Newborn & Family Pictures

Evie's birth announcement

Here are some of Evangeline's newborn pictures and family pictures taken by our amazing friend Amanda Elpers at our home when Evie was 10 days old. If you are in the Indianapolis area, definitely give Amanda a call to do your pictures!    

I just love these ones where she is all curled up. Makes me think of how she must've looked hangin' out inside my belly for 9 months. 

 Aww... a Daddy and his girl. 

Love that newborn swirly hair.
 My two babes... sweetness.
 It doesn't get much better than this! 


Our New Normal

Wow. Almost 8 weeks have really already passed since Evie was born? That is crazy! I need to "catch-up"on all the happenings of our "new normal." I will hopefully do better with the blogging since our craziness is starting to settle into a routine.

The past 7/8 weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of visitors, outings, and hosting. Crazy? Absolutely. Fun? Absolutely. I told Jon that with the next newborn, I think I'm going to go into hibernation mode. I just can't "recover" as fast from all these activities and I feel like my little girl is growing up way too fast in everyone else's arms!

My favorite, most fond memory of the last 7/8 weeks was our first afternoon and evening home. It was just the four of us and it couldn't have been more lovely (even among my pain from birth, a crying newborn, and a very hyper 2 year old). When we got home from the hospital, Jon set me up a spot right in the middle of the living room with a rocking chair, a little side table for all my stuff, and something to put my feet on. I couldn't go up and down the stairs and wasn't really able to do much. But it was so nice to be home. So nice to be just us. Next child? More days like this in the beginning.

Our new normal. 1st night at home.
An extremely hyper two year old, sooooo happy for his Mommy and Daddy to be home WITH him.
Evie's first storytime with her Daddy and big brother Mekonen. I cannot get over how tiny she is in this picture. My how big she is now. 
E & M ... my babies
Evie's 1st night at home in her bassinet. She looked like a glow-worm. 

Evie's Sleeping
The first several weeks were rough, not necessarily the getting up in the middle of the night to nurse thing, but more so the crying. Evie cried and cried from about 10:30pm-3am most nights and nothing would console her. Many times, I could be found, hanging over the side of the bed, with my head resting on her bassinet, rubbing her back, both of us crying. Oh boy. Daddy spent a lot of time walking Evie around. One night she was screaming at the top of her lungs, and I was extremely annoyed at Jon for something. Then Jon started "racing" around the dining room table and marching the length of our downstairs. I just started cracking up. It was too funny...and it made her stop crying, and made both of us start laughing. Gripe water and gas drops became our best friends those first several weeks (although sometimes they didn't work one bit!) Luckily, that has gotten much better. She has some crying issues like such earlier in the evening now, around 8-10pm or so. But I can handle that cause she is sleeping at night!

The middle of the night feedings were rough... mostly because I was having such a hard time staying awake when she was eating. If I fell asleep, then Evie fell asleep, and she wouldn't have had a full feeding. Often times I would use that time to read. Thankfully Jon was able to sleep through most of it. He set up a little light for me on my side of the bed and my night table was stocked full of baby supplies, books, and magazines!

Those late night feedings had me looking like this, during those daytime feedings. Yep, I have a newborn. (I look hideous, but oh well. Tis the season right?) 
My cousin Jessica arrived the weekend after Evie was born. She was such a huge help with Mekonen, playing with him, entertaining him, etc, while I figured out how to care for this itty bitty newbie in our family. She is a Cubs fan and had my kids all "cubbied out." Adorable.

For the first several weeks after Evie was born, Mekonen was SUPER hyper! He was all over the place, just goin' crazy. Maybe this was his way of dealing with the new changes.
My parents arrived the following week and I was so glad to see them! We went to the Children's Museum, out to eat, the park, etc, etc! My Mom and I did a lot of shopping and she went way overboard spoiling us and our babes. Mekonen absolutely loved all the attention he got from his Grandma. And Grandma was extremely encouraging about everything, literally everything. Even my two year old who thinks that since he has a new sister that he doesn't have to obey right away. Oh little boy, not on your life! We were so sad for them to leave. If I type anymore about this, I may burst into tears. I miss my family like CRAZY.

We literally had friends pouring in and out of our home for weeks. It was so fun!!!! What a blessing to have so many people love on our little family. Friends prepared meals for us too which was a great help.

 Evie Rae's first bath at home! Let's just say she did not appreciate it! 
This picture cracks me up. She always puts her hands like this. 
Peek-a-boo!! Where does she get those stinkin' adorable lips?!?!?! Oh so kissable!
This simple little outfit is one of my favs!! And that smile? To die for!

 Glimpses of Evie Rae's first several weeks.
1 week old
I can't believe how alert she was, even at one week. She was smiling the first week, and no it wasn't just gas! When I talked to her, she would get the cutest little grin on her face. 
 2 weeks old
I LOVE how Evie konws my smell and knows my voice. It is THE.BEST. When she is crying (whether being held by someone else, or in her bed, etc), and I pick her up and start talking to her, she almost always settles right down and snuggles in. I love it. One night Jon and I had Evie laying between us in bed talking to her. Everytime I talked to her, she would smile. Then when Jon would talk, she would furrow her eyebrows. Haha. It was so funny! 
 3 weeks old
 4 weeks old
Evie followed my face at just about a month old (April 27th). It was so cute. She kept staring at me and every time I moved she followed me with her head and eyes. Cutie.
 5 weeks
Evie started sleeping about 5 hours at night around 5 weeks old. Now that was glorious! Yeah, I can do five! What a nice milestone. :) And now, her 1st tutu!
6 weeks
Seems like the weeks correspond with the sleep! Miss Evie is now sleeping about 5-6 hrs. at a time during the night! She is becoming more and more social and responds with huge smiles when you talk to her. 

All in all, adjusting to this little babe wasn't as dramatic as people said it would be. And, Miss Evie is now sleeping 7-8 hrs. at night (so that probably helps A LOT)! Wahoo!!! Yeah, it wasn't a piece of cake, and there's a lot of adjusting to do, but all in all, I'd say it's been great and pretty much what I expected. So we continue on to find our new normal! Thanks for being patient with my slow blogging! 


My Children Create Motherhood

Mother's Day... a day that is packed full of so many things for me, especially this year. 

First of all, I want to say my Mother is incredible. I look back at my childhood and am so thankful that God chose to give me to the Mother He did. So much of myself, so much of who I am, I owe to my Mom. She loves Jesus. She loves my Dad. She loves her kids and grandbabies. She is extremely, extremely intentional. This is one of her many qualities that I love. When I think on my childhood my mind goes to my Mother in all those motherly ways that many of us are blessed to experience such as hugs, kisses, cheers, and the like. But on top of that, my mind goes to how my Mom was intentional. Another way to say it is Purposeful Living. In my New Year's blog post I wrote about purposeful living... my Mom displays that in practically every way. Part of what I wrote...

"Often times, it is so easy to coast through life, stuck on auto-pilot, going about our day to day business without ever realizing the kinds of moments we have let go by. Living purposefully. That means living with intent, being direct and specific with how we go about our days and our relationships with our children, our spouses, and friendships."

When I was writing that blog post, I just kept thinking of my Mom. How I want to be for my children what she was for me. Not a day went by that she wasn't intentionally involved in our lives. We weren't ushered into the other room to play by ourselves all the time. Rather, she incorporated us into what she was doing, always spent time playing with us, teaching us, taking us places, and setting up our lives in such a way that she was intentional. Everything had a purpose. I see her like this with my children... and my sisters' children. All the daily tasks that need to be done, and the relaxing I'm sure she'd like to do after a long day, are always placed aside as she displays intentionality with our children... playing, teaching, and spending time with them. What a Mom! What a Grandma! What an incredible legacy I have. What an incredible legacy my children are blessed to experience. Thank you Mom!

I never thought much about all that Mother's day entails before my children came into my life. I think on Mother's Day with love & gratitude for my Mother, with courage and strength for Enat, my son's birthmother, with love, joy and amazement for my children, and with heaviness for those longing to be mothers who aren't yet. 

I have come to know, more than anything, how motherhood has nothing to do with biology (previous post). Maybe this is why I am often rubbed the wrong way when mothers who have physically birthed children elevate/idolize pregnancy itself, the birthing experience, and all that it entails. I understand where they are coming from. Pregnancy was amazing and something I have always longed to experience. To see what it would feel like for a babe to be growing inside my belly. And the birth of my second child was thrilling, but not any more than the arrival of our son from Ethiopia. Sometimes, when pregnancy and the birthing experience is made into an "idol of motherhood," it can send a wrong and painful message to people whose experiences do not fit that mold. 

"You have a story to tell..." 
It might sound funny, but these words spoken to me by a friend just a couple weeks after Evie's birth were used by God to greatly encourage my heart. Our plan for Evie's birth didn't go as we hoped it would and it ended in a c-section, which I was hoping to avoid. I wasn't wanting to have major abdominal surgery. I was hoping for a problem free vaginal delivery. I wanted to experience pushing my baby out and her slimy wiggly body being placed on my belly within her first few moments of life. My doctor was even going to let Jon pull her out and hand her to me. That's what I had in my mind. 

As you know from Part 1 of Evangeline's story, I ended up with a c-section for complications out of my control. Obviously, God had different plans and knew exactly how Evie's birthday would come about. And, when she arrived I was completely fine with it! All I cared about was my baby and she was here! 

So, Evie arrived... we were overjoyed, elated, and extremely thankful for this beautiful baby girl. I didn't think badly about my c-section. I didn't care that it was how she arrived. After all, the end goal was a healthy baby and that was exactly what we got. I was proud. I was filled with joy.  I thought nothing more of it. We had a beautiful baby girl whom we love more than we could ever imagine. She's here! She's healthy. She's safe. Her special day, her birthday, didn't end in tragedy. Our family and friends flooded us with celebration from near and far! We were all healthy and doing great! Becoming a Mom again happened in a different way this time, through birth instead of adoption. But it wasn't any more glamorous, exciting, invigorating, or full of love, than when we picked up our son from Ethiopia. Equally wonderful feelings, just different avenues of arriving into our family. 

But unfortunately, it is not always seen that way. I have encountered numerous occasions where the physical act of pregnancy and a specific way of birth- i.e. vaginal birth, became what seemed to be valued above the rest. Suddenly, thoughts I never thought would happen came creeping into my heart and I became deeply discouraged. I didn't know quite how to process them. 
  • Suddenly, I felt like there was something "wrong with me," like my body "failed me" and I wasn't good enough. It was the comments about the physical act of "motherhood"... things like, "I must have been born to have children." Or, "God made my body to experience birth," "I must be fertile Myrtle," or "My birthing hips made my vaginal delivery easy and without drugs." Whether they are meant to or not, these kinds of comments send the message that "being a mother and woman is synonomous with a specific way of bringing children into one's family, and it's more glorious for them to arrive vaginally." My body and birthing experience didn't fit this mold and therefore I felt less than in both categories. 
  • There is so much pressure in certain circles to have natural childbirth. It's talked about in a way that elevates it far above a c-section (and I don't mean for the obvious reasons such as avoiding major abdominal surgery), but instead it's often elevated in a "vaginal birth somehow makes you more of a 'woman', and more connected to your child." Many people in these circles talk about c-sections almost as if they are always the fault of the mother or the medical profession. It can come across as though a woman can't experience that extremely overwhelming love for her baby and that they somehow "missed out" on experiencing them. The constant talk and idolization of these things brought such dark discouragement to my heart. And that's when the words, "You have a story to tell" spoke to my heart. 
  • It's not all about HOW Evangeline arrived. It's about the fact that she HAS arrived. Yes, a woman's body is designed to give birth vaginally, it's designed to do things on its own, etc. But that doesn't mean there won't ever be complications out of our control, and it certainly is not the end of the world! 
I was expressing some of these thoughts to a friend at dinner. She basically echoed all I have written in one way or the other (and she has experienced vaginal and cesarean birth, as well as adoption). Simply put she said, "You have a baby! That's the end goal. Who cares! You have a story to tell."

And yes! I have another story to tell about becoming a Mom again. Evie has a story to tell. Her story. Delivery (no matter what form it is in) or the complete absence of pregnancy and delivery, does not make someone a mother. It's not part of "becoming a mother" in some euphoric, mystical way. Yes, I knew this already (obviously through the adoption of our son). But I didn't see how that fit together with this experience until now. So how do I know this about becoming a mother? Because I wake up every day to this brown-eyed, dark skinned boy, whom I love more than my life itself...whose body I did not carry inside mine.
  • And, like my friend stated....I have a story to tell. And not because it's wrapped up in what some see as the ideal way to motherhood through pregnancy and a specific birthing experience, but rather because it gave me my daughter. It's the story of my little girl's birthday....

  • The story of the funny anticipation on Jon's face when I woke him from a dead sleep saying with excitement and some fear, "I think my water just broke!" The excitement of telling our friends and family that the day has finally come... Baby Oren was on its way. The fear and panic I felt at various times during my 24 hours of hard labor and how I looked over at Jon and said, "Please, just come close to me" and held his hand. The funny things we laughed at while I pushed for 3 hours, such as, "Babe, is this grossing you out?" The nervousness I saw in Jon's face when things weren't moving along during the 3 hours of pushing and my pain became unmanageable. The alone time we had together to talk about what we already knew- a c-section was necessary. The sadness and disappointment I felt when we realized that the ending would be different than I imagined. The relief I felt that it was almost all over and we would soon meet our baby. The annoyed feeling that the doctor "slipped" and told us it was a boy when we didn't want to know the sex, that melted into a giggle from me when she walked out of the room to get the surgery room set up and Jon said, "Well! I guess we're having a boy! My laughter as Jon walked out of the bathroom in his scrubs for the surgery and my great protest of the marshmallow hat I had to wear that wasn't flattering my already red face and smudged make-up from tears and 24 hours of labor. The panic and excitement I felt being wheeled away down the hall... it would be minutes, mere minutes, and my baby would be here. The apprehension I felt about being cut open and the possibility they would need to put me completely out if the meds didn't work. The relief I felt when they started the surgery, I couldn't feel it, and I knew I would get to stay awake. The extreme exhaustion I felt as I giggled and said out loud, "How terrible is it that my baby is about to come out and I might fall asleep right here, right now!"How great I felt when during the surgery my doctor used the pronouns he, him, and then said boy- and everything was going okay, I'd see him any second now! How confused I was when she said, "Girl- it's a girl!" and then how delighted I was for such a surprise. How I heard a smile in Jon's voice as he softly repeated, "A little girl!" How over the moon I felt as the tears streamed down my face, "It's a girl!" How fun it was to call her by her name for the first time. How we couldn't wait to share our news. How we were overjoyed at the addition to our family. How sweet it was when Jon walked into the recovery room holding our baby girl and put her in my arms again. How I knew in my heart I always longed for Jon to be a daddy to a little girl. How loved and protected I felt by Jon as he cared for both Evie and I over the next several days. How amazing the stories of both of our children are. How blessed we truly are...

So, what started out as a wonderful birth experience via c-section, turned into weeks where I felt discouraged listening to the focus of a baby's arrival on the birth experience rather than the baby itself. I hadn't felt that way before, and I found myself growing angry for these situations clouding how beautifully I viewed my daughters birth. For that, I needed to repent. God holds the stories of our lives... Mekonen's, Evie's, and any other future children He blesses us with, whether He has them arrive via adoption, c-section, or vaginally. Who the heck cares!!! 

Pregnancy and Birth do not "create" Motherhood. My children create Motherhood. And they each have a story to tell. My stories are my life lessons... and in the recent story of my daughter, I have learned a great lesson about family and Motherhood, no matter what road takes you there. I have learned to see Mother's Day with love and gratitude for my Mom, with a sensitive heart for the birthmothers of adoption, and the sadness Mother's Day can bring to those waiting for children to bless their homes, and for those longing for eternity when they can see their mothers again. 

Their stories are my life lessons. My children created Motherhood...


Joy? Osama Bin Laden?

I have been deeply troubled by many responses from Christians, people who love and serve Jesus, about the death of Osama Bin Laden. My heart grieves over the comments, statements, and "celebrations" that are so contrary to the Gospel we all cling to.

While celebrating over the death of Osama Bin Laden might seem and feel like the right thing to do, as Christians who love Jesus, we are called to something greater.

"Truth be told, Osama Bin Laden deserves death and eternal damnation, as do you and I.

We are more murderous and hateful like Bin Laden than we are holy and perfect like God (Matthew 5:21-22). We are all guilty of treason against God and our neighbor, and because of the work of Jesus on the cross, God has mercy on the evildoers that repent, including ourselves.

We are called to love our enemy by Jesus himself. (Matthew 5:43-46). Because we fail to do this on a regular basis, and with Osama Bin Laden, we need to repent. And when we repent, God is merciful and gracious to forgive us. We should be thankful that God died a murderer's death in our place."

As a pastor we love says, "Are you looking for vengeance or justice? They are not the same thing and can be easily confused. The difference is seen at the heart level and vengeance is contrary to the Gospel. The appropriate Christian response lives in the tension of Proverbs 11:10 and Proverbs 24:17.

Proverbs 11:10 - When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
Proverbs 24:17 - Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, & let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.

These verses elicit mixed emotions: the joy of justice enacted and the sorrow at the reality of destruction. The relief that accompanies the news of Osama's death should be without vengeance (Deut. 32:35), yet tempered with regret at the death of any image-bearer of God."

We are called to be like Jesus and to have the heart of Jesus. Jesus does not long for any to perish, but for all to inherit the kingdom of God.

Ezekiel 33:11 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.

Our response to Osama Bin Laden's death should not be one of joy.

Instead we should be thankful that God is JUST, and very thankful that God is GRACIOUS. 

So fellow Christians, brothers and sisters in Jesus, it's important to remember that ultimately, everything we say and do points people either to or away from the saving Gospel of Jesus.

(Thoughts and quotes take from Resurgence)



Wow...where have my days gone! Easter was over a week ago! We have had a non-stop influx of friends and family stopping by and visiting to celebrate in the arrival of Miss Evie. It has been insanely busy, but so great. We wouldn't have it any other way! So in light of that, here's Easter, over a week late! :) 
Every year, even at 28 years old, Easter comes with new meaning as I continue to grow in my understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Jon and I have been learning so much lately about how the Gospel (which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) should be affecting our every day lives. It's not just the fact that Christians have been forgiven of their sins, which is incredible! But if we only see that half of the Gospel, then we tend to live with a sense of inadequacy and guilt over our sin because it is impossible for us to live up to the perfect example of Jesus. 
Many Christians, myself included, have a default setting that makes us want to live by half of the Gospel, remembering that God has paid our debt. But we don't live in the freedom that has brought. Instead, we try our best to "be like Jesus." We make the Bible and its guidance for the Christian life into a list of do's and don'ts, morality stories, and ways to just "get better." But that is not the full Gospel, and it’s not Jesus. It’s religion. Jesus rebukes “religion” and the Pharisees throughout the New Testament. If you approach Jesus in a “religious” sense you will either become arrogant and prideful for “doing the 'right' things” or you will become hopeless for failing. 
The second half of the Gospel we often miss is that in addition to forgiveness of our sins, we have been given Jesus and his righteousness! We have access to a personal relationship with the living God! This is how the Gospel affects everyday living. Yes, through the power of the Holy Spirit we strive to overcome sin in our lives. The Bible says that those who put their faith in Jesus are new creatures who have the power to resist sin (1 Corinthians 5:17). The power that helps us to be obedient to God, comes from God and we access it by nourishing our trust relationship with Jesus through prayer, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship. These things do not bribe God into acting favorably towards us. Instead they help us to see God's purposes, embrace them, and the blessings they provide. But be careful, because here, our hearts can turn towards "religion" again. Prayer, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship do not earn us God's blessings rather "they guide us into paths where God's grace has planted His blessings." 
So here I am, at 28, still learning how the Gospel (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) has impact on my daily life. It's freeing, it's exciting, and it's a reason to celebrate! Easter is so important because without the cross and resurrection we have no way, no hope, and no means, to be like Jesus. Easter is about Jesus and the Gospel and therefore, we celebrate with great joy.

Mekonen checking out his Easter basket. He had no idea what it was, but was very excited about the Pixar Cars window cling-ons (that we actually stick to the dryer not the windows. He loves it). 
Every year we look forward to Auntie Jess coming from Chicago to spend Easter with us.
Love the fact that we live near Grandparents and that our babes get to spend time with them. Here's little Miss Evie Rae with her Grandpa.
Aunt Lindsay came from Florida to meet Evie.
 Aunt Meghan and cousin Owen came from Virginia to meet Evie.
 Cousin Lenny meets Evie.
Auntie Jess, Evie & Mommy
Mekonen entertaining the masses: Owen, Grandma Magz, and Aunt Martha.
The Easter egg hunt at Grandma's was hilarious. Owen knew exactly what to do and was racing around the yard looking for eggs. Mekonen was entirely confused! It took him awhile to figure out. We had to divide up the eggs later because Owen had gotten so many more than Meko! Haha. I wonder what was going through his little mind when we were all yelling and cheering for him to run and pick up these plastic things all over the place. 
Now he's got it! He is on a mission!
Checkin' out their loot!
Grandpa and his boys.
 Later during the week a bunch of Jon's extended family came for a visit. Can't believe everyone is looking and smiling! Especially the kids!
 And I cannot believe how good this picture of the three cousins came out! They are all actually looking and smiling (sort of Evie-hehe).