturing the moment, right?

Here are a few pics from the session (you can see more of her work on her blog or on Facebook!):

Giving it Grace: This article was circulating on Facebook a while ago; it's an article about moms actually being in photos with their kids. I remember reading it thinking "of course I'll want to be in the pictures I take of my kids!" I'm sure when I read the article I wasn't pregnant, and didn't know what it felt like to wear your hair up in a wet bun for 2 weeks straight because work, life, and pregnancy is exhausting you (and I don't even have any kids yet!). Leading up to these maternity photos, however, I got a glimpse of the "I don't want to be in the photo" feeling that the article is talking about. I was glad Kyle was there to encourage me to just capture the moment, regardless of how I "felt" about myself. I want to try and remember that feeling when I'm taking pictures of Drew, and purposely ducking out of the photo because I haven't lost the pregnancy weight yet, or because I haven't done my make-up in 11 days. And of course, I pray that God will give me the grace I need to remember that how I feel can be a powerful but deceitful influence on my attitude about things. Feelings are fleeting, but the memory (or picture) of a moment can last forever!

(As an alternative to all that, I also just wish that Stacy could just follow our family around and take pictures of us...!)